crazy

A friend of mine started a bible study group on FB. He invited some mormons, some liberal christians, some literal-bible christians, some catholics and me, an atheist. It’s interesting times so far. Today, as a prompt, he requested we post some of our favorite verses from the OT (nothing from Psalms, though, that’s “too easy.”). I chose Genesis 19:3-8. I like it for two reasons:
  1. Right there, in black and white, it clearly states that the offense of Soddom was not gay sex. The offense was rape of Lot’s guests. Seriously. Lot even offers his virgin daughter to the gang of rapists in an attempt to placate them and protect his guests.
  2. This is one (of many, many, many) examples of the type of scripture that left a bad taste in my mouth as a teenager. I hated that there were no strong female role models. I hated that scriptures sidelined and marginalized women, treating them like disposable property (look at the story of Rachel and Leah for another example of this).
It’s an uncomfortable verse. It’s one that you either have to ignore, or you have to actually address what’s going on. It’s the type of writing that makes you examine yourself, your morals, your beliefs. It’s the type of verse that makes a literal interpretation of the bible appalling, and forces you to realize that even if you accept the bible as god’s word (which I did for many years), you have to accept it as such on the contingency that it is open to continual interpretation — and some of the people translating/ writing/ interpreting it had political and social motivations that they wanted validated through the bible.
But my friend said I was being mean by choosing that verse. So I went back to biblegateway.com and began searching for a verse. First I was thinking Mark 10:24-26, but that’s NT. Then I thought Esther, then Rachel and Leah, then Eve . . . but each of these stories are full of heartbreak and atrocities. So then I began just randomly searching for neutral or happy words: “love,” “grass,” “light,” “sun,” “peace,” “learn.” I wanted to find an uplifting bit, something that advocated learning and contentment and joy. With Psalms off the table, I very quickly realized that there is nothing like that in the OT. The few lines I found that appeared to be uplifting were, in context, not uplifting at all. They were surrounded by death and blood and rape and misery and torture and loss.
It makes me sad that people look to this book as a viable means of spiritual fulfillment.

non-mormony-stuff

I love my family. I need to make this really, really clear, because I simply adore my family. On my path to non-mormonism, I’ve read many, many heartbreaking stories about families who are torn apart when one person leaves the faith. I’ve read painful accounts of children who struggled with their non-belief or sexuality, and whose families were not a bulwalk and a support to them, but who shunned them and cut them off. So I just want to say, loud and clear:

I LOVE MY FAMILY.

My siblings say I can be a bit too militant in my atheist, pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-choice views. They tell me I’m sometimes a little off-putting. And I love that they tell me that. I love that they don’t slip away silently and ignore me, but that they call me out on it. I love that they accept my atheism, and all they ask in return is that I accept their personal relationship with faith and god — which I do.

Today I called my dad. My little sister is coming to visit on Monday, and since she’s a brand-spanking-new RM, I may in the course of conversation have to point out that I’m not simply jack-mormon, I am apostate. I have had my name taken off the church rolls. In preparation of the possibility of this coming out, I called my dad, since he deserves to hear it from me and not second-hand.

Now, I admit I’ve had political and religious disagreements with my dad. I admit I’ve expressed disappointment in his views. But I just really need to say: I have an awesome dad. You know what his reaction was when I told him I had my name taken off the membership rolls? He laughed. He laughed and said teasingly and with faux shock, “You mean you don’t believe in the church?!?”

After a short discussion, he said, “Well, I am sorry to hear that, but I’m glad you told me. And I just want to ask one thing: If you do decide to get re-baptized, let me do it.”

Of course I said, “I will, dad,” and dad laughed again. I think it may have to do with my naturally sarcastic tone of voice. I’ve been teased about that in the past. But I was serious — in the unlikely event I ever do decide to ignore everything I’ve learned and get re-baptized, I will call my dad.

I love my family.

eenie meenie miney mo

I read this article over at Lifehacker. Basically, it says that the more choices we have when making a decision, the more difficult the decision appears to be, so we instinctively assign more weight to the decision — which is why (apparently) people can occasionally find themselves in the store aisle trying to decide between toothpaste or cat food brands for 20 minutes.

I don’t do that. I have two methods for making up my mind when it comes to everyday purchasing decisions.

  1. Food/ drinks/ candy: Look at the unit price, buy the one with the lower unit price.
  2. Everything else: Either buy the one I’ve researched before coming to the store, or look at the two I’m torn between and rattle off, “Eenie meenie miney mo, catch a tiger by it’s toe, if it hollers let it go, and you are not it.” Sometimes I’ll add, “My mother said to pick the very best one and you are not it.”
The beauty of the eenie meenie miney mo method is that since it’s a stupid rhyme and I’m an adult who can make up my own damn mind, the moment I finish the rhyme I know which item I really want. If I’m pleased, I’m like yay! And I buy it. If I’m disappointed, I’m like, “Oh, hey, so I really wanted the other one.” And I get it.
I think they must be over-exaggerating in that article. I can’t imagine anyone standing around for even 5 minutes trying to decide if they should get Crest or Colgate. That’s just . . . sad.

blah blah blah

This was originally posted on March 5, 2011. I was reformatting it for this blog platform and decided to add pictures and shit, too. 
I just found a blog through stumbleupon called People I No Longer Talk To. Halfway through the first entry, I started thinking about people I no longer talk to, and why. See, I’ve always had a very hard time maintaining friendships. Not making friends, maintaining them. My sil has friends she made in kindergarten, which baffles me. It’s been about 7 years since the last time I spoke (in passing) to someone I knew in kindergarten. I don’t know what it is. People grow and change, I guess. I realize my former friends fall into a few broad categories:

I don’t know these women in particular, but they look like the quintessential molly mormons, all matching and shiny.

Mormons:
I still have some mormon friends. More on an acquaintance basis. Of course, I’m still friends with my family. But by and large, the mormons I knew and interacted with growing up are completely out of my life. I’m open to talking to them; they’re good people. I’ve friended (and subsequently unfriended/ been unfriended) a few on FB. We just don’t click anymore. Few reasons:
  1. Mormons, by and large, are uncomfortable questioning or associating with those who question the faith. I do that. They don’t like that.
  2. I smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. Also swear. I limit the swearing around my LDS friends, and I always smoke outside (and never at their house), but it’s still upsetting to them if we out to eat and I order a coffee with my meal, or we go on a walk and stop to buy drinks and I buy an iced coffee. Or if they see my smokes, or I buy smokes while we’re out — even if I don’t smoke in their company. They get this kind of long-suffering frustrated silence, which is still preferable to an outright lecture (that happens, too).
  3. I, on the other hand, feel frustrated that they can’t accept me as I am, especially when I’m making an effort (not actually smoking around them, not swearing) to show respect to them. Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this sort of judgment as so par-for-the-course with mormons that I’ve begun to avoid meeting up/ hanging out with mormon friends due to a desire to avoid the frustrated silence and/or lecture.

Various stoners/ regular social drinkers:

I had a lot of stoner/ party friends in high school. A lot. They were cool at the time, but after I left high school, it got real old real fast. I have nothing against stoners or drinking, but certain factors have initiated distance between us:

  1. I find adults who rely on mood-altering substances (like alcohol or pot) for a good time, or indulge in them to excess more than, say, once or twice a month, pretty disturbing. It seems essentially unhealthy to rely on something that changes the essence of your personality, as though you can’t handle reality. This may also be because I only ever get stoned or blind drunk when I’m miserably, suicidally unhappy. I’ve been in the aforementioned state a total of 3 times in the past 10 years. Really not a fan of it.
  2. People who still see the highlight of their day/week as toking up and getting completely stoned (or getting blitzed/ drunk) are boring. It’s just no fun to chill with stoners or alcoholics when you aren’t stoned/drunk, and if they’re always stoned/drunk, there’s nothing really to talk about. They’re too stoned/drunk to hold a coherent conversation, plus all their stories are about getting stoned or drunk, rather than interesting and cool stuff, like concerts or motorcycles or camping or books or anything real.
  3. Because they rely on mood-altering substances on a weekly or daily basis, I have a hard time trusting them, and treat them accordingly. 
  • To clarify, I do have friends who indulge much more rarely, and they’re cool. I’m totally okay with alcohol/pot as recreational, occasional additions to a social activity, and when used in moderation — but when they’re the type of person who brings hard alcohol or pot to every gathering, or who arrives stoned/ drunk at every gathering, they’re just not the type of person I get along with, no matter how chill they are. 

Newlyweds/ New parents

I have lost contact with quite a few friends after they married and had kids. It’s either the couple syndrome or the kids thing. First the couples syndrome, which takes a few forms:

  1. “I like you, but my partner doesn’t, so we’re hanging out less and less and oh, never.”
  2. “I am totally and completely in love with my partner and we do everything as a couple now, so I can’t hang with you unless you like my partner.” This phase may or may not pass. I know my husband and I are still too couple-y for some people, while I’ve met other couples who seem far more couple-y to me.
  3. “I am now married and will take on my spouses political/ religious views, thereby changing my entire personality and making me foreign and slightly distasteful to my former friends.”
  4. “I am now married and my spouse is completely jealous/distrustful of opposite-sex friendships, so we’re done.” This is especially frustrating to me. I’ve always tended to have male friends, which my husband is cool with — but their long-term girlfriends/ wives aren’t. Apparently they trust their boyfriends/ spouses so little, and think so little of my husband, that they believe I will totally jump into bed with said guy friend the first chance I get. Pretty sad.

The shut-out couple phase usually passes, and some of these friendships have picked up again.

New parents can often be identified because they use their kids as their profile pictures. Of course, these are generally the people so co-dependent that before babies, they had partners or pets as their profile picture, meaning you may not have ever actually seen a profile picture featuring their own face.

New Parent Thing:

The new-parent thing is more insidious, and I’m still learning to deal with the different permutations of it. So far, I’ve noticed these versions:

  1. The baby takes up all their time and interest and is now all they can talk about/ FB post about/ blog about. Poo is fascinating, first steps are fascinating, gurgle smile/burps are fascinating, and why is the entire world not as fascinated as they are? Not a new complaint. Every first-time parent does this. Patience.
  2. No-one else is parenting correctly, and they disapprove of any parenting method that is not theirs. I think this is a more recent thing, societally. I got over it when my son was about 4 or 5. I expect most parents, at some point, come to the realization that most of us are just doing the best we can with what we have, and there’s no exact science to this.
  3. Different timing on children. This one is the current biggie I’m dealing with. I have one kid, and he’s 9. Many of my friends/ family are starting their families and have toddlers and pregnancies to deal with. We’re in different family situations, with different parenting demands and vast differences in time availability. Plus, they’re going through stages 1 & 2, which requires some definite cultivation of patience — especially when they’re still in that judgmental all-parenting-but-mine-is-bad phase.

Differing Political Views:

When I met and married my husband, I was an active mormon girl, nominal Republican (didn’t know much about it, but my parents voted Repub, so I did), and sometimes feminist. My husband appeared to be an active mormon boy, Republican, and a slightly sexist misogynist. Over the next 10 years, we changed. A lot.

  1. We traveled separate but parallel paths to atheism and liberalism. We’re both vehement and active advocates of gay rights, women’s rights, union rights, and various other so-called “socialist/ liberal/ democrat” views. Although these changes were happening during the Bush years, we really became firm in our views when the Tea Partiers came on the scene and started trying to take away the LGBT, Womens, Childrens, and Worker rights.
  2. At the same time that we became more vocal in our repudiation of the Tea Party movement, some of our formerly moderate Republican/ Catholic/ Christian/ Mormon friends were similarly becoming more vocal in their support of Tea Party policies.

With some of them, our disagreements over social and political policy has become so divisive, we’ve had to part ways. Fortunately, this only seems to occur when they have no life (as in, no family, no other friends, no real hobbies), and rely completely and totally on politics, debate, and argument for entertainment.

added as of 10/21/12

Our families were never like this.

Family

When I was growing up, mom used to tell me that “friends will come and go, but family will always be family.” She was trying to get my sister and I to stop fighting, but I really took it to heart. Later, when John and I got married, my mom told me that he was always to come first now.

She said he was to come before my siblings, my parents, and even (within reason) my children, because John was the partner I chose to be with me for life. My siblings would marry and build their own families. My parents would, in time, pass on. My children would grow up and leave the home. But my partner — if I had chosen well, and if I put him first, and if I worked hard on my marriage — would be there with me through all of that.

I believe that, and so does John. Within reason, of course. Things like abuse, mockery, or persistent dishonesty are not to be tolerated from any partner, toward either their partner or their children. But in a normal, healthy relationship where those are not issues, I believe it is imperative to consider one’s partner and their emotions, concerns, desires, hopes and dreams on an equal level to one’s own.

As such, I have begun to cut ties with those siblings of mine who treat John and our relationship poorly and with disrespect. It’s less “cutting ties” and more “stopped calling,” but I knew when I made the decision to stop trying to contact them that they would not be initiating contact.

After many heartfelt discussions with my therapist and long, restless nights, I realized these particular relationships were toxic. I also realized that if it were not for our shared genetic bond, I would not be friends with them. We have too few shared values and interests for a common bond; we live too far apart and disagree in too many fundamental ways.

These siblings did not respect my marriage, my husband, or my accomplishments. I realized they were not willing to invest in a mutually beneficial and supportive relationship. Instead they relied solely on our blood ties to maintain the “friendship” between us, and that I, in fact, was maintaining my relationship with them out of a misplaced sense of duty — because “family will always be family.

Furthermore, maintaining these toxic relationships was damaging my emotional and mental health and my primary relationships (with my husband and son). Once I came to terms with this realization, I was able to take the steps to cut ties on my end and leave the ball (so to speak) in their court.

internet travels

I was tooling around on stumbleupon when I saw this video on a pro-GOP type site. I did not watch it, because I’m trying to avoid teapartier stuff — they’re so vitriolic and hateful, they leave a bad taste in my mouth and make me nauseous for the rest of the day.

Then I logged onto FB, and saw the same video on a friends profile, with the description: “Muslims throw a fundraiser to help the homeless. The Tea Party shows up. WTF, America?” Curiosity piqued, I watched it. And I do indeed feel sick and nauseous with horror. I had to stop at about the point that the lady was screaming at the Muslim man to, “go home and beat (his) wife, like (he) does every night.”

This is just so sickening and horrifying. I’m completely baffled, and (quite honestly) disappointed in America as a nation. What, the American people are this historically ignorant about where racism and prejudice gets us? I’m not even talking just slavery, as horrific as that blot on our collective history is. Um, the Trail of Tears? Indian reservations? The U.S. eugenics movement, copied by the Nazi party? The “internment camps”? The laws forbidding Chinese immigration? The sterilizations, lynchings, medical experiments, mobs, and genocide that spatter our collective history with blood and tears?

And once again, American citizens are pushing forward and proudly, noisily giving voice to prejudice — they are shouting hateful, vitriolic insults and justifying their cruelty based on prejudice and fear. Are these American citizens helping the homeless? Are they standing in solidarity with women’s and children’s rights? Are they running a benefit to help those in need? No. No, they stand and they condemn those kinder and more humanitarian than themselves.

And what about us? What about the majority of American people, what about the media, what about the government and the police? Why do we sit silent while this dangerous hatred and rhetoric is given not simply equal time, but the same serious consideration and acceptance, as though these people are making a good points that can be weighed on par with reasoned discussion and logic? No, they aren’t! Listen to them! Listen to the vicious, prejudice-laden fear mongering they’re spouting! The only reason these Tea Partiers, these extremists, keep appearing to be a majority is because they’re yelling louder than us!

I’m not saying everyone is a liberal, or a democrat. I’m not saying everyone is an atheist or humanitarian. I am saying that the moderates need to speak up. That those Republicans who disagree with the extremism taking over their party; that the Christians ashamed of the evangelical fundamentalists representing them; that the Independent’s who say, “Well, I want a smaller government, but I’m also pro-abortion,” need to speak up. I’m not the first to say this, and I won’t be the last. But it is time for the moderates to begin to repudiate this message of hatred rippling over our nation.

Stand up for what you believe in. Stand up for human decency, for kindness, for compassion. Stand up for solidarity and friendship and humanitarianism. Stop with the inaction — even inaction is a choice, and every time any of us stay silent in the face of such hatred, we are approving it by our silence. It is time to speak up, to say, “No, I don’t agree,” to show our horror and shame for such disgusting attitudes in our country.