AN APPRECIATION OF NATURAL/CO-OPERATIVE BIRTH CONTROL

5 05 2019

opening music: The Clash Lovers’ Rock

May Day, Beltane, is almost here. It’s the height of the mating season, so it seems like a good time to talk about green sex–and when I say “green sex,” I’m not talking about inexperienced people getting it on. I’m talking about the ecology, and psychology, of our reproductive urge.

A few months back, one of my favorite news reporters/commentators, Eleanor Goldfield, did a story  attacking the Trump administration’s decision to only give women advice on natural birth control, rather than providing condoms, birth control pills, or IUDs. In the process, she also attacked natural birth control itself.  (I prefer to call it “co-operative birth control” for reasons I’ll go into later.)

First of all, I don’t think it’s appropriate to impose natural birth control on women/couples, any more than it’s appropriate for somebody else to interfere in a woman’s decision about whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Not only is it wrong for the state/church to do that, but hey—people who are forced into a behavior they don’t freely adopt, whether it’s birth control or an exercise program, are not going to practice it as carefully as those who embark on such a course of action voluntarily.s However, as a man who was voluntarily involved in the practice of natural birth control for fifteen years in my first marriage and the ten “fertile years” of my second marriage, I had to speak up on behalf of the natural method. What follows is a revised and expanded version of the comment I made on her video.

Although it has been criticized as ineffective, natural birth control can be quite precise. Vaginal mucous changes around ovulation, morphing from a consistency that tends to keep sperm out to a consistency that tends to pull it in, and this is easy to check. Between that and three minutes with a thermometer first thing in the morning, which allows a woman to know when her fertile time of the month is about to start, it’s not difficult for a woman to know if she’s fertile. The thermometer is the only purchase necessary to practice natural birth control. As someone who does his best not to be a “consumer,” having a birth control method that does not involve the frequent purchase of industrially created products is a big plus. My first wife and I practiced this as our sole form of birth control for thirteen years with only one unintended pregnancy, two years in, due to cyclical disruption while travelling. One unintended pregnancy in over twenty years is, I think, a pretty good ‘batting average.” Read the rest of this entry »





OH, MAMA, LET’S TALK DIRTY

8 05 2016

It’s Mother’s Day. I’ve broadcast and published on many a Mother’s Day over the eleven-year history of this show and blog, and generally I haven’t had much to say about it, but I think it’s time.

juliawardhoweMothers’ Day has become a “Hallmark Holiday,” an excuse for companies to induce us to spend money we wouldn’t ordinarily spend. Its actual origins are far more noble than that, as most of you probably know. It began as a reconciliation effort after the Civil War, and then was picked up by abolitionist and women’s suffrage activist Julia Ward Howe, who, in a famous proclamation, called for an international congress of women for the purpose of creating lasting peace. We can only guess what Ms. Howe, who wrote

Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

would think of the woman likely to be our next President, who has made her reputation in part by being at least as fervent a hawk as any man in our government. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about tonight. This is the Deep Green perspective, and I’m here to talk about our relationship with the Mother of us all, the Earth.treemomma

To do that, I want to start by talking dirty. You know what that means. When we talk about sex or defecation, we are “talking dirty.” But why, when we call something “dirty,” does it have such negative connotations?  Even “a dirty look,” or a “dirty deal,” or “the dirt on somebody,” while they may not have sexual or scatological implications, refer to looks, deals, and information that is not praiseworthy.

But–we are made of dirt. “Human” and “humus,” a fancy name for  dirt that’s chock full of living micro-organisms, are etymologically related, as are the Hebrew words Adam and adamah. Adam, of course, is the legendary first human. “Adamah” means earth. In archaic Europe and in Palestine alike, our prehistoric ancestors understood that “dust we are, and unto dust we return.” It seems to me that we could use a lot more of that humbling–another “earth word”–influence these days. While there is a certain admirable bravado in, “I’m going to live forever, or die trying,” decline and death are part of the natural arc of our existence. In my Deep Green opinion, it’s more appropriate to accept this and strive to surf that arc as gracefully and lovingly as possible, than to go down in flames on a mad scientist quest for vastly extended youth and longevity. Besides, the planet could get awfully crowded with very old people if we start extending our lives. The economy might love the extravagant consumers that such an aged population would constitute, but the planet needs us to cycle back through the dirt like everything else that lives.

We are made of dirt. Every atom and molecule in us could exist and not be “alive,” but somehow, when they are merged into our bodies, these tiny flecks of dirt, liquid, and gas become “alive.” This may be a common phenomenon–astronomers now estimate that one in five, maybe more, stars have a roughly Earth-sized planet in their habitable zone, meaning that there could be between ten and forty billion other planets out there that could be kind of like this one. That’s a lot of very interesting potential, but the nearest such planet we’ve found is twelve light-years away, which means that, unless or until we either launch an internally terraformed asteroid colony on a multigenerational cruise, or learn how to create, direct, and step through wormholes, we’re not likely to find out. Across the universe, we may not be so unusual, but for all practical purposes, there’s nobody here but us, and nowhere else to go, so we’d better figure out how to keep this planet livable.

And why haven’t any of our neighbors come calling? I think we’re in the process of finding that out for ourselves. It looks to me as though intelligent species on small planets with limited resources–which, as far as we can tell, is the only place a species like us might evolve–have to walk a couple of fine lines. One is between being merely clever and genuinely wise–in order to survive for very long, the species must be clever enough to learn how to work with what its planet offers, and yet wise enough not to use up those gifts in a blaze of thoughtless exploitation. Considering the speed with which we have depleted what our planet has offered us, we may well be failing that test. If we pull ourselves together quickly enough to prevent our near-term extinction due to global warming at this late date, the generations of us that are to come, and even any future species that might supplant us, will have to make do with a planet bereft of easily extracted metals and fossil fuels. Perhaps it will be better that way. Read the rest of this entry »





WHAT WOULD A DEMON DO? (revisited)

7 02 2015

This is a revised version of one of a commentary from one of my very first radio shows.  I think it’s worth revisiting.

Let’s engage in a little freewheeling fantasy, folks.

Let’s look at the world today and ask,demonWhat would a demon do?

A demon, in Western religious tradition, is a servant of Satan. It’s a demon’s job to make hell unpleasant for the rest of its inhabitants, to tempt us mere mortals into sin, or to afflict us once we’ve fallen. And how, in this day and age, might a demon afflict thee? Let me count some of the ways:

Demons can make sure souls are trapped in unhappy situations—for example, a life in which your mother didn’t want to have you in the first place and lacks the motivation, support, and resources to bring you up happily. Hell for you, hell for her.

Or, you could be born to parents who wanted you, but who find their own lives disrupted and crushed by vast forces beyond their control—drought, flood, war, disease, overpopulation, famine, marauding oil companies—you know, the classic horsemen of the apocalypse. A refugee camp in Africa for your kindergarten? Hell for just about everyone. Read the rest of this entry »








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