17 May 2008

His Reward

There's been a fair few posts out there the last few days concerning the Duggar family, and the recent announcement that Michelle Duggar is having her eighteenth child, and- even more stunning by today's standards- by the same man.

Large families are not common in general, although there are some groups who do have them, albeit more quietly than the Duggars. There is, for example, the Amish. I once spoke to an Amish farmer, a very nice man, while children whirled around us, all busy, happy, working and playing. "How many kids do you have?" I asked. His answer? "I don't know. I stopped counting at thirteen." I believe my reaction was a blink. Or possibly two. As an aside, our conversation somehow touched on barn raisings, and his comment there was equally priceless: "The thing I like most about barn raisings," he said. "Is that I don't have to eat my wife's cooking." This goes to show that no matter how we dress, some things are just universal for men, everywhere.

But the Duggar's are in the public eye, and people comment on it. Some support them, some are against them. Both sides can be very loud and vocal. The side that is most vocal against the Duggar's seems to have focused their fury on the mother. This side is also, surprisingly-or not- pro-choice. I say surprisingly because Michelle Duggar has made it clear that this is her choice. Pro choice advocates had claimed as a basis of their movement that a woman has an absolute right to accept and embrace or to reject motherhood. Mrs Duggar has accepted motherhood and embraced it in a rather extreme way. Pro Choice should theoretically accept her decision. Perhaps some do. But some don't, and not only do they not accept her choice, they believe her ability to choose should be stripped from her. "That woman needs to be sterilized," has appeared on more than one message board.

I don't know enough about the family to say much about them. They seem to have the means to support the children. The children seem to be happy. I find the letter "J" thing a bit odd, but if it works for them, so be it. I am glad to see a family that so joyfully accepts children, although there is a part of me- the part that spent far too much time at a very left wing university- that thinks: "Eighteen? Eighteen?" Like that long ago day with the Amish, I can only blink.

Even though I am Catholic, and have followed the teachings of the Church, I doubt I would have tried to have so many children. I just don't have the means, and sometimes struggle to support my two. I still have enough of the left in me to wonder if there are resources sufficient in the world to support such large families. And yet, whenever this family is in the news, I can't help but wonder what my own family would have been like if our four (possibly five) miscarriages had survived.

I went to the Duggar website and found they quote psalm 127 a fair bit, especially the part "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord." This brought to mind Vivaldi's treatment of Psalm 127, particularly the Largo, "Cum Dederit". So, in honour of the Duggars and Amish (who will never see it, but there you are), here it is from Youtube:

The words translated go: "For he so giveth his beloved sleep. Lo children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb his reward." Odd. You'd think a song about the Lord blessing his people with children would sound less creepy, less ominous.

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