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Many years ago, the Pilgrims came to this country to escape religious persecution.  It was so important to them, that the message was passed down through the generations.  By the time our founding fathers put our Constitution in place, they made it a point to say, in the laws of our land, that no one was to be discriminated against based on their religion.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the World Trade Centers were attacked by Extremists who were also Muslim.  I capitalize the word Extremists because not all Muslims feel the way about those of us in the West as this particular group of people do.  Also, we have Extremists living in our own country who happen to be Christian (Timothy McVeigh).  Yet, were they to build a church on the site of the Federal Building that he blew up, I do not think that anyone would have protested. (And perhaps they already have, I am not aware of what has happened in Oklahoma since that horrible day.)  However, because these particular Extremists claim to use their religion as a reason for the attacks, we are going to deny other Muslims their right to practice their religion; a full two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, I might add.  In addition, the Imam who wants to build this mosque is someone who has been trying to heal the rift between those of us in the West and Muslims who are not Extremists.

When I read that the construction workers would not work on the mosque, I knew the Extremists have won.  They have won the battle to turn the United States into a nation that is no better than the countries from which they come.  They have turned us into a country who is willing to now go against our very own Constitution, against one of the very reasons our country has been so successful, Freedom of Religion.  Really, the very reason that this country was founded.  This is a very sad day for the United States and I would personally like to apologize to every single soldier who have put their life on the line in defense of our Freedoms.  Apparently, a few Extremists have defeated you all.

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Well as I mentioned in my blog last week, my grandmother has been ill.  She passed this morning.  I have been going over this in my head all day.  What does this mean to me?  I’m still not sure.  I was with her on Saturday and she was not doing well so I know that she is at peace now and for this I am grateful.  I had visited her several times over the past month with my children and they were lovely visits and for that I am also grateful.  And I’m grateful for the chance to have this venue to reflect on what having her in my life meant to me. 

What I realize is that my son is more like me, than I even knew.  He tends to grab onto the bad things and remember them as opposed to remembering the good things.  I do not think I do that any longer, but upon reflecting on my grandmother, I think that I had that same tendency when I was younger.  I mostly remember my grandmother yelling at me, especially about getting out of the trees (we liked to climb them, a lot).  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were a lot of good times.  We used to sit for hours and work on puzzles.  We used to play cards, a lot.  My aunts, my mom and my great aunts would come over and we’d have huge card games.  They were very competitive too.  We’d bet pennies and these games were viscious.  No one wanted to lose their $2.  I looked forward to those nights.

The most fun I remember having with my family, the times I felt most loved, was during those card games.  Working on puzzles taught me patience.  Being yelled at to get out of trees made me realize that whatever a lady was, it was not something that I wanted to be!   These were all important lessons.  I guess the most important lesson, though, was the lesson it taught about women needing other women.  I always came out of those card games feeling validated, knowing that if there was no where else in the world I belonged, I belonged there.   I was a member of the women’s club.  Thank you grandmom for welcoming me there, I’ll miss you.

I’ve had some very interesting experiences while at college.  Being in my 40’s in college is so great because I really appreciate all of the knowledge that I am receiving.  It still amazes me, being in classes with older, non-traditional students, how many people are just there to “get the piece of paper.”  Most of those pieces of paper are worthless as the person receiving them has made no real effort to expand their sphere of knowledge while in attendance. 

In my sociology class last night we were discussing women and religion and whether religion was anti-feminist.  It became obvious to me, very quickly, that no one in the class had any knowledge about anything outside their own sphere.  In other words, the Catholics knew nothing outside of Catholicism, the few Jewish people didn’t know much outside of Judaism, etc.  The professor asked questions about religions specifically, if we knew of any religions that were more “women friendly” etc.  The subject of Atheism came up and the opinion that people in the class had of Atheists obviously came from a place of ignorance.  I had no choice but to come out of the closet.  I discussed how I was an Atheist and how I knew many who were Atheist.  None of them were Atheist because they “wanted to do their own thing” and “not be bothered by rules,” rather they became Atheists after much thought and scholarly inquiry.  Also, all of the Atheists that I know are very liberal and strongly believe in equal rights/opportunities/justice for all and work to make it happen.  Speaking only for myself, I try to follow the Golden Rule as best I can because it’s the right thing to do, not because I am afraid of future consequences.  If the class had been quiet before, you could now hear a pin drop. 

I had several people in the class remark to me afterward “How do you know so much?”  It’s simple – I read.  I read a lot.  My husband reads a lot and then we talk, a lot.  You get the idea.  And this isn’t the only example that I could give you.  This happens over and over and over again in my classes.  People do not attempt to educate themselves, they do not attempt to stay informed.  They trust someone else to tell them how to think.  I think that is sad and I think that it is a big reason that our country is falling apart.  So go ahead and blame it on the godless heathens if you must, but my money is that it’s more the fault of the mindless lemmings.

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