religion

arvan's picture

On Tim Tebow and the captive audience sales pitch

When I was a kid, our family would gather at my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  All manner of cousins, aunts, uncles and sundry relatives would descend on a little house in Batavia, IL.  She had a bar in the basement with a pool table, a long dining room table made longer by adding some folding card tables and folding chairs.  In the living room, she had a big color TV - one of those tube jobs with the old remote that clicked loudly when you pressed a button.

The house and the day were a montage of running around, opening presents and eating tons of food including some questionable things made with Jello.  After a day of consumption and jubilation the adults were usually at the bar or playing pool downstairs.  Meanwhile, us kids would settle down in front of the TV to watch football.  We sprawled out across the floor, next to tables and a few choice seats in the big lounge chairs.  Late arrivals sat in the "bleacher seats" - a couch covered in plastic slip covers that stuck to skin in the summer and was slicker than ice in the winter.  Food coma and the chance to maybe see Gale Sayers break a long one.  This was the perfect ritual to mark the passing of another year and the bonds of family.

There was only one thing that could destroy this idyllic landscape: my great-uncle, the Priest.  He would come in when the game was on and we were all too tired or too full to move.  It was the kiss of death for fun.  It would usually go something like this:

great-uncle Priest: "What are you all doing in here?"

some kid: "um...watching the Bears lose"

great-uncle Priest: "Jesus never played football."

(fun dies)

arvan's picture

that time when I was 12 and forced to deal with abortion

My parents sent me to Catholic grade school, catechism and the whole nine yards.  My mother was Catholic but she was also a Democrat, pro women's rights.  She dragged us to church but she was not on board with a lot of the Church's ways.  My dad was Presbyterian and never went to church.  He didn't buy into much of the rah rah business.  But, Catholic school was where we went.

By the time I was 10, it felt like I had every sacrament except marriage & last rites.  I had one clip-on necktie and a drawer full of white shirts & black pants.  My instructors were nuns or priests.  I still have scars on my knuckles from steel tip rulers being applied in response to some hijinx or another.

Until about the age of 10 or 11, us kids were kind of like a room full of puppies.  Adults, nuns and priests mostly talked at us making announcements, scolding and instructions of some sort.  Nobody asked us what we thought.  We talked to each other in the schoolyard or on the weekend as we ran around on our own.  We never asked the nuns or priests that much either.  Nobody wanted to get pulled into some lecture about Jesus or some obscure holiday / saint / rite that we would then be responsible for remembering later.

That all changed around the time I was 12 or 13.  Maybe it was  because we were going to be leaving for high school in a couple of years, or perhaps it was the times we lived in.  Probably, it was because we were or I was now becoming aware of the world around us.  Our little brains were looking around the world and forming opinions and making choices.  That shit right there is like kryptonite in the Catholic Church, let me tell ya.

arvan's picture

An SGB Interview with Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering

Vyckie Garrison

Vyckie Garrison runs a website called No Longer Quivering, which assists women in transitioning from abusive, oppressive and servile roles as breeding servants of husbands and an interpretation of the Bible called The Quiverful movement.  The site features the stories of women and families, told in their own words - about the harsh price paid by women and children in oppressive, strict religion.  Most of the stories are painful to read, but I encourage you to read them.  The knowledge of what these women go through in order to provide healthy lives for themselves and their children - is breathtaking.  Vyckie also operates a site called The Take Heart Project, to support women in all religions who seek to free themselves of oppression, brutality & dehumanization in the name of a god. 

I invited Vyckie to be interviewed here on SGB because her story is a powerful one, which is shared in full or in part by a great many women across the globe. 

SGB: Looking back at your life, who were you before Quiverfull that you are no longer?  Who are you since leaving Quiverfull?
 
VG: Before Quiverfull, I was a young girl with a lifetime and the whole world before me ~ I was smart, competent, relatively healthy, ambitious ~ I wanted to make a difference.  I wanted to do "something big."
 
Only I didn't know what that "something big" might be.  I had a 4.0 GPA in college ~ so I knew that I could do pretty much whatever I wanted.  The problem for me was that everything seemed so very interesting ~ I wanted to do it all!!
 
But I was also very insecure and fearful.  Decision making was a terribly scary thing for me ~ what if I made the wrong choice?  Worse yet ~ what if I failed?  I wanted to know with absolute certainty that I was doing the right thing.  I had the idea that if I prayed to God for guidance and searched the bible, I could discern God's will for my life.  It was an appealing idea ~ after all, Who would know better than my Creator what was right and best for me?
 
So I went to bible college and I became a student of the Word.  Through diligent study, plus the help of many fundamentalist teachers ~ I discovered that God had very specific plans for me as a woman.  He created me female ~ gave me a womb ~ and if I was to be fulfilled and joyful and pleasing to the Lord ~ I needed to give my womb over in service to Him.  I learned that as a woman, the Lord created me to be a suitable helper for my husband ~ to bear his children and assist him in training them up to love and serve the Lord with their whole beings ~ mind, body, soul and strength.
 
Sure, I could've done anything I wanted with my life ~ but what higher calling could there be for me as a woman than to be sober, to love my husband, to love my children, to be discreet, chaste, a keeper at home, good, obedient to my own husband, that the word of God be not blasphemed? (Titus 2:4,5)
 
What I did in actuality was to give up my power ~ my agency ~ severely limiting my choices in life.  I chose to have no choice ~ all for the security of having that absolute certainty that I was doing the very best thing with my talents and abilities.  I had discovered a formula for godly family living ~ one that promised strength and guidance, favor with God ~ with all the requisite blessings of those who walked in His ways, peace beyond understanding, and eternal reward in the life to come.  After all, Jesus taught us that a man who seeks to save his life shall lose it ~ but whoever loses his life for Christ's sake shall find it.
 
It was all so real ~ so all-consuming.  I could not imagine that without it, there would be any "me" at all ~ my entire identity was wrapped up in following Christ and the Word of God.
 
When I began to have doubts ~ when I no longer trusted the Bible as my guidebook for daily living ~ I became rather anxious, so I scrambled to figure out what of Christianity I could hold onto ~ to say, "This, I still believe."
 
But I came up empty ~ none of it makes sense to me anymore.  Which kind of puts me back at square one.  The difference is ~ this time, I am not afraid.  I do not need to have all the answers ~ in fact, I'm beginning to like the uncertainty and ambiguity.  I don't mind so much anymore that life's a struggle and things get messy and we're all a little screwy at times.  I am much more relaxed and willing to take life as it comes.  I don't feel a need for a sure-fire formula or guaranteed outcomes.  The pressure is off and I am enjoying the simplicity of living life in the moment.

arvan's picture

Pat Condell: Human Rights Travesty

Pat's on fire again.  This time he goes after the UN and how it allows flagrant brutalizers of women to have a say in their policies toward the betterment of women.

Jaded's picture

Going Behind The Old Stone Face

As a country dedicated to be a hub for Westerners to feel 'at home' or to 're-find themselves', India peddles a lot of things right by your nose -- to the delight of the omnipresent DoucheColonial Gaze--  as long as they fit the frame of being 'exotic' and condescendingly charitable. Like the handmade paper by limbless workers, the Snake Dance performed by devdasis or Temple Dancers or anything that evokes the same sentiment that Slumdog Millionaire did: consumable, understandable and decoded culture, set to lively Bollywood beats, ready for you to devour it and then feel better for being as far away as possible from a culture or space that 'terrible'. In this process of re-packaging and selling culture, we've started buying it ourselves. That our religions or gods were indeed some mystified beings, that they did really exist at one point, and we will seek legal proof of just that -- as opposed to the previously held belief that they were well written and formed myths or epics -- that festivals need to be celebrated collectively, publicly, catastrophically till all semblance of an 'I' is washed away and in its place remains the bigger, more heavily inscribed 'We', till the act of worshiping god becomes an exhibitionist ritual while the personal in religion is coloured invisible.

Eyes glowering. Sometimes raised, sometimes fixed. Rock steady.

The last two weeks have been what we call in India 'Navratri', where most of the overtly Hindu regions of the country break into a folk tradition of dance and celebration to felicitate the myth of a Goddess who slayed a Horrid, Horrid Monster some centuries ago and in her memory we perform this ritual. There are ambiguous reasons behind this Goddess Amba some say she is another avatar of Shakti (the root of all feminine folklore), some believe she existed outside Shakti and some believe she is tied up with Creation itself, seeing how she is the Mother of the Universe. Whatever the reason may have been for her creation, today she is one of the ideals of femininity; an extremely non-threatening one at that. The myth I grew up with was the demon Mahisasura had got himself a boon of immortality and specifically speaking requested that "No god nor animal" will be able to match up to him, conveniently forgetting to include 'Woman'. So the Gods from their Heavenly Seats decided to make such a woman, where each God gave her some of his special powers, she was given extra limbs and a weapon in each arm, to kill the demon. One thing that strikes me is how she is ManMade, how she is created with a specific purpose in mind, she has utility for the DudeCouncil and that she wouldn't exist at all -- or even occupy the few hundred lines she does in our epics -- had it not been for one vain demon. Just like Eve, she too is half, incomplete without her demon; she has no role to play except fly into a rage, use her Shakti to restore peace unto Earth, displaying sanctioned amounts of rage on the source of 'Evil' after which she dissolves into obscurity without a trace.

arvan's picture

Sarah Graham: A Letter to my Body

'A Letter to my Body' is a series of essays - broadcast on BBC Radio 3 - in which five thinkers, artists and writers ask themselves how they relate to their own bodies.

Sarah Graham, a successful therapist and addictions counsellor, explores her at times turbulent relationship with her body.  From the age of eight Sarah was given ongoing medical treatment but she only learned the real nature of her diagnosis at the age of twenty-five when a gynaecologist finally revealed the truth: that she has XY chromosomes and is an intersex woman.

Doctors had even shielded her parents from the truth about her "disorder of sexual development".

The shock of the revelation led Sarah on a path of depression and addiction which nearly killed her. However she has gradually rebuilt her health and her self esteem. In this essay she makes peace with her body and challenges homophobia in religion and our society's polarised expectations of gender.

AIS Support Group: http://www.aissg.org/

EvilSlutClique's picture

Witch Quickie: Senator Dick Durbin's Email Fail

I recently wrote about the Wiccan community's response to Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's ignorant comments about witchcraft. Well, apparently it's a trend, and now it's Senator Dick Durbin's turn. Veronica from Viva La Feminista caught this line in a recent email sent out by Senator Durbin's office:

Across Illinois and across America, millions of voters are ready to hear a call to gather and fight the witches and wingnuts who worship Sarah Palin, stand in awe of Glenn Beck, and arrogantly profess to speak for our future.

Wingnuts may "worship" Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, but witches most definitely do not. Selena Fox of the Circle Sanctuary has described the pagan community as "multi-partisan", but considering that witches revere nature and believe in the divine feminine, I don't think that there are tons of hardcore Palin/Beck supporters in the group. As Veronica put it:

I'm sure that there must be Republican witches (I think the Wicked Witch was one) out there, but for the most part, the witches/pagans/wiccans I have met are all open-minded liberals if not radically lefty. We might not be the biggest religious group out there, but we do take offense to being liken to something to be defeated, especially, for me, to radical right wingers who don't believe in women's rights, evolution or caring for their fellow human being.

Go read the rest of her post: Senator Durbin I'm betting that most witches are Democrats.

[Cross-posted from Evil Slutopia]

Fatma Emam's picture

On Child Marriage

I am interested in the issue of Child marriage in Egypt for many reasons, first because of the huge scandal of Senator Ahmed Yerima, Nigerian Senator who " married" a 13 years old Egyptian girl and

Christina Engela's picture

True Love, Free Will & Powdered Death

Isn't it striking that right now in this country there is a move to ban pornography on digital media, specifically on mobile phones and the internet? This is ostensibly to "protect children" - a favorite excuse of the religious right wing, who fail to see the obvious - that while they are all fired up doing the Lord's work - the same kids they are trying to protect from seeing people having sex, or even making love on the web, on their phones or on TV - can watch gratuitous violence, mayhem and dismemberment on TV, and hey - in real life as well. Thus it is a logical conclusion that seeing sex and intimacy in whatever context is bad for children, but everything violent and bloody is just fine. Or is that just next on their list after gay rights, hate crime, abortion and freedom of religion?

What about the reality they are skirting around? That the poor vulnerable "children" they want to protect from viewing internet porn, despite the safety mechanisms which are all too easily enforced by parents interested enough to bother - are far more exposed to violence, bullying in schools, child abuse and even drug abuse than porn.

Right at the top of my list right now I would have to target drug abuse. Why? Because I have just been through a most painful breakup because of drugs. Right now I hate drug dealers, manufacturers and also hijackers. People who make their living out of the suffering and deaths of others, people who deserve to be stopped with extreme prejudice. If there were no hard drugs to sell, there would be no-one to sell them, and no-one to use them and pay for them, steal to pay for them or lie and hurt others and themselves in using them.
ptaguy's picture

Fundamentalist Christians & Your Porn

(Originally published on http://gaywarfare.blogspot.com/)

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