Dec 2004 posts

Friday, December 24, 2004

Patriotism and violence


I’ve been wondering…. why does “patriotism” always have to do with wars and killing? Why do we only consider authorized violence a means to “serve your country”?

Does “serving one’s country” only have to do with sacrifice? People who willingly take on low paying jobs because those jobs enable them to help others – such as teachers and social workers – they’re sacrificing – why aren’t they considered to be serving their country?

Perhaps we reserve “patriotism” and “serving one’s country” for instances where someone is potentially making the “ultimate sacrifice” by risking their life. Of course, we’d never get enough people to join the military if we didn’t romanticize this notion of risking one’s life or if we didn’t make the concept of “war hero” so glamorous, when in reality war, injury, hurting others, and death are anything but glamorous.

It reminds me of how when one person is rubbing another person’s back, the receiver makes sure to keep saying compliments, such as “oh, you should do this professionally”, to reinforce continued rubbing.

But while risking one’s life is a distinct type of behavior, I think it’s wrong to act as though these behaviors are the only way to be “patriotic” or to “serve one’s country”. I don’t think it’s healthy for individuals or for the world to equate killing and dying – in short, violence – with our highest regard.

And why isn’t “serving your world” of even more importance than “serving your country”? Why do we place the most value on doing things that put our country before the welfare of the world? Isn’t that something like institutionalized selfishness? Or, a word more and more frequently being applied to the U.S., isn’t it like arrogance? Why wouldn’t the “whole” be more important than a “part” of the whole?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Some vegan links


Vegan Action

Vegan Outreach – Ending Cruelty to

EarthSave International –
promoting a shift toward a healthy plant-based diet

Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes,
Articles, Health Resource

Vietnam/Iraq – from Ruth Rosen

In early August came the surprising news that Vietnam, a country most of us couldn’t find on a map, had attacked one or more U.S. Navy destroyers. On August 7th, Congress, with only two dissenting votes, quickly passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that authorized the funding of the Vietnam War. Few of us who opposed the war the very next day could have imagined that it would shadow the next decade of our lives. And even now, after former Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara and many others have acknowledged that those attacks never happened, it’s hard to believe how little it took to convince Congress and the American people that Vietnam, like Iraq, represented an imminent threat to our country.

More on Ruth Rosen:

Rockridge Institute – Ruth Rosen

excerpt – George Lakoff interview

Back up for a second and explain what you mean by the strict father and nurturant parent frameworks.

Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.

The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that by adulthood will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.

So, project this onto the nation and you see that to the right wing, the good citizens are the disciplined ones — those who have already become wealthy or at least self-reliant — and those who are on the way. Social programs, meanwhile, “spoil” people by giving them things they haven’t earned and keeping them dependent. The government is there only to protect the nation, maintain order, administer justice (punishment), and to provide for the promotion and orderly conduct of business. In this way, disciplined people become self-reliant. Wealth is a measure of discipline. Taxes beyond the minimum needed for such government take away from the good, disciplined people rewards that they have earned and spend it on those who have not earned it.

From that framework, I can see why Schwarzenegger appealed to conservatives.

Exactly. In the strict father model, the big thing is discipline and moral authority, and punishment for those who do something wrong. That comes out very clearly in the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policy. With Schwarzenegger, it’s in his movies: most of the characters that he plays exemplify that moral system. He didn’t have to say a word! He just had to stand up there, and he represents Mr. Discipline. He knows what’s right and wrong, and he’s going to take it to the people. He’s not going to ask permission, or have a discussion, he’s going to do what needs to be done, using force and authority. His very persona represents what conservatives are about. 

Friday, December 17, 2004

“The Reason for the Season”


It’s December, and so the perennial billboards are up which state “Jesus is the reason for the season”, although of late they display the revised “Jesus is the only reason for the season”.

Perhaps the addition of the word “only” is to discourage the rampant consumerism we witness at this time of year. Or possibly it’s to put a damper on the Hannukah celebrations of Jews. Perhaps it’s to shame us for the secularism of our office Christmas parties. Maybe it’s a protest against the association between Santa and Christmas.

Basically, I think the message says that if you aren’t literally celebrating the (not actual) birthday of Christ, then you have no right to be observing and enjoying Christmas. But how many of us really experience Christmas that way? Certainly non-Christians don’t. And even though Bush won and everyone is jumping on the religion bandwagon, let’s be honest – many (most?) non-fundamentalist Christians don’t experience Christmas as a birthday party for a historical figure.

So all these people who enjoy Christmas but don’t experience it as a birthday celebration for Jesus, what exactly are their “reasons for the season”? Why do they feel such warmth and happiness during this season and what are they celebrating?

People have often commented that we see much more “good cheer” and “good will toward wo/men” during this season. Why do people feel so much goodness and generousity of spirit at Christmas time?

My guess is that immigrants to this country who celebrate Christmas enjoy the fun, the gift-giving, the decorations, the time with family and friends. But I think that the rest of us have strong positive emotional responses, in addition. Christmas conjures up feelings of warmth, family bonds, security, and joy (remember the magic of Santa and gifts when you were a child?).

In short, I think that Christmas takes us back to the emotional state we were in as children (assuming we were lucky enough to have been born in favorable family and financial situations). We looked forward to Christmas as freedom from school, a time of gifts and magic (you could even tell Santa what you wanted and then get it), a time when we could spend time with relatives who lived elsewhere, a time when the authorities (our parents) were in good spirits and went easy on us, a time with lots of good food and visitors and pretty decorations and lots of love all around.

Then we grew up and had responsibilities and bills and inflexible work hours and so many other stressors. We had to take care of ourselves and no longer felt the emotional security we grew up with. We got busy with our lives and lost touch with many friends and relatives, maybe even became less close to our siblings and parents.

But at Christmas time, every thing changes and the past returns. We all tend to continue to honor the tradition of reuniting with friends and family. We reach out to our neighbors and co-workers, even if we barely talk to them all year. We feel happy, and we feel a lightness in our heart. Why? I think it’s because the feelings of warmth, security, magic, and things being “right with the world” return. Those wonderful feelings from our childhood.

Christianity is the dominant religion in our country, and the media and governmental institutions all recognize it and honor it. The ubiguitous presence of Christmas in our culture at this time of year makes knowledge of the holiday unavoidable. Everyone – observant Christians, people raised as Christian but not fundamentalist in their beliefs, and people not raised in Christianity – all have their own experience of Christmas. And many, many have positive associations with Christmas, emotional reactions not related to a birthday celebration for Jesus.


I don’t think that Jesus would want to encourage the use of religion as a tool of divisiveness. I don’t think he would want people to focus on his (not actual) birthday, as though religion were meant to be an end in itself. I think he would encourage and rejoice in the spirit of goodwill, of love, of joy, of people reaching out to each other – once a year is better than never! I think he would want religion used as a means to an end, and that end would be love and compassion, leaving tribalism and divisiveness behind. I think he would say that the whole point is love, and it isn’t important if it’s this or that religion that gets you there, or if it’s your strong moral secularist values that get you there, or if it’s Santa who gets you there, or if it’s colored lights that help you see the world in a more enlightened and open-spirited way.

I think he would say that “love is the reason for the season”.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Immigrants and the American melting pot


I’ve heard many immigrants despair because their children are becoming Americanized and not retaining enough of their cultural heritage. I’ve done a lot of thinking about this subject, and I don’t agree that the original culture is the culture of the children. The children, born in America or raised for most of their childhood here, are obviously going to be, to a great extent, products of American culture. The original culture is something they learn by teaching or example from their parents, not something they experience first-hand. It’s only part of their identity because their parents have told them that it is. The culture the children grow up in and experience first-hand is the “American culture”.

That “American culture” has been shaped by the influx of immigrants’ cultures. Those original immigrants give a little to our culture, and take a little of our culture. In return, we do the same. That’s what the American melting pot is. There’s some kind of a constancy to being “American”, but it is always changing just a little bit with the ongoing addition of the input of immigrants.

But I think this effect is produced by the original immigrants, not by their children. I think that as time goes on, it is always the new immigrants who add a new aspect to our culture. It would be unnatural and probably cruel for immigrant parents to forcibly shape their American-raised children to be just as they would be had they not emigrated to the U.S. Plus, it would be disturbing the give-and-take of the American melting pot, for American culture would change, but the immigrants and their descendents never would.

Subverting the melting pot would lead to a much higher incidence of “foreigners” (for they would be seen as never acclimating) living in separate areas than “Americans”, and it would probably lead to more violence between Americans and immigrants, and between different immigrant groups. Plus, in many non-English speaking immigrant households, it’s the children who bridge the gap between America and the parents. If the parents did all they could to keep the children tied to the “original” culture, one in which they weren’t even raised, the children couldn’t bridge that gap very well. What’s more, the children would probably feel like they were living in limbo – identifying with a culture/nation in which they had never lived and not adjusting to the culture actually all around them.

So, while I understand that it must sadden immigrants to see their children becoming someone they themselves are not, I think it’s the most natural and healthy thing for the children to identify as Americans. Certainly, they will learn about the past lives of their ancestors, but they will integrate that “old” culture into their personalities in a much different way than their parents did.

There will always be new immigrants arriving to keep the “old cultures” alive in America. But second, third, and on generations are naturally going to be of a different culture. This situation is really the best of both worlds, I think – it allows America to give its own culture to the descendants of the original immigrants, and it allows for fresh immigrants to likewise give some of their original culture to America.

(BUT — I really do wish that immigrant children and descendants would help keep the native languages of their ancestors alive in America. Often immigrant children don’t want to seem “different”, and they refuse to learn the language of their parents. And I think that’s such a shame. Languages are so beautiful, and they’re so much harder to learn when you’re older. Speaking English *and* the language of their parents wouldn’t keep the children from being “real” Americans… )

A great commentary – CSM website


A couple of years ago I surprised myself by finding out I enjoyed reading editorials on the Christian Science Monitor website. They usually tend to be objective, non-judgmental, and non-proselytizing. Here’s the url to a recent commentary:
One Christian feeling hijacked by politics

The author speaks of no longer wanting to be a “public Christian”, because she worries that with the current political climate, that her personal beliefs will be used politically to make someone else feel uncomfortable.

Recycling is the “third R”


I really like the idea of recycling and I wish more people did it. But mostly I wish that those powers that be which promote recycling would put some energy into reinforcing ALL of the “r’s” of which recycling is the last option. The first, of course, is to reduce usage of any given thing. The second is to reuse the item. And only after those options do we then recycle.

To use the example of writing paper, we would first try to use less paper. That paper we did use, we would turn over and use another time. Finally, we would turn the paper into a recycling plant. In this way we use less paper and destroy fewer trees.

We really only hear about recycling in terms of newspapers and soda cans. We could certainly reduce our consumption of them, but it’s tough to reuse them. So I guess that’s why we only hear about the third r, recycling, in regards to them. But these three principles, or even one or two, could apply to many things we use today. I think that by emphasizing all three principles we might learn as a society to walk a little more softly on the earth, and we might learn to value such an approach to living.

Ancient religions as “myth”


I’ve been wondering why we refer to the religions of ancient civilizations (Greek, Egypt) as “myth”. We even take classes in high school called “Greek mythology”. If someone were to refer to a current religion as “myth”, there would be a great uproar. Does the difference in reaction have to do with there being no one left to stand up for the old religions? Is a religion only “true” or “real” as long as there is someone who believes in it literally?

If you were to point this out to a believer in a current religion, I think they would say that the ancient religions were myth and that they were silly and made no sense. I suspect that even the most respectful of religious people would at least *feel* that about even a current religion they don’t subscribe to. It seems that each religion on some level must encourage people to believe that theirs is the only “true” religion – in other words, I don’t think the average religious person sees religions as different but equal paths.

Really, what would be the point of learning all the intricate details of your particular religion, if it wasn’t the true religion? You’d be better of just taking from it the basics that all religions share, principles of goodness, honesty, etc. And you don’t need religion to learn those values – so then why would you need the religion at all?

So I’m thinking that any given religion can’t survive unless it continues to have people believe that it is the only true religion. Seen as equal paths, I think the different religions would begin to fade. People rarely choose their religion; they are born into it and simply believe what their parents believed. But no one is born into a religion with Zeus et al. anymore – so there is no one to be taught from infancy to believe in it, and there is no one to stand up and say that it is the true religion. So it’s okay to refer to those religions as “myth”…

So it seems we’re left with two choices – seeing religion as a means to an end (different but equal) and probably having them fade away (supplanted by other forms of “values education”), or seeing religion as an end in itself (believing your religion is the only “true” religion). One of the problems with this latter option, though, (besides not truly believing other religions or the values of secularists) is the amount of violence and war that results. I’m not sure we’ve made the right choice as a species….

Sunday, December 12, 2004

George Lakoff and reframing political discourse


National Public Radio/KPBS-San Diego has a great weekly program on words, called “A With Words”. It can be heard online at the following address:
KPBS – A Way with Words

Martha Barnett, one of the co-hosts, told me about a linquist at Berkeley named George Lakoff. His work includes explaining how Democrats have to reframe the issues and not let Republicans define what I’ve been calling “the value-laden words”. He has written several books (see end of post) and a recent column in the San Francisco Chronicle refers to his work:
UC scholar to help Democrats refine message / Party is urged to control policy debate

George Lakoff’s books:
Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, (2nd edition, 2002)
Don’t Think of An Elephant (2004)
Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About The Mind (1987), Metaphors We Live By (1980; 2003) [with Mark Johnson],
More Than Cool Reason (1989) [with Mark Turner],
Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge To The Western Tradition
(1999) [with Mark Johnson]

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Christianity and hell


Fundamentalists feel that sins weigh more heavily than goodness. They feel that people will go to (a literal) hell if they have an abortion, have sex before marriage, engage in homosexual sex, and many, many more things. Apparently it doesn’t matter what else you have done in your life, the number of good deeds, the compassion in your heart, the gentleness with which you walk on the earth. All that matters is if you do something bad.

That just seems to me to be so obviously a ploy the religious people of long ago worked out to scare people into not doing things that they didn’t want them to do.

I cannot believe that a god would care more about some (human-labeled) bad things than about good things. This logic of fundamentalists means that a person who didn’t do the “bad things”, but didn’t do much good either, would go to heaven. On the other hand, a person who spent their life helping others, but had sex before marriage and then an abortion, would go to hell.

That’s a pretty screwy conception of a god. Seems pretty evident to me that it’s a human-made view of god, not what any real god would be like.

Especially since all you’d have to do is repent at the end of your life, reassure an apparently insecure god that s/he is really god and really is “great”, and then you could go to heaven.

What kind of a person would make up a god like that…..?

Confirmation and our “choice” of religion


I was baptized Presbyterian and confirmed Methodist. I remember when it was time for my confirmation, I went from person to person asking why this ceremony marked my “choice” of Methodist, when no one had taught me the other options. How was it a choice? How was it any different than indoctrination? No one cared to answer that for me.

I don’t understand how people feel so strongly that their religion is the “right” one, when they were born into it. Occasionally a person changes religion, but that’s usually due to marriage, I think. The vast majority of people continue in the same religion they were raised in. Which is fine. But how can you think that yours is the “right” one, or that any one is right?

People don’t study the different religions when they are of an age with higher mental faculties. They don’t make a true choice. They are taught one religion from an early age and are never taught any kind of comparative religion nor encouraged to find the one that makes the most sense to them. Let’s face it, they are indoctrinated.

So in these circumstances, knowing very little about anything but their own religion, how can they say that theirs is “right” or “best”? Since they didn’t chose it and they haven’t compared it, do they think that theirs is inherently the “best religion” and they were just lucky enough to be born into it? Do they even realize that they didn’t make an informed choice? That people in other religions feel that their religion is “the best”? Doesn’t that say anything to them? 

The relationship between veal and milk


I remember when I was growing up, my mother always said we couldn’t eat veal because it was just a baby animal and it wasn’t right. And yet she gave us lots and lots of milk. She didn’t know that it’s the milk industry that is responsible for veal. They have to keep the cows pregnant so that they can keep giving milk. The babies born are then deprived of their own mother’s milk, made to live in the dark in a tiny cage for about 3-6 months (so their flesh is tender – lacking muscle – and white), and are then eaten as “veal”. So if someone really doesn’t like the idea of eating veal, they really should give up milk.

I find it interesting that we’re the only species that drinks the milk of another species, and the only species that drinks milk past infancy. The milk of each creature is different, designed for the growing needs of the young of that species. Cows grow very big very fast and so their milk is very high in protein, because the whole point of protein is to make things grow. It’s more protein than a human should have – humans take 18 years to reach maturity, not 6 months.

I always worry when I hear that someone I know is going on a high protein diet – our bodies are designed to run on carbohydrates. And those people are cutting out the good carbohydrates and eating the bad ones. Now that there has been time to do some longer term studies on people using these diets, they’re documenting the harm that high protein does. They’ve also found that the short-term weight loss these people enjoy is not due to the high protein, but to reduced calories, which they could have done in the first place with a healthier diet. But people will probably keep doing it, because they want the short-term weight loss, regardless of what long-term damage it does to their internal organs….

St. Francis, patron saint of animals


St. Francis is the saint you always see as a hooded-monk statue surrounded by birds and little animals. He is the patron saint of animals.

I’ve looked and looked and I can’t find any reference to him being vegetarian…..

I don’t understand people who say they love animals, but they wear their fur and skin, eat their flesh, and cause them to live horrible and short lives…. I think what they really mean is that they are “pet lovers”, not “animal lovers”…


Cherry picking from the Bible


The following is circulating on the internet:

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s law. I have learned a great deal from you and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them:

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not to Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

4. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

5. A friend of mine feels that, even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there “degrees” of abomination?

6. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

7. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

8. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

9. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them (Lev. 24:10-16)? Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws (Lev. 20:14)?

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Signed, Your faithful shee…er servant.

“Merry Xmas” or “Happy Holidays” ?


Today a woman I know was angry that society expects her to be “politically correct” and to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. She is Christian, a Republican, and she agrees with Ann Coulter that we should bomb the heck out of Iraq and convert the survivors to Christianity.

I told her that I like to say “Happy Holidays” to people when I don’t know what they celebrate – Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, Ramadan… in other words, I think I should say to the people the greeting appropriate to their own religion, unless I don’t know what it is, in which case I use the general greeting.

She seems to be wanting to give other people the greeting from her own religion, no matter what the religion is of the other person. I don’t think that makes sense. That’s analogous to us telling people “Happy Birthday”, when it’s our birthday, not theirs.

Religion and evolution


Over the course of humans’ existence on earth, new facts and understandings come to light and society adjusts the way it views the world around it. Generally this adjustment acknowledges that while we are different, we are also equal. It seems that the more that we learn, the less we need to repress those who are different than we are. That seems to me to be a good thing.

It occured to me today that maybe the reason that fundamentalists have a hard time accepting changes in society is related to the fact that they don’t believe in evolution. Perhaps they are so focused on an old, unchanging book that they can’t see reality in front of them. Maybe they don’t understand that knowledge didn’t end with the Bible, that with each generation we learn more and incorporate that learning into our world, making the world an everchanging place.

Perhaps they don’t know that those who don’t adjust ——– die off….


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Taxing meat like cigarettes and alcohol


Here’s a link with more information:

I always wonder why as a society we are able to see the justification in taxing harmful products such as cigarettes and alcohol, but we pay no attention to the meat/dairy industry. Besides having an even more powerful lobbying presence in Washington than the tobacco industry, the meat/dairy industry produces products that are more harmful than cigarettes when you consider their impact on health, the environment, the economy of the world’s poorer nations, and the sentient creatures we choose to exploit.

I guess it’s because only some people drink, and even fewer smoke, but almost everyone eats meat and dairy. I think it’s easier for people to point the finger at the societal ills they themselves don’t participate in. And yet so many more people end up in the hospital because of their voluntary diet – and it’s not asparagus or rice that is sending them there.

I am a vegan for moral reasons. But it’s the health argument that meat eaters seem more able to identify with. I haven’t eaten meat since 1985, and I haven’t eaten dairy since 1997 (apart from the milk protein slipped into the occasional processed food). When you go for awhile without eating animals or their products, and then you go into a restaurant and try to order some food, it bowls you over to read the menu. Virtually every food has meat in it, and as the main part of the meal. If a meal doesn’t have meat in it, it has dairy.

It really strikes you that Americans are “addicted” to meat on some level. Americans eat meat for every single meal, and often as snacks. There are people who think they will die without meat – even die if they only occasionally go without it. There are people who think that humans are carnivores – not the omnivores that we are. Omnivore doesn’t mean we must eat everything – it means we are capable of eating anything.

Even though we’re omnivores, it’s harder for our bodies to digest animal products, something which vegans/vegetarians discover if they have a momentary lapse and eat an animal product which their body is no longer used to digesting. They’ll be in the bathroom with terrible gastrointestinal distress all night. I always feel bad when I think about that and what we must be putting babies through when we start them eating animal products.

Humans didn’t start eating meat until the discovery of fire and the invention of weapons. If we had to eat meat to survive, we would have never evolved – we would have died out before fire and weapons. The countries with the best health are those who largely live on a vegetarian diet. When people from those countries move to America and adopt our diet, their health statistics mirror ours.

It’s interesting to me to note that humans survived on the “gathering” activities (collecting fruit and vegetables, etc.) of the women before the days when men became “hunters”. I wonder if the emergence of hunting bred in us our propensity to dominate other species and “weaker” or “inferior” members of our own species.

…..different ways to walk on the world….

But I think it would really be more just to tax all harmful things, not just the ones that the minorities participate in….. It’s the American way (at least, we say it is) to treat the majority and the minorities alike…



Hypenated last names


I don’t understand why women still change their names to their husband’s names and lose their identity when they get married. What I understand even less is the more recent use of hypenated names, as when a woman uses her maiden name and her husband’s name as her new last name. Usually the children keep the father’s name, but sometimes the children have the hypenated name. I always wonder what happens when the one hypenated person marries another. Does the wife now have four last names? This solution seems unworkable to me, and still requires that the wife give validity to the husband’s name, even while trying to hang on to her own, and while he does nothing to give validity to her name.

If there must be similarity in names within a family, why must it be the children having the same name as the father? Aren’t we beyond insecure men having to prove their paternity? Aren’t we beyond only valuing and honoring the “male” side of the family? Right now women’s maiden names are from the male side of her family of origin. But if women were to start taking their mother’s maiden name and passing it on to their daughters, we would start a tradition of honoring female lineage as we have traditionally only done with male lineage.

Right now last names only tell you the family of the father’s side of the family and nothing about the mother’s side of the family. If girls had their mother’s last name and boys had their father’s last name, you still wouldn’t have all the facts, but at least we wouldn’t be perpetuating the sexist tradition of stripping women of their identity in their own names and in those of their children.

Carol Adams’ writings


My favorite author is Carol Adams. I love her mind. She is an incredibly intelligent and well-spoken woman. I’ve seen her speak on a couple of occasions and have always been captivated by her ability to identify processes and articulate them so cogently. I just really love the way her mind works, not just the subject matter it focuses on.

Here is a link to her website. This website also includes interviews with Carol Adams.

She has written many, many books. My favorite is The Sexual Politics of Meat.
Here is a list of her 17 books.

Her website mentions the video “A Cow at my Table”. I own and really love this film. It has great interviews, showing many different perspectives of how activists view our society’s treatment of animals. It’s a very interesting and well-made documentary.

Here are two links to information about this video:

A Cow At My Table – All Creatures Book and Video Review Guide- life, heaven, earth, peace, justice, Bible study, discussion, …

Media Acclaim

Saturday, December 04, 2004

“Religion” as a codeword for “Christianity”


I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the use of the word “religion” in society today. We hear about the issues of religion in the public schools and religion in courthouses. Discussions about bringing religion back into public life attract many people because of their desire to have more decency and civility in our culture. But these arguments are using the word “religion” in a very disingenuous manner; it is being used as a codeword for “Christianity”. Do you think that if the Star of David, and only the Star of David, were to be displayed at a courthouse, these people would feel that religion was being allowed back in public life?

Were these “religion in public life” supporters to actually use the word “Christianity”, it would be very clear that their main purpose is not to increase people’s compassion, honesty, and civic-mindedness, but rather to further proselytize their own narrow interpretation of “the way”. That’s why they know that the issue must be couched in the rhetoric of “religion” in general, and that’s why it’s a very specious argument. The generalized use of the word makes the argument seem to be about values, when really it’s about ideology.

To those of us who are concerned about values in today’s society, let’s remember that religion is only one way to build values, and that Christianity is only one religion of many. “Religion”, “Christianity”, and “values” are increasingly being presented as synonymous, and we run the risk of losing sight of the very values we need to be having a discussion about.

Let’s put Christianity aside for the moment. Staying focused on the present day and on what basic values we want to see encouraged in society (honesty? fairness? responsibility?) will make us more likely to stay on track and less likely to get lost in large ideological or historical disagreements between religions. We might actually find common ground and make some progress toward helping our youth and our world.

posted by Barrington | 2:36 AM |



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