Saturday, September 28, 2013

More About Religion

I know I have written about religion before, so I was reviewing my past entries to see what I had written. I talked some about moral and ethical issues, but not so much about where I stand on religion. It's a sticky topic, but I spend a great deal of time thinking about it, so I wanted to write about it. Maybe get an idea of where I stand.

A little over 18 years ago, I had a spiritual experience where I felt God convince me that I had to leave the life I was living. I had a burning bush experience. It is etched deeply in my memory, and I can attest to a strong and unshakable belief in Gad. I would not be here today otherwise. Immediately after that experience I was introduced to AA. The first 2 or 3 years I was a member I attended anywhere up to 11 meetings a week. I learned to pray and think about God in a way I could understand in a roomful or people from all walks of life, poor and homeless to wealthy steel heirs, from followers of Islam to Christians, to Jews. I attended meetings that were predominately gay,only women, newcomers, in mental health centers, the veterans administration hospital, the Birmingham City Jail and at the Salvation Army. Some meetings I went to, I was one of the few white people there, many meetings I went to, I was one of the only woman there. I went to meetings when I went out of town in New Orleans and even in Paris. (yes France). I was a regular in meetings in Beaufort, SC. Occasionally I went to meetings where I may have been only one of two people in attendance not locked up.

All 12 Steps are necessary for recovery, but none are more important in my view than the first 3 as written in the 2nd edition of Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 

That brings me to what's been on my min and "as we understood Him." This is what I know about God. He is a being of my own understanding that guides me. I learn how he guides me when I am vigilant about morning prayer and meditation and I listen to or feel His guidance. That's the whole thing for me. It's really very simple.

 Then there is religion. I'm trying to come to grips with religion. I want to bring my son up in a caring, responsible way, and I want him to find God of his understanding without having to crawl into the bottom of a bottle. The only way I know how to do that is by sending him to a local church and setting a good example for him. So I find myself once again at a crossroads of whether or not to attend church and what I hope to gain from that.

This is what I'm thinking. I want Sunshine to identify strongly with his community, and I want to be a permanent part of a community.I want to do good works. I would love to be part of missions, particularly to serve the poor or mentally ill. I want to be part of a group of people that are trying to live the best life they can by exemplifying the teachings of Christ. I want to learn how to lead a better life and develop the kind of relationship I had with God when I went to AA. I want to be a good example fro my son.I do want to sing loudly and joyously.

I don't want to be put into a box where there is only one way to believe and one way to get to heaven. I don't want to be judged because my religious and political views are a little different, my personality is a little odd and my clothes look a little funny. I don't want to feel nervous or pressured.

So tomorrow I go.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm Mad

 I'm mad and I'm going to tell you why. I'll start with an anecdote then explain what I mean. Last year I earned and was awarded what is often recognized as the highest honor in the teaching profession, National Board Certification. At the beautiful reception the President of National Boards talked about how teachers should be treated more like professionals, such as doctors and lawyers but we had to present ourselves as professionals and fight for that treatment. Oh, I agreed wholeheartedly when I was listening, I surely did. I swallowed it hook, line and sinker, but the obstacles are invisible and in this society nearly impossible to hurdle.
    So here is why I am mad. Maybe you see all those funny Memes on Facebook and Pinterest about how a teacher brings her/his work home and is always working on lesson plans or whatever. THAT IS NOT A JOKE! I read countless emails, professional journals and websites on nights when I don't have any other work to do. I communicate with parents and teachers on my off hours daily. I work on newsletters, websites, promotions and planning hours and hours a week, and I'm not even what you would call hard working. My colleagues do all of this, and grade papers, and papers and papers. Their life is consumed with their work, their practice, their career, however our compensation and level of respect is cursory at best. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, we do this because we love it. We love kids. But heaven help, people need to realize we are professionals.
    Another point, I tend to a liberal political view, but this whole pay fast food workers a living wage is bullshit. I'm barely paid a living wage, in fact I would be hard pressed to make it on a single income and I have two master's degrees and am Nationally Board Certified. Pay me a comparable wage! And no, I did not have the benefit of a loving, supportive family that helped me achieve my goals. I worked for them! I paid for them! I am still paying for them! And no, I'm not shocked at the amount of my student loans, I signed the papers.  If the bleeding heart commies want people to make a better wage, why don't they work for dully funded schools that offer alternative job training and leave the fast food jobs to teenagers, who need to work and stop living off their parents!
    So often I see little quotes about how precious our children are, how they are the future, we must educate them! YES! But put your money where your mouth is! Fund schools! I spent all day telling kids they couldn't afford to buy things in my book fair because they didn't have enough money. Why the hell do I have to run a book fair anyway to buy library books and electronics? Aren't the nations's future leaders in my hands? I should spend 30 hours running a store and dressing up like a funny character to raise money when Nick Saban (yes, I'm attacking the Almighty Saban) makes 5 and one half million dollars a year to coach football! Really?
    This whole idea of an educator working in any kind of public school setting just being grateful they have a job is wrong! Teachers as a lot are taken advantage of because we are care-takers, we just want to teach, we don't want to rant and rave. Heck, we don't even mind so much all the extra time we spend preparing for our job. But we are educated professionals, and we should be treated as such. Remember, we are teaching the future. We shouldn't have to fight to be recognized as professionals, but revered because we teach. Every single parent who has enrolled a child in a public school, and has uttered the words I want what is best for my kids, should be fighting for us to be valued as professionals.