Since when does duct tape and bondage bring peace to anyone?

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I was thinking all day about writing a response to this photo, but then my amazing husband wrote this on Facebook:

When?

When did we decide it was ok to joke about our wives and daughters being gagged and bound?

When did we decide peace on Earth would come from silencing half of the world’s population?

When did we decide that Christmas (or for that matter anytime) was a good time to mock those we love?

When did we decide that “lighten up” or “it’s just a joke” were appropriate responses to those who were shocked by such a message of violence and forced submission?

When?

Is it possible that it was all decided long ago?

Is it possible that these types of acts are manifestations of what has been simmering just below the surface all along?

Is it possible that our world still believes that it is all Eve’s fault?

All of it?

All the pain?

All the sorrow?

All the fighting?

All the disention?

All the frustration?

Is it possible that the world has passed this on to us?

And we believe it?

Is it possible?

Do we all really believe that?

And if we don’t, why do we keep hearing and seeing – and tolerating – messages that bound and gag our wives and daughters?

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Popularity Contest: Gays vs. Evangelicals

Jesus-delivering-Pizza-46018742574Every once in a while as I’m flipping through my radio dial I stumble upon the Dennis Prager show. Today was one of those days. It was the “Happiness Hour”. Today Dennis theorized that, “You control how people see you.” If that’s true. I would like to know how evangelical Christians explain the latest poll that shows that gay people are seen in a more favorable light that evangelicals. An 11 point more favorable light to be exact.

Dennis of course was using this statement to say that you will be happier if others aren’t focused on what is different about you but rather on who you are. Just be yourself and don’t identify primarily as your minority group, disability, or some specific fact about yourself; i.e. a person who lost a child, widower etc.  What I don’t understand about that is if I am being myself how can I not identify as a woman? I am a woman. How can I not identify as someone who is short, or in their 40s, or a mom, or from Ohio? How is a black person not supposed to identify as black? And why would they want to? I just don’t get it.  Even if I don’t lead with these items, they are an inexorable part of who I am. The sum total of them is my identity.

But enough of that. Let’s get back to who is more popular gays or evangelicals? According to US News and World Report and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research:

In it, 53 percent of respondents held a favorable view of gay people, while 42 percent held a favorable view of evangelical Christians. Meanwhile, 18 percent of the likely voters surveyed held an unfavorable view of gay people, while 28 percent held a negative view of evangelical Christians. Interestingly, the popularity of evangelical Christians mirrors the favorables and unfavorables of gay people in 2011, when 40 percent of those polled felt positively about gays and lesbians and 25 percent held a negative view. There was no comparison polling released on how the electorate felt about evangelicals three years before.

The poll goes on to reveal that:

…on average, about one-third of identified Republicans, Republican primary voters, conservatives and Mitt Romney voters, favor gay marriage. Younger members of the Republican base are driving that trend. When evangelicals, for instance, were asked if they favored or opposed gay marriage, only 19 percent of those older than 50 favored same-sex unions, but 45 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old set did.

In my humble opinion, if Evangelicals really do control how others experience them, if they really can choose what others focus on about them, they might want to get busy with loving their neighbors as themselves and stop worrying so much about whether they have to bake a gay wedding cake or even a gay wedding pizza.

Rape Culture, High School Boosters, Church Fathers, and You

martinshirtDid you hear the one about the high school booster club (a group made up of parents mind you) that printed up a bunch of rapey t-shirts to amp up school spirit (and the football team)? No? Well, it happened right here in the Bible belt where I live – or is that the porn belt? – oh, I forgot, those are one and the same.

Why is that do you think?

The shirt in question, pictured above, was approved by both Bob Wager, head football coach at Martin High School and booster club president Kevin White who said that “they never considered the message on the shirt to be potentially inappropriate, with each adding that if they had they would have never allowed it to be made or worn.” This should come as no surprise to anyone. This is the problem with rape culture; the first rule of rape culture is don’t talk about rape culture. “Rape culture is a concept that examines a culture in which rape is normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.”  Normalized. That just means you don’t notice it anymore. It has become normal, like the sky being blue. You see, the attitudes and systems we were born into have people programmed to be desensitized. It has gotten so we are able to read the text on that shirt and NOT EVEN SEE that it could be read in a way that glorifies rape.

Back to the Bible belt/porn belt thing for a minute. What do you think that has to do with this entire ruckus? In a recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior titled, Do American States with More Religious or Conservative Populations Search More for Sexual Content on Google? by Canadian psychologists Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson, it states:

[W]e observed moderate-to-large positive associations between: (1) greater proportions of state-level religiosity and general web searching for sexual content and (2) greater proportions of state-level conservatism and image-specific searching for sex. These findings were interpreted in terms of the paradoxical hypothesis that a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private internet activity.

In both the 2011 and 2012 Google data sets MacInnis and Hodson studied, they also found that:

increased state religiosity was significantly associated with increased searches for sex, gay sex, porn, free porn, and gay porn.

It would seem that the Bible belt has been unbuckled and the fly is now open. Heck, the pants may even be down around the ankles.

These facts, like the normalization of rape culture are also not a surprise given that the dominant religious (predominantly evangelical) male dominated culture of the Bible belt buys in 100% to either Complementarianism (fancy Jesus speak for “Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. Men are just more equal.”) or even worse, flat out patriarchy. Let me share with you a few of my favorite quotes from modern day evangelical prophets.

Now that’s one kind of situation.  Just a word on the other kind.  If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.  – John Piper

Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture. —Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill

“I don’t think a pastor can give a woman “permission” to do Bible teaching before the church, because the Bible says not to do that. Would we say a pastor, or a board of elders, could give a woman “permission” to violate the command, “You should not steal”, or to violate any other command of Scripture? No pastor or elder board has authority to give permission to anyone to disobey the Bible. It’s God’s Word and we need to obey it. – Wayne Grudem

But I still think that a woman who serves as a pastor, preaching to both men and women, is disobeying the word of God. There are always negative consequences to that. First, there will be an erosion of trust in the Bible and obedience to the Bible, generally in the congregation, because the methods of interpretation used to justify what she is doing often involve misinterpretation of scripture or eroding of the authority of scripture. – Wayne Grudem

Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. – Pat Robertson

I knew that if you married a woman when she was fifteen, she would pluck your ducks. If you waited until she was twenty, she would only pick your pockets. Now, that’s a joke, and a lot of people seem to laugh at it, but there is a certain amount of truth in it. If you can find a nice, pretty country girl who can cook and carries her Bible, now, there’s a woman. She might even be ugly, but if she cooks squirrels and dumplings, then that’s the woman you go after.”  ― Phil Robertson

The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands. —James Fowler, Women in the Church, 1999

I can see your wheels turning. And you are thinking okay, but what do these guys have to do with the early “Church Fathers” ?

Well, let me tell you.

They are where all of this craziness in Christianity–and by extension the Bible belt–got it’s start. They sure as shootin’ didn’t get it from Jesus. It seems that most Christians have no idea where they get their theology about male/female relationships.

First lets hear from the Protestant reformers:

The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. —Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

If [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth–that is why they are there. — Martin Luther

Women are ashamed to admit this, but Scripture and life reveal that only one woman in thousands has been endowed with the God given aptitude to live in chastity and virginity. A woman is not fully the master of herself. –Martin Luther

No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise. —Martin Luther

Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband….For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior. —John Dod, A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten CommandementsPuritan guidebook first published in 1603

Do not any longer contend for mastery, for power, money, or praise. Be content to be a private, insignificant person, known and loved by God and me….of what importance is your character to mankind, if you was buried just now. Or if you had never lived, what loss would it be to the cause of God. —John Wesley, founder of Methodist movement (1703-1791), letter to his wife, July 15, 1774

Yet consider now, whether women are not quite past sense and reason, when they want to rule over men. –John Calvin

Woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man. –John Knox (1505-1572)

Now lets move further back to the really early “Church Fathers”:

[For women] the very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame. —Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian  

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell. —Tertullian, the “father of Latin Christianity” 

Woman is a temple built over a sewer. —Tertullian

Men should not sit and listen to a woman…even if she says admirable things, this is of little consequence, since they came from the mouth of a woman. –Origen

Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God. —Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius 

What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. Saint Augustine of Hippo, Church Father, Bishop of Hippo Regius

Woman does not possess the image of God in herself but only when taken together with the male who is her head, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned the role as helpmate, a function that pertains to her alone, then she is not the image of God. But as far as the man is concerned, he is by himself alone the image of God just as fully and completely as when he and the woman are joined together into one. —Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. … Thus in evil and perverse doings woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man. Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good. —Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence. —Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century

In a world where our church fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers passed down a view of women that is so vile, so condescending and so hateful is it any wonder we don’t recognize the mistreatment of women, the use of them as a punch line, the view of them as subordinate or their position as one that men are glad they do not have to occupy as normal? Almost any man in any church in the Bible belt will tell you that he believes women are equal to men in the eyes of God. However, the proof is in the pudding and when you have a culture where porn is ubiquitous, women are seen as having the greater role in causing sexual sin, and we have become so blind that we cannot notice a statement so obviously rapey as “We take what we want…Shhh just let it happen,” it is time for us to start breaking the first rule of rape culture and start talking about it.

Time to send some girls to school!

banner-educationLast year for my birthday I put out a challenge to you all, my loyal and amazing readers. The challenge was to send one girl to school for every year I have been alive. We did great but we didn’t quite make our goal. This year I will be  45  birthday and I would like to see if together we can reach our goal to send 45 girls to school next fall.

I am hoping you all will help me. There A LOT more of you this year than last year. I believe we can do it. Like last time, I will kick it off by sponsoring two girls, 2 down 43 to go!

Here are some statistics for inspiration:

  • For each year, a girl stays in school, her future income can increase by 15-25%.
  • Girls with secondary schooling on average have 2.2 fewer, yet healthier children.
  • If 10% more girls attend school, a country’s GDP increases an average of 3%.

For just $56 you can send a girl to school for a whole year. That is only $1 a week.

Come on, let’s change the world for the better this year!

Click this link to get started.  http://gifts.rescue.org/product/education/year-school

When you have completed the process, be sure to let me know either in the comments or by private message so we can keep track as we approach our goal together!

How Many? Updated

Yesterday I posted a shocking statistic as my Facebook status. Since the Sandy Hook shooting there have been 74 87 school shootings. 74 87. Seventy-four.  Eighty-seven. That averages out to about one a week. And those are just the school shootings. We are currently on target for gun deaths to overtake automobile accidents as the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-24 in 2015. WTF people? Seriously? How are we not outraged as a society? Why do we continue to elect people who show no signs of doing anything about it As President Obama said yesterday, “We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens now once a week. And it—it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this,” and, “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on earth that would put up with this.”

SO WHY DO WE?

As I raised this question yesterday, people asked what I propose we do about all the mass shootings. Here is my list:

We are the only country in the developed world where this is tolerated or accepted. In fact the U.S. leads the developed world in gun ownership, 88 guns for every 100 people (yes you read that right) as well as 10 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Just to compare, Switzerland was second to us with 45.7 guns per 100 people and 3.84 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. Japan was lowest with .6 guns per 100 people and .06 gun related deaths per 100,000 people. To be quite blunt, we can do better.

My question is when will we demand our legislators do something? How many people are too many? How many kids? As Bob Dylan said, “The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

For those who think that perhaps the answer is the blurring of the lines between church and state as some of my friends have suggested. I humbly submit a post I wrote a while back called, The Bible Trumps the Law of The United States? I originally wrote this piece as it related to marriage equality, however I think it applies here as well.

Related articles:

Behind the Bloodshed

Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings

A Guide to Mass Shootings in America

Editorial: Australia’s sensible gun control rules were worth the fight

When We Worship The God of Fear (the idolatry of gun culture)

Why is This Kiss News?

controversial_kisses_trek

 

Oh wait, that’s not the picture everyone was talking about? Nope, it isn’t. But it might as well have been. More about that later… Yesterday, someone (or rather, many someones) asked the above question on the interwebz beneath a picture of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected by the Rams. “Why is this news?” The collective cry went up on social media. People called it all the usual descriptors “disgusting” and “abomination” being among the favorites. Some people lamented that “There are children watching.” Some wondered, “Why would ESPN would show such a thing?” And again many asked, “Why is this kiss news?”

 

jackie-robinson-e1399921380815Why is it news you ask? I’ll tell you why it’s news. First, it is news for the same reason Captain Kirk kissing Lieutenant Uhura was news; it makes people uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable now the same way it made people uncomfortable when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. People say the same things: it will ruin team chemistry; it will make the locker room awkward; it just isn’t natural. As far as the first two go, if you have played a sport or participated in gym class or belonged to a health club, you have already shared a locker room with LGBT people. Get over it. If you are worried about it, here is the link to a very handy article published by The Huffington Post a while back called, How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room. As for the last one, “it isn’t natural”, tell that to the 9 million people in the U.S. who identify as LGBT and the 1,500 species of animals that exhibit homosexual behaviors.

Second, it is news for the same reason as it is news when any other public figure (and sometimes regular folks) kisses…9 times out of 10 they are celebrating something. Think about it. People kiss when wars end. People kiss when their team wins. People kiss when they win anything: awards, games, elections, promotions…anything. People kiss when they have a baby and when they get married. People even kiss on the cheek to greet friends or when they are introduced at a party. People also kiss for weird reasons and make the news: when there are riots, when they start college or when they set world records. People kiss. It makes the news. It happens, literally literally (just for you Josh Mitchell) every day. Just most of the time people don’t notice because it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am hoping someday soon the picture of Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing will seem as normal as these pictures of other athletes celebrating their victories…

 

kel brookSanyaRichardsRoss:aaron ross St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Pujols kisses his wife Deidre after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to win MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Chris Bosch Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3 kyle busch bubbawatson Elway

Or these politicians…

inaugral ball mitt romneyLauraPresKiss

Or these entertainers…

SJP and MB at Oscars Perry:brand grammys brad and angie SAG awards jayz-and-beyonce-pda-kiss-grammy-awards-2014-lead matthew mcconaughey best actor oscar

Or these everyday people…

Vancouver_riot_kissing_couple vj

Listen lovelies, people like kissing (we even like pictures of animals “kissing”). They like to kiss and be kissed. And yes, many even like to see other people kiss. I have a theory as to why. Kissing is an outward sign that love still exists. Kissing means there is still hope for humanity; there is still hope that we can love and be loved. It is a sign that there are still things worth celebrating. And in times of uncertainty and fear, kissing is a sign that love can still win. For me that is what the Michael Sam kiss and all these other kisses represent. And that my friends is why kissing and this specific kiss are news. Good news.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/10/michael_sam_kiss_the_st_louis_rams_pick_the_openly_gay_missouri_star_in.html

My Privilege

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You may have seen a Buzzfeed quiz going around lately titled “How Privileged Are You?” Well, I took it and above you can see my results.  ^^^

Funny thing about privilege, growing up I didn’t know I had it. Now, however, I understand that by virtue of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation and my family history, I have benefitted tremendously from the simple circumstances of my birth.

Don’t believe in privilege or simply don’t believe it has that much of an effect on life? I humbly submit that you may be more privileged than you think. That is the thing about privilege, it is a filter through which one sees every facet of life, and it is a filter that is inborn. It is only through education and relationships with others who do not experience the benefits our privileges provide that we are able to begin to see the need for change.

A quick note: I am by no means an expert in this area and it is really only in the last few years that I have begun to be educated on this topic, even having been raised by parents who taught me that men and women, rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, etc., were all equal in the eyes of God.

Another quick note: you can be privileged in one area and completely not privileged in another. I think of it kind of like a continuum. That is why I kind of appreciated the BuzzFeed quiz, as non-scientific as it is. Yes I am white but I am also female. Yes I have money now, but I didn’t always. Here’s the thing though, the statement above is pretty right on. I have had a few struggles in my life, but I have also had many, many advantages that had ZERO to do with me and everything to do with who, where, when, and to whom I was born.

I would now like to share with you an excerpt from The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois,

NOVEMBER 5 – KEEPING WATCH

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV)

As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we must be most aware of the change in the air –however slight– lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.  –Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglass, letter to the Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association

Let’s keep watch. Let’s perceive the slow creep of oppression, wherever it might move. Let’s be aware of the darkness in our world–or even in our own soul–that seeks, like fungus to grow.

When we see it, or feel it, we pray that Christ would come into it and strike it out, making us new. We will not be victims. Nor will we be oppressors. No–today, we will keep watch.

Dear God, open my eyes not just to blessings but also to the potential of evil in the world. And when I perceive it, help me move against it. Amen.

We read this installment with our kids a few weeks ago and I was reminded of a Facebook post by my friend Markeetia McKinnis, which I shared with my children and husband on the spot at the breakfast table. As I read it aloud again, I couldn’t make it through without choking back tears. You see, this post helped me be more aware of my own inborn privilege and that of my children. Sharing it with them and with you is a small way in which I can strike out the slow creep of oppression:

As I wind down on this last day in Black History month, I reflect on how far the world has changed from when I was little black girl growing up in Mississippi to now a black mother of three residing in Texas. Some changes for the better….progress. Some changes for the worse. BUT, It is true, we are a different world. We have become a better people. We can now all drink from the same fountains. Attend the same schools. Aim for the same goals. Play the same sports….Through the worlds view, we are better. Even through this black mothers view, I feel on the majority of days, we are better. AND then there are those days when you’re driving with your husband and you’re stopped and the white officer calls him a boy in front of your kids. Or the day when the black President is re-elected and your kid comes home from school with tears in his eyes because he’s heard the N word for the first time. [her children attend school with my children at a private Christian school].Or the day you have date night with the hubby and you walk into Neiman’s and you’re followed around the store. OR the day when you’re out with your husband and people keep stopping you, because they think he’s a ball player. OR the day when you’re sitting during your kids American program feeling proud and then you realize that NOT ONE single black person was characterized during Black History Month. OR you realize that schools don’t even celebrate black history month anymore AND…..these are the days when you realize that despite how hard you’ve tried…this is your reality and you MUST educate your children…your black children. Because the reality is they are not only Americans….They are BLACK Americans. And unfortunately, they have a past that will follow them to heaven. So, you brace yourself for the why’s and the tears and the pain in their eyes….knowing that you can’t change their past. It is very much who they are. And unless we do them an injustice, we as their parents have to educate them on a world we as black people did not choose, but found ourselves being thrust in. A world that says it sees no color, but for the Black American that is so NOT our reality. I have had many tasks thrust upon me, but being a black mom is by far the most challenging. How much do you share? What EXACTLY do you say? I still have not quite figured that one out yet, SO I take it day by day and lesson by lesson. Allowing God to guide my heart and speech….Lately, I have taught them that they are who God says they are, not man. They are more than a color. That’s offensive, not cute. They are not brown, they are black. There history is more than just Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. They are walking on the backs of some of the greatest inventors and scientists in the world. They are more than just basketball players and runners, they are leaders and world changers. They are not projects, they are humans with hearts and desires. In the same breathe….as age appropriate as possible, I have taught them that they are the kid in the store with the hoodie on. They can’t do what everyone else does and get away with it. They cannot go everywhere, with everyone…even if all of there friends go. The same rules just don’t always apply. They are not rap music and slang talk -don’t allow people to disrespect you by assuming as much. They are not a statistic or JUST an athlete. They are the HEAD and not the TAIL. They are kings and queens. They are worthy….. I am slowly teaching them to “respect the struggle”….day by day…. #momminute #blackhistory #raisingblackkids#myworld

So, here is the thing, if you are a man you are privileged in some ways that women are not, no matter what race you are. If you are white you are privileged in some ways that minorities are not, even if you grew up poor. If you were born in the United States you are privileged in ways most of the world is not, no matter what other disadvantages you have had. There are so many more ways in which to be born privileged. I have been trying lately to examine my own filters. I think the quiz above can help you get started. Another thing you can try is if you are a man, ask some of the women in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a woman. If you are white, ask some of your friends who are not white to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being a person of color. If you are straight, ask some of the LGBT people in your life to tell you about all the times they have been harassed, molested or discriminated against for being LGBT. Then listen, and believe what they tell you. You might be surprised at what they have to say. It isn’t a lot, but it is a start.

For some other good educational reading on this topic…