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    • God As Idea, By Eric Anderson
      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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In Honor of Women’s History Month

Back in February I did a post about gender based violence and I mentioned prehistoric egalitarian societies that centered around life or earth based religions. I got some shit for it, which is perfectly okay. Usually if you’re not irritating someone then you’re not actually accomplishing anything.

In a post on Tuesday, Violet Socks had Artemis March write a guest post about an exhibit on prepatriarchal “Old Europe” in New York City in honor of Women’s History month. She explains:

To appreciate the enormity of what’s at stake here, I invite you to read Joan Marler’s summary of Gimbutas’ work discovering and reconstructing Old Europe (OE), and another about her interpretation of its demise and the prehistoric transition to patriarchy in Europe. Marler is executive director of the Institute of Archaeomythology, dedicated to developing interdisciplinary approaches to the study of prehistoric and present cultures.

The disappearing acts perpetrated through the OE exhibit are hardly unique. Another example is the archaeological team at a key Neolithic site in Asia Minor (Çatalhöyük). Marguerite Rigoglioso exposes the strategies and tactics through which they deny evidence of, and even the possibility of, prehistoric female deities and female authority, and try to marginalize and discredit Gimbutas and others who have the courage to name what they see rather than project a patriarchal pattern onto every prehistoric society.

Marler’s and Rigoglioso’s work helps to bring home an appreciation of the some of the layers and complexity of the struggle to reverse millennia of female invisibility and the intense political struggles over the all-important issues of patriarchal origins and its finite existence rather than its alleged innate nature. Male entitlement, sole male authority, and male control over women are not god-given or “how things are,” but integral to an historically finite, socially constructed type of socio-political system that’s been around for only a few thousand years.

Many who point to the probable existence of Egalitarianism prior to and during the early parts of the bronze age are accused of “Red Tent Feminism,” which isn’t even feminism, IMHO. A feminist believes in the social political and economic equality of men and women, not the social, political and economic superiority of one gender, be it male or female.

The truth is that the existence of such evidence that points to prehistoric cultures that were not patriarchal is not useful because it somehow validates the superiority of women over men or a “separate but equal” nonsense mentality. On the contrary, it is useful because it shows us that patriarchy is not just “the way things are.” It is useful because it validates patriarchy as being detrimental to the evolutionary progress of human beings, rather than beneficial.

As SOD has explained in many informative ways via her posts about social dominance, BMSD sexual fantasies aside, it is partnership between men and women that makes progress for humankind possible, not the dominion of one social group over another.

A lot of people have trouble believing that patriarchy isn’t the norm, and that doesn’t make them anti-feminist, it makes them observant. Patriarchy is ingrained into our psyches not only because it is currently the cultural norm, but because it is drilled into our heads by the media, the entertainment industry, and most of all by religion.

Christianity, by all accounts a fairly new religion, tells us through canonical scripture that man is inherently evil because he took the apple from the tree of knowledge from woman (and a serpent or dragon, which was a symbol of feminine divinity in prebiblical times) and therefore he is condemned unless he accepts the son of a male God who dies on the cross for the original sin in his nature perpetuated by woman and her seductive serpent as his savior and lord. As a narrative it gives us no other option than patriarchy, because not only is mankind evil because of women (after all, isn’t everything a woman’s fault?), GOD isn’t even a woman.

The Bible is the world’s number one best seller and is put forth as the absolute truth by many. Even as a very young child, I could never embrace or even wrap my head around that way of thinking because to me it made no sense. For one thing, it is fairly obvious that the Earth is not five thousand years old, and for another, it didn’t add up that man could be created first when women were the ones who had kids. That still does not make any sense to me and it never will. Hence part of the reason I only talk to my parents twice a year. But I digress.

Human nature is of course, imperfect. By pointing to evidence of prehistoric egalitarian civilizations, no one is saying that it isn’t. The people who lived in those cultures felt pain, sadness and anger. They mourned at the loss of loved ones and sometimes, they failed. Just like the rest of us. No one who recollects those times through archeological evidence recollects them for nostalgic purposes. But how does that saying go? A person who doesn’t know his past has no future. As Artemis explains:

As Mary Daly used to say, by distorting and disappearing our past, they have ravaged and purloined our present and our future. Disappearing acts have gone on for millennia, and they are going on right now, right in front of us. They can be blatant and concrete, as in the absence of women on our currency, our stamps, and the paucity of female statuary in our public life—a situation Lynette Long has recently taken on. They can be as elemental and profound as changing cosmological deities and their stories from female to male—a transition that the late Paula Gunn Allen tracked in numerous Native American traditions, and observed is still taking place. Disappearing acts can be far more devious, complex, and multi-layered as is the case with bringing these Old European artifacts forward.

As we go through Women’s History Month, it is important to remember that our history did not start with the suffragist movement. It did not start with Joan of Arc or Catherine the Great or Rosa Parks. As someone we know and love once said back in a speech in Beijing in 1995, Women’s rights are Human rights. And by extension Women’s history is human history.

Human history started way before any of us could remember it or write it down. And the knowledge that women might have and in fact probably made the very first doctors, priests, writers, artists, and yes, leaders is knowledge that should stay with us all through Women’s History Month. Because those nameless women and American Sheroes like Susan B Anthony and Shirley Chisholm and Margaret Chase Smith aren’t just our past. They are our future.

Thursday, What I know. I think.

I’m at a point in my web design project where the days are blurring together.  I’ve been getting up pretty early and working until it’s time to go to my parent’s house to help out for a few hours.  Then, it’s right back home to the computer.  I’ve barely read a thing — not novels (which is extremely weird since two of my favorite authors have released books in the last month) and not much news.

But, I did pick up this little newsletter, Nutrition Action, Health Letter (published by the Center of Science in the Public Interest). Sadly, not much of their content is online (that’s the main reason I haven’t quoted it here before this.) But in their Jan/Feb 2010 issue they have an article discussing The American Heart Association’s recent report on sugar in the American diet that has turned my world upside down. It’s been two weeks since I first read it and it’s so intriguing I find myself picking it up almost everyday to reread bits and pieces.  Because I’ve got to type them (and because re-print permission is restricted) I’m just going to touch on some of the issues discussed:

Sugar Overload, Curbing America’s Sweet Tooth

“The average American swallows 350-475 calories worth of added sugars everyday. (table sugar, honey, agave syrup, and all other sweeteners with calories)”

The article lists & discusses 10 reasons to cut back.  I’ve been mostly thinking about #1 ::

“You can’t afford the empty calories”

The American Heart Association based it’s advice on what scientists call “discretionary calories” — that is how much room you have for empty calories once you’ve eaten all the vegetables, fruit, lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and other foods you need to stay healthy. (It’s like discretionary income that people can spend on luxuries once they’ve paid all their bills.)

Well, duh. Who among us (at least those of us who have to worry about this stuff) doesn’t know that? And why in the world is it such an earth-shattering idea?

It starts (and ends) with the budget:

A typical woman who should shoot for 1,800 calories a day, for example, would need 1,600 calories from vegetables, fruit, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains to get the nutrients she needs.

That leaves 200 calories to spend (like discretionary income) on whatever she wants. “We said, okay half of that discretionary calorie allowance can come from solid fats and half can come from added sugars,” . . . That’s about 100 calories of each.

A typical man should shoot for 2,200 calories a day. He gets about 150 calories to spend on each.

In a sidebar listing the added sugars for a wide variety of name brand treats, they share the magic numbers:

  • For women (limited to 100 calories of added sugars,) we get 6-1/2 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
  • For men (limited to 150 calories of added sugars,) you get 9-1/2 of added sugars.
  • To convert teaspoons to grams of sugar – multiply by 4
  • To convert teaspoons to calories from sugar — multiply by 16

It’s killing me that I can’t reproduce this list of the sugar in brand name treats.  It’s so clear and simple, I should tear it out of the newsletter (or scan it?) and keep it with me constantly.

  • Yogurt, low-fat vanilla (6 oz) — 3-1/2 teaspoons
  • Nestea Iced Tea Sweetened Lemon — 10 teaspoons
  • Panera Pecan Roll — 12 teaspoons
  • Starbucks Pumpkin scone — 11 teaspoons

I’ve been struggling with my weight and it’s impact on my health for years.  And lately, I’ve been worrying about how long I can manage my diabetes if I can’t keep my weight at a healthy level.

Now, I happen to be REALLY good at losing weight.  I’m sure I’ve lost a couple of hundred pounds over the course of the last 30 years.  But, the flip side of that (the dark side) is that I’ve gained a couple of hundred pounds over those years too.  And all that needless eating, all that extra weight (thankfully, not all at once) has certainly put a strain on my kidneys already.

For the past five years I’ve been really good about not eating between meals & not taking seconds. I haven’t drunk soda pop for over 20 years. I drink 2 liters of water most days. And I walk 3 miles most days. I eat almost all meals at home. And we make those meals from scratch.

But, still I struggle with my weight. Before reading this article, I was very discouraged. My weakness? I get bored counting calories. Or I decide they don’t matter “just today” — while of course they do.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who get’s tired of counting to 1,800. It’s a constant drag. Well this article changes everything and gives us a formula we can easily follow.

We can all count to 6 (or 10)

It’s incredible! Instead of thinking, “I’ve been good all week – I can eat that cookie” – I think, “Is this cookie worth half my sugars for today?” and mostly it’s not. And it’s REALLY helped when I go to the coffee shop with my friend: There is no way in the world I can “afford” to eat a Panera Pecan Roll with 12 teaspoons of sugar!

Of course calories still count — but, this article proves that to control weight we should put our focus on the calories that hurt us the most.  And what a sweet surprise that counting them is so easy.