Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Do I Talk About Religion So Much?

This should be a really long post because I have a lot to say, but I think it will be a really short one because I'm tired. Maybe I'll decide to write more in-depth on bits later, but I wanted to get this basic gist out.

People ask me, and I'm sure others wonder and don't ask, why I spend so much time and energy talking about, reading about, joking about, making fun of, mocking, and thinking about a God I don't believe exists.

I know many people think it's proof that I really do believe, and am just, I don't know, fighting it or something. Some probably figure I'm just trying to make others mad. Or that the devil is doing this through me to drag others down. (Yeah, I'm aware some of you think I somehow forcibly converted my husband.)

Look, "Why do you talk about God so much?" is a question most atheists get a lot of. The following is my answer. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I talk about religion, and by extension, God, because religious beliefs, ones that aren't even mine, are a large part of my existence.

In fact, Christianity in particular affects me more today than it ever did when I believed, in an a more invasive way. (I am not going to do a long address to the question of why I 'only pick on' Christianity; just for now understand it's the one that affects me most of the time.)

Christianity worms its way into everything. Everything.

-Public schools.

-The pledge of allegiance, which is creepy enough without throwing a forced reference to one religion's deity in. (PS- you probably know, because you're smart, that there wasn't any God in the original pledge. Right?)

-Money. Do you know how ridiculous that is? I swear, someone should make one of those stamps, one that gives a veryshortform version of Jesus tossing the banking tables in the temple, and start stamping it on dollars. Seriously, you think that guy wants represented on your cash?

-Government. We have a national day of prayer. Our elected officials go out and hold prayer meetings, on the taxpayer dime. That means that the Jewish people in your town, the atheist people in your town, the Muslim people in your town- they're all FUNDING your religious ceremony. So not cool.

-Morality. Religion gets to hijack morality. People get to say that I can't be moral if I don't follow their God. "Well, where do you get your morals from, then?" People decide whether someone is moral based on his beliefs. Is he okay to date your daughter? "Well, he goes to church, he's a good Christian boy, he's fine."

-Sexuality. You think you get to tell me who I should be attracted to, who I should have sex with, how often, when, and why, based on your favorite book?

And there's more, but that's about all I have time to list tonight.

But let me give you an analogy, okay? Let's say that you don't believe in unicorns, but everyone else around you talks about unicorns basically nonstop. Let's say that your kids hear about unicorns at school, and get mocked or condemned for not believing in them. Let's say that when we have a presidential race, you hear people debating about what kind of unicorn the candidates have. People ask you about your pet unicorn. When you say you don't have a pet unicorn, your pregnancy care provider, of all the effing people, tries to sell you hers. You say you don't believe in unicorns, and she scolds you, and insists you come see her unicorn.

At some point, you start feeling kinda like you're being punked. How can so many people be so damned hung up on unicorns? I'm looking around, folks, I don't see any unicorns! So, you smile and try to just be nice about the unicorns. (Maybe you wonder if you're going crazy, until, thankfully, you meet some other aunicornists out in the world and learn you're not alone after all.)

But more and more, you find that other people's belief in unicorns is affecting your life.

Well, I kinda feel like you'd talk about unicorns, and probably kind of a lot.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Babies In Suits - How Does That Work?

I needed a shirt to put on the baby, and I amused myself by selecting one that belonged to one of the bigger kids.

This led to the idea that I might do a photo like those 'baby in a suit' ones, but with big kid clothes, instead of a suit. I don't know where I'd find a suit.

So, I collected a 6 month old baby, a shirt sized for a 7yo, a pair of pants for a 10yo, and my phone, and headed for my bed to lay the photo out.

I put the baby in the shirt. I am not sure if the normal method in the suit pictures is to put the baby in the shirt or lay it over him, but I was putting the oversized shirt on him anyway, at least until I could locate a smaller one, so I just did.

In a suit, the shirt would presumably have covered his feet, and I could have just placed the pants on the bed below. This shirt did not cover the baby's feet, so I tucked his legs into the pants.

Okay, so far, so good. But then he started moving.

Which quickly proceeded into pants-eating.

I got the pants flat, and snapped a quick shot, but he was distracted and wouldn't look at me.

Ideally, at this point, I would have started the process of taking 8-12 photos in a row, adjusting my angle, calling his name, moving to different places, in hopes of catching one in which he was looking at me (maybe even smiling), not moving and blurry, and with a good angle and lighting.

Alas, it was not to be. Before my phone could adjust for the second shot, he was gone, back-crawling right out of the pants.

Doing the awkward roll-over:

Hi, Mom.

Oh, look, a book. That looks way more interesting than those pants.

So, baby-in-a-suit was not to be, nor was baby-in-big-kid-clothing. Maybe a different day.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dreaming Through The Culture Wars

Ever have that dream where you're naked in school, standing at the front of the classroom, trying to give a report you've forgotten to write?

Last night, I had one that was just as embarrassing- I accidentally went into a Chik-Fil-A and started to order.

I was wandering through the mall, with a group of people I haven't seen since high school. We were pretty clearly on a class trip.

I was playing with my phone, which I broke yesterday (in the waking world, in real life), trying to get a text sent. Since the bottom third of the touch screen no longer works, that requires flipping it back and forth to get to parts of the on-screen keyboard.

I followed my friend into the food court, and she said something like, "You wanna go to the chicken place?"

I didn't even look up, just muttered, "Okay, yeah," and followed.

I got to the counter, realized it was my turn, and started looking at the menu. I couldn't find anything that appealed to me, and I asked, "Don't you have, like, nuggets?"

The server showed me a box of nuggets, and they were small and squarish, and they looked familiar in an odd way.

I looked around- no company name to be found inside the alcove, but there were cows. Cows....cows in a chicken place had to mean.......I yelped a little, and literally ran out of the place, into the shop directly across, not even caring what it was.

I ordered nuggets there, and looked around. Oddly, their nuggets were shaped like little penises, and there was a jar full of pickles on the counter that all looked like penises.

One of my classmates walked in and said, "Eating in this place always turns me on."

A cousin who I won't name lest I embarrass or anger him-or-her came in behind him, saying, "Yeah, me too, I love the pickles!"

And I stood there, leaning against the counter, worrying that someone might have seen me in the Chik-Fil-A and might think I supported them.

So then I realized, the obvious answer to that was to eat this restaurant's very distinctively shaped food out in the open, in the middle of the mall, which would ensure that no one had any questions what I supported.

And yeah, as a matter of fact, I live in an age where it's less embarrassing to gobble penis pickles in the middle of a mall concourse than to be seen at Chik-Fil-A.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Thoughts On Creationism, Persecution, And Christianity

Today I stumbled across an article that talked about Creationism as a cult, rather than 'real' Christianity.

Now, I have some issues with this. Mainly, the 'no true Scotsman' fallacy- you simply do not get to decide that people are not Christians just because you don't want to be represented by them, no matter whether the people in question are the Westboro Baptists, Ken Ham, Creationists, or progressive Christians who believe in treating gay people fairly and letting women wear pants and speak in church.

Just because they aren't in the same slot as you, doesn't mean you get to deny them their chosen categorization- any more than they get to deny you yours.

Anyway, that's not the point.

I saw a line further on that intrigued me.

When I attack creationists, they think I’m attacking Christianity – which isn’t true at all. 
 My mind immediately went off on two separate tracks.

One was, well, dude, you kinda are. Because a  Gallup Poll from 2011 says that about 30% of people in the U.S. take their Bible literally. I think there's a more recent poll than that, but couldn't find it.

I did find some from a few years earlier, that show higher percents, suggesting that the number is dropping, but honestly, 3 in 10 is a lot of people. And I feel like I remember the more recent one I saw showing an increase, but since I can't find it, don't quote me.

So yeah, if you insult Biblical literalism, there's a maybe one in three chance that the person listening is a follower of the beliefs you're talking about.

If you already know the person in question is a Christian, then your chances increase further, since presumably all non-Christians fall into the other 7-in-10.

The other thought was, DUDE, YES! And if I say something against Biblical literalism, then I am sure to not only piss off my Biblical literalist friends, but also a lot of non-literalist Christian friends, who will jump in with a "Not all Christians believe that!" (Side note: I don't claim I've never over-generalized, nor that I've always known Christians who weren't Biblical literalists existed. I've been aware of that fact for approximately 1/3 of my life. As for the rest, I still get these responses when I don't generalize, no matter how specific I am. I do try very hard these days not to generalize.)

Right now, I'm writing a novelette that mocks the idea of Christian persecution as a major problem in America. It is not intended to suggest Christians are not ever persecuted, that no one has ever been mocked for religion in America, or that those who do do face discrimination for being Christian should be ignored or their experiences diminished- it merely attacks the idea that the majority belief system in the U.S. is under constant attack and persecution.

I haven't seen God's Not Dead yet. I won't, probably, until I can do so on my tv screen for  free or cheap. I don't like theaters, and I don't like paying big bucks for them.

Especially to see a movie that, by all accounts, is less a pro-Christian than an anti-non-Christian one.

But you can see how, in that movie, this myth is leaned on- the poor Christian is told by his professor to write down that God is dead- a ridiculous premise, since no atheist believes God is dead. We believe he never lived, doesn't exist- would you insist that someone 'admit' that Santa or unicorns are dead? It's silly.

And, there is a big difference between attacking an idea and attacking people, in my opinion.

Still, when my novelette is done, I reckon some people are going to be upset. They won't see 'Christianity as a persecuted minority is a ridiculous notion,' they'll see 'making fun of silly Christians'.

Well, that's not my intent, but I do see that it's going to happen, and I do accept it.