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Good reads around the net this week

April 14, 2010

I thought this article was interesting! My mom has always told me that she thinks cilantro tastes like soap, and I had no idea what she was talking about – I taste no soap in cilantro. Apparently, she’s not alone! Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault


I’ve been reading a lot of things on the sex abuse scandal in the RC church. Here are a few I think are worth noting:
Worlds Without Women by Maureen Dowd, NYTs – Maureen talks about how I felt in my former life in the RC church.

The Church’s Judas Moment by Maureen Dowd, NYTs – more good stuff from Maureen.

Pope’s No. 2: Pedophilia Linked to Homosexuality This shit is just RICH…really.  Somebody needs to sew up the mouths of the Vatican.

Vatican’s Point Man on Abuse Was Successfully Sued by Whistleblowing Priest (I thought this article was particularly interesting – especially in light of all the decrying of unfair treatment by the press, and an “improved” response on behalf of the church since they were forced made adjustments to their previous policies (or lack thereof) during the initial break of this scandal in Boston.

Pedophilia and Homosexuality RC priest, Fr. James Martin sheds some light and sense on the non-sense spouted in the above article.

It’s Not About Celibacy: Blaming the Wrong Thing for the Sexual Abuse Crisis Another cogent essay by Fr. James on what celibacy is and is not. While I understand his points, I have some further thoughts about requiring celibacy to be a priest. I might write more about this if I get my act/thoughts together, because, I think the problem for me is in the requirement, not the call to celibacy in general.

I may, or may not write more about my thoughts about these articles if the ability to be measured and clear smacks me between the eyes – particularly regarding the view on sexuality, in general, in the Roman Catholic church. I may not be up to this though, and I don’t want my thoughts to degenerate into self-serving vitriol, so I’m cogitating before I write anything.


Insomnia – something I suffer with periodically. Ok – so it’s most of the time, but still! Here are some recent articles that are of interest, or that I find intriguing:

Requiem for a Nice Person Let’s just say, I can relate – sort of. I don’t have quite the misanthropy the essay author relates when I’m sleep deprived, but, I do get easily irritated or agitated when I’ve gone on an extended period of sleeping 2-4 hours a night (often not 2-4 hours in a row, and often for several weeks at a time!). The writer of the essay strikes me as someone who might be diagnosed as a mixed state bipolar – agitated, sleepless, irritated, but sort of depressed too. Just makes me wonder.

In Sleepless Nights, a Hope for Treating Depression Here again, is another article which intrigues my mildly bipolar nature. There is some research that suggests that postpartum depression might be more closely related to bipolar disorders than unipolar depressions, in that those with soft bipolar disorders tend to report postpartum depression more often than those with unipolar depression (Dr. Jim Phleps has a good online resource for soft bipolar depression here – I’ve found this site and his book Why Am I Still Depressed? to be quite useful). As sleep interference is a major component of bipolar disorders, the idea that sleep deprivation improves depressive symptoms in postpartum depressed mothers is a very interesting one to me indeed. This makes it sound like the sleep deprivation of early motherhood may have an adaptive quality in helping new mom’s to cope – or at least it’s a serendipitous by-product. So, I wonder, if sleep-deprivation in new moms is similar in quality to the hypo-manic, manic induced insomnia of bipolar disorder, rather than insomnia induced by anxiety or stress or other sleep pattern disruption. Makes me go, hmmm.


Calls for Civility in General:
Are We Becoming a Nation of Intolerance? I’ve been thinking about this lots as I watch the various debates in secular and church politics, and confessing my general left leanings, noting that the the mere mention of the name Chris Christie, Sarah Palin and/or Rush Limbaugh make me instantaneously and irrationally angry.  It is far too easy to classify those who agree with me as “one of mine” and those who don’t as “them” – which is NOT at all conducive to creating the unified US our country needs us to be, if we are to function appropriately, and not slide into the mire of corruption and/or facism (and if you think that can’t happen here, I’d suggest you pay closer attention to the tactics of the Tea Baggers:  foment anger, create chaos, and recommend a violent course of action and call it asserting ones rights! Ahem!). This article is worth a read, even if what the author writes of should be common sense. Apparently, lots of Americans need this reminder – me included.


And finally, a word on shyness:
Let us now praise…Shyness I have a shy nature – I always have. My grandmother used to characterize me as “stuck up” in comparison to my more “forward” cousins, and to some extent, brother. I’m not the kind of person who will immediately hug you in a way that makes you feel like we’ve known each other forever, and I tend to be quite protective of my own sense of “space”.
So, keeping all that in mind, do I think “shyness” should be a diagnosable disorder as the new DSM will make it (Social Anxiety Disorder)?

The answer is, only if it helps someone who views their shyness as an insurmountable issue to over come it. Having such a diagnosis should add something in terms of the etiological concept of “shyness”, under what conditions “shyness” becomes problematic and the diagnosis should lead to logical, practical alleviation of problematic shyness.

So, who defines “problem” or “insurmountable”, you might ask? Why, the person for whom it is an issue, of course. This isn’t the kind of diagnosis that should stigmatize or limit a person in occupational or social situations – although, by virtue of it being in the DSM, it will. Even though one will not be able to be committed to an institution because one has Social Anxiety Disorder, having this as a diagnosis could prove more harm than good. Shyness is a character trait – a personality variable. All character traits have adaptive and maladaptive qualities – it is the experience of the individual in terms of their own goals and comfort zones, which dictates whether or not or not a character trait is problematic. No character trait, including bizarreness, is an issue if the individual doesn’t perceive it as such, and is capable of social and occupational functioning. And good luck treating anyone with a character issue who doesn’t perceive the issue as problematic, ya know!?

Anyway…these are a few of the articles that have been capturing my attention that I thought I’d share with you all. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2010 2:51 pm

    Most brands of soap don’t taste like toast. They taste like the perfumes used in the soap. While Irish Spring smells wonderful, it’s not something you want to eat.

    Your mother is a generation older than you are, and she remembers what soap itself really tastes like. I assume that Ivory Flakes tastes like soap. Nobody buys it any more; the biggest market was for washing cloth diapers, and everyone buys Pampers these days. People also used it for washing dishes, but people use Dawn these days instead.

    Where I was growing up, the water was incredibly hard. People with 10 grains of hardness think they have hard water, but our well produced water of 80-90 grains of hardness. Hard water doesn’t like soap; you end up with a scum of soap curd unless you use a soap made with caustic potash instead of caustic soda. The only significant brand I know of is Fletcher’s Hardwater Castile soap, but I don’t know if it’s even been manufacturer in the last 20 years. In our 90-grain water, even it was pretty terrible.

    Mostly, we used detergent. Before the Soft Soap brand came out, that meant showering with shampoo instead of soap. Although I’m using soft municipal water, I continue to use shampoo or Soft Soap; I’ve bought one package of bar soap in the last 20 years, and that soap stays in my tool chest, to lubricate screws.

    Cilantro does taste of soap, although I never thought about it before your post. I am familiar with the smell of pure soap from working in the research labs of a company that makes cleaners; in my small factory, we had pallets of 50-pound bags of soap flakes, and I enjoyed the smell, not of perfume but of actual soap.

    I also like the taste of fresh cilantro. We chop it up and mix it in with romaine, iceberg, and dandelion greens when we make a salad – and we’re eating a lot of salad these days. We also buy jars of cilantro-based goop in the hispanic foods section of the supermarket, to add to soups, stews, etc. Fresh would be better, but that involves planning ahead; at my current age, it’s even harder to plan ahead than when I was a responsible adult.

    So you can’t identify the soap taste in cilantro? It could also be that your taste buds work differently than your mother’s and mine. Not better, and not worse – just differently.

    When working in another research lab, one that developed foods, they conducted taste test panels to determine how to formulate new products. Every employee was tested when he/she joined the company to see whether he would be suitable for the taste test panels. The initial test was to determine how sensitive your taste buds were to various tastes. If your tastes matched those of the average consumer, you spent about an hour a day sampling various new recipes. About 75% of us were more or less sensitive than the average consumer, and we had to work a full day instead of getting a couple of opportunities to scarf down the goodies.

    One of the food scientists told me that when someone was rail-thin, they almost always were rejected as being unable to taste anything. That didn’t mean that extra-fat people had extra-sensitive taste buds. Mama always used to look at someone dressed shabbily or reading bad books, or dating some bum and say, “All their taste is in their mouth” but it appears that there are a lot of people who don’t have it even there.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      April 14, 2010 4:11 pm

      Nope..I detect no soap taste in cilantro. Just yummy goodness! And, I’m glad about that! I buy it fresh and jarred too. It’s so good!

      And I guess it’s all true about soap flakes – can’t remember when I saw a box of ’em last.

      Illuminating, as always Harl! 🙂

  2. JCF permalink
    April 15, 2010 1:14 am

    In his “don’t blame celibacy” piece, I think Martin is (at least) implying a false equivalency. After saying that only 4% of priests are accused of abuse, he’s implying that the other 96% are leading celibate lives: this is patently false. I’ve heard guesstimates that MOST RC priests WILL have sex sometime during their priesthood: overwhelmingly, w/ another “consenting adult”…

    …but the Vatican has built the reputation of the priesthood—what makes them So Special—on the notion that they ARE celibate (and/or “chaste”: I still don’t really get the distinction). Imagine: do you think the laity would give so much deference to priests (bishops, Pope) if they ONLY thought of them as “single men”? Hardly!

    So even though few priests are abusing those under-age, MANY MORE have an investment to KEEP the REPUTATION of the Celibate Priesthood: to make sure the flock doesn’t ask questions about “Father’s housekeeper” (who strangely, though single, keeps having children!) or “Father’s friend from college” (w/ whom he takes vacations). The Culture of Secrecy builds on the hypocrisy: THAT is what you get from mandatory celibacy for all (Latin Rite) priests. And with this tradition of “circle the wagons, protect our in-group priestly fraternity”, it’s little wonder that priests who have a thing for boys (or, if they can get them, girls) get protected, too.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      April 15, 2010 10:03 am

      Hey JCF! You are expressing some of my thoughts on the issue of required celibacy. I have a few more of my own, and if I can get it together, I’ll try to write something up on those thoughts.

      The issue with requiring celibacy harkens back to bizarre notions of sexuality that were perpetrated by the Gospel of Paul – sex is base and icky and a huge hallmark of what is wrong with humanity – their animal nature.

      What resonates with me in what James+ wrote about celibacy is the idea that some maybe called to live without a specific life partner, in order to be free to be committed to God and to serve and love God’s people. There is no pull between vocations fora priest who isn’t married (or partnered). So, if this were a choice for priests, in my mind, it would be less of an issue. Anyway…I don’t have it all thought out just yet, but you have brought out some of my thoughts in your comments.

  3. April 23, 2010 9:13 am

    Another thing on the required celibacy thing, I have a friend whose father was an Episcopal priest. Her family converted to Catholicism, so her dad is a Roman Catholic priest. It strikes me as odd that we have one rule for one group, and another for another.

    Fr. Martin has changed my thinking, somewhat, on the idea of celibacy. Before I though of it simply as some lunatic, impossible notion that was inherently disordered. I can see some of his points, specifically on how not being tied down to one relationship can make one more open to loving more people. Still, I don’t buy it completely, and believe that there should simply be different orders: have one (or however many) that embraces celibacy, and others that do not require it. We’d have priests coming out the wazoo.

    (And while they’re at it, they can let women be ordained.)

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      April 23, 2010 1:38 pm

      I’m basically in the same line of thought as you. I can understand people feeling called to a particular spiritual practice, and the practical considerations of priests with no nuclear family of their own, being more “free” to serve God and church (and not having messy divorces and other salacious events related to life and family) – BUT – I object to it being required. They are cutting themselves off from a good number of people who could be effective priests by making this a requirement of the priesthood.

      Also – the argument that a lack of talking directly about Jesus having a mate is a huge call to priests having to be celibate to be in a more perfect imitation of him is just drinking the kool-aid, in my thinking. The lack of talk about his mate or wife – with a book written and translated in many languages, and for whom the primary audience may have had NO concern with Christ’s sex life or marital standing (considering they were expecting the PAROUSIA at any moment…) is NOT incontrovertible proof Christ didn’t have such a relationship. Just that our current interpretations don’t include this information and/or it wasn’t included. (Although, some would argue Christ’s special relationship with Mary Magadalene was buried by the patriarchal church fathers who were NOT prepared to live out quite all of Christ’s radical imperatives…)


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