Posts Tagged ‘history’

When Extreme Liberalism Finds the Touching Point of Extreme Conservatism in a Church Function

March 31, 2014

Hopping mad. Like the Easter Bunny had nothing on me. That was how I drove home last night in the pouring rain. I attended a book group meeting. I had not been for the past few months (for obvious reasons). We are reading Saving Jesus from the Church which I happen to like. Like as in I haven’t stopped reading it out of boredom or over reliance on dead German theologians. I left about ready to punch a wall. Preferably brick. Preferably hard.

Why? I was lectured on “white privilege” by a white, heterosexual male who is working on his PhD at a university that starts with H and has a yard you (can’t really) park your car in. Excuse me? If anything defines white privilege MORE than an Ivy (or Chicago or Stanford) degree, I’m a bit surprised. Somehow we wound up on the topic which basically brushed up against a personal example of shibboleth. And that is where the extreme left met the extreme right in the Christian realm. I mostly kept quiet: I’m in that state of having beliefs challenged and rethought. I’ve always questioned the dichotomy of heaven and hell and the idea of forgiveness then mix in my mom dying? I was pressed a bit. I said, I’m not out to question anybody’s religion. I’m Christian because I was born to Christians, raised in a fairly liberal church but if I was Jordanian, I’d probably be Muslim. Shrug.

It doesn’t bother me. I lost track of the conversation as it was veering to the point that my lack of interest became apparent to the host. It isn’t fair when the host is a law professor. She asked me what I was thinking. I said the words that REALLY aren’t welcome in a lot of gatherings. I’m not sure it really matters to me if Jesus was a real person or merely an archetype or a narrative of a movement. Silence. What? One person said but the gospels were only written something like thirty years after Jesus died. (Never mind life span, the fact they contradict each other and John I swear was written after drinking some wine). I said it didn’t bother me if Jesus was real: it’s the message. I don’t know about works versus deeds. Or predestination. Or the bazillion interpretations we have all seem to come up with when reading one part of a correspondence and how the structure of the church doesn’t have the entire sacred text read in a 3 year cycle. It doesn’t matter to me. I can very easily profess my faith without having to know that.

You would have thought I had traded David Ortiz.

The PhD in ethics want to be said something like “how can you not feel called to seek justice” (uh, I didn’t say I didn’t) and how can I be ok with not being bothered by religions that are not tolerant to women or LGBTQI people? I said, well, if that bothered me I couldn’t be a Christian.

You really would have thought I had traded David Ortiz to the Yankees.

I pointed out he was ordained Southern Baptist and they don’t allow the ordination of women, let alone non-heterosexual individuals. How could he stay in the church (apparently he’s working for change which since he works for on UCC church and attends the same UCC church I do, I’m NOT really sure how he’s going to change the SBC)? I said it wasn’t my place to call somebody out for being a member of a tradition I disagreed with: maybe that is my deep belief in The Constitution. I don’t care if somebody holds different beliefs than I do: I do care if they seek to harm another. But I’m not going to go up to an Amish person and criticize their beliefs as much as I’m not going to say to a Catholic friend how I don’t see how she can stay with her church to a Muslim friend, you know, your sister shouldn’t have to wear a head scarf. The wide swath of the middle of really almost any faith tradition is fine with me. Fringes cause the problems.
I know I’m cranky. But I don’t need a guy telling me I need to be offended because something oppresses women: I think I can navigate that one on my own. I don’t need to be told I should work for the tolerance of LGBTQI individuals (no, really, I LIKE being a second class citizen with the perks and all).

Madder than a rabid Easter Bunny? Yeah, that is where I was when I left. And I am still irked today: we don’t get anywhere by telling people WHAT to believe. We only get there when we work to removing barriers. And I don’t know of a tradition that call for oppression of people. But then again, I won’t have a degree from that side of the river.

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Dear Mr. Obama, Maybe You Should Look at Your Laws on LGBT Rights First.

December 7, 2011

A friend of mine posted The Presidential Memorandum — International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons that the White House released quietly yesterday.  In reading it, I could literally feel my eyes narrow and my anger build.  President Obama provided the following opening statements:

“That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

I had to read it several times: yes, the President of the United States stated “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love”.  President Obama is obviously heterosexual married: if he wasn’t he couldn’t even make that statement as a leader whose own federal government denies same-sex benefits to some Federal employees, denies Federal benefits of the US tax code to legally married gayl couples (since marriage is deemed a ‘state right’) and has done little to prevent the rampant state-legislation of DOMA.

Oh, wait, President Obama, ends his memo with this chilling note to the LGBT community:

“This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.”

The ultra cynical side of me sees this (and I know since it’s a policy memo it’s a legal necessity) as a check mark: look at all the good things I’ve done for LGBT people, I can’t do anything else ::shrug:: I’ve got the Congress from hell.

I’ve never been a fan of any American president proclaiming to the world how other nations should act.  But this is a slap in my face that banks on the fact that the Republicans can’t nominate an equally tolerable candidate (I’m not an Obama fan) and there isn’t a real third-party option.  This is another example of Obama’s ‘safe position’ on anything.  Here are some facts about LGBT rights/protections in the United States:

1) There are no antidiscrimination laws for LGBT individuals. While crimes can be charged as a ‘hate crime’ under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of the 111th Congress, it is only an ancillary charge.  I can be turned down for a job for being gay: the application may say “xxx company doesn not discriminate against xyz” but there is not a federal law that protects me  in seeking employment from not being hired simply because I am gay.

2) One state allows conjugal visits for same-sex couples if one is in prison. One.  There is a LGBT caveat that the relationship had to exist prior to incarceration (heterosexual couples don’t have this same limitation).

According to the White House’s website, “President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.”  But in the words of Elmer Fudd “Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits” (or Obama’s case, elephants).

Look, I get that Obama has done more for LGBT rights than any US president: the LGBT community to a great extent does a good job of forgetting Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law: the same DOMA that is now causing a myriad of legal protection issues.  I get that the economy should be the number one issue for President Obama.  What I don’t get, can’t get and probably never will is that the same man who has the gall to tell the world how to treat LGBT citizens in other sovereign nations will not make a public policy speech demanding those rights for his own citizens, extending same-sex benefits for *all* Federal employees and stating the basic premise of leadership: I cannot and will not ask another (in this case a nation) to do something that I, myself, am unwilling to do.

My vote isn’t tied to my sexual orientation: please don’t assume that it is Mr. Obama.  You are simply lucky that there isn’t a viable candidate from the other party.

A meal that tells your story

October 30, 2011

I watched Top ChefAll-Stars while the weird October Nor’easter blew through the Bay State last night.  One of the challenges that I loved from the All-Star season was the Ellis Island challenge.  Part of it is the romanticized myth of being a welcoming nation to immigrants personified (see Irish need not apply to realize that one is a creation of our communal, idealized national persona).  The challenge was to make a dish that represented your familial history in the United States.

Once, in grad school somebody was ultra snarkish to me and stated “that I was ‘new to the area and didn’t understand”’ whatever drama was being discussed.  I flung back I’m not a transplant, I’m a replant.  True, my dad’sfamily DID leave Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War for their reward of a chunk of Ohio but they are only half my family narrative.  I’ve always felt a somewhat complicated relationship with immigration/opportunity and the narrative that is woven by so many people.  Yes, my dad’s family has this wild and strange pedigree (a signer to the Declaration of Independence (see, it comes naturally!), the person who surrendered Ft. Sumter, a long line of Quaker farmers, a longer line of people who stand up for beliefs even if they are unpopular or can cost jobs.   In short, a family that probably was at the 1% at some time in the story of the nation (put it this way, my dad’s side of the family could always vote).  My grandmother received her MBA from The Ohio State University in an era when most men didn’t graduate from high school let alone college.  And yes, I qualify as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  I have the paperwork, somewhere.  My paternal grandfather’s family (in addition to giving me my weird name), collects PhDs. There are a few university buildings name after them; long tenures at Nebraska, Wyoming and Oregon.

My mom’s family is the other side of the American coin.  Little is known about her family history.  She was the first person in her family to graduate from college.  She worked full time at a grocery store while taking a full load of classes and graduated in 4 years with a double major: including student teaching.   My maternal grandmother was raised in the coal towns of rural Kentucky.  Her mother was (probably) illiterate.  Her father wandered away one day and never returned (he had been gassed during WW I).  She had a hard life: moving where the jobs were at the time, eventually ending up in Indiana where she and my grandfather were high school sweethearts. His was an equally difficult childhood: neither of my grandparents knew the world “play”.  My grandfather carried ice on his back during the depression as a child to support his mother and brother.  I know little about his side of the family.  Both of my maternal grandparents knew going to bed hungry as a child.

My maternal grandmother’s family has a colorful past: they were run out of Virginia into Kentucky over an issue of horse thievery.  The hazy legend of an Uncle Scarface released
from the penitentiary with several notches in his belt: the type that suggested he killed that many people. There is Cherokee blood in my mother’s side of the family (you can see it in the pictures of her grandmother, my sister).  One of my mother’s uncles and his wife had the most education of their generation: 8th and 6th grades.  They moved with the TVA and helped to construct the Hoover Dam.  My mother tells of her relatives struggling with Civil Rights: including one line from a family member “I know I’m not better than a black man, I just wasn’t raised that way”: a startling, truthful admission of an insanely complex issue (the man in question? Martin Luther King, Jr.). I bristle when individuals broad brush southerners as uneducated, racist or backwards.  That is part of my family: and really, it’s the more interesting side of my family, I mean, what kid doesn’t want an Uncle Scarface?

The two people I’d love to have dinner with together were both named Mary.  One, my dad’s mom, you always had to tell her what you learned.  When she died a few years ago, I realized that how I traveled was so influenced by her: what is new, what is different, what did you learn.  There is more to the world than the national boundaries.  She always hosted students studying at Ohio State from all over the world.  There is complexity and beauty in the world.

The other Mary was my mother’s great aunt by marriage.  She called every male Bud and every female Sis.  She was a tiny feisty woman who travelled her husband building dams all over this country.  She lost siblings and friends in the dangerous coal mines of eastern Kentucky. She turned cards (as in a fortuneteller) but stopped shortly after I was born: my mom says she thinks she saw her husband’s death. She also never stopped learning.  She always sought a variety of opinions on an issue.  She didn’t know a stranger.  She was a character: she attended
a very strict non-denominational church.  She didn’t like the “new” preacher but liked his father.  One Easter, she announced she’d heard enough of the son’s “fool preaching” and walked out.  In the middle of the sermon: she stood up, said she heard enough and we were leaving.  The town she lived in was dry.  We used to bring her a bottle of Jack Daniels every summer.  One year, we had to run an errand, she told my mother to speed through town so nobody could smell her breath (through rolled up windows). Everybody in the town knew that if times were hard, you could get a mealwith her: there wasn’t a lot, but there was always enough.

So I started thinking, if I had to make a meal to represent both of these women, both powerful driving forces in how I think, what would it be? First, I’d have to cook: both were horrific cooks.  I know there would be copious amounts of coffee.  The protein would have to be chicken.  Part of me thinks, that for the hodge-podge American mutt genealogy that I own, I’d want nothing more than a roasted chicken, root veggies and pie and a bit of Jack in that coffee.  And a really interesting conversation between two Marys who grew up vastly different, both would bristle at being called a feminist but both were amazing pioneers and never stopped learning.

Perhaps it’s just me and my weird and wonderful family history: I’m uncomfortable with broadbrushing any group.  My family has taught me better and both sides come from very different parts of the American story.

Until the day this won’t be news, thank you.

May 16, 2011

A few years ago, I was forced to ‘out’ myself in the workplace.  Another individual screamed that she wanted a “gay” day where she could do nothing but hang out with her gay friends.  Her screeching voice which carried quite a distance in a public setting left me more than a bit uncomfortable as she continued to netter on about how “the gays” were fabulous and she needed more “gay time”.  She continued to promote stereotypes, behaviors and other annoying myths that I came within inches of shouting at her.  Fortunately, the rarely working brain filter caught my words and I spoke my boss the next day.  My supervisor informed me this was acceptable in the work place because the screecher has gay friends.  I asked if it would be ok for me to publically demand a Jewish day because I liked their food and advice? (Also knowing full well the screecher was Jewish).  I was told that would be offensive.  I countered with my statement of “I’m gay, and I found her to be offensive.”  At which point, I was told “I needed to have a thicker skin.”  Let me be clear: this wasn’t a dream job, it was a (barely a paycheck) job.  While I really wasn’t looking for an “oh, I see your point, let me address this with her” type reaction, I certainly wasn’t looking for a “you have to be tougher”.  I wasn’t allowed to be offended by myth promoting (nor was I apparently allowed to promote myths, but that is a different blog).

When you first come out, and really before you do, every homophobic comment feels intentional, as if the person saying it knows your secret and is baiting you into a response.  Coming out generally isn’t celebrated.  Almost every gay person I know has a painful story of loss of somebody in his/her life who decided to alter or end a friendship, lost a job, were excluded from family functions (or given conditions for inclusion) and on and on.  Forming the words for the first time is a gut wrenching, life altering admission to self.  Sharing with others is painful at first.  A friend told me once that ‘being gay is exhausting.’ Meh.  I think being a human in the 21st century is exhausting (or maybe it’s just adulthood when I have a well documented preference for being a kid).  I will grant there is something about that extra layer, people who don’t know fall into a few categories: not sure how they will react, have power (ie, employer) over a person or really, it has never come up in conversation and for me anyway, it isn’t important to the relationship.

Over the weekend, I saw that the Phoenix Suns CEO announced he is gay.  Rick Welts discussed his intentions of announcing his sexual orientation with key executives, players and others before making his announcement.  ESPN reports that Welts met with David Stern the day before Kobe Byrant’s gay bashing tirade.  Quickly going through a list of owners, presidents and managers of men’s sports, I think Welts is the first to come out.  Today, NPR published an article with CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon and his decision to come out.  Lemon points out, rather accurately, that many consider this ‘career suicide’.  I hope not.  I also hope that he doesn’t become the ‘gay’ CNN anchor.

Rick Welts helped this weekend to break down the door for those who work in sports, at all levels be it an athlete or in the front office.  Don Lemon held open the door for those who are African-Americans or working in the news industry.  Sadly, this is still news.  But until the day it isn’t, thank you.  For showing others that you can be gay, you can be successful and you can be admired by your peers for the work you do.  It’s just a few more cracks in that other glass ceiling.

The wisdom of a 5 year old

May 15, 2011

I called my twin 5-year-old nieces this week to say “Happy Kindergarten Graduation” and see if they were excited about summer.  A bit of background, niece #3 all year has listed her favorite events of the kindergarten day as “lunch” and “recess” to the point that I found myself saying “aside from lunch and recess, what did you like about school today?” when talking to her.

me – to niece #3: “Are you glad to be finished with school?” (They ended on Thursday.)
niece #3: “I have to go back.”
me: “You do?” (thinking maybe they had ice storm make up days).
niece #3: “Yes, next year for first grade. You don’t just go to school for one year.”

I bit my cheeks to stop the laughter.  She was dead pan serious and not the least bit upset/disappointed that she had to go back again next year.  Yes, there is probably something to the fact that her brothers will be entering 10th and 8th grades in the fall, and her non-twin sister will be entering the 8th grade combined with the fact her mother is a teacher helped her make this correct assumption.

But what a metaphor.  Don’t stop learning.  Ever.  Be it from learning about social media, how to program the clock in the car or more in-depth: deciding to educate yourself from a variety of perspectives on an issue, a point in history (usually, there are 2 sides to most historical conflicts neither of which is the romanticized, mythological view-point that is generally passed off as history) or a pressing local issue.  Many people stop learning at the programming of the DVR (or other such tasks).

I remember trying to prepare how to answer my grandmother’s dreaded question of “what did you learn today?” as a tweener (nothing wasn’t an answer . . .).  Looking back, I see how a quest for knowledge, to constantly be learning something (from lousy tennis skills, to a  few knitting projects gone bad, to tossing a few pans from culinary experimentation gone terrifically wrong, to reading about WW II in the Pacific before the US involvement and more than a few nerd casts, I’m constantly learning) is instilled at an early age. Ok, granted my answer of how I know that lobsters mate for life did come from Phoebe on Friends and yes, I did defend my knowledge of this fact citing Phoebe, chances are I’m reading a few books on one topic, listening to nerdcasts on a second and watching some weird docudrama on a third.

But I still had a laugh on my by one of my 3 favorite protagonists; and found myself a bit jealous because in August, they all get shiny erasers, new pencils and skills to conquer.  It’s easy to stop learning except what is needed.  To quote Edmund Burke, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”: it is very hard to do nothing when one keeps on learning, year after year.  Even if you don’t get the shiny erasers and trapper keepers (do they even make trapper keepers anymore?) in the fall.

No Baby? No Problem!

April 2, 2011

Usually, it takes me until my first cup of coffee is finished to be completely offended. Today, it took exactly the length of time to read the following 2 paragraphs:

“Women are programmed to be caregivers and nurturers. Give my girls a couple of dolls, and one will be the mom the other will be the daughter, frequently disregarding the obvious gender of the doll. Before a woman becomes a mother, she will coo over her friend’s newborn; and in that lilting, high-pitched voice say, “Oh, I want one.”

 Give a boy child a couple of dolls, and they are liable to decapitate, dismember, or bury it. Prior to fatherhood, most men dread a baby. Responses I have heard include “It smells”, “It’s noisy”, and “Don’t hand it to me. I’ll drop it and break it.” Men are programmed with single-syllabic functions that run along the lines of “hunt, kill, eat, mate, sleep.”  Their responses are biologically simple.”

Seriously? I’d like to sweep the comments under the musings of an uneducated Neolithic person. Unfortunately, I attended college with the writer.  In full as much disclosure as I want over the internet, I will say I attended Hollins College (now university) which is a women’s university (ok, that sounds dumb, another reason I’m still against the name change) in Virginia.  Funnier yet? The last time I spoke with the writer, she was on this “empowered female” tirade. One more time: we do not get equality by belittlement. 

Normally, I’d smile and nod at something this horrifically stupid but I am SO OVER my “fulfillment” as a woman needing to include a child, that a man cannot be more pro-child than a woman, and this feckless idea that all women coo that I might just scream. Literally.

Let me be clear: I’ve NEVER wanted a child. I would not be a good parent, I don’t particularly care for the newborn of the species and I really only like kids once they are interactive. In a now infamous moment, I once tried to bribe my then 4 month old niece into taking a bottle by offering her a horse, a car and a college education: to quote my sister “only my sister would try to bribe an infant”.

The writer continues, “He [brother in law] devoted himself to them with the haphazard parenting that men excel at: half dangerous, half clueless, and frequently mitigated by my sister without him being aware of it. “ REALLY? Men cannot be responsible parents? Can only parent when subjugated to the manipulations of a woman and are too stupid to realize it?

I am simply stunned that in 2010, a woman stoops to such a level as to belittle men. I know gay male couples who joyously embrace parenting – or is that a façade? I know people of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, socio-economic status who do or do not want to parent. It has never been as simple as “It is because person X is a male/female”.  Nobody should be forced to parent when they do not want to: we know how to prevent pregnancy. A couple is as complete without a child by choice as one is who makes the choice to have a child. A child cannot complete a couple and to think so is dangerous. Marriages are hard enough before you add the strains of parenting. Having a child to “save” a marriage is as brilliant of an idea as well, mixing gasoline and a match. 

My 5 year old nephew asked for a baby sister for his birthday. But I suppose that shouldn’t count: his father is an amazing parent as is his uncle.   And neither of those two acts in a “half-clueless” manner; and neither are manipulated into parenting by their wives.  I wish the writer was so enlightened.

There are times after having fun with my nieces and nephews; I float the “what if” but it is quickly quashed: it is the remarkable co-parenting by my siblings and their spouses that gave me wonderfully inquisitive, interactive nieces and nephews.  I know I do not posses that skill set. I know that I do not want to parent. I was the girl that gave her sister the dolls and found a baseball instead. I am insulted – by extension – that there must be something wrong with me for not wanting a child.

 My only hope is that since the posting was on 4/1 it was an attempt to be a “funny” April Fool’s Day posting. But then again, if an idea of humor is by minimization of another, well, that is not funny either.

Bean Soup

March 27, 2011

Ah, Sunday: the day I throw things in the crock pot in hopes of making enough food to make it through the week.  My current obsession, mostly since it still is freezing, is soup. Somewhat simple to make, inexpensive and well, easy to re-heat (a key), I tossed a few this weeks version in the crock pot this morning before a day of hoops, job hunting and the other mundane tasks that have filled my life.

I opted a quick Google search on the history of bean soup (I mean, I know of the must always be served in the Senate thing) – a few interesting tidbits: Apparently, in 1565 the Spanish Explorers and the Timucua Indians gave thanks and broke bread together over a bowl of bean soup in St. Augustine, Fl.  There is a Bean Soup Festival (seriously) that started as an event for Civil War veterans in Bannerville, Pennsylvania.  Looking back (albeit via pretty shoddy research standards), the variations of bean soup are an indigenous creation to the Americas.  Who knew? I much prefer bean soup to turkey.

15 bean mix

15 bean mix

 

Here is my ultra-simplistic recipe:

One bag of 15 bean mix

16 oz baby carrots

28 oz crushed salt free tomatoes

28 oz water

Soak beans overnight.  Drain, rise.  In crock pot, add beans, baby carrots, tomatoes, stir in water. Cook on low for 10 hours.  Freezes well. I discard the seasoning package in the bag. It is over salted and the masks the natural flavor of the beans.

Yummy goodness!

February 5, 2011

So, I had one of those look in the refrigerator and see what you can eat nights. Most of the time, that results in an uninspired, unoriginal cheese and egg omelette. Today? A snap quick recipe of organic yumminess.

One container of Trader Joe’s pre-made polenta.

One bag of Trader Joe’s organic spinach (raw)

1lb of Italian Mild Sausage from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch

1lb of Raw Milk Cheddar from the Neighborly Farms

I spread the polenta out on the bottom of the pan, layered with cooked sausage, spinach next then the cheese.  Cooked for about an hour at 350.  Yummy goodness.  Even have leftovers.

Didn’t have to be McGyver to make it. . . and everything is organic.

Oh, and in the did you know this? Jean Lafitte was Jewish. I told Lafitte this….and decided we lived in an interfaith household. Good thing I bought him that Hanukkah stocking this year on clearance.

And the reading of The Constitution is a bad thing?

January 5, 2011

We the People. . . .

The new Congress is gaveling into session today. One of the first things they will do is start by reading The Constitution.  I’ve heard criticism about this idea: why? Reading The Constitution to open a session of Congress seems like an outstanding idea: it reminds the lawmakers why they are present.  The first 3 words start the charge: “We the People” not “those of us who are elected to serve” not “those of us who will act live divisive idiots” not “those of us who will bicker like toddlers” but “We the People: those elected to serve the people who sent us to govern.”

Read the document: there has been an insane amount of discussion about citizenship to individuals born in this country: to change that? 2/3 of both houses and 2/3 of all states would have to approve such a change. How do I know this? It’s in the document.  The reality? If we can get all 3 of those to agree on the fact the sun rises in the east, I’d be impressed.

The Constitution is the OLDEST governing document still in existence: it is a living, breathing document. Reading it, you are provided a snap shot of our evolution as a Republic: we have moved from an insane 3/5 voting, non-direct election of Senators, banning then allowing alcohol, granting everybody over the age of 18 the right to vote. In the under 250 years the document has been in existence, it has moved from an idea, a concept to one that when having heard it read, reminds people that when we work together, when we allow different areas to excel, when we keep a system of checks and balances in place, we can move forward.

It all begins with the idea of “We the People”. The people: it is our nation, it is our responsiblity to ask our leaders to uphold what we believe to be true. That we live in a nation that will secure our defense, protect our liberty and promote our welfare.  And if the Speaker of the House thinks reading this document is a good way to start the new session? Good on you. It’s about time somebody reminded Congress why they were created. And personally? I’d rather hear The Constitution read any day of the week than the insane bickering that’s been going on for the past four years.

College Sports

January 1, 2011

Penn State VB

So, another January 1st, another day of college football and the celebration of the bowl season, college athletics and the positive side of sports (I don’t want to get into all the violation craziness): the sheer joy of victories, the real tears of upsets.  2010 should be remembered in NCAA world for two historic markers: the UConn women’s improbable win streak ended at 90 in basketball,  and the Penn State women’s volleyball team had an over the top win streak of 109 ended then went on to win their 4th straight Division I volleyball national title.

There will always be debates about parity in women’s athletics versus men’s athletics, that it’s “harder” to win 30 games men’s hoops than women’s hoops but the reality? A 30 win basketball or volleyball season is to be celebrated: without debate of gender.

The young women playing high school and college sports today are the daughters of Title IX.  They didn’t grow up when young girls playing a sport was an anomaly. Drive through the suburbs of Chicago, Dallas, SF, Denver on a Saturday: just as many pig-tailed girls playing soccer, t-ball, basketball as boys.  When I signed up to play t-ball at 5, I was the first female to ever play for the park league in my medium-sized Chicago suburb.  The next year, my sister was the second.  My oldest niece plays 3 sports and is widely thought of to be the best athlete in her school.  She asked if she could play football, and was told yes.  She would have been the starting quarterback but alas, discovered that her other passion, cheerleading was FOR football (sigh).  She doesn’t know an era where young women cannot receive college scholarships for athletics or academics.

From Division III swimmers to Division I fencers, most play for the love of the sport, with little opportunity after college aside from rec leagues, teaching others and the lessons learned from playing a team sport, being part of a team in predominately individual event sports and the dedication and time management to be a student-athlete.  Like any other group, there are a few that break the rules but there are so many more that compete to compete.  And yes, it’s still fun to discover that a friend of yours holds the college record at your school 20 years later.

What makes the dominance of Penn State and UConn in their respective sports so amazing is that for the first time, there was a glare of a spotlight, there was expectations of “never loosing” and there were grown men and women as well as children watching.  For the first time, two sports showed the fulfillment of Title IX.  Their accomplishments were celebrated on ESPN, national media outlets and on their college campuses.  The “streak breakers” of Stanford (for both!) had a 4 year undefeated dual meet swimming record of its own back in the mid 90’s.

Sports and the lessons learned in competition carry over.  And as the Penn State campus celebrates its 4th straight volleyball title, and as UConn learns from its defeat by Stanford, the greater lesson should be learned.  Throwing, spiking and passing like a girl? It’s something to be celebrated.  Just as the bowl season is to be enjoyed: it takes commitment, dedication and a passion to play at the collegiate level.

Kick back and enjoy watching your favorite team and sport. But remember, these really are just kids playing for the love of a sport.  And somewhere, I am certian, John Wooden enjoyed watching the fall sports season.