Tuesday, March 20, 2018

And So We Carry On

Last week, Stephen Hawkins and Toys Are Us died, hundreds of United States high school kids walked out to protest gun violence, and a few of the neighborhood crocus started blooming. 

Meanwhile, war in Syria has been going on for the last seven years leaving an estimated 400,000 Syrians killed and 11 million displaced. 

And the war in Afghanistan, which has been going on for 17 years, has left 1.5 million Afghans dead; 4,500 U.S. dead; and 100,000 U.S. wounded. 

Right now, 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

Nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution.  
In the United States, homelessness is endemic. 

And yet, and yet. Last week, hundreds of United States high school kids walked out to protest gun violence, and a few of the neighborhood crocus started blooming. 

And so we carry on.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lopsided Progress

Over the past 300 or so millennia, there has been significant progress. The shift from cave to computer is astounding. 

 Technology is one thing. Society quite another. 

 I don’t believe humans have changed that much. We need, I think, to discard the notion of our ancient ancestors as dull-witted brutes. They were smart enough to figure out fire and agriculture and weaving and art and one thing led to another and now we have smart phones. 

What has not evolved, in my opinion, has been our societies (local, national and global). In fact, we may have regressed. 

We’ve gone from circles of people with an acknowledged consciousness of their relationships with the rest of existence (stars, plants, seasons, animals) to a hierarchical pyramid schemes that discount three fourths of our species. Under the latter, we have serfs, slavery, and homelessness. Progress has been lopsided – like our society. This is not what Pangloss told Candide – "all is for the best" in the "best of all possible worlds". Nor is it true that ‘every day in every way, things are getting better and better’. 

We need to stop being smug about the progress of our species and start working toward re-forming our circles. 

Then we can be smug.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

It Is Still Here!

They are still here! 

My front yard miracle -- the cluster of flowers that appeared in January is still here and it’s almost Easter! 

People walking on the sidewalk in front of my house often stop to admire them. 

I check on them every morning as I descend the stairs to make breakfast. 

They’ve been buried in snow and blown by violent winds but they are still here. 

Wikipedia says “the Eurasian genus Helleborus consists of approximately 20 species of herbaceous or evergreen flowering plants in the family Ranunculacase, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleborae.” Cool. 

“Despite names such as "winter rose", "Christmas rose" and "Lenten rose", hellebores are not closely related to the rose family.” But a non-rose by any name is still sweet … especially when it blooms in winter. It would be so excellent if they lasted all the way to Easter. We’ll see.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

what is this?

Last year, I had one winter blooming flower in my front yard. Now I have a small colony, surviving snow and frigidness. 

Someone called it an evening primrose but according to Wikipedia, that would open only at the close of day. Mine opens all day, everyday.

I believe someone else called it a wood rose. Is that what this is?

By whatever name, it is sweet. It is my own, personal miracle that appears in January and persists.
As must we all.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Enough Already

More than 225 years ago, English author Mary Wollstonecraft wrote that women were coerced into believing -- “that they were created rather to feel than [to] reason, and that all the power they obtain, must be obtained by their charms and weakness.” 

No one believes that now. 

Or not many people. 

But traces of that anomaly seep into attitudes that are perverted into excuses for various crimes against women-- whether violence, abuse, or patronizing behavior/comments. 

An occasional pat on the back is okay. Pats on the head are not. Neither is any form of uninvited groping or grabbing. 

The whole man/woman thing is fraught with . . . almost everything. Attraction is inevitable. Detraction, not acceptable. Sexual tension can be delightful but respect is required. Permission sought. Mutuality confirmed. 

Whole industries are founded on stoking the fires of desires. Extreme d├ęcolletage rules. Misogyny rules. Lasciviousness rules. 


Whether we are 8 or 18 or 80, each of us must establish boundaries, advocate personal autonomy, and work to protect those females who have a hard time doing it on their own. At least stand with them. 

Now is the time. 

For all of us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

more than the missionary position

Imagine, if you will, a conversation/debate between/among Catherine Deneuve, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Carol Christ

Oprah Winfrey is an American media phenomenon, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Her speech during the Golden Globes Awards, riveted audiences with its compelling rhetoric declaiming that the time for brutally powerful men was up. . . that the “Me, Too” movement was prelude to a seismic shift in society. 

Once called “the world’s most elegant woman,” Catherine Deneuve is the actress/singer/model/producer who was one of more than 100 French women who signed an open letter denouncing the #MeToo movement for conflating sexual assault with harmless flirtation. [She later apologized to female victims of violence.] 

Dr. Carol Christ is a feminist theologian, author, and director of the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual. She twice annually leads women on tours of Crete to learn about Minoan culture. 

About three years ago, I spent two weeks in Crete on one of those tours, absorbing the archeological traces of the matrifocal/matrilineal/matrilocal society that flourished there for a couple thousand years. I was convinced: non-dominational societies are possible. 

Parse that word a moment: ‘non-dominational’ – no domination – no gender or sector or class with more privilege or power than any other. 

It is entirely possible that Catherine, Oprah and Carol would not argue or debate. They each believe in the self-sovereignty of women and their inherent right to be treated with respect. They have no objection to harmless flirtation. And they all know there is more to life than the missionary position.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Who the hell was Sarah?

In my last post, I reported singing “We Are Dancing Sarah’s Circle.” I was moved by the context of the hymn – a service featuring the personal stories of nine people in different stages of their lives – “sisters, brothers all.”

But what did it mean to be “dancing Sarah’s circle”? And who the hell was Sarah?

Thank goodness for Google. It has been a long, long time since I checked out Biblical stories. I have just spent the better part of the morning reading about aspects of the convoluted story of this Jewish matriarch – and prophet. A respected woman!

One of the reasons I abandoned my childhood Sunday school beliefs was the perceived over-arching misogyny of our Judeo-Christian heritage. According to Google sources, Sarah probably lived about 2000 BCE (Before the Common Era). Her spouse, Abraham, was the progenitor of three patriarchal religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Why was my non-patriarchal congregation dancing to a song honoring (by implication) a woman of these persuasions?

What I decided was that Sarah’s circle represents the long thread of human history – “every round a generation … on and on the circle’s moving.” And our connections to each of its strands. Patriarchal or not. I’m okay with that but will have more to say about the stain of patriarchy. Stay tuned.