Monday, October 11, 2010

Omnipotent Lite

Honestly, I don’t think I ever worshiped an all-powerful god. Oh sure, I had faith and I believed, but fact of the matter was, there were times God didn’t protect us, no matter how faithfully we adhered to his word. Bad things happen to good people. Needless suffering – children being raped, abused, enslaved, or else starving to death – happens on such a grand scale it’s no wonder we do our best to block it out and not think about it. Of course, I can’t seem to do that.

The Problem of Pain has always, always, always been the seed of my doubt. I see that now. I wanted a god who was loving and awesome (in the old school sense) and kept his word. And hey, since my dad walked out on us before my earliest memories, I liked the idea of having a daddy who was always there looking out for me. But I didn’t think he was all-powerful.

I "knew" any number of demonic forces, generational curses, soul ties, unconfessed sins, etc (ad nauseum) could “shorten God’s arm” as my Giggy said, and could be a hindrance to Him, or could stop His blessing from being received. It’s funny, I think I had an answer to Euthyphro’s dilemma when I was six. God stopped as much evil as he could, and he was still more powerful than anyone or anything else, just not 100% powerful. In the black-and-white world of my grandmother's teachings, I had to make my god a little gray to deal with the cognitive dissonance.

Looking back, I don’t think I ever really did believe God was ALL powerful. Pretty powerful, sure. Creator of the universe? Absolutely. Infinite deity? You betcha. Capable of overcoming the logical paradoxes created by an omnibenevolent omnipresent omniscient and omnipotent god existing alongside observable reality? Nope.

My god was never that cool.

Brooklyn Museum - Mano Poderosa (The All-Powerful Hand), or Las Cinco Personas (The Five Persons) - Mexican - overall

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Is the Bible Reliable?

Today's counter-apologetic is brought to you by Matt Slick of CARM and by the letter Q.
One of the most important questions asked by non-Christians as they look into Christianity is whether or not the Bible is trustworthy. Can the Bible be trusted? If it has been corrupted, then we cannot trust what is attributed to Jesus' words and deeds. So, is the Bible reliable or not?
Corrupted is an interesting word choice. It’s funny, because Matt Slick here appears to be giving us only two options – the Bible is accurate, “uncorrupted” and trustworthy, or it is none of those things. He’s painting an either/or scenario. Either the Bible is the word of god or it isn’t – and if it isn’t, then it’s also apparently not trustworthy or reliable. Please keep this black-and-white either/or premise in mind as we continue. It will come into play later.
Yes, the Bible is reliable. The original writings of the Bible have been lost. But before they were lost, they were copied. These copies were incredibly accurate, very meticulous, and very precise. The people who copied them were extremely dedicated to God and their copying tasks. They took great care when copying the original manuscripts.
Tee-hee! I love the attempt at conflating two completely different things. The copying of the Bible may very well have been accurate or reliable, however (and this is important, kiddies) that does not mean the *content* of the Bible is reliable or accurate, just reliably and accurately copied from an original source *which we are supposed to trust without question.* See, the underlying implication is that because the Bible has been accurately copied (or at least, the New Testament hereafter referred to as NT), that means they are “right” with the suggestion there was some original “right” version of the Bible at one time, and that therefore accuracy *with that original* is the same as accuracy with *reality*.
This copying method is so exact, and so precise, that the New Testament alone is considered to be 99.5% textually pure. This means that of the 6000 Greek copies (the New Testament was written in Greek), and the additional 21,000 copies in other languages, there is only one half of 1% variation. Of this very slight number, the great majority of the variants are easily corrected by comparing them to other copies that don't have the "typos" or by simply reading the context. You should know that copying mistakes occur in such ways as word repetition, spelling, or a single word omission due to the copyist missing something when moving his eyes from one line to another. The variants are very minor.
Huh, so you mean the NT *has* been corrupted? I mean, .5% of it is NOT reliable or accurate! Going by Matt's opening black-and-white premise, I guess this means the whole book should be thrown out. I mean, it was either reliable and accurate and perfect, or it wasn't, right? (Apparently, the best God can do when inspiring a book to be written and copied, is to get 99.5% accuracy. Clearly 100% is too much to expect of the creator of *this* universe.)
Nothing affects doctrinal truth and the words and deeds of Christ are superbly reliably transmitted to us.
Handling snakes and drinking poison. These are doctrines (granted, not ones Matt himself follows) based *entirely* on Biblical forgery, which is knowingly copied by Bible translators today. Oh yes, the NIV includes the forgery and a little footnote at the bottom of the page saying "This is not from the original." Ah yes, the wonderfully accurate and reliable Word of God with no doctrinal truths affected by copying and scribe errors, right Matt? (Here's more on the doctrine and Christians who have died following this forged verse of Scripture.)

And hey, what’s so superbly reliably wonderful about non-eyewitnesses who never even met Jesus-the-man writing their thoughts down about him 40 years after his supposed execution? Matt, be less Slick and more honest. What you really mean here is “The words and deeds of Jesus, according to the original unknown Gospel authors, have been very well preserved and copied over time.” And hey, even if they were eyewitnesses (which they weren’t according to serious Biblical scholars and historians) that would not make their testimonies factually correct.

As a preteen, I had the job of typing up my grandmother’s diaries for posterity. Her letters are big narcissistic loops and her handwriting is worse than most doctors', but, with great accuracy, I was able to very often decipher the original meaning of a page. I’d then take my translation and type it up, thus accurately and reliably copying the words she had written. Does that make my grandmother’s diaries reliable in the way atheists *really* mean when we ask if the Bible is reliable? (Hint: No. It just means I was a damn good office assistant.) My grandmother was mentally ill, among other things, and her perception of events was not just colored or filtered through her beliefs, but sifted through them like flour. She wrote down events and details in the way she perceived to be true, but hey, I was alive during most of these events. I can compare her recollection with my own, or with newspapers and court records or the other people involved. I can see how well her writing matches up with reality, an option we don’t have as readily available when it comes to the anonymous Gospel authors (though we can and should still try.)
The science of studying ancient literature and its accuracy of transmission to is called historicity. The Bible is so exceedingly accurate in its transmission from the originals to the present copies, that if you compare it to any other ancient writing, the Bible is light years ahead in terms of number of manuscripts and accuracy. If the Bible were to be discredited as being unreliable, then it would be necessary to discard the writings of Homer, Plato, and Aristotle as also unreliable since they are far far less well preserved than the Bible.
Beautiful! Here the double-meanings of "reliable" come clearly into focus. I read Plato’s “Republic” in college, because it was assigned and I have a thing for A’s. There were parts I liked and parts I hated and at one point, I even chucked the book across the restaurant where I was studying because I was so furious. Finding out that the Republic was not copied with perfect accuracy over the centuries changes my feelings for that book not one jot or tittle, as Jesus would say (according to anonymous Gospel authors.) Hell, I don’t even care if it turns out Plato never existed and “his” ideas were really someone else’s. Because Plato’s not my god, and he never was. Homers writings are beautiful and epic, in the original sense of the word. But we don’t worship the gods in his stories anymore, so no one minds quite so much if the stories have shifted ever so slightly over time.

No one takes the writings of Homer, Plato and Aristotle as “gospel truth” and that’s the kicker. Little children aren't asked to take the Iliad into their hearts and turn their sins over to Zeus for forgiveness. Whether or not they are reliable, accurate copies and translations of the originals has *nothing* to do with whether the originals were factual or fictional. You can copy a lie all die long and no matter how accurately you copy the lie, that won’t make the lie truth.

Also, Matt Slick has shifted from claims that the New Testament was incredibly accurate to now claiming the entire Bible is more accurately copied than other ancient texts, but the OT doesn’t have the same “accuracy rating” as the NT and Matt Slick knows that. He’s just a deceptive little booger.
The Bible was written by those who were inspired by God, so it is accurate and true, and represents historical occurrences.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Your entire argument rests on an unsupported CLAIM that the authors of the Bible were inspired by God?! What a crock of rhetorical shit! Honestly Matt, I expected better of you (though I don’t know why I did – I have no good reason to.)

Also, please Matt, if the Bible is so historically accurate, why wasn’t there really a mass exodus of Israeli slaves from Egypt? Why is there no record of Jesus’ trial or execution amongst Roman court documents of the time? Why are their no contemporary extra-Biblical accounts of any of Jesus’ miracles or actions? Why didn’t anybody BUT the Gospel writers jot down when zombies started rising out of their graves and wondering the streets of Jerusalem? Oh yes, very historically accurate, uh huh. Pull the other one – it’s ticklish.
When we look at the New Testament we realize that it was written by those who either knew Jesus personally, or were under the direction of those who did. They wrote what they saw. They wrote about the resurrection of Christ. They recorded His miracles and His sayings.
Matt is either intentionally ignorant or consciously lying here. He certainly has access to the same information on Biblical authorship that I do (you’d think more so, as the head of the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry) and I know this is flat out BULLSHIT and I’m calling him out on it.

From the Iron Chariots Wiki titled “Overview of Early Christianity
On inspection, the four gospels that provide the core understanding of Jesus' life not only appear to have not been written by the apostles that are attributed to them, but they were misleadingly not written by any first-hand eyewitnesses of Jesus at all. They were all written many years after the purported life of Jesus by people who had never met him. In the case of John, as late as the early 2nd Century CE. The rest of the new testament is made up of parables by people like Paul of Tarsus and Luke the Evangelist, who, by their own admission, never met Jesus during his lifetime and never witnessed the events and miracles claimed in the gospels. As such, even within the context of the bible itself, there is no first-hand account of Jesus' existence.
From "Did Jesus Christ Really Live?" by Marshall J. Gauvin (circa 1922)
What, then, is the evidence that Jesus Christ lived in this world as a man? The authorities relied upon to prove the reality of Christ are the four Gospels of the New Testament--Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These Gospels, and these alone, tell the story of his life. Now we know absolutely nothing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, apart from what is said of them in the Gospels. Moreover, the Gospels themselves do not claim to have been written by these men. They are not called "The Gospel of Matthew," or "The Gospel of Mark," but "The Gospel According to Matthew," "The Gospel According to Mark," "The Gospel According to Luke," and "The Gospel According to John." No human being knows who wrote a single line in one of these Gospels. No human being knows when they were written, or where. Biblical scholarship has established the fact that the Gospel of Mark is the oldest of the four. The chief reasons for this conclusion are that this Gospel is shorter, simpler, and more natural, than any of the other three. It is shown that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were enlarged from the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel of Mark knows nothing of the virgin birth, of the Sermon on the Mount, of the Lord's prayer, or of other important facts of the supposed life of Christ. These features were added by Matthew and Luke.
So… the Gospel writers really didn’t personally know Jesus (in a flesh-and-blood person way of knowing, not in the “Jesus is in my heart” way modern Christians mean). They weren’t writing down their own life events. They weren’t writing down events they witnessed or quoting a guy they palled around with. They were copying Q (except for John.) Oh yeah, and since Q (theoretical believed original document the synoptic gospels are all drawn/copied from) isn’t around today to compare with the Gospels, all those quotes about supreme accuracy to the original kind of ring hollow. Matt Slick really should know this stuff. Do you suppose he does, and he pretends not to, or do you think he’d really rather not know?
It comes down to whether or not you believe what it says about Christ. Do you?
Well, no. Why should I? Men, non-inspired men, wrote the Bible. I have no reason to believe otherwise. Sure, Matt made a claim that the Bible was inspired by God but the evidence he had for it (none) wasn’t overwhelmingly impressive. Neither Matt nor I know who wrote the Gospels, but anyone with the ability to Google can discover for themselves that it was NOT four guys named Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, whoever it was.

Was the New Testament hand copied well from the earlies manuscripts we do have (though not the originals of either the gospels themselves nor Q)? Sure. Does that mean the Bible is reliable? Fuck no! What a silly argument :D

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Up all night

3:32 a.m. on the laptop clock. Child tucked in bed, fed, bathed, and tooth brushed? Check. Boyfriend likewise tucked and snoring beside me? Check. Sleeping pills taken? Check. Video games played? Email checked? Face exfoliated, squeezed, and moisturized? Check. Feeling sleepy? Not a chance in hell.

I miss you. I miss writing. I miss feeling like I did something every day, but man is depression ever a bitch.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Touch Yourself

Here's my blush-and-giggle post. I've been asked by AAG Blogger to participate in a Sexual Education blog carnival for Scarlateen (a great sex-positive queer-friendly sex education website geared towards teens.)

So, which topic among many did I pick? Did I choose to write about the failure ratings of abstinence-only sex miseducation, or maybe abortion and how accurate information should be given about what an abortion does, how it may feel, and how Post Abortion Syndrome isn't a real, medical condition?

Nope. I picked masturbation! Maybe because I hadn't done it that day, so it was on my mind.

I think masturbation can be beautiful, and I think it can be important. In my ideal universe, sex ed classes would talk about masturbation as one part of an individual's sex life.

If you grew up Christian, chances are, you grew up being taught to stuff your sexual feelings. "Masturbation is wrong" you probably heard. (If you heard it was unnatural, a simple day trip to the monkey habitat of your local zoo should disabuse you of that notion.) But why is masturbation wrong, exactly? Here are the two Christian justifications I heard. Maybe you heard the same ones.

1) Onan. "God struck Onan down for masturbating."- Random Fictional Christian

Funny thing about that - Onan didn't masturbate. He pulled out. I really don't think the two can be compared. One invovles being (presumably) alone and touching yourself to bring sexual gratification. The other involves sleeping with *someone else*. Whatever Onan was "guilty" of, it wasn't hiding in his tent with a stack of Playboys.

The true "crime" of Onan was that he disobeyed God. God told him to knock up his dead brother's widow, and Onan didn't want to. He had sex with her, but pulled out (a primitive form of birth control with a much lower success rate than hormonal and barrier methods.)

2) Lust. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." - Matthew 5:28 (KJV)

Ah lust, the good ole imagination. This isn't a reason to avoid masturbation - it's a reason to avoid Christianity. Thoughts are not actions. I thought about smothering my ex-husband in his sleep while he snored drunkenly beside me. However, seeing as I didn't do it, I'm not guilty of murder. Mudering him in my heart? Meh, maybe. But the thing about fantasies, whether murderous or sexual or filled with material wealth, is that they aren't real. They are constructions of our minds.

Unlike Christine O'Donnell (in every other respect as well), I don't think male masturbation renders women unnecessary in heterosexual relationships. I know there is more to me than my vagina, and I know that not every day is a day I want to have sex. Sometimes I have some of that old chronic pain flaring up, and my joints or spine or knees just aren't up for fornication. Some days the depression and anxiety I suffer from numb my sexual urges down to nill, and I can't imagine wanting to be touched much less penetrated.

A man (or woman) who watches porn for a visual aid to masturbation is not cheating on his or her future or actual partner. Likewise, a man or woman who fantasizes through imagination only is not being unfaithful. Fantasizing about killing someone is not the same as killing them, and fantasizing about sleeping with someone is not the same as sleeping with them. Masturbation and sexual fantasy allow my lover to be sexually gratified, even when I have a headache. Mutual masturbation (masturbating simultaneously with a partner) can be fun, too while still not introducing the risks of vaginal or anal intercourse.

Sex is natural. Sex can be quite fun. Sex with a partner also carries certain risks. Masturbation is safe, fun, and personal. You can masturbate with or without aids, while thinking of the one you love or a stranger in a magazine or just how much you like to be touched. It's also a great way to learn what you like, information which you can then pass on to your partner (whether you have one now or in the future.)

Whether you're just exploring your first sexual feelings, or you're not sexually fulfilled by the one you love, or you're waiting till marriage for intercourse, masturbation is a great way to get the endorphin rush and stress relief benefits of sex. Women achieve orgasm in wildly different ways and different levels of pressure, speed, intensity, etc. in touching a woman's body can produce different levels of sexual fulfillment.

Masturbation can be anything from quickly rubbing one out to release stress (or reduce an erection) to a night with yourself. Light some candles, run a bath, find a juicy book or movie. Touch yourself the way you want to be touched. Don't let the shame of your childhood teachings intrude into your bedroom. Sexual repression never made anyone happy (except perhaps the asexual.)

Love yourself. Then you can teach someone else the way you want to be loved, or you can go the distance alone but well sated.

Divinyls - I Touch Myself - Watch more Funny Videos

p.s. I'm fine in the general sense realizing that I probably have fans out there who think of me when masturbating, but I really would prefer you not TELL me about it. Sure I'm sex-positive, but I'm still a prude! :D

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Saturday, August 28, 2010


Why do I have such a hard time accepting this? Well, let’s see. There’s the fact that I spent most of my life having everyone around me DENY my very real medical problems. From the time I was 14 and told my mom I’d kill myself if she didn’t send me to therapy (to which she replied, “Stop being so melodramatic”) to my broken right ankle at 23 (she let church friends pray for me rather than lending me money to get it set by a doctor, despite the fact she no longer believed in faith healing and went to doctors for her OWN needs at this point) my pain has never been real.

No one’s pain was real to my grandmother. In the entire book “Born in Zion” detailing over a dozen birth stories, she never once admits to a laboring woman being in pain, always merely “some discomfort.” Of course my pain was never real.

Then there’s the fact that you can’t SEE a mental illness by looking at my body. I’m 27 and in fairly good shape. I have really healthy hair and four working limbs. I am not disfigured or maimed physically, just psychologically and that… no one else can see unless you let them. And I spent my whole life practicing hiding my pain.

Because of course, sometimes I refused to let them deny me. I went through with my suicide attempts and I got sporadic brief periods of time with therapists (though always with the complaints of how much time it took out of her day to drive me, how much money it cost her for me to not be making real progress, and of course, a quiz for everything I discussed in my private session that she had paid for.) If I had to, I’d make them see my pain, but there was always a price to pay for forcing my mother out of neglectful denial, her preferred mode of parenting.

I want to pretend that I can get better anytime I want to, and that I just enjoy spending all my time in my apartment on the computer. I want to pretend that I’m just “quirky” not actually “disabled.” I want to be able to write this without soaking my kitchen table with tears, buut I can’t.

It hurts so much to speak this truth. You Anteaters, before anyone else, know how much I share and how willingly. But this is one for some reason, one I can’t seem to forgive myself of. PTSD following abuse? Sure that makes sense. Anxiety & depression? Easily understood, and common enough to be sympathetic to a broad audience. The eating disorder? Well, that’s not nearly as hush-hush as it used to be,w ith several memoirs out (the most haunting and riveting of those being Marya Herschberg’s “Wasted”.) Divorce? Drug use in my teens? Skipping school? Hardly noteworthy in the 21st century unless you’re a repressed religious prick. Abortion? Well, even if it isn’t talked about I know 1/3 of the women out there have had one also so even if the news decided to treat it like an anamoly, I know how common it really is.

But Social Anxiety Disorder? How the hell does that work? As someone recently said, “If someone with 9,000 YouTube subscribers has social anxiety, what the hell do you consider a social butterfly?”

I used to be so extroverted. I performed my first solo at age 3, with the Lake Carol Baptist preschool choir (“Jesus Loves the Little Children.”) I was a musical theater major in high school, and a Middle East studies major in college – in the hopes of going into diplomatic work, of all things. And now I can’t leave a very, very small space without feeling overwhelmed and assaulted by everyday sights and sounds. Every person is a visible threat. Every motion kicks in my fight or flight instinct. I can’t bear the onslaught of advertising, speeding cars, loud music, sudden noises… It is all simply too much for me.

The thought of ever driving a car again makes me jump in my chair and cry out, a particularly annoying symptom that’s been happening quite often lately. These symptoms of terrific fear at the slightest movement from my boyfriend are hard for him to bear, as well. He does not want me to be afraid when he picks up a book. Neither do I.

But even just the thought of leaving the apartment to meet with a therapist fills me with dread and heart-racing anxiety. My neighbors, with their noisy children and loud slamming of the door, the assholes downstairs with the mini-bike, and the drunk guy who got arrested a few weeks ago (with two patrol cars directly beneath my window for over an hour! Fun unless you've ever been arrested!)

How did I let myself get so scared? Of everything?

I wish I could wish myself well.

I wish faith healing worked, and homeopathy, too. I wish anti-depressants did something other than make me hallucinate and feel like killing myself, but they don’t. None of them. And it’s just really, really hard to admit to myself that I can’t fucking fix this with hope and optimism. And that just feels so self-defeating! And the only reason I’ve managed to survive so much is that I *don’t* just lie down and quit. No matter how bad the depression is, I DO get out of bed. I DO take care of my son. I TRY. But I am still neurotic and crazy and terrified of the world around me.

I don’t want this ugly truth to be part of me. All the other things were more manageable. As bad as the eating disorders were, they never kept me locked in a box, a prison of fucking fear. It’s humiliating to admit that. No one wants to be afraid, and I still have to fight the lie I was indoctrinated into, that fear is the ultimate sin – the biggest taboo.

I spent my life being groomed to deny reality, and this is one truth I do not want to have to face. I do not want this to be true. But it is. It sucks, but there’s the fucking truth. I hate it. I wish it wasn’t so.

I spend all my time on the internet, because I have nowhere else to GO.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pompous Drivel Lies

Sorry I haven't been here in... shoot, nearly a month? I blame YouTube.

I had so much fun doing counter-apologetics on the blog, I thought I might tackle one on video. So, I've been reading and skewering The Purpose Driven Life (does it drive anybody else half as crazy as me that the freaking TITLE of that book contains a grammatical error?)

I doubt I'll be able to do any writing outside of this for the next two weeks, till Little Man starts Kindergarten (big boy!) because in addition to suffering through Rick Warren, I need to get LM his booster shots, school supplies, etc.

I'm also looking into DVD production. I've decided to package my abortion videos together, with closed captions and tons of well-cited factual information added, for sale. I'm waiting to hear back from Guttmacher Institute on setting up a proceeds contribution. As many people as I was able to reach with a YouTube video, I'm sure we all know people who aren't online or don't have access in a private setting (if you're using the library's internet access, maybe a video on abortion isn't something you can watch right there.)

Yes, I'm sure anti-choice people will jump all over this claiming I'm trying to make money off my abortion. More like I'm trying to make money off the job I spend all my time on - being a semi-public figure with a clearly stated opinion, and an unapologetic attitude. But I wouldn't be releasing THIS video set (as opposed to my series on growing up in a cult) if I didn't think people needed to hear it. A percentage of the proceeds - depending in part on the final cost of DVD reproduction, packaging, etc. - will be going to Guttmacher, or the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF). I'll keep everyone here informed as this moves forward.

Till then, here are all those videos I've been making instead of hanging out on my blog lately. You can always keep up with these yourself by subscribing to my YouTube channel. For the next month, I'll be putting out at least one vid a day. I know, I know, I set myself up for this bout of business. ;p

So here's where the reading gets good (or at least, really funny.)

I'm off to record Day 10 now!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Courtship Promises pt. 1

Well, today I'm going to talk about something my mom only jokingly threatened me with, but that many Christian teenagers are forced into: Courtship. I'll be using writings by Bill Gothard. Before anyone gets upset that this isn't *their* version of Christianity & therefore I'm unfairly judging all Christians, here is my brand spanking new Angie the Anti-Theist General Christian Disclaimer.
There is no universal consensus among Christians on the life and teachings of Jesus, the primary message of the Gospel, the role of Old Testament laws in today's society, or the proper way to live a "Christian life." Therefore, I will address the multitudes of differing beliefs within Christianity. If you feel that your particular ideology, sect, denomination, or version of Christianity has been unfairly excluded, please let me know and I'll be sure to cover why I don't share your beliefs either.
Are we good now?
What is Courtship?
Courtship is experiencing the blessing of God by loving the Lord Jesus Christ and honoring both sets of parents. The purpose of courtship is to determine a couple’s readiness for marriage and to discern the will of God for a covenant marriage that will benefit the world.

While the actual manifestation of a courtship relationship will vary because no two couples are alike, one of the primary motivations behind courtship (as opposed to dating) is the protection of the emotions of those involved until the time when it is clearly God’s will to proceed into marriage.
Okay, I've got a problem from the opening clause, "Courtship is experiencing." That is an active verb. It's an action - "experiencing." But that's really a broad verb, when you think about it. I mean, we have sensory experiences and means of experiencing the world around us. We don't seem to have any measurable way of "experiencing" blessing, however. What exactly does "experiencing the blessing of God" mean in practical, measurable terms? My brother the physicist (oh yay! the only other atheist) has this quote as his email tagline -
"When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind."
- Lord Kelvin
You can see why he's the other atheist, can't you? Okay, so courtship is something that frankly hasn't really been defined. We know it's about "honoring both sets of parents" though...

I have to ask, how are emotions protected by going through your parents? If one person doesn't want to move forward, there's still gonna be rejection. Besides, minimizing the risk of dating also minimizes some of the rewards. I learned a LOT about myself over the years, and some of that I learned from men and women I dated. I'm still in friendly contact with ex-boyfriends from as far back as seventh grade. (Hi, Micah!) Even though there's pain and loss in dating, I don't think that's a reason to completely forgo the exercise. Alright, let's get into the meat of this.
Foundational Principles of Courtship
I'm intrigued already. Foundational principles of "experiencing God's blessing"? I can hardly wait.
1. Ensure the blessing of God

The greatest asset of any person or marriage is God’s blessing. “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).
Since the Bible isn't nearly as pro-marriage as most contemporary Christians (I was gonna type modern, but then realized that might not be the best description for some of these people), I'm going to look up that verse in context. This is a passage about wisdom, like many of the proverbs are. It is not about marriage, marital love, male-female love, or procreation or children. There are early verses in the passage comparing a wise and foolish son, bringing joy and shame to parents, but they're a good ten verses before the one Bill Gothard quoted. Here's a little context for you,
20The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.
21The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.
22The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
23It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.
24The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.
That's just not about marriage. Nice try, Bill. But let's see how Bill thinks a couple can "ensure" the Lord's blessing for their marriage.
No couple will have a happy or prosperous marriage without the blessing of the Lord. If God does not bless them, the devourer will damage and destroy their present and future joy and potential.
Wow, I guess we can blame "the devourer" for all those failed Christian marriages. Or maybe we're supposed to blame the Lord for not blessing their marriages, and allowing the devourer to wreak so much havoc? Oh wait, silly me. This is Christianity! People are to blame for everything bad, and God gets credit for everything good. It's simple, really. Okay, so no getting married until you have God's blessing. Of course, that hasn't been defined yet and we're still not sure how to "ensure" you get it.
A blessed marriage is described in the following passage: “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (Psalm 128).
I don't want to be a vine - fruitful or otherwise! I don't want to live in another man's house. I want to live in my house. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't see my son as an olive plant or any other possession.

It sounds like a man gets blessed by fearing the Lord and walking in his ways. Again, dating isn't mentioned. There is no verse saying, "Thou shalt not watch a movie with a member of the opposite sex without appropriate Christian chaperones" but that's the message I got as a Christian teen. From youth group to Brio to that stupid hated "Worth Waiting For" necklace of my sister's, the idea that dating was somehow wrong was clearly communicated. Somehow it's "unChristian" or "worldly" to date, but really, this isn't territory that's covered in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, if you liked a girl you just bought her from her dad, or raped her first and then bought her. In the New Testament, well, Jesus never married and neither did Paul, Paul was pretty adamantly against marriage. I'll get into that more later, but for now let me just say, the Bible isn't particularly pro-marriage. The gross assumption on the part of many conservative Christians that marriage is somehow "sacred" or "holy" in God's eyes simply isn't supported by the text (which is why good old Bill here will use verses completley out of context.)

Now let's address this assertion that "No couple will have a happy or prosperous marriage" unless they did it Bill Gothard's way. Divorce statistics for Christians and non-Christians in the US are fairly stable. Born-again Christians and Baptists get divorced at the highest rate (according to an Associated Press survey) and atheists at the lowest rate. Conservative states like Oklahoma and Alabama have a 50% higher incidence of divorce than liberal states like Maine and Washington. Apparently, the Bill Gothard style of marriage fails more often. Now, if you think that at least some of these Christian marriages that succeed are doing so because of the Lord's blessing, how do you account for the successful non-Christian marriages? Surely Bill doesn't think the Lord has bestowed his blessing on heathens. Clearly, there are happy (or at least in tact) marriages among non-Christians. The "destroyer" has not had his merry way with them. How does Bill account for this, I wonder?

We'll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out. Part 2 coming soon, Anteaters. I may as well let you in on my decreased posting. I've been having really awful and frequent periods, and they're taking a toll on me. I've had four since I moved to Denver two months ago. I've basically been half-zombie, but I talked with a midwife friend who told me what I can do and take to feel better, so I hope to be more alert and active soon. Till then, be well and have great and godless days.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Put Your White Sheet Back On"

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So full of win.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Al-Anon pt 3: Fertile Ground

And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: a sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.
- Luke 8:4-7
Al-Anon's self defeatist message found fertile ground with me. There were so many of this cult's ideas I'd already absorbed from mainstream and fundamentalist Christianity.

Inherently Defective
Al-Anon taught me, like Christianity, that I am inherently flawed and defective, and only my Higher Power can fix this. No amount of effort, learning, therapy, wisdom, or charity I do can make up for the flaws I was born with - a sinful nature or codependency. However, confessing my powerlessness, my sinfulness is only the first step. In the case of both religions, this creates the need for the group or church to fill. I must attend meetings (or services) at least once a week if I expect God to fix me. After all, I must do my own part of my salvation too, even though my part will never be sufficient. I am fallen and I am powerless. It's up to God (as I understand him) to come save me now.

Learned Helplessness
"All have fallen short of the glory of God" and "We admitted we were powerless." Both of these messages, from Christianity and Al-Anon, take away our impetus to create positive change in our own lives. In Al-Anon I was told repeatedly to "Let go and let God" and to just leave other people to their own devices and character defects. I needed to keep "my side of the street clean" and not worry about that mote in my brother's eye (or bottle in my husband's hand.) At a time when I needed help and empowerment the most, I had my legs kicked out from under me by a bunch of bitter people who probably would have been far happier if they'd just left their alcoholic spouses and bypassed the Steps completely.

Acceptable Abuse
They had stayed, so I should stay. I "shouldn't make any major decisions for the first six months" - really the first year, but I had it wrong at the time. I found out, after telling my sponsor I'd finally broken things off with my husband who belittled, raped, and abused me, that I was really supposed to stick in there another six months before making that choice, since I hadn't yet completed the steps or attained Serenity. I remember feeling profound relief that no one had told me that before hand, because i didn't think I could take another six months of torture, but I was glad I didn't have to knowingly choose to go against one of Al-Anon's principles in order to escape it.

As a Christian child, I knew it was right and godly of my parents to abuse me physically and emotionally. After all, they were following the Bible and Focus on the Family, so they must be right. It simply wasn't safe enough to question authority for me to even consider it. My brother tried that, and he'd been kicked out of the house at 12. But the idea that I should take a certain amount of abuse as my lot in life, and what's more that I'd somehow earned the abuse through my own actions, was an idea I learned early and it took decades to break. My family treated me horribly, and I was fighting an uphill battle to become a person and not just a cult clone. I married badly.

But Al-Anon would have me believe that my fledgling, ill-conceived and frankly never willingly consummated marriage (spousal rape doesn't count) held the weight of my entire integrity, my word, my vow. They made it more serious than it was. I mean yes, I wanted to have a family with him. I married him. But I quickly learned that he was an absolutely horrible human being. He got so drunk one night, he peed out the living room window screen because he thought it was the bathroom toilet. And that wasn't the first time he'd made an error of that kind. (There was also, for instance, his ex-roommate's vacuum cleaner.)

Al-Anon told me I needed to take the focus off of him and his actions, and instead I needed to look for my part in his drinking. Bear in mind, we'd been married all of 10 weeks when I separated from him, taking my son and moving into my mother's. That's when I started going to Al-Anon. I wasn't even with him for three months before leaving, but because I thought Al-Anon told me to wait six months (really a year), I spent twice as long separated from him and trying to work things out as I did living with him as man and wife.

God Micro-Manages
I had been taught to believe in the power of prayer before I'd been taught to read. I believed that I had both free will and a sinful nature, and that the god who gave me free will would intervene in my life and others. Even though God had some overarching multi-millenial Divine Plan, he would fiddle around with the daily minutiae like lost keys, insufficient funds, or bad traffic, if I asked him to.

Bill Wilson's Higher Power is a meddling god. Free will is talked about much less often in 12 Step programs than traditional Sunday morning churches (sorry Adventists.) "Self will" is considered a sin in Al-Anon, the way that the "Adam nature" or "flesh" was sinful in my childhood brand of learned helplessness.

Perpetual Confession

In Christianity I was taught that when I "sinned", the real problem wasn't the people I may have hurt. No, no. The great offense of course was that I'd sinned against God. He was the one who I had hurt the most. Remember, he died for my sins, so the least I could do is make his death meaningless by never sinning again. Since that was bound to be impossible (as Christianity generally is), my only alternative was confession for each and every offense.

At deliverance camp the pastor had us write down a detailed list of all our sins, past and present, great and small. In Al-Anon this would be known as a "fearless and searching moral inventory" or the 4th Step. Christianity had already taught me that I have been judged, and found wanting in the balance. Al-Anon just continued the lesson.

Christianity was fundamentally destructive to my self-esteem as a child, teenager, and young woman. Original sin is a terrible weight to assign every newborn on the planet, and I don't see how I worshiped a god for so long who I believed did exactly that.

Marriage is Sacred (Except When it's Not)
My mother was divorced. My father was not a good husband so, well and good. He was feckless and unfaithful and on one occasion - and one only - he struck her. I could understand and at least some other Christians could as well. My mother had to write a letter to the Christian school we attended, justifying her divorce, in order to get a job teaching computer classes to the high school students. But they had given her the position, and treated her well once she was hired.

My grandmother had been divorced twice. She absolutely should have left her second husband, a darker version of my father's same sins, much sooner than she did. But my grandfather, her first husband, was a good man. She left him because their daughter died at 10 weeks old of a congenital heart defect, and she couldn't be in that house a day longer. Marriage is sacred, unless you've got a good excuse.

In Al-Anon it was the same. The pressure to stay was subtle but constant. The greatest success story couple at my home meeting had been married for 50 years - 27 of them abusive, 23 in 12 step groups. These were the role models of everyone in the room, and so all advice I got was tinged with this poison of the mind - that if you just followed the steps, even the worst marriage could become enviable. Yet if an old-timer, automatically respected for their longevity in the cult, had been divorced three times or more, it was none of my concern and I needed to focus on my self, and work a selfish program, and not try to control people and situations in my life. (Because after all, doing that makes your life unmanageable.)

Some Feelings are Wrong
As a child, I was taught it was a sin to fear, since fear meant not trusting God. Al-Anon told me the same thing. FEAR was nothing more than "false evidence appearing real" and I really needed to just focus on working my Steps and turning my will over to my Higher Power. There was no sense in recognizing fear as a useful warning emotion, and investigating why I had the fears I did (including fears of my husband's possible behavior.)

I was also told "in the rooms" that resentment was always, always, without exception or fail WRONG. The "defilements" of my demon-haunted childhood were replaced with the "resentments" of my 20s. These were the things (almost without fail, just as in Christianity, done by others or merely by environment) holding me back from my "spiritual awakening" and serenity. Resentments were so bad and so inherently self-destructive that I should not only get rid of all current ones, but should do everything in my (powerless) power to prevent them. I remember the day I first heard this sentence and thought it was brilliant.
"Expectations are premeditated resentments."
If I didn't place expectations on people, like the alcoholic, then I wouldn't be so disappointed. Al-Anon taught me, like Christianity, to lower my standards for how well I should be treated. After all, I was a sinner. I was sick - just as sick as the alcoholic, even though my "disease" of codependency had no physical effects at all.

It Will Never Get Better
Even though I was saved by the grace of Jesus (and certainly not by works, so that no man may boast!) I would still always struggle with sin. Being a Christian doesn't make you perfect, just forgiven, and so I would constantly fail at perfection. Al-Anon told me that I had a spiritual disease of codependency, that I was sick and that I would always be sick, and that the best I could hope for was to let go and let god, and hope he did a better job of running my life than I did. After all, my "best thinking got me here" so it was obvious I was not an empowered person capable of making good decisions for myself.

Al-Anon is not a self-help group. It is a self-annihilation group. And it needs to be stopped.

More soon. This post took a lot out of me. Writing about my ex-husband is always extremely difficult. I have a whole mixture of emotions like betrayal, and fear, and humiliation (what the fuck was I thinking marrying that creep?) But I know writing will make me feel better, and I'm at least more emotionally capable of approaching those dark and scary stories now than I was a few months ago. Hopefully the writing flow continues and improves. Much love to all my Anteaters!

* Throughout the 12 Step posts I'll use certain slogans and phrases that were spoken a lot "in the rooms" (like "in the rooms" which refers to 12 Step meetings collectively.) Sometimes I'll remember to put air quotes around them, but sometimes I won't. Cults use buzzwords and slogans as thought-stopping devices, and it's only by recognizing them as such that we can strip them of power over us. So I will use the cult-speak of those days, in the hopes that current and former 12 Steppers who find these posts will be able to recognize in their own meetings and literature the things I'm saying.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

My time in Al-Anon pt. 2

The first post is available here.
In Al-Anon meetings we hear the three Cs describing our powerlessness over alcoholism: we didn't cause it, can't cure it, and can't control it. We begin to learn the basic Al-Anon premise of taking our focus off of the alcoholic and keeping the focus on ourselves. Hard as it is to look at our own part in our problems, acceptance of Step One brings relief from impossible responsibilities. We were trying to fix a disease - and someone else's disease at that!

Powerlessness. The first step of Al-Anon, like the first step of Alcoholics Anonymous and a whole host of other 12 step groups, begins with powerlessness. The biggest problem in my life - my husband's drinking - was out of my control. I wanted to cure him. I didn't want to give in to the idea that he must drink forever, and these people seemed to believe their spiritual principles would help him quit and stay sober, and maybe even find this "serenity" they all spoke of.

But Al-Anon said, even though 12 Steps was the best shot at sobriety he had, I couldn't cure him or control him. But he wouldn't go to the meetings. He always had some excuse why he didn't want to go, even if I offered to drive him. For all his talk of not wanting me to leave him, he wasn't making any effort to keep me.

Still, it was time to take my focus off of him and turn it to myself. Like most of the advice I got from Al-Anon, this was double-edged. As a brand new mom in financial straits and poor health, I had a lot of my own stuff to focus on, and being away from Roni and his problems was good for me. But it also invited me to ignore his bad behavior. After all, I shouldn't worry about that mote in his eye till I'd done an exhaustive "moral inventory" of everything I'd ever done wrong in my entire life and confessed it to my sponsor.

Of course, I hadn't caused Roni's alcoholism or his "problem drinking" and Al-Anon was quick to tell me that. Just as quickly, Al-Anon let me know it was important that I look at "my part" in his drinking. Let me say that another way: I can't cause, cure, or control his drinking, but I need to focus on my part of his drinking problem.

They kept telling me alcoholism was a disease. My husband loved that. He would remind me, gleefully ad manipulatively, "You took a vow before GOD to love me in sickness and in health. I have a disease! It's not my fault." But even as I accepted most of what Al-Anon told me unquestioned, it seemed like an imperfect analogy to me.

Maybe some people do have an allergic or addictive response to alcohol. They shouldn't drink. It's just incredibly simple to me. Okay, that's probably over simplisitc. I know I'm not a big fan of people saying the cure for anorexia is to "just eat" but really, that IS what an anorexic must do to recover. The most I could ever swallow the "addiction as disease" model was to think it might be like diabetes. Some people really do just have to abstain from sugar, and some from alcohol.

Still, they stressed, it was a spiritual disease. I should treat him just the same as if he had lung cancer. But having lung cancer doesn't make people violent. Drinking alcohol did for my husband (even worse was when the buzz wore off.)

I tried to get myself in line with Al-Anon principles. I tried to accept my powerlessness, my lack of agency. Later steppers would assure me this would be freeing. Once I turned my life over to God and quit trying to run things myself (which I was obviously no good at, or else why would I have to come to Al-Anon?) everything would be great.

Having a "conscious contact" with a "Higher Power" has nothing to do with stopping drinking. Of course, at the time I was very religious. Nothing drew me closer to God than a desperate attempt to salvage my marriage and to be a good godly wife and mother. I hadn't meant to play the part so soon, but I was damn skippy going to do a good job of it, now that I'd landed the role.

So how could I be the best I knew how, while getting myself out of "denial" and accepting my own powerlessness? A sponsor would guide me on that path.

(More to come soon.) Excerpt from "Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions, and Concepts and use under Fair Use terms.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

My time in Al-Anon pt. 1

I've answered a couple Formspring questions on AA and 12 Step groups recently, and I've talked about why I think they are cults. What I haven't talked about in any depth is my own experience with these groups. This will be a series of posts, mixing in current research and data and my own memories of my two years in Al-Anon. I will try to show why I believe they are a cult, and provide evidence to back up my claim.

Initial Impression

I knew Roni's drinking and drug abuse was a primary cause of our marital strife. I thought if I could just get him to quit drinking, then we could work on everything else. I could hold my marriage together through sheer effort and force of will. I picked up a book on "Seven Keys to Sobriety." Apparently, if I just spent a few hundred dollars on vitamin supplements and kept my husband locked up somewhere for a week, I could detox him through the healing powers of alternative medicine and make him a brand new man. Unfortunately, I didn't have the couple thousand bucks it would have cost to do such a thing, before even looking at the expense of an inpatient addiction recovery center. We were going to have to do this on the cheap.

So I looked at Alcoholics Anonymous. I'd only ever heard good things about the group, and I'd even recommended on a vague sense of their good reputation that a high school boyfriend attend Ala-Teen meetings, to get help coping with his dad's excessive drinking and the violence that went on in their home.

I decided to attend an Al-Anon meeting. I'd heard it was a support group for the family and friends of alcoholics, and I sure needed some support. I had, after all, just gotten married, had a baby, and separated from my husband to go live with my disapproving mother. I had also just undergone unanesthetized surgery at a walk-in clinic to remove a staph infection that was killing me, and I had a broken ankle I couldn't afford to have looked at by a doctor.

I had my mom go with me and the baby, since I couldn't exactly drive with my broken right ankle. We got to the Methodist church and school about a mile down the road and looked for the meeting. It was in one of the classrooms -upstairs. I had brought my son's stroller, because I thought that would make it easy for my mom to keep him placated while I listened, but I hadn't counted on stairs. Two AA guys, meeting in the room next door, were kind enough to hoist the stroller up the stairs while my mom carried my son, and I hobbled up the stairs with my crutches, in a too-large borrowed walking cast.

My first impression was that the people in the meeting were off somehow. I told my mom as we left that they seemed like cult members. Some things stood out as "not quite right" like the part one lady read aloud about "only conference approved Al-Anon literature may be read." I was reading everything I could on addiction and alcoholism, and it seemed weird to limit myself to just one possible course of action. But, the women assured me, there really was no other way my husband would get sober. He needed AA and he needed it now.

Well, it was worth a shot. They themselves advised that I attend six meetings before deciding whether or not Al-Anon was right for me. So, it wasn't like I had to make up my mind right away. I could just check it out for a few more weeks, and I could always leave if I didn't like it, right?

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Preaching Zone

Why is it every other jackass who heard a Bible verse outside the bar one night thinks I want to be preached to? This is the entitlement I deal with from priviliged Christians.
Define 'good'. Some think good is killing those or at least confining those that don't agree with them. They view them as 'dangerous' to their idea of..ahem... 'good'. And as a result they become devils like Stalin, Mao etc. who mass murder 10's of millions of people.

Without some absolute all seeing discerner, one also might think they are doing 'good' by helping some person...who then takes the strength we give them and uses it to go destroy others.

There is a God who calls people from this mindset which, historically, has led to mass murder. People hijack anything that fits the culture and appears 'good'. People have done it with religions incessantly through the ages.

However that doesn't affect the fact that there is a God who loves people and came himself to sacrifice himself through his omnipresent spirit for any who would put their trust in him. That leads me to a goodness that allows others to live freely even though they hate me. In fact I help them if they are in distress rather then rejoicing in their doom. You can't find that kind of love outside of Jesus Christ who was God in the flesh.
No "hello, I am a Christian and I saw one of your YouTube videos." No "How are you?" Just "Define good." How about this jackass - go look it up in a dictionary! It takes less time to type a word + "define" into your Google search bar than it does to send me an email.

Next we've got, "Some people mass murder." Some people are serial killers, and it appears a strict religious childhood is what leads them to do things that make the rest of us scratch our heads in disgust and bewilderment. However, that's hardly a reason to paint all religious people as serial killers. (They're just *potential* serial killers. Relax, atheists!) Just one more reason to fight against childhood indoctrination and sexual repression, eh?

Ah, here I'm being told that atheism is somehow equivalent to being a "destroyer" (whatever that means, since Mr. Let Me Demand a Definition hasn't defined this.)

Let's see, well apparently an atheist mindset has historically led to genocide. Never mind that there is no dogma to atheism, no cause to die for, no paradise to go to. Never mind that atheism was not the motivation for either Stalin or Mao (and certainly not the Catholic Adolf Hitler.)

For the last paragraph, we've got the "he died for you, you miserable fucking sinner" guilt trip! Of course this only works on people who actually think being born human is something horrible to atone for. And he'd be remiss if this random person submitting unrequested preaching neglected to tell me what a good noble suffering martyr for his faith he is. People hate him. It must be because he's such a good Christian, and not because he's a bigoted anti-atheist jackass people don't want to associate with. Yeah, that's it.

Finally, we have complete rejection of ANY goodness that doesn't come from this guy's brand of religious faith. All those Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, and secular humanists who do good? They don't count. They don't even exist, after all.

Here was my reply. I'll admit, I'm cranky today, but preaching is never welcome. I don't email random Christians and demand they defend their faith to me. I don't go tell them why I think god is stupid. I do that on my own blog and in my own videos. People are free to find my opinion, but I'm not aggressively preaching.
Read on secular humanism, and take your preaching elsewhere. I am not receptive. I have blasphemed the holy spirit. I am irredeemable according to the Bible.

Go away you bigoted fuck head.
Short and swee-, er, concise. But I don't think I could have stated, "I'm done now" more clearly. Yet, he could not leave my irredeemable soul to the hell his god has already doomed me to. No, no. Good Christian defender of the faith that he is, he must continue his campaign of unwarranted preaching! He MUST throw pearls before "swine."
June 24 at 4:14pm
I'm not receptive to secular humanism. Later then bigot. bye. YOu are obviously the bigot since you can't reply with logic but rather insults

June 24 at 4:14pm
PS I think I'll post this conversation everywhere. lol!
June 24 at 4:14pm
PS I'll bet you're really a jr. high boy .
Oh yes, it was not one but three replies! Wow, he really showed me. Boy did he put me in my place. Well, you know what the Bible says.

"Ye shall know them by their love."

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Friday, June 18, 2010

June 28, 1998

I swayed to the music, my hands raised skyward, singing and crying out to God, with tears streaming down my face. Hallelujah, hallelujah. Oh, I needed to turn back to him. My chest ached and I felt the weight of my betrayal.

I was doing things a good Christian girl shouldn't. I was skipping school, smoking pot and cigarettes, and worst of all, flirting with witchcraft. But not right here in this moment, in a wood frame room with hundreds of other convicted and crying teens at a Vineyard Christian Fellowship teen Bible camp in Georgia. Here, it was just me and Jesus - a time to get right with God.

At the far end of the open room, the band played and sang out prayers into the warm June night, as fireflies lit up past the four corners or the open-walled building frame. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving through the crowd, and I was overcome with emotion. Outside, rain began to pour.

"Oh, please Jesus, forgive me," I begged. "You are holy, holy, holy," I said aloud. It didn't seem strange at all to speak out loud to God; everyone around me was doing the same.

I focused on all the ways I wasn't pleasing God. My mind ran over a litany of my sins and transgressions, and I felt polluted by my sinful nature. I considered my recent interest in the occult. I believed witchcraft was real, even if most people who dabbled in it were total amateurs. That didn't mean Satan couldn't use the occasion, that open door, to infest them with demons. Yet, I sometimes read my horoscope, which I knew was wrong.

I looked down at my left hand. On my middle finger I wore a wrong that I thought God might not like. It was a silver band with a raised moon and stars, and a clear blue lacquer slapped over the top. It came from Claire's and probably sold for about $8. I can't remember if I bought it or stole it. I did quite a bit of that at 15.

I confessed my treachery to Jesus, sobbing anew. I found myself face down on the pine floor, prostrate before my God and my youth group. Compelled, I rose up and walked to one side of the open air room, toward the benches that lined the edges between the thick wood beams keeping up the roof. Leaning out into the wind and the rain, I chucked the ring with all my might, and as it arced into the air, a stroke of lightning lit the sky. He forgave me.

Over the course of that opening night worship service, kicking off a week's long Christian summer camp program, I tried desperately to get back to the comfortable feeling of closeness with Jesus I'd once known. Kids from my youth group, and from a group in Greensboro, North Carolina laid hands on me and prayed for me. Prayed that God would be the father I'd never known, prayed that I would follow His will, prayed that he would shower me with His love and His grace.

I spent three solid hours crying on the hard wood floor that night.

I think this is the kind of experience most Christians don't realize I've had, when I say I don't believe in their god. I did believe. Every element of a "relationship" you believe you have with Jesus, I thought I had. And it's not because I really was overcome with some holy ghost. I just believed it. I believed in Jesus and in repentance and in conviction and in the Rules. I believed in the holy ghost and that God tried to talk to me through both music and the weather. I believed the things I needed to believe to create an emotional experience like the one I had "with Jesus" that summer night in Georgia. Without those beliefs though, there's really no chance of a holy spirit "moving" through any crowd. You never see Christians "slain in the spirit" at the checkout, or else overcome by the Holy Spirit in their cubicle. No. Experiences like this are almost always confined to highly stressful or highly religious situations. Because the ghost isn't real, but the memory of it is.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 10

Finally, at long long last we can finish this accursed book of bigotry! Today's post will be the completion of my longest series to-date (and for awhile. I'll be looking at short stuff next, I promise.)

Susan Brinkmann told us at the outset that open homosexuality was threatening the Christian (Catholic) way of life. She intimated there was a conspiracy amongst doctors, therapists, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and shadowy, nefarious "gay activists" to hide the TRUTH about homosexuality - that it is a deviant lifestyle of anal sex with strangers and AIDS and butt cancer. And wanting to adopt children because you're unfit and selfish and only care about yourself, unlike all those straight couples who spend thousands of dollars on in vitro fertilization because they absolutely have to have a kid with their own DNA and couldn't possibly use that money to support children who already are alive and starving to death in dusty countries. See, they can't be selfish because they're not gay. It's obvious!

We learned that the government is secretly pushing through two radically new kinds of families, which will of course bring about the destruction of American life and three separate "classes" of children. And they're doing it even though they know it will do these things (we aren't given their reasons, of course. That's top secret.)

Susan let us know that since two doctors said some things she and NARTH can quote mine, that proves definitively that there is absolutely no genetic cause to homosexuality. Actually, since this one guy Fitzgibbons told her so, she knows that the real reason people act gay is because they aren't following their god-given patriarchal penis-and-vagina roles. Oh, and of course they're all hurt and angry and their parents did a terrible job of raising them. Not as bad as she seems to think gay people would do though. I mean, after all, she found a priest who is neither a husband nor a father to explain why gay people should not get married or have children, because, after all, they are completely selfish people. I mean obviously, that's why they like someone with the same gonads!

Did I miss anything? Oh yes. Being gay will kill you and lesbians don't really exist. Gay people only want one-night stands and you really should just trust her on this and ignore all the gay couples fighting for their right to get married. Finally, Susan had to fill us in on the big "untold secret" about homosexuality - Church teachings. I mean, after all, they got their own section so obviously, Susan thinks these are secret and that we haven't all heard every hateful and bigoted thing ever preached from St. Peter's Square. Yesterday we looked at God's requirement for love - that it be "free, total, faithful, and fruitful."

Okay, time for the hate.
Union with God
But the meaning behind Church teaching on human sexuality goes deeper still.

"Experience attests that even in the most wonderful human relationship, that 'ache' of solitude isn't entirely satisfied," West writes. "We still yearn for 'something more.' If sex really was our ultimate fulfillment, then marriage would be nirvana.' . . . The marital embrace, as beautiful as it is, is only a foreshadowing of what's to come — only a 'sacrament' (sign) of something far greater . . ."

Union with God.
Look, the fact that some of us moan or bellow "oh god" mid-coitous doesn't mean sex is in some way "holy." Oh and as far as marriage being "nirvana" (interestingly Buddhist choice of words) married sex is comically and notoriously not as wild and passionate as single sex, overall.

Who ever said that sex "really was our ultimate fulfillment" and what does this have to do with your vain and desperate attempts to force homosexual people into heterosexual boxes? People aren't gay because they're sex addicts. They aren't gay because they don't know anything about love or fulfillment or connection with another person. Hell, plenty of gay people believe in gods, so it isn't even that they're "worldly." They're just gay. Despite Susan's best efforts to lie and distort the facts, I still don't believe homosexuality is a social ill or any of my fucking business. And when I say it's not my business, I don't mean "so keep it in a closet of shame." I mean, be free to be who you are as long as who you are hurts no one (which is why I encourage open homosexuality instead of open bigotry.)
This is what G. K. Chesterton meant when he wrote, "Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God." Our desire for union with an "other" will never be ultimately satisfied until we are united with our Creator. "God created sexual desires as the power to love as He loves," West writes. "And this is how the first couple experienced it."
That may have been what Chesterton meant, but I'm pretty sure at least some men knocking on the doors of brothels are looking for a quick lay with a piece of strange.

Does the first couple mean Adam and Eve? Because, again Catholics, I thought you accepted evolution. How on earth can you say they are a myth and still expect me to treat them like historical figures simultaneously? At least creationists are consistent.
But remember, original sin robbed us of this ability to love as God loves. This is why we need a Redeemer. Jesus didn't die and rise again just to give us a kind of coping mechanism for sin. As the catechism states, "Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins." (CCC2336) He came to give us what we lost. That's why the Church claims that our longing for union can only be satisfied in Christ.
Okay, so God made us with this desperate need for love, but he also made us with original sin, so we're incapable of giving each other the kind of love we supposedly need. And you want to give Jesus credit for "giving us what we lost" when his Daddy was the one who rigged the game to begin with? Gee, that's swell. But none of this has anything to do with the lives of gay men and lesbians. Not even a little bit. It's just what you guys have decided god says, without, you know, actually proving he's real or anything. Kind of silly, really.
The good news is that through genuine conversion of heart to the message of life found in Jesus Christ, we can all be liberated from what John Paul II calls the "domination of lust." His grace can accomplish all that we cannot.
Gee, through the power of Jesus I can pretend I'll wait till I get married, and instead just wait an extra 18 months and then not use a condom? I mean, that's what happens to teenagers who take purity pledges at least. Jesus doesn't really seem to help them with their "domination of lust" and he certainly doesn't help pedophiles in the Catholic clergy. So why demand of gay men and women what you would never demand of heterosexuals - abstinence for life, with no calling, and no permission even if they do feel called to serve in the church? Because you are bigoted. Yes, Susan, it really is that simple. There is no vast secretive gay conspiracy and the gay agenda is just to be treated as well as straight people. Your hatred holds no place in that agenda. Your hatred is archaic and unwelcome and it is losing traction.
John Paul II said, "If we live according to the truth of our sexuality we fulfill the very meaning of life." God's plan for human sexuality is the answer. With it we can destroy the culture of death and bring a glorious new springtime to the face of the earth.
The truth of sexuality for homosexuals is that they are sexually attracted to people of the same sex (you know, they're gay.) So, if they live according to that truth, maybe they will fulfill their own lives, and damn your meanings all to that hell your so fond of telling me I'm headed to.

Never trust the Vatican on a culture of death when they're the ones keeping AIDS strong in sub-Saharan Africa. When they say they want a culture of life, they want a culture of no prophylactics, no birth control, and no abortion. No thank you!

We will have a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell signed into law (if not yet enacted) this year. We will continue to see more straight Americans stand up for the rights of their queer neighbors. We will grow as a society and accept these civil rights and we will be better for out. Our children and grandchildren will be astonished at the hatred we see today, like we are astonished at the treatment of African-Americans prior to and during the fight for their civil rights.

The best I can say is that Susan and her ilk are among the dinosaurs of thought, and their breed will grow endangered and hopefully one day extinct. Open racism like that displayed by members of the KKK is no longer socially acceptable, and I hope that one day very very soon open homophobia like the Catholic Church's is treated with just as much horror and disgust.

And, as I'd surely be remiss if I didn't include this
Contact Susan Brinkmann at or (215) 965-4615
Peace to all and to all gay rights!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Homophobia: The Untold Story pt. 9

I'm gonna try to wrap this up in the next two posts, because if I try to fit it all in today, this post will be about 50 paragraphs long, and that seems a bit much for even the most devoted Anteater. Let's dive headlong into the muck and bile that makes up "Homosexuality: The Untold Story" by Susan "Bigot" Brinkmann. (Previous posts can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
It's no accident that during this time of immense sexual confusion, God sent us the great gift of Pope John Paul II.
I didn't realize God gifted popes. (Can you return or exchange such a gift?) I thought the Council of Cardinals voted on them. Also, while the Catholic church certainly seems to be confused about sexuality, I don't think the rest of us necessarily are. I know I'm not.
Two-thirds of what the Church has ever said on the subject of human sexuality in her 2000 year history has been said by this Pope. Although he didn't change what the Church teaches, he expounded upon it and put it into a more contemporary language that might better equip Christians to carry the message of Jesus Christ into the modern world. This new way of teaching about human sexuality has come to be known as the "theology of the body."
Wow, that is an undue influence. The massively huge Catholic Church - claiming over a billion living souls as their own - tells people all across the globe what to do with their sex lives, and 2/3 of what it's ever said on the subject came from one solitary man? Did he have his Infallibility Drive turned on the whole time, or are some of these fallible pope statements?
God's Plan for Sexuality
"According to John Paul II, God created the body as a 'sign' of his own divine mystery," explains Christopher West, moral theologian, author and speaker, who is considered an expert on the theology of the body. "This is why he speaks of the body as a theology, a study of God."
Really? I don't remember the Bible saying anything about the body being a "sign" of god's divine mystery. (What is it with Catholics and mystery?) So, is this something Johnny Paul came up with on his own?
Because God Himself is the source of the complementarity of the sexes, when He created man in the image of Himself, he created both a male and a female. They were then directed to "be fruitful and multiply" by becoming "one flesh."
Now hang on a minute, this guy is quoting Genesis and the creation myth. You know - Adam and Eve, that whole thing the Vatican claims is just an allegory? How do you decide which of God's supposed edicts to Adam and Eve were literal quotes from God and which were merely parts of an allegorical myth? There's no discernible criteria I can detect, and I doubt a reliable one exists. Oh, and "complementarity" sounds nice and pleasant till you remember the Catholic church has no respect for women, so when they stress gender differences it isn't in a misguided by well-meant "separate but equal" kind of way. It's in a "Get back in the kitchen and start squatting out youngin's" kind of way. Charming, don't you think?
This was the original vocation of man and woman, to unite their bodies and produce life, but to do so in the "image of God" which means it must bear the following characteristics: it must be free, total, faithful and fruitful.
You know what isn't free? Love that's forced. Gay women love women, and forcing them into marriage and procreation with straight men (or "ex gay men") will not lead to a total or free love. (Likewise, forcing gay men into heterosexual marriage will not make them straight.) I wonder, at what stage in evolution (which the Vatican accepts) did man start to be "in the image of God" and no longer in the image of our evolutionary ancestors?
This teaching was not something invented by the Church but taken directly from Scripture. From the book of Genesis onward, "The Bible uses spousal love more than any other image to help us understand God's eternal plan for humanity," West writes. "God wants to 'marry' us. (Hosea 2:19) to live with us in an 'eternal exchange of love.'"
God wants to marry us like Hosea's cheating whore bride! (I remember reading that book of the Bible when I was about 13 and being absolutely baffled by it.) And what does any of this "God's plan" stuff have to do with the legal rights of homosexual persons to marry, adopt, and provide healthcare for their families? Unlike Vatican City, the United States is not a theocracy (despite the bleatings of many sheep who have no clue what our Founding Fathers thought or wrote on the subject.)
The marital analogy is used because it best describes what God intends for us — to love as He loves, and to be united in that love with an "other" as well as with Him. We were made for love and communion and this desire is inscribed into our very bodies. West calls it the body's innate "language," but it cannot achieve its desire without an "other." Male and female have a built-in desire for an "other"- not a "same."
Except for homosexual males and females who DO have a built-in desire for "same." That's kind of the definition of homosexuality, you twit. I've explained before in other posts why I would not want a love like God's, and why I think it is far inferior to earthly human loves. And I think it's important to remember that the Bible uses the Father analogy an awful lot, too. So, we're supposed to marry our dads, got that?
Authentic Love
But it goes even further. Because humans have a soul, their union should far surpass the mere sense level of animals, and should involve the spirit as well as the body. In other words, it should be love that unites them, not just a physical urge.
I am certain that the love my lesbian friends feel for their partners, and the love my gay friends feel for theirs, is more than "just a physical urge." Again, I wonder, at what point in the evolutionary process do Catholics believe humans aquired souls? Do bonobos monkeys have souls? They share 98% of our DNA. Is our soul located in that 2% of our genome they do not share? How about cows? Do cows have souls? Where on earth do you draw the line when God did not breathe into Adam's lungs after crafting him from the soil? If you accept that we evolved by natural selection (whether you think a god guided that process or not) the arbitrary introduction of a metaphysical supernatural soul for one specific species out of the millions which have ever existed seems suspect. Especially since there is no proof that such a thing as a soul exists.
And this love that unites man and woman is meant to mirror God's love, which has certain characteristics: it is free, total, faithful and fruitful.
Now honestly, where does it say sexual intercourse is supposed to be godly or god-like? Really, I'd like to know. And while you're at it, please give me a reason to suppose whatever book your referencing is worth believing.
As West writes, ". . . .This is exactly what spouses commit to at the altar . . . to give themselves to one another without reservations, to be faithful until death, and to receive whatever children God wishes to send them."
That may be what Catholics vow to, but it is not what all spouses do. According to NARAL, 98% of women in the US use birth control at some point in their lives (which seems high to me as well, given that some women are lesbians and some women don't use birth control for religious reasons.) That means almost all of us are trying NOT to be "fruitful" when we have sex, at least not every time. There are also plenty of loving child-free-by-choice heterosexual couples, who simply do not want or need biological children of their own. Hell, a third of us have even had abortions.

And (despite the Vatican's best efforts) none of those things are illegal in the United States. Birth control pills, condoms, and abortion are all allowed here, while gay marriage is very often not. I'll give the Catholic Church "credit" for being consistent (consistently wrong) on sex. They do oppose ALL forms of sex that aren't actively getting sperm into an egg, including masturbation (although the anal rape of children seems to be okay. I mean, it's gotta be better than spilling your seed on the ground like Onan, right? God killed that guy on the spot, but child rapists are allowed to live out their lives in comfort and anonymity.)
Every time this couple unites themselves in the marital embrace, they are, in a sense, renewing those vows. This is the proper reflection of God's 'marital' love for us, in the 'marital' embrace of those He created in His own image.
Sorry, but you haven't gotten to this yet. How exactly does God's 'marital' love for us result in sexual reproduction of live young, descended from single-celled organisms billions of years ago? While you keep insisting his love is "fruital, faithful" blah blah blah, you haven't shown it in anyway. Don't tell, show.
When one understands the "soul" of Church teaching about human sexuality, it becomes clear why she maintains that homosexuality, as well as adultery, premarital sex, contraception, do not image God's free, total, faithful and fruitful love.
Look, saying over and over again that's God's love is "free, total, faithful and fruitful" is one thing, but actually demonstrating your claims have any basis in reality or hell, even scripture, is quite another. Lazy freaking theologians.

Anything that is a true moral evil must cause some demonstrable harm. Contraception is a demonstrable GOOD. Family planning is good for children. It increases the odds that children born will be wanted, prepared for, and provided for. Masturbation hurts no one until you get a wrist cramp. Premarital sex is every individual's choice to do or not to, and homosexuality is just love pointed in another direction. It is love. How can you so hate love? I just don't get it.
Homosexual unions and the use of contraceptives are not "marital"as God's love is "marital" because they are not fruitful. Premarital sex is not 'marital' because without the self-sacrifice of commitment, it is not total. Adultery is not 'marital' because it is not faithful.
If love is not total without the self-sacrifice of commitment, why won't you let homosexual people get married? Why won't you LET them make that "self-sacrifice?" And, once again ad nauseum, where's the freaking evidence that your god's love is "marital" if "marital" means fruitful, total (which apparently means self-sacrificial), and faithful? Weren't the Israelites once his favorite chosen people and isn't that no longer true according to the teachings of the Catholic Church over several genocidal and anti-semitic centuries? That doesn't seem all that "faithful" to me.
But does it really make a difference if we follow God's plan? The answer to this question can be found in the sad global statistics on divorce, domestic abuse, sexual disease, abortion. "The truth of the Church's teachings on sex is confirmed in the wounds of those who haven't lived it," West writes.
Fact FAIL. It looks like India had the lowest divorce rate of selected countries in this table, with 1%. Perhaps following a Hindu god's plan for marriage is the real key? And let's see, sexual disease is certainly not helped by the Church's teachings on condoms. Oh yeah and abortion? Isn't a social ill, but even if it was, teaching abstinence rather than contraception increases the incidence of abortion. So if you want to prevent abortion, start promoting condoms, and stop trying to convince people that sex isn't fun.

The sacrifice of remaining chaste outside of marriage doesn't seem so bad when one considers the enormous social ills that a chaste lifestyle can prevent. But even more important, by remaining chaste outside of marriage, we keep sexual activity within its intended context.
Actually, remaining chaste does seem pretty bad to me. I don't think it's worth denying my natural healthy human urges and desire fpor intimacy because you think sex is always and only for procreation. I disagree, as do millions of birth control users around the globe.
Any other approach to human sexuality diminishes not only the nature and meaning of married love, but the nature and meaning of God's love as well. Sexuality is reduced to a mere sensation and lacks the true gift of self that constitutes authentic love. The longing for union that is stamped into our very bodies becomes distorted and confused, driving us hither and yon in search of a satisfaction that does not exist outside of God's plan.
Human sexuality does not equal marriage, and marriage does not equal sex. How many times do I have to spell this out? The "longing for union that is stamped" into the bodies of homosexual people is for a union with someone of the same sex. They're GAY, not "distorted and confused." There's a lot of satisfaction to be found in doing it like rabbits with condoms and contraception. There's a lot of satisfaction to be found in intimacy with the one you love. Stop fetishizing fetuses and remember that sex is about the two people doing it, not any gods or future children.

You are wrong on sex, Vatican. You are wrong, and you are rapists.

More tomorrow.

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