Categories
Government Politics Religion Women

Three Wise Men?

jm_NTRCH47d.p-P1.tiffWhen I leave my house to go anywhere this holiday season, I drive by the Nativity scene set up in East Hampton. It’s the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the three wise men, a shepherd (maybe two) with some sheep, and a few other men who don’t seem to be of much use at all. Whenever I glanced over, I experienced this uneasy feeling, like I’m missing something or something is out of place. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Yesterday, I had some time, so I stopped the car to get out and think about it.

Here is what I have for you:

First, of all, if the inn keeper had been a woman, she would have brought Mary into the inn and been her midwife during delivery so all of the stress could have been avoided. There’s no way a woman would send another woman in the middle of labor to a barn. Nope. I don’t think so.

The “wise” men, had they been women, would have asked for directions, and they would have gotten there on time. Instead of bringing the most expensive gifts (which made them look like creeps), they would have brought practical things that could have been used, like a Babybjörn (that you strap to yourself and use as a harness to carry the baby), or diapers, or something of real value for a new family facing hard times.

The shepherd would have brought a blanket she’d made from the wool of the sheep she tended, realizing that since sheep actually eat things, they would cost the family money. Jeez.

So, after sixty-five years of my not questioning the Nativity scene in the least and finally coming to my senses after a year of middle-aged white men patting themselves on the back while surrounding a ridiculous excuse for a president—after they have taken something or other away from our country, including our global dignity—it has finally occurred to me that women need to step up and take charge of running things.

How could I have missed that all these years?

Merry Christmas.

Categories
Politics Religion World

Grace

imgresThose who know me well know that I’ve wanted to get a tattoo for a long time. If I were allowed to blog about fabulous daughter Sarah, I would say that she made it very clear that if I got a tattoo my motherhood status would sink to zero. Since I never wanted her to dye her hair and she hasn’t, I have steered away from the parlors that beckon.

When asked what I want to brand myself with, my answer has never wavered. The word Grace. It’s my favorite word and most elusive selfie adjective.

When someone moves with Grace, they are a joy to watch. I am athletic through DNA, but not filled with Grace in my movement. I’m more power based.

My words are occasionally eloquent, but they are never filled with Grace. They are sometimes funny, but never filled with Grace. Would it be that they were!

And, I’ve lamented for many, many years my inability to incorporate grace into my persona. My apologies are not graceful. The bottom line here is that no one would ever use Grace in their description of me.

Then yesterday, President Obama, eulogized those lost in South Carolina by explaining to ungraceful me the meaning of the word and where it comes from. That it’s not something we learn, or inherit, but that it’s something that God bestows upon us and we all have it. We just have to embrace it.

​According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not merited. It’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God.

“Oh happy day,” saith I! I have grace. And, you know, I actually can feel it. Seriously I can.

Then he sang it. Watch it here. If you can, watch his entire eulogy. Finally he emerges and leads. No anger. Clear. Hopeful. Forceful. He has Grace. Always has. And, he might just have saved a wretch like me.

Categories
Personal Essays Religion

Looking for God in All the Wrong Places

imagesI am not a God Girl by nature. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I have turned to God when planes are bouncing in the air — air that has no business carrying them — and as many others do, I have that conversation in my mind about what I am willing to do if God just gets me to the ground safely. So far, he’s kept his end of the bargain. And me? I have not.

Three years ago a friend and I were at a Barnes and Noble next to a movie theater on New Year’s Day, and we decided to each buy a Bible, with a handshake agreement to read it cover to cover over the coming year. Her husband, who only begrudgingly puts up with the two of us and our unfulfilled promises — which have included reducing our candy intake, committing to exercise regimens, expanding our intellectual horizons, and now spiritual growth — looked on in disgust. He bet us $1,000 it wouldn’t happen. Three years later, we are doubled or nothing up to $4,000.

It’s not all my fault that I haven’t finished it. It’s a terribly written book, filled with violence and cruelty, and it repeats the same stories over and over again, like one of those friends who repeats their version of the past over and over again, perhaps hoping it will make better sense the more it is told.

And The Bible is so negative. It tells us endlessly what we shouldn’t do, but everyone knows you get better results if you tell people what they should do. Seriously, this is why Oprah is always bringing experts on her show to explain the importance of positive energy. The Bible doesn’t really do that. It has great distribution channels, however, and that is how I believe it has lasted this long and stayed on the top of the best-seller list year after year, century after century. No other book has that kind of reach, and more power to the churches is all I have to say about that.

Just so you know that I’m not just an ecclesiastical idiot, I do have Bible passages that I love. Like, “To Every Time There is a Season (Ecclesiastes 3:2),” which I used to think had been written by the Byrds, who sang the Turn, Turn, Turn lyrics as if they had written them. They didn’t even give the Bible credit on the album cover. I looked. Really not okay. And the words are game-changing. It’s worth reading The Bible for that alone, or listening to the recording.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

And then there is the part about mustard seeds. (Matthew: 17 – 24) Who isn’t taken in by a teeny, tiny mustard seed, and the hope that it could be the beginning of whatever you want it to be?

So before you send me to the devil, recognize that I did find things in The Bible that meant something to me. But as a book, as a read-through, it just doesn’t have what I need. It’s too very sad.

We didn’t really go to church growing up. We had moved sixteen times by the time I was fifteen, so even when my poor mother got it together to get us to church, my business-driven father was off on the golf course or sleeping in. When I was finally confirmed in the sixth grade, the minister asked me what I thought was the most important book in the world. I straightened up, looked him in the eye, and said, “I know you want me to say The Bible, but when I told my dad this morning that it was the most important book, he said you were mistaken. He said the most important book is the checkbook. I’m going with my dad. I hope that doesn’t mean I can’t eat the thin bread thingy. I am really looking forward to that.” Let’s all agree that didn’t work out so well and move on with my story.

My mom died two years ago, and everything changed. I needed to find the answer for myself. I needed to figure it out. I knew there had to be something bigger out there. So I joined a church. Yep, a really old church on Cape Cod that my ancestors helped build and whose physical simplicity and beauty were just what I needed to quiet my soul in those tough days following her death. I went on Sundays, tried to participate in events, and contributed money and service. But the people there were sort of mean. Not all of them, but enough of them that I realized that Maya Angelou would tell me to hightail it outta there and find some people who raised me to my highest self. There is no point in going over the things those people said and did; suffice to say that if you heard them you would not question for one moment my desire to move on.

There was no where else to go. So I went inside myself. I challenged myself to find my own God. I stopped looking outside and went inside, where talking to myself is something I do without noticing. And that’s when I stopped dead in my tracks.

God is that voice inside me; that voice that sometimes screams to be heard when I would prefer to look away—and too often do just that. God is that innate sense of right and wrong that I know to be true, not because the father who worshipped the checkbook taught it to me, but because it is just so.

God is the unexplained part of me that rises above that other part of me that often prefers the easier road. That road is well traveled, but it doesn’t lead to the better future that is my quest. My hope. My belief.

God is the voice inside that sings when I do something for another and feel just plain “right,” not because of the accolades but because it just is.

And God is the grateful part of me that says I am happy to be me and not anyone else in the world.

There is optimism in me. Not a deserved optimism — there is so much of me that is not what I wish it to be — but an optimism based on hope that change can occur. It’s an optimism that just is. It stands on no solid footing. It has no real right to be there. But it’s there because God’s inside me and says it is so.

So you see, God is me. I am God. The inside of me — that unique me, unlike any other person in the universe — has to be God. How else would it all be possible? It has to be something larger than the cells that make up my body. It has to be more complex than I can explain.

So I listen to no woman’s or man’s explanation of God and what he or she wants for me. Instead, I listen to the God inside me, what I want for myself, what I believe is possible. And God’s voice is a voice that knows me better than I know myself. And oh, what a song is sung for only me to hear. It is based on the voices of those who have gone before me. It is based on setting myself apart, and living with the results of what I do. It’s based on celebrating how fabulous I actually am. It’s based on being better today than yesterday and not as good as tomorrow.

So, I can stop looking under my bed or in buildings with stunning tall steeples. I can stop looking in a book that is worth a read, but only to lend historical context to a man who lived and died telling the world that he was the son of God. Son of God—not so different from being God, really.

Categories
Politics Religion

Unfriended. Alas.

imgresI was recently unfriended by a classmate from high school. I didn’t hang out with her in high school, and I am sure we wouldn’t hang together now, but she was in my Facebook footprint because our whole class seems to be in touch with one another’s lives, and I like that.

This person was — and is today — the goody two-shoes type. You know the one. Always looked put together. Everything she posts on Facebook is filled with “God’s Blessings” and celebrations with her children and grandchildren. We see her flying in her husband’s small plane. A lot. We see pictures of her perfectly laid-out home. The good deeds she does. She is surrounded by the applause of those who read her posts, and aside from the applause and vanity posts, there is nothing of substance that she writes about. I say this because what happened between us has made me realize that it’s the choice most of us make in our Facebook life scrap books. I’m no different. We look our best. Present our best and perpetuate the lie that all of our lives are fabulous – every minute of every day. We present our best foot forward without stepping anywhere near the land mines of our lives.

I do have a friend from high school who is a real friend outside of Facebook. We hung out in high school, and while we haven’t seen each other over the years, we speak on the phone from time to time and the conversations go on for hours and they show our best and worst selves.  He shares many of my politics, but he also challenges my thinking. He is much better read than me, and smarter, probably. He certainly did better in class; I think he graduated third or fourth or something out of more than four hundred and fifty students. In the interest of full disclosure, I graduated in the lower quarter of my class. I missed not graduating by one percentage point, and my father often pointed out that I know how to ride the fine line between success and failure. My dad was a glass half-full guy. Back to what happened. My friend EJ is smart. He doesn’t filter.

A few days ago, I woke up, got some coffee and went to look at Facebook.

There was a post from HD (my unfriended past “friend”) that was a picture of a man’s silhouette on a shooting target, with a large hole over the heart, where the bullets had clearly hit their mark, and a comment (I can’t quote it exactly because I have since been banned from all things HD) that read, “50 rounds from my husband hit the mark during our concealed weaponry class. I can count on him to protect me if I need it.” I think I should mention here that her husband is a doctor, and if I’m not mistaken, he might even be a cardiologist. Ah the irony of it all.

I had a visceral reaction. Her Christian-minded posts about love and God just didn’t seem to mesh with the fact that she was saying her husband would blow out of the water anyone who threatened her. Yikes. Then I started to read through the comments, and there was EJ at 2:00 AM. I think his first post said something like, “What is the point of this?” But alas, he didn’t leave it at that, he then he went on to say he shouldn’t post in the middle of the night because he had nothing good to say. And, then he went on to say nothing good. He was sorry, but …

Then HD’s son said, “If you were really sorry you would apologize.”

As alluded to earlier, I struggle with the nice-niceness of Facebook, and how everyone only posts the fabulous things in their life or the deaths and other important losses; the day-to-day sadness, philosophical disagreements, and challenges are rarely there. I think there is room for both. But someone has to start that ball rolling. I have also recently recognized that I have a voice, and I have opinions, and that voicing those opinions is part of what matters in life as well. How you voice them matters. I have struggled of late not to care what others think, but instead to care about what I think, and how to voice it in a way that is not personal and not accusatory. It’s better than just saying, “Yay you!” or “Congrats!” or worse yet, not responding at all.

I decided to come to EJ’s aid. I said I thought his response had been made with the best of intentions, if perhaps not the best of his words. I then said something like, “I beg you to reconsider carrying a concealed weapon.” I then went on to lay out the case for why I thought it.  Then I said that one of the great things about being an American is that we can all voice our opinions and exercise our rights inside the laws of our land. I recognized her right to disagree. I also said I’d been held up at gunpoint in New York City in my early twenties, and that I never once since then wished I’d had a gun with me during the robbery. God Bless America. I thought adding the God reference might help.

I was unsettled after posting, but I also felt that EJ should not have to stand alone, and that standing your ground is not just a physical thing you do in Florida and other lawless places, but also something one has to do in conversations with “friends” on Facebook. I’m not the one who posted a man’s outline with fifty bullets through the heart — right after a post about the love of family and God. I mean, seriously.

By the end of the day, I was banned from all things HD. I received a number of private messages from mutual friends supporting me, but I have no idea where the conversation went publicly because the minute HD didn’t like what was said, she cut off the conversation, but only with me. I’m sure she leaned on the support of fellow concealed weapon carriers, but as far as EJ and I are concerned, we are out of the loop.

I laughed. At her. At myself. At my ridiculous “friends” list on Facebook, which has nothing to do with the real meaning of the word friends. And I felt it was yet another confirmation that those who choose to see things like guns only in black and white, who cannot even acknowledge another point of view, are dangerous people. I do see her right to have the gun. I did not attack her. I even acknowledged that she might have the same response to abortion were I to post something with a picture of the woman’s right to choose. Well, I think we can all agree that my efforts were in vain.

So bye-bye HD, and those around her who also unfriended me. I have a feeling you all felt that you “got me.” You did not. All you did was shut the door of conversation. You tightened the blinders under which you run your personal race on your personal race track filled with only horses that don’t challenge you at the finish line. Your loss. And my loss too, for discourse in this country is gone and we are all the worse for it. I would love to have heard why someone who seems to value life from a Bible mandate could put up that picture – that silhouette – that shadow of a nameless man who could have been Travon, or worse yet, someone I love, with the giddiness that sings of the fun surrounding it all. Convince me. Explain to me why. And that is really the sad part of this story.

Facebook’s lost potential as a place of debate, discourse, and celebration – a place of teaching and learning from others, will never be as long as the HD’s of the world unfriend the person that might have taught them something outside their own world’s view. And, HD might have given to me the same in return.

My name is Christine and I was unfriended. Alas.

And, here is EJ’s comment on my post here.

Thank you Christine for being a person of conscience. My original comment was perhaps that I thought it a monumental waste of time for people to use guns as sport. I was not raised in that sort of culture. I wrote that I had “the governor” off my personal editor when I submitted my comment in the early morning and in fact wrote what I thought. I only subsequently hesitated on the tone of my message but not the message. It escapes me frankly that educated folks, medically trained individuals in particular, find the time to own and work with guns. I find it patently absurd to even have them in a home where children might visit. You folks all know the arguments on this topic, both sides. 

So, it was never my need to have support in any argument I’ve made but I appreciate Christine’s willingness to stand apart, or in front. She always had a great mind of her own and has honed it over the years. I appreciate her inflating my academic standing while in High School as well.

Categories
History Politics Religion World

Finding Perspective.

I don’t know how to find perspective in wake of this most recent violence in Boston, just an hour from where I call home. Twelve years ago, I had perspective. I physically witnessed both planes fly into the Towers. I knew people who lost their lives. I heard first-hand personal stories from those I held dear. It was easier then. I was part of the fray, and I was honored to feel the pain from a place of true association. I was allowed to be in the inner circle of what was happening, and from that place, you have perspective. You are entitled to feelings of anger, grief, and sorrow.

But this time, it’s different. I didn’t know anyone who is in peril in a hospital anywhere. I don’t run; hell, I barely walk these days. I don’t follow marathons, nor did I know the history of the Boston Marathon until yesterday, a rich history that is now forever tainted. It’s been almost 24 hours since the bombs went off, and we have no idea who was involved. My gut — which has no right to have an opinion — says it was not international, but some messed up American person or persons who created this carnage on a local level, but will gain global notoriety because of it. But whatever comes from all this, I don’t feel I have a right to feel anything but a sense of voyeurism.

What do we do with what happened if we really have no personal association with it? A friend in Colorado sent me a picture of his snow-laden house this morning and said that more snow was on the way. I wanted to e-mail him back, “I don’t give a good God damn about snow, idiot, an eight-year-old boy was blown to bits after hugging his father who had just crossed the finish line, and you want to talk about snow? Who are you?” I have another friend who makes it all about her, even though she wasn’t there and knows no one who was affected. Perspective. Where do we Americans belong in these moments? How do we find perspective?

We are the only species that kills each other randomly for no reason. Okay, those who perpetrate these cowardly acts of terror will say there is a reason, but truth be told, there was no reason to kill that young boy, take away his sister’s limb, and put his mother in the Critical Care Unit of Mass General. No reason at all as far as I can tell. Why do we do that? What does it mean?

I search for answers at times like these, and I know that I will not find them. Gaining perspective, or finding a place to put feelings of grief, rage, and sorrow at times like these is impossible for me. Then time passes, feelings fade, and we move on with our lives with nothing much changed or gained. I have to believe there is something more here. I have to believe that we should be able to find something that helps put these kinds of events in perspective, or better yet, give us some tools to stop the next one.

I have to say that I strongly dislike (trying to keep the bad juju out of my life by using words like hate) the religious talk we hear at times like this. “God has a reason.” “At times like these, turn to God, who will give you strength and healing.” Seriously? If I were God, I’d shake my head and say, “You are on your own on this one people. Who have you become? This has nothing to do with me.” Yesterday, a dear friend of mine, with whom I share a love/hate relationship when it comes to religion and politics, said that the moral decline of the country was because families weren’t going to church. She would say that was not her point, but I would say it was. Perspective.

I want to go to sporting and other events with a song in my heart and no fear in my belly. My fabulous daughter, Sarah, graduated from Law School in Boston last year, and I wasn’t afraid for a moment. Should I have been? If she were graduating this year instead of last, would I worry whilst attending the festivities, listening to speeches designed to inspire? I think I would, and I’m sorry for those who will have to live with increased angst over the coming months and years until it all fades again with the novocaine of time.

I want to be able to put things like this into perspective. It seems like it would help me get through them. But for all my searching over the last few hours, I cannot.

Categories
Religion

When the Smoke Clears… Elect God’s Pope?

What am I looking for when the smoke clears at the Vatican today, tomorrow, next week, next year … or ever? I watched more than 100 men walk in perfect unison, hands folded in front of them as if they were gliding into submission, dressed alike in those flowing, expensive robes that hide a multitude of sins. They walked into the most stunning of chapels to vote God’s will—which, let’s face it, is most likely not their intention at all. I think they will vote based on connections and personal interests that have nothing to do with selecting a leader who will fix what is not working, but in order to support their own positions in the church, or the positions of those who stand ahead of them. Call me a cynic, but that is what we all think, isn’t it?

Okay then, let’s discuss God’s will. Huddle up Cardinals. I speak for many.

Dear Cardinals,

If there is a God, one can assume that he does not want the Catholic Church, or you representing it, or any other church for that matter, to allow his blessed children to be abused — and scarred for life — by the hand that is supposed to lead them to a greater understanding of that Godly voice inside us all. Is that a question in any of your minds sitting in the Sistine Chapel today?

You have spent thousands of years learning to hide your mistakes, your crimes, and those that should be in jail among you. You have never trusted those you lead to distinguish the difference between the men and the Word. If you did, you wouldn’t have to hide so many, many secrets. You would recognize that they will forgive you, and they will still believe because their faith in the existence of a God comes from somewhere deep inside, not because the likes of any of you prove it to them. I know this because I have many friends who are Catholics, and they believe despite you, not because of you. I wish I could believe the way they do.

I have been looking for God recently, ever since my mother died. I even joined a church in search of some answers that still haven’t come. But though I may search for answers, I do know a few things for sure.  If there is a God, you men in robes have not served him well by hiding the evil in your ranks. And if there is no God, you have failed to serve humanity well, which may be an even greater sin. What to do, what to do, you ask yourselves? And, how can she think we are all the same? I think you are all the same because not one among you stood tall and spoke publicly against what has happened amongst you. Not one really spoke to the people. None of you have had God’s voice in this scandal that has ruined so very many lives. Not one. One hundred and fifteen of you. Not one.

Take off the robes, you ridiculous excuses for leaders, and put on your Big-Boy pants, and behind those closed doors let one among you — any one — stand up and speak the truth — that you have all failed. And who among you will stand up and clean up the carnage that lies outside the chapel’s stunning mural? Who among you will rise above the lowly standard you have set and wash clean the scars of those you betrayed?

When the smoke clears, let there be a new leader, one who believes that speaking the truth that owning your mistakes is the first step toward rectifying them.

Yes, I am an angry observer of you people. I admit it. I am angry that you think you are above the law, that you will hide your retired Pope behind your walls in Rome, where he will not be held accountable for the wrongs he has perpetuated and the evil he has condoned through his silence. I believe you are a lawless nation, with rules that bend to serve those in power, and rules that shackle those who follow you. I am angry that you will go through the silly motions of your ancient rituals without a shred of intention to execute the duty before you with honest grace, integrity, and spirituality.

Perhaps worst of all is that millions — yes millions — of people believe that you are in there doing your best. Just don’t for a moment think that I am one of them. When the stupid white smoke clears, each of you will be in front of the mirror alone. Ask yourself then whether you voted for the most Godly person among you? I dare you. Or better yet, prove me wrong. I have no problem admitting it when I am wrong. I could teach you how.

Your friend,

Christine

Categories
Religion

Lent

So it’s Lent time again, and while I do not participate, I do like the idea of participating and then celebrating my accomplishment afterward. I just haven’t ever gotten it together to do it.

I have a friend who is a priest. His name is Father Rooney, and I met him at my best friend’s wedding when I was in college at the University of Nebraska. I’d just finished reading The Thorn Birds, and Father Rooney was even better looking than Richard Chamberlain, so I was determined to have his baby after consummating our love in some Nebraska hayloft. I would raise the daughter, and he would be tortured with his love for me and his child, but I would be okay in the end.

Anyway, Father Rooney and I have had a tumultuous forty-year friendship. He once told me that God put me on this earth to drive him crazy. I felt that was close enough to the sweet, savage passion I wanted, and was satisfied.

Ten years ago, Father Rooney had a bike accident involving a garbage truck, and he has never been the same since then. He was retired by the church because his ‘filter’ was gone and he had started saying things as he saw them rather than sticking to church doctrine. Frankly, I liked him a lot better that way.

Nebraska is short on priests, and one year they had him do a mass for Ash Wednesday. Apparently he got up and said that for forty years he’d diligently given up popcorn for Lent, and he still got hit by a garbage truck and what was the point of it all anyway? Why would God want us to give up something? After all, he loves us.

I think Father Rooney’s right. Supposedly the best diets are ones in which you add a healthy food like broccoli, and keep adding healthy foods until the bad foods that used to be the staple of your diet fade into the background. In the end, you are eating like a rabbit, the way you were supposed to do all along.

So I am going to participate in Lent this year. I am going to add something to my life this upcoming Lent and see how it feels. My Catholic friend is thinking of adding red wine because it’s such a good antioxidant. I told her I thought that was really a good one. God would approve. Let’s remember that Jesus felt red wine was a way to connect with him as well. Yep. It feels right. Thanks Father Rooney, for yet another life lesson.

Categories
Books Religion

Ok Victor. I Lose, You Win

So, you all remember my friends Victor and Cathryn, who live in the now-distant land of Los Angeles. Cathryn and I are best friends from long, long ago in the seventies, when we lived together in an apartment whose living room we painted Grecian Rose, which made it very Bordello-like, and we thought we were awesome. She is my cheap friend who brings fine maple syrup into IHOP, which she introduced me to when I first landed in La-La Land three years ago.

Well, Cathryn’s husband Victor is much wiser than us, but he loves us both just the way we are and puts up with our infantile approach to chocolate (i.e., eating it whenever he isn’t in the house). He also puts up with the Housewives shows that we must discuss at dinners out while he rolls his eyes in exasperation, and he puts up with our generally reckless, ridiculous behavior, which shows we are still stuck in the seventies.

Anyway, last January Cathryn and I decided to fulfill a bucket-list item and read the Bible from cover to cover. We bought identical Bibles at Barnes and Noble before seeing some movie or other. The movie was intellectually too lowbrow for Victor’s taste, but he had nothing else to do and no other friends around, so he joined us anyway. After the movie we were discussing the year of the Bible read over lunch.

Victor started it all. “You two will never read the Bible this year. It will not happen.”

“Why Victor, why ever would you say that?” I asked.

“Because you two never finish anything except a box of Ring Dings, and reading the Bible is a huge commitment to excellence and intellectual curiosity—and commitment is something that neither one of you has ever mastered.”

Ouch, Victor.

We were both outraged. Outraged, I tell you.

“Victor,” I said haughtily. “Put your big money where your big mouth is. How much?”

It’s hard to remember exactly how the conversation went, and I’m hoping that the answer was $100—but my gut tells me there was additional conversation about how if it wasn’t enough, we wouldn’t take it seriously, and so it would have to be $1,000. Actually, I know it was $1,000 but I’m hoping he doesn’t. Actually, we all know it was $1,000, and I’m screwed.

Here is the bottom line. We read the first chapter and discussed it. Genesis. VERY depressing, VERY repetitive, and filled with much more violence than I had realized. We hated it. If the truth be known, that was the last chapter I can honestly say I read. Cathryn? I can’t speak for her, but I can say with certainty that she didn’t finish the book. She would have gloated.

I have recently joined a Bible Study Group and am reading Corinthians now, and again, the writing style has no style. It’s repetitive, and let’s face it, Paul is nothing if not inconsistent. But I’m in it to win it, and still going.

Which leads me to the point. You were right, Victor, and I was wrong, and I owe you $1,000, which is a lot of money. I am writing to eat crow in front of the world and to see if you are interested in double-or-nothing for next year? If not, I will send the check, but only because I have to try to be a woman of my word—which clearly isn’t the case, or I would have finished the Bible when I said I would.

So, you interested in double-or-nothing or what?

Love,

Chris

Categories
Religion

Lent

I have a friend who is a priest. I’ve known him for thirty-five years. He had an accident a number of years ago that left him with brain damage, and he now has no filter. In other words, he says what he thinks. He’s childlike in his honesty. So to get to the point, they were desperately short of priests in Nebraska where he lives, and they asked him to do the Lent Service (it might have another name, but not being Catholic, I don’t know what that name might be). So he got up there and said something like this: “I gave up popcorn, one of my very favorite things, for Lent for thirty-five years, and look what happened to me? I had a bike accident and now I can’t do things like drive my own car. Don’t give up anything for Lent.” Needless to say, he’s no longer inspiring Catholic doctrine from the pulpit. I think he might be the best priest out there right now, but that’s another blog.

The thing is, I like Lent. I like the discipline of it. I like the shortness of it. I like the end of it. I like Lent.

But this year, my friend Cathryn, the one who carries fabulous maple syrup in her purse on the off chance she might stop into an iHop, who always gives up candy but agonizes over it each year (sorry C, but really, you always give up the same thing), asked me what I was going to give up. I started to think about it and found myself uncomfortable with the self-serving nature of giving up something for my personal benefit. Yet another holiday promoting narcissism.

I decided that I didn’t want to give up anything. A nutritionist I’m pretending to work with told me not to give up things like Diet Coke which are killing me, but rather to add things I should eat, and they will take the place of the bad things over time. It really is sort of working. So I decided to apply it to Lent too. You get the connection.

For Lent I am only saying nice things about people. No bad things about anyone. Now please don’t think I’m someone who goes around the world speaking ill of people all the time, but at work I often find myself making more negative observations about people than positive, and I feel the effects. Believe me, it’s much harder to give up words during Lent than chocolate. Until I tried to do this, I had no idea how much conversation is taken up with negative comments about others.

Maya Angelou, who as a child, stopped speaking for six years when she thought that her words had killed the man who raped her (he was beaten to death after he was released from jail), chooses her words very, very carefully. She is someone who listens well. Anyway, if you are in her home and speak ill of someone else, she asks you to leave. It appears, to judge by my Lent challenges, that I wouldn’t get past the front stoop at Maya’s house. But she also says, “I did the best I could, and when I knew better, I did better.” It’s my favorite quote. It’s like confession absolution in a sentence.

I am going to try to live my Lent commitment after Lent has finished. It really makes you think about your words. This also means that the following people will no longer appear in my blogs; Sarah Palin, George Bush (the younger one), Glenn Beck, and Hitler, to name a few.

Categories
Movies & TV Religion Women

Movie Review: Sex & the City 2

I have to start this review with the fact that everyone said not to bother seeing it; that the new Sex and the City was not as good as the first one and it’s a flop. So, after seeing it, I did go look at some of the reviews and shook my head in wonderment. If you have a man review a picture made purely for women (ok, and gay men), then you will never get an understanding of the meaning of the TV show, the first movie or this one.

I went with the my ex roommate from the 70’s, Cathryn. (You know Cathryn, the right wing, maple-syrup carrying friend.) We both roared and loved every minute. Ok, that’s a bit of a defensive exaggeration; it could have been shorter, but the truth is the film is about chicks before dicks, and there is always room in one’s heart for a chicks before dicks movie with fabulous fashion and amazingly luxurious settings.

I wouldn’t (even if I was thin enough) wear anything they showed in the film, but I loved looking at all the fashion and especially the shoes. Carrie Bradshaw is not a woman I find that attractive, but she sure does look great in clothes. And, Mr. Big? Anytime. Just say the word. When he punishes her at the end by putting a black diamond on her finger, I was in heaven. And, yes, I get that one shouldn’t expect those types of things in real life, but since when is the movie theater real life?

I have to comment on Liza. All the reviews said it was painful to watch her. Look, Liza Minnelli needs to quietly retire to her country house, wherever that might be, but the rest of that marriage scene was perfect. It was filled with understanding of the intricacies of relationships and so was the rest of the movie. And, the over the top, male chorus was so cool that I want one at my sixtieth birthday party – the one I am not having. So, leave Liza alone and understand it’s hard to walk away quietly into the night from a lifetime of public adoration. A little empathy people.

There is one thing, however, that made me uncomfortable. I was a bit disquieted about the way the Muslim women were treated by the film’s plot. I just think we need to stay away from judgement-filled presentations of the intricacies of their culture, and they need to stay away from ours.

Overall ladies, it’s a must see.

Christine’s Rating: Four popcorn boxes and one Twizzlers. My highest rating.