By now, you know that Trump withdrew the United States from its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.  I don't want to go into details about what the United States actually agreed to do in the accord or what our withdrawal from the accord means for the environment.  I have deliberately avoided reading any other articles encouraging you to keep doing your part for the environment.  I wanted what I had to say be my own words, even if I'm sharing the same brain with other people.  So please be patient with me, especially if you've read articles like that since June 1.

Now then.

The thing about international climate agreements like Kyoto and Paris is that it's the countries working together to lower fossil fuel emissions and greenhouse gases.  The key is that we're working together.  One country can work towards those goals, sure, but it's more effective if other countries are working towards the same goals.

In the words of the Wonderpets, "What's gonna work?  Team work!"

Yes, the United States has withdrawn from the agreement.  That's not a good thing.  But Americans can still make a difference.  Are you recycling?  Great!  Please keep doing it.  Do you run a small (or large) business that is consciously using green practices to reduce your carbon footprint?  Excellent!  Please keep doing it.  Do you walk or bike to work several times a week?  Fantastic!  Please keep doing it.  Are you eating less meat? I mean, I know, think of all that yummy pulled pork you're missing out on, but it's still a sustainable move.  Please keep doing it.

There are so many things that we, as individuals, can do to live healthier, more eco-friendly, and sustainable lives.  While it would be better for the United States to be in this agreement instead of withdrawing from it, that doesn't mean change can't happen.  It means that I, and you, and our families and friends here in the US need to keep doing all those small things that help the environment--because all of us individually doing lots of small things will make a difference.

I'm frustrated by the lack of forward-thinking in the current Federal Administration, but instead of letting my frustration consume me, I'm going to continue to incorporate an increasing number of environmentally-friendly practices in all areas of my life.  You keep up the good work too.

 

(Warning: NSFW due to language.)

 

Bitch.  Cunt.  Pussy.  Sissy. Douchebag.  Twat.  Boob.  Slut.  Whore.  Skank.  Slag.  Tramp.  Prude.  Frigid.  Lesbo.  Diva.  Feminazi.

In just those few words, I could be insulted for being a jerk, weak, stupid, a person who likes to have a lot of sex, a person who doesn't like to have sex, a lesbian, dramatic, or a passionate feminist.  Five of those are insults based on feminine body parts.  The others are based on just being a woman.  At least five of those (pussy, sissy, douchebag, twat, boob) are also used to insult men.

Compare that to gendered insults based specifically on the masculine:

Dick.  Prick.  Bonehead.

The list is significantly shorter and based on just one male body part.  They are used in place of jerk and stupid.  There aren't really any insults for men who like to have sex; in fact, most cultures celebrate men who have many sexual partners at the very same time they are denigrating the women with whom the men are having all this sex.

In "The Harmless Sounding Phrase That is Terrible for All Women," Karen Rinaldi writes:

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about another friend’s husband who had called his wife a “stupid bitch” in front of their daughters in a moment of anger. He later apologized to the family. He’d had a hard day at the office. He didn’t really mean what he’d said, and he’d humbled himself in front of his wife and kids. We knew that he was basically a good guy. Basically a good guy. 

And that’s the phrase that kept swirling in my head. It occurred to me that the common refrain, “He is basically a good guy,” confirms one of our most pervasive biases. A colleague who made a sexist remark in a meeting? Well, we think, he didn’t mean it. He’s basically a good guy. The young man who insulted his date in front of his friends? He didn’t think she would take it so personally. He’s really a good guy...

When has anyone ever heard, as a pardon for a woman’s bad behavior, “She is basically a good woman?” Never. Because as frequently as we hear, “He’s basically a good guy,” we also hear, “She’s such a bitch.” Women are not so readily forgiven for their transgressions, no matter how small. The woman who refuses to accept blame at work for something she didn’t do? The woman who disagreed with her date in front of his friends? The wife who got too drunk at the neighborhood party?

A woman in a position of power in the workplace is called "Bossy;" her male counterpart is  called a "Leader."

Wives and girlfriends"Nag" their partners about things that need to be done; husbands and boyfriends "Remind" their partners of the same things.

A woman who forgets a few things is called "blonde" or "ditzy" or "airhead;"  a man who forgets a few things has a "momentary memory lapse."

Calling out a man for misogyny is usually reserved for blatant acts of physical and/or emotional abuse or assault.  We're really quick to call a man who physically abuses his wife or girlfriend a wife beater.  But what about the man who jokingly calls his partner a bitch or slut?  What about the men who catcall the girl walking down the street minding her own  business?  What about the father who calls his son a sissy because he cries when he's upset?  Or what about the baseball coach who tells the boys on his team that they throw like girls?  How about the teacher that claims boys do better in math than girls?

Misogyny isn't just about being outspoken in your hatred of women.  It's in the little things like jokingly calling a woman a bitch or slut because she did something that offended you or had any sexual partners before you.  Like catcalling a girl as if she is public property because she's walking down a public street.  Like calling your son a sissy for crying or telling a boy he throws like a girl, as if women are inherently lesser than men and telling a boy he's acting like a girl is the ultimate insult.

Misogyny is all about men who believe that women are weaker than them, not as smart as them, not allowed as many privileges as them, more emotional than them, and generally just not as good as them.

Men > women.

Language is powerful.  I'm super tired of misogyny and I'm super tired of the language it creates.  I'm tired of being told women are weak and that I'm weak because I'm a woman.

#Resist #NeverthelessShePersisted

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Earth Day/Care of Creation Day!

Do you want to be a better environmentalist and steward, but you're not really sure how to start?  Today is the perfect day for you to make some changes, and here's a list of some things you can do that are easy.

Getting coffee or tea on the way to work?  Take your own coffee mug to your local cafe.  Better still: make coffee at home.  You'll save about $5 and won't use a disposable coffee cup.

When you stop to get gasoline, check your tire pressure.  If it's low, fill up your tires.  Tires that aren't completely filled make your car less fuel-efficient.

Take public transportation for the day, if possible.  If not, carpool.  Better still: skip the car or bus to bike or walk to work.  It's Spring!  Get out there for some fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and reduce fuel emissions.

Need water when you're at the gym?  Get that reusable water bottle out and actually use it instead of buying a bottle of water.  Plastic bottles are one of the largest sources of disposables in landfills and the bottled water industry is contributing to the loss of fresh water.

If you haven't started using reusable grocery bags yet, go get some.  You can buy cloth bags at most stores now, and they usually cost about $2, depending on their quality.  They're far better for the environment than plastic bags, which are finding their way into landfills and oceans.  Think paper bags are a good choice?  They're better than plastic, but not as good as cloth because they still use trees.  Cloth bags are reusable, washable, and strong, so you can pack a lot of groceries in one bag and not worry about busting a bag or breaking a handle.  Pro tip:  Keep your bags by the front door or in the car so that you never forget them when you need them. 

Adjust your thermostat.  If you still have the heat on, first of all, I'm sorry.  I hope Spring shows up for you soon.  Now turn the thermostat down to at least 68F.  Go lower if you can stand it.  If you're cold, put on a sweater or snuggle in some blankets and grab a hot beverage.  Already have the air conditioning on?  I'm sorry to you too.  Unless you live near a beach, then I take my sorry back.  Turn the air up to at least 72F, and 74F is better.  If you're still hot, turn on some fans and drink a couple of glasses of ice water.  Keeping your heat lower and your air higher will save you money because you're using less electricity.

Need some new clothes? Shop at a consignment or resale shop.  Not only will you spend less on new-to-you clothing, you'll be reusing items.  Reusing clothing helps the environment and reduces the use of modern-day slavery in sweatshops.  Better still: repair damaged items you already own so you can continue to wear them.

Turn off the lights.  When you leave the a room, turn off the lights.  Before you leave the house for the day turn off the lights.  It's silly, and a waste of electricity, to light a room no one will be in.

Take a shorter shower and don't use the hottest water.  You don't need to soak in the shower.  Long showers waste water.  Using steaming hot water wastes the electricity needed to heat the water.  Save some of the warm water for the next person who has to take a shower.  (If you hear the sound of laughter right now, it's my parents and husband laughing at me as they read this suggestion.  Try as I might, I can't take a short shower.)

Shop at your local farmer's market.  Chances are, you're not going to save money shopping at the farmer's market, because prices are usually comparable to the grocery store (this varies by area and which grocery store you normally shop).  On the other hand, you'll be buying food that was grown or raised locally, usually within a 200 mile radius, which uses less fuel than grocery store food that is shipped from other states and hundreds of miles away.  Farmer's market products might not be certified organic, but in many cases they will have been grown or raised without herbicides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, etc., and farmers take pride in letting you know this.  You'll also be getting food that is in season and tastes better than its grocery store counterpart.

Repeat.  Don't just do these things today.  Use your reusable water bottles every time you're traveling and your cloth grocery bags every time you go shopping.  Shop your local farmer's market as often as possible.  Make your own coffee every day.  Make a habit of keeping the thermostat at a more energy-efficient temperature and turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Take public transportation as often as possible.  Keep your car tires filled up.  Take a shorter shower every day.  These are all little things, but little things add up.

You don't have to aim for perfection.  Make one change today if that's all you can manage.  Master that change, and when it becomes a habit, make another change.  It might take you a while, but once you've made all of these little changes habits, you'll have reduced the amount of the earth's resources you use.  Some of these things, like making your own coffee or using a reusable water bottle, take a little more planning ahead, but the few extra minutes will save you money and make you a better steward.

If you are a Christian, you are called to be a good steward of the King's property.  This earth is His creation and His property.  Not ours.  If we love Him, he asks us to obey Him, and to obey Him is take care of His property and the people He loves.  By taking care of the King's earth, we  also take care of His people.

What are some easy ways for people to be better stewards and environmentalists if they're just starting out?  Leave your suggestions in the comments!

 

This is what a feminist looks like. (Via Strange Politics)

I am a feminist.

Why?  Because I support women being completely equal to men in all aspects of life.

This is also what a feminist looks like.

 

I have believed this all of my life, but it wasn't until a few years ago that I would actually call myself a feminist.  I would tell you for sure that I believed women and men should be equal, but the term "feminist" had (and still does, to some extent) such negative connotations:

Feminists want women to be greater than men.

Feminists hate men.

Feminism is redundant because women already have the same rights and privileges as men.

Etc.

None of this is true, of course.  There are some women who think women should be greater than men or who hate men.  By definition, they are not feminists.  People who think women already have the same rights and privileges as men forget that it's easier for a man to get a prescription for Viagra than it is for a woman to get a prescription for contraception, even though contraception has been around longer than Viagra.  Or forget that a woman still only earns about 80 cents for the same work as a man who makes $1 for that work.

Sally Ride, Astronaut and Physicist.

Feminists come in all genders, races, belief systems, occupations, levels of education, etc.

I've been a Christian since I was sixteen.  Jesus stands up for women.  He loves the women that mortal men look down on, He doesn't condemn the women that mortal men would condemn, and women are as much a part of His ministry as men.  I have never, ever believed that Jesus thinks women are lesser beings than men, and if the Savior thinks that women and men are equal, then shouldn't we all think the same thing?

But when I was younger, I was more conservative than I am now, and what was--and is--expected of conservative Christian women is to support patriarchy.

Because the Bible says that women shouldn't be in positions of leadership in the church.

Because the Bible says that women should submit to men, especially their husbands.

Because the Bible says that women are unclean once a month or after childbirth.

Because a woman was created from a man's rib bone.

But people forget about Deborah, who was one of the Judges of Ancient Israel.  Or Rahab, a prostitute, who protected two of Joshua's spies as they enterd Canaan.  Or Esther, who saved the Israelites from bloodthirsty Haman because she was married to (and held influence with) King Xerxes.  Or Junia, (Romans 16:7) who was an apostle.  Or the four unmarried daughters of Phillip who were prophetesses (Acts 21:9).  Or Euodia, Syntyche, and Phoebe (Phil. 4:2-3; Romans 16:1-2) who were ministers in the Churches in Phillipi and Cenchrea.  Or Priscilla, who along with her husband Aquila, were church leaders in Ephesus and taught Apollos the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26).

People forget that when Paul says that women should submit to their husbands, he gives an even stronger command to men: Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for it (Eph. 5:25)  In other words, men, if you want a wife to submit to you, you have to be willing to sacrifice and die for her.

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist. (Courtesy sarahbessey.com)

So with all of these things, why is it so difficult for some people to understand that women are equal to men?

Do they think women are weak? Why?  Is it because our muscles are smaller, our bone structure is generally smaller, we bleed once a month, and carry the next generation in our wombs?

Those things don't make us weaker than men.  They make us strong.  We can exercise and weight lift to build up our muscles and bones.  Our bodies are created to prepare for pregnancy and nurture life.  In those times when we are not pregnant, we bleed and cramp and are sometimes miserable.  When we are pregnant and in labor we are sick from hormones and sore from a growing child and then in pain as we wait to welcome that child into the world.

And if we choose to not ever become pregnant (which is a totally valid choice for women, by the way, so quit asking when she's going to have a kid), we still get to bleed and cramp once a month until we're over the age of 40.

Do they think women are just lesser than men? We can do science (Marie Curie, Shirley Ann Jackson, Mae Carol Jemison), literature (J.K. Rowling, Louise Fitzhugh, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan), and math (Hypatia, Marjorie Lee Browne, Raman Parimala) just as well as any man.

 

Shirley Ann Jackson, Theoretical Physicist and President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

 

Marjorie Lee Browne, PhD. in Mathematics and Math educator.

Maybe it's because women just aren't as good as men, that anything feminine is lesser, weaker, ickier, and worse than anything that is masculine.  Think about it: when was the last time you used a gendered insult like, "bitch," "douchebag," "cunt," "pussy," or "whore" when what you really meant was "asshole," "weak," or "promiscuous?"

When was the last time you heard someone put down a man because he was displaying typically-feminine traits?

When was the last time you heard someone trash talk a transgender woman?

Stef Sanjati, Transgender Activist

Or a fat woman?  Or a skinny woman?

Jes Baker, Body Positivity Activist, Blogger (themilitantbaker.com), and Author of "Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls."

Women, you're not weak.  You deserve the same right and privileges that men have.

Men, stand up for us.  We're your mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, aunts, nieces, cousins, and friends.  We're not just placeholders and the people who do the housework.  We deserve to be treated as equals because we do equal (and sometimes more) work and we do it just as well as you do.

This is Women's History Month, and today, March 8, is International Women's Day.  Stand up for equality, and be the best and most badass feminist you can be.

 

 

 

My personality dictates that I’m a by-the-book person.  I have been this way all my life.  When one follows the rules, one doesn’t get into trouble.  When one follows the rules, one makes people in authority happy.  Since I don’t like conflict, and I prefer to keep peace between myself and the people I associate with, I follow the rules.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t surprise you that when I was younger, I was pretty conservative.  When I made the decision to follow Christ at the age of 16, my faith cemented my conservative beliefs.  When I was able to vote for the first time, I voted Republican, and I was proud of it.  Most of my friends were conservative, my boyfriend (now husband) was a staunch Republican, and I had been raised in a fairly right of center home.  God was on our side!  Not the side of those pesky liberals!

I stayed conservative until I was about twenty-nine.  And then I went back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree.

I’ll back up a bit now.  I had been concerned about the plight of the poor in our country for a while, and felt a strong call to work with the homeless “when I grew up.” (I’ll let you know when that grown up thing happens, ha)  I was interested in learning what I could do to help the poor.

I took a class on geopolitics my senior year of college, and some of the articles we read were about how what we do affects the poor in this country and all over the world.  One of the articles was about the use of land to raise livestock versus the use of land to raise vegetables and grains, and how studies have shown that more protein is available for food from land used to raise vegetables and grains than is available from land use to raise livestock for food.  After mulling that over for a while, and deciding that I wanted to support farm practices that are better for feeding those who are hungry, I became a vegetarian (technically a pescetarian, since I still eat fish, but I’m mostly vegetarian).  As I’ve explained before, becoming a vegetarian caused me to become more aware of the environmental concerns  surrounding eating meat, which led me to a greater awareness of environmental concerns in general.  This led me to becoming a practicing environmentalist, then into a MA program to learn about how what we do to the environment affects people all over the world and how Christians should become better stewards of the environment to show their love not only for God, but for the rest of His creation.  Learning about stewardship in one area led me to learning about stewardship in other areas.  But what this all comes down to is a single purpose: God loves the poor, and He wants us to love them as much as He does.

So many conservative Christians believe, and rightly so, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2: 8-9) and reject a works-based salvation.  Which is good and fine.  But they forget that right belief and right practice go hand-in-hand, because “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).  When it comes to salvation, what we believe about Jesus is important; however, our belief about Jesus is on the other side of the same coin that says that if we truly believe what we say we believe, we will put those beliefs to work in the world.  James, in his lead up to the last verse of the chapter, says it this way:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”And he was called the friend of God.  You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?   For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

I bring this up now because a friend I’ve known since I was ten posted something on Facebook a few days ago about the Occupy movement.  This friend said that the pastor’s sermon at Church Sunday mentioned that while the Occupy movement is mainly concerned with the top 1% of the United States, from a global perspective, everyone in the United States is in the top 1%.  Which is true.  Even the homeless people in the United States are better off than the well-to-do in some very poor countries, because the homeless here can often find heated or air conditioned shelter and a meal at a moment’s notice.  They have clean water and can probably find a way to make money for the necessities pretty easily.

That’s not the way of the rest of the world.  In reality, all United States’ citizens are spoiled.

That statement on Facebook led to a lively discussion about liberals, Socialist/Marxist thought, the American poor vs. the poor of the Global South, and what Jesus really thinks we should be doing.    So as not to offend my friend or any of my friend’s friends, I stayed out of it.

Because I’m not that conservative anymore.

Truth be told, I’m what people would call a liberal, but I really strain against that label.  When handing out political labels, opponents tend to use those terms – liberal and conservative – as slurs:  “those damn (insert opposing political affiliation here), they’re so stupid!  Always basing their politics on their feelings, and never thinking about what they really believe and the ramifications those beliefs have on the world!”  There also seems to be a strong feeling that liberals don’t follow the rules.

Am I wrong, or have I gotten the sentiment right?

I really, really don’t want people to think that I haven’t thought about my beliefs.  I really don’t want people to think I’m stupid or thoughtless.  And sometimes I think I horrify people I’ve been friends with since childhood because I used to be so conservative, and now I’m a vegetarian environmentalist with Socialist leanings — who likes to quote Scripture to back it all up.  When it comes down to it, I still like to follow the rules, but now I have a much broader perspective on what the rules are.

So, you think I’m liberal, folks?  Here’s what Jesus said and did:

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,  saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” (Matthew 8:1-7)

Jesus healed people.  The Gospels are full of stories of people coming to Jesus for healing.  Sometimes they asked, sometimes they didn’t, but they all got healed – free of charge.

 

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air havenests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  (Matthew 8:20)

Jesus was homeless.  You know all those people that live on the streets, in shelters, or on friends’ couches?  Yeah, Jesus was one of them.  He was a vagrant, a tramp, or a hobo.  But the point is, He did not have a home.

Freely you have received, freely give.  Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts,  nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. (Matthew 10:8-10)

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.  (Matthew 16:24-27)

Jesus told those who followed Him to leave their stuff behind and deny themselves.

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is:‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  And you shalllove the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44-45)

But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.  And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)

The Greatest Commandment is to love God; the second, which Jesus said was like the first, is to love our neighbor.  Jesus also said to love our enemies, bless them, do good to them, and pray for them.

 

Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

Jesus told us to be humble, for in our humility, we are justified before God.

 

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.  And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”  So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.  But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;  for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”(Luke 19:1-10)

Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call therighteous, but sinners, to repentance.”(Mark 2:15-17)

The Pharisees, the ones who wanted to look righteous in the eyes of everyone, looked down on Jesus, questioning his character because He spent his time with tax collectors and sinners.

And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.  When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.  Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”
But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:34-37)

 

Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, theblind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)

 

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ 19 ‘Honor your father andyour mother,’and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth.  What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-24)

Jesus told the disciples to feed the people who had come to hear Him speak.  He told us to invite the poor, the lame, the maimed, and the blind to dinner and not expect anything in return.  And He told a rich man that to achieve perfection, he should sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor.

 

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:24-29)

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45)

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)

And then Jesus told us to follow His commands, even going so far as to ask why we would call him Lord (from the Latin Dominus, which means “Master”) if we’re not going to do the things He tells us to do.

This guy is our example, people.  We’re told to follow a homeless man who didn’t give a rat’s ass about our possessions.  He told us to love the people that hate us, serve the poor, be humble, hang out with sinners, and — as if those things aren’t a kick to our pride and self-righteousness — obey him if we really want to call Him our Master.

He didn’t tell us that it’s OK to buy a lot of stuff, judge people for what they look like or who they hang out with, or ignore the poor.  Yet I see a lot of conservatives doing just that.

To be fair, the liberals aren’t doing so well either.

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)  His commands weren’t conservative or liberal; Jesus was a radical, and His commandments are radical.  They go against the very core of who we are as fallen people.  Yet, to truly follow Jesus, we have to live out these radical commands.

So to my friends, whom I love very much: I know I seem like one of those bleeding-heart liberals, but I’m just trying to follow my Master and obey His rules.  I fail a lot, but I just keep trying.

Written by Stephanie Moulton and originally posted on November 10, 2011 at Flood.

Most of the blogs I read center on religion.  I have always been fascinated by religion and myths.  I was reading Greek and Roman mythology seriously by the time I was seven or eight, but had no idea that there was mythology beyond that.  In junior high, I was introduced to Celtic and Norse mythology, and in high school, I had friends who were (are) Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, agnostic, and atheist.  We read the myths of these religions in our lit classes, and I had conversations with my agnostic and atheist friends about their lack of beliefs.

Religion still fascinates me, but now I also want to find out how others make their beliefs practical.  I don’t know if that’s a function of becoming an adult, having a higher education, just being a pessimist, or something else.  But I really enjoy reading about what other people believe and how they put those beliefs into practice.

And so the blogs I read are about what others believe and how they put their beliefs into practice.  One of the blogs I read regularly is Drew Jacob’s Rogue Priest.  Drew is a Celtic polytheist following what he calls The Hero’s Path.  (I would explain it, but out of respect for Drew, it’s probably better if you read his blog and allow him to tell you his story; I’m just bound to get it all wrong, and it’s an amazing story that shouldn’t be told wrong.)  In a post a few weeks ago, he writes about how he gave up a belief in the soul.  The blog post links to an article he wrote for another site that tells the complete story.

The comments on this post are what spurred what I write to you now.  As I said, Drew no longer believes in this thing call the soul.  One of his regular readers, who is also a polytheist but has differing beliefs, believes that everything on the planet is ensouled; not just people, but animals, plants, and if I understand what she said correctly, soil, rocks, and other inanimate objects too. (I would ask you to please not make fun of her beliefs, and I will make sure that any comments that do are removed).  Here is the part of her comments that jumped out at me:

The particular dangerous belief hidden in insistence that only brains create consciousness is one Christianity and materialism already embrace, that of a de-souled world, which leaves deserts and polluted wastelands in its wake. People who believe in ensouled nature usually take better care of the environment, because they believe in sustainability and regeneration, not exploitation. Truth? At this point, I think environmental degradation is an issue so desperate I don’t even care if it’s provably true or not, I want people to embrace any belief necessary to save our collective life support systems, because they are so horribly damaged and fragile. So yes, I actually do believe in nature spirits and reincarnation, but I want other people to believe in them too because I don’t see much else that will get people off their butts to protect the wilds which give our planet its lungs and recycling capabilities.

While I believe in the soul and that every human (at least) has one, I don’t believe in a completely ensouled world.  The idea of an ensouled world  is an old one that many modern Pagans/polytheists hold true, and it is the reason why many Pagans/polytheists are better at taking care of the environment than those of us who don’t believe in a wholly ensouled creation.  Think about it: if  you believe that every tree, blade of grass, bit of soil, and drop of water has a soul, you’ll be more likely to take good care of those parts of creation.  Those things aren’t just resources for you to use, they are living things with spirits that can feel pain or joy, and their worth is inherent — they are valuable in and of themselves, and because they were created by Deity. But if you believe that only humans (or humans and animals, at the most) have souls, you are more likely to see trees, soil, and water as resources to be used for our pleasure and gain, with no worth other than what we assign to them.  Even if you believe that God created all, you might think that He created all for our pleasure, purpose, and gain.

And this is why so many Christians think that taking care of the earth and being a good environmental steward makes a person a Pagan.  Because obviously, if you are taking care of the earth, you must believe that it’s because everything on earth has a soul and consciousness, which means that you don’t really believe in the Christian God, and therefor, you must be Pagan.  And good Christians stay away from anything Pagan.

Right?

Fortunately, the number of Christians who believe in taking care of creation is growing.  You don’t have to be a Pagan or a polytheist or an atheist to be an environmentalist, and being an environmentalist does not make someone a Pagan, polytheist, or atheist.  We believe in taking care of the earth because God created it.  While we realize that everything on earth is a resource, we dislike the word “resource” because it makes everything it touches a tool for our use with no worth beyond what we give it.  We recognize that we can’t live without the soil, air, water, and all the many things that are produced therein, but we also know that God created all things.  And because God created those things, they all have worth beyond what we humans could ever assign to them.  They are valuable because God created them, and they have value simply because they exist.  So while we must use those things to grow food, make clothes and houses, and all the other things we need to live, we also understand that using those things God created makes us responsible for taking care of those things God created.

Unlike this commenter, I do not think that every single part of God’s creation has a soul; but like this commenter, I believe that environmental degradation is a desperate issue and that our life support systems are damaged and fragile.  We go the way of the earth, and if we damage or kill it, we do the same to ourselves.  In our desire to use and consume our “resources,” we are slowly killing life on earth — including ours.

If you believe that God created the earth, it is time (if you haven’t already) to start taking care of the earth.  Do you believe this world is a gift?  Put that into practice.  Begin taking care of like it’s the best gift you’ve ever been given.  Take better care of it than you would your grandmother’s bone china or your great Uncle’s hunting rifle:  handle it with gentleness, keep it clean, treat it with respect.  If you wouldn’t feed something to your child, don’t dump it in the soil, water, or air.

God created the earth, and he left it in our hands to be good stewards.  If we believe that God loves us and created us, then it is time for us to be the environmental stewards He has told us to be.

Written by Stephanie Moulton and originally posted January 10, 2013 at Flood.

OK, look.  I know Amazon is cheap.  You can buy anything there and they have really fast shipping.  I used to shop there too, until I read an article a few years ago about how they treat their warehouse employees.  That article alone was enough to make me close my account and not look back.  And I keep telling people that Amazon is as bad to their employees as Wal-Mart (I don’t shop there, either).

Don’t believe me or think this is just one case?

Workers in Amazon’s LeHigh Valley warehouse worked in hot conditionsbecause the warehouse didn’t have air conditioning.  Mac McClelland wrote in April 2012 about Amazon’s (“Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide, Inc.”) ridiculously high work goals for even the new employees and the sometimes inhumane working conditions.  Pay and working conditions have been the source of strikes at German warehouses.  The Seattle Human Rights Commission wrote a letter to Amazon’s CEO asking him to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against security officers.

Is that not enough information about how Amazon treats its workers to convince you to not shop there?  If not, maybe this article on how Amazon treats its white-collar management and administrative workers will convince you to quit shopping there:

  1. Workers are encouraged to rip apart co-workers’ ideas during meetings;
  2. Long work hours and working during off-time is almost-mandatory;
  3. Workers with medical or family issues are given low performance ratings and called “difficult” or “problematic”; and
  4. Recruiters from other companies hesitate to employ former Amazon employees because they are trained to be combative.

And why is all of this done?

The focus is on relentless striving to please customers, or “customer obsession” (No. 1), with words like “mission” used to describe lightning-quick delivery of Cocoa Krispies or selfie sticks.

Ladies and gentlemen, these shit conditions happen because we–you and I–want cheap goods fast, and rather than borrowing what we need from a neighbor, going to the locally-owned store to get what we need (and support local business), or going to a second-hand store to get what we want, we would rather buy our goods from companies that treat other human beings like subhuman creatures.

How can we care so little about how other humans are treated?

Please, people.  Stop shopping at Amazon.

Written by Stephanie Moulton and originally posted August 17, 2015 at Revolution.