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Final Word

“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” – Thornton Wilder

This is Betty’s son.

Betty Malone died unexpectedly last Tuesday. She was 56 years old.

Comments have been disabled on this blog, but an obituary with an online guestbook is here. If you like, you can make a donation in her name at BeTheMatch.org.

Thanks for reading.

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Today we live in a world where religion permeates every aspect of our lives, even if we don’t consider ourselves religious. We hear religion preached on our televisions, radios and in the million churches that dot the American landscape. Our politicians spew out their religious beliefs, avowing a faith in this God or that one. Political decisions, constitutional law and our moral compass are judged each day by people who claim religious superiority.

Yet, I would say that we live in society of scientific logos, and the myths that sustained generations upon generations of men have lost their spirit. For those of us  who believe that story and myth are a sacred heritage that still holds the power to shape the world, we are saddened when religion attempts to become logos, because we know that the Greeks had it correct.

In the premodern world the Greeks had two ways of thinking, speaking and learning. They called these two ways, mythos and logos. Logos (reason) was the everyday thinking knowledge that allowed people to function. How to hunt, prepare food, build a boat, make clothing, grow food, be safe from predators, how to conduct warfare against an enemy and how to govern a community were all excellent examples of logos knowledge. There was a constant increase in logos knowledge as man evolved into larger, more complex societies. But logos was weak without mythos knowledge to make sense of that world.

Today, we would say, that a myth is something based in fantasy. We read the Greek myths and know they are stories. But these myths were not just self indulgent fantasies. Myths weren’t simple tales about Gods and heroes, but truth presented in a way that helped the ancients deal with life and death. They were focused on the elusive, somber and often tragic elements of being human. Those of us who study mythic stories know that myths were designed to help ancient people make sense of their inner thoughts and psyche. In many ways, they were the psychological therapy of the ancient world.

But, they were never intended to be logos knowledge.  A myth was not an accurate account of a historical event but something that might have happened once and for all time continued to show a path through our souls. We each know that some of the most important knowledge we have in our psyches is how to love, how to forgive, how to be independent in thought, how to find courage, how to grow up and leave our childhood behind us and how to find a path to happiness.

How did logos and myth work together in the ancient world and why have we lost this in our modern world?  A myth would not have been effective to helping a person if they simply believed in it.  A myth  could only help humans if they took the truth of the myth and then acted upon similar events in their own life.  As writers and readers, we understand the myth of the hero. It’s a cultural tradition, found in every society throughout history. What was the goal of the myth? To help a person unlock their own heroic potential. An ancient could hear the tales of Hercules moving mountains and fighting monsters and arm themselves with that knowledge for their world.

Combining mythos knowledge of the spiritual world  and logos knowledge of the physical world enabled a young man to leave his home, in search of his own heroic self. Those ancient myths are still the backbone of any modern hero story. Luke Skywalker left his murdered family behind and charted a new course through the universe. Along the way he found companions to love and a mentor to guide him along the path. He used his logos knowledge of piloting and fighting to survive the physical challenges, but it was by facing the demons of his own psyche and fears that he found the Force within to become a hero. At the end of the sage, Luke Skywalker is a man, who has forgiven his father, saved his world, found his sister, discovered true friendship and stands prepared to face the world a stronger man, humble and brave.

From the earliest history, we see this story repeated in every culture and every religion. Early religions were about the practice of ritual that allowed a person to acquire mythos knowledge in their life. Those early rituals included such things as creating a transition between childhood and adult hood, usually around age 13. It is no coincidence that this is the age of many religious ceremonies for young people. This passage between childhood and adulthood was often marked by trials, tests of manhood, giving up of a young girls childish roles and being secluded as a woman, (often with her first sexual experience being a ritualistic one) A boy might take a journey to the mountain top, go on a large hunt for a beast to slay, or being painfully circumcised in a ritual of overcoming pain to become a man on the other side.

Our western society would look upon these rituals as primitive and unnecessary, but our adolescents often wander lost between the two worlds of childhood and adulthood because they have little and unmeaningful ritual to chart the way. We’ve tried to create graduations, or levels of learning, or getting a license to drive, or any of the more sedate modern rituals of transition for our young people. And yet we feel inside our psyches that something is missing.

Modern day religions ask us to be born again in an attempt to become a new person, a hero of our own lives. They ask us to take actions to be a good person, to slay the evil parts of our psyche and to be constantly renewed in prayer, confession and sacrifice. These are remnants of ancient mythos knowledge. But modern day religion has decided in many instances, to try and become logos knowledge.

It has taken the myths of the scriptures and attempted to squeeze it into a reason block of truth. Let’s look at the beautiful myth of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In our modern world, this story has become controversial as it appears to clash with science. For logos based thinkers who have lost touch with mythos thinking, this is a real problem. They have attempted to take an ancient myth and make it factual. But until the early modern period of history, around 1000 AD, no one would have considered the creation story to be a fact.

Read the rest of this article at Associated Content Article: The Case for God.

This essay on the amazing book by Karen Armstrong: The Case for God, is my feeble attempt to condense just the wealth of wisdom she has placed in the first two chapters! This is one book that you won’t be able to read in an afternoon, but will want to savour and think about and come back too time and time again. It is not an easy light hearted fun read, but a challenging gauntlet laid down to those of us who still cling to a belief in a God. This book asks us to consider the origins of our God and how our God can still be a valid part of modern day culture and more importantly valid to us as individual citizens in that society.

In case you can’t tell, I think everyone should read A Case for God by Karen Armstrong.

“To hear complaints with patience, even when complaints are vain, is one of the duties of friendship.” Ben Johnson.

Complaints. We know them. We hear them. We spout them. Yesterday I heard them all day long! It must have just been one of those days. Gripes, groaning, bitching, negativity moaning from everyone was the rule of the day. It permeated my environment, from little whining child up to old enough to know better grandmothers, everyone has something to complain about. By days end, I returned home exhausted and in need of hot tea, a cozy comforter and solitude.

Old Ben Johnson above says that it’s our duty to hear complaints. We are to be a shoulder to cry on, a willing vessel waiting to hold all the garbage of the world. I mean, if my best friend’s hairdresser ruined her hair, I need to listen and commiserate. And if my hairdresser got gypped by the bank, I should nod my head in appropriate sympathy. If my children call complaining that their spouse isn’t helping with the housework or my neighbor is upset over the dog who rummaged in the garbage can, it’s my duty to hear them with patience. Right?

What I wanted to do yesterday was to say, oh for God’s sake, shut up! If we really care about someone, why would we want to foist our gripes and groans about the garbage onto their backs? It’s time to get a grip on complaining, folks. Take a few minutes today to really focus on what people around you are saying.

I bet half of the conversations you hear today, will be filled with complaints about something. The weather, the economy, the President, their neighbors, wife, children, ….on and on and on. It’s as thought we are not clever enough to have any conversation unless it’s based on what’s wrong with someone or something.

I’m not saying, that we should all just suppress our every negative thought. I’m not a big fan of suppression of anything-it didn’t work out to well for the Victorians. But the petty stuff we’re often ranting about just doesn’t seem to be worth the breath it takes to spew it out. Can we just save our complaints for the important stuff? You know, like , well..like…hmm..I’m sure there something important we should complain about. Maybe..

I do think rant and rave is necessary occasionally. I mean, the crap does pile up. So, instead of never ending gripes and moans, how about a ten minute once a week Rant and Rave.  Be creative with your rants. Warn others around you that you’re ranting right now and it won’t last long. Ask their forgiveness ahead of time. You know..like, “Hey, I just need to let off some steam. Don’t mind me. Don’t pay any attention. Don’t think you have to fix it, or help me. I’m just fed up and need to scream. Then do it. Run amok!  Write a hateful letter full of curse words and then tear it up. Say the meanest things you can come up with about your awful sister in law, but not to her, to the dog!

Who knows, if you’re funny enough and loud enough, you just might end up on the stage as a late night comedian. Or..writing an article for Associated Content bitching and moaning about bitching and moaning.      My, I feel much better already!  I think I can tackle that tender topic of how to construct a Christmas wreath.

Of course, we can also look at complaining like Audre Lourde did. “I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I’ll be sending messages on a Ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side”    I like that idea  too, for all those people we didn’t want to yell at when we were alive.

I’m making a list.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how homeschool children are acquiring their worldview and how slanted that can be when it’s only their parents controlling the input of information that forms such worldview.

For some parents, that’s good news.  But more and more, I’m inclined to fear that fact. For when we have children being taught by parents who present only one possible version of the “truth” and that no other “truths” exist in the world except that one narcissistic understanding then how can society hold itself together. When the marketplace of competing ideas is not free and open, then can real freedom exist and thrive?

I’ve thought about how we taught history to our five children and how each of them have acquired a slightly different version of the “truth”. Well, not slightly, in some cases completely opposing views! But for the most part, they hold true to this one thought.

As a world we must respect and seek out other truths and continue to weigh our worldview and our assumptions against new evidence and new thought. And that to me, seems to be what learning should always be.

And yet, the evidence provided me recently, seems to be slanted not in the favor of fundamentalist homeschoolers or even far left liberals, both of whom seem guilty of claiming, only one truth as the worldview we must form all decisions against. It is nothing or all for both sides. And those sides continue to dominate our decision making process.

The health care debate in the Senate and the vote being made today hinge on compromise but has too much been compromised in either direction?  Are we left holding a bag of worms sown by the margins on either side of this issue? We wait to see what vote Senator Olympia Snow from Maine, is going to cast today. Will she make or break this healthcare reform bill? And is it so far from what will be in the best interests of Americans that more of us are rooting for its failure than for it?

I hate that word phrase – the political spectrum – as though it were a scientific scale that correctly assigns value to people all across America, based on idealogical beliefs.

Homeschoolers are heavily weighted on the right side of that scale and recent comments made to this author personally let her know that she is in the minority view amongst home educators. That’s okay, but what isn’t okay, is the virulent remarks I hear come from the mouths of babies. Okay, perhaps not babies, but young men and women in junior high and high school who are being spoon fed the “truth” by parents who allow no debate or even willingness to look at the opposing viewpoints. I’m not going to present an opposing viewpoint to them. It’s not done in home education. I respect that, but who is giving them any other information that would allow them to form their own worldview based on lots of input, not just one channel, the Fox channel.

Opposing viewpoints, the dinner table at our house always rang with them. Young men and women, all five of ours, competing to see who could present their case, their argument for their idea of what the truth might be. And where did they get their background information?

They read and studied history from the beginning of history and prehistory. They read literature, political opinion, talked with their dad, worked on campaigns, discussed the growth of liberalism and why this concept should be understood in the 20th century. They know the difference between true socialism, communism, dictatorships and republican democracies and they know that the United States in modern times is an evolving breed of government that isn’t clearly defined yet, but borders more on the democratic socialism  model at this time in history based on decisions made by 20th century Congresses.

Because home education extends beyond the borders of your home, and mine, begin at the beginning of history. And study it with them to see that our country is a work in progress and we are far from finished. The doomsayers from either side are afraid and spread their fear to all of us it. It’s contagion and we catch it and we give in to the sky is falling ranting.

But, the serious student of history knows that governments, religions, rulers and movements rise and fall, and the slow steady march of history moves on. There are serious decisions to be made right now, today in the Senate of the United States of American. And there are serious decisions to be made today in the homes of the children in these United States. Are you brainwashing your child with your truth or allowing the freedom of learning to flourish in your home?

I can hear the gasps of indignation now. Remember this, truth stands up to the light of history and time. And if you are afraid that words, discussion, and reading will change your child’s mind on your worldview, then how strong is your worldview and how good is it? Don’t be afraid to learn something new and be open to the fact that what we believe now, was once heresy to someone else.

Begin at the beginning

The Glove is Thrown

President Barack Obama has thrown down the gauntlet at the United Nations and now we shall see who really is our ally in the world and what countries just want us to bear the burden of not only policing the world but saving it from a wide variety of perils.

He spoke on Tueday, the 22nd , on the subject of the environment and news reports painted his speech as disappointing to those individuals, organizations and countries who wanted to see the United States become more proactive in reducing green house gases and other controversial environmental issues. He failed in their opinion to make the US the leaders in this fight on global climate change.

Today, September 23, he delivered a stern ultimatum to the world that the United States was not willing nor able to carry the weight of the world on American shoulders. In his words, “ “Make no mistake: this cannot solely be America’s endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.”

Read more of his remarks here.

In President Obama’s first address to the United Nations in New York, he addressed the many challenges that face the world and the need for cooperation amongst all countries to solve them. He highlighted Iran and North Korea’s nuclear intentions as part of the major problems facing the global community. “Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world,” Obama said. “Protracted conflicts that grind on and on. Genocide and mass atrocities. More and more nations with lnuclear weapons, melting ice caps and ravaged populations. Persistent poverty and pandemic disease.”

To solve these dire problems, the President call for four fundamental solutions; “non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, the promotion of peace and security, the preservation of our planet, and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people.”

It remains to be seen if the President’s call for engagement by other world leaders will be heard or ignored. But there remains little doubt that he has clearly enunciated that the United States will not be held responsible for the success of the world alone.

Of course, his critics will find some reason that this speech is the wrong message to send at this time, but for many Americans who are are increasingly skeptical about America’s ability to be the world’s policing agent, it’s a message that should resound as fair. The President does not say, we will not be involved, we will not help or even that we won’t continue to lead on issues, but he does say, we expect others to be involved.

Sounds fair to this American. Now let’s see who tries to hit him over the head with a lead pipe, because we all know, there’s little fairness in the world. Leap pipe analogy stolen from JJ and Nance at Parent Directed Education. 🙂

How do I feel about the public option in the health care debate?

I know how absolutely sick of the subject of healthcare reform we all are. Well, I know how sick I am of the subject, but I can’t help remembering something I heard Gloria Steinem say in an interview once. She was talking about the radical feminist movement and how some of the early leaders in that movement were almost consumed by the battle. She talked about how women like Betty Friedan and Angela Davis were feared by men and women who saw in their “radical feminism” something to be afraid of, a woman in touch with her own humanity and refusing to believe the myths and lies that society had fed them for so many years. Ms. Steinem was also referring to the “bra burner” feminists, the women libbers, and the other derogatory remarks made by opponents of the feminist movement.

Ms. Steinem made the point that no bras were ever burned, that it was a myth created by the news media inadvertently when a reporter saw women tossing their bras into a trash can and somehow confused that with draft cards being burned and combined the two to create bra burning women gone mad. It was an image that stuck in our minds. Society “radicalized” those early second wave feminists and turned them into symbols of mockery, even labeling them “demonic”. The Jeremiah Project online still glories in this demonizing, calling feminist women, Jezebels and claiming that the feminist movement is sinful, from the devil, with at its core, a secret  goal to destroy America.

Ms. Steinem, one of those radical feminists, said, “I knew we wouldn’t pass the ERA amendment, but I knew we had to be radical to get our point across.” As I listened to her talk, I thought she’s right,  because no change ever occurs without someone rebelling first and leading the charge with radical ideas, radical thought and radical action.

Every social justice movement of our time began with radical ideas, radical thought and radical actions and then somewhere after the radical movement burned out, real change occurred. It’s as though we must have the pump primed first. We watched the civil rights movement erupt into fires in the cities, riots, and rage and then  we slowed down and we began to think about what we had seen, those radical actions that had scared us so much, but sure got our attention. And then, our leaders, even George Wallace, began to think about why we might need to change the laws of our land. We began to see the pain of the victims of racial injustice. We really saw..with our hearts and minds the need to change.  The radical thinking of Malcolm X sure got our attention and the sweet calm face of Rosa Parks brought it home.

We changed. Our entire country changed and we’re still changing on the race issue, but we know now that it’s shameful to be a racist. We scorn people who use racial epithets, on both sides of the race card. Americans are no longer racist to the core.

We scorned the women who led the feminist movement of the 60 and 70’s, but yet they changed us. They changed our lives. Hell, they changed mine! And despite the ravings of people who agree with the Jeremiah Project, most of us know that a girl born in the United States today, can pursue whatever dream she chooses and that our society will support her. Athelete, politician, leader, scientist, doctor, American women are among the freest in the world, thanks to Gloria Steinen and her radical feminist allies. We don’t want their brand of feminism. We don’t hate men, or want to all become lesbians! But we owe them for their radical thinking.

You ask me what this has to do with the current hot rhetoric surrounding the healthcare debate in our country and whether we are ready to embrace the “radical” idea of a public option in the healthcare reform. And I would say, that it’s too radical right now and the hate and scorn we see tossed at our President and those Americans who do endorse a public option as part of healthcare reform if part of the backlash against what they perceive as “radical action” by our government.

But I would say, that is was radical to think about desegregating our schools. It was radical to think about a Voting Rights Act. It was radical to think about letting women vote back in the early 20th century. It was radical to think about providing social security for our seniors. It was radical to think about medicare for our seniors. It was radical to think about women getting paid the same amount as men. It was radical to fight for girls to play sports in their schools. It’s always been too radical to make the change we need to improve society.

And while it might be too radical for some Americans to understand, the need to make sure that Americans join the rest of the civilized world in insuring adequate healthcare for every citizen, is a radical idea whose time has come.

I’m not going to burn my bra, or torch my social security card, or carry a banner claiming that the opponent is the Devil or a Communist Hitler, but I am going to stand and say, that we need to pass the Healthcare Bill coming out of Congress now, without it’s public option, with the sure understanding that it may be too radical now. But it won’t in the near future,

Americans will begin to calm down from their radical fear and realize that the sky hasn’t fallen on their heads and that as always, we continue to progress down a path toward a more just society for all of our citizens, Christians, Muslims, women, children, the rich, the poor, and you and I.

Who is the terrorist amongst us?  Barack Obama,  Jesus Christ or you?

Many, perhaps just some, Americans are shocked by the outburst of Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina during President Obama’s address on healthcare to a joint session of Congress. Hearing the Congressman shout, “You lie!” to the rightful and freely elected President of these United (or un-united) States of America is abominable, appalling and repulsive. We shake our heads in disgust at such unmannerly conduct by an elected Congressman who serves as a representative of the people.

And yet, to some, many Americans, Congressman Joe Wilson is a courageous figure. He has spoken their truth, their beliefs that our President is a liar, a fraud, an imposter, the stuff of conspiracy theorists and talk show hate. They are sickened by what they perceive to be his guile, his ineptness, his resemblance to Hitler and Stalin, his political cronies and terrorist buddies. They want him to go away and the worst of them have even called for his death, if need be.

And this, my friends, is our America, our beloved land of the free and home of the brave. On this day, September 11, 2009, we supposedly stand shoulder to shoulder in remembrance of those who died in New York 8 years ago. We all recall where we were and what we were doing, the sickening images, the fear that gripped us, the heartbreak and tears.

Like many of you, I remember crying, huddled on the couch with my two precious daughters. I had called one of the home from work. She was a college student working at the airport in Indianapolis and I made her leave work and come home instantly. I told her to just tell her supervisors she was leaving because her mother said she had too. The fear was so immense, that our entire country would crumple or face invasion by a foreign enemy, these unknown, unseen Muslim terrorists.

And so our long national and international conversation on what constitutes terrorism and who exactly is the enemy began. Unfortunately, along the way, Americans have cast each other as the enemy. We point our fingers of shame and blame at each other, at our government, at the media, at politicians and now at our President. He is the evil one, the unknown, the communist, socialist boogey-man who will destroy us if we allow him. The evil plot thickens in our mind, from the shadowy figures of 9/11 have arisen the deadliest enemy of all, our own deeply buried prejudices and nationalistic pride.

We have placed the deaths of those 3000 plus Americans on 9/11 onto an altar of our own despair. We have elevated them above all other lives on this planet and deemed their deaths more important than the deaths of Iraqi and Afghanistani children. And worse yet, we as a country have become haters similar to the ones who attacked us on 9/11 8 years ago.

I know this is a popular view to take. Each side have claimed 9/11 as their monument to their own perverted world view. Left or right, Republican or Democrat we draw on our weapons and kill each other with words of scorn and derision. We hate each other, the enemy we perceive to be within, our own citizens, on opposing sides of almost every issue these days.

We have cast Jesus and His loving faith and walk as the champion of gunslingers and hate mongerers. We have cast Barack Hussein Obama as the champion of socialism and communist take-overs. We have cast our gay neighbors as the portenders of doom for marriage and family. We have cast Christians as hate bringers instead of light bearers.

And who are we to believe on this beautiful blue and green September day, September 11, 2009?

I do not know who the liar is amongst us? I think perchance that all of us are times, locked in our own entrenched passionate angry fearful belief systems. And in that sentence, it the main reason we have reached this point in our democracy. Fear.  9/11 brought the ultimate fear to our shores and we have allowed it to grow and flourish and we have claimed that fear as our national legacy.

It has replaced baseball as our national game. We are afraid of each other, of our varying beliefs, of our melting pot heritage. We are afraid of our Muslim neighbors and our black or white neighbors. We want to lock down the borders, and load up our guns to keep the enemy at bay, because we are so afraid of the unknown, this strange future that seems to be overtaking us faster than we can adapt.

“”For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you should eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?” (Matthew 6:25-27)

Was Jesus lying when He told us this above?

Is our President lying when he talks of his desire to serve the American people? Was he lying when he placed his hand on the Lincoln Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution of the United State of America?

Am I lying when I say I want Americans to love each other and look for the good and not the enemy within?

Are you lying when you passionately defend your beliefs?

Isn’t it time we left the fear behind and began to look at each other through the hopeful American eyes of our founding fathers, who knew and created a document to rule over us that would allow for change to happen, would allow for us to grow and adapt as a people. They did not create a rigid set of laws with no flexibility for difference of opinions or religion or lifestyle or freedom to be uniquely who we are. They knew is all their wisdom that America could be the best hope for a free society of individuals dedicated to the principle that all men (and women!) are created equal, that we  are endowed with our Creator with so many gifts.

On this 9/11, I remember what we were before that first 9/11 and I shall strive to stop being afraid of my fellow countrymen who beliefs are so vastly different than mine, yet we hold this in common. We do love our country and it’s idealistic possibilities.