Two Completely Separate Ideas — Or Maybe Not

I love the silly rituals of fall, the creatures and trappings of Halloween. I love tromping out into a muddy patch to bring in a gourd for jack-o-lantern carving. The air is a blend of warm and cool, the sun drifting from behind clouds, then hiding its face again. Perfect weather. Ours is the perfect climate for this holiday, moving as it does between sun and rain, the harvest and mud perfuming the gusty air.

And now, for the other thought flitting through my brain…

What I do not understand is why the cultures who are invaded by missionaries so freely take on the religion of their imperialists. And I honestly do not know, but do other religions besides Christianity and its versions go out and take over other cultures? Do Hindus, or Islamists, or Buddists, worm their way into villages of third world countries and offer assistance in exchange for belief in their systems? There is no more beastly means of destroying a culture from within, I think, than invading the people and converting them to your way of assessing the world. It’s horrific. I do not understand why the peoples of Africa and South America have embraced these religions that allowed the imperialists to come in and proliferate. Be humble. Be a lamb. Do not put up a fight as we push you out and steal your land and resources. Just think about the afterlife and all that it will bring to you, all the riches. Look away as we pillage and destroy you. What an arrogant, abusive way this is. Several generations later, after the people have been displaced, their cultures fully appropriated, they then seek the values of the culture that plundered theirs. It is considered a mark of the true obliteration of all that had been there before. We seek your wealth. We follow your god. We are you. Truly, it sickens me.

Mulling over what I’ve just written, perhaps my paragraphs are not so unrelated. Perhaps some of my rituals of fall were stolen from the culture we obliterated to be here, or that of the culture of some tribe in Europe, or somewhere. I really do not know.

High School

A couple of days ago I listened to a story on This American Life about prom.  It got me thinking about mine because the people interviewed kept remarking just how important prom was.  One person even went so far as to say it was second in importance to a wedding.  Seriously?  I don’t know that I agree with that.  Prom is certainly a ubiquitous high school event, but it wasn’t anything at all life-changing for me, and it wasn’t because I was an anarchist or anything.  I just didn’t really care.  I thought it was a dumb dance.  I was not one of those people who spent all of high school looking forward to attending.  I did finally obtain a boyfriend by senior year so I actually had a prom date.  If I hadn’t gotten the boyfriend, I probably would not have gone.  I was much more concerned with acquiring a boyfriend than attending prom, and much more surprised and shocked that this happened than I ever would have been at getting a prom date.

For me, the story of how I got my first boyfriend was practically out of a high school movie.   Every February, our school hosted a Valentine’s Day school dance.  For some reason, one of the most attractive, most popular boys in school asked me to dance.  A lot.  We danced together all evening.  This was a surprise to me.  He was Mr. High School All-American boy.  Extremely popular, he had attended the schools in my town his entire life.  This meant something in our little town; it meant you knew everyone and everyone knew you.  This could be a bad thing, but for a lot of people, it accorded them with additional status.  Eric had this status in spades, plus he was captain of the football team and President of the Senior class.  Seriously.  He also had blonde hair and blue eyes, lovely chiseled features, and an athletic build.

I, on the other hand, was not Miss High School All-American girl.  I had the blonde hair and blue eyes, but my hair was short, and for the dance in question, I had tried beforehand to trim my bangs.  After cutting, I realized they were crooked, so I cut them again and made them crooked the other direction.  By the time I was done, they were about two inches long and still crooked.  I was also skinny as a rail, with no breasts to speak of.  Certainly not curvy.  I imagine I was prettyish, but definitely not a beauty and never one of the girls the boys talked about or wanted.  I spent most of my time buried in books, riding my horse, or acting weird because my friends thought it was funny and I liked making them laugh.  My parents lived like they never had money, no matter how much they had, so my clothes were not name brands, which I cared about in those days.  (One nice thing about growing up was giving up that ridiculous delusion.)

In spite of my average appearance and lack of social standing, here we were at this Valentine’s Day dance and Eric was dancing with me.  My friends couldn’t believe it.  “He must like you!” said Marie.  “He keeps dancing with you!”  I didn’t quite believe he liked me.  Deanna kept giggling every time he came near.  “Stop it,” I would hiss to her in a whisper before heading to the dance floor.  Kari just smiled her poker-face smile.

Over the weekend after the dance, my friends and I spent many hours on the phone deconstructing the dance and its portent.  Did Eric like me, or was he just being nice?  I could not believe that he did.  They could not believe that he did not.  On Monday, I was embarrassed and terrified at the prospect of seeing Eric. We had a class together the last period of the day.  I spent most of that day a nervous wreck, wondering what would happen in that class.  I was terrified.

Later that afternoon, we were all in Mr. Fisk’s class listening to him drone on about who-knows-what.  Mr. Fisk’s stories were fascinating as sophomores and stupid by the time we were seniors.  I don’t remember now how it transpired, but somewhere along the line in the class a note was transferred to Eric.  I think it was supposed to be from me to Marie or Marie to me, or something like that, but it was about how much I liked him.  He sent me a note and we agreed to both ask to go to the bathroom at the same time.  A few minutes later, Eric got up, asked to use the bathroom, and left.  Heart pounding, 30 seconds later, I asked to go to the bathroom as well.  Mr. Fisk was none the wiser and let me follow Eric. He probably didn’t even notice we were out at the same time. We were the good kids, the ones who always turned in our homework and would never leave to go fraternize and cause trouble, so bathroom passes were easy to come by.

Eric was waiting by the bathroom.  He was wearing his Levi’s 501 jeans, a pink polo shirt, and white sneakers.  I thought he looked amazing.  He said hi and then kissed me.  Exhilarating.

We were going out after that.  We never had a conversation where he asked me to be his girlfriend or anything, I just was.  I adored him.  Completely smitten, I would do anything he wanted to do or go anywhere he wanted to, just to be with him.  Compared to stories of teenage activities I hear about these days, our actions were so tame.  I would never have considered having sex with him, not in a million years.  Honestly, we never made it past second base, but to both of us, this was a lot.

How is it that I managed to get the most popular boy in school for my boyfriend senior year?  I mean really?  I think about this time and I have to wonder.  I know part of it is that this most popular boy in school was unique in some respects.  So often the popular kids are so idealized that we have a vision of how they must be, but to become truly popular and liked by everyone (which Eric certainly was), that person must possess some characteristic of some sort that makes people like them.  Eric was truly likeable.  Plus he’d been in the same town schools since kindergarten.  Plus he was handsome.   Really.  Blonde.  Blue-eyed.  Captain of the football team.  President of the class.  I mean, come on, was this for real?

It was.  That is what is so remarkable to me.  I look back now and for the first time truly marvel at it.  I mean, come on!  Do you think he could have been more of a cliché?  And it’s even more amazing that I, with my background and thought processes, could have had him as my first real boyfriend.  That alone is a feat in and of itself.

One night, we were making out in the backseat of his housemate’s ginormous 70’s automobile.  The thing was a boat on wheels.  I was supposed to be spending the night at Marie’s house, and a group of us had all gone and done something that evening.  Eric and I parked the boat outside her house and started kissing in the backseat.  It was cold out and the windows fogged up.  At some point, I realized there was a round light moving along the back window.  We both sat up quickly and pulled on our shirts (each other’s, as it turned out).  Then we heard a tap on the window.

Humiliated, Eric opened the car door and got out.  The officer took him aside and scolded him.  He then stuck his head in the car and asked me my name and where I was supposed to be. Terrified and humiliated as well, I told him.  He said I should go into my friend’s house and go to bed.  It was probably only 11:30, but I was scared and obeyed without question.

I spent the next week completely terrified that the stop would show up in the local paper.  A weekly, the local paper did not have much to report on, and therefore contained a section listing every petty grievance to which the police force responded.  I was certain our names would be listed with our transgression for all–especially and including my parents–to see.  Thankfully, this never transpired.

Because I now had a boyfriend, prom seemed like it might actually be fun. My friends were all going and I looked forward to hanging out with them.  My mom is an excellent seamstress, and after looking and finding no dresses that I liked, she offered to make a prom dress for me.  I picked out a pink satin and some pink tulle.  She made a long dress with a fitted bodice, with a pink ribbon around the center and tulle around the collar, which sat off the shoulder on my collar bones.  I liked it fine.  Looking at it now, I think it’s kind of boring, but I enjoyed getting dressed up.  Eric looked amazing in his tuxedo, and he arrived in the boat to pick me up, a pink corsage in hand to match the boutonniere on his lapel.

The best memory I have of prom is that my best friend Marie won as prom queen.  She had a huge crush on a good friend of Eric’s named Gary.  Gary had a girlfriend, but for prom king and queen, there would be a dance.  When it was announced that Marie was queen and Gary was king, I was thrilled to death for her.  She was able to dance with the boy she liked for an entire slow song.  I could tell watching her dance, her head against his shoulder, that she was in heaven.

After prom, we went to a party at some friends of Eric’s and sat in a hot tub before he took me home.  Most of them were drinking alcohol and this scared me.  I didn’t find that part of the night much fun.  I can’t remember when I got home, but I don’t think it was very late.

One other huge aspect of my relationship with Eric was that shortly prior to our starting to date, he had become “born again.”  Over the course of our courtship, he became more and more heavily involved in the church.  In an effort to please him, I went along.  I had been friends for some time with another girl who was extremely involved in her church.  I started going with her, mainly because I had a crush on David W. and David W. was in youth group.  David W. would flirt with me at youth group and I enjoyed this.  Also, my friend’s parents would take us for pie after church.  Having grown up in a family that went out to eat maybe once every two years, this was an immense treat.

Interestingly, while I was attending church and trying to be a good Christian, I was discovering a lot of hypocrisies that bothered me immensely.  One morning, the pastor described faithful Muslims praying to Mecca.  He spent a good deal of time describing the scene, to the point I could practically feel the warmth of the sun on my back and the rug under my knees.  Then he dropped a bomb saying, “Isn’t it a shame that all these millions of faithful Muslims are going to hell?  I could not tolerate or believe this.  This sermon was a turning point for me.  I had serious doubts about Christianity and organized religion in general anyway, and that statement made me start looking for inconsistencies, which were not difficult to come by.

However, I kept my doubts to myself.  Eric would drag me to youth group on Wednesday and church twice a day on Sunday and I would go with him because usually after we would make out in the back of his truck and I liked doing that.  I went along with the church thing, even so far as memorizing the entire book of Romans because he did so as well, and I believed that he wanted me to.  I would pray with him, and discuss the Bible with him.  Mainly I just wanted to be with him and this offered me the greatest opportunity.

Our small town, like many, had started offering an all-night graduation party to the entire senior class.  The point was to keep teens from drinking and getting hurt or killed as a result.  I was not a drinker and looked forward to graduation and the graduation party.  My grandparents had flown in from Kansas for the event and I was excited by the prospect of all of it.

The day before graduation, Eric took me out in the afternoon to eat at a nice restaurant.  When we arrived back at my house, at the top of my parent’s driveway, he got out and gave me a hug.  Then he said, “It’s been really fun hanging out with you, but we are going to have to stop. I’m going to college in the fall, and I am afraid our relationship is interfering with my relationship with Jesus.”  There were more words, but I don’t remember them.

I was incredulous.  I had not seen this coming, not even close.  Heartbroken and numb, I stumbled into the house and into my bedroom.  I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on my bed in a pool of misery.  We were to attend a Baccalaureate dinner that night.  I dressed in the new outfit my mom had bought for me, a knit yellow sweater and white cotton skirt.  I don’t remember much of the Baccalaureate dinner except there were some speeches.  Eric was there, but he ignored me.  I stared at my plate all evening.  My parents and grandparents could tell something was wrong, but didn’t say anything.

Later, after we arrived home, I went again to my bedroom and lay on my bed, trying not to cry.  My family wanted me to come in the living room and visit, but I just couldn’t do it.  Finally, my grandma came in to talk.  I confessed what had happened.  “Oh, honey,” she said, rubbing my back.  “It seems so hard now, but you’re so young. It is for the best.”

I still remember her voice and the way she stroked my hair and back.  I also remember that graduation and the party were a drag.  My friends kept trying to get me to liven up, but I just couldn’t do it.  Forever after, when I think of graduation, the memory is colored by the fact that the day before the ceremony my first love dumped me for Jesus.

It was the best decision of course.  Eric became a successful missionary in Africa. He is still there, working on a Bible translation of some sort, I think.  I saw him at our reunion and it wasn’t weird at all.  Time heals all wounds and we had grown up. I was such a baby at 17.  I am immensely grateful Eric didn’t do something stupid like ask me to marry him.  I would have said yes in a heartbeat and it would have been the wrong decision. We would have been divorced by the time we were 20.  I’m so different from that person, I can barely remember how I thought or acted.  Most of what I remember about myself at that time makes me cringe in embarrassment.  I certainly could never have been a Christian.  The seeds of doubt in organized religion had been planted, probably before I knew the ground was tilled.

In any case, this was my prom and the story around it.  Nothing spectacular, just an old memory. It’s funny, as I’ve been writing this, how much I actually do remember.  Life is interesting and so much is forgotten.  I’m glad I remember this.

And Then

Liz Cheney is as big a fucking hate-mongering idiot as her devil father.  Spawn of the devil keeps his evil going…

I may have been followed this morning.  A woman I had seen on the train got onto the elevator with me and did not choose a floor while I was on the elevator.  I do have to say though, that she did not get off at the 6th floor as I did.

When I go to businesses that ask my name, I make one up.  Your name?  Aristophanes.  Spell that one.  Then pronounce it.

We are losing.  Here is my prediction of what is going to happen:   The ginormous corporations will continue to get bigger and proliferate.  The masses, increasingly ignorant and sedated with fast food, television, noise,  sports, and religion will become even stupider, turning back into the peasants of the middle ages.  The power elite are going to win and the poor are going to help them.  The poor want to be rich and if they were given the means, they would act the same way so they don’t question being constantly sold and mollified with product, trying so hard, kissing vacations goodbye and futilely trying to shovel their toddlers into Harvard.  Since they will not become a part of that which they seek, they go along and buy their lottery tickets, stuffing their faces, plugging earphones into their heads and turning up the music so they can drown out their own oblivion.  They believe it when they are told there is a magnificent being in the sky who cares about them and will take care of them after death so they don’t have to concern themselves with the fact that the place in which they are actually living right here and right now carries other possibilities.    Numbed and choking on corn and petroleum, they will let the power class continue to take them and take the planet.  In time, those of us who are in the minority and see the damage and want change may rise up and revolt, but success is an unlikely prospect.

And a thought from my friend Carin:  Something that’s been bugging me.  Self righteous boobs claiming to be upstanding and moral whilst they are posing half nude with photographers, getting boob jobs and participating in a meat, sorry, “beauty” pageant.  Or teenage twits who claim they are the voice of abstinence-only sex ed while holding their baby that they conceived obviously not through abstinence.

As I walk to the subway, ride the subway, and walk to my office, I’m filled with thoughts and observations.  The moment I walk through the door and sit down under the flourescent lights, the thoughts fritter away into the ether.  I wonder as I’m walking if I should stop and write some of the thoughts into my notebook, but I don’t do it.  My notebook used to be full of thoughts, but right now the only words there are a note I took to remind myself to contact my daughter’s school about an art teacher who smashes art pieces she deems unworthy of her almighty judgment.  Other than that, nothing.  Is it the flourescent lights?  Maybe it’s the air-conditioning.  Maybe it blows the thoughts from my brain.

Faith in a Cushion

All the claims people make of faith, yet when a “face” appears in a cushion (see article here), thousands flock to see their proof.  If they are so faithful, why do they need to run get such “evidence”?  This is only one problem in many with belief systems that rely on nothing in order to sustain themeselves.  I have little doubt the “faithful” who want to see the face would say it is because they just want to see Him.  I don’t buy it. They want something to back up their efforts, some proof that their beliefs are not in vain.

Today the Pope said condoms won’t stop the spread of AIDS in Africa.  I’m not surprised.  Maybe the Africans can pray the disease away.

My Response to a Comment

I received a comment from a reader of my post yesterday.  I have posted the writer’s comment here and responded individually to specifics.

“You might think that the fact that you use words as “vilify” makes you an authority on something which you obviously know nothing about.”

By phrasing your opening line with the words that I “might think” something, you limit logical denial.  However, while I “might think” using the word vilify makes me an authority on something, I don’t.  My use of the word is as a verb to describe behavior of certain people.  How is it you prove I have no “obvious” knowledge, because I did not give a history of religious bigotry in an opinion piece?  I need not give such a history; your own letter proves my point in its last line.

“You vilify Christians in the same breath you claim we vilify you.”

Show me where I say anything about Christians and show me where I vilify anything.  I am making a valid criticism of organized religion.  You jump to conclusions and take it further, ascribing my criticism to Christianity, then claim I am vilifying, all in the same breath.

“You don’t understand us, but yet we are supposed to understand you.”

Again, this comes from nowhere.  My fundamental thesis requests that we look hard at religion, that we seek understanding.  You miss this point entirely and as you do in your entire letter, making assumptions and jumping to unjustified conclusions.  You state I want “you” to understand me; does this mean you think I am in a minority and want religions to understand me?  Is it something else?  I offered an opinion, I did not ask for religious tolerance of what I had to say.

“It seems that whenever any group of people creates a movement with the same rhetoric you espouse, you want to play with a different set of rules and on a different playing field.  Your attitude and language mirrors that which you abhor in Christians.”

What rhetoric is it that I espouse, that we should look at religion’s place in furthering intolerance and bigotry?  I suppose you are right that I want to play with a different set of rules on a different playing field because I am not arguing we use intolerance and bigotry in making this examination.  And again, where in anything do I specifically mention Christians?  Where do I show abhorrence?  In asking we stop intolerance and bigotry?  Is that abhorrence?  It seems you are the one with the attitude, as well the one who is jumping to conclusions and making assumptions.

“Have you thought about that?”

Why yes.  See my previous response.

“You make leaps and bounds and speak with hyperbole, and use circular reasoning to prove your point.”

Ironic, considering this exactly what you have done through this entire diatribe. Making leaps and bounds?  You have done so by assuming I speak only of Christians.  I said religion.  Does this mean only Christianity qualifies in your narrow mind?  And where exactly is my hyperbole, in claiming religion is used as an excuse in most bigotry?  This is not overstatement; it is truth.

“I don’t think you’re going see people give up on religion.”

Did I make such a request?  No.  I said we need to look at religion honestly to see its place in bigotry.  I did not say do away with it.  Read my words, don’t jump “leaps and bounds.”

“After all, religion is a word that people don’t understand.  What we really focus on is a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

As is typical with those of your ilk, you think the only religion is yours.  There is no response to your narrow-mindedness.

“You don’t have to understand us or believe the way we believe, especially with regard to sin and our own sinfulness.  But, then again, we don’t have to understand you or believe the way you believe, either–even if you don’t want to believe that there is such a thing as sin.”

Again, as with this entire pointless rant, you make assumptions based on your own beliefs, not based on anything I have said.  And again, there really isn’t much one can do to respond to your own imaginings.

“So, I will respect you and let you live the life you want to live; but, please, respect me and let me live the life I want to live without the name-calling and generalizations.”

Name calling?  Where in what I said did I call anyone any names?  You are deluded.  And if this entire letter is your being respectful, I would hate to see what you consider disrespect.

“The proposition was voted, and unfortunately for you, you are in the minority.”

Yes, thanks to religion and the hatefulness of most people like you, bigotry is alive and well.  Thank you for proving my point.

Have We Overcome?

This piece can be seen here on Huffington Post. If you like it, buzz me up.

Isn’t it ironic that as we’re congratulating ourselves on our ability to elect a black president we are simultaneously lamenting the passage of Proposition 8? We Americans have been quite pleased with ourselves because we were able to elect a black man to the highest office in the land. I would argue that we may have overcome something, but it is not bigotry. The day we will really know we have overcome bigotry is the day we elect a black, Atheist, lesbian–THAT would be a feat.

Inherent in the post-election discussions of race and politics is the conclusion that because large segments of our population have moved away from open racism, we are beyond bigotry. Nothing could be further from the truth; we have simply traded one for another, or several others, as the case may be. And these latest forms of intolerance and discrimination are often made more palatable through religion, as open racism against blacks used to be.

Because of religion and its ever-encroaching move into the political spectrum, Americans were forced to live through an administration that would not allow medical research on single cells to help find cures for diseases in people who are alive right now. Because of religion, pro-life politicians gain support from citizens whose actual interests are ignored in favor of policies that benefit the extremely wealthy. Because of religion, all over the country laws like Proposition 8 proliferate.

In spite of Obama’s election, what America has not given up and seems loathe to give up, regardless how far backward we move socially, morally, and legally, is religion. Why should it? Religion allows people to vilify those they don’t understand. Simply claim that anything different from you is against your religion and you are protected by your God-given, inalienable right to believe.

It is truly a significant step in the right direction that a black man will be our president. It is evidence that progress is possible and that society is able to make changes that seemed impossible only decades earlier. Yet is seems to me that if we are ever able to really end bigotry, if we are ever able to end all forms of discrimination, we are going to have to take a cold, hard, honest look at religion and its role in the promulgation of hate and intolerance. Only then will we truly overcome.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

I have seen this bumper sticker quite a lot. I saw it again tonight and kept ruminating on it, wondering about it, asking the same question, “Who would Jesus bomb?” Over and over, the answer that came to mind was everyone, if certain fundamentalist Christians have their way. Those asking this question are under the false assumption that fundamentalists are framing their religion on the behavior of Jesus Christ. Such an assumption is erroneous, and in the long run could contribute to the Armageddon so many fundamentalists of Abrahamic religions hope will occur.

A frightening number of persons are focused heavily on this prophecy (ever hear of the “Left Behind” series?) and support global policies that seem geared to ensure its occurrence. Why is this? It’s simple: Armageddon offers “evidence” to back up these belief systems. See, what did we tell you? Our prophets foretold the world would come to an end, and therefore we were right. The disheartening aspect of this is that it doesn’t seem to matter whether this prophecy is self-fulfilling or not. For whatever reason, there is a need for vindication to prove to non-believers that they were right all along. Never mind if the world ends if you get to be right.

I can hear it now: it isn’t evidence that is desired, but rather an entry into heaven. This is a baseless explanation. If one is theoretically good enough to get into heaven at all, what difference does it make if it is through Armageddon or at the time of death? Why the need to get there sooner? Why the need to get there through the destruction of mankind? Is it simply a matter of the inability to delay gratification, a wretched impatience more important than the lives of others or the planet? I certainly hope not.

Logic is not part of the equation when thinking like a fundamentalist. If it were, there would be no focus on Armageddon at all. According to the Bible, humans are not supposed to know when it will happen; how therefore could they engineer its manifestation? And if divine interference is a given, it will occur without human intervention.

Fundamentalists are called fundamentalists because they claim to follow a literal interpretation of whichever text they profess to follow (although of late Christian fundamentalists prefer the term “evangelical” as a descriptor because of the negative connotations associated with the word fundamentalist). But let’s be honest. Fundamentalism is only a literal interpretation of whatever rules the fundamentalist is interested in following. It is picking and choosing. It has to be because many of the rules in these ancient, many times translated and transcribed texts are in diametric opposition to one another.

Ultimately, fundamentalism has little to do with trying to live a moral and honorable life. Rather, it is giving authority and responsibility to a book and abdicating such for the self. It is based on fear, guilt, control, manipulation, and hypocrisy. It gives an excuse to inexcusable behavior. It allows one to judge others while simultaneously claiming not to do so, to control how women use their bodies, to decide for others who they can marry, and on and on. It is a way to include and exclude–junior high on a global scale. Worst of all, it provides an excuse to justify horrific actions, including the use of bombs. Fundamentalism is so popular because it requires such little effort and no imagination. It isn’t moving beyond fear, but into it. At its heart it is a cowardly system of belief.

As Martin Luther said, “Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.” For all these reasons, we should work to eliminate fundamentalism. Any benefits it offers are vastly outweighed by its risks. Allowing our society and our world to be ruled by fundamentalism could very well be our undoing. This would not be evidence of anything except the end of humanity.

Lowering the Glass Ceiling

See this piece on Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lara-m-gardner/lowering-the-glass-ceilin_b_128346.html

I would like to take you on a journey of the imagination…

Imagine that Sarah Palin is not a woman, but a man.  We’ll call him Mr. Palin.  Mr. Palin has been mayor of a small town in Alaska, and governor of that state for less than two years, a state whose entire population is less than that of most US major metropolitan areas and in this position.  In this position, Mr. Palin is being investigated for questionable conduct.  Imagine that he obtained his passport within the last couple of years, and that he considers foreign policy experience living next door to another country.  Take it further and imagine he believes the earth was created in a few thousand years, that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans, and that creationism should be taught in public schools.  Suppose also that this man believes women should not have the right to choose, and that rape victims should pay for their own rape kits.  Imagine Mr. Palin hunted moose from a helicopter and sought removal of environmental protections for polar bears. Imagine he has no knowledge of financial markets, the cold war, weapons systems, or Middle Eastern history.  Imagine all of this and more.

If this were true, and Sarah Palin were a man, would he have even been on the longest list of potential US vice-presidential candidates for any political party?  It would be unthinkable.

Why are the standards for this woman running for vice-president so much lower than they would be for a man?  Shouldn’t the standards be the same?  To determine whether someone did not get a job because of something other than merit, simply slip whatever that person is not into the position in your mind and ask yourself whether the same standards would apply.  If there are disparities in the standards required between two people seeking the same position, it is quite likely that discrimination is occurring in some form, even if it is allowing someone to be worse at something in an effort to pretend there is no -ism taking place.

Here, we have a woman running for vice-president who is grossly underqualified.  Those who support her claim that her position as a vice-presidential candidate is evidence of women shattering the glass ceiling.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Allowing her to take a position for which she is not qualified and giving her extra points for being a woman is the ultimate in sexism:  it is using gender as a qualifier rather than merit.  Beyond the obvious arguments against her abilities, her position as a vice-presidential candidate assumes on some level that a qualified woman could not perform the job.  Sarah Palin’s place on the Republican ticket does not shatter the glass ceiling, it lowers it.

Are YOU Ready to Be President?

Do you think you can be president of the United States of America?  Should you be president of the United States of America?  Do you have the qualifications necessary to run this country?  Regardless whether you want to be the president, would you like to have a president you see as a person with whom you could share a beer or hang out with?

It seems to me that the desire to hang out or have a beer with the president comes from a desire to view this person as human, as “like us.”  But think about it, how much “like us” should the president really be?  Are any of the people you hang out with ready to be president or should they be?  Are the people in your child’s soccer league ready to run the country?  What about the people in your PTA?  Are the people you have a beer with at the park ready to run the country?  Hell, are the people in your city council, or even your mayor ready to run the entire United States of America?

Just because we could sit and have a conversation with a person does not mean either of us is ready to run one of the most powerful nations on earth.  Think about it.  Faced with the prospect of leading at least two wars, global starvation, natural disasters, increasing environmental concerns, a worldwide mortgage crisis, an economy on the brink of collapse, millions of uninsured and unemployed Americans, and a multitude of other issues, are you or your neighbors ready to run this country?  Could you do it?  Could you fix these problems?

Don’t just ask yourself if the person running for president could drink a beer with you or hang out at your church.  Ask yourself if this person can manage the complex and myriad problems facing this massive nation. Over three hundred million people are citizens of the United States. Three hundred million!  Could you lead three hundred million people?  Perhaps in considering whether someone should be president we should worry less about whether that person is “like us” and start asking if they can do the job, because I highly doubt that most of us could run this country.  I doubt our neighbors could.  I doubt our friends could.  Perhaps after years of experience and training we could do it, but not right now, not today after drinking that beer. Being “like us” does not qualify someone to run this country.  It might make someone more likable.  It might provide us with some link to the enormity of their responsibility to feel that person could be “like us.”  Being “like us” may make us feel in another lifetime at another time we actually could do that job.  Unfortunately it is not enough to determine whether someone could be president of the United States.

Presidents should be super heroes.  Yes, they are human.  Yes, they shit.  But I want someone in charge of the fate of a very large number of people to have superhuman strength and abilities.  Just because this person could have a beer with me is simply not good enough.

Musings in the Library

I saw this book at the library today called God’s Politics.  I only saw it as I was walking by so I did not examine the contents of the book, but I had the thought immediately upon seeing the title that such a thing proves that god is a construct of man because politics are a construct of man.  Why would any god have need of politics?  It’s foolishness.  Politics are the process by which groups of people use to govern one another and to decide who gets what.  If god were a supreme and single being, what would be its need of politics?  It would have control of everything and would have no need to bargain.  In any sense where a god could be involved in politics, god would be a human construct, a way to complicate the political process.

I find it so ironic that people who believe god wants things one way think god wants it their way.  They seem so unable to consider a universe where there might be one god that wants it some other person’s way.  In that regard, the god becomes a further extension of the self and a justification for something the person either isn’t willing to say alone or for which the person has no honest justification.  It’s the devil made me do it reversed.  The god is constructed to back up an idea or to stand for that which the person can not or will not stand for alone.  The reliance on the god becomes a way to remove personal responsibility.  Ironically enough, in our society, the religious person is automatically afforded a moral compass and assumed responsibility simply by the fact of being religious.  Again, the requirement for actual personal responsibilty or development of an actual moral compass is lessened simply via the association.  This is simply absurd.

These are just the thoughts that fumbled through my brain as I wandered the aisles of the library in search of books to play my bass.  Politics, religion, and bass guitar.  Who could ask for more than that?

More Love Guru Love Letters

Here are some more letters to help ladies find their way to true love. Based on the sheer number of letters I’ve received, I am absolutely certain that many of you have similar questions and will find comfort in these answers I have provided.

Dear Love Guru,
My boyfriend says he doesn’t like the music I chose for him. He says I have zero taste and wouldn’t know a good song if it hit me in the head. I told him this hurts my feelings. He said so what? What should I do? Sincerely, Sally

Dear Sally,
I hate to tell you, darling, but your man is a mean clod and deserves to be put out on his head. Telling you that you have zero taste in music is not only not true, it’s just plain cruel. What does he know, anyway? He’s a man. Except in rare instances, men wouldn’t know musical taste if landed in their lap. Personally, I would take him out to the suburbs or the country and leave him there to figure his own way back to town, but if you love him like it seems you do, you are just going to have to change him. How? Well that’s simple. He’s going to have to spend some serious time in private quarters, the music is going to have to go a bit louder, the perfume is going to have to be sprayed a bit longer, and I hate to say this, but I think it is time to withhold some meals from this man. He really needs to learn that your love is what his life is all about and if he’s going to be critical of your choice in music, he should be thankful for every other wonderful aspect of your beautiful character. I would suggest starting out by feeding him only once a day in the late afternoon. He’ll be so grateful for the food, he won’t even notice the music. While he’s eating, turn the song up just a hair, while he’s still in the throes of tummy ecstacy. After about a week, go ahead and add another snack in the morning and when you do, bring the volume up on the music again right after he is through eating. Over the next several weeks, you can add in more meals, and also increase the size of the meals. Each time you do this, turn the musical volume up just a piece. He will begin to associate food with the song choice you made. If at any time he has something critical to say to you about your song choice, reduce the amount of food he receives for the next few days but do not lower the volume on your song. He’ll figure it out and you’ll be on your way to true love’s bliss in no time at all.

Dear Love Guru,
I hate to ask you this because you were probably intentional in leaving it out of your instructions, but what am I supposed to do with my fingernails? I have the hardest time keeping them tidy and I’m just afraid they detract from my entire sexy look. Do you have any advice? Thank you in advance, Nel
ly

Oh Nelly, Nelly,
What a fantastic question and you are so right that I should have addressed this earlier! What was I thinking? I just wasn’t, that’s all there is to it. I’m so sorry for leaving you out in the cold like this. Here’s the thing, dear. You are going to have to start using falsies. Men love a woman with long nails. They just do. Short nails remind them of their own unkempt manly hands and you know what happens when a man sees something that reminds him of himself…he begins to see you as a man. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? So find a nice nail salon and have them apply the tips for you. If you can’t afford a salon, go ahead and apply them yourself, but be sure you use a strong adhesive so they don’t fall off. I wouldn’t use the stuff that comes with the nail kit, but go buy some serious glue from the hardware store. You can simply use a bit of sandpaper on them to even out the lumps the glue leaves. After you apply your nail tips, be sure to paint them fire engine red. Fire engine red fires up a man’s imagination like nothing else. He’ll be so hot after seeing those nails, you might not even need his private quarters for a week! Toenails actually need attention too, but they do not need to be very long. Just be sure to have them cleaned up with a lovely pedicure. Be sure to get rid of any unsightly skin or fungus. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: SOS pads. SOS pads are amazing for scrubbing nastiness off your toes and heels. If you get a little burned, put on some lotion. Your feet will be utterly amazing. Throw on some high heeled sandals and he’ll be so gaga for your gorgeous feet, he won’t be able to sleep with loving you.

Dear Love Guru,
My mother, church, God, and the Bible taught me that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Shame on you for advocating sinful bedding like this! Shame on you also for telling women to show skin! Don’t you know that God wants our bodies covered? He does not like us to show others our private parts! Even in the sanctity of the marriage bed, he would be shocked if I allowed my Husband to see my breasts during relations. Shame, shame, shame! I may be coming up on 48 years old, but God will find me a Husband when he sees fit, on His own time. And if I never find a Husband, the Lord Jesus will be happy to comply. Signed, Ruth

Dear Ruth,
I do not know how in the world you came to the conclusion that God would not want you to use your body for sex since He gave you a hoo hoo and breasts, and I’ll bet your lovely form is way sexier than even you can imagine. Plus, there is no reason you can’t follow my other advice for getting love, even without having sex early and often, you just need to modify things a little. I think maybe Jesus is a bit busy healing babies and going to church and all that to be working on being your husband, so it would be best if you found yourself a nice human man to love. It may take a bit more time for you than it will for the average girl, but you’ve got spunk and I know you’ll find true love with a man in no time just like Jesus intended.

Well how do I do that, Love Guru? I can just hear you asking me that right now, so I’m going to tell you. First of all, nothing says that a good Christian lady can’t have her hair attractively styled. In fact I have seen more Christian ladies with the hair style I advocate than I see at the mall. And having a built in support system could be quite useful for you all. You could get together and color one another’s hair! It could be so fun. After Church you could have pie and do hair. God also doesn’t mind if you wear makeup. He made men so that they aren’t bright enough to know you are a girl without makeup, so He must have intended you to use some. Makeup parties can be fun too, kind of like those candle party things you Christian girls go to, only putting makeup on instead of lighting up a bunch of wax. And if you’re feeling especially creative, you could combine one of your candle parties with a makeup and hair removal party, and use the candle wax on your bikini line, armpits, and legs. It could be so much fun! Sitting here I’m thinking perhaps I should go into the Christian lady party planning business. I think I would be good at it.

You also mentioned some concern at having to show your skin. Again, I have to wonder why the good Lord would make skin if He meant for us to cover it all the time, but I also recognize that He did give us the ability to create some fantastic clothing choices, so I suppose He intended us to be creative in this department. It is too bad that he didn’t make men with a bit more imagination so us girls wouldn’t have to make things like nipples and labia so obvious, but it is what it is. I am here to tell you that you can still follow my steps while allowing for a man’s inability to figure out a breast is a breast and not just a lump. Basically you just have to go with ill-fitting clothing all over your whole body. Wear a very tight blouse. It can have a high neck and long sleeves. Just make sure that the silhouette of your breasts is clearly visible. Since your man will not be able to see your areola, you will need to wear your shirts tight enough he can see the shape of them through the shirt. Since it sounds like short skirts would offend your religious sensibilities, simply wear your pants tight enough to see your labia. Dressing to find a man without showing skin really is not as difficult as it seems, now is it?

As you can see, there are many of my steps to love that you can follow even if you are unwilling to have sex early and often. And don’t underestimate private quarters to assist you in developing a good Christian relationship. Suppose you meet a man you really like, but he doesn’t share your devotion? You can use your private quarters to help him along. This is especially effective if you have a very cold basement or root cellar for your man’s private quarters space. Basically, make sure your man’s private quarters are good and cold. Put him in there and leave him for several days. Every few days sit with him and read to him from your Bible. After reading to him about the comfort of the Lord, give him a little something to help him warm up just a bit. Over time, he will begin to associate the comfort of the Lord with the warmth you have provided. You also have the added bonus of his associating this comfort with your love. In no time at all, he’ll love you and the Lord more than anything in the world. Religious hymns can also make an effective musical choice in a case like yours. He’ll associate the lovely hymn with his love for the both of you. What could be better than that?

Dear Love Guru,
I bought some sexy clothes like you suggested. What should I do with my old ones? I really don’t think it would be right to donate them since another woman might end up buying them and keep herself from finding love. I simply could not live with myself knowing I contributed to another woman’s unhappiness. Thanks, Dotty

Dearest Dotty,
You are truly a generous spirit and your kindness will be rewarded with true love. What to do with those clothes? That’s easy, use them to fill in the cracks of your man’s private quarters so he stays warm. There’s nothing like the softness of a nice cotton polo shirt to snuggle up against. And if he’s being naughty, you can use them to poke in his mouth until he’s quiet. Alternatively, you can give them to my previous letter writer or any other Christian ladies who need to encourage their men to be a bit more devotional.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For the first batch of Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

All the Wittle Animals and Adam

My friend wrote this.  I thought it was such a funny story, I had to post it.

Once upon a time, God got an itch to create himself some little planet.  Yeah.  And on the planet he put all the wittle animals, some shrubbery, and Adam.  Oh, and then he turned on the light.  And then he rested.  Yeah.  And Adam was lonely so he ripped out a rib and created a woman.  Yeah.  And then God made sure that Adam and Eve were stupid and wouldn’t question anything.  Yeah.  So then, there was a snake, a talking snake, that persuaded Eve to eat an apple.  Yeah.  And then, well, then everything went to hell (woman’s fault, you know).  And then, God wrote the bible and told everyone that this was the Bible and that it was the word of God and that you had to obey it all.  Yeah, even the parts where you stone your own children to death if they profess non belief.  — CW, 2008

My choosing to publish this story represents a perfect microcosm of a little problem I have been dealing with lately.  As cliche’ as it sounds, on some level my blog is my own personal therapy session.  I come here and spout and think and muse and make shit up no one cares about.  Part of the deal for me is that I have to be brutally honest.  But also, no censoring.  And lately, I have wanted to censor.  I have been worrying way too much about who might read this and their reaction.  As a result, I have not been the happiest little camper lately.  Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’ve not been sleeping well.  Not sleeping makes me turn into a rather cranky little monster, if you know what I mean.  Lack of sleep will do that to a person.

But another part of my angst has been wanting to write stuff and then not doing it because of my perceived expectation of a reaction or concern over what others will think of me.  I even went so far as to delete the post I wrote on toxic work places because I was worried someone at the old workplace would read it.  I also worried about what I wrote yesterday about wanting a boyfriend, all concerned the man I’m going on a date with might read it, realize I’m bananas, and run screaming for the hills.  I worried a parent in Milla’s class might discover what a foul-mouthed hooligan I can be.  Then there were a few days where all I wanted to write was a bunch of negativity because I was mired in a sleep-deprived, hormonally-induced, mini depressional psychosis and I didn’t want people to think I’m that much of a mental health disaster.  For over a week now I have not written much at all because of concern over someone reading what I had to say.

Then last night I was reading and taking a nice bath to relax before bed in the hope I would fall asleep when I realized what I have been doing.  I realized I was censoring myself and I had to ask, what in the world is going on here?  I am not writing for the audience, I am writing for me, regardless how stupid, opinionated, depressed, or ridiculous I may be.  I want to have an audience, that’s why I put it out there.  But I can’t write with the audience in mind.  So I had this little epiphany and resolved to go back to being my usual blabber-mouthed, opinionated, cussing sometimes self, regardless if I was having a good day and regardless what anyone else might think or say.

Then this morning I received the story my friend wrote and wanted to post it because I think it is hilarious.  I cut and pasted it and put it into my wordpress window, then when it came time to tag it and categorize it, I started to worry about offending someone or the neo-nazi religious types that might read it and send me hate mail and I got a little flutter and almost didn’t put anything in the tags and only a couple of categories to ensure no one would read it.  Then the lightbulb went on and I realized I was doing it again, censoring, worrying about the reaction, and I knew then that I had to post it and add all the tags and categories I would have if I knew no one was reading it.  I had to put it out there, regardless of the reaction.  Because ironically enough, I honestly don’t care whether someone likes it or not.   I’m just too tired right now to deal with the possible reaction.  And that is the crux of it, I suppose.  I have been feeling so lousy from lack of sleep that I do not have my usual strength and resolve to put up with someone else not liking what I have to say.  I’ve regressed back to the person in my teens and early twenties who had zero confidence in her writing or her self.  I suppose it is normal to make these regressions when I’m overly tired, but it doesn’t mean I have to stay there.

So I’ve put on the story and I put back the toxic workplace post and I’m leaving the relationship post and if there is anyone reading it who doesn’t like it, well, I guess that’s too bad.  Go read something else.  I’m not trying to change your mind.  I’m not trying to make other people hate my ex boss.  I’m not trying to troll the blogs hoping some Prince Charming will read my relationship posts and come sweep me off my feet.  I’m writing because I have to and it keeps me sane.  It is part of my spirituality.  I know that’s a useless psychobabble reason, but it’s true, and that’s all there is to it.

Church of Freezing

I am starting a new personal religion. Called the Church of Freezing. Why does this damn thing keep doing this? Maybe the computer wants to join too, since it keeps freezing up. Also the church of tired. Go worship in the Church of Freezing and you can build goodwill. You can accomplish anything. Stop trying to be warm because it won’t work. Go to the Church of Freezing and get born again into the world where you don’t have to avoid being who you are. You are cold! Be cold! You are tired! Be tired! Stop trying to escape into those places you cannot go called warmth and fulfillment.

My tab has decided to work now. The computer does not want to join the Church of Freezing. But every time it decides to freeze up, I will not become angry with it because all it wants to do is worship the cold as I do. I understand. It wants to be itself and only through the cold can it become fully itself.

At the Church of Freezing, you can learn to accept who you are. Your body has wanted to be cold for so long, and you have fought it for so long, but your body is wrong! For the first time, I understand the needs of people like Luther. When his body wanted pleasure, he was denying the body experiencing pain, so he gave his body pain. My body wants warmth, but in doing so denies experiencing cold, so I’m giving my body back its cold.

And this season is the high one for the Church of Freezing! It’s a time of celebration, of worship! Sit out in the cold and become ONE with it!

The Church of Tired works the same way. I was lying in bed, not wanting to get up and write or work because I was cold and tired and the bed offered warmth and relaxation. But in order to take the warmth and relaxation, I had to give up writing and working. I also had to give up cold and tired. I do not want to give these things up! Instead, I will ignore warmth and relaxation. So in a way, I’m denying them, but they are so demanding! They want my attention all the time. They do not need to have my attention 100% of the time. They are not my children. They are demanding, forceful little brats who need more than I can give them. Give back to the Church of Freezing and the Church of Tired and you will reach salvation.

Taking a warm shower for a member of the Church of Freezing is like a hedonistic orgy for a Christian. At first the CoF member feels immense pleasure. Their body tingles with delight. They bask in the sheer delight of it. However, after a while, the CoF member realizes that the pleasure is too much. It’s not as caressing, it’s not as full, it’s not as warm anymore. In fact, it is too hot! Beware, Members, of the powerful call of the shower and warm water in general. It is to be avoided at all costs! Failure to adhere to this decree will result in a level of sickness and guilt like no other. Do not do it, I beseech thee!