This was written by one of our UU ministers from Moscow, ID. I was lucky enough to meet her last year in Spokane. She is amazing & I consider myself lucky that I have been able to get to know her better since then.
It’s days like this where the impulsive part of my brain says, “Grab the children & move to Canada! . . . NOW!!!”
Then I read the following statement from our UUA President, Rev. Peter Morales, & I remember something that I watched during one of our Sunday morning worship services at last weekend’s General Assembly (which I will paste at the end:
For those who are just waking up…this morning the US Supreme Court ruled in favor (5 to 4) of Hobby Lobby. This Corporation now has the right, based on their “religious beliefs” to pick & choose which insurance benefits they offer their employees.
In this case, we’re talking birth control. The “Christian Right Conservatives” don’t want to pay for contraceptives, basically (although meds like Viagra are okay…don’t get me started…I’m just beginning to not see red anymore).
Many are viewing this as a women’s issue, but it’s a men’s issue, a family issue…an everybody issue!
Go with me for just a minute…I’m going to get personal.
In my family, my husband works his butt off working full time, overtime when he can, gets benefits for the family. I work part time, 1-2 half days a week in the office & the rest of the time I work from home, averaging 16-18 hours a week, our 3 yr old goes to a Pre-school/daycare when I’m in the office. We have 2 other kids who are in school full time. I get paid monthly & even though my hours are minimal, my hourly pay is good & my paychecks cover most of our rent (and are equal to close to half of my husband’s monthly net pay).
I have an IUD. According to the New York Times, “The cost of an IUD, one of the most effective forms of birth control, is considerable. It requires a visit to the doctor, and a procedure to have the device put in place. Medical exams, insertion, and follow-up visits can run upward of $1,000. Without insurance coverage, it’s likely that many women will be unable to use them.” Luckily, my husband’s insurance covered it, but if more companies start following suit who knows if my next one will be covered. (They need to be replaced every 5 years.) I will also say that this is the only reliable method of birth control that works for my husband & I. We don’t have to worry about forgetting, misusing, having reactions from my IUD. It just works.
Now lets say for a minute that my wonderful husband worked for Hobby Lobby. They could have refused to pay for our IUD. There would have been NO WAY we could have paid for it. I know that I can’t take birth control pills (as I react); without getting too personal diaphragms don’t work for me; condoms aren’t practical for many married couples & they can break or get holes & even when used correctly they’re only 98% effective…we would end up pregnant again, I wouldn’t be able to work, we’d be on food stamps after my income stopped paying most of our rent (which is a program we know that they’ve been speaking out against) then we definitely wouldn’t be able to afford to get my IUD, then more babies….endless poverty cycle.
I don’t know how “Christian” “Pro-Family” people can go out of their way to create hardship for families who are just trying to protect themselves against having children that they’re either not ready for or perhaps (like we are) done making their family, or like many, taking the medications for other things all together.
One other analogy I offer that I want you to think about before I wrap this up, only because I think it’s all too easy to say, “well, if they don’t want to cover a medication, what’s the big deal? It’s their company…” (Even though the employees cover a fair amount of their own premium costs…)
let’s flip the perspective for a minute. I posted this in response to someone’s facebook post this morning & it got some feedback so I’ll put it to you all as well: *you are christian & work for a lovely Muslim family-owned corporation. They decided that during Ramadan, since THEY fast from sun up to sun down as part of their Religious Beliefs, they would stop allowing food on the business properties from sun up to sun down, just during Ramadan. You are welcome to drive off site, eat something, & drive back during your 30 min lunch break but they won’t give you more time & this would only allow you a few minutes to eat & ends up costing you more $ in gas each week. You sue, but are surprised when you lose because you find out that your boss’s religious freedom is protected over you, just like the fore mentioned case.*
The average Rightwing Christian doesn’t usually like to be the minority & doesn’t like it when the religion-based law that they made a such a big deal over doesn’t only apply to them.
It’s time for me to share with you what I promised I would earlier. I will share the words first then post the link for the service itself. (You will find this at approximately 49:41) It is the Meditation before the Sermon (which is also amazing!).
This is Revs. Shana and Melora Lynngood, Co-ministers First Unitarian Church of Victoria, BC~Sunday, June 29th, 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Providence Rhode Island
“Please join us in a spirit of meditation and reflection… breathe in… breathe out… if you feel comfortable doing so, close your eyes… We have all done it— Especially those of us who like to think of ourselves as astute, intelligent, well-informed.
We criticize and judge—convinced that we know the right way.
And sometimes we ARE right—especially when our object of critique is an injustice, an unfair law or system.
We clench our fists—indignant, righteous. Take a moment to consider—In justice work—in life—what makes you clench your fists?… Sometimes, that response is justified; the clenched fists understandable, even appropriate.
But if we remain in that pose, our posture rigid, our approach set, convinced of our own superior view,
Then we miss the blessings…Steamroll right past the beatitudes.
To experience spiritual transformation—in justice-making and in life,
We have to un-clench our fists and open our hands.
Hands open, letting go of the need to be right, the urge to point the finger of critique
Hands open—signaling humility.
Hands open—receptive to the love that can guide us
Hands open—ready to serve.
Hands open to grasp hands of others, joining across differences, finding there meaningful connection
Hands open, like a toddler stumbling with arms akimbo, awkward, but poised to explore and experience new possibilities, new insights, new growth.
Take a moment to consider—if you were to open your hands, step into a more embracing stance than is usual for you, what blessings might you receive?
May our hands—open to the spirit—give life the shape of justice.”
No matter how frustrated you may be, regardless of pride, nor anger–may you find your inner peace & wisdom & be able to lower your fist & open your hands & accept the gifts that come.
Learn from this day. Get out there & make a better day for our children.
Don’t be afraid to be loud when it matters.
Even from over 1000 miles away, I’m included.
Right now, our Unitarian Universalist General Assembly 2014 is happening. I cannot be there this year (& I’m super bummed about). I was able to get an app on my phone where I can get the schedule of events, pics of everything happening, & posts from people there. I am subscribed to a few UU minister’s blog sites who are blogging about their time there; some are opinion pieces & some are updates on their experiences of what’s happening to update their congregants who couldn’t attend. Many UU churches & members are posting things from GA on facebook & twitter & other social networking sites as well!
Also, the UUA keeps the world all included via uua.org. You can watch a live feed of the worship services and select other events over the assembly week. When there isn’t a live feed you can watch awesome videos like this one or highlights from last year’s GA. I am bummed that I can’t be present, but they have done everything they can to make sure that we’re all included.
I’m so excited due to watching this week’s events (through all of this inclusion) that nothing could keep me from attending next year’s GA in Portland! Luckily, I plan a Seattle trip every summer to visit my family anyway & there’s a good chance that I could find a friend in Portland to stay with so my expenses would be much less then a Rhode Island trip…
Whatever happens next year…I am so lucky to have found the UU church. (Thank you Aigner!) There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
This is one of those stories that make you feel good about where you are, where ever that is. You can look at yourself, at your life, and say, “yes. This is good. I can do good. For her…for him…for my church…for the food bank… for that man with the sign…for the local shelter…for a local family in need…” whatever the situation, someone needs something that you are capable of giving, even if its only a smile or a hug.
Please read and share.
My receptionist Ericka was in tears. The caller had said some pretty mean things, and she’s sensitive to what people say to her. She thrust the phone towards me, and pleaded for me to deal with it, “She doesn’t understand we don’t have any appointments available and, anyway, we’ll be closed in 45 minutes.” Some lady’s dog hadn’t “eated” in 4 days, and so she thinks she’s really pretty sick, and what was I gonna do about it? On such a hectic afternoon, I was glad to take the load off the front desk, and proceeded with the best defense being a good offense. “So he hasn’t eaten in 4 days? Wow, you rushed right in! What makes you think it’s serious now” The colloquialism of her words and accents made it difficult to understand, even for a small town Missoura hick like myself, but I did make out something…
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There are so many things happening right now! Martin Luther King Jr. Day was yesterday. There are many wonderful organizations that have decided to use his legacy to remind us to be a better, kinder, more tolerant, more just, & loving society.
I love GLSEN! They do SO much for gay & lesbian youth. This week, they are promoting “No Name-Calling Week.” http://www.glsen.org/nonamecallingweek . It is an effort to help stop bullying, primarily in schools.
Let me talk about bullying for just a minute. I am not a fan of bullying, but many of the zero tolerance, anti-bullying campaigns have been backfiring the past couple of years. (Remember what happened with the DARE program of our era?) If you put an all encompassing umbrella over bullying, give it a lot of publicity, & then make a zero tolerance policy….you draw attention, sometimes to things that kids weren’t even thinking of & you sometimes give existing & potential bullies ideas.
The zero tolerance policy means that your own policy forces you to punish kids for behavior that doesn’t warrant the punishment simply because if you don’t, you’re not following policy. I don’t think that it’s okay to allow children to be mean to each other. I do think though that, depending on the situation, there is a certain amount of age appropriate push & pull that goes on between kids & youth. That is not the same as being mean, but with these “zero tolerance” bullying rules that schools are making, it doesn’t allow for normal behavior. We can’t expect everyone to always act “just so,” a little push in line, not wanting to sit next to the stinky kid, not wanting the kid who is really bad at math on your team during a math drill DOESN’T make you a bully! It makes you a normal, age appropriate kid. Should the teacher tell you that you get what you get? YES. Should the lunch lady yell out, “No pushing in line!” from behind the counter? YES. Should someone remind your kid that it’s not nice to call that kid “stinky”? ABSOLUTELY, should that same someone call the stinky kid’s parent’s & investigate why he’s so stinky ABSOLUTELY.
I think focusing on one aspect of bullying, like GLSEN’s No Name-Calling Week. is a nice way to handling it. You aren’t teaching these kids a new behavior. Kids have known how to name call since they were 2 years old! Focusing instead on how that behavior effects people, what that feels like (even for adults), instead of talking about bullying as if it’s 1 act, 1 punishment…that’s something I can get behind.
Many UU’s around the world are jumping on board with Standing on the Side of Love’s “30 Days of Love” campaign.
Day 1 was Saturday, January 18th. I cut & pasted below what it says on their site for week 1:
“Week One: Living the Dream
Sunday, Jan. 19: Suggested worship service themes include honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and recommitting to racial justice work.
What to Expect: Kick off the week with MLK Day and set aside time for congregational self-examination and reflection. Look for resources on furthering your racial justice work.”
I think I can do both of these campaigns easily together! Living in small town Montana, you’d be surprised how many racial slurs, comments, & names one still hears (especially when people are talking politics, it seems).
I vow, to do my part to not only not “name call” (which is a rule in my home anyway, one that I only seem to break when speaking of myself…), but to be verbal when I hear others. That takes care of GLSEN. For my UU contribution this week, I’m going to concentrate my ears on those racial slurs, jokes, & “name calls” that I hear when I’m out & about. I am a small woman & usually when I hear these things it is a group of men speaking (although not always) & my habit has been to give a look, much like a disappointed mother or school teacher would give a disobedient child.
I vow to use my voice this week. I will speak on behalf of my children (& others’ children) who don’t deserve to hear it. I’ll be honest, we are a mostly white community, but that is no excuse to allow the racially ignorant folks in our community to feel like they run it.
This is my commitment to my faith community, my family, GLSEN, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, & most importantly…to myself.