Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"choice" feminism

I have a lot to say on this subject but not a lot of time to say it. So here's a quick summary of where I am at in my thoughts ATM. As always I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I feel so led.

It seems to me that the issue of getting upset and argue about whether or not a feminist "should" shave her legs, wear heels, etc. boils down to one issue: Does a self-identified feminist have a responsibility to examine every one of her choices in light of whether or not they are empowering for other women?

Of course once you get down to that issue, it goes into exactly what does empower other women? I personally find making my own bread, cooking from scratch, knitting/sewing, and having my mom staying at home with me until I was 8 extremely empowering. And my mom, now a high-power attorney, voted one of the best in her state, asked to represent her state bar association, etc. has said that she is incredibly grateful she got to stay home with us and feels like she made a very feminist choice when she did.

Maybe this strikes to the heart of what I consider to be Christian feminism. Do I think women should have legal and political equality? Absolutely. I cheer when I hear of women running their own businesses, and getting to high positions of power, and serving as leaders in the church. But I also cheer when I hear of a woman quitting her job to stay at home. Because as a Christian feminist I want women to be empowered to do what God calls them to do. Period. End of sentence. I think that when people (try to) stop someone from following their God-given calling, whether that calling is running for president or having many many children and staying at home with them, then they are disempowering that woman. Therefore, as a third generation feminist, I will try to ensure that every choice I make is following God's will for me and that I do not hinder others from following His will.

Of course that doesn't get into the issue of what to do when a woman feels she is following God's calling by trying to legally stop other women from doing things that are "god-ordained for the masculine gender" but that's another post...

Friday, October 13, 2006

excerpt from an e-mail

Here's something I wrote in an e-mail recently regarding the book "Who Stole Feminism" by Christina Hoff Sommers...

"I dunno if I'm an equity feminist or not -- I don't like labels beyond "feminist" (which unfortunately comes with baggage). And there are all sorts of attacks on her quantitative evidence. I just know that I think it's *so* important that we look for and present the (complicated, messy) truth whenever we're talking about anything dear to us. And I don't think anyone on any "side" is nearly careful enough about that.

If we don't deal with things as they really are, then we're wasting our resources on issues that sound important but are ultimately not going to change anything. If we hold up false examples as a reason why things need to change, it makes us look foolish/deranged when they are exposed as false, and give people an excuse to ignore/dismiss the true reasons. As Robert Louis Stevenson said "the truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy."* But it's the truth that will set us free, not the spin we put upon the numbers.

And I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but it's something I'm really passionate about lately and something I'm really trying to work out in my own life :0)

Love you! [And now I'm] off to save the world by making really good mini-cheesecakes for the dinner party we're throwing tomorrow. Oh, the oppression!

*Taken from "Sexual Ecology" by Gabriel Rotello -- -- another book I highly recommend


I think the reason I'm not so good at blogging is because I tend to be able to express myself most clearly when I'm in dialogue with other people rather than when I'm just writing down my opinion -- conversation rather than monologue, informal reactions rather than formal Statements of Belief. Also I've been trying to make my writing more devotional-like than comes naturally to me. So I'm going to try to update more regularly but
perhaps less stiltedly. And I do have some thoughts on "choice feminism" a concept which is very important to me as a feminist and a Christian. So I hope to write on that in the next few days.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Getting away with things

C and I are leaving on a trip to the US soon, and we are thinking about things we want to get there that aren't available or are too expensive in NZ. So far we have socks (the 12-pair black cotton packs), reese cups, a few sewing patterns, Trader Joe's balsamic vinagarette, wrist splits for my RSI, etc.

The other day we were lying in bed when I had a light bulb moment. What about dried buttermilk? The fresh stuff is really expensive here, and I haven't been able to find a source for dried in NZ. Plus we only use a little at a time, so buying what we won't use is wasteful.

C expressed concern about getting it through customs, and I said I'd check if it was on the list of bio hazards (NZ is an island country which depends on agricuture and is very strict on what is allowed in the country). But C said, even if it was allowed she wouldn't want to bring it in, because she just wouldn't be comfortable with the risk.

There are some things in life you can get away with. I could probably get commercial dried buttermilk into NZ. And I made cornbread the other day and didn't have any of the aforementioned buttermilk. Instead I used milk with vinegar in it, and everything tasted great. In that case I "got away" with not following the recipe exactly. And I'm fine with that.

But this made me think about God and "getting away" with things. You know what I mean, we've all done it. "I wasn't lying, I was just not saying anything." "It's not greed, I just like nice things." "The Bible doesn't say I have to go to church *every* Sunday, besides it's the big game!" Etc.

Instead of telling ourselves "God hates lies, so I won't technically tell a lie" we should tell ourselves "God loves truth, so how can I be truthful in this situation?" It's about pleasing Him rather than avoiding His wrath.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Yesterday when I was working with a client who has borderline personality disorder. Essentially that means she is a 29 year old stuck with a really angsty 13 year old’s emotional development. She has the adolescent crushes, mood swings, spurts of anger, and frustrations, in addition to intellectual and physical disabilities (she’s also determined to changer her life/behaviour and I believe she can do it). She was very angry yesterday and was finding a focus for that anger in a repair that had been delayed. I looked her straight in the eye and said “Shit like this will always happen. If you let people like these repair guys ruin your day, you’re going to have nothing but ruined days. This is just a drop in the ocean of life. We are going to have a great day! I’ll cook up a delicious stir-fry and you’ll get in your PJs early and we’ll watch “Supernanny” and be really happy.”

Now, naturally that little speech was tailored to her intellectual/emotional level. But on a basic level it’s true, and it worked. As I was saying good night she said “You know what? I had a great day.” And I often need reminders of what’s a healthy reaction to annoyances. Next time I’m stomping around, conditioner in my hair, cursing our small hot water heater I probably need to give myself that little speech and chill out.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Short rant and some "recipes"

First of all, blessed Easter everyone!

Question: What do "lesbian" and "Christian" fiction have in common?

Answer: It generally sucks.

I mean, seriously. There are companies dedicated exclusively to lesbian fiction and companies dedicated exclusively to Christian fiction. And generally they both churn out formulaic junk that is painful to read. I think it's because the "message" that the authors see themselves having is more important to them than telling the story of people's lives. They don't let the characters speak for themselves, because ::gasp:: the characters might not do what the authors want them to do. Also, there must be a specific type of villain and a certain type of hero(ine) because goodness knows that if the characters were actually *human* they might have complex motives and emotions! Grr, argh.

There are some authors, who happen to be Christian and/or lesbian, who are brilliant. But I don't think they would define themselves as Christian authors or as lesbian authors. They're just storytellers. In the "Christian" area my top pick would be Madeleine L'Engle. In the lesbian area I have to go with Ellen Hart, who writes mysteries -- that's a whole different genre of course but her books are quite good. If you're going for individual lesbian novels try "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe."

Don't get me wrong -- I read the painfully formulaic stuff sometimes, out of sheer desperation to see myself represented. So I do understand the attraction. I just wish that there was more of the good stuff out there.

And now for some recipes. C and I are trying to eat fewer processed foods, so here are two of our favourite recipes. It should be noted that these don't include many amounts because I'm one of those annoying cooks who go by how the dish looks and takes plenty of tastes while I'm cooking:

Herbed Potatoes

2 potatoes
Olive oil (the good stuff, flavour is important)

Preheat the oven to 180 c (350F). Cube the potatoes and boil them for approximately 8 minutes. Drain and put in a roasting dish. Sprinkle with olive oil and with herbs to taste. Shake potatoes so that they are thoroughly coated. Bake for 10 minutes. Shake again, and grill for five minutes. Serves 2.

This makes a lovely dish, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Onion and crushed garlic can also be added.

Chicken "fried" rice

2/3 cup brown rice
Mixed veggies
Cooked chicken breast
Crushed garlic
Oil (I use sesame and olive)
Soy sauce
2 egg whites, one whole egg

Chop the onion (I do it into little "half moons") ahead of time and soak it. This is the secret to really sweet onions -- we don't have vidalia available here, but soaked white onions taste nearly as good. I chop them and put them in a cup of warm water, leave it for 30 minutes, change the water and leave it for another 30 minutes. Cook the rice. Saute the onion and garlic in soy sauce and oil in a low heat wok. Once the onion has been caramelized, add the mixed veg, broccoli and more soy sauce, and cover the top of the wok so that the broccoli can steam. Stir occasionally. While the broccoli is steaming mix together the egg and egg whites. Pour into a pan and cook to make a flat patty. Remove and cut into strips. Cube the chicken. Add egg, chicken, and rice along with more soy sauce. Makes roughly 3-4 servings -- I eat however much I want and put the rest aside for later.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cost and True Cost

As I type this my fingers smell delicious -- I have just finished filling one of our spice jars with cinnamon. But not just any cinnamon. I paid more than three times as much for this “common” spice as I would have for the plain old supermarket version. And I spent 30% of my weekly discretionary money (my “allowance,” $10 per week) to do it.

So why would I, a self-proclaimed tightwad who watches every five-cent piece, do such a thing? That has to do with cost, true cost, and the difference between the two. This is an extremely complex issue, and I could write reams about it if I had the time and the research assistants. However here is a brief snapshot of what I am trying to move my life towards.

Spices were the European drug trade of the medieval times. A bag of cloves was worth its weight in gold. People would kill you for a few ounces of cinnamon. And hundreds of thousands of people died in the pursuit of them. Why haven’t we heard of this? At least partially because those people had brown skin and lived outside Europe. They were the natives of the lands from which spices were imported. That legacy lives on today, when (formerly) colonised people still eke out a starvation-level life producing the cinnamon I like to sprinkle on my oatmeal every morning. Which is why, when I found out Trade Aid sells cinnamon (and it’s organic!), I decided to buy it there.

You see, as a Christian I believe that the true cost of goods is not just the market cost. It is the impact those goods have on the world and on people’s lives. By supporting organizations such as Trade Aid I am supporting a business who is dedicated not just to profit and to shareholders but who believe it has a responsibility to its suppliers and employees as well. To me, the “cost” of that $.89 supermarket cinnamon is not just the coinage but also the desperation of the farmer that produces it, the children who don’t get to go to school and so are trapped in the same cycle, the toll on the land when it’s used over and over without consideration for long term effects, etc. My “extra” $2 isn’t much, but it can help to pay for the avoidance of that misery

Now I’m not saying perfect or that the decisions are easy. Much of the time, trying to calculate all As an example, I bought the Trade Aid cinnamon this week, but this weekend I will buy a Cadbury chocolate bar. The cocoa industry is notorious for being connected to child slavery, Cadbury is not committed to “policing” their cocoa suppliers, and Trade Aid (who is) also sells chocolate. So I should buy the Trade Aid stuff, right? On the other hand, there is a Cadbury factory in my hometown. So if I buy the Cadbury not only am I supporting a local industry and local jobs, but I am also “saving” the pollution that shipping the chocolate costs. the impact of the products I consume will drive me crazy.

So I carefully weigh all the pros and cons. And what it truthfully comes down to, in my mind with it’s limited-knowledge and self-centeredness, is that I like the Cadbury better. So that’s what I’ll buy. However I did buy the cinnamon, which is a step. Next time I buy hot chocolate I will buy it at Trade Aid. And I pray that God will continue working on my heart to orient it more towards my neighbours, local and global, and less towards what I desire, and my mind to give me better discernment, and my will, so it is His.


-- For more on the history of spices and the spice trade, go to The Epicentre

-- I understand that other people have different views on whether buying things at “artificially” inflated prices helps or hurts. If you do not feel led, for whatever reason, to buy fair trade items please consider doing one of the following actions:

1) Write letters to corporations on a regular basis. If you are a customer of the company you have power. I'll be happy to help someone draft letters, get names and addresses, etc. In those letters don't just demand that they pull out factories which use sweatshops or pay starvation level wages/prices, ask them to improve the conditions instead.

2) Projects like the Heifer project provide people with their own source of income. Likewise places like the Grameen bank provide small loans to people (mostly women) so they can start to have their own businesses. World Vision is a Christian organisation working in developing countries. Please consider supporting these organisations or others like them

3) Check with your church about education and missions in third world countries. One of the things about sweatshops is that women who work there are not provided with any skills to improve themselves. An example would be a woman who worked in a factory setting collars into blouses. She might have done that for four or five years. The factory owner has a stake in her not learning how to sew anything except collars onto blouses. However there are churches that provide missions with job training such as sewing skills. I know the Presbyterian Women's Conference is heavily involved in areas such as this.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cursing Jesus

C has a client who is very religious. He is constantly carrying on a conversation with God both in his head and out-loud, and he always says exactly what he’s thinking. The other morning he walks into the living room shouting “Jesus you bastard! You won’t help me find my pants!”

C and I both had a good laugh about this, but some other friends’ reactions made me think. Isn’t this often how we treat Jesus/God? I mean, the client’s statement was totally appropriate for his mental age and condition. But quite often I find myself feeling the same way, if not in so many words. “Jesus, you bastard! Why did you let me hit the snooze button?” “God, you bastard! This party is on a night I have to work!” “Jesus, you bastard! My MP3 player went through the wash!”

This is one of the big problems I have with a trend I see in contemporary Christianity such as the prayer of Jabez , the prosperity “gospel,” and yes, my own faith included. We seem to think God should make everything convenient for us. We seem to want God to be a magic wand. “God, please find me a parking space. God I want to find a top to match this skirt. God, this computer is so slow!”*

God’s promise, His “job”, is not to take away the inconveniences. Or even the misery we see all around us. God’s promise is that He will redeem the misery (and often inconveniences are part of that process). Somehow, someway, grace will shine through. So perhaps our prayers and rantings should focus on how to deal with inconvenient situations, not be rescued from them. On how to be part of that grace.

*I know He numbers the hairs on our heads and He cares for the lilies and the birds. So yes, I think it is okay to pray for the little things. That’s not the point of this post.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Frugal food stuff

I thought I'’d post about food expenditures, since I enjoy reading other people's personal stories on their blogs.

C and I are on a specific diet (Body for Life if anyone'’s interested). This means that, ideally, we eat six small meals of roughly equal protein/carb portions with a healthy fat at each meal. One day a week we get to eat however much we want of whatever foods we want -- a "“free day".

We have budgeted NZ$65 for the two of us weekly, this includes cleaning and basic hygiene supplies. We keep an eye on our food throughout the week and add things to a list as we go. On Thursday we plan out our menus, and make a grocery list. We shop once a week, on our free day, which is Saturday. We shop at two different stores: the Cheap Supermarket and the Frozen Goods store. Eggs and chicken are bought at the FG, everything else is bought at CS.

$15-20 of our weekly budget goes towards chicken breasts. We both lift weights, and need lean protein. I don'’t eat any red meat, C eats steak or lamb 1-2 times per week. Because meat is such a large part of our budget, we try to keep the rest down as much as possible.

Things we do

-- The closer to the way God made it the better it is: Most of the food we buy is unprocessed, which we feel is much healthier. We'’ll choose popcorn over crackers, etc. I am able to make many of our foods such as biscuits and bread rolls from scratch. I have found that it doesn'’t take too much extra time and you can make the exact amount that you want rather than eating the rest of the packet because it'’s there. Which brings me to my next point...

-- Eat off the margin: The idea, gleaned from Tightwad Gazette, is that the first couple bites are great, and after that you experience less pleasure with each bite. So what will satisfy you? We used to buy a large bag of potato chips, and then we'’d feel obliged to eat it all on that day, so there wouldn'’t be any left over to tempt us on non-free days. We enjoyed them, but they led to “mindless munching”. So we tried just splitting an individual bag of potato chips. We found that that satisfied us, we felt as though we had a special treat and we didn'’t actually miss the mindless munching.

-- Generics won'’t kill you: We buy a lot of generic stuff. However one thing we buy brand name are baked beans. C tried the generic ones and feels there is a notable difference in quality. So we wait until the brand names are on sale and stock up. That's the rule of thumb for generics -- – try them once before you make a decision about brand names. If you don'’t like them don'’t use them again.

-- Weigh the cost: We carry a calculator with us which allows us to calculate unit prices. We don'’t actually keep a price book because we have most of the info in our heads.

-- How many stores? We shop at two that are only a couple blocks away from each other. We do this because of significant savings: At CS chicken breasts are $14.95 per kilo and eggs are $6.95 for 30. At FG chicken breasts are $9.20 per kilo and eggs are $4.95 per 30. Of course if CS is having a sale that beats those prices we won'’t go to FG but as it is, we save more than the cost of the used petrol. Plus, ahem, FG happens to be next door to our favourite bakery... We do keep an eye on sales at the two other store in the area, but overall CS is best on staples.

-- Treats: We buy everything on the list first and if there is money left over we get one “treat” each, a chocolate bar or trail mix, or such. After that, any “free day food we want comes out of our discretionary money. An exception would be if we are hosting friends or attending a potluck or something like that.

Things we would do if we were living in another country

-- Buy hormone/antibiotic free meat and dairy products. Regulations in NZ mean that I don'’t have to worry about that here, but I definitely think it would be worth it if hormones and antibiotics were routinely added. I don'’t really worry about pesticides either, but I do need to do more research on those areas.

-- Taxes: In New Zealand, tax is included in the price of the item. However if you shop in a country where sales tax is not included in the shelf price, subtract the percentage of the sales tax from your grocery budget and figure out how much you really have to spend. For instance if NZ tax was 6% on top of the shelf price the formula I use would go something like this: 65*.06=3.9, 65-3.0= 61.10. So if I'’ve budgeted $65 for groceries I really have $61.10 to spend before I get up the counter.

Things we don'’t do

-- Put cost before health. We could live off two minute noodles and stay alive but our health is important to us.

-- Beat ourselves up for deviating from these rules once in a while. If one of us is PMS-ing and has no discretionary money left, we'’re not going deprive her of ice cream. If someone has a cold, we might run to the store for fresh-squeezed OJ. If there'’s a really good sale, we'’ll go over budget and take it off next week'’s grocery allowance. We do allow a certain amount of flexibility.

-- Deviate from these rules on a regular basis. We'’ve set a budget and we generally stick to it.

Things we want to try in the future

-- Eating more vegetarian meals after the weightlifting period slows down

-- Living off the '“Pantry Principle'” a la Tightwad Gazette

-- Gardening

I'’ll end this with one of our favourite frugal recipes --– it uses five ingredients that we always have on hand, and is soooo good.

Balsamic vinegar chicken and couscous for two

200 grams chicken (8 oz)
½ cup couscous
1.5 tbs balsamic vinegar 2 tspbs olive oil
Crushed garlic to taste (2tsp for us)

Cut up the chicken into stir-fry pieces and put in a closed container with the vinegar, ½ olive oil and garlic. Shake to thoroughly coat then leave in fridge for an hour or so.

Heat ¾ cup water and remaining oil to the boiling point. Take the pot off the burner and add the couscous, making sure it is all submerged into the water. Cover the pot and let sit for five minutes.

Cook the chicken mixture in a pan sprayed with non-stick spray or on a counter top grill like the George Foreman. Fluff the couscous with a fork and divide it into bowls, putting the chicken on top. If you like, add more balsamic and a veg, such as broccoli.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Short thoughts

1 Corinthians 13:8-13 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I know this is one of the most oft-quoted passages in Christianity. And I've been thinking about it lately, especially
"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known."

And I think Paul was commenting here on perspective. In this world we see everything through our own reflections in the glass/mirror -- through our own concerns, experiences, hopes and fears. Every event I witness or hear about is filtered through "me" coloured glasses. Now I know only in part, the part that I can comprehend. And yet God knows me fully, knows everything fully. And I think that plays a part in His great justice and mercy. He sees all our evil and sins with a glaring, pure light and He knows exactly how horrible they are -- more horrible than we can begin to imagine. He knows us fully and so He knows what would be justice for our transgressions.

And yet He sees the foolishness and the weaknesses and the striving that goes on all the time in our hearts. He sees how hard we often try to do the right thing, and how often the wrong thing is done because of blindness instead of willful evil. And He has mercy on us, because with the fullness of understanding comes love in Christ Jesus, which is greater than comprehension. He knows what justice would be and yet He chooses mercy. Not a flaccid "here are daisies and pretty kittens for you to play with forever!" mercy, but a great mercy that constantly calls us to Him.

Can we do the same? I know I can look at another person and catalogue their sin, exactly what it is and why it is so bad, and give thanks that I am "not like them." I do it all the time, to my shame. But can I look at someone and see their sin in clear light and yet still try to know them fully with love? Can I look at them and make a judgment and then set aside that judgment in favour of mercy? If God does so am I not required to do the same?

Hope this isn't too rambling -- just some ruminations I had while in the shower.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Zero waste household

Our small group is doing a Lenten study on ecology/economy and God this year. Our first study was last night, and one of the discussion points was "In your own oikos [dwelling place] economy (e.g. buying food, clothes, petrol, using electricity) do you make connections with the wider 'inhabited world'? What resources have gone into the items, their transport and their packaging?

I admit that I used to be a lot more involved in the whole organic/no sweat movement than I am now. So, C and I talked a little bit about how we try to create a "zero waste" household. Most often heard in reference to businesses, our goal is to reduce the output of "garbage" (things that have to go to landfills) to nil. Not only is this good for the environment, in our city you pay a certain fee per bag of garbage so it's good for our finances as well. We're both naturally tightwads as well as paying off student loans.

At this point we're down to half a grocery bag of garbage per week. This isn't bad for a two person household, and I don't think we'll be able to go any lower than that. But what I've noticed is that it's all connected. We're able to get that low partly because we have so little packaging to throw away, we have so little packaging because we buy mostly unprocessed foods, and we buy unprocessed foods because we're trying to be health concious. So we're healthier and our budget stays lower because of that. And at the same time we're (usually) not wasting anything, and I believe that fully using the resources with which God has blessed us honors Him. The more we drown the earth in crud, the less respect we have for His creation.

A few practical tips.

1) Recycle everything you can
2) Compost. Even if you live in the city, you can do it. If you can't handle a compost pile, there are often urban and food bank gardens that compost and will take your scraps. Keep the items in your freezer until you can drop them off there (see 3).
3) As the garbage only goes out once a week, if we put any sort of meat component in there things would get smelly rather quickly. So what we use is either a bread bag or a plastic vegetable bag from the supermarket. Everything protein-y goes in there from the meat packaging to chicken skin to boiled egg yolks. On garbage day we simply take the bag from the freezer and pop it into the trash to go out.
4) Buy less. Do you really need X, Y and Z? Or just Z? Or none of it? Would baking be more fun than buying? Can you get those cookies in a recyclable paper bag? Etc. etc. etc.

I hope I don't come off as priggish or "Look at us! Look at us!" here. There's lots more we could be doing that we don't. But this is one bit where I feel good about our efforts.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Forgiveness starts with an apology -- my own

I've been having clashes with my boss lately. We both care deeply about our intellectually disabled clients. However she's a lot more into political correctness than I am and she likes to be in charge. I am not the only one to clash with her: all of the employees in our house feel as though they are not being listened to and that her need for control is being put before the clients' welfare. I do believe she genuinely thinks she's doing what's best but I also believe she is deeply insecure and controlling.

Recently she and I had a rather heated conversation over a specific issue, in which she cut me off three times then berated me for making her repeat herself three times. I was furious. I spent the rest of the day being icily polite and the rest of the week fuming. I hit the hell out of a punching bag at the gym. I complained to my wife. I spent several deeply satisfying occasions bashing her with other employees and being assured that I was in the right. I knew better than her. It was myself who was righteous.

At the same time I was also praying to God about the situation. And you know what God told me? I needed to be the one to apologise.

But I hadn't done anything wrong! She was the one who was putting her own psychological needs ahead of practicality and the client's comfort. She was the one who was rude to me. She---

She was someone to whom I needed to be reconciled. I was accomplishing nothing be nurturing my feelings of anger, by gossiping about her with other employees, by refusing to see the Christ in her. I was just confirming my own opinions over and over. So I searched my heart for anything I had done that contributed to making that encounter an angry one. And I was able to see that my own behaviour had not been all it could be. So when we next met, I sincerely apologized for being defensive and started to explain why I had been that way.

And then she cut me off in order to accept my apology. ARGH!

But I have made a committment to pray for her, and hard as it is it feels good. I have made a committment not to speak negatively of her with other employees and that's even harder. But when the situation comes to a head I will be able to look her in the eye and know that I tried not to make the situation worse. And that is important to me.

""You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, "You shall not murder'; and "whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, "You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift... But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven;"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Failing my dishtowels

I have failed in my stewardship of our dishtowels.

We wash our dishtowels once a week, seperately, in hot water and (often) bleach. We use them for drying dishes, for drying our hands, etc. And sometimes that means they get a stain or two on them. And I have not been doing anything about that.

We got some lovely new dishtowels for Christmas, from my mom, and two are already stained. As they hang over our oven door, that means anyone who enters our kitchen sees what looks like dirty cloths being used in our kitchen.

A stain or two may sound like a trivial matter, but we take pride in our home. I don't want people to think we use dirty cloths. I want people to come into our home and feel relaxed and safe. And I think it's the little things about a home, things that may not even be conciously noticed, that do that. There are more important things than dishcloths but at the moment I can still take the time to look at the dirty ones every night and treat the stains before I put them in the laundry bucket. And I do believe it will make a difference in how I feel.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Lord's Supper

I love taking communion.  The reason is
not just that it is a tangible reminder of God's
sacrifice but that it connects me with all Christians,
back to the very first disciples. Every time I take
communion I am linking myself to the Church. I am
stating I am part of the Body. I am declaring not
only my allegiance to Christ but my willingness to be
counted among his followers, even (especially?) among
those I dislike. It is my connection to the past,
present and future Bride.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why I dislike most reality TV shows

I should probably start off this post by admitting that C and I have lived without a television for almost a year now, and before that I didn't watch many shows. This was a deliberate decision on our parts, as we both felt that TV (while it could be fun) was a time-sucker, and that most of the shows were not worth watching. So I don't have much first-hand experience with reality TV.

That being said, I do work in a residential setting and the residents control the TV remote. And lately, on Thursday nights, it's been "Bridezilla." And it has clarified, for me, my biggest problem with reality TV in general*

In case you're not familiar with the premise of this show, it follows several brides through their time spent planning enormous weddings. These brides are not, generally speaking, pleasant people. Now the essence of all visual/literary entertainment is conflict. Whether it's human against nature, human against circumstance, or human against human the conflict is (let's face it) what we want to see. We want to watch people's struggle to survive and triumph.

I am not speaking against that human drive in general. I love mystery novels, Buffy the Vampire Slayer etc. as much as the next person. And I think in fictional situations, conflict is fine and necessary. But watching Bridezilla last night, there was a moment when the interviewer clearly manipulated one of the brides into saying something hurtful to/about her fiance. These shows thrive on creating conflict between people. They get ratings off of making people hate each other. Their whole purpose is to drive the people on the show apart, not to promote understanding.

Harsh words? Maybe. But remember that these shows were created and produced in order to make money. Ratings quite often equal money. What will more people tune in to watch? People talking out their differences and trying to clear up misunderstandings? Or people calling each other whores and liars and threatening to "get" each other?

I'm not going to go into the old argument "if people will tune into it we should make it." As a Christian/mostly-libertarian I believe that you should have the legal right to make it, but that doesn't mean that it's the morally correct thing to do.

*I realize there are different types of reality TV shows but I submit that most of them need conflict between participants. The exception might be Extreme Home Makeover, but Kate Bowman wrote a really good article on that too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Impenetrable theology joke

Credit to jnelson via a comment at Brideget Jones Goes to Seminary.

And it just so happens that Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr find themselves all at the same time at Caesarea Philippi. And who should come along but Jesus, and he asks these three famous theologians, “Who do you say that I am?”

Karl Barth stands up and says: “You are the 'wholly other,' the vestigious trinitatum who speaks to us in the modality of Christomonism.”

Following this, Paul Tillich states: “You are he who heals our ambiguities and overcomes the split of angst and existential estrangement; you are he who speaks of the theonomous viewpoint of the analogia entis, the analogy of our being and the ground of all possibilities.”

Reinhold Niebuhr gives a cough for effect and says, in one breath: “You are the impossible possibility who brings to us, your children of light and children of darkness, the overwhelming oughtness in the midst of our fraught condition of estrangement and brokenness in the contiguity and existential anxieties of our ontological relationships.”

And Jesus looks at them and says, “What?”


This is why 10 pages of reading can take an hour or more...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It doesn't do to get too sentimental...

So, I'm a support worker for the intellectually disabled (ID). In New Zealand, most institutions have been shut down, and if the ID person is not dangerous to self or others they generally live in "community care" -- that is, a house with other ID people, with a level of support staff which depends on the level of disability.

Some of my clients lived with their parents until their parents grew too elderly to care for them. Some have been in institutions since the age of two. Some have involved family, others have virtually been abandoned.

H. is in his mid-seventies, the oldest of 7 siblings. He lived with his parents for forty years, but now has little contact with family members. He is moderately ID with severe mood disorders. When he's charming, he's absolutely charming, when he's a being a bugger he'll surpass all other annoyances. But he's very focused on siblings and cousins, and is always calling people his "wee brother" or "wee sister."

So the other day he looked at me and began his usual vocal pattern by saying "I've got something!"

"What do you have?"

"I have a new family."

"You do?"

"Yes! That's my new family!" and he started pointing at and listing the names of all the other residents in the house.

And my heart was breaking, and I went home to C. and we both thought about what it must be like to live with family most of your life and be ripped from them and not understand why, etc. etc. And how it must feel to build a "new family" and we're so thankful for community care, etc. etc.

The next day I am helping H undress for his "wee bubble bath" and he looks at me again and says "I've got something."

"Yes, what do you have?"

"I've got a new family."

"You do?"

"This is my new family!" and he pats a stack of towels on the shelf.

Okay, now I don't feel so bad any more :P

I love my job. The residents are often heartbreakingly beautiful, and truly innocent in the best "kingdom of heaven" way. And there's no doubt that H does look on other residents as his family and loves them. But it doesn't do to sentimentalize the ID. That limits them and their feelings/abilities. And unfortunately it's a tendency I have, one I have to lose in order to be the best support worker I can be.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The daily agenda of real life lesbian

Have already snuggled my wife, gotten up, been to the gym, and had breakfast. Here's what I want to accomplish for the rest of the day:

1) Get at least two-thirds of the way through the biography of Heloise and Abelard which is due at the library this week

2) Unload the dishwasher

3) Study Latin vocab flashcards

4) Hang out washing

5) Make dinner for tonight

6) Walk to the post office and send my mom's birthday card

7) Knit some more on the sweater I'm making for my grandmother

8) Read a chapter of Galatians

And at 4:00 I go to work.

Radical, huh?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

At the moment I am using this blog to comment on other blogs. Hopefully that will change within the next few months.