Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Vatican has had it with the nuns.  You know those sisters, so radical.  They've been spending their time working on behalf of the poor and fighting economic injustice!  An outrage.  Well, now they've been reprimanded.  They were told they've not been sufficiently outspoken against contraception, abortion and gay marriage.

Just when the Catholic Bishops and the Vatican seem like they've done themselves in, they do something even worse than I would've imagined.

They seem to think now is a good idea to come down on the nuns, just when the cases against the priests about sex abuse is ramping up again, and there are more and more outrageous examples of the higher ups covering up, not reporting the abuse to the proper authorities, and generally behaving heinously.  This is the time they've chosen to go after the nuns.

And...  Oh yeah.  Plus the contraception matter!  They're refusing to comply with the health care mandate that requires employers to provide contraception coverage to their employees.  They're saying it's a "religious freedom."  Yes, freedom.  They want the freedom to force their dogma on people who don't want it.

Do they ever wonder why their married, child-bearing-age employees don't have a baby every single year?

I mean, it's actually kind of funny.  It's like a guy who tripped, and then fell on his leg and broke it off, and while in pain and trying to recover, decides to distract people from watching him, so arranges for an anvil to drop on his head.  The Catholic Church as... Bugs Bunny!

Personally, I think they've made a serious miscalculation.

My friends Annie Laurie and Dan at the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked me to do a little ad for them about the contraceptive coverage issue, and I did it on Monday.  When it's put together I'll post it here on my blog.

But enough about that for now.  I'm just about to take off on a two week trip - a week in Spokane, and then a week in Los Angeles, so this is gonna be short....

Let's get onto books and movies for the month of May 2012

I read three books last month.

1.) The Swerve: How The World Became Modern, written by Stephen Goldblatt
2.) State of Wonder, written by Ann Patchett
3.) In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, written by Erik Larson

I loved all three, especially Swerve, which made me want to write a monologue based on the book so I could perform it.  It's all about a poem by Lucretius, who was a follower of Epicurus, and how a medieval antique book hunter came upon it in an out-of-the-way monastery in the 1400s and basically saved it for all humanity.  It really underscores the haphazardness of what was saved and what was not, at the same time that it shows us how much art and wisdom there was and how important it is for us now to hear the voices of the ancients who, while they did not have our scientific information, had great insights into the true nature of life and how it could best be lived.

Bottom line seems to be: let go of superstition...

State of Wonder was a wonder, and I even got to go to a lecture by Ann PAtchett, put on by my local library.  She was articulate, funny, smart, and her talk gave me even more insight into her novel, which manages to be pulpy and high literature all at the same time.

In the Garden was good too - god, I love Erik Larson.  And the story took me to the heart of things when Hitler was just gathering the forces that would come to full frightening fruition in his dictatorship.

Here are the movies I watched last month:

1.) Tiny Furniture, 2010, directed by Lena Dunham
2.) In the Land of Blood and Honey, 2011, directed by Angelina Jolie
3.) Love Letters, 1945, directed by William Dieterie
4.) Kind Hearts & Coronets, 1949, directed by Robert Hamer
5.) Humpday, 2009, directed by Lynn Shelton
6.) The Wizard of Oz, 1939, directed by Victor Fleming
7.) My Effortless Brilliance, 2008, directed by Lynn Shelton
8.) Portrait of Jennie, 1948, directed by William Dieterie
9.) Come and Get It, 1936, directed by Howard Hawks and William Wyler
10.) Ministry of Fear, 1944, directed by Fritz Lang
11.) Lake Tahoe, 2008, directed by Fernando Eimbcke

Wow.  A pretty good month for movies.

Most memorable prize goes to "Come and Get It."  I'd seen it in college, but it was just as good if not better than I remember it.  "Tiny Furniture" caused me to have a more complicated relationship with Lena Dunham's show "Girls" on HBO.  I didn't like it as much and it was weird, like "Tiny Furniture" let me see how the sausage is probably made on "Girls."  Which made me not like "Girls" as much.  I have very mixed feelings about it all. I mostly love the show.  But I kinda wished I hadn't seen "Tiny Furniture."  Odd. I'm still not sure why I feel this way.

Mulan watched "The Wizard of Oz" with me on Mother's Day.  We had a really fun afternoon watching it.

Angelina Jolie's movie also stayed with me a long time - it's grim, very very grim.  She's ambitious as a director and I appreciate that.  The actors are very good.

Oh Lord, I've got to go.  A cab is coming in an hour and I have to pack.  Well, I suppose the summer has really really started now.  Until next month...


Sarah said...

Thank you for continuing to blog. It is a treat to read it!

Anonymous said...

The nun pic sort of gave me a creepy feeling, good choice. Ive been waiting to see reactions to Jolies movie, think Ill watch it this month. Happy and safe travels !

Becky said...

Interesting! I saw Tiny furniture a few months ago, before Girls started, and loved it! But see, I loved the movie, and then looking Lena Dunham up on Google, and finding out about Girls was icing on the top of a movie cake that I had already enjoyed.

While watching the first couple of episodes of Girls, I kept thinking that while her hyper-realistic style of dialogue plays out in Tiny Furniture well, I couldn't see it going on and on and on in a show. Like, that kind of realistic back-and-forth needs an end. I need to know that a goal or resolution, or some kind of finish needs to be there.

However, I am enjoying the show, and I suppose I'll have a cohesive thought on it when I see the finale.

Jill Blevins said...

I'm in the middle of Erik Larsen's book and it is so good. Very detailed yet reads almost like a psychological thriller. It's such an interesting look at details of the time that we never learned in school.

Laurie Gray said...

I can't wait to see your contraception coverage ad sponsored by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. I'm sure it will be wise, witty and directly on point!

Tim said...

"The Swerve" was amazing. It totally deserved this year's Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction. I'll read anything by Stephen Greenblatt now. He also wrote the great Shakespeare biography "Will In The World." I'm giving "The Swerve" as gifts this year when it comes out in paperback.

Bill said...

Did you really pack for a trip in one hour?

Ben said...

Figures they go after the ones who actually help people.

It all just says to me that the Catholic Church is more about maintaining and expanding their own power than any other ideals.

DeAnn Foster said...

"Freedom to force their dogma....". Perfect. I wasn't able to put my feelings into words regarding this issue. I will have to borrow yours. Thanks for posting before your trip. I always look forward to your posts.

Rainbow Motel said...

The Catholic Church: Its own worst enemy. My husband read the "Garden of Beasts" book and was riveted. It's on my summer list. I also just finished David Finch's "Journal of Best Practices". Have not seen "Tiny Furniture", but am really enjoying "Girls". Finally! An honest portrayal of how women think, speak and act. Glad you're blogging. I've listened to every single one of your features on This American Life. You make me think while I'm laughing.

Joey said...

I was listening to an old "This American Life" from 1996 that featured you and you were hilarious. I love Erik Larson too.

Anonymous said...

I'm 100% sure that 100% of unborn little girls wish you weren't so vocal about pushing your pro-death agenda on them under the cover of being pro-woman. I'm not Catholic, but I am a Christian, and we believe that all life is precious (even those that ridicule and belittle everybody that doesn't have the same beliefs as themselves, but especially the helpless, sweet little people that are dependent on adults not being self-centered). Shame on you Julie for being a bigot!

rblee said...

My wife and I just watched your “Letting Go of God” video. What a powerful experience for a couple of ex-Catholics! Thank you so much for much your devotion to secular causes. As president of the local affiliate of the American Humanist Association, I’m going to place you on our web site and present your video to our membership. Of course, most of us have been fans of yours for a long time, but it’s good to revisit and refocus occasionally. Thanks again for your great (not using the term loosely!) work.

Now, Anonymous: you accuse Julia of bigotry because she stands up for women’s right to control their bodies? A most oppressive form of bigotry is practiced by those who would assign “helpless, sweet little” personhood to a pre-sentient fetus and diminish the real personhood of the woman whose body and self-determination is at stake in the pregnancy process. Christians used to be a little more aggressive in exercising control over women, using the rack, ducking stool and fiery stake to get submission. Is that the tradition you want to represent?

Anonymous said...

In what way is the Catholic Church imposing it's dogma on others? They are not telling people that they can't buy or use contraception. Rather they are saying they don't want to pay for it. The government is the one trying to impose on the Catholic Church by forcing it to go against its teaching. You have it completely backwards.
By the way, the Constitution states, "Freedom OF Religion", not "Freedom FROM Religion". There is a big difference. I should be allowed to practice my religion in whatever way I choose, but that is not the case anymore because of people like you. I pray that God will enlighten you and that you will see the truth.
Also to rblee: You said, "A most oppressive form of bigotry is practiced by those who would assign “helpless, sweet little” personhood to a pre-sentient fetus and diminish the real personhood of the woman whose body and self-determination is at stake in the pregnancy process." You say this as if it's someone else's fault that a woman gets pregnant, not her own. If women don't want to get pregnant, then they shouldn't have sex. Also, women do have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. However, the little innocent life inside them is a separate body and not part of their own. Women and abortionists have no right to distroy this little body.

rblee said...

Anonymous: your use of the term “fault” exposes you basic attitude towards women’s sexuality. It’s “her own” fault. There’s just something bad about women, isn’t there? And, the Church just doesn’t want to pay for it--like Rush Limbaugh doesn’t want to pay for college girls to have sex, unless, of course, they make it available on video! This is all about the Church and people like you wanting to control women. It’s emphasized by their stand against contraception, which is a woman’s primary means of avoiding pregnancy--not just saying “no” to sex, as you would have it. By yours and the Church’s standard, a woman must always be facing the possibility of pregnancy when having sex. This is nothing more than patriarchal interference with one of humanity’s deepest physical and psychological needs. A woman must have every technique available to make certain she can be pregnant when she wants to be and not pregnant when she doesn’t want to be.

Yes, a fetus is a “separate body”, but one that should be there only through the choice of the woman whose body is its source of life and its only means of life support. But, it is not a “person”. It is a developing organism and to make it legally or “morally” equal to the woman diminishes her personhood. Do you suppose that there is ever a circumstance where the life of the fetus should be favored over the life of the mother? Does a defective fetus, who’s continued growth endangers the life of the mother, have more “right to life” than the mother? Apparently, the killer of Dr. Tiller thought so. Again, you are in bad company.

“Freedom of religion”. Does that include ritual sacrifice of your first born or Mormon-style bigamy or hunting witches or denying your children medical treatment in an emergency? You are NOT free to practice your religion in any way you choose. Not in a civilized, enlightened society of laws. Lastly, without freedom FROM religion there is NO freedom OF religion. Your religion must not influence government to interfere with my freedom of choice to not believe or belong to it.

Anonymous said...

You r an idiot. You do not understand the issue and you are spewing a bunch of crap. It is an attack on our freedoms. PERIOD.

rblee said...

Hmm, must have struck a nerve there! But, thanks, A. You gave me a great idea for a horror film (actually a documentary) about mindless fiends running amok and degrading society. Title: “The Attack of the Irrational (Is There Any Other Kind?) Religionists!”

Well, how’s this for a statement of the issue? The ruling about providing healthcare applies to businesses and “institutions” who hire employees. If a church is running a business, they are subject to the rules which apply to all businesses involving employee and public welfare. If they don’t want to bide by the laws, then they can get OUT of business. It’s got nothing to do with your “freedoms”. Period.

Anonymous said...

To rblee:
There is more than one person going by the name "Anonymous". I am the Anonymous who said "In what way is the Catholic Church..." I am not the other one who called you an idiot. I do not think that at all. You seem intelligent, just misguided.
To address your response: I do not think there is "something bad about women". I am a woman. I believe that all women are equal to men, but I do not believe that anyone has the right to take the life of an innocent baby. I don't see how that is wanting to control women. Contraception allows people to have sex with whoever they want, whenever they want, with no consequences. I do not agree with it and I should not have to pay for other people to use it. Why do you think everything should be free? Why do you need a hand-out? Why can't you just buy contraception yourself? The government should have nothing to do with it. That's your business, not theirs so you should pay for it if you want it.
So if the "fetus" is not a person, then what is it? So is a baby a person? At what point does a fetus become a person? When it's born? What's the difference? An unborn baby can feel pain, has a beating heart, has 10 fingers and 10 toes just like any other child. What's the difference between killing an unborn child and one that is 1 day old? Murder is murder.
My religion should not interfere with government, eh? Well the whole issue here is that the government should not interfere with my religion. They wanted separation of church and state so why aren't they holding up their end of it?

Anonymous said...

Most women pay for their birth control using money that they've earned, through their jobs, via their health insurance. So I have no idea what you all are spewing about "waaaah! I don't want to pay for their sluttery" (lol at the anon who said that women who don't want to get pregnant just shouldn't have sex -- what an archaic way of thinking, and that anon is obviously a man, or has been brainwashed by patriarchal society)

Anyhoo, if you all are talking about paying for it because of the ACA -- we all pay taxes for things we hate. If you're going to bitch about paying for health insurance, then I want my money back from taxes I've paid towards the war.

rblee said...

Hey, all you anonymouses!

Thanks to the last anon for covering the issue of health insurance. Next to last anonymous: You may be a woman, but if you are supporting patriarchal ideas, then you are hurting yourself. The issue of the “personhood” of the fetus or “baby” clouds--and is meant to by proponents--the issue of the personhood of the mother. Blastocytes don’t have fingers and toes, let alone sentience, so how can you call them a “person” just because there is a full compliment of genetic material. Even when digits and reaction to pain appear, does that confer “personhood”? For most of a pregnancy the developing fetus is totally dependant on the mother’s body for life support. It is NOT an independent “person”. The courts decided the issue of “viability” at about 28 weeks. There is, indeed, an issue here of society’s interest in preserving a developing human life, but this must be balanced with the human life of the mother, her control of her own body and privacy in doing so. This is highlighted in a case where there is a defective fetus or a danger to the life of the mother in maintaining the pregnancy. Shouldn’t it be the decision of the mother with advice of physician on whether to end the life she is carrying or take the risks associated with giving birth? The court wisely decided that it is. Before viability the mother has a right to end her pregnancy for whatever reason she deems necessary. How can anybody say that a woman must remain pregnant in the face of unplanned pregnancy, being under age, being too old, poverty, rape, incest, disease or any adverse condition? Or, for any reason whatever? It is her body and her choice--and only hers. And, this does not mean that we pro-choicers are uncaring or take ending a life lightly.

Those who would put the “personhood” of a fetus above the rights of the mother are, in effect, making pregnant women second class citizens--ones who don’t even have the right to protect their own lives. This is (a word I don’t use often) EVIL. The right they are trying to take away from women--the ability to control their bodies and lives--is (another word I don’t use much) SACRED.

The idea that certain groups can choose which laws that “we the people” enact for the good of all they want to obey and which activities of our government they are willing to pay for is just plain absurd. But, this kind of absurdity is to be expected of those who see a fertilized egg as a widdle ba-a-aby.

I’ve already covered the inane idea that “freedom of religion” means that religionists can indulge in any kind of behavior that their dogma prescribes. And, I repeat: there is NO freedom OF religion without freedom FROM religion.

private tour guides said...

I think everyone has his own opinion that has a right to exist, if only it doesn't damage another people. In lige some situations can happend when the idea of abortion doesn't look so awful.

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