It’s been a while since I did a round-up based on the “What I’m Reading” column. With work stacking up to fill out the rest of my day, now seems like as good a time as any. And there’s plenty of great stuff out there. Like this post by Aundi over at QueerCents on small towns and “big religion.” I’m planning to include it in a post I’m writing about religion and politics.
There’s a sentence in Aundi’s post that I think I’ll be returning to and quoting again and again, as I return to the topic of religion and politics, religion in politics, religious politics, political religion, etc. You can guess which one it is.
I believed, when I came out at the age of nineteen, that the afterlife was the result of willfully made decisions during one’s life, and that the unknown indeed consisted of the dichotomous halves of heaven and hell. When that unmistakable sexual attraction to a woman finally seeped into my verbal center, I was completely consumed and complete, and I was nothing less than entirely terrified. The thrill of being in love for the first time was countered with constant nausea. I believed that the decision before me was one that would impact me literally for “all of eternity.” In retrospect, it seems completely absurd that I was that person. I remember it finally clicking when a lover, who was also a poet, responded to one of my confused tirades with, “but Christianity uses such small language. There are so many bigger, better ways to explain how beautiful the world is.”
I was so relieved. Put into those terms, it was all I needed for the final budge out of the hell that was my own brain. I do believe that the Bible has some fantastic language in it. I especially like much of the poetry in the Old Testament and feel grateful for it even. The Bible was my primary literature for the first few years of my life. I think it had a formative impact on both the technical and metaphorical elements of my writing. However, modern Christianity seems to have slipped from the graces of its progenitor’s gorgeous language. It’s sleepy. It’s ugly. And it’s gray. If you know of a stunning orator who regularly gives sermons do please document them in the comments section below for others to reference. I’m sure there are exceptions. But, I think that for a world with expanding spiritual needs, the language of modern Christianity and its concurrent indoctrination practices are not enough. Big religion has made a financial plantation out of small-town/red-state America.
Keith’s post on God and the “laws of logic over at Secular Outpost will probably quoted too. That is, after I read it a couple of times to make sure that I truly understand it.
Here is the quote Taner gave from creationist Jason Lisle:
Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking. Since God is an unchanging, sovereign, immaterial Being, the laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariant entities. In other words, they are not made of matter—they apply everywhere and at all times. Laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature. And they are necessary for logical reasoning. Thus, rational reasoning would be impossible without the biblical God. The materialistic atheist can’t have laws of logic. He believes that everything that exists is material—part of the physical world. But laws of logic are not physical. You can’t stub your toe on a law of logic.
There are so many things wrong with this one short passage that it is hard to know where to begin. Let’s skip the host of philosophical questions we could put to Dr. Lisle about what he considers THE laws of logic to be, and glide over the numerous arcane debates over deviant logics, etc. Let’s consider modus ponens. Can a materialistic atheist consistently invoke modus ponens? Now, as Dr. Lisle implies, modus ponens is not a physical thing. But it is not a non-physical thing either. It is not an entity of any sort. It is a rule that can be expressed in the form of a hypothetical imperative: “If you have ‘if p, then q,’ and you have ‘p,’ then conclude q.” There is nothing at all mysterious, transcendent, or otherworldly about such a rule. It is just an instruction, an effective procedure for getting a valid inference from the given premises. A materialistic atheist in no way violates his ontological commitments by following modus ponens or affirming it as a valid rule of inference. Such an atheist would be guilty of inconsistency only if he followed Dr. Lisle in illicitly reifying the rules of inference, turning them into transcendent entities. But he doesn’t.
Allison Bowen’s AlterNet post about the billion dollar (and big failure) “abstinence-only” movement is another that I’ll probably return to in an upcoming post, since she handily catalogs the Democratic presidential candidates’ positions on the issue.
Joe Biden supports “age-appropriate” and comprehensive sex education but the Delaware senator has also voted to fund abstinence programs.
Hillary Clinton has favored abstinence-plus for a decade. In 1996 as first lady she helped launch the teen pregnancy campaign, which has a goal of reducing teen pregnancy by one-third by 2015 through comprehensive education and awareness. Ten years later, as New York senator, she introduced the Prevention First Act, which would have allocated $100 million for family planning services in an effort to curb teen pregnancy.
Chris Dodd’s Web site says the Connecticut senator is “appalled” by the Bush administration’s abstinence-only programs.
John Edwards promotes comprehensive sex education according to his Web site. The former North Carolina senator’s campaign did not return phone calls.
Mike Gravel, former senator from Alaska, said he favored comprehensive sex education in a questionnaire he returned to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights group.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is the only presidential candidate who is a co-sponsor of the Responsible Education About Life Act that emphasizes comprehensive programs.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama introduced the Communities of Color Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act of 2007 in Illinois. He respects abstinence as a choice but also advocates age-appropriate comprehensive sex education.
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson favors abstinence-plus.
You’ve probably read Pam’s post about a right-winger’s vision of the future — when the queers and the abortionists have completely taken over — but read it again. It’s almost as entertaining as The Handmaid’s Tale.
We knew “Thought Crimes” was in danger of becoming law back when it passed Congress in 2007, but thankfully, President Bush kept his promise to veto it. But, tragically, Hillary signed that most dangerous bill in America – ushering in the criminalization of Christianity. And now, even my book, “The Criminalization of Christianity,” has been banned as “hate speech” just as I predicted when I wrote it back in 2005.
When the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act” (”Thought Crimes” for the Workplace) became law, businesses and ministries were targeted by homosexual activists and were forced to close when they wouldn’t comply with a law forcing them to hire those opposed to their beliefs on moral issues.
When they canceled my program, banned my book and targeted my ministry, I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d be forced into “prison ministry” against my will. Unfortunately for our nation, that ministry is growing fast. A homeschooling mom was assigned the cell next to me. I try to comfort her, but she cries constantly at the thought of her kids being raised in government foster care.
After a brief stroll through the mind of a right-winger — which we probably all did at a dead run — let’s continue getting acquainted with diverse experiences as Holly shares what trans means to her.
I’m trans. For a while, especially when I was in the process of what they call “medical transition,” I used to identify as transsexual. When I was searching for community and commonality and a politic to link together common experiences of oppression, I started to use the word transgender more. And I’ve used words like genderqueer or “of trans experience” to describe myself too.
But mostly, I just don’t like gender. I really don’t, I wish it would stay away from me. Of course, nobody in this world has such luck. Everything is gendered.
I sometimes have conversations with friends, acquaintances and relatives who tell me (apparently because I’m trans) that they don’t really see themselves as being gendered, that gender isn’t an important part of who they are. Usually part of what they mean by this is that they don’t fit into classic stereotypes of hyper-masculinity or hyper-femininity, and don’t want to. As much as I sympathize with that, part of me still wants to scream, because everyone I’ve had this kind of conversation with is in fact, quite gendered, men and women both. Not in a stereotypical or really obvious way, but enough so that they can shake the hands of random strangers and be immediately recognized as a man or a woman; not necessarily a “traditional” one, but still. They don’t have to think about their gender because they’re taking a certain chunk of it for granted, a chunk that includes their haircut, how they’ve learned to talk and move, what kinds of clothes they wear, the name they use. They’re not allergic to all that basic gendering stuff. Not like I am.
And though the right winger in Pam’s post would never read it, I recommend Chris Crain’s post about being homo in a hetero world.
The whole thing reminds me of the time a friend was hospitalized in Atlanta after a car accident. His homophobic sister showed up, ready to shoo his gay friends out of sight, only to be informed that hospital policy only allowed a guest of the same-sex to spend the night in his hospital room. That meant his boyfriend could stay, but she had to go.
Given how often society’s rules are stacked against us, it’s hard to get too upset about a few regs that backfire.
To be fair, though, we are changing the culture, just by being out and living our lives. But we’re also being change by our lives. Those of us who have kid can relate to the reality of kids transforming gay culture.
For Atlee & Whitaker they’ve found that they spend less time venturing into the village since they’ve adopted their 8-year-old son Andrew. They’ve also found that their group of peers have changed. They spend less time with their gay single friends and more time with friends who have children, which usually ends up being heterosexual couples.
…For Jay Poitras, the pool of single men from which to choose, is becoming increasingly smaller because other single guys may now be factoring in desire to have children when seeking out a mate. While Poitras sometimes feels the urge to be a father, while spending time with younger cousins or neighbourhood children he is quick to distinguish the difference between actually wanting to be a parent and being a parent because it’s expected of you by society at large. He’s not against those gay couples who are choosing to have children, but rather feels that it’s not yet his time to have kids.
…For Wilson, the gay village is probably not the most welcoming place to raie his 3-year-old son Alex. The pair live nearby and often frequent the 519 Community Centre as well as the local shops in the area. Wilson, comments that Church Street isn’t exactly a kid friendly destination with many of the restaurants not having a kids menu and the local parks not being the most inviting. Being older, single and HIV positive, Wilson expected that he’d face a lot of hurdles in the adoption process. Fortunately, he discovered the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, which has a non-discrimination policy and treats HIV the same as any other chronic manageable illness.
Read the entire article. It’s worth it.