Self-Soothing or Learned Helplessness?

Disclaimer: This opinion piece may offend some people. If you’re not open to an alternative argument and you’d rather just read something that confirms what you believe – and what you believe is that picking up a fussy infant will spoil her – you probably won’t get much out of this except a blood-pressure spike.

Also, this is just me stating my opinion based on what I know about child development and what I believe spiritually (since, y’know, this is my spirituality blog).I’m not going to say I want you to feel free to dismiss my thoughts; I want my readers to really consider the logic of what I have to say and test it in their own minds. But you don’t have to accept what I say on faith; just think about it.

Because let’s be perfectly clear: I’m going to lay out the thinking behind why I don’t agree with leaving infants to self-soothe or “cry it out” instead of picking them up.

Infant crying.

Image via Cute Babies.

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Oh, Snap!

This showed up on Failbook today. I think it pretty much speaks for itself.

funny facebook fails - BOOM, HEADSHOT!
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God Needs Gluten

Communion hosts

Image via There Will Be Bread.

Apparently there’s been a controversy in the local newspaper about gluten-free communion hosts for people with celiac disease. Since I don’t receive the local paper, I’ve been in ignorance . . . until my local Catholic Church provided a response in this week’s church bulletin. The response is basically a theological response that tells us why low-gluten communion hosts are inadmissible in Catholic liturgy, and why it doesn’t really matter.

The basic argument for how it doesn’t matter is pretty convincing: at our church we use a type of wafer with a celiac-safe gluten level (0.001%) specially developed by Benedictine nuns and considered glutenous enough to be theologically valid, as far as the Vatican is concerned. So we do have a lower-gluten host available, and we’re offering it. Nice and tidy little non-issue.

But then on the other hand, the argument for why a gluten-free host would be inadmissible doesn’t make a lot of sense at all.

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Sober Second Thoughts on Warming Up Winter

Just the other day, I was excitedly posting about a crafter who knit a bunch of hats and then hung them up all around her downtown core so homeless people could take them and use them to warm up over the winter months. I was psyched about the possibility of bringing a similar project to the nearest big city to me (that’s Toronto, Ontario, Canada). And I wrote that post calling on all my crocheting and knitting friends to join me in yarn-bombing downtown Toronto.

Mittens over her eyes

Image via Makool Loves You.

But after I finished it, I didn’t feel quite so good about it. It gradually dawned on me that the whole idea seemed to be all show and no substance.

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Warming Up Winter

I’m crafty. I do a huge range of different types of crafts, from needlecraft to papercraft to . . . well, anyway. For the purposes of this post, here’s what you need to know: I knit and crochet.

Which is why I’m so captivated by this idea from a craft forum one of my friends came across. (Tip of the hat to Drumrider.) The basic premise: a crafter in California used remnant yarn she had stashed to make a bunch of hats, which she then spread around downtown San Diego – pinned to posts, tied to fences, left on shrubs. Every one of them had a tag that said “FREE!” and was left for somebody with a cold head to pick up. What a cool idea!

Free hats for the homeless

Image via Craftser.

I’d already been planning to make a bunch of scarves to donate to an appropriate charity this time next year, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to distribute them. This seems like a wonderful idea! And I mean, the brilliant knitting maven who came up with it thought it was chilly in San Diego . . . but I live in Ontario, Canada! Talk about cold!

So here’s my proposal, and I’d especially like all my knitting and crocheting friends to pay attention: I think we should do something similar for people in need around the Toronto area. (Or if you want to propose another place that has a huge poverty problem, I’m amenable. I just picked Toronto because it’s big, familiar, and known to have many homeless people.) I’m thinking scarves, hats, mitts, gloves, socks, whatever: anything that people need when it’s cold outside.

I propose that we spend one year crafting some pretty, uplifting, and above all WARM winter wear, and then around this time next year (perhaps a little earlier) we get together to check out each other’s handiwork, attach similar tags, and then yarn-bomb the city with gifts to bring warmth to the people who need it most. No religious agenda, no fanfare, no controversy – just the knowledge that we have enough to keep ourselves warm, and winter wear as a gift for those who don’t.

I’ve never done anything like this before, but I hope you’ll join in and help me warm up the winter for 2011. Maybe it won’t make a difference to everybody . . . but it can make a difference to somebody.

Mittens with a heart

Image via Lauren Elise Crafted.

Can’t Call Me Catholic

Pregnant belly

Image via The God Murders.

I found the story on Beliefnet’s Belief Beat: St. Joseph’s Hospital has been stripped of its Catholic affiliation. (I wonder if the hospital will have to change its name.) Their crime? The hospital’s doctors performed an abortion on a woman who’d been pregnant for eleven weeks because the pregnancy was threatening her life. As blogger Nicole Neroulias observed (a little more sarcastically than I would’ve expected in the site’s news section):

Apparently, the hospital should have allowed her to die, rather than┬áreturn to her four children at home. Or, perhaps St. Joseph’s could have transferred her someplace that wouldn’t have to answer to religious authorities. God forbid — literally — we leave medical decisions to the doctors and patients.
I felt for this woman and her family, very deeply. I’ve never been pregnant and I can’t swear as to what I’d do if I found myself forced to make that kind of choice. Would I die so my baby could live? And if I did, then who would take care of my baby? I’ll tell you one thing, though – I highly doubt that one partially-gestated foetus could get me to risk abandoning four already-born babies who are counting on me to care for them and help them navigate through this life. There’s no way I’d advise somebody’s mother to risk her life rather than having an abortion.
But apparently a good Catholic would go further than advising and outright demand it. In fact, if the hospital had been following official Church teaching, they would have forbidden any other course of action. She’d have had to either seek help elsewhere or play Russian roulette with the life of her children’s mother.

“Mister Bishop was lost for all eternity . . . but YOU don’t have to be!”

Great news today! While out running errands, my husband found a Chick tract by an ATM machine and brought it home for my collection. And it’s one of the really good ones, with demons and angels and people who don’t behave at all realistically. It’s a riot! Submitted for the approval of the Crazy Fundie Society, we call this story . . .

Chick Tract: The Assignment

Image via

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Celebrating Advent (Realistically)

"Jesse Tree" by Delaire Rowe

Image via Memphis Marsha's Art Gallery & Classes.

Until last year, I had never realized there were Christian traditions out there that made a very careful distinction between Advent and the Christmas season. But last year I’d joined the First Communion Prep team at my little Anglo-Quebecois parish, and all of a sudden, I was part of one.

And they were dead serious about it. I wanted to institute a “giving tree” for the parish to collect items for a local women’s shelter, and the priest gave his blessing – but it couldn’t be a Christmas tree. Ever tried to scour Wal-Mart for an Advent Tree? It’s nothing but naked branches! I found one, though, and the endeavor was a success. We had a Jesse tree, too – though I’m not sure the kids get what that’s all about – and an Advent calendar from World Vision or some other organization with ideas for collecting money each day of the season. (“Put 5 cents in the jar for each toy car you own”; “There are x doctors for every y people in Zambia. Put $1 in your jar for a child to visit a doctor”; and so forth.) Advent wreaths were de rigeur, lit in church every Sunday and also to be lit in the home. Until December 24, there was not a manger or poinsettia or Christmas light to be found.

And then suddenly, an elite task force swarmed in to dress things up for the Midnight Mass. Instant Christmas.

This year, the struggle for Advent has made it to the media limelight, along with all those “War on Christmas” stories you hear where the ACLU bans a nativity scene here or some store tells their employees to say “Happy Holidays” there, or – God forbid! – somebody writes “Merry X-mas!” in a Christmas card. In a culture where many of us have been shopping under red and green garlands since All Saints’ Day, some denominations are getting counter-cultural by delaying their festivities until the very last moment. Check out some of these Advent-related stories from around the blogosphere:

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Can Kitties Wear Condoms?

In practical terms, obviously they cannot. Cat-sized condoms do not exist, and cats lack both the manual dexterity and neurological abilities to make barrier methods of contraception practical. Any methods of contraception, in fact – except of course those chosen by pet owners.

Which is why PETA and other animal-rights organizations advocate spaying and neutering your pets, so they can’t propagate new populations of animals that will suffer on the streets or end up needlessly euthanized in overcrowded animal shelters.

And because condoms are in the news lately, thanks to the Pope’s recent remarks on condom use, PETA has decided to make the point in a new ad campaign using the image of the Pope to remind pet owners that it’s our responsibility to ensure our pets don’t reproduce.

PETA ad: "Dogs and cats can't use condoms. Spay or neuter your pets."

Image via Politics Daily.

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Little Girl, Get Up: Awakening, Freedom, and Bodhi Day

Okay. So Jews have Hanukkah. Hindus have Diwali. Christians, obviously, celebrate Christmas. Pagans kick back even further in time and celebrate what Christmas was before it had Christian symbolism attached: they call that Yule. Africans have Kwanzaa, though technically Africa is not a religion. And Muslims have Ramadan, even if it doesn’t always fall neatly in the time period we’ve designated as “the holiday season”.

But am I the only one who never heard of the Buddhists’ December holiday?

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