What mourning my husband and son taught me about the fear of death.

Image for post
Image for post

We buried my baby in a wooden box in the crook of the arm of his father. My husband was thirty-seven and had died in a car accident coming home from his work as an Orthodox priest in a sudden snow storm on a Sunday afternoon in March. My son was born at twenty weeks gestation about two weeks before his father’s death, but the ground was too frozen to bury him in the cemetery plot just then, so the funeral home offered to keep the tiny body until spring. …


Что скорбь о потере мужа и сына открыла мне о страхе смерти.

Image for post
Image for post

КАТРИН БЕЙКЕР

Мы похоронили нашего мальчика в небольшом деревяном ящике, который нёс его отец. Моему мужу было тридцать семь лет когда он погиб в автомобильной аварии во время неожиданной снежной бури по дороге домой из церкви, в которой он совершил православное воскресное богослужение в начале марта. А мой сын родился на двадцатой неделе моей беременности, примерно за две недели до смерти своего отца. Почва на кладбище сильно промёрзла, и похоронное бюро предложило нам оставить крохотное тельце у них до весны. Но когда умер и отец ребёнка, были применены устройства для отмораживания грунта и совершения зимнего погребения в Новой Англии. …


Image for post
Image for post

“The only church that illuminates is a burning church.”

I first encountered these words on a meme depicting the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. The meme appeared before the flames had even been quenched. After some digging I discovered that the quote was attributed both to the Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara, and to Buenaventura Durruti, an anarchist leader in the Spanish Civil War. Regardless of its origin, the fact that someone thought it appropriate to resurrect the quotation before the ashes of the great church had cooled is a testament to an emergent rage that deserves our attention.

The rash of attacks on churches in the months preceding the Notre Dame fire, in which ten historic churches across France were targeted, caused many to be suspicious that this fire too was man (or woman) made. The motive in those attacks according to Ellen Fantini, of the Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, was, pressure from “the radical secularists or anti-religion groups as well as feminist activists who tend to target churches as a symbol of the patriarchy that needs to be dismantled.” …


Is God really indifferent to our suffering?

Image for post
Image for post

Since my teens I had been familiar with the common atheist argument that God either does not exist or He must be utterly indifferent to our suffering and therefore not good. The first long road trip I attempted to make with my children after the death of my husband in a car accident brought new insight for me into those arguments.

My six children were between 14 and 4 years of age at the time. …


How out-of-control empathy may be polarizing our public discourse.

Image for post
Image for post
From the cover of Against Empathy: A Case for Rational Compassion, by Paul Bloom

Empathy is widely regarded as one of life’s most important skills, but can it ever go too far? In his 2016 book Against Empathy, Canadian American psychologist and professor of psychology Dr. Paul Bloom makes the case for “rational compassion”, reminding us that empathy has a dark side.

Of the possible definitions one could use, the definition Bloom uses here is “imagining the feelings of another and attempting to feel them too”. He argues that imagining someone else’s feelings is probably impossible and even if a person is successful in imagining the misery of another and reproducing it in himself we are only left with the multiplication of debilitating misery. …


Is gender merely a social construct?

Image for post
Image for post
Mater II Pia Imbar

Sexuality has become increasingly politicized in the last decade in America. It has become popular to think of gender not in a binary way but as a spectrum with as many as 50 or more possibilities, each fading into the next. In some academic and social justice circles, the word “binary” has become synonymous with what is limiting, simplistic, and worthy of being dismissed with an eye roll. Whatever spectrum we feel we need to express sexuality in these times, the binary notion should not be thrown out altogether. Perhaps there is an alternative, and useful, way of thinking about this issue. …


Virtue and valor against “Toxic Masculinity.”

Image for post
Image for post
Grampa Gene

When my 16, 14 and 12 year-old sons asked me if they could watch Thor: Ragnarok for a second time, I reminded them that it wasn’t likely to improve upon second viewing, and they good-naturedly agreed. Their next choice was Saving Private Ryan. That gave me pause. I hadn’t thought about that movie in a long time. I decided in spite of the intense realistic violence it would be much more worthy of their time.

When the movie came out it in theaters in 1998 my family took my grandfather to see it. He had been a Navy pilot during World War II and always insinuated he enjoyed an uneventful pleasure cruise around the Pacific for a few years until he finally came home from the war to Indiana to put his pilot skills to work as a crop duster. …


The great power in the unhistoric acts of the faithfully hidden life

Image for post
Image for post

Two myths shared by feminism and the radical left have a major influence on contemporary culture. The first is that the external problems of life are the most significant; the second is that men do all (or most of) the bad things. These are united by one underlying assumption: the public is more significant than the private. Yet some things are bigger on the inside.

It’s the system

The idea that systemic, chronic, historically verifiable injustice is what keeps people from their desired goals seems to be an original principle of the extreme political left. While I agree that we should not ignore the external social sins of our world, I also believe we do a great disservice to women (and all people) when we treat them as though the alleviation of social problems will result in their automatic happiness. …

About

Katherine Baker

Orthodox Christian, widow of a priest, mother of six (living) children, gardener, and writer.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store