My Turn.

J-Term finished for junior year - check. And, what did I learn from 4 weeks of immersion-style study of the Tudor period of England's history? Well, that Henry VII is by far my favorite monarch of that period, and that Elizabeth I had many similarities to her great-grandfather. I actually enjoyed learning about England in that most pivotal time that bridges the medieval ages and the early modern period leading into the industrial age. Fascinating. Oh, and reading Hamlet (again) wasn't too shabby, either.

So now I am on break - a week to relax at the beach house - prior to crankin' it up again for spring term. Unfortunately, I have never fully figured out how to do that relax-thing. I guess what I need most is solitude and a time to reflect on what I have learned and try to sort out what I see happening around me. And good music. I always need good music.

This year I have learned that there are natural hazards that are eventually gonna happen, like earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides, and that there is probably not a lot I can do about it. I also learned how unstable air masses equate to storms. Cool, huh? I have crawled inside the head and life of Martin Luther with one of the best professors ever. Not only can I describe in quite a bit of detail justification by grace, but also the fine nuances of Luther's relationship with his wife, and that he 'ate like a Bohemian, and drank like a German'! How 'bout that? Finally, I marched through the history of feminist and womanist theologies and wrote, for me, the longest paper to date - a whopping 15 pages of research. Phew! I loved the conclusions I discovered in that endeavor and will not soon forget some of the real reasons more women sit in the pews than men. So much to think about.

Time to file it all and get ready for the next adventure - a couple of basic religion courses (Religion and Culture, and History of the US Church), another upper division history course (this time the history of the US Woman), and then, just for fun, Anthro 101. Yep...back to Lucy and all her hominid friends. I actually took this course, or a diluted version, at community college and really enjoyed it. Time to pull those notes out, for sure! I have not taken 16 credits in a term prior, so this should be interesting.

But beyond all that, there are other matters attracting my attention, such as the presidential candidates jockeying for position - which is actually a complete and total joke. The country is divided, but to what extent? The US media never gives the full story. Who can make an educated decision when there is so much misinformation and garbage floating around? I feel for the staunch Republicans - what the heck are they gonna do? There is just not a candidate with integrity for them to rally behind. And, due to the intertwining of religion and conservative politics, so many will feel like they are sinning against God to vote other than Republican. What a mess. I understand that religion and politics have always been bosom-buddies, but it should not be so. Pulpits should not preach politics, and politicians should not pander to the religious in hopes of votes. It is a disservice to the voting public, and takes advantage of the laity. Seriously. It is not right. And it divides people along lines of belief - again, shameful. We should be working toward unity and compromise, as Queen Elizabeth I did during the Tudor period. We can do so much more, and be so much stronger, if we unite instead of divide into armed camps.

Jizo, protector of women,
children, and travelers
And then there is the continued struggle of women to hang onto reproductive rights. Women have been the oppressed group in a sexual caste for as long as all can remember - can it just be done now? Truly. Women have every right to determine what happens to their bodies - not politicians, not preachers, not the judge-y women at the Wednesday morning bible study. Women need equal pay for equal work, they need to be respected equally in society without objectification, and they need adequate access to reproductive health and medicine. I don't really give a crap if you don't 'believe' in abortion or birth control - unless it is you deciding for yourself, it is none of your damn business. I wish everyone would just get their self-righteous, religious nose out of other people's affairs.

I feel the same about those who continue to persecute those of the LGBT community. If a LGBT person makes you uncomfortable, it is your problem, not theirs. As a human and part of this post-modern society, for the life of me I cannot fathom oppressing certain groups of humans just because some think 'God said so.' First of all, I don't believe God said anything of the sort,* and I am wholeheartedly dismayed that those who claim to be the agents of a loving God on earth can justify denying the the well-being and acceptance of others. Misguided, for sure. It is my deepest desire for everyone to believe what they wish, and further, for those who are religious not to feel compelled to impose their beliefs on others. I really don't think that is too much to ask. Unfortunately, I think it is a case of misinformed, even manipulated, laity that causes the most harm to everyone. And I don't have a clue how to fix it. This keeps me up at night, truly. I just read that 30-something LGBT Mormon teens have committed suicide since the proclamations of the leadership in recent months. This is a most grievous transgression of the very edicts of Christianity, and they most certainly have blood on their hands. Shameful, to be sure, but also calls the whole denomination into question. Revelation...really? Oh, they are not the only religious institution that has blood on their hands, to be sure - throughout history many have been killed, maimed, tortured, and harmed either physically or mentally by those who deem themselves the righteous of God. I question their motives, and those of all who oppress, persecute, belittle, proselytize, and condemn those who don't ascribe to their narrow interpretation of the Bible. No one has the corner on the market of religious righteousness, and judging others to the point of harm or oppression is evil. Period.
Yeah, this is heavy on my mind.

With all these things floating around in my head, and in my facebook feed, how can I relax? My smart daughter has suggested deleting her facebook account...not a bad idea. It is always an option, I suppose. For now, I think I'll put that in the hopper, along with all the rest of this junk, and go read a book.

*Don't believe me? Get yourself some scholarly, non-religious exegesis on the subject, then we'll talk.