Showing posts with label Sunday Inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunday Inspiration. Show all posts

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Happy Easter - Love Will Find A Way



























Good Morning, NiftyReaders and Happy Easter! May you be filled with the hope and joy of springtime, and feel the rejuvenating power of love.  If you've been running low on hope, joy and love, please take a few minutes to watch and listen to the music video below. I promise, it is worth it.


Love Will Find A Way

Til I'm gone away
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
[x4]

This is a song for all kinds of people
All of the cities and all of the streets yo
The synagogue and the mosque and the steeple
The bad, ugly, the good and the evil
Some shoot bullets and some shootin' needles
Some are trying to get by with illegals
Getting trapped behind the concrete walls
Some are trying just to get equal

Could you ever
Could you ever
Give more today?
Or could you
Give a little
Give a little
To help love find a way?

And when you feeling like you can't go on
Love will find a way
And through the clouds and smoke and guns and bombs
Love will find a way
And when the whole world falls on their knees to pray
That love will win today
Just keep holding on, holding on
Cause love will find a way

Til I'm gone away
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
[x4]

Yo nobody's born hating another person
A mad world puts that poison in us
But if we can learn to hate another person
Then we can learn to love a brother or sister
Another mother or mister
Don't be part of the system
Join the universal nation                           
Communication
Communication
In every nation                                           
Worldwide
Worldwide

Could you ever
Could you ever
Give more today?
Could you
Give a little
Give a little
To help love find a way?

And when you feeling like you can't go on
Love will find a way
And through the clouds and smoke and guns and bombs
Love will find a way
And when the whole world falls on their knees to pray
That love will win today
Just keep holding on, holding on
Cause love will find a way

Til I'm gone away
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
[x2]

Til I'm gone away (Til I'm gone away, til I'm gone away)
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
Til I'm gone away (Every man, woman and child)
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
Til I'm gone away (Every color, every nation, every style)
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
(To create and to liberate and to celebrate)
Til I'm gone away (Not to hate)
This is what I'll say
This is what I'll say
Peace y'all
Peace y'all
Peace y'all
Peace y'all
Peace y'all

- Michael Franti & Spearhead


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!


Thank goddess, Christians are constitutionally protected from having to participate in pagan rituals!
(photo credit: Cambridge-News.co.uk)


Mark your calendars, NiftyReaders. Today, I agree wholeheartedly with a fundamentalist Christian argument. According to online sources for Christian correctness, Christians have a big problem with Easter. The problem is that Easter is not Christian enough. In fact, Easter is not Christian or Biblically endorsed at all.

Hot cross buns?
Abominations!
Now let’s go to the other scriptures authorizing Easter. This presents a problem. There are NONE! There are absolutely no verses, anywhere in the Bible, that authorize or endorse the keeping of Easter celebration! The Bible says nothing about Lent, eggs and egg hunts, baskets of candy, etc., although it does mention hot cross buns and sunrise services as abominations, which God condemns. (The True Origin of Easter, the Reformed Church of God.org)

The name “Easter” has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, we prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ's resurrection. (What is the origin of Easter? ChristianAnswers.org)

Oh, those pagans with their "Happy Easter/Happy Holidays"! Unbelievers have been distracting Christians from the true meaning of Christianity's most important holidays for too long! Easter is all about springtime, flowers budding, bunnies, chicks and sex. So unChristian!  Resurrection Sunday is about the story of a dead man who disappeared from his tomb and is believed to have risen from the dead after a horrific execution. That's more like it! Ask any Christian, he will tell you: holidays don't get much more joyful than that!

Coloring eggs? 
That's a no-no, Christians!
For these reasons, I would prefer that Christians use the term "Resurrection Sunday" rather than Easter, too! It makes perfect sense for Christians - who happily profess to be washed in the blood of Jesus, after all - to name their own holiday something more appropriate to what it really is about. I enthusiastically support their right to begin calling their holy day by this name forthwith. Keep the Resurrection in Resurrection Sunday!

And while we are on the subject, why do devout Christians allow the secularists to win on Good Friday, too? Why accept the politically correct - and frankly much too bland - "Good Friday"?  Christians, call it what it is!  It is Crucifixion Friday! It is high time that Christians admit to the rest of the world - loud and proud - that their holiday is about blood, torture and a terrible death, not the Easter Bunny, jellybeans and a chocolate coma!

And about those Easter Eggs. No, no, no, Christians. Do you have any idea of the depraved history of these pagan symbols? Easter eggs are pagan symbols of a fertility goddess! ChristianAnswers can fill you in:

Most children and families who color or hide Easter eggs as part of their Resurrection Sunday tradition have no knowledge of the origin of these traditions. Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.
“The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg - according to the ancient story - the Goddess Astarte (Easter) [Semiramis], was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter.”
Sneaky... but they're still eggs.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The idea of a mystic egg spread from Babylon to many parts of the world. In Rome, the mystic egg preceded processions in honor of the Mother Goddess Roman. The egg was part of the sacred ceremonies of the Mysteries of Bacchus. The Druids used the egg as their sacred emblem. In Northern Europe, China and Japan the eggs were colored for their sacred festivals.
The egg was also a symbol of fertility; Semiramis (Easter) was the goddess of Fertility. The Easter egg is a symbol of the pagan Mother Goddess, and it even bears one of her names.

Do you hear that? Fables! Fertility! A Mother Goddess! The horror! Now, do you see why no true Christian should ever be caught dead dyeing eggs or participating in Easter egg hunts? Instead of an almighty (yet silent and invisible) creator god, the humble egg has been universally celebrated as a symbol of fertility and new life for thousands of years only because those people chose not to know any better. Dozens of cultures who observed the natural world around them, recognized the natural cycle of birth, life and death and celebrated the life-giving sunlight, moon cycle (reproductive cycle) and motherhood in the form of goddess worship were clearly unChristian, evil and pagan.

Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and marshmallow chicks are all very seductive. They seem like delicious innocent fun, but they are not. They are dangerous temptations down the road to unbelief. They suggest natural sources of life and, with those eggs and chicks and hens and such, they are also suggestive of all of the necessary and naturally-occurring components of reproduction. They suggest that the plants and animals on the earth - including human beings - are actually born, live and die without the aid or interference of any deity. Of course, throbbing, pulsing, thriving, living reality cannot compete with the power of fervent, mystical religious belief (right? amirite?), but why should Christians risk it?

And just in case you didn't catch the recurring motif of feminine power in those evil, pagan myths, just look what else this Easter/Eastre "holiday" is all about (according to ChristianAnswers):

Nice try, Christians, but no.
... this adulterous and idolatrous woman gave birth to an illegitimate son, she claimed that this son, Tammuz by name, was Nimrod reborn.” Semiramis “claimed that her son was supernaturally conceived [no human father] and that he was the promised seed, the 'savior'” - promised by God in Genesis 3:15. “However, not only was the child worshipped, but the woman, the MOTHER, was also worshipped as much (or more) than the son!” Nimrod deified as the god of the sun and father of creation. Semiramis became the goddess of the moon, fertility, etc.

The woman, the MOTHER (!!1eleventy1!) was worshipped! If ever there was proof that Easter is an unChristian festival, this creation of a female god is it. Any mythology that pays respect to women - let alone that elevates one to goddess status - autonomous, powerful and life-giving - is a mythology that is antithetical to everything that patriarchal Christianity stands for.

And come on, look at that silly fable! It cannot hold a candle to the 100% true, God-breathed, divine message in the Bible describing the singular Truth of Christianity: An innocent and immaculate young virgin miraculously gave birth to a son. The Bible claims that this son, Jesus by name, was the son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit (no human father) and that he was the promised Messiah - the "savior" promised by God in Genesis 3:15. Not only is the child, Jesus, worshipped as he should be, but his mother, Mary is also paid deference as only the Mother of God deserves to be.

Now, that is a story that has the ring of ultimate Truth™!

In the old fables of the Mystery cults, their 'savior' Tammuz, was worshipped with various rites at the Spring season. According to the legends, after he was slain [killed by a wild boar], he went into the underworld. But through the weeping of his mother… he mystically revived in the springing forth of the vegetation - in Spring! Each year a spring festival dramatically represented this supposed 'resurrection'...

Nope.
In the old holy scriptures of the One True Faith, the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, is worshipped with various rites at the spring season. According to the inerrant word of the Bible, after he was slain (killed by Roman occupiers), he died and descended into hell. But according to the will of his father, he mystically revived - bringing "new life" to the world - in Spring! Each spring, during holy days, worshippers dramatically re-enact the utterly unverifiable story totally true Biblical account of this real resurrection.

Thus, a terrible false religion developed with its sun and moon worship, priests, astrology, demonic worship, worship of stars associated with their gods, idolatry, mysterious rites, human sacrifice, and more. Frankly, the practices which went on were so horrible that it is not fitting for me to speak of them here.

Exactly.  We will speak no more about it. The Christian religion with its divine Son worship, priests, mysticism, belief in angels and demons, worship of holy shrines associated with visions of their gods, angels and saints, mysterious rites and liturgical human sacrifice ritual is so much more than this terrible false religion from which Easter has sprung. For one thing, Christians add ritual cannibalism after the ritual human sacrifice! Frankly, these practices are so obviously correct, righteous and good, that it is not fitting for any Christian to participate in anything else. The source of that whole springtime/ new life/ bunnies and eggs/ ickily feminine, fertility cultish, Eastery thing is a terrible, false religion. What kind of a legitimate spring/rebirth festival elevates a MOTHER over a son? Definitely not a Christian festival!

Easter is clearly an evil pagan festival which Christians ought to decry.

Absolutely not!
Christians ought to take a stand against this tawdry commercialization of Christianity's most glorious holiday and simply refuse to partake in it. Perhaps they could demand that retailers post Happy Resurrection Sunday signs in their stores. Insist that schools and businesses should be closed out of respect for Crucifixion Friday. Fight for the power to teach schoolchildren the Good News™- whether they are Christian or not - through faith-building activities. Why shouldn't they be able to put on an annual Passion Play in public schools? What little boy wouldn't love to portray the crucified Jesus? What little girl hasn't dreamed of being cast as the Blessed Virgin grieving over the broken body of her murdered son? Even the littlest Christians can partake in the spirit-filled fun by baking Resurrection Cookies with Mom. As Mom reads the appropriate scriptures, the little ones can beat nuts into pieces with a wooden spoon and imagine they are breaking the bones of their long-suffering savior†. Godly, wholesome, fearsome fun. Now, that is the way to celebrate Easter Joy Resurrection Sunday!

One might wonder if there is a better way for Christians to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection, the most important of all Christian holy days. In retrospect, it seems obvious that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to “Christianize” pagan celebrations* - adopting the name “Easter” (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ. Jesus has been obscured by painted eggs and bunnies. Attention has been shifted away from spiritual truth and toward materialism (clothing, products and candies with the wrong symbolism). Stores merchandise the name of Easter (not “Resurrection Sunday”) and sell goods that have nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection.

I couldn't agree more. Leave that pagan Easter business to the heathens, Christians! Resurrection Sunday belongs to you and Easter belongs to the rest of us. You glorify divine capital punishment, substitutionary atonement and human sacrifice - we prefer bunnies, eggs and chocolate. You keep the Crucifixion in Crucifixion Friday and the Resurrection in Resurrection Sunday and we will keep the Easter in Easter. Sounds fair to me.

(This post was previously published on this blog)

† Read the Resurrection Cookie link. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.
Can I get an "Amen" to this, brothers and sisters?

That's right, Easter Bunny, just keep on hopping right out of the Christian calendar. 
And you can take your abominable eggs with you!










Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!
























New Year's Morning

Only a night from old to new!
Only a night, and so much wrought!
The Old Year’s heart all weary grew,
But said: “The New Year rest has brought.”
The Old Year’s hopes its heart laid down,
As in a grave; but, trusting, said:
“The blossoms of the New Year’s crown
Bloom from the ashes of the dead.”                          
The Old Year’s heart was full of greed;
With selfishness it longed and ached,                          
And cried: “I have not half I need.
My thirst is bitter and unslaked.
But to the New Year’s generous hand
All gifts in plenty shall return;
True love it shall understand;
By all my failures it shall learn.
I have been reckless; it shall be
Quiet and calm and pure of life.
I was a slave; it shall go free,
And find sweet peace where I leave strife.”
Only a night from old to new!
Never a night such changes brought.
The Old Year had its work to do;
No New Year miracles are wrought.

Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year’s morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.

- Helen Hunt Jackson


Sunday, March 31, 2013

The War on Easter!

Thank goddess, Christians are constitutionally protected from having to participate in pagan rituals!




























Mark your calendars, NiftyReaders. Today, I agree wholeheartedly with a fundamentalist Christian argument. According to online sources for Christian correctness, Christians have a big problem with Easter. The problem is that Easter is not Christian enough. In fact, Easter is not Christian or Biblically endorsed at all.


Hot cross buns?
Abominations!
Now let’s go to the other scriptures authorizing Easter. This presents a problem. There are NONE! There are absolutely no verses, anywhere in the Bible, that authorize or endorse the keeping of Easter celebration! The Bible says nothing about Lent, eggs and egg hunts, baskets of candy, etc., although it does mention hot cross buns and sunrise services as abominations, which God condemns. (The True Origin of Easter, the Reformed Church of God.org)

The name “Easter” has its roots in ancient polytheistic religions (paganism). On this, all scholars agree. This name is never used in the original Scriptures, nor is it ever associated biblically with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For these reasons, we prefer to use the term “Resurrection Sunday” rather than “Easter” when referring to the annual Christian remembrance of Christ's resurrection. (What is the origin of Easter? ChristianAnswers.org)

Oh, those pagans with their "Happy Easter/Happy Holidays"! Unbelievers have been distracting Christians from the true meaning of Christianity's most important holidays for too long! Easter is all about springtime, flowers budding, bunnies, chicks and sex. So unChristian!  Resurrection Sunday is about the story of a dead man who disappeared from his tomb and is believed to have risen from the dead after a horrific execution. That's more like it! Ask any Christian, he will tell you: holidays don't get much more joyful than that!

Coloring eggs? 
That's a no-no, Christians!
For these reasons, I would prefer that Christians use the term "Resurrection Sunday" rather than Easter, too. It makes perfect sense for Christians - who happily profess to be washed in the blood of Jesus, after all - to name their own holiday something more appropriate to what it really is about. I enthusiastically support their right to begin calling their holy day by this name forthwith. Keep the Resurrection in Resurrection Sunday!

And while we are on the subject, why do devout Christians allow the secularists to win on Good Friday, too? Why accept the politically correct - and frankly much too bland - "Good Friday"?  Christians, call it what it is!  It is Crucifixion Friday! It is high time that Christians admit to the rest of the world - loud and proud - that their holiday is about blood, torture and a terrible death, not the Easter Bunny, jellybeans and a chocolate coma!

And about those Easter Eggs. No, no, no, Christians. Do you have any idea of the depraved history of these pagan symbols? Easter eggs are pagan symbols of a fertility goddess! ChristianAnswers can fill you in:

Most children and families who color or hide Easter eggs as part of their Resurrection Sunday tradition have no knowledge of the origin of these traditions. Easter egg activities have become a part of Western culture. Many would be surprised and even dismayed to learn where the traditions originated.
“The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians. They believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which was supposed to have fallen from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvelous egg - according to the ancient story - the Goddess Astarte (Easter) [Semiramis], was hatched. And so the egg came to symbolize the Goddess Easter.”
Sneaky... but they're still eggs.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The idea of a mystic egg spread from Babylon to many parts of the world. In Rome, the mystic egg preceded processions in honor of the Mother Goddess Roman. The egg was part of the sacred ceremonies of the Mysteries of Bacchus. The Druids used the egg as their sacred emblem. In Northern Europe, China and Japan the eggs were colored for their sacred festivals.
The egg was also a symbol of fertility; Semiramis (Easter) was the goddess of Fertility. The Easter egg is a symbol of the pagan Mother Goddess, and it even bears one of her names.

Do you hear that? Fables! Fertility! A Mother Goddess! The horror! Now, do you see why no true Christian should ever be caught dead dyeing eggs or participating in Easter egg hunts? Instead of an almighty (yet silent and invisible) creator god, the humble egg has been universally celebrated as a symbol of fertility and new life for thousands of years only because those people chose not to know any better. Dozens of cultures who observed the natural world around them, recognized the natural cycle of birth, life and death and celebrated the life-giving sunlight, moon cycle (reproductive cycle) and motherhood in the form of goddess worship were clearly unChristian, evil and pagan.

Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and marshmallow chicks are all very seductive. They seem like delicious innocent fun, but they are not. They are dangerous temptations down the road to unbelief. They suggest natural sources of life and, with those eggs and chicks and hens and such, they are also suggestive of all of the necessary and naturally-occurring components of reproduction. They suggest that the plants and animals on the earth - including human beings - are actually born, live and die without the aid or interference of any deity. Of course, throbbing, pulsing, thriving, living reality cannot compete with the power of fervent, mystical religious belief (right? amirite?), but why should Christians risk it?

And just in case you didn't catch the recurring motif of feminine power in those evil, pagan myths, just look what else this Easter/Eastre "holiday" is all about (according to ChristianAnswers):

Nice try, Christians, but no.
... this adulterous and idolatrous woman gave birth to an illegitimate son, she claimed that this son, Tammuz by name, was Nimrod reborn.” Semiramis “claimed that her son was supernaturally conceived [no human father] and that he was the promised seed, the 'savior'” - promised by God in Genesis 3:15. “However, not only was the child worshipped, but the woman, the MOTHER, was also worshipped as much (or more) than the son!” Nimrod deified as the god of the sun and father of creation. Semiramis became the goddess of the moon, fertility, etc.

The woman, the MOTHER (!!1eleventy1!) was worshipped! If ever there was proof that Easter is an unChristian festival, this creation of a female god is it. Any mythology that pays respect to women - let alone that elevates one to goddess status - autonomous, powerful and life-giving - is a mythology that is antithetical to everything that patriarchal Christianity stands for.

And come on, look at that silly fable! It cannot hold a candle to the 100% true, God-breathed, divine message in the Bible describing the singular Truth of Christianity: An innocent and immaculate young virgin miraculously gave birth to a son. The Bible claims that this son, Jesus by name, was the son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit (no human father) and that he was the promised Messiah - the "savior" promised by God in Genesis 3:15. Not only is the child, Jesus, worshipped as he should be, but his mother, Mary is also paid deference as only the Mother of God deserves to be.

Now, that is a story that has the ring of ultimate Truth™!

In the old fables of the Mystery cults, their 'savior' Tammuz, was worshipped with various rites at the Spring season. According to the legends, after he was slain [killed by a wild boar], he went into the underworld. But through the weeping of his mother… he mystically revived in the springing forth of the vegetation - in Spring! Each year a spring festival dramatically represented this supposed 'resurrection'...

Nope.
In the old holy scriptures of the One True Faith, the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, is worshipped with various rites at the spring season. According to the inerrant word of the Bible, after he was slain (killed by Roman occupiers), he died and descended into hell. But according to the will of his father, he mystically revived - bringing "new life" to the world - in Spring! Each spring, during holy days, worshippers dramatically re-enact the utterly unverifiable story totally true Biblical account of this real resurrection.

Thus, a terrible false religion developed with its sun and moon worship, priests, astrology, demonic worship, worship of stars associated with their gods, idolatry, mysterious rites, human sacrifice, and more. Frankly, the practices which went on were so horrible that it is not fitting for me to speak of them here.

Exactly.  We will speak no more about it. The Christian religion with its divine Son worship, priests, mysticism, belief in angels and demons, worship of holy shrines associated with visions of their gods, angels and saints, mysterious rites and liturgical human sacrifice ritual is so much more than this terrible false religion from which Easter has sprung. For one thing, Christians add ritual cannibalism after the ritual human sacrifice! Frankly, these practices are so obviously correct, righteous and good, that it is not fitting for any Christian to participate in anything else. The source of that whole springtime/ new life/ bunnies and eggs/ ickily feminine, fertility cultish, Eastery thing is a terrible, false religion. What kind of a legitimate spring/rebirth festival elevates a MOTHER over a son? Definitely not a Christian festival!

Easter is clearly an evil pagan festival which Christians ought to decry.

Absolutely not!
Christians ought to take a stand against this tawdry commercialization of Christianity's most glorious holiday and simply refuse to partake in it. Perhaps they could demand that retailers post Happy Resurrection Sunday signs in their stores. Insist that schools and businesses should be closed out of respect for Crucifixion Friday. Fight for the power to teach schoolchildren the Good News™- whether they are Christian or not - through faith-building activities. Why shouldn't they be able to put on an annual Passion Play in public schools? What little boy wouldn't love to portray the crucified Jesus? What little girl hasn't dreamed of being cast as the Blessed Virgin grieving over the broken body of her murdered son? Even the littlest Christians can partake in the spirit-filled fun by baking Resurrection Cookies with Mom. As Mom reads the appropriate scriptures, the little ones can beat nuts into pieces with a wooden spoon and imagine they are breaking the bones of their long-suffering savior†. Godly, wholesome, fearsome fun. Now, that is the way to celebrate Easter Joy Resurrection Sunday!

One might wonder if there is a better way for Christians to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection, the most important of all Christian holy days. In retrospect, it seems obvious that it would have been a better witness to the world if Christians had not attempted to “Christianize” pagan celebrations* - adopting the name “Easter” (Ishtar/Semiramis) in remembrance of Christ. Jesus has been obscured by painted eggs and bunnies. Attention has been shifted away from spiritual truth and toward materialism (clothing, products and candies with the wrong symbolism). Stores merchandise the name of Easter (not “Resurrection Sunday”) and sell goods that have nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection.

I couldn't agree more. Leave that pagan Easter business to the heathens, Christians! Resurrection Sunday belongs to you and Easter belongs to the rest of us. You glorify divine capital punishment, substitutionary atonement and human sacrifice - we prefer bunnies, eggs and chocolate. You keep the Crucifixion in Crucifixion Friday and the Resurrection in Resurrection Sunday and we will keep the Easter in Easter. Sounds fair to me.


† Read the Resurrection Cookie link. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.
Can I get an "Amen" to this, brothers and sisters?

That's right, Easter Bunny, just keep on hopping right out of the Christian calendar. 
And you can take your abominable eggs with you!











Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top O' The Morning To You!























When my children were young, we celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a party! Green food, seasonal crafts and of course, the wearin' of the green!

One of their favorite childhood songs was "The Unicorn". They knew all of the words, and we would sing along with Will Millar and the Irish Rovers on car trips, but on St. Patrick's Day a rousing rendition was a must!

For any NiftyReaders out there with young children (and to all the NiftyReaders who are young at heart and have a little bit of Irish in your soul), here is that song and the lyrics.

Top o' the morning to you all!

  The Unicorn Song    (listen to the classic recording here)


A long time ago, when the Earth was green,
There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen.
And they'd run around free when the Earth was being born,
And the loveliest of 'em all was the unicorn.

There was green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born,
The loveliest of all was the unicorn.

Well now God seen some sinnin' and it caused Him pain.
And He said, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain!"
He said, "Hey, Brother Noah, I'll tell you what to do,
build me a floating zoo,"

"and take some of them".......

"Green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born.
Don't you forget My unicorns."

Well Old Noah he was there and he answered the callin',
And he finished makin' the ark just as the rain started to fallin'.
Then he marched in all them animals two by two,
And he sung out as they went through,

"Hey Lord,"

"I got Your green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn,
I just can't see no unicorns!"

And Noah looked out through the driving rain,
Them unicorns were hiding, playing silly games.
They were kickin' and splashin' while the rain was pourin',
Oh, them silly unicorns!

There was green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Noah cried, "Close the door 'cause the rain is just pourin',
And we just cannot wait for no unicorn!"

The ark started moving, and it drifted with the tide,
And them unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried.
And the waters come down and sort of floated them away,
That's why you never seen a unicorn to this very day.

But you'll see green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born,
You're never gonna see no unicorn!

-words and music Shel Silverstein, new verse Andrew McKee

  

For fans of the Irish Rovers or just anyone who would enjoy it - a blast from the past! This video is a compilation of clips from over the years as The Irish Rovers delighted audiences young and old with their beloved hit. This video was produced via CBC Vancouver, for their Silver Anniversary special.

via ST40TV





Sunday, March 10, 2013

Daylight Savings Crime





























For your Sunday entertainment, I am reposting an essay from the NiftyUniverse archives wherein my alter ego rails against Daylight Savings Time, NPR and whatever else that scattered mind gloms onto other stuff:

Good Day, NiftyReaders!

It's another glorious springlike morning,  the kind that just makes you leap out of bed ready to greet the day!  I love days like this, and I'd love them even more if they began on time instead of an hour too early!  As it is, I was forced to drag my protesting limbs out from under the duvet in the pre-dawn murk, call the boys for school, start breakfast and take the dog out before the first life-giving rays of that beautiful sunshine had even peeked over the horizon!  If a planet (or star?) could talk, I'm sure the good ol' sun would have said to me, "What the heck are you doing?  I'm fixing to shine down on you and the rest of this wonderful world in about 17 minutes--get back in bed!".

Unfortunately for me and the rest of civilized humanity, the Powers that Be™ are deaf to the whisperings of the stars and blind to the natural order of the universe.  They insist on the lunatic scheme of daylight savings time and because they are the Powers that Be, they can force the rest of us to arrange our affairs accordingly.  There ought to be a law against that.   If I had more time in my day (ahem! stolen hour?),  perhaps I would organize a grass-roots protest, but I am a busy woman and with even fewer hours in my day, I must redouble my efforts with the important tasks already on my To Do list!

TO DO

Blog Post (obviously- in progress)
Photo Project (another obvious priority, although more difficult- don't know if I will get to it today)
Laundry-sheets, etc (a friend is arriving tomorrow for a quick overnight)
Lose Weight
Start Supper (hmm..)
Exercise (right after I finish this post!  Going for a walk in the lovely spring sunshine!)
Passport Application (Oops!  Forgot again!)
Plan Spring Roadtrip/ reserve hotel rooms en route (I have one already booked! Good!)

I've noticed that the order of priority seems a little off here.  Perhaps that has been the problem with my To Do lists.  Let me try sorting them in order of importance, then I can start at the top and work down, getting the most urgent tasks completed in a timely manner.  I am so glad that I have been blessed with good organizational skills!

TO DO

Blog Post (always job 1!- started and first thing, too--excellent!)
Passport Application
Laundry (we need the sheets for tomorrow, so this must come first)
Passport Application
Start Supper (we have to eat!!)
Passport Application
Photo Project (good lord! this should be at the top of the list! It is job 1!)
Passport Application
Plan Spring Roadtrip (won't need any passports if we have no trip planned!)
Passport Application
Exercise (technically, this ought to be number 2 because it is the next thing I am going to do)
Lose Weight
Pay Bills (oops!  Nearly forgot that one! thanks for the reminder, Comcast,  although I must say that terse attitude was uncalled for)

Hmmm...there is a problem with the priorities on this list, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is.  Oh well,  it doesn't matter- it is the process which counts and I am nothing if not dedicated to the process!  Now that that's done,  I can get started on my great day!

But first,  I ought to mention something a little disturbing that I noticed this morning on the drive to school.  I had the radio tuned to NPR as usual,  and they are in the throes of their annoying annual Spring fund drive.  I tune in to NPR in the mornings because it is the only station from which I can get unbiased news and so forth without a load of irritating commercials and shouting deejays.  Every few months, however, I am subjected to annoying whining and begging for "pledges" and "support" (they call them "annual" Spring/Fall fund drives but they are lying through their teeth - they have them at least twice per year!).  It's really very aggravating!  I don't see how they can claim to be "commercial-free" when they subject their listeners to an hour or two of nearly non-stop pan-handling every six months, and I for one have had enough of it.

Certainly, I barely noticed the unnecessary interruption of my normal morning routines until this morning - when they mentioned a "special group of members" who are encouraging new members to join - but the principle remains the same: they promise annoyance-free radio and I expect annoyance-free radio!  Sure they have no commercials,  but is it not equally irritating to subject their listeners to this fawn-fest of shout-outs to their little favorites?  I bet that "special group of members" spends all their time annoying people instead of contributing to humanity like Yours Truly and Those in the Know!

Apparently, this is actually the last day of the Spring drive and I hadn't noticed it before now,  but standards are standards and I think NPR is letting down the side a little here.  Just what do they mean by a "special group of members" anyway?   I would have thought that I would definitely belong in the "special group of members" as I listen to the station every single day, but it appears that I have missed the memo!  Or rather, NPR has committed a grievous faux pas* by failing to recognise their real quality listeners!   I'm a little put out,  if the truth be told, although Those in the Know will remember that I am far too tolerant, not to mention busy with important stuff,  to give it a second thought.

(Fulminating pause) Who are these people whose membership is more special than mine, anyway?  It is all too vexing.  I'm going to have to ring them up and give them a piece of my mind...

(PAUSE FOR TELEPHONE CALL TO NPR)

Well, I've wasted enough time today on this blog post and going off half-cocked to call NPR, resulting in humiliating realization that I have forgotten to renew my membership for the past 3 years  other stuff.  I am a busy woman and people depend on me to make things happen!

Good Day to All!

* Those in the Know can "learn something new everyday" simply by reading my blog and soaking up the sophisticated foreign references!  Take that, NPR!

It's inescapable. Conquer it with humour!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Inspiration - The Road Not Taken



























The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

Robert Frost


Click on the video below for a simply beautiful rendition of Robert Frost's famous poem.

via Vikas Tripathi

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Little Drummer Boy, Bowie/Crosbie



Many people love this version of the Little Drummer Boy performed by the aging, but still velvet-voiced Bing Crosbie and a young, charismatic David Bowie.  I had no idea there was an actual video of this!

Enjoy!!

Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth

David & Bing:
Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

David: Peace on Earth, can it be
Bing: Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Years from now, perhaps we'll see
Bing: A new-born king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day of glory
Bing: Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day, when men of good will
Bing: To lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Live in peace, live in peace again
Bing: Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Peace on Earth,
Bing: So to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Can it be
Bing: When we come

David & Bing:
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

David: I pray my wish will come true
Bing: Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: For my child and your child too
Bing: I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: He'll see the day of glory
Bing: I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: See the day when men of good will
Bing: I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Live in peace, live in peace again
Bing: Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Peace on Earth,
Bing: And he smiled at me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
David: Can it be
Bing: Me and my drum
David & Bing: Can it be

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget - Remembrance Day November 11





























In Flanders Fields 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army





John McCrae was a poet and physician from Guelph, Ontario. He developed an interest in poetry at a young age and wrote throughout his life. His earliest works were published in the mid 1890s in Canadian magazines and newspapers. McCrae's poetry often focused on death and the peace that followed.
At the age of 41, McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War. He had the option of joining the medical corps due to his training and age, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. It was his second tour of duty in the Canadian military. He previously fought with a volunteer force in the Second Boer War. He considered himself a soldier first; his father was a military leader in Guelph and McCrae grew up believing in the duty of fighting for his country and empire.
McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, but were unable to break through the Canadian line which held for over two weeks. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle as a "nightmare": "For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ..... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way." Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance...
McCrae was moved to the medical corps and stationed in Boulogne, France, in June 1915 where he was named lieutenant-colonel in charge of medicine at the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital. He was promoted to the acting rank of Colonel on January 13, 1918, and named Consulting Physician to the British Armies in France. The years of war had worn McCrae down, however. He contracted pneumonia that same day, and later came down with cerebral meningitis. On January 28, he died at the military hospital in Wimereux and was buried there with full military honours. (wikipedia)




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Evolution



Check out this gorgeously illustrated, clear, concise and relatively brief (10 minutes) explanation of the Theory of Evolution.

Helpful for parents trying to help older children understand, too!

via QualiaSoup

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - Tim Minchin's Storm


                             Tim Minchin's musical and philosophical genius via stormmovie.



"Science adjusts it’s views based on what’s observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
Tim Minchin, Storm.


It is actually a beautiful, calm, sunny Sunday morning here in the midwest. I was hoping for a nice dark and stormy night to post this, but this video and the Sunday inspiration contained within is impossible to pass up in spite of the inconveniently pleasant weather.

This is an account of the kind of thing experienced by many scientifically-literate humanists. Tim Minchin describes the unexpected confrontation, the attempt to simply keep one's head down and not make waves, and the ultimate inability to stay quiet in the face of egregious and even harmful lies.

Many of us have had this uncomfortable experience, and few of us can manage to stay quiet right to the end of the evening. Tim couldn't either, but his magnificent rant is worth the outburst.

And he does it all with that pitch perfect, amazingly talented Tim Minchin humour!

Sit back, read, listen and enjoy.

Storm

Inner North London, top floor flat
All white walls, white carpet, white cat,
Rice Paper partitions, modern art and ambition
The host’s a physician,
Bright bloke, has his own practice
His girlfriend’s an actress, an old mate of ours from home
And they’re always great fun, so to dinner we’ve come.

The 5th guest is an unknown,
The hosts have just thrown us together for a favour 'cause this girl’s just arrived from Australia
And she's moved to North London and she’s the sister of someone or has some connection.

As we make introductions I’m struck by her beauty
She’s irrefutably fair with dark eyes and dark hair
But as she sits, I admit I’m a little bit wary 'cause I notice the tip of the wing of a fairy tattooed on that popular area just above the derrière
And when she says “I’m Sagittarian”, I confess a pigeonhole starts to form
And is immediately filled with pigeon when she says her name is Storm.

Conversation is initially bright and light hearted but it’s not long before Storm gets started:
“You can’t know anything, knowledge is merely opinion!”
She opines, over her Cabernet Sauvignon, vis-à-vis some unhippily empirical comment by me.

“Not a good start” I think
We’re only on pre-dinner drinks
And across the room, my wife widens her eyes, silently begs me: “Be Nice”
A matrimonial warning not worth ignoring
So I resist the urge to ask Storm whether knowledge is so loose-weave of a morning when deciding whether to leave her apartment by the front door
Or the window on her second floor.

The food is delicious and Storm, whilst avoiding all meat happily sits and eats
As the good doctor, slightly pissedly holds court on some anachronistic aspect of medical history
When Storm suddenly insists:
“But the human body is a mystery! Science just falls in a hole when it tries to explain the the nature of the soul.”

My hostess throws me a glance
She, like my wife, knows there’s a chance I’ll be off on one of my rare but fun rants but I shan't
My lips are sealed, I just wanna enjoy the meal
And although Storm is starting to get my goat I have no intention of rocking the boat
Although it’s becoming a bit of a wrestle because - like her meteorological namesake - Storm has no such concerns for our vessel:

“Pharmaceutical companies are the enemy
They promote drug dependency at the cost of the natural remedies that are all our bodies need
They are immoral and driven by greed.
Why take drugs when herbs can solve it?
Why use chemicals when homeopathic solvents can resolve it?
I think it’s time we all return-to-live with natural medical alternatives.”

And try as I like, a small crack appears in my diplomacy-dike.
“By definition”, I begin,
“Alternative Medicine”, I continue,
“Has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work.
Do you know what they call 'alternative medicine' that’s been proved to work?
Medicine.”

“So you don’t believe in any natural remedies?”

“On the contrary Storm, actually
Before I came to tea, I took a remedy derived from the bark of a willow tree
A painkiller that’s virtually side-effect free
It’s got a weird name, Darling, what was it again?
M-masprin? Basprin? Oh yeah! Asprin!
Which I paid about a buck for down at the local drugstore.

The debate briefly abates as our hosts collects plates
But as they return with desserts Storm pertly asserts:
“Shakespeare said it first:
There are more things in heaven and earth than exist in your philosophy…
Science is just how we’re trained to look at reality,
It doesn't explain love or spirituality.
How does science explain psychics? Auras? The afterlife? The power of prayer?”

I’m becoming aware that I’m staring, I’m like a rabbit suddenly trapped in the blinding headlights of vacuous crap.
Maybe it’s the Hamlet she just misquothed or the 5th glass of wine I just quaffed
But my diplomacy dike groans and the arsehole held back by its stones can be held back no more:

“Look , Storm, sorry I don’t mean to bore you but there’s no such thing as an aura!
Reading Auras is like reading minds or tea-leaves or star-signs or meridian lines
These people aren’t applying a skill, they're either lying or mentally ill.
Same goes for people who claim they hear God’s demands or Spiritual healers who think they've magic hands.

By the way, why do we think it is it OK for people to pretend they can talk to the dead?
Isn't that totally fucked in the head?
Lying to some crying woman whose child has died and telling her you’re in touch with the other side?
I think that’s fundamentally sick
Do we need to clarify here that there’s no such thing as a psychic?

What are we, fucking 2?
Do we actually think that Horton Heard a Who?
Do we still believe that Santa brings us gifts?
That Michael Jackson didn’t had facelifts?
Are we still so stunned by circus tricks that we think that the dead would wanna talk to pricks like John Edwards?

Storm to her credit despite my derision keeps firing off clichés with startling precision like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition

“You’re so sure of your position but you’re just closed-minded
I think you’ll find that your faith in Science and Tests is just as blind as the faith of any fundamentalist”

“Wow that’s a good point, let me think for a bit.
Oh wait, my mistake, that's absolute bullshit.
Science adjusts it’s views based on what’s observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
If you show me that, say, homeopathy works, then I will change my mind
I’ll spin on a fucking dime
I’ll be embarrassed as hell, but I will run through the streets yelling
'It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
Water has memory! And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice seems Infinite
It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!'

You show me that it works and how it works
And when I’ve recovered from the shock
I will take a compass and carve 'Fancy That' on the side of my cock.”

Everyone's just staring now,
But I’m pretty pissed and I’ve dug this far down,
So I figure, in for penny, in for a pound:

“Life is full of mysteries, yeah
But there are answers out there
And they won’t be found by people sitting around looking serious and saying 'Isn’t life mysterious?'
'Let’s sit here and hope.
Let’s call up the fucking Pope.
Let’s go watch Oprah interview Deepak Chopra.'

If you wanna watch tele, you should watch Scooby Doo.
That show was so cool because every time there was a church with a ghoul or a ghost in a school
They looked beneath the mask and what was inside?
The fucking janitor or the dude who ran the waterslide.
Because throughout history every mystery ever solved has turned out to be
Not Magic.

Does the idea that there might be knowledge frighten you?
Does the idea that one afternoon on Wiki-fucking-pedia might enlighten you frighten you?
Does the notion that there may not be a supernatural so blow your hippy noodle that you'd rather just stand in the fog of your inability to Google?

Isn’t this enough?

Just this world?

Just this beautiful, complex, wonderfully unfathomable, natural world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention that we have to diminish it with the invention of cheap, man-made myths and monsters?
If you’re so into your Shakespeare, lend me your ear:
“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw perfume on the violet… is just fucking silly”
Or something like that.
Or what about Satchmo?!
“I see trees of Green,
Red roses too,”
And fine, if you wish to glorify Krishna and Vishnu in a post-colonial, condescending bottled-up and labeled kind of way then whatever, that’s ok.
But here’s what gives me a hard-on:
I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant bit of carbon.
I have one life, and it is short and unimportant…
But thanks to recent scientific advances I get to live twice as long as my great great great great uncleses and auntses.
Twice as long to live this life of mine
Twice as long to love this wife of mine
Twice as many years of friends and wine
Of sharing curries and getting shitty at good-looking hippies with fairies on their spines and butterflies on their titties.

And if perchance I have offended
Think but this and all is mended:
We’d as well be 10 minutes back in time, for all the chance you’ll change your mind.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - There Is Hope For Christians, After All!


Col. Timothy Wagoner : "He embodies the best of the chaplain corps." 





























Slowly, but surely, decent Christians everywhere are beginning to step back and take a good hard look at what has been happening to their religion.  Slowly, but surely, decent people are gathering the strength to brave the inevitable backlash in order to speak out against the evil that is being said and done in the name of their religion.

A long-serving military chaplain, Col. Timothy Wagoner, has parted ways with the Southern Baptist Convention after being publicly admonished over his attendance at the first gay marriage in the military. He will remain as a chaplain in the military, affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship which holds more moderate views than the SBC.

“I find very little that is more important and nothing that is more exhilarating than providing for the religious freedoms and spiritual care of all service members and their families — and will joyfully continue to do so,” Wagoner said Friday in an e-mail to The Associated Press. (Military Times story here).

Col. Wagoner joins a whisper-thin but steady drizzle of believers who are trickling out of the fold of the most extreme conservative churches, as they realize that the political agendas of these churches have little to do with the teachings of Jesus and everything to do with political power and social control. They join a steadier, but still thin, stream of moderate Christians from putatively moderate churches whose individual congregations claim to be more tolerant and accepting than the parent denomination, but who nevertheless contribute to the continued rightward lurch of Christianity through financial support of conservative parent hierarchies.

This is the ugly underbelly of religion.
The silent support of the moderate majority has
 allowed it to flourish but finally, good people of faith
are finding the courage within themselves to speak out.
Maybe it is only a trickle now, but I am hopeful that it will soon become a torrent.

More and more religious people are realizing that their beloved faith has been hijacked by the extreme right wing and more and more of them are taking the incredibly courageous step of walking away - not from their belief in God, but from the pernicious influence of the destructive conservative religious juggernaut and its powerful religious institutions.

And it does take courage to walk away from one's church.

The term "social animals"  does not mean that we merely enjoy spending time with kith and kin. Being social animals means that our connection to, and reliance upon, our social groups is vital to our physical and psychological health. People rarely rebel against social norms -  we rarely challenge the will of the dominant social group (often a large powerful religion) - because we know on a deeply visceral level that to do so could have dangerous consequences.

Society threatens apostates with total ostracism. We know what can happen if we criticize our social/religious group. Friends turn away, families are torn apart, careers are destroyed and lives are even threatened or lost in the vicious backlash that an outspoken member of a religious identity group experiences. We all know this is true. The fear of losing everything we know and love - especially our sense of belonging within the security of a large, powerful, familiar group identity - is what keeps people silent. It is what keeps people uneasily trying to perform a balancing act between what we know is morally right and what our churches say we must say and do.

I am inspired this Sunday morning by Col. Timothy Wagoner.  He is both courageous and righteous.  I hope this story goes viral. I hope it will encourage others to follow his example.

From Justin Griffith, via Rock Beyond Belief: Air Force chaplain quits Southern Baptist Convention over gay wedding.

Update: Ed Brayton (Dispatches From the Culture Wars) added to the hopeful news out of the military last night by posting a young soldier's re-enlistment speech.  Honest, unpolished and sincere, a chaplain's assistant named Nick spoke movingly and courageously about bigotry and homophobia both within the military and out in civilian society.  I could not find a YouTube link for the speech, but I hope this speech also goes viral. You'll find it in Ed's blog at this link.
The look of love: Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali wed civilian Will Behrens on June 23, 2012 in New Jersey.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Inspiration - The New Normal



via NBC

Oh, this looks so good.  I may have to throw a party for the premiere episode in September!

Quote for the win:

"A family is a family...and love is love."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Nuns On The Bus!



























A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who had come under fire from the Vatican for doing the actual work that Jesus called on his followers to do.  After working on yesterday's post -  thinking about how difficult it was to leave the church I was born into, and how hard it must be for other closeted atheists who, like me, hoped to bring about change from within their churches rather than be forced to leave it because of irreconcilable moral and philosophical differences - I decided to follow up on the story.

And what a story it is turning out to be!

Women coming together to fight
social injustice.
Short recap: The Vatican, displeased with the social work of U.S. women religious, launched an inquisition into their leadership and activities. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Vatican issued a public reprimand of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and announced that its leadership would be assumed by a group of bishops, headed by Archbishop J.Peter Sartain of Seattle, who would be tasked with chastizing, reorganizing and "reforming" the orders of women religious who had been active in the social justice causes which had so disgusted Rome. Garry Wills recites a short list of the sisters' "misconduct": 

Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist). Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people—which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement. They ran soup kitchens. -- Garry Wills, NYRB, April, 2012.

After a brief period of stunned silence, the LCWR responded:

“The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusion of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We were taken by surprise by the gravity of the mandate. This is a brief moment of great import for religious life in the wider Church. We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR national board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response.”-- Leadership Conference of Women Religious.


LCWR supporters in Louisville, KY
Far from retreating into chastened silence after the Pope's reprimand, as was the expected response (certainly by the men of the cloth in Rome), the LCWR has refused to be silenced - gently and respectfully to be sure, but with steadfast determination. Moreover, encouraged by the quiet groundswell of support they have received from progressive Catholics and other moderate religious people who share their social conscience and support their work, they took the unprecedented step of challenging the Vatican assessment of them and their work.

The harsh reprimand from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt to the sisters like getting a "punch in the stomach". I suppose they should not have been so surprised. Previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition (also known as the Roman Inquisition or Holy Inquisition, names popularly used in reference to the brutal 16th century "tribunals" investigating alleged witchcraft and heresy), the VCDF has a long history of exactly this sort of activity. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

After a brief period of prayerful regrouping, the sisters embarked on something truly surprising and not a little inspiring. Signaling that they are standing by their principles and they intend to continue standing up for the most vulnerable people in society - even at the risk of losing everything - the LCWR has decided they are all in.  They have devoted their lives to fighting for social justice and they seem prepared to go on fighting. They painted a bus, planned a route and launched the Nuns on the Bus campaign to raise awareness of their mission to fight for social justice.
Sr. Mary Wendlen greets supporters near Chicago.

Jim Winkler, minister of the church, was the first to take the podium at the July 2 noontime press conference in sweltering 95-degree heat, just days after millions in the area had lost electric power during a brutal storm.
"They have been traveling across this nation to speak out for a faithful budget," said Winkler, "and they are here today as our rock stars!"
This was the final stop on the "Nuns on the Bus" tour, which started in Des Moines, Iowa, on June 17 and ended about two weeks later in Washington, D.C., with this press conference.
The tour's stated mission was to stir up outrage over what the nuns called the immorality of lowering taxes for the wealthy while attacking the poor through cutting food stamps and Medicaid, as outlined in the budget plan crafted by Paul Ryan, a Republican representing Wisconsin's 1st District in Congress.
But the tour, which took place in the aftermath of Vatican censure of the nuns' leadership group, was about more than the national budget.
It was also, intrinsically, a demonstration of how devoutly the nuns refused to be muffled.--Samantha Kimmey, WomensEnews, July 12, 2012. (emphasis mine).

I cannot stress strongly enough just how unusual and ground-breaking this is for women religious in the Catholic church. Historically, women have been relegated to silence and invisibility in the church.  Even after Vatican ll allowed for the expansion of their mission and increased self-direction, it was unthinkable for women religious to appear to defy the male church hierarchy. From the meanest Parish priest to the Congregation of the Faith in Rome, all it has ever taken was a look, a word or a secret reprimand to bring an individual nun or order of nuns back into line. 

Oh, those uppity radical feminists!
The defiance of these women religious will not be without great cost - they may endure further censure,  even excommunication and will almost certainly face the withdrawal of financial and pastoral support. In short, they may essentially be unilaterally "divorced" by the church and thrown out of their homes and livelihoods at one stroke of the papal pen. Yet, they are not backing down. 

"Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences."—Susan B. Anthony

Keep your eyes on these women religious, folks. I hope we will see much more of them in the coming months and years. They embody all that was hopeful and inspiring about the post-Vatican ll church. They restore one's faith in the inherent goodness of humanity, in spite of all its flaws, fragility and failures: they have shown the courage and the will to fight for what is right. How telling it is that, in order to do what is right, the sisters will have to fight the church.  

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead." —Louisa May Alcott

Read all about it!

Vatican Harangue Makes Stars of 'Nuns on the Bus', Samantha Kimmey, Women'sEnews, July 12, 2012.

Bullying the Nuns, Garry Wills, New York Review of Books Blog, April 24, 2012.

Nuns and the Vatican, A Clash Decades in the Making, Scott Neuman, NPR news, May 3, 2012.

The Vatican's Attack on America's Women Religious, StateOfBelief, May 9, 2012 (transcript of enlightening interview between Rev. Welton Gaddy and Sr. Simone Campbell).

U.S. nuns reject Vatican criticism and reform efforts, BBC news, June 2012 (links to several articles).

Help a Sister Out: Protesters Call for Vatican Support, Not Censure, of U.S. Nuns, Felipa Rodrigues, Mario Jacinto and Reshma Kirpalani, KUTnewsAustin, May 15, 2012.

Nuns Gone Wild, Catholicism in America,  The Economist, April 26, 2012.

LCWR, Leadership Council of Women Religious.

Network, A national Catholic social justice lobby.


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Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead