Minister's Post, Fri Feb 17

Dear Ones:

This Sunday we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the album Free to Be...You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends. I was nearly 14 when the album first came out and it didn’t come into our house. But when my own children were born -- in 1980 and 1982, I did buy the album. And played it over and over.

In 1972, it was groundbreaking. Whether you remember that time, or have just heard about it, think of where our culture was with our gender messaging. It’s different now.

Title IX of the Education Act was also passed in that same year that “Free to Be You and Me” came out – which lead to a huge boom in girls and young women participating in athletics. Think of the legions of female athletes now. If you asked a typical American 50 years ago to name a female athlete, they might have named figure skater Dorothy Hamil, perhaps gymnast Olga Korbut – and maybe tennis player Billie Jean King. And that was very often the most they could name. No one at all from a team sport.

Married women couldn't get their own credit cards. Prior to the 1970s, sexual assault of a spouse was legal in all 50 states – today it is illegal in all 50 states.

Criticism of the way children were socialized into sex-roles was a major project of second wave feminism. And the “Free to Be...You and Me” album was a big part of the push to think differently about what we taught our children about how to be, and what they could expect.

Football star Rosey Grier, with his deep voice and defensive lineman bulk (which could be seen in the TV special based on the album) told kids that it was all right to cry. The album also told kids that: parents are just people; boys and girls can be friends and can play together; girls and boys alike can pursue any career that calls to them. Who knew? Everybody, right? Not 50 years ago. And if most folks today do know, that’s got a lot to do with this album.

Patriarchy and misogyny are not eradicated. The “Free to be you and me” vision is not yet fully realized. We celebrate the progress this album helped make – and joyfully take up the continuation of its cause.

It's true that some of the album is dated. That’s how progress works: as we get closer to a goal, we understand it better, and the goal itself evolves from the original vision. We know a little more about what liberation will need to look like now than we did 50 years ago. The album assumed heterosexual normativity. Boys could learn that it was all right to cry, or to want a doll, but it would take a while longer before anything in popular culture told them it was OK to date another boy. Back then pretty much everybody, including Marlo Thomas and friends, assumed gender was binary. The vision of equality now must include the trans folk and various nonbinary folk. People 50 years ago were doing the work that was possible for them – so that we can do the work that is possible for us.

Yours in the faith we share,

Join a Journey Group: http://cucwp.org/journey-groups

I.C.Y.M.I. (In Case You Missed It)

The Feb 12 service, "Know Thyself"

"Know Thyself" sermon text at The Liberal Pulpit.

The Feb 5 service, "Cultivating Ourselves"

"Cultivating Ourselves" sermon text at The Liberal Pulpit.


Today’s Practice Pointer is in the “Occasional” category: exercises that probably aren’t for every day for the rest of your life, but can be really helpful in particular situations – or every once in a while. This week: Confront Your Negative Inner Voice -- from Jonathan Robinson’s Find Happiness Now.

There may be a voice in your head that isn’t nice. First, clearly identify the harmful voices in your head. While we all have critical thoughts from time to time, most people have one or two recurring thoughts that are particularly destructive. What are yours?

“I can't do anything right.”
“I better not say anything because I'll just look foolish.”
“I'm so ugly (or fat).”
“They are going to pay for what they did to me.”
“I just need a stiff drink (or smoke, etc.) and everything will be OK.”

Once you recognize a specific destructive recurring thought from your own life, it's helpful to give it a name. A named voice won’t seem so ominous. It’s not you saying those harsh words, it’s just silly old Bertha – or whoever.

Next, practice ways of distancing yourself from the negative voice. There are two ways to do this:

You could have a dialog with the negative inner voice. You could say: “I hear what you're saying, and you always say the same old stuff. I'm not buying it. I know you think you're trying to protect me, but you're not needed now."

Or: try changing the sound of the inner voice. Try repeating the words in Daffy Duck voice – or some other cartoon character voice. It's hard to take it seriously if it’s a silly voice.

For a more full explanation of how to confront your inner negative thoughts, see the post: "Confront Your Negative Inner Voice."

Here it is, your...
#146: Intelligence

How do you depend on it? Intelligence, humor, health and physical fitness, your eyesight, hearing, legs, arms. Any of these: how do you depend on it?

During a question period, Mole asked, "How important is intelligence to the practice?"
Raven asked, "How do you use it?"
Mole said, "As best I can with what it is."
Raven asked, "How do you depend on it?"
"You know," said Mole, "I really don't depend on it very much at all."
Raven bobbed her head silently.

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