Category Archives: Politics

Opportunity Rising: September 11, 2014

Today is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  I remember where I was when I heard the news, as pretty much every American above a certain age does. I remember watching The Towers fall.  I remember the candle-lit vigils, the fear, and the oddly-quiet skies, free of air traffic for several days in early September.

I also remember one of the first things I thought, after I was pretty sure it wasn’t the beginning of World War III:

Oh, man, are the whack jobs ever going to capitalize on this!

I know.  Cynical.  But I was not wrong.  Instead of coming together as a nation, our so-called leaders at the time managed to parlay the events of September 11, 2001, into a virtual rampage of jingoism, civil rights violations (which still continue today), war profiteering, and fascism.  The Bush Administration, aided by Congress and a complicit corporate media, managed to squander the goodwill of the world, while trampling on the very Constitution they were sworn to defend.

If this were the only result of that horrible time, I wouldn’t be writing this post.  I would simply be observing in silence, praying for a light to come back to our nation.  But this nationalist backlash engendered yet a second backlash–the reinvigoration of American liberals.

For 30 years or so, the Democrats and other more progressive parties had tried in vain to fire up the large number of liberals in the United States.  After the 60s and 70s, and the economic betrayal of the Reagan/Bush eras, many liberals were just weary.

But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove did more to mobilize liberals in the United States than any Democrat could have hoped to do.  Suddenly, speaking out was not just for granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing hippies.  Librarians and nuns were the New Radicals.  And it wasn’t just politics.  The Christian Left stood up in a big way to reclaim their faith from the right-wing crackpots who were more interested in guns and gays than in God.

And while conservatives still have the bigger voice in America, liberals are still moving upwards and making their voices heard.

So what does this have to do with Opportunity Rising?  It’s just a reminder that even the most horrific events can serve as a catalyst for progress, social change, and justice.  It’s a reminder that even when things look the bleakest, there are people out there brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to stand up for what is right.

So while we still fight daily against prejudice, bigotry, fear-mongering, and financial inequality, we can at least be assured that our numbers are growing.  We will get there.  We just have to keep fighting the good fight.

Love to you all–

Deb

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Opportunity Rising: August 21, 2014

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I have a love/hate relationship with current events.  On the one hand, I want and need to be aware of what is going on in the world if I am to play a part in improving things.  Putting my fingers in my ears, squinting my eyes shut, and singing “lalalalalalalaaaaa” at the top of my lungs is not going to change the problems of the world.  I have to be aware if I’m going to be part of the solution.

On the other hand, wow.  Just…wow.  The sheer volume of challenges the world is facing today can be staggering.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless as you learn more about what needs to be done to help restore the balance to our society and our planet.  I’m not immune to these feelings.

For instance, I just finished reading an intense interviewer with Eric Snowden, followed by a talk by Noam Chomsky called “Who Owns the World?”  By the end of these articles, I felt depleted and ill-equiped to face the world.

So, I did what I always do–my routine.  Driving to work, I said my morning prayers, including an appeal to my patron Hestia. 

Funny thing about prayer–most people think it’s a monologue.  But if you shut up and listen, sometimes you will get an answer back.

And Hestia’s answer to my question of how to balance peace of mind with cultural and political awareness surprised me.

Use it as fuel.

Instead of letting the weight of the problems dampen your fire for change, convert it to fuel.  Look at the things being done, look at the injustices, look at the work still incomplete, and use them to feed the fire of your determination. 

Anything can be fuel for the fire of change–love, hate, fear, injustice.  A story of a community coming together to help their own can be just as invigorating as the outrage we feel at police brutality or corporate misdeeds.

It’s all fuel, sayeth the Original Domestic Goddess.  Everything has the potential to create change, if you use it wisely.

What sources of fuel are you ignoring?  Can the burdens that weigh you down be converted into life-giving energy?  Comments welcome, of course.

Deb

Schadenfreude and Politics

Capture

There are some words that just don’t have an equivalent in English (but should).  If there’s one word we should all comprehend, it’s the German word schadenfreude.  It means, roughly, getting your jollies off of other people’s trouble.  To put it in sports terms, it’s your team having a bye week and watching the rival’s game in hopes they get their asses handed to them.  That glee in seeing your “enemies” fall.  

We are none of us innocent of this.  

But politics are not sports–at least, they shouldn’t be.  So imagine how disgusted I felt with myself when I felt a twinge of illicit glee when a certain Southwestern governnor was recently indicted on two counts of abuse of power. After several years of watching this man attack and attack and attack, I have to admit I felt good seeing him on the other end of the stick for a change.

That’s perfectly normal, you might say.

But it’s not right.  Not for my soul, and not for the country.

Yes, some of us lean left, some of us lean right, and some of us are waaaaaay out in BFE.  But we are all still Americans, and when one American leader is corrupt, we all suffer.  There are no winners and losers in politics–either we all win, or we all lose.

This doesn’t just apply to the United States.  Governance has become a blood sport, pitting country against country, region against region, and ethnic group against ethnic group.  There are no winners, only victors.  And the victors never stay on top for long.

Until we realize that the sole purpose of governance and politics is to benefit the governed, and until we work to remove competition, antagonism, and schadenfreude from politics, we will continue to inhabit a very dangerous, hateful world.  Until we truly embrace the fact that we are all human, despite our differences, and that we are all in this together, things will never truly get better.

So I speak to that vile little snot inside me who is quietly gloating about another GOP governor getting hoist on his own petard when I say, “Get the hell over yourself.”

We must choose love.  We must choose compassion.  We must move beyond the pettiness that is killing our world. Otherwise, we will be stuck in this stupid game forever.

It’s not hard.  Just make a choice.  Today, I will be kind.  Today I will not find joy in another’s pain.  Today I will create an atmosphere of love and acceptance.

Do that, and then pass it on.

Love-Deb

Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror

P.S.  If you read an early version of this, please forgive me.  I got so wrapped up in trying to embed a stupid video that I forgot to proofread.  Mea culpa.

The Crazy Woman’s Guide to FaceBook

About a week ago, a miracle happened. You probably noticed the heavens opening up, the angels singing, and trumpets sounding in the distance. In other words, my partner Fey decided she was going to start “doing FaceBook” again.

She asked on her page for recommendations for groups/people/pages to investigate.

As you can see from the list below, my response was somewhat—unwieldy. J So, once it was all organized and groovy, I thought I’d do a public service and share this magnificence with my readers here on WordPress. What follows is several of my favorite pages, for a variety of reasons. I hope you enjoy.

My Personal Lists:

Hay House Authors: My personal collection of pages from the best of Hay House Radio personalities, including Dr. Wayne Dyer, Cheryl Richardson, Karen McCrocklin, Louise Hay, Denise Linn and more.

Other People’s Lists:

Chefs: Pages from a collection of gifted chefs.

Food Media: For the cooking show aficionado.

TV Sci-Fi and Fantasy: Once Upon a Time, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Grimm, Eureka, Warehouse 13, SyFy, and so much more.

Sci-Fi/Gaming/Fantasy/Geekdom

I fucking love science: One of my favorite pages on FB.  So much awesome, such geeky fabulosity.  Can’t help the squee.

George Takei: GLBT activist, actor, and extremely funny guy, Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu enjoys a social media renaissance as the Naughty Purveyor of LOLS!

Nichelle Nichols Communications Page: Not as audacious as her former cast mate, Star Trek’s original Uhura still enjoys sharing with her fans (including that awesome viral photo with a certain world leader).

Hot Nerd Girl: “A lot of people nerd out. I just nerd harder.”

The Matrix of Gallifrey: Memes, vids, and links to fill your every Whovian craving.

CultBox.co.uk: If it’s British, on television, and even remotely cult-like….

Gaming Geeks Etc.: You don’t have to be a hard core gamer to enjoy this site. Lots of geeky fun. Funnier if you game.

Temple of the Geek Goddess: Another nerd goddess of the Interwebs.

The Mary Sue: A collection of awesome from the worlds of sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, comics, and pretty much anything else the mods find cool.

John & Bjo Trimble: If you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t be there.

Twig the Fairy: Ren Faire awesomeness, great photos, whimsical posts.

Women, Politics, LGBT, Social Activism,etc.

Upworthy: Über-shareworthy links and stories…..

Veracity Stew: Grassroots progressive blog.

RePeace: Pro-accountability peace movement, not anti-war.

The Provocation: An online paper that doesn’t even pretend to be unbiased.

The Liberal Fallout Shelter: Politics with a bite.

The Christian Left: Progressives with Soul: Reclaiming Christianity from the Right.

Trying God’s Patience: “Thoughts from the great prophets, philosophers, writers and artists on humanity’s ONENESS…plus a little silliness.”

Middle Aged Woman: Opinionated, savvy, and entertaining. “Posting for the women who will not be tamed and the men who love them.”

Beware of Images: BEWARE OF IMAGES is a feature-length, animated documentary about the history of visual representation. The movie explores the intricate relationship between the technology, regulation and social effects of mass media.

SouthernLiberalHippieWoman: “saving the country from stupidity, one smartass post at a time.”

Equal Rights Amendment: I can’t believe we still have to fight for this shit.

Addicting Info: News and info for moderates, independents, and people on the left.

Mother Jones Magazine: The grandmother of social activism in print.

A Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World: Feminism with a sense of humor and a great ‘tude.

The Christian Left: Reclaiming Christianity for people who, like, you know, do what Jesus wanted (not the Koch brothers).

It’s OK to be Takei: LGBT news site inspired by The George himself!

Politicians/Writers/Celebrities

Sen. Al Franken: Smart, funny, and progressive.

Former VP Al Gore: Great source for intelligent information and green news.

Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts politician who gives me hope for the future of politics.

Keith Olbermann Fan Page: I think he was too liberal for MSNBC… Very in-your-face and sometimes offensive, he will definitely get you engaged in the issues.

Dennis Kucinich: Illinois politician. I look forward to the day when the world is ready for a man like this as president of the USA.

Bill Moyers: Our last, best hope for critical, unbiased journalism. The man is an icon.

Michael Moore: Love him or hate him, Michael Moore never fails to get you thinking.

Paula Poundstone: Highly underrated, the comedian’s 1-2 line posts are often the funniest thing you’ll read all day. And the comments are a scream, too.

Anne Rice: Rice caused a stir a few years back when she loudly left the Christian faith. She’s a better provocateur than fiction writer, imho.

Mark Morford: This columnist for the San Francisco Gate never fails to deliver. His columns may offend, unnerve, or make you uncomfortable, but they’ll always make you think. And they’ll usually make you laugh out loud.

Nancy Lee Grahan: After twenty years of playing a fake lawyer (Alexis Davis) on TV’s General Hospital, Grahan is highly qualified to…well, be funny as hell. Liberal, opinionated, and often unruly as a teenager, she’s hugely fun to follow.

TV Shows:

The Rachel Maddow Show: No histrionics, no gimmicks (okay, a few gimmicks), no dirty trick reporting. She’s just smarter, funnier, and better at her job than 99.9% of the journalists out there.

The Daily Show: Face it—many of us get better news coverage from Jon Stewart than mainstream media.

Star Trek: Do I even need to explain?

Once Upon a Time: Gorgeous, wickedly clever retelling of Just About Every Fairy Tale Evah. Hint—the Wicked Queen is notably drool-worthy.

Haven: SyFy’s series based on a Stephen King story. Small town Maine. Quirky people. Weird shit. Yeah, good solid King.

Alphas: Another SyFy show about humans with special abilities forming a secret group. Great cast.

Eureka: Coolest, weirdest, most geek-forward town in America.

Warehouse 13: One of the most awesome shows on television. End of sentence.

Glee: Gorgeous, talented kids who get treated badly because they can sing their asses off. And Jane Lynch. Don’t forget Jane Lynch.

Bitchin’ Kitchen: If you’ve never seen this show on The Cooking Channel, you are missing out. Nadia is funny, irreverent, and in your face. And the food looks pretty good, too.

TED Talks: Not technically a TV show, but c’mon. It’s TED! I dare you to watch five videos and not come out inspired.

BBC America: Cuz underneath it all, we’re all Anglophiles.

Pagan/Spirituality

One Witches Wonderland: A pagan-oriented page with a good combination of news and ideas.

Perpetual Optimism: Just what they advertise. If this page was a phone number, it would be on my speed dial.

Aquarius: Hippies of a New Age: Thought provoking and intelligent. A new perspective on the hippie ideals.

Dalai Lama: What? You need a resume?

Just plain funny:

The Onion: Wicked satirical news site that has fooled many a person, even certain Louisiana politicians who should have known better.

Wittitudes: This app allows users to create their own captions on standard cartoons. Some stupid, some offensive, some outright hilarious.

Mother Mayhem: She’s mad, I tell ya. Maaaaaaddd!

Did the Wizard ever get back to you on that brain?: Every snarky-ass comment you wish you’d thought of yourself.

My Prozac Moment: More snark. It’s getting thick here…

What Fresh Hell is This?: Even more snarky snark than you are used to. Which by this time should be a lot.

Andy Borowitz: The Ralph Waldo Emerson of Snark. Highly quotable.

Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian: Undercover snark—check out her YouTube page.

Texts from Hillary: For those of us who haven’t discovered Tumblr…

Dogs Against Romney: Note to those considering a career in politics: NOTHING ever goes away. Especially animal abuse.

If Fox News was Around…: How history would have looked had the FOX News Network been around at the time. Hilarious.

So. I have now shared my favorite time wasters with you. No links were harmed in the making of this post.

Feel The News: Republicans Unhinged

We really only have one functioning political party in America. Democrats, who when occupying the presidency in the last two decades, govern moderately and dare I say it, even conservatively.

I say a political party who wants to preserve current federal obligations (such as protecting Social Security and Medicare, food stamps and the like) should be considered the conservative party.

The Republicans have devolved into radical ideologues that believe in things that are demonstrably untrue, and are utterly uncompromising even when you offer them their own positions.

I’ll let others do the rest of the talking.  Take it away…

“Obama’s record is so non-ideological he all but screams at you in his pitiless pragmatism. He tried to be boring, he adopted Republican ideas (tax cuts in a recession, the healthcare individual mandate, cap-and-trade) but the right simply cannot tolerate being governed by the other party. At all. When one party essentially nullifies the actions of another and commits solely to defeating the other candidate without any interest in the compromises that are necessary for this system to work, it is emphatically not a reasonable response to reward it, and then claim Romney’s a boring bring-people-together pragmatist. His platform is the most rigidly ideological of any candidate since Goldwater.

“If you want actual boredom, i.e. an interest in making government work, in reaching compromises with the other party, in trying to find a middle ground while the other side ratchets up its hysteria like a nine year-old … then Obama is the only choice. Electing Romney would vindicate the politics of total war and obstruction. And the results would be anything but boring: massive new debt through huge new military spending and more tax cuts for the very wealthy, while hollowing out America’s infrastructure and gutting programs for the sick and poor.”

– Andrew Sullivan

“[The Republican party is] living in an alternative reality. 63 percent of Republicans in a new poll believe that Saddam Hussein had WMDs when we invaded in 2003, despite even George W. Bush’s acknowledgment that he didn’t. 64 percent also believe that Barack Obama was born in a foreign country, even though we have the long-form birth certificate from Hawaii. This alternate reality is sustained by a 24 hour propaganda network, and hermetically sealed off from any external intervention.

“We are reaching a democratic crisis of some sorts. One major political party refuses to accept empirical truths. It has become a hall of ideological mirrors.”

 – Andrew Sullivan

“YouGov asked: “Which of the following would you support as ways to reduce the nation’s budget deficit?” They altered the rules of polling slightly, however, to deny respondents a “don’t know” answer. Respondents had to answer something, either yes or no.

“Denied the “don’t know” exit, Democrats favored higher taxes on the wealthy, 77.2%, and cuts in military spending, 46%. Democrats intensely opposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security, only about 5% in favor of either. Just 14% of Democrat answered “none of the above.”

“Republicans were a very different story. Unsurprisingly, many fewer Republicans supported tax increases on the wealthy (27.1%) and cuts in military spending (15.5%). Yet when denied the “don’t know” exit, Republicans were scarcely more accepting of cuts to Medicare or Social Security than Democrats, only 13.5% and 15.% approving, respectively. A majority of Republicans, 53.3%, answered “none of the above”—no changes to taxes, defense, or entitlements.

“And there, ladies and gentlemen, is our quandary.”

– David Frum

“A party this irrational – a party hysterical about debt whose members do not actually want to cut spending or raise any taxes, a party a majority of whose members have somehow persuaded themselves that there were indeed WMDs in Iraq in 2003 – should not be a mainstream party in a Western democracy.

– Andrew Sullivan

My response to: The Lost Boys rant

I’m not sure how I wound up following this blog, but I’m rather glad I am. I’m feeling a little waspish at the moment–even though I *know* we shouldn’t be feeding the duality fire, I do enjoy being a voice of opposition when people are so obviously wrong.

Marriagecoach1’s assertion that the media is to blame for “reverse sexism” against men is laughable.  According to Media Report to Women,

Television: In the 2010-11 prime-time television season, women accounted for 25% of all creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors, and directors of photography working on situation comedies, dramas, and reality programs airing on the broadcast networks. By role, women comprised 18% of creators, 22% of executive producers, 37% of producers, 15% of writers, 11% of directors, 20% of editors, and 4% of directors of photography. (Martha Lauzen, Boxed In, Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, San Diego State University)

Feature films: In 2010, women comprised 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents a decline of 1 percentage points from 1998 and is even with 2009 figures. By role, women accounted for 7% of directors, 10% of writers, 15% of executive producers, 24% of producers, 18% of editors, and 2% of cinematographers. (Martha Lauzen, Celluloid Ceiling, Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, San Diego State University)

So, Marriagecoach1, all this media harassment of men you claim?  It’s probably coming from the 75-94% of men dominating the entertainment media industry.  Hmmm….is that reverse-reverse-reverse sexism????

Marriagecoach1's Blog

I was heavily quoted in this piece about women’s sexism. Here is the note I received stating that the magazine article was now posted. He also referred to my new book to be published in January

John,

Thank you again for your willingness to talk about the media perception of men. We have developed that story and do have it online. You will receive an email from Burgundy but I wanted to personally send you the link. Thank you again for your wonderful input (http://www.burgundymag.com/index.php/health/wellness/415-media-perception). It was greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Kevin

J. Kevin Powell
PIIP Media, LLC
1532 Bubbling Creek Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30319
http://www.PIIPmedia.com
http://www.BurgundyMag.com
PIIP Media is a company focused on changing how we view society through uplifting entertainment that is commercially viable. We believe in developing a strong empowering presence in our community by creating an energy through our products that recasts the world in a brighter…

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Convents and Covens and Popes – Oh, My!

Who knew researching a post on Nuns on the Bus would make me want to scream until my throat bled and my head exploded?

Well, probably anybody who knows me would have predicted it….

It all started with (who else) the Vatican. If you’re not living under a rock, you probably have heard that (according to the Pope and his Papal Posse), U.S. nuns are a bunch of freaky-town wild women espousing free love, queerdom, and baby-killing while ignoring the Good and True Faith of the Fathers. Folks on the Left and Right have weighed in, and U.S. nuns are enjoying a PR renaissance the like of which hasn’t been seen in this country since Sally Field slapped on a habit and went for a fly.

Faced with this threat of a Papal crackdown, a group of U.S. nuns did the only thing they could do. They became even noisier in their protests, launching a multi-state protest in defense of the poor. Some even grudgingly accepting the Radical Feminist epithet—if by Radical Feminist, you mean doing what nuns have been doing for centuries. These plucky nuns have become increasingly popular with liberal media darlings such as Bill Moyers and “fake conservative” Stephen Colbert, speaking honestly about social justice (while ignoring the hate speech on abortion and homosexuality their bosses would prefer they spout).

Of course, many conservative Catholics are horrified. These nuns are flying directly in the face of Papal censure! What next? Legalizing abortion? Decriminalizing homosexuality? Letting stores open on Sunday? (A lot of conservative Catholics have a few years of catching up to do when it comes to The Real World™.)

So…what are these nuns doing that has gotten everybody in such a major tizzy of Penguin Fever? Well, they’re speaking out on behalf of the poor mainly against the proposed austerity budget of Sen. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that decimates such programs as Head Start, Special Education, Title I, Medicaid, and Supplementary Nutrition/Food Stamps.

What a bunch of granola-chewing, Birkenstock-wearing, Lilith Fair-attending hippies they are, right?

Not a New Tale

History, for those who are willing to do even a modest amount of research, is replete with tales of plucky nuns doing all sorts of subversive things under the noses of the popes and bishops.

  • Ancient Women of the Church were leaders in the early Christian faith, leading house churches and acting as missionaries.

    The letters of Paul – dated to the middle of the first century CE – and his casual greetings to acquaintances offer fascinating and solid information about many Jewish and Gentile women who were prominent in the movement. His letters provide vivid clues about the kind of activities in which women engaged more generally. He greets Prisca, Junia, Julia, and Nereus’ sister, who worked and traveled as missionaries in pairs with their husbands or brothers (Romans 16:3, 7, 15). He tells us that Prisca and her husband risked their lives to save his. He praises Junia as a prominent apostle, who had been imprisoned for her labor. Mary and Persis are commended for their hard work (Romans 16:6, 12). Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3). Here is clear evidence of women apostles, active in the earliest work of spreading the Christian message.

  • Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695) of Mexico was a poet, playwright, and scholar who fought for the rights of women to be educated (before she was smacked down by The Man and died of plague healing the sick).
  • Mother Katherine Drexel (1858–1955), the second American-born saint, founded Xavier University in New Orleans, defending African Americans and Native Americans against racism in the early 20th century, even standing against the KKK with her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

    In 1922, when the Ku Klux Klan threatened the order for their work in Texas, the nuns prayed — and a tornado destroyed the local KKK building and killed two KKK members.

    That is one bad-ass nun.

Of course, when it comes to Bad-Ass Sisters of the Awesome Kind, nobody tops Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), who was ironically canonized by the current Pope in 2012.

At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine”, produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed.

It seems ironic that this, one of the most anti-woman Popes in my lifetime, would be the one to finally officially canonize her. German-born Benedict XVI, according to the Huffington article, apparently “repeatedly turned to her writings and prophecies to explain his vision in the most difficult moments of his pontificate.”

Making Sense of It

How is it that the Pope who canonized the Grandmamma of Feminist Religious Icons is the same Pope who is now cracking down on U.S. nuns for spending more time feeding the poor than harassing the queers?

Catholicism, as I learned early on in life, is a very odd religion.

You may wonder why I am so enthralled with this topic. After all, I left the Catholic Church when I was in my early 20s, disillusioned and angry at the hypocrisy and misogyny I saw. I spent ten years as an uncomfortable agnostic before settling into my own eclectic blend of paganism, pantheism, and Buddhism. I believe Deity is smart and flexible, and will appear in whatever form works best to get the message of Divinity out to the thick-headed monkey-people of Earth.

My Goddess is fat and wears a huge grin most of the time.

But there is a part of me that will always be Catholic, at least a little bit. And that part of me always loved the nuns. I liked their sense of humor, their pragmatism, and the hard work they did on behalf of women, families, the poor, and other disenfranchised groups.

I even wanted to be a nun, for about fifteen seconds. (“Let’s see. Poverty, no prob. Celibacy? I can do that. Obedience??? To a fucking priest? I don’t think so.”) I thought that living in a community of spiritual women who dedicated their lives to good works, devotion to the Divine, and prayerful living would be awesome.

It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that I realized what I was looking for was a coven.

Convents and Covens – They Even Spell Them Alike

I read somewhere that many of the priestesses and witches of the Old Religions chose to join convents when Christianity eventually over-ran the pagan world. A convent of women was highly preferable to many of these women, in that it would at least allow them a modicum of self-direction (a luxury for women in those dark days of forced conversion). The Druid goddess Brigid of Kildare in Ireland eventually became St. Brigid, and for centuries Irish nuns recreated the old pagan rituals as part of the Feast of St. Brigid.

At their best, the two groups (convents and covens) have a lot in common. They are mostly self-sustaining. They are powerful forces of change and good in the world. They are in but not of the world, maintaining a distance that allows for perspective and contemplation.

At their worst, they also have a lot in common. Anyone who has ever dealt with a cranky, domineering nun would recognize many of those same characteristics in a power-hungry or controlling High Priestess.

After all, underneath the robes and the pentacles, beyond the ritual and hierarchy, nuns and priestesses are human beings, flawed but striving toward a spiritual goal.

The Picture of Hope

As a child, I used to love hanging with the nuns. They were a source of mystery and awe, and most of them were really nice to me. As an adult, I’ve been privileged to know a good number of amazing high priestesses. As representatives of the Divine Feminine, despite the fact that Catholics and pagans are about as far apart on the faith scale as possible, they are inspirations to any girl or woman who is looking to live a spiritual life.

But carrying the torch of the Divine Feminism comes at a price in this increasingly anti-feminine world. The assault on women around the world grows stronger every year, from the Republican War on U.S. Women to gender discrimination and violence around the world.

These nuns and their 9-state bus tour remind us that women are not powerless. Women have voices and brains and, as these ladies have shown, courage.

As women struggle towards empowerment, there will be more opposition to come. I fear it will get worse before it gets better.

But thanks to women like the nuns and the priestesses and the protesters and the teachers, I think there is definitely hope.

So let me ask you—who is your Shero? Is she a pagan, a Christian, a Buddhist, an atheist, or something else? How does she inspire you to embrace your Divine Feminine? I’d love to hear from you.

Feel The News, June 1, 2012

Bill Maher articulates exactly what I’ve been thinking:

“How could you guys be so unhappy with Obama while I’m so unhappy with Obama? You think you got coal in your stocking? I wanted single payer health care, a carbon emissions bill, gun control and legalized pot. If you get to carry around all this outrage over me getting that sh*t, shouldn’t I have gotten it?”
Video here:
http://videos.mediaite.com/video/Bill-Maher-New-Rule-052512/player?layout=&read_more=1

Does the Game Change Here?

You have to be hiding under a rock to not be aware that this week, President Barack Obama announced officially that he supports the idea that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. And if you’ve missed the shit-storm of controversy that followed his announcement, you’ve probably pulled that rock completely over your head.

It’s no big secret that Obama has been a quiet, steady advocate of the LGBT community since taking office in 2009. His list of accomplishments in that arena are substantial and impressive:

  • Ordered the government to extend key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees (2009)
  • Hosted the first White House LGBT Pride reception (2009)
  • Banned discrimination in federal workplaces based on gender identity (2010)
  • Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law (2010)
  • Clarified the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure family leave for LGBT employees (2010)
  • Allowed transgender Americans to receive true gender passports without surgery (2010)
  • Led a United Nations measure to restore “sexual orientation” to the definition of human rights (2010)
  • Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowing LGBT Americans to serve openly in the military (2010)
  • Announced his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in courts (2011)
  • Completed an Institute of Medicine study on LGBT health, the first of its kind (2011)
  • Clarified the meaning of “family” to include LGBT relationships, helping to protect bi-national families threatened by deportation (2011)
  • Permitted military chaplains to officiate same-sex marriages where legal (2011)
  • In his presidential proclamation of National Adoption Month, called for equal treatment for same-sex adoptive parents (2011)
  • Announced HUD’s new rule protecting against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2012)
  • Announced White House LGBT Conference Series to address issues affecting LGBT Americans, including health, housing, and safety (2012)
  • Ensured transgender veterans receive respectful care according to their true gender through the Veterans Health Administration (2012)
  • Came out against North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would prohibit same-sex marriage in the state (2012)

And this isn’t even close to the complete list.

Game Change

Let me tell you something about me and Barack Obama. I didn’t support him in the 2008 Democratic primaries. I was a Hillary Gal all the way (I still am a strong supporter of Secretary of State Clinton). I thought she was strong, smart, and powerfully positioned to lead the nation. While I respected Obama and thought he was quite intelligent, I felt he lacked the experience necessary to do the job.

When Hillary lost the nomination, I was heart-broken, but I knew I had to throw my support behind Obama. Honestly, there was no other choice. I was wary, but determined that he was far superior to the other options – voting for the McCain/Palin train wreck or (worse) not voting at all.

In the three years since Obama has taken office, I’ve had to eat my words a bit with many of my friends who supported him from the start. His administration has been one of reason, good sense, increasing prosperity, and radical positive change. He took a country at the brink of utter economic collapse and set back on the right path. He made being smart cool again (an idea that had critically declined in popularity under his predecessor’s watchful eye). And, without fanfare or hoopla, he just kept doing the right thing for all of us, including LGBT Americans.

How Can You Tell the Character of a Man?

A dear friend of mine, Chris Dickenson (one of the Obama-from-the-Start crowd), used to say, “You can get a really good idea of a man’s character by looking at the people who hate him.” Over the past year, we’ve had ample opportunity to see the character of Obama’s haters, from the has-been rocker who ranted publicly against Obama and Hillary Clinton while stumping for Mitt Romney to the billionaire Koch brothers who see America as something to be bought and sold for profit.

Yeah—okay, so he has some icky enemies. But the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is just another sort of asshole.

So why have I come around? I never drank the Kool-Aid. I was an Obama skeptic from the beginning.

But I’m also aware. I’ve made a point of keeping an eye on the political scene (something taught to me by the Harvard C-ster, Dub Bush). And I’ve been impressed. I’ve been impressed and reassured and absolutely in awe of the Mr. Obama’s composure and focus. It was no ad campaign or Facebook page that turned me into an Obama supporter. It was Barack Obama himself.

Don’t Let Me Tell You How to Vote

There is absolutely no way I’m going to end this blog post by telling you to vote for or financially support Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. No, I’m going to do something even better. I’m going to challenge you.

If you’re an Obama supporter, don’t just blindly support him. Educate yourself. Look at his record, read his speeches, check his policy. The president is a charming man, and the Obamas are a beautiful family. Don’t equate charm and beauty with good and wise. Do your homework. Know your facts. And when detractors show up at your doorstep, don’t defend him by saying he’s a good guy. Have the facts as your ammunition.

If you’re on the other side, I ask you to do the same thing. Really do the same thing—look at his record, read his speeches, check his policy. Then look at the people who are telling you that Obama is no good for this country. Look at their records, read their speeches, check their policies. Have these people done you a bit of good? Are these people out to make your life better? Do these people, when the camera is off, actually live the values that you support?

It’s not enough to vote Democrat or Republican (or Ron Paul) blindly any more. The world is in a critical state. You no longer have the luxury of ignorance. You no longer have the luxury of being sheep. You must educate yourself, and you must make a stand, one way or another.

If, after you do your research, you decide that four more years of Barack Obama’s administration is the way to go, why not contribute a little green to helping him get there?

And if, after you do your research, you still want to vote for the other guys? Well, you can find your own links. 😀

A Mash-up of Politics and Physics

This is my third attempt to write something tonight. Everything I’ve written feels forced, shallow, and dull to me.

I want to write about what is going on in my life, the things that matter to me. I’m following the Presidential primaries in the United States. I’m listening to music. I’m watching documentaries about string theory and fractals and reading Madeleine Albright’s memoirs.

I’m talking to people, strangers who suddenly seem desperate to share their stories, even with a perfect stranger if necessary. And I’m listening. I’m listening not only to the stories people are telling, but to the way they’re telling it, the emotions behind the words, and the hope hidden deep within their ideas.

There’s really no way to translate this into a simple blog entry, is there?

So much is going on in the world right now, things frightening and exciting and beautiful and despicable. 2012 is that kind of year, and here we are—shuffling through as the Earth travels around the sun yet again.

It’s kind of mind-boggling to consider we are walking atop a huge ball of rock hurtling at 67,062 miles an hour around an even huger ball of nuclear explosions that make Hiroshima look like a picture of a firefly, doodled onto a worn piece of paper and forgotten in the back of a notebook.

Gravity, and its quirky nature, is the only thing that keeps our home from becoming a mini-marshmallow in that giant bonfire. And yet, according to the documentary I recently watched, gravity appears to be the weakest of the four forces.

A Matter of Perspective

One of the wonderful things about becoming more aware is that you begin to notice the interconnectedness of it all. You begin to see how just a slight turn of the gaze can make all the difference in what you see and how you interpret it.

Which of course, brings me to politics.

Like so many others, I’ve been watching the 2012 Republican primaries with a mixture of curiosity, disbelief, fear, and dumbfounded amusement. It seems to me that so much of what is being presented as policy by the candidates seems to fly in the face of both reason and good sense.

Never in my life have I seen a group of candidates so blatantly and unapologetically disregard the separation of church and state. Their apparent hostility towards the social and political strides of the last fifty years, in terms of women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, etc., seem more surreal than anything else.

And yet, they fill chairs. They get votes.

It would seem to me that anyone with a bit of sense would look at their platforms and think, “Is this some kind of a joke?”

But that is not the case.

Closed Mouth and Open Mind

Tonight, Fey and I spoke at length to a young man who referred to himself as a died-in-the-wool Conservative. And for some reason, instead of arguing with him, we just sort of listened to what he had to say.

Of course, we disagreed on many of the points he made. But the surprising part of it was not our differences, but how many things we actually did agree on.

Now, there is no way anyone would call either Fey or me conservative. But for a short time, we were able to speak respectfully and pleasantly with a person with totally opposing viewpoints.

It’s a good thing to remember, when the public discourse seems to be getting more and more polarized, that everybody seems to want basically the same thing out of life—happiness, financial security, and the freedom to live their life as they please.

Politics and Quantum Physics

Okay, so what does all this have to do with the four forces of nature? Bear with me; I’m getting there.

Remember earlier when I said that gravity appears to be the weakest of the physical forces? The theory offered in my documentary was something like this—the energy strings that form gravity (gravitons) are actually loops (as opposed to open-ended strings). Being loops, they cannot connect to anything and can be lost between dimensions. Therefore, gravity seems weaker than its fellow forces.

Just like gravity, which is actually quite strong, commonality between people also seems weaker than it actually is. Our prejudices, fears, and arguments are like the other quantum particles—often flexible, but still fixed. We get stuck in these and give them so much more importance than the more fluid forces of communication and cooperation. We forget, in our attachments, that we have a very powerful force working to our advantage.

Tonight, I learned what happens when you let go, just a little bit, of your fixed positions and just let things float for a while. It doesn’t change your inherent nature, nor does it alter your fixed beliefs. But it does allow you to shift your perspective for a while. It lets you let go of your tightly held prejudices and just enjoy cooperation and conversation for a while.

I don’t know if any of this makes any difference in the grand scheme of things. Maybe I should ask the candidates to my house for popcorn and a screen of Physics: The Elegant Universe. It may not improve the state of political discourse, but it might just make a few of these guys think for a while.