The Seducer State and the Free Labor of Mothers

This video argues that a birth strike is in progress as a result of American family and tax policies.  I wrote an article about this issue when the new Child Tax Credit was in the news.  This was the period in which Paul Ryan lewdly (yes, lewdly) told American women in a televised speech that they must bear more children.  Because this speech closely followed the passage of the scandalous tax bill that reduces taxes for the rich and therefore endangers funding for social programs that help mothers, Ryan’s proposal was indecent.

I regretted tying that article to the story of Adam and Eve.  I will write more about this connection, or lack thereof, in another article, and address the question of whether you can separate social policy from Christian theology.  However, in this article I don’t want to overshadow the undeniable effects of family and tax policy on American families.

The following video from Chris Hedges’ On Contact discusses government policies, which are meant to increase the birthrate in the face of decreasing financial support for families.

https://youtu.be/ZeY8p5rdy9M

 

Defending a Friend and Ally

I recently deleted two articles.  In the first one I condemned the Mormon Church for the way it handled a sex abuse scandal.  I realized later that this might seem to contradict my defense of the Catholic Church, so I wrote another article urging the Mormon Church to make amends.  However, I realize now that I wrote them the way I did because I don’t see the two scandals as the same.

Now it seems that the difference between the two churches is greater than I imagined.  The Mormon Church isn’t interested in making amends.  It is excommunicating members who demand new policies and procedures to guard against sex abuse.  And yet it’s the Catholic Church, the church who has tried and is trying to make amends, that is under attack.

Karma is Not Ours to Wield

Karma: noun

(In Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.

informal
destiny or fate as effect from cause.

political uses
a mechanism of social control.

It may be true that everyone will eventually pay for their own stupidity, rudeness, and betrayal, but I think it’s important to state that you and I are not karma and karma is not us. Nor are we Fate. Therefore, warning others that karma is coming to get them is really just a way standing in judgement of them. The real achievement of old age is when we notice that the trespasses of others don’t haunt us as much as our own trespasses. And I speak from experience here.

While I’m on the subject I’ll mention a related idea concerning religion that I will try to address: ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Or stated another way, ‘God meets you half way’. I would agree that success in the world requires hard work, but that’s not religion. It’s a self-help mantra. Unfortunately, it’s a common belief about religion, which may explain why so many people think they can get by without it.

The main problem I have with this assertion is it assumes we know where we need to go, religiously speaking. Sorry, but that’s a delusion. If we go through life charting our course first and then asking God to help us get there we’ll always be limited to our own understanding of the world, and of ourselves.

If you think I seem to know more about what-religion-is-not than what-religion-is, you may be right, so I’ll end this article within my area of expertise.

Religion is not your run-of-the-mill self-help-y psychotherapeutic treatment plan, and God is not your career counselor, your weight-loss advisor, your talent scout, or your letter of recommendation to the cool group at school, church, or work.

New America Foundation, Quiverfull and the Attack on Reproductive Rights

On March 31, an opinion was published on the Yahoo Contributor’s Network concerning a Tennessee mother who had her son baptized without the permission of her estranged husband. in this man’s opinion she should go to jail. ((Poupard, Vincent L. Mother who baptized children without consent needs to go to jail. Yahoo Contributor Network. March 31, 2012. Cited April 6, 2012. Available: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/30/mother-faces-contempt-jail-for-baptizing-children/)) In light of the ongoing attacks on women’s rights, this suddenly seems like a real possibility. ((Indiana’s Judge Christopher B. Haile Inflicting Maternal Deprivation abuse. Fathers Winning Custody. March 6, 2009. cited April 6, 2012. Available: http://fatherswinningcustody.com/indianas-judge-christopher-b-haile-inflicting-maternal-deprivation-abuse/)) ((Armstrong, Ken and Maureen O’Hagan. Seattle Times Special Report: Twisted ethics of an expert witness. Indiana Mothers for Custodial Justice. June 26, 2011. Cited April 6, 2012. Available: http://imfcj.blogspot.com/))

The political environment has become decidedly hostile to women, and current legislation only reinforces the trend. Rude remarks about female sexual morality have been a strange part of this entire process. I have already said these pieces of legislation represent [intlink id=”849″ type=”post”]the effort to own female reproductive potential[/intlink]. All things considered, it can be argued that the insulting rhetoric is calculated to obscure the real purpose. These things are typically associated with a natalist policy. Apparently, the government of the United States is attempting to increase the birthrate. Therefore, the ‘slut’ remarks are probably a smokescreen. A chaste population is the last thing they want to see.

And the lawmakers continue their assault. Since November’s election in Mississippi, Republicans have been in charge of both chambers of the house and have used their position to target abortion. First, the “Heartbeat Bill” was introduced, which would have required doctors to look for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. The detection of a heartbeat would make it illegal for the doctor to continue. Although this bill never made it out of committee, more recently a measure was proposed that will probably cause Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to shut down. House Bill 1390 would require doctors working at abortion clinics to be Ob-Gyn certified and have admitting privileges to a local hospital. It has passed both houses and Republican Governor Phil Bryant is expected to sign it into law in a matter of days. ((Schmitt, Barbara A. Controversial Measure Would Essentially Shut Down Mississippi’s Only Abortion Clinic. ABC News. April 7 2012. Cited April 7, 2012. Available: http://abcnews.go.com/US/controversial-measure-essentially-shut-mississippis-abortion-clinic/story?id=16088001#.T4CKKe0SHzI))

The Think Tank, the Church, and Public Policy

New America Foundation

In addition to the obvious concerns about women’s rights, there are at least two important directions for this conversation. First, the decision to increase the birthrate is controversial in itself. Second, the methods reveal much about the country’s current direction and those who lead the way. Apparently, a relatively small group of organizations and churches are at the helm, and for quite some time they have been arguing that a higher birthrate is good for the nation’s economic and political future. The New America Foundation is a key player in this effort and is part of a wider cooperative network. The New America Foundation is a ‘non-partisan, public policy institute’ founded by Ted Halstead in 1999. It is headquartered in Washington D.C. and also has a ‘presence’ in California. Phillip Longman is a demographer and a Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the Foundation. Longman claims to be a political centrist, however he is influenced by Rick and Jan Hess, promoters of the Quiverfull Movement. Longman has also endorsed Allan Carlson’s views as put forth in his pro-Quiverfull treatise, “The Natural Family: a Manifesto”. Quiverfull is not centrist. Its political persuasion is conservative evangelical. Allan Carlson is a paleoconservative.

Quiverfull

The name ‘Quiverfull’ is taken from Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Quiverfull parents often have more than six children; they are home-schoolers, members of fundamentalist churches, and believers in male headship and female submissiveness. The movement began with the publication of Rick and Jan Hess’s 1989 book, A Full Quiver: Family Planning and the Lordship of Christ. In this book the Hesses argue that God is the “Great Physician” and sole “Birth Controller”. Therefore, a woman’s attempt to control her own body is a seizure of divine power. The movement’s core ideas can be tied to conservative Protestant critiques of contraception. Many conservatives believe that when mainline Protestant churches accepted birth control in the 1950s they opened the way for the sexual revolution. Yet, the feminists don’t escape blame–in this view, feminism is a religion that is incompatible with Christianity.

Population is a big concern for Quiverfull believers; the recent decline in the birthrate of some European countries inspires great fear, and the world’s political turmoil is said to be a consequence of this tendency. Some beliefs will sound familiar to anyone following the current presidential campaigns. They say the pill is an abortifacient and so they support pharmacists who refuse to distribute birth control on moral grounds. Of course, they extend this right of refusal to corporate entities such as insurers.

Phillip Longman

In 2006 Longman’s article “The Return of Patriarchy” was published in the March issue of Foreign Policy, a publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Longman predicted that falling birthrates throughout advanced societies will lead to financial, political, social and demographic decline and argued that the return of patriarchy is essential to the recovery of higher birthrates and reproduction. He claimed that the cause of falling birthrates is often the loss of social cohesion and he held the feminists and members of the counter-cultural movement of the sixties and seventies to blame for the childless segment of the population. People naturally avoid the costs of parenthood, he said, and the only reason the human race has not gone extinct before now is, patriarchy. Longman was quoted in an interview published in the Christian Post:

Patriarchal societies come in many varieties and evolve through different stages, he explains. What they have in common are customs and attitudes that collectively serve to maximize fertility and parental investment in the next generation.

A culture of patriarchy directs men to their responsibilities as husbands and fathers. Men who fail in these responsibilities are seen as inferior to those who are both faithful and effective. Furthermore, a patriarchal structure holds men accountable for the care, protection, discipline, and nurture of children. In such a society, irresponsibility in the tasks of parenthood is seen as a fundamental threat to civilization itself.”

(He) quotes feminist economist Nancy Folbre, who observed: “Patriarchal control over women tends to increase their specialization in reproductive labor, with important consequences for both the quantity and the quality of their investments in the next generation.” As Longman explains, “Those consequences arguably include: more children receiving more attention from their mothers, who, having few other ways of finding meaning in their lives, become more skilled at keeping their children safe and healthy.” ((Mohler, R. Albert, Jr. Fatherhood and the Future of Civilization. The Christian Post: Opinion. June 13, 2008. cited April 5, 2012. Available: http://www.christianpost.com/news/fatherhood-and-the-future-of-civilization-32799/))

It seems clear that these ideas provide motive for the laws that restrict birth control and ‘encourage’ marriage. The headline on the cover of that issue of Foreign Policy was “Why Men Rule – and Conservatives Will Inherit the Earth”.

The Policy Making Network

As Wikipedia’s ‘Patriarchy’ discussion evolved in 2009, biological determinism was a major argument of the pro-patriarchy editors. At the time I assumed that they represented a minority faction. The individuals and organizations promoting natalism seem to be the missing link.

Allan C. Carlson

Allan C. Carlson is president of the Howard Center, a director of the family in America Studies Center, the International Secretary of the World Congress of Families and editor of the Family in America newsletter. He is also former president of the Rockford Institute, where he was a member since 1981. He believes that the post-World War II baby boom in the United States was a Catholic phenomenon, a “heroic” flowering of Catholic family life in America, and he has criticized the impact of feminism on women’s roles in society as disastrous for the family. ((Wikipedia: Allan C. Carlson. cited April 5, 2012. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_C._Carlson))

The Rockford Institute was founded by Rockford College president John A. Howard in response to the social changes of the 1960s. Allan Carlson was president until 1997 when he and Howard left to form the Howard Center for Family Religion and Society. In 1989, the Lutheran pastor, Richard John Neuhaus and his Religion and Society center were evicted from the Rockford Institute’s New York office after he complained about what he said were racist and anti-semitic tones in the Institute’s Chronicles magazine. Other leading conservatives supported this charge but it was denied by the Institute. Neuhaus’s eviction was interpreted as a division in the conservative movement between paleoconservatives and neoconservatives. ((Wikipedia: Rockford Institute. Cited April 5, 2012. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockford_Institute))

Richard John Neuhaus

As a pastor in the 1960s Neuhaus addressed civil rights and social justice and spoke against the Vietnam War. He was active in liberal politics until Roe v. Wade was handed down. Then he became part of the neoconservative movement. He became a Roman Catholic priest in 1990 and was an unofficial advisor of President George W. Bush. In later years he likened the pro-life movement to the Civil Rights struggle. ((Wikipedia: Richard John Neuhaus. Cited April 5, 2012. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_John_Neuhaus))

The New Biological Determinism

Allan Carlson, true to his paleoconservative views, uses [intlink id=”6″ type=”post”]sociobiology in the development of policy[/intlink]. ((Wikipedia: Paleoconservatism. cited April 5, 2012. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoconservatism)) The argument provided by sociobiology goes something like this: Because women are biologically different from men, they have different roles. A woman’s place is in the home. A woman’s most important role is the bearing of children. We have seen that in Longman’s view, patriarchy provides the necessary assurance for this type of social arrangement.

In Christopher Wolfe’s “The family, civil society, and the state” Carlson argues that while several American political factions uphold family values, they do not have the same definition of family. The type of family structure that Carlson promotes is ‘rooted in human nature: in our genetic inheritance; in our instincts; in our hormones’. He disagrees with those who say the family is changing into new forms better suited to modern life, and claims that the only free cultural choice is between monogamy and polygamy.

“The so-called ‘changes’ we observe in family living are either deterioration from a natural order, or restoration toward that order: decay or renewal. Holy scripture affirms these truths, and so do the modern sciences of sociology and psychology, sociobiology and paleoanthropology.”

Religion, History and Dubious Science: the Politics of Birth Control

Again, this definition of the problem depends on a very selective history. Longman and his fellow pro-natalists insist that everything was fine until the 1960s. This has allowed the pro-natalists to pose as allies of the Libertarians and to blame the feminists and counter-culture movement for any supposed population decline. No one mentions that by the sixties the writings of Thomas Malthus had been widely accepted. Malthus argued for a low birthrate as a response to a limited food supply and a fragile environment. The part played by feminists in this debate differs from the paleoconservatives’ version of it. The people who were fighting for birth control, like Margaret Sanger, were virtually alone in supporting people’s right to have as many children as they wanted.

The Catholic hierarchy’s position in the birth control debate was resistance to the idea of people having sex without becoming pregnant. Church leaders also worried that if women controlled their own bodies they would be less likely to obey their husbands and the Church. Communists opposed Malthusianism for their own reasons, but were willing to change their population policies depending on the needs of the state. The government of the Soviet Union was the first to provide birth control and abortion, but in the face of war with Germany they banned birth control and paid women to have large families.

The definition of the problem provided by Longman, Carlson and Quiverfull is criticized for another reason as well. In an essay by Matthew Connelly, author of “Fatal Misconception: the struggle to control world population”, it is argued that predictions about population are a poor guide for policy making. Although the predictions may not come true, they will probably lead to terrifying reactions.

For most of recorded history population growth has been seen as proof of prosperity and also a measure of sound laws and good government. Based on the birthrate in his time, Teddy Roosevelt was certain America was committing race suicide. As a result, political and religious authorities worked together to deny access to contraception and keep abortion unsafe and illegal. (See link to page 2 below footnotes.)

The Lord of Creatures

In Hermes in India a discussion began about the Lord of Creatures.  It is now obvious that this subject is more difficult than I imagined. There are several related terms that have to do with the nature of God. They have similar meanings, but they can belong to completely different gods.

Dumézil said the name paśupati (Lord of Animals) might be the name of the demon who opposed Kṛṣṇa–the demon’s name was Śiśupāla, but it might be a ‘transposition’ of Paśupati. According to a Wikipedia article, paśupati is Sanskrit for Pashupati. This is one of the names of Siva. Definitions differ, but some say it means the Lord of all Created Beings.  Here Śiśupāla is associated with Siva.

The name given in the Hindu Pantheon is Prajapati and it belongs to Brahma. It means the Lord of Creatures, or Lord of all Created Beings. Prajapati can also refer to the three major deities together–Vishnu, Siva and Brahma. It seemed reasonable to associate paśupati with Prajapati–both terms denote lordship over animals. Also Śiśupāla possessed a ‘sublime radiance’ which passed to Kṛṣṇa.

In The Names of God another term entered the discussion by way of a new translation of the Book of Job. It was argued that the god who spoke out of the whirlwind was not the sky-god that we normally associate with the Old Testament but a Master of Animals–he was a deity equally concerned with humans and animals–a Paleolithic, hunter-gatherer Master of Animals. This idea led to more research on the archaeological evidence for this deity. The name of Hermes is prominent in discussions about the Master of Animals.

The next set of clues comes from a legend told in “The Hindu Pantheon” and has to do with the nature of the war described in the Puranas. It is said that the conflict arose between the worshipers of the female principle and the worshipers of the male principle. It was “a battle of cosmic proportions” in which the earth lords resisted the rise of a sky god. The war started in India and spread all over the world. It was discussed by Wilford in “Egypt and the Nile”, and repeated by Moor, and also by Christian missionaries in a publication called the Chinese Recorder. Versions differ, but the theme is the same. This was the basis of Grecian mythology with its battles between the gods led by Jupiter; and the giants or sons of the earth. The gods led by Jupiter were the followers of Iswara, worshipers of the sky-god. The giants were the men produced by Prit’hivi, a power or form of Vishnu, (see more on this below) who acknowledged no other deities than Water and Earth.

This conflict is to blame for the rise of theological and physiological contests, veiled by the use of allegories and symbols. Wilford offers the following example of allegorical mythology: “On the banks of the Nile, Osiris was torn in pieces; and on those of the Ganges, the limbs of his consort, Isi, or Sati, were scattered over the world, giving names to the places where they fell…In the Sanskrit book, entitled Maha Kala Sanhita, we find the Grecian story concerning the wanderings of Bacchus; for Iswara, having been mutilated through the imprecations of some offended Munis, rambled over the whole earth bewailing his misfortune: while Isi wandered also through the world, singing mournful ditties in a state of distraction.”

The Servarasa is more specific and says that the conflict involved Siva and Parvati:

When Sati, after the close of her existence as the daughter of Dacsha, sprang again to life in the character of Parvati, or Mountain-born, she was reunited in marriage to Mahadeva. This divine pair had once a dispute on the comparative influence of sexes in producing animated beings; and each resolved, by mutual agreement, to create apart a new race of men. The race produced by Mahadeva was very numerous, and devoted themselves exclusively to the worship of the male deity; but their intellects were dull, their bodies feeble, their limbs distorted, and their complexions of different hues. Parvati had at the same time created a multitude of human beings, who adored the female power only; and were all well shaped, with sweet aspects and fine complexions. A furious contest ensued between the two races, and the Lingajas (worshipers of Siva) were defeated in battle. But Mahadeva, enraged against the Yonijas (worshipers of Parvati), would have destroyed them with the fire of his eye, if Parvati had not interposed, and appeased him: but he would spare them only on condition that they should instantly quit the country, to return no more. And from the Yoni, which they adored as the sole cause of their existence, they were named Yavanas.

The declared victors of the contest differ depending on the storyteller’s point of view. Wilford thought this version must have been written by the Yonyancitas, or votaries of Devi because the Lingancitas say that Siva’s offspring were the most beautiful. The most numerous sect of Hindus are those who attempt to reconcile them, saying that both principles are necessary, and so the navel of Vishnu is worshipped as identical with the sacred Yoni. But it is important to mention, in light of our interest in the Lord of Creatures, that Brahma is ignored.

Brahma was the creator. In the Hindu solar religion, he represents one aspect of the Sun and corresponds to the early part of the day, from sunrise until noon. His realm is the earth, and fire.  However, in Hinduism Brahma is not as familiar a figure as Siva and Vishnu, or even mentioned as much as the incarnations and lesser deities.  The reason given in “The Hindu Pantheon” is that the act of creation is past.  The creator has no further role in the “continuance or cessation of material existence, or, in other words, with the preservation or destruction of the universe.”  Now this is the basic premise of Deism.  Deism was the religion of the Enlightenment.

Siva, on the other hand, in his aspect of the destroyer, is said to have a sort of “unity of character” with Brahma, although they are usually found in hostile opposition.  It is said that destruction is inevitable.  It is actually another form of creation.

As mentioned in American Civil Religion and the Enlightenment one of the criticisms of the Enlightenment is that Reason has replaced God.  However, it seems that Reason is not just an abstract principle; Reason is a god.  In The Hindu Pantheon Reason is an attribute of Nareda.

If Brahma is Prajapati and Śiśupāla is paśupati, Śiśupāla must have been associated with Brahma, not Siva. If the Grecian giants are part of the same conflict, they should also have been associated with Brahma, not Vishnu.  So it shouldn’t be surprising that Śiśupāla is not a solar figure.  In the Mahabharata, the would-be king whom Kṛṣṇa supported forced Śiśupāla and his fellow kings to attend a sacrificial ceremony where he claimed for himself universal kingship. The original kings were to be his subjects and accept a subordinate relationship to him. During the ceremony Kṛṣṇa was honored all out of proportion to the kings, and Śiśupāla objected. The highest honor being given to Kṛṣṇa was not appropriate, he said, in the presence of “great spirited earth lords”.