piasharn: (One of Those Days (artwork by mnemosyne))
Utah outlaws miscarriages.

No, I'm not kidding. This is serious.

Really.

...

...

...

...to be perfectly honest, the only thing I can think of is, "Thank the gods I started drinking before I read that." (Don't look at me like that. I work the graveyard shift. I'm allowed to drink during the day.) Even still, I really, REALLY want to go beat the shit out of the people who pushed through this piece of shit legislation.

Y'know, Utah, first the Mormons* out there helped pass prop 8 out here in California (and, really, couldn't you keep your bigoted opinions in your own state?) and now this. Are you trying to make me hate you with the fire of a thousand suns? 'Cause I'm pretty damn close.

Damn it... I need more rum.

* I realize that not all Mormons were involved in passing prop 8. There were many who are vehemently against the Mormon church's stance towards LGBT people. And there are many who, while they are not pro-LGBT, don't feel the need to impose their beliefs on non-Mormon people. I have no qualms with you guys. It's the ones who think that EVERYONE needs to be forced, by law, to live according to their beliefs that make me want to punch something. Or someone.

piasharn: (One of Those Days (artwork by mnemosyne))
Utah outlaws miscarriages.

No, I'm not kidding. This is serious.

Really.

...

...

...

...to be perfectly honest, the only thing I can think of is, "Thank the gods I started drinking before I read that." (Don't look at me like that. I work the graveyard shift. I'm allowed to drink during the day.) Even still, I really, REALLY want to go beat the shit out of the people who pushed through this piece of shit legislation.

Y'know, Utah, first the Mormons* out there helped pass prop 8 out here in California (and, really, couldn't you keep your bigoted opinions in your own state?) and now this. Are you trying to make me hate you with the fire of a thousand suns? 'Cause I'm pretty damn close.

Damn it... I need more rum.

* I realize that not all Mormons were involved in passing prop 8. There were many who are vehemently against the Mormon church's stance towards LGBT people. And there are many who, while they are not pro-LGBT, don't feel the need to impose their beliefs on non-Mormon people. I have no qualms with you guys. It's the ones who think that EVERYONE needs to be forced, by law, to live according to their beliefs that make me want to punch something. Or someone.

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: (St Kateri Tekakwitha)
I'm doing my morning blog reading, and I come upon this post by Ampersand at Alas, A Blog. For those who don't want to click on the link, Ampersand is discussing a recent story in the Daily Mail about a mother who finds her children boring and the rather vehment response in the blogosphere from MommyBloggers.

I don't really have much to say on that topic. Being of a firmly Childfree mindset, my comments would probably be disqualified anyway.

What struck me was the description one of the MommyBlogger repliers had of herself:

"I am a saved-by-grace wife and mommy who strives to do things that will bring honor to both my family and to God. However, with my strong will and sassy mouth, I consistently fail to meet those goals. Thank goodness for forgiveness and the fact that tomorrow is a brand-new day..."

Ampersand comments, "With all due respect to Jenn, I’d hate to think God opposes women having strong wills and sassy mouths," and I agree with him wholeheartedly. However, that isn't the point of this post either.

Rather, it's the idea that this woman is frequently (and knowingly) doing things that she believes to be sinful, but she's alright with it because God forgives her. It's an attitude that I see a lot in my neck of the woods, and one of the things that irritates me about a lot of modern Christians.

They don't use their faith to make themselves or the world around them a better place. Instead, they use it as a shield to hide behind or as an excuse for their behavior. And as an excuse for not changing their behavior.

It's the guy who goes out and gets drunk, then comes home and beats up his wife, prays to God for forgiveness, then does the same thing the next weekend. It's the woman who takes a job as a pharmacist, refuses to fill a prescription for birth control, then claims her religious freedom is being oppressed when she is fired for not doing her job.

Talking to a former coworker one morning, she related to me how a relative of hers is always giving her crap for her smoking. "If God wanted you to smoke," she quoted his favorite phrase, "he would have put a smokestack on your head!"

"Well, did he ever have his appendix removed?" I asked her. After receiving her assent that he had, I suggested that the next time he started in on her for smoking, she point that out and tell him that, "If God didn't want you to die of appendicitis, he would have created you without an appendix!" Perhaps by having his appendix removed prior to it bursting was actually going against God's will.

(She thought that was a great reply, although I'm doubtful that it will have any effect. That sort of person rarely changes.)

Lets say that I went out and did something bad - got drunk and drove around - and was honestly sorry afterwards. I don't doubt that my parents, although they would be mad at me for doing something so stupid, would forgive me for my sin. However, if I did the same thing the week after that and the week after that, they wouldn't be nearly as forgiving. After all, we're supposed to learn from our mistakes, and the "I'm so sorry!" routine loses it's believability when you know the person saying it is just going to go out and repeat their offenses. I don't know about your parents, but mine would cease to be forgiving after a while.

I know that God is supposed to have infinite forgiveness, but I don't think that infinite stupidity is part of the package.
piasharn: (South Park Self Portrait)
If you don't like cutting down trees, don't become a lumberjack.

I cannot recall who expressed this thought in a conversation on whether or not pharmacists should be allowed to not fill prescriptions based on moral reasons, but it adaptly fits my feelings on the matter. If a person feels that it is morally wrong to fill a prescription for, say, birth-control pills, then perhaps they are not in the right career.

It's easy to say that the customer should simply go to another pharmacist, but what if that is not an option? What if they are travelling and are in an unknown town? What if they live in a very rural area where there is only one pharmacy? What are they supposed to do when the pharmacist not only refuses to fill their prescription, but will not return the 'script so that they can have it filled somewhere else?

What if said prescription is being used for something other than the popular usage? For example, I have a prescription for birth-control pills that has nothing to do with sexual activity and pregnancy prevention. My hormones are off balance, and, as a result, I do not get a period if I am not on birth-control pills. If a woman does not have a period at least once every three months, the lining of the uterus begins to harden up and puts the woman at a higher risk for developing cancer. My prescription has nothing to do with birth-control, and everything to do with cancer prevention.

Since it has become legal for pharmacists to not fill medications for moral reasons, we've seen a lot of people suffer as a result. Of course, denied prescriptions are mostly birth-control, emergency contraception, and whatnot, but where will it end? And why should I have to live by someone else's beliefs?

Walgreen's recently fired some Illinois employees for refusing to fill a customer's prescription for moral reasons. The company offered to help them relocate to Missouri (where their actions would be legal) and find them new jobs. Instead, the three ex-employees have decided to take them to court.

Unsurprisingly, their fees are being paid for by none other than Pat Robertson.

The "Christian pharmacist" groups and their backers say that not only should they be able to refuse to dispense medications they find immoral, but that they should have the right to refuse to help patients find other pharmacists who will help them. In fact, some claim they have the right to sieze the customer's prescription, and say that returning it to the patient would be tantamount to collaborating in a murder.

That's a very severe belief, but it's one they have every right to have. Being true to that belief, however, should demand something of them - that they choose not to be pharmacists in a civil society that practices freedom of religion. After all, Thoreau and Gandhi went to prison for their beliefs. All that these fundamentalist pharmacists' consciences ask of them is that they quit their jobs at Rite-Aid or CVS.

(source)
piasharn: (St Kateri Tekakwitha)
Do you ever come across a random LJ post and, after scanning it briefly, think to yourself, "Hey, this is intelligent and informative and well written, and I'd really like to sit down and analyze it to death at this moment, but if I don't get off my butt right now I am going to be late as hell for work," so you click the handy little "add to memories" button and skeedaddle on out? And then you have a horrid day, your boss was bitchier than usual, your customers were exceedingly rude, and you remember that you still have that project to finish up for school, and... Well, the intelligent, informative, well written post gets completely forgotten.

It happens to me more often than I'd care to admit.

Anyway, I was going through my memories lately. Gods knows why. I think I was bored and looking for some reading material so that I could continue procrastinating on my homework. I came across a series of entries by [livejournal.com profile] bradhicks that I had saved, but forgotten to read. Grateful for the distraction, I clicked the link and commenced my reading.

You know, I'm really glad I saved those posts, because they are really fucking good. So good, in fact, that I've decided to pimp them to the handful of people that are reading this.

The series, titled "Christians in the Hand of an Angry God", deals with how Christian churches in the United States have stopped preaching the true message of Jesus, and switched over to a false doctrine that is dooming many people to an eternity in Hell. It shows how the Republican party came to be known as the party of the faithful, despite the fact that their beliefs are the exact opposite of what Jesus preached, and how these two events are connected.

So, go read and learn:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Now, I need I really do need to stop procrastinating, as I once again have last-minute homework to finish up. Although, come to think about it, I do still have another 12 hours before it's due...
piasharn: (St Kateri Tekakwitha)
There's a bumper-sticker that I keep meaning to buy for my car which states, "God, protect me from your followers." When I first saw it, it was just a cute, catchy phrase to me. With each year that goes by, it has morphed into an actual prayer.

Because, quite frankly, the stupidity of Creationists (among other Christian nutjobs) just scares me.

Oh, it's not that they believe in a Higher Power, or that said Power created the universe. It's their total denial of the mountains of scientific evidence which continues to show us that life evolved into the current forms it takes. It's how they insist that their views deserve equal time in classes and other areas of science when said beliefs have nothing to do with science.

Take this incident for example. The Tulsa Zoo, in Oklahoma, will be adding a display on the creation of the Earth according to the Bible. Many people have spoken up against this, saying that tax money should not be used to promote this belief in a scientific setting.

Those that pushed it through have pointed out that other religious symbols are already present (such as a depiction of the Hindu god Ganesh) and that if they deny this display, it would be religious discrimination. "It's a matter of fairness," said the Tulsa resident who started the whole shebang. "To not include the creationist view would be discrimination."

Normally, I'd say he has a point. If you're going to promote one religion, you've got to allow others to have a place. However, what these people are missing is that the zoo is not promoting any religious views.

The statue of Lord Ganesh that is present in the zoo is not there to educate people about (or convert them to) Hinduism. The zoo has several displays which show how different cultures symbolize the various animals. Lord Ganesh's image is there as part of a display on elephant symbols. Said display also includes the logo of the Republican party.

Too bad they can't seem to realize the difference.
piasharn: (Tibetan Prayer Flag)
488 years later, a church in Wittenburg gets a theses posted to its door once again. I wonder if 95 Theses: Christianity for a New Millennium by Matthew Fox will initiate similar results. Especially since the Catholic Church does not appear to have learned from it's past mistakes.

For those not familiar with his work, Matthew Fox is a former Dominican priest. His beliefs did not blend well with the official stance of the church. He teaches that God is both mother and father, female and male. He often emphasizes the feminine aspect, because the Church has swung so alarmingly towards the masculine, and he feels this needs to be balanced out. He teaches that sexuality is sacred, that science and religion are compatible, and that homosexuals should be accepted within the church. He uses scripture to show that God accepts all of these stances.

Needless to say, the Catholic Church wasn't very happy with his outspoken heresy and had him expelled. As were around 100 other theologians and pastoral ministers who challenged the anti-women, anti-sex, anti-homosexuality doctrine of John Paul II. As an interesting side note, the man who expelled them was none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now currently referred to as Benedict XVI) in his role of Head of the Congregation of Doctrine and the Faith, formally known as the Holy Inquisition, and was founded in the 16th century to fight the outcome of the previous theses.

Anyhow, the new Pope has stated that he will listen to the whole church. Fox has thus traveled to Wittenburg to once again issue a challenge to the Church.

(My personal favorite: 16. Christians must distinguish between Jesus and Paul.)

While the Church certainly no longer condones the selling of indulgences, it is still acting in a manner that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. It is using the name of God to justify actions which are ignorant, foolish, hateful, harmful, and even deadly. The Church may not be committing the same sins as their predecessors, but it still has a lot to answer for.

The Church's opposition to sex education and condoms (along with other methods of birth control) has resulted in many African nations having little to no access to either, which has since greatly contributed to the spread of the AIDS epidemic raging in the continent. They could save so many lives if they would help educate and protect the population, but they have chosen not to.

It ignored the widespread problem of priests molesting children. Instead of addressing the problem, the scandals hushed up and the priests were quietly moved from church to church. The Church knowingly allowed children to be molested and harmed by this course of action.

It condones the teaching of lies and ignores scientific evidence when it conflicts with its preconceived notions of the universe. Hell, it took them 359 years to admit that Galileo was right all along. They may no longer be pushing the flat-earth and geocentric theories when describing our surroundings, but they are still claiming that creationism be taught alongside evolution. You can no more teach biology without the theory of evolution than you can teach physics without the theory of relativity. But this is exactly what the Church is doing.

It continues to condemn homosexuals despite the large amount of historical, psychological, and biological evidence that shows us that it is perfectly normal for a small percentage of the population. It continues to deride and oppress women.

I left the Christian faith and my own Catholic upbringing for many reasons. Please understand, I don't hate Christianity. I greatly admire Jesus and what he did. I truly believe that he was a manifestation of the Divine. Alas, I am forced to agree with Gandhi when he said, "I like your Jesus. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Jesus."

People like Matthew Fox give me hope. Let's see if Benedict XVI will live up to his promise to be attentive to all Christians. Let us hope that he listens to this new theses. Let him remember that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.


Yes, I know that the month and day that Luther posted his 95 Theses is debatable. I just needed a title for this entry and I couldn't think of anything better.

July 2012

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