Tag Archives: human rights

Book review: _Sarah’s Key_

Since I was sick in bed yesterday I finally finish reading the novel _Sarah’s Key_ on my NOOK .

As a whole, I am fairly impressed with the novel. Th author clearly did her research on the topic, until I read this novel I knew pretty much next to nothing on the arrest of French Jews during the Holocaust. Naturally I knew that Jews were not persecuted in *only* Germany & Russia, but this was the first time I had read anything of the arrest & deportation of French Jews.

This is not an easy novel to read. The author describes in detail the horrors experienced by a young Jewish French girl.

As a Christian with Jewish heritage { my Mom is Jewish so by Jewish tradition I am Jewish & VERY PROUD of my heritage} I hope that people ho might not otherwise know much abouy the horrorsof the Holocaust might glensomething from this novel. hae noticed, specialy here in he Deep Souh where I live, that many people do not understnd than anti-Semitism & holocaust-denying that *still* exists even now.

The story is told from the viewpoint of young Sarah and it alternates with a sub-plot of the French-American journalist who researched & wrote about the deportation of French Jews in the summer of 1942. My only complaint about the book is that the author makes the story more & more about the journalist’s family issues the further the story moves along. the last two or three chapters focused almost exclusively on Julia’s{ the journalist} marital problems more so that on Sarah’s story.

In my opinion, the author could have skipped some of the marital drama, even if doing s would have shortened the novel. When I finished with the novel, I did a Google search on French victims of the Holocaust. Any book that teaches me something important is always worth reading, but I must admit that the predictable ending of this novel disappointed me.

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Proud to be an American!

Today is officially Memorial day, 2011. Thanks to ALL service people & veterans who served this great nation. Freedom isn’t free, so I am grateful for the sacrifice of so many military members & their families to ensure our freedom.

I love my country. As a matter of fact, it is * because* of this love for my country that I wish to offer her constructive criticism. I love my country so much that I want to see life improve for her citizens…as well as improve her image worldwide.

In his homily yesterday, my priest reminded us that “to love” is an action verb. In my view, patriotism is not about passive flag-waving, but a call to make the United States an even better nation & society. Because I love my country, I work to promote environmental responsibility. It is because of my gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of our military that I work & wish for positive change for my nation & ALL her people.

Since I’ve lived in Northwest Florida I’ve encountered a strange phenomenon that ” patriotism” means never fact-checking & acceptance of life as it always as been for a society dominated by straight, Caucasian men. Yes, in this nation even in the 21st century there is an undertow of very negative ISMs such as racism, heterosexism,ageism, ect.Possessing pride in one’s nation should not mean that one must turn aside regarding the civil rights that some citizens of our nation do not enjoy.

I have had my patriotism questioned when I point out such facts that American consume most of the world’s natural resources. Lisa Bloom says in her book _Think_ ” I don’t know what patriotism has to do with fact-checking.” Amen, Lisa, amen. Fact-checking is not unpatriotic & neither is being of the opinion that this great nation of ours can be even better than it is now. While I am a proud American, I also am a realist.

Why is realism ” unpatriotic”, pray tell? Dictatorships restrict the flow of ideas & I grew up believing that to challenge the status quo of * any* establishment is par for a healthy individual & societal mindset.

God Bless the USA.

Shameless book plug

Lisa Bloom rocks!

I am shamelessly using this blog to plug a book that currently has me enthralled. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I value intelligence, so when Ms Lisa Bloom, feminist & legal eagle extraordinaire, released her first book I got my pre-ordered copy. So far I’ve read the introduction to her book and the first part. In the Introduction Ms Bloom gives props to her parents for raising her to THINK for herself.

The first “main” section of the book outlines the problem of how Americans{ especially girls & women} have fallen for several socially-constructed traps that are unhealthy both for individuals and society as a whole.

She talks about how the mainstream media { of which she is a part} caters to society’s insatiable hunger for celebrity ” news” & how news execs chase ratings by sacrificing hard news. Apparently hard news doesn’t sell and this fact baffles me. After all , I did not study journalism just to follow the latest Brangelina ” baby bump watch” or capitalize on the Pretty Missing White Girl Abduction du jour. She pointed out an interesting yet sad fact….almost never do we hear coverage of stories of missing children of color or even boys. It seems like society only values the safe return of Pretty Missing White Girls. This is sad….ANY missing child deserves to be found. Ms Bloom also points out that children go missing all over the world..but do we hear about these kids? We do not.

She also discusses how much money , time & heartache American women waste yearly on ” beauty ” products. I’ve always been a minimalist regarding face makeup & I hate pedicures passionately. Paying a stranger to touch my feet? EW. No thanks. However, one little luxury that I do enjoy periodically is getting my hair colored by a professional…but my appointments for that service are quarterly. I’ve learned the hard way that drugstore hair coloring products * are* inferior to beautician-grade products.

Great book so far.

Prayer List

I am posting a list of prayer concerns, as this has been an active & rather sad news cycle. Wow…I spend a total day away from my computer & return home to a laundry list of bad news through which to sift. :O(

~The earthquake & tsunami that started in Japan & made its way across the ocean.
~ Aid workers who ar in that region. May God keep them safe.
~Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: may she continue to recover.
~ The prayer needs of my parishioners.
~ Prayers for the lawmakers in states where bargaining rights for teachers & other public workers are in jeopardy.
~ The poor in all nations, but especially here in the United States.

I am sure I’ve left some concerns off of my list for now, but God knows whats in our hearts even when we can’t pray the words.

Kyrie Elesion.

Why hate public school teachers?

When I woke this morning & saw on the news that Wisconsin’s Assembly has voted to restrict unions of public workers my heart sank.

{For the record, I blame BOTH major political parties in power for the mess that is the American political scene.}

I have many friends who are teachers & school-related employees & I also worked in the public education sector here in Florida.

It is scary. My fear is that the Congress & state governments will slowly remove the remaining middle class if every state follows Wisconsin’s precedent. I’ve learned from my friends who teach on Ohio face a similar bill in their State House & Senate. :O(

Do politicians not realize that education is key to making productive { and tax-paying!} citizens from our young people? Teachers work harder than any profession out there today & deserve the right to negotiate for fair compensation for their work. In order to keep up with other developed nations, we need an educated future work force. And teachers & other school personnel are the key ingredients to successful public schools.

Not everyone can afford to send their children to private or parochial schools & as a former school district employee I firmly believe that EVERY child deserves a good education. I’m pretty sure that the children of our state & local politicians are able to afford to send THEIR children to the finest private schools in their respective states. Good for them, but should not public school children receive the best education that tax money can buy? Trimming the education budget by eliminating unions for teachers is not the solution to balancing state budgets.

Journaling…One Year of POSITIVE

I have decided that 2011 is The Year of The Journal. :O) A school friend with whom I reconnected on FaceBook came up with the idea of keeping a daily log of life with the focus on the positive.

Wow…I have not faithfully kept a ” pen & paper” journal since middle school{ and trust me, there were few positive entries in my journals from those years!}

The idea is to remember to communicate one’s blessings each day. naturally I’m a bit late with purchasing my journal, but now that I have one & am on day Four this project is starting to be a good way for me to spend time contemplating{ and yes, praying} about how blessed I am. My life is far from perfect, but I’ve discovered that contentment is all about attitude.

For instance: today we honor the legacy & life of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. I may be Caucasian, middle-class, straight & educated but that does not mean that I should ignore the plight of the poor & oppressed. Dr King’s ” dream” is much, much closer to becoming a total reality but there is much to be done yet. It is still socially acceptable for people to discriminate against GLBT persons & there are so many working families who must choose between keeping shelter for themselves & loved ones or buying groceries.

I don’t have all the answers & am pretty sure that the Congress won’t solve this problem now, either. But I do believe that all can benefit from showing lovingkindness towards those who are different from we.

Women still are discriminated against in this country by some people & in other parts of the world girls & women are routinely subjected to horrors about which I am not elaborating. One of the most riveting{ and sad} books I’d read in 2010 is _Half The Sky_ This was * not* an easy read but one that has altered how I see my place in the world as an American woman. It is an amazing book, but not one for the squeamish.

I am blessed with so much & I admit that I take no notice of how fortunate I am on many days. This journal project is slowly helping me realize that I am rich.

Quotable Quote & Advent thoughts

I came across a GREAT quote this morning { because I woke insanely early & had time to proverbial ” kill” } when I was reading more from my copy of Bishop Katharine’s new book.

The quote, uttered by Martin Luther King, Jr from a letter written from a Birmingham, Alabama jail, goes like this:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Injustice is not only about racial injustice, but can be found whenever one or more groups of people try to marginalize a group{ or groups} they deem ” unworthy”.

The human family needs to take care of one another. And no, I’m not meaning that the government should be responsible for meeting ALL our needs, but that the system should be so that there is enough for everyone without ANYONE feeling jilted. Government cannot & never will replace the decency of people who care about other people.

Every Advent, my parish erects an Angel Tree in the narthex. Parishioners & friends are encouraged to take one of the slips of paper that contains a childs first name , age & Christmas wish list. these gifts are then brought back & distributed with the food packages by the local Caring & Sharing of South Santa Rosa County { Google it!} I’ve participated in Caring & Sharing for several years & every year the generosity of folks such as my parishioners astounds me. My favorite Saturday during Advent is when I go to the distribution site & help other volunteers pack boxes of food, toys & other items that the Caring & Sharing organization has collected for families in need.

Injustice & prejudice affects us all…and perhaps it is those who feel a need to make themselves & their demographic group seem superior to a group or groups other than their own. I feel sorry for those who se minds & hearts are so closed that they are willing to sit idle while injustice against groups of people occur around the world . The fight against injustice can & should start here in our own nation. The effects of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area exposed some ugly injustices right here ” in our own backyard” that until that storm came ashore, were hidden well. Poverty exists in other parts of the globe but it also occurs here. Poverty & other forms of injustice do no stranger to many Americans, even within middle & upper-class towns & neighborhoods poverty exists.

I live in a beach community, & even here on the gorgeous Gulf Coast, there are many people in need.

Especially in the current economy, hard-working people are financially strapped. If the current economic situation isn’t affecting you on a personal level, I know that we all know those who have lost much during this recession.

++ Katharine says all the time that she envisions a world of * shalom” , a world where no one goes to sleep homeless and/or hungry, a society where individuals are judged pasted in their content of character & not skin color, religion, gender, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.

As people of faith, we are called to fight injustice in all its forms & each of us can do SOMETHING* to inch society closer to equality.

It is my hope & prayer that I live to see society grow closer to that grand vision of shalom.

Anglo-Catholic visits a UU

My friend & I went to a concert at the local UU congregation in Pensacola last evening. The music was excellent & I got to spend a uncluttred evening with one of my honorary sisters. Yay.

Anyone who knows me at all knows I am open-minded about faith, but this was unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed…and it was not even a worship service. Of course I picked up two of several pamphlets & brochures they had out in their narthex-ish area.

I am not being judgemental, so please don’t read me that way. I believe that all humans are spiritual beings & am grateful that Unitarian Universalism fills the God-shaped hole that is in every person.

Unitarian Universalists are , from what I’ve seen with the Pensacola congregation, a welcoming & genuinely friendly faith community. That being said: I am an Episcopalian of the Anglo-Catholic variety.

I’m curious about Unitarian Universalism but I must say that I * don’t* agree with the ” anything goes” spirituality that UU espouses. I also feel badly for their lack of ritual. When I picked up a Sunday service leaflet & scanned it for anything remotely familiar there was next to nothing recognizable. I didn’t see any evidence of any sacramental life , either. Yet I can totally see why some folks do dig the UU approach to spirituality: especially since it encompasses so much focus on ” Deeds not Creeds”. As an Anglican Catholic, creeds are important to me. But as a person who has a mind for ” doing what is right”, I know that creeds without deeds make for an empty faith life.

However, I can TOTALLY resonate with the Unitarian Universalists’ passion for social justice. One of the many reasons I am PROUD of our Episcopal Church is that, for the most part, we are a faith community of action.

In the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit…
Amen.

Not Your Grandmother’s Church

I came across this great ++KJS quote , and since I am still in the  50 Days with ++ KJS theme, I wanted to share with y’all.

She says: ” This is not your Grandmother’s church.”

Amen Amen.

Many Christians don’t like change. It scares them. But I, as a postmodern Christian with strong feminist leanings, DO embrace change. From what  leadership, both lay & ordained, in my generation  tell me, I am not alone in my thinking.

Christians should not be stagnant. The message of the Gospel is for everyone & its past time that we embrace the radical hospitality that Christ taught & start welcoming folks who are ” not like us”.

Our generation DOES embrace change . We  came of age in a time of great diversity. Many of us have dated or are married to someone from another race or faith background than the one in which we grew up. Many of us are totally comfortable with the reality that some people{ I’m told one in ten} are natutally homosexual.

This is a postmodern Church  existing in a postmodern world. And the only way that we Christians are gonna be true Christ-light bearers is to get out into the world & be willing to meet folks as they are & welcome them without reservation.

50 days with ++KJS Day 10

” God Bless The Whole World: No Exceptions”

Regarding the controversial Arizona immigration bill, ++ Katharine’s message for today is very apropos.

She says

” The Kingdom of God’s reign, or God’s commonwealth, has not got room for national chauvinism.”

I think Arizona’s new immigration law is WRONG! Now of course I am all about making sure  people get her legally & providing the means  for an easier path to citizenship. Yet at the same time, this law in Arizona is nothing more than an attempt to legalize racial profiling. That{ racial profiling} is totally wrong. I am fair-skinned with blue eyes  and if I am walking down a street in Arizona with a hot  dark-skinned man, will I need to worry that this companion{ however imaginary} might get thrown in jail or deported?

 News Flash, y’all: this law amounts to racial profiling!

This is the United States of America….a nation built on immigrants. I do not see how this law will help keep Arizona safer{ um safer from WHAT, exactly?} & fear that other states  may soon follow suit with similar laws.  Immigration reform is not about exclusion it is about finding ways to LEGALLY bring in new citizens to this great nation of ours.

Adolf Hitler tried this sort of thing back in Nazi Germany & more than 6 million people died horrid deaths as a result of  this sort of profiling.

Bishop Katharine says that  all of us have some identity with one or more ethnic or racial identities. But, as she said, Christ didn’t come , teach, die & be raised from the dead just for a certain group in first-century Palestine.  God came to us in human for  in order to redeem ALL of humanity. We Christians call this the Incarnation.  Christ didn’t just come to save a certain group in His homeland nor did He come to save white, middle & upper-class Americans.