March 23, 2013

Why I Bother

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:26 am by openendedcomment

I’ve gotten a few messages this week asking why I feel the need to write about controversial issues.  The simple answer is because I have to, that’s why.

Allow me to explain.  If I had lived 160 years ago, I’d have written and spoken to whomever I could about the need to abolish slavery.  If it had been 100 years ago I would have likely been called a suffragist.  Put me in Germany in the late twenties and early thirties and I would have decried the prejudice and hate that permeated a country and almost took down a continent…the same hate that murdered millions.  In the sixties in America I’d have written to my local paper and pleaded the injustice of segregation and racial prejudice.  At least I’d like to think I would.  I have to believe I could.  I cannot for a moment allow myself to believe that in any of these circumstances I could have sat idly by, waiting for the world to work itself out.  The only way for me to know that I would have made those decisions, controversial in their time and right through my eyes and those of history, is to do what is right today, to stand up to the prejudice, hatred, fear and the violation of the rights of other people.

I do know that in the grand scheme of things my little blog and my comments to papers and friends are rather inconsequential.

But…and this is why I persist…a great man said that one man (or woman) can change the world.  While I am certainly not in the world-changer league, a few thousand or hundred thousand men and women like me reaching a few hundred more, day after day…that is not inconsequential.  I am a very small part of a very large group.   I can do is this, and so I have to do this.  I do it for every family that is devalued under our current laws.  I do it for every woman who has lived in fear.  I do it for each person who struggles and every heart that has broken because of another’s beliefs.  I do it because I’m human, I do it for myself, because this blog is about my thoughts, my struggles, my questions and my way.  And in answering this I have a question, why don’t you?

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March 22, 2013

There is nothing “Second” about it

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 12:41 pm by openendedcomment

I know not everyone who reads my blog agrees with me on this issue. OK. But for those that do and for those that aren’t totally sure about the entirety of the issues at hand, this is an amazing video to watch, listen…really actually listen to…and share.

This young man had heard that many opposing same-sex marriage often state the “sanctity” of a biological mother and father in the home is the ideal family. Now, I have my own very personal reasons for calling BS on this. Namely the fact that my ex-husband, my daughter’s biological father, tried to kill me (as in with his hands, not by being a run-of-the-mill jerk) and has had no interest in my daughter for eleven of her thirteen years of life.  Her dad, my husband, has been her dad since she was five and is absolutely better for her and with her than her biological father.  There is also the case of my step-sons, whose biological mother…well…I’d better not. Suffice to say she is not much better.

Anyway, I digress. Some of these “pro-family” types have been running around stating that adoption is a “second-rate” family. Biological is always best. This ticked off the amazing young man in this video. You see, he is adopted. By his dads, who love him unconditionally and are doing their best to raise a good man. You know…like parents do. He took it upon himself to pen a letter to Justice Roberts and his parents, impressed, posted this video to their blog. Which is also pretty awesome.

Watch it. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that regardless of your personal beliefs on the issue, there isn’t one damn thing about this young man that is “Second” rate.

March 19, 2013

A departure.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:19 am by openendedcomment

A new Pope was installed today.  As a woman who was raised as Catholic, this should be an important day for me.  It should be a day to embrace my faith and feel more connected to my church and to God.  I know this intellectually but emotionally and spiritually, I feel only confusion…detachment and sorrow.  I want to believe and I do believe in God and in the basics but in the church itself…in and for that I feel only loss.

This Pope embraces care of the poorest among us, he is a scientist and a Jesuit.  He believes in furthering education and humility.  These  are all wonderful things.  He spoke of and has acted on purging the church of the sins of its leaders.  That is a good thing too, and high time.  Today he spoke of love.  Love for those who most need it and love for those who least deserve it.  That is exactly what I have waited for the church to speak of and to act upon.  I ought to be eleated…but I am not.  I am not because though he spoke of love he remains firmly rooted in the archaic notions of women’s role being minimal at best and in women having no place in the church’s leadership.  He is traditional (in the sense of the church) in his stance on reproductive rights and even birth control.  Perhaps hardest for me is that he, together with the church’s leadership, remain resolute in their opinions and teachings on homosexuality.

I can’t agree.  I can understand that these are the church’s teachings, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  I’m not talking about other religions who may agree with the Catholic Church on some of these social justice lines, frankly, that isn’t what I’m concerned with.  I am selfishly concerned with my religion and the church I was raised in and more specifically with how on earth I can justify raising my own children as Catholics today.

I’ve asked.  I’ve spoken to priests and to very devout friends.  They’ve all given me the exact same BS lines and quoted the exact same scripture at me what seems like thousands of times.  No matter how often I hear it, I know it is not true.  I know it isn’t true.  The scripture they quote can easily be refuted with another verse in another chapter.  Besides, I do not and have not ever taken the Bible literally.  How can I?  How could anyone with an analytical and developed mind?  Knowing the Bible has been written and rewritten for political purposes over a millennium with entire sections removed and added for various reasons…knowing that the original disciples, the original priests and leaders of the church were allowed to marry and that women did have a larger role in the church for centuries until someone decided they didn’t…how could I?  And this is just the New Testament.  The Old Testament is clearly up for interpretation.  Please, please don’t comment on this part with any “Adam and Eve” stuff here.  I mean, really.  If Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, how did Cain and Abel procreate without committing incest?  If you truly belive that “traditional” marriage is between one man and one woman because “the Bible says so” then please explain why half of the Old Testament had numerous wives. If we’re going straight “traditional” as our guide, then Cody and the Sister Wives are our model and…well…please let’s not agree on that, OK?  And why and how on earth is it that the exact same scripture used to justify this hatred was used to justify laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages?  Look it up.  Exact. Same. Scripture.  Frankly, I’m offended.  I believe that God is offended.  The Bible and God’s teachings are those of love.  To use bits and pieces to promote hate is antithetical to Christianity and it makes me sick.  Further, if abortion and birth control are so wrong, why did the church assist with birth control (granted it was rather crude in form, but still happened) for women for centuries right up until the nineteenth when it became a social issue?  C’mon people…get some new material.

I want to raise my children with religion.  I want them to have the peace and knowledge that I do, that there is a God and there was a Son.  That their conscience is more than a conscience and that the traditions of communion and confession are important and true.  That said, I will raise good people.  I will raise children that believe in forgiveness over judgement.  People that understand tolerance and justice on a far deeper level than they know bigotry and hate.  I want to provide the world with four individuals who know how to question and think for themselves while rooted in firm and unshakeable values…and knowing what I know and hearing what I have heard from this place I used to find such comfort, I no longer know how to provide that for them.

And I need to.

They miss the ceremony and the tradition.  Sometimes I do, too.  We walked out of a mass several months ago when a deacon took to the pulpit and eschewed hatred and judgement for many that I love and millions who should find comfort rather than persecution in the arms of God.  I took one look at my four babies and knew in that instant I could not allow them to hear such things.  That even though I had always explained our family’s feelings on the issues after a mass, that by having them exposed in any form to such outrageous statements while telling them to “believe” was inexcusable as a parent.  So we walked.  It’s been bothering me ever since and today, of all days, I miss my church.  In writing this I can understand that I miss the idea of my church…of what I thought it to be for so many years.  I miss the comfort I found as I kneeled and prayed, enveloped by a sense of tradition and the teachings of Christ that I had chosen to acknowledge…of redemption and of love and of charity and peace.  New beginnings and eternal life.  I know that I will never go back, not the way I once was.  I don’t know what I am anymore, clearly not Catholic.  Not really.  To continue to identify as one seems unfair to those that actually are and a departure from what I know in my heart to be right.  I know that for my children I will have to find something different.  A compromise of what I know to be true and what I believe they need in their lives.  I will likely always cross myself and carry my rosary.  I will never waver from fish on Fridays.  As a family, we will still pray before dinner and still say the Hail Mary at the graves of those we love and lost.  I will find something new, someday.  In the meantime, for the church of my childhood and my grandparents, I will pray.  I will go again to the Basilica of Saint Mary and I will kneel before Our Mother and light a candle the way I have hundreds if not thousands of times before.  I will quietly ask that she bless me on this journey, secure in the knowledge I gained at the feet of Father Milano, that no matter what I am taught or told in my life and regardless of by whom, if I take the Spirit as my guide and listen in reflection to the truth of my conscience, I will be on the right path.

And for today, at this moment of what may be great change but still not great enough, my path is away.