Symbol or religious mandate? The curious case of Ms Eweida

I’m not one to go running to the defense of the evangelical, but I find myself trying to figure this whole “Ms. Eweida” thing out.  Let’s toss the facts out and go from there.

At issue is what constitutes a mandate by faith, what is simply an expression, and what are the rights of private sector employees with regard to religious adornments.

Our story begins in 2006 with British Airways.  Ms. Eweida, an evangelical, is told that her cross does not constitute a “necessary” expression of her faith–not like the religious requirements of hijabs, skikhs, or turbans.

“Between 20 September 2006 and 3 February 2007, the respondent prevented the appellant from attending work when she visibly wore the cross and did not pay her as a result, ” Nick Fagge, of the reports.

British Airways, with it’s strict  employee dress code, is also rumored to have not allowed employees to wear political symbols as well.

But this makes sense doesn’t it?  You’re not a walking billboard at your job (unless you’re literally paid to be a walking billboard).  Personally, the only reason I wear my American Atheists pendant (minus spite, of course) is because so many people have crosses on that I feel like I need to even the viewing a bit.

But, if my job said no jewelry, and it does not specific except crosses or other small
shiny things, then one can safely assume that a cross is included.

Why?  Because you won’t go to hell for not wearing a cross–Muslim women (rightly, or wrongly,) truly believe that they have damned their souls if they fail to wear the Hijab.

It’s not the same as an nice old lady not wanting to take her cross off–

at least in my book, anyway.

Carl Gardner from The Guardian sums it up greatly

Why, though, should religious jewellery be in a category apart, the freedom to wear it more protected by law than the freedom to wear any necklace? That isn’t freedom, but religious privilege.

You can find his full article here.

Supreme Court decides against Little Wesley’s favorite book–are they wrong?

Our story begins rather simply, as these cases typically do.  It is October 2004 and Donna Busch, parent of our protagonist, was invited to speak to the class during little Wesley’s “about me week” in his Kindergarten class.  Any mommy capable of squeezing time from work knows that the kindergarten visit is really special.  The teacher, Ms. Riley extended a visit, and Ms. Busch accepted.  One of the “about me week” activities including bringing in a favorite book to read aloud to the class.

According to court documents, Wesley chose the Bible because “of his Christian belief and because a reading from the Bible would express to the class an important aspect of his life and personality.”

Mind you, this wasn’t a kiddie Bible like the little doll to my left is holding (though that would have been inappropriate as well), this was the good ‘ol King James Version itself.  Mommy was slated to read from the Psalms.


Pause.  Yes, being a Christian is a part of any child’s world and personality–if parents feed it to them.  But let’s say for the sake of argument that little Wesley’s favorite book IS the Bible…little Wesley can barely read–so he hasn’t read the Bible.  Does “it’s an important aspect of my life” sound like it comes out of a 5-year old’s mouth?  No Dr. Seuss? No Junie B. Jones?  Just straight to the tough stuff eh?

Why this mother didn’t explain to her child that bringing a Bible into a class as “a favorite book” is inappropriate is beyond me.  The Bible is more than a book–

Did this mother consider the wishes of the other students’ parents?  Did she consider that in terms of the separation of church and state, she would have to discuss how the Bible is not the only book about God, and how there are some people who don’t even believe that God is real in order to not favor Christianity above another faith?  No elementary school principal would have allowed that, hence, no Bible reading, right?

NO–she wanted to promote the “goodness” of the Christian faith.  Period.  A kindergarten class is not the place for such discussions.


So the teacher, as Ms. Busch was preparing to read, stopped her and requested that the principal decide if this was a violation of the separation of church and state–Good job Teach!  It is definitely above her pay grade to make such decisions, and honestly, her job was at stake.  Suppose the parent of an Atheist, or a Muslim or student of another faith had complained?  She could have easily lost her job.

The Principal requests that the parent choose a book that does not violate the separation of church and state, and one that is more appropriate for the Kindergarten level.

The parent (after loud discussions in the hallway the children could hear from the room) chose to read a different book about counting.


The lawsuit was filed namely because not only was little Wesley denied his right to freedom of religion by not allowing his mother to read the book, I mean the Bible (same thing, right?), but also Wesley began exhibiting behavior that was highly unusual:

1-he began to kick and scream daily before having to go school, according to the lawsuit.

2-As his mother had read the Bible before school at the breakfast table with no complaint, little Wesley began to stop her, saying, “it was bad to read the Bible…because my teacher had told him so.”

Also, all the other religions had a fair shot at Wesley’s school–particularly Judaism:

3.10-3.13 of the Factual History in the affidavit state that “students were allowed to read a book abut Judaism, place the star of David on the monthly calendar in the class, [the children were taught] the Dreidel game, and though the school did have a Christmas tree, it was renamed a “Giving Tree.” Also, “kindergartners and first-graders placed a witches finger on their finger while they were reading.”

Based on this, Ms. Wesley felt that the school was demoting Christianity while promoting other faiths.  You can read the district’s legal response by clicking here.

Court findings

In 2007, the district court sided with the school district, saying that though the district engaged in discrimination, it was within the rule of law.  It was inappropriate for the Bible to be read in that setting.

Then, in 2009,

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling, finding that “educators may appropriately restrict forms of expression in elementary school classrooms” even when they have invited speakers into the classroom. However, Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman issued a vigorous dissent, pointing out that the reading of a passage from Psalms to Wesley’s class was within the subject matter of the “All About Me” unit, and the exclusion constituted viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment because it was based solely upon its religious character.

On January 19, 2010, The US Supreme Court refused to hear the case, committing what John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, (which took the case) called “hostility toward religion in the public schools.”


The Fallout

Few people understand the frustration a court case, especially one of this magnitude, can have on a family.  The stress of preparing, taking off work–again and again, having your name sloshed through papers; having children mock your child.

Sometimes, just sometimes, things aren’t as big a deal as we make it.  For example, my girls came home singing a song they’d learned in school:

them bones them bones gonna walk around,

now hear the words of the Lord!

them bones them bones gonna walk around,

them bones them bones gonna walk around,

Yes, I was ticked.  No, I did not file a lawsuit.  I did not request that the music teacher be fired.  I waited 24hrs.  I wasn’t mad anymore, my kids weren’t severely injured, and I simply sent a short email to the music teacher asking her to please choose songs that are secular.

End of story.

Now, Wesley doesn’t like school, he apparently thinks reading the Bible is a bad thing–and that the Bible itself is bad.  Also, a nice family routine (though I disagree with it) has been forever altered.

It’s not my place to say that Ms. Busch should not  have filed the lawsuit; I will say that it is hard to believe–given the archaic and convoluted nature of the Bible–that five year Wesley was enraptured only by that book.  If there was absolutely no age-appropriate, religious-free book that could have been chosen, then that Wesley is truly a picky kid!


Sources used:

Worldnet Daily

The Rutherford Institute

For a complete history of the court case, you can visit the Marple Newton School District’s website by clicking here.

Which Trijicon scope would Jesus have?

The news of late has brought to light a serious violation of the separation of church and state.  Trijicon, the company responsible for the sights on over 800,000 guns used by American soldiers since 2005 has, not so secretly, added tiny Bible inscriptions their products–and apparently, not a single government agency knew about it.

Meet Trijicon

Trijicon is a weapons manufacturer, focusing on rifle sites for personal and military use.  The founder, Glyn Bindon, passed away in 2003.  Since then, the company has inscribed New Testament verses, encoded on the guns, in honor of the devout Christian.  A quick scan of their “about us” page really puts things into focus:

• Morality
We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.

When the the US Marine Corps signed their multi-year contract with Trijicon in 2005; the rifles were already being produced with the bible inscriptions.   And according to the hard work of journalist Brian Ross at ABC news, we’ve learned that his same (fundamentalist?) company will receive millions more in government contracts from the US Army in the coming years.

And let’s be clear, Trijicon makes highly sophisticated weaponry–the scope on my glock uses their technology.  And, when I told my husband the name of the scope manufacturer, he had nothing but praise to offer Trijicon.

Does “In God We Trust” = Holy War?

In roaming the internet about the story and the company, I found that many people thought this was another “liberal” cry of foul play–and a complete waste of time.  Gun forums are in love with the rifle: “hey, it was bought with money that says ‘In God We Trust.’  Nobody says anything about that.”

In their article, Joseph Rhee and Mark Schone (posted on The Blotter from Brian Ross)  quote Maj. John Redfield, a spokesperson for CentCom (the U.S. military’s overall command in Iraq and Afghanistan)  Redfield’s response mirrored what’s been circulating among gun enthusiasts:  “The perfect parallel that I see…is between the statement that’s on the back of our dollar bills, which is ‘In God We Trust’… and we haven’t moved away from that.”

Now, I’m no fan of the God quote on money, and I recognize that clear violation of the separation of church and state.  I also think that adding Jesus references to a gun and money on a dollar bill don’t equate–especially when those guns are used in what many (including our former president) have termed a holy war.

The view from afar

A lesson in perspective is necessary for all those who justify making Jesus a weapon:  If rifles were used to kill American men, women, and children, and they had inscriptions of the Koran embedded in them, would that be no big deal?

Hell yea Biblical inscriptions are a big deal.  They’re an ass load of a big deal, and here’s why

* first, it CLEARLY sends the message that America is a Christian nation–who has God’s righteousness on her side.

*  Adding Jesus to the mix only serves the purpose of those who chant “death to America.”  How?  It only takes on Islamic extremist to grab that gun, place in front of a camera, and analyze the scripture the same way that news reporters and bloggers have done in recent days–and they don’t have to be a genius to figure out the connection.

*  A few million Muslims witnessing blatant intrusion of Christianity into the war can (and should) only read that message one way: Christ v. Muhammad.

* Muslim children will be indoctrinated with the messages above, and they will intern view America with disdain and contempt.

* and it OVERTLY violates the separation of church and state.  I am a taxpayer, and I do not want money going towards the purchase of weapons with Bible inscriptions (not even the good ones).  There’s no need to mix war and faith; tyranny is the only result.


It’s frustrating that words keep pouring out and organizing them is so difficult–my first thought is to grab a picket sign and stand downtown until my elected officials uphold the constitution–but apparently, no one knew about it until Ross began his investigative reporting (that’s a load of sthit hogwash!)

I am completely irrational on the subject–

Why aren’t Christians up in arms about this crap too?  Don’t they see that their faith is being used to manipulate their actions?  To turn them against a group of people for no other reason than their perspective on life differs?

Jesus (whether historical or mythical) was not a violent man.  Yes, in Matthew he said that those who do not follow him don’t deserve his protection, or his miracles, but generally I think he was a man of peace.  I find it interesting that most people would find the image to the right grossly offensive, and yet turn a blind eye to the reality of Jesus as a weapon.

And even if he personally wasn’t, the Christian faith views him as such.  Adding his words to  weapons that are used to rape and murder, kill and conquer, loot and destroy–oh and free people from oppressed dictatorships, I guess–is disgusting.

The question becomes where do we go from here?  Who authorized the contract, and, with Trijicon being so overt in their proselytizing, why didn’t the US Government stipulate that those inscriptions would not be added to weapons used by American soldiers?  I would like to thank Brian Ross for his excellent reporting–here’s his Nightline report–he seems to be in total control :)

Udate (1/22/10): Biblical references to be taken off scopes permanently

Update (1/21/10):  Muslim Anger over Trijicon Scopes

New Zealand army will remove inappropriate citations

The sex scene that wasn’t……

We were always told to close our eyes.  “Don’t look!” some random adult would yell during scenes of sexual intimacy.   I always wondered what they were doing, and I must confess my brown fingers divided more than usual on occasions.  Sex was such a mystery–the one truth no one would explain.

My husband, whose father was a minister
My husband, whose father was a minister

My husband, whose father was a minister, required the covering of the eyes over even kissing scenes in movies; my hubby bathed alone at 2 to avoid his sisters (10 years his senior) “looking” at his body parts.  American parents are so scared of their kids making catastrophic sexual decisions that they prefer to completely remove sex from the situation.  But study after study proves NOT talking to kids about sex is the surest way to have kids make poor sexual decisions as teens and in adulthood.

I am a parent who values truth and honesty.  Since my girls were little, they’ve known what a penis is, where it is located, and what its basic functions are.  Diddo for the big V.  Sex has never been scary or taboo in our home.  We have however chosen to avoid sexually explicit images and situations on TV and in movies.   But lately, I’ve found myself wanting to challenge this notion.

Enter one of my favorite movies, Love and Basketball.  It’s a movie that our whole family can watch and enjoy–but it has a sex scene: no parts are visible, but the act is definitely captured.

My typical rule is if it makes me aroused, then my girls probably don’t need to watch it.  I don’t want my girls growing up ignorant of sex, but I also don’t want to spoon feed it to them as babies.  Usually, we just skipped over that part when  the girls were watching and moved on with the show–we did the same thing for X-Men III, another family watch.

This time however, I asked my husband what he thought about allowing the girls to watch the sex scene–I didn’t want to sensor the movie anymore.

“Well,” he said, “they don’t show anything.  And, they have learned about sex, we’ve read books with pictures of penis’ and vaginas; I suppose it’s only a matter of time before they see  sex.”

I countered: “should we be there?  Should we sit and watch the movie through the sex scene to see how they respond?  Studies have proven that a child’s first sexual encounter (visual or physical) has lasting effects.”

“No–well, you can. I’m not. What kid wants to sit next to their dad while people are kissing and touching? GROSS!!
“No–well, you can. I’m not. What kid wants to sit next to their dad while people are kissing and touching? GROSS!!

“No–well, you can.  I’m not.  What kid wants to sit next to their dad while people are kissing and touching?  GROSS!!

“And,” he continued, “would you want YOUR parents sitting next to you watching something like that?  The scene happens around two young people who trust one another, and who are committed to one another (well, you have to watch the whole movie).  It’s completely natural for parents to be uncomfortable watching sex with their kids–why try to fight it?” He added, “if they have questions, they know we’re here.”

As I walked away from the TV after starting the movie, the girls immediately stopped me.  “Isn’t there a skip part in here?”  They knew EXACTLY where it was–

“Yes.  You two are older now; we’re not skipping that scene anymore.  Yes, it is a sex scene.  No, there are no body parts shown.  No, you don’t have to watch it if you don’t want to, buy you guys can handle the scene.”

Of course since it was one of my favorite movies, and because I was honestly conflicted about whether or not my eight and nine year-0ld girls should see such a sex scene, I hung around.  As the scene got closer and closer, I became more agitated.  I worried that I would set them up for sexual promiscuity; I worried it would change their viewpoint of sex and intimacy; I worried so much that I went downstairs to talk to my  husband again about it.

“They aren’t going to become porn stars because they see two people kissing and holding each other with music in the background.  This is a kid friendly movie, it’s a realistic movie, and they can handle it.”

So I trudged back upstairs and waited for the fallout.

What happened?  The girls got up as the scene was happening, got a drink of water and a quick snack.  They saw the beginning kiss, and the ending stare–apparently, they didn’t want to see anything more.

I didn’t ask questions, but I got to thinking.  My girls are good at choosing what they want to be exposed to: they routinely leave the room when we watch shows with gore (like my beloved House), and anything scary they completely shun.  I suppose if they don’t care for overtly sexual images,  they’ll just do the same thing–they’ll leave.

We have a rule in our house that says whenever we allow you to watch a movie, you can have total access to it: when we are asleep, or otherwise busy, you don’t have to ask to watch the movie.  Now that Love and Basketball has been added to the list, they still don’t care for the sex scene.

Sex is a continual conversation; it shouldn’t happen just once.  We know that trying to control a teen’s sex habits typically results in failure.  My goal as a parent is to start a conversation about sex early; a real conversation.  Not one that ends in hell, but one that ends in a person who feels good about who they are and the choices they’ve made.  Otherwise, they learn about sex from TV, ignorant friends, and bad experiences.

Does Allah have anything nice to say in Sura 2?

My reading of verses 55-100 of the Sura 2, The Cow, left me wondering if Allah ever says anything nice.  These verses continue the previous conversation of how Allah helped M0ses to free the Jews.

According to the Koran, it was Allah (not the Christian God) who gave Moses the power to save his people:

And when Moses asked for water for his people, We said: Smite with thy staff the rock. And there gushed out therefrom twelve springs (so that) each tribe knew their drinking-place. Eat and drink of that which Allah hath provided, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the earth. (2:60)

Then, things take an ugly turn, for the Koran clearly states that

humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them [the Jews]and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully.

So the Jews turned against god Allah.  This is big in my book.  It links the hatred of Jews to the Koran.  Now, I should be clear: not all Muslims hate Jews; that’s infantile thinking.  However, I do not believe I’m far from the mark in stating that many Muslims acknowledge the Koran as the word of Allah, and Allah clearly punished the Jews.  Of course, the next verse states that

those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.

We’ve seen this kind of inconsistency before in the Bible, and apparently, it is present in the Koran as well.   My hypothesis is that Islamic apologists will say that this inconsistency means that Allah is forgiving, he’s merciful, and that he will allow you a second chance.  But this is conjecture.

And now we meet the Cow

It is in the next verses of scripture that we see Moses attempting to convince the Jewish people that they should sacrifice a cow, as Allah has commanded.  But the Jews refuse.  In the end however, Moses is able to convince them.

If we look at the cow as a symbol, clearly it represents a sacrifice of that which is precious (meat–life sustaining food) to Allah in a show of humility.  I would suspect that the Jews unwillingness–in terms of literary analysis–would prove them stubborn, and self-centered from the point of view of those reading the Koran.  Why wouldn’t a people submit willingly to Allah?

Allah raises the dead!!!!

Allah, like the Christian God, has the power to raise the dead.  We learn of his abilities in Sura 2:73: “And We said: Smite him with some of it. Thus Allah bringeth the dead to life and showeth you His portents so that ye may understand.”

While this is not uncommon for a deity, it shows that the Christian God and the Muslim God are very much alike, both in temperament and power.  Sura 2:74 also reminds us that Allah, like “God”, is “aware of what ye do.”

Breeding distrust

I find it interesting that the Koran takes the next several verses in The Cow to question the sincerity of “those who say they believe.”  It gives great insight into the most ardent in the faith, and why they so regard the Koran in a literal sense; there unflinching support of every word in the Koran is what Allah demands.  If not, they are not “really” faithful.

Sura 2:83 offers a piece of (somewhat) secular positivity: “be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor-due.”  It seems to be the only verse that isn’t recanting the negativity of evil doers, or discussing the need for praising Allah above all else.

Jesus: prophet of Allah?

Surah 2:87 is rather unique.  Apparently, the writers of the Koran, probably in an attempt to convert Christians, actually pronounces Jesus as a prophet of Allah

And verily We gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of messengers to follow after him, and We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah’s sovereignty), and We supported him with the Holy spirit. Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay?

In addition to converting Christians, adding Jesus has the added bonus of legitimacy: if Jesus is part of the Koran, and Jesus is real, then the Koran is true–so the logic would go.

Long for death…..

This part of the Koran is a bit scary.  It states that if you are a believer, then you should “long for death” (2:94).  This is the first clear sign that Allah would love it if you brought death to yourself.  There’s no mistaking where suicide bombers get their motivation in the Koran.  And as we are still in the opening Suras, I can only suspect that “longing for death” will be a repeated trope in the holy book.


I stopped reading at Sura 99, partially because life was calling, but mostly because I needed time to think.  I found myself confirming things about Islam that I didn’t want to.  Is Allah a violent God instead of the beneficent, and the merciful?  The first few pages of a novel often fails to reveal the “inner layers of truth”.  It takes awhile before you can make an assumption about the author, the narrator, and the characters that lie within.

And so, I’m working to keep a clear frame of reference.  Sura two had more references to how evil doers (and those who do not believe) will be punished than it did on Allah’s merciful ways to be sure; I feel like I’m reading Leviticus or something.

After reading Sura 2, a child would hate Jews

There is no doubt that Allah has disdain for Jews.  If a child were to read just the first 100 verses that I’ve read, they would take away from it an idea that Jewish people are too vain, and too stubborn to love Allah–they are disbelievers who will be punished in the hereafter.

Also, a child could only see “others” through a fog of negativity: others do not love Allah and his kindness; others do not fear the power of Allah and his powers; others are bad.

I sincerely hope the Koran, as I read, will change my mind…

Cogs, trolleys and jellybeans: a 21st-century board game for ages 7 and up

Sometimes it’s important for parents to realize that times are a changing.

You know, sometimes it’s important for parents to realize that times are a changing.

Take games for example.  When you and I were young–for those of us born before 1985–we played games on cardboard, with paper and pencil, with little pieces.

Those games still exist–thank goodness!–but most kids prefer the click of a mouse to a pencil.  In elementary classrooms, computer games are used to teach basic facts, and computer games offer a fun way to enhance reading skills, and basic scientific and geographic knowledge.

And of course, computer games are also for good of fashioned “lax time.”


It started by word of mouth.

“Mom, the next time we go online, can we go to so that we could play Toontown?”

“What’s Toontown?”

“Sharon plays it at her house and we got to play when we went over there.  It was so fun!  You got to be an animal (Sharon was a rabbit), and you got a house, and you could make friends…”

Her description of the cartoon world would never end; the hubby and I heard about Toontown for two more weeks.  The girls already had their favorite websites:, (which has now been taken over by the latter), disney fairies, and one requires monitoring/scanning of games).  From there you have the learning sites: (for reading), (math, reading, and everything else), andspaceplace (NASA).  But every time the girls wanted to sit down at the computer, it was only Toontown they wanted to play.

But we simply didn’t have the time to check out the site, create profiles, set parental controls, etc; we were in the middle of buying a house!

But the children were relentless–not once did they let me forget that it had been 2 days, 5 days, a week and more since I agreed to go online and check it out with them.

When the time came, I could see no red flags: it was essentially a role-player game online, made by Disney

When the time came, I could see no red flags: it was essentially a role-player game online, made by Disney.  The main goal of the game is to protect Toontown from the Cogs, the “evil robot businesspeople types that have invaded Toontown.”  To get rid of the Cogs, you have to make them happier.  You do this, oddly enough, by using gags, which you buy with jelly beans, the only currency used in Toontown.  You get jelly beans by riding the trolley, fishing, or playing other games in Toontown).

So I helped each kid set up their own (free) account, game time was monitored, and addicts they became!  They love Toontown—–

And for those of you RPG players, you know the addiction is real.  I’m in the middle of Dragon Age of Origins, and playing it is quite the ecstasy :-)

To Pay or not to pay? (Membership in Toontown)

Of course Disney isn’t going to offer a full-fledged online multiplayer game for free without a few carrots to draw in a few bucks; enter the household debate: Can we have a membership to Toontown?

Membership in Toontown costs $4.95 for the first month, and $9.95 for each additional month.

I said no outright.  “You’ve been playing for six months without a membership, you’ve had a great time, and you’ve never been upset before.”

This was a condescending and disrespectful thing to say to them–in addition to being a logical fallacy.  Just because they were happy before playing the game without membership did not mean that their current unhappiness was invalid.

What I should have said to the girls was how can you come up with a way to get the money needed every month for the subscription?  This encourages critical thinking and forces them to realize the power of even a few dollars.

Now I know that  games such as these are designed to let you only go so high, only interact superficially with the online world–until you pay for full access.  I’ve had those same feelings of disappointment when I realized how the scope of my play was limited without membership.  But I chose to NOT get an online subscription because I didn’t think they’re  worth “my allowance”.

But the children did have this as an option.  My girls get an allowance: $10 every two weeks, $1 of which must be put into a savings account.  That leaves $18 left for them to spend anyway they want.  So, I presented the option to the girls.

They accepted instantly.

Since each subscription will be $9.95 (of course there are no family packages that I’ve been able to find), I told their girls that each allowance I will take $5 bucks from their net amount (after they put their savings in).  They can keep the subscription until they don’t want to spend THEIR money on it anymore.

Today is the first day they’ve been able to play the full game.  Since Kansas City is snowed in (and has been for the last week), this is a welcome addition to the cabin fever of the present.

At the hubby’s request, they’ve been given extra game time (a significant amount).  He says that since they’ve paid for a game, they should at least be able to make themselves  intoxicated with it the first day–then they can go back to their normal routine.

I agreed.

If you haven’t heard of Toontown, there’s a good chance your kid has.  I think its a good, safe interactive game for young minds, and kids think its fun!  No book learning, but making friends, collecting things for their home, buying pets–it’s a wonderful life on Toontown!  Every now and then, I’ll notice a toon named “Ben’s mommy” or something like that–even parents gravitate……

monitor, monitor, monitor—and let your kid have a little fun!

You can learn more about the game at the toontown FAQ website.

SIDENOTE:  Yes, I have my gripes with Disney.  I could do with less pretty, perfect, white princesses who hate their life.  And even though I adore the Mulan Series, and I certainly have my favorite Disney movies ( I can’t STAND Pocahontas!), this game I can tolerate because it has nothing to do with movies!

How do you punish a punk?

I woke up this morning to the most insane instance of sibling rivalry to date.  It was eight o’clock, I was without coffee or sustenance, and I had two high-pitched girls yelping about cereal.

“Stop talking!”  Now, what happened?”

“She wouldn’t let me have the sugar this morning and so I had to eat my cereal without it,” my oldest complained.


“She grabbed the sugar container and held on to it the entire time we were eating!”  There were tears in her eyes.

That’s when I saw it: my youngest at one end of the table, salivating over each luscious bite of cheerios with sugar, her arm tightly clenched around the shiny white container while her sister, on the other side of the table, takes dull spoonful after spoonful of bland, sugarless cereal (all of you health nuts can shut up.  If you’re a kid, cheerios are awful without sugar).

I became enraged—looking at my oldest I said, “Why would you let her do that to you?  Why didn’t you go over there and take the sugar from her?  You are bigger than her, you are older than her, and you have a right to eat cereal with sugar just like she does!”

My youngest stood up for herself: “I gave it to her a couple of minutes later!”

“You did not!  I only had a couple of bites left….”

I wanted to tell her so many things parents aren’t supposed to say to their kids.  In the five seconds I stood holding my tongue, all I could think of was

Why the hell didn’t you snatch it from her?  Or knock her to the floor, kick her a couple of times, and tell her that the next time she does that shit she’ll be met with more of the same?


My husband was just as irate about the situation as I was, and he was in favor of blanket violence as well.  But I should be clear–having a home where anger is paired with open antagonism and violence isn’t my goal–

As a secular parent, I don’t have the luxury of being fake.  I want my daughters to have a fighting chance at success in their teen years and through adulthood.  That can only be accomplished if I am honest about how their actions would be perceived by those who do not love them as much as I.  I sat my oldest daughter down and I told her

you have a problem; you are too kind.  Because you are a nice person, a soft-spoken and loving person, people will take advantage of you in situations where you have to advocate for yourself—in situations where you might have to yell, push snatch or shove.  These are not things that you should do on a regular basis, of course, but if someone is bullying you–depriving you of basic rights because they “want” to, you have the right to stand up for yourself–like today, no one was there while the two of you ate breakfast.  Only you could have changed the situation.”

We’ve had this conversation several times before, as my oldest is painfully timid–

To my youngest, I said

You my daughter are being a bully, and this hurts me.  I love you, and I don’t want anyone to hurt you ever–not your sister and certainly no one else.  But, if you treat people the way that you treated your sister today at breakfast, someone will hurt you.  They will make sure that you know bullies get what they deserve.  If she would have snatched the sugar from you, knocked you down, or even called you rotten names–like bully, jerk, punk or asshole–you would have deserved it.  Please treat people the way that you want to be treated.

The hubby wasn’t about to let such a huge slight go without a punishment that could be felt–no I’m not talking about spanking.  He bought pizza.  The good kind.  Lot’s of pepperoni, just the way my youngest likes it.

Then he put a bowl of cheerios without sugar in front of her.

“It’s only fair that you know how a bowl of cereal without sugar tastes, and now everything is even….even Steven.”

“That’s fine.  I didn’t want pizza today anyway,” she said.  No way was she gonna give dad the satisfaction of winning.  And so she ate her cereal, and the oldest slobbered over pizza.

What else were we supposed to do?

The Outlier: 17, pregnant and happy

America has the highest teenage pregnancy rate of the developed world; we also have the highest teen abortion rate, at nearly 17 per 1,000 (1.7%) Nearly eight in ten of teenage pregnancies are unintended and the mothers are unmarried.

Yea, we’ve gotten better since the 90’s, but we still have work to do.

I’ve spent years telling my girls about the negative effects of teenage pregnancy, and they’re only eight and nine!  But a self-reflective parent knows that there’s always two sides to a coin.  Now I find myself questioning, what if I’m wrong?  What if, in a best-case scenario, 17 and pregnant turns out to be a good thing?

Case in point: I know a young lady who is 17 and currently with child.  I find myself at odds with how I discuss her case with my girls; they know her very well.  Sometimes, I’m totally happy for her; she is mature, forward thinking, and has been given essentially the same kind of realistic, secular parenting that I try to give my girls, and yet she CHOSE motherhood.

I cap my letters because it’s true: her parents talked with her exhaustively about birth control, safe sex and the like.  She knew where the local planned parenthood was, and she’d even counseled a friend who had become pregnant at her school.

She, at 17, is taking college classes and essentially done with high school–>having graduated one of the top in her class.  And yet, she gave all that up to be a mommy in short order.

So then, does 17 and pregnant mean that life is over?  I’ve always told my girls the answer is yes.  Yes, if you get “knocked up” as a teen-ager, life will be more difficult:

* your free time will be gone–infants OWN their parents

* deciding that you no longer want the responsibility (that extends well beyond the 18 years our law mandates) is not an option–without SERIOUS consequences

* traveling–out of the question

* social life–non existent

* college?—> Not the first year, if you value sanity


And then there are the outliers, the ones that make us believe it is possible to be have a wonderful, joyous life, young and pregnant.  The young lady I know is a perfect example.

But outliers are just that, they lie outside the norm.  Yes, you can be 17 and pregnant, and have it be a good thing for the mother and father in question.  There are dozens of cases where a young girl hunkers down at 16 or 17 with her high school sweetheart, they have a truckload of kids, and generally they live happily ever after.

Should we tell our young girls about these outliers…should they count?

Of course they should, and they do.

Outliers give useful information to young people; they let them know that if they are hell bent on making a decision that goes against modern wisdom, results can sometimes favor the gambler.

But I’ve made it clear to my girls, don’t be fooled by the Bill Gates’ of the world: deciding against college, not graduating high school, getting pregnant young, or jumping headfirst into other dangerous territory usually backfires.

The odds are stacked against the teenage mother.  I certainly wish my young friend all the best of luck and happiness in life; she is brilliant, strong-willed, and able to persevere should times get rough–and I gather they might.

Nevertheless, I told my girls that teenage pregnancy was a path that I would advise against; ultimately though parents, the choice rests with them—

Why?  Chances are, we won’t be around when they decided to “become a woman”.  We have to trust that we have given them the best possible information, and secured for them the most current options on all fronts.  From there all we parents can do is watch.

There’s a reason Sura 2 is called The Cow

It’s freakin huge!

Sura 2 of the Koran has 286 verses, and it’s plumpness is ripe with devotion.  I have divided The Cow into five sections–one post would not do.

Sura 2 opens with an almost arrogant stance of absolute truth:

” This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil).  Who believe in the Unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them. And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter.  These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful.” (2-4)

It sounds pretty cool.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be successful?  But then the Koran takes a turn for the worst.  The next dozen or so lines are devoted to the pains that await the disbeliever, and the evils of being two faced.

And by two-faced we mean no less than 100% devotion to Allah.  And Allah has a cruel punishment for those who forsake is love–aimless wandering.

Now, if you’re someone like my husband, you might be jumping for joy at the thought; my hubby would love nothing more than to be David Carradine,  walking with the sun at his back in Kung Fu.

But to Allah, this is a horrible predicament……..hmmm.  And Allah makes no qualms about his intentions in Sura 2, “And if ye do it not – and ye can never do it – then guard yourselves against the Fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones.” (24)

How would this pure and impossible devotion look to a child?  The same way the Bible’s stance on only following the rules of Jesus looks: really confusing.  What if Allah has rules that (OMG!!) make no sense, or are simply false?  Does that mean forsake what you KNOW is right so that you don’t burn in hell, FOREVER?

A sharp sting is also given to Muhammad, messenger of Allah, as Sura 2:23 calls him “Our slave Muhammad”–didn’t know quite what to make of that.

Good ole Adam also makes an appearance, as does the snake and the Garden of Eden.  That was a good tactic for Muslims in times past; you have to associate with the enemy’s religion if you wish to conquer and convert the people.  It reminds me of how Christians stole the pagan traditions that took place during the winter solstice and called it Jesus’ birthday–Christmas!


We also meet Iblis in Sura 2.  He’s described as a disbeliever, however a bit of searching revealed that he is essentially the name for “the devil” in the Koran.  So–the disbeliever is literally the devil; that’s a bit extreme from my viewpoint.  What if the disbeliever decides to donate enough blood to save three people’s lives…is he still evil?  Nevertheless, Iblis did not prostrate himself before Adam

“And when We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever.”  (34)  So those of us who don’t prostrate are WAY too prideful.  I often hear this from Christians—> “Atheists are arrogant, and lack humility.  Is praying the only way to be humble?

Who’s talking?

As an English teacher, my brain of course centers on the nit-picky details.  But in this case I think you’ll agree.  I had real trouble trying to find out if Allah was more than one person, or if Allah did not write the Koran.  I’m new to this, and hope my fellow readers will help me try to make some sense of things.  More than once, the speaker says WE instead of I.  We can only mean more than one, so…

My guess is the Koran suffers from the same plague that engulfed the Bible, namely that of inconsistencies.  Of course, I’m too far in to make an educated judgment; this is more of an unproven hypothesis, but jeez, if Allah is one entity, you’d think the spell checkers would have caught that one!

*          *          *          *          *

The end of the our 55 verses deals specifically with those of Jewish descent.  I found this to be quite fascinating.  The opening pages of the Koran, a Muslim holy book, spends quite a great deal of time pleading with the Jews to convert and accept the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon them:

“O Children of Israel! Remember My favour wherewith I favoured you and how I preferred you to (all) creatures.” (47)

“And (remember) when We did deliver you from Pharaoh’s folk, who were afflicting you with dreadful torment, slaying your sons and sparing your women.” (49)

“And when We gave unto Moses the Scripture and the criterion (of right and wrong), that ye might be led aright. 2:54 And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves.” (53)

It continues.

Apparently, it was Allah and the people of Islam that rescued the Jews from their perilous situation.  And it was the Allah gang that again saved the world by telling Moses the truth.  I was so angry when I began to try and make sense of it all, because I simply don’t have much expertise in the area of Islamic history, specifically how it intersects with Jewish history.  My inclination is that stretching the truth may be at work here, but alas, it’s just an inclination!

Honestly, I almost wish I had the courage to get a degree in theology.  It takes a lot of reading to find out if the Muslim holy book is false on this one.  Not only do you need a degree in theology, but you also need a degree in history.

My hope is that we’ll get some of both analyzing this post—cause I really wanna hear their info!

Does it really matter if Obama goes to church on Christmas? (Here’s a hint: no)

As I sloshed through the internet last night, I came across an article on  The headline, “White House Doesn’t Know If Obama Will Attend Church on Christmas”, had me shrugging my shoulders.

Who the hell cares if Obama will go to church on Christmas?

This man is responsible for running our country–which I might add is on the brink of utter collapse–and his Christmas habits are of issue?

He’s a bit busy–> We shouldn’t hold missing “Sunday services” against him.

I confused about how going to church on Sunday will positively contribute to the president accomplishing his goals for America.  Is it a surprise that an intelligent black man is running to God because that’s what everybody else is doing?

President Obama’s chief role model, Abraham Lincoln didn’t go to church on a regular basis.  It’s no secret that Lincoln abhorred attending church–though he did desire a relationship with God.  In fact, when he was running for election, he was often referred to as an atheist for refusing to have a church home and attend regularly.  Is top political adviser told Lincoln that he risked losing the election as a result of his lack of religious zeal.  And yet Lincoln invoked God and his divine plan repeatedly during his life; you can want a relationship with God that doesn’t include organized religion.

Obama is like Lincoln in many respects, including his religious “devotion.”

And yet, my lovely little find of an article made no qualms about their true goal, which was to throw another layer of hate toward those listeners whose mind is already convinced of Mr. Obama’s “evilness.”  Fred Lucas’ article invoked the toxic Rev. Wright, President Obama’s former pastor, spending more than half the article recanting Rev. Wrights stupidity(and of course, they also did NOT discuss the presidents rebuttal of Wright’s tragic lingo).

Lucas also gave the article a nice taste of Carey Cash, the chaplain at Camp David.  But jow EITHER of these two gentlemen fit into President Obama’s decision to go to church on Christmas is completely irrelevant.  Apparently, Lucas thinks that his audience isn’t smart enough to spot a red herring when they see one.

I could care less whether President Obama and his family attends church on Christmas, any more than I care if he fasts during Ramadan; none of this is a determining factor of whether or not he will be a productive, efficient and smart leader.

We know that there are people who go to church on a regular basis, but are not affected by the beauty found in congregating with like-minded people.  There are individuals as well who rarely attend church, yet they have a devotion for Christ that basks in a warm glow.  We see God (the good, kind one, that is) in all their actions and motivations–yet church they disdain.

Going to church doesn’t make you a “good Christian.”  Christianity, like all faiths, is supposed to help you create a relationship with the maker, if that’s your belief.   But really that’s it.  It doesn’t “mean” anything other than our president has a relationship with God that doesn’t require a church to validate.

Isn’t that a good thing?