2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 48,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Euthanasia: Life and Death in Ohio -or- Why is my grandmother shown less mercy than my pet?

FullSizeRender (3)That lady on the left is my beautiful, strong, independent, tough and loving Grandma, Doris Morr (the handsome guy on the right is my Grandpa but that is a story for another day). Once upon a time she was quite a force to be reckoned with. She took joy in the small things: homegrown vegetables, a good game of cards with friends, family gatherings and cookies for breakfast! She was amazing and generous and taught me a lot about life and living well. It was a priviledge to know her and to be loved by her.

So it pains me to tell you my lovelies, that as we sit here chatting, my Grandmother is slowly dying in hospice. Let’s be honest, she has been slowly dying for several years now. And my question to you is, how is this the humane or right thing to do? And please, don’t give me some platitude about playing God. We crossed that bridge a long freaking time ago when we started performing surgery and taking antibiotics. I mean, we transplant organs, install defibrillators on airplanes, and a million other things. Hell, we even purify our water, pasteurize our milk, and use refrigeration in our efforts to cheat death. Sorry, we decided to cheat death a long time ago. Why the hell do we have such a hard time cheating life just a little bit?

More to the point, why am I allowed to end the suffering of my beloved pet but not my much, much, MUCH more beloved Grandmother? Why must she continue to suffer when no one I know would make their pet suffer even half as much for a few days? My Grandmother has been suffering for years. And even as I sit here waiting on the news that she has passed, I am praying that it will come sooner rather than later. Honestly, I will find her death a not so merciful relief.  In the dictionary we define mercy as, “compassion shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to harm.” In her case, (and millions of others) rather than show compassion we have opted to continue doing her harm, day after day, month after month and year after year. Think about it, we think it is okay to stop giving her all medications besides those for pain. We think it is okay to stop giving her food and water. We will give her enough pain meds to keep her out of pain and in la-la land but not enough to end her pain for good. We will allow her to; nay, we will make sure she dies a slow (hopefully pain free) death, after having helped her to continue living for years in a miserable state. Why?

Why do we continue to deceive ourselves into thinking anyone wants to or needs to live this way? What kind of twisted logic must we use? Where is our humanity?

Listen, I do not and will not lay the blame for this on anyone; not the doctors, not the nurses, not hospice, not lawmakers, and certainly not the family. After all, no one besides the patient suffers like the family does in these situations. What I will do, however, is call on all of us to embrace mercy, compassion, and empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of my beloved Grandma, Doris Morr. Is that how you want to go out? Slowly starving to death after spending years in a nursing home unable to care for your own basic needs? I ask you again, is that how you want to go out? I sure as hell don’t. It is too late for my grandma, but for the love of she and all of our loved ones and even ourselves, can we please change the system? The one we have now sucks.

Why can’t Ferguson look more like my driveway?

bballWhy can’t the world of young men look less like Ferguson and more like the basketball game in my driveway? At this moment, my son who is as European American white as you can get is currently playing basketball with his friends: His black friends; His Hispanic friends; His Arabic friends; His white friends; Or as he likes to call them, “his friends”. There is no judgment on our makeshift court about your family, your culture or your looks. “Do you ball?” Is the only question that matters. No one is in any danger here except of maybe skinning a knee. This. What is happening in my driveway right now gives me hope for the future. Hope for Dr. King’s future where the streets of any city in the United States are as safe for any one of these boys as my driveway is today. Sadly this is far from what is true for most of the boys who are out there, on my driveway…right now. These beautiful boys do not possess the privilege my son does because he happened to be born a white man. They cannot feel as safe as he does walking down the streets of their own community. They are not afforded the same benefit of the doubt my son gets simply because of the skin that covers his bones. Many of the parents of these young men have already had to have “the talk” with them, and not the one about sex; the one about how to navigate the world as a man of color. This breaks my heart. These are good boys. They are every bit as deserving of safety as my son. But the world is not the same place for them as it is for my son. My friends, THIS. SHOULD. NOT. BE. Let’s do something to change it. We must if dare to call ourselves human.

Bruce Springsteen and the Veterans Day Shuffle

As you probably know this week marked the 96th observance of Veterans Day here in the United States. It was a day set aside by then President Wilson who said,

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

In more recent years “Armistice Day” was changed to Veterans Day, a day set aside to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans. This year HBO, Starbucks and Chase sponsored a concert on the National Mall to commemorate the occasion called The Concert for Valor. There were 10 acts scheduled to perform from various genres, including (the very american) Bruce Springsteen (incidentally, my husband’s all time favorite).

During his set, Bruce, accompanied by John Fogerty himself, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown sang the Fogerty classic, Fortunate Son, a well known Vietnam era song.  Do you hear that? It is the sound of all conservative hell breaking loose. Of course all the outraged conservatives took to the interwebz and the airwaves to begin accusing The Boss of being disrespectful, unpatriotic and downright anti-american. Which. Of course. Is nonsense. John Fogerty probably said it best when asked about the song choice.

“Years ago, an ultraconservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as ‘un-American,'” he continues. “That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam. As a man who was drafted and served his country during those times, I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve.”

Unamerican? You don’t say. Sounds familiar.

In case you are unfamiliar with the pro-soldier, anti-war hymn, here are the lyrics:

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue
And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no Senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the tax men come to the door
Lord, the house look a like a rummage sale, yes

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no, no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no military son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one

Shockingly, Bruce hardly caught any slack for singing Born in the USA which expresses essentially the same sentiment. In the words of Greil Marcus

Born in the U.S.A.” is about the refusal of the country to treat Vietnam veterans as something more than nonunion workers in an enterprise conducted off the books. It is about the debt the country owes to those who suffered the violation of the principles on which the country was founded, and by which it was justified itself ever since.” Given that the takehome message of the Concert for Valor was to not forget our veterans after they get back from combat — celebrity emcees spent much of their speeches pointing viewers to foundations aimed at employing and aiding vets here at home — “Born in the U.S.A.” is a perfect fit for the theme.

Now, this is where the fun actually begins ladies and gentlemen. These same ultraconservative government folks who are the first to decry songs like these decry them because they are the people the songs are about. Let’s have a little look see and find out the many times Republican lawmakers have stood squarely in opposition to the best interests of veterans. Some examples:

S.1982- Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. The $21 billion legislation was supposed to improve health, education and other benefits for veterans. Instead, it failed to get the 60 votes needed to stop a threatened filibuster. That same month, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimated that “close to 200,000 veterans are among the 2 million unemployed workers who’ve lost access to federal jobless benefits since Congress allowed Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) to expire at the end of last year.

H.R. 466-Wounded Veteran Job Security Act: A bill that would have prevented employers from terminating veterans who were getting treatment for injuries suffered while fighting for our country.

H.R. 1168-Veterans Retraining Act: Would have helped veterans find jobs and provide training for them while they sought employment.  

H.R. 1171-Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization: Would have helped homeless vets get back on their feet by providing temporary training for employment and programs to help them get off the streets.

H.R. 1172: No fancy name, would have just put a section on the VA website of schools currently offering scholarships for veterans.

H.R. 1293-Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009: Would have helped those overcoming injuries sustained while fighting for our country improve their living conditions.

H.R. 1803-Veterans Business  Center Act: This would have set up centers veterans could have visited that would have helped them better plan our future employment and business opportunities.

H.R. 2352-Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act: A combination of other bills killed in Congress by Republicans—that was once again killed by Republicans in Congress. –

Honestly, I think Bruce hit the nail on the head with his song choice for Veterans Day. It seems to me that it is the Republicans who like to play the Veterans day shuffle. In the imortal words of the patriots Springsteen and Fogerty, “

Yeah, some folks inherit star spangled eyes.
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord.
And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Oh, they only answer, more, more, more, oh

Comment, Response & Bending the Arc

This week I re-posted a couple of posts from my archives seeing as I thought they were relevant to current events. One of these posts was one I wrote back in March of 2013 called The Bible trumps the law of the United States?  You might want to go read it right now so you know what Melissa and I are talking about. Go ahead, I’ll wait….

Back? Alrighty then. Now that we are all on the same page, this morning I woke up to find the following comment in my inbox:

Melissa commented on The Bible trumps the law of the United States?

I enjoyed reading much of what you had to say here. I used to believe a lot of what you are referring to: i.e. the OT law. Until I educated myself, properly, on it. Many misunderstand OT law, so this is not finger pointing…

Remember when Jesus said things like, “You have heard it said”… Those ‘rules’ were put there TO protect women. Moses allowed many of these relationships, as the leader, and Moses sinned many times. God never condoned any of this: rape, incest, concubines, etc. For example: Men were not allowed to rape, and leave. They were required to own up to their responsibility. Imagine if that happened today?! There would be a LOT less rape, I think? I could happily explain all these, but I’ll only do one more: The brother-in-law marrying a widow, if no child was born. The women back then were married to the family – as such, she wanted to be taken in and protected. Much like we don’t understand lots of tribal marriages today, similar thing. However (and this is the biggest part that is missed) – She had to agree to the marriage. If she did not, she was not obligated. He also had to agree to the marriage, too, btw… :( It’s even in the text.

Remember, a lot of the Bible is what happened Historically. Much of it was not, “The Bible says so, so let’s all have 20 spouses…”

Lastly, you stated that you believe homosexuality to not be sin. You also claim to be Christian. Unfortunately, the Christ that you say you follow does not agree with you. You must therefore not be following the Jesus of the Bible, or you must study it and repent. You are teaching others to denounce the very Word of God.

Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle, does not mean you are a phobic or a hater. Homosexuality is equal to beastiality and lying and witchcraft… We all sin, but one who chooses to do so in the face of God, boasts and is habitual to it – Let’s sum it up with a great quote from 1 John 1:5-10
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

None of us are made right with God by being perfect. None of us are or can be. Let’s praise Him for being gracious, and loving us at the place we are. And let’s not condone sin to make the sinner feel better about himself. God can take care of that. He’s big enough. :)

This was my response:

First, as far as OT laws being there to “protect women”, You state,

“Moses allowed many of these relationships, as the leader, and Moses sinned many times. God never condoned any of this: rape, incest, concubines, etc. For example: Men were not allowed to rape, and leave. They were required to own up to their responsibility. Imagine if that happened today?! There would be a LOT less rape, I think?”

Oh joy! Men were not allowed to rape and leave. Yay! Now I get to marry my rapist. I feel so protected and valued! Do you actually believe this would lead to less rape? I hardly think so. Under this system, if a man saw a woman he wanted he would just rape her and then she would have to marry him. Lovely. How about this solution. Keep your effing hands to yourself, no means no, yes means yes, and you do not get to rape anyone for any reason even if you plan to stick around and marry them. UGH.

Last in this section, you state:

“The brother-in-law marrying a widow, if no child was born. The women back then were married to the family – as such, she wanted to be taken in and protected. Much like we don’t understand lots of tribal marriages today, similar thing. However (and this is the biggest part that is missed) – She had to agree to the marriage. If she did not, she was not obligated. He also had to agree to the marriage, too, btw… :( It’s even in the text.”

Why were women married to the family? Because they were property and not considered free moral agents. Indeed they were not considered equal in any way.

Okay, next topic…

On the subject of simultaneously being a follower of Jesus as well as an ally you say that Jesus does not agree with me. Hmmm. Really? Can you provide the chapter and verse where Jesus says ANYTHING at all about homosexuality? You cannot. Why? Because he never discusses the topic even one time. For more on this point I recommend checking out my series on the subject which addresses every passage in the Bible that “Christians” use to condemn gay people or at the very least “gay behavior”. You can find links to all the posts in the series on the conclusion post found here:http://wordofawoman.com/2012/04/16/homosexuality-and-god-conclusion/ I will not go into all of them on this thread one by one as it would take waaaay to long and I have already written on this subject extensively.

Second, the phrase “disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle”… I would like to challenge you on that. The “gay lifestyle” is as varied and individual as the “straight lifestyle”. When you refer to this “lifestyle” are you referring to my sister-in-law and her wife who both go to work every day, pay their taxes, enjoy eating out and doting on their two cats and one dog? I am thinking no. Hugh Hefner and Pope Francis are both heterosexual. Does that mean they live the same lifestyle? It is time we retired that phrase as the “nice”, “Christian” way to say, “Ewwwwwwww.” For more on this I suggest the tremendous post by Justin Lee of the Gay Christian Network called, No I am Not in the “Gay Lifestyle”. and Neither is Anyone Else. You can find it here:

Next, you say, “Disagreeing with someone’s lifestyle, does not mean you are a phobic or a hater. Homosexuality is equal to beastiality and lying and witchcraft…” Really, do you seriously not believe that statement to be hateful? I am guessing it sounds pretty freaking hateful to almost any gay person you ask. Why? Because equating who someone loves to beastiality, lying and witchcraft is not only inherently hateful is is also just plain mean. To push that off on God by saying, if God said it in the Bible it is the loving thing is not only a cop out it is a slander against Jesus.

Lastly you assume that I am condoning “sin to make the sinner feel better about himself”. I am doing nothing of the sort. I already stated I do not believe homosexuality to be a sin. How then can I be condoning something I do not believe to be sinful to make someone feel better? Ironically it seems more like you are condoning your own prejudices by justifying them with scriptures never meant to condemn the LGBT follower of Christ.

I do sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read and comment and I do hope that you will read the links I suggested. I wish you well and pray that your eyes would be opened, that you would be filled with empathy for your fellow human beings and that you would “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”.

I am so tired of well meaning Christians slandering Jesus by saying he condemned LGBT folks and that he views their loving relationships as exactly the same as beastiality, lying and witchcraft. I cannot stand by without speaking up and attempting to help bend my little part of the invisible arc of human history toward justice. To quote Dr. Larry Brilliant (great name, right?) in his commencement address to the graduates of the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013:

Whether it was Dr. King or someone else who first imagined the arc of the moral universe bending towards justice, you can be damn sure they did not mean that history bends toward justice all on its own. Look around you. It is far from automatic. It is a battle for the poor, a battle for justice, a battle to lift the health of the public.

Here is what I ask of you: Imagine that arc of history that Reverend King inspired us with. It’s right here. The arc of the universe needs your help to bend towards justice. It will not happen on its own. The arc of history will not bend towards justice without you bending it… I want you to leap up, to jump up and grab that arc of history with both hands, and yank it down, twist it, and bend it. Bend it towards fairness… bend it towards justice!

The electorate has spoken and they are old -or- We must wake the sleeping giant.

Last night Kent and I sat at our local watering hole with three of our friends who are in their 20s and 30s. One of them voted, two of them did not. My friend Josh, who did vote, explained that he totally understands the people of his generation who stay home even if he feels compelled to vote himself. Honestly what Josh had to say reminded me a lot of the lyrics from John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change:

Now we see everything that’s going wrong

With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
We keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change
It’s hard to beat the system
When we’re standing at a distance
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change
I do understand that feeling of apathy and helplessness and part of me occasionally wants to give in to the fatalistic voice that whispers that we are powerless to change the status quo. However, as I pointed out last night, we must fight the urge to remain uninformed and uninvolved. Young people most of all must fight the urge to let the older generations take the wheel while remaining content to sit in the back seat. I tried to explain that when young people, in this case millennials, stay home from the polls they allow the older people to make the choices for them about how the society is governed.
This year is a shining (and very current) example. Today Dylan Scott posted an article on talkingpointsmemo.com in which he stated that,
The disparity between the under-30 and over-60 was the widest it’s been in a decade…The seniors comprised 37 percent of the electorate; young people made up 12 percent.
You guys that is a 25% difference. 
Wake up people under 30. Once upon a time you wanted to get out on your own so that no one could tell you how to live your life. Now that you are out on your own you seem content to allow others to decide what kind of country you should live in without even so much as a peep at the voting booth. How does that make any sense? How will things ever change? Why do you insist on withholding the wisdom and passion of youth from the rest of us. Make no mistake, the world (and the country) need to hear from you.
Interestingly, in Presidential election years the percentages of young and old voters are much closer together. For example, in the 2008 election there were 23% over 60 and 18% under 30. In 2012 those numbers were 25 & 19. I think this is because people perceive the presidential election to be more important even though local, state, and congressional elections often have a much bigger impact on day to day life.
I have news for you under 30s, you have way more power to affect change than you know and the establishment wants to keep it that way. When you, the younger generation realize the power you have you will shake the political world. And the world and dare I say it the United States is in desperate need of a shake up. Personally, I love the millennial generation. They are full of passion; however, they, like the rest of us, want to be inspired~want to feel there is hope. After all, without hope it is easy to despair. Despair soon turns to apathy and apathy to inaction. And inaction? Well that is what the people in power want most of all from those under 30. Why? Because those in power have it pretty good under the current system and there is no reason for them to want things to change. It is up to us, no, it is up to you to make it happen. You are our best hope.
Sadly, I think many in my generation (I’m 45), and even those older than me have given up on the dream of change. We, like you, have begun to allow the idea that we cannot affect significant change to take hold. But here is the secret. TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THINGS. You can change things. I know this because I have seen it. I know this because I have experienced it. I know this because I have lived it. The problem is it will take all of us. As we discussed in the pub last night, it will take the whole generation banding together and saying, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”.
I will leave you with this, lovelies. I honestly believe the Democratic Party best aligns with the values of inclusiveness, liberty, justice and equality that this generation cares about. But if they want to have any hope of mobilizing the untapped passion and brilliance of this generation, they need to stop marginalizing, patronizing and underestimating them. They will also need to stop preaching to the over 60 choir and start speaking directly to the heart of the millennials. Honestly, I believe that if you truly get what matters to millennials and can articulate it you will be reignite the passion of the progressively minded of every generation. We want to believe change is possible too. We want to hope too. We once had the advantage of being young. George Bernard Shaw said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I like to think that isn’t true. To me youth is only wasted when we fail to see its value: passion, energy, and a fresh perspective.
And now a note to the politicians, I feel I must warn you. The bullshit meters on this generation are really strong, they can spot a con job a mile away. And, when you do wake this sleeping giant you better be ready for the ground to shake under their feet.