Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Monday, November 08, 2004

This is a picture of the Rev. Dr. Orlando H. Milligan taken at a Moore family reunion in New Concord, Ohio in the early 1950's. Uncle Orr was the husband of my great aunt Ivy Moore Milligan, who was the sister of my grandfather James Russell Moore (Caleb Russell Soria's great-great-grandfather) and also the sister of my great uncle Paul Miller Moore, once Supreme Grand Master Top Dog of the Knights Templar in the United States. Uncle Orr was the son of a carpenter, and he was an accomplished carpenter in addition to being a nationally know clergyman. He was also an avid organic gardener, and had a big compost pile behind his house, which was across from the house I grew up in on Brodhead Road in Aliquippa, Pa. Uncle Orr was for years the head pastor of the Avalon United Presbyterian Church, in Avalon, Pa., one of Pittsburgh's suburbs. He was the Corresponding Secretary of the national United Presbyterian Church for many years. I think he was very supportive of harmony in the cosmic ecosystem.
Rhona McMahan

Speaking From The Christian Left

At this point in my life, at an age when many people are turning toward religion, I havebecome increasingly sceptical of all religions. The most I can say is that humans have a need for spiritual expression in their lives. There seems to be the potential for good in almost all religions, with good being defined by me as the encouragement of actions which maintain life giving balance for the cosmic eco-system, and particularly for the eco-system of earth.

Many of my friends have a pagan orientation, partially because queer people find affirmation within the ancient pagan belief systems. I am not sure, but I think that the famous world religions grew out of opposition to pagan spirituality, which explains their continued opposition to queer people. Many Jews and Moslems and Christians oppose queer people unthinkingly because they are simply accepting the dogma used by their early leaders to differentiate their belief system from the traditional pagan beliefs.

I recently took the little quiz included in the October 25, 2004, edition of Time Magazine which was meant to classify people with respect to spirituality. I came out to be "highly spiritual, even mystical" in my orientation. This did not surprise me because I have long known this, but it did surprise me that it would be reflected by my responses to 20 questions in Time Magazine.

My experience in organized religion over my lifetime has made me skeptical of it. My family has been Christian Calvinists for at least 300 years. I grew up with the nurture and admonition of the Presbyterian Church. Two of my uncles living in the small town where I grew up were Presbyterian ministers: Rev. Dr. Orlando H. Milligan, long-time corresponding secretary of the national United Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Dr. Chauncy Kirk McGeorge, a fire and brimstone preacher who was a leader in driving prostitution out of Steubenville, Ohio. With the church as a fundamental aspect of my family's life I developed a long history in organized religion, although I related mainly to the social action aspects of it.

I was a "youth leader" in the Presbyterian Church all the way through college. My first spouse majored in the "history and literature of religions" in college. After college we taught Sunday School together in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, and Lexington, Massachusetts. My second spouse and I were deeply involved in a left progressive Christian Church in Park Slope, Brooklyn for twenty years. I was the congregational historian and a Sunday School teacher during this time. Then I came out as a queer person, and to my surprise the mainstream Christian congregations were against me. Queer people were treated as second class people in the Presbyterian and Methodist congregations: no ordination, no marriage, keep it quiet, repent, and you may still be saved. I turned for a time to the Queer church, but the queers were too focused on sexuality for my taste. I did not want to be in a ghetto. I turned to the pagans, but they were too scattered and disorganized and weird to be exactly what I was looking for. Recently I have been attending a small Presbyterian Church which focuses on the plight of people caught in the prison system. It is not so bad, and stretches me to adopt concerns which are new to me.

Lately I have been feeling angry about the pre-emption of Christianity by the right wing. It is time to stop giving away "morality" to the limited definitions of the right. Christianity has always meant social action to me. Liberation Theology is attractive to me. It is time for the Christian left to stand up and express their views.

The important thing for the CHristian left to accept is that they will have to split their churches in this struggle. The Christian left has been ineffective because it will not stand up to the conservative right. They must be willing to say that social action and acceptance of all people, concern for the poor, concern for the disenfranchised are more important than holding together the church bureaucracy. The Christian left can never be effective unless they are willing to take a stand. If the national meetings of the congregations vote against stong social action, the left must be willing to say goodbye to the right. This has happened many times in the past. It is the way to achieve eventual healing. It is the way to return Christianity to its traditional path. Jesus was a firebrand for social action, not a patsy.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The Plea of a Morality Oriented Voter

My moral concerns were at the forefront of my choice of John Kerry for my vote in the presidential election of 2004. Not that I felt Kerry to be above reproach. I did see him as a man I trusted much much more than I trust Bush. When forced to speak in a short time frame he is capable a eloquence in support of moral values I tend to share with him, and with a lot of Democratic voters.

The aggressors in the struggle to reduce the influence of the West in the Middle East are desperate people using their most effective weapon in this phase of the struggle. My morality calls for an understanding of the motivations of the people of the Middle East. I believe that the moral thing to do is to start from the premise that humans should work on developing a culture which is in balance with our planet. I believe that we can achieve this through mutual respect and goodwill, although this will be a slow process during which adequate military force will have to be maintained.

I know that it is immoral to bomb, strafe, burn, and destroy civilian lives in Iraq. It is a immoral to ignore any concern or even discussion at the highest levels of government of the casualties we have caused and are causing in Iraq. It would be immoral if the US did not seek to hand over power to Iraqi leaders who have the confidence of the Iraqi people.

It is immoral to give unequal treatment to the highest social class in America, and to limit the opportunities for the lowest classes to participate in the system. It is immoral to give special tax treatment to different groups which are equal in citizenship, but vastly different in rights. Why should some family heads in America be given special treatment in comparisons with others. Are not the demands of family life and parenting equal throughout society?

The Gays and Lesbians made a huge error in pushing for the right to marry before the election. From the standpoint of morality, however, I believe that the moral position is acceptance of love between people as a positive factor. In my religious orientation I believe that Jesus represents love, especially in the sense of agape, and the spreading of love is the key to the survival of humans. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Jesus reduced the 10 comandments to one, and that one dealt with love. The miracle of the fishes is that love led to the whole multitude receiving the food which they needed. What is the economic message of that story?

Belief in Jesus does not imply a literal reading of the Bible.

I believe in Christian action in society to ameliorate the ills of society. I feel that both Chelsea and I are very motivated by a sense of Christian duty to society. I believe that Christians should be self-effacing about their religion. People should be helped without expecting them to accept the beliefs that I might have, although I would hope that they would adopt the path of understanding and conciliation.

Many of my friends are speaking of emigrating. Some liken the situation to that of Germany in the 1930's. I am not yet ready to emigrate. Maybe things are not as bad as we might think. This year I expect the continued devaluation of the dollar, an attempt by the President to cut taxes further but a revolt in Congress on both sides, increasing IMF lecturing of the US, difficulty in the US in financing the foreign deficit which will force the rasing of interest rates to draw in foreign capital but will cut employment. Iraq will become worse and worse. Here I hope that things will go the way the administration depicts them. Bush is going to sink or swim now. If he sinks, I hope it does not hurt all of us tremendously.

I have resolved to do one thing in the furture: point out the morality underlying the positions of liberal Christianity, and stop allowing the right to be the only "Christian" side. Read Bill Moyers' sermon at Riverside Church recently to see a sophisticated presentation of this position.

People close to the family are discussing who the baby looks like. Colin and Amanda see s resemblance to their mother, Sara. I have been looking through old pictures to find pictures of Amanda as a baby. I ran across this one, taken at Indiantown Gap State?? Park in 1980 on a visit to Sara's sister Barbara. I took the picture of Sara and Barbara which Sara has famed during this same excursion. Jonica was 10 and Amanda was 2. Jonica attended Amanda's birth and Caleb's birth.
Rhona McMahan

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Thoughts on President G Bush' Re-Election on November 2, 2004

I am a Kerry supporter, and was very subdued to hear that President Bush won the national vote, and seemed to have surpassed 270 votes in the Electoral College. Say it isn't so John.

I said to myself "well this is what it's like in a democracy...sometimes your side wins, and sometimes your side loses...think of Republicans as well meaning people just like yourself...find a way to bridge the divisions I feel with the evident majority of the country."

Then I thought "most of your life has been lived while a Republican was President. It was a Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt when I was born in 1941. Harry Truman, a Democrat, came in in 1945 upon Roosevelt's death. Eisenhower succeeded Truman, and was my first Republican President. He was revered in my family, and was even a fellow Presbyterian. His warning called the shot on the military industrial complex. John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, helped pull me away from being a Republican, along with college and graduate school. Then came LBJ, another Democrat, followed in 1968 by Nixon, the Republican. I always had a grudging admiration for him. He was very progressive in some ways in comparison with today's bunch. Jonica, my first child, was born in the midst of Nixon's first term, as bombs rained on Cambodia. Republican Gerry Ford was a nice even-keel guy, but I was glad when Democrat Jimmy Carter came in in 1976. By this time I was in New York, and Amanda was born in the middle of Carter's term. 1980 the election of Republican Ronald Reagan, Mr America. On a personal level I liked him a lot as seen through the TV tube. George Bush the First seemed to me to be a decent President. When Clinton came in in 1992 I was deep in transition crisis on all fronts, going through separation and divorce, and trying to stay in a good relationship as a parent with my children. The Clinton years were good for me and my family, as we got through many crises in reasonable form. The Bush years of Republicanism have also been reasonably good, although I dislike much in the Bush II policies and politics.

So it has been 31 Democrat years and 32 Republican years as of today. Not much of a disparity when you look at it.

I hope the second Bush term will reflect things that he learned during the first term, and from the criticism during the election.

Caleb was born just before President Bush was re-elected, while his mother was born in the middle of Jimmy Carter term as President. How will this shape their relationship? Let's hope that things go well for everyone.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Mother Amanda holds Caleb up so that Aunt Jonica can smile on his sleepy face. Jonica was Amanda and Caleb's support people along with Papa Gabe. As I remember it, Amanda became aware of steady contractions at around 1:00AM, which were coming at about 4 minutes apart. They got to the hospital at between 2:30 and 3:00AM. Jonica got to the hospital around 6:00AM, the contractions were still coming every 4 or 5 minutes apart by 7:30-8:00AM, and Amanda decided to request an epidural, and then around 10:30 AM after the administration of petosin the baby came on into the H2O atmosphere at 10:44, more-or-less just as I arrived at the hospital. Jonica took the actual "birthing" pictures, and has some on her film camera awaiting development too. The birth was quite different from Amanda's birth, which was at home in the bed her mother and father slept in every night. I thought the hospital birth set-up was a good comprise and that it seemed right for Amanda. I thought the baby was a bit affected by the drugs in the hours after birth because he was very quiet. Amanda also seemed to have a bit of a roller coaster for the first hours untill she got some rest. The biggest thing I notices was that the nurses took away Caleb for about an hour or two when they moved into the Newborn section of the hospital. The bothered Amanda, and it was somewhat shocking to all of us. There is a lot to be said for well organized and supported home births, but he key thing is the mother and baby come out of the experience in a healthy mode of liife. Gabe seemed to riding on cloud nine. A cd mix put together by Amber played throughout the birthing, which I really felt good about.
Rhona McMahan