Losing My Religion for Equality…by Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

Via: Women’s Press

My Muse & Me ~ A Feminine Expression

My dear friend Guru Kirn Kaur from New Mexico, took up her brush and has been lost to this passion since brush stroke and painted merged on canvas. An innately creative woman, this expression has awakened the creative muse within her in a way she has not experienced before and she is in LOVE!
Shiloh Sophia McCloud is an amazing artist and teaches workshops guiding women into a place of expression which is deeply moving, healing and expressive. The art created is rich and overflowing with beautifully invoking and evoking images from the soul, deeply healing the feminine in us all.
Guru Kirn mentioned that many of the pieces in the video were created by women who had never painted before. What amazing potential we all have sitting within the well of our creativity.
Take time to sit back and be present with the parade of feminine images presented through this video. The music is beautiful and the artwork stunning. A meditative break in the midst of your day. Enjoy.

Sheila Kelley & The New Wave of The Sacred Feminine ~ A Ted Talk

A woman I know was invited by Sheila Kelley, founder of S Factor to come and take a complimentary S Factor class. She fell in love with S Factor and immediately enrolled. She called me in tears saying the classes touched and moved something deep inside of her so profoundly she could not let it go. That a profound healing of her femininity and sexuality was unfolding moment by moment. When I last saw her I noticed not only how toned her body was but how confident she felt about herself, how she moved with a freedom and beauty and a smile on her face. I did not once hear her ask me “do I look okay in this, do you think I look fat, I hate this or that part of my body”. Her self-deprecation was just not there. She talked with love and enthusiasm about her love for S Factor and how thankful she is everyday that this came to her, that she gets to dance this beautiful body story, discover her “erotic creature” and play on the pole. With not once ounce of self-consciousness or embarrassment she offered to show me some of her dance. It was amazing and so beyond gorgeous. I am so pleased for her, for her ability to take the healing of her own sensual/sexual being in hand and own who she is.
I was recently sent this video of Sheila Kelley’s Ted Talk. Wow!! There is so much I could say here but Sheila says it all… and so passionately. Take time to watch, and pass it on.
 

Color Me Ageless

One of my very favorite blogs is Advanced Style. Ari Seth Cohen interviews and photographs women around NYC who capture his attention with their style, grace and beauty. The women are all of a “certain age” who defy the concept of aging with vigor and aplomb. This little blog has become my Saturday morning delight as I sit with my toast and tea, taking in the delightfully spunky personalities, personal artistic, stylish expression and the unabashed freedom these women embody. Below are three videos Ari recently posted.

Zelda, in her 90’s, has a love of textiles and cloth, wearing her self-designed creations whenever she leaves her home to let the beauty of the weavers art tell its story.

Ruth is 99 years old, is studying Pilates and still pulls her mat out regularly to move her body with the mantra “Just do it”

Ilona is an artist and recently resurrected performance artist who fills her life with color, teaching and intelligent expression. AND do not miss her eyelashes!

So share the love of all things woman and dust of your colorful self, dance a wild woman dance across the floor and giggle like a young girl at the sheer joy of life. Grab your brightest scarf or don your most amazing earrings as you head out the door – take a walk, qi gong your body, yoga your being, swim your senses, bike under beautiful blue sky, marshal your wisdom; let the world smile at the rainbow of your life ~ AND ~ make sure you smile first!!

Dr. Maya Angelou

My admiration for Maya Angelou is big, full. Standing next to her a woman can only feel more; grand, strong and beautiful. Her presence evokes and hearkens to the largess within the self. She inspires and calls to all her Sisters, “Try to live your life in a way that you will not regret years of useless virtue and inertia and timidity”. More than inspiration, more than possibility – more. Ms. Angelou, the Nubian Queen, who steps upon the earth with the shell pink soles of her feet and her beautifully rich brown skin, Africa in the timbre of her voice. A Queen beyond race or age, beyond creed and politics; Maya Angelou is good medicine for the soul.  For her presence in the here and now I am thankful. For the way she says “Sister” and in one word tells a whole story ~ The story of every woman who has ever lived from grandmother to mother to daughter; neighbor, auntie, friend. Ms. Angelou exhorts keep reaching, keep dreaming, keep learning, keep teaching.  Go big, deep, wide and then go some more. Fill the world with intelligent kindness and love.

“If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born—it means so can you. And so you can try to stretch, stretch, stretch yourself so you can internalize, ‘Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.’ That’s one thing I’m learning.” — Dr. Maya Angelou

When you get give, when you learn teach”. Maya Angelou

 

Maya Angelo ~ Nubian Queen ~ Every Woman Should Have…Every Woman Should Know…

MAYA ANGELOU'S BEST POEM EVER

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
Enough money within her control to move out
And rent a place of her own even if she never wants
To or needs to...


A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
Something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her
Dreams wants to see her in an hour...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...
A youth she's content to leave behind...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
A past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
Retelling it in her old age...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE ...
A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black
Lace bra...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
One friend who always makes her laugh... And one who
Lets her cry...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
A good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone
Else in her family...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
Eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a
Recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored...

A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE...
A feeling of control over her destiny...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
How to fall in love without losing herself...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
How to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship ...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
When to try harder... And when to walk away...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
That she can't change the length of her calves,
The width of her hips, or the nature of her parents...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
That her childhood may not have been perfect...but its
Over...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
What she would and wouldn't do for love or more...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
How to live alone... Even if she doesn't like it...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
Whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't
Take it personally...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
Where to go... Be it to her best friend's kitchen table...
Or a charming inn in the woods...
When her soul needs soothing...

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW...
What she can and can't accomplish in a day...
A month...and a year...

MAYA ANGELOU

Eat, Pray, Love

“…if you sit down with the pure intention to meditate, whatever happens next is none of your business. So why are you judging your experience?”

 

“Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One you can see; one you cannot.  One is made of bones, teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.”

 

“…the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you…”

 

Excerpts from the book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert