Same job, different uniform.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What is "Natural?"

A couple of things have gotten me thinking about this. One is, not surprisingly, labor and delivery. The other is the Little House on the Prairie books that I finished re-reading this month.

Like a lot of Americans, I've become more inclined to think well of products labeled "all natural" and usually for good reason. While "organic" is so overused it borders on absurd, "all natural" usually indicates no preservatives or no added hormones or generally less crap. I'm pro whole wheat and I vote.

Of course, in the 1880s you didn't have the options that we do today. Your food was organic because you either grew it yourself or you bought it from the guy who did. Food was carefully caught or harvested and carefully stored. They weren't processing the heck out of everything and there was no throwing away leftovers in Styrofoam boxes. Things were all natural by default.

The problem is, to paraphrase Bart Simpson, nature is a hideous bitch goddess. Like us, she is corrupted. What was good and pure is compromised.

Take the Rocky Mountain Locusts that extended their breeding ground into the Great Plains in the 1880s, devestating millions of acres of homesteaders' crops. Two competing "natural" forces collided: man, tilling the ground to produce food for survival and a bunch of hungry grasshoppers.

The Earth has always been meant to produce food for man (whereas we could argue about whether or not man was meant to hunt to survive), so in an important sense, farming is natural. So, too, do locust have to eat, and they frequently travel in swarms, so it was completely "natural" for them to migrate east for more food.

... A cloud was over the sun. It was not like any cloud they had ever seen before, wrote Laura Ingalls Wilder in "On the Banks of Plum Creek."

There was no wind. The grasses were still and the hot air did not stir, but the edge of the cloud came across the sky faster than the wind...

The Cloud was hailing grasshoppers. The cloud was grasshoppers. Their bodies hid the sun and made darkness. Their thin, large wings gleamed and glittered. The rasping whirring of their wings filled the whole air and they hit the ground and the house with the noise of a hailstorm.

They ate everything that was green and good; every leaf, every ear of corn. They ruined Pa's crop, and then they laid their eggs for a frightening reprise.

Au naturale.

It is no wonder we developed pesticides. Man, unlike beasts, can develop artificial means to protect itself against predators or the elements. Isn't that a kind of natural?

The truth is, we don't know precisely what nature should look like, only what it does. And sometimes it ain't pretty.

All creation groans Scripture says. Not unlike a woman during childbirth I suspect. In anticipation. Agony and beauty wonderfully, horrifically, inexplicably entwined until the end comes.

This is why we need thoughtful people to wrestle with questions of medicine and science. We are not called to conquer nature, but sometimes we have to try to temper her awful power--not because we can but because she is imperfect too.

And I will go easier on women who opt for comfort measures during childbirth. What is natural is not always good.

Labels: , ,

SHARE THIS: Facebook | Stumble It! | | DiggIt! | Technorati


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And despite all the pesticides, etc., we all live much longer than they did back then. And since we live longer, we get diseases that are more expensive to treat. It all seems a mess without God. He gets glory in all things. "Nature" by itself is glorious and so are the abilities that He gives to folks that are a blessing,i.e., medical technology, a dam that keeps a valley from continually flooding while at the same time lights a city. To Him we bow and marvel. Dad Friday

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blogger Everyday Anne said...

Really liked what you had to say here :) Baby pictures please!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must confess, you are so right on here! I felt the same way through out my pregancies and I secretly wondered if there was something wrong with me that I didn't want to share with the whole world my agonizing pain, discomfort, and blissful introduction to motherhood! I loved the moment that my child was set into my arms. I wouldn't want to share that with any one!!!
A beautiful moment is awaiting GF, enjoy every second of it! God Bless!!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Blogger Lois E. Lane said...

This post is genius. Am feeling lucky to be related to such a clever girl :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Post a Comment

<< Home