Remember When Obama Won The Election?



I’m really glad no one has ever told me shut up about what I learned in seminary, because honestly, without that education I would be useless.  I know a fair amount about poetry, knowledge that doesn’t serve me so much when the economy tanks (I can barely count) or when a tire needs changing or a pilot light goes out.  The combination of gas and fire:  scary.  Even when the subject is poetry what I know is of scant value, or . . . take this exchange, for instance.  Last night J. Shue and I were talking about something he was working on and I suggested he run it through My Patented Sonnetizer to eliminate waste.  He was unsure of sonnet structure, which I assured him he could learn quickly.  Learning the form and mastering it are separate categories, of course.  I recommended the text I use, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and went on to say, with a boastful tone, that I had recently whooped up on a villanelle.  (I should have mentioned that it was a villanelle about Ezra Pound.)  Jim looked up the definition of ‘villanelle’ and came back with:  “I especially enjoyed the last line of the definition ‘It is terribly obsessive and can bring out the emotions of any neurotic writer.’”  (Ezra Pound was the master of traditional forms, I also could have said.)  Then Mr. Shue went to bed.  I was left staring at those words, it is terribly obsessive (Pound is, of course, a metaphor – no, that’s not quite right . . . certainly he bears an enormous cultural weight) and can bring out the emotions of any neurotic writer.  (Seriously, if you know Pound’s astonishing body of work, along with his scandalous – and tragic – history, even attempting a villanelle was gutsy, and stupid, on my part.)

If I ran my life through My Patented Sonnetizer most of the fourteen lines remaining would be what I’ve learned from Quakers.  For instance, I encountered someone – a long, long time ago now – who believed that her mind shouldn’t be damaged by reading literature from or about the Holocaust.  OH CHIRREN.  May I just say that I was a skyscraper of dudgeon – not out loud, obviously . . . wait.  It’s possible a few words leaked out.  I forget.  But I sure remember what went on inside:  I became physically ill, I was so angry.  I had a difficult time continuing in the class I loved, because my stomach clenched into a fist every time I saw a person I had formerly respected.*

*Let the record show that she expressed this opinion with a great deal of conviction.

As I said, that was a long time ago.  But I learned something valuable from the fraught occasion.  Our stoked dudgeon is most high when we believe the cause to be sacred, regardless of whether it is.  For me there was nothing more holy than to bear witness to the suffering and death of twelve million innocent people – to have the courage to merely learn what they endured – and to treat the survivors of the genocide with as much respect as is humanly possible.  And I had a righteous argument to validate my opinion:  the survivors themselves wanted us all to know what happened, believing that we might prevent it from ever happening again. 

My colleague didn’t want to live with those images on her memory loop. 

While I’m not sorry for the years I spent diligently learning everything I could in both Holocaust history and literature, I’m far less assured that my doing so is much comfort to the dead, or that my effort will have any bearing on whether history repeats itself.  I was never going to participate in anti-Semitism, homophobia, the wholesale slaughter of the Roma, intellectuals, or children with learning disabilities anyway, was I, or I wouldn’t have been a student of those classes in the first place.  And if a tyrant rises to the office of Chancellor (without even gaining a clear majority of the popular vote!  imagine that!) in either our beautiful experiment in democracy, or in the Weimar of the imagination – can’t see how I’m going to prevent it by reciting my favorite Hasidic folk tales.  And it’s not my place to force a peer or colleague to take in the details if she would prefer not to have them, whatever her reasons. 

What a shock to discover there are people who will argue with the same passion about sports. The location of a ball.  Maybe a uniform, I can’t tell what the fight concerns at depth.  (Pound’s radio broadcasts out of Italy – this point is just not made often enough – during WWII, were the basis of his trial for treason.  He could hardly have been guilty of giving much aid or comfort to the enemy, since his addresses were grounded in economic theory, rather than political.  The Axis countries had their own Ministers of Propaganda – they didn’t need an American poet to explain anything to them.  His Italian was flawless, it should be noted.)

I’m not nearly so sassy these days.  I’m sure I still get the righteousness on, but it helps that there’s no one to hear it but my taxidermy.  Also?  BARACK OBAMA IS OUR NEW PRESIDENT.  It’s going to take at least eight years for THAT to get old.

Published in: on November 11, 2008 at 11:32 pm  Comments (386)  


  1. I’ve been studying the Holocaust for years via my Dad, who is a WWII buff. I remember watching a movie as a child where a Nazi urinated on the bodies of the murdered being thrown into a pit. I screamed, and wept, and threw my shoes at the television.

    Then later on I beat my brother up and told him I hated him. My parents threw up their hands. “Have you learned NOTHING from the Holocaust?”

  2. It is hard to believe Obama is president, esp. since all I keep hearing about is Sarah Palin’s missing clothes. Sigh. I am thrilled to death, and look forward to our nation moving forward.

    I am completely obsessed with the Holocaust. Have been since a child. When I went to the British War Museum and saw the entire floor dedicated to those poor lost souls I was numb. I saw a gigantic model of one of the death camps that terrified me! Not the normal stuff a honeymooner does. A few years back I went to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, and completely lost it. I was hysterical, causing a scene, I was actually embarrassed by my hysteria. I knew that girl, and then when I saw how she lived … then, I bought the true diary in the gift shop. Fascinating. Her father had taken all the juicy bits out of the diary, and finally, they had been put back in. That child was AMAZING!

    I have never understood blind date towards another person. I only have the energy to hate like three people in this world, all known very well to me and were evil towards me for no good reason. But to hate an entire race … just foolishness.

  3. Whoops, I meant blind hate. I can’t spell, I’m too tired after cleaning up the worst candle wax spill of my life! Got all over the walls, the desk, the carpet, my husbands briefcase and gym bag. I’m in trouble tomorrow when he wakes up.

  4. Well I’ve never understood blind dates either!

  5. YES! This is an idea I’ve always struggled with–wondering how those who need to learn something ever will because they’re not the type who learn things in the first place. Those who are open-minded become even MORE so, while those who are closed off and prejudiced and unwilling to see the gray, the messy in-between stuff, NEVER will. How is progress to come about? When the side who wants to share things has no one to share them with, because the other side refuses to listen? BUT THEN…it happened. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Not by a small margin, not by a tiny bit more of the popular vote, but by a MANDATE. All sides, all types, people from every walk of life, black/white/hispanic/ gay/straight/young/old/rich/poor/men/women/suburbanites/urbanites–they ALL voted for HIM. And now what I have to struggle with/realize is this…our society IS progressing. It seems so foreign. But it is HAPPENING, and it’s just such a beautiful thing. I keep having to remind myself. And say just what Haven did, apropos of nothing, “Remember that time when Obama WON?”

  6. Anne With An A pretty much said it for me. I was most struck by this line: “I was never going to participate in anti-Semitism, homophobia, the wholesale slaughter of the Roma, intellectuals, or children with learning disabilities anyway, was I, or I wouldn’t have been a student of those classes in the first place.” It’s a catch-22.

  7. Dear Haven,

    I have read your books a bit obsessively since a friend gifted me The Solace of Leaving Early because she loved the title. I gifted it back to her and told her she must read it, and I think I told her that she must love it, really. And she did. And I have wanted to write you a letter since then, to let you know how much I really treasure your work and to say thank you. I don’t know if that was the time before blogs, or just before I discovered yours, but sometime in the meantime I started grad school and got a bit more deliberate about talking about literature, so I had forgotten how much I wanted to just say thank you. (This is surely not the fault of grad school, since it is here that I work on Pound and that is what reminded me – this post). Before grad school I worked in a church, and I used to go to a lot of funerals – a hazard of church work. I started going to make sure things ran smoothly, which was part of my job. The funeral service of the Episcopal Church is an achievement of some order, I don’t know if you have been to one? Some are just celebrations – the 82 year old trumpeter’s funeral was pretty amazing and very cheerful. But I made a point of going to the hard ones too. The young writer who had died of cancer. The soldier whose whole team was burned up when an IED hit their Humvee. And it hurt me to go to those, and I didn’t do it to fix anything, or because those people who I didn’t know would appreciate it. I did it because I have a vague idea that one should bear witness to the passing of a life.
    Right. I am not sure how you managed to talk about Pound and the Holocaust in a way that seems reasonable and fair and kind. I am not sure I can pull that off, although I would like to. I would like to say that the importance of Pound and the Holocaust both seem to be about bearing witness to a life, to lives. But I would add only that as much as Night doesn’t change your mind about anti-semitism or racism, it changes your mind. as everything worthwile that we read changes our minds. As it shows us what a voice will sound like after THAT, after that which is too horrible to really be spoken. As the voice of the Pisan cantos are awesome and awful for being the voice of a man in a cage.

    This is too long for a comment! when I really just wanted to say thank you.

  8. In April 1993, I covered the opening of the Holocaust Museum for The Star. I wrote a pretty decent story. Also this poem:


    Sit before the 4,000 pairs of Jew shoes at the Holocaust Museum.

    Sit there, be their witness.

    The smell of old leather and mildew leeches into the air, and feet, the smell of those who were forced to walk, run, stumble and fall to their own murder.

    The shoes, one daintily untied, the lace intact, removed by one with hope and the blessed assurance that if you take good care of your feet, your feet will take care of you.

    This shoe, shined; that one, scuffed.

    This one ripped from the foot of a dead one by a brave officer. A bloodstain on the arch.

    That one, a child size; this one, a woman’s 6 and beaded; that one, a crushed wing-tip, ever stylish.

    Brown shoe, black shoe. Look! Whose wooden clog? Whose house slipper?

    Now, let’s bear witness to those who walked toward the machine gun, wondering when they would walk in their shoes again.

    Now, let’s bear witness to those who stood barefoot, their shoes already collected, when the Zyklon B pellets began falling from the chamber’s vents.

    Eyelets and Heels

    Tongues and Soles

  9. Hooray, Aileen – grad school hasn’t ruined your ability to be engaged with literature!

    If you look back at past posts, you will realize that there isn’t a length limit around here. And certainly not for thoughtful posts such as yours.

  10. Aileen, believe me, whatever you are thanking me for — I was lucky to get to do it.

    And can I just skip ahead and say that I read the whole of THE CAGED PANTHER before beginning the villanelle? There is so much to know in that story, those breathtaking poems.

    You are right about bearing witness to life, and I continue to do it when the gesture seems . . . unambiguous, not about me. I still acquire new books about the Holocaust, although I can’t always read them. My deepest faith remains Kierkegaardian — I’ll never cease to believe that purity of heart is to will one thing. Even if it were achievable, I could never take anyone along with me. There was simply no profit in being angry at someone for not sharing my position, which also seems to be yours. That’s all I meant to say. I studied what I did for the evolution of my own soul, which, as Dickinson said, knows her own Society.

    Thank you sincerely for everything you wrote above, and please continue to visit when you have a chance.

  11. THE NIGHT OBAMA WAS ELECTED will go down in my life memory book . . . I was logged onto this heavenly blog and we were all counting down the states and the red and blue, and I was also on Facebook where Brandon was . . . and I got to do a happy pants dance with everyone as I balled my eyes out (it was a mental dance as I was in back pain at the time).

    Holocaust – this is so much about people being lead and following instead of making conscious decisions in their lives, and yet many Germans were drowned in the danger as well (threatened with starvation and retribution if they stood against the Reich) – many other groups were condemned as well as the Jewish people – “deviant artists/musicians/gypsies/figuratively disabled . . . or if you looked at someone the wrong way” . . . I don’t believe that closed minds are completely hopeless, I do think that it is difficult to find or create cracks in the veneer of their worldview, but I do believe it can be done.

    Bearing witness is a powerful tool and is actually one of the specific reasons that I create art. I almost have more feeling about this than I can express in a few words . . . it is my hope that I bear witness of an open mind and that I help steer my children to a life of non-judgment and the cessation of stone casting.

  12. Come back soon, Aileen, you will love it here.

    George. George, George, George. What is there to say?

    Can your article be found online or can you post it for us on Yahoo?

  13. Sher, I so envy and admire your ability to express yourself in your art. What a wonderful gift.

  14. I’m having trouble engaging with this topic tonight…I think it’s because it is something I have wept over and puzzled over for so many years…and right now I have a hard time getting in touch with those emotions.

    Hugh and I keep talking about the Obama’s…I really think this is the new Camelot.

  15. I should have said, “When you have THE chance,” up there, and I could fix it but, I don’t know. It’s fine.

  16. I’ll see if The Star library can dig up the article. I am already on a mission with them on behalf of good man Socks.


    That poem was a bit on the bleak side. Sorry.


    I have not been back to the Holocaust Museum and I used to ride my bike past it on my way to work.

  17. Bleak is good George. I mean, how else can you write a poem on such a topic??

  18. George, we had the privilege, if that is the right word, of visiting the museum a little over 8 years ago. Kim, one of my best friends’ grandfather and great uncle came to this country and tried to make enough money to get the rest of the family out. They didn’t have enough time.

    The shoes. What a simple yet powerful display. I physically could not breath. The museum was a gut-wrenching awful experience that I myself am in no hurry to repeat. We found ourselves racing through the latter exhibits. But at the end, the Remembrance Hall (if that’s the right name) with all the votives lit in memory of those lost was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Lighting a candle for Kim’s lost family just seemed the right thing to do.

  19. The shoes. Whoever thought of that…brilliant. No one EVER forgets the shoes. Indeed, it is the thing I remember the most.

  20. I agree bleak is good George, and certainly apt in this case.
    Hitting the sack early tonight after a long day’s work. Have a good night everyone.

  21. I think this election happened in the nick of history. Last summer, before I began visiting here, I re-read Sinclair Lewis’ book, It Can’t Happen Here, about America going fascist under the leadership of a right wing fanatical evangelist. All I could think was how perilously close our society was lurching toward that in the three or four years after 911 under Bush and the truly evil Cheney and Rumsfeld.

    It will take years for Obama to undo the damage.

    What I hope for most is that he empowers us to makes things better and just be a little bit better right where we stand.

    We gave him a mandate; let’s also claim one for ourselves.

    I was particularly struck by the last few sentences in the New Yorker link Haven posted in her previous blog entry.

    “Despite general prosperity—at least until recently—the percentage of poor children in America is greater today than it was thirty years ago. One in six children lives below the poverty line. If you want an emergency, Mintz says, there’s one.”

    I can hardly bear the reality of that quote.

    Right now, celebration is order because we have reclaimed this nation; but Obama is so right when he says there is much work to be done.


    Hey JimShue…I am still on the case. I will get that article for you!


  23. Polly – thanks for the art compliment – when I get really STUCK verbally, the visual outlet saves my life. Plus you don’t have to know english to get me!

    George – that poem is heartbreakingly evocative (that word is SO overused, but really) . . .

    John M & I adore shoes . . . they are the perfect metaphor for humanity.

    I saw the Titanic artifacts while they were on exhibit and the SHOES just slayed my soul, from the tiny baby button-ups, to the swanky men’s loafers to the women’s evening slippers and the 3rd class workboots . . . they told the whole story.

    Also, I know most of you may not appreciate the TV – but I think it is the same thing as internet/alcohol – it is about selection and restraint.

    I have learned so much from tv – from having just 3 stations in the 70’s – the thousands available today – I select what to watch, watch it and there is a turn off button. I tend to like to multi-task, like right now I am half-assed watching about ART on Ovation TV (also looking during the commercials to see my or my friends’ artwork) . . . to the History channel . . . I still watch the Art & Symphony for Babies . . . so I can’t join the bashing TV club, sorry!

    The TV was also responsible for some great family talks with our teens – especially as the like to watch Oprah with me (note: we do homework, research, I knit or sketch, we are never VEGGING out in front of the tube). But Lauren and I were watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the other day while we were both on the laptops . . . Don comes in and tells her to sweep all the hardwoods downstairs . . .and she said “But Mommy (both my teens still call me ‘mommy’ which I love) are having some quality time together”!!!

    It was so true, I was reading quotes from this blog, she was showing my youtube sights and sending me sockmonkeys on Facebook and we were both “watching” the movie salivating over Cedric Diggery’s pictures on the mirror and RON – – it is such a small communication but watching her smile light up her face when I send her a comment that I love her t-shirt is priceless, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  24. My mom has said over and over “I was a GREAT mother. I sat on the floor and watched Looney Toons with you everyday.” She’s right.

  25. Kate – that is precious – I used to be so obsessed with a clean house (I was so thankful to have 4 solid walls, real roofs and floors without holes) that I tended to clean too much – then I finally realized as some point it was best to just join in the fun, go to the park, let them ‘help’ make the beds, cook with me, it didn’t matter how fast or how well it got done, we did it together!

  26. Kate – I find it hard to verbalize about the Holocaust and many other autrocities, too. I think that might be why I did turn to visual art? It is like there is too much welling up inside about it – I get it, sometimes there is just nothing else to added . . . it is just so wrong.

  27. I’ll have to quiz my kids and see if I have any sayings?

  28. This really should go on the parenting blog but yeah!! My kids helped me do the dishes today, and clean up…something about yesterday’s blog really hit something for me and I worked really hard on being tough, but fair, and kind. I didn’t cut them any slack. Linus folded towels and did dishes, and I could have wept at his pride at folding up all those towels. It was just what he told Daddy when he got home. We ended the day by all playing horsie and having a Christmas Music Dance Party. It was GREAT.

  29. Good night, you blessed insomniacs…I expect to see five hundred and eleventy posts tomorrow AM.

  30. I’m turning in at 12:30. Hugh is already asleep in the recliner.

  31. Kate – look up any generic html coding and use it as you type . . . for instance, if you add – I have to space them out so it won’t visualize

    before your word, then after your word, the word betwixt the coding will be bold . . . facebook has a great link to very simple html coding . . . after typing 5 million press releases today it was happening naturally and then it showed up on my comment . . .

    yippee – it does slow your writing/typing down, though!

    Cleaning with kids – they LOVE it, mine were so disappointed when they became too big to get in the dryer and push out the clothes . . . and making a bed would take an hour but we had the most “get under the tent/this is a hurricane” FREE fun – and try making the bed with Linus in it, then SIT on his lump and ask if there is a pea in the bed . . . it is hysterical…also wrap them up like mummies (set them on one end, have them hold the sheet, roll them up (and quick if you are on carpet, snap the loose end and they roll out – we call this ‘unwinding the mummy’ – – the sheets do, eventually get, changed.

    Here is a poem I wrote soon after having my “let them help me clean” breakthrough:

    How It Feels To Be Unlabeled Me
    Written April 17, 2003

    Inspired by Zora Neal Hurston’s How It Feels To Be Colored Me

    How does it feel to be unlabeled me?
    Am I generic? I cannot be
    How to define an elusive label?
    Enlighten me, please! If you are able

    So many parts, so many fractures to see,
    Like a cubist version, I seem to be
    Cracked and broken, glued whole again.
    Overlapped and upside down, with no end.

    One dimension of me is the artist within.
    Three dimensions of me is the children – oh, them?
    Another dimension is the husband – oh, he?
    How in the world does he put up with me?

    More questions than answers
    More love than hate
    Less time for them all
    Less of me, I’m late

    Never-ending – pouring in, pouring out
    My cup runneth over – I shall not pout
    Twirling in circles, our world’s a wonder
    Shades of gray to me, ‘wilst I’m torn

    Do this, do that – be here, be there
    Don’t forget to breathe the beauteous air
    Look at the moon, so round and so bright
    Feeling the pressure squeezing me tight

    I’m a many-armed octopus
    A split-persona – salutations from us
    Mommy and honey, sissy kay and [GASP]
    So many Me’s, I forget to switch

    Cynical one minute, solemn in thought
    Not comprehending the disasters we’ve
    Continuing my journey, the answers are
    Optimistic I’ll receive my lessons to bear

    Traveling in books to lands far way
    Knowing in the end, I’m right here to stay
    Deepening my reserves, exploring and
    In this life what I’ve learned – sorting
    and shelving

    People might say as a Mom I’m a mess
    My daughter wears cowboy boots with her
    The beds are unmade, the laundry’s in
    Let’s take a walk, keep trekking for miles

    Homework gets done, but maybe tomorrow
    Talk to me please, share each joy and
    each sorrow
    We try to remember to kiss and to hug
    I’ll leave the dishes, just give me a tug

    My siblings are many, 4 girls and 3 boys
    Still just as crazy as when we fought
    over toys
    The Adventure People are upon my shelf
    Reminding me plenty of all aspects of self

    Pippi reprises our patches and tears
    Still laughing loudly at our ridiculous
    When we’re together – it’s thunderous
    Conspiring and continuing our slamming of

    Watching our children, reflecting our
    We clasp hands, one by one, as we rally
    the troops
    Celebrating the births, grieving the
    beloved and gone
    Most emotional, the tallest, the baldest – that’s John

    So it’s artist today, and Mommy it’s true
    Yesterday’s sissy, and now Honey, too
    Sher to my friends, that’s nothing new
    I’ll glance in the mirror and think
    “who are you?”

    Don’t box me in! Labels are impossible
    Don’t even try – unless it’s removable!
    Twisting and turning, changing each day,
    I’m not confused, I like it that way!

    (NOTE – I know nothing about meter and that highbrow form, so I just write what comes out, how it comes out . . .)

  32. Oh, I come frequently! And enjoy the comments. I just usually sit in the back quietly. But this evening I was compelled – I find it difficult not to spill over about Pound. And I didn’t mean to suggest that I didn’t understand the complications of the responses to such things. things is an innocuous word for death and torture and extinction. And certainly I believe that responses to such events (events!) are deeper in us than we perhaps even try and put in words. And for the people who don’t want to see it – well, I can understand being angry about it, but I can also understand it. Although for me often the part that I feel that I cannot bear is the narrative that people impose on the experiences. The structure and reason inherent in sentences, paragraphs, applied to such… things. That is what my body revolts against. But then, sometimes, sense is made out of it perfectly. Or at least, the sense of senselessness? Is this why we all feel the shoes? There is nothing mediating for us, nothing assuaging or building a society of common views. I read A Ministry of Fear a few weeks ago, and there is a fairly minor character who disappears and is discovered, chapters later, to have left behind only the evidence that wouldn’t burn up in a fire – buttons, zippers. The bits that hold the rest together. Ah. I can only be so suspicious of the words for so long. I don’t have it in me to hold out against them.
    Only, I guess, there are scars that I give myself, or at least set myself up for, because they enrich me, and no, I don’t expect anyone else to inflict on themselves the same ones, or even expect it to be good for everyone. It’s like the education of Taos? Not everyone can bear to learn like that, and probably everyone cannot bear it all the time, and we ought to allow each other to be fragile and especially to know it in ourselves and be protective.
    Ok. Off to bed. It’s been a pleasure!

  33. ok – off to bed meself – long day in Huntsville tomorrow with artist’s talk and going to visit student studios for visiting artists critiques . . . if my back holds up this will be the sign of being back in the game . . . and back to workouts . . . hum, I did enjoy that “resting thing” – might need to do it more often.

    Air hugs to all the blog babies, I’ll miss your souls tomorrow!

  34. Aileen – you eloquently described the indescribable – 3 gold stars for you!

  35. Ah, Aileen — that’s a very good point, the narrative structure cast around unspeakable events. I’ve come to feel awe when I find such a narrative. Night is a good example. There is at least one, maybe five, even ten? indelible images you might take away from the text, and in that way he has served the story at the level of image, which makes it real in the psyche, in the gut or the heart. But what I remember even more pointedly is his clean, clear prose: a testament to Wiesel’s resilience and to the power of his mind. What better way to say to those ghosts, or to the living threat of Fascism, that he may have been tortured, he may have seen blood-curdling atrocities, he may have lost everyone he loved, but he didn’t bend at the level of his will?

    Imagine believing you were setting up a dictatorship that would rule for a thousand years. Imagine triggering — with demonic deliberation — a chain of events that would kill 45 million people, and to have constructed a real, actualized version of Hell in order to systematically murder as many people as quickly as possible. It’s not enough that they lost, it isn’t enough that Hitler put a bullet through his own skull, I rejoice in the fact that the boy who endured those crimes wasn’t defeated even at the strata of the sentence. Wiesel is STILL here, it is HIS version of events to which we pay our highest honors. All the Nazi Socialist Party left behind is an interminable scroll of facts and figures, a lot of sickening engineering. I know very few of their names; even the most villainous of those black-booted wind-up toys fades from memory. Elie Wiesel might very well be remembered for a thousand years, because beauty is a form of immortality. It is deeper than an open grave.

  36. That holocaust thing really was nasty. I like to use it as an argument against my pacificism. Then it occurs to me World War II was not about saving the Jews, it’s just a convenient argument against pacifism. We don’t even need to get into the debate of whether the American Civil War was fought to end slavery.

    This abomination was even more bad than that abomination. What about the Trail of Tears; we still feature the Terrorist President on our currency.

    Yeah, and what about Rwanda? I’m hard pressed to decide which was more horrific, the systematic execution of the Jews in a civilized culture or the demonic massacre of a minority population in a predictable historic continuum. But then, it’s not a competition, is it?

    And that’s where the whole historic perspective has to come into play. Civilization does progress. Massacres, genocides, become somewhat less likely over time because people more and more see people in other places as people, and not just as foreigners. And communication furthers that process.

    Except of course when you consider war. Unfortunately, our political and religious systems are still able to trick people into going to war.

    You don’t react the same to the firebombings of the German and Japanese cities, even though essentially those were attrocities committed against women and children. And you don’t even react at all to the deaths of men who happen to be “enemy combatants.” The soldiers who are killed in wars are no more to blame than the children, they are just doing what they think they are supposed to be doing.

    And now you are celebrating the election of a man who won the nomination from his party based on opposition, not to war, but to A war. He openly acknowledges he does not oppose war per se, just that particulary idiocy.

    So, fine, you should feel better about genocides of members of a society, because awareness and understanding will lessen the likelihood of a repeat. But the bigger problem is that warfare will ultimely result in the eradication of all civilization, not just a part of it.

  37. Can I just say, the euphoria from Obama’s victory was so lovely and then the media went and ruined it all. They didn’t even give the guy 24 hours to bask in changing the ever loving history of this country before they started all the gloom and doom of how hard the work is ahead of him and oh, is he up to the task and oh he can’t possibly fulfill all the expectations of him and on and on and on.

    Come on! Just let the guy (and the NATION) be happy for a few days at least.

    On Holocaust literature: when I was going to do a PhD (instead of having a child) I was going to write my dissertation on various uses of memory in Holocaust literature. There are these wonderful moments in the various texts that I’ve read where the authors and characters talk about their minds checking out of the present moment and living in the past. And then there are the post-Holocaust scenes where previously blocked memories come back to them at odd moments. Almost as if our minds are incapable of dealing with a present reality and so they don’t but there is a part of them that keeps working on that moment until it can deal with it. You see the same thing in partition literature, I suppose it would hold true for all literature representing extreme situations…

  38. A Holocaust survivor spoke to my daughter’s high school earlier this week. My daughter related to me that one her fellow students asked him the question of whether a Nazi soldier had ever shown him any kindness. He said, yes, one time.

    The speaker was Czech but she spoke fluent German. He was in the concentration camp from age 14-18. At one point he was “promoted” to a job overseeing a machine that bend rods into different shapes for construction purposes. Tha man whom he replaced had died when the machine crushed his leg and he bled to death. The gentleman who spoke to the students told them he was very glad to get the job because it was much less labor intensive than most of the other jobs as the machine did the hard work (all he had to do was pay attention so as not to have a limb amputated!). At one point he was reading the specifications on a certain job and they did not add up. He didn’t want to waste time and material making the wrong part so he walked over to the young soldier standing guard over the workroom and told him about the error he had found.

    My daughter said that the man told them that when the soldier heard him speak he said, “You are not a Jew.” The teen said he was indeed a Jew. The soldier said, “But you speak German.” The soldier had been told that Jews were not German, did not speak German, were not like them. The soldier was so taken aback by this that he went over to his lunch box, took out a sandwich, and gave it to the boy.

  39. I have to leave in a few minutes, but forgot to report an event yesterday . . .

    I was discussing the loveliness and gentleness of Quakerism and she said,

    “Nixon was a Quaker.” Very deadpan . . .

    I was like:

    “Was he?”

    And then we just laughed because we have this Christian/Christ-like conversation many times: I feel like that when some people say they are Christians, oh – are you Christlike? Because I don’t remember that part of the book where he was a manipulative sabotager, back-stabbing, hypocritical jerk?

    In any event – it was pretty funny. Maybe it was a ‘you had to be there’ event. But isn’t it sad when a religion gets a bad reputation because of one person?

    Some fiction I have enjoyed which worked Holocaust into the plot “Beach Music” by Pat Conroy – that book leveled me flat.

    I documentary I saw on TV (that evil entitiy 🙂 ) Paperclips, about a middle school that helps honor those lost in the Holocaust, where in Winfield TN, they renovated one of the cattle cars used in the transport of Holocaust victims, and people don’t 1 paperclip per their person loved ones lost . . . mountains of paperclips . . . also they have items from survivors and victims . . . it is heartbreaking and beautiful.

    I still advise renting the movie MAX which is about Hitler’s art agent and played by John Cusack. It is at the heart of the idea of geneocide.

    NIGHT – did anybody see the Oprah interview with Wiesel at the concentration camp he was in? There was also memorials to the victims via the OBJECTS collected from them. Their shoes, their HAIR (which just – wow), their suitcases, their clothes . . . it is available and Wiesel is my perfect example of resilience which is some flame of life that cannot be extinguished which not everyone has.

    have to go . . .

  40. oops, not don’t BUT donate . . . quinkydink

  41. linda – wish I could stay on . . . but I have to go!

    Let’s plan another get together! Hope you are bouncing back!

  42. T.V. is not evil, per se.

  43. Will it ever get old? Obama being president? What I love best is that for children being born now and even children up through pre-adolescence, there will never have been a time when it wasn’t possible. I think of my nieces Savannah and Clare (both approaching their terrible twos) and Mikaela (six…?) and their world is going to feel markedly different than ours. Mikaela’s first memories of a presidency, later in life (if my own failure to remember much of anything preceding age 5), will in all likelihood be memories of Obama’s. We’ve given a significantly altered world to future generations that cannot be taken away. Books and films that deal with race are going to feel different to them — and different in ways we cannot imagine, different in ways none of us (coming, as we have, from generations in which a black man becoming president did, indeed, feel impossible) never be able to share. What I love best, I suppose, is that the full measure of just how extraordinary this is may never be taken — may never be able to be taken…

  44. ” But isn’t it sad when a religion gets a bad reputation because of one person?”

    Religion doesn’t get a bad reputation from one person. It gets a bad reputation from many people, whole groups of people.

  45. Filbert Hockey:

    Good to see the squirminess of featuring Andrew Jackson on our national currency mentioned. I work in retail as a bookseller in a part of the country with more Native Americans than most parts of the country, and every time I count back change to a man or woman from one of the surrounding reservations, it always makes me feel uneasy that those 20-dollar bills showcase a man responsible for so much horror to the collective Native American experience. How is it different from a Jewish man or woman having change counted back to him or her with Hitler’s portrait featured on this coin, or that bill? I’m not sure it is, and yet no one (or almost no one) bats an eyelid.

  46. I found the video for that ‘Yes We Can song’ that’s on the PalinasPresident site, turned

  47. 4 years ago Steph and I were in DC for the march for womens rights which in itself was a profound movement. We decided to stay a few extra days and see the city. The holocoust museum was one of our last stops. We knew we would leave there raw and numb, and we did but what I remember most was this.

    They had an exhibit on the lower floor detailing Hitlers desire to build a “pure” race, and the horrible things that were happening to people there. Anyway, we overheard a man speaking to a couple of friends as they were staring at a picture. It turns out it was a picture of his parents with him as a young boy. One of his parents Jewish and the other was not. He had been smuggled to the States and never saw his parents again.

    Steph and I were just to entranced to not butt in, and talk to him. It was an amazing story, but the best part was when he suddenly grabbed my wifes face in his hands and told her to do what his father told him and to always live. If we have two bottles of wine drink the best one now, because you never no. 4 years later and I have tears in my eyes thinking about it.

  48. “Elie Wiesel might very well be remembered for a thousand years, because beauty is a form of immortality. It is deeper than an open grave.” – HK

    Whooo. Wow. That’s a keeper.

  49. That is an amazing story, Scott. I have heard of things like that happening frequently at the Holocaust Museum. That survivor was so right, too. All we really, ever, ever have is this moment right now, isn’t it?

  50. I don’t mean to be contrary, because I always agree with this wonderful group of wise souls, but I have to say, I sort of (emphasis on the sort of) understand the woman Haven knew that didn’t want the ugliness of the holocaust in her memory loop. I’m not defending it, but I do understand being selective about what we allow in our mind – for example, I avoid violent films because I don’t want that gratuitous ugliness in my memory forever. And I read my PETA magazine with my hands near my eyes because I know sometimes the magazine includes articles and photos illustrating animal suffering, and I don’t want those images in my mind. That is not to say I am not realistic about the world, or suffering – I know it happens, and I do all I can to help end it. But I try to keep images that make my heart hurt at arm’s length. It’s a bit of a self protective measure.

    Now, that being said, I do think it is important to KNOW that atrocities happen, and do everything we can to stop suffering in the world. As a kid, I had a hard time believing something as horrendous as the holocaust could happen, and I forced myself to read everything I could get my hands on about it, and I’ve seen the documentaries. Scott and I visited the holocaust museum in DC in 2004 and it was amazing. And difficult. As it should be. The museum is set up in a way that allows the visitor to feel how it must have felt – passing through box cars that moved the jews to the camps, and of course the shoes. Such a subtle thing, but so moving – Scott and I cried the whole time. It is a must – everyone should visit the museum. We must remember so we don’t repeat it.

    While at the museum, we also met a man whose parents died in the camps – his availability to us, and his willingness to discuss his family, his pain, and his experiences with total stragers was an amazing gift. Scott and I still talk about what an incredible encounter that was, and it continues to give me hope.

  51. Last winter I went back and re-read Night and The Pianist at the same time. It occurred to me that there should be a book or two that should be required RE-reading. Sometimes — often — the second or even third time around is best.

    Yes, JohnM, HK’s was a keeper quote.

  52. My first roommate in college was the first jewish person I ever met. Her parents were Holocaust survivors. I will never forget the first time I met her father…he came to our Iowa college town and took us to lunch at a fancier place than I was used to. All went well until he reached across to the bread basket to take a piece and I saw the numbers tatooed on his arm. It all became real for me then and I could barely finish the lunch. Years later, at my roommates wedding, I saw pictures on her wall of her family that didn’t make it through the war. Even more years later, when our family settled in to watch Schindler’s List on tape so our daughter would know something of those times, I couldn’t watch it all and just cried through it.
    George…I loved your poem.
    And as to the Nazi’s being gone? Don’t you believe it..they’re still around and recruiting. We must be ever vigilant against evil….
    Haven…you see why we need your seminary training? If I believe in evil, and I do, does that mean I believe in the ultimate good also? Does one follow the other? I don’t think I can believe in one without the other.

  53. We’ve just witnessed something like a miracle with Scott and Steph’s postings!

  54. Scott, I knew you’d tell this story. It was an amazing thing for this stranger to so willingly share his story, his pain, and his experience with us. It was the only time in my life that I questioned butting in, but I simply had to interact with this incredible man. And his words were so true – always live, and never wait. I’ll never forget that moment.

  55. I just got off the phone with Steph, turns out we were posting at exactly the same time!

  56. Wow Scott and Steph, that’s so moving.

    When I was a kid, our neighbors were a couple who were German (the wife) and Jew (the husband.) She had saved his life by helping him escape after they fell in love through the fence surrounding the camp. He used to rub the number tattooed inside his forearm as though trying to remove the memories. At night when the windows were open in the summertime we could hear him screaming at her to just let him die. He was the only surviving member of his family. All of the others perished in the camps.

    Linda, I love your story about the German Jew being given the sandwich. We forget that many of the Nazis were virtually children themselves when it all began, and had been calculatedly trained in indoctrination camps where they were brainwashed that Jews and gays and the mentally disabled were literally not human. It was like being brought up in a family where everyone uses the n word and growing up believing that blacks or others are less than whites. Sometimes it’s hard to discern the line when victim becomes perpetrator when you know someone’s cruelty stems from their own earlier pain, but I always feel pity for the children of KKKers or other hatemongers when I see them on TV. Being taught to hate at such an early age gives them no optional way of thinking. Your story shows how everyone is hurt by such hatred, even the ones who are swept up into believing it without knowing there are alternative ways of living.

  57. Ok, the simultaneous postings by Steph and Scott help me make a point that illustrates Haven’s quote: “Elie Wiesel might very well be remembered for a thousand years, because beauty is a form of immortality. It is deeper than an open grave.”

    This is a thought that has poked around in my mind since I re-read Night…

    Even if Wiesel had not survived, the book, “Night” — or something very much like it — would have arisen because someone else who was there and who witnessed that particular truth would have written it.

    I find comfort in this thought when I try to comprehend something like the Holocaust, genocide of the native Americans, Rwanda, Darfur.

    The comfort is this: the eternal cannot (WILL NOT to return to Haven’s earlier point on Kierkegaard) be destroyed.

  58. Jason and Filbert: Sarah Vowell — I think in Assassination Vacation — wrote about the Trail of Tears and the revulsion she felt every time she looked at a $20 bill. An earlier version of that chapter was broadcast as a This American Life fourth of July episode ( His likeness’s removal from our currency is long overdue.

    George: Eyelets and Heels. Tongues and Soles. There is nothing you can’t write. Just beautiful. Haven: your 4:30am post…a lot like an earthquake.

  59. Filbert and Jason – You both make excellent points about all wars and what terrible things have been done to all sorts of people. I remember a freshman in college and HORRIFIED at my ignorance about the Japanese prisons camps the US had during WW2. A girl in my class was a beutiful 1/2 Japanese girl with blonde hair and green eyes (I had to mention this because it was just striking!) and she wrote a paper that shocked me. I had NO IDEA the US did this, no mention in my history books, my government classes. There are so many things that go undetected by so many people … soldier or citizen.

    I spent a little time in Germany, and loved it, the people were wonderful and friendly, and the entire country was spotless, but that was my experience. I hear other German people who live here know say they didn’t know what was going on in that country at the time, and, I can beleive it. Who knows where beliefs get created and continued and lies become truth. I always say “Perception is reality.”

  60. So many of you wrote such wonderful things, I just wanted to say that.

    Also, I haven’t watched the world news in a few days, and we got rid of all our magazines and newspapers to save money. I haven’t heard this but 2nd hard through a few Ruplican men @ lunch earlier – Can anyone expand this for me -Obama wants the entire US to be required to do community service? I said how wonderful, and got shot 4 dirty looks. Why don’t people want to do volunteer work? I’ve done it since age 12 and I LOVE it. My last jobs were @ the DIA and with a Domestic Violence Shelter called- are you ready – HAVEN!

  61. Isn’t that a Community Service for College Tax Credit thing?

    I read something before I’ll look it up.

  62. The Holocaust. The Crusades. Genocide. Pograms. Persecution. The words inherently involve groups – large groups – of people. Without the cooperation and agreement of an ever-increasing number of participants, none of these atrocities can take place.

    The Bible is laden with horrific tales of the obliteration of tribes and individuals based on their failure to concede to a very particular belief system. Who among us feels righteous indignation about that? Who among us holds up those examples and says, “Never again”? The writings in the Bible and the Torah have become mythic, the horror has become ingrained and accepted, part of our birthright, told to us since our birth by the latest of generations of believers.

    Why do we rail against the Holocaust? I believe it is because it happened in our lifetime. We know names and faces and relatives and we can say, “I know someone who …” and it takes on the sixth degree of separation.

    No single person is responsible for atrocities of these proportions. To use the Second World War as example, the term “eugenics” was coined in 1883 by Galton, who advocated “racial hygiene.” Binding & Hoche, in 1920, cited Germany as weighed down with “living burdens.” The Nazi party was one of many splinter political groups until 1928. Germany’s “new” government of 1918 retained judges, lawyers, and bureaucrats who had served the Kaiser and felt democracy to be a weak form of government. The genesis of the war was systematic, bureaucratic, and did not begin or end with an individual named Hitler.

    In targeting WWII as a recent horror of mythic proportion, our aim may be to stun listeners with the horror of a given group’s attitudes. In doing so, we fail to realize how much of our daily lives would be a horror to other people of the world.

    Humans are unique in their need to place blame. We design punishments we think suitable for such traitors as Hitler. As Haven points out so eloquently, our role is not to judge, but only to bear witness. Leave them to heaven. When asked how many times we are to forgive, Christ’s answer was seventy times seven. Remove the board in one’s own eye first. It was Jean-Paul Sartre who said, “Hell is a self-serve cafeteria.”

    There are no simple answers to complex history. Judas did not act alone.

  63. HERE IT IS:

    Barack Obama will enable all Americans to serve:
    Obama and Biden will expand AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps, engage retiring Americans, and set up an America’s Voice Initiative to send Americans who are fluent speakers of local languages to expand our public diplomacy.

    Integrate service into learning:
    Obama and Biden will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year, and will establish a new tax credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.

    Invest in the nonprofit sector:
    Obama and Biden will create a Social Investment Fund Network to use federal seed money to leverage private sector funding. They will create an agency dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector.

    My Daughter high school already requires Community service. I forgot how many hours though.

  64. National Honor Society requires community service too. My daughter is the president of her school’s chapter. Also, it is basically a given that college admission offices look for community service on applications now. And not just a long list of I did this for 8 hours, this for 4, etc. They want to see commitment to a cause and a progression of resposibility. My daughter’s love is Latin and classics and the environment… So, she has served as an officer in the Junior Classical League at school for 3 years, 2 as VP, now as president; she trained as a docent at the Parthenon here in Nashville and volunteers her time there giving tours; he has served as co-president of the environment club at school for 3 years, etc. Community service, giving back, is very much a mindset of our youth these days which I think is great.

  65. Jodi: last month I was doing our church’s Bible reading and the text dealt with the golden calf that the Hebrews constructed in Moses’ absence. The story ended with God acceding to Moses’ argument to spare the people. That was well and good…then, the narrative got even more interesting when a few verses later, Moses takes it upon himself to form a vigilante posse that killed 3,000 of the Hebrews.

    I know, I know…the O.T. is not supposed to be taken literally, but I do think this kinda gets to your point a little.

    I do believe proximity and what is recent goes a long way in informing our abhorrence of genocide and war.

    I also believe that in the case of Germany, there were none — maybe just a few — innocents. Genocide on the scale required wholesale participation and acquiescence.

    I happen to think that American society veered dangerously in a similar direction post-911. My greatest hope — above all others when it comes to the Obama presidency — is he moves us away from this brink. It CAN happen here, I don’t care what anyone says.

  66. I’m in tears over some of the posts on this thread. Jodi, you so beautifully stated the problem of mankind since creation. It just seems that we operate at our core from one of two places; fear or love. Anything I’ve done from that was attended by greed, unkindness, pride or hurt feelings had its roots in fear. And the worst part of fear is how wildly contagious it is. Judas didn’t act alone, it took a mad crowd to complete the job.

  67. Possibly none of us on this blog voted for McCain/Palin but in the spirit of what Jodi said about Judas not acting alone, take a read from this:

    Instead of celebrating Obama, we could be mourning the results of this election had the economy not tanked in September or if Bin Laden had been captured or killed, or if a huge scientific breakthrough regarding energy had been achieved…this is how fragile these things are. Once again, it CAN happen here.

  68. That was a great read George. One of my very real fears leading up to the election was that there was suddenly going to be a Bin Laden tape just in time to try and scare voters. I was reasonably sure it wouldn’t work this time, but I was still nervous.

  69. POS – thanks for the scoop. I can only be on the internet 45 @ lunch and have to squeeze my blog reading in then!!!

  70. Where is everyone tonight?

    Ok, guess I will go home and walk the dogs, visit later.

    Sock: I got your article, will email from home. I also have a copy of the article I wrote back during the opening of the Holocaust Museum. I might post it on Yahoo if I think it has stood the test of time. (I do believe my poem did.) I can’t open private mail here at work.

    blah…blah…blah…blather…blather…blather…gad, I have a motor mouth!

  71. In the Sondheim musical “Into the Woods,” Red Riding Hood and The Witch are embroiled in a discussion about the deaths of several villagers. Red has recently killed the wolf, thereby saving her granny, and still wields the knife she used.

    Red Riding Hood: “Well, this is terrible. We just watched three people die.”
    Witch: “Since when are you so squeamish? How many wolves have you carved up?”
    RRH: “A wolf is not the same.”
    Witch: “Ask a wolf’s mother.”

    What may appear to us as “other” is, in fact, the cared-for offspring of a parent. It’s no coincidence that world mythos is based on principles of Father God and Mother Goddess.

    If we could look on all life on earth as a mother sees her child, we could see more clearly what is required of us.

  72. Jodi, what you are saying here strikes at the question of God’s helplessness that Haven describes so beautifully in Solace. Compassion is often defined as deep awareness of suffering combined with a wish to relieve it.

    Compassion is complicated on a macro basis. A springbok dies to feed a lion. Sad for the springbok, but should the lion go hungry?

    A fire razes a forest, which is devastating, except to the seeds that can only be released after exposure to extreme heat.

    “Ask a wolf’s mother” holds up a mirror to our vision of “other.” It is brilliant, but begs the question: “How does one apply compassion when survival is at stake?” What’s the trump card?

    I have no answers but find a lot of comfort in the idea (totally new to me) that God’s only real power is in the lure toward truth and beauty. Here we are, all beings on this planet. And we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Every day some live; some die; God is not pulling bingo balls out of the hopper to decide which is which.

    Scarier than believing you can get what you need through fervent prayer and good works, for sure. But reality is often quite scary.

  73. I am so far behind! I missed a day and had five things to add to yesterday’s blog and now a new topic!

    Girl from the Ghetto –
    I also went to Anne Frank’s annex in Amsterdam and was moved to immobility. I had read that diary so many times and still, in the context of all the novels I also read at that age, it didn’t strike me this was an actual girl until I saw the actual door to the annex and the corners where she must have sat talking to Peter.

    On the Holocaust topic, in the lead-up to the election, I was trying very hard to at least sound neutral when teaching my 12th graders. I cover their Participation in Government curriculum and we did a project where they chose a partner, picked an issue and chose to present one of the two candidates’ proposals.

    It was all I could do not to grab my DVD of “1984” and stick it in the VCR and scream “Don’t you realize this is what we’re moving toward? Don’t you see Sarah Palin whipping that crowd into a frenzy of hate? Is that what we want?”

    When I used to teach 10th-grade English this was my assigned line-up: Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, 1984, Night, Julius Caesar, Ellen Foster, and I ADDED A Midsummer Night’s Dream just for some relief. I thought of it as the doom-and-gloom curriculum. But I actually liked teaching these books, because we got into discussions about the nature of hate and “evil” and also how people rise above it and retain humanity and fight fascism – Go, Ralph and Piggy and Simon!

    Steph from Indiana – I agree about not clogging the brain with gratuitous imagery of violence because you can’t get rid of it, but I think it is only heart-enlarging to be faced with the TRUTH that people can do horrific things to each other – but also that others fight back, despite the risk. My son was glued to “Hotel Rwanda” when he was 12, and I can totally see him going into peace negotiating or something related. And I see him acting as an agent of acceptance in his middle school.

    Just wanted to mention in relation to yesterday’s topic, that in April we figured out that my husband has Asperger Syndrome, which I had barely heard of until Andrea Seabrook interviewed Bram Cohen on NPR, and also my eldest and youngest sons most likely have traits also. My father-in-law is TEXTBOOK. It has certainly complicated the child-rearing rules. I have spent months just trying to understand it and rethink both my marriage and children in this context (Look Me in the Eye was really helpful and funny – both my husband and son have read it). I am now moving toward what to do about it – homeschool? weighted blankets? end the World of Warcraft account?

    Thank God for our handsome, young, basketball-playing, e-mail-sending president elect who will promote neurodiversity and ethnic diversity and racial diversity and consensus-building.

    I just procured a copy of Iodine so I am off to read. Did I miss the Iodine blog?

  74. Jerri,

    “How does one apply compassion when survival is at stake?”

    Compassion is a human quality. It’s not one that encumbers other beings. Humans tend to embody everything with humanity: weather, animals, plants, bodies of water, and disease, for example, when in fact these things exist outside our spheres of understanding. Compassion has nothing to do with survival. The act of life, as Joseph Campbell points out, is killing and eating another living thing. We do it together, and this is the way life is. Heraclitus (Haven’s buddy) said that for God all things are good and right and just, but for man some things are right and others are not. When you are a man, you are in the field of time and decisions. One of the problems of life is to live with the realization of both terms, to say, “I know the center, and I know that good and evil are simply temporal aberrations and that, in God’s view, there is no difference. You can’t say there shouldn’t be poisonous serpents – that’s the way life is. But in the field of action, if you see a poisonous serpent about to bite somebody, you kill it. That’s not saying no to the serpent, that’s saying no to the situation.”

    Campbell also says, “‘All life is sorrowful’ is the first Buddhist saying, and so it is. It wouldn’t be life if there were not temporality involved, which is sorrow – loss, loss, loss. You’ve got to say yes to life and see it as magnificent this way.”

    James Joyce said, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” The way to awake from it is not to be afraid, and to recognize that all of this, as it is, is a manifestation of the horrendous power that is all of creation. The ends of things are always painful. But pain is part of there being a world at all.

    I don’t see God as “helpless.” Again, we endow God with our humanity. We put “Him” in power, we see ourselves as at “His” mercy. My vision is more in line with a father or mother figure. Every morning a mother sends her children out to play. The children create games in which they are good guys one time, bad guys the next. When it’s time to come in, the mother doesn’t ask what role her children played. She loves them and welcomes them back to her regardless of who they were in their games.

    I don’t believe we can be separated from Love. I don’t believe we are punished, except as our own conscience punishes us. I don’t think God, like Santa Claus, hears the murmurs of every person and records who’s naughty and who’s nice. God Loves Us as our father loves us. And if our earthly father does good things for his children, how much more will your heavenly father do? For me, as a child of God, I am born to the kingdom, I am entitled to all things. As are you. As are all of us. We can only be denied by seeing ourselves as such.

  75. I’m awed by your response, Jodi. Thank you. Most of it’s going to take a lot more thought, but one early observation: I agree that we cannot be separated from Love, but we can (and do) imagine ourselves to be. The inability to recognize and respond to the immutability of our connection to Love causes so much pain in this world.

  76. Jerri,

    It’s really nice to have you on the blog. Your humor as well as your profound observations are delightful.

    It’s taken me forty-nine years to live my way into these answers, spurred on by the fears I grew up with, which I sensed had no foundation. My greatest help came from Joseph Campbell. I was first introduced to his work in 1986 along with the rest of the world, when Bill Moyers interviewed Campbell for the PBS series “The Power of Myth.”

    The book by Richard Bach called “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” is a guiding light as well.

  77. Living our way into answers is one of my favorite concepts. Love Rilke. Work every day at loving the questions, but it’s easier some days than others.

    And I’ve been kicking around this earth 54 years but have only been listening in the big sense for a few years. Lots of catching up to do.

    Thanks for the suggestion about Illusions. It’s on the top of my list.

    BTW–did you figure out the name of that rock-and-roller last night? Fast Fate, was it?

  78. Yeah, and I also heard the name Lemon Fos-Fate being kicked around by some people here. =0)

  79. Filbert Hockey (was that your name? wow, you people and all of your responses!)

    You may be interested in the work of Tony Oberschall over at UNC

  80. Filbert Hockey, you may be interested in Tony Oberschall’s work over at UNC:

  81. You guys are all so smart…I love just reading this blog!
    I am thankful just knowing it is here.
    Goodnight sweet princes and princesses, and sweet dreams all.

  82. Jerri and Jodi by your exchange…you guys are so smart and insightful. How I look forward to your postings.

  83. Jerri and Jodi,

    Have you read The Shack? I finished it last summer and found it to be really intriguing. It explores some of the spiritual things you two were just discussing.

  84. I read it after you mentioned it a couple weeks ago, George. Intriguing is the right word for it, especially since I’d just read Solace a few days before.

    Jodi’s comment that for God, all things are good and right reminded me of it, too. It’s hard to step out of my human experience, but I’m beginning to understand the concept. Or, at least I think so.

    Tell me what you thought of The Shack, what parts intrigued you.

  85. George–thank you for posting that story on the yahoo group. It is marvelous.

    The description of Gisela as a young girl learning new dance steps to the radio is haunting. What must it have been like to go from that to being marched off to a work camp, to seeing someone shot beside her.

    The Holocaust Museum does indeed bring stories to life. Every place you turn, you ask yourself the same question Zoltan mentions: How could human beings do this.

    Again, thanks for posting the story.

  86. Just Home, but wanted to post a lovely Obama reference.

    Claire and I walked through the den (where Lauren was watching THE NEWS and on her laptop) and all the sudden she (claire) screams and points and jumps up and down “There he is, there is President Obama!!!” I just started crying because this tiny being, just 6 years old, feels the same rush of love and excitement everytime I see his face or hear his new title/name. I am just so proud that at least my baby knows who is our new president.

  87. I interviewed them for several days, taped the conversations, checked their dates againt historical records. There’s was essentially a love story, but I only had space — 50 inches (1,500 words) I could have easily written a book. After the research and hours spent with them at the museum, I left myself only about an hour to construct the narrative. This is the first time I sam the piece in the 15 years since I wrote it. Surprised (not really) that it stood up to time. I had hoped that it could somehow bear witness and add in some small, but deadly accurate and truth-telling way, way to the story of What happened. I often would cover an event and then in my own privacy reinterpret it as a poem. Thank you for reading.I did win an award for it in feature writing.

  88. Oh, how great that you won an award. It is a beautiful piece.

    Do you still have the tapes? Maybe it could still be a book?

  89. Blog Babies – Announcements:

    Both Wally Lamb & Stephen King have new books out – – hello, not to mention the new Maguire &&&&&& Toni Morrison . . . my nightstand is going to crash under the weight of all this brilliance – what a great next week I am going to have!!!


  90. Suzanne –

    for some reason I can’t pull up your blog, but I wanted to let you know I am working on a prayer flag for you – but I want to know a little bit more specific. You are hoping for new beginnings and relocation? Anything else (because the specific beads and words I will use are part of the “prayer/meditation”) – also any specific colors or motifs? And were you serious about the cat being your totem?

    All: Also working on Obama’s flag, mainly for wisdom or safety. If anybody else has any words they would like me to add, let me know.

  91. The link to Suzanne’s blog is

  92. Sher – I am so excited about the new Lamb and King. I’ve already reserved them at the library (b/c I am so so poor), where they are on order, and I should be the first to get them.

    I feel a bit overwhelmed with my already very tall stack of books that I must read as soon as possible. Of course, these will go right to the top 🙂

  93. The link below takes you to an open letter from Alice Walker to Barack Obama. It is brilliance in black-and-white.

  94. Jerri,

    Thank you for posting Alice Walker’s brilliant letter to Obama. It’s lovely, it’s wise, it’s compassionate and joyous. Brilliant, brilliant heartfelt writing.

  95. I liked that letter so much I used it a paper that I wrote for one of my classes yesterday. 🙂

    On a totally different note, a woman of color, in my class last night related a few different racial incidents she’s experienced lately, along with the fact the people she works with at a local factory (mostly white) kept saying the acronym for CHANGE was “Come Help A Nigger Get Elected”! I’ve been blogging and surfing the blogging world since August and reading everything election related well before then and I never came across that one. That beats all the nasty comments left on my blog.

  96. Good morning, Jodi. Your post from last night has been with me nearly every moment since.

    Still working on “for God all things are good and right and just” part. I come from the Anne Lamott school of “It’s easy to think God hates the people you hate.”

    Not really, but it always makes me laugh. And then cry, because that thinking is the heart of so many problems.

  97. Particles–that acronym beats all I have heard, too. Horrible.

  98. Particles, unfortunately, I have heard that ancronym, too. Ugh. It makes me sick. It’s always shocking to me to encounter people who are not happy and excited about Obama’s victory.

  99. George. Brilliant article, that one posted on Yahoo. Made me cry.

  100. Thanks, POS, you are a kind soul. It was a complex story.

    …and oh, how I love Anne Lamott…

    About The Shack…what I liked most about it was the portrayal of the trinity. I thought it offered a real explanation about how that all worked. I thought the imagery in the story was brilliant. In the end, I came out with the understanding that God was/is unknowable, but loveable and within that dynamic, people can change and grow.

  101. I know this is entirely different topic and a little long, but…..

  102. Jerri et al.:

    Here’s how I know that all the stuff I wrote last night is working. I’m happy and at peace, and life make me joyous. These are some things that make me laugh. Maybe you’ve done a few of them.

    – Tell your children over dinner, “Due to the economy, we’re going to have to let one of you go.”
    – When the money comes out of the ATM, yell “I won! I won!”
    – Have your friends address you by your wrestling name: Rock Hard Kim.
    – Page yourself over the intercom. Don’t disguise your voice.
    – Ask people what sex they are. Laugh hysterically after they answer.

  103. A thought.

    The word “sacrifice” comes from Latin. Its root is “sacer,” SACRED + “facerem,” TO MAKE. To make sacred.

    So I looked up “sacred,” which means “consecrated to a deity; holy; regarded with reverence; venerated; hallowed.” And I wondered, how did we get so far from the original meaning of “sacrifice,” if its original meaning is “to make sacred”?

    The definition for “sacrifice” is “the act of giving up, destroying, permitting injury to.” Then I wondered, what’s the opposite of sacrifice? So I looked it up in the thesaurus, and it said “giving.”

    That’s not a clear opposite to me.

    In a conversation with my husband, he said that he equates “sacrifice” with giving something up to draw closer to God, like at Lent. So I said, “Okay, then why don’t we also do the opposite? Let’s say that you love chocolate. And for forty days, every day, you eat some chocolate and delight in the fact that God created chocolate, and your world is bountiful, and you are healthy and can enjoy chocolate.” Jody (my husband) said he didn’t think our society functions like that.

    I think it’s a sad commentary on our society and Christianity in general that we’ve lost the original meaning of “sacrifice.” What kind of deity would want us to “destroy or injure” in order to sanctify ourselves? The Christianity “business” has certainly become fear-based since Jesus dropped by. Poor Jesus. It just shows that, if you’re going to put your name on something, you’d better stick around and run it yourself.

  104. Along these same lines, we need a holiday that is the very opposite of Lent, when we don’t do something we dislike doing for forty days. For example, dusting. Or flossing. Or calling your grouchy relatives. We could even appoint someone to do it FOR us. Since it’s the inverse of Lent, let’s call it NETNEL.

    “I’d love to help you out, but we’re in the midst of Netnel, and I’ve vowed not to do that until next month.”

  105. I did Lent for the first time last year. I gave up chocolate. And let me tell you, it was a very good time for me. I actually can’t wait for Lent again. I thank God for chocolate 325 days a year. That time of sacrifice was not negative in any way. When I think of the lives of brokeness that so many others live, giving up a luxury is peanuts.

  106. I don’t know Jodi, I think Christianity got fear-based when Paul came knocking on the door.

    More food for thought:

    The original definition of multitasking can be traced to the the Medival Latin word, factotum, deriving from facere, “to do” + totus, “all.”


    Netnel is a good idea, somebody write Obama with the suggestion, please.


  107. Kate, Lent has meaning for many people, and in no way am I saying it should not exist, although among my friends I hear only complaining when they’re observing it. My suggestion is that we might have a celebration that is Lent’s antithesis.

    Lenten comes from Middle & Old English, meaning “the spring,” and has to do with the lengthening (ME “lenten,” which must have evolved into “lengthen”) of days. Lenten’s second meaning in the dictionary is “spare; meager.” So by spelling Lenten backwards, we have Netnel, which could be the name of a holiday which is the antithesis of Lent, but it’s not very catchy. I was thinking we could also go with Cupcake Days, but I feel this is a bit too lighthearted. In the Middle Ages, Lent was the period from Martinmas (November 11) to Christmas, and was called St. Martin’s Lent.

  108. My problem is EVERY day is cupcake day for me!!!

  109. Kate, I really don’t see that as a problem …

  110. It is when you have to sell your entire vintage clothing collection to help fund a new collection of elastic waist pants!

    I absolutely see what you are saying. I don’t think Lent should be celebrated if it’s done out of obligation and with a negative heart. I did my fair amount of “This is HARD” but it was more of a reflection on me than the season.

    Anyway…isn’t Thanksgiving and Christmas the opposite of Lent?

    Forget it…lets just have a Festivus for the Rest of us!

  111. Vent. This has nothing to do with lent.

    The young that stands 10 feet from me all day just made a huge mistake. He asked, “Would Obama still have won if he wasn’t black.” I’ve been arguing with him for an hour. He’s an one issue voter. Grrrrrr

  112. Kate,

    According to Wikipedia: Lent is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. NNNT! No points awarded.

    Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Advent is the period including the four Sundays prior to Christmas, but Christians are not encouraged by the church to do much more than light candles and be contemplative. NNNT! No points.

    Nope, there’s no equivalent I’ve found in the church calendar. You and I will have to have that Festivus on our own!

    I believe you MEANT to say that your figure is becomingly Rubenesque. =0)

  113. POS,

    Isn’t “Would Obama still have won if he wasn’t black?” an obvious question to a young person? The world is simpler to them, who haven’t had all that much experience. What if you tossed the question back at him in a friendly way and asked what he thought? I do this every day with the middle-school kids in my classes, and you might be surprised. He knows more than you think.

  114. Kate,

    You’re in Evansville? I spent three years (1983-86) in Owensboro, Kentucky. Civilization sure sloooooows dooooooown when you cross the river south, doesn’t it? I used to drive to Evansville and have lunch at Bennigans to hear a Northern accent and get timely restaurant service!

  115. Maureen – I read your post about your sons, husband & father-in-law all having, or possibly having Aspburgers & thought “Wow!” All I can say is, I know how you feel, and I have no advise. I have a hard time with it, get frustrated as hell @ my husband (Its much easier with my stepson) and I get misunderstood constantly just about every day. Its like I have to train my brain to think three steps ahead. Between them and my bipolar mom I’m going off the dead end!

    Sorry for the rambling, I guess I needed to vent before I go home for the night.

  116. Kate and Steph: go over to If You Weren’t Mine…I wrote a little more about Couch.

  117. Jodi, actually that’s kind of how it started before the argument. Well, it wan;t really an argument, more like a heated discussion. I asked him why he would even say something like that.

    And he said, “Because I don’t like him?”

    So I asked, “Do you even know why you do not like him?”

    That’s when my ears started burning, because it was all about abortion.

    I have a hard time understanding why “pro-life” people spend so much time thinking about abortion, when there are so many other things to think about when your choosing a presidential candidate, or anything else in life.

    My neighbor, who is somewhere around my age, actually has this painted on the back window of her mini-van,
    “We were all embryos once – that’s life!”, right next the war magnet.

  118. Jodi…my point was that they are a period of INDULGENCE. Slice me some more punkin pie!!!

    The whole war/abortion thing is one of the main reasons my husband and I voted for Obama. Just because I believe life begins at conception doesn’t mean I think it ends just because you are outside the US border, or because you “signed up for this.”

  119. Girl from the Ghetto –

    Hey, so we’re sisters on the Asperger husband challenge! It’s hard to explain the strange situations and feelings to others. I know for years that my parents and sisters would see the behaviors and just cringe. Now that I know what it IS (after looking at ADHD and OCD and just he’s a jerk and finally reading the Tony Attwood book and being stunned) life is at least more comprehensible. Have you read Maxine Astons’ The Other Side of Asperger Syndrome? I recommend it.

    A note of encouragement to everyone from here on the Catholic front, our diocese and extremely cool pastor (he adopted two Chinese boys – no rules against it) made a HUGE point of saying that Catholics are not required to be single-issue voters (i.e. abortion) and that we as Catholics needed to look at ALL that the candidates supported and vote our conscience. They all but came out and said Vote Obama. Not that I feel compelled to toe the Catholic line in any way, but I was just so encouraged that even the Catholics were supporting Obama.

    Hey, I’m two chapters into Iodine and can’t wait to get back to reading. Did I miss the Iodine post?

    G from G, any time you want to talk Asperger’s, I’m there.

  120. A note on the Lent concept (from a cradle Catholic), I heard Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God, speak at the 2006 Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, where I saw Haven speak about Quakerism in 2008

    and she said she once gave up READING for Lent. You could hear the gasps of pain in the audience. She said, “If you can’t imagine doing that, then maybe you need to.”

    I don’t know. I know how often I crawl into a novel as escape from the quotidian and sometimes from my kids and husband and job, but reading is like oxygen to me. I can’t imagine 40 days without it.

    And a note on the Holocaust Museum. I have not been, but I heard a story from someone who had been about a film she had seen there of interviews of survivors. One recollected a day when they had all been forced to watch executions, and one man ran back to his barracks afterward and recited the Jewish prayer of thanksgiving. When someone asked why he would pray such a prayer after seeing such horrific things, he replied “Because I am so GRATEFUL that I am not capable of that.”

  121. Thanks Maureen, I haven’t read those books, but I will look for them tomorrow @ the library. It’s hard to explain why my hubby doesn’t come w/me to a lot of events, but I think most of my friends understand it. I laugh that this “loner” guy was attracted to one of the most outgoing people on the planet. I do however, get him to go on adventures and he loves me for it, so we work. But its still a friggin’ challenge, and when I’m so tired as I’ve been lately, its hard, hard, hard!!!

    And, your pastor sounds so cool! Wow, I am impressed, esp. with the voting thing.

    Hey, I heard Obama collects Spider Man comics, how cool!

  122. Good evening blog babies….
    My Dana is home so I have changed my avatar to my pixie child (no longer a chile) about whom I want to ask you all’s advice since you are talking about Asperger’s and ADHD and OCD and such….she has never been diagnosed but we all think she has ADD because it is almost impossible for her to read a book…by which I mean she reads and comprehends words and sentences just fine, but can’t stay focused and on task long enough to finish a textbook assignment, which as you can imagine is putting a big crimp in nursing school. She has to work 3 times as hard as anyone else to learn something from a book…anything practical she picks up super fast and her vocabulary is great…Is there anything out there that would help with the reading? I am urging her to get help at the college and to get a professional diagnosis but she doesn’t want to be categorized and I don’t blame her. It’s hard to watch her sign up for classes and drop them one by one when she falls behind. Any websites you recommend?
    Sher: you mentioned you had a see thru ruler with a line on it once and that worked for you. I gave Alexa a copy of Something Rising (she loves pool/billiards) and am going to make her a cardboard template to fit that would allow her to see one line at a time and see if she can actually read the whole book.

  123. Brenda – so glad Dana is home and on the mend!

    the ruler was from the special ed dept from a 1970’s school, I have also used just a regular ruler or a black index card . . . the one I had had a slit so you only saw the one line, but it was translucent enough to keep an eye on your next spot to line it up . . . not sure where or if they still use them, I just know that it helped train my eye and brain that after 2 weeks I didn’t really need it . . . but I have dyslexia and that is more of a visual motor problem than attention . . .it sounds good to check it out . . .lots of universities have testing in their counseling dept to check for dyxlexia and ADD . . . my husband also recommends Dr. Lawless’s book for diet and coping with ADD . . .

  124. Thanks, Sher, I will look up Dr. Lawless’s book, and keep reminding her of the help at school, too.
    The template is worth a try, too.

  125. Hey, Blog Babies — was out of town, am back. You all are so brilliant.

  126. Where is my avatar? This is crap.

  127. Hey y’all. My son and I went to a nice reception tonight for an organization I support – TCASK. The Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing. Good people. Good music. Heard from the director of New Jersey’s group. New Jersey is an abolitionist hero. Apparently Maryland may be next so if you live in Maryland speak up against the death penalty. Please. The death penalty in this country is a very broken and unjust system. I am pretty wiped out so I will have to wait until tomorrow to give you all links to read more about it.

  128. my friend who had a hart transplant came over tonight. he is seriously inspirational. 31 yrs old, 2 and a half weeks out, walking 3 miles a day..

  129. Re: the impact on ADD and college, etc… I can totally understand not wanting to be categorized (although there are privacy laws to protect such information), but I work at a community college…there are SO many resources/accommodations available to students with any kind of disability, but it does have to be documented or “proven,” if you will. At our school the department is “Access Services” and is part of Student Services/Counseling…it wouldn’t hurt to inquire, especially if her school has a thorough website to explore…she can get an idea of who to talk to and where before she attempts a personal visit. Good luck…I have a feeling there is help there for her!

  130. SHER

    i love you for the prayer flag

    my wishes are for selling my house in CA and relocation to NC for increased peace and happiness and also for some of that authentic southern romance. my favorite color is red. red should cover Prosperity as well, as the Chinese understand it.

    symbol? you choose. you have carte blanche.


  131. oh and earlier someone said that they didnt unmderstand about blind dates. go to my blog, i JUST NOW posted the answer to all a woman’s dating needs and some unnecessary blathering besides., hit the red FINNABLOG bar.

    now that i’ve cancelled my subscription (again) I figured i may as well let it fly. plus it’s going into More magazine, this little article, but on the finnablog is the unedited, unadulterated version.


    ps i havent finished USED WORLD yet. i had been hoarding it for yearas, and now i’m listening to it in my car on CD. LOVE.IT. often go back to a track to hear it 3, 4 times. i cant tell you how how hard it’s been to stay away from yall, due to not having finished TUW on time. i felt ASHAMED AND LAZY AND OUTCAST. but i am loving the Used World, one cd at a time, as i drive around the world.

  132. Suzanne – it is in the works and I am so glad you gave me some more information to go on – intuition is good, but paired with knowledge, it is even better!

    Red is SO powerful . . . I have a show thingy this weekend so it might be next week before I get them finished . . . will let you know . . .

  133. Dear Blogbabies – Oprah is doing a special on Prop 8 in California tomorrow – it will have Melissa Etheridge and other advocates of equal marriage rights on – just thought you might want to turn the evil tube for something like that . . .

  134. Suzanne – I’ve read it thrice and listed the audio a lot myself – – – it is beyond description.

  135. Maureen, the Iodine thread was a month or so ago. I’m just now reading it as well. I’m on chapter four, or is it five?. I’ll meet you at the Iodine thread in a couple, few days. 🙂

  136. Particles –
    Awesome! I’ll see you there. I finished chapter three last night – reading in stolen moments.

    Brenda –
    I have had many students with the same frustration with reading. I have discovered where you can download books read aloud. I just checked on Haven’s and they have Zippy, Something Rising, Iodine, and Used World. The membership is pretty cheap and you can download books right onto an IPod or computer or CDs. I do that if I assign a book and have students that have a hard time reading – usually they are extremely good oral learners. I also do it for myself for car rides. For textbooks, I don’t know. I agree with others’ advice to have Dana check with the academic support office.

    Just wanted to clarify that I adore my Aspie husband. I’ve been thinking of launching a line of T-shirts “I Love My Aspie” – but he shut me down on that :). The Asperger’s gives him these really unique and wonderful traits along with the challenging ones. And now that I understand where THOSE come from, I can much more often respond with compassion and help rather than annoyance.

  137. Oops – did I write oral? I think I meant aural. You know, hearing! Whatever that word is. Not thoroughly caffeinated yet.
    Off to feed calves. Speaking of which, when I read that part in Zippy about Julie’s mom trying to catch that pig I had to put down my book and cry I was laughing so hard.

  138. Good morning. For those who are interested, here is the link to TCASK’s blog:
    There is a “Facts” section which has some really good info that people don’t usually think about.

    Here are a few other good sites too:

    I think education and information is the key because so many people have misconceptions about the death penalty. People think it costs more to keep a person in prison for life than to kill them. Not true. People think that family members of murder victims want those guilty to be killed. You would be surprised how often this is not the case.

    I had the honor of meeting Bud Welch, whose daughter was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. You can read about his story here:
    He was for the death penalty until he met Tim McVeigh’s father. He said that the pain that Mr. McVeigh had was the same pain he had because he was losing his child. The only difference is that he could not talk about the good memories he had with his son. No one cared or would want to know. Bud spends his days sharing memories of his daughter’s life. Also, his daughter was opposed to the death penalty. He asked how could he really honor her life it he supported killing others in her name? Forgiveness is a powerful thing. He is not saying forget the crime, but forgive for yourself, for your loved ones. Hatred and revenge will eat you alive.

    Anyway, I gotta run. Love ya all!

  139. Where is everyone? I need to be entertained. 🙂

  140. Don’t feel bad Suzanne, whatever your produce will be great when you’re done with it, just like your other works. Sometimes we can only do what we can do. I can’t wait to read your new blog entry. I owned a speed dating and singles party business for a while and some of the trials and tribulations I witnessed were funny, sad and amazing.

    Thanks for the reminder, I HAVE to get tUW on tape. I hope Haven is narrating.

  141. Everyone, my Internet connection last night was intermittent, so I am just catching up. General observations:

    Maureen: oral/aural…a slip of the tongue! An ear burp!


    Suzanne: I am about to cruise over to your site and read about dating.

    Brenda: So glad about Dana.

    Jerri: Went to your blog site and started reading before my Internet became bipolar. You have a quiet and lovely style. Very calming. Is that your personality? It is surely reflected in your pictures.

    Linda: It takes a lot of courage to get active against capital punishment. I am so double-minded on the subject, having seen the victim so often first-hand. Maybe a society needs or requires retributive justice. I know, however, that it is not a deterrence. Very few murders are actually carried out in cold blood, but are the products of our own dark side, augmented with booze and/or drugs. I do think it instructive that God opted not to vaporize Cain, but removed him from the society that was Eden.

    Sher: How about a prayer flag for the blog? One that celebrates the creativity of our members; one that dedicates us to a concept Haven mentioned to me about the importance of empathy and how it is indeed an act of bestowing daily mercies. This is an embryonic thought…

    Jodi: How cool it is that you are married to a Jody. Did you seek that out? I have re-read your post of yesterday over and over. How many times has someone told you how brilliant you are? Here’s one more: You’re brilliant!

    Kate: How much did I appreciate what you said about the article I posted in Yahoo. That means a lot coming from a working journalist like you. I don’t know about you, but after writing, I was done with the article. I often never bother to read them in the paper. I was nervous about putting this story up.

    Carrie and JohnS: You rode into work with me this morning. Your songs, lovely and strong.


    JimShue: I emailed you a while ago.


    Haven: !

  142. Linda:

    I once covered a capital murder trial in Lebanon, Ind. The jury found the guy guilty — he had killed an robbed an elderly, infirmed neighbor. The jury then recommended the death penalty. This was the first criminal case the judge had ever presided over and when he accepted the jury’s recommendation and pronounced the sentence, he was crying like a baby. It was one of the more heart-rendering scenes I had ever witnessed.

    One the other hand, I covered another murder trial down in Martinsville, Ind. Basically, it was a robbery, rape and murder of a woman. The woman was only connected to her killer by being the ex-lover the killer’s co-worker. It was the killer and co-worker who hatched the plan to get back at the woman. In their testimony, they said they just wanted to scare and rob her. The murderer though had previous convictions for sexual attacks on women and a history of violence. It was clear from his testimony that he used the opportunity to commit a crime he had always “wanted” to perform. He brought a hunting knife to do the job. As a witness, however, the murderer did a great job of describing his own brutal childhood and, I think, successfully wooed the jury. The jury convicted easily, but recommended life. In Indiana, a judge doesn’t have to accept the recommendation and this one didn’t — especially after learning that during the period of time between the conviction and the sentencing, the murderer had crudely tattooed a bloody knife on his forearm. The judge basically said he was glad to send the guy to death row.

    The irony is that the judge who was so emotional eventually saw his sentence had been carried out; the other judge saw his sentence overturned as a result of technical issues.

    Ultimately, I came to believe that the death penalty really doesn’t serve justice. It serves retribution.

  143. …it also serves racism, economic classism, a whole bunch of dark strands in a society.

    overall, I think we’d be better off without.

  144. George: Got the email. Many thanks and glad to know that my memory isn’t as bad as I thought. Sent a reply back to that email… check your spam box.

    Lebanon, IN is my old stomping grounds as they say (whoever they are) and both brothers live there now.

    (must get motivated to go to work now)

  145. unfinished “sentence.” I meant to say:

    Overall, I think we’d be better off without capital punishment.


    Having said that, I don’t know level of punishment should be applied. Criminals really don’t have a lot to contribute other than labor…and when you balance the economic value of their labor over the cost to harbor or kill them, there isn’t a significant cost-benefit ratio.


    I do know this, I spent many years thinking about, reporting on, and considering the impact of crimes. I have had so many heart-to-heart talks with homicide detectives and cops, victims, even murderers.


    What it left me with is a dark suspicion that most of us — and perhaps ALL of us — are quite capable of a felony or an assault. What holds us in check, we may attribute to morals or ethics or higher-mindedness. To me, however, I would have to argue that circumstance is what stays the hand.

    Then again, my experience on police beat turned me into a total fatalist.

    But I am an optimistic fatalist, believe that the worst is yet to happen.

  146. JimShue: Sorry about that spam filter thing. For evermore any email you write me goes straight to the inbox, old buddy. Back to work now for both of us.

  147. In the days I was gone the subject became capital punishment, a very interesting subject. As a Quaker I have to argue that the judicial branch of the government can’t kill a citizen under any circumstances. And then there is Scott Peterson.

    So I came up with THIS idea. If a jury finds a defendant guilty and sentences him/ her to death, we give the right to the FAMILY of the victim to decide whether or not the perpetrator dies, and THEY have to do it. The consequences are theirs, the act is theirs, the state backs out. Could get ugly; might have to give it a rethink.

  148. Sounds reasonable…the idea I used to come up with was to send death row and violent criminals to a penal colony on a deserted island and let them play Survivor. The Peterson crime was among the most heinous I know of; I was revulsed by the facts.

  149. No, George. I don’t think that sounds good at all. The family, in addition to the burden of grief and whatever else has befallen them, now they have to make a horrifying choice. They don’t deserve that guilt, either way.

    My dad always says that no one can say they’re in favor of capital punishment unless they personally are willing to flip the switch or push the plunger.

    That would not be me. Not in any circumstances I can currently imagine, anyway.

  150. The Survivor thing, though. Now maybe that could work out. . . .

  151. I could not sit in judgment on anyone who had not committed a crime directly against me or mine. Happily, this would be a disqualification from jury duty for me, so I think it works out for the best for everyone.

    On the other hand, I felt certain I could never shoot anyone until, while living in New York City, I was followed onto a subway train by a homeless man. When he leered at me through the window of one car while I moved away from him in another, I realized I could most assuredly pull a trigger and stop him without a second thought.

    Most of all, I’m glad none of this turns out to be my responsibility.

  152. Like George said earlier, most of us are capable of almost anything, given the right (or wrong) circumstances.

  153. Did anyone else see that another child has been abandoned in Nebraska? This time it’s a five year old. That makes 34 kids abandoned since the safe harbor law went into effect in July of this year.

    So sad for everyone involved.

  154. Once, when I was walking my dog on a tough street near Capitol Hill where we used to live, a kid tried to rob me at gunpoint. As it was, my days covering crime always made me “watch the street.” As soon as he pulled the gun, I was enraged and in fear and completely drowning in my own adrenaline. I hit him and tried to take the gun away. It was my intention to kill him, or better yet, shoot him in the spine and disable him. I don’t know if my own murderous thoughts and aggressiveness thwarted the crime. I do know that he stepped back while I was yelling to him that this wasn’t going to happen. He and his “friend” across the street yelled some nasty things at me, but they both fled.

    In the meantime, my dog, an old blind dachshund had wandered off in the same direction as my would-be robber and I had to go get her.

    Having no serious weaponry in possession then or now, I went to my golf bag and pulled out a two-iron to use as protection if they had reappeared while I was getting my dog.

    They would have been totally safe, however; I never could hit a two iron!


    It’s an interesting and very real question about what to do with the really violent.


    A childhood friend of mine sat in the second chair as a federal prosecutor during the McVeigh trial. He pressed for the death penalty as an objective application of federal criminal law. As it turned out, McVeigh didn’t appeal and he was put to death in Indiana’s federal max security prison near Terre Haute. In his case, I think he forced the authorities to do what he himself didn’t have the guts to do and that was kill himself.

    Who can understand these things?

    I do see parallels between what he did and what happened at Columbine or Virginia Tech.

  155. Jerri, you wouldn’t HAVE to pull the trigger if it was given to you. The judicial system would give you the RIGHT to make the decision, and if you said it was a responsibility you didn’t want, the case would go back to the state, and the perpetrator would be incarcerated for life.

  156. Thanks, Maureen, for that suggestion…we had thought of audio books for her, but haven’t found any textbooks yet. I bet they are out there though because she isn’t the only one with this problem.

  157. I personally could push buttons, shoot guns, knock chairs out from under a hanging tree. I think some things deserve death.

    I think the problem with the system is how to prove absolutely the guilt of a party and I have trouble murdering someone who was mistakenly convicted.

    Here is a personal instance:
    my uncle who raped me – death. I would do it. the only thing that keeps me from doing it is that if I got caught I would end up in prison which would then hurt my children. I would prefer to perform it with a chopping off of the penis as well. I think he was a damaged soul that was abused, but that does not give him the right to abuse numerous children and then act like nothing happened (he has been in prison for abusing other kids in his neighborhood in the 70’s and 80’s) but by the time I was willing to talk it had been more than 7 years and the statute of limitations protected him. I had also told adults in my family and they continued and still continue to eat fried chicken with the man at the family reunions.

    I had a cousin who murdered his pregnant girlfriend. This happened in Indiana (probably around Kingman/Veedersburg) in about 1984-1986. When he found out she was pregnant he duct taped her mouth, tied a cement block to her leg and dumped her alive into a pond/lake. He was convicted as an adult (he was 14/15 when this happened) and ended up dying of tuberculosis in prison before he turned 21. I’m sure he suffered many other abuses in there as a young, very handsome kid. But – I think he would have deserved the death penalty.

    I guess I believe in the death penalty, but do not think that the system allows for 100 percent accuracy of guilt.

    But, as in my cousin, Bobby Wolfe’s case, or Timothy McVeigh, and other confessed murders, if they don’t care and fight it, who I am I to say they don’t have the right to die for their crimes?

    I can’t defend my stance up against the truth that innocent people have been executed and that is WRONG – so to me this is an impossibly gray area that must exist in a black and white world.

    Susan Smith – I think she should be tied into a carseat, and pushed into a lake, I think the death should be in the manner of the crime. I know it sounds harsh, but I believe that consequences should equal the action.

    I am not unforgiving – but by forgiving you free yourself, that does not mean that you should remove consequences from the guilty.

    In fact, if we value a life and it is taken away, stolen (as I believe rapist do because we are forever changed by that event) – then a respectful punishment would be a life for a life.

    I totally respect those against Death Penalty and I absolutely understand, I am just saying that personally, if the problems of our justice system were repaired (so that no innocents were murdered) then I have no problem with death penalty as a judgment/retribution.

  158. oogee boogeee….

    george you are the investigative reporter extraordinaire.

    in 1943-1945 my mother’s parents divorced in Fountain County, IN – I have tried to call the courthouse and even emailed them about purchasing copies of the court orders and children’s services reports, to no avail – not even a response.

    Any suggestions, would I have to go in person and dig through the boxes myself (if they are still there)? My mom is really interested as she was only 1 – 3 when this happened and her mother died before she ever knew what really happened . . . and it would be part of the book I am trying to piece together about the motherless mothers that have raised my family going back 5 generations . . .

  159. Haven: I understand you wouldn’t HAVE to pull the trigger, but you would have to decide. And for me, anyway, that would be extremely painful. I believe I would say no, but thank God, I’m not in that situation. Because either way, I would question myself about it forever.

    And if the criminal escaped or somehow managed to hurt another person, I’d feel responsible. Too horrible to contemplate.

    So, while I don’t believe the state should put people to death, I wouldn’t want the responsibility of the decision, either.

  160. I think my biggest fear is that, given the choice, I would flip the switch. Or, as I said about BTK Dennis Rader, “I would gladly take my place turning the handle of the spit that roasted him over the pits of hell.”

    Sometimes I find my anger disturbing.

  161. I would find it probably TOO easy to flip switches, but I don’t feel bad about it. Should I feel bad for NOT feeling bad?

  162. No, don’t take it that way. I’m just very conflicted about everything right now.

  163. Sher: I always found that being there in person made it a lot more difficult for a court clerk to give you the run around. By phone, the only thing you can do is throw yourself on their mercy. I would suggest calling the Fountain County clerk’s office in the late afternoon on a Monday or Friday. Ask (read beg) them to steer you to the right place to find out a divorce record. Those records are public. Have all the identifying info that you can find.

    Alternately, I don’t know what your financial condition is, but you could probably hire a local lawyer to get the records for you for a nominal sum.

    That’s about the only practical advice I can give. When I was a reporter, I made it my business to ingratiate myself with clerks and keepers of records in any way I could.

    …and Sher, what happened to you was so awful…but look how you overcame and even destroyed it by being THE PERSON YOU ARE RIGHT NOW…a good-hearted, creative, woman!

  164. I think it is a very conflicting issue and, honestly, if I didn’t have personal experiences that steers me away from it – I would probably be one of those picketing against the death penalty, because as to my other views, you would assume I am against – if there is one thing I have learned, I don’t fit into any one “label” or “box”!

  165. I am such a firm believer in let the punishment fit the crime.
    I concur on strapping Susan Smith to a carseat and sending her into a lake…
    and I have said many times I would like to strap Michael Vick to a rape stand until he cannot walk and then tie him to a wall while someone fights him until his death.
    Morbid, yes but it’s how I can cope with the way society is becoming.

  166. George – you rock! good advice and I will try those options, and I like the idea of letting somebody else do the leg work for me!

    I feel completely triumphant in my life and I really am not as bogged down with the events as I am by the family’s completely rub him in my face all the time. Even though my sense of justice doesn’t occupy my daily life – I will be happy when I can stab the dirt above his dead body, paint “child rapist” on his gravestone. Because, boy, I would love to be there when he gets to the other side!

    More than anything, I just don’t believe that some people are changeable/that no treatment can fix them once they have chosen the evil path of rape & murder – so why not let them get this life over with so they can continue on their path, maybe have another life (if you believe in reincarnation, which I do) to get it right the next time?

    And here is the main reason. I decided at a very specific time in my life that I wasn’t going to BE an abuser, murderer, go insane. And I have every reason and history to have become that – serial killer FOR sure. But I chose not to. There is a moment in every life where you choose your action.

  167. Sher you are so incredibly strong. I just wanted you to know that.

  168. Sher: I totally agree that it’s a “gray area in a black-and-white world.” Perfect description.

  169. Amy/Jerri – I probably sound a little insane, too – but thank you for your acceptance and supportive spirit.

    I’m really fine, and I usually have this all wrapped in a nice little box inside, but when a person directly asks a question, I am definitely embarrassed to be honest!

    More and more in my life I see that some many things are shades of gray . . . I don’t know if there is ever a right or a wrong answer – which is why this issue is to volatile

  170. duh – I am obviously NOT embarrassed to be honest!! That is not just a typo but a travesty up there!

  171. Amy – oh yes – Michael Vick . . . shame shame shame. and how do you like OJ Simpson’s get off the hook lifestyle (until he kidnapped somebody) . . . I cannot imagine the pain of the Goldman’s.

  172. I don’t think it’s a black and white world, or a gray.
    It’s painfully, shockingly, multi-colored.
    Sometimes I envy the autistic.
    That being said, when my daughter was growing up, I just KNEW that if I found out anyone had abused her or any child I knew, that I would be personally incapable of stopping myself from grievous bodily harm or even murder. I had to stop listening to the news on t.v. because I couldn’t stand child abuse reports.
    One thing that makes us most human is the ability to survive through horrific things and still be able to live every day mundane life. And to laugh.

  173. Amen Brenda! At one point my uncle was going to be at a wedding where my daughter would be the flower girl and I had to lay down the LAW – because I totally knew I would go up in the church kitchen, get the longest knife and stab him right there in the middle of 500 guests for even LOOKING at my daughter.

    That is a promise.

  174. Sher: Am I have deja’ vu or have you talked about that particular wedding before?

  175. oh yeah – that was my mother’s wedding and it is the one where I called her and left a message on her answering machine . . . it was some bad biznus!

  176. I can’t remember why it came up though – I’m sure it seemed germaine at the time!

  177. Sher: now that would have been a wedding to remember! And on the plus side: no boring toasts to endure.

  178. yup – although the fundamental, evangelical Baptist don’t have toasts – they eat, gossip, drink sugary punch and open presents!

  179. Don’t forget the butter mints & nut mixes in those little paper cups.

  180. Interesting discussion. I am all over the place on this issue to. As an incest and other child abuses survivor, and having worked in a crime victims center and then private therapy practice for years, I am well versed on the awful impacts of abuse and the post traumatic stress disorder which not only haunts the victims but can also contribute to victimizing others later.

    I do believe some people cannot be rehabilitated. Charles Manson is a good example. Once upon a time a nice baby boy was born, and then he was so abused and neglected in his home and in foster homes and the child care system that he was damaged beyond repair. All possibilities of his being bonded to other humans in any way are obliterated. He is a sociopath, and cutting into another person holds as much importance for him as cutting into a piece of chicken would for the normal person. He will be housed in prison for the rest of his life because his brain chemicals have been altered by his harsh life. Is it his fault he was abused? No. Is it an excuse to hurt others? No. Should we have to pay for his care for the rest of his life? No, but we will. Should he be killed? Personally, I say No, even though I hate that we have to pay for his daily comforts, and he is not curable. I say No because intentionally killing someone is violent, and violence begets violence. Killing someone because they killed someone else is like hitting a child while screaming at them to not hit. It might feel good to vent in the moment, but in the long run it’s just more of the same ugliness and destruction, it’s bad role modeling, and it doesn’t solve anything.

    Given that, of course we’re angry at those who hurt us and others. I found the Susan Smith case horrible. I can’t stand thinking about her childrens’ last minutes. But would killing her really solve anything?

    About the cases where the wrong people are sent to prison or given a death sentence. Yes, it does happen sometimes, but those cases are very rare. We hear about those cases because they are unique and made a big deal of. It shouldn’t happen but it does. Sadly, no systems are perfect, including this one. Does that mean we should throw the whole system away?

    Not that I’m advocating the death sentence. Like I said, I personally think meeting violence with more violence is not the way to go.

  181. oh yeah!! butter mints and nut mix!!!

  182. Brenda, the college here pay student workers to audio record text books. Tell your daughter to ask at student services.

    Haven, I like your idea for capital punishment. I could never do the deed or make the decision, so I guess my answer is no death penalty. We all have to come to eventually come to a place of forgiveness. When I hold onto the anger of what happened in my past it hurts no one but me, and the people who are important to me.

    Blake’s The Poison Tree comes to mind.

  183. Sher: I just wrote an incendiary comment, but thought better of it. I am furious on your behalf that family members were willing to expose you or your daughter to a man who hurt you so.

    So, while I’m not going to flame them here, my heart burns for you.

  184. Well said, as usual, Miz Polly. All I know that the crime and the punishment is grim business. From my exposure, I don’t think the death penalty serves justice, but rather, retribution.


  185. I don’t think there is an ultimate solution to this problem. And I don’t think one punishment over the other will prevent recurrence, except capital punishment is final for the criminal. There is no clusure on abuse and murder, the victims are everywhere. To me I don’t think capital punishment is the same as violence – I think of King Solomon. It is a firm hand of justice.

  186. Jerri – thank you so much. And I think a normal person would feel inflamed in this situation which is why it makes me INSANE to be put in that situation. Although it makes sense to us that we would be upset, to my mom and others they see it as me tearing up the family and breaking up their siblings . . . and that I am being a cry-baby and selfish.

    This is why I find it so difficult to visit any family . . . it would probably be easier just to cut any and all relationships off. I’m sure at some point that it might come to that . . . it is a tenuous situation that brings me to my knees (physically). I have had one sibling that stood up with me to my Mom about this and I cannot tell you how that felt because before then (I was 37 at the time) – no one had EVER stood up for me before in my entire life.

  187. “About the cases where the wrong people are sent to prison or given a death sentence. Yes, it does happen sometimes, but those cases are very rare.”

    Actually and sadly, it is not that rare. In 1976, capital punishment was reinstated in the United States following a four-year moratorium after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1972. Since that time, nearly one thousand men and women have been executed in the United States. Astounding as it may seem, more than 129 people in 26 states have been released from death rows across the USA after evidence of their wrongful convictions emerged.

    And that is just 129 people who have been proved innocent and wrongly convicted. There are most certainly many more because the system is just so flawed.

  188. flame away if you want to – they are not smart enough to get on a computer, search out my name or log onto a blog – and, SO WHAT IF THEY WERE? I don’t go out of my way to hurt people, but I will always choose my child’s safety over their comfort.

    Like Polly, and I am sure many others, these issues occur in so many families and people don’t like discussing their family skeletons. I know many men who were also abused sexually and they have any more issues in a way and they usually choose to stay silent. None of us are immune from these effects on our society or our universal psyche.

  189. Linda, yes that is the main problem I have with the death penalty – the instances where an innocent(s) are mistakenly executed. I don’t know the answer to that problem!

  190. My family is like yours, Sher. Some of them are still friends with people who have abused me, and they do insensitive things like send group emails with both my and an abuser’s email addresses showing instead of using the blind copy option, or invite me to parties where my abusers will be. Asking them not to do this results in them treating me as though I am unreasonable, stuck in the past, or vindictive, rather than recognizing how inappropriate and even cruel their behaviors are.

    Most abuse victims aren’t ready to deal with their abuse emotionally until after statutes of limitations have passed, so legal options aren’t available even if we want them. But we can still try to protect other children by letting others know about our abusers. I have warned people who come into contact with my abusers that not only have they abused, but that they have never taken responsibility for their behaviors and cannot be trusted with children. Unfortunately, most of my family members consider me the crazy one, and they have endangered many children by having them be vulnerable to people I know are child abusers. While it feels good to be the Marilyn Munster of the Kahl family, I do worry about those kids.

  191. George – I was not fully understanding the distinction of retribution from justice . . . but I looked it up and here is a short definition:

    Retributive justice is a theory of justice that considers that proportionate punishment is a morally acceptable response to crime, with an eye to the satisfaction and psychological benefits it can bestow to the aggrieved party and its intimates.

    I think that is what I am meaning, that if we could eliminate the problem of innocents being falsely sentenced, then I am 150% FOR the death penalty – but that would be utopia, wouldn’t it . . . so I am still the snake biting its tail on this one. But I am probably 95% for death penalty, and my only caveat is the above situation.

  192. Linda, I know very little about the statistics regarding the death penalty, so I bow to your wisdom. It’s an interesting subject and I hope you’l tell us more.

    Time to go make dinner, TTYL.

  193. Linda,

    The system is indeed flawed. It always will be and will always be subject to any number of vagaries. I used to think that was inexcusable in a just society. Now, my thinking is more toward the area that these inherent flaws are what keeps society’s discussion and the appellate process alive, and, frankly, necessary. It’s not the laws that necessarily make a just society, but rather, a society’s active pursuit and interpretation of justice.

    Just a thought…

  194. Polly.

    You get it.

    It is an impossible situation . . . I even had to put in my will that if my children visit with my mother, that they are not allowed within 10 miles of said individual. (My mom likes to take Sunday drives and drop in on people) . . . regardless.

    When we had a discussion about which hill to die on – this is MY HILL.

  195. Polly makes dinner!

    I used to make dinner.

  196. Elizabeth Hasselback is happy about Prop 8! bitch.

  197. Sher and Polly- you are both amazing and inspirational and I feel honored to know you both.

  198. Polly and Sher: Livid is what this makes me. That your families have the gall to form the words unreasonable, stuck in the past, or vindictive, cry-baby and selfish is beyond the pale. It strikes me that there is, in their behavior, a signaling of their unwillingness to acknowledge — to either you or to themselves — their part in the abuse, the long-ranging and lasting damage it did to you, and their failure to protect you. Their minimizing in this way your pain and the damage your abusers did to you says they cannot go there. It allows them to live with themselves and that failure. Does that make sense?

    And Sher, it seems clear that when you visit, it puts you flat on your back. Literally. I’ve seen a pattern in your posts, and if the physical damage from a visit or an “incident” does this to you, what is it doing to you psychically and spiritually.

    I send love and protection out to both of you.

  199. carrie –

    yep. total agreement here. knowing what is going on (my mom is the QUEEN of DENIAL, not just regarding this, but her whole life) . . . she can’t deal with it directly. Only when I have flat out said – it is him or me in a certain instance has she been able to choose. But then she will blithely use him in conversation and mention the last get together, try to show me pictures of the reunion, etc. and then I have to say: I can’t look at those and she stutters and then “remembers” and gets all nervous.

    I can’t say “home” because that is supposed to be where you are safe. I feel more like I am going before the executioner or firing squad!

    It is helpful to know that I am not the insane person! And I do know that now, but when you are the one being judged, it is very uncomfortable (to say the least). I think that the world should be outraged.

  200. With respect to capital punishment, yes, innocent people are condemned, the system is racist and classist (appeals aren’t cheap). But beyond this…I’ve thought about it often, and if it were me pulling the trigger, a him/her or me situation, I think I’d let it go (one of the reasons I don’t keep a gun — it’s far more likely to be used against me). Would I fight back? likely. Would I strike in a place that would disable but not do mortal damage? Definitely, and I’ve practiced the sequence in my head. But my priority is my spirit, and I can’t begin to think of the damage taking someone’s life would do to my soul. How I could live with having killed someone, even in self-defense. And if I couldn’t pull the trigger, my government doing it for me is an imperfect solution: it is still blood on my hands.

    I say this from the perspective of never having had that kind of damage done to me, or to my loved ones. We none of us know, do we? what adrenaline and our hard-wired survival instincts or an anger so raging we cannot contain it would have us do in the situation. I think it’s far more punishing to lock someone up for life than to end them, and I’m guessing we could do a lot more to train prison populations to work to offset their room/board and security costs (what is it, around $60K/a year now?). But I’m with Polly on the brain chemical thing. How does someone survive intact as a human being, given that kind of damage? People always think it is reality they are acting on. People so damaged as to perpetrate violence think the reality is such that their action is the solitary avenue available. They rationalize and justify themselves into a corner.

    There’s a book called Change or Die that talks about Delancey Street in SF. Delancey specializes in “rewiring” criminal brains (resulting in some astonishingly low recidivism rates), and when the rationalization and justification is stripped away and they reach the point where they experience remorse, it’s like a switch. Most have a hard time imagining how they’ll be able to live with the guilt. I think in most of us there is a firewall keeping guilt at bay (except for certain religions, you know who you are). Above all, we have to be right. We need to feel justified in our behavior and will generally find a way of framing a situation so that we can see ourselves as right.

    As for reincarnation, I’ve always read that whatever is cut short by deliberate end, as opposed to “accident,” is left for the next life to learn the full lesson. Putting off the debt, so to speak.

    And I don’t know where I’d be, if I were a victim or if someone I loved was. I’d hope I’d still be here, but I can’t say how I’d feel. I would hope my government, in that case, would be the “cooler heads prevailing” and get between me and the perpetrator. Retribution undeterred will go on for millenia. The [relatively] bloodless fall of apartheid had a great deal to do with Nelson Mandela’s forgiveness of those who had him in a prison cell for 27 years and his policy of reconciliation during the transition accomplished nothing short of a miracle in that country. I want to be Nelson.

  201. “People always think it is reality they are acting on.”

    So true, Carrie. If they read Haven, they’d know it’s all a story they’re telling themselves.

    I’m joking, but it’s true. Most of us are masters at framing our behavior so we can see ourselves as right. And even when we understand that tendency, it’s tough to separate objective facts from opinions and biases.

    *Sigh* I want to be like Nelson, too, but I’ve got a long, long way to go.

  202. I don’t know, Jerri — you’ve been a saint lately, from what I’ve been reading. — I have a dear friend who is very involved in the birth mother/reunion community, so I’ve only heard stories from the other side. It’s balm to hear of someone handling such a fraught circumstance with such love and grace. Your big story is shaping up to be one that is required in the world at large.

  203. Mandela had huge denial issues where the AIDS epidemic is concerned. But, in retirement he admitted he failed his country, with his response, and his now is committed to the fight against AIDS.

    My point – everyone has denial issues. Some worse than others.

    I had such strong denial about my drinking, I could pretend my car was invisible, which meant my mother couldn’t see it sitting at the bar every evening when she drove by on her way home from work.

  204. Now THAT’S talent, POS!

  205. POS–very, very funny. And not, I’m sure.

    Carrie–thank you. I’ve been struggling with that story today, feeling it outmatches my writing skills.

    When all this started with my daughter, I reverted to type: research first, you know. There’s a lot of material available to birth mothers and adoptees, but almost nothing for adoptive mothers. The standard advice seems to be that this isn’t your story and you should stay out of it.

    While I respect that in many ways, I want to support my daughter and I want to honor my self and my place in her life as well as her birth mother’s. It’s a tall order. I could use some help, and I’ll bet others could, too.

    A friend who placed a child for adoption and is now in reunion has been reading along. She says she’s gotten clarity about some of the other mother’s fears through reading about mine. I hope that’s true. I’d hate to be airing all my neuroses for nothing.

  206. Oh, and one more thing, Carrie. About those stories in the birth mother/reunion community. From knowing your friend, do you have suggestions for what I should or should not be doing?

    Right now I’m running on my own common sense, which is pretty thin on the ground these days.

  207. HAVEN!!
    I love this blog!
    I am, however, a little gunshy about things I love that are in transient, media form like t.v. shows or radio shows, or even foods…..If I love them, they go away. So if I have any kind of bad juju in that department, please please, don’t stop doing this blog…I want to be reading it when I’m an old retired lady going to the tenth annual Haven’s blog babies reunion and I want to live in the Haven’s rest home with people who love to read books! I don’t want to be watching the t.v. program with 5 seductive bimbos on a couch talking about how ‘size is important’ (not that I’ve ever seen that one)
    So, all I’m saying is…keep it going.
    Love, Brenda

  208. From what you’ve written, Jerri, I would say your common sense is big as all outdoors, and I’m not sure where the neuroses have surfaced, I haven’t seen it. (You’ll never have done this for nothing, anyway: you are getting clarity.) You’re treating N with such goodness — which has to register on some level to Katie just how much of a gift you consider her to be. And how it isn’t your story, too, is truly beyond me. If the laws weren’t what they are in many states (sealed even if adoptive and biological parents and the child want transparency), there might be a basis for a collaborative community to make it easier all around, less fearful and anxiety producing. There isn’t much of a template to go on. — As for the calendar: you can say no. It was a turning point in my relationship with my mother when I realized she was human and her feelings could be hurt (stoic that she was).

    I’ll ask my friend what she knows as far as resources and any guidance she knows of on this front. If anyone would know, she would.

  209. George, found the Heralicitan living room poem. I swear. Ten years I looked and he found it. I am humbled by his gifts.

  210. Incidentally, I just finished a project for a foundation for which she worked. There are Foster/Adoptive Family Support Groups in every state, three in your city alone. I’ll send you the contact info via the yahoo group. You are the only Jerri there, right?

  211. NO! George the gumshoe! George the magician! George the resourceful! — I think he does it because he loves you, and all things Haven.

  212. (Will we get to see it?)

  213. Carrie–I’m so new to this part. Do you mean there are states where records can’t be opened even if everyone involved agrees to it? Oh, surely I misunderstood. That would be awful.

    Some of the stuff I’ve read on sites for natural mothers (a preferred term, I think) refers to adoption as “a transfer of human babies from loving (if naive or pressured) relatives to customers” and “adopters” as “the people who profited from suffering.”

    It tears me apart to contemplate the pain that prompts such words.

    About the calendar: I’m trying to follow the golden rule here. But I may revisit the subject and ask her to give me a little time to get used to things first.

    Thank you so much for asking your friend. I’d appreciate any guidance she can offer.

    You, Carrie, are a light in the world. Thank you.

  214. The poem? George found the poem?

    Remarkable man, that George.

    And Carrie–far as I know, I’m the only Jerri

  215. Jerri: resource contact numbers on the way. I’ll talk to my friend and see what else there is off the radar.

    The language you describe is repugnant, and to my knowledge, anathema to the birth mother/reunion community, which honors the adoptive parents and approaches the process of reunion with careful consideration and respect for those adoptive parents and their parent/child relationship. I’m so sorry you saw that. There is so much pain and hurtful language on both sides; to add to it unnecessarily is such a misstep with real consequences for real people. Just so wrong.

    Happy to do anything I can to help, Jerri. More later.

  216. YAY! George found THE poem!

  217. I bow to George! Good work!

  218. Jodi: I am so happy to know that attitude is not pervasive. Mostly because when two sides war over children, the children always lose. Always.

    My deepest prayer is that this not be either/or but both/and. It’s what my daughter deserves. Her mothers, too.

  219. Jodi? Did you just get me confused with Jodi? I’m so flattered I can’t see straight!

    I think your wished-for outcome is truly achievable, from what I can see of the three of you. Really, your clarity in such an emotional situation is astonishing.

  220. I apologize, Carrie. I know I’m talking to you. My fingers were simply moving faster than my brain. (And your brilliance does match Jodi’s. . . .)

  221. I add my cheer to the crowd…The Poem!
    Let’s see it!

  222. Adoptive Parents/Birth Parent Reunion:

    I don’t have any personal experience on this. I did have an aunt that gave up a baby when she was a Junior in High School (my grandparents sent her to a home for unwed mothers up in Wisconsin and she came home having birthed, but empty handed. She recalls holding her baby girl a day after her birth because there was a tornado – – she wanted to keep her badly, but my grandparents were adamant and wanted her to go to college, etc.

    25 years later we all got to meet my cousin and I have to say that it was a joy for all of us. We even got to attend her fabulous wedding, both the adoptive family and the birth family. But I think this was a rare and beautiful outcome. 5 years later my aunt died and I know that they all appreciated one another . . . my cousin is an amazing person and I can’t imagine not having her as a part of our family now. She spends the holidays with her birth siblings (both her adoptive parents have died as well), but we get together and keep in touch. I think this worked out because all the parties were respectful and happy for each other and what they had all given over the years.

    I say openness with feelings is the major issue.

  223. Ah, Sher. That sounds like exactly what I hope for—all parties “respectful and happy for each other and what they had all given over the years.”

    It helps a lot to hear of such a beautiful outcome. Thank you.

  224. Jerri, I hope for the best of outcomes for you all, too.
    My daughter does not want to know her birthmother, which we have told her repeatedly would be okay with us. I even did the detective work to find her. At least we know that the avenue is open if she ever wishes in the future. She did register with the mutual agency, but never got a reply, so we can only assume that her birthmother doesn’t want to find her. She loyally insists that it’s fine that way, but sometimes I think I want to know more than she does. I want her birthmother to see what a wonderful and beautiful person she has turned out to be and have some solace in the fact that she has been so loved.
    Good luck to you.

  225. Thank you. To you and your daughter, too, Brenda.

  226. That’s really beautiful that you did that for your daughter, Brenda. My cousin was adopted and his adoptive parents were so threatened by him asking questions that he learned to stop asking them as a young child. He was NEVER hugged, kissed, held or told he was loved as a child (and of course they believe they were ideal parents…welcome to my f’d up family of origin.) He did find his birth mother as an adult and it did not work out. Of course there are no guarantees. But your daughter will always know that she is loved and supported no matter what, and that you are secure in your love for each other, and that’s the important thing.

    It’s only five minutes away and it does involve the evil tube, but at 10 PM eastern standard time Barbara Walters is interviewing the “pregnant man.” It’s kind of silly (and all about ratings) that they’re calling him that, but it should be an interesting show anyway. Lots of good discussion about gender identity, related to our previous discussion here.

    Good night wonderful folks, see you tomorrow.

  227. Hard to believe, I know, but there are online instructions for making a flamethrower at home with parts from Lowes! Think of the possibilities …

  228. Oh, Jodi, you had to throw down the gauntlet!

  229. This kid is going to start his parents house on fire one day. Adn he goes by the name 5ockpuppet.

  230. And speaking of George’s suggestion: “to send death row and violent criminals to a penal colony on a deserted island and let them play Survivor.” It’s been done. Remember Devil’s Island, or its depiction in the movie Papillion? How’s about British prisoners who were shipped to Australia (which is where Sweeney Todd escaped from before taking up his razor to make meat pies with Mrs. Lovett)? It didn’t work so good.

  231. POS, that kid’s a pansy. Here’s the flamethrower I was admiring:

  232. Have any of you started buying Christmas gifts? ‘Cause I haven’t and usually by this time I at least have some ideas about what to buy for people. But I’m clueless about it this year.

  233. I have. I’m trying to convince my extended family to just put in a big charitable donation and maybe just bring token gifts, like homemade cookies or something.

  234. Soe kids have WAY too much time on their hands.

  235. or, SOME. heh

  236. Gun season for deer comes in in Indiana tomorrow morning thirty minutes prior to sunrise. Season comes in the month of November, the month that begins with “N-O.” As in, “No, we’re not coming for family Thanksgiving dinner unless we’ve filled our tags.”

    Is everybody serving turkey as the main course for Thanksgiving? Anybody having something different?

  237. If there wasn’t turkey then I would just leave.

    I once almost had a nervous breakdown when I was served COLD potato salad instead of HOT MASHED POTATOES. WTF???

  238. Hi everyone!

    You know, there is nothing I like be3tter than finding something. This was a gold medal week for quests. Particularly those done for love, i.e., JimShue sent me in search of particular article, and, four OUR dear Haven, I have been on the lookout for the poem for several days. As I told Haven, I think I am now pretty well read-up on poems with a Heraclitus connection. It’s a quirk of personality. My first wife wore hard contacts — remember those, people? When she would lose one, I was on the case immediately, asking crowds of people not to move as I got on my hands and knees or, in 1977, dismantling a sink in the women’s shower at a campsite in New Hampshire. I think the record was something like 25-2 by the time we divorced. My wife now loses jewelry all the time — earrings in particular, which, I admit, gives me great joy to track it down. I am patient and persistent, methodical even when I’m on a quest. Always been that way…sometimes I searched for things that weren’t lost, just on a mission to find.

  239. Searching isn’t like hunting.

  240. …sorry for all those typos and mistypings…I am using my Blackberry…I will go to regular computer mode in a minute.

  241. This will be an interesting Thanksgiving. We’re going to Peru for a few days. My wife lived with a Peruvian guy in Lima for about ten years. They broke up but remained friends…I even shot pictures for his wedding. My wife is as close as a daughter-in-law to his parents. So we are going to visit with them and then head over to Cuzco and visit Machu Picchu. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about Incas and such in preparation for this trip. Looking forward to it. It’s kind of an extension of trips I made to Central America about ten years ago. Visited many Mayan sites then. Thanksgiving is a pretty good time to travel. A couple of years ago went up to Banff, Alberta over Thanksgiving. I had always wanted to see the Canadian Rockies. So, long story short, no turkey for me this T-day.

  242. …guess I’m the only one on this blog…last blogger standing…

  243. Writing is a lot like going off on a finding mission. You get a particular feeling, or you have a certain experience, or witness some event. It’s already happened, but you want to find it again. So you go searching for it using words and sentences to turn over the rocks and peer down the blind alleys until you find it, drag it out, polish it up, present it.

  244. damn…hate exchanging messages with myself…where’s an insomniac when you need one? night all.

  245. night George.

  246. Sorry…I’ve been watching “SuperBad.”

  247. Here’s your fellow insomniac, George, and you’ve gone to bed. I collected Peruvian retablos for a few years and meanwhile became friends with an antiques dealer in Peru, so she’s invited me to come any time to go antique treasure hunting in the Amazon with her. Maybe some day. I hope you’ll take pictures and tell us all about your adventures when you get back.

    Time to try to sleep again. Goodnight.

  248. George et al. –
    I wanted to ask about your comment “I think Christianity got fear-based when Paul came knocking on the door.” I have always had some unease about some of what Paul had to say – his spirit seems counter to Jesus’ on many occasions. How do others feel about him? Haven, any comments from seminary?

  249. George, I’ve tried to read and post with my blackberry but it’s taken me a week to scroll down to the bottom of the thread. Do you have a scrolling secret?

  250. Maureen,
    I agree completely. When I was editing a children’s Bible some time ago, I had to sit down and just read the New Testament at once, instead of hearing it a few sentences at a time from various places. Reading the Gospels and then reading the letters of Paul, well, it felt like I was reading about two different faiths. That experience eventually led me to the door of a Quaker meetinghouse. But I do think Paul still has plenty of wonderful things to say —

  251. I treat Paul’s writings as I do all the Bible. It was written some 2,000 years ago, and Paul was a man. You can take what works for you, then allow the rest to just be. The Bible is a mystical text. No one can or should translate it and tell anyone else What It Means.

    It’s like a 2,000-year-old map. Its creators got the main idea right, although you wouldn’t use it to get from place to place today.

  252. A couple years ago, two Gypsy Bible scholars came to Extended Grace and explained that if you read the bible in the order it’s meant to be read it’s more like other mythological stories. They claimed stories were basically broken in mixed up to make them more scary for reasons social control. I had a list of how they are supposed to ordered somewhere.

    They also play and write Celtic music from bible stories.

    Here is their website:

    and you can listen to some of their songs on Myspace:

  253. Thanks for the Paul thoughts, Peggy and Particles and Jodi. As I was once again cleaning the calf nursery this morning, I started wondering if Paul had Asperger Syndrome (can you tell this is a focus for me?) The awesome thing about Aspies is they GET THINGS DONE. Or as Caroline Myss said, “Sometimes God recruits control freaks because they have an ego big enough to handle the job.” The downside is the compulsion toward order. Sounds like Paul a bit.

    Peggy – I agree that Paul has lots to offer: First Corinthians 13 being a standout. Has anyone else seen the “Love Is” picture book based on it? I found it at our library and then bought a copy.

    Jodi, I like your analogy of the old map. I bring this issue up partly because my colleague and friend kind of relies on Paul to justify his far-right conservative viewpoints, such as the fact that he “disagrees” with homosexuality. And that we are only REQUIRED to give one-tenth to the poor, giving more than that just means we are EXTRA nice. I fight back and say, “Jesus was a radical! Whom do you think HE would vote for?” I am glad the election is over – our friendship was starting to be tested.

    Particles – Thanks for the link. I am 100% Irish so anything Celtic seems to go right to the center of my soul.

    We are suffering opening day of shotgun season here in Central New York as well. All rural business grinds to a halt until the end of black powder. In the general store there is the constant babble of “Blah, blah, blah, blah … tree stand. Blah, blah, blah, blah … fifty yards. Blah, blah, blah, blah …. sights must have been off.”

    My husband hunts when he can squeeze it in and usually fills the freezer. Another Aspie skill. We usually have two Thanksgivings: native foods – venison, wild turkey, squash, and traditional foods – store turkey, mashed potatoes, etc.

    The problem here is the effect hunting has on the local male populace. I have taken to calling hunting season the Perpetual Male Adolescence Festival. I have often found myself on the front porch yelling “Evolve, damn it!” This is usually when everyone else is out in the woods and I am stuck with the farm and the kids and papers to grade.

    Excuse me, I rant. I’ll stop now.

  254. Good morning, Angels. I started reading this morning and I’ve got my fuss on. My fuss looks exactly like my sanguine, my contentment, my ‘wow, that’s a gorgeous piece of taxidermy,’ my completed manuscript, so don’t worry.

    1. My argument is — and I hope I was clear about it — the right of the state to murder its own citizens. No other developed nation in the world finds that palatable. Consider why.

    2. Jerri, if you allow the judicial system to determine who murders people in your name, you are as responsible as the person admistering the corrosive IV. Many, many family victims have come forward and pleaded that the death penalty not be on the table. This is a situation where you don’t off scot-free.

    3. FEELING murderous toward another is not in any way the same as allowing that person to die.

    4. If your family puts you in a position in which you are in proximity to someone who victimized you, please, and I admitted up at the top there ↑ that I’ve got a fuss on, excise those people from your life PRONTO. I will NOT go into a certain member of my step-family who tramatized me for ten years, except that it involved obscene phone calls and a law-suit claiming I was a prostitute at sixteen, and the next time I saw her — many, many years later — I was six feet tall, wealthy, a #1 New York Times bookseller, and she was $20,000 in tax debt and about to lose her house. I stood miles and miles above her, wearing a vintage little black dress and HEELS, because one can ever be too tall, and I smiled graciously and said, to her, “Isn’t it interesting? I mean, I find this really really interesting, that there is a single person who could write you a check right this minute for $20,000 and she’s the person you urged at commit suicide at twelve. Ha ha! I just must shake the head at karma.” To her credit, she said, “That hadn’t escaped me.”

    As John says, if someone in your family, even someone you love, is passive aggressive enough to ask you to stand in the same room with someone who abused you, your response must be, “This isn’t my defintion of love. I’ll be glad to meet you for lunch, but if you ever try to put me in the same room with that Black-Hearted and his Satan penis, I will burn your house to the ground.”

    John always call this, Channeling The Inner Haven.

  255. It has been my experience that if the traditional turkey, to-die-for mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sour red berries, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie menu is varied in any way at all except to ADD things, then there is very much verbal dramatic reaction from the family crowd. Strictly traditional at our house, even when I sneak in a greek salad or something.
    Oh yeah..gotta have the garlic dill pickles and pickled herrings and olives for the germans in the crowd.
    And we appreciate all the OC people out there…otherwise nothing would get done correctly, right? Not that I am one, oh no…okay I confess. Sigh.

  256. YES! Haven, especially #4!!

  257. As George noted, I am nearly back to mine old self. Which is not at all what you’ve been prepared for — let me suffice it to say that I’m not in the wolf business for nothing.

  258. Let me make that point a little more clear: this woman tried to convince me to commit suicide as a child.

  259. Lordy Haven . . . wow!

    I’m speechless. Evilness is not always physical is it??

  260. I am totally with you on the Karmic retribution . . . I have seen it and observed WITH JOY as some lives have been torn asunder by their past actions . . . and it does make believe that there is alignment occuring.

  261. my comments just got eaten and they were so topical.

  262. make me believe . . .ugh, why doesn’t wordpress have preview like blogger does??

    for instance: my ex-evilness had many lost babies and one that died on my birthday . . . I’m sure that little bit of evidence did NOT escape his poisoned mind. NOt that I wish a loss of children on anyone, but it seemed very Karmic to me given the fact I was castigated in writing and on tv for much less.

    also, my rapist uncle . . . his only daughter (whom he used to have dance like a stripper on their coffeetable when she was 3) . . . was mysteriously killed with her husband while they were camping, possibly double suicide or just accident, they left their camping stove on in their tent all night . . . my uncle is the one who found them. At this point I was an adult and was in communication with the Indiana State Police trying to figure out how we could prosecute him for former crimes, we were trying to use torture, but can you believe – that also has a statute of limitations?

    Karma – I respect it greatly and it gives me the patience to sit back and wait for the show.

  263. Haven that woman picked the wrong kid to say that to, didn’t she!!!??

    We become strong women, but only because we were equally strong children.

  264. I agree, Haven.

    I avoided my mother for years to remove myself from her passive-aggressive crap, and to give myself some time to heal.

    11yrs of AA, the removal of the abuser, and the death of a sibling makes for a huge difference.

    There have only been two occasions, in the last decade, where I crossed paths with Mr. asshole and I about jumped out of my skin. So, there is still fear there, but it no longer controls me like it did for much of my adult life.

  265. haven’s babies – I have to go make labels for my show I have to hang in a few hours . . .must sign off . . . have a merry and meaningful day! love you all.

  266. I just want to say I am here, and I am listening.

  267. Sher: I’ve been thinking all night about your “situation” and what happened to you as a child. Let’s just say I didn’t sleep very well. This morning I got up, held Riley and promised her that if anyone ever, EVER touched her inappropriately, that I would hunt them down and tear them into so many tiny little pieces that no one would ever find one shred of evidence that they had ever existed on this planet. And I mean it. There can be no excuse for sexual assault against a child.

    With that said, I know that you’ve said how difficult it is to be around your family. And I’m going to say to you don’t. Just don’t be around them. To quote a friend of mine “They don’t deserve you. They never deserved you.” YOU deserve much better treatment than that. Anyone who would have to stop and think about whether to have a pedophile in their life over their own daughter, well that’s just inexcusable. And it really pisses me off!

  268. Isn’t it interesting that we fight our NATURAL instincts about abuse and consider putting ourselves back in sitatuions with the abusers, and/or the family members who ALLOWED the abuse, who knew about it on some level, and still deny that it happened? We deny reality and say, “Well, I really should be polite. The family expects all of us at holiday dinner.” We show up, play nice, then get physically and mentally ill. We need SUPPORT to allow ourselves to say we will not attend.

  269. I feel the same way.

    My friend’s father molested her over a period of years. Since this has come out, she and her family have shown compassion to him, because he is a broken individual, BUT he has never been around her children, and she has barely seen him in years, and no one expects her to see him.

  270. Jodi, POLITENESS. Don’t get me started, or you’ll see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse thundering over the horizon. I belong to the animal kingdom, and my father famously said to my step-grandfather, who had been exposing him to the children in the family, “If you EVER,” this while lifting him up and pinning him against the wall two feet above my dad’s head, “do anything even remotely like that again, I will rip your dick off and shove it down your throat until choke to death on it.” These are not words you wanted to hear coming from Bob Jarvis, trust me. The man never so much as spoke to any of the girl grandchildren again.

    Oh, and this was at Thanksgiving.

  271. KUDOS TO BOB JARVIS. That takes GRIT.

  272. Seriously, it’s no wonder so many people hate the holidays. WHAT A FARCE. And I say this as a holly jolly fool.

  273. Haven: And people might wonder why Thanksgiving never was all that important to you … But by that last sentence you wrote in the above paragraph, I’m guessing you did see you step-grandfather again.

    Politeness is bred into Hoosiers, just like swinging your car far to the right as you make a left-hand turn. “Oh, now …” is the phrase that sweeps unwanted knowledge under the rug. “Can’t you just [select any one] be nice – bring some deviled eggs and come on over – say hi to your Uncle Bill?”

    It’s chilling that so many of us are relating to this.

  274. Seems to me that a lot of people need their asses kicked — Sher’s uncle, Haven’s bitch of cousin I guess it was a cousin, but sine we’re all non-violent here, we best whoop-ass by being what we are each day, and each day being more than what we have been. It starts with a resoultion such as Jim’s to his daughter, or Sher’s art, or like Haven, being a tour de force or art, intellect, spirit and personal drive. I have been lucky. Being big, no one ever could make me small with any validity. Being naturally imbued with contrariness, few dared to cross me. I am left with the mission then of standing up for those I love, finding lost things, offering encouragement, offering to open up cans of whoop-ass as a way to bolster those around me. I guess I strive to be a good big brother or let my benevolent avuncular flag fly. This good blog gives me such a forum. Thanks.
    About Paul. I think of him in pretty much the same way as CS lewis or Buber or Kierkegaard. At times he wrote beautifully, but he was human and his thoughts were imperfect and most of his thinking toward women and heirarchical structures bear little relevance in the way we live now. I am basically a Gospel guy who drinks from the Gnostic stuff. As for me, I kinda like Luke, he is careful to attribute his sources and I respect that.

  275. Mind your own business will just about be the death of me. I have family that will gossip to the cows come home, but when faced with an ACTUAL problem, where there is real danger, you are supposed to just sit still and keep your mouth shut. And of course I WON’T!

  276. Do I smell smoke from computer keyboards? ‘Cause this topic is getting SOME kinda reaction.

  277. Haven, I’ll see your Four Horsemen and raise you The Rider on the White Horse.

  278. Like many, I have had my own forms of victimization. But I also have a voice that has been know to say “OH NO YOU DID’NT!” And really, I think being a damn loudmouth is one of my greatest gifts.

  279. George: Years ago I was in a class at the Y with a woman who had just became a minister. In conversation one day, I said that it seemed the letters from Paul were causing the most damage to Christianity and should probably be pulled out of the bible. She told me that the problem wasn’t with the letters themselves, but the way people were misinterpreting them. (I may get this wrong, so if someone wants to correct me, please do so. My NSV has come up missing.) For instance, when he talks of the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah being destroyed he lists the things they did wrong and said they were without God. Most people then interpret that passage as saying that homosexuals are without God. The woman in my class said it was backwards. The people of those cities because they were without God they were immoral and that’s why they were destroyed.

    I’m just an amateur here. But her explanation helped me a lot in understanding Paul. OK. Now I’ll relinquish the pulpit to those more qualified.

  280. JimShue, The woman you were talking to was not present when Paul wrote that stuff. She knows not one bit more about it than you do. Does it speak to YOU in a way that helps you TODAY? That’s all you have to ask yourself, in my opinion. What crap is that, “Most people then interpret that passage as saying that homosexuals are without God.”? They weren’t there, either.

    The Bible is a mystical text. It’s 2,000 years old and has gone through so many translations and revisions it doesn’t resemble its original self. Did any of those writers think their letters would exist past being delivered to the party whose name the book in the Bible now bears? Talk about getting me started. How dare people threaten each other with Bible passages. Grrrrr …

  281. Let’s take this back to our Holocaust discussion. Let’s use the sentence the woman spoke to you, Jim: “The people of those cities because they were without God they were immoral and that’s why they were destroyed.”

    Isn’t this what the Nazis were saying? How is it different?

  282. OK Jodi, I have to chuckle. I just remembered a conversation I had with someone years ago when I went to Catholic services for the first time ever with them. I was told that I couldn’t take communion because I wasn’t Catholic. I asked why since I was baptized and had been taking part in communion for years. I was told that Catholics believe that the bread IS the body of Christ and the wine IS the blood of Christ. I said that’s kind of gross if you think about it. You’re practicing cannibalism if you truly believe that.

    You’d have thought I had just sprouted horns and a tail from the looks I got. They wouldn’t hear of it being a metaphor. I tried arguing that at the last supper that Jesus didn’t chop off an arm and pass it around or open a vein into the chalice and pass that around. It was bread and wine! I wasn’t asked back to that church. Um, yeah. Hurt my feelings!

  283. Regardless of what you believe about the “stuff” communion is made of, I do think it’s elitist to say who and who cannot partake of Christ’s table. My church teaches it is a means of grace by which we receive Christ’s presence, and no one is ever turned away.

  284. Kate, I’ve since discovered that not all Catholics are like that. And I’ve taken communion at a couple of Catholic Churches over the years.

    My own belief system is one of believing in God, communing with him doesn’t need to be in a building, and respecting other’s beliefs. I don’t know that I completely agree with any one religion. “Religious” people terrify me.

    And the Belief-O-Matic put me at being aligned 1) 100% with Quakerism or 2) 100% Neo-Paganism. Yeah. That pretty much sums it up.

  285. That’s good to know. I actually LOVE a good Latin Mass, and it always made me sad to think I wouldn’t be able to participate.

  286. Looks like I’m 100% Liberal Protestant, and 99% Quaker.

  287. I’ve not been to a Latin Mass (I assume you don’t mean Hispanic), but Christmas Eve Mass… LOVED it! Except for the incense when it hit the back of my throat and I had a coughing fit. Now I know to stay away from the main aisle.

  288. I read in the newspaper the other day that some churches are not allowing members who voted for Obama to take communion. This is some kinda crazy hateful world we live in, isn’t it?

    As far as being in the same room with people who abused me or even those who allowed it, Hell to the No. I won’t even lunch with them. There’s too much crap circulating in the air. If the air was cleared I would be happy to socialize. I am a forgiving person, and I believe anything can be forgiven if the perpetrator sincerely takes responsibility for their behaviors and makes whatever changes they need to make to ensure it will never happen again. But sit and dine with someone who either abused me or allowed it, and make chit chat about the weather or who won American idol last night? No f’ing way. I decided years ago that I’d wasted too many years trying to get bottomless enpty wells to love me and I wasn’t wasting a minute more. It’s been great, my life has only been enriched by my raising my standards, and I haven’t looked back.

    Goeorge, I thought you were kidding about Haven being six feet tall and you being even taller, but now that Ms. H has confirmed it, I’m a believer. It makes me smile to think of you two being up here in TallLand with me!

    Naptime, yippee! It doesn’t get much better than naps.

  289. Naptime’s over. And I missed out.

  290. Perpetrators are not going to “sincerely take responsibility for their behaviors and make whatever changes they need to make to ensure it will never happen again.” So “forgiveness” is not a possibility, either.

    The word “forgiveness” implies a superiority of one person to another. In my experience, both parties acknowledging this is not what’s called for, and seldom what occurs. Since I can only find a way to live what the past and move on for myself, it seems more sensible to replace “forgiveness” with “acknowledgement.” Yes, I acknowledge what happened to me. I neither want nor need anyone who “trespassed against me” to come to me repentant. Nor will I waste more time waiting. For me, life is about Not Wasting Time and being as Happy as Possible.

  291. Too often people think forgiveness is a form of enablement, when really I think it is a way to rid yourself of bitterness. You can acknowledge and forgive someone for wrong-doing whether or not they desire that forgiveness. The ball rests in your court to make sure that person is not put in a position of power over you ever again.

  292. I’ve hesitated to bring this up, because it’s not my story, but I felt the need to chime in on what has been discussed. BTW You are all AWSEOME, and BRAVE, and SMART, and I applaud all of you.

    Someone very dear to me was abused for years during her childhood. She has carried that with her well into adulthood, yet she is the most open and giving person I know. Recently she sent a letter to her abuser and his wife and informed them that she has carried this guilt and anger for years, and she couldn’t do it anymore so she had decided to give it back to them. They could own it now because she no longer needed it. It was one of the single bravest acts I have ever witnessed. Her capacity for forgiveness outsrips by a mile anyone I have ever known.

  293. I am sad that I missed an awesome discussion last night/earlier today. I had a great book to read and a basement to clean.

    I have a few things I need to say.

    Maureen, I adore my “Aspie” family, too, but its hard to communicate with one another at times, thus the frustration. By the way, did you catch the new Aspie doctor on Grey’s Anatomy Thursday night? I was thrilled!

    I’m a civil servant who works in the legal system. I have to say that justice is not blind, the rich get away with everything, and the poor and the dumb get screwed over CONSTANTLY. It makes me sick to know that victims of abuse, such as myself, can not go after their attackers after a few years. I think that statute of limitations in MI is seven years. When this sort of thing happens to you the LAST thing you think of is, “OH, I want everyone to know what happened by standing up in court and testifying.”

    I’ve seen absolute disasters happen in a courtroom. People who need to go to prison forever walk away, and commit the same crimes again and again. The jails are overcrowded and they release criminals in my county. The judges barely work and they think most of the people they encounter are liars and assholes. And they always make jokes about the domestic violence victims, they allowed it, they had it coming, she is still with him, it doesn’t matter, etc.

    This is why I’m in a constant state of sickness. I believe in fairness, and I never see it happen for a whole day at work. My god, why do people do the things they do?

    Haven, I love the fact that you are a 6 foot tall sexy lady in heels! I love that you had that moment with that person, and I’m sorry that all of those bad things happened to you in your life. I sad that anything bad happens to anyone in their lives. It’s amazing to know that on some level we are all survivors of this crazy world.

  294. I receive so much strength and courage from all of you. Thank you.

  295. oh – Linda – the shows are hung and ready for your visit tonight!

    JimShue – the fact that you have made a protection promise to Riley – that is the most beautiful, supportive thing that has ever come out of my experiences! Thank you, and what a LUCKY girl Ms. Riley is! Can’t wait to meet her!

    Lest anyone think I am a total wimp – it has been made very CLEAR to all memebers of my family that I WILL NOT be in the same house, on the same property, with that child torturer. That was made clear 3 years ago during my mother’s wedding and I did say I wasn’t coming (even though my sisters and I were paying for it),IT WAS THE MOST FREEING DAY OF MY LIFE TO LEAVE A SCREAMING, CURSING MESSAGE ON HER ANSWERING MACHINE – I WAS TRIUMPHANT AND STRENGHTENED, IT WAS SO GREAT, I said that I would kill him . . . that I would never speak to her again and that she would never see her grandchildren again. When faced with that ultimatum she did choose me, but for god’s f**& sake, I don’t know why I had to ASK.

    However, I truly believe that in the past generations of her family, that incest and abuse was an everyday occurrence and that she was/is somewhat immune to it. She also is of the belief that if your husband isn’t beating the shit out of you, why leave? So I do think she has come a long way, even though she was forced to make the choice. Also, during the pre-wedding festivities, my sister and one of my brothers refused to see this man or let him near their children, so I know that I have the emotional support of those 2, at least. This has meant that my mother has not seen 2 of her sisters for many years and she has sacrificed that for me and my family.

    Denial is a much easier coping skill and I can’t really blame her for that. I think she was the best mother she could be. She was a motherless child – her dad (a WWII hero) divorced her mom when she was only a toddler. She got to see her mom a few times a year, but only if it was supervised by her dad, in the home of his and his new wife’s farm (she has a sister just a few months younger than her from the mistress/new stepmother).

    Can I just say, the examples she had in no way prepared her for a life of conscious existence. Her mother died before she was of a legal age to visit her by choice. She has been beaten within inches of her life, tortured, so I just can’t dump this all on her.

    Also I was staying with these family members while she was in the hospital having a new baby – she didn’t know at the time. And he threatened me with killing her or the new baby if I told, so NO ONE knew until I was 12 (even then they didn’t take me to the authorities) . . . by the time I was 14 the statutes were passed. He was already serving prison time for abusing other kids by then . . .

    I think it sounds really simple and I do have lines that I die upon. My relationship with my mom is rough and I am more the mother than the other way around . . .

    I really don’t feel sorry for myself. It is just one of those facts, like: I have freckles, I am short, I survived abuse . . . and it doesn’t rule my life, but going near the scene of the crime, with or without the criminal being there, hearing his name dropped casually – it is hard . . . like I have said before, I know this will only come to closure after the death of that generation. I do NOT spend holiday days with my family. I am having a quiet, intimate dinner pre-Thanksgiving at my sister’s house and will visit my mother AFTER christmas day . . . I do know myself well enough NOT to put my head inside the noose . . . I just kind of dance around the hanging tree. I don’t attend family reunions or the annual Indian Summer Bonfire . . .

    If this makes you hold your babies tighter and watch them closer and think twice before they leave your protective wing – then I know all of us survivors are so proud to have shared our histories and that is the best outcome we could ever hope for!

  296. What is this belief-o-matic??? I want to do it!!!


    And just have to say… whew! You story and the way your mother acts made me want to go kick some butt! Glad you know how to take care of yourself. But, what a lousy, disgusting thing to do to a child.

  298. Jim Shue – you are so right!!! My life would be easier if I could just chop off all the appendages, but then I would be limbless. Instead, I have chopped off MOST of the offending digits, and perform debrisment surgery on the others as needed!

    Off to get snazzied up for the opening . . . will check out the belief o matic later tonight – – this is so cool! Will also share it with my son who is completely driving himself philosophically and spiritually crazy right now.


  299. Good luck with the opening. I’m there in spirit.

  300. I’m going to have like 5 minutes to get ready, but I wanted to know what I was:

    Here we go:

    1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
    2. New Age (93%)
    3. Mahayana Buddhism (82%)
    4. Unitarian Universalism (80%)
    5. Scientology (74%)
    6. New Thought (73%)
    7. Liberal Quakers (72%)
    8. Theravada Buddhism (71%)
    9. Taoism (69%)
    10. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (63%)
    11. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (61%)
    12. Secular Humanism (60%)
    13. Reform Judaism (59%)
    14. Sikhism (50%)
    15. Baha’i Faith (47%)
    16. Hinduism (47%)
    17. Nontheist (45%)
    18. Jainism (44%)
    19. Orthodox Quaker (41%)

    That is truly amazing and I am putting that link on my blog.

    Yippee – I’m a 100% percent neo-pagan! I’ll have to figure out exactly what that means, but now I have a label!!!

    You are all always in my heart and have become a permanent part of my soul. Seriously.

    JimShue – now I am crying for the 2nd time today!!! But if feels good to feel, so thanks!

  301. Actually, that once an abused child scales the walls of crap — the detritus left behind by the act — to actually take her/his power and take a stand in her/his own defense, that the statute of limitations comes into play seems an uncommonly calculated cruelty, one that’s long overdue to be overturned.

    Sher, I have to say that yesterday, I typed three times, and erased three times, “why do you return to the executioner’s? [/firing squad/noose] A wimp is the last category anyone would put you in, and I do understand your reasoning much more now (as if it’s for me to understand), but your story haunted me all day yesterday and today, and what was it that was front and center? The quotes around “remembers.” The casual mentions of your uncle which you’ve told your mother is like twisting the knife. Being there disables you, you’ve said as much. You’ve set boundaries as far as being in the same room with him, and it seems she’s abided by those boundaries, is it because you yelled and swore at her in a way where she could hit “replay?” Is there a similar unifying theme of what she does to make you feel like you are going to your death when you go to visit? Any chance you can leave it on her machine?

    I do admit, her behavior makes it seem that she was similarly abused as a child, and possibly by him (is this her brother?).

    Here’s a story: my stepfamily (which I am not close with, but my sister is, for reasons which will become clear) has this situation. Uncle Joe. Years ago, the night before my stepsister married, she had a breakdown in bed with her intended. She admitted for the first time that Uncle Joe had sexually abused her as a small child. Her fiance got her mother on the phone, and the next day, when I arrived, the vibe at Uncle Joe’s (where the wedding was to be held) was … unsettling, to understate. I arrived early in the day — flew in that morning — to the sight of my stepmother treating her formerly beloved brother-in-law with a peculiar coldness.

    I got the full story later that day, of course, and expected the fallout to be Joe moves out, never to be seen again. Instead, he is still there, twelve years later.

    This was also the day that found my stepmother sitting on my other stepsister, hollering at her because she’d just found out she was five months pregnant: “How are you going to support a child? You can hardly support yourself?” This was my stepsister’s wedding day. Thank God she had her girls there: a nationally successful soccer team in high school, they were still close enough that many came thousands of miles to be there.

    My pregnant stepsister — not the marrying one — eventually did decide to put her child up for adoption, and when my stepmother told my sister this, she said, well, if she’s going to be adopted, I want to adopt her, which statement was met with overwhelming joy and relief that she would have a relationship with her biological family. (You should have seen my niece’s face when she figured out that C. was her half-brother, not her cousin.)

    That Joe stayed has caused a permanent rift between my stepmother and her sister, but they still celebrate Christmas at her sister’s house, the one place big enough to accommodate all the kids, who look forward to all being together like they do…well, Christmas. My sister says Uncle Joe is never, never, alone with any child and is watched like a hawk when children are in the house. I hate that — and don’t understand why — he’s still there.
    It completely escapes me how the family has not shunned him completely.

    I am as flummoxed by a family who does not exise entirely an uncle who has actually done time for similar crimes.

  302. Let me also say that Haven, your disclosures about your childhood abuser turned my stomach. Yours is one of the clearest examples I’ve ever seen of “the best revenge is living well.”

  303. I’m with you, Carrie…I’ve been edgy all day since reading about this abuse and deep meanness. Grrrrrrrr

  304. The Belief O Matic Rocks!!
    My top two were Unitarian Universalist and Liberal Quaker. I am sending the link to this test to friends and family, too..should be fun, eh?

  305. It’s getting under my skin too. And the thing I keep coming back to…the people I love the most have had to endure some of the worst torment. I don’t know if it is true that if the things that don’t kill you make you stronger and that as someone weak I am attracted to the strong or what. I am just grateful that the people I am thinking of were able to rise above in such a glorious way.

    That includes Haven, Sher, POS, and every person on here who has been a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. You all have my intense love and admiration.

  306. Reading of these abuses leaves me a little edgy….grrrr

    Took the Belief-O-Matic thing: Here’s my score:
    . Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
    2. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
    3. Hinduism (97%)
    4. Mahayana Buddhism (92%)
    5. Neo-Pagan (90%)
    6. New Age (89%)
    7. Liberal Quakers (87%)
    8. Theravada Buddhism (80%)
    9. Orthodox Quaker (75%)
    10. New Thought (74%)

    (I already knew that!!!!!)

  307. Grrrr….

  308. Here’ what my Belief-O-Matic Scores are:

    1. Liberal Quakers (100%)
    2. Neo-Pagan (100%)
    3. Unitarian Universalism (96%)
    4. Reform Judaism (95%)
    5. Hinduism (91%)
    6. Bahá’í Faith (84%)
    7. Orthodox Judaism (82%)
    8. New Age (81%)
    9. Jainism (80%)
    10. Sikhism (79%)
    11. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (78%)

    I included the last one since that is what I normally would have aligned myself with.

  309. I thought my stuff would tilt a little to the East; I have always felt a good religious fit with that.

    Have any of you ever had to list your religion for an official form?

    I did. Once.

    In 1991, during Opertation Desert Storm, I was in Saudi Arabia. When I registered for a room in Riyahd, the form asked me to list my religion. I wrote Church of Christ because I was going to a UCC at the time. I actually felt a little proud that when I was asked: What do you believe? I had an answer.

  310. Jim Shue, thank you for that link! I think I surprised myself:

    1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
    2. New Age (100%)
    3. Mahayana Buddhism (97%)
    4. Unitarian Universalism (91%)
    5. Theravada Buddhism (86%)
    6. Liberal Quakers (84%)
    7. Hinduism (78%)
    8. Taoism (78%)
    9. New Thought (70%)

    Was Neo-Pagan first up because of the reverence for nature question? I always thought of myself as straight-ahead New Thought, and absolutely a pantheist. Which I see there was no category for, so it must have been my imagination.

  311. And Kate: you certainly don’t scan as weak.

  312. Perhaps not weak. Just weaker than some.

  313. Here’s my Belief-o-Matic Score:

    1. Friends (92%)
    2. Dogs (90%)
    3. Springtime (89%)
    4. Warm Apple Crisp (82%)
    5. Sunshine (81%)
    6. Laughter (80%)
    7. All Animals (78%)
    8. Reading (76%)
    9. 400+ thread-count sheets on a king-size bed (54%)

  314. Hmm…that’s probably a bit more accurate!

  315. Thoughts:

    A casual stroll through a lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. ~ Nietzsche

    Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it, too? ~ Douglas Adams

    If you want a country run by religion, move to Iran.

    If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

    People who don’t like their beliefs laughed at shouldn’t have such funny beliefs.

    Too stupid to understand science? Try religion.

    It takes more than a chrome fish, pal.

  316. That quote from Douglas Adams just gets my goat. And the one about science and religion. I do get testy when all humans of faith are reduced that way.

    Although I agree about being outraged. Hello!

  317. Jody you crack me up.

    I’m 100% Liberal Quaker. Who knew?

  318. Jodi do not mind me, I’m just a cranky-bot.

  319. “out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field…I’ll meet you there.” rumi

  320. A very wise friend once told me that I have one of the highest emotional pain tolerances he has ever experienced.

    I hope you all know that I am MOSTLY a fun, happy person. I know that my honesty can be very disarming and disturbing and I am sorry if all this dredging of the underlying “shit” has really disturbed anybody.

    What really disturbs me (it takes a lot – note: that freaky movie American Crime – just KILLED me), is that these stories and horrors are very prevalent and if we weren’t all so open we would never know these bare facts about each other. Real life is raw. I’ve worked in rape crisis centers, and it was very draining. I’ve volunteered at Children’s Advocacy Centers and that is where my real heart lies – in letting those little beings know that: 1) it’s not thier fault, and 2) it is not OK.

    Because as awful as my experiences were (and I have shared a lot, but not everything or in specific detail, it is more like Lovely Bones minus the murder) the most damaging aspects were the threats to my family’s lives and the guilt and shame that was pounded into me from my church/religion (baptist) at the time.

    I think preachers should consider what comes out of their mouths and who might be listening and how it could affect them.

    Don’t tell a little raped girl that she is “trash if she isn’t a virgin” that “no man will want to marry a ruined girl” that “women caused the downfall of man” . . . it goes on and on.

    Physical wounds do heal over time.

    Here is a funny (not really) detail of how a 7 year-old doesn’t even KNOW exactly what rape is:

    When I was 12 my mom got me this book “almost 12”, I read it and she asked, “do you have any questions” – of course I said “NO!!” It was about sexual intercourse, wet dreams, and periods.

    But I actually was so confused by the information (it was very medical) that I thought I was pregnant and I remember punching my stomach very frequently and was relieved when I started my period soon after. Now, she (my mother) had no mother, and her giving me that book was a huge step forward and was probably very difficult for her to do . . . but I know to be more specific with my information and questions with my daughters.

    My hope is that I do better, and I think that is all we can do. With this information, just DO better. With your kids, with your friends, volunteer once in a while in a place that calls to your soul.

    I encounter so many souls that have experienced similar events (many of them have been men, which I think is a silent victim pool), most recently my personal trainer revealed that she can’t have children because of her sexual abuse. So, see, in a way – I AM THE LUCKY ONE.

  321. sUZanne – I LLOOOOVVVeeeeee Rumi!

  322. That link is fun and it came out as I would’ve expected. So far it seems pretty valid for everyone here, right?
    1. Secular Humanism (100%)
    2. Unitarian Universalism (95%)
    3. Liberal Quakers (91%)
    4. Theravada Buddhism (81%)
    5. Neo-Pagan (76%)
    6. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (72%)
    7. Taoism (71%)
    8. New Age (68%)
    9. Nontheist (67%)
    10. Mahayana Buddhism (63%)
    11. Orthodox Quaker (63%)
    12. Reform Judaism (55%)
    13. Jainism (53%)
    14. Baha’i Faith (49%)
    15. Scientology (49%)
    16. New Thought (45%)
    17. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (41%)
    18. Sikhism (36%)
    19. Hinduism (29%)
    20. Seventh Day Adventist (29%)
    21. Islam (25%)
    22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (25%)
    23. Orthodox Judaism (25%)
    24. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (23%)
    25. Eastern Orthodox (14%)
    26. Roman Catholic (14%)
    27. Jehovah’s Witness (12%)

    Like you Sher, I am basically a happy person. It feels really good to be back to the real me that I believe I was before all the crap happened. And I do feel like I am back to the basic Polly that I was before I was hurt by the crap others put upon me over the years. I can’t make it not have happened, but I’ve tried to utilize it to create a better life for myself and others rather than letting it defeat me, and as crazy as it may sound I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant I’d be in a different place today, because I really like who and where I am. However, it did take years of work to be able to say that or even get near thinking that way.

    A couple of weeks ago I did a blog interview with Howard Dully, who in his book My Lobotomy recounts the lobotomy which was forced on him at age 12. In part 2 we discuss the issues of forgiveness and abusers accepting responsibility, in case it would interest anyone. (You can follow the link back to part 1 if you like part 2 and want to read more. The intervirew kind of got heavier as it went along so part 2 relates more to our discussions here.) Hope you like it.

    Have a good night everyone.

  323. Polly –

    as crazy as it may sound I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant I’d be in a different place today, because I really like who and where I am

    I totally get this!!!

    I am looking forward to checking the suggested blog . . . off to attempt sleep, but will probably by pulled into Wally Lamb’s new book . . . I was ready to cry on pg. 3 . . . looks like a good one!

    good night . . . have better nights of sleep tonight . . . !

  324. Jim Shue –

    Thanks for the beliefnet link – that has been great fun and fabulous information for not just me, but lots of other people, too . . .

  325. Polly and Sher: yes, until this thread, you have always seemed to me to be pretty happy and grounded people. I hate the trauma that was done to you, to Haven, and probably a couple of others here who haven’t shared the stories. We are a tough, resilient people.

    Jodi: You own the definition of clever! Funny, my Belief-o-Matic didn’t have any of those categories.

    Well, since I scored 100 percent liberal Christian, guess I gotta turn in now and get ready to go to my Episcopalian church tomorrow and hear my gay minister and share some communion with the various same sex married couples and get some Baptism in Obamaphoria!

    You guys are the greatest…I marvel at how we created community here. Not just coast to coast, but overseas.


  326. I am reading histories of Peru, leavened with some old Updike short stories, and I have a really fascinating golf book called Match that I am nibbling on, too.

    Got a Bly poem, a Louis MacNeice poem, and an old standby, The Journey, by Mary Oliver…

  327. Carrie –

    I had always identified myself as a pantheist (since about 1997) . . . so I was a little surprised myself . . . here is what a found out about “official” definitions on-line:

    The vast majority of persons who can be identified as “pantheistic” are of the classical variety (such as Hindus, Sufis, Unitarians, neopagans, New Agers, Etc.), while most persons who self-identify as “pantheist” alone (rather than as members of another religion) are of the naturalistic variety. The division between the three strains of pantheism are not entirely clear in all situations, and remains a source of some controversy in pantheist circles

    So I think I am still a pantheist (one of my favorites and a major inspiration to me was the artist Caspar David Freidrich)
    that isn’t my favorite (I shift between Polar Sea and Reisenbergen), but is the most famous of his works, Wanderer.

    Enjoy! will try to go to bed this time!

  328. George – – – updike! yes!

  329. I am almost embarrassed to say this book by Updike is called Golf Dreams. He is a helluva golf writer. That stuff to me is like bedtime reading…pull out a golf book, down a couple of Advil, have a good drink of water and I am soon off to dreamland.

    I think I have read those stories a zillion times.


    Whatever it takes, right?

  330. The Wanderer is breathtaking — thanks so much for the link. I may have come up neopagan in the Belief-o-Matic, but I know there’s quite a bit of pantheism in the mix, primarily the naturalistic flavor.

    George, I am utterly and completely envious you are going to Peru for Thanksgiving. Will you bring us back Machu Picchu wallpaper? Will you golf while there?

    Off to bed with A Lion Among Men. Up at the library await John Elder Robison’s Asperger book and Men to Boys: the Making of Modern Immaturity (I blame the 60s mantra “don’t trust anyone over 30”!).

  331. Re: Belief-o-Matic

    Some of you came up as Mahayana Buddhistic. Did anybody come up as Hinayana Buddhist? Did anybody get BOTH, ’cause that would be REAL interesting.

  332. Is the Belief-o-Matic set to make everyone Quaker or is it just that Haven fans have Quaker leanings? I took the quiz and had a 100% match for Liberal Quaker. Although I attend a Catholic church, I only had a 23% match to Roman Catholicism. No surprise.

    I live in a VERY small town that was built up around the building of a canal when many Irish and Italian immigrants came to the area. My “church” choices are Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran. I don’t think there’s a Quaker meeting anywhere near by.

    My husband calls me a Catholic leftist, ala Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, whom I consider good company.

    I attend the Catholic church because it feels like my childhood. I also like the whole mystical Catholic tradition, which sounds startling like Buddhism. I also love the lectio divina tradition, which is my actual spiritual practice. I attend mass because I like the ceremony and I like to sing.

    Don’t give up on the Catholics – there are some funky ones out there! Like my pastor who was raised Baptist – the one with the two adopted Chinese sons.

    But my husband really likes the Quakers – he went to Earlham for two years. Maybe I’ll have to look for a Quaker meeting in the area. He describes himself as a pagan – which is a good description of him.

    Thanks for the link!

  333. Which tenents of each of the many faiths listed are considered pertinent to a person taking the Belief-o-Matic test? What, exactly, are the definitions of Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant, and Orthodox Judaism in this context? Looks more like the amazing Zoltar the Fortune Teller machine in the movie “Big” than anything … except much less clear.

  334. Umm … Did any of you turn out to be — in contrast to Liberal Quakers — Orthodox Quakers?

  335. Haven,

    Could you talk about Liberal and Orthodox Quakerism? What’s the difference?

  336. My belief-o-matic results:

    1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
    2. Reform Judaism (99%)
    3. Liberal Quakers (95%)
    4. Unitarian Universalism (90%)
    5. Sikhism (77%)
    6. Orthodox Quaker (71%)
    7. Orthodox Judaism (69%)
    8. Baha’i Faith (67%)
    9. Islam (64%)
    10. Neo-Pagan (61%)
    11. New Thought (61%)
    12. New Age (60%)
    13. Hinduism (57%)
    14. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (57%)
    15. Scientology (56%)
    16. Secular Humanism (54%)
    17. Seventh Day Adventist (54%)
    18. Mahayana Buddhism (53%)
    19. Theravada Buddhism (52%)
    20. Eastern Orthodox (50%)
    21. Jainism (50%)
    22. Roman Catholic (50%)
    23. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (50%)
    24. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (45%)
    25. Jehovah’s Witness (41%)
    26. Taoism (40%)
    27. Nontheist (31%)

    My #2 is reformed Judaism. #3 is Liberal Quaker.

    Interesting. Now, I am off to my liberal Presbyterian church.

  337. Jodi, nutbucket, there are no Orthodox Quakers. Oh, wait! We do keep kosher.

  338. Jodi, did you take the test? It does explain the tenets of each faith at the end, if you click on each one in your list. I love yours though.

  339. I liked the Belief-O-Matic. To me it aligned the religous offshoots up, then gave check marks (based on your answers) about the reasons behind the rituals (i.e., many religions have different practices for the same form of renewal/rebirth, or different practices for communion/transformation) . . . so then by your answers it just shows you the overlapping beliefs of each – there are many versions of pantheist so most of mine are in that category and there are many forms of Judeo-Christian as well.

    My daughter came up with both Buddism categories – that was interesting.

    Also many of the Jewish offshoots have tree of life traditions which complete aligns with my beliefs. I was so excited when my kids got a whole section in World History of Comparative Religions and their origins!!!! Yippee!!!!

    Regarding communion. I have actually made packaging for communion crackers that are:

    “Vegetarian” – I kid you not, but I don’t know where they are or if I have any images – I had a laptop crash on me one time (without backup) and I lost tons of my archival images.

  340. Has anybody else happened upon Carolyn Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit? She lines up the Hindu chakras with the Kabbalist tree of life and also the Catholic sacraments as all dealing with the same “energies” of God or the Spirit. I hope she can get Buddhism in there, too.

  341. Here’s a beautiful slide show of the night of the election, showing Obama and his family throughout the phenomenal evening. Hope you enjoy it.

  342. Maureen – I had Carolyn Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit – it is one of those lost books as I loaned it to a friend and it disappeared.

    That chart is exactly what I was referring to – it really opened my eyes to the similarities of religion and after that I was able to attend a few services without going into complete catatonia!

    I think it should be required of all religions to understand where they came from, how the relate to other religions . . . it would really help with the intolerance problems.

  343. polly – I loved that sideshow!!

  344. My Dove Dark Chocolate just told me I am “Strong and Beautiful.” Good to know.

  345. Kate Cake – I have a collection of Dove Chocolate sayings . . . keep them as I want to do an installation with them . . . unless you keep them, too – I have many of these projects kind of in collection phases . . . bottle caps, plastic toy capsules, nasty e-mails, photographs of people’s lifelines (take a shot and mail it to, it should be a photo of your POWER hand palm . . . if you are ambidexterous, shoot both hands and label left and right), dove chocolate bar “sayings”, fortune cookie strips, images from the 1960’s and 1970’s of children, some of these things I scan and return to the original owners . . . I keep a list of donators and they are exhibited in the catalogue, also prescription bottles (but I have about 1,000 saved up right now so I am good on those) . . . I will re-imburse shipping or BUY the vintage photos!

  346. Oh I will save them for you! I’ve been tossing them!

  347. george — the updike collection of short stories is ungodly great. i read it back to back; haven’t been able to write a word since. i’d rather read others.

  348. Carolyn Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit is brilliant. i highly recommend it on audio cassette…her voice is extraordinary. it got me through a very dark night of the soul.

  349. GIRL FROM THE GHETTO okay, i loveyou. also, you just tipped your hand when you said your mom is bipolar. my ex is bipolar. i love him as the father of my child, loved him for years, and so on. i see him clearly, and i wont dance his dance? but love? yes. and my son loves him unconditionally, which i support. he is very great in his own way, there’s a REASON i married him, in other words. i never intended to be a codependent wreck. unconditional love, in fact, is kind of where he and i ended up, after 15 years. our son was the bond. pablo has the magic healing arts at his boy fingertips. amazing.

    i recommend WICKED to everyone , as wellas SONOF A WITCH and his new one i am sure is magnificent. oddly enough, this is not an OT remark. what he writes, what he creates in the retelling of the Oz story> well, it fits in well with the whole religious, political, racist/sexist thread on this post. haven and i both worship at the shrine of gregory maguire.

    i always think there should be a REAL, RAW book about people who are connected to those with bipolar one. aint simple. and it’s confusing and it’s..well. you understand, dont you? my ex is now bottoming out and as much as i would like to grave dance, i cant. it’s a real disease. and it fans outward. and as the non-bipolar people, its our choice to cut them off entirely, to love them from a distance, or to try to him somehwree in the middle. he and i were both very relieved to see that — apparently — our son did not inherit the disease. fingers crossed, loveyou. you seem like such a strong, clear spirit. right on.

  350. Carolyn Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit got me through the dark night of my soul. brilliant, accessible, i recommend it on audio tape. her voice is healing.

  351. Maguire – I have read the first 3 and have them on audio as well – I love them and will get the new one when I am finished with my stack of MUST READS. I agree with Suzanne that it fulfills every sacred archetype and cultural /religious symbology . . . fabulous!

  352. SHER– email me at i’d love give you some artifacts! i’d be honored to contribute to your art ….and as a writer? i document EVERYTHING. oh it’s a curse.

    a recent relvelation of mine is this: i can easily see why no sane man will approach me, despite my cuteness. DUDES. he knows he runs a risk of being fashioned into literary product. he senses, with the keen sense of a buck in the hunters ground, that he is about to possibly, in some form, become part of an ongoing mixed media docudramacomedy with my name on its endpapers. (although the fact is, i change a lot and i leave out 99% of all the true crime. oh honey! the real gore is on the cutting room floor. my choice.)

    yes, indeedy. thanks to Google, there are no secrets, people. everything i’ve published or has been written about me, since i was born, is right there on Google. 1,224 hits. so, like, Match is dead to me. it’s all too much. i mean, imagine. i am quite certain this dooms me to a life of solitude, but you know, writing is what i do, writing is how i support my son and me, and that’s why i SO wish i were a painter. TOO LATE NOW. also, i am a horrible believer in the telling of truths. robert lowell – “why not just say the thing that happened?” i adored spaulding gray; he was a genius, i saw each of his shows, rapt.

    hang on to the people who love you, secrets and all.


  353. the collected poems of updike is the kind of anthology that really does convince one of a great collective creative genius and intelligence at work in the cosmos. and updike has their phone number. to me,, he speaks for the gods, both male and female. he is our homer.

  354. suzanne–no one with your general fabulosity will be alone forever unless that turns out to be what she wants.

    I can see the problem of which you speak, but somewhere out there lurks a man with enough character and chutzpah and courage to love you as you deserve. Keep collecting. You’ll find him.

  355. I totally agree with Jerri on that one, Suzanne.

  356. i LOVE permission to keep collecting.

    do you really think so?

    or is it just an irredeemable act of sado-masochism.

    shit, man. couple guys break your nose, you DO begin to be tempted with eating everything you want, letting yourself go all to shit, and just dropping out of the whole opposite-sex-event. TRULY.

  357. Hardly (irredeemable act or SM). The more you collect, the more likely you are to meet “the one,” I am convinced. Your collection will say, as one, “well, I am not Suzanne’s one, but perhaps Arthur, or Michael is more in her league,” (I know what Augusten said, but I think all of us believe only the most fabulous of men is deserving of you). “Perhaps a dinner party is in order, where they can, discreetly and without pressure, meet.” And there he will be. At your dinner table, offering to fix your garbage disposal.

    I understand the nose breaking cycle, I’ve had reconstructive more than once, but that bipolar thing? My father was, and so the men I chose were, also, it was before I understood that I couldn’t heal that wound, that it wasn’t anything I did or didn’t do. Now that the last one has been diagnosed and has apologized for any pain that it caused me, I’m willing to move on to someone considerably more balanced.

  358. my religion is that i don’t believe in the Belief O Meter. that is but one of its theological pillars.

  359. suzanne: My “Split” happened in 1994. I’m still single. I’ve turned down three marriage proposals because none of them were The One.

    If you ask me, the real irredeemable act of sado-masochism is settling, whether it’s giving up or accepting less than you deserve. Get a nose guard. Maybe believing should be another of your theological pillars.

    Carrie: I hope you find that balanced one. Soon. Good for you for working through all that.

  360. Who made all ya’all so smart??!

  361. You, and you, and you!

  362. I have so much respect for all of you who have overcome such horrific child-young adulthoods. Your strength is a testament to your innate goodness and gives me hope and reinforces my faith in my own ability to overcome the past. I am fortunate that I was not sexually abused, but…I am still dealing with a lot of, shall we say, accidental emotional abuse and the fallout from that.

    Via Amos, Haven told us we are all broken. Yes, yes, yes. But it’s also admitting that we’re broken that allows us to heal. I don’t know how I am going to pull myself up by my bootstraps, but I know that if others can do it–so can I. So, thank you to everyone on this blog who is helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  363. So, how’s about them Colts, huh? HUH? 33-27 over Houston. Not bad for a bunch of old guys.

  364. Jerri, it was like the fog cleared all at once, I made the connection, when my ex made that admission and apology. I think we’ve both benefited from the post mortem. I’d like to take all credit, but a lot is due to his generosity and continuing love.

    The men I meet these days are so much more grown, with so much more self-knowledge. I’m so with you on the SM of “settling.” I’m glad I waited. I do know he’s out there, and when I’ve made myself the equivalent of the person I want to be with, we’ll put ourselves in each other’s path. I do think it’s that simple.

  365. Couldn’t agree more, Carrie.

  366. Oi. To have that kind of faith in finding the one!! I thought I had my ‘one.’ We broke up in May after eight and half a years, and I still feel lost without him. When does that feeling stop?

    And how are you finding all these men to date? I look around and all I see are married or too young…

    Oh, Maureen–my dad is undiagnosed Aspie and I worked with an Aspie as a tutor for a year–a 3rd grader who beat the hell out of me on a daily basis when he’d melt down. So sad. I am glad that you are able to handle it. So many people can’t and just think the Aspie person is an asshole (as if it were that easy).

    Another great book to read is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. A TERRIFIC read.

  367. Er. The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

  368. is there really only one? or are there a few candidates that if you meet at the right time and in the right location, they are possible connections? but I am not a big believer of everybody having a soul mate . . . but I am all about loving and having mutual goals and dreams for this lifetime . . . I think just a few couples are real soul mates, otherwise I think it is life companions . . . er, just my opinion . . . I think soul mate implies that you have no personal free will – it is like, crap their they are – I have to be with them . . . how about choosing your soul mate/life companion?

    I’ll shut up now . . .

  369. I don’t believe in soul mates either. I believe that for mysterious reasons owing to chemistry, personality, emotional history, intellect and God knows what else we’re strongly drawn to certain people. Relationships that matter are just one hell of a lot of work. Even if there is a sort of fated divine matchmaking going on you’ll never know it until the two of you have spent years growing into that couple who will always stay together.

  370. I believe in soul mates…not in the idea that there is “one” person out there, but that fates can intervene depending on the path you have taken. The way my husband and I got together, and the things that transpired later, seemed to indicate that there was something greater than ourselves at work. So I consider him my “soul mate.” Not that only our two souls could ever fuse, but that they were led to for this time and this place. The rest of the story is ours to write, of course.

  371. Like Kate, I believe in soul mates but not that there is literally one in the world for us. “The One” is the one who presents himself/herself at a time when you are both ready and with whom you share vision and values.

    Lots of people could be The One, but once you find each other, there is only THAT one.

  372. Well said!

  373. ok – based on this updated definition of Soul Mates I am ready to line up to buy it – but I will pay with PayPal!!! I think I don’t like the label of soul mates, maybe it is too gooey for me! But the idea of a life partner – yep. The idea of reconnecting in other lives – yep. But then you might be the dog and he might the master, or the kid/child . . .

  374. Sher, keep your receipt too!

  375. jerri — YES. noseguards are required – and completely giving up is not an option until i’m in the ground and perhaps not even then. there are cycles to these things, i know this. LIGHTNINBUG? yall were together 8 years, it;s been five months. give yourself a break. the shit takes time. it’s 10000000000X worse if you had a baby together, so i hope you dint, otherwise we’re talking two year. BUT the mutterings about dating are a good sign…you’re starting to consider the other 50000000000 people in the world. sadly, the way to meet men, unless you’re a barfl or a prostitute or a fireperson, is through the internet. it’s hard/fun/crazy/weird/great/frustrating BUT it beats what’s in second place: no mixing w/ men at all, ever. no dates, no reasons to heartrace or get dressed up or make out. so. i say try that. you look a most appealing strumpet in your photo! xpo sfc

  376. “Man is free when he decides to be”


    ps to the heartbroken babies: substitute the word Woman, if necessary. i am with Voltaire, in the long run. but the breaking up process is…yes..a kind of death, and not a painless-dying-in-your-sleep varietal. but…to not grieve? to not feel loss? this would indicate that what you had was negligible, or that you are a feeling-avoider. so go on and wring the grief out and refresh your heart down the road a piece. RESISTING the grief is a time-killer. walk right into it. surprise it. take it like a hill in battle. face on, baby. then you’ll be on to the next love crossing.

  377. GEORGE i’ve got The Shack. what am i in for?

  378. Oh, Suzanne. You lovely, lovely woman. I wrote all about it on my blog (essay called hahaha “The Holy Light”). I think I’m going to have to do more writing. 🙂 No babies here, thank goodness. I don’t know what kind of broken I would be then. But damn damn damn that Holy Light of Laura’s. I will love it again later when it doesn’t hurt me so much.

    And buying a soulmate through paypal? FanTABULOUS. Sign me the hell up.

  379. Hrmph. Gonna have to go back to my old handle. This one doesn’t link you to my blog. You can try this if you are interested. 🙂

  380. But um, well, maybe ebay’s not the best place to buy stuff right now, considering Haven’s angst on the other thread…

  381. correction: soul mates or even regular people are not for sale on ebay.


  382. You have to go to Craig’s List for those. And I read where they’re helping to crack down on that.

  383. Dammit. I had high hopes too.

  384. jim: i had a phone interview (i used to call it Doing A Voice Check) w/ a man once who readily confessed that the women on were higher quality— but the women on craig’s list were easier. i thought well yea. it’s all about product placement and location,location,location. i mean, you cannot attempt to peddle your femInine wiles on the same FREE WEBsite that a man can buy a USED BALLPEAN HAMMER on. PLEASE.


  385. It can occasionally get laborious to set apart the valuable texas info from the poor.

  386. need friends my id,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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