It’s All Her Fault!

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I’m amazed! I thought we won these battles a long time ago, yet I see on the evening news that state after state is closing in on women’s freedom to choose. A woman should have a choice about what to do with her own body.  Is this a time warp and it is 1960?…Otherwise there is no excuse for this nonsense.  

For a while, I was a home teacher and one of my students was a shy, lovely young woman who had been told she couldn’t come to school because she was pregnant and might “contaminate” other girls.

She got caught in an unwanted pregnancy and chose to carry the child to full term. No matter what her choices were after the child was born, this was a setback for her and her life plans. It was a long time ago.

We all face setbacks in life and she had the intelligence to manage better than most unwed mothers. If it was her decision to keep her child, she was headed toward poverty, according to the statistics. If she chose to have her child adopted, that was fine although there could be psychological issues. She had some difficult choices to make.

I didn’t know her well and we didn’t talk personally. She was a good student and I tried to teach her well. I remember I thought it was very unfair to kick her out of school but life was very unfair for women. It’s a sure bet that the baby’s father didn’t have to leave.

Abortions were still not legal and I have no idea if she would have wanted one but the point is, she didn’t have a safe choice. Every woman deserves a choice!

That was a long time ago and times have changed. Teens now are usually allowed to finish school and some of the girls are allowed to choose a special school where they also get parenting classes.

I wrote a book called Young Parents once and I learned from the research. If the girls choose to keep their kids, they were statistically doomed to poverty for the remainder of their lives. Of course there are exceptions but most teen parents struggle for years. Almost none have a baby’s father who stays in the picture.

When I taught high school, back in the Sixties, I heard kids say you couldn’t get pregnant the first time. Some of those kids also believed that you had to “really enjoy it” before you could get pregnant.

Those kids  were sixteen years old and it was more than fifty years ago.  United States Congressmen and State Representatives are a long way from  high school. Some of them spouted ideas on the news that were more nonsensical ideas than any I have ever heard from a teenager.

Why are they really against Planned Parenthood? Why are they attempting to whittle away at abortion clinics? I can’t believe they are motivated by religion or they’d be more religious about helping the children who are already here.  I think they must believe that their views will bring them more votes from people who fear change.

These fearful voters are the same ones who are routinely trying to keep poor people from voting. They also want more guns and they are anti-immigration and the list goes on. If dinosaurs ran for office, the change-adverse voters would rush to vote for them. Oops! Dinosaurs do run.

Resistance to change concerns me but I really get hot about the shutting down of abortion centers and the persecution of Planned Parenthood organizations because I have a great long term memory.

In my day, girls were routinely blamed for getting pregnant. We were supposed to know better and understand that boys had “needs” that would drive them to distraction. It was up to us girls, when we went on a date, to keep our wits about us and our knees shut.

During this last election, I heard several political figures spouting the same nonsense. I even heard one candidate claiming that women cannot get pregnant if they are “legitimately” raped. That is probably based on my 1960’s students’ belief that you had to enjoy it before it worked to make babies.

If my news station is to be believed, that is a fairly common belief today. I had never heard that particular canard until recently, but apparently it has been around a long time in the right-to-life circles. Do they old guys still chuckle and say, “If rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it?”

All of this is just another alarming sign of the age-old prejudice against women. Whether it is a judge who blames the rape victim because she wear the wrong clothes or the neighbor who blames the teenage girl for going out with that wild boy, it always centers on the idea that it is all her fault.

How about your family? If you have children and grandchildren, what are you teaching them? Do you tell the girls to be careful and the boys to have fun? I hope not.

As a retired Religious Science minister, I’m supposed to look on the positive side and I usually do. The positive side here is that it will all change despite some people’s attempts to block progress. And I’m positively glad to know that New Thought arose, to make progress and accepting women as equals was part of that forward movement.

Many feminists deny all the traditional teachings as being anti-female and patriarchal. Their interest is in ancient teachings featuring goddesses and that is an interesting development. I’m glad they are doing it but I’m happy to see there are other attempts to the nonsense in the dominant religions.

Some people see the Bible as an old fashioned book that promotes men into leadership positions of power. They say blaming the woman is a common theme in the Old Testament.

True – there are a lot of stories about women enticing men to sin, probably because men wrote the book. Whether it is Eve, Delilah or Jezabel, these Biblical characters are nasty ladies. Some of the traditional churches seem to hang on to those attitudes, stating that women cannot be priests or ministers and the man is head of the household.

But most of the traditional churches are moving away from those beliefs based on stories written thousands of years ago. Protestant seminaries are crammed with women studying to be ministers. We are living in more enlightened times.

I don’t worry so much about what the churches say anyway. If someone chooses to believe that sex without a desire to conceive is a sin and not use birth control, that is personal business. It becomes impersonal when freedom of choice for every woman is threatened.

I think this is a good time to take a good look at the issue of women’s rights in general and check out your own attitudes about sexual behavior. Is it all the woman’s fault in your world?

Ask Yourself

Do I want to change any of my personal attitudes?

Do I want to investigate this issue?

Do I want to tell my legislators how I feel?

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Gifts of History

OneworldThe History Fairy gave me three gifts this week, she blessed me with old memories and new insights. Thank God for history and all the people who live, record, and study it.

         My first gift was a woman from Columbia University who is writing her Master’s thesis on the Sunfire series of teenage historical novels. I wrote several in the series. She graduated from Yale and   plans to get her doctorate in American Studies.

It is always a pleasure to hear from fans. When she interviewed me, she told me she loved my books because they were about independent women with interesting work  and I felt as though I had a part in her success. It also reminded me that things can change. When I  wrote those books, Yale didn’t even accept women.

The Sunfires were different from my other teen romances because they were based on actual history. I have always loved historical fiction and I loved researching and writing them. Mine were about a one-room schoolteacher, a Lowell mill girl, a telegraph operator caught the Johnstown flood, a 1930’s movie star, and a young woman during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My favorite was Corey – an escaped slave who walked to Philadelphia freedom. The Sunfire series was a first and Corey was an even bigger first because it pictured a black heroine.

The History Fairy also brought two impersonal gifts. They were TV documentaries on the Freedom Riders  and the Women’s Movement. Both events touched my life personally.

I have had a deep interest in racial equality since I was  fourteen, and attended a teen conference sponsored by the American Friends Society. One of the presenters was a Philadephia Quaker named Bayard Rustin. He spent the war in prison as a conscientious objector and then began a  struggle for equality in the South.

Rustin absolutely fascinated me. He wore denim work shirts and played the guitar even though he was a very educated man. He taught us enthralling protest songs that were as inspiring as his words. I had never met anyone like him and I fell in love because I was a silly young girl, but I also fell even more deeply in love with his message.

I never learned much about him. I know he was with A. Philip Randolph, and organized of the March on Washington. I believe he spent most of his life in the shadows of the movement because of his homosexuality. It is only recently that I’ve seen his name and work openly acknowledged.

As I watched that documentary on the violent confrontations in Alabama and the prison jamming in Mississippi, I realized  how slowly ideas change. I was also reminded how important courage is. Those “agitators” of the early ‘60’s saved the soul of our nation. I believe  those amazing non-violent young people are the true spiritual leaders of our time.

I’ve known for a long time  that poverty is the partner of ignorance and education is the key to change.I have learned that good laws create new opportunity and they do eventually work.  It was wonderful to see that Truth condensed into one TV show. I  realized things have changed for the better. Not finished, but changed.

I was a small contributor to the march toward equality – a few dollars, a few parades. I volunteered for a few social programs, did a few press releases for Rep. Shirley Chisholm’s campaign, volunteered for classroom assignments where I could do some good.Over the last 66 years my ideals have not wavered and I know that foot soldiers  are important to the march of history.

I was very glad so much was caught on tape. Thank God for brave journalists. I was also sad as I remembered how naive we were. In the beginning, we mostly believed racism was limited to the South. Not so. But I believed it then. Didn’t I have friends who were black? I know better now.

The second show reminded me I’ve changed a lot of ideas about women’s issues as well.  I’m ashamed to remember that in the early seventies, I told my  boyfriend I wasn’t a feminist. He was black and he said quietly, “Then you don’t know what’s been done to you.”

I think I resisted jumping on the feminist bandwagon because I wanted to be beautiful and sexy and successful. The propaganda about the women’s movement was ugly and  fierce. I did join NOW almost immediately and I did go to those consciousness raising meetings.

My consciousness may not have been raised as much s startled when the leader suggested my   problems might not all be psychological. She said they were sociological! I was busy  having an identity,or mid-life crisis. At any rate, I chose to be an aging hippie instead of a insistent feminist. It never occurred to me just to be ordinary.

Part of my resistance was that I detested thinking of myself as a victim. However, when I got drunk, I whined a lot. I obviously thought my life was pretty unfair.  Also, I desperately wanted to believe Prince Charming was out there somewhere and would be coming along to save me very soon.

In the end, Prince Charming let me down and I sobered up. With the help of Bill W and Ernest Holmes, I combined my spiritual emergence with attention to my feminine side. Two friends and I wrote a small workbook for women alcoholics. We started the first women’s meeting in town. Getting sober meant looking at my life in new ways.

As American life changed, I also changed. I learned to be grateful for my journey and to enjoy the remainder of the trip.  I thought I was getting smarter as I aged but it may have been that new ideas were exploding all around me and I didn’t want to miss the fun. Who knows?

That was then and this is now. What I know for now, for certain, is that we all very connected. On a clear day, I can see a direct line from Eleanor Roosevelt, my girlhood idol, to Michele Obama who is reinventing First Lady.

We all have a part to play in our march toward discovering our spirital magnificence. When one person finds more Light, it opens us all up to more Light.  The poet, John Donne wrote in the 1600’s. No man is an island… do not ask for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.

At age 14, I thought that poem about a bell was all about Gary Cooper blowing up a bridge for love of Ingrid Bergman. Now I know the poem was written for love of all of us. We Are One.

Ask Yourself

What are three  ideas  you changed over the years?

Why did they change?

Did your change impact others? How?


Dreams Can Come True

On Monday, a friend called and said, “ Your book, Dreams Can Come True, was on the Today show.”  There were several messages from other friends who saw the show. I am always amazed at the powerful reach of TV.

Later that day, my daughter sent me a clip of the show and I watched it. If I can figure out how to do it, I will put a link out later this week.

The reason the book was on TV is that the Today Show has a new host – Savannah Guthrie – and they were introducing her to the audience. Apparently Dreams Can Come True was her favorite book as a young teen.

The other host, Matt Lauer, read from the back cover and tried to tease her about the plot which is all about wanting to be a cheerleader and catching the most popular football hero as a boyfriend.  I was happy when she defended the book, saying, “It was a good book.”

I was also bit dismayed at how much trouble they went to make their new host look like a silly girl. After all, the woman is an accomplished journalist and she’s read lots of other books since she was in 7th grade.

It threw me back to those days (1982) when I was a member of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and we were trying to pass the ERA Amendment. NOW kept calling me and I kept sending them money. My contributions came from the money I was making writing teenage romances.

The book is out of print now and it was fun to see the cover on a national TV show. We all enjoy our 15 seconds of fame. I hope it was helpful to Ms. Guthrie and the thousands of other young women who read it back then. I’ve always been proud of my career as a writer for teenagers, even though I moved on to spiritual writing.

In those days, I was happy to be making good money at a craft I’d struggled with for years. I was able to write books girls loved because I had been a teacher and I knew teenagers. It never seemed inappropriate to me to write about  a young  girl’s search for popularity and young love. They always learned some life-lessons along the way. Lessons in self-reliance and integrity, as well as how to get what you want.

I’m not sure I’d be able to write most of the stuff that I see pushed on TV now. That is because I have changed and times have changed. I am older, more deeply involved in my spiritual teaching, and I haven’t been in a classroom for more than 35 years. As I said, times have also changed. But…

Times haven’t changed – up until now – as much as I wanted. While there are some gains in women’s lives, we never did get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. Women still make 77 cents on the dollar that men make in the same jobs. While there are more women in visible TV spots, they are nearly all beautiful. There are still not many women (beautiful or not) politicians at the state or national level.

What’s more, it seems as if the gains we made over the years are being pushed back as fast as politicians

(who say they are all about jobs but spend their time pushing against equal rights) can push.

I am concerned that our political future may be deeply impacted by unlimited and undisclosed contributions from a few “fat cats”.  It was not the future I expected back in the 70’s and 80’s when the lives of women and other “minority” groups seemed on track to get so much better.

If you had told any of us who were working for the passage of the ERA amendment that the rights and support of women and children would be in grave danger now, we wouldn’t have believed it. Access to abortion, birth control, child health care, and nutrition programs is absolutely important to the health of this nation.

I don’t care how much people long for the good old days that never existed. Nostalgia for simpler times is a poison pellet this country must not swallow. Believe me, there was never a time when all girls wanted was to be popular cheerleaders. Those teenage romances were about as realistic as the Cosby show.

I love to watch old movies and am almost addicted to screwball comedies of the Thirties but I don’t believe that people lived like that in real life. They were simply entertainments. We should never confuse entertainment with fact. Plus, time can never run backwards.

That said, I am very happy to have Dreams Can Come True acknowledged as, “a good book” by a successful and visible child of the 80’s. It is always amazing and wonderful how wide those pebbles we toss into the lake can go.  I wish her well in her new spot.

As for my own current career. I will be speaking on Rev. Beverly Molander’s radio show next Monday at 1 pm. You can access the show by going to http://www.unity.fm/program/AffirmativePrayer. That invitation came because of the book’s brief appearance on the Today show.

I am finishing up my Emerson class this Thursday and it has been wonderful to revisit that fabulous thinker and his friends.  This has been an exceptionally bright group of students and they especially enjoyed watching my lectures that I made 20 years ago. I especially enjoyed being reminded of that  110 pound weight loss.

My meditation coloring book is done and I will be writing about it soon.

I will be speaking in church on Sunday, July 29th, and I think my talk will be about Summer Reading. Any suggestions?

Please Share

What was your favorite book as a kid?

What is your favorite New Thought book?

 


Wise Women Gather

In two months, on Saturday, May 12, a group will gather at Unity in Tustin CA for an all day Wise Woman Celebration. My good friend, Rev. Rachel Lampert organized one of these all day conferences a few years ago and it was such a success that she is doing it again. I am happy to be delivering the keynote talk and as far as I am concerned, this is a great time to remember we have the power to change. We are the majority!

            When I wrote the book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, sixteen years ago, several people told me the topic was too late – that women’s issues were all over. I was amazed at how certain they were that women had marched in a few parades, burned a few bras and then lived happily ever after. Many of the women I was met in my ministry were struggling with balancing time, family, and work and needed to learn how to set successful boundaries. Many needed clarity and courage.

It seemed to me that Women in New Thought had some real strengths because their belief system allowed them full power by right of Divine Inheritance. Since we define God as the Creative Energy of the Universe (non-gender), women could easily accept that God wanted them to expand and grow and have wonderful lives. On the other hand, we all came from somewhere and we all carried a lot of that “somewhere thinking” with us into our days.

It also seemed to me that Women in New Thought had an especially confusing task of being loving and not letting people trample on them. They also had a higher vision of what their lives could be like and were ready and willing to change anything that needed to change. The book’s most important message was that we are not victims. We can use simple metaphysical principles to take charge of our lives. We model a balance of love and power that is unique in many ways.

Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, is still in print and the book still sells pretty well. It is the genesis of this May 12 th conference (although there will be many independent women presenting their specialties). It has been the genesis of many Wise Woman weekends in the past. I trained over a hundred women to lead Wise Women groups and there are several Wise Women groups still operating. I get messages fairly often from readers who tell me how the book helped them. At this point – I count the project a total success. But not finished!

The conference in Tustin is another new beginning. It will be my privilege to be keynote speaker and there will be talks and workshops by others on sexuality, music, storytelling and many other subjects. If you want more information go to celebratewisewomen@yahoo.com. If you register before March 15 the price will be $36.00. After that, I think it goes to $50 but you need to check that out for yourself.

As far as I am concerned, this conference could not come at a better time. Ideas and cultural beliefs change slowly and only if we are persistent. When we elected Obama, we had a choice of a black man or a white woman. They were both exceptional and well qualified. The very fact that they were our candidates was thrilling. But that wasn’t the end of the story.  I think some people thought that we could put the whole civil rights issue in a big sack and store it way up on the top shelf. That’s clearly not happening.

Sometimes resistance to change gets stronger in reaction to apparent gains. I think that is apparent right now. Civil rights issues are in the limelight. And there is a lot to heal. Unemployment is greatest among minorities. We hear quite a bit about same-sex marriage and don’t-ask-don’t tell policies in the military. Civil rights for same-sex couples in a long way from achieved.

Nor is the issue of women’s rights healed. If you watch the news, women seem to be losing ground. Now basic choice and health rights are threatened. You notice that there are very few boards of corporations or educational institutions or governments or any other seats of power even if the women members are in the majority. Nor is the representation of blacks and Hispanics anywhere near their statistical numbers in the United States.

This Wise Woman Celebration on May 12th will be about personal issues. It is not political. Every one of us will have a chance to take a look at our lives, our choices, our boundaries and limits and our hopes and dreams. The whole day will be devoted to personal empowerment and it is open to women of all political persuasions.

However, I am already planning my few choice words. I believe there is nothing more political than the issue of personal freedom. Women must not submit to becoming victims in any way. We must find the courage and clarity to take charge of our lives. It is time to wake up and speak up. There’s nothing like a good book or good conference to wake us up.

My plan for May 12th is to take a look at the future as well as be happy about the past. How about you? What are your plans for that day?

Ask Yourself

Do I want more information about the conference?

Do I want to read Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues? ( Note – order it by going to the New Thought Works bookstore on this blog).

How am I feeling about my personal freedom?

Is this an issue for me to speak up about?

How shall I begin?


Speak Up

Some people watch reality shows, I watch political news because I find it  more entertaining. You can’t tell me that the Beverly Hills Housewives could possibly be more profligate than our government tax loopholes . Snooky is no more amazing than the crop of Republican candidates for President. The news sometimes makes me want to laugh or cry about how far we still have to go  in this nation. Recently, the talk shows were all about a book that criticized the White House for the sexist attitudes toward women. We are still on the path, I suppose, but we’re travelling slowly.

 

When I wrote Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues, some people told me it was too late – women’s issues were all over. I was amazed at how certain they were that, because women had marched in a few parades and burned a few bras, everything was fine. The women I knew were still barely balancing work and career. Many of them were supporting children without much emotional or financial support from fathers. Just about all of them were making less than their male colleagues. Very few of my women friends were living  happily ever after. Even if they were quite happy, they were juggling jobs and always on the alert.

My Wise Woman book is still in print 14 years later and it is still selling well. I’m doing another workshop in May and I get letters from churches who have women’s groups that are continuing into their second, fifth or tenth year. Maybe I ought to send a few copies to the White House?

The truth is that ideas and cultural beliefs change slowly and only if we are persistent. When we elected Obama, we had a choice of a black man or a woman. They were both exceptional and well qualified. Most of my friends had a hard time deciding but we found our choice of candidates was thrilling.

I think some people wanted to say everything was healed now and we could put the whole civil rights and the women’s rights issues in a big sack and store them way up on the top shelf. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Suddenly, we heard quite a bit about same-sex marriage and “don’t ask don’t tell” policies in the military. It was as if the media suddenly discovered a new issue. I can tell you that the issue of civil rights for gays has been around a long, long time.  As is true for other minorities, gay civil rights is better, but it is not healed.

Nor is the issue of women’s rights healed. You may notice that there are very few boards of corporations or educational institutions or governments or any other seats of power that have a majority of women on them. Nor is the representation of blacks and Hispanics anywhere near their statistical numbers in the United States. I have no doubt that at least some of the hatred toward out current president is based on race.

Change comes slowly or not at all when we are asleep at the switch. Right now we need to wake up and see what is really happening in our nation. When there is a strong belief that there is not enough to go around, it is difficult to get those on top to share. We are experiencing a lot of fear about falling behind, about jobs and about money.

New Thought followers need to speak up and proudly proclaim what we know. This is a spiritual system that has been happy to have women, minority and gay people among its leaders since the very beginning. We are probably one of the most equalitarian organizations in the nation. We are certainly the most equal opportunity religious groups.

At the very beginning of the New Thought movement, there were more women leaders than men. We have had many well-known gay ministers and people of color. We see that every human being is a unique and individualized expression of God, no matte what gender, sexual orientation or color he or she may be. We are true to our beliefs and I am very proud of that.

New Thought leaders need to step up and speak out for equal opportunity for everyone. We are the perfect people to do it because we have a spiritual teaching based on the idea of God as Unlimited Power and Possibility. We also know better than any other people on the planet that the Creative Nature of the Universal Mind can always come up with new ideas, new inventions and new systems.

As you move into this new year, I hope you will pay attention to the cultural belief system that surrounds you. Without making anyone evil, you can speak up on issues that mean something to you. Are you in favor of good education? Are you in favor of taxing the rich equally with the poor? Are you in favor of electing officials because of their conviction and honesty, rather than because of how much money they can raise?

Speak up. This is the perfect time to be heard.

Ask Yourself

When I am in a crowd of “regular people” do I tell them what I believe?

Do I know who my congressman or woman is? What that person votes for?