Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Think My Wife Is Starting to Get It

This morning, my wife was sitting on the couch in the living room area when she mentioned to me that our next door neighbor Tricia told her that she was sending her son to catechism class on Saturdays, our neighbors being Catholics. My wife said that maybe we should enroll our kids in catechism class as well.

I groaned audibly, as I had thus far managed to dodge the issue. As I discussed in previous posts, I was once Catholic and my wife, who emigrated here from the Philippines, was also raised Catholic. However, she has not attended Mass at the nearby church for years and does not manifest any demonstrations of religious devotion. She does not wear a crucifix nor do we have any religious displays in our house. In stark contrast, when we visited the house of one of her Filipina friends a couple of years ago, this lady had crucifixes and Virgin Marys in practically every room in the house, as well as a miniature shrine in the corner of the upstairs hallway.

As lucky as I am in this regard, I grudgingly accepted that I had to go through with having our children baptized. Besides, my kids were just infants at the time. It's not like they were being indoctrinated into anything. But I resolved that I would not put my children through religious education and have to go through with communion and confirmation.

But back to the conversation, I told my wife that my dad made me go to catechism on Saturdays when I was a kid and I hated it. I said that children should not be indoctrinated into a religion. Rather, they should be given the opportunity to make a choice when they become adults.

For a moment, I feared that the discussion would degenerate into an argument. But then things took an interesting turn. My wife paused a moment in thought, and then she said, "When I was a child, my mom went to church every morning and then she died in an accident when she was only 37 years old. What good did it do her?"

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at her insight. I followed up her remarks by pointing out to her how many religiously devoted Catholics there are in the Philippines who pray and go to church every day and yet look what bad shape the country is in. My wife voiced her agreement with this.

As an aside, my wife's step mom is very religious. When we stayed at their home when we visited the Philippines in 2004, she went to mass at 6 a.m. every morning at the church that was located conveniently next door to them!

I also mentioned to my wife that one of the problems that the Philippines suffers from is overpopulation, because the Catholic Church, which is very influential there, staunchly opposes all forms of artificial contraception. Stardust has a post up about this here.

The Guardian has a good article here about the consequences of overpopulation in the Philippines, focusing on a Filipino rice farmer named Marlon Tayabon, along with a companion video that is worth watching. Below are some excerpts from the article.

Just after dawn, Marlon Tayaban makes his way down the terraced paddies in Banaue, in the northern Philippines where the rice farmer has his home and fields.

The farmer is on his weekly trip to the market, where he has to buy more food than he sells because his ability to produce children has far outpaced the capacity of his land to feed them.

Thirteen years ago, when Tayaban started tilling the paddies, he had two fields and two mouths to feed. Today he has no more land, but six children. The producer has had to become a consumer. That was not a problem when grain was cheap. But in the past year, global prices have tripled.

Longer term, the challenge is to grow enough rice for an expanding population. The Catholic Church - a powerful force in the Philippines - is predicting rice instability for at least three more years. A solution will depend on improved technology, new hybrid strains, more efficient irrigation and measures to tackle the demographic drivers of demand. (Underlined for emphasis)

That part of the solution will only come about when the Filipino people are ready to throw away the mental chains that shackle them to the Catholic Church in the Philippines and reject the notion that an institution made up of celibate men and women should have a stranglehold on matters of sexual reproduction.


karat said...

this is off topic, but now my curiosity about your wife is answered (since your children are so cute). =)

Tommy said...

Thanks Karat! Whenever anyone makes a positive remark about my childrens looks, I always say that they got their good looks from their mom! They certainly didn't get it from me! :-)

Pete Murphy said...

Hello! I came across this post on your blog as the result of a Google Blog Alert for the key-word “population.” This is obviously something you care very deeply about.

I am the author of a self-published book titled "Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America." I think you may find this book to be very interesting because population density lies at the heart of this new economic theory. To make a long story short, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption of products begins to decline out of the need to conserve space. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

For most people who see never-ending population growth as a problem, their concerns are rooted in a concern for the environment. Economists, on the other hand, shrug off such concerns, claiming that man is ingenious enough to overcome any obstacles to population growth. Resources can be used more efficiently and recycled, pollution can be abated, and so on. Making matters worse, they can’t envision how an economy can remain healthy without further population growth. So our government and business leaders hold fast to their “pro growth” approach.

This book, however, finally offers the ultimate weapon for environmentalists and anyone concerned about population growth - a solid economic argument for a reduced population. It explains how everyone’s wallet is directly impacted by growth which has become cancerous, driving up unemployment and eroding their finances and quality of life. It’s written in plain language, not economic gibberish, and is aimed at average Americans.

If you’re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, I invite you to visit my web site at There you can read the preface, join in the blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It's also available at

Please forgive the somewhat “spammish” nature of the previous paragraph. I don't know how else to inject this new perspective into the debate about overpopulation without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

Keep up your efforts to raise concern about the overpopulation problem.

Pete Murphy
Author, Five Short Blasts