Monday, March 30, 2009

Trying to Stay on Top of the Blog

Spring Break is over and I'm home in Illinois. I would normally do a top ten list covering my break, but I just don't feel like I can do only ten, so I'll do a top ? list and let the numbers just fill themselves in...

1) Arrival - hugs from kids, watching tv, and feeling right at home
2) Zoo - Took Colin, Taylor, Dalton, and Tristan to the zoo and had a blast - although I'm thinking about writing a letter of complaint to the zoo because of the food at the restaurant there, which totally sucked. But the day was great!
3) A break from stress - homework, work, money, next semester, etc. and getting enough sleep!
4) Seeing family
5) Fried chicken and Scattegories
6) Watching Alyssa drive - which was both amazingly scary and amazingly cool!
7) Bridesmaid dress shopping with Kay - who knew dress shopping could be so exhausting. BUT, awesome burgers!!!
8) Seeing Watchmen with Ramee and getting a chance to catch up on our lives

In other news: I've decided to try a new facial routine, using clinique's 3-Step. It's gotten really good reviews and I LOVE the scrub I'm already using, so hopefully this will make my skin look beautiful and glow-y. Also, it's time to start my exercising again - for my break, I kind of relaxed it and didn't worry too much about it, although I was pretty busy with the kids: we played basketball and hide and seek and such, so I wasn't totally sedentary.
School is winding down, and it feels very fast, but I'm still loving this semester and my classes. I have to take a class I'm totally dreading this summer and I'm confused about my education classes, for summer and fall, but I'm seeing the end of school and such. I'm also very nervous about my exams for my teaching certification: have to decide which subject exams to take and make sure I get all that stuff done before student teaching and my practicum (both of which leave me weak in the knees but also very excited).
I I'm also working on my cover letter and resume and hoping for an assistantship - all pretty standard news there.
On my driving spurts: to KS, to IA, to IL, I listened to NPR and also to conservative talk radio, including Rush Limbaugh. It's funny how much conservative talk radio or religious shows sound totally moronic to me - it's usually not the subject matter; sometimes, the subject makes sense, I might even agree on their take of an issue or something. But for the most part, I feel like they're morons OR, most of the time, they jump to conclusions that make no sense given the context and such - it's all very illogical and irrational. Also, WHY are there so many stations of crappy Christian music? I mean, seriously, I think one or two is probably enough.
Also, everyone should read Dale McGowan's blog through my link.
And what is with the Pope? I thought the Catholic church respected science? I get that he's against all birth control, even condoms, but they "exacerbate the problem of AIDS?" Seriously? Condemning them as against church teaching is one thing; but that's just a lie! Not that I'm surprised. The Catholic Church as a whole isn't exactly getting my full respect in regard to truth and respect of humanity lately. No surprise to my readers, I suppose, so no need to yell at something you already know. I have an article about that for my next post. Which should be a treat: there will be a new post!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A deletion and explanation

I don't know if anyone reads the blogs/sites I link to, but in case anyone does I wanted to point out that I deleted the link for the PhD in Parenting blog site. When I first read it, the blog seemed to be another perspective in parenting techniques, what's good for moms and dads, and kids, etc. But it's developed, or perhaps always was and I missed it, into a blog solely about breastfeeding. And I deleted it, because the author is very supportive of breastfeeding - yay her! I'm certainly not against it - but is also very dismissive of other choices (ie, formula and bottle-feeding). The author seemed to have a very superior attitude AGAINST those who could not or chose not to breastfeed. I hate this kind of thing. It's far too easy lately, or perhaps always, for mothers and women to get all up in arms about being the "best" mom. They have to brag - "Oh, I don't - well, clearly, you're not a good mom then...etc." (This is mostly attitudinal, although I've actually read it too) or "I had 'natural' childbirth and I'm so superior to you...etc."

So I exercised my prerogative and deleted the link to the site. I certainly have my own ideas about motherhood and parenting and women and women's issues. But one thing I really think is that women find it so easy to think of it as an 'us vs. them' kind of thing. Maybe it's because they don't honestly feel fulfilled in whatever choice they made, they're uneasy; maybe it's a societal non-support thing; maybe they don't realize they're doing it. But I was sick to death of reading this blog and thinking these women are acting sooo superior...and when I'm a mom, eventually, I certainly don't want to hear (even in someone's attitude) how the choices I make for me and my kid(s) are bad because that's 'not how I did it' etc.

I think this is one of those choice issues that people don't realize is a choice issue - we focus so much on abortion, birth control, abstinence, adoption, as the issues/theme of 'choice' that we don't talk about how women need to be able to choose what works for them in regard to being a mother (once they chosen to do so, of course) Now, if a person chooses child abuse, I'm not supportive of THAT obviously - I'm talking more of what works for them as parents and a family. There's no award given out to women who have 'natural' childbirth - so great you successfully had a baby. Get over how you did it and celebrate the event itself. There's no award given out if you do x, y, or z. Why can't we just celebrate women and men who are trying to be the best parents they can, regardless of HOW they're doing it?
Oh, and I know that how you take care of a child can reap personal awards - and that's great to talk about - but when it becomes a superiority thing, it's gone too far.

I guess I've said my piece. And I'd prefer not to get into a debate about how x, y, z, is better for the baby/kid - there are benefits and drawbacks to a lot of choices (childbirth, feeding, discipline, even religion!) but I concede - I may not agree with it...but I'll support it if I think it's in the best interest of kids in general (not in any official capacity of course...). Hopefully this made sense.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Further information and ants

So the link for my last post didn't work but I liked this guys reasoning so much that I figured I'd just post his rules and reasoning and get it further out there on the web. Also, I apparently have ants somewhere - I keep seeing a few everytime I sit down at the desk here and it's freaking me out, cause I don't know why. There appears to be no ant colony and no gross food or anything to keep them here...just an ant or two every time I sit down. Weird.

Four Reasons (According to Dale McGowan) that religious literacy (knowledge OF religion as opposed to belief IN it) is crucial:

1. To Understand the World
A huge percentage of the news includes a religious component. Add the fact that 90 percent of our fellow humans express themselves through religion and it becomes clear that ignorance of religion cuts our children off from understanding what is happening in the world around them - and why.

2. To Be Empowered
In the U.S. Presidential election of 2004, candidate Howard Dean identified Job as his favorite book of the New Testament. That Job is actually in the Old Testament was a trivial thing to most of us, but to a huge whack of the religious electorate, Dean had revealed a forehead-smacking level of ignorance about the central narrative to their lives. For those people, Dean was instantly discounted, irrelevant. Because we want our kids' voices heard in the many issues with a religious component, it's important for them to have knowledge of that component.

3. To make an informed decision.
I really, truly, genuinely want my kids to make up their own minds about religion, and I trust them to do so. Any nonreligious parent who boasts of a willingness to allow their kids to make their own choices but never exposes them to religion or religious ideas is being dishonest. For kids to make a truly informed judgement about it, they must have access to it.

4. To avoid the "teen epiphany."
Here's the big one. Struggles with identity, confidence, and countless other issues are a given part of the teen years. Sometimes these struggles generate a genuine personal crisis, at which point religious peers often pose a single question: "Don't you know about Jesus?" if your child says," No," the peer will come back incredulously with, "YOU don't know Jesus? Omigosh, JESUS IS THE ANSWER!" Boom, we have an emotional hijacking. And such hijackings don't end up in moderate Methodism. This is the moment when nonreligious teens fly all the way across the spectrum to evangelical fundamentalism.

A little knowledge about religion allows the teen to say, "Yeah, I know about Jesus"- and to know that reliable answers to personal problems are better found elsewhere.

So should you take your kids to a mainstream, bible-believing church? Hardly. They shouldn't get to age 18 without seeing the inside of a church, or you risk creating forbidden fruit. Take them once in awhile just to see what it's all about and to see there's no magical land of unicorns and fairies behind those doors. But know that churchgoing generally has squat to do with religious literacy. In Religious Literacy: What every American Needs to Know and Doesn't, Stephen Prothero points out that faithfully churchgoing Americans are incredibly ignorant of even the most basic tenets of their own belief systems, not to mention others. Europeans, on the other hand, are religiously knowledgeable AND rarely darken the door of a church.

Coincidence? I don't think so. Most European countries have mandated religious education and decidedly secular populations. Unless they attend a UU or Ethical Society, U.S. kids have almost no religious education. Faith is most easily sustained in ignorance. Learning about religion leads to THINKING about religion - and you know what happens then.

Mainstream churchgoing also exposes kids to a single religious perspective. That's not literacy - in fact, it usually amounts to indoctrination.

So how do you get religiously-literate kids?
I'll do these separately, so wait for the rest on other days and posts.

1. Talk, talk, talk.
All literacy begins with oral language. Toss tidbits of religious knowledge into your everyday conversations. If you drive by a mosque and your 4-year old points out the pretty gold dome, take the opportunity: "Isn't that pretty? It's a kind of church called a mosque. People who go there pray five times every day and they all face a city far away when they do it." No need to get into the five pillars of Islam. A few months later, you see a woman on the street wearing a hijab and connect it to previous knowledge: "Remember the mosque, the church with the gold dome? That's what some people wear who go to that church."

As kids mature, include more complex information - good, bad, and ugly. No discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr. is complete without noting that he was a Baptist minister, and that his religion was important to him. You can't grasp 9/11 without understanding Islamic afterlife beliefs. And the founding of our country is reframed by noting that the majority of the founders were religious skeptics of one stripe or another. Talk about the religious components of events in the news, from the stem cell debate to global warming to terrorism to nonviolence advocacy.

Hope you enjoyed his ideas - the link is on my blog for the entire post, if you don't want to wait. Like I said before, it's geared from a humanist perspective. But I still think the ideas are interesting for everyone.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I'm providing a link to one of my favorite sites and I think everyone will enjoy this guy's blog, although maybe from different viewpoints. He's posting about religious literacy and religious education - just for a warning, this is from the perspective of a humanist, but I think even people who are raising their kids with a specific religion might like some of his points. MIGHT, I said. So read and enjoy, and then we can talk about it. Maybe