>Tornadoes on Super Tuesday & Giving Thanks on (Ash) Wednesday

>If I was Roman Catholic or Episcopalian, I might have ashes on my forehead today, like my friend, Nancy. We had coffee together at Starbucks this morning, like we do about twice a month. Nancy had attended Mass at St. Mary’s Episcopal downtown this morning. Usually Nancy and I would have talked politics the day after Super Tuesday. We often cancel out each other’s vote, but we’re still good friends. Today we never mentioned the election. We were too busy being thankful. And she was entering Lent. (For Orthodox Christians, Great Lent begins on March 10 this year. I’ll be posting more about that in a few weeks.)

Nancy lives a couple of miles from the mall in Southeast Memphis that was hit by one of the 9 tornadoes that touched down in the Memphis area yesterday. The tornadoes that killed 52 people in three states. The tornadoes that destroyed the students’ dorms at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, just 90 miles east of Memphis.

My husband and I sat on the bottom steps of our stairwell for about an hour late yesterday afternoon and early evening, with the door to our laundry room and pantry open in case we needed to move quickly into our designated “safe space.” We kept the TV news on during that hour and didn’t leave our perch until the sirens stopped and the current tornado warning subsided. That’s when my husband drove three blocks away to vote, arriving safely back home before the next round of tornado warnings began.

At 10:15 p.m. the danger was officially past. When I woke up today I was more interested in the news about the damage from the tornadoes than the results of the presidential primaries. My Goddaughter, Sarah, emailed to say that a 100-year-old tree in her front yard fell last night during the storm. It landed between her house and her neighbors, without damaging either house or anyone who lives in either house. She lives about five blocks from us. This happened a couple of hours after their annual House Blessing, done by our Pastor, Father John Troy Mashburn. She called it a miracle and gave thanks to God. In light of that, what difference does it make who won how many delegates in the primaries yesterday?

And yes, I did finally decide who to vote for, but I’m not going to discuss it on my blog. I actually changed hairdressers recently because I got tired of my previous person who could not seem to shut up about politics while he was doing my hair. So, today when I went to my new hairdresser for a haircut, it was so refreshing to talk about how merciful God had been to both of us yesterday. She actually drove home from work during one of the tornado warnings, unsure of whether that would be safer than staying at the salon. I left the salon with a spring in my step, even walking with a crutch and a foot in a cast. I walked three doors down from the salon to Papagallo’s for some retail therapy. Got a great tunic/dress on sale to celebrate being alive. (Okay, you guys are thinking that a haircut and a new dress are really really superficial in light of tornadoes and presidential elections, but my hairdresser and the owners of the dress shop need to make a living, too.)

Speaking of girls… during the storm last night I cancelled my plans to be at Davis Kidd Bookstore to meet Nikki Hardin, publisher of skirt! Magazine, who was signing her humorous book, PMS: Problems Men Started. Since Nikki has published two of my essays in skirt!, (here and here) I was really looking forward to meeting her. I called the bookstore today, hoping they had rescheduled her signing, but alas, they stayed the course, with a much smaller than hoped for crowd, during the tornado warnings.

One reason I wanted to meet Nikki was to thank her for participating in freedom of the press. Her magazine is probably much more feminist/liberal than my general leaning. For example, in November, 2007, one of the essays she published was called “Choosing Us: Our Abortion Was a Love Story,” by Alison Piepmeier. The author relates the decision she and her husband made to have an abortion, with all good feelings and no regrets. A decision I would never make, but the fact that Nikki chose to publish her essay leads to my point. The same publisher chose to publish two of my essays in which I refer to myself as an Orthodox Christian, and talk about the Orthodox Church, saints, prayers, and theology.

A friend who saw Piepmeier’s article in November asked me how I felt about being published alongside such a piece. My response was that I’d much rather be published in a magazine that allows such diverse opinions than in a publication tagged “Christian” or “conservative” or any other pre-conceived label. The possibility of making a difference in a publication that has a broad readership is much greater than in a magazine read by people who all thought alike.

People who know me, and the fact that I’m the mother of three adopted (grown) children, know that I am opposed to abortion. But not to the right of people to express their views. And so I’m thankful for Nikki Hardin, who published my articles alongside Piepmeier’s. She seems to be less driven by the market than, maybe even Hollywood. In yesterday’s Commercial Appeal, the same edition that advertised Hardin’s book signing event at Davis Kidd Bookstore ran a piece by Joseph Amodio (from Newsday) called “TV and films avoid abortion in story lines.” Amodio says that “even folks in ‘liberal Hollywood’ get edgy about using ‘the A word.’” He claims that Hollywood is afraid to make movies that show abortions, but skirt around the issue instead, often having characters talk about them, but decide not to have them. Interviewing several network executives, he says:

Some filmmakers speculate that there’s too much money invested in films and series now to risk alienating audiences.

I’m certainly not an expert in this area, and Amodio might be onto something about the marketing angle here. But I just want to toss a hopeful thought out for consideration: Maybe, just maybe, some of those folks making these decisions in Hollywood get a tinge of conscious as they consider promoting the murder of babies in the womb on the big screen. I’m sure that sounds extremely naive, but on a day when the sanctity of life in the tornado-infested South trumped news about the presidential primaries, I’m just full of hope. And the haircut and new dress both help.

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