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Let Sleeping Diseases Lie

I was very excited to learn of Pope Benedict’s remarks regarding condom use…until I realized it wasn’t anything new.  A few days ago, His Holiness made the personal statement suggesting that condom use to prevent disease may be morally acceptable.

In an excerpt from a book length interview set to be released tomorrow titled “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,”   Benedict makes several seemingly astonishing statements on a variety of topics, including one about the use of condoms by prostitutes.

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility,” the pontiff said.  (You can read a more in-depth analysis of the book [here].)

Unfortunately, that really doesn’t change much.  These remarks are those of the Pope as an individual and do not represent any departure from RCC dogma or doctrine.   Even as AIDS ravages the continent of Africa, antiquated ideas about birth-control, reproductive freedom and sexual safety prevail.

Some excellent points have arisen out of the debate over this particular proclamation by Benedict.   One specifically about the actualized influence the Church has in remote areas of the world.  If people are already have pre-marital or extra-marital sex against Church teachings, then what difference does it make what the Church says about condom use?

Well, the Pope’s prior comments on his first visit to Africa seemed to insinuate that condoms would not help the problem and that abstinence was the best way to prevent the spread of disease.  Which, honestly, is the truth.  If you have AIDS, you should definitely not be having unprotected sex with any partners.

I wonder how well that goes over when an unfaithful husband comes home to his wife?  I have to be curious about the repercussions she might face in an area devoid of basic education, much less far reaching thought on women’s rights or sexual responsibility, if she decides to deny him sexual activity while he is home?

On the other hand, there is great speculation regarding the World Health Organizations classification of AIDS in Africa, the reliability of HIV tests in Africa and whether or not the numbers regarding actual cases of documented AIDS infected people has been inflated.

So, maybe it doesn’t even matter.

But some other things do matter.

Any time you take a powerful leader and inject his or her views into the lives of thousands of folks, you may have an issue. (Read: Anytime a religious icon has influence on a huge number of people it can be bad.  Often bad.  Mostly bad.  Bad, bad, bad. Hold on, here comes some more badness.)  Maybe AIDS in Africa isn’t as bad as we think.  I still presume it’s probably pretty bad.  Or, maybe it’s not AIDS.  Maybe it’s just that disease overall in Africa is downright horrific.  In any event, I do think it’s irresponsible to blanket a large portion of the world with the idea that having responsible sex (in or outside of marriage) is bad.

Benedict’s admission is having effects in other impoverished parts of the world as well.  The Philippines are attempting to pass a house resolution that would provide couples with more modern forms of family planning.  Like condoms.  Its opposition is wary of the Pope’s assertions about condom use, because, well, we can’t have folks having reproductive freedom.  Or any freedom.  Their reason for opposition comes from a Catholic pro-life stance (which obviously has no place in government, but anyway.)

My basic point here is that when someone has that much power, maybe they should be overly concerned with the things coming out of their mouths, how those statements may be used and who they help vs. who they hurt.  In this instance,  at the very least the Pontiff should just let the Church’s stance lie instead of stirring up a storm every time the subject comes up.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Posted in atheism, Christian, religion

A Word on Tolerance. Well, Several, Actually.

I fancy myself a pretty open-minded individual.  I like civil rights, I’m a big fan of free speech and I personally think the United States Constitution was a great start for securing those things for a budding nation.  When I’m studying groups I don’t understand or want to know more about, I think I have a great capacity to tolerate whatever crazy ideals the members of that group may have and I try very hard to honor their humanity without compromising my own.

But, there’s one thing I can’t stand, I won’t stand and certainly in my personal life I absolutely will not tolerate.  Intolerance.

Liberals get bagged as very wishy-washy when it comes to things like this.  I hear that right-wing stand-by “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” often as the go-to for pointing out that open-minded tolerance of all types of views and opinions basically makes us spineless.

I think I may agree.

See, we’ve gotten so used to touting ourselves as lovers of everyone that when people start spewing hate all over the world, including our schools, even from those in charge of education, we sort of throw our hands up in the name of free speech.  Or go the opposite way and start threatening people or their families, which is pretty abhorrent behavior.

Then there’s this guy, Andrew Shirvell who used to work in the Michigan Attorney General’s office but was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer of the court.  Conduct in the form of an anti-gay blog.

I’m not advocating that we start policing folks for taking advantage of their Constitutional right to be a jackahole (similar to whack-a-mole) at all.  What I am advocating is that we stop allowing people the space in our personal lives to be hateful.

I used to really try to let everyone have a say on my social networking pages.  Then someone posted something really anti-GLBT.  I was mortified.  I was worried that my gay and lesbian friends would see that and think that I was okay with someone posting things like that on my page.  So, I started deleting.  Then I started deleting “friends” who could only drum up happy talk for other types that only believed like they do.  I am not the United States and my personal life is not a democracy.

Bishop Spong (who is one of the few religious heroes I have) has done amazing work changing minds and lives inside the Episcopal Church.  He recently wrote a sort of manifesto (and again, I’ll thank my friends in Religious Roundtable for the heads up on this one) basically refusing to engage in the debate of intolerance anymore.

“Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.” I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.”

You can read it in its entirety here on Walking With Integrity.

So, yeah, I’m gonna do that, too.  There aren’t always two sides to every story.  Sometimes there’s just right…and then there’s wrong.  I feel confident, even arrogant, that I’m on the side of right, on the side of human rights, so yanno, if you don’t agree, feel free to not engage with me about it, either.  I won’t tolerate intolerance.  So.  There.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

When in Rome?

Through one of the Muslim women in the religious debate group I moderate, I found this beautifully written article on CNN.com about a journalist who decides to don the niqab in order to better understand and, let’s face it, infiltrate the culture on which she is attempting to report. It is an inspiring piece about meeting others where they are instead of always expecting people outside of Western culture to come to us.

But, that’s sort of where my positivity expires. As a Western woman, I get social “breaks” that women in Africa, the Middle East, Central and East Asia rarely get. And, pardon me, but that’s still not enough. I’ve been exchanging dialogue with Muslim women on a regular basis for four years now. They are intelligent, sincere, and compassionate women. They have theologically sound arguments that often make me stop and say, “Hmm.” But, I’m still coming back to the fact that, no matter how much I try to understand another culture, religion or basic way of life, I cannot with any honesty say that I think mandating a woman to cover anything so that she can be treated as if she is not standing right in front of you is liberating. At all.

As a matter of fact, I find it demeaning and what’s more, I find it disheartening that, just like conservative  Christian women feel they are showing strength by submission, these Muslim women feel empowered by giving up one of the most empowering thing we possess; our facial expression.

When I was 21, my mother took me on a trip to Spain. This was pre-9/11, by just a couple of months and part of our tour included a day trip to Morocco. No one went out of their way to get me to cover my hair, or cover my skin, or anything. I wore a long skirt because I was aware it is Muslim dominated kingdom, but I really didn’t think all that much about it. I got a few wayward glances, but nothing too out of the ordinary for an American girl in a foreign country. I didn’t cover my hair, hell, I didn’t cover my arms.

Now, I suppose, given that the amount of knowledge and culture I now posses, greatly exceeds that which I had 10 years ago, I’d probably try to be more aware of my surroundings. I may cover my hair and arms…if doing so didn’t raise my internal body temperature by about a billiondy degrees.

I understand that in order to find common ground, sometimes we need to adapt to others rather than expecting them to adapt to us. Though, I wonder if Gena Somra at CNN could have better shown solidarity with her host country by donning the niqab during the first part of her trip and then removing it several days later to show solidarity to the women of Yemen in a small act that may reveal to them that, yes, they too can take control of their lives and for a small moment, show the men who would interacted with her that she was the same, covered or not. As for those who systematically ignored her while she was covered, well, they’d have done the same either way.

I think people ought to be able to do what they want. Mostly. If a woman wants to cover from head to toe, in a free society (or at least as free as we’ve come to be in our history) then I suppose that’s on her. But, in societies where this is the norm, expected or part of the religious based culture, freedom seems to be an idea without much reality. I appreciate Ms. Somra’s act of decorum and humility, but I think it falls flat in the face of women’s rights.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Blah, blah, Jesus, blah.

Yesterday, a “friend” posted some ridiculous drivel about not apologizing for being an American and some other mess about making kids say the Pledge of Allegiance.  Something about they “don’t make the kids say it no more.”

 

So, I mentioned that yes, indeed kids do say the Pledge at school and I know this because my boyfriend’s three boys all say it.  The response was that “well, we were forced to say it.”

 

Being a fan of actual facts and not fear-mongering, divisive, made-up bull-shit, I said that no, compulsory recitation has never been the case, though it has been tried in several areas of the United States since its addition to the school day.  You can actually thank the Jehovah’s Witnesses for saving you from being forced to pay allegiance to any flag or country without your permission.  I know this because I stopped saying the Pledge in the 5th grade in protest, ironically enough because I felt like we weren’t “One Nation under God” and until we were, I thought it was fallacy to recite it.  I was further supported by, I dunno, a little summer class I took on religion and politics.  But, hey, what the hell do I know?

 

I also mentioned that I don’t believe in god and non-belief really has not one damn thing to do with being an American (apologetic or not) and that the country was built on the backs of all of us (many of whom didn’t speak a lick of English, as it were.)

 

Which was met with some crap about feeling sorry for me because I don’t believe in god.

 

Really?

 

Good frakking grief.

 

First, be proud that I held my tongue, er, fingers far enough away from my keyboard so that little jolts of high voltage didn’t emerge on the responder’s end of the interwebz.

 

Second, I live in a part of the world that has a church on every corner.  I grew up immersed in the Southern Baptist tradition and I am the granddaughter of a United Methodist pastor.  Do you really think I don’t know all about your god, what he entails and whether or not I’m really missing out on something?

 

Give me a break.

 

The mere mention that I might believe something different, or nothing at all, offends you.  Stupid.  You piss and moan about how you’re so damn persecuted because you no longer have free reign to indoctrinate my child whenever and wherever you want, but when it comes to showing respect and compassion and tolerance to someone else…all that Jesus-itude goes right out the frakkin’ window.

 

I won’t even get into the fact that non-belief wasn’t a choice and if I had my druthers, it sure as shit would be a  helluva lot easier to believe than not.  When I was a Christina, I never heard someone say they didn’t think a Christian ought to be able to raise their own child…but I’ve had a Christian tell me someone ought to call DFCS and take my son away because it’s abusive to raise a child without god.  I didn’t say anything about the fact that I really don’t find your god to be all that good and I surely wouldn’t say I feel sorry for you for believing because believing in something so obviously without evidence is really kind of stupid.  Why?  Because my Mama raised me with some semblance  of manners and it’s RUDE to be condescending to someone you don’t know not to mention that it’s a little bit gaumless to engage someone who’s light-years ahead of you in knowledge of religion, belief and history.

 

Idiot.

 

So, I hit “remove from friends.”

 

Bah.  Bunch of BS if you ask me.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 6, 2010 at 12:57 am