goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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I’ve Always Wondered

I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves.

Sort of how it feels now.

  • We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken.
  • We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there.
  • We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention.
  • We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away.
  • We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend.
  • We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know its a bad idea.
  • We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about.
  • We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it.
  • We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%.
  • We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with We The People.

I could go on and on.

So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts of how individuals live through a major crisis has given me concepts to consider.

  • The Scout motto, Be Prepared, makes sense. Have skills and equipment that will help survival opportunities improve.
    • While Preppers may have the message right, it seems difficult to store 3 or more months of food, water and other supplies.  Many of us can at least have a supply of food for two weeks in our homes. I know many people who don’t keep a “pantry” with some staples. Time to wake up, everyone. It does not take a war to have an emergency when stores will not be supplied with your favorite treats. All it takes is a storm and a loss of electricity. A highway blocked. A bridge too unsafe to cross.
    • Start thinking NOW about how you will prepare food if there is no power.
    • Make sure you also store water, toilet paper, medicines, and first aid supplies.
    • I don’t need to tell you to store your weapon and ammo, but people, remember safety especially if there are children around.
    • And, by the way, your lack of preparedness does not make killing me or anyone else to get to our food and supplies an ethical or moral right. The time to think about protecting yourself and your loved ones is now. And might does not equal right.
  • Build a network of people you can trust. These are people who have complementary skills and common goals.
    • So many people have no close friends and are estranged from their families because of emotional battles that may truly be pretty insignificant if you thought about it dispassionately. Time to try to heal those wounds.
    • While many people disdain the concept of church, it does provide for an extended “family”. If you are not involved in some kind of organization or activity with other community members, it is past time. No man is an island
  • As the Governors of several states have recently done during hurricanes, martial law most likely will be imposed.
    • Recognize that the Internet and our cell phones most likely will stop Communication will have to resort to meeting with people face to face and talking.
    • ATMs will not be accessible and banks will be closed. Money will not be the currency of trade.
    • Most likely there will be  restrictions on movement. Gas will be in short supply and expensive.

Now, I sure hope saner heads will prevail in this building concern with North Korea. We will not do well with a nuclear war.

I hope We The People have a better memory in the next election and actually participate and vote to remove Congressional representatives who fail at their job. No one should be returned to office who has not demonstrated their responsiveness to their constituents.

I hope anyone in places where there can be warning of a coming devastation like a wildfire or a hurricane can calmly and safely get their loved ones to safety. As hard as it is to lose “everything”, no matter how precious they are, they are THINGS. You can rebuild.

I hope people in places where devastation has occurred can remember they are part of the Family Of Man and will open their homes to provide shelter and sustenance to people who have lost everything.

I hope you feel compelled to speak to your morals and ethics when others are showing their fear in hatred to a minority. When we remain silent, perhaps out of fear that we will also be attacked, we condone the attack.

I hope you know first hand how cooperating with others may not bring you the riches you dream of, but allows you “enough” as well as the ability to understand we each need “enough”.

 

I pray that any loved one serving in the military comes home safe and sound, and if not, you stay patient to give them the succor they require. As difficult as it is to lose the someone you knew to a altered person, love can help bring them around. A sense of trust and safety can provide the way.

I urge you to start digging a bit deeper for information that shapes your opinions. So many of us do NOT read across the spectrum nor any news sources from overseas, but those are the only ways you can know if the information you are being fed is accurate. Also, if what you are reading is using inflammatory language, if the article tells you what to think, it is an editorial, not a news article. News articles must explain who, what, why, where and how and leave you thinking.

As for the political parties, the ONLY way we can gain change is for everyone to get involved. Simple. And please realize that the place your voice REALLY counts is on the local level. You want to see changes, get involved in your town.

 

 

 

 

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How to Say Thank You

Someone died. And I got a cornea to fix a vision problem. 

Each of us has the opportunity to think ahead to a possible situation where we might not be able to live, but can donate parts of our own bodies that can make someone else’s life better. Thinking this way does not make your death happen. It makes a precious gift happen if and when. What a legacy. Go to this website if you already do not have it marked on your driver’s license.

Years ago I lost a husband to brain cancer. At the time the shit hit the fan I was quietly told by the neuro-oncologist that we had 3-5 years. Well, he lived 10 years and the doctor really had no idea how. The last MRI, done about 18 months before his death, showed that this incurable cancer had not grown. For some reason, his brain chemistry caused it to act differently. It was that summer I decided and got things in place to donate his brain when the time came. Heading to a neurological research program, perhaps whatever he had in his brain chemistry could be identified and help someone else. I wanted to make lemonade out of the very sour lemon we had been given.

Perhaps this concept is not so hard for me because I appreciate the sentiment of Thanksgiving.  While I don’t count my blessings daily, I give thanks after we return to our driveway after a road trip, when we have a good day at the farmers’ market, when one of my kids has a wonderful achievement. Thank you. Thank you Lord. Thank you God. Thank you Man in the Moon. It doesn’t matter who receives your thanks. It’s recognition that we are not alone.  And the One who is honored hears it all.

Being part of society means I chose to be active. I offer skills and energy within my capability to issues I feel are important.  As I age perhaps the working parts are not as usable to someone else as if I had died early. But letting them harvest whatever can be used is one more way I can give back to my community. 

When we feel this connection to others, our world is safer. When we feel we can have an impact, our world works smoother.


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I Don’t (Want To) Believe It

Hello? Does anyone else besides me have an issue with the amount of lying going on in our society?  Warning you now…if you dislike the way things are you MUST start calling people out on it.  If you are one who finds it easier to “embellish” than play things straight, you need to examine WHY you are trying to hide from your reality. And then change your ways. The pain may be intense at first, but you probably will like yourself better.

Yes, many of us know Trump lies. His supporters do not see it though; they blame any complaints as a problem with the media.  They believe the media is the one lying here.

At first, I had to wonder. After all, until recently we’ve held our leaders to a high standard of truthfulness, ethical behavior and care for all the people living here. Hmmm, would it be betraying my viewpoint to now say, Three strikes Trump! No, you know who I am….why do you know that? Because you either know me personally, or you feel my writing has had a sense of honesty about it.  I am not going to pull punches now.

Now, I’m angry and I may get a bit sloppy with my writing.

This lying has reached epidemic proportions and Trump by all means is not the only one.  He has surrounded himself with people with similar lack of concern about accuracy. Joseph Otting, Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, reportedly lied when he said on his resume that he holds a degree from the School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College.  But Dartmouth does not have a school by that name nor did Otting attend and graduate with a degree in anything there. He did, however, attend a four-week seminar.  Why would anyone lie about something so easily verified? And why would they WANT to lie like that? What kind of ethical consideration did they miss that persuaded them to lie for personal gain?

This lying seems to be everywhere in our society, not only with the Trump administration and wannabes.  In April there was a report that student journalists did some research and discovered that their new principal did not have the credentials she had claimed to get the job. A climate denier finally understood he was wrong in his argument but will not make a public statement.  The scientists who reported that some GE foods could cause tumors were disputed and for years worked to prove the study was correct but there is no sharing of that news.  A woman who was head of the NAACP ended up not having any African American heritage.

Deceiving takes place all over. The Senate is discussing the new healthcare act behind closed doors. In closed session even our county commission has discussed options and conducted business that affect everyone living here. And they believe because they are the ones in power, they can get away with it.

Why is lying, this deceiving, this hiding the truth from others and even oneself so prevalent?

Psychology Today says there are two kinds of lies: white lies that we we make to maintain our social status; to preserve an image of ourselves.  A strategic lie is made by one person or group to try  to  deceive another person or group for personal gain.

When we employ a white lie we are okay up to the moment when the person lied to discovers the effort. Then the liar has to deal with the inevitable loss of status.

When someone designs for others to fail, they are into a strategic endeavor to elevate themselves by diminishing  someone else. Not only is this more serious but it then begs the question about ethics.

About six years ago I had flyers printed up at a local shop where I lived In West Virginia. I had worked with them before; they took my request over the phone and I got a quote on the job. I emailed them the file and went to pick the papers up a few days later. There was no invoice.  The guy who took my call was not there and the boss laughed, saying the guy hardly ever writes up invoices. He told me they would mail one to me. A week went by, and then another and another. A couple of weeks later I went in. There STILL was no invoice but the boss charged me what I said was the quote. He then thanked me for coming back in to pay, saying most people would not do that. I said, shrugging, “It’s really simple. I try to live by the Golden Rule…..” and he jumped in and laughed “Yeah, screw them before they screw you.” I said that it seemed that if few people were paying in this kind of situation, they must follow his version, but the one I had been taught was to treat people the way I wanted to be treated.  He laughed cynically.

Every night when my parents put me to bed I said two prayers. One was the Shema, a short and simple prayer said by Jews. (Here, oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.) And then we would say the Golden Rule. (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.)  Since attending church with Graham I hear this claimed as a major teaching by Jesus, so I expect all Christians are taught this.  Few understand that in this, as in pretty much all his teaching, Jesus was sharing Jewish concepts.

Today we have more people who are “unchurched” than attend with any regularity. However, the Baby Boomers were still part of a church going population when young for the most part.  Their estrangement from their organized religion and their avoidance of teaching their children any value of being part of a church family is a different issue. You need not believe in God let alone attend church to have good ethics and yet we tend to believe that people who identify as a practitioner of a religion have decent ethics. Or we hope so at least.

Ethics seem to not be instilled any longer. The Christian Right would say because Christ is not part of everyone’s life but I think they, as an overall group, need to clean up their own house. There are examples over and over again of condemnation of something they find offensive (pick one or more: racial equality, sexuality other than heterosexual, women who have sex outside of marriage, etc etc etc) and then discovery of one rabid preacher being found with (pick one or more: an underage girl, a teenage boy, multiple trips out of town with another woman, drug use, etc etc etc).

Ethics seem to not be instilled any longer. There is very real concern that there are multiple generations of families where public assistance is needed. Whether it is Social Security Disability and/or Section 8 housing and/or SNAP benefits, the people who control the purse strings of this nation see the problem and their solution is to stop funding programs. They seem to forget there are root causes that need attention before people can be helped, truly helped. Why do they avoid those issues? It comes down to the decision to keep some people down; the belief that truly not everyone is created equally.

Ethics seem to not be instilled any longer.  About five years ago I offered to watch a friend’s 10-year-old while she worked at times the girl was not in school. I discovered pretty quickly that she was behind grade level. I started working with her for a couple of hours, trying to bring her up to speed. One day in the car with them both I pointed at a yellow orange traffic sign and asked the girl if she could figure out why it was yellow. Not only did she not, but she started crying. And her mother yelled at me “You need to make everything a teaching moment?”  Since I treated this young girl the way I had raised my three kids, I say “YES! That is my job as a loving adult in her life. To teach her everything I possibly can to help her succeed in life.” The mom opted not to have her child stay with me (for free, by the way) any longer since I was “not fun”.  I saw a photo recently of the girl, now dressed for the prom. Gorgeous and completely inappropriate with a dress split up to within four inches of her crotch. I think that’s another one who is missing something.

But society encourages it. Most people have the tv on most hours of the day and are bombarded with an image of a life they want. Ads, of course yes, try to make us want something they promise will make life better. But also the programs watched promise if only you can do this, than all will be yours.

Most people see images of what is lauded for beauty and then feel depressed they fall short. Most people see images of new kitchens with stainless steel appliances, large closets, master “ensuite” bathrooms with separate shower stalls with rainshower heads and deep whirlpool tubs and then feel depressed when they realize they can’t afford that.  Most people watch comedy shows with a laughing soundtrack that teaches them what is supposed to be funny and then what happens is people who don’t watch tv don’t get the joke and are told them are too serious.

Most people say they are too busy to get involved in their children’s school. Most people say they are too busy or too scared or too whatever to help with some community issue, whether it is the homeless or reading to a kid in kindergarden. Most people say they are too busy to read about the issue of genetically modified foods, or why the landfill is a problem leaching pollution into the river.

Most people react in anger. Few people act to repair a problem.  Why the difference?

Why are some people able to enjoy looking beyond their own personal needs and perceive they are but a small link in the machine that is community and society. That that small link can turn a problem into a solution in progress with the companionship of similar minded people.

Why do some never see beyond themselves? Don’t they realize when they condemn how bad society has gotten that they ARE society and if they want a change, it is up to them.

Sitting back, no matter how loudly you bitch, does nothing.  They don’t want to believe that.

And I refuse to.

 

 


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We ALL Must Rise

This morning my Facebook feed is full of “He Is Risen!” I understand the ritual and passion for this Easter Sunday, but once again, I have a perspective as a Jew attending church with my husband for ten years that may never occur to most of you.

All this declaration of Christ as your Savior appears to be meaningless gibberish for most people. Something they say by rote, without thought. Like my ex-husband who wanted to eat the foods on Jewish holidays but he had no understanding of the symbolism of those foods, many people I know who profess to be Christian are walking a pathway that is full of trimmings but no substance.

I spoke of this at Christmas also. The adoration of Baby Jesus and all the promise He represented goes no further than grabbing presents from under the tree for most people.

I am NOT espousing that someone needs to be strict in their daily observation of religion…ANY religion….in order to be a good person. In fact, with ISIS attacking Muslims who do not believe as they do, with fundamentalist Christians destroying rights and freedoms in this nation, with any ultra-conservative branch of any religion, we see they have very narrow definitions of what is right. That is NOT what Christ taught.

I confuse a lot of people when I say that I am closer to Christ than they are because I practice the same religion that Jesus did.  He observed the rules better than I do but he also broke them from time to time. Most of the time, he broke social conventions and was a dissenter, attracting followers and scaring the establishment. But generally, overall, his message was one of “love one another”. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Bible Belt where I lived for over 17 years has a preponderance of Christians who believe that Christ died for their sins, that they are saved. It may be a coincidence that that section of the country overwhelmingly voted for Trump, not necessarily because they liked him, because many did not like things about him. They voted for him because he promised delivery from things they perceive as evil. I believe their training as an obedient flock for their churches lead them to have faith without using any common sense about the promises made.  But their minds, like all good sheep, are befuddled by those promises.  They have not learned the ways to solve problems. They are stuck in a rut of tradition that means there is only one right way. And that includes following the shepherd.

Why am I picking on Christians? I just came from an Easter service where the Praise Band was singing and moving. The congregation, for the most extent, clapped as requested but there was no joy, no smiles. Did the words they learned as children not reach their adult ability to analyze? Are the praises they sing empty words without their hearts.  (In order for you to understand that I feel the same way about Jewish services where everything is in Hebrew, I will let you know that my Haggadah this past Monday’s Seder had limited Hebrew. I wanted the participants at my table to understand the story and the reasoning behind the holiday. To chant in Hebrew when you memorized it as a child and have no idea what the meaning is….has NO meaning.)

People often forget this commandment to love one another applies to everyone, everywhere. Not just people you know. Not just people who live near you. Not just people who speak like you, live like you, worship like you do. All people.

When does the message hit the heart? When does it become part of the soul?  When it does, you will rise.

Walking in the spirit is a pathway by people of any or no practiced religion. It means, simply, loving your neighbor as yourself. The rest is commentary.


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Our Heart is Sick

I start my mornings, when I have time, with a cup of coffee and the Internet. First, emails. Then, Facebook. I’m sitting here today in embroidered blue jeans and my tie dyed tee with fringes on its sleeves….about as “hippie” as my attire can get, I guess.  I select something from Pandora and find my attention caught by this music.  It got me thinking.

Thinking about the way our nation, our communities were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We were as split and splintered as perhaps no other time since the Civil War. It was a time, like now, when a person’s political stance fractured families and friendships.  Even in myself, understanding the sense of patriotic pride that pushed some guys I knew to enlist and go off to what was most assuredly a blood bath, I had trouble balancing that sense of pride with the horror of what the war was doing to the people in VietNam and more importantly, the people who came back damaged by their experience.  We were cruel to our veterans who returned and many remain burnt out to this day. Others were proud of their service and resumed life. Still others were angry at the anger and so the split continued.

There has always been a crowd chanting 

and others proclaiming

We talked about a generation gap but no one really worked on healing the other divide. And so we who were teenagers when college students who were peacefully protesting were murdered have now become senior citizens. And the divide seems to be greater than ever.

When I heard the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song Ohio playing on Pandora it made me pause and I then had a very disturbing thought…and that is why I turned here to try to find a pathway through it.

Today, if we had a similar shooting by a government ordered militia of four kids on a college campus who were peacefully demonstrating would it stop the atrocity that they were protesting?

And I don’t think the answer would be yes today. Not any longer.

When a man gets dragged out of his reserved and purchased airline seat and people start posting things that are not perfect about his life as a way to discredit HIM, someone has lost their values.

When grieving parents of a fallen soldier offer the Presidential candidate a copy of the Constitution and then they are attacked for not being perfect, someone has lost their values.

When Congressional Representatives refuse to meet with their Constituents during a recess when time to schedule town halls is normal, someone has lost their values.

When there is growing evidence that our President is focused on personal gain and benefits for his peers in the uber wealthy, and his supporters criticize the messengers, someone has lost their values.

When friends stop talking to long term friends because there are differences of opinion, someone has lost their values.

My mom called the Baby Boomers the “me” generation. From her view she saw a lot of young people who wanted to break with conventional behavior and do “their own thing.” She felt this kind of individualism would move us into a broken community and while there are many benefits for people pursuing their pathway even when unconventional, there is a truism that if the focus is ONLY on the individual, the community loses.

As I drove south last week to go to the Shakespeare Festival held in Ashland, Oregon, I passed through the beautiful green fields of the Willamette Valley. One town, Junction City is a conservative stronghold in this very mixed region. At the southern edge of town in front of  a tire dealership, the owner often posts political statements. This one caught my eye and I laughed. “Snowflakes ahead” referring to the city of Eugene, a very strong liberal community.

Being called a snowflake is a trendy insult used by conservatives generally against anyone who thinks individuals have rights.  They say we are responding this way because our feelings are hurt and so they belittle us.  They don’t understand that it is not our own personal feelings that are hurt but an empathetic response for members in our community who have been hurt.  To me it implies short-term issues and perhaps a lack of intelligence. I tend to feel irritated when someone refers to me as a snowflake because I have been this way for …hmmmmm at least 5 decades that I can claim to my own thinking and reasoning.

The problem, though, is not what my cohort is called, but the fact that people prefer to demean and detract instead of trying to understand.

It gets down to core values.

If you feel people who suggest you read something and think about it makes you feel dumb, you have a self esteem problem.

If you feel people who expect women/Blacks/Latinos/LGBTQ/handicapped to have equal access and equal opportunity are causing you pain, you have a vision problem.

If you feel that there is only one way that is right, you have a navigator problem.

If you feel that people who are not wealthy are better than everyone else who then is worthless and there for you to use, you have a humanity problem.

If you feel that the homeless have done something bad and deserve their hard times, you have a cardiac illness.

As a society, as a community, we are sick and most of all, it is our heart that needs to repair.

Can we do it?

All I know is that if something horrendous like Kent State happens today, I wonder if will we react as a unified community, realizing we ALL must move off our spots to work together?

The short answer is….no. We did not act unified about Standing Rock. We did not act unified about Flint. We did not act unified about how Congress is dismantling laws that hold corporations responsible to make sure the water they spill into and the air they emit into stay clean. We have not acted unified about the idea that our government has been influenced by anther country over an election (as we have influenced countless other countries’ elections). We did band together pretty well a few weeks ago about health insurance but the power mongers are still wanting more more more and this fight is not over yet.  We have not acted united about how this President ignores rules and conventions of his office.

The longer answer is……perhaps we can. If we don’t lose our way even more first.

What do you think? Your comments show you are thinking…a very good sign.


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Better Friends

I’ll be 63 this year and so, my use of the Internet is not as vast and constant as my kids and their peers. I was introduced to the world of computers in my senior year of high school when I convinced my dad to let me skip physics and take the newly offered computer programming class. We learned WatFor, a kind of FORTRAN. Since the school had no computer, the teacher had arranged for us to use the computer lab at Rutgers. That was it, my sole education into computer language but it was enough to demystify the brave new world of cyberspace.

My kids got me to open a Facebook account and I now manage 4 other pages besides my own. They also had me open a Twitter account and I have never used it, believing that 140 characters just is NOT communication.  I recently signed up for Instagram and have received a notice that I have 17 followers but I have not posted anything. I wonder at that.

But let’s go back to Facebook since that is the bulk of my “talking” experience, beyond this and a few other blogs.

I have used Facebook to help market various activities. For example, when I lived in Huntington, West Virginia I was very much involved in the establishment of The Wild Ramp. I wrote a blog for the market and also posted on Facebook whenever I worked in the shop to inform consumers about yummies that were available.  I lot of people responded  to the things I wrote about and for The Wild Ramp. They were farmers, city dwellers, people who appreciated the effort made to grow healthy food and people who strove to improve their eating habits. The people who responded were from all walks of life and all aspects of the political spectrum.

By the time I moved to Oregon I had a lot of Facebook friends. Some in each place where I had lived: New Jersey, Connecticut, Tennessee, West Virginia, Colorado and Oregon. Many in other nations around the world. People with a myriad of educational backgrounds, living styles and financial comfort. We all had SOMETHING in common and celebrated that commonality, happy to have people to discuss things from different viewpoints.internet-friends-worldwide

But something changed when George W. Bush was running for President.  When I made a statement that I knew I could not handle the job and wanted a President who was smarter than me, a woman who had been friends for over 10 years and called me her sister, unfriended me.

It certainly got worse this election cycle. One by one most of my conservative friends chose to block me. They did not unfriend me; I know this because I received no message. I can’t say it was because they wanted to avoid confrontation; our earlier conversations included other friends of theirs who got downright rude. I was careful to post FACTS, not say anything like “you stupid idiots, why can’t you understand this?”. They said stuff like that but I didn’t.

But one woman told me that I often came across as better than them, because when they posted something I often posted something about the subject from a major and reputable news source. She said I was “preaching to them.” I countered I was sharing, just like they were. They preferred not to hear anything other than what fit their agenda, though.

So, I have fewer Facebook friends now….and the argument can be made that they were never friends but I have a problem with that.

Yes, they are not friends like someone I can trust will come help if I need a hand. But the people I have known on the Internet have often helped me through bad times with emotional support.

Yes, they are not friends like someone who has the same background as I do. Few people meet that level of requirement, and even the ones who grew up in New Jersey so we had similar factors in our formative years have different views on life.

I suggest they are different in one main regard. I believe they might not feel as sure about their concepts, their passions, their ability to explain themselves as I do and so they get angry and their word choices are full of that anger.   Perhaps my 8th grade English teacher who made us give a series of speeches did me and my classmates a wonderful service; we learned to explain ourselves to others. Maybe the skill of conversation has been lost (hey! why talk to your neighbor over the backyard fence when you can send 140 characters out into the world) and certainly the ability to present a persuasive argument was never learned by most people.anger-is-fake-power

I believe we ALL need diversity in our lives.  Different races. Different religions. Different nationalities. Different educational levels. Different IQ levels. Different physical ability levels. And yes, different political views.

However, as challenging as it is, it is discussion of those views that makes us better friends. Running away and cutting off difference of opinion results in people NOT knowing their neighbors. NOT understanding there is another way. Understanding there are other ways is not the same as changing your way, just hearing and considering.

Restricting your world to people who agree with you may be more calm, but it is not a world within reality.

Come back.  Don’t be afraid of differences. Sometimes you “score” a point. Sometimes I do. And we move to the middle. A place we all can be better friends.mahatma-gandhi-quote-the-difference-between-what-we-do-and-what-we

 


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Secular Christianity in America

Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not walking the walk. After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…..in other words, DO NOT LIE.

So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.

America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.

We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree.  We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song.  We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.

We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter.  We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.

We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday School stories they were told when they were little.  They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.

There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists.  And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white decor is not the sign of that. starbucks-xmas-cups

Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem?  I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.

Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband.  When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”

In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.

The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.

When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.

So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.

I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to walk the walk all the time.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.

In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.

However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more that I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul.   This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.

And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.

Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.

And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but can not find the love.

And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready.  Christmas is here.buddha-love