Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Spirit of the Santa Ana Winds

Mother Earth at her most fierce: Cleansing the chaos!

Crews battle wildfire near Malibu

MALIBU, California (AP) -- Firefighters made progress Wednesday against a wildfire burning in chaparral in the hills above Malibu. Several schools were closed as a precaution, and the fire crews there and in Orange County worried about the wind picking up again.
The fire above Malibu covered only 25 acres but it moved between two canyons a few miles from the Pepperdine University campus.
The canyons are historical fire corridors, carrying wind-driven wildfires that swept from the Calabasas area to Malibu in 1993 and 1996, destroying hundreds of homes.
"The whole Malibu area has had a history of fire," Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Sam Padilla said.
Crews doused the main body of fire in a few hours and concentrated on smaller hot spots, but wind up to 40 mph and 90-degree temperatures were forecast later in the day.
"It's definitely a concern. ... it's going to get hotter and drier," Los Angeles County fire Inspector John Mancha said.
There was no immediate threat to homes. The fire apparently was started by a vehicle fire, authorities said.
In Orange County, another blaze had blackened 7,000 acres in the Cleveland National Forest, just east of the cities of Orange and Anaheim, said Dennis Shell, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority.
The temperature was rising there, too, along with the humidity and a threat of increased wind.
"Today's going to be a very critical day for us," Shell said.
Authorities believed the Orange County fire developed from a controlled burn started on February 2, when no Santa Ana wind was predicted for at least five days, said Rich Hawkins of the Cleveland National Forest. (Full story)
Prescribed burns in the forest have been temporarily suspended, he said.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Memo to A Leader on "God"

This was sent to a dear spiritual leader recently:

I’ve been thinking about our debate on the use of language and how to reference “God” and wanted to share some thoughts with you. I know how important it is to not become attached to any word or symbol, and to not let it cloud our vision of what truly “IS”. However, I do believe strongly in God/Goddess being in balance, and God encompassing everything and everyone. While I do not wish to use ‘Goddess” in order to create a duality, I wish to use God and Goddess to diminish a separateness that has been created by making God male in nearly every world religion. The use of both is really about including rather than excluding, and to me, it actually erases a duality that is already there by bringing the faith into balance.

I understand that while you may understand that when we refer to God as “He” or “Him” we understand it’s just a word - a reference. Unfortunately, many people do not understand that and absorb this unconsciously as God being male. This subconscious belief has contributed to centuries of male delusions of superiority and consequently, centuries of female oppression. The Pagans and Druids understood the importance of balance in nature, on earth, and in spiritual life, and consequently believed in a multitude of Gods and Goddesses. While the idea of worshipping one God is important, in that it recognizes that God is in all of us – that we are One, I do feel it is our duty to undo the masculine genderization of God and work to transform the negative impact this has had on the imbalance of male/female energies on the planet.

Take for example, Jamaica. The country is famous for harnassing the powerful beliefs associated with Rastafari, which focuses on all of us being “One” which is, of course, true. However, because of its roots in a male God, this manifests itself in Jamaica as all men being One – in reality, women are not a part of this Oneness, they become less than human in the men’s eyes, and are objectified in violent ways. Their world is a great example of the rest of the universe, in that the oppression of women has thrown them out of balance and created outrageous violence in a country that believes in one of the most gentle religions out there.

Just like it’s not OK to exclude a black person or Native American person from Godliness, it’s not ok to exclude women, and unfortunately, many women do feel excluded by the single use of the word God and He/Him. I’d like use rather “the Creator”, the “Higher Power” or “God and Goddess” and when personifying God and Goddess, I’d like to use “Him and Her” or “She and He” interchangeably, or, ideally, use a non-gender word. God and Goddess is, after all, both genders and neither genders, and I feel it is appropriate!

Here are some links I’d like to share with you as well, to further highlight my thoughts, perspectives and beliefs.

Religious Tolerance on the Goddess

Religious Tolerance on the Druid

Think Quest

The Goddess: (this one has some excellent links as well that discuss Jesus’ relationship to the Goddess)

And if you haven’t already picked up the Da Vinci Code – a testament to the lost sacred Feminine….: The Fellowship .

American Mason

And this paragraph in Wikipedia’s article, “God and Gender” sort of sums up, for me, why it’s difficult to stomach the persistent use of “God”:

“An argument for using female symbols for God arises from the practical effects of God-language on the readers. Imagery for God helps people understand the world. The way a faith community talks about God indicates what it considers the highest good, the profoundest truth. This language, in turn, molds the community's behavior, as well as its members' self-understanding. The fact that Jews and Christians ordinarily speak about God in the image of a male ruler can be problematic. For feminist theology, the difficulty does not lie with the male metaphors. Men as well as women are created in the image of God. The problem lies in the fact that the specific male images reflect a patriarchal arrangement of the world, casting God into the mold of an omnipotent, even if benevolent, monarch. God's maternal relation to the world is eclipsed.”

Also on Wikipedia, this paragraph address what you and I were talking about, which in essence says that if you make God female, you draw attention to God as having a gender or duality, but if we call God male, God is genderless, or without duality. This argument, to me, is a double standard which doesn’t make much sense:

“In regard to translating Hebre names of God into English, most Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews hold that it is wrong to use English female pronouns for God; their reason is not because God is of the male gender, but because doing so among English speakers tends to draw attention to God as having gender.”

Just like Martin Luther King Jr. had to stand up for his people, I have to stand up for women every chance I get. While I try to stay away from becoming stuck on identifying myself as a woman, when I am much more than that, I still have to do my part to bring an end to injustice in the world, and this is deeply integrated into my spiritual beliefs.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ghana, Ghana, Ghana, Ghana: By Heidi Schnakenberg

Another Reason The Enclave is Necessary

This is an excellent excerpt from www.globalissues.org, which summarized feminists' reaction to the Abhu Graib scandals. Barbara Ehrenreich's last statement says it all.

Go with the Goddess: One Love

Women, Militarism and Violence

It is often argued -- and accepted -- that women, being the “gentler sex”, and typically being the main care givers in society, are less aggressive than men. Feminists often argue that women, if given appropriate and full rights, could counter-balance a male-dominated world which is characterized by aggression in attitudes, thoughts, society and, ultimately, war.

In May 2004, the Occuptation/Coalition forces in Iraq were shown around the world to be committing torture and other grotesque acts on Iraqi captives. For feminists and others, what was also shocking was that some of these acts were being perpetrated by women in the U.S. military.

Feminist activist Barbara Ehrenreich captures some of the thoughts and reactions quite well:

Secretly, I hoped that the presence of women [in the U.S. army] would over time change the military, making it more respectful of other people and cultures, more capable of genuine peacekeeping. That's what I thought, but I don't think that anymore.

A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naivete, died in Abu Ghraib [the prison facility from where most of the torture pictures and footage originated]. It was a feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice. Rape has repeatedly been an instrument of war and, to some feminists, it was beginning to look as if war was an extension of rape. There seemed to be at least some evidence that male sexual sadism was connected to our species' tragic propensity for violence. That was before we had seen female sexual sadism in action.

... But the assumption [within feminism] of [women's] superiority [over men], or at least a lesser inclination toward cruelty and violence, was more or less beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.

... If that assumption had been accurate, then all we would have had to do to make the world a better place -- kinder, less violent, more just -- would have been to assimilate into what had been, for so many centuries, the world of men.

... What we need is a tough new kind of feminism with no illusions. Women do not change institutions simply by assimilating into them, only by consciously deciding to fight for change. We need a feminism that teaches a woman to say no -- not just to the date rapist or overly insistent boyfriend but, when necessary, to the military or corporate hierarchy within which she finds herself.

Barbara Ehrenreich, What Abu Ghraib Taught Me, Alternet, May 20, 2004

Towards the end of the article, Ehrenreich notes that gender equality often appears to be limited to allowing women to have equality in a male-dominated world, meaning women struggle to have rights to do what men do. But, if what men are doing is generally seen as negative, then gender equality in that context is not enough. As she ends:

To cite an old, and far from naive, feminist saying: “If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low.” It is not enough to be equal to men, when the men are acting like beasts. It is not enough to assimilate. We need to create a world worth assimilating into.

Barbara Ehrenreich, What Abu Ghraib Taught Me, Alternet, May 20, 2004

Upcoming Fundraiser for Manavi

Attached is a notice I received from Manavi.org, a wonderful organization which supports ending violence against South Aisan women. If you're in the New York/New Jersey area in late March - attend their fundraiser to show your support!
Upcoming Manavi Fundraiser Notice
Please SAVE THE DATE!

Manavi, an organization for South Asian women, based in NJ will be holding its 21st Anniversary Community Dinner and Fundraiser on MARCH 31, 2006. We would be delighted if you would attend the event and bring your family and friends!

What: Manavi's 21st Anniversary Community Dinner / Fundraiser
When: Friday, March 31, 2006, 6:30 PM
Where: Akbar Restaurant, 21 Cortlandt St, Edison, NJ 08837
Guest Speaker: Bapsi Sidhwa, acclaimed novelist and author of Cracking
India (which was made into the film "Earth" by director Deepa Mehta)
Performance By: Nayikas Dance Theater Company

Our dinner/fundraiser is our most important annual event and brings together a diverse array of members from various South Asian communities. It is a time of celebration and reflection and importantly, it is a space for survivors to speak out against the violence they have faced and receive community support.

About Manavi - founded in 1985, Manavi was the first South Asian women's organization in the United States and has been at the forefront of the anti-violence against South Asian women movement in the US for twenty years. We receive nearly 300 calls each year from women who are survivors of, or currently facing, some form of violence. Our services are confidential and free. To find out more about the work Manavi does, please visit
www.manavi.org.

We look forward to seeing you all there!!

Thank you,

Manavi Staff


__________________________________________________________________
Manavi (An Organization for South Asian Women)
P.O. Box 3103
New Brunswick, NJ 08903
Ph: 732-435-1414
Fax: 732-435-1411
manavi@manavi.org
www.manavi.org

On Why A Balanced World Can Even Bring You Greater Profits!

See Catalyst Women's report on gender diversity in the workplace and its financial rewards.

http://www.catalystwomen.org/files/full/financialperformancereport.pdf

Any woman who has worked in an office understands just how amazingly competent they are in that environment compared to....

I won't say it, but you all know what I'm talking about! It's just a shame that so few women get to shine because of that ridiculous glass ceiling...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Heroes: By Heidi Schnakenberg

We are in such dire need of heroes at this stage in the world-game, but, as Dr. Estes says, we were made for these times and there are many individuals out there already making change.

Eckhart Tolle
www.eckharttolle.com
The author of today's bible, "The Power of Now." Words are not enough to revere this holy man. He is truly a warrior in the battle for peace, and a warrior in the battle to reclaim the soul.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
http://ayaanhirsiali.web-log.nl/categorie/46044
Our brave leader, unafraid and willing to risk her life and culture for the betterment of womankind. We should all be filled with such courage.

One Angry Girl
http://www.oneangrygirl.net/
One of few websites that unabashedly sees most pornography for what it is: a tool in the conspiracy against womankind, and an insidious, socially-accepted form of pure oppression.

Ghana: The Heart of the African Continent
Ghana is the most special country on the planet, and is ripe for social revoluation. Ghana could very well be the homeland of pure, positive energy. You can be exactly who you want to be there. It is a country which is slow on women's empowerment, but is very open to the debate. It is easy to be a woman there when you know your choices, even when at first glance, it doesn't seem up to par with developed countries. Ghana has enough pure light to be a leader in world peace - we just have to get there before the West takes over.
See, "What to Expect in Ghana": http://www.newtimesonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1041&Itemid=226

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes - Our Inspiration

Letter To A Young Activist During Troubled Times

by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement...

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind... Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?...

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take "everyone on Earth" to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, \causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

This comes with much love and a prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D
Author of the best seller Women Who Run with the Wolves

Why The Enclave Is Necessary

We are fast approaching the destruction of Mother Earth - a process that has been in motion for centuries, since the energies of male and female were thrown off-balance. Time has been unforgiving, and it's taught us only one thing: only through balance can the earth and all of its life sustain itself.

The persistent onslaught of male energy for the last thousand years has corrupted mankind, raped Mother Earth, and is slowly killing off humans and all life on the planet. This is not to blame and judge men or women - we have all been unconciously lost and rightly corrupted by all of the power handed to men. And men have been duped into thinking their physical strength was a symbol of world power, and a birthright to destroy and oppress anyone weaker than them.

Women must either step up to the plate and undo centuries of men dividing and conquering us, or continue quivering in the corner and watch their Earth, their children, and themselves die a slow miserable death.

Only the unification of women can save the destructive path mankind is on. Women - save your children, your men, and yourselves, or watch Mother Earth violently purge us all in order to save Her planet.