Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

It’s not about Jesus

I wrote something to an acquittance of mine, Anna L Davis, in response to a post she wrote and it got me thinking.  I thought about the degree to which being part of a church is not about Jesus.  Anna spoke of a group of former prostitutes who know try to lead other prostitutes to Jesus.  For whatever reason (My morals, of course, intrinsically compromised by my atheism) I don’t like prostitution and I think it is good for women to be lead out of it by people who have been there, regardless of motivation.   She mentioned how she would like to see more of this sort of thing.

I don’t think she will.  Christianity is dying in the west, at rate of about 1% per year.  Do you know what the fastest growing religion is? Wicca. The number of people who identify as Wiccans is doubling every 30 months. (Ref)  So, I offer to concerned Christians everywhere my little guide book to how to keep your church from going the way of the brontosaurus.  You can get Wiccans and other Neopagans (people who believe a fairly arbitrary re-imagining of neolithic and bronze age paganism, only without the blood sacrifice.) to go your church and stay there.

Its profoundly simple, actually.  White suburban does not equal Christian.  Tell me which picture is a group of Christians….

I like how the photo of the Christian teens (it’s taken from the Youth for Christ web page) uses careful lens flash to make the token black guy the whitest one there.   So tell, me what exactly have the goths done wrong here?  They are dressed as modestly as the Christians.  There is no more hair dye, and no more make up on the right then on the left.  You can’t see any skin really, no naughty words, no pentagrams.

But you know, don’t you?  You know instantly they aren’t Christians because they don’t look white bread enough.  Wicca takes these people with open arms.  Wicca says “Your uniqueness is blessed”.  The Christians say, through a tyranny of frowns and subtle digs, that these people aren’t right, no matter how much they love Jesus.  I know someone is reading this and saying “Oh NO! Not I! I would love these people into Christianity. How long could person come to your church dressed like this before someone felt the need to say something to them?  If Christianity wants to exist in another 50 years, then it needs to stop acting like being a Christian means having a Christian image, and needs to start acting like the inside is more important then the image….

Or be content with young people leaving droves from the  hypocrisy.

P.S. If you got this far without ever realizing that only God can see the heart and the group on the left could be Satan worshipers and the group on the right could be local Baptist teen group then you don’t need me to tell you what the problem is.

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December 9, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Audacious Man

I will write my paradigm paper, really. I’m just busy.

A specialist will always beat a generalist in a specialized challenge.  The only time a specialist losses to a generalist is in general challenge.

Specialized challenge: going really fast in a vehicle around a highly embanked well paved track. Winner: race car. Loser: tractor.

Specialized challenge: pulling 40 tons of grain over wet sod for 2 hours on 3 gallons of diesel. Winner: tractor. Loser: race car.

The only time a generalist has chance is when the challenge is general.  This is why we use main battle tanks and not light, medium, and heavy battle tanks.  Battle is a general challenge so a force of all general tanks beats a force of an equal number of special tanks, unless there are special circumstances. Same goes for airplanes.  We are increasingly moving away from force of fighters, attack planes, ground support planes, and light bombers to a single multirole plane which isn’t quite as good of a specialist as any of those, but over all wins the general challenge.

A human, verses any animal specialist will always lose. Apes are better weight lifters, dolphins better swimmers, cheetahs better runners, fleas better jumpers.  We don’t haves as good as hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, or seeing as a veritable zoo of various species. We have one specialty:

We create.

We make tools to make tools to make tools.  Everything we make is a tool.  No other species specializes does creation like us.  This is one of the most important ideas in the world.  This means we are at our most human when we are creating. The “best” human is not the one who knows the most facts, or has the most stuff, or can influence the most people.  The most human human is the one that is the most creative.   This is the human most useful to any society when the game changes, though also the most likely to change the game.

What does this mean? My thanks to Xenophanes for expounding on this back in 500 BC:

The Ethiops say that their gods are flat-nosed and black,
While the Thracians say that theirs have blue eyes and red hair.
Yet if cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw,
And could sculpt like men, then the horses would draw their gods
Like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape
Bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own

And so the Gods of people are…always…creators.

Who is more audacious, the man who believes there is no God, or the man believes his god must be just like him?

December 6, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, poetry, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How I became a happy Atheist

Every year after my birthday, I try to reassess my life. I write down this reassessment so I can read it. I’ve found my memory slants things in my favor and only by writing down my thoughts can I later be sure of exactly what I was thinking at the time. So this post is primarily for me, put out publicly for anyone who might be interested. In essence, I’m reintroducing myself to myself. If you want to get to know me again, this would be a good thing for you to read, if you don’t there won’t be much you haven’t heard already.

I spent most of my life with what you might call a divided self. To some people, I was a good and serious Christian, to others I was a very liberal Christian, to myself I could be either of those two, but there was also a private life hidden from both my serious Christian friends and my nominally Christian friends. There were two parts to this private life as well: there was young man that desired nothing but the satiation of the flesh, and finally caught in the tension of all of this and man who truly hated his very life, and struggled constantly to avoid physical self harm and deep feelings of worthlessness. I was deeply ashamed that I, a Christian felt that way and struggled as much to keep people from finding out how I felt like trash as I did to overcome those feelings.

It made for a complicated life. I thought my parents were the greatest parents on earth and I loved them. At the same time, sometimes I hated them so much it was purely my fear of the punishment of God for disobeying them that kept me at home much past my 16th birthday. If I was going to choose one word to describe my young adult and adult years it would “confused”. I was never sure who was the real me: the serious Christian, the liberal Christian, the sex freak, or person who was prevented from suicide purely because whenever he put a gun to his head he saw his family around his hospital bed as he was in a vegetative state, clucking their tongues and saying “Couldn’t even get that right, could you?”

I was always on the look out for someone who had the answer of how to live the Christian life. I wanted to truly be a Christian more than anything on earth. Adolescent angst turned into adult depression. Frequently, I would wake up before my alarm went off and stare at the ceiling trying to will myself into facing another day of failing to be the man I was supposed to be. Usually I could. Sometimes I could not, and it cost me more then one job.

This would lead me to join a radical Pentecostal group who claimed to have a corner on knowing God. Some would call the group cult-like, and perhaps it was but, in the end it was good for me. For the first time in my life I was honest with people about the feelings I had about myself and others. There was an enormous rush to being that intimate with people emotionally. The feeling, though sexless, is not entirely unlike the feeling of being courted. (I’ve talked to a few cult survivors who say this remains a feature of their live that they now miss.) When the novelty of those wonderful feeling wore off however, I was largely the same person. This became an increasing source of frustration. Further, the church talked a very radical, revolutionary game, but when I started to ask hard questions about when this so called revolution would start, I was ostracized.

A pivotal moment in all of this, was falling in love with my wife’s best friend. Of course, being 24 and her being 22, part of these love feelings including an intense and acute desire to make love to her. Which at first, made me hate myself more then I knew was possible. It would hardly seem that this could work for good? But it did. Through long conversations with my wife about my feelings, we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t feelings that were wrong but the actions you took with them. That being the case, I just ignored the sex drive and enjoyed loving someone. Always I had seen my desire for sex with a woman I was not married to as sick and twisted, and myself as perverse for having such feelings. Now, I accepted those feelings and enjoyed them but chose not to act on them. This was the beginning of a life of much less self hatred.

This new life of believing that I was worthy of love changed what I expected from a church. I now wanted to be treated as a peer. This didn’t sit well with the somewhat cult-like church we went to. The last straw was when I quit my job (to avoid temptation, long story) and no one would help us. Further, I was reading the Bible as a whole document looking for the whole story rather then reading individual passages to see what I could make it say. Our church wasn’t even close.

We had moved to the inner city to be closer to the people we were supposed to be saving. I sat on the stoop listening to the gun fire and the sirens. I realized that every stupid thing I had ever done was because I thought someone besides me would take care of me, yet here I was unemployed in the projects of Kansas City. I had a high enough ACT score to get into MIT and I was waiting tables and living three doors down from a crack house.

I decided I would start taking care of myself, and that such a thing would glorify God. I also still wanted to help people in the inner city, and it looked to me (after 2 years of hearing about transformation that I never saw) that hard working people getting money into the crappy schools would go a lot farther then prayer meetings.

I joined the Air Force (same pay as the other branches but least chance of getting shot and most time at home). I joined a very sincere Christian who had reached one simple conclusion: If one was going to consistent with ALL of scripture instead of just the parts they liked, then God was a radically different person then most people thought.

It’s unfortunate in many ways that I deconverted after joining, because I think a lot of people have the idea the military experience is what made me an atheist. Not at all. I joined, as I said, primarily to make enough money to make a difference. I came into the military a Christian. It was not the Air Force life that deconverted me but careful study of Scripture and the history of the early church.

That study lead me to believe that one of three things must be true (1.) There is no God. (2.) There is a God but he actively hides from those who seek him (3.) There is a God and I personally can see no evidence because he doesn’t want me to. In any of those three cases, this life on earth is the highpoint of my existence as I am either bound toward nothing or hell.

Logic says to believe the idea which requires the least invention to work. I could invent a God that cannot be found with the scientific method, or say there is no God. I chose no God. I prayed a final prayer, “Lord if you are real, I came to this conclusion with the brain you gave me and the best facts I could get. If you are real and I am wrong, then please keep my daughter and don’t hold my sin against her. I’m going to be true to myself and admit I don’t see you.”

After this, everything got better. (A subject I have blogged on extensively.) I didn’t ache inside because I wasn’t failing anymore. I stopped pretending I was a Christian, so now I had one kind of friends: the kind that liked me for me. Three months later, I woke up and was getting ready for work. I felt strange and it took me some reflection to realize why: I couldn’t remember the last time I woke up so depressed that I couldn’t go to work.

I didn’t immediately “come out” as an atheist. In my life I have been many things and what I am really excited about today is not something that will necessarily have great meaning to me in 6 months or a year or 5 years. I quietly worked out things. One of the things I really struggled with was the meaning of life in the absence of God. Christianity is a pre-packaged world view, the paradigm equivalent of a Lunchable. Atheism is merely a theology. Eventually, two things would move me. The first was existentialism. Sadly, since most existentialists are big philosophy geeks, existentialism has a huge image problem. Existentialism does not say that life is meaningless (that would be nihilism), on the contrary existentialism says life can have great purpose: the purpose you give to it.

This helped me understand some of the great confusions of my life. What meaning did my relationships have? The meaning I chose to give them. Guilt I had carried over an ex-fiance for years melted away. But what of the indifferent universe that I now believed I lived in? Well, when I spoke of this to the very wise Doctor Karen Stollznow, she said, Israel, rocks and trees may be indifferent, but we as humans are generally surrounded by human beings who are as authentic parts of this universe as the sun or the earth. Because people can make the choice to care, the universe is not indifferent.

During this period (around this time last year) I began to really hate my parents. I was profoundly bitter with Christianity and I blamed my parents for raising me in it. That was stupid. We’ve talked since and worked it out largely. Though not bitter, I remain slightly miffed at Christianity. I’m 29 years old and it has only been the last few years that I have had a normal sexual relationship. I’ve been in a sexual relationship since I was 22, however it wasn’t normal or healthy until fairly recently as atheism and existentialism helped me come to healthy view about myself. Sex is not very important to some people and incredibly important to others. I am the latter, and it irritates me that I spent the first 25 years of my life when unhealthy, ineffective thoughts and actions regarding sex because of Christianity.

A note here, when I say “Christianity” I am not referring to a code of ethics based on the Gospels, but the unique expression of American, politically conservative protestantism as I understood it. I have talked to many people since deconverting that managed to believe psychologically healthy things as well as Christianity. They managed to believe everything I do, yet do so with a paradoxical belief largely at odds with scripture. More power to them, I’m not mad at them anymore either. (For awhile I was jealous of their ability to keep all the pleasant trapping of Christianity without the madness, but I’ve come to accept that they can do it and I can’t)

This is largely the complete story of how I got to where I am. Next post I will tell you myself (and you all) where here is.

November 27, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Science, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inventing Government

I like to invent things (even if only on paper) and I do so in spurts of enthusiam for different things.  For the last year or so, my enthusiam has been about religion and government.

General, cultural Christianity as well as my personal upbringing, instilled in me the paradoxical idea that government is (omnipresent) God in abstentia, along with some other conflicting ideas like freedom being a gift from God, but only for good people not for undesirables like homosexuals or the inner-city poor.   These ideas were among the many that burned off like fog in the sun when I de-converted.

But it left me with a ticklish problem.  If the purpose of government wasn’t the “or else” in the statement “Obey God’s rules, or else!” what was it? I studied different ideologies and rejected them one by one.  Some ideologies contained more truth than others, but ultimately I found a lot of them were based on false premises, and unconfirmable or unconfirmed data.

Since I’ve been fascinated by revolutionary movements since I was child (When I was 9, I planned out an eloborate and violent coup of my school giving it up not out of moral qualms  but because I realized ultimately, any resistance I offered adults would not result in children being granted our constititional rights, but serve as pretext to steal the few we had.) I had decent working knowledge of revolutionary movements, further enhanced by some pretty hard reveiw of revoltionary movements I undertook to offer advice to my so called “revolutionary church”.

This knowledge served me well, as world history is the story of the revolutionary movements that worked.   Even within the scope of revolutions that effectively won, most revolutionary movements struggle enormously with the task of switching from David to Goliath.

War represents a reversal of normal values.  Normally killing people and taking their stuff is socially condemned, in war, it is applauded.  Civil war is worse because it is more specific.  Normally killing your neighbor is socially condemned, in civil war, it is applauded.  The same key that increases a revolutionary movements’ chance to succeed increases the revolutionary movements’ chance to successfully transition for revolutionary movement to rule. That key is how the members respond to the entrenched ideology of the existing government.

People gather together around ideologies, from NASCAR tailgating parties, to the ritual cannibalism of the Eucharist.  If a revolutionary movement gathers under hating the existing system, it is gathering around hate and no change of system will change the organized , systemic, rage.  Most likely the hate will destroy unit discipline within the revolutionary cabal and it will collapse into organized crime and terrorism. (Al-qaeda and the Tamil Tigers). Should the the hate-based group stay organized under a strong and ruthless leader (such as Lenin) as well as defeat the existing government, it will transition to power by entrenching the existing system at the point of a gun.  This is why so many revolutionary movements become everything they abhor.

Contrariwise,  if a revolutionary movement gathers around the postive change that it wants to make, it can often become a competeing voice in the existing system, growing in legitimacy and power.  Should it succesfully overthrow the incumbent government, it has a post-revolution plan.  Since the people revolting were gathered around something besides destruction they tend to have better idea of what to do with power once they have it.  For an object lesson on this,  juxtipose the American to the French revolution.

The government classes I had studied as outstanding young Christian gentleman were centered on what was wrong with the existant American system.  They offered no plan, no system, no roadmap for post-change improvement.  It was believed, I think, that no roadmap was nessisary.  When things were “made right” God would magically make everything work.  Question: Why did terrorists attack? Answer: Because we we’re too soft on queers and babykillers.   When we stopped allowing shows like “Will and Grace” to be broadcast and made abortion illegal, or at worst difficult to get, then the terrorism situation would improve in the total absence of systemic change.

So I addressed my desire to understand government, and the flaws I percieved in various ideolgeous by trying to invent a new government.  I won’t make any argument against the componants of the existant system until I can offer a better peice.  Not a peice I feel better about, mind you, but one that does the componants’ function better.

And finally, it must be remembered we speak of a system here.  By definition, systems are interconnected.  If 3 foot rail gauge is better than Standard for a rail system, you can’t make one line narrow gauge and expect improvement.  Systems must be integrated fully to function at all.  Thus, I can’t offer a single better peice to governmental theory.  In the absence of total systemic improvement, individual peicemeal improvements are actively destructive.

I’m trying to invent a whole new government from the ground up, with consistancy and reason throughout.  It’s the largest, and most encompassing inventing I’ve tried.

July 1, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Super Athiest

I have an online acquaintance who is disabled.  She speaks often of a struggle she has, which she calls the “Super Cripple” complex.  (Read her blog here).  Are you familiar with positive stereotypes? A positive stereotype is a belief which infers imaginary abilities to a group or subgroup, such as black people being better at sports or Asians being better at math, etc.

She deals daily with the struggle to accept herself as she is, rather than a Hallmark Movie caricature of herself crafted of positive stereotypes. She calls this caricature “Super Cripple”.  SC never gets tired of campaigning for human rights. SC can wheel-up gradual stairs.  SC is super, she doesn’t need help from ANYBODY!  The reality, of course, is that disabled means “less able” and she does need help.  The real strength is accepting the reality of needing help, rather than trying to pretend she doesn’t by playing the fictional part of SC.   Accepting this every day remains a challenge for her.

My struggle, or one of them, is to not be Super Atheist.  Super Atheist finds purpose and joy without God or religion.  Super Atheist doesn’t need faith; Super Atheist has reason!  Super Atheist never believes sincerely with one part of his mind something that another part of his mind knows is actually false.  Super Atheist finds happiness in holidays like Easter and Christmas, because even though he knows there is no God to celebrate, he is with his family and that is what really counts.  Super Atheist never wants to go to church, or take communion, or pray for the broken of the world. Super Atheist can do anything!

But the thing is, I’m not Super Atheist.  I miss the comfort of the God hypothesis.  The idea that I am here for a capital “P,” Purpose, a participant in a grand narrative.  I miss the afterlife hypothesis.  The idea that what we do on earth has a greater meaning than the handful of lives we touch, and that evil which is not caught in the here and now, will someday be punished in the after life.

I miss crappy church.  I miss getting dressed up and going and singing once a week.  I miss real church…a lot.  I miss sitting in a room full of adopted family, and singing and praying and feeling loving and loved.

I miss speaking in tongues and the emotional high that it brings.  Actually, come to mention that, I really miss it.  Someone would come forward and we would all put them in a group hug.  We’d all go around the circle and “pray a message of God’s heart for that person” which amounted to telling the person how valuable they were, how loved, how special.  It felt great to do and to have done to you. Then we’d pray in tongues.  The reason part of the brain idles down, and the emotional part revs up.   I’ve never taken 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (Ecstasy) but speaking in tongues seems to have the exact same effects.   From wikipedia:

  • Mental and physical euphoria
  • A sense of general well-being and contentedness
  • Decreased negative emotion and behavior such as stress, anxiety, fear, and paranoia
  • Increased sociability and feelings of communication being easy or simple
  • Increased urge to communicate with others.
  • Increased empathy and feelings of closeness or connection with others
  • Reduced insecurity, defensiveness, and fear of emotional injury
  • Decreased irritability, aggression, anger, and jealousy
  • A sense of increased insightfulness and introspection
  • Mild psychedelia (colors and sounds are enhanced, mild closed-eye visuals, improved pattern recognition, etc)
  • Enhanced tactile sensations (touching, hugging, and sex for example all feel better) Ask any married Pentecostal if you don’t believe me, by the way, sex after praying in tongues is an amazing spiri-sexual experience.)

And I miss them all.  Above all I miss feeling like I was apart of something really special:  a 2000 year old Royal guard, still fighting the rebels to have the kingship of the true and most high King recognized.  There is a romance to words like “Kingdom”, “Knight of the Cross”, “Sacred purpose”, “Most High”  that words like “country”, “community advocate”, “special reason”, and “President” simply cannot match.  Though administratively identical, they are rhetorically worlds apart.

I am not Super Atheist.  I confess, I have a desire in my heart to gather with believers, to sing songs of worship, reverence, sorrow, penitence, and heroic victory.  I long to kneel, to dip the broken crust in the wine, to speak the words of my heart to a friend and Lord.  My only caveat is that he not be imaginary.  I desperately want to sing, worship, kneel and gather my community around a real God.

I long for a god, a religion, a purpose, and grand narrative.  I long for everything worthy religion gives man.  My disbelief in God is not the result of a lack of longing, but a lack of God.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Jesus Suicide (Trigger warning)

I stumbled onto a blog the other day called Textual Fury.  It’s the daily musing of a woman named Kateryna.  I wish I could say the blog is great, but I’m afraid that if I just said it’s great, you might get the wrong idea.  Kat is a truth speaker.  Sometimes truth is beautiful, sometimes it’s as ugly as death.  Because she just writes the truth, the subject matter is occasionally ghastly.

I’ve written about my parents before.  I spent about three blogs attacking them.  Upon reflection, I realized that wasn’t fair or right and publicly apologized.  I’ve said before my parents never abused me, not verbally, not emotionally, not physically, not sexually.  Kat’s parents did, frequently and regularly.  While my parents weren’t perfect (none are), anything my parents did wrong was well meaning harm, rooted in sincere love.  Kat’s father was a monster, and her mother both enabled the physical and sexual abuse as well as actively pursuing her own emotional abuse.  I was never anywhere near anything that compares.

Yet when Kat talks about how she felt about herself and what she did to herself, self loathing, self harm, suicidal thoughts, suicidal actions, she could be reading my journal entries from not so many years ago.  She is survivor and a victim of abuse of a kind I could not even imagine had I not read her blog.  I try to wrap my mind around this.  I carry almost none of the scars that she does, yet had the same level of self hatred and self destruction.  I, with my basically good family, her with her sick one, both came to believe that we were trash.  What possible environmental condition could we have shared?

We were raised in Christian homes.  Her father wanted her raised in a Christian home to make her easier to control and harm.  My parents wanted me raised in a Christian home because they love me and wanted to protect me.  I think most people who are Christians and want their kids to be Christians do so with true hearts of love.  It is this love, and not scripture, which is good for children.

The beauty that can be made of  Christianity in spite of scripture, does not, however, change what scripture says.  It says first that you are worthy of eternal torture.  Let’s look at the torture first.  Burns are one of the most painful things the body can experience.  The Bible, in too many places to mention, says hell is a place of eternal fire.  Imagine being doused in gas and lit on fire.  Now imagine that it never stops.  Imagine as your flesh burns away, it is healed so you can keep enduring it forever.  As you scream and cry and besoil yourself…remember, you deserve this.

The most foundational aspect of Christianity is that you deserve to be burned alive forever.  What do you suppose truly believing such a thing does to a person?  You can’t believe that you are valuable, special, or worthy of love and believe such a thing.

Ah, the Christian contends, surely not.  You accept that Jesus loved you before you were even born.  So, to accept that, you must accept the fact that love can include torturing someone almost to the edge of death, then stopping at death so you can torture them some more.  After all God said you had to go there and he loves you.

Having accepted that, you may now rejoice! If you believe that Jesus is God you are saved, accept you’re not.  Because the demons in hell believe that and tremble at the mention of His name.  Faith must be shown in works (James 2).  Do works save?  No.  They reveal what is inside.  Real salvation is accompanied by a real change.  But how much change is “real change”.  The Bible says that people have raised the dead in Jesus name and still had to go to Hell.   You’ll never know, so you will have to keep working and working, constantly asking yourself, “Is this enough?”

So, you are a horrible disgusting murderer (you killed Christ), the greatest love includes the threat “Or I’ll burn you alive for ever.”  And finally, you will live under the constant threat of hell.  You will never know if the actions you are taking are personally costly enough (actions taken in God’s name to advance yourself rather than God are punishable by death).  You will keep suffering and suffering, waiting for God to pour out his promised blessings upon you.

This is a recipe for madness.  Convincing people of a horrible guilt, twisting the meanings of common concepts like “love” or “justice” until they mean the opposite, and creating constant stress of never knowing what is going to happen next are text book methods of control.  It worked for Stalin.

Does this mean all Christians are evil?  Not at all.  Most Christians are wonderful people who really want to the make the world a better place.  They subconsciously focus on the best parts of scripture, the savability of man, universal love, and the siblinghood of all people.  But Christian doctrine in its raw state, rather than sanitized for mass consumption, is a road of worthlessness and self harm to the individual and manifesto of abuse to the predator.

Accidentally and in spite of the hard work and compassion of rank and file believers, the doctrine of the Bible when practiced literally, rather then re-written by modern psychological norms, is a doctrine of violence and abuse.

April 9, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Rape 1

rubens_rape1

I’ve wanted to write a post about rape for awhile now, but it’s a pretty hard topic to write about. I’ve never been raped though I have been sexually assaulted a few times. I want to write about it because I want some discussion on it from my readers. If you never comment on anything else, this is the blog. Unfortunately, I have my usual problem of with holisticness. I can’t talk about rape without talking about gender, sex, feminism, and society. This means a lot of variables which introduce a lot more chance for me to accidentally spew bullshit.

(The purpose of my blog is to purge myself of bullshit. I am out here, saying to the whole world, “Hey, call my bullshit.” So, readers, if I say some total crap, be gentle. I’m here to learn.) Now that that’s out of the way…

When I was in high school, it was incredibly important to me to develop my world view. I’m not sure if my experiences are unique to me, if all young Christian me, all young Christians, or all teens in general feel this pressure to have an opinion on everything. I think because of Christianity, I was in a group of people who believed that they had special revelation about how the world should work, the pre-packaged world view I and other de-cons have mentioned before. The church calls this having a ready answer. I also believe that the rationality that my father taught me as a method for interpreting scripture helped me to be a rational thinker. It was important to me to have an answer that was really defensible.

I believed that rape was a crime, a terrible one that should be punished with death, but only in the case of real rape. A wonderful American girl with good clean hobbies, perfect teeth and and well earned scholarship to a small, but challenging private college, is snatched out of parking garage and raped after a prolonged fight with her assailant.

But in the news a lot was something called date rape. A woman would dress like a prostitute, let a man get her drunk, take her home, get her naked, and then say no. Well, that wasn’t rape at all, she acted like she wanted sex, then got upset when she got what she had, through her actions, asked for all night. I wasn’t sure how this should be treated, but certainly it didn’t deserve the death penalty. This could not be what God intended when he said that a rapist should be killed. If fact, the Torah says that a woman who is raped where others can hear her, and doesn’t yell for help must herself be stoned. (Deuteronomy 22:24)

I remember the scuff about Clarence Thomas, and similar stories, and the consensus among my peers was that these girls hadn’t really been raped, because they were asking for what they got. I remember the humorous incredulity in regard to news story of prostitute who had been raped. You can’t rape a prostitute, we reasoned, you can only rob her by not paying her afterward.

So, now I am an atheist. One of the things I have done is try to examine the claims of people who’s view I rejected outright before. Some I have found that I still reject their ultimate thesis, Muslims, for instance. But feminists surprised me. I found that while I don’t agree with everything they say, I can test many of the basic theories of feminists with a skeptical eye and burden of evidence, and that these theories pass.

You might notice I said “girls” in reference to the alleged victims of rape. I know that they were over 18. Yet, they are called girl, for the same reason that a 50 year old black man is called boy. An unconscious display of power, a statement of the hierarchy, a re-establishment of pecking order. I know now that what this is, and I try to eliminate such patterns from my writing and speech. And the feminist taught me a lot about rape.

First, most rapes are not what I described above as “real” rape (though it too is real). That would more appropriately be called “Hollywood rape.” It’s quite rare. The place where most rape happens: a woman’s own bedroom. The person most commonly raping them? Someone they trust; how do you think they got in the bedroom? Now, I know some people will read this and think to themselves, oh well that’s not real rape.

Rape by someone they trust in their own bed? That can’t possibly be real rape because that wouldn’t happen to nice girls. Whether you realize it or not, if you are going to be really honest with yourself, if you think that sort of rape isn’t real, it is because you have decided that a girl in her bedroom with a man she trusts is already guilty of wanting sex, so she can’t be upset about the man giving it to her. I used to believe that, so it is with some authority that I say, how mind bogglingly stupid.

Imagine going to a hospital and saying you are interested in a vasectomy. You talk to the doc for about an hour, you take the brochure, and you get up to walk out. At the door, the doctor shoves a needle into your left buttock. You instantly don’t feel right, you turn around and fall. As the world goes black and you become increasing powerless you feel the doctor pulling your pants off. You wake up, and you have a vasectomy. You’re not going to sue are you? After all, you’d been asking for it for an hour.

Two women both go to Applebee’s. They both go with someone they trust and care about. They both dress quite revealingly for the pleasure of being seen. They both get quite tipsy. They both get taken home and carried to their bed by their date. One is raped. One is not. What’s the difference between the two situations? The addition of a fucking rapist.

It’s not the way they dressed. It’s not the way they talked. It’s not the drinks they had. The only thing that got one women raped, the only thing that made the situation something terrifying and twisted was the addition of rapist. The problem is not the victim, the problem is the rapist.

Not every man is a rapist, in fact most aren’t.  The problem is not the woman.  The problem is not men.  The problem is rapists.

March 4, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Politics, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

An athiests friends.

It’s rare that I write so little.  I’m so ridiculously busy of late.  Full time student and full time employment.  Yesterday I was switched from 12 hour nights to 12 hour days.  I was so tired when I got home I could barely eat supper.  Then instead of playing with my daughter I let her watch a movie while I slept on the couch.  Then I got up, put her to bed, and went to bed.  I slept 11 hrs and 45 minutes.  Now, it’s breakfast and I could eat a horse raw.

I’m coming out on the other side of arguing atheism with my parents.  I mean, obviously, they think I’m wrong, but it’s not quite as painfull as it was before.  I’ve only got 2.5 more weeks of class and then I’m done with class for a month.  (I messed up signing up for the next session.)  I’m thinking about friendship.  Becoming an atheist and telling my friends has really been a tough row to hoe.  It means talking the total honesty that I give my wife and expanding it to the rest of the people I care about.  It means being really vulnerable to people.

And some friends have responded really well.  Some haven’t.  Some have responded so well, actaully, that I am closer to them then ever before, my brother and sisters for instance and my friend Jason.  Others have responded with fear and a sort of emotional hardshell.  They’re there, but they’re not.

And it makes me think about heaven.  I wish I could believe that there is this perfect place that we could go to when we die.  I wish over didn’t have to mean over, but honestly I think when your gone, your just gone.  So am gentler to my wife, and more cuddly with my kid.  I wonder though, I sat and tried to work through something with an old friend yesterday, is it worth it?

When my life on earth is a just short few years do I really want to work through stuff with people who only tolerate me, when they’re are people who really love know me and I really love knowing?  And why don’t I work harder to make new friends?  Why can’t have more friends like my wife, like Jason, like Alex?  People who love me from who I am instead of inspite of it?

February 5, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A last letter to my fundamentalist parents.

Dear Mom and Dad,

This is, I think, the last blog about this. I don’t blog everything, just things that I need extra eyes on to see if I am communicating clearly, and properly understanding the responses. I never intended this blog to become the huge issue it did. The great advantage to blogging, and why I started in the first place, is that I have a written record of my thoughts. I didn’t have a direction when I wrote the first blog about you guys, and it certainly wasn’t supposed to be a personal attack, though now reading a week later, I can see that it very clearly seems to be a personal attack.

My point (though I didn’t know it at the time) was not to say “OH you bad people! You HURT me.” My point was only that I was that I hurt. I don’t want you to apologize for hurting me, because I never thought it was intentional. Really, all I wanted was for you to agree with me that you had done something wrong. You don’t have to feel bad for doing something wrong, what good would that do? I mean, some of this stuff was almost two decades ago. But when you didn’t write back and say something to the effect of “You’re right. We messed those things up.” Then, I did want to say “You bad people!” because I was pissed at you for not doing what I wanted. Reasonable response to frustration, but not really helpful. Buried in these things I did really want to say were some pointless little stabs that I really didn’t mean to say, I was just mad. I’m sorry about that.

It doesn’t really answer the question of why it was so important to me to have you know that you hurt me. I had to think about that for awhile. See, I want to be your friend. I’ll always be your son, and I’m proud to be. But unlike being your child, which will never change and is just the way things are, friendship is a choice. I came to the conclusion that we are not friends, which hurt a lot. That was first blog. (My beloved…). For us to be friends, we have to start off afresh, and so I wanted to prove that we were never friends, which was the second blog (A letter to my fundamentalist parents). It was the process of writing those and reading your response that brings me to this blog.

You guys did your best as parents. I plan on making some improvements as I raise mine, but you did the best you could and that’s all a person can ever ask. I’m able to make these improvements because you did a significantly better job raising me than your parents did raising you, so as I said, you did good. I’m an adult now and I want to be your friend. To do that you’ve got to know me, or at least want to. I complain that you never knew me and put the responsibility entirely on you. Some of it is your fault, but some of it is honestly mine. I began hiding the parts of my personality that you would find less palatable around the time I was 9. Now, I can rail against you for not creating an environment where I felt comfortable being myself, but it was 20 years ago. Me carping will not change anything. I don’t need you to apologize, I only need you to agree that you did create an environment where I was uncomfortable being myself.

I need that, because if you don’t think you did anything wrong, I can’t be your friend. If someone hurts you and says “That didn’t hurt, you just think it did” you can’t trust them. Dad, I feel like your response to my last blog said “Yup, we understand that we hurt you, and we understand that wasn’t OK.” That’s all I need from your side. Mom, I love you, and I will continue to tell you so, but I have a hard time trusting you, for a totally different reason. I know that hurts, but here’s why. (edit: Mom, I wish I hadn’t brought this up in the first place.  I bring it up now only because by since I already said it I am sort of committed now.   I love you and I’m sorry about this.) You told me that your dad repeatedly “spanked” you till you passed blood had bloodied welts.  And you told me that’s OK because you deserved it. And you told me that if front of other people. I’ll always be your son, but it’s hard to really be your friend. Friends, good ones at least, love each other, and when I tell you I love you, I know that to you, part of loving you can include beating the hell out of you. You being OK with that makes loving you feel a little cheaper to me. There will always be little hole in our relationship, not because you told me you were abused, but because you told me you deserved it. Until you can tell me that what happened to you wasn’t OK, it’s hard for me think that your definition of a relationship being OK is going to be good for you and me being friends.

That’s your side, and it just leaves mine. I’ve doubted Christianity since I was about 9. Not because of you and dad, but because the way my brain works. My brain doesn’t run on faith, it never has. My brain is wired for evidence, either by an evolutionary process or by a God with a deeply ironic sense of humor. I never believed I was saved for more than a few hours after my conversion, which I did many times. I never had any experience which I though God was the most likely explanation of. Deep down, I knew that, but I wouldn’t let it up.

I didn’t realize I was lying to myself of course, I thought I was being a good Christian and pushing away my doubts. But I was lying to myself, and in the process, I lied to the people closest to me. Despite the Bible’s teachings, Christian does not just mean one who has faith in Christ. “Christian” today means a slew of likes and dislikes, and political leanings, and generally, really bad music. I was never good at the faith part, but I was awful at the other part. If you want to be my friend, you are going to have to accept all of me, not just the parts that turned out like you hoped. A child is respectfully silent when you are wrong. A friend isn’t. A child hides the things that you disapprove of. A friend doesn’t. I like to have a glass of wine, or a beer once in awhile, I enjoy a cigar occasionally, and from time to time I enjoy looking at pornagraphy. When I feel it is the best method of communication, I curse like a sailor. These are things which I know my liking makes you uncomfortable, but I am a package deal . This is what I am, and I will make no apology for being me, and it is your choice to be friends with me or not.

If not, I will still call, I will love you. You’re my family. But personally, I’d like more. I don’t ever expect you to agree with me about atheism. Nor would I wish it. I got here by a process. I don’t want you believe in atheism because I like it, nor would I wish that process upon anyone, though I am glad I went through it. I don’t ever expect you to respect my destination. I hope someday we’ll be good enough friends that you respect my journey.

You Son, Israel

January 24, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Small Car, Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Letter to my fundementalist parents.

Continue reading

January 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 6 Comments