Monday, October 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

One of the many privileges of being a nanny is that my job often includes things like taking the children to movies I wanted to see anyways! I've seen Harry Potter, Toy Story 3D , Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and most recently Where the Wild Things Are. What I really liked about this movie (and the book it was based on) was that it dealt with anger...anger is such a taboo emotion in our society. In the film Max is faced with HUGE feelings of anger...he doesn't really seem like he knows how to deal with them, which isn't at all unusual either for a child his age or in this society where we tend to pretend anger doesn't exist. Max ends up running from his mom in rage and finds refuge in a clan of imaginary, great monsters who recognize him as King of the Wild Things. Max unleashes his angry energy by creating, destroying and wrestling...at one point in the film he sees that there may be some negative consequences of his rages when he sees how he has hurt some of the other Wild Things (as he hurt his mother.) Max eventually seems to ride out the tide of the angry emotion and decides to "return home" where his mom embraces him in a hug and seemingly all is forgiven. The Bible tells us "Be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger." (Ephesians 4:26) So there is no question then, that we may be angry. Further, we are created in the image of God, who is described many times as being angry with various situations in the Bible. Additionally, we see Jesus (rightly) angry at the people exchanging money in the Holy Temple. Anger is surely a core human emotion. Our charge then, is to learn to to be angry without sinning. Max may have messed up (sinned) in that he disrespected him mother, but he was right not to let the sun go down on his anger. Its essential that we all develop healthy and holy responses to our anger and teach them to our children or the children in our care. An important part of that process is to identify anger, not attempt top bury it but rather release it, and before the sun goes down!. Try things like tearing paper, making angry music on the piano, finger painting, screaming into a pillow, going for a run or punching a punching bag. If you notice you are often angry, and triggered by minor things, then it may be time to explore that further. Although anger is a core emotion...God is "slow to anger" and I think we should be too. Love in Christ, Zealia

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Have to Solution to World Hunger...No, really! As I was snuggled up with my coffee, reading the copy of the New York Times that somebody left behind in the coffee shop I came across this article... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/world/22food.html?_r=1&ref=world There seems to be growing concern about weather or not the worlds population is CAPABLE of producing enough food to feed the hungry in the world especially as the number of starving and hungry people has risen steadily as the global recession has impacted counties across the board. I, for one, am totally convinced that its possible- we just have to get the man/woman power behind it! I know that every one cares about world hunger. But I feel like I am maybe one of the few who is willing to give my life to see the stomachs of children filled and the health care needs of their families met. My plan since before Kindergarten has been to become a nurse so I could work in third world countries for the poorest of the poor. As I've gotten older and learned more that plan has grown rather than dissipated. As Ive developed more passions I now see my potential roll changing...I want to be a nurse, and set up clinics to meet peoples needs, but I also want to train lay people to provide medical care to others in their communities, I want to have public health education as a major component to my ministry...and I don't really see the point in having health care if the people are starving to death, so I also want to add a component of teaching sustainable agriculture. So, why haven't I done this yet? Well, I graduated from high school in 2004...so most the people I graduated with now have their bachelor's degrees in their field of choice. I do not have my degree because of a combination of health problems and not being able to make tuition. You see, I am one of four children from a family that was below the national poverty line during my growing up years. Neither have my parents have college degrees and my mother became permanently disabled when I was 12...So there was no family financial support to go to college. I also have fallen through the fafsa cracks and have not been eligible for grants any but my first two semesters. Now, before you get annoyed with my whinny schpeel, let me say that I don't feel sorry for myself. I have paid out of my own pocket for all 60+ credits that I have earned in college, Ive always had at least one full time job since graduating high school and have not lived with my parents. I'm truly putting myself through school in every sense of the phrase. I will admit that it gives me a lot of prospective about life. I appreciate more what I can do for myself and what it means to have access to an education. I know there are many less fortunate than myself.... My main feeling, though, is I should be "out there" by now, doing something for all these people I feel so passionately about. When I hear about the global food shortage and people dying of diseases that could be easily treated, my heart aches, if only someone could have been there for them...I hear everyone talking about this issue and it's all diplomats, running in circles, chasing their tales....how are we gonna solve this problem, how are we gonna solve this problem, how are we gonna solve this problem....I feel like they are over looking one of the most valuable resources in combating hunger.....the able bodied individuals who WANT to have an education but cannot afford one. The ones who are willing to work hard for their education (Ive met a lot of those in the community colleges!) People who would be happy to have an opportunity to "help out" before they settle into their career fields of choice. People who know about tragedies like world hunger, under staffing in orphanages, aids in Africa but don't do anything because they cant stop working to help a cause like that, because they have been made to feel powerless because of the seemingly never ending stream of need in the world. Why cant the government set up a program in which people can serve for four years in an impoverished area and receive and equal number of years of a college education. Maybe even count the work towards their degree? There needs to be incentive for people to go and do that with their time...I think that a solution like this would have to be workable, after all, the government is able to offer money to individuals who serve in the military, why couldn't there be a humanitarian form of that?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Persepolis: The story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

***Spoiler Alert!!!**** Although I was initially put off by the format of Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel Persepolis I found I was quickly drawn into the story by her charming and lively depiction of herself as a 10-year-old girl coming of age during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Marjane, her family and friends shatter all stereo-types I held of what it means to be a devout Muslim and gave me a view of the "revolution" contrary to what I have seen in the news and other media. Three central themes stood out to me as I read and I found myself unable to put the book down as I craved to understand this individual Muslimah. First, was her understanding of a compassionate, and personal god. Young Marjane considered herself to be a very religious person (pg 6) and seemed to draw strength from her understanding of god as she knew him. In several frames she depicts herself embraced in Gods arms and refers to him on a few occasions as her "friend." This depiction is contrary to the relationship with God I had come to believe the average Muslim had. Perhaps it was this personal understanding of God which allowed Marjane and her family to practice their faith without the need for militaristic approaches to obeying the orders of the Qur'an? The second surprising concept I saw it the book was Marjane's families desire to see her as a whole and unique individual. They praised her for having independent thought and seem to take on what I considered to be a fairly westernized concept of allowing her to experiment with life in general. In particular, her family did not discourage her from believing she was going to be a prophet- not even when they were asked to come into her school to talk with the teacher about it. When Marjane was older her parents allowed her to listen to music like Michael Jackson and Iron Maiden, let her wear Nike sneakers and music buttons and jean jackets. Before I read this book I based my ideas on what a family expects of their young Muslimah off of my Muslim friends and off of what I have seen demonstrated in other media. Even my very "liberal" Muslim friends who are allowed to attend medical school despite being women are required to defer to their fathers for all decisions they make...despite having the brains to pursue a career as a doctor, the family's GREATEST hope was still that they would find a "nice Muslim man" and settle down, and if they did not find one themselves, their father would find one for them. In the Muslim families I have known there was no emphasis on young women developing into unique individuals as Marjanes parents and Grandmother seemed to hope for her. I found this quite refreshing The third concept that struck me is perhaps an extension of the second concept, and that was the families involvement in the counter-culture. Marjanes parents frequently demonstrated against the order of the "Revolution," including the wearing of veils or Hijabs by women. They continued to throw parties, play card games and drink alcohol after they were outlawed. This rebellion went back at LEAST to Marjanes grandfather's generation. Her grandmother told her stories of times when her grandfather was imprisoned for his opposition. Marjanes uncle Anoosh was directly involved in counter-military activity and faced arrest, torture and ultimately execution for his convictions. Its no surprise then that Marjane idolized socialist like Cha Guavera, Fidel Castro, and others. Through out the book it is unclear what Marjanes parents religious beliefs are, as they did not seem overtly religious or atheistic- the best I can determine is they wanted a clearer distinction between what we call in this country, "church and state." As for Marjane herself, we see after her uncle is executed she tells god to get out of her life, that she never wanted to see him again and she changed her career ambitions from being a prophet of god to becoming a chemist like Marie Curie. The end of the book I found rather anti-climactic to the point of wondering if there wast a chapter or two missing. I felt let down that the author gave no resolution to the series of events that forced her from her home country. The reader is left to wonder if she ever went back to Iran, to wonder why she never again lived with her parents, to wonder if she ever became further involved in the counter military or counter oppression in her country, if her parents ceased their involvement in protests after she left and more. There was no answer to these questions in this book. Overall, I was very pleased with the book. The characters were engaging and the format was unusually pleasant. I would very much like to see the motion picture version of this book-although I must confess that much of that allure comes form hoping the end of the film will give more in site to Marjanes later life than the book did. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to a friend, particularly to one who enjoys dispelling popular stereotype!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Craigslist: The Newest Target in the War on Prostitution - Democratic Underground

Is Prostitution a "Victimless Crime?" Craigslist: The Newest Target in the War on Prostitution - Democratic Underground Shared via AddThis How effective do you think a "war on prostitution" is likely to be? It seems that prostitution is as old as time itself. In this post I'm talking strictly about "consenting" adults who work in the sex trade industry. Often referred to as a "victimless crime" I have to wonder if the men and women who are forced into "survival sex" are truly not victims. After all, research has distinctly displayed a pattern of childhood sexual assault in association with working in the sex trade industry as a matter of fact, the average age for a prostitute to begin her career is between 12-14 years old. Prostitutes are at risk for assault, rape, murder, poverty, substance abuse/addiction and sexually transmitted infections. There is also the factor that these individuals feel that selling their bodies is their only means to provide for themselves, and perhaps their children. The link between poverty and prostitution is so strong that prostitution is almost nonexistent in other socioeconomic levels. Often the choice seems to come down to making the rent or offering up their body for money. Frequently, prostitutes are undereducated and lack the skills to acquire gainful employment to support themselves and their families. They have often already exhausted the resources in their community, don't qualify for them, are unaware of them or they simply are not available in the area in which they live. Prostitutes with children may be afraid to seek out help because of the very real risk of losing their children. Sometimes they have addictions to drugs or alcohol and sell their bodies in order to feed the addiction. In short, a number of factors play into the choice to prostitute themselves and it rarely has anything to do with the sex worker *wanting* to trade their body for money. Survivors of the sex trade industry often look back on their history with a mixture of shame, guilt, and anguish. At the same time, many feel they were simply doing what they HAD to do at the time. Aside from the prostitute, there are other victims when humans are exploited sexually. Some of them include spouses and partners of the person soliciting sex when they become infected with an STD/STI or when they discover their partner has been unfaithful, they may feel ashamed or insecure. Children and dependants of both the prostitute and the solicitor become victims when a break down of the relationship between their parents occurs. Or when a prostitute's children are removed from her care and placed in foster care because they were in danger in the home where their mother worked and/or because she could not care for their needs on her salary or whilst in jail for her crime. Indeed, even the solicitor becomes a victim. There is often guilt and shame associated with soliciting sex, they may become infected with a disease that may prevent them from having normal sexual relationships in the future. Solicitors may suffer from sexual addiction, or an inability to have a normal healthy sexual relationship. Basically, prostitution is no "victimless crime." So what should be done about it? Is it good that police surf craigslist to uncover prostitution rings in order to bust the prostitutes and the solicitors? I guess my response is "yes and no." Yes, when they are finding prostitutes of all ages who are being victimized and exploited against their will or as minors. No in cases where individuals of legal age are consensually offering sex in exchange for money. But wait a second...didn't I just say that pretty much EVERYONE suffers where prostitution exists? Yes, I sure did, but my thought is that this is not a problem for law enforcers. This should be a problem for social workers, who help men and women find the resources to get out of or avoid prostitution. It should be an issues for policy makers to implement more programs for people living in poverty, for those with substance abuse issues, for victims of sexual assault, better housing for people who cannot afford housing and quality education that can lead to money-making trades. It should be an issue for therapists who help individuals overcome a sexual addiction that leads them to seek out prostitutes or to find other means of healthy sexual release and interpersonal affection through learning skills to build relationships. It should be a problem for couples counselors and family counselors that works to restore the broken relationships that occur in situations of past use of solicited sex or that have been split up after a parent begins prostitution. And, without question this should be a concern for the church. There are churches in every community across America. The church is in a unique position to offer hope and help to ALL victims affected by prostitution. The church is commanded to LOVE their neighbors- even the ones using or working as prostitutes. Its up to the church to ministering to these individuals with a loving and non-judgemental heart, not just passively (IE letting them sit in your pew on Sunday morning if they happen to wonder in off the street) but PROACTIVELY seeking out people and offering them the hope that ONLY Jesus can give, by praying for them and their families, by pointing them in the direction of services in the community, and by opening their eyes to the sin that is intrinsic of prostitution. We are called NOT to do this because we are holier than them, but because we are as retched of sinners as they are; because before we knew Jesus we were every bit as hopeless, because we were condemned before we were made aware of our own ugly sins. In communities where prostitution is a significant problem, specific outreaches should be established to help those suffering under the tyranny of the sex trade industry. Believers should search their hearts about volunteering with or financially supporting ministries like "Hookers for Jesus" (hookersforjesus.org) a ministry of former prostitutes and strippers for those who have been involved in the sex trade industry or the Dream Center's "Project Rescue" (dreamcenter.org) that offers housing and assistance to women escaping prostitution. After all, Jesus did not want the woman found guilty of adultery to be stoned to death under the law, rather he wanted to offer her love and forgiveness- with the commandment to "sin no more." Remember that Jesus himself was a friend to prostitutes- that he died for their sins as much as he did your own and that he commands us to love and reach out to the lost. In Christ, Zealia

Friday, October 2, 2009

Uncompromising, but lonely

Psalm 42

11Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 43

1Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. 4Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. 5Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. Hmmm...I think these verses flow well THIS way. Remember the Bible was not written with chapter and verse, those were added later t make it easier to find things, anyways.... I feel like this tonight. I feel the ungodliness of my nation causes me much grief. An interaction with a friend caused me to feel really depressed and the verse 42:11 popped into my head...I looked it up and read on...the rest of the following verse was actually exactly what made me sad about my interaction with my friend. I feel like I just see so many Christians around me making compromises. Compromises I cannot understand. I feel like the Christians I know should be with me, standing by my side on these issues and encouraging one another to live boldly according to the Word. Instead, I find many of my Christian friends don't share my convictions about contemporary social issues and about major life decisions, they actually attack me for my beliefs accusing me of being self-centered and self-righteous. But I just don't feel like I can compromise on some things, I feel convicted...I don't say this judgmentally of these people and their choices, its not to me to judge the heart, but I don't understand how they can attack me, judge me. Oh, this is the worlds lamest first entry...I can't be specific about the situation and there's no way for you to know if me or my friend are in the right or wrong without specifics, but that's not the important part. I guess I'm just hurt when I see people make decisions and then accuse me of being the one with the problem when I don't join them in something I feel convicted about. It makes me feel so very lonesome, which is not how I want to feel when the task of witnessing to the world seems so very big and I feel very small. I guess just this verse captured what I was feeling tonight and it helped to know I'm not the the only God-fearer who has ever felt like I was standing on the truth all alone...Ill just cry out to God like the Psalmist did. Take cheer, friends! -Zealia