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Friday, November 16, 2018

Kristen Olsen is Right - The GOP has committed suicide

Former California State Assemblywoman, and current County Supervisor, Kristen Olsen wrote an interesting OpEd piece in the Modesto Bee on November 13th, 2018.  

A lifelong Republican, Ms. Olsen delivered an address at the California Priorities Summit where she stated that she believes the California Republican party is a victim of its refusal to separate itself "today’s toxic, national brand of Republican politics.".   

I agree.  In fact, I more than agree.  I stand on a chair, swing a kitchen towel around and yell, "IT'S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE SAID SOMETHING!".

I can look back on my development as a voting member of the citizenry and see what most would call a natural progression of beliefs.  I am the embodiment of the old saying often attributed to Churchill.  When I voted for the first time, at age 18, I voted Libertarian.  My reasons were not because of the values of small government and self sufficiency that group espoused; rather, it was because they stated that Marijuana should be legal.  I smoked Marijuana.  Therefore, that was my party.

Taxes?  Government spending? Social Justice programs? International trade? War?  Crime?  Who cares!  I was 18, a senior in High School and wanted to be edgy.

As I grew in knowledge and experience, I aligned myself with the then Democratic Party.  The ideals seemed right.  Also, my father was a staunch conservative and WW2 vet and immoral, a racist
 and a variety of other things that pointed to his lack of heart for the little guy.  Therefore, in reaction to him, I aligned myself with the party of what was then good solid Catholic Social Justice.  The DNC espoused beliefs in stuff I could support and keep my 'I am a Good Person' card.

Getting sober, returning to my Catholic Faith, facing my past (I am a post abortive woman) and making amends to my family (and God) has had a great deal to do with my changing political beliefs.  For one thing, removing alcohol and drugs from my life allowed me to exercise my brain and make decisions based on facts and emotions.  I align myself more and more with the Will of God and I found myself less and less able to give myself whole-heartedly to either political party.  My affiliation would change with each election cycle - sometimes a registered Democrat, sometimes a registered Republican.

I read more.  I learned more about me, about my Faith traditions, about the reasoning behind things like the Dignity of the Human Person.

I worked in different areas - Social Services, Health Services, Law Enforcement.  I found myself more willing to listen, to try and determine what the cause behind a person assertion was and then examine that cause.

Eventually, because of the toxic nature of national politics, I left BOTH parties, never to return.  Because I get to have friends who have supported Donald Trump and friends who proudly put knitted hats with cat ears on their heads, I have discovered a personal truth.

I do not belong with either side.

Women who march against Mr. Trump do not represent me; however, most of the women who support Donald Trump do not represent me either.  Women who wear signs saying they are 'proud' of their abortions are the same ones who, forty years ago told me to shut up about the emotional pain I was feeling because I would 'ruin it' for everyone.  The women who declare things like "women who wait to report a sexual assault" are the same ones who told me I 'asked for it' when I was raped and beaten because, after all, I was an active alcoholic at that time so what did I expect.

Men who declare themselves 'pro women' dismiss women like me as religious fanatics and won't listen to me either - we do not matter to them.  If I dare to ask them why it is ok for a man to mock my religion and my gender I am told to just shut up - after all, it is done for charity so I just need to keep quiet.

People who deny that there is such a thing as White Privilege in our society don't want me around and the people who declare that someone like Elizabeth Warren is a indigenous person don't want me to open my mouth.

Lest you think I am an orphan, let me assure you that I am not.  Politically I am no longer affiliated with the GOP or the DNC.  I am neither blue nor red.  Instead, I am a member of - and newly appointed Vice Chair - of the American Solidarity Party of California.

Modeled on Christian Democratic Parties, we are a group that welcomes people of all Faiths and no Faith.  Our coming together grew from a dissatisfaction with the status quo and a refusal to accept that we HAVE to do things one way or no way.  Small?  You bet.  But we are growing for the very reasons Kristen Olsen outlined in her piece.  BOTH major parties are committing suicide.  People are convinced, however, that there is no answer and that is where we - the ASP - open a door to an alternative.

For me, a 62 year old woman with bleached out platinum hair, a love for the Rolling Stones, horror movies, Zombie shows and Forty-Niner Football and a determination to do her best to apply Catholic Social Teachings to all political issues, the American Solidarity Party is now my political home.  I proudly proclaim that I am a third party gal once again.  I belong to a party that believes being Pro-Life is different from being anti-abortion, that it is possible for communities to solve their problems with support from the federal government, rather than interference from the same.  We may not agree 100% with each other but the overall attempt in every day interaction is to LISTEN, evaluate and then come to an agreement based on our want for a common good and common ground while using common sense.

I am not a Nasty Woman.  I am not someone who thinks Michelle Obama is a man and her children are not her own.  I do not believe giving woman information on abortion and alternatives to that means I am trying to destroy reproductive rights and I do not think all immigrants need to be treated like cattle.  I support GOOD law enforcement, a strong military and a quest for peace in the world.  I do not think all Republicans are evil and all Democrats are evil.  I disagree with their parties' platforms.

Because  I believe that there are more men and women out there who are like me, I urge you all to learn about the American Solidarity Party.  We are NOT communists.  We are not trying to impose a theocracy in the United States.  We are men and women who have tired of the ugly, toxic and flat out wacky behavior of our fellow Americans and we want to offer you a political home.

Find us here  and do not lose heart.  The GOP and the DNC may be killing themselves, but you can find refuge from their bloodletting.








Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Evil in The World - Our Reaction to this Mystery

A dear friend of mine was dealt a blow this past week.  Her five year old niece was murdered.

Both of us aunties are committed Christians.  Our path requires us to find a way to forgive the unforgiveable, to react to horror not with vengeance but with love and to rely upon Jesus Christ as our sole support.  This is what we are held to, the standard we must aspire to, and we have to do it with a fallen nature and no support in that endeavor from the world at large.

I expressed my anger and sadness to a friend of mine who calls himself an atheist.  When I told him how angry I was at the perpetrator, he immediately pointed out that I am a hypocrite because being a Catholic means I must forgive the perpetrator and love him anyway.

It did not surprise me that this was the reaction.  Most people today are ignorant of the meaning of the word hypocrite and think that struggling with an ideal means we don't believe the ideal.  That could not be further from the truth.  I believe completely in all that the Catholic Church teaches and proclaims as Truth.  I struggle with a lot of it all the time, because it is hard and it is unpopular and it can mean people won't like me.    When I fail to meet that standard, I don't think it means I don't embrace it or profess it to be true.  I think it means I failed.  If my failure causes me to sin, I get my butt to the confessional and I make myself right with God.

I struggle with this standard because I have a vivid imagination.  I cannot get the picture out of my head of the little, blonde haired, blue-eyed five year old being subjected to such brutality.  I cannot shake the sadness of knowing how scared she must have been, how confused, how she could not figure out why this horrible man was so angry at her...how she must have wanted her mommy and then, blackness...

I then find comfort in knowing that as her life left her body, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was waiting right there for her.  That He gathered her into His arms and welcomed her into heaven.  How all that was left was a battered body, one that will be glorified at the resurrection.  That she was welcomed into the Beatific Vision and that her prayers before the throne of the Most High is now helping her father, her mother, her older brothers, her family and their friends walk through this tragedy.

While I find it necessary that this man face judgement and hope he receives the maximum sentence for this crime, I also pray for his conversion.  I pray that he comes to accept what he did, that he turns to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of his sins and that he pleads guilty in a court of law so as to spare her family the pain of a trial.  I pray that he seek Truth, that while in prison he find his way to the One, Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church and that he remain in prison for the remainder of his life - and that he do God's Will while he is there, bringing others to know and love Jesus.

I deliberately and intentionally turn away from wanting to hate him.  I deliberately and intentionally reject the language of revenge.

I have to - I am a Catholic.  I am held to a higher standard.  I am held to a standard I seldom attain.

But whose fault is that?

Please pray for the repose of the soul of little Hartley.  And please pray for her father, her mother, her brothers, her extended family.

And for the perpetrator, that he find redemption in Jesus.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Reviewing an Idea: I am Not White, I am a Catholic

I recently subscribed to the publication New Oxford Review and I am SO glad I did.  I can tell right off the bat that I am going to get to put my brain on a 10 mile run several times an issue.  I can also see, immediately, that I bring a different perspective to most discussions and I suspect it is one formed by my American Heritage.

The first article I read is by Thomas Storck, a well known Catholic author who has written extensively on our Faith's social teaching, Catholic Culture and related topics (his stuff can be found at www.thomasstorck.org).  I like the cut of this guy's gib, as my Dad would say, and part of that is because he makes me think, he challenges me with good Catholic Thought, formed by the mind of the Church and allows me to exercise my reason.

The article I read deals with the difference between superficial markers such as skin color and the much more powerful way to identify people which is culture.  Mr. Storck makes some wonderful points and reading the article makes one keenly aware that there is a particular CATHOLIC culture that we in this country have lost over the past few decades, particularly since the 1950's.  Whether we blame that on the constant war our country has experienced and the need for Catholics to prove their patriotism over and over again by participating in those wars or whether it is plain old concupiscence, it is true that what was once stuff that 'all Catholics did' is now in danger of disappearing.

However, I think Mr. Storck makes a mistake when he writes, "...focusing on skin color shifts the discussion to something superficial and distracts from what is essential" as though skin color does not matter.  I think, and I may be wrong, that while it is essential to try and build up our culture, to pretend that within this culture our skin color does not matter is foolish.

I am going to ignore the easy arguments to prove my point because, while ever Black parent can share the experience of both receiving and giving 'the talk' to their child regarding how to respond to people of authority, every PARENT should (and usually can) share the experience of both receiving and giving a similar talk to their female child about how to deal with boys and men and how we need to make sure no one can ever, EVER, blame us for the bad and/or criminal behavior that we all end up experiencing.   And in today's times I can honestly say that I had talks with my eldest nephew about how to respond to scary situations and why walking home from a friend's house at 3am was not a good idea, to call me instead because it is dangerous out there.

Rather, I think we need to pause and remember that within the AMERICAN Culture and we had actual laws that were based on someone's skin color.  The legality of an action was ofttimes determined by skin color, not whether that person was an American.  We didn't care if they believed in working hard, individual freedoms, no taxation without representation, fighting for their country or were against criminal enterprises having control of our streets.  We cared first about what color their skin was because that was far more important than whether or not they had enlisted in the US Army and put their life on the line or if they were trying to start their own business.

Mr. Storck's essay stated clearly that even before the Incarnation, European culture was cool with other nations and peoples.  He then uses Alexander the Great as an example citing Belloc who writes that intermarrying with the locals was the main way Alexander brought Greek culture all the way to India.

Which, I guess, is why he needed to march with all those soldiers and had all those sieges along the way?

While I understand that culture is important as that which binds us all together, I think we are foolish to think that this attitude - an attitude of being Catholic FIRST - is not something to which we must aspire.  We are just not there yet.  We are not yet past what we see in the other person - and oftentimes we miss the crucifix they wear around their neck.  Especially in today's political climate, when so many people have married their political identity to their religion, we have forgotten how to BE Catholic.

Our culture is in trouble and we are afraid to live it, to be CATHOLIC out LOUD because if we are, we know we are marking ourselves as 'other' in a world that pushes the 'other' out.  So we don't tell someone what we are and we let our superficial skin speak for itself.

  I think it is very important to remember now, for Catholics, that we have something much deeper than our skin color binding us together.  The whole wonderful point of BEING a Catholic is to be able to acknowledge the universality of our Faith so that we can take comfort in knowing that whether we are in Modesto, Winnipeg, Nigeria or Wisconsin those of us gathered together for Mass are doing so because we believe in that which we proclaim during the Nicene Creed.

However, I think we also must be willing to acknowledge how we have throughout our existence given into that which the world says is far more important than culture.  We have rejected Catholics who were the wrong color, spoke the wrong language and came from the wrong place.  We have been as sinful as the rest of the world and made that which is superficial the focus of our attention.  We have been ignorant of our own Culture and to pretend we have not is to pretend that Original Sin has no effect on us today.

I lost a friend because she saw my acknowledgement of my country's 'sins' as an indictment of something very personal to her.  Maybe she is right.  Maybe, when I see the cracks in the wonderful world that is made up of good Americans, I am seeing our own sins.  Surely, I can do better in looking beyond the superficial and seeing the person?  If I want my country to do so, I must do so.  If I am to do so, I must examine my past and make amends for those times I did not live up to the ideal of Catholicism.  I must be willing to admit my sins and then ask for forgiveness - for racism, for sexism, for not being strong enough to stand stronger in the face of injustice.

I get a kick out of sharing with people my ethnic make up because it is eclectic (Persian,Irish,Italian, Cherokee anyone?) but the reality is this: if a police officer looks at me?  She sees a little white lady with platinum hair and Forty-Niner earrings.   That trained officer is NOT going to not have the same reaction to me as she will to a 16 year old brown kid with a shaved head, holding a skateboard.  The officer may not approach either one of us, but I know which one of us is going to be watched longer...and it is not me.



Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Outrage Wars

I've been thinking.....

uh oh

I recently had a conversation with someone who believes that it is perfectly okay for men to dawn make up and costumes in an outrageous attempt at imitating women because they are doing so to raise money to combat a disease that ravages people - AIDS.   The reasoning given to me as to why this group  of men who call themselves 'sisters' (again, in imitation of Catholic Nuns, not Buddhist Nuns but Catholic ones - they even pattern their stage names after Catholic Saints) being acceptable is that they have raised lots and lots of funds over the past 40 years of their existence.  I was also told that it has nothing to do with their sexuality - even 'straight men dress up for this group, was the claim - and so any objection to this bit of performance art is obviously because the objector is a bigot or really misinformed.

Listen, I don't even argue with people about this kind of stuff anymore because their logic is so broken it isn't worth it.  It is sad that people who use this type of thought process are also allowed to vote and drive a car but that is part of the wonders of a Democratic Republic.  You do not have to be logical to vote.

What gets me wondering sometimes, however, is how our level of outrage as a society is determined.  I would not expect the overwhelming members of Facebook to be outraged by a man who paints his face and attaches false eyelashes and pushes one body part out of the way and then accentuates another area to give him 'bewb action'.   If we are offended, well hell....we aren't part of the cool kids in the cafeteria.   We probably hate all those dying from AIDS.  We are right-wing fascists.

However, I wonder what would happen if that same man was to paint his face with black paint, outline his lips in white and then paint them red, dress in an ill fitting suit and hold a banjo in order to raise money to fight Sickle Cell Anemia?  Would his reason be good enough to fend off the outrage?  If a group of white women were to darken their skins and lip sync to old hits out of Motown in order to raise funds for African American Veterans who have lost their homes, would they be vilified or glorified?  No one would EVER okay this - it is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  You can spot it a mile away and if some white guy or gal tried to pull this off and use 'but I am raising money for charity' as their reason they would be (rightly) hounded off the internet.

Seriously now, take a breath and just think about it...making fun of women by naming yourself after our body parts (Sister Titzgrow is an example) is okay.  We better just shut up, sit down and giggle along with the rest of you because if we dare to say, "But that isn't funny" it is probably because we are uptight and frigid and all the other names that get thrown at women who question that done by an all mighty man.  If we sit up and say, "That makes me uncomfortable" we better just GET comfortable.  We don't get to be outraged about THIS and if we do we are being 'stupid'.  

Discrimination is a horrific sin.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1935 The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it:
Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.
Racism is a sin; of that there is no doubt and I would not expect anyone to tolerate it and then receive Our Lord in the Eucharist.

 Sexism, however, is still pretty much up for grabs and a debatable issue.  What one person sees as sexist is another person's performance art.  While I may find a group of men calling themselves 'sisters' and naming their characters after women's body parts or barely disguised twists on the names of beloved Saints to be distasteful and objectionable I am not to be outraged by it.  Instead, I must recognize that they have a right to do it, that it is raising money for a good cause, and then I better just shut up.

Sadly, in today's world, the rush to become victims has taken over the need to apply common sense for a lot of people.  In this particular case, I am going to apply common sense.   I am not going to  contribute to their cause, not applauding their posts on social media and I am (basically) ignoring them.  Not my circus.  Not my clowns.  If they think what they are doing is okay, then let them do it.  If they expect me to tell them how clever and cute they are and give them money?  Yeah, that ain't gonna happen.....anymore than I would attend a Minstrel Show to raise money for the local Catholic School.

 If YOU think it is okay?  Then we have to agree to disagree....I think it is insulting.  I think a lot of 'performance art' that I was okay with as a 20-something is insulting.  I guess I am turning into an old fuddy duddy.

OR - I am growing up.  It may have taken me a long time, but I am finally growing up and my brain is functioning properly and things just look different when logic finally takes control.   I think being stronger in my Faith matters too. Today, I KNOW.... I do not get to pull the ol' 'the ends justifies the means' card.  I either believe in something or I do not.

And this, dear friends, is why I will never be elected Queen of the Prom in the High School that has become Social Media.







Monday, October 22, 2018

Unprotected - The Movie

For those of you who have not heard of Don Johnson's latest project, check it out:

http://unprotectedmovie.com/


This past Saturday night I sat with about 300 other parishioners and watched this movie.  The sound in the Hall was pretty stinky but once my ears adjusted to the problems I was able to settle in and watch, listen and ponder the message.

What usually happens is that I hear one startling statement and I find myself wishing that the entire movie could have gone in that direction.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of The Ruth Institute, (http://www.ruthinstitute.org/bios/dr-morse) said something so quickly that it was almost an aside.  What I think I heard is that we, as a society, have spent far too much time trying to fit women into the existing models for University and/or the Work Force and so it is natural that our success has been shaped by the idea that we are at war with our own bodies.

Now look, I am paraphrasing.  She did not perpetrate what I hear as the myth of 'you can have it all'; rather, what I heard her say is that women put off becoming mothers because they are sent the message to 'lean in' to their careers - and that means putting something on hold.  And while they despair (as a group) that men 'don't have to do this', the question should really be, "WHY do we have to do this?".  In other words, what can we change about our lives, our educational system, our economy, etc. that would support a woman and a man forming a family and raising children?  Does everyone have to set up a computer center in their home or wear a power suit to work?

I do not pretend to have an answer but I sure think it is a great conversation to have today.  Women who want to be mothers and wives and get their masters in bio engineering or start a basket weaving business or be an administrative assistant should not have to let go of the idea of getting pregnant in their 20's.    Our choice should not be framed around "first do this and THEN do the whole Mommy thing".   If young men are told to structure their lives so that they can afford a family, provide for a wife and children and are also told that this is perfectly possible to begin working towards when they are 22 or 23 then it should be possible to include the dreams of their soon-to-be wife.

What I am not sure of though is how we can do that?

I think, and I could be wrong, that we need to start with telling young adults that beginning at the bottom is okay - having a toddler in an apartment is not the end of the world - and that NOT having 'stuff' at the beginning of their lives together is okay as well.  If you cannot afford it, you don't get it.  Amazing concept.

I also think we need to emphasize (bring back, in some cases) the wonderful world of extended family.  Having a beloved aunt or uncle or grandmother or grandfather that can be counted on to watch the baby or pick up little Joey after school is not something to be ashamed of; rather, it is something to be celebrated.  Families working together - I see it all the time in my job and it brings total joy to my heart.

Anyway...look, I do not pretend that I know exactly how this would look in the modern world.  I do think, however, that it is worth exploring.  Telling a woman to 'wait' and then having her deal with fertility issues as 35 or 40 when she is attempting to conceive for the first time is tough.  What can we do to make her ability to have it all be a reality?

Maybe...and this is just a quick thought...step one is to define "all".


SO - dear readers...

What do YOU think?????