I then knew my life was at an end. My organs within me burned and I felt the sensation of a jellied substance ooze from my flesh. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of my family back home awaiting my return–a return that would never happen. My knees weakened and began to buckle as I felt the poison from this alien being invade my body. I struggled to pull free but it was too late. It was over. I felt unconsciousness overtake me as my soul slipped out from its temporary home. My mother had warned me about these aliens–these Human Beings.
02 Mar 2013 Leave a Comment
in Thick Wisdom
If we can dissect the basics of love we can just as easily do the same with life in general. We are three-quarters water. So which are we? Water or flesh? And why don’t we drown in our own compound? How does our skin restrain from busting open under the pressure of the water we retain? Is it the heart beating that keeps us alive, or is it the soul, or is the oxygen? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The dinosaur or the caveman? Will we ever have a pluralistic society? Heck no. Was slavery legal and right? Plantation owners and slave owners said YES. Abraham Lincoln and God said, NO. Do you need to love people to write or edit? Back to what came first, the chicken or the egg?
11 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
I’m standing just inside the doorway of my childhood home, looking out into the world that I am about to enter. I feel safe, calm and secure. It’s a sunny day. Its summer, warm, green, happy, and I’m age 11. I’ve stood here many times before. I’m wearing my church dress and light- weight cotton sweater. A warm breeze brings the smell of fresh cut grass and it flows up from the ground brushing past my face on its way to another place. The aromas of Sunday diner now fill the air around me and I feel happy to have family. I didn’t want to go on a journey. I wanted to stay and smell the aromas of home. I was naïve in my world. Nature forcibly calls and demands that I change. It brutally taunts that I am now alone in this world. It demands that I need to begin my search to make sense of my life and bring elements in from around me, to save me. I’m about to take my unplanned and unexpected journey, out of my virgin thoughts, away from my vision of what is happy is about to be shattered. I feel like the Aiyaiyesh Girl as I cross over the First Threshold of my journey, reluctantly and afraid. “But not the girl who was aiyaiyesh…she would just sit underneath the cedar tree, watching the world go by…”(Martine). I stand on the lawn of my home unprepared for what lies ahead. I enter my place among the shadows. My mother was an alcoholic and I soon learned how to forge my own way in life. Like the Aiyaiyesh Girl, I had to press onward to find the resources around me, to build. Nature challenged me and I didn’t refuse the call. I ventured out into the unknown world, alone. The danger that lurked with-in my aloneness was unknown and foreign in my child’s world, and soon would bring much sorrow.
Meeting With the Mentor and Crossing the First Threshold
The meeting of my mentor consisted of two invisible influences. The world of God and the world of Trickster. I blindly entered into both worlds. I was raised with the idea of God being my creator, that I can turn to him for guidance. Guardian angles would watch over me. I was from a broken family; my trust was anchored in an invisible force that guided me, protected me, leading me. My reasoning was that if God, who could create the entire world in seven days, and created me out of the rib of man, then he was wise and strong enough to see me through my everyday journeys path. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof” (KJV p 2-3). To me, God was The Wise Old Man archetype. The Trickster mentor in my life was very cunning like the serpent in the Book of Genesis. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made . . .And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me and I did eat” (KJV p 6-7) . This was my journey. Everything in life was centered around me, my desires, my goals, my futures. Only me. Trickster was The Shadow archetype: “It is said to be made up of all the reprehensible characteristics that each of us wish to deny” (Jung).
Allies and Enemies
My desire was to be a model and my metaphorical enemy entered as anorexia nervosa. I was fooled by the Trickster of society who told me to believe that starvation would produce beauty in my appearance. I believed this lie and bought into this delusion. I hid is well. My archetype Persona raged forth: “It is called an artificial personality that is a compromise between a person’s real individuality and society’s expectations–usually society’s demands take precedence. It is made up of things like professional titles, roles, habits of social behavior, etc” (Jung). Still, I clung tightly to my supreme mentor. The Trickster hindered my journey by trying to destroy my life. My God mentor brought me to my Threshold and the threat of death pushed me over and I began a fight for my life. My dreams were shattered. My encumbered wardrobe I so cherished appeared to belong to someone else. The shining sun, the blue sky, the warm wind, and summer days found no favor with me. My favorite place in the doorway of my childhood house had lost its place of safety and promise. My God mentor provided the amulet of collapse. This was my escape and became my ally. During this time while lying on my bed, my life hanging somewhere between heaven and earth, death is my enemy and tries to snatch me from the hand of the world. Like the Trickster observing the plumes in the water, took a dive and hit the rocks, I looked in to the world and it mirrored beautiful plumage of success and promise; bright, intriguing, alluring of color. I took a dive and hit the rocks. I soon became aware of my own imagination and its power—power to tear down, or to build up. “The Trickster embodies reflection coming into being; in him we see both the need for reflective consciousness (without it he suffers) and the rewards of that consciousness (with it he exploits the world). In addition, we have a narrative in which mental experience (trickster playing with an Image) replaces physical experience (trickster actually jumping in the water, hitting his head). We see Trickster waking to symbolic life, or becoming aware of his own imagination and its power” (101).
I believe my allies present in my life today are those who have taught me how to approach situations carefully, using wisdom and past experiences. Enemies in my life are those who don’t know me, but judge me. These are silent enemies. Other enemies may possibly include a family member who, out of jealousy had built a fortress of lies against me. However my allies are those who have come to observe the facts against the accusations. I have been my own ally who silently and inadvertently defended my position of my truth of who I am and am not. This brings to mind Xena in “Sins of the Past” when she became reformed. She wanted to do good for those who were oppressed as she once had been the oppressor. Xena’s own family and home village did not believe that she had changed when she came back home to warn them that Draco and his army was about to destroy them. They had felt betrayed by her in the past. “Callisto” is another example. Callisto set a trap of destructive lies about Xena, trying to make people hate and fear Xena. But Xena redeemed herself in both scenarios. She defeated Draco and Callisto proving she in fact had changed.
The Approach to the Inmost Cave and the Supreme Ordeal
With Angels to protect me, and the spirit of God to guide me, I felt this guidance through an inner core feeling of a presence. Yoda was Luke Skywalkers mentor. Yoda though his inner conscience, his sage, his spiritual guide, in a physical presence. Still in the absence of Yoda, Luke could still draw on the wisdom of his mentor from the core of his being (Campbell)
My Supreme ordeal was met as I lay on my bed of death. I was transformed and gained enlightenment through my actions and I was transformed in a new realm. I met my archetype The Self: “the “midpoint of the personality” a center between consciousness and the unconsciousness” (Jung).
“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth…. finally; the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form – all symbolization, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void” (Campbell 190)
The Road Back and Resurrection
On my road of trials, on my road to recovery, I encountered tests which were difficult. My body was working against me wishing it had been put to rest in the family cemetery; but also the Trickster had lost and the Angel of life sent by God, pulled me out of a miry grave. Sometimes you can’t go home because those you left behind no longer feel the familiarity they once knew and don’t accept who you have become. I am now the bearer of new understanding. I will return to serve some higher purpose for the greater good. I will face the challenge with the tools and weapons that I have acquired on my roads journey. My tools I acquired are building tools to share with those who have no hope and no mentor to help them. I will tell of my experience with life and death, good and evil, right and wrong. In, “Chariots of War,” Xena found something that resurrected within her after she was wounded by an arrow. She stayed in the home of a man and his children who helped her to back to health. The warrior within her stepped aside and let the Mother archetype and Lover step forward. However, her higher calling was to be the reformed Her(o)ine avenging all those who were oppressed by evil. Although she had an opportunity to become a part of another world completely opposite from her present world, she had to move onward to her calling.
Return with the Elixir
My Elixir is my strength of spirit, mind and soul. I took back the goods from Trickster and banned him out of my life. I crossed back over the Threshold and faced my new journey which lay before me. My Elixir provided me with new insights and the ability to say no to the temptations that would come my way, those which would once again possess my entire being. I learned what is destructive to my mind, body, and soul. I learned what will harm my health. I can now keep on my journey forward to a higher calling.
I found my pathway to healing. This was my Her(o)ines journey.
Return and Leaving Once Again With the Elixir
After discovering my Elixir is strength of spirit, mind, and soul, I took back the goods from Trickster and banned him out of my life. I crossed back over the Threshold and faced my new journey which lay before me. My Elixir provided me with new insights and the ability to say no to the temptations that would come my way, those which would once again possess my entire being. I learned what is destructive to my mind, body, and soul. I learned what will harm my health. I knew I could now keep on my journey forward to a higher calling. I left home once again to learn more about my new found strengths. I wasn’t certain what more my inner self was calling me to learn and observe. But I was willing to accept the calling ventured out of my comfort zone.
Tragic-Heroes the Valley of Broken People
As I started out on my journey of learning, I noticed the ground beneath I trod was rough, a bit rocky, with a few smooth areas. I accepted this as my path. One day as I traveled along my road, I spotted footprints. I recognized the prints immediately. They were the tracks of Trickster, so I followed them. They led me to a place called, The Valley of Broken People. It was a place where the Tragic Heroes and Tragic Her(o)ines took refuge. I could hear faint whispers of confessions from those who dwelt below, rising up in hopes that someone passing by would forgive their past sins, or tell them its okay and set them free. I wondered if Ama Eaton, the Tragic Her(o)ine was among those who had become a fallen victim of Trickster. She had lived alone in a shack in the Florida swamps. Although she considered herself to be one with nature, she became obsessed with the power of the panther and the way it had so influenced the Taiga people from the beginning of time. She believed the panther was dying and needed to be murdered so her people would not be discouraged. She couldn’t let go of the idea that she should be the one to save the genesis of her culture. She committed the highest offense and murdered the panther, the mascot god, which the Taiga Tribe had held in a very high esteem. What she tried so hard to save, she lost. The outcome cost her four years of banishment away from her people (Power). I wondered if Rudy, the law officer was among the fallen, another Tragic Hero. He was an American Indian living in a small town. He once fought hard to keep law and order among the Indian people, and tried to help his brother from destroying his life with alcohol, as well as other American Indians who wasted their lives with alcohol. But he failed at what he was fighting so hard to destroy, and instead became the destroyer (Skins). Trickster had over extended himself and made mufti-appearances in the lives of these people. The Valley of Broken People made choices that caused their demise and there was nothing I could do to help. I had to keep moving onward to learn from my Elixir.
A Hero in “Light”
As I walked along my path, I felt no fear when I encountered what appeared to be a very handsome Hero in “light.” I hadn’t noticed him at first because he came out of the shadows as I was approaching. He was dragging and pulling a very large sack behind him. The sack was so large I was amazed that he could pull the load with such a great ease, all by himself. He waved and introduced himself as a conqueror of demons and villains. He told me that many people feared him and many people loved him. He showed me a list of his accomplishments and victories. Again, I began to hear voices. The voices seemed to be coming from the oversize sack that the Hero in light was pulling behind him. They were murmuring and sounded as if they were complaining, but their words weren’t quite clear enough or loud enough to understand. He tried to ignore them but the voices grew louder and kept murmuring; and I heard faint sound of crying. He noticed I had my Elixir with me and asked if I wanted to join follow him. I declined. He asked if he could have a bit of my Elixir to put in his sack, but I refused him. I then realized that the murmuring were the voices of those who had become innocent victims of this Hero in “light.” They were those who had been trampled down in the path beneath his heroic acts and quests; innocent by-standers who had suffered the consequences of his victory. Caught in the line of fire; they were maimed, disabled, cut, bruised, and dead. There would be no Hero to rescue or avenge the voices crying out for justice. He had left behind a path of tragedy along with triumph. I felt angry for what he did, and I wanted to cry with the voices. I walked over to the large sack and touched it with my Elixir, but there was no change. There was nothing I could do for the voices calling out from the sack being pulled by the Heroes in “light.” I had to remain strong, so I secured my Elixir and pressed onward to seek out what I was to learn.
The Village of Borderlands
Again, I saw the tracks of Trickster. His footprints were many and I followed to where they led; now being always on my guard. Soon I came upon a plateau. The young American Indian generation had built a Western city. I could barely recognize this generation of American Indian. I saw bright and flashing lights and could hear the sound of laughter and voices of people having fun. They had met with Trickster who made them blind to the folklore, the practices of spiritual rituals, and the ways of their forefathers. The ways of the land handed down from generation to generation had become nothing more than a bedtime story. The desire to learn about the Western World closed in on them and Trickster entered to entice the young ones into the illusive trap of being accepted into its mainstream flow. However, this enticement was only meant to destroy further any trace of traditional culture in the American Indian World. Slowly but surely their culture had begun to stray away from its traditions, greatly influenced by the allurement of its illusion of promise of the Western World, a place to indulge in self gratification. Without the skills and practices of their native culture handed down from their forefathers, their small community fell into a life of alcohol, crimes and self-destruction. Compromise had caused their broken bond. The elders lost all hope, the land and traditions became westernized and unproductive, and the people became unrecognizable, poor, and hopeless. They had become rejected by their own people who had left them to their own rebellion, and Western World turned its back on them too. Also living there, were women Native Mexican Indians who had been ostracized for their gender preference; those who were expelled from the flow of society (Anzaldúa). They were all now living in the Borderlands Plateaus, on the cusp of borderlines and limits, racism’s and restrictions, and interracial prejudices. Just down the road, I could see the catacombs where the American Indian culture was buried, the tools and the skills, the folklore, the traditions, all hidden by Trickster from those who rejected had it. The problem was overwhelming and there was nothing I could do alone to help, so I continued walking hoping to find someone who could. All of a sudden, a dark Shadow stepped out in front of me and asked me to join the party. He pointed to the bright lights and shows me a menu of delicacies. I drew courage off of my Elixir and I declined. I pressed onward seeking to find what lessons I was to learn.
Meeting With the Anti-Her(o)ine
I had no more encounters until I began to notice that the ground beneath my feet felt somewhat more leveled out and even. Just up ahead, a heroic figure was approaching. At closer approach I could see this was a female. She met up with me and told me her name was Solara, an Anti-Her(o)ine. She had just come from a long dangerous journey with a blind man named, Eli. He had been on his journey for thirty years. God sent him Westward with a mission to deliver the last Bible left on the planet. His path was a very dangerous and treacherous way. She had joined him on his journey after he happened to come upon her town, in hopes for his protection from the wild postwar villains. She explained that during the time she was with him, he had laid down his life for her. It was something he had learned from the book that he carried. She quoted: John 15:13: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Solara said, this is what Eli did for her. He gave up his life to save her life when her life was threatened by a very violent man named, Carnegie. After he shot Eli, and took her captive, she escaped by using methods that she learned from Eli. She stole a vehicle after warding off her captures, and drove to find Eli alive and well, and walking to his destination that God had sent him on. She helped him reach his journey’s end (The Book of Eli). She was now on her journey to share what she had learned from Eli and to carry out his dream in the reprinted book of Eli known as, “The Holy Bible.” She noticed my Elixir and asked me how I obtained it. I told her about my journey and that I had set out to obtain more learning. She handed me a copy of “The Holy Bible,” and went on her journeys way.
Going Back Home and Meeting With the Postmodern Her(o)ine
It seemed like I had been walking for a very long time and the path beneath my feet continued to feel much too smooth and I knew I was meant for me to turn around and head back the way I came. I began to feel confused because the path I walked continued to feel smooth and I knew I was nearing the Borderline Plateaus, but nothing looked familiar. Soon I came upon the catacombs of the buried cultural traditions. I saw many people coming out of the catacombs carrying with them bundles of the American Indian culture in their arms. The Borderline Plateaus no longer beckoned with flashing lights and party voices. It looked productive and orderly. I passed by the place where I met the Hero in “light.” The trail of the over-size sack, sadly still remained.
The path under foot continued to feel smooth and level. I walked onward and soon came upon the Valley of Broken People. I stopped to listen for the voices I had heard before rising up from below, but all I could hear were the sounds of busy people. I could hear happy voices and laughter. It became clear why the path beneath my feet felt smooth and level. I was curious as to how all of these changes came about. Just as I began to move forward, I saw a small framed Indian girl. I asked her name and she replied, “They call me the Aiyaiyesh Girl (CoyoteCooks).” I asked her what journey she was on and she began to tell me her story. She told me her name is supposed to mean, stupid. However, she indeed was not stupid. She was an exceptional child. She began to tell me about the Cedar tree and how she sat beneath it watching her people struggle, feeling helpless. Their culture was dying for lack of knowledge about the land and nature’s resources, ideas and skills needed to make money to grow and survive. Not knowing what to do to help her American Indian culture, she became dismayed and asked over and over from within her heart for the answers. Soon nature began to speak to her beginning with the Cedar Tree (CoyoteCooks). The Cedar Tree heard her heart’s desire and honored her for wanting to search her heart for answers, and it began to give her knowledge. Nature then challenged to venture out from her homeland. Soon she would find the answers of the cries of her heart. She told me how she had gathered material goods from the land and nature to take back to her people. She gathered colored rocks, stones, grass, seeds, nuts, berries and stalks, all that nature told her to do. She took her wisdom back to her people and together they produced resources to sell, foods to eat, and they began to grow in skills and knowledge and became financially independent.
The Cedar tree then told her it was not finished with her mission and she needed to help the other American Indians who had fallen and became lost. She was to take her people with her to teach all of the tribes in the Valley of Broken People, and the Borderlands Plateaus. So she and her people set out together and brought all of their knowledge to the Native Indian Tribes. Soon Rudy sent word to his people in their small community.
Ama Eaton sent word to her Taiga Tribe in the Florida swamps and soon they came to join the new community of American Indians where they could be free to practice their cultures without interference from the Western World. The tribes soon incorporated all of their knowledge together, and the base of their success was brought to them by the Aiyaiyesh Girl.The community grew and became very functional and no longer is they oppressed and stereotyped. Soon many other surrounding American Indians and those of faraway places com to join their functional and successful community and they will take their place in the Story Cycle.
I left The Aiyaiyesh Girl and headed back home amazed at what I had learned. I learned that I cannot help or fix people with my Elixir if they are only voices of the past. I learned I can resist the bright lights of the city and the menus of delicacy if I make sure my Elixir is secure. My Elixir gives me courage in my times of need. It gives me strength to press onward to discover new adventures. I also learned that when people come together in unity, a new life can begin for everyone involved. When people work together, everyone becomes the hero, and they all take their place in the Story Cycle.
In the end it is best said: Like nature, myth is creative and destructive. Provoking violence, it intrudes, camouflaged as text or music, jungle or wilderness, upon blank chaos that is sometimes desert or plain, white space or silence, mist, earth, or fog (Clarke). These stories combined, first by myth, then by archetype, induced and created all of these elements and story lines. Clarke says: “like nature, myth is creative and destructive.” This was shown in Linda Hogan’s, Power, demonstrated by the power of nature in the storm as well as drought, causing people and animals to die by the fate of a violent hurricane or the starving lands and heat. It was demonstrated in the act of violating laws, both by tribal and the Western World standards. “Provoking violence, it intrudes,” is demonstrated in the movie, “Skins,” the violence applied to try to make the wrong right: a good cop acting wayward. In “The Book of Eli,” Eli was trying to save the right from the falling into the wrong, and seemingly by magnetic force, adhered to the wrong. Yet myth is also characterized by ambiguity and amorality. It resists definition even as it defines. It exists in a tension of utterance and silence, motion and stillness, reality and dream, never quite being the one without being the other (Clarke). In Linda Hogan’s, “Power,” Omishto was a clear example of being ambiguous and amoral. She neither entirely proclaimed her belief, nor denied the teachings of the Taiga people. She showed this by her dialogue and reasoning. At the end, her reality was her dream. The Book of Eli displayed both ambiguity and amorality in the theme of the movie. The right and wrong of Eli’s journey was mixed and depending upon the circumstance, is when he would define his actions.
Its clarity is obfuscation and its obfuscation, clarity. The more it defines an object, the more it defines itself. Composed of fragments of myths (including lies and facts), myth appears in art as collage; in nature, as menagerie. Indeed, being individual and communal, myth incorporates all things (Clarke). The Story Cycle is composed of myth, even in fact. Nature creates a menagerie of people who create Story Cycles. Art also tells a Story Cycle of life which includes pieces of myth, which all comes back to the genesis of true life posing as myth and myth posing as true life.
Because the Cultural Schemata of these films and stories are cohesive, there are no binary elements dividing the theme of the Story Cycle as it moves from right to left. Divinity: The Creation of the World. Community: The People. Family: All Our Relations. Couples: Love Stories. Individual’s: The Her(o)ines Journey.
20 Jan 2013 Leave a Comment
A Different Kind of Salvation
Salvation On Sand Mountain, by Dennis Covington, gives us an insight into the religious practices and the private lives of a very unique group of people living in the northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia, Appalachian Mountain chain. The meaning of the word “salvation” for these people holds a different meaning than the standard term of God saving their soul. Their sense of salvation is something that is continuously sought out and has to be proven time and time again to their selves, and to those around them who indulge in the practice of the religion. The power of belief in the unseen, or a sensation, and the need to unify with like minds, to feel a part of a community, can propel an individual into acts that may seem crazy to the outside world. For this group of people, the feeling of power that comes to them by the handling of poisonous rattles snakes and copper head snakes, surviving multiple venomous bites, and drinking strychnine, is their challenge for displaying their keeping of the faith. This ritualistic organization seems to hold their community together. Insecurities, fears, lack of self-identity, are the inner forces that drive these people into submitting to a higher power, not only that which is in a heaven above, but rather a forbidden act that gives them the sense of self-worth, self-control, and acceptance by those in their immediate community. The snake handlers pass down this ritual from generation to generation. They believe they are predestined to do so and they feel it’s an honor. They are even willing to die for the cause. In all cases, their fathers and forefathers were snake handlers for the faith.
The surrounding circumstances of these types of people, poor, some uneducated, and sense of obligation, induce the need to dominate their object of choice, the need to control something, to have power over something that can even possibly cause their death, seems to be their need in order to feel worth.
Seeking to feel and experience the unseen is a way to strengthen one’s faith, as if God did something mysterious for him, finding the great favor of God. They want to feel it; they want to believe it, so some make it happen. Believing one has to be in the spirit in order to not be bitten by the snakes determines who handles the snakes. The ultimate devotion and loyalty to the cause, is to die unattended by medical provisions, and some want more bites as their going down. The more snake bites that one survives, the larger and more dangerous the snake that one handles, the more spiritual the man is deemed, making him higher up on the holiness chart because he has supposedly obtained an amazing higher faith that Jesus proclaims makes you a marked follower of His (NIV Mark 16:17-18).
However “around eight thousand people in the United States are bitten by poisonous snakes.” But “only a dozen or so die” (147). This is if they have immediate medical attention. But in the in the snake handlers faith and belief in God to protect them, there are instances in the book where people have been raised from the dead, as it is told. Also, for people to survive the bite of a rattle snake and copper head snake without medical attention, does take a divine intervention. To say that these practices are all in their minds would be not interrupting the book correctly, and over-looking these amazing facts (131). Certainly this would be a powerful attraction for someone who is an on-looker.
In observation of the events told in this book and the way it relates to religion, I have the opinion that a person can become drawn to even the most outrageous religion if there is a trace of identification, history of ancestors, insecurities, fear, lack, and the need to be accepted by society or community or individual relationships, or possibly rebellion against the norm. Even if someone has no desire at the start, one could possibly turn their lives over to a religious ritual no matter how much one rejects the idea to begin with. Curiosity can turn a person’s mind and heart to convert to a religion by repeated exposure to its particular practice. Dennis Covington was a “freelance journalist stringing for the New York Times” wanting to write an article (242). He paid a visiting to Sand Mountain and began believing he was called to be a snake handling Preacher. After watching these people handle snakes, he said, “I wondered what it would be like being bitten by a rattlesnake. I wondered if there would be any pleasure in that, coming close to death and surviving.” I think maybe some people can be hypnotized or captured by an idea or ritual if they are compelled to any of the criteria that are involved in the ritual. He began to think back to a time when he was a child and how he would hunt and capture non-poisonous snakes. This made him ponder the possibility that he may be predestined. He says, “I actually envisioned myself, preaching out of my car with a Bible, a trunkload of rattlesnakes, and a megaphone (236).”
Conforming to religion is a must to be like-minded. One has to agree on every aspect of what that particular religion demands that you do. If not, that person will be ostracized. For example, when Dennis Covington got up in front of the church and defended the position of women in the Bible and in the church, he was opposed by the congregation and the Preacher, who were all of his friends, those who accepted him and his wife and welcomed him with opened arms. This was also the end of his illusion and the end for his book (231-233). How are the women treated in their home after the church service is over? Are they forced to be subservient? Unfortunately, I’m not sure if anyone in a group such as this would come to the aid of someone other than for the need of prayer from a snake bite.
What can make a person desert their entire life’s past, their accomplishments, their families, their careers, and sense of direction, all for the sake of a religion that offers ideas that do not make sense, odd challenges, and a path without certain direction, and possibly a destructive end? I think everyone is in search of fulfillment and many find it in religion. I believe it’s the unconditional acceptance of those who welcome a person into a group, even if the group is a dangerous one. Some people find their salvation by taking on the identity or persona of a group, one that makes them feel safe, secure, accepted, powerful, and fearless. Whoever offers the best idea for life’s salvation is where a person will find their Shangri la.
13 Jan 2013 Leave a Comment
I Love Hand-me-downs
One of my favorite memories as a little girl is sitting at the kitchen table with my sister, filled with excitement as we watched my mother do Christmas baking. She began early on Christmas Eve morning and baked all the way until 2:00 a.m. It seemed like my sister and I would wait for hours on the first batch of goodies to come out of the oven, but tasting a sample of these extra special baked goods was worth the wait. This is when my little brother would show up. This was the only part of the baking tradition he liked. Sometimes my mother would let us girls help so we could be a part of the holiday fun and learning the process. My grandparents came from Moravia, Czechoslovakia, so there are many ethnic holiday traditions in my family. They handed down their traditions to my mother, and she handed them down to us kids. Of course as a child I took for granted the hard work and the love my mother put into these family traditions. Now looking back, my memories make me appreciate the treasure that she bestowed upon us. In our house, we didn’t bake run-of-the-mill holiday cookies. We baked European style! Baked goods called, Kolaches (co-latch-keys), little pillows of filled dough about 2×2 inch squares, along with sweet rolls called, Bukta (boot-ka), both consisting of sweet prune butter, tasty apricot butter, or sweet ground walnut meats, were a must for Christmas. These rolls are not like bread rolls. Each roll is about twelve inches in length and about five inches wide, and about two inches high. Today they have dough mixers, but my mom would knead the dough by hand over and over and over again until it was smooth, staying to her tradition, the same way she stayed to Christmas Eve super tradition.
Christmas Eve super always consisted of lentil soup, tossed salad, boiled potatoes, broiled fish, and boiled fruits of figs and prunes. Before eating the meal, everyone was given a thin slice of wafer called Oplatki (o-plat-key). It was 6×3 wide and barely one-sixteenth inch thick. Breaking off small pieces of the wafer, and passing it to every person sitting at the table assures all who partake, safety for their future, never to lose their way in life. I believe this tradition has helped me to step out in life with courage to succeed. Czechs are the only ones who practice this tradition of wafers. The Russians serve a “Twelve Dish Christmas Eve Supper,” consisting of twelve entrees. The Italians celebrate, “La Vigilia Di Natale, The Eve of Seven Fishes,” along with other entrees. The Polish celebrate, “Wigilia,” a “meatless Christmas Eve meal, also known as the Star Supper, which doesn’t begin until the first star appears in the sky. Smoked salmon, caviar, pickled beets, mushrooms and other vegetables are served.”There is a great influence of mixed ethnic traditions in my community, because where I live is where many of the European immigrants settled after they arrived in New York City during the 1800 and 1900’s.
The immigrants, who settled here in America, made their way to many of the surrounding areas where they could find work and make a decent living. Endicott-Johnson and IBM had plenty of work for them. My community is where many of Italians, Russians, Czechoslovakians, and Polish people, settled down to work in the factories. Grape vineyards for homemade wine, and small cafes serving Italian pasta dishes, helped to structure the community. Other contributors to the community were the Russian, Czechs, and Polish, who brought their fine cuisine and their practice of homemade beer, which became very popular, and still is. My mother used to tell us kids stories of our grandfather and the way he would make beer in the basement of their house. Having eight brothers and sister, they made it a family affair, mostly capping the bottles tight. Many of my uncles had smoke houses where they would hang sides of fresh bacon or ham until it was cured. They also made their own stuffed sausage, called Kielbasa (Keel-basa), and horseradish. You will always find the Catholic churches selling ethnic baked goods, crafts, and arts, at their Bazaars held for fundraisers. They also sell homemade, home grown foods for take-out dinners during other holiday celebrations.
It’s the Catholic churches who still help keep these wonderful traditions going on. Catholicism is the preferred faith of these nationalities. The American church has preserved much of the European home-church experience of ethnicity, from the architectural structure of the high domed ceiling, splashed with paintings of angels and clouds, to the sacred statues of the Holy Saints, especially the Mother of Jesus, Mary, and his father Joseph. Beautiful stained glass icon paintings of the twelve Stations of the Cross, Jesus’ journey to Calvary, line the church walls on each side. Urns filled with holy water are located at the front and back entrances of the church for the petitioners to dip in with their finger, and make the sigh of the cross as they enter the sanctuary. The sacred challis that is located in the front is closed tightly within a little tabernacle and can only be handled by the holy Priest. All others are forbidden. When I was a child I really believed that God and Jesus lived in the little tabernacle located on the mantel behind the front podium. I also believed that the Catholic holy water could kill vampires; this from watching monster film festivals. I loved to recite the rosary beads, which is a practice of repetitive prayers. The rosary looks similar to a long necklace with a crucifix pendant. Each bead represents a prayer that you speak as you move around the necklace and back to the crucifix where you began.
Czechoslovakian beautifully designed egg art, originated at the Monasteries made by the Catholic Monks in Rome Italy. Hand sketched goose eggs are the choice in Czechoslovakia, but in the Western World, the use of chicken eggs is very popular. The yolks of the eggs are delicately drained from the egg by inserting a hole at the top and bottom. They are then dipped by hand in lacquer or acrylic paint in a variety of brilliant colors of red, purple, green, pink, even black, and much more. After they are dried, they are dipped in colored wax, sealing the holes. After the wax is dried, amazing designs and pictures can be carefully etched out on the egg with fine, sharp tools, done by a very skilled hand. Different materials including bee’s wax, straw, watercolors, onion peels, stickers are used to decorate the eggs. As a part of the tradition in Czechoslovakia, on Easter Monday young girls give their decorated Easter eggs to the boy of their crush. Today, during the Easter season, the Catholic churches will make and sell these painted eggs, along with the Kolaches, nut roll, lekvar roll, poppy seed roll, and apricot rolls. We used try to collect these pieces of egg art, but they were expensive and hard to find because they sell out quickly. However, my grandfather worked the craft so we had several to keep.
The Catholic religion has another tradition. The day before Easter Sunday, the parishioners fill a basket with these baked goods, cheeses, eggs, meats, salts, and wine. They bring these amazing decorated baskets to the altar overflowing with goodies. Beautiful colored bows are tied to the handles with embroidered cloths to cover the contents inside. Each of the food pieces represents something. Some also put candy in the baskets. The hard-cooked eggs symbolize new life or Christ rising from his tomb. Bread represents the bread of life given by God. Meat and sausages are symbols of the resurrected Christ, horseradish represents accepting the bitter with the sweet in life, and vinegar symbolizes the sour wine given to Jesus on the cross. Salt is to add zest to life and preserve us from corruption, and sweets suggest the promise of eternal life or good things to come. There is a noon mass, and the baskets are lined up at the altar. It’s quite a sight to see. The Priest comes out and blesses the baskets with Holy Water, says a prayer, and tells a story about the tradition of the food baskets. The story is about the beginning of this Catholic tradition. The people would bring their food in baskets to the church to be blessed because they had been fasting in honor of the Easter celebration. The Priest had to make the foods holy by praying over the baskets and blessing them with holy water before it was eaten. Today, many of the parishioners fast the entire day and night before Easter Sunday, then eat their basket of food at home after the morning mass.
The Catholic Churches keep the tradition by honoring Moravian Day. Those in the congregation participate with attire, the clothing worn by the men and women who live in Czechoslovakia. Usually after the church mass, they will have a luncheon buffet and the dancers will perform for those who attend the luncheon. Czech/Moravian traditional costumes are beautifully embroidered, and consist of quite the get-up. For the women, bloomers, undershirt, white blouse with flouncy sleeves and vest, layers of petticoats, full red shirt, apron, belt, black boots, and accessories are brightly displayed, including a colorful head scarf. Men dress in black pants, boots, embroidered vests, a decorative belt, and a black hat with a red scarf hat band. These days, it’s rare to find a Moravian Club or Organization where these ethnic traditions can be carried out. In these Czechoslovakia, or Moravian Clubs, not only ethnic dress and good dancing is involved, but lots of good Czechoslovakia Moravian food.
Haluski is a Polish and Slovakian dish of origin. Haluski is made with fried noodles and sweet cabbage, butter, onion, and salt to taste. Klobasy, a polish type of seasoned sausage, can also be added to the dish to make heartier meal. Perogies are a type of boiled dough resembling the size of raviolis, filled with cheese or mashed potatoes, and fried in caramelized onions with butter. Some people use olive oil instead. I still use the standard butter for my Haluski and Perogies. The taste is too wonderful to not do so. Globs of sour cream on the top of the fried Perogies give them that extra flavor. Halupki is also another very popular food. A head of cabbage is boiled to tender. While it cools, a pound or more of beef, pork, or veal, and egg, is mixed in a bowl with cooked white rice, seasoning of choice, to taste. Take the leaves of cabbage one by one, fill with the meat mixture and roll it tightly to resemble a pillow. Lay it in a very large baking pan, one on top of the other. Continue with this pattern until the cabbage is used up. Then pour tomatoes sauce generously over the stuffed cabbage. Lay a few bacon strips on the top of the cabbages and then bake about an hour. I’ve learned to spice-up my Halupki by using a thicker tomato paste, with extra seasoning, and use bacon stripes also between the layers of the stuffed cabbage. I must confess that I have never made the hand sketched eggs, nor have I learned the Moravian dance, but I can bake the traditional baked goods and meal dishes. I’m glad to have been able to experience the wonderful traditions of my ethnic roots. I can only hope that the generations to follow will carry on.
12 Jan 2013 Leave a Comment
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Report
According to the 2008, it seems that religion, no matter what denomination or sect, regardless of the mutual idea that religion can remedy all situations, seem to cause more problems and complications in society, than not. As for the atheists, 49% agree with this statement, although I see they cause complications trying to tear religion down (Landscape Survey 15). Interestingly, 74% of US citizens believe in heaven, while only 59% of them believe in hell (Landscape Survey 33). I see this as denial, when the Bible clearly states that there is a hell waiting in the end for those who have denied the deity of God and His son, Jesus Christ. On the chart shown on page 33 in chapter one of The Public Forum on Religion and Public Life, had they listed Christian or Non Denominational along with the others, their mark would have read 100% mark for believing that there is a heaven, and 100% mark for believing that there is a hell. Why they are not on listed the chart is a mystery to me and feels a bit discriminatory. So technically, this would raise the percentage of those who do and do not believe in heaven and hell, therefore making the statistics incorrect.
I tend to believe that religion causes conflict if used as a weapon such as in radical demonstrations, protests for a cause, or raging an outright war such as the Protestant/Catholic War in Ireland, lasting for decades, killing thousands of Scotts and English Protestant settlers during the year of 1641 (Irish Confederate Wars Wikipedia). Religion seems to conflict with the standard Hollywood ideals. It also conflicts with woman’s rights, the choice for pro-abortion. Many people have tied themselves to abortion tables or lay under cars to prevent women from committing the act at an abortion clinic. A few doctors have been murdered by religions do-gooders (Demotex). Hate crimes are committed in the name of religion, such as the radical Muslim religion, Islam; the Twin Towers for example. Murder is what their god demands. The Klu Klux Klan is based on extreme hate for the Black race, Jews, and the gay society (Voices yahoo.com).
I find that religion and society is not so much a matter of influence, but rather, indirectly, it’s opinion and practicing of that opinion, more often forcibly. The larger percent of religious groups will always have a stronger voice. For example, just because Christians are completely 100% anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage, will not change or influence the outcome of a government bill. Gay marriage still prevails in several states and abortion still goes on, opinion or not. Other religious controversies include great debates about displaying the Ten Commandments in certain venues, using the word God in the pledge of allegiance, prayer in school, and even using the name of God printed on money. The Atheists and other non-religious groups seem to fight harder to remove anything that has to do with God from the public eye, adding to the fight for religious freedom.
Religion may tend to shape political views to a degree. I believe depending on what a certain religion believes in, will depend on what candidate gets the most votes by various groups, and depends upon the words of promise that the candidate speaks ahead of time, before Election Day. However, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, claim to be liberal, so their vote is basically redundant. (Landscape Survey 17). As a personal experience, those who are of the Jehovah Witness religion do not vote at all. Could it be that possibly because these religions are rallying for nothing to help them in the present or future is why they are all lackadaisical toward politics? Basically, it would then seem that the majority of those who shape political views would be the Democrats and the Republicans, and whatever other religious sect this would involve.
Religion within the prison walls appears to be an entity in itself. According to the Pew Forum, it is crucial to continue to have religious outlets for the incarcerated. Considering the chart below, it is obvious that religion is used for a form of control by certain sects within the prison. I’m not sure if it is a productive idea for the prison system to make accommodations such as this. I feel that this could be encouraging the inmates that prison is not punishment but rather a place of freedoms that even the outside world would not be willing to accommodate. I believe the prison systems are possibly trying to sidebar the reality of where the inmate is and why they are there. While I do believe religion should be accessible in the prison system, I don’t believe it should be so extreme to those who demand accommodations (PewForum: Religious Accommodations). Just as the Catholic religion is a cult and a society in its own rite. The Pope plays a major role in the Catholic world. The Pope acts as a dictator. He calls the rules and laws and then removes the rules and laws and the people follow whichever way he desires. He even has the power to declare an aberration to be or not to be authentic. Also, the Priest in the Catholic religion, by their law, is the only one who can talk to God exclusively to ask forgiveness of the petitioner’s sins (Wikipedia Duties of a Priest). As big a part that the Pope may play in the Catholic religion, his influence counts for nothing in government and political decisions. He is a dictator in his own right. His position is one of controlling masses of people. It is also interesting that the people are afraid to not follow his laws. Whereas those who are non-denominational feel they can sin and repent and sin and repent and all is well under the mercy of a forgiving God. I think if a person is facing the pleasure of sin, then looks ahead knowing they will face a man in a confessional booth to proclaim their offense, they are more likely to not go ahead with their fornication, where as the Christian follower of Jesus may take the chance and sin, knowing he or she can go into his or her own room and confess directly to God and be forgiven. Who is more likely to obey the laws of God?
I believe it’s pretty much agreed that religion can harm or help society around the world. It is agreed that we need someone or something to fill the everlasting void we feel within. Some people feel that supernatural happenings are required to constitute the function of a religious belief or sect. Belief in God can either help or heal. And many don’t agree on what happens in the end. I guess it depends on the demographics.
11 Jan 2013 Leave a Comment
Novels Essay Research Assignment
There are no barriers separating upper and lower social class categories when it comes to emotional devastation. In the Novels, The Bluest Eye and The Great Gatsby, both authors shed light upon the issues of troubled lives in two social class families. The characters in both novels come from opposite backgrounds and opposite social class status, yet their trials and traumas are very similar, including in marriage.
In the novel, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, she tells a story about a family named the Breedloves. They are a poverty stricken Black family of four, living life in a rundown home, are uneducated, and their physical appearance is lacking much to be desired. She describes their appearance as wearing a “cloak of ugliness (39).” Mrs. Breedlove, as she is referred to in the novel, is married to a man named Cholly. Mrs. Breedlove, Pauline, deals with her brazen, demanding, uncaring husband Cholly, by fighting back verbally and physically (43-44). She knows she’ll never leave Cholly because her social status keeps her chained to dealing with what life has handed out to her. She is unattractive, Black, and her options for love are limited. The author describes their surrounds as having one huge room divided by beaverboard planks, one toilet bowl without facilities, and furniture handed down from state to state. Their home is partitioned into two rooms, short of reaching the ceiling, equaling a living room and one bedroom. The three iron beds are described as narrow. There is a coal stove in the center of the bedroom to distribute heat evenly through the house. They have no bath facilities, except a toilet bowl. Also, two sofas, an upright piano, and a tiny two year standing, artificial Christmas tree, a small end table and a “wardrobe” closet. She says, there’s nothing more to say about the furnishing. It is aged, and handed down, even from state to state, except for the new sofa that they had purchased. But it had been gashed when moving it to their home—the gash soon becoming a gaping chasm exposing the even cheaper upholstery (34-39). Her escape is to work outside of the home for a rich White family, cleaning and taking care of their little girl who she seems to favor over her own children. She indulges in the luxury of the possessions of others while her two children, Pecola who is eleven, and Sammy who is fourteen, and Cholly, never get to taste the pleasures of her daily escape (127-28). At the end of the day, she goes back to the lowlife way of living, the lack of luxury or even middle class living, the deprivation of the love and attention she once experienced in her younger years when her husband perused her. Mrs. Breedlove has no option for a lover as she is described as an ugly woman. She doesn’t escape into the arms of a lover, but rather into lovely surroundings, feeling needed, wanted, and indispensible. The Breedloves have no outside influential friends to help them or come to their rescue if needed.
In the novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, he tells a story about a family named the Buchanans. They are a wealthy family of three, living in a very elaborate mansion-style house, well educated, and beauty is in their physical appearance. Daisy took her face in her hands as if feeling its lovely shape (16). Tom is muscle built; shinning arrogant eyes (7). The Buchanas home is described as a Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay; a quarter-mile lawn from beach to front door, brick walks and burning gardens (6); a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep pungent roses, and a snub-nosed mother-boat. French windows, wine colored rug, with an oversized long couch, long flowing curtains, and rugs (8); a library, a crimson room, a chain of connecting verandas to the front porch, and wicker settee (16-17).
Daisy deals with her husband named Tom, by acting pretentiously happy, carefree and lively. Tom has disrespect for women in general. He’s having an affair, but his lover Myrtle comes from lower class (24-26). Daisy fights back by indulging in an affair with a now-wealthy ex-boyfriend, Jay Gatsby, who moves back to the area after being gone many years (86). However, in her heart, she knows she’ll never leave Tom because he is her security, having worked and provided money to support her as opposed to her ex lover Jay Gatsby, who inherited his wealth, so he claimed (129-34). Daisy stays in her superficial life knowing Tom is an unfaithful man. She has the beauty to continue escaping from her marriage if she so desires, and the affordability to come back when she pleases. Her affairs make her feel needed, wanted, loved and much desired.
Abuse and violence is apparent in the two men in the novels. One man is upper social class, one is lower social class. Both are abusive to women. Tom Buchanan breaks the nose of a woman named Myrtle, his adulteress girlfriend (37). Cholly Breedlove beats his wife, Mrs. Breadlove (43-44). Even after Myrtle is killed by Daisy’s hit and run, and Gatsby is murdered by Wilson, Myrtles husband, both Tom and Daisy leave town not caring about the deaths of the two who are dead, even though they each had apparently held love for them (138, 164). Cholly Breedlove, drinks, gets drunk. But strangely enough, the author states that Pauline needs Chollys sins so she could feel higher and more powerful than him (42). Tom Buchanan drinks and gets drunk
Both marriages overflow with unhappiness and deceit. One marriage is centered on an over abundance of money and wealth, and the other is laced with shameful poverty and disgrace. Both women in each of the novels find their own way of escaping the bondage of loneliness, but never find a solution. Both are opposite social class, yet very much the same—depression in poverty and depression in prosperity.
There is also acceptance by association and rejection by association. Pecola is constantly rejected by her peers because she is associated with the Black race, she’s poor, and she’s not attractive. She is accepted by Frieda and Claudia, her two best friends, who are also associated with the Black race, and are poor. Nick, though he’s not rich, is accepted into the high life because of Daisy, who is his cousin, and is very wealthy by being associated with her husband Tom, who is very wealthy. Even Jay Gatsby accepts Nick, who is associated with Daisy, because he wants Nick to lure Daisy over to his home. Jay Gatsby, who in essence is not rich, is accepted by having been associated with someone who had money and left him an inheritance, and he became rich. Nick also had an affair with a wealthy lady named Jordon who was associated with his cousin Daisy.
According to an article from a scholarly journal called, Poverty, social inequality and mental health, written by Vijava Murali and Femi Oyebode, alcohol and substance misuse, personality disorders, and moods disorders, are among several oppressive emotional damages that are caused as a result of being subjected to a poverty level type of social class life style. Cholly fit the mode. He drank, beat his wife, and eventually raped his own daughter. Prior to this, his life was surrounded by those who traditionally lived in poverty (38-40). Toni Morrison talks about Cholly being wrapped in two blankets and a newspaper by his mother when he was four days old, and placed on a junk heap. But his Aunt Jimmy saw the event and saved him, beating his mother with a razor strap (133). Apparently his mother also acted out on the affects of her social class.
Effect of poverty on children: Children in the poorest households are three times more likely to have a mental illness than children in the best-off households (Department of Health, 1999b). This seems to apply in relation to Pecola becoming obsessed with wanting blue eyes, thinking this would be her answer to become attractive, and her ugliness would fade away and society would accept her presence and appearance. At the end of the story, she lost her mind to the illusion that she had received her blue eyes, this as a result of failed trickery (giving her poison to feed to his dog) by a man who was supposed to be able to have performed this miracle for her (173-76, 193-204).
Tim Hartford’s article in Forbes says, Economists have suddenly realized that money can’t buy you happiness. Daisy believed money could make her happy. But Daisy was still very unhappy though she was rich and ended up in an endless state of loneliness. Pecola failed to understand that blue eyes would not change her poverty status or her overall physical appearance. Pecola believed blue eyes could make her happy. John Cloud’s article in Time Health states, “a team of three authors reviewed 37 previous papers on the psychological effects of cosmetic surgery; the papers dated back to 1960 and, overall, included more than 3,300 test subjects. The authors concluded that most people do feel better psychologically after undergoing cosmetic surgery, especially breast reductions.”
I believe that rich and wealthy people sometimes feel they are above the law. To me, this is a sign of psychosis, such as those who suffer from the mental issues associated with social inequality. Daisy and Tom Buchanan covered up the death of two people, Myrtle and Jay. Though this is a fictional story, in real life sometimes (more than not), rich and wealthy people also feel they are above the law, such as in the case of Michael Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, the widow of the late Robert F. Kennedy. For twenty years he got away with the brutal murder of a fifteen year old neighbor girl, Martha Moxley, who he beat to death with a golf club, in 1960. Though he was always a suspect, he was never arrested until 2002 when the bloody golf club that he used in the murder was found in the attic of the house by the new owners.
Unfortunately in the theory of “six degrees of separation,” it seems that Mrs. Breadlove and her family never discovered their connection.