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A Friday in Ireland

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„His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.”

My husband was reading to me on the couch, his head resting on my lap. It wasn’t anything very intellectual, uplifting, or edifying, just a Jo Nesbo novel we had picked up earlier that day—just after we got married. It was the first thing we bought as a married couple.

It happened so fast, so simply. Two witnesses. The Registrar. Less than 15 minutes. A few kind words and—surprisingly—a few quotes from the Bible and that famous line by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and a song quietly playing in the background by Joshua Radin.

“Alone we are fine
But when we are two
We are eternal
The moons aligned
Our separate lives
Here become one”

We didn’t even have ties, just the two Oxford shirts we had picked up a store on Patrick Street the day before. My socks were mismatched, and my coat was still at the dry-cleaners. This wasn’t like how I had imagined my wedding to be. I always envisioned nicely tailored tuxes, a chuppah, decorations, family and friends, a nicely catered dinner, and live music. We even had a jar of change to hire a certain Israeli singer. Kevin and I enjoyed looking for ideas for invitations, party favours, and centerpieces. We had a paylist we kept adding somgs to that would be playing at our wedding. We wanted to serve gourmet burgers, fish and some vegan option for dinner, and have a non-wrecked cake.

Instead we celebrated with gingerbread lattes from Starbucks. We walked along the River Lee, sipping the overly sweet coffee with milk foam so over-steamed it was hard, and it really felt like the best meal I’d ever had. It was so good, in fact, that after getting home I washed and saved our papercups. And by home I meant the hotel, because we splurged and spent two nights in a hotel downtown, rather than the bunkbeds at my uncle’s farm.

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside”

Patrick Street was decorated for Christmas. The Bavarian candy coated nut stand smelled like childhood holidays. Some school choir was performing Christmas carols, and the various shops all played Christmas music. People were rushing around us, doing their shopping, while we quietly strolled along. And then, from amid the sea of Christmas music, we heard a song, one that we had saved on our playlist, one that always reminded me of my wonderful friends, one that Kevin loves playing on the piano and singing to us. It was Magnetic Fields’ The Book of Love. Kevin pulled me close and kissed me, in the middle of Cork’s busiest street.

Just a few short hours later, we were listening to our playlist as Kevin read to me from a Scandinavian crime novel, still wearing our new shirts, with a bottle of wine waiting for us. Kevin stood up to open it, and And then again The Book of Love. This time it was Peter Gabriel’s wonderful cover. As he hugged me close our hearts beat in unison and we started to dance. Our first dance.

It might not have been a big, perfect event. It might not have been very romantic. It might not change much in our day-to-day life. It, however, was an overcast Friday morning in Cork, when Kevin and I got married. 14 years. It’s more than just a piece of paper. It’s a page in our book of love.

Quotes in thispost are from Song of Solomon 8:30, Joshua Radin (Lovely Tonight), Lin-Manuel Miranda

Compulsory Forgiveness

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One of the things that bothers me a lot about the whole Duggar fiasco is people forgiving Josh for the sexual assault and adultery as they were the victims of either. I can understand forgiving him for the lie that his public persona is, as my friend Annie very wisely said: “I think that all of us are damaged by the sins of any of us….which is why I expect that people have a sense that there is something for them to forgive. In this case, looking up to someone as a model, or inspiration, and finding that they were not that can hurt a great deal.”

The problem with that, however, lies with people, who were more than willing to forgive such betrayal when he was involved in incestous molestation of young girls, but are drawing the line at adultery. Because, you know, actual sexual assaults on little girls are not nearly as bad as consensual sex between two adults outside of marriage.

The other problem is when people are willing to specifically state that they are forgiving Josh for what he did to his sisters, the babysitter, and his wife. This is not some random church lady’s job to forgive him for those. That is a choice his sisters, the babysitter and his wife have. And even if they choose to forgive him, it doesn’t mean that those crimes and immoral acts never happened. There are consequences in life for one’s actions. In less cult-like environments, the consequences would have been being charged for the molestation, and likely divorce, or at least a few months in the dog house for the latter. Anna is, however, already reported to have decided to stay with Josh and support him. Because she has forgiven him. Because she is required to forgive. She is given no other choice. I, however, think that when you are not given a chance other than to publicly act as if you have forgiven and forgotten, forgiveness is often not real. Pretending something didn’t happen is not forgiveness. I do have to wonder sometimes if the Duggars are generally capable of true forgiveness, that is not just outward motions.

Laura Turner brilliantly wrote:

“Anna Duggar can forgive Josh without continuing their marriage. She can separate from him, divorce him, remove his kids from him, because he violated the vow he made to her–and she can still forgive him. To forgive does not mean that you return to the same relationship you had with someone before they hurt you. In fact, sometimes wisdom demands that you make changes to a relationship even as you forgive.” – See more at:

http://lauraturner.religionnews.com/2015/08/21/when-forgiveness-isnt-reconciliation-on-josh-duggar/#sthash.jTwXEQg6.dpuf

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. It is great to be the receiving end as well as being the one who can forgive. It is often not easy, and definitely not instant: if one can instantly forgive something, then that thing wasn’t even an offence. Maybe whoever did it thought they hurt someone. Maybe we didn’t think we were, but saying the words extending grace and forgiveness still might be just the right thing, to help another feel less guilt.

Maybe Anna Duggar sees no problem with her husband cheating on her, and she finds nothing needs to be forgiven. Maybe she has known for some time, as the accounts on Ashley Madison were terminated around the time of the molestation coming to light, and Josh might have actually been a man and tell her about everything. In that case Anna has had over two months to start digesting what happened. We don’t know. I just hope she will eventually find peace and will be treated by someone as an equal and as an adult. I also hope that this will be the last we hear of the Duggars.

Another Two Cents on Josh Duggar

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My sister thinks I’m obsessed with the Duggars. The reason for that is that during the past 5 years I made at least 4 comments about them to her, and posted exactly three times mentioning them on my blog since 2012  Of course she is the one who has watched every rerun of every Duggar show, and she is capable of telling the Duggar kids apart. I was never capable of doing that, not that I really tried, anyway. So because I am obsessed with the Duggars, I woke to my sister’s text at 4:57 a.m.

2015-08-20 11.12.47

I am worried about Anna blaming herself. I am worried about people who defended Joshua Duggar’s sexual abuse of his sisters and another girl, and his parents’ lack of actions to protect those girls, because Mr. Duggar “got saved”, “repented and became a productive member of society”, “grew up into a Christ following husband and father” will continue to defend him, blaming everyone and everything else, including the internet for his unfaithfulness. Because no good Christian man has enough self control to resist the temptation to cheat on his wife.

Of course marriage equality made him do it as it undermined the sanctity of his marriage. Not unless, you know, he was seeking a gay married guy who also wanted to cheat on his husband. Maybe a married lesbian. In which case Josh Duggar was undermining their marriage.

As my sister pointed out, I believe FRC chose perfectly when they hired him as an executive director, and basically the face of the organization. He represents them, and a big segment of the American religious right just perfectly. I am sure that the message of the real values of FRC didn’t get lost on a lot of people.

I’ve already heard that those accounts must have been fake. They were tied to credit cards that had Josh Duggar’s then current addresses attached to them. There are credit card statements. I doubt that he would have missed an opportunity to complain about identity theft, and being set up by his Christ’s enemies. That alone tells me it was real.

There is still the chance to say that he needed to investigate this evil website as part of his job. Yes, it’s completely believable that he needed not one, but two accounts, over a period of two years. There is no chance that sexual predator Gothardite golden boy could be a (would be) serial cheater. No. Impossible.

Except it is all too real.

ETA: Josh has admitted to watching pornography and cheating on Anna.

He is grieved by the hurt he caused being caught again in something immoral. He writes, “I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.” He also claims he was fighting immorality in the country…. well yeah, once again, it is more than personal failings. Josh Duggar has been villifying 7-10% of the population in a high paid job, without any proof of what his organization was preaching was true, while he himself committing the sins that FRC assigned to the LGBTQ community.

I definitely hope that Anna wasn’t bullied into a covenant marriage like the Jessa and Jill. However, if she wasn’t and she stays with Josh, she loses any sympathy I might have for her.

I also have to wonder since Josh doesn’t believe in birth control, how many little illegitimate Duggars he has produced and what he took home to Anna… or if he, in fact, used protection, betraying the one thing that brought him fame and a livelihood.

From the Jerusalem Pride

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This… This happened yesterday in Jerusalem.

An Ultra-Orthodox protester stabbed six people in yesterday’s Jerusalem Pride. The same man attacked participants in 2005.

Some members of our family attended this year, and I am very grateful that I got Kevin’s text that they were okay before I saw the news. I am still very upset about this happening. How can someone claiming to be a man of G-d, and being angry at people breaking of–what he perceives to be–G-d’s commandment that he completely ignores the one about not killing?

Does Courage Have Only One Face?

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My Facebook feed is full of posts depicting an American soldier in one picture saying “This is courage” and then a picture of Caitlyn Jenner, saying “Not this”.

I think the very people posting these and otherwise bashing Ms. Jenner are the very proof that she deserved the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The amount of hate that is spewed by people when Ms. Jenner is mentioned is mindblowing.

I also, personally find the above mentioned meme offensive.  As a soldier I don’t think I’m very courageous. Courage in my own life looks very different. I know that many soldiers have a lot of courage. However, so do children and adults fighting cancer, people living with disabilities fighting their everyday battles, former cult members, first responders, parents, investigative journalists, gay couples willing to live outside the closet, and yes, Caitlyn Jenner.

While we in the LGBT community experience a lot of hatred, the T of the acronym even experiences lack of support or understanding, and sometimes outright hate from within the community. Transgender women are murdered and are driven to suicide in disproportionate numbers within our community. It takes courage to stand up and face the world. It takes a lot of courage to face closed minded people, who can only hate, because their definition of courage is very limited.

Congratulations to Ms. Jenner and all people displaying courage: the single mom handling a job and raising her kids, the agoraphobic lady in the neighbourhood who walked to the mailbox yesterday, the orphan who leaves everything they know behind to start a new life with a family in a foreign country, the student teacher on her first day in the classroom, the autistic child trying a new food, and countless others. By denying Ms. Jenner’s courage to transition to who she is, and publicly standing up for others, the courage of all these people and their everyday victories over circumstances or themselves is being ridiculed.

Let’s just all accept that courage can manifest in many ways, and that is why our world is full of brave people.

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