Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Conversation with John Dear

Before last year's Wild Goose Festival, I knew little about John Dear, only that he was a peace activist.  By the time I left the festival, he was one of my heroes.  That first year of the festival, Bill and I had decided to sit in on a few talks by speakers we weren't familiar with, Fr. John being one of them.  As he walked out on stage, he looked mild, unassuming, and slightly boyish.  When he began speaking, he briefly mused about what he should talk about, then he launched into one of the most powerful  talks I have ever heard.

This year, we knew hearing John Dear speak was essential.  We would again sample talks by speakers unknown to us but no matter who was up against him in the schedule, we would make Fr. John our choice.  We were fortunate that he was speaking on two separate days and we made sure we were front and center before each talk began.  Once again, he blew us away with his powerful and frank talk.  He doesn't play politics as he blames both sides of the aisle for the death and destruction inflicted on the young and the innocent by war.  Fr. John exudes love while speaking truth to power.

While we were waiting outside one of the tents to hear another speaker, I noticed Fr. John also standing in the margins.  Since one of the benefits of the festival is the removal of the wall between speaker and attendee, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to introduce myself to him.  We walked over to him and I held out my hand, introducing myself.  He reciprocated, calling himself simply "John."  I told him what an inspiration he has been to me.  I also wanted to take the opportunity to ask him questions about his peace work and the universal church.  It was not to be because he so graciously proceeded to ask questions about my family.  He wanted to know if I had children, how old they were, and "are they well?"  When he turned to introduce himself to Bill, he immediately congratulated him on the upcoming marriage of our son.  I was amazed by his humility and genuine interest.  He told us he was going to Afghanistan later in the year and asked for our prayers.  He also commented that he had lost his cell phone at the festival and wanted us to pray for that as well.

Although I was disappointed that I hadn't been able to ask John one or two of my burning questions, I was thrilled when another opportunity arose.  After his second talk, I was first in line to buy his new book and to get it signed.  We chatted briefly and I posed one of the questions that was weighing on me.  "How does one respond to churches and pastors who insist that 'war is sometimes necessary'?" I asked.  He looked at me with what I can only describe as a beaming, joyful, and kind expression and replied, "Tell them that they're not following Jesus!"  He continued by saying I should also remind them that in the history of the world, war has never worked.  And with that, he smiled.  

Oh, I did ask if he had found his phone; he had.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Farm Friday

As part of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) business, I've started growing herbs for our customers.  Here's my pineapple sage, along with some regular sage:

Pineapple sage tastes like....pineapple.  It's good to put in fruit salads.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back from Wild Goose

Back from the Wild Goose Festival.  Lots of catching up to do now that I'm back home - but I wanted to post this photo of me and one of my heroes, Father John Dear:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quote for the Day

"Live with intention. 
Walk to the edge. 
Listen hard. 
Practice wellness. 
Play with abandon. 
Choose with no regret. 
Appreciate your friends. 
Continue to learn. 
Do what you love. 
Live as if this is all there is."
Mary Anne Radmacher

Friday, June 22, 2012

Farm Friday

More goats born on the farm - two babies to Juliette, both boys.  Here's one of them:
Photo: Found this little guy waiting for me at the barn this morning.  His newborn brother was in a barn stall with their mother.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


We're off to the Wild Goose Festival.  My son calls it the Christian Woodstock.  Here's how the organizers describe it:  
We are a community creating a festival at the intersection of justice, spirituality and art....We take inspiration from many places, such as Greenbelt, Burning Man, the Iona Community, SXSW, and others.  The festival is open to everyone; we don't censor what can be said; we invite respectful - but fearless - conversation and action for the common good.


Flip Flop
How many shoes do we need?  Or shirts?  Or jeans?  Although I consider myself atypical of today's American woman, I know I have far more than I could ever need.  Because need really means enough to keep me shod and clothed throughout the week and only replace when an item wears out or no longer fits (for an adult, this last condition should never happen).          

Today I read a blog post by Abby Ellis about a medical team in Uganda that also brought used children's shoes to a village.  Once, when I heard about children in tropical climates who lack shoes, I was a bit puzzled.  Shoes are generally designed to protect feet and to keep them warm.  As a child of the US sunbelt, I shed my shoes whenever possible.  Running barefoot on grass and asphalt alike.  Then I read an article about parasites.  Parasites that enter one's body through the feet.  These parasites can cause serious illness, including organ damage and death.  And I understood the importance of shoes, especially to those in countries where sanitation is nonexistent.

As Abby points out, sending boxes of shoes overseas is not the answer to solving this medical crisis.  Doing so can put local cobblers out of business.  Also, due to my work in Haiti, I know how extremely expensive and impractical it is to ship used shoes and other items overseas.  However, looking at Abby's photos and narrative, it has me thinking about the dollars that are on my closet shelves and in my dresser drawers that could be better spent financing the purchase of shoes and clothing for those who truly have a need.  I wish I could remember this each time I approach a cash register with an article of clothing that I do not need.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Grilled steak
People often tell me it's too expensive to eat healthy.  Rory Freedman, author of the "Skinny Bitch" vegan books and cookbooks proved this wrong by purchasing a week's worth of vegan food on a California food stamp budget of $33.  She bought grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and condiments under this budget.  Although it isn't likely that any of her purchases were organic, the items she purchased are much healthier than a diet high in animal products. Animal products contain saturated fat and cholesterol which contribute to the epidemics of heart disease and obesity in America.   

The idea of not eating meat seems to confuse a lot of people.  Last night I was working with a group of women in our local jail.  Somehow the topic of food came up and several of the women were extremely puzzled when they learned I was a vegetarian.  They couldn't contain their curiosity and asked questions like "Do you eat fish?," "Can you eat a steak?," and "What do you eat on pizza?"  When I said I had been a vegetarian (this time) for over 10 years, they were flabbergasted.  Somehow they had the idea that one could not survive without eating some type of animal product.  However, when you look at the cost of meat and cheese (both dollar-wise and health-wise), it is much less costly to eat a meat-free (or low meat) diet.  Ten dollars spent on dried beans or frozen vegetables will stretch much farther than that same amount spent on beef or chicken.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mementos and Hoarding

Braided hair
A few months ago I wanted to donate to Locks of Love, an organization that provides human hair wigs to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.  Both of my children have donated hair to this worthy cause and I also wanted to donate.  In the end, I wasn't able to donate my hair since hair that has been chemically high lighted is not accepted.  However, it got me thinking about my first haircut.

I was in the second grade.  My father was old fashioned and didn't think his girls should have short hair.  However, after much pleading and begging, I convinced him to let me cut my hair like Twiggy, a very popular fashion model who had extremely short hair.  The result was a very stylish hairstyle and a long, braided piece of thick, healthy hair that traveled with me from childhood to adulthood.  After my failed attempt to donate my hair, I learned that old hair was acceptable to Locks of Love, as long as it met all the requirements.

So I ventured to the attic, looking for a box of childhood memories which I knew held that braid from that long ago haircut.  But I couldn't locate that box.  I looked in box after box, thinking that I had finally found what I was looking for.  I never did find it and I woke many nights wracking my brain trying to think of what could have become of all my childhood possessions.  I felt ill over the loss.  Then one day it occurred to me:  if I hadn't even thought about that box for years, how important was it to me?  My conclusion was:  not at all.

I'm not a very sentimental person when it comes to things.  Memories are wonderful to have but I've always been one to discard all but the most special items.  Of course, I do have baby books for both my children.  I've saved all of their report cards and lots of artwork.  I have one baby outfit for each of them.  And lots and lots of photos.  I save these things because I think it should be their decision as to what to do with them when they have a few years of life experience under their belts.  Personally, I like to keep most of my memories in my head.

This past week I spent cleaning out our condo in Tampa.  My husband has retired and we no longer need the place so I am preparing it to lease.  Things I had moved from our house to the condo almost 10 years ago ended up going to charity.  Several items I had saved because I thought I (or another family member) had sentimental attachment got donated.  As my vehicle had limited space for bringing things back to Virginia, I considered the true value of each object.  Almost all had no value to us but potential value for someone else.  I made several trips to a local thrift store, unloading item after item.  It was freeing as I realized much of what I felt was sentiment was really guilt.  Guilt because someone had made or bought something for us.  

Returning home, I now know I need to do another purge of my house.  So many things I hold onto really have no value to us yet take up space and energy.  As soon as I have time, I'm going to begin a room-by-room purge, where I consider the significance of each item in each room of my house.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Social Injustice Web

Shopper in the market 5
Today, as I think about where to go next with my series on social justice, I find myself overwhelmed.  Whenever I think about one small aspect about it, it is like a gigantic spider web; one thread is linked to the next and the next and the next.  It is seemingly impossible to pick just one thread and separate it from the rest.  Pick an industry, pick a product, pick a neighborhood, pick a country.  Social injustice is everywhere.  I think this series could go on forever.

This article in Mother Jones caught my eye last week.  Food.  It's a national obsession in the United States.  All you have to do is look around you (especially if you live in the South) and it's obvious that food plays a major part in our lives.  Rapidly expanding waistlines.  Chain restaurants.  Cooking programs (actually entire channels devoted to cooking).  Giant supermarkets.  And when I hear people complain about prices, food seems to be the number one thing they comment on.  Yet Americans spend a much smaller percentage on food than any other country.  According to this infographic and Heifer International's February issue of World Ark, Americans spend about 7 percent of their income on food.  Compare that with Azerbaijan where almost 50 percent of income is spent on food.  The French spend about 14 percent of their income on food.  

Despite the extreme affordability of food, the food industry is a $1.8 trillion dollar industry.  But the food industry has a dirty little secret. The vast majority of food workers don't even make a living wage.  The Mother Jones article points out that one-sixth of our work force are in food industry jobs.  Yet only about 14 percent of those people make more than 150 percent more than the poverty level.  To put it in perspective, rent on a two-bedroom apartment averages about $950 a month.  In order to afford such an apartment, one would need to make just over $18 an hour. An average food industry employee makes about half that amount.  

Not only are these people struggling to put food on their own tables, they often work under stressful and even dangerous conditions (think about working in a slaughterhouse with large animals and sharp instruments or routinely being exposed to pesticides in agricultural fields).  And the jobs usually come without any benefits.  So, if a food service worker misses a day of work due to illness or a doctor's appointment (or if he or she just needs a vacation), taking that time off (and paying for the medical care) puts them even further behind, making it even more difficult to pay for that two-bedroom apartment.  Even if you don't care about whether or not someone can afford their rent, consider this:  restaurant workers go to work sick because they cannot afford to take the time off (or to obtain proper medical care).  

In Harvest of Shame, a 1960 documentary that highlighted the plight of migrant workers in the US, journalist Edward R. Murrow closes with this thought:  "The migrants have no lobby.  Only an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion can do anything about the migrants.  The people you have seen have the strength to harvest your fruit and vegetables.  They do not have the strength to influence legislation.  Maybe we do.  Good night, and good luck."  This still applies today to all food workers.  

As we sit down to eat each day, social justice demands that we think about the hands that really did prepare our meals (or make it possible for us to prepare) and consider ways in which we are culpable in injustice - and then take steps to bring justice to the system.  When there is a boycott of food products, join it.  When farm workers or wait staff are fighting to unionize, call the company headquarters to let them know you support the workers.  World Watch Institute recommends targeting financial institutions that do business with the guilty corporations. Avoid eating at restaurants that Restaurant Opportunities Centers United lists as being among the worst restaurants to work for (their guide is here and an article summarizing it is here). Get creative and support justice.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"A bone to the dog is not charity.  Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog."
~Jack London

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Social Justice in America

Before looking at social injustice around the world, we can look in our own backyard.  Last September, the New York Times reported that over 15 percent of Americans, 46 million people, live below the poverty line. the highest number ever reported and the highest percentage since the mid 1990s.  That same month, CNN revealed that over 16 percent of Americans went without health insurance in 2010 - almost 50 million people.  Remember that some of these individuals are children under the age of 18.  More specifically, over 16 million children, 36 percent of the poor population (National Poverty Center).  And about 10 percent of minors lack any health insurance (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services).

Of those individuals experiencing poverty in the U.S., many find themselves homeless at one time or another.  According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, calculating the number of persons finding themselves homeless at any given time can be difficult.  However, utilizing various sources, the coalition estimates that as many as 3.5 million people may be homeless; 39 percent of these individuals are children.

As someone who is involved with overseas orphan care work, I am familiar with the various medical clinics that nonprofit organizations hold around the world.  When these clinics occur, people walk for miles and wait for hours for the opportunity to be seen by medical personnel as it is usually the only medical care they will receive.  It is heartbreaking and something I associate with third world nations.  Imagine my surprise when I found this exhibit by photographer Katie Falkenberg about similar clinics held in the U.S.  View the slideshow and read the captions, then tell me you're as shocked as I was.  

The United States is the richest nation that has ever existed but we cannot feed, house, and provide basic medical care for all of our citizens.   Yet as low income families struggle to put food on the table, self-storage facilities are booming because middle class Americans buy so many things they do not need or use and must find a place to put it all.  Does this seem right?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Farm Friday

I was looking at some old farm photos and ran across this one.  The big goat in the photo is our very first goat, Esmeralda (the one with an attitude and poor social skills).  Goat kids love to jump on their mothers and harass them, just like human kids, but they usually do it when the mother is lying on the ground.  However this kid, I think it's Norma Jean, wanted to go the extra mile when it came to bothering her mother.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Social Justice

According to the National Association of Social Workers, "social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities."  The Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice further defines it by stating, "Social justice embodies the vision of a society that is equitable and in which members are physically and psychologically safe.  Social justice also demands that all people have a right to basic human dignity and to have their basic economic needs met."  For me, social justice is something you notice when it's missing.  When one looks beyond the great American dream, there is poverty, hunger, squalor, exploitation, and environmental degradation.

Where do I begin?  American's make up less than 5 percent of the world's population, yet consumes 25 percent of the resources.  So the story begins with a very lopsided equation.  If we in the United States are maintaining our current lifestyle through the consumption of a large percentage of the world's resources, it follows that most of the rest of the world, the 95 percent plus living on 75 percent of the resources, is not doing so well.  Of course, it's even more lopsided than that.  The 25 percent of the resources being used in the United States is not evenly divided among the residents, nor is the remainder equally divided among the rest of the world.  Figures from the World Bank indicate that the world's richest 20 percent of the population consume almost 77 percent of the resources; those in the middle 60 percent consume almost 22 percent; and the world's poorest 20 percent consume less than 2 percent.

According to Global Issues, about 80 percent of the world's population lives on less than $10 a day.  About half of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day.  The World bank estimates that about 20 percent of the world lives on less than $1 a day.  The good news is that, the percentage of people living on less than $1 a day (defined as extreme poverty) has declined from about 45 percent in 1981 to 20 percent in 2008.  The bad news is billions of people still live in (and die from) poverty and extreme poverty.  The sad news is it doesn't have to be that way.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Looking at this chart, it's easy to see where we've gone wrong with our diets over the last 25 years and why we're seeing a rise in obesity and other health problems.  Read more about this shift in our diets over at Mother Jones.  This article also talks about how much cheaper meat is than in 1982 thanks to the cost-cutting, horrific practices of the meat industry.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yosemite Falls
"We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are."
~Madeleine L'Engle

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Wall

Brick Wall
Last night I had a revelation while reading Kathy Escobar's Down We Go:  Living into the Wild Ways of Jesus.  She discusses several phases of spiritual journey, especially the six primary ones, based on a book called The Critical Journey:  Stages in the Life of Faith.  The six primary stages are:  1) recognition of God; 2) life of discipleship; 3) the productive live; 4) the journey inward; 5) the journey outward; and 6) life of love.  In the first three stages, we discover God, learn about God, and then learn how to do things for God.  In the last three stages, individuals on a spiritual journey become more mature in that journey.  Mother Teresa is given as an example of one who has reached stage 6.

According to Escobar, an individual on a spiritual journey cannot skip over any of the phases; however, one does not have to progress beyond a certain stage.  In fact, most Americans Christians tend to get stuck around stages 2 or 3.  Escobar also talks about what happens after stage 3 and before stage 4.  We hit "the Wall."  This is a time when a person believes "there's got to be more" and the phase is characterized by "confusion, fear, loneliness, ambivalence, [and] resentment."

Bingo.  That's where I've been.  Earlier this year I said I would talk more about the Quaker testimony, which includes simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality.  I've been posting a lot about sustainable living as part of my testimony.  Now I will be turning towards another issue that connects with it:  social justice.  

Hitting the Wall has been painful, but also has inspired me to work on social justice issues.  A big part of my getting to this point is the fact that I was not raised in church, just with an awareness of Christianity.  As a result, when I decided to take seriously what it means to be a Christian and to follow the teachings of Jesus, I often felt out of place in church.  Not having been raised in the institution, I was often puzzled by the rituals and the language and by the contradictions.  There have been times when I've been talking to a fellow Christian and realized I had no earthly idea what they were talking about.  One incident really stands out.  I met a woman through the homeschool group who talked to me about son's potentially having a learning disorder.  But then she abruptly said, "I'm not going to claim it," and proceeded to tell me she wasn't going to do anything about it.  Huh?  What was she talking about?  Does "not claiming" it have something to do with Christianity?  Am I missing something?  All I could think was, would she be saying the same thing if she suspected her son had a physical disease, say, like cancer?  

There's a lot of other Christian-ese that I won't go into - mainly because I can't speak the language.  (Not speaking the language often makes me look like an impostor.)  All along, I thought being a Christian meant following Jesus and doing what he said to do.  Things like loving my enemy (not ever easy); caring for the poor, the orphaned, the widowed (and other people down on their luck); and turning the other cheek (non-violence).  So imagine how puzzled I've been over the years as I tried to do those things and realized many in the church are not really concerned about those things.  It's all about church programs and celebrations and your prayer life and your personal relationship with Jesus.  Oh, and pointing out other people's sin.

If I had grown up in the culture, I wouldn't notice these things.  It would be like a fish having an awareness of the surrounding water.  But it has been a different journey for me so it's not invisible to me.  I also think that many people who come to the Christian faith as adults come from very broken places - addiction, divorce, abuse, poverty - and grab onto the language and the culture like a lifeboat.   But that wasn't the case for me.  It was just a gradual awareness.  

So over the last few years, I've been at the Wall.  Sometimes I get past it and sometimes I back away from it.  But it's there and I keep running into it.  The biggest issue that returns me to the wall over and over again is social justice.  There is so much wrong with the world and I feel that American Christians, for the most part, turn a blind eye to it because recognizing it would require a change in heart and lifestyle.  

I know I've become overly serious but I think about times when our nation has faced tough issues, such as the Civil War, the Depression, World War II, and 9/11, I know there was not the gaiety and frivolity that I witness.  It's as if we only need to be serious and somber when the ugliness affects us on our shores. 

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be blogging about injustice in the world, trying to bring awareness to the fact that most of the people in the world do not live like we do and, in fact, suffer a great deal - sometimes as a result of our actions.  After a recent discussion about a social justice issue, I discovered that sometimes it's not a matter of people putting their heads in the sand.  Rather, some people truly aren't aware of what is going on outside our borders (or even in them) and have no idea how to dig deeper and learn more.  I hope my future posts help enlighten some and spur many to take up a cause.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Farm Friday

Photo by Bill
We've been having groundhog problems lately.  In fact, a groundhog ate the tops off of three rows of young cucumber plants in the garden.  Bill set a trap for it.  The first night, the bait was taken but the trap wasn't sprung.  So the second night, he pushed the bait further back in the trap.  Yesterday morning, this is what greeted us.  Poor little fox!  Since the fox hasn't been poaching our chickens (foxes hunt at night and our chickens are safely locked up in their coop by then), Bill turned it loose.  Later that morning, I saw it dashing across a field near the road.  We don't kill animals randomly as we try to be good stewards of the earth.  Only when we know an animal is doing damage to our farm or is a threat to our farm animals do we take such drastic measures.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sustainable Living Wrap Up

I'm wrapping up my sustainable living series.  Going to Haiti and finishing my degree sidetracked me a bit on this project.  I had planned on posts in this series, but it's time to move on.  I had a good number of postings on the topic, some hits (toothpaste, soap nuts soap) that are a part of my daily life and some misses (liquid hand soap was too thin, homemade lotion was too thick) that I will have to revamp and revisit.  Overall, I think I shared a lot of information that can help readers who want to lead a more sustainable life.  This doesn't mean I won't be sharing more tips in the future - I do have a few more up my sleeve - but I'm not going to do it as a regular feature.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Teteros 02

Most people are now aware of the dangers of BPA (bisphenol A) plastics and look for products that say they are BPA-free.  Mothers have become especially cautious when purchasing baby bottles and sippy cups.  However, turns out manufacturers who promote products that are BPA-free have actually switched to another bisphenol plastic that is also toxic - bisphenol S. In fact, BPS may even be worse than BPA for our health and the environment.  Learn more here

Monday, June 4, 2012

False Love

Melon-Loving Girl
Christians have been making a lot of headlines lately due to the LBGT issue.  North Carolina recently passed Amendment 1 which, although already illegal in that state, amended the state constitution to prohibit same sex marriage.  (I guess some of the voters wanted to rub salt into the wound.)  Churches that were polling places came close to crossing a legal line by putting statements on their marques that implied their support of the amendment.  Many churches and Christians supported their stance by saying they needed to "stand up for marriage," as if someone else's marital decisions had some influence on their own.  (Maybe because with Christian divorce rates as high as everyone else's, they need a scapegoat.)

Around that same time, a pastor in Maiden, North Carolina, stirred up controversy with this sermon:

Recently, a video surfaced from a church in Indiana that featured a toddler singing (and receiving encouragement for singing) an anti-gay song:

As a Christian, I often hear other Christians discussing homosexuality and the Bible.  Over and over again I hear things like, "Love the sinner, hate the sin."  If one considers sexual attraction to a person of the same sex to be a sinful and destructive lifestyle choice, then how should loving the sinner look?  For me, if someone I loved was engaging in behavior that I thought was abhorrent and harmful, such as methamphetamine use, I would behave much differently than these so-called loving Christians.  I would be tearfully pleading with them to seek help.  However, what I see in these two videos (and in other examples I've witnessed) is hate.  If you care about someone, you don't mock them; you don't gleefully say they're going to hell; you don't have children point fingers at them.  Can you imagine someone singing "Ain't no addict gonna make it to heaven"?  No.  Instead you would open your arms to them, tell them how much you love them, and that you're there for them.  It doesn't get any more hateful than what these people are doing.

In some Christian circles, where people consider themselves "progressive," I hear them say that yes, science shows biological proof that sexual orientation is something we are born with, and therefore God made some people gay and some straight.  However, these same individuals condemn the "lifestyle," saying that one can be attracted to others of the same sex, but they just cannot pursue those relationships and must remain celibate. This is interesting since Christians, especially the fundamentalists and evangelicals, seem to race to the alter, marrying much earlier than the general population in order to avoid the sin of fornication.  So the church is saying that heterosexuals need to marry when they are tempted because they don't have enough willpower to refrain from sexual relationships outside of marriage.  However, they expect homosexuals to do that for a lifetime.  Does that make any sense?  Also, if God gave people their orientation, why are they not allowed to act on it and enter into lifelong loving relationships?  

I also wonder about the microscopic lens that is turned on the few passages that may or may not condemn same sex attraction.  One passage is found in Leviticus 18.  However, the previous chapter says anyone who eats an animal's blood should be cut off from community and the next chapter says it is sinful to wear clothing made of two different types of material.  For some reason, these laws are completely disregarded by Christians.  I don't hear any singing or sermons condemning someone for eating a rare, bloody hamburger or for wearing a polyester/cotton blend shirt.  Alternatively, there is a passage in Genesis 19 where some men wanted to have sex with two angels disguised as men.  This passage is also used justify that same sex attraction is sinful.  However, it is interesting to note that the story unfolds to a point where it is perfectly acceptable to offer one's daughters to be raped by strangers as an alternative to this situation.  Funny how we don't hear about that in church - offering one's daughters (outside of marriage, I might add) to men who are tempted by the homosexual "lifestyle."  Further, when you get into the New Testament passages, some scholars explain that the the Greek word that has been translated "homosexual" doesn't have such a clear meaning and it may actually refer to male prostitutes.

Personally, I'm tired of people expressing hate but calling it love.  I'm tired of telling people I'm a Christian but having to further define myself by adding that I'm not one of "those" Christians.  Anyone who is a Christian must exhibit the "fruits of the spirit" which are listed in Galatians 5:22:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  It's interesting that the previous passages say that "the acts of the flesh" include hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy, and will keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God.  Watching those two videos, I'm seeing behavior that is contrary to the fruits of the spirit but fits in real well with acts of the flesh.  "Those" Christians are not loving - and they aren't really Christians

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Quote for the Day

Paper Map 1

"We have ravished our earth and then used the food that we've sourced to handicap ourselves in more ways than one." 

~Barton Seaver

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

The title of this post is the name of a documentary that is slowing being released across the United States.  Unfortunately, it appears it won't be making its way in my direction so I will have to reserve it in my Netflix cue and hope it gets released to DVD soon.  The documentary tells a brave story, one that many are hesitant to tell, but it's important that we look behind the curtain.  

Pink ribbons.  We see them everywhere and are told they are part of the search for the cure.  But are they really?  It's politically incorrect to even question those ribbons.  Questioning the ribbons is almost like questioning breast cancer survivors as the two have become so entwined.  However, for a while now, I've questioned the story behind the ribbons and the documentary seems to be confirming my suspicions.  

Pink ribbons don't cure anything.  Using them to create "awareness" is meaningless.  All they do is create more profits for companies whose products sport them.  And, as this article from Salon points out, the funding that actually does go to find the "cure" supports the status quo of treatments, treatments that aren't really cures but are programs that bolster profits of pharmaceutical and other medical treatment businesses.  (For those of you who might think I'm being callous, ALL of my biological aunts have had breast cancer, I lost a dear friend - who was technically a "success" as she survived past her 5 years - to the disease, and an old friend of mine underwent a double mastectomy several years ago.)

In order to find a cure, there must be an understanding of the cause.  When companies that sell products under the banner of the pink ribbon include, in those very same products, chemicals that are known carcinogens, there seems to be a terrible conflict of interest.  

The Salon article links to an article by well-known social justice author and breast cancer survivor Barbara Ehrenreich.  In this article Barbara reinforces my identity as a feminist when she states, "the feminists want a cure, but they even more ardently demand to know the cause or causes of the disease without which we will never have any means of prevention."  She continues:  "suspicion should focus on environmental carcinogens, the feminists argue, such as plastics, pesticides...and the industrial runoff in our ground water.  No carcinogen has been linked definitely to human breast cancer yet, but many have been found to cause the disease in mice, and the inexorable increase of the disease in industrialized nations."  Isn't prevention so much better than finding a "cure" through new expensive and toxic treatments that increase the profits of large corporations?

Why do individuals not realize that buying things isn't activism?  And it's definitely not a cure.    Read Ehrenreich's article and watch the movie trailer.  Then tell me what you think:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Farm Friday

Fresh Garlic 1
Today's Farm Friday is about an event that I didn't participate in.  It was "garlic day," the day when Bill digs up the garlic that he planted several months ago.  Garlic day can be pretty labor intensive as the garlic must be dug up and then hand tied to some type of panel (Bill uses cattle panels) for curing.  The garlic is tied up by the green tops and then left in a sheltered spot with lots of air circulating (box fans help with this during the day) to help dry out the garlic heads.  If the garlic isn't properly dried, it will go bad.  

Garlic is actually pretty easy to grow and requires a minimal investment.  You can plant garlic from the garlic heads purchased in the grocery store or, better yet, you can purchase specialty garlic which has richer flavor.  Once a purchase is made, you don't need to buy more for planting in subsequent years, unless you want to try new varieties.  You just take garlic heads from a previous crop, break it into the individual cloves, and plant the cloves, rounded end down (that's the end that had the roots) straight into the ground.  Of course, you have to make sure the cloves get adequate water during the growing season and you need to weed regularly to keep the weeds from overtaking the garlic and from consuming the soil nutrients that the garlic needs.  But a little work gives great benefits.