Evangelical Baby Part 3


Evangelical Baby (Memoir, Part 3)

Driving back from the gynecology clinic knowing the results of the examination we were both initially subdued.  Then, he looked over at me in the passenger seat and smiled broadly, “I’m going to be a father!”   His smile didn’t faded when I started questioning him about when we should tell our families, and next steps . . . like maybe marriage, one those dusty old institutions people still seem to participate in.

The good news, if you could call it that, was now as hormonal 23-year-old’s we didn’t have to worry about pregnancy.  The bad news was, just like that old blues singer, Tina Turner, sang, “What’s love got to do with it?”  That was a great question considering that in our religious backgrounds, love was supposed to have everything to do with it.   For the record, I was in love with my boyfriend.  He, however, seemed more smitten with the sex.  Such an old story.

So I got that waitressing job I’d forecast to the college Finance officer at a truck stop a couple of miles from my apartment and my boyfriend went back to the family farm, driving the hour into town to visit me for conjugal visits at least once a week.  He put off telling his parents about our growing dilemma, but finally broke the news to his sister, a social worker and also an evangelical Christian.  She was shocked and disheartened for her brother and ironically, curious about why I hadn’t been on birth control, as if the big Christian taboo of premarital sex was okay as long as there was protection.

“Hypocrite!” I thought, but I didn’t say anything.  She on the other hand, insinuated there was some sort of entrapment, that I’d figured out a way to force my boyfriend to marry me.  I was so offended.  Overall, not a great introduction to his family.

Book Review: Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius

Buddha Brain

Genre: Meditative, Science, Nonfiction
Buddha’s Brain, a book that responds to this question: Why am I not happy and how can I become happier?

Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius has something important to tell us about how the brain functions and what that has to do with mood disorders.  Hanson and Mendius, a neuropsychologist and a neurologist, believe that the basic tenants of Buddhism: mindfulness, virtue, and wisdom, can be applied to the three fundamental neural functions of the brain:  learning, regulating, and selecting.  I found this book both helpful and fascinating, the way the authors explained how the teachings of an ancient religion have something significant to say about healing the mind and improving our emotional health today.  “We get upset about being in pain, angry about dying, sad about waking up sad yet another day.  This kind of suffering–which encompasses most of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction–is constructed by the brain.  It is made up.  Which is ironic, poignant–and supremely hopeful,” Buddha’s Brain, pg. 12.

Book Review: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery, Women’s Lit

A question this book asks:  Can you be more loyal to a friend(s) than your mate?

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware is definitely chick lit, but it’s a good story and well told.  It’s one chosen by the Reese Witherspoon book club, which may or may not be a good thing.  It’s a tried and true formula.  Four women have a dark secret from their school girl days.  Now as adults, they’ve come together once again to stave off new questions about the body that was buried.  Ware, a British author, keeps the suspense going and does a nice job describing the rugged English coast and the kind of people that live there.  What makes this story interesting to me though, is actually a subplot, the relationship between the narrator, Isa (one of the four women) and her partner, Owen.  Isa says she loves Owen, but their child together, and her old friends, always seem to come first.



Idaho Governor’s Race

Political Commentary

Dear candidates for political office: please tell us, your public, something we don’t already know. This would be so helpful when we vote in the primary. Rather than signing on to Team Red or Team Blue and showing our team loyalty, it would actually be nice to vote for something, as opposed to someone or some side.

Take the Idaho Governor’s race for example. I don’t know much about Tommy Ahlquist or what he proposes to do, but I do know via TV advertisements that he is a lying, closet democrat. I also know that both Brad Little and Paulette Jordan look great on a horse cantering around the ranch. Raul Labrador however, is about the laziest person on earth and did absolutely nothing, NOTHING in Washington when he was our representative there. And though I’m sure A. J. Balukoff is a great guy and super sportsman, he needs to lose the oversized hunting cap. Sorry A. J., but you look like Elmer Fudd hunting Daffy Duck in that cap.

Probably some of the readers reading this would say that these gubernatorial candidates have extensive policy proposals which they have attempted to discuss and debate through a multitude of mediums the past few months. I’m not saying that we, your voters, are dumb. But I will say that listening to a dry litany of canned proposals edited and rewritten by your assistants is about as much fun as reading the fine print on my cell phone contract.

So maybe it’s your messaging. I realize it must be very comforting, when facing an upstart broadcaster looking for a “gotcha” moment to revert to talking points. Don’t do it. Please. We already know you’re the non-establishment candidate for lower taxes and smaller government. Yes, we your voters agree that education is important. We know all that.

See, this is the messaging debacle: it either doesn’t explain enough or it explains too much. Don’t just tell your voters that education is important. Talk a little about how you want to change education in Idaho because it’s unfair that 56 school districts, mostly rural and poor, can only send their kids to school four days a week, while big city schools like Boise educate their kids a full week, every week.

You can smile all you want and tell the camera the importance of preserving public lands (yet another talking point), but we’d actually listen to you if you told us how much public land, land people might want to mountain bike on for example, has been sold the past five years to private entities. And for those voters more visually stimulated, a film clip showing fisherman or hikers running into no-trespassing signs would be nice.

We’re just starting the mid-term election cycle so there’s plenty of time to improve your message. Help your voters out. Don’t bore them to tears. Consider it, well . . . a public service.

Evangelical Baby Part 2

Evangelical Baby, Part 2 (memoir)

The Finance Officer was creepy, no doubt, still he’d manage to make me feel guilty. As an evangelical Christian, I knew the rules. The Bible was clear about fornication and my boyfriend and I had been fornicating since the summer before. If I was serious about Christianity I needed to take the leap of faith and throw away the birth control pills. It felt as scary as scuba diving without an oxygen tank. And just like that scenario, without protection, you really are asking for trouble.
I guess I believed my faith, my commitment to Christ would protect me. What I hadn’t banked on was my heretic boyfriend. He wasn’t a noble, naive Adam to the temptress Eve. No, I’d have to say my boyfriend was more akin to the snake in the garden in that story. And he was a Mennonite for god’s sake. Maybe not a practicing one, only culturally, like being a secular Jew, but still, you’d think being surrounded and saturated with religion and religious teaching, at least one of us would have exerted more willpower.
What I found out was that neither faith nor willpower can trump hormones. Heavy and frustrated petting lasted a little while for us, until that time he took me back to show me the old cabin he was staying in on the edge of his father’s farm.  It was there, on the floor next to the wood stove, our daughter was conceived.

Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Genre: Literary Fiction

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is not an entertaining book. If you’re looking for that, don’t read this. It is a National Book Award winner for fiction though–no small feat.  And, it’s creatively written, almost viscerally written in its descriptions of butchering a goat or driving with a sick baby in a hot car.  It is ultimately a desolate tale of a drug addled Black mother and her mixed race son, Jo Jo, trying to emotionally survive racism and poverty in the deep South. There are places of subtle lyrical beauty in this story: when Jo Jo looks to the blue sky and feels his spirit lift or when, after his mother Leonie emotionally abuses him, his grandfather, Pop, steps in with strength and stability.  The ghosts in this story, the unburied, supply the conscious, authentic voices so desperately needed. They sing to this family, reminding them of their past in order that Leonie, Pop, and Jo Jo might better navigate their future.