Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beach Therapy

At 7:30 pm when Ann Romney’s speech was over, I herded the dogs into the car and drove off seeking open space, sunset sky, transcendence.

I found myself driving into the beach parking lot, planning to walk Stormy and Mocha and recover from the upsetting bits and pieces of the Republican convention I’d heard on radio and television.

We immediately encountered two chihuahuas, Bodhi and Shiva, and their owner, Susan.

Someone was performing on the sidewalk with a guitar and microphone; the sun had just set, turning the western sky pink and orange.

“It’s so peaceful here,” she sighed.

“Really—after watching the Republican convention,” I answered.

“I was watching it too ,” she said. “Ann Romney—‘I love women!’”

“I love women too,” I said. “But it sounded so weird coming from her.”

We took the dogs’ leashes off, and they chased in huge circles on the lawn. Politics faded as daylight dimmed and the almost-full moon moved through translucent clouds. Our recovery was complete.

Here is a sampling of the upsetting remarks we needed to recover from:

Rick Santorum after describing his severely handicapped newborn, Bella: “All men—all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with life and liberty.” His repetition of “all men” was such a nonsequitur. I think he meant that the newborn was created equal, but it sounded like men were really equal. Women were absent.

Ted Cruse, running for the Senate seat from which Kay Hutchinson has resigned: “Our rights come not from government but from God.” Not mentioned: “To secure these rights, governments are instituted.”

Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina: “Ann Romney is a strong woman of faith, a wife, a mother, a patriot.” Period. That sounded to me like a message to women: be those four things.

Ann Romney: “Women sigh a little bit harder than men.” (She hasn’t heard my husband sigh.)

“It’s the moms who really hold this country together. You know it’s true, don’t you!” Oh really? What an essentialist statement—one gender holds this country together; the other doesn’t?

“I love you women!” Awkward moment—Miss America proclaiming her love for other women. As in, “Men may put women down—some women too—but I don’t?” Definitely not as in “I’m attracted to women.”

“No one will work harder, care more, or move heaven & earth more to make this country a better place like Mitt Romney.” I don’t know about that—in a contest for working hard, caring and moving heaven & earth, Barack Obama has to score pretty high.

“Give and it shall be given unto you.” A Bible quote, good. (How did it fit in? Who is giving what? I missed the connection between the Romneys and Jesus’ words, except that Mitt helps the poor in his church.

“I make you this solemn commitment: this man will not fail.” When you make solemn promises, don’t you do them on your own behalf? How do you make them for someone else? And how do you promise not failing? No one can promise that because so many factors are outside our control—especially as President of the US.

Repeated four times: “this man I met at a high school dance….”

And in closing: “It’s been forty years since that tall, kind of charming man asked me to dance…. You can trust Mitt, just as he took me home safely from that dance…” Kind of charming? What does that mean? And was it a blizzard that night? Or was it Al Qaeda, or just his own hormones?

The camera switches to Connie Rice, looking very sober at this point, as if to say “Really, Ann? This is why he should become President?” A few seconds later after the speech ends, she is smiling and clapping.

Bill Plante: “There is Governor Romney joining his wife on the stage.” Looking as plastic as ever—(sorry).

Bob Schieffer: “Wow—that was a speech! A fine speech.”

Another guy: “One heck of a speech.”

Really, guys? It was a strange speech.

Governor Chris Christie began his keynote: “Tonight we’re going to choose respect over love, as my mother taught me.” Huh? What does that mean? We’re going to respect Romney, even if we don’t love him?

I turned off the television and rushed out of the house, seeking peace and quiet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thank you, Todd Akin!

On my birthday, August 19, all I did was go to church and climb up the slopes of one of my favorite Colorado fourteeners, Mt. Sneffels. 

But in St. Louis, Congressman Todd Akin was being interviewed by a Fox affiliate and handing me a memorable birthday present: anti-abortion remarks so offensive that he is no longer a serious challenge to the Democratic Senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill.

Woo-hoo!  Thank you, Todd. You may have tipped the balance to keep the Senate's Democratic majority in the elections this fall.  You may even have affected the presidential race.

You also gave me the opportunity to tout my evangelical Christian pro-choice book:  Abortion--My Choice, God's Grace: Christian Women Tell Their Stories (Pasadena, CA: New Paradigm, 1994).  It's available on Amazon, everybody.

I take the Bible seriously as the Word of God and point out in the book that nothing in the Bible opposes abortion.  Fifteen Christian women who have chosen abortion in difficult circumstances share their prayerful decision-making process in the face of rape, incest, health issues, and other crises.

I want to shout another thank-you to reporter John Eligon of the New York Times who researched Akin's religious connections and quotes a friend of Akin's as saying they both are "'far to the right' of people like Rush Limbaugh."

The phrase "Christian conservatives" has become so widely used in the last twenty years that the public now thinks that all Christians are conservative--or that all evangelicals are politically conservative as well as conservative in their approach to the Bible.

Not so.  There are Christian liberals and evangelical progressives, both of whom support legal access to abortion for women who feel they cannot continue an unexpected, unplanned pregnancy. 

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is the most prominent organization trying to counter the myth that all Christians are anti-abortion.

In addition, check out my book, the website of Sojourners Magazine, and the pages of The Other Side, a distinguished evangelical publication that ceased publication about ten years ago. 

Visit the website of Evangelical & Ecumenical Women's Caucus--Christian Feminism Today,, and its quarterly publication.  These media are all produced by evangelical Christians whose politics are progressive to left.  EEWC-CFT is an inclusive organization (i.e. gay friendly).  There are many churches that advertize themselves as "inclusive" or "welcoming." 

Eligon points out that Todd Akin holds an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary in Missouri, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America, a group that split off from the southern Presbyterians in 1973 when they merged with the northern Presbyterians.  The PCA has about 350,000 members, compared to 1,952,000 in the PCUSA. 

Christians make up about 77% of the population in the US, and evangelicals are estimated at 30-35%.  But Todd Aiken's variety of "Christian conservatives" is a minority among the evangelicals--those who do home-schooling only, who oppose contraception and abortion, who think wives should be "in submission" to their husbands, and who oppose the increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians, claiming that all this is biblical.  

Do we want someone from this very small sub-group to be one of two senators representing Missouri?  Do we want his vote among the 100 senators making decisions for the 314 million citizens of the USA?

Thank you, Todd Akin, for exposing yourself and your views in time for the people of Missouri to make an informed choice.  You're also giving all Americans a chance to know what they're voting for this coming November 6.