Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Glenn Beck on Social Justice Christians

I'm a little short on time today but I wanted to thank my friend Margaret for calling my attention to Glenn Beck's remarks (made just over a month ago) about "social justice Christians".

In short, he exhorted viewers to "run" from their churches if they belonged to a church promoting social or economic justice; he further equated such values with communism and Nazism.

A quick survey of the media, both mainstream and user-created, reveals a refreshing variety of effective and creative responses:

Glenn Beck's original clip on social justice and Christianity:

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners discuss Glenn Beck's remarks about "social justice" and Christianity:

Jon Stewart had a little fun with the nonsense:

Christians from many denominations respond:

A song offered in response:

An interesting response from a thoughtful young man:

Soujourner's Magazine provides a handy letter whereby believers can "turn themselves in" to Glenn Beck for the crime of being a social justice Christian:

I can only offer my Exhibit One: well-known Communist and Nazi, Mother Teresa:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

So what?

I get so hung up about this. Can I post some thought on the blog? No, because it's not a "great thought", it's not "thought through", not "finished", "planned"; there's not time to do an adequate job of.....what, exactly? Enlightening humanity? For heaven's sake, no one's reading this nonsense, and thank GOD! Where is all this pressure coming from? Not my throngs of avid readers, clearly. As usual, just my internal tyrant, jailor, and worst critic. Aren't I old enough by now to realize the silliness of being an elephant effectively tethered by a tiny cord and peg?

So this is what I've been thinking, in no particular order.
Bad people have hijacked Jesus and disfigured him terribly.

Some force deep in my...whatever....soul, brain chemistry, hormones, emotional soup, mind or spirit....cries out to..? Love, worship, plead to, pray to, dance for, sing to, cheer, sob to, just be in the presence of......something. You cannot convince me there is NOT "something" any more than you could convince me there IS "something". It's not about "convince", for me. Just for me. I don't have the slightest interest in influencing any other living being's position on "the spiritual". And that represents a big change from my formerly zealous evangelical and oh-so-firmly-convinced-in-the-particulars young self. The self I was before I walked away with my fingers in my ears chanting lalalalallalaala I'm not listening. All of the hate-mongering, politics, pandering, fear-mongering, anti-gay, anti-poor, anti-foreign, anti-woman, anti-everyotheroneoftheseveralthousandsects, historical and current murder and torture and molestation and repression, rejection, deception, and "Jesus said 20 times more things about hell than he ever did about Heaven" SICKENING wave after wave of "doctrine" and sermonizing.... I'm not listening. That's where I've been stuck for years now--a position that isn't a "position" at all; just avoidance--elective deafness--turning my face to the wall. Ignoring.....something. Someone?
I'm not good at doing the "God of my understanding is a faceless emanation of energy" thing. I don't find myself credible when I talk to myself about God this way. There's a 50 year old accretion of moss and slime that's slowly formed around a bright little kernel who went to Baptist Bible school and sang Jesus Loves Me to scare the nightmares away. Somehow under the moss and slime--some WHERE under that much and mire--that little kernel is still singing. Nothing I can do about it.
So, tomorrow is Easter. I am going somewhere, to church somewhere, to sing my heart out. I hope no one there knows me or tries to know me. I may leave before the sermon--may WELL leave before the sermon. I don't expect to see Jesus but maybe he'll see me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Friday night, March 12, friends and fans of poetry had a meaningful and, at times, enchanted evening at the Harlow Gallery in charming Hallowell, Maine.

The setting was enhanced by the Young at Art Exhibit, featuring the work of area artists in grades K-12. At right, top are: Long Hair, by Annie McKee, Grade 6; Chinese Ribbon Dragon, by Emma White, Grade 1; and Purple Self Portrait by Erin Ballew, Grade 8. What a vibrant array of images on display from these young talents!

Here, the Portland area poet
Pilgrim admires the work of young artists in the Young at Art Exhibit.

Karin opened the evening with her brave and heartfelt poems. She gave a very powerful reading of her poem The Making of Power, which can be found here in the online publication Trivia: Her dedication of the poem is wonderful: "Ode to Gertrude Stein, Mary Daly, Audre Lorde, Gloria AnzaldĂșa, bell hooks, CherrĂ­e Moraga, and everyone of us".

Karin also shared an exciting collaboration with Gary Lawless, among others, celebrating our crucial "little fish". You can read more, along with Karin's "Sardine Manifesto", here:
I highly recommend you also view Karin and Gary's video "Red Herring Caper":

Thanks to Karin, many of us took home not only memories of her powerful poems but a red herring for "a little change". More information about Karin Spitfire and her book "Standing With Trees" can be found on the Illuminated Sea Press website:

Ellen Taylor, Dr. Ellen M. Taylor, is well-beloved to Maine audiences and has appeared twice before to grace the Harlow crowd with her sensitive, evocative work. She read selections from her most recent book, "Floating", and cast a spell as she read a rich and varied selection of poems wonderfully conjured from her loving but unsentimental memory. When Ellen reads, I can see and smell and feel her family home, animals, cooking. Leaving childhood, she floated us on her magic carpet to Nicaragua, land of her recent sabbatical, and then closer to home, to a hospital waiting room, and the pain, anxiety, and endless waiting one endures when a loved one is seriously ill.

Information about Ellen's book, "Floating", along with a sample poem, can be found here: You can learn more about this accomplished poet and professor at her faculty webpage:

Poets came from far and wide to hear the featured poets.

Here are Dennis Camire of Kennebunk and David Moreau of Wayne.

Here, feature poets Ellen Taylor and
Karin Spitfire share a light moment enjoying a "red herring"--or is that "read herring"?

Ellen and Karin with the reading's co-host, Ted Bookey. Ruth Bookey, our other host, is in the background at the book table. As David Moreau says, "it wouldn't kill ya to buy a book!"

Ted Bookey and Ellen Taylor, discussing poetry and the upcoming Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival at UMA:

Ellen Taylor signs a copy of her book for fellow Moon Pie poet Claire Hersom.
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Thursday, March 4, 2010

THON 2010

I'm so neurotic. I didn't post a blog for weeks because of my intention to put up a really worthy post about THON, the indescribably moving, noble, and world-changing student-run charity event at Penn State. More about THON here:

The Flickr album, including more than 7,500 uploads, is here:

When Noah first invited me, I had only the most general idea about the enterprise of THON, and no conception of why I would want to drive to Pennsylvania mid-semester to stand around in a huge auditorium, especially since Noah warned me that he'd be to busy to spend much time with me.

"Trust me, Mom. This is more important to me than my graduation."

Of course, I "get it" now. Noah, you were so right.

I was there spending unforgettable moments with my son, Noah, while he raced about with admirable efficiency keeping his fantastic committee networked and generally being of service in a thousand ways.

These young men and women raised nearly 8 million dollars in the fight against children's cancer.

Of course it's intimidating to write about this. I have to forgive myself for this paralysis or I
might not be able to write anything else, ever.

Of course, no blog on this topic would be complete without this gem from THON's Got Talent, Tucker Haas performing "Boom Boom Pow"
I think the pictures and videos will have to speak for themselves. Noah, Noah's Ark, THON volunteers all, and PSU, I am SO proud of you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Food, sunshine, friendship--not necessarily in that order!

Perfect blue skies, Monday holiday, sunshine before the rumored storm--a great day for lunch with my good friend Chris! The drawbridge ALMOST made me late, but it was a nice opportunity to look at the activity of Portland Harbor. Just in time, over, out, and into the sunshine of a glowing midwinter's day!

Our favorite lunch spot: The Dogfish Cafe on Congress Street.

It's a fine place to watch the sidewalk from a table in a sunny window, and catch up with a dear friend.
I love the mural!

And the border of corks along the bottom of the big plate-glass windows.

And I love the neighborhood! Funky Portland at its best. While I'm at it, let me throw in the link for a great "foodie" resource, the Portland Food Map:

Here's the classy and historic Inn at St. John, with all flags flying.

Our cheerful and well-informed server, Kelly Moynihan, provided us with coffee, good advice, and boundless good humor along with fine service.

There were so many temptations to choose from!

Chris made the perfect choice:

Grilled Shrimp Panzanella
A warm salad of crispy salami, grape tomatoes, basil, bread and fresh mozzarella. Topped with grilled shrimp and balsamic reduction.

I enjoyed my selection as well!
Blueberry Salmon Salad
Grilled Atlantic Salmon atop pistachios, dried pears, shallots, Fuji apples, and mesclun greens with Maine blueberry vinaigrette:
Check out the menu:

There's a handsome, friendly bar (and barkeep!) if you are eating alone, or just want to hang out with regulars from the neighborhood.

When you're all done with lunch, doggy bag in hand (portions are generous!), there are lots of good shopping spots in easy walking distance. Union Station Plaza is home to a primo Goodwill store, and a mecca for Maine musicians, Buckdancer's Choice Music Company

If you are a Maine musician, or love one, you have probably spent hours browsing in Buckdancer's.

You can also feast your eyes on some of the elegant and distinctive architecture of the area. Here is a rendering (from a 1920 postcard) of the beautiful Maine Central Railroad offices, which remain and now house many interesting Maine businesses:

Here is the old, glorious Union Station; here depicted in 1911.
Here's a good article about the railroad history of Portland, Maine, worth a look if you're going to be in the neighborhood.

The best part of today was, of course, catching up with Chris! Just a few years ago she performed our wedding in the lovely Yarmouth home she shares with her husband, Jack. Jack is off to three weeks in the Philippines for work, one of her daughters is traveling with the Beehive Collective as an activist artist:, and the other is flying to Zambia tomorrow to begin 2 years of service to humanity in the agricultural field. We love vicariously adventuring through the travels of this amazing family.

I hope many of my friends are out enjoying the sparkling sunshine and mild temps. I'd love to hear about some of your favorite Portland bistros, haunts, and strolls!

Now: be sure to lay in some provisions for the SNOW!!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love IS bigger than money. It is.


At our house, today has been a day of fiscal awareness. After a long, long, frustratingly long layoff, my scientist husband is on the eve of his return to work--part time, at first--in his highly technical field. We've been kissed by a blessed ripple of the sloooowly recovering economy.

Our good friend down the block, who, for two years after her layoff, worked as a transcriptionist in subterranean office (despite her law degree),
just this week returned to a decently paying job in her field--a job with benefits. Our daughter, meanwhile, is still scrapping together babysitting jobs and anything else she can get, waiting for the summer tourists to arrive with a healthy cash injection for the service sector. It's been a hard winter.

But we've learned a lot.

This morning, my daughter and I took her precious, limited funds on a grocery quest--in search of the best bargains in a number of crucial categories. Caitlin has a well-honed talent for comparison shopping, and she has a closet full of stylish, expensive-looking clothes from patiently monitoring the thrift stores and following strict guidelines. If she spends more than $10 on any item of clothing, it's either sensational or she's still feeling guilty about it. Most days she turns out looking like a supermodel in something she's put together for less than $20, earrings to shoes.
She's smart, and she's glam:

She's a fashion sleuth. But that's another post altogether.

So, anyway, armed with a list of "musts" and a few "wants" we headed out into the bleak February morning to work over
those supermarkets. We had a tight budget, but plenty of time on our hands and coffee firing up the old adrenals.

The rest of this is only relevant for folks who live in the greater Portland, Maine, area. But there are quite a lot of you, and most of you are not reading this blog, so if you are ARE, you get a special bonus. Here's what we found: First go to Shaw's. Get ONLY the specials: Be sure you have a Shaw's card! There is no excuse not to have one, since you can even get one online: and, once you have it, you can print out coupons to save you even MORE money:

Next, if you happen to be in the South Portland area, visit the justly famous Smaha's Legion Square Market (the place, it just so happens, where poor law students shopped for groceries 25 years ago. But I digress.....)

We discovered that Smaha's has better prices on many dairy products--cheese, milk, and butter--than both major supermarkets--if you don't insist on a fancy selection. Smaha's also has a great butcher shop, very reasonable, and will cut to your specs. And they are not a chain. So shop there.

From Smaha's, we took the rest of our list--bread, cereal, produce, jam, muffins, and ice cream--to Hannaford. We're simply big Hannaford fans in our family--my husband said "I love you" to me for the first time when we were selecting yellow onions in the Gorham Hannaford; actually, what he said was "God help me, I think I love you". But I digress.

Hannaford seems to have the best prices overall, and their stores are just cool. Well-organized, clean, lots of variety. Their flier is also online: and they offer a very handy online shopping list planner thingie that probably will secretly track everything you do on the internet for the rest of your life but in any event that's here:

Caitlin shared her discovery of the HUGE savings involved in choosing the large quantity of bagged cereal over the smaller boxed cereals; she mixes in a little of her own granola and fruit and saves a ton. Smart girl!

Having fun yet? I HOPE SO!!!! Because getting more good food for your money is good, guilt-free fun and we pretty much have fun together whatever we do. She got to go home, unload those (recyclable) bags and fill her pantry, and I got to come home to my handsome onion-love-man, enjoy a lazy together Sunday with the papers, the pets, and the many sweet, tasty pleasures money cannot buy.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

A new love: social bookmarking

I flirted from afar for a long time. I'm not a spring chicken anymore. Burned and spurned a few times by the shiny and new, it was a challenge for me to trust. Organizational programs, that is. I would always start with high hopes, but I would soon grow weary of the effort it took to keep the relationship going.

Nevertheless, I finally had to admit I was powerless over the chaos of my bookmarks. I was drowning in a sea of unsorted, seemingly random information.
Tentatively at first, then with a growing desperation, I called upon a power greater than myself. Delicious answered. Then Diigo.

Now I've fallen. Hard. I taste. I dig. I stumble.

Friends, behold my bookmarks:

Use them, pass them around, they are too sweet to keep to myself.

Are you like my students--skeptical, unconvinced? Wrestling with the doubt that a geeky, middle-aged gypsy teacher could have found a romance with information worth investigating?

Let me call upon others more informed and eloquent to convince you:

Still having your doubts? Here's another great presentation:

Do share your bookmarks and great finds with ME!
That's it for today! I'm stumbling off to make more discoveries!