Patriarchy Talk

I am following a long discussion on Facebook about Patriarchy in families as supposedly taught in the bible. It is refreshing to see the light go on for folks who have lived in homes where the father was head of the home, wives submitted in all things, and children stayed home in obedience until marriages could be arranged. (That is probably an extreme of what I am reading.)

I have to say that it is my generation that has had the task of wiggling out of this way of being in relationship. The fact is that the biggest problems between my husband and I over the years have come because I have tried to exert my power where power was not welcome. Often these were situations where I was better informed or was more gifted than my husband. A whole genre of jokes have emerged, known as male-bashing, that have helped women to maintain a sense of humor when things were difficult.

I find the discussions interesting, but there is one part that disturbs me. The participants often defend  their rightness by quoting the Bible and it never sounds pretty. There is a passage in the Bible that likens the word of God to a sword (Eph. 6:17).  Sword indeed! I wish they would to look less at what someone else says their relationship should look like and open their eyes and see tell the truth about just how they are doing in their relationships. This is what my husband and I had to do. And the truth was, Patriarchy, no matter what color you paint it, was harmful to both of us.

Leveling the Mountains and Valleys

I have been thinking about John the Baptist lately (Bear with me…I get these thoughts all the time). Here is what Luke says about him and his mission: “Someone is shouting in the desert: ‘Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel! Every valley must be filled up, every hill and mountain leveled off. The winding roads must be made straight, and the rough paths made smooth.”

I was taught to understand that this passage is about John opening the way for people to receive Jesus which they do by changing their way of behaving. This morning I was thinking about this in a different light. I was thinking about how when we change our way of thinking and behaving for the better, the barriers that stand between us and others are sometimes  brought down. I have seen this happen over and over again in the world of recovery. People get sober, take on a new attitude, start acting differently, and their relationships start to improve.

Jesus calls us to love even our enemies, to forgive even those who have harmed us. This may not bring down a mountain, but it will bring down our half of a mountain or fill in our side of the valley. It makes the distance we have to go for reconciliation that much shorter.

Sweet and Sour Beans

After sharing my fabulous pie crust yesterday, a cousin of mine asked if there were any recipes that my mother was famous for. You know, the dish that was expected when someone invited her to a pot-luck. My cousin said that her mother, my Aunt Betty, was best known for her home-baked bread. I still remember a particular Christmas cookie made by an aunt we shared, Aunt Gertrude. She always had a variety layed out but the one I loved was a sugar cookie with a dolop of chocolate in the center pressed down by a pecan. I have seen such cookies since, but candy kisses were used for the chocolate dolop, a terrible substitution, terrible.

My mother’s dish-to-pass was sweet and sour green beans or German potatoe salad. I believe she used the same recipe for the sauce for the beans or dressing for the salad. In fact, she frequently made ‘wilted lettuce” with the same dressing. She said anyone who knows how to make a white sauce can make it. I think the fancy chefs would call it a roux. I share the recipe here out of my daughter-in-law’s first recipe book, Love the Kitchen. She didn’t give the credit to my mom. I think she just thought it was mine but it really came from Fran, Aunt Fran, my mother.

Here is the recipe for sweet and sour green beans:

1/2 pound bacon
4 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4  cups apple cicer vinegar, scant
(mom probably used white vinegar)
3 or 4 cans green beans, drained
1/4 cup of the green bean juice from the can or as much as you need to create a thick sauce
(my mom claimed this was the “secret” part of her recipe)

Fry bacon until crispy and remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain the grease leaving about 4 Tbsp. Stirring over a medium heat, gradually add the flour. When this is thoughly blended, add the sugar, vinegar and bean juice. Bring to a low simmer until the sauce thickens. Add the green beans – I like to mix some into the beans and add a few on the top when I am ready to serve it.

As I wrote this out, I found myself making changes. I suspect that I may have dictated it to Wendy over the phone as she was putting the book together. I tried to be more specific here.

Wendy’s books can be found at – resources.


Rejecting the Negative Influences in our Culture

This morning, Eileen Flanagan, author of The Wisdom to Know the Difference  talks about choices she made concerning media. I can really relate – I have found myself caught up in the culture of anger and fear that permeates the media today. She writes: “There are many negative messages in our culture, and although it may be impossible avoid them altogether, we can consciously choose what we want to feed our minds. Although I haven’t given up the news habit completely, I do try to avoid programs that get their ratings by fueling fear.”

A few years ago, I was doing a project with a friend of mine that I rarely get to see but when we get together, it is pure joy. She started telling me about her fears of the Muslim people who come into her workplace. She said “they” are out to destroy our American way of life. I was stunned. Could she not see that these were mothers and fathers and grandparents like the people in our own families? When I challenged her she said, “Don’t you watch Fox news?” That helped me to understand where she was coming from. I put my hand on her arm and said, “I hate to see you so afraid.” She pulled back slightly and said, “We shouldn’t talk about politics. Let’s talk about something else.”

This same friend told me once that she believes that TV and movies impact people’s behaviors even after they get into their adult years. She was talking about selfishness in marriage and how people are influenced by the example of movie stars dysfunctional lives and movies and TV shows that give a false view of what it means to have a relationship with someone. I agreed with her wholeheartedly when she said it, but she didn’t seem to see that this very thing was happening to her as she watched news programs that “get their ratings by fueling fear.”

Flanagan goes on to say, “At a certain point we have to reject the culture of fear, recognizing that social conditioning is not just something that happens to us when we are young; it happens continually. Likewise, I try to limit my exposure to magazines or ads that portray all women as skinny teenagers, knowing they don’t do much for my love of my own body. I try not to focus on anything that is deliberately trying to mess with my serenity.”

When I was a teen I didn’t know what a name brand was. I had a sense of fashion because I could see what the other teens were wearing, but the ads on TV at that time consisted of women standing next to their refrigerators or holding up the detergent and showing how clean it made their clothes. But advertisers, with the dawn of Sesame Street, realized they could get to parents’ pocket books by going directly to children. That opened the flood gates to the ads we see now for toys and sugar-laced junk foods.

We don’t have to be victims. We can choose to avoid those things that can influence us negatively. I have chosen not to fear just as I have chosen not to be swayed by the hard sell. I want to know what is going on in the world so that I can make wise decisions, but fear…I refuse to let that in my life any more

Mother’s Day – Charlie and the Camera

Rainy but the temperatures are comfy. I wonder if we will see real heat this summer. I am not fond of hot days. Once it hits 80, it has gone too far. But I do like it when the lake’s water becomes comfortable for the children – better than blue legs.

The hummingbirds have returned along with the orioles. Yesterday, Mother’s Day, we sat outside, my daughter Heidi and I, watching the kids enjoy the woods. Twelve-year-old Charlie was let loose with her camera and he took some amazing nature pictures. She reminded me of the cameraman after whom he was named…my dad. It warmed my heart to watch him and his joy over what he’d captured.

As we sat at a supper of bbq ribs and Bernie’s homemade potato salad, I used the word “preteen” for Charlie. He said that he had no intention of becoming a teenager. At first I thought this rather strange for him to say. But then I realized that he was saying that he has no intention of becoming one of those people who act like teens are known to act. I thought about some of the physical changes we can  expect to see in him in the next few years. Can’t avoid that, Charlie. But if you can have enough consciousness to be aware of emotions and thoughts and not react as teens often do to peers and adults in their lives…well, I am for that.

As for me, I was never able to leap a stage of development no matter how conscious I thought I was.  But I love Charlie for saying it.

The Little Fly and the Fly Bullies

Here is another story dictated to me by a grandchild. Zech is 4 years old.

By Zechariah Jeub, November, 2013

They thought he was a chick but he was a fly. And they saw some robbers and they said, “Hey, Robbers! Steal his money.” But they decided to not be mean to him. The bullies decided to be bullies to the robbers. And the little fly and they were bully flies. And they wanted to just lay on him forever.

So they said to the fly, “We will shoot you to death with a freeze gun then you will be freezed to death.” And so they go to a restaurant instead. And he saw a person and the person be’d nice to the fly.

And then they ate together. And then they were done eating. And then they go’d out and played together on the play ground.

And then they left with the little fly. And they saw the bullies trying to look for him. And the boy hit the bully flies with the fly swatter.

And they be nice to each other forever and ever.

The End

Aunt Mary’s Book of Jesus

When I was a little girl, I used to visit Great Aunt Mary. She was my maternal grandmother’s sister and lived in the apartment above my Aunt Alice and her family in a two-flat in Chicago. She was old and eccentric and her health wasn’t the best. Sitting at her table nibbling on cookies she would jabber about what – I don’t remember – and then doze. The doze I do remember. In the middle of a sentence, her head would droop and she would slip in to a soft snore that would last a couple of minutes or more. That left me with not much to do except to keep nibbling and looking around the room. One day I thought to use this down time to snoop. In her bedroom I came across a book, small, black, the pages were edged in gold. A red ribbon was attached and served as a book mark. On the cover were the words, “The Childhood of Jesus”. I picked it up and took it back to the table. Aunt Mary was still sleeping.

I found that the pages contained stories of Jesus that I had never seen before. In the bible, we read about his birth in Bethlehem, then it jumps forward to a scene at age twelve when he was left behind by his parents in Jerusalem. The next time we see Jesus in the bible he is ready to settle into his career as preacher and savior of the world. About those in between years there is nothing known, or so I thought, until that day at Aunt Mary’s kitchen.

It might shock people to know that stories were written about Jesus that weren’t chosen to be part of the Bible. Browsing in a used bookstore recently, I came upon a book The Lost Books of the Bible. It is a collection of non-biblical texts that have been around for anyone to read, but not treasured as the stories in the bible.  I opened the book to find “The Gospel of the Birth of Mary” and found this to be the very story I had read in Aunt Mary’s little book years ago.

Since then, I have been investigating other writings, some are archeological finds of the last century. A few have been around for years but not translated until recently. It is fascinating to me to read other people’s memories of Jesus besides those recorded in the Bible.

I can’t help but wonder how it was that Aunt Mary had this little book.