Invader

It is said that the shooter at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was concerned about “invaders” coming to the US in the migrant caravans. He thought Jewish people were assisting those in the migrant caravans and that was not okay with him.  He was a deeply hateful anti-Semite.

Can you imagine what the members of the Tree of Life synagogue are experiencing right now because of one man’s hatred?  I can’t imagine how devastating this would be for them, for anyone to be attacked in such a way, and to watch loved ones being killed.

I looked at his picture.  He’s white.  I’m white.  Obviously our ancestors crossed the pond at some point making both of us the descendants of invaders as well.

What makes someone like him the judge and jury of who can come to America for a better life?

Looking around at Trump’s Christian fan base, they seem ignorant to the fact that our country is crumbling by the day.  A portion of Trump’s Christian fan base thinks other issues are much more urgent, such as those who would celebrate that Satanic holiday Halloween.  I love Halloween, so take from that what you will.

My country becomes more baffling and broken each day.  This hatred festering in our country has got to stop.

 

Girl, you can’t leave

An old post, Window and Walls, that received some new traffic is the inspiration for this post.  I used to have a blog that mostly talked about religion and gender where I talked about my experiences growing up in a conservative, religious household.  My father’s family practiced what an Old World brand of Catholicism.   Between my mother and father an assortment of rules governed a very narrow path I was allowed to walk.  The rules weren’t always explicitly stated, you had to figure them out for yourself, and the rules could change at any time.

What I say here is more from an insider’s standpoint and a discussion of gender roles.  If you didn’t grow up in a religious conservative household you may not have the context to appreciate the bizarreness of this world.  It applies to men and women in these circles, not to men and women at large.

After high school, I did attend college.  I quit and eventually moved back home.  I found a job that paid well enough for me to live by myself.  I’d always known, being a girl, different rules applied to me.  I’m not sure that it was explicitly said many times, but in the back of my mind, I knew that even though I was an adult, I was not “allowed” to move out.  Of course in forbidding me to leave, they had to marginalize me in every way.  Marginalization is a common tactic to get the womenfolk to follow the rules.  Sometimes, though, it is the mothers who are the most cruel of all.

It sounds truly bizarre, but when I did eventually leave, it was almost like running away from home, like I had planned a jailbreak.

My parents didn’t view me as a fully functioning adult.  Besides dropping out of college, I didn’t quite get their reasoning.  Looking back it seems even stranger.  I hadn’t become pregnant before marriage, no criminal record, no drug use, no tattoos, weird piercing or hair colors.  I’d experimented a bit with alcohol, but hey my dad was an alcoholic.

The view that women aren’t fully functional adults until they marry is a common one is some religious circles.  Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years though, if I had classmates were brought up similarly, I didn’t know them.

One day years ago, I ran into groups online that seemed a lot like my parents.  I found the viewpoints more typical of some Protestant groups, but there are some Catholics that have these strange viewpoints as well.  They might fall under the label of complementarian, fundamentalism or red pill.  Men are alphas or betas.  The red pill women of course are all married to alphas, per their own definition of what an alpha is.

The religious conservatives are very concerned about gender roles.  They have an assortment of influences that guide their lifestyle. John Piper is notorious for spewing nonsense about gender roles.  Their leaders are always men, and just like the Matt Lauers and the Harvey Weinsteins, well boys will be boys.

They tend to be hyperfocused on gender roles, sex and marriage.  Other parts of the bible such as Matthew 25:35-45  seem to mean little to them.  On one blog I came across, a woman was essentially reproducing someone else’s copyrighted materials to sell and she seemed clueless that this was stealing.

These people make up their own rules about what is acceptable for each gender.  Appearance is very important for women.  You must wear dresses or skirts, not gain weight or let yourself go. Curiously though, the same rules don’t apply for the menfolk.  They can roll out of bed, not bother shaving, not bother tucking in their shirt, wear jeans and attend church right along with the women folk who must wear be properly primped and dressed.

I find it funny appearance is so important for the women, but not for the men.  My mom and dad weren’t fashionistas but there was a minimum code of formailty for a given occasion I think that has been lost today.  Modesty is sometimes important, because dontcha know if a man behaves inappropriately towards you, it is probably your fault for dressing the wrong way. If you don’t think our culture dresses right, that is fine.  I’ve been mixing it up with public school parents for years, some of the menfolk could improve their appearance.

A woman’s weight is tremendously important.  She should have gained only a few pounds if any since high school.  Conversely, men perhaps gaining 50 pounds since high school is A-okay.  My high school age son is not quite 6 foot, it is hard to imagine putting 50 pounds on him and calling that normal.  Of course when the men folk are concerned it is only about a woman’s health.  Maybe they should visit a cardiac rehab unit and compare the number of men and women…what you wouldn’t want to be logical?  When they are done comparing the amount of men and women, they can start comparing the ages of the participants.

Many that advocate these ultraconservative ways haven’t practiced what they preached, so why would you listen to them?  They’ve been divorced a time or two, had children by different fathers/mothers etc. etc.  One of the more curious examples is a woman who married a man who had a child out of wedlock and insists that he was some super in demand alpha.  I’m not sure what universe she lives in, but of the people I grew up with, no one was looking to marry someone who’d had a child out of wedlock.  I don’t mean this as cruel statement, just more of a statement of fact amongst the Catholics I grew up with.

Only a red pill man can install a ceiling fan, and only a red pill woman can bake a pie, according to the red pill adherents.  The rest of us are simply too dumb to take our gender roles seriously.  Never mind that my husband has done significant remodeling in the houses we’ve owned.  I guess he doesn’t know the rules, as he would rather eat glass than ruminate and cogitate over such issues.  He is more of a doer.

Confused with Christianity

I was raised Catholic.  Though I certainly have some issues with Catholicism, the brand I was raised with didn’t seem withdrawn from the world at large.

It seems many Christians are huddled in their own little corners, worrying about same sex marriage, female submission or drivel like the Nashville Statement.  Don’t know what the Nashville Statement is?  It is a statement crafted by small minded men focusing especially on sexual morality.

Do the people who dote on issues of sexual immorality think they should ever take a breather for a while and see what is happening in the world?  When did we as Christians decide we should be deaf to the cries of those in need.

So many Christians seem silent on issues like the Charlottesville Riots, hurricaine relief, and DACA?   While I certainly was taught about sexual immorality back in the day, I always felt encouraged in some way that it was our duty to help those less fortunate than us.  Whether it was attempting to feed the hungry, help the elderly, or going to a protest to speak out on Trump’s attempts to end DACA, that spark was always there.

While certainly all Christians don’t fall into this camp, the world is making me sad right now.

Have we forgotten the words of Jesus?

Matthew 25:35-40

35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Teaching Your Children

We teach our children many things. Some things we teach directly, like how to tie their shoes or how to ride a bike. Children learn by watching our behaviors, whether they be positive or not. We teach values to our children, perhaps hoping they will travel the same path we do in life.

I was reading a blog post from a dad who expressed the thought that traditional femininity was something his young daughter should be taught, and he would be active in the teaching process. By traditional femininity here I mean notions such as women should have long hair, women should strive to look conventionally attractive and they should cultivate sweet demure personalities. The girl growing up in this household would have little freedom.

I was brought up in a religious household where there was a certain brand of traditional femininity was taught. It was especially focused on females having little freedom, even as adults.

Growing up, I would often bristle at the things I was taught. For the most part I wouldn’t express it though. Having grown up in a household where a certain brand of femininity was taught, I realized certain things. These things wouldn’t have to apply to femininity alone, but anything you might think is important to teach your child. Your child will:
1)Buy into your value system
2)Maybe adopt some of your values but not others
3)Totally reject your value system

If your child doesn’t buy into your value system, eventually they will go their own way, no matter how hard you have tried to make them conform.

Some things my parents taught me I eventually tossed aside. Some other things they taught, though were definitely good life lessons.
Some of these include:
1)The value of reading and the library…My parents were both readers in their own way. My mom especially loved the library and we went there often as children. There was always a bit of excitement hoping you would find a hidden treasure.
2)My parents believed in making do. There was never a big rush to buy a new car, or other expensive purchases, even though they could afford it.
3)They were impeccable with their finances. They were both good investors. They would be horrified to pay a bill late. Of course due to hard work and some luck they tried to live their life together in a way that there wouldn’t be any worry. I realize that despite hard work, many people still have a hard time financially.

Now just because they had these values doesn’t mean their children necessarily grew up with the same values. I would say I am good with reading and making do. I don’t think my husband and I will end up with the same kind of nest egg when we reach retirement, but we do try to do our best. My sister, has probably destroyed her finances entirely in part due to her alcoholism.

Some things you might think are just common sense, things that everyone teaches their kids. Years ago, I went to visit my sister, long before I knew she struggled with alcoholism, and some things shocked me. She had many things stored at room temperature that you would normally keep in the refrigerator(at least at our house). I never asked her about it, but it was definitely a what the heck moment.

My husband and I have values we hold important. We hope we’ve taught our children well enough to be kind out in the world. Some of the smaller stuff though, it won’t be the end of the world if they change their mind.

Thoughts on Femininity and Nellie Oleson

I had another blog before this one, which I deleted.  The blog was largely focused on religion and gender roles.  Some of these thoughts have probably appeared other places in this blog.  Because I was raised in a household which promoted a rather narrow view of femininity these topics are sometimes on my mind.

Some people seem to have the belief that women who identify strongly with traditional gender roles are just better people all around compared to their less feminine counterparts.

The woman who puts on a veneer of femininity or has the physical attributes that are considered to be the most feminine is considered to be a better “book” just based on its cover.  My sister and my mother have always been better than I at projecting a veneer of culturally approved femininity.  They are both smaller than me, and have better raw material as far as looks.

At some point in my life, I realized I had trouble fitting in to what others thought feminine beauty and feminine behavior should be.  Growing up, for a long time, I was always among the tallest of my classmates, boys and girls.  Eventually I stopped growing so fast, and many of the boys grew taller than me.  By this point I had already been given the message that small = feminine.  Plus I had my dad’s broad shoulders so that didn’t help.  I remember for a while being about 13 and wanting to shrink in to myself, and would often slouch.  At that point I was put on a diet by my parents….my shape was rearranging and I think it must have disturbed them.  At the time I weighed less than the midpoint of my ideal body weight range.  If you want to make sure a girl is going to have a fucked up view  of controlling her weight, do what my parents did.  Expect it to backfire.

I have often struggled with social awkwardness and being shy.  My mother and sister didn’t have these same struggles.  They could speak in honeyed tones with strangers if the situation called for it.  The private versions of my mother and sister were something else all together.  Swear words, raised voices and insults you could never dream of.

Do you know the TV character Nellie Oleson, from the TV series Little House on the Prairie, somewhat based on a series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder?  I loved the books, and often watched the TV series.  When I was older I started rewatching the TV series, and didn’t love it quite so much, as I don’t think it stayed true to the books.

Anyway Nellie was an awesome character.  She was the daughter of a couple who owned the town’s mercantile.  Her snooty mother Harriet made sure Nellie was always dressed in the finest clothes.  Nellie’s blonde hair was neatly curled with lovely ribbons.  In Harriet’s eyes, Nellie was far more cultured and refined compared to the Ingalls girls who wore simpler clothes and came from a family that wasn’t as wealthy.  The character of Laura Ingalls was a bit of a  tomboy.  Harriet tended to look down upon many of the families in the town of Walnut Grove, including the Ingalls family.

If you’ve seen the show you’ll know that Nellie was a straight up brat. Nellie and Laura often did not get along. Her fine clothes and neatly done hair provided a contrast for Nellie’s character.  The character of Laura was also imperfect, but in the end Laura always had a better heart.  So the cover doesn’t always match the book inside.

Sacrificial Love

Some time ago, I attended a wedding.  The priest gave a sermon that partly touched on the aspect of sacrificial love.  While I don’t remember the sermon in its entirety, I remember I was deeply touched, and reminded me of the good parts that I remember when I was still a practicing Catholic.  What happens when our spouse gets sick?  How do we deal when one spouse ages more quickly than the other. I found a post about the movie “The Notebook” that reminded me of the priest’s sermon

I’ve been thinking about the “in sickness and in health” part of marriage.  My husband rarely gets sick but is now facing some health issues.  What the scope and severity of these issues are remains to be seen.  Hopefully my husband recovers quickly and is able to function as he had before, that is of course what he wants and what I pray for.

But I know sometime in the future, our physical bodies will change and we will together face the issues of growing old together, if we are both blessed to live long lives.  What will that mean for our marriage?  Only time will tell.

While these thoughts aren’t new, I often wonder how prepared we are as a society to face the challenges of a sick spouse.  What happens if our sick or aging spouse is no longer able to meet our needs, sexual or otherwise?  That day could come with no warning.  Would we be ready to love our spouses in a sacrificial way?

I sometimes read marriage related books or posts , some of a Christian variety.  Often I end up more aggravated by reading the articles.  There are so many Christian writers and bloggers who seem to have the message of be a love machine that never says no if you want to have a good marriage. Be a lady on the streets but a freak under the sheets. Of course they don’t use the actual language of “freak under the sheets”, but they would be honest in their intentions if they did. But they never seem to address what happens to the marriage when one spouse can’t meet the physical expectations, either temporarily or permanently.  Where is the rest of the foundation of your marriage?

I’d like to think that when the time comes, I would be somewhat prepared.  It would surely be a challenge, but it one I hope I could meet to the best of my ability.  Maybe I’m wrong about my belief that society doesn’t  prepare us for the final years of marriage.

Of course as a nurse, I have seen many elderly couples who do seem content in their marriages, despite their physical losses.  I’d love to hear their stories about how they have navigated through the challenges.

 

SELFISH

Lent starts today.  It is after midnight as I write, so I guess it is technically Ash Wednesday. Even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I try to put some thought in to Lent.  Usually I think about something I can do, rather than something I can give up.

I’d thought about writing the post about being selfish before I thought about Lent.

Sometimes as a woman I feel as if there is extra pressure not to appear selfish to others. Right now I am going through a season in life where I am trying to do everything to make family my number one priority.  By that I mean my husband and my kids, but not my in laws or my own family of origin.  I don’t necessarily feel the need to explain myself, but somehow a part of me cares how others might view me.  So, no I don’t want to work an extra shift at my job.  No,  my husband and I would just rather stay home, rather than spend some time with family members we aren’t so crazy about.  You get the idea.

Yesterday at work was a bit crazy.  As I’ve mentioned before I am a nurse.  I was focused on getting the important things done, instead of being a pillow fluffer.  I closed my office door so I could try to get my work done more quickly without distractions.  Of course I look more approachable if my door is open.  I spent part of my work day taking part in an educational function.  I guess since I was one of the organizers I was supposed to buy treats out of my own pocket.  But because I’m selfish, lazy AND cheap, I skipped buying the treats.

Maybe during Lent, I’ll give more though to negotiating the idea of being selfish.  How can one be loving to others while still meeting their own needs.

If I had marched…

Why would I have marched…..

To see the development of a real health care plan that could lend a hand to my sister with both issues of addiction and mental health.  The ACA provided her with a very high deductible health care plan.  It is hard to get help if the first several thousand dollars come out of your pocket…several thousand she doesn’t have.  I don’t understand how people think the ACA benefits someone like her, or a man in her same situation.

To call out the so called Christians who have an opinion about how each gender behaves and should function.  To the greasy unkempt guy who thinks himself a marriage expert and likes to perpetuate harmful stereotypes that he believes are divinely inspired.  Oh, and stop being the modesty police, and breathlessly talking about how the women folk are causing the brothers to stumble if they show a hint of cleavage. The little women who stand behind these preacher men, you don’t do women any favors. Oh, Emerson Eggerichs and Shaunti Feldhahn, you can stop with your gender stereotypes as well.  I can’t imagine my work being centered on this kind of nonsense.

To eliminate subtle but harmful gender expectations in the workplace.  Outright misogyny or misandry should not be tolerated.

For the parents out there that let their kids listen to music where every other word is ho or bitch, well I don’t know what to say.  You probably don’t give a fuck what I have to say.  I met one of your little teenaged darlings recently….to his mom who doesn’t care she is raising a little misogynist…stay klassy lady.

To make sure that we are doing right by kids from disadvantaged backgrounds when it comes to education.  I see everyone is an uproar about Betsy DeVos.  But can anyone tell me what Arne  Duncan has done the last 8 years to improve education, at the classroom level?

For the people in my life who just stood there and did nothing to call out injustice to women or perpetuated harmful stereotypes…screw you.  Yes that includes people close to me.

Before we all go making an idol of Planned Parenthood, ensure they are providing quality care….in the case of my sister, they did not.

To make sure the condition of women doesn’t slide backwards to some sort of old world antiquated notion where women were barely human.

To nurture a system where the average Josephine has a voice,  and to have journalists who will give her a voice.  I could really care less about what any celebrity has to say.

To nurture a system where there is an abundance of highly qualified candidates for public office.

See Me….rants about this and that

There is a drug commercial for psoriasis I think where different people say “See Me”, where they want to be viewed for their humanity and not their disease process.  I think all of have felt that we would like for other to see us as fellow humans on the journey of life, and not be labeled or mistreated for qualities that might make us different.

This election season is a painful one.  Donald Trump obviously sees women as little more than sex objects, not as fellow humans worthy of being treated with dignity.  I don’t think of the Clintons as friends to women either though.  I find it odd that many have looked the other way at Bill’s exploits, but are shocked by the behavior of Donald.   I have a hard time reconciling Hillary as a pro woman candidate given her husband’s history and her silence on the matter.  I’d read something somewhere about talking to your children about what the candidates represent and how they carry themselves…I’d say to my kids that we have a long way to go in how we treat each other as human beings.

I was raised by parents who were fairly conservative Catholics.  I attended Catholic schools.  I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, but I am not sure what Protestant denomination has what I am looking for.  I attended Catholic schools.  While I may have felt things more acutely than some of my classmates, I felt there was a background message of being less than.  We wore uniforms to school.  While you wouldn’t have seen it in print anywhere, the uniforms existed partly so the girls wouldn’t wear anything immodest that might cause the boys to stumble, or have lustful thoughts toward the girls. This sort of thinking has always bothered me.  Recently I saw a blog post where a man suggested that a woman’s visible bra strap caused him to have unwanted or involuntary sexual thoughts, he thought the woman with the visible bra strap was acting in such a way to be compared to sexual assault.  I found that really disturbing, obviously even though he calls himself Christian he is unable to see this woman as human but again merely a sexual object.  That isn’t the sort of Christian I see myself to be.

As I write this I know that I need to challenge myself to see the humanity in everyone.  I need to make sure I give my children that message as well.  If my children can’t treat others with dignity, especially those who are different than they are, well I have failed as a parent.

Musings on Depression, episode 5892

I’ve been having a hard time with my mood lately.  Feeling stressed about my job, and wondering if I should find a new one have been a catalyst for a real low.

I’ve been having some trouble falling asleep at night, but then during my waking hours at home I just want to take a nap.  My joints feel like they are on fire. Not sure what is going on with my joints but I feel as if it is worsened by my mood. My stomach has been bugging me and I’ve been taking too many Tums.  Not sure if the stomach thing  is stress related or something else.   I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual.

As I write this I am hopeful my mood  will lift in a couple of days.

I wonder how I would be navigating this without my antidepressant medication.  I’m curious when people think medication is an easy solution.  For me the medication is just one of the tools I use.

Some Christians think I could just pray my feelings away.  How do they know?  I grew up being raised Catholic and don’t recall any resistance from that branch of Christianity in regards to taking meds.  One of my classmate’s dad at the Catholic school I attended was a psychiatrist, so I would guess he didn’t see a conflict between his faith and prescribing medication.

This Christian poster claims that she knows a cure for depression and anxiety, and it is free!  All I have to do is open my heart to God!  If that method worked for her, wonderful. It hasn’t worked for everyone though, and perhaps implies that one who hasn’t been cured hasn’t worked hard enough in her relationship with God.  It is a harmful message in my opinion.    In another post she implies that a parent who has a small child loudly  running around the grocery store is a lazy parent who simply doesn’t try hard enough.  Of course she isn’t a parent herself.