Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

So far, this Sunday morning has been full of lovely surprises...

... a handful of young men in a corner of the coffee shop playing wistful gypsy-esque violin. Perfect soundtrack for a very grey rainy morning.

... Caitlin's classmate, Kyle, catching a ride across town with us, and telling us all about his Buddhist dad. Sounded pretty familiar. Nice to know that her closest Hebrew school buddy is having such a similar upbringing.

... cleaning out the blog and discovering a post Ben dictated over a year ago, about Manju, our cook in Varanassi:

Dear Friends,

I hope you like this post about Manju. She speaks Hindi so I can't understand her very much but sometimes she speaks English, so I can understand her sort of. She teaches me Hindi, but I don't know why! Her saris are very pretty. She cooks us delicious food!

I'm itching for another trip - DC, New York, Brazil, Goa, Varanassi and Switzerland top the list right now. But the children informed me (on our last road trip) that they do not like to travel and would really rather just stay at home all of the time. (Irony anyone?) So between that very emphatic opinion and a husband who needs to single-minded-ly dissertate for the next month of so, we must stay put. (Counting the days til Seattle though!)

Until then, I'll console my self with pictures of warmer days and sunnier places, and encourage you to do the same. Also, brigadeiros will help! (I met some Brazilian exchange students yesterday who suggested a few excellent tweaks to the recipe linked above - more chocolate, less butter, and eating it all straight out of the pot instead of waiting for it to cool... o YEA.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A deal with the Devil

I find myself at an interesting juncture lately, debating whether or not my family will have anything to do with Liberty University.

In case you don't have to know about such places (and living as I did in the best hippie bubble on the planet, I had no idea what Liberty U was until I moved here), a bit of background. Liberty University is located in Lynchburg, VA, a lovely 45-minute drive from here. Jerry Falwell founded Liberty U in 1971 and today it boasts a total enrollment approaching 60,000. It is a Baptist, Evangelical Christian institution and a bastion of right-wing conservative Christian culture. Students are expected to adhere to something called "The Liberty Way", a code of conduct that dictates a strict dress code and prohibits such sins as swearing, dancing and watching R-rated movies. (Interesting side-note: You cannot access The Liberty Way via the LU website unless you have a campus login and password. What's up with that? But since I am a helper, I found it for you HERE.) Not exactly the kind of place it would ever occur to me to go, even if Jerry Falwell wasn't involved.

And just in case you've been under a rock, refresh your memory about good ol' Jerry HERE. Or just take a look at this:

So. There's pretty much no way on earth I'm ever going to find common ground with anyone who feels like any of the above is a good idea. Is hate too strong a word to use here? Jerry Falwell must be one of the most evil people to have lived. His university is a sickening symbol of so many things that are wrong with our culture. I want no part of it.

But Ben wants to play hockey and Caitlin wants to rock climb. And you can't do either in Lexington.

But Liberty U has an ice rink. And a climbing wall. In a big beautiful facility which welcomes thepublic. The free skate hours are plentiful and a perfect match for our schedules. Same for the climbing. Their facilities are the closest and far and away the best in our area.

And I moved them here, to this dinky little town in the middle of nowhere Jesus-ville, USA. They talk about wanting to go "home" all the time and they mean Madison. They miss it so much - our family and friends, our community, but also all of the opportunities and resources we had there.

So after months of having to tell them that no, we can't do x, y or z here, I have finally discovered an opportunity for them to do two activities they've been yearning for.

But it means going into the belly of the beast. Giving my money to Jerry FREAKIN Falwell's hate machine. Willingly subjecting myself and my children to people who may actively hate us because we are Jewish, Democrat, ACLU members, etc etc etc. I think I'm just an abortion away from being the poster girl for everything "The Liberty Way" is against.

So what to do? There is no logistical or financial reason why skating and climbing at Liberty University can't work for us. Ideology is the only barrier. And is that right? My kids have had to give up so much since we've left Madison, and while they've gained oodles, is it fair to deprive them yet again just because Mommy hates right-wing Christian nut-jobs?

What to do? I think I know what Falwell would do. What would Jesus do? What would you do?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What I Can't Say

Dear Residents of Rockbridge County-

Is your school in danger of being closed? Are your kids' art/music/gym classes going to be cancelled next year? Class sizes ballooning? Is your school going to run without a principal? Is bus service going to be cut? That stinks. Your kids deserve so much better.

But is it really the school board or county supervisors' fault? Who controls education funding around here?

The state legislature.

Did you vote for a Republican? Do you know what their voting record on education funding is? No? Maybe you should check.

"Values" are all well and good, but maybe next time you should check to see if that Christian Republican you're voting for values your kid's education as much as you do.

If you fail to do your research and vote for people who cannot be relied upon to help you and your children, you get what you deserve.

You chose these men and you should've seen this coming. Don't blame the school board, the superintendent or the families who pull their kids from your local schools. We are not the ones who are 'robbing' you of much needed education dollars.

Look to Richmond. Look at voting records. Demand change.

And for God's sake, vote for a Democrat already.

Hippie Jewish Freak Love,