2017 Classics Reading Challenge

I’ve decided to join a reading challenge for this year. My brother said he was doing the Classics reading challenge, and since I want to catch up on some classics (or reread some good ones), I decided to join him in this. Now I just have to decide which books I’ll read! Here are the categories:

  1.  A 19th Century Classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899.

    2.  A 20th Century Classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

    3.  A classic by a woman author.

    4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories).

    5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category.

    6.  A romance classic. I’m pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.

    7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads.

    8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two CitiesThree Men in a Boat, The Nine Tailors, Henry V, Fahrenheit 451, etc.

    9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It can be an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name in the title. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc.

    10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

    11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.

    12. A Russian Classic2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author.

No Complaining

I don’t know quite how it began. I complained a little about this, maybe even in jest, then about that, then I was looking out for the negative things, just so I could complain about them. I found I wasn’t as positive as I’d once been, and kept complaining about more and more. Until one day I realized I was just becoming more and more negative, and that that isn’t who I want to be.

See, complaining really does change one’s outlook. If I’m always looking for things to complain about, then I’m missing all the good. The problem is that complaining and looking for the bad becomes an ingrained habit. So how does one replace a bad habit with a good one? I’ve personally decided that every time I complain, or am tempted to do, I should instead find two things to praise and be thankful for. Of course, I can’t just do it on my own, so I also ask for God’s grace to be able to do this. I trust that, with His help, this, and any other obstacles in my spiritual life, can be overcome. Here’s to no more complaining.

The Illusion of Choice

Pre Roe v Wade – a woman is in a difficult situation. Deadbeat partner, not enough money, abuse, or just alone, and pregnant. Her choices? Continue the pregnancy, or find someone willing to perform an illegal, and dangerous, abortion. The underlying problems remain, and she still has little to no support, with or without the abortion.

Post Roe v Wade – a woman is in a difficult situation. Deadbeat partner, not enough money, abuse, or just alone, and pregnant. Her choices? Continue the pregnancy, or go to a provider for a legal abortion, most of which are safer for her (though never completely safe). The underlying problems, however, remain, and she is likely to still have little to no support, with or without the abortion.

I long for real choice. I long for the time when a woman is in a difficult situation and instead of society saying, “we won’t help with your abuse, or mental health, or financial woes, or find a support team for you, but we’ll end your pregnancy for you,” we say, “hey, we’re here for you. You need help getting out? We can do that. You need help paying the rent or buying food? We can do that. You need a community to help you? We’re here!” I’m not naive – I know this isn’t going to magically take care of all problems, nor will it be easy. But until then, I don’t see real choices, just different ways women and families aren’t supported.

Update: I shouldn’t say that I don’t see any real choices, as Catholic Charities does provide that help. More is needed, though, and many women are not aware of this support. I also feel we need more federal support (for example, paid maternity leave).

2nd update: I know I’m just discouraged of late because I keep hearing how women need abortion because of these bad situations. I hate that it’s seen as a need. I know just having support isn’t always enough. I pray for all in these situations, and for the babies.

Vote Trump or the Baby Gets It

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I just saw this meme, and I can’t tell you how offensive I find it to be. Offensive? Yes, offensive.

So, why is it offensive? First, because it’s trying to guilt people into voting Trump by implying it’s the only way to save babies. Never mind that Trump is hardly convincing on being pro-life, that the Senate may very well not be Republican any longer (and therefore his Court appointments might not go through as he says), or that his other policies are the very antithesis of being pro-life. No, you have to vote Trump or else you’re a heartless person who wants babies to die.

I strongly feel that the pro-life movement is becoming a laughingstock by saddling itself with Trump. Certainly my friends and acquaintances who are not in the pro-life movement and are looking at it now are baffled and find it to have lost credibility. How can we champion life while also defending someone who has made inexcusable statements about so many and who refuses to condemn the violence his statements have spawned?

Look, I’m not saying “vote Clinton! Who cares about babies?!” I am saying that neither of them is pro-life, and you shouldn’t be guilted into voting for one based on that false premise. Inform your conscience and vote, but remember that it is also an option to vote 3rd party or abstain from voting for president if you wish. You don’t have to vote the lesser of 2 evils, and no one can make you go against your (informed) conscience when it comes to voting.

Being Pro-Life for the Poor

Some thoughts I’ve had on what it means to be pro-life for those who are not financially well-off:

Republicans tend to be in favor of banning abortion (good), but not so keen on helping families through public assistance, which means the reasons some get abortions are being ignored. For example, my state (with a Republican government) did not expand Medicaid, so if you make more than 33% of the FPL, but under 100%, then you cannot get Medicaid. They will pay for “family planning services,” so they’ll help make sure you don’t get pregnant, but won’t provide actual medical care (unless you do get pregnant). I keep reading about how the infant mortality rate in the state is too high, and how that could be lowered if women would get pre-conception medical care, but no one seems to understand that women aren’t just forgoing medical care for the fun of it, but because they can’t afford it.

Democrats, on the other hand, tend to be good about providing government programs for the poor (good), but also push for abortion and Clinton even wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment would allow Medicaid to pay for abortions, which seems to me would make those who are poorer feel more pressured to abort.

We need to recognise the struggles of those who are poorer. We need to provide support for them, so they don’t feel like their only choice is abortion. Being pro-life can’t start and end with banning abortion, but needs to encompass more than that.

Seeing Parenting Through the Eyes of God

My threenager got angry with me and screamed “I don’t even love you! I’m never going to love you! You aren’t mine anymore!” Words that hurt more than he knows, even though I know he doesn’t actually mean those words (thank God). I know he’s just angry because he had to wait for something he wanted.

As I quietly responded with, “I love you. I will always love you,” I thought of all the times I effectively tell God I don’t love Him. When I don’t feel like spending time with Him, when I get angry and scream in my head. I know, in those moments, He is quietly telling me, “I love you. I will always love you.” I may not want to hear it at those times, just like my child doesn’t want to hear me say it to him when he’s angry, but I know He says it. I know He holds me, like I hold my son at those times, even while he flails and screams louder.

Knowing that makes my heart hurt more. I know how much my heart hurts to hear my son say such things to me – how much more must God’s heart hurt, with so many of us telling Him we don’t love Him at times? And so, when my son says that to me, I try to think of God, and to hold Jesus and lean on Him, just being with Him and consoling Him in that way.

That makes it sound like I have it all figured out, but I don’t. But I’m learning – learning about how His heart must break for us, even as He continually reaches out to hold us while we fight. I never knew how much being a parent would teach me about love and pain and God. While I hate being screamed at like that, I can also thank God for the opportunity to learn this kind of love, to thank God for my (minuscule) sharing in the cross.

My Method’s Better than Yours!

Quick, go to any NFP forum and see how long it takes before someone claims their method is hands-down, objectively, THE best method in the whole universe. It won’t take you long to find such a post, I can just about promise.

Instead of that argument, I tend to start a different one. Even though I’m an NFP instructor (I teach the Billings Ovulation Method), I do not believe one method is absolutely and everywhere better than another. Admitting this, and that I have and will refer clients to instructors in other methods when needed, starts this other argument.

It’s one I’m happy to have, though, because I think we lose sight of the goal of helping women when we argue about which method is best. In my opinion, the best method is the one that works best for that woman at that time, where she is knowledgeable of the method and supported in it.

So what does that look like? Well, while all the methods can be used from menarche to menopause, the different circumstances the woman encounters in her personal life, and the way her body responds to those changes, can make one method easier (better?) than another for her at that time. At a different point in life, she may find a different method works better for her.

For example, even though I know all the science behind Billings and that it is objectively a good method, if the woman is not at all confident in trusting her own (subjective) mucus observations, then the method isn’t going to work for her. At such a time, I feel it can be better to refer to, say, a method with a monitor, where she doesn’t have to rely on her subjective observations and there is less chance for user error. Or maybe she feels she needs another sign to cross-check. I will, of course, try to help her gain confidence in Billings first, and will continue to support her in that method if it’s what she prefers, but I won’t hesitate to refer to another method if I see that it will mean less stress for her.

So what’s the best method? The one she likes best and learns best at that time. Let’s end the method wars.

via Daily Prompt: Argument