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Archive for the ‘Society and Culture’ Category

Rarely, if ever, will my readers see me post about political issues. I don’t consider myself interested and informed enough to write intelligently about politics (and I try not to absorb too much information on political topics because I already take blood pressure medication).

But this morning I looked at my bill from the hospital for the little scare I had last month. Thanks to the health insurance I get through my employer, I only owe $100 for a visit to the emergency room, an overnight stay, and a stress test. But the total cost for which they’re billing my insurer is over four thousand dollars.

The combination of relief at owing so little and horror that an uninsured person would owe so much felt a lot like nausea. It is a grave injustice that our health care system in the United States allows some people to profit by the misfortunes of others, turns away people who need care because they have no insurance, includes some and excludes others. Rather than ranting and raving incoherently about my feelings on this issue, let me just repeat: It is a grave injustice.

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Since I quoted Fred Clark’s Contemporary American Version of a story from the Gospel of Luke, I feel I should also share his comments on the New Revised Standard Version translation and what it says about some very current issues:

Let me quote the actual words of Luke 8:40-48, this time from the New Revised Standard Version:

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him.

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.

Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?”

When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.”

When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

This is a story from the Bible about a woman.

This is a story from the Bible about a woman who could not afford health care.

This is a story from the Bible about a woman who could not afford reproductive health care.

This is a story from the Bible about a woman who broke religious rules because she could not afford reproductive health care.

This is a story from the Bible that tells us how Jesus responds to a woman who broke religious rules because she could not afford reproductive health care.

The Gospel of the Lord.

So if some Christian official, authority, scholar, author, activist, advocate, politico, pundit, pastor, priest, bishop, cardinal or pope tries to tell you that religious rules trump women’s need for reproductive health care, ask them about this story. Remind them of it.

Remind them that Jesus rather explicitly showed us otherwise.

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Luke 8:40-48 (Contemporary American Version)

But as he went the people thronged him.

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

And Jesus said, “Who taxed me?”

When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, “Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who taxed me?”

And Jesus said, “Somebody hath taxed me: for I perceive that mine religious liberty hath been threatened.”

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.

And he said unto her, “Unclean slut, get thee hence, for thine womanly impurity hath constrained my religious liberty.”

Courtesy of The Slacktivist.

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— For the 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and those who killed them

— For more than 50,000 people killed in Afghanistan since 9/11

— For more than 2,000,000 people killed in Iraq since 9/11

— For the persecuted Christians in Iraq

— For the persecuted Muslims in America

— For an end to this senseless slaughter.

Voice in the Wilderness: Let Us Pray.

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I’d like to be able to wake up to classical music instead of NPR news, but unfortunately, we’re not able to tune in to our (weak, lame, and generally stupid) classical public radio station in the bedroom. So while I was lying in bed the other day trying to straighten out my aching knee and think of a reason to get up, I heard a story about teenagers texting while driving.

The thing that disturbed me was not the idea that inexperienced young drivers were composing written messages while behind the wheel, instead of being 100% attentive to the road. I am already completely cynical about drivers, drivers’ disregard for pedestrians, the way communities are planned for the benefit of drivers with no consideration for pedestrians at all, etc., etc. I am hypervigilant on the street, at intersections, anticipating the worst. A lot of women, I have read, live in fear of being sexually insulted, sexually assaulted, raped and then disbelieved; I have that kind of fear of being run down and killed, or just maimed (which might be worse) by a careless driving speeding to work while jabbering on his cell phone.

But I digress. No, what really disturbed me was that all the teenagers interviewed in a particular study were horrified at the idea of ever turning off their phones. They reacted to the idea of being cut off from their social network the way a sane and reasonable adult might react to the idea of spending a few hours a day cut off from their air supply. Connected all the time, 24/7, never inaccessible, never alone.

I don’t want to live in the glorious cloud of witnesses and data that techonology pundits assure us is coming. I don’t want to be plugged in without a break, always accessible, always turned on. That’s not a Luddite’s rejection of new technologies (and may I remind my readers that the historical Luddites were protesting the introduction of machines that put them out of work); it’s an introvert’s fear of having every chance at silence and solitude taken away.

I have a cell phone; it’s for making phone calls. I might not own one if I could still rely on the presence of public phones, but at least in my region, the public phone has all but disappeared. I prefer not to ignore the people around me, whether known or strangers, in favor of somebody somewhere else, at the other end of a wireless connection. I don’t carry an iPod or any other mp3 player; I have an enormous amount of music stored in my head, and I depend heavily on auditory cues when I’m walking. If I have my ears plugged up, I might miss that birdcall I’ve never heard before and not look for the bird that makes it, or not hear that car coming that’s not going to slow down for the yellow light but rather speed through. If someone near plays music I can overhear and I don’t like it, I can hum or sing something to distract myself; I don’t need to play Duelling Earbuds with someone.

I won’t give up my books for a Kindle or my Moleskine notebook for a netbook. I don’t want to be that dependent on electricity, on wireless, on connections I can’t control. We recently spent four days at work without internet, local networking, or phone because our network went down. Our central hall, usually bustling with computer users, was empty as a wasteland. Yet one of the older librarians was able to look up subject headings in a book and tell me what call number and what department to search for books on Mt. Everest. Pen, notebook, and printed matter are sturdy, reliable technologies that run mostly on solar power, and best of all, I can close them up and put them away when I want to be intimate with someone or be silent and by myself.

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via YouTube – A 2.5 Year-Old Has A First Encounter with An iPad.

All I can say is, “Wow.”

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Amazon.com: Profile For Anne Rice: Reviews.

I was looking at a recent translation of the Short and Long Texts of the Revelation of Julian of Norwich when I spotted a highly favorable review from an unexpected source: Author Anne Rice, best known for the series of novels that started with Interview with a Vampire.  She calls Fr. John-Julian, OJN’s The Complete Julian of Norwich her favorite book on Julian.

Julian of Norwich and Anne Rice… two great tastes I wasn’t expecting to taste together?  Mother Julian gets around.

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