The one about parenting children of a different religion

*I know I owe you all a post about work, but there are things that I can’t put out here. Let’s just say I am back at work and there have been some changes implemented, but I am in the same job with the same supervisors*

So it is December. And all of the retail places are kicking our butts with holiday music. Seriously, it started before Thanksgiving this year. If I hear “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time” one more time, I will have to go postal.

December in the Casa de Space means the endless questions of why don’t Jews get even time in the holidays (2% girls! You’re part of the 2%) It is hard for me to really get their concerns because, well, I was raised Christian in a Christian society. I may now be atheist, but growing up, the whole Christmas thing made sense and it was my holiday. Now as a cynical adult, I can split the religion from the secular parts of Christmas and deal. I can tell that my kids can’t.

We don’t do both. We’re not both. We do Hanukkah. Every year, since Soleil was young, we’ve had a Hanukkah party. We make a ton of latkes (traditional fried potato pancakes) put out some other foods and roll with it. Sour cream? Fattening latkes and jelly donuts? Oh yeah, we’re all over that! We even have some drediels out to play that traditional “Let’s teach the kids how to gamble with chocolate”. Seriously, who decided that was a good idea? We don’t do electric lights, we don’t do trees, we just do Hanukkah.

So when Luna found out the competition she was attending in December was canceled, she wanted to do the holiday show for the Learn to Skate club that she works. Of course, she’ll be gone the week of the holiday show and the coaches suggested something for Hanukkah. In 1 hour, this girl got her coach to download the song “Candlelight” by the Maccabeats and she designed a routine to go with it. Amazing.

She’s still upset about Christmas dominating her world. She doesn’t know what to do with it or how to relate with others. I am at a loss. How many people out there parent a child from a different religion or culture? How do you handle these sorts of issues?

The one about the GOP on abortion.

Every four years, I get very sick of the politics in our country. Last time, it was all about patriotism. Now we are all up in your face about women’s rights, gay rights and the economy.

This post was going to be all about how I hate politics, but in light of yesterday’s announcement from the GOP, I had to change it.

This is now the one about the GOP on abortion. IF you are against abortion, if you follow the GOP stance, please read. I have lots of gray to show you.

This will be long, so get some coffee and sit back. Ready?

First, a story
In 1999, Dr. Jay and I started the simple task of getting pregnant. Pretty easy,right? Some fun too, right? After 6 months of nothing, I was getting very upset. After 8 months, we scheduled an appointment to see my doctor. She was soon not to be my doctor. She was late to the appointment and was pretty flip about everything. She immediately went into the false notion that stress causes infertility. If you follow that link, you’ll find that while there is a link between stress and infertility, it is not clear which causes which.

She sent me to have my fallopian tubes checked (HSG) and I discovered that yes, my tubes were open and yes, I am allergic to contrast dye (never a good thing). It has been documented that the HSG test irritates the cilia in the tubes and can improve the chances of becoming pregnant. I lucked out and we conceived that month of the HSG.

I was excited, thrilled and not the least bit scared. We found an OB and set up an 8 week appointment. Dr. Jay and I went in on a Thursday. We did all of the normal tests and then had the ultrasound. The tech did all of the measurements and I dressed and we waited for the doctor.

I remember that she was a very nice women who explained, by doodling a heart shape on her doctor pad, the ultrasound measured the fetus at 5weeks and there was no heartbeat. She wanted to redo the ultrasound on Monday, just in case the measurements were off. I knew the truth. She was gone. As we left, I called my little one Pathfinder, as she at least proved that I could get pregnant(no, I never knew the gender, but Patherfinder is female).

I had to go to the office alone the next time as Dr. Jay was away on an observing run. The measurements were exactly the same. This time, the doctor explained to me that this was called an “incomplete abortion”. The baby failed to develop, but my body had not recognized this yet. I was still producing the proper hormones for my body to think I was still growing a baby. My options were to wait it out until I fully miscarried (this could take up to 4 more weeks), have a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure to remove the baby, or wait another week to check again. I asked how likely was it that there would be a heart beat in another week. She said, at this point, close to 0%, but it was what I wanted. It was my choice.

Dr. Jay was heading home when I sent his phone a call. I had arranged for the D&E to be the next day. He would be home for it.

We went to the hospital together. I could barely talk I was so overcome with grief, but the receptionist was very rude to Dr. Jay and made it clear that she thought he was pushing me into this. I had to finally pull myself together and tell her “the baby is dead. Just give us the information he’s asking for.” Fortunately, the staff in the hospital was much nicer. We had a 2 hour delay as someone had a medical emergency during birth. I did not envy that women at all, even if she was getting her child I was not. I had to sign a parental consent form for the disposal and I was asked if I wanted to have the body saved. I said no.

When I woke up, all was done. I had a wicked headache, an empty stomach and a broken heart. We left after about 30 minutes and went to IHOP where we ate and were just sad.

It wasn’t until after Soleil and Luna were born that I discovered something terrible. As the link I posted states, D&E are abortions. The word abortion, in medical speak, means to end a pregnancy. The condition of the fetus does not matter. I wrote to the CDC and asked “If I had a D&E for a miscarriage, how is that reported to you?” The answer back chilled me. It depended on the hospital. Generally, D&E are counted as abortions. When you see from the CDC the number of abortions in a year?

Yeah, Pathfinder was an abortion.

Doesn’t matter that she would never live.

Doesn’t matter that I carried a dead fetus in me for 3 weeks.

This is one of the reasons I am angry at the GOP. Under their new “personhood” ideas, I would have been forced to carry pathfinder until my body figured it out. That could have taken up to another month.

I have two friends who discovered their child had trisomy-18. Most trisomy-18 children don’t make it to birth. One friend decided to terminate the pregnancy. One didn’t find out until it was past the date of legal termination. He died in utero and was induced at 32 weeks. I photographed his birth. It was devastating to his parents. It was as devastating to this friend as the one who chose to terminate.

I follow Cecily who had to terminate her son to save her own life. His twin had died. She had developed pre-eclampsia. She would have died if she had not delivered the second child.
My cousin developed pre-eclampsia in her 30th week of pregnancy with triplets. In this case, all three survived and are entering 3rd grade. Her choice was deliver and hope for the best, or die.
In Luna’s pregnancy, I developed ante-partum depression. I had to go back on my antidepressants to not commit suicide as the hormones were that strong.

These are real people with real difficult decisions. The GOP would have us believe that women decide one day while walking down the street “Wow, this is too much, I’ll have an abortion” and jump into a clinic. The world is not the black and white. Do women choose to have abortions? yes. Do they choose because it isn’t convenient right now? Some do. Some don’t. Do they choose because they were raped? Does it matter their choice?

Listen, pregnancy is a very unique situation. Two lives in one. A male can never experience the wonder of a pregnancy. Nor can they ever experience the pain of losing a pregnancy. They can never understand what it is like to have to make that choice because no man ever had to.

It was my choice to have the D&E. Others who are not doctors, who do not know my situation want to tell me what to do. I am having signs of perimenaupause. This issue may not be terribly relevant to me soon. But it will matter to me as a person.

It is time for the GOP to step back and stop attacking my rights to make my own decisions. I have two daughters. I am raising them with a strong code of what is right and wrong and pushing YOUR religion on someone else is wrong. Deciding that you know best for everyone in every situation is wrong. Deciding that an unborn child’s life is more important than the living is wrong.

I don’t want my children growing up in a world where men, men who can’t even understand the basics of the female reproductive system, are outlawing how they care for their body.

Abortion is not a black or white. Is it not even stopping a beating heart in all cases. What abortion involves is a large gray mass and the only morals to be invoked in this situation are the ones the woman who is pregnant can handle. This is currently, and should remain a choice for the woman.

Random thoughts about the universe

Our newspaper includes the Parade magazine. I saw this week had Tony Blair writing about "Why Faith Matters". I disagreed with almost all of his arguments.

It made me think why? Why does faith not matter to me? I think it is simple to me. Chaos. I understand chaos and entropy. I understand that the natural state of the universe is to move from ordered to unordered. From clean to messy, from organized to haphazard. What does this have to do with faith?

Well, let’s take a simple example: let’s say I have a family member who is sick. okay, what if this person is really sick? I mean, maybe fatal sick? Many people will turn to religion for comfort. While I may be very very angry at the universe and life in general, the best I can do is help the family member by fighting chaos. I would try to find out what treatments are available. Talk with the doctors, learn pain management and possible end of life care. Having faith in a deity to do the right thing (whatever it might be) isn’t going to change the outcome (not in my mind), so the best I can do is fight the chaos with organization. Does this mean people who have faith are doing it wrong? Hell, no! But this is why I don’t feel faith matters. I could pray, but I don’t think that a fair deity would jump up and say "Good Golly! I should have helped that person! Let me reach down there and fix the situation."  If you are faithful, it probably does help you to have a person(?) to talk to and ask for help and strength.

But I am not faithful. I have to find the strength within. Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I can.

This weekend is Yom Kippur: the holiest High Holiday in Judiasm (although I agree with Soleil that Shabbot is the holiest of days in Judiasm). The day where you atone for the misbehaviors of the past year and pledge to do better. The day G-d writes down in the book of life who shall live and who shall die in the next year. I am going to Temple on Saturday with my family. Not to pray or fast. To handle childcare. Because it just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t believe that a G-d decided one day "Okay Jose* and Gene*, Today you are going to DIE!" and somehow created the series of events that caused my best friend to become a widow because Jose never saw the train as he turned a corner and crossed the tracks. At the time, I was angry with G-d, but now I realize that there is nobody to be angry with. It happened. Nobody could have stopped it. Nothing controlled the series of events.

I have trouble believing that any deity that has the power to create life is willing to make such a fragile life. DNA mishaps, hidden diseases, stillborn children, these are not the work of a deity. This is the work of nature and physics. Chaos reigns in the creation of life. How many women have miscarriages and never realize that the egg fertilized, but the implant was rejected? Or the egg implanted and stopped growing, and stopped producing the progesterone that would prevent their period? I just haven’t got the ability to accept that a deity would do this.

What deity would create broken bodies and minds? Why create challenges when simply trying to get through life is difficult enough? Why would any woman be born with the inability to have children if the deity requires people to reproduce? Why would any deity create depression, manic-depressive episodes, migraines, schizophrenia? Why allow for the possibility of cancer, cystic fibrosis, or spinobifidea?

I just can’t accept these major flaws in humans. Perhaps I think too much. Perhaps I truly am a lost soul. Perhaps I am not willing to accept that any deity would kick out a soul that failed to truly worship Him in that sense. I don’t really believe in heaven or hell. It’s just too draconian for me.

I do believe in the cosmic soup. I do believe that amino acids from comets may be one of the reasons we are alive today.

I believe the age of clusters, of galaxies and I believe in the Cosmic Ray Background.

I believe the age of the universe is 15 billion years. I reject the biblical age of 6000 years.

I refuse to accept AD any more. I can only see CE and BCE. I cannot divide historical times based on a singular religion.

My faith in science and evidence is stronger than my faith in any religion.

I do believe that we ignore the insects on our planet, those small lives that we squish without thought because they are ugly and annoying, yet have been around for millions of years. We are but a blip in our universe. How can I reject the evidence before me to have faith in a deity?

 


*Not the real names. They died in 2000, just before Gene’s 30th birthday. His son was 2 and a half and his daughter was 7 months old.

Square Peg- Round Hole

As children we are encouraged to march to our own drummer. Be different! Don’t follow the herd! Be unique! Don’t be like everybody else.
As parents, we encourage our children to think outside of the box. In the case of Soleil, the box is in and entirely different room, but still, we encourage individuality in our children.

But…are people okay with being individuals?
Okay, Nance (you are saying in your head). What the hell are you talking about?

I am very unique. I am not the average person.
I am a woman who loves sports.
I don’t wear high heels and skirts much
I am not a good girly girl
I work in astronomy, but I don’t have a PhD or just a Bachelor’s degree, I have a Master’s Degree which has long been considered a failure of a PhD. (Those who fail to pass the qualifying exam get a Master’s Degree and are sent on their way.)
I am married to a Jewish man and raising Jewish children, but I am not Jewish. Hell, I think I am more atheist than anything else.
I like home decorating and home remodeling.
I like to paint my nails and get them dirty.
I am a girl Scout leader who is teaching to girls to respect the world and themselves, but to not be afraid to question and not be a sheep.

Most of the time, I enjoy being the odd ball. I work mostly with men. I was at a meeting yesterday with only one other woman about of 12 people. My team has never had another female on it and in most meetings, I am the only female.
I don’t mind lewd jokes and the only time I feel harassed is when I see blatant discrimination against women (one person at work is extremely harsh on female parents).

But yesterday, I was slammed with not fitting in. And I was terribly hurt. And it isn’t anyone’s fault, but just a rejection of me for not fitting in.

I was offered a position on the Board of Trustees at our Temple. I was very honored. I was told several people offered my name for nomination. And I thought "This is an opportunity to step up and give the interfaith families a voice!" I could express our concerns and the recent push by the Union of Reform Judaism’s push for conversion of interfaith spouses.

When this was offered, I did express concern that I am not Jewish. I have never felt that I should convert. It would be lying to convert. I am concerned about the Jewish community. I am concerned about Jewish history. My children are Jewish. They have Jewish blood in their veins, they are proud to be Jewish and they love what they are learning about their heritage.

I was told yesterday, that the offer to serve on the Board of Trustees was retracted. Only Jews may serve on that Board. I understand it. Really I do! It would be like an Italian serving a leadership role in the French-American society. I can’t pretend to be what I am not.

And to be perfectly honest? I was really hurt by this. I didn’t realize how much being myself and having a separate rhythm leaves me excluded. I can’t help bring forth my ideas, because I don’t fit in. I sometimes feel odd at "girls night out" event because I am not very girl. (There is high irony in that statement as I am writing this on a plane on the way to a women’s weekend away!) I have been called Dr. Spacemom by some people and when i correct them, they are surprised that I don’t fit what they think I am and who I am.

I will get over the hurt. I am not sure if I should fight for the right for a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees to be added for interfaith families.

So is it good to be the square peg in a world of round holes? Should we push our children to be individuals? What about the pain? Do we ever consider that?

A sensitive topic

If you are not from Massachusetts, you may not realize that we are voting for our new Senator to replace Ted Kennedy next Tuesday. The papers have been full of articles for and against each candidate. Today I read something in the Boston Globe where the letter to the editor said "With 25% of pregnancies ending in abortion, I can only support Scott Brown who is against abortion."

Let’s look into these numbers, shall we?

According to the CDC1, in 2005, there were 6,408,000 pregnancies. Of these, there were 4,138,000 live births, 1,206,000 induced abortions and 1,063,000 fetal losses.

The fetal losses refer to spontaneous abortions, often referred to as "miscarriages". So, doing the basic math, there are 64.58% of pregnancies end in a live birth, 18.82% of pregnancies end in an induced abortion and 16.5% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. I had 2 miscarriages. One fell in the "fetal loss" category. The other fell in the "induced abortion" category.

Wait. Did you read that right? Did I have a miscarriage or an abortion? Well, turns out BOTH. I contacted the CDC a while ago and asked, "When you report the induced abortion rates, do these cover abortions with a live embryo/fetus only or also incomplete spontaneous abortions (aka, missed miscarriages)?" The answer bothered me. The answer was "We cannot separate out the differences. The hospitals and clinics report the number of induced abortions that terminate a pregnancy. The state of that pregnancy is not reported".

My first pregnancy was after a long year of trying. We became pregnant. I started spotting. Being paranoid, we went in for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed a 5w2d baby. The doctor reviewed the results with me. The baby should be 7w by now. And they didn’t see a heartbeat. I remember her drawing a little heart on the piece of paper in front of her. It was the traditional heart shape, not the anatomically correct version. She wanted me to wait a week and come back for a follow up. "it’s too soon to tell" A week later, Jay was in Arizona at a telescope, observing. I went alone. The baby was now 5w2d. It was clear, she had died(no, I don’t know if it was a girl or boy). The next week, it was arranged for me to have a D&E. At the hospital, Jay asked where we had to go. The woman at the front desk was stern and rude. She made me ask where to go because "he might be forcing you to abort this pregnancy". I think I burst into tears. Jay said something to her about this being a miscarriage. I wish I had to balls at that time to tell her to go to hell. I had just lost a child and my body had not noticed. For 3 weeks, it had not noticed.There was a medical emergency that prevented the doctor from coming. When she did arrive, she explained the procedure. I had to sign parental forms for the disposal of my child. Jay was ordered to leave and he was able to return when they brought me awake. It was one of the worst days in my life.

 Was this a miscarriage? Yes, in my mind. Was this an induced abortion? Yes. Medically, there is no difference between this procedure and the procedure if the fetus was still developing. (Yes, I am deliberately not saying "alive" because I know that a 12w fetus can’t live outside of the mother.)

So let’s look at the CDC numbers again.

The accepted rate of miscarriages is 25-30% of all pregnancies.(and it is often thought it is up to 50%, but let’s go with the 25-30%)

So that would be, in 2005: 1,602,000 miscarriages (taking the lower number of 25%). Take away the number of fetal losses, you have 539,000 induced abortions that are probably miscarriages. This lowers the number of induced abortions (with a developing fetus) to 667,000 or 10.4%.

Wow, big difference between 18.82% and 10.4%. (BTW- take the 30% number and you get down to a 5.5% of pregnancies are actually aborted with a developing fetus).

I personally feel that 10.4% is still high. However, there is NO WAY to determine how many of that 10.4% were terminated for medical reasons for the mother or child. I know several people who have done both (some cases, the child was deformed and damaged from a chromosomal defect, others, the mother was dying from preeclampsia). Also, I feel it is a woman’s choice to make and the best thing our society can do is work to lower that number, not criminalize it based on one particular religion.

The thing is, I worry when people use statistics to push their cause without thinking about it. The 25% is an outright lie. 19% I could see being put forward, but once you look into it, 11% is more accurate.  Let’s be rational people here. Numbers are only useful if you understand them. Regurgitating a statistic without looking into what goes in is not rational. Research, learn, be proactive.

I am pro-choice. Again, I state that our society would do better in finding ways to lower the abortion rates instead of punishing doctors and patients. It would do better in accepting that pregnancy complications can actually KILL a mother. It would do better in accepting that depression is a disease and pregnancy and depression can go hand-in-hand and that it can be a medical reason to abort a pregnancy. And for those who feel there is never a real risk to the mother, please read the stats HERE. Again, you should stop, and think about the statistics. What does it mean that 18% of US maternal deaths are caused by this? What are the real numbers? Are we willing to sacrifice women’s lives for a religion? When does the life of the unborn trump the life of the living?

Just some food for thought.

Gratitude

As the American Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, I have to think about gratitude. I make no bones about being atheist. I don’t hide this from my friends, or my children. I also don’t make it a big deal. However, when being grateful, or thankful, one generally have some one or thing that they are passing their gratitude to. I don’t have a God, so I will simply thank dumb luck for what I have

  • I am thankful that I have two wonderful children. I was so fortunate to overcome infertility to have biological children, but even if that didn’t work, I would have been thankful for any child that I could love and raise.
  • I am thankful that I have a house to live in. Many Americans are terrified of losing their homes during the current economic crisis.
  • I am thankful that I have good friends who are willing to help out when I need it. Thank You L, for stepping up and taking the kids for the night when I couldn’t handle the stress of being mom for that night.
  • I am thankful I live in a country where I have the freedom to both thank our Troops, who are fighting a terrible fight, and yet still be opposed to their mission.
  • I am thankful that I was able to go to college and get a BS in my true love Astronomy. I am even more thankful for the people who helped me get my Master’s Degree as well.
  • I am thankful that both Jay and I have jobs that allow us to expand our knowledge base. We could both leave our current positions for more pay elsewhere, but the pure knowledge and challenge keeps us going.
  • I am thankful that a combination of good luck, and hard work has allowed us to be in the upper middle economic class.
  • I am thankful that I am often reminded of the lower classes and how much luck plays into that, and how I should not forget to help those who need.
  • I am thankful I live in the United States. We are a wealthy country in money, knowledge, arts, and freedom. Of all of the places in the world I could have been born a citizen to, this is my favorite.
  • I am thankful that my girls, and Jay and I all are in reasonable health. There may be some Crohn’s complications down the road for Jay, and I do worry about Soleil perhaps having it as well, but they are healthy. I am very thankful that my thyroid disease is starting to get under control again and that cancer of the thyroid was ruled out.
  • I am thankful that my depression has been under control this year. Last year, I had a terrible, deep hole that was hard to dig out of. This year, I have managed it with medication and exercise. I hope to continue to avoid another crash, although I know that it will eventually happen.
  • I am most thankful for my husband, my soul mate, my love, Jay. He understands me, he lets me be me, and he sucks it up when I can’t always be there for his needs. I cannot express how much of my happiness is dependent on this man.
  • And lastly, I am thankful for you, my readers. I know I will never be Dooce, or Cecily, but I don’t strive to be. You allow me to get out of my soul what I need to say, and for that, I thank you.

Jew

Soleil asked "Mom, can we talk in private"

"Sure, what’s up?"

"Aaron made fun of me today. He laughed at J and I because we are Jews"

Sharp intake of breath on my part. Calm voice to address this carefully.

"What do you mean? Can you explain what he did?"

"Mrs. G read a book today where the kids all made fun of the new girl who was Jewish and came from the Soviet Union. The kids in Molly’s class made fun of her and said her eyes were small and her nose tall. When the other kids in the class made fun of Molly and teased her, Aaron laughed and said that it was funny."

Ok, this is probably her first experience with teasing based on religion, stop, think, relax.

"Do you think Aaron felt that the teasing was funny? Or did he think that teasing you and J was funny?"

"He kept telling the class that the teasing was funny. It made me feel bad for being a Jew."

"What did Mrs. G do?"

"She asked him not to interrupt the book and after the book, she took him to talk."

Whew, way to go Mrs G! Take the situation, address it privately with the child, move on without making a big deal.

"Okay- that sounds like the right thing to do."

"But it hurt my feelings"

"I know…there is good teasing and bad teasing. This was the bad teasing. Good teasing is from your friends and makes you laugh. Bad teasing hurts your feelings. This was bad teasing. But, I think Aaron was just trying to figure out the teasing. Don’t you sometimes have trouble knowing when to tell a friend they are cheating and when to just let it go? Maybe that is what Aaron was doing, trying on teasing. It doesn’t really look good on anyone."

Jay was kind enough to bring up some of his experiences as a kid. He talked about how Aaron (who is of Chinese decent) might have only heard teasing in regards to himself and didn’t think about others getting teased for what they look like or what they are as opposed to their actions.We explained that since Jews are a minority in this country, there are times people will tease her. People sometimes tease those who are different. She felt better and did say she was proud to be Jewish, but felt bad when Aaron was laughing at the teasing. I asked her what she would do if she saw a classmate getting teased. She immediately said "Stand up for them, because that isn’t right!"

I think the teacher addressed this well, but Soleil was still worried last night. Welcome to the harder parts of parenting, teaching your kids about the REAL world, not the perfect one.

The book they read was "Molly’s Pilgrim"

 

 

 

*not his real name

I found Jesus at the Dollar Store

In a moment that would make Herb Urban proud, I took Luna to the Dollar Store Monday. It was one of those great days where everything seems relaxed and we got everything done that was needed, so we went over to check out the Dollar Store.

As we went to walk in, a elderly gentleman stopped us. I noticed his American flag pin and the Purple Heart pin under it.  I noticed that he had one tooth. and halitosis. It reminded me of North Carolina (jk).  

He told us of the wonders of the Dollar Store. He spoke of the glorious toys and food items we could purchase. Then he told us the most amazing news of all; it only cost $1 per item! I was shocked and awed by this. (NOT!)

Then the wacko in him came out. He leaned close to Luna, who quickly grabbed my hand. He said "I know you are a good Christian like me…" Luna scrunched up her eyes with a look of WTF? and said "No, I’m Jewish. Mom was a Christian, but she’s not anything now". The Little Old Man (LOM) blinked and said "eh?" in the way that only the elderly can. Luna sighed, as she rarely suffers fools and repeated it louder, "I’m JEWISH, NOT CHRISTIAN". Well, LOM just smiled and said "That’s okay because Jesus loves the Jews and Muslims too. As long as you believe in G-d, Jesus loves you" (Gee thanks! I guess I can cross Jesus off my Christmas card list now…oh wait…is that a Birthday card list?) Luna squeezed my hand a bit tighter then. He then pulled out a special card. It had been blessed by a priest. It was a card with Jesus, a glowing heart on his chest, the little glowing halo (What is up with the Halo thing? Seriously, if you get it, please explain it) and the stigmata! Yes, I want my child staring at Jesus’ bloody palms. LOM then held out the card for Luna, and explained that it would protect her if she put it in her room. Jesus would watch her in her sleep if she put it there. (Should I place it right next to the Mezuzah on her door jam?) She looked at the card like it was covered in the swine influenza virus. She gripped even tighter. I took the card and told her that I would hold it for her.

LOM then went into a long speech about his late wife and his children and how Jesus saved them. I was finally able to break free and get us in the store. I leaned down to Luna and whispered in her ear "we’ll talk about this later".

I can understand this LOM was lonely. He had lost his wife. He had lost his teeth. But dude, when a small child clearly states she is Jewish, let’s not toss Jesus in her face, m’kay? Let’s leave it alone. I let him go on for a bit because I could tell he was lonely. I knew I could talk to Luna about this and she got it that he was weird and lonely. But seriously.

And yes, we bought 4 things at the Dollar Store for $4.20.
 

And then the great hand reached out of the sky…

I wanted to share two things today that are sort of related(and a ramble warning. I am not sure where I am going with this…)

The first is a press release from my telescope. This is an AWESOME image in X-rays. 

The second is an opinion piece from Judith Warner, whom I don’t always agree with. 

So..how are these related? I often think about religion and morality. Do they have to be tied together?

Often I see comments on web articles that indicates YES. Atheists have no morals. Atheists reject God, and therefore are among the most evil creatures on the planet. Atheists suck the blood out of small children and want everyone to have abortions (okay, not the first part, but yes, I have seen the abortion accusation). But I disagree.

I believe that people can be good to other people just because it is the right thing to do. I believe that you can have your own sense of morals. I believe that taking a book that was clearly written by other humans to be your moral guide is a little dicey, but as long as you don’t force YOUR morals on ME, to each their own.

It’s that last bit that gets me. Why does my money have to say "In God We Trust"? That is someone else’s morals put on me. And this was added in the last century, which gets me even more upset that it is legislated morals. However, I still use the money. It’s part of our country and I try to deal with it.

What about homosexual marriage? Hey, it doesn’t bother me. But some people’s morals are offended by that. To those people, this violates all of the good things in their marriage (which I don’t understand). Several states have even legislated their morals to prevent people from marrying. Of course, these morals are based on their religion (and one passage in the Bible).

Then again we can’t forget abortion. Many people use this one issue as a black and white litmus test. Either you are with us or against us. On both sides of the debate this happens. It’s not just the people who use religion as their values, its the people who argue that if you are against abortion you are evil and full of hate. This is the grayest of grays in terms of issues. I

We have a lot of strange morals in this country.

Again, many morals are tied to religion. Some are not.

Why does our country have this need to be so black and white? Why do we humans need to see ourselves in everything?

The first link I posted was an image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The blue is a pulsar, spinning, excited, the remains of a star. The reddish orange is a cloud that is being energized by the pulsar. Many people see a hand in this image. Why are we automatically seeing ourselves in the heavens? Why do we make God in our image?

The second link is about religious patterns and traditions and if we follow them anymore anyway. Should we? Should we break free from religions?

These are things that make me think. I am pretty close to deciding that I am an atheist. An Atheist with morals. Yes, I am raising my children Jewish. Yes, I see the hypocrisy in that. Yes, I do get a relaxed feeling in either a church or temple or in a park. A spiritual feeling perhaps.

I am pretty sure that we don’t need religion to have morals, but one thing I am sure about…no body is sure about what life means anyway, most of all not me.

Yom Kippur:From a different point of view

From high on the bima
I watched the congregation
Chanting responses without feeling
without intonation.

Stand and sit,
bend at the appropriate times
Cover one’s eyes at the Sh’ma
Face to the ark
Where is the god?

And after opening the ark
and seeing the scrolls
written with love and care,
watching the fragile paper being cradled
Like a newborn babe
Words were chanted and read.
A dead language filtered through my ears
A message without comprehension

And yet, I wonder
do I belong here?
Watching the rabbis, the cantor, the people from high
the agnostic among the Jews.

But the truth is, I am at home here
For my salvation does not come
from a book
or a scroll
or a glass of wine
or a wafer of wheat
or a mountain in a far way land

but from those who love me
for the person I am within
not changing for external pressures

but remaining true to myself

 © 2008 Spacemom