Saturday, April 21, 2007

Blog Like a Man

Tonight I read about an online test called The Gender Genie. This thing uses an algorithm based on certain keywords to predict the gender of the writer. I love meaningless online tests, so I had to try it. To get as accurate a result as possible I submitted several entries from my blog. The results were mixed but according to the Genie I'm a male, more often than not. This will come as a shock to my husband and children.

A tip of the hat to The Republic of T. Incidentally, The Gender Genie tagged him as a woman.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Good Stuff

This morning John the Methodist posted some videos of songs he liked from his oh-so-recent youth. Willie Deuel and Theresa Coleman ably followed suit. Here's my contribution:

Please note that I was very young when this came out. But it's still one of my favorites.

From my high school years.

Another favorite.

This rendition is almost from before my time but I came to love this song during my youth.

Hope you enjoy these.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Texas Baby Purchasing Act of 2007

When I read this item on Talk To Action my blood pressure shot up several points.

The gist is this: A dazzlingly crass Texas Senator named Dan Patrick has come up with a proposal to pay $500.00 to mothers who will give up their babies for adoption within sixty days of birth. That is, if they are "qualified". What these qualifications might be is not mentioned. Sounds like baby selling doesn't it? Except that the proposal includes a line saying that the law against baby selling doesn't apply here. In other words, it's not baby selling because we say it isn't.

The idea behind this bill is to prevent women from having abortions. I'm all for that. But I still want to find Sen. Patrick and kick him where it will do the most good.

Why, you ask? While there are many things to hate about this bill, two scream out at me at the moment.

First, if this is such a good idea, why not more attractive to wealthier women? After all, many middle-class women have abortions because having children would limit their career opportunities, because they want children, or for a host of other reasons. How about a $500.00 tax break? Or a donation to her favorite charity? "Help Save the Children and get rid of your own unwanted child at the same time! What a deal!" Or are we saying that if your poor it's okay to sell your child but if you're rich, you're above that? In any case, it's an insult.

Second, and more important there is the part of the proposal that says the woman must be "qualified" to get the $500.00. It's one thing to abort a fetus you hardly know is there. Quite another to give up forever a living, breathing child you can hold in your arms. If this thing becomes law there will be mothers tearing out their hearts, perhaps hoping to use the $500.00 to help feed other children, only to find out they're not qualified because their child is too black, or too Mexican, or too handicapped for the state to consider adoptable. No child, and nothing else either. I can't think of a word ugly enough to describe that.

You really need to get the full impact of this thing, so go over there and read it for yourself. Let's hope this proposal winds up in the shredder where it belongs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Two New Resolutions

I've made a couple of resolutions today. One is I'm going to blog more (every day if possible). I mean it this time. It's always been really difficult for me to gather my thoughts and organize them in a coherent fashion. But I think that from now on it will be more important for me to get express my thoughts, for my mental and spiritual health.

Which brings me to the second resolution. I am a member of a Methodist Church. I believe this is where God wants me, so I must, with God's help, adapt myself both spiritually and emotionally to be a Methodist.

This is going to be very difficult for me. Not because of anything wrong Methodism. My church is by far the most loving and the most nurturing of any I have ever attended. The problem is me.

To make a long story a little shorter, I was raised a Catholic. I was taught to have an open, inquiring mind, which always put me a bit at odds with the more authoritarian aspects of the Church. As a young adult I was religiously conservative , politically moderate but somewhat liberal on social issues.

Then I married. I moved to a small town. Starting out, our life looked promising from a financial point of view. Then he became disabled. All my life I had cherished a number of comfortable middle-class ideas about how the poor brought it on themselves. How they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and be grateful for any help they could get. And, finally, so terrible to me now I can hardly write it, how poor women, and even couples, should give up for adoption any children they can't support for adoption. All of this vanished amidst the hell of being poor in Texas.

I've never been able to compartmentalize my religious views, to put them in their own little box away from my life experience. For me, my life and my spirituality are one. So as my political and social views became more liberal, so did my religious views. (I could go into more detail here, but I'll save it for later).

Upon moving to Texas, I started looking for a church. The search was long. We tried the Catholic Church, but the rigidity plus the inconsistencies and hypocrisies that annoyed me proved unbearable to my non-Catholic husband. I wanted a church that would have the things I loved about the Catholic Church, but that my family could love as well. We attended an Episcopal Church. It had nearly everything I loved about the Catholic Church, especially the weekly Eucharist, which I had missed intensely. But it was much more relaxed and democratic. I fell in love. But it was simply to far away for us to attend with any regularity. We couldn't afford the gas. The bottom line was I had to find a church in town.

In this town there numerous churches, but only one mainline Protestant church. That's the Methodist church. There's one Assembly of God. The rest are Southern Baptist, and many other churches that are even more conservative. Some much more so.

I attended a couple of Southern Baptist Churches. I'm too liberal now to fit in there, but I tried anyway. My daughter had problems with the competitive nature of AWANA, the Southern Baptist youth program.

Now we've joined the Methodist Church. My kids both love it. I miss the liturgy, the bells and smells, and, most of all, the Eucharist. We celebrate the Lord's Supper monthly, but it's not the same.

But there is much Historically the UMC has had a great emphasis on social action, less on doctrine. As I read it my heart cries, this is what a church should be. From what I see in the Bible, arguments about whether gays should be married or be ordained is not where God's heart is. His heart is in His poor. We should bring people to Christ not by hounding them into submission with threats of hellfire but by showing them His boundless love. This is how we are to win the world for Christ.

Unfortunately the UMC is largely lost its focus. There is a move underway to make Methodism more conservative. They want more literal, fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture. This worries me. I'm afraid they will turn the UMC into something like Southern Baptist Lite, only without preachers yelling their sermons.

I pray that the UMC will once again be the church that cares about all of God's people, struggling for justice and peace. The world needs this kind of Christian witness. I need it too. And I need to be part of it.

If you are inclined towards prayer please pray that God will help me follow His will in the church and life situation into which I find myself. And that I will be humble enough to listen. I thank you, Lord, for your wonderful care for me and for my family. Please keep up in Your Love and in Your Will. Amen.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

post-methodist: boys to men

In this post Jason Woolever comments approvingly on Raising A Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis. I haven't read the book, but here's what Jason says:

Lewis and some friends made the observation that modern culture doesn't have a right of passage into manhood. He offers some ideas for how men can help their sons transition into adulthood with meaningful ceremonies (such as having godly men gather to encourage them and pray over them... nothing too far out).

He also says that young men need a biblical vision for authentic manhood. He builds it on Scripture. Here's a list of his "Manhood Principles" without explanation.

A real man...
#1 - rejects passivity
#2 - accepts responsibility
#3 - leads courageously
#4 - expects the greater reward...God's reward.

Read the book for a thorough explanation of these principles and why they are so important. I recommend it to every man who has a son.

It does sound like some very good principles. But isn't it just as important for my daughter to be strong and courageous as it is for my son? Why can't we get rid of this "men should be strong, women should be passive" mentality and just raise good Christian children?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Wild Child of Grace

I'm ailing again, so please forgive me if this post isn't as coherent as it should be. I simply can't seem to stay well these days.

Yesterday my son, E., and my daughter, A., were in the children's Christmas production at our church. E. had a speaking role and performed it beautifully. A. was in the chorus.

In the past, A. has had problems with speech development, his temper and paying attention. He has improved greatly in the past year, but still has occasional flareups. So I was a little concerned about how he would do in the show.

On Saturday, at the next-to-last practice, he was perfect. So I started to relax. Too soon. On Sunday E. had the squirmies.

The Children's Minister had directed everyone to stand still and keep their eyes on the audience. This was lost on E. He sat down. He stood up. He watched himself on the screen next to the altar. He looked everywhere but in front.

I really started to worry when he noticed the scenery behind him. A flat piece of wood with a musical score on it started to shake. I began to envision what would happen when it fell.

I was embarrassed, but I love my son, and I know the other church members love him too. They proved that when he was hospitalized two months ago.

Then something struck me. It was one of those little moments of grace that happen to us from time to time. I thought to myself, the nice, easy-going people of the world seldom oppose the entire religious, political and social structure. Jesus never sinned, of course, but the strength of character he showed must have come from somewhere. Maybe, just maybe Mary had a few moments like this with Jesus.

Everything worked out. The backdrop didn't fall, and both children received many compliments. Before the next church production I'll have a talk with E. about standing still and looking at the audience. But in the meantime I'm going to cherish this child of grace. Grace that is sometimes difficult to receive, but grace nonetheless.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm Back...For Now

As anyone can see, I haven't been blogging in awhile. I've been sickly a bit recently, and I've been reading and thinking a good deal about the Methodist Church and Christianity in general. I've been very much wanting to write about that. But because of the way my brain is wired, I have difficulty gathering my thoughts together into a coherent whole. I want my writing to be precise, well-organized and interesting, but I can't figure out how to do it. And the effort is time-consuming and painful.

But I need the discipline of writing. I need to put those words together, difficult though it is, if only to work out for myself what I believe.

So here we go again.