Homeopathy for Abused Children

I know people use homeopathy for all sorts of thing but its worse than I thought. I was taking a look around the interwebs for foster care information when I came across a story in The Adoption Experience by Ann Morris.People seem to like the book. It has high ratings. I don’t know anything about Ann Morris but what I saw on the page caught my eye.

homeopathy for abused kid

For those who are unaware, sexual abuse can lead children to excessive masturbation. This isn’t just normal kid stuff, it becomes a problem both socially and even physically, as they can hurt themselves, so there is a legitimate reason for it to be mentioned. Whether or not this child was abused and exhibiting behavior stemming from that abuse, I don’t know, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that’s all indeed true. The author of the story (not Ann Morris) wants other adoptive and foster parents to believe that homeopathy is proper treatment for sexual abuse. Foster children need good homes, acceptance, and real treatment to address their past trauma or neglect. Not bottles of literally nothing.

Feminism as a White Woman

I watched a video the other day that was quite eye opening for me. I am not going to link it because the channel does include what I find highly inappropriate material but I did learn something from it. While I am certainly aware that I benefit from white privilege both as a white woman and a Jewish woman (visit Black, Gay, and Jewish for information on discrimination against black Jews), I hadn’t considered exactly some of the ways feminism in particular differs for me. Because of my experiences, I sometimes make these assumptions that white women and black women are perceived similarly, as in, we’re both perceived as women first. But, that is probably often not true.

If you ask me to describe myself, it goes something like woman, Jewish, humanist, environmentalist, student, wife, daughter, sister, etc. For the author of the video, black comes first. For me, white isn’t even on the list. Why? Because I’m privileged enough that it doesn’t have to be on the list. It’s the default. It’s the flesh colored crayon. I don’t identify by my color because nobody has forced me to do so. Being a feminist in this body is different than it would be in another body. I realize I need to be more aware of how feminism differs for women of color, how they may feel about its history, and its current iteration.

Rachel Dolezal Talks About Her Racial Confusion at Four Years Old

There is a lot going around about this woman and I don’t care to share my feelings when others are doing it much more eloquently, but I stumbled upon this video. I think it clearly demonstrates that Rachel is either deeply troubled, confused, or some kind of pathological liar (which I suppose is the same as the first). About 2 minutes into Part 3, she mentions how having black family does not mean you are really able to identify and relate to the struggle experienced by that community. So…she’s either eyeball deep in her delusion or she’s purposely lying to the girl conducting the interview.

Growing up in a family of black children could certainly lead one to identify with and feel comfortable with the black community. Adoptees of color who spent their childhood living with white parents in all white communities have described how they came to see themselves also as white, which leads to identity issues. But they don’t  leave home as adults and insist to others that they are white. That would be strange and quite frankly, they would never get away with it (which is one of the reasons others have pointed out the white privilege at play in Rachel’s case). Dolezal did have white family members, it isn’t as if she was the only white person in her world, and what she’s done has gone beyond simply highly valuing, working with and being comfortable in black communities. She may very well be mentally ill and needs help. But other than that, I see no reason to defend what she’s done.

GMO Mosquito?!

Dr. Mercola is whipping people into a frenzy this week over modified mosquitoes,  which may be (or maybe have already been) released in Florida. These males  mate with the females but the offspring will not be viable. The goal is to reduce the incidence of Dengue fever.  Like with all things labled “GMO”, people get hysterical. I don’t quite understand the fear. Just ask SciBabe, she’ll explain why natural isn’t always best. 

Messing with nature has provided us with the ability to protect ourselves against harmful disease, feed ourselves (all of the foods we eat today are improvements of what we had 10,000 years ago), have clean water, treat infection, prevent sun burn, make childbirth less dangerous, treat our sewage, etc. Manipulating nature should be done carefully of course, but this trial has already been done in other countries and it worked out well for them. We have no defense against viruses, bacteria, and disease if we aren’t willing to manipulate nature. Over 100 million people get the disease a year and at least 20,000 per year, mostly children, die from it. There is no vaccine. With malaria, half a million people die each year. If we could do something like this with mosquitoes that carry malaria (and we likely can), that could eliminate a tremendous amount of suffering.

I also find it interesting that the same people who complain about reducing the incidence of disease through the genetic manipulation of mosquitoes would be adamant that if a vaccine did exist, nobody should get it. What do they want? Do they enjoy the suffering of children? Eating like an orthorexic isn’t going to save you from malaria. 

How Our Religious Freedom is Being Eroded by That Pesky Gay Agenda

The Southern Baptist Convention is concerned that religious freedom, one of the foundations of this country, is presently being eroded. This week they released a list of of victories and setbacks in their struggle against this erosion. Like me, you may be curious as to what kinds of things made the list, so let’s take a look at a few:

Setback – June 26, 2013 – Edith Windsor’s same-sex partner died, leaving Windsor her entire estate. Windsor was denied the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses because the term “spouse” only applied to heterosexual marriages. In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act’s federal definition of marriage as a man and a woman was unconstitutional, opening the floodgates for a series of lawsuits overturning bans on same-sex marriage at the state level.

Apparently, Edith Windsor’s ability to receive the estate she was bequeathed by her partner is an assault on religious freedom. Who knew? I’m a member of a Reform Jewish congregation in my city. I feel absolutely no impact on my rights in light of this case. My cousin Amy is openly Christian, attends church regularly and is raising her kids in a Christian environment. Her right to do so has not been impacted in the slightest by this case. A friend of mine, Abigail, recently started a new church with her husband, who is a Pastor. Both are very passionate about their Christian faith. They eat, sleep and breath Jesus and let everyone know. They may have never even heard of Edith Windsor. And that’s okay because she has bearing on their freedom to openly and enthusiastically practice their religion. I’m having a difficult time determining exactly how Ms. Windsor is eroding religious liberty in this county.

Setback – June 26, 2013 – California Proposition 8 was a successful ballot initiative in 2008 for a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriages. Approved by voters and upheld by state court, it was ruled unconstitutional by federal courts. When the state refused to appeal, proponents of the proposition sought appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the proponents did not have standing to appeal. Although the Supreme Court did not address the amendment’s constitutionality, the dismissal legalized same-sex marriage in California by allowing a previous district court ruling to stand.

Here they are upset that the Supreme Court dismissed their appeal to make same-sex marriage illegal. Clearly, they are not fans of same-sex marriage. Fine. Don’t have one.

Setback – May 7, 2014 – Jason and David Benham, two brothers who work in real estate, were slated to star in a new show on HGTV called “Flip It Forward” in which the brothers would help transform a fixer-upper home for a family. After the media publicized the brothers’ stance against homosexuality and the homosexual agenda, HGTV canceled the show before it aired.

HGTV is a business operation. They can air or not air any shows they choose (within the parameters allowed on cable television). That is their right. If they feel the Benham brothers are poor representatives of their network, it makes sense that rather than put money into a show that might not bring in a return, they cancel instead.

Setback – November 2014 – In part due to the Duggar family’s efforts to oppose a Fayetteville, Ark., anti-discrimination ordinance, more than 1,000 people signed a petition for cable network TLC to cancel their show “19 Kids and Counting.” A counter-petition garnered even more signatures as of the end of 2014. TLC has not responded to the petitions.

Again, religious freedom does not grantee you the rights to a television show. There were a number of people who found Mrs. Duggar’s behavior offensive, they voiced that opinion, just like millions of Christians do each day. This isn’t an erosion of religious freedom.

Setback – Jan. 6, 2015 – Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dismissed Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran following an investigation into Cochran’s book “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, which calls homosexual behavior immoral. Though a city investigation found no evidence that Cochran had discriminated against homosexuals, Reed cited policy violations and possible lawsuits against the city as reasons for his termination.

Chief Cochran was not terminated for simply holding the belief that homosexuality was immoral or for even writing a book. He was terminated because he broke the rule against publishing a book without approval and for distributing it at work. You can bet with certainty that if a humanist Fire Chief passed around his book on why Christianity is a death cult, they would want his head on a silver platter.

Did God Offer to Save Children From the Flood?

One of the issues that has been raised with fundamentalist religion is the glaring cruelty and violence found within sacred texts. This week, Answers in Genesis published an article wherein they attempt to answer the question of why God would kill innocent children in a worldwide flood. You do have to ask yourself, even if all the adults were vile and loathsome, what about the children? How could a just and loving God kill them too?  AiG responds with their own question:

“Why did the parents of those children refuse to let them board? Why did they insist on putting their children in harm’s way? If anyone is to blame, it is the parents and guardians who stopped them from coming to the Ark…Why blame God for something when He provided a means of salvation, which the parents refused?”

Excellent question – except there is nothing in the story that leads us to believe this was a possibility. One must only read it. There is absolutely nothing about God, Noah or anyone else offering a spot on the ark to a child. It is not, in any way, suggested in the text. Obviously, the writers at AiG recognize this story is problematic when asserting a loving, caring God, otherwise they wouldn’t conjure up additional story lines that can’t be found in the text. Would it not make more sense to concede that Genesis is a mythical story  written by an ancient people as a part of a cultural narrative  rather than persisting in the delusion that the Bible is a historical text book? If you find the behavior of your deity troubling, examine why you think the story is factual in the first place, rather than claiming excuses that aren’t even there.

Alternatives to Prayer

Adrian Van LeenLife can be difficult. I have no doubt that this is one of the reasons people are so eager to pray. It’s hard to feel like everything is out of your control. To sit back and feel powerless, especially when those close to your are suffering. Prayer allows us as humans to feel useful. But does prayer accomplish anything? It may make us feel better about our inaction but that’s about it. Studies also show it to be ineffectual. There is an alternative. Doing something. Here are a few ideas. What would you add?

For someone who is sick

  • Bring their favorite flowers when you visit
  • Clean their home or run errands.
  • Make a meal and deliver it to their home
  • Drive them to Dr. appointments.
  • Raise funds for medical expenses.

For someone who is heartbroken/depressed

  •  Invite them out for coffee
  •  Let them talk about it
  •  Listen without judgement
  •  Plan an event they enjoy
  •  Accompany them to a difficult event

For someone needing a job

  •  Hand out their resume
  •  Provide job training
  •  Mention their name within your network
  •  Inform them about job postings

For someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one

  •  Send them a sympathy card and continue to send notes long after others will have moved on and forgotten
  •  Pay them a visit just to chat
  •  Let them talk about the person they have lost if they want to do so.
  •  Make a donation to a charity in their loved one’s name.

Plastic Alternatives

shells

Plastic waste is a huge issue for wildlife, marine life and humans. It can’t be avoided entirely but there are things we can do to reduce our consumption of plastic. Here I’ve outlined a few of my recommendations. I am not affiliated with any of the mentioned products. In some cases I have used them, in other cases I have not but I am giving you examples of the options available. Once you take stock of how much plastic you use it can get to be overwhelming to realize just how much of your every day products are either made from or packaged in plastic. Don’t let that stop you. Even if you make small choices here and there, it will make a difference.

  • Carry your own reusable bottle rather than buying bottled water. You reduce the amount of plastic you use as well as save money.
  • Carry reusable shopping bags (which are best purchased second hand) or reuse your old plastic bags. You can also buy or make cloth produce bags (or do without). Do try let the cashier know ahead of time that you will not need a bag. I’ve refused a bag and had them just throw it away because they had already pulled it off the hook. That defeats the purpose of not taking the bag. – Reusable Produce Bags
  • When buying a drink out of the house, say “no thanks” to plastic straws. At home, try glass or metal reusable straws. – Metal Straw Set
  • Buy a set or two of reusable utensils to carry in your car so you don’t need plastic.
  • When dinning out, take your own “doggie” bag in the form of a reusable dish. If you’re not sure you’ll need it, take something just in case.
  • Use bar soap rather than liquid. The bar gets rinsed on every use. The liquid bottles…not so much.
  • Bring your own toiletry supplies when traveling. Yes, those little bottles in the hotel are free but they are also made of plastic.
  • Buy whole foods. This can be very difficult. It may well be the most difficult challenge for myself. Convenience foods, as they are called, are all wrapped in plastic. Even when you buy organic, they are wrapped in plastic. The more you buy whole foods without packaging (think fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables), the less plastic pouring into our environment.
  • Look for products that come in reusable, glass or paper packaging that can be recycled (most often, the plastic packaging for foods and other products is not recyclable).
  • Buy from bulk bins whenever possible rather than buying food wrapped in plastic. You can use muslin bags which are washable and reusable. – Muslin Bags
  • Clean with baking soda & vinegar. There are many “eco friendly” and “green” cleaning products on the market. Some are probably great…but they still come in plastic. They are also rather expensive. Vinegar can be bought in glass and baking soda comes in cardboard. They are cheap, safe and easy to use. Just remember to never to use bleach and vinegar in the same area.
  • Castile soap is another good option for cleaning if you want more than the vinegar and baking soda . Dr. Bronners for example does come in plastic but it’s heavily concentrated and lasts a long time. The bottle is recyclable but the lid is not.
  • Cut out juice, soda and other drinks that come in plastic bottles. Even though bottles are recyclable, you cannot guarantee they will always make it to the facility. Also, this type of plastic is usually reused only one time, whereas glass can be recycled over and over again. Additionally, the plastic lids are not recyclable.
  • If you can buy fresh bread and cheese without plastic, do so. This may not be easy for everyone. I recommend saving your plastic bread bags to reuse. One idea is to use them in place of the little plastic baggies provided at parks for dog “business”. If you do not have a dog or a need to clean up after them, perhaps someone else you know could reuse those bread bags. I’ve also used our plastic bread bags to hold our shoes while traveling so they don’t get our clothes dirty.
  • Buy shampoo bars rather than shampoo in plastic bottles. You may even be able to find a local source. I’ve been using bar shampoo for months now and I really like it. It works well on beards too, so I hear. I recommend Esty.com which allows you to search locally. – Shampoo Bar
  • Return those cherry tomato/berry containers to a farmers market and ask if they would like to reuse. Though these are generally #2 plastic, again, with their light weight they may not make it to the facility. Also, in some places (such as where I live) they are not actually recyclable in the first place.
  • Choose milk in a returnable glass bottle, local if possible. I cannot recommend you buy milk from a questionable source or from all the way across the country just to get a glass bottle. However, if you have glass bottled milk available in your area, you may want consider it.
  • Choose wine with natural cork stoppers rather than plastic. Not only does this prevent more plastic from getting into the environment but it also supports cork forest where a number of endangered animals make their home. Without the cork industry, these forest are torn down to make way for other uses of the land.
  • If you’re handy in the kitchen or like to learn new things, you can make your own yogurt. Almost all yogurt comes in a #5 plastic that is very unlikely to be turned into anything else. There are brands packaged in glass but for the most part, plastic is your option. However, making yogurt doesn’t require much in the way of special equipment except for a cooking thermometer which can be purchased at any retail store inexpensively.
  • It may seem unrelated but paper products such as bathroom tissue and paper towels are wrapped in plastic. Try using clothes that can be washed rather than these disposables when appropriate, especially in the kitchen. You can purchase clothes specifically for this purpose or make your own out of old t-shirts and pajamas.

The Lies You Tell

Sarah Klockars-Liar

Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship. By Lying we deny others our view of the world. And our dishonesty not only influences the choice they make, it often determines the choice they CAN make – in ways we cannot always predict. Every lie is an assault on the autonomy of those we lie to. ” – Lying by Sam Harris. Pg 39-40.

I agree with Harris here. I firmly believe that lying is a form of control and manipulation. The liar does not want the person to whom he or she is lying to be able to form their own opinions, beliefs or to act based on reality. They are trying to control the person and the situation by giving false information. This can work on multiple levels. Lying to a potential employer so they will see you as you wish them to see you rather than who you are as a person. Lying to your spouse about where you have been in order to prevent them from being able to take actions that you may not like. Lying to your child so they form the beliefs you’d prefer they hold rather than letting them decide for themselves. Lying to a patient to spare them pain but also preventing them from living life as they would if they knew the truth.

Some lies may be more insidious than others but they are often about controlling the situation. Lying is about getting what you want, appearing as something other than what you are or robbing others of their right to make informed choices. It’s a way to manipulate their thoughts and actions either because you are trying to get your way or because you think that you should be able to decide what is best for someone else.

The consequence of this control is lack of trust, the eroding of relationships and difficulty in making decisions. Lies not only tear apart our intimate relationships (or prevent us from having them in the first place) but also place us in a position where we are unable to determine the correct course of action within our communities and governing societies because we are never quite sure if we are getting the truth. Lies are a barrier to good relationships and meaningful interactions.

White Nose Syndrome: What You Can Do

White-nose syndrome, caused by a fungusis currently found in at least 25 states and 5 Canadian provinces (batcon.org). The danger in the fungus is that it disrupts hydration and the hibernation of bats, causing them to leave their hibernation spots in the middle of winter. So far, WNS has killed 5.7 million bats just since 2006. Bat populations among the northeastern United States have declined by a staggering 80% (USGS).

There are a lot of people who fear bats or at least don’t particular care for them. There is a misconception that they frequently attack humans and spread rabies. While it is true they can carry rabies, only about .05% of tested wild bats actually test positive for the virus (batconservation.org). Bat attacks on humans are also rare. You should never handle wild bats but that goes for all wild animals. Fear of bats is unnecessary. They provide an important role in our environment by eating bugs (including mosquitoes!). Economic analysis has indicated that bats provide an ecosystem service to agriculture valued at 4-50 billion dollars per year (USGS). This allows farmers to spend less money on pesticides which allows for lower prices for the consumer. Without bats, our food system would greatly suffer.

So what does this have to do with you? Well, one of the spreaders of WNS is humans. Thankfully, there are things we can do to help:

1. First, if you see that a particular caved is closed – DO NOT ENTER. WNS is either present in the cave or park officials are trying to prevent it from being spread to that location. It is important that you comply. All it takes is one person disregarding a sign and WNS can spread even further.

2. Avoid hibernation spots. If you’re unsure, seek out information for your local area on where bats typically hibernate.

3. Report unusual bat behavior to your Department of Natural Resources or local park organizations. Abnormal behavior can including flying outside in winter months, flying during the middle of the day or difficulty flying/getting off the ground.

4. Before entering a cave, make sure you haven’t worn your shoes or clothing in another cave. It is also best that you do not take any items (bags, camera, phone, etc) into one cave that you had in another cave. WNS doesn’t affect humans and we don’t see it on our belongings, so don’t assume that just because you don’t know about it, that isn’t there. It’s best to be cautious. I also advise you only enter caves on designated park land with a guide who knows whether or not it’s safe to enter the cave and who can direct you on what precautions need to be taken first.

For more information, see the National Park Service website.

Vampire Mohels

Rather than outlawing the practice of metzitzah b’peh, which involves using the mouth to suck the blood from a baby boy’s penis after his circumcision, New York is going to do absolutely nothing to protect children from this ridiculous and unsafe practice. They aren’t even going to require a Rabbi to get consent from the parents. Any Rabbi found to be positive for herpes will no longer be permitted to perform the ritual but in order to push testing, there has to be an infected child first, warranting a test. The Ultra-Orthodox insist this is a freedom of religion issue. Is it? Where do we draw the line at freedom of religion for the parent and right to protection for the child? And how on earth would it be an affront to freedom of religion for these Rabbis to actually get consent from a parent before engaging in this behavior?

Edit to add: It occurs to me that some may find this video offensive in light of the blood libel of the past. But this is not that and I would never insinuate that Ultra Orthodox Jews are trying to harm children but they are being neglectful by continuing this practice despite proof that it is dangerous.

Reading Through the Bible – Genesis

torahThis year I’ve made a goal to read through the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible (known as the New Testament). There are a number of interesting Jewish interpretations  of Torah but I’m not going to get into much of those at this time. I’m simply going to read straight through to get a reminder of the basic story lines and principles found within.

Starting at the beginning, it seems that the earth already exists. Of course, we realize the Bible is not a scientific book (obviously) but even from a theological perspective, this should mean something to those who hold to literal interpretations of the text. Another interesting note in the commentary is that the word בָּרָא, translated as the verb “create” never means to create out of nothing. At least at the start, the Bible does not assert that god created the world from nothing which is a complete contradiction to what creationists claim.

Skip ahead to Adam and Eve. The story from a Christian perspectives takes on literal meaning but in other traditions, there is room for interpretation. Adam and Eve eat the fruit of knowledge, thereby learning wrong from right. One could say this marks their entry into adulthood. Just like Adam and Eve, we too one day reach adulthood where we begin to know what is right and what is wrong. We’re then held responsible by our families, friends, communities and governments to act accordingly. As Adam and Eve had to leave the safety and security of the garden, we leave our homes and start our lives as adults in the wider world.

It is unfortunate that so many interpretations of the Biblical text are left to literal understanding, as when you look at the stories form different perspectives, they make a hell of a lot more sense…and they are slightly less disturbing.

At this point, looking superficially, we see Genesis degrade into lying, murder, worldwide genocide, more lying, child sacrifice, citywide genocide, offering up one’s own children for rape, incest, deception, seething jealousy, family conflict and general bad behavior. The most appealing theme in all of Genesis, I think, is that of brotherly reconciliation. After having stolen his birthright and blessing, Jacob meets up with his brother Esau (both the sons of Issac; Grandchildren of Abraham) twenty years later with fear that he and his family may be killed. Rather, his brother greets him with a hug.

Later, Jacob’s son Joseph is sold by his brothers who despise him. Jacob is understandably distraught but has been lead to believe the young boy is dead. Many years later, the men meet their brother in Egypt and after a few tricks to determine their character, Joseph tells them he is their long lost brother. Jacob is reunited with his son.

I noticed the tales of Abraham are more detailed than the first few. Once the book opens up to Jacob and his children, there is also more emotional drama. The reader is told of Jacob’s despair when his child is missing and repeatedly the text mentions Joseph crying in regards to seeing his brothers again.

That isn’t to say these stories aren’t still gruesome. This the same family wherein a daughter is raped, the boys murder the perpetrator (and his associates) and take all of the women and children in his clan for their own. The same family where envy for one brother leads them to consider killing him and then decide eh, they will just sell him instead. They also tend to lie. In short, they’ve got problems.