Monday, July 14, 2014

DEAR MR. MODERATOR

I tried sending this letter to Mr. Heath Rada, Moderator of the PCUSA, today. The regular e-mail for him didn't work, so I posted it as a comment on his website.  Just in case, I'll add it here as well,

Dear Mr. Rada,

I used to be a Presbyterian. I was a member of the PCUSA for several years.  My son and I left the PCUSA church because of, among other reasons, the placing of priority on raising millions of dollars for fancy buildings while cutting mission to almost nothing, plus attitudes of social superiority that indicated we were not as important as other members because we had less money and "status" in the local community. 

While I do miss regularly seeing my friends there, who are indeed good folks, my son and I do not miss the hypocrisy of listening to sermons with tears on cue asking for more building campaign money from pastors earning six figure salaries. 

The PCUSA's recent vote to divest money from companies whose products are sold to the Israeli government cements our conviction that our "divestment" of the PCUSA and organized religion in general was correct. (It seems the Methodists will soon be joining the PCUSA in the support of Hamas)

I write to you today because I do know that there are still good people associated with the PCUSA. And I would hope that, as moderator, you have to be concerned about losing more members and, what has to have been stated by more than me, the perceived movement of the church away from resembling anything Jesus taught. Fortunately we've discovered, out here among the heathens, that there are more righteous people who are "unchurched."

Dennis Prager created a simple to understand video of the Israeli-Middle East conflict in terms of history and their position today. The link is: http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/the-most-important-video-about-israel-ever-made

This explains clearly Israel's current position. They are surrounded by countries that want them dead and Israel gone. No peace. No compromise. These are terrorist organizations that will not negotiate and will not stop under any circumstances other than the extermination of all Jews. Hitler's goal as well in WWII. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4298/hamas-abbas-jihad


Israel has had no choice but to defend itself. This has always been the case. Today is no different than when the PCUSA originally poured the 20 plus million dollars from its money changing table to HP, Motorola and Caterpillar. 

Israel has stated it wants to live peacefully with and is willing to cooperate with and support a Palestinian state. Palestine claims that nothing less than a one state solution is acceptable. And that Israel must be destroyed. How do you suggest they deal with this, while the suicide bombers and rockets keep coming and keep coming?

Hamas has taken to hiding rockets and weapons inside Mosques and schools in Gaza. There is talk in the news this week that Hamas is doing this with the specific intent of increasing the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza as an effort to garner more sympathy in the press from Western and European countries. Still, having to defend itself, the Israeli military have repeatedly warned Gaza residents ahead of time when they will strike. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/israel-drops-leaflets-warning-northern-gaza-airstrikes-n154571

PCUSA commissioners were offered a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss its concerns and point of view. That they rejected this clearly shows that the PCUSA has no faith in itself as a relevant religious entity and, further, has a closed heart to Israel and its point of view. 

For the PCUSA to withdraw support from Israel by way of divestment (and, please, claims of it not being that much money is disingenuous and a demonstration of moral weakness), is tantamount to supporting Hamas and it's stated intention of jihad and obliteration of Jews and Israel. 

To claim that you still love and support your Jewish brothers and sisters is hogwash. Unless you come forward and finally once and for all admit that the PCUSA no longer subscribes to the tenets of the gospels, and has entered into the political arena by tacitly taking the other side, while practicing a religion of judgmental self interest.

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever doesn't gather with me, scatters." Matthew 12:30 is very clear. The PCUSA, in an era of exponential population growth, has lost over 20% of members since 2000, while claiming that it's all right since giving is way up. Yay for money! This indicates that the scattering of sheep bodies is A-OK with the the PCUSA. Apparently Luke 15 no longer applies as well. 

I left a church for whom political correctness was more important than helping people for fear of being "sued." And you claim to follow a savior for whom crucifixion's penalty never once trumped the soul of any one of us. 

I don't think so.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

CHANGE THE MASCOT

Earlier this year, the Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of the American Indian, began a campaign to remove the use of the term "redskins" from the public discourse. Specifically from the culturally pervasive arena of sports.

In June the movement Change the Mascot was begun to persuade the Washington Redskins to change their mascot and logo from the racist and destructive use of the word "Redskins."

This is not a new struggle for native Americans. Over recent years they have been gathering a substantial "war council", if you will, of human rights organizations and political figures. Read the articles on the website. They've been working hard to help enlighten we conquering hordes.

I have become more aware of the plight of native Americans after the creation of "Proud To Be", a commercial produced and paid for by the Yocha Dehe Nation that was aired in seven major markets during the NBA Championship game this summer.




I am honored to know Marshall McKay, the Executive Chairman of the Yocha Dehe. When I congratulated him on this commercial, I was surprised to learn that I had no idea what the term "Redskins" really signified. I've since googled the many interpretations of the history of the word and it's usage. After hearing Marshall's explanation and reading the various google versions of the word and it's etiology, I am persuaded that there is really just one definition of this horrific term and that is:

The bloodied scalp or mutilated corpse of a native American brought in by bounty hunters to a government office for money.

And a multi-million dollar earning sports franchise is touting this as their logo and mascot.

Now that I am aware of this, I find it disgusting. And hateful.

Marshall is correct. We need to move away from hate speech.

It will help if we can remember the true history of this country and the reasons our native American neighbors have come to us with this request for respect and decency.

The Manataka American Indian Council has written a concise history of the arrival of the Pilgrims to what is now our United States. This history tells a far different story than the folkloric mythology of Thanksgiving as taught to our children in school. It wasn't at all the idyllic feast of turkey, corn bread and apple pie, with singing and dancing and the native Americans and Pilgrims being ever so happy together. It involved, among other devious and murderous things, a soccer game using decapitated Indian heads as the balls.

When my own son was six, I purchased the book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" and read the true history of Thanksgiving to him. When I did this, I also told him that what he was learning in school is also fine, because it is the ideal we need to work toward now and in the future. I told him that school was teaching him the hope for us to be better. But he should never forget the truth of what happened.

I believe that right now is the time we should live up to this.

The founders of this country were refugees. They were illegal immigrants. They climbed onto this land carrying diseases that the native Americans had no immunity to. After being decimated by the smallpox and influenza, many were then herded and shipped back to England as slaves. The rest were murdered and hunted. Women and children were trapped in their homes and burned to death. Bounties were set for the collection of bloody scalps and mutilated bodies (redskins).

Of course they fought back as best they could. They were marked for extinction by a conquering invader who stole their crops, claimed ownership of their home and decided they were godless heathens who were of lesser entitlement to existence than their holy Pilgrim selves. But, as history has it correctly, the native Americans lost. Though we were kind enough to give what was left of the tribes the worst real estate we could find for their reservations and allowed them sovereignty to fend for themselves. Then we wiped our hands, turned our backs and left them alone.

Until...

Some of the tribes have managed, over the years, to create great wealth. Some through their art and farm products. But mostly through the creation of casinos where wealthy descendants of the conquering invaders can come and spend money. Some tribes have been so successful that there is now a conflict over the issue of collecting state taxes on the gaming revenues. Because how dare they do well, when we finally managed to put them under thumb with such satisfying finality? They do pay federal taxes, because the United States government has an obligation to protect them and provide certain federal benefits. Though they have no representation in our congress or senate. Now we want to tax them on a state basis, even though we provide no services to them whatsoever at that level.

Once a conquering invader, always a conquering invader.

This is the time that we must finally look at the history as it really happened. It's time to move past that and respect our indigenous neighbors and give them the respect they deserve as human beings and fellow citizens of our larger world. At the very least.

It's time to stop the hate speech for starters.

It starts with you and me.

Change the Mascot.

Monday, June 30, 2014

CAUGHT WITH ITS PAMPHLETS DOWN

Last week I wrote about the PCUSA's divestment of Motorola, Caterpillar and Hewlitt Packard in a protest against Israel. While some will claim it was merely a statement against Israel's incursions into the occupied territory and their actions viewed as hostile to Palestine, I personally believe the basis of the divestment had a broader base.

This week, my belief was given support when the PCUSA removed the pamphlet "Zionism Unsettled", which has been distributed to all PCUSA churches since January of this year.

The pamphlet is published by an organization called the Israel-Palestine Mission Network. Despite claims that it has nothing to do with the BDS movement (a Palestinian organization), it appears this was not entirely truthful, as the IPMN works very closely with the BDS movement.

The IPMN supports a one nation solution. Israel is not the nation they include in their one nation.

The IPMN is a Presbyterian Mission Network, funded by the Presbyterian church.

Palestine is run by Hamas, a terrorist organization, who has stated:

“This way (in which the dead terrorists acted) sends a message to the Zionists, according to which they have no place in the land of Palestine,” said Al-Khiya, who threatened, “We shall expel you from our land, we will fight on it against you, and we will either kill you or expel you from it after you surrender.”
Al-Khiya praised the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria, calling on Palestinian Authority Arabs in the region to “continue the path of Jihad.”
He stressed that the jihad is the way to achieve victory. The event was attended by top officials in Hamas, including the deputy head of its political bureau and Hamas’s Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh."Israel Nation News

In connecting the dots here, it appears that the PCUSA supports Hamas intention to "continue the path of Jihad," and kill all Zionist Israelis. 

But not "officially," because they pulled the pamphlets. 

After this and divestment, they will need something else to cover their ass-ets. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

BUT I DIVEST

At this year's General Assembly the PCUSA voted to divest financial investments in Hewlett Packard Motorola and Caterpillar, because they supply products to Israel that Israel, in part, uses in occupied Palestine.

The vote is a result of ten years of PCUSA's BDS supportive push to remove support from Israel. Though they vehemently deny any affiliation with the BDS movement. There are those who argue that the protest is solely over Israel's dispute with Palestine over the occupied territory, and that, of course, PCUSA still supports Israel as a nation. And of course they still love the Israeli people to pieces, just like always. But, I divest.

The move of the Israeli government to a more conservative and radical incursion into the contested territory has caused a polar shift in our country's political parties position on this issue. There is no argument that Israel has become more militant and aggressive in its actions against the Palestinians. But our government is working hard to help sort this out. I cannot believe that the PCUSA has more information than the U.S. government for forming an all encompassing judgement for withdrawal. I find this a specious judgement at best.

There should also be no argument that Israel is surrounded by neighbors who vow to destroy and annihilate the state and people of Israel. They have been living under these threats for decades, during which time the United States has remained Israel's ally and supporter.

This is a long standing dispute that continues to heat up. Our country has been working very hard to facilitate a peace accord. It's a nasty gordian knot of issues that has valid points on both sides. But I divest.

This is about the church. The PCUSA for starters, because apparently the Methodists are planning a similar action.

I disagree that Jesus' mission on earth was a political mission. I don't see how his focus was to interfere with Rome's occupation of Israel and its harsh treatment of the Jewish people. I believe he was a peaceful revolutionary in his exhortations to people to love each other and love God, and to help the poor and suffering. Certainly those around him turned his words into political fodder, but when held to account, Jesus did not. He stayed on message. I'm not going to play dueling scripture quotes on this. I'm just stating my simplistic view.  From what I observe here, it seems that Jesus has nothing to do with any of this current decision. But, I divest.

I've read some articles that state the divestment is monetarily insignificant. I've read that the divestment is more a moral protest than anything else. I've read statements that claim this divestment isn't going to make any difference at all on the conflict.  What I haven't been able to find is the justification that has transformed a religious body into a political governing body and the scriptural basis to support condemning Israel by taking its Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlitt Packard money changing table out of the temple.

The disingenuousness of claiming to hold the nation of Israel and its people in loving regard, after essentially calling them out as bullies, is sickening to me.  Have they examined all their investments to see what companies are aiding Palestine, who as bullies go, have made worse threats against Israel? Can we hear about that? This would include investments that go into products that go to all the nations that supply Palestine with guns, ammo, explosives and any other materials that end up in Israeli killing weapons. Did they look at that?

Baptist Press quotes:
 "PCUSA moderator Heath Rada said, "In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for Jewish sisters and brothers."

....how to have your cake and eat it too.

And they were doing so well, voting to allow Presbyterian ministers to perform gay weddings in states where gay marriage is legal. 

It's things like this divestment on a global scale, taken to a micro scale in my former church where the pastor cried on cue during three services that he wasn't getting enough money from the congregation for his 22 million dollar legacy building renovation,  after cutting the required percentage giving of donations to Presbytery mission, so they could have a copper roof, that sent my son and I on the path away from organized religion.

I have to ask,

~How can you say you love a nation of people after making a judgment that withdraws support from their physical survival? Granted, there are grounds to call Israel's current push in the occupied territory extreme. But this divestment essentially uses the PCUSA's middle finger to slam the door on Israel, in a moral statement-y way. Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, offered to set up a meeting between PCUSA leaders and Prime Minister Netanyahu and was rejected by PCUSA commissioners. So much for having faith, much less an open heart.

~How can you single out this one political hotbed and not others like Rwanda, Nigeria, Afghanistan, North Korea, Morocco, Iraq, and Syria for example, where thousands are dying daily over property line disputes just as heated? The PCUSA's investments are trickling into these areas, I'm sure, since they use big banks to channel their money. In fact, considering the trickle down benefits of all PCUSA investments, if they are going to be consistent, they need to take all their money out of the bank and broker's houses and stuff it into the GA's mattress. 

~Which brings me to the PCUSA having millions of dollars invested. Shouldn't this money be going to organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders or World Vision, or even the loans to third world entrepreneurs rather than risky stocks? Well, maybe the moneychanger tables have just gotten way too big for Jesus to overturn. Yeah. That must be it. 

But, I divest.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

NOW YOU SEE ME.....A BIT MORE

I've been dieting. For about a month now.

I don't get on scales when I diet, because I lose weight ridiculously slowly. My thyroid has always been a problem. I have "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis," which is an autoimmune disease where your immune system believes your thyroid to be a tumor and gets busy destroying it and your metabolism as well.

In my thirties, to lose weight I would have to exercise daily and consume no more than 900 calories. At 1200 to 1500 calories I maintain my weight. Above that and I will gain two pounds a week.

Until now.

I have been dieting. For about a month now. To lose the layer of fat around my middle that is an unhealthy threat to my heart, not to mention remarkably unattractive.

This motivation has been spurred by my sweetie having to lose weight to avoid a pre-diabetic diagnosis. I challenged him to a race, touting how I would "leave him in the dust!" Because I am wicked competitive. It's worked. He's shrinking like plastic wrap in the oven. Thank goodness.

I have been dieting. Here's what I eat:  Oatmeal in the morning: small bowl with nuts and blueberries, a little splash of agave and nonfat milk. Snack at 10: a tiny single serving of hummus or applesauce. Lunch is protein: hamburger patty or three meatballs or a can of tuna. Snack afternoon: hardboiled egg or see Snack at 10. Dinner: Can of soup not over 200 calories, or veggies or a salad. For over a month now.

In the past few weeks I've experienced some kind of shoulder injury. I went to the doc today for a physical to generally check out my health and see about my shoulder. Turns out I've got an injury to my rotator cuff and will have to keep it still awhile. Good to know. Then the exciting part.

I was also so looking forward to getting on my old nemesis - the scale - and rock the slidy bitch down a few notches.

I've gained 3 pounds.

Did I mention I've been dieting?

Not me:


P.S. Blood tests have been ordered. The doctor is as mystified as I am, though he suspects my thyroid has moved further south. Duh. Meanwhile, I could eat my arm.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

THE FIREWORKS OF DAILY LIFE

This week's writing prompt is

spec·tac·u·lar  (spĕk-tăk′yə-lər)
adj.
Of the nature of a spectacle; impressive or sensational.
n.
Something that is spectacular, as:
a. A single dramatic production of unusual length or lavishness.
b. An elaborate display.



I dare to apply this word to myself and my family and friends. Because we are single dramatic productions of elaborate displays of unusual lavishness. The length is to be determined, because we're still above ground and dressed. Mostly.

Do you think of yourself as "*S*P*E*C*T*A*C*U*L*A*R*?" You should. Even if just for the biological miracle that is you -

For example, our brains! Even if you are the messiest, most disorganized slob in the world, your brain is still organized better than if Martha Stuart possessed you -





That's pretty spectacular, if you ask me. There's a giant play going on inside your skull right now! A "single dramatic production of unusual length or lavishness." At least, I'd say, it's very lavish in my brain. Ask my family.

Just being able to walk one step requires more instantaneous neurological functions than we will ever consciously complete in one lifetime.

Our hearts beat without our having to think about it. We process food, even if it is disgusting poison, like processed cheese product, and discard the waste without having to do much besides buy toilet paper and find a toilet.

Physically, we're pretty damned spectacular.

The rest, what we do on the outside, is gravy, as far as the universe is concerned.

For us, culturally, there is a contrived pecking order for the spectacular. We all know this. Our species "tribe" determines who's cool, who's not, what's cool, what's not, depending on our group. Then there are the strange combinations of "spectacular" depending on your blend of political persuasion, religious preference and sexual deviations - to name a few.

Well, I for one say posh and bother! Fie on these societal shibboleths! According to them I am a strange, eccentric person of dubious morals who often demonstrates a lack of societal decency coupled with significant intelligence and sharp-edged wit, even though conservatively dressed, and, for legal reasons, relatively well behaved.

That's rubbish. I am *S*P*E*C*T*A*C*U*L*A*R* for all those very reasons and more. So are you. So is everyone around us.

I have spectacular dreams, with long stories, great characters and magnificent special effects. I can look at a wickedly difficult situation and figure a way out, without much injury. This came from years of training with untying impossible knots in jewelry and shoelaces. I can make up a poem *just*like*THAT!!* given any subject whatsoever. I helped to make an awesome child and then have had the extraordinary privilege of helping raise this child into a spectacular adult all his own! I love passionately and am loyal to a fault (usually my own). I cook a mean chili and bake like a sugar goddess.

Well, the list goes on and on.

Here's my point:

If I am this spectacular, then so are you. So are we all.

I want a world where we can all rise from sleep and enter our days with eyes eager to drink in the spectacular goodness of everyone around us. Yep. That's what I want. Don't tell me "no!" Don't give me a list of negative, destructive reasons why this can never be. That's evil and that's bullshit. We can have what we want and if we want evil and bullshit, well then that's what we're going to get.

Life is a fireworks show of spectacularly elaborate display. Either way it is going to burn us all up in the end. That's the spectacular nature of the universe. Whether the burn will be up in flames to dead ash or up in fireworks to new and even more wondrous universes, well that, babies, is up to us.

Peace, out.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SELFIE OFF THE SHELFIE


This is my today selfie. I just took it. It is un-retouched. It took a second to take.

Recently I spent money on some surgical improvements. Back in August I face planted into the street and broke my nose.

Here is my selfie after this incident.


Note the upper angle and that I stretch my chin out. This pulls the jowls and beginning wattle out of the way. It took twenty minutes to get a selfie I was happy with. 

I still have a scar on my nose from this accident. I like it. It's a life tattoo, reminding me that I can fly. Just for a moment, before flying lands me face down on terra firma. 

Several important things occurred after this accident. First, I had to decide how to fix my nose. I wasn't breathing well and after a month, I was getting bad headaches every day. 

Then I looked more closely into the mirror and saw that, once again, after ten years had passed since my first plastic surgery, my flesh was again melting off of my face. 

I am the progeny of a drop dead, people stop in their tracks to stare open-mouthed, gorgeous mother. Here is what she looked like in her twenties:


As a young girl I would watch my mother sit at her makeup table, that had been lovingly provided and set up with perfect lighting by my father, and carefully apply her "face", every single day. She would talk to me as she carefully painted. "Your appearance is EVERYTHING. Without your looks, you are NOTHING," and, "the most important thing you can do is to be beautiful EVERY DAY." Of course, I was indoctrinated into the cult of cosmetic beauty at a very early age. I was astonished and surprised when my mother was furious at my applying all her cosmetics onto my face when I was four years old. I had thought I was just following instructions. And I thought I had done a great job! Her high heels were the finishing touch. This would have been my first "selfie" if iPhones had been around with their crafty cameras. 

Jump cut to ten years ago. I was an older mom. I had my son at age 45. I was painfully aware of being the same age as his playmates' grandparents. I sought out everyone I could who was an adult child of much older parents and asked them all the same question. "Were you embarrassed by your parents' age?" Every single one of them, and these were kind and decent people, nodded yes and said they were ashamed it was true, but true it was. They described painful passages of their youth and upbringing. All descriptions were similar. Well, yikes. I did not want to do this. Nope. Nuh uh.

When my son, Ben, was only four, he stopped splashing in his tub one day and turned to me, thoughtfully. He cocked his adorable blonde head and said "Mom? I really don't want to hurt your feelings, but can I tell you something?" I said "Of course, son. Anything." He said, kindly, "You have a really old face." I was caught short for a moment. But not surprised. I had done my research for this very moment. I just didn't expect it when he was only four. I asked, "Does it bother you?" He nodded and, with a sad smile, said "Yes." I pulled my skin back off the bones of my face and asked "What if I could do this?" His face lit up like the Fourth of July and he asked, "Could you?????" I said "Of course."

The next day I started looking up plastic surgeons. I met with only three. I picked the third because his photo book, in addition to being substantial, was filled with people who looked refreshed and renewed, and not at all "surgeried." Here is my before and after from 10 years ago:


Just in case you can't tell (ha ha), the photo on the left is the "before." You can see from the "before" photo on the left that I had skipped my mother altogether and went straight to my grandmother.

Cut to 10 years later. I have the broken nose. My jaw has disappeared, yet again, under a melting sea of white, doughy flesh. Much like a wax figure standing too long in the sun. I looked at my mother, who had eschewed plastic surgery when offered back in the day (she believed it to be temporary and costing far too much).  She has a full set of draperies hanging from her chin. Don't get me wrong. She is, even with the melted flesh, still beautiful. But I know that, looking more like my father than my mother except for the excess flesh, this will not be true in my case. I was on a downhill slide to being the twin of a giant turkey. 

Having gone through an extremely difficult decade that included a divorce, lawsuits and criminal neighbors, I was pretty beat up all around. I was determined to pull myself up by the bootstraps. 

There's more that was going on here, but I don't want to turn this into a 12 chapter tome. Today. 

The inner dialogue begins - 
"I'm going to be out anyway while the doctor fixes my nose...."
"If you amortize the cost of surgery over the next twenty years, it amounts to less than the beauty products I won't be buying....."
"But it's sooooo expensive......"
"If I look fresher, I'm more likely to find more work....."

All of which is crap when you come right down to it. I needed a better looking selfie. A younger looking selfie. And it mattered not how selfish this selfie might seem to other people. It connected to the core of how I perceive myself and how I need to perceive myself. Hardwiring, baby cakes. It's who we are. I needed to be able to walk by a mirror and not flinch or wonder who the old broad is. How I felt on the inside did not at all match how I looked on the outside. I needed a new suit. Or at least a dry cleaning of my current skin suit.

The irony is that before the surgery I cared very much how I looked each day and spent a lot of time in front of the mirror. Now, after, I don't much think about it and am out in 10 minutes. If that.

I don't have my before and afters from this surgery, but I'm sure they will be as remarkable as the ones ten years ago, 

Selfies? Don't bother me none. I'll take one any time, any day. With or without makeup. But only if I have to and it only takes a second, 'cause there's too much other stuff to do. 

Peace out.