Thursday, July 3, 2014

Whatever happened to Separation of Church and State..

and freedom of religion? In regards to the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, who's religion are they siding with? What about the religious beliefs of their employees they are trampling on? Surely the employees of Hobby Lobby all don't belong to the same religion as their corporate owners! 
You know, everytime I read (and use) the acronym SCOTUS, the first thought that hits my brain is SCROTUM! It's not something I consciously think, but maybe my brain is interpreting what enters, analyzing, then spitting out the proper term. After all, the majority on this court have one of these. Sometimes I feel the male justices are thinking with their scrotums rather than their brains when it comes to women's issues.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissent says it best. Justice Ginsburg's Dissent One key quote from her decision reads thus: "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude." She went on to say, "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

I fear she is correct! How many employers will now use this decision to opt out of anything in the Affordable Care Act that goes against their religious beliefs? Such as blood transfusions, many different medications and vaccinations, as well as some who believe in no medical treatment at all? In a sense, these corporations -- or "people" -- will force their employees to abide by their personal religious beliefs.

And then, there is the issue of the hypocrisy of the Hobby Lobby owners and their retirement fund investments in numerous companies that sell the very contraceptive devices they claim to object to on religious grounds. This has been known for a long time. Why was it not known to the Supreme Court? Forbes online magazine had a damning article with backup for these claims, which go back to 2012. You may read about it here: HOBBY LOBBY HYPROCRISY .

The scariest part of this decision to me is the way that the fundamental Christian religion, i.e., a subset of the Evangelicals (which make up about 40% of the U.S. population), has been gradually taking over so much of the governing in our local, state, and federal legislatures. The fundamentalists are very politically conservative, take a literal view of the Bible, and tend to be more judgmental and intolerant than others. The states where they are more prevalent tend to have Republican Governors and Legislatures.

One example is our Texas Governor (who openly claims to be a Christian), Rick Perry's view in his controversial interview recently on homosexuality (which struck me as pretty ironic, as he has been dogged with a personal homosexual scandal for several years), wherein he compared homosexuality with alcoholism. He stated that an alcoholic can "choose" to abstain, and therefore, so can one with same-sex attraction! The so-called "conversion therapy" clinics to assist in a ridiculous attempt at "curing" homosexuality are legal in all but two states, now that the Supreme Court rejected the challenge to a recent ban on these clinics in California. The other state where the clinics are banned is New Jersey, but it also has had several legal challenges. One only has to read of the disgusting means that these clinics employ to "cure" one of same sex attraction, which are never effective by the way, to see why the psychological and medical professions as a whole condemn the practices. Governor Perry and the Republican legislature have effectively implemented their beliefs on many laws in the State of Texas -- most importantly, the anti-abortion legislation that closed so many of the Planned Parenthood clinics that were so essential to the poor. I feel certain they would never ban the conversion therapy clinics in Texas.

Most of the fundamental churches believe that homosexuality is a "sin". And that this type of "sin" will send one straight to hell. What happened to "judge not"? It appears to me that many religions today pick and choose the parts of the Bible they wish to "believe" as literal! Sounds to me like the radical factions of Islam who still stone women to death for what they believe are sexual improprieties. Our Bible also tells of stoning in the Old Testament!

How can one religion dictate the beliefs of a whole country? It appears that the fundamental right wing Christians are attempting to do just that. Which leads me to my biggest fear. What major world religion is in the news most these days? Islam, of course. Particularly in Iraq and Syria. There are differing factions in Islam as there are in Christianity.
(The regions may have changed as the militants take control of more parts of Iraq.)
What is happening in Iraq is really a religion fighting among its differing factions. If the militants do take over the entire country, they plan to impose strict Islamic Law -- their version. Goodbye, any type of democracy. I know this is much more complicated than what I am saying, but watching what Islamic militants are doing in every country they battle, this is how it appears. They hate anything to do with the West, its politics, culture, and religions. 
I watched a 2006 documentary on Netflix recently titled "Jesus Camp" that was very, very disturbing. It is about a Pentecostal youth minister, Becky Fischer, and a camp in North Dakota at the time, where she trains a group of pre-teen children.. some very young.. to be "God's Army" and go out into the world equipped to change everything from worship to politics to the Pentecostal (fundamental) view. It was scary watching how such a charismatic pastor could manipulate these vulnerable children, 9- and 10- year olds, working them into a frenzy with tears streaming down their faces. The hate speech she preached to them about the evils of movies and books such as Harry Potter, (she said that in Biblical times Harry Potter would be killed!) had them wide-eyed with fear. The scenes in the beginning and at the end of this movie of children with camouflage and painted faces, wielding sword-like "weapons" dancing in hypnotic rhythms while exciting their congregation were unbelievable. 
I could go on and on about the movie, but I urge you to see it yourself. It was so controversial, that they closed the camp shortly after the movie was released. That didn't stop Becky Fischer. 

She now is the "founder and director of The School of Supernatural Children's Ministry (aka SSCM). SSCM is a 45 hour training course which teaches parents and children's ministers the basics of great children's ministry. It also shows them how to teach children to hear God's voice, become worshipers, prayer warriors, prophetic spokesmen. It also teaches them to heal the sick, operate in the gifts of the Spirit (one of which is speaking in tongues), be led by the Spirit of God, and do signs and wonders. The goal of SSCM is to help kids become active members in the body of Christ while they are still children." This is taken directly from their website.
Statistics show that 75% of home-schooled children today are Evangelicals. Are they being taught basics from the above ministry? 

The Islamic militants in the mid-East start training their children at young ages as well, some as young as five. Besides the religious training they also receive military training that teaches them how to use weapons and to die for Allah. Could that happen to these children in the U.S. being trained for "God's Army"? 

Now, what if we view the United States broken down into three main religious factions (as well as other religions and nonbelievers)? Granted, they are not all Christian religions, but the effects might be the same. Say we have Protestants, Catholics, and Jews desiring their own brand of religion be enforced as the "law of the land". To hear what the fundamentalists are espousing, a Nation Under God means a Nation Under Christianity. The laws being passed from state to state as well as on the federal level are insidious in their function as religious beliefs. They are being implemented in ways that, as Justice Ginsberg says, "the (Constitution's) Establishment Clause was designed to preclude." Favoring one religion over another. 

How many laws must be passed enforcing the beliefs of the religious right? How much longer before the other religious and nonreligious bodies in our nation rise up in rebellion? How many of our freedoms must be taken away before we realize what has happened? Will there be Christian militias formed to enforce the laws? Will the law of the land be Fundamental Christian Law?

I have no answers, but am deeply saddened. I have been a Christian since my early childhood, but rejected the notions this type of Christianity teaches. Hate and intolerance are not a part of my belief system.

I want to close by referring you to read what "my type" of Christian has to say about the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. Beth is not only a Presbyterian minister, but she was an attorney before entering the ministry. She has three blog posts since the decision was made, but the first will amaze you!  If Beth Had a Blog  She states it so clearly.

Peace and love,

Monday, May 26, 2014


Last week I saw a video on the news about the above animals living in an animal sanctuary, Noah's Ark. I have not been able to stop thinking of them since that newscast. What an amazing example of peaceful coexistence. Different species no less! And from different parts of the world - the North American bear, the African lion, and the Asian tiger. Loving one another and living side by side.. even sleeping together. (Talk about "sleeping with the enemy"!) It truly has affected me profoundly.

While remembering and honoring all of our veterans the past few days, my thoughts kept straying to visions of peace on earth that would eventually put an end to war and eliminate the necessity for the growing number of graves holding our loved ones killed in combat. One day will we live peacefully with all the countries of the world? Again, I suggest, as we honor our vets, let us not forget those who have always -- and are still engaged in peacemaking of all kinds. 
(by Reuters/Jason Reed)
I was moved to hear of Pope Francis's visit to the "separation wall" dividing Israel and Palestine and placing his hand upon the wall to show his disapproval of the division. When they announced that the Pope had invited the Palestinian President Abbas and the Israeli President Peres to meet with him in Rome so they could all pray together for peace, I immediately thought of the BLT (bear-lion-tiger) trio in Noah's Ark. When the three of them are together, it will be a Catholic, a Muslim, and a Jew. When they meet in Rome to pray for peace, I hope we are made aware of the time so all people may join in prayer for a long-lasting peace between those two nations who have been bitter enemies for so long. Maybe this will start a journey for peace among all nations.

May God continue to bless America, and comfort those whose losses we honor today.

Peace and love,

Friday, May 9, 2014


Last year I published a couple of posts (the first one was DR. BOB) about an inspirational member of my son Matthew's group of friends, who has become like a member of our family. Dr. Bob's humor and sly wit is often sprinkled with philosophical lessons. Here is a brief piece about his family upbringing that influenced his life. He and his late brother Al had been living with his mother and a wealthy stepfather when he was thrust back into a life with his father and stepmother. The following is his take on that time. 
A Touch of Philosophy
 Bob Roberts, DDS, Ret.

"Looking back, after 8 years of living the life of the idyll rich and almost famous, I had lapsed into quite a snot. I had no sense of the words Work or Responsibility. 

My priorities were to drive cars fast, score with the girls, drink beer, and maintain an image. I ran with a crowd with like priorities. Fortunately, fate intervened at age 16 when I left for college and all that went away permanently.

I lasted one semester at TCU living with Pop and his wife Lora. He had said we would be pals and have a blast if I came and lived with him. Wrong! He wanted to rub my nose in it and get even for all the years that I was living rich and he wasn’t. He made my life as unpleasant as he could. I did not realize at the time that he was in a terminal downward spiral from drug addiction, uppers and downers, and was paranoid as Hell. His practice of Plastic Surgery was falling apart, malpractice suits were filed, and he was in danger of losing his license. When I left in January for the University of Texas [Editor: See COMING TO AUSTIN], he packed Lora and all his cash in his Lincoln Continental and fled Ft Worth never to return. They lived on the run for a year or so sleeping in cheap motels and sometimes the car until the heat was off.

Pop had made a ton of money, which he kept in cash, and was rich for the first time, and I believe this was a tipping point to a ruined life. He was a paranoid, broke old man tied to an oxygen tank at age 60, and died at 70.

Mr. Moroney, Pater, was seriously rich. Short version; he lost it all, was divorced from Mother, and committed suicide at age 56 by jumping off the Santa Fe building in Dallas. Al was interning at the Parkland Hospital E.R. and was present to identify the body. My conclusions: I have seen that great wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness or peace of mind, and is frequently debilitating emotionally. My lifetime goal became to achieve and maintain a middle-class status. In this I have, at least, been successful."
The current generation does not have a monopoly on broken marriages, alcoholism, or even drug abuse. It seems these afflictions have been around too many years. If only more products of those families turned out as well as Dr. Bob! 

Peace, love, and wisdom,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


If I sometimes come across as too political - or too liberal, my older son Craig will probably sound pretty radical to some of my readers. This is the letter he wrote to his sister about the 2008 election when she asked for his opinion on the candidates. He missed the mark on a couple of things... John McCain is still with us and loudly voicing his opinion. I believe McCain would have had us in at least two wars by now if he had been elected. Craig's belief that Obama could end "the hateful partisanship" plaguing our country was a pipe dream many of us shared that has not come to pass. 

As for "the most divisive, negative and deceitful campaign in American history" run by McCain, I think the 2012 campaign run by supporters of Mitt Romney won that title. I truly hate to hear what the 2016 campaign will subject us to now that the Supreme Court has let loose all the big money for financing. 
October 29, 2008 


First things first. Yes, Democrats did gain control of Congress in 2006. By the slimmest of margins. In the Senate, there are 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and two Independents that caucus with the Democrats.
There are two major obstacles that have prevented this Congress from being able to pass much meaningful legislation. First, the rules of the Senate effectively require 60 votes to bring up a bill. It takes 60 to stop a filibuster. Therefore, the Republicans have been able to obstruct anything that they didn't want considered and have done so. Even on some legislation that garnered enough Republican support to pass Congress, it still has to be signed by the president. Bush has vetoed several pieces of good legislation. To override a presidential veto requires a 2/3 majority, which we just haven't had.

So, trying to blame the Democratic Congress for our current troubles is a bit disingenuous.  We're in the mess we're in because of Bush's and the Republicans' disastrous policies on every front. Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us during a time of war. A war that is costing our nation $10 billion per month. A war about which we were lied to again and again. A war that John McCain says we may need to remain in for many years to come. A war that was a fait accompli once Bush/Cheney took office. The profiteering from this war has made Halliburton, Bechtel, KBR, Blackwater, etc. billions and billions of dollars, mostly through no-bid contracts. All of these companies are heavy Republican contributors. In fact, Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton just prior to naming himself the most qualified V-P candidate for Bush.  People should go to jail over what has happened. If you have Netflix, I highly recommend viewing "Iraq for Sale". It will enrage you.

I know the Republicans always fall back on the same refrain of how all the Democrats do is "tax and spend". Well, when Clinton left office, we had a budget surplus and had actually started paying down the national debt, which at the time was around $5 trillion. Since that time, Bush and the Republicans have run up enormous deficits and our national debt has more than doubled. They call us "tax and spend" but should call themselves "borrow and spend". They've essentially looted the treasury and nearly bankrupted our country. 

Undecided. I can't believe MY sister is undecided. Look at the choices.

On the one hand you have a 72-year-old man that has battled melanoma several times and hasn’t come completely clean about the stage or severity of the illnesses. Even without his cancer history, actuarial tables say he has about a 1 in 3 chance of dying over the next 8 years. He made two very important decisions during the course of this long campaign that I believe should disqualify his candidacy on its face.

1) He sucked up to the religious right in order to gain the Republican nomination and has run the most divisive, negative and deceitful campaign in American history. He has avowed that he would nominate more conservatives to the Supreme Court in the same mold as Scalia, Alito and Roberts. The next president will likely have two nominations to the court. One more conservative and Roe v Wade will be overturned. Period. A woman will no longer have the right to an abortion. 

2) His pick of Sarah Palin. This woman was chosen to fire up the aforementioned religious base of the party. Besides being an absolute idiot (George Bush in a skirt) obviously way out of her depth on the national stage, she's just plain dangerous. She is a Pentecostal who believes we are in the "end times" and that Jesus will return in her lifetime. (These people are nutjobs, little sister.) They've interpreted the Book of Revelations to mean we will see an Armageddon and the believers will be snatched up in the Rapture. I can provide you with several articles and videos where she affirms this belief. If McCain were to croak in office, do you really want her to have access to the nuclear launch codes? I ******* sure don't. This woman is so fundamental in her religious beliefs that she believes abortion should be outlawed even in cases of rape, incest and where the health of the mother is in jeopardy. While mayor of Wasilla (a town of about 9,000 people which is famous as the methamphetamine capital of Alaska), she instituted a policy at the local hospital that required rape victims to pay for their own rape tests! W**? (You know I could go on and on and on about these two, but I'll stop. Lunch hour is almost over.)

In Barack Obama, we have what I believe is a once in a generation, perhaps once in a lifetime candidate at a time when our country is in dire crisis. He has the intellect (President of the Harvard Law Review), compassion and understanding of the issues that's rarely seen in public life. He has been fiercely attacked by the Republican smear machine. And has demonstrated a calm and run a campaign that I've not seen in my lifetime. I truly believe he will be able to inspire our citizens to go beyond the hateful partisanship that we've been plagued with for so long. The list of conservatives and Republicans who have endorsed him is, I believe a testament to that. 

Watch him tonight. I believe he'll be able to close the sale for you.

Big Brudder
Brother and sister have changed a little since 2008. I've used their photos from around that time. I don't know who Carajean ended up voting for, but I'm sure she's careful what questions she asks her big "brudder" since then.

Craig is not  new to politics. I can remember when he was a young teenager how I got upset when he put up a huge poster in his room in support of McGovern for President. At the time I was still thinking I was a die-hard Republican. For many years, Craig would mail things to "My right-wing, conservative Mother"! (I cannot believe anyone ever really thought that of me.) In his early twenties he went with a group to D.C. to march on the South African embassy condemning apartheid. During these years he was also a member of the 7-member Nuclear Freeze Board in the State of Texas. His political activism continued after his marriage. He was a Democratic Party Precinct Chairman in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a time. I asked him about this recently, wondering why he is not more active now. His response was:

"Cameron wasn't quite 2 years old when I dragged him to our precinct caucus in Carrollton (the northern part - in Denton County), where we lived. It was a well attended one - it was '92 and Clinton won our precinct primary in voting that day and the caucus that night. I was elected Precinct Chair. Served again a few years later when we moved to Denton itself.

My involvement hasn't been nearly as intense for many years. Working campaigns in Texas requires the idealism of youth. I do some online grassroots activism on occasion.  Raised quite a bit of money (relatively speaking) for Obama in 08.

Wendy Davis may get me active this time around. Forgive her for the open carry support. This IS still Texas and her campaign was hoping to somewhat neutralize guns as a wedge issue. And you can see that Abbot's campaign badly misjudged the public reaction to having the lunatic gun-nut and pedophile Ted Nugent (Ted Nugent's Jailbait Problem) campaign with him. I've enjoyed the schadenfreude."

I think the highlight of Craig's political activity was a trip to Washington for the inauguration of Bill Clinton, for whom he campaigned. Other than a few Letters to the Editor of the (now defunct) Dallas Times Herald, he hasn't done much since then. Currently a Fleet and Internet Sales Manager for a huge Dallas Honda dealership, Craig has passed on his passion for politics to his son Cameron, who was a vigorous supporter of and campaigned for Barack Obama. 

I recently have been researching the problem of inequality in the U.S., and have asked Craig's feedback in writing something on the subject. (There is an excellent documentary on Netflix by Robert Reich that Craig recommended to me called "Inequality For All".) Craig's response to this request was: "I'll get some inspiration (or anger) before long and write something. The inequality thing has been simmering for awhile. Reich has been writing some short columns pretty much every day on his Facebook page.  I'll copy and paste some for you. He's wonderful." I look forward to Craig's inspiration - or anger!

Ahhh, some things haven't changed at all since he wrote that letter to his sister. The Republicans, now bolstered by the Tea Party members, have again been the obstacles to Congress passing much in the way of meaningful legislation other than the Affordable Care Act. God save us from more like them being elected in the coming mid-terms!

Peace, love, and wise choices,

From ABC News:

"The NBA announced today that it has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined $2.5 million, the maximum amount, after he was recorded making racist comments."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Raspberries and Kudos

I wish I'd kept the source of this baby's image. It so expresses the way I feel about some things in the news recently. Here are a few:

  • Gun carry rights law passed in Georgia. I cannot fathom people now openly carrying weapons in churches, bars, schools, and even airports. What on earth are they thinking about in Georgia? How many legislators were paid off by the NRA?
  • FDA approves new painkiller Zohydro. It's 5-10 times stronger than Vicodin. They state that "if used correctly" it's safe and effective. How many addicts care if they use a drug correctly.. and this one is so strong one tablet can kill a child. Do we really need another drug for pain? Of course, I know this is a subjective view. If I suffered severe pain, I might think differently. All I can think of is how many young people are now getting addicted to prescription drugs they get from their parents' medicine chests.
  • Palcohol The federal government recently granted label approval to powdered alcohol, which turns water into vodka and rum. They subsequently rescinded that approval, however, it could be approved at a later date with different labels. Imagine how easy this will make it for anyone to conceal and drink alcohol without detection. Again, what a nightmare for parents. And the fact that it is possible that many will try to "snort" the powder like cocaine makes it even more dangerous. Teenagers are notorious risk-takers. 
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Michigan's law banning racial preferences in university admissions. They have opened the door for other states' approving such a ban. Another case of the loosening of state laws banning racial discrimination. It is an unfortunate trend, along with the voters' rights discrimination rampant in many red states today.

The UN's decision to ban Japan's annual whaling drive off the coast of Antarctica.

- Pope Francis's statement regarding gays.. "Who am I to judge?" (I love this man!)

- Johnson and Johnson has pledged to remove all harmful chemicals from its consumer products by the year 2015. It has already removed them from their line of baby products. I will definitely use their products.. except for the baby products, of course!

- Billionaire Tudor Jones and his Robin Hood Foundation. Mr. Jones recently raised $57 million in donations to help fund about 500 projects for the poor, many in education. He was featured on 60 Minutes last Sunday. To read a fascinating study of how he came to be interested in eradicating poverty, here is a good site to read his profile done by the 60 Minutes team: Recapo His is a story of the extremely wealthy in this country "paying it forward".

- The "mother nature network" has listed Austin, TX as one of the ten "greenest" cities in the United States. If it were not for the horrendous traffic, that would make Austin the best place in the U.S. to live! We have a plethora of green space -- parks, preserves, greenbelts, and trails throughout the city. Drive around when you can miss the rush hour traffic and just notice how green everything looks, even in the winter time! Austin has implemented many good programs one of which is curbside recycling, and even a ban on retail plastic bag use. I keep a good supply of  reusable bags in my car at all times.

I missed writing about Earth Day this week. However, I was torn between two loves - writing on this blog or getting out in nature. Guess which won? I've been prettying up my front porch and yard with new and old plants now that the last of the 30 degree temperatures are behind us. And I'm not finished yet.

Happy Spring!

Love and peace,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I received the following from a dear friend, Carin Horn, PhD:

Good morning, Marilyn,

"I just finished reading your latest blog and wanted to share some of my most challenging opportunities to not be judgmental and still serve the greater good.  I have been a volunteer board member and food buyer at the Denton Community Food Center for 4 years.  We serve about 200 families a week by providing emergency food 4-5 times a year and no more than twice in a calendar month.  Some of the folks that know where I volunteer have commented about the people that "take advantage of the system. You know. The ones that work it."

We really never know one another's story:

- A woman pulls up in a high dollar Mercedes needing food; she was living in her car.
- A disabled veteran is living on the streets and has no refrigeration or way to heat/cook food.
- The young widow of a veteran killed in Iraq needs food for her very young children.
- A multigenerational family can't feed everyone because the grandparents are living on social security but their adult child and family moved in after a job-related injury and subsequent loss of employment.  This happens frequently.
- A single mother with four children is pregnant and unemployed.  I think that she had been raped.
- A young man has no transportation, is living in a tent in some woods around Denton and cooking on an open fire -- not enough money to buy ice for the cooler he has.
- A man smelling like death had just been released from the hospital and has nothing to eat.  He was still wearing his hospital ID band.

I could go on and on....  The opportunity to accept and help others as they are may be our greatest challenge as brothers and sisters of the human race."

2013 statistics show that one out of five children or 16 million children in America struggle with hunger on a daily basis. Your generous donations to your local food banks are needed to ensure these children and their parents get enough to eat. Contact organizations such as No Kid Hungry or a food bank in your area - Feeding America (for a list of food banks across the nation) to see how you can help. 

Sadly, many of our vets and their families also need food. One organization you can contact is Food for Veterans.
After posting Carin's original email, I had a few questions, which she answered:

"“...the Food Center has been an all-volunteer community charity for 38 years.  No one has ever been paid to work there!  Our oldest volunteer is 94; the youngest without adult supervision are 16.  That being said, most of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our volunteers have helped from time to time, including Chloe, Kaitlyn, and Coleson! (These are Carin’s own grandchildren.)

We have wonderful community support with funding and/or food coming from private individuals, co-op gardens/farms, group donations of purchased food, the Denton Benefit League, CoServ utilities, both universities, local grocery stores, academic intern programs, Empty Bowls of Denton, memorial funds, numerous churches, neighborhoods, and school food drives among many others.  We do not receive any direct government funding but we are able to purchase USDA commodities at substantial savings through the Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) in Ft. Worth. Because of that association, we are required to participate in civil rights training annually.

Some of our volunteers are accumulating community service hours at the recommendation of the courts -- essentially a fine-of-time for everything from running a stop sign to being caught having more fun than the law allows!  It is surprising how many community service workers become long-term volunteers after they have met their mandated obligations.  Helping others is very addictive behavior....

This morning I placed an order with TAFB for 5,115 pounds of food (frozen, fresh, and dry or canned) that will be gone before the end of next week.  We typically give out at least a ton of food a day, five days a week from 1:00 to 3:00 throughout the year.  BTW we do not require proof of citizenship -- a hungry child is a hungry child.

Love back to you and, Marilyn, keep speaking your mind.  You give us opportunities to reflect upon what really matters."  C
Pointing out the sometimes miserable and negative aspects of our society may seem contrary to what I have described as my "Pollyanna" personality. Really, though, it's not. There is a positive angle to what I write about. I do not present these things as a condemnation (although it sounds like it when I talk politics!), but rather a beautiful opportunity for each of us to contribute lovingly to those less fortunate. A Christian, "golden-rule" type response to needs of so many. Unless we shine a light on those needs, how can we know what to fix? And much in our world today needs fixing. In doing so, I wish to pay tribute to those known and unknown angels who go about doing this work so unselfishly. Not only are they feeding the hungry of body, but they give much love to the soul.

I think Gandhi would approve of them.

Peace, love, and food for your soul,

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Am I the only one who finds it ironical that so many of our representatives in Congress seem to ignore The Golden Rule in all its many forms? Especially those who claim to be Christian? At the swearing in of Congress in January, 2013, the overwhelming majority of members of both the House and the Senate professed to be Christian of one denomination or another. 33 members were Jewish, and the balance answered as "no affiliation, other, or refuse to answer". 

The Golden Rule - or "do unto others" - is present in every world religion as well as ethical philosophies. One version or another has been around for centuries before the birth of Christ. The Christian version is present in different forms throughout the Bible, most notably when Jesus the Christ admonished, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31)

In Judaism, from the Talmud, "What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of The Torah and the remainder is but commentary."

It may surprise many to know that (Sunni) Islam teaches the same, "Do unto all men as you would they should unto you, and reject for others what you would reject for yourself." (Mishkat-el-Masabih)

There is also one described as "Commonsenseism" - put in modern, secular terms as "Treat people the way you'd like to be treated."
How do our Representatives reconcile their religious faith with some - not all - of the actions they take in Congress? It is tiresome to hear so many of our politicians (not only in Congress, but also in the Texas political arena) lump together the scores of unemployed, homeless, the hungry, the sick, and the poor with the few in our country who take advantage of assistance programs, by labeling them "dependents" (as if it is a dirty word) in an effort which cuts the assistance to those who are really in need. Paul Ryan's budget proposal is a shameful example of this trend. Congress's refusal to extend unemployment benefits; Ryan's proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and cut Food Stamps, Medicaid and Medicare, even privatize Social Security, would have devastating effects on our country.

The Reproductive Rights issues in many states have already hurt the poor, especially in Texas. Using Christianity as a reason to limit accessibility to family planning and yes, even abortion, has already deprived many of the poor of necessary healthcare in Texas. By making stringent
demands on Planned Parenthood centers, Texas has effectively shut down several of these centers in the most-needed parts of the state. Who will care for the unplanned (and often unwanted) children, born into poverty or even abuse and neglect? Who is going to provide their healthcare, nutrition, education? (Texas ranks 46th in the country in per student spending on education, and ranks 34th in overall quality of education.)

What will happen to the explosion of the elderly as the baby boomers reach their "golden years", and they find their Social Security payments and Medicare reduced or eliminated? Texas Governor Perry refused the additional federal Medicaid funds, which may mean many hospitals and nursing homes will not be able to remain open in the future. One nursing home administrator told me if their Medicare funding is cut they will have to close their doors.

The Congressional Christians speak out most about repealing the Healthcare Act, reproductive rights, abortion, and homosexuality. The one area that they seem to be losing ground on is same-sex marriage, as more and more states are passing laws to allow these marriages, or to at least recognize those from states which do. Pope Francis speaking out against judgement of homosexuals may have played a part in this by shaming the anti-gay establishment. 

Which reminds me that I, too, am becoming too judgmental in my appraisals of the conservatives and the wealthy who are running the country. I don't believe they will burn in Hell!  However, I may be creating a "hell" of my own with my words. When I start in on these subjects I have been quickly brought to task by my younger son. My own judgmentalism is seen as hypocrisy, and he's right. There's an old Indian saying that goes like this:
I can only hope that if I were in the shoes of the politicians and the wealthy 1% of this country that I would care more for the poor and disenfranchised than is shown by them. For now, I can only pray that enough feel the way I do that we can vote for positive change in America. In the meantime,  I ask them, what would you do in my shoes?

Peace and love,

~My thanks to the Christian Left website for wonderful images that inspire me.