Thank you to my followers and likers of sorts

Dear readers,

I’d like to thank all the followers and like people who have taken the time to read and like my work. This means a lot to me. I’d like to call on those blogs about dogs, and those blogs include Totally Dog Time and All About Paws, thank you for liking my guide dog post about how to include dogs for service in spiritual places of worship. This means a lot. Thank you.

What’s next for this blog? I still have yet to finish Brave New World, but this is on the way. You guys won’t be disappointed. But there are pressing issues we must discuss.

I’d also like to thank my buddy Katherine Moss for liking anything she liked, but yeah, I’m following your blog so we can like each other’s stuff. We need to talk more honestly, it’s awesome.

I’d also like to thank those who liked the shutting down Christian schools post. We really need to do this, and with five likes, this is a very good thing. Christian schools that don’t understand or tolerate sexual differences and or gender things should indeed be shuttered for good. This is because if Chloe the student says she has a crush on another female student, we shouldn’t mess with that. Love is love, no matter what. Sexual immorality is just another code for “we want women to submit and get hurt.” Not just women though, but others. To see the likes on that piece was really great. Please affirm the lives of other students who have been expelled from schools like this and if you are a teacher, don’t ever call your female students bossy or anything. That can get you an F for failure to teach a student.

I will be ending this piece on one note. I want shrimp tacos. Whatever.

Thank you readers for your likes, and I want you to email me at the following email address if you want to be part of the Throne Room podcast and get interviewed.

denverqueen@gmx.com

The email address is also where you people can put your comments and feedback for the blog, podcast, and other stuff. Please remember the feedback should be constructive, not destructive. Please also do not call me names, and follow the rules. There’s a couple pages on that, so read those.

Beth

My UU Adventures Volume 1: Safer Spaces In Many Places

Dear readers,

Yes, yes, you expected a Brave New World completion or something, but ain’t happenin’ now so just relax. I want to talk about my religious ventures, something I’m really happy about just happened. And it all began with a search on Google, god if I ever mention that again, I don’t know where I’ll be next day.

I want to first thank Lavender, one of my good friends, who lovingly refers to me as Spiralhead. She was the one who got me thinking in the UU direction, and her dad, Will, and his sband the Tribe, did some amazing stuff. I’m not gonna lie. But then, I decided to see if such a loving community of good beloved community could be found in my backyard. It began with me searching for a minister who would be willing to put together a wedding ceremony for me and Trenton, and we couldn’t do a wedding in a venue, but in that small apartment, we shared something incredible. So we had a small ceremony, a hybrid due to covid, in our apartment officiated by Jenny, who was intern minister for Jefferson Unitarian Church. Yes, it’s a UU church, and I found that my buddies in this church are amazing and my anxiety always seems to sneak up on me, but this church seems to understand that I can make decisions, including marriage. They also said that I had agency, and it’s in their actions more than their words. I want to say that Reverend Wendy was amazing in telling me where to go to get the care I need, but right now, I’m savoring the thought of Jenny doing bigger things in ministry. She has, as of this writing, yet to send me a big fluffy paper invite, well a digital fluffy invite, to her ordination ceremony. And guess what? This will be a lot more awesome than witnessing Holy Orders, which for those living under rocks, is a Catholic priest’s ordination ceremony where they take vows and drink to the bishop’s obedience and all that crap. I have no idea but I like the UU thing a lot better than the Catholic thing. Priests in Catholic churches are chosen by a fire and brimstone God and a bishop, and only males can make decisions. But in the UU church, women are leading, having agency, and protecting their decisions and decision making powers. Yes, I drink pop, but no, I don’t want a guardian policing purchases and food, and they acknowledge that I should have agency over my life, and that is a huge thing for me. I want to have children, this church promises they’ll bless the kids. The church will educate them in good religious teachings, positive and neutral teachings about everything, and allow them agency over whether to become a minister. My future daughters will have the ability to dream big, they will say, “Mommy, I want to be a minister in a church.” I will be the one saying, “You can do that, you have all the guts to do it. So get out and make it happen, girl.” I will say this to my daughter with a smile on my face, whether she’s six or sixteen. I will never let go, ever, of the thought of women leading. Reverend Wendy is amazing, and she is the best. I’ve been thinking about all the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the ugly stuff I’ve learnt over the years. And honestly, I don’t believe in just one male fire and brimstone God and his minions sitting on a throne, making all the decisions over a woman’s body. I like Jesus, I believe in his true teachings, but the people? Forget that. I can’t go to a so called Christian church, and I want to be able to raise a positively respectful family from the beginning. Thank you all for reading.

Beth

Passover: the Best Experience I’ve Ever Had

Dear readers,

I’m going to take a break from Brave New World the show and book comparison shenanigans, and I’m going to talk about Passover. This is something I’ve been a big part of for some time. Passover is a holiday commemorating the Jewish freedom from slavery on their own terms, but the story goes back further than just that moment when they fled Egypt crossing a low lying Red Sea.

First, we go back to the time of Exodus, maybe even further back. The Egyptians had a big problem. There were twelve sons of Israel, the Sons of Jacob (not to be confused with those nasty commander types but we’re talking about Jacob of Bethel, or Israel that became known as Bethlehem, the burial place of Rachel and he still had a wife named Leah.) So he had twelve sons, as written in Genesis. Those sons tried to get rid of Joseph, right? But Joseph had God on his side, went to Egypt, and escaped danger because he could interpret the dreams of his fellow inmates in prison where he was sent because some stupid woman lied on him, some wife of an Egyptian lied on that guy. No, Joseph wouldn’t do anything wrong, right? Even when the Egyptian bureaucrat’s wife, I forget her name, asked him to sleep with her, he refused and she lied on him. So he was in prison, and he interpreted the dreams of his fellow inmates. So Egypt exalted Joseph son of Jacob, but when Ramses II ascended to the throne of Pharaoh, became the Egyptians’ living god at that moment, guess what? The Hebrews became the problem, and Ramses’ royal administration decreed they were slaves. Then, the trouble starts.

After the Israelites were enslaved, they multiplied a lot. So there were two midwives who were instructed to kill the baby boys, but God had a way of getting to those women. Shiphrah and Puah did not do as Pharaoh instructed, only what God did. According to the sacred texts, these women were rewarded with families of their own. What they did say to Pharaoh was this, “Oh, those Hebrew women deliver too quick on the stool before we can get to them.” They were clever and they probably saved a lot of baby boys from being killed. Now, the trouble was that pharaoh didn’t want boys and as any taskmaster would do, the overseers would whip slaves, probably rape their women, and do other things that would try to undermine the Hebrews’ ability to stay together as a people. But they wouldn’t have any of it.

The hope came to the Hebrews when Jochebed, the wife of a man in Levi’s tribe, family, whatever, gave birth to a little boy. Jochebed was a Hebrew woman who was enslaved like the others, but she was clever. She decided to hide her baby boy in a basket, and guess who picked up the baby? The Pharaoh’s daughter, in some sacred text she is called Bithia, and she said the Nile god brought her a son. She named the baby Moses, which had something to do with him being drawn out of the water. I won’t go into Moses’ story as a young boy growing up in Egypt and all that stuff, but I will say he had a wife called Ziporrah and two boys, one of whom was called Gershom, but I’m sure I’d like to use that for a boy because it has nothing to do with war or ruling. Gershom is a name that means, “an alien there” or “stranger.” So Moses left his wife and children to go free the Hebrews, and we all know the story of the Burning Bush, right? It’s written in both Biblical and Torah readings.

The trouble for Egypt began when Moses said the famous words, “Let my people go.” Moses said to Pharaoh that enough was enough, let my people go or you’ll suffer the consequences. God had it down, he put down ten plagues, I won’t say in order, but it began when the river Nile turned into blood, and crocodiles were eating bloody food. Then dead fish floated to the surface. Then you had frogs, flies, gnats, boils, the livestock died, locusts, three days of darkness. Then worse, there was a lightning storm among those plagues that lasted days and days, and hail. Oh boy, those Egyptians were mad. But then, God decided to show the ancients what a god he really was. His thought was that “I can kill anyone, just anyone. I’m not kidding. If you don’t let the Hebrews go, I can do something terrible.” And terrible it was.

Here’s how Passover gets started. God said to Moses to bring all the families together. First, they had to fatten and slaughter a lamb. That lamb’s flesh was for eating, if I may say, but the blood was to be sprinkled on the top doorposts of the slaves’ dwellings, and if that was done, all would be fine. But the Egyptians? Well, let’s just say Pharaoh and his people lost their firstborn sons. God killed the firstborn son of Ramses II and went all the way down to the son of a slave girl, as it says in the ancient texts. So what did the Jewish people do? They said, oh okay, we’re done with Pharaoh and his awfulness, so let’s go. Moses had instructions, they couldn’t make dough with flour for bread, so they used unleavened wafers instead. They fled across the Red Sea, and legend has it Moses parted the Red Sea. then, it gets better. Ramses II was all, oh no, my slaves have gone. This after he said, “Go, you stupid people you killed my son and you killed everybody and ruined my country.” Well, what do you do when you enslave an entire monotheistic people and try to force them to be like you, sir? Well, you get punished, sir. Right?

So the Jewish people fled across a parted Red Sea, and they ended up wandering the desert for some time. Probably a hundred years, I forget the whole thing. But the Passover feast was mandated from then on. I could go on for a few lines more and talk about the Ten Commandments, but I can’t do that because it doesn’t have anything to do with Passover as a whole.

So what do the Jewish folks today do to commemorate Passover? Well, symbolic foods are eaten, including bitter herbs and radishes to represent the enslavement of the Jewish people, and the boiled eggs and so on. There are clear instructions on how to celebrate Passover, and I forget what the book is called, but there’s a lot to it.

One tradition I savor in a Passover seder is this: when you have a young child who is able, they have to ask, “How is this night different from all other nights?” I think that’s the tradition, don’t quote me, but I”m sure the youngest is quoted as saying such. What we do as a community in such celebrations is pass on the wisdom of the story of Moses to the youngest children and we want them to know what happens when you mess with people who stand behind a strong faith. People obviously don’t see that sometimes, and like Ramses II, they can get caught up in their selfishness. Ramses said he was God, but that got him in lots and lots of trouble. Passover is just one big huge result from the trouble Ramses caused a whole tribe of people who said, “No more.”

For more on the Jewish traditions, do feel free to read Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder by Cantor Matt Axelrod, written in plain English. I like how he writes about the Jewish stuff, including how he talks about each holiday and each thing that occurs in Jewish tradition. It’s not boring, I promise.

If you want more interesting fun facts about the Jewish tradition, do read the Newish Jewish Encyclopedia, which to me is pretty like a mini encyclopedia compared to Britanica, but it’ll do. It has all the different stuff in it pertaining to Passover, Hanukkah, and all the holidays between, plus celebrities and famous people’s bios and names and all sorts of fun stuff. Enjoy.

Beth

Was Jesus Really Born in Bethlehem?

Dear readers,

It makes me wonder if our nativity scenes are even accurate, but I knew Jesus could not possibly have been born in Bethlehem, but has anyone asked to question Mary’s or … her peasant name was Marium, but her virginity. She could have, according to some finds, been raped by a Roman soldier because of the law of Rome back in the day. No surprises. But the virginity of Mary was mentioned because of the laws against maidens who were to be married at the time. Read the below story though and prepare to have your brain tangled up with questions.

a.msn.com/r/2/BB1cdOgc

Guide Dogs and Spiritual Centers: How to Include Your Congregants with Guide and Service Animals Who Are Disabled

Dear readers,

You’re probably a cleric or minister who’s had a guide dog or service animal user in your congregation. You probably don’t know much about the dog or other animal’s ability to do its job and not mess up your building space. So here’s the question: have you considered making your space welcoming for these people and their dogs? Let’s take a look at guide dogs and service animals, and I’ll tell you how my guide dog handler friends would like you to address these issues.

Guide dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California is a great example of a guide dog school. Note: Seeing Eye dogs are usually only dogs trained and registered at the Seeing Eye dog school in Morristown, NJ, so please refer to all other types of mobility assistance dogs for the blind as simply “guide dogs.” Guide dogs help their blind owners walk around and they will be able to walk up and down your church aisle. While you’re busy making your church or spiritual place of worship welcoming to the wheelchair user, there are some issues with blind people who use guide dogs being asked to leave or not let the dog in the communion line or otherwise don’t bring the dog at all.

First and foremost, guide dog training takes a lot of effort, love, and money. The dogs are raised with puppy raisers as young as eight weeks old, right after weaning from the mother dog. When they are removed from the mother, they are individually given to a family or person who wants to help instill the fundamentals of obedience and socialization. This sort of training includes the sit, down, stay, and other sorts of basics. They also learn to do some commands like forward, left, right, etc. They don’t do harness stuff till they leave the puppy raiser and go to what we blind people would call “dog college.” At the dog school, you as the dog handler would learn how to control your dog, give corrections gently and such, and how to work with the dog in harness. There are also dogs at the schools that are in training to become guides. If you want all kinds of cuteness and puppy love, watch Pick of the Litter, and watch GDB pups go into training. Some will become breeders, others will become working guides. The working guides are amazing guides indeed, so when you meet a guide dog user for the first time, ask them questions about what your dog user friend uses their service animal for. They will be glad to answer, but please don’t give a standoffish comment like, “Oh, you can’t bring the dog here.” I’ve had people complement my dog handler friends on how beautiful their dogs are. If I personally had a guide dog, I would groom the dog like crazy to perfection, put bows and ribbons on their collar, and make sure the dog is spiffy and all dressed up to impress, just like myself. This would be great for job interviews, and making a good first impression on a church or spiritual leader in a center of spiritual knowledge.

Service animals for wheelchair users follow the same sort of path, and some disabled people have diabetic alert dogs. Here’s a profile you guys might want to consider: there’s this one dog who was a breeder, and after she bred two or more litters of successful working guides, she became a diabetic alert dog for her custodian breeder, Jim. I believe her name was Charity, but I forget the name altogether but wait, Trinity. How appropriate. Trinity might be her name, but I know it had a y at the end, that’s all I remember. This dog had also bred a son, Jenkins, who also went on to become the breeder stud behind several chocolate labs. Chocolate labs are adorable dogs with brown coats as brown as, well, chocolate. German shepherds are highly responsible dogs with high intelligence, but the dogs frequently chosen by guide dog schools these days include labs and golden retrievers, beautiful dogs with great devotion to their masters and they are highly intelligent and responsible dogs. Goldens are known for being good family dogs, but I think their spirits can be a bit high, and they can sometimes be class clowns. That’s just my observation for me of some guide dog users and their guides.

When you first meet a guide dog user, don’t be alarmed. If you’re a Muslim imam or cleric in a mosque, you may recall that the nose of a dog is dirty, I get it, but think of this. The dog has its own natural way of doing a kneeling pose, the sort of pose you do when you pray. When a dog is lying down, it looks so cute with the legs all done that way. My ex said something about that in a riddle. Anyway, if you’re Muslim and come across a guide dog user, don’t be alarmed. The dog won’t lick unless your hand is right underneath their nose, but keep your distance from the team as they work, and they will follow you if commanded. That is, the handler may tell the dog to follow you to a seat. Let the team do its job. The dog will be content lying down on the floor, so the brother or sister handler will be happy to go off and pray in the center of the circle. For Christian and Jewish establishments, don’t be afraid to bless the guide or service animal. My choir director goes to a Mennonite church, and dogs are a frequent love of hers. I have a guide dog handler friend who comes in to choir, barring the pandemic, and sometimes she gets a break at the church. Even animals need to relax too, so when you are able, for all religious areas, let the team play together and designate a guide or service dog relief spot. Tell your congregants with dogs for service exactly where they can and cannot relieve their animals, and this will assure your congregation is safe. Don’t be alarmed if the dog is lying on the floor, but dogs make great conversation starters when they greet people, wag their tails, and do their work with grace and dignity, and with a sense of animal humor. Don’t forget about the guide and service dog retirement stage. Your congregant will want to retire their guide or service animal at a certain age. For example, some guide dog schools recommend retiring your dog at age eight or nine. That is, in human years. Dog years is different in calculation than those of humans for some strange reason.

What should you not do with a service dog? Well, don’t encourage anyone to pet the dog while they’re in harness working. Most service dogs will only respond to their master in harness while working, and they don’t need doggy distractions. Do not ask for ID’s or papers for your potential congregant’s dogs because they don’t usually provide those. However, you can also ask where the dog was trained and contact the guide dog school. GDB and Guiding Eyes are amazing schools, to the most highest degree I can think of. I’ve heard that Pilot dogs is okay. Some prefer Leader dogs. But think about the dog and its training. GDB does have specific requirements for dogs, evaluations being done on the pups till they reach maturity and some are even cut well in to the guiding training. some dogs don’t make the cut, but others who do are lucky. Guide dog training also requires that the dog learn to effectively intelligently disobey their owner if the command could put the owner in danger. Examples of this include if there’s a car rolling down the street, I tell the guide dog “forward” while the car is going on the street, and the dog doesn’t move. I have to wait until there’s a deep and definite lull in the traffic, then tell the dog to go again. The command is usually a forward, and if you want to speed up, there’s a command for that. You want to ask as many questions as you want to ask, but they have to be good questions. Now, how does this relate to spiritual matters? Guide dogs can do just about everything guide related for their owners. For the wheelchair companion dogs, be careful of things that fall on the floor. Such dogs can be trained to pick them up, and ask first before attempting to pick up a dropped item for a service dog user. For dogs that assist the deaf, their job is to alert the person when someone is talking to them, when the phone rings, and sometimes to paw the owner if a fast moving vehicle is running down the road. Psychological service dogs count too, and so do diabetic alert and medical service dogs. Jim’s dog has had training to alert him when his blood sugar is too low or too high. Respect when the dog is alerting you to something, especially in the case where an epileptic person with seizures is using their alert dogs. Seizure dogs are great, but please note that such dogs are trained to lick their owners in the face. It may look like they’re giving them doggy kisses, but when I saw this one dog doing that, it stimulated the brain of the seizing woman on the floor. Also, dogs like these are supposed to alert the average Joe citizen for help if their owner is on the floor. I love dogs, as one can tell, and the amazing things they do for people. If the service dogs for veterans pop up, don’t be afraid to ask. But remember, veterans with PTSD service dogs should get no less than the guiding service dog for the blind. My cousin has a dog that helps him get over stuff, and he’s an army vet. My best friend from high school has a brace and balancee and PTSD service dog and … well, dogs are good for just about everything. Some dogs can predict seizures, so if the dog is alerting you or the owner to a seizure, please note that this is a natural occurrence, and if the person falls, get help immediately. That’s my story on service dogs and spiritual centers.

Beth

Overview of Inclusivity and Religion: Making Spiritual matters a Thing of Inclusion for Disabled Congregants

Dear readers,

I shared Ellen Stumbo’s post from the Mightete, a disabled news org, and she has a lot of things to probably unpack. Thank you for those who saw that story and wished to be a part of my spiritual life. I looked through this blog, and I saw some mistakes I might have made, identifying one man as Somali and another man as not. Who knows, but I want to truly open a timeline and a dialogue with all faiths and religions, notwithstanding the mistakes I made, but I want to put all the stuff I wrote prior to this post in one big summary timeline, and here it is. It includes what you should do with disabled congregants, and this is based on experiences I’ve had with churches.

1. First and foremost, your parking lot and door entrances have to be wide enough for wheelchairs, even if the building is rustic and old. Make some accommodations in your restrooms so that disabled people can use them. Place bars on the walls of each stall, and make the stalls wide enough so that a wheelchair user can use the stalls. Blind people should be able to ID the bathroom with a Braille sign. Place such signage above the door, or by the door on a wall in the alcove’s outer side. That’s how the signage can be easily seen, and I look for signs there. Also, make sure your Braille is proofread by a certified NLS Braille proofist, even if it’s the word handicapped. here’s a funny Braille story to show you why: The Braille sign for “and” is written with dots 1-2-3, then dots 4-6, all put together. it’s a letter y in Braille but written a bit backwards. So the dot combo is 1-2-3-4-6. However, there was a sign that was written with the “ing” sign: the dot 2 was missing from the “and” sign, so the sign that my cane teacher interpreted was the following: “Girls hingicapped.” Be careful with Braille contractions and lettering, and make sure you have a Braille cheat sheet on you to make sure all signage is correctly Brailled. The architecture of this building should reflect inclusivity. For Muslims, make sure the woodoo areas are completely user friendly, and if you insist on women and men being in separate prayer areas, do not use only stairs. Put the women in a place where wheelchairbound sisters can enjoy worship from the same floor as the men, but you must have wider doorways and the woodoo fountains should be at a level that is usable for those sisters who can’t raise their right or left hand to turn on the fountains. Make sure there are places to put shoes where a sister or brother won’t trip. This is something an old friend frequently would talk about while I was present at mosque. For Jewish ceremonies, always include your wheelchair using sisters and brothers, and for those who count themselves as orthodox or Hassidim, always always always have a door open for disabled congregants who want to join in. Even the goyem will admire your inclusivity.

2. When a congregant walks in, make sure you are welcoming to them. For Christian churches, please make sure you have alternatives to hymnals that a disabled person may use, and as a blind person, I wish I had been able to read the words to worship service songs in detail. Give the blind congregant access to the lyrics at worship services ahead of time, or let them hear a recording of the hymns you will be singing in services. For Jewish folks, same sort of thing may apply to shabbats, and for those who hate tech during shabbat, please note that an exception should be made for blind folks using Braille. Braille displays should be used in Hebrew services so they can follow along with the rabbi or congregation cantor, and make sure that the persons leading the choir and rabinical folks know about this stuff. Your Jewish blind congregants should have as much access to Hebrew scripture, Hebrew chorale pieces, and so much more so they can sing and follow along. Of course, young Jewish students should be included in Hebrew school as well, so for teachers of such, make sure your texts are written in appropriately hebrew Braille. it is in my opinion the best way to get a student familiar with the Hebrew language. It’s similar to Arabic, and I’ve seen Arabic Braille written down, but face it, the letters are pretty similar to both Roman and Hebrew script. For religious educators in Catholic circles, you need to consult the publishers of your books. Make sure the Catholic faith textbooks are written for children in Braille, and if you’re a teacher, beg the publisher for the teacher’s edition in the same format. If not Braille, kids and teachers who are blind should be given access to the same materials but in electronic format. If they use a pc or mac with screen readers, the formatting should be excellent, top quality, arranged so that pictures are captioned and labeled accordingly. This also applies to Muslim folks. Sadly, I wasn’t able to participate in Qur’an classes with my sisters in islam, but for the young folks in TAQI, or Tasir Al Qur’an Institute schools, they should be given Braille copies or electronic Arabic and English copies of the Qur’an. This way, as the prophet said, you can still gain knowledge, even if you can’t see it.

3. For all religious centers, babies should be baptized or blessed with the same dignity and pomp as with normal babies.

4. When a kid grows up, and with adults growing in faith, let the person experiment or teach them the science behind the choices they make with procreation. While i’m not a fan of the Catholic or Christian ideological senses of don’t have sex until marriage, please note that disabled children and adults face the most poverty because of that very thing. Disabled men become predators sometimes because they are not taught how to keep their sex organs to themselves, and disabled women get objectified. We need to create a welcoming and safe space for all, including disabled people. All religious centers and community churches should include a consent class, a code of honor and consent for all congregants and brothers and sisters. While islam has strictures of family honor tied right into the religion itself, I would encourage Muslims to research and understand the rules about consent in modern culture. islam must conform to let females make all choices, and even in cultures where this is not the case, females must be able to say no if they see something wrong or abusive about a man. This definitely includes disabled females. I left islam because I didn’t want to have to marry a stranger, and I wasn’t about to get barefoot and pregnant with someone i hardly understood how to please anyway. I would have also had superiority games played on me if I married a sighted guy, which the Muslim brothers suggested. Unfortunately, for these brothers, I married a non Muslim blind guy, and I won’t be coming back. I love my sisters, and I understand if the sisters insist I walk back, but I can’t do any such thing because islam has become a contested religion here in this country. I’ve been disrespected by a doctor who swore i was “pretending to be Arab”, and was trolled on Facebook for this very thing. I don’t subscribe to religious views that contradict my own core beliefs about me, and that should be what matters.

5. When a bride and or grooms and brides or couple comes to you and your religious center for marriage, get their story. If a couple wanting to wed is disabled, offer the commitment ceremony option first. I want to shout out to Jenny, my minister from Jefferson unitarian Church. I wanted a woman minister to lead my wedding commitment ceremony because I was not, I repeat not, going to submit to a man in everything, and I was just about done with the patriarchal … dare I say it? Bullshit. patriarchs like some of the priests that abuse women and boys should never be allowed to do weddings anyway. If a bride or groom is not supported because of financial disability, physical disability, or anything else, offer to pay for everything. St. Bernadette’s Catholic church paid for the catering of the wedding of a dear friend of mine, but the bride also had the support of her family. Since Trenton and I did not have the support of church and family, and the pandemic had ruined all churchgoing plans, jenny came by our apartment and we had no ring bearer. We also had a guy doing camera angling for the phone. I recorded my commitment ceremony on Facebook Live. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I honestly wish I had more support, but it was true to us. We had a biblical reading of course, but we also had a wisdom reading from another spiritual source, something I really wish other Christians would consider. Weddings are an important part of life as a human being, and even if the bride is incapacitated, offer the support she needs to fight back and marry the man she loves. I had no support, and now I’m having to sue my own family for damages related to the guardianship. They are very hostile if confronted, but they don’t get it. They never wanted me to legally get married, and I didn’t, but I’m still committed to Trenton and will stay that way for life. Anyway, i’m glad I did my own wedding, but with church supports and no pandemic, it could have been better.

6. Offer support for disabled adults wishing to integrate kids into the mix. Whether the family is getting started or has been started, please, please welcome disabled people’s kids. Baptize them or commit them or dedicate them as above, if they consent. In most Protestant churches, baptism must be given if faith is strong enough and if you’re eighteen. Also, scriptural abuse cannot be tolerated whether it’s committed against the parental couple or the kids themselves. For parents everywhere, disabled or not, always have an open line of communication with your kids about sex abuse and spiritual abuse. If your child is abused spiritually by a church, leave that congregation immediately.

7. If a parent with disabilities wants to know how their kid is doing in spiritual circles, they need to ask about it. Churches should be a welcome and safe space for all kids, including those with disabilities and colored folks, any stripe and color included but not limited to black, brown, polka dots, purple, etc.

8. If the parent of a disabled congregant in your church dies, be with the person and show them the grieving process. Give them bereavement resources in your spiritual center, and let them come to you for guidance. As a minister or cleric in your spiritual center, you should be a good ear to bounce off all the stuff the child or young adult is facing in the death of their loved one. If the disabled adult is facing terminal conditions related to their disability, give them the hospice resources they deserve. Give them a good sendoff whether they are nonbinary or otherwise. Islam insists on strict gender conformity, but to those who practice Native beliefs, the two spirit people should be honored above all else. For those who are nonbinary who were shunned from communities for being nonbinary or LGBTQ+, please note that there are people who won’t condemn you to hell, so if you’re on the heaven bound train, find the right person for your funerary care. It will be worth your while.

9. Never put any sort of discipline in place that would disfavor disabled adults who are living in houses outside marital status with someone of the opposite sex. Trenton and I were abused and frequently targets of sin related comments from my former church. I feel that all churches should discipline anyone who abuses a disabled woman and calls her a whore, not blame her for being a whore at all. Churches must if anything have a discipline system in place to keep predators from working with youngsters, but above all, they should never define marriage as between a man and a woman who is able. Ableist marriage practices in churches make marriage difficult, along with those financial penalties from SSI. Please beware the issues we disabled people face.

10. Never tell someone they can’t come back because of their disability, and don’t make them confess sins they didn’t commit. I can’t fess up to sins, I didn’t commit the sins of being sexually abused. that’s not a sin. A sin is what my exes have done. Not my living with Trenton, not my commitment to him either.

Thank you all for reading this, and I hope you enjoy the blog further.

Beth

I’ll Pass On the Theocratic rules

Dear readers,

Yes, before I shoot off Handmaid’s Tale references and rules, I’m going to be real. I had a serious conversation with some folks on social media, and I think we all forgot something relevant to the discussion of theocratic rule in the United States. This … actually … happened. Remember the Warren Jeffs crew? They’re all gone, arrested for committing atrocities against young girls like Elissa Wall and Rebecca Musser and so many others. If you want to read some of their stories, go check out your libraries and Kindle if you dare. Elissa’s story Stolen Innocence is a bit out of date, but well worth a read. Elissa is not the only one who was made to feel inferior because of a theocratic ruler. So many other girls and women have been denied basic human choice, all because of religion. Rebecca Musser’s book, The Witness Wore Red, tells that story too. Musser wrote in this book about various atrocities committed by the men in charge, from Rulon Jeffs to Warren Jeffs and beyond. This woman is the witness and the former nineteenth wife of Rulon Jeffs who put all those leaders in jail, and for what it’s worth, they did indeed commit Gilead-like atrocities against these defenseless girls. How is the Handmaid’s Tale irrelevant fiction? It’s not irrelevant fiction so much as it is a warning. The Hunger Games series might be considered a thought provoking question of a book series, but it is what I’d call irrelevant fiction because there is really no basis for the distopian world of Panam.

As for book number two in the handmaid’s series, the Testaments, it’s a great story, and I’m not gonna lie, a super awesome book, but there’s something in there that jumps out at me a lot. Imagine you’re a child stolen from your mother on the way to a better life. You end up in the care of a white family, and in this example, you’re a black or brown child. So think about it. The Latino immigrants who are being detained are also being parceled out to Bethany Christian Services, what I call the real Gilead Adoption Agency in the United States. Yes, you can bet that these kids want to be with their real moms and dads, but they’re being brainwashed.

A theocracy in the U.S. has indeed been shuttered for good, and for the reasons I’m about to specify however. When the Bible or Qur’an or Torah is used to hurt someone or a whole group of people, the religion becomes invalid and a danger to itself and others, much like when a person starts cutting themselves with a knife and writing funny lettering on themselves and their dog. So why did the FLDS fall? Well, here’s why.

1. The FLDS split from the Mormon church with guys like the Barlows and Jessops in charge, and this is all archived and documented in all the books I’ve read on the subject. John Y. Barlow was one of the founding guys in the church. Next, you had Leroy Johnston, or Uncle Roy, who was prophet for a long long long time, but the person you gotta watch out for in this line of rule was Rulon Jeffs. Rulon was every bit as atrocious as the next guy in line, but he was too old for more than half his wives, and Musser’s writing confirms that she wanted love, not forceful procreative unity with a man who she would have to share. Polygamy is not for everybody, and there should be strict limits on it. But the church fell because Rulon and later his son Warren did some pretty nasty things to young women and girls, all documented, and there was a bunch of sexual abuse of young brides and brides-to-be at the hands of family or relatives. Carolyn Jessop’s kids might have been victims of sex abuse by other kids in the Jessop family, as documented in her second book, Triumph. She mentioned Danny Jessop, who later married Louisa Bradshaw and was living in the now defunct YFZ Ranch, of course. When his name came up, some of Carolyn’s kids had to have mentioned that Danny hurt them in some way. There were other Jessops who played a role in hurting Carolyn and her children, and all this is documented in her book. Check it out. It’s waiting for you to crack it open.

2. The church threw out too many young men so that the old perverts could have access to as many wives as possible. You had sisters sharing a husband, mothers and daughters sharing men, it was twisted and atrocious and could have lent itself to more biological defects. You’ve got the Barlows and Jessops and their bloodlines responsible for fumarase deficiency because of this weird and twisted way of allowing nieces and daughters and sisters that share the same husband. Ugh. Rulon had sisters in his harem, God if I ever thought that was possible, I’d literally faint.

3. God and the belief in Him was used to steal money from the working people. You had guys like Rebecca Musser’s dad, Douglas or Donald Wall, whoever he was, who worked in earnest with a lot of effort on geological stuff, had companies and all kinds of money he could have spent on his girls and kids and stuff, and the FLDS stole all his money. They expected him to let them have all the money, give credit to them, and always praise them. Women were also taught not to ever have credit for themselves, just say, “Oh, it’s just my priesthood head.” Oh really, it was pretty financially telling which families were there and which ones needed more. Even though this wasn’t a Jim Jones situation, this church really needed to change its policy on this and other things.

4. The belief in an almighty God and the celestial kingdom was used to allow many things we should have considered to be child abuse. Even Carolyn Jessop’s book said clearly, and this would be her first one, titled Escape, but she talked a bit about the women with dark sunglasses hiding mottled bruises and the frequency of child and wife/spousal abuse among her people. This church had it coming before the fall of Warren and the purge of so many followers out of its ranks.

So what happened? What I gather on the Internet is that Rulon Jeffs’ old house is now a battered wife shelter, and Warren’s and Rulon’s assets are going to the girls. Good, I say. Same thing will happen if someone tries to bully the entire government into believing in a God that can’t possibly administer justice fairly according to a book that hurts more than helps. Theocracy can still be felt and seen in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a seat of Islam, but their theocratic rules allow men to control women, much the same way as Colorado City and Hildale did. What I am seeing is a pattern of distrust in the U.S. for governing officials who want to press religion on others, which is a good thing because in Hildale, Utah, a female was elected mayor, Dannia Jessop of all people, and she was amazing. Well, I think she still is serving her time there, but she certainly had the police force debadged and demoted, and replaced with real police. That’s a big step in the right direction. With all the big compounds turned into battered women’s shelters, I’m hoping that the missing women in Musser’s story come out of hiding. The YFZ Ranch, the site of a 2008 raid, is thank God defunct. It would not, however, make a good Defunctland video spot, as this is much more serious than just a defunct company.

So how is the U.S. any thing like Gilead? In the handmaid’s Tale, we learn that OfFred’s daughter is adopted by a Gilead family, no different than what Bethany Christian Services is doing to these poor Mexican children, who are raised to believe that family is important. Mexican families are close, so are Cubans, Costa Ricans, any kind of Latin American family is awesome. I’ve seen it all occur in my own very backyard. So why rip these families apart? Trump is not supposed to do this, and I hope Biden will at least fix this problem, and get the United States back in a united state of freedom and back on track. Of course, we will need to make sure that theocratic rules like we saw in Utah and Arizona don’t ever happen again.

For Further Reading:

If you want to read a book about the lost boys, there are two points of entry here. Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs is an amazing read. Plus you can also read Destroying Their God by Wallace Jeffs, Warren’s brother. Both are available as Kindle e-books and audio books may be coming as I speak.

Escape and Triumph both by Carolyn Jessop are amazing reads, so read both.

Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs is a more recent book, but do check it out for yourself. It popped up in my Kindle recommendations.

Church of Lies by Flora Jessop is amazing, and tells the story of one woman who had to fall to rock bottom to get to where she is now. I love how Flora tells her story.

Stolen Innocence and The Witness Wore Red, written by Elissa Wall and her sister, Rebecca Musser respectively, both books are amazing, but Musser’s is more up to date, and she has written amazing testimony of her work. Thank you all for reading, and to find these books, I’d recommend using Kindle or Audible, as not all are available on Bard.

Beth