Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bombs Don't Bring Peace

Thank you to Senator Bernie Sanders for speaking the truth about the Middle East as much of the world rushes to war.

It was the US bombing of Baghdad that destabilized the Middle East and led to the formation of the so-called Islamic State.

More bombing is not going to solve anything unless it is a unified effort planned by the United Nations.

What we need to do is assist the young immigrants and children of immigrants in Europe and the US to find meaningful lives, so they will not be desperate enough to become suicide bombers and terrorists.

Thank you to President Obama for not rushing to war in Syria in the past few years as most Republican presidents would have done.

These are Sanders' words:

I voted against the war in Iraq, and knew it was the right vote then, and most people recognize it was the right vote today. The only mission President Bush and his neo-conservative friends accomplished was to destabilize an entire region, and create the environment for al-Qaeda and ISIS to flourish.
While we must be relentless in combating terrorists who would do us harm, we cannot and should not be policeman of the world, nor bear the burden of fighting terrorism alone. The United States should be part of an international coalition, led and sustained by nations in the region that have the means to protect themselves. That is the only way to defeat ISIS and to begin the process of creating the conditions for a lasting peace in the region.”– Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cheers for RBG and Gloria Steinem

Three cheers for feminist leaders in their 80s--Gloria Steinem (b. 1934), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (b. 1933), Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (b. 1932), and Letha Dawson Scanzoni (b. 1935), for starters.

Read the great interview with Gloria and Ruth, who have been friends since the 1970s.


In the 1950s, the Harvard Law School dean met with the 9 women in a class of 500 beginning law students (including RBG) and asked them, "How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?"

Gloria Steinem, meanwhile, was interviewing Saul Bellow for an article when Gay Talese, also present, commented, "Every year a pretty girl comes to New York and pretends to be a writer.  This year, it's Gloria."

"The Fights of Their Lives" is the title of this fascinating interview by Philip Galanes.  Photo by Hilary Swift, taken in RBG's private chambers at the Supreme Court.  

Here are seven striking  quotations taken from the interview: 

Gloria's new memoir, My Life on the Road (Random House), prompted this interview.  See this review by Ann Friedman: 

Friedman faults GS for three things: not valuing online dialogue enough, including only her professional and intellectual life in the memoir, and not explaining her current decision to focus on nesting as well as traveling.

The charge about not including her emotional and relational life is not fair.  GS has already written seven other books, including Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983) and Doing Sixty and Seventy (2006).  When one sets out to write a memoir, one has to choose what to include and what to leave out.  The current book is already 276 pages, without her personal life.  

Is Friedman wishing the book were twice as long?  Of course the love/family vs. career conflict is a prime topic in most women's lives today, and we would like to know what suffering GS encountered in the choices she made.

However, that's not what she chose to write about.  The central metaphor of this book is the road--a life centered on travel.  Let's respect her choice--choice--and not demand discussion of the home vs. work issue that men are rarely asked about, until they decide to retire "for family reasons."

As for not explaining her decision to seek a balance between nesting and travel in her eighties, please!  The woman is 81 years old.  She has already addressed the subject of aging in her previous book, Doing Sixty and Seventy.

Perhaps Friedman's core quibble here is that GS "assures readers that we don't have to give up the journey in order to have a home, and vice versa." I will have to read the memoir to find out whether I agree that GS asks too much of women in a you-can-do-it-all-have-it-all mode.

That problem--not being able to balance work and home adequately--is the subject of the memoir I am working on.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dying for Peace in Israel

Richard Lakin gave his life for peace in Israel.

He attended peace activist events and gave his Facebook page a theme of Palestinian-Israeli friendship.

See the NY Times article, Oct. 29.

But haters responded with threats of violence on FB.

A few days ago he boarded a bus that was attacked. He was knifed and shot. He became another Jesus, giving his life for others.

We must tell FB to block posts that promote and teach violence against others, especially Jews. Richard's family has filed a suit against FB.

We must all work for peace.

Friday, October 16, 2015

To Watch or Not to Watch

Eclipsed may not be my cup of tea.  It's the drama about women's suffering during the Liberian civil war that eventually ousted dictator Charles Taylor.

Written by Danai Gurira, this show opened two days ago on Broadway in New York City, but I'm thankful that it hasn't arrived in Los Angeles yet.  I don't have to make a decision about whether to see it.


Rape, sexual slavery, brutalization, and dehumanization are important problems to address in wars that include these practices, but I'm not sure that I can sit down in a theatre and become a witness as part of an evening of entertainment.

Lupita Nyong'o, Oscar winner for her supporting role in Twelve Years a Slave, is one of the stars, but her vivid portrayal of suffering may be too much for me.

Just watching the violence of The Suffragette last month was jarring enough, and those events took place one hundred years ago.

Thank you to Charles Isherwood for his review, but this is one I may have to pass up.

Demystifying the King James Bible

The King James Bible, published in 1611, is routinely used to oppress women and LGBT people.

Now a researcher in England has unearthed a draft of two books of the Apocrypha that show an individual translator working with Greek, Latin, and Hebrew texts to translate 1 Esdras and The Wisdom of Solomon into English.


This man is working alone in order to contribute his work to the group effort of some 48 individuals.

This evidence contradicts the "mythos" surrounding the King James translation: "that it was a collaborative project through and through," reports Jennifer Schuessler for the New York Times.

The rest of the mythos is that the KJV is divinely inspired and no translators made any errors or wrong judgments.  Therefore, believers today should read no translation except the KJV, preferably one with the words of Jesus printed in red.

For example, where the Hebrew reads ezer (help--often used for God's help) "appropriate" for the needs of the first human (ha-adam), the KJV translators introduced a new word helpmeet that has been used to reduce the presence of woman in the newly divided pair ish and isha (male and female) to the level of an assistant to the male (Genesis 2:18).

This translation of two words into one helpmeet is still being used to oppress women today.

Likewise, the KJV use of the word sodomite to refer to various idolatrous sexual practices mentioned in the Hebrew Bible has caused much oppression against LGBT persons over the last four hundred years.  The Hebrew word should probably be translated cult prostitute. (See Deut. 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46 and 2 Kings 23:7.)

Letha Dawson Scnzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott quote John Boswell to analyze this problem in their book Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? (1978; rev. 1994).  

"Pointing out that this idea arises from a mistranslation of a word meaning simply 'cult prostitute,' historian John Boswell states that 'there is no reason to assume such prostitutes serviced persons of their own sex.... almost no theologians invoked these passages as condemnations of homosexual behavior until after the mistranslation of the words into English'" (p. 63).

Thus the special aura of "divine inspiration" surrounding this human translation needs to be challenged.  

Hooray for the work of researcher Jeffrey Alan Miller in discovering the very human work done alone by one man in translating parts of the Hebrew Bible (the Apocrypha) that didn't even make it into the King James Bible.

May everyone take notice that God's Word is divinely inspired but not necessarily all the subsequent translations of that Word.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Baby Steps

Of course the first step toward ordaining women as priests in the Roman Catholic Church is to ordain them as deacons.

At least that is getting some attention...


By 2050, women will be ordained as priests, regularly, in the RCC.  

That's my prediction and I'm sticking to it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sister Death

What a blessing to give a mentally competent, terminally ill person the right to take pills that will end life in a painless but certain way.

Thank you to the California legislators who made this happen and to Governor Jerry Brown for not becoming a last-minute hold-out.



This legislation will reduce the number of persons who, in desperation, blow their brains out.

In older cultures, most deaths were not prolonged and drawn out in the way they are for many people today as a result of our greater medical resources.

The personal stories associated with California's newly passed and signed legislation are very moving.

St. Francis on his deathbed coined the phrase "Sister Death" to welcome the transition once it had become inevitable.


May we all come to that kind of acceptance, and may we die peacefully.