Friday, July 4, 2014

Check out our new website!

The Mirror has migrated to a new website, designed by the very talented Margaret McCarthy of McCarthy Design. She did a lovely job!

Check us out over here:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beware of the Facebook Trap

By Sarah Halbur
Guest Contributor

I rarely scroll through my news feed on Facebook. But tonight, as I opened the social media hotspot, an interesting article caught my eye. I stopped to read it, and then I kept scrolling to look for more interesting articles. Several nuggets of wisdom popped onto my screen, but mixed in between were posts more akin to nuggets of time killing. As I scrolled, and the time slipped by, I realized what a time killer Facebook could become for me if I made a frequent habit of scrolling.

I'm not trying to say that Facebook is evil. In fact, if used well, it can be quite good - a means to reconnect with faraway friends and family, a useful networking tool. But it can also be a trap - a temptation to live more in the virtual social world rather than to be fully present with the people around you, a tendency to post useless things and spend hours gaping at others' useless things instead of using those hours to be purposeful, to serve, to make a difference in someone's life.

I'm not yet married or a mother, but I recently heard a young mother wisely warn against the Facebook trap. It dawned on me that I could see how easy it might be for young mothers, especially when exhausted, to sit at home and browse Facebook too often...instead of going outside and playing with her children, or reading stories, or even going out and spending real time with other young moms.

As women, we have a beautiful natural gift of connecting with other people, of nurturing others. One of the valuable articles I did read recently on Facebook was the 2014 commencement address given by a navy seal admiral. In it, the admiral noted that if each of the 8,000 students in the graduating at University of Texas changed the lives of just 10 people in their lifetime, and each of those people in turn changed the lives of 10 others, then in just one generation the whole class will have impacted the lives of 800 million people. That is powerful!

Think of how much good we could do if we were to positively impact one person each day, even by something as simple as a smile, or a helping hand, or cooking a homemade meal for our family or another family in need.

Here's some food for thought: The next time you go on Facebook, ask yourself if you are there to positively impact yourself and others, or if you're only going to kill time. If it's the latter, consider closing the news feed and opening your door instead to find the person just waiting for you to share your gifts with them.

Sarah Halbur is a communications director for Thomas More Society, a national pro-life law firm based in Chicago. She enjoys star-gazing, making music with loved ones, and creatively evangelizing, especially to children.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Miss Nevada and Self-Defense

by Julie Baldwin and Katie Robison
The Corner with a View
Laughter is Love

Trigger warning: rape discussion

Miss Nevada, Nia Sanchez, is the the new Miss USA. Sanchez made headlines when she advocated women learning self-defense as a way to defend one's self against sexual attack. Miss Nevada is a fourth degree black belt in taekwondo, and her response is being construed as "victim blaming". Let's discuss why this is not a "win" for rape culture, but a practical measure for all women.

The Washington Post reported,
Miss Nevada, the ultimate winner, was asked about the epidemic of sexual assault on campuses. Rumer Willis inquired why colleges have “swept it under the rug.” 
This is actually a serious question. 
“I believe that some colleges may potentially be afraid of having a bad reputation and that would be a reason it could be swept under the rug, because they don’t want that to come out into the public,” Nia  Sanchez said. “But I think more awareness is very important so women can learn how to protect themselves. Myself, as a fourth-degree black belt, I learned from a young age that you need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. And I think that’s something that we should start to really implement for a lot of women.”
The comment the writer of the aforementioned article followed up by saying,
This is not a bad answer, although the problem of prevention isn’t a simple question of confident women learning self-defense techniques against Stranger Danger (Sanchez’s professed specialty). For one, it usually isn’t a stranger. For another, the onus shouldn’t have to be on women to become self-defense experts. It’s on everyone to establish a baseline of consent.
But the general backlash is clear: Sanchez is victim blaming.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Work for family-minded women

By Mary C. Tillotson

Image by Plaid for Women
A few years ago, a nearly-finished homeschool mom (her youngest was in high school) ran across this article, The Bride who was Groomed for a Career, and it sparked a conversation among her nearly-finished homeschooling friends. They had all given their daughters a solid education and grounding in faith and morals, but had they taught them the skills they’d need to be wives and mothers?

At the time, I didn’t know that mom (or my opinion) well enough to say anything much, but it’s been on my mind for a while. When I was in college, I hardly felt like I had any direction, career or otherwise – college was just what you did after high school.

I turned this question over at length with my women friends in college. One friend was thinking about law school, but didn’t see the purpose in getting a law degree if she was just going to get married, get pregnant, quit being a lawyer, and homeschool her kids. She’s been out of college for a few years now and has a great career in a different field, but (as far as I know) no marriage prospects. She seems happy. Other women set out to find and follow their career passion, knowing that if they got married and had kids, they’d give it all up, but at least for now they might as well pursue their passions. Other women studied in the classic liberal-arts way, majoring in some higher-things-oriented field without thinking about careers. Of those, the ones who aren’t moms are teachers. Other women didn’t finish college because they got married and pregnant before graduation.

I graduated, worked as a small-town reporter for a year, got married, spent the next year doing odd jobs to make ends meet, and now I’m back in journalism, and I’m not (at the moment) raising kids. I think I’m finally starting to find answers.

My advice to family-minded female college students?

Be aware that there are plenty of unknowns. You might dream of being a homeschool mom of many but never find a man you want to marry; you might dream of an awesome political career but unexpectedly meet the man you really want to raise kids with. You might marry and realize you and your husband aren’t able to conceive children, temporarily or permanently.

I have anecdotal evidence from talking to my friends and statistical evidence from seeing polls: a majority of mothers want to work part-time in some professional field. A few want to work full-time and a few don’t want to work professionally at all, but most want to keep being professional while reserving most of the day for their kids.

When you’re in college, I think it makes sense to do what you love and pursue a career in that field. Keep in mind the usual factors like how much the field pays, whether jobs are available in that field, whether you’ll have to go to grad school (and if it’s worth the time/money), etc., but also consider how flexible that field can be. If you’re a journalist or writer, it’s very easy to do that full-time or part-time. Teaching can go part time pretty easily too. Other fields don’t flex into part-time near as easily. I don’t mean you should avoid them; I do mean you should think about that.

Do you have the skills it takes to raise kids and keep house? I don’t think this should be a big concern. A mom of six with two in diapers told me no matter how prepared you are for motherhood, you make 90 percent of it up on the spot. I suppose it might help to have enough exposure to kids that you aren’t afraid of them, but from everything I’ve seen, taking care of babies is hard work but not complicated. As they get older you get wiser and read more books and talk to more people about it; I don’t see how a lot of pre-marriage preparation would be helpful. The rest of keeping house is mostly cooking, cleaning, and paying bills – none of that is hard to learn, and anyway I think men and women ought to have these basic skills before college.

I know a lot of you readers have different experiences than I have. Some of you are moms, some of you are single, some of you are in college, some have careers and some don’t. What do you think about all this?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Film Review: Mostly Martha - A Feast of Love

By Emina Melonic
IlluminationThe Magic Lantern

Displaying MostlyMartha Poster.jpgMartha Klein is a chef.  Not just any kind of chef.  Cooking is an art form – it involves precision, perfection, beauty, and naturally, exquisite taste.  She is a chef at an upscale restaurant and she lives in an absolute certainty of what a meal should look and taste like, down to the degrees and minutes it takes to make foie gras, for instance.  Martha is in control and lives in a world whose center is a seamlessly presentable and delicately tasty plate of food.  But, this control vanishes in an instant when her sister is killed in an automobile accident.  Martha’s niece, an 8-year-old girl Lina, miraculously survives and for the time being, begins to live with Martha.  The chef begins to lose any sense of reality and the world she has created.
Mostly Martha (2001, German title Bella Martha) is a film directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, and the role of Martha is played Martina Gedeck.  Among other things, Gedeck is known for her intense role in The Lives of Others (2006) and she brings same intensity to the role of Martha – a combination of both stoicism and vulnerability.  Maxime Foerste brings a feeling of a suddenly motherless child into the foreground as both she and Martha are trying to make sense of the absurd situation.

Friday, May 30, 2014

"The only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love."

photo by Tim
By Mary C. Tillotson

I was saddened to hear about the shooting over Memorial Day weekend. Like many of the mass shootings we’ve seen over the past few years, it was arguably a “suicide with murder as an epiphenomenon, rather than murder that happens to end in suicide.” Most times when I read about these kinds of events, my heart breaks for the shooter, who always seems to feel deeply alone and unloved.

In the days following a tragedy, it’s only natural to feel a desperate desire to undo it, to rewind and try again to get it right. But we can’t, so we wonder how it could have been prevented and how to prevent it from happening again. I saw this in my news feed from Politico last week:

'RED FLAGS CAME TOO LATE': The start of Memorial Day weekend was interrupted by tragedy late Friday when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and wounded 13 before killing himself near the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Los Angeles Times reports on the warning signs: "According to interviews with Rodger's acquaintances, law enforcement officials and mental health professionals, all that was known about the 22-year-old college student was that he was terribly sad. And being sad is not a crime, nor the sort of mental state that would, alone, cross a legal threshold requiring official response."

Being sad is not a crime, nor the sort of mental state that would, alone, cross a legal threshold requiring official response.

That, taken alone, is as it should be – it’s frightening to imagine a world where those not showing sufficient cheerfulness are automatically referred to a government psychologist for evaluation. But that’s bureaucracy, politics, and a legal system, and I don’t want to talk about any of those. I want to talk about real human relationships, and love.

People need to know they’re loved. This is an awkward thing to talk about in politics and policies and legal systems, and in one sense it doesn’t really belong there. Love isn’t the sort of thing that works in systems. Love isn’t a list of obligations that can be written down, tallied up, or checked off; love is the result of a decision to orient your life and dispose your heart in a way that prioritizes others.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

'Why Is That Girl Wearing No Pants?'

By Joy Pullmann

Yesterday I was at the grocery store with my two toddlers. Before us walked a young lady in brightly bolored volleyball shorts, which is to say, underwear people call pants. My three-year-old son gaped at her and said, entirely innocently, "Mom! Why isn't that girl wearing any pants?"

I fumbled about trying to think of a thing to say that would be true but not close off future conversations on the subject. I came up with, "Because her mother did not teach her to wear pants." My son accepted this but was still quite confused as to why anyone would walk around in public with no pants. (And this little boy is no prude—for one, he whips down his pants in the front yard when he needs to urinate. We stopped that one, though.)

Usually when we see a young lady wearing really scandalous clothing, her mother is not too far behind, and the mother's dress makes it obvious that neither of them has any clothing propriety. In this case, the mother looked normal. But I know that mothers nowadays have lost the ethos and habit of training their children in what is right and wrong, in dress and in everything else. This is probably both because it's a lot of work to enforce morality on young barbarians, and because nowadays people falsely believe that there is no right and wrong—in appearance, or anything else. As a consequence, people really never become true adults.