Friday, December 20, 2013

Gay Teacher at Catholic Highschool Fired for Marriage

Friday December 20, 2013

Yesterday, in my neighborhood of Sammamish Washington, a beloved high school teacher, Mark Zmuda, was fired because he married his gay partner last summer and someone in the Seattle Catholic Church Diocese found out. Losing one's job because of sexual preference might otherwise be illegal and excellent fodder for a law suit if it wasn't a CATHOLIC church and the teacher's contract stipulated that he follow the doctrine of the Catholic Church or be terminated.
The gay man, who was the vice principal at Eastside Catholic School was a patient, loving teacher. Someone who was accepted and loved as part of the ECS family. A man who coached the swim team. Students loved him. Maybe even his faculty members. But someone ratted him out and now he's without a job at Christmas, the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ, a man known for his compassion.
The students apparently never saw the firing of Mr. Z coming but he must've. When he confided in another teacher that he'd married the love of his life, another man, last summer, Mark Zmuda probably saw the writing on the wall. What is most amazing, absolutely shocking about what happened next is the reaction from the students at the school. They did not like this decision one bit. And why did they not agree with the Catholic Church's reaction to the same-sex marriage? Because they are kids who've been groomed by the school's philosophy to be charitable, accepting, unselfish, forgiving, non-judgemental.
ECS prides themselves (if that is allowed when being Catholic) on being charitable and is always running a collection of some sort for poor people, impoverished community members, fellow human beings who are down on their luck. Some of them might have even been gay but then the Catholic Church is famous for the don't look, don't tell policy, just look at the religion's history of pedophile priests. They like to keep their dirty laundry hidden within the Vatican walls. And ECS might have let the marriage of Mark Zmuda stay a secret if one of the other faculty members hadn't reported the marriage to the Seattle Arch Diocese. The school asked if Mr. Zmuda would rather resign or be terminated (FIRED) and he chose to resign, probably still hoping to get some sort of a job after this fiasco, a job with an employer that doesn't give a flying fig if his life long partner is the same sex as him.
An assembly of all students was called on Thursday to reveal that Mr. Zmuda was "resigning", a piece of news that left the kids shocked. They loved Mr. Z. How could this happen? Oh wait! They attend a Catholic School, a tidbit that many students forgot. Many of the student body are Catholic, some are practicing Catholics but many are just plain not religious at all. Most of the neighborhood kids I know who attend ECS don't go to a church of any kind, although religion is taught at the school and the doctrine of Catholicism is recognized.
What happened Thursday afternoon was divine. Mr. Z spoke to the student body and then two female students made the ultimate brave choice to stand up and tell the crowd that they are gay. One girl said "do I have to leave now too?" OMG! That was someone's child there. She must've made the decision to come out in support of Mr. Z when she heard the terrible news for non-heterosexual people in the catholic school system. I am absolutely aghast that someone, not yet an adult, had the bravery to stand up in front of their peers and question the Catholic Church's decision to persecute gays. One day away from the Christmas break, Mr. Z is fired. But what will lie in wait for those two girls who came out at the assembly? Acceptance from the student body is pretty evident but is it acceptable to be a gay student in the Catholic School system as long as you didn't sign a work contract to say you won't be a gay teacher? And what about teachers who are divorced? Live together before marriage, practice birth control? Do they get fired as well?
While Mr. Z was picking up leftover garbage off the commons floor after the assembly that announced his termination, the ECS kids took to twitter and suddenly the tweets were firing all over the Pacific Northwest. A staged walk out/protest was in the works. Kids would leave their classrooms and meet in the commons area to stand up for the right to marry the person you love, gay or not. And after meeting in the lunch area the numbers of actual kids with opinions were too great for the small area and they took the protest outside.
Twitter was on fire and soon the schools within 20 miles were either joining ECS in protest in a gym sit in of their own or trying to get over to ECS to join the cause. My son goes to the high school 1/2 mile down the road and their teachers had to block the exits to keep students from leaving school to join their rivals next door to protest. Several Eastlake students made it to the campus but were told to go home by security at Eastlake, the neighboring school.
Over at ECS, the students chanted, cried, and eventually made their way to the main road to tell the town that they weren't having this decision. When the priest in residence at the school, another beloved teacher, came out to talk to them, they chanted for the nun who runs the school, to come out until she arrived to tell them it was not a school decision but a church decision. Oh yea, did you kids remember the school is Catholic? And Catholics do not embrace homosexuality and especially not gay marriage, it appears.
Funny thing is that the school's position was  made clear by the teachers' support of letting the students walk out of the classrooms without baring their way. When asked if they'd be marked absent, most teachers said no. One in particular emphatically told the kids "yes". Makes me wonder who snitched on Mr.Z. Security was not used to break up the scene, only keep the kids safe as they expressed their right to protest. How cool is that?
The point is that the kids took a stand, showed values that the Catholic Church has not embraced yet in their doctrine of forgiveness, charity, and love. But here's the message that the protest should have sent along with re-hire Mr. Z. The Catholic Church has succeeded in teaching young people to have Christian values of love and acceptance and compassion. It worked. Maybe there is some hypocrisy in the Church doctrine but the kids seem to know what's right and what's wrong. They haven't had 2000 years of following rules and social guidelines that don't make sense anymore. The world is overpopulated, we can accept gay couples.
As Bob Dylan said, "the times, they are a changin'." Maybe the new Catholics of this world, the ones who are still in school, will accept the gay lifestyle, unlike Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame who equates gays with terrorists and is in hot water this week for showing America he is a redneck and a small-minded person. That guy is all over Facebook right now, dropped by his channel, A&E, and the subject of controversy for being a gay-hating bigot. That's another story. One that involves freedom of speech and again, religion.
Eastside Catholic high school can be proud of their students even though there isn't a hope in heck of Mr. Z getting his job back. For that to happen the whole huge Catholic Church would send a message to the world that they now accept gay relationships and that would be one gigantic miracle of enormous proportions.
From Vatican City, to the Seattle Diocese to Eastside Catholic - Free Mr. Z!

Kim Hornsby is an author of Amazon Bestseller Novels The Dream Jumper's Promise and Necessary Detour, as well as short stories in the genre of The Bachelor called The Husband Hunt. She resides in Sammamish Washington and speaks out when she is passionate about a cause.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Cookie Recipes for the Lazy (Busy) Mom!

December 13/2013

I love Christmas! Love Love Love!
I'm starting my enthusiasm a bit late this year because I just got back from a vacation (who doesn't need one just before Christmas?) but yesterday I got out the tubs of decorations and will devote the next few days to transforming the house into a Winter Wonderland. As I write this I have my inflatable snowman waving to my street on the front lawn, surrounded by a family of twinkly lit penguins. The lights will go up on the trees and house next week. I like to do a big reveal like that guy in National Lampoon's Vacation. Flip a switch and make my family say "ahhhh.."

This year on my blog, I thought I'd offer some of my favorite cookie recipes.I use the word recipe loosely, seeing they take very little effort. I used to go crazy with the Christmas cookies. Really, I did, but I'm a busy mother and don't have the time to bust a gut on cookies, especially when all my kids want is yummy, colorful reindeers or fun confections to munch on, not award winning works of art like these blue cookies.

Every year I host a Cookie Exchange at my home. If you've never done one of these, it's a fabulous way to get ten types of cookies and only actually bake five. You take plates of your cookies to an exchange and trade. You end up with the same amount of cookies but have different varieties so that your kids aren't eating the same Snickerdoodles and Santa shortbread throughout the whole holiday season.

The first year I did this I spent a hundred hours perfecting my cookies, rolling the fondant, making cute little Christmas characters with my decorating gun, placing garnishes just so, arranging them on Christmas plates or in darling decorated boxes and tying each grouping with a Christmas bow.
Not anymore! After seventeen years of kids,I make the easiest cookies that have the best appeal to children's simple interests, put my my exchanging cookies into fun containers and stick a pre-made bow on top. The effect isn't as magical but like that old Burt Bacharach song says "Make it Easy on Yourself." 
                     Not like in this picture. These cookies took someone ten hours to make!

Here's a recipe my kids LOVE that takes very little time and although they are called Reindeer Food, my darling children re-named them . . .

Reindeer Poop

Mix Cocoa Puff Cereal with Melted Marshmallows, Form into small balls, Sprinkle with Colored Sugar, cool. eat.
(See how easy that is!?)

We also like to make Fudge which happens to be the yummiest and easiest thing to make

Chocolate Fudge

Buy the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk with the fudge recipe and follow.
(That saved e-space!)

          Now for something that is not chocolate. At least not brown chocolate...

Pretzel Canes

Dip Rod Pretzels in melted white chocolate, 2/3 way up the length, then sprinkle with Red and Green sprinkles, M&M's in the hardening chocolate, nuts or edable decorations. Or drizzle with icing.

Okay, now for non-chocolate. . .

                                                                    Melting Snowmen

Make sugar cookies, (see thumbprint cookies below, or buy plain cookies!) Paint them with white stiff frosting and secure a partially melted marshmallow at the top to simulate a melting snowman, with a toothpick and food coloring, make a snowman face and then top off the marshmallow with a hat made from a piece of Chocolate (oops-chocolate again!) If you're feeling fancy, make arms that melt into the icing in the cookie.
Personally, I find this cookie rather sad but it's all the rage this year.

And now for something with absolutely no chocolate!

Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 20

2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 large egg whites

3/4 cup finely chopped nuts of choice 

1/3 cup jam (any flavor) 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt. Gradually stir in flour. Form dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Dip in lightly beaten egg whites, then roll in nuts. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press down center of each with thumb. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Just before serving, fill centers of cookies with jam. Or, fill centers with 1/2 teaspoon of jam before baking.

I have some cute decorating ideas, stolen from really clever women, on my Pinterest page if you'd like to see a Christmas Pizza or Christmas tree veggie platter. Or take one of these curly pretzels or the grid pretzel, melt a rolo candy on it, stick a green or red M&M on top and there you have it! Perfection. 
These little edible critters are cute too and I bet you could buy the chocolate covered pretzels (you would think I owned stock in the pretzel company?!) buy pre-made cookie dough, get chocolate chips and those red decorations they sell that taste like cinnamon. And suddenly you have reindeers. Heads anyhow.

Here's a great site to find cookie recipes.

                                  These are very cute but very time-consuming CAKE POPS

Whatever you do this year, remember the old Chinese Proverb, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" so pace yourselves and enjoy the season.

Kim Hornsby is an Amazon Bestselling Author. Her Christmas Novella Christmas in Whistler is climbing the charts this month in the anthology Christmas by Candlelight. If you need something to look forward to at the end of the day, download this book to your Kindle, phone, ipad or whatever and treat yourself to a little Christmas escapism romance! Click on the title above to see it on Amazon books.

Her novels are Amazon Bestsellers  Necessary Detour, a Romantic Suspense and The Dream Jumper's Promise, a Suspenseful Romance.
Visit her Amazon Author Page for a list of her novels.