Today's Quick Takes are kind of random. Interesting, yes, but lacking entirely in a unifying theme.
Before getting into the serious stuff, I should show you a picture of the toys I made for baby. You can find the pattern HERE.
|(My hand included for scale)
I followed the directions and was surprised to see that my first effort was shaped more like a football than a beach ball. I tried again and cut the pieces into shorter shapes, which resulted in a sort of squished pastry. It’s still cute, though, and baby can throw it without breaking the windows.
Focus on the cheerful Finnish part, which says,
“The scientists found that women who regularly ate chocolate while they were pregnant were more likely to say their babies smiled and laughed a lot. They were also more likely to say they were active…. Stressed women who ate chocolate were more likely to say their babies were less fearful in new situations. Stressed women who didn't eat chocolate said their babies were quite fearful in new situations.”
NOT on the gloomy British expert who counters,
"Chocolate is very high in calories and eating too much could lead to unsatisfactory weight gain. I wouldn't advocate supplementing the diet during pregnancy with chocolate."
Bleh. Well, the same to you, Mr. Nigel-Nochocolate.
Now for the serious stuff: I wanted to share several fascinating posts and articles. Click on the titles to read them.
Luke Epplin points out the relentless, (selfish?) message that pervades modern kids’ movies, and contrasts it with the realism of A Boy Named Charlie Brown (perhaps these movies have contributed to the Generation Y unhappiness so aptly described HERE in the Huffington Post). Epplin says:
"The restless protagonists of these films never have to wake up to the reality that crop-dusters simply can't fly faster than sleek racing aircraft. Instead, it's the naysaying authority figures who need to be enlightened about the importance of never giving up on your dreams, no matter how irrational, improbable, or disruptive to the larger community. As Jean Twenge, the controversial cultural critic of America's supposed narcissism epidemic, argues in her bestselling book Generation Me, younger generations 'simply take it for granted that we should all feel good about ourselves, we are all special, and we all deserve to follow our dreams.'"Following one's dreams necessarily entails the pursuit of the extraordinary in these films. The protagonists sneer at the mundane, repetitive work performed by their unimaginative peers. Dusty abhors the smell of fertilizer and whines to his flying coach that he's "been flying day after day over these same fields for years." Similarly, Turbo performs his duties in the garden poorly, and his insubordination eventually gets him and Chet fired. Their attitudes are all part of an ethos that privileges self-fulfillment over the communal good."
Meghan Cox Gurdon, a children’s book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, has taken a lot of flak for her objections to dark YA literature. Yet she makes valuable points about what these stories say to youth:
"This is why good taste matters so much when it comes to books for children and young adults. Books tell children what to expect, what life is, what culture is, how we are expected to behave—what the spectrum is. Books don’t just cater to tastes. They form tastes. They create norms—and as the examples above show, the norms young people take away are not necessarily the norms adults intend. This is why I am skeptical of the social utility of so-called “problem novels”—books that have a troubled main character, such as a girl with a father who started raping her when she was a toddler and anonymously provides her with knives when she is a teenager hoping that she will cut herself to death. (This scenario is from Cheryl Rainfield’s 2010 Young Adult novel, Scars, which School Library Journal hailed as “one heck of a good book.”) The argument in favor of such books is that they validate the real and terrible experiences of teenagers who have been abused, addicted, or raped—among other things. The problem is that the very act of detailing these pathologies, not just in one book but in many, normalizes them. And teenagers are all about identifying norms and adhering to them."
Stephen Richard Turley questions our definition of private vs. public schools, and the role of the Church in the “public” sphere:
"It is claimed that a secular society is one that neither favors not discriminates against any particular religion. Religion and politics simply do not mix in a modern secular society…. By privatizing faith, it is suggested that all peoples are able to participate equally in economic, political, and sociological life without religious discrimination. And tax-funded schools, as an extension of this vision of the public, have carved out neutral space so as to allow people of all religions to come together and learn facts and data common to everyone."Now, this certainly sounds reasonable. The public promoted and perpetuated by the secular state neither favors nor discriminates against any particular religion. But what if it turns out that it was in fact the secular state that redefined religion this way? What if our understanding of faith and religion as that which belongs in one’s private life rather than in the public square is itself the social invention of the secular state? What if religion has been redefined by the very institution that claims to “protect” it?"In contrast to our modern religious sensibilities, classical Christianity understood the church as offering to the world an alternative public distinct from that offered by the Jewish and Greco-Roman worlds."
Plenty of people have decried the negative side of safety-obsession, but Mollie Hemingway connects these arguments in a way that I had not heard before. I am a somewhat timid risk-taker myself, and her article is a good reminder that my kids should sometimes be allowed to fall off of monkey bars.
“When everything is a safety crisis, nothing is. So it should be little surprise that older children are less likely to heed warnings against smoking, drinking and having, in the parlance of modern educators, ‘unsafe’ sex.”“But the signs of this crushing of America’s spirit of risk-taking are everywhere. I see it every time I take my children to a suburban playground. The dangerous metal slides, rickety merry-go-rounds and tall monkey bars are a thing of the past, a casualty of federal regulations and rapacious lawyers. The benefit is supposed to be fewer injuries, although the evidence of that is surprisingly thin. Those old playgrounds had a progressive danger to them that taught kids how to assess risk. When you grow up thinking that every fall will be cushioned by safety mulch or fall height-rated rubber flooring, turns out you have trouble when it comes to real world rock-climbing.”“…. a parenting style that abjures risk at all costs may be at least partially responsible for the country’s economic doldrums. In June, the Wall Street Journal pointed out four trends, observable since the 1980s, that showed a marked declined in risk-taking psychology.”
One last thing: My husband and I have been attending choir practice, and boy, does choir practice stir up the baby. Baby basically spends the entire subsequent church service making my stomach change shape. This does not increase my pious focus on the sermon. All well, I guess baby will only get more distracting once he/she is born! I'll have to practice my listening-while-watching-baby skills.
I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on these articles. Happy Reading!
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