piasharn: (St Kateri Tekakwitha)
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
--Sinclair Lewis

Before I moved, I overheard a local radio d.j. bitching about comedians and television shows making jokes aimed at Christians and/or Christianity. This, he bemoaned, was obviously the product of the Liberal Media. Why, oh why, were these soulless bastards taking shots at Christianity rather than Islam (or any other religion, for that matter)?

Well, I may be over exaggerating exactly what he said, but the gist of it is still there. And I found myself wondering exactly what shows this man was watching. Off the top of my head, I could think of several series: Family Guy, Futurama, American Dad, Morel Orel, Metalocalypse... Each of these shows has poked fun at Judaism, Islam, Native American Spirituality, Satanism, and/or Paganism.

Also, it may be worth noting that the majority of Americans (and probably a large number of the people making Christian jokes) are Christians themselves. Jokes only work when the audience is familiar with the material. A Hindu joke probably won't get as big of a laugh out of U.S. citizens for the simple fact that most of them know little to nothing about Hinduism. (For that matter, I seem to recall that a lot of religious jokes in anime tend to be Buddhist in nature. Not surprising, since Japan's population is largely Buddhist.)

However, there was more to this man's comments that bothered me. Namely, the fact that he got so worked up over this issue. Here he is, living in a nation that is largely Christian. Christian churches abound across the nation (in fact, west Michigan - where this d.j. heralds from - has one of the largest concentrations of churches per square mile in the nation). He doesn't have to worry about being threatened, beaten up, or fired because of his religion. He can go to church without worrying that it will be targeted by anti-Christian terrorists.

The President of the United States is a Christian (Even if he rarely follows Jesus' teachings, but that's a different subject.) and has filled his staff with members of the Religious Right. The vast majority of Senators, Representatives, Governors, Mayors, and other elected officials are Christian. The President has even vowed to veto a bill that would include sexual orientation as a factor to be considered in hate crimes because it might discriminate against Christians.

Programs like the 700 Club abound on television and radio, and major movers and shakers in the various Christian organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council has a good amount of sway in Washington.

So what is this guy complaining about?

Oh, yeah... someone made a joke.

Sadly, this one disc jockey in the Midwest is not alone. More and more, I've been hearing from those who claim that Christianity is under attack and that Christians face severe persecution in their everyday lives. (It really makes me want to drag out the history books and show these people exactly what Christian martyrs in past centuries were subjected to.)

Christianity is under siege from liberals, feminists, homosexuals, secular humanists... you name it. Apparently these groups are large, well-funded, and have vast holds of Washington and the media.

It would be funny if they weren't so serious. I would roll my eyes at the exaggeration, but these people have loud voices and more and more people are listening to them.

If you repeat something often enough, people begin to believe it, irregardless of its truth.

More and more people are finding themselves deep in despair. Their lives are, quite literally, falling apart. The cost of living is rising rapidly, but their wages are not seeing a similar increase. Manufacturing jobs that could be counted on to support a family are being shipped overseas. People are trying to scrape by in fields that only make a fraction of what they need. Bills are adding up.

Divorce rates are on the rise. The quality of education is decreasing even as the cost of tuition goes up. Things seem to be falling wildly out of control, spinning the population into chaos, and there is nowhere to go.

American culture is becoming increasingly soulless. People live in vast suburbs where they hardly see people out during the day, spend hours on the road driving to or from work, kill time talking on the phone or surfing the internet. The most human interaction they get comes from bosses bitching at them or the pimpled teen at the drive-thru handing them a burger.

People are scared, and they have a right to be. Society really does seem to be crumbling around them. That's why the Religious Right, why the Megachurches, have such a draw. They offer a way to make things right again. They give a cause to believe in, a scapegoat to blame. Never mind that many of the hot-button issues they pound away at - abortion, sex, homosexuality - have little to no impact on the things these people really need. It gives them a focus for their rage and fear.

"Stories of rage are first stories of despair."

I picked up a copy of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America one day while browsing at a bookstore. The author, Chris Hedges, had been on The Daily Show recently, and I had agreed with many of the things he said. I didn't intend to buy a copy, at least not right away, since I knew he would be preaching to the choir. However, I was curious, so I sat down and began flipping through the pages.

I ended up buying the book that day after all.

What disturbs me so much is not necessarily what the Religious Right preaches, but how it spreads its message. How it targets the fearful, the lost, the down-and-out and manipulates them, separates them from their former lives (often breaking families apart) until these people are isolated and have nowhere else to go. It bothers me that there are classes that instruct people on how to invent a story about how they were saved by Jesus to use to convert others. It scares me that no one points out the hypocrisy of the Religious Right leaders who own mansions and private jets that are paid for by the tithes of their flock, people who are often barely making ends meet as it is, people who never see that money funneled back into programs that could help them.

I don't like seeing other people manipulated and used to begin with, but when it's done in the name of God and Jesus, it just makes me sick.

It scares me witless that not only are these people that depraved, but that they are winning many cultural battles. Evolution, the foundation of so many branches of science, is being downplayed more and more to placate these people. Creationism, which has no place in a science classroom, is frequently being added to the curriculum to pacify its followers. So much of what we have learned over the centuries is being discarded because it offends.

And now it appears that one cannot even make a joke without someone bemoaning their persecuted state.
piasharn: (Harry and Hedwig)
With the release of the seventh, and final(!), book drawing nigh, I figure that I ought to jot these down now.

Cut for the uninterested. )

Also, here's a discarded theory that I never got around to posting, and was tossed out after I read Half-Blood Prince.

Voldemort's immortality and the Death Eaters. )
piasharn: (Flying Spaghetti Monster)
Before I forget, happy Banned Books Week! Check out the list and pick up a banned book today. Sadly, I have made little headway since I last posted on the subject. Still, a little headway is better than no headway, eh?
piasharn: (Delirium)
I think the one thing that I really love about the internet is the reading material. Sure, you have to wade through a lot of shit, but you're never at a loss for something to occupy your time. And, once in a while, you come across an absolute gem.

      I lay there and think about Chris. His contacts at the newspaper would be good to have, for publicity, but his guilty conscience would do us in. I took him with me to church, six months ago, on a day when the topic was "the problem of homosexual indoctrination." We stayed in the parking lot, and I slit every tire on every car. Chris gave his own sermon, to me, on the unhealthiness of anger.

      I gave him a stack of fliers for a roadside assistance service. It was run by a man who funded anti gay marriage commercials on TV, and in the newspapers. The slogan at the top of his flier was "Let us help." One went in the windshield of every slashed car.

      Chris didn't appreciate the beauty of turning our enemies against one another. "They aren't our enemies," he said on the subway ride home. "They're human beings, just like you and me."

      "I think they'd disagree about the 'you and me' part," I said.

      No, Chris isn't going to get involved in this. Richard is asleep beside me, and I climb out of the bed as softly as I can. Slitting a few tires and inciting a few angry phone calls is nothing compared to what these people deserve. I'm tired of the moral high ground. We've already got more than our share of Gandhis in "the movement". We need a General Patton.

      No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor bastard die for HIS country.

That's an bit from a novel called Lockpick Pornography by Joey Comeau. The first seven chapters of it are available for free online. [Insert a generic warning for violence, language, sex, and TEH GAY here.] Even if you don't want to shell out the cash for the book, I recommend reading the free bits. I like it. I really like it. Then again, I have a serious kink for gender fuck, and, boy, does this novel hit that nail right on the head.

(There's just something beautiful about the idea of a gay man pretending to be a Drag King in order to sneak into a Lesbian Ball.)

I am a pacifist; I believe in non-violent methods of solving problems. However, I have to admit that I envy these characters at times. There has been more than one occasion in which I have wanted to throw up my hands and say, "Fuck it. They're going to think that I am a perverted, criminal deviant who is out to convert their children no matter what I do. So why not? Might as well be hung for the sheep as for the lamb."
piasharn: (Beth Oblong)
"Whenever I notice that my name isn't on the list of banned and challenged authors, I feel faintly like I'm letting the side down. Although I suspect all I'd have to do to get on the list is to write a book about naked, bisexual, hard-swearing wizards who drink a lot while disparaging the Second Amendment, and I'd be home and dry."
--Neil Gaiman

Here's more information on banned books, for those who are interested.

It still amazes me that the Harry Potter series is banned for its theme of wizards and magic, yet The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and, for that matter, the entire fucking fantasy genre deal with the exact same subjects and are not included on the list. Really, people. Where is the logic here?

While I was surprised that I have read a lot of books on the list (Some, like Bridge to Terabithia, were required reading when I was in grade school.), I was dismayed to discover that the number of banned books that I have not read is quite extensive. Methinks I ought to remidy the situation.

July 2012

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