Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
I was going to write a post for today, but then one of my children got a mild case of food poisoning. While we were jammed into arena seats at a performance of Disney on Ice. I'll leave it to your imagination as to how that all played out, and will only remark that it's a shame that that $12 souvenir hat had to be put to such an unfortunate use.
Since I am in no position to write anything original today, other than perhaps a post about how to offer profuse apologies to the people seated in front of you at Disney on Ice, I will take the opportunity to introduce you to one of my favorite writers: Kristen Walker.
For those of you who don't already follow her, Walker is a blogger for Live Action and the Vice President of the New Wave Feminists. What I love about her writing is that it's fearless, concise, and often really funny. She has a way of making her points in a way that catches your attention and makes you see familiar issues from a fresh perspective. For example, in a column about tax-payer-funded birth control, she writes:
People who have sex for fun are having sex for recreation. That’s what doing something for fun is. I enjoy bowling, weaving, kayaking, and such. Some people enjoy sex. Whatever.
Recreational activities should not be covered for free under any health care plan.
"But I could get an STD having sex without condoms!"
Yes, and I could bust my toe open bowling. Insurance plans will pay for my busted toe care and your shot of penicillin. But insurance won’t -- and shouldn't -- pay for steel-toed bowling shoes. Why? Because bowling is a recreational activity, and so is non-procreative sex.
Do you have a right to have sex? Sure! Why not? I have a right to bowl, eat spaghetti, drive a tractor, and thumb-wrestle with my coworkers during lunch. But no employer, taxpayer, or anybody other than me has the obligation to provide preventive "care" to make sure I can do those things without any repercussions which I may deem negative. This is why I have to buy my own bowling shoes, spaghetti bib, tractor...helmet?, and thumb-wrestling...cape. Yeah, cape.
Walker also introduced me to what I now think of as Snakes on a Plane Intellectual Honesty when she wrote:
I have this habit -- and I suggest you save time and energy and just go ahead and find it charming -- of calling TV shows what they actually are. I got the idea from the movie Snakes on a Plane. I never saw the movie, but I appreciated the directness of the title. I like that it just cuts to the chase and tells you, "Hey, this is about snakes on a plane," instead of calling it something like Dangerous Altitude, and then you go see it and it’s just snakes on a plane. And you're like, "Hey, that was just snakes on a plane!"
...Which was part of a larger point about how shows like Grey's Anatomy (or, Sexy Hospital) fuel the demand for abortion by glamorizing "hook-up" culture:
This is something I’m always hammering away at, and so should you be: abortion does not exist in a vacuum. It starts with viewing sex as something fun to do instead of something that was designed to lead to babies. Abortion is the effect, not the cause, of a tragic formula. Sex – nature = death. When we try to divorce sex from its natural purpose, we get problems. We get unwanted pregnancies, broken hearts, broken homes, diseases, and death.
Walker has also shared the must-read story of her own pro-choice to pro-life conversion, including this touching story about her mother:
My mom was a 27-year-old mother of two working in the food service industry when she became pregnant. Her boyfriend, upon finding out she was pregnant, surprised her by taking off and never coming back. Then the sonogram surprised her by revealing two heartbeats. That’s right: twins.
She considered abortion briefly, in a moment of panic, but not seriously. She says she thought about it the way you sometimes think about doing something you know you’ll never do. It was a momentary fantasy born of desperation, but it was never an option. She credits prayer with getting her through the next few years until she met the man who would become my brothers' father. My mom has a strong will, and she was determined to be positive. She put a magnet on the refrigerator so she would see it every day. It said, "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." I remember it being there for years.
I also appreciate the fact that Walker isn't afraid to shy away from tough questions, like when she raises this issue facing the pro-life movement:
I consider the practical, tangible results of an end to abortion, and I see that many problems will result. Unless changes are made in the way young people perceive and learn about sex, and unless a major shift occurs in the average American’s approach toward personal responsibility, we are going to be in trouble. If about one million more babies are born every year to mothers who are not prepared to take care of them, the strain on various government aid programs -- WIC, Medicaid, etc. -- will be disastrous to an already struggling federal system.
You probably hear anti-lifers throw out this rhetorical question all the time: "What are we supposed to do with all those new babies?" I usually reply with, "It's a complicated problem, but I know what the answer isn't: kill them in the womb."
However, while we reject their evil Nazi idea that it’s better these children were never born, we’d better take the problem they bring up seriously if we want good lives for those children, and a solvent America for them to grow up in.
And, like all great writers, everything she says is infused with an underlying sense of hope. When discussing the utter lack of media coverage of the annual March for Life, she says:
Meanwhile, do not let your hearts be troubled. It’s easy to get angry -- trust me, I know -- but this should actually make us glad. If they weren’t afraid of us, they wouldn’t go out of their way to ignore us. Doesn’t it remind you of when someone gives you the silent treatment? Their petulant refusal to look in our direction or speak to us reminds me of a twelve-year-old girl whose sister broke her hair dryer. It is not the behavior of unconcerned dismissal, but focused, deliberate denial of a very scary truth:
We are winning.