Category Archives: Current Events

Shame on the New York Times

Everyone who knows me knows that if you like homogeneity in your Facebook friends list, you just shouldn’t connect to me. I have a Muslim charity and Israeli new sites in my feed; I still maintain contact with my college friend who became a preacher as well as the high school friends who are wiccan or viking neo-pagan leaders. I have heterosexuals and homosexuals and just about every kind of sexual being in my list.

So it’s not unusual for me to read pieces from different viewpoints. Like this article in the Op Ed section of the New York Times (last accessed 8/14/2016, should my piece stir them to remove it *snorts* or should it be a very special kind of bait-and-switch hack *snorts again*). The title of the article is “Is God Transgender?” and was written by Mark Sameth.

The argument was based on the idea that the feminine pronoun was used instead of the masculine. And I was irritated for I knew some of the very references and I knew that whatever version was referenced it probably was in error or the editor was an incredibly lousy theological editor.

For my source, I used BibleGateway. I pulled up four or five different English translations or versions, and I compared them side by side.

First, Mr. Sameth claims Genesis 3:12 that Eve is referred to as “he.” Going to my source, the New International, New King James, Orthodox Jewish Bible, and Complete Jewish Bible all use “she.” The dissenting version, the Names of God, takes a very Bill Clinton approach and calls Eve, “that woman, the one you gave me.”

Next, in Genesis 9:21, the author states that Noah retired to her tent. Now, this isn’t the daughter named Noah that I referred to in an earlier post. This is the man Noah who built the ark and got the animals to safety. And… *trumpet fanfare* all five sources say “his tent.”

In reading Genesis 24:16, Mr. Sameth claims that Rebekah is referred to as a “young man.” In this case, I must remove the Orthodox Jewish Bible because it uses distinctly Jewish words and vocabulary, probably to express that translation will not be good if possible at all. All four other versions refer to Rebekah as a beautiful or attractive virgin who had never been with a man. Perhaps the author of the Times piece just misread this passage; we’re all human and make mistakes.

For Genesis 1:27, the author claims that Adam is referred to with the plural them. Again, I must remove the Orthodox Jewish Bible. However, all four other versions use mankind, humans, man, humankind. I suspect the New King James used the more global version of the word man, that is, it refers to all humans by having just the one stand for them.

*pulls knife out of heart* Esther is one of my favorite stories. To see how Mr. Sameth treated Mordecai is absolutely deplorable. My four sources–New International Version, Names of God, New King James, and Complete Jewish Bible–all use not nursing words, but words of adoption, rearing, or parenting. The Orthodox Jewish Bible uses the word bat,  which is the word for daughter.

As for the Isaiah 49:23 reference, it is kings who are serving as foster fathers; the queens do the nursing. Now, perhaps Mr. Sameth was using the modern definition of queen; I can give him that. However, that use of queen is pejorative and very beneath the argument he was trying to build.

I appreciate that this is a multi-cultural world. Not everyone will agree with me. More than likely, I will be in the minority. Yet I am open minded enough to at least hear you out and try to see things your way even if I don’t agree.

However, if you expect me to seriously consider your position, you really need to do your homework and have your facts straight. If I already disagree with something, I’m not likely to change my mind if you don’t check the facts.

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An Open Letter to Jessica Valenti

Author’s Note: I interrupt my regularly scheduled blog drivel to share something that has hit me hard. I saw this article come across my feed today, stating that Jessica Valenti was leaving social media. It is about how some women are being targeted and forced out of social media because some people don’t like their views. I know I’ve written about this from a different perspective in Death of Blogger, so let’s flip this truth diamond and look at this from a different angle yet again.

Dear Jessica,

I know I’m not a personal friend. My blog probably would never be followed by you. More than likely, we’d disagree on too many issues to number and discuss in this life time. And I’ve not yet read or heard your work, so I’ll have to do some due diligence later. :’)

I am so sorry you are going through this. I cannot begin to describe how you must feel, how precious your baby is to you, how hard leaving social media must be.

I can describe the fear and dread I often feel. I know in a way it’s cowardice for me, as I write under a pen name late at night after I’ve tucked my three angels with hidden disabilities into bed at night.

But I chose to write under a pen name so I could at least get my ideas out. I’ve studied history; tyrants often choose to take out those who are different, those who write and think, and those who would be the defenders long before they attack the rest of their “enemies.”

And growing up in a small town, I’ve seen how sometimes those whose gifts are different can be belittled, bullied, and emotionally destroyed by the majority who don’t have those gifts or ideas. Sometimes, they even tease children for what parents or relatives have done. Yes, not all places are like that, but some are. And in those places, not all people are like that.

I also learned that you have to assess the situation. Is this a bully you can kick between the legs and get some street credit? Is this a bully that you can hide from for a while so he or she forgets you and then you come back in a different part of the area? Is this a bully that you need to run and never come back to?

I think social media is our new small town. Trolls are just the new bullies. And we bloggers, podcasters, and whatever term is in vogue are the freaks, geeks, and outcasts they tear down to make themselves feel bigger, better, smarter, and taller. And sometimes, they will be so small they’ll have to target poor, defenseless children to feel better.

None of these realizations made me feel any better. I’m sure they won’t make you feel better either. Unfortunately, you cannot hide forever and you cannot hate an entire place for the actions of a few.

What can we do? I do applaud a temporary halt from social media. Completely disconnect everything, pack up your precious little girl, and go someplace off grid. Rest, relax, and revel in what I’m sure are some precious and precocious antics your daughter engages in. Yes, it will be hard at first, as none of us is used to the deafening silence that comes in the absence of electronics.

But don’t stay away forever. Come back with protections for your daughter that make you feel she is safe but leave you empowered to voice what you believe. I may not accept what you believe, but if I want the freedom to express my beliefs within reason and courtesy with respect, I need to give those who have other views the same freedom.

When things get bad again (and they will), I’m not going to say to suck it up, because the stress of sucking it up can be physically and emotionally damaging. I’m going to argue that we need to work together to shield one another, to circle the wagons, and to lift and encourage each other. And sometimes, we need to carry the deeply wounded off the field to a hero’s welcome and let them stay away.

I don’t know your religious background, so I don’t know if this will help. I intend to pray for you and your little girl as often as I see your name in writing, not that I would change your heart or views (not that it isn’t possible) but that you would both be protected and you would have the strength you need in that moment to speak the truth that is necessary.

Agape,

Kittie

Please Explain…

Author’s Note: This is going to be one of those controversial adult topic posts. I’m struggling and confused.

I understand, just barely, the whole transgendered thing. You feel in your mind and spirit that you identify with the opposite gender of the body you have. That’s hard.

But what I don’t understand is why those who are transgendered with male bodies and female minds and spirits have to push on the whole restroom thing. These individuals are not physically female so why should they get to use the female restroom.

Personally, if they are so wound up in the feminine mind and soul, why can they not understand that some women have been so horribly treated by those who are totally male that the presence of anything physically male in the restroom with them could trigger flashbacks or other negative reactions?

And why can the government not just make a simple rule: go with your biology? If you’re physically male, use the male restroom. If you’re physically female, use the female restroom.

Why are women once again expected to yield privacy and safety and comfort to physical males, regardless of gender identity of mind and spirit?

And how would men feel if the most unseemly, hard-featured women started squatting on their urinals during “that” time of the month? The women may be transgendered, or they may be feminazis claiming to be transgendered in an effort to teach an object lesson through extreme performance art.

And yet, I’m now running into the question of what do you do if someone has been abused and molested by someone of the same physical gender?

Maybe, instead of fighting over idealogies, businesses could consider redesigning restrooms. Instead of rows and rows of stalls, businesses could create individual, private restrooms with locking doors. Keep them clean (translate sanitized and disinfected), and keep them unisex. We’d have fewer numbers and we might have to wait more; however, privacy and safety would be uncompromised.

But who knows? I don’t. I’m just a simple country girl. I can use an outhouse. 🙂

Dear Will…

Author’s Note: As usual, I’m changing names to protect innocent and guilty alike. I’ve renamed the man who was a very good friend to me after the son of a professional I greatly respect. This thank you is nearly 25 years overdue. And his eyes were electric blue…

Dear Will,

It’s been over two decades since we’ve seen each other. I always loved the way we could talk multiple periods of history in 15 minutes while the bio and geo majors watched in awe. And it’s been 25 years since that night, the one I no longer talk about. I was too trusting and naive, I’d said no twice, and I spiralled out of control.

I’d tried several people to talk to about that night. Because the man-child who couldn’t take no was a respected leader in the student religious community and my yearmate, no one wanted to believe me, no one wanted to talk about it, and I was supposed to forgive and pretend it had never happened.

You had to be in a hard position, being in a group that he was in. You were to see him like a brother, to defend and protect him and all that entails. And yet, somehow, you found time and room to hear me out.

I’m not sure everything is clear in my mind. And I might have things out of order — stress does that to me.

I remember we took a long walk the following fall. It was starting to frost, but the frost was melted for that time of day. The farmer’s field had dead corn stalks, and the river made gentle flowing water sounds. I don’t remember the exact words I used, but you listened. You believed me. You helped me connect to some resources the next town over.

I believe I was silent on the way back, and pretty much shut everyone out after that. And I made some wild, wild choices. But I don’t think I talked about why I shut down, or why I gave in and tried to make everything look good for the three years he lived the proverbial two doors down.

The professional who listened to me showed me the exact text of the law. At that time, there was little difference between rape and sexual assault except Tab P in Slot V and fluid samples. In my case, because my clothes were still on, I had no legal recourse.

That was so hard. But you did listen, you stayed kind, and as far as I know you never shared anything I shared.

Thanks for listening and validating and believing. You helped me get the information I needed to let go, to not take the poison of anger and unforgiveness into myself and expect it to end the life of the man-child. The seeds you planted did not help right away, but eventually the fruit did grow.

I think your wisdom and concern have shown me the folly of some efforts to focus on forcing perpetrators to be found 20 or 30 years after the fact. So much more could be done to heal victims if we listened, believed, and gave them the proper tools to process what happened to them. Revenge never results in true justice.

I hope we do meet again. So much good has come to me in all this time, and I’d love to share it in person instead of here on my blog.

Agape and phileo,

Kittie

It’s Time to Act!

It’s twilight. You’re out walking, maybe it’s a park or maybe it’s a concert or maybe it’s a football game. You catch a little scuffle out of the corner of your eye, but you’re not sure what happened so you keep moving.

The next day, you hear the news. You didn’t know what you didn’t know, and now someone has been hurt because you didn’t act.

Never again! All it takes for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.

You have to get involved when you see something happen. Maybe you saw some teens putting down or verbally intimidating another teen. Maybe you heard a friend say something degrading behind the back of a female friend. Maybe you saw a male friend get too physically intimate with a female friend who looked uncomfortable. Maybe you saw a friend spike the drink of a stranger in the hopes of having a good time.

Bullying, sexual assault, domestic violence, and rape all happen every day in every community. However, statistics show that the vast majority of instances are never reported. Victims don’t seek help, or authorities blame the victim in a way that makes the victim give up. Even when victims are believed and taken seriously, the perpetrators are rarely caught.

Our culture likes to promote independence and keeping to ourselves as critical values to support. This makes education, prevention, and even intervention in the moment difficult. But it doesn’t have to be.

If we opened our eyes to see each person as someone we love–our mothers, brothers, cousins, sisters, BFFs–the courage and strength will rise up and give us power to act.

If something looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Said another way outside the trite colloquialism, if something looks wrong, it probably is.

Get involved. Ask questions. Act like the victim’s friend. Act like a crazy bag lady. If you don’t feel comfortable, find someone who will.

If you speak up, you are not a wet blanket, zero wannabe hero, killjoy, buzzkill, or a different derogatory term. You are showing the victim or potential victim that you see them, that they are real, that they are not alone, and that you care.

It’s time to stand for those who cannot speak for themselves in a moment of need. Because next time, it could be someone you love who needs help in your absence.


 

Author’s Note: April is not only for autism awareness; it is also for sexual assault awareness and child abuse awareness.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (site at http://www.nsvrc.org/about/national-sexual-violence-resource-center) has excellent information related to sexual assault awareness (yes, I did use the letter to the editor as a springboard to this post).

The US Department of Health and Human Services also has a subsite (at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/) with information related to child abuse prevention.

This piece is dedicated to:

  • The 44% of survivors under 18
  • The 30% of survivors under 30
  • The new survivor every 107 seconds
  • The 293,000 survivors every year
  • The 68% of survivors who never report
  • The 98% of survivors whose perpetrators never serve human justice

 

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh… Stayin’ the Same!

Recently, the news has been sensationalizing.. er, reporting about sexual scandal within the denominational pew of our Latin Rite siblings in Christ. They blame the rules about celibacy and chastity, they blame the traditions and ritualistic trappings, they blame the structure of the hierarchy.

Everyone acts like this ungodly behavior is so new it should shock and appall. And indeed, it should shock and appall.

In reality, this behavior is older than Greece and Rome. In fact, it goes all the way back to the garden when humankind as represented by Adam and Eve first told God that His rules sucked and they’d live their own way.

Even with the advent of Jesus and His all-sufficient death on the Cross followed by His Resurrection, misbehavior (or sin as it really should be called) continued. As the Gospel spread, some changed their wicked ways; others continued to perpetrate wickedness and just got more clever about hiding it.

Enter Boccaccio in the middle of the 14th century. He writes a book that is a collection of 100 stories about all the problems in his era. It’s called the Decameron. Ten travelers tell stories each day for ten days. Each day has a different leader for that day, and the leader picks the topic for the day.

I read it aons ago, and only one story ever stayed with me. It’s told on the third day as the last story. And I still feel great nausea to this day.

A non-Christian girl who is incredibly naïve decides to seek God in the desert as a hermit. She runs into a monk. The monk tricks her into allowing him to rape her by convincing her she will greatly please God if he (the monk) is allowed to help her “put the devil into Hell.”

She truly enjoys the “exorcism,” almost to the point of the monk’s physical destruction. But since she’s an heiress, she is kidnapped and forced to marry her kidnapper. She is devastated at her loss of the ability to please God through “exorcism.”

The village women are very concerned about the girl’s emotional health. So they get her to talk. When they learn of the “exorcism” routine, they reassure the girl that she will soon be able to please God following her marriage.

Well, now, isn’t it special? I believe those of you in the Latin Rite pew aren’t “allowed” to read this book as it’s “morally offensive.”

For those of us in Protestant denominational pews, it is a cautionary tale. We need to live authentic, open lives living up to the standard of God’s Word, which won’t pass away, and the life and choices of Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We need to not carry tales when we hear of Latin Rite issues.

We need to be in prayer for our Latin Rite siblings. Pray for their shepherds to remain true to celibacy and the other high ideals they seek to live as they lead and guide God’s people. Pray for parents and children to be filled with the Holy Spirit and His discernment to be able to avoid the false shepherds with their empty promises and deceitful actions.

For those still Latin Rite, what can I say? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Your devotion to centuries of tradition and ritual, while at times not contrary to the Word, leaves you open to deception and maltreatment.

Be open to the leading of the Spirit to seek and support your good shepherds. Challenge the deacons, priests, and bishops to review the situations that have happened to find newer, more world-conscious ways of doing Confession, altar serving, and any other occasion that the enemy of our souls could use to destroy your future faithful.

If an idea, book, or topic is forbidden, find and explore it! Review it against the standards of God’s Word to find what your response should be (yeah, I guess you could use Tradition too–just don’t expect Protestant siblings to follow suit).

The secret things should be brought to the Light and explored. Further secrecy only leads to tragedy and perpetuation of abuse.

A Picture of Phoebe

Author’s Note: I’ve been tinkering with this poem for days. I’ve cleared writing it with the young woman who is my model for Phoebe. I hope it does her justice and on a bad day gives her the courage to choose life and choose it to the full. If you feel like you want to hurt someone, please get help. If you feel like you want to hurt yourself, please get help. You might feel invisible sometimes, but  even the smallest person out of place has a trickle down effect.

Phoebe’s photo came across my feed today.
She’s always stunning in that Goth chick way,
And yet if you look closely,
You’ll see the disguise that hides the lies.

The flowing blouse…
Covers a stick-thin frame
Housing a soul starved
For real love–
Of self, from others,
With no negative ties.

The bright makeup…
Conceals a dark sorrow
Sheltering a heart that fights
To banish darkness–
Of anguish, Of self-loathing
With light of love and truth.

The fresh ink…
Hides scars on a wrist
Displaying for the world
To proclaim a shameful wounding
Too deep, too dark,
With words unspeakable to describe the horrors.

How I long to hold you!
Not as a resident of Sappho’s Lesbos,
But as a spiritual mother to a little girl-woman–
Tender, pure, loved,
The apple of Her Father’s eyes,
A precious delight.

I wish I had Creator’s power
To speak Creator’s Words–
To build a foundation for your soul,
To erect secure boundaries for your heart,
To install gates for your mind
That cleanse the darkness
And re-place the beauty
That Father God gave you in the womb.

But I don’t,
And I can’t.

It’s not mine to do.

All I can do is watch and pray,
But it’s not enough, it’s never enough.

And yet…it should be more than enough.