Archive | November 2012

have a piece of pie, compliments of Anne Lamott

I have a new Facebook friend named Anne.  Anne Lamott, in all actuality, one of the funniest writers this side of Heaven.  I think there is a little piece of Erma Bombeck inside of her.  I always appreciate her humor, but it’s the deep wisdom in her words that rises to the top, like cream, and speaks to my soul.   This piece written for women, encouraging us to accept who we are, is lovely.   So, to all my female friends out there who happen to be reading the blog on this almost December morning, remember the words of the Psalmist that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”   Thanks, Anne!

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Quickly, and probably with lots of typos: I am beginning to think that this body of mine is the one I will have the entire time I am on this side of eternity.I didn’t agree to this. I have tried for approximately fifty years to get it to be an ever so slightly different body: maybe the tiniest bit more like Cindy Crawford‘s, and–if this is not too much to ask–Michelle Obama‘s arms. I mean, is this so much to ask? But I had to ask myself, while eating my second piece of key lime pie in Miami last Sunday, and then again, while sampling my second piece of Cretebrûlée in Akron, if this is going to happen.For the record, I do not usually eat like I do in hotels while I am on book tour. But I have a terrible sweet tooth and I am just not going to be spending much more of this and precious life at the gym, than I already do, which is at best, three times a week, in a terrible shirking bad attitude bitter frame of mind. I go for three one-hour hikes a week. I’m not a Lunges kind of girl.
And even if I were, I’m shrinking. I’m not quite Dr. Ruthyet, but I used to be 5’7, and now am–well, not.But the psalmist says I am wonderfully and fearfully made. Now, upon hearing that, two days after Thanksgiving, don’t you automatically think that “fearfully” refers to your thighs, your upper arms, the little tummy roll that has helpfully crept over the bottom of the iPad, so that it might help you type?(The other night, when I passed the one available spot in a parking lot, after looking around for ten minutes, I thought, “I would kick myself, if my feet didn’t hurt so much.”)No. “Fearfully” means that we are so exquisitely fragile and delicate and vulnerable that if you really thought about it, you’d quake with existential anxiety. It can all be taken from us–our babies, our dogs, our books and imagination imaginations, our ability to see whatever shards of Light we might notice today amidst the noise and the haste…

And WONDERFULLY made, perfect, all evidence and bad self esteem to the contrary, gorgous as children and poems in the eyes or god. Not made to starve ourselves. made for radical self-care, so that we can fill up and give from a place of crazy generosity because we have been so freely given delicious food and outrageous friendships.

So yeah, I just started out to share this one possible insight–that this will be my body the whole time I am here! This one! Yikes, how awful. No, wait wait, this exact one, that is STILL HERE, against all odds. Thank you thank you thank you God. We have lost so many precious friends who would have done anything do have some more time in this joint, with our Mother outdoors, with those they love most. Anything!

So that is how I am going to spend today, pretty much-sort of more-or-less believing that this is it. This body, this biography, this exact family, this everything. And it is wonderfully made, of love and energy, for love and energy, for giving, forgiving, for–as Wiiliam Blake said–learning to endure the beams of love And joy will always be the best make up.

the gift of innocence

For several wonderful days this past week, I was blessed to hear “Nana” when a wee one woke in the middle of the night, knowing my name was safe in her mouth.  Her grandpa and I just grinned at each other in the dark when she & her big sister found their way to our bed at the beach cottage, and snuggled in for giggles and whispers before the sun got up.  Both of us were recipients of spontaneous hugs from fat little arms being wrapped around our necks, and we just drank in all the sweet little kisses & “I love you’s”  …. our little ones felt safe and we treasured their innocence.

It would be so pleasant to live in a bubble, believing that all little ones felt safe with their family members, that their innocence would be fiercely protected by those that they trusted.  As one of our little ones got her first taste of a wave coming in towards her, she ran to us for rescue.   At that second I was made aware of too many little ones who have no one to run to for rescue, because the one that should be their hero is the one who is causing their fear.  Life is not safe, and a little one’s heart can be broken in seconds, and for thousands of precious poppets every day is a living hell.

Be kind today to the snarly teenager bagging your groceries, or his sullen colleague with piercings in multiple places on her beautiful face, to the raging driver in the other lane who cuts you off, to the neighbor who swears at your dog as you walk by … yes, they might all  just be having a bad day, but they might also have been precious little ones who were locked in dark closets, beaten in alcoholic rages or sexually violated by grown ups whose job it was to protect them.  Their emotional development may have frozen at that moment in time, and their wee hearts were shattered.   We can’t go back & change their stories, but perhaps our smile, a genuine “thank you” or “good morning, Sam” might melt one of the bricks in their walls this morning.

one really good cop

I had breakfast this week with one pretty amazing young woman.  Not only is she a wonderful mother to a teenage football star/heart throb, a 5 year old princess and a sweet little toddler son, and is a great wife and loving daughter, Kim Mager is a tough cop, an incredible officer in the Ashland City Police force.

I first met Kim several years ago when she was being honored for being a “Woman of Achievement” in our county.  I was struck by the enthusiasm she had for her profession, her infectious laughter and the fact she was oblivious to her stunning beauty.  I had never met anyone quite like her before.

One of the many gifts that Kim has is the ability to confront evil every day in her job and still manage to come home with enough love to go around.  She is called into homes where little ones have been brutalized, and within a short time is gentle enough to get these traumatized children to trust her.  Her quiet reassurance of safety helps give them a voice.  This completely feminine creature then has the ability to spend hours in holding cells, facing their narcissistic and socio-pathic offenders, getting the deviant men & women to confess to  the horrible injuries they have done to these children who have trusted them.   Then, months later, Kim has to testify in Court on behalf of the children, being challenged and confronted at every turn.

Many of the adult women who come to me for counseling, and who have a history of sexual, emotional and/or physical abuse, never had a Kim in their lives.  No one was there to rescue them, to wrap a blanket around them and comfort them.  No one gave them a soft teddy bear to cuddle, and the reassurance that they would be safe.  No one took them away from the monster(s) that lived in their house.

So, Kim, this post is for you, to say how proud I am to be able to call you my friend, and to thank you for being an incredible person.   Our county is so blessed to have you as one of our heroes.

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Photo courtesy of the Ashland Times Gazette “Shop with a Cop”

never forget!

I was very honored to receive a request from CBE to publish one of my past blogs.   This was posted by them this evening:

  

Never Forget!

Morven R. Baker (DMin) is a licensed clinical counselor in Ohio with a private practice specializing for over twenty years in women’s issues, particularly sexual abuse and domestic violence. She has given workshops on these topics in the US and abroad, and has contributed to The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused and More Light on the Path: Daily Scripture Readings in Hebrew and Greek. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Baker has lived in Canada, the US, Great Britain, and South Africa. She can pack in her sleep.

This week’s column first appeared on morvensblog.wordpress.com.

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I will never forget the first time I voted. I was 18, and nervously walked into that polling booth with my parents. I was in awe that “my vote” might actually make a difference in choosing the leader of our country. It was an honor and privilege I have never taken lightly.

I lived in South Africa during the beginning of the fall of apartheid. Some months after my family had left that beautiful country, I sat weeping as I watched the news and saw an aerial photograph of thousands of black South Africans, who had never before been given the opportunity to vote, lined up for miles, eager to let the world know their opinion!

Then I watched “Iron Jawed Angels,” the story of how the ‘right of women to vote’ came to be in this country. “Aghast” doesn’t describe it well enough. I was angry! Brave and incredibly courageous women suffered torture and death so that I can vote today. These women from the 1900′s were ground breakers, standing up to an obnoxious Woodrow Wilson, and in 1920, they WON. But at such terrible cost.

There weren’t very many of them, just a handful of 33 women who stood defenseless in front of the White House, carrying signs asking for the right to vote. This protest was first seen by the men who passed by as humorous, but when these men realized that the women were serious—that they truly wanted equality in the election booth—that laughter turned to outrage and the women were carted off to spend their first night in detention. By the end of that first night—the infamous “Night of Terror” of November 15, 1917 at the Occoquana workhouse in Virginia—a few of those women were barely alive. With their prison warden’s blessing, forty prison guards wielding clubs took out their frustrations on the 33 women who had been wrongly convicted of obstructing sidewalk traffic.

Alice Paul led the suffrage movement. She was placed in solitary confinement, and when she went on a hunger strike, she was held down, tied to a chair, and force fed for three weeks using tubes shoved down into her stomach while she struggled. I can’t imagine how much pain she felt.

After they beat Lucy Burns, they chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and broken.

Dora Lewis received some of the most brutal treatment at the hands of wardens. During the  “Night of Terror,” Lewis was hurled bodily into her cell. She was knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against her iron bed frame. Lewis and Lucy Burns were initial leaders of the hunger strike in Occoquan; both grew so weak that they were also held down by attendants and force-fed through a tube.

Additional recorded statements from other prisoners describe the guards as brutally choking, pinching, kicking the women, twisting their arms behind their backs. Sexual abuse can only be assumed, but considering sexual abuse is all about the abuse of power and not the act of sex, it is more than likely that these women were victimized in this way as well. There is no other way to describe it: these women, and others, were tortured.

As you have read the papers over these past months, and have listened to the debates and now criticize the banter, never forget.
If you suffered the inconvenience of getting out of bed early to vote, or returned home late after standing in a long line, remember the sufferings of those who gave you a voice this week. Never forget them!

If you had the inconvenience and cost of finding a babysitter for an hour in order to vote, remember those women tortured in Oocoquan. Never forget them.

If you are behind in your work, or are a bit tired from watching all the political ads on TV, remember the sacrifice of the women who were forced fed, and never forget their sufferinLives were sacrificed so that WE WOMEN could participate in choosing the leadership of this country. Never forget them. Never, never forget.


their voices were silent and little boys continued to be broken

These are good men, all of them.  Well respected family men.  But they were silent when they should have screamed for justice for broken little boys.  Edmund Burke was right:  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier charged in child sex abuse scandal 

(photo credit AP news)

Sources tell NBC News that state prosecutors have prepared charges against Graham Spanier, Penn State’s former longtime  president, as well as more charges for two ex-school officials who have already been indicted. They are accused of lying to a grand jury and trying to cover up the sex-abuse scandal involving convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky. NBC’s Michael Isikoff reports.

By Michael Isikoff, NBC News investigative correspondent

Updated at 2:20 p.m. ET: Pennsylvania state prosecutors, citing what they called “a conspiracy of silence,” on Thursday charged Graham Spanier, the former president of Penn State University, with perjury, obstruction of justice and endangering the welfare of children abused by the school’s former defensive coordinator, convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

The prosecutors also brought new felony charges against two former top Penn State officials — Tim Curley, the ex-athletic director, and Gary Schultz, an ex-Penn State vice president who oversaw the campus police. Both men had been previously charged in the case and they, along with Spanier, have publicly insisted on their innocence.

“This case is about three powerful men who held high positions — three men who used their positions to conceal and cover up for years the activities of a known child predator,” state Attorney General Linda Kelly said at a news conference in Harrisburg. “This was not a mistake, an oversight or a misjudgment.

“This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials at Penn State, working to actively conceal the truth, with total disregard to the suffering of children,”  Kelly said.

“Graham Spanier has commited no crime and looks forward to the opportunity to clear his good name and well earned national reputation for integrity,” Spanier’s lawyers said in a statement. “This presentment is a politically motivated frame-up of an innocent man. And if these charges ever come to trial, we will prove it.”

“To be clear, Tim Curley is innocent of all charges.
We are carefully reviewing the presentment and will reserve a more comprehensive comment for a later time,” Curley’s lawyer said in a statement.

They also blamed the charges against their client on Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, saying that Kelly – whom he appointed – had brought the case against Spanier to divert attention from the fact that when Corbett was attorney general, he had failed to bring criminal charges against Sandusky in 2009  – an issue that Democrats have criticized him for. Kelly on Thursday adamantly denied that politics played any role in the case.

The new charges come nearly one year after Sandusky was arrested and charged with repeatedly abusing young boys dating back to 1998, setting off one of the biggest scandals in the history of college sports. Sandusky, the longtime deputy to the school’s late legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, was convicted on 45 counts of child sex abuse last June and was sentenced last month to 30 to 60 years in state prison.

Full coverage of the Sandusky trial

Spanier, 64, a professional sociologist and family therapist, served for 16 years as president of Penn State, one of the largest public universities in the country, where he was a popular figure on campus and an active booster of the school’s football program. He was fired last year, after Sandusky’s arrest, and is now facing eight criminal charges, including five felonies, each of which carry a potential prison term of seven years.

The charges laid out in a new 39-page grand jury presentment are based in part on evidence uncovered in a report last summer by former FBI director Louis Freeh. But the grand jury report also provide new details– in part culled from previously undisclosed grand jury testimony and documents — of how Spanier, Schultz and Curley allegedly deceived investigators and hid key information from other university officials, including the chief of the campus police and, in Spanier’s case, from the Penn State Board of Trustees.

The grand jury report also provides new details about the trail of an incriminating “Sandusky file” that was kept in a file drawer in Schultz’s office — documenting a 1998 police investigation of Sandusky “with very detailed information” about Sandusky’s contact with a young boy in the Penn State shower and a later 2001 allegation about Sandusky abusing another young boy in the Penn State shower.

This and other material was not turned over to prosecutors despite  grand jury subpoenas for all documents relating to the defensive coordinator between 2010 and April 2012. In all, 22 boxes of Sandusky documents, photographs and other materials were not initially turned over in response to the subpoeanas and, as a result, the investigation into Sandusky was “signficantly thwarted and frustrated,” the grand jury report states.

According to the new grand jury report, the Sandusky file was removed from Schultz’s office by his administrative assistant last year and delivered to his home on Nov. 5, 2011, the same day the then-Penn State vice president was first charged in the case. A previous assistant testified she was given an “unusual request” by Schultz to never “look in” the Sandusky file and that the request was delivered in a “tone of voice” she had never heard him use before.

The new grand jury report states that the emails and other documents show that Spanier, Curley and Schultz at first agreed to report to child welfare authorities a 2001 allegation by former graduate assistant Mike McQueary that he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in the Penn State shower. One indication of how serious they took it was found in documents showing that Schultz sought legal advice from Penn State’s outside lawyer, Wendell Courtney, who billed the school for a “Conference with G Schultz re reporting of suspected child abuse.”

But Curley later changed his mind “after talking it over with Joe” — a reference to the late coach Joe Paterno. (At the news conference, Kelly declined to speculate on whether Paterno would have been charged in the case had he been alive.) They then developed a new plan to encourage Sandusky to seek professional help. “This approach is acceptable to me,” Spanier wrote in a Feb. 27, 2001, email to Curley and Schultz.

Spanier added: “The only downside for us if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road. The approach you outline and a reasonable way to proceed.”

According to the new grand jury report, Spanier initially told investigators in March 2011 that he knew nothing about the 1998 police probe of Sandusky (despite emails showing he was briefed on the investigation) and was given only sketchy information about the 2001 allegation, believing that involved only a contention of Sandusky “horse playing around” with a child. And he later made similar comments before a grand jury, including testifying  that there was “no discussion” about reporting the 2001 incident to child welfare or police — part of the basis for the perjury charge against him.

The report says that Spanier never told the Penn State trustees about either the 1998 or 2001 allegations. When he did brief the board in May 2011 — after a newspaper story first disclosed the investigation into Sandusky — Spanier directed the university’s chief lawyer, Cynthia Baldwin, to leave the room and then “specifically informed the Board that the investigation had nothing to do with Penn State and that the investigation was regarding a child in Clinton County [Pennsylvania] without affiliation with Penn State,” the grand jury report states.