Monthly Archives: April 2016

Gossip Hesiod-Style

Hi there,

In a little piece called Works and Days, Hesiod wrote,

“Follow all this; avoid men’s gossip, which
Is wicked. Gossip is not hard to raise;
Then, she is light, but burdensome to bear
And hard to unload, when you must carry her.
Gossip is hard to kill when many men
Support her; she is rather like a god.”

Hesiod was a Greek poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. (Wikipedia)

I know, it’s kind of a creepy replica of the real man…Or, maybe he really was this creepy looking.

At any rate, I came across this quote in one of my Penguin Classics books on Hesiod and Theognis.  (More on him later, or not.)

I find it fascinating that in all times people remain essentially the same.  Gossip has been around since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve.  They kind of gossiped after the Fall – Of course, Eve was standing right there when Adam blamed her, but the serpent was no where to be seen when Eve blamed it…Uh-oh…I feel the misogynists breathing down my neck…

Back to Hesiod before we get ourselves into more trouble.

Was Hesiod the recipient of gossip? Is this why he was going on about it?

Did he overhear a conversation between his brother, Perses, affectionately called Persy by those closest to him (I’m making that up), and a friend dissing one of their classmates?

Gossip is something that hurts the speaker.  Hesiod says it is “burdensome” and “hard to unload”.  Is that because you lose your reputation when you gossip?  I have found myself in the hearing of gossip and reluctantly admit that I have been a participant in gossip.  Who hasn’t really?

It definitely made me feel uncomfortable.  But, it also made me lose trust for the person sharing the juicy bit of gossip.  If this person is talking about so-and-so, then what’s stopping him or her from talking about me behind my back?  The answer is “Nothing”.

I think we gossip because of our insecurities.

We gossip because it makes us feel better about ourselves and our own lives. We may have problems, but we sure as heck don’t have so-and-so’s problems.

The question is, “When is it gossip and when is it genuine concern for someone?”

We have to test our hearts and be brutally honest with ourselves and our motivation.

It gets worse though. Hesiod boldly says that gossip is a “god”.

We worship it. It feeds something in us – some innermost desire. The thought is actually quite startling and unsettling.

I think we have to start asking ourselves some questions when we find ourselves in the midst of gossip:

Why am I talking about this person?
Is anything good coming out of this conversation?
How am I feeling right now, in this moment, talking about this situation/person?
Would I want someone talking about this situation if it was about me?

And, it’s okay to step away from conversations where you feel uncomfortable. It’s hard to do.  I know because I have stayed in those types of situations when my head was telling me to get out of there!

To be blunt, trying to avoid gossip will be like trying to avoid doggy-doo-doo in a Parisian street. (I was debating putting a photo here, but my common sense got the better of me – You’re welcome!)

If you have any tips or suggestions of how you handle gossip, please let us know!

Blessings,

Ellie

Shakespeare is Dead

Hello there,

Today is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  April 23, 1616 – that’s 400 years right?

Here’s a picture of Shakespeare…

Okay, here’s a picture of Joseph Fiennes playing Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love. The standard photos of a balding Shakespeare just don’t do it for me.  And, hey, since the Shakes was a creative, fun guy, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind my taking creative licence.

Not entirely sure I know where this blog is heading.  I just kind of liked the title, Shakespeare is Dead.

I wonder if it was a quiet funeral, with just family and close friends. His wife, Anne Hathaway, along with their two daughters, Susanna and Judith, and their husbands.
I don’t even know if Shakespeare was a grandfather.

Yes, he did have grandchildren – Elizabeth Hall, Richard Quiney, Thomas Quiney, Shakespeare Quiney.

Interestingly, Elizabeth had no children and Shakespeare (died in infancy), Richard and Thomas apparently died within weeks of each other at the ages of 21 and 19, respectively, leaving no descendants in the Shakespeare line.

“Shakespeare left the clever and business savvy Susanna most of his property upon his death in 1616, and she and John left Hall’s Croft to live at Shakespeare’s home, known as New Place, where they oversaw the affairs of Susanna’s mother.”

His second daughter didn’t fare so well in love. Her husband, Thomas Quiney, was a rogue! “Quiney was prosecuted for ‘carnal copulation’ with a local woman named Margaret Wheeler, who had died in March along with her baby by Quiney.”  That’s right, ‘carnal copulation’.  He was actually sentenced for it though – SENTENCED – it was illegal. He didn’t go to prison or anything, but he ended up paying  a “small fine and private penance”.

Fascinating!

“It has been speculated that this scandal may have hastened Shakespeare’s death, for he died a few weeks later, after changing his will to protect Judith’s inheritance from Quiney.”

Don’t you just love family dysfunction, 1600-style.  I wonder if Judith’s potential husband was a gold-digger. Shakespeare was quite rich and famous, so…

Witty beyond her sex, but that’s not all,
Wise to salvation was good Mistress Hall.
(Susanna Hall’s Epitaph)

Yes, that’s right – it’s the Epitaph edition of Random Acts of Love.

Here’s a quick stab at mine:

Or, maybe not.  I can think of nothing…

I think that’s all the Shakespeare gossip I can muster for today.   His death anniversary is apparently the same as his birth date. How ’bout that?  I tried to google, “What does it mean if your death anniversary is the same as your birth date?” with no luck.  That’s what I get for trying to squeeze meaning out of pulp.

On a final note, some people say that reading is dead, literature is dead, Shakespeare is dead.  But, I say reading makes you smart.  Please world, do not stop reading!

And, now for a “real” photo of Shakespeare – He kind of has Joseph Fiennes’ smoldering eyes…Ooh la la, Shakespeare…

Image result for shakespeare

Blessings,

Ellie

Quotes from: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/shakespearechildren.html

Poverty

Hello there,

I was having a discussion with a friend about my trip to Sri Lanka. She also visited that country sometime after I made my trip. We were both told by our Sri Lankan hosts that servants could not be trusted. They will steal from you. The servants are the poor.

As Westerners we both thought the same thing. Huh? To our ears it sounded like, ‘The servants are poor and from the lower class; therefore, they will steal from you.’

My friend pointed out that poverty makes people desperate. So, I wondered what might happen if we began to lift people out of poverty. What kind of drastic changes would we see in our societies? Would the crime rate drop? It should.

Frederick Douglass, an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman* said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Working for a political party during last October’s election, I began to think about social justice. I wondered how poverty can exist in a country as rich as Canada. (I know, shouldn’t I have thought of this much sooner? Yes!)

Confucius said, “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”

I am not sure if I believe we are well governed or badly governed. This I believe – Canada should be ashamed of its record with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Homelessness and hunger should not exist, and no community should be without clean water in this country. I am thankful for initiatives like the Alliance to End Homelessness. They are doing great work and I feel hopeful that change is coming. (Please check them out at http://endhomelessnessottawa.ca/)

Ban Ki-moon said, “Grave security concerns can arise as a result of demographic trends, chronic poverty, economic inequality, environmental degradation, pandemic diseases, organized crime, repressive governance and other developments no state can control alone. Arms can’t address such concerns.”

I could not agree more. Arms is not the answer. I look at the United States and the fear-mongering with which its media aims at the people. The debate about whether teachers should be allowed to carry arms makes me shake my head in wonder.

To conclude, Mother Teresa said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

What I discovered while working for a political party was that people just want to be heard. I could not resolve their concerns, but what I could do was listen and let them know that I cared about them. I simply listened. As it turned out, listening was crucial in making people feel wanted, loved and cared for.

Without knowing it, I made them feel rich! And, it cost me nothing.

Blessings,

Ellie
*Wikipedia

Strength vs Weakness

Hi there,

Would you rather be strong or weak?

I imagine most of us would say strong.  What a ridiculous question, Ellie!

I was thinking about this topic again because I was at the gym and saw a hair commercial with some young celebrity.  At the end of the commercial, she said, “Strong is beautiful,” which made me naturally assume weakness must be “ugly”.

But, it’s not.

And I’m getting a wee bit tired of our culture telling us to be strong, and equating strength with beauty, goodness, a desirable quality.

See, I used to think my mom was weak. She has mental illness and was in and out of the hospital my entire life.  She attempted suicide twice during my first 17 or 18 years on the planet.  (I am almost 42, so we’re doing well now…)

I would never have considered myself as suffering from depression. But, I can see now that was exactly what I suffered.  I would never admit it because that would mean I was like my mom – weak.

The thing I’ve come to understand is that it takes a lot of strength to admit you need help, that you can’t go it alone.

I finally went to counseling when I was in my early thirties.  I hated it. Every single minute of it.  Or, at least in the beginning.  I felt like my innards were being dissected and picked apart by the counselor.  It was a terrible process.

But, one that was crucial for the healing process to begin.  Mostly we discussed my dad because the counselor also had an alcoholic father.  That said, I should probably return to counseling to talk about the feelings I have surrounding my mother’s illness, but I’m chicken.  Or, weak.

I went to an Ash Wednesday service (Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the 40 days prior to Easter, I believe.)   The priest said that Lent is a great time to get real with God. He also said it was a wonderful time to embrace our weaknesses and confess our need of God.

I really felt freedom in how he expressed those two things.  See, getting real with God isn’t just for the Lenten season, but for all year round.  That’s the good news. Human beings can’t take it, but God can!

It’s not about taking temper tantrums to get our way, but rather telling God how we really feel about things in our personal lives and in the world. He already knows, so I figure it’s best just to give it all to Him.

The second part is the weaknesses. One of my favourite scripture verses has to do with Paul arguing with God to remove the pain (thorn from his side) and here is God’s reply (the good part):

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I always heard the “My grace is sufficient for you” and thought, “Ya ya ya…” not realizing the fuller context.  It’s now not so grating to mine ears.

So, let’s embrace our weaknesses and get real with God. It’s going to be a GREAT year!

Blessings,

Ellie

Bah!

Hi there,

I woke up this morning thinking about the Jian Ghomeshi court decision.  I guess I wasn’t really surprised by it.  I did love to see how women in British Columbia protested the judge’s, “Not guilty” verdict.   Good job, Ladies!

You know, to be quite honest, I don’t think much has changed in the last 20+ years.  When I was in high school I took a law class.  The teacher asked us the question, “Who would believe the woman in sexual assault cases?” Pretty much all of our hands went up.

I’m not so sure all hands would go up today if that question was asked in a general setting.

We then went on a field trip to the Ottawa Courthouse.  I decided to sit in on a sexual assault case.  The defense lawyer asked her what she was wearing the night of the alleged assault.

She told him stirrup pants and a top.

He then basically called her a whore because stirrup pants are quite tight. (Pretty much all women’s pants are friggin’ tight…Bah!)

The lawyer went on to ask her if she were wearing underwear.

I looked at the Prosecution, willing him to say in high courtroom drama, “Objection, your Honour!”  But, it didn’t happen. He let the questioning continue.

Looking back, I think it was a great strategy. The woman broke down into tears under the questioning. She was clearly distressed.

And, unlike the judge in the Jian Ghomeshi trial, this judge likely understood that not many sexual assault cases actually make it to trial.  So, if they bloody well do, I think the guy should be found bloody well guilty.

Our teacher later confirmed that the man was found guilty.  Justice was served.  I felt good that day.

And, then Jian…My only consolation was this thought:

God is judge.  It gave me some comfort to think that he is going to have to stand before God.  He’s not going to be able to hide. Ha!

To be honest, my “God as judge” thought was more about my anger and frustration.

You can call me naive, but I look forward to the day when God returns, to put things right.  I look at all the things happening around the world and in Canada, and I can’t help praying as the Apostle John, “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).

I have even considered the grave possibility that God might turn me into dust for my sin.

But really, would you mind being turned into dust if it meant that men like Jian Ghomeshi would be turned into dust too?  Does judgment sound so bad?

(As a disclaimer, I don’t actually think that God is going to turn us all into dust.)

The other thing that struck me is that men don’t have to testify on their behalf.  It’s another “great” strategy, meaning that the prosecution can’t punch holes in his story. But here’s the rub.  It makes it feel like it’s the women on trial and not the men.  (This really is the Bah! edition of Random Acts of Love.)

On a final note, I’m loving that Tom Mulcair tweeted #Ibelievesurvivors.  Not loving that Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer Marie Henein criticized Mr. Mulcair.  Bah!  I guess she’s being paid the big bucks to say that, but still!   Even if he were found guilty, would he be sent to a normal prison. No!  He would likely be sent to rich man’s prison, which is more like a country club. (I’m assuming these kinds of prisons exist in Canada…)

Forgive me if this blog isn’t entirely coherent. It is six in the morning.

That is all for now.

Ellie