Monthly Archives: June 2008

Off I go….

Okay, all. Am off to that place no San Francisco Liberal would be caught dead….Texas. It’s a long story. Talk to you all when I get back (Fridayish)

Exit Stage Left

George Carlin once said:

“”The very existence of flamethrowers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

As a self-professed flame thrower, I can quite honestly say, George, you got it in one. You set my mind on fire with your insistent questions and passionate assertions, and even helped me question my own beliefs.

Hearing this morning that another of my heroes had died made me feel just a little lost. Like Hunter S Thompson, George Carlin challenged people. To participate. To not just be a passenger. Above all, to think and to speak out. And although there will be others who will fill the void…they won’t have George’s style or wit or amused outrage at the circus around him.

Yay, me! I’m an atheist.

Okay, so I was before. It’s just recognized, now. I’ve been added to the Atheist Blogroll over at Blogspot (which I highly recommend; it’s amazing how much information 725 atheists can put together).

Join the best atheist themed blogroll!

Indigenous tribe a publicity stunt

Okay, well…not ENTIRELY.

In a previous post, I pointed out that the main reason contact was made with this tribe was to highlight the fact that they exist in order to curb the unchecked clear cutting in the Amazonian rain forest. This morning, the Guardian broke the story that the tribe’s existence has been known since 1910, and:

the mission to photograph them was undertaken in order to prove that ‘uncontacted’ tribes still existed in an area endangered by the menace of the logging industry.

The disclosures have been made by the man behind the pictures, José Carlos Meirelles, 61, one of the handful of sertanistas – experts on indigenous tribes – working for the Brazilian Indian Protection Agency, Funai, which is dedicated to searching out remote tribes and protecting them.

While I do not disparage Funai’s cause or reasoning, their methods may have just set that cause back substantially. Something happens in people’s minds when they feel they have been swindled, whether justifiably or not. There is no question that the clear cutting is a global concern with far reaching effects. But to give the public a focus for that concern, causing an emotional connection, and then revealing that they were, in fact, misled will no doubt garner backlash that has the potential of harming the very thing they wish to protect. Public interest and goodwill only extend so far.

While I do not waver in my support of the cessation of clear cutting or the protection of the Amazon’s indigenous tribes, I find the methodology of this group reprehensible, and fear for the fallout. For those tribes, and that area, this can only be seen as an unfortunate set back.

Church attendance dwindling

Despite vocal Christians’ protests to the contrary, churches all over the country and across denominational lines are losing their congregations by increments.

As I remarked in an earlier post, I don’t believe this has anything to do with faith. It is, in short, big religion’s inability to change and grow. Religion is, by definition, constrained to specific dogma contained in their holy books. That dogma, which may have been perfectly acceptable and applicable when written, no longer applies to our society, and will only serve to become more anachronistic with time.

AJ Jacobs notwithstanding, most people are hard pressed to both live in ways approved by the laws and rules set forth in the bible and still conduct themselves in a way that fits with our modern society. Most Christians become de facto “Cafeteria Christians,” deciding which rules and laws best apply to their normal everyday lives.

Nor is it any longer necessary for people to gather at church to socialize, get their “faith fix,” or even receive religious instruction. A computer and a dial up connection, seemingly, are all that are required in order to obtain all of that and more.

Additionally, the median age of church goers is higher, suggesting long term retention of parishoners will not be replenished by the younger generation.

Does this all spell a new movement toward secularism? I am hopeful that it does. If nothing else, at least the eyesores that are megachurches will eventually be a thing of the past.

Teenage pregnancy pact

My daughter and I were watching the news this morning while I got ready for work, which we usually do. A story came up about a group of girls in Massachusetts who entered into a pact to all get pregnant and have their babies together so they could raise them together.

Consider my ghast flabbered. I can’t begin to imagine the reasoning behind this. It takes group think to a level that’s frightening. Most of these girls have absolutely no idea how to care for another human being, and now they’re committing to be responsible for one for the rest of their lives to people they probably won’t even be friends with in ten years.

We live in a society that is currently discouraging any kind of sexual education for young people beyond “don’t do it.” How anyone could expect such a position to work when it’s fairly well established that adolescent humans are basically hormones with feet is beyond me. They don’t need haranguing or threats or scare tactics. They need information and they need it now. Parenthood is not the cakewalk these young girls think it is. It is not easy, it is not glamorous, it is not a fun group activity. It is late nights, early mornings, doctors appointments, and never ending worry (that I would not trade for anything on this earth).

This is a hot button issue for me, so please forgive my soap box. However. We cannot expect our children to act responsibly if we don’t give them the information they need to do so. We must get over our fear of our teenagers having sex long enough to talk to them about it. Whether we want them to or not…at some point, they are going to have sex. Don’t you want them to be safe? To not catch a disease? To see some of their dreams fulfilled before they are irrevocably tied into parenthood? Whether you talk with them or not…they are going to have sex. Help them. Make them as prepared as you possibly can.

I work in reproductive health. I see teenagers with all manner of misconceptions about pregnancy and sex. They get those misconceptions from their peers…because their parents aren’t talking.

This issue goes beyond simple lack of education.

Whee! I’m a danger to myself and others!

Or at least, my opinion is. I wrote a rather light hearted post about gay marriage, and how really, what marriage means to us has changed over the years, even from what it meant from a purely scriptural standpoint. That point, of course, was ignored. The fact that Solomon had more wives than he could count and religious groups now want to insist that marriage means “one man, one woman,” never mind what the Bible says, was covered up faster than a certain preacher’s drug fueled same sex dalliances in Denver. Mmmm, hypocrisy! It’s what’s for dinner!

I have been lectured and pointed back to Leviticus, that great book that tells me how often and where my husband can beat me and how I should treat my Canadian slaves (because you can only get slaves from neighboring countries), and how I should be stoned for wearing a shirt that’s made with a poly-cotton blend. My assertion that all Christians pick and choose what parts of the Bible they feel are applicable? Lost. Ick factor? Justified. The most complimentary thing said about me is that I’m English (I’m not~ Californian, in fact, but I’ll take the compliment).

Dear Mr. Kennedy:

Thank you for your concern. But I suggest you follow the teachings of that man you say you revere and remove the plank from your own eye. And while you’re about it, remember that whole tolerance message he tried to send.

Phyllis and Del, 54 years and finally married

After spending a lifetime together, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were married last night by the sexiest mayor on the planet, Gavin Newsom.

It is unthinkable that anyone could say these two women who still, after all this time, obviously love each other, do not deserve the benefit of any other loving couple: to stand in front of family and friends and be married.

I think one of the tragedies of this amazing age is that because we are able to access nearly everything through our computers, we sometimes forget that there are human beings on the other end of the concepts we fight against. We apply tags and labels and disregard the fact that those tags and labels are being assigned to 3 dimensional human beings, all of whom have lives and worries and triumphs and joys….just like every other human being.

It’s easy to dismiss a concept. People do it all the time. But watching history taking place, and seeing the love between Phyllis and Del…I could only sit with tears in my eyes and celebrate the fact that these two very human women lived to see the day they could be married and have the love between them vindicated.

Help, Help, I’m being oppressed!!

I like to consider myself a reasonable person (doesn’t everyone?). I like to think that most things can be resolved by sitting down and being direct and honest, even if that honesty makes you somewhat raw. Unfortunately, I’ve found that few people are honest with themselves about their actual motives, much less to others. As a result, justifications are made, and the equivalent of putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and screaming LALALALALA at the top of one’s lungs is performed in a large majority of internet debates in which one group simply wants the same rights as every other group on the planet. How is this accomplished? I have a couple examples. After trying to have reasonable, intelligent discussions with idiots that wouldn’t recognize an intellectually honest debate if it sat on their faces and wiggled this weekend, I got frustrated, threw up my hands and said “screw it.” Which for me, is something, as I try to see everyone’s point.

Let’s start with atheism. I apologize to all the Brits, New Zealanders, Irish, Indians, etc… I am going to speak directly of my country’s rights. It is, sadly, one of those American tendencies to not see beyond our own borders. So. Sorry. Anyway. In this country, the country of the “free,” it is up to every citizen to what religion they wish to subscribe. If that citizen decides, through whatever mechanism, that they are an atheist…SO BE IT! That does not make you more moral or more deserving of rights than that person. And while it was semi amusing to see the 85% majority of this country (Christians) go on about how repressed they are just because there are now enough atheists and people of other religions that they have to recognize that everyone else has the exact same rights as they do, it’s starting to get old. Suck it up. It’s in the Constitution. Everyone gets treated the same UNDER THE LAW. No, that does not mean I think everyone is the same. It means just what it says. The law says everyone gets to worship however the hell they want and you can’t treat them differently because of it. Period. You are not being repressed just because Wal Mart greeters say “Happy Holidays.” No, you’re not. No, you are freaking well NOT. It means Wal Mart recognizes that not just Christians shop there and they want those people’s money, too. That’s it. Wal Mart is not your special friend. They’re a retailer. Get. Over it. Don’t like it? Here’s an idea. Take your wallet somewhere else and vote with that. That’s what capitalism is all about, after all, and this country is about nothing if not commerce.

Moving on. Gay marriage. Unpucker your sphincter. Are you gay? No? Then it has nothing to do with you. No it doesn’t. No. It really doesn’t. And don’t you dare try to tell me two people you have never met and will never meet as long as you live conducting their boring-as-everyone-else lives 1500 or however many miles away from you have any effect whatsoever on your marriage, because that’s crap. They want the same rights as you, and y’know what? They’re as much citizens as you are and there is no legal justification you can come up with for why they shouldn’t. The slippery slope doesn’t work, because there are already rules against children marrying, no one is going to marry their cow, because a cow cannot give consent, same thing for a piece of farm equipment. YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO ADMIT YOU’RE A BIGOT! TOUGH!! YOU ARE! Everyone is, in one way or another. YOU are not being put upon or repressed in any way just because gay people want to be treated the same by the law as everyone else.

HOLY CRAP, PEOPLE! Shut the hell up and worry about your own damn lives, already. D’you know what moral judgments are? They’re justifications for saying you’re better than someone else. Oh, yes they are. Knock it off. Want to make the world a better place? Concentrate on what YOU do.

Okay. I’m done ranting.

British Anglican Church’s First Gay Wedding

The first full wedding ceremony for a gay couple was held in London’s Anglican Church; both grooms members of the clergy. Rev. Peter Cowell & Rev. Dr. David Lord were married last month at St. Bartholomew the Great Church.

Rev. Martin Dudley stood in direct defiance of the bishop guidelines, saying:

“I know about the bishops guidelines and I disagree with them. It just seems to me to be utter hypocrisy to deny the fact that there are significant numbers of gay men and women within the church and significant numbers of gay clergy.”

Now more than ever, various religions are being faced with the fact that members of their faith are gay, and those people no longer feel the need to hide their relationships as if they are something shameful.

If religions are to continue to retain congregations and grow, they must recognize that societal mores change over time as our views of what constitutes a person or a relationship changes.

The main issue I have always had with religion – not belief, but religion – is that it attempts to freeze society in a set of rules that applied well to a certain period in history, but which no longer fit as we’ve advanced scientifically and technologically.

So many things we do now would be considered “not what god wants” from a strictly scriptural standpoint. Marriage, at least according to the bible, used to mean anything up to a man and a hundred women, some of whom were as young as 12 years old. That’s changed. So I’m thinking this “one man, one woman” idea is something that can be negotiable as well, and the insistence on it is really just the “ick” factor that certain people are unable to get past.