Sunday, November 28, 2004

Rant #832

On abortion, now or later

This entry started as a comment on Demi's blog on abortion over at Pilgrim's Progress. She wrote about how the conservatives/creationists act as though they are the only ones who are pro-life. And get back strain patting themselves for their high moral ground, I might add.

Anyway, my comments got too long to be "comments," so I copy clipped them onto my own blog and left a short comment at Pilgrim's Progress.

I am opposed to abortion. My own belief is that nothing happens -- sperm and egg can bump into each other all they want -- until God puts a spark of life there.

If we don't want to be responsible for this spark of life for the next 18-20 years, we should be using good birth control or abstinence.

How about making abortion largely unnecessary, with better education about, and availability of, birth control, for males as well as females, and more and better counseling and alternatives for women who find themselves pregnant in terrible situations.

Maybe the male members of the population should get birth control implants until they are at least 25, then get a license to procreate when men can demonstrate they're mature enough and willing enough to take care of the offspring they produce. Take that, Jerry Falwell. That's less imposition on a male than forced childbirth is on a girl. That would cut down both the childbirth rate and the abortion rate by leaps and bounds. Not to mention the number of fatherless children.

The anti Roe-Wade hysteria, anti-women's choice, it's about controlling women.

My heart goes out to a woman who is in a dilemma, and where the only alternatives to abortion might be terrifying. I'm thankful I've never been in that situation.

I saw a saying not long ago, "Rights don't end at birth." If the holier-than-thou conservatives were ready to help those children and their mothers, I might have more respect for their position.

Abortion is a crying shame, though. I hate it.

Do you know what I think the ultracon version of abortion is? Delayed abortion. Like the Iraqi war. Let 'em grow up, then kill 'em.

End of this diatribe. It started coming on when I saw Jerry Falwell on TV this morning, defending his position that God approves of war, and God really is a Republican, who appointed Bushie for the job, so now Bushie can do anything he wants, 'cause God loves Bushie and Bushie loves the religious right, and let's get rid of Roe v. Wade, etc. It left me feeling ill.

p.s. -- didn't Falwell ever read Isaiah 2:1-5? It tells us God's perfect will for the human race is for our swords to be beaten into plowshares, and that we not learn war any more.

The passage from Isaiah was the Old Testament reading in the Episcopal Church today.

"O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!"

Editor's note Dec. 2: for more on Folwell and his infamous comments, go to BlondeSense and read postings since Sunday (11/28/04).
And, thanks, Demi!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Animal House

Betsy the Angel

Our animals play important roles in our lives. Betsy (the Best Dog in the World), a border collie/Australian shepherd mix, has been featured in a number of my blog entries; she's the one who patiently puts up with Jack the Brat, the one who snuggles up against my legs when I'm sick in bed. She's a joyous dog, full of spirit.

This is about a dream I had a couple of weeks ago, one vivid enough to stay with me.

In the dream, I walked out of a dark house, to go talk to two men who were on top of the roof, hammering. But when I got outside, I walked away from the house, instead.

Betsy met me. She was basically the same as in real life, but her ears were a bit bigger, I think for listening to the Holy Spirit, and her muzzle was just a bit heavier, emphasizing the Australian shepherd in her.

She danced around me excitedly, full of joy. She wanted me to come with her. I looked back toward the house, but she said no, pulling at my sleeve to come with her, instead.

I looked forward, where she was directing me, a steep path leading up the side of a hill or mountain. Cool, refreshing, fall air brought leaves swirling around my feet.

As I started forward on the path, she extended her paw forward and bowed, then began to dance with joy again.

That's it. That's the dream.

I think the house represents the family situation and the past from which I came. It was dark and airless. I think the men on the roof represented my brothers, nailing shut the only opening to let in the light. The Light of the World.

I think Betsy represented an emissary, an angel, maybe the Holy Spirit herself. She was sent to help me find the path I need to be on -- a path that may be steep and difficult at times, but one that will take me to a higher and better place, closer to God and joy and healing.

The leaves represented the death of the old life; the cool air symbolized the new life brought by the Holy Spirit.

I was looking at Betsy a few days ago and thinking about the dream. I asked her, "Are you my angel dog?"

She placed her paw on the floor and leaned back in a bow, just as she had done in the dream, whuffed, and danced around me with delight.

I took that as a "yes," and a reminder to let the joy in.

I hope everyone has been having a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving.
Love and hugs from the unSaintly Pat!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Rant #831

No, I don't know how many times I have actually ranted in my life. I made up that number. This is one I've tried to avoid, for like many other wayfarers following the way, I'm tired of all the arguments about homosexuality.

Now, I feel compelled to speak out once more.

It started this past Wednesday evening, at at Bible study at the church. We've been watching a video series called The Call to Discipleship, led by a woman name Erilynne Barnum, who is/was a deacon in the Episcopal Church, at Pawley's Island -- the ones who seceded from the Episcopal Church and squabbled over ownership of church property.

I went into the study partly as curiosity, partly for fellowship. Not everyone in the group is right-wing, by any means.

Most of what Barnum has said has been OK with me, and she certainly knows the Bible.

I pointed out a whole different interpretation of the Adam and Eve thing than she gave. She blamed everything on Eve, of course, and Adam wouldn't have been swayed if Eve hadn't tempted his with her "come hither" wiggles, etc., etc. Not to mention, Barnum was pretty darn slow to give any interpretation to Eve's creation as anything other than being taken from Adam and being only a helper and companion to him.

Anyway, I'm pretty used to hearing a more literalistic interpretation of the Bible than maybe many are. I take the message literally, and believe the healings and the miracles recounted in the Bible happened. I believe in God's mercy and Jesus' will to heal.

I don't believe God intends us to read the Bible without thoughtful meditation and application of reason.

Science is a gift of God, like medicine. We can use it or abuse it, like the other gifts God gives us. We can take into account the differences in our understanding of the world and that of 2,000-4,000 years ago. Otherwise, we would still be trying to cure most all illness with exorcism.

Wednesday night, Barnum talked about Sodom and Gomorrah. The homosexual sex act was named after Sodom, she reminded us. Then Barnum launched into a bit about all this stuff she's heard (with which she clearly doesn't agree) about homosexuals and how God's love is everwhere and God meets us where we are. Humph.

BUT, she said, the Bible clearly says HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN!!!!!! AN UNREPENTED SSSSINNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!

She didn't say it in as ugly a manner as I've heard others. But I clearly heard the condemnation in her voice. As if a gay person is somehow outside the pale, left standing outside God's grace and salvation.

For a moment, I'm going to consider her assertion that being gay or at least, "the homosexual act" is a sin. Yes, she says like so many others, we're all sinners, but THEY DON'T REPENT OF THEIR SIN. OOOOHHHH I guess they're gonna burn in hell.

Okay, then, that means we're all going to burn in hell, and God's grace doesn't mean diddly squat, because we're all guilty of not just sin, but unrepented sin. Sometimes we don't even acknowledge the sin, so how can we repent it? All of us have things we're so pig-headedly self-righteous about that we would never see ourselves needing to repent. I see that in Barnum herself, and not just on this issue!

But it's something we're all guilty of.

And if we ain't got no grace, there ain't no point.

That said, my own belief is that homosexuality is no more a sin or choice than being freckle-faced. It is the way some of us were created. If someone reaches out to another in love, whether hetero- or homosexual, that is between those two people and God. If we treat each other with love, we honor God, and God is present.

God does meet us where we are. Then God pulls us closer.

Like Father Jake (click on the the link at right and read his entry from Nov. 21), I grew up believing I was wasn't "good" for much of anything. I grew up in a family where the message was I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loveable enough or worth(y) enough.

I didn't realize how pervasive that condemnation was, or how much I had believed the lies, until the last years of my life. Coming to Christ saved me in a literal fashion. Then, after going through inner healing, prayer, spiritual direction and the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, I've started to walk out of those lies and false beliefs.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.

My own experience makes me sensitive to abusive treatment of others. Treat others as if they are worthless, outside of God's love, and you destroy souls. You rob Christ of that which is His to claim.

None of us "deserve" grace. It is freely given, nonetheless.

Tonight, I went to a meeting to plan activities for the healing ministry at our church. There was a proposal to bring in a priest from an Charismatic Orthodox Anglican/AMiA/Whatever church to speak at a healing mission. The man doesn't believe in ordaining women. He believes homosexuality can be cured, and this is apparently one of the major thrusts of his teaching/preaching. But, he's a very spiritual man, we were told.

There was enough resistance to can this, at least for the time being. Mother Marvelous issued a reminder how this would impact various people in the parish, some of whom have homosexual children, some who are barely hanging in as it is, with the current political climate.

I said I won't be there if this man is.

I don't care how spiritual he is and how much he might try to avoid saying something controversial, his beliefs would flavor his teaching. His presence alone would turn the healing mission into a political statement, given the politics going on in this Diocese, and in the church. It would make it divisive rather than healing. And it would be an affront to our two ordained women, to boot.

And no, I wouldn't want his politcal opposites there for the same reason. (The argument was used, well, what about Spong or Marcus Borg?) Political controversy belongs somewhere else, maybe a special seminar/open forum, but not at a healing mission.

Sigh. I'm tired of it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Animal House

A gremlin in the house

Living with four animals isn't always easy. I mostly think I've lost my mind, and I've become a kennel-keeper rather than a homeowner.

I go off to work, leaving all four in the house. They're all used to being house animals and the oldest wouldn't survive the Florida heat if left in the yard all day.

I could have been training Jack the Brat, who's now four-five months old, to stay outside, I guess. He was such a tiny kitten, I was afraid a hawk or eagle would get him, even if he didn't stray off and become prey to one of the roaming dogs in the neighborhood.

Jack is at least twice the size he was when I took him in August, but he's not a big cat. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in energy.

One of his favorite pastimes is tormenting Elvis, a portly and slow-moving middle-aged cat. Jack walks sideways up to Elvis, leaps into the air in place to make sure he has Elvis' attention, then jumps on Elvis. The wrestling match begins.

Poor Elvis is so put out with this little brat being in the house, he hisses any time Jack comes within his radar. It doesn't bother Jack.

Betsy (the Best Dog in the World) enjoys Jack's company most of the time. Jack's favorite torment of Betsy is to jump on her head and dig in tooth and claw, sometimes making Betsy yelp. She scrapes him off with her paw and holds him down for a minute.

Other times, Jack and Betsy play a game of chase. Jack is "it." Sometimes I worry that Betsy will end up hurting him, she gets so wound up in the chase. Jack's not the least bit scared -- he moves like greased lightning. And he's the one to start the game.

Whether or not they're roughhousing, Jack and Betsy are best friends. He cuddles up at her side for naps.

Good Old Boy, an elderly retriever, is mostly puzzled by Jack, if he even notices him. Jack has to get right in Good Old Boy's face to get his attention, which lasts only momentarily.

Jack finds other outlets for his energy, like tearing up the house. I came into my computer room/office the other morning to find the keyboard and mouse dangling off the desk by their cords, and the stuffing from a boxed gift shredded over the floor.

Every time the refrigerator opens, he tries to climb in. He thinks anything I'm eating is to be shared with him.

I wake up in the night to thuds and crashes. Burglars? No, just Jack. This morning, I awoke to find the pouffy body scrubber from the shower on the the bed next to me. Jack.

The sheers from the bedroom window were found in a pile on the floor a couple of weeks ago. Jack.

The dogs' water dish spilled all over the floor. Jack.

Teeth marks on my wooden dining-room chairs. (I caught him at it the other day -- standing on his hind feet on the chair's seat, stretching himself up and chewing as hard as he could on the knob? finial? on the back of the chair.) Jack

Paperwork knocked on the floor and scattered all over the room. Jack.

The weights pulled out of the vertical-blind fabric strips -- daily. Jack.

Disappearing shoes. The cordless phone found under the bed. Jack.

Jack, Jack, Jack. Good thing for him he's so adorable.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Striving for justice and peace

I was moved to tears by John Edwards' and John Kerry's concession speeches. They reminded us that the work is not done, and we will still strive toward justice, social reforms and respect from our allies.

Edwards has shown his stuff in this election, and his was one of the best and most-soul stirring speeches I've heard in a long time. We have definitely not seen the end of him in presidential elections, I think. And Kerry spoke simply, directly and from the heart and for the work we have to do in the future. I would vote for him all over again.

Who knows how honest this election was? I'm starting to hear about how easily a few percentage points can be manipulated through the vote-talling computers. Just have the scanners flip every 500th or thousandeth Democrat vote to read Republican.

We observed All Saints Day in church today, and some of the Baptismal Covenant was used in the service. Here are the last two lines of the Covenant:

Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

People: I will, with God's help.

Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

People: I will, with God's help.

This covers just about everything.

How can anyone recite this and still refer to a gay young man as an abomination? How can we then invade another country, bringing thousands of deaths, on false and erroneous (with the emphasis on false) pretexts? How can we call such a war "Christian?" How can we have a "Christian" administration that encouraged the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

How can you have a "have more" power base, while people are un- or underemployed, go without health care, or even sleep on the street, in the richest nation in the world?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The day after

It looks like Bush won the election he stole four years ago, though not by the landslide his spinners are trying to claim, by any means. It's a slim margin -- not a huge mandate for an incumbent.

Sen. Kerry is right to hold off any concession until all the votes are counted and his team has had a chance to look it all over.

With Bush, we can expect four more years of increasing fascism, war and terrorism to look forward to. May God have mercy on us.

Maybe enough people have woken up and will be on guard, and will act, to help prevent this.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Speak of the devil...

Speaking of Osama bin he's surfaced with a video just in time for the elections. Funny how we haven't been able to catch him.

The Christian Science Monitor reports of his growing mystique in the Arab world, that he's seen in many eyes as the romantic, lone figure to stand up to and elude the United States.

The failure to capture this wealthy Saudi (I emphasize this because the news reports would lead you to think he's Afghani) certainly is an embarrassment to U.S. military and civilian intellgence agencies.

Again, I wonder, why have they been unable to capture him, even with a $25 million price tag on his head?

And what part of the sudden turn to war on Iraq was to distract attention away from this matter? I certainly felt that was part of the intention at the time, and it still seems very likely.

I've just gotta wonder.

In the meantime, I voted last week, thanks to the early voting polling station near my office. I sure hope my vote gets counted.

I watched a Central Florida preacher on TV yesterday doing his political bit, asking how would Jesus vote? and using the fundamentalist touchstone questions about same-sex marriage, etc.. etc.. etc. My reaction is, never in a million years for Bush.

Former Mayor Giuliani of New York was on TV too, doing his Bush pitch. One of the things he accused Kerry of is, "He's against war." I don't think the mayor realized how this sounded. I kinda think Jesus would be against war, too.

Shouldn't war be the very last resort, after all else has failed, and when we are in imminent peril? The situation in Iraq was not even close. Yet our young people were thrown into it -- thrown to the wolves. Thousands more Iraqis died.

What kind of "intelligence failure" was this, when Hussein had actually complied with UN demands? We seem to be full of "intelligence failures" in the Middle East, including one on the effectiveness of "Shock and Awe." And we're at much more risk than ever before, thanks to the Bush administration.