Saturday, March 31, 2018

Rampaging vegans who post on threads about bacon...

Full disclosure.  I actually kind of admire vegans for being able to enjoy a meat free diet.  I wish I could be more like them.  I think it's cool that they are so ethical and health conscious.  What I don't think is cool is when they decide to preach to other people about their dietary choices.

Last night, a friend of mine posted the following picture, which appeared on The Humor Train's Facebook page.

Personally, my vote would go to either three or four.  I don't like really crispy bacon.

You would think a thread like this would attract just the people who actually enjoy bacon.  I know when I see anything about mushrooms, especially if there is a picture, I hide it.  But no... this photo was an invitation for a bunch of vegans to come out and spread their humorless sanctimony to the masses.  I must admit, some of the responses from meat lovers were rather interesting and many were flat out hilarious.  There are too many to share in this post.  

Here are a few choice shaming comments from vegans...

I bet none of you have ever had tofu.. the first time I had it I hated it.. but it wasn't prepared properly.. When it cook right it take on the flavour of the spices etc that you use.. and the best part is, that no innocent animal has to die.

Tofu isn’t a living sentient being... pigs are more intelligent than dogs. Eating pigs cause obesity, heart disease, it’s a CLASS #1 carcinogenic that has been proven by the WHO to cause cancer, and many other nasty health issues. Why are we feeding this to our families again?

The perfect bacon is number “0”. No animal needs to suffer and die for us to enjoy food or be healthy. Get some veggie bacon instead. All the crisp, smoke, texture, etc. None of the torture, carcinogens, cholesterol, or other nasty stuff.

There is no reason to be consuming or creating bacon. The only reason to be doing so is if you are in support of and love abusing others. This is sick, this is wrong and any clear headed individual knows this to be fact.

none of them because that's a murdered innocent pig. sick minded people on here debating what one is "perfect" y'all are a bunch of psychopaths. enjoy the diseases that happen because of animal based eating (type 2 diabeties, cancer, heart disease)

Look... I get that vegans are passionate about their cause.  I even admire their cause.  But what the hell are they doing on a page called The Humor Train?  Most of them had nothing to add but doom and gloom about cancer, diabetes, and cruelty.  
But then... we had a comment from an abortion activist.  There's one in every crowd!  This person was a male, by the way.  He'll never need an abortion. 

funny how people will cry and complain about a pig being slaughtered for bacon. But yet will sit back and say absolutely nothing when MILLIONS OF BABIES ARE BEING KILLED EVERY YEAR. for no reason. Shame on you!

Some of the meat lovers responded with humor.  Some with indignation.  My comment was simple.  I posted "Life is 100% fatal for EVERYONE... including vegans."

I think people should enjoy their time on Earth.  If that means you end up with a chronic disease due to your lifestyle choices, maybe some scintilla of that memory will stay in your head for the next go round.  That is, of course, if there's such a thing as reincarnation, which there probably isn't.  I'm not sure what happens when a person dies.  My guess is that there's a lovely show and a rush of endorphins as the lights go down.  That might explain why both my grandmother and my dad had big smiles and looks of amazement on their faces as they passed the bar.

I have kind of a bad attitude about living anyway.  I figure the less time I spend down here, the better it is for everybody.  So I'll keep eating bacon and drinking beer until it's time to be beamed up out of here. Rampaging vegans can go sit and spin.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Something I will never experience...

There's a lot I could write about today.  Just off the top of my head, I can think of three news stories that I could opine about on my blog.  But for some reason, I don't feel inspired to write about those things.  It's probably just as well, since those topics are probably already being covered by bloggers ad nauseam.  And I don't have that many readers, anyway.

Today, I think I will write about something I will never experience...  and that thing would be motherhood.  One YouTube channel I follow is Don't Trust the Rabbit, which is run by a very attractive German woman named Trixi.  On her main channel, Trixi mostly talks about German culture and language, as well as what it's like to live with her boyfriend, who is a Spanish speaker.  Trixi also has another channel called TrixiRabbit, which features more personal content.

Trixi just had another baby... a second girl.

I've been wondering when Trixi was going to introduce her followers to her new baby.  In late February, she posted a video about how the baby could arrive any day.  It turned out the new one arrived on March 11th, which happens to be Bill's ex wife's birthday.

Trixi is a very considerate mom, not even telling her viewers what her daughters' names are and referring to them as "rabbits".  She hides her children's faces because she says they aren't old enough to consent to being on camera.  Her videos are always very well done.  She speaks fluent English and is obviously interested in different languages and cultures.  For instance, she recently posted a video about teaching her older "rabbit" German, English, and Spanish.  She did another one about the many different German dialects.  

This kid is growing up trilingual. 

This is probably the first video I ever watched by Trixi.  It's pretty awesome.  Even my German friends were impressed.

Anyway... as I was watching Trixi's most recent video, the one she posted about her latest addition, I couldn't help but listen to her talk about the extreme love she feels for her children and the many different emotions that she's experienced since she gave birth.  Although the idea of giving birth sounds painful and traumatic to me, I can't help but feel a twinge of envy when I hear new moms talk about the extraordinary love they feel for their babies.  I wonder what my child would have been like.  I wonder if I would be as dedicated as Trixi is, or if I would have ended up more like my mom, who was more of the free range parenting ilk.    

I have heard Bill talk about what it was like for him when he became a dad.  Although he was not allowed to be there for his kids as they were growing up, he was very involved with them when they were very young.  He took almost exclusive care of them when they were in diapers.  While many would tell me that he's exaggerating, I know my husband and I know he's very much a caretaker.  I don't think he's exaggerating at all.  His ex wife may have breastfed her children, but I'm certain she left everything else up to her husbands.  And then, when things invariably fall apart, the then ex husbands are no longer good enough to be involved with their kids.

I, of course, will never experience motherhood.  It's taken me a long time to come to grips with that reality.  Sometimes I wonder why this is a reality in my life.  Why is it that negligent, abusive, shitty people like Bill's ex wife can get pregnant at the drop of a hat, but so many decent people have fertility problems?  For a long time, this question gave me a lot of grief, but now that I'm solidly halfway through my 40s, I think I've come to terms with it.

But then I hear Trixi talk about her new baby and I feel a little sad that I will not experience being a mother.  Hell, I married a man with daughters and I was denied the chance to even be a stepmother, which I doubt any girl grows up hoping to be.

I am generally a pretty candid person.  I have talked and written about these feelings before.  Many times, people have made unhelpful comments like suggesting adoption or mentoring.  Not to put down anyone who adopts a child... I truly think that's an amazing thing to do.  However, for many reasons, adoption just isn't something I've ever felt called to do.  Moreover, it's not as simple or easy to adopt as some people seem to think it is.  And mentoring isn't really the same as mothering, either. Even if I wanted to "mentor", I'd have to find a kid who was both interested in being mentored by me and had parents who would be alright with it.  Not every parent is as laissez-faire as mine were.  Mine were fine with almost anyone who wanted to influence me... including some people who really should not have had access.

This year, Easter falls on April Fool's Day.  Every year, at least one person posts this helpful "meme" on Facebook.

To be honest, I don't really get too upset when people claim to be pregnant on April Fool's Day.  Even though infertility has been an issue for Bill and me, I'm not offended when people joke about being pregnant when they aren't.  I don't see it as a personal attack.

Actually, I'd say that I'm more offended by dumb comments about how I could still become a mother than I am about April Fool's pregnancy jokes.  It's annoying to me when someone asks me why I haven't trotted down to the local orphanage and picked up a baby or why I'm not willing to adopt foster kids who are dying for a home.  I don't think guilting people who suffer from infertility is helpful for anyone.  Children in foster care need parents who are up to the challenge.  I don't think I am.  Maybe that means I wouldn't be up to the challenge of raising my own baby, either.  At this point, it's kind of water under the bridge, anyway.

And no, it's not true that God "gifts" righteous people with children.  I hate it when people like the Duggars talk about how children are "gifts" from God.  It's a very insensitive thing to say because so many good people struggle with infertility.  They shouldn't be made to feel like they're being punished by God. 

I think I'm mostly over not being a mom... but then I watch people like Trixi with their babies and I feel a little sad because so many people went into the making of me and when I die, that line will be discontinued.  On the other hand, maybe it's for the best.  I feel like my birth was kind of a big cosmic joke, anyway.  My own parents told me many times that my birth was an accident.  I think I would want to carry on my "line" less for my sake and more for Bill's.  Because he IS a good dad and he missed out on raising his daughters.

Speaking of his daughters... he heard from the younger one yesterday.  She was thanking him for sending her a lot of information on internships.  Younger daughter's husband is about to finish his college degree and needs an internship, so Bill sent information about ones offered by his employer, as well as his former employer.  Younger daughter thanked Bill profusely for the help and said, "This really means a lot to me."  I have a feeling it means a lot to her because her other parent did very little to help her launch into adulthood and even went out of her way to sabotage her.  I've spent a good portion of my marriage disliking Bill's daughters for the way they've treated Bill, but I have to admit that I really respect his younger daughter for her ability to escape her mother.  She's clearly gutsy and resourceful.

Anyway, Bill wrote back that he wanted them all to be happy and successful.  He's also still holding out hope that he can eventually reconnect with his older daughter.  I know Bill loves his daughters and hopes he can reestablish contact with them.  Bill now has a grandson that may even get to know him.  Sadly, I feel very disconnected from Bill's offspring.  They aren't really my family; I just married their dad.  But I am genuinely happy for Bill that he can be there for his kids now.  Maybe some day, they will feel more like my family, too.

So those are my thoughts this fine spring morning.  Thank God it's Friday, although thanks to Easter, it'll probably be a dull weekend.  We'll see.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The crying pastor... or, I fell down another rabbit hole...

Yesterday, I became aware of yet another "pastor" out there who was "up and coming" and is now disgraced.  I found out about Greg Locke and his church, Global Vision Bible Church (GVBC), when I read an article shared by the God page about how Locke slut shamed Stormy Daniels and then got thoroughly schooled by a Catholic Priest.  When I read the first article, I thought it was going to be another piece about right wing jerks claiming to be pastors and not actually knowing the Bible.  But it turns out Locke's business is more sinister than his simply being a jerk.

WokeSloth is a page that "God" has been sharing a lot from lately.  Its writers generate content based on other people's content.  I'm familiar that process, since a lot of my own content comes about that way.  Hell, some people reach this blog because some of my posts have been linked to Wikipedia or other popular pages.

Aww... poor baby.

I've found that a lot of people don't click the links within articles.  Most people read something and move on, not digging deeper.  I, for one, like to follow links because they often lead to greater understanding and context.  Such was the case yesterday, when I read about how Locke called Stormy Daniels a "hooker" and reminded everyone that Donald Trump is still the president.  This so-called pastor apparently forgets that Jesus Christ spent a lot of time with prostitutes.  Moreover, Daniels is not actually a hooker.  She's an adult film star.

In any case, Locke posted this on Twitter.

This Tweet garnered a lot of responses, including the one below from a Jesuit Priest...


I don't know what prompted me to keep looking, but I clicked a link within the Woke Sloth article and ended up on a site called Pulpit & Pen, which posted a detailed article about the type of person Locke really is.  There was a video from CNN showing Locke in a suit, preaching to evangelicals in a small church outside of Nashville.  “You, ladies and gentleman, must get right with God!” he booms at them with his southern accent.

And yet, the recently divorced Locke, who is a "self appointed" pastor, evidently uses absolutely vile language toward his ex wife, Melissa.  Locke was married to Melissa for 20 years, but according to the Pulpit & Pen article, has designs on Melissa's former best friend, Tai McGee, who is Locke's church secretary.  Melissa reportedly shared hundreds of texts that were allegedly sent by Greg Locke.  In them, he calls Melissa a "selfish bitch" and says, "fuck you" to her.  He complains about her weight and predicts she'll soon be "sleeping with strangers".

In this blog, I have often stated that I don't believe in "bad words".  That's still generally true.  I don't think there is such a thing as a "bad word".  What I do take notice of is the intent behind the use of words.  When a man says "fuck you" to the woman he's been with for twenty years, it says a lot about how little regard he has for her.  When that language comes from a man who presumes to preach to other people about "getting right with God", it's especially egregiously hypocritical.  This is not a man who is "right with God".  Sounds to me like he's a garden variety abuser posing as a "shepherd".  

And then, when he's exposed for the person he is, Locke has the nerve to cry about it on YouTube and claim his ex-wife is a liar...  Where did all those texts come from?  

I can see why people are attracted to Greg Locke.  He's not a bad looking man, though he's not really my type.  He has a powerful speaking voice.  He has charisma and his audience is not exactly filled with mental giants.  These are evangelicals who ignored what an absolute horror Donald Trump is and voted for him, simply because he promotes their conservative agenda.  They are under the mistaken impression that Trump cares about their views and they praise him because he's pushing their white supremacist, anti-woman vision on the rest of the American people and the world.

I noticed that Locke does not have a friend in fellow "pastor" Steven Anderson, who promotes his conservative messages out of his "church" in Tempe, Arizona.  Below is a video Anderson shared of Locke preaching about how his ex wife is "holding him back".

Anderson calls Locke a "liar" and a "false prophet".  Pot, meet kettle.

When I listen to Locke, I hear a guy who probably would have preferred to have been a comedian.  He sounds like someone who simply wanted to be a star.  He likes the attention and having people listening to him yell.  I imagine it's easier to be a pastor than a comedian, especially when your audience is a bunch of evangelicals who aren't exactly known for being free thinkers.  Locke and Anderson can spout their tripe, spicing it up by yelling, and evangelicals will eagerly eat it up.  I think both of these men are driven by narcissism, not a love for God or concern for their "flocks".

This is the late Sam Kinison, who became a very famous comedian after he stopped preaching the gospel.  I think Locke is of the same ilk, although I doubt he has Kinison's gift for comedy.   Kinison died very suddenly in 1992.  Locke probably knew his comedy, since he would have been 16 years old in 1992. 

I wonder what Greg Locke was like as a child.  I bet he was one of those insatiable kids who couldn't get enough attention from Mommy.  I read in an article in The Tennesseean that as a teenager, Locke was full of rage.  On the day Locke was born, his father was in prison for armed robbery and drug charges.  Locke's mother eventually remarried and he grew up hating his stepfather.  At age 11, Greg Locke was arrested for the first time.  In fact, by the time he was 15, he was sent to Good Shepherd's Christian Home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Locke claims he was "saved" there, but I think he was probably just attracted to the power that can come from being a charismatic speaker.  I don't think Locke is really different now from the angry young man he was twenty years ago.  He's just channeled that rage into "preaching".

Anyway... I wish Locke's ex wife peace, love, and luck.  She deserves better than this man.  So do all of Locke's followers.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

There's life beyond your senior year... confessions of a C student

Yesterday, my alma mater did a fundraising drive called #LoveYourLongwood.  This is apparently a new development.  For many years after my graduation in 1994, Longwood University was rather relaxed about fundraising efforts.  I'd say in the past ten years or so, they have become much more assertive about pushing alums to donate money.  I usually ignore the pleas, although I did donate during the holiday season.

I probably would have made a donation yesterday, had I not looked at our rather paltry bank balance.  March still has three days left in it.  Still, as I get older and our finances have improved, I have given some thought to donating more money to my college.  The truth is, I owe a lot to Longwood.  Maybe my time there didn't lead to a smashing career, but it did leave me with a lot of intangible gifts like wonderful friends, some excellent experiences, and the opportunity to study music simply because I love it.  It was a warm, nurturing place to go to college.  Today, almost 24 years after I graduated, I still reap the benefits of my four years there.

I have written about my college admissions experiences before, but I'm going to briefly repeat the tale for anyone out there in Internet land who is currently experiencing the pain of rejection from college.  I'm inspired to write about this after reading an article in the Boston Globe about the immense pressure high school seniors are dealing with at this time of year.  It takes me back to the spring of 1990, when I was myself trying to find a place to go to school.

I may call myself "The Overeducated Housewife", but the simple truth is, I was a very ordinary student.  I didn't earn great grades in high school and didn't have super high SAT scores.  I did do well on standardized tests, particularly in writing.  However, I was a singularly unimpressive student in high school, even in English class.  I would get praises for my writing, but I didn't care enough about the books we were reading to put a lot of effort into my papers.  Consequently, I earned average grades.

My parents, who had already raised my three sisters, didn't really care too much about my performance.  I got through high school pretty much on my own efforts, with lots of Bs and Cs and the occasional D.  I remember working hard in school, particularly in my math and science classes, but not as hard as I probably should have.  I didn't have any extra help, nor did I have anyone pushing me to excel.  I was also completely unmedicated, which isn't a bad thing, but I think if I had grown up ten years later, I probably would have taken meds for depression or perhaps ADD.  I was encouraged to get good grades, but it was entirely up to me to accomplish that.  I didn't really know how.

In high school, I spent most of my free time riding horses.  I did do well in that activity, although I wasn't particularly talented.  My success in riding was mainly due to my fabulous pony, Rusty, a dedicated riding coach, and a lot of dogged hard work.  I was definitely not "born in the saddle".

When it came time to decide on a college, I had sort of a beer budget and champagne tastes on every level.  I didn't have the money to consider attending private schools.  I didn't have the grades or impressive resume to consider trying to get scholarships or applying to super competitive schools.  My mother, ever the pragmatist, told me I shouldn't bother applying to the one school I really wanted to attend.  She didn't think I'd get in there.  She was right.  In fact, Longwood was the ONLY school out of the four I applied to that accepted me.

Looking back on it, I think I would have had more choices if I had applied to a couple more schools.  The other three that I'd applied to, besides Longwood, were in a slightly higher league-- too high for me at the time.  I do think I would have ultimately succeeded if I had gotten into any of the other three schools, but they were very popular choices among my peers.  My crummy grades and mediocre test scores were simply not competitive enough and I got the dreaded rejection letters.  Even Longwood accepted me conditionally, mainly because I was struggling in math.  Fortunately, I had a wonderful math teacher my senior year who made sure I got through with the required C.

My trend of mediocre academic performances mostly continued at Longwood.  I never once made the Dean's List; however, I did blossom in other ways.  It was at Longwood that I finally started doing what I was probably born to do.

People who knew me when I was growing up didn't know that I could sing.  My mom knew that I had absolute (perfect) pitch, because I took piano lessons when I was very young.  My piano teacher noticed I could name pitches without a reference note.  But I would never sing in front of anyone because I was (and still am) very sensitive to bad singing.  I knew I could sing on key, but didn't think I sounded particularly good.  So I wouldn't sing in front of other people and was never encouraged to try.  My parents were both musicians, though, so it makes sense that I'd have a knack for music.

To earn a bachelor of arts degree at Longwood, I needed to take a course in one of the fine arts.  I chose music appreciation and a one credit voice class.  I ended up excelling in the voice class and my teacher invited me to study privately.  Before I knew it, I had joined Longwood's Camerata Singers, which required an audition.  I was soon singing with people who had been in choirs all through high school.  That experience was truly life changing for me.  Making music is now something I do most days, even if not many people hear my efforts.  It's made me a much happier person.

It may seem like a minor thing now, but that one voice class opened up a whole new world to me.  I only wish I had taken it sooner.  I might have majored in music instead of English.  I both excelled in and loved my music classes.  I got straight As in them, with the lone exception of that one music appreciation class I took.  By contrast, I was a mediocre English major, except when I took writing classes.  In my writing classes, I excelled like I did in music.

It was an adjunct music professor at Longwood who cared enough about me to encourage me to study music, even if she couldn't persuade me to change my major. I can't help but wonder if I would have gotten the same attention at any of the other schools I had considered.  Looking back on it, it seems as if I was destined to go to Longwood.  Maybe I wasn't a superstar student, but I think I flourished there.  Even today, I communicate with professors who knew me in the 90s.  My husband, Bill, attended much more prestigious American University and he hasn't seen or spoken to any of his former professors since the 80s.  Sometimes, the less famous college offers a better value.  I know I've often mused about how much more I got out of my time at Longwood than I did the University of South Carolina.

After Longwood, I joined the Peace Corps kind of on a whim.  I was soon exposed to people from other parts of the country and then the Republic of Armenia, a place that had been mostly off limits to Americans only four years prior to my arrival.  Then I went to graduate school and earned those two master's degrees that I don't use... which became the reason I call myself "overeducated".  Still, I recognize that I was able to compete with people who went to "better" schools, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate student.  I don't regret any of those experiences now, but sometimes I wonder how in the world I ended up here.  In some ways, I have been extraordinarily lucky.  I often feel kind of like a fraud, but I know deep down that I'm not one.  

I empathize with high school seniors who are now dealing with the hell of trying to get into college.  I don't envy them at all.  They're dealing with so many things that I didn't have to deal with.  Life has gotten super competitive on many levels.  I thought it was bad in 1990, but my generation had nothing on their generation.

It's harder and more expensive to go to college these days.  So many young people are racking up huge debts, and competition for well-paid work is stiff.  Young people are having to worry about gun toting lunatics invading their schools and killing random people.  We have a total buffoon in the White House who doesn't care about anything but making rich people even richer.

I don't envy you young folks at all, although I am very impressed by how young people are standing up and making their voices heard.  And young people today are doing such incredible things... things that perfectly average, mediocre people can't conceive of doing.  I would imagine that the pressure to stand out must be insane... and yet it gets harder and harder every year.

I'm impressed by that insane drive to succeed that some young people have, but I have a heart for those who were perfectly average folks like me.  It's true that life is not a dress rehearsal, but most people end up okay, even if they aren't stars.  These years on the brink of adulthood can be tough going, but eventually, most people come to a place where grades and test scores no longer matter.  So take heart.  There's life beyond the spring of your senior year.  You just have to get through it and keep your eyes on the prize.

One of my more recent musical projects...  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I miss movies of the week...

Movies of the week.... that's a concept that a lot of young people don't know, mainly because they grew up with many TV channels, DVDs, and the Internet.  But when I was growing up, you could count on at least one "movie of the week" on any of the big three television networks-- ABC, NBC, and CBS.  In the late 1980s, Fox came along and we had four networks.

I remember watching these movies, mostly when I was a teenager, because before then, I was too young.  They'd always come on at 8:00 or 9:00, usually 9:00.  That was too late for me.  My dad was kind of strict about bedtime during the school week, probably because when I went to bed, he could sit in the kitchen and drink unbothered.  Mom didn't really care when I went to bed and neither of them cared if I actually turned the light out at 9:30.

This morning, I ran across a made for TV movie called Fatal Love.  Actually, that's the catchy British title.  In America, the film, which starred Molly Ringwald, was called Something To Live For: The Alison Gertz Story.  It premiered on March 29, 1992, almost twenty-six years ago.  I was nineteen.

A pretty horrifying made for TV film about AIDS.

I didn't actually see this movie when it originally aired because I was in college.  I didn't have much TV access in those days.  I did have a black and white TV that was left by a former roommate, but I didn't use it until my senior year.  I think I watched the film in 1996 or so, when I was visiting the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia.  They had a bar and restaurant and showed AFN (the Armed Forces Network).  Even though I grew up in a military family, Armenia was the first place I ever encountered AFN, which shows American TV shows to government and military personnel overseas.

A bunch of Americans were gathered around the TV watching this movie about New York city socialite Alison Gertz, who had a one night stand with a bisexual bartender at Studio 54 when she was 16 years old.  The year was 1982 and very few people talked about AIDS in those days.  Gertz picked up the AIDS virus from her one sexual encounter with the bartender and got very sick six years later, at age 22.  Because Gertz came from a "good" family and was neither gay nor a drug user, her doctors initially didn't think to test her for AIDS.  It turned out she had a rare form of pneumonia that usually only strikes people who are immunocompromised.  Gertz went on to become an AIDS activist and spoke at many schools around the country, warning young people about the dangers of unprotected sex and the hell of having AIDS.  

I remember clearly that an early episode of Beverly Hills 90210 was based on Alison Gertz's story.  I'm pretty sure this film aired after that episode, though.  I remember seeing that episode when I was about 18.

As I'm sitting here watching this movie, listening to the very dramatic soundtrack and listening to Molly Ringwald's shrill voice, it kind of takes me back to a simpler time.  In those days, we watched dramatizations of situations that could make your life a bad time.  Everything from domestic violence (but only toward women) and eating disorders was covered.  There were a few films about AIDS, which was a big problem in the 80s and 90s.  There were some about teen suicide, including one notable film that starred Molly Ringwald and a young River Phoenix and Heather O'Rourke, both of whom are now dead.

This is a good film about teen suicide, circa 1985.

Sometimes these movies of the week used very talented actors who went on to bigger and better things.  For instance, in 1981, Jennifer Jason Leigh starred in The Best Little Girl In The World, a film about a teenager with anorexia nervosa.  In those days, most people didn't know about anorexia nervosa.  Steven Levenkron wrote a groundbreaking novel about the disorder and then, a few years later, singer Karen Carpenter died of complications from years of anorexia nervosa.

This film included a young Helen Hunt and Ally Sheedy...

Speaking of Helen Hunt... she was also in Shattered Lives, a film about teen drug abuse.

Maybe I just miss these movies because they remind me of a simpler time, when people gathered around the TV for entertainment instead of the Internet.  Thanks to the Internet, we can find these movies today.  And then there's always a good, old-fashioned book, which is becoming more and more appealing to me these days.  

Watching the end of this movie about Alison Gertz, I see her confronting a fellow female AIDS patient who is nasty and mean to her... and then comes around.  How stereotypical.  I love it.  Incidentally, the real Alison Gertz died less than five months after this film premiered.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Substance over style...

Yesterday, Bill and I went to a wine tasting near the small town of Weil der Stadt.  While we were there, I happened to see an article about last year's event, which we also attended.  The vintner had printed it out and put it on his table.  In the middle of the article, there was a picture of Bill and me.  I was wearing the same blue top I had on yesterday.  I had a huge smile on my face.  Looking closer, I suddenly realized why I hate having pictures taken.

Even though I was clearly having fun with Bill and the photographer captured the joy on my face, I couldn't help but feel kind of negative about that photo.  I realized that this year, I probably look the same or even worse.  On the other hand, my looks probably only matter to me.  Bill thinks I'm beautiful... not because of what I look like, but because of who I am.  I think he loves my sense of humor the most of all.

This morning, George Takei shared an article about a woman who regularly heard comments about how handsome her husband is.  Many people said they couldn't believe someone like her managed to snag such a cute guy.  Although many of my friends have told me they think Bill is cute, I've never heard anyone tell me that he's too cute for me.  However, I will confess that sometimes I feel that way.  I wonder why he's with me.  Then I remember who his first wife was and how she behaved.

It always surprises me when people feel like they can make critical comments about a person's choice in mates, especially when the comments are about physical appearance.  It's especially egregious when the two people involved are not public figures, although even public figures should have the right to choose their partners in peace.  Take, for example, Camilla Parker-Bowles, second wife of Prince Charles.  Yesterday, I read a rather nasty themed article about her entitled "This 1 Thing May Be What Inspired Camilla to Destroy Prince Charles’ Marriage and Fight for the Crown".

First off, I don't believe a person outside of a marriage really has the power to destroy it.  Can a person harass a couple to the extent to which they have marital problems?  Yes, I believe that can happen.  However, the only people who can decide to destroy a marriage are the people within it.  They made the decision to marry.  They make the decision to divorce.  The truth is, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were not compatible.  They never were compatible.  That marriage would have failed whether Camilla was around or not.

Charles and Diana spent fifteen miserable years together until the marriage was finally done.  Then, a year later, Diana died.  It seems tragic to me that Diana spent almost half her life married to a man she didn't love.  She should have had the chance to find someone who was a better match for her.  Most everyone deserves that much in life.

At this writing, Charles and Camilla have been together almost thirteen years.  I well remember the headlines of Charles' and Diana's marital spats.  By contrast, I never hear anything about Charles and Camilla being on the outs.  They are suited to each other and clearly love each other.  Maybe other people don't like them together or apart, but they are clearly contented... or maybe the press just doesn't care about them.

However, whatever the reason behind their lack of visibility in the press, the public at large seems to have thoughts about Charles and Camilla.  A lot of people dislike Camilla.  They claim she's a homewrecker and make derogatory comments about her looks.  Lots of people wonder how in the world Charles would dump his beautiful first wife for Camilla.

Looks aren't everything.  Charles and Camilla were into each other years before Charles and Diana started dating.  They clearly love each other and should have been married from the get go.  Maybe Diana was destined to be the mother of Charles' children.  God knows she brought good looks and charisma into the royal DNA.  But she was never a match for Charles and he was not a match for her. And people who aren't shallow recognize that there's a lot more to a successful relationship than physical beauty and/or attraction.  The most gorgeous person on the planet could turn out to be an abusive nightmare.

As we were headed to the wine tasting yesterday, Bill and I were talking about the article I read about Charles and Camilla.  I told Bill that I have found that I no longer get crushes.  When I was single, I used to develop crushes on men I found attractive.  I always hated it when that happened, since my crushes never led to anything.  Then when Bill and I got together, I found that I no longer had crushes on guys.  I notice good looking men or guys I think are nice or funny, but I don't want to be with them.  I have the man I want to be with.  Fortunately, he likes me too.

I never thought I'd be as lucky as I am to be married to a guy who really is my best friend.  We truly enjoy each other's company.  We love each other and don't see the need to change.  I don't know how common relationships like ours are, but I feel very fortunate to have found someone who accepts and loves me for who I am... even if I don't always accept myself the way I am.  I am blessed in that respect, and in many others.  I'm glad our marriage is based on substance over style rather than style over substance.

Those who want to see the picture I referenced at the beginning of this post, can see it on my travel blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The NRA versus Planned Parenthood...

This morning, as I was adjusting to Daylight Savings Time (it starts two weeks later in Germany), I happened to notice a Facebook post by a conservative friend of mine.  He is a gun enthusiast and, I guess, is dismayed by all of the people who decided to protest against gun violence yesterday.  A lot of people have been making comments about the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has been very vocal against gun control.

Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the NRA, makes ads basically deriding liberals and the media who are calling for stricter controls on guns...

Thanks to the most recent school shootings and continuing trends of gun violence, lots of high school students are fed up and have taken to the streets in protest.  The NRA has come up many times in their impassioned speeches calling for more safety.  To be honest, I really can't blame them for being angry and scared.  It's getting to the point at which one can't go to school, enjoy a concert, take in a movie, or simply worship in church without wondering if a gun toting psycho is going to start shooting.  It's truly scary what's going on in America right now.

I have never been anti-gun.  I married a Soldier who knows how to fire weapons.  He doesn't own a gun at this time, but he has talked about getting one.  I have never had an issue with it... at least, not until now.  I do think there are too many guns in America.  I have to say, even though I am American, living in Germany has given me a different perspective.  This isn't to say that Germany doesn't have issues with violence, but there just simply isn't as much of it here and it's NICE!

Anyway... my conservative friend posted this comment.

Well... I suppose on the surface I can agree with this sentiment.  The NRA isn't literally murdering children.  What it does seem to be doing is loudly condemning any attempts to stem the flow of gun violence.  It seems like people in the NRA want everyone to vote Republican so they can keep their guns.  Sorry, but that puts idiots like Trump in office.

But you know... at least I could understand where my friend was coming from when he posted the comment above.  The NRA isn't literally murdering children.  But it is calling for the continued ability for people like Nikolas Cruz, Dylann Roof, and Adam Lanza to be able to buy weapons that will kill a lot of young people.

Then I noticed he had a comment from a female friend, who brought up Planned Parenthood.  This comment was a real headscratcher for me...

It's true that Planned Parenthood does provide abortions and is, in fact, the "biggest abortion provider in the country..."

However, Planned Parenthood also provides many other services...  services that can be lifesaving to people who have already been born.  Moreover, it seems to me that it's a whole lot crueler for someone to be born and know the fear of dying than it is to have an abortion.  Developing fetuses don't have any concept of death.  Teenagers in high schools who worry about being shot, do.  

I truly can't wrap my head around those who condemn abortion, but apparently have no problem with anyone and everyone owning a weapon that can snuff out the lives of multiple people within minutes.  Honestly, I don't believe that people who are against abortion care for developing fetuses.  They are interested in controlling women, plain and simple, right down to forcing them to have babies they aren't prepared to have.  Moreover, guns are made simply for injuring and killing living beings.  At least Planned Parenthood helps people maintain their health.  You can't really say that about guns, unless they're being used for self-protection or maybe to put meat on the table.  I'd be willing to bet that more people's lives are saved or improved by Planned Parenthood than by the NRA.  

I can barely stand to listen to Dana Loesch speak.  I recognize her right to speak, but I can't stand to listen to her.  I would not want to be a teenager in today's world.  It's gotten so scary on so many levels.  I'm heartened to see young people taking a stand and speaking out about gun violence.  Too many teenagers made it safely out of their mothers' wombs, only to be gunned down when they are on the brink of adulthood.  Frankly, I think abortion might have been the kinder way for them to go.  But then, I think about their families and friends who had the opportunity to know them... and I realize that their lives mattered, short as they were.  

The ones who have not been killed at their schools are right to speak out about the gun violence.  Many Americans are horrified by the bloody trend overtaking our country right now.  We have so many child safety laws that did not exist when I was growing up.  Kids can't even take peanut butter sandwiches to many schools now because there might be one kid in the entire school who has a deadly allergy.  And yet, children are still being slaughtered at school by gun toting nut cases.  Seems to me, if the NRA was responsible and its conservative members are as pro-life as they claim to be, they'd be calling for some reasonable laws restricting people from getting their hands on weapons that will extinguish so many young, promising lives... and they would be just as vehement about that as they are about preventing pregnant women from making choices about what happens to their bodies.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Overweight people tend to be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible..."

Today's post is taken from a direct quote that was included in a 1970s era film made at Brigham Young University called "The Fat Fighters".

This film is absolutely cringeworthy...

I already blogged about this a couple of years ago.  Click here to read that post, which I think was one of my better ones.

I was reminded of this film this morning as I read a news story by The New York Times about America's worsening obesity epidemic.  I really shouldn't read the comments on these articles because they regularly piss me off.  So many people have simple "explanations" as to why Americans are so fat.  But it seems to me that if the problem is so simple, so must be the solution, right?  If that were true, then people would simply eat less, choose higher quality food, exercise more, and weigh less.  Simple, right?  But I don't think it is a simple problem.  

I read comment after comment from people claiming that "good food" is cheap and easy to prepare.  I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that, as long as you have everything you need to make food and you have the time, energy, and know how to prepare it.  Many Americans work very long hours for low pay.  If they are fortunate enough to have work, they will have to work long and hard to make enough money to pay their bills.  If they work ten or twelve hours a day at two jobs, they might be exhausted when they get home.  And that's if they are only supporting themselves.  A lot of people who work long hours also have families to tend.

Many Americans don't necessarily have the ability to shop for whole foods, transport them, prepare them, or cook them.  Some people also don't have access to the tools they'd need to make that good, wholesome food.  It takes money to buy pots, pans, electricity to run the oven and refrigerator, gas to buy the fuel to get to a store, or pay for a fare on public transportation.  Although, a lot of Americans have access to adequate housing and transportation, not everyone does.  So those people do what they can to survive.  Many times that means eating a chemical laden hot dog or microwaved burrito from 7 Eleven instead of a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.

Okay... so what if you're like most Americans and you do own a car?  You do live in housing that has kitchen facilities.  You live in a town where there are several good supermarkets and, hey, you even have the Internet, so you can order groceries online.  You still have to have the time and energy to make that "good food".  I happen to like cooking and Bill and I enjoy a lifestyle that affords us the ability to eat well, if we choose.  We do try to keep most junk food out of the house, although we love beer and wine, which is not exactly dietetic.    

The point I'm trying to make is that the problem of obesity seems really simple.  It seems like it has a simple cause and a simple solution.  However, if you think about it for longer than a minute, the problem becomes less simple.  If the problem really were that simple, we would have solved it by now.

I once lived in a country where poor people weren't generally fat.  Those people didn't eat a lot of meat because they couldn't afford it.  Indeed, being a little bit heavy meant that you had more money. It wasn't necessarily fashionable, but it made a statement about your income.  In that country, though, people didn't work constantly like they do in the United States.  They spent time with their families and friends and ate with them.  The lifestyle was very different there.  You wouldn't see poor people eating candy bars or cake because those items were expensive.  It was actually cheaper to buy an apple, especially if it was in season.

In the United States, poor people are more likely to be fat than wealthy people.  Why?  Because the food that is most available to them is cheap, filling, and of poorer quality.  And some of those people eat fattening, sugary, salty foods because it temporarily makes them feel better.  They gain weight and lose more status... and people make judgments and comments about them based on preconceived notions.  And God help you if you happen to be both poor and obese.  This was one comment made on the New York Times Facebook post about America's rising obesity problem.

It is VERY true eating healthier is more expensive. Poor people are also more prone to addiction and food is the most common addiction.

Well... I don't know that I'd make a comment like that.  The truth is, people are poor for many reasons.  Poverty is also a very complex issue with no simple solutions.  Some poor people are addicts.  Some are not.  It just depends.

As for the title of this post, I think perhaps what the narrator meant is that overweight people might be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible about food and eating.  I would hope he wasn't saying that overweight people are those things in general.  However, he did actually say that-- he said that overweight people have several character defects and he didn't qualify his statement as only pertaining to their eating habits.  So basically, he was perpetuating the idea that overweight people are lower quality human beings who don't deserve to be as well-regarded as thinner people usually are.
Another comment I noticed came from a woman who, I'm sure, thinks she's a "thinker".  She posted that in the long run, broccoli is "cheaper" than a cheeseburger because it will lead to fewer healthcare costs.  However, if you have to force yourself to eat broccoli because you can barely stand the taste of it, how likely will you actually benefit from choosing to eat it over a burger?  What are the odds that you might buy that broccoli and then let it rot in your fridge?  And... what if you eat nothing but broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and then still get sick or catastrophically injured somehow?  Eating "good" food may promote better health and lower healthcare costs, but it's not a guarantee.

Personally, I've decided to just relax and enjoy life as much as possible.  I don't trouble myself with what other people are eating.  I don't worry about how their habits will affect my medical bills.  I don't blame fat people for all of the wrongs in the world, nor do I give much thought to shaming them.  Life is difficult and complex and there is no magic bullet.  I think there are too many people out there who feel inclined to judge and assume what's wrong or missing in another person's life.  But even as I write that, I understand that we all do it to an extent.  I do it, too.

Sigh... I really need to stop reading comments on articles.  But then, if I did that, I might be writing fewer blog posts.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Repost of Martha Beck's Leaving the Saints...

Here's another old Epinions book review I'm hoping to salvage...

  • "The choice to believe or disbelieve, that's what makes you free."

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      May, 17 2006
  • Pros: Very well written, entertaining, and moving account of Beck's exit from Mormonism.
    Cons: Allegations that the story isn't true. Somewhat scandalous.
    I didn't know it when I purchased it last week, but the book I'm going to review today, Martha Beck's Leaving The Saints: How I Lost The Mormons And Found My Faith (2005) made a lot of waves when it came out last year. Of course, having never been a Mormon myself, I had no reason to be scandalized by the subject matter in Martha Beck's book, nor did I have an inkling that I would be reading a somewhat scathing indictment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I didn't know anything about Martha Beck or her famous father, Hugh Nibley. While I don't claim to be anywhere near an expert on the subject of Mormonism, I have known a few members of the church in my lifetime and most of them have, at least on the surface, been fine people. In fact, I even married a member of the LDS church, although he very recently formally resigned from the faith. In any case, I was looking for something interesting to read when I found Martha Beck's book, and indeed, I did find something interesting.

    Leaving The Saints begins in the early 1990s, as Martha Beck and her husband, John, decided to move back to Provo, Utah after their second child, Adam, was born with Down Syndrome. They left their home in Massachusetts, even though Martha was finishing up her doctoral degree in sociology at Harvard University. The Becks longed for the security and sense of community they would get in Provo, Utah, where both John and Martha had grown up and where many of their family members still lived. They knew their son, Adam, would be universally accepted by their neighbors and they would be around people who would understand and support them. Like most of the people living in Provo, the Becks were devout Mormons. Martha Beck is the daughter of the late Hugh Nibley, a very famous and much revered man in LDS circles.

    Beck writes that when she and her husband arrived in Provo, they were given the sort of enthusiastic welcome they had been expecting when they made their decision to move. Both Martha and John Beck started teaching at Brigham Young University (BYU); Martha taught on a part time basis while she finished up her doctorate. Before too long, she and John welcomed their third child, a girl named Elizabeth. For awhile, the Becks assimilated into life in Utah.

    Beck became disenchanted with Mormonism when she started to discover how much the LDS church influenced the curriculum at BYU. She watched many of her most brilliant and talented colleagues get fired from their jobs simply for voicing opinions that undermined the church's teachings. She both experienced and witnessed blatant gender bias on the job and claims that the church actually censored controversial topics. Despite the fact that she worked in what she describes as a very repressive environment, Beck counseled her students to question whatever didn't ring true to them. However, according to Beck, BYU was not the intellectual bastion it was purported to be, as professors anxious about losing their jobs stifled themselves in order to keep church officials happy.

    The bigger bombshell within this memoir, of course, is the fact that Beck openly accuses her father, the beloved Hugh Nibley, of sexually abusing her when she was a child. She writes about the memories of the abuse, which she recalled after she and her husband moved back to Utah. She also writes about some of the physical evidence of the abuse which was supposedly discovered during medical exams. Because Hugh Nibley was so well regarded within the LDS church, this aspect of the memoir is particularly scandalous, and if what Beck writes is true, quite damning.

    Beck confronted her father before he died and intersperses the story of how that meeting went between anecdotes about her marriage, career, children, and the local culture. Toward the end of the book, she writes the story of how she and her husband left Mormonism and Utah. Evidently, the couple was forced to start their lives anew once they resigned from the faith. By Beck's account, they were lucky enough to have the ability to start over elsewhere; apparently, other LDS members who doubt the veracity of the church do not have that luxury, mostly due to career or family constraints.

    I found Beck's writing to be very colorful and interesting; in fact, it was also often very funny, even as she lambasted the LDS church and made serious sexual abuse allegations against her father. Although at times Beck's writing has a sarcastic, angry flavor, she's able to temper her edginess with humor and warmth. Beck uses a lot of hyperbole to get her point across, which may actually make her account less believable to some readers. After all, when a person often exaggerates in order to make a point, it becomes harder to know where the exaggeration stops and reality begins. However, even though Martha Beck accuses her father of molesting her, I still got the idea that she still loved him and on some level, respected him. Even as she confronts him, she still is able to relate to him in a bittersweet way.

    Before I read Leaving The Saints, I had heard of Hugh Nibley, but I didn't really associate anything with him, positive or negative. For instance, I did not know that Hugh Nibley was a revered LDS apologist and scholar, nor did I know anything about his distinguished career at Brigham Young University, the premier institution of higher learning among devout Mormons. More importantly, I had also never heard of Martha Beck, herself a Harvard educated scholar, author of several books, Oprah Winfrey darling, columnist, and life coach. This is important, because in the few days it has taken me to read Beck's book, Leaving The Saints, I have run across a number of different opinions about the book. Some people have praised it, calling it a moving, well-written memoir and heralding Beck as a brave heroine for sharing her intensely personal story. Other people have called the book an unfair, inaccurate, and hurtful attack against the LDS church and Hugh Nibley. I want to note that many of the people whose opinions I've read have had some direct exposure to the LDS church, either as current or past members. Again, I've never been a member of the church, so I've based my opinion only on how I feel about the book, instead of trying to determine whether or not Beck has written the truth.

    Frankly, whether or not Leaving The Saints is an entirely true account, I found it a fascinating and engaging read. It appears to me, however, that if Beck did not write the truth, she paid quite a price for writing this book. First of all, Martha Beck and her husband, John Beck, are now divorced, a fact that she does not reveal in Leaving The Saints. John Beck has even posted a negative review of Leaving The Saints on, claiming that she lied about some of the content. Secondly, Beck's family has publicly come out against her, accusing her of lying about the alleged sexual abuse. I don't know if Martha Beck is telling the truth or not. At this point, I have no reason to disbelieve her, since I don't know anything about her aside from what I've read. And again, since my religious faith is not being attacked in this book, I have no reason to criticize what Beck has written about the LDS church. I can only base my opinion about her allegations against the church on what I've heard and read about from other people. Based on those aspects alone, I'm inclined to believe at least most of Beck's story. Even if what she wrote isn't entirely true, it's still a hell of a story.

    That leaves me to explain the title of this review. I found the above quote toward the end of Leaving The Saints. John Beck had just resigned his church membership and it had been all over the local news. Martha Beck was still a member in good standing and was moderating a women's issues forum being held at BYU. The forum was discussing domestic violence and sexual abuse in a roundabout way. Some of the attendees were getting upset, claiming that no one on the panel had ever experienced sexual abuse and therefore none of them knew what they were talking about. Martha Beck had, up until that point, been portrayed to the women as a blueblooded Mormon above reproach, even though her husband had just left the church and privately, she was often "counseled" about her outspokenness. As the angry women in the crowd continued to grumble among themselves, Martha Beck stood up and announced to the attendees that she was an incest survivor. And after she told them about her personal experience as an incest survivor, she said those empowering words, "Choose to believe or disbelieve, that's what makes you free."

    The aftermath of Beck's public confession was not exactly what she had expected it to be. After the conference, she was swarmed by appreciative women who thanked her for sharing her story. Now that her story is in print, many others have also thanked her for sharing her story. It's clear to me that even if Martha Beck hasn't told the truth, she has helped a lot of people who have lived with the shame of sexual abuse and moved many others who haven't lived that unfortunate reality. If she has unfairly tarnished her late father's name, I suspect she will answer for that someday.

    I doubt most devout Mormons, especially those who admired Hugh Nibley's work, would enjoy reading Leaving The Saints. Martha Beck certainly does not cast the LDS church in a flattering light and I suspect that many Mormons will feel that she is attacking their beliefs. Personally, I liked this book. Now that I've finished it, my husband Bill will read it and hopefully he will add his own review from the perspective of someone who has direct experience with Mormonism.

    Martha Beck's Web site:

The continuing saga of operation open eyes...

I hesitate to write this post, mainly because I know some people might think it's wrong that I write so much about my husband's long lost kids.  Maybe it's not right to share this story with the few people who follow it.  On the other hand, it's not like I haven't spilled my guts before.  I also think it's a compelling story... and one that too many people can relate to on some level.  So here goes...

Last night, Bill and his daughter Skyped.  They started off talking about light topics, but naturally things got deeper.  I think they talked for over two hours.  I was asleep by the time he came to bed.  Actually, this morning I had a strange dream about Bill.  I dreamt we moved to south Florida and he was going to go to jail.  I was trying to prepare for his time away.  Fortunately, I woke up before I saw him being hauled off in handcuffs.  I'm not sure what brought on this dream.  Maybe it has to do with the tumult of our government right now.  It's hard to tell.

Anyway, last night, Bill learned that his ex wife, who was adopted, discovered her biological parents. She was evidently the product of an extramarital affair.  Her biological father evidently told her bio mom that he didn't want to raise her.  Likewise, bio mom's husband also didn't want to raise another man's child, so they put her up for adoption.  It kind of makes sense, since ex also has affairs.  Or, at least she cheated on both her first husband and Bill, starting relationships with her next victim while still married to the last one.  I don't know what her love life is like now.  Ex's adopted mother, who was apparently very abusive, died in 2015.

I think it's interesting that Ex and two of her five kids have been reuniting with their long lost biological relatives.  Ex stepson reconnected with his father in 2009 and now younger daughter is reconnecting with Bill.  And Ex finally met her bio parents, whose illicit tryst explains a bit as to why she is the way she is.

Bill also learned that former stepson came very close to getting a divorce.  I'm not sure what the details are about that, although what I do know is that former stepson has apparently mended his ways for now.  He and his wife are still together and their six year old marriage is still intact.  I had a suspicion that the two of them were on the outs.  I'm glad they're sticking together, if only because they do have a child to consider.

Older daughter apparently came close to getting married and decided not to.  She also was dating a different guy who seemed serious, but he had another woman on the side and decided to marry the other one.  I say, she dodged a bullet.

Younger daughter initially went to BYU in Provo.  However, she got no help whatsoever from her mother and went to college totally unprepared on many levels.  She arrived at her dorm room with nothing but her clothes.  She had no sheets, no pillow, and no money to buy anything she needed.  This is another situation in which had she only been talking to Bill, he could have helped her.  He would have been honored to help her.  It's a shame she was denied access to her dad during such a pivotal period in her life.  However, it does sound like there were at least some church people willing to assist.

Younger daughter plays piano, having learned on YouTube.  I don't know how good she is, though Bill said she used a keyboard to play for him while they Skyped.  She also said that by the time she was eighteen years old, she could no longer stand to live with her mother.  They were having a lot of fights.  I am not at all surprised by that revelation, either.  Younger daughter has always been the most determined to do things her own way.  It doesn't surprise me that she rejects being controlled by other people.

I think the rest of the conversation mostly had to do with Bill giving advice and sharing stories about his own mother, whom his daughters were denied the chance to get to know.  Fortunately, Bill's mom is still living.  Maybe they will Skype.  Younger daughter even asked about me.  She's probably curious, although if she knew where to look, she could easily find me and learn more than she'd ever want to know.  Bill also said that he wanted to send his daughter and her husband DNA kits.  That news seemed to excite her.  She's interested in genealogy.

It's gratifying to see Bill reconnecting with his daughter.  It's been a long time coming.  I just hope it all turns out okay.  Bill had the chance to explain some things to his daughter, like the reason why he stopped talking to ex stepson.  I'm not sure he explained in detail what exactly happened, though.  If he did, maybe younger daughter would understand even more.

So... that's basically the gist of things right now.  It's nice not being so angry at them anymore.  I hope it continues.  If anything, I hope this continuing story offers some insight as to what happens after years of parental alienation.  I feel sure that if I were in younger daughter's shoes, I'd feel a complex host of emotions... everything from excitement to rage.  Here she is, discovering her real dad and finding out that she was fed a lot of lies over the years.  It's bound to be mind blowing.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Liberal" Mormons...

Yesterday, someone shared an article about the practice of shunning within the Jehovah's Witnesses.  I got sucked into a discussion about it in the Duggar group I'm in.  There were a few folks saying that shunning doesn't happen in the JWs, the Mormons, and other religious groups where shunning is supposedly rampant.  I was reminded of a couple of documents Mormon parents gave to their wayward children and helpfully shared them with the group.  If you read this blog regularly, you might have already seen these.  I am reposting them for the curious.

These are examples of "rules" given to LDS kids whose parents are worried about their apostasy.  

I was actually surprised it took as long as it did, but several hours after I posted these, a so-called "liberal" Mormon spoke up to tell us that these letters don't represent the norm in LDS families.  She was careful to explain that she's liberal and liberal Mormons exist... and church members, as a whole, aren't really as "weird" as these letters make them sound.

Actually, when I originally posted these letters, I was careful to mention that not all Mormon families do this.  There are millions of people in the LDS church and many of them are perfectly good folks.  However, it's disingenuous to say that shunning doesn't occur in Mormonism.  It does.  It may not happen in your family or your friends' families, but it happens in other families.  By the way... it also happens among families in other strict religions that require family involvement, which I also pointed out.

These examples happen to be from Mormon families because I spend a lot of time following stories related to Mormonism.  The LDS church has affected my husband personally.  I would imagine that if Bill's ex wife had been a Jehovah's Witness convert, I would be following that faith more carefully.  I do a lot of reading about the JWs anyway, because one of my cousins was a JW for awhile.  He and his family left the church because the local leaders wanted to put a child molester in charge (or so that was the official explanation as to why they left).  

The point is, shunning is a thing and it happens a lot in religious circles.  It has two purposes.  One, is to punish anyone who goes astray.  The other purpose is to warn anyone within the group who is thinking about going astray.  If you leave the toxic group, you will be ostracized.  You'll lose people who are important to you.  Your support system will fall apart.  These kinds of groups, by design, separate their members from other people in society, labeling them as "bad influences".  At first, the intimate nature of the group seems close, loving, and maybe even special.  After awhile, when the group becomes toxic, that intimacy becomes a powerful incentive to stay invested.  By the time a lot of people decide to leave, the people in the group are all they have.  Leaving means striking out alone, and that's too scary for many group members to consider.  So they continue to toe the line.

Here's another point I'd make to "liberal" Mormons who don't like it when these kinds of threatening letters put shade on their religious beliefs.  If you're in a group designed to "bash" fundamentalist Christians like the Duggars, shouldn't you expect that people might discuss other, less mainstream religions?  Although many mainstream Mormons have been trying to be "normal" for a long time, the fact is, the Mormon leadership actually pride church members for being "peculiar".  

Elder Russell M. Nelson explains "peculiar"... 

Another thing I noticed when I posted these letters is that at least one person felt these "rules" were perfectly fine.  In the second group of photos, it sounds like the parent may be confronting his son for doing "illegal" or inappropriate things.  I think it's important to mention that many Mormons think that people who leave the church will immediately fall into illegal or immoral behavior without the strict church teachings to keep them in line.  Many Mormons, who have no experience with things like alcohol, marijuana, or even sex outside of marriage, assume that people who drink, smoke weed, or have sex do so to excess.  That's not necessarily so.  

I know some people get upset when I share things like this.  However, I did get one private message from someone yesterday who thanked me.  She is an ex Mormon and she gets it.  I'm sorry if some people are offended because they feel "attacked" by critical posts about their religion.  I say, if it doesn't apply to you, you probably shouldn't take heed.  Or maybe you should...  But there is a reason why church members are discouraged from reading "anti" Mormon literature.  It's because the leaders know that criticism is a threat to their members' testimonies... and when members lose their testimonies, they leave.  That means less money and power for the church as a whole.  Think about it.