Sunday, October 8, 2017

I have noticed that it is women who most often attribute all their success to "God", "The Lord", "Jesus", and other deities. Men usually claim victories, even those not their own, like those of their favorite sports teams.

It is time that women give up our false humility. When we act in concert with our most Sacred Energies, we should tell these stories for all to hear. This is how sacred scriptures are written, by those who believe that the voices that guide their actions are those of The Sacred Spirit (Energy) of humanity. Until we women are willing to claim our own actions as sacred, there is no hope of humanity moving beyond blood-thirsty deities.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Blood, Bonding, and Religious Rituals

Living in South Louisiana, I have been on many plantation tours. In point of fact, my mother's sister brought her family up on a plantation owned by my aunt's husband. There were no signs of the slave quarters on the land, but there was still what was called "the big house" on the property. We were not allowed into "the big house" without adult supervision. I think I saw the inside only once.

I have toured plantation "big houses,"great and small, and have heard so many tourists saying, "I so wished I lived back then." I have often stopped to remind them that, unless they were of the wealthy class, they would not have lived like the wealthy plantation owners. I have also reminded them that there was no air conditioning back then, and there was no mosquito control.

I still live in the southeast of the United States of America, where there remains prejudice about the color of one's skin, even among people of color. The plantation tours are mostly presented as "the good old days" of our nation when "coloreds" knew their places. For this reason, I have recommended the Laura Plantation tour above the tours of the more opulent plantations. Laura Plantation preserves and explains the plight of the enslaved individuals.

Today, I toured Whitney Plantation, restored as a museum of enslaved humans.  Viewing Forrest Nash's clay replicas of enslaved children, taken from actual enslaved children's photographs, kept me on the verge of tears, even without their narratives.

On the grounds, there are several memorials to the plantation's slaves, presented much like the Vietnam Memorial walls. The big difference is that the enslaved individuals' real cultural names are not listed; neither do any of those honored on these walls have last names. There is no way for any of these names to lead to the origins of one's family.

The most heart-wrenching space was the Field of Angels, a courtyard with walls naming children who were born into and died in slavery. "The Angel" by sculptor Rod Moorhead depicts an obviously black angel cradling a baby on which the angel looks with anguish. If my heart hadn't already been broken, this would have destroyed my composure.

I look at my World Pulse sisters in Africa and I see their faces and those of their children in the faces I saw today. I read stories from my World Pulse citizen journalist sisters about human trafficking still happening on our shared earth, and I want to vomit out the evil of those who call themselves human.

I retain hope because I see my sisters of color standing up and making changes in their own areas. I remain frustrated by those who continue to follow ancient religious beliefs that adore deities with blood lust and rage against their own creations.

My greatest ambition is to bring the voices of all who live by The Sacred Spirit of responsible compassion to one conversation with those who believe in rule by fear. Bonding of Spirit is so much stronger than blood bonding or sharing of religious rituals. This is the lesson that must be taught to all who wish to be, not only homo sapiens, but fully human.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Bible and Beatings

I was taught, from before birth, that God is a jealous and vengeful father who uses brutal force as a way to keep his children in line. The early books of the Roman Catholic Bible were full of instances where the men who drew the most blood from their children were favored most by God. Abraham even assented to kill his own son as an offering to his Heavenly Father.

Our churches, school rooms, Bible, and “holy cards” were full of images of the wrath of God . We had  pictures of Jesus brandishing a whip to rid the temple of money changers.  The power and authority of God the Father was passed on to us by the priests, whom we were to call “Father” and our own male parents, uncles, grandparents, and brothers.  

Just like Abraham, males were considered immune to the rules of monogamy and chastity. The “Divine right of kings” to deflower virgins filtered from God to our male authority figures. Women were to constantly seek ways to purify themselves and their children, in order to please the fathers, both in Heaven and on earth.

According to my mother, the first time I was beaten by my male parent was at the age of nine months. Is it any wonder that I kept silent as my male parent drew blood with beating of his many other children with belts, whips, and shoes? The wrath of our mother was filtered through our male parent, adding to the wrath he already displayed.

Is it any wonder that I kept silent as my mother counted our transgressions and devised tortures, such as drinking our own urine and kneeling for several hours at a time in gravel;  reporting all her “injuries” from her children to her husband so that he could beat them into submission to her and her church.

What power did I possess to stop our male parent when he kicked my oldest brother across the room while our mother silently looked on?

Is it any wonder that I kept silent as the eldest son began to taste my feminine flesh as I slept and demand that I taste his male flesh upon my awakening?

Is it any wonder that I kept silent as the priests placed their hands and lips on private places of me and my sisters?

Is it any wonder that the full six-year-old class, including the teacher, remained silent as the “Mother Superior” and principle of our school, took down a classmate’s pants and beat his naked flesh with a yardstick, in front of the whole class?

When I did attempt to speak out, I was told that the sanctity of the family and the church were more important than the actions of any man. I was told that I was arrogant and that I had a “big mouth.” I was told that I must keep quiet about what happened in the privacy of the offices of the priests and our home.  My mother and the other mothers in the family warned that I was endangering my mother’s tenuous hold on sanity.  In short, I was told to “Shut up!”

When I became a wife, I made sure that I married a man without a violent temper. Unfortunately, he also expected me to shut up and serve him and his family and friends whatever favors they wanted.  I thought this was what a “good wife” was supposed to do, until his friends started demanding sexual favors.  I became afraid in my own home.

When I became a mother, men continued stalking me, threatening to harm my child if I didn’t succumb to the sexual demands.  My mother was sure that I was bringing these issues upon myself. I was at a crossroads where I did not know how to be an obedient wife and a monogamous marriage partner. My moods became very erratic

When I realized that I was taking my frustrations out on my small daughter, I sought counseling. The counselor, a “Christian” hospital chaplain, also thought that I should be shared in sex.  My obstetrician/gynecologist told me that I should stop thinking and take up tennis. After the birth of my second child, a son, I ran away from my husband and my mother. I had no education, no work history, and no voice, but I thought I could at least bring up my children to follow a different family design than that in which I was brought up.

Little did I know that most of the earth was still telling women to “Shut up!” Only my children were forced to hear my voice. I struggled daily with fear of my own children, as my daughter was favored by her father and my mother; and my son was a male from a family of men who acted as sexual predators. The hardest thing in parenting is knowing that one must break from the mold in which one has lived all one’s life, especially when there is no support network in place to teach a different way of working and being. Every minute of every day, I had to question my own actions.

My mother is dead, as is her husband, and our oldest brother. As a last stroke of evil against her children, our mother gave a gift of cash upon her death to one favorite child, demanding that her injustice be kept secret.  Secrets are never really safe in families.

The ongoing cycle of family favoritism and hatred is well-documented in Biblical texts, yet we continue to follow the lead of the ancestors that came to power through infidelity and brute force.  Isn’t it time that we redefine what it means to embody The Sacred Spirit upon our shared earth? Isn’t it time that we admit that violence, in any form, is anti-sacred?

Isn’t it time that we stop stooping to the paradigms of power accepted by those who were just learning what it meant to be called upon to be something more than animals? Full humans don’t act only on instinct, following the alpha members of our tribes. Full humans bond with others on earth, based on a set of social contracts that promote harmony with all on earth (in the whole universe?)

Isn’t it time that we take compassionate responsibility for ourselves, our actions, and our shared earth? To give one’s life is to faithfully serve, not to offer one’s life’s blood in one great show of martyrdom.  If we discipline ourselves, the examples we set will draw others to us. This is how we create peace on earth, one baby step at a time. Commitment in continued action is what love is really all about.

I have officially defected from the religion of my parents and have broken with all my siblings. This is the only way that the evil energy of our parents isn’t still visited upon me and my family. I have discovered that there many who want to hear my voice, and I will continue to speak out for a new way to define what it means to belong to The Sacred Universal Embodiment of Energy.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

We Are All Infinite

PeaceNext, the Facebook presence of The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, presents an organization “Faiths Against Hate.” It is my belief that hate comes from fear, and that fear has been the central power among religions for centuries. The question in my mind is, “How do we move from fear-based authority to compassionate bonding-based authority and partnerships?”

Parents do need to enforce boundaries based on our beliefs, which are enforced by our rituals. To expose our children to beliefs and practices that we don’t understand causes fear. How can we protect our children from influences that we don’t understand?

I know that many don’t believe in evolution, but I believe it is important to believe that with each succeeding generation of homo sapiens, we have passed on knowledge not available to previous generations.  Our offspring do not only absorb our animal instincts, but are also taught what we know and pass on to them. Why would we teach hate if we were not afraid of losing our children?

Understanding of each other and all that we encounter is the answer to fear. This is why I am constantly looking for common values among those who claim to be religious people. Understanding and responsible, responsive compassion is the only core of religious practice that seems to cross all ethnic and religious boundaries; the rest is divisive tribalism.

I will always be protective of the boundaries in which I am comfortable. Now that I am finished bringing up my own children, I am free to expand the boundaries in which I live. I am secure in my own values; therefore, I can freely move, without fear, among many other sets of values. My comfort with expanded boundaries creates discomfort in many of my former “tribe,” but this is not a source of discomfort for me.

I will not follow anyone or system that controls or leads with fear. I will welcome death before I accept a life of fearful submission to a jealous, angry, vengeful, or blood-thirsty figure of authority. I Am ∞ because we all are.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sacred Secrets of Love

The miracle of the relationship I share with my husband is a source of constant gratitude and amazement to me. Our life partnership is the center of our sacred space. We have lost several physical homes, but our spiritual home is in each others’ aura. Through our lives together, I have come to define “Love” as responsible and responsive compassion for another.

 The secret is that we are both totally naked emotionally.  We have been able to use the wounds in our individual spirits to find places to graft on the strength of each other.  We are truly one tree that puts out great amounts of the fruits of our combined spirits.  We are well-grounded in a community of friends who help nurture us.

The mark of a sacred love, in my opinion, is how much it branches out to shelter and feed others who come in contact with the couple.  This continued giving of ourselves requires that we set aside times to celebrate and renew the intense energy of our bond. In this manner, we assure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that nurturing and celebrating our relationship is the first priority in our ability to serve others.

Just as we do with important other people in our lives, we make appointments to be alone with each other. We honor these appointments like many honor religious gatherings or business meetings. Neither of us has any problem telling people that I have certain times set aside for our private time. He is, after all my partner in every area of my life, including financial aspects.

Success in life and love all depend on placing and honoring our priorities. Perhaps if we stopped calling each other husband, wife, father, mother, and simply called each other life and parenting partners we, and others, would take our relationships more seriously.

Would one do any less to maintain a Fortune 500 company? I think not. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Sacrament of Sustaining Life

Somehow, I'm always out of step with everyone else I know. Just as I settled into the role of dutiful wife and mother, the feminist movement came roaring through my life and the lives of all the children born to those of us wondering how to always please our husbands, our breadwinners and family protectors.

During those times, there were two opposing, equally loud, voices. One was telling us to wrap our naked bodies in clear plastic wrap and meet our husbands at the door. Another was, just as stridently, advising us that we don't need men; we can do everything important for ourselves. Both bombed in my experience.

Nobody talked about what was best for, or what would happen to, our poor children during this transition. Where were they to be when we were hopping to the door, incapacitated by plastic wrap around our bodies to our ankles, and making wild whoopee with our husbands? The woman who gave this advice must have missed the part of the cultural revolution where middle class families lost their slave-waged servants who would remove the children to the nursery when Big Daddy arrived on the home scene.

That other, a flaming feminist who told us that we didn't need men was also promoting free "love," as if there should be no emotion involved in opening our bodies to the bodies of males. I don't think she took any anthropology courses; nor do I think she understood the power of hormones over our minds. It seems to me that a great number of women, because of hormonal influences, mother anything that comes between their legs, whether going in or coming out. The only "cure" for this tendency seemed to be drugs or drunkenness, both of which anesthetized the woman enough to be oblivious to what she was doing. Sex, drugs and rock-n-roll were a substitute for automatic mothering.

Birth control and finding our own clitorises was the accepted answer to all the problems that we were told we created for ourselves by seeking out male members of our species. No pregnancies, we were told, equaled no problems. Self-induced orgasms were as good as a girl could get; no wet spots, and no need to ask a man for anything. Women worked at becoming as callous about compassion for others as were the men that we had so long criticized.

Not all was evil about this transformation of society. The children of divorce, and women without life partner parents of their children, forced the fathers of our many offspring to become something other than simply breadwinners, Our children would settle for nothing less than love from each parent. We women had to "man up" and do some of our own heavy lifting; except it took at least two of us to lift any box that we had formerly counted on one man to manage.

Our society still expected us to bake cookies, even while we were winning bread for the support of ourselves and separate households, with children in residence. The fathers of our children no longer automatically assumed that there were others to whom they could hand their children while they sought their own fulfillment devoid of emotional entanglements. We women assumed that our children would acclimate to less need of our attention.

We may not like to admit it, but heavy lifting is a big part of what life's work is all about. Even a big baby is a heavier burden than most women want to carry across a continent without some brute strength to help her. Men don't like to admit it, but baking cookies in small batches without anyone to laud you as a great chef can feel rather thankless. Male-run businesses thrive, while family life dies. The businesses overwhelmingly staffed by females, such as health care, day care, and teaching continue to be run on slave-wages. The males who actually do the heavy lifting for the big bosses continue to receive not enough pay to support themselves, much less families.

Why do we pay so much to those who pray, and so little to those who do for us as we live and die? It is a mystery to me. When will we face the fact that there is no substitute for labors of love, and that those labors should be honored with pay that adds dignity to the laborers' lives? When will we, as homo sapiens, learn that the most sacred jobs of all are the ones for which we currently pay the least? It is not a lower caste assignment to take care of the basic needs of life, in all of its manifestations.

I didn't bear children to take care of their parents, but to proceed on their own paths. While some women would prefer to sexually pleasure themselves and pick up the poop of a dog or cat for companionship while waiting for, and paying a person, to come to their aid with each heavy box that needs transport, I would rather face the possibility that I may, one day, be picking up the poop of the man who has helped me to help my children, at my request, for many years.

I know the difference between giving a hug and getting one, as do the deeper recesses of our children's spirits. I'll take my husband over a hound any day. And as for baking cookies, I believe the making of sustenance for life is the greatest sacrament of all. I never feel more like a high priestess than when in front of my stove.

Sustainers of life's positive energy, here and beyond, is the greatest blessing we can. These are the gifts for which we should be willing to most highly pay. There are more things in life that I will do for love than there are that I'll do for money, though many of these same things I did for money to show love for my children when they were my responsibility. When will we reclaim money as simply barter for labors of love for those to whom we pledge undying responsibility? When will we realize that those who share responsible compassion are the only fully human homo sapiens?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mazel Tov at Mensch Manor

We were incredibly honored by an invitation to an intimate dinner party at the home of the cardiologist who was instrumental in saving Richard's life and his wife, who plans elaborate parties for a living. They live in the home in which he was brought up, and are both devout Jews who honor all the Jewish holidays in their home. 

Juliet was brought up Roman Catholic, but converted to Judaism before marrying Moshe and combining their families. Some of their children are practicing Jews; others are not, but what they all have in common is that they all grew up in uptown New Orleans. Being a New Orleanian, raised in the heart of one of the oldest areas of New Orleans is a religion unto itself. Most people from uptown even pronounce New Orleans with three syllables, rather than the usual two used by suburbanites.

Moshe's mother, in addition to being the matriarch of her own large family, was a renowned New Orleans art critic, patron, activist, and connoisseur. The home in which Moshe and Juliet live is Old New Orleans at it's very best, showcasing some of the greatest of New Orleans artists' works. Though the children of this home are all grown, there are always people other than Moshe and Juliet in residence. Grandchildren, students seeking a warm welcome when studying in one of the nearby universities, dozens of Godchildren, and any friends who want to bring their pajamas (or not) and stay for the night.

We really didn't know what to expect when we got the invitation. We have been to dinner at their home on more than one occasion, when it was only the four of us. Mostly we've been to their home when seemingly several hundred people were dancing and partying to beat the band...often with their formal parlor turned into a bandstand. Juliet and Moshe are much younger than are we, so we have never been able to stay long enough to see the ends of the evenings, except when it has been only the four of us.  Age is not the only reason we can't keep up with them, but it makes me feel better to pretend this is so.

Juliet and Moshe simply love to celebrate the very air that they breathe, and nobody does it better, or with more variety, than they do. They simultaneously decorate their home for Hanukkah and for Christmas. I won't be surprised if we arrive one day to find Kwanzaa included in the decor and celebration, as their home, year round, Certainly exemplifies the spirit of Kwanzaa.

We found a parking spot in the very front of their home, feasting our eyes on the lights draping the iron fence and covering Moshe's treasured Sasanqua azaleas that bloom every winter here in New Orleans. I had to smell the garlands of greenery on their old brick steps' black iron banister to know that they hadn't hung real evergreen that fall apart within a week in our heat. The decorations on their door and porch welcomed us with lots of gold intertwined in the green. (Add a little purple and they will be ready for Mardi Gras.) 

We had to knock several times before Moshe, looking harried, answered the door. He apologized that we had to "act like family and hang out in the kitchen" acknowledging that were right on time, but that he could not yet offer us cocktails. Moshe is an accomplished mixologist and takes great pride in doing drinks the way the greatest bars in New Orleans do them. With the deft handwork of a surgeon, he was peeling an orange into one long spiral of skin and studding it with whole cloves.

As we passed through the dining room toward the kitchen, we were absolutely stunned by the opulent tablescape, set with green Venetian glass and gleaming gold charger plates on which were setting exquisite fine china. Candles glowed all around. I felt like we had stepped back in time to the early twentieth century in New Orleans, when servants were in abundance to cook, iron the linens, shop, cook, set the table, serve, and wash the fine crystal, china, and silver. The amazing thing is that we knew that Moshe and Juliet were doing it all, and that we were included in the small group invited to celebrate Moshe's latest success. 

It wasn't long before another couple arrived, one whom we didn't know from previous parties. They, too, were treated to watching Moshe's handwork with the orange. Moments later, Moshe called us all to follow him into the living room, where on the bar he proudly displayed a bottle of port which he had been saving for several decades and the contents of said bottle decanted into a Baccarat carafe. He announced that this was all about celebrating his recent success. 

As the third, and last, couple arrived, Moshe was ceremoniously pouring perfectly made Manhattans into the proper stemware. Juliet arrived and requested a glass of claret. We had known for months that Moshe was studying for an esoteric and new area of Cardiology care. Though he is brilliant and imminently accomplished in all he attempts, his nerves for these months were strung as tightly as piano wires. He announced that he had gotten the results and he passed, to which we all offered great sighs of relief and raised our glasses to having our friend so happy. We had never doubted his success.

The last couple to arrive, Mona and her husband Mickey have been at every function we've ever attended at this home, so they really are family. Mona took one look at the table and asked, appropriately, "Where are you putting the food?" We noshed on hors d'oeuvres in the parlor for a while, sipping and basking in Moshe's glory; then Juliet began to lay out the buffet.

As we were seated, Moshe poured both red and white wines, the Claret for some and Vouvray for others of us. He also poured water all around. Timothy, who was seated next to me, received from the hands of Juliet a bowl of freshly steamed haricot verte and what looked to be falafel patties. It seems that even vegans get what the wish for in this home.

The salad was spectacular, and had the gourmet touch of prosciutto in place of bacon bits. The sweet potatoes were firm and in a syrup that was just sweet enough; not cloying like so many sweet potatoes. The stuffed merliton was pure New Orleans goodness; I'd challenge any chef, in or out of New Orleans, to beat Juliet's version of this dish. And the crowning touch (pun intended) was the crown roast of pork with gold foil tips for the standing bones. There is nothing more elegant in presentation, in my opinion, than crown roast. The pork was slightly pink in the middle, as it should be, tender and other words, roasted to perfection. This was accompanied by a side dish of applesauce, as if it needed more embellishment.

Before we ate, there were three blessings spoken over us and the table, two in Hebrew by Moshe and one the Roman Catholic grace before meals by lifelong friend Mickey. The conversation was lively and laughter was good-natured. Any subjects that were brought up to break the mood were gently, but firmly put aside for later by Moshe. I kept waiting to see servants standing at the ready, knowing how much work went into this moment in time. 

As the dinner dishes were cleared, Juliet brought out champagne glasses and ice cream with three different toppings. While we ate ice cream, Moshe appeared with what appeared to be a small silver punch bowl and ladle. As we watched, he raised the clove-studded orange skin spiral out of the bowl, picked up the ladle and poured a liquid over the end of the spiral. Fire leapt out of the bowl and traveled up and down the spiraled skin. 

We were now witnessing the Old New Orleans performance art form of flaming desserts and coffee at table side. Moshe was using what he said used to be given to all New Orleans brides as a wedding gift, his mother's sterling silver cafe brulot bowl, and what a show he put on! The highly spirited coffee was served in fine china demi tasse cups. Timothy announced that he had enjoyed cafe brulot in several of the best New Orleans restaurants, and that this was the finest he had ever had.  It was spiced and spiked better than any I’d ever tasted.

Juliet, once again appeared from the kitchen, with yet another vintage recipe, perfectly prepared: baked in an iron skillet buttery pineapple upside down cake. We ate for hours, it seemed, but the evening was still young. The champagne flutes were filled with Veuve Clicquot, tasting to me of sparkling fresh pears, to wash down our cake before we retired to the parlor for 40 year old port and aged  Montrachet cheese and chocolate. 

It was time to bring out the parlor game that we had given Moshe and Juliet as a gift. Questions were asked and hilarity ensued while Moshe offered everyone liqueurs. I don't know when was the last time we stayed at a party this late, but the time simply flew by. One of the questions asked of Juliet was, "What is your favorite time of year?" She replied, "I love this holiday season because everyone is so nice to each other. 

Juliet and Moshe stretch this holiday season to include Hanukkah and Christmas. They then roll right into celebrating the carnival season of Mardi Gras. They do so much for so many that we were inspired, for Moshe's last birthday, to give them New Orleans style tiles saying "Mensch Manor" Their home is what humanity is supposed to be about, whether one is Jewish, Catholic or simply of homo sapiens who wish to be considered full parts of humanity.

We were celebrating Moshe, and he and Juliet were waiting on us! This was a sacrament, in my eyes. The good will we shared will be transubstantiated into good will and good works by all who were at the table and all who enter their home.

This was our Christmas dinner. Thank you, Moshe and Juliet.