How Cooking Can Change Your Life

I just wanted to share this video, narrated by Michael Pollan, that Maya Adams posted as I think that this ultimately is the take-home message of the Just Cook for Kids nutrition course: eat whatever you like, as long as you cook it yourself (and that way moderation is easy).

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PTSD

It’s a never ending nightmare
A long dark tunnel
A permanent panic attack
Pain in my chest
Never feeling safe
Down the rabbit hole
Into unreality
I’m reaching out
Trying to slow my fall
Wondering what is real
Hoping I will wake up
Holding in my rage
But discovering
I turned it in on myself

Responsible Homeschooling

I had an unsettling conversation this week with a young woman, a survivor of fundamentalist evangelical religion, who was homeschooled in the US, against her will, in such a way as to severely hamper her life chances due both to the paucity of the education, and the fact that – as anti-government fundamentalists – her parents had failed to obtain any documentation for her, including even birth certificate or social security number.

The discussion thread where this exchange took place was eventually shut down as it turned a little bit nasty, with all the homeschool parents defending their decision and defending homeschooling generally as superior to public (state) schooling, and all the damaged homeschool children shouting that the parents had no right to comment on the children’s stories.

I’ll admit that it did bring out the defensive in me. I remember, years ago, fighting battles to protect the rights of home educating parents in the UK against a government that was claiming it needed extra powers due to the risk of home education being used as a cover for abuse generally or child marriage specifically.

We won that last round of the battle, by showing that firstly the government and local authorities already have perfectly sufficient powers to act to protect children, and secondly that the allegation of home education being used to cover up child marriage was nonsense, since that particular abuse was being visited upon schooled children who were simply being taken abroad during the summer holidays.

Here is the thing though. I have no doubt that children are being abused under the cover of home education by religious fundamentalists in the UK even though the law is sufficient to prevent physical abuse, and here is why.

The kind of abuse that is most likely is neither viewed as abuse nor legally defined as abuse. The abuse is forcing children to be schooled in a way to which they do not consent.

Legally, children do not need to consent to education, either at home or at school. I’m sure that it’s clear that many if not most children who go to state school do not consent to it, and many would choose not to if they had a choice. But they do not have a choice.

School does not suit every child, and it is crucially important to have a legal alternative to school. Equally, home education does not suit every child and it is vitally important that parents do not force children to stay at home if they want to go to school.

I absolutely support responsible home education (although defining what constitutes ‘responsible’ warrants further discussion, as the option for unschooling or education which does not need to traditional qualifications needs to be taken into consideration), and I absolutely do not support any kind of home education which employs coercion or keeps children at home against their will.

It is important that we take these stories of homeschooled children seriously, and that we taken them on board when considering what kind, if any, regulation should be in place, whilst at the same time being aware that most parents protect the best interests of their children, and government regulation is often a very blunt instrument that can do more harm than good.

What is the best way to ensure children are safe? It is a continuing discussion. But I suspect that encouraging integration is helpful. One of the allegations made against us was that our children were “hidden”, but again we showed the claim to be false – we are out and about and in the world far more than schooled children.

One of the homeschooling mothers in the discussion mentioned that the state of Ohio has an open policy which enables homeschooled children to access all kinds of classes and resources through the schools. Sadly, the way things are set up in this country means that unless a child is registered at a school (and therefore under the school’s authority), we cannot access anything at all, despite the fact that we pay our taxes to fund schools in exactly the same way as other parents do.

Flexi-schooling is a rarely available compromise which requires the parents to register their children at school, but which allows them leave to attend part-time or intermittently. Sadly it is rare because it is not a right in law, but is up to the discretion of the head of the individual school. Some parents, additionally, are reluctant to register their children since it effectively means giving up authority.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the biggest problem lies in government viewing parents as the enemy (and obviously fundamentalist parents view the government as the enemy). It would be far more helpful if we were able to work together to make resources available for the benefit of all children – both those who thrive at school, and those who do not.

 

In the Hands of the Prophets

Are you okay?
Okay? I’ve forgotten okay. I haven’t seen okay in what seems like years.

Episode Summary

Vedek Winn visists the station and causes a controversy when she declares that Keiko O’Brien’s teaching of science about the wormhole amounts to blasphemy as far as Bajoran spirituality is concerned, since referring to the Prophets as alien entities dishonours the celestial temple.

Winn manages to turn all the Bajorans on the station against the Star Fleet personnel including the Bajoran engineering staff, and the school is temporarily closed down.

It all comes to a head when the school is bombed and when Vedek Bareil (the much more progressive and forward thinking Vedek and favourite for the position of Kai) arrives, there is an attempt on his life, as well as another murder – all of which Winn has cunningly orchestrated behind the scenes.

Kira, who had originally supported Winn’s position ends up seeing with painful clarity exactly what sort of woman she is and what she has done, and the lengths she is willing to go to in order to get what she wants.

Notes

The argument over the teaching of the prophets is clearly a metaphor for the teaching of creationism in American schools (and, to a lesser extent, in private schools in the UK and around the world – my contact Jonny Scaramanga has been working tirelessly to expose the use of ACE teaching materials in the UK. I wrote about this a while ago in “Culture Clash“, although I have changed my mind considerably since I wrote that post – having looked at the details of the curriculum and heard the voices of the affected students).

On the Station

These DS9 posts were originally started on the blog “The Bajoran Exile” that I wrote on Open Diary way back when. I didn’t ever get as far as this last episode of season 1 there before we moved away to the place without an internet connection and meanwhile the platform shut down entirely. So I’m pleased to have managed to resurrect it and finish the season.

DS9 was not my favourite emanation of Star Trek but I grew to love it, especially as I recognised in Kira a fellow angry and feisty survivor, and readily identified with her.

I have found Star Trek in all its forms to be a really useful metaphor and window into life, the universe and everything. It means that I have an almost endless supply of topics to write on, which as you know I find cathartic and helpful, so I’ll enjoy carrying on into season 2 and beyond. (Watch this space!)

Now that I have amalgamated all my blogs, it means I’ll be writing about DS9 and Voyager in the same place, so I hope that’s not too confusing. If it’s Star Trek overload, I apologise, but you may be in the wrong place. I can’t de-nerdify my inner geek. It’s out now and proud; it’s the core of my being!

LLAP

Time and Again

Quick Summary of the Episode

As Voyager starts to make its way through the Delta Quadrant on its way home to the Alpha Quadrant, they pass a planet which has been decimated by a polaric energy disaster. When the away team go to investigate, Janeway and Paris are pulled back in time to just before the disaster – the explosion had shattered time and space into fractures.

Unable to get back, Janeway and Paris attempt to investigate the cause of the detonation, but (to cut the story short), it transpires that it is Voyager’s own rescue attempt that causes the disaster, and when Janeway acts to counter their beam cutting into the past, the disaster is averted, and the whole incident never happened. We are returned to Voyager before they find the planet, and since it is a pre-warp civilisation, they just move on by without visiting.

Notes

This is the first time we learn about Kes’ special mental abilities – when the civilisation is destroyed, Kes sees the explosion happening.

I really love these time travel episodes, there are so many wild possibilities! I just love time travel!

In My Life

I have been physically out of fundamentalism for six years but it is only this year that I have started facing up to what that means, working through it, ‘deconstructing’.

Recently I have started to be flooded with flashbacks and memories of my years growing up in the church in the 70s and 80s.

The name of this episode always makes me think of Cyndi Lauper’s song ‘Time after Time”, which in turn makes me think of being a teenager in the 80s, in a world of conflicts between what I was seeing at school, in the news, and in ‘real life’ as compared with the worldview inside the bubble of the strict Baptist, evangelical church we were attending at the time.

Now, when I say “attending”, it wasn’t just once on a Sunday. It was 3 times on a Sunday (10.30 morning service, 3 pm Sunday school and 6.30 pm evening service), Bible studies on Wednesday evenings, and ‘Youth Group’ on Fridays, constant dinners and visits with other members – rarely a day would go by without some kind of contact or another. We had effectively exchanged one cult for another.

I regularly search for friends I had in these churches, but their names have zero hits on internet searches. It’s as if they have fallen off the edge of reality, as though I conjured them up out of my imagination. What happened to them? It always amazes me slightly when I search for the churches that there are no hits describing them as horrible, damaging cults. Did nobody experience them in the same way I did?

I’ve already mentioned my friend who was being abused by the Sunday School Superintendent. But I wanted to share another incident that really affected me at the time and which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

One of the older girls got pregnant. It was never discussed openly, only whispered about in quiet corners. This was not long before my mother got ill with her Bipolar, so I don’t know how this affected the church but I do know the girl in question was forced to give up her baby for adoption. I often wondered whether she was given the choice of adoption or marriage. I suspect that she was never even given a choice. I don’t know how this affected her, I only know how it would have affected me. I was and still am heartbroken for her.

I can’t really put into words exactly how evangelical thinking is so toxic – so many other writers are doing so ably elsewhere.

“It seems I’ve found myself on the voyage of the damned.” – the Doctor

What really beats me is how, having got out of it almost completely when my mum got ill, I put myself under the same teaching again later on.

I wonder now, what our lives might have been like if we had never got involved with evangelical fundamentalism? What if, when my parents met the American missionaries, they just said “no thanks, we’re happy where we are”? We wouldn’t have moved on to another toxic church, I wouldn’t have put myself under such toxic teaching again as a young mother.

I am sure that my mother always had bipolar, as she had a breakdown before I was born, but she was stable for most of my childhood. I wonder, though, if she would not have got so ill if she hadn’t been triggered over and over by the toxicity of the church?

But ultimately, it’s probably not very helpful to go over the ‘what if’s’. Sadly we can’t go back and undo what we did and what was done to us. I just need to know how and where we go on from here.

Diary of an Autodidact: John Piper Steps In It on Rape and Sex

I saw this yesterday and thought I’d share it because, although at first glance it looks as though Autodidact is making more of John Piper’s post than was really there, it is really a very good and on point analysis of how fundamentalist evangelicals view women and sexual sin.

So it’s definitely worth reading and considering.

And, needless to say (or perhaps not), if you are evangelical, please don’t just say “not all evangelicals”, chew it over and consider firstly whether the church you’re in may be preaching these twisted ways of looking at women, sex, power and abuse, and secondly, whether you have absorbed these ways of thinking and how you might change your mind.

http://fiddlrts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/john-piper-steps-in-it-on-rape-and-sex.html?m=1

OpenDoor – The Vegan Society 1976

Just a quick share while the blog is under refurbishment!

As I’m sure you know, I’m a very big 70s fan, and since I have recently returned to veganism, I thought this very 70s 30 minute BBC documentary on veganism was rather lovely. Completely dated of course (we have so much more choice today) but the arguments are still good 😀

Enjoy!

Unification

This is just a quick note, for anybody who might be reading/ interested, to let you know that I have decided to amalgamate all my various blogs – The Bajoran Exile, Chakotay Homestead, Seaside Therapy, Shepherdess, Messianic Woman etc. back into one right here (hopefully that should be achievable, as they’re all on WordPress). 

When it’s all done, you can expect more of the same, but with a much heavier dose of Star Trek analogies.

I don’t know exactly why I have this continual impulse to start new projects that I can’t possibly keep up with, but it is certainly a recurring theme. I shall attempt to stop it immediately. 

I haven’t written anything anywhere recently (unless you count twitter and facebook), due to mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. That has made me realise how ridiculous it is to have so many blog projects on the go at once, and so hopefully I will start writing again soon because at least I won’t have the excuse of not writing due to being overwhelmed by too many choices.

I think as well that all the splintering into so many different voices has been indicative of my state of mind over the last few years and so I’m feeling that the time is right to finally sort my head out and pull myself together. Metaphorically.

Wish me luck or something! 👍

Head injury update

Just a quick mini post-ette as I’m suffering a bit after trapsing all around the hospital yesterday.

As you may know, I have literally had a permanent headache since 1983 after my head injury when I was knocked off my bike in a hit and run. 

It has taken me 34 years to get a doctor to take me seriously.

Yesterday, the MRI revealed a trauma cyst the size of a giant marble!

So I’m quite thrilled (at being vindicated after being ignored and dismissed for so long) at the same time as being freaked out that I need surgery! 😂

Parallax

“I can do some wonderful things with vegetables, Captain! My feragoit goulash is known across twelve star systems.”

– Neelix

Summary

In the episode, the Voyager crew respond to a distress call from an unknown ship trapped in an anomaly, which – thanks to temporal mechanics, which are notoriously unpredictable – turns out to be their own distress call after they find themselves trapped in the same anomaly after trying to rescue the other ship, which is in fact Voyager.

Meanwhile, Torres fights with Jo Carey who was in line for the position of Chief Engineer, and shows herself to be the most competent despite her issues with self-control and disliking the suffocating Star Fleet structure.

Having realised they are looking at a time-delayed mirror image of themselves, they have to punch their way out of the rift in the anomaly, making sure that they head for the real Voyager and not the mirror image.

Notes

I just love temporal mechanics! Time loops, time leaks, temporal incursions, effect preceding cause! It’s great! Some of my most favourite episodes and films (within Star Trek as well as elsewhere) involve time travel or related weirdness. Unlike the real Janeway – who makes a point of trying to avoid time travel, temporal mechanics would definitely be my favourite subject at the Academy! (If only!)

Real Life

In the last few weeks, I have started looking at my childhood and young adulthood within Christian fundamentalism, and the effects it has had on me, my family and my children. Thankfully I got out before I allowed it to do any significant damage to my children. But coming face-to-face with what I was, what I believed and now what Christian Fundamentalism continues to do, is a little horrifying. I can’t believe that I’m looking at myself, even if it is a ‘time-delayed reflection’.

Ironically, when it all gets too much to face, my natural inclination is to retreat back to the bubble of Fundamentalism, because it is so familiar and comfortable, it feels like home. This is classic Stockholm Syndrome. Even when the opportunity to escape presents itself, the world outside has become more scary (due to indoctrination) than the toxic world you know.

I read just a day or two ago that it can take years if not decades for survivors to recover from the effects of spiritual abuse. I swing through a range of emotions, including a lot of self-loathing and lack of confidence, as well as an underlying arrogance I know I need to keep in check. I think this is all probably quite normal under the circumstances. But I’m beginning to realise that I need to be less hard on myself. What happened to me was not my fault. But I do need to take responsibility for my part in perpetuating the abuse, the legalism, the judgementalism.

Where do I go from here? I feel as though I can’t trust my own judgement anymore. I don’t know what I believe, or what is true. I keep asking myself the question, is it possible to come out the other side with a ‘sane faith’? I think I need to go right back to the very basics and start again from scratch. re-examine what I thought I knew, what I believed to be unquestionably true. Somehow I need to throw off all the baggage of negative teaching and get to the other side. If only it were as simple as making a one-time decision, to ‘punch through’. I suspect it will be a little bit like forgiveness: I forgive, but I have to continue to forgive the same infraction over and over, every time it comes to mind. I must ‘walk in forgiveness’. Perhaps, equally, I must ‘walk’ in re-examination, critical thinking, accepting the good, rejecting the bad, over and over. My Dad’s motto in life, which he often repeated to me, was “Eat the meat, and leave the bones.” I think that’s a useful philosophy. Weigh it up. Analyse. Question.

I particularly like the way Janeway and Torres bounce ideas off each other in this episode. I have seen a bit of talk on finding a ‘Spiritual Director’ lately (as well as an ‘Elder Board’ of peers to keep one accountable), and I am reminded how much I miss my Dad who was my mentor for a long time. I don’t know anybody who could match his intelligence and knowledge, or his warmth and kindness and depth of insight. Despite his experiences within Fundamentalism, and the real damage it did to him, it was he who showed me the God of love.

In command school, they taught us to always remember that maneuvering a starship is a very delicate process, but over the years, I’ve learned that, sometimes, you just have to punch your way through. Mr. Paris, full impulse power.

LLAP, Kathryn.

Duet

Summary

Duet is a heartrending episode where a Cardassian, claiming originally to be the filing clerk Marritza turns up on DS9 needing treatment from Kolla narra syndrome, which he could only have contracted during the mining accident.

He is then suspected to in fact be Gul Darhe’el, the butcher of the Gallitep concentration camp on Bajor  But it turns out that Gul Darhe’el was never at Gallitep during the mining accident, and in fact Darhe’el had died some time ago. Gul Dukat confirms that he attended his funeral.

The man was indeed Marritza, the powerless little filing clerk, who felt so terribly guilty about his inability to stop the atrocities at Gallitep that he had transformed himself with plastic surgery to resemble Darhe’el in order to be convicted and pay for the crimes for which he felt responsible.

I covered my ears every night, but… I couldn’t bear to hear those horrible screams. You have no idea what it’s like to be a coward. To see these horrors, and do nothing. Marritza’s dead. He deserves to be dead.

It is like a sad duet between Marritza and Kira Nerys who goes from prejudice, hatred and vengeful anger to understanding and pity. It might have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship of reconciliation, until finally Marritza is murdered by a rogue, racist Bajoran on the Promenade, in typical operatic style, the story ends as a tragedy.

Why? He wasn’t Darhe’el! WHY?” Kira asks incredulously, and Kainon answers with a sneer, “He’s a Cardassian. That’s reason enough.” Kira replies, “No. It’s not.

Comments

My children are often deeply shocked and angered by the portrayal of racism and prejudice shown within Star Trek. But it is always presented in such a way  – either openly or subtly, that is designed to make you shocked enough to realise that it’s not logical or rational and is in fact completely inconsistent with Star Fleet ideals and Roddenberry’s vision for the future. It shines the spotlight on our own prejudices and challenges them. Kira doesn’t completely abandon her prejudice toward Cardassians of course (how could she? the atrocities they perpetrated against the Bajoran people happened in her lifetime, and it’s hard for her to accept that not all Cardassians are evil).

Real Life

I’m a white female. I don’t feel particularly privileged, but I am aware that the colour of my skin as well as my gender affects how people view me, and treat me. I don’t like to think of myself as a racist. I grew up in a multicultural school in London, my friends were a mixed bunch which included all colours and creeds, and my best friend was Caribbean. But I told my children recently that, in order to confront racism, it is important to realise how the prejudice is so culturally ingrained and the system is so firmly institutionalised that we probably have prejudices we’re not even conscious of. We have to be honest and confront the prejudice in ourselves as well as speaking up to defend the oppressed and speak out when the system is so outrageously stacked against people of colour.

I’m in the UK, but it hasn’t escaped my notice that the killing by a police officer of Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and four year old daughter failed to return a conviction of murder. It is only the latest in a string of killings of young black men – who were guilty of nothing more than being young black men – by police officers that has failed to produce a guilty verdict. I’m sickened, appalled, heartbroken over and over again.

Where do we go from here? When will things change?

Why do these prejudices persist?

What can we do to change the world, change people’s minds, bring down institutional racism?

Is Roddenberry’s vision – of an enlightened society – possible?