By now you have probably heard about the couple in Minnesota who have set up a website where people can vote on whether they should abort their child, now at 17 weeks gestation. The vote will close 16 days from now, two days before the last legal day for them to procure an abortion. It goes without saying that this is unbelievably sick, whether or not this couple intends actually to hand over their decision to strangers and whatever their ultimate decision.
What is less clear-cut is what the appropriate response to this site should be for a person of conscience. I have seen several pleas online, from people I respect, to visit the website and vote "no". Still, somehow, I cannot bring myself to click that button and thereby participate in this disgusting scheme. I understand the importance of being a strong pro-life witness, and I agree wholeheartedly with a number of messages to this couple posted on the website (which I have visited) by strangers concerned for the life of their child. In any case, leaving well thought-out comments attempting to awaken these people to the value of life seems to me a far preferable response to participating in the vote. Still, a large part of me is so revolted by this couple's whole project and the hype it has attracted that I regret even contributing to the flood of traffic to their website, let alone legitimizing it by attempting to engage with its depraved creators.
To attempt to engage with them, to show outrage and beg them to let their baby live, is exactly what they want -- they could hardly have expected any other response in setting up such a forum. These people are only going to hear what they want to hear, exercising control over the fascinated and horrified public while reserving the right to disregard the ultimate outcome of their poll. I feel manipulated enough, having been lured to their website by sheer amazement at the evil it represents, without stooping to participating further. Maybe in this case the best response is one directed away from these particular two people and toward society at large. We need to take a hard look at what it is about our culture that can produce such a total disregard for the value of life. I will pray for this couple's baby -- abominably dubbed "Wiggles" -- but also for all unborn babies and their parents, and for a change of heart in our entire culture. Maybe the shock that this website has generated will turn out to be an impetus in the right direction.
Enough of the heavy stuff. I have another divisive issue to discuss: the relative merits of cakes and pies. This weekend, I made my first pie all by myself, start to finish, crust and all. It was utterly unrewarding. I spent most of the morning in the stop-and-start process of making the crust -- making the dough, chilling it, rolling it, prebaking it -- and then, there was still the filling to go. I had a terrible time getting the pumpkin custard to set up, and the crust turned out sadly overdone.
Baking cakes, by contrast, is nearly always a pleasure. I often hang up my work for the night at 10:30 or 11 p.m. and head to the kitchen to make a cake, which will be baked and snugly sealed into my cake carrier before midnight. The process of making a cake is all active time -- except for the baking time, during which I can get some reading done undisturbed. If the cake is a success, wonderful! It's been time well-spent, and I have a tasty reward. If not, no great loss -- I've still had some steady, therapeutic baking time at the end of my day -- sans coating my kitchen table and likely the floor with butter and flour -- and it's really no great loss. Besides, there's so much variety in cakes: fancy cakes, coffee cakes, layer cakes, loaf cakes, cakes with fruit, chocolate, nuts, lots of butter, not so much butter, etc., etc. I feel like an artist when I make a cake. I felt like a maniac making a pie.
Tonight I soothed my pie-frazzled nerves by baking a cake I've had my eye on since last fall, a bittersweet chocolate and pear cake I saw on Smitten Kitchen. It's one of the best I've made, and I don't think that's just the pie frustration talking. From here on out, I'll leave pies to Mrs. Smith or whoever else cares to take the trouble over them -- I'm sticking with cakes.