Monday, August 31, 2009

Long Ass Rant: Homebirth and Quiverfull

For all that I'd just as soon leave the home birth itself out of the discussion, there's no getting around it. In the past year and a half I've come to see my grandmother as a cult leader. What I would like to forget is that she was a homebirth cult leader, and so I think I should clarify my position (as it stands today) here. First, yes - birth is a "miracle". It's also a) gross and b) common. It's a miracle that happens all day every day, and is really only significant to the people involved and their loved ones. (Sorry, I think my kid's special too, but let's not use the word "miracle" lightly, shall we?)

I had these concepts figured out at an early age, because I had such a high exposure to birth - much more than most people. I have to think that the average person really only attends so many births in their life - their own, their children, possibly grandchildren or the children of a very close friend or sibling. I saw strangers give birth, women who I hadn't met till they were already in the active stages of their labor. Birth feels exceptional, because it is really freaking cool to see a new person (or kitten or puppy) come out into the world for the first time ever. But babies somewhere have been born in the time I've been writing this post. (And the time between writing this and posting it. And between when I posted it and you read it.) So I think de-mythologyzing birth might be helpful.

Pregnancy is a medical condition. Stop going on about your "wonderfully made" natural body, okay? God didn't knit your womb together and it might have problems (especially if the other women in your family did).

Obviously a certain level of infant mortality at home and in hospitals is going to happen, especially in cases where a woman chose not to abort a fetus showing signs of developmental problems (which is, and should be, her right) or the child is born preterm (between 24 and 34 weeks gestation). But is home birth just as safe as hospital birth? Well, in large part that can be measured by how closely the homebirth resembles a hospital birth. If the mother receives proper prenatal, ultrasounds, tests for protein in the urine, rh-negative blood type, and every other thing imaginable that they can get from a little blood and urine.

It was at one of these prenatal visits that I found out I'm a carrier for cystic fiborsis (a very not-fun genetic disorder). Because I found out before my son was born, I was able to get my ex-husband's blood tested also, to see what our chances were of having a seriously sick child from Day One. He came back negative, so my son is fine. He might be a carrier like I am - I'll recommend he gets tested before knocking anybody up. The point is, if Little Man had been sick, the prenatal exams would have helped me find out and prepare in advance. In the three days that I waited for the lab results to come back, I learned a lot about CF. If Little Man had been born with that condition, I could have prepared.

Another measure of birth safety is the availability of proper medical equipment. If your midwife doesn't know how to stitch a perinea l tear, you might be SOL. In my personal hierarchy of "awesome" to "deadly" births, I'd rank things thusly:
  1. Hospital birth following extensive prenatal care
  2. Birthing center birth following extensive prenatal care
  3. Hospital birth without extensive prenatal care
  4. At-home birth with medically trained professionals*, following extensive prenatal care
  5. At-home midwife birth without extensive prenatal care
  6. Unassisted childbirth following extensive prenatal care
  7. Unassisted childbirth without extensive prenatal care
*One important note - Your doula is not a midwife. She is a cheerleader, not a medical professional. You can have her there if you want her, by all means, but don't stop at a doula.

The safest birth you can have starts one year before the woman is even pregnant, when she's eating right, sleeping right, and not smoking cigarettes. Then she gets pregnant, and is able to provide good nutrition during pregnancy. The woman in her family have fairly uncomplicated pregnancies and labors. She learns she is pregnant often, goes to all of her prenatal exams, and attends birth and parenting classes with her partner. She suffers few of the side effects most pregnant woman experience, from morning sickness to pre-eclampsia, and continues to exercise and eat well (but more). She writes up a birth plan and discusses with her doctor when certain medical interventions may be used, well in advance of her due date. She goes to the hospital during early labor, and spends active labor and delivery there. She is surrounded by trained medical professionals and top-of-the-line life saving equipment. The baby is born, cleaned, examined for health, and given to the new mommy to hold and nurse.

The closest you can get your birth experience to that one, the fewest complications you'll have.

Now, does someone wanna please fix the Wikipedia article on Home Birth? I can't personally stomach it, but the thing is so damn biased. I'm sorry but the freebirthers are no better than the anti-vax crowd, and they need to have a damn bright spotlight shone on them. I say this with several family members who have chosen unassisted homebirth over the years, including within the last decade. I say this with several family members - both mothers and their children - were in mortal danger or at least appeared to be for some time during their labors. Three of the babies were born in meconium (fetal poop), and since they weren't born in a hospital, nothing was done to expel any meconium the babies may have swallowed in the womb. (Meconium is much more likely to be an issue in a pregnancy that extends past 40 weeks gestation. While I'm not a fan of elective cessarians, most women undergoing prenatal care with the supervision of a licensed OB/GYN will not have this particular threat to their babies' health. At a certain point, around 41 weeks usually, the doctor will recommend inducing labor chemically, using Pitocin.)

These were also days-long labors that had a serious toll on the mothers. My own labor with Little Man was 98 hours (4 days) and I can't even put into words how tired I was, and how unable to care for an infant. I really needed the two days after that I got to spend in the hospital, pushing my Magic Button and saying, "I'd like an apple juice and a Percocet, and can someone change my baby's diaper?" I think every mom deserves that (hell, I think it should've been a week but that time is long gone now). When women birth at home, they don't get the same level of aftercare. The most devoted husband in the world can't compare with a round-the-clock staff of nurses and doctors, as well as a nursery to care for the baby between feedings. Out of the desire for a comfortable birth experience, they have what is, in my opinion, a much less comfortable recovery. (Percocet is seriously great stuff if you've just gone through the trauma and the horror that is live birth.)

So in a nutshell, I think hospital births are safer, for mothers and infants. I think if your mother had a rough labor, you should seriously consider (read: DO) giving birth in a hospital. And if your wife, girlfriend, sister starts telling you that her body was "designed for birth" and that labor and delivery are "totally natural" and that she wants to "trust her body" - tell her to get her ass to a hospital. Or at least to some good skeptical resources.

Like these:

From the CDC - Notes on the Indiana Pre and Peri-natal Mortality

Kathryn Joyce wrote a book on the subject of my grandma's kind of people "Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement"

Here's a podcast she did on Brazilian Waxes, Condom Lies, and Quiverfull.

From Newsweek - Extreme Motherhood by Katheryn Joyce.
or you can read a commentary on this article at End Hereditary Religion.

The comments alone make this Feministing post worth checking out.

I highly recomend you read the blog No Longer Qivering (there's no "you" in quivering") especially this post.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday School - DELAYED

It's possible I'll be shifting this to Mondays (tomorrow instead of today for sure). Now that Little Man is in school Monday through Friday, I can't break away from playing with him long enough to do a thorough post. And frankly, I don't want to.

He's not yet 4 and he can do magic tricks :)

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Cults Can Be Funny

Today I wanna talk about one of my favorite topics - Cults. Now I know most of you probably have hobbies that are entertaining, or physically exhausting, or mentally stimulating. I have a hobby that's suicidally depressing. But important.

One way I deal with the the compassion fatigue or emotional overload that comes from reading tol many cult survivor stories in one sitting is with the lulz. This video, while being totally instructive and accurate, cracks me up in a dark humor kind of way. (I still think Angela's Ashes is funny and has a happy ending. My family saw the movie based on my impression, and now they think I'm twisted and weird.) So, with that kind of a endorsement, watch and enjoy!

I may have posted that before - I don't care. It's a good video. Seriously, of all the cult checklists and papers and testimonies I've read, this is the best, simplest Cult 101 explanation I've seen. I showed this video to a Christian cult escapee who was staying with me for a while this summer. I was trying to let her know that what happened to her happens to lots, yadda yadda. I think it just freaked her out that I know how to start a cult.

But really, starting your own cult is easy. Just look at the five simple steps in this eHow article. (I don't know if it will happen for you also, but when I pulled up that page a giant flash $cientology ad came up under the checklist, lol.)

Phil Milstein has a more thorough (and delightfully snarky) six steps in his piece "How to Become a Cult Guru or, You Too Can Induce Mass Suicide." Some pearls of wisdom from it include:
Remember that everyone you meet is, deep inside, like a scrawny branch wavering in the stiff wind of life, just waiting for a big tree to sprout up alongside and protect them. Be that tree...
And on why laundromats are an awesome place to collect new recruits:
Down at the local suds parlor you'll find oodles of brain-dead scum, just sitting around twiddling their thumbs and spitting pumpkin seeds. Perfect cult fodder.

Heartwarming, no? Although I'm pretty sure around here sunflower seeds are a lot more popular than pumpkin, I'm sure the principle still applies.

This post that made me wanna ROFL or at least PMP (pee my pants - come on people, it could catch on). It's 5 steps to starting your own $cientology off shoot denomination.

So remember folks, whatever your cause or passion is, while it's important to stay dedicated towards positive actions and efforts, and while promotion awareness and legislation and social protests (I mean marches dumbass - leave your assault rifle in the armory at home), it's okay to laugh, too. I know cults are awful. I know good people do terrible things and have terrible things done to them. But laughing can be a really effective coping mechanism, and it's served me well through many trials and tragedies, so I'm gonna keeping LOLing over here, even about the serious stuff like cults, and I'd love it if you joined me in the merry making.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Seek and Ye Shall Find

I was six years old and I really, really had to pee. My sister and I used to ride our bikes to the church about a half mile away from home, to sit on top of the big brick sign and eat kumquats stolen from a neighbor's tree and smuggled in our handle bar fanny packs.

I told my sister about my need, and we walked up the church to use their bathroom. The door was locked. I started to sing, and Esther joined in with me. "Knock and the door shall be opened unto you, Alleluia." We walked all around the church, singing this and trying out different doors, knocking (and trying very hard to hold it). Finally, as we circled back around to the front, a red-headed boy only a year or so older than I stuck his head out the front door and demanded, "What the heck you singing for?" I told him that I was praying, because I needed a bathroom so I could pee, and I didn't think I could hold it to bike all the way home.

He slammed the door close. My sister and I got our bikes and headed home, where I was finally able to relieve myself. I don't know what the story never bugged me as a kid - either that I was so deluded (and impractical because clearly I was able to make it all the way home and walking around singing took valuable time), or that God so clearly did not keep his end of the bargain. I mean, if you believe in the God who has a covenant with mankind and has made certain promises (and is omnibenevolent, sinless, perfect, and never lies or makes mistakes) shouldn't it bug you when he doesn't actually move mountains in response to your faith?

On a side note, I had a card of this picture of Jesus knocking on "the door of our hearts" (ventricles?) when I was a little girl and I remember sitting in my room, staring at this picture for hours, feeling so much love for Jesus. My parents never told me about Santa Clause, because my grandmother didn't want anyone else getting credit and because my mom didn't want to lie to us. But I think I can relate to how the kid must feel when he learns that Santa isn't real.

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Regina's Shoes

Gig drove like a madwoman. She was always running late and always speeding behind the wheel. Every other driver on the road was an inconvenience in her path, long before the term "road rage" had been coined. She would be incensed if another car cut her off. "Don't get in front of me and then drive slow!" she'd bellow. Without the choice of secular swear words, she would instead yell entire sentences and DOT laws out the car window. "In the state of Florida you can turn right on red unless otherwise marked!" We grandkids thought this quality entertainment.

One day when I was 10 or 11, Gig's manuscript needed to be sent out within a few hours to meet the publisher's deadline. Running to the last minute as ever, we scrambled into the car. We were about halfway to the copy shop when we hit bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. So what did my Giggy do? She drove in the breakdown lane for over two miles and pulled into the Office Depot parking lot. We had been stuck behind a paper company semi before the off-roading-in-a-compact adventure. Half an hour later, with her freshly bound manuscript in hand, we were re-entering traffic. She pulled in just in front of that same semi.

Another time when I was maybe six years old we were on our way to pick my sister up from ballet practice when the old station wagon blew a tire on the interstate. Rather than pulling over and dealing with the implications and inconvenience, she kept driving, picked my sister up, and made the return trip home, driving on the wheel rim. Once the car was back in the driveway, Gig happily dumped the problem in my mother's lap and set about making dinner.

The worst of all these must have happened just a few months later. My older sister stayed home while my grandmother and I headed out to pick up my brother from soccer practice. It was dusk and she was flying down a residential street near my brother's school when Gig hit a pedestrian. The woman's name was Regina, I learned that night. She was blind and deaf and had wandered out the front door of her sister's house, wearing dark clothes. She died instantly from the impact.

I was sitting in the front seat when she flew onto the hood of the car, and her head smashed into the windshield, leaving a circular crack in the glass. We were too poor to get the window replaced, and I refused to ride in the front seat for the rest of the time we owned that car. Someone called the police and they came to investigate the scene of the accident. I was a bit overwhelmed by it all, and while Gig was talking to the officers I walked behind the car to get away from the sight of the dead woman's body. That's when I found Regina's feet - bloody lumps of meat, still wearing brown leather sandals. I don't remember what Regina's face looked like but I have never forgotten her feet. I don't know how fast Gig was driving - fast enough to tear a woman's legs out from her ankles and leave them twenty feet behind the car before slamming on the brakes. I still have a hard time seeing abandoned shoes on the side of the road.

At the time, no one thought I needed any therapy or help dealing with shock. It happened. Nothing we can do. Move on.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bang! My time at Steak N Shake

Even in areas completely unrelated to Gig and the Ministry, my life just seemed to be weirder and more intense than other people's. I was 19 and working as a server at Steak N Shake, living in a mobile home with my cousin Jason across the street from Giggy. My coworkers and I all got along, but the job sucked. The uniform was hot and unflattering (seriously - who looks good in a bow tie? I'm talking about you, Tucker Carlson.) and the tips generally averaged $1 a person, which on top of $2.13/hour meant I cracked right even at about minimum wage. I was halfway through an afternoon shift, wiping down a booth table when a sound like the crack of a gun went off behind me. Someone screamed and I tried to duck while spinning around to look at the same time, and fell. When I got back up I could see that it hadn't been a gun shot making that sound. There was a Cadillac in the middle of the dining room, halfway through the wall. A woman who was a regular at the diner was crushed between the car and her table. Customers were sent out, 911 was called, and the old man who had left his car in Drive instead of Reverse was found a chair and a glass of water.

I was desperate to get out of there. I don't remember if Regina* popped up in my mind consciously or not, but as it became more and clear that the paramedics were not going to save the woman, my chest weighed a ton and my heart was running a marathon. I didn't know whether to run or hide or just fall apart on the floor in a tangle of limbs and tears. The managers decided the staff should do the last thing I wanted to do. We stuck around and closed the place down. We washed and mopped and wrapped up the salad bar and the ice cream station, cleaned off the griddles and the fryers, and shut down an ordinarily 24/7 restaurant for it's first non-holiday closing since it had opened 10 years before.

After four hours of intermittent work and crying jags - and after the crushed woman was removed on a stretcher in a body bag - my bosses finally told me that I could go home. I went home that night, called my best friend Eden and headed over to her place by the beach. She had just started working some horrible timeshare telemarketing job and absolutely hated it.

"Chica, let's blow this town. I need some air. I need to remember that there's a whole world outside of this city."

That night we took off, and I never worked another shift at Steak N Shake again.

* Regina was a blind and deaf pedestrian my grandma struck and killed when I was seven - and riding shotgun. I'll post that story tomorrow.

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Sunday Wednesday School

Uh, this obviously isn't typical protocol, offering Sunday School on a Wednesday. But I am a totally oblivious person who got caught up playing logic puzzles (again people, I freely admit: I Am a GEEK.) So I just now found out about Ted Kennedy's passing. Rather than slapping something together from the limited knowledge of the man I have and his Wikipedia page, here are some thoughts from other atheist and liberal bloggers (who are more on top of things than I am.)

Simply Left Behind wrote an impassioned call to health care action as tribute to Teddy in The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Crooks and Liars has up a video of Ted Kennedy delivering a speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO.

Christy Hardin Smith at FireDogLake (Fire Dog Lake?) has awesome linkage to articles and videos detailing Kennedy's many achievements. Go read about it in Ted Kennedy: Healthcare "Has Been the Passion of My Life"

Skeptical Eye takes a different approach, and instead vents about how our media pays homage to politicians when they die in "Ok, so Ted Kennedy's Dead".

So there's your mission, should you choose to accept. This message will self-destruct in...

(Wait - what? Oh damn. Blogger won't allow my self-destruct over ride xml. Damn!)

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Well what do you want me to say? It was my fault?

I called my grandmother last night. She's in a nursing home with Alzheimer s. It really sucks to want to have the Big Confrontation, to be at that stage in your therapy and personal growth to really tell someone "You messed me up!" ...and they're senile.

But I'm learning to turn her Alzheimer's to my advantage. If I'm pleasant, and only talk about Little Man, for four or five 10-minute phone calls, then once a month I can really, really push her for information and what memories she has of her cult leader days. And then she forgets we talked about it the next time I call! As long as I'm pleasant again a few times, she doesn't raise up her defenses and I can get to some truth.

I wanted to know whether or not Harrison Johnson's death shook her, if it changed her position on faith healing. It changed mine. I've said before, I was raised in a faith healing cult, to become the next faith healer. I started laying hands on and praying for adults when I was in Kindergarten, and by the time I was seven I had a "miracle" under my belt. So from the time I was 12 till I was 16 I ran the cult's office. I put up the website, updated the blog, maintained the data base, managed the bills and payments, and sent out her newsletter and her books.

I was 14 when Harrison died (he was 2) and my faith in faith healing took a serious toll with his preventable death. I stopped believing in faith at all costs, and at scoffing at the medical system in a time of true emergency. I still thought vaccines were dangerous, that home birth was safer than hospital birth, and that you could pray away any number of ailments. But I thought people should know that they were allowed to go to the doctor if their child was going to die. Surely God didn't really want Harrison to die?

Me: When Harrison died - Kelly and Wylie's son - how did you feel about the whole situation?
Giggy: I was just glad it didn't have anything to do with me. I wasn't there. You know there was a lot of press about it, but I managed to stay out of it, so I was glad about that."
Me: But how did it make you feel about the medical system, and about faith healing?"

(She kept getting confused and thinking I was taking about an infant death or still birth. Then a nurse came in, and she had to take a pill. She called it a "vitamin" and shuddered, but it's the medicine she takes for Alzheimer's and an SSRI for her craziness. I managed to remind her who Harrison was.)

Me: Harrison. His parents were visiting at Van and Nicole's, where the HIZM office was. He fell and got stung by 400-some yellow jackets.

Giggy: That's right. He died from the trauma of all the toxins from, some kind of stinging animal, a bee or a wasp or something.

Me: If he'd been taken to a hospital, he would still be alive today. (He'd be 14.) But his parents stayed out of the medical system, which is what you believed, and he died. Did that change how you felt about praying for healing?

(She starts quoting an incorrect 20-years out of date statistic on home births being safer than hospital births.)

Me: This isn't about home birth vs. hospital birth. Harrison was 2 - he was already born. (exasperated) Do you still believe that going to a doctor is a sin?

Giggy: (shocked) I never said going to a doctor was a sin!

Me: You just told people that the alternative was absolutely evil and unacceptable.

Giggy: Well, what do you want me to say - that I'm sorry? That it was my fault?

Me: Well, yeah. Just a little - don't you think?

Giggy: I never told anyone not to go to a doctor. Now I personally don't go to doctors, but I don't tell anyone else what to do.

Me: Do you think not going to doctors is spiritually superior?

Giggy: I, I, I...

Me: Do you remember the woman in Australia? She hemorrhaged to death over three weeks during a home birth and left five kids without a mother.

Giggy: You seem to be awfully mad at me. I'm not gonna sit here and defend myself for things that happened twenty years ago.

(Defenses up - Further conversation is futile. Wrap up with pleasantries about Little Man.)

It was intense and shocking and hard and weird. I absolutely idolized this woman for years. She was my cult leader. You really can't get bigger in someone's eyes than that. Shoot, she was bigger than God. The grace we used to do at meal times was "Thank you Giggy, thank you God." Kind of sums her up, really.

And as I age and grow and learn, she becomes more and more a monster in my eyes. A woman who cares more about keeping her name out of the papers than she does about the needless death of a young boy. I feel like I was born trapped in vines. As I grew, the vines began to strangle me tighter and tighter. Finally, as I kept learning and growing and becoming more myself, one by one the vines snap and fall off me.

Faith healing in emergencies was the first to go. But my grandmother urged complete reliance on faith for twenty some years, during which time she didn't have so much as a cold. Once she was in pain, however, it all went out the window and she went in for the works - prescription eye glasses, prescription hearing aids, and a prosthetic hip. Hypocrisy, meet your match.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Atheist Association of Uganda

My Atheist Nexus friend Micheal from Uganda is a member of (and runs?) the Atheist Association of Uganda. Go show some love to the Ugandan atheists. They're trying to eliminate witchcraft and child sacrifice, which I think all of us can get behind.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday School 4

Sorry for the late post today. I'm unreasonably tired. So today let's tackle two completely unrelated topics that start with the same letter of the alphabet: Faith Healing and Food Art. (See, I told you they were unrelated.)

Faith Healing

Here's a great article by Dr. Stephen Barrett on Quackwatch"Some Thoughts About Faith Healing". Here's a few paragraphs about James Randi (faith buster extraordinaire).

Randi's most noteworthy experience was the unmasking of Peter Popoff, an evangelist who would call out the names of people in the audience and describe their ailments. Popoff said he received this information from God, but it was actually obtained by confederates who mingled with the audience before each performance. Pertinent data would be given to Popoff's wife, who would broadcast it from backstage to a tiny receiver in Popoff's ear. After recording one of Mrs. Popoff's radio transmissions, Randi exposed the deception on the Johnny Carson Show. First he played a videotape showing Popoff interacting with someone in the audience. Then he replayed the tape with Mrs. Popoff's voice audible to illustrate how Popoff used the information.

Randi also exposed the techniques used by evangelist W.V. Grant, who calls out people in the audience by name and describes their ailments. Grant obtains this information from letters people send him and by mingling with the audience before his show. To help his memory, he uses crib sheets and gets hand signals from associates who also use crib sheets. After one performance, Randi was able to retrieve a complete set from the trash Grant left behind! Following another performance, Randi found that some members of the audience had given false information about themselves, their ailments, and their medical care. For example, after "Dr. Jesus" had "put a new heart" into a man supposedly awaiting open-heart surgery, Randi found that the details (including the doctor and hospital named by Grant) could not be corroborated.

Grant's subjects typically are "slain in the spirit" and fall backward into the arms of his assistants. In 1986 I observed from a few feet away what happened when he encountered an elderly woman who did not wish to fall backward when he touched her forehead. Grant pushed his fingers into her neck so hard that she could not remain standing. I also watched him "lengthen" the leg of a man who limped up to the stage, supposedly because one of his legs was shorter than the other. The audience may have been impressed with this feat, but I was not. Before the show began, I noted that the man was one of Grant's assistants and walked normally.

For a visual, I offer WV Grant's contemporary and peer: Benny Hinn

Enough of the lulz. On the serious side of things, Dr. Seth Asser's article on Religious Child Abuse makes some excellent points, such as:
The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that while freedom of belief is protected, there is no right to freedom to act on those beliefs in a way that hurts others. Despite this and at the urging of Christian Science lobbyists, in 1974, the federal government mandated that states that receive child abuse prevention grants have laws that would exempt parents from the duty to provide medical care to ill children if they instead relied on "spiritual treatment."
Dr. Asser and Rita Swan together founded Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, Inc (CHILD). They're asking people to contact their senators regarding HR 911, which passed the House but is languishing in the Senate. HR 911 is the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act.
It sets limits on the use of physical and mechanical restraints and seclusion. It requires all staff to be familiar with the signs of and appropriate responses to heatstroke, dehydration, and hypothermia. It requires the program to have policies for the provision of emergency medical care. It requires that youths be allowed to make and receive phone calls with “as much privacy as possible” and be allowed to call the state hotline to report abuses. HR911 does not exempt church-run facilities from its requirements.
I'm going to make another petition (like the one in the side column - over there to your right. Yes, please go sign that one, too) and hopefully have it up later this week. And now, as promised, the completely unrelated - but awesome - food art.

I have a couple things to say about this picture.

1) It's a photograph, not a painting.
2) That's cabbage.

Here's another by the same artist, Carl Warner. You can buy his stuff here, if you have a couple hundred pounds (or more hundreds dollars.)

I've also got links from Kevin Van Aelst, who uses everyday objects to convey complicated concepts.

Like this picture of ABC gum made into the human digestive system.

Or this extremely cool apple globe.

He calls this one "Right Middle Finger" and that's really what it says to the server who's gotta clean that up, isn't it?

Or how about these chromosomes? So sour!

Definitely check out his site. (I couldn't fit the cellular mitosis Krispy Kreme photo series on here, but it's worth a peek.)

I'll have a more normal "yay atheist blog community" Sunday School next week. This week is all about preparing for Back to School, so I fully intend to slack-ass.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

My Sixty Kids

Between one and five children in the United States die every month from medical neglect for religious reasons. On average it's about fifty to sixty kids each year. In a country of over 3 million, some might not understand why I pick these sixty kids to fight for. (What does it say about "faith healing" that all the Google results are either about trials and deaths, or advertisements promising "Faith healing works!")

I was in the faith healing movement from the time I was born (at home, with no medical assistance) through my late teens. Only one child I personally knew died during that time. But I also know that for every child who is prayed to death represents a hundred more who do not get the basics in physical care. Kids that live with asthma and no inhaler, or diabetes with no insulin. Kids that break bones or get into bad cuts or scrapes. As long as government has one set of laws for most of us, and a different set of laws for those whose religious insanity requires their children to suffer, these sixty kids will die each year and hundreds more will suffer needless pain.

But even that's not the whole story. A doctor is someone in a position of authority who is not the person brainwashing you at home. Isolationism is a major component of a cult, and ours was no different. Our government finds it perfectly legal for parents to educate their children at home, and to deny them medical care if the stated reason is religious belief. So I was home-schooled for a time, home-churched for a while, home-healed for decades, and mentally home-bound. There was no outside, disinterested third-party, like a doctor or a teacher, able to discern that abuse was going on in my home, who would be bound by law and custom to report it to authorities.

I used to babysit little girls in the cult, five sisters. They were 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 years old - and even the oldest one couldn't read. They were being home-schooled by their parents, who had neither one graduated high school. Since they were so withdrawn from secular resources, not only did they not get a proper education (or any real education at all), they had no medical care. Add to that the fact that every one who knew them well enough to know what was going on agreed with them, and you have five girls out there who got a screwed-up start, at best.

When my brother reported our situation to HRS (now CPI) they did a slap-dash cursory investigation. No one had warned me that this was even going on. I got called to the principal's office from my second grade classroom at Riverhills Christian School. There was a police officer in Mr. Oppenheimer's office, and he asked me all sorts of questions. I had no idea what this was really supposed to be about, but when he asked me questions about Gig and how she treated David (horribly) I panicked and started confession to both my brother and sister shoplifting at the Circle K around the corner from our house (but left out my own thieving from the story). I told him my parents were good and fine and my brother was just disobedient. And without further investigation, they believed me, and we got no help. I was seven, my sister was nine, and my brother had just turned twelve. Once the "investigation' was over, my grandmother exacted revenge on David. Within two months my brother didn't live with us anymore. I don't know all the details of what went into that decision, from my mother's point of view, but I know she deeply regrets it now.

How can let someone tell you to give up your son? Why simple - follow a religion that claims that is the ultimate proof of God's love. Abraham and Isaac. God and Jesus. Killing your own child, or rather sacrificing your child, is presented as the greatest good in the Bible.
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.[c] 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (emphasis mine)
Not only does this favorite evangelical passage praise God's "love" for us because he killed/allowed to be kiled/sent to be killed his son, it also confirms where the Bible says atheists are going. (Sorry compassionate Christians, but your Bible says we're condemned already.)

Don't let more kids remain isolated and ignorant. Indoctrination works best when there's no opposing views to counter. Even something as simple as an annual visit to the doctor for a physical would give these times some time with the kind of aduklt who doesn't beleive in magic faith healoing and who knows what numerous bruises are likely to indicate. Please sign my petition to get religious exemption language removed from the HR 3200 health care bill. Because sixty kids dying of witchcraft superstition in America in the 21st century is intolerable.

Dr. Stephen Barrett has excellent follow-up reading: Some Thoughts About Faith Healing.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting a Bit Worried

My favorite moment is at the very end when it sounds like the camera guy lets out an unintended laugh.

Seriously though? This shit is scary. I grew up in a cult, and I have to tell you that what I've been seeing in these town halls reminds me of my childhood. I'm gonna review the full meaning of a very important word today, as defined by Dale McGowan of Parenting Beyond Belief.

1) Shut out opposing views
2) Demand unquestioning acceptance

The town hall nuts are certainly shutting out opposing views - as they've been instructed to by the corporate front group "grassroots organizations" that have indoctrinated them. When you equate someone (Obama) with Hitler (or any other particularly vile excrement of the human species) you make it impossible for the dissenters to listen to the other side. This woman is accusing Jewish Rep. Barney Frank of supporting a Nazi policy. This is outrageous behavior!

These people are victims of a system that is exploiting them and profitting off of them. It's really quite disgusting and absolutely immoral (not that I'm claiming absolute morality - I'm just sayin'). See - the reason people are behaving so nonsensically is because their heads have been filled with really scary nonsense. Which is why they are arming themselves.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Gun Show - Barrel Fever
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealthcare Protests

That guy with the sidearm strapped to his hip interviewing the assault-rifle toting African American? (See? Now FOX can say that none of the protesters are there because of race.) That guy is ___ an internet conservative radio host, and he organizaed the Arizona "let's all bring guns to see the President" stunt. Rachel Maddow reports.

Talking Points Memo (yeah, yeah, I'm liberal, but what am I supposed to read - FOX News?) has a really good write-up and more information than I personally feel like researching on the Viper Militia. But, um, Waco-deniers? Shit how many right wing conspiracy theories ARE there?

Oh. People are scared of LOTS of things. Okay, first I have to say I felt dirty just writing that list. *shudder* Why are people so crazy?

On an only marginally-related note, please sign my petition to get the religious exemption language removed from HR 3200. This can be one crucial step towards removing the religious right to deprive children of life saving medical intervention.

The government doesn't tell us how to raise our kids, but it does tell us that physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect are unacceptable. Medical neglect should be treated the same. (We don't allow a religious exemption to beat your kids.)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

100 Questions: Update (again)

So, I'm lazy today. Go here to see the first 40 questions.

Today's new questions for Christians:
  • Why not water into scotch? Or bourbon? Or beer?

  • How can God possibly be cool if Sinead O'Connor doesn't like him? (Or at least not his Pope.)

Okay guys, I'm spraining my brain here. I'm looking for funny, original, serious, whatever. Just not the same questions that the Christians have been asked so many times before they can Google a quick apologetic.

Please help me out, as I came up with the seven new ones for this week myself. If you like my blog, show me some love and post this in *your* blog. I really think it would be awesome to get a full list of 100 Creative and New Questions for Christians.

Think how many new and interesting debates we could have before they came up with rote answers for all of them?

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Time to be a Stubborn Jackass

First, again, Congressman Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) Got Balls. It was awesome the first time, when he got Repubs to put their money where their mouths are on health care. Now it's the Dems he's keeping in line, telling the administration he can get 100 liberal democrats in the House to refuse to vote for any bill that does not include the public option.

And he's kind of cute, too? I mean, in that liberal hardliner kind of way. Mmm! I just sent him an email essentially telling him that if he runs for POTUS in 2016, he's got my vote (and since I'm an Independent voter in a swing state with 10% of the electoral votes needed for victory, my vote actually is worth more than yours! Or at least it's chased more aggressively.)

He's not the only one. Look here at the letter signed by sixty House Democrats. Just bask for a moment in glee with me for a second, before I tell you that there's more work to be done.

Because "Democrats" in the Senate? Need to be spoken to. By you, their constituents. Now I called my Senators' offices yesterday and it took about five minutes. Won't you do the same? And hey, you can call more than once. All they asked was my opinion and my zip code, so I'll probably be calling again. I posted this yesterday but here again is where you can find your Senators' contact information.

Do you wanna ask the Commander in Cheif what the heck is really going on with health care? Join me and others for a National Health Forum (online town hall) 2:30 pm Thursday August 20th.

Remember folks, if we don't pass a public option 47 million Americans will be uninsured. But not these guys.

They have sign kits on their site, and ask that you send in photos of yourself dressed in finery, protecting the economic interests of the rich at your local town hall :) I do loves me some irony, and street theater is always good fun. (Doesn't YouTube just totally change running around with a camera and your friends acting like a dork?)

Greta Christina puts a face on this issue, and provides all the contact information you need to get ahold of literally everyone responsible for this. I borrowed some of her code to give you all this:

Contact info for the White House:
202/456-1111 (line may be busy, try emailing)
Email the White House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Email Speaker Pelosi

Here's the main Congressional switchboard number:
(202) 224-3121
And here's the Congressional directory.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Daily Dose of Health Care

Ahem, it's come to my attention that spelling it "healthcare" is incorrect. So, from now on I'll type it correctly, but I am definitely not editing my old posts for something so minor.

On to the medicine. I spent a whopping five minutes out of my day calling both my Senators and letting them know I support a public option on health care. I also told the receptionist for one senator of my own experience without health care and said, "We need a public option." She said, "Yes ma'am. I'll be sure to let the Senator know."

Maybe that "Yes" was just a conversational sign of sympathy for my situation or maybe it was an indication that my Mel Martinez is gonna do the right thing on this one. I don't know. But it took less than five minutes and it goes in the "Yes" column that every Senate office keeps of how their constituents feel.

Go here to find contact information for your Representatives and Senators. Right now the health care reform bill is having the biggest challenge in the Senate. I never promised not to be political on this blog, but honestly, this is a human life issue. Either you care if people die or you don't. Either you care if people are suffering or you don't. You don't get to say "The health care system is fine the way it is" and expect to be treated with respect by the adults in the room. You certainly won't get any respect by comparing our mandate-elected Constitutionally-legal President to the Fuhrer of Germany. That is disgusting, hateful, and vile and you full well know it.

Remote Access Medical facilities were designed to provide quick and dirty medical care in third world countries. The doctors and medical volunteers behind this great organization are having to spend their time more and more on US soil treating uninsured and under insured tax-paying employed non-illegal alien Americans. (You can donate to their work around the world by clicking the name RAM.)

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Racism, Violence, and the Bible

With a title like that, you probably think I'm going to reference some KJV or lay some Old Testament on ya, right? Nope. It's just a pretty good summary of last night's Worst Persons in the World.

Keith goes futher making my ahteist heart flutter with this story on Minnesota Insane Representative Michelle Bachman. She recently told World Net Daily that "

Here's Keith's response.

The best part is this "hearing from god is laughable" meme is that it's been picked up elsewhere. Talking Points Memo covers the Bachman quote, and another quote where she talks about fasting and praying in preparation to run for Congress. Wonkette the DC gossip blogger mocks the voice of God as well. Minnesota local blogger Emily Keiser offers up her thoughts, as well (along with a subtle Michelle Bachman political cartoon).

I love this CNN reporter. I don't even know the man's name but after this interview I wanna buy him flowers. EDIT: His name is Rick Sanchez and instead of flowers, why don't drop him a line at his blog?

Apparently Rachel's got a problem with teabaggers/ birthers/ deathers et al being covered as a spontaneous uprising in the media.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Why I Want Government to Take Over my Health Care

I was raised in a faith-healing cult. Because the government doesn't intrude on religious belief "or the free expression thereof" my family was permitted to deny me health care until I reached 17 years of age (even though I was covered through my mom's employer health benefits for the last half of that time).

I worked several part-time and full-time jobs over the years. In fact, until this past February I have been steadily employed my entire life since I was 7 and got my first job at a florist shop. I have never had employer health insurance coverage, unless you count the Worker's Compensation I had to use when I tore my right rotator cuff in a slip and fall.

I've also used health insurance after a couple of car accidents I've been in. My sister and I got rear-ended when she was newly licensed, and although I didn't get pain medication or see a real doctor, I went to a chiropractor. When my brother and I got rear-ended a few years later I got more chiropractic, but I also got physical therapy. When I was 17 my mom finally took me to an orthopedic surgeon to deal with my limp. My right hip had been dislocated near-constantly for three years. I went through multiple rounds of physical therapy and surgery was considered.

When I was pregnant I had Medicaid (government run health care!) and got the most comprehensive treatment I have had at any point in time. Does the paperwork suck? Yes. Is it a battle sometimes to enroll in the first place, and to keep coverage over time? Absolutely. Medicaid is not designed to be a lifelong solution, and the health insurance companies serve as HMOs within Medicaid so that can bog things down as well. But when my son went into fetal shock, I didn't have to consider the price tag of going to the ER.

I didn't have health insurance a few weeks after Little Man was born, when I broke my ankle. I waited a few hours in the ER waiting room, but it was going to be hours more before they'd see me, as I hadn't been shot or stabbed. My ex-husband was a whiny prick, and my infant son was surrounded by sick people. The stupid wheelchair I was sitting in was so confined I couldn't nurse my son while in it. I gave in to my feckless husband's nagging and we went home. I never did get a cast for it, and my family knew and watched as I left my husband, moved in with my mother, and cared for my sickly infant son, hobbling on a broken ankle. And they did nothing to help.

A few weeks after that a boil on my stomach just wouldn't go away, and my home lancing attempt was unsuccessful. I persuaded (begged, sobbed, cried) my mom to loan me the $500 to go to the walk-in clinic and have it lanced. Apparently I'd had flesh eating bacteria for over a month. I would hold my son against me to nurse him, against the same stomach that was infected with flesh-eating bacteria. Because I didnt have insurance, and I was already trying to save up money to get my ankle taken care of, I waited a month, until I was in so much pain I couldn't hold my son, to see a doctor. They lanced it - it was disgusting. I sobbingly told the nurse that I had no insurance and no money for medication, and she smuggled me a 2 weeks supply of antibiotics and wrote me a script for vicodin to handle the pain from my ankle.

And even since then, while I don't have insurance my son is still covered, Knowing that I *can* take him to a doctor when he needs it is a tremendous relief. Since he has insurance, I can also keep up with routine check-ups and other preventative measures. Also, because he's enrolled in Medicaid and because I pay attention, I was able to get my son's hearing checked when he was 11 months old and showed signs of being deaf. (He was completely non-responsive to verbal and auditory cues, like clapping or whistling.)

Two separate tests (which yes, took time to schedule, these were specialists) ruled out any hearing problems, and instead we were able to learn that my son had other developmental and communication delays. As a result of early preventative care and testing, my son has been receiving speech therapy since he was a year old, and from one to three also had an "early interventionist" who came by our home or his school to help with him with things like emotional self-soothing and increasing his attention span (first tested at less than a second). All of these special needs services were covered under something called Medicaid- Part D, which has separate funds and more specialists and treatment options available, for children who need it the most.

Except for a few catastrophes were I was lucky enough to have health insurance through Worker's Comp and auto liability, and the government-run health care program known as Medicaid, I've lived without health care my whole life. I *want* government run health care! Please, because right now I'm screwed. I can't believe people are trying to stop this, are saying "Screw you, I got mine". Crying "socialism" and "death panel". The insurance company that drops a cancer patient because they've determined the tumor was a "pre-existing condition" is a death panel. The insurance companies that screw over patients every way they can to make profits, and then want a bailout of public tax dollars when things get hard? They are the socialists.

Tell Pres. Obama you support his health care proposal - spelled out here. The more support the White House and Dems in Congress know they have for a public option, the harder they'll fight for us. Right now the loudest voices are from screaming mobs. Don't let the reasonable voice be drowned out of the debate.

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Glenn Beck Freaks Out - Punk Remix

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Aiding and Abetting

I just talked with a young friend of mine, and gave her the number to the local not-for-profit abortion clinic. I don't even know whether or not to post an abortion topic because it'll just draw all the trolls out like chum for the sharks. And yet.

I've never had an abortion. By the time I found out I was pregnant with my son I was already past 24 weeks. Also, I have always wanted a son, and was told at an early age I'd never have children. I love my son completely, but I won't require any other woman to complete a pregnancy or raise a child. Just because some of us rise to the challenge, and have the requisite tools (mentally, personality-wise, community resources, friends, family, and finances) it does not mean that every unplanned pregnancy must be carried to term.

I'm with Obama on that the goal should be reducing unplanned pregnancies. Birth control, condoms, latex-free condoms, female condoms, sponges, spermicides, and foams, oh my! Can't remember to take a pill everyday? Get a patch once a week. Or a ring once a month. Or a shot once every three months. Hormonal birth control drives you crazy? Look into physical barriers like condoms. Or, my personal favorite, the 12-year non-hormonal IUD. It is the perfect birth control for the lazy, the crazy, or the one-night-standy (but in that case, you should double up with condoms also). Also, you don't have to worry about a fundagelical pharmacist refusing to fill your prescription. Tired of birth control always being the woman's issue? Have your guy get a vasectomy. Just prevent unwanted pregnancy while you're getting your happy, groovy freak on.

Abortions are legal and they should be. This girl is 18 years old, with more than one mental disorder diagnosis, a physically abusive father (he's a preacher), a physically abusive mother, a brother in jail for raping her (trial upcoming), and a boyfriend who just went away for a very long time. She periodically attempts to kill herself through drug overdose. She starts her senior year of high school next week. She has so many problems, and she's just starting to address them. She has a lot of healing and growing up to do before she should even think of having children. She's my friend and I care about her, but I think she would be a terrible mother at this point, regardless of her good intentions or emotions.

She called a "pregnancy and abortion info" number. She was trying to find out where she could schedule a procedure, but they told her she had to come in for counseling before they would give her the number of a clinic. "We want to talk you out of it first." Without knowing her or anything about her situation, her physical and quite serious mental problems, these people were going to advise her on the what could the biggest decision of her life? I took her in for over a month earlier this summer when she was hiding from her abusive, pastor father, immediately after her brother raped her. That doesn't give me ownership or a vote over what she does with her body, but it gives me a proven track record as being someone who actually cares about HER as a person, not as a vessel for someone else to be born of.

So, fundy trolls, tell me how evil I am and how your god says I should suffer. But first, please show me one single verse in the bible that actually says god doesn't like abortion. It's not in there, but god ordering abortion and infanticide is. So back off. Abortion is legal - we won. Get over it. And stop with the bloody violence.

And if you're pro-choice, really be pro-choice. Don't judge a friend if she makes a choice you wouldn't. Fight for poor womens' access to birth control and abortions, and volunteer your time or money to your local abortion clinic.

Planned is a pretty good place to start.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rantings of a Crazy Woman

No, not me, someone even crazier.

Today I take on a chunk of the truly insane. This is the Big One, what all my Chats with Mormons, Sarah Palin speech interpretation, and Worldwide Church of God deunkings were building up to. Today, I take on: My Grandmother. (That's supposed to be read aloud with the voice of doom sound effect and thunder crashing in the background.) So, let's see what "Giggy" wrote in a book on faith healing.
There exist currently on this planet earth two separate realms. "Alongside worlds", to use a science fiction term, which occupy the same space at the same time, without really touching. These realms are the Kingdom of God and the World System. They are totally different - different rulers, different laws, different goals and different destinations - yet without the Spirit of God we can't tell them apart.

First, there's the sheer making-assertions-without-backup. This will continue throughout the passage. It went on my whole childhood, after all. Also, how does something occupy the same space and time without touching? And seriously, who uses science fiction to make their bullshit supernatural claims seems more credible? Isn't it convenient that the voice in her head, er "Spirit of God", is the one that helps you see this invisible magic world? (Growing up with a magic world hurt my brain.)
They are in constant warfare for dominion over the earth and its inhabitants, even though the outcome of this warfare is already determined and the leaders of both sides know it. The most important decision any human can make concerns which realm he will inhabit.
The most important, eh? Well, yeah maybe I see your point. After all, whether you choose to live in reality or la-la land can make a big difference in the quality of your life. (I choose reality!) Also, Gig loved to throw in Armageddon threats whenever possible. Nothing like creating a sense of fear and urgency to get people to shut down their critical thinking skills (which may be why End Times memes are so popular).

Let's review: There are two worlds, but one is invisible and unless you have the exact God she has (more on the exclusivity of her particular branch later) you can't even tell the second world exists. Also, the two worlds are at war (oooh, sense of drama!) but don't worry, the guy on her side is gonna win. Oh, but you'd better choose quickly, because whether you'll live in this world (the real one) or the invisible, indistinguishable-to-anyone-else other world, is the most important choice you'll ever make. Right.
Which ruler will he yield to? Whose laws will he obey?
Is she talking about physical laws or civil/criminal ones? Both! Anyone who believes in miracles believes to some degree that the laws of physics just stop working sometimes, and she is no exception. (Heck, she she might even be the rule.) And when you fill your followers with fear (fucking alliteration) you encourage distrust and violence toward secular entities. Kind of like what we're seeing in the health care debate with people thinking the government is out to kill them. Those people are scared enough to do something really regrettable.
And when the two realms separate, as they will someday, which destiny will he share?
So the two worlds (which are sharing the same time and space but not touching) will separate, and they have destinies? Assertions hidden in the form of a question - smooth moves Grandma!
The Bible was full of it: two realms, a veil between. Within an hour or so (of coming up with this crackpot worldview), we had this outline:
  • Sight
  • Temporal
  • Things seen
  • Flesh
  • Matter
  • The curse (Pretty sure the curse/ fall of man was *supernaturally* caused)
  • Sinful nature (Again, if God gave Adam's descendants a sinful nature, it wasn't in their physical bodies)
  • Heaviness
  • Earthly
  • Mt. Sinai - law
  • Kingdom of darkness
  • Terrestrial
  • Sickness, diseases
  • Condemnation
  • Law of sin and death
  • Satan is god (Notice atheism didn't make the list! She loves dualism, so if there are more than two options, she ignores them.)
  • Hunger
  • Thirst
  • Born from below - Huh?
  • Burdens (help, charity)
  • Labor, striving
  • Deception
  • Dead works
  • Slavery
  • Tree of knowledge Carnal mind Sons of the bondmaid Guilt Death Foolishness Walking by sight The old nature Sorrow Defeat Sacrifice Field Destination: hell
  • (Freedom, beauty, poetry, compassion, advocacy, activism, love, hope, secular humanism, doing good for goodness' sake)
  • Faith (A vice, not a virtue)
  • Eternal (Nothing has ever been shown to be eternal.)
  • Things not seen (or real)
  • Spirit (see above)
  • Energy (Now hang on a minute, I'm pretty sure the physical world is made up of matter and energy. You can't go hijacking energy!)
  • The blessing
  • The righteousness of Christ (imaginary, unsupported assertion)
  • Freedom (in that "die to be born again" "take up my yoke" definition of freedom, which doesn't resemble true freedom in the slightest)
  • Robes of righteousness (yawn)
  • Garments of praise
  • Heavenly (never-ending and boring with a crappy guest list?)
  • Mt. Calvary - grace (hahahahahaha! Grace was the farthest thing from her doctrine. Oh boy *wipes tear*)
  • Kingdom of God's dear Son (so "dear" that daddy watched the mobs torture him to death. Ya know, so that *then* daddy could forgive them for being born with the sinful nature he gave them.)
  • Celestial Healing, health (the true crux of the matter, hidden in the middle)
  • Acceptance, adoption into family (read: isolation from the rest of the world)
  • Law of life in Christ Jesus
  • Jesus Christ is Lord
  • Fullness, satisfaction (She was so satisfied she ate half a gallon of ice cream for lunch every day of my childhood.)
  • Living water (imaginary, yadda yadda)
  • Born from above
  • Benefits, blessings (I like how "benefits" are spiritual. Can you tell my employer that I'd rather have the physical "realm" benefits package with my 401K?)
  • Rest
  • Truth, reality (*SNORT*)
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Dominion
  • Tree of Life
  • The mind of Christ (Can I keep it in a jar?)
  • Forgiveness
  • Abundant life (If you consider hiding out in a bomb shelter terrified of the world around you an "abundant" life, sure.)
  • Wisdom
  • Walking by faith (The bullet above this one is antithetical.)
  • Destination: heaven
Now see, I'd split the list in two very simple ways. Real World (everything that exists, including non-physical things like ideas and emotions) vs. Fantasy Land (crap someone made up using their imagination and/or mind altering substances). See? That wasn't hard. Also, Gig seems to be under the impression that making long lists is the same as making a reasoned argument. Also, I know using Bible verses never persuades atheists, but her audience for this ramble is entirely Christian. And none of her followers seemed to think this was a problem.
It was actually bigger than the World System vs. Kingdom of God. It was also flesh or spirit, sight or faith, temporal or eternal. The idea of two separate realms seemed to us an essential concept for understanding not only our walk with God, but the universe we inhabit.
An essential concept for your walk with god and understanding the universe we inhabit - wow. I guess Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawkings, and Carl Sagan have been doing it all wrong. They've been trying to understand the universe without this essential concept she came up with an hour ago.
Everybody on earth lives in one realm or the other. Christians have the choice of which realm they will inhabit.
No, grandma. Everyboy on earth lives in one realm (the real one), and not the other. You don't get to choose to inhabit another world - sorry.
Once we start looking at Scriptures with this concept in mind - that there are two along-side realms, separated by an uncrossable barrier - we see all kinds of illustrations.
Confirmation bias! And the uncrossable barrier is new. How can two things take up the same time, the same space, not touch, and have an uncrossable barrier between them?
In fact, the whole of the Old Testament is written in a language designed to handle such a concept. The Hebrew language with its inherent "parallelism" is perfect to deal with this. Parallelism is a fundamental element in Hebrew, especially in poetry written in that language. Most poetry in English is based in rhyme and meter; Hebrew poems are based in repetition. This style consists of saying what is essentially the same thing two different times, with slight alterations.
This may be the longest string of words that are not on their face factually inaccurate in the whole book. Also, I may be missing something. It's gotten to the point that if I realize I can't find one error in a sentence, I probably didn't look closely enough. (Again, Sarah Palin made *more sense* and had fewer outlandish claims in her gov. resignation speech.)
Very often this repetition of the same thought, with small differences, occurs not just because of the nature of the Hebrew language, but also because one iteration applies to the natural realm, the other to the spiritual
Okay, I know I said earlier that she was going to make unsupported assertions throughout, but this is a biggie. She's laying out here the supposed Scriptural basis for her entire worldview, as well as all the requirements of her followers that come out of this worldview. So, it's a really big deal that she doesn't actually have anything backing up her claim that the Old Testament writers were telling us about an invisible world (that shares time and space with this one, but doesn't touch it, and apparently is separated by an uncrossable barrier). She goes on to interpret several verses in light of this delusion.
God says something, for example: "For nation shall rise against nation..." and that can be interpreted to mean natural, geographic, political nations. Then He follows this with, "... and kingdom against kingdom..." (Matthew 24:7). Is He just repeating Himself, or is there a difference? Can it be that there is a spiritual interpretation here? Maybe He is saying that there will be natural wars and spiritual wars.
And maybe there's really a teapot circling Pluto. Notice that she suggestively uses questions (like the Demon Busters and Every Student) without actually encouraging the kinds of actions that would lead to finding out an answer (like research, asking questions, talking to someone, etc.) She just casts doubt on the normal method of reading that verse "nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom" and infers that there's more to it than the obvious.
The whole world will stand united against Israel; God's natural land and His natural children. We will see all of the world's systems, armies, governments, states and people fighting against the nation of Israel. And in the spirit realm there will be increasing war against the church. All the forces which are not flesh and blood, the principalities, powers, thrones and dominions, demons and fallen angels, will war against the saints. Israel represents God's natural children, "as the sand of the seashore"; and the church is His spiritual progeny, "as the stars of the sky." (Hebrews 11:12).
Now for this one I actually looked up the verse (because really, how many have there been in all this rambling?) According to KJV (see theists, I can so refrain from linking to Evil Bible, Skeptics Annotated Bible, and Brick Testament. I just don't like to) Hebrews 11:12 says,
Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
This is in reference to Sara (Abe's wife) having a son, and leading to Abe's many descendants. As in "There will be lots of them - like sand grains and stars!". Nothing about the sand being natural children and the stars being spiritual ones - they're all just descendants of Abraham, and the point is just "Gee, what a big number". So that giant "everyone vs. Israel" battle? Is all in her mind.
Two different realms, in parallel. Nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom. That is just one example of what I said about the Bible being full of passages which speak to the two different realms. Here a few more illustrations: "I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations." (Psalm 57:9). The people are the children of God, while the nations are the Gentiles. Two different realms.
Whatever you say, grandma. There really is no good "stopping point" because the whole book is one long, unedited ramble. I swear, she just sat down one day and typed everything straight through, from the table of contents to the last words (the mailing address of the cult's offices, so people could send money and order more books). Section titles listed in the table of contents don't actually appear anywhere else in the book. She just breezed through it, and it reads like the rantings of a crazy person.

How did I not know she was batshit for so long? I worked for this cult. I mailed this book to people, and I didn't feel any guilt at all because I didn't realize what toxic garbage it was. This is the woman who taught me how to read, and fold laundry, and tie my shoes. Honestly, I think I'm more confused than ever. I'm glad my mind is free now, but I don't know how I didn't see how completely insane she was years ago. She wrote this while I lived with her, while I was in second grade. She cooked me breakfast, and when I went to school, she wrote this garbage.

In recent days she's caused a bit of a ruckus at her assisted living facility/nursing home. She's started telling the other residents that they're being controlled by their medications and that they shouldn't take them. At least one poor old woman was convinced, and went off her meds for a minute there. Ah, crazy granny. If you weren't stirring shit up and convincing people not to take their pills, you wouldn't be the Giggy I know and love.

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