Make a Difference

Day: February 1, 2009

Nothing for a Day

I will be in transit from Kangaroo Island, South Australia to Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday to be with my sister Amanda in hospital (see posts below).

So unless I have longer than expected wait times in an airport somewhere, there won’t be any new posts for the next 24 hours.

Please keep praying for Amanda, and for me and other family members as we travel to Wellington.

Thank you.

Bad for Phelps, Bad for Swimming

If it is true that Michael Phelps was smoking dope at a party, then he is a very silly boy. The four year ban for drug taking means that he would not be able to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. 

On the other hand, I have looked pretty closely at that picture, and cannot see any signs of smoke. Add to this that he has had over 1500 drug tests and never failed one, and maybe there is room for some doubt here. A urine test should be able to confim either way. If it was me, and I was innocent, I would be rushing to the nearest testing centre.

But even if he was just mucking around with an empty bong, it is still a dumb thing to do.

Octuplets and the Cost of Raising Children

I came across this self-righteous article yesterday. Apparently the mother of the octuplets born in California last week, had once filed for bankruptcy, and already has six children. According to the report this ‘casts an unflattering light’ on her.

The article goes on to report the mother’s mother as saying that her daughter had multiple embryos implanted last year and declined to abort any of them. Well, obviously she’s a ratbag.

There’s an unspoken assumption in the article that more children are a bad thing, that children are a burden, that people who have large numbers of them must necessarily be irresponsible.

In fact the woman had no way of knowing how many of the implanted embryos would take, and that she declined to abort any of them casts a more, rather than less, flattering light on her in my view. The rights and wrongs of IVF as a whole I leave for another time.

There’s not enough information in the article to judge whether the woman is irresponsible or not, and anyway, what’s so special about us that we should feel entitled to make such a judgement?

But that wasn’t what caught my eye in the article. Instead it was the claim by Dr. Charles Sophy, medical director of Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services that ‘it costs roughly $2.5 million to raise a child to adulthood.’ And according to the doc, that’s only enough for basic stuff, no extras like swimming lessons.

I have worked in ministry and other low paid jobs most of my life so far. I expect my lifetime working income to total about $1.6 million. According to Dr Sophy that’s enough to raise about two-thirds of a child, with nothing left over for a stamp collection.

Oh well.

No Wonder the Children are Thugs

A group of Melbourne girls invited a sixteen year old intellectually disabled girl to their home, saying they would be her friend. Then they took her to a nearby park where they beat her up so badly she could not stand up after the attack and had to be taken to hospital. Bad enough. A mob of other teenagers stood around shouting encourgement. Even worse.

But what made this story really horrific for me was that the mother of one of the girls videoed the incident on her phone (the video was later posted on MySpace) while shouting “Hit her, hit her harder,” “I taught you better than that” and “Hit her like your dad would”, and giving the girls advice about how do more damage while kicking the victim.

Bring Sean Home

The story of the kidnapping of Sean Goldman has become much more widely known in the couple of days since the US Dateline report on January 30th.

For those who don’t know, Bruna Goldman took her son Sean ‘on vacation’ to her home in Brazil in 2004. She never returned. David Goldman has struggled ever since to regain custody of Sean.

Although David has US and international law on his side, and has made frequent trips to Brazil, Brazilian authorities have refused to allow him to return Sean to the US. The situation has been complicated by Bruna’s death in 2008, and subsequent battles for custody with Bruna’s Brazilian husband.

It is tragic situation in which David and his son Sean have been treated unjustly.

But one thing that concerns me a little is that nowhere on the Bring Sean Home website is there anything about what Sean wants, or what is best for Sean. In any custody dispute the deciding factor should be what is best for the child. Children are not possessions to be divided up.

Bringing Sean ‘home’ would in fact mean taking him from what he knows as home, to a country he does not know, to a father he by now barely remembers. There is no reason to think that David Goldman is anything other than a responsible and loving father. But there is also no reason to think that his step father does not genuinely love Sean, and certainly no reason to think that he cannot provide for Sean a safe home, medical care, education, etc.

Of course if Sean does stay in Brazil, then Sean’s stepfather will have won in the end by holding out for as long as possible. He is a lawyer, he knows the Brazilian system, and perhaps has been able to use the influence of his powerful family. This was wrong. It is unfair.

But the deciding factor cannot be what is fair or not for the adults concerned, but what is right for the child.

So no, don’t bring Sean back to a home he doesn’t know. Love him enough to let him stay in the caring home he has.

Amanda Update

My sister Amanda is out of danger, and doctors have confirmed there is no damage to her spine. Praise God.
They are considering waking her up tomorrow. I am flying from Adelaide to Wellington tomorrow, and hope to with her by the evening.
Please keep her in your prayers as she begins the long painful process of healing.

For Heaven’s Sake

Lifting an excommunication is not a pardon. It is not a re-instatement. It is certainly not an affirmation of anyone’s personal opinions.

It simply means that a person is no longer outside the fellowship of the Church, and therefore outside God’s salvation. I commented on this a few days ago.

So there is no reason at all to get in a tizzy about it. Yitzak Cohen’s suggestion that Israel should cut off  ‘all connections to any body in which Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites are members’ is ludicrous. Sadly, if Israel were to do that, they would have no connection with any nation on earth, including their own.

I never ceases to amaze me, not that people don’t know about Church terms and procedures, but that they assume they do know, and are therefore qualified to comment and make judgments.

Bishop Williams is an embarassing idiot who should keep his mouth shut. Such people are found in most organisations.

Fortunately, the church does not condemn anyone to hell just for being an idiot, nor for holding incorrect and unpopular historical opinions.

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