Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | November 25, 2022

Self-Care Matters at All Times

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Taking Care of Yourself If the Holidays Are Difficult

The “most wonderful time of the year” is anything but for a lot of people. Everything’s a lot more manic on general principle, there’s always someone in everyone’s family or social circle that thrives in drama, and people have genuine disagreements about the nature of the season and how to celebrate it.

One of the most important things to remember is the need to take care of YOU. Many of us have become so used to taking care of STUFF during the holiday season that we lose sight of our wellbeing. Here are a few tips I’ve thought of over the years that have helped me:

Take It Easy

Having to rush or go at someone else’s pace is inevitable sometimes, despite our best efforts. However, try to avoid rushing whenever you possibly can:

  • Work out a schedule that helps you get things done according to your needs whenever possible. Doing things like shopping or preparing food according to someone else’s schedule when you have work or academic demands can end up being stressful. It could probably be said that some of the worst family spats during the holidays have something to do with cooking – really!
  • Know when to tell people “No” or “Wait”. Nobody wants to come across as being uncharitable at this time of year, but knowing your limits and enforcing boundaries about these limits can help prevent a lot of needless trouble. You can’t be all things to all people 24/7.
  • Consider being open to spacing out some of your social activities over the week following Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with seeing people on New Years’ Eve/Day instead of Christmas, or Epiphany/Three Kings Day/Twelfth Night. You never know, you might help spark a new family tradition!

Planning Always Helps

Much of the stress of the holidays likely has to do with poor planning. It’s easy to put off the shopping till the last minute, then have a disaster when you can’t find what you wanted. Yes, return policies help, but it’s better to buy something that’s not going to be returned in the first place, isn’t it?

Things like cooking and decorating work out more easily when some planning is involved. It might be tempting to “enlist” a family member who seems to be unoccupied at the moment but they may have other priorities that include pushing deadlines that you need to think about. Planning things like cooking, decorating, or cleaning for times that work well for everyone is better.

“No” or “Wait” Needs to Mean Just That

Nobody enjoys being told “no” or that they need to wait. However, when things are a bit busy, that is what people need to hear if you’re being asked to do something that’s inconvenient. Boundaries are for everyone’s benefit, and the holidays are an especially important time to make sure you have them. A lot of needless stress during this time often comes from people not setting boundaries or not enforcing them.

Requesting to do something at a different time is a much kinder, gentler alternative to a flat-out “no.” Besides being a “nicer” form of refusal, it doesn’t take away the possibility of doing the task. You’re simply agreeing to do things on your terms, according to your schedule.

The Benefits of a Different Get-Together Date

Members of blended or even large families may find holiday gatherings overwhelming. When the family members live in different areas, this may cause additional difficulties. However, one of two alternate dates might prove a good option.

New Year’s Eve is a great alternative if your guests will stay overnight and you still have your decorations up. This is a better alternative to being out on the road with too many people having started their festivities early. Exchanging gifts can be a fun way to celebrate the New Year.

Epiphany (Jan. 6) is also a great time to exchange gifts. In some countries, Epiphany is the traditional date for exchanging gifts. If you’re looking to escape the drama and craziness that often comes on Dec. 25th, this date might be a perfect opportunity.

Self-care is always important, especially during the holidays.  The sooner you take charge of your self-care, the fewer holiday-time hassles you’ll encounter.

Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | April 26, 2022

Here Come the Wannabe Constitutional Scholars…Sigh

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When news broke of Twitter’s coming sale, the Internet went nuts. Many casual users deactivated their accounts, while others resolved to stand their ground. Others opted to stay, at least for the time being, and change their privacy settings.

What companies can/can’t do and should/shouldn’t do about problem speech isn’t as clear-cut as people think. When we think of “free speech,” the assumption is that this means anyone can say anything, anywhere, at any time – is this really accurate?

Unlike a few of my fellow social media users, I don’t presume to know the law better than anyone who practices law or occupies a judicial seat. However, it might not hurt to take a look at where the concept of “free speech” as Americans understand it comes from:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Constitution of the United states

Hmmm…..this seems to be a far cry from anyone/anything/anywhere, doesn’t it? Who does it say may not abridge (restrict) speech, the press, or people’s right to assemble? Does this sound like a restriction on the government?

Somehow I think that a social media company doesn’t exactly qualify as Congress. Incidentally, could Congress mean other levels of government?

The American Library Association, on a page that addresses the First Amendment and censorship (which I highly recommend), cites the Fourteenth Amendment as requiring state and local governments to respect free speech as well. Let’s take a look:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Constitution of the united states

Once again, we have restrictions on what the government can and can’t do, presumably not on what privately-owned companies can and can’t do. Where even the Supreme Court has found that there are some forms of speech that are not protected, maybe this should give the keyboard warriors something to ponder.

One of those pesky parts of signing up for a social media site is agreeing to the Terms of Service, which most people probably only skim through if they even bother to read them. Companies being uneven about which of their TOS they decide to enforce is another matter.

What it amounts to is that people who sign up to use a site agree to their TOS. If they have no intention of playing by the rules, maybe rethinking using that site might be a good idea.

Ironically, the exchange on social media that inspired this post involves a person who has flagged inappropriate ads on Craigslist, per their TOS, yet complains about social media sites enforcing theirs. You can’t have it both ways – why is it okay to enforce TOS in one setting that relates to your concerns but not another?

There are some substantial problems with the arbitrary ways some social media sites enforce their TOS, just ask any pet rescue crossposter. When sites rely too heavily on algorithms to decide what is okay, instead of human involvement, there will be a lot of arbitrary blocking.

However, social media users would do well to keep in mind how a site’s TOS may impact their use and what does and doesn’t constitute protected speech. Otherwise, people will just keep barking up the wrong tree and creating more headaches.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  

Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | March 2, 2022

Has God Forgotten Us? (Oldie But Goodie)

silhouette of people walking

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Has God Forgotten Us? (Oldie But Goodie)
A reflection for Ash Wednesday, 2002. The Bible readings appointed are: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 103; 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10; and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. This reflection is based on Psalm 103.

“O bless the Lord, my soul! His mercies bear in mind. The Lord to thee is kind”

This hymn is based on the appointed psalm. God’s goodness and mercy is sadly overlooked by many in favor in God’s judgement and righteous anger towards evildoers, especially after the attacks that shook our nation on September 11.

Many have said that the attacks were God’s judgement on our country for a long list of sins. While it is easy for some to point fingers and blame everyone but themselves for bad things, the real problem lies with human nature. There is no one who is completely blameless, and all have gone astray, as Paul writes to the Romans in chapter three, verses 11 and 12.

But God does not abandon us to our own devices or forget us, as badly as we may mess up. This is the heart of the Gospel message. As the author of the gospel of John writes, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved”

As we enter into this season of Lent, we will be reflecting on our own need of repentance. But, at the same time, let’s not forget God’s mercy and love as expressed in this psalm.

God is the One who forgives all our sins, heals us, delivers us from the pits in our lives, surrounds us with compassion, and gives us good things. As many of you know, I was one of God’s prodigal children for several years. I often felt as though there wasn’t much forgiveness for turning my back on God, but found great forgiveness when I did return. As a friend of mine said, “There must’ve been a heckuva party in Heaven”, on the day I renewed my commitment to Christ at Confirmation. Though it must grieve God to see us stray, God welcomes us back with open arms.

The Psalmist tells us that God is “slow to anger and of great kindness”. This anger is not an emotional, often selfish, human anger. It’s more of a righteous anger that does not tolerate unrepentant sinfulness. God is always ready to forgive those who ask.

God’s compassion is compared to a parent’s compassion on their children. How true! In a debate with an atheist I had recently, this came up. He had compared God to a mentally ill child abuser who punishes their children for not doing as he says. So, I asked him if he had children, and, if so, if he had rules they had to follow. He replied, yes. I asked him what purpose his rules served, and his response was that they were primarily for the good of his children.

I asked him if disobeying those rules had consequences, and he agreed. I asked him if he thought this made parents inhumane, because their children’s’ misbehavior often had consequences. He said no, so I asked him if it were fair to expect parents to take away their children’s’ choices, and again, he said no. My response was: well, that’s how it is with God and us. There was a pause, and he told me I’d given him something to think about.

While we must be aware of sin in our own lives, we shouldn’t allow this awareness to blind us to where we’re so focused on it that we ignore God’s rich blessings in our lives. Neither should we be so focused on God’s mercy that we forget our sins. This Lent, let us try to evenly balance these two aspects in our lives.


Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | December 19, 2021

Can a History Degree Benefit Anthropology Enthusiasts?

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Anthropology enthusiasts interested in pursuing a graduate degree may wonder whether a history degree is a reasonable alternative to an anthropology program. Although online degrees make balancing academic, work, and personal obligations easier, being able to take all of the necessary anthropology courses online is difficult, if not impossible. If you enjoy aspects of cultural anthropology but may have challenges pursuing this option all the way through the master’s or doctorate level, could History be a reasonable alternative?

Examples of schools that offer history programs online include:

Maryville University

Southern New Hampshire University

Arizona State University

American Public University

Eastern Washington University

Considering a History Degree?

Your needs and goals will be unique to your circumstances, and you should keep them at the forefront when deciding on a degree program. Comparing the degree programs available at the schools you’re considering, along with the costs and time required to complete the programs, will make your search easier.

What Are the Steps Involved with an Online Master’s in History?

If your personal and professional obligations require flexibility, online degrees can be an excellent choice. An online master’s degree in history will usually have the same standards you’d expect from traditional schools. Online students have the same demanding requirements as other students and learn to evaluate history using advanced principles.

How Does the Online Master’s in History Application Process Work?

Prospective students applying to an online master’s in history program will need to demonstrate abilities, knowledge, and skills. The application process usually includes a minimum of these steps:

A Completed Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in history is usually preferable. However, anthropology concentrations often lead to work in similar fields to many history majors. Past history courses with A grades may help make a difference, although many schools accept bachelor’s degree recipients with a degree in any concentration.

A High GPA

A GPA of 3.0 or higher is what most schools are interested in when students apply. However, each school has different requirements and may accept those with lower GPAs on a probationary basis or require a few preliminary courses.

Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose helps potential students answer the question of “Why are you here?” when a student provides a statement of purpose, they can answer why they want a history master’s degree and how they will use it for career goal achievement.

Writing Sample

The writing sample, usually in the context of an academic paper, is an applicant’s chance to shine. This sample helps demonstrate that the student knows how to find source material, as well as format a bibliography and footnotes properly.

Depending on the school, other requirements may include letters of recommendation from professors or work supervisors, GRE exam results, and TOEFL exam results (if a non-native English speaker).

What Do History Majors Learn That May Appeal to Anthropology Students?

Some of the initial coursework involves building on foundations from their undergraduate studies. This advanced knowledge helps students complete their degrees, as well as have the groundwork for success in future careers.

Intercultural Perspectives on Historical Events

In addition to the Western perspective, students will also learn about history from the perspective of people in the culture in question. Looking at events from an intercultural perspective leads to a deeper understanding of many of the issues. Students who have studied anthropology will be able to relate to this approach.

Ability to Apply Historical Theories in the Workplace

History majors, like many anthropology majors, often work in non-profit, business, government or museum settings. All of these types of positions provide room for analyrical, archival, and writing skills.  

Creating a Thesis Paper or Project

An academic paper, based on a student’s research, helps demonstrate historical scholarship abilities. The criteria used for grading these papers include research abilities, the strength of the argument, and writing or editing abilities.

What Are Some Positions a Master’s in History Can Help You Get?

There are many satisfying career paths with excellent salaries that online master’s in history graduates may wish to pursue. History professionals bring history to life and make sure it is told accurately, in settings as diverse as businesses, museums, and archives. Positions related to history have at least modest job growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and often include salaries ranging from $55,000 to $69,000 per year.

Historical writing, research, and teaching are some of the career paths that online history graduates may consider. There are many additional positions, too, that appeal to history graduates. If you’ve studied anthropology at the undergraduate level but might have difficulty getting into an anthropology graduate-level program, a master’s in history might be a reasonable alternative.

Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | October 5, 2021

Who Was That Masked Person at the Pyramid of the Sun?

Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan by Ruben Hanssen/Unsplash

It maybe sounds like something you’d read in a thriller on the best-selling novel list: a green mask, found inside an ancient building with somewhat mysterious origins. What is the story behind this archaeological find in Mexico that has made news over the last couple of years?

An Old Story, With New Interest

The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan is no stranger to history. This pyramid is thought to go back to around 100 CE. One of the things that makes this imposing structure stand out is its size, making it Teotihuacan’s biggest building.

This massive size helps the pyramid stand out in a setting where artifacts have been few and far in between. However, archaeologists aren’t known for giving up easily. Researchers dug a tunnel, measuring 380 ft. back during the 1930s that would lead to a stunning new find.

A Mask – and an Ancient Mystery?

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico has explored this area because of the wealth of history to be found. One of their biggest achievements was in 2011, when the researchers found a treasure trove at the level of the mother-rocks.

Some of the natural artifacts included obsidian and animal bones. There were also pottery shards and three human figurines in a serpentine style. However, the green serpentine mask found at this site was unique.

The mask’s lifelike features imply that it is a portrait. This artifact, and the others from the same chamber, are thought to have been placed as part of a ritual. The most likely reason was to celebrate the pyramid’s construction – but who built it?

Who Built the Pyramid of the Sun, Anyway?

Archaeologists have never been able to pinpoint which culture was responsible for building Teotihuacan. Another ting that adds to the mystery is that the original purpose of the pyramid is unknown.

Although the Aztecs occupied the city centuries after it was abandoned, they were not the original residents. Even the structure’s designation as Pyramid of the Sun comes from Aztec usage of the temple.

We don’t know who originally lived in Teotihuacan or what they called the building we know as the Pyramid of the Sun. As many as 200,000 people once lived here, but they would eventually disappear.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

New technology, like electrical resistance technology, has helped shed some light on the larger complex. For example, this technology was helpful in mapping a tunnel underneath the Pyramid of the Moon that is close to the Pyramid of the Sun.

Although archaeologists conduct different types of investigations from what you’d see on a crime show, the anthropological field can crack a lot of cases. You never know what might be next!

Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | September 24, 2021

Believing, Making a Difference: Yes, It DOES Matter

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When a friend, the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton+ shared her thoughts on the passing of +Bishop Spong, her Facebook post made me think a lot about why we need to challenge ourselves on why we believe as we do. Despite the number of voices that essentially tell us it’s not important what we believe as long as we believe, I think the why is just as important, maybe even more so.

Disagreement: No, It’s Not the End of the World

Elizabeth+, in her Facebook post, wrote of how she disagreed with a lot of what +Bishop Spong wrote, and pointed out that it seemed to please him. Disagreement with +Bishop Spong’s beliefs was and is not unusual. His books and other writings have been the subject of spirited debate on more than one Episcopal/Anglican group I’ve participated in over the years.

Many of us may be inclined to treat his acceptance of other peoples’ disagreement with his beliefs as unremarkable. However, I think this highlights an important reality that shows why disagreeing with a leader and freely being able to do so are important.

Many Episcopalians seem to take our community’s largely free-thinking nature for granted. Disagreements have serious, far-reaching effects in some cases, and we’ve seen evidence of this in areas such as what was once Fort Worth’s Episcopal diocese.

However, we would do well to remember that not all members of the Body of Christ are free to disagree with their leadership on even small matters without severe social shunning. In some cases, authoritarian-leaning leaders inflict severe emotional, psychological and other forms of abuse on dissenting members.

As much as none of us want to be like the proverbial Pharisee thanking God for not being like the others (Luke 18:9-14), I think there is a lot for us to think about when we contemplate what makes our way different. Three questions that Bishop Spong+ posed in a discussion with Elizabeth, I think, give us a lot to think about.

What Do You Believe?

I think this is a question that should veer away simplistic answers. Episcopalians and other members of the liturgical tradition can point to the Apostles’ or Nicene creeds, or beliefs that are in line with them.

Others may cite “Jesus loves us”, “salvation by grace alone”, “John 3:16” as creeds of a sort. However, there is a problem in sticking by creeds and even more simplified faith statements without any nuance: they are statements, but often devoid of context or a call to action.

Everybody has beliefs of some type that they hold dear, and personally I think those who claim not to have religious/spiritual beliefs are being just a little intellectually dishonest. Everybody believes in something about the existence or absence of something greater than themselves.

The challenge for us, I think, is deciding what we will do with these beliefs. The next two questions are ones that I think need to be in the equation for all deeply-held beliefs, religious or not.

Why Do You Believe What You Believe?

When some questions a person about their beliefs, how often do you hear the following:

  • Because the Bible says so
  • That’s what the Church has always taught
  • This was how my parents taught us to believe
  • Pastor Whats-It said it and that settles it

I think these could be examples of reasons for believing certain things that require just a little more thought. There is nothing wrong with the Bible, tradition, or the examples of righteous parents or religious leaders in and of themselves. However, when we allow logic and reason to go out the window, then there’s a problem.

Many people have a list of beliefs about almost everything, it seems. However, from the person who twists John 3:16 to justify thinking they will never face consequences for their actions to the one who cites “an eye for an eye” as an excuse for vigilantism, there are harmful beliefs we should avoid.

Are our beliefs actually about our views of God, or are they about something else? Do these views impact us for better, or for worse? There is a lot to be said about learning to write at an academic level. If you can’t justify your argument – no credit.

Maybe this is something good to keep in mind about belief. If you couldn’t justify it from a well-thought-out, rational perspective, is it worth it? From there, let’s move on to the final question.

How Does What You Believe Make a Difference in How You Live Your Life?

Although the idea of people behaving one way on Sunday morning and another the rest of the week may seem like a tired cliché, there is a lot of truth to it. Sometimes, it’s the ones who project an image of being the most upstanding Church members who have the most baggage they inflict on others.

There is a lot more to living in the power of the Resurrection than just checking off all the boxes for the right beliefs. What, if anything, are we doing with these beliefs? Are we making the world around us any better because of those beliefs?

Too many Christians have seen their deeds that they perform in too much of a rewards/punishment context. Do this or don’t do that – avoid hell. We can do a lot better than this as a faith, and should do better.

Regardless of what we do or don’t believe, how are we carrying on Christ’s work? Being the Body is about a lot more than coming together as a worshiping community, as important as it is. Are we a people whose beliefs prompt us to do the right action, or not?

Just a few takeaways on my part of reading about this discussion. Please consider reading and following Elizabeth+’s blog, too.

Putting on a Good Face May Be a Good Survival Skill, But It Doesn’t Mean Everything’s Good

When a medical specialist tells someone what the cause of many of their frustrating symptoms over the past months has been, their journey doesn’t end there. It is just the beginning, and your loved one may have a rough road ahead of them. Much of it will depend on their overall mindset, the number of acceptable resources in their area, the quality of their support system, and whether they have good options for healthcare.

Depending on the circumstances, they may be going through times when it seems like they’re constantly snapping at someone over one thing or another. They might feel like they’re waiting for the next disaster, and have no reason for optimism. Most importantly, they may feel like people are only hearing their words when they express frustration, but aren’t really listening to them.

Most of us are now aware of the impact that stress has on our lives. Although there are things we can do to alleviate stress, taking the often-frustrating journey of life with a disability needs to be a team effort, and sometimes the team members like to go AWOL during the process. As hurtful or frustrating as it may be, “helpers” need to know when they are no longer being helpful.

Here are some frustrations that may or may not sound familiar:

“If stress can directly cause what I have, I know I have this job/family situation/relationship to blame.”

“Obviously, nobody takes my health seriously or they’d be doing this/not doing that.”

“Neither the government or private help have benefited me, I don’t want to hear about it.”

“It really seems like they’re trying to oh well/you poor thing, etc. me into complacency.”

“I’m sick of all the BS promises, if somebody says they’re going to help me, I expect them to follow through or at least stop promising me things.”

“This damn medical condition/a stroke/heart attack will probably kill me before anyone does anything to make my life easier.”

Although not true in all cases, in many cases, a lot of the stress and frustration a person living with a disability isn’t tied to one main problem. For some, the trouble might lie with several smaller issues that build and cause more anger the longer they are unresolved. Good communication is essential, and I can attest to the importance of communication based on my experiences with an MS diagnosis.

The Impact of Other People

We need other people in our lives, but sometimes a lot of the stress we experience has to do with other people. There is a chance that you may be contributing to their stress level without being aware of it. An honest self-assessment where you acknowledge the role that you may have played in your loved one’s stress level is important.

Realize that the fact you may have contributed to your loved one’s stress level does not make you a bad person. Instead, it means that there is room for improvement in your helpfulness. You cannot make the best effort to help your loved one if you are unaware of problems.

Your Actions or Inactions Speak Volumes

When you do the right thing for your loved one struggling with a disability, no matter how small, you are making a positive impact. Look for things that you can do that will help make life a little easier. If your loved one expresses concerns about a difficulty in their life, think about how you can realistically help them.

Don’t underestimate the power of inactions, or errors of omission. Sometimes a person may feel as though they are not getting the help or support they need, but don’t want to be a burden. Think about whether they feel that they can honestly talk to you.

What Helps One Person May Be Disastrous for Another

Every person’s journey with a disability is different, and two people with the same condition may have very different experiences. Some people may thrive in a support group setting, others may find such groups overwhelming or unhelpful. One person may feel an immediate need to apply for disability benefits, another may feel that trying to work as long as possible is beneficial.

Respect your loved one’s decisions, even if they are not the ones you would make. Avoid pressuring them or making them feel as though they are being pressured. Carefully listen to what they want or need, instead of making assumptions that might be completely off-base.

Useless Platitudes Are Just That – Useless

Platitudes, like “You poor thing” or “Oh, well” that lack any meaningful action to help are useless words and may do more harm than good. Sometimes, you may be at a loss as to what to say to your loved one. There is nothing wrong with not knowing what to say, but the right actions can make up for your not knowing what to say.

Be a good listener, IOW, make sure you understand what they’re getting across, instead of simply hearing their words without comprehension. Make the time to listen, without distractions like TV or radio programming, texts or phone calls, social media, or demands from kids, pets, or other household members. Giving your undivided attention will ensure you understand their struggles and avoid misunderstandings because of distractions.

Never Make Promises You Can’t or Won’t Keep

If you find yourself saying that you will do something on a certain day or by a certain time, and then not following through, you are possibly doing more harm than if you never made the promise at all. If your loved one is in a situation where they are at least partially dependent on others, this is a situation you must avoid. Life with a disability requires stability, which is not possible when people constantly let them down.

If necessary, make a plan for how you will follow through on your intentions. Remind yourself of what may be at stake for your loved one. Although you are not responsible for your loved one’s whole life, you share responsibility for following through on any promises made.

Final Thoughts

I can personally attest to how difficult it is to get a diagnosis you weren’t expecting. However, if you have a good idea of what some of the frustrations are that your loved one might be feeling, you will be in a better position to help them.

This blog post cannot and does not constitute medical advice, nor does it serve as a substitute for treatment by a qualified mental heath professional. If you or your loved one are in need of help, please seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | January 2, 2021

A Truly Holy Name Above All Names

Image of Jesus the Christ

Neither a Curse Word or a Cudgel

We’ve seen it in print/online or perhaps uttered it ourselves at some point -using Jesus’ name as though it were a curse word. Many of us have also heard warnings about “not taking God’s name in vain”. What does all of that mean, especially as many Christian communities celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name today?

What Does the Feast of the Holy Name Celebrate?

Jesus was born into the world as a Jew, and in accordance with Jewish custom, he was circumcised and given the name Jesus on the eighth day after birth. His name, given to his mother Mary by the angel Gabriel, comes from a Hebrew word that translates to “God is salvation“. Although commonly referred to as “Jesus Christ”, Christ isn’t a surname – it’s a title describing his role as Messiah/deliverer for Christians.

Jesus, during his earthly life, most likely would have been known as Jesus of Nazareth (or the Nazarene), or Jesus, son of Joseph. The English title given to Jesus is more of a descriptor of his role in Christian history. Jewish people of the first

Why Does Misuse of Jesus’ Name Anger or Offend People?

Most of us have encountered and possibly grown up hearing the name of God or the name of Jesus used as a sort of exclamation or curse when something goes wrong. The problem with this is that for most professing Christians, he is God come in human form. Even for those who believe in Jesus merely as a human teacher, flinging his name around in this way often shows poor or no respect for his teachings.

Here’s one way to think of it: how would you feel if someone used the name of someone you think highly of in such a way? Something to think about the next time you think maybe someone’s gotten too uptight…

Are There Other Ways That People “Misuse” the Name of Jesus?

Yes, there are, unfortunately many examples that take place daily, and not all of them involve “GD” or “JC”-bombs. People can misuse or take the names of God/Jesus in vain by their actions as well – every time people use their beliefs to malign, slander or harm others, they are doing just that.

When people professing Christianity engage in racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of prejudice, many could accurately say they are misusing the name of Jesus. A Savior who came into the world to redeem and restore through a life of love demands much better of us.

As we begin a new year with the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, may all who profess to follow Christ celebrate him by word and example at all times.

Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | August 20, 2020

A Museum with a World of Wonders

Boston science museum demonstration

The Museum of Science Has It All

The Museum of Science has been fascinating visitors since 1951. What started off as a humble meeting of the Boston Society of Natural History in 1830 has become one of the leading museums in the United States. Visitors of all age groups can come here to learn more about science and technology in innovative ways, complete with member tickets and hotel packages if you so choose. Over 700 exhibits offer something for everyone.

Museum of Science, Boston, MA - IMG 3282


Many fun exhibits are featured at the museum. A few of the permanent exhibits are:

  • A Bird’s World, a tour of Acadia National Park, complete with authentic bird sounds
  • New England Habitats detailed dioramas of New England wildlife and habitats in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont
  • The Live Animal Care Center features over 50 diverse species that are stars of traveling programs and presentations
  • The Butterfly Garden,  featuring free-flying butterflies in an enclosed setting with tropical plants
  • The Discovery Center provides hands-on activities for children from live animal interactions to assembling skeletons to examining fossils
  • Mathematica a way to interact with with math, in ways you probably never imagined
  • To the Moon a celebration of where we’ve come with the space program and where we’re going

The Charles Hayden Planetarium

The Charles Hayden Planetarium has long been a favorite attraction at the museum. The Planetarium offers an ideal setting for seeing your favorite stars and constellations. Regular shows are run that offer fascinating glimpses into events in our universe. Some of the shows have even included music from top pop artists.

Mugar Omni Theater, Boston MA

Mugar OMNI Theater

The OMNI Theater features a five-story IMAX screen. This theater uses the latest digital technology, for a fully immersive experience. Some of the movies shown include popular nature-related documntaries.

4-D Digital Cinema

The cinema uses 4D adds touch and smell to the audio/visual experience. A projection system with a polarized light provides a clear picture. Documentary-style nature films and fun kids’ movies are examples of what you might be able to see here.


The simulator is full-motion, allowing you to easily feel like you’re actively involved in the scenario that you’re simulating. The highlights include a roller coaster ride, including an option where you can custom-design the track that you go on. Another exciting choice includes a virtual flight over Boston

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Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | August 3, 2020

Soul Questions: Intrinsic Goodness

Wangari Maathai in 2001

Doesn’t that smile just radiate instristic goodness?

Author June Maffin recently posted a blog post about radiating intrinsic goodness.  In this post, June highlights the life of Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Maathi (1940-2011).

The following quote is attributed to Dr. Maathi: “We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind.”

Here are June’s Soul Questions that I’ve decided to answer:

1. What does “intrinsic goodness of humankind” mean to you?

For me, this phrase finds all its meaning in one of the parts of the Episcopal Church’s Baptismal Covenant:

Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God’s help.

While this concept obviously has a spiritual meaning, there is also a humanistic meaning that stands out. Every person born on this earth has value, both as a child of God and a member of the human family. No ifs, ands, or buts.

I’ll admit it can be hard to keep this in mind, as politically polarized as things are today. It’s easy to see why many have harsh thoughts against those whose idea of “rights” conflicts with the fundamental right of others to live their lives and work without needless illness risk because of others’ selfishness.

We can all do better as a species, and I think respecting everyone’s basic humanity is a good place to start. Som people will still be intent on bring others down, but this doesn’t give the rest of us license to do so.

2. How can “intrinsic goodness” be radiated?

I think intristic goodness can be radiated by acknowledging what types of unselfish acts they perform or what special gifts they have to offer others. No, I’m not talking about “gifts” in the physical sense, either.

Think about the people you know who always make others laugh, or know the right things to say when things are going badly. Whether they know it or not, they are using their instristic goodness to change their part of the world for the better.

Even when we’re not on the same page religiously or politically, working together toward a common good is still possible. The intrinsic goodness is what makes doing this even possible.

One real-life example I can think of is when pet rescue networkers from diverse political, religious (or not), ethnic,  or financial backgrounds find common ground to help animals in need. I see this as an example of instristic goodness that can play out in other ways.

3. How can spirituality be expressed in environmental, economic, political etc. activism?

I think a belief in instristic goodness underpins much of our activism. Although caring for the environment for its own sake is something to expect, we can also care for the environment because it is a way of showing love and concern for all our neighbors.

A belief in the intristic goodness of others can motivate our quest for economic justice. Our belief in others’ essential goodness can encourage us to want to make sure that nobody has to be in want through no fault of their own.

Political activism of all kinds often has a motivation in the belief in intristic goodness. When you think about it, how much political action has its roots in attempts to correct injustices?

Our activism can be an expression of the belief in the goodness of all creation. When our activist activities have a spiritual base, what we do for the good of these people fully expresses these beliefs.

4. How can you work with others who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind “for a better world”?

There are steps that all of us can take, no matter how powerless we feel we might be in the grand scheme of things:

  • Make respecting others’ value and worth an actual part of your lifestyle, not just an abstract concept that only gets lip service
  • Never allow cruelty to others you disagree with to overtake your sense of decency, no matter how maddening or frustrating dealing with them may be for you personally
  • Remember that old adage about everyone fighting some type of battle – yes, some people will take advantage of your willingness to give them the benefit of the doubt, but your kindness might be the light they need in a dark area
  • Make sure your activism has its roots in pursuing the common good, not giving yourself license for self-congratulations

Intristic goodness is something that is all too easy to lose sight of in these somewhat dark, difficult times. However, this is one of the things that can also give us all hope for a better future.

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