Monday, May 28, 2012

The Sisterhood of the Hidden Dagger

I have gotten so used to posting every day that it is going to be tough neglecting my blog again, but more pressing IRL concerns start back up again tomorrow.  I am excited, a little scared, but deep in my spirit I feel....

quiet confidence.

I hope this turns out to be the appropriate feeling.  I have some reservations about being in a trade school vs. regular college, and they are all social.  I will have the same nineteen classmates for the whole 2 1/2 years, and the same two instructors.  In most situations, if someone annoys you (classmate or teacher) you can just clam up and get through the class/semester.  Not this time.  There's not even a day to cool off between classes.  Here's to Buddha and detachment! My plan is to be as Zen as possible while in class.

This will be all new to me.  I am by nature enthusiastic, outspoken, and (not bragging, it is what it is) smart.  I love learning.  I really get a thrill out of understanding new concepts.  It's not a chore to learn, it's a treat.  Here's hoping I can keep myself out of the limelight most of the time.  Even as I type those words out, I know I will have very limited success.  But hopefully, I will be better at it than in the past, with my newly begun practice of yoga to guide me.

Eighteen of my fellow students are women.  Most of them are close to my age.  I don't know if this will be a plus or a minus.  Growing up, I generally got along better with guys than gals.  I didn't understand why then, but I'm pretty sure I do now. 

I am no threat to guys. Men still have a distinct advantage over women in all fields, and fields traditionally held by women are no exception.  A guest  instructor for the shadowing course I had to take this summer was very open and free with her opinions on everything.  One of those opinions she candidly shared was that male nurses are better nurses than female nurses.  She is, of course, a Southern Baptist, so no surprise that she would defer to men in all things.  Still, it was very unnerving to see her be open about her own misogyny.

I am a threat to the other women in the class.  That has been my experience throughout my life.  It has been my daughter's experience.  It is probably the experience of smart and decent-looking women everywhere.  I briefly fantasized that there might be a sense of sisterhood in the career world that was missing in the realm of the stay at home mom, home schooling or otherwise.  

Well, there is: the Sisterhood of the Hidden Dagger.  It's not going to be any different than public school was, I'm sure. The only women who will befriend me are those who don't feel threatened by me.  All others will be ready to believe any gossip about me, any ugly rumor, and may even start some of their own.  I am not a pessimist by nature, but I know this is a very real danger in this social setting.

If I were very overweight, or were less than average attractive (not that I'm "smoking hot" or anything, far from it, but my face doesn't scare children), then no doubt some if not most of these women would befriend me.  If I were a B student, or even a C student, no doubt those in the same GPA area would befriend me.  Of course, if I were a conservative religious person like I was for so many years, that would probably help in this particular school.  But I'm not.

I'm smart, ambitious, fit, and while I won't be attending any functions that the Romneys would attend, my husband makes just enough money to keep us in the less affluent end of an affluent neighborhood.  I plan on using all this to my benefit, but I also plan on being as quiet about my advantages as I can.  Jealousy and spite lead to gossip, and ugly gossip has torpedoed many a woman, including myself. 

This sort of behind the scenes back-stabbing is oft practiced in Christian circles, so in this rural trade school in the South, I can expect  that my peers are well-versed in it.  I have been a victim too many times to count, and while in the past the "prize" women were vying for wasn't worth enough for me to stand my ground, this time it is.  Enjoy your positions in church and so-called "Christian" home school circles, back-stabbing gossips.  You won your little patch of ground.  I am moving on to bigger things.

And this time, I will not be marginalized or deterred from my goal.  I already know it's going to be hard to keep from being outed as a threat.  Even keeping your mouth shut is seen as a threat to someone spouting off opinions left and right.  By not agreeing openly, they know you are disagreeing privately.  I am just praying that enough of the job sites will be here in the city that I won't have to worry about it much.  

At the rural hospitals, I know there will be whole departments filled with anti-abortion, elitist, homophobic white Southern women.  Not my favorite, as you might have guessed.  My secret weapon here will be daily prayer and morning yoga before I leave for work.  My next strategy: proclaim at every opportunity that I am looking forward to taking a travelling job when I graduate.  This will calm people that I will not be competing with them for local jobs.  It has the advantage of not being completely false, because I will follow the money so I may very well take a travelling job.

Another strategy is to talk up moving to Florida when my husband retires, and pointing out that he is older than me so I'll still be working.  Also true and not true.   He is older than me and I will still be working after he retires, but he's not THAT much older than me.  

The final strategy, and the one on which all the rest hinges, is to not friend anyone from school on facebook.  In fact, I may even have to shut down my facebook account.  It's already private, and I go back and hide past posts pretty regularly.  I know that one of the two instructors stalks her students on facebook; she already lectured us that if we put on anything negative about her she would find out and have it on the overhead projector when we got to class the next day.  

I am not sure exactly how to handle this facebook situation.  It's possible I may rub the instructor the wrong way by not adding anyone from class as a friend.  I plan to say something like: I prefer to keep my private and professional life separate.  Or I could create a new account for school only using my intials instead of my name, but my name is so unique people would probably still try to friend me on both.  Not happening.  Not. Happening.

Suggestion are welcome, if any of you have some for me.  Otherwise, I probably won't post again for awhile.  Wish me luck and happiness, and know I wish  the same for you.  Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Sunday, May 27, 2012

How can you "not believe in" reality?

This is such a great post that I'm linking to, very long though so I won't say much myself in addition to passing on the link.

For many years, when I believed that being homosexual was a sin rather than a sliver of humanity like being tall, prone to freckle, or having exceptional athletic ability, I could not understand why the rest of the world considered my opinion "hate".   I was very offended at being called full of hate.

 "No!" I would say, parroting the evangelical line, "I don't hate gay people, I hate the sin of homosexuality.  I love the people.  And anyway, why do you care that I think it's a sin?  How I live my life is none of the community-at-large's business.  I have freedom of religion!"

Of course I would never say that about my son's freckles*:

"Oh I love my son, I just hate his freckles.  If only he would stop freckling and tan like normal people he would find freedom and joy.  As soon as he stops freckling, he will be accepted and welcomed.  But first he needs to stop that unnatural freckling.  It's a sin to freckle, the Bible says so: just plug "without spot" into Bible Gateway King James Version and it's all there  plain as day.  Sacrifices with spots were unacceptable; Paul says in Ephesians that the Lord is only coming for a bride without spot.** No spots allowed.  All he has to do is stop freckling.  There are even ministries that will help him choose to stop freckling, or at least help him come to grips with the fact that he must live his entire life indoors, while wearing heavy sunscreen, so no one ever knows that he freckles."

Here's the link:

Why "I don't believe in that" is unacceptable

* When the creators of South Park decided to create an episode that pointed out the ridiculousness of excluding and condemning people based on unchangeable human characteristics, they chose this same scenario.  Instead of inspiring people to stop the exclusion and ridicule, American school children began to bully people with freckles too.  The Ginger Kids episode, meant to expose the stupidity of intolerance and abuse, instead brought about an internet campaign, Kick a Ginger Day, that promoted violence against people with red hair and freckles.  Google "kick a ginger day" and "hug a ginger day" to see how bad it actually got.

**(and without wrinkles too: does this mean women who have cosmetic surgery are sanctified, while women with wrinkles are not?  New moral dilemma!  Ack!).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bullies: It's not just a school problem

Taylor Swift captured the essence of bullying in her song "Mean".  P!nk minsters directly to the heart of the bullied in her song "F**kin' Perfect".  Both songs are huge hits.  Unfortunately, it's because bullying is such a huge part of the American experience.  With 84% of Americans claiming adherence to religious faith, and a whopping 78% claiming to be "Christian", why is this?  Could it be that church is where bullies are made, groomed, and continue their post-school reign of terror?

I feel like I am waking up from a bad dream, only to find I'm still dreaming.  That's what it was like at my last church: it was so egalitarian (I thought), welcoming to all (I thought), and finally (I thought) I'd finally found a place where people took the words of Christ seriously.  The reality? I was believing what I wanted to believe. It took the ELCAs vote on ordaining gays in committed relationships to bring the bullying to the surface, but it had always been there. I just ignored it because this particular pastor was at the time very passive aggressive about his hate.  I remember him telling me that I wouldn't like him if I knew him better, following up that he was a Mark Driscoll fan once.  Since I had no idea who Mark Driscoll was, I replied, "Why would that cause me to reject you?  I don't care whose fan you are."

But now I see he was saying, "I believe you are inferior and should be put in your place."  Yep, I wouldn't have liked that if he had come right out and said it, but he is a sneaky sort so he said it in code.  Too bad I didn't know the code.  The fact that the Lutheran church follows a scriptural calendar kept him from preaching a sermon on the need to subjugate women, but if he could have found a way to sneak it in, I would never have caught it.  That's for two reasons.  First, at the time the majority of the congregation would have disagreed with him, and he wants to be liked and popular above all, so he wouldn't have come right out with it.  Second, he is ADD and his sermons rarely seem to have a main point, or even a theme.  I'm pretty sure that's why the ELCA sidetracked him into this little congregation, after he thought he was going to be associate pastor at a huge suburban church in an affluent part of town.  His rambles, if you will,  were always harmless enough, and me and my family could doodle, read our Bibles, look out he window, etc. when he was so vague it was pointless to try to follow.

But leaving the ELCA changed everything.  The tolerant open-hearted people left, but that was not the worst.  The worst part is that the congregation began to grow because the self-righteously offended folks from other ELCA churches,those who also disagreed with the decision to allow ordained gay clergy to enter into lifelong monogamous love relationships (what would be called marriage if it were legal), were looking for a "like-minded" place to "worship".  Now, pastor was popular because of his dark side. No need to hide it anymore. Things changed almost overnight, but I didn't realize it was happening, because I wanted to believe good of my church and my pastor.

Even with his new "friends", like bullies everywhere, he waited to throw his barbs until no one else was around.  When he struck at me he called me late at night on my cell phone.  If I hadn't been in the car, I don't think ANYONE would believe how hateful that "holy man" was to me in private.  As it is, the only people who DO believe it are the people who were actually in the car with me when it happened.  Wow.  Public school all over again.

This has had me thinking a lot lately about church itself, and how much bullying really goes on there.  It happens all the fricking time.  When I look back at the thirty years I have been faithfully involved in American evangelical Christianity, for the most part the best experiences I have ever had have happened when I just showed up, kept my head down and didn't really get involved personally in any other member's life.  Sure we volunteered, and went to special events, etc., but there were no real offers of friendship anywhere.  One of my favorite pastors, who retired since we moved, he was the most compassionate and sincere Christian I ever met, but he wouldn't know what to do with the gay issue.  I know the two churches that have generated from his retirement are not either one places I would attend.  The one with the most loving pastor, that I thought I would like, has in their statement of faith a belief in a 6000 yr old earth and the infamous one man, one woman statement.

As if reality is something you can choose to "believe in" or not!  Evolution, the speed of light, archeology, anthropology, etc. are not on equal ground with the tooth fairy.  You can't just decide your family is going to ignore reality because you don't believe in it!  My Sikh neighbor told me that his religion didn't believe in "that stuff" i.e. gay marriage.  What does he mean?  They don't believe gay people exist?  They don't believe gay people are capable of love?  Or that gay people don't deserve equal protection under the law?  I think he may mean that you can't be openly gay and be accepted in the Sikh religion, but that's not what he said.

But I digress.  The topic is bullying.  When I look back at all my former church experiences, I can plainly see bullying in evidence in each and every one.  I am ashamed to say that since I wasn't personally involved, I played it safe and ignored that it was happening.  So I don't guess I should be surprised that when I got bullied, that's how everyone would treat me.  Why do American recreate their public school experience, which is essentially what church does?  Classroom lecture, check. Posted start and finish times, check.  Take notes, check.  Popular people asked to help the "teacher", check.  Marginalization of the less socially acceptable, check.  Behind the scenes bullying, check.  Churches even have people who will throw you out if you disrupt the service by openly questioning what's going on there.  I have seen it happen.  Mega churches go one further.  Some of their ministry positions include armed security.  Scary stuff.

The big difference though is that church attendance is not legally compulsory.  It does become psychologically compulsory though once you become a part of that world.  Once you're in you know the shame and scorn heaped upon the heads of those who don't attend by the man in the lectern.  Over and over again, from the pulpit, I have heard it: promises of God's reward to those who build their social lives around the church, labels of "lukewarm", "lazy" and "hell-bound" to those those who only come on Sundays, some Sundays, and/or never come at all.

Shame is a powerful motivator.  No one wants to be one of the outcasts.  Everyone wants to be part of the "in" crowd, accepted by the popular people. Once you've heard that connection (the best Christians are here every time the door is open and volunteer and tithe) you want to be in the committed group that God blesses and pastor rewards.  You sure don't want to be rejected by God himself!  Yikes!

The other big difference is that as adults in the church, we pay the very people who bully us!  Oh sure, we really do believe we are giving it to God, not to the pastor directly.  That's the beauty of the whole scam, from the industry perspective.  They teach us that it's our religious duty to pay them, so they can turn around and bully at will from their place of honor at the lectern.  Why do we do that?  There are so many worthy causes our there in the world that could use more funds.  Why do we pay people to self-importantly lord it over us at church?

Finally there is no diploma.  You never graduate.  You might become a teacher's pet and get a moment or two of glory from your own time in the lectern, teaching a Sunday school class or leading a Wednesday service, if you tithe, attend and agree long enough.  Nope, there is no diploma but you do get something in return: the social approval of being a "good Christian".  That is still worth a lot in this country.  If you are in a family like mine or my husband's, it's a minimum requirement for being considered acceptable in the family.  Like trying to get a job without a high school diploma, I don't know if it's possible to get by socially without being a church attender.  I have been in the subculture so long, I have no idea how to get by outside of it.

I am not alone in wanting out, however.  The Barna research group's most recent findings show that:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.
The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion.
I interpret the data this way:  44% of people in America have left the place they were bullied in search of a church where bullying does not happen. 28% of them have already figured out that no such place exists.  My two children, both raised on daily devotions, regular church attendance, Christian radio, Bible memory, AWANA, church camp in the summer, the whole evangelical cradle-to-grave, morning-to-night marketing strategy, are among those "one in four".

The "problem" is not improper doctrine formation, bad apologetics, or lack of commitment to Jesus.  The "problem" IS the doctrine, apologetics and the fact that these are an epic fail when one attempts to reconcile them with a sincere devotion to Jesus.  Church and Jesus parted ways a long time ago, around the time of Constantine. Further, home churches and denominational splits are plainly just an attempt to open up new venues to new bullies. They split because it's too crowded at the top, so when a person has enough popularity to strike out on their own, they go for it.  Invariably the new group will still set up pyramids of power, collect  money for those at the top, and bully the ones who aren't playing along the way they should.

I foresee an exodus from organized religion BECAUSE of the rise of evangelical Christianity and its success at setting up a parallel culture.  Their big mistake was keeping the gospels in the Bible.  Anyone who takes the time to look at Jesus closely, His life, His example, and His words, will wind up following Jesus right out the door and into....well, that I am not clear about yet.

That's the scary part.  The evangelical sub-culture has been my whole world for so long.  I don't really know how to live without it. But I am not a part of it anymore.  I believe in Jesus, but not substitutionary atonement, eternal hell, or putting limits on the love of God.  I am unwilling to deny reality on any front, finding reality completely compatible with believing God created reality.  To think that some Bronze Age tribal scribes, or even first century eye-witnesses to the life of Jesus, get to define reality for the rest of us for all time because the God who is amazing enough to create all this complexity spoke to them in their day, well that's just stupid.  I believe Jesus healed an epileptic man who was deaf and dumb; I do not believe that demons cause epilepsy or deafness. (Mark 9: 17-27) I believe Jesus healed a woman with severe osteoporosis; I do not believe osteoporosis is caused by a demon sitting on someone's back and tying them into a hunched over state with invisible ropes.(Luke 13:11-17)

I want to go to church.  I really do.  But I can't "unknow" the things I know.

Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thought-stopping labels thrown by those who have stopped thinking for themselves

Oh my, the variety of thought-stopping labels that Christians throw at those who challenge them!  I'm sure there are more than I know of, but I just got slapped with one of the most popular:  "Bitter"

As in, why do you not play along to the tune I play, a la Matthew 11: 16-17?

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,
17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
    we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’
She posted a picture of Michelle Duggars dead child, and underneath is some drivel about "is this just a blob of cells" which is a misleading and dishonest question.

When a pro-choice person refers to "a blob of cells" they are referring to a Blastula , the medical term for the first three weeks after fertilization of an egg.  During this time, the three layers are forming that will become the placenta, and two other layers that will support the appearance someday of different organ systems.  It literally is a blob.  Seriously!

After that comes the stage of the embryo, again about three weeks.  During these three weeks the development of an outer form takes shape, and while the rudimentary formations of necessary body systems is just beginning.  Pro-lifers like to hand out little plastic "babies" of this stage of development.  So, even though the brain or nervous system are not fully functioning at this stage, the outside is starting to take shape, and this shape misleads people into seeing the unborn child as a teeny tiny miniature adult.  (Electrical twitches do start in the brain at the end of this stage, but that does not denote function.The heart will also regularly spasm soon, but the circulatory system is not yet functioning either.) That is not the reality.

From the above link:


A complete spontaneous abortion at about 6 weeks from conception, i.e. 8 weeks from LMP
Some embryos do not survive through to the fetal stage, which begins about two months after fertilization (10 weeks LMP). Embryos may be aborted spontaneously or purposely.
Studies using very sensitive early pregnancy tests have found that 25% of embryos are aborted by the sixth week LMP (since the woman's last menstrual period), even if a woman does not realize it.[4][5] Abortions after the sixth week LMP happen in 8% of pregnancies.[5] The risk of them is "virtually complete by the end of the embryonic period," with a rate of only two percent after 8.5 weeks LMP.[6]
The most common natural cause of abortion of an embryo is chromosomal abnormality,[7] which accounts for at least 50% of sampled early pregnancy losses.[8] Advancing maternal age and a patient history of previous spontaneous abortions are the two leading risk factors.[8]

[edit]Induced abortion

The majority of induced abortions occur during the embryonic period. For example, in England and Wales during 2006, 68% of them occurred by the end of the embryonic period.[9]
Induced (i.e. purposeful) abortion of an embryo may be accomplished by a variety of methods, including both pharmaceutical and surgical techniques. Suction-aspiration is the most common surgical method of aborting an embryo within the United States.[10]
Common reasons for purposely aborting an embryo include a desire to delay or end childbearing, concern over the interruption of work oreducation, issues of financial or relationship stability, perceived immaturity and health concerns.[11][12]
Following this stage, the term "fetus" is used, meaning "little one", because even though it will be weeks before the child could survive on its own EVEN WITH our amazing life-saving drugs, surgeries and interventions, from  about week nine of gestation, the outside looks clearly human.

So, when a pro-life person shows a picture of a dead fetus, asking "does this look like a blob of cells to you?" it's pure emotional manipulation AND it's deceitful!

Of course I objected to the manipulation, and the response was just classic fundy!

"Why are you so bitter?"

Next will come thought-stoppers like rebellious, sin of witchcraft, who knows what else?  Ugh.

I just hid the conversation and am going to ignore her, in hopes of living the more detached life of the yogi.  Let the fundamentalists be the ones all twisted up with anxiety and hate.  I won't defend myself because the question is so irrelevant to the issue, there is no way to respond without giving the question merit. And so I will just be still and silent in the face of that question.

I could be accurately accused of "hit and run" posting, but that's only because any response would be allowing her to redefine the argument from the content of her post to the state of my emotions.  And guess what? I don't have to allow that, and  I don't feel guilty about it either, because I don't have to be perfect anymore!  

As most of my readers know, once you've been called bitter, there's no way of proving you're not.  People could see the peace on your face, hear the calm in your voice, while they are frothing at the mouth and still call YOU the bitter one.  They would keep on in their own hysteria and never see beyond it.

 I fear for my country, now that fundemantalist Christianity has stunted so many minds.  Honest inquiry is foreign to them, as they look the their preachers, authors and organizations to tell them what to think.  That is  the only way an intelligent grown woman could show a picture of a mid-term fetus (20 weeks probably) and ask "does this look like a blob of cells to you?"  She has done no personal research on either gestation or the pro-choice position.  She just believes what she has been told by others without checking it out on her own.


May God have mercy on the USA and save her from his "followers".

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spiritual Bullying

Bullying is a big topic among today's youth.  I think a big part of ending bullying, is to get people who are not involved to stand up for the victims.  That's why the whole anti-bullying movement has sprung up, not so much to reform bullies (is that even possible?) but to make bullying itself socially unacceptable.

In my former striving to be uber-righteous and blameless in all things, I had only one answer to being bullied.  Beyond turning the other cheek, it went so far as to advocate to myself that standing up for myself was WRONG.  The proof text came from I Peter 2:21-23:
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

So, when I was being bullied in a board meeting of our "Christian" home school support group, I didn't take up for myself even though I had done nothing wrong.  I thought the facts would speak for themselves, but guess what REALLY happens when a victim of bullying doesn't stand up for themselves?  Nothing good.  They appear weak and deserving of honorable treatment in the eyes of those looking on.  Maybe, maybe someone's conscience might be urging them to take up for you, but if you won't even take up for yourself, no one else will either.

Years went by without my being subjected to anything remotely like that public attack, until I got involved in my homeowner's association.  I was asked by a neighbor to please join a certain committee, as the people involved were currently control freaks who needed the brakes put on.  All I did was show up and doodle in my notebook as people droned on and got all upset over stupid trivia like shrubs and flower beds.  I was only there to protest any really draconian ideas the committee might come up with.  Everything else about the committee was B-O-R-I-N-G.

So, the night before the third meeting, the chair of the committee came by my house to ask me some questions. We talked on my front porch for about an hour, and even though the person who had asked me to join the committee told me the guy was a snake, I shut the front door feeling that maybe he wasn't as bad as my other neighbor had made him out to be.

The meeting started the next night, and to my great surprise *my notebook* was on the agenda.  The chairman demanded to see it, misrepresented almost everything we talked about the night before, and let me tell you, there must  be a book out there somewhere about how to destroy your enemies in a committee meeting because it was exactly the same scenario as the "Christian" home school support group meeting of almost a decade earlier!  No one, not even the husband of the woman who had asked me to join, took up for me.  But this time, I took up for myself.  I looked around the room at all my fair-weather friends and the lynch mob my neighbors seemed eager to join, and told them all off.  I laughed in their faces, got up and told them they were crazy and I didn't need this shit.  I walked out, and the chair made one more effort to grab my notebook as I walked out the door.  I am not making this up! At that point, one neighbor (whom I didn't even know) took up for me and told the guy to back off as that was assault and he was a witness.  God bless that man!

I guess it must have something to do with the stars, because everything was chill for another few years.  But about eight months ago, I was bullied again, this time by  a "man-o-gawd". I was bullied by the pastor of the Lutheran church that you have read me praise repeatedly in many posts over the past  few years.  I was always welcome, celebrated even, in my congregation, that is until I began to disagree with the pastor too many times.

Once the issue of civil unions for gay couples came up, (I am in favor of legal rights for all citizens, while the pastor is strongly against it) suddenly everything I said or did ruffled pastors feathers.  He would get really pissy with any comments I made on facebook that could possibly be taken the wrong way, and he had to really want to be offended to get there!  It was plain that he just didn't like me or trust my intentions anymore.  Moreover, the makeup of the whole congregation was changing.  People who I loved and admired were leaving, and new people (people who were offended by the ELCA ordaining gay clergy in committed relationships) were joining the church.  It was leaning decidedly toward fundamentalism more and more every week.

The final offence came last October. I was explaining the fallacy of guilty by association to a less-bright fellow parishioner on my facebook wall.  I support the Occupy movement, and someone had been raped in the Occupy Wall Street campground (after weeks of no problems, pretty impressive for NYC really!).  The other person had gleefully linked to the news article and posted it on my facebook wall with a comment that I was supporting rape.  I replied, pointing out that one person committing a crime did not make the protest itself nor any other protestor a bad person. I explained that this was the fallacy of "guilty by association". The example I gave was pointing out that even though someone from our church had been convicted of manslaughter, that didn't make everyone at our church out to be some kind of criminal too.

My pastor read that on my wall, and he was livid.  

Here is an email I wrote to an internet clergy shortly after the evening:

I only know you from your blog, but I appreciate you very much.  I am from <a midwestern state> and learned the foundation for everything I know about God from my <midwestern> roots.  As a child, I remember learning that Jesus was the main point of the Bible, the life and words of Christ were the lens through which all the rest of scripture was to be read.  As the Father God made clear on the Mount of  Transfiguration, Moses, the prophets and the apostles were nowhere near equal in status to Jesus, the Beloved Son.  I also am pretty clear on the idea that God wants a personal relationship with each of us, that the same Holy Spirit that dwells in me dwells in you, Jesus (not any other person) is the Head of the church and that He is also the Good Shepherd.  We have no need of any other person save the Person of Christ for our salvation.  Rather all of our relationships with other Christians flow out of obedience to Christ: He commands us to serve one another in love, to share communion, to bear one another’s burdens.  All in a believer’s life is to flow out of their personal walk with God, which of course includes personal worship, study and prayer.
But now, I can’t put my finger on where exactly I learned these ideas or why no one is teaching this anymore that I can see.
My dedication to Jesus and the Great Command has compelled me to some radical things lately-all involve listening to people.  I decided to stop deciding a matter before hearing both sides.  All of my knee-jerk positions on all the right wing political positions I had adopted were up for re-evaluation:  abortion, adoption, racial reconciliation, homosexuality, taxes, social programs, health care.  I listened to real stories from real people, and changed a lot of my political positions because of it, carefully measuring everything against the Word.  I have a 4.0 in twelve credits from Moody: Bible Study I, Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey, plus countless hours of Community Bible Study, Bible Study Fellowship, Kay Arthur studies, Beth Moor studies, and innumerable other well-respected programs designed to teach one to “rightfully divide” the Bible.  My first purchase after rededicating my life to Christ in 1981 was a Strong's Concordance.  I am no intellectual lightweight either, carrying a 4.0 in all of my college classes, including the ones in which I am currently enrolled.
But now I have a great dilemma.  No  one minded my outspoken advocacy for the traditional religious right politics, but when I started caring about social issues from a more thoughtful position, people in my church became very uncomfortable with me.  It has culminated last night with my pastor calling me to rail about a facebook post I made supporting the Occupy movement.  While he had every right to call me and talk to me about anything he thinks might reflect unfavorably on his church (I don’t think it did but he sure felt very strongly about it), even ask me to remove it (which I did because of the passage to do all that lies with me to keep peace), he had no right to yell at me, talk over me and falsely accuse me of motives that he only assumed.  He wound up “rebuking” me for words I never spoke, and when I insisted I never said such things, he called me a liar.  Wow.  At that point I had to tell him he had crossed a line and I needed to end the conversation.
Now I finally get to my dilemma: obviously I am not welcome at my church.  Nor do I believe I have any spiritual obligation to let this man further abuse me.  He seems to think I owe him the privilege to yell at me and ascribe bizarre attitudes and motivations to me which are not mine because he is my pastor.  I am lucky in that when he called, my whole family was in the car and the call was picked up on Bluetooth.  Otherwise, it would be my word against his, but as it is, my husband and teen son are witnesses to all of it- his ranting and my reasonable calm responses.  We were all shocked.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.  I have heard of similar happening to other people, and I always wondered why they just didn’t leave and find a new church.  But now I do understand, because the odds of me finding a church that teaches the gospel as it was first presented to me is so small.  I don’t think I want to put myself through a long process of getting to know new pastors and congregations.  It is just no longer worth it to me.  I never thought I would ever, in a million years, become a walk-away from church.  Church attendance is supposed to be a place where we come together to worship our mutual Savior, share communion and pray for one another.
Well, it’s not your problem, and I don’t know why I am bothering you with this.  I guess it’s because you seem to genuinely care for the people loved by God.  It’s also, I think, a tellingly sad situation for the church in America when a person such as myself, avid attender and long time tither, just no longer wants to take a chance on American Christendom.  I home schooled, had daily devotions with my children, taught Sunday school and Bible studies, joined the small groups, took part in the missions, organized VBS- if it was a way to be involved in church, I have done it.
Sorry for taking so much of your time. Normally this is the sort of thing one would talk to a pastor about, but of course you can understand why that is not an option for me.
So, here's the thing.  Not only has that man not apologized for ranting at me and calling me a liar, he never will.  He used to offer his phone at communion for anyone who wanted to make right a broken relationship, but breaking relationship with me is apparently okay by him.  He has offered communion to his congregation every Sunday since that last week of October, 2011, but my phone has never rung.  Apparently telling me off and ending our relationship doesn't bother his conscience at all.

Not only that, but when I made a member of the council aware of what happened, she cooly told me that she didn't hadn't asked to know.  Seriously, she meant it.  Our family disappearing bothers no one.  We can go to hell for all they care, as they know they represent the kingdom of God on earth and we are not welcome with them.  It's so....unChristlike, so heartless.

Anyway, it's only all coming back to me now because the congregation, including the pastor, is love-bombing a kid that I have loved like my own.  I have known this kid for eight years, stood by him every step of those eight years, included him in our lives like he was family, and the only reason anyone from that church knows this kid exists is because my family brought him to church with us.  I know they are love-bombing him with the intention of sucking him back into their congregation, but it hurts to see it.

It hurts even more that when I tried to talk to the kid about it, he basically told me that he didn't care how pastor had treated us.  That was none of his business.  The man hadn't done anything to him personally, and he appreciated the flattery and the offers of friendship. Love-bombing works; that's why cults/churches engage in it.

Wow.  I don't give a damn what happens to that pastor or that congregation, though the shadenfreude would be sweet if I ever hear of evil coming his way.  God knows the man deserves a comeuppance.  I gave ten per cent of my family income so he could make sweet money (almost double national average for pastor's salaries, though probably about average for my wealth-worshipping city) and drive a sweet ride (Mustang convertible, courtesy of church car allowance).  Once he had new sources of income (those taking their marbles and leaving the ELCA because they don't believe Jesus can love or bless gay relationships), he dumped us like a hot potato.  Love-bombing the kid they KNOW I count as a son is just adding insult to injury.

I know it's intentional too.  I know because they tried to do the same with my roomie Jai, but she didn't fall for it.  It is so ugly, and so wrong.

Why are God's people so effing mean?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More thoughts on Home Schooling

This is the very last week of my last year of home schooling.  All that's left is to prep my son for his final shot at the SATs.  I am so proud of him.  He is doing extremely well in his dual-enrolled classes and is well-liked at work.  I love the passion in his heart for justice and love.  He has taught me so much in the past few years about what it really means to be a good person.  <3 <3 <3

I love being a parent, and I loved home schooling.  However, like all human endeavors, home schooling is full of dangers and pit falls that can snag unprepared parents and ruin the lovely life they had planned.  Libby Anne, a home schooled graduate from a Christian home schooling family, has initiated a forum series where she is giving eight graduates of Christian home schools an opportunity to answer questions about their experience.  These Christian home school families adhered to the Quiverfull philosophy.  You can find her blog series here: Raised Quiverfull

This is a wonderful opportunity for other home schooled parents, and those considering home schooling, to see how home schooled graduates feel about their experience.  It's a rare gift, and I for one find it fascinating.  I hope it is widely read.

Here are some of my thoughts after reading the responses to Home Schooling Q.2:

1) No matter how good the intentions of the teaching home school parent at the start, multiple pregnancies and more children mean that the quality of home education will suffer.  In fact, it sounds like the end of academic challenge, at least for the oldest students.  It seems that Sierra, who had no other siblings, got the best education as far as time and attention from the adult in her life. Libby's education sounds more like our family's, with the exception being that while my teens also studied more independently as time went on, when they did, it was not because I was too busy to help.  It was because they didn't want my help!

2) What religious home schooling parents crow about as "socialization" does not appear to be about meeting student's social needs at all.  It's mostly about meeting mom's social needs and reinforcing the family rules (spoken and unspoken) by bringing in other families with very similar rules to underline the boundaries in black ink.

3)  Peer pressure is a horrible foundation for choosing how to raise your children.  I figuratively threw up a little in my mouth when I read the words "Keepers at Home".  Poor Melissa!  I am so sorry.  My heart broke a little as I read Lisa's story too, about how all of her social needs were to be met within the family, and she was not encouraged to dream beyond her mom's dream.  No SATs!  That is just SO WRONG.   All this happens, this religious one-upmanship, because your PARENTS are PEER DEPENDENT! That is the biggest irony of all.  These home schooling parents are all trying to outdo one another in religiosity because the approval of their peer groups is more important to them than the mental/emotional/social/physical well-being of their children.  They sacrifice their children’s lives on the altar of peer approval. 

I was sorely tempted to go there myself.  Who doesn’t want approval and acceptance?  But there were too many things I refused to bend on.  I saw no need for home school specific sports groups, unless it was just for more exercise and fun in addition to the community league sports.  My daughter is so low social needs that I was always pushing her to get out and meet people.  I encouraged her to try Girl Scouts for a year before she was willing to check it out. 

Our Girl Scout troop was all home schooled, but at least it WAS Girl Scouts, not the hideous brainwashing of Keepers at Home.  All I could think about as I looked over that web site, was how heartbroken those girls will be if they don’t marry or can’t have kids.  I thought about the two old women who lived next door to us in our tiny Great Plains town when I was a child.  Beulah spent her whole life caring for her mother.  She was in her sixties, her mom was in her nineties, when the mother died.  Beulah decided to travel for the first time in her life.  Finally, she had the chance to live!  Beulah went to see her brother in far off California.  While there, she became ill.  She discovered she had cancer and died within a year.  When I saw the web site for Keepers at Home, I wondered how many Beulah’s were being asked to give up their whole lives to meet their parents’ needs.  I determined I would not support that cruelty!  I had no kind words for Keepers at Home. 

4) Latebloomer, thanks for sharing your experience at not really knowing anyone at your high school graduation. The truth is that as people grow, they change and develop new interests (they should anyway) and old friendships don't always fit.  So if you have no opportunity to make new friendships, you will become more and more isolated through the years.  That’s why it’s important to join youth groups, clubs, study groups, work part-time, join a sports league, etc.  It’s important for all teens, not just home schooled teens!  If public school is hell for your teen (and it is for some) then work hard to help them find other groups that do accept them. 

That is why when my daughter wanted to go to youth group, I was thrilled.  She needed to get out and expand her social network.  Now as a young adult, she gets what I meant when I told her that, in order to have a good life, a person needs several circles of friends based on different activities and interests.  That way if a friendship goes south, you aren’t devastated.  The BFF of Lifetime movies is fun while it lasts, but in real life, it is EXTREMELY RARE that people can be each other’s only friend for a whole lifetime.  People are too complex for that.

5) Fear is crippling and contagious.  Even as my daughter was attending youth group, I was always choking back my fear.  I had a critical eye towards all the youth my daughter hung out with, and I evaluated their families with suspicion.  Why?   Well, because even though I wasn’t as crazy religious as the Keepers at Home crowd, I was still an evangelical Christian.  Fear was preached to me from the pulpit, from the radio, it came in the mail as requests for money to fight the culture wars, it was shared on the Christian forums I would visit online.  It’s only now, when I am no longer going to church at all, that I can see how all-pervasive fear was in my life. 

I think one of the last Christian books I bought was “And the Bride Wore White” by the Ludys.  I didn’t even read it for myself, I just gave it to my daughter.  I told her that I wasn’t going to read it, as I didn’t want to nag her about anything contained in the book, but that I trusted the Holy Spirit to guide her into what was right.  That was in 2008.  I was only beginning to understand how totally screwed up our family life really was, although I did not yet realize how much of that had to do with religion.  That was my last half-hearted attempt at controlling who my daughter was and what she would choose for her life.  

Fear is crippling and contagious without having anything to do with religion, either.  I do know secular home schooled moms who have shared with me that fear was a big part of other home school support groups: fear of public school, fear of non-organic produce, fear of the medical professions, and the most damaging fear of all:  Fear of abandonment.

I have met home schooled parents who seemed determined to keep their children at home as adults because they (the parents) had some serious abandonment issues.  I am related to one such family.  They brought their children home in late high school, sent them to non-accredited colleges, arranged their marriages and made sure they were all anti-birth control.  Those children, now adults and parents of QF families themselves, have no job prospects and no place they could ever survive financially other than working for dad's "ministry" and living on the grounds.  

On the secular side, many of my son's peers are quite worried about a girl who has dropped off the social radar completely.  Her single mom  was already always at the girl's side, and limited her social activities so she could pile on her own expectations: the girl will be a published author, no college necessary.  The main source of this family's fear is green: raw vegan diet is the only safe way to eat.  The young lady's facebook account is shut down, she won't return calls and no one has seen her for months. Religion may be a big fear producer, but the fear itself is the real danger.  

There you have it, whether you wanted it or not: my thoughts after reading Libby Anne's latest Raised Quiverfull post.  I hope you will all choose to live courageously, love freely, and balance all the bad news the world throws at you with things that make you smile and give you hope.  Oh, and say a prayer for the missing home schooled teen.  Someone must be in contact with her somewhere; pray that person will become the friend she needs to break free of the fear (and mom's control, though it is presumptious of me to write because I am only relating what I have heard from the teens, not personal experience).

Peace and good will, SS

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's a Personal Thing

In case anyone wonders why this flurry of blog activity, it's because I am between semesters at school.  So, I have the actual time to devote to writing about the things that I think about, rather than the topics I am assigned for a class.  I am still a perfectionist when it comes to school, or as I prefer to call myself, "one who pursues excellence".  By this, I mean I study like a mad man when school is in session, wanting no less than to thoroughly master any subject I am taking.  It pisses other people off sometimes, and makes others think I am an insufferable know-it-all, but learning brings me joy.  So, sucks to be them.  I am going for it with all I've got, no matter what the class is about.  There is no such thing as a throw-away class, imo.  Like a race horse was born to run, I was apparently born to learn.

I wish I had been raised in a family where I was valued and supported.  I would no doubt have been able to choose a challenging career (medical engineering technology would have been fascinating) or have my Ph. D. and be teaching in a college somewhere. But, life did not unfold for me with such a charmed and happy beginning, so I am where I am.  I look back with happiness, not regret, for the way I handled the circumstances and adversity I encountered in life.  I am pleased with who I am, what I have chosen, and also with my current GPA and career prospects.  So, yay for me, right?

I am also able to write so prolifically about other things because my marriage relationship is not giving me trouble right now.  It is crazy how many times things have been up and down in my marriage. Or rather, it is crazy how my spouse would go from loving and supportive to distant and withdrawn to hateful and cruel.  It is part and parcel of growing up a child of addicts, for that is what his parents are: religious addicts.

Imagine growing up the child of addicts, only instead of the world offering you pity and compassion for your plight, they praised your parents for their addiction and told you how lucky you were to have addicts for parents!  It's quite the mind-fuck.  The emotional abuse, mental confusion, and effed up thinking that creates in a child is something few people can overcome.

My spouse is an amazing person.  He is smart as a whip.  He scored a perfect score in math on his SATs and said he kept waiting to get to the "hard" sections he was warned about when he realized he had finished all the questions.  Those of you who have taken or helped someone study for the SATs knows that a perfect score shows more than mastery of the subject, it shows a keen attention to detail and above average critical thinking skills.  Without all that going for him, I think real change for my husband would not be possible.

Then there is also the level of abuse.  My husband was emotionally, physically and spiritually abused and neglected.  The religious addiction always came first; the needs of children were definitely lower on the hierarchy of parental concerns than feeding the religious addiction.  His boarding school experiences were a nightmare of rejection, bullying and neglect.  BUT others had it way worse, and their boarding school experiences included savage beatings, sexual molestation, rape and in some cases, violent gang rape.  I am actually trembling as I type this out, knowing the horrific abuse children suffered at the hands of "ministers of the gospel" who were assigned to the staff of the "missionary kid abandonment centers" known as missionary boarding schools.  Visit and  for books and other resources, including forums with the opportunity to talk to survivors online and find out how those who were sent to these schools have fared.

Still, though my husband didn't suffer as much as other people have suffered, he suffered plenty.  It warped his emotional coping mechanisms and turned him into an emotionally abusive person.  He was cursed with passive-aggressive personality disorder, which he developed as a coping mechanism for dealing with the anger and pain he was forced to experience but not allowed to express.  So, as recently as last month he was still acting out towards me in ways that required the use of our DAPP (domestic abuse prevention program- i.e., "time-outs").

Well, I am closing in on the last step of my five-year plan, and I am just done dealing with the unpredictable and irrational.  I decided that while calling DAPPs were a necessary step in the healing process for our relationship, it is not something I can live with the rest of my life.  So, in calm quiet times after the storm, I created a new requirement for living with me.  If it's bad enough to call another DAPP, then we will move into separate bedrooms for a minimum of three months.  We have the space, so we can do that.  Also I want him to know I'm not angry, I'm just unwilling to live off-balance and unable to fully relax and enjoy life, so that's the next step.  He understands and accepts that.

And, now, finally, he is working in EMDR as diligently as I have been doing all this time!  He seriously wants to work through all these issues himself now.  So, good for him.  For far too long he has resisted getting into the most painful memories, the root of the "shame spirals" that drag him into depression and hate.  Since he is seriously digging them out now, I think there is great hope for a happy life (even a happy married life) in his future.

Unfortunately, the way his inner MK was raised, dragging his feet in doing what's right was the only thing that ever gave him any sense of control over his own life.  He had no choice about what he would do, and if he flat out refused to do what he was told he would have been beaten and shamed.  Dragging his feet to the last possible second is a personality trait he developed to cope with his forced captivity.  I accept this about him, but I am not going to let it affect me anymore.

And he accepts that about me!  We are actually pretty happy now.  At night, we have been reading Jim Palmer's books, and he really identifies with the author.  Currently, we're reading "The Evangelical Universalist", but I'm ordering Palmer's "Wide Open Spaces" as soon as I finish this post.  He doesn't go to church anywhere (maybe won't ever again- it's fine with me!) while I go on Communion Sunday to a local UCC church with a wonderfully wise woman pastor.

So, that's the personal update.  I have finished EMDR, and I have more peace and happiness on an ongoing basis than I knew I could experience.  My walk with Jesus is very fulfilling.  I do a bit of yoga most mornings and evenings, and go to a yoga studio once or twice a week.  I read Trinity and Humanity's blog, John Shore's blog and Steve McVey's blog to see what Jesus is up to in the lives of others.

I pray daily as I have done for years.  I pray for much better things: the inclusion of the outcast in the body of Christ and for legal protection for all US citizens, the defeat of the religious right, the dismantling of the apostate Christian politco-business empire, the pre-eminence of Christ in the hearts of the church, the salvation and reconciliation of all people.  I pray for friendship, life satisfaction, challenge and accomplishment, love and acceptance for my family, healing for the sick and provision for us all.

Peace to all who read here, SS

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Interesting read

I found this link on an internet discussion about what kind of women have abortions.  It is very informative:

When anti-abortion advocates seek abortion for themselves or a loved one....

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Reckless Procreation

Recently I had a friend contact me about raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  I personally have a chronic respiratory ailment, though it rarely affects my daily life.  The reason that my ailment is not much of a problem in my life is because medical science spent truckloads of money trying to find a cure in recent decades.  Failing that, they sought and succeeded to make the illness manageable.  So, this request to help raise money to cure a respiratory ailment is one for which I have a personal affinity.  Plus my friend has such a good heart.  It should have been a no-brainer for me to open my wallet and hand out a donation.

However, in her attempt to both be honest and move potential donors to compassion, she revealed that the family in whose honor she is raising money has two children with cystic fibrosis.  Two children with cystic fibrosis?  Two?

I know a little about cystic fibrosis.  One of my friends from the past works as a respiratory therapist.  I personally *love* respiratory therapists, as their appearance in the ER when I was a child were a signal to me that I would be able to breathe again soon.  If you know a respiratory therapist IRL, give them a hug for me!

Once when I was telling her how much I appreciated her profession, I followed up with a question about what was the hardest part of her job.  I was expecting an answer like, "when a kid throws up in response to the steroids".  Instead, she said that caring for her CF patients was the hardest part.  It is hard because she is compassionate, kind and loves children.  It is hard because she KNOWS her CF patients will someday die, drowning on their own mucus secretions, and in the end, she can't stop this from happening.

What a horrible death.  At the time, I didn't know what caused CF, mostly because no one in my family has CF and I had no training whatsoever in the medical field.  Since then, I have come to learn that CF is a genetic disorder, and while it is not curable, it IS preventable.  A quick google search turns up this:

Gene that causes CF identified

This was in 1989.  These children my friend loves are now in junior high and high school, so born after 1995.  Plus I am assuming they are more than a year apart, so wouldn't they have known their first child had CF before they conceived their second child?

Since science has known that it takes two recessive genes,  one from each parent, for a child to develop CF, since 1989 and these children were conceived after 1989, what gives?  As a person who has faced the terror of almost dying from a respiratory condition, it seems horrendously cruel to play Russian roulette with the second child's life by conceiving again without genetic testing or IVF to prevent another child from being born with CF.

Which is where my moral dilemma began. You see, I have known more than a few incredibly selfish mothers who were more interested in their own righteousness (as one of God's breeders) than in the health and well-being of their children.  I know a family with three, yes three, Down's Syndrome daughters conceived by a young mother.  They were "trusting God with their wombs" and so even after the first rare genetic abnormality they kept getting pregnant.  When it happened a second time, they still did not stop getting pregnant.  Their third child was also born with Down's, which is really rare in young mothers.  And still they continued to roll the dice and get pregnant! Their fourth child, a son, was normal.   He is a wonderful human being, but what a burden that kid will bear the rest of his life!  His mom developed breast cancer shortly after his birth, so no more children.  She beat it once, but succumbed after it returned a second time.  The care of his three older sisters now rest on her only son's and his father's shoulders.  Once his father dies, it will all be on him. But of course, it is all God's will, right?

Another one of these hypocritically "pro-life" moms posted on facebook a press release heralding the Santorums as heroes for mom's aging eggs* producing a Trisomy-18 child.  There is nothing heroic about continuing to get pregnant after thirty-five when you already have children!  The ONLY reason a woman would do that is in some misguided attempt to "fulfill God's will", i.e. seek her own righteousness and glory in being pregnant- AGAIN.  The more children she has, the holier she can  tell herself that she is.  No matter that she is gambling with someone else's life!  If she has a child with a horrific genetic abnormality, it's God's responsibility, not hers!  (These same people no doubt use seat belts, take antibiotics, and wouldn't skydive without a parachute, trusting that God's will be done.  They won't take those sort of foolish risks with their own life, but with a child's?  No problem.)

Are the Santorums heroes for rushing to the hospital each time their Trisomy 18 child needs to be admitted? Hell NO!  They are goats for cursing her with this disease.  They willfully and knowingly continued to get pregnant when it is clearly proven that older eggs are at much higher risk for producing people with this torturous disease.  They want kudos for this?!?!?!  YES THEY DO!  They think they are heroes for their reckless procreation.

Which is why, when I read that a family has two children with cystic fibrosis, I get angry.  Those parents are not clueless about what causes cystic fibrosis. All high school biology books teach about Punnett squares.  It's easy to see that if you have had one CF child, there is a 25% chance your next child will have it too, and a 50% chance that they will not develop the disease but will themselves be carriers.  There is only a one in four chance they will have a child not affected by the CF gene at all.

Would you put your child on a roller coaster that kills one out of four riders?  How about buy a car that explodes in ball of flame 25% of the time?  Feed your child a snack that causes every fourth child who eats it excruciating pain followed by a slow death?  No? Neither would I.

That's what took me so long to donate.  I don't want to promote a religious culture of reckless procreation.  I can't imagine getting pregnant again with the same father after giving birth to a child with CF, not unless we used IVF to eliminate the possibility of having a child with CF.  And since IVF sounds really creepy to me (Long needles through my abdomen?  I don't think I could do it.), I would probably adopt if I wanted more children.  But maybe I'd just stop, and pour my life into helping my sick child and raising money for CF research.

I went ahead and donated.  My friend loves this family, and that is enough reason for me to give.  These children are already here, and I honestly and sincerely hope a cure is developed in their lifetime. And hey, at least they stopped at two children, right?  If they were QF, they might have gone right on having more and more children.

But still, we need to stop the reckless procreation. We need to stop the people who advocate reckless procreation.  God is not honored by your denial masquerading as faith.  God is not honored when you make stupid choices and take reckless chances and excuse it with some religious dogma.  No outsider is impressed with anything but your disregard for the lives of your children, and that is not a favorable impression.

How can we stop this reckless procreation without shaming the mothers who were duped by the lame religious arguments? Those mothers don't need shamed, they need empowered to do what's right. I don't know.  If you or someone you know fits this description, I do not intend to shame you for having been deceived.

We do need to expose the people who conned you, though.  And we do need to send a clear message that most of America ain't buying what they're selling.

STOP the reckless procreation.  STOP blaming God for the choices people make.  And for God's sake, STOP gambling with other people's lives in a sad attempt to impress the world with your faith.  

No one is applauding.

*"Advanced maternal age is a risk factor for Trisomy 18."  A quote from here: Older mothers have higher risk of genetic birth defects .  How bad is Trisomy 18?  Horrible, a fate no one should choose for any child.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bigotry Unleashed

Christians Unleash Their Bigotry in Public  now that polls lead them to believe that their opinion is popular. This is what hate looks like in a suit, boys and girls.  And this is why America MUST throw "conservatives" out of office, as fast as we can.  They are eager, EAGER to codify their hatred into law.  Forget the economy; living in a fascist totalitarian system is untenable under any economic circumstance.

Hatred in the name of Jesus.  Is there anything uglier under the sun?  I don't think so.

Psalm 11:3
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
What can we do?  How can we fight this new outbreak of hatred in the church?  It has happened before here in America, and our track record is not good.  The mighty Southern Baptist Convention was FOUNDED on the premise that slavery was "Biblical".  I kid you not.  They preached that it was "Biblical" for devout Christians to engage in the business of buying, selling and enslaving black people.  What's worse, they had the scripture to back it up!

They had dozens of proof-texts to back it up.  The apostle Paul didn't censure the practice of slavery; he gave instructions to slave owners and slaves alike.  The Bible was their justification for the practice of slavery, AND for the years of racist bigotry that followed.  They didn't even apologize for their wicked actions until 1995!  Note that this came on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Southern Baptist convention.

1995 SBC Apology

Why the SBC was founded

Note:  I can't link to the actual SBC website about the reasons for founding the SBC because they don't mention it.  Their history link starts out, "Since the founding...1895..."  No mention that they seceded from the American Baptists over the issue of slavery.  My (racist) grandmother was a lifelong Southern Baptist. She lived her whole life in Oklahoma, a hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan during her lifetime.  Here is a snapshot of Oklahoma life in the early half of the twentieth century.  The Ku Klux Klan billed itself as a Christian organization, and that makes it a Christian organization.  I refuse to link to their website, but here is the opening statement you will find there even today:

"There is a race war against whites. But our people - my white brothers and sisters - will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in white communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new world order. That way is the Christian way - law and order - love of family - love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization. There is a war to destroy these things. Pray that our people see the error of their ways and regain a sense of loyalty. Repent America! Be faithful my fellow believers. "  National Director of The Knights, Pastor Thomas Robb

Because of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and only because of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s,  it is illegal to discriminate against people on the basis of race.  But racism itself is still ALIVE AND WELL in the Christian community here in the South where I live.  The woman with the Ten Commandments proudly posted on her shop wall showed her bigotry in casual conversation with me, a white woman.  The women from the Evangelical Presbyterian church I visited warned me against sending my daughter to public school, lest she wind up pregnant with a "mixed baby", alternately referred to as a "mulatto" by the older woman who spoke to me about it.  I happen to have a religious painting on my wall with one of my favorite scriptures in calligraphy under a painting of a grandfather and grandson rocking in a porch swing.  On several occasions, white Christians have been offended by my owning such a painting, and grilled me on why I would want such a thing.  My black friends call it "living room racism", meaning racism that stays hidden until the racist feels like they are in a safe place to let their true beliefs about race show.

All those people were Christians, and they keep their hate under wraps because they KNOW it is socially unacceptable to let it out. However, with this new minority to hate, the GLBT community, recent polls show that the majority of Americans share their predjudice.  One day after this news release from Gallup polls, "Majority of Americans oppose same sex marriage" we have a Virginia legislator recruiting other law-makers to join him in black-balling a gay appointee for a judgeship because " if you have a bar room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual, I’m concerned about possible bias."

Friends, this kind of open bigotry only comes out when haters believe their bigotry is shared by the majority.

For those of us who don't really want to be crusaders, or, like me, who fear professional backlash for coming out openly and publicly in support of LGBT rights, we don't have the option of silence anymore.  Remaining silent is giving tacit approval to the hate.  The religious right has declared war on LGBT people (and on women as well, but that's another post).  We who are committed to obeying the commands of JESUS will have to take a public stand at some point for the LGBT community.  I'm praying about when/how/what to do personally, and I hope you'll join me.  

Peace to all who read here, SS

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Commands of Christ

John 13:34
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
John 15:12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
John 15:17
These things I command you, that ye love one another.

 If you look at the times the word "command" was about Jesus, it most always refers to Jesus giving a specific instruction to a specific person.  At other times, Jesus referred to the commandments of Moses (quite telling, that phrase).  These are the only three instances where Jesus specifically says that this is a command!

I find that very significant.

As a parent, I was told that first time obedience was something I should demand from my children because God demands it from us all.  Well, that's hardly true.  It's funny how we flatter ourselves with that one.  We rarely obey God at all.  Most Christians are passive-aggressive snots, doing all kinds of things God never asked us to do while ignoring the things He plainly asked us to do, and then whining that God doesn't appreciate all we do for him.  Seriously, one verse by the apostle Paul about "don't neglect to gather together with other Christians" has morphed into this entire religious industry where people feel really dedicated to God if they show up once or twice a week.  Jesus never commanded that.  His only command, given three times according to the apostle John, is completely ignored.  But attend church?  You betcha!  It's considered the mark of a "true disciple".

The other reason I was told to demand first time obedience from my children is far more plausible, but still falls short.  My children should always obey immediately because otherwise if their safety requires instant obedience, they could be harmed.  Think of the scenario of a child chasing a butterfly.  The butterfly heads into the road, the child follows. You see a car coming, and yell out...what, exactly?  The child's name?  Advocates of first time obedience paint the scenario that way, and your prone-to-dawdle child keeps going and is run over.  Tragedy, all because you (bad parent) did not demand first time obedience.

In reality, if you see a car coming, everything about the way you speak to your child should change: pitch, volume, content.  "Stop!!!!" should come blasting out of your mouth as you run to where your child is about to cross the road.  And that is exactly the way communication works: the urgency of a command is pretty apparent in real life.  "Stop!" because your child is in imminent physical danger is conveyed in a very different way than, "Stop!" when a child is pulling on your skirt while you are talking with a  grown-up and very different from the "Stop!" gasped out between giggles when your child's antics are so hilarious you can't catch your breath from all the laughter those antics have generated in mom's belly.  And so it should be.

All this to say, if something is really way more important than any other instruction a child may be given, there needs to be some way to make that clear.  All directions are not of equal importance.  Whether or not a child brushes his teeth one particular morning is not nearly as important as that he NOT EVER help strangers look for lost puppies.  We have ways of making that clear.  When Jesus says plainly, This is a command, that is exactly what is happening.

This is the most important thing:  Love one another.

The most important thing is not "go to church".  The most important thing is not, "give ten per cent of all you earn to the local church".  The most important thing is not, "Defend a six day creation scenario". The most important thing is not, "Spend your life looking as righteous as you possibly can".  The only direction issued with the precursor this is a COMMAND is the imperative to love one another as I have loved you.

Of course Christians are no different that the lawyer recorded in the tenth chapter of Luke (Luke 10:25 to be exact).  Define "one another" Jesus.  Surely we don't have to love everyone.  At this point, Jesus has already given the Sermon on the Mount, in which he tells everyone to love even their enemies and do them good!  The law has directed people to love their neighbor for centuries.  But love is pretty darn demanding.    That lawyer was looking for an out.  Christians today are looking for an out, too.

The excuses are myriad.  I have read Christian leaders teach that we don't have to love our enemies, because that was a command given before the death and resurrection of Christ, to Jews gathered to listen to Jesus speak.  Slippery little sucker, these Christians. Fundamentalists teach that since Jesus also said "If you love me, you'll keep my commandments" AND they have redefined Jesus to mean "the Bible", they are actually loving God and loving their brothers/neighbors by keeping whichever of the thousands upon thousands of directive in the Bible suits their proclivities.  You don't feel loved when you're neighbor gets up on Sunday morning and goes to church?  Well, that's what fundamentalists have redefined to mean they are "obeying Jesus" ergo "loving you".  Like a kid who starts picking up his toys when you ask him to get ready for bed, that's the level of "obedience" most of the Christian church is into.  They will do what pleases them when it pleases them, but they will call it obedience and protest that they are model children if you call them on it.

Which brings me back around to the topic: the commands of Christ.  Clearly the single most important thing was that we love one another as Christ loves us.  I admit I am at an advantage here, as I have come face to face with the love of God in a way not everyone experiences.  That love is all-surpassing, all-inclusive, so pure and good that not even Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama got there (though they are certainly closer than I have managed so far!).  It is a love, a L-O-V-E that is, well, Divine.  It knows no bounds, never turns anyone down, and I am completely convinced will forgive anyone of anything.  That Love is out of this world.

So who is "one another"?  For arguments' sake, I will limit "one another" to mean other people who love Jesus. You know, Christian youth raised in Christian homes who grew up memorizing Bible verses, going to AWANA, having family devotions and praying morning, noon and night.  True Christians, who go to church every Sunday and set aside ten per cent of even their childhood allowance for the local church.  Even narrowing the definition of "one another" down that very exclusive group, I ran into a problem.

You see, I was taught that homosexuality was a choice, and a sinful choice.  Coming out gay was like coming out a liar, a con man, a committed professional thief.  I didn't come up with this idea on my own.  I was taught it in church.  And look-see, right there in the Bible, were several places that condemned homosexuality: under Jewish law, and Paul's description of the sinful condition.  Other references people used to condemn homosexuals were suspect,but I grudgingly admitted those verses were in the Bible and seemed to condemn homosexuality.

 (The violent gang rape that the people of Sodom threatened the angels with was wrong because the angels appeared as men?  Seriously?  Violent gang rape is okay as long as the victim is a woman?  That doesn't sit well with the character, words, life of Christ.  REJECT!  The passage in Revelations that "homosexuals" will be excluded from the love of God?  That word is "porneo" and was originally translated as whore-monger i.e. pimps who enslave people of both genders in the sex trade!  That is as far from a healthy relationship as one can get, and the gender of the people involved is irrelevant.  REJECT!)

And so I grew to believe that gay people were people outside the Christian faith, who were choosing to act in certain ways that for some reason indicated that they did not love God.  Though I didn't really understand it, I accepted it.  It was "in the Bible".

And then reality broke through.  I love it when God does that, breaks through my false religious notions with a good dose of reality.  That reality, that Christians who love Jesus, who had never been abused, had never been exposed to the so-called "gay agenda", children from committed Christian home schooling families, are also gay, blew me away.  Blew. Me. Away.

See, there is no command to reject gay people, but there is a command to unconditionally, without reservation, lavish acceptance, compassion, support and welcome (how Jesus loves me) on my fellow believers.  

It's a command.  It's non-negotiable.  And there is a whole lot of actions and attitudes encompassed in the words "love as I have loved you". 

Jesus listens to me as I pour my heart out in prayer.  Therefore I need to listen to my fellow believer as they pour their heart out to me.  Jesus is so compassionate to me when I am in emotional distress.  Therefore I must show compassion to my fellow believers who are in any emotional distress.  Jesus responds to my prayers by meeting my needs.  Therefore I must respond to my fellow believers by attempting to meet their need.

It's non-negotiable.  It's a command.

My brother in Christ, Justin over at The Gay Christian Network rocked my world and opened my eyes to the reality that "one another"s are sometimes gay.  As I listened to my brothers and sisters in Christ share their stories on the video Through My Eyes, suddenly I knew there  was only ONE truly Christian response to homosexuality.  That would be the same response we have to heterosexuality.  We should unconditionally love and accept our brothers and sisters in Christ as the people they are created.  As Christ loves me, which is amazingly and overwhelmingly lavish, I am to love my fellow believers.  All of them.

I feel so strongly about this, that if anyone wants to privately e-mail me your address, I will purchase a copy of this DVD for you and have it sent to your address.  Email me at: to(underscore)shadowspring(at)yahoo(dot)com.

It's time we quit pretending to obey Jesus while pleasing ourselves, and get down to the one command He was so serious about that he actually called it a command.

Peace to all who read here.