Laura G Owens ~ Writer. Raw. Real. Chronically Ambivalent.

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do, you apologize for the truth. – Benjamin Disrael

Month: October 2014

Impolite Conversations: Talking about hard issues without cringing or screaming.

politics sex religion race money


Can’t WAIT to read this book!

“Here’s a thought: it is truly difficult to have a conversation without really listening to the person we are talking to. Not only do we no longer listen but, we thanks to a new technological innovations, we don’t have to. Instead we enjoy making our points so much that we only listen long enough to poke holes in other people’s arguments. But that’s not truly hearing them. Honest listening is rally the lost art. So let’s talk. And listen..”

Take a look at the chapter titles below.

Cover your reading ears because you might cringe, which is to say you’ll either be turned off or too intrigued to look away.

Obviously the chapter titles are designed to provoke but there’s meat behind the topics we avoid at dinner parties (Personally I love talking religion. Not what you “should” believe but “What do you believe (or not).” 

The chapter “Let’s pray for sexually active daughters” isn’t about asking Jesus to make our girls promiscuous (I briefly heard Cora during an interview about this chapter.

Cora wants girls to experience sex as pleasurable.  She’s not worried if her daughter will have sex, she’s worried her daughter will like sex. We assume men like sex. Men say they like sex without apologizing or snickering and we all nod. Yep, that’s a man. Thinks with his crotch. If a woman admits she likes sex without apologizing or snickering she’s a shameful harlot (and a unicorn). 

But if women put all their sex eggs in the marriage basket they might be disappointed.  Sex for the first time on their honeymoon and ever after might mean women (and men) married their best friend who suddenly in the sack feels like their beloved sibling not lover. Raw deal. 

I’m not saying couples get their numbers up before nuptials. But saving sex for marriage is a problem if they find out the chemistry was never there.  Couples can work through a whole bunch of baggage and behavior issues but chemistry is chemistry.  Primal visceral stuff. Either it’s there — or it’s not. 

So check out this book.

Two authors. One a journalist (Cora) one an anthropologist (John). Good stuff.

Chapter 1 Sex:

Cora: Let’s pray for sexually active daughters
John: There’s a conspiracy to hypermasculinize black boys.

Chapter 2 Money:

Cora: We’re not moving on up
John: Watching TV is better than listening to jazz

Chapter 3 Religion

John: Is Twitter the new religion (Laura: Oh God I hope not)
Cora: Can a nation still have faith if it has lost its hope?
John: Are black people still overchurched?

Chapter 4 Politics

John: I could be a Republican
Cora: It’s time to rethink the American Dream
John: Obama makes whites whiter
Cora: I don’t care about first black presidents
Cora: It actually is Mama’s fault (Laura: WTF? Better read this one with wine)

Chapter 5 Race

John: We’re all haters
Cora: One box rule
Cora: Color wars!
John: All my best friends are light-skinned women
Cora: F* the N-word-bring back the word “nigger” (Laura: just to write that hurt).(Cora is black,btw).
John: Nigger, please (Laura: Again, ouch).
John: Is half as good better than nothing?
Cora: Mediocrity Nation?
John: No more Soujourners

Jesus and Jello. Why I liked my religious buffet growing up.


Image credit: Wikipedia  

Excerpted from my essay “Jesus and Jello”

I was raised with a la carte religion, a buffet line of a little bit here, a little bit there, mostly Methodist with a dash of Presbyterian. From time to time my mother brought my sister and I to our local church’s Sunday school or services while my father read the Sunday Times and kindly shrugged off our efforts at faith (At least as far as I knew, they could have been quietly dueling Kids Need God vs. Why Bother?).

I don’t remember feeling pressure from my mother or the church that I’d rot in any version of Hell or from my agnostic father that belief was pure nonsense. The most I remember of my father’s view about God was benign indifference with a hint of “Hey if that’s your thing, have at it.” What I perceived of God was my own mish mash of “That nice guy Jesus might have a point,” thinking I was something special to play an angel in our Christmas play, watching sweaty evangelists on TV who looked more feverish and angry than settled and divine, and my own supernatural superstition.

When I was about eight or nine I prayed in bed every night. Eyes closed I chanted silently words that warned me that at any moment darkness could turn to death even for the little ones, a sort of self-propelled ghost tale of comfort and discomfort, “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray my Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”

I prayed to ward off worry that God might be extra busy or angry that night and forget to handle with grand decency, the dead girl at 6 Prospect Street who forgot to pray at 9:06 on April 4th, 1974. Around the same time I avoided cracked mirrors, ladders, black cats and without thinking I lifted my feet as our car passed over railroad tracks and then I made a wish. God for me was about performing lucky charm OCD rituals and if I forgot any of them, He’d lower the boom.

As a sprouting seeker, back then God needed to be tangible in my hands and as far as I could tell the Catholics had a better deal than the Protestants, fancier robes and a flair for dramatic church decor. One of my closest friends Kathleen had the coveted saddle shoes which I had too, but hers were permanently new to match her tartan uniform and starched white shirt (that I didn’t want to wear).  If God ranked dress code I had to figure the Catholics’ won first place.

Kathleen’s school I recall, opened with impressive iron gates, a looming presence in our small preppy town in New Jersey where anything bigger than a General Store or Pappagallo was monolithic. A religious school on Main meant the people behind the gates must be extra protected and special, and even though the nuns were humorless finger-wackers (from what I’d heard), to me they seemed to float over the school grounds inside their habits, wings from God elevating them an inch.

And while Kathleen took weekly CCD classes (a huge drag) she was paid back with a spectacular white dress that I envied, a party full of “atta girls” and mounds of cash and presents, all of which I thought weren’t bad trades off for daily damnation jitters…

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