Pro-Human Dignity Revisited

“Those that proclaim themselves to be the sole measure of realities and of truth cannot live peacefully in society with their fellow men and cooperate with them.”

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

The last few weeks have been filled with angry people aligning with pro-choice versus gloating people aligning with pro-choice. I hate both terms. They do little to describe what many of the people in the groups actually want. Pro-life is associated with people that want to end abortion, but many if not most of those people have little use for programs that support women before, during, and after pregnancy. In fact, some propose the death penalty for people that perform abortions or life in prison. Likewise, some people that are pro-choice only mean as it relates to women’s choices about their bodies. They frequently are not in favor of choice about such things as school choice or open carry laws for guns.

It would seem obvious that human life is sacred and that there is inherent dignity in all humans.  However, a quick look at public policy, media, and even individual human actions reveal that it is not at all obvious that life is treated as sacred or that there is inherent dignity in all humans.  One only needs to ask what it means to respect life and a heated debate may ensue with all parties proclaiming to be the sole holder of truth.  Most such discussions never proceed beyond abortion, the death penalty, war, and guns. Recently, I have seen more people add LGBTQ+ as an issue where no one can hear the other and where some brave soles like James Martin, SJ proclaim it to be a life issue and especially in countries where you can be executed for being same-sex relations.

When asked what is human dignity, a frequently provided answer is the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  No, it was not a question about the Declaration of Independence.  Yet, it appears that the representatives that signed the declaration understood human dignity and its foundation in our creation in the likeness of God, in stating, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Why then is this not part of the intellectual reasoning process when discussing these issues among friends, family, and colleagues and in public policy?  And, why for our entire history have we failed to live up to these words in the Declaration of Independence?

As we approach challenges to Roe v. Wade, let us consider life.  Life is a right.  Unfortunately, it is a right that we appear not to value as a society and a right for which we too frequently fail to give meaningful thought.  Here are a few areas where there is significant disagreement, and where life is either not treated as a right, or the issue gets inadequate attention.

  • Abortion
  • Contraception
  • Culture of violence in video games, movies, and music
  • Death penalty
  • Domestic violence
  • Drug, alcohol, and substance use
  • Health care & mental health care- inadequate
  • Homelessness
  • Genocide
  • Guns
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Poverty
  • Sex trafficking
  • Terrorism
  • Torture
  • Violence (rape, hate crimes, child sex abuse, etc.)
  • War

All of these either prevent, end, shorten, or seriously impact life or the quality of life.  There is no public consensus on how to address any of these issues.  Imagine what would be said if there was a gun law passed as restrictive as the Georgia or Missouri abortion laws. Imagine making it a crime to release a person from the hospital when you know they have no home and will be living on the streets. Imagine a 95-year sentence for the health care provider that over-prescribed opioids resulting in addiction and an overdose.

The next time someone asks you if you are pro-life be sure to consider whether life is sacred and whether it is the foundation of your moral vision of society.  We can only protect human dignity and have a healthy community if we protect human rights and fulfill our responsibilities to each other.  We cannot shrug off poverty because it will always exist and ignore our responsibility to the poor and claim to be pro-life.  We cannot justify rape because the vagina was not ripped to shreds or it was “consensual” and claim to be pro-life.  We cannot let our children be murdered or sexually assaulted (or cover up the same in our churches) and claim to be pro-life. We cannot turn a blind eye to sex-trafficking and claim to be pro-life.  We cannot fulfill our responsibility without first recognizing the value of sharing ideas, cooperating to advance policy that supports human dignity, and admitting that no one individual is the sole purveyor of truth.

As some states march toward an essential ban on abortion consider whether abortion is blinding us to all other aspects of life and human dignity and whether a sole focus on protecting the unborn has resulted in public policy that ignores the threats to life that are all around us.  Likewise, consider whether treating abortion as a bad decision made under difficult circumstances would impact our approach to human dignity in other areas.  Advancing the cause of human dignity in public discourse requires us to fulfill our responsibilities and that must begin by listening to other people and hearing those perspectives with an open mind.  Maybe we would be more successful if we became pro-human dignity.


I Want to Walk in Your Shoes

I have had a long career and a wonderful life that I look back on with joy. There are a few exceptions and most of those are the times I could not find it in myself to walk in the other person’s shoes before passing judgment. I excused my behavior as putting the mission before individual needs, including family needs, when in reality it was poor communication and a lack of trust.

As both a staff member and a leader I have been a horrible judge of how much time it takes to do a task. I’m not any better with home repairs. If you ask me how long it will take to paint my home office I imagine I can do it in one day. Having painted many rooms I know I can’t do it in a single day, but none the less my mind tells me I can.

One day our office was preparing a briefing for the White House. As the Assistant Secretary and staff worked on the brief I reminded them how much time we needed to print and collate the required copies. As they passed the last possible minute we could get it printed on time and leave adequate time for them to get in the car and make the trip to the White House I was stressed. A copier doesn’t work faster because the presentation is going to the White House and neither can a person. The Assistant Secretary was so angry that it wasn’t completed when he needed it that he threw his briefcase, but that also didn’t make the copier work any faster. It is a common failing of highly motivated and highly successful people to think the world revolves around their expectations and needs. It doesn’t.

In academia, the stakes are much lower, but the passions are just as high.  How many classes can a faculty member successfully teach and how many papers can be carefully graded in a normal work week? Is it more work to grade a graduate or an undergraduate paper? How many grants can be written and how many papers published? How much time does committee work actually take? How much time does it take to grade the work of a student after a nursing clinical and how early must the faculty member be at the clinical site before the students arrive so everything is ready for a seamless day? How much time is actually spent on research with and without a graduate research assistant?  And then there is all of the unaccounted for time of mentoring, advising, writing letters for jobs for former students, and being active in professional organizations. But work isn’t all that a person must do. My experience is that everyone is working hard and maybe even too hard. It is an American characteristic.

All people have things they need and want to do that are not related to work. Each person has tasks of self-care such as dental and medical appoints. There is the task we all hate but must do such as getting vehicle inspections and anything to do with the DMV.  Moms and dads must care for sick children and even attend the extracurricular activities of those children. Who hasn’t had to be home to sign for a package or wait on the plumber? We all will eventually have to attend a funeral. These are all tasks of life and they are not optional. A well-rounded person must do these things and a productive employee should be supported when doing them. Why do we judge them?

Judgment is not new. Consider that at the time of Jesus they were writing about the Father judging no one I assume that the message is that we have done it throughout history and it has always been an undesirable behavior.

22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:22-23

I know my inability to see the perspective of the other did not end at the office and I doubt I’m alone. How often do we try to walk in the shoes of our spouses, parents, or children?  How often do we try to understand the store clerk whose line is slow or the driver who makes a mistake or the person that doesn’t understand stand right and walk left on the metro escalator? How often do people try to understand issues of equality without trying to justify the current norm?

Ultimately to walk in the shoes of the other person we must be willing to trust the person is working as hard as we are, cares as much as we do, and has intentions that are honorable. We must see the other person as equal and deserving of respect.

I’m finally at the point in my career and my life that I would rather trust a person than find fault. I would rather underwrite the mistakes of others than limit them and me with my judgment.

See each person for what they bring to the table and not what you would bring if you were them.

 

 

 

 

 


Women Deacons Online Discussion

A couple of weeks ago I shared Women Deacons, A Discussion, A Community that received a fair amount of attention yet the purpose was to form an online discussion group and community of interested people. I’m convinced there are other Catholic women and men interested in the issue of women deacons and who would like to learn more.

All interested people are welcome to join the discussion of Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future utilizing the Reflection and Study Guide available for download. No preregistration is required and you do not need to commit to all of the session.

Like many of you, I have a very busy schedule and online discussion groups make it possible to engage with people that share an interest. The discussion does not require you to register and one of the beauties of an online discussion is that you can mute your end or turn off the video if you are camera shy.

The study guide walks us through four sessions. I added six sessions so there would be an opportunity to discuss next steps for anyone interested in continuing our support of the women deacons.

I hope that you will join.


Roberta Lavin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Women DeaconsTopic: Women Deacons Discussion
Time: May 29, 2019 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Every 2 weeks on Wed, until Aug 21, 2019, 7 occurrence(s)
May 29, 2019 7:00 PM
Jun 12, 2019 7:00 PM
Jun 26, 2019 7:00 PM
Jul 10, 2019 7:00 PM
Jul 24, 2019 7:00 PM
Aug 7, 2019 7:00 PM
Aug 21, 2019 7:00 PM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://zoom.us/meeting/213000398/ics?icsToken=3fc503c4e3d2fe4227d6394fd3b48c99f49d202be7eda491fe01823f81026cfd

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/213000398

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Dial by your location
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+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 213 000 398
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acfbyhTtvF

The link has a limit of 100 people, but I really doubt that will be an issue. Also, if you have never used Zoom before and email me at roberta.lavin@gmail.com and will happily send you instructions.


 


The Hypocrisy of Abortion Politics Revisited

Human dignity rests above all on the fact that humanity is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to men and women as soon as they are born. For if people exist it is because God has created them through love, and through love continues to keep them in existence. They cannot live fully in the truth unless they freely acknowledge that love and entrust themselves to their creator.

Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965, #19.

As a Catholic, I struggle with the issues surrounding abortion. I am at one time horrified by taking a life and equally horrified by forcing a woman to be pregnant especially when that pregnancy endangers her life or results from rape. I recognize abortion as the most difficult decision a woman will ever make and know that whether legal or not ultimately the decision is hers alone.

This week we had one governor sign into law legislation that would ban abortion after six weeks with no exception for rape even if the person raped was 10 years old and the next day the same governor allowed the execution of a man.  Missouri has passed a law outlawing abortion after eight weeks with no exception for a medical emergency or rape of a child. In other words, it is acceptable to let a woman die which will also result in the death of the fetus but essentially says it is not acceptable to save the mother if you can’t save the fetus.

Thus we have learned this week that pro-life is an obsolete word that is without meaning. It isn’t obsolete because people of faith do not believe that abortion is morally wrong. It is obsolete because it has been co-opted by opportunistic politicians that are no more opposed to abortion than anything else they espouse and then do absolutely nothing to change. Worse, they focus solely on the act of abortion and ignore all the factors that lead to abortion.

The Catholic Church is consistent in its teaching that life begins at conception and many faith traditions agree, but certainly not all. Officially abortion can be forgiven, but it can also result in the most severe punishment in the Church – excommunication. It is maintained that from the moment of conception a human embryo is fully human and deserving of all the protections of any human being. If one viewed this statement simplistically, it seems compassionate. We must treat this new life as if it were the same as a school child or a treasured grandparent. It is when one realizes that in saying “all the same protections of any human” it must necessarily mean that the mother is subservient to the human embryo so what is clearly meant is the same protections as a man. She must give up the control of her body to that human embryo, which is why some people make caveats for rape, incest, and life of the mother. If we logically followed this reasoning a man should have to do the same, but there are no laws requiring a father to give an organ to save the life of his child or for that matter to even give blood for his child.

hypocrisy of abortionPoliticians and pro-life and pro-choice advocates were outraged by the statement of Donald Trump when he suggested that women who have abortions should be punished during his campaign and to avoid that we have decided that if a physician performs an abortion it is murder, but the person that contracted for the murder has no guilt. It is no surprise that pro-choice advocates and most women were outraged then as they are today. However, for pro-life advocates and politicians who build careers preying on the faithful, it is nothing short of hypocrisy. We have already heard of two politicians that had their children aborted. Those that claim outrage against Trump’s statements need to consider what he said and what they claim to believe. Claiming the woman should be punished is consistent with what I would expect of someone that believes that the human embryo is the same as a child or an adult in rights. If a mother killed her 6-year-old or her neighbor, it would be expected that she would be punished. If one believes abortion is murder, then it would be expected that the person who committed or hired someone to commit murder is punished. However, what isn’t consistent is not also punishing the person that incited the murder – the father, or the driver that waited in the getaway car while the murder was committed. If one believes life begins at conception, and the human embryo is fully human and deserving of human rights rather than potentially human from that moment, then one should support Donald Trump’s original statement. Likewise, we should do away with all those fertilized embryos waiting to be implanted. Isn’t the physician that isn’t implanting them holding them hostage and when they dispose of them doing the same as the person who performs an abortion?

What about rape? Even if one agrees that the fetus is fully human and endowed with human rights by six weeks then what is being said about the child of God that has been raped and is pregnant. We are saying it is acceptable to enslave her body for nine months against her will. We are saying it is acceptable to treat her like nothing more than a human incubator. We are saying it is acceptable to endanger her life, cause her pain, and attack her every day for nine months. If we say the child is innocent then we are saying the rape victim is not. We are saying her well being is less important than that of the child of a rapist. This is what I cannot reconcile with reason or my conscience.

The Compassionate Alternative

Wanting to punish a woman for having an abortion shows a complete lack of compassion for a woman in trouble. Isn’t that what we teach with excommunication. When we say we punish the woman and not the man we are clearly setting different standards for men and women, doctors that do abortions and women that hire them, and mothers, fathers, and significant others that drive women to the abortion appointment. If one truly believes that abortion is a mortal sin, then to condemn the woman as a murderer is too easy and self-satisfying. It is too easy because it allows us as a society, a faith community, and as individuals to do nothing to help her through the pregnancy, to dismiss her as immoral, and to condemn her and those who assist her as murders and consign them to the criminal justice system. Calling abortion criminal allows us to continue to advocate against abortion without showing the same concern for women before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or after birth.

The child/fetus in the mother’s womb is drawing its life directly from the mother, and she must be nurtured, nourished and protected. Only then will the child develop to its full capacity. Not only is it necessary for a mother, a woman, to be cared for during her pregnancy, but we know through medical science that nutrition is essential even before conception. What we are doing for all women of childbearing age we are also doing for the child she will one day nurture. When we fail her, we fail to defend the integrity of the human embryo that will grow into a child.

We can begin our compassion by ending the use of the terms pro-life and pro-choice. Let us start saying what we believe. In stating our beliefs, we may find common ground that brings us together to find solutions that don’t criminalize acts of fear and desperation and further grow our flawed criminal justice system. I reject be label as pro anything. Here is what I believe:

  • Women are fully human – not less than men or human embryos or human fetuses.
  • A human embryo has all the genetic material of a human being but is not sentient from the time of conception.
  • The human embryo/fetus is drawing its life from the mother.
  • Self-determination should be a right for all sentient beings – rights come with responsibilities to make moral decisions.
  • However, pregnancy is a choice in most circumstances – rape, incest, and the life of a mother are special circumstances that force choices between the good of the human embryo and human fetus and the good of the mother.
  • Contraception meant to prevent implantation is not equivalent to abortion – it does violate the teaching of the Church, but can result in a reduction of abortions.
  • Poverty, abuse, lack of child care, few education options for women with children, fewer job opportunities and discrimination against women with children, and inadequate support for those that are pregnant impact a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
  • Abortion is a moral decision – women are endowed with consciences and can make moral decisions.
  • Pregnancy is stigmatizing – society values fertility, but not the always the pregnant woman especially if she is unwed or poor.
  • The objective act of abortion being immoral does not equate to the person carrying out the act as being either good or evil.

The compassionate solution cannot be to build a wall between women and legal and safe abortion and expect it will end abortion. It cannot be to take away safe abortions and not explore laws to help women care for their children. We should begin with compassion and start by passing laws and making policy changes that will encourage women to give birth and value pregnancy.

  • Paid maternal leave for six months
  • Affordable child care based on income
  • Educational support for pregnant teens and new moms
  • Adequate nutritional assistance for all women of childbearing age
  • Free adoption that isn’t limited by religion, sexual orientation, or whether one has a fire extinguisher in their house (don’t ask as you will be angry)
  • Women’s health care in all communities that is free to all women of childbearing age
  • Corporations that don’t disadvantage women with children
  • Mental health care for all women that have been raped and all with unwanted pregnancies

If we put the same passion into supporting pregnant women as goes into preventing abortion, the result may be surprising. I look forward to the day we are praying in the streets outside of community health centers and family practice clinics insisting that they provide women’s healthcare including maternity care or that we march on Washington every year to insist that all women have paid maternity leave and affordable childcare. This week taught us one important lesson – justice must include compassion. It is inhumane to treat women seeking abortion and physicians that care for them as criminals.

I cannot find it in my heart to condemn a woman to carry the child of a rapist. I find it to be inhuman to not recognize rape as a crime that should not punish the woman by forcing her to carry the child thus being raped over every single day for nine months. I can understand the fetus as innocent, but I also understand the woman as innocent. If we ask a woman to suffer and recognize her as having equal human dignity then if she is forced to carry the child to term we must fully support her.  Certainly, we should not ask her to pay the medical bills, to forgo her education, to have anything less than the best and most nutritious food, to have a fully funded education for that child, and to provide her all the medical and mental health support she will need.

This is not an easy issue and I would never violate the teachings of my faith, but I will not ask others to abide by them. I will only encourage people to explore all the implications, consider the possibilities, and know I will never turn my back on a woman struggling with the most difficult decision of her life.


Catechism of the Catholic Church on Abortion

Abortion

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77“by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, “if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safeguarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.”82

2275 “One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.”83

“It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.”84

“Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity”85 which are unique and unrepeatable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Do Catholic Women Want Women Deacons

When I taught at Clarke University Sr. Joan told me I should start all meetings with a prayer. I was fresh out of the 21 years of active duty where you did not pray at federal meetings. Asking me to lead a prayer before meetings caused me great anxiety. I was so bad at it that Sr. Kate gave me As We Gather, As we Part which contained 150 opening and closing prayers.  Mostly, I was bad at it because I didn’t feel I had led a life that deserved to lead a prayer, but I looked around at the Sisters and knew they had. Last night I searched the house for the book and couldn’t find it. Today I found it in my office. I should have known it was packed with office books because that is where I used it at Clarke. I knew I needed it.

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the mind of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. Proverbs 10:21-22

Women are not fragile! I don’t know what women were like in 533 AD, but my guess is fragile was far from accurate. Today women are definitely not fragile. We fought for the right to vote and then we literally fought for the right to fight for our country. We fought for the right to work and then for equality in the workplace. Despite the obstacles, we continue to raise families and in most cases take on the majority of that task. We continue to show up even when you treat us as less than because of our gender. Fragile, those Bishops should have looked inward. I suspect their egos were what was fragile.

I’m not sure how many people are interested in the topic of women deacons. I’m not sure if Catholic women care enough to be the Dorothy Day of our time, but I do. Show up and be counted. If we do not bring equality to the church it will be diminished in our lifetime as young women walk away because they see the hypocrisy and the misogyny in the Bishops that deny history.

Let’s not be the fools that die from lack of sense. If we don’t trust that there are women chosen by God to be Deacons and stand and support them, then we are no better than the Bishops that saw women as fragile. Are you fragile or are you ready to be a suffragette?

Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system. – Dorothy Day

 


Plastic, Time, Cooperation

Healthcare is an industry that uses a lot of plastic. That use is necessary to save lives, prevent the spread of illness, and make it possible to provide better care. Plastic cups are an exception as there are other options that are equally safe and less toxic to the environment. There is little I can do about the amount of plastic used in a hospital, but it serves as a reminder to do all I can in my personal life and that as a society, we could do to reduce the use of plastics. The grocery store is a prime example. It might be the first step in saving our environment and all beings.

However innumerable beings are, I vow to save them.

I shop at three grocery stores on a regular basis. Krogers is a big corporation that caters to all manner of shopper and is highly unlikely to make any changes without a massive community effort. Earth Fare attempts to be conscious of their impact on the earth but does a poor job with all manner of plastic containers.  Three Reivers Coop is much better but still falls short on plastics, but is the most likely to be willing to make changes.

Step 1: Do What is Easy

I would like to imagine a world where when I go to buy a bicycle lock it isn’t packaged in plastic and where all plastic is recycled. When I examined all the single-use plastics in my house it was easy to figure out that the majority of them actually came from the grocery store.Plastic_objects

Plastics Easy to Avoid

  • Milk in plastic bottles
  • Soft drinks in plastic bottles
  • Water bottles
  • Drink cups (except at sporting events or concerts)
  • Plastic forks for lunch
  • Plastic tubs of lettuce
  • Plastic produce bags
  • Plastic grocery bags (though I grab these for kitty litter and don’t know an alternative)

There are things that we can all do to help, but we must remember to help within our means and not expect all people can do the same. I buy milk in glass bottles and then return the bottle for a deposit. Without the deposit 64 ounces of milk cost me $6. A half gallon in a carton is about $2.89. However, I realize that a family of four with an income at or slightly above the poverty line would never be able to afford the milk in glass bottles and it would be a poor use of their money. God help them if they had four teenage boys. They could, however, avoid plastic by using a carton.

I buy my ginger ale in cans. I haven’t bought a bottle of water in almost a year and carry my Hydro Flask with me everywhere. The $20 for the hydro flask seems expensive until you count how much one spends on bottled water. I actually prefer my mesh reusable bags for fresh produce to the plastic ones. I suspect if everyone used mesh bags the cost savings to the stores would be enough they could lower prices though it isn’t clear they would. 

Step 2: Work on What is Hard

There are things that I haven’t figured out where to buy without the plastic or how to avoid without taking a considerable amount of my time. Time is a valuable commodity to me. I’m much more stingy with my time than my money and probably because I feel like I have less of it.

Plastics Hard to Avoid

  • Plastic containers for prepared foods (yogurt is the biggest one, pimento cheese 2nd)
  • Things wrapped in plastic like cheese, veggie burgers, veggie sausage, etc.
  • Pill bottles
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Laundry detergent
  • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Condiments almost all now come in plastic
  • Bread

Today I bought a yogurt maker. It is one step to reduce my use of plastic and at the same time reduces sugar. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming though appears it will be cheaper than buying the yogurt. I make my own bread at times, but it is also time-consuming and so unrealistic to do it all the time. I love to buy crumbled goat, feta, and blue cheese, but it comes in plastic containers. Even if I buy it in a block it is still wrapped in plastic.

Step 3: Work Local

I think that the local coop could do more to promote reduced plastic use. Why can’t I bring containers for prepared products the same as I do for produce? Rather than putting the deli product in a plastic container, they could put the portion in my reusable container. How hard would it be to bring a shampoo bottle to refill or refillable laundry detergent?

I have neither the time or knowledge to make all of the things I use on a regular basis, but it seems like the coop could do more to make options available. If I can bring a spice jar to refill why not laundry detergent bottles? There must be like-minded people that want to significantly reduce the use of plastic in my community and think that we are losing the battle fight the government so maybe we start local and grow.

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
― Ansel Adams


Women Deacons, a Discussion, a Community

When I was a new nurse the Officier in Charge gave advice about how to manage meetings as one of the few women in the room.

When you know the meeting will be contentious bake cookies.

While we might imagine that Bishops and Priests are stuck in their male-dominated mindsets that see women as less than and will never change it wasn’t until this past year that there were more women in medical school than men. Fifty years ago I guarantee you that most physicians could not imagine a woman as the head of surgery or the chief of staff or any other role in the hospital leadership except in nursing. We have now had female Surgeons General. Those graduating female physicians are entering an entirely different environment than their mothers did because their mothers fought for their rights. In the next 20 years, we will see equal representation in leadership in healthcare. Let’s not let it stop there.

It would be nice if getting the Pope to move away from the misogyny that has dominated the Chruch was as simple as baking cookies. Yet, there may have been more to the baking cookies advice than my feminist ears could hear in my twenties. It could be that she had learned how to make powerful men drop their defenses around a woman that was smarter and more determined than they were. Should we have to bake cookies, absolutely not? But, if we want to win the battle for equal human dignity we need to figure out how to break down barriers.

I consider myself a feminist. Granted from the school of us born in the 1960s when what we wanted was the right to only bake cookies because we loved family and friends and not because it was an obligation or a way to get men to listen to us in meetings. It was all about equality. Maybe it is time to send cookies to the Vatican since it is a behavior that seems to disarm men who view a woman as less than. Clearly coming to the table with evidence and a historical record didn’t work. The problem is I’m annoyed and so I want to lash out at misogyny. Honestly, I would rather fling the cookies at them.

Like any good nurse, I know that the world is filled with misogyny and people that refuse to believe the evidence. How many patients believe there is a magic cure to their knee or back pain but refuse to recognize the extra hundred pounds they are carrying is making it worse? How many providers continued to do unnecessary test long after the evidence shows that it results in unnecessary procedures? Yet nurses teach and advocate even when we know the person isn’t ready to hear us.

The Pope made clear he didn’t have ears to hear. I for one need a like-minded group of people that want to discuss this issue. I want people fighting as hard as I am to stay in the church and not throw in the flag and say if you want a boys club you can have it. I’m taking my spirituality and my faith and going home. The feminist in me says I will die before I will step aside for misogyny and men that still think the world is theirs to control

Macy, Ditewig, and Zagano wrote a book, Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future that serves as an excellent study on the issue of women deacons and they have produced a free study guide to accompany the book. I would enjoy being part of a group of like-minded people that want to read and discuss the book.

Like many people I have a busy schedule and once I’m home from work I’m unlikely to go back out. I set up a Zoom meeting if anyone wants to join me to start discussing the book and then maybe planning what we can do as an online community to advocate for women deacons. If you are interested and like-minded please join. I’m not a theologian so I don’t want to debate the issue, but rather learn and eventually plan some activism. It is my church too and I’m fighting for the human dignity of women.

Women Deacons

Roberta Lavin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Women Deacons
Time: May 15, 2019 7:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/682727627

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Meeting ID: 682 727 627
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The link has a limit of 100 people, but I really doubt that will be an issue. Also, if you have never used Zoom before and email me at roberta.lavin@gmail.com and will happily send you instructions.