Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deconstructing an Image, Building and destroying

I was originally was going to title this blog post "If you really believe this crap, you should probably unfriend me." I saw this image, not for the first time, on the feed of someone I considered a friend.

I was told, also not for the first time, not to take it so seriously. I'd like to deconstruct this image and explain just why the image and the sharing of it are offensive to people you know.

I'd like to start out by saying, (because I see this EVERY.TIME someone mentions that a certain turn of phrase is offensive), that I'm certainly not saying you "can't" post this or say all you want against religion.Of course you can. I strongly support free speech, and  I have no power to stop you anyway. Aside from that, I'd rather know if you're an ignoramus who thinks that I'm going to teach your kids young Earth creationism, at best, and bomb you to Hell , at worst, because I'm a religious person, I'd like to know that. Just as you have the right to say it, I have the right to point out that you're being intolerant.

On to the image. The first thing it does is fuel the inaccurate stereotype that religion and science are necessarily at odds. Like most religious people I know, I fully accept evolution. Don't presume you can know a person's stance on science because they happen to belong to an organised religion.

The second, and perhaps worst thing it does, is paint all religious people with the same crazy hate brush. It doesn't say "religious extremists". It doesn't say " some religious people". It doesn't even say "Muslims". The wording of the image does NOTHING to tell me the creator makes any distinction between an extreme jihadist and the Catholic Worker who chains herself to a missile.

Lastly, it pays no attention to the role of people, whether religious or not, played in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. From the first responders to the people who rebuilt, it was PEOPLE. People of strong religious faith, people with strong faith that humans were their own agency, and everything in between. Those PEOPLE are the ones who did the rebuilding and they come from all paths of belief.

Now, I get that if you've had bad experiences with religious people, you may very well get a chuckle or nod your head in agreement when you see such comments. Hey, I laugh at ALL kinds of things I know are too offensive to share.But think before you post such things. Who will you be offending? Why would you even be friends with them if you feel that way about "people like them"? If it helps, mentally replace the word "religious", or a specific religion, with an ethnicity, or gay, or disabled. Would you still say it?

See also: Crazy Hate Brush


I wanted to edit this in light of a comment a friend made in regard to this post. The friend stated that "Religious people should be ashamed of the atrocities committed in the name of their religion" This is my response:

 I think it would be more useful to say religious people should be mindful of those atrocities, and that all abuses of power, whether by religious or secular authorities, should be condemned by people whether religious or secular.(And brought to light, and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and if needed, see the hierarchy changed to prevent further abuse.) While I feel horror and disgust at abuses of power, to suggest I ought to feel "shame" would be like me suggesting scientists should feel shame at how everyone from slaveowners to the Nazi party twisted science to claim some people are less human than others (while many of those people risking or losing their lives to save and liberate happened to be Christians) . I would sound silly I f I said that, wouldn't I?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Half way to getting there on his own

     This year seems to be so much about change and growth and letting go and letting my kids spread their wings. I mean, it's always like that with kids but this year is EXTRA like that for us. It's on and on.

     Earlier in the year, I started sending my daughter to the comic book store on the bus. Over the course of about 6 months I have gone from feeling sure she'll be kidnapped, raped and her body dumped into the greenery behind the bus stop to just being glad I have ONE teenager who isn't too "good" to ride the bus. Just as I get used to that....

     Turbo, 10 1/2, has tap on Tuesday nights at 5. I am finding myself leaving early with more and more frequency because I need to stop at the library, which is on the way, to print something out. Applications for Running Start and for the arts high school. The paperwork for getting a birth certificate so we can get our daughter a passport so she can go to South Korea. This week is was a transcript for the eldest, as we are taking his application in to the community college this afternoon. And as we're driving to the library, Turbo says:

"I bet if I walked from the library I could beat you to the dance school."
I try to non-committal. "I bet you could."
"Well, can I?"
     I debate on the way to the library and decide to let him. And the whole time I wait for my transcript to print, I'm imagining him kidnapped, or that I'll hear sirens and on my drive to the school see the paramedics working over his broken body because he didn't look before crossing the driveway of the Circle K. I finish my business and stop at the dance school before going on to knit night.

I'm not quite ready  to let him loose yet. But, here he is. More than halfway to adulthood.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Facebook pet peeves

We all have our own ways and reasons to use facebook ( assuming you do, that is) and our own little quirks and pet peeves.

Here are some of mine, and I'd love to see some of yours!

Spelling, grammar and punctuation. Enough said. See how I typed the whole word "enough"?

Non sequtier comments You know how when you post a picture from your birthday, and somebody comments that they have Tupperware to return to you? I have largely started ignoring those, and even deleting them. Use private messaging.

Game or app requests After I ignore the first 20, you might want to stop asking.

All political, all the time  Most of  have political opinions, and stating them a few times a year is certainly socially acceptable. But make it daily, or multiple times a day, or make it about demonizing the "other" side, and I'm likely to hide all your posts.

Not fact checking This applies to politics and a variety of other subjects. Before you hit share, visit Snopes (unless you're talking about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. Then post all the unsubstantiated rumours you want)

Religious intolerance This one flows all ways Intolerant of the religious? Not cool. Intolerant on the basis of a particular religion? Also not cool. Proselytising with your posts, taking advantage of tragedy to try to put the fear of Hell into the Heathens? So very very very not cool. If a religious leader does something heinous, they should be called on it, but will you then turn around and share a story of a church feeding the hungry, or a pastor advocating for gay rights? If you want your  religion respected, will will you extend the same to those with a different or no religion?

All or nothing statements These could gain hearken back to politics or religion, but also encompass anything from parenting to eating styles. Once you start framing your opinions in terms of "Anyone who doesn't agree with me is a brain dead sociopath", you're getting a bit offensive. (Exceptions: see; Doctor Who)

These are just mine; I'm sure you have different ones, especially if you're a hardcore political activist who plays Farmville? What are yours? I'd love to put together a blog link round up of your personal facebook rules.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Three Lenten Giving Challenges

Earlier in the week, I wrote on giving and not giving things up for Lent.  Friday, I was able to take part in a Huffington Post Religion tweet-along regarding this practice. Today, I'd like to share three challenges for the coming weeks for those who have given something up for Lent. While I will be including Bible verses for each of these challenges, anyone can join in.

Giving up on those clothes you never wear Lent, or spring cleaning, or any number of events can inspire you to look through your closet with a discerning, honest eye and choose to share some of that excess with someone in true need. Be kind, too. Don't just get rid of stuff in poor shape, and make any simple repairs before donating. (I sewed up a hole in a hoodie before donating; rally sewed it, not outsourced to my daughter!) Especially look through your coat closet.

John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Luke 3:11; NIV

If you gave up sweets, meat, or any other food, spend the money you are saving to give to your local food bank. 
 Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

If you gave up soda, alcohol, or another drink, donate the money you're saving to provide clean drinking water to those who have none.

Matthew 25:35 for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in.

Friday, February 15, 2013

To the girls: I've figured out a few things about body image

Late winter and early spring are a time I take a more intense than usual hit to the body image. We have the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, moving through to Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. Due to the way weddings and births fall out in our family, I feel like I've just gotten back to my base state after all that when early February hits and I'm faced with out anniversary, our daughter's birthday, Valentine's Day, and Fasnacht Day (Fat Tuesday). Last Friday, after a week of celebrating and not weighing myself, I stepped on the scale after my workout, and the words that came out under my breath will not be repeated here. Seriously, I might lose my job if I shared what I said here.
It was that bad, what I said and why I said it. 7 pounds in one short week!

The first thing I thought was, "Time to get back on the bandwagon, self!"

My next thought was, " I can't share on facebook how crappy this weight makes me feel, because I have way too many teenage girls on my friends list and I'm a youth advisor, so I have to set a good example."

Then I asked myself how much attention any of those teenage girls, or indeed, anyone, actually pays to me.

So I have spent the last week thinking about what I've managed to figure out about body image. I'm fairly fir and have had no more than the almost obligatory flirting with eating disorders, so I must have figured out *something* .

It's OK to vainly worry about how you look. This encompasses the whole enchilada: weight, hair, clothes, etc. There's a thread running through several cultures: feminist, religious, crunchy; that if you're vain, you're somehow emotionally stunted. Guess what: I'm all of the above, and I'm vain. Live with it. However:

It's not OK to judge others for not adhering to your standards of beauty. Size, clothing style, hairstyle, makeup, tattoos, piercings.... these are all choices people should be free to make, in line with what makes *them* feel good. Minimalist style with no make up, body art with skillful eyes, and everything in between: all valid. There's a bit of a caveat, in that people should know how NOT to dress in certain situations and places,  and I am personally the world's biggest fan on hygiene. Parents, if you make no effort to teach your children that showing up for a job interview in sweat, un-showered, and with matted hair is *not* acceptable have dropped that ball.

It's also not OK to do crazy things to fit a number  Eat real food, exercise some every day , and think twice before you drink calories. That's common sense, and with patience can get you to those goals. Keep in  mind, you goal can just be feeling healthy and energetic. It doesn't have to involve a particular weight or pants size. From time to time I try silly shortcuts   to try and lose an extra 5 pounds , but they never seem to work. No we probably won't hurt ourselves trying some crazy detox water we saw on pinterest. But starvation diets, week long fasts, and anything else like that will either end up causing physical damage or have you face down in a plate of mashed potatoes a day and a half in, feeling fat and like a failure.

So girls, if you're reading this, here's what I say. If you are happier moving through your day covering the bases of being clean and wearing clean clothes, that's awesome. If you spend an hour getting ready for your day, that's awesome. Because it makes YOU happy. Be happy in yourself. Really, not feeling like crap helps with this. Grab an apple and go on a walk.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On giving, or not giving,something up for Lent

The question of the day, mainly among Christians, but also among some non-Christians is, "What are you giving up for Lent?""

For years, this was an easy answer. I followed my grandmother's example of giving up chocolate for Lent. It was an easy answer that nonetheless felt like a real sacrifice.

Tow things happened to change that: I got married, and we had our first child. Both these gentlemen managed to have birthdays that fall during Lent. Give up celebrating family birthdays? No way.
For the same reason, giving up sweets didn't fly.

Over the years, I have given up more than one thing: coffee drinks ( the fancy kind, not all coffee), giving up meat, giving up any number of things. Eventually, I admitted that it was a meaningless gesture for *me*. At one point in all of this, one of our pastors gave a message on the idea of adding a spiritual practice for Lent rather than giving something up. This works so much better for me, and is helped along by the devotional guides and extra services our church provides.
Now, giving something up for Lent IS a very enriching experience for many people. For many Christians, it's a true sacrifice given to God. For others; Christian, non-Christian, and marginally Christian, Lent seems to be taken as an opportunity  to make behavioral  changes: giving up smoking, drinking, or soda, for example, the the hopes of keeping up with it after Easter.
I even made this joking post today about Lenten sacrifice:
Fellow Pinners, it looks like either my computer and/or teh interwebz has decided I should give up Pinterest for Lent. I really don't believe in "signs" but coming when it has, I think I will take it as one and attempt to get back to the pinning after Easter. I'm sure I'll use the extra hour or so a day in either charitable or spiritual activities.
That said, I will kind of give a few things up this Lent. I will give up getting drinks in disposable cups (which will force me to THINK about wanting a drink anywhere ; I actually did a whole year where I did not get a coffee or tea drink if I had to use a throw-away cup. I found my habits changed for years afterward, but in the last year I've been slipping).
I will give up on the clothing in my closets that I really have to admit I will never wear, and give it to the clothing bank.
I will give up on expecting perfection in the childrens' schoolwork, and focus on what matters. Getting every single math problem right is NOT the goal ( although understanding that Marc Chagal left Germany to flee the Nazis *IS*)
Perhaps most importantly, I will recommit myself every day to not letting a temporary frustration allow me to cause permanent hurt to another.