Whose Body? Whose Choice? It’s Getting a Little Confusing.

So let me get this straight: People in Texas are going to get a $10,000 reward for following around women of reproductive age and turning them in if they get an abortion? And… will people also get a $10,000 reward for turning in people who aren’t wearing masks and getting vaccinated? I just want to make sure I’ve got it right. When is it “My body; my choice”? And when is it “Your body; my choice”? It’s getting a little confusing for some of us out here.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Newsflash! We’re Allowed to be Kind Even When We Disagree

As you all know, I got vaccinated. Nobody needs to spend any more time and energy on me trying to convince me that I should get vaccinated because the deed is already done. And nobody needs to spend energy or time on me to convince me NOT to get vaccinated, either, because I’ve already been all shot up and there’s nothing that’s  going to change that.

And personally? I am so done with the whole bad guys and good guys and blaming and shaming and name-calling and self-righteous indignation and calling other people “selfish” because they refuse to do something that terrifies them to make US feel safer (it might be useful to note here that the CDC reports that the unvaccinated aren’t the only ones spreading the virus). And people from both “sides” wishing each other sick – or even dead! – just to prove that they’re right.

For God’s sake, we need to stop.

It’s been my experience that telling people they’re “selfish” isn’t helpful. Bashing someone over the head again and again and again with our beliefs and thinking that will somehow convert  them doesn’t seem to work well, either. Both the vaxxed and un-vaxxed have been slinging “facts” at each other every day since the vaccine appeared and I don’t see that the fact-slinging has brought us much progress in this battle. (Have you noticed that people only seem to hear the “facts” they want to hear?)

So I thought maybe I’d try slinging some kindness instead to see where that might take us. You know, we’re allowed to be kind to people even when we don’t agree with them, right? Asking people to be kind to each other isn’t “taking sides” – it’s just trying to bring some civility into an insane and scary time.

Here’s what, I think, matters in the end: Kindness matters. Love matters. Let’s be kind to each other – kind to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. Let’s reflect the love of Love; express the courage of Truth; manifest the joy of Life. Love, Truth, Life (God) doesn’t care whether we’re vaccinated or unvaccinated – She’s just going to keep on loving us whatever we do or don’t do. And I believe that’s what we should do for each other, too.

There were several dear unvaccinated friends who were in my thoughts as I wrote this post (none of them Christian Scientists, by the way – interestingly, my CS friends tend to get vaccinated and probably for the same reasons I did). I love my unvaccinated friends very much and I wish them nothing but good. We’re all in this together – both the vaccinated and the not.  Love help us all.

Amen.

Karen Molenaar Terrell

Review for *Scrapbook of a Year and a Day*

It means a lot to me that Mary Metz took the time to read and review my book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, on Goodreads and on her blog. If you are an author yourself, you know what her words meant to me. Mary wrote:

Karen Molenaar Terrell’s Scrapbook of a Year and a Day is, essentially, a compilation of Facebook posts written between January 19, 2020 and January 20, 2021. If I were to collect my FB posts, it would be very, very dull indeed, but Karen eliminated the silly cat videos, if she ever posted any, and has instead put together a moving and coherent account of the tumultuous year we all lived through and her personal experience of the year following the death of her father, Dee Molenaar. What I particularly love about Karen–and this book–is her perspective on things and her constant striving to live up to her ideals.

I’m really not a dog-earrer–I find it a vile habit–and yet I folded down the corners on several pages. For example:

August 25, 2020
Please do not tell me what I believe, feel, and think.
-Do not assume because I am a progressive and tend to vote for Democrats that I don’t believe in God, “hate the Bible,” and want to kill babies and take away your guns.
–Do not assume because I believe in God that I am anti-science, believe the earth is flat and the world was, literally, created in seven days.
–Do not assume that because I’m white, middle-aged and named “Karen” I am racist and want to talk to your manager.
–Do not assume because I identify as “Christian” I am conservative, opposed to LGBTQ rights, opposed to women’s rights, travel heavily armed, and am voting for you-know-who.

I think that if we see each other in terms of stereotypes we miss out on some beautiful friendships and kinships with our fellow humans.

My biggest challenge right now is myself. I guess that’s always my biggest challenge, isn’t it? Stay kind, Karen. Stay true. Keep loving. Look for ways to bring humor to those in desperate need of a good laugh. Don’t hate. Never hate. Be wise–but don’t be cynical. Be discerning–but don’t be cruel.

Love, help me be what you need me to be.
Amen.

October 17, 2020
{A lot of anecdote, involving buying shoes for a guy on the street, deleted here because there’s only so much typing I’m willing to do. But it’s a beautiful story.}

People WANT to do right by each other, don’t they?

I felt like I was walking on holy ground today. I think . . . I think it all balances out, you know? –Good disperses itself throughout the cosmos–and I know that I’ll always have what I need–there’s no lack–there’s no competition–there’s no need to go through life clutching and afraid and feeling like Good is limited and finite, and if someone else has enough then I won’t have enough.

Solace at the Cemetery
In these panicked times
In these fretful, frenzied, frantic times
I have found solace at the cemetery.
The shells of those who’ve lived
here and moved on
to whatever comes beyond
no longer need to distance themselves
from anyone, from me.
I find peace with them–the chrysalises
of my friends–Mike, Rachael, and Debby.

I wander amid the tombstones, snapping
photos of them, and the spinning wheels–
the bright spinners are the only movement
in the cemetery and I feel
drawn to the movement of their rainbow
spinning, faster and faster as I approach,
in a show just for me.

I’m allowed to be here. In the sunshine.
In the peace of the cemetery.
And no one disturbs me as I wander
through the final beds
for the shells of those who
are no longer scared of what lies ahead.

I’m not saying it’s a flawless book–there are a lot of commas I’m itching to add to these excerpts–but it’s a truly beautiful book, full of genuine goodness and kindness. These days, I’ll really, really take that.

My Friend, Jack

You may remember our dear friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines last December when he fought his way through a terminal medical diagnosis to cast his electoral college vote for president. Jack has, with honesty and incredible courage, been keeping us updated on his condition since his diagnosis/prognosis and let us know early this week that he was admitted to the hospital. He has not been far from our thoughts this week. I included a chapter about Jack in the book, Scrapbook of a Year and a Day. Here’s an excerpt:

December 15, 2020

There’s a story about my friend, Jack Arends, in the Huffington Post. I’d recognize that hat anywhere. Jack’s friendship with the Molenaar family goes back more than 60 years – his mother worked in the same office as Dad – Jack’s mom was pregnant with Jack at the same time as my mom was pregnant with me (I arrived on earth a couple months before him). Our families have shared both tragedies and celebrations over the years. Yesterday Jack was my hero.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“A Washington state elector who has a terminal health issue broke down in tears Monday after casting his vote for President-elect Joe Biden, telling a local media outlet that being an elector is part of making his time left ‘count.’…A retired aviation industry analyst, Arends entered the floor of the state Senate in a wheelchair and wearing a brimmed cap reading ‘Play Nice.’ He took a less-than-subtle jab at Trump by bringing two Sharpie markers ― the president’s writing tool of choice on several headline-making occasions – to cast his vote for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”
– Curtis M. Wong, Huffington Post, December 16

Climate Change

“The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals. Physical force and mortal mind are one.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
– I Kings 19:11-12

“God quieted the storm to a whisper; the sea’s waves were hushed.”
-Psalms 107:29

From a human standpoint, our planet is in a bad way and in need of urgent care. Some of our most important heroes today are those people committed to saving our planet and its inhabitants from environmental destruction : Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough come immediately to mind. And I’m thinking the planet needs us ALL to be heroes right now.

We all know that there are things we can do, humanly, to help our planet: reduce; reusue; recycle; compost; buy local; get hooked up to solar or wind-powered energy; use an electric or hybrid car; use reusable shopping bags; and etc. (A good resource for ideas can be found in Columbia Climate School‘s article “The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint”).

And, as a Christian Scientist, I also believe it’s important to align ourselves mentally with the power of Truth and Love to help our world. Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science: “The physical universe expresses the conscious and unconscious thoughts of mortals.” If Eddy is right, when our thoughts are full of fear, greed, carelessness, and apathy – that’s what we’re going to see expressed in the physical universe. And, contrariwise, if our thoughts are full of kindness, gratitude, appreciation, and the desire to nurture what’s good in the world – THAT’s what we’ll see manifested in our physical environment.

Maybe one thing the human race has to work on is the problem we have with taking good for granted. I believe it’s a positive thing to have an “expectancy of never-ending good” – but part of that expectancy should include gratitude for the good we already have. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “We plead for unmerited pardon and for a liberal outpouring of benefactions. Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.”

The race in our culture to acquire and accumulate more matter has not led us to a healthy place. It seems to me that if we really trusted in God, in Love, to supply our daily need, we wouldn’t be driven by fear to hoard matter. In the Bible, Jesus tells his followers: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” (Matthew 6.) And Mary Baker Eddy begins Science and Health with this line: “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.”

As a Christian Scientist, I believe it’s possible to use the power of Love (God) to control our environment and to bring health to our planet – to transform the world. I believe nothing is impossible to Life, Truth, and Love – to God. I believe it is never too late to change our mental environment, and so change our physical environment. But I also believe it is never too EARLY to change our mental environment. As Anne Frank says, “How wonderful it is that nobody need waste a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise, which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, unpright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is.

“Mind’s control over the universe, including man, is no longer an open question, but is demonstrable Science.”
– Mary Baker Eddy (p. 171)

“Is there no divine permission to conquer discord of every kind with harmony, with Truth and Love?”
-Mary Baker Eddy (394)

“When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm.
The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!”
– Matthew 8:23-27

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass…”
Deuteronomy 32:2

“Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. They belong to divine Principle, and support the equipoise of that thought-force, which launched the earth in its orbit and said to the proud wave, ‘Thus far and no farther.'”
-Mary Baker Eddy

“The true Logos is demonstrably Christian Science, the natural law of harmony which overcomes discord, — not because this Science is supernatural or preternatural, nor because it is an infraction of divine law, but because it is the immutable law of God, good. Jesus said: “I knew that Thou hearest me always;” and he raised Lazarus from the dead, stilled the tempest, healed the sick, walked on the water. There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

Genesis 9:
11 And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

“In atmosphere of Love divine, we live and move and breathe…”
Christian Science Hymnal #144

I Taught History for Two Decades…

“Covering iniquity will prevent prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause. Ignorance of the error to be eradicated oftentimes subjects you to its abuse.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

I taught history for two decades. My students learned about the Holocaust, slavery, the Trail of Tears, attacks against Chinese railroad workers and miners, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, and the killing of Charlie Howard. They watched “The Grapes of Wrath” and learned about the struggles and inequity the poor faced during the Great Depression. They learned about the Constitution – about their rights and the rights of others. They practiced being lawyers defending clients against injustice. They created their own presidential candidates out of construction paper and words, and learned about the qualifications their candidates would need to run for president. My students learned about heroes in history, too – they learned about Georgio Perlasca, Irena Sendler, Oskar Schindler, Ghandi, Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Susan Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and the unheralded acts of kindness “common” people showed to others during times of challenge and struggle.

My students learned about these things and people to help give them tools to be heroes themselves one day.

To force teachers to skip over the ugly parts of history – injustice, inequity, racism, political and corporate greed and dishonesty – is not a help to our world, our country, or our students. It is not preparing our young people for the challenges they and/or their friends will be facing in their lives or helping to create the heroes our world so desperately needs.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

A Prayer for Government

“…let no mortal interfere with God’s government by thrusting in the laws of erring, human concepts.”
-Mary Baker Eddy

Feel the unending, enduring power of Truth
enveloping all of creation with wings of Love
sure and all-knowing, without fear or doubt

See the shoddy, shaky, shabby walls of sham
and lies come crumbling down into dust
and blow away in the changing winds –
returning to the nothing they came from

There was never a need for the lies
evil is never a solution; error solves nothing;
Hate serves no purpose.

Government of justice rises from the dust
and rust as it must. In Truth we trust.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell





Dear Balogna and Dicker,

So here’s what I just chose to waste precious life-minutes doing: I looked up the most popular names for 1980 so’s I could make a meme for people with those names. My intent was to shame them and blame them for all the crap our poor world is dealing with right now. I thought I’d do my little part in making the world a better place by finding us all a Generation X scapegoat this time. (I figured it was GenX’s turn now.)

Here’s what I found: The most popular names for boys born in 1980 were Michael, Christopher, and Matthew. The most popular names for girls born in that year were Jessica, Jennifer, and Amanda.

And, when I saw those names come up, all my nefarious plans for name-shaming just melted away. I thought of all my students over the years with those names and I smiled at the happy memories. I thought of how my young friend, Amanda, stood next to me at the local BLM rally and chanted, “Black lives matter!” with me. I thought of my former student, Michael, who’s all grown-up now and lives across the road and volunteers his time and energy in keeping our neighborhood spruced up by planting trees along the street and giving us gravel to smooth out our driveways. I thought of my journalist friend, Matthew, who wrote such a nice story about my dad. I thought of my former student, Jessica, who always greets me with a cheery smile when we run into each other at the supermarket. And I thought of my friend, Jennifer, who I’d met while she was walking her sweet dog, Maya – a dog she’d rescued from euthanasia at a shelter.

And I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do the name-shaming game – even if it meant diverting attention from people named “Karen.”

Dear Balogna and Dicker, I wish you would stop – I wish you would stop perpetuating the “Karen” meme and the name-shaming. “Huffington Post” is supposed to be one of the “good guys” of the magazine world – a bastion of progressivism, fairness, justice, equity. You guys are supposed to stand up to the bullies – not be bullies yourselves. Yet, just when I think the meme has died out and I’m seeing headlines that refer to “racist woman” or “Tennessee woman” or “maskless woman” instead of “Karen” – “Huffington Post” will publish a story about “Karenting” or “anti-mask Karen.” And…I just don’t get it…what’s the point? How is that helping anyone or anything? I don’t see the Karen meme helping the LGBTQ, Asian, or Black communities. I don’t see it saving our environment or ending wars or helping our veterans, or lowering health care costs. I don’t see it helping women find equity, or see it promoting compassion for the elderly or mentally ill or vulnerable. I don’t see the Karen meme adding anything good to the world at all. It’s as helpful as talking about a “maskless Balogna” or an “anti-vax Dicker.”

In the last week I’ve had to notarize papers, and co-sign other papers, and call the IRS to verify the identity of my deceased 101 year-old father and talk to a bank manager about an ATM machine with a glitch – and, believe me, none of this was stuff I WANTED to do. In my personal experience, I’ve found myself talking to managers because I’ve had life-responsibilities that gave me no choice but to talk to managers. I’d rather have gone on some nice walks.

Sincerely,
Karen

Here’s a photo from a nice walk.

Getting the COVID Vaccine

“In the end, it was actually my background in Christian Science that gave me the courage to get the vaccine.”

Several folks dear to me – family and friends – have asked me if I was planning to get the COVID vaccine. To those dear ones concerned about my well-being: I already got my first dose last week.

If you know me, you can probably imagine the thought that went into this decision. In the end I got the shot for my community – to help the people around me feel safe and comfortable, and to help alleviate any worries they might have for me. And I got the shot so I could travel and be with my friends and family without the guilt and responsibility I might feel if I didn’t get the shot.

I had to address a lot of fear in my thoughts before I got the vaccine. To be honest, I was more scared of the vaccine than the virus. I’ve always been less than enthused about getting vaccines – and not because I’m a Christian Scientist (pfft) – but because I’ve had this belief that my body was designed to heal itself naturally and I didn’t want to interfere with that “healing process.” In the end, it was actually my background in Christian Science that gave me the courage to get the vaccine. As I was thinking about my fears, metaphysically, it came to me that it made no sense to think it’s unnatural to put humanly-made vaccines in my body, but to accept the virus as “natural.” Metaphysically, none of it is natural, and none of it can touch my real, spiritual identity as the expression, idea, reflection, image, likeness, manifestation, and child of Love and Truth. I am safe in God. We all are hid safely in our Father-Mother.

So. There you have it. My second vaccine is scheduled in a couple weeks.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“Let not your heart be troubled…”

– John 14

“Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
– Colossians 3:3

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”
– Matthew 22:21

“Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself.”
– Mary Baker Eddy


Marriage Equality

I believe that every citizen – regardless of race, ethnicity, social and economic status, religion, non-religion, gender, or sexual orientation – should have the exact same rights as every other citizen – including the right for consenting adults to marry whom they love.

On Wednesday my husband and I will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary. Every year about this time I find myself thinking back to that happy day and the days leading up to it.

You know those shows you see on television where the bride spends HUGE amounts of time, thought, and bucks choosing the just right ring, dress, caterer, flowers, music, photographer, and reception venue for her “big day” – those shows where every minute detail of the wedding production is analyzed, critiqued, and judged for its merits on visual perfection? Where the ceremony is somber and refined and the highlight of the whole shebang is the dress the bride wears?

Yeah. That wasn’t us.

My engagement ring was a little garnet ring I picked out from a small jewelry shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the man who sold it to us was cheerfully, flamboyantly, hilariously gay – he had us cracking up the minute we walked into his shop. My wedding dress was the first dress I tried on from the sales rack at our local Bon Marche. Cost me $120. Our minister was a hoot – we’d met with him for a required counseling session, and when he told us that anything he had to say to us would be pretty much useless at this point – because it’s really only AFTER the wedding that the bride and groom realize what they’ve gotten themselves into (we later learned that he’d just recently been divorced), we immediately recognized the man had a sense of humor, and he was, for sure, the minister we wanted officiating our nuptials.

The wedding was a joyful, light-hearted affair in a small Methodist church in Gig Harbor – I remember the minister asking us if we really wanted to hold the service in his church – it was very small – could maybe hold 100 people – and very old (it’s since been torn down and a larger church built in a different location) – but, for our purposes, that little church was perfect – I liked the cozy smallness of it and the stained glass windows – and from the church’s steps we could look out across the water and see Mount Rainier rising above the hills in the distance. The wedding itself was simple, joyful, and natural. We weren’t too concerned with “perfection” – we just wanted our guests to feel comfortable and loved. The reception was held in my parents’ backyard – with the sound of laughter, and the smell of daffodils and plum blossoms, filling the air. And we played volleyball in the pasture – the groom’s team won, but it was a close game.

The minister came to the reception, and fit right in with our hooligan families and friends. Before he left he told us that sometimes he’s really worried about the future of the newlyweds he marries – they often seem more concerned about the wedding than the actual marriage – but, after watching us yukking it up with our families and friends, he felt good about being a part of our ceremony. He knew we were going to be alright. We knew how to laugh.

When I think about that day, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to deny other people the right to a wedding, and to a life-long commitment in marriage with the partner they love. I can’t understand why any heterosexual couple would feel their own marriage is threatened by giving everyone else the same rights that they have. I feel a real yearning for other folks who love one another, and are brave enough to make a commitment to each other, to be allowed to have what my husband and I were allowed to have.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

***

“Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” –
from the chapter titled ‘Marriage’ in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy