A Whole New World

Here’s a quick and positive story to get the ball rolling.

M had her college orientation a few days ago.  Aside from the overwhelming stress of
scheduling conflicts between mandatory classes and mandatory practices and the terrible pain of saying goodbye to my first baby, it was great.  In this world that I navigate, of conservatives and fundamentalist Christians and military officers and government workers, I had forgotten: University Students are unabashedly Liberal.  I saw a lot of cringing parents, but I was elated.  What a breath of fresh air.

On campus, the big “Be a Virgin” game doesn’t exist.  It is assumed that the students are having sex.  The big push is safety.  Everyone is given free condoms.

On campus, a trip to the Rally to Restore Sanity is promoted as one of great activities the school sponsors.

On campus, students are proud of the fact their Homecoming Queen was a transvestite.

And last but not least–

On campus, orientation includes a skit about all the fun activities held during the first week of school, where the punch-line/lesson is how Rowing Club isn’t a way to get exercise on the water, but the way a religious group tries to trick freshmen.  And how funny it was because the actors in the skit were…dare they say it??? Atheists!!

Posted in College | 8 Comments

Connection–Not Just For The Religious

Oh how I have missed my little blogfamily! Prosey, Jay, Fribnit, and BadVerse… You are in my thoughts and I know all of you are alive and well from Facebook (well, not that old duffer Frib) but I miss our discussions and your support. I have so much to tell that it is overwhelming– I’ll get it out, one step at a time. And I have to catch up on all of you in my Google Reader, if it didn’t break from neglect…

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Whenever Two or More Are Gathered

I really enjoy my daily runs through my neighborhood.  The trail I take runs along a river, and on days like today, when the temperature is 75, the humidity is low and every rosebush and peony is in bloom, it is especially thrilling.  The sun makes the water sparkle like diamonds, herons and bald eagles circle and the endorphins rush easily.  I think I have trained my brain as well as my body, because it is very easy for me to reach a transcendent state.   

I am aware that these experiences—where I feel at one with nature—are a product of the working physicality of my brain.  But I can see how feeling “one” especially in a group can be a powerful force.  Religious leaders are trained to create this feeling in their followers by playing with their emotional state and speaking in a familiar language laced with group code and with a defined cadence.  They lie and tell their flock what they are feeling is the spirit of god, rather than just the experience of another human emotion. 

Children are especially vulnerable to this type of manipulation.  It is common for adolescents especially to feel a strong need to belong to a group.  Religious groups like Young Life and Campus Crusade for Christ take this fundamental desire to belong and manipulate it for their purpose.    The feeling of transcendence is particularly powerful in children who are unfamiliar with this emotional state.  They are led to believe what they are feeling is god.  With enough reinforcement, these experiences can be enough for them to believe they have “felt god” for the rest of their lives.

I try to always to point out this very same sense of unity when it occurs, especially when I am working with children.  Being on a sports team, or in a play, in a concert, or even working on a group project—children have lots of experiences where the community comes together and their emotional state transcends the task at hand.  It is my hope that by teaching them to recognize the feelings that come from working with others at a task or toward a common goal they will become less susceptible to manipulation.

Posted in Little Fundies, Manipulation, Young Life | 3 Comments

Suffer the Little Fishies

In the midst of our morning routine my younger daughter, H, noticed her goldfish was swimming happily around in his bowl.  She remarked how surprised she was that it was still alive.  A year and a half ago she had a dozen or so, all unwitting subjects of her science fair project. (Which, mommy must brag, after numerous revisions finally resulted in a Second Place at Regional’s.) They each passed on from natural causes, one by one, except for this little guy, persistent in his survival.

If you read Pharyngula or my friend Jay’s blog, Freethinking for Dummies, you may have encountered the recent story about a pastor who scoped 200 fish out of a tank and threw them onto the ground, in his effort to make a bizarre point about salvation.  He made sure the students watching understood that these feeder fish were only worth fifteen cents.

I relayed this story to H.  Her response was perfect.  “Well, of course the kids would pick up the fish and try to save them, Mom!  The fish have to be dealt with right now!  Seriously, how many of their friends are going to die and go to hell in the time it takes to save the poor fishes from suffocation?”

I told her that some of the people who had heard the story thought the students would be upset and perhaps it would make them question other things the pastor said and did.  She said, “Yea.  I don’t think adults always realize kids my age can think for themselves.  And what I think is that pastor should be arrested for cruelty to animals!”

Later, I heard her grumbling.  I asked her what was the matter and she said growled, “And what does the cost of the fish have to do with anything?!”

I don’t think the point was lost on her at all.  Hopefully the children who witnessed this will come out of shock and share a similar reaction.

Posted in Fear, Little Fundies, Morality | 4 Comments

I’d Seen That Look Before

The way she tilted her head up to gaze into the face of her fiancé repulsed me.

Not a very nice sentiment, I realize, but this is the impression I am left with.  I finally met David’s fiancé but I had to throw them an Engagement party to get the opportunity.  In our circle of friends, we didn’t know she even existed before last Thanksgiving, but even then it was obvious to the one or two people who knew they had gotten together that this relationship was on a rocket-speed trajectory.   They met, and they decided to get married.  It was ‘ordained by God.’

Let me come back, then, to the first sentence of this post.  The way she tilted her head up to gaze into the face of her fiancé repulsed me.  I’ve seen that look before, the one where a woman looks up into the face of her spouse in silent, rapt attention as he engages in a conversation.  But never in anyone under eighty years old.  I realize she had never met the people attending her party before, but she could have spoken for herself.  At the very least, she could have made sounds in agreement with David.   A ‘yes’ or an occasional ‘uh huh’ would have sufficed.  We all were waiting to hear about her.  Everyone wanted the details of their whirlwind courtship, and would have loved to hear it from her mouth.  But she remained silent in words and allowed her eyes to say, “Ask him.  He will speak for me.”

I do not believe this comes from a fundamental shyness.  What struck me as so odd, and so nauseating, was it appeared to me that she was acting in deference.  Her entire attitude– the turn of her eye, the slant of her head, the angle of her body in the chair–spoke to her contented submission to her man.  David had mentioned once that she was a perfect Proverbs 31 woman, and I had no idea what that meant.  I only knew if he was judging a woman based on the Old Testament, it could not possibly be flattering to me. 

After the party, I was so struck by her behavior that I looked it up.  I was not too surprised to find a whole industry devoted to Proverbs 31 women—books, websitesblogs, sermons galore, public speakers for hire.  It’s a verse cherished by those Prairie Homeschooling Christians. 

Which reminds me where I have seen that look before: on the face of the Michelle Duggar.

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
   and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
   she provides food for her family
   and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
   and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

 Proverbs 31:10-30 NIV

Posted in Feminism | 3 Comments

National Day of Delusion

So far the Washington Post (my homepage, daily read -er, skim- and local paper), the blogosphere and Facebook have ignored today as the National Day of Prayer.  But I can’t.

This video is without a doubt one of the scariest things I have seen in a long time.  But want to see something scarier?  Go to the National Day of Prayer Task Force’s website.  Click around a bit, if you can stomach it, and you will find this:

“Prayer = Love
Prayer works in the context of relationship. Once the relationship is established, you will find that prayer is its natural expression. It is simply speaking and listening to your Heavenly Father. God wants to answer our prayers. Answered prayer is how He manifests Himself in our life and makes this relationship personal “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” Prayer is the intimacy that flows spontaneously from a loving relationship.”

Then it gets worse. 

“Have you found that prayer does not work for you? Perhaps you need to start with the relationship.
Click here to learn how

The link takes you to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. 

So let’s review:

  • Our Government wants us to pray to avoid cataclysm (as suggested by that ridiculous video.)
  • We should all to it today.
  • Prayers aren’t working?  Oh Noes!  Your relationship is wrong!
  • You have to be an Evangelical (Fundagelical) Christian first!  Here, go let Billy Graham show you how to do it right!

I think I’m going to be sick.

Posted in Current Events, Fear | 16 Comments

Sun Stand Still, Seriously!

I’d never heard of Steven Furtick until today.  Turns out he’s another soul-patched, all-black-wearing, mega-church pastor schlocking his wares to churches across the country.  And, true to form, some of my Southern Baptist friends are eating it up. 

He’s selling a kit to “take your church through the journey of discovering a faith that believes for the impossible.” (Bonus children’s curriculum DVD included!) His premise is if we believe hard enough, the sun will defy the laws of nature and stand still, giving us enough time to adequately slaughter our enemies.  The premise of stopping the sun comes from The Old Testament Book of Joshua :

So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. Josh 10:13 NIV

My friend, JoAnn, who is so pumped up about Furtick’s message, thinks there is scientific proof that the sun did stand still for one day.  Of course, she can’t tell me where this proof is, and none of the websites connected to the book I looked at mentioned it. (Nor the fact that, although I am no astronomer, I know that the earth would have had to stand still, not the sun—something I have yet to see mentioned.)  I didn’t read all of Amazon’s has 281 customer reviews, but none of the ones I did mentioned science at all.  Most of them made the book sound like The Secret for Christians.  Pray for BIG STUFF!  God will give it to you!

It’s hilarious how Christians claim one thing in the Old Testament to be absolutely true as written, but as soon as you point out the parts where god smashes children on rocks, or orders a genocide, or tells a king to rape someone else’s wife, well…

Posted in Double Standard | 13 Comments