I highly recommend you check out this article today: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/27/724906/-The-rebranding-of-abstinence-only-has-begun
It's about how Abstinence-only programs are trying to repackage their ineffective, inaccurate educational programs as "healthy choice" and "smart choice" programs. We've spent enough on this type of education that research after research after research project has shown are INEFFECTIVE!
Article includes links to contact President Obama and your legislators requesting DE-FUNDING of abstinence only education. We have to defund this kind AND start funding comprehensive sexuality ed. Two different and necessary steps to stop the madness!
Take 5 minutes to make a difference in our children's future!
Wow, was I humbled, proud, and joyous this morning. A young girl, who I have had the honor to have had in youth group, gave the sermon at church. Kelsey is the daughter of a former pastor at our church, a woman named Sheryl Peterson, who died from complication of MS in 1996.
As Kelsey read scripture from The Message, I was struck with one line. The scripture was from John 20, when Jesus appears to his disciples after his death on the cross. He breathes the Holy Spirit into them, and in this translation then says, "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"
What, indeed, are you going to do with them?
I have also had the privilege this year to be studying A Course In Miracles with some spiritually-minded friends. Much of what we and the course have discussed to date really is about forgiveness. And so my heart leapt with lightness and joy and irony and "aha!" when I heard that scripture this morning.
How many times does our righteousness (and believe me, I love to be right....) help us keep a death grip on someone else's fault? I mean, I know I'm right. I've even said, sighing, "I wish I wasn't right about this, but...." And what does it get me? A burden, that's what. A burden that I carry. Feelings that do not promote love, forgiveness, and inner peace.
Notice that this is not about the other person. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. There are things and wrongs that should not be forgotten and that demand justice be served. Still, if I do not forgive, what am I going to do with it? In a sense, the person who has wounded us has passed the wound to us by their behavior, words, actions, whatever. What are we going to do with it? Help it fester by being right? Irritate it into infection by rubbing it regularly with fear, hate, disappointment, anger and resentment? Or are we going to heal it, by sending love and compassion to the wound, caring for the broken part of ourselves that we temporarily believe is less due to someone else's action? And then, with love and clarity, let it go, in essence, giving it back to the person to deal with. It was, after all, their action.
The choice is ours, freely given by Christ who blew Spirit into our ancestors centuries ago. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"
If you choose forgiveness, they are gone for good--from you. If not, well, what are you going to do with them?
Before church on an unusually sunny, crisp Sunday morning. I am walking the dog, attempting to burn off the extra pounds that have crept on and keep me hovering just above a healthy BMI.
I notice the birds chirping. I feel the cold air on my cheeks. I savor the sunshine. As I navigate through the streets and hills of a neighborhood nearby, I see it. The startling headline that reflects the breaking news I saw last night just before bed: 5 kids killed in Graham.
This grabs my heart anew. Again, my thoughts go to the family, the distraught aunt on TV who found the bodies, the tragedy of another apparent murder-suicide in a family. The teen neighbor saying she wished she were surprised, but when she heard people were killed in her neighborhood, she knew it was them. The mother, left, alone, alive. Alive? How long until she feels alive again? My colleagues who work as school social workers in the district where five children will not show up Monday morning.
I take a moment to question my faith amidst the serenity of this jewel of a morning. Why would God allow five children--children, God!--ages 7-16, to be slain by their father? Why? My mind searches for meaning, attempting to reconcile this horrible occurrence with my idea of a loving God.
I grasp at a scene in my memory from an old TV show called "Joan of Arcadia." A teen girl sees God in many forms and is given assignments she doesn't understand, but which turn out to be for the best in the end. She pleads with God for a glimpse of the bigger picture so she can understand. When God complies, she is knocked unconscious by the enormity of the smallest of peeks into the whole enchilada.
I don't have the bigger picture, and yet, I am still....disappointed...in my God. I watch an older man throw a toy for his dog into the small lake nearby. I restrain my dog from chasing after him. I feel the sun warm my back and remove my jacket. I move to gratitude. Thank you, God, for my family--for the teens asleep in their beds and for my loving, sane, practical, wonderful husband. Thank you, God, that there is not violence in our home, nor are there firearms. Thank you for this neurotic canine on the leash in front of, behind, in front of, behind me.
I see a family friend and his daughter out for a morning stroll. We chat. The dog jumps up his hellos on them. We part. My walking pod cast ends. I remain saddened and grateful at the same time. I see my reflection in the laptop as I sit down to write. Sad. Very sad. Be with them all, God. Be with us all, God.
Here is a link to a post on healthy relationships and signs of unhealthy ones. http://www.parentingbystrengths.com/2008/08/6-ways-to-know.html
You all stay safe out there.
As you know from my previous post about SEAT, these things converge in my world. I want to share with you an article running in today's Federal Way Mirror that I wrote, entitled: Our Righteousness Is Killing Us (click on the title to go to the online article, or open up your Mirror to page 4 if you live in Federal Way....). I hope that by reaching a few more people, I can help spread some information and passion about the absolute necessity of our working together to provide our youth with comprehensive sexuality education. And if you tire of this topic, no worries--I'll be back soon with more musings.....
I had the incredible honor and privilege to be part of a group of faithful, religious communities joined in voice to promote comprehensive sexuality education last week in Washington, DC.
The 6th Annual SEAT (Sexuality Education Advocacy Training) was put on by the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Union for Reform Judaism. I am still processing, interpreting, coveting, and holding dear and discerning best ways to share all that I learned and experienced there.
Aside from the fact that 40 of us came from literally all over the country (Washington State, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Texas, New Mexico, California, Indiana, Delaware, Massachussetts, etc), the experience of joining together as people of faith to be a religious voice to our legislators about a topic so precious to me touches my heart deeply.
Lobbying was, how can I say this? Way cool!!!!! Empowering, inspiring, patriotic....
Being in community with people who are intergenerational (lots of youth and young adults there with us older folks), interfaith, advocates for sexuality education of the comprehensive variety seemed to be a match made especially for me. I love teenagers, I love my faith and learning about the faith of others, I love advocates and advocating, and I love sexuality education. 'Nuf said.
But what I really want to share is a prayer written and read by UUA Reverend Meg Riley at our closing time together. You can go here for her post, and I am also including the text of her prayer below. I hope it touches and inspires you like it did me. And you can take that inspiration into action by contacting your legislators and asking them to support the REAL Act (Responsible Education About Life), which is legislation that would open up a federal funding stream for comprehensive sexuality education. Please also ask that they DEFUND abstinence only education--those funds have already been allocated and must be defunded or they just keep on giving groups money to spread myths like HIV is spread through tears, and condoms failure rates are 30% (go here and here for some really entertaining presentation of some really startling information.
Here's the prayer, with my blessings added to Reverend Meg's, and in conjunction with my faith community in supporting us all to be healthy, included in community with one another, and loved always.
Sweet source of hope and healing, longing and life,
We know our first responsibility is to create a world which supports the growth of our world’s children
A world safe for them to explore, and to learn and grow, without being judged or punished.
A world safe for them to make mistakes, knowing there is nothing they can do to lose our love.
May we provide them with tools to protect themselves and those they love from decisions which hurt—information about the physical, spiritual, emotional aspects of sexuality.
May they know it is safe for them to come to us always, and we won’t make it worse.
We wish that life were simple.
We wish that unwanted pregnancies never occurred,
That no one engaged in any kind of sexual activity without protection and real choice, real response-ability,
That all people were equally valued.
We wish that every person knew his or her own beauty and worth, and thus that of the others with whom she or he interacted.
A child I love dearly, aged ten, was struggling with gender identity.
“Do you ever feel,” I prodded gently, trying to understand, “as if you were born into the wrong body?”
The young one paused for a moment of silence, and responded, “Nope, this is my body all right. I feel like I was born into the wrong world!”
We pray that we can make this wrong world a little bit more right for our children.
May they know and cherish their own bodies as sacred, beautiful, true.
May we create a world which reflects this back to them.
May we demand schools, governments, communities, which honor them
And in so doing, be worthy of this gift of life, this beautiful broken world.