Thursday, August 28, 2008

My evangelical friend

Nope, this isn't some joke. I met someone who I really like - she has a similar personality and a lot of the same interests. Her approach to parenting is very similar to mine. She doesn't suffer fools gladly and has a wry sense of humor. And the other day we were chatting, and she mentioned that she wouldn't ever go to a church that allowed women to be pastors, because it's unbiblical. Needless to say, my jaw dropped. Luckily it was a phone conversation.

The thing that allows us to remain friends (at least so far) is that she makes such judgments about her own life, allowing others to make their own decisions without harassment. She also knows that I'm an atheist, and does not seem fazed. There has been only one reference to this between us. We work in a volunteer organization and wanted to use space at a church for meetings. She wanted my opinion, as a non-Christian, of the proposal letter for this, to be careful she wasn't tainting our secular organization with sectarian bias.

In short, she is cool.

Do I, when I reflect upon it, think it's kind of weird that my down-to-earth, sensible buddy believes in a magical sky spirit that doesn't want women to preach? Of course. No doubt she's a little concerned that such a nice person as I may be unsaved and condemned to hell. But weirdly, it hasn't wrecked our relationship, because we seem to agree to interact on this temporal plane and leave the supernatural out of our interactions.

I wish more people (on both sides) could be like this.

Friday, August 22, 2008

No Possum Zone Exposed as Hypocrisy Zone

Normally I wouldn't share personal information about people they might find embarrassing. However, there are exceptions when said people boast of their alleged holiness, AND publicly accuse others of impropriety.

So here's the scoop: Tom and Nancy have been smugly accusing PMomma of perversion, immorality, and general sinfulness, while constantly citing their own moral superiority.

But it turns out that they're not so pure after all. Never mind that they had premarital sex, with the baby being born about four months after their wedding. Most of us in the reality-based community don't find that distasteful, though it does expose some hypocrisy. What is troubling is that evidently Nancy has at least once called the police because Tom was violent toward her, (and with her talk of submission one wonders how often he could beat her without her calling for help). They have also apparently been evading paying taxes. Yes, clearly they are a model of Christian morality. (N.B. these tidbits are care of Nancy's sister, erstwhile friend of PMomma, circa 2001. Tom admits to fornication, and implicitly admits the other actions by saying he has been forgiven "about those things.")

But really, there's something else that bothers me. They were pointed to PMomma by an old friend of hers who turned on her and clearly has been stalking her blog looking for revenge. This friend had once been very close and had access to private documents of PMomma's. She betrayed this trust and shared these documents with Tom and Nancy, and they happily complied in the betrayal and splashed private information on the web in an attempt to "get" PMomma. They are so contemptible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ezzo - Feeding Philosophies

Miss Scarlet: Why?!
Wadsworth: To create confusion!
Mrs. Peacock: It worked.

- Clue

Earlier we saw that Babywise attempts to reduce the large array of real parenting options to two polar opposites: Babywise, or anything-goes. As Ezzo embarks on a discussion of feeding babies, he switches to the opposite approach. He flails around wildly in an attempt to make feeding babies seem ridiculously complex and confusing. He works hard to manufacture bewilderment among readers, so the author can then offer a seemingly sensible, clear solution.

"Demand-feeding. Hyperscheduling. Cry feeding. Breastfeeding and bottle. . . . why all the confusion? One reason might be the overabundance of parenting theories. With so many options it is no wonder parents get confused."

It goes on like that, with Ezzo reaching for odd, academic-sounding terms and italicizing them to emphasize their strangeness: demand-feed, demand schedule, self-regulating schedule, natural feeding, hyperscheduling, rigid feeding, cry feeding, responsive feeding, bottle-feeding. Seriously, he italicizes "bottle-feeding" like it's an exotic foreign term. He wraps up the obfuscation triumphantly: "Who can decipher all the terms and techniques?" No one, when you describe them Gary.

I Googled these supposed terms of art. The results were not surprising. "Demand feeding" and "Cue feeding" are treated as synonyms - they are two ways to refer to the same practice. A search for "rigid feeding" turned up some articles about whether to demand feed or feed by a schedule, but the term "rigid feeding" as a separate philosophical approach did not appear. All the other terms failed to return any references to them as feeding philosophies, except in articles quoting Ezzo himself.

Here's the bottom line: the first choice in infant feeding is whether you will nurse exclusively or use formula. The second choice is whether you will feed on demand (looking for baby's hunger cues and responding), or feed the baby on an imposed schedule. And that's pretty much it for choosing between feeding philosophies. Everything else is a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And I trust you remember who tells a tale like that.

So why the huge effort to create confusion? It’s simple – the smoke and mirrors are meant to create the illusion that Ezzo’s approach is a sane middle ground. In reality, Babywise is well known as the most rigid, schedule-driven advice around. To dodge this criticism, Ezzo must create a fantasy landscape of crazy, diverse feeding philosophies in which to situate his approach as a sensible compromise.

It seems I’ve written at least a post’s worth on the very first page of this chapter. I think I’ll save the rest for another post. There’s an awful lot of trickery to unpack in this chapter!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ominous signs

Hmm. Last night I dreamed that one of the kids got some new sneakers, and I came slowly to realize that they were evil, and were allowing the devil to possess us. Or something - you know how dream logic works. The weird thing was I started as my normal skeptical self, and got enough evidence to change my worldview on the whole supernatural issue. In the dream I was not only scared because, yanno, The Devil, but freaked out because my universe had been turned upside down. It was really nice to wake up to the real world!

Then today as I returned home from the grocery store, about eight huge crows took flight from my front yard. Is eight an evil number? It might have been more, but it was definitely less than 666.

I'm lucky I'm a rational person. I got a laugh out of this stuff. I know of people who would have taken such events as deadly serious signs of haunting, psychic powers, or demonic possession.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ezzo Chapter One, Redux

OK, having dealt with the obvious flawed premises, logical fallacies, and internal contradictions, I promised to unpack the subtext of this chapter as well. Let me start by simply laying out relevant quotes, and see if you follow these to the same conclusion I did.

"The husband-wife union is not just a good first step toward child-rearing. It is a necessary one. Too often, parents lose sight of this fact, getting lost in a parenting wonderland of photos, footsteps, and first words."

"Marriage is unique - totally without parallel. It transcends all other relationships."

"Where the marriage is intact, keeping this relationship a priority is your starting point for successful parenting."

"Too often when a child enters a family, parents leave their first love: each other. The spotlight shifts to illuminate the children, and the marriage gets lost in space."

"Date your spouse. . . . Continue those loving gestures you enjoyed before the baby came along."

See where I'm going with this? And don't for a minute think that Ezzo is concerned equally with each spouse's happiness. It seems very clear to me that these are exhortations to a new mother not to focus too much attention on her new baby, but to make sure she keeps her husband satisfied. See: (emphasis added in all quotes below)

"With child-centered or mother-centered parenting, parents intensely pursue the child's happiness." Seriously, he just throws "mother-centered" parenting in as an equivalent of child-centered parenting, without explanation.

"When you become a mother, you do not stop being a daughter, a sister, a friend, or a wife. Those relationships, which were important before the baby, still must be maintained."

"Date your spouse . . . The baby will not suffer separation anxiety from one night without mom."

"If you buy a special something for baby, select a little gift for your mate as well." Who generally buys items for the baby? Yeah, Mom. Or maybe I should call her Wife.

Oh, and I almost forgot this bizarre statement: "Since infants are entirely dependent on parental care, their dependency creates for new parents a heightened gratification." What the hell? I can only guess, but this seems to be another jab at mothers being "overly involved" with baby care (i.e., taking appropriate care of a newborn), as though properly responding to an infant indicates some pathological need on the part of the mother. If someone can explain this non sequitur, please enlighten me.

I'll just quote here the marginal notes I made when I twigged to all this: "OMG! This is written by a man who feared/resented having his boobies/mother figure taken away. What a weak, fearful, grasping man."

Really. This book seems to have been written by a man so insecure, immature, and petty that he is jealous when his wife buys a present for their baby. So sad. And sadder still that he has conned thousands of people into following his, "NO, I want to be the baby!!!" philosophy, under the guise of responsible parenting.