Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Obscenity of Octomom

I came home one day last week to find my wife watching Dr. Phil. I don't know why she was watching Dr. Phil, but she was. And what is more, I found myself drawn into watching it too. The subject: Octomom.

By now, I think everybody knows that "Octomom" is not the name of a new superhero. However, I doubt many people remember that Octomom's real name is Nadya Suleman. I didn't.

And that bothers me. That I didn't know her name.

There has been much discussion about whether or not her doctors acted ethically, and there should be discussion of that topic. There has been much discussion of whether or not Nadya is physically, mentally, and emotionally equipped to raise 14 children by herself. That is a discussion that needs to be had as well, although I am not sure that the best people to make those decisions are mass media talking heads.

What I find disconcerting is the way that we as a culture seem to have completely dehumanized the situation. What started as an incredible story became late night punch line and now has become a source of great anger. On Dr. Phil's show, he played voice mails left for Nadya and people who tried to help her. These voice mails were beyond cruel. Threats that Nadya should have her uterus "ripped out" sink to the level of a Nazi concentration camp. Now, today, I read a story online that a porn company has offered her $1 million and lifetime medical and dental insurance to star in porn movies. Step away from that which I consider borderline extortion for a moment ("You can provide for your families medical expenses if you will let us film you having sex with other people and make money off of it") and what is left is a very cold reality: that people would pay to watch just because it is her, "Octomom".

Amazement, laughter, self-righteous anger, self-indulgement. And most people won't even care enough to know her name.

There are obvious problems that this story brings to light. The reality is, for every ounce of news coverage provided on Nadya and her children, we know a very small percentage of what there is to be known about Nadya, her life, her children, her doctors, and this situation. There are reasons to be sad, there are reasons to be angry, and there are reasons to be happy (for one, these 8 babies survived). However, there are no reasons to stop being human.

Many have argued that the anonymity of the Internet makes people bold, willing to say or do things they would never do if their name was attached to it. I believe the same results take place when we strip a person of their humanity, their identity. We can say to them, do to them whatever we want. American pastors in the South defended the idea that God did not make Africans to be "real people", so it was OK to make them slaves and punish them brutally. A century later, denominations had to repent of that sin. I wonder how much repentance is needed right now in this situation.

Her name is not Octomom. That name seems to have unleashed a host of obscenity from people. Her name is Nadya Suleman. She is a child of God, just like you and me. She is in need of God's grace and provision, just like you and me. More importantly, God loves her just like he loves you and me. Maybe we should all remember that the next time we go to make our comment about the story in the paper or on the television.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quote from Mother Theresa

If you pray, you will have faith. If you have faith, you will love. If you love, you will serve. If you serve, you will have peace.

Monday, February 2, 2009

25 Really Random Things About Me

There is new craze that seems to be circulating through Facebook, the "25 Really Random Things About Me" note. I resisted as long as I could, but finally gave in and put mine together. Figured I would put it up here on my blog too.

1. I alphabetize my CD collection by artist, putting each artists' album in chronological order.

2. I was born in a military hospital in Wiesbaden, West Germany (Yeah, before the wall fell).

3. I once won a James Brown dance contest at a Durham Bulls baseball game.

4. As much as I sometimes joke about it, I am perfectly happy spending a weekend entirely at home watching TV, reading a book, playing video games, or taking a nap.

5. I have lost 26 pounds since the beginning of August.

6. I love to watch "The Soup" every weekend on E!

7. I can watch just about any football or college basketball game and find it interesting.

8. Billy Joel is absolutely my favorite musician. I think I have every one of his albums.

9. I felt the call to ministry when I was a senior in high school while I was preaching the sermon at my church's Youth Sunday service.

10. The reason I like Guitar Hero so much? When I was a teenager, I would go in the basement, take a tennis racket, crank up the stereo, and pretend I was on stage.

11. The most relaxing trip I have ever been on was an Alaskan cruise Amy and I took several years ago.

12. I would love to live in Richmond, VA someday so that I could spend a lot of time hanging out around the campus of my alma mater, the University of Richmond.

13. One of my biggest fears is not being a good dad for my boys or being a good husband for my wife.

14. I can taste a difference between regular Oreo filling and the different colored filling they use at holidays.

15. It has taken me 40 minutes just to get this far into the list (Of course, I had a 20 minute phone meeting and somebody stop by the office in the middle of all that.)

16. At one point, I taught OT, NT, and World Religions at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke. I would love to do some of that again someday if I ever had time.

17. I will read anything by Philip Yancey, C.S. Lewis, David Baldacci, or Tom Clancy.

18. I think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world.

19. Text messages annoy me.

20. I can't wait until spring time when I can start riding my bike to the office again.

21. When I was in high school, I won an all-expenses paid trip to Ireland when I was chosen by the Roanoke Times & World-News as their Carrier of the Year. (Yeah, I was a paper boy. Don't see many of those anymore).

22. I am a registered Independent.

23. My iPod has totally changed how and what I listen to.

24. Few things break my heart more than when Noah is on the verge of crying but is trying not to.

25. My greatest joy as a parent? The looks on Justin and Noah's faces the entire week we spent in Disney World.