Friday, June 21, 2013

The Dark Matter of Love

Perhaps you have, in anticipation, lovingly prepared a nursery, peeked in from time to time, sometimes lingering to sit in a rocking chair, hugging a bear, and imagining . . .

I carried three babies to term, and one who didn't make it in the complicated gestational process. Although I was thankful for the healthy ones, it is devastating to lose a child for whom you have longed.

My forth child came to us through adoption. As soon as I saw his pictures, I was in love, again, and the "nesting" began anew. I obsessed about Roma, prayed for him, shared his photo with anyone nice enough to take a peek. This feisty seven-year-old was my boy. Now, if you experienced our adoption process, or read my book, But the Greatest of These is Love, you might be saying, "But Debbie, that is not how I remember it." True, at first I did  wrestle with God for planning my life without consulting with me, but even so, something happened when  I saw Roma's photos. If you have adopted, you probably understand this! I think the same thing happens when you see the new, detailed ultrasound photos of your baby.

We hosted Roma when he visited with a group of older Russian orphans for a week in November, 2001. As soon as he returned to Russia, I counted down the days until I could go retrieve him from half a world away. I stubbornly willed him to look often at the family photo album I filled of Roma's visit that fall. I wanted him to have hope. Someone loved him; he had a family.

Now I image that longing to reconnect playing out in 300 families who were scheduled to return to get their children in Russia when the adoption ban in January shattered their dreams.

It is devastating to lose a child for whom you have longed.

It is one thing to lose a child through miscarriage, and another, through forbidden access when grown, powerful men use vulnerable, orphaned, children of their own country as political pawns to avenge a perceived insult. Originally, the ban in December, 2012, was said to be in retaliation for restrictions against Russia for human rights violations. Now it is supposedly because Russian officials worry about the safety of their orphans after 20 children have died after being adopted by American families. Sixty-thousand Russian children have been adopted by Americans in the past two decades. The United States is the most common destination for adopted Russian children.

This morning, June 20, 2013, this article appeared in the Washington Post. One family's fight for one of the 300 is over because their chosen two-year-old girl with Downs Syndrome died in her orphanage. But the fight continues for many others.

As hopeless as the situation seems to most, there are some people who cannot sit by and wait. Sarah McCarthy, a British filmmaker has inspired a petition to congress insisting the President Obama negotiate with Putin about the ban. Her recent video was not originally intended to highlight the plight of the 300 families left in limbo, but  it might become a vehicle to do just that. The Dark Matter of Love began before the ban took effect and does not mention the ban. The video instead looks at human development and the critical need for love and bonding, and the challenges of adoption due to the lack of love. But a project of this magnitude, and hopeful consequences, takes time and money. Russians will be able to see the film June 25 for the first time at the Moscow International Film Festival. In the spotlight of the Russian press, American families fighting to bring their children home will be able to appeal directly to the Russian officials involved in the ban.  McCarthy is trying to raise money to take the film across all of Russia and the U.S. to raise awareness. Here is McCarthy's recent update on the progress of the video.

Please consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign during the next two weeks only. God is in the business of adopting. If you have been affected by adoption, please donate to this cause. And as a matter of fact, we have ALL been effected by adoption.

Ephesians 1:5 tells us "God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. That is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." NLT

Is it not our duty to do the same for the least of these? 

9/10/2013 Update! The documentary was funded and is now available. See the trailer and learn more here.

9/19/2013 update! I received a complimentary copy of the DVD  and watched all 90 minutes in one sitting. I would recommend this documentary to anyone who has adopted a child, considered adopting a child, or just interested in the effects of love, having it taken away, and having it restored. The Dark Matter of Love is not a story told through rose-colored glasses, yet there is HOPE!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Face to Facebook

I joined Facebook last fall for the sole purpose of promoting my new book, But the Greatest of These is Love. I had resisted earlier suggestions to join because I know myself well enough to know that I might spend too much time checking out the lives of my friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, etc. I have indeed had fun connecting with friends and reconnecting with friends who I last knew when we were literally kids.

At first I  timidly garnered enough courage to "like" someone's status. Then I inched out into new territory and posted a comment on someone's status. Still, I was tentative, posting, then immediately deleting, then posting same post again. Who cares what I think?, I would ask myself.  But I am over that now! Nobody cares what I think, but it doesn't matter!  That is not part of the rules. We just care about those little red numbers tallying our "likes" and comments.indicating that we are special.

And it isn't just Facebook. It is Twitter, online video games, instagram, constant texting, even when it seems rude. Technology! The savior and downfall of civilization. Finding and dissemination information has never been easier. I have discovered that I love to research, now that the capability is at my fingertips! The capacity for quick information may often be helpful," but as Einstein said, "information is not knowledge."

I've had to learn a whole new language with all initials, "new speak" I call it, reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984, where the totalitarian state reduced language to simplistic terms to limit free thought. (Watch for that blog that is ruminating as I write this one.) I had to learn "lol" did not mean "lots of love" as I was tempted to post to convey my compassion, when "laugh out loud" would have been grossly insensitive! There are several other letter combinations I haven't figured out, so I dare not use them!

I am over my early trepidation, and now I am confidently posting all the time, "all" being the operative word here. I am becoming a Facebook junkie. Now when I post something, I am eagerly awaiting someone to "like" or comment on my status. I have to step back. Sometimes after an out-of-control session lasting too long, I feel icky. Hours of my life gone for nothing. Has anyone else experienced this? I had to turn the "chat" feature off—I envisioned all the names scrolling down,  people liking, and becoming friends with, and commenting, sitting in front of the new idiot box in an alternate universe, along with me, instead of talking face to face with a flesh-and-blood friend. How alien this concept would have been only a decade ago, except to Rod Serling/Twilight Zone aficionados.

The Twilight Zone, young ones, was a science-fiction (or, in "new speak," Sci-Fi) television show that
aired on CBS from 1959-1964. Its paranormal, futuristic, and disturbing events inspired a few reoccurring nightmares during my lifetime. It always opened with the creator, Rod Serling cryptically inviting, "Imagine if you will . . ."

"Imagine if you will . . . one humanoid posts a "status update" on his hand-held device, the other, often sitting beside the other, comments on said status update by typing on his own hand-held device. No audible words are spoken between the two . . ."

In all of our "connectedness," we have isolated ourselves. So here we sit, face to Facebook. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Unpopular Christian virtues

The last time I mentioned sex in a post was when I compared my book, But the Greatest of These is Love, to the best seller, Fifty Shades of Gray. The two books share quite a few similarities, except maybe the "best seller" part . . . and, the sexual content. I've never read Fifty Shades of Gray, so there might be a few other differences. If you missed Fifty Shades of Red, go back and read it.

In the last couple of weeks, I have witnessed dramatic examples illustrating why illicit, forbidden, casual, uncommitted, recreational sex is not a great idea, regardless of what at least one participant was thinking at the time. Rarely does either party say, "this one act could adversely alter the course of my life, it might cause me to go to jail, lose my job, devastate my family, lose the trust of my spouse, BUT, it is going to be SO worth it!" No sex is that good. Some may disagree. 

At the risk of sounding like a prude, I will continue. My 18 year-old-son reminds me daily that we live in the 21st Century and none of this pertains to modern times. But I am curious why the obsessive distraction, often to our ruin, about the mysterious enigma of sex. 

We live in a culture where we are led to believe that sexual freedom is a birthright. Why else would people in authority insist that girls of any age have access to the "morning after" pill without parental consent, when that same child would be denied an aspirin at school without her parent's permission. The age of  consent in the U.S. is 16 in most states. In some countries it is as young as 12. To view "Mature" rated movies, one must be 17.  By that time, the horse is usually out of the barn, so to speak! 

 A hundred years ago, coming out of the long Victorian Era,  Sigmund Freud was concluding and teaching that sexual repression was the major psychological problem of mankind, and the indirect cause of much of Western society's woes, illnesses, and crime. Those Victorians were to blame, for being a prudish and uptight bunch!

The Victorian era, the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is considered by historians to be a period of peace and prosperity, refined sensibilities, and national confidence in Britain. (I consider it a period of beautiful architecture and furniture, since that is about all that remains from that period!) A recent article suggested that people from the Victorian era, which was marked by "an explosion of innovation and genius," had higher I.Q.s than people today. Interesting. So, are we getting dumber? (one mind-numbing episode of most prime-time TV should provide evidence!)

"Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues," writes C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. Mere Christianity was adapted from a series of radio talks on the BBC during World War II, much like Roosevelt's Fireside Chats in this country, meant to sooth an anxious populace. 

Today, Christians' chastity, or lack of, virtually mirrors that of the world's, even though Christians are called to sexual purity. Even Saint Augustine, fourth century church father confessed that, as a young man, he prayed constantly for chastity, but while his lips were saying "Lord make me chaste," his heart was adding, "but please don't do it just yet."

I am remembering the messes in our families, communities, and government that promiscuity has caused that sexual purity, or self-control, chastity, temperance–words we don't often use anymore–would have prevented. Gone are the days when we hold self control and delayed gratification, or "refinement" of any kind to a high ideal. We have now achieved Freud's goal, complete sexual freedom. We now have cozy terms like "friends with benefits" describing mutually satisfying sexual relationships that don't involve, well, relationship. We seem to be devolving. 

Today we are free of sexual repression, and for that matter most "repression," in any area of life. Has that reversal improved our race? We have one of the highest teen pregnancy rate in the western, industrialized world, pedophilia, abortion as birth control, high divorce rate, children growing up without fathers, orphans, a growing prison population, rampant STDs, high suicide rates, high numbers medicated for depression. We teach the young people in health class to "wait until they are ready for sex." Ask most teens who think they are in love (which is often, with many) if they are ready. They are ready!

C.S Lewis opined, "the sexual appetite, like our other appetites, grows by indulgence . . . Perversions of the food appetite are rare. But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful." 

I wonder what Freud would think today if he studied the cause of society's woes, illnesses, and crime. It certainly isn't repressed sexuality!

"Virtue," (another word we rarely use anymore) "–even attempted virtue–brings light; indulgence brings fog."  C.S. Lewis