Papal Postus Interruptus

I spent a good portion of two weeks reading a copy of the Vatican’s release of the ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME (4/24/2015). All 148 pages of it. Nope, that’s no typo. Yep, it’s 148 pages.

It would be fair of you to ask, “Well, now, why’d you go and do that? Aren’t you kinda anti-catholic?” I was raised Roman Catholic. I used to call myself a “recovering catholic,” and then a “nondenominational Christian.” Now, I just call myself “spiritual.”

I’m not against the messages of Jesus. I consider him to be a Master whose message got distorted—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. I am against beating people over the head with guilt, institutional corruption, and the hoarding of money and information. So, I guess you could say I’m against the institution of the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve also found, personally, that I don’t need an intercessory between myself and God, so any religion that insists I do, I have a problem with, personally.

I was interested in this particular Encyclical of Pope Francis for two reasons. First, he’s made some pretty remarkable statements for a Pope. He’s quite liberal (although I’m not sure the institution of the church always agrees or follows through with what Pope Francis says). Second, this Encyclical is about our current ecological crisis, which goes far beyond global warming.

Already the coral reefs, which house millions of microscopic and small animals of our ocean, are dying. Actually, are mostly already dead. Those miniscule animals, like the plankton that are also dying, are at the bottom of the food chain in the oceans. Many other animals rely on them as food, who are in turn relied on as food, on up the chain to those humans not only consume, but make their living catching. So, those fishermen don’t just go hungry, but so does everyone they pay with their earnings, even if they don’t eat ocean animals.

And that’s just one of the changes scientists are seeing. So, I was interested in what the liberal Pope Francis had to say on the subject. And, the more I read, the more amazed I was at some of his statements.

Pope Francis, unlike other people in positions of authority, didn’t take our current ecological crisis out of context. For example, he didn’t refer to it as simple “global warming.” In fact, he made a point of putting it back into the context that others have intentionally avoided.

The Pope addressed the rising of the sea levels and what that means to the populations who live on coastlines, including some of our largest cities; the pollution of our oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers, and the basic human right to potable water; the amount of human refuse we make using paper and plastic without responsible recycling; the amount of fossil fuel emissions, mostly from coal and oil, but also gas, when other energy sources are available, especially solar; the effects deforestation has not only on the earth’s ability to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, but the numerous species it kills and the poisons left behind by mining and other endeavors; and probably more that I can’t at this writing recall.

Pope Francis didn’t stop there, either. He put the ecological crisis in context with our economic systems, which can’t be relied on to sustain the impact of the cost for the necessary cleanup work; with our political systems, which either do too little too late or don’t have the power to enforce meaningful sanctions when companies don’t comply; with our social systems, affected by our distraction with technology so that we’re not paying attention to what the production of that tech costs in the loss of culture, societal breakdown and damaged ecology of the developing countries corporations like to abuse; with our morals and our ethics when we consume more food than we need while others starve to death, and in our killing of animals to consume; and I’m sure more that I’m not remembering.

Pope Francis also spoke directly to Judeo-Christians about the meanings in the story of creation, reminding them that we humans come from Mother Earth herself and therefore have a special bond with her. He also said that “dominion” over God’s creations didn’t mean misuse or abuse, but was a reference to our abilities to reason, plan for the future, and solve problems. We are one of God’s creations, he said, and therefore have a kinship with the rest of God’s creations, especially the earth. More than once he cited his namesake, Saint Francis of Assissi, who called the sun father and the moon mother and all living things brothers and sisters.

Pope Francis didn’t even stop there. (I told you it was 148 pages, right?) He went after the morals and ethics of the power brokers, those behind-the-scenes people who are behind the behind-the-scenes people we occasionally catch a glimpse of, and make most of the decisions for the rest of us by pulling the money strings of political leaders, corporations, foreign governments, and local community leaders. He added that they broker power, and hoard wealth and resources, to the point that their reality is altered by their insulation from the rest of society.

He didn’t even stop there, where many people would. Pope Francis also had solutions, some of which would be easy to implement. In overrun, dirty cities, if the residents can’t make the outside of their building beautiful, they can the inside. Doing so as a team effort would make neighbors less unfamiliar and uncomfortable with each other, and might even cause some bonds of friendship and feelings of community. It’s harder to push around a small community than it is a building full of strangers.

He said that not only should the ecological impact of a proposed project be considered, but it should come first. By looking first at the type and variety of animal, plant, and insect life before beginning a design, areas can be set aside to ensure they all still have a place to live. This would also leave more green spaces as cities expand and overtake the suburbs.

In rural areas, small cooperative farms committed to not using chemicals or genetically engineered strains of plants could, once they take hold and there are more of them, do away with large corporate farms. Again, people working together and sharing the fruits of their labors builds communities.

Pope Francis also spoke about the grossly poor. He said that, in the fields, what fell to the ground or was missed on first picking was left for the poor. Every seventh year a field would lay fallow, not only so that what plants grew on it would decay and feed the soil, but what food grew on it was left for the poor. And every 49th year, or seven sets of seven years, Jubilee was celebrated where debts were required to be forgiven. That would give every person at least one chance in their life to start fresh.

Of course, much of what Pope Francis proposed as far as solutions were aimed at the hearts and minds of catholics. But, he did not shy away from either accepting responsibility or assigning blame to those of his own faith tradition, nor of anyone else.

While Pope Francis is both a Head of State and the Head of the Roman Catholic Church, it doesn’t necessarily follow that what he said in this Encyclical won’t be undermined, worked against, and actively fought by those in power who wish to stay so. But, this statement by the Pope, combined with the swelling of grassroots movements worldwide that requestion who we are in relation to each other, to God,  and Mother Earth, has even managed to give this anti-dogma, spiritually driven person the one thing that’s felt so lacking lately: hope.

Much Love and Many Blessings,
~Annie

What’s Up With All These Texts?

I’ve always been a good student. So, when it came to a study of religion and the church, I went at it like I would have any research project. I read several versions of the Bible (you knew there are different versions, right?), including a Standard Revised HarperCollins Study bible that contained the latest information on what biblical scholars knew about the age and probable authors of each book, and notes in the text itself that defined unfamiliar terms and connections to other texts. I also had a Concordance, or “bible dictionary,” for when I read the other versions.

I read the catholic Catechism, as well as what was considered the true “History of the Church,” with writings from Bishop Tertullian who chose the four gospels of canon, Saint Thomas Aquinas who (as an oversimplified description) gave a Christian slant to Aristotle, Saint Francis of Asissi who is believed to be the first ever to manifest all of the stigmata or the wounds of Jesus, as well as other other authors, mostly Bishops of the new church.

I read an English translation of the Torah, the Jewish Holy Scripture, that Christians call “the books of Moses.” I also read an English translation of the Talmud, which is commentary on the Torah by learned Rabbis—a way to explain some of the inconsistencies in the scriptures. And, I read an English translation of Josephus‘ “History of the Jews,” not understanding at the time that he was writing it more from a Roman perspective than his own Jewish ancestry. (I should have known, as history is always written by the winners.)

I went farther into my studies by reading an English translation of the Q’ran, the Holy Scripture of Islam, originally seen by the Prophet Muhammad as the final chapter to the “children of Abraham,” though he was to change his mind later. Muslims, or followers of Islam, were originally from Arabia and saw themselves as children of Ishmael. Ishmael was the son of Abraham and his wife’s servant, Hannah (with permission of Abraham’s wife, Sara, who was barren) so that he would have an heir. Abraham had cast them out into the desert, expecting them to die, after Sara miraculously gave birth to their own son, Isaac, in her elderly years.

Then I spread out my search. As biblical scholars began publishing translations of the Nag Hamadi Library, ancient scrolls accidentally discovered in sealed jars in a cave near the town of Nag Hamadi that had been caught up in bureaucracy for decades, I read each one. Some were copies of well-known texts, while others had been heard of by reference by people like Bishop Tertullian who called them heresy, and still others hadn’t ever been heard of before.

There was also a discovery of ancient texts near Q’mran, long thought to be where a sect called the Essenes had established a community. The Essenes believed the Temple Priests in Jerusalem had become corrupt, and had removed themselves to the desert in order to purify themselves and make themselves worthy of the salvation of God. Here there were the Community Rules and the “war scroll” (their vision of the final battle between good and evil), along with other scriptural texts.

Among these discoveries were what are referred to as “the Gnostic texts.” They were named as such because they relied on an initiate’s eventual “gnosis,” or direct experiencing of God. In this case, they were Christian gnostics, experiencing a gnosis of the Christ. (There had been, before Christian gnostics, both Jewish and Pagan gnostics.) Here there were familiar names of Jesus’ disciples on unfamiliar texts.

One of the most interesting, to biblical scholars and myself, was the Gospel of Thomas. It was a sayings gospel, rather than one of stories, that appeared to be nearly as ancient as the canonical gospels. It contained many of the now familiar sayings of Jesus along with others that were unknown, and with some sayings pointedly missing. Most of them were pithy, short sayings or parables, which is how many biblical scholars believe Jesus actually spoke, or at least what would be remembered. Biblical scholars believe this is why some of the longer speeches of Jesus in the canonical gospels, such as the Beatitudes, weren’t found in Thomas.

The Gospel of Mary Magdalene I found particularly curious as it contains some obvious resentment on the part of Peter, who questioned why their Master would entrust any of the secret teachings (alluded to in the canonical gospels) to Mary Magdalene, a woman. He was reproached by other disciples, saying it wasn’t his place to question who it was that Jesus chose as his “beloved disciple,” with whom he shared secret teachings. Until this gospel was found and translated, Christianity in general agreed that the term “beloved disciple” meant John.

The disagreements also point to why there wasn’t immediately a single universal church but rather many with their own collections of gospels. And it’s in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene where one finds the now famous kiss between Jesus and Mary Magdalene that led to speculation about Jesus being married to her and carrying on his bloodline in the book and movie “The DaVinci Code.”

One of the most controversial texts is the Gospel of Judas. This gospel implies that Judas Iscariot, rather than being the traitor of Jesus, was his partner in the coming events. We learn through Jesus’ translation of a dream where Judas was stoned by the other disciples that it was Jesus who began the events that would lead to his arrest, trial and crucifixion. He requested that Judas assist him by turning him into the Jewish authorities, explaining the necessity of his leaving his body temporarily in order to rise again in three days. Judas at first balked, but this was his Master asking, and his reward would be to leave his body to once again become spiritual, which Jesus would also do after his miraculous rising. This was seen as the ultimate reward because then one is reunited with God.

The Bishops were attempting to build a universal church (the definition of the term “catholic”) with administrative structure, a standardized set of texts, and the intercession of Priests between God and man. I can see why they would fight so hard against Gnostics and call them heretics. Instead of a standardized set of texts like the bible and an intecessory, Gnostics were encouraged to read those texts that would lead to their own encounter with the Divine, or “gnosis,” which translated means “knowing.”

My studies weren’t yet finished. I’ve found before that some of the most valuable information can come from observers, outsiders, and critics. This was no less true when it came to God. Which is where we’ll start next week. Have a blessed weekend! 

Much Love and Many Blessings, ~Annie 

A Search for God?

While my father’s brainwashing and my therapy to get his religious-based messages out of my head were certainly motivation enough to study religion and God, there were already a couple of signs I had that could have told me it wasn’t necessary, if they’d been given the proper attention.

Despite what I went through with my father, I can remember having an awakening when I was very young, either six or seven. I was laying in my bed, daydreaming. I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was, and that something was producing the images and feelings I was experiencing. When I began to move my leg in order to get up off of the bed, I also became aware that something connected my thought of getting up and my body actually moving.

Both of those awarenesses led me (though suddenly awkward with my own body’s movements) to get up and stand in front of the full-length mirror on my closet door. I moved my arm, trying to follow what happened to the thought that made it move, and couldn’t. Then, in my study in the mirror, I saw my heartbeat pulsing visibly on my neck, which was yet another angle because I wasn’t even having thoughts about making it beat. Things were building up.

I decided I needed a closer look, so I took all my clothes off, and stood in front of the mirror. Moving my arm again, I could see the muscles and tendons flexing under my skin. But I still couldn’t “see” the thoughts. So, I moved in more closely, and looked directly into my eyes.

I now know that doing so is one of the quickest and most direct ways to access that part of me that is larger than the human body and mind can contain. What I felt then was this incredible expansiveness combined with a connectedness with the entire universe, and a Joyousness beyond anything I’d ever before felt. I stood there for I don’t know how long before the spell broke, but when it did I retained the knowing that I was much more than my body and mind.

I was a loner as a child. Even though one of seven children, my father had well learned the lesson of “divide and conquer.” As such, I often found myself outside in my “private place,” hidden underneath the long, low branches of a huge evergreen at the side of our yard. There, I investigated the teeming examples of nature it held.

There were crawling bugs of all sorts, mosses and grass growing in and under the mat of fallen evergreen needles, flying visitors that would come and go. While I was curious about how each thing worked, I also felt connected with them. I would later say I see God in nature, insisting it was so when others would try to say what I was seeing was a “reflection of God.”

And then there was Catholic Sunday School, which turned out to be more of a learning experience about how unwilling the nuns were to answer questions than it was anything else. For example, they didn’t want me asking how the family of Adam and Eve continued to the next generations if everyone was their kids, because it implied incest or that others existed.

They showed they didn’t want questions about God in particular. Why hadn’t God known right away that Abel was dead, or where Adam and Eve were hiding? More importantly, how could He condemn my girlfriend, who lived down the street with her annoying little brother and her very sweet parents, just because they were Jewish?

So, while I had reasons for wanting to understand both God and religion, I also had signs that I’d already found the path to what I was really searching for.

Still, I took the study quite seriously. Which is where we’ll pick up the story next time.

Much Love and Many Blessings,
~Annie

Getting Back on Track

I know how difficult it can be, once we’re knocked off the path, to find our direction again. First, we have to figure out if our being knocked off the path served its purpose and we should get back to where we were going, or if we’re meant to change directions altogether. That alone can be a major challenge due to our resistance to change. 

I have yet to meet anyone who likes change. It’s so much easier for us to continue on the path we’re used to, and there are so many reasons not to change. Comfort comes first. We like the comfort of familiarity. We like routine, and to make plans based on our history because the outcomes are more predictable, as well as our ancestries because it means we’re following tradition. To do otherwise might also dishonor our parents or ancestors.

I would say, in a “life experience and well read,” rather than a “degreed or certified” way, that the next reason for not changing would be what we believe. Beliefs play a bigger role in our lives than we give them credit for. Some beliefs are so ingrained in us that we carry them in our subconscious, rather than conscious, minds. They’re more like a habit than they are a conscious decision.

Digging up those beliefs can be very difficult. We first have to identify what it is that we believe. Believe it or not (pun intended), there are a lot of people who go their entire lives not really knowing what it is they believe. Psychology tells us that many of our beliefs, based on our perspective of how the world works, are established by the time we’re seven years old. Seven years old!

During my first seven years, my severely mentally ill father controlled my everything. I was, in turn and sometimes combined, sexually abused, raped, beaten, starved, sleep deprived, isolated, drowned, smothered, restrained, tortured in other ways, and brainwashed. Out of it all, the most difficult to recover from was the brainwashing.

Among the ideas that my father planted in my pliable brain those first seven years were that I was fathered by the devil, inherently evil as proven by a birthmark on my forehead he referred to as “the mark of Cain,” useless, worthless, stupid, ugly, and that if I were to ever succeed at anything it would be through trickery and falsehoods, which would be discovered and revealed publicly so that I would be shamed. To top it off, even God had abandoned any hope of my redemption, and would therefore ignore any and all of my prayers and entreaties.

In the light of day and on the other side of therapy, those thoughts can be seen for what they were—either my father’s own fears about himself or symptoms of his sadistic mental illnesses. As a child, and even through my beginning adulthood, they were as if written in stone, running my mind and my life. Much of what I did was a reflection of them, a reaction to them, or rebellion against them in order to prove him wrong. Some became so buried in my subconscious over time that I wasn’t aware they were affecting my actions.

It was only because I faced a personal crisis from being in progressively abusive relationships, with my low self-esteem reaching a suicidal bottom in my early 30’s, that I began to seriously undertake a study of who I was and why I acted as I did. For two years, I saw a therapist at least weekly, trying to identify what my beliefs were, untangle and dig these thoughts up out of my subconscious, and incinerate them with logic and reality so the they couldn’t re-root. It was, I thought at the time, the hardest thing I would ever be called to do.

Some of the negative messages, with their religious overtones, are part of what led me into the study of religion. I wanted to find where they came from—whether from religion itself, my father’s sick mind, or a combination of the two.

Another reason I became immersed in biblical scholarship and archaeology was because, when my belief system was essentially removed, I didn’t know what to believe. And at the top of that list was what to believe about God, and my relationship to God.

What I ended up finding were both of those things, as well as establishing my relationship with God.

And that, my friends, is where we will stop until next time. Have a lovely weekend!

Much Love and Many Blessings,
~Annie

Isn’t It Amazing?

I had plans for this blog. Honestly. I had about the first six posts sketched out in my mind. I knew what I wanted to say, and I knew where I was planning on taking it. And, then… (wait for it)… *WHAM*!

Something unexpected happened. And, because it did, something else that was unexpected happened. And, because of that, I had to make some unexpected and (at the time) unwanted changes. And because I had to make those changes, I got angrily frustrated. And because I got angrily frustrated and I didn’t want to stay that way, I went back to an online course that I started a while back, and had just restarted, because life had gotten in the way of finishing it.

I was only on Lesson 2, so I hadn’t gotten far. It’s an interactive course, of sorts. First, there’s a reading that introduces the subject of the lesson. Then there’s a short video to watch, going more deeply into the lesson, in this case presented by the author of the book the course was based on. Then there’s an activity,  which varies from lesson to lesson. Finally, there’s journaling, where one can use a provided prompt or just write freestyle. The course is offered through Daily OM.

I read the introductory material, and it was definitely something I was interested in. It was called the Mechanism of Manifestation. (The author will get due credit later.) It was interesting, because it had five steps to it—and the first of those steps is The Law of Attraction, but there are four more steps that follow it.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve heard The Law of Attraction discussed, it was a stand-alone process. I mean, that was it. Ask—Believe—Receive, right? Only it just didn’t seem to work all that well for me. I had tried it on some smaller things, plus one bigger thing. I got specific, and into details. I visualized. I imagined and felt the joy of receiving. I did it for each one, separated by about a week.

Nothing. Weeks went by, then months. Still nothing. And, at least it seemed to me, the letdown and touch of depression I was left with made it feel like those things were even further away and less obtainable.

In this course’s first lesson, I’d pretty much been asked to do the same thing. I was to make a list or a pictorial depiction of the things that I believe would definine me as the greatest “me” I could imagine myself being. This lesson’s activity, after first reading about and then having the author explain via video the five steps to the Mechanism of Manifestation, was to go back to that list and see where it appeared that, not only had what we asked for not manifested,  but where the opposite had appeared.

That was easy. The opposite was all over the place. I started at the top of my list and wrote how I felt that the opposite had been present in my life, in some instances for quite some time. There were about a half dozen areas of my life that I had listed.

When I got to the end of the list, the last item was about financial abundance. I’m not a greedy person, and while I place value on having money, I don’t confuse it with happiness. I had written for financial abundance enough so that I didn’t have to worry about bills, or food and supplies for myself and my cat, and enough to be able to contribute to charity.

When I started to write about how the opposite had shown up in my life, it tapped directly into the angry frustration I had been feeling. Where there had been emotions involved in the other answers I had written, I ended up just letting loose with this one.

Not only did I answer the question, but I found myself doing inspired journaling like I haven’t been able to do for a long time, in part because of carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist of my writing hand. Somehow, my body knew I needed to do this writing, for to my own amazement, my thumb and forefinger didn’t go numb, or even hurt.

I poured my heart out onto those pages, expressing an understanding of the connection between my having been abused as a child and my ability to feel deep compassion for others. I expressed gratitude for having experienced such insufficiencies, and in so many areas of my life, that I had become immersed in a sense of hopeless depression.  I understood how that would not only allow me a context in which to explore and appreciate the abundance I had asked for in the different areas of my life, but also expand and deepen my ability for compassion, for myself and all others of the world. I added that I now felt ready to let it go to make room for the abundance I will receive.

It was as if a door or a window had opened, letting fresh air into my stagnant life. I continued to write about the wonderment I felt at the perfection of it all. I may have to choose which medications I can afford and see what that leaves me for food, but I have leftover food I generally don’t have. And, I had just last month over purchased some household and pet supplies that would help see me through.

And the biggest wonderment? The fact that the course is “Happier Than God,” based on the book written by Neale Donald Walsch, the very same author I had planned on writing about in this blog, and the impact his books had on my life, nearly 20 years ago.

I had come full circle, completely outside of the plans I had made, right back to so many of the same emotions that I felt so many years ago, inspired by the writings of this same author.

Isn’t it amazing?

Looking Into the Past

I’m not new at trying to understand the past. I looked into my own personal history for about two years in my early 30’s because I had a lot of issues, with a lot of angles involved, that I needed to understand and “put to rest”  as best I could. Living with a severely mentally ill father can do that to a person, even if he leaves when you’re still young. A lot of my father’s messages about me had religious overtones, so some of the time I’d spent in therapy had to do with where he got those messages, and if they were true or not. My family’s religious ancestry was ultra conservative Roman Catholic, and since the church had been around a long time and was well established, I thought it would be fairly easy. Boy, was I wrong.

Back in the day, before the Vatican II Council and major changes in catholicism, the church didn’t really have a whole lot of positive messages. It was focused much more on power and money and control through guilt than it is today. (Imagine that!) And control of the Message, too, as masses were still said in Latin, which most of us didn’t know. As kids, we weren’t encouraged to ask questions as there was always the possibility of being rapped by a ruler, or worse.

So there was a lot of mystery about the church, unless one undertook a serious study of it, which I ended up having to do during therapy.  And I  continued looking into religion, and spirituality (and there is a difference), when I was trying to discover who I was after therapy, because I wanted to understand where I stood when it came to me and God.

Trying to study the history of the church, much less the history of religion itself, is kind of like trying to walk through a desert full of sand dunes. It’s hard to get a  strong foothold to begin with, and then it’s easy to find oneself sliding down some slippery slope of opinion rather than facts. You may not even realize that they are opinions, because so many opinions are presented as facts.

And, when one is trying to understand the history of Christianity, one necessarily has to understand at least a little bit about Judaism, because Jesus and his followers were Jewish. There at least, I thought I could find some solid ground. If only it were so.

While I was undertaking my own study, there were a lot of others doing the same, but they all had degrees. It turned out that at the time, Biblical scholarship was just beginning to blossom.

I was fortunate, though, that in the midst of all the archaeological studies and all of the biblical scholarship and all of the translations of the “new” ancient text discoveries at Nag Hamadi and elsewhere, there was this one man, who had been just as miserable in his life as I had, who’d gotten good and frustrated and decided to ask God some questions.

And God answered him.  His name is Neale Donald Walsch, and the first of his books called “Conversations With God – Book 1” came into my life right in the midst of my study.

The Way That Things Are

It has gotten increasingly more clear, at least since I was a kid, that most of the people I know are unhappy. They’re unhappy about their life as it is and feel hopeless about the future—heck, they’re not even sure they’ll be happy in the afterlife, if they still believe in one.

What is it that’s causing all this unhappiness? Some say it’s that we’re always at war with someone, and they’re tired of it. They’ve lost too many friends and family members to combat when they’re not even sure what it is we’re fighting for, except for “the American way of life.” And, lately, that way of life has seemed to be more and more about “looking out for Number 1” than it has about caring about our families and friends.

When I read statistics like the ones that say that 650 children are dying of starvation every hour—every hour—on our planet, it makes me feel sick. It certainly makes it difficult for me to eat, even though all I can afford is cheap pasta with a bit of olive oil and some herbs and salt. Then I read that something like 5% of the people on the planet control at least 95% of its wealth and resources. Now, how does that make sense?

I’m also hearing that, because there wasn’t much snowfall in the mountains this past year, California has only one year’s supply of water for its residents. What’s going to happen when they run out? Do you really think that the neighboring states will just divvy up their own water to help out? They’re only a  step or two behind California as it is.

And yet, every time I hear a politician talk about raising taxes on the grotesquely wealthy, they get labeled a socialist or a Marxist. But if there are people who have enough money for everything that they’ll ever want or need, and that their children will ever want or need, and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will ever want or need, why shouldn’t they help out?

It’s not like anyone’s asking for a Porsche. We’re talking about water, and beans and rice. Roofs over peoples’ heads. Basic shelter and survival stuff.

How did we end up like this? I mean, even in my family, which was pretty messed up when it came to caring about each other and pretty poor financially by the standards of the day, we felt like we had something to look forward to in the future. I rarely had clothes that hadn’t already been worn by at least two of my older siblings, but I expected to go to college and have a professional job when I graduated. I didn’t have my own children (turns out, I couldn’t), but I’d have gone hungry myself before I’d let my niece or nephew not eat. And I expected to keep in touch with at least a couple of my siblings.

When I look around me at the planet I live on, in the country I live in, and at my own personal circumstances, it makes me want to scream and cry at the same time. And it makes me wonder what it is that has somehow gone so horribly wrong that caused such a massive failure.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not one to sit with an unanswered question for long, especially a “why”  question.

I started watching, and listening, and paying attention. I started reading both newspapers and books, and researching some of the topics that I kept hearing were haunting us from the past, yet still being used as part of the foundation of what was going on today.

Do you know which books I studied the most, what I figured out, and which author it was that helped pull it all together so that it made sense to me?

Well,  you’re going to have to wait until Monday to find out.

Much Love and Many Blessings,

~Annie