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Doing it all for others (at least some of the time) & the #genuinequotient [*props to James Michael Devitt*]

0genuine-stamp-1Yesterday a friend of mine posted a video of Victoria Osteen on Facebook. In it she said, “When you worship (and obey) God, we’re not doing it for God, we’re doing it for ourself, because that’s what makes God happy!” The comment section was predictable and contained the usual comments saying things like:

Yeah, there’s just really not much that comes from that man that’s biblical… if we’re to take God’s word literally, that guy’s gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do when he leaves this earth.

It’s all about positive thinking with them and happiness and bunny rabbits and lollipops when people need to hear good old fashion hell, fire and brimstone again!

That’s all America needs is an ‘excuse’ to be selfish bc we don’t have enough of that already… And I think they have the largest congregation in America.
How about do it bc u want to – please God. Surely that’s what she ‘meant to say’ – sigh…

Today in the car all of this came back to mind and I started examining what I believe about this and what my motivation is when I do the things I do. Here is what I came up with…

The good that I do, the love that I share, I don’t do that “for God”. God and I are already cool. Because he loves me no matter what (and before I did anything good or bad) he sent his son, not to condemn me but to save me and everyone else. I also don’t do it “for myself”. Sorry Victoria, for me loving people often isn’t easy and/or doesn’t make me happy. The good that I do (when my motives are right) I do for others. Jesus gave us two commandments; love God and love each other. Paul later distills these two down to one, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” When we do this one thing we fulfil all the law including loving God. After all, how does God say people will know that we are his followers? By all the stuff we do “for him”? Nope. By how happy we are? Nope. He says followers of Jesus will be known by one thing. L-O-V-E. So how is that going?

This week I was party to a Facebook conversation in which the term “genuine quotient” was thrown out as a compliment. Kent and I thought it was an excellent and very descriptive term so I am totally advocating that we, lovelies, make it a thing. Here is my attempt at defining “genuine quotient.” “Genuine” means authentic or sincere, what something or someone truly is. “Quotient” is the degree or the magnitude of a specified characteristic or quality. If we put these together we have:

Genuine Quotient – The degree or magnitude to which someone is genuine or sincere.

It is my contention that people have a pretty good bullshit meter when it comes to the #GQ (catchy, huh?). People know when my motivation is love and care for others vs. doing something to make myself happy or look good to someone else vs. doing something “for God” (as if God needed me to “do something” for him) either to earn his approval or stay out of hell. When we do things out of obligation or selfishness we will never be known by our love even if our actions seem good on the surface. Like I said, b.s. meters yada yada. However, it is my contention that when my motivation is love for my neighbor, I raise my genuine quotient. And isn’t that a good thing?

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Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

image

  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

R*E*S*P*E*C*T find out what it means to me.

A friend my husband attended law school with posted an article on Facebook this morning. He was lamenting the fact that people from the liberal side of the marriage equality debate did not treat people who disagree with them with respect. He was disappointed that civil discourse seemed impossible.

The article he posted appeared on The Daily Signal and was called, My Exchange with Two New York Times Writers on Marriage Equality and Civility by Ryan T. Anderson. In the article Mr. Anderson opens with this:

Can people respect each other and treat one another civilly even while disagreeing about marriage? No, according to New York Times domestic correspondent Josh Barro. As The Daily Signal reported, on viewpoints that Barro considers “anti-LGBT”, he thinks that “we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”

The problem is that much of what Barro considers “anti-LGBT” is simply pro-marriage and pro-common-good.

This was my response.

I think what ires people so much on the pro marriage equality side is that no one is asking the people on the other side to give up what they already have but merely to extend to others the benefits and responsibilities that come with marriage. What I think people on the pro traditional marriage side fail to recognize is that in supporting that position they are effectively denying that LGBT persons are equal to them and that their love for and commitment to their spouse is just as valid. I humbly submit that if someone told me that my marriage was somehow less valid than someone else’s and decided to purposely fight against allowing me to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that go along with it that I would not exactly be in the mood to extend to them the respect they “deserve”.

I for one always try to treat those I am debating with dignity and respect and try to disagree agreeably. However, do we think the slaves owe respectful dialog to masters? Do we think interracial couples owe respect to KKK members? Do we think Jews owed respectful dialog to the Nazis? Do we think abused persons owe respectful dialog to their abusers? When an LGBT person is denied the right to be in the hospital with their spouse, when they cannot be buried next to one another at a national cemetery, when they can be fired in many states just for being gay. When they are constantly told by people who fight against their right to marry or to live their lives with the same freedoms, rights and responsibilities of heterosexual americans. I think after a while you get tired of having “respectful” dialog. According to the dictionary respect means:

“a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
synonyms: esteem, regard, high opinion, admiration, reverence

Although I think treating someone with respect even when you disagree is honorable, asking someone to treat the person who sees them as less human and worthy of fewer rights with esteem is a tall order. What I find interesting is that the very people whose position is one of disrespect are the ones demanding that their position be respected.

It reminds me of this recent article on Formerly Fundie
http://www.patheos.com/…/so-listen-its-not-religious…/

The article on Formerly Fundie is called, So Listen– It’s Not Religious Discrimination Just Because You Can’t Discriminate. And in the article Benjamin L. Corey states,

“It’s not discrimination when we are prevented from doing the discriminating. It’s not persecution when we are prevented from doing the persecuting. It’s not bullying when we’re told that we can’t bully others.”

I would take that one step further and say in this case, it is ironic that people want LGBT persons and their allies to treat them with respect while debating an issue that on its face is disrespectful to LGBT people. No one on the pro marriage equality side is saying that anyone on the pro traditional marriage side has to change their position, merely that they must afford the same rights to every citizen of the United States. Time after time, courts are ruling in favor of marriage equality. They are doing it because that is what our Constitution demands. 

How can you respect my opinion if you believe I am wrong? You can’t. How can I respect your opinion if I believe you are wrong? I can’t. What I can respect is your right to your thoughts and beliefs given to you by the Constitution.  When people demand to be respected it is often because they are upset that the other person believes their position to not merit that respect. If you do not think my arguments or opinions have any merit I do not expect you to respect them. If you think I am wrong I expect you to try and convince me. I think what people actually mean when they demand respectful dialog is that they want you to agree that their position carries equal weight. I’ve got news for you. I do not believe all positions are equal. If you’re being honest, you don’t either. I think that is why debates on these topics get so heated. All positions are not equal. Some things are right and some things are wrong. We may disagree about what those are. But one thing is for sure, if we are being truthful, none of us truly respects an argument we believe is oppressive to ourselves or others. That is really what is at stake here. We have two sides who believe their rights are being infringed. 

To quote rob bell from part 44 of his What is the Bible series on tumblr,

“…this freedom works both ways. We’re free to affirm truth wherever we find it, and we’re also free to deny that which needs to be denied. If it’s wrong or unjust or twisted, we call it whatever it is. This includes religious things, pastors, and of course things that go on in churches under the name of Jesus.

 

(Some people are crazy and they make no sense. They don’t help you grow and they spread all kinds of hate and they’re toxic. Don’t listen to them.)

 

Some things that are labeled Christian aren’t true, and some things that aren’t labeled Christian are true. Some atheists say lots of things that are true, and some Christians are full of shit.”

One last thought, demanding respect (a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements) from someone who adamantly believes you are trying to deny them human rights equal to your own seems a bit brazen. 

Really Joel?

JoelO

 

I saw this in my news feed on the Facebook this morning. It was posted by a lovely and well meaning friend. I am confident it was meant as encouragement for her friends who were experiencing tough times. Most days I would scroll right by but not today, I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because of our recent scare with our son’s ruptured appendix and emergency surgery. Maybe it is the war raging in the Middle East. Or maybe it is the Ebola outbreak in Africa. But today, I just could not allow it to pass by unchallenged and uncommented upon.

Here is the comment I posted to my friend:

What about child abuse? What about people who starve to death? What about rape? What about when your child dies? I could go on and on. I apologize for being so negative but when I read something like this it just seems so glib and dismissive. Seriously, what is God’s purpose for genocide? Or the holocaust? I personally don’t think a God like that is worth serving.

Seriously, how in the world do we lay such horrendous things at the feet of God? What kind of fucked up God is that who would for some “purpose” allow terror, destruction and death? Jesus says those things come from one place and it isn’t God. (John 10) Jesus says that he is light and in him is no darkness. (1John 1) Jesus says that he is love. (1John 4) Genocide isn’t love. Jesus says he is the author of life. (Acts 3) I would rather worship a God who is there with me in my suffering than the cause of it. That is the God I see in the scriptures. This is the good news, that God did not leave us alone to experience evil he came down and experienced it himself. (Philippians 2) The good news is that love can win in the end. That someday all will be made right. (Revelation 21) And that until then he is here with us in it. Suffering with us. Just like the creation we are all “groaning” together waiting for that day. (Romans 8)

To borrow a thought from Rob Bell, often I find that when somebody says they don’t believe in God, and I ask them to tell me about the God they don’t believe in it turns out I don’t believe in that God, either. Here is what I think. I think a lot of people who want to believe are turned off by a God and a people who say that their God is a bloody, vengeful, narcissistic, genocidal maniac. Well, if that is my choice, to either worship that God or no God at all, I pick no God at all. Fortunately that is not my choice. I worship the God who is all love, who is unselfish, who is for humanity and not against it, who is light devoid of any darkness, who recoils at violence done in his name, who never forces himself on anyone, who loves all, who wants all to be saved, who is making all things new.

 

Links:

Rob Bell: What is the Bible Series

You’re Damn Right I Believe Another Gospel

#anothergospel immigration, contraception and patriotism edition

What If? Would We?

Anne Lamott

A Rude Response: Lessons in missing the point.

So there is a video that has gone viral this week of a Dad’s response to the song Rude by Magic!. So far I have had several people post links to it in my time line. The problem with both the original song and the tongue-in-cheek response to it is they both miss the point entirely.

Here are the lyrics to the original song:

Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet, all the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old fashioned man yeah yeah

‘Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life? Say yes, say yes
‘Cause I need to know
You say I’ll never get your blessing till the day I die
Tough luck my friend but the answer is no!

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don’t you know I’m human too
Why you gotta be so rude
I’m gonna marry her anyway

Marry that girl
Marry her anyway
Marry that girl
Yeah no matter what you say
Marry that girl
And we’ll be a family

Why you gotta be so rude

I hate to do this, you leave no choice
Can’t live without her
Love me or hate me we will be boys
Standing at that alter
Or we will run away
To another galaxy you know
You know she’s in love with me
She will go anywhere I go

Hook-Chorus-Chorus- etc

Here are the lyrics to the response:

Saturday morning came without warning
Woke me up from my bed
Seeking permission to marry my princess
Son, what’s wrong with your big head
It’s the first time I’ve met you, why would I let you
Run off with my baby girl?
Get back in your Pinto. It’s time that you go.
The answer is no.

You say you want my daughter for the rest of your life
Well you’ve got to make more than burgers and fries
Get out your mama’s basement and go get you a life
Son you’re 28 don’t you think that it’s time?

Why you gotta call me rude?
I’m doin’ what a dad should do
Keep her from a fool like you
And if you marry her anyway

Marry that girl,
I’m gonna punch your face
Marry that girl,
I’ll make you go away
Marry that girl,
In the bottom of a lake.

You may not get this so let me explain
Cause you need to undersatnd
This is forever, she deserves better
She really needs a grown man
I know what you’re thinkin’
You think you’ll still take her
Give it your best shot
I may be a Christian
But I’ll go to prison
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time

Hook-Chorus

The answer is no
So why don’t you go away?

Did you see it? Or should I say did you not see it? WHERE IS THE WOMAN IN BOTH OF THESE SONGS?????  Both of these songs are about two men making a decision and coming to an agreement about what will happen in this woman’s life WITHOUT ANY INPUT FROM THE WOMAN. The most worrisome lyrics in both songs imply that this is some weak ass woman who has no clue what she is doing and needs the two men to decide for her.

 “Can I have your daughter?”
(Not can we have your blessing or your permission but, “Can I have your daughter” like she is property to be transferred.)

“You know she’s in love with me. She will go anywhere I go.”
(This can be a beautiful thing if you say to someone else I will follow you anywhere. However, in the song he is saying it more like, I can take her anywhere I want and she will go with me and you will lose her. It seems like a power trip.)

“I’m gonna punch your face
I’ll make you go away
In the bottom of a lake”

“I may be a Christian,
But I’ll go to prison.
I’m not scared of doin’ hard time.”
(So Christian dad just wants you to know (in all love) if you insist on marrying his daughter and “taking her” he will have to kill you.)

“you think you’ll still take her”
(Again with the “taking”, as if she is an object he can just take against her will. Obviously she is not thinking clearly if she chooses a mate Daddy doesn’t like.)

A while back I wrote a post called, Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter. At the time it was a response to the rise of so called “Purity Balls”. In it I said, among other things,

My husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice…

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”

 

 

#anothergospel immigration, contraception and patriotism edition

If the fertilized egg in the female American citizen is of more value to you than the Guatemalan child who has just crossed the border illegally…

If you believe Jesus would build a fence and a 130 million dollar church…

If you can believe that your business is a person and has more of a right to its beliefs than the actual humans who work for you…

If you see no irony in the same people harassing women for terminating a pregnancy AND telling a bus full of kids to go back to a country where their lives are in danger and that no one wants them…

If you think your interpretation of the Bible and reproductive science is more important than mine because you are my boss and you own the company…

If you believe love would sacrifice children to send a message or refuse to bake a cake…

If you believe Jesus would send some kids away so more wouldn’t come…

If you believe in profiting from contraceptives but not providing them…

If you believe God supports reproductive freedom for men but not women…

If you believe patriotism = Christianity…

If you believe the right to life begins at conception but ends at the southern border…

You’re damn right I believe another gospel.

birth control

SCOTUS has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. I have seen primarily two types of reactions. On the one hand are my friends who see this as good news, a sort of mandate that will open the door to challenging all sorts of parts of the ACA. On the other hand are my friends who are disappointed with the Court’s decision this morning.

To all my friends, no matter your take on today’s ruling, I offer the following thoughts:

  1. This is a very narrow decision applying only to closely held corporations. A closely held corporation is a corporation where less than 5 individuals hold more than half of the shares. They are private companies and are not publicly held.
  1. This decision leaves the door open for the government to pick up the slack and pay for contraceptives themselves using tax dollars, including the tax dollars of the owners of Hobby Lobby.  Congress could also choose to impose a small tax on large corporations to make up for the coverage. Alito also noted in the majority opinion that employees of these companies could still obtain birth control through an accommodation introduced by President Obama for employees of religiously affiliated nonprofits. This program allows for the insurance companies to provide the coverage while not involving the employer.
  1. Even though Hobby Lobby has won this battle, it may lead to them losing the broader war. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is only a small step in that direction. In other words, someday when we look back at this decision, we may see that it directly contributed to America eventually adopting a single payer system.

BONUS: I do find it interesting that the court was quick to point out that this decision only applies to the birth control mandate and does not apply to other treatments that raise life and death questions, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions. They also made it clear that the ruling was not a free pass for companies to opt out of any law they consider incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Where do I stand personally on the decision of the court today? I will leave you with the words of a woman far more eloquent and learned than I, The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said in her blistering dissent,

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. “

 

Additional Reading:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eggh45efjj/top-20-largest-private-companies-in-america-2/

http://wordofawoman.com/2012/11/14/why-christian-companies-corporate-conscience-should-be-clear/

http://wordofawoman.com/2014/01/24/mike-huckabee-a-lesson-in-missing-the-point/

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