Archive for the 'rant' Category

Religion in the Workplace

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld Christian-based aid organization World Vision’s practice of hiring – and retaining – only those who affirm the organization’s statement of faith.

Three former employees filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination when World Vision fired the employees after determining they no longer believed in the deity of Jesus Christ nor in the Trinity.

The legal issues in this case are many and complex:

  • whether religious-based groups have the right to hire only those of their own faith
  • whether religious-based nonprofits that receive government funds should be able to hire only those of their own faith when using government funds
  • whether employees who are performing satisfactorily in a secular capacity should face the possibility of losing their job solely because of religious beliefs

Dissenting judge Marsha Berzon writes that Title VII “makes a narrow exemption for institutions devoted to prayer and religious instruction, but expanding that exemption to nonprofit organizations tips the balance “toward a society in which employers could self-declare as religious enclaves from which dissenters can be excluded despite their ability to do the assigned secular work as well as religiously acceptable employees.”

World Vision is a Federal Way organization; I drive past it when I go to visit my sister. I’ve had friends apply for work there unsuccessfully because of the religion issue.

My personal opinion? Even a private organization is subject to equal opportunity employment hiring law, unless the job specifically requires professional practice of a particular religious faith. A pastor or director of religious education? Sure, they must be Christian, and of the right make and model. But the church secretary and accountant? It shouldn’t matter one bit.

The same should apply to organizations like World Vision. If they’re hiring a missionary to spread a specific type of Christian gospel, then by all means, a Christian statement of faith is relevant. If they need an IT professional, a project manager, a logistics assistant, again, the faith issue shouldn’t matter, and under EEO law, should be an off limits topic. The use of federal funds should make that process even more rigorous.

I realize that’s an overly simplistic view of the world, and that the law is far more complicated than that. Still, I don’t want my tax dollars being spent on humanitarian support that come a side of proselytizing or prejudicial, discriminatory hiring practices – I’d prefer they went to strictly secular organizations instead.

You see, I don’t believe America is a Christian nation. (Sorry, Christian friends!) I passionately believe we’re a pluralistic nation that happens to have a Christian majority – which I am only marginally a part of – but we are also a nation with a strong commitment to freedom, tolerance and mutual respect.

Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by Jeri
Under: rant, religion | 6 Comments »

My Dating Allergy

I know I’ve mentioned a time or two before that I am violently allergic to dating. It just seems profoundly unappealing.

A couple of months ago, I talked about my relationship status, and came to the conclusion it could best be defined as “friend”. Or, if you prefer, “independent”.

I’m watching a few of my real life and online friends go through the process of dating again, and frankly it looks unpleasant from the outside. Dating sites, uncomfortable dates, miscommunication, friends with benefits, bad sex, good sex but no call, and just generally playing the game.

New (but sure to be longtime) friend and kindred spirit Frances writes about this in her post hilariously titled Men Want Sex. And My Refusal to Become a Moose. She says, ” A few of us hold out, thinking that reason and humor and genuine affection is really what the “good” ones want.” Damn straight, I do! Oh, wait, she was talking about men. ;) Seriously, that’s *me*, too. I don’t play hard to get, I have no clue about the game and I opt out!

Not to mention that as I see it, of the couple of hundred adults I know, it breaks down like this:

  • 70% or so are married or in long term relationships

  • 10% are gay or lesbian, and see above
  • 10% are hot, brilliant, funny, interesting women who are either looking or not looking, variously
  • 9% are attractive, brilliant, funny, interesting men who are completely uninterested and even actively avoidant of women, relationships and commitment (although some aren’t averse to sex if they can get it)
  • 1% is open to a relationship but the night nurse at the psych ward won’t let him use the phone to call Courtney Love anymore

Seriously – many women remain eternally hopeful, but I only know one or two men who have not pretty much given up and become hermits. These are not good odds. :)

As I’ve said, I find the concept of dating bizarre from my mid-life perspective. I don’t have the patience for it, the capacity to play the games, or any tolerance for idiocy. I’d much rather spend a wonderful, comfortable evening with good friends of either gender, sharing good food, drinks, laughs and camaraderie and go home alone, than spend an awkward, painful evening with a near-stranger that might or might not end in uncomfortable sex and a nearly negligible chance of a call back in the future.

In the process, I build a life that I love with people who are my family of choice. If by chance I happen to stumble over a friend that surprises me, who makes me think about romance and a different kind of relationship, that’s an added bonus. I’m not looking for it; I’m not averse to it. (I’m probably way too busy for it!) Either way my life is enriched by great friends and time spent being truly myself.

Posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: friends, rant | 11 Comments »

The Good Girl

I learned to be a good girl early in life. When I took care of everyone else, didn’t rock the boat, followed all the rules and met my parents’ high standards, I stayed out of trouble and earned the occasional grudging nod of acceptance.

I got married a couple of months after college and settled down. I was a good wife, supportive and enabling, tolerating it all and cleaning up messes as soon as they were made. I earned a good living and used it to support the family.

I had my first baby three years after the wedding, and my second three years after that, both on schedule. I was a devoted mom, putting my kids first and working long hours to both support them and spend quality time with them.

I finally divorced my ex-husband after nine years of his compulsive financial irresponsibility, not for myself, but when I began to feel my children’s safety and security were threatened by it. It cost me my faith.

A couple of years later I married Bryan, who I adored and tried to be an exemplary wife to. He was conservative, responsible, kind and loving and I tried to take care of him and the boys in every way. I was a good wife and mom, I had a good job, and constantly strove to be conservative and respectable and not rock the boat.

Then a year ago I lost Bryan, and with it a large part of my identity – wife. Loved one. Partner in a stable, responsible home. Instead, I had to try to figure out who I was, when I wasn’t busy taking care of everyone and trying to meet everyone else’s standards as wife, mom, employee, daughter.

Who am I? I am still a caretaking, nurturing type – that hasn’t changed. There’s nothing I like better than truly helping someone, preferably behind the scenes, with a hug, some long term support, an act of love, or anonymous generosity.

I am not, however, quite the good girl I’ve tried to pass myself off as for so many years. I do like to rock the boat. I firmly believe that “What the hell?” is often the right decision, and that I would, indeed, like to give ‘em something to talk about. I’m creative and artistic. Passionate about what I believe in. Very geeky. A little bit edgy and nihilistic. And more than a little bit hedonistic.

In the process of growing up a little this past year, I got healthier and set some interesting fitness goals. I changed the way I dress, a little curvier and punkier, becoming a shoe & jewelry addict in the process. I pierced my ears a few times and now wear colorful jewelry. I got my first tattoo, an ankle bracelet memorial.

The tattoo, in particular, is an interesting rejection of the good girl ethos. When I grew up, only sailors and bikers had tattoos. They were just not commonly worn, especially by women. Now, of course, for younger generations, body modification is a frequent rite of passage. As an artist, as a bit of a rebel, as a woman seeking beauty and meaning in my life, the act of permanently inking my skin with something significant is an important freedom for me.

So, here’s to shedding the old, ill-fitting good girl skin and finding one that fits better! I wish all of you a similar epiphany on your journey.

Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010 by Jeri
Under: creativity, health, rant | 10 Comments »

Patriot Act and the Pendulum

Justice Department officials reported that the administration supports extending three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are due to expire at the end of the year. These items include the authority to access business records, monitor individual terrorists and conduct roving wiretaps. The administration is willing to consider additional privacy protections as long as they don’t weaken the effectiveness of the law.

I am gravely disappointed.

I am, politically, most accurately described as a libertarian, however, I’m definitely not a candidate for membership in the libertarian party. (Staunch stronghold of freeze-dried-whackaloons!) Philosophically, libertarians cover a wide spectrum, but tend to support strong personal rights to life and liberty, free market capitalism, private property rights, minimal government regulation, minimal taxation, and rejection of the welfare state, all within the context of the rule of law.

The Patriot Act, initially passed by a bipartisan majority just 45 days after the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center bombings, has been highly controversial.

The Cliff Notes version of the act is:

Title I: provides for enhanced domestic security services
Title II: expands availability and flexibility of surveillance procedures to law enforcement officials.
Title III: extends anti-money-laundering provisions to detect and prevent terrorism
Title IV: beefs up border security, the INS, and associated detention guidelines.
Title VI: provides aid to victims and families of victims of terrorism
Title VIII: redefines criminal law around terrorism, cyberterrorism and support activities
Title IX: establishes priorities for collection of foreign intelligence
Title X: adds miscellaneous provisions not covered under other sections

The primary arguments against the Patriot Act are that it:

  • Expands terrorism laws to include “domestic terrorism” which could subject political organizations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and criminal action for political advocacy.

  • Expands the ability of law enforcement to conduct secret searches, gives them wide powers of phone and Internet surveillance, and access to highly personal medical, financial, mental health, and student records with minimal judicial oversight.
  • Allows FBI Agents to investigate American citizens for criminal matters without probable cause of crime if they say it is for “intelligence purposes.”
  • Permits non-citizens to be jailed based on mere suspicion and to be denied re-admission to the US for engaging in free speech. Suspects convicted of no crime may be detained indefinitely in six month increments without meaningful judicial review.

On September 11, I posted an update on Facebook, “I’m grateful for America’s freedom today.” Responses were mixed – some shared my gratitude, and some were dismayed at our eroding freedoms. My response?

You know, we may have lost some of our innocence and some of our perceived freedoms – I’ve written about my loathing for the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay before.

Still, I can post whatever I want here without getting thrown into jail. (Myanmar) I can protest for or against anything I want downtown without getting shot in cold blood. (China) I can wear whatever I like – and drive alone – and execute my own legal agreements. (Iran)

It may be far from perfect, and the pendulum has swung well toward paranoia since 9/11, but America is still my country and I’m still grateful.

Still, I’d have to agree, in principle, that our freedoms are eroding. We are losing our civil liberties and privacy. I’m neither a constitional law scholar nor a political analyst, and I can’t say where the line should be drawn. I do strongly feel that the Patriot Act is Orwellian and goes too far. I’d hoped for better from our current administration.

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: Politics, rant | 11 Comments »

Not Writing About

In my current foggy brain state, I thought I’d share with you things that are on my mind that I’m not going to write about because I can’t do them justice.

  • The easing of trade and travel restrictions with Cuba. This restriction has always seemed ludicrous to me, and I’m glad we’re opening the door.
  • The Obama’s new puppy. Breeder sourced or rescued, and will it make the breed too popular? Holy crap – in the scheme of things expected of a president, this is UTTERLY IMMATERIAL. Find some actual news to report on, people.
  • My sister’s workplace (a hospital) was evacuated today for a bomb threat to the adjacent pharmacy. Apparently a druggie couldn’t get his fix and left the bomb beside instead. The bomb squad actually detonated the not-particularly-lethal bomb. I’m very glad she and her colleagues are ok.
  • Taxes, which utterly suck.
  • Going through a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff, which also utterly sucks and I have not even begun on it.
  • Sleet (in Poulsbo) and snow (in Anchorage) in April is a really bad idea on the part of the weather gods.
  • My smug sons, one of whom is coping marvelously and the other of whom is driving me nuts. (no guesses needed)
  • The demise of WASL standardized testing and exit exams in Washington. (Yeah!) Which will probably be replaced with some other form of standardized testing. (Sigh.)
  • The incredible, enduring value of friends in my life.

Please feel free to add, subtract or elaborate on any of these subjects.

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009 by Jeri
Under: news, rant | 10 Comments »