Saturday, February 27, 2010

Congress and Health Care

Dear fellow taxpayer,
We Frosts have experienced health care in four different nations: England, France, Canada, and the United States. Our experience has amounted to something like comparison shopping. We have to say that, given Medicare and Medicaid, we are more than pleased with the American system. We think the Brits have a slightly better one, but we much prefer to live in the States.
To complement the professional attention, we actively pay attention to our own state of health, with particular attention to nutrition.* This feels like responsible adult behavior : not to trash our bodies with reckless, irrresponsible behaviors and then drag ourselves to a physician afterward and say, "Here I am, Doc. Heal me (on taxpayer dollars). Wind me up and turn me loose so I can trash my body anew."
The current health-care debate seems to be focusing on cutting the heart out of Medicare. Consequently we are convinced beyond all doubt that Congress has no idea what they are doing. Clearly they have forgotten what it's like to be a citizen taxpayer out there defenseless, as we ourselves wer for many years. Some of the present rules are extremely weird but ostensibly liveable. We ahve recently learned of one such taht is interesting, to say the least : Even though it is well known that no level of X-ray is safe, and that sonograms are just as good at detecting breast cancer, still if Medicare is to pay for it, you have to have an X-ray before you can get a sonogram.
When it comes to the matter of abortion adn teen pregnancy, we could write reams. The government--paid for by your taxes and mine--refuses to fund real-world, practical sex education for the kids. Then when they get pregnant, Congress proposes not to pay for abortion. This has to be pure grandstanding, not to mention the legislation of religious belief into federal law. Are you as grateful as we are ?
In this nation, teen pregnancy is presently running at 42.5 pregnancies per thousand in ages 15 to 19. Compare that rate with the Netherlands, where sexual freedom adn education are required. There the teen birth rate is 3.8 per thousand--less than 1/10 the U.S. Surely any sensible, rational person can understand that on any sort of cost curve education is the cheapest; abortion is the second least-expensive--and welfare is off the graph. It makes absolutely no sense for Congress to hold up the much-needed health-care reform act for something that would really save billions because of some ancient fundamentalist principle. By the way, copulation is not forbidden in their black book.


We want to thank everybody for their various definitions of love, especially Raven, who pointed out that the Greeks had so many words for different aspects of love. Now we have another request of you.
Gavin is scheduled soon to give a presentation to the local Unitarian-Universalists on spirituality. What makes a person "spiritual" ? How do you know one when you meet them if you can'tsee their aura ? Someone who is very materialistic is not spiritual ; that's clear enough--but then we see people like Bill and Melinda Gates spending millions of their money on various projects around the world, and we wonder. Also we have humanist and atheistic friends who seem to us to be very spiritual in their dealings with the world. Yet by basic definiton, since they don't believe in spirit, how can they be labeled spiritual ?
Any thoughts ? Help.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Thoughts about an Ill-Defined Word - Love

The other day at lunch we went around the table having people offer definitions of "love". No two definitions were alike. We started by saying that we didn't mean lust. When you're in lust--a perfectly valid condition to be in--it's a matter of one endocrine system calling out to another. Thanks especially to popular songs and to Disney animated features, the two sets of symptoms are often mistaken one for the other. What we wanted to define was long-term love : the sort that happens between a parent and a child, perhaps, or between a mature married couple who have worked through most of the prickly topics.
One definition we liked was : It is the feeling that makes me smile inside when I see either "it" or another person.
Our long-term definition of love runs something like this : It is my wish for the loved person to develop to their full potential, my wish for their well-being; no matter what the cost to me.
We realize that this does not cover the love for an object, a sculpture, a painting, a poem, any inanimate object, or even a puppy or a kitten.
So what is your definition of love?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thinking about Initiation

At the full moon of Imbolc we did a couple of initiations. As usual after initiations (call it afterglow), we started to reflect on (1) the real reason for initiation itself; (2) what elements such a meaningful rite of passage should contain; (3) how it will change the life of those who attend.
It is our opinion that initiation into the Craft has always meant becoming a member of a very select "in" group. The group consists of other individuals who have met certain standards and who are further along the chosen path. The incomers are required to meet those standards so that the group can be comfortable and confident with their membership. Incomers are those sufficiently knowledgeable of the group's practices that they will live up to such commitments as these:
(1) They will not mess up when the chips are down.
(2) They have demonstrated their willingness to discipline themselves to meet challenges that may come.
(3) They are willing to break societal / cultural norms, though always within the law, to join the group. In such cases, the only individuals involved would be consenting adults, and the occasion would be an extraordinary one.
(4) Candidates are willing and able to state clearly where their allegiance lies. Is it to their family? their group? their country? and so on. (At time of crisis, they may be expected to subordinate allegiance to family temporarily to the needs of the group.)
(5) They can be trusted with inner secrets of the group, including knowledge of identities and memberships.

Though these points seem relatively simple and straightforward, too few groups make them part of the initiatory practice. Initiation is more than a matter of "Drop in Friday night and visit the drive-through." It is a life-changing milestone implying a deep, deep commitment to the spiritual path of the Craft. In our opinion, preparation for the ritual and the life change should take at least a year and a day.
Nor is the initiation a signal to stop growing. To each initiate will come a day when s/he pauses to think, "I thought I knew it all on the day of my initiation--but, boy, how far I've come and how much I've grown since then!"
The actual words of the rite can be in any format the group likes, using any pantheon and any circle-casting or other element of the rite of passage the group desires. In Gavin's case, it was in fact not only a sex-magic ritual; it was also a blood ritual. (He can show you the scar.) Currently the blood ritual is usually omitted; if the group is not going to practice sex magic, that part too can (optionally) be omitted.
It is up to you, pagans and Wiccans, but please do not cheapen any initiation which you perform. Make it a deeply significant rite of passage. It should be designed to change the person's perception of reality.
Blessed be those who live the examined life. Gavin and Yvonne