“Now We Know Her”


My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: ‘You said the same thing a minute ago’… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.”

The aged mother has Alzheimer’s disease. Will Daughter take care of Mother? Will she deal with her kindly? I first saw this endearing note when my friend Diane posted it on her daughter Delaney’s facebook wall. It’s a sweet sentiment. It speaks volumes about the structure of life, parent-child relationships, and the family bonds that tie one generation to the next. The sweetest thing was Delaney’s response, which spoke volumes about her love for her mother.

But there was something really ugly behind this that neither Diane nor Delaney saw. I’ve known Diane a long time, long enough to remember when she was pregnant with Delaney. Ardently pro-choice, Diane sought testing to screen for genetic disorders. During that time, she announced loud and clear for all to hear that, were any anomalies to be detected, she would terminate this pregnancy. It was as if she were daring anyone to take issue with her over it. And you better be alright with that, seemed to be the unspoken end to the sentence.

To my knowledge no one objected, and Delaney, all her genes lined up appropriately, was born a few months later.

All’s well that ends well, right? Maybe. But maybe not. A pro-life mother may, or may not, feel moved to plead for grace and mercy when her ‘quality of life’ begins to change. But were she to do so, she would be speaking and acting with integrity. She would be practicing what she’d been preaching, so to speak. But what about a pro-choice mother? What about Diane?

Over the years, Diane and I have interacted a little about the pro-life/pro-choice divide. I recall one time asking. “What would you do if Delaney suffered a debilitating accident? Would you terminate her if the lifelong handicap were just too much for you to handle?”

“Oh, no!” she said quickly, adamantly.

“Why not?”

“Well, because, now we have her. Now we know her, and we love her,” she said it quickly. It all made such perfect sense. Why didn’t I get it?

Actually I do get it. In fact, I get it more than she does.

Here’s what I get: An ethic that says, “If we know you, love you, and want you, you get to live.” leads to a world in which your life will eventually hang on whether or not someone else knows you, loves you, or wants you. And you may end up pleading, groundlessly, for someone to deal mercifully and kindly with you.

It will never be any other way. For if the authority to decide the worthiness of a given human life rests with other humans, then this is how it will always be: One human life at the mercy of another. Daughter at the mercy of Mother; Mother at the mercy of Daughter. It’s only when we recognize that the worthiness of any human life begins with the Creator of all human life that we have a moral leg to stand on. I got that. Diane didn’t.

Fortunately for her, not only did Delaney have her genetic ducks in a row, she also has her morals and ethics sufficiently lined up too. She will undoubtedly love and care for her Mom till her dying day.

But what if she didn’t really care about her mother’s well-being? A pro-choicer herself, what if she exercised her freedom to choose differently? What if Mom’s anomalies were simply too much to adjust to? Well, that would just be too bad for Mom, wouldn’t it? What goes around comes around, and karma’s a bi*ch.

There is one thing about this that I don’t get. What exactly are pro-choice mothers and daughters thinking when they defend abortion together?

That’s what I don’t get.

Diplomat on Ice

Katarina Witt Gold MEdalsEast German ice skater Katarina Witt was arguably the best skater in the world in the 1980s, earning gold medals in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games. Graceful, smart, confident and articulate, for many she was the face of East German socialism. One Western headline dubbed her, “The Shining Star of the GDR.” (“German Democratic Republic” – the official name of East Germany.)

During the Cold War years, two mutually exclusive political systems stood at an impasse for decades. One venue for proving superiority on the world stage had been sports, and for that reason, East Germany, geographically miniscule compared to the Soviet Union and China, devoted maximum resources to athletics. With Katarina, they scored gold.

The Diplomat, the sixth film in ESPN Films’s Nine for IX Series, will premiere on Tuesday, August 6th at 8pm, ET, on ESPN. The Diplomat – so named because it was said that East German athletes “were raised to be diplomats in track suits” – examines the rise of Katarina’s skating career against the socio-political backdrop of the fall of Communism. Katarina loved to skate; she loved the competitive challenge and the art of performing. And the prospect of being able to travel, to see parts of the world others weren’t allowed to see, was an incentive to train hard.

Ironically, her success may have played a small role in the massive upheaval that would soon sweep East Germany toward the Communist dustbin of history. After the 1988 Olympics, Katarina was allowed to travel outside East Germany to perform in Carmen on Ice. Never before had an East German athlete been granted permission to even perform as a professional, let alone in a Western nation in pursuit of a capitalist enterprise. The news appeared in West German papers and soon, made its way into East Germany.

In October, 1989, tens of thousands of fed up East Germans took to the streets in Leipzig, sometimes defying cold rain, demanding freedom – free elections, free speech, and freedom to travel. Katarina watched it all on the news from her hotel room in Seville, Spain.

Sadly, but hardly surprisingly, as this innate spirit of freedom awakened from its 40-year slumber, along with it came a surge of pent-up anger and hostility. Whereas the average East German might wait fourteen years for a car, which probably wouldn’t even have been a very good one, Katarina had a sleek sports car, a penthouse apartment, and a country retreat. It was typical of Socialist/Communist modus operandi. Those who serve the interests of the rulers share in the spoils of the rule. The useless get nothing.

With this turn of events, Katarina went from celebrity to persona non grata almost overnight. But there was more disillusionment to come. In January, 1990, East Germans stormed Stasi Headquarters, where the East German Secret Police archives were held. Three thousand people applied to see their own files in the first 24 hours. Katarina was shocked to discover that the Stasi had been watching her since she was seven years old. Her file consisted of 27 boxes containing 3,500 pages of surveillance information. Worse, trusted personal friends had signed papers, albeit under threat of imprisonment, to become what the Stasi called “unofficial co-workers,” otherwise known as informants. This too is part and parcel to Communist rule.

To her credit, Katarina speaks as graciously today as she moved across ice then. She says she will always be thankful for the State’s support in helping her pursue her skating dreams, and expresses no bitterness toward Stasi informants. She acknowledges that it may well have been what they had to do “to survive. It’s their story. You have to let go, and you have to close the chapter to be free again.”

The DiplomatAt the same time, she’s become convinced that people should not be arbitrarily confined in a country. “You should be allowed to travel the world, to make up your own opinion. You need democracy.”

She would know. The Diplomat is worth watching for the beauty of Katarina Witt and her skating alone. But as socio-political autopsy, it’s pure gold. Born in Europe, the political offspring of a German in fact, East German Communism barely survived 40 years before it gasped and collapsed into so much Berlin Wall rubble.

Westerners would do well to take note and learn from this diplomat.


Sex Trafficking image

Photo by Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department

Operation Cross Country, an FBI sex trafficking sweep, concluded this past weekend. 105 minors were rescued, and 150 pimps and other alleged perpetrators were arrested. According to the FBI, the operation covered 76 cities. It is the seventh and largest enforcement action of this type to date.

The Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF), who carried out the operation, said that at-risk youth – often foster children or runaways – are especially vulnerable to human trafficking. Ronald Hosko of the FBI said the pimps entice them with compliments or ask whether they want to “make some money.” Staca Shehan, with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children added, “These traffickers are great at reading people. They look at these victims and quickly assess, ‘Do they need an older boyfriend? A protector? A supplier? Do they just want to feel cool?'”

In short, they look for a way “in.” Thank God for the intervention of proper law enforcement. But while we rightly celebrate the rescue of these young people, it’s an opportune moment to pause and reflect: How can we better protect children from those who would exploit them this way? Moreover, how can we best prevent it in the first place?

The answer isn’t complicated. The ancient Judeo-Christian ethic of keeping sex in marriage is the best preventative known to humankind. For the simple reason that marriage ties children to their parents. Bob Hamer who spent three years investigating the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) as an undercover FBI agent wrote in his book The Last Undercover that “the most easily conquered target is one without a strong, loving, caring father figure.” And marriage, rightly understood and faithfully observed, keeps that father in the picture.

As Anthony Weber of the Christian Apologetics Alliance noted, “The absence or dysfunction of fathers is a theme that YA [young adult] entertainment addresses over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.” When he’s missing, there will inevitably be a hole. And it’s a void that predators lie in wait to invade.

Parents tied to their children – present, involved, and alert – are a child’s first line of defense against them. Predators will look for a way in, but if parents are guarding the gate, they’re not likely to find one.

Marriage Child Protective ServicesTwo points to ponder can be drawn from this:

  1. Young men and women, if you want to do what’s best for your children, save the sex for marriage. And once married, be faithful.
  2. Once you become parents, stay present, active, and alert. You are your child’s guardian, protector, and defender.

It may take a while, but they’ll probably thank you for it one day. In the words of an ancient Hebrew proverb, “They will rise and call you blessed.”



Restart RainbowIt’s been quite some time since I’ve posted here. For those of you who subscribe or follow, thank you for staying with me. I really do appreciate it. I didn’t fall off the face of the earth, though you could be forgiven for wondering what happened. The short answer, honestly, would probably be equal parts life changes and laziness.

Life changes: For me, the New Year brought an unexpected disruption which necessitated an immediate rearrangement of a lot of things for me, schedule-wise. Those things happen. To do what priorities demand, one must adjust, which I did.

Laziness. Things began to settle down for me about April, and that’s when the laziness part crept in. Experienced writers will tell you you should write something every day. I think I understand why. Thinking and writing are like the flow of a waterway. It must keep moving to stay fresh. I kept up with commitments and ongoing assignments, but the longer I went disengaged here, the more things I seemed to have to say, but the bigger the “block” that stood in the way of my coming out of seclusion to say it. Procrastination breeds procrastination. If you’ve ever stayed with something for very long, I bet you can relate.

So given that it’s been a while, this is a good time to revisit and reiterate two aspects of this place as a cyberspace outpost.

Focus: I spent some time re-thinking what I want the organizing principle to be. I named this blog Right Angles for a reason. You can read about that on the About page, and I hope you will. In short, I do believe there is such a thing as objective truth. People’s opinions may land scattershot all over the board, but an opinion does not a truth make. The objective here is to shed light on truth, especially truth that matters. There are a lot of ways to do that.

To expand on that concept and to provide a foundation for dialogue, I’ve added a personal Statement of Faith page, which I hope you’ll take a look at as well. Of course, you are welcome to participate in discussions here whether you agree with it or not. Which leads to my next point —

Atmosphere: In pursuit of respectful, mutually edifying dialogue, I have added a Comment Policy. Please do read that before adding any comment to any post.

My hope is to get back to more regular activity here. Also, when I see something really good, I will reblog it. I look forward to hearing from you and to some healthy, mutually-edifying discussion.


A Review of The KinderGarden of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks, by Evan Sayet

Evan Sayet

Evan Sayet

In March, 2007, Evan Sayet delivered a speech to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. called “How Modern Liberals Think.” It became a YouTube sensation. Andrew Breitbart called it “one of the five most important speeches ever given.”

He started off his talk by saying, “I’ve got to imagine that just about every one of us in this room recognizes that the Democrats are wrong on just about every issue. Well, I’m here to propose to you that it’s not just ‘just about’ every issue; it’s quite literally every issue. And it’s not just wrong; it’s as wrong as wrong can be.” A comic at heart, but deadly serious about the threat Modern Liberalism and its kissing cousin, Progressivism, pose to decent people everywhere, Sayet says that the Modern Liberal will at every turn side with:

  • The evil over the good
  • The wrong over the right
  • The lesser over the better
  • The ugly over the beautiful
  • The vulgar over the refined, and
  • The behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success.

How can he make such sweeping predictions? Sayet grew up a liberal, New York Jew, but now calls himself a 9-13 Republican. In The KinderGarden of Eden, How the Modern Liberal Thinks, the extrapolated book version of that speech, he demonstrates quite cogently (and a bit wonkishly, but it’s a delightful kind of wonkish) how the Modern Liberal’s actions invariably follow what he calls The Four Laws of the Unified Field Theory of Liberalism:

  1. Indiscriminateness – the total rejection of the intellectual process – is an absolute moral imperative.
  2. Indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policies. It leads to siding only and always with the lesser over the better, the wrong over the right, and the evil over the good.
  3. Modern Liberal policies occur in tandem. Each effort on behalf of the lesser is met with an equal and opposite campaign against the better.
  4. The Modern Liberal will ascribe to the better the negative qualities associated with the lesser while concurrently ascribing to the lesser the positive qualities found in the better.

Sayet likens the intellectual development of the Modern Liberal to that of a kindergartner, and the credo driving him to the catchy title of Robert Fulghum’s 1988 bestseller, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. While Fulghum’s musings are sweet, and they do capture some of the basics of good character – share things, play fair, don’t hit people … in short, Be nice – as a comprehensive ideology, they are woefully insufficient for the demands of adult self-government in a dangerous world.

Think about it: kindergarten only works if there is at least one grownup in the room capable of taking charge and handling the big problems. Picture a day in the life of a kindergarten class if the teacher never showed up. Similarly, turning America and her hard-won liberties over to Modern Liberals would be akin to turning the entire schoolhouse over to the five-year-olds.

KinderGardenofEden_THUMBNAIL_IMAGE“So long as there were a sufficient number of people of God and science [the grownups] doing things and making things, the Modern Liberals could remain forever like Adam and Eve in Eden or the child on the kindergarten playground,” Sayet concludes. But that era is passing. “Today, we are at a tipping point where the people of God and science will soon be overwhelmed by the demands of taking care of the permanently infantalized. It is unsustainable. If the system collapses under the weight, the future is not merely a slightly less wonderful existence, it is … ” in the words of Thomas Hobbes from Leviathan, “nasty, brutish and short.”

“We’re not there yet,” Sayet warns, “but we’re close.”

I think he’s right. Sure, it would be nice to stay five and let someone else be responsible for the big problems of liberty and provisions. But we’re fast approaching the point where that is no longer feasible. The five-year-olds outnumber the grownups and the brutes are closing in.


A Review of The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief by Larry Alex Taunton

LarryTauntonLarry Taunton takes ideas seriously. The Founder and Executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the public defense of the Christian faith, Taunton has personally engaged some of Christianity’s most imposing antagonists. The Grace Effect opens with Taunton and Christopher Hitchens in a restaurant debating Hitchens’s insistence that the world would be a better place without Christianity. Taunton meets Hitchens’s arguments just fine, but he only relates the scene to set the stage for his real rejoinder, who lives, breathes, and transcends mere dialectics.

Sasha survived Odessa Orphanage #17 with her sweetness of soul intact until age ten, at which point Larry and the Taunton family arrived in Ukraine to adopt her. The odyssey, which forms the bulk of the narrative and which Taunton relates with remarkably kind wit, brings him square up against the institutionalized corruption, iron-souled indifference, and wholesale societal decay that have been the inexorable constants of Sasha’s life up to this point. Some say the region suffers from a “Communist hangover,” but that doesn’t fully capture the social ruin. The human catastrophe of today’s former Soviet bloc was neither self-inflicted nor short-lived, and, as inevitably happens, it’s the children who take the worst of it. The effects are legion:

Dehumanization. Life is cheap, people are expendable, and one of the basest of human inclinations – the impulse to “lord it over another’ – mucks up everything, as evidenced by the ubiquitous tendency of officials to make people wait, as a petty expression of power, simply because they can. The entire system deems people unworthy, and orphans unworthy in the extreme. Worse, the indifference is often papered over by a veneer of self-righteousness. The conditions in which Sasha lived “had all the charm of a chicken house,” Taunton notes wryly, after relating his first meeting with the Adoption Inspector, who’d grilled him on the size and features of the home to which he would be transferring her charge.

Corruption. The apparatus by which people’s very lives are determined runs on bribery. Brief negotiations accompanied by “gifts” move paperwork from stack to stack. On a national level, what this adds up to is a society governed by jungle law, only the jungle has evolved into cobbled, institutional compartments. “In retrospect,” Taunton writes, “I would have preferred crime of the organized type. Then, at least, the process might have been efficient.”

Despondency. Taunton quotes a Soviet era proverb that captures the aimlessness of a culture stumbling along, giving “nauseating obeisance” to the state because it knows no other way, “We dig iron ore from the ground to make steel to make big machines that dig iron from the ground, to make steel to make big machines …” Such is the foggy milieu of a national life bereft of Christian leavening.

The “grace effect,” writes Taunton, “is an observable phenomenon – that life is demonstrably better where authentic Christianity flourishes.” Conversely, where Christianity is suppressed, grace dries up. Taunton’s greatest service, aside from rescuing Sasha out of this dystopia, is that he draws this connection between the atheism underlying socialism and the exorbitant toll it exacts on real people.

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “Socialism is … before all things the atheistic question, … the question of the tower of Babel built without God, not to mount to Heaven from earth, but to set up Heaven on earth.” Compared to the Eastern European orphanage archipelago, it is the “Christianized” West that is Heaven on earth.

Ideas have consequences. Just ask Sasha.

This article first appeared in Salvo 21, Summer 2012.


Related Reading:

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” ~ King Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9.

I pass this on with great sadness and a deep sigh. But it’s insightful, and we do well to pay close attention. And take heart friends. In this world we will have trouble, but Jesus the Christ has overcome the world.

Truth in Grace


The following excellent piece was written by Matt Barber and was found on WorldNetDaily:

Modern-day liberals – or “progressives” as they more discreetly prefer – labor under an awkward misconception; namely, that there is anything remotely “progressive” about the fundamental canons of their blind, secular-humanist faith. In fact, today’s liberalism is largely a sanitized retread of an antiquated mythology – one that significantly predates the only truly progressive movement: biblical Christianity.

While visiting the Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, Va., a few weeks back, I heard a troubling, albeit thought-provoking, sermon. Pastor John Mabray addressed the ancient Canaanite practice of Baal worship and, though he didn’t reveal it by name, connected the dots to its present-day progeny: liberalism. Baal, the half-bull, half-man god of fertility, was the focal point of pagan idolatry in Semitic Israel until God revealed His monotheistic nature to Judaism’s forebears.

In his sermon, Pastor…

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Signs in the Stars


“Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

Thus was the question posed by the Magi upon arrival in Jerusalem, presumably to Herod, the king in situ at the time.

What had they seen? Why did they come to Jerusalem? It makes sense that, if they were looking for the King of the Jews, they would go to Jerusalem. But how did they know that a king had been born? A King who would be “King of the Jews?” What did they see?

Fred Larson got interested in that question after setting up Christmas decorations on the lawn with his daughter, Marian. She’d wanted three wise men in the yard and then said, “Daddy, make a star!” What’s a Dad to do? He made a star.

But that got him thinking. Well …what was the star? When he came across a science article by a Ph.D. astronomer who took the position that the Bethlehem star had been a real astronomical event, he set out to investigate this puzzle.

He went to the book of Matthew, specifically chapter two, and, paying careful attention to every word, noted nine data points about the star, according to what Matthew had recorded:

  1. It indicated a birth.
  2. It had to do with the Jewish nation.
  3. It had to do with kingship.
  4. The magi saw the star in the east.
  5. They had come to worship the king.
  6. Herod asked the magi when the star appeared. This indicates that he hadn’t seen it or otherwise been made aware of it, implying that the star was not overly striking in the sky. It did not command attention, except to those who were looking with a certain wisdom and knew what to look for.
  7. It appeared at a specific time.
  8. It went ahead of the magi as they traveled to Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
  9. It stopped over Bethlehem.

This was a considerable amount of data to work with, but it presented quite a puzzle. He bought an astronomy software package and started studying the sky. Because of the extreme precision of planetary motion, modern software allows us to see, not just snapshots but simulated animations, of the night sky from any point on the globe at any time in history.

He quickly ruled out a shooting star, a comet, and an exploding star or nova as explanations for the Bethlehem star because they didn’t fit the data recorded by Matthew. That still left another class of stars, however: the planets, which at that time were called “wandering stars.” The word ‘planet’ comes from the Greek verb for ‘to wander,’ and the planets were called that because they ‘wandered around’ in the sky against a backdrop of apparently fixed stars.

Might one of the planets have something to do with the star? Larson, an attorney skilled in analytical thinking, proceeded with this as his working hypothesis.

He zeroed in quickly on Jupiter, the largest planet, named after the highest god in the Roman pantheon, which has been known as the “King Planet” from ancient times. Magi watching the night sky from Babylon would have seen Jupiter rise in the east and then form a conjunction with a star called Regulus (which also means ‘king’) maybe 2-3 times in their lifetime. It would be a notable occurrence, but not an exceedingly rare event.

Larson pressed on. As planets wander across the sky, he discovered, they will at times go into what astronomers call retrograde motion. They will make what appears to be an about face loop and then continue on their way. They aren’t really reversing or looping, but viewed from Earth, this is what the path looks like because from Earth we view it from a moving platform. He looked at Jupiter’s retrograde motion with respect to Regulus and discovered that on very rare occasions, Jupiter does what appears to be a triple loop around Regulus.  One of those conjunctions occurred in September of 3 BC on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Now this is something to sit up and take notice of – the King planet forming a conjunction with the King star, even drawing a celestial “halo” around it. This event would have been exceedingly rare and would certainly have captured the attention of watchful stargazers. But would it really move them to mount their camels and take a 700-mile journey across the desert to Jerusalem?

Probably not, but there was still more going on. Babylonian astronomers were well familiar with the constellations of the zodiac – the same ones by which astrologers today make inane predictions. Larson “turned on” the constellations (meaning he had the software draw them out and label them on the screen), and he watched the September, 3 BC retrograde pattern Jupiter displayed with respect to Regulus against the backdrop of the constellations.

What he discovered was a remarkable display involving the constellations Virgo – the virgin, and Leo – the Lion (the lion symbolizing the kingly Jewish tribe of Judah, from which the Messiah was to come). For someone studied in Jewish history and Messianic prophecies, the symbolism would have been stunning.

Larson asked still another question. What if this Rosh Hashanah celestial display was the announcement in the stars, not of the birth of the Messiah, but of his conception? He ran the software forward nine months to see what the sky looked like then. What he found pretty much rocked his world, and I can’t do it justice in an ordinary written blog post. You’ll have to watch the presentation (and I highly recommend you do, you can get it from his website or Netflix) to see it all play out.

But I will leave you with this: Never be afraid to press the Scriptures and investigate the universe. You will find that the heavens indeed declare the glory of God, and all the Earth sings his praises.

And these: according to Starry Night astronomy software, here are three astronomical occurrences that took place during the years 3-2 BC:

  1. In September, 3 BC, during Rosh Hashanna, Jupiter “crowned” Regulus in the constellation Leo.
  2. In June, 2 BC, the king planet, Jupiter, and the mother planet, Venus, formed a conjunction, creating the brightest star anyone on earth would ever see.
  3. In December, 2 BC, Jupiter went into a small retrograde loop in the southern sky, meaning it would appear to be stopped over Bethlehem if you were looking at it from Jerusalem.


Coincidences? Fabrications? Or the Lord of heaven and Earth announcing the invasion of the Jewish King in the stars?

You decide.

Lisa Miller was born on September 6th, 1968, the result of an unplanned pregnancy. Whenever her mother was upset with her, she would pull out the oval, peach colored pack of birth control pills (she’d saved it) to show Lisa the one week that was missing. That was the week she was conceived. A bright child, Lisa read voluminously to fill the loneliness.

In the absence of parental support, she devised coping mechanisms. Addiction #1, securing attention and control through food, started at age six, after she had become ill and had been hospitalized and fed intravenously. She added addiction #2, speed in the form of diet pills, at age seven, when her parents divorced. Addictions #3 and #4, cigarettes and pornography, followed during the middle school years. She stole the cigarettes from her father’s store when she visited on weekends, and the pornography came through her mother, who bought magazines and taped pictures of the women to the wall. Lisa taught herself what was going on by reading child development books. In addition, her mother would bring home legal briefs she was typing, many of which involved sex crimes and murder plots, and have Lisa read them. “It was during these years that I became quiet on the outside but wild on the inside,” Lisa would write years later.

In high school, she added addiction #5 after picking up a razor blade to kill herself. “I was too chicken to go through with it but discovered that I liked the feeling I got after cutting myself. … I was hooked. I cut on a regular basis.” Addiction #6, alcohol, preferably vodka, joined the mix in college, in conjunction with the man who would become her husband for a brief time.
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Paula struggled to maintain her balance in Breakfast Formation. At West Point Military Academy, cadets must be accounted for at all times, and as a sophomore, she was accustomed to this drill. Dressed in full uniform, shirts tucked in, buckles and shoes shined, backs straight, row upon row of cadets were counted every morning before breakfast. But this morning she didn’t feel well. A nearby parking lot had been re-tarred, and the smell was making her sick. “I think I’m going to faint,” she said, leaning against her friend.

“Oh, no you’re not,” he pushed back just enough to help her stand on her own. Paula made herself suck it up and held on just as an upperclassman walked by. “Johnson, are you okay?” he asked, genuinely concerned. “I’m not really sure,” she managed to answer, but the look on her face spoke volumes. He pulled her out of line, and when she doubled over, convulsing in dry heaves, he sent her to sick call.

Walking to the campus clinic, Paula actually felt a little relieved. Maybe I have the flu, she thought. A day of rest would be nice, even if she had to be sick to get it.

But Paula didn’t have the flu. Dr. Yavorek, a female civilian doctor, was on duty that morning, and after Paula described her symptoms, Dr. Yavorek got right to the source of her malady. “Is there any chance you could be pregnant?”
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