Saturday, February 28, 2015

Warrior against Eating Disorders

Congratulation to Dr. Theresa Larson for her work to raise awareness of eating disorders.

During National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Feb. 22-28, she spoke at Cal State Northridge near Los Angeles.

Dr. Larson was a star softball player who later joined the Marines but battled bulimia.

Today she is a physical therapist with wounded warriors and is writing a book about her struggle with bulimia.

Warrior is the title of the book.

Hooray for her and the work she is doing--a true warrior!

Thank you to my student Joncarlo Luna, who attended her lecture and wrote a report for me.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Catholic Church & Female Bondage

You've got to be kidding me.

The Roman Catholic Church has been into female bondage for centuries, but now they're advertising it on the website of the Pontifical Council for Culture?

This council met on Feb. 4-7 to discuss the problem of women's second-class status in the Church.

Yay, someone noticed.

Boo, the council consists of 31 men.  

Discussing women's roles.  In 2015--not 1015.

To get the discussion going, these guys posted a document on their website.  To jazz up this boring document, they featured on the front page a headless, armless statue of Venus bound in rope.

Porn, basically, to men who have taken a vow of celibacy.  It more than spiced up the document.

When challenged, Cardinal Ravasi defended the choice of image, saying it was intended to symbolize the fact that women in the church are still limited in their roles, and this is a problem.

Your Holiness, Sir (or whatever respectful title we are supposed to use): a fully clothed woman with a brain and arms and legs, bound in rope, would have been more appropriate.

Of course, the document's title indicated the direction in which discussion would be allowed to go: "Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference."  Women must remain separate but equal in the Roman Catholic Church because they are DIFFERENT.  

Yeah, separate but equal worked really well with racial inequality.  

It kept the other group in its place, as the Catholic Church continues to try to do with women.

Newsflash, you stupid men: your church will be ordaining women as priests by 2050.  Mark my words.

You need us, and you need us as equals.

Thank you to Dr. Joanna Dixon, professor emeritus of New Testament Studies, for calling this to my attention.

Thank you to Soline Humbert, writing in The Irish Times on Feb. 17, for analyzing the significance of this male clerical blunder.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

CSUN suspends 3rd frat

How many deaths does it take 'til they know that too many people have died?

CSUN President Dianne Harrison is saying that one death is too many.

That young man was Armando Villa, who died on July 1, 2014, during a fraternity-dictated hike without enough water or decent shoes in the Angeles National Forest.  That fraternity was permanently banned from the CSUN campus.

Now a third fraternity has been banned following allegations.

Go, Dianne!  You rock.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Messages sent by beheading

Today we note with sadness more brutal deaths tied to religion: 21 Egyptian Christians driven by poverty to work as laborers on the northern coast of Libya.
Captured sometime in the last two months, the young men were beheaded on Sunday.  
Innocent electronic wires and chips were forced to display these human atrocities on television and computer screens across the world.
After the removal of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya descended into a quagmire of militia groups battling each other.  The band that did this has declared itself part of the Islamic State--never mind that ISIL is 1800 miles away.
The victims were chosen because of their religion.  They are Coptic Christians, part of the Orthodox branch of Christianity (Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, etc.).  Coptic is an ancient language and actually a cognate with the word Egypt.
Copts are not part of the Roman Catholic Church; they have their own leader, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, but these ignorant killers boasted on the video about having done this on the Libyan coast "south of Rome."
Either they don't know that Copts have nothing to do with Rome, or they think a Christian is a Christian: killing one hurts them all.  
They're right, of course.  Here am I on the coast of North America, mourning the loss of these young men.
So many times we've sung these words, but this week they have a new resonance:
We are one in the Spirit, 
We are one in the Lord,
And they'll know we are Christians by our love.
Or perhaps they'll know by our pain.
Thank you to Jack Marti for his moving performance, posted on YouTube.
Thank you also to the one who wrote the Gospel According to John 2,000 years ago:
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples (John 13:35).
We also need to find love for the brainwashed and desperate young men who proclaimed that we'll know they are ISIL by their beheading.
Who knows what brought them to this state?
Certainly it was not the revelation of Allah through Mohammad.  
Every surah of the Qur'an begins with the words, "In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful."
Egypt has already bombed Libya in return.  The US and the UN are considering how to respond:
Islamic militants have also been attacking Egyptian military bases, seeking control of the Sinai Peninsula. 
Here's a tally of some of the murders committed since last August by the Islamic State:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Down with Assad

Glancing at the op-ed pages of the New York Times last Tuesday, I wasn't even interested in David Brooks discussing secularists.

Here's the opinion piece that caught my attention:

This woman was living a normal life in Syria until spring of 2011, when she and others started demonstrating to overthrow the dictatorship of Bashar ad-Assad.

Alise Mofrej was arrested for participating in a peaceful demonstration in July, 2011, beaten, and released twelve days later.

Then she was arrested in December, 2013, when she went to a passport office to apply for a visa to attend a UN women's conference.  She was confined for 40 days and witnessed terrible torture; she herself was abused to a lesser extent.

After her release, she and her children were allowed to leave the country.  They fled to Beirut, Lebanon, where they joined her husband.

Now that the Islamic State has stolen all the headlines, we don't read much about attempts to overthrow Bassar al-Assad.  In fact, our government and others overlook his atrocities to focus on their new enemy.

I am also moved by the death of an idealistic young American woman this past week or earlier in Syria.  Kayla Mueller had gone to Turkey to help Syrian refugees.

Here's a quotation from the article:

In an interview with The Daily Courier in Arizona, Ms. Mueller described how fulfilled she felt by her work with refugees, which included leading art classes for displaced Syrian children.

“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she said.

These are two of many lives shattered by the brutal repression under Bassar al-Asad's government.

With all the attention on the Islamic State, let's not overlook the basic problem in Syria.  

The T in LGBT

Transgender people are the last of the alternative sexualities to receive public attention and respect.

Us Weekly is one of the magazines that shows up on our kitchen table, and Bruce Jenner has won a cover photo on it several times in the last few months.

On November 24, 2014, the cover above appeared.  Both the facial expressions and the negative words "secret" and "double life" sensationalized his transition and showed bias in favor of traditional gender roles, though the words "finally free" hinted at understanding.

Because of this cover, someone in our usually tolerant family made a disparaging remark about Bruce's transition.

I was surprised because we have attended two churches over the last twenty years, each of which includes a respected member who is a transgender man.  (The churches are St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica and Brentwood Presbyterian Church in West Los Angeles.)

"So what? It's no big deal," I said, earning scorn for showing off as more PC than thou.

Then in Touch Magazine took the liberty of photo-shopping him into a female with make-up on the cover of its January 14, 2015, issue.  How unfair.  Would the editors photo-shop Jennifer Lopez with their own choice of make-up on a cover?

The February 9 and February 16 Us Weekly covers still feature him and his Kris Kardashian, but now with the words "Bruce's brave announcement" and the negative language directed at her: "Kris in denial" and "bitter ex-wife."

Thank you to Nicholas Kristof for publishing a compassionate column this week in the New York Times titled "Bruce Jenner's Courage."

He cites terrible statistics: 13 transgender women murdered in 2014 in the US, and three so far this year. 41% of transgender persons have attempted suicide, according to a study in 2011.

Time for a little compassion.  We can all thank Bruce for taking on this issue, whether he wanted to or not.

Kristof concludes, "Bruce Jenner is now a gold medalist again.  Come on, Wheaties.  It's time to put him back on the box."

I second that motion.

See also:

Little House & Little Women

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th Birthday

Thank you to Google for highlighting the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Google home page for today.  Laura was born on February 7, 1867.

I will definitely order Wilder's autobiography, just now published.  

The contrast between the Little House on the Prairie books and the harsh realities of Wilder's own life is directly parallel to the contrast between Little Women and the hardships faced by Louisa May Alcott and her mother Abigail May Alcott.

Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante thoroughly and painfully chronicles the realities of the four sisters whose lives were transformed into fiction by Louisa.  This double biography was published by Simon & Schuster in 2012.

Their father, Bronson Alcott, was a narcissist and dreamer who did not support his family.

The girls' mother, Abigail May Alcott, attempted to earn money by serving in Boston as one of the first ever social workers.  Unfortunately, she contracted smallpox and scarlet fever, bringing them home to her daughters.

Ever wonder what Beth actually died of?  Damage to her heart caused by smallpox and scarlet fever.

Louisa, her mother, her uncle, and her sisters worked for the abolition of slavery and for women's right to vote.  When then Civil War began, Louisa wanted to serve, so she enlisted as a nurse in a hospital in Washington, D.C.  

Shortly thereafter, she contracted typhoid pneumonia, surviving the initial fever but permanently impairing her health and causing an auto-immune disorder that killed her at age 55.

At least she was able to attend a town meeting and vote for the first time in a local election in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1880.

Why do we love these fictional, romanticized accounts of women's lives but avoid the harsh realities?

Walt Disney and Hollywood have been giving the public sugary dreams for years.  

At last some of us are brave enough to drink the stronger medicine, straight from the author's own life.