One of the things I love about MoF is that we’re a pretty small community and don’t attract a lot of trolls. This is not to say we never attract trolls, but when we do, it’s a surprise. There are many sites whose comments I simply don’t read because I don’t want to deal with the douchebaggery that goes on. One of my favorite podcasts, This Week in Law (iTunes link) had an interesting discussion of the reasons why it’s easy to flame people when you don’t see them in person. It’s a long podcast, but I think it’s a good discussion of the many factors. And that may be why MoF is different: most of us, even if we don’t know each other in person, know each other on other sites: I know you from your own blog, from twitter, maybe we IM each other, maybe we’re in the same flickr group. And somehow, that manages to make us more congenial toward each other’s opinions. Or maybe we’re just nicer people than the intarwebs at large.
This vid is NSFW and ROTFL funny.
This is how our president defined our country yesterday. Explicitly denying that it was a “Christian nation” and explicitly stating that this fact is one of our “great strengths”.
It’s nice to be reminded of this—and by someone so high in the administration! It is vogue for politicians to exclaim “God bless America!” Whether or not The Divine smiles upon us is not the issue, the issue is which Divinity is being invoked. Likely not mine, which makes me bristle. Change the invocation just a bit and even the Christian right will object: “Allah bless America” and “Goddess bless America” are nearly epithets.
I look forward to what the religious response to this will be—will our secular roots continue to be denied? Will this be further proof that Obama is the anti-Christ? Or will this be accepted as an endorsement of pluralism? An invitation to dialogue?
Our country is yet young and still going through growing pains. I see our insistence on religion in the public sphere as evidence of this. I think the Secular Coalition’s crowing may work against them, but this may indicate, not a turning away from religion but a turning towards acceptance of non-religion. A big step for us.
It’s got it all: atheism, spirituality, god, scifi, and good music!! Hulu’s got the first four eps up right now (and it doesn’t keep them forever), so go catch up. It’s too smart and too well written to stay on the air for long.
It’s the story of Kings David and Saul transposed into a country that looks like present-day America. It’s smart, sometimes funny, and often reminds me of Dune with it’s spiritual overtones (the King has been selected by a nebulous God, only to be usurped by the next King by the same God). Each ep gives me another song that I want to get (including one by Liszt). The characters are sympathetic and real, even the minor ones; the issues that they have are painful and don’t feel contrived.
This is a new generation of scifi—it’s not utopian or dystopian. It’s just other. And awesome.
This is another lecture that was put on at my school, this time by the ACLU, in response to Prop 8. The California Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments about the Constitutionality of Prop 8 a week from tomorrow. In preparation for that, the local ACLU chapter invited to gay people who grew up in religious families to tell their stories to us—one whose family eventually accepted him and the other whose family is not as accepting.
My first thought at arriving at the appointed time & place was that I must be in the wrong room. There was far too good a turn out (including a number of professors). The president of our local chapter introduced the two panelists and said that she felt it was important, with Prop 8 looming on the horizon, to put a human face on the reality of our homosexual friends and neighbors. She wanted us to hear the story of people struggling for acceptance in their family, community, and faith, but that it was not her story to tell. Read more >>
It’s Blog for Choice Day and I encourage everyone to visit the blogroll of bloggers taking part and to visit their blogs, if only for this one post. Also, feel free to revisit my posts from ’07 and ’08. This year’s topic is “What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress.”
I always find these kinds of things difficult. I don’t have a favorite band/book/movie, but I could give you a top five. So I think I’ll take that approach. These aren’t in any order except the order they come in, but they’re all up there.
1. Repeal of the Bush doctrine of the “conscience clause”. This is near the top of my brain right now because I recently read (and was subsequently incensed by) this, the story of a woman whose IUD was removed by a religious nurse, who then proceeded to lecture her about why she was morally opposed to it and then refused to put it back in. The nurse stated, “Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull these out on purpose because I am against them, but it’s not true, they accidentally come out when I tug,” which suggests to me that she’s a serial assaulter.
The medical profession is different from most professions (it’s usually lumped in with the legal profession) in the sense that certain things are required of medical professionals that are not required of anyone else. I’ve likened conscience clauses before to a vegetarian working at Subway and refusing to serve meat. That was probably a wee bit flippant, but I do believe that, since the medical profession is so specialized, when one goes to an doctor, one is entitled to the best medical care that doctor can provide. Having an surgeon refuse to provide a patient with an appendectomy because the surgeon is a Christian Scientist should be illegal. Sure, where it is possible, allow the surgeon to find another surgeon who can provide this (often emergency) procedure. Where none can be found, the trained surgeon employed in the capacity of a surgeon at the hospital the patient has been admitted to may be expected to provide that surgery, regardless of the surgeon’s religious beliefs. The fact that it’s even being considered is repulsive and baffling to me. We require attorneys to provide legal service to criminals, regardless of the attorney’s belief of guilt or innocence. Where attorneys don’t want to face that kind of situation, these attorneys choose a different area of practice.
Replace “appendectomy” with “abortion” and my views do not change.
2. Codification in some way of the right to reproductive health services nationwide. This probably involves both the Congress and the President, since we all know Bush would have vetoed anything that allowed women to have a shot at doing anything for themselves. Roe v. Wade objectors are working their way up the courts inch by inch in an effort to get it repealed. Many states have laws-in-waiting that will go into effect as soon as it is repealed. With a Supreme Court stacked against reproductive rights and a rabid base who routinely files cases intended to make it to that Court regardless of the success of the last case, having a statutory law, rather than a common law, is a necessity.
The oft-quoted fact that Viagra is covered by many insurance companies that do not cover birth control pills is proof positive that there is a problem in this country with treating women as full humans when it comes to health care. Codification of this right would solve the insurance issue as well as the access issue. It may even solve the education issue, since more and more medical schools are removing certain reproductive health care procedures from their required curriculum making them instead optional.
3. Age-appropriate sex-ed classes that have a medical, rather than a religious, basis. How are we even having this conversation?! If I want to learn about god, original sin, or hell, I will go to a religious teacher. If I want to learn about oil, the periodic table, or sulfuric acid, I will go to a chemistry teacher. This is not rocket science, folks: if we want our children to learn about penises, ovaries, and menstruation, what is required is a biology course. Perhaps a sociology course to cover things like “no means no” and the etiquette of being sexually active in a world of STDs. And yes, abstinence should be included in a sex-ed course; but not exclusively. Options and consequences should be truthfully (I know that’s hard for religionists…and some parents) and openly discussed, explored, even debated. Each person will then be able to decide for him or herself what choices will be made. But choices cannot be made if options are not given.
And yes, as indicated above, I think that a rudimentary course in how men and women should act toward one another in a sexual context (“no means no” and epithets like “slut”) should be included.
4. Support for parents in the workplace. Note the plural. Women may well need some physical time to recover following childbirth, but the child itself requires more attention when it is first born than later in life. Whether the parents are two gay men adopting, a het couple having a natural child, or a lesbian couple with a sperm donor (or any of the myriad other options and combinations), both parents should be assured of paid leave to care for the new addition to their family. And, upon returning to the workplace, they should be assured that they have a job.
I’d like to work into this some sort of acknowledgement that often, one parent quits their job and returns to the workplace some years later (above I was thinking more in terms of months), to find that her (it is most often a woman) marketability as a worker has vastly decreased, but I can’t figure out how to work this into legislation.
5. Repeal of the Global Gag Rule. I would hope that, if the above hopes come to pass, this would be an obvious inclusion. If we secure reproductive rights internally, we have no call to presume to infringe upon them externally. But it may slip through the cracks. Not only does the Gag Rule reek of imperialism and I-know-better-than-youism, it is inherently dangerous to men and women alike, especially in regions beset by an AIDS epidemic. People in need of medical care are entitled to the best medical care that society and current medical knowledge can give them—not the best care that the United State wants them to have (how is it that these are two separate things?!). Not only has the US no right to impose religiously-based medical care upon its own citizens, it has no right to do so for citizens of other countries.
Finally, as an aside that I don’t think either the President or Congress has much, if any control over, I think that (daily) birth control pills should be over-the-counter, since there’s no LD50 for them. For morning after pills, an argument may be made for keeping them behind the counter in the same way that cigarettes are.
Jane Doe is standing up to the social stigma attached to having been raped and the attendant indignities she discovered were involved in attempting to report it. In Japan. Although it is both a different culture and legal system, I don’t think there’s any culture that deals with rape without social stigma or the indignities involved in reporting it. Her refusal to be silent and her desire to bring national and international attention to the situation in Japan may help us all look with criticism at our own cultures.
On being a quiet feminist. (Something I’ve never understood, but I have heard the arguments that Kevin espouses and been incensed by them myself.)
Bad advertising. Or, sex sells.
It’s 2009 and I’ve been seeing more discussions of women and work than usual. Perhaps it’s just that I unplugged from my feminist news sites in the last few months of ’08. As a woman who will eventually go back to work, and if it’s at a law firm, certainly hopes that she’ll at least have a shot at partner, these are important issues to me. Two stand out.
The first, a discussion of how the recent economic slowdown has affected equality in the home (which is intertwined with equality in the workplace). Homemaking (including laundry, dishes, meals, &c.) is generally the rubric of the woman. That is, even if both spouses work, the woman in a heterosexual* relationship has a “second job” at home. Obviously, this is a sweeping statement and most of the men who hang out here might object to this generalization, but suffice it to say that MoF is more enlightened a community than the country at-large. In this article, the loss of the man’s employment results in a re-evaluation between spouses about the division of home labor. This can only be a good thing and may be a silver lining to the current state of the economy.
The second is on a slightly more entertaining topic: . This is a speculative correlation and may simply boil down to confident people get what they want because they (a) expect it and (b) ask for it. I’d be interested in hearing anecdotal evidence for or against this that any of you has (also, don’t forget to vote in her poll—it’s pretty far down the page, hidden on the left).
* it should be no surprise that homosexual relationships have a more equal division of home labor.
I’m catching up on local news (read: blogs) while my cousin is in town (trying not to be too antisocial by spending all my free time blogging) and enjoyed particularly this most recent post at Daylight Atheism: No Holy Ground, a rational look at the conflict in the so-called “Holy Land” and how it is in fact not ironic but completely predictable that the “Holy Land” is the source of so much strife.
In other posts over there, I found this awesome quote:
[B]y divorcing salvation from good deeds or even the intent to do good deeds, evangelical Christians have made getting to Heaven an entirely arbitrary reward. In essence, they believe that there’s a secret password to heaven – one that’s hidden among thousands of indistinguishable alternatives – and the only thing that matters about your time on Earth is whether you can discover it. Raising a family, falling in love, showing compassion to your fellow humans, creating beauty, working to advance the knowledge or the common good of humanity – all these activities […] are meaningless and merit nothing. Finding the hidden password is the only thing that matters, and if you fail to find it, you’re consigned to eternal torment.
which you can read in context here, in a discussion about the irrationality of evangelical belief.
Like most internet-based phenomena, the answer is probably “yes”. But read the article and decide for yourself (and then read the scared-boys comments and see if that changes your mind…).
said the friend sitting next to me at Christmas Eve dinner, with a vague look of disgust on her face, like I’d just admitted to enjoying self-flagellation. I was in the company of a number of people who had escaped Western religion (all some form of Christianity) and landed firmly in Eastern religion (all some form of Buddhism). With three beautiful dogs wandering about, Deva, Metta, and Gaia, this was a decidedly religious environment. And yet, there was no prayer before dinner, no implicit religion anywhere. There were buddha heads, mala, and yes, even crosses hung on the walls and displayed on shelves. But this was a place I felt at ease enough to say something atheistic enough to “out” me.
Later, another attendee told a story about a different dinner to which an atheist was inadvertently invited. One who waxed lyrical about the evils of religion and the stupidity of the people engaged in it. He was quieted with a “Yes, fundamentalism of all kinds is horrible,” and a glass of alcohol. This may or may not have been aimed at me, but was accompanied by shock that anyone could presume to know for sure what is or is not.
It is true, however, that my particular brand of atheism is less anti-Divine and more anti-Religion. As far as I am concerned, religion is objectively fucked up. But I believe that there is in all beings something special. Something worthy of awe, respect, love, acknowledgment, and equality. As a feminist, I can believe nothing else. I strive toward treating everyone with a namaste attitude. I feel filled with a sense of wonder when I walk in the forest, talk with good friends, or meditate. There is something out there, which name I give “the Divine”, that I cannot deny. Nor do I wish to.
And so I call myself an atheist to distinguish myself from any religionist who might make you uncomfortable by trying to convert you (or even just by talking too much about it). And while I have a great deal of respect for the hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool, fundamentalist atheists, I also don’t consider myself one of them. DH calls himself a “humanist”, though I’m not certain how he defines this, in order to avoid the atheism label (although he is the only person I’ve ever met who grew up completely outside of any religious influence).
I’m a dualist, a pantheist, a pagan, a feminist (in the religious sense, though not a Dianic), a meditator, a yogini, a post-Christian, an ex-Catholic, a Jino (Jew in name only); a pray-er to Bastet, Au-Set, Gaia, & Luna; a talker-with-animal-spirits and to trees; a student of Fire, a daughter of Earth, a foe of Water, a student of Wind; and an atheist. I meditate, I cook, I swim, I do yoga, I ski. I pray to the deities that strike me at the time, be they Mary or Skadi, Ra or Thor. I pray to the animals whose flesh I consume. I cast spells to help and to harm. And I reject the effect of prayer (whether as meditation, as supplication, or as spell) on anyone or anything other than the one who prays. I’ve seen and touched things that cannot be explained and which I cannot deny. But having no desire to foist them upon you, or to congregate with others in an effort to gain favor with a being who we cannot hope to affect, I reject the labels of religion. I refuse to allow anyone’s religion into my government and hope for a secular society, where all practice whatever they believe in their homes; whether that means meditation or family dinners.
“Yes,” I should have said, “I really am an atheist. But that makes me just like you.”
Years ago, Avery Brooks (who will forever be Cmdr. Sisko to me) did a truly awesome commercial for IBM, one that still prompts me to occasionally exclaim, “I was promised flying cars!” The point was that, when people look into the future, they see today’s technology modified for the future, not the invention of whole new ways of thinking, communicating, and acting. I was promised vidphones, soylent green, and transporters. Instead, I have email/IM/vidChat/cellphones/Skype, LäraBars/gojiberries/tofu, and …well…I used to have Concords…we’ll give transporters a pass for now. Years ago, I thought it was ludicrous that someone would consider not having an email that wasn’t their name, that my brother-in-law (junior high) should be on Facebook, that I could watch Netflix through my 360. But technology happens in unexpected ways. Which is to say, completely anticipated ways. Read more >>
Obama’s first YouTube-Side Chat. I’d love to get the audio in podcast, since I have more time to listen than to watch. I’m so glad that he’s doing this (I’ve been saying for some time that the Fireside Chats need to be brought back, to increase trust and transparency; in this case, also to increase hope). I don’t think that this first one was very substantive (certainly he can’t really have done anything yet), but I do think it’s important as a gesture. via.
Education and Religion.
Two stories of interest, each proving the importance of the other.
In the first, an English Catholic bishop blames educated members of the Church for sowing dissent among the rest. He clearly has a low opinion of his own faith, that it is so easily thwarted; or a low opinion of his faithful, that the best of them are uneducated boobs.
[Third story, more of an aside: Letter to the Red States outlining the differences in the voting public for Obama and for McCain (as well as some others. Not sure where this started, I got it in an email. If someone would like to track down the true author, I'll link to that instead).]
The second, a horrifying story in which the Taliban agrees with the Catholic bishop above: education is a threat. Education of women an even greater threat, one that they are actively discouraging by acts of violence and terrorism against the women who teach, the girls who wish to be taught, and the parents and family members of both.
Education is a threat to faith. One Catholic bishop and a bunch of terrified Afghan men agree: only unthinking members of society will stay in their place and allow the power to maintain their stranglehold upon truth and freedom.
On a lighter note, a quick reference guide for religions, the Big Religion Chart. From Aladura to Zoroastrianism, it breaks down religions by name, origins & history, number of adherents, god(s) and view of the universe, human situation & life’s purpose, the afterlife, practices, and texts. It also provides helpful links to learn more. Christianity gets one entry, a fact which should sober all those people lobbying to enforce their world view upon the rest of the country (although outliers like Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, and Unitarians, who are only arguably Christian do get their own entries). I know I’ve got some additional research to do (after finals!, I have to remind myself) to learn more about religions I’ve never heard of as well as to see where I fit.
Final quick hit: Another (do we need another?) Argument for the ERA.