One of the shortest stops of our tour was the 30 minutes we spent at an information point along the Alaska Pipeline north of Fairbanks. This pipeline has been in operation since 1977 moving oil drilled on the North Slope above the Arctic Circle over 800 miles south to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port. Much of it is shipped onward to the west coast of the US and Canada for processing, but about 10% of the crude is refined at three small refineries in Alaska. ( https://www.akbizmag.com/industry/oil-gas/where-does-all-that-oil-go/)
The pipeline provides lots of jobs. Beyond the jobs that were available when the pipeline was being built, today, maintenance and security are directly related. In addition, trucks provide continual supply, which means supplemental employment along the highway route for stores, restaurants, lodging, and more.
While many Alaskans support increasing drilling, even inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.usnews.com/debate-club/is-it-time-to-drill-in-the-arctic-refuge/majority-of-alaskans-agree-with-drilling-in-anwr), most support relates to the income from the pipeline. Now with the Russian oil no longer being imported, the cry from people throughout the nation to increase drilling production is gaining noise and increasing the flow of oil from the North Slope seems to be the answer of choice by many people. However, the best industry projections indicate that additional Alaska crude would have a minimal potential of reducing gasoline prices at the pump. Environmental concerns are brushed away by indicating the care already taken elsewhere on the North Slope. However, environmental concerns are expressed by others to specify that the Refuge is the home for huge herds and sustains the indigenous population. Introducing intense industrial activity will disrupt all of that. (https://www.wilderness.org/wild-places/alaska/oil-drilling-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge) We see here the age-old decision-making process about the value of resources and who has the power to influence any changes.
I just filled up my gas tank and while I was not pleased to see the cost was over $45, I drive a Prius that gets about 50mpg and I will not gas up again for several weeks. I made my choice several car purchases ago. Even a decade ago, the writing was clearly on the wall that our environmental costs were going to kill us all, sooner or later. As long as we keep acting like we need to use up the earth and all its resources, I suppose we will….and the challenge will come sooner for our grandchildren than we hope.
Today, as Graham and I celebrate our 14th anniversary, I ponder the pathways of my relationships. I happily acknowledge that some in my age range are well into 40 or more years of marriage. While I have never experienced this kind of “growing old together” relationship, I have learned a few things.
A lasting relationship is based on respect. I once was married to a man who said things like “There are two kinds of people: math and science people and English and history people. Math and science people are smarter.” and ten minutes later, “Will you please help me write my report?” And ten minutes later, “I hate to write complete sentences. That is so dumb!” I can laugh now, but you who live with someone like this are not laughing. You know.
A lasting relationship is based on some overlap of interests. I learned to cook from my mom and, as soon as they could sit steadily, I positioned my babies on my kitchen counter to participate. Being married to another person who enjoys cooking has given us a common area to explore. If we have a dinner party, we split the workload. If we want to have a fun project, we explore a cuisine we have never attempted before. And, in a day-in-day-out lifestyle, it means the humdrum duty of the family’s meal prep can be shared with no one person burdened day after day to come up with appetizing temptation for all. That sharing of duties, in itself, can save a marriage. And while your partner may not fully understand you, having common interests and activities build other pathways to closeness.
A lasting relationship is based on the knowledge that lust is not the same as love. We crave intimacy. We need touch. We sometimes confuse a satisfactory “itch-scratching session” with another person as a deep emotional bond. Sometimes we rinse and repeat for years before we might swear off sex because it has failed to be THE way to know who to trust. That’s also not a way to find love. It was the long distance of 350 miles that required me to build intimacy with Graham by sharing thoughts, hopes, and dreams; physical touch was of course not possible. It seems to me that most relationships build with talk until we get comfortable enough to move to physical intimacy, but many never take the time to build that emotional intimacy further.
A lasting relationship is based on giving each other space and allowance to improve personal goals. I once was married to an abuser. The short leash was one of the issues that burned hot and made me very aware that the man was an unhealthy partner. I became aware of how important it was to have my own time and space to work on my own interests. A healthy relationship is one where the desire to share time together is balanced with personal time.
A lasting relationship is based on the understanding that each person will always try to bring positives to the relationship. In the human condition, it is reasonable to expect some days don’t go so well. The way each person deals with stressful issues can affect relationships even when the partner has nothing to do with the problem. When one person flows into an emotional whirlwind and only emotes anger or silence, the relationship is in trouble. The other person is buffeted by a storm of emotion and yet, any offer of an ear and an effort to listen tends to diminish over time when that emotional assault is not balanced. Learning to communicate calmly in a time of high emotion is almost impossible. Know when to call for a personal time out and expect your partner to respect that, but get back to the issue. Something swept under the rug and never discussed ends up becoming a mountain that you will trip on again and again.
A lasting relationship is based on wanting a lasting relationship. Bring the best YOU to the relationship. Know what you need and know what you can provide. Talk about that. After failed marriages, I asked Graham “What kind of husband will you be? What kinds of responsibilities will you assume? What kind of time will you give me to nurture our relationship? And then, I asked him what he expected his wife to do and be. He was surprised but then he realized that in failing to think this way before, he also had not discussed with that prior partner what the hopes and expectations were. He understood that while the pathway may not be smooth, at least a basic agreement of roles and responsibilities helps sets some kind of guidelines.
A lasting relationship is based on recognizing that your partner is flawed. No one, even me myself and I, is perfect. After my first two marriages, I recognized I had to do better identifying and analyzing those personality traits of my partner that might irritate me. Sure enough, it does not eliminate my feeling of annoyance, but it does wake me up to the realization that I had recognized and analyzed it and decided it was not “too big a deal.” So, it is not fair for me to pitch a fit at this late date. There are ways to present a way to help reduce any irritant, of course. Knowing how to talk calmly about sensitive issues is so helpful.
So, here we are at FOURTEEN. For me, I am close to my 17 with a prior husband, but there it was 7 good years and 10 dying with cancer years, so in a way, I am “ahead” at this point. I like to also think I am “ahead” with the way Graham and I have learned to talk about uncomfortable things and while there will always be “something”, I do have high confidence that we will continue to walk together in a lasting relationship.
We are all guilty. Right now it is so easy for me to look at YOUR behavior, your opinions, and know how you need to change your ways. I suspect you have the same thoughts about me.
I read articles bashing Trump and the people who followed him. And the ones who STILL are supporting him. There are two things here.
NUMBER ONE: I know I was not the only person who had observed Trump’s behavior as a real estate developer and reported he is a flawed business person very early in the 2016 campaign process. If one reason people were going to support him was that he flashed a lot of gold and said he was successful, lots of other people pointed out the bankruptcies and sleazy practices of not paying subcontractors, causing small businesses to fail. The choices made during site selections in his business gave a view to how he feels unconcerned about people and how his actions affect them. We knew Trump without even studying him deeply. We warned you. You had already stopped listening…and analyzing. You made excuses. They didn’t make sense then (My favorite is “They were business bankruptcies, not personal ones.”) You chose this. You own it. You now are dealing with it in ways I can’t even imagine.
NUMBER TWO: As long as we see that arrested white demonstrators and rioters are treated significantly differently from demonstrators in BLM actions last summer, we understand there is a long road ahead of us. We are beginning to hear words of apology and something else. I don’t know, it may be my ears as well as their words, but the message is just not contrition. Claiming to have been conned will, at best, provide the grounds to recognize these people are not capable of analytical thought and should be removed from ANY and ALL leadership positions. Special educational sessions, call them civics, call them therapy, seem to be needed.
In other places and times, including now and here on Earth, there are camps that have been set up to “retrain” people who “need” retraining. These are prisons. Not what I am talking about.
We have lost our sense of community. I hate saying Mom may have been right when she moaned in the 1970s “This ‘Do Your Own Thing’ movement is going to bite us someday” but Mom, I’m ready to concede that one to you. We broke some of the social conventions in the 1960s and we still have many more to free, but what has resulted is a cacophony to many.
Instead of hearing all the beautiful individual voices of any given group, many hear the overstimulation of too much choice. Their longing for the “good old days” simply means that recognition of so much new stuff to learn is hard and they are being stubborn. (Sorry. Just think back to how many hours kids would be able to play if they did not fight the concept of getting homework done first and you’ll get the point.)
Back in the days when I was walking grocery store aisles, it was often fun to see someone staring at the shelves, trying to decide which of the many options was the exact right one to provide that perfect taste note for them. My wicked side usually would offer a wide arm sweep as a suggestion, but choice, as delightful as it can be, is really really hard for some people. Just the act of CHOSING results in stress.
So, to make that one choice, many people lock down hard. And refuse to go back to the grocery store to try another brand when they find a sour taste in their mouth. Oh, they often forget to read the label, too, to check for ingredients that may not sit well in their gut.
Since the political turmoil ratcheted up during Obama’s tenure as President, I have often wondered how we would function if all political parties were disbanded. All of our voter registrations become “unaffiliated”. Campaigning is limited to a period of time of 6 weeks before each election day. Primaries are coordinated to be held one day nationally. Campaign spending is limited to $10,000 for localities, $50,000 for state races and $5 million for national races. That’s it. Chose your marketing carefully.
Let them tell us who they are in 6 weeks. Clearly. Answering questions until those questions stop because people feel they finally heard what they needed to. Include fact-checkers that have been accepted by all BEFORE it all begins. If someone is found to be lying, they get a warning. The second time, they lose 10 percentage points in the voting. Hahaha, I doubt that can happen, but it will be what hurts them, isn’t it? What do you think? Convince me: yes or no?
We are seeing posturing in Congress to protect re-election options. Those people are not serving their constituents. They are serving themselves. I have mixed feelings about term limits because some serving do seem capable of staying on their message long-term. Bernie is one example. West Virginia loved their Byrd. Understanding that there are certain benefits to congressional reps building relationships with other people across the country or, ever hopefully, across the aisle, we need to permit them some bit of time more than the minimum of two years. Why not a two-term limit for each house? Convince me: yes or no?
I’m having trouble writing in a calm tone today…there are just so many things going on that are hollering for something better.
The son of a friend, a chef in his 30s with a young son and loving wife, in good health, died suddenly at home this week.
The niece of a friend, together with 2 other high school friends, went for a ride together and all are now dead, thrown from the vehicle despite seatbelts.
The President is taken to Walter Reed Hospital because of a positive COVID infection and now, a few days later, says he is feeling better and planning to return to the White House. No one has said he is testing negative, of course. Everyone understands that this is way too early in the illness for him to be “better” but no one is adult enough to contradict him and order him back to bed. It’s gotten to a point that nothing that is announced from the White House can be considered truthful and reliable.
The desire for making a personal choice the highest rule of the land seems to stop people from noticing the strong correlation between unmasked events and infection outbreaks. Can you say Spring Break? How about Sturgis? And one recent superspreader event, the Rose Garden announcement? Can you notice people not thinking?
A candidate in a local election against an incumbent who has provided good service has been identified as an enforcer for compliance with rules of the Church of Scientology. Can she even serve equitably when so few are in agreement with her church policies? What is her real reason for running?
Another candidate for public office campaigned really hard to fight for a DEQ air quality sensor here in our city because perhaps someday there might be a reason to expand to automobile emission testing. So, during our wildfire season we have no way to know our local air quality, but must extrapolate the data from sensors 25-40 miles away. This man is proud of the way he “protected” us from maybe fees in the future and sees no reason why anyone needs to know if the air is unsafe.
Some people on various Facebook pages dedicated to food processing don’t even read any recipes when they start putting food into jars. The questions indicate a complete lack of any understanding about the food safety requirements.
A lot of people on freeze-drying Facebook group pages are thrilled about the candy they are processing, saying they eat it as fast as they preserve it because it tastes so good.
I can’t help but notice on trash day that my neighbors have a lot of take-out boxes and piles of plastic overflowing their large bin. I wish I could help them reduce their monthly bill to Recology by teaching them how to sort their trash at the very least and then to refuse all the single-use plastic next.
Recent surveys of the US population reveal that about a third of people are tuned into Qanon and hoping that yes, we will be rescued by aliens and all will be announced in October, no, wait, now the big reveal is in March. Stay tuned, obviously.
Other surveys of the American population disclose that about half are now drinking or drugging daily. As personal ownership of weapons rises, most new gunowners are not taking any safety instructions, and assaults at home are rising.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering why we are even trying to maintain a “normal” educational curriculum right now. This is the time to introduce Life 101 to include lessons on growing food, cooking and preserving; on sewing and ironing and doing laundry; on car maintenance; on household maintenance; on general small electrical repairs; on art and music and dance. This is the time for those of us close to the coast to teach about tides and sealife, including time for beach cleanup and plastic trash collection. Others can do to nearby rivers and streams and learn about the difference in those ecosystems. This is the time for matching older teenagers with adults who are working in a field that the youngster has expressed interest.
This is also the time for a huge survey of homes here in our town to identify which are not fully occupied. Those homes occupied by one or two elderly people who no longer can easily do the maintenance required may benefit from a match with a younger person or couple who can rent a room and provide some younger energy for daily life. Those homes that are sitting vacant may be able to be added to a housing program for people who currently can not afford to pay for indoor housing.
This is also the time for neighbors to join together to plan their 2021 gardens, so participating families can grow different foods to share with all in their circle. This is the time to arrange for seeds and jars and lids before the seasonal requirements run the stores empty.
We can’t sit in the doldrums. We have too much good work to do to help raise everyone.
It really is up to each one of us. We get the government we help put into office.
If we sit back and just armchair quarterback and never take action, we then get the government others helped put into office.
Simple as that.
So, it is hard emotionally to ask people to think, especially now when so much is hitting us that is uncomfortable. How many people are medicating more now than ever before to try to dull down the input? Unfortunately, it also dulls your thinking process and may make you sluggish. Apathy has long been with us but ennui has now raised its head as well.
Our McMinnville city and Yamhill county races are nonpartisan which means it really does not matter what party affiliation a candidate has. They are SUPPOSED TO represent all of us. Decisions are supposed to be what is good for the area, for the region, nor for one set of constituents.
In order to maintain that attitude, we need people to stand up and participate.
And that means more than voting, although when our system is so easy, it is hard to understand why our voting is often lower than expected. Apathy again.
But true participation needs a bit more of your energy. Sign petitions to help candidates enter the races. If you are tired of seeing old white men, realize that others are trying to join in and participate…help them by signing petition so our elections are meaningful by supporting that all people can be candidates.
I admit it. There have been times in the past when I looked at my ballot and realized I had NO idea about the candidate. I had not read anything about that person nor the one running opposite. How was I to choose?
How about you?
Do you just vote for a name just because it is familiar? It’s familiar because of massive advertising, perhaps. The issue of money in campaign marketing and how elections have changed significantly since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision comes up each cycle, but when money from outside the state is injected into local elections, the issue becomes of even greater concern. Do we want people who live in another place in the world influencing our life in small rural towns?
Suppose you see some tv personality is running for office? We have a number of politicians who achieved popular appeal because they were in your face daily or weekly or at the box office. You are comfortable with them; after all, you invited them into your home on a regular basis as an entertainer. At what point do you begin to think that entertainment equals competency in other areas? Can you even speak about that candidate’s stand on issues?
Some of these people have had a surprising ability to be thoughtful and careful in their representation of the people who elected them. Unfortunately, most of the others just continue on their way without much effort at learning things that were outside their scope of experience. We can easily name several of these in both political parties. And you voted for them? Because you saw them on tv? Really?
We have a new face on the local political scene. She is presenting herself to the public as a candidate for mayor and has been doing an amazing job marketing herself on social media with lots of posts, mainly supporting local restaurants and shops around town. She also started presenting the state’s daily infection report and very mixed messages about compliance with the governor’s mask-wearing order. Her following is growing. Comments are glowing, lauding her for being “fantastic”. But there is no direction being given. And no one says specifically what is so “fantastic” about her other than she volunteered to pick up trash, as many others do in Mac.
She has recently offered a survey with restricted choices to see what people’s attitudes are about “bullying”, possibly because she is beginning to feel “bullied”. Most people will feel the survey is great, but the survey is poorly designed and does not offer a full range of responses nor permit any comments from anyone.
And no solutions offered But that is not even the most important thing people need to recognize this coming campaign.
Between the pandemic and the civil rights demonstrations, many of us recognize that there are things that MUST be fixed, such as equal access to affordable health care as well as equal access to affordable housing. And yet, a whole segment of this city feels anyone who is needy is flawed, but NIMBY is just not going to be a viable option any longer. (Even the current administration recognizes that as bankruptcies and foreclosures occur, the number of people who will become houseless will be rising over 45% next year. Abd the current administration, being who is in charge, is doing nothing to prepare for that.) This coming influx was not caused by anything any government official did either here in McMinnville, Yamhill County, nor the state of Oregon. We need leadership to help us come together to help our neighbors.
In the coming months, we have a real choice, people. We can continue narrowing what is acceptable and end up with a community that has chosen to fail.
Or we can stop right now and agree there are times like now, in the midst of several crises, that we MUST pull together to survive.
What are we waiting for? Your action is needed. Your vote counts.
Growing up in the Garden State did not provide any automatic skill set (I still do not have green thumbs) nor an ongoing strong dedication to getting my hands into the dirt. Like most of you, I was trained to obtain my food at the supermarket with periodic fun excursions to pick-your-own farms and farm stands.
When I became involved with the farm-to-table movement and the group establishing The Wild Ramp in Huntington, West Virginia, I was often the butt of my own joke. Yes, I bought some muck boots after I ended up mid-calf in mud and “stuff”. My first farm visit to a cattle ranch was filled with questions: please explain the issue of grass-fed versus corn fed and why are Angus preferred? Many questions.
One thing I learned is that our market, being at the corner of three states, required the ranchers located in the adjacent states of Ohio and Kentucky to take their meat animals to a USDA approved slaughterhouse for processing before the meat would be permitted to cross state lines. The West Virginia farmers could bring their meat animals to a state-approved slaughterhouse. This resulted in more time spent traveling for the out-of-state farmers, since there are fewer USDA approved firms, and they typically have higher fees. So, a shopper at our market could compare West Virginia beef and Kentucky beef and the same cut would be less expensive from the West Virginia farmer.
USDA recently approved faster speeds on meat processing lines.
So, now we have this novel coronavirus and we have learned that some of the USDA meatpacking plants are locations of high infection. Changes to the set up in those plants have resulted in lower processing rates and now, there is a problem that the ranchers may not be able to get an appointment time for their animals, and some are being forced to destroy those animals.
That loss is horrible and puts stress on the workers, ends up with the unnecessary loss of life, and the loss of income to farmers who already are among the lowest-paid workers in this country.
There is a third butchering option available. It is called custom butchering and is the way used when a customer pre-purchases a share of the animal, either half or whole and we have even seen cattle offered by fourths to help reduce personal budget and space requirements. In those situations, the custom butcher processes and packages the meat with “not for sale” labels. They are not to be sold as individual pieces, which is the way most people purchase meat at the supermarket. The farmer basically pre-sells the meat while it is on the hoof, knows that there are customers and no food will go to waste.
There are many farmers nearby who offer meat to the market. You can build a relationship with your farmer at a local farmers market and you can check out the resource of the Local Harvest website. By entering your location, the database will provide you with all kinds of local food opportunities including markets, farm stands, pick-you-owns, and yes, the list also provides what farmers grow what so you can contact them directly.
For example, there are several farmers in the McMinnville area who sell meat by the piece in their farm store. Eola Crest Cattle’s 71x farm store is located at 7140 Booth Bend Road, McMinnville. Kookoolan Farms is located at 15713 Highway 47 just south of Yamhill. Please use the links to read what they offer.
Meat prices are expected to rise as a result. So, your choices include:
Modify your diet so that you can still provide the protein your body needs but reduce the AMOUNT you eat. We tend to eat larger portions of meat than our body actually requires. Here is a link to a site that helps you calculate your protein requirement. Once you know how you can safely reduce you can start making some meatless meals as well as recipes that use smaller pieces of meat but provides lots of flavor, perhaps a stir fry.
Protein is available from plants, also. Here is an article that explains the benefits of these sources.
If your meat and potato lover will not bend, then perhaps you should consider that third option, buying a share of an animal that is raised on a local farm. If you can’t afford the layout of the money (usually 3 payments: 1-reserve the animal with usually at least $100 which goes to any care it needs, 2-hanging weight to the farmer, and 3-butchering fee to the processor.) All in all, we get meat for a lot less money this way than paying retail, BUT you must pay it in those larger amounts, so it takes budgeting and planning that is different from your typical meat buying.
Support the effort to permit custom butchered meats to be sold by the piece. That will bring the price down to the supermarket level (or lower) and the ability to purchase individual cuts will also increase marketability for the farmers.
By the way, one other advantage of buying your meat locally direct from the farmer: it tastes amazing. You can learn what it was fed and it is surprising how that affects flavor as much as it does. And, also important, if you spend money buying food from a local farm, your money stays in the local economy. We need to be thinking and acting that way now even more than ever before.
I think ALL of us can agree on one thing: our American society is sick right now. So much finger pointing is going on about the causes, but there are some truths that can’t be ignored.
One is on male anger: our young boys are taught to “man up”, to suppress their natural dismay and fear and unhappiness and learn to be stoic. And the hurts build up until it festers. Some people turn inward and we have a lot of teen depression and anxiety. Others, unfortunately, turn outwards and access a way to strike out. Such are mass murderers nurtured…..and it is all of us who parented that one. Because we are part of the society that encourages this way of raising boys. Today there was another shooting in Texas with 5 dead and 21 injured..and it was a young white male who is the (now dead) suspected perp.
The other is white male privilege. I read an opinion piece I urge you to read. It’s long and you might want to close it down. I urge you, instead, to read it in bits. Take it in. Share it. It may not resonate with you but when I read it, I had a few insights of enlightenment. Perhaps you can, too.
It is apparent to anyone who is not a white male that the white guys have access to many things that people of color and women generally have to work harder to achieve. And we know pay scales are different. We know perception of why people act the way they do is different based on color and gender. This article develops the historic reasons why.
The ONLY time I ever was close to a position that the white males of the USA enjoy was the summer of 1972 when I went to Israel. It took a few weeks there when it hit me: most people around me were Jewish. It was the first time in my life that I was in the majority. I was no longer an “other”.
While I had entered the identifiable group, I was only on the fringe because I did not have the language nor a lot of the modern cultural knowledge, but, once learned, I would be there. I propose to you to consider the experience you had when you visited the country where your family’s heritage is based. You may not been able to speak (fluently) in that language and you would not know the day-to-day societal norms, but you could learn them if you immersed. If you have never gone to the “old country” nor ever really learned any ethic cooking, dances, or stories, if your family has lost its cultural heritage and you just “know” you are part Irish, for example, you probably will not be able to access this point of insight. It is NOT the feeling you get when you are on your 5th green beer on St. Patrick’s Day and just looovveeee everyone in the bar.
That feeling of “belonging” to a group that is in the majority and has a strong voice in the society gave me a sense of calm……and I had not recognized prior that I was otherwise anxious. That anxiety increased greatly when I lived in the Bible Belt and was very definitely an “other” much more than when I grew up in the ethically and culturally diverse New York metropolitan area.
So, without even going into the God-given rights as discussed in Christianity and the Cult of Trump, I could see that white men subconsciously feel safe. Since they have been the predominate group, they have the power. And when I felt for the experience I had, the feeling of being IN the group in Israel, I could finally grasp just what white male privilege is.
Part of the pushback by angry white men MIGHT be because it sounds like they are being considered “inferior” because of skin color and that is an impossibly hard concept to swallow (and yes, ironic as hell). No, it’s not your skin color……it is your attitude. But your skin color gave you access and so your attitude is that everyone has equal access, which is not true. Once you wake up to the difference, we can begin the job of healing this society.
The second insight I received reading this article was related to religion. As you know, I am Jewish but married to a Christian. For twelve years I have been attending church with him, learning about the stories and practices of this faith. And what I have learned has taught me that Jesus was all about teaching love by actions. He tried to simplify things, since people then like people now seem to have issues with reading long and deep. He acknowledged the Ten Commandments but basically said it comes down to treating others the way you want to be treated. That really should be simple enough for people to understand….but it is not.
I told my husband I would go to church with him but only as long as people respected me. His answer, “If they don’t, we’re in the wrong place.” So I was embraced by people at Ascension & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Pueblo, Colorado for my introduction. The people at Huntington, West Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church asked especially for me to participate in study groups because my point of view would be different and would lead to more interesting discussion. Now in McMinnville, Oregon at McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, a blended Lutheran-Methodist church, I am participating in actions to help the community and even though I am not baptized, I am recognized as a full member of the congregation.
Simply, the exposure I have had to Christianity has lead me to understand that we are all imperfect but should be striving to BE LIKE JESUS.
In contrast, the Christianity I saw on full display living in the Bible Belt was, for the most part, significantly different. When I first moved to Nashville in 1975 I was greeted “Hello! Welcome to Nashville! What church do you belong to?” in one continuous breath. Sunday mornings were the best time to go grocery shopping (except the beer was inaccessible until noon, not a big problem for me.) because people either were in church or sleeping in; basically not going out in public if not at church so not to be identified as “one of those”. It also was when I learned not to expect to schedule anything on Wednesday night, as many had midweek church suppers at the very least.
So, if they were so tuned into church life, why was there so much anger towards “others”?
I worked for 18 months (way too long) in an office in Vanderbilt Medical Center where the electronic medical equipment was repaired and kept running at peak efficiency. The assistant director was a guy in his late 30s who proudly told me he was an elder in his church. He also told me that all the other people who thought they were Christian were not. He belonged to the XYZ Christian Church and others went to Southern Baptist or Church of Christ or some other denomination without “Christian” in their name. Ergo, they were not Christian. He said all this with a straight face.
This same guy stumbled into work bleary-eyed one morning shortly after his second child had been born. I asked if the baby had kept him up. No, it was another problem. At his church. Apparently, one of the Sunday School teacher positions had to be filled and the congregation had been asked for volunteers. Two men had offered but they just could not be considered. Why? He was hesitant to speak it….I wondered if he knew his indoctrination was not quite right and that caused him distress? He finally said that the two guys were “a couple.” I responded with “What’s the problem?” He was shocked I didn’t automatically “get it” and asked “Would you want one of THEM teaching your kids?” I kept calm and asked him if the Sunday School has a curriculum that the teachers use to teach the religious training they want the kids to get. Yes. I asked if any of the curriculum included getting naked and touching each other. NO!!! “Well, then,” I repeated, “what’s the problem?” He stomped away in frustration. (I seriously hated using that argument because it feeds the convoluted concept that homosexuals are pedophiles even as we hear at LEAST once a month about some ordained Christian minister being caught in incest or some other inappropriate act with a minor. And THAT gets no discussion so it really is a GREAT example of white male privilege.)
The next morning the boss stumbled in again and I played coy and again asked if the baby was ok. Yes,….it was “the other thing.” Turned out, after kids were asleep and his wife also and he was just drifting off he clearly heard a deep resonant voice (James Earl Jones?) “Love your brother!” And a few seconds later, it was repeated, “Love your brother!” I asked him if God had ever talked to him before and he slowly said ” noooo”. So then I told him the message was pretty clear…..and was he going to approve hiring the two volunteers for the teaching spot. He didn’t want to. So, I pushed a bit, “But God told you to LOVE YOUR BROTHER and I think God would be okay if you just let him teach the class.”
I have no idea what eventually happened there. I would prefer to think that those guys found a better church family, one that could respect and love them as Christ taught. (Is it considered teaching if teh lesson is not learned?) But this was only one of many many incidents related to the need to make everyone believe the same that I experienced and for many, I was the one they were trying to change.
These experiences, when compared to the ones I have had at the churches where I attended, have been significantly different and when Miguel A. De La Torre wrote in his essay Christianity and the Cult of Trump, he mentioned that Christianity as practiced in the South IS different from Christianity practiced elsewhere in the USA.
I want to interject that I know there are “liberal” churches in the South, just as there are “conservative” churches throughout the country. In the 21 years that I lived in Tennessee I had five active Christian friends who walked the walk and loved me as I am with no “need” to fix me. And I have also met others in other areas of the country who very much want to “save” me.
The point Mr.De La Torre wrote and I sensed is that when a culture has a majority population with a similar mindset, it influences the mores of the area. So, with a pervasive attitude in the Bible Belt that the fundamentalist spin is the ONLY right way to Christ, it makes everyone else an “other”. That means the unchurched, the nonChristians, and so many others need to be fixed or made to leave.
I very much felt like an “Other” in the South and there are a few people around me that may try also. Because white men essentially run this nation and the conservative Christian church has learned how to make their voice heard, we are all immersed in this struggle. The first step is to stop denying it.
Seven years ago, about a year before we planned to move from West Virginia to Oregon, I got deeply involved in helping establish The Wild Ramp, an indoor year-round local food market. Among other things, I visited the farms and other food producers basically to get their stories to tell consumers, but also to verify that they were raising or producing the yummies they brought to sell at the store.
For a person who grew up in the paved part of the Garden State and one who earned a degree in urban planning, finding myself knee deep in mud was one of my earliest experiences and I immediately bought muck boots for later farm visits. I am a quick learner…at least in some issues.
I believe the first farmer’s patience with me and my questions helped establish my process: I spent an hour asking questions sitting usually at the kitchen table, and only then did we walk the farm and I got to see and take photos.
Because I knew next to NOTHING about farming (other than going with my grandpa into his chicken coop when I was 3-years-old was a terrifying experience which he sure could have made easier!) I asked tons of questions. I may not know a lot but I am curious.
“What’s the issue about corn fed versus grass fed” was a question. “What kind of cows are these?” was another. (The answer to that was also enlightening: “Well, ” the farmer slowly answered, “they’re black. Angus are black, so I guess we can say they are Angus.” And my response: “So ARE they Angus, or are you riding a marketing message?” was answered with a smile.
So I learned something there and I later learned that perhaps it is not always just the breed but also the diet that helps make some meat tastier than others.
The point is, I was not afraid to appear that I did not “KNOW”. In other words, it was okay for them to figure I was ignorant and it was their job to teach me. And almost all of the 70 farmers and food producers I visited were happy to give me the two precious hours of their work day. The later sales jump after the blog was written and read by the consumers was worth the work interruption.
So last night I again watched the debates. And I will watch the 2nd debate with the rest of the Democratic candidates tonight. WHY?
Because I am not going to rely on what news organizations chose to tell me. I am not going to read my Facebook friends’ comments as a basis for my own decision-making. I do find comments by people I know and even people I have no idea what their background basis is for their comment. This is our reality: people have various levels of evaluation tools and their decision making may or may not be similar to mine.
When I read restaurant reviews when I am searching for a place to eat in a location I have not fully explored, I have no idea if those reviewers’ taste buds are similar to mine. I have no idea if they value food without additives, as I do. Same kind of issue when I hear how people love or pan a movie. How can I know if any person making a comment is aligned with my values on what entertains me?
Even more important is the much more rigorous and important evaluation for the next President of the United States. A crummy meal or movie may, at worse, provide a wasted couple of hours or a tummy ache, but typically not more than that. Playing passive on the evaluation of candidates can provide for poor leadership that will affect me…and you…and the world.
So, it’s all theater. I made a comment on Facebook as the debate started that the narrator sounded like he was introducing a sport event. But this is NOT the time we chose one winner and all the rest are losers.
Source: Apple Podcasts
Each person standing on that podium last night had something that was important to be heard. Each one. How would you know if you don’t put your own mind to work?
Do I think they are all equivalently experienced for the job of President. Hell no! But they have their viewpoint and it may overlap someone else’s, including your own.
Let’s be careful not to throw support to one candidate so early that we don’t listen. Let’s be careful to listen and evaluate how we feel about the various solutions to issues posed.
And let’s remember that the way the government is working now will not change much without some huge changes that are, unfortunately, needed to be made by the people who currently would not want them changed. For example, we have clearly seen the damage to the election process that the Supreme Court decision about Citizens United caused. By permitting money to be equivalent to free speech, and corporations defined as “people”, we have seen that our government is now being controlled by megawealthy corporations and people. Very few people. And the rest of us, working (or not) to make the changes have a tough uphill battle. How can that be changed to give the governing of this nation back to the people? Listen to how the candidates suggest changes and see if they align with you.
Source: UMass Dartmouth
Above all, quit sitting back and only using your voice to armchair quarterback. Get out there. Locally, you can have some huge influence in the way your city or county runs. On the national level, if you like a candidate, get involved. Give an hour a week…..that certainly is not too much of a drain when you think of what gets decided that will affect you.
Growing up in the New York metropolitan area provided an introduction to the diversity of the world. It seemed, at least from my juvenile perspective, that people just sort of understood there were differences, but no one was pushing their way as the only way.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
In elementary school we all decided the Protestant kids had the easiest time of it. While the Catholic kids left school early on Wednesday to take a bus to Catechism downtown, and we Jewish kids were taken by our parents to once a week Hebrew School, the other kids just sort of grinned and enjoyed their week day freedom after school.
I moved to Nashville in 1975. This is the buckle of the Bible Belt and it was a cultural shock to me in many ways. Besides learning that the only way to eat green beans was after they had been simmered with raw bacon for at least two hours, I also quickly learned that it was a welcoming question to include, with “what’s your name” the query “what church do you belong to?”
While I first interpreted it as a way to invite me, I gradually understood it was a way to identify the tribe. Who was in and who was out.
These were very very real experiences I had:
“My church is the only CHRISTIAN church because it is the XYZ Christian Church. The others are not Christians. They are Baptists or Methodists, not Christians.” (my supervisor, mid-30s)
“My church is the only RIGHT church. All the others are wrong.” (14-year-old in the boy choir who belonged to a congregation of 50 people.)
“You MUST take Christ as your Savior! You could have died and been in Hell for eternity.” (after I had recovered from bacterial meningitis, a 45-year-old wife beating neighbor)
“We can’t have THOSE people teaching our children at Sunday School.” (same supervisor, discussing that the only volunteers to respond to the call to fill a vacancy, a homosexual couple.)
“Jesus was a Christian” (10-year-old who attended a fundamentalist church).
When I got into discussion with people who I now understand were Episcopalian, they cautioned me that no one is perfect. That acceptance of all people also includes acceptance of their flaws.
That is a truism, but I need not follow the advice of people I feel do not align with me on ethical and moral terms.
I started going to church with Graham 12 years ago. I told him I would attend as long as I was respected and he said the very right thing: “If they don’t, we are in the wrong place.” So, until we came to the McMinnville Cooperative Ministry, we attended Episcopal churches in Pueblo, Colorado and Huntington, West Virginia. We also started here in Mac at St. B’s but did not feel the community connection we both enjoy. Jeanne Rahier invited us to sit with her one Sunday at the Coop and after the Christmas music program at St. B’s fell way short of what Graham enjoyed for celebration, we decided to make the switch.
I think most of the pastors have enjoyed my questions and my comments. Certainly, the members did as I was often asked to be part of a study group because they knew my perspective would allow for more interesting discussion. I participated in the “Inquirer’s class” and the Priest completely misunderstood and told me I could be baptized afterwards. When I told her it was not my goal she was surprised I was “merely” interested in learning.
So, why am I not jumping over after 12 years of exposure to Christianity, especially when I no longer actively go to Temple any longer?
Two main reasons:
To keep my mom’s voice out of my head, I have been focusing on the similarities. I think that was one reason the Episcopal church was comfortable. It has a great deal of ritual. It took me a few Sundays to see the “game plan” so to speak, and once I did, I recognized the patterns. In a way, I understood the root of the practices in a way most of the regular people in the congregation did not. I knew the Church had developed from the Jewish faith and while practices vary from denomination to denomination, there are clear signs of the origin of most practices being from Judaism. I will say that the Episcopal church never considered me a member while the Coop has. And that makes me feel that the energy I put in to being part of the community is accepted and appreciated and I feel included.
I just don’t understand and can not accept on faith two big doctrines of Christianity: that we are born with “original sin” and that once we accept Christ, we “live forever”. These issues are, I believe, part of the root of the problem with the fundamental branches. Original sin is the stick to demand behavior compliance and the carrot is baptism. As I was told in Nashville by more than one poor excuse for a proselytizer, they “had their ‘get out of jail free card’ already.” I don’t expect people to be perfect, but I don’t expect people who think they have the ONLY right pathway to be SO damn flawed.
I believe EVERY religion’s fundamental branch has this problem; that they believe in a very narrow and strict interpretation and anyone who questions it is considered to be on the outside and not worth being a part of their community. In our fear and concern about fundamentalist Islam, we have been quick to be concerned about sharia law. And yet EVERY fundamental branch of every religion has similar rules controlling behavior.
And many rules relate to controlling women. Have you noticed that ALL religions have long had a tradition of covering women’s hair? Pretty sexy stuff, hair. Or women and men pray apart? Or clothes must provide certain coverage and women must appear modest. The common theme is men have problems concentrating on the spiritual realm when women are around.
Women, including women in the South, have long adapted to restrictions on behavior. Many are broken down and fall into line, often being the most vocal and angry that other women disagree. And there are many who disagree, but they remain quiet, in order to keep a “happy home”. And a few, thank goodness, still have a backbone and a voice, but like all protesters everywhere, their plight is not easy.
My first job out of college was for the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 1975 the Old South was still very strong in those halls. All the justices were men. White men goes without saying but is important to say. As a recent grad, I was the flunky, but I was able to take on the tasks they assigned me well and a new project related to upgrading the system how to count court cases was given to me. The opportunity to attend a conference in San Jose, California was offered by my supervisor but had to be approved by the Big Boss. I was 23-years-old, living on my own 1000 miles away from my parents, but he was not happy with the idea of a young woman travelling across state lines on her own. He actually mentioned the Mann Act. So, as I had learned in the 2 years I already had lived there, I knew the game I needed to play. I connected with a friend of a friend who lived in California. They offered to pick me up at the airport and have me over for dinner one evening. And so, the Big Boss felt better since I had “family” there. I never saw them again, but I did get an amazing recipe for the pasta sauce they served me. The big take-away, however, was I learned in this instance to act like a Southern woman. All smiles and all duplicitous behavior.
There is an amazing pathway to enlightenment that is not difficult. It requires each person to have the desire and freedom to learn and reason through things. To be permitted to question and gently guided to better understanding through neutral discussion of alternative options. There are ALWAYS more than one way to solve a problem. Without that inherent capability, people become sheep to be lead.
Sheep are herd animals, generally perceived not to be smart because they follow enmasse what the leader directs. I personally do not understand why the Christian Church preaches that good believers are good sheep. I do understand the symbolism of Christ as the Shepherd, but I see that in any choice with farming, there is a wide range of farming styles and management. And some of the preachers and pastors and priests and rabbis and imams are very rigid in how they control their flock.
Why am I not going to Temple any longer? A number of issues, least among them the distance to the closest one. I was a teenager when I was told after I asked a question that I “should know the answer already.” That was poor management of this growing soul. And later, when I turned to the Temple I WAS attending regularly for help through a crisis, I was ignored. That is not my community.
And so it goes for many people in the United States. Probably we Baby Boomers were introduced to religion before we could walk much more than current children and so we learned our baby Bible stories. But somewhere along the way, we slipped off and few every have examined their faith with adult questions. And many found the setting too restrictive. And so, we have many who state they are Christian but behave in a way that would cause Jesus to weep.