Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And you shall know them by their enemies...

I know that a lot of my friends don't really get why I like Lady Gaga as much as I do.  Can't blame them really, I've never been that big into pop music and let's face it, Lady Gaga is weird to the point of ridiculousness sometimes.  But she is also ridiculously talented and her songs are catchy and fun (even when the lyrics make no sense).

But let's say the music means nothing to you, you just can't stand listening to her, is there any other reason to like her?  Well I can point out that she is on the right side of a lot of issues - bullying, discrimination, equality, acceptance.  Even if you think she is totally pretentious and fake you'd be hard pressed to deny that she is making a lot of marginalized groups feel more hopeful.

One more thing.  You know how people always say you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep?  Well that's certainly true but I would posit that you could also learn a hell of a lot about a person by looking at the people who hate them.  The following people - and this is not an exhaustive list, this is just off the top of my head - really seem to hate Lady Gaga with a passion:

The Westboro Baptists

Crazy New World Order conspiracy nuts peddling Satanic panic

Crazy "Turn or burn" style street evangelists

Focus on the Family

and most recently, violent Islamic fundamentalists.

With enemies like those, she must be doing something right!  When anti-democratic, anti-secular groups like the Islamic Defenders Front, call someone a "messenger of the devil" I consider that a badge of honour.

"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."  (Luke 6:26)
See?  Even Jesus agrees that it's better to be hated by some people than to be loved by everyone.

And considering the kind of people who hate her, doesn't it just make more sense to love her?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nothing left but the heebie-jeebies

Once upon a time, not too very long ago, it was pretty easy to not be accepting of homosexuals.  Homosexuals were criminals, they were perverts, they were sinners, they were mentally ill, they were unnatural and scary and different.  But not anymore.  These days it has become a lot harder to hold on to such beliefs.  Those who would still oppose homosexuality are finding themselves increasingly without a leg to stand on and for that very reason, support for equality is growing rapidly.

I think it all started unraveling when it was decriminalized and when healthcare professionals stopped considering it a mental illness.  After all, if these people were not criminals and they weren't ill, why shouldn't they be treated equally?

With homosexuality becoming more mainstream, more and more gays took the brave step of coming out and suddenly they weren't so different and scary anymore either.  Turns out they aren't perverts, they are our friends and family and our neighbours and some of our favourite celebrities.  It's easy to distrust a group you don't know but when you find out that someone you know and like is part of that group, it makes you look at it a little differently.

Surely it's still unnatural though right?  Well I previously wrote a blog post pointing out that homosexuality is found all over nature and is therefore completely natural in every sense of the word.  However last time my primary source was and while it's pretty informative, it's still a comedy website.  So here is a far more scientific (though still fun) video explaining how homosexuality is natural and compatible with evolution*.  (With bonus apology by Ted Haggard, which was nice) 

So then, it's not criminal, insane, perverted, different, scary or unnatural.  What about sinful.  Well, yes according to the Bible homosexuality is definitely a sin.  But so what?  There are tons of stuff in the Bible every good Christian is more than happy to ignore today because it doesn't make sense and no longer fits with our understanding of the world.  Why can homosexuality be one of them?  If you can grill porkchops and prawns on the sabbath then you can certainly be OK with the gays.  If you are born with it and you can't change it no matter how hard you try to pray it away, can it really be a sin?

So what reason can there be left to still hate on the gays?  Nothing but the heebie-jeebies.  I think that's were it starts for most people anyway.  Potholer makes a great point, for a straight guy thinking about gay sex is icky.  I certainly don't like seeing it much.  But so what?  Other things I find equally icky would be old people doing it, obese people doing it and any and all family members doing it (the list goes on but I'll stop it there).  But I don't begrudge them their right to do it.  I wouldn't dream of stopping them from doing it.  I don't talk about it (with the exception of this blog post) with other people so they can nod their heads and agree with how terribly wrong it is.  I don't try to have the laws changed to keep people who have icky sex from doing it.  What the old and fat and related do in the privacy of their bedrooms is their business so why not make the same exception for gays?

They're here, they're queer and you really should be used to it by now.  If you can't accept them then at least be honest with yourself as to why.  I bet that deep down, it's probably just heebie-jeebies.

*It truly is amazing how many people who utterly reject evolution still like to point out that being gay could not have evolved and is therefore unnatural!

Sunday, May 27, 2012



A while back there was an unusually insightful article on Cracked called, "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women".  I found it to be disturbingly true and it made me feel like I owed women everywhere an apology or something.  It really gave me a lot to think about.

So then when I was putting my post on the Purity Culture together I read a post by Libby Anne titled "Who are the Real Babies? House-Proofing and Modesty" which was also about how men treat women only this time I felt less apologetic and more pissed off.  I've been bamboozled!  We all were!  This is not OK!

Let me explain.

Libby Anne pointed out that there is a strange disconnect in patriarchal Christianity between how children are supposed to behave and how men get to behave.  Everyone is supposed to practice self control, everyone needs to know that they can't have everything they see except men for some reason.

 "  Babies - should be taught self-control. To not act on what they see. If what they see (i.e. Mom’s glass vase) causes them problems, they should be taught to simply not act on their urges. Nothing should be hidden to protect them from stumbling.

    Adult men - should be protected from seeing things that makes them stumble. If what they see (i.e. the female shoulder or knee) cause them problems, it should be hidden from them. Nobody expect that their self-control has to protect them from stumbling.

    There is something seriously wrong with a system where babies have to be punished if they don’t act right, and the world has to be adult-male proofed to not tempt them. In a sane world adults are punished for not acting right, and houses are baby-proofed.

    . . .

Who are the babies in patriarchy? The 16- month olds who are expected to have self-control even though your ornaments are on display, or the 30 and 50 year olds from whom you should hide things? And why does patriarchy want people to be led by the “babies” from whom self-control is not expected?"

So in other words, men are all barely controlled intercourse monsters and therefore they must be protected from women leading them astray with all their tempting female-ness.  The slightest temptation can lead to an avalanche dirty sexy sinning so never poke the bear - you wouldn't like him when he's horny!  That was my take away message from all the Christian sex talk anyway.  And it's bullshit.  Also it isn't.

Sexy thoughts = One way trip to HELL!!!

See, it's true but it doesn't have to be.  Unfortunately this becomes a case of self fulfilling prophecy.  True fact:  people live down to the expectations you put on them.  If you tell guys that they can't really control themselves from a young age, they're going to believe that and they're going to become that.

Now that's bad in pretty much every level of society but it's especially bad in the church.  There you get the one-two punch of firstly being told you are a barely civilized sex machine who can only think of sex and will constantly "sin" by lusting and thinking about sex (or as everyone else knows it, having a normal sex drive) and secondly you must not do any of that (seeing how it's all terribly sinful), in fact you must never even THINK about sex.  Of course the best way to get someone to constantly think of something is to tell them they must not think of it.  Is it any surprise that about 50% of Christian men admit to being addicted to pornography?

None of this has to be.  We are not victims of our biology, or at least we don't have to be.  I've argued it before (a lifetime ago) that if there is such a thing as a "real man" it would be someone who is more than his biology.  I stand by that.  Men should be held to a higher standard than the church and the world at large are setting for them.  It's not impossible, it can be done.  It needs to be done.  Men are not just walking cocks but they will continue to act like it if they keep getting told that it's just how they're supposed to be.  And while we're at it, maybe also teach men to hold women in higher regard.  This virgin/whore dichotomy has got to go.  Women aren't objects for your lust/evil she-demons tempting you into sin/the purest and most chaste creatures on God's green earth.  They're human beings.  Treat them as such.  Trust me, it solves a lot of your "issues".

(Yep, that's a found footage Christian horror movie about the demonic influence of porn.  Seriously.)

That the massive Christian guilt tripping about sex needs to also stop should go without saying.  Sex isn't dirty or sinful, it's natural and normal.  It's OK to want it, it's OK to think about it and provided you're mature enough and responsible enough, it's OK to have it.  If you deny people that, they may just end up taking it to a very dark place...  I'm willing to bet the amount of sex scandals and general perversion within the church would all but come to an end once sex gets un-demonized.   But I'm not naive enough to think that's ever going to get tested.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Virgin Daughters

How do you feel about Purity Balls?  Since first running into the purity movement in college and seeing first hand the kind of damage it can do to people I've been telling anyone who would listen just how terrible it is.  However I just watched a really good documentary on the purity movement and it left me with a lot more sympathy for the people in it than I expected.  Don't get me wrong, I still disagree with it strongly, but I think I understand the motivations behind it all a little better now.  It's called "The Virgin Daughters" which makes it sounds like a saucy sex comedy, I know, but it's pretty much the exact opposite of that.  Still, it's very enlightening.  If you have 47 minutes to spare and you feel like learning more about this Christian subculture you can watch the whole thing on Youtube:

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions and purity movement illustrates this exceptionally well. At it's core, it has some wholesome ideas and good intentions.  However all goodness in the purity culture quickly gets eclipsed by its extreme overreactions and hyperbolic insanity. 

Fathers making their daughters feel loved and cherished is a good thing.  Fathers supporting and validating their daughters is a very good thing.  But these purity balls take that too far!  Here you have fathers basically acting like they are supposed to be surrogate boyfriends/husbands to their daughters.  That just seems creepy and weird.  It's also seems like emotional incest to me.  

Look, I get that all these parents are doing this because they want the best for their kids.  Again that part I can understand and agree with.  What parent wouldn't want to spare their child as much heartache as possible?  But I don't think that's actually possible.  Pain and disappointment is an inevitable part of life.  It doesn't matter how good you are, at some point everyone makes mistakes.  Purity culture is presented as a way to avoid all the pain and pitfalls that come with romance and intimacy but it is no solution.  All it offers to parents is the illusion of control over things that fundamentally cannot be controlled.  It's completely disconnected from reality.  Wouldn't it be better for these parents to talk to their kids, share their own experiences and try to prepare them as best they can?  Instead they isolate their kids (I'm willing to bet there is a significant overlap between people in the purity movement and homeschoolers) and try to insulate them from any possible heartbreak and bad choice.  Instead of preparing their daughters for reality they are telling them that as long as they never date or experience any kind of premarital intimacy everything will be perfect.  Compatibility doesn't matter, communication doesn't matter, the only thing you need to have a perfect marriage is virginity.  Their intentions may be good but they are setting their kids up for failure.  Worst part is that they are betting it all on an untested system.  All these parents managed to have good, happy, Christian marriages without the help of the purity movement.  Yet somehow they are willing to abandon their own experience in favour of something completely out of touch with reality.

Likewise I can understand parents wanting their children's first intimate experiences to good ones.  Your first time (at anything really) can be pretty weird and awkward, but with the right person it can also be exhilarating and wonderful.  Whether we are talking about kissing, dating or sex, ideally you want the person you have that experience with to make you feel safe and cared for, not used and judged inadequate.  The right partner makes all the difference in the world, for better or for worse.  So yes, I can fully understand a parent wanting their children's first times to be fond memories, not horrible experiences they spend their lives trying to forget.  That makes sense.  This kind of extreme abstinence on the other hand makes no sense to me whatsoever.  Insisting that your kids save not only sex but also kissing and hand holding for marriage is not the solution.  Neither is insisting that they never date anyone except the person they intend to marry.  Convincing your children that kissing someone other than their spouse is the same as adultery is messed up!  That's a great way to fill your children with tons of guilt and shame for something that's totally innocent, not to mention completely natural.  Telling your kids that dating more than one person in your lifetime means you're "giving away pieces of your heart", thereby robbing your eventual spouse by handing them a defective, incomplete heart, is nothing short of obscene.  A human being is not born with a finite amount of love they can give.  Loving one person won't cause you to eventually run out of available love for someone else!

Now I'm sure you will find purity proponents that would tell you it all works as advertised and they are extremely happy for having made this life choice.  Good for them.  As much as I disagree with the premise here, if this resonates with someone and they really want to approach their relationships this way then that should be their choice.  But it doesn't seem to be a choice these kids are making, their parents are making that choice for them.  A lot of these kids are going to find that everything doesn't always work as advertised.  Virginity doesn't guarantee happy marriage.  "Saving yourself" and "staying pure" will not prevent sexual dysfunction.  Even if you only gave your body and heart to one person in your entire life, it will not prevent sexual incompatibility from becoming a problem.  Even if you do everything "right" you can still end up unhappy and heartbroken.  There is no magical cure for reality.

For more on purity culture and its effects, check out Libby Anne's blog "Love, Joy, Feminism" (her key posts on purity culture here).  In fact, you should probably be reading her blog anyway, it's fantastic.  She grew up homeschooled in a Quiverfull family and lived to tell the tale.  It's brave and honest and sometimes horrifying to read but I recommend it strongly.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

God of the Gaps - 300 BC Edition

Priest of Zeus:  "So, I heard you telling people that the Pantheon makes no sense to you and you don't believe in the Gods anymore, is that correct?"

Zeusnostic:  "That's true, the more I think about our theology the more it seems like stories people told to help them make sense of the world.  They seem childlike and cruel and I simply can't believe in them anymore.  I'm sure one day people will call our theology what it really is - mythology"

Priest of Zeus:  "How very dare you?!  These aren't stories!  It's all true and deep down you know it!  You're just pretending to be an unbeliever because you don't want to sacrifice your prize bull to Zeus, aren't you?"

Zeusnostic:  "No, that's not it.  I just don't see any reason to believe that this is true.  I mean do you actually believe that the King of the Gods turned into a swan to rape a girl?  That sounds like a loud of crap to me!"

Priest of Zeus:  "You blaspheme because you don't understand the nuances and sophistication of the art of theology!  Come to the temple sometime and we will explain it all to you.  "

Zeusnostic:  "I don't believe in the Pantheon because I see no reason to.  You priests tell a lot of crazy stories but I've never once actually seen any proof.  THAT is why I don't believe.  "

Priest of Zeus:  "Oh you want PROOF??  Well tell me this smart guy, those lightning bolts that struck the earth in last night's storm, what were they if not the work of Zeus?"

Zeusnostic:  "I... don't know"

Priest of Zeus:  "AHA!  See?  You don't know how lightning bolts work!  Obviously the only answer could be Zeus!"

Zeusnostic:  "Actually no, there could be a lot of answers.  It could be some Scandinavian deity with a hammer.."

Priest of Zeus:  "Preposterous!  There are no Scandinavian deities!"

Zeusnostic:  "... or it could be some kind of natural process.  But since it will still be many centuries before anyone figures out what electricity is and before anyone can prove that lightning is made of electricity there is no possible way I could explain that process to you now.  What I'm saying is just because I don't know doesn't mean your answer is then the correct one!"

Priest of Zeus:  "Yeah all I got from that paragraph was "I don't know ... your answer is the correct one""
Zeusnostic:  "Now you're just being an ..."

Priest of Apollo:  "What have we here?  A theological debate?  I do love those!"

Priest of Zeus:  "'Sup bro?  This guy says we have no proof of the existence of the Gods!  Can you believe that?"

Priest of Apollo:  "No way brah!  Tell me, if Apollo doesn't exist, who pulls the Sun across the sky every day?  Hmmmmm?"

ApolloZeusnostic:  "Like I was telling your friend here, I don't know but just because I don't have an answer doesn't mean your story about a sky chariot is automatically true!  For all we know the sun isn't moving at all!  Perhaps the earth rotates and it just makes it seem that way.  I know it sounds crazy and it will be centuries before people figure out the planet and gravity and stuff but ..."

Priest of Apollo:  "OK, now you're just embarrassing yourself!  Is it so hard to just admit the truth that is staring you in the face?  We have shown you all the proof you could want!  You on the other hand are just waffling around with your "science" but you haven't been able to give us an alternative explanation of how lightning or the sun works without the Gods.  That proves our point!  You just don't want to believe!"

Priest of Poseidon:  "Tide goes in, tide goes out, never misses a beat.  You can't explain that!"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

If AIDS is from God then God hates blacks

Recently the professional liar for Jesus David Barton took some time out from his busy schedule of lying about US history to educate us about HIV/AIDS.  See, he figured out why it's so hard to fight the disease and why we haven't been able to cure it.  In a recent broadcast, Barton said the following:

"There's a passage that I love in Romans 1 - I don't love what the topic is - but it talks about homosexuality and it says that they will receive in their bodies the penalties of their behavior. And the Bible again, it's right every time, and studies keep proving that and that's why AIDS has been something they haven't discovered a cure for or a vaccine for, because it's the fastest self-mutating virus known to mankind. Every time they just about get a vaccine discovered for it, it transmutes into something new and they have to start over again. And that goes to what God says, hey you're going to bear in your body the consequences of this homosexual behavior."

See? It's been God all along!  AIDS is the Hammer of God and David just LOVES that God is smiting all those dirty sodomites with it! 

OK then Mr Barton, let's see where your train of thought takes us, shall we? 

So according to you (and to be fair, a lot of other Christians), AIDS is a punishment sent by God, right?  So let's look at who God is punishing then.  According to the most recent statistics I could find:

An estimated 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS
About 22.9 million of those (68%) live in my part of the world, Sub-Saharan Africa.
Of those 22.9 million sufferers more than half are women (12,100,000) and children (2,300,000)
See here's the thing, AIDS hasn't been a "gay disease" for a while now.  These days, AIDS is mostly a killer of women.  Black women to be specific.  Even in the USA, HIV and AIDS is far more prevalent in the Black/African-American community:
 "Of the total number of people living with an HIV diagnosis in 2008 in the 40 U.S. states and 5 dependent areas, 46% were black/African American,..."
"Among women diagnosed with AIDS in 2009, 78% of black/African American women, 75% of Hispanic/Latino women and 68% of white women became infected through heterosexual contact."

So Mr Barton, will you be willing to stick to your guns?  Are you willing to admit that by your own reasoning God isn't punishing homosexuals, He is punishing black people.  Especially women.  If you truly believe what you said about AIDS, you should have no problem going on air to tell the world that your God despises black women.  You have no problem with your God being homophobic after all, surely you would defend His racism as strongly?