Discussion Closed

Maybe I've had a rough week.  Or two.  Maybe how I'm feeling now is real and it's all the other times when I'm busy with busy-ness that I don't think properly.

I see a day when I won't be allowed to be a Christian.  In my lifetime.  Already, I am not allowed to believe what I believe.  Apparently, I, and my fellow conservative Christians, are prejudiced on the scale of the KKK for believing that marriage is for one man and one woman.  That is what I believe the Holy Bible teaches.  But then also, I see a dismissal of the Bible as some random book that Christians use to justify our hate.  Sure, that's been done in the past, the present and I'm sure will in the future.  For every and any Belief structure.  Ever.  Not just Christian.  But I am starting to see a dismissiveness about the Bible, that frankly I don't see about the Qur'an, the I-Ching, the Tripitaka.

Maybe because in our country, we have a Christian heritage, and there have been so many Christians in our paths that have disappointed or disgusted us.  Because we went to Catechism as children, we think we know what Christianity is about.  Or we see the radio or tv personality that spends a little too much time talking about homosexuals and not enough about the thousands of other topics we could grow in.  And I'm sorry for the spewing they have done.  The public shame and hatred.  So maybe it's the ole "familiarity breeds contempt."

Maybe we paint ourselves as closed-minded because we have a set of beliefs. And we paint ourselves as hypocritical because we can't follow our beliefs.  I know I can't follow what I know.  I can't even follow a diet.  Our worst offense, I think, is that we don't "accept all faiths."  (Although some Christians do.) I'm not even sure what that means.  If you are of a religion that doesn't believe Jesus is the Savior, how can you be accepting of Christianity?  If you're a Jew and you marry a Christian, how can you accept a religion that is waiting for the Messiah and one that already has one?  Unless of course, nobody really believes any of it.  Or.  You're constantly doing the figurative cocktail party version of religious dialogue.  You know,

"How's Ramadan going?"
"Oh fiiiin fine.  And your prayer wheels?"
"Oh great.  Couldn't be better.  Good seeing you!"
"Good seeing you, too."

I see a day coming when this country will join the approximately 40 countries where being Christian is not allowed.  Wait.  Let me be specific.  There are some countries where you are actually not allowed to be Christian or you'll be jailed, tortured and/or killed (Arabia, Iran, Mauritania.)  There are others where you can live there as a Christian, but puts severe restrictions (Algeria, Indonesia.)  You can have a Bible, but not in the native language.  You'd be jailed and/or killed.  And then there are countries where you are technically allowed to be a Christian, worship and talk about it but the persecution ranges from pressur to abandon it to attacks and killings (Nigeria, Laos, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Nepal.)

I don't think I'll ever be jailed or tortured for being a Christian here in the US, but I won't be allowed to maintain my religion without being ridiculed and labeled "hateful."  Oh wait.  That's already happening.


A Good Person

We all want our villains to look mean and nasty and our nice guys to, well, seem nice.

When I was in grad school, our class went for a summer studio in Spain.  One young woman met some American boys and went off to an island for the weekend.  (I think I've told this story before.)  Some of us less adventurous asked her if she wasn't scared?  Her answer, was "They were really nice and they were American!"

Do I have to spend any bloggy real estate to explain why that statement is completely stupid?

I thought not.

It reflects, though, what many of us think, that we can tell if someone is wicked or not.  A Good Person  doesn't do Bad Things.  If they do, they get put in the other column and become a Bad Person.

Except that they do.

A Good Person might snitch some supplies from the office closet.  Or let a friend get involved with someone they knew was mentally ill.  Or forget a friend's birthday.  A Good Person might get themselves in trouble at the investment bank and try to hide the tremendous losses.  And these people might look very much like your dad, your neighbor, even you.

A Good Person might not report a crime.  A big crime.  Over decades.  While simultaneously doing lots of Good Things; working hard, honestly, giving to good causes.  This person is being discussed in two ways, both, I believe erroneous:

A.  He is now a Bad Person and everything he did was Bad.  Nothing he did in his life matters anymore because he did this very Bad Thing.
B.  Yes he did a Bad Thing but he did so much Good so let's cool our jets.

The first point of view demands that we paint him only as a villain.  The serpent.  The Joker.  The evil nemesis.  B. wants us to whitewash the Bad, as if his Deeds, his Works atone for the Bad, like a global tally sheet.  The fact of the matter is, Joe Paterno, like all of us, was Good and Bad.  The Bad choices he made do not get a reprieve because of all the Good things he did.  The Bad Thing remains objectively Bad whether committed by Adolph Hitler, The Buddha, or a beloved football coach. 

Most of us live unremarkable lives, doing seemingly unremarkable good - being kind to a neighbor, loving our children, doing an honest day's work.  But if we're honest, we live doing unremarkable bad - yelling our our kid, rolling our eyes about our in-laws, cursing out the other driver.  Were I to see that shower?  I know without a doubt, I would have tackled that guy and pulled the boy out.  No doubt.  But in humility and truth, I can't say I'm a better person than McQueary or Paterno.  At the same time, I have no scruples saying that wickedness won here.

In the end, maybe none of us are Good or Bad, but Human, capable at times of doing Good and too often capable of doing Bad.


On Losing My Mother

My mother died in 1987.  As that time came back, I slowly remembered it was July.  I remembered it was hot; that I had to get there in a hurry.  Late July, I think.  It's July again, but 2012.  I do the math and, slowly, realize it's been 25 years.

25 years.

They waited for me to get there - Korea - from Boston.  That I should see her and say my goodbye.  But I couldn't.  When I got there, to their living room and saw the small, simple casket, I couldn't see her.  I couldn't stand the notion of someone lifting the lid.  My aunt encouraged me to see her; that it was important to fully understand that she was gone.  The man from the funeral home was there, ready to lift that lid.  But I still couldn't.  I collapsed on my dad's shoulder and begged him not to open it.  For me, I had no trouble fully understanding that she was gone.  That she was in that box, for 3 warm monsoon days, waiting.  Forever.

My good friend just lost her dad.  She is 42.  An adult. A grown-up.  Maybe it hurts more the more memories you've chalked up; the deeper understanding you have of what it is to lose a parent.  I was 27.  I don't know if it hurts less or more.  Not that it really matters.

I flew back, went through my days competently.  I had to find a job, and I did.  I interviewed well, showed up on time, did a good job.  But emotionally, I was needy and behaved inappropriately, blind to others' needs, blind to my own deficiencies.  I'd fall asleep in my new apartment, in my new bed, having put in a full day at my new job.  But every night, as if a clapping thunder had awoken me, I'd sit up in bed, my heart pounding, a dreaded sense hovering over my stupor.  Every night, for years. 

At some point, I no longer woke with a pounding heart or a sense of dread; I simply awoke.  At 11, 12, 2, 3.  For over 20 years.  I don't know if it had simply become habit or what.  I still have trouble sleeping.  Someone suggested that if I worked hard all day, I wouldn't have trouble sleeping at night.  Circumstances are such that I no longer have to see that person.  It's a good thing, too.

I was 27.  Just out of graduate school, embarking on a career.  I'd guess my mom would have been proud of me.  I don't know.  I do know that I never had the chance to get to know her as a grown-up.  Maybe 27 seems plenty old to some of you readers, but I know how young I was, how much I needed to grow, indeed, how much I would grow.   In painful ways I never wanted to.

A year or two before she died, she had a choice to go on vacation, or fly me to Korea to see her.

She chose the vacation.

I think the hardest part was growing up and realizing that I was not the most important thing in her life.  That by my mom and dad moving to Korea, not only did I lose my physical home, but I also lost my psychic dwelling.  I slowly came to realize the existential loneliness that philosophers over the ages have contemplated.  I.  I alone.  Separate and independent from my mother. Where do I dwell?

I sought a home at my brothers'.  At an aunt's.  At friends'.  All of them were fraught with awkwardnesses not of their doing, but as circumstances of our days.  Who could I turn to that was completely and totally on My Side?  Where could I "let my hair down" and rest?

In the letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

And there I dwell and hope to, the rest of my days.


Fashion Friday: Summer Dresses

95.  101.  91. 84. 83. 84. 81. 88. 88.
Temperatures for the near future here.

There's nothing more comfortable than a cool casual dress in this warm weather.  Nothing to bunch up.  Anywhere.  And as I've gotten older and wider, shorts don't flatter me as well.  So I really splurged and bought several dresses to carry me through these warm days.

The criteria for me, are as follows:
1.  Sleeveless.  [Did I say it's HOT??]
2.  No layering required.  [Did I say it's HOT??]
3.  Does not show panty lines.  [I know that there are women of a certain age who would GASP at the notion of a lady not wearing a slip but well...did I say it's hot??]
4. Wash-n-wear.
5.  Last but not least, modestly priced.  I'd even say inexpensive.

Hey, remember this post from last year about what to wear for the Fourth of July?  This is what I wore to watch the Fourth of July parade:

I was the red to my boys' white and blue:

It looks bit dressy, I admit, but it is really a simple take-off on the t-shirt dress.  Red cotton jersey dress by Andrea Jovine, gold and linen ballet flats by Ann Klein Sport, both purchased at Marshall's.  The dress is snug at the top, with an empire waist and a skirt that billows away from my body but is cinched with the band at the bottom to give it a modern twist.  The satin gold necklace is from Hallmark (yes, as in cards,) and gold drop hoops by JLo.

The next dresses are all in great patterns that do wonders for hiding problem areas and meeting criteria #3. 
What I wore yesterday:

Jewel-tone paisley dress by moa moa [sold at better department stores, but I got at a thrift store.] Handmade geometric earrings from a boutique, chain mail necklace from Charming Charlie's.  Jeweled "Nora" sandals by Mia.

Here are two more I got also from Marshall's:

And here are a couple of outfits I put together from Polyvore. They can be really simple [as long as they FIT well] and you can jazz them up with colorful sandals or even flip-flops and a fun tote:

Summer Dress Block

Fun summer backpack to go with anything! From Target.

Summer Dress Gray

Summer Dress Green

Summer Dress Green by blackbeltoma featuring rhinestone shoes

Whatever your style, you can find summer dresses to keep you feeling COOL and looking HOT!