“Balls are actually notoriously weak, far as parts of the body go. I mean, I could catch a wiffle ball in the crotch and double over in misery. The testicles are very sensitive and about as strong as a couple of raw quail eggs rolling around in a set of fishnet stockings. You wanna be hardcore, dang, grow a vagina. Those things are built Ford tough, man. The vagina is like the Incredible Hulk of the human form. It does all the heavy lifting. You ever see a woman give birth to a child? You see that, you’re like, “That thing could lift a burning car if it had to.” If anything, the entire scope of masculine history has been an epic attempt at trying to convince the world that the vagina is tissue paper and our balls are titanium. It’s a huge and ugly ruse.”—
After my mother died eight months ago, my dad, being all alone, went to the elders in the congregation he attended to see if he’d be allowed to visit with me. They said that since I was his son, he could visit with me at his house. But he could not discuss religion — nor could he share a meal with me at the same table. Two weeks ago, I called my dad and asked if his grandson and I could visit him. He said “yes” and even offered to make lunch. But shortly before serving the meal, he said that he wasn’t going to sit at the same table with us. When I asked why, his reply was, “The organization says so.”
So at lunchtime, Gonzalez père took his plate and situated himself with his back to two of the people in the world who he loves the most. Because his cult told him that this is God’s way.
If I look up “carrot” in the dictionary, most people will acknowledge I do not know all there is to know about carrots and if I truly want to understand carrots, I should probably pick up a horticultural text book. We know that legal and medical terms are going to be, at best, simplistically represented and know we need to find a lawyer or a doctor if we want to know more. Anyone deciding to base their argument on, say, a philosophical concept or term using the dictionary is going to be laughed at at best, or automatically lose whatever argument they’re trying to make at least.
Yet the minute we move into a social justice framework, the ultimate authority changes. We don’t need lived experience, we don’t need experts who have examined centuries of social disparities and discrimination, we don’t need societal context. We don’t need sociology or history – no, we have THE DICTIONARY! That ultimate tome of oracular insight, the last word on any debate!
It’s patently ridiculous and you can see that by applying it to any other field of knowledge. But the privileged will continually trot out simplistic, twitter-style dictionary definitions as if they are the last word and the ultimate authority. No-one would drag out the dictionary to debate science with a scientist. But they’re more than willing to trot out a dictionary definition of racism over any sociological analysis. A dictionary is not the ultimate authority - they’re a rough guide for you to discover the simple meaning of words you’ve never heard before – not an ultimate definition of what the word means and all its contexts.
“We’re all gonna die. We don’t get much say over how or when. But we do get to decide how we’re gonna live. So do it. Decide. Is this the life you wanna live? Is this the person you wanna love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out, and decide.”—Richard Webber - ‘Seal Our Fate’ (via free-wilderness)
"I see four main things in both fundamentalist and (in a slightly more sophisticated form) evangelical Christianity which I believe need to go:
1. The notion that a book can be infallible. This view is completely indefensible (despite the fact that several religions believe that their particular book is uniquely inerrant among all others). But more than that, it codifies and makes permanent the views of people from ancient cultures. It forces people in 2013 to see the world and each other the same way people saw them in 1200 BC, or 450 BC, or 45 AD (I have to list multiple dates because a book as diverse as the Bible isn’t from just one context and therefore it’s not even consistent with itself). This leads to innumerable prejudices and injustices. It convinces modern Americans, for example, to work to outlaw marriage benefits for same-sex relationships primarily because a Mediterranean tentmaker in the first century AD would likely be against such things. It leads men today to conclude that women should not be allowed to hold positions of leadership, and in some cases not allowed to work outside the home. Why not? Because a particular culture two thousand years ago believed that’s how it should be. American Christians think it’s silly for Muslim women to wear the hijab because they see it as a holdover from an earlier time and culture. But then they do the same sorts of things with the Bible. That’s just what you get when you consider a book above reproach or correction.
2. The notion that people are fundamentally bad, or weak, or that something which is now natural to them by their birth predisposes them to do bad things. Once a person is taught to believe this, they will only look at those things which confirm the idea, thus reinforcing it for themselves. But this is a pernicious and hurtful thing to teach people, and it, too, leads to innumerable injustices and offenses. It leads many Christians I know to always view themselves in the worst possible light. The songs they love to sing speak volumes about how they view themselves. The lyrics magnify personal weakness, shortcomings, failures, and neediness. Today’s evangelicalism seems to positively wallow in it. There’s something terribly unhealthy about this, and in retrospect I’m amazed I never saw it before.
Incidentally, some feel that if the doctrine of original sin were tweaked and framed in just the right way, it wouldn’t really say that we’re “fundamentally bad,” it would simply say that we’re neutral…but under the control of a malevolent presence called sin. This to me is frankly a semantic game. In the end, the effect is the same: ”You’re bad, and you should be ashamed. You are unworthy without someone else coming in and making you worthy.” Wow. Please don’t teach that to my children, or anyone else’s for that matter. What an awful thing to teach!
3. The idea that eternal conscious torment is a reasonable punishment for anyone, even the worst imaginable criminal. It’s so intrinsically horrifying that even those who believe in it make exceptions for some (like small children), not because the Bible warrants the exception, but simply because it’s such a horrifying idea. I know from my days as a Christian (remember, I’m not speaking out of school here…I was a committed Christian for twenty years) that most people who were taught to believe this wish it weren’t even a part of their doctrine. It’s embarrassingly unjust even on its face. It’s my observation that this particular belief can serve to excuse all manner of mistreatment on the part of concerned evangelicals/fundamentalists. As long as you think someone is going to Hell, anything short of that is being merciful to them, right? You’re just trying to warn them that things will be so much worse if they don’t straighten up. I believe that this particular doctrine has led many a Christian to treat others in an awful manner, and has convinced them that doing so was an act of love.
4. The notion that rationality, and critical thinking skills, cannot be trusted because see #2. These concepts fit so well together, and the net effect is to cause you to distrust any thought process which would allow you to question everything else in this list. Have doubts that an ancient book can be perfect? Well, who are you to question it? You’re just a fallen soul being led astray by (whatever). You don’t believe the concept of eternal torment is consistent with a loving, forgiving deity? That’s just because his ways are so much higher than your ways that you cannot fathom his actions. You think the story you’ve been told about how the world came to be doesn’t fit with anything science has discovered in the last 100 years? Well scientists are all fallen sinners who just wanna live the way they wanna live. You don’t have to listen to anything they say. Just believe the Bible.
This discouragement of critical thinking skills may ultimately be the worst effect of fundamentalism because those analytical skills are the very things that would expose the flaws in each of these four bad ideas. I have watched as people have had their ability to question things filed down by the repetitive and daily grinding of religious indoctrination. The evangelical “bubble” is an anti-intellectual sphere that celebrates not knowing and not understanding all manner of things in life (again, the emphasis is on our own weakness and shortcomings). This makes for docile, moldable people who will think however you tell them to think and vote however you tell them to vote (don’t think the politicians haven’t figured that one out, btw!). Surely we have not spent millions of years evolving only to begin regressing back into group think and gullibility?
Now here is where I pull back and say not all Christians buy into this kind of talk. I’m grateful to know that many have a stronger commitment to following their instincts than this. Maybe they were even taught to think like this from the time they were young, but they have too much sense now to let someone tell them this stuff anymore. Those are my allies in this culture war we are in. I’d like to see those folks stand up and admit that these things just don’t make sense, and that they lead people to behave badly towards one another (and towards themselves). These are the legacy of fundamentalism (and evangelicalism) and I have no qualms expressing my opposition to them.”
“If you point out casual racism on a regular basis, you’re going to get a lot of people whining that you’re too ‘politically correct,’ which is not a phrase that actually means anything anymore, besides saying of its speaker, ‘I am nostalgic for a time when I could be as racist as I wanted and nobody bugged me about it and thus I would like you to just shut up now you dumb person with your stupid thinky brain thoughts trying to infiltrate the hostile and unmovable lump of granite I replaced my mind with.’”—Casual Racism is Not My Spirit Animal (via timinator232)
There is a difference between those who do things in the name of God in order to achieve personal benefit and those who try to spread the Word of God. There have been misguided souls throughout history who thought they were doing the right things only to demonstrate that they misinterpreted scripture, were led astray by those who had misinterpreted scripture, or were directly influenced by the forces of satan himself. There are more “churches” and religious institutions that do evil than there are those who do good.
It’s always interesting to read how theists think atheists are made. While it’s true that some people begin their journey to atheism because of problems with the church, the thing that makes most people atheists is simply the fact that there is no reason whatever to believe in a god. The fact that no significant stories in the Bible have any evidence to support them, or that existing evidence directly contradicts the way things are portrayed in the book certainly doesn’t help. But even then, if there was any verifiable evidence that pointed to the existence of a god, this problem still would not necessarily create an atheist.
No matter how nicely the emperor speaks, no matter what version of reality the emperor tries to present, no matter how many people support and love the emperor, it still doesn’t change the fact that the emperor has no clothes.
The reason I do not tell others that their dietary lifestyle is wrong, no matter how right I think mine to be, is simple: ignorance can exaggerate it, and responsibility lies there in part. But the ones who bear the vast majority of the responsibility for the atrocities committed in the meat, dairy, and egg industries are those who knowingly take advantage of the fact that no one pays attention to what they do to capitalize off of animals.
Do I think individuals have a responsibility to know what their purchases at the supermarket support? Yes. Do I think consumers are part of the cycle that perpetuates the problem? Yes. Do I think people deserve to be blamed for harm to animals? No. Do I think telling people they are bad because of their diet solves the problems caused by animal product consumption? Absolutely not.
Because at the end of the day, life is infinitely more complicated than one choice making us a good or bad person, let alone when that choice is not always so clear. You cannot condemn people for genuine ignorance. What you can condemn people for, however, is knowingly taking advantage of gaps in (or lack of) laws that let them get away with doing whatever they want to animals so long as they make some money.
Vegans and vegetarians who patronize everyday people, your anger is misdirected and you should not be surprised when people reject you due to your holier-than-thou attitudes. You are doing nothing for your cause because you are failing to understand that the issue is not a simple matter of “make the demand for these products go down and the problem will be resolved therefore consumers you are bad if you eat animal products.” The problem comes from an institutional (i.e. governmental) acceptance of these practices, something the everyday consumer choosing to buy tofu instead of beef has little effect on.
Direct your rage at nonexistent, unenforced, and/or unjust laws. Urge senators and representatives to change the laws that allow for the abuse of animals (abuse that leads to so many more issues than just the loss of animal welfare). Get mad at institutions which protect the interests of capitalism over the interests of animals, humans, and the planet. Promote positive education surrounding human consumption of animal products and ditch the preaching because the problem, at its root, cannot be fixed by guilt-tripping individuals. You need to organise your ranks and aim for the bigger target. And you won’t get any help in doing that if you think preaching to people about how right you are is the right way to go.