Mar 23 2017

Books Like Shoes

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Thanks to the patience of my son-in-law, David Alexander Baker, I still have a blog site. This is the third time in six years that I have determined to maintain a blog and failed. Well, this time I am going to do it and do it faithfully. There is so much to think about and so much to write about.
Books are for me  like shoes are for some people.  Some women buy shoes at every opportunity. I buy books at every opportunity. I hear about a book on NPR. I watch an author presentation on the book channel. A friend suggests a book. I find a book in a bibliography of a book I am reading. My husband finds a book for me in the books and magazines he reads.  My daughter tells me about the best books she reads.

As I am reading a good book, I think about how and where I will be able to share the new ideas I find with other people.  That’s one of the things I hope to accomplish by blogging. I don’t plan to do book reports, but rather to share ideas that teach and inspire me. Any suggestions about books that  you make will be considered very seriously!

 

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Aug 23 2013

Right wing nonsense

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

It is so hard to believe that real people are saying things such as the ones quoted in the newsletter of “Emily’s List” for Summer of 2013.  They are living in a time warp and have no connection to this century.  Here are some of the quotes and the people who said them.

Governor Phil Bryan(R-MS) explaining why American education has become “so mediocre.”   “The mom got in the workplace.”

Fox News pundit, Erick Erickson:    “Having mom as primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage.”

James Taranto on sexual assault in the military, The Wall Street Journal:  “Lt. Gen. Susan Helms…finds her career stalled because of a war on men–a political campaign against sexual assault in the military that shows signs of becoming an effort to  criminalize male sexuality.”

Texas Rep. Jodie Laubenberg:  “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.”

What  in the world is going on in the minds of people like them!! Surely they are smarter than that, but maybe not.  Not all conservative people are that ignorant and unlearned about life, but there are too many of them who are.

 

 

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Apr 29 2013

The Dance of the Love of God

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

“The dance of the love of God cannot be danced alone.”  This sentence is copied from Dorothee Soelle”s book, The Silent Cry, Mysticism and Resistance. This is the third time I have read this book and each time her spirituality ignites my own some more.  This sentence and others throughout the book strike me because I like to be alone.  Not all the time, but more alone than not.  When I can concentrate on the feeling of God in my heart.  I can shed tears because of the swelling feeling of God in my heart.

On Sunday mornings when Norm has choir practice before worship I go to Burger King that is near our church.  I order an iced coffee mocha and then I read whatever spiritual enriching book I am meditating on.  God lives in that Burger King!  How odd.  How odd that I should feel God so strongly in a place lacking any “sacred” ambiance!  Some Sundays when my 45 minutes at BK is over and it is time to go to church, I don’t want to go.  I want to stay in my solitude in this very public place.  It is a place where, for me, God dwells.

I don’t mean to say that I don’t find God in the sanctuary of my church.  What I mean to say is that I enjoy having God all to myself.  Most times there is some act of community worship in which God touches me as She does at BK.  But I really like to be alone with Her.

Then I read Soelle’s strong statement:  “The dance of the love of God can’t be danced alone.”  I want to dance alone.   When I get to church to worship after my sacred time in BK drinking iced coffee mocha, and I find my seat among the people of God gathered to worship, I do feel the dance of the love of God.  I need those people. Without them I would be so alone in my faith.

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Apr 17 2013

Christ in a Container

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Commercialism is creeping  into Communion, the most sacred act of Christians of all times and all places.  The writer of the Gospel according to Matthew tells us that Jesus, on the last night of his life took bread and broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup of wine and said, “Drink from it , all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many…” (Mt. 26:26ff) Today  a congregation can serve the body in a thin paper-wrapped wafer and the  blood in a plastic cup with a pull off cover. That is very convenient for huge congregations–no more filling hundreds of little cups with wine or grape juice. No more placing wafers on a tray or searching the bakery for a fresh loaf of bread to break.

This makes the Eucharist/ the Last Supper/ Communion very easy to serve. However, in the twenty centuries since the first supper of Our Lord, Communion has never been convenient or easy.  Almost from the beginning theologians have debated about what this sacrament means.  From this debate proceeded three versions of what happens to bread and wine when they are served as the body and blood of the Holy One.  One understanding is called “Transubstantiation” which means that the elements become the actual flesh and blood of Jesus.  The second, Martin Luther called “sacramental unity” meaning that the body and blood of Jesus coexist with the bread and wine.  The third understanding takes the elements to be symbols of the body and blood.  Eating them together with a whole congregation of fellow believers is a remembrance of the act of Jesus on that last night before his death.

Whatever the understanding of what hapens to make the elements sacred, they are sacred.  Generations of devoted Christians have prepared these elements for congregations to share in remembering Jesus. Now, with an eye to making money that pervades our whole culture and society, a church can buy Jesus in a cup conveniently topped off with a wafer.

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Mar 08 2013

My Mother Prayer

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

The “My Mother Prayer” is one of the most consistently heart-touching prayers I have every prayed. This prayer to my Mother who is within me is adapted from a prayer written by Miriam Therese Winter.  She  is a Roman Catholic Medical Mission Sister,  theologian, writer and songwriter (e.g. “Joy Is Like the Rain” (1966), “Knock Knock” (1968), and “Wellspring of Wisdom” (1989)).   I first prayed this prayer in a group of women who gather to study feminist theology and worship the Feminine Divine.

As often as I repeat this prayer, which is several times a day,  it says something new to me every time.  It is as though the phrase that I need most glows with life as I say the words.

“My Mother who is within me. . .” Over the years I have come to feel that God dwells in my heart–not out there or up there  somewhere.   Calling God “my Mother” is still new enough to me that every time I say it is like the first time I said it–a jolt that awakens me and thrills me.

“I celebrate your many names. . .” Writing my book,  Learning a New Language, Speech About Women and God, showed me some of the myriad names that can be used when we speak to God.  Any one of them is a metaphor because we can never know God’s name.  What we can know is that God is so much bigger than the box that we put “him” in. Many names are needed to bring us closer to the Divine.

“your wisdom come…” One of God’s names in the Hebrew Scriptures is Sophia and it is a feminine name. Sophia in Greek means wisdom.  When I pray this phrase I am answering the call of Sophia God.

“your will be done, unfolding from the depths within me…” Since I was in high school I have prayed the words, “Take me and use me.”  Always I meant that  I wanted to be doing what God wanted me to do.  Now that I know she lives in my heart I feel that it is not so much a “taking” as it is a partnership.  Sophia dwells within me and the way I live my life and what I do with it come from the depths where she dwells.

“Each day you give me all that I need…” This phrase is pretty self-evident except that it takes on new life when I am moaning and groaning about something I want (not need) and I don’t get it.  It also illuminates the bounteous goodness of God in providing for me.

You reminds me of my limits…” To be reminded of my limits becomes more and more important as I get older and older.  I grieve over the fact that I can’t clean the whole house, do the laundry, grocery shop  and bake a cake all in the same day like I used to.  I tend to push myself to accomplish too much and I need to be reminded of my limits.  It is also a call to remind me that not everything I want to do needs to be done right then.

You support me in my power and I act with courage…” I need to be reminded that I do have power as a leader in the church.  Sometimes it takes courage to appreciate myself and my abilities.  Many times it takes courage to be an advocate for feminine language for God.

“For you are the dwelling place within me…” Another time I will write more about Sophia dwelling within me. It is enough to say here that her presence in my heart makes her more real to me than God in heaven was.

“the empowerment which surrounds me…” This phrase goes along with supporting me in my power and giving me courage.  It is good to feel that all around me is power that belongs to God and is available to me if I only embrace it.

“and the joy which fills me…” Usually I feel joy while  sitting at my dining room table early in the morning praying and being grateful for the beauty and promise of a new day.  But some days this phrase meets me after a poor night’s sleep or a day’s activity  coming up that I would rather avoid.  Then it is good just to say it and sometimes just saying it  makes the joy pour in.

“Amen.” So be it!  So be it as you use this prayer to answer Sophia’s call to you.  So be it as you feel her Divine Presence in  your heart.

 

 

 

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Feb 28 2012

Corpsman Kyler Estrada

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Yesterday morning I set out to talk to a couple of people about my book Learning a New Language, Speech About Women and God. Little did I know that I would spend part of that time crying in a cemetery.  My first effort was a call to a hosptial chaplain who I am hoping will help me bring together a group of women to discuss the theology and biblical reality of calling God Mother. She wasn’t on duty so I left a message. Then I went to a Barnes and Noble store to ask about them holding a book signing for me. The community relations man was very kind and attentive and said since my book is published on demand he wasn’t sure they could do it–they might be left  with unreturnable books. He is considering six other authors and will get back to me.

I went to the funeral home/cemetery because I had met a woman funeral director there some time ago when I went to get information about the labyrinth they have on the cemetery grounds. She was interested in feminist theology and expressed interest in my book. As I was parking the car, six Marines in full dress uniform got out of a SUV. Five of them carried   guns and the sixth carried a bugle. They marched in step to the grave site.  It was quite a distance  from where I was so I walked over to get a  closer look. I stayed far enough away that no one would see me.   I just stood there by a tall marker and prayed for the family of whoever it was who was being buried.  My praying soon led to tears.

A car pulled up, parked in the roadway near me  and an older man got out.  I don’t know why he came over to me—just to ask  if I needed help, I guess. By then I was crying with my praying.  He told me that the 21-year-old they were burying was Kyler Estrada. He went on to tell me that Kyler  was a Navy corpsman on training duty with the Marines in Djibouti. He was  killed during the  training exercises.  I googled Kyler  when I got home.  He was born in Maricopa, Arizona. He was married but had no children. It sounds like there will be an investigation–probably standard procedure in such cases.

In spite of all the talk about glory and honor and loyalty to country, war is a horrible, horrible thing. God will comfort and console Corpsman Estrada’s family, but he will always be missed, even by those of us who didn’t know him.

 

 

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Feb 28 2012

Tansvaginal Ultrasound and Aristotle

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

The Virginia State Legislature and those of several other states that have a law mandating transvaginal ultrasounds before all abortions probably don’t realize that they are clinging, in the 21st century, to logic that was proposed in the 4th century by Aristotle. He wrote, “It is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept alive. In the same way, the relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.’ Aristotle, Politica, ed. Loeb Classical Library, 1254 b 10-14.

Therefore, men should make all the important decisions. There is no way to tell what Aristotle would have said about TVU but mandating it it fits right in with his understanding of the inferiority of women. A concept which some male legislators heartily endorse, not only endorse but enact into law. The men in the Virginia state legislature passed a bill that requires a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound before she can have an abortion. Governor Bob McConnell said it is a good law because it gives a woman information before she decides to have an abortion. That’s why men alone should not be making decisions about women’s choices. The governor has not a clue about the emotions and the thoughts that a woman who needs it terminates a pregnancy goes through.
Part of the law requires that the woman look at the pictures from the ultrasound. The men say they want to know the gestational age of the fetus. What they really want and hope for is that an emotionallly driven woman will look at the fetus and see a human being and be moved to spare its life. They want women to be intimidated into rejecting an abortion. Aristotle would love that–a woman can’t make a decision based on logic so appeal to her emotions. Evidence indicates that women forced to see the ultrasound images opt to teminate the pregnancy anyway. So much for the 21st century men who want to ccontrol women based on a 4th century logic.

Since I wrote this blog the Virginia Legislature has delayed action on the law. Their retreat is due the uproar from women and the press. We need to keep that uproar loud to prevet further enfringement on women’s rights.

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Sep 03 2011

The Power of Intention

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

The Power of Intention is the title of  one of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s many books. I discovered it at a Barnes and Noble store where I spend much time.  I was sitting at one of the little tables on the edge of the Starbucks store when I spotted, not the title or the author, but  the beautiful cover of this book.  It is only the second book in my whole life that has attracted me by its cover. The other book was Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden.  I don’t usually purposely  select such books as these two, but they are beautifully  designed and could not be ignored.

As I read the introduction to The Power of Intention I was disappointed at the description because it sounded like a rerun of Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, which was popular in the 1950s, I think.  But I read on because each page is a different color and illustrated with bright drawings.  As it turned out the book holds much wisdom and my spirit has been enriched by it.  In fact, it has so enriched my spirit that I am reading through it devotionally for a second time.

This morning I came on two passages that disturb me–two passages that I think shouldn’t apply to women.  One of them is a section titled “A sense of humility.”  He says that when  you embrace the active side of infinity (his description of God is Infinity, Source, Intention) you are looking at something so enormous that your little ego will be dwarfed.  My firm belief is that women, most women, don’t need to have their egos dwarfed!  Too many times the world as it is dwarfs a woman’s ego.  The constant reminders that fill our society are that women are second to men.  That in order to succeed a woman needs to be more like a man. If anything, women need a Source that reassures them that they are as vital to the ongoing operation of this universe as men are.

The second passage that bothered me followed the one on humility.  It is titled “A sense of generostiy.”  Dr. Dyer writes, “The more you give of yourself, no matter now little, the more you open the door for life to pour in.” He says that a person owes in infinite amounts because the Source is infinite.  I believe with my whole heart and soul that the Source is infinite and infinitely generous, but I can’t think that the way women are used by bosses, husbands, children, churches, governments and all manner of groups, can be defined as generosity.

In order to be healthy, women need to say no to the kind of humility that belittles their gifts and strengths and say no to the kind of giving that drains their bodies and  souls.

 

 

 

 

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May 30 2011

Freedom Has a Price

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

Driving by a church on my way to the bookstore on this Memorial Day holiday, I read this on their streetboard: Freedom Has a Price. I believe they are right!  Freedom does have a price, but it is a price that is paid not only by military personnel on a battlefield somewhere in the world. It seems to me that this phrase is used only in relationship to our soldiers who are or have been in the past on the battlefield.  It says, in essence that the only way we have freedom in the United States of America is if we have men and women wreaking havoc on people of other nations.

That is where I have a problem.  The price of freedom is not only paid on the battlefield. It is paid by citizens who are informed on the matters facing our nation; it is paid by all  citizens who vote in all elections; it is paid by people who defend and work for effective education in public schools; it is paid by volunteers who work with people who are marginalized by many forces.

The price of freedom is the invovlement of every citizen in the well being of the vast community that is the United States of America.

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May 27 2011

From Heaven to My Heart

Published by under Medley of Thoughts

My newly published book, From Heaven to My Heart, God’s Journey With Me, could  be classified as  “memoirs.” But I would label it instead a “spiritual autobiography.” Memoirs belong to famous people, people who have been big players in the course of world events.  If the events of my life are interesting to people who don’t know me, it is because they are interested in the experience of living life with God. I’ve not done things that made me famous. What I have done is write a prayer almost every day of my life for more than thirty years.

This book contains some of those prayers, commentary on them,  quotes from the Bible and from other books on prayer that have enriched  my spiritual journey. My journey started from a place where I was asking God for things, basically telling Her what was best for any one for whom I prayed.  The journey has not ended yet, but by the end of the book, From Heaven to My Heart, it became apparent  that prayer for  me is fellowship with God.

An editor who wrote the text for the back cover of the book says:

“Beverly’s transparency about her own spiritual journey not only enlightens but also encourages, sharing the message that even the devout encounter moments of difficulty in their faith. Through those difficulties arise inspiration, insight, wisdom—and faith in an everlasting, benevolent creator. Whether you are interested in beginning a journey with God, or seeking encouragement to continue, From Heaven to My Heart will become a valued companion.”

I am always happy to personalize and sign copies of my book so if you want me to  do  that for you just send me a comment.  Otherwise the book is available from Amazon.com and from Barnes  and
Noble.com.

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