Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


God Does His Child a Solid

From my Facebook files:

I truly have favor with God!!! I need a new refrigerator for the house that I am moving to next month……Home Depot now has the $1700 refrigerator I wanted on sale for $998!!! It appears Samsung is trying to penetrate the market!!! If you guys need or know of anyone in need, spread the word!!! The sale ends July 15th. Thank you Jesus!!!!!

Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Dear facebook friend,
I’m so glad God saw to it that The Home Depot had a sale on for the exact refrigerator you wanted for your dream home in the mountains. It is a miracle. Surely you have garnered more favor than those faithful believers who don’t have enough money for their rent, or medications, or food. And it is likely that God’s provision for you will become the good fortune of another as they turn the box into a home.
God is good.  All the time.


On Bitterness


This cute little gopher tortoise showed up in our garden!

: having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet

: causing painful emotions : felt or experienced in a strong and unpleasant way

: angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment

Am I bitter?  I’ve been told that I am.  Okay.  Maybe.  It depends on which of these definitions you use.

Have there been experiences in my life that have left a bitter taste in my mouth?  Who hasn’t?  That might be a shorter list.

Have I had experiences that were painful or that I felt in a strong or unpleasant way?  Who hasn’t?  That might be a shorter list.

Usually, though, when someone calls you bitter it’s that last bit of the definition they’re alluding to.  Am I angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment?  The short answer is no.  At least I don’t see myself that way. Then again, we often have trouble seeing ourselves as we truly are.  But I don’t feel angry or unhappy.

Having said that, I do get angry sometimes when certain topics come up based on my experiences.  For instance, when someone – be it a man or a woman – says that a wife’s submission is the bee’s knees and that it’s a perfect plan for harmony within a marriage.  It’s God’s plan afterall.

You know what?  I’m not totally opposed to submission.  The way I experienced it had horrific results.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for anyone ever.  Sometimes men choose to submit, too.  Sometimes people just want all the little details taken care of and never to have to make any decisions.  If the two people involved are cool with that then who am I to say that submission is a terrible idea?

In fact, there are many relationships where one is submissive and the other more dominant.  And they aren’t all religious.  If it’s a free choice made because a person knows themselves well then I think it can make for a mutually beneficial relationship.

However, if the submission is based on coercion (i.e. lording religious precepts over one’s head)?  That’s where I can become angry.  If, based on your religious beliefs, you want to submit to your spouse, by all means go right ahead and do that.  But if, based on your husband’s religious convictions he forces submission by continually reminding you it is your wifely duty, that you are sinning if you don’t, or threatens you in any way – emotionally or physically – it isn’t willful or chosen freely.

In fact, if your husband is doing any of those things you might be in an abusive relationship.  The teachings on submission within religions are but mere weapons in the arsenal of an already abusive person.  Anyone who uses scripture to guilt you into doing things to suit them is being abusive, be they male or female.

So, the long answer to the question of whether or not I’m bitter depends on whether you believe that a person’s life experiences informing their ethics makes them bitter.  If you learn nothing from the experiences you’ve had, if you can’t recognize what you’ve been through and honor that with future life choices and held values without being labeled bitter it is likely that there is something wrong with the label maker – not the labeled.

That is all.


On Morality

According to Webster’s morality is defined as:


noun \mə-ˈra-lə-tē, m-\

: beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior

: the degree to which something is right and good : the moral goodness or badness of something

And this definition is courtesy of  Bing Dictionaries

Definition of morality (n)

  • mo·ral·i·ty
  • [ mə rállətee ]
  1. accepted moral standards: standards of conduct that are generally accepted as right or proper
  2. how right or wrong something is: the rightness or wrongness of something as judged by accepted moral standards
  3. virtuous behavior: conduct that is in accord with accepted moral standards

The phrase ‘turn or burn’ caught my attention earlier this morning.  It’s a phrase used often in fundamentalist Christianity by those who believe in a literal hell. Turn from your wicked ways and get right with God or you’ll be in torment for all eternity.  I’m so glad I no longer believe that ridiculous notion.

Conversation ensued that got me thinking about morality and ethics.  We all know that legality has no impact on the morality or ethics of a given situation.  However many people, Christians and religionists(is that a word?) included, participate in highly questionable behaviors simply because there is a loophole in the letter of the law which allows for such behavior.  Not only that, many people would participate in other questionable behaviors were it not for the fact that they might get caught.  In other words, the only reason they don’t commit certain illegal acts is because they wouldn’t want to suffer the consequences of having done so were they to be found out.  They weigh the benefit to themselves to the consequences they might suffer to determine the ‘worth’ of their naughtiness.

I had this conversation not long ago with some family members.  We were watching an episode of an old television program call In the Heat of the Night. The premise of the show was the morality and ethics of capital punishment. That got us talking about morality and why we do the things we do.  These are not church-going family members but they are Bible-God believers.  They don’t believe they evolved, but were created, yet they pick and choose from the rest of the Bible the things they believe are true and the things they don’t.

One of them commented that, “without prisons and the death penalty the world would descend into chaos because people would offend with no consequences.”  I thought on that for a few minutes and posed the question: “Is the only reason you don’t do unethical and barbaric things because you’re afraid going to jail?”  To which they replied, simply, “Yes”.  When I said, “I don’t recall ever not being unethical because I was afraid I’d get caught”**, he elaborated and his wife joined in.  They both agreed that they, at some point would have committed murder or done serious bodily injury just short of murder [as a matter of vengeance or retribution], or committed theft, among a plethora of other things had they not been afraid of the consequences.  I thought, “Well, thank Dionysus for that!”  These family members would also classify themselves as moral, ethical people.

I’ve often joked that I wouldn’t steal from my employer because I’m not cut out for jail.  There is no way in hell I could do the communal toilet and shower thing.  That is a joke, of course.  That isn’t the reason I don’t steal from my employer, or murder someone, or vandalize.  I have a personal code of ethics that is independent of the law.  I know that mine is not the same as others’ and morality is a grey area.

In my line of work, which is accounting, I’m sometimes asked to do some unethical things.  Some of these things might only be unethical simply because they are against the law.  The tax code in America is a complicated animal and I frankly disagree with quite a bit of it.  But there are other things that are unethical regardless of the law. If it is unethical because it’s against the law I don’t do it because I am afraid of the consequences, but if it unethical because of my own personal code of ethics I refuse regardless of the law. I digress.

That got me to wondering if the only reason you give for not doing something unethical is fear of consequences can that really be called morality or is that just pragmatism?  Do people really not stop to consider what their personal ethics are and why?  Is there any such thing as morality?


**I realize I’m saying this never having had a child hurt by abuse. Nothing makes my blood boil more than the abuse of children. I can imagine a scenario or scenarios where my compassion might have it’s limits.  Even though I, myself, have been abused, and even imagined being strong enough (or using artificial means to make myself strong enough) to defend myself, I didn’t act upon it – nor did I seek nor want retribution or vengeance.