Friday, October 30, 2015

Dying for Peace in Israel

Richard Lakin gave his life for peace in Israel.

He attended peace activist events and gave his Facebook page a theme of Palestinian-Israeli friendship.

See the NY Times article, Oct. 29.

But haters responded with threats of violence on FB.

A few days ago he boarded a bus that was attacked. He was knifed and shot. He became another Jesus, giving his life for others.

We must tell FB to block posts that promote and teach violence against others, especially Jews. Richard's family has filed a suit against FB.

We must all work for peace.

Friday, October 16, 2015

To Watch or Not to Watch

Eclipsed may not be my cup of tea.  It's the drama about women's suffering during the Liberian civil war that eventually ousted dictator Charles Taylor.

Written by Danai Gurira, this show opened two days ago on Broadway in New York City, but I'm thankful that it hasn't arrived in Los Angeles yet.  I don't have to make a decision about whether to see it.

Rape, sexual slavery, brutalization, and dehumanization are important problems to address in wars that include these practices, but I'm not sure that I can sit down in a theatre and become a witness as part of an evening of entertainment.

Lupita Nyong'o, Oscar winner for her supporting role in Twelve Years a Slave, is one of the stars, but her vivid portrayal of suffering may be too much for me.

Just watching the violence of The Suffragette last month was jarring enough, and those events took place one hundred years ago.

Thank you to Charles Isherwood for his review, but this is one I may have to pass up.

Demystifying the King James Bible

The King James Bible, published in 1611, is routinely used to oppress women and LGBT people.

Now a researcher in England has unearthed a draft of two books of the Apocrypha that show an individual translator working with Greek, Latin, and Hebrew texts to translate 1 Esdras and The Wisdom of Solomon into English.

This man is working alone in order to contribute his work to the group effort of some 48 individuals.

This evidence contradicts the "mythos" surrounding the King James translation: "that it was a collaborative project through and through," reports Jennifer Schuessler for the New York Times.

The rest of the mythos is that the KJV is divinely inspired and no translators made any errors or wrong judgments.  Therefore, believers today should read no translation except the KJV, preferably one with the words of Jesus printed in red.

For example, where the Hebrew reads ezer (help--often used for God's help) "appropriate" for the needs of the first human (ha-adam), the KJV translators introduced a new word helpmeet that has been used to reduce the presence of woman in the newly divided pair ish and isha (male and female) to the level of an assistant to the male (Genesis 2:18).

This translation of two words into one helpmeet is still being used to oppress women today.

Likewise, the KJV use of the word sodomite to refer to various idolatrous sexual practices mentioned in the Hebrew Bible has caused much oppression against LGBT persons over the last four hundred years.  The Hebrew word should probably be translated cult prostitute. (See Deut. 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46 and 2 Kings 23:7.)

Letha Dawson Scnzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott quote John Boswell to analyze this problem in their book Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? (1978; rev. 1994).  

"Pointing out that this idea arises from a mistranslation of a word meaning simply 'cult prostitute,' historian John Boswell states that 'there is no reason to assume such prostitutes serviced persons of their own sex.... almost no theologians invoked these passages as condemnations of homosexual behavior until after the mistranslation of the words into English'" (p. 63).

Thus the special aura of "divine inspiration" surrounding this human translation needs to be challenged.  

Hooray for the work of researcher Jeffrey Alan Miller in discovering the very human work done alone by one man in translating parts of the Hebrew Bible (the Apocrypha) that didn't even make it into the King James Bible.

May everyone take notice that God's Word is divinely inspired but not necessarily all the subsequent translations of that Word.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Baby Steps

Of course the first step toward ordaining women as priests in the Roman Catholic Church is to ordain them as deacons.

At least that is getting some attention...

By 2050, women will be ordained as priests, regularly, in the RCC.  

That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sister Death

What a blessing to give a mentally competent, terminally ill person the right to take pills that will end life in a painless but certain way.

Thank you to the California legislators who made this happen and to Governor Jerry Brown for not becoming a last-minute hold-out.

This legislation will reduce the number of persons who, in desperation, blow their brains out.

In older cultures, most deaths were not prolonged and drawn out in the way they are for many people today as a result of our greater medical resources.

The personal stories associated with California's newly passed and signed legislation are very moving.

St. Francis on his deathbed coined the phrase "Sister Death" to welcome the transition once it had become inevitable.

May we all come to that kind of acceptance, and may we die peacefully.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

50 Shades of Insanity

What's worse, killings by one crazy man or organized killings by the US military bombing a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, for an hour?

I can understand one man going beserk, especially if he has Asperger's syndrome and is being treated with lithium.  I'm not surprised; I can fit this event into my world view and work to increase gun laws and better work with mental illness.

Its's the insanity of war that troubles me more.  My tax dollars support the military who make these decisions about where and when to bomb.  I feel more responsible for these deaths.

Let me go on record:  I don't support US military intervention anywhere.  

I watched in horror as Bush 2 moved closer and closer to bombing Baghdad in March 2003. That bombing was a display of bravado after the September 11 attacks on the US, but Iraq as a target made no sense.  Our government just wanted to bomb someone somewhere in the Middle East.

If the United Nations vote to carry out military intervention somewhere, I might support it.

But I've seen too much "fog of war" decision-making in the last 14 years to support any war anywhere.  

Then there was the US mistreatment of prisoners--the water-boarding and other acts of torture.  

I don't want to be part of a nation that does these things.  

What do I have to do, move to Canada or Norway?

Let's be People without Borders

Down with all border fences and laws!

It is unconscionable that 13 young men have died since June trying to get from France to England via the Eurotunnel in Calais.

Why can't we in the wealthier nations share our resources?

If we add up deaths on the US-Mexico border, the Hungarian borders, the tunnel at Calais, and all other borders in the world, how many would-be migrants have lost their lives in 2015 because they had the hope for a better life?

Students in a classroom in Oregon... doctors and patients in a hospital in Kunduz... young men trying to walk through the tunnel at Calais.

Only one of these disasters was caused by a crazy man. 

The other two were perpetrated by us--the voters and citizens of the US and other nations who approve of US bombing in Afghanistan and approve of the idea that some migrants have legal status, while others have to stay where they were born or lose their lives trying to migrate illegally.  

Doctors Without Borders lost their lives in the Kunduz bombing, probably by the US.  

Let's start a new organization: People Without Borders.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


A new term to me this week: self-compassion.

"You're hard on yourself," my therapist says.  "You need to work on self-compassion."

When I told my daughter about this idea, she said there's a website for it.

Therefore, I present the website:

Check it out--learn the exercises to increase your self-compassion.

Oregon Sheriff Meets Reality

When it happened at Sandy Hook, John Hanlin, sheriff of Douglas County in Oregon, thought maybe it was fake.

Maybe the federal government had staged the killing with actors, as perhaps it had staged the attacks of September 11, 2001, in order to take away people's guns.

Three days before that letter was released, Mr. Hanlin shared a link on his personal Facebook page to a YouTube video, which suggested that the shootings at Sandy Hook — and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — might have been staged by the federal government to provide a pretext for “disarming the public” through gun control legislation.

Yeah, right.

Now that an undisputably real shooting has occurred on his own turf, Sheriff Hanlin blames the media.  The shooter was aiming for publicity, and the media always cooperate by revealing the killer's name and identity.  

No media, no killings--easy.

The difficult job of assessing and rewriting US laws on gun ownership and mental illness needs to be tackled, but for many people it will be easier just to live in a fantasy world where government and media are the real culprits.

Meeting my students

Each fall and spring for many years, I have met two or three classrooms of students, just as Lawrence Levine met his students this week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

Some drop out, some work hard and become the stars of the class.

Sometimes there is a deaf student in my class, requiring an interpreter.

Sometimes there is a student with spina bifida or some other serious physical disability.  She may arrive each day in a wheel chair and need someone else to take notes for her.  

Often there are students with various types of learning disabilities who require special conditions for testing at a different location.

Always there are students with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.  

There are students who speak almost no English, with perhaps Russian and Persian as their first and second languages.  

There are veterans who have served in the Middle East and have PTSD. 

There are students with anger issues who provoke other students.  Once there was a pushing and shoving match between two women in the classroom.

Each group of students is a unique challenge.

Increasingly in the US there is a student in a classroom who decides to bring guns to campus and shoot his classmates and teacher.

Lawrence Levine was killed by his student two days ago.  Sixty-seven years old, like me, and an adjunct professor teaching English, writing skills--a part-timer, like me.  

Gone because of a student with mental illness and easy access to an unlimited number of guns.

May Levine rest in peace.

May none of us rest in peace until gun laws are changed to prevent sales to men with mental illness and/or criminal records.

Someone else will be called in to finish teaching the course, Introduction to Expository Writing, one that students take who need some practice before they take college-level writing courses.  I've taught that course many times.

The first assignment for the students in Levine's class was to write "an essay where students had to choose a subject and support an argument with evidence and reason," according to the NYT Times.

Apparently this killer couldn't write an essay on his favorite subject, guns.  He used bullets instead of words.  Argument and reason were beyond him.

Some students remaining in the course, and others across the US, will write an essay on gun control this fall.  They will marshal arguments for greater limits on access to guns and bullets, or perhaps they will write against any changes in our gun laws.

It's up to all of us who can write letters and essays to take up the cause.  

We must donate our time and money to gun control organizations in memory of Lawrence Levine, his students, the students of Sandy Hook (2012) and Santa Monica College (2013) and Virginia Tech (2007) and so many others.

David Gregory's Faith

Thank you to my friend Diane H. for alerting me to this book by David Gregory: How's Your Faith?

What an interesting spiritual journey--child of a Catholic and alcoholic mother and Jewish father, now coming into his own faith.

I find it odd that Gregory's spiritual journey was begun by George Bush posing that question to him.  

Not everyone is all bad, nor is anyone all good.  Even Bush 2 has done a few good things in his life, in addition to his historic crime of using the US military to bomb Baghdad in 2003.


There's a new term I've noticed on NPR: microaggressions.

They are "small daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities."

Apparently this term is used mostly in cultural settings that might involve racial minorities or other marginalized groups, but I think it occurs in all human interactions, such as in the family.

They are the cuts and slurs that we all endure and many of us inflict, often as jokes.  

But they hurt.  

At least now there's a name for them--and like other previously unnamed behaviors, say sexual harassment, once named, they can be tamed.

Guns and Psychopaths

Maybe people who take lithium--an antimanic drug--should not have the right to own 14 guns.  

Maybe owning a gun should be a privilege, not a right.

Maybe Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and others did not foresee the invention of small handguns.

Maybe they thought that "a well-regulated militia" would always be interpreted as part of "the security of a free state"--not as words to be ignored in order to defend the last fourteen words of the Second Amendment.

In United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that, "The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence" and limited the applicability of the Second Amendment to the federal government.[9] In United States v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government and the states could limit any weapon types not having a "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia".[10][11] -- from Wikipedia

Maybe it's time to challenge the current interpretation of this amendment.

Apparently the killer in Roseburg, Oregon, had Asperger's syndrome.

If we look at the killer in Sandy Hook or the killer who entered the Century 16 Multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012, we young men with mental illness such as depression.

Why are these men allowed to purchase guns legally?

Here's an analysis on today's New York Times website:

We need to prevent men with mental illness from having legal access to guns.  If they had to buy guns illegally, they would at least need the social skills to accomplish such a purchase.

Does the National Rifle Association defend the right of psychopaths to obtain guns?

I don't know, but the time for flagrant, wanton toleration of "the right to bear arms" independent of any militia is over.

For the rest of my life I will donate at least $50 per year to three groups that advocate reasonable control of guns in the USA:

Gabby Giffords - Americans for Responsible Solutions

Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence

Coalition To Stop Gun Violence

I will donate this $150 per year even if I don't have money to eat.  I will write the letters and take the activist action these groups recommend.

To do less is to say with Jeb Bush, "Look, stuff happens."  We are impotent.  We will let the gun lobby rule the US Congress.  We will continue to let psychopaths murder innocents.