Church Moms

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Your essay will be published using your full name. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans

She caught up with me as I walked away from the church.

That Sunday morning, I had been leading worship at our 1,500-member contemporary evangelical church service. I was the only woman priest on the four-person clergy staff. My husband, also a priest, served in another parish. Our daughter was in first grade at a public school near our home, and our son was in the Pre-K class at the church day school. As a trailblazer -- the parish's first woman priest -- I was careful about sharing my opinions, hard because by nature I'm strongly opinionated. Only with congregational women who worked outside the home could I open up about the benefits of good day care -- how it helped my children become less shy, more willing to share, more friendly.

Clergy did not wear vestments at the contemporary service. Being a creature of willful paradox, I tried to dress stylishly, but modestly. With no scrim of ceremonial garments, I could roam the aisle during my sermon/talk, sharing anecdotes about my own familial idiosyncrasies. I doled out the small change of daily life in a confessional, sometimes humorous, consciously colloquial mode so that people would know I was, in most respects, like them. Just another fool, I tried to signal, saved by divine intervention from being a damned fool.

I exerted a lot of energy trying to be gracious to those who opposed my position as a woman in a traditionally male calling. I was an ordained woman, I was a mother -- it came naturally to me to accept and care for others. I took pride in visiting a garrulous parishioner in the hospital, unselfconsciously got on my knees to teach a Gospel lesson to four and five year olds, and tried to radiate warmth and joy at the altar while celebrating the Eucharist.

I was most conscious of the cultural divide with the church's healthy population of mothers who home-schooled their children. I accepted their choices because I support the right of every family to make those kinds of decisions for their kids. But I observed the home-schoolers with a mixture of curiosity and a bit of wistfulness. They showed me the road not taken, the road even unimagined.

Being a holy woman and a mother was a volatile mixture that triggered a range of unpredictable reactions. Subconsciously, I was always waiting for the next time when someone else's doubts or fury would blow up in my face.

That particular Sunday, a longtime parishioner cornered me in the parish house lobby. She flayed me for being a feminist dupe who had entrusted the care of my children to strangers rather than assume my proper role as keeper of the home hearth fires. Shaken and close to tears, all I could think as she ranted was, My goodness, I had no idea you hated me that much.

Get close to us women clergy, and you will find that there's a lot going on behind our scrubbed and collared Sunday faces. The mommy wars burn even in churches.

Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans left parish ministry in 2002. She is currently a freelance writer, columnist, and supply priest living in Glenmoore, Penn., with her family. One of her projects is editing a collection of cautionary, inspiring, humorous, and candid "stories from the sanctuary" about the lives of female clergy. Are you an ordained woman-on call 24/7, trying to find time for your spouse, kids and maybe even a monthly manicure? Are you expected to give awesome pastoral care, preach sermons that convert hundreds, have kids who are role models for the entire youth group and a "perfect" marriage? She would love to hear your story at Bellettreliz@hotmail.com.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 23, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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The best minister we, as a family, knew was a presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh. Our current ministers are 50/50 male/female. I can't imagine what you went through.

Then again, I can't imagine anyone verbally attacking someone at church like you experienced. I feel awful for you. This parisioner needs some love badly.

I guess I need my imaginer fixed.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 7:06 AM

ooops...the best minister was a femal presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 7:07 AM

Ah yes, the "christian love" that churchgoing are always showing to each other. The main reason I no longer attend church. I spend my Sundays volunteering either at a food pantry or servicing food at a shelter.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 7:13 AM

"I can't imagine anyone verbally attacking someone at church like you experienced."

dotted, have you ever been to church? The hens there are as nasty as a den of lions. They are more difficult than the school moms because they are sneakier than the school moms. The competition amongst women in the church to be the "most benevolent" is as thick as anything you have ever seen. Catwhowalked, I share your sentiment. As an aside, the one female minister we did have was fabulous!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 7:31 AM

moxie - ordained elder in one church and a regular church goer at another now (different locale). I just must pick churches differently. One church was a big member in the more-light organization (gay rights). My current church is also big on inclusion. I don't see competition at all. Too much variety to compete. That isn't to say everything is perfect - because it is not - but e.g., the church provides pt and ft day care on site, one of the co-ministers is a female with a family, the other is a male with a family. Both spouses do paid work outside of the home and outside of the church. We aren't contemporary evangelical either. The key is to find a church home that suits you rather than casting them all aside because of one bad apple.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 7:44 AM

dotted - trust me it was not ONE bad apple and I resent you making that implication. It was the entire culture of several churches I attended. Granted, they did tend to be the extreme right wing type, but at this point I need to work through what I experienced there before I trust going to another church. When I do, it will be definitely a more liberal leaning congregation.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 7:47 AM

Are you surprised? The Evangelical movement focuses an extraordinary amount of attention on women and reversing feminism. Falwell, after all, did blame 9-11 on (among other groups) the feminists. The movement has a major focus on regressing decades of women's rights and turning women into dependents of their husbands. Good for you for trying to change some of this, but until the movement respects women as equals, it seems like you have a long road ahead.

Posted by: raheli | October 23, 2007 8:15 AM

Elizabeth, I think it's horrifying that someone spoke to you like that. How dare she? In your position, I can see how it would be difficult to open up a can of whoop a$$ but I really wish someone else had been standing by to let it rip.

I'm with Catwhowalked about avoiding extremely religious folks of any persuasion. I'm a Yankee and Catholic by birth, which basically means I was raised not talking about religion. It's been a difficult transition living here in Raleigh, NC, because church is so important to a certain percentage of the population, and they feel compelled to discuss your faith (or lack thereof) with you, to invite you to church, to ask which church you attend (as if it's a given that you must go to SOME church). It makes me very uncomfortable, because quite frankly, my relationship with God (in whom I do believe) is no one's business but mine, nor is the way I choose or don't choose to worship with or without others. A friend of mine who's religious (but in a way I can tolerate) has told me that people talk about their faiths and try to lead me to their church because witnessing is part of the game, so to speak. I want no part of any church that requires me to try to make others think and believe what I think. Yay, Unitarians!

Rant over.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | October 23, 2007 8:16 AM

hey catwhowalked - are we full of resentment this morning? It is a phrase. "one bad apple" is part of a longer phrase "one bad apple spoils the barrel." You were applying that phrase to church choices. You have more issues on your plate than church choices if you are so sensitive you feel resentment over a phrase.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 8:26 AM

I agree that it is definitely part of evangelical church culture to judge as often and in as cruel a manner as possible. The rampant hypocrisy is one of the (several) reasons I left Christianity. Ironically, one of the other reasons was that I was told from a young age that one could EITHER be a good mother OR have a career and I was like... well I definitely want a career, so I guess I can't be a mom. I'm still working through getting over that hideous lie.

I am really sorry that you were confronted in such a mean-spirited way. But I urge you to think of it is this way: YOU are the priest! YOU can preach a sermon about "judge not, lest ye be judged!" next Sunday! And I really hope that you do so.

Really, think of it - if you're a Christian, you believe that everything is in God's hands. If you have to berate someone in a church lobby, to me that says that you really don't trust God to do His work. Seems like Miss Judgmental needs to work on her own spiritual life.

And ultimately, your relationship with God is private. If you believe that you are doing the right thing and serving God by being a priest, then no one else's opinion matters. It might hurt, but if God approves of you, it doesn't matter if half the congregation hates you.

Lastly - Jesus said to let your light shine before men, not to place it under a bushel. For you, being a sahm would just be to sit under a bushel. If you have a God-given talent for helping others with their spiritual lives, I'm pretty sure God gave it to you for a reason. So be encouraged!

Posted by: phaith | October 23, 2007 8:26 AM

Elizabeth, I am so saddened by your experiences. It truly breaks my heart when people who proclaim themselves Christians fail to show Christ's love, as you described. But kudos to you for continuing to show His light and His love! Maybe by your example you were able to minister to this woman in ways we will never know about this side of eternity.

Posted by: elrena | October 23, 2007 8:27 AM

Wow, dotted, thanks for the example of Christian love and understanding.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 8:32 AM

Dotted, this is but one of the many reasons I don't attend church - the primary reasons being that I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God, coupled with the fact that most churches are more about the church than the Church (if you get my meaning). I think that Catwhowalked's activities are more reflective of the Christian teachings than most of what I have seen on a weekly basis at churches around the country. I think the world would be a better place if all the curchgoers stopped going to church and spent an hour a week helping someone else. There are lousy people everywhere, it is just worse when it happens in a place that professes love and generosity of spirit.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 8:33 AM

phaith - I was also struck by Elizabeth hiding her light.

Elizabeth - your writings show you to be a thoughtful person. I do believe you would be happier in another congregation. One with more like minded people. Unless you feel a true calling to change the culture at your current church, I would advise you move to another congregation.

This is somewhat similar to 'normal' jobs. Unless a woman feels strongly about changing the society at her corporation and is in a position to effect change (whether a position of power or law), she should change corporations to find one that is a better fit. You are in a position to effect change. They may listen. It will take much inner strength to change your church culture.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 8:34 AM

"Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans left parish ministry in 2002."

I hope you did not leave because of the way you were treated within the evangelical church. I do echo the sentiments of those who have found the evangelical church to be less about one's relationship with God and more about out-holying-thy-neighbor. Mom was southern methodist and Dad was southern baptist. I find that I myself found a much more warm and accepting community in mom's (less evangelical) church.

Any chance you would consider continuing your ministry in a different denomination?

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 8:37 AM

Moxie - thanks for your words. I agree with you that people are lousy everywhere...it was the fact that it was those who professed to be so christlike that were so devious and deceitful that hurt so badly. Yes, I know I have "issues" and it will take time to work through them. If I went to a "religious" church with my feelings and tried to talk about them with a minister, I am sure I would receive the "don't look at the people" spiel, etc. etc.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 8:38 AM

catwhowalked - I guess you can't take disagreement. I disagree with you, but I do not *resent* you. You *resent*. You also mistake disagreement for love and understanding. One can disagree with someone and love them at the same time.

moxie - church is a place for those seeking something, not those who had found it. Not believing Jesus is the son of God is the best reason not to go to church!

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 8:40 AM

dotted - I can see this is pointless to even discuss this with you, so I will leave you with a thought. You profess to be a Christian, and moxie says she does not believe Jesus is the son of God. Yet, who responded to me with kind words?
As the radio ad says, "not a sermon, just a thought"...(you have to be the D.C. area to get that).

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 8:45 AM

Ms Evans - sorry to air my issues on your entry - you sound like a wonderful minister and am sorry you were the victim of such a nasty woman.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 8:48 AM

have a great day, catwhowalked. I'll leave you with that.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 8:50 AM

My goodness, I can see the subject of church and belief stirs strong passions in a lot of us. Thank you for your candid comments. AND thank you for your support and insights. I'm sorry for those of you who have been hurt by the institutional church, corporately or individually.

To those who wonder if I should change denominations: I got out of parish ministry in part because, as an Episcopalian, I got sick of the conflict over consecrating gay bishops and blessing gay unions. Surely the Gospel is about more than than sexuality... In addition, I believe, and hope, we as a society (or those of us who happen to be Christian) are becoming post-denominational. We have to break down these boundaries, if we are to reach those, like some of you, who have left the church because of bad experiences.

Grace and peace, Elizabeth+

Posted by: EEEvans269 | October 23, 2007 8:52 AM

dotted wrote "church is a place for those seeking something, not those who had found it."

I happen to agree with this sentiment. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic elementary and high school, and was an altar server and therefore very involved in my parish. It was a great experience, and it definitely helped foster my relationship with G-d. But now that I am secure in my beliefs and my spirituality, I don't feel the need to attend mass. And because I disagree with some of the tenants of the institution of the Catholic church (one of them being the lack of women priests), I feel like kind of a hypocrite sitting in the pew.

I alos agree with raheli about the role of women in the Evangelical movement. That pretty much sums up my view, and I'll leave my opinion out of this discussion.

I think the we need more women like Elizabeth who are willing to spread the word that women can be leaders in the church. Kudos to all you who do so!

Posted by: Meesh | October 23, 2007 8:53 AM

Elizabeth - lovely commentary. I particularly love the "post-denominational" phrase.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 8:54 AM

Ms. Evans,
Thanks for responding. Isn't it true that homosexuality is mentioned very little, if at all, in the New Testament?
When I happened to be in the midst of a conversation of churchgoers who were holding a "prayer session" (gossip session) about another churchgoer, I would usually keep silent until something particular nasty was said, then respond with "you're right, that is EXACTLY what Jesus would do/say". Usually got a reaction ;-)

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 8:56 AM

I am wondering how much religious denomination has to do with the experiences Ms. Evans had as a female clergy. Specifically, evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, and other denominations preach and accept a more traditional division between men and women for their roles both in and out side of the home. Other denominations, frankly those that are more progressive in their worldview, seem to be more open to not only less traditional roles for men and women, but are also more inclusive of gays and lesbians who wish to practice their faith in a congregation. As a reform Jew, I have belonged to two separate congregations with a female rabbi. As far as I could tell, both women were well regarded and treated similarly to their male counterparts. Of course, as assistant rabbis, both women were also in charge of the temple's Sunday School programs which may be both a product of their position as assistants as their being women. Women, at least in reform Judiasm, seem to be more integrated into the leadership structure and there are no prohibitions against their service (as rabbis, cantors, temple presidents). Similarly, a dear friend of mine is deeply involved in a Congregational Church of Christ church and has had similar experience with female clergy in her own faith. It would be interesting to hear more from Ms. Evans on her experience not just with congregants but in interacting with other clergy from her faith for a more complete picture of her perspective.

Posted by: rlcooperman | October 23, 2007 8:57 AM

catwhowalked- I see you're angry about the churches you've experienced. I understand where you're coming from AND I agree with dotted. There's no reason to be angry and assume all churches are the same. If you want to be part of a congregation, it's going to take a while to find a fit. It's like finding a spouse! My husband and I are in the midst of dragging our feet about doing the church search, knowing we're probably not going to find the right one right away. We're turned off by churches that support "traditional" marriages. We want to be able to have a beer with other parishoners. We want to go to concerts by (very) non-Christian acts. We like non-denominational, non-liturgical, Bible-based services, but they usually go hand-in-hand with very conservative, evangelical people. I like charisma and modern music, but I'm a little creeped out by hands-to-God charismatic churches. That reads like a laudry list, but at least I know what I want! If I find it, I'll let you know where it is.

Posted by: atb2 | October 23, 2007 9:02 AM

atb2 - please do! I did meet someone who is giving me information about her church, which does sound like a good fit. Getting that trust level back is tough - it's like dating again after being dumped on a bunch of times. You know in your head not every guy is like that, but to know it with your heart is another thing. Good analogy with the marriage.
Thanks for understanding..

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 9:07 AM

It's funny because I wrote a post yesterday that WaPo ate about your faith and church being a haven, the idea being that Amish girls are being held in a hell that's supposed to be a haven. Our relationship with God is very raw and naked, and you have to be in a very safe place to be able to experience it. I imagine that's what we're all looking for. The problem is that there are lousy people everywhere, and they are VERY hard to love and very distracting.

Posted by: atb2 | October 23, 2007 9:14 AM

I spent a lot of time at church as a kid/teenager. I grew up as a Protestant (Congregational) and my two best friends were Catholic and Jewish. We would go to temple on Friday, Catholic folk service on Sat and my church on Sun.
When I left home and moved here I tried a couple of different churches but, like so many others, never found one that was a good "fit".
I was talking to a co-worker about their church and he was very enthusiastic about it. We chatted for a good half hour and I was ready to go until he mentioned that women did not have a place in their services, meetings, and did not hold any positions on boards, etc. While I do not consider myself a hard-core feminist this just did not sit well with me and I politely refused his offer to join him and his family that Sunday.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | October 23, 2007 9:16 AM

Today's comments are fascinating. I've been to church maybe six times in my life. My parents were not religious, and as an adult I've stayed away because of the reasons outlined above.

I found church to be boring, confusing, and frightening because of the lack of independent thought and the anti-woman messages I hear there. The alternative or progressive churches sound very interesting, like good life support groups, but to me God is a very private and personal relationship not suited for discussion with hundreds of other people.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 23, 2007 9:26 AM

It's interesting how many of us no longer worship in the denominations in which we were raised. I married someone of another faith and together we have looked for and found a church where we feel welcome. My parents still don't understand that. "shopping for a church", they always say.

But being a traditional family, we had lots of good church options. My sister, however, is a single mom and her home life is complicated. She recently decided to start bringing her kids to church and has shared with me the odyssey of finding a church where she felt welcome. It truly did sadden me -- especially since our pastor ALWAYS manages to say (every week) that our church is "a hospital for sinners and not a museum for saints." I love that line.

I taught for a while at a Christian school and though I'm female, I didn't get too much lip from the traditional moms. There are environments where people understand that "this is what God has called me to do, although He may be calling you to do something else." If anything, people were supportive of my particular vocation.

Posted by: justlurking | October 23, 2007 9:27 AM

"church is a place for those seeking something, not those who had found it."

God and the good within yourself can be found in places other than churches. Often the best way to see the divinity inside yourself is to look outward and open yourself to others in need.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 9:30 AM

"church is a place for those seeking something, not those who had found it."

IMHO "it" doesn't always stay found. People falter and sometimes need help to find "it" again. If you are have found a place of worship you are comfortable with "it" may be easier to find again.

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | October 23, 2007 9:37 AM

To single out a particular demographic, homeschoolers (easy target), and use the actions of an individual as fodder for resentment to be used as a topic of discussion shows very, very poor taste.

shame on you, Elizabeth. You did a huge disservice to every Christian who visits this board. If you think you are a model of love, joy and peace as your writing suggest, you blew it big-time with this one.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | October 23, 2007 9:38 AM

I have a real problem with the Evangelical movement and the holy-roller Baptist type churches, because of their insistence on subjugating women (something the HRCC does too, and it bothers me there as well), their intolerance of anything other than 1950's Cleaver-merica, and their rude, pushy, judgemental "witnessing."

I'm still a Catholic, but I've been attending an Episcopal church for the past six or so years, because I just can't bring myself to support the HRCC in the pews but I can't bring myself to leave either. The church I attend is pretty high-church and sort of conservative, but we do have a female priest, lots of working women in the congregation, and more of an interest in helping the less fortunate than engaging in controversy. I'm so sorry that Elizabeth received such rude treatment in an Episcopal church -- I always thought of them as relatively tolerant.

And I've been attacked by those Falwell-Robertson "christians" before. Right after I moved to Savannah (15 years ago) I met a woman who invited me to her church (her husband was the preacher and it was a Baptist church); when I politely declined, because I'm a Catholic, she looked at me like I had just grown horns and a tail, and she turned on her heel and walked away. A few years later, in Raleigh, I was at the pool with my sons, and I heard a little girl yelling at them (I was on the other side of the pool) and tell them that they weren't real Christians if they were Catholic. Those instances, along with all the times over the years I've been asked if I have taken Jesus as my Personal Lord and Savior (which I haven't -- he's not MINE, he's EVERYONE'S! and who am I to hog Him all for myself?!), and been told Catholics aren't saved or are idolators or whatever, and I have no use for that bunch. Christlike indeed. I don't argue, I just remember to pray that they become more tolerant of others, and happier and more secure in their faith in God.

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 23, 2007 9:39 AM

educmom - I can relate. When I left the fundie church, for a while I attending a Southern Baptist church (whole 'nother story). When I would run into people from my former church, they would ask what church I was attending, then smirk and say "well, I will need to pray for you then".
Love the line about "hogging Jesus". Can I use it?

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 9:48 AM

BTW - what's up with the down with moms movement lately? In my experience there are as many nasty men as women (@church and out and about). How about the "men" who don't have a "place" for women in their churches? I do think it is interesting, and I think men benefit, from women's willingness to bicker amongst themselves. We don't need men to put us down, we'll just go ahead and do that for them.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 9:53 AM

Six times? Six times isn't enough to decide whether or not you like Thai food, much less have a reasonably supported view of whatever constitutes church, especially considering the great variety of churches and individual congregations within churches.

As with many organizations, the value of church is not quickly revealed and becomes clear only with time. Many, perhaps most, people find satisfaction or uplift in their relationships with the people at a church. Relationships are not formed in a few toe-dip experiences. This also is true of many organizations.

Sermon content may differ, and some of it may be "anti-woman," but it is hard to see how anyone who has ever spent much time at a church would think all the members are. See who fills the seats. Lots of women. And any truthful clergy will tell you women run the place. They're heads of committees and organizing outreach. Men are helpful, but a church dies without women.

Anyone who thinks pretty much any church stifles independent thought hasn't been to enough Sunday school classes. Lots of disagreement if you find the right ones.

I am NOT arguing in favor of church in general, only questioning whether people who have played only a few innings in their lives can have an accurate view of baseball.

Posted by: gretel1 | October 23, 2007 10:03 AM

That particular Sunday, a longtime parishioner cornered me in the parish house lobby. She flayed me for being a feminist dupe who had entrusted the care of my children to strangers rather than assume my proper role as keeper of the home hearth fires. Shaken and close to tears, all I could think as she ranted was, My goodness, I had no idea you hated me that much.


I can't tell you how much this disgusts me and distresses me. Women called to serve are inspired by God to do so. Acting this way to an ordained minister/priest is beyond then pale. Women have a very active role in our church and I would leave if they were treated this way. I am proud to be in a church that shows my daughter that Jesus loves men and women equally and calls both to serve.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:11 AM

Being Jewish, this topic sorta only touches on some things for me. First of all, I'm from the north, but live in the south - and yes, people speak much more of their religion than we ever did growing up (I grew up pretty isolated in that regard, in any event, mostly everyone in my hometown was jewish - the public school closed on major jewish holidays).

So down in the south, it's a very different way, I think, for me.

But, also, spending more time at synagogue/in services, etc, I have also spent more time in the more 'religious' community and understand more about their practices (in Orthodox judaism, women aren't allowed to be rabbis, read torah, etc). My son is at a Chabad (VERY religious) run preschool and we are VERY happy with it.

I have seen people not really know what to say to me when they are proselytizing and then I tell them I am Jewish. They sorta just leave me alone. Some Christians didn't know what to say to me when I told them that Jews think of Jesus as 'just some guy.'

But then again, I don't understand the proselytizing anyway, we don't do it in Judaism. It's kinda like: I'm glad you're happy with what you're doing, but I'm happy with what I'm doing - let's be happy for each other. But others don't see it that way.

Anyway - re post: I think it's horrible that someone said that to you - but there are mean people everywhere.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 10:12 AM

Has anyone else gotten, given or seen the same sort of criticism Elizabeth Evans received?

I wonder if the woman unloaded on her because she expected a member of the clergy to be not merely competent in her priestly duties but also some sort of role model in every last possible aspect of her life.

Am also wondering if this woman had done something similar to other people. I suspect so. People who are rude to waiters tend to be rude to other people also.

Posted by: gretel1 | October 23, 2007 10:13 AM

I found church to be boring, confusing, and frightening because of the lack of independent thought and the anti-woman messages I hear there. The alternative or progressive churches sound very interesting, like good life support groups, but to me God is a very private and personal relationship not suited for discussion with hundreds of other people

Leslie, That's frankly a bunch of crap. I could say the same about work tenfold. I don't stop going there. You probably don't go to church like many others because it would cause you to leave your comfortable indulgent life. That's like saying I like to work but I don't think one should join an organization with other coworkers but work at home in my closet. I think it is sad that you have not found a church you are comfortable with but leave the lame excuses out.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:18 AM

I used to nanny for a family who went to a more conservative church.

Every once in a while, the mom would get approached by a certain woman in the chuch and the lady would say, "I'm praying that you will see the error of your ways and quit your job and take care of your children."

The rest of the church was generally supportive, so she just wrote off that lady, and kept attending.

Posted by: klynnwilder | October 23, 2007 10:24 AM

I'm sorry you had that happen, and think leaving such a parish is the right thing to do.

There are plenty of churches, particularly in the DC area, where women are quite welcome as leaders. It changes things in churches when women work. For one thing dinners get carried out or catered a lot more.

It is often said that with working wives that you only get half a pastor anymore, because you don't get the unpaid labor of his wife == which used to be the norm!

I've also read posts from Doctor-bloggers about being berated by hospitalized patients for leaving their children at daycare -- while they're caring for the very patients who berate them! Go figure.

All I can say is that I admire your professionalism because I would have quit or said something rude on the spot. So much for me being a good Christian.

Posted by: RedBird27 | October 23, 2007 10:27 AM

"Dotted, this is but one of the many reasons I don't attend church - the primary reasons being that I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God."

MOXIEMOM, I obviously disagree with you strongly on this. BUT I respect you much more than Leslie who uses some old tired cliche reasons to explain away her lack of faith. I hope your views will change but that is between you and Jesus.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:29 AM

"Leslie, That's frankly a bunch of crap. I could say the same about work tenfold. I don't stop going there. You probably don't go to church like many others because it would cause you to leave your comfortable indulgent life. That's like saying I like to work but I don't think one should join an organization with other coworkers but work at home in my closet. I think it is sad that you have not found a church you are comfortable with but leave the lame excuses out."

Patrick, I feel pretty much the same as Leslie when it comes to church, and I think your response is pretty thoughtless. Not everone feels or believes the same way as you. I don't go to church because I have no yearning for it, and feel no need for it. It is not like work. I work to support myself and my family. If I did not like my job, I would find another one, because not working is not a practical option. How would the bills get paid? Work and church are two very different things. There are plenty of people who aren't churchgoers, but who still contribute to their communities, through volunteer work. I do that, and I don't need a church to facilitate that (although I know that many do). I have no problem with people who attend church because it fills some need or satisfies something within them. But I do have a problem with holier than thou types who think their way is the only way.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 10:35 AM

Hi again-It's very interesting that folks have taken this as a critique of evangelicals as a whole. I don't feel that way about evangelicals. There is a wide spectrum of evangelical practice-and lots of the folks in my previous parish were not only welcoming, but happy to have a female serve as a minister when they had pastoral emergencies.

By the way, I was not attacking homeschoolers-a whole other topic! Some of the homeschooled kids were the brightest and most well-adjusted ones I knew.

PEACE, Elizabeth

Posted by: EEEvans269 | October 23, 2007 10:38 AM

Thanks for being so decent patrick. I think you might find that on many issues realated to morality we agree and I'm happy we can agree to disagree on this one. I actually think that Jesus was a pretty good guy with a lot of good things to say. One could do a lot worse than to pay some heed to his teachings. Believe it or not, it is possible to believe in much of what Jesus taught w/o believing he is divine.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 10:39 AM

I've met atheists with a "holier than thou" attitude so I wouldn't blame religion. People put down other people so they can feel better about themselves. (Which isn't to say I wouldn't be upset if I was attacked like Ms. Evans)
I definitely object to certain teachings coming from some churches (but I love the Episcopalians for having made Gene Robinson the first openly gay bishop in Christendom -- he's a remarkable man and was elected by the Episcopalians of New Hampshire because they believed he was the best man to lead their diocese, and his sexual orientation was largely irrelevant to the decision. Those who know him get really frustrated that people can't see past that.)
So I agree with the "church shoppers." You have to find a commmunity where you're comfortable even though there's always going to be a few people who rub you the wrong way. Learning to deal graciously with idiots and mean people is a useful skill and what better place to learn than church!

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 10:42 AM

Very interesting reading today's blog. First off, good guest blog from Elizabeth, and yes the woman who accosted her was a jerk. Unfortunately, there are jerks everywhere and in every field, and we've just got to deal with them. I hope that this type of reaction is not what caused Elizabeth to leave parish ministry; it's better to overcome this sort of thing than to run from it.

Also interesting to read everyone's opinion on church and religion. It's amazing to read the hostility - I thought for a moment that pATRICK and johnl had logged in as dotted and Catwhowalked this morning. I will say that I've known atheists and anti-church people who could be as bigoted, self-righteous and obnoxious as the most fundamental member of any religion. Intolerance knows no bounds.

My view's probably colored by the fact that I'm not in a real happy place right now. I had a long talk with my 15-year old daughter last night; she'd been talking with the friend whose mother died of breast cancer Saturday night. The friend kept going on about how her mother had promised to help her pick out a prom dress next spring, and now she won't be able to do that. What kind of deity would be so mean as to take away a mother so she couldn't help her daughters pick out their prom dresses?

But my view on church has always been that it's your own personal choice; you have to decide that you believe in something or you don't. I try not to criticize others, and quite frankly I tend not to like criticism of my beliefs - although as I get older I tend to ignore criticism more, for whatever that's worth.

I have ancestors in many different religions; I'm Catholic, primarily because of the influences of my Mexican-American grandfather. (My other grandfather, who was French-Canadian, was also Catholic.) Yes, in its history, the Catholic church has done some pretty indefendible things, from Borgia popes right up to covering up molestation of children. But on the other hand, the church is an institution run by human beings who don't always do the right things. And the church has done a lot of good things over the years. It's a big, complex institution that mostly tries to do its best.

The church gets a lot of grief about being anti-science; e.g., because of Galileo; but on the other hand the Big Bang theory of cosmology was originally developed by a Catholic priest.

Some think that the Catholic church is anti-woman, because women aren't allowed to be priests. But then women run entire parishes as Pastoral Life Directors, in addition to running Catholic schools, hospitals, hospital systems, parish councils, etc. To say that women have no power in the Catholic church is to be very wrong, indeed. It's not fully equal, but it's getting there. (And frankly, it wouldn't surprise me to see women priests in my life time. There are already married priests; I think women might come sooner rather than later but that's just my opinion.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 23, 2007 10:45 AM

EMILY, you as usual miss my point. Call it thoughtless or whatever. People have a million excuses why they don't want to go to church. You and I never agree on anything anyway so some long rejoinder to you would be a waste of time.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:48 AM

What a cop out, Patrick. But fine. I have found that you tend to do that when you can't pull together a reasoned response.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 10:49 AM

catwhowalked, the line's all yours to use!

moxiemom, I think the other monotheistic religions see Jesus as a prophet or teacher, as do many atheists (except that meanie Hitchens). I happen to think he's more, but I'm with you -- you don't have to agree with me about Jesus' divinity to benefit from Jesus' wisdom.

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 23, 2007 10:50 AM

But, pATRICK, realistically, people get all sorts of things from all sorts of people. If one has a relationship with G-d (or Jesus) it's their own business - and whether or not they go to church, they have that relationship.

There is plenty of religion out there, withouthaving to belong to a synagogue/church.

This coming from someone who definitely criticized people who complain about how 'expensive' it is to join, but they themselves don't join until their kids are 10 or so and they want their kids to have bat/bar mitzvahs. They want the synagogue to BE there, but they just don't want to SUPPORT it. cause if all those people would just JOIN, the dues would be much LOWER.

I don't know how it works completely in Christianity, tho, so I can't say about that.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 10:51 AM

What kind of deity would be so mean as to take away a mother so she couldn't help her daughters pick out their prom dresses?

This is a good question. The same deity who created a world that they could live together in, who created them and filled them with love for each other, who gave them the chance to experience all that love, who then brings them to his presence to live in eternal love and reunites them again for eternity to share that love. That is what kind of deity.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:52 AM

ArmyBrat, I think that women unoffically run the Church. But until they at least consider nuns to be in Holy Orders (forget being priests -- if nuns were accorded the same status as priests it wouldn't be much of an issue), I will still say the HRCC subjugates women, although not as much as a lot of other churches...

Posted by: educmom_615 | October 23, 2007 10:54 AM

What a cop out, Patrick. But fine. I have found that you tend to do that when you can't pull together a reasoned response

EMILY,I could demolish your argument at will. But it is frankly not worth my time to argue with you because you are just closeminded when it come to religion and your posts just aren't that interesting.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:55 AM

"EMILY,I could demolish your argument at will"

LOL - Put your money where your mouth is. And yes, I find your mindless preaching to be quite boring as well.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 10:56 AM

Emily, another snoozer from you. Quite a habit you are developing. Wake me up when you have something interesting to say.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 10:58 AM

Maybe the real question posed here is how to deal with those who vehemently oppose your decisions. In this case, the opposition uses religion to make their point, regardless of whether religion makes a good argument or not. Pastors have a particularly difficult time because their lives are rather open. In any group, there will be people who disagree with any particular decision and openness means there are a lot of private decisions that aren't so private after all. Elizabeth's 'job' is very tough.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 10:59 AM

dotted_1 makes a good point. Pastors are in a particularly vulnerable position for some reason. But it can happen to others as well. How does one deal with an attack on such an intimate decision as to how to raise one's children?

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 11:04 AM

OT to anon from yesterday: I would ask any two people posting during MNF time "why aren't they watching MNF?" (as anyone who knows my writing can generally attest: I love sports..and what a game Sunday from the Redskins..I was on the edge of my seat! Steelers gave the game away in the 2nd quarter.). Thus, the sexism is in the person reading, not the person writing.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 11:05 AM

How does one deal with an attack on such an intimate decision as to how to raise one's children?

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 11:04 AM

Simply look the person in the face and ask them "Why would you say that?"

Posted by: KLB_SS_MD | October 23, 2007 11:08 AM

"How does one deal with an attack on such an intimate decision as to how to raise one's children?"

Ignore it.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 23, 2007 11:11 AM

I missed something. Why did Elizabeth leave ministry? I hope not becuase of that nitwit lady.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 11:12 AM

OOps, I meant, people get things from all sorts of PLACES.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 11:13 AM

Not really sure what to say about this one. The church I attended in college, definitely seemed hell-bent on turning females into docile, husband-serving and baby-making machines. I'm talking about bordering on Stepfordom here. Then again, it was a very loving church environment and I do miss some of the people.

On the other hand, the church I grew up in and still attend (when I'm not tired) is all about competition and who has the most degrees, the biggest salary and nicest clothing and accessories. The environment isn't as loving, IMHO, but it also encourages women to be something that isn't realistic or even healthy in today's society.

I invite anyone to guess the difference between the two churches. Hint: it's not the denomination nor location.

Posted by: Strawberry23 | October 23, 2007 11:17 AM

«I have a real problem with the Evangelical movement and the holy-roller Baptist type churches, because of their insistence on subjugating women (something the HRCC does too, and it bothers me there as well),»
«Posted by: educmom_615 | October 23, 2007 09:39 AM»

Subjugating women, the HRC Church, how can it be subjugating women, HRC is herself a woman, let her subjugate Bill for cheating on her so many times!

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | October 23, 2007 11:19 AM

«It's kinda like: I'm glad you're happy with what you're doing, but I'm happy with what I'm doing - let's be happy for each other. But others don't see it that way.»
«Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 10:12 AM»

O atlmom, if you are happy with what you are doing and I am happy with what I am doing, then we can all get along. Others, they too should get along because this is America.

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | October 23, 2007 11:20 AM

In my 9 years as an ordained female pastor, I'm grateful that the number of hostile encounters I've had because of my gender has been relatively few. It seemed to bother people more when I started in the ministry; as time went on, it became either a non-issue or a positive one. Experience and relationship are powerful factors on changing one's percepetions.
I find most of the pressure I feel to excel at my job comes from within. As a single parent of three (ages 10, 7 and 4) I have to rely heavily on the 'village' of my congregation, especially on Sunday mornings. It can be extremely challenging to preach or lead worship when my children are being squirrely out in the congregation ... though, thankfully, as they've gotten older that's become easier. I remember feeling on numerous occasions like I was failing at everything -- my job, my parenting -- and doing so in a painfully public way. But the flip side is, I can speak with authority on what a difference it makes for families to worship and serve together, and why it's so important to start those habits when they are young.
My children love coming to church for much the same reason I did when I was growing up -- because adults pay attention to them, talk to them and treat them like they are important. The nature of my work has led us to have interesting conversations about illness, death, suffering, compassion, injustice and reverence. Sometimes they still ask me why I have to 'be the pastor all the time.' But I'm also doing my best to teach them the values I think are important -- and be an example of what it looks like to be flawed, fun, fair AND faithful.

Posted by: skcunnin | October 23, 2007 11:23 AM

SKCUNNIN, well done.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 11:30 AM

Slightly off-topic - anyone here ever seen the BBC show The Vicar of Dilby? Great comedy with Dawn French as a female vicar of a small, bucolic English village.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 11:38 AM

Dear Elizabeth,

One of the dangers we face as clergy is "projection". Parishioners project onto us either their good or bad experiences, and so they either make the mistake of putting us on a pedestal or they take out their anger toward God or their whole lives on us because of our leadership position. I'm probably not telling you anything new, but perhaps it will allow you to forgive more easily. The issue clearly lies with this woman, not you. Although not a woman, as an Episcopal priest I've experienced this same thing with parishioners.

Like all sensitive people who are drawn to ministry, this hurts deeply, but rejoice! Thank God you're the kind of minister who is able to be hurt. Your pain is a sign that you're not jaded! We need you. You have a calling. God doesn't make mistakes.

- Rick+

Posted by: BookofDaniel | October 23, 2007 11:39 AM

I like that traditional Quakerism (Society of Friends) doesn't have pastors. Everyone is a pastor and when someone is moved to speak during silent worship, he or she speaks. We minister to each other. Avoids the pastoral pedestal that seems to allow for target shooting.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 11:43 AM

" anyone here ever seen the BBC show The Vicar of Dilby? Great comedy with Dawn French as a female vicar of a small, bucolic English village. "

Yes. And how about that "Flying Nun"?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 23, 2007 11:45 AM

Well, I have mixed feelings about church. I think that church can be a great community builder, but I wasn't raised in a religious household and have a hard time really buying into the whole thing (church, Jesus Christ, maybe even God). That said, religion is so important to so many people, I am contemplating whether I want to join a progressive, open-minded church in order for my children to be exposed to religion. I think I'd do this more for their education though than for anything else - maybe also because of its importance in the community. Something my DH and I are considering (neither of our families are religious).

Posted by: londonmom | October 23, 2007 11:47 AM

Way, way, way off topic.

I was browsing FBI crime stats trying to figure out whether priests/clergy are disproportionately the victims of crime.

Anyway, I was surprised to see that the Northeast appears to be GENERALLY, the safest region in the country. Anyone else find that odd?

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/data/table_30.html

I thought that the northerners/yankees carried the stereotypes of having all the crime-ridden cities this side of L.A.

Again, way off topic but I thought it was interesting.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 11:53 AM

dotted_1

Just as it would be sexist to assume that no women enjoy sports, in particular football, you have implied that all men enjoy watching football. (johnl and pATRICK - why aren't you watching MNF?)

A non stereotypical comment would have been something like -- don't you two have something better to do than snipe at each other? Change a diaper, read your child a book etc.

IMO, football is nothing more than semi-controlled violence which causes death and permanent impairment for the enjoyment of the masses. Not too far removed from boxing.

Posted by: anonthistime | October 23, 2007 11:54 AM

anon - I think you just proved my point..you stereotyped, not me...I merely pointed out what *I* would rather be doing...watching MNF. change a diaper? no thanks, my kids are teens and up.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 11:57 AM

"I am contemplating whether I want to join a progressive, open-minded church in order for my children to be exposed to religion. I think I'd do this more for their education though than for anything else"

Londonmom, I have considered joining a church for the same reasons as you. I attended Catholic church as a child, and went to Catholic elementary school and then an Episcopalian high school. I found the experience to be at least very educational, and I think that my religious upbringing has contributed to my knowledge of our culture and our history, as well as to other religious cultures. I worry that my son will not have that if I don't find a church for us to go to. But so far, this reason has not been compelling enough to join a church. I think it is too bad that religious history is not part of the public school curriculum. I think all children should get a taste of that, because it explains so much about ourselves.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 12:00 PM

ProudPapa: not surprised. Although NYC has some reputation, Atlanta is among the tops of crimes (per XXX number of people). I equate that to a lack of a good transportation system (really!). When people are out and about, and on the street, and walking from place to place (or on a subway) there are more people around and there is less likelihood of crimes being committed.

A personal thought, but nevertheless...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 12:00 PM

Emily: it would be nice to have that as a historical perspective, but I don't think it could ever be done in a public school. There would be enough cooks to spoil the broth. Fortunately, people can get that education in college. We can't even agree on evolution vs. not. I doubt that we could teach religion from a historical perspective...*sigh*

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 12:02 PM

OT Anyone else horrified by the California fires? My high school, couple of houses lived in, are right in the midst of flames...300,000 people displaced. One person dead...Thank goodness the death toll is low, but even one is too many. My thoughts and prayers are set out west.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 12:04 PM

dotted_1

I did not type you as I already knew that you love MFB.

If you would reread my comments, I did not say change a diaper was the only option. What I did say is "don't you two have something better to do" and then I gave 2 examples. I did not restrict the response to a yes/no to a single activity.

Certainly, you can read along with your teenagers.

Posted by: anonthistime | October 23, 2007 12:05 PM

anon-he he he...reading along with teenagers...anyone ever try this one? Though my husband did read all the Harry Potter books outloud to our youngest as they came out. It was a ritual that went to teen hood. It is sad to think that ritual is now over...sniff sniff.

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 12:08 PM

I agree, atlmom. It would be too dicey, probably. In high school, we had to take a class on Episcopalian theology, and I remember that for some students who were not Episcopalian, some of the things that we read for the class were really offensive. And the teacher was not advocating that everyone had to believe the theology, it was presented as "this is what Episcopalians believe" (because it was an Episcopal school). Still, it caused some friction in the class with people of other faiths. If we had these problems in a church school, I can imagine that the can of worms in a public school system would be that much bigger.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 12:08 PM

Emily and Londonmom - I agree that it is important for children to have an understanding of religion. It has powerful effects on history and culture worldwide, but you don't have to join a church. You could make it a point to discuss the many religions in the world and their philosophies. You can visit the different places of worship to experience their services. Joining a church when you don't necessarily believe seems a bit disingenuous. I too wish that the schools did a better job of eductation about religion.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 12:09 PM

anon-he he he...reading along with teenagers

Yea, I was being facetious about that one!

Posted by: anonthistime | October 23, 2007 12:23 PM

OK, where did you guys go to school? Because we learned about religion in public school in NY. We learned it from a historical and cultural POV. Overall, there were a few tense moments but most people took at a study on history/culture/anthropology. Also my friend is a mentor to some middle school at risk students in the Arlington County schools. One of their recent assignments was to compare and contrast two different religions from a list of several (like Roman Catholicism, protestantism, Judiaism, Mormonism, and Islam). I know this because she asked me for some information. I gave her the basic low down on the ones I knew about and pointed her to some websites. At the middle school level most of this information can be found on the web and you might want to search other documents to substantiate the claims because we all know how websites work. Anyway, the idea was to give kids the basic ideas and work it into critical writing.
altmom-As far as I know (and someone correct me if I am wrong) Christian churches do NOT charge a fee. It is not a fee for service organization. Now some churches preach the biblical tithe (meaning giving 10% of your income to charity or to the church). Although a lot of churches preach this, what little data I have seen, most people do not practice a tithe (in the US) regardless of what their religion says. I think the Mormons come the closest with an average of slightly under 8%. Some churches ask for a pledge. That is a set amount of money you agree at the beginning of a year to give to the church through out the year. But as far as I know it is not a binding contract. People who pledge generally feel obligated to pay their pledge to the best of their ability.
altmom-I agree with you that some people do not understand how much money it takes to run a church/house of worship and basically think that it is like a gym membership. When I feel the need to be there, I will pay my membership dues (baptism, barmitzvah, marriage etc...) But in general, I choose to belong to a church and pledge because I feel I want to belong to a community of faith. Of course spirituality and faith are deeply individual things and NO you don't need organized religion to practice your faith or develop your knowledge or spirituality. Some people just feel called to it. To me it means that I enjoy the corporate worship and believe that it enhances my experience with G-d.
moxiemom-I have to say I often wondered what your religious leanings were from some of your posts. I am sorry Christianity isn't for you (it isn't for everyone). And yes, I think you can be a good person who has a relationship with
G-d without ever going to a place of worship. I actually wondered if you were Jewish when I read your posts. Also if you don't believe in the divinity of Christ, church is probably not the best place for you. But there are some faiths that teach the same moral lessons and don't believe in the divine Christ. I think Judiaism is one of them. Maybe you will check it out. I think the Universalist Uniterians are another of the "I am not sure on Jesus thing. "
Elizabeth- I wish you the best of luck. I can't imagine being put up to judge every day. I hope you find what you are looking for. Even if you decide not to ever gain a parish, I know you can serve mankind and
G-d in a number of ways.
Patrick- I think lots of people have the same reasons for NOT joining a religion as Leslie. Although they may sound lame to you, it may be how she feels.
Frankly I am a group theorist. Meaning: Just about anything done by yourself or in small numbers (spirtiually speaking) is a good thing. Once you go over more then 6 or so people, it is bound to get messed up.
To everyone out there, I hope you find what works for you. Whether it be a church/synogogue, mosque, meeting hall or just the tree in the back yard, finding a place that gives you great peace is a wonderful thing. No matter where I have been or what I have done, when I go to mass, I feel like I have returned to my father's house. It is biblical to me. I feel a sense of peace and understanding. If I ever stopped feeling that, I would probably stop going. Look into your own hearts and find that peace for yourself.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 12:30 PM

Foamgnome: Synagogues work differently then. There are 'dues' to pay (based on marital status, age, that sorta thing). But basically, when people 'join' many of them do so in order to have somewhere to go for the high holidays - mostly all activities during the year are 'free.' Except the religious school, where I'm paying an extra fee in addition to my dues.

It's amazing, cause the synagogue I'm at seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, but yet, dues keep going up. Just like taxes...;)

There is actually one synagogue here that encourages you to pay something like 2% of your income, but I've never seen that at any other synagogue anywhere.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 12:39 PM

altmom-In most Christian denominations, you have to pay for their schools beyond the traditional religious education provided in a Sunday school type program (CCD for Catholics). And things like Easter mass and Christmas mass is free. They do generally pass around an offering plate but you don't have to put any $$ into it. Since I am member of the church, I get to look at the annual budget. It is very expensive to run houses of worship. Just their utilities are so expensive. I think the dues are probably going up because every thing is going up-including your paid clergy. Churches that have volunteer clergy are, of course, a lot cheaper to run. I have always found that you get what you pay for. :)

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 12:43 PM

"...but it also encourages women to be something that isn't realistic or even healthy in today's society"

Strawberry, what's that?

Posted by: Meesh | October 23, 2007 12:43 PM

foamgnome: oh, yeah, I was on the board of a synagogue - definitely everything goes up. And yes, the clergy is being paid very well.

Apparently, there are fewer people going to rabbinical schools and there are more opportunities for rabbis than synagogue pulpits than years ago(working for a non profit, running a jewish day school), so it's really supply and demand.

But the synagogues use the fact that many people just want to be in synagogue 3 days a year to get something out of people - the building needs to be there year round, even though people say: why do I need to pay....etc...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 12:46 PM

altmom-just out of curiosity, why are their fewer rabbinical students if there are more opportunities for them. It seems like the opposite of a normal economic trend. There are a lot fewer Catholic priests these days but we all know why and it has nothing to do with empty positions waiting for them to fill.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 12:49 PM

Hey foam - where've you been? I hope your absence speaks to an improvement in your work assignments not a down turn in your personal life. How's your girl?

Thanks for the thoughts on options. You know, when I "quit" Christianity, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to "be" and who jived with my beliefs. I finally realized that I don't have to "be" anything. I know what I believe, I know who I am and I don't have to have a label. It was immensely liberating espeically since I don't so much have a problem with religiosity as much as I do with the organizations that exist, in my opinion, to exploit religiosity. This is not said to disparage anyone who thinks differently, just where I am at. I tell my kids that we believe in most of the same things as our churchgoing friends, we simply mainfest it in a different way.

As an aside, my experience has been that protestants don't charge for Sunday school (and it is actually held on Sundays) but that Catholic parishes do charge, somewhat heavily ($160 here, per year) for CCD. Just for fun, ask your Catholic friends what CCD stands for - a good 8 out of 10 don't know........... its Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 12:56 PM

Foam: The rabbinical schools are accepting fewer students. I'm not sure that's the trend today, but it has been recently. So - you can't get ordained unless you went to rabbinical school...

Moxie: Only $160!!! I'm paying almost $500 for 3 1/4 hours of religious school per week (when he starts going two days a week, it will almost - but not quite - double). My friends who send/sent their kids to preschools in churches also got a bargain.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 12:58 PM

moxiemom-I have been super busy since the data arrived several months ago. This is the awesome fun part (to us math geeks). I am working on some super projects. Also, my daughter is doing well. Thanks for asking. She continues to improve. She still struggles with language but she is definitely talking in 2 and 3 word sentences. She even talks about stuff that happened 9 or 9 months ago. She has improved so much she is starting to tattle on her school mates. :) Actually, paying for CCD depends on your diocese. It is included in my pledge. So I guess you could argue that we pay for it through our pledge. She is not old enough for CCD yet. She went to children's chapel last week for the first time. She was a hit. Each child went around the circle requesting to sing some sort of religious song. When it was my daughter's turn, she burst into a full rendition of Strawberry shortcake halloween special. Don't sweat it, I don't think organized religion is for everyone. I just thought you should know that you don't have to believe in the big JC to be a part of an organized religion.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 1:02 PM

Only $160!!! I'm paying almost $500 for 3 1/4 hours of religious school per week (when he starts going two days a week, it will almost - but not quite - double). My friends who send/sent their kids to preschools in churches also got a bargain.

I guess we are cheap. :)

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 1:03 PM

moxiemom, our church charges less than $160 for CCD (and I *so* knew what it stands for :-). It used to be $50; I think it's around $100 now. But it goes for supplies (books, etc.) and the share of the utilities and other expenses allotted to the religious education program.

I've seen the parish utility bill, for the church, school, gym, parish hall, etc. It's a BIG, BIG, number. It has to be paid somehow.

(Since the Governor was SO successful at keeping his campaign promise to stop utilities from raising their rates by 50%, it knocked a hole in the budget. Gee, wonder what other campaign promises he's going to be successful at. :-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 23, 2007 1:06 PM

I too love the comment about "post-denomination". so much varies church to church-- and what you bring ourself to the church can really make a difference.

However, for those people out there wanting to expose their children to religion, I hope you consider attending a Unitarian church. I suppose some would say that I could serve the world better if I spent the time volunteering instead of the hour on Sunday mornings that I spend in the pews, but the reality for me is that that one hour fully charges my batteries and makes me capable of doing the volunteer and family and "real" work that I do the rest of the week.

And, for some reason, sex is WAY better after church than any other time! Can I get an "Amen"?

Posted by: baby-work | October 23, 2007 1:06 PM

Moxie - I went to CCD in the 70s, so not sure if it was free at that point. Actually I am embarassed that I never knew what it stood for *blushes*

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 1:09 PM

"Anyway, I was surprised to see that the Northeast appears to be GENERALLY, the safest region in the country. Anyone else find that odd? . . ."

"I thought that the northerners/yankees carried the stereotypes of having all the crime-ridden cities this side of L.A."

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 11:53 AM

Well, yeah, I'm not surprised at all that the Northeast is the safest region in the country, as opposed to the hot, sunny Southland. A lot of the violent crime takes place outdoors, and Yankee-land turns noticeably colder in October, meaning that the criminals are more likely to stay indoors and shoot their heroin rather than venturing out into the "wind and rain" to shoot their victims. Edward E. Bowen must wrote about this in his song for the Harrow school. Here is the last verse and the chorus:

"October brings the cold weather down,
When the wind and the rain continue,
He nerves the limbs that are lazy grown,
And braces the languid sinew,
So while we have voices and lungs to cheer,
And the winter frost before us,
Come sing to the king of the mortal year,
And thunder him out in chorus!
October, October!
March for the dull and sober!
The suns of May for the schoolgirl's play,
But give to the boys October!
October! October!"

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | October 23, 2007 1:11 PM

"And, for some reason, sex is WAY better after church than any other time! "


Sex is also pretty nifty after attending a funeral. Very life affirming.

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 23, 2007 1:12 PM

I just thought you should know that you don't have to believe in the big JC to be a part of an organized religion.

foamgnome, I'm not sure what you mean by that...if you don't believe in God, why go to church -- especially a Catholic church?

Mass isn't a historical lesson or a social club -- it's where one glorifies God. Do you listen to the creeds, prayers and responses as you say them? Don't you think it's hypocritical to profess something you don't believe?

I understand there are some denominations that have different ideas about belief, and I think people who want to 'expose' their child to church or have somewhere to go on Sunday morning, should pursue that option.

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 23, 2007 1:25 PM

Altmom - CCD is once a week for an hour or an hour and a half of extra religious education, e.g., Sunday school stuff. You sound like you are paying for pre-school. Now, I will say that the Catholic schools are cheaper than other private schools in the area, but I also hear that you have to give a lot or be super church mom, organizer, volunteer lady to get in. Again, statements based on my experience and reflective of my area. BTW, I love Judiasm - it was at the top of the list when we were searching. I still find the ideology and rituals to be among the most logical and lovely in the world.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 1:25 PM

educ-mom: I said you don't have to belive in JC to belong to an organized religon (not Christianity). Lots of organized religons don't believe in Jesus as a divine being. Like Jews, UUs, Hindus, Buddhist etc... I did say if she did not believe in JC, church is probably not for her. Meaning Christianity basically teaches that Jesus was and is G-d. I thought Moxiemom might find another religion (not Christianity) that she might like but is not predicated on the belief in Jesus.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 1:30 PM

And CCD has associated costs -- books, supplies, utilities for the school building on a Sunday, the salary of the DRE...I find it amazing that Protestants don't charge! I mean, other than a DRE, don't they have toprovide all that other stuff? That being said, I've never paid more than $30/child, so I suppose the parishes I've belonged to have absorbed some of the costs.

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 23, 2007 1:34 PM

Hey, pATRICK, I know it makes your day to attack me, so go ahead and indulge yourself.

But for the record, I do have plenty of faith. I just get it from other places and other people who are bound together by other causes. I know lots of people who enjoy getting connected, to God and to others, through church. But organized religion is not for everyone.

And need I point out how judgmental and anti-Christian your attacks are?

Posted by: leslie4 | October 23, 2007 1:34 PM

foam, glad to hear your little girl is hanging in there and moving forward. I think the Strawberry shortcake makes perfect sense, Rock of Ages just isn't as catchy! I was thinking about you when Jenny McCarthy was on Larry King. It really is a tough row to hoe and I've a lot of respect for you. I'm also glad that work is fun again. Nothing more soul stealing than a lousy job.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 1:34 PM

Jenny is a little out there. What does it mean to say I am an idigo child and my kid is a crystal? But yes, it is an interesting journey. My kid is very mild compared to Jenny's son. My heart goes out to all parents dealing with their special needs kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 1:36 PM

Sorry, foamgnome. I went back & reread your post, and I misunderstood. She sounds like a candidate for Unitatarianism.

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 23, 2007 1:36 PM

That parishoner was some "christian" eh?

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | October 23, 2007 1:39 PM

"What does it mean to say I am an idigo child and my kid is a crystal?"

Well, she is in Hollywood!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 1:39 PM

Unitatarianism*
great, now I stutter when I type!

Posted by: educmom__615 | October 23, 2007 1:44 PM

Matt, that was pretty funny. I really wasn't thinking of crime as "seasonal", but I suppose it makes some sense that crooks get cold too. Though in theory, Winter should be prime carjacking and home invasion season.

(I hope me snarking about crime doesn't offend)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 1:53 PM

"Unitatarianism*
great, now I stutter when I type!"

Actually, I thought you were just referring to worship of John Unitas. Sounded like a new local religion consisting of people who remember back when there was a quarterback in Baltimore. ('Cause Kyle Boller stinks!)

:-)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 23, 2007 1:58 PM

unitarianism = "worship of johnny unitas."

i love this time of day on the blog when everyone gets punchy.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 23, 2007 2:01 PM

Ah, nothing like a discussion about religion to bring out the worst in people, LOL!

It seems to me that any individual can use religion as their excuse to criticize, slur and attack others or as their inspiration to see the common goodness, love and humanity in others. I've certainly seen my share of both from people of all religious persuasions, and the one lesson I've learned is not to take anyone's professed faith or lack thereof at face value.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 23, 2007 2:01 PM

"Hey, pATRICK, I know it makes your day to attack me, so go ahead and indulge yourself.

But for the record, I do have plenty of faith. I just get it from other places and other people who are bound together by other causes. I know lots of people who enjoy getting connected, to God and to others, through church. But organized religion is not for everyone.

And need I point out how judgmental and anti-Christian your attacks are?"


Leslie, being involved in civic or charity events is not the same as faith in God. You have that confused. Organized religion is a punching bag here I know, but it exists to help you develop your faith through a community. The same way a person who wants to lift weights goes to a gym. To use the tools and people there to reach a goal. Lastly, I find it very very amusing when people who confess to not having any faith and look down on christianity tell me what is and isn't christian. Very arrogant indeed. This is a no holds barred blog and YOU inserted a controversial topic where apparently atheists can attack religion at will, but then you waive the "well that's not very christian" flag when others call YOU on your inconsistencies.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 2:09 PM

I like that traditional Quakerism (Society of Friends) doesn't have pastors. Everyone is a pastor and when someone is moved to speak during silent worship, he or she speaks. We minister to each other. Avoids the pastoral pedestal that seems to allow for target shooting.

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 11:43 AM

Okay, straight up front, we Pagans don't proselytize as a rule, and I want to avoid even the appearance of it.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, this talk of pedestals reminded me of something in a 'Magick 101' course I took many, many years ago. One of the leaders of the class was talking about differences between Paganism and Christianity, and he mentioned the hierarchical leadership sturctures of most Christian denominations, and (stepping up onto the ledge in front of the fireplace), how the minister/preacher/priest will stand at a podium and talk down to the congregation. Then he asked the class how we felt about him looming over us and looking down on us. Most of us expressed some form of discomfort, and one person expressed a desire to throw spit-wads and otherwise behave in an annoying fashion.

In my tradition we gather in circles where everyone is equal, and we all participate in worship and celebration of our ritual.

When we pass the hat, it's completely voluntary, and it's stated clearly that donations pay for renting the hall we've been using. In the summer we meet outdoors in parks, which are usually free, but we still pass the hat and explain that the money collected will be used to cover winter time hall rentals.

I once saw a homeless man wander into a Yule celebration and eat from the potluck. Organizers noted the stranger, but took no actions to discourage him. I've seen kids and families who happened to be in the park with us, join our circle and at Beltaine (May Day) dance the Maypole with us. We welcome strangers, and answer their questions. If they ask about future rituals, we'll give them information, but unless they ask, we don't volunteer anything.

We believe that there are as many paths to diety as there are people to walk them. The path that is right for you, may not be right for me, and my path may not be right for you. We should each walk our own way, but respect the paths that others choose.

If we're all climbing to the top of Half-Dome, and you climb the face while I take the trail up the back side, we're both going to wind up at the top of the same mountain enjoying the same views of creation.

If we use different names for each of our dieties, but agree that Diety is greater than humans, and greater than humans are capable of understanding, then we are talking about (and worshipping) the same being, and doing so in the ways that we can each best draw closer to Diety.

When we were growing up, raised Catholic, my brother could be an altar boy, but my sisters and I weren't allowed to serve the congregation. Now, I can be the priestess, and my Deity is a triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The closest I've ever felt to Diety was giving birth to my child, feeling him pass out of my body through my efforts, and the Mother Goddess allowing me to share in a small part of Her act of creation.

(Please don't errect that stake in the town square, and please don't gather any firewood. Burning witches is so 17th century, and I prefer living in the 21st!)

Posted by: sue | October 23, 2007 2:15 PM

Could everyone do me a huge favor and go to their respective houses of worship and pray for the Redskins this Sunday? 'cause ya know it will take a miracle to beat the Patriots. *sigh*

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 2:17 PM

"Could everyone do me a huge favor and go to their respective houses of worship and pray for the Redskins this Sunday? 'cause ya know it will take a miracle to beat the Patriots. *sigh*"

Pray for the Redskins? No way! But speaking from sad experience, I do have a prediction: PAIN.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 2:21 PM

Patrick, I fear you speak the truth....but one thing we Redskin fans have is an unending supply of hope! :-)

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 2:24 PM

Since Gene Weingarten was unexpectedly AWOL today, in the spirit of his weekly polls I'd like to propose a few questions. How would you handle the one that's appropriate to your situation? And a what point does the child's age matter?

1. Parents are religious. Child announces that s/he no longer believes in any religion and refuses to participate in family religious-based activities like attending regular services, saying grace, etc.

2. Parents are religious. Child announces that s/he now believes in a different religion, refuses to participate in your family's religious-based activities, and wants you to join his/her faith.

3. Parents are unreligious. Child comes to you one day announcing that s/he has embraced a (conventional) religion and wants you to join his/her faith-based acitivities, including attending regular services, saying grace, etc.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 2:26 PM

Could everyone do me a huge favor and go to their respective houses of worship and pray for the Redskins this Sunday? 'cause ya know it will take a miracle to beat the Patriots. *sigh*

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 02:17 PM


Err, NO!

Everyone knows The Creator hates the Redskins.

Actually, I think The Lord prefers Golf. How else to explain the popularity of a sport that takes up more United States real estate than Rhode Island? (I say this as a hacker.)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 2:26 PM

"Parents are unreligious. Child comes to you one day announcing that s/he has embraced a (conventional) religion and wants you to join his/her faith-based acitivities, including attending regular services, saying grace, etc."

I would tell the child that she can participate if (s)he wants, and I facilitate as much as possible, by driving to church and church activities, but that I won't actively participate in something in which I don't believe.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 2:29 PM

Hi Mehitabel, This is easy to me.

1. Under Freshman in HS-you're going

2.Under Freshman- ignore and you're going-
Over freshman, keep tabs on situation, pray, stumble along

3.n/a

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 2:31 PM

Emily, would you prohibit your child from insisting that the family say grace at meals (both at home and in public)? How would you handle his/her proselytizing you and your husband (including threats that you won't be saved unless you join)?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 2:31 PM

pATRICK, what if an unreligious good friend told you that s/he was faced with situation #3? What do you think that parent should do, consistent with his/her values?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 2:34 PM

"Hi Mehitabel, This is easy to me.

1. Under Freshman in HS-you're going

2.Under Freshman- ignore and you're going-
Over freshman, keep tabs on situation, pray, stumble along

3.n/a"


What would your WIFE do?

How do you enforce "you're going"?

Posted by: chittybangbang | October 23, 2007 2:35 PM

1. Parents are religious. Child announces that s/he no longer believes in any religion and refuses to participate in family religious-based activities like attending regular services, saying grace, etc.

Depends on the age. The under 10 side, I would stock it up to childish testing. I would say you still have to go to church because I won't pay for a sitter. But they could take a quiet activity and sit still in the service. As far as grace, they also must remain silent during it but they don't have to participate. I would also say it is fine to not want to be Christian but that means no Easter or Christmas presents this year. Probably would bring them around. For an older child, I would respect their wishes and let them know they do not have to participate but they must not get in the way of us participating. They are welcome to stay home from church and not say grace. I would tell them to explore what they do believe and I would be happy to help with their spiritual journey.
2. Parents are religious. Child announces that s/he now believes in a different religion, refuses to participate in your family's religious-based activities, and wants you to join his/her faith.

Depends on the age. For a younger child (under 10) I think it is just exploration. So you allow them to explore different religions. Maybe have them go to another form of worship service with a friend. Or get invited to a religious dinner. I specifically remember going home to my parents and asking them if I could be Jewish when I heard they had 8 nights of Hanukkah. Little did I know that a few of those nights were the socks and underwear type gifts.:) For an older child, I would do my best to support them on their mature spiritual journey. I would always tell them that we (the parents and siblings if you have them) are Christian but we appreciate people of other faiths. I would want to learn about my child's new interest. If it was an adult child, then I would especially want to learn about it because they might be raising my grand child in that faith.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 2:36 PM

catwhowalked - woo hoo, we both love the redskins! And yes, I'll pray for the Redskins...

I forgot those lyrics...stay and pray for the Redskins...help me out Songster!

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 2:36 PM

Emily, would you prohibit your child from insisting that the family say grace at meals (both at home and in public)?

I would not keep the child from saying grace if she wanted to say it. I think it would be up to each person whether to join in or not. I don't see anything wrong for allowing a minute to be grateful for a meal, even if you aren't religious.

How would you handle his/her proselytizing you and your husband (including threats that you won't be saved unless you join)?

I would say something to the effect of, "Sweetie, I'm glad that you have found your faith. I respect it, and you are free to follow it. But don't push it on me or anyone else. Pressing the issue won't change my mind. Learn to respect that people are different and think differently..." After that, I would ignore any pressure until it went away.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 2:37 PM

I was raised in the HRCC and I always found it odd that a faith that had so much reverence for a woman (Jesus' mother, Mary) did not allow women to have full role in the Church.

I do remember how the women in my parish were sharks. My mom was one of the lead sharks until another started a nasty rumor about my sister that eventually led to my mom slapping another woman after Mass one Sunday and father leaving the Knights of Columbus.

I don't really care about churches, organized religions....or the Knights of Columbus.

A minister who is a mom....I think that's pretty cool! Her church should have seen it as a blessing.

Posted by: dandemain | October 23, 2007 2:37 PM

Moxiemom: nah, it's religious school, one day a week, Sunday AM - 3 1/4 hours that one day, when he goes 2 days a week, they will add wed. for 2 hours. He's in kindergarten, and that's when they start 'formal' education - before that has been informal stuff some sunday AMs and Friday nights.

I was just saying how my friends paid $150/month for preschool at a church (subsidized by the church) while I was paying almost $500 for the same number of days (okay, so I was also paying for food....)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 2:38 PM

Well, I am biased but have had some experience. I think this is a very difficult situation because the parents will knowingly or unknowingly try to sabatoge this, because THEY don't believe in it. Ideally, the parents would let the child develop but forcing others to say grace etc. is wrong. So, I would say not interfere and that is probably the best anyone could hope for.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 2:39 PM

catwhowalked - woo hoo, we both love the redskins! And yes, I'll pray for the Redskins...

I forgot those lyrics...stay and pray for the Redskins...help me out Songster!

Posted by: dotted_1 | October 23, 2007 02:36 PM

Just goes to show every one has some common ground I guess....I keep hearing about how we should be a good match for them. I don't think anyone else agrees, since NE is a 16 point favorite. :-(

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 2:42 PM

" My mom was one of the lead sharks until another started a nasty rumor about my sister that eventually led to my mom slapping another woman after Mass one Sunday "

Well that certainly would put a damper on the church picnic...................

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 2:42 PM

mehitabel, for #3: if child is high-school age or older, support his/her going; allow but don't require saying of grace in home; not participate themselves.

Our parents never really went to church much when we were growing up after the kids had made first communion in the Catholic church. (Mom was nominally Catholic, Dad was nominally a Southern Methodist). In 9th grade, my sister started attending the Catholic church across the street from our house and wanted all of us to attend. What I described above is what our parents did.

(I didn't start going back to church regularly until I was in graduate school.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 23, 2007 2:42 PM

What happened to Gene today? I was looking for him earlier.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 2:45 PM

MEHITABEL, #3, What I hope woudn't happen is what happened to me. "That's stupid, that's a waste of time, laugh,etc." That robbed me of 15 years of faith.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 2:46 PM

One more: Your spouse/SO converts to another religion, converts your shared children, then demands that you convert too and be remarried in the new faith. In a case I knew personally, the husband refused -- he was the son of a minister, who in fact had married the couple -- so his wife divorced him. Has the converting partner broken a marriage vow by leaving the beliefs the couple agreed upon when they got married? The First Amendment allows freedom of religion, but what are the limits between partners?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 2:46 PM

"Learning to deal graciously with idiots and mean people is a useful skill and what better place to learn than church!"

anne.saunders, may I use this sentence in future conversations, etc.? It is priceless and I absolutely love it! I have had to deal with both sorts, often at church, so this sentence is very appealing to me.

As a life-long Methodist (mother also life-long, dad raised Episcopalian but joined the Methodist church when I joined as a child) I enjoy the weekly worship services because they bring my focus to what is important in my life, and I also enjoy the music and the fellowship.

Another reason why I value being a part of the faith community is that I feel a connection to those who have gone before me--I'm part of a continuum that stretches eons back in time. I am a Methodist, but I am also part of a faith community of Christians, Muslims, and Jews that goes all the way back through several millenia to Abraham, father of these three major world faith communities. It's sort of like being in a great river that flows strongly and purposfully from God, toward God, and I am a water droplet in that great river.

Posted by: lsturt | October 23, 2007 2:47 PM

"1. Parents are religious. Child announces that s/he no longer believes in any religion and refuses to participate in family religious-based activities like attending regular services, saying grace, etc."

As said before - depends on age - being Jewish I'll say 13 would be a good age to say your choice, with the following caveat. For home based activities, politeness still counts. You don't want to say the blessings you still be respectfull when others are saying them and when it is a family celebration, a Passover sedar for example you will have to sit through the religous parts, but you again don't have to otherwise participate.


"2. Parents are religious. Child announces that s/he now believes in a different religion, refuses to participate in your family's religious-based activities, and wants you to join his/her faith."

Same approximate age, same politness counts issue and I would discuss the religion with the child (find out what the appeal is)but I am not changing and the child will have to accept that. Other than that I might help with transportation, etc unless the specific religion was very against my beliefs and then the child would be on their own.

"3. Parents are unreligious. Child comes to you one day announcing that s/he has embraced a (conventional) religion and wants you to join his/her faith-based acitivities, including attending regular services, saying grace, etc."

Again facilitate, possibly observe, but inform the child belief is individual and in since I don't believe I won't participate.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | October 23, 2007 2:50 PM

spouse one: depends how different and if their newly converted religion affects my beliefs. So say DH wants to be a Protestant. I would say no biggie. I would have no problem if he wanted DD to be raised in a protestant faith too. Say he wants to join the church of Satan. I think we would be looking into other options...

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 2:51 PM

ProudPapa: it's funny you say that cause my rabbi at my old synagogue used to say (there's a funny joke about this, too) that we are a baseball synagogue. If you want to get better at your golf game you have to go pray at a golf synagogue...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 2:52 PM

"Your spouse/SO converts to another religion, converts your shared children, then demands that you convert too and be remarried in the new faith."

I can't imagine this happening. If it did, I probably wouldn't be able to recognize my husband anymore, since this way of thinking would be so completely out of character for him. If I saw something like that happening, then I would probably insist on marriage counseling, not to discourage him from pursuing his new faith, or even from introducing it to the kids, but rather to negotiate some kind of peace in terms of my not converting. I would try really hard to get him to respect some boundaries. The way my marriage is now, I can't imagine divorcing over it though. If, for some reason, my conversion was of such tantamount importance to him, as long as the new religion wasn't something completely opposite to my way of thinking or cultural orientation, I might even agree to convert and sit through some church services or whatever it entailed. I would do it for the sake of keeping the family intact, with the caveat of course that the new religion did not involve biting off chicken heads or something like that.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 2:54 PM

Long live Anne Saunders and Emily!

In my "religion," preachers come in all forms and both genders. Thank you both for your wisdom.

Posted by: leslie4 | October 23, 2007 2:57 PM

mehitabel - great discussion. WOuld you please write an OB piece?!! I'd love to commment and read other's thoughts, but the kids are home and thus, I must parent. I'm looking forward to reading the discussion later tonight.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 3:01 PM

lsturt, I'm flattered. But the funny thing is that being part of a faith community has taught me that often those folks who tick me off have something to teach me about myself! pATRICK, have you observed this phenomenon as someone committed to a church?

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 3:01 PM

lsturt, I'm flattered. But the funny thing is that being part of a faith community has taught me that often those folks who tick me off have something to teach me about myself! pATRICK, have you observed this phenomenon as someone committed to a church?

Posted by: anne.saunders | October 23, 2007 03:01 PM

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 3:04 PM

Emily, in the case of the couple where the wife converted herself and the children and then demanded that the husband convert as well, it was a huge leap of conversion -- not just moving from, say, one denomination to another within the same general faith.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:08 PM

Slightly off-topic - anyone here ever seen the BBC show The Vicar of Dilby? Great comedy with Dawn French as a female vicar of a small, bucolic English village.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 11:38 AM

Yes! Sadly it comes on at 11? 11:30 p.m. around here, and I usually can't make it. Unless delightful daughter prods me awake. But it really is a lovely show.

I enjoyed seeing Dawn French in one of the HP movies too (as the Fat Lady).

How about "Waiting for God"? I love that one too.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 3:09 PM

anne.saunders and Catwhowalked, you both make a great point. I will keep this in mind when dealing with the idiots and the mean people. Perhaps, just perhaps, they see me in the same way, and we are both being shaped accordingly. Definitely good food for thought.

I still love that sentence. :)

Posted by: lsturt | October 23, 2007 3:09 PM

"In my "religion," preachers come in all forms and both genders. Thank you both for your wisdom."

When I was in high school, a friend of mine was an acolyte for services. One day, she inadvertantly wore a t-shirt that could be seen under her white acolyte robe. It said, in bold letters, "When God created man, She was only kidding." It gave everyone in the service a pretty good chuckle. Luckily, in the Episcopal church we attended, women had a huge presence, and no one was offended.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:09 PM

actually, i know a jewish couple where she (after kids were raised) started to become more religious - but it wasn't really the deal they had struck when they got married.

So she kashered the kitchen (made it kosher) and he respects that, but he's allowed to bring in any food he wants, as long as he is respectful to her - i.e., eats on paper plates, etc. She started to go to synagogue, walking most of the time (they do live far from it), and doing other things on shabbat, like not use electricity, not watch tv, etc. It works for them - she doesn't impede him watching tv on saturdays - but he is respectful of her and tries to not necessarily do it in a room she's in.

it's very adorable how they've worked it out. Their kids think it's absolutely crazy too - but they deal with it when they visit or when she visits them, etc.

Hey works for them. Of course, it's not the same as if she decided to join the catholic church...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 3:10 PM

mehitabel, in the one case I personally know of where one spouse converted, the family was all Catholic. The husband retired from the Navy, had a great crisis of faith, converted to Orthodox Judaism, and demanded that the rest of the family (wife and two teenagers) also convert. They refused. It ended in divorce because they couldn't find a middle ground.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | October 23, 2007 3:12 PM

Moxie, thank you for the gracious compliment -- even though I worry a tad about receiving flattery from someone whose motto is "lowering the bar for everyone" (LOL!). However, I won't be writing an "On Balance" column because I treasure my privacy far too much to post my real name and where I live.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:13 PM

"Emily and Londonmom - I agree that it is important for children to have an understanding of religion. It has powerful effects on history and culture worldwide, but you don't have to join a church."

I'd start with the book, "Religions of Man". It's a classic.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 3:13 PM

Emily, in the case of the couple where the wife converted herself and the children and then demanded that the husband convert as well, it was a huge leap of conversion -- not just moving from, say, one denomination to another within the same general faith.

Mehitabel, that would be harder, and I gues there is no easy answer. My decision would depend on the stability and strength of the marriage and whether I felt respected in it, as well as whether the new faith was something that I could even remotely relate to. I can relate to a lot of different belief systems, so it might not be such a stretch. Just depends. But the bottom line, I guess, is that if I felt disrespected or disregarded as a person in the marriage, if I felt like my spouse was trying to control me or force me into something, I would probably have to step back and reassess the marriage.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:13 PM

'Religions of Man"

MdMother, I think that was one of my high school texts for religion. If it's the same one, it covers the big religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. I do think that something like that is important. But my son is only 7 right now, so it is probably a little to advanced for him. Any suggestions on materials for younger children?

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:16 PM

ArmyBrat, I'm sure there are instances like this between any two faiths; the example I stated happened to have been between and Episcopalian and a convert to LDS. Re a Catholic becoming Jewish, I know someone who did this after discovering that his family had concealed its hereditary Jewishness, so he felt he was returning to his true origins (don't think he was married yet, however).

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:20 PM

'Religions of Man"

MdMother, I think that was one of my high school texts for religion. If it's the same one, it covers the big religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. I do think that something like that is important. But my son is only 7 right now, so it is probably a little to advanced for him. Any suggestions on materials for younger children?

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 03:16 PM

"The Tao of Pooh" and "The Te of Piglet"? ;-)

I would imagine if you contacted the offices of the local houses of worship (church denominations, synogogues, temples) I would imagine they would have some age-appropriate reading suggestions. I bet they would even put aside some of their "starter kits for the kids" items too. I mean, everyone starts out small and very few religions insist on little kids using BIG BIG WORDS right off the bat. Right?

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 3:25 PM

To Emily and Maryland Mother: Could you get guidance on age-appropriate books at your local public library?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:29 PM

"altmom-just out of curiosity, why are their fewer rabbinical students if there are more opportunities for them. It seems like the opposite of a normal economic trend. There are a lot fewer Catholic priests these days but we all know why and it has nothing to do with empty positions waiting for them to fill."

Posted by: foamgnome | October 23, 2007 12:49 PM

Are there indeed fewer rabbinical students? Maybe the Catholics know something about rabbinical school enrollment that the Jews themselves don't know. Just look at this article by Dennis Coday in the October 3, 2003 issue of the National Catholic Reporter:

"Rabbinical school rolls swell

"NEW YORK -- All three major Jewish denominations have seen an increase in seminary enrollments in the past few years. Student population growth led the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J., to build a $4 million dormitory that is set to open this year, school officials say. Enrollment also is up for rabbinical schools at Yeshiva University, Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College--among the most important schools in America for traditional Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis, respectively.

"Seminary officials and students say several factors are responsible for the increase, including better recruitment, expanded job possibilities and enhanced interest in Judaism among American adults. 'There's a greater sense of Jewish identity, commitment to Jewish knowledge and desire to commit yourself to work for the benefit of the Jewish people,' said Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive director of the Rabbinical Assembly, an association for Conservative rabbis.

"Other observers point to a growing trend among adults to shift careers and work later in life, as well as a sagging job market that is attracting more people to graduate school."
COPYRIGHT 2003 National Catholic Reporter

It is also possible that the rise in enrollment that Mr. Coday saw in 2003 has reversed itself since then. Still, the rabbinical college near Owings Mills, Maryland, has about 200 students learning to become rabbis (and zero students learning to become rabbettes).

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | October 23, 2007 3:29 PM

Could you get guidance on age-appropriate books at your local public library?

Posted by: mehitabel

(sound of hand slapping head)

Of course! Geez, where ARE my brains today?

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 3:30 PM

Matt, what's a "rabbette"?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:31 PM

To Emily and Maryland Mother: Could you get guidance on age-appropriate books at your local public library?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 03:29 PM

Actually, let me tweak that. The only books available at MY local library would be almost entirely of the Christian variety, with a few touching on Judaism, as a sop.

Sikh? Not bloody likely! I'd have to go to another county entirely.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 3:32 PM

"To Emily and Maryland Mother: Could you get guidance on age-appropriate books at your local public library?"

Mehitabel, with all due respect, the answer is no. I will get it here, if MdMother (or anyone else) chooses to give it. It's mostly on topic (and at least not further from the topic than your questions). So if you don't want to read the discussions on books, skip them.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:32 PM

lsturt, I'm flattered. But the funny thing is that being part of a faith community has taught me that often those folks who tick me off have something to teach me about myself! pATRICK, have you observed this phenomenon as someone committed to a church.

Yes and that's my point. Sitting at home by yourself does NOTHING to help you grow spiritually. You must be exposed to people and different points of view. HMM kind of like the stuff I subject myself here ;).....

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 3:32 PM

Maryland Mother, I'm sure you have many more serious responsibilities on your mind today. No harm, no foul.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:33 PM

Oh. Oops. Mehitabel. I'm sorry. I think I ready your question incorrectly, and if so, I sincerely apologize. Truly, I thought you were chiding us for the discussion.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:34 PM

Maryland Mother, I was thinking more along the lines of your local public library having an age-appropriate book with descriptions of several different religions.

Emily, I offered my suggestion in the spirit of being constructive.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:37 PM

Yes. Mehitabel. I was being unnecessarily defensive, and completely misread your question. Really, I am very sorry.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:38 PM

Emily, I wasn't at all trying to squelch your discussion with Maryland Mother -- quite the opposite, trying to add to it. In fact, maybe other chatters know books they can suggest which might provide children with a survey of world religions, as appropriate to the reader's age and intellectual development. I was hoping maybe Marian (who used to post here) or another professional librarian might chime in. Emily, let's go to the virtual café for some flan for tea today, OK?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:40 PM

You are on, Mehitabel. This time, the tea and flan are my treat. :)

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 3:42 PM

mmm....flan...

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 3:42 PM

«I once saw a homeless man wander into a Yule celebration and eat from the potluck. Organizers noted the stranger, but took no actions to discourage him.»
«Posted by: sue | October 23, 2007 02:15 PM»

A Yule celebration, homeless are welcome. A Yale celebration, would it be different if a homeless man, he wanders into a Yale celebration with the Bushes and the Clintons and Justice Alito and Justice Thomas and Anita Hill and John Kerry? Yale Student Pagan Organization, does it celebrate Yule at Yale?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | October 23, 2007 3:45 PM

Free flan -- it's definitely a good day!

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:45 PM

Since-

A) Leslie has acknowledged this is the punchy time of day; and;
B) We are talking about church today

...I have to confess something.

I have a thing for Valerie Plame.

There. I said it. I feel cleansed.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 3:49 PM

Actually, let me tweak that. The only books available at MY local library would be almost entirely of the Christian variety, with a few touching on Judaism, as a sop.

Sikh? Not bloody likely! I'd have to go to another county entirely.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 03:32 PM


You can request books via interlibrary loan (ILL).

Posted by: rockvillemom | October 23, 2007 3:50 PM

ProudPapa: Re Valerie (Plame) Wilson, are you listening to "Fresh Air" right now, too?

Rockvillemom: Inter Library Loan is a brilliant idea -- wish I'd thought to mention it first. Maybe Emily will treat you to virtual flan, too! BTW, the best part of virtual flan is no calories :-)))

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:52 PM

Speaking of Inter Library Loan, you can search library book availability at:
http://www.worldcatlibraries.org

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:54 PM

You can request books via interlibrary loan (ILL).

Posted by: rockvillemom | October 23, 2007 03:50 PM

Yes, but between counties? Trust me, my county is umm...how shall I put this...just entering the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

I have to tell you, I feel very, very weird where I live. It's very...homogeneous, shall we say.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 3:55 PM

Okay, I admit it, my stats are due to my friend who applied to rabbinical school somewhere in the mid 90s. Perhaps synagogues and schools have chided the rabbinical schools for not admitting more students, and therefore they are now admitting more? IT's only good news for Judaism, if all those people who are qualified attend school, since, for one thing, that means that my synagogue would have more rabbis to choose from when hiring someone new.

Rabbinical school is also at least 5 years long, so it takes a while for all those students to get through...(oh, this is typically after a 4 year degree - it's like med school! and you get just as many loans...)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 3:55 PM

Hey! I did my thesis project in graduate school on interlibrary loan! Way back before email was really prevalent. Trying to shorten the time between when someone requested a book and when they got it - analyzing the stats about how many people you *really* needed to accomplish this goal. Cool to me, probably for the rest of you, not so much.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 3:57 PM

Maryland Mother, depending on your library, you may be able to access books from all over the nation via ILL. It can't hurt to ask! (Or check their website).

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 3:57 PM

atlmom, I use ILL a lot in my research, to obtain books that could be tactfully be described as obscure ;-)

You can check book availability ahead of time at:
http://www.worldcatlibraries.org

BTW, atlmom, how's your water situation in Atlanta these days? The news reports have painted a really dire picture. How's your au pair coping with it? Don't suppose they have droughts in Rio, huh?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 4:02 PM

maryland_mom,

I think you should be able to get almost anything from any public library in the state of Maryland through your local branch.

Here's the page about ILL from Mo Co Libraries.

http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/libtmpl.asp?url=/content/libraries/ill/interlibraryloan.asp

Posted by: rockvillemom | October 23, 2007 4:02 PM

Mehitabel, she's all over today.

She was was on Ed Schultz this morning as well.

Watch this everybody:

AIR AMERICA!!!!!

(pATRICK just flew into a rage) ;-)

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 4:07 PM

WaPo just ate my earlier post.

I'll be wandering into my local branch this Saturday. As my hair is now purple, this will be amusing.

Can't contribute flan to the virtual dessert tray, so how about raspberry cordials, and sponge candy?

Any takers?

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 4:10 PM

Hmm, maybe it was my earlier mention of irish creme cordials that WaPo didn't like.

How about dark espresso truffles? It was a wrench, sharing those this past weekend.

But I'll definitely be exploring the ILL possibilities. Thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by: maryland_mother | October 23, 2007 4:12 PM

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 04:07 PM

Frankly PP, the whole thing was a snoozer of a scandal, now sperm on a young woman's dress and cigars in privates, now that is a real scandal.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 4:14 PM

What is sponge candy? Is it as tasty as it sounds?

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 4:14 PM

pATRICK, I think Mme Sarkozy divorcing Nicolas would qualify as a REAL scandal!

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 4:19 PM

Hey pATRICK, here's a few scandals to chew on, lets see how they tip on your scandal-ometer:

http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/01/18/scandal/index.html

I will confess though that article is out of date. Though there are 34 separate scandals, it only covers the first 4 years of Bu$hco.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 4:21 PM

Thanks for asking, mehitabel. Really, nothing has changed much in my house. We don't water outside AT ALL and that's all they are really curtailing (snitch on your neighbor! They could pay a really big fine!). Otherwise, it's not exactly as dire as they say - basically, there's water in a lake here, the governor (state govt) has always wanted it to stay in GA - but they send the water to Alabama and Florida all the time - but the lake is technically owned by the feds.

The state hates that they send water away, so they see a reason to make a stink about it now. But really - in the last *15* years, with all the growth in Atlanta and Georgia *NOT ONE* new lake has been built (all lakes down south are man made). So really - it's no wonder we're in this mess - we keep growing and growing and no one thinks that maybe we need more mass transit, more water, more infrastructure - the city govts just want to collect the increased taxes.

Think I'm getting a little fed up?

I'm not sure my au pair is very aware of the situation.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 4:21 PM

I will take the virtual sponge candy, and truffles, and anything else sweet anyone wants to send my way. I have not had a real dessert in 5 weeks now. So virtual is better than nothing, and the truffles sound delish.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 4:22 PM

PP, they still don't hold a candle to the sleazemasters-the Clintons. When you want a scandal Bubba Clinton is your man.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 4:24 PM

I will bring the tiramisu. mmmmm

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 4:25 PM

How are you feeling, Emily? When are you do? Have you heard from Irishgirl lately?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 4:26 PM

btw, If Hillary wins, wonder what she will think of every time she passes by that side room off the oval office, where clinton enjoyed his "stress reliever" from Monica.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 4:26 PM

pATRICK, Don't forget Nixon and Watergate, the scandal that made WaPo a national newspaper and "-gate" a universal suffix. Now THERE was a scandal!

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 4:28 PM

Oops! And Londonmom, too, if you're still online this late GMT.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 4:29 PM

Emily: no dessert? the horror. I had an ice cream sundae almost every day with my second pregnancy. Of course, I also had an undiagnosed UTI for many months during that pregnancy - so the sugar was apparently just feeding it...(hence, my cravings)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 4:31 PM

pATRICK, Don't forget Nixon and Watergate, the scandal that made WaPo a national newspaper and "-gate" a universal suffix. Now THERE was a scandal!

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 04:28 PM

Yep, the granddaddy of all scandals. But for style points, you can't beat Bill Clinton

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 4:31 PM

Teapot Dome, anyone?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 4:35 PM

How are you feeling, Emily? When are you do? Have you heard from Irishgirl lately?

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 04:26 PM

I'm feeling great, Mehitabel. A little uncomfortable, and missing dessert and sweets, but so far healthy and excited about what is to come. I have not heard from Scarry, but I remember she was waiting for labor about a week ago, so she may be in the thick of things right now.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 4:44 PM

Yep, the granddaddy of all scandals. But for style points, you can't beat Bill Clinton

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 04:31 PM

Oh, I tend to think that years of war based on bad intelligence (DowningStreet and Yellowcake Niger, etc), lost/injured soldiers, $800bn, rollback of habeas corpus, AbuGhraib, Gitmo, Warrantless Wiretapping...... Yeah, I think your boy has the style points locked up.

Yeah Clinton had an affair and lied about it. Stylistic, but not Kennedy-esque. And no where near the "style" of GWB.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 23, 2007 4:57 PM

Scandal? Clinton at least never started a war he didn't finish. To my count Bush has two to his account, one justified, one not. George Jr will go down in history as one of the worst Presidents this country has ever had, but in his mind he'll feel he did everything right.

RE: religions.

I have attended Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, Church of God and Catholic services during my life, and liked the first one the best, but my spirituality doesn't come from any organized scripture. It's an amalgam of all the above, plus a little of some other religions, including both Hindu and Muslim.

My wife, OTOH, was raised Southern Baptist and is adamantly anti-organized religion, after witnessing the hypocrisy of her church parish for years. About the only religious organization she'd even consider attending would be the Unitarian, and only after thinking long and hard about it first. Both of us distrust how politicized and secular organized religions have become; I think the earlier post about how religions are now more about the church than the Church was dead on, and we take note of that.

Posted by: jlnsford | October 23, 2007 5:05 PM

George Jr will go down in history as one of the worst Presidents this country has ever had, but in his mind he'll feel he did everything right.


Actually, Jimma Carter was the worst president and to see his repudiated, miserable self trotting around is ridiculous. A one term president who lost by 49 states in his reelection bid. PP, those are policy decisions and history will be the judge, sticking cigars up young girls privates and getting Bj'S in the white house are the definition of scandal.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 5:10 PM

About 4000 Americans have died in a war that we were mislead into by the Bushies. Not to mention all the maimed soldiers who survived. Not to mention the myriad Iraquis, including women and children, who have been slaughtered and displaced by the war, and their own civil war which resulted from America's invasion. If you don't consider that scandalous, and think that a stupid affair between consenting adults is worse than the loss of all those thousands of lives, then really, there is not much anyone can say to you to knock some sense into that thick head of yours.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 5:23 PM

Patrick, you are such an ideal partisan.

Posted by: LizaBean | October 23, 2007 5:32 PM

Emily as ususal gets it wrong. ALL the major intelligence services thought SADDAM had weapons. The major slaughter of civilians has been by OTHER iraqis and AL Qaeda. You have a breathtaking ablity to excuse every atrocity by anyone and blame the US. You and your kind are perfectly content letting SADDAM kill his own people,invade his neighbors and build WMD at his leisure. But the US gets involved and you develop crocodile tears for shiite death squads and sunni killers. Typical that Clinton's total lack of personal integrity fails to bother you in the least.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 5:43 PM

I suspect a doctoral dissertation -- or at least a salacious best-seller -- could be written on all the alleged extra-marital activities by various (P)residents of the White House. I even seem to recall a 19th-century bachelor with a gentleman friend...

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 5:46 PM

Geez,

Neither Democrats nor Republicans can say there've been no extramarital affairs on their side of the line in the White House. Pointing fingers at Clinton is convenient because he was the latest one, but that's just being deliberately ignorant of history.

And I'll take Carter's handwringing and impotence over Bush's reckless warmongering vs two (and probably 3) countries any day.

BTW Patrick, I am a Republican who is thoroughly disgusted with the way my party has been co-opted by the far right wing; I've voted for a Republican President since Reagan's first run, until Bush Jr. began to run.

BTW2, Bush was determined to depose Hussein long before 9/11; funny how so many partisans have conveniently forgotten that. The "findings" by the CIA on Iraq were approved by Cheney prior to being released and they did couch their comments that he "might" still have WMD's, that he "might" be able to reconstitute his nuclear program, etc, etc. It was Cheney who turned those "mights" and "may"s and turned them into "definitely has" and "will".

So, you've either got a President mislead by his Cabinet (making him incompetent), or blind to the objections and findings, making him a warmonger. Either way he's a sad excuse for our nation's leader.

Posted by: jlnsford | October 23, 2007 6:20 PM

BTW Patrick, I am a Republican who is thoroughly disgusted with the way my party has been co-opted by the far right wing; I've voted for a Republican President since Reagan's first run, until Bush Jr. began to run.

I Don't believe you, sorry.

Posted by: pATRICK | October 23, 2007 6:32 PM

LOL, Patrick. YOu are just like the Bushies. You refuse to believe what is factual, because the facts don't line up with your preconceived notions. If it weren't so sad, it would be funny.

Posted by: Emily | October 23, 2007 6:47 PM

I spend my Sundays volunteering either at a food pantry or servicing food at a shelter.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | October 23, 2007 07:13 AM

well that brings us full-circle on disbelief, because I don't believe Catwhowalkedwhoeversheis spends her Sunday mornings at a food pantry or shelter. People who have a commitment to the poor tend to (a) not use their commitment as a credential for bashing the choice of others to attend religious services, and (b) if they can make a regular once-per- week commitment, they commit it to a single organization and give it their all. Just sayin'.

Posted by: mn.188 | October 23, 2007 6:53 PM

Moxie, thank you for the gracious compliment -- even though I worry a tad about receiving flattery from someone whose motto is "lowering the bar for everyone" (LOL!). However, I won't be writing an "On Balance" column because I treasure my privacy far too much to post my real name and where I live.

Posted by: mehitabel | October 23, 2007 03:13 PM

I guess that does damage my "cred" a little doesn't it. Thanks for making me chuckle. I really would like an entry from you. You have a keen ability to create thoughtful discussions. I believe you can do an entry anonymously, check with Leslie. I'm going to get a Mehitable for OB '07 bumper sticker! Think about it - I'm enjoying thinking about balancing different religious beliefs w/in a family.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | October 23, 2007 7:22 PM

In case anyone's listening:

Yes, Carter was one of the worst presidents we have EVER had. One of the reasons we are in the mess we're in is because of HIM. During his presidency was the beginning of appeasing the terrorists. They only got more bold after that (um, why did they release the hostages when Reagan took office? think about that one).

Here in Atlanta, there is a professor at Emory that is SO PISSED at Carter's newest book - he has seminars often (I saw part of one) dissecting Carter's book almost word by word. Oh, yeah, he WAS a fellow at the carter institute til he resigned last summer. He has known Carter for 20-30 years and now he can't say enough about the lies that Carter is telling.

Carter basically never met a dictator he didn't love. Oh, yeah, he has a nobel peace prize - yeah, great company he's in - yassir arafat won one, I believe.

CLINTON gave Bush some of the intelligence, and part of the CLINTON administration's ideas were to depose Hussein. Is it okay for Hussein to murder 10s of thousands of his own people, but yet it's horrible when the US comes in and fewer people die every day? No war is great - but if we keep doing nothing, MORE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FLY PLANES INTO BUILDINGS.

No, I am not a republican (voted for clinton twice, actually), not a democrat either. They both suck (I'm more of a libertarian, actually), but I will not vote for anyone who is against the war. We need to keep at it. We can't just walk away, then MORE PEOPLE WILL FLY PLANES INTO BUILDINGS OR BRING NUCLEAR WEAPONS INTO OUR COUNTRY. Do you doubt that????

I think in 10, 20 whenever years, we will all see how Bush was courageous. Does anyone REALLY believe that he doesn't have the best interest of this country at heart? I would think, as the POTUS, he has a little bit more information about what's going on than the rest of us (but knowing what Israel's gone through the last 50 years, I would say, offhand, that the muslims aren't the best negotiators - basically- they want you all dead - there is no tolerance, there is no appeasement, there is no living side by side). I could not even think that bush doesn't have the best interest of all those soldiers in harm's way.

I mean, really? what kind of world do you live in? What COULD his motivation be? think about that. His motivation COULD ONLY BE that he wants to protect the US.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | October 23, 2007 8:57 PM

Wow, though pATRICK may be partisan, you get the feeling that he is at least well-informed but chooses to ignore the facts.

The comment just above this one is filled with such uninformed drivel as to be horrifyingly sad.

Jimmy Carter is responsible for where we are today??? In 10,20 years we will see Bush as courageous? More people will fly planes into buildings if we leave Iraq? God, it's just chockfull of ridiculous.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | October 26, 2007 10:10 AM

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