Astonishing Tales

Having been a comic book fan all my life, I sometimes look back with a bit of nostalgia at the conventions of the genre around the time that I was growing up.  Marvel Comics, for example, could publish a book with the title Astonishing Tales, and all the accompanying melodrama that came with it (note the numerous exclamation marks on the cover of the first issue).  If the tales weren’t exactly astonishing, the creators not doubt hoped they’d be entertaining enough to get by.

Likewise, I ran across a few different items this week that, if not rising to the level of astonishing, are still capable of raising eyebrows for a variety of reasons. 

1. How much is homemaking worth?

It looks like quite a bit.  A recent study conducted by Investopedia put the total value of annual homemaking duties—including things like cooking, cleaning, childcare, laundry services, and transportation—as worth $96,291 in the marketplace. 

The Gospel Coalition’s Matt Smethurst comments:

Proverbs 14:1 states: “The wise woman builds her house.” While the monetary value and practical feasibility of full-time homemaking may vary from home to home, what remains constant is the irreplaceable significance of a homemaker’s contributions. The Investopedia article concludes, “The daily work of a homemaker can sometimes be taken for granted….However, these services could earn a homemaker a considerable wage if he or she took those skills to the marketplace. Homemakers, in general, contribute a lot more to the home in addition to these tasks and no amount of money can fill those needs.” 

Indeed, no study could ever fully quantify the service of a mother who “looks well to the ways of her household” (Prov. 31:27). At the very least, this research should prompt us to express fresh appreciation to those stay-at-home moms whom we love and who, though receiving little recognition in the eyes of the world, are faithful and treasured in the eyes of their King.

2. A Chorus of Outrage?

A number of people have written admirably about the recent controversy surrounding the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation’s decision to discontinue funding Planned Parenthood and subsequent backtrack a few days later.  New York Times columnist Ross Douthat was in typically good form.  Two excerpts: 

Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press’s prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person—and certainly no self-respecting woman—could possibly question or oppose.

But of course millions of Americans — including, yes, millions of American women — do oppose Planned Parenthood. They oppose the 300,000-plus abortions it performs every year (making it the largest abortion provider in the country), and they oppose its tireless opposition to even modest limits on abortion.

Even if some forms of partiality are inevitable, journalists betray their calling when they simply ignore self-evident truths about a story.

Three truths, in particular, should be obvious to everyone reporting on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy. First, that the fight against breast cancer is unifying and completely uncontroversial, while the provision of abortion may be the most polarizing issue in the United States today. Second, that it’s no more “political” to disassociate oneself from the nation’s largest abortion provider than it is to associate with it in the first place. Third, that for every American who greeted Komen’s shift with “anger and outrage” (as Andrea Mitchell put it), there was probably an American who was relieved and gratified.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing

3. A Deafening Silence? 

Meanwhile, Get Religion’s Mollie Hemmingway (another writer worth following consistently) noted the media’s contrasting tepid response to another issue important to people of faith.  In a Feb. 3rd post she wrote:

We recently learned of the significant ruling from the Obama administration that Catholic charities (including educational institutions and hospitals that serve the most needy) would be forced under threat of massive fines to offer health insurance benefits that deeply violate church teachings, including contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. The news was covered, a bit. But none of the networks covered the news when it broke, and, according to one media watchdog, still haven’t! In general, the coverage has been surprisingly restrained, even though 142 bishops (some 80% of dioceses) have vociferously condemned this action.

In a post the previous day, she drew the explicit contrast:

It’s just so interesting to me that when millions of Catholics were read letters from their bishops about the HHS mandate targeting Catholic groups, it took days for a few stories to trickle out. When Susan G. Komen announces that roughly $700,000 in grants will be targeted to groups other than Planned Parenthood next year, it couldn’t be bigger news. There are thousands of stories already written. It says something about what the media prioritizes as well as what it considers sacred. There’s an almost religious fervor at play here.

[Emphasis mine]

4. A Storm of Persecution

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and later immigrated to the Netherlands, where she was a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006.  Her autobiography, Infidel, was a 2007 New York Times bestseller. The fact that she is an acknowledged atheist only makes her cover story in the current Newsweek more interesting.  An excerpt:

But a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop. Nothing less than the fate of Christianity—and ultimately of all religious minorities—in the Islamic world is at stake.

The bulk of the article details numerous examples of persecution against Christians in the Muslim world. 

5. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

What happens when, unbeknownst to their parents in the next room, two imaginative kids (ages 5 and 3) decide to break into the bundle of paper towels just purchased at Sam’s?  Oh, to laugh or cry….

It’s only about four rolls. 

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