Sunday, December 30, 2018

Where Jesus walked...

I walked today where Jesus walked" --a hymn I've often sung. But today it happened.

We visited the modern city of Nazareth in Israel but populated by 50% Orthodox Christians and 50% Muslims. Almost no Jews live there.

Our bus drove to the top of Mt. Precipice in Nazareth, where our leader the Reverend Jacoba Vermaak explained the time Jesus got in trouble there and the people of his home town wanted to throw him off a cliff. Was it this one? Read Luke 4:16-30.

Then we toured the city of Zipori six miles away, where many laborers of Nazareth worked. Was Jesus one of them? The wealthy people of this city supported Rome when most of Judah and Israel tried to overthrow the Empire in 66-67 C.E., so their city was not destroyed when the Roman government destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.

Tonight we're staying in Kibbutz Ein-Gev on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which is 600 ft. below sea level because it lies along the Rift Valley caused by a major fault zone-- two continents drifting apart, causing a crack and drop down of the land. Why didn't any Sunday school teacher tell me that this lake is below sea level?

Tonight walking on the shores of the lake where Jesus walked, I realized how much Jesus loved these mountains and the lake beneath them. The Rev. Jacoba says he and the disciples continued to fish to support themselves while Jesus preached the good news that God is near. Read Mark 1.

I looked up at the stars and thought about how often Jesus retreated to these mountains to pray at night. He looked up at these same stars. He probably knew the constellations; in Zipori there is a beautiful mosaic floor that includes a circular design of the Zodiac. I recognized Cancer, the crab.

Toni Morrison says that the past is never truly past; an event continues to have a presence in the place where it occurred. The site of the 9/11 attack is forever tainted.

But the site of a good event is forever blessed.  I could feel that tonight.  Standing alone in cold December beneath the starry sky, I glimpsed how Jesus felt standing here: his wonder at creation and love for wind-driven waves, for dark skies of infinite depth. Did he go out to be alone and pray on blustery winter nights like this? Was he cold and wet sometimes? Did he stay inside instead?

How did he and his crew stay warm? No down jackets or snug socks and running shoes. Being closer to the mind of Jesus was thrilling but brought many questions.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

O Come Ye, O Come Ye, to Bethlehem

Christmas carols have a special ring to them this year as I prepare to travel to Israel, Palestine, and possibly Jordan on December 28, returning January 20.

"O Come, All Ye Faithful" invites us to Bethlehem to behold Jesus.  

Hold on, I'm coming!  (unless there's violence that causes a close of the border crossings).

I will begin with a ten-day tour led by the Reverend Dr. Jakoba Vermaak of Wilshire Presbyterian Church.  Our group will include 22 Americans, an Israeli archaeologist and tour guide, and an Arab-speaking bus driver.  Imagine Tours & Travel is making all the arrangements.  

Cost is $3495 for ten days including airfare and taxes, hotels, breakfast and dinner, and guides.

Then I will spend two more weeks on my own, staying for ten nights at Ecce Homo Convent built on the spot where King Herod's palace was and where Jesus was interrogated and flogged.  I haven't figured out the last three nights, but I hope to get to Petra in Jordan and to spend another day or two around Nazareth or Capernaum (near the sea of Galilee).

Thank you to my sister, the Reverend Emily McColl, for letting me know about Ecce Homo Convent  ($69 per night) and for her many travel tips!  She has been twice before.

I'm hoping to practice my conversational Hebrew, having taken classes for about ten years.  

And of course, also hoping to see Jesus... somewhere.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Day 700

General James N. Mattis

How have we arrived at day 700 of the dt presidency?  

It's been a hard couple of years, but this fool is on his way out.

Today the conversations, at home and on our television sets and radios, contain phrases like:

  • chaos
  • fumble
  • throwing a temper tantrum
  • last adult in the room
  • off the rails
  • adult day care
  • verge of a shutdown
  • stock market tanks

This presidency will not survive beyond the year 2019.  The tweeter-in-chief  probably won't even make it to Day 1000.

Thanks be to God!  

Our long ordeal is ending.  He is self-destructing.  

General James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense, stood up to the president today.  Thank you, General Mattis!

Now we need a few more Republicans to discover some backbone.

Here's how the LA Times described the resignation of Mattis this afternoon:

Mary, Mother of Jesus: Fierce and Vocal

Every year we honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, but we see her as "a silent prop up there, holding a baby and looking sweet," says the Reverend Katy Fitz Shedlock, a Methodist minister in Spokane, Washington.

She designed a different kind of Christmas pageant.  Mary is a pregnant teen who has a cell phone to text Joseph and speaks out holding a mic.

Thank you to Judith Steinmetz in San Francisco, who sent me a link to this article:

Judith also sent this link from today's Washington Post:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Feminism growing among Southern Baptists...

What a hoot!  Southern Baptists are having to defend themselves against the accusation that they are becoming feminists.

What have they done to deserve this f-word?

They have kicked out the president of a seminary for counseling victims of domestic violence to keep quiet and for telling at least one rape victim to forgive her assailant and not report to the police.  They have also dethroned a few other predator pastors and confessed to past failures to protect the weak.

This counts as feminism?

I'd call it simple justice regardless of gender--which by the way, actually is the definition of feminism.  Look it up in any dictionary.

Apparently any stance of justice for any woman or women puts a complementarian in dangerous territory.  There must be some no man's land encircling the hot heart of feminism, and if a pastor or entire denomination enters this zone, that person or group can be branded with the scarlet F.

The genesis of this latest skirmish in the culture wars is an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Margaret Bendroth, a scholar with the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston.

"Could Southern Baptists Actually Become Feminists?" she asked on June21.

"I think the answer to that questions [sic] is a resounding 'no'" replied blogger Denny Burk in The Aquila Report on June 30.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Book Club--Fun and Fantasy

For an hour and 44 minutes of fun, go ahead and watch Book Club, the spoof about four fifty- to sixty-something friends who venture off the track of their lives when they experiment with late-in-life romance.

Watch Diane Keaton coping with her two daughters in their thirties who want to protect and control her by moving her into the basement of one of their homes.

There's a lot of humor in that generational conflict and in the freedom Diane and Candice Bergen find as they become widows--and also in the the love Jane Fonda finds after a lifetime of keeping men at arm's length.  

The fourth woman, Mary Steenburgen, gets into trouble trying to revive her husband's interest in sex by slipping a Viagara pill into his drink.  

For Diane, love comes in the form of a handsome airline pilot she stumbles over in an airplane.

For Jane, it's an old flame, while Candice (a skeptical judge) tries her hand at on-line dating.

If nothing else, this film will prevent you from thinking about our disastrous president for 104 minutes--and that's worth the price of admission.

The sound track is fun too, especially Carole Bayer Sager performing "Living in the Moment"  --the theme song for Book Club.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Satan and Jeff Sessions

Many a man has made a bargain with the devil, but Jeff Sessions in the last 24 hours takes the cake.

As soon as the Twitter world got hold of his words to a law enforcement group in Indiana yesterday, he was excoriated--but praised by the the right.  Law and order (and security) justify anything, in the eyes of some.

I tweeted and Instagrammed a commentary by Bible scholar Willis Barnstone on Romans 13: 1-7:

"Here, though the ruler is the tyrannically mad Nero, Paul offers no worldly [com]plaint.  Rather, he calls for submission to the ruling powers.  More than anything else, one may attribute these passages to necessary pragmatism in light of the mortal consequences of rejection of Roman rule" Restored New Testament, p. 683). 

But this morning I turned on MSNBC and heard Sessions' exact words. Here they are, as quoted by Ed Kilgore on New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:

In his remarks, Sessions hit back at the “concerns raised by our church friends about separating families,” calling the criticism “not fair or logical” and quoting scripture in his defense of the administration’s tough policies.
“Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Protect the weak and lawful?  People claiming asylum from gangs at the US border are weak and lawful, obeying international law, but Sessions attacks them and separates children from parents.

I succumbed to tears.  It really hurts to have the Bible I love misused to abuse human beings in need of basic kindness and decency.  How many people will believe him and conclude that the Bible and all who read it are unjust and useless?

My next step: tweet against Sessions' words.  Cite Scripture. In 92 places the Bible says to be kind to strangers "the alien in your land."  See the Evangelical Immigration Table.  This was and is a basic tenet of Judaism: kindness to strangers, widows, orphans.  

Then online I found Ed Kilgore's article on the Daily Intelligencer:

No, Jeff Sessions, Separating Kids From Their Parents Isn’t ‘Biblical’

Kilgore points out that "the attorney general of the United States was clearly angry about religious objections to his administration’s immigration policies."

Sessions especially didn't like this statement from the US Catholic Bishops: "...In the face of these unjust laws and the systematic deportation of migrants instituted by the Department of Homeland Security, God’s people must stand in solidarity with the migrants in our midst."

So he tried to fight religion with religion, using words of the apostle Paul of Tarsus in Romans 13: 1-7.

To succeed with the argument that every ruler (even Emperor Nero) is "God's servant to you for the good," Sessions had to take the passage completely out of context.

He omitted any mention that Paul is a Roman citizen writing a letter to Romans and saying that it's probably better for them if they obey Roman law.

Sessions had to overlook that Paul would only say this because there was debate among early Christians about whether they needed to obey unjust Roman laws--for example, "perform a public offering to the Roman gods, or we will execute you." 

He had to overlook the execution of Jesus by Romans trying to put down unrest in the conquered nation of Israel.  Was Pontius Pilate "God's servant" to Jesus "for the good"?  

When Paul himself was beheaded a few years later in Rome, was that order made by "God's servant" acting for Paul's own good?  No, it was a tyrannical government trying to put down a bothersome social and religious movement.

Ed Kilgore gives us two great paragraphs of perspective on misuse of this passage:

Those who are unacquainted with the Bible should be aware that the brief seven-verse portion of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans has been throughout the ages cited to oppose resistance to just about every unjust law or regime you can imagine. As the Atlantic’s Yoni Appelbaum quickly pointed out, it was especially popular among those opposing resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act in the run-up to the Civil War. It was reportedly Adolf Hitler’s favorite biblical passage. And it was used by defenders of South African Apartheid and of our own Jim Crow.
Sessions’s suggestion that Romans 13 represents some sort of absolute, inflexible rule for the universe has been refuted by religious authorities again and again, most quoting St. Augustine in saying that “an unjust law is no law at all,” and many drawing attention to the overall context of Paul’s epistle, which was in many respects the great charter of Christian liberty and the great rebuke to legalism in every form. Paul was pretty clearly rejecting a significant sentiment among Christians of his day: that civil authorities deserved no obedience in any circumstance.
Kilgore concludes that Sessions is a wolf and has no business telling the sheep to obey his crafty laws.  But above all:

 for the sake of all that’s holy, don’t quote the Bible to make the Trump administration’s policies towards immigrant families sound godly. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Julia Ward Howe Rejoices Today

Cover of the 1862 sheet music
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe,
aka "Mrs. Dr. S. G. Howe"
who is now known as "the husband of..."
Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to "Battle Hymn of the Republic" in 1862.

She fought to abolish slavery, and she fought to give women the right to vote.

My, how she is rejoicing today in the realms of glory as she notices that the evil Paige Patterson has been vanquished by Southern Baptist women.

He has given up his keynote address and won't even attend the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Dallas June 12-13.

Believe me, it wasn't his idea.  He fell to the mighty pressure against him--what Albert Mohler called "the terrible swift sword" of justice, borrowing words from Julia Ward Howe's hymn.

See also this report yesterday on NBC Nightly News covering:
  • Southern Baptist oppression of women
  • rally planned outside convention
  • resolution for women planned inside convention
  • Beth Moore letter....

Praise to Christ Sophia and to all the women who have 
  • stood up to Patterson and the SBC 
  • spoken out after being told not to report rape & to stay with abusive husbands
  • written articles about being denied the right to be pastors
  • planned the rally on June 12.
O My God, we also praise and thank you for the life of Julia Ward Howe and all she gave to women, Christian women, and enslaved people.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Gender & Religion in South Africa

Pastor Taffi Dollar

GEMA (Gender Equality Matters)

Galatians 3:28 

Good news from Johannesburg via my friend Xana McCauley!

1) GEMA (Gender Equality Matters) sponsored a one-day conference titled "Truth Be Told" on May 30 at Rhema Bible Church near Johannesburg.  Xana and her friends founded GEMA a few years ago to teach gender equality and encourage women as pastors and other leaders.  One of the speakers was Pastor Taffi Dollar from World Changers Church near Atlanta, GA. 

2) There was a Gender, Sexuality and Religion Conference from 21-25 May 2018 on the Pietermaritzburg Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, SA.

The conference included more than 65 gender and sexuality academics and activists from around the global South, presenting papers and giving performances. Delegates came from more than 6 African countries, including 17 Universities and HE institutions in Southern Africa.  More than 15 NGOs participated in presentations and an NGO marketplace.

The conference program included great topics, such as Menard Musendekwa (UNISA) speaking on "Are women the Battleground Between God and Man?"

Rest In Peace, Anthony Bourdain

No man is an island, said John Donne in 1623 when he was facing a serious illness.

Anthony Bourdain's decision to end his life casts a pall over my day, as did Kate Spade's passing, which must have been another wound for Bourdain.  

We are all connected.

I want to give some kind of beauty to Anthony, so I will post this photo and think of a California poppy folding its petals when the sun starts to move low on the horizon.

We all need the sun.  A part of us folds when night falls.  

A part of us dies when someone we know and love dies and also when we hear of anyone taking his or her own life.

But the poppy will become a seed pod after its petals fall.  The pod will pop open after it dries, and seeds will fly in every direction.

Your life will continue in our ongoing lives, Anthony.

No man is an island,
entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were.
as well as if a manor of thy friend’s
or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.
In his meditation on death, Donne writes that all beings are one with God. The rest of the essay, when read in the context of Brexit, is just as poignant as the famous passage. Donne compares suffering to gold, arguing that we can never have enough of our neighbors’ pain: “No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it.” In other words: No one suffers alone, and being aware of another’s pain only makes us stronger and more able to live.
National Suicide Prevention Foundation Hotline 1-800-273-8255

Hindsight from Obama speech writer

Foresight is the best, but I'll take sight in any way it comes, even after the 2016 election.

Here's an interview by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, with Ben Rhodes, a speech writer for President Obama, on how the Obama White House released news of Russian interference in the election.

Rhodes’ comments — a rare on-the-record admission of a lapse by a senior Obama official — came during a discussion of his new book, “The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House.” The book recounts Rhodes’s role as a speechwriter and senior adviser throughout the Obama presidency.

He regrets not being in the room when decisions were made on how to release news of Russian interference in the US election.

You learn in government who’s in the room kind of dictates what’s on the agenda, and not only was I not in the room,” Rhodes said during his Skullduggery interview, “nobody who focused on communications was in the room.” Instead, “our government kind of put [the Russian attack] in a box of cybersecurity. You know, they hacked something, they released it, we have to protect the election infrastructure.”

Here's another excerpt from the article:

But in its chapter on the Obama response to the Russian attack on the election, Rhodes makes clear he bristled when he was told he was excluded from National Security Council deliberations in the summer of 2016 — purportedly because he was the White House’s designated liaison to the Clinton campaign. When he was told by his boss, Susan Rice, that he couldn’t participate in the debate over Russia, “I walked downstairs to my office and sank into my chair,” Rhodes writes in his book. “For eight years, I’d worked my way up to the place where I thought I’d always be in the room and now I was being kept out of the most important conversation of all. My mind raced with a mix of self-pity and self-blame.”
But Rhodes suggested that his exclusion might have made a difference because he — as well as former State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki — had sought to combat how the Russians had manipulated social media during the country’s military intervention in Ukraine, flooding the world with bogus accounts of the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysian airlines Flight 17 and other developments during the crisis in that country.
Obama officials as well as the U.S. intelligence community failed to understand how the Russians were taking their playbook from the Ukraine crisis and now deploying it against the United States, Rhodes said.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Grieving for Kate Spade

Kate Spade was part of our life when my daughters were in high school. 

Roz had to have a Kate Spade purse.  Ellen too, I think.  

At Nordstrom's, they would study the bright-colored plain purses with the name displayed so vividly on the outside.

Eventually meds and visits to psychiatrists became part of our lives along with trips to the mall to buy clothes.  I didn't realize that that Kate Spade was a real person and that these problems were part of her life too.

As a mother in West Los Angeles, I fought off the drugs and demons that attacked my kids: alcohol, anorexia, celebrity craziness, competition for sexiness, fashion wars, driving on freeways at age 16, keeping up with kids who were richer and more glamorous, getting into colleges that were good enough.

I didn't realize that even in the high echelons of New York fashion, girls and women faced the same terrors.

Today I grieve for Kate Spade.  Her brand will forever bear the imprint of her suicide, stamped on the outside of the bags like her name.

I can't stand knowing that she died by a scarf tied to a doorknob and around her neck. I shudder.  It's all here in this article by Vanessa Friedman, Matthew Schneier, and Jonah Engel Bromwich in the New York Times:

"Her bags... were just like her; colorful and unpretentious," they write. It was the 90s, and "the time of the handbag."  As a boomer, I never had interest in purses like that.  Canvas bags met all my needs. 

But in the fashion world, "the definition of a handbag was strictly European, all decades-old serious status and wealth."

Except that she grew up in Kansas and studied journalism at Arizona State University. 

With that kind of a pedigree, you can't break into socialite New York City, much less Europe.  But she did.  The cost of trying must have been great.

"Aside from Hollywood, no business is as seductive and brutish, as cruel and transactional as fashion," writes Maureen Callahan in the New York Post.

I grieve for Kate's 13-year-old daughter.  No child should have to face life after her mother's planned death.

I count all those years of difficult motherhood, trying to build my own life and career while nurturing children.  While doing a poor job of nurturing them, actually.

All those years of trying to make a marriage work long after the magic has worn off.  Rumors say Andrew Spade was seeking a divorce.

In the details of her death, Kate followed the suicide in 2014 of stylist L'Wren Scott: the scarf, the door knob.  Her husband, from whom she had been separated for two years, was in the house. 

She left a note for her daughter, telling her "Don't feel guilty.  Ask your dad."

She also left a foundation dedicated to "economic equality for women."

Has a male fashion designer committed suicide lately?  No.  

Therefore, I attribute her death not only to depression and bipolar illness but to inequalities still faced by women.

She is not alone.

She died on the fiftieth anniversary of Bobby Kennedy's death and on a day when Americans were asked to go to the polls and vote.  These weights hung heavy on her shoulders along with her own illness.  There comes a time when life is just too heavy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pro-Life, Anti-Gun

Pastor Rob Schenk was once a strong fighter against legal access to abortion, but now he's chosen a different battle.

Now he's fighting for life by working for limits on gun ownership.

Michel Martin interviewed him on NPR about his book: Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister's Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Thank you to Pastor Schenk for his book and to Michel Martin and NPR for highlighting his work.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Trauma of Voting

The headline was wrong on Steve Lopez's helpful survey of people who didn't vote today.

The situation is not "Apathy still rules despite the era of Trump."

Some of us have apathy because of the era of Trump.  

Steve captured our feeling in his sentence about Andrew Hernandez: 
"He's also a little disillusioned after voting for Hillary Clinton and watching Trump drive her to defeat."

AND after learning:
  • How much Russians interfered. 
  • How much the Trump team colluded with them.  
  • How fake news posted on Facebook was targeted at vulnerable people. 
  • How the Electoral College decreased the value of a California vote as well as the popular vote.

We Hillary voters should be outraged and fight bravely on, but energy is hard to sustain in the face of the daily onslaught of idiocy and dismantling of environmental protections, health care, decency for immigrants.

I studied my ballot and walked into my polling place only to be confronted by the question, "Are you pink?"  

I stared in disbelief.  I'm supposed to know what color I am?  Showing up with a driver’s license is not enough? I was supposed to read the fine print and know which table to approach. Bickering ensued.

Then it hit me: This is where the trauma of Nov. 8, 2016, happened.  I hadn't been back in that room since then. No wonder I didn't feel safe and confident.  

And I wasn't even one of the 120,000 LA County voters whose names were not on the roster. 

I will never again walk into a polling place.  I will vote by mail if I can regain the faith that voting matters. The era of feeling good about voting is over.  I'm 69 and really wanted a woman president.  Instead I have a philandering fool who conspired to steal the election.

It's not apathy I feel.  It's absolute despair that my act of voting will ever again make a difference.

Cakes for Christ's Sake

"Why doesn't the baker just do the cake and use it as an opportunity to tell them about Jesus?"

Thus spoke my Jewish friend Bob Goldman on the day after the Supreme Court ruled for the Denver baker in the same-sex wedding cake case.

So simple.  Exactly what Jesus would have done--bake the cake and use the encounter as an opportunity for communication and healing.

Somebody should open a bakery called Cakes for Christ's Sake and advertise as welcoming customers of all types.    

I liked the LA Times headline for the cake decision story:
Supreme Court rules for Christian cake baker but voices support for gay rights too

Bob owns more Bibles in various editions and original languages than I do.

"And I read them!" he adds.  

He's an LA veterinarian who campaigns to improve conditions for homeless animals that arrive in shelters and posts many photos of his four-legged patients on social media. 


  • Many dogs freaked out by fireworks end up in shelters around the Fourth of July.  
  • In the week before, more animals are euthanized than at any other time all year--to make room for the new arrivals.  
  • If you're thinking of adopting, do it in late June, early July.

Monday, June 4, 2018

When hope died... again.

Photo by Boris Yaro in the LA Times, June 1968

Another painful day of remembering 1968.

June 5.  Bobby Kennedy lying on the floor with a young busboy kneeling at his side.

50 years later, Juan Romero is 67 and still dealing with the feeling that if only he had done something differently, Kennedy would not have died.

Thank you to Steve Lopez for his full-page interview and portrait of that busboy--and for his snapshot of the hope we had in that year, before the two murders of Martin Luther King Jr. and RFK.

"Romero was tortured for years," writes Steve.

Steve also quotes part of the speech given by Bobby Kennedy in San Jose earlier in 1968.
“And if there is one overriding reality in this country, it is the danger that we have an erosion of a sense of national decency,” Kennedy said. “Make no mistake. Decency is at the heart of the matter.… Poverty in this country is indecent. Illiteracy is indecent. The death or maiming of brave young men in the swamps of Asia, that is also indecent.
“It is also indecent for a man to work with his back and with his hands in the valleys of California without hope of ever seeing his son enter a university.… It is indecent for the best of our young people to be driven to alienation and … the terrible exile of drugs and violence, to allow their hearts to wither in rage and with hatred.
“This in my judgment in the year 1968 is a time to create, not to destroy. This is a time for men to work … with a sense of decency and not with bitterness. This is a time to begin again, and that is why I run for president of the United States.”
Three months later, Kennedy was gone. Later that year, Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey for the presidency.

What a fine president RFK would have been!  What a contrast to the poor excuse for a president we have today.

How low we have fallen in electing a liar who opposes many of the things Bobby Kennedy stood for and died for.

See also "The Assassination of Robert Kennedy, as told 50 years later" by Colleen Shalby with photos:


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ireland Sheds Catholic Injustices

New York Times, May 26, 2018

Ireland is throwing off the oppressive yoke of the Roman Catholic Church.

💗In 1966, and earlier, an unmarried pregnant woman was usually shamed and coerced into giving up her baby.  

Dolores Quinlan was one of hundreds of babies whose mother was not only forced to give her up but whose name was erased from Dolores's birth certificate.

Through DNA testing, the two were finally reunited, now when Dolores is 51 years old.  

Her mother was forced to "put her hand on the Bible and swear to not trace me or talk about it again," said Dolores.

Thank you to Ed O'Loughlin and Megan Specia of the New York Times for this report.

💗In 2018, unmarried young women have a much better chance of keeping their babies, if that is their choice.  Their extended families do not carry such a heavy load of shame.  

Young men may even be outed and noticed as part of the problem.

💗In 2018, and for years earlier, unmarried young Irish women who chose not to raise a child had to find money to travel to England for an abortion.  

As of this week, women can obtain a legal abortion in Ireland.

View these two films about young women incarcerated in homes for unwed mothers in Ireland in past years and forced to work in the Magdalene Laundries:

The Magdalene Sisters


Note:  Mary Magdalene was cured of "seven demons."  She is not described as a fallen woman in the Gospels or letter of Paul.  All that is legend.  She and other women traveled with Jesus and the twelve and "provided for them out of their resources."  They were not even poor.  See Luke 8: 1-3.  

The woman who "is a sinner" in Luke 7 is nameless and does not become part of Jesus's group of followers.  

Another note: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

It's Depressing


I wake up, and the sinking feeling hits me again.

He is still president.

It's hard to leave behind the pleasant dream I was having.  

It's hard to face another day of smirking and lying and unjust actions in the White House.

I turn on the morning news.  

Kim Kardashian's request for a pardon for a grandmother is being ignored.

"Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother now in her early 60s, is more than two decades into a life sentence for a first-time conviction based on her role in a drug-trafficking case," says NBC.  

Instead, a money launderer will be pardoned.

Enter Dinesh D'Souza, sentenced in 2014 to five years probation for using straw donors to contribute to the Senate campaign of Wendy E. Long, who lost to Kirstin Gillibllrand in 2012.   

dt tweets this morning that he will pardon D'Souza.  Poor guy won't have to languish on probation for another half year.

Message to Michael Cohen: Don't worry.   

Message to people serving long sentences for drug offenses: screw you.

Meanwhile, the stock market is falling as our allies increase tariffs on things we import.

Another excruciating day in the 45th presidency.  


Update:  The president commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson on June 6, 2018, and she was reunited with her family, including younger ones she had never met.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Feeling unwanted and unloved...

Peeking inside someone else’s life is something we all want to do, especially if it’s someone we admire and look up to.

Melanie Springer Mock gives us this opportunity in her memoir, Worthy: Finding Yourself in a World Expecting Someone Else (Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2018).

She has written, co-written, or edited four earlier books:
  • Writing Peace: The Unheard Voices of Great War Mennonite Objectors (Cascadia, 2003); 
  • Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World (Barclay, 2011);   
  • The Spirit of Adoption: Writers on Religion, Adoption, Faith, and More (Cascade Books,  
  • If Eve Only Knew: Freeing Yourself from Biblical Womanhood and Becoming All God Means for You to Be with Kendra Weddle (Chalice, 2015).

Her articles have appeared in The Nation, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Christianity Today.  With Kendra Weddle, she writes a blog: Ain’t I a Woman? De-Constructing Christian Images, which is part of the Christian Century blogs network.

She’s medium tall, pretty, runs marathons, and even takes on a triathlon event or two.  She teaches English at George Fox University, 26 miles southwest of Portland.  She’s married and has two adopted sons.  (How do you write a book when you have a full-time job and two teenagers?)

In short, she’s done everything I ever aspired to—and done it well.  I know her from EEWC-Christian Feminism Today, a group of which we are both members. 

Imagine how surprised I was to learn that she’s been plagued by a life-long sense of not being good enough—not being “worthy.”

It began because she was a preacher’s kid and didn’t think or act in ways that her church community felt she should. 

In her teen years it got worse.  Because her super-curly hair was hard to tame, she kept it short.  She had an older brother and money was scarce, so she often didn’t wear the kinds of clothes or make-up that would announce her as a girl.  She was often mistaken for a boy and even ordered out of girls’ restrooms a few times.

By her mid-20s all her friends were marrying, but she hadn’t even really dated.  She felt unloved and unlovable. 

All this was a great surprise to me because I respect her so much.  My own experience is so different: eagerly complying with teenage female stereotypes, being suspicious of marriage, feeling ambivalent about whether to have children, and too often imagining myself superior to others.

Her honest admission of feeling unworthy and lonely is touching, and she makes a passionate case for Christians to stop inflicting expectations on others. 

Another plus: Melanie links her personal experiences to social analysis of gender roles and expectations, especially in the church. 
  • ·        Why did her brother get to ride the lawn mower with her grandfather, while she had to help her mother with cooking? 
  • ·        Why was she laughed at for saying she wanted to play on the middle school football team? 
  • ·        Why couldn’t a woman witness from the pulpit at her church?

At many points she launches into biblical analysis too.  There should not be a set of standards to determining who can be part of a church and who can’t: “…all are inherently worthy,” welcomed at God’s table. 

Some churches reject another group of Christians as “not biblical enough” or “too gay” or not correct on some political position.  We need to know that all are worthy of God’s love and get better at tolerating difference.

Melanie gives a great example of the need to stop thinking that the Bible’s positions on social issues are obvious.  In 1960, Bob Jones Sr. preached that “All Orthodox, Bible-believing Christians agree on one thing; and that is, whatever the Bible says is so.”

But his sermon was about the Bible as supporting racial segregation.

With each other in ‘interpretive communities,’ we need to explore the Bible as “a rich text that demands our attention and invites our interactions.”

We must have “only one objective: ensuring that our expectation for others allows them to be exactly who God created them to be.”

Congratulations, Melanie, on a great contribution through this book.  Because you're twenty years younger than I am, I have hope for women in the future as well as for our churches.

Thanks also for the shout out to Christian Feminism Today for curing your loneliness and to our gatherings for being a redemptive community (pp. 237-39).