Saturday, December 15, 2007

Free Choice

We have been the laughing stock of many people when they discover that we have six children as it is very unusual for a family with professional working couple to have so many children.

Some who know a bit about natural planning would snigger and laugh at the failure of this method. Others mistake this method as the unreliable rhythm method.

When we were planning to get married, we decided to examine all possible option of family planning. Of course being in the Catholic Church, we were encouraged to consider the option of natural family planning (NFP).

After reading up on the various methods of family planning, we discovered that artificial birth control(ABC) like the pills, IUD and abortion have several side effects that are not usually presented to women and so many were not given an informed choices.

For example, if you accept the premises that life is conceived when fertilization takes place or at the moment of conception, then you will not consider the use of IUD. An IUD or Intrauterine Device is a small piece of plastic which contains either copper or the hormone progesterone. The IUD prevents pregnancy by many mechanisms including preventing fertilization of an egg by sperm or preventing implantation. This means that if conception does take place, the foetus is not given a chance to survive.

We also decided not to use the pill or condom because of the side effects associated with these form of contraception.

We finally decided on the natural family planning method not because the Catholic Church said so but because it does not have any side effect. It does not harm the man nor the woman’s body and best of all this form of family planning ensure that we have a healthy sex life.

After practicing NFP for the past twenty years, I can safely says that this method has contributed to ensure that we are constantly and consistently attracted to each other sexually.

You see, sex is like eating durian. Many of us love the taste of durian and the first bite is the most exquisite. Yet after eating five or six durians, the law of diminishing returns set in and you begin to get tired of the durian. However, if you pace yourself and do not stuff durian down your throat then your desire for durian will last a long time.

It is the same with sex. If you can have sex anytime, anywhere and any how, the sense of excitement will diminish over the years. Often a woman using ABC would feel that she is nothing more then a sex object existing just to satisfy the man.

With NFP, we are trained to identify the period when a woman is fertile and so we can exercises the option not to have sex during this period so that we do not conceive. During this period of waiting, our sexual passion is simmering like a good pot of stew slowly stewing over a fire. When the fertile period is over, it is fun time. We can enjoy sex freely without the worry of any health concern or side effects that ABC brings.

With NFP, I am assured that my husband do not use me as a sexual object to satisfy his animal instinct as he is called to scarify during the period when I am fertile. By this action, he also assure me that the chance of his having affair is not high as he is given the opportunity to discipline his sexual appetites. Because we have to wait for the infertile periods to have sex, our sexual desire increases for each other.

Far from restraining our sex life, NFP if practiced with the appropriate attitude, free us from behaving like animal. Instead NFP has helped to keep the passion of fire burning for the past twenty years.

If you do not believe me, just ask anyone who is using ABC if they and see if their sex life is still so exciting after twenty years with the same person.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What’s wrong with the Golden Compass?

During this school holidays, my daughter and some of her friends from Church decided to check out the movie The Golden Compass. They have received an email explaining why Catholic should not view this movie.

When she came back from the movie, we asked her how the movie was and she said that it was just a fantasy movie and did not see why some Catholic has called for the boycott.

Being a teenager, we know that our daughter would not accept our explanation if we put our foot down against her reading the book which would be a natural follow-up to watching the movie.

So we decided to watch the movie ourselves and we were troubled by some of the ideas that were seeping through the mask of entertainment.

According to the Catholic League of America

"It is [Mr. Pullman's] objective to bash Christianity and promote atheism to kids.

"The Golden Compass" is a film version of the book by that name, and it is being toned down so that Catholics, as well as Protestants, are not enraged.
The second book of the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, is more overt in its hatred of Christianity than the first book, and the third entry, The Amber Spyglass, is even more blatant.

Because "The Golden Compass" is based on the least offensive of the three books, and because it is being further watered down for the big screen, some might wonder why parents should be wary of the film.

The Catholic League wants Christians to stay away from this movie precisely because it knows that the film is bait for the books: unsuspecting parents who take their children to see the movie may be impelled to buy the three books as a Christmas present. And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books."

I am glad that we did not forbid her to watch the film based on what we have read from the Catholic League. If we had done that she would have judged us to be no better then the Magisterium.

But what is the Magisterium? To answer that question we have to examine the book in which this movie was based.

The book, published in 1995, is an allegory that assault the concept of organized religion -- more specifically, any religion that rules by fiat and claims an exclusive pipeline to the truth. The book describes a world ruled by a pious, punitive outfit called the Magisterium where its leaders try to repress knowledge in the name of protecting humanity. It main aim is to crush curiosity and freethinking and tighten the Magisterium's grip on power.

The Catholic League had issued a press release warning that the "watered down" theology of the film will lead unsuspecting parents to take their kids to "The Golden Compass," which will lead the kids to ask for the books for Christmas. "And no parent who wants to bring their children up in the faith will want any part of these books," the statement read.

After watching the movie we could explain to our daughter the concerns that we had with this movie.

We felt that the Magisterium is a thinly disguised reference to the authority of the Catholic Church. The movie encouraged the heroine to exercises free will without considering the consequence of her choices.

Yes at times the Catholic Church may seem autocratic especially when it speaks out against abortion, non-material sex and contraceptives. We explained that we choice to follow the Catholic Church teaching because it has never stop us from exercising our free will but it has always reminded us that the use of our free willing will always has it consequences. For example, the use of birth control has series and sometime harmful side effect for the woman but it has never been actively considered by those who want to have sex anywhere, anytime and any how.

We felt that the movie encourages the value of exercising free will for the sake of being free to do what one wishes without the consideration of the consequences that it will bring.

In the movie, the heroin Lyra asked what Dust was. This is answered in book three entitled The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 2 and I quote:

"The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty - those were all names he gave himself.

He was an angel like ourselves - the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.

Matter loves matter. It seeks to know more about itself, and Dust is formed. The first angels condensed out of Dust, and the Authority was the first of all. He told those who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie."

In Book 2 entitled The Subtle Knife, it was explained how God can be killed

"'The knife,' he went on after a minute, 'they never knew what they were making, those old philosophers. They invented a device that could split open the very smallest particles of matter, and they used it to steal candy. They had no idea that they'd made the one weapon in all the universes that could defeat the tyrant. The Authority. 'God.”

I am glad that my husband and I embarked on this journey with our daughter together. We deiced to let her watched the movie when she asked our permission and did not talk down to her with our concern about the movie. Instead we watched it too and so could explained with conviction and confident why this movie is a concern for us with respect to the nurturing of her Catholic faith.

We believe our daughter should be given the freedom to question, to examine and to challenge those of us who are in authority. This does not mean that we are encouraging her to be disrespectful but through this process of inquiry she will be able to discover the truth instead of having the truth ramp down her throat.

As parents, one of our most important roles is to listen to our children first when they have doubts, concerns and questions. We should not be too eager to expound, explain or elucidate to them before they complete their inquiry as this will only serve to widen the generation gap. Only by offering a listening ear, we will be able to close this gap.