We talk about "ghosts" quite a bit at this blog, by which we mean religious issues that are hiding, uncovered, in mainstream news stories. Well, here's a great one that Rod "crunchy con" Dreher spotted the other day.
To understand this one, if helps to be familiar with a great, great novel called "The Children of Men" by the mystery master P.D. James.
No! Not the movie, which strips almost all of the stunning religious imagery out of this masterpiece and, I would argue, the doctrinal theme that unites its vision of life in the ultimate, to quote the late Pope John Paul II, "Culture of Death."
Here's Rod's lede to set the scene:
In P.D. James' dystopian novel "The Children of Men," desperate and deranged women in a barren world have taken to treating dolls as if they were real children. Guess what? American women are already doing it.
Many people like to stop and play with newborn babies, but now some adult women are playing house with fake babies. Some women are even going as far as taking day trips with the fake babies to the park, out to eat, and even hosting birthday parties for them.
Forty-nine-year-old Linda is married with no children of her own. Now, she says she feels like a mother because she has Reborns -- dolls made to look and feel like the real thing. ... These women are paying big bucks for this hobby, from $100 to a few thousand dollars. For Reborn owner Lachelle Moore, the fake babies fill a void.
"What's so wonderful about Reborns is that, um, they're forever babies," said Moore, who has grown children and grandchildren. "There's no college tuition, no dirty diapers ... just the good part of motherhood," she added.
In her Kansas City home, Moore even has an elaborate room for the dolls. She organizes birthday parties, bakes a cake and even invites guests.
Psychologists say there could be a problem if and when these women stop interacting socially with others in their life.
It his usual take-no-prisoners style, Dreher calls these women "Drag Mommies."
What interests me are the religious and moral ghosts lingering in the background, linked to marriage, family, fidelity and, yes, sacraments.
Ah, but are any of these women baptizing these babies? Taking them to Communion? And, if so, who is agreeing to do these rites? What churches? Would it be cruel to deny women this part of their imaginary "relationship"?
Or is this something that is taking place totally outside of religious sanctuaries? Is that the point? Have the rites been secularized, somehow, to fit into the do-it-yourself brand of faith that dominates what I call "OprahAmerica"?
"Reborns." Forever babies.
Have these babies been born again?
Photo: From that Reborn-baby.com homepage.