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An Episcopal Leader Speaks out about a Pregnant Colleague

Talk about hostility! Chris Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal points out this post by Elizabeth Kaeton of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton is an Episcopal priest and the president of the standing committee of the Diocese of Newark. She is a lesbian who has a partner referred to as her spouse on some websites. She apparently has six children and four grandchildren, but does not endorse heterosexual couples following suit as you can see from this excerpt from her post:

There is one woman, an Episcopal priest married to an Episcopal priest, whose writing sometimes flat out scares the BeJesus out of me. She is pregnant with their fourth child, the youngest of whom is not yet one year old. They are using "Natural Family Planning" - letting "God decide" on how many children they will be blessed with and resigning themselves to gladly take whatever God gives them, giving God the praise and glory.

She gets lots of support from women who have made similar choices, all giddy with what they describe as Christian love and the Holy Ghost. Everyone seems positively ecstatic about this new pregnancy while this poor woman writes about how she doesn’t have the energy to clean her house or herself or her children whom, she muses with mild curiosity, might get their feet cut on the cereal bowl one of them smashed this morning which she simply hasn’t had the inclination to clean up.

The women commenting on this have nothing but giddy high praise for her. I can only read so much before I have to reach for some dry crackers. Apparently, you can experience "morning sickness" by proxy.

Umm . . .Can you say, "Irresponsible?"

Okay, then. How about "Madness"?

Don’t believe me? Think I’m overstating my case? Well, after reading a few of her entries, I have seriously considered calling the local authorities.

I swear to God, one of these days you are going to read about this woman loading herself and her six kids in her mini van and driving them all into a nearby lake. Or, drowning them, one by one, in the bathtub and then lining their lifeless little bodies in a perfect row on their perfectly made beds in their perfect suburban home.

Of course, she’ll say that "God told her" to do it. Postpartum depression will be the postmodern villain. From the days even before Lizzie Borden, female hormones have always been an easy scapegoat. If the writers of Genesis had known about them, PMS would have been specifically named as one of the results of "The Fall."

Neighbors and church members will appear on the five o’clock news and say what a "lovely family" they were and how shocked, (SHOCKED!) they all are. One woman will shake her head sadly and say how her husband was "devoted" to her and the children. Another will wipe a tear from her eye and report that they were such "committed Christians" who were dedicated to "home schooling" their kids. And I can guarantee that someone from her church will opine that there is so much pressure from "those feminists" to pull families like this apart.

At the precise moment at which someone says something about "the power of Satan" is exactly the point when I’ll throw up my hands and run screaming from the room. Let me tell you something: This woman doesn’t title her Blog, "an undercurrent of hostility" for nothing.

In fact, you know what? That hostility is the only thing that gives me hope. Right now, it’s misdirected against feminists and liberals and everyone in the Episcopal Church who doesn’t march, lock-step to "Onward, Christian soldier," but she’s smart enough to know better.

I know she is. She knows she is. I just pray she gets the courage to push through the heavy fog of the false sense of nobility which has become the warm-fuzzy blanket she pulls around her to ward off the insecurities whispered in her ear by her . . . um . . . "religion."

So being open to life is irresponsible? A sign of madness? Read her whole post and you will see that when her granddaughter said she wanted to grow up and be a mommy this Episcopal leader felt great disappointment.

When my youngest was about four, I took him to the dentist for the first time. My older children had seen this dentist several times so he knew I was a physician and my husband was an Air Force pilot. At the time I was working a couple of weekends every month at a local urgent care center. In the course of conversation with my youngest the dentist asked my son what his daddy did. My son proudly proclaimed, “He flies jets!” Then the dentist asked my son what his mommy did. “She does the dishes!” I admit that at first there was a tinge of disappointment. After all, wasn’t tending to lacerations, heart attacks, and broken bones just as cool as flying jets? But then I realized this was exactly the response I wanted. My son saw me as his mom, first and foremost. I’m just a mom who has a little more medical training than most.

I have to admit that words like those written by Rev. Kaeton can make my blood boil. I have had to fend off my share of comments about how I am wasting all that medical education by choosing to be at home with my kids. But rather than responding to Rev. Kaeton with anger, I will include her my prayers. I pray that she will someday see that humble obedience to God’s will and God’s plan is true liberation. I will also pray for the pregnant Episcopal priest that Rev. Kaeton maligns in her post. I know how hurtful it is when professional colleagues do not respect your response to a vocation greater than your career.


Anonymous said…
"I have had to fend off my share of comments about how I am wasting all that medical education by choosing to be at home with my kids." -- Dr. Hunnell

You aren't wasting your education! Indeed, you use it here each day. Moreover, I have little doubt that your children will one day realize that while their mother certainly saved lives in the course of her medical practice, she also saved souls when she sat at her computer and wrote the words that she did. In short, your children will look to both of their parents with a great deal of pride.
phbrown said…
To press anonymous's point a bit further, you don't just use your education here on the blog. I would bet that you use it with your kids—probably without even noticing.

In grad school, I had the privilege of having a wise and humble professor whose wife, after getting a master's degree in physics (this in the early '50's), stayed home with their kids. He once commented that when kids ask, "Mommy, why is the sky blue?" some kids want to here that it's because God made it that way and some kids want to hear about the refraction of light. His wife, because of her education, didn't have to stop with the first answer; she could go on, when her kids were ready, to the second.

I had the challenge and privilege of spending five years at home with my kids while I was working on my doctoral thesis. As a result, I was able to answer (sometimes over-answer :-)) a whole lot of questions at an intellectual depth few child-care workers could match. That wouldn't necessarily be better care for most kids, but I wasn't caring for most kids. I was caring for my kids—the children of a pair of academics—who tend to go for (and benefit from) the geeky.

This isn't to devalue the callings or sacrifices of non-intellectual stay-at-home parents, of course. Intelligence isn't a salvific category. But God gave you your kids—that is, the kids of a jet pilot and a doctor—and, genetics being what they are, your gifts are going to correlate with theirs a lot better than the gifts of an average caregiver would.

For what it's worth :-)...

Catholic Mom said…
Peter and Anonymous,

Thank you so much for the words of support. You are both very kind. I wrote this post when I first started blogging to address some of the societal ideas that challenge women who put the care of their children above a career.
Nârwen said…
Quite bluntly, I think the Reverend has a point. Big families are no blessing if the members are miserable. (Heck, Margaret Sanger was one of 11 kids ! Her family life as a kid was horrible - she decided it was because there were too many kids, and spent the rest of her life being one of the founders of the culture of death. )
I'm not saying that big families are necessarily miserable- just that adding numbers to a situation which already has problems isn't a cure.

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