My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

So, I’ve seen this  link passed around, where a doctor states that our problem as a country is not that we need health care reform, but that we have a culture crisis of people that think “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. He then follows that up with “life is really not that hard”. That line in and of itself reveals a good bit about the person behind this. Anyone who has the naivete to say this should not be patted on the back for spouting off his short sighted opinions. Not to mention there are plenty of explanations as to why someone on Medicaid has a cell phone (with, god forbid, an R&B ring tone) or new tennis shoes but can not afford their own health insurance.

First of all, a cell phone is no longer a luxury (and a ring tone is like $2.99, and who knows, maybe that song keeps the person’s spirits up, all for $2.99). Many people only have cell phones and do not have home phones. If you expect someone to orchestrate getting a job, childcare, and schooling, they need a phone to do so. Especially if they don’t have a car. Tennis shoes are also not a luxury. You have absolutely no idea what someone spent on their shoes, or if they were a gift. Nevertheless, shoes are a one time expense. Health insurance is expensive on a monthly basis (my cheap plan through work is 150$ a month for my daughter and I, without vision coverage), and not all jobs offer it, especially if you are working 2 part time jobs because neither company wants to pay benefits. Or if you make minimum wage ($7.25/hr) and live below the poverty line raising children and can’t afford to have it taken out of your measly check.

And just shut up about things like people’s fake nails, cigarettes, and beer. We all have our vices or our little ways we treat ourselves. If you really think that that extra 20$ will make a huge dent in their financial situation, you have no idea what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck your entire life, so just stop running your mouth. It’s important for our mental and emotional health as human beings (that’s right, people on welfare are human beings too) to do things to take care of ourselves and to have an indulgence or something that we enjoy or relieves stress for us. (Not that I think smoking is a great choice, but it could be worse).You can’t walk a tightrope all the time, even if the more fortunate think you should (because, by being poor, you’ve proven that you don’t deserve any of these things apparently).

Now beyond that, it still appalls me that there are people who don’t believe that health care is something we all have a right to have (like public education) and that it’s okay that it’s for-profit (unlike a public education, why is this okay?). That people think it should be earned, as if not everyone is worthy or worth health care (and as if it is not completely detrimental to our society to have people without health care). And that if you get help, you are relinquishing your rights to live as you want and you are opening your life to constant scrutiny, as if by accepting help, you have sold yourself to any and all taxpayers (even if you are also a taxpayer). And beyond this, what about all those people that can’t qualify for Medicaid or regular insurance? Too bad, so sad?

It must be nice to have your life so put together and unaffected by any misfortune that you can’t buy your way out of that you’ve got nothing else to do but criticize other people’s.

The fact that we have masses and masses of people with no apparent understanding of the concept of being part of a community, a society, a connected group of people whose well-being depends upon all others within that group is a culture crisis.

Guess what? The more poor, homeless, sick, needy people you have in your community, the worse off your community is. Walking around grunting about “your money” won’t improve your society. You being well-off does not benefit your society unless you utilize your resources to benefit your community. And guess what? You’ll only be safe in your little cocoon of “well-off” for so long before it all trickles up to you, or before you fall. At some point, the deterioration of your society will become a disadvantage to you. Is that the only time it matters?This is the culture crisis.

The problem is not that people think they can do nothing and have someone else take care of them, but that people can be so selfish, naive, and uninformed to think that’s really the case. Every group of people (race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, social class, etc) has a set of outliers that makes the whole group look bad, as the people that abuse the welfare system do for all those living below the poverty line. Why is it okay within our society to make such sweeping prejudice remarks and judgments about our fellow citizens? That is a culture crisis.

Oh, I know this is not the only group of people that are suffering from societal prejudice, as we all know there’s still ugly racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance running rampant all over this country. And there’s the rest of our culture crisis right there.

The fact that teens and children are committing suicide because they were bullied for being homosexual is a culture crisis. The fact that a “Christian” pastor was trying to lead a group of people to burn the Quran (and people were going to do it!) is a culture crisis. The fact that women are made to feel bad whether they are work or stay at home and dads are made to feel bad for staying home is a culture crisis. The fact that there is even an Arizona Immigration Bill SB1070 that people support is a culture crisis. The fact that we have people routinely believing sensationalized media stories that affect the way they treat others, act, and vote is a culture crisis. The fact that anyone believes socioeconomic status is an indicator of someone’s worth, including their own, is a culture crisis.  The fact that  the amount of millionaires in the U.S. rose while the amount of those living below the poverty line increased this year is a culture crisis. The fact that victims of sexual abuse have to validate that they weren’t “asking for it” is a culture crisis. The fact that in 1.5 million children are homeless in the U.S.  is a culture crisis. The fact that the U.S. has a grade D mental health system is a culture crisis.  These are culture crises. The fact that someone on Medicaid has new tennis shoes and an R&B ring tone on their cell phone is not a culture crisis. It’s actually none of your business.

I seriously hope that any of my friends or family that jump onto the kind of bandwagons that people like the doctor who wrote this little rant are driving are doing so due to lack of information, not because they are actually that selfish and naive. There is no way to grasp the full scope of someone’s life within one encounter and it’s an insult to your own intelligence to criticize the life or lifestyle decisions of someone you don’t even know.

If you don’t understand what’s so hard about becoming a U.S. citizen, then go find someone who’s trying to do this and stick with them through the whole process no matter how many years, setbacks, or roadblocks it takes. If you don’t understand how someone can need Medicaid and food stamps for an extended period of time, then get to know someone in that situation and watch them try to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and get to know the system that you’re criticizing- you may find yourself criticizing it for all new reasons. If you don’t understand how bullying could push someone to suicide, then find a group of people who hate you for what you are (white, tall, female, a dog lover, whatever) and let them spit hate speech at you on a daily basis. If you think people should not expose you to their religion, then don’t expose anyone to yours, ever, and if you slip up and mention something religious in a public place, I hope that everyone looks at you like you’re a terrorist.

Life is hard. You know what’s really not that hard though? Being a decent human being and caring about people are are different from you as if they were you or your loved ones (because you never know, one day it may be you or someone you love in a tough spot)- offering them compassion, tolerance, and support.

The fact that some people live differently than we do or make decisions we don’t agree with is not our culture crisis. The fact that we are a society that struggles with human decency and respect towards one another is.

“Horsefeathers. We are a society. We, as a society, decide to use our combined resources to provide certain services. If we, as a society, decide that healthcare should be one of those services, it is not theft anymore than universal policing is theft. If you choose not to support society, you are more than welcome to leave” LanceR, JSG, comment #55 on “Are Patients in Universal Healthcare Countries Less Satisfied?”: denialism blog.

This wonderful quote was in response to this comment: “I find it amusing that you would be ok with stealing from your neighbor to pay for your health care. Government is not charity or compassion, it is force. Forcing your neighbor to pay for someones healthcare is not christian, it is theft.” frodo, commenter 53.

Isn’t healthcare  one of those services that we feel should be funded in, by, and for our society? Is the general American mindset so un-evolved that it is still in caveman mode? All the over-the-top, selfish, self-righteous, loud, whiny, pessimistic rants all come down to a big confused grunt “My money! My money! My money!” with no apparent understanding of the concept of being part of a community, a society, a connected group of people whose well-being depends upon all others within that group.

Guess what? The more poor, homeless, sick, needy people you have in your community, the worse off your community is.  Walking around grunting about “your money” won’t improve your society. You being well-off does not benefit your society unless you utilize your resources to benefit your community. And guess what? You’ll only be safe in your little cocoon of “well-off” for so long before it all trickles up to you. At some point, the deterioration of your society will become a disadvantage to you. Is that the only time it matters?

Somewhere along the way, we began associating the idea of “American” with “fend for yourself”. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people talk about how “nice it must be to just pop out babies and sit around waiting on a check and getting free healthcare”. First of all, unless you’re disabled (woohoo, how great!), you don’t get a random check in the mail. If you’re going to criticize a system, you should take the time to educate yourself on it. Secondly, if it’s so “nice”, why don’t you do it? No one’s stopping you- go ahead! Living below the poverty line is awesome. It’s what they talk about sitting in the DSS waiting room- how incredibly easy and wonderful it is to be so needy that you qualify for Medicaid and food stamps and are potentially stuck in the sick cycle that is poverty.

But of course, it’s all their fault. I mean, if they didn’t want to live like that, they wouldn’t. They have all the same means and opportunities as everyone else. Again, I ask anyone who believes this crap to educate themselves.

I have the privilege of being educated via my career with a  mental health agency funded largely by Medicaid money and I am not, contrary to what you may believe, a bleeding heart. I don’t feel bad for people. I don’t believe in enabling people. But I do believe in empowering people. I do believe in seeking out the root of the problem and brainstorming ways to overcome obstacles. I do know what I would want for someone to do for me (or anyone I care about) if ever shoes were swapped and I were sitting in the needy spot. I know how I would want to be treated. I know that consistently being told I suck at life and don’t deserve help is not helpful and will not improve my chances at becoming a more productive part of society.

I know you should never believe you are really any different from them just because you happen to be in a different social class, whether by birth or effort. And you can’t be sure that your social class won’t drastically change. We are all one well placed misfortune away from rock bottom. You’re blissfully naive if you truly believe that you are smart enough, prepared enough, supported enough to never hit rock bottom. To never desperately need help from a stranger, from society as a whole. No one is invincible, no one is an island.

Why, as members of a shared society, are we so concerned with pointing out our differences and climbing over one another to be “better than” as opposed to working together towards the well being of our shared existence?

What is so scary about strengthening our community? I think I know. I think Americans are convinced that the only indicator of success is money. So when someone suggests that perhaps those with more money and resources are in some way obligated to share and support those with less money and resources for the good of the community as a whole, people get freaked out about sharing their hard (or not so hard) earned “success” and immediately scream “Socialist!” “Communist!” “Christian!”. Oh, wait, they don’t scream “Christian!”. Hmm…

You know, the government would have no need to “force” us to help each other if we just did it. If we just saw a need and worked to meet it. If we just saw ourselves as the essential elements of change within our communities that we are and worked together to make our collective lives better. (Crazy, right?) Tossing a few bucks at charity, volunteering a few times a year, and praying from your warm safe little house doesn’t cut it. It’s a bandaid. We have to really get our hands dirty to help change happen. We have to give what we’ve got to better our society.

But that’s not the “American Way”.  Americans pull themselves up by their bootstraps all on their own. Americans never need help, even from each other. Americans are not obligated to look out for their fellow Americans, only themselves. Americans don’t need to ask themselves why people in their community need help, nor do they need to do anything about that. If your life sucks, too bad for you! Good thing I’m not one of those screw-ups!

Wake up America, We Are A Society. We are interdependent upon one another. Whether we like it or not.

So, I’m gonna get started on this now. I don’t want it to take me forever. I don’t want to obsess about it. I just want to say it.

First of all, after some internet research, I found an article/blog that was just what I was looking for regarding health care. I don’t really care about people’s crazy fanatical fears, nor do I care about anecdotes, or even, all the “scary, hidden aspects of the bill that will make us suffer F O R E V E R.” I just wanted a little data.

Like, what’s up with all these other industrialized countries that have been doing this whole universal health care thing for decades? How’s that working out? Seriously- how’s that working out?

Finally, I got some data (as mentioned and linked above), and feel happy. It basically says that though universal health care is  not perfect, neither is what the US has now,  and still, universal health care is a better use of our money and resources, given we manage to implement it well- maybe modeling it after other successful programs? Like, maybe some other country did something we can learn and grow from? Maybe? And, data shows: it will in all likelihood not be the END OF AMERICA!

So, aside from the data that made my search fruitful and facebook status worthy, I also got a great string of quotes from the comment section.

52: “You have omitted how much people pay in taxes for these entitlements”

Have you considered how much we pay NOW for the uninsured? Do you think that if a homeless person goes into the ER and receives treatment it is just free?

It seems to me that in a “Christian” country to allow multitudes to go without adequate healthcare for apparently the sole reason of wanting to avoid even the appearance of ‘socialism’ (i.e., purely ideological purposes) is immoral. Posted by: slpage | June 15, 2009 5:08 PM

53 #52, I find it amusing that you would be ok with stealing from your neighbor to pay for your health care. Government is not charity or compassion, it is force. Forcing your neighbor to pay for someones healthcare is not christian, it is theft. Posted by: frodo | June 29, 2009 10:12 PM
55 “Government is not charity or compassion, it is force. Forcing your neighbor to pay for someones healthcare is not christian, it is theft.”

Horsefeathers. We are a society. We, as a society, decide to use our combined resources to provide certain services. If we, as a society, decide that healthcare should be one of those services, it is not theft anymore than universal policing is theft. If you choose not to support society, you are more than welcome to leave.

57 “I find it amusing that you would be ok with stealing from your neighbor to pay for your health care. Government is not charity or compassion, it is force. Forcing your neighbor to pay for someones healthcare is not christian, it is theft.”
Isn’t it odd that compassion must be forced on Christians?

May I suggest reading 1st John 3:17

– If you don’t have your Bible handy it reads thus:

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ”   Posted by: Drew L | July 5, 2009 12:45 PM

You’ve got to love anyone who can use the word “Horsefeathers” in any conversation, ever. That truly enhances the awesomeness of the quote. Commenter 55, we would be friends, I can tell. And commenter 57! Yes, America’s Christians are odd, aren’t they? Now, Commenter 52-thanks for provoking 53. This wouldn’t have been possible without you! 53, well, you know- at least you know where you stand (even if it is in some horsefeathery place) .

For the record, I do understand people feeling afraid. Fear and apprehension are normal when you embark on something that is new, that is big, that is kind of out of your control. So, regular uneasiness or even lack of knowledge I get, and I don’t mock. I’m not saying I understand or fully support everything about the bill. But it’s the over the top, selfish, self-righteous, loud, whiny, pessimists that jump to conclusions and make up “facts” that drive me insane.

Now, having ran my brain through that, I think I’ll end this here and pick it up again, as it’s already long enough, with all the quotes. And I wanted to write about the quotes, they made my night. So, I’ll build off this. Maybe tonight, maybe in the morning. (I don’t think I have more than 2 readers anyways ;P)

I don’t have a lot of time. Healthcare bill just passed. Just got annoyed reading people’s  stupid (republican) facebook comments. What is so hard to understand about taking care of each other? About strenghtening communities as a whole? WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT THAT? I really don’t understand. And not because I’m stupid. But because other people are. And I have a hard time getting my brain to comprehend such stupidness. 🙂 Sorry, that’s where I am tonight.

It honestly makes me sad that people are so wrapped up in their safe little worlds that they don’t take the time to step out and not just think about others, but do for others. Not by volunteering or donating money, but by actually giving a shit. By getting to know people and all the crazy circumstances of a given life that is NOT YOUR OWN.

Guess what? Shit happens. And it will likely happen to you one day. And you will want someone to empathize. So why don’t you do that now. You know, that golden rule and all.

And stop, for just a minute to imagine yourself in someone else’s life. Really. It could be you. There is nothing huge separating us. Separating the prostitute and the housewife. The homeless man and the working man. People think there’s this big difference, but there’s not. If you ever looked around you, you’d know that.

I’d like to start this by stating that I don’t think I’ve ever actually used the phrase “Oh Snap”, but it popped into my head when I was thinking of a title, so, there it is.

This week, after participating in a forum held at a church regarding the “resignation” of a popular preschool director, I gathered the final fuel for the fire that burns the words onto these pages (okay, they’re screens). See, this fire has been smoldering for several years, but at first, there was too much anger. And then too much apathy. And now, I’m somewhere between the two.

Money, religion, and politics are always hot button issues each in their own right, and this is about the twisted presentation of the three as one. A trinity of sorts. The fact that the starting point of this essay (for lack of anything better to call it) focuses on the happenings of a preschool  may not grab you at first, but I promise, it all connects to a bigger picture, so give me a chance to draw it all together as best as I can.

See, the previously mentioned forum was to address concerns parents had regarding a forced resignation of a preschool director who ran a church preschool as a ministry. How do I know it was forced? Because I bore witness to 4 months of passive aggressive harassment and mistreatment. On top of that, I know this church has a dismal track record of doing this same thing over and over. In 10 years, they have managed to go through something like 11 pastors, countless interim pastors, multiple music directors and secretaries, and now a preschool director.

At some point, a church should start asking themselves what they’re doing wrong. You can’t play victim forever. And all of this doesn’t even include members who have left or been forced out. The fact that people officially “resign” does not, in fact, make this any more acceptable of a situation. It just means they took the highest road they could when pushed too far and treated too poorly. It doesn’t take a genius to see that something is wrong here. Passionate, dedicated professionals who just “resign” and don’t even have the opportunity to tell those they’ve ministered to good-bye because following the acceptance of their “resignation” they were told to remove themselves and their belongings that day? That fails to make sense to me. Unless, the resignation were forced and those responsible were waiting for the day to come. Unless, they are trying to sweep whatever ugliness that precipitated the “resignation” under the rug as quickly as possible. Unless, they want to spin a story to sell to the congregation…

It’s disheartening that people do this kind of thing to one another in the corporate world, in the secular world. But in a self-proclaimed Christian atmosphere? It’s disgusting and unacceptable. And this was, I strongly believe, about money and politics, at least at it’s inception. I do believe that it then continued to be motivated by several other selfish, greedy things. Which just takes it up another level or two on the unacceptability scale. Here’s the thing, instead of keeping records and making profits, this preschool was letting parents slide on tuition when they lost their jobs and giving money to those who needed it.  They paid their teachers and bought supplies and hosted programs and whatever was left was used to help someone. Because they ran it like a ministry. And it ran well. It was well appreciated.

While the church itself fell apart over and over, the preschool carried on strong and steady, under strong and steady leadership, dedicated to ministry. All of the sudden, 10 years into this, the church decided to jump in and try to begin to run it like a business, while concurrently undermining the current leadership (was the church leadership jealous or intimidated by the preschool success?)  in any way possible without being completely overt (but it wasn’t that hard to see, if you’ve seen this kind of thing before). Well, I don’ t know how familiar they are with this verse in Matthew 21:12 “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves”, but it sounds to me like Jesus was pretty mad about the church being utilized for financial gain. So, you give that a shot and we’ll see how well that works out for you in the long run, particularly since you’ve been so extremely successful in the past.

Now, I know a church is an institution ran by imperfect people. I get that. I know even a church has bills to pay and has to organize itself (it is organized religion). But a church is also intended to serve a higher purpose. A church should be held to a higher standard and the members of a church should hold themselves and one another to a higher standard of acting and living in faith and love. This means your faith should always outweigh your funds. This means your  love should always outweigh your differences. This means you hold one another accountable.

This means you basically don’t do sneaky, hateful, hurtful, greedy, selfish things over and over to one another without ever accepting responsibility, without ever being called out and incited to accept some responsibility for words and actions, without ever being urged to change, to become better.  I think sometimes people think if they just sit by and watch it happen, they aren’t  actually part of it, they aren’t culpable. But you are. If you know something is happening that is wrong and you do nothing, you are complicit. You are allowing it. You are agreeing with it. You are part of it. Your silence, your averted gaze, your acceptance of the unacceptable is pathetic, weak-minded, and weak-faithed. Didn’t anybody tell you that you have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything? (the country singer Aaron Tippin told me when I was about eight).You’re being foolish if you think it doesn’t matter what you don’ t do. It matters just as much, if not more, than what you do.

This lack of faith-action is the thing that convicted me to leave the church. To extract myself from my employment, my teaching position, my board of education membership, ministry training team participation, choir membership, and, in a way, my family legacy within the church. I just had to walk away. Because no one wanted to hold elders, board members, deacons,  and deaconesses (do you think they were good tithers?) accountable for words and actions that were hurtful. No one wanted to hold each other accountable for anything. No one wanted to step out of their comfort zone and do anything, question anything, grow in faith. They just wanted to keep on keeping on, sweeping things under rugs and calling that “letting it go”. No one wanted to even consider rocking the boat, just a little, in the name of maybe, possibly, become better people, more honest, more intent on true service and the true purpose of the church. People were too comfortable (or wrapped up) to question it all.

That’s all I wanted, some kind of action. I was told “people aren’t perfect”. I didn’t need, desire, or expect them to be. I just wanted us to practice what we preach. I wanted to see movement. I didn’t need to be chided like a child and told to let it go. No, no, no. I would not let it go without some acknowledgment. While I loved and still love those people, I was not okay with the way the church was operating within. On politics. That was not okay and I would not be complicit. Does that mean I am unforgiving? No. I harbored no hate or ill will. I just wanted people to step up. But for some insane reason, people in churches are scared to stand up to each other, even in love, even in sincere, honest love of one another. People in churches are scared. Or lazy. Operating so much on pretense that purpose is lost. It’s the stupidest thing. It’s because of money and politics.

People with money in church (the “good tithers”),  people who are part of the politics, are wrapped up, under control of the little power they exercise among one another, never truly free, but believing they have a position that allows them some sort of inherent “rights”. Then you have those that aren’t involved in either, who are lazy, complacent, or wearing blinders- allowing those with the “power” to just do what they do while you just show up for the ride and take it all at face value. Either way, it does nothing for the church. And it makes me want to overthrow some tables.

That situation has settled itself  for me through the years, and I am again darkening the doors of churches, but not without a good bit of cynicism and criticism for the way churches (and the people in them) operate. And I think that’s healthy and perfectly acceptable. I do not need church to have God. But I do feel that church can be a good avenue, a good tool, a good community in relation to God. Churches have the possibility to do and be so much. That’s why it bothers me when people abuse and misuse the church from within, while pretending to have the best interest of the church at heart. They are undermining all the church could be.  It could be so much more than what it is, but quite honestly, it’s been so defeated by and in itself that it’s hard to even take it seriously or see it’s potential anymore.

At the forum, we were supposed to ask questions. One of mine was: What are you doing, as a church, to prevent this from happening again? Have you identified a problem, a connection to all the upheaval that occurs here? What are you going to do different? The pastor never answered my question. He didn’t answer anyone’s questions. He repeated himself over and over, and tried to sidetrack us. I found him to be an insipid, shallow, condescending, jerk who only knew enough to know he had nothing of substance to present, so he just filled up time with an empty run-around of words. If anyone takes him seriously as a leader, then they fall into the same category I just placed him in. If that sounds ugly, I’m not sorry. Sometimes the truth hurts.

Just like with anything else, people need to utilize some critical thinking when engaging in church. You can not just let yourself be fed things by “leaders” of anything, even (and especially) a church or any religious institution. Whatever you are told, you have to evaluate within yourself and run it through your own conversation and journey of faith.  Otherwise, what does it really mean? What are you really going to do with it? Why does it matter? If you can’t even take the time and energy to process it and own it within you, then how are you going to be able to do anything worthwhile with it? And most importantly, how are you going to be sure you’re not being lead astray??

Just because someone managed to become a minister, or a church leader of any kind, does not mean they are automatically a valid and positive leader. A pastor is not above their congregation (or anyone else). They are not holier or more righteous or any closer to God  than anyone else. They are someone who feels called to serve in a particular way, in a particular setting. They are not in charge of you or the church. And quite honestly, in a church, it’s really a family, a team, a community, so “leadership” should be spread out and checks and balances should always be in place. Because there will always be politics in church, just like there will be money. So there should at least be an effort made to utilize the organization, the institution that is a church more effectively towards it’s higher purpose. Otherwise, what are you doing? And why?

The thing about money, religion, and politics is that as powerful as they are, love trumps them all. In love, there is faith, there is joy, there is hope, there is mercy, there is grace, there is encouragement, there is purpose, there is drive, there is passion, there is determination, there is promise, there is commitment, there is patience, there is generosity, there is freedom, there is acceptance, there is humility.

If  a church is not something that can really radiate and spread the love and faith associated with God, if it’s not a place where it is made known the reality and possibility of a body of believers who put faith and love above money, religion and politics, then maybe someone should change the name of it  and stop messing up and watering down the concept of “church”.

Shouldn’t a church be a place where people, though imperfect, try to be better all the time? A place where people encourage this in each other, even if that means apologizing or calling someone out sometimes? Shouldn’t it be a place where people aren’t scared of thinking for themselves or taking a stand?  And above all, shouldn’t it be a place where people try to put love first? Didn’t Christ do these things? Aren’t Christians modeling their life after Christ? He was poor, he was homeless, he was never in line with the politics of the day, he was always doing and saying things officials and religious leaders didn’t like.

Through Christ, don’t Christians believe they have a direct line to God? If so, everyone’s on the same page here, everyone has equal access to God regardless of power or position, regardless of class or status, regardless of sin. Wasn’t Christ  pushing people out of their comfort zones? Wasn’t he dining with prostitutes and touching lepers? Wasn’t he turning over the moneychanger’s tables? Wasn’t he was consistently out of any place any one would consider a comfort zone? Considering the politics and religions of his time and place, wasn’t he part of an anti-political, anti-religious  movement? Wasn’t  he was teaching people the one true comfort zone is in God, in God’s love, in love, in the belief of love, the faith of love. Not money, not religion, not politics or the supposed power or these things- God. Love. The power of God’s love in us, around us, through us.

Love first. Love. First. All else would follow. All the programs and budgets and committees and initiatives and sermons and ministries would follow. God is love. God loves all of us. Those who love God, love others. Love first.

How novel.

Feminism is…?

Rebecca West: I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.

[Feminism is] a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.  ~Pat Robertson (Oh, Dear God!)

Michele Le Doeuff: A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place.

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes.  There’s just too much fraternizing with the enemy.  ~Henry Kissinger

The thing is, this isn’t a battle we’re fighting against each other, or at least it shouldn’t be.

Gloria Steinem: This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour in which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.

Men weren’t really the enemy – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.  ~Betty Friedan

Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.  ~Margaret Mead

If the Mead quote is true, and I do believe it is, perhaps through me, my father liberated himself a bit, because my Daddy- southern boy, son of a farmer, corporate company executive and business owner- is a Feminist.

I keep trying to pinpoint the first feminist statement my father made to me, just for a starting point, but it’s hard to do so, because it was constant…Perhaps one of the first was when, at his encouragement, my sister and I were playing on a soccer team as 2 of 3 females on the team. I was in second grade. I complained about playing with the boys, I said they were too rough. Daddy told me to get out there and be rough too! Show them what  girl can do! For the record, I was just really bad at soccer, and the subsequent sport I tried on a co-ed team- basketball, so I’m not sure how much I “showed them”. But I didn’t quit and I didn’t cry when I was smacked into or kicked in the shins. I got dirty and I got up. That’s what the boys did and that’s what my Daddy said I could do to. So I did. And I’m so glad I did.

When, in 6th grade, I said I wanted to be the first female president of the United States, my Dad said “You go girl!” (it was the early 90’s, you can’t really blame him for using that phrase 🙂

When I finally found a sport I could play (believe me, he wasn’t letting up till I tried them all), he co-coached my softball teams and in doing so opened up a world to me of competitive, hard working, don’t care if we get bruised up, loud, powerful girls.

Daddy said God may be a woman.

Daddy said I could kiss all the boys I want.

Daddy said I could do whatever I want.

Of course, he rallied against things like short shorts (he usually lost) and driving late at night (lost again). I mean, feminist or not, he is my Dad, there are some things he has to oppose 😉

My advice to the women’s clubs of America is to raise more hell and fewer dahlias.  ~James McNeill Whistler

Sometimes, (or often) I’d get hyped up and on a role about some injustice and Daddy would shout from his corner “Alright Feminazi!” Usually followed by “You go girl!” Feminazi was a nickname he made up for me, jokingly, when I was out of my head raging against whatever I was raging against and stomping my feet around.  I would say, part of effective feminism (or effective anything), is being able to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously all the time.

He also would strut his 6’3 farm boy frame around the house and tell us to “Flaunt it if we got it” (he claims he was channeling his grandma Pearl) He wanted me to know how to be a woman, a full out woman. And he wanted me to know I could be pretty, smart, and strong all at the same time.

“Scratch most feminists and underneath there is a woman who longs to be a sex object.  The difference is that is not all she wants to be.”  ~Betty Rollin

The other day my daughter,  Natalie, saw a policeman and claimed that that’s what she wanted to be. She then said, “but I have to be a man”. I laughed and said, nope baby, you can be a policewoman, and then introduced her to a policewoman. She probably won’t remember that, but for me, it’s just the beginning.

We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.  ~Gloria Steinem

To quote my Daddy, the feminist “The only thing stopping you is your mind, don’t let your mind defeat you.” I will feed Natalie feminism, because feminism is simply the idea that woman are equals to men, deserving no special treatment nor discrimination. In this way, all children should be told this, this message is for everyone.

“We’ve got a generation now who were born with semiequality. They don’t know how it was before, so they think, this isn’t too bad. We’re working. We have our attache’ cases and our three piece suits. I get very disgusted with the younger generation of women. We had a torch to pass, and they are just sitting there. They don’t realize it can be taken away. Things are going to have to get worse before they join in fighting the battle.” Erma Bombeck

This quote reminds me that we owe our best efforts at equality not only for our present and future, but also to honor those who’ve gone before us. When I was engaged and planning my wedding, the older ladies in my church kept coming up to me, holding my hands, asking if I was still going to college- their eyes imploring me to say yes. I had never considered not going to college, but the mix of fear and hope in their eyes reminded me how big a deal it was, to not have homemaking and factory work as my only option. I think, sometimes, because we were born into this “semiequality” that we take for granted how recent the victories occurred, and how hard they were fought for. And I think, sometimes we forget that we’re not there yet. We’re further along, but we’re not there yet.

Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive.  ~Marya Mannes

Marlo Thomas: One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man.

As always, equality is not just about one gender, one race, one religion. It’s about all of us, we’re all in this together. And if we do it right, the advancing of others can advance us all, not take anything away from any of us, but instead, give something to humanity as a whole. Liberate us all.

I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.  ~Cissy Farenthold

And it’s not just this, but also that anyone making an effort to play a productive role in society, in any way, is respected in their role, with equal respect given to each role, as each role plays a crucial part in the functioning of our communities as a whole.

So, thanks Dad. Thanks for all the ways you allowed me no special treatment or discrimination. To do anything else would have been a disservice to me and anyone I have, or will, encounter along my life.

I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want.  If that makes me a bitch, okay.  ~Madonna Ciccone

Through various first hand sources, I have gathered entertaining information regarding the latest ministry efforts of two sister churches. Well, to be honest, they aren’t sister churches, they are a split off of one church, but they should be (could be!) sister churches, so I, because I can, will refer to them as such. I will refer to one as home base church (hbc), and one as grass roots church (grc). Those are my personal nicknames for them. You do not have to like them. You, in fact, do not have to read this at all 🙂

So, home base church had Vacation Bible School (VBS) this week. In case, unlike me, you do not live in the Bible Belt and have no idea what VBS is, it’s basically Sunday School on Prozac. If you don’t know what Sunday School is, you should just use context clues. It’s like school, on Sunday…and it’s at church, so it’s about church, the Bible, etc.

I’ll tell you right now that the selling points of VBS are whatever theme-based decorations, snacks, and songs you have. This year’s theme for HBC was a camping one, and the set up was awesome. A lot of effort was made- and it shows. The sanctuary stage really looked like a mountain campsite. Good job guys! The snacks were also awesome (so I’ve been told), and the music had “music videos” with kids doing the dance moves (which all the kids 7+ seemed to really enjoy and try to emulate).

Their adventure happened Tuesday night (night 3) when during a thunderstorm, the power went out and stayed out leaving all the kids (including toddlers and babies) and however many adults, to make their way by cell phone light for the next 45 min or so, waiting for parents to pick up the kids. Too bad they gave out mini flashlights for all the “campers” to take home the night before! It’s been reported that some campers had to leave their pizza rolls in mid-bite due to the power outage, and the pastor’s son apparently RE-FUSED to abandon his goldfish snack. No sir, he said. I believe grandpa had to step in. After the screaming subsided, there was apparently an impressive sing-a-long. You can’t keep a good VBS down.

Tonight was the wrap up, where all the campers got to show off for mom/dad/grandma/grandpa, etc. My personal favorite things were: a certain child who rolled around and I think, did flips on stage while everyone else tried hard to sing and follow the motions, a certain other child who was so completely hyped up about performance that when there were not set motions, he was throwing punches in the air and jumping around like he was about to kickbox (watch out devil, he’s ready to rumble!), and a certain teenager, who I know of as an outdoorsman, who had been helping out and apparently knew all the motions and dance moves and stood by the stage demonstrating for the kids. When I asked him about this later, he confessed that it was his secret talent. Looks like the cat’s out of the bag now! Don’t you think So You Think You Can Dance could use an outdoorsy guy? 😉

Grass Roots Church had and outreach project this week (Wednesday night). In preparation for this event, my oldest friend reported that she was attacked by fire ants while putting out flyers in the community, to which she said: “Are you freakin’ kidding me? I’m doing God’s work here!” The fact that she talks to ants that bite her is one of the very things I love so dearly about her J

So, the project was to go into a nearby community that is very needy and pass out nonperishables and a hotdog meal. The flyers that my dear friend sacrificed her little flip flopped feat for were apparently blown away (probably in the same storm that knocked out HBC’s power). So, no one knew they were coming. It was reported that an inebriated fellow told them quite colorfully to remove themselves from the premises upon which they stood. He apparently did this with enough vigor for one mom to put her kids away in the car…Yay! Jesus loves you!

Also, a man I know of as a Sunday School Teacher and Deacon apparently was packing some heat, just in case. This is all well and good, but I can’t for the life of me imagine him pulling a weapon, ever, for any circumstances. Now, I could see him frying you up some eggs and bacon at an all church breakfast, and reciting some Max Lucado, but brandishing a weapon? Hard to imagine.  I suppose he has a secret side of him as well J

The outreach turned out just fine, around 60 hotdog meals were given out, with some people coming back for 2nds and 3rds. I’m assuming much of the nonperishables found good homes as well. This is one of many out in the community-free food-no strings attached events/outreaches that this group has done in this community and I hope it’s getting the point across…love. There is love, big love, God’s love.

In keeping with that train of thought, back to HBC. I’ve got to say, watching the kids up there on stage made me think of what a good thing it is, to get in front of a bunch of people and know that even if you roll around, miss your cue, kickbox, or even get it just right, you are loved, praised, and embraced just the same. Because that’s love. That’s God’s love.

And that’s what both churches are doing their best to do, within their communities, and in their own ways- love.

One thing though, HBC: I get that pixie sticks are cheap and stuff, but really? Goodie bags with sugar sticks? I guess that’s what we get for letting you take the kids 5 nights in a row 😉

UPDATE: You know what the end of VBS treats were at GRC? A massive pixie stick.

Oh yea, God has a sense of humor.