Archive for the 'How I see it' Category

29
Mar
13

Kindly Read Your Bible

There are a great many ignorant people who call themselves Christians and like to spout off about how other people behave and call out folks for supposedly persecuting them and whatever else. As a Christian myself, I’d like to remind y’all to actually read your Bibles front to back at least once, and preferably two or three times, before you open your mouths again (or type out your religious opinions on Twitter or wherever).

One of my twitterfolk just posted today that he blocked someone for stupidly chastising him that Jesus was the only person ever crucified.

Really?

Only person?

Even if the ignoramus in question didn’t know history, and the fact that Romans routinely crucified people to send a really harsh message about what they were capable of doing to dissidents, you should know from reading the damn Bible that two other people (thieves) were being crucified right next to Jesus!

Christians who can’t be bothered to actually read their Bibles or pay attention in church are, in my opinion, not allowed to comment on their own religion, criticize others’ practice of it, judge anyone (and if you read your Bible you’d know you aren’t supposed to judge), correct anyone on spiritual matters, etc.

It’s bad enough to read the Bible and misunderstand it…or take the symbolic parts literally…or not consider context…or anything else that leads to ignorant attitudes. But when you can’t even get the facts straight on something as basic as crucifixion, you simply need to go into a corner and leave the rest of us alone.

Oh, and may you have a blessed Easter season if you recognize it as a spiritual time and/or a holiday celebration.

16
Oct
12

The Oppressed Christian?

In the early days of this blog, I think I may have posted a few times on the prevailing view of supposedly well-educated U.S. citizens (and probably those of most Western nations) toward Christianity. More on that in a moment, though, after I ridicule off-the-deep-end evangelistic former child star Kirk Cameron for his take on his own “crucifixion” for his beliefs.

Cameron is a moron. He left his critical thinking at the door a long time ago (if he ever possessed it), a fact made most obviously when he did a video with another loonball Christian about how the banana is “the atheist’s nightmare” because it somehow proves the existence of God. (Here on YouTube, and also here)

I’m a Christian. While I don’t know the precise nature and scope of God, I do believe in Him and that Jesus was His son (whether literally or spiritually) in whom was vested God’s power and the ability to grant salvation to all humans, among other neat skills like healing and making wine out of water, both of which would come in handy at a lot of parties (oh, Jesus made jokes, people, and I love my savior; don’t go pointing sacrilege fingers at me if you’re Christian).

None of these beliefs of mine, however, interfere with my belief in (and respect for) science. I simply have faith that there is a spiritual realm and a temporal one, and you can’t prove or disprove one with the other.

People like Kirk Cameron, though, make people like me look bad. And believe me, there are many people like me. Some 20 percent of the U.S. populations considers itself “unchurched” now (that doesn’t meant they’re all atheists; some of you evangelical atheists out there need to read about those stats more closely), so it’s clear that the church in all its forms has failed miserably to move with the times (regardless of the specific faith). And move it must, the Christian church being one of the most notable these days, as it always has in the past, adapting and evolving many times, no matter how many Christian leaders try to convince people otherwise.

Cameron thinks he’s being crucified for being called out on his homophobia, a bigotry which is entirely out of step with Christian love and acceptance of people where they are at. (By the way, in fair disclosure, I’ve had some out-of-step opinions about same-gender relations in the past on this blog, but even though I no longer see it as a sin…even when I did, I didn’t see it as worse than any other sins we all commit.) Cameron is, again, a moron. Also a slightly blasphemous moron, since Jesus and a whole lot of other people endured Roman crucifixion, and based on what I’ve read about it, no level of public ridicule compares to that suffering. So, suck it, Kirk Cameron.

Now, that said, I am going to continue to hold to a theory that I’ve espoused before on this blog, and that is that Christianity gets the side-eye a lot from other people, even people who sometimes attend Christian churches. So, if the name “Jesus” comes out of my mouth, I can pretty much anticipate that many people in hearing distance are going to tense up. If I discuss my faith or the value I see in it, I can expect that I will get a lot of ridicule, whether spoken or unspoken.

And I don’t just mean from atheists; this cuts across most lines. Moreover, this kind of attitude is generally reserved for Christians. Sure, plenty of racist, demagogic, jingoistic bastards look askance at Muslims in the United States, but what I’m talking about are the more educated and/or “aware” people, who don’t judge any other religion (Wicca, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) and often express curiosity about them, but openly show disdain toward Christians, even when said Christians aren’t behaving badly.

Kirk Cameron is wrong that he or Christians in general are persecuted in the United States. Far from it. They still hold great gobs of influence and don’t have to worry about being strung up for their beliefs. But it is true that, much like the notion that white men are the only group you can joke about safely now (somewhat true), Christians are one of the few religious groups you can make open fun of with little chance of blowback (unless you’re in the rural portions of the Bible Belt, perhaps).

I say this not to defend Cameron, who had earned all kinds of reasons to be made fun of because there is little thought or logic behind his statements. I say this to remind everyone that Christians are people, too, and most of them aren’t going to bite.

Or even try to convert you.

So let’s band together in making fun of Kirk Cameron, if nothing else.

28
Sep
12

A New Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, reportedly in Heaven,
hollowed be thy name.

Jesus’ cred undone,
by callous Christians,
putting petty desires front and center.

Give us this day our daily dread
as we bask in cruelty
and co-sign the cruelty of others

And let us not head toward redemption
but push others under the bus.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in the church, the more traditional version…

“Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
05
Jun
12

Fringe-worthy

This will probably sound odd, coming from a guy who has admitted to writing erotica with a kinky twist and has near-encyclopedic (well, compared to most of the population) knowledge of the wide spectrum of fetish sex (though not even a fraction as impressive a record of dabbling in them), but I think people who operate on the fringe often deserve a second or third look in life.

I don’t mean that they should be shunned, persecuted, assumed to be horrible people or anything like that. But I do understand and even advocate the need for us to be aware of them and to try to understand their motivations, whether bad or good.

More importantly, I think we need to do that in both directions.

That is, not only do those of us who don’t share the alternative lifestyle or fringe behavior need to pay attention to the person, but also those who share such interests or support those people need to also step back and assess things at times.

It isn’t about profiling or pigeonholing or stereotyping. What I mean is that we all need to think more critically and not make assumptions that either demonize or deify certain behaviors.

This came up in my mind today thanks to a woman I know about who claims she’s being persecuted for wanting to home-school her child. I won’t name any names for a number of reasons, but her story is fishier than a working oceanside wharf. Many other home-schoolers and un-schoolers have rallied around her but I’m not so sure she deserves their blind and unwavering support. The problem is that her supporters, and supporters of such educational practices in general, will defend one of their own at the drop of a hat in many cases without really knowing the person’s situation.

Would they do the same if a pastor of a small church was engaging in questionable behaviors, acting paranoid and trying to isolate young people from family and society?

No.

Why?

Because some small churches are toxic. They might be cults. They are sometimes very small and off the mainstream track because they espouse crazy things and seek to promote and instill unhealthy mindsets. Most small churches are probably small because they simply don’t have many members and finding a church home that fits well is hard, but some are just hotbeds of wrongness. For that matter, some big churches are pretty sketchy, too, but while they promote groupthink at times, they don’t do as good a job of isolating people from the world.

Likewise, there are parents who advocate home-schooling and un-schooling because they are themselves dealing with issues…or, perhaps, NOT dealing with them and letting them fester. If a parent has mental health issues and decides to take a child or children out of the mainstream to teach them and protect them, what might in fact be happening is that they are isolated their children and inculcating in them a whole new generation of mental illness and skewed world views.

No, there is nothing wrong with home-schooling or even un-schooling, though I think the latter is way too unstructured for most kids and I think few parents can pull it off well. Hell, the wife  and I have considered the possibility of home-schooling at some point for at least a defined period of time. But we shouldn’t be quick to defend home-schoolers and un-schoolers simply because they practice a similar behavior to one we also practice or support.

And since I started off with sexual examples and metaphors, why not lob a grenade over in that camp as well?

If someone is into bondage and domination stuff, that doesn’t mean they should support every dominant person out there or encourage every submissive to do what their master or mistress says. Some of those relationships are thinly veiled domestic abuse, and we shouldn’t assume everything is peachy and fully consensual and healthy simply because the acronym BDSM has been slapped on it, no matter how sexually accepting any of us are, myself included.

And there are so many other fringe and alternative sexual behaviors, too. Some of which I’ve tried, some of which I’d like to, some of which I’m not so sure about and some of which I wouldn’t do without a gun being held to my head (and possibly not even then). If you happen to get involved with someone who has a kink you don’t share, you should probably think long and hard about that. Not to make the person out to be a deviant or freak (though that may be true at times) but to assess how important that kink is to the person and whether or not you can be in a relationship that might require that kink to be explored in order for the relationship to survive.

Also, to make sure the person you are with isn’t a freak who’s a danger to you. This is good advice in general, but what I see is that vanilla people are too quick to think a fetish means deviancy, and kinky people are too willing to assume fellow kinksters are OK when some of them are seriously touched in the head.

So, critical thinking, folks. Please use it.

Don’t rush to defend people with whom you agree, because some of them are deranged or dishonest. Also, don’t rush to judge people with whom you don’t share views.

But above all, be aware of who is around you and why they are doing what they do. Paranoia isn’t cool, but awareness is. We should question everything. Not everything all the time and in great deal, but we should question anyone’s motivations.

And sometimes that includes our own.

01
Feb
12

Of Anecdotes and Ideologues

No one loves an anecdote more than someone with a strong ideological agenda.

I mean, don’t get me wrong—most everyone likes a good anecdote. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But it’s like the lifeblood of an ideologue to have a ready collection of anecdotes to make their points and to show you that their beliefs are true and that you should agree with them and not question them. Or argue. Or point out completely obvious logical fallacies.

Whether liberal or conservative, religious or atheist, environmentalist or land baron…whatever. Stories are the key.

And that’s what anecdotes are, of course. Stories. But like folklore or fairy tales or any other story, they don’t equal truth. Truth may be in them. If they are tales of something that happened, the tale itself might be true in general terms. But tales don’t equal truth.

Yet that’s what people at the extreme end of a belief would have you believe. That’s why they whip out anecdotes like pedophiles give out candy to children to lure them into their vans.

For the conservatives, it’s so often the mythical “prosperous welfare cheat,” who in most stereotypical form is portrayed as black, female, parent to several kids, operating some under-the-radar business, driving a really nice car and living the high life in public housing while collecting food assistance, free healthcare and actual money from the government, too.

Never mind that if such people exist, they exist in numbers far too small to make an impact on the system. I know that conservative folks, especially the rich at one end and the blue collar/pink collar ones at nearly the other end, like to believe this is a real problem. It isn’t. Sure, there are lazy people on public assistance, but they don’t live any kind of “high life.” I’ve seen too many of them through my wife’s work in social services. Most people don’t want to be on the dole. It sucks and it doesn’t get you anywhere (though it might keep you alive).

Also, what the conservatives fail to point out when they trot out their often-racist welfare cheat anecdotes is that the vast majority of people on public assistance are white. In fact, many of them are Republicans and live in states with Republican majorities.

But why let facts and real truth get in the way of a good story?

I could go into the lovely anecdotes about abortion, “curing” gay men, how African-Americans and Latinos are more dangerous than whites and things like that, but why beat a dead horse when I’ve rolled out the gold standard already? And yes, I know liberals have their own misleading anecdotes, too. But you know what? Even their most outlandish ones are way closer to the truth than the conservatives’ are. Feel free to argue with me on that if you have some good examples, but I doubt you’ll get very far with me unless you abandon logical arguments.

17
Jan
12

The Gift of Getting Out of the Way

What do you do when a person you love dearly needs something that you cannot offer, or has a problem that you cannot solve?

And no, I don’t mean something that you can offer them later or figure out a solution to later. I mean things that are totally, completely and irrevocably not in your power and capabilities to do. Ever. Not for lack of skills or wont of trying, but because some things simply aren’t possible for some people to do for somebody else.

Sometimes, the answer is simple.

Not necessarily easy, but simple.

You don’t try to offer a half-ass substitute to the thing you cannot provide and you don’t keep trying to find solutions.

You stop. You get out of their way. You give that person space and you support him or her as best you can.

Why?

So that they can see clearly enough, past the obstacle that is your well-meaning insufficiency, and look for someone or something that will solve that problem.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but one that more of us need to for the sake of our relationships of all kinds in our lives.

29
Nov
11

Lack of Focus

Or, perhaps, the title of this post should be “The Wrong Focus.”

Some of the most fervent people pursue their missions from entirely the wrong standpoint, and so it is with many conservative, fundamentalist Christians, because they aren’t really as focused on the fundamentals as their descriptor would suggest.

See, my problem with the “fundies” isn’t so much that they want to promote biblical ideals and Bible-based behavior as it is that they put at the top of their agenda subjects on which Jesus didn’t really focus and/or that are only hinted at vaguely in the Bible…while also putting at the bottom of their priority list those things on which Jesus spoke most clearly and directly.

So, on the one hand, they’ll pick out a Bible passage about ancient punishments for hitting a pregnant woman in the belly and killing her unborn child, along with God’s words in the Book of Jeremiah “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” and say, “See! God hates abortion! Let’s go have a huge campaign against women controlling their own bodies and hijack freedom of choice and science while ignoring more pertinent issues that affect more people.”

Never mind that causing the death of a woman’s fetus in an act of violence or irresponsibility was a crime because it assumed the woman wanted to give birth and you took that away from her (i.e. took the life that she had charge of). Also never mind that the quote from Jeremiah is about foreknowledge and foreplanning on God’s part, not about when life begins. Never mind that Jesus never once mentioned anything about fetuses, and his words are the ones Christians should focus on most.

And then, on the other hand, with poverty rising, kids and adults going without food, healthcare becoming increasingly inaccessible and the rich hoarding more and more of the money just because they can (even though they don’t need that much), you’ll see fundies cringe at any notion that even hints at socialism or talks about fairness and sharing, even though Jesus spent huge gobs of his time talking about economic fairness and taking care of the less fortunate.

Not to mention the fact the early Christian church essentially practiced communism, or something very close to it.

But they’ll ignore that and point to his parable of the talents and claim Jesus was a free market capitalist even though the parable is talking about spiritual growth and responsibility, not wealth creation.

Shaking my damn head…




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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