Thursday, December 28, 2006

A new blog post

Well, Christmas was good. Long drive of course, there to Kansas and back to Iowa. But it was a good vacation...got to see some old friends from Grad school and hang out a lot with family. Was a little sad that I missed seeing other old friends, but I suppose it happens. So far, the only thing I have planned for New Year's is hanging out and working. I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving and New Year's to have Christmas off. Not that it's a big deal, but I will be ready for the holidays to be over so I can get back to a normal schedule at work. Am thinking a lot about New Year's Resolutions and what I should focus on. But that's basically all. Did I mention that I joined the ACLU? Nick and I also joined NetFlix and are having a blast picking movies out. So far, I can't wait to get this documentary on a girl in Texas who challenges the abstinence-only sex education at her school to fight the immensely high rates of pregnancy that occurs as a result of it. Looks interesting. I'm also reading a book about the history of experts advice for women, you know, like doctors who advised women who were menstruating not to swim or to get out of bed (in the 1800s) because menstruation was a "disease," that kind of thing. I've only just started, but it's been fascinating so far. Well, I guess that's all. Hope everyone had a merry christmas and has a happy new year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Life Update

Well, not too many things that are extremely exciting have happened in my life...but I did want to update since no one else has. My little baby cat Sophie has a stalker - our cat Leo is in love with her. Yesterday we found him trying to, ahem, show her how much he cares. He's been fixed, so technically he isn't a real man, but it was still disturbing, since Sophie is only three months old. We have a pedophile cat running around here, but Nick put the fear into him and he seems to have backed off and gone back to being her friend only! Some exciting news in my life: I am now a card-carrying member of the ACLU. I even have a fun decal sticker for my car. I was extremely excited to get my membership card today. Now, I feel like I'm not just mouthing off words that protect the Bill of Rights and those issues I find important, I am actually acting on them. Maybe once I have a more steady income and career I can even volunteer more than a few dollars and verbal support. I am going to get to see my sister and niece this week - I am quite excited, even if I haven't figured out what I want done to my hair. And, I get to be home for Christmas in two weeks. Soon, I will get to meet Sara and Brad's baby and hang out with some friends and in the summer I get to start taking classes to certify as a teacher. Today it feels like my life is on track. Just wanted to update all you guys and share my exciting news, my funny cat story, and my basic good feelings - oh, did I mention I also received a bunch of books I ordered too, so I have some great stuff to read! Life is great.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas

Well, it's getting to be Christmas. I have a lot to look forward to during this season and for the new year. New people to meet, new things to learn. I have heard much about the consumerism and commercialism of this time of year. I have never really felt that it IS a time of too much of it. Maybe materialism and perfectionism : kids want more toys than their parents can afford, women want jewelry, men want cars, whatever and everyone strives to make things perfect for their friends, family, coworkers, whoever. But whenever I think of Christmas, my memories are never of what I got - at least not the first, most precious ones. They're of decorating the tree, baking cookies, having school parties and programs, even going to church. Many are of family memories and traditions. And I think if you polled all the people you knew, they would have similar memories. And that's why I never think of Christmas as a consumerism based holiday, no matter what people argue. Yes, stores advertise and decorate way too early. Yes, kids want want want. Yes, credit card bills go up. But that's what stores do - people rarely start their Christmas shopping at the time the stores start their decorations - people will buy their presents early, or at the last minute, or when they can get that last paycheck, etc. I don't think people should start griping about Christmas being spoiled by too much commercialism/consumerism, because Christmas is what you make it. Agree not to buy presents if you think that it will harm your relationships with your family and friends - but I doubt that any of you think that the presents are what harms. It's the pressure to buy many presents, though not necessarily the best or most perfect present for that particular person. And if people who gripe about consumerism, and spoiling children, and encouraging selfishness and materialism would just think about that, than maybe credit card bills would go down and they could stop griping and have fun with it. I think that at one time of the year, however, it's fun to shop for the people you love, and find that present - and it doesn't even have to be shopping - volunteer some time if you don't have or want to spend money - give free babysitting services, or massages, or just movie watching time. Spoil the people in your life because, even if you should be treating them special everyday, that just isn't possible in the hectic lives that we all live. So use this opportunity of the Season of Love and Giving, to treat them special. To show them, I always care but sometimes I can't show it. Maybe I'm rambling and this makes more sense in my head, but I am so tired of reading and hearing about the bad things of Christmas: I don't like it cause it's so commercial now, people are so materialistic. They're only that way because they agree to act that way. Ignore the stores - who cares if they decorate early. Make some laughing comment and then celebrate your Fourth of July (hahaha). If you're religious, celebrate in those kind of ways (go to Mass more? Pray more? I don't know what do religious people do Kristi?) If you're not, celebrate this season as one where you can focus on giving of yourself, enjoying what others give you: presents or time, or love, or cookies, or whatever. And enjoy it as a family holiday if nothing else, something that pretty much forces you to look at your family in a different light, to spend time together. See, I'm an optimist and a Christmas lover. So stop bashing Christmas people!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Disappointment and Me

Well, on a sort of side note to my tribute to Sara - who is one of my closest friends - I have decided to branch out and talk about why I don't like to talk about personal things, private things, and yet at the same time, really wish that I would call my best friends, or sisters just to talk about everything and nothing, or about a problem I'm having.
I actually figured out that I have this problem with revealing personal, private things about myself to those I really care about - whether it's cause I'm upset with them for some reason, or something I've done or not done, etc. And this all came to a head during the time of my marriage and divorce with Adam. I am desperately afraid to disappoint my family and friends. Deep down, I think, I really believe that I am not worthy to be part of their family cause I'm different and weird, or their friend - that if I do something disappointing, or make a big mistake, then I will be dumped. I have no clue why this is. I am a little better now, because of Kay and Sara and others support during my divorce even though I didn't really tell them about my marriage. Because they supported me without knowing the details I believed that disappointing as my divorce was, they still loved me, cared about my happiness, and in general, was unconditional in giving that love and support.
In some cases, my hopes that I would be supported without question failed. In that regard, my feelings of disappointing them = getting dumped, kinda came true. So I ended up telling those people less, and less. I do not want to tell them much about my life, or Nick, or my decisions, for fear that they will not 1 - like my decisions and 2 - hate me for it. Case in point - I am very far from writing my thesis - I have research material, I have the ability, but after last year, and the stress, for some reason, my motivation and my ability to sit down and study and write have diminished. I know some of it is lack of confidence. That came from Adam and the subsequent events with him and my family. The other is my wavering. I want my master's degree, but I want it for me, not for anyone else, and therefore I resist doing it until I'm sure it's for me and not just because my dad thinks I should finish or he helped pay, or people think it will be a waste.
Lately, I feel that this is the way life is - you make decisions, people support or not, you live your life, etc. But my growth in this area is stunted because I care so much about what my family thinks, regardless of my happiness, ideas, or thoughts. I stayed engaged (despite my misgivings and even giving back the ring once and ending the engagement) because I didn't want to disappoint anyone, because we'd already planned so much, and because I wasn't sure that it wasn't just nerves - I didn't feel that I could go to anyone, describe what i was feeling and getting support for the decision I wanted to make - to end it, because I could imagine that they would say it was just jitters.
I tried to stay with Adam, with all the hurt, stress, and bad and good times that entailed. I will not go into details. There were good times, but they got cancelled out. When I made my decision, I tried to go to the people I cared about. But he had gone there first, knowing that I can't bear to disappoint them, knowing they were big factors in my decisions and my life. I could no longer trust that they were there for me. I heard more advice about staying - and all of the things said were those I'd said. And all of them were exactly what Adam had said they would say. I felt trapped.
If it hadn't been for some very good friends -Kay, Sara, Nick, Autumn, my sisters Judy and Jackie - I might be still in that place, in danger, unhappy, trapped, and hurt. They didn't care what Adam said, they wanted to listen to me, even though I could barely describe it. So thanks for that people!
BUT...I disappointed so many others and still feel guilty, even though my decision was the best one I could make. My ways to go about it were disappointing, but I feel that things would have been better if I had had some local, hands-on support. And on that note I will ask one favor of those who know me and have been a part of my life: any pictures you have of me as a child or teenager, with any of you, with my family, with my mom, of just my mom, or my dad, or my family, could you send me some copies. I ran for my life from Adam and he destroyed my keepsakes and the things I kept to make sure I could remember. So, that's my Christmas wish - to get some of it back. And if you would like to write to Adam and yell on my behalf...I'll give you the number or address :-)

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Tribute to Sara

The other day I talked to my friend Sara, who is due with my surrogate niece in January. I realized that she is going to be a mom. Yes, I realize that women who are pregnant become them, but it didn't really hit home until I talked to her. And so I wanted to post about how great a mom she is going to be. Not a mother - mothers are the people who are supposed to be revered automatically, no matter how great a person she is. Anyone can be a mother - just get a girl pregnant, wait 9 months and voila!
But a mom is different. A mom is the one you come to when you are hurt; a mom is someone who will give you memories (and don't get all bent out of shape dads, I'm just focusing on stuff moms do, not one stuff dads don't do, the same stuff I"m talking about applies to dads as well, not fathers - those are priests and in my opinion, anyone who wants his children to call him father is someone I picture as being a patriarchal, sexist, religiously overbearing person who also uses a belt for discipline - I am of course over generalizing and losing sight of my point) anyway, a mom.
A mom is someone who helps you make a fort with blankets in the living room, buys you your first bra, tells you honestly about periods (I'm focusing on girls as Sara is having a girl) and giggles with you about your first crush. She is also the one who loves you, even when you yell at her to stay out of your life - because now you're a teenager. The one who resents the curfew she feels you need, but understands when you need to break it - prom! A real mom is someone who totally disapproves of your decisions -to have sex maybe, before you're married - but she'll help you get birth control; a real mom is one who will be there for you when your first boyfriend and you break up - with cookie dough. She is one who will punish you when she needs to, and explains why. And I could go on, and on.
And Sara is going to be a great mom! She's going to be a great mom for a lot of the reasons that some people will say she's not - she's going to work to help provide for her family - she can't stay at home. And that makes her a good mom, because it shows that she can face reality, and work hard, and do the things that she has to do - and she's not injuring her family based on ideas of what family is "supposed to be." She's going to be a part of a real family, in real life, with all the problems and uniqueness that is wonderful in life. She's going to teach her kids about tolerance toward other people - homosexuals, pro-choice people (hey, Sara still loves me, and I hope, sorta understands me on this issue). She will give her child all the good things about religion - the good feeling that going to church can give, because it's steady, a tradition that provides good memories (I hope) for later, because you can sing there, even if you may not fully believe the words. She will be the mom that may be tired from work, but will still play tea party, or Star Trek, or watch March of the Penguins. Sara will be a good mom not because her religions tells her she has to, to fulfill her marriage vows or to propogate for future church members, but because she wants to and loves kids. She is a good mom already because of the person she married, one who is also tolerant, and loving, and cares about people. So, a tribute to Sara, who is going to be a great mom in a month or so, due dates being the inexact science that they are. I love you!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Meet Sophie


Meet Sophie, our new kitten! Isn't she adorable!? So far, Leo likes her and Casper is unsure. We'll have to wait and see how they all get along. But I'm optimistic. She's very curious and explores everything.


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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Books

Well, I figured it was time for an update, one that doesn't have a very controversial topic. At least, I hope not. It's about books. I have been crazy lately, buying books: romance, fiction, literature (like the classics, such as King Solomon's Mine) and current events. I have been reading satire, Harlequin, drama, and mystery. This is of course, in between my insane schedule at work - every weekend. 8 hour days. On my feet. Smiling. For 8 hours. It's impossible to smile for 8 hours, continuously. Eventually, you have to just frown at something. But the babies are cute. Anyway, what are you all reading? Anything? Everything? Any good, new authors that you just have to tell someone about?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

WAHOO!!!

Yes! I am so excited! I know that the Democrat Controlled House and Senate (well, after recounts) won't make immediate changes but I am so excited to now that I voted and voter turnout was up (at least here) and we all want change. Some kind of change - whether in Iraq, or about stem cell research (way to go Missouri!) or abortion or whatever. Democrats have, to me at least, proven that they are the party of the people - the people wanted them. Even Jim Ryun in Kansas lost. And now the first woman Speaker of the House! Can you hear my heart racing with excitement! Okay anyway. Good job voters, even those of you who voted against the Dems, voting is awesome.


I know some of my readers will disagree with my enthusiasm. But, I just can't help it. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! South Dakota has repealed the abortion ban! They repealed it! They repealed it! Women will remain in control.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 7, 2006
South Dakotans Stand Up for Freedom and Privacy, Repeal Divisive Abortion Ban

Vote in conservative stronghold a major defeat for anti-choice groups

Washington, DC –Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Casey Murschel, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, praised South Dakota voters' rejection of Referred Law 6, a near total ban on abortion.

"Tonight's victory belongs to the people of South Dakota who fought back against this political intrusion into personal, private decisions," Keenan said. "South Dakotans reaffirmed that the right to choose should be between a woman, her doctor, her family, and her God—not legislators or Gov. Mike Rounds. This result is a triumph for the fundamental values of freedom and privacy over divisive attacks against a woman's right to choose. This is a wake-up call to lawmakers in other states that America's pro-choice majority will not allow an assault on Roe v. Wade to go unanswered."

Murschel, a Republican legislator who led opposition to the ban, said, "Now, it is time for the same South Dakotans—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents—who defeated this ban to call on legislators and the governor to end these attacks and unify behind commonsense ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion, without threatening women's health or jeopardizing access to safe, legal abortion."

The victory in South Dakota represents part of NARAL Pro-Choice America's comprehensive $2.5 million political program that contributed to this ballot measure in South Dakota and congressional races across the country. NARAL Pro-Choice America joined its state affiliate, NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota as early leaders in a state-based coalition formed to fight this ban, providing significant financial and organizational resources and mobilizing a network of nearly 1,000 activists in the state. Further, NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota invited Keenan to the state, where she met with pro-choice leaders and offered considerable support early on in the effort to place this measure on the ballot.

Contact:
Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

Sunday, November 05, 2006

VOTE!

Alright people! On Tuesday I expect all of you to get your butts to the polls and vote. Vote Democrat! Vote Pro-choice! Vote Republican! Vote Pro-Life! Vote Independent! Vote Nazism! (Okay, maybe not) but get out there and vote. The polls open at 7 and close at 8, at least here in Iowa they do, so go early, before work or school. Or go later, after work or school. Or go during your lunch break. Just get out there and vote and make the United States one of those countries that has a high voting record - I mean, even Iran and Iraq has better voter turnout! So get out there and yell at those politicians. Tell them they have to listen to us! Vote! Vote! Vote!

Oh, yeah, personal endorsement - vote Democrat and pro-choice. Get those Republicans out of Congress and out of our private health decisions.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

If I Had A Billion Dollars

I have been thinking lately of money. Well, a lot of it has been my lack of money, but sometimes I think of what I would do if I had plenty of money and didn't need to worry about how I'm going to pay for basic necessities. So, I've compiled a list. There is really no end to what I would like to do, but these are some of my top picks.

Drum Roll please (not that anyone actually cares about this list, though I'd love to read yours)

1. I would have accounts made for each of my nieces and nephews so that when they turn 18 they can go to the college of their choice (provided they're accepted of course) OR if they prefer to wait for college, they can volunteer at something like the Peace Corps and have that money waiting for them, able to withdraw it at will.

2. I would give some subscribed amount: $25,000 maybe to Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice, NOW, and Ms. magazine.

3. I would donate $50,000 to WSU for History scholarships and/or a history student's grant. I would allocate some of that money for book buying related to the social sciences to the WSU library.

4. I would give $75,000 to a therapy program for rape victims - they heal by swimming with dolphins!

5.I would start a new charity that builds houses for the poor and fixes up houses that are in urban areas - sort of Habitat for Humanity and Urban Renewal combined. These would be available to those who applied.

6. I would donate $150,000 to a fund for poor women to gain abortion and birth control. With the huge amount of money I am imagining I have, this would be renewed every year.

7. Okay, I have to get a bit selfish now. I would buy my dream house. Nothing necessarily huge or anything, but with everything I would want: a library, a large kitchen, fireplaces, a solarium or sun room, etc.

8. Hey, I said I was going to be selfish: a vacation home on the Atlantic coast, preferably Maine. It wouldn't be huge at all, just a 2 bedroom cabin type, right on the beach, with a huge fireplace and bookshelves everywhere.

9. A fund for open and honest sex education for any school or clinic that applies and international clinics as well, including AIDS education and prevention, and free birth control: maybe around $25,000 each or so? Stop the Vatican and Bush from the gag-rule and imposing their values on people that can't afford to go somewhere else for another opinion.

10. Another selfish thing: Books. I would buy every book I ever wanted; on my wish list from Amazon, whenver I found one I liked in any bookstore I went to. No end to buying of books (this is why I need a library).

11. A Toyota Prius and a Honda Element. Both are good cars...if the Element becomes a Hybrid that would make it even better.

Okay, I think I would consider these my top 11 or something. But again, I could come up with many more. Some are selfish, others not so much. I would love to hear about your lists if you have them.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Update

Following in the footsteps of my good friend Sara, I have decided to give you all an update on my life. Please don't snore too loudly. This past weekend I traveled the eight hours down to Wichita and attended a wedding for my BF Nick's friends. A Catholic wedding, no less - meaning a lot longer than any other type. It felt weird to be in the church, but kinda neat because the priest that married the couple also married my brother and sister-in-law. Sometimes it's a small world. I did notice though that the vows still seem rather sexist to me: the groom promises to be faithful and to be a good father (no mention of being a good husband, I guess as long as he is a good dad and provider he can beat his wife or something.) The bride promises to be faithful as well, but to also be a good wife, AND mother. I feel sorry for those women who make this vow and then find out that they can't have children. Or don't want them - as it seems that the Catholic Church insists on having more members brought in from birth, and therefore you are not a good Catholic if you don't automatically desire children. But I digress into my cynicism and I apologize. This is for a later blog topic. I spent Saturday meeting my stepmother's family - her mother turned 90 and all of her kids came for the party and to visit. It was nice, though a bit long. Lots of good food and cute kids. I got to hold a baby! Trying to practice so I won't forget when Sara and Brad have little Kathleen and I get to hold her :-)I got to see my niece and nephews which was great, though way too short - my sister-in-law had the flu so I didn't spend a lot of time there; plus, my brother had just gotten back from a 2-week long work time in St. Louis - the kids hadn't seen him for a long time. But I did get to see their costumes. Dad and I got a chance to talk a bit. He's doing good, the house looks great and I can't wait until Christmas. Nick and I ate at Bella Luna, which is one of the restaurants we've been missing. Yum! I'm hungry just thinking about their menu. And then Sunday we headed back to Iowa - only to run into a good school friend of ours who was ALSO heading back to Iowa (thought a different city) and we stopped at Matfield Green and just chatted a bit. Quite fun! Oh, and Angie - thanks again for the squirrel! Today I spent the day running errands, doing laundry, and I actually got a good jog in also. It's nice to be home, no matter how much I miss my family. I guess that's pretty much it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friendship

I was thinking for the past couple of days about my group of friends from high school. Occasionally, we've talked about the so-called "popular crowd," who I think we all agreed were really only popular in their heads - really they were the party clique, the snobby clique, what have you. I think if any one in our group was popular it was Nathan B. Felix. He was truly universally liked. So kudos to you, Fe, cause you deserved it. But I was wondering a bit today why it is I am so much closer to certain friends from High School than others. Doubtless, some of it has to do with personality, sense of humor, shared characteristics, etc. But I have noticed that while I was close to a lot of these friends - at least I considered us close - in High School, I have become closer to some and have moved farther away from others. Do any of you find yourselves wondering what differences between your friends came between you? In response to an email I sent yesterday to a friend whom I considered myself to be close to in high school I have been thinking of these things even more. I had attempted to try to open up a discussion and re-forge some closeness. It didn't happen, perhaps because it can't happen anymore, or because I or that other person has changed too much to allow us to open up discussion and become close again. I know why I pulled away, but I do not know if I did anything to this person to make them pull away. In any case, I was disappointed that my attempt failed and that it was mistaken for something else. This is my fault, perhaps, because of what I wrote - how I wrote it, more precisely. Anyway, I would like some thoughts on this subject. Which friends are you still close to? Why? What changed? How have you changed? How have they changed?
On another note. I have been thinking as well that I have really focused a lot on abortion and religion.This is in response as well, to an old friend. But I would really like to get your input on some topics about me that all of you may be interested in hearing.

One and all, religions have their original prophets, their sacred books, their traditions of ages gone. One and all require us to accept without question what other people long dead have said or written; to obey without question the commands of those behind us.... No matter what the belief, if it had modestly said, "This is our best thought, go on, think farther!" then we could have smoothly outgrown our early errors and long since have developed a religion such as would have kept pace with an advancing world. But we were made to believe and not allowed to think. We were told to obey, rather than to experiment and investigate.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Research and News

Not that any amount of research will actually get someone hell-bent on forcing women to complete their pregnancies to stop saying there is a connection. But I thought I'd post it anyway. And for those of you who are pro-life but actually keep an open mind, a non-judgemental attitude, and reasons for being against abortion OTHER than religious zeal, as well as some compassion, like Sara, that rather short statement above is not for you.

Back to Story - Help
Abortion does not increase breast cancer risk Mon Oct 16, 7:27 PM ET



Abortion does not affect the risk of breast cancer, according to study findings published in the International Journal of Cancer.

"It is well established that pregnancies that end in a full-term birth ultimately confer a protective effect on breast cancer risk," Dr. Gillian K. Reeves, of the University of Oxford, UK, and colleagues write. "The effect of incomplete pregnancies on the risk of breast cancer has been less clear."

The researchers therefore examined the role of abortion on breast cancer risk among 267,361 women enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition between 1992 and 2000. The data came from 20 centers across nine countries.

The women were followed for an average of 6.6 years. A total of 4805 women were diagnosed with breast cancer during follow-up. The researchers included all pregnancies that ended prior to 20 weeks or the stage of viability - spontaneous abortions (also referred to as miscarriage) and therapeutic or induced abortions.

"Overall, almost two thirds of women reported never having had any type of abortion, while about one third reported having had at least one type of abortion," Reeves and colleagues report.

Approximately 20 percent reported having a spontaneous abortion compared with about 16 percent who reported having an induced abortion. Only 3.8 percent of women reported having both types of abortion.

Having one spontaneous abortion did not affect the risk of breast cancer and having two or more spontaneous abortions only slightly increased the risk. No evidence of a relationship between one or more induced abortions and breast cancer was found.

"Overall, the findings provide further unbiased evidence of the lack of an adverse effect of induced abortion on breast cancer risk," the team concludes.

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, October 1, 2006.




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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Future Home of James T. Kirk

Yesterday, Nick and I headed to Kalona, Iowa because we'd heard that it's a big quilting town and I have been a little obsessed lately with finding a quilt similar, if not exactly like!, the one that my mom gave me years ago. Somehow, when she died and all the stuff was organized (which guiltily and sadly I didn't help with; some of that was because of major pain but I still should have helped!)it disappeared and I haven't figured out where it went. Maybe one of my aunts has it or something, so at least it's still in the family. Anyway, I digress. We drove through the town of Riverside and there it was. A sign proclaiming that it was the Future Home of James T. Kirk. I was so excited because even though I really don't like the original episodes of Star Trek or James T. Kirk, it was still a small string of connection to my Trekkie roots. For those of you who didn't know me in 7th-12th grade, and okay, beyond! I am a trekkie! I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Voyager, and I well, I still have stories, etc. that I am involved with...it was a whole thing with me. So I was excited to see the future right here in Iowa - even if I didn't like the Star Trek captain in question, and wished that it were a sign in a small little wine-producing village in France and proclaiming instead, "Future Home of Captain Jean-Luc Picard"- It was exciting.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I just finished reading a memoir by Julia Scheeres: Jesus Land. It was yet another reason I'm glad that I look at organized religion - especially Christianity - with a rather cynical eye. Her life was so sad; so incredibly unfair. I will not say that it was all caused by Christianity itself - that's just wrong. But most of her unhappiness and misery was caused by good "Christians," trying to "save her soul" and indoctrinate her on their views, despite her own. And, of course, being hypocritical and bigoted and mean about it. All of course, supported by the Bible. Supported at least, by their interpretation - because that's all the book can become in life is interpretation. Which is why I don't understand why people would choose to live "as the Bible says." Please. Sometimes I wonder if rational thought is even possible at that point. It certainly seems to be suspended whenever people start talking about god, or the Bible, or Jesus. They're as high on that as drugs - and it leads to some nasty behavior. Which is of course, sanctioned by the Bible. I just don't understand. Of course, the aftermath of reading a memoir like this is to heighten and intensify by utter bewilderment and cynicism and sheer gratitude that I'm NOT like them, that I may very well fall into the trap of labeling all people who claim to be Christian as mean, bigoted, horrible, hypocritical people. I know some Christians that are...and some (though they seem to be more of the secular Christians) are the best people around. Of course, the best people I've met, sadly for those of you who are that high on god type of Christian, aren't Christian at all. Food for thought isn't it? I guess adhering to the idea that just adhering to one book for one way of life is maybe, not the best policy to live a good life and be kind to others, etc. Just food for thought..mine anyway.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Just me

Sadly, I had to work; but I wanted to go to several - there were something like 10 held here or near hear (Iowa City/Coralville) and if I'd had the space I would have been a hostess too. But I applaud those who were able to attend and/or hold one. Good Luck South Dakota!

Activists Across the Nation Hold Potluck Fundraisers to Fight South Dakota Abortion Ban

Planned Parenthood Supporters Join Together to Combat Attacks on Women’s Health and Safety

Washington, DC — This weekend (Sept. 29–Oct.1) pro-choice activists across the United States, as well as in Kenya and Tunisia, will hold potluck fundraisers to fight South Dakota’s abortion ban. The potlucks, organized by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), have touched a chord with people across the nation. To date, people determined to protect women’s health and safety have organized more than 300 potluck events in 38 states — from Belfast, ME, to Davenport, IA, to Arcata, CA. Potluck themes range from turkey fries to luaus, with events being held in churches and synagogues, backyards, parks, homes and sororities. Similar fundraisers are also being held to oppose anti-choice initiatives in California and Oregon.
“There has been a groundswell of support across the nation in reaction to this draconian measure, which would set women’s health back 33 years to the pre-Roe era,” said Stephenie Foster, PPFA vice president for public policy. “There could be no greater indication of how close we are to losing rights that many of us have come to take for granted than the ban passed in South Dakota.”

A statewide referendum to be held on November 7 will determine whether or not the law goes into effect. The ban — a blatant challenge to Roe v. Wade — would strip women in South Dakota of their constitutional right to determine if and when to bear children. It affects virtually all women seeking an abortion, with the sole exception of cases in which the woman will die if forced to continue the pregnancy.

To find out more about Potlucks for South Dakota, go to StandUpSD.com.

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 860 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Prejudice and Bigotry

I just took a survey about prejudice and bigotry and it got me thinking: what areas in the United States and around the world need work? What is the most prevalent prejudice or bigotry? For example, I was torn between the idea that hetero-sexism and sexism in general, are the areas of prejudice that are still the most prevalent. But most people, in the results area of the survey, answered that it was racism. And I know that racism is still very prevalent, but I tend to think of it as a more regional thing, rather than a world-wide, nation-wide thing. So, I want your thoughts, your discussions, your vague ideas. What prejudice is most prevalent? Why? In what ways are you prejudiced, or bigoted, or just have cynical ideas? For example, I tend to be very cynical and look down on relions and people who are extremely devout in religions - any religion, but especially Catholicism. That is based on personal experience, and I try every day to fight it, but I very often fail - though happily, I sometimes succeed. My cynicism and skepticism is based on experience though, not a pre-judgment. So does it count as a prejudice against that religion? I try to keep an open mind about it, but I tend to find it alien? Anyway, just an example using me as a whipping-girl. Please, feel free to add.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Computer Illiteracy

Because I am computer illiterate the survey I wanted to post on my blog has posted in a weird spot - specifically at the bottom; the way bottom - no farther than that! Okay..anyway, if you want to read it, go there. Sorry for the stupidity - Felix where are you when I need you to explain this to me?!?!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! I turn twenty-six today! Yay! Sort of. Shut up all of you who are younger than me and will, as my dad put it, are not on the short side of thirty. Or something to that effect. Nick took me out to dinner and a movie on Friday to celebrate because I have to work all this weekend - including today. And he's surprised me with books from my Amazon wishlist. And he's making me breakfast - isn't he sweet!? Anyway, wanted to brag a little bit. That's pretty much my post; just celebrating me for a day.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Rant about Religion Based Off of Exhaustion and Frustration

For some reason I have been in a somewhat anti-religion state of mind. Perhaps it is the attack on Harry Potter. Perhaps it is the idea that a religion can take away my autonomy of action and thought - a pharmacist can decide for me that birth control is wrong; the Pope and 200 other men in Rome know better than me about whether I can support a baby, handle having and caring for one; that they can decide about something so personal and inherent to MY body and MY life based on a patriarchal tradition and a dogma that's not even based on biblical references. Perhaps it is because a sexist patriarchal religion such as Catholicism can dictate to a woman what her vocation can be -even if she knows that her god wants her to be, she can't because of sexism 2,000 years ago declared it to be so. Perhaps hearing about the Mormon religion's new bout with selling young girls into polygamous marriages - based on the bible and tradition (just like Catholicism, I don't know why they're not following it?)But I rant and rave, and next week I will be attempting to succeed at my Wiccan Rede and Calling the Corners, hoping to get a blessing from the goddess and god and thinking about how Jesus was a great guy and all. Anyway, I found this funny quote/joke. Thought I'd post it. Please bear with my rant. I only slept about 4 hours last night and worked since 7 this morning. I'm exhausted.

Atheist: n, A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others.
—Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic’s Dictionary

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Must be Jealousy

It must be jealousy at work here - Potter is more popular than the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps?

POPE'S TOP EXORCIST SAYS HARRY POTTER IS 'KING OF DARKNESS'
WebPosted Sun, 03 Sep 2006 14:16:40

---Pope Benedict XVI's chief exorcist, Rev. Gabriele Amorth, has
called fictional wizard-in-training Harry Potter the "king of
darkness, the devil."

Amorth made the statement about the star of the best-selling children's
series by British author J. K. Rowling during an interview with Vatican
Radio during the week.

"Magic is always a turn to the devil," said the Roman Catholic priest,
according to Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.

Amorth, who is also the president of the International Association of
Exorcists, said the series contains many positive references to "the
satanic art" of magic and makes no distinction between black and
white magic.

The Harry Potter series has sold more than 300 million copies worldwide
and four of the books have been made into films.

Rowling has revealed that two main characters will die in the seventh and
last instalment, due to be published soon. It's expected to include a
showdown between the teen wizard and his malevolent nemesis, Lord
Voldemort.

"A price has to be paid, we are dealing with pure evil here," Rowling
said during a British chat show interview.

Amorth compared the Potter character to dictators Stalin and Hitler,
saying they were possessed by the devil.

"You can tell by their behavior and their actions, from the horrors they
committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That's
why we need to defend society from demons," said Amorth, who has
reportedly performed 30,000 exorcisms.

Pope also slammed Potter

Amorth's criticisms of Potter weren't the first to emerge from
the Catholic Church, which has never been a fan of the series.

Benedict voiced his disapproval of the character and series before he
became Pope in April 2005.

Then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, he wrote a supportive letter
in 2005 to the author of a book Harry Potter - Good or Evil? In it,
sociologist Gabriele Kuby had argued that Harry Potter series distorts
young people's ideas about the battle of good versus evil.

"It is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter because those
are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort
Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly," Ratzinger told
Kuby in his letter.

Copyright (C) 2006 CBC. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Something that will annoy people and may get me shot

Okay, this list was one I thought quite hilarious. So far, things are going good here. My dad sold my car and so I will be getting some money to go into a savings account soon - I always feel better when I have some money in savings, just in case. My niece liked her birthday present. My dad is retiring and sounds so excited about it and healthier..probably from that stressful weight of working for Stonhard lifting. I have actually gotten some notes done for my thesis - nothing substantial yet, but at least it is progress. And people have complimented my for defending my viewpoints about certain sticky issues, which I like because even if they do or don't agree with me, at least they're open-minded enough to say, yeah she has a point or at least maybe, yeah, she's defending her ideas in a good way, not in some fanatical, anti-science, anti-religion, etc. way. Okay, the list. While I thought it was funny, and had some points, others won't. I am not meaning to offend, but some people may see it as anti-religious.


Top Ten Signs You're a Fundamentalist Christian

Date: 2006-06-02, 1:10PM MST



10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just loving sarcasm

Things Republicans Believe: A truthful and sarcastic list

1. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is a solid defense policy

2. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

3. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

4. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s and John Kerry did in the 1970s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

5. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

6. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

7. Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

8. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

9. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

10. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

11. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

12. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

13. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Again with the gay marriage

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong


01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Victory!! And I Helped!

Well, the FDA just approved over-the-counter access to the "morning-after" pill! And I helped by writing and emailing my senators and congressmen/women! I feel so proud to have been part of that: women are now able to prevent pregnancy if something happens; like the condom breaks, or she is raped! How wonderful. Thank goodness for birth control.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Honey, Salsa, and Pears

Well, it's been a rather busy week. The title refers to the fact that Nick and I have fallen in love with shopping for certain grocery items at the Farmer's Market. There's one that is right across the street. There, we found this fantastic, extremely fresh honey - the kind that tastes illegal, and you want to just lick the entire jar clean. It was that fantastic! Wonderful, wonderful honey! We also found great, really fresh salsa: perfectly spicy...and tried out a new type of apple and bought really great pears. In short, we are in love with this place! In other news, not much has been happening besides work and writers block - somebody please help me get over this! I can't seem to concentrate on writing my thesis!!! Work is going good: I'm getting comfortable at both places; still haven't decided about leaving one or not. Depends on schedules and such. Nick has started his first week of Library School. I am suddenly dying to be in classes, taking notes and planning for exams...I miss that. Maybe I'm just so good at being a student I don't know what else to be. My dad says that once I get my teaching certification he thinks I'll really enjoy teaching. And with the Certificate in Native American Studies, I can teach at a reservation school or a tribal college (maybe) if I want to - not much money, but I'd feel really good about myself I think. Anyway, that's that. Just for the record, I really miss my friends: Sara, Kay especially, cause there aren't really a bunch of opportunities to make new girlfriends here. Maybe at work? Or when I start classes?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Birthdays and Such

Well, it's coming time for my dad's birthday; my niece's birthday, and in a few weeks..my birthday. I find it rather sad that celebrating birthdays goes out of style once you hit a certain age - unless you are hitting a certain age: 21,30, 40, 50, 90..What happens to those in between ages-I'd much rather celebrate a birthday at 36 than 40 - it's 4 years younger! But then, I happen to be a big fan of celebrating birthdays, spoiling people with cake, presents, or if not the traditional childhood things like cake and ice cream, streamers, presents, at least an adult dinner party, or a romantic party for two to celebrate. So few are the times when a person is spoiled just for being. I can only think of one occasion - a birthday! How nice it is just to wake up and know that one that day, people will be thinking of you - your parents (remember when he was born? )thoughts like these inspire a call, a card, a smile - well, hopefully! your siblings (man, I wish she hadn't been born! Well, maybe not ALL siblings!)your girlfriend (I am so lucky he was born!) All you have to do is just be - just have those connections-just being you is enough to celebrate. I hope.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Return to Gay Marriage

Well, despite the enormous popularity of debating birth control, abortion, or IVF, I have decided to branch out a bit and revisit the debate over gay marriage. The whole idea that two people (no matter what their sexuality) should be able to marry is one that I am extremely comfortable with. Marriage - a commitment, before the law and your family and friends, and god (if you are of that inclination) - is that something that a freedome-loving people really want to deny to someone merely because of their sexuality? How is that really a threat to heterosexual marriage? I still haven't received an answer that I can agree with or even take seriously.

To kick off this discussion then, besides my own opinion, I have decided to print an article from the Nation from Katha Pollitt, published December 15, 2003. This will also be the kick-off to my printing her articles. Most I find thought-provoking; some I didn't agree with, some I did, and many I found absolutely hilarious. So, sit back, read, and enjoy. And if you don't enjoy this one, well, maybe future ones will strike you as funny. Or you may find them offensive. But keep an open mind - something I struggle to do sometimes, and am always a firm supporter of, and well, enjoy!

"Adam and Steve-Together at Last"
Katha Pollitt

Will Someone please explain to me how permitting gays and lesbians to marry threatens the institution of marriage? Now that the Massachusetts Supreme Court has declared gay marriage a constitutional right, opponents really have to get their arguments in line. The most popular theory, advanced by David Blankenhorn, Jean Bethke Elshtain, and other social conservatives is that under the tulle and orange blossoms, marriage is all about procreation. There's some truth to this as a practical matter-couples often live together, tying the know only when baby's on the way. But whether or not marriage is the best framework for child-rearing, having children isn't a marital requirement. As many have pointed out, the law permits marriage to the infertile, the elderly, the impotent, and those with no wish to procreate; it allows married couples to use birth control, to get sterilized, to be celibate. There's something creepily authoritarian and insulting about reducing marriage to procreation, as if intimacy mattered less than biological fitness. It's not a view that anyone outside of a right-wing think tank, a Catholic Marriage Tribunal, or an ultra-Orthodox rabbi's court is likely to find persuasive.
So scratch procreation. How about: Marriage is the way women domesticate men. This theory, a favorite of right-wing writer George Gilder, has some statistical support-married men are much less likely than singles to kill people, crash the car, take drugs, commit suicide - though it overlooks such husbandly failings as domestic violence, child abuse, infidelity, and abandonment. If a man rapes his wife instead of his date, it probably won't show up on a police blotter, but has civilization moved forward? Of course, this view of marriage as a barbarian-adoption program doesn't explain why women should undertake it-as is obvious from the state of the world, they haven't been too successful at it anyway. (Maybe men should civilize men-bring on the Fab Five from Queer Eye!) Nor does it explain why marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples. The gay men and lesbians who want to marry doesn't impinge on the male improvement project one way or the other. Surely not even Gilder believes that a heterosexual pothead with plans for murder and suicide would be reformed by marrying a lesbian?
What about the argument of history? According to this, marriage has been around forever and has stood the test of time. Actually, though, marriage as we understand it - voluntary, monogamous, legally egalitarian, based on love, involving adults only- is a pretty recent phenomenon. FOr much of human history, polygyny was the rule - read your Old Testament - and in much of African and the Muslim world, it still is. Arranged marriages, forced marriages, child marriages, marriages predicated on the subjugation of women - gay marriage is like a fairy tale romance compared with most chapters of the history of wedlock.
The trouble with these and other arguments against gay marriage is that they overlook how loose, flexible, individualized, and easily dissolved the bonds of marriage already are. Virtually any man and woman can marry, no matter how ill assorted or little acquainted. An eighty year old man can marry an eighteen year old; a john can marry a prostitute; two terminally ill patients can marry each other from their hospital beds. You can get married by proxy, like medieval royalty, and not see each other in the flesh for years. Whatever may have been the case in the past, what undergirds marriage in most people's minds today is not some sociobiological theory about reproduction or male socialization. Nor is it the enormous bundle of priviliges society awards to married people. It's love, commitment, stability. Speaking just for myself, I don't like marriage. I prefer the old-fashioned ideal of monogamous free love, not that it worked out particularly well in my case. As a social mechanism, moreover, marriage seems to me a deeply unfair way of distributing social goods like health insurance and retirement checks, things everyone needs. Why should someone's marital status determine how much you pay the doctor, or whether you eat cat food in old age, or whether a child gets a government check if a parent dies? Still, as long as marriage is here, how can it be right to deny it to those who want it? In fact, you would think that, given how many heterosexuals are happy to live in sin, social conservatives would welcome maritally minded gays with open arms. Gays already have the baby - they can adopt in many states, and lesbians can give birth in all of them - so why deprive them of the marital bathwater?
At bottom, the objections to gay marriage are based on religious prejudice. The marriage of man and woman is "sacred," and opening it to same-sexers violates it sacral nature. That is why so many people can live with civil unions but draw the line at marriage - spiritual union. In fact, polls show a striking correlation of religiosity, especially evangelical Protestantism, with oppostition to gay marriage and with belief in homosexuality as a choice, the famous "gay lifestyle." For these poeple gay marriage is wrong because it lets gays and lesbians avoid turning themselves into the straights that God wants them to be. As a matter of law, however, marriage is not about Adam and Eve versus Adam and Steve. It's not about what God blesses, it's about what the government permits. People may think "marriage" is a word wholly owned by religion, but actually it's wholly owned by the state. No matter how big your church wedding, you still have to get a marriage license from City Hall. And just as divorced people can marry even if the Catholic Church considers it bigamy, and Muslim and Mormon men can only marry one woman, even if their holy books tell them they can wed all the girls in Apartment 3G, two men or two women should be able to marry, even if religions oppose it and it makes some heterosexuals, raised in those religions, uncomfortable.
Gay marriage - it's not about sex, it's about separation of church and state.

Hopefully you all read this far. Let the discussion begin - if it will.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I'm Baaaack!

Hello! I had such a blast in Colorado and seeing my family too. Some highlights:having lunch with Kay (barely! I was running out of time); liquid cocaine shot on Thursday night; seeing the entire city of Canon City from Skyline Drive on Friday night; white water rafting on Saturday - swimming down (sort of), falling off, getting psyched up for a Class IV that we weren't expecting; seeing Royal Gorge from a train that same day; petting a cute little beagle puppy on Sunday; playing with my niece and nephews and spending time with dad. Finally getting home and seeing Nick!!! I had a great time and it was a total blast. The people were funny, strange, cool, and just plain fun.

I got back and got my schedule - not sure how long I will continue at the Gap - not enough hours; so stay observant, I may not have that discount anymore. I am planning on really working on my thesis hard, so I can at least have a really rough draft - or most of my chapters done, by my birthday. I wonder who will remember when that is? :-) And in future posts, I will be posting articles from Katha Pollitt. So, that's an update on my life so far. I have to work tonight!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Trip

Well, I am off tomorrow for a week of fun...at least I hope it will be fun. I plan on seeing my dad and stepmom, my brother and sister-in-law and the kids and then off to Colorado with my younger sister to go white-water rafting and have a blast. Long drives, but totally worth it. I also got to see Alyssa, Kaylin and Judy this weekend. That was fun too! I am excited. My jobs seem to be going well...no huge paychecks or anything, but eventually, I will have steady income and some great clothes! That's really about it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jobs and stuff

I start training for my new job today- at the Children's Place. Should be interesting. Two hours of training and then 16 hours of work this weekend. Yikes! I just hope I am up for it. Talked to Jackie last night, and she gave me our itinerary for the trip to Colorado. We get to go white water rafting, and then gambling in Cripple Creek. I hope I win big! Ha! Sad news from Kansas though - my sister-in-law had a miscarriage; don't know much more than that, but I heard that she is doing okay. Nick saw John Kerry last Friday- here for a cancer symposium. Well, technically he saw just the back of his head, but it's still exciting. I know I would have been excited. I have been rereading the Harry Potter series, hoping to absorb as much as possible until next summer and the 7th year finally comes out. Oh, and I finished reading an interesting book of essays...read it if you are able to: it's called Jesus is Not a Republican. Really good book; some funny and thought-provoking essays. Well, that's really all. I'll post more later.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Well, I haven't been posting that much - and I think everyone is really getting busy. I know that I am scheduled finally to start working at the Children's Place. I guess, too that I start training on a really busy weekend so that should be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. There's a big bicyclist race coming through Iowa this weekend called the RAGBRAI - Lance Armstrong will be riding through even and about 10,000 people will be in the park and along the roads to watch. Next year, Nick is planning on competing - or at least riding in it..it's a bicycle race across the state. Totally cool! Of course, I have to work that night so it will really be difficult getting out of the parking lot. But yay for the money! That's about it really, except that I have been thinking about high school a lot lately, probably cause school stuff is coming out and I haven't seen my friends for awhile. So, I was thinking - if any of you who knew me in high school would, email me or post a memory on my blog. I'd appreciate the trip down nostalgia lane.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Okay, so I didn't get much of a response to the last few articles I posted. But this is something that really bothers me about the pro-life movement - it lies. Oh, not everyone; probably not the majority even. But there are enough of the people that do to really make things that much harder. This article is from the US House of Representatives. Waxman is a Democrat from California so his is going to be a bit biased toward pro-choice; but when a member of Congress leads a federally funded study and finds out about these things, it really should make people thing, despite his bias. Just think of the the percentage of those that lie- 80% of "crisis pregnancy centers" lie to women in order to futher their own ideas about morality and force it on others!



Public Health
Federally Funded Pregnancy Resource Centers Mislead Teens about Abortion Risks
Monday, July 17, 2006 --

A new study released by Rep. Henry A. Waxman finds that federally funded pregnancy resource centers often mislead pregnant teens about the medical risks of abortion, telling investigators who posed as pregnant 17-year-olds that abortion leads to breast cancer, infertility, and mental illness.

87 percent of the centers reached by investigators provided false or misleading information about abortion. Under the Bush Administration, pregnancy resource centers, which are also called “crisis pregnancy centers,” have received over $30 million in federal funding. The new report assesses the scientific accuracy of the information they provide. Female investigators, who posed as pregnant 17-year-olds seeking advice about an unintended pregnancy, telephoned the 25 pregnancy resource centers that have received capacity-building funds from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Twenty of the 23 centers reached by the investigators (87%) provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion. According to the report:

The centers provided false and misleading information about a link between abortion and breast cancer. There is a medical consensus that induced abortion does not cause an increased risk of breast cancer. Despite this consensus, eight centers told the caller that having an abortion would in fact increase her risk. One center said that “all abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer in later years," while another told the caller that an abortion would “affect the milk developing in her breasts” and that the risk of breast cancer increased by as much as 80% following an abortion.
The centers provided false and misleading information about the effect of abortion on future fertility. Abortions in the first trimester, using the most common abortion procedure, do not pose an increased risk of infertility. However, seven centers told the caller that having an abortion could hurt her chances of having children in the future. One center said that damage from abortion could lead to “many miscarriages” or to “permanent damage” so “you wouldn’t be able to carry,” telling the caller that this is “common” and happens “a lot.”
The centers provided false and misleading information about the mental health effects of abortion. Research shows that significant psychological stress after an abortion is no more common than after birth. However, thirteen centers told the caller that the psychological effects of abortion are severe, long-lasting, and common. One center said that the suicide rate in the year after an abortion “goes up by seven times.” Another center said that post-abortion stress suffered by women having abortions is “much like” that seen in soldiers returning from Vietnam and “is something that anyone who’s had an abortion is sure to suffer from.”

False and Misleading Information Provided by Federally Funded Pregnancy Resource Centers



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Some documents are in .pdf format. Download Adobe Reader. | Photos of Rep. Waxman: [c] 2004 Kay Chernush
I have already started training for my job at the GAP and just for anyone who likes to shop there - I have some coupons for Friends and Family Days (30% off on a certain weekend in August, 35% off if you open a GAP card) so if my close friends/family are interested, let me know, email me your address and I will try to send you them. So far, no word on scheduling for my job at Children's Place. I can't wait, in a few weeks I get to go on vacation with my sister! YAY! I actually had a plan of what I was going to talk about today, but for some reason my mind went blank and my chosen topic is now reduced to the mundane details of my life. Very mundane, cause nothing really exciting is happening. It's raining..that's a relief cause now maybe I can run without having to carry oxygen! It's been so hot and humid, it's hard to breathe. Anyway, that's all. Not much going on...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

No comments at all?!

I was so disappointed to read no comments. It must be I am annoying people and not stimulating discussion. I need to broaden my debate interests. In other news..things are good!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Another interesting discussion?

What the Research Shows: Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Sex Education Does Not Protect Teenagers' Health (5/4/2005)

There is no conclusive evidence that abstinence-only sex education, which teaches students to abstain from sex until married and generally only teaches about contraceptive failure, reduces the rate of unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Moreover, research indicates that many of these programs do not help teens delay having sex. Yet the federal government has funneled well over half a billion dollars since 1997 into abstinence-only programs, steadily increasing funding in recent years to more than $165 million annually.
On the other hand, evidence shows that comprehensive sexuality education programs that provide information about abstinence and contraception can help delay the start of sexual activity in teenagers and increase condom use among sexually active teens. Yet there is currently no federal program dedicated to supporting comprehensive sexuality education.

Studies show that most abstinence-only programs do not help teens delay having sex, and some show evidence that these programs actually deter teens who become sexually active from protecting themselves from unintended pregnancy or STDs.

A recent review of program evaluations in 11 states (AZ, CA FL, IA, MD, MN, MO, NE, OR, PA, WA) indicates that after participating in abstinence-only programs, teens are less willing to use contraception, including condoms. And in only one state, did any program demonstrate any success in delaying the initiation of sex.
D. Hauser, Five Years of Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Education: Assessing the Impact, Advocates for Youth, September 2004.

Many abstinence programs include "Virginity Pledges," whereby teens sign cards promising to remain virgins until they are married. While data suggests that under limited circumstances, teens who sign a pledge may delay sexual intercourse, 88 percent still have sex before marriage. Recent research also shows that pledgers' rate of STDs does not differ from the rate of nonpledgers because pledgers are less likely to use condoms at first intercourse or to be tested for STDs.
H. Br├╝ckner and P. Bearman, "After the promise: the STD consequences of adolescent virginity pledges," Journal of Adolescent Health, 36 (2005) 271-278.

A recent Congressional report found that widely used federally funded abstinence-only curricula distort information, misrepresent the facts, and promote gender stereotypes.

More than 80 percent of the abstinence-only curricula reviewed contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.
The curricula reviewed misrepresent the effectiveness of contraceptives in preventing STDs and unintended pregnancy. They also contain false information about the risks of abortion, blur religion and science, promote gender stereotypes, and contain basic scientific errors.
"The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs," Prepared for Rep. Henry A. Waxman, United States House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform - Minority Staff, Special Investigations Division, December 2004.


Parents want schools to teach comprehensive sexuality education and do not think taxpayer dollars should be spent on abstinence-only programming.

More than 85 percent of Americans believe that it is appropriate for school-based sex education programs to teach students how to use and where to get contraceptives.
National Public Radio, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Sex Education in America, January 2004.

70 percent of Americans oppose the use of federal funds for abstinence-only sex education programs that prohibit teaching about the use of condoms and contraception for the prevention of unintended pregnancies and STDs.
Advocates for Youth and SIECUS, "Americans Oppose Abstinence-Only Education Censoring Information on Contraception," 1999.


Comprehensive sexuality education helps teenagers delay sex and protects their health.

A review of a large body of evaluation research on programs to prevent teenage pregnancy found conclusive evidence that comprehensive sex education programs do not increase sexual activity or hasten the onset of first intercourse. To the contrary, several of these programs have been shown to delay the onset of sex or increase condom or other contraceptive use among sexually active teens.
Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, May 2001.

In an evaluation of 19 sex education programs, 12 programs - 11 of which included information about abstinence and contraception and 1 of which is an intervention for elementary school children and their parents - helped delay timing of first sex; 11 programs increased condom use among sexually active teens.
Advocates for Youth, Science and Success: Sex Education and Other Programs That Work to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2003.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention note that "research has clearly shown that the most effective programs [to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS] are comprehensive ones that include a focus on delaying sexual behavior and provide information on how sexually active young people can protect themselves."
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Fact Sheet: Young People at Risk: HIV/AIDS Among America's Youth, National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, March 2002.

I love the Bill of Rights

Please read both articles, there's another one about a student - they're taken from the ACLU website (there's a link on my blog). Isn't it cool?


ACLU of West Virginia and Americans United Seek Removal of High School Portrait of Jesus (6/28/2006)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

CHARLESTON, WV - The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia and Americans United for Separation of Church and State today asked a court to order the removal of a large portrait of Jesus prominently displayed outside the principal's office at Bridgeport High School, saying that the display is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

"The Constitution's ban on government endorsement of religion is good for both government and religion. It keeps religion free and allows government to represent us all," said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of the ACLU of West Virginia. "In violating that ban, Bridgeport High School is interfering with the right of all students to freely express their religious beliefs."

The current debate dates to a March meeting of the Harrison County Board of Education, when a local resident, Harold Sklar, submitted a formal request that the portrait be taken down. However, this is not the first time the display has been questioned. Sklar had asked for the portrait's removal several times over a 10 year period, but his requests were ignored.

Schneider noted that even if the portrait reflected the beliefs of a majority of individuals, the United States Supreme Court ruled unequivocally in 1943 in a landmark West Virginia case that the purpose of the Bill of Rights was to ensure that fundamental liberties like freedom of religion are not subject to the whims of a majority.
"School officials are flouting the First Amendment principle of church-state separation and in the process providing students a shoddy civics lesson," said Richard Katskee, Assistant Legal Director of Americans United.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, seeks to remove the portrait and obtain damages as well as reasonable attorneys' fees.



ACLU of New Jersey Defends Second-Grader's Right to Sing Religious Song (6/5/2006)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

NEWARK, NJ -- The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case seeking to uphold an elementary school student's right to religious expression.

The Frenchtown Elementary School student, whose initials are O.T., wanted to sing the song "Awesome God" in a voluntary, after-school talent show. School officials refused to allow the student to sing her song, saying it would give the impression that the school favored religion. “O.T.” remains anonymous to protect her privacy.

"There is a distinction between religious expression initiated or endorsed by school personnel, and speech initiated by individual students," said ACLU of New Jersey cooperating attorney Jennifer Klear of Drinker, Biddle & Reath in New York. "The Constitution protects a student's individual right to express herself, including religious expression."

In its brief, the ACLU argued that no reasonable observer would have believed that the school endorsed the religious message behind the student's song, and that the school therefore had no right to deny her choice of song.

The talent show was open for anyone from the 1st through 8th grades who wished to play a solo instrument, dance, perform a skit or sing karaoke. Students were permitted to select their own songs or skits.

"We are dedicated to protecting the right of individual religious expression," said ACLU of New Jersey Legal Director Ed Barocas. "O.T. has our full support in defense of her right to sing a religious song in the talent show."

The ACLU of New Jersey has participated in other cases involving the right of individual religious expression, including recently helping to ensure that jurors are not removed from jury pools for wearing religious clothing and that prisoners are able to obtain religious literature.

The case, O.T. v. Frenchtown Elementary School, was filed in federal court in Trenton.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

News!

Well, I got a job! Finally. And actually, it's two jobs: both part-time, so no benefits and fairly low pay, though above minimum wage! One is at a children's clothing store, the other at the Gap. I am quite excited, and hoping that eventually I will be able to put a lot of one salary into savings so that I won't someday be destitute and have to live off of my wealthy friends: the psychologist and lawyer, for some examples. Also, I just sent in a resume for this tutoring company - and if I get it, and work 25 or more hours a week (at 22.50/hr.) I will also get full medical, dental, vision. How cool is that! I am so hoping I get that job. I might even keep one of my part-time jobs just for fun and to save for a new car (my dream: a blue Toyota Prius..ahh, heaven!) So, that's news for me.
Oh, and don't think I haven't been paying attention to the debate on Kristi's blog; abortion; the atomic bomb! (I have some comments about that; as a historian I took offense to the argument.) But I will weigh in another day.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Embarassment

I can never seem to come up with a catchy, creative title to my blog. I think after years of history research I have lost my ability to be creative quickly. Today I was thinking about embarassment..the things that make us embarassed actually. For example, I was at Panera, buying breakfast for me and Nick and I handed the girl my credit card. I KNEW I had plenty on it, because I had just paid the bill yesterday. But, alas! the payment had not posted because I hadn't paid at the perfect time on a weekend. So, my card was rejected. Luckily I had cash, but that left me with only $1 left. My point though is this...I was really embarassed. It wasn't my fault that the payment hadn't been posted, because I was going by central standard time and my credit card company was on eastern standard time, and I hadn't done anything on purpose to make the cashier have to run it again and then change the order and all - and yet, I was really embarassed, thinking "gosh, what are they thinking, probably that I should pay my damn bills on time, etc." So I got all defensive, in my head.

Being embarassed is such a weird thing isn't it? It's so based on how others view us - and I really didn't care what that cashier thought - I don't even know her - and yet, I DID care for just that tiny amount of time and I was embarassed.

In other news, it's possible I spelled embarassed incorrectly. If someone actually knows if it's right or not, let me know.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July! I honestly don't know if anyone is still reading my blog, since it takes me such a long time to write between blogs..but hopefully someone is reading. I can't believe that I have been in Iowa for over a month! It's so weird. A good weird, but weird nonetheless. The other night I had a dream that I was back in high school. Only, it was a high school after 9/11 and all the students had to register for ID cards to get into their lockers, and the classrooms, and almost everyhing was videotaped. I woke up going, well, at least now I won't have to remember my locker combo anymore!

In August I get to go white-water rafting!!!! I am so excited, it's not even funny. My sister Jackie and I are going for a few days to Colorado - all on her new job's tab. Well, sorta. Anyway, she has a new job for the Y and she and a friend (she picked me!!! Yay!) are going to Colorado for a career oriented trip - white-water rafting. I know, cool career! But I have always wanted to go, and she thought of me when she heard and so YAY! I get to take a vacation with my sis!

I have another job interview on Thursday. This whole searching for a job thing sucks. I get all excited and then they decide, you know - no..you're just not what we're looking for. Hopefully it's because they're intimidated by my intelligence, but I think I'm reaching for that one.

Anyway, not much else going on. My dad is doing better, and they should be scheduling the surgery on his legs soon, so he will be able to play golf again. That's all for now.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Well, the past weekends have been so hectic. I know I haven't kept up with this, but as a few of you know, I've been rather preoccupied. Last Thursday my dad had a heart attack and I rushed down to Kansas. He's doing great now, hardly any damage and it looks like the doctor fixed what could be fixed. He's been having some problems lately anyway, so he's not out of the woods yet completely, but things are much better. Of course, I got back on Monday evening and the next day had a horrible head cold. So I felt bad most of the week - but better by Friday when Nick's parents came for a visit. It was really fun to see them. His mom and dad are really cool. I think they kinda miss having him around. And they're extremely sweet. Anyway, things are going good now. Dad's feeling better, I am too. That's all for now.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Finally, a new post

So, this is my new post and the first one I've done since moving to Iowa. We pulled in last Thursday, already exhausted of course, and began to unload. The cats had been drugged so they were no problem the entire way - they slept most of the day in their carrier. It was really kinda of heartwarming. Everything is pretty much unpacked, although there are a few areas that need to be organized..noticeably, my desk and study space. Nick and I have been walking and exploring a lot of places. I've even gone on a run around the park near our apartment. It's a great little town, and the university is only 4 miles away. I have a job interview on Saturday at Victoria's Secret - please, everyone, keep fingers crossed that I get it. They said it's only part-time, but that's better than nothing, and I have a feeling I can cram in some more hours by taking over some other girls' shifts. IF I get hired..so just think good thoughts ok? Nick has a job starting in August at the Reference Desk at the University Library. Really good opportunity, and at least he knows it's there for him, so we may struggle a bit, but by August things should be on an upswing. I'm already missing the excitement of classes and new professors and such - I may audit a class in the fall, just for fun. After I finish my thesis of course! Well, I guess that's pretty much it. Oh, and people - read the book The Devil Wears Prada, before you see the movie...it's hilarious!!!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Iowa!

I know that it has been a long time since I last posted, but wow, moving is apparently more difficult than I thought. Our apartment is a mess...I am also taking my niece Alyssa with me, so she can meet up with her mom for the summer. She's a good traveler, so it should be kinda fun! So far, the biggest news is this: we bought a couch together...it's really cool, and green, and I am extremely excited! I can't believe how much fun it is to share expenses, despite being poor, of course. I really dig the equality..it was so totally unlike my ex-husband to be that way, but that's another blog. Sara and Brad, congratulations again!!!! I will talk to all of you later, when life is less hectic and I will be in IOWA! Moving is still scary, even though I do have family close by. Maybe it's cause I will miss out on some stuff that normally I wouldn't, plus it's a new state..and I have to find a job and get settled. I am nervous! I will really miss the family I have here...and I think some of my nervousness stems from feelings that only my dad, sister, and stepmom really care that I'm leaving. I kinda get the feeling that Rick and Charlene have kinda written me off...but maybe that's cause we haven't really settled anything. I am really gonna miss my niece and nephews! Well, it's the last packing and loading day. Gotta go!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Well, lately life is hectic. I worked out for 2 hours yesterday to relieve stress and of course, get my nice body back the one that is less dumpy and more toned. Oh, and we're moving next Thursday. We already have our address and phone number so whoever wants it email me! I will probably send out a mass email anyway! Packing is hectic! Our apartment is a mess. I am spending time with the families, and that's fun. Oh, and of course, thesis research. Wow! That is dragging for right now, cause all I'm really doing is copying microfilm so that later I can analyze it. Tedious work, but it will be worth it. Anyway, not much else going on. I went to the zoo with my sister and niece yesterday - Taylor's field trip. What a fun group! Kay - remember hanging out with parents or whatever and singing whenever we felt like it without being embarrassed..the girls did cheers! In the middle of the zoo. They were so excited and wound up, I don't know if they actually saw any of the animals. Ahh, the zoo. Penguins next summer!!!! Anyway, that's all.

Friday, May 19, 2006

New Editorial

I know it's another editorial, but some people took offense that it was a Planned Parenthood editorial the last time, so here is one from the St. Petersburg Times. Has the Pope actually commissioned a study? I will find out, but I think Kristi, you would know this? I will try to find out. I merely find it interesting, since AIDS is such a huge problem in Africa, and this would at least allow partners, in MARRIAGE I mean, to protect themselves.


Vatican shift on condoms
With millions of AIDS deaths in Africa, a change in policy would be welcome.
By Times editorial
Published May 7, 2006

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It is too early to tell whether Pope Benedict XVI is prepared to relax Roman Catholic doctrine and sanction the use of condoms to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. Benedict has asked the Vatican to study whether condoms are acceptable for married couples as a means to prevent the transmission of HIV. Such a move would carve away long-held Catholic teaching that artificial contraception violates the dignity of human life. It also could save countless lives, especially in Africa, where the United Nations classifies HIV as "the single greatest threat" to security and economic development.

Many Africans implored Benedict, on his election last year as pope, to find a middle ground to ease a pandemic devastating the church's fastest-growing region. Since the 1980s, the United Nations reports, 50-million in Africa have been infected with HIV and 20-million have died. AIDS has deprived Africa of parents, an able-bodied work force and much of the means to grow economically or even feed itself. Of the 5-million new infections reported worldwide last year, according to U.N. figures, 64 percent were in sub-Saharan Africa. In June, speaking to African bishops, the pope recognized the "epidemic" but said the "contraception mentality" should not unhinge the tradition of abstinence. It is unclear whether this study signals a change or hardening of Benedict's position.

Either way, having senior Catholic clergy refer to the practice as "a lesser evil" brings the debate forward from only several years ago, when the Vatican condemned condoms as ineffective against HIV. It also shows Benedict capable of opening the church to freewheeling public controversy, a confidence detractors did not expect from the conservative German cardinal. Benedict may have focused the issue narrowly on whether condoms should spare spouses a deadly disease. But any doctrinal change would surely be seen as a broader retreat on contraception. Likewise, Benedict forced a more honest debate about the many factors, apart from condoms, that contribute to the spread of HIV in Africa, from the weaknesses in the continent's health care system to societal attitudes toward women that encourage high-risk sex.

By calling attention to its own role in shaping prevention efforts, the church has raised the stakes for itself to do more to help governments and people worldwide make responsible decisions. As many as 80-million people could die from AIDS in Africa by 2025. That makes condoms a life issue. It is good the church sees it so, enough to wade through moral distinctions that could make a difference.

[Last modified May 7, 2006, 09:33:46]

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What do you think?

The Church and Condom Sense

by Laura Lambert
05.17.06


Will the Roman Catholic Church lift its ban on condoms?

The Vatican has been steadfast in its official opposition to condoms, as part of its overall stance against contraception. The use of condoms, the Vatican has said, is immoral. But in the wake of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and amidst growing outcry within certain ranks of the church, the Vatican has been pushed to reexamine the issue. Pope Benedict XVI himself recently commissioned a council to study the acceptability of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS — though through a narrow lens, focusing on the issue of HIV/AIDS within heterosexual marriage.

While conflicting reports make it unclear whether such a study presages a formal change in the Vatican's stance, or merely an internal exploration, it has brought the issue of the church and condoms to the forefront.


"Abstinence is fine as an ideal, but it does not work in all circumstances. What about the vulnerable women who don't have that option?"
What happens when the church's "culture of life" and the death toll of HIV/AIDS collide? Can condoms be considered an acceptable "lesser evil" in the time of HIV/AIDS? Which will prevail — disease or doctrine? It is, as stated in a recent New York Times article, "one of the most complicated and delicate [issues] facing the church."

Humanae Vitae

The modern history of the Catholic Church and its stance on condoms can be traced to the 1968 encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, subtitled "On the Regulation of Birth." In it, Pope Paul VI prohibits all means of artificial contraception — reaffirming the church's age-old teachings.

Humanae Vitae emerged in the early days of the birth control pill and changing notions about sex and sexuality. According to polls from that era, an increasing number of Catholics believed the Vatican should sanction birth control — by 1965, the rate was 63 percent. And there were signs of change within the church, as well.

An internal study carried out in the mid-1960s by Vatican-appointed theologians and laymen overwhelmingly found that birth control was not, in and of itself, evil. The commission agreed that Catholics could be allowed to choose for themselves whether and when to use birth control. Nevertheless, Pope Paul VI rejected the majority opinion and cemented the church's official ban with his 1968 decree.

Straight away, Catholic bishops throughout the world — from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States — spoke out, stating that circumstances existed in which a Catholic's conscience could prevail against the ban on contraception — if a woman's life were in danger, for instance.

But the beliefs set out in Humanae Vitae held — and it has remained the official prevailing doctrine since. Then, in the 1980s, HIV/AIDS began to change the world, and many Catholic leaders began to see condoms in a different light.


Catholic Leaders on Condoms

Catholic leaders began to speak out about condoms and HIV/AIDS as early as 1989. That year, the French Bishops Council encouraged widespread HIV/AIDS education, stating decisively, "Prophylactic measures exist." Cardinal Archbishop of Paris Jean-Marie Lustiger recognized that those with HIV/AIDS infections who could not live in chastity should use means to "prevent infection of others."

Four years later, the German Bishops Conference agreed that condoms could be appropriate within a marriage touched by HIV/AIDS, saying "The church ... has to respect responsible decision-making by couples." And in 1996, the French Bishops Council condoned condom use for individuals at risk for HIV "for whom sexual activity is an ingrained part of their lifestyle."

In 2000, Bishop Eugenio Rixen of Goias, Brazil, stated that the Catholic principle of "the lesser of two evils" justified the use of condoms, deeming it "less serious, morally speaking, than getting infected or infecting other people with the AIDS virus." Then, in 2001, Bishop Kevin Dowling, of Rustenburg, South Africa, challenged the Vatican's ban outright, having seen, firsthand, the plight of women and men stricken with HIV/AIDS in a poor mining town in South Africa.

And yet, even as these views bubbled to the surface, other church leaders sought to drown them out. Some went so far as to blame condoms for the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Archbishop of Nairobi Raphael Ndingi Nzeki has called condoms "a licence [sic] for sexuality" and suggested that HIV/AIDS had spread so quickly and so far because of the availability of condoms. And, in 2003, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, falsely suggested that condoms were not reliable for safer sex, alleging that the HIV virus could pass through "pores" in the latex — despite consistent scientific findings to the contrary. In his 2003 document, "Family Values Versus Safe Sex," Trujillo states that condoms, instead of inhibiting the spread of HIV/AIDS, promote it.

In lieu of acknowledging that condoms can prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, the church has emphasized abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage. Just last year, Pope Benedict XVI underscored that point in a speech to African bishops, claiming that abstinence and fidelity were the only "fail-safe" ways to prevent HIV/AIDS.

But what about when abstinence and fidelity fail — as they so often do? "Abstinence is fine as an ideal, but it does not work in all circumstances," said Bishop Dowling, in an interview with The Washington Post. "What about the vulnerable women who don't have that option?" he asked. "What about realizing that the official church in circumstances of human living does not respond to that reality?"


Between Doctrine and Disease

The issue now at hand at the Vatican is not contraception, but disease prevention. As certain leaders, such as the Brazilian Bishop Rixen, and, more recently, former Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, have suggested, condoms could be seen as a "lesser evil." "Certainly the use of prophylactics can, in some situations, constitute a lesser evil," Cardinal Martini said, in the Italian newsweekly L'Espresso. "There is, then, the particular situation of spouses, one of whom is affected by AIDS."

Others who have publicly spoken in favor of condom use in cases where one partner in a marriage is HIV-positive include Swiss Cardinal George Cottier, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England.

Both the public and Catholic priests seem to be in favor — not just of condom use in light of HIV/AIDS, but also of birth control in general. In a recent poll of Catholic priests in England and Wales, 65 percent of those surveyed believed condom use to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS was acceptable. Forty-three percent said it was time for the church to reexamine its view on contraception as a whole. And a 2005 Harris poll found that 90 percent of Catholics — and 93 percent of Americans — support contraception.

The actions and voices of the public, church leaders, and the pope himself, taken as a whole, seem to suggest that the lifesaving potential of condoms may soon be officially recognized by the Catholic Church. For many, this kind of "condom sense" has been a long time coming.



Laura Lambert is a writer and editor in the PPFA Editorial Services Department.



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