Thursday, 20 December 2007

Miracle on 96th St.

My son, Steve Sutherland, works for a non-profit organization in Edmonton, Alberta that deals with the challenges of immigrants and refugees locating in Canada. Today he sent the email message below to a number of his colleagues plus his sister and parents. I can't think of a better way to wish you a blessed Christmas, and a New Year full of opportunities to show love and kindness to the marginalized and vulnerable.

God bless you all.


Subject A modern day Widow's Mite

Mark 12:42-44 “A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling his disciples to him, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.’”

Over the last couple of days CHED 630 here in Edmonton has been reporting a local story originating from a Mustard Seed Church supporter. Apparently he was delivering a Christmas donation to the Mustard Seed and was thrilled to see other cars there unloading large boxes full of donations.

As he chatted with one of the church staff, a homeless lady walked up to them pulling the obligatory shopping cart. She reached down into the cart and removed a plastic bag filled with empty soft-drink cans. She then reached in and retrieved another bag full of bottles, and handed both to the Mustard Seed staff member.

“These,” she said, before turning to leave, “are for the unfortunate people.”

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Questions that are asked during a crisis pregnancy

As noted in my last post below, I preached recently on the topic of crisis pregnancies. A woman in attendance with whom I had a subsequent conversation about the sermon consented to providing me with her thoughts in writing. This post and the previous one contain those thoughts. In this response, she lists a number of questions that will likely go through the mind of a woman in a crisis pregnancy.

I note again that the writer is herself pro-life, and a devout and mature Christian. Her words are her own and are posted here unedited. Her responses regarding government support reflect either British Columbian or Canadian law.

Questions that a single pregnant woman may have to ask herself – that might lead to her considering an abortion:

Q: Why did I do this? We were just having fun. This wasn't part of the plan.
A: Of course not. When our society socialized you to be sexual, putting you in a bikini at two and sexually provocative clothes at ten, when we asked you every year if you had a boyfriend yet, birth control and pregnancy were never mentioned.
In your family, you may not have been encouraged to plan for a career, or taught to think of your own future apart from a man. You live in a male-dominant society.

Q: Why didn't we use birth control OR how come the birth control we used didn't work?
A: When movies and advertising show sex as recreation or romance, but responsibility is not part of the package. Your school may have offered some elementary sex education, but your church probably didn't. You may not want to believe you planned to have intercourse. The romantic myth says you were caught unawares and swept away by passion, not hormones (yours) or a desire to score (his)

Q: [Possibly] Who is the father?

Q: How will he react to discovering I'm pregnant?
A: Often it will be the end of the relationship, even if you have an abortion to please him.

Q: Do I want him to be my partner and the child's live-in father, even if he wants to be?

Q: I had a couple of drinks that night. Will that affect the baby?

Q: What will my parents think? Can I keep them from knowing?

Q: What will my friends think? Will any of them stand by me?

Q: Can I keep my job? My wages are low as it is and my hours uncertain. I'm just barely getting by.
A: Birth mothers in BC are entitled to up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave plus 35 weeks of unpaid parental leave, or up to 37 weeks of unpaid parental leave if pregnancy leave is not taken (Maximum of 52 weeks) but jobs often mysteriously disappear when women in “glamour” jobs become pregnant. Maternity/parental benefits (up to 50 weeks) available to people who have worked 600 hours in the last year or since their last Employment Insurance claim, are not lavish, especially since women are streamed into low wage jobs and the average income for women, even the ones who get full time full year jobs, is only 70% of the average male wage.

Q: Can I get income assistance and stay home with the baby?
A: Yes, but your income will be about half of poverty level income, and will end when the child is 3.

Q: My apartment is crowded as it is. Can I find a bigger one that I can afford? Will landlords rent to me when they find I'm a single mother?
A: Tenants report a distinct bias against families with children, especially single mothers. There is a critical shortage of affordable housing in most cities.

Q: How much does infant care cost anyway?
A: An average of $45 a day [$600-$1000 a month, North Shore, British Columbia]

Q: Are there subsidies for childcare?
A: Limited ones. See
There is also a taxable federal benefit of $100 a month until the child is six.

Q: Are there any spaces in my neighborhood, supposing that I can afford it?
A: Investigate that ASAP. There is a severe shortage in most Canadian cities.

Q: Am I the mothering type? Especially the single mothering type?

Q: It will be twenty years before s/he's independent. By then I'll be in my forties.

Q: Can I put the child up for adoption?
A: Yes, but you may grieve all your life long. “Open” adoptions are better than closed ones, for both mother and child, but usually harder to arrange.

Q: Can I get an abortion?
A: Yes, if you make your decision early, but even if you do not have a belief that the life of an non-viable fetus is sacred, you may “never know if you've done the right thing,” [quote from a secular woman who had an abortion in order to escape from her abusive husband]

Note: These are questions for a North American middle class “white” woman. In some societies a baby has made a young woman more marriageable. In others the baby will be welcome. So the answer to John Sutherland's excellent question “Who put the crisis in crisis pregnancy?” is “We did – as a society”. Pornography, advertising and movies encourage young people to be sexual without being responsible. Then when the inevitable happens, we do not provide well for the mother and her child. We are an anti-life society.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Who Put the Crisis in Crisis Pregnancies – A response

As some readers know, I am a lay preacher. Last month I was asked to address the issue of social justice. I chose crisis pregnancies as the vehicle for examining this vital biblical topic. A woman who was in attendance at the sermon spoke to me afterwards about her reaction. I invited her to put her thoughts in writing and I would post them on my blog site. She sent me three excellent responses of varying length and content. The first of these appears below.

The writer prefers to remain anonymous. She is using Mahlah as a pseudonym. I will just say that while she was present when I spoke, she is not a member of that particular congregation. And she would describe herself as pro-life. I consider her to be a mature and devout Christian. Her thoughts are her own, and this post appears unedited.

Who put the crisis in crisis pregnancy?*

WE did, as a society. We are a male-dominant individualistic instant-gratification society, and our media have promoted irresponsible sexuality along with myths of romance that obscure real-life consequences. Then we have not made adequate provisions for the victims of our societal choices: the pregnant women and their children.

First of all we raise girls to be hyper sexual. We put our little girls in tiny bikinis. We allow our pre-teens to dress like prostitutes. Ads on TV and in print present young women as sexual prizes for men who can afford an expensive car. Male publishers (and female ones too) market women as sexually available to anyone anytime. The message is: women exist for men. It's called female subordination. Pregnancy is not part of the message. Male responsibility is not mentioned**.

So a pregnancy can be a crisis in the relationship. He never meant to be a father. She was not raised to support herself and her child(ren).

Societally, women have been streamed into low wage jobs, and although feminists have worked hard to change that, women's wages, even for those who can work full time full year, still average 70% of men's.

In addition, maternity benefits and child care provisions are still poor. For every small improvement, there seems to be a setback and except for Quebec, there aren't enough accessible regulated programs affordable to average income women. Child care subsidies are inadequate. Mr. Harper's government offered a taxable benefit of a hundred dollars a month to mothers of a child under six. My daughter's childcare expenses for her four year old are $650 a month.

So pregnancy can be an economic crisis for a woman without a partner willing to contribute financially or personally to the raising of the child. A male-dominant individualistic society leaves her and her child on her own.

People in my church are under the illusion that “the government takes care of people like her.” They are unaware that income assistance is less than half the income she requires to support herself and her child. And it ends when the child is three.

Adoption, the alternative proffered by many pro-life people, is also anti-life, particularly if the adoption is closed. It ignores the child's lifelong feelings of abandonment as well as the mother's pain.

One woman who had given up a child said to me, years later, “Every time I read about a child molested or killed I wonder, “Is that my child? “

So after one adoption, next time she will have an abortion. There often is a next time, because her grief, her low self-esteem and her lifelong training in subordination will drive her into another man's arms. As a society, we have made a “life choice” very difficult for her.

Many people see all this as “no more than she deserves,” but that's blaming the victim. A truly pro-life society would work on male responsibility, different socialization, better wages for women, more affordable regulated child care programs and improved income assistance. Changing the world is harder than we think.

* Title of a sermon by John Sutherland
**There was one beautiful billboard picturing a mother and a baby with the message: LOVE THEM BOTH. Unfortunately men probably don't learn to take responsibility by looking at a billboard.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Willy Pickton got me musing

While much of the buzz this past weekend centred on Robert (Willy) Pickton and whether the jury got it right in finding him guilty of second degree murder for killing six sex trade workers, my mind turned once again to what is for me the great conundrum--why do women run the continual risk of being neglected, disadvantaged, exploited, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by men?

Results of studies vary, but some show incidences of female child abuse as high as one in three, with the vast majority of the abusers (~80%) being their father or another male figure (stepfather, male relative, boyfriend, etc.). In about two-thirds of the cases, the abuse starts under age 11.

War typically brings with it high incidents of rape and murder of innocent women. In what should be the safest place for a woman to be--the home-- women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. If you can stomach the data, see for a lengthy survey of studies of female and male abuse in all its forms.

I've often wondered to what extent the abortion rate is just another evidence of male mistreatment of women. Here's a typical vignette:

I went to the doctor because family members had pressured me, had encouraged me. There was no "Nancy, maybe you should reconsider," because it was not my idea in the first place, it was theirs. My husband had walked out the door and deserted us. The responsibility of three children was just too much for him. And my mother said "It's obvious Nancy, no man's going to want you with three children, let alone the two you already have. You're probably not going to amount to a hill of beans and you're probably going to be on welfare the rest of your life."

The source of that quote is NancyJo Mann, founder of WEBA (Women Exploited by Abortion), describing those who influenced her to abort what would have been her third child. Note that while her mother was involved, it boiled down to whether another man would want her after her husband had walked out.

Here's another:

One night, my husband never came home. I was sure something terrible had happened to him. I called the police, to no avail. The next morning, my husband walked in the door and announced that he was in love with someone else and was leaving me. Then he was gone. It was not a gradual separation. It was a sudden, dramatic break. He also walked out of my daughters' lives. A few weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant again. I alone had to meet my children's every need -- financial, emotional and physical. I had no money, job or car. I had to ask friends to drive me to the market. The five-and-dime store refused to give me a charge account to buy school supplies for my children. I couldn't make the mortgage payments, and I had to sell my home and move into a small rental townhouse. My family was forced onto welfare. Facing another pregnancy was more than I could handle.

This anecdote comes to us from Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She may be on the other side of the life vs. abortion debate from Ms Mann, but both link their abortions, to some extent at least, to male desertion.

Jennifer O'Neil, who starred in the film Summer of '42, recounts her experience with male abuse, in a book she wrote subsequent to her abortion:

I had been engaged to an extremely powerful man for two years when I became pregnant. I was ecstatic at the idea of having a child with my fiancĂ©, a man I loved so and was finally about to marry. My joy was short-lived as I stood, frozen with horror and disbelief at his unequivocal negative response to my “good news.” In short, he promised that he would do everything in his power to emotionally and verbally coerce me into getting an abortion. If I ever insisted on carrying the baby, he swore that he would take “his” baby away from me—and assured me, in a tone of voice I had never heard him use before, that he had the political clout, financial means, and industry power to annihilate me personally and professionally.

O'Neill, who has been married nine times, has in recent years become a Christian and a pro-life activist.

Two final quotes, compliments of a society called Canada Silent No More that provides help to post-abortive women :

1. I was pressured by my boyfriend and parents to abort, but I got severe depression after the abortion and thought of committing suicide several times over the next 16 years. Not a day went by that I didn’t think of that abortion and my dead baby.

2. After the abortion she felt like a piece of dirt, used, unworthy and betrayed by her boyfriend. She got clinically depressed and would sleep all the time, she wanted to kill herself, she had deep regret and remorse about the abortion. She had nightmares and has not been able to conceive since.

Yes, these are only anecdotes. My problem is that such stories come not singly but in battalions.

It was never meant to be this way. I'm speaking biblically here, so those of faiths other than Judeo-Christianity, or of no particular faith at all, will have to bear with me. But in the biblical accounts, relationships between men and women were supposed to be ones of complete equality, intimacy and trust. The fact that my faith is seen to teach otherwise is another of Satan's great triumphs, achieved through the efforts of wrong-headed male interpretation.

Whole books are written on this topic; however, I will simply note a few bedrock biblical passages to illustrate my point that there is nothing in the Jewish or Christian scriptures that would justify men using or abusing women for their own ends, despite the many assertions to the contrary both within and without the faith. [I am deeply indebted to Dr. Roberta Hestenes for the insights that follow.]

I understand the creation and Garden of Eden stories in Genesis chaps. 1-3 as the Old Testament's grand parable, containing within them enough bedrock scriptural principles to fill a library of theological tomes. With respect to female-male equality and mutuality, here are some highlights:
  1. Gn. 1:26-30. No hint of hierarchy. God creates humankind in two sexes. To them he gives the command to steward creation.
  2. Gn. 2:20-24. Emphasis on the unity between man and woman. "At last--one like me." The description of the newly created woman being the man's helper ('helpmate' in the older biblical versions) is in no sense a term of subordination. In all but two places in which the term is used in the Old Testament, the reference is to God as the helper.
  3. If subordination was never part of the Creation story, where did it come from? With humankind's fall from grace, of course (Gn. 3:16). God's pronouncement to Eve ('Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you') is descriptive, not prescriptive. Such a relationship was never God's intention.
Even with the sin of domination and exploitation of women by men that results, Old Testament women are often seen in significant positions of authority and leadership over men; e.g., Moses' sister Miriam (Exodus 15:20); Deborah (Judges 4); Huldah (2 Kings 22). Proverbs 31 describes the "noble wife" in the most elevated terms: she augments her husband's strength; she has her own earnings and runs her own business affairs; she has a ministry of teaching; and is affirmed for her strength, diligence and hard work.

By the time of Jesus and the early apostles, female involvement in men's roles was almost routine in Christ's relationships.
  1. Luke 10:38ff. Martha bustles around doing what any good and pious Jewish woman would do under the circumstances--preparing a meal for her guests, including Jesus himself. Her sister Mary has the audacity to sit at Jesus' feet in the position of a learner and disciple--something only men would do. Martha complains that Mary is not conforming to the traditional female role, and Jesus replies: "Mary has chosen what is better."
  2. John 4:1ff. Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman and proceeds to teach her theology. Rabbis believed that to teach Torah to one's daughter was to teach lasciviousness.
  3. In some of Jesus parables, he uses a female figure as a parallel for God; e.g., the lost coin in Luke 15.
  4. After the resurrection, Jesus appears first to a woman. At that time, a woman had no standing as a witness in court. There had to be a minimum of two men. Not surprisingly when the woman told the male disciples that she had seen the resurrected Jesus, they didn't believe her.
  5. In Acts chap. 2, as Jesus' followers gather after the ascension of Christ to heaven, and experience the pouring out of the Holy Spirit's presence and power, a number of woman are present. As Peter preaches to the crowds gathering in Jerusalem for Pentecost, he quotes the Old Testament prophet Joel to the effect that both men and women would now be prophets. Subsequently we read of the apostle Philip and his four unmarried daughter who were all prophetesses--in effect, preachers (Acts 21:8-9).
This momentum towards a new paradigm of male-female relationships reaches its high point in the writings of St. Paul, regrettably almost completely misunderstood on this issue. As recorded in his letter to the Galatian Christians, chap. 3 vs. 28, he makes what would have been an incredibly startling and completely counter-culture statement (in fact, blasphemous in some ears):

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Later he refers to two female Greek converts, Euodia and Syntyche, as "women who contended at my side in the cause of the gospel" (Philippians 4:3), employing the same kind of language used to describe important male co-workers, Timothy and Barnabas, elsewhere. Nearly half of those addressed in his book of Romans are women. The teaching team of Priscilla and Aquila are referred to three times. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul turns a symbol of a husband's domination (the woman's headscarf) into a complete reverse symbol of the female worshiper's full rights to pray and prophecy publicly with the men present. Perhaps most significantly, in Romans 16:7 reference is made to Junias, a relative of Paul's who spend time in prison with him and is "outstanding among the apostles." Junias is a male name, but it is almost certainly the female name 'Junia' that was originally recorded.

Thus we have women who functioned in every important capacity in the early church: evangelists, teachers, prisoners for the faith, and even apostles.

Well that's enough to indicate my profound conviction that my faith insists on the full equality of the sexes. Beyond this, when those enculturated men would forget this and continue to take advantage of their wives, the biblical writers would warn them not to do it.
  1. Ephesians 5:21. St. Paul begins a long teaching on family relationships (often misunderstood and abused in the male's favour) by reminding his readers of his bottom line: we are to submit (subordinate ourselves) to one another out of reverence for Christ. It would have never occurred to his male readers that this was expected behaviour--quite the opposite.
  2. I Corinthians 7:4. No surprise, then, that St. Paul would mess the men's minds further with this equally revolutionary thought: "The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife."
  3. St. Peter put in his oar as well. In 1 Peter 3:7 he warns that husbands who take advantage of their physical strength and abuse their wives are cut off from God. Peter refers to the men and women as joint-heirs in the precious gift of life.
I won't get into problem passages where the apostles occasionally indicate some kind of subordination of husband and wives in their marriage roles. I understand these to be accommodations to the culture in order that the proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of the church not be hindered [The same was done concerning slaves in the little New Testament book of Jude where a runaway slave is sent back to his master, but the master is told to receive him in the identical fashion in which he would receive the apostle.] But such accommodations were surely temporary, or the fundamental premise of those same apostles (in Christ there is neither male nor female) would be meaningless.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Don't tell the Canucks, but.....

I'm an inveterate Vancouver Canucks fan. Hockey rules the universe and the Canuckleheads rule my heart. So I can only pray that I am not jinxing them by writing something favourable about the Ottawa Senators, or more specifically, the wives of a number of the Senators' players.

While this news is a bit old, it has only come to my attention lately that a number of Senators hockey wives and girlfriends, who call themselves The Better Halves, are raising money to support, among other things, a local pregnancy centre. Given the sermon on crisis pregnancies that I preached two Sundays ago and subsequently posted here in Ye Olde Blogge, I couldn't be happier that something this good could come out of Ottawa.

But once again I find myself in awe that the (so-called) pro-choice crowd has come out hard against this endeavour. The gist of their complaint is this: the centre (called the First Place Pregnancy Centre) exploits women and pressures them against having abortions.

A CBC column by a Heather Mallick (pictured) is particularly harsh in its criticism (see Hockey wives and abortion, CBC News on-line, Nov. 30, 2007). First she notes certain aspects of her worldview that give us some insight into why she said what she did:
  1. I hate picking on women. We're born at a disadvantage and in our wild flailing to stay afloat, we make such easy targets.
  2. It's bad enough that these women have hooked up with bruised artist-athletes with careers of inevitably brief span, sold by hockey corporations as if they were cans of Spam, shipped around the continent without notice, thus dooming their wives' careers from the start.
  3. But must The Better Halves bully young pregnant women during their own brush with greatness?
One has to be careful in coming to firm conclusions on the basis of a few quotes. But one does pick up some of the 'woman as victim' mentality here as a screen against which other judgments are to be made.

Secondly, she doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for professional male athletes. Or perhaps she lacks respect for those women who decide to marry these athletes at the expense of pursuing their own careers. We have no idea whether the Better Halves have made such sacrifices or not, or whether the women saw it as a sacrifice. I doubt if Ms Mallick knows either. But she is using this as her working proposition.

Third, if an organization recommends one of the choices (seeing pregnancies through with plenty of support), without recommending the other choice (aborting), they are by definition bullies, as is anyone who supports such organizations. Presumably women (who in other instances can be trusted to make decisions of all sorts) become very easily fooled, or completely craven, when they cross the thresholds of crisis pregnancy centres.

Having now demolished, through sheer logic, any arguments that might be put forward by the Better Halves or their supporters (Hint: I'm kidding here--it's the complete lack of logic that stands out), she does us a favour by revealing the "insidious means" by which crisis pregnancy centres ply their odious trade:

There are thousands of these centres across North America. They're known in the business as CPCs, as they usually have names resembling Crisis Pregnancy Centre. They have cute websites designed to appeal to teenage girls, lots of advice about boys — giggle — and sites on MySpace. They take great care to look like kindly counselling centres. In fact, they exist solely to prevent abortion.

I took a look at a number of British Columbia CPC websites. There was nary a hint of the Spice Girls and nothing that would make a person giggle. I am not saying that such don't exist, but Ms Mallick's implication that this is the norm is clearly misleading. [Gosh, a pro-choice advocate that actually misleads!! Who'd uh thunk it.]

But presumably women who can be trusted to make responsible decisions on their own can see through such stuff, right? If a girl as young as 13 can be legally allowed to decide on her own, without any parental input, to get an abortion, surely one can assume that she wouldn't be fooled by a flagrant display of Spice Girl cleavage.

Friends, I'm not just trying to be sarcastic here (although Mallick's attempt at coherent thought does invite a raucous laugh or two). I'm trying to show the complete inconsistency of Mallick's remarks. She is clearly a fanatic who is well past rational reasoning.

Here's my take. First of all, I believe that a choice has to be a fully informed choice, whether it's where to go to school, which career to pursue, whether and whom to marry, family formation and so on. So I would be very careful not to run down organizations that make an effort to explain dimensions of the various choices. To attempt to dismiss organizations I don't agree with by making up things about them, or damning them by guilt through association, or by redefining their mission for them, reflects a desire to limit rather than to promote choice. Mallick is guilty of this in spades, if her Nov. 30/07 column is any indication.

Secondly, don't push the woman as victim line and then attack organizations that attempt to meet women's needs when they truly are victimized. A great number of pregnancies are real problems for women, very often problems not of their own making. Those of the Mallick persuasion seem to be suggesting that to offer such women every possible support other than the abortion quick fix suggests ulterior motives and really keeping women from the better choice.

Nonsense. Most women in North America choose to keep their babies. Apparently the pro-life option makes sense to them. Many who have abortions subsequently regret it and feel that they were victimized by others who pushed the abortion option at them. Thousands of women are grateful that someone is willing to help them through their crisis pregnancies. For Mallick to say that such organizations only exist to stop abortions is like saying that doctors only exist to spite the morticians.

I am happy to note that the Senators' management, and the Better Halves themselves, are undeterred by the criticism and are pushing ahead with their plans. I encourage any Ottawa-area readers to throw their support behind this great endeavour.


The following appeared on the CBC website shortly after I posted the article above (see: Ottawa charity declines Sens Foundation help amid anti-abortion flap, Nov. 30/07)

An Ottawa charity facing controversy over its anti-abortion philosophy says it does not want to hurt the positive image of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, and will therefore turn down funding raised at Ottawa Senators games.

First Place Pregnancy Centre said it recognizes "the incredible work and generosity" of the Sens Better Halves, the wives and girlfriends of the Ottawa Senators, who chose the centre as one of three charities they would support by selling raffle tickets at Senators home games between Nov. 29 and Dec. 22.

"However, we do not wish to interfere in even the most indirect way with the Foundation's positive image and valuable contribution to our community," said Terri Mazik, the centre's executive director, in a statement Thursday.

I greatly regret this decision personally. It hurts the image of the Ottawa Senators Foundation more when a perfectly legitimate charity caves in to bullying from an angry critic. The Senators should have insisted that the Centre take the money. No wonder so much of what passes for critique from (so-called) pro-choice advocates is effective. No one will tell the empress that she has no clothes (with apologies to Irene Mathyssen).

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

What do I know?--I'm a mere male

For much of my life I have advocated for things I really know very little about. For instance, while I have certainly spent some time in the broader economic culture as a businessperson and consultant, I have lived most of my professional life in the relative serenity of the university. There I teach students how to make an impact in a place in which I don't spend a lot of time. I have to live vicariously through businesspeople I know or read about, those for whom I've done a bit of consulting, my former students, and so on. They keep telling me that I've made a difference. I hope they're not just being polite.

I was also a school board trustee (Americans tend to use the more prosaic term school board 'member') for twenty-one years. There I helped to decide what was best for school teachers and children without ever having been an elementary or secondary teacher, and having left high school in 1965. I kept getting re-elected, so I guess I wasn't totally fouling up. But one wonders whether one is doing the right thing at times. Fortunately I slept with a school teacher routinely--my wife! Having her input certainly kept me grounded.

Similarly I post articles regarding what is best for women in crisis pregnancies without--well, you know exactly what experience I am lacking here. Despite the current shape of my stomach, I have never been pregnant. I have two wonderful children, but my contribution to the exercise of conceiving and giving birth to them was solely on the fun side.

So I often wonder why I have the temerity to be posting on life issues at all.

I was browsing recently through the website of Feminists for Life of America ( Now that was inspiring! Their vision statement is as follows:

If you believe in the strength of women and the potential for every human life.
If you refuse to choose between women and children.
If you believe no woman should be forced to choose between pursuing her education and career plans and sacrificing her child.
If you reject violence and exploitation.
Join us in challenging the status quo.
Because women deserve better choices.

The organization goes on to state what it thinks are the root causes that drive women to abortion:

Feminists for Life of America recognizes that abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. We are dedicated to systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion--primarily lack of practical resources and support--through holistic, women-centered solutions. Women deserve better than abortions.

Wonderful stuff. I could have written most of it myself, but it wouldn't have meant nearly as much. Why? Because I have always received the support I need to pursue education and career. I've never had to choose between my professional life and my children. I am a white male with an MBA from one of the best business schools in Canada. I've had it all!! Most women can't say that--not yet anyway.

So why would anyone listen to me?

At the same time as I was thinking these thoughts, I received an interesting e-mail message from a woman who was present when I preached a sermon lately on crisis pregnancies (see my post entitled 'Who put the crisis in crisis pregnancies?'). She made the following valid, in my view at least, observations:

1) There's a book out lately that argues that the feminist movement went off the rails by focusing on domestic violence instead of the broader aspects of male dominance in our society.

2) Did the pro-life movement similarly go off the rails by focusing on abortion (women and infants) instead of the broader aspects of male responsibility and social injustice?

The waters are getting deeper and deeper! I'm clearly not a candidate to replace Oprah on the women's issues beat.

But all kidding aside, I do feel somewhat at a loss at times to know what is important to emphasize, to explore, to denounce. Without female input of all kinds, I'm really speaking somewhat second hand.

So I've invited the woman quoted above to do a guest post in the near future. I hope she accepts. I also plan to turn my mind more to topics where I feel on surer ground--social injustice and male responsibility.

Stay tuned.