A Changing World (and not for the Better)

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


So Britain has voted, by a relatively slim but significant number, to bow out of the European Union (EU). Apparently many of those who had voted to leave are now Googling “EU” to find out just what exactly it was that they are getting out of. Also apparently, the propaganda machine (“Britain First” is the one I know about; there must be others) convinced a bunch of people that it was in their best interest to exit the EU. The main reason seems to be stopping immigration. (Britain First, policy page)

They also want to keep the UK and not allow Scotland, Ireland et al to have their own sovereignty. “British Unionism”, they call it. That’s okay. But NOT European Union-ism. (I guess adding the “ism” makes the difference.) They want the UK to be a Christian nation–meaning that the government should be Christianity-based. This is a country that has “Jedi” as a recognized religion. What are the odds that many religions are already present on the island? (Hint: a LOT.)

The 5th principle for Britain First read thus: “Britain First stands opposed to all alien and destructive political or religious doctrines, including Marxism, Liberalism, Fascism, National Socialism, Political Correctness, Euro Federalism and Islam. Britain First is a movement of British nationalism, patriotism and democracy.” I don’t think “Political Correctness” is actually a political or religious doctrine. But the sentence serves as a fine example for choosing the words you would use to sway public opinion. Sounds really…stirring. But when carefully read and parsed out to find the real meaning? “We won’t have anything that is different from what (those who voted to leave) we want for our country.” The whole policy statement, with all of its $1, even $5 words…boils down to “we hate anyone or anything that is different and we won’t allow it here.” Regardless of the consequences–which the people are just beginning to understand. Like a 90 Billion pound fall on the stock market. Like not being able to go to any other EU country to live and work freely. Back to visas and paperwork to move addresses. Which I am sure also works in the opposite way: no one coming into Britain for work or to live. They already had a fairly draconian policy; this will make it even harder and worse for those who would like to emigrate to the UK.

I’m sure there will be lots of other unexpected consequences as Britain goes to being just an island nation without the cohesion of an EU to provide support. I understand that each EU nation is expected to assist with the overall health and running of the EU, so it seems like “our” money is going to “them” instead of “us”. Other countries are already beginning their push for leaving the EU, so it will almost assuredly fail and Europe will go right back into its tribal behaviors. Each country will want to do what is best for that country, to hell with the rest of them. Sounds like a recipe for war. You know, like WWI and WWII.

Britain’s action of leaving the EU has started a conversation in my house about what it can mean and how this situation relates to the state of our own country’s union (or lack thereof). I may not live long enough to see it, but I am of the mind that eventually, there will be not just national, but global, chaos and anarchy until the strong achieve victory. (And it may not be the wealthiest, one can only hope.)

We have our own population of misinformed and misguided people, who prefer the pie crust promises (easily made, easily broken) of various groups (politicians, the NRA, the corporations) to the reality of what is occurring right now, right here. For example:

Our financial system is built on fairy farts and sunshine, rather than solid (real) worth. Most of the “money” is electronic potential and not an accurate assessment of a bank’s true capital. (Had a friend who closed an account at TD Bank. They offered a cashier’s check; she refused and asked for cash. They didn’t have enough cash in the branch to pay her. And we’re only talking about $10k, not really a “huge” amount of money.) The stock market and Wall Street are completely based on very pretty but totally fictional stories. It’s either making money from things that haven’t been made or haven’t happened, or it’s “making” money from the appearance of a company’s worth, whether that truly reflects its worth or not. Point of fact: Wall Street has said several times that Blackberry (RIM) is failing…because it is showing lower numbers. Well, figures lie and liars figure. When Blackberry first arrived on the scene, it was the only “smart” phone and has stellar contact and time management software. Which is why it ended up in the hands of many company’s employees. Being first, and pretty much only, at that point RIM was making, let’s say 95% of the profit for that type of product. Then Apple and Google come along with their versions of smart phones and add themselves to the market. RIM’s numbers go down because they are sharing the pie. Never mind that they are still making millions of dollars and doing very well, thank you. Wall Street is not interested in your profits; they are after the “profit margin”, which is how your company compares to the other companies within your product line. And with Wall Street “experts” saying that a company is going to fail…becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as investors remove their money from that company. Even though it was still making money in profits for those investors.

It’s all just a carnival scam; tell me which can contains the ball and I’ll pay you back twice the money paid to play. “Hedge” funds? Shouldn’t even be a term. There are two types of hedges: the green one you have to trim, and the financial kind. That’s defined as “a limited partnership of investors that uses high risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, in hopes of realizing large capital gains.” One of the key words in that definition is “hope”, the hope that it will lead to big money. It’s got another name besides hedge fund and that’s “Ponzi scheme”, named after the first hedge fund manager shyster who came up with the idea of borrowing people’s money and then using it to make more money. It may work for a while but if your dreams of big pay-offs don’t materialize, you are in deep doo-doo. (Unless you’ve managed to figure out how to keep YOUR money out of the investment hedge.) Eventually, your investors will want their money–and their share of the gain–back. Just ask Bernie Madoff. (Side note: I personally know someone who lost ALL of their money, designed to pay for retirement, because of Mr. Madoff. My friend is working as a waiter and doesn’t figure to ever be able to retire.)

Our government is the best money can buy. Unfortunately, the money was not from the constituents but from corporations and special interest groups. The current schism between the Republicans and Democrats points to the real possibility of the collapse of our political system. At which point, the Brexit vote will look like a walk through the park–our states will each one declare themselves a discrete and autonomous “country”…except maybe the deep South and Texas shall arise as the CSA, something they have wanted for almost 240 years. We have one of the most intransigent, heels dug in, Congress in pretty much our entire national history–not since the Southern States blackmailed the Continental Congress into agreeing to their terms (keeping slavery) or they wouldn’t go along with the revolution. Politicians at every level of government are starting (and in growing numbers) to declare that the US is a “Christian” nation and we need to ignore the Constitution’s rules about a federally-mandated national religion. There is a growing number of Republican white males who think that women’s vote should be taken away. There is too much fuckery with the voting process, between gerrymandering the precincts and not counting all of the votes to every other kind of interference that can be done to keep people from exercising their civil right (and duty). There is no established system to stop and punish the most egregious corruptions of elected power, such as spending millions of taxpayer’s money to repeal an in-place and active law…62 times. Or refusing to even talk to a candidate for the Supreme Court. Or consistently opposing the President on everything, just because. Maybe our “democracy” (which is really a republic, read the definitions for each) should die, so that some form of government that is more inherently equivocal for all citizens can take its place.

Our economy sucks. Sorry to use such a technical term, but it does. When the apparently standard business model is “BOGO”, it means several things: the items are VASTLY overpriced, AND they aren’t selling. McDonald’s is having to close 700 stores because of the loss of income. Almost half of this nation’s citizens live one major catastrophe away from poverty. The middle class only exists as long as the credit cards and multiple mortgages are permitted and not called in to be paid off. I remember 11% interest on Certificates of Deposit and 8% interest on credit cards, as well as checking accounts that offered a decent rate on interest, based on how much you kept in the account. Now it’s considered great if you get even 1% of interest on savings, most checking does NOT give interest and the interest rate on credit cards is usury–or would be if the credit card companies hadn’t lobbied and gotten the usury laws repealed. Our economic issues are not just about taxes on the rich (which essentially are zero). It’s definitely about the off-shoring of jobs and capital investments that could have been used here, in this country, to make our own economy strong, instead of providing Third World countries with smart phone knock-offs and factory deaths. It’s about a minimum wage that does not even begin to cover the true cost of living, leaving those earning it barely enough to scrape by. There is no extra money for anything, so the shopping done is of a bare, subsistence nature: food, home, and car (with its attendant gasoline consumption). It’s about large, influential corporations controlling the prices of necessary items, such as the aforementioned gasoline, to inflate their profit (margins!) and keep their CEO pay levels in the millions. While the people who are really doing the work are making minimum wage. There’s something seriously wrong with a system that pays the CEO in just 1 or 2 minutes what it takes one of their employees to earn in a year.

For a “United” States, we are appallingly divided, along all sorts of lines: gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, religion, race, and any other descriptive but separating word. The first three refer mostly to what bathroom you use. Nothing more. They should not be the subject of laws, protests or hate. They are. Religion is the other “hot” divider as too many neo-christians stand up and while pretending to talk for all Christians, deny non-Christians the same right to *their* religion as the neo-christians have. They scream that their religious rights are being ignored or shattered. Well, your right to religion (and religious freedom) does NOT give you the right to hate. And in your hating, to then discriminate, subjugate, endanger or even kill those who have a different religion.

This division between “us” and “them”, whichever description those refer to, is the leading reason we are not really a united country. There is an active but somewhat shadowy presence in our nation (in the world, but we’re dealing with US) that is very carefully crafted to create hate, and its Siamese twin, fear. You hate what isn’t like you, and you fear those who are different. Hard to tell which one comes first, but they do end up together. And this fear-mongering, hate-creating presence (it’s actually made up of a lot of people and groups) leads the less-informed sheeple by the nose, to do whatever it is seeking to achieve.
Ignorance and apathy are its allies. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Joseph Goebbels) Or as Agent K said in “Men in Black”: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

Given all of this doom and gloom, what are the chances of this nation of ours being a truly united country? Unless things change (and they have been know to do that), I would predict a painful splintering into the various state-nations or clump-of-state-nations. The chances for bringing all 50 states back into a cohesive country becomes almost impossible at that point. Any method of uniting would require conquering all the independent sections. It’s not 13 colonies in a single, relatively small geographical space; we’ve grown to cover this land from sea to shining sea. And even our Founding Fathers had some in-fighting: the Declaration of Independence originally had a paragraph that would have abolished slavery. The Southern states, particularly South Carolina and Georgia, were so adamant about its removal that they refused to ratify the document it it wasn’t taken out. There was also some Northern support for removing it–from men who were slave traders and therefore had a vested interest in maintaining the slavery status quo.

We have (naturally) settled into specific areas; the East Coast, the South, the Midwest, the West Coast and so on. While we have tangible separations, such as rivers and mountains, we have many, many more intangible ones. And these are the things we are seeing in our daily social life: urban “jungles”, police killing civilians without verifying any wrong-doing prior to shooting and a distinction I particularly abhor: intelligence is vilified. Simple answers seem more than suitable for problems that are actually quite complex and will not take a one word or one sentence answer to solve. Hatred and fear are being fomented on many fronts, but particularly in the gender/sexual orientation identity and the same old racial arguments. We have a large–and apparently growing–population that is racist, sexist, homophobic and rabidly, religiously, zealots. They do not see the large picture, or the long term effects of the things they want to change now. People who know me, like my kids, will tell you that this is one of my favorite sayings: “In Nature, there is no right or wrong. There are only consequences.” I think that this group of stupid, hateful, and fearful people have no concept of the consequences of the things they think they want. Like the British subjects who voted to leave the EU because they thought it would keep immigrants out, our own haters want to dismantle the Federal government, limit the state governments and make their rules the ones that count.

There is no way that it cannot lead to violence and the shattering of a 240 year old nation that began with violence. I saw the fact mentioned that the US has been in some kind of war for 222 years, or 93%, of its existence. What does that say about us ‘Murrricans? I could say that it means we are a violent people, accustomed to using violence to solve any differences. That’s apparently true. But I also think that we can be better than that, that we can grow up and stop using fistfights to end disagreements. We have the potential, as does every nation, every being, to set aside violence, fear and hate as being unnecessary and a hindrance to meaningful and thoughtful agreements. We have only this planet (at the moment) and we need to stop dividing ourselves into essentially futile groupings, and stop using insignificant terms of description for that splintering. We are part of our nations, to be sure. But at the end of the day, when all the reason for division is removed, we are, at our very core, human beings. Every single man, woman and child on this planet. Just amazing human beings–which are so much more than our plumbing, our skin color, how long we’ve been alive or what god or gods we believe in.

As our elections draw nearer, we’ve each got some decisions to make. Who will be our best hope as President? Who will we choose to represent us on the international stage, to be the leader of our goals (living wage, different tax laws to keep the rich people from hiding their wealth in the Caymans,) and to work with the entire Congress to keep our country running? This also means that we have to vote for the Congress critters who will adhere to the promise of serving their constituents and will work with the President for us and the US. Don’t vote to leave the nation. Vote to stay together, to work together and keep this country to the ideals we have about it: democracy, equal rights, compassion, and working together, no matter our differences.

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Religious Terrorism in the US

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


TerrorismisMade

“My GOD is bigger than your government.” I wouldn’t argue with that viewpoint. Christians believe that God created everything, so of course he would be “bigger” than anything else.

HOWEVER. Your God has nothing, zero, zip, nada, to do with the government at any level. Not a damned thing. (So to speak.) America was NOT founded to be a Christian country. The forefathers made it abundantly clear that the land’s government was to be separate from any specified religious association. From the US Constitution, Amendment 1: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”. Important enough to be the first amendment made. “Shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion…” seems easily understood as “the government is not a religious entity”, period.

Enter the fanatical Religious Right. Right as in “right wing”. From the Wikipedia: “Right-wing politics hold that some forms of social stratification or social inequality are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically defending this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or from competition in market economies.” And this from the Urban Dictionary: “Right Wing refers to conservatives who, by their nature, favor a small limited government with little power and little control over the people, with most of the power residing within the local state governments. Basically anti-federalist. In other words, the politicians who DON’T want more government involved with your everyday life. They don’t want the government to get too big and have a lot of control over the people.” Notably, from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, “in liberal democracies, the political Right opposes socialism and social democracy. Right-wing parties include conservatives, Christian democrats, classical liberals, nationalists and, on the far Right, racists and fascists.”

It’s the definition for the “far Right” (Fascists and racists) that best describes the Religious Right we are seeing these days. From dictionary.com, Fascism is defined as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” I believe that if the Religious Right has its way, we will end up with a religious Fascism as our national government.

We are already seeing individual states enacting laws that completely ignore Federal law concerning equality and individual rights. Most of those laws are based on the religious beliefs of what I refer to as “neo-christians”, lower case “c” intended. These are people who believe that their book overturns or surpasses the law at every level of our governmental system. Their God “tells” them what to do and they do it. Odd, isn’t it, how their God mimics their own racist, sexist and hateful views? And when someone KNOWS they are right, there is no argument or knowledge that will remove that bullheaded belief in being right.

This group professes to believe in Jesus Christ, yet they prefer to cite (and use) the Old Testament (Mosaic) law systems and examples of “what God wants”. And if  you point out to these wankers that what they are advocating is Sharia law, they will spit and sputter and burst into (righteous) flames. Not just bad enough to force your religion on others, but to not even realize that the people you hate, you hate for the reason that they are forcing their religion on others. (Not really, but that’s the view of those who think all terrorists are Muslim.)

These people are not Jesus-followers…they prefer the violent and angry God Jahovah/Yahweh who ordered entire villages destroyed–men, women, children, animals and all plunder. This type of warfare is referred to as “the ban” or the Israeli word, “herem” From Wikipedia, “Herem or cherem (Hebrew: חרם, ḥērem), as used in the Tanakh, means ‘devote’ or ‘destroy’. It is also referred to as the ban. The term has been explained in different ways by scholars. It has been defined as “a mode of secluding, and rendering harmless, anything imperiling the religious life of the nation,” or “the total destruction of the enemy and his goods at the conclusion of a campaign,” or “uncompromising consecration of property and dedication of the property to God without possibility of recall or redemption. J. A. Thompson suggests that herem meant that in the hour of victory all that would normally be regarded as booty, including the inhabitants of the land, was to be devoted to God. Thus would every harmful thing be burned out and the land purified.[5]” The Arabic word for this is “haram”, which we have heard about with all the problems in the Middle East. (Incidentally, this concept can also be applied today by the Israelis in reference to the Palestinians.)

THIS is what the religious fanatical freaks in the US would do: “secluding and rendering harmless, anything imperiling the religious life (of their nation)”. ANYTHING imperiling the religious life…would include legislation at every level of government, as they are already doing. But I believe it would also include things like, oh…burning witches, throwing Pagans to the lions (or some modern version thereof), deporting or killing Sikh, Hindu, LGBTQ people, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist and etc. It could mean just stripping those who were not “believers” of property and assets and using them as slaves, unpaid labor with no political, social or legal rights of their own.  They have already established a second class of citizens with their illogical and dangerous laws about women’s right to their own bodies.

Because they cherry-pick their Biblical references, they completely miss the part about “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”…which really sounds to me like, “obey the government wherever you are living”. But that could just be me. The full context of rendering unto Caesar, from the New American Standard Bible, Mark 12:16-17: “16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.” What does that mean, “render to Caesar”? Render is to give or return; Jesus and the people had been discussing taxes by the Romans on the Jews. So pay your taxes. That seems pretty straight forward. But I think it can be broadened to mean “follow the laws of the government” while “following the law of God”. If you have conflicts within the two, that’s something for you to take up with your spiritual adviser and a lawyer. It’s not a war cry to take over the government.

I would also be more willing to listen to these people if they weren’t continually proving that they are not Christians in any sense of the word. Jesus gave his followers two commandments, upon which all of the Mosaic laws were based and could therefore be followed by remembering just these two things: “Love your God” and “Love your neighbor”. They do not even follow just these two simple commands, let alone the hundreds of Mosaic commandments. They eat unclean food, they wear multiple types of cloth; they cloak their hate of anyone different under the guise of “persecuting my religious beliefs” even as they “become drunk with wine” (a no-no) and commit adultery, false witness, even murder. Too many of the (male) legislators who espouse this view of Religious Right-ness, who vilify the homosexual population, are caught with their sexual organs near another man. And if not that, then they are cheating on their wives or sexually abusing children.

You do know that Jesus also said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” That means if you are sin-free (impossible), then and only then can you condemn anyone else. Matthew 7:2-4: “…2″For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3″Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?4″Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?…” This was Jesus’ strong admonition against his followers holding others in judgment. It’s not part of the Christian list of responsibilities to worry about what anyone else is doing/saying–or not doing/saying. The only person anyone is responsible for is themselves.

That injunction is not met, many and many times per day. And not just by those who follow the carpenter and his dad. I speak for myself as someone who consistently fails to NOT judge others. It’s a “normal” reaction, to make assumptions about others as you pass them. But even though it happens a lot does NOT make it right–not even for those of us who are not Christian. I would just suggest that it’s more a sin for those who say they are God’s children because they’re supposed to know better, to be more familiar with Jesus’ words to them.

Based on what I see online and hear or read about in the news, it’s rather apparent that many folks claim the Christ, but are not living according to his words. Jesus never said a word about homosexuals, people of color, or abortions. The first person who saw the risen Christ was a woman; that was a great honor! He wanted all people to come to him; he often ate meals with the outcasts of Jewish society: tax collectors, harlots and lepers. He often flaunted the failure to follow Jewish protocols (like washing the hands before a meal). He frequently chastised the Pharisees (the Joel Osteens of their time). He reached out in love, without condemnation, to anyone who was trying to reach him.

How did his words and examples get lost over the past 2000+ years? Why do people scream their devotion and yet spew hatred and venom at others? Why, oh why on this green Earth, are people using the Bible as a battering ram and the words from that book as spears and swords? Is it because they think doing so validates their own vile and unloving behavior? We come back around to this: if you think you are right, if you think that your god has given you some sort of credentials to run this world, there is no compromise possible. Using “faith” as your winning card only means that you are stupid (ignorance can be educated; stupid goes all the way through) and have no right to tell anyone else what to do.

Persecution? Go to Iran and be Ba’hai. Go to Tibet and be Buddhist. Go to Africa and be a woman. Go to America and be black or brown or anything than white. Christians? Are not persecuted in this country. They are allowed to speak out, even in protest of the government (a rather uncommon thing in this world). The only “persecution” that’s present in our nation is the misguided concept that knowing your God is bigger than the government gives you the right to control that government, according to your Bible, carefully picked and chosen verses that will allow you to persecute all others to a lesser status than your own.

I believe, completely, in the freedom of speech and religion. I will defend, to the death, your right to say and believe what you will. I will fight, to the fullest extent, any attempt you make to enforce your words and religion on me–and my nation. And it all boils down to this reason: Religious rights do not mean you have the right to hate. I will do everything that I can to keep your hate from spreading and do it in the name of love.

Demon Candy and Ignorance

Faith-Based Wars: The First in a Series of Very Complicated Conversations

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act iii, scene i)

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(NOTE: The strike through font option indicates use of “sarcasm font”. So sarcasm will look like this, see?)

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Faith:

—–Having faith that something is true does not make it true.

———Having faith does not make it probably true.

—————Having faith has no bearing on truth whatsoever.

——————–Having faith simply means you will believe it whether it is true or not.

So the ultra-conservative, God-fearing Republicans in our nation are fighting multiple battles on a variety of fronts. They use the Bible and their own prejudices (which are carefully and particularly exploited by the media, owned by the extremely wealthy, in order to increase those prejudices) as the way to justify denying basic human rights, which they enjoy and would be incensed to have taken away. I’m sorry, but “God says” has *nothing* to do with our government from town to county to state levels, and especially nothing to do with the Federal “laws of the land”.

It’s becoming more and more prevalent for specific religious views to guide or mandate specific legal policies (aka, laws) for every other person in the population. It’s disgusting how one portion of our nation’s citizens feel it is their “religious right”, ordered from “on high”, from the Big Daddy Himself, to disenfranchise, discriminate and disregard any other portion of the citizenry.

This nation was based on freedom from governmental interference in a person’s religious views; we were created to be welcoming to those who would seek the promise of being in America. We established the concepts of the American Dream and that this nation was the Land of Opportunity for all, for anyone who was willing to come here and seek the life they hoped for.

Apparently, somewhere along the line this got completely destroyed, forgotten or ignored. And now we are faced with a bunch of rabid, zealous, misguided and uneducated conservative citizens who are trying to bring about their God Revolution. Rand Paul has just announced his run for the Presidency, using the catch phrase, “We’re here to take the country back!” Back from who, Senator? Ted Cruz has also thrown his hat into the ring, using similar verbiage to rally the voters. This is a common theme in elections from the town’s dogcatcher up to the US President’s job.

There’s something in the news every day that connects someone’s religious beliefs to enacting new legislation, which is always something to limit someone *else’s* freedoms and rights. Or there’s articles about how the rest of us are “denying” this group their religious rights–which, by the way, they have absolutely no hesitation (nor compunction) to deny those same rights to their fellow citizens. All across the nation, we’re seeing all kinds of religious fury, from people who call themselves “Christian” but whom others call “neo-Christians”, or the term I’d like to see go into use, small “c” “christians”. These are people who use a book to feed their paranoid delusions and propagate their racism and other prejudices, believing that they have a “god-given” right to do so. Whereas Christians, capital “c”, are the followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and try to live by his words of love and compassion. Two COMPLETELY different groups.

Let me step back to my first sentence:” …”God-fearing Republicans”. Why is it necessary to fear, to be afraid of, the deity who is referred to as “all-loving”? Why is it, that a great deal of the conversations this particular group initiates are related to going to Hell, suffering eternal damnation and other violent acts? Here’s a term I used in my last blog, and the corresponding thoughts, for you: “Sacred Violence”–“My god is a violent god, and I am made in his image, therefore I am violent as well.” This gives the holder of such a belief the right to use violent means to convert (coerce) others to the religion. There is no real difference between Islam (conversion at sword point) and Christianity for this thought pattern. Both use violence and both believe that they are right, and justly right, by virtue of their god’s actions and commandments.

No wonder that they feel completely comfortable damning their perceived enemies, or saying that “fags should die”, or maintaining a threatening posture, usually complete with a weapon of some sort. And just so you know: waving a Bible in someone’s face can be just as threatening as holding a gun to their head if they don’t hold exactly the same beliefs as you do.

Let’s be honest, the “Christians”, neo- or otherwise, can’t even hold a cohesive front in their own ranks. The Baptists think that the Catholics are going to Hell (idol worshiping, bead fumbling Papists!). They also think that other Protestant denominations are not “as holy” because they obviously don’t follow the “true word”…the Baptist’s Bible’s word. Please, please let me know if you’ve ever witnessed this very vocal and rapidly increasing hateful, prejudiced and violent zealotry from any other denomination besides Baptist! I would suggest that these crazy people are also predominately Southern Baptist. This particular denomination has had the prime goal of fulfilling missionary duties, bringing the Word of God to everyone in the world. And the reason is not as altruistic as you might think; once everyone on Earth has the chance to hear the message of salvation, the world will end…and the believers will be taken up into Heaven.

It would be another blog to talk about the repercussions of the Southern Baptists traveling all over the world, destroying native culture while completely and utterly eviscerating the natives religions because they are pagan savages with no idea of the right way to do things and will go to Hell if they are not preached at to. It’s called “Manifest Destiny” and it is, beyond a doubt, responsible for more pain and suffering, more racism, both blatant and subtle, and the wholesale annihilation of established and functioning cultures just because they were “savages” and “primitives” to the eye of the Western zealot.

It’s important to understand the background for the Southern Baptists in order to even formulate some ideas about them. I will go on the record as stating that I was a Southern Baptist, baptized into the fold at the tender young age of 7. Did I know what I had asked for, when I indicated that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and wanted to be dunked? I don’t know. I suspect, from this point in time, probably not. I was mimicking my mother and the people I saw religiously (haha) every Sunday. So I grew up with the mindset of “WE are right, God said so, everyone else is going to Hell”. As I got older, I began to step away from this deeply rutted road. I began attending church with my grandparents–they were Presbyterian, having made that compromise when my Episcopalian grandfather married my Baptist grandmother. (And honey, she was from Portsmouth VA, so she knew about Southern Baptist, too!) I married a man who was Catholic…and eventually, I went through the classes and became Catholic as well. When I divorced him, let’s just say that the Rock that Jesus built his Church on…didn’t exactly rush to support me in a time that was painful, filled with depression and financial anxiety. Since then I have found a path that I can walk, that addresses my thoughts and feelings about religion (although I prefer the term “spiritual beliefs”), that encourages and guides me to be a moral, loving and open person. And it’s not Christian. It works for me. Big difference between *most* religions and the Southern Baptists? No insistence on doing it “my way”–aka, “God’s way”. So I’m not going to ask you to repent of your sins and get dunked in the river. I don’t even care if you *are* a Southern Baptist. Each person must find their own path to sacredness, whatever form it takes. And part of my unhappiness with this particular group of citizens is that they do not feel “freedom of religion” applies to anyone else, that they are holding the tickets to the only ride to Paradise.

So from now on, to avoid causing any strokes from enraged Christians who see this blog as an attack on them just because they belong to a specific denomination, I will use the term “Fundamentalist” or “Fundamentalism”. Anyone, in any religion, can be a fundamentalist. Another term you might hear (or have heard of) is “Reconstructionist” which has NOTHING to do with the Civil War or the period immediately following it.

It’s really vital to understand this current rise in the insistent drive to have a theocracy-based government, especially the very frightening rise in the religious takeover of our Federal government, as something that its adherents, or “Fundamentalists” or “Reconstructionists” feel is an immutable and sovereign right to rule this land under the Mosaic law. (No, not putting little pieces of tile together to make a picture, but being based on the Biblical laws, handed down to Moses.) Let me put that in a bit plainer phrasing: These zealots want the entire nation to live under the same kinds of law that the Muslims do. They want stoning to death to be an accepted — and carried out — punishment for various crimes; they want women to get back into the kitchen and make them a sandwich. They want anyone who is not like “them” — at this point, meaning not white, not male, not out there witnessing and leading all those sinners to God — to be placed into a second class (or lower, if it’s possible) legal status, stripped of any right that “God” has told them only they deserve.

You do realize that if this occurs, America will look *just* like the Middle Eastern countries who follow the Islamic laws, right? The Fundamentalists would froth at the mouth and probably curse you to eternal suffering if they heard it put this way, but (and I’m not the first person to say it)…What the religiously radical, radically religious want is Sharia Law. They want the ultimate power in our nation to be in the hands of people who don’t make a logical, thought out and carefully considered decision on any topic, including things like foreign policy and human rights. No, they want their leaders to pray for guidance and then do what “God has told (them) to do”. This is the same group that has let it be known that their presidential candidates need to show that they are willing “to nuke other countries” to prove their worth for President. Frankly, I’d prefer my presidential choice to be willing to do *everything* else first, keeping the “nuclear solution” as the very final, all other methods exhausted for me to want to vote for them. I don’t want some trigger happy religious nut having “The Button”–who knows when he will tell us that he’s decided to bomb Europe because “I prayed and God told me to do it.”?

I really like this quote, “The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.” ~~Alexis de Tocqueville I’ll be honest, I have no idea who this person is, or why they would be famous enough to be quoted, but I like the quote. It would seem that the same religion that is encouraging sedition and revolution in God’s name (something that was not done in the War for Independence, no matter how much they try to tell you that the Forefathers were all “God-fearing, decent Christians” because they weren’t) has also failed its poorer followers, who now feel obliged to create secondary classes in order to have someone (anyone!) lower in status than they are. After all, if more people had money, we wouldn’t have our “god-given”  One Percent of the obviously Godly people who hold most of this nation’s wealth.
(From Forbes Magazine and the Wikipedia)

The sad part is, if you are not a part of that infamous One Percent and are still willing to ensure that *their* religion of Greed is fully fed (given tax breaks and such)…you’re a moron. (In the purest, clinical sense of the word. It refers to a specific level of intelligence.) Let’s face it: if you are willing to live precariously balanced on the edge of financial disaster and imminent poverty, but are still willing, nay, even eager, to ensure that the rich get richer (and as the old song goes, “and the poor get poorer”), there is something seriously wrong with your brain. You cannot say that God grants wealth, which they loudly bleat…and not be a part of that granting. Or does God not love you as much as he loves the Waltons or the Kochs?

Regardless of the specific affiliation, these poor misguided zealots are worse than the “blind leading the blind”. They are willfully closing their eyes and insisting on walking without a guide. The Bible they use as a weapon? They don’t really read it. Trust me, I have. It’s one of the most common things that people who are not able to continue with the Christian path do, reading that book, trying to understand the meaning behind the words and looking for answers that we discover simply are not there. What kind of questions are these seekers asking? How about any (or all) of these:

“Does God really hate those who identify as LGBTQ?” (And where does that put someone who identifies as any of those, in a religious sense? Why are they placed in a position of either admitting their natural sexual orientation (When you decide to be heterosexual?) or having a spiritual life according to the precepts of the religion?

“I’ve followed this book for a long time; I feel empty and alone and the services I attend to do not address my needs nor offer comfort and a way to get past these feelings.”

“Does God truly want women to take the subservient position to the males, to be nothing more than a little pet or puppet and not think or act on their own? And if so, WHY?”
(Keeping in mind that the news of Jesus Christ’s resurrection was shown first to the WOMEN, not his disciples.)

“Why do people who identify as followers of Christ (“Christians”) insist upon following the Old Testament laws? Jesus Himself said (Matthew 5:17): “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Later on, He said to the Pharisees (who were trying to get Him to admit he wanted to overthrow the Laws that they enforced) in Mark 12:30-31 : “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” He also explained that these two ideas were the basis for all the other commandments. (And there’s a LOT more than 10, check out your Leviticus and read it thoroughly!)”

(Side note: Think about it. If you love God (or whatever name you use for the Sacred Being you follow) and you love your neighbor (meaning anyone else, everyone else), you will not break the other commandments because you will have no envy or hatred, no desire to stand above your fellow beings. Pretty awesome way to live, if you ask me.)

“Why is a God described as omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent also historically (through His “own” book, the Bible) and currently described as: “a jealous God”, a God that sends his people into war repeatedly (see the Old Testament and pretty much any war in the Middle East this century and last), a God to be feared, who will, even though He is the”Father” to his children (us), place us into eternal suffering in Hell? What kind of a god is that?”

“I cannot maintain my current religious affiliation because of the rampant corruption and evil within the clergy who serve this congregation; they have no authority to teach others about following God’s word when it is very obvious that they do not.”
(See CNN’s report on this very subject, specifically addressing the issue of the US archbishops really not living their vows of poverty.)

There is a growing trend of people deserting the churches, not only Southern Baptist but from all of the denominations. With an increased awareness of things like Joel Osteen’s mansion and his very expensive suits, we can see that some preachers who call themselves “a man of God” are actually using religion to make themselves extremely well-to-do, with a lifestyle far beyond what most of their congregations can even imagine. That level of hypocrisy is enough to drive anyone out of the pews and back onto the streets. The Catholic sex scandals didn’t help.

The ones “left behind” (thanks, Kirk Cameron, for that phrase) are those who are happily and blindly following someone who is manipulating them into doing *his* will, not (finger pointed to the sky) “His Will”. They cheerfully take in the sketchy truths, the half truths and the outright lies, designed to keep them in their pews and handing over money, and then make it their own unshakable “foundation of faith”. You cannot reason with someone whose whole argument is “God says so!”. There is no way to come to a compromise of any sort because, well, “God says so!” means that there’s only the one way to do anything. Interesting that we just have to take someone else’s word for what God says, because He apparently has never heard of Facebook or Twitter.

Let me offer you this quote, from Frank Schaeffer (and if you don’t want to follow the link to his Wiki, let me tell you one pertinent fact about him: he was born into an evangelical family and with them and some other like-minded folks, they created this Religious Rabidness we are dealing with. He has since denounced those evangelical roots and shows great and obviously deeply felt remorse for his part in the establishment of the zealots who are seeking to overthrow “secular” government for a theocracy); this is from a documentary about faith, religion and how a person chooses to have either (or both)):

“There’s no way to jump that (Author’s note:the concept of faith versus truth) because if you accept a tradition and say, “I’m going there for authority”, it’s still you, a fallible human being, making a decision to accept this as true.  So you never get away from the subjective elements, so why not just be honest about it? And say “Of course this is a subjective reading of the Scripture of tradition?” Yes, I pick and choose. We all do.

We pick and choose through everything we do in life, don’t pretend that you’ve received truth in whole cloth from the sky somewhere. And I think that’s what Fundamentalism can’t face because it wants something more than subjective, individual human decisions. And yet you can’t get away from it because even if you decide some theology is true and now you’ll follow it, that is a subjective decision. In addition to which, the writing was by other subjective people, and it’s only in the Scripture because a subjective group of people decided, in some council, that they’d put it in there. And you can say that the Holy Spirit led them, or leads you or whatever, and that just puts it down another step because you’ve chosen to believe that.

That’s the true divide between Modernity and Fundamentalists’ literalism is a skepticism about our ability to decide what is true.”

~~Frank Schaeffer, Author, (“Crazy for God”)

This brings us full circle to my opening words:

—–Having faith that something is true does not make it true.

———Having faith does not make it probably true.

—————Having faith has no bearing on truth whatsoever.

——————–Having faith simply means you will believe it whether it is true or not.

Think about it. And be welcome to join this conversation.

Sacred Violence

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it is my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other commentors, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”
(Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27)

The Old Testament is the Holy Book of the Jews, with the first five books making up their Torah. So the Jews would tell you that they are created in the image of Yahweh. Christians also believe that they are made in the image of the Creator. The next logical step is that if you are a reflection (in the image) of the one who created you, you should exhibit traits and characteristics of that creator. We come into a major controversy at this point because based on the Old Testament, Yahweh (Jehovah, God) is jealous, brutally violent, vengeful and generally Not A Nice Person. His behavior and words in the Old Testament would not commend him as a god to follow and emulate. But don’t take my word for it. I found a graduate student who has done the work for us. There are over 80 battles listed, against all kinds of enemies. Here is the link which leads to this list of all the battles in the Old Testament and God’s part in them:  https://constantlyreforming.wordpress.com/every-battle-in-the-bible/

For those of you who don’t want to go look, let me just hit some of the “God” highlights:
Num 31: 1-2 “The LORD spoke to Moses, “Execute vengeance for the Israelites against the Midianites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”
Josh 10:8 “God says that he will defeat them, throws them into confusion, then sends hail storms.”
Josh 11:8 “For it was the LORD’s intention to harden their hearts, so that they would engage Israel in battle, be completely destroyed without mercy, and be annihilated, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”
Judg 9:23-24 “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. They treated Abimelech deceitfully, so that the crime against the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood would be avenged on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who had helped him kill his brothers.”

There was also a great period of civil war, which spawned two separate Isreali kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. During this time, Zechariah was assassinated and Shallum ben Jabesh took the throne and was king of Israel. That didn’t last very long because Menahem came along in his turn and killed Shallum. His 10 year reign was distinguished for its cruelty–especially when the city of Tappuah would not recognize him as their king–he had every resident killed, including the pregnant women.

So now that we’ve waded through all of these examples of God and his ideas of war–and his followers’ ideas of war, let’s talk about today’s modern Christians. They will say, “God made us in His own image” and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is that they seem to cling to the Old Testament for the laws and religious rules for their behavior. If they are going to follow the Old Testament, they should convert to Judaism. If they are going to be Christians, perhaps they need to re-read the New Testament. No, just the gospels. Pick one. I have chosen the first book of the New Testament, Matthew (New International Version), for the purposes of our discussion.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus spent a lot of time preaching about love and trying to convince those listening to him that he was not out to replace the Pharisees. Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: Matt 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (From Gal 3:24, Christians are told: “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”.) He was very clear about his mission: Matt 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He made a point of reaching out to those who needed Him, whether they were “clean” or “unclean” by the standards of the Law: Matt 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And He chided those who questioned Him about this practice: Matt 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

He also preached about the need for us to reach out and connect with those around us: Matt 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus Christ also spent a lot of time on hypocrisy and righteousness: Matt 5:20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”. And Matt 6:1-8 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” He again reinforces that later on: Matt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

He very clearly differentiates between good and evil, in actions and words: Matt 12:34-37 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” He even takes on the laws about the Sabbath and food practices when He says: Matt 15:18-20 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus also dealt with the  topic of preachers, teachers and church leaders who love their positions more than they love their fellow man. In Matt 23: 1-12 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. 8“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Incidentally, He is very specific about people who think they can maintain a certain lifestyle and still get into Heaven: Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Then He hammers his point home with this passage: Matt 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

All of that seems dire, but that’s not why Jesus was sent to this Earth. Indeed, He told us the NEW commandments (only two of them) that his followers were to use for their lives: Matt 22:34-40 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus was “gentle and humble of heart”; he healed the sick and fed the hungry; he preached about Love and praying for those who persecute you. He made the point about doing things for people you don’t know because it’s easy “to love those who love you”. Being a Christian is a life of giving up the material things that the world says you should want and living a simple, loving life, living like Christ. Two rules: love God, love your neighbor. Should be real easy to be a Christian then, right?

Maybe…not.

Can anyone tell me why so many Christians think that God made just them “special”, to be apart from the rest of us, to feel superior to those who are not Christian–and worse, to feel superior to those whose color is not theirs? Who believe that it’s perfectly all right, in fact God-ordained to refuse to follow the laws of the land whenever it refuses to let the Christians’ religious rights supersede any other religion? Please tell me where Christ ever said no birth control or no abortions; where He mentioned homosexuals as being “bad”, and why he would approve of violent threats against others just because they do not follow His Word? And why there is such a number of loudly “Christian” people who are fomenting religious overthrow of our Federal government, who believe that the Law of the Land should be the Law of Jehovah?

I have a meme that I trot out occasionally:

DONOTRespectYourBeliefs

“I do not respect  your religious beliefs. I respect  your right to have them.” Where did this vocal group of zealots lose this concept, so that they feel free to ram their religion down other people’s throats? (Yes I said it. Ram.) If Jesus of Nazareth called for any revolution, it was of the soul and heart, certainly not a political revolution. The Pharisees feared him because he had popular support and he represented a threat to their power base–because they were political creatures disguised as Godly, Law-abiding priests.

And somehow, the lessons that the Pharisees imparted seem to have made it through the centuries better than Christ’s own message of love and acceptance. They taught fear and conniving; they showed us what hypocrisy could look like and it looked good. They taught violent methods to remove those who stand in your way–and in doing so, they returned us to the Old Testament, with its “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” mentality. They “re-infected” us, if you will, with the concepts of Sacred Violence that Jesus was trying to remove.

Sacred Violence. The idea that your religion is so right, that you are so justified in anything you do because, hey, you’re fighting for God! It means looking at war and battle as the first move, not the last or not at all. It means getting “them” before “they” get you–even if “they” aren’t even after you. Pre-emptive strikes. Necessary police action. Maximum force, first time out. Take no hostages. Scorched Earth.

We are accruing too many examples of Sacred Violence in our world today. We have religion being brought into the most innocuous places as a valid reason for invalid and illogical actions. We have the mention of God invoked when someone crosses them and they justify their retaliation with the words “Will of God” instead of acknowledging their completely irrational behavior. We see severe splintering in our country’s population as people choose between “doing God’s will” and following the secular law of our country. Those who choose God then make it their mission to take over the country. They long for a theocracy, where everyone is living by the laws contained in Exodus and Leviticus.

Hey fellas! That’s Old Testament. It’s so 2000 years ago. We have two laws: love God, love your neighbor. Be like Jesus Christ: humble and gentle, accepting and always doing the good work–feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, comforting the sick, visiting those in prison. But these poor, deluded bastards, goaded on by ministers and pastors who dress in Armani suits and live in a freaking mansion (serving money), think that this image of a Christian is wrong, it’s “weak”…it’s not “sacred” enough to actually be the thing to do. Many of the “foot soldiers” live under the poverty level; they’re not always well educated, and they long for something more. And the false prophets promise them all that they want and more, if they will just follow God’s will, as told to this false prophet just last night after the 11 o’clock news.

It’s our “sacred” duty to go into the Middle East and fight the local populations because…wait for it….they are not Christians, they are those damned Muslim terrorists. Well, I won’t argue about the terrorist part for some of them–but you don’t have to be Muslim to be a terrorist. Look at Timothy McVeigh. (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Incidentally, that “sacred duty” is a lie. It’s all a big sell by the Big Oil companies to ensure that their money will make more money, no matter how many of our young men and women have to die to keep that money flowing.

Conversion by the sword (or by torture) is also NOT a uniquely Muslim practice, see the Crusades and the Inquisition. “Gay Therapy” (aka “Pray the Gay Away”) denies the very sacredness of the human being who is not heterosexual and Christ’s admonishment to “love one another as I have loved you” is completely ignored. He never asked the tax collectors to be other than tax collectors, or the non-Jews who chose to follow him to suddenly become Jewish before He’d accept them. He accepted every person just as they were, without trying to change fundamental parts of who they were–He only asked that each person make the choice to follow His teachings, living the things He taught and loving others without hesitation, like Him.

Threatening another person with “You’re going to Hell” is exactly that–a threat. Not only is that NOT what Jesus taught, He also admonishes us to “judge not, lest ye be judged”–and the kicker to His words about that is this: however we judge, whatever method and measures we use to determine our judgment…is how we ourselves will be judged. No thanks. Saying someone else is “evil” falls under this same umbrella, with the same consequences.

Threatening people to make them do what you want, what YOU think they should be doing, is not a good way to get anyone to do anything. If you want to see a truly spiritual change in the people around you, you must be a truly spiritual person yourself. First off, so that you’ll recognize it in others. Secondly, so that your actions and your words match and you are an example of the love of Jesus Christ, open and accepting to all without judgment. Not many of today’s visible “Christians” can claim this with any truth.

Not ALL Christians are like this. Let me reiterate: the portion of Christians I am speaking about do not fully represent all Christians within our nation or within our world. The ones I am talking about are probably a minority–but they are vocal, they are visible and their actions prove what they are and what they want to do: sacred violence. They are jealous, brutally violent, vengeful and generally Not Nice People. And there are modern Pharisees, political figures who make use of them by pandering to their desires and showering them with false praise of their resolution and determination to “do God’s will”. The media, controlled by politics and foreign interests, also controls them, either by tacitly agreeing with their world view, or through the fear of “God-less heathens” and “those who will not listen to the Lord, or his servants”.

They do not respond to logic or facts; they are emotionally centered on their views and deem any disagreement or disbelief as coming from “Satan, to test me”. And they perpetuate the Sacred Violence here in America. Others have that duty elsewhere in the world, based on their own beliefs of their religions but the end result is the same: hate, fear, and war. Sacred Violence has no limitation, no act too heinous to be done in the “name of the Lord”.

These zealots have no idea that the people who control them couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their lives or the quality of those lives. They are simply there to be used until no longer needed. Believe me when I tell you that the leaders don’t care if we get a theocracy or not–mostly because they’ve already established an oligarchy. If religion is needed to keep the masses in control, well it’s just one more tool at hand to be used. They are so sure of their control over the zealots that they aren’t even subtle about doing things that will directly affect their support base. Things like reducing funding for all sorts of social services; perpetuating propaganda about not needing public schools; vilifying unions and other labor measures that would provide a living wage without have to work to death. They want to completely gut things like OSHA, the EPA, the IRS and almost more importantly, the SEC.

These false prophets are political creatures who are psychopathic. They have no concern for anyone or anything besides themselves. They do not care about the environment, the sufferings of their fellow man, nor the future generations who will inherit the Earth that is left to them, in whatever condition it is. These creatures view war as a long term, money-making scheme and consider it an excellent way to line their pockets with even more money. They will do what it takes to get support from their blind followers for war, up to and absolutely including a religious association.

But Sacred Violence is more than war or killing people for their lack of (your) faith. While doing battle is a large part of it, let’s talk about other forms of Sacred Violence. The current disturbing trend of our police becoming more militarized as well as the “shoot first” mentality is obviously violent. But I would suggest that it is also Sacred Violence from the aspect that many of the police espouse the same zealousness as the portion of our Christian population that is so vocal these days. So the police feel that they are doing God’s will by killing those they deem for whatever reason, inferior.

I also think that Sacred Violence occurs whenever the commandments of “love God, love your neighbor” are not followed and are actually, actively, broken into pieces. For example, the rising amount of legislation designed to essentially make it a crime to be poor; the laws against sleeping in public or feeding the homeless. Or from another point of law, allowing rich and or white people to commit crimes but not face the same kind of treatment and punishment given to those who are poor and or of color. Failing to provide adequate wages, failing to have sufficient and strong social safety nets for those who need help, these are also forms of Sacred Violence.

And it’s not just done on a governmental level. Sacred Violence can be done by just one person who declares belief in God against just one other person who disagrees. The name-calling and threats on the Internet are a prime example of this behavior. Most people do not follow the first rule of interaction in the cyberworld: If you wouldn’t say it out loud to a person, don’t type and send it online. When my children were young, I explained the Internet to them in this way: the Internet is like a huge city. It has areas that are not so good to go into, that you should probably avoid. It has lots of places to meet other people. But you don’t just walk up to someone on the street and start cursing and screaming at them. And if you hear someone say something that you don’t agree with, you don’t make death threats. In real life (IRL), that can get you seriously hurt…or killed. Likewise, you shouldn’t these things on the Internet.

Most people lack the technological savvy to know that even though you may have chosen a pseudonym and hide behind it to perpetuate your version of Sacred Violence, there are people who ARE savvy and can find your real identity and personal information if you give them a good enough reason to do it. Even without that ability, it’s also possible to completely shame you on the Internet in return for vicious words. Bad enough to do this kind of thing (or as it’s called online, “trolling”) for personal or political reasons. But to feel that God has given you the mandate to be violent in your words against the “unbelievers” is the worst sort of delusion.

Violence has never been the best answer for any of the world’s problems. Heck, it hasn’t even really been an answer. Violence that is considered sacred because it was ordered by your God is still violence and it’s still not the solution. Jesus Himself suffered violence against him; the scourging, the crown of thorns, and of course, the crucifixion, but He never fought back. He prayed for his enemies, for those who committed this violence against Him. He chose love instead of violence–which was His whole mission.

Love God, love your neighbor. Because God, the Father, loves His children. And that means everybody, no exceptions. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Something the zealots need to learn and follow. Maybe then we could end at least Christian-driven Sacred Violence.

Did Adam and Eve Have Sex Before They Sinned?

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it is my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other commentors, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


I won’t scare you with the chain of thoughts that led me to this, but let’s start here:

When God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden, He told Eve “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe.” That was to be Eve’s punishment for eating the fruit of the Tree of Life/Knowledge (depending on who you ask).

Keeping that thought in mind, let’s get scientific and modern. All female mammals have to labor in order to give birth. (Even things that lay eggs have to work at getting them out of their bodies.) I’d go so far as to say that having children requires some type of “labor”, some effort to get things where they need to be in order to keep the population going, no matter what kingdom they belong to. Heck, even the lowly amoeba has to work at splitting itself in two. So my point is that childbirth has labor–and with that, comes pain. James Herriot wrote several  descriptions of having to help a cow or a sheep that was in labor (and that it was obvious the animal was in pain) in his books about being a Yorkshire vet.

You still with me? Okay, let’s put those two thoughts together: God told Eve that he was going to punish her by making childbirth hard and birth requiring labor (and pain) is pretty much universal across all living beings. When I thought about that, it led me to only two conclusions:

  1. Either God was vindictive enough to cause “travail” for all female/childbearing creatures OR
  2. Adam and Eve had NOT been having sexual intercourse OR God had been using some form of birth control so that she had not gotten pregnant

IF God was vindictive enough to have punished all child-bearing creatures, that makes him a rather sick fuck and not much of a god. I’m not sure I would agree with punishing Eve, but according to His rules, she had ignored The One Rule (to subdue them all?). So why would He make all animals suffer? Unless…childbirth with labor/pain was already the norm and this was an empty threat–that was made into a threat only because she had not given birth yet.

So that gives us the second option and its associated scenario. Let’s say that Adam and Eve had been having intercourse. It has been described as being a “gift from God”, something joyous and holy. So the two of them were having sin-free sex. The basic and biological reason for having sex is to produce offspring. Why didn’t they? Was there some “magical” birth control? Was God preventing conception? Had He placed his Holy IUD into her womb, or put a sacred cervical cap to prevent the swimmers getting through? Or…did he just have the fertilized ovum…die? All of which puts a seriously new spin on the fundamentally religious stance of anti-choice, anti-abortion, mostly anti-birth control (since some of those pills are “actually abortifacients”).

Or was there some other reason that Eve did not get pregnant, perhaps she didn’t ovulate (or menstruate, the bigger “punishment” if ever there was one!) or Adam did not produce sperm. Maybe it was just for the oldest reason (and the most religiously approved form of modern birth control) — they were abstaining. Well, they couldn’t abstain from something that they didn’t do to begin with. And after The Fall, when the Lord comes looking for Adam and he hides from God, he is asked why he hid and his answer is, “Because I was naked.”. If Adam and Eve did not know that they were clothing-challenged, they probably never considered rubbing their nether parts together.

Adam was so busy naming all the animals that he didn’t bother naming body parts. Not only were they “innocent”, they were beyond that since even a child knows that there are two kinds of bodies in their species…those with a hose and those with a hole. A newborn boy will (automatically?) reach for his stem when you change his diaper. A newborn girl can be a bit more discrete, just clenching her thighs to get that good feeling. Of course, I can grant that this is behavior that occurs after Adam and Eve were thrown out of their home. So maybe our innocents are really born with the “Original Sin”. And maybe Adam and Eve just didn’t have sexual intercourse while they were in the Garden.

Having muddled our way through all of that, what is the next logical step for this though process? Well, now we consider the general rabid fervor the fundamentally religious employ when talking about sex, intercourse, procreation and particularly about birth control and abortion. Where on Earth did they ever get the idea that sex is sinful, should only be done within the bonds (good name, that) of marriage and only to have a child? Well, maybe it wasn’t on Earth–maybe they have made the logical assumption that Adam and Eve did not have children until AFTER they sinned because they didn’t have sex before taking a bite of that fruit.

Since they are so adamantly opposed to interfering with procreation, either prior to (birth control) or after the fact (abortion), I don’t think that the fundamentals would worship a God that had actually performed either of these methods. Let’s face it: if He actually did prevent children (before or after the act), then He is obviously pro-birth control, possibly pro-abortion. (“Pro-abortion is not to be confused with “pro-choice”. Two different things.) That seriously contradicts some of their most strongly held beliefs…their heads would probably pop if they suddenly had to incorporate this idea of “God, the Original Planned Parenthood”. And would probably require a new look at every bit of the book they follow–to the point of admitting that it is a work of humans who had their own agenda for what belonged in it and what didn’t–just try researching the Council of Nicaea and who was there, who was making deals… Add to that the Bible that is in Turkey, scientifically accepted as being about 1500 years old, which makes it the oldest Scriptures in the world. It is said to hold a very different story of Jesus’s death–that he actually didn’t die, but was taken up into Heaven (not unlike his mother). Sure changes the whole “suffered for your sins, died on the cross” thing, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately the fundamentally religious people also have another very specific and irrefutable trait: they KNOW what they know. They know it without a doubt, without even the consideration of a thought about other possibilities, because they were told that (something) is true. It’s capital “T” true for them, and once it’s been given that status, there is NO changing it. It’s TRUE, godsdamnit. Don’t try to confuse me with facts. (Or science.) I will defer to Galileo Galilei: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

If the God of Abraham, also called Jehovah or Allah–because Jews, Christians and Muslims all have the same guy as their CEO (Chief Evangelical Officer)–bothered to spend the time making brains to put into our heads, shouldn’t we then be responsible, nay even required, to make fullest use of them? Otherwise, why bother making them? Illiterate, uneducated people can live a full and rewarding life; they can appreciate Nature, care for others, and do most of the things any of us do (that don’t require reading or school-taught skills). The “so-called” primitive tribes (and I say “so-called” because the adjective “primitive” is something that we add to their name and I consider it pejorative) have homes, tools (and weapons), and skills. In some ways, because they don’t have “book learning”, they have an understanding of some pretty complex concepts beyond that  of a Harvard graduate. They not only follow the natural cycles (seasons, animal migration and so on), but understand Nature in a way that the “so-called” enlightened folks do not–and we suffer for that lack of connection to the world.

And yes, even those who are illiterate, who are uneducated–use their brains. Intelligence is not measured by how many letters there are after your name or how many books you’ve read. Your ability to solve problems, to handle abstract concepts, to communicate clearly with others…these are the things which show that your brain works. (Side thought: why does it seem that it takes intelligence, especially higher than average, to really have a sense of humor? Or at least a more sophisticated sense of humor than just a pie in the face.) So God, that according to the fundamentally religious, created all of us, intended for us to use the brains we have in the world that we live in.

Which point these same fundamentally religious people seem to miss. They allow another mortal, usually a male, to read from or cite a book (that may or may not actually be what they think it is) while they listen and take it as (excuse me) “gospel truth”. They allow other mortals (again, usually male) to form groups and hierarchies within their specific forms of religion who then control the religion from those positions. These hierarchies may stretch back through hundreds, even thousands of years of the religion’s existence and it is always mortals, mere humans, who are passing down the rules and beliefs for that religion. Have you ever played the game “Grapevine” (some call it “Telephone”), where one person whispers a sentence into the next person’s ear, who repeats what they heard, through the players. At the end, the last person states out loud the sentence s/he was told–and then the first person says out loud what he had whispered to the next player. If you haven’t ever played this, trust me when I tell you…those two sentences seldom bear any resemble to each other. “Your brother came to my house and we played Nintendo” can end up like “Our mother’s the same, do you know sand and sea stayed in tandem”.

Now just imagine the first sentence in–and to keep with most fundamentally religious people’s timeline–about 4000 BCE (Before Common Era, also known as “BC”, Before Christ). God has created the whole show; dinosaurs and mastodons are running around, and Adam and Eve have settled down in a nice community with their two boys. (Ummm, where did that community come from? Never mind.) So God decides it’s time to get someone to ghost write (Holy Ghost write?) this book He’s been working on. Or maybe it’s even as late as Moses’ time…since the Egyptian knew how to read and write. Or maybe it was with the Phoenicians. Anyway, God finds his co-writer and begins to dictate.

Except that his chosen vessel doesn’t have paper or a pen, so God repeats it often enough that it’s memorized. And it’s still what God had said…so this person passes on the whole saga to the next, probably the Keeper of Records in their religious hierarchy. He tells it to the next person and in two generations, words are being left out or replaced with other words that don’t mean quite the same thing. And the more stories which have to get added, the more gets forgotten or reworded. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest writings of the story of Jesus, are not as old as the events they talk about. And so eventually we end up with both Old and New Testaments which Mr. Gutenberg prints and now makes it available to more people, not just the very rich who would have scribes to make copies of the versions that were in their local religious building.

Now add to that the fact that the earliest versions were written in Aramaic. Check this out: “Last of the Aramaic Speakers” –an article that says what we consider to be Aramaic is not just a single language, but a whole conglomeration of different languages–and it does NOT reflect the form spoken at the time of Jesus. You can certainly agree that translation would be necessary, but would be done by people who had perhaps very little or even no knowledge of the language they would be translating. Remember Grapevine? Imagine if the first sentence is given in Russian or German–but the second person doesn’t speak that language and can only reproduce the word sounds, trying to make a coherent sentence out of them.

We’re talking about the obvious reasons for not believing as literal and incontrovertible truth anything that is passed down in oral history, written in an ancient language and then translated without the knowledge of that language (or as is the actual case for the Bible, multiple translations). As with other cultures, the Bible can be considered a book of mythology, an allegory for events that occurred in the distant past. (And in this case, distant means more than about 6 generations removed, since anyone alive at the first generation is probably not around to dispute the sixth generation’s bastardization of their story.) Consider the Genesis story of creation: if it’s literally true, the empirical evidence that we can discern through scientific observation and using our God-given brain is not true–and not worth the effort of figuring it out. On the other hand, what if it began as an oral history, given to nomadic tribes who were illiterate and uneducated (as we define those terms today), people who didn’t know about scientific process and didn’t even have the words for “quantum physics” or “evolutionary process”. It’s a simplified explanation of a process that has, by scientific discovery, taken millions of years–not thousands.

So IF the Word of God IS true, where does that leave Adam and Eve, sex and sin? I think it breaks down like this: Adam and Eve were NOT having sex prior to eating the fruit. By consuming from the Tree of Life–or the term I like better, the Tree of Knowledge, “their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked”. In other words, the act of sinning is what ended up enabling them to have children, even if there was labor involved.

That would explain the modern fundamental stance on sex, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, birth control and abortion. It would also provide the basis for most of the “War on Women” we are seeing in legislation throughout the nation. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” becomes the other part of that thought process. That explains the actual NEED to control women’s sexuality. Intercourse was not supposed to be fun, it was supposed to be for procreation and therefore, women were not to seek it other than from their husband and only to have a child. There is simply no other reason to “do it”. And men will be in charge. Although I think the fundamentalists have taken that a bit far, because it has become ANY man being in charge of ANY woman.

This is one of those *things* that the fundamentalists KNOW, and is TRUE for them. So by association, a woman who seeks birth control (never mind what medical reason she might have for needing it, we all KNOW what she’s really talking about) or has an abortion (AUGH!) is committing SIN. And as concerned and loving fundamentalists, it is now the men’s job to ensure that she does not sin–even if they have to make non-religious laws to do that. And even if she is not of their religion, they still have to adhere to their belief and force her to conform to that belief, because they KNOW they are right and she is wrong.

If she is sinful enough to engage in sexual activity without a husband and becomes pregnant, it is her punishment for sinning. She cannot take active measures to prevent it because that is a sin of intention. She cannot kill the child (or as I call it, have an abortion, ending an unwanted pregnancy that isn’t a viable human being yet) because that would also be a sin–a BIG one!! And anyone who helps by providing birth control or an abortion is also sinning and deserves the wrath of God for their sins. So it’s okay to firebomb an abortion clinic, or walk up to a doctor (that provides abortions) while he is greeting people at his church and shoot him dead. It’s okay to stand outside of Planned Parenthood and shout vile and disgusting things at the women who are trying to enter. Anything done to stop women from sinning is okay and not a sin at all. In fact, there is an exemption from all other types of sin while saving the women, such as lying, killing and bearing false witness. If it’s done in the name of love and your God…it’s all okay.

Anybody besides me notice that this current and incredible insistence on controlling women’s sex lives NEVER includes their male partners? Women cannot get pregnant on their own–the one time that happened it was God’s will and therefore, acceptable–so why aren’t the men being similarly targeted for the loving intentions interference of the fundamentalists? Oh there have been a few attempts to make premarital sex illegal…but let’s be frank: that’s been going on for almost as long as there have been humans on this Earth. In fact, in some cultures, it is a requirement to ensure that the man and woman in question are actually able to have a child together.

You want to know why men don’t have the same scrutiny and control on their sexual live? Because it’s men making the rules, to suit them and give them control over the other half of the population. Men don’t have to worry about whether it can be proven that they are 1) a virgin or not and 2) having sex. They don’t get pregnant, so birth control is not a man’s responsibility. <snark font> This once again bring us back around to the dogged attempts to completely control women’s sexual life (and her childbearing). And it goes much deeper than just whether she has sex and or a baby, or not. A woman who cannot control her own body, who cannot prevent pregnancy, has to either be completely abstinent or risk having a child at any time. (Pointing out the obvious: men NEVER have to abstain from sex; to have or not to have is always a choice for them.)

Women who cannot plan for the birth of a child have to live their life as if they could have a child at any time (assuming they do not choose abstinence from sex–which, as a basic, biological drive is pretty damned hard to do). This severely limits their job choices — pregnancy can interfere with work attendance (a serious issue these days, and one that can get you fired even if you’re not pregnant); the time off for recuperation from childbirth, as well as any additional time a woman might take can be a real killer for a career path–it shows where her priorities are, and it’s not with the company. Lack of loyalty, that. When teens get pregnant, only about 50% of the women actually finish high school or get a GED by the time they are 22. What job can you get without a high school diploma? The GED doesn’t even carry as much weight as that diploma because it means that  at some point, you quit. If you’ll quit school, you will probably quit the job, so the business doesn’t trust you–if they will even hire you in the first place. (And most of the teen fathers actually finish high school and get that diploma. Only about 30% have some problem finishing school. Which may or may not be due to the child, although I know that the boys will quit school to find a job to support this new family. And then he spends his life working at unskilled jobs, often multiple jobs–which creates its own kind of stress on top of adjusting to the new conditions of life.)

Without a job that will pay a living wage, which is something very different from “working a minimum wage job”, a woman then has to rely on someone else to help her out. It might be Uncle Sam, in the form of WIC, food stamps and welfare. Or it may end up being marriage to the man who is the child’s father, whether or not you had planned to spend the rest of your life with him. And the concept that marriage is forever is certainly not proven by the divorce statistics–which are generally thrown about as being 50%. Well, “…better way, researchers suggest, calculates how many people who ever married subsequently divorced. Counted this way, the divorce rate has never exceeded 41 percent and is even now edging down. “This highest rate of divorce in the 2001 survey [of the Fertility and Family Branch of the Census Bureau] was 41 percent for men who were then between the ages of 50 and 59, and 39 percent for women in the same age group.” (from this article: US Divorce Rates and Statistics) So even using this formula for figuring it out, there are an awful lot of marriages that end before either party dies. I would also suggest that the current decline in the rate of divorce that is mentioned is probably explained by the growing choice of co-habitation rather than a legal union–and when that dies, there is no divorce to track.

Where does all of this leave us? How about with the fundamentalists tromping all over personal liberties and rights to enforce their beliefs on the rest of us in the form of legislation that prohibits women’s sexual choices? They have gone beyond picketing abortion clinics to re-writing school curricula to teach bad information about sex, or no information at all–which leads to teens not even knowing how they got pregnant. This strategy also removes women from the corporate boardrooms–at least the ones who want to have children. And it tries (and is succeeding, on some levels) to put women into a second class citizen, a commodity to be kept unsullied until purchased married and then she must obey her husband. Women lose not only their right to control their own body, they lose basic human rights of freedom and choice for what their lives will be.

And this train of religious ideology leads straight to a station called “The Handmaid’s Tale” (see here: The_Handmaid’s_Tale) I read this book almost 20 years ago and thought it creepy and frightening. I remember it now, look around me and realize that we are racing, hellbent for leather, into the theocratic horror of the story. The almost amusing, but very ironical twist to the story is that while under public scrutiny, the men are very stalwart in their religion. But once they get home, once they are out of the public eye…they behave as men do today: going to bars, sleeping with women they are not married to, all those sinful things they would not allow others to do. I don’t see the current bunch of fundamentalists being able to create their theocracy any differently. How many TV-evangelists have million dollar mansions, wear custom-made suits and then tell their congregation that God wants more money? How many preachers have been caught with their pants down–and not always with a woman?

As far as I can tell, religion serves one purpose: to divide and differentiate its followers from everyone else. This sense of superiority leads to behaviors that are all the bad things humans do — and not the loving, caring actions which their own books and dogma tell them. When I am pointing this out, I quote Matthew 25, 31-46:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Now that you’ve read that, look around at our society and tell me: are the fundamentalists who seem intent upon creating a theocracy sheep, or goats? If the Bible is the literal Word of God, true and the final authority, then they are sheep, sort of. They are cherry-picking the parts they want to follow, but in their own mind … they are following. On the other hand, if the Bible is an allegory, a mythology then they are perpetrating a hoax in order to achieve control of the nation. And that, in most any book, is treason. All of this is because we cannot answer, of our knowledge, whether Adam and Eve had sex in the Garden of Eden.

The Challenge of the Complicated Conversation

Christening the Ship

 

Welcome aboard! This is inauguration of what I think is a really exciting idea: the challenge of the complicated conversation. As I say on the Home page, this was inspired by Mikhail Baryshnikov and the commencement speech he gave some time ago. His words resonated with me and I felt compelled to start this blog, to reach out and begin the discussions we need to have–all of us.

Life has a fair number of “tough” topics: politics, religion, sex. We’re in the process of a national debate on things like a woman’s right to make medical decisions for her own body or what do we do about the growing inequality of wealth–already way out of kilter and just getting worse. So this blog will certainly be about current events, the things we find “trending” in our Facebook feed or on Twitter.

It will also be about teaching the youngsters among my readers about history, the way things happened “back in my day” and how that is the same, or different, than today. As the saying goes, “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We look back over the years to understand how we got here–and that’s worth talking about.

But I do not intend to limit this blog to just current events and history lessons. I look forward to other types of complicated conversations–like the ones about gender identity, chronic illness, mental illness, and the big one that no one really wants to talk about: Death. Having worked with the geriatric population, seen death many times…I can tell you that there are things worse than death. Sometimes, “Death is only the beginning.” It’s a conversation that we need to have, to remove the fears and misconceptions about it. The same with mental illness–talk about it to remove the stigma.

So I anticipate some lively threads! As this is my debuting blog, I am just setting the chairs, making sure everyone has drinks, getting ready for the conversations that will follow. I can warn you right now–I do not promise either consistency in topic or frequency of posting. But I was nudged into getting this (finally) up and public by the courageous change of careers from my favorite blog author–gave up his day job and is now a fully independent free lance writer. And he made a great point–treat writing as a job. Get up in the morning, knowing that you will spend a certain amount of time each day writing. It doesn’t matter if you end up trashing 3/4 of it later on…it’s impossible to produce anything of worth if you don’t even get your thoughts down on paper. (Or in this case, down in cyberspace, saved to the hard drive.)

I already have a lot I’d like to share–but if you have a particular subject you’d like to see covered here, don’t hesitate to leave those suggestions in the comments below. We can get to it eventually, promise.

It is my hope (and perhaps one of the driving reasons I am doing this) that our conversations will (of course) simplify the complicated and messy lives we have–and perhaps provide a reason to start your own activism in whatever speaks to you. At the very least I want these conversations to be thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, shockwaves to destroy complacency and apathy. Too many of us have lost ourselves, the real life we are supposed to be living, given up for a 9 to 5 and the “American Dream” (that is actually a lie). I want our interactions to be a wake up call, a thought provoking session that leads to provoking changes in our lives.

I also look forward to other, perhaps more “gentle” conversations about the things that interest us. It doesn’t all have to be life-altering revelations. <grin> No subject is off limits, as far as I am concerned, as long as every conversation is polite and thoughtful, regardless of the topic being discussed.

So I repeat, welcome and have a seat. We are going to have great conversations, you and I. Take the challenge and run with it!