Just. One. Book.

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I just lost my job and I’m not sure if I will be able to send them something. Maybe in the fall. But I want to share this because making sure children have access to books is important.

Throwing Chanclas

Just. One. Book.

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mills closed, then –nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries.

The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the “check outs” for old books are in the 1970s-1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It’s an uninviting place. There hasn’t been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren’t allowed. The last…

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The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture

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Wow. Just wow. So glad my husband is being a positive role model for our son. So are my brother-in-laws.

Dating Tips for the Feminist Man

The opposite of masculine rape culture is masculine nurturance culture: men* increasing their capacity to nurture, and becoming whole.

The Ghomeshi trial is back in the news, and it brings violent sexual assault back into people’s minds and daily conversations. Of course violence is wrong, even when the court system for handling it is a disaster. That part seems evident. Triggering, but evident.

But there is a bigger picture here. I am struggling to see the full shape emerging in the pencil rubbing, when only parts are visible at a time.

A meme going around says ‘Rape is about violence, not sex. If someone were to hit you with a spade, you wouldn’t call it gardening.’ And this is true. But it is just the surface of the truth. The depths say something more, something about violence.

Violence is nurturance turned backwards.

These things are connected, they must be connected. Violence and nurturance are two sides of the same coin. I…

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Religion; Hatred; Tolerance; Part 4

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This is part 4 of a longer series.

To read part 1

To read part 2

To read part 3

Sundays

While we’re on the subject of other religions, let’s look at Sunday. For a long time in most places in North America, everything closed down on Sundays. Even now, most stores are opened shorter hours on Sundays.

Christianity is still a major religion in North America, and Sunday is its holy day, so the choice to close on Sundays, or be open shorter hours, makes some sense. First, not all your staff will be available to work. And, theoretically, none of the Christians will come to shop. So you’re short staffed and you’ll be doing less business. Being open too many hours will lose you money, and businesses hate losing money.

BUT people do shop on Sundays. Christians do shop on Sundays. Because it’s convenient. When are you going to buy the kids new shoes? They’ve got school all week and extra curricular activities and birthday parties and on and on … oh, let’s just go out after church on Sunday and get it done.

I’ve worked Sundays. I always told my employer I needed to go to mass in the morning, but once I was done mass and brunch I could work. I was a student. I needed the money.

Now, the reason Sundays confuse me is because of choice. If you want to keep the Sabbath, you go right ahead. Don’t work. Don’t shop. Go to church, visit family, pray, meditate, celebrate life, that is your choice. For people who don’t follow Christianity, Sunday is a good day to earn some extra money, or get some errands done. My husband works shift work – his weekend is Thursday/Friday, Sunday is just another work day for him.

Oh, and Sunday isn’t actually the Sabbath, just to be clear. The Sabbath is the 7th day – Saturday, and Jews still keep the Sabbath. So do 7th day Adventists. What Christians celebrate is the Resurrection, which took place the day after the Sabbath. (Check the Bible, it’s in there, I promise). However, the idea of keeping a day holy, to pray and rest and be at peace with family and your god, is more important than whether it’s on Saturday or Sunday.

But we don’t shut everything down on Saturday for Sabbath. We just assume that Jews won’t work and won’t shop. They’ll just go keep the Sabbath.

So if you’re against shopping and working on Sunday – stay home. If you’re against shopping and working on Saturday – stay home. (And my friend Andy is going “Everyday’s a holiday! I don’t feel like working today! Stay home!” That’s not what I mean Andy.)

What I mean is that if your religious obligations require you to take that day of rest, then rest. Stay out of your tractors too. Because where I live the Christians (especially the Mennonites) refuse to allow stores in the area to open on Sunday. They scream and fuss and boycott until the store closes for Sunday again. Of course they do go out and work their fields on Sundays. And I’ve seen them shopping in the city on Sundays. And that type of hypocrisy drives me crazy.

Worship in your own way. Don’t hurt anyone. And stop making such a big deal out of Sunday.

Religion; Hatred; Tolerance; Part 3

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This is part 3 of a longer series.

To read part 1 go here: https://casiaschreyer.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/religion-hatred-tolerance-part-1/

To read part 2 go here: https://casiaschreyer.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/religion-hatred-tolerance-part-2/

Religion

I’m going to come right out and say that I have family and friends who follow the following religions and philosophical paths: Catholic, other Christian denominations, Muslim, Atheist, New Age Spiritualism, and Buddhism. I’ve known and worked with Jews and even a “Hinjew”, someone of East Indian Hindu descent who was a practicing Jew (and before you yell at me for making racist comments, that is the label she gave herself).

I studied religion in university including: Intro to World Religions, History of Christianity in the West, History of Buddhism in the West, Women in Eastern Religions, History of the Jewish People, and a Christian Lit course. I attended a Catholic Formation Program for Catechism Teachers.

Now that you are aware of who I know and what I have studied I am going to tell you what I believe about Religion.

All religions that teach a moral code that promotes love and peace are paths to the same goal.

The finer details of our rituals and worship and prayer may be different but our core beliefs are the same. Every major religion has a list – 10 commandments, 7 sacred teachings, the 8 fold path, the 5 pillars – that all say pretty much the same thing: don’t lie, cheat, steal, or kill and treat people with respect. If we all believe those same things who cares what building we pray in or what name we give our god?

Okay. Hold on. Don’t start screaming at me yet. I want you to look at a little piece of Christian history. And then a piece of Muslim history. And then we will talk about the reason you’re most likely ready to scream at me.

“The crusades were a series of holy wars called by popes with the promise of indulgences for those who fought in them and directed against external and internal enemies of Christendom for the recovery of Christian property or in defense of the Church or Christian people.”  http://www.usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/crusades_timeline.htm

The crusades, remember those wonderful years? The popes offered to forgive people all their sins, past, present, and future, if they went and killed the enemies of Christianity. That’s right. If you went and killed Muslims you could do anything else you wanted with your life and it didn’t matter, you had a free pass to heaven.

The crusades were fought, on and off, between 1059 and somewhere between 1291 & 1588, depending on which battles/wars you classify as a crusade, which you classify as “just wars” (as in justice, not as in “only”), and which you classify as totally unrelated. The timeline linked above does list 753 AD as the first event that can be directly traced to leading up to the crusades in church history.

Islam was founded as a religious tradition in the late 7th century. So, Christianity was roughly 1000 years old when the Crusades were fought – and Islam was about 350 years old.

So you have a fairly young religion that has been in tense relations with neighboring religions basically since it started that is now under siege. Yeah, it would be pretty easy to convince Muslims of the time that killing infidels was a good idea. And since those wars stretched some 200-500 years, well, that’s enough time for any “good” idea to become fairly deeply ingrained into a culture or religion.

Okay, now that I’ve put all these facts out there for you, let’s get back to the screaming. You probably want to yell at me that Islam is not a religion of love and peace, that they are all terrorists and killers out to eliminate the infidels from the world. Convert of kill. Right? Jihad. Car bombs. Genocide. Yeah, I read the news, I know the stories.

Look back at the Old Testament. There are several occasions upon which the Jews put their enemies to the sword. Or destroy their cities. Sinners, the lot of them. Worshiping false gods. Doing horrible, immoral things like eating pigs, not observing the Sabbath, and wearing cloth made of the wrong combination of fibres. (Check out some of the laws in the Old Testament, it’ll be important later on). Sounds an awful lot like “killing infidels” doesn’t it?

And the Crusades? Holy Wars to kill enemies of the church?

If Islam follows the pattern of the other Abrahamic Traditions (Judaism, Christianity) they will pass through this time of “convert or kill” and will become a religion of peace.

Given how many Muslims I know who have never pressured me into converting, who are nice, kind, respectful people, who are NORMAL in every way, as younger adults, as parents, as coworkers. I know a young Muslim woman who is hooked on Deadpool and Game of Thrones. She coaches soccer. She plays floor hockey. She works with children! And not once have I heard her talk religion to the children.

Somehow I think this post will generate a lot more controversy than my others.

People are afraid, they’re insecure. They think that if their children are exposed to these Muslims, to anyone different, they will ‘fall away from the straight and narrow path’. Seriously? Stop worrying about what the ‘others’ are teaching your kids and worry about what you are teaching your kid. Because the one teen I knew who came from a Christian home and convert to Islam, she had damn good reason to convert.

Her mother preached Christianity at her, when she wasn’t abusing her physically and emotionally. She hated the church because her mother was the only “face of Christ” she knew. Now a friend comes along and treats her as an equal, treats her with respect, values her. And then introduces her to Islam. No pressure. No ultimatums. Just “this is what I believe, if you’re interested. Ask questions. No pressure.” Of course she converted. She married a Muslim man who balances her personality, who respects her and defends her in a way no one in her family ever did, and who loves her. They have 3 wonderful children. They are happy – she is happy. And I am happy for her because the teen I knew was self-destructive and seldom truly happy.

If anyone stood on a street corner shouting about death and damnation, fire and brimstone, threats and ultimatums, most people would walk by without a second glance and the only second thought we’d pay them would be to warn others, to label them as stupid, or crazy. The only people who would listen are those who already agreed with the hate. Like to like – no conversion.

The most successful vessel of conversion is LOVE.

When people feed the hungry, peacefully protest a wrong-doing, come together in solidarity over a tragedy, raise money for a cause, hep a family in need … people take notice, and they notice for the right reasons. Actions will always be more powerful than words. Actions can prove words right, or wrong. And the actions of right-wing conservative Christians, and of right-wing conservative Muslims, have been disgusting me.

(EDITED)

 

Religion; Hatred; Tolerance; Part 2

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This is part 2 of a longer series. To read part 1 click here: https://casiaschreyer.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/religion-hatred-tolerance-part-1/

Assisted Dying and Assisted Living

The end is a scary time for some and there are a lot of choices to be made. What is the family to do in the event of a sudden illness (stroke, heart attack, stage 4 cancer) or an accident? What should they do if a long-term illness becomes terminal?

Christians believe in a plan, that they will go to the grave no sooner and no later than god intends. Our lives become an intricate weaving of predetermination and free will that is impossible to explain or unravel.

My grandparents are in their 70s and are preparing for the end. They have decided that they do not want to be kept alive by machines. If there is no hope of them waking up, let them die. This fits with the Christian beliefs, when it’s time to go they want us to let them go with grace and acceptance.

On the flip side are people who have been given a terminal prognosis. As far as doctors are concerned there is no hope of them surviving. There is no cure. But they cannot choose to end their own lives, their own suffering, in their own time – they MUST wait for a natural end.

I agree with DNR and ‘natural death’ orders. I am wary of assisted dying. For one thing, there are new medical break-throughs all the time. For another, if I died today, what would I miss? Births, marriages, the successes of my family members, a new Avengers movie … I am so entwined with my family I cannot imagine leaving them before I have to.

I also watched liver cancer kill my mother. She died at home. We changed her sheets daily because her skin was so sensitive. She threw up everything she ate. She slept in restless bursts. She couldn’t climb the stairs, couldn’t get out of the damn bed without help. It was heartbreaking to watch. She was terminal. She was beyond saving, even if they found a cure it was too late to reverse the damage done to her body.

So what difference would a few days have made? By the end we weren’t sure she was even seeing us. I’m pretty sure she thought my husband was my dad, just years ago. We’re pretty sure she was going through the motions of the chemo treatments, the in and out of the bed stuff, the asking for my dad all the time. Were we selfish to put her through a week of suffering? Or would it have been selfish to end her life so we wouldn’t have to watch her suffer?

I don’t know. She’s been gone nearly 4 years now and the grief is still too raw to think objectively about these things.

In the end it was her choice though. I’m sure that if she wanted out we could have figured out a way to OD her on the pain meds. But that’s not what she wanted so we didn’t do it. It was her choice to wait for the end to find her. And she taught us a lot about strength and grace in the process. We supported her choice. We will support my grandparents in their death as we do in their life. You don’t have to make the same choice. That’s the beauty of choice.

Religion; Hatred; Tolerance; Part 1

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All the recent debating and yelling about Muslims, homosexuals, assisted suicide, abortion, and the transgender community, have really been rubbing me the wrong way. I find that I have run out of patience for small-minded, hate-filled people. And it bothers me that so many people are spewing this hatred in the name of the god I follow when I firmly believe he is a god of love, tolerance, and acceptance.

So here it is, issue by issue, my stance on the controversies of the day, why I don’t understand the big deal people are making, and why tolerance does not mean participation or even approval.

Abortion and Birth Control

Abortion is against the Christian faiths. It is commonly believed within the Christian community that life starts at conception, that every person has a soul at the moment of conception. The only accepted form of birth control is abstinence (completely before marriage or during marriage when pregnancy is possible but not desired).  Abstinence can be paired with “family planning” which involves counting out safe days based on the reproductive cycle. This leaves the matter of pregnancy in god’s hands, since apparently god can work around the female reproductive cycle but not condoms or the pill.

I am Catholic. I know what the official stance on birth control is as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. I think the Catholic Church is welcome to its opinion but quite frankly I believe that god gave us science for a reason – to improve our lives and our health. We accept that women now go to hospitals or see midwives, they don’t have their babies alone in their homes. We wash our hands because we accept that there are germs. We love science! But not when it comes to birth control. I don’t understand why. Giving women the power to control their own bodies, to improve their health and well-being, is important.

My personal choices concerning whether or not I have or will use birth control are just that – mine and personal. If you use birth control that’s your choice, pure and simple, and none of my business.

I could never have an abortion. I’ve been through a teenage pregnancy scare that ended in a false alarm. But I was told by two people that I had the choice, I didn’t have to be pregnant. My answer was “I did this, I made this choice, if this choice got me pregnant then I will deal with it.” Honestly, I was so attached to the idea of a baby inside me that I knew I couldn’t kill it, if it was even there.

Abortion is a woman’s choice to make. Every time a woman gets pregnant she consciously, or unconsciously, makes the choice to keep it or not. Making abortions legal keeps women safe because legal or not there are women who will choose it. The church is against it, I could never do it, and that still doesn’t change that every pregnant woman has the choice. Just because you don’t like the choice she MIGHT make doesn’t give you the right to take her choice away.

Because her right to choose wasn’t given to her by you. Or by the state. Or by the church. It was given to her by god. That’s what Christians believe. And if she’s a mature woman, old enough to vote, she’s old enough to decide what to do with her own body.

And you have the right to do what you want with yours.

I’m pro-choice, and my choice is never to have an abortion because I feel it is wrong to kill a child because I made a bad decision.

I’m pro-choice, and my choice is that two children is enough for me. I cannot handle any more, emotionally or physically. So I am taking measures to not have anymore children.

I’m pro-choice, and my choice is to keep my nose out of your choice. If you ask me for an opinion, or for information, I will gladly share with you what I have learned and experienced. But in the end you are free to make your own choice.

Because just because I believe something – just because Christians believe something – doesn’t mean everyone else believes it. Not everyone is Christian, after all.

 

This is part 1 of a longer series dealing with several controversial issues.

I would love to hear your opinions on abortion and birth control.

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