Alternate Endings to Marriage

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my lovely soul sister, Abby. We did the LA thing–Los Feliz, Weho and the Grove. We went to Palermo’s for pizzarosa and wine and wandered next door to Skylight Books. Of course we ended up in the Gender Studies/Erotica section, because I’m convinced all surviving cult members are interested in these subjects. Or, maybe just us.

We found a really helpful salesperson who actually recommended two books to us. One is Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. The second book was The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti. I bought both of them and put a few more of her recommendations on my list of books to buy. She said we both needed to read The Ethical Slut, and I was really intrigued by the book. It seemed like a guide to being honest, respectful and healthy while still being able to get the pleasure you want out of life.

Do you see a correlation between all these titles? Sex and the young woman.

Sexual women are often labeled whore, tramp, slut by men and other women. But as Abby and I had dinner later, we talked about how our culture really pushes people into marriage, deeming it important, but marriage is just an exchange of property. Women have always been considered the property. Sexual women who don’t need to be married to have healthy, fulfilling relationships aren’t really accepted in our culture. And if we do carry out these relationships as satisfied people, we still find ourselves getting caught up in societies pressure to get married or to be the norm.

Lately, I’ve been going through this “I want to get married” stage. I feel like it’s the one last Christian trait that’s holding on for dear life. Marriage is definitely pushed by the Christian church. Alternative lifestyles or stories are discouraged and banished from the church. You can’t be say bi-sexual or transgendered without being banished from the church. Or in an open relationship. Or an ethical slut.

I’ve left the church and Christianity, though, and I’m just waiting for my mind to catch up. I’m ready to embrace some alternate paths for happiness besides marriage and babies. I’m embracing that now, in a way, but my mind hasn’t quite made the leap. There’s still the big “What will people think?” question that always stops me temporarily. It’s a struggle for me to dismiss that, but I eventually do because I’ve found it’s more important to be myself and be happy than it is to impress people I don’t give a shit about.

Lukewarm Christians and Infidels

The other day an old friend of mine posted a scripture on his Facebook wall about not being lukewarm or God will spit you out. It got me thinking quite a bit.

For starters, I was always a very “passionate” Christian. I’d hear a verse like that and do whatever I could in my power to be “hot” for Jesus (sounds kinky, right?). I didn’t like the idea of being cold for anything. That’s one of the reasons I decided to attend a year of Master’s Commission (which turned into 7). I thought it would make me a better Christian.

But, now that I’m not a Christian, what am I? Am I “hot” (read: passionate) about something else? Am I “cold”? Will God spit me out of his mouth?

How I always looked at that verse was a way to claim my superiority over another Christian. I was judgmental. Very. I was pious and perfect and looked down on anyone who failed to get it right. When I decided to follow the rules of Christianity, I excelled in following them and attending Master’s Commission only made me more cocky.

Some people call that legalistic. Some people call it fundamentalism. What’s interesting though, is that was preached to me, so I wasn’t just becoming legalistic on my own terms. I was being taught to have moral superiority over those who weren’t as passionate about God as I was.

That moral superiority carries over into other religions. Osama Bin Laden wrote a letter to the Jihadists saying that the Western world (and those who were not passionate enough as Muslims) were infidels. An infidel means one without faith. Bin Laden encouraged attacks on people who were without faith, or who didn’t have strong enough faith.

Christianity and Islam are very similar. Their holy texts call for extremism in cases like this. Yes, you can interpret the Bible or the Koran more liberally, but it’s no surprise why people interpret verses in either to claim a moral superiority over those who aren’t religious enough.

As for me, I’m not hot or cold, or lukewarm. I just no longer believe in Christianity as a powerful, righteous force.

My Date with an Agnostic

I had an interesting date with an Agnostic last night. I self identify as somewhere between Agnosticism and Atheism. I’m not a huge fan of Richard Dawkins and am okay with people celebrating different traditions and myths, as long as they don’t proselytize me.

My date asked me if I was agnostic, though, and I explained the above. Then, he asked if I thought God could be proven or disproven. “God doesn’t exist,” I said.

“Then you’re atheist.” He told me.

“I think the question of whether god exists or doesn’t is irrelevant. To me, god is a myth–something people believe in because they need to verify their sense of self, make meaning and develop a sense of community.” I explained.

“You’re definitely an atheist.”

So, maybe I’m an atheist. I’m okay with that.

We then went on to talk about how I took a turn from being a reverend to being “so extreme” on the opposite spectrum, as he put it. I told him I ask myself that all the time. I ask myself, Do I just have a capacity for extreme beliefs? Am I a zealot, no matter what my beliefs are? often.

I’m not above questioning myself and my lack of beliefs, or where they stem from. As a child, I was a member of PETA, because I love animals and they started sending me literature about the cosmetic industry testing on rabbits. The pictures were disturbing and I would tear up seeing the torture the bunnies went through just so we could wear eye shadow, or use a certain face cream. I was a member of the World Wildlife Fund first, and had a desire to be a Dian Fossey, Jr. saving mountain gorillas.

Essentially, I was an activist as a child. I was always fighting for the underdog, the abused. It’s probably normal that I went into ministry, because from the outside it seemed to line itself up with humanitarian work quite nicely and I felt I could help those who were disadvantaged and misfortunate by working with a charity group, like a church. Now that I’m not a Christian, this blog is sort of my service to those who were abused (by the Church).

In my opinion, atheism wasn’t a random choice. It’s sort of a natural progression of who I was a child, a learning from my own experiences. Trusting myself to make the best decision for myself.

The New Crooks: Why Paula White and Benny Hinn are a Perfect Couple

Earlier today I found myself reading and commenting on The Christian Post, on the article I started on was called Young Pastor Challenges Ministry Leaders to ‘Just Believe’. Despite myself, I found myself blogging about that article here and then ended up finding myself reading another article that caught my eye about Paula White, her divorce and why the IRS was investigating her ministry.

I used to like women like Paula White when I was a fundamentalist Christian reverend. I aspired to be what I naively considered at the time “being used by God.” I thought women like Paula White, Juanita Bynam and Cindy Jacobs were the good kind of powerful, and not being sucked into the whole “women are only supposed to be silent in church and raise children at home” kind of vibe I’d been taught for years.

Needless to say, I haven’t caught up on any of those women’s lives in years because I just don’t follow that crowd anymore. If we’re being honest, I just don’t like them either. I think they’re crooks and I think they take something that can be very sacred and exploit it.

So, it’s no surprise to me that Paula White was investigated by the IRS FOR NINE YEARS, got a divorce and almost quit the ministry. She did not quit the ministry though, and is back to preaching on pulpits in front of thousands blaming it all on the devil and the enemy. Oh, and telling the devil that she’s getting back her anointing and prophecy (Can you lose something like that, which isn’t really real?).

It’s all so sick to me. It’s disheartening that thousands and thousands (millions?) buy into this type of high pressure sales (in the same way I was suckered into it for years). Why else is Paula White so wealthy? We give her money!

According to the article, Sen. Charles Grassley launched a Senate probe in 2007 into six influential ministries, including White’s, following complaints of opulent spending and possible abuse of nonprofit status…Grassley had referred to Jesus’ humble entrance into Jerusalem to make the point that ministers today don’t really need Bentleys and Rolls-Royces to spread the Gospel. I COMPLETELY agree with Grassley. It turns out Paula doesn’t, “The church better recognize, it should be thanking six ministries for fighting for the body of Christ for saying ‘we are not going to let you dictate to us how we interpret Scripture’ and you can’t tell us ‘because Jesus rode in on a donkey’ because if you start telling us how to interpret Scripture in one way, you’ll tell us how to interpret it in every way,” White said in frustration.

Anyone else find it odd that when Paula is being told she’s frivolously spending and doesn’t need a Bentley or Rolls-Royce to preach the gospel that she gets frustrated and twists his words into something favorable for someone like her?

It’s Okay Not to “Know”

There are some people you’ll meet in life that just KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God, gods. They’ll convince you that they have hard evidence and proof and “experiences” to show you that there is a god.

But, really, it can’t be proved and we all know it. If there is a heaven or hell (I don’t believe there is one. I think it’s a fear tactic), wouldn’t we likely not have proof of that until we die?

Oh, yeah, except that the “bible” is the word of god breathed from his mouth?

Not likely. Most documents are drafted, edited, and rewritten; sometimes using many contributors.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.

The point of this blog post is this: it’s OKAY to not know everything about what you believe in or don’t believe in.

Say you just left a cult, like I did about five years ago. You’re probably going through a wide variety of emotions and probably rethinking virtually everything that happened there and how those people you were in the cult with treat you now.

If you’re rethinking things, that’s a good sign. It’s healthy. It means, you’re learning from your past experiences and turning it into wisdom, in my opinion.

It may take years for you to come to terms with what you do and don’t believe in. You might be more lenient and understanding toward others. You might miss the community of church, but abhor the judgmentalism that exists there.

So what if you end up an atheist at the end of your “I-don’t-know” phase? So what?! Atheists aren’t bad and they’re not baby killers. They’re “god less” but not godless.

So what if you end up Buddhist? Hmm…you may just end up to be far more moral and caring than some of us are. Not to mention more zen. 🙂

So what if you still end up going to charismatic churches? No big deal. I’m sure some of your views have changed and you’re not going to be duped or suckered anymore. Smile! 🙂 That’s good news.

What if you just don’t know and don’t care? I personally think that’s a great place to be.

Belief and spirituality (or the lack of) aren’t about labels, in my opinion. Just be who you are and surround yourself with positive people. From there…enjoy life free from worry and oppressive dogma.

 

Attacks on Planned Parenthood

Why is this even happening?

Seriously?

I can not believe we are even considering defunding Planned Parenthood in this country.

The other day, I talked to my mom about it. She’s a very conservative religious person and you guessed it: she supports the defunding of Planned Parenthood and NPR. She said, “Why should my tax dollars go to support those programs?”

She thinks they’re frivolous.

I agree with her on one thing: since she’s not poor, she pays a LOT (a LOT!) of taxes. Do I think it’s fair that she pays more taxes? No, not really.

However, this is where we disagree: I think defunding Planned Parenthood is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of. I also think the Representative who started all this business is really, really undereducated and should be voted out of office, asap.

So, people like my mom want to save money on frivolous spending? I think that’s fine. Actually, I agree that some things should be defunded. However, Planned Parenthood and NPR  should not be options.

I have a great idea for who should be defunded: religious organizations.

Take away every church’s “non-profit” status.

Make churches and pastors pay taxes.

Hmmm…there’s a statement you’ll all disagree with.

Need to save more money? Cut out all government programs to religious institutions, such as fake abortion counseling clinics who get grants to preach Jesus to people. Cut out government funding to churches all over the country.

That would save a lot of money, and it might also stop the absurdity that keeps going on and on and on, as fundamentalists marry themselves with ultra-Conservative Congresspeople.

What Will My Children Be Like?

After going through a radical shift in my own religious views and thinking, I often wonder what my own kids will be like. Honestly, I get worried that they’ll find themselves uber-involved in some fundamentalist church as a form of rebellion to me.

I know I’m pretty ahead of the game here. I don’t have kids. I’m a long way off to having them, too.

Sometimes I read The Friendly Atheist. Today, the post is called “Handling Children Who Are Not Atheists.” I think one of the main concerns any “enlightened” parent or person faces, is that we don’t want to indoctrinate others like we were once indoctrinated. We like to see other people think for themselves, and occasionally or often, think radically different from the crowd thinking.

I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life as a minister, a reverend. A large portion of my activities were geared toward indoctrinating others, or supporting groups who indoctrinated others.

I’m not a fan of indoctrinating people.

Children are just little people. They need to be taught and molded, but one day, they’re going to need to think for themselves and be good adults. How do you do that without indoctrinating them?

The Friendly Atheist quotes a book by M. Anton Mikicic called god is redundant . Mikicic says (as quoted by TFA) and I agree,

“What advice do I have for my kids? Educate yourselves! As Bertrand Russell said, “What we need is not the will to believe, but the will to find out.” I do think one of the vices of religion is it teaches you to be satisfied with not understanding.”

and

“My hope for my kids is that they’re happy and confident, free to explore the diversity of life, and to discover the things they love the most.

Those are some of my hopes for my children–education and happiness to explore the diversity of life. If my children find happiness in religion, I probably won’t be extremely happy, but I will be happy if they explore religion curiously, intelligently and with kindness.

Why I’m Not Afraid of Libel

You’ve probably heard the term slander before. You may have even heard that I’m “slandering pastors.”

 

Incorrect.

 

The correct term would be “libel.”

Libel is written word against someone else, IF it is untrue.

 

Why am I not afraid of libel? Many reasons. The first is this: nothing I write about Daniel Jones, Nathan Davies or Lloyd Zeigler is untrue. I can either verify it (because it happened to me) or I have witnesses who can verify it happened. Multiple witnesses.

 

In 1964, there was a court case called New York Times vs. Sullivan. The case extended the protection offered the press by the First Amendment. L.B. Sullivan, a police commissioner in Montgomery, Ala., had filed a libel suit against the New York Times for publishing inaccurate information about certain actions taken by the Montgomery police department. In overturning a lower court’s decision, the Supreme Court held that debate on public issues would be inhibited if public officials could sue for inaccuracies that were made by mistake. The ruling made it more difficult for public officials to bring libel charges against the press, since the official had to prove that a harmful untruth was told maliciously and with reckless disregard for truth. (Source)

 

So, they would have to prove that I told a harmful untruth (STOPPED RIGHT THERE), and that I had a malicious and reckless disregard for the truth.

 

Case closed. I continue to speak. Join me. Or let them keep intimidating people into silence.

Gay Conversion Iphone App

Do you think gays can be converted? I don’t.

But, apparently Exodus International thinks a gay person can be converted to being straight, and they even made an Iphone App: http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2011/03/controversy-over-gay-conversion-app-for.html.

The State of the Gay

At a Christian University, Harding in Arkansas, some queer students created this zine to tell their stories–the stories of gay Christians.

The college has blocked campus access to their site: www.huqueerpress.com but you can access it and share the zine.

Read it here and share your love with them here: huqueerpress@gmail.com.