Do Not Assume

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 that because I identify as a “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 if we see others in terms of stereotypes we miss out on some beautiful friendships and kinship with our fellow humans.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Karens for Justice (Trust Me, You Want These Karens on Your Side)

Without going into detail about what was going on here, my eldest son just witnessed me talking to a customer service rep on the phone. During the course of the conversation the customer rep asked me my full name. I told her I was really embarrassed to give her my first name now because of the meme, but I promised her I wasn’t going to want to talk to her manager. The son could hear her laughing through the phone. We had a delightful conversation and she helped me solve my problem and wished me a good day.

The son said he really enjoyed listening to how I talked to the rep. He said he witnessed me “dispelling myths and solving problems at the same time.”

That felt good. 🙂

Honestly, though? Lately I’ve been struggling with the Karen meme a little.  For years my Karen friends and I have marched, gone to rallies, written letters against bigotry and injustice, fought our own personal battles for equality – and now it feels like all that we’ve invested  in equality – all our words and efforts – are being brushed aside like they never mattered to anyone or made any difference.  The Karens – or maybe middle-aged women in general – are being lumped into one monolithic group and stereotyped – told by others what we believe – our own personal narratives taken from us and discounted.  

And that really stinks.  

Yesterday morning I read an article about a man who wrote “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on his own property and was chastised for doing that by a woman NAMED LISA who didn’t believe him when he said it was his property. I was immediately indignant on this man’s behalf – ready to share his story in my Facebook progressives group. And then I saw it. The news writer covering the story – a mainstream media writer named Madison Vanderberg – wrote: “The world is still protesting, marching, calling DA offices, signing petitions, and overhauling their social media presence in the name of civil rights and yet, despite all of this, Karens of the world are still calling the cops on people of color.” And a little further on the man himself – the very man who had been a victim of bigotry – referred to the woman NAMED LISA as a “Karen.” (It is interesting to note that no label was attached to the woman’s husband – who was also present.)

And seriously?

I found myself shutting down – just staring at the screen and trying to process what the hell I’d just read there.

And here’s the thing: Exchanging one target of bigotry for another is not progress, you know?

Let me share some of the stories of the Karens who are my friends –
Karen Blair Troinello was a gifted runner, born at a time when females did not have equal opportunity to participate in school sports. She changed that: “Troianello is more than a passionate advocate of sports for girls. She is a pioneer who left her name — her maiden name — forever etched in state history. She is the former Karen Blair, the named plaintiff in the landmark Blair v. Washington State University lawsuit in 1979 that forced greater gender equity in college athletics.” (The Seattle Times, June 16, 2012.)

Because of Karen Blair Troinello equity was legislated for females in school sports. Let’s show her some appreciation.

My friend Karen Beckner has long fought for equality – here’s a photo of her in The Skagit Valley Herald, marching for the rights of migrant children.

And my friend Karen Rippberger ran for public office as a progressive in a conservative district in Oregon, and – although she didn’t win the election – she’s played a huge part in helping her local LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights. Laura Camacho wrote in her voter’s guide: ” Karen Rippberger has a servant’s heart approach to leadership that is palpable on her website.”

Trust me – you want the Karens who are my friends  fighting on your side. The Karens who are my friends don’t put up with bigotry, inequity, stereotypes, ageism, racism, sexism, discrimination, or lazy labels.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Coming to the Surface to be Healed

I think there are things coming to the surface right now that need to come to the surface. And no – it’s not just about Trump – in the last few years I’ve seen corruption exposed in both of the major parties, and in big corporations, health insurance, and the way we’ve treated our environment, women, and minorities. I’m grateful it’s coming to the surface so we can correct it, but it sure ain’t pretty to behold.

I want to add this: I’ve also witnessed a reverse kind of bigotry – directed towards people who happen to be white, straight, and male. I think we need to be careful not to get sucked into that kind of bigotry, either. There’s a lot of self-righteousness and puffed-up indignation coming from both sides. I find myself doing it, too. I’m trying to be conscious and self-aware. I’m trying to be grateful for those times when my own flaws and foibles come to the surface. But it ain’t always easy to admit to them. Ego does not like to be shown it’s wrong. 

I’m thinking we’re all dealing with our own nonsense – each and every one of us. Let’s give each other grace. We’re all in this together.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Ignorance, subtlety, or false charity does not forever conceal error; evil will in time disclose and punish itself.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“A sinner is not reformed merely by assuring him that he cannot be a sinner because there is no sin. To put down the claim of sin, you must detect it, remove the mask, point out the illusion, and thus get the victory over sin and so prove its unreality… A sinner is afraid to cast the first stone. He may say, as a subterfuge, that evil is unreal, but to know it, he must demonstrate his statement. To assume that there are no claims of evil and yet to indulge them, is a moral offence. Blindness and self-righteousness cling fast to iniquity.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known.
– Matthew 10:26

“Cool! What is that?”

“The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart.” 
– Mary Baker Eddy

I didn’t usually tell people right away – and certainly not the men I dated. I always thought it was better if they got to know me first as a human being. Sometimes it took months for me to tell my friends. Sometimes years. Sometimes the moment never came. I have friends who maybe STILL don’t know. After a number of early experiences, I’d come to the realization that some people would see me differently as soon as they found out. In the past I’d had all kinds of labels attached to me that weren’t really me – I’d been instantly lumped in with fundamentalists and creationists; with people who speak in tongues and handle snakes; with dominionists and faith healers and fire-and-brimstone folks. When one friend – who’d known me for years – finally found out, she’d asked me if I would just leave her bleeding and injured on a sidewalk if she was hit by a car. Which. What…?!

So I guess it says something about Scott that I told him on our first date. I no longer remember how the subject came up, but I found myself saying, “I’m a Christian Scientist.” I guess I half-expected an awkward pause after my reveal, but Scott quickly responded with, “Oh! That’s cool.” Then he glanced over at me, and asked, “What’s that?” 🙂

Turns out he’d never heard of Christian Science! And that was AWESOME – it meant I could explain what it was all about from my own perspective, without any preconceived ideas on his part. I can’t remember now exactly what I said – I probably talked about the Christian Science idea of God as the power and presence of Love; I probably talked about how I had experienced healings in my life by drawing my thoughts close to this power of Love.  And as I talked he listened and nodded and accepted me. He shared some of his own thoughts about God – he’d been raised in the United Methodist tradition of New England and he, too, had been raised to believe in a loving God who cared for His children. He understood the beliefs I was describing, and accepted me as “me” right away.

Scott and I have never had a need to “convert” each other – to try to make each other hold the exact same religious beliefs. If asked, he’d probably still say he was a Methodist. If asked, I’d probably still say I was a Christian Scientist. But beyond religion, we share the same values – we both believe in the power of kindness. We both believe we should be generous to those in need; fair and honest in our dealings with others; and protective of our natural environment. We both believe we shouldn’t be quick to make judgments about others.

It’s been thirty-six years now since I  had that first conversation with Scott. Through all that time he’s continued to be supportive of me and my practice of Christian Science. I am so grateful for him, and for people like him – people who approach others with open minds and hearts – ready to listen and share and learn from each other – people able to go past stereotypes and see the individuals behind the labels.

what people think I do

He Made My Day

From yesterday

So when I was getting ready to pull out of the Sisters Espresso parking lot this morning another person got out of his truck and started walking up to the espresso stand. He looked serious and grim. From appearances he was pretty much everything I’m not: male; tall; young; of a different ethnicity. And as I was thinking these thoughts, and feeling a little intimidated by the serious expression on his face, he glanced my direction. Without thought I smiled at him through the car window – and he smiled this beautiful charming smile back at me – totally took me by surprise!

He made my day.

“…Love is reflected in love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

my country is killing people

my country is killing people
separating parents from children
building walls to keep “them” out
and to keep “us” in
my country is killing people
in the streets because of the color
of their skin, their sexual orientation,
and their religion
my country is killing people
in their newspaper offices, churches,
at concerts, schools, and malls
because guns are more important
my country is killing people
in an economy that gives tax
cuts to the rich, and denies access
to health care for the poor
my country is killing people
as it kills the environment with coal
trains, fracking, oil pipelines, pesticides
and greed

and i am ashamed

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Urgency of the Moment

“…Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment…

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character…

“…and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
from the “I Have a Dream” speech

King’s words are still relevant today – and we are, again, living in a time when we need to recognize “the urgency of the moment.” Our nation is at a crossroads, isn’t it? All the slime and ooze hidden on the bottom of the pond has been stirred up and is coming to the surface – corruption, racism, bigotry, and greed are being exposed to the light. Now it’s up to us to decide, as a nation, what we’re going to do about it. The decisions we make now – the direction we choose to go – is going to determine our fate.  I’m thinking we should choose equality, freedom, and justice, right?

I keep hanging onto the memory of that night – the night of the election – when I saw a shooting star streak across the sky and the voice said, “Trust. Everything is happening as it needs to happen.” But the voice didn’t tell me what was to come would be easy, or that it wouldn’t involve some effort, time, sweat, tears, courage, and prayer…

trust

“Peals that should startle the slumbering thought from its erroneous dreams are partially unheeded; but the last trump has not sounded, or this would not be so. Marvels, calamities, and sin will much more abound as truth urges upon mortals its resisted claims; but the awful daring of sin destroys sin, and foreshadows the triumph of truth.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Open-Minded Cat

Kitty doesn’t care if I’m male or female,
overweight, underweight, old, young,
Democrat, Republican, black, white,
red, or blue.
Kitty responds to what’s in my heart
and the kindness I do.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart.” 
– Mary Baker Eddy