Archive for July 17th, 2011

You have seen the statistics: NFP couples have dramatically lower divorce rates than other couples. Some NFP sites claim 5%, others 2%, still others the dramatic .o6% or even .02%.

Now I have not done a scientific study on the matter, but I do have anecdotal evidence. Nothing that would hold water regarding method, mind you, but hard for me to ignore.

I know four NFP teaching couples. What’s more, one or both spouses in each of these couples has confided in me, sometimes more than I ever wanted to know.

Of the four, two are divorced, one by the man’s initiative, one by the woman’s. One of them is a marriage in name only, staying together for the sake of the children. The other to all appearances is a happy marriage, though Lord knows one can only know a marriage from the outside; my bride and I have known couples that we have envied for their apparently smooth sailing- in contrast to our sometimes stormy passage, especially in our first years- only to see those marriages unravel.

I realize that this may be a fluke, that I may happen to know a little corner of the universe where everything is skewed. Call it Opposite World, where 75% of NFP marriages fail.

On the other hand this may be representative.

And perhaps there is a connection?

Natural Family Planning, after all, mandates abstinence when a woman is ovulating, which everyone knows is the time when her desire for her man is most intense. Does frustrating this bring about stresses in the union? For that matter, does the method itself harm the natural and romantic nature of love? I mean bringing out the charts and thermometers and periscopes and who knows what would dampen the ardor, wouldn’t it? Sort of spoil the moment?

While respecting a woman’s cycle may qualify as “natural” is it really natural to frustrate the desires that flow from that cycle?

As you may discern, my bride and I have never really attempted NFP; it always seemed beyond us, temperamentally speaking. In fact, our one “attempt” was not very scientific, and indeed resulted in a quicker pregnancy than usual.

We mostly practiced SFP:  Supernatural Family Planning.  Just act natural and let God decide.

We know lots of people who have done this and done well. However, they tend to be folks with a lot of money, which we do not have. Further, besides a lack of money, we each have health concerns which dampen our enthusiasm for adding to our seven (on the other hand our seventh baby is the Sweetest Baby Ever, a total delight).

And as other methods seem even more unnatural- I mean the Pill suppresses ovulation and totally alters a woman’s natural cycle- or are capable of killing the newly vivified zygote, or are condemned by longstanding Church tradition, we are at a sort of impasse.

But it is hard not to think that the NFP propaganda is wishful thinking at best.

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“Humans made an unwitting but fateful choice 10,000 years ago as we started cultivating wild plants: We chose annuals. All the grains that feed billions of people today—wheat, rice, corn, and so on—come from annual plants, which sprout from seeds, produce new seeds, and die every year. “The whole world is mostly perennials,” says USDA geneticist Edward Buckler, who studies corn at Cornell University. “So why did we domesticate annuals?” Not because annuals were better, he says, but because Neolithic farmers rapidly made them better—enlarging their seeds, for instance, by replanting the ones from thriving plants, year after year. Perennials didn’t benefit from that kind of selective breeding, because they don’t need to be replanted. Their natural advantage became a handicap. They became the road not taken.

Today an enthusiastic band of scientists has gone back to that fork in the road: They’re trying to breed perennial wheat, rice, and other grains.  Wes Jackson, co-founder and president of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, has promoted the idea for decades. It has never had much money behind it. But plant breeders in Salina and elsewhere are now crossing modern grains with wild perennial relatives; they’re also trying to domesticate the wild plants directly. Either way the goal is crops that would tap the main advantage of perennials—the deep, dense root systems that fuel the plants’ rebirth each spring and that make them so resilient and resource efficient—without sacrificing too much of the grain yield that millennia of selection have bred into annuals.”

Read the rest, from National Geographic:


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About that Budget

Despite this, there is not much talk of cutting military spending and lots on cutting so-called “entitlement spending”, ie, programs that actually help people live decent lives. Really, do we need bases all over the world, 6(!) wars, not to mention  military aid to dictatorships, often to both sides of a conflict?   

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