Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Daughter’s Beauty

This is something I have been thinking about recently. Brandon Barker asks, and then attempts to answer his great question:

"How do I raise my daughter to know the true definition of beauty in a culture such as ours? How do I cultivate an image in her that is rooted in the beauty of Jesus and not the allure of a distorted sexuality?"

He then answers:

"Here are three points that I have found helpful in my journey:

Our Culture’s Definition of Beauty

In most societies, feminine worth is determined by how you live up to the cultural definition of “real womanhood.” In Dallas real womanhood is largely defined by physical beauty, and beauty is determined by which men find you attractive, which means feminine worth is defined by the ability to attract men. This is a heartbreaking perversion of why God created two sexes that leaves insecurity and broken marriages in its wake.

The Biblical Foundation of Beauty

God is the definition of beauty because He is absolute holiness, which is why scriptures like 1 Samuel 16:7 and Proverbs 31:30 define beauty internally and teach that God is after our hearts. Our definition of beauty should then begin with godly character flowing from the purity of heart.

We also know from Song of Solomon that God created men to find women attractive, serving as a physical representation of how the Church finds Christ desirable above all things. Thus, any exploitation of women’s bodies for the attraction or the lust of man is a distortion of God’s created intent and a product of the Fall.

Practical Steps for Shepherding

Abandoning our city to avoid the realities of a fallen world won’t reverse the effects of sin in our families. The only solution is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But how do we pursue this? Here are a few practical ways:
  • Teach your daughter early and often that God loves her. The Lord designed her exactly as He wanted her. Speak truth to her before she hears the lie.
  • Affirm this truth. Tell your daughter she is beautiful and that you love being her father or mother. I cannot say this enough to my daughter, Eisley, and I’m determined by the grace of God to not have her grow up searching for the affirmation she was designed to get from her father.
  • Teach her early that sexuality is designed by God and meant to flourish inside of marriage.
  • Guard her environment. You cannot avoid all images, but don’t be foolish in what you let your daughter see.
  • Take her on dates. Model the unconditional love of the Father through uninterrupted time with her father.
  • Develop a family mantra about beauty: “Where does beauty come from? The heart. Why? Because God looks there.”
  • Be aware of the schemes of Satan in your daughter’s life. Ex: The mall is not evil in and of itself, but there is a strong pull there to worldly passions. When we leave the mall, I want to tell Eisley repeatedly that I love her, she is beautiful, I love being her daddy and that Jesus loves her.
  • Be aware of the schemes of Satan in your life. Satan hates your daughter and wants her worship and destruction. The best way to get to her is through her headship. For the sake of God’s glory in the joy of your children, pursue holiness.
  • Pray, beg, plead. Our best laid plans are feeble compared to the craftiness of Satan, and we are desperately dependent on the Spirit to do what only the Spirit can do: open her eyes to Jesus.
As a father with many parenting mistakes in my future, I am still learning. And I know that, more than anything, I need the grace of God as I seek to raise up my daughter in the ways of the Lord."

(Read the original article at The Village blog)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Nativity Story

One of the best Christmas movies I have ever seen, The Nativity Story really brought home to me the raw emotions and real mess that Jesus' birth actually brought into the lives of Mary and Joseph, and the heroic choices they made.

Thanks Jeff and Janet Leman for introducing this movie to us at Herbertpur 5 years ago. I remember today the joy we experienced in watching this together (in the RCH building class room), and the great discussions that followed.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Some 'Christmas' hilarity from around the blogosphere

Carol of the Bells like you've never seen it before!

(HT: JT)

Dashing through the snow in a new BMW

(HT: 22Words)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why Do I Exist?

(click on the picture for a larger view)

Jokes aside, Calvin asks a great question. "What do you think we are put on earth to do? What's our purpose in life? Why are we here?"

I believe I have been created by God for a purpose. I believe the Bible is clear about why God has created me.

1) I have been created to enter into a relationship with God as my Father, and, consequently, with others who are also part of God’s family and are therefore my brothers and sisters.
John 1:12: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
1 John 3:1: See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.
Since God has adopted me into His family as His son, I have also become related to others in God’s family, who have now become my brothers and sisters.

2) I have been created to display God’s divine nature to the world around me.
Romans 8:29: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.
2 Peter 1:4: For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
Just as children become more and more like their parents, I, too, should be becoming more and more like my heavenly Father.

3) I have been created to perform a specific task that only I can accomplish.
Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Recently, I was very happy to hear Dr Santhosh Mathew share these same truths at a meeting. He expressed it more poetically, like this:
We have been created to:
i) Belong to God (by entering into a relationship with Him)
ii) Become like God (by becoming transformed into His likeness)
iii) Build God’s Kingdom (by fulfilling the good works that God has already planned for me)
Let me commend the EHA motto as an easy tool we could use to remember why we exist. The Emmanuel Hospital Association motto is "Fellowship for Transformation through Caring"

We exist to be a Fellowship (because of our relationship with God and each other)
We exist to be Transformed (individually and collectively into His likeness)
We exist to Care (by performing the specific task God has planned for us)

This is crucial stuff! If we have been created for this, but spend our lives accomplishing so much else, we may find when it is our time for assessment at the Judgement Day, that our life has been wasted.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter of the day

Justice Markandey Katju's reply to two students who want to sue him for saying that 90% (but not all!) Indians are idiots!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Personal Mission Statement Version 2

I have re-tweaked my previous mission statement.

My New Mission Statement can be accessed here.

I'd love to continue to get feedback on this, so that I may be able to not only articulate myself better, but also accomplish God's plan for my life.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Raising Children the world will Hate

"I realized that if God answers my prayer for my son to be a follower of Christ, people will hate him. People will absolutely, unquestionably be repulsed by my son.
"If God graciously saves my Oscar, people will call him a bigot and a homophobe. Some will ridicule him as a male chauvinist as they scorn his “sexist” beliefs. He’ll be despised as closed-minded for saying that Jesus Christ is not only God but the only God. He will probably meet a girl who insults his manhood or considers him old fashioned for waiting until marriage to have sex. His peers will think him a prude. Bullies will call him a coward. His integrity will draw insults like “goody two shoes” (I don’t even know what that means).
"Teachers will think that that my son ignores scientific facts about our origins, prompting his classmates to mark him an idiot. People will tell him he has been led astray by his parents down an ancient path of misguided morality masked as a relationship with God. Financial advisors will think he’s irresponsibly generous. When he takes a stand, there will be those who will not tolerate his intolerance. He will be judged as judgmental. He will have enemies, and I’ll be asking him to love them, and even for that he’ll look foolish.
"If you’re like me and hope for your kids to be fully devoted followers of Christ, then we need to be raising up a generation who is ready to be distinctly different from their peers. In a lot of ways, that’s the opposite of my natural inclination in how to raise my son. Raising kids who are ready to be hated means raising kids who unashamedly love God even in the face of loathing and alienation. Regardless if the insults of the world are naive or legitimate, I pray our children will be ready to stand firm in the midst of a world that hates them."
(HT: Trevin Wax)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A shout-out to India's Generalists

A few years ago, the President of India’s National Board of Examinations went on record as saying that about 90 percent of India’s health needs could be managed by doctors trained in Family Medicine. About 5-7 percent could be managed by doctors trained in Rural Surgery. Only about 2-3 percent of India’s sick needed to see a specialist!

The trend, however, is for doctors to get more and more specialised. Many students begin training for the postgraduate entrance examination even while still studying for their MBBS. The message is passed on to them that even an MD or an MS is not enough these days. The buzzword is Super-specialisation.

As a result, the health-care delivery system in India has become dangerously inverted.

Ideally, India needs plenty of Family physicians and Rural surgeons. These are Specialised Generalists. They are equipped to handle most health problems. They are also trained to identify problems that need more specialised care, and refer patients accordingly.

Often, these Generalists have been specially trained in general care. The National Board awards DipNB degrees in Family Medicine and Rural Surgery. Sadly, these two courses have not yet gained the popularity they deserve.

It is also possible to choose to practice Generalist care even after specialisation. For example, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work as a Rural Surgeon even after specialising in General Surgery. In addition to performing surgery I was trained to do (for example, open and laparascopic operations on the abdomen, surgery on the head and neck, thyroid, breast, etc), I had to do (because I was the only surgeon available) Urology (operations for kidney, ureter and bladder stones, intra-corporeal lithotripsy, PUJ obstruction, open prostatectomies, TURPs, etc), Pediatric Surgery (colostomies, neonatal intestinal obstruction, paediatric hernias and circumcisions, undescended testis, etc), Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Caesarians, abdominal and vaginal hysterectomies, surgery for rupture uterus, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts, etc), Orthopaedics (open and closed reduction of fractures, amputations), ENT (tonsillectomies), and so on.

I have had to learn to do ultrasounds, and do simple ultrasound guided procedures like putting drains into liver abscesses, intra-abdominal collections and so on.

I have removed foreign bodies from the esophagus, ears, nose and even vagina.

I have had to give my own anaesthesia on occasion.

During some Caesarian sections, I have played the role of anaesthetist, obstetrician and neonatologist. I have given spinal anaesthesia, instructed a nurse to monitor the patient, started the Caesarian, opened the uterus, delivered the baby, put Green-Armitage clamps on the uterus to stop bleeding, and run with the baby to a side table where the baby could be resuscitated, then handed the baby to the nurses while I returned to close the uterus and complete the Caesarian.

Was that ideal? Hardly!

But under the circumstances, it was the highest quality of care available, because I was the only doctor around!

 As I watch medical education become more and more specialised, I cannot help being concerned. I realise that I too am contributing to the problem, and feel myself being forced down a path of further specialisation.

I am reminded of the old adage, “A Specialist is somebody who learns more and more about less and less, until he knows everything about nothing!”

I wonder if we are becoming more and more irrelevant to the real health needs in India.

Perhaps some amount of specialisation is needed in larger medical colleges, and in the cities. However, these are also the very places where young doctors are being trained. They learn a system of medicine which makes them irrelevant to the rest of Bharat, and fall into their place on the conveyor belt to specialisation.

I wonder if we are contributing to the vicious cycle that is tragically ruining the health ‘industry’ in India. As doctors become more specialised, we send a message to our patients that it would be better for them to see a specialist for their basic health problems. As a result, they insist on seeing specialists. Specialists are an expensive option! We have become experts at seeing health dangers when there are none. As a result, we over-investigate and over-prescribe. We are so afraid of litigation that we are unwilling to take risks, but quick to refer. We have developed tunnel vision, and see only the patient’s problem in our own field of specialisation. As a result, a patient has to see a large number of specialists for his various health problems. Investigations are repeated a number of times, many drugs are prescribed which interact with each other, and often, patients only get worse (and poorer!).

Perhaps, together with campaigning against medical corruption, we should campaign for specialised Generalists. We should appreciate them, honour them, and give them a high place in our medical fraternity. They are facing greater challenges and adapting better than many of us safely ensconced in our comfort zones.

Perhaps they should receive better incentives and rewards for the work they do.

Perhaps they should be offered special opportunities to keep abreast with developments in medicine, and to learn new skills.

Perhaps more specialists should spend time on a regular basis in generalist situations, keeping abreast of the real health needs of the country.

Perhaps some specialists should move permanently to rural India, to help address the inequality in distribution of health resources.

And, most importantly, perhaps we should allow Family physicians and Rural surgeons to play a greater role in training and impacting our young graduates and post-graduates. Would it not be wonderful if our students should spend a sizeable part of their training period working alongside these heroes?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Open reply to M: Why abortion cannot be a matter of personal choice

Here is an opinion on abortion that I have received:

I'm not sure what the medical facts are and I'm not pro-abortion but I think a woman needs to be given the choice and the right to terminate a pregnancy, if she wishes to. Also, doctors should be given the freedom to say no to perform an abortion. As a Christian, I would not abort my baby but I cannot expect every woman to share my beliefs and I would not want the government to make and execute laws based on a certain religious affiliation. The burqua or hijab is legal in some countries and I denounce that. It equally annoys me that just because a country is 'Catholic' they would base legislations on their faith.
I've been thinking about abortion a lot lately. My maid's sister-in-law is getting an abortion tomorrow. She's in her sixth month of pregnancy and found out, through a scan, that the baby does not have legs. The parents do not want to bring up such a could be many reasons - religious, financial and emotional. I'm glad that they are not forced to keep the baby and forced to raise a child they never wanted. I do not support their decision but I understand. This is a big change in thinking for me. Before I became a mom, I was anti-abortion. It was black and white for me. Becoming a parent has made me less judgemental and also respectful of other mums' choices. Over 90% of mums who find out that their baby (most likely) has Down's Syndrome abort their babies (in the US/UK, if I'm not wrong). I cannot conclude that they are all bad parents and do not have morals. I'm sure it was a tough choice for them. What about rape? If I got pregnant from a rape, I would certainly terminate the pregnancy. I'm sure God would understand that. I have thought about what God would think of me...a murderer? Or, would he understand and forgive me? A rape victim is traumatized for life and in some cases, may never be the same again. Having a child born out of rape is difficult even for the most courageous of will God not be merciful and understanding? Who knows what God thinks and how He will judge! So let's leave that between an individual and God.

Dear M,
Thank you for your comments. What I understand you to be saying is that while you would not personally abort your baby, you feel a woman should be given the right to make a choice to terminate a pregnancy.

Actually, your views are not new, or unique. This is one of the more common positions held by those who are both personally religious and pro-choice, and so I have opted to reply in an open blog post.

You say, “As a Christian, I would not abort my baby.” Let me ask, why not? Why would you not abort your baby? Think carefully before you reply.

Because you are a Christian? Or because of what you understand an abortion to be?

I would hazard a guess that you feel abortion is wrong, because it takes the life of a human being. I think that you can probably see past the euphemistic terms used by other pro-abortion activists (“products of conception”, “human fetus”, “fetal tissue”, etc,), and know that this unborn organism within the womb is, in fact, a unique human being. The paternal sperm and maternal ovum have combined at conception to form a brand-new human, with a unique DNA make up that has never been seen before, and will never occur again. This human baby is living, rapidly-growing, and special.  

So then, are you actually saying that while you would not personally kill this baby, you believe it should be legal for somebody else to choose to kill their baby?

This is not a religious issue, equivalent to choosing to wear (or not to wear) a hijab. Ultimately, the question boils down to, “What is the unborn?” There is only one reasonable answer, whatever your religion. And if you answer that the unborn is human, and alive, you cannot avoid reaching the conclusion that abortion means killing a human being. You would also be unable to give anybody else the right to perform that killing.

Perhaps you say, “This is my personal opinion, and I cannot impose my views on anybody else.”


Do you think that if somebody else disagrees or has another opinion, the unborn will cease to be human and living? Does the reality of the baby’s existence depend on our perception of it, or our own personal opinion? 

Is truth absolute, or are there different truths for different people?

Do you really think that governments should not protect the rights of these, their weakest and most helpless citizens, but rather abdicate their duty, while trusting in the goodness of human beings to make unselfish choices?

Do you think we should be allowed to kill babies because it is inconvenient, or because it will be difficult to bring them up? If abortion is alright for babies with Down’s syndrome, or for babies without legs, why is it wrong for parents to kill their fetal daughters, who may be similarly unwanted, or inconvenient, placing a financial, emotional and social burden on the parents?

Do you think all ‘imperfect’ babies should be killed? We could start with the ones who have Down’s syndrome, and then move on to the ones with club foot and cleft lip, and then on to thosewho have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, theft, and disobedience toparents. If it is okay to kill babies with Down’s while they are in the womb, what is wrong in killing them after they are born? Or when they are older? Why not kill all those who are less perfect than us, like Hitler did?

Do you think that because the choice is difficult, it is alright to make the wrong choice?

What about the child who is conceived as a result of rape? Does that make the child less human, less alive, or less precious? The truth is that this child, too, is a victim of rape, and while the mother has, indeed, gone through a harrowing experience, and faces a difficult choice, the solution is not to kill the other victim. That approach makes this terrible situation even worse.

Please do not think I have been provocative, or unnecessarily hard-hitting. I have been trying to communicate my thoughts as persuasively and forcefully as I can. I do this because I am convinced this is a crucial issue. I would go as far as saying that this is probably the most important social issue of our generation, and Christians ought to be at the forefront in speaking up for these voiceless, just as our heroes before us spoke up against slavery, racism, and apartheid.

Finally, let me also admit I have a personal stake in this discussion. You know the story of my family. I know a little more about the stories of our children, and I am so blessed that they had courageous biological mothers who were willing to make difficult choices to allow these precious children to live.

Let me suggest to you that giving their babies for adoption is an unselfish, and immensely difficult decision that women who are going through the trauma of going through an unwanted pregnancy can be strengthened and enabled to take. 

Related posts:

Image bearers

Is Genetic Selection our Moral Obligation

Only 0.006 percent of abortions are done to save the mother's life

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The studio recording of 'A Whole New World'

 Brings back all the bitter-sweet memories of my final inter-class music competition in 1997.

My class did 'A Whole New World' as the instrumental number. I played Aladdin's part on the trumpet, and John Banerji played Princess Jasmine's part on the violin. We were accompanied by piano, guitars and drums. Pradipta Ghosh painted a beautiful backdrop of Aladdin (playing a trumpet) and Jasmine (playing a violin) on a magic carpet.

 It was a magical performance, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. We won the prize, of course, though we very narrowly lost to the Batch of '96 for the prized Best Batch award.

 I wish I could find a recording of our performance.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Accurate language for abortion

“How can we speak of the termination of a pregnancy when what we really mean is the destruction of a human life? How can we talk of therapeutic abortion when pregnancy is not a disease needing therapy and what abortion effects is not a cure but a killing? How can we talk of abortion as a kind of retroactive contraception when what it does is not prevent conception but destroy the conceptus? We need to have the courage to use accurate language. Abortion is feticide: the destruction of an unborn child. It is the shedding of innocent blood, and any society that can tolerate this, let alone legislate for it, has ceased to be civilized.”
John Stott, English Christian leader and Anglican cleric

(HT: Gene Veith)

Monday, October 15, 2012

How much does a kid cost?

From: How much does a kid cost? (No, I’m selling) by Clint Archer

“How much does a kid cost?” This is a common question asked by young couples contemplating the expansion of their tribe.

If your answer is a specific amount in currency, adjusted for inflation, it would be an obstacle so intimidating that anyone who could do math would die out in one generation., since no one who knew how much it will cost would have children.

Yes, these little lives have big needs. Though it’s free to make a baby, the expenses quickly begin to mount on it’s birthday, and escalate every birthday after that, which is why we buy them gifts they won’t want a year from now: to remind us that it’s time for the next cost adjustment.

It starts with the hospital fees to safely get the tike into the expensive part of the world, car seat to get the our new cargo home, diapers ever 3 hours or so, periodic shots to prevent polio and other frightening diseases, occasional doctor’s visits (usually therapy for the mom who is going insane from sleep deprivation), and clothing that will be outgrown in 3 weeks, and a cot that will be dispensable in a few months. And that’s all before they utter a word, learn to walk and need to be shod.

Once you factor in the rising costs of education, you effectively need a
small fortune handsome and growing investment portfolio before having your first child. The more you calculate the costs, the less you feel you will ever be able to provide for your offspring. And that’s if you only have one.

Good thing mathematics is unbiblical. (A proposition I wish I had in my senior year of high school.)
In the Bible God’s ability to provide for his children repeatedly shatters any algebraic logic. Jesus fed the 5,000 men and their families from a paltry supply of fish and loaves. The most annoyed Jesus ever got with his own disciples was when they worried about where they would get their next meal.

I have three children (so far) and it’s not only because I’m bad at mathematic calculation. It’s because I have read the Bible. And you don’t need a doctorate to pick up one of the recurring themes is that God is pretty good at providing for the needs of those who pray to him.

Psalm 37:25-26 I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing. 
Luke 12:29-31 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 
Ps 127:3-5  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Oh, and here’s an interestng tidbit from Steven Mosher, the head of the Population Research Institute based in Virginia, USA:
If Americans averaged three children, the Social Security Trust Fund would be solvent forever, without recourse to raising taxes, postponing the age at retirement, or reducing benefits. America would possess a more robust economy and our standard of living would be higher.
See CNA Daily News for their report.

Conclusion: How much does it cost to have a kid? The answer is that it really doesn’t matter.

It is never sinful for married Christian couples to have children biologically or adoptive. If you ever find yourself staring at the mom with 8 kids at the mall, repent and offer her some words of encouragement. And I don’t mean “Wow, lady, you’re brave!” That is what she hears all the time. Rather say, “Your life must be full of blessing. Thank you for your example of having biblical priorities.”

So, if you were thinking its time to have (another) baby and you just need to convince your spouse, try reminding them that God’s vote on the matter is “Yes!” (Ps 127:3-5).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Questions for Our Pro-Abortion Friends, Church Leaders, and Politicians

From a brilliant article by Kevin Young

"What shall we call the unborn in the womb?

"If the entity is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn't it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one?

"So when does a human being have a right to life?

"Shall we say size matters? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people? Are men more human than woman? Do offensive linemen have more rights than jockeys? Is the life in the womb of no account because you can't hold him in our arms, or put him in your hands, or only see her on a screen?

"Shall we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth? Are three year-old children less valuable than thirteen year-olds? Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware? Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day? If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall do with the comatose, the very old, or the fifty year-old mom with Alzheimer's? And what about all of us who sleep?

"Shall we deny the unborn child's right to life because of where he lives? Can environment give us value or take it away? Are we worth less inside than outside? Can we be justly killed when we swim under water? Does where we are determine who we are? Does the eight inch journey down the birth canal make us human? Does this change of scenery turn "its" into persons? Is love a condition of location? 

"Shall we reserve human dignity only for those humans who are not dependent on others? Do we deserve to live only when we can live on our own? Is the four-month old fetus less than human because she needs her mom for life? Is the four-month old infant less than human when she still needs her mom for life? What if you depend on dialysis or insulin or a breathing apparatus? Is value a product of fully-functioning vitality? Is independence a prerequisite for human identity? Are we worth only what we can think, accomplish, and do on our own?

"If the unborn life is human life, what can justify snuffing it out? Would it be right to take the life of your child on his first birthday because he came to you through sad and tragic circumstances? Would you push an 18 month old into traffic because she makes our life difficult? Does a three year-old deserve to die because we think we deserve a choice?

"What do you deserve now? What are your rights as a human person? Did you have those same rights five years ago? What about before you could drive? Or when you used training wheels? Were you less than fully human when you played in the sandbox? When you wore a bib? When you nursed at your mother's breast? When your dad cut your cord? When you tumbled in that watery mess and kicked against that funny wall? When your heart pounded on the monitor for the first time? When you grew your first fingernails? When you grew your first cells?

"What shall we call the child in the womb? A fetus? A mystery? A mistake? A wedge issue? What if science and Scripture and commonsense would have us call it a person? What if the unborn child, the messy infant, the wobbly toddler, the rambunctious teenager, the college freshman, the blushing bride, the first-time mother, the working woman, the proud grammy, and the demented old friend differ not in kind but only in degree? Where in the progression does our humanity begin and end? Where does life become valuable? When are we worth something? When do human rights become our rights? What if Dr. Seuss was right and a person's a person no matter how small?

"Why celebrate the right to kill what you once were? Why deny the rights of the little one who is what you are?"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fishing bird-style

This smart bird uses a piece of bread to trap a fish.

I'm sure there is a potential sermon illustration in this!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is Genetic Selection our 'Moral Obligation'?

Do read this article at the Telegraph, where an article by Professor Julian Savulescu, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, is reviewed.

It seems he has suggested that it is a 'moral obligation' to move forward in designing babies and choosing the type we want rather than rely on 'the natural lottery'.
By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out. In the end, he said that "rational design" would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future. 
"Surely trying to ensure that your children have the best, or a good enough, opportunity for a great life is responsible parenting?" wrote Prof Savulescu, the Uehiro Professor in practical ethics. 
"So where genetic selection aims to bring out a trait that clearly benefits an individual and society, we should allow parents the choice. 
"To do otherwise is to consign those who come after us to the ball and chain of our squeamishness and irrationality. 
"Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children. 
"They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others." "If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should."
What he has forgotten to mention (as this article points out) is what this 'Genetic Selection' actually means.

It means testing each pregnant woman to see if the child she is bearing is 'defective' in any way......then killing the ones we feel are less than perfect. Just continue killing all the 'defective' ones until a perfect one comes along.

Are you reminded, as I am, of Hitler's quest for the perfect Aryan race, and his systematic killing of all the 'less-than-perfect' ones?

Does that sound 'Moral'?

Don't we have a 'Moral Obligation' to speak up for those who do not have a voice?

Related posts:

Image bearers

Open Letter to M: Why abortion cannot be a matter of personal choice

Only 0.006 percent of abortions are done to save the mother's life

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Only 0.006 percent of abortions are done to save the mother's life

The feet of an aborted fetus (via)
Any discussion on abortion usually leads to a discussion on this hypothetical question, "What if the mother's life is in danger because of the continuing pregnancy, and the doctor must make a choice between saving the mother or saving the child? Wouldn't an abortion in such a case be justified?"

As a doctor, I can tell you there are really very few situations in the first and second trimesters, where an ongoing pregnancy could endanger the health of the mother. For example, a patient with a very severe heart disease may not be able to carry a pregnancy into the third trimester.

I usually address this ethical dilemma by talking about the fact that it is sometimes necessary to do something that is essentially wrong, and violate a moral law, in order to really obey a higher moral law. For example, if we know a terrorist is planning to blow up a building, and there is no other option, we may need to kill the terrorist in order to save the lives of the others in the building. We would do this even though we know it is wrong to kill.

Very rarely, therefore, it may be necessary (and right) to abort a human fetus in order to save the life of the mother.

More often, this situation arises in the third trimester, especially in a mother with eclampsia (caused by very high blood pressures). In such cases, the baby must be quickly delivered, even if the chance of the pre-term baby surviving are lower because that is the only way the mother can get better. This is technically not an abortion, but, rather, an early delivery. The aim is always to deliver the baby in a facility which has a good neonatal unit, so that even such a preterm baby can have a chance to survive.

Which is why I am not surprised by the results of an audit of 6.4 million abortions in England and Wales between 1968 and 2011, which found that only 0.006 percent of procedures were performed to save the life of the mother.

I quote,
"A report to Parliament has revealed abortions performed in the United Kingdom to save the life of the mother are a stunningly low 0.006 percent of procedures.

David Alton, who for 18 years was a member of the House of Commons, wrote, “When the case for allowing legal abortion was first placed before Parliament it was argued that the law needed to be changed to deal with extremely serious situations.

“More than six million abortions later the figures reveal that in 99.5 percent of the cases where an unborn child’s life is ended there is no risk to the health of the mother,” he said.

The details came in a response from Earl Howe, the parliamentary undersecretary of state in the nation’s Department of Health, to Parliament. He confirmed from 1968 through 2011, the last year for which details were available, there were 6.4 million abortions for women in England and Wales.

“Of these, 143 (0.006 percent) were performed under Section 1(4), i.e. where the termination is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman,” he wrote.

He noted another 24,778 were done on the grounds that a continued pregnancy would involve more risk to the mother than if the unborn child were destroyed."
(HT: Veith)

Clearly, this rare indication for performing an abortion has been over-used and misused to justify framing very liberal abortion laws.

Proverbs 24:11,12
11.Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
12.If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?

Related posts:

Open Letter to M: Why abortion cannot be a matter of personal choice

Image bearers

Is Genetic Selection our Moral Obligation

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Homemakers likely to get monthly salary from husbands soon

"Housewives may soon start getting monthly salaries from their husbands with the government mulling a proposal which would make it mandatory for men to share a certain percentage of their income with their wives who stay back and do household chores."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Exam Time!

A classic from Mr Bean to illustrate what I am going though these days!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Travelling back to Vellore

Today, I will be, God Willing, travelling back to Vellore in a low-cost airline.

Hopefully, the experience will be better than this!

(HT: Kingdom People)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Caine's arcade

This is a superb video that you must watch.

(via S. D. Smith at Story Warren)

His write up sums up my own thoughts on this video.......
1) This boy! What a kid. I love this guy. He is so creative, hardworking, and dedicated. What will he do in his life? I love his work, his imaginative recreation of something he has experienced and loved, and his desire to share it with others.
2) These people loving this boy! It really revs up my heart to see this little boy receiving such care and love, to see him given such a gift. We all know stories, heartbreaking, devastating stories of children being mistreated. They blanket the news. There’s an epidemic of fatherlessness, like a cancer in the gut of the world. To see children loved, even one little boy, is a deep delight. I keep thinking of how this short film might inspire many others to do something special (even if not so grand) for a young person they know.
In addition, I admire the kid's father. Caine is creative, imaginative, enterprising and entrepreneurial because his father has given him the freedom to set himself up outside his store (and eventually take over the whole store!) given him challenges rather than easy answers, given him the simple resources and encouragement to be creative, and then supported this idea to give his kid a special treat.

Caine's Arcade is reminiscent of one of the links on one of my old posts on The 5 Best Toys of All Time. Kids do not need much to create toys that they (and we) enjoy.

I wonder what damage is done to children while growing up, so that exciting, creative, enthusiastic children become boring, busy, pre-occupied adults.

I hope I can be such a father to my kids......

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"What makes you Beautiful"

Did you think that video below was the best way to play the piano?

Think again!

(HT: 22Words)

A beautiful collage of national anthems

My cousin, Sanjay Poonen plays a number of national anthems to demonstrate what makes his company run..


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Uterus eradication Programme

I am reminded today of something that used to happen quite often while I was working in Bihar,

A lady in her late twenties or thirties would come to the hospital with abdominal pain, and we would find that she had appendicitis, and advise that she have an appendicectomy. The relatives would agree, and I would leave instructions for the operating rooms to be opened, and prepared for surgery.

When all was ready, I would be called to the operation theatre. As I entered the operation theatre, I would be met by the relatives (lots of men, and the mother-in-law)of the lady we were going to operate on. The conversation would go something like this.....

Relatives: Dr Sa'ab, are you going to do the operation?

Me: Yes.

Relatives: We have decided that we would like you to remove the gall bladder and uterus also.

Stunned silence..............then,

Me: Why?

Relatives: Since you are anyway opening the abdomen, it is better you remove the gall bladder and uterus also.

Me: But the patient has a problem only in the appendix, It is swollen and infected, and should be removed. The gall bladder and uterus are absolutely okay.

Relatives: But they may give problems later.

Me: (with an air of finality): Anything could happen later. That does not mean we should remove everything in the abdomen even before a problem happens. We are talking about a living patient here. She is not a bicycle or television set that we can remove whatever you want. There are no disposable parts. There is a problem in the appendix, and so we will deal with that. I am not going to remove anything else. Why should the lady have an unnecessary operation.

Relatives (by now quite worried, and starting to get agitated): But she is our patient! We are telling you we want you to remove the gall bladder and uterus. Suppose our patient gets cancer later? We will not be able to afford any treatment then.What's your problem? Just remove the uterus and gall bladder.

Me (also getting agitated): Look here, it is not good for the patient to have unnecessary operations. I am not willing to do anything unnecessary. If you are not happy, you can take the patient to another hospital.

The relatives would then go into a huddle, while I waited in theatre to know whether to go ahead or not. Phone calls would be made, and calculations done. I was aware that there were doctors who would be willing to do what the relatives wanted, but they were 40km away. 

Finally, a grumpy and disgruntled husband would return and permit me to go ahead with the operation. 

The truth was that many women had their uterus removed because they were afraid they would get cancer later. This prophylactic remedy for cancer was recommended and perpetuated by many unscrupulous doctors around. Removing a uterus (especially a normal one!) was a relatively easy operation, that could be performed in any of the small nursing homes around, and was a great source of income.

And now that the government is paying for these operations, I am not surprised to read these reports from BBC News and Hindustan Times that at least 2000 unnecessary uteri have been removed in Chattisgarh. The state opposition parties have been quoted as saying that 50,000 hysterectomies have been done over the past 5 years. 

Obviously, this problem is multi-factorial. On the one hand, you have doctors who are keen to continue doing unnecessary hysterectomies to keep the money flowing. They would not mind a little misinformation and fear-mongering to help this practice along.

On the other hand, this would not happen if women in these areas were not exploited, under-privileged, poor, ignorant  and uneducated. Have you heard of men lining up to have their gall bladders or prostates removed for fear of cancer?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Image bearers

12 week old unborn fetal human being. Similar millions have been aborted.

This is an important un-edited photo that deserves to become better known.

It was taken by a colleague in the room between the CB-2 and CB-3 operating rooms (where doctors from Pediatric Surgery and  Gynaecology perform surgery).

Why is this picture so important?

It is very rare that a photo can be taken of a fetal human being within his/her amniotic sac. This pregnancy was taking place in the abdominal cavity, and drawing its nutrition and blood supply from the intestinal blood supply. The mother had developed abdominal pain, and investigations had shown that the fetus was growing outside the uterus. This is why, when surgery was being performed, the baby could be removed without rupturing the sac.

It is also very rare that a photo can be taken of a complete human being at approximately 3 months of life (12 weeks gestation).

Isn't it beautiful? A tiny face. Perfectly formed little fingers and toes. Two ears.

I am reminded of the familiar passage from Psalms 139.

"For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!"

My son, Anand, saw this picture a few months back. At that time, we were reading through the passages that talk about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. I really do not know what thoughts were passing through his little 4-year-old brain, but as soon as he saw the picture, he asked me, "Dada, is that Jesus?".

Scandalised by his question, I began to explain that this was the picture of a baby who had died.

And then, the truth of his question hit me.

Yes, indeed! This baby too was made in the image of God. And, Yes! The Son of God, Jesus, was once a 12-week old fetal human being like this!


And yet, isn't it tragic.......

That 950,000,000 such unborn human beings have been deliberately killed until April 2010?

That 1,237,000 abortions take place, on the average, every MONTH? (That translates to about 29 abortions every minute!)

That it is absolutely legal to kill such babies in India? That a million such unborn babies are killed every year in India for the crime of being female? That approximately 10 million more are killed in India every year for other crimes that are yet to be the distress they might cause to their parents once they are born?

Recently, I have been saddened by how accepting we are of these crimes against the unborn who bear the Image of God. I have seen that there are so few, even among Christian doctors who should know better, who are willing to stand up for the rights of these humans who do not yet have a voice.

Welcome to Countertrend

This blog is a relic from long ago.....when I had planned to do some serious blogging. 

What happened instead is that I began two other family blogs:  Our Family and Other Animals and 24RR and beyond which have seen some infrequent activity over the years. Some posts I thought were really important I cross-posted here. This blog, however, was generally empty, and did not appear on my blogger profile.

Occasionally, however, I have felt the need to post something which I wanted more people to be able to read, critique, and debate without feeling like they were intruding on private family blogs. Hence, the decision to resurrect this blog.

I will continue to post only infrequently and when I have time. May I suggest that those of you who are interested enough to read what I write subscribe using Google Reader? This is the reader I use to subscribe to the 75-odd blogs I follow. If you have never used Google Reader, try it. It will save you time and energy. Long ago, when I entered the blogosphere, I found the instructions here helpful to get me started. Many of the old images on that post are gone, but perhaps you may still be able to get the general idea.

This blog will be open for discussion and comments. I will permit anybody to comment, though I prefer that people who comment use their own names rather than pseudonyms. I think the need to take ownership and responsibility for what we post keeps discussion civil and constructive. For the time being, however, I will allow pseudonyms. I will moderate/delete rude, profane, and obscene comments.

So, welcome to my blog! Thanks for clicking over. I hope you will enjoy what you find here, and be blessed as we interact with each other.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Letter to Dheeraj

Our dearest Dheeraj,

Someday (perhaps very soon!) you will look at this blog, and wonder how such a momentous event as you coming home to us has gone unnoticed for so long. As you will see, it is because your coming has been an earth-shaking and life-changing event. You have a very special story, and I have been waiting to write about it for a long time. I am now in Delhi to attend a Pediatric Surgery update. It is 11:30 in the night as I start typing, and I hope you and your mom are fast asleep together with Anand and Namrata, far away in Bangalore. I too feel terribly tired, but I had decided, when I started this journey, to finish writing this letter to you before I return to Vellore tomorrow evening. So without further ado, let me plunge in and tell you your amazing story........

A couple of years ago, before Namrata came home to us, we visited Vathsalya one day to have a chat with their director. During the course of that conversation, we told her that we were interested in having a ‘big’ family, and that we would be coming back to adopt more children if possible. We also mentioned that as a young Christian family, with both of us qualified doctors, and me training to become a doctor who treats little children, we would be open to the option of adopting a child with some medical needs. As you know, in a few months, God blessed us with Namrata, and she, like Anand, has brought so much joy and delight to us.

A few months ago, while I was at work, Mommy was doing family prayers with Anand and Namrata. That day, she read to them the story of Solomon, and about how God had come to him in a dream, and said He would give Solomon whatever he wanted, and Solomon had asked for wisdom.

Out of curiosity, she asked them, “Suppose God were to come to you, and say He would give you whatever you want, what would you ask Him for?”

Anand thought for some time, and then replied that he would ask for a little brother “like Rohan”. As you know, Rohan and Anand are great friends, and have such fun together.

Mommy said, “You say you want a little brother, but I have never heard you pray for one!”

Anand has never been one to let grass grow under his feet! He quickly knelt down and asked God for a baby brother. He then began to get more passionate in his prayers. “I want you to give me a baby brother like Rohan right now. In the afternoon, please send somebody, and let them ring the doorbell, and when we go to the door, let them say, ‘Here’s your baby brother!’”

When family prayers were over, Mommy called me at the hospital, and told me about Anand’s prayer. She said, “Maybe we should apply to adopt another child now!”

I told her we could wait till Namrata turned two, and then we would apply.

About a month later, while Mommy, Anand and Namrata were at Bangalore, and I was at Jhansi on work, we suddenly got a call from Vathsalya telling us about you. It seems they were finding it difficult to place you in a family because you had been found to have a medical problem. They had then remembered the conversation we had with them two years ago, and thought they would contact us. The next day, when I got back from Jhansi, we went over to Vathsalya, and met you for the first time. It happened to be Namrata’s second birthday (see God’s perfect timing!), and we took cake over for all the children at Vathsalya.

Even then, you were a little charmer. As we went through all your previous medical records, you were brought into the room. As soon as you saw us, you gave us your beautiful toothless grin. As we prayed and talked about this with our family and some friends, and did a basic test, and remembered Anand’s prayer, we could not help being amazed at how God had worked things out to ensure that you were brought into our family. We told Vathsalya that we would be happy to adopt you.

The next day, you became our little baby! We are so excited and thrilled at the way God planned and worked this out to every last detail.
You came to us even before we had registered to adopt another child. God gave you to us as a precious gift even before we asked, and so we were just so totally caught unawares. We did not have ready any feeding bottles, or diapers, or toys or clothes. In fact, we were so taken by surprise that we did not even have a name for you! (There was a little icing on the cake.....while in Vathsalya, you had been called Rohan!) But we were just so happy to have you! Anand and Namrata, especially, were super-excited. They brought their toys to Vathsalya to give to you, and tell you how much they love you. Anand told us, “I think God is answering all my prayers!”

So why have we waited two months before telling the world about you? Because our full lives have now become even fuller, more exciting, and loads more fun!

We have had to scramble to complete the requirements and register for adoption.

We have had to find a name for you. For some time we called you, ‘The Baby’, or ‘The Little Chap’ and things like that.

Dheeraj Timothy does that sound?

Dheeraj...for patience, endurance, constancy. Interestingly, Dheeraj, Anand and Namrata are all found in Gal 5:22,23 as fruit of the Spirit. May God make us a Spirit-filled family displaying His fruit to those around us!

Timothy.......after this wonderful young example in the Bible. I hope you will also inherit, like him, the faith which dwells in your mother!

Ninan......because you are now a part of us! We are so blessed and grateful.

In the middle of all this excitement, we have had to child proof again our new house. We have also had to get some new furniture, Since you came home, you have been on an accelerated development spurt! You now crawl all over the place, climb over obstacles, sit without any support and pull yourself to standing. In a short while you will be running!

You have had immunisations, and tests and somehow managed to get measles and recover from it. We are still not sure if you have any real medical problem at all!

I have had to finish my thesis, and work has been especially hectic.

Your grandmother has had a slipped disc, and then a procedure under anesthesia for her shoulder.

Through this all, we have been so blessed by friends and family, who have showered love on us. You have been welcomed wholeheartedly by everybody in the community around us.

It is now past 1:30 am, and I need to go to sleep soon. We are so happy God has given you to us, and love you so much.

Your own,
Daddy and Mommy