The Lady Speaks

The Day After – Cleanup

Well, what a day. The presents were opened, the kiddies happy with what they got or else wisely keeping their mouths shut. And I’m happy – I guessed all their sizes correctly for the first time in ages.  No reason for standing in the miles-long return lines! Now that’s a reason to celebrate!

Now the late-December rituals are nearly complete. All that remains is to take down the tree – which I’m stuck with till January 1st, by order of the children – and to make the New Year’s resolutions – which will last only slightly longer than the lovely box of chocolates I received.

What are my resolutions? Hmmmm. Well, I could try quitting smoking again….

Truthfully, I have no idea what to resolve for 2007.

Ideas? Suggestions?

December 26, 2006 Posted by | America, Christmas, New Year, Solstice | 2 Comments

Christmas – Pray for Peace

“What is Christmas? It is the fervent wish that every path may lead to peace.”– Agnes T. Pharo


Photo from: signonsandiego.com

* * * * *

From a peace liturgy at Wellsprings on the Web:

Bruised and black clouds shed heavy tears on the fields of Flanders,
fields become graveyards
in which were buried the flower of a generation

AND GOD WEPT
FOR THESE WERE HIS CHILDREN

Bruised and black clouds
shed heavy tears on the cities of Europe
of Japan, cities shrouded in the dust of desolation
camps wreathed in the smoke of human cremations
people in confusion whispering – “Please God, never again”

AND GOD WEPT
FOR THESE WERE HIS CHILDREN

Bruised and black clouds shroud cities
shopping streets
business centres
refugee camps
and people gaze on devastation
wrought by evil on innocence

AND GOD WEEPS
FOR THESE ARE HIS CHILDREN

Bruised and black clouds
shed tears over a whole world
bowed – bloodied by battle
cowed and weary of war
her roads clogged by refugees –
with nowhere but earth to call home

AND GOD WEEPS
FOR THESE ARE HIS CHILDREN

Photo from: Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace

* * * * *

A prayer for peace, from the Christian belief:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that
I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in forgiving that we
Are forgiven, and it is in dying

That we are born to eternal life.

Amen

From: ‘Christmas at War’ by Ava Lowery

 

Since I can’t figure out how to do the You-Tube thing, please go to Peace Takes Courage or FireDogLake to see Ava Lowery’s latest production, “Christmas at War” with Sarah McLachlan singing ‘Silent Night.’

And, if you haven’t seen it, watch “End This War” with music by Johnny Cash.

December 25, 2006 Posted by | America, Children, Christianity, Christmas, Family, Middle East, Prayer, Protest, Religion, US Military, War, White House, World Peace | 1 Comment

Jenn’s Sunday Sermon – Pray for Peace

Today is Christmas Eve. For those of the Christian persuasion, tomorrow is one of the most holy days of the year. As always at this time of year, I think of how little things have changed with regard to the less-fortunate of society.

A poor carpenter and his pregnant (virgin) wife arrived in a city and found no one willing to take them in. No family, no friends. The trip has been hard on them both, but worse for Mary.

Imagine Mary. About to give birth. She can’t see her feet. Her back hasn’t stopped aching for the last three months, she’s ridden across Israel on the back of a donkey – probably in labor the last few hours of the journey – and now she can’t even find a warm place to lay down and give birth.

At each door they knocked upon, they were told there was no room. Wandering around the city, searching for shelter, finding none as the day wore on.

Finally, one innkeeper gives what he can (without putting himself out). A stall in the barn. Mary likely looked at Joseph and said, “I don’t care. Just get me off this donkey.”

I don’t pretend to be like Mary, but I know the ‘joy’ of travelling cross-country at eight and a half months pregnant. In a Subaru Brat. Two seats. I couldn’t get comfortable for anything. The only clothes I fit into were sweats that made me look like a hippo. The most comfortable position was with my head on the passenger window and my feet in my then-husband’s lap.

We spent the trip fighting over the temperature controls and the radio station. He wanted it warm, I wanted it cold. He wanted country music. I wanted rock. By the time we reached Wichita Falls, all I wanted was a bed and painkillers and to not be pregnant anymore.

The TLF at Sheppard AFB was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen (which I think is the point of Temporary Lodging Facilities. They don’t want you to like it enough to stay.) but I have never been so grateful for a bed. And, as bad as all that was, it sure beat a donkey ride and a cow barn.

The poor, Christ said, we will have with us always. And so we do.

Even in this time of giving and ‘goodwill toward men,’ the poor are blamed for their own situations. People with plenty to spare have all kinds of ‘reasons’ why some people, some group isn’t worth helping. We’ve heard a lot of them over the past year.

Katrina victims in NOLA and the Gulf Coast – “They should have found a way out.” and “They shouldn’t have lived there.” and “They’re all criminals and trash.”

Single parents working one or more jobs, earning minimum wage, barely making ends meet – they should have gotten and/or stayed married. Married parents working one or more jobs, earning minimum wage, barely making ends meet – “they need to pull themselves up and stop whining.”

Poor women who work are ‘selfish’ and should stay home with their children. Poor stay-at-home mothers are ‘lazy.’

Those forced into bankruptcy are “lazy” and “need to be more responsible” even though the leading reason for filing is catastrophic medical expenses.

Illegal Hispanic immigrants sitting in ‘detention facilities’, their American-citizen children left behind or imprisoned with them – “They broke the law.” (Never mind that illegal entry to the US is a misdemeanor offense.)

Is this is what the Republicans meant by “compassionate conservatism?” Is this what Christians call “goodwill toward men?”

Should Christ return tomorrow, he’s going to be mighty surprised by the lack of compassion for the poor, the imprisoned, the afflicted, that is shown by his supposed ‘followers.’ Perhaps instead of worrying about a ficticious ‘War on Christmas,’ they might take some time to actually listen and follow the teachings of their founder.

* *

Today’s prayer is from the Zoroastrian belief:

We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world:
that understanding triumph over ignorance,
that generosity triumph over indifference,
that trust triumph over contempt, and
that truth triumph over falsehood.

This prayer comes from Prayers for Peace.

December 24, 2006 Posted by | America, Children, Christianity, Christmas, Government, Prayer, Protest, Religion, War, World Peace | 2 Comments

What Global Warming?

Anyone who doesn’t think global warming is a real and serious threat to the planet can kiss my patootie!

Do you know how hard it is to get in the spirit of the holiday of peace and joy when not only is there no snow in northeastern PA, but freakin’ dandelions are blooming??

This is the view outside my front door today:

Do you see that grass? Green. In December. In Pennsylvania.

Usually you can’t even see the grass because it’s buried under a foot of snow that’s piled up since Thanksgiving, and what grass you might see in patches would be a dull dead brown. Usually we can’t even get the trash cans near the curb, so we perch them on snowbanks next to the street*.

And the geese are utterly confused. They have apparently decided this is as far south as they’re going. I haven’t a clue how many are living at Island Pond and the Guthrie pond, but it’s got to be close to three hundred or more.

So. Having (finally) gotten to see ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and looking around my neighborhood, I plan to slap the living hell out of anyone who suggests global warming isn’t a serious concern.

I mean, this is Pennsylvania for Pete’s sake! We’re supposed to have snow and cold and gray skies that make a person want to hibernate. We’re at our best when there’s a blizzard. I  took my driver’s test in a blizzard, four days before Christmas! (I didn’t really have a choice; my permit was going to expire.)

We compete to see who has the best story about winter driving! “Well, there I was on I-81, two feet of snow on the ground, inching along behind an 18-wheeler when out of nowhere came this ambulance that hit a patch of ice and spun around. Couldn’t get it out, so I offered to take them and the patient in my Ford Escort. The EMTs delivered the baby in the backseat, and everyone was just fine. Got them all right to the hospital, no chains, didn’t even have studs on the tires.”

Pennsylvania without snow? It’s just wrong.

*What’s with the street, you ask? Well, the town decided to replace the sewer lines, and the utility companies decided to upgrade or something as well. So, they dug big-ass trenches down both sides and at multiple points along the length of the street. That was in May.

They then forgot about it, or something. Come September, people started getting annoyed about having to drive through what was, more or less, creek beds and craters, caused by the fill being carried away whenever heavy rains came through.

In response to complaints, the borough council told us the work would be finished and a ‘skim coat’ of blacktop put on – by Thanksgiving. Well – no surprise to those that live here – the work wasn’t  finished and all they managed to do was put a layer of blacktop over the trenches. And no, it wasn’t done by Thanksgiving. The so-called ‘paving’ you see here was put on about two weeks ago.

Still, it’s slightly better than what we had before. Those of us who don’t own SUVs no longer have to drive two miles an hour through craters, praying we don’t smash the muffler or take off the oil pan.

December 23, 2006 Posted by | America, Christmas, Global Warming, Pennsylvania, Weather | 2 Comments

Friday Anti-War Song

Truly, what other song could be posted today?

This is Christmas
— John Lennon

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
Ans so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

 

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

 

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

War is over over
If you want it
War is over
Now…

December 22, 2006 Posted by | America, Bush, Children, Christmas, Family, Government, Iraq, Music, Politics, Protest, Solstice, US Military, War, White House, World Peace | Leave a comment

Cold as ICE

The aftermath of recent raids on Swift meat-packing plants around the country are getting little attention, except, perhaps, in the blogosphere and the affected states.

Like the Iraq war, the reasons for the raids are a constantly-shifting smoke screen. That the intention was to ‘break up an identity-theft ring’ has been effectively disproven. Only 65 of the 1282 arrested were charged with criminal offenses, according to TPMmuckraker:

According to DHS’ own tally, only 65 of the 1,282 arrests were for criminal violations, including identity-theft related crimes. That means that over 1,200 of the people arrested had no connection to any identity theft rings, and were guilty only of run-of-the-mill immigration violations. […]

Striking a blow against innocent children and their families is more like it. And nine days before Christmas, no less. Instead of ‘No Child Left Behind,’ we have a case of many children – most of them American citizens – left to fend for themselves. Worse, no one seems to know exactly how many children have been orphaned by these raids, and no one seems to know who  is supposed to be in charge of caring for these children.

From the Worthington (MN) Daily Globe:

Concern and uncertainty prevailed Tuesday as educators tried to cope with fallout from the federal immigration sweep at the local Swift and Company plant.

[snip]

No one seemed sure of the fate of children whose parents were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

[snip]

As of 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, the Nobles County Family Service Agency had not yet received any reports of children left unattended.

[snip]
“This is something we deal with every single day,” said ICE Public Affairs Officer Tim Counts. “People who we arrest sometimes have children. We are quite accustomed to dealing with this.”

And, like their response to Hurricane Katrina, they’re ‘dealing with this’ by not dealing with it in any real way?

From the Dallas News, via firedoglake:

Late Tuesday in Dallas, agency spokesman Carl Rusnok, asked about delays in getting the workers access to lawyers, said agents at the scene “still have to process the people they have arrested.”

The union also had located at least 35 children in the nearby communities of Dalhart and Stratford whose parents were in custody. Mr. Rodriguez did not know how many children were stranded in Cactus and Dumas, a city about 15 miles from the plant.

[snip]

Federal agencies hadn’t asked Texas officials for help with the workers’ children, said Greg Cunningham, a spokesman for Texas Child Protective Services in Amarillo.

Even finding out who is being held and where they are is difficult. Lawyers who want to advise detainees are – no surprise – getting no help from ICE.

From the Greeley (CO) Tribune:

Lawyers are getting few details from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in tracking those apprehended in the raid at Swift & Co.’s meat processing plant in Greeley on Tuesday.

“I have clients that ICE doesn’t know where they are,” said Arturo Jimenez, an immigration lawyer in Denver who’s been in contact with at least 11 families who are looking for someone taken in the raid. “Some of these folks were calling home and now I found out that there are three for sure in Texas.”

The biggest problem for Jimenez and others is finding where people are being held and getting them legal advice. Just because they are not legal residents, does not mean that they do not have the right to see an attorney or see a judge, he said.

“Even the folks we found, they wouldn’t give us any numbers for them or access to speak with them,” Jimenez said. “It’s pretty ugly.”

[snip]

“We are just continuing to try and find out where people are and trying to get the answers out of ICE,” said Kim Salinas, an immigration attorney in Fort Collins […]

Salinas said she heard as many as 100 were taken to El Paso, Texas on Wednesday when she visited the immigration detention center in Aurora.

“ICE has made it virtually impossible for their families to find these people,” Salinas said. “They are making it harder for people to reunite with their families.”

From the Des Moines Register:

A priest’s and nun’s mission to find the mother of a nursing baby was thwarted today after they said officials from Camp Dodge would not let them inside to tell their story.

[snip]

Carmen Montealegre is one of the women who is taking care of two of her friends’ children with family displaced by the arrests. One of the children, a seven-year-old, asks frequently why her mother was detained, she said.

“She asked me three times, ‘Did she kill someone?’ I said, ‘She was working under another name.’”

The baby left behind has her own problems.

She has been difficult to feed since her mother was arrested, Feagan said.

[…]

Feagan said she and advocates for local Hispanic families have tried to pinpoint exactly how many children are in family-limbo to try to organize help.

A total of 408 students were absent in the Marshalltown community school district as of Wednesday morning, district officials reported.

I guess it’s just more of those ‘compassionate conservative Christian’ values at work, huh?

Feliz Navidad, Amerika.

December 15, 2006 Posted by | America, Children, Christmas, Family, Government, Immigration | Leave a comment

Tis the Season

The War on Christmas? Apparently it’s on again, at least in this county. I made the mistake of wishing someone a “Happy Holiday”. With great indignity she replied, “I celebrate Christmas.” Well then. I then said “oh” and said I hoped it was joyful.

The second mistake was in not moving on immediately.

She informed me that this is a Christian nation, founded on Christian principles, and that she was sick of liberals who wanted to destroy ‘their’ holiday.

When I replied that if their holiday was about shopping until one was deeply in debt, wasting money and time buying expensive gadgets for overly-spoiled children, and shoving their religion in other people’s faces while simultaneously failing to live by the principles of that religion, then maybe it ought to be destroyed – well it wasn’t pretty. Much pearl-clutching and a sort of gasping fish face.

I’m probably off her Christmas card list. Darn. I probably won’t get the newsletter either. You know – “the newsletter”:

Bill is retired now and spends most of his time working on various projects [he’s seeing a 22yo stripper and just bought a cherry-red Corvette] including a new business: refurbishing old properties and reselling them! [He saw an infomercial; we’re going to lose our shirts.]
I’m busy with my charities [drinking heavily] and have started taking some gardening and self-defense classes. [Because if that bastard tries to divorce me, no one’ll ever find the body.] I help out with the new business occasionally as well. [Mostly bitching about how much money we’re losing.] It’s very interesting, working with your spouse. [I never knew how much I hated him until now.]

DarlingSon decided to take a year off college [was kicked out] and had some dealings in the chemistry and legal fields. [cooking meth in the basement; sentenced to 2yrs and probation]. He’s currently working with less-fortunate young men [has been assigned to a half-way house].

DarlingDaughter, you’ll be surprised to know, was recently married [hush-hush JP wedding] to her long-time [2 months together – a record for her] beau, and is currently spending time working in graphic arts [doing spit-and-India tattoos in the senior high lunch room] .

We’re very proud to announce that our first grandchild [not counting DD’s 6 illegitimate ones] will be making his/her appearance in early spring! I’m sure you share our joy with DD and her new hubby, William. [Spike]

The fact is, Christmas as it is celebrated now is a fairly recent amalgamation of various beliefs and rituals the ancient Church stole in order to bring in more converts. Besides which, money is king this time of year, not an ancient newborn.

I’m not Christian, though I was raised in the Protestant faith – three of them, in fact. I used to be “MethoBaptiTerian”. When we would move, Mom always took us to the closest Protestant Church.

Nowadays, I call myself a Zen-Humanist-Pagan, which is really just a name I made up to recognize that I have taken various teachings and rituals from a variety of beliefs, and combined them in a way that makes my life more meaningful. I celebrate the Solstice, but, because I have children, I choose to do some of the ‘traditional’ Christmas stuff, like putting up a tree, as well following some non-Christian traditions. (Want to scare your neighbors? Have your kids run around the backyard with (tiki) torches to ‘wake’ the sun! Let’s just say we won’t be doing that again!)

I don’t have anything against Christians, or anyone who chooses to celebrate Christmas, except when they want to force their holidays to be the only recognized holidays. The problem comes when their holidays are shoved down my throat by people who can’t even follow the precepts of their espoused religion.

I don’t want Christian symbols on government properties or in public schools or anywhere else where religion and state are traditionally separated. Not unless all religions are allowed to put their winter holiday symbols up as well.

I don’t think it’s disrespectful to say, “Happy Holidays” because it’s simply a shorter version of “I want to wish you well as you celebrate whatever holiday of whatever belief system you hold – if you hold one. Since I can’t tell what holiday you celebrate just by looking at you, I will simply express the hope your holiday season – however you celebrate it, if you celebrate it – is a joyful one.”

Let’s take on the first part of the myth: Jesus’ Holy birth – the Immaculate Conception, etc. While I’m of the belief that the man known as Jesus was a wise teacher, and that his teachings are important, his birth story is just another version of the same tale that existed long before his birth.

Mithras is the most likely source for the Virgin Birth myth, having existed at least 5 centuries prior to the birth of Christ.

From http://www.taivaansusi.net/historia/mithraism.html:

Roman Mithras was perhaps the greatest rival to early Christianity for many reasons. As well as being a popular pagan religion practised by the Roman Army, Mithraism had many similarities to Christianity. Mithras was born of a virgin, remained celibate, his worship involving baptism, the partaking of bread marked with a cross and wine as sacrificial blood, held Sundays sacred and Mithras was born on 25th of December. Mithraist called themselves ‘brother’ and were led by a priest called ‘father’ (Pater).

[snip]

These similarities frightened the early Christian leaders – that almost 500 years before arrival of Christ all of the Christian mysteries were already known. To combat this, Christian witters [sic] said that the Devil knew of the coming of Christ in advance and had imitated them before they existed in order to denigrate them. As Christianity gained strength and became the formal religion of the Roman Empire, the ‘Cult of Mithras’ was one of the first pagan cults to come under attack in the fifth century; Temples of Mithras, like most other pagan Temples, were destroyed and Churches build on them.

[snip]

According to Persian traditions, the god Mithras was actually incarnated into the human form of the Saviour expected by Zarathustra. Mithras was born of Anahita, an immaculate virgin mother once worshipped as a fertility goddess before the hierarchical reformation. Anahita was said to have conceived the Saviour from the seed of Zarathustra preserved in the waters of Lake Hamun in the Persian province of Sistan. Mithra’s ascension to heaven was said to have occurred in 208 B.C., 64 years after his birth. This birth took place in a cave or grotto, where shepherds attended him and regaled him with gifts, at the winter solstice. [all emphasis mine]

Sound familiar? As with nearly every other facet of the modern-day Christmas celebration, even the birth of Christ was appropriated from another religion.

Personally, I think all those who want to force Christmas on the rest of us should be forced to celebrate as the earliest citizens of our country did.

From Pagan Claus:

Christmas even started out controversially in North America. Reverend Rel Davis writes:

The festival of Christmas has always been a controversial one in Christianity. The Puritans banned Christmas altogether and during the Cromwellian period in England, anyone celebrating Christmas was jailed for heresy. Probably the most hated of all Puritan laws was the one abolishing Christmas and probably led to popular acceptance of royalty (nb: the Restoration) — at least the King allowed the masses to celebrate Yule!

In America, Christmas was generally outlawed until the end of the last century. In Boston, up to 1870, anyone missing work on Christmas Day would be fired. Factory owners customarily required employees to come to work at 5 a.m. on Christmas — to insure they wouldn’t have time to go to church that day. And any student who failed to go to school on December 25 would be expelled. Only the arrival of large numbers of Irish and northern European immigrants brought acceptance of Christmas in this country. [emphasis mine]

Christmas did not even begin to be a legal holiday anywhere in the United States until very late in the nineteenth century CE, with Alabama being the first state to make it so.

So, all you who want Christmas hailed all over the land…I expect you to be at work or in school on Dec. 25th. After all, that’s what the founders of our country apparently wanted.

December 10, 2006 Posted by | America, Christianity, Christmas, Family, Religion, Solstice | 2 Comments

   

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