It may have happened this way

Or it may not. But sometime in the 18th century people with my last name came here. The closest translation of the name  from  Gaelic  means  keepers of the harp .  More generally  musicians. Family legend indicates that they were three brothers. These brothers had handled their money poorly or offended the wrong people. They had all ended up afoul of the law. They were given a choice. The New World or debtors prison. They chose the New World. There is anecdotal evidence that at least one of them settled in the south, perhaps in Virginia. When I was a little girl in 1968 I meant a little boy with my last name and very dark skin. Now as a grown up I know how that might have happened. And I am very sorry for it. As a child though we just laughed at having the same last name. Another part of the legend indicates at the brothers hated each other. Each of the three changed a letter in their last name so that when their descendants met up with each other they would know who to hate and to draw close. My earliest known ancestor I could find in this country was a man named Ruben Mcwherter. According to court records he wore a coonskin cap and was never seen without his flask.  In 1850  in Tennessee, a man aptly-named  Neil Mcwherter  went before a judge  for disturbing the peace .  My great-grandfather Paul was born in Tennessee. He carried on the tradition of the man in the coonskin cap. Alcoholism runs thick in my family. That gene really isn’t going anywhere I don’t know what happened to the other two brothers descendants. 
There’s also a great deal of accomplishment  in my family .  There are actresses  and writers  and triathletes  and lawyers .  Some of them have been profoundly affected  by addiction.  Others have not. My father was named Neil and he did a lot of peace disturbing. He was a lawyer, until his addiction said otherwise. I might have a more distant relative with some accomplishments.There is a well-known politician named Ned McWherter that I really believe I’m related to. He looks a lot like my father.
I tell the story because based on the reputation of the guys that are my ancestors that came to this country, there might have been some raised eyebrows letting that sorry bunch in the country if they were vetted under the previous administrations immigration laws, let alone the executive order that was put in place last week.

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(Segue)

There are some people walking around saying that they’re Muslims saying that they’re good Muslims, when in fact most of their day in the Middle East is spent killing other Muslims. Their reputation is much worse then my pack of drunk and disorderly ancestors,  but the point I’m trying to make is both have a bad reputation . This small fraction isil has been used to give guilt-by-association to every single person who says that they practice Islam. Or even people who come from neighboring countries. Or even people like the Siks who practice an entirely different religion but just look the way we think terrorists from the Middle East look.

Are we judged to be members of the Ku Klux Klan because we look like them? At least with the sheets off? No. Are KKK terrorists? Of course they are.

Grandmothers, women and children, who have been vetted… Green card holders man or woman who have been vetted and permitted to live in this country are being detained. They are being kept away from family members and jobs and their education. Supporters of the recent change make the case that it’s a relatively small number of people being impacted. If you were one of the ones being impacted it would be no small matter. George Takei, a survivor of the Japanese internment in World War II, says that this seems like the beginning of those times.

Until last week the Statue of Liberty meant something. Now it all depends. It depends on rules made too quickly and with not enough specificity. It also depends apparently on whether or not you were Christian or Muslim coming from one of the countries listed in the recent executive order. Religious test anyone? I don’t know about you but I think that’s against the Constitution. We’re not allowed to give preference between one religion and another. 

White people, let’s not get all superior. If the immigration laws in this country were completely fair Native Americans would have the right to deport all of us if they felt like it. They have been treated very badly by their Invaders. 
And let’s not even start disrespecting or downgrading the experience of people that were brought here against their will, abused and assaulted, and had to work for nothing..

But my last point is all of these people, including my drunk and disorderly ancestors and their accomplished descendants brought some good to this country. Muslims are doing that everyday too. Have a Muslim friend an American who is busy doing good in several countries.  

We are immigrants or the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants. We all come from people that came from elsewhere. Now apparently that’s part of our tradition then we would like to trash.

I vote no on that. If America is no longer the place that people go when they are afraid for their lives or hopeful for a better future here…. Then what is it?

He is not yet president

This is the last day I can use the language that I want to say the things I want. After tomorrow I will oppose him. I will criticize him and the Congress if they do things that are wrong or oppressive.

I will write I will call I will email. But I will have to use his title. The title he gained through lying, through misdirection, through insult,through appealing to prejudice and bigotry and showing the same himself.Through insulting everyone except those wealthy, American, able-bodied White men willing to suck up to him. And effusively praising Russia in the person of that murdering thug  Vladimir Putin . Through going further with women and physically attacking them. Through making incredibly dangerous claims about how we should handle our foreign policy war on terror, and nuclear weapons.

Through making it abundantly clear through the campaign and through this post-election period that he only seeks that which will better himself. He does not and never will seek that which benefits his country. His style of ruling the country will be by threat and intimidation and bullying. He will make it very clear to those who disagree with him publicly and in private that he will not forget when they oppose him.

Through finding the oddest combination of the wealthiest and most clueless and appointing all but one of people like that to his cabinet. I exempt General Mattis. I may or may not disagree with him. He is competent to do his job. What he does with it is his affair entirely, but I do give him props for being competent.

Through hoodwinking the media over and over again making himself the sideshow while slowly and then more and more quickly authoritarian pieces of law are moving through the dark and heading toward the light of Passage. Using force against peaceful protest. Repealing Health Care in such a chaotic way as to risk  the very private insurance industry  his cronies would like to save .  Not to mention  risking the lives of all who would lose their insurance or lose their freedom when that insurance is cut . Closing down the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Blacklisting those on his own side of the aisle who opposed him in the primary but might be very helpful to him particularly in foreign policy. It doesn’t matter to him. They opposed him and he remembers it.  Gutting the department of Energy. Handing the Department of Education over to a religious zealot. Taking advice from her brother the mercenary King.

He will shove some past our borders and shove the rest of us down. Racism is back in, ableism too.Mocking those with disabilities is another new sport of Presidents.

He has elevated hatred, racism and anti Semitism to one of his special counselors. White supremacy is the new chic.

His vice president believes that lgbtq people are damaged and only God can fix them. His vice-president by his very position will force people back into the closet.

There is so much more. It’s very possible that within the next four years his machinations will cause me to lose the pieces of my healthcare they keep me out in the world and well. So I don’t see that I have much to lose by speaking my mind. If he’s going to take it anyway then why not?

So I say to him: I think you were the wrong choice for this country. More than that I think you are a dangerous narcissist that should not be trusted not to keep your word, and not with the reins of government. I oppose you and every personal characteristic I have seen of you. I oppose 95% of what little we know of your potential policies.

If I am wrong and your policies and your Administration add provable full-time job growth of a significant amount within our borders for middle-class people, I will say so. If you don’t continue to choke freedom of the press. I will stand corrected.

But for now, I may use different language and I will call you by your title but after today I won’t use your name. You don’t deserve it. Here’s hoping your presidency is only 4 years long.

Trump care

​ There’s no avoiding the fact that there have been skyrocketing premiums and deductibles for some under Obamacare. That has to be balanced against the other fact that when it is repealed on day one it will throw millions of people into the vortex of having no coverage whatsoever. Not expensive coverage, not cheap coverage, no coverage. The responsible way to achieve your goals Republicans, is to repeal when you have a replacement. In case you haven’t noticed you have both houses of Congress and the White House! writing up a replacement..? well it will be detail-oriented and difficult but it will not be hard to pass once it exists. And you will have served your constituents by making sure that Obamacare isn’t ripped from underneath them before there’s something else, however minimalist that they can transition to. The legislation first seen does say that the repeal will not actually take effect for two years. Perhaps they’ve changed their mind and will go with a repeal that actually has some teeth and will be effective on day one. But the legislation that I have seen means that they pass the legislation now but the effective date isn’t for two years yet , notably after the 2018 election cycle. if it’s true then they’ve given themselves two years to come up with a replacement. You’d better get on it boys. The clock is ticking.

I know that when you passed all those protest votes to repeal Obamacare you knew that the president would veto them. So there was no need to come up with a replacement even if you talked about having one.

And is to them not having one ready to go buy a replacement now. Like all of us they didn’t think they were going to win the White House this year. But since there is now a Republican president in the White House and you have majority in the house and the Senate it requires responsible thinking. You get a present you have to deal with it responsibly.

If there is no replacement there are other effects besides the people suddenly being uninsured. Rural hospitals will be on a rocky footing and forced to close in some cases. Intercity hospitals will also face a crisis because much of the dollars they rely on come from the Medicaid expansion. When Medicaid shrinks it will put at risk many many facilities and the jobs of people in those many many facilities. Also emergency room costs will skyrocket because the only thing that people will be able to do is go to the ER, get billed for it later, and cost the hospital millions in uncompensated care. In short it’s bad for business. Here in Northeast Ohio Cleveland Clinic and University Hospital lobbied the governor for the Medicaid expansion: it’s the real reason he took it. He will publicly support the repeal of course. He knows it’s going to be bad for business. Privately he’s not going to be feeling really good about it. Then there’s the smaller providers: doctors offices medical supply companies, labs, stand-alone outpatient clinics. Community health centers. Imagine all the jobs in those places being impacted in some cases when Obama Care goes away. And also not giving the insurance companies time to figure out how to deny claims they would have previously covered means that there will be thousands of claims that will initially be paid that the money will be have to taken back on later and I can tell you from experience that is a freaking nightmare not just for the patients but for the insurance companies themselves.

Dear Mr. Pence…

Today I ran across a story about you saying the cigarettes weren’t really bad for anyone’s health.

You are not a doctor. Let’s get that one fact straight right up front. You. Are. Not. A. Doctor.

So what doctors say about smoking is infinitely more likely to be true than anything you’d say. There are generations  of medical evidence that prove smoking is lethal.

For a man one healthy heartbeat away from the presidency it seems a singularly stupid thing to say.

So color me  unsurprised when that link led me backwards in time to 2002 when you said the following:  Condoms are a very very poor way to protect against STDs.

Let me tell you in a very personal way why you are wrong. First and foremost and beyond anything else I might tell you you are medically wrong. When users are taught or learn for themselves how to use a condom effectively before its first use condoms are a very effective way preventing STDs.

How do I know this? Very simple sir. Without condoms I’d be dead. Let me explain.

Before I converted to Roman Catholicism in 2009 I was a Protestant. A bible-believing born-again Protestant. I was married to a preacher. He was born and raised in the Baptist faith. That means I know you know what his life path was like.  He read the Bible, He taught it.  He preached about it. And he died of HIV. Why? Not because of anything that his church might have considered a moral failing. He died from blood products. When we were married I knew very well he might have this disease. That was confirmed about three years into our marriage. I insisted on condom use without exception. I advised him that I loved him but that it was a deal-breaker. I told him that I did not sign up to die when I stood in front of God and our family and said vows to him. 

That protected me and protected me very very well. I never contracted the disease that killed him. That was certainly not due to luck alone.  It was due to condom use. I don’t deny that God was a part of that. God was a part of that because I firmly believe He did not want me to die. I think  God believed  I have work to do yet.  I also think that God believes  in my life  as a person  has value  not just at their beginning  but all the way through the arc of life.  I know you will recognize this  as Catholic teaching.  Condoms were there to save me  for my God-given future.

Had you said. “my faith tells me that…” etcetera etcetera etcetera. That would be completely acceptable. That is your statement that says because of what you believe you also believe that. You have a right to believe what you want. 

What you don’t have a right to do is unequivocally contradict years of medical research that ended up saving people’s lives.

If some teenager hears  what you said about smoking, takes it up, then later becomes ill  due to related complications, don’t you think you bear some responsibility for that?  That holds true for your earlier statement as well.

In conclusion, let me repeat so I am utterly clear about why you were wrong about condom use and effectiveness.

Without condoms, I’d be dead.

Teach and Reach

​ Anyone who’s been to either high school or college has had that one teacher.Or maybe two of them.

They were boring, you thought. Or they were so many levels of hard above your usual teacher. Or they were all those things plus being mean spirited. They were bitter people and you wondered why the heck they had gotten into the position of teaching since they obviously hated  it so much. Or maybe they had been cheerful and upbeat once but time had exhausted them.  

Perhaps, looking back, you realize that you learned something even from those people. The people that didn’t make it pleasant to be in class the people that didn’t make it easy.

Who are our first teachers? Our parents. Or those who parent us.

 My father was clueless about admitting to or naming my cerebral palsy but at least while sober he had the good sense to stay out of the way and let my mother handle things.  She did not want to have a child at all at that time in her life let alone a disabled child . However, my mother understood the reality that she very clearly did not want. For selfish reasons she worked very hard to enhance my movement, to make sure that I got a good education, advocated for myself and discovered my strengths. She was terrified of me having any surgeries, and backed out once, but my father and I managed to convince her to keep the surgery on the schedule to surgically correct pronation in at least one ankle,

( he had to speak earnestly to her after I fought with her because I wanted the ankle fusion surgery. He said, “You know how the kid is when she’s made her mind up about something and this is something she wants, and I think we’re going to have to let her do it.” The surgery went ahead.) She made sure I was independent. That had its own set of issues though when the parent said , “oh don’t ascribe any unselfish motives to this. I want you out of the house by the time you’re 18.” 

Parents can be hard teachers. Sometimes the hardest. I’m not talking about abuse my mother never did that. But there were these immovable boundaries about what she expected. And the best I could do or the best I thought I could do was all she got. And sometimes it didn’t go anywhere near what her expectation was. That’s when it got hard. And it got harder when she absolutely stuck to boundaries about her own life that she had set up for herself in her head. Then when she got to be around 40 she was going to do her own thing and make herself less available to me merely because of time management, not because of any lack of affection. And that’s the age when you should be becoming independent. Didn’t make it any easier stuck at a little, magical college, one of the few persons with disabilities on campus at that time. And the tyranny of expectation was that I was simply going to do as well as the able-bodied people with very little of what is considered accommodation today.

Don’t get me wrong it’s good to have that expectation because then you end up doing more than you ever thought possible with your life. But then there’s that point later in life where you  fail in that expectation. Your body is giving up or your spirit’s given up or a combination of the two. And then your parents and your family members blink a bit, and quite frankly don’t know what to do with you because the can do plucky workhorse getting through life suddenly isn’t there anymore. Instead there’s you with all your flaws and limitations clearly visible and they are puzzled. They were your first teachers and they did well by you, but they didn’t expect to have to learn this lesson.

Your face

You used to joke about me with my mother.Tactlessly and crudely. You would say to her, “At least I know you didn’t fool around with the postman.”

My mother had a much kinder little saying. I felt bad for her. it sounded wistful. She would bend down so that both of our faces were in front of the mirror smiling. Then she would say, “Why don’t you look anything like me?”

People would see she and I together with similar haircuts and blue eyes and they would say to me, “Oh you look so much like your mother.”

Then they would see a picture of you and they would understand. Or, I would tell them, “If you see my dad you’ll know that I really look like him. Exactly like him.”

I’ve talked about the way you emotionally abused us elsewhere. I’ve talked about the effects of that and the effects of your alcoholism,and a possible bipolar problem that may have influenced it. I’m not going to go into that again.

What I am going to talk about is new information. I am now getting old myself. I’m older than you were when you died, something I take great pride in even with all of my physical differences and limitations I’ve been longer on the earth in years than you were.

As parents do and as parents should I was never told about this incident. But it came to light recently. I now have it from a very credible source that you did cross the line from emotional to physical abuse at least once. You put your hands on my mother. Let me say that again so it is clearly understood .  You put your hands on my mother. In fact you placed your hands around her neck and squeezed so hard that there were bruises. I do not know if she sought medical attention. I do know she had to wear turtlenecks for 4 days until the bruising subsided.

She protected me from knowing that. I think parents should do those things sometimes. And there are questions I can never ask her. Questions like, “Why didn’t we leave? We had a place to go, that was always certain and you knew that…”

I want to know the situation. Unfortunately right now I am fixated on it. It has sent me into something of a tailspin. I keep thinking, was it inside my house? Was it out in the backyard? Or was it in the broad light of  day during some social occasion, where other people looked away and didn’t intervene?

I believe that emotional abuse is terrible my mother and I are both still suffering the effects from that to varying degrees. Emotional abuse if it happens frequently enough can shred your self-esteem, and give you you a flawed view of yourself.

 However, unbeknownst to me at the time you crossed a line when you put your hands on my mother. When you physically abused her, assaulted her you crossed a line.
I’m going to think of you very differently now for a long time. I hope it’s not a permanent change in my head. But I know very well that for things like this it is God’s job to forgive you. I don’t. I suspect there was another good reason my mother kept this from me. Depending on how old I was she knew darn well that I would have no hesitation about calling the cops and embarrassing you. In those days of course they could not intervene in a domestic dispute. But you would have been embarrassed to be called out like that. And since I couldn’t physically injure you in return, that was the best vengeance I could have managed. I hated you so much at the time for what I knew you had done, I say without hesitation that at the time had I known that, depending on how old I was, I would have wished you dead.

The difficulty for me now is that, when I look in the mirror I still have your face. I was ashamed of that face in the seventies when I knew about the emotional abuse. I looked in the mirror and I said to myself there is the face of an emotional abuser. Because I had your face.

And now I have the same problem. It is worse now. It is more wrenching. I look in the mirror and I see the face of someone who laid his hands on a woman. Someone who thought that there was a valid reason for doing that. 

I don’t care if you were drunk. That doesn’t matter. There is nothing she could have said or done that excuses this.

And there’s that grey calm rational voice inside my head that has been trained by so many crises.

“He’s in the ground. It’s over. It happened years ago. Put it in a mental box and move on.”

I find I am unable to do that at this time. Perhaps later. Perhaps never. Because no matter what I do no matter where I go, no matter what hobbies I I take up no matter what people I meet… I still, I will always… have your face.

The last thing we need

Is #MeBeforeYou.  The film that romanticizes euthanasia for a disabled man.

I’ll admit there’s a spectrum of disability. There are days and there are some times when you really do want to take all the things off your plate , or act like a three-year-old because the frustration has reached its limit with what your body will not do.

But they are also days when you ride the roller coaster. There are also days when you land that job. There are also days when you are finally able to move forward and have that full relationship. And there are days you mastered that physical skill , whether it’s ballet dancing or washing your hair.

I’m really sorry if you don’t have someone with a disability in your crowd who has integrated it into their lives and moved forward to build a decent life for themselves. The writer of this book says that she does and I believe her. She also says she talked with people in chairs while coming up with her story. I believe that too. What I do not believe is how she could have come away with either the interaction with a close person in her circle or those people in chairs with the idea that a person who becomes disabled is miserable enough to kill himself. He has wealth, which many of us do not. He has great looks which many of us do not. Particularly with the resources he has at his disposal , eventually it’s very easy for those of us in the disability community who are protesting this movie to believe that the character would adjust. That he would come to accept his disability  and find other cool things to do that are in line with its present capabilities. Instead, it seems he is to be allowed a brief interlude non sexual bliss. While the film clearly states that it is his choice to die , it seems as though his character is also paying the price of death for several reasons. Able-bodied society as a whole does not want to imagine living like he does. It seems like the world hands him death at his request like some kind of present.

They give themselves the easy way out. If Will decides to die then the moviegoer is spared trying to understand the other choice, the choice to move ahead in a disabled body. The broader impact of this film cannot be ignored.

The better dead than disabled message has another chance to seep into the groundwater of the watchers psyche.

After seeing this film who knows how many able bodied people will unconsciously pressure people with disabilities in their lives who are having a vulnerable moment into making Will’s choice?

Who knows how many able bodied people will also reaffirm the idea that romance for the disabled must always remain platonic? (From personal experience I can tell you that’s a giant load of crap.)

Who knows how many people will see less and less wrong with the notion of cost-containment measures in insurance falling more in line with the idea that if it’s expensive for you to continue living, maintenance medications may no longer be available?

I have many disabilities and chronic illnesses. I struggle with depression and social isolation. I’m one of the lucky ones.I did some digging and found counseling. To make sure my depression only stays depression. To make sure I don’t go any further down any dark road. So many of us who deal with long-term depression don’t have this option. And we should. Depression in the disabled should be met with support groups and suggestions for counseling , just as in the able community.

And the last and in my opinion most ugly thing this movie does is confuse things. It confuses our ongoing fight for self-determination, the right to live our own lives outside of institutions, our right to marry and parent and work for a decent wage that all fall under the broad umbrella of autonomy… with a medical choice. Films like this push autonomy as if it didn’t mean any of those things above. They frame autonomy as if it pertained only to the choice to die if you are disabled. 

I wish the filmmakers and the writer of the book could understand this sentiment.

Stop making giving up a noble act. Stop giving the day to day agency of your characters to their nurses and caretakers. The next time you write a story with a protagonist with disabilities , err on the side of vigor. Err on the side of dreams. Err on the side of life. Understand that we #LiveBoldly too.

PS it wouldn’t hurt Hollywood if you could bestir yourself to research whether or not there were actors with disabilities able to play these parts. PPS If you did a little Google searching. You would find out that there are.  Come on try it for once. #WriteBoldly.

Versions

I’m going to start with a little theological nerd backstory here. If you’re uncomfortable with someone discussing Evangelical interpretations of the Bible then please navigate away from here. I don’t mean to offend. All of this interests me. But as is often true with me I need to fully unpack ideas before I can go into what actually occurred yesterday that stirred me up. And I also know that any Rabbi worth his salt will tell me that we got the Old Testament wrong . I don’t argue with that; that’s a question to go into the weeds on another time .

A quick note on abbreviations. The King James version will be abbreviated KJV. The new international version will be abbreviated NIV. And Today’s New International Version will be abbreviated TNIV.  I will be purchasing the NABRE (New American Bible Revised Edition) adult version next month to round out the Catholic perspective. I also have a Catholic Youth Bible that I love and is my current go to book for my faith journey but neither of those come into play here.

So. A little history for those who may not know. My late husband grew up in the Baptist tradition. He was a true Evangelical conservative. Of course by that I mean a true Evangelical conservative as of 1984 or so. The average Evangelical conservative has moved much further into politics and hard as it is to believe even farther to the right since his time. He studied at an Evangelical but multi denominational seminary and became a pastor. There were Baptists, there were Evangelical Presbyterians and Lutherans, many many Church of the Brethren. And many charismatic Pentecostals and Assemblies of God folks. So there was some variability even among these people about which Bible to use and what the Bible said.

Unsurprisingly my  husband Brian chose the version of the Bible that had been popular at his home church for a long long time.

It is the NIV, first created in 1973 and revised before his time. This was an attempt to reexamine the masoretic and Greek texts and translate them directly into 20rh century American English. I like the idea being faithful to primary source material. That is one of the essential tools of the scholar in any of the human sciences. Translation is always an inexact science particularly with a source as emotionally charged as the Bible. That goes without saying. In my opinion this was not an attempt to stray from orthodoxy, but rather an attempt to rediscover it. My understanding is that The New American Bible abbreviated NAB tried to do the same for the Catholic tradition. The NIV was revised  in 1978 and 1984. My husband used the 1984 version. He began studying for the ministry in 1988 and finished his degree in 1991. He was a student Pastor briefly with a Dutch reformed congregation. He really admired the pastor there and learned a lot from him. He chose to work for Church of the Brethren as his first and only full-time position. It was the NIV that he continued to use. He used it in his Bible studies, in his sermon preparation, in his seminary work, in his visitations with older folks and shut-ins. In his visitations to hospitals.

Shift to today. Brian passed away more than twenty years ago. For some odd reason I keep his briefcase here with me. It is full of his sermons and some notes. It also has in it his own personal copy of the NIV with notations in his spidery handwriting all throughout the text.

There is a controversial Post Script to the NIV. The NIV as of 1984 is still respected and used in many churches today. There was a more recent translation however, the TNIV. It is considered heretical and a banned book in Evangelical circles it’s stirred up a lot of anger.  It changed some of the pronouns. It bracketed on noted passages that have been accepted in a long time but are now in dispute. It’s changed some wording in both the Old and New Testaments. But the thing I think that put them over the edge is that they changed the translation of the word that meant homosexuality to the phrase practicing homosexuals. It is a small hair  to split, but for conservatives in 2005 it was too much.

It is no longer published. It is not part of biblical websites. In short it is no longer considered authoritative in any way. I really like it. I’m glad I got a lovely leather-bound copy of it. I use it and my Catholic Youth Bible most often for my readings at home.

Back to the 1984 version of the NIV. Those who worked on this particular translation were evangelicals and other denominations. All of the scholars were committed to exactitude when available and the best possible alternative when the original Greek or Hebrew was unclear or nonspecific. They believed in biblical infallibility which is a cornerstone of Evangelical thought. This isn’t about what I believe now. This isn’t about my view of this text as a Roman Catholic. It’s about the text my husband believed in, and leaned on, and trusted all his life.

I had heard that there was a Bible study in my building. I decided this would be a good way to meet people. Socialization is something I needed something that’s necessary for me in my limited environment. I knew what I was getting into. I thought I would do something special for my first time there. I took down the briefcase. I opened it up I pulled out my husband’s Bible. I decided to take it downstairs and use it during this Bible study. The people were pleasant and kind and seemed genuine. However they spoke the language of the Evangelical and just hearing some of it again, no offense to them, made me feel trapped as I have often felt during my time among the evangelicals. But I put aside the temporary mental claustrophobia and said to myself, look it’s only an hour and a half you’ll get something out of it. You’re getting something out of it now. Just go forward.

But then they said , the the King James version was the only authoritative version of the Bible for them. And they advised. that that made the NIV and all other translations the devil’s work.

I didn’t make a fuss, I simply asked them if they had an extra copy of the KJV put my Bible aside and used KJV in the course of the study. The study itself was well put together and well organized and was a good theme for us.

I was angry. Didn’t speak of it then or let it out. I got upstairs alone in my house. It made me cry. I felt as though every moment of time that my husband had spent working from those words in the NIV was disrespected. Everything that he had ever said that actually touched someone in a positive way was called into question by these people. They said the religious text used by another Baptist for goodness sake was wrong.  My late husband was an Evangelical Baptist just like these people I had just been downstairs studying with.

Update: I’ve modeled around the internet somewhere and come up with an even sadder post script to this mess. After all the controversy, condemnation from the southern baptist conference, the LifeWay Christian bookstore chain banning the TNIV, in 2011 a new edition of the NIV was published. It took into account the worst of the opponents objections and walked back parts of the 2005 Edition to their previous incarnations. Don’t misunderstand I’m quite grateful that we don’t burn books on a regular basis in the US. Not that it never happens but it is rare. I am also grateful that to the best of my knowledge here in the United States we do not burn people at the stake for believing in a different interpretation of a holy book.I just want to ask all those who had a problem with the 2005 translation one question. Where would all of the Protestants be if Martin Luther’s interpretation of scripture had not been ultimately accepted by some parts of the Christian community?

Um, saying Mass with me, that’s where.

I have two weeks until the next study period two weeks in which to consider how to go about being as comfortable as I can in that situation. As a theological nerd I have several translations of the Bible. I will have to dig around and see if one of them is the KJV and take it downstairs and use it.  I am comfortable reading any translation I find. I’d rather respect them all for what they can bring to me, than choose only one and disrespect the work of all the others.

Woke up

Only because someone asked for it, here are my long delayed thoughts on Star Wars the Force Awakens. They will be fairly stream of consciousness and may very well be out of order.

, the credits with their blasts of sound. The first order ship so large it nearly blocked out a planet. That is such a love letter to the fans of a new hope. Especially those of us who saw it for the first time that first week in the theater.

Soke or whatever his name is is appropriately vile.  I also like the production design idea that he’s so bad then an actual person can’t play him that he has to be cgi’d at least part of the time.

The first minute I saw Poe Dameron I didn’t expect to like him. By the third minute I was hooked. Such ebullient joie de vivre.

And whatever his ultimate Destiny is , it was nice to enjoy him merely as a good pilot.

Fin. There’s so much to mine in this character that they deliberately left for the next couple of films, like Poe Dameron. Excellent restraint excellent realization that this is an introduction, and if there will be more to come. He’s cocky he’s earnest, not too bad at learning on the fly.

Rey is tough, Rey is self-sufficient ,Rey is driven, and she’s got some baggage. But most of all she has the best line in the film for any girl or woman watching it , “Stop holding my hand!”

The arrival of the Millennium Falcon, is as welcome as any of the original characters. She’s a little beat up , but she can get going and bug out when it’s necessary.

Here’s my thoughts on Han Solo and some folks aren’t going to like them at least not all of them. I really enjoyed seeing him especially that first moment on the Falcon. His and Chewy’s banter is perfect and whatever he has to yell after somebody, it’s as if the character hasn’t missed a step. His interactions with Leia are believable, they are sensible for 2 people separated by time and distance who used to love each other…

Butt… I think there was some miss direction here, and I don’t mean sleight of hand

If you want to keep up this love letter to the fans that you so clearly got going up to this point… Then Han Solo should be mentally sharp as a tack. My impression was that he is not. He’s a little off,  a little  bit bewildered at where he finds himself. The talking himself out of disaster scene seems particularly forced to me . I don’t leave it at the feet of the actor. Harrison Ford is not bewildered and staggering and half-assed about anything. So much as it pains me , I have to say that at least some of the time there was an intent by who ever was directing him to make him seem a little bit like someone’s lost grandfather and not like the guy that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. I certainly don’t expect the character to be jumping all over the screen physically that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about mental acuity.

But I only got that feeling part of the time. Part of the time the character was dead on . when he was sitting at the seat of the Falcon, or trying to help the kids Mount a Rescue.

And of course he rose above his paradigm when interacting with his son, hoping for the best.

And like Rey, there is no questioning Leia’s confidence. I love that she’s a general. I love that she’s running the whole show. I love that she’s mellowed a little bit from fierce to kind.

More Love Letter moments. Chewbacca’s consistency , r2   waking up , and the expansive amazement of the last shot of the film. I will say time has done very well by a certain actor.

I’ve got more. I’ll think of more. But this will do for now. May the force be with us.

Trump card

Just for any supporters that might read this, it is meant as satire.

Okay. Everybody put on your tinfoil hats. The campaign does it anyway. This is what I think happened regarding the assault of the conservative female reporter by a Trump campaign staffer.

The Donald never expected to get this far. It was supposed to be a lark, another adventure to stave off his ever-present boredom. He is secretly terrified of winning.

So, late one night in a dark dark room, he and his campaign manager meet.

” I’m scared to death,”  says Donald “You’re going to have to do something really drastic. Like maybe do some damage to one of those female people. Yeah that’ll do it. Nothing else seems to work but this this will make them shut me down. Also more lawsuits , a ton of money, and then I’ll leave the campaign trail.”

“You got it sir. I’m on it.”

That’s my unsourced, unattributed, made up out of my own silly head story. And I’m sticking to it.