Sir John and the Knights of the Long Table

Eleven of us live here at beautiful Schamelot, and we have a small 20 acre farm of chickens, emus, two dogs, 13 or so cats and a cockateil named Sassafrass.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Five Standards for Safe Childbearing

There are five standards of safe childbearing. Evidence and support for these five standards has surfaced over the last 100 years through comparative analysis of birth outcomes at various venues, with different attendants, and pre-natal care emphasis. ALL the evidence of the last 100 years suggests that where these five standards are present, medical professionals, childbirth experts and families can hope for the best birth outcomes possible for each individual child.

The first standard for safe childbearing is good nutrition.

Good nutrition is the foundation for safe childbearing, because a well nourished mother is a strong, healthy mother, and strong healthy women give birth to strong healthy babies. Weight gain in pregnancy is normal and an indication of a healthy pregnancy as long as it is accompanied by good nutrition. A mother may eat what she craves as long as it’s healthy. She should not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat every kind of sweet and junk food she wants, because that results in poor nutrition and poor nutrition creates a ream of problems for both baby and mother including but not limited to toxemia, gestational diabetes, hemorrhage and death in the mother and brain damage, infection-proneness, hyperactivity and death in babies. The March of Dimes says low birth-weight, caused by poor nutrition during pregnancy, is “the cause of the greatest number of deaths in the first year of life and is a major cause of disability in childhood.” Surprisingly, nutrition is not usually taught in Med School and what is taught is usually wrong. William’s Obstetrics, a standard med-school textbook, recommends a goal of only 20 pounds weight gain, which surely increases the chance for low birth weight babies.

The second standard for safe childbearing is Skillful midwifery.

Skillful Midwifery, as apposed to Physician care, is the highest and safest standard. Every study ever published--- currently or in the past in any country (over a span of more than 100 yrs) ---shows Midwives to be safer than doctors. Every study. NO exceptions. Data to the contrary simply does not exist, nor did it ever. The U.S. , despite having one of the highest rates of doctor attended births, as well as perhaps the “best” health care system in the world, also has one of the highest infant mortality rates of every industrialized nation in the world. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan have the lowest infant mortality rates in the world as well as the highest rate of midwife attended births. Most doctors use too much intervention, rather than begin with prevention by good nutrition. Where doctors emphasize testing to discover problems with the pregnancy and the baby, midwives emphasize prevention through good nutrition, exercise and supporting the natural flow of labor by allowing the mother to do what her body is telling her, like eat if she’s hungry, drink if she’s thirsty, and find the most comfortable position for her to labor in. Most doctors do not attend a woman in labor and certainly not for the duration of her labor, which can last for days with some women; midwives stay with a laboring mother for the duration of her labor and several hours after the baby is born. Most doctors do not develop the supportive rapport with a pregnant and laboring mother to facilitate her ability to give birth safely and naturally by her own efforts; midwives show respect, encouragement and confidence in a laboring mother, regarding her as the true “expert” when it comes to her body and what she needs to safely deliver her own baby.

The third standard of safe childbearing is Natural Childbirth.

Natural Childbirth is intervention and drug-free childbirth. Interventions during labor increase risk, increasing anxiety in the laboring mother, which increases her pain, which increases her desire for drugs which increases risk. Epidurals, among other drugs and interventions can cause paralysis, psychosis and even death in the mother, and brain-damage and even death in the baby. IV’s and fetal monitors limit the possible comfortable laboring positions for the mother resulting in greater pain, decreased blood flow to the baby, which causes the doctors to want to intervene even more. A healthy, comfortable mother has a more productive labor and less need for interventions or desire for drugs.

The fourth standard for safe childbirth is birth at home.

Home has proved time and time again to be the safest place to give birth. There are no strangers, fewer germs, no interventions and no drugs, and a mother is naturally more comfortable and happy in the familiar surroundings of her own home among family and friends who care for her and her baby. Fewer germs mean less risk of infection for mother and baby. No strangers and interventions mean less anxiety for the mother and therefore a smoother, less painful labor and birth. 99% of complications that could possibly arise in an unhindered birth allow for ample time to arrive safely at a hospital, but fewer complications arise to begin with when the five standards for safe childbirth are present.

Breastfeeding is the fifth and last standard to safe childbearing.

Breastfeeding helps a mother’s body finish the birth process; it is also healthy for both mother and child. Breastfeeding immediately after the baby is born stimulates uterine contractions that prevent hemorrhaging, and ensures that a baby’s blood sugar is at a healthy level. Breastfeeding stimulates a hormonal and physiological response in the mother that helps her feel calm, happy and even more loving toward her family, helping her establish a closer relationship with her child. Breast milk is the healthiest nutrition for baby physically, mentally and emotionally. Breast milk contains a mother’s antibodies which are a natural inoculation against germs and disease for the baby. Breast milk changes with the needs of the baby, providing perfectly balanced nutrition throughout all the stages of the young child’s development. Breast milk also promotes a healthy development of the brain, resulting in children who are more intelligent and who have fewer behavioral problems.

The Five Standards together produce the best possible outcomes.

Childbirth experts postulate that an infant mortality rate of 2 to 3 per 1,000 live births is probably the very best human beings can ever expect. Some babies will die no matter what we do. But nations who are most closely approaching this irreducible minimum of nature are those who most fully uphold the five standards, especially midwifery, which is the surest guarantee of the other four standards. Someone once asked, “Got change for a paradigm?” Until we as a nation change the way we view pregnancy and childbirth—until we re-embrace the idea of these events as being beautiful blessings, not bothersome burdens, natural and welcome parts of life, not life-threatening diseases to be cured and avoided, we will continue as a nation to destroy unnecessarily, purposely and not, future generations of American people—of inventors, explorers, discoverers, priests, presidents and even popes. We owe it to our country, to God and to the human race to make childbirth as safe as it can possibly be by upholding the five standards that have sustained the human race for thousands of years and that a hundred years of scientific research have proven to produce the best outcomes humanly possible.

The Battle of Thermopylae

It was in 480 B.C. at the pass of Thermopylae, the “Gates of Fire” along the Aegean coast of Greece that the famous 300 Spartans and 6,700 other Greek soldiers held off a massive Persian army of 210,000 ground forces for 7 days. Nothing in military history has ever even come close to such an extraordinary feat. Although all of the Spartan soldiers that fought at Thermopylae were killed, they took with them 20,000 enemy soldiers as well as the mighty Persian Empire’s pride.
The Hellenistic world in 480 B.C. was composed of approximately 150 independent city states, or polis in Greek. The ancient Greeks did not consider themselves as Greek, but Athenian or Spartan, or Corinthian, etc. Before the 2nd Persian War there was no unity among the Hellenistic people, but they all had one thing in common when Xerxes came marching up to the “Hot Gates” at Thermopylae: their freedom and way of life was being threatened by a power hungry, half mad Persian king, who considered himself a god.
Xerxes, the king of Persia ascended to the throne in 586 B.C. after his father; Darius was killed in a siege. The first Persian War didn’t turn out too well for Darius. Xerxes, learning from his father who attempted a similar campaign, with 25,000 troops, concluded that this was an insufficient number to conquer mainland Greece, and fulfill his and his deceased fathers’ dream of what would have been world domination. He didn’t take any chances, so he took the time and spent 4 years mustering troops from every corner of his oversized empire. Bistonia was used as Xerxes’ rally point for his army, and all the provisions that were to be used for a very long and bloody fight with Sparta and the rest of the Hellenistic people.
Sparta was renowned throughout all Greece for her excellence in warfare. War was a way of life. Boys at the age of 7 were taken from their families to start their training, which was the equivalent of a 12 year navy seal boot camp. A Spartan youth was taught how to excel with the sword and spear as well as making a perfect phalanx. It was so shameful to lose a battle and live that the mother of every Spartan soldier would hand her son’s shield to him saying “come back with it or upon it.” This indicates that she would rather have him die than retreat and lose a battle.
The most commonly used battle formation among the Greeks was the phalanx: a very compact formation of hoplites overlapping their shields to create an impenetrable wall of bronze, bristling with 21 foot spears. A phalanx could be any number of men deep and any number of men wide. All the men would push on the man in front of him making the phalanx an unstoppable metal porcupine. This is what Xerxes was up against when he confronted the Corinthian League at Thermopylae.
The Corinthian League was made up of all the city states that were willing to help preserve Greece’s independent way of life. The most ironic thing about this is that the city state that resisted Persian influence the most was Sparta, the least liberated city state. Such was the Hellenistic passion for freedom that when the Persian couriers came to Athens, Sparta and Thebes, they were all brutally killed. While Athens and Sparta threw the intruding bearers of irritating tidings off of cliffs and into spiked pits, Thebes cut out the tongue of the translator for insulting the Greek language, and then stabbed the Persian messenger to death, throwing his remains over the precipice of the nearest cliff. This is the same hospitality that Leonidas and his 300 showed to the “Barbarians” when they came pouring up to the Phocian Wall.
The order was given and Leonidas led his small army to the pass of Thermopylae where the Phocian wall lay in ruins, the aftermath of another war. They rebuilt the wall and prepared for a bloody fight. When Xerxes (already close to Thermopylae) sent his scouts to see all of Greece positioned to hinder his progress at the narrow defile, they came back with words that made the god king laugh. All the Spartans were combing their hair. A Spartan traitor explained that it was Spartan tradition to comb one’s hair before going into battle. He also mentioned that all the Spartans would be dead before they let the army of Xerxes pass through the wall.
Xerxes, after waiting 4 days for the Greek patriots to abandon their posts grew very impatient and sent a message to Leonidas offering him kingship over all Greece. Leonidas answered him saying “"If you knew what is good in life, you would abstain from wishing for foreign things. For me it is better to die for Greece than to be monarch over my compatriots.” Xerxes now very angry sent another message saying “Abandon your arms.” Leonidas laconically replied “Come and get them.” Xerxes, done talking with Leonidas, sent the first wave of men. 10,000 Medes were the first to taste the wrath of Greece. The Spartans, already familiar with how to win a battle, used a tactic perfect for the situation. First they advanced out into the open where they would fake a retreat back to the wall, then turn suddenly, making their formation, utterly destroying the Medes. Greek morale was so high during the first day of conflict, that when Dienekes, a Greek officer was informed that the Persian arrows would blot out the sun, he happily replied “So much the better, we shall fight in the shade.” Finally someone got smart enough to persuade Xerxes to use his elite crack troops known as the Immortals on the stubborn Spartans. It didn’t work too well either. They were soundly beaten back. The first day concluded with tremendous losses on the Persian side while the Greeks lost only about 10. The second day was just as fruitless for the Persians. 50,000 men, all the troops that could fit in the narrow pass were whipped by their officers over the wall of dead Persian soldiers that accumulated the day before. Having to climb over the body of your mutilated buddy while your officer is whipping you is not too good for your morale. But those Spartans were having a good time, experiencing minor casualties……….Until the 3rd day. While the Greeks slept that night, Ephialtes a Spartan traitor, led all the Immortals over a small goat pass that the Phocians were supposed to be guarding. The night guard fled and the Greeks woke for the last time to shouts of betrayal from the scouts who knew what was happening. Leonidas immediately gave the order to all non-Spartan men to retreat back to southern Greece to fight another day. But Sparta along with Thebes and Thespis, who decided to stay, would fight to the death this day.
As 210,000 Persians surrounded the 300 and their comrades, Leonidas recalled the oracle “Either Greece will fall or Sparta will lose her king.” And Leonidas preferred the latter. So it wasn’t long before the fate of Greece was sealed and the king of Sparta was slain. 211,000 men fought for the remains of the king, until it was recovered by the Greeks. The Thebans, losing heart immediately surrendered. Abandoning their arms they fled to the Persians. But they were not fast enough to outrun the spears of the still standing Greek soldiers. The Spartans and Thespians, still in the fray, retreated to a nearby hill only to make their last stand. The Persians, filled with hope, followed the Greeks to the hill and surrounded them. Xerxes, who followed to watch, spoke, offering them for the last time peaceful surrender. The Spartans answered “We return to Sparta with our shields or upon them.” The Persian reply was not in words, but with arrows that blotted out the sun. Every last Greek that stood there, fell fighting for their beloved Hellas. Thus ended the battle that would change the fate of western civilization forever.
The Greeks at Thermopylae bought enough time for the rest of Greece to organize and defeat the Persians at the battle of Salamis. Then finally, in the spring of 479 B.C., the Persians were driven out of Greece forever when they lost the battle of Plataea.
If you go to Greece today, to Thermopylae, you will see a statue of Leonidas erected on the spot at which he fell with an inscription saying:
“Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, That here, obedient to their laws, we lie.”

Vital Organ Donation

The donation of vital organs, as opposed to paired or non-vital organs such as a lung, a kidney or the corneas of the eyes, amounts to assisted suicide and is therefore immoral and should be outlawed.

Most organ donors believe that their organs will be harvested only after they’re dead. The fact is that dead people only contain dead organs and dead organs cannot be transplanted. The current practice of organ harvesting is to remove from the not-yet-dead patient those organs, which, in the doctor’s private judgment, will be put to better use in another person’s body. The removal of these organs is actually the direct cause of the death of the person and is therefore murder.

Proponents of organ donation are quick to use the slippery slope of brain deadness as a safety net against accusations of murder. They argue that once the brain is no longer capable of supporting the vital functions of the body, the person is dead. But since science cannot definitely say when the soul leaves the body, just as it cannot be certain when the soul enters the body, one must err on the side of life, as we do with the unborn child, and protect innocent life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Having one’s heart removed while it is still beating is not a natural death.

Removing the feeding tube from a legally brain dead Terry Schiavo is no different from removing the still beating heart or breathing lungs from any other brain dead patient. Besides, there are many documented cases of patients who would meet the criteria for organ retrieval established by the medical community, but whose organs are not harvested, and who are allowed God’s good time, suddenly returning to consciousness and fully recovering. This is strong evidence that currently accepted medical definition of death does not necessarily constitute the separation of the soul from the body, followed by divine judgment, Heaven or Hell—which is the true Catholic definition of death.

Furthermore, the medical definition of death has been artificially manipulated numerous times to allow for greater and greater leeway in harvesting organs. Years ago death was declared after the heart stopped beating, depriving the other organs of life giving oxygen. However, since those organs could not be transplanted, a new medical definition of death, called “brain death criteria,” had to be developed so that the organ harvesting industry could thrive. Incidently, doctors are now admitting that the brain dead patient is still alive, but argue, like Macchiavelli, that the good of harvesting his organs to save someone else’s life outweighs the evil of causing his death by harvesting those organs.

Also among advocates of vital-organ donation, the “quality of life” issue is a stronghold, although an inherent contradiction. To argue that the quality of life of the brain dead patient is so poor that he would be better off donating his organs to a healthier patient is to admit that the brain dead person is in fact alive, still capable of doing himself a favor by allowing his doctors to kill him.

In conclusion, I propose that legislation be enacted to outlaw vital-organ donation and allow non-vital organ donors to specify on their drivers licenses or elsewhere which non-vital organs they wish to donate, and under which circumstances.

The Dangers of Internet Chatrooms

Practically every conscious American, as opposed to the unconscious ones that my sister speaks of in her speech, are aware of the fact that internet chat rooms and blogospheres are feeding grounds for child predators, swindlers, thieves and every other form of lecherous sadist the human race can offer. Only the most completely and utterly brain dead Americans will argue that these venues are not among the leading threats to national security, consuming hundreds of thousands of dollars and man hours in screening, sifting and tracking down worldwide potential terrorists and traitors. And the popular World War II axiom, “Loose lips sink ships,” could easily be updated to “Frenzied finger tips sink ships.”

For the sake of my argument, however, let’s stick to the chat rooms and blogospheres of Patriotic Catholic Americans.

What danger could there be among such a virtuous test group, you ask. Why, to the Catholicism and Patriotism of said Americans, of course!

Keep this thought in mind: Catholicism as well as Patriotism is grounded in fraternal charity.

First of all, because of the addictive nature of the Internet, one could easily spend 10-12 hours a day chatting, while neglecting one’s familial and neighborly responsibilities as well as one’s own spiritual life.

Secondly, since internet chatters are afforded the advantage of writing under pseudonyms, the building up of trust is inhibited, and the temptation to allow our fallen human nature to shine through in a confrontation is encouraged and manifested in such phenomena as “flame wars” where chatters freely spew vitriol at one another with impunity, resorting to signing on under a new pseudonym after things get out of hand. Furthermore, charity towards each individual is also lost, since even the most conscientious chatter doesn’t know the secret crosses of every soul with whom he’s communicating.

Perhaps not as immediately important, but significant in the long run is the fact that language skills are endangered by the need to make one’s point in as few words as possible, using abbreviations, hyperlinks, and the EVER present wisecrack. These mechanisms include all kinds of epithets wielded against anyone from the newest posting member of a blogosphere, to the President of our country, to our own Holy Father.

And finally, on that note, at least the appearance of a hatred of the clergy and our government abounds where self-proclaimed theologians and political analysts play out the struggle for power in the Church and the Government on the worldwide stage before an audience of over a billion internet users. Even defenders of Church and Country only provoke further attacks from the disgruntled. So much for Patriotism and Catholicism!

In a nutshell, the usual safeguards of charity, social grace and correct speech are utterly lacking, opening the floodgates to every form of verbal attack on the individual, society and the Mystical Body of Christ as a whole.