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The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

A letter to those who do not support gay marriage: July 28, 2012

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the Chik-fil-A controversy. I’ve been embroiled in more than my fair share of battles on Facebook over it, believe me. In the end, the excuses make me angrier than the intolerance. If you are going to strike out against a group of people, own up to it. Here’s my message to those who ‘hate the sin and love the sinner’.

Too often, I see people say they don’t support gay marriage but have no problem with gay people. “It’s not discrimination,” they argue. “I just believe marriage is sacred”, etc.
Fine. In your religion it’s sacred. However, marriage is also a legal institution with real world applications, and denying a couple marriage is going to have real world consequences.
It can lead to legal, financial, property, and custody tangles. It can lead to partners of decades not being able to hold their loved one’s hand when they’re hurt because they’re not registered as ‘family’. It can lead to one partner dying because they can’t be treated under their partner’s health insurance because they’re not married.
It can also lead to that awkward catch in the throat when you say “partner” instead of “husband/wife” because no one will let you earn that title. The pang when someone asks “Are you married?” and you have to say “No.” The belief that your relationship is less real, less valid, because you don’t have the right to wear a band of gold on your finger and sign a piece of paper because of what’s written in your chromosomes.
Let’s get this straight. These ‘harmless comments’ you make about homosexuality being wrong or gross or sickening or wicked…. they can see it. Friends, family, coworkers…. you don’t know who your words can hurt.

LGBT people all over have killed themselves because they feel completely alone in a culture you help create. Others are attacked, abused, or even killed by family or strangers because of who they love. Your hands may not have been on that bat, and your finger may not have been on that trigger, but you contributed all the same. It’s not far to go from ‘wrong’ and ‘wicked’ to ‘must be punished’. And then some people have the gall to say it’s the victim’s fault.

People keep justifying stuff to me with religion. We’ll see when He comes back, they say. They say it’s in the Bible, a ticket to heaven or hell, a sin, some stain on your soul that won’t come out.
I’m an atheist, ok? I don’t see god or sins or souls or heaven or hell. What I see is people hurting people when they don’t have to, and in my wacky godless morality, that’s wrong.

Your beliefs are your beliefs. Justify them as you will. I accept that you consider them valid and you do not anticipate their change. Just don’t tell me that you’re not hurting anyone. You’re hurting a lot of people. Your opinion sways politicians, and your vote may even come into play. When it does, you are affecting people’s lives, and you are not doing it for the better.

These views feed into a culture where gays are seen as sub-human and less valuable. It promotes an atmosphere where things like this can happen: http://loobypls.tumblr.com/post/27815060532/today-my-hometown-was-struck-by-a-disgusting

and people don’t care. It shows that we consider a group of people less than, not as good, below, not important. It shows that we find our own comfort and the knowledge that our religious convictions are being upheld more important than the dignity, livelihood, happiness, and in some cases well-being of our fellow human beings, who may not share those convictions. It shows that you in some way, whether you acknowledge it consciously or not, think you are better. Better. Armed with a book and a god who may or may not exist, you are ready to step on the rights and happiness of other human beings. So do so, and I hope you sleep well at night. But I will be there to speak out and say it’s not ok.

 

My pastor doesn’t like me July 10, 2012

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 10:38 AM
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Calling him ‘my’ pastor is a stretch, really. He works at the church my parents attend, but I stopped going years ago. Now I’m only dragged there for special events like Christmas, when we stay up late and have our minds choked with incense.

Whoever’s pastor he is, he doesn’t like me. Doesn’t like the idea of me. That’s the thing – when you attack a group of people, you attack the group’s members. I happen to be among his targets.

A few years back, while I still reluctantly attended services, I tuned into the sermon long enough to hear that “atheists are idiots who write trash”. I didn’t hear if he went on in a similar vein, because my mother called me away for a pep talk that boiled down to our priest being an ass. I stored the quote in my memory and used it as a powerful weapon in my campaign to break away. “What good does it do me,” I asked, “to go to church and listen to the priest say how much I suck? It’s not my idea of a great time.”

Not long ago, I learned that atheists had once again reared their heathenish heads in the weekly sermon. Apparently, the world is a void to them. “When they look outside themselves, they see themselves.”

I was rather alarmed, because I had not received this bulletin from the atheist hive mind. In fact, I associated the second criterion more with narcissism. But what do I know? The priest must be right.

Strangely enough, it’s a common practice for people to make certain statements about groups (or anything) that they know little or nothing about.  I don’t think ‘our’ priest is even aware that I belong to the trashy, void-dwelling community. When most people make sweeping statements about ‘others’, they typically don’t stop to think of who it’ll apply to. Friends. Acquaintances. People passing on the street. It’s not much fun to hear people pass judgement on you without having any idea who you are.

It reminds me of fun times moderating a forum. (I may have mentioned this before.) A poster said that they found gay people disturbing and “kind of gross”. I reminded them that there were gay people present in the online community and they could have been offended. The poster was genuinely surprised and said they hadn’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. To this I replied, “You forgot gay people could read?”

I could ramble on and on, but I think you get the point. Sorry for the trash. 😉

 

Blogging the Bible: Exodus 16-20 January 15, 2012

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 10:51 AM
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16: The Israelites wander around in the desert, slowly starving. In response, God makes bread rain from the heavens, giving them enough to eat. If God can create food from nothing, why are people starving? He feeds them with this manna for forty years. That’s a long time to wander in the desert. I wonder how many Israelites didn’t make it through.

17: Next, they complain about water. I would have thought that water would have trumped bread, but apparently not. Moses summons water from a rock, which I remember from that illustrated Bible I used to have. A random guy named Amalek shows up, but they fight and defeat him. This plot line is harder to follow than Grey’s Anatomy.

19: Nothing interesting has happened for a while. God says he’ll come down in a cloud upon Mount Sinai, so Moses begins to prepare. He tells everyone that if a human or animal touches the mountain, they’ll be stoned or shot with arrows. Nice. Also, to keep everyone pure, he instructs them to “not go near a woman”. I wonder what the women are supposed to do. There’s a big dramatic noise and spout of fire, and God arrives.

20: God delivers the Ten Commandments. You know, THE Ten Commandments. The things that pop up on courtroom walls, and are lauded as the most important moral guidelines of the civilized world. Let’s take a look.

1. Don’t worship anyone else. The paranoia’s showing through a little here. After all, if they’re worshipping someone else, they’re probably not paying any attention to these commandments.

2. Don’t make idols, “for I am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me”. At least he admits it.

3. Don’t take his name in vain. I guess everyone who says “Oh my God” is going to hell.

4. Don’t do anything on Sunday. I can live with that.

5. Honor your parents.

6. – 10. Don’t murder, cheat, steal, lie, or covet things. All very nice, although good luck not coveting. However, it seems that multiple Christians have botched some of these up. Crusades, anyone? Heck, God screws up the murder one all the time. Perhaps he ought to sign a version of the Magna Carta. No one should be above the law.

 

 

 

 

Blogging the Bible: Exodus 9-15 January 8, 2012

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 10:33 AM
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I haven’t done this in ages. But now I’m back and ready for some plague-y fun.

So my last post title lied. I only got through section 8. So we’re starting with section 9, and I’ll see how far I get until this post is ridiculously long.

9: God’s next plague kills all the livestock in Egypt – specifically, those of the Egyptians. For once, he spares the Israelites from his punishments. However, God seems content to punish innocent animals for the humans’ errors. Not cool. If he can reach into human emotion and ‘harden Pharaoh’s heart’, why can’t he soften it and let them go? I think he’s on some power trip – trying to completely cow Egypt and show them who’s boss, no matter how many people get hurt. This sounds like plenty of villains. Marvelous.

Next come boils, and God finally admits his grand plan. “I have let you live: to show you my power, and to make my name resound through all the earth.” He’s prolonging the suffering of Israelites, Egyptians, and animals alike for that? You’d think an omnipotent deity wouldn’t have such insecurity issues.

God adds in a deadly hail/fire combo, killing many people. What’s interesting is that Moses summons all of these plagues, showing absolutely no remorse. Most likely, plenty of the Egyptians would love to let him go. Pharaoh is the one standing in his way. Yet all of these plagues are hurting the regular Egyptians. Pharaoh probably has attendants protecting him from frogs and flies, and he has the wealth to buy water and cover livestock losses. The big bad is the one who’s least affected. Yet Moses doesn’t seem to mind destroying an entire country and murdering its inhabitants. I was ok with him, too. That so figures. Is there anyone in this book who isn’t a jerk?

10: God starts giggling like a little kid who pulled off a trick. He tells Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heat and the hearts of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them – so that you may know that I am the Lord.” Uh… yeah. I’m not even going to tackle this one. Let’s just say that there’s a reason that Abrahamic God makes the list of ‘Jerkass God’ tropes on tvtropes.org.

Locusts desecrate the land. Then darkness falls upon Egypt. Every time, Pharaoh says he’s changed his mind, then changes it back. I think he’s split personality.

11: God brings one last plague upon Egypt – the worst of them all. God plans to kill every Egyptian firstborn – from Pharaoh’s to the slaves’ to animals’, and there’s no way to avoid it. God says he’ll harden Pharaoh’s heart once more “in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

Does Moses say “Wait a minute”? Does he question the fairness of punishing the entire country and killing innocent children because of some petty deity’s plot? Does he suggest that there must be SOME line they shouldn’t cross, even if they want their freedom?

Of course not. Moses is a good little follower now. He doesn’t seem to care about the devastation he leaves behind.

12: Passover originates from this passage. Each Israelite family kills a lamb and paints its blood over their doorways, so God’s deadly rampage will pass over them. It works, and “there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” Finally Pharaoh relents, and sends the Israelites away.

13: Once the Israelites leave Egypt, God starts setting a bunch of ground rules. However, he doesn’t warn any of them that he’s planning on reverting to Jerkass mode yet again. You just wait. It’s about to get lovely.

14: God (apparently talking to himself) says “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will pursue them so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” Uh huh. Forget whoever might die in the attempt. God likes to play Risk, bossing everyone around and making them fight for his amusement.

The army pursues the Israelites, who are righteously pissed, telling Moses he led them from a decent life to certain death. Then we have the famous parting-the-sea story, and God wipes out most of the Egyptian army. Yay. Good for him. Can I be done now? Who the heck would worship this guy? He sounds like a total sadist.

15: Moses and the Israelites, cheerful after mass slaughter, sing a song to God. Honestly, I skimmed it. This is making me sick, and I am so done with the Bible for the week.

 

Blogging the Bible: Exodus 5-10 December 18, 2011

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 11:45 AM
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We left off with Moses being instructed by a flaming shrub to become a revolutionary. So far I like Moses. However, I’m not holding out on liking him for much longer. More on that later. This is rather off topic, but I’m honestly curious. After a terrible disaster, you’ll often hear people say something along the lines of “God saved me/decided to spare me/had other plans for me.” Does that imply that God intentionally killed off/let other people die? Cold. And these people believe that God must love them better than the innocent families that were obliterated by the same disaster? Nice. Moving on.

5: Moses runs off to Pharaoh and explains that God wants him to let the Israelites go. Pharaoh retorts that he doesn’t know this god, and that they need to get back to work. Indeed, he gives them harder work to punish them for their small act of defiance. Moses gets a little snippy with God, saying, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.” So far I’m still liking Moses. He’s not afraid to call God out for not exactly fulfilling his promise.

6: God again promises to free the Israelites, but the Israelites are so sick and tired of being mistreated that they don’t believe him anymore. They’re tired of empty promises, and the last one just made things worse.

7: God instructs Moses to speak to Pharaoh again with Aaron as his eloquent sidekick. Now things get confusing. God says, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. ” Wait a second… Pharaoh might have let them go? But God made Pharaoh more stubborn so he wouldn’t do the very thing God told Moses to ask him to do? This makes less sense than Pedro Paramo. I think God is just really bored or something, and entertains himself/itself by playing with people’s minds.

Apparently Moses is 80 now. Time sure flies when you’re being oppressed. I guess a wizened old man threatening Pharaoh with dire consequences isn’t really imposing. However, Aaron transforms his staff into a snake to prove that he has God on his side. Pharoah’s magicians do the same, although Aaron’s staff eats their snakes. So Egyptians can do magic too… is this acknowledging the Egyptian gods as sources of divine power as well? I wish it would explain how they did it beyond ‘secret arts’. Maybe there’s some god civil war, and God prompted Moses to do this so he could prove he can beat Ra, Isis, and all their gang.

Moses then turns the water of the Nile into blood, which is just gross. All the water in Egypt then turns into blood. This is a little bit of a problem. I don’t think they thought it through. Egypt is a very dry climate, and people need water to survive, yes? The Israelites are currently trapped in Egypt, right? See where I’m going with this? Every plague they release onto the whole of Egypt is going to blow up in their faces. Nice.

After everything becomes blood, “the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts.” I thought everything was already blood. What did they do, turn the blood bloodier? Either way, Pharaoh still refuses to do anything, and a whole week passes.

8: God’s next plague takes the form of an infestation of frogs. Aaron stretches his hands over the waters of Egypt, and frogs come out. Except I thought that all the waters turned to blood, so all aquatic creatures died. Strange. Then “The magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts,a nd brought frogs up on the land of Egypt.” I’m not really understanding their thought process:

Pharaoh: That nasty slave infested our country with frogs. It’s so annoying.

Magician: Oh, that’s no big deal. We can do that too. See? *summons vast amount of frogs*

Pharaoh: Oh, that’s very nice. Now we have more frogs. Brilliant.

These plagues aren’t really in great order. Turning water into blood is very ominous and creepy, with the side effect of making everyone super thirsty. Frogs are just… frogs. Who says ‘Cower beneath  my terrible onslaught of amphibians!’ No one. Are the plagues going to keep getting lamer?

Pharaoh disagrees with me. The blood didn’t faze him, but he calls Moses in and promises he’ll let the people go if he only stops the frogs. Moses agrees, and convinces the Lord to remove the frogs. God does this by killing them all, so everyone gets to deal with their stinking corpses. Humane treatment of animals, anyone? However, once the frogs are gone, Pharaoh decides not to let the people go.

God continues his theme of summoning annoying but non-deadly animals, having Aaron bring about a swarm of gnats. The magicians cannot duplicate this feat, and tell Pharaoh it is indeed the work of God. After a long time being attacked by flies, while the Israelites are left alone, Pharaoh agrees to let the Israelites go off to sacrifice if they don’t go very far away. See, I didn’t mention this before, but Moses never said, “Hey, I want you to let us go forever.” All he wanted was a short break so they could all wander off and perform a sacrifice to their God. Naturally, once they’d escaped slavery, I seriously doubt they would have come back, which Pharaoh obviously caught on to, since he’s so reluctant to grant them vacation.

Moses removes the flies, but again Pharaoh changes his mind. I was planning to do a lot more this week, but this post is 1000 words long, and I think that’s quite enough. So far, Exodus is much more interesting. See you next time.

 

Blogging the Bible: Exodus 1-4 December 11, 2011

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 10:59 AM
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Yes! We’re done with Genesis! Now I just have… the rest of the Bible left. This is going to take a while, isn’t it?

These chapters or whatever you call them are longer than the ones back in Genesis, so I may not read ten. We’ll see how it goes.

1: Jacob has seventy children. That’s just… gross. I feel bad for his wives. A new ruler of Egypt arises who doesn’t like this Israelite infestation. He then enslaves them, afraid that the large number of Israelites will overpower him. To keep their numbers down, it’s ordered that all newborn boys must be killed. (Because a girl could never lead a successful rebellion (*coughJoanofArccough*).

2: One woman has a child and hides him, until she’s no longer able to. Then she places him in a basket and sets him in some reeds by the river. I fail to see how this is a good plan. Sure, it turns out well, but ordinarily, you’d just be setting your baby up to either starve to death, be devoured by wild animals, or found by Egyptian soldiers and killed. Brilliant.

Luckily, the Pharaoh’s daughter sees the child and takes pity on him. She actually brings in the kid’s real mother to take care of him, although she becomes his foster-mother. The child is named Moses.

Moses grows up in the Pharaoh’s household, but one day sees an Egyptian beating an Israelite and kills him. Pharaoh hears of this and wants him dead, so Moses flees. It’s strange to me that Moses, after being brought up Egyptian, immediately sides with an Israelite. Besides, if he’s favored in the Pharaoh’s household, why couldn’t he just order the Egyptian to stop? Killing him seems excessive. But no matter…

Moses becomes a shepherd while in exile, and meets and marries a girl named Zipporah. He’s content for a while, until the Pharaoh dies and the Israelites cry out for help. “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them.” That part just seems unintentionally funny to me. I imagine God glancing over and saying, “Oops. I let those people I was supposed to protect get enslaved and tortured. Guess I hadn’t checked in on them in a while. The time sure flies.” I thought he was omnipresent?

3: Moses is tending his flock and then sees a random bush on fire. Naturally, he goes to check it out, and the voice of God comes out of the bush. “Moses! Moses!”

Now, if it was me, and I heard a flaming bush calling my name, I’d either assume I’d eaten bad mushrooms or that there was a crazy pyromaniac hiding behind the bush ready to set me on fire too. However, Moses is a more trusting individual, and replies “Here I am.”

The bush – who is God, although I have no clue why God desires to appear in the guise of a flaming bush – instructs Moses to deliver the Israelites from suffering. He promises to be with Moses and help him with his task.

4: Moses protests, wondering what he should do if people doubt that God appeared to him. This is a fair question, since if I went up to the president and told him to free all the prisoners in Guantanamo because a bush told me so, I’d probably be institutionalized. I like Moses. He’s not afraid to chat with flaming bush-God, instead of just bowing in reverence and promising to do whatever he orders, no matter how stupid it sounds. God then gives Moses’ staff the ability to turn into a snake as proof of his power. Why is a snake proof of God? I thought he didn’t like snakes. Whatever. God also gives Moses the power to cause leprosy, or turn water into blood. He argues a bit more, until God gets fed up with him and sends him off.

Now I’m confused. Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, but I think it says that while Moses is traveling to Egypt, God tries to kill him. I thought he’d just prepped him for taking over Egypt. This is odd. However, Zipporah circumcises her son and touches Moses’ feet with the blood, so God leaves Moses alone. This is very strange. Perhaps an allusion to the later angel of death scene?

This post has gotten long enough, so I’m done for the day. So far, I like Moses better than Abraham. I’ll still holding out, though, until I see whether he feels bad about killing all the innocent kids in Egypt. He’d better.

 

Blogging the Bible: Genesis 47-50 December 4, 2011

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 12:20 PM
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It’ll be a short post this week, because I’m finally done with Genesis! Just a million and a half sections to go.

I’m working on my Extended Essay, discussing archetypes in various religions, and I can’t help but notice a few scattered here and there. Lots of the Biblical stories echo earlier myths I’ve read elsewhere. I think I’ve already discussed the tree one, but think about Lot. They’re told not to look back, his wife does, and she turns to a pillar of salt.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Orpheus? He attempted to retrieve his wife from the underworld, but looked back and she was lost to him forever. A similar thing happened to Izanagi and Izanami, two Japanese gods. I believe there’s also a Native American legend – I don’t recall which tribe – where a chief trys to lead his wife out of the spirit world through a deep canyon path. He looks back, and the canyon shuts, barring the way to the world of the dead forever.

The point is, many Biblical stories have simply altered earlier myths to suit their needs. It’s interesting, and I suppose it makes sense. Christianity ballooned outward, picking up influences as it went. Of course, did it reach Japan before the Bible was written? Probably not, although Carl Jung has an explanation as to why those stories are similar…

But moving on. Let’s look at the Bible.

47: Joseph introduces his relatives to Pharaoh, who welcomes them. This is kind of odd, since I recall the whole evil Pharaoh bit in Exodus. Perhaps this is a different guy. Joseph holds all the food, and starving Egyptians sell their land and finally themselves for food. Poor things.

48: Jacob is ill, and blesses his son. He also blesses his grandchildren, favoring the younger brother. Joseph is displeased by this, which is ironic. Wasn’t he the one who lorded over his older brothers?

49: These sections are fairly brief, which is nice. Jacob assembles his sons and tells all of them their futures, speaking in poetry. He’s a little harsh to some of them, but they don’t seem to mind. Apparently his twelve sons represent the twelve tribes of Irael, and these stanzas describe each tribes’ histories. Then – finally, after announcing he was dying over and over – Jacob dies.

50: The Egyptians embalm Jacob, so he’s a mummy now. Cool. The old man is buried, and Joseph’s brothers worry he’ll be angry with them. However, their younger brother forgives them, and then he dies. That was quick. The time sure passes when you’re having fun… or ruling in Egypt, or whatever.