Unpacking your prejudices for a life well lived

September 1, 2018

Just who do you think you are?  Whatever the answer to this question it will reflect a heady, imperfect mix of your genes, your family, your life experiences and your environment. Where we live, the people we live around and interact with have a great deal to do with shaping our ideas, thoughts and attitudes about each other as human beings.

This is, after all the a ‘small blog’, so this won’t be a detailed discourse of the subject, just some thoughts I’ve had lately.

In consideration of my upbringing in a stable, white Southern family, I probably would have been more affected by negative prejudice toward other ‘races’ had I not had the privilege of being an Army brat. A previous small blog post tells how my attitudes were born again by living in Hawaii and taking advantage of multi-cultural experience.

In American cities, citizens are much more likely to interact with any number of folks from different cultures, countries, family situations etc. But, there are areas in our country where this is not the case and there is a prevalence of homogeneous Anglo populations. When this kind of, what I would call, isolation occurs, people aren’t given as much of an opportunity to broaden their intellectual or existential horizons.

This is the future. Make it good for everyone.

It’s been proven that living around people with different backgrounds and cultures gives us a larger life experience and usually modifies prejudices we might have previously held.

Despite the decidedly ‘white supremacist’ policies coming out of our current administration, the Pew Research Center determined there is  “Shifting Public Views on Legal Immigration Into the U.S.”

  • The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults, finds that 38% say legal immigration into the United States should be kept at its present level, while 32% say it should be increased and 24% say it should be decreased.
  • Most Americans do not think undocumented immigrants take jobs U.S. citizens want or are more likely to commit serious crimes.

It’s not just about ‘race’ or immigrants either. There is a prejudice against poor people—’they’re lazy, don’t want to learn, rather take welfare etc.’ My city San Antonio, though a great city in many ways, is one of the most economic segregated cities in the nation.  Which opens up a Pandora’s box of side-effects both for the affected population and on the community as a whole.

Oh, my goodness, this is a depressing post! So, what can you do about it? A few suggestions:

  • Make a difference where you can. Don’t condone bad behavior from others even if they are your family members. You know, like at Thanksgiving dinner and Uncle George is telling a racist or anti-gay joke.
  • Practice being inclusive and non-judgmental. Everyone has worth and a human story to tell.
  • Make new friends.
  • Try a new cuisine at an ethnic restaurant. (no, not just a new taco place)
  • Read National Geographic Magazine—there’s a whole world out there
  • Take a trip to somewhere you’ve never been.

Peace y’all!


Going to Church in my Mind

May 4, 2018

One of my favorite and very early posts–slightly updated.

Last night I dreamed I went to church–an all African American church.  I was dressed in a red coat and sang with the choir.  Now, I have been to a church with a predominantly African American congregation, but it is only in Dreamville that I would be singing in the choir.

I don’t physically attend church anymore.  No excuses.  But, I do go to church in my mind as the spirit calls.

This is how it works for me.

I said a prayer of concern for the homeless person sleeping in a downtown doorway.

I prayed to keep a civil tongue and not complain at work this week. (This probably requires some human effort as well)

I expressed appreciation for my wonderful, little house as the sun streamed in the living room and the birds were singing in the courtyard.

I sat still in my car for a few minutes, my heart bursting with joy for the ministries of Sister Odilia and her staff at Blessed Sacrament Academy and Por Vida high school.

This week, I’m making preemptive prayers for a safe trip to Minnesota to visit our daughter and her family–which includes two precious grandsons.

In my opinion, going to church in your mind is no less church, or mosque, or synagogue, or…  I try to be more thankful than whining. And, I try to live my life like church is right there with me all the time.


Last week’s mind expanding info

March 1, 2018

A couple of things I learned last week:

Some veggies, like carrots and spinach, are healthier cooked than raw–from Prevention Magazine

I also found that frozen, cooked spinach is very inexpensive and great to add to soup, rice, casseroles…the opportunities to go green in your diet are endless.

The Black Panther movie was very good, determined by the fact that I thought about it quite a lot afterward–one of my ways of judging a movie or TV series. Also, the women characters in the movie kick-butt.

Emma Gonzalez kicks-butt and my hope for a new generation of smart leaders is renewed. For undoubtedly Emma and her fellow students activists are those leaders. She also has more Twitter followers than the NRA. Yay!

Donald Trump is still lying every time he opens his mouth and he still doesn’t understand how the government functions.


the boundlessness of divine love

May 20, 2017

I’m just guessing, but I think I came to embrace the joys of living in a multi-ethnic society during the three years my family and I lived in Hawaii.

Each year the school I attended, Radford High School, celebrated Aloha Week by electing Kings and Queens representing their various “racial backgrounds” gathered in their “racial costumes” Hawaiians, Samoan, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Samoans, Negro, Portuguese, Korean Caucasian, and Cosmopolitan. Despite the dated terminology, it was a respectful celebration of the many peoples who made up the Hawaiian population–the very definition of a melting pot.I wonder if they still do this.

Pew Research Center’s recent article gives credence to ‘Mainland’ America’s march towards its own modern diversity “…one-in-ten married people in 2015 – not just those who recently married – had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. This translates into 11 million people who were intermarried.”

Right after I read the above article I saw a reference to an article by Paul Salopek, The Case for Xenophilia. Salopek explains, “For the past four years I have been walking across the earth. As I retrace the paths of our species’ first Stone Age migration out of Africa, I’m writing about my encounters along the modern global trail. ” His walk takes him through many different countries in Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Turkey, to name a few, on his march towards Tierra del Fuego.

He includes this lovely thought.“The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world,” wrote the 12th-century French theologian Hugh of St. Victor. “The strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man extinguished his.”


Ah sweet, and not so sweet, mystery of life

April 7, 2017

What exactly is life anyway?

“We don’t have a very good definition of life,” said researcher Christopher Voigt of the University of California, San Francisco, who works on synthetic biology. “It’s a very abstract thing, what we call life, and at what point we say something doesn’t have the necessary components versus it does, it just becomes way too murky.”

The other day a friend and I were talking about life, including a dear friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. “But, she’s only 33, and a beautiful, generous person, an elementary school teacher, and breast cancer doesn’t even run in her family,” my friend exclaimed. I’m sitting there shaking my head. What do we say? Shit happens? What is God thinking when he lets bad things happen–like to our young friend with cancer; to the children gassed to death two days ago in Syria; to the 13 people from New Braunfels church killed in a bus crash, 12 of them older women, grandmas like me?

I think life is one big fat mystery. We hate the bad stuff, but love the synergy when good things happen. Like another friend who found the right alternative school for her son, recently expelled for what we all think is a bum rap. Perhaps, this is opening another door. Or the wonderfulness of all the new babies showing up in my Facebook feed. One new parent asked if she was posting too many baby pics, and I said “never.” Of course, someone else might have thought differently. Good things happen every day, even amid the chaos of our current government.

Trying really hard, Lord, to remember that in this mysterious life you have given us, we are all your children and you love us unconditionally. We don’t have to earn your love and you don’t reward our devotion to you with ‘prosperity’ like some faux pastors preach. Do all Christians act like Christians? Another pithy question (don’t get me started on that).


Thawing out

December 24, 2016

So here it is.  ‘tis the “season to be jolly” has come ‘round again. I’ve been stuck these past few weeks in the post-election blues and my brain felt frozen. But today I did my “Merry Christmas” phone calls to grandsons and a couple of old friends. It worked somewhat to elevate the spirits without actual spirits, but that will surely come later.

I decided to make a Christmas wish list/New Year’s resolutions:

I wish the next Congress will not slash and burn Medicare and Social Security.

I wish my grandkids won’t end up glowing in the dark.

I wish for the cream of humanity to rise to the top and leave the sour milk behind.

I wish for us to be kind to one another.

Next year:

I will try to experience something new at least once a week.

I will spend less on food and eat healthier.

I will not let social media freak me out and stoke fear.

I will hate the cat a little less, maybe…

This a beautiful Christmas picture I saw today on my daughter-in-law’s Facebook page. I think it came from Realm of the Faerie Garden

christmas-picture

So, Merry Christmas, dammit!

 

 


Jesus loves ALL the little children

March 18, 2016

Remember that Sunday School song we all used to sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children”? For some reason I started singing it this morning as I was getting ready for work. And, I thinking, “Jesus loves ALL the little children in the world including:

22% of all children in the US living below the federal poverty rate

one in five children suffering with mental illness

62% of Hispanic children in the US living in or near poverty

The estimated 679,000 children who were victims of abuse and neglect

All the Syrian and other refugee children, clinging to their parents, hoping for a chance to live in a better world

The children born to undocumented parents in the US who fear they may be torn from the only life they’ve know and deported.

Let’s remind all the “conservative Christian” politicians and their ilk spreading hate and bigotry, Jesus is not selective about who He loves and that is the model we should strive for. Not how much we can cut the assistance and education programs. Not how fast we can round up all the “undocumented” families or build a wall to keep out all those who do not ascribe to the same faith as they claim to follow.

all the children of the world

Jesus loves the little children All the children of the world Red & yellow, black & white they’re precious in his sight Jesus loves the little children of the world

 

Sing that little song several times today to as a reminder just who does Jesus love. Sing it for your family, your friends and co-workers. Sing it for yourself.

 


Remembering the Sabbath

March 1, 2015

Several years ago I read this wonderful book “Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest” by Wayne Muller, ordained minister, graduate of Harvard School of Divinity and therapist.

In his introduction, Muller explains in a general, not accusatory way, how in the relentless busyness of modern life we have lost the rhythm between work and rest. He tells how we suppose action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something-anything-is better than doing nothing. Because of this, we don’t rest, we miss the quiet refuge that brings us wisdom, and we miss the joy and peace from our moments of rest.

According to Wikipedia, the Sabbath is generally a weekly day of rest or time of worship. It is observed differently in Abrahamic religions and influences similar occasions in several other practices. Although many viewpoints and definitions have arisen over the millennia, most originate in the same textual tradition.

In this book Muller encourages us to remember the Sabbath by living the rhythm of rest and gives meditations and  examples of how to incorporate ‘small’ Sabbaths into our everyday life in a variety of ways—that include setting aside quiet times, taking a walk in the park, lighting a candle and saying a blessing, enjoying a meal with friends.

The following are a few passages that I hope will inspire you, as it did me, to find a quiet place, at any time, to remember the Sabbath as a divine gift of rest.

Readings from the book

In Genesis, a fundamental goodness is presumed throughout the creation story. At every juncture God acts, steps back and rests. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” Genesis 1:31 Sabbath rest invites us to step back and see that it is good.

Mark 2:27, “You are not made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath is made for you.” Muller says, The Sabbath isn’t a responsibility, it’s a gift, and if we don’t take that gift, we all suffer. He tells us the point isn’t to take the Sabbath in order to avoid spiritual trouble with a cranky God who’s going to punish you. The point is to take Sabbath in order to be as nourished, fed and delighted as we’re meant to be. “Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened.”

meditation, stones, pond,prayerPrayer is like a portable Sabbath, when we close our eyes for just a moment and let the mind rest. Like the Muslims who stop to pray five time a day, like the Angelus we can be stopped by a sunset, a meal and we can pray. Something close to the heart, and simple.

Sabbaths are filled with prayers. But we can begin slowly with a simple prayer like a pebble dropped into the middle of our day rippling out over the surface of our life. Perhaps a line from the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, a short blessing: “May all beings be happy and may all being be at peace.”

A verse in the 23rd Psalm says “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Even Jesus stepped back from his ministry and the crowds to a place of rest. In doing so he is honoring a deep spiritual need for a time dedicated not to accomplishment and growth, but to quiescence and rest.

Better is one hand full of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind” Ecclesiastes 4:6 Traditional Sabbaths are filled with prayers. But we can begin slowly with a simple prayer like a pebble dropped into the middle of our day rippling out over the surface of our life.

Mother Teresa said “Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can full us up.”At our best, we become Sabbath for one another. Not fixing, not harming, not acting, we can become space, that our loved ones, the lost and sorrowful, may find rest in us. ‘Where ever two or more are gathered, there am I in the midst of you.’ 

 The Desert Fathers counseled, “Go into your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Set aside a period of time in nature or at home, at a church or temple, a library or anywhere you will not be disturbed. Sit, meditate, pray, read, whatever pleases you. Pay attention.

 


Four Dead in Ohio

May 4, 2013

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the Kent State shootings. On May 4, 1970 as students were protesting the ‘Cambodian Incursion’ and the Vietnam war in general, National Guardsmen fired 67 rounds of ammunition over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis. (read more)

Just out of college and still actively involved in protesting the war, the shootings were horrifying–the worst yet of escalating violence between student protestors and law enforcement.

Here is the still poignant “Four Dead in Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.”


Wade in the Water

January 21, 2013

This is from the bible verses of John 5:1-10.  There was a pool in Bethesda surrounded by five colonnades.  A great number of diseased, lame, or otherwise afflicted persons lay by the pool. At certain seasons, an angel of the Lord would go down and trouble, or agitate, the waters.  Those who made it into the waters as they were roiling, would be healed.

There was one paralyzed man who had lain by the pool for 38 years.  His physical state did not allow him to ever make it down to the pool in time to be healed. When Jesus asked him why he had been there so long without being able get in the water on time to be healed the man said, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Now sometimes this verse gets the negative treatment. What’s wrong with this guy he can’t drag himself down to the water in 38 years. Everyone else can get down there. What a whiner, he expects someone to help him down to the pool. After all “God helps those who helps themselves.” Those people on welfare and food stamps, they should just get off the couch and go get a job. They’re just lazy and looking for a handout. All those kids with no health insurance. So what if that single-mom is working two jobs just to provide the basics. We shouldn’t have to pay for those kids healthcare. Certain politicians think the way to balance the budget is by cutting all human services programs.

Everyone needs a little help sometimes. After all, Jesus didn’t berate this man, he healed him. It’s hard to pick oneself up by the bootstraps if you don’t have boots. Sometimes it’s hard for us to ask for help as it can be interpreted as a sign of weakness.
The platitude that states “God won’t give you more than you can handle” doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help from your fellow humans as well as the spiritual implications.

It’s ok to give help–joyfully, and without judgment.  It’s ok to ask for help without guilt or supplication.

OK, that’s my rant for the day.