Once upon a time, the last star faded cooly into the dark universal night. It took hundreds of billions of years to die, but no one remained to count the eons. Eventually even the electrons died.
This is not my story.
Once upon a time, a sentient race was born under a sky full of red and orange stars, and it matured and died without ever knowing that beyond its galactic pocket were a hundred billion other galaxies, carried away at redshifts faster than the speed of the light that would otherwise reach these beings to console them in their loneliness.
This is not my story.
Once upon a time, the last remnants of life–radiation-resistant spores and hyperthermophilic single-celled archaea–gave up their long evolutionary battle against the red sun that grew in their sky.
This is not my story.
Once upon a time, the human race nearly extinguished itself for the ninth time. There would be no tenth opportunity. The last whisper of the last woman was also the last breath of homo sapiens sapiens.
This is not my story.
Once upon a time, I was born and cried for my mother’s milk and suckled with all my tiny might, but nothing flowed into my dry mouth.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I threw lye into the eyes of the man who raped and punched me daily, and I raged and screamed and spat all the way to the gallows.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I told my friends to love each other and to treat each other well no matter what race or gender or class, and generations later people murdered and enslaved and cheated each other in my name.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I tricked a general and his army and led them away from my village. When he cut me down in angry realization, I smiled at my cleverness and my bravery and the thought of my people fleeing to live and fight again.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I lived out my days on the edge of starvation, harvesting my Lord’s rice and looking forward only to the numbness that the sour ale brought, and fucking my woman at night.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I wrote stories of a war that another writer wrote down and sold across the sea as his own. He died from fame and cirrhosis, and I spent my life full of self-doubt, in poverty and obscurity.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I stole from another woman’s retirement savings, and spent my last days knitting with friends under the warm Florida sun that she dreamed of.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I enjoyed a long life filled with loved ones until my body betrayed me and mutant growths starved and pinched and twisted my internal organs, and I spent my last months thinking only of me, and my pain, cursing my existence and longing for death.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I fell in love with him, but was afraid he would reject me, and married a man I did not love. I died not knowing that he loved me all along.
This is my story.
Once upon a time, I lived, and I loved you or I hated you, and I acted, and you responded, and this was my universe, my earth, my history and my future.
These are my stories.
Today’s episode comes with a warning: I will be reading a story full of sex and religious innuendo, or rather, religion mixed with sexual innuendo. And guilt and sweaty palms. If you find any of these things offensive, you may want to stop now. Or you may want to continue listening. Feel guilty now and confess to your ecclesiastical authority later.
The entire episode is 15:35 long. That’s minutes and seconds, not hours and minutes.
If you have problems listening to the podcast, here is an alternate download option.
Here is also the full text of the story:
Hi Pastor Moylan. Thanks for seeing me.
This rain, just seems to go on, doesn’t it? No, no you’re right, I’m not here to talk about the weather.
Well, uh, you see, I seem to have this problem. It’s with the Bible–No, no, I believe that it’s God’s word, through and through! I never doubted that, no sir! You might say that I’ve got, uh, too much love for the Good Book.
Right, and I don’t intend to contradict you, Pastor. Maybe if I start at the beginning…
It started, I think, with this good Christian girl named Mandy Reynolds in high school. She was beautiful, and I wasn’t the only guy interested in her, what with her Georgia accent and curly red hair and flirty summer dresses and…no, no sir, you’re right this doesn’t have bearing on my problem, not directly at least. Well, for some reason, we started dating, harmlessly at first, going to movies and football games and hugging and kissing a lot. We wanted to do more, but we tried really hard to not touch those “bathing suit zones” but we’d get pretty close, you know? And then we heard this one speaker at our Thursday night Bible Study and he was kind of like a Christian Tony Robbins guy. By the end of the night, we all signed these purity vow certificates, even the couples we were pretty sure weren’t going to stop having sex. But me and Mandy, we meant it, and the thing that really impressed us was that he said that if we always had the Good Book between us, a big one, not one of the pocket version, “ain’t no way we could have sex,” and plus we’d be mindful of the Lord.
Right, maybe he said the mindfulness part first.
Anyhow, looking back I think we had too much confidence, but that night her folks were out late, and we ended up in her room–yes, I know that was foolish, but anyhow, we tried to make out with her good-sized, leather-bound Zondervan NIV Personal Growth Study Bible between us. Well, uh, one thing lead to another and we were, um, grinding pretty hard against each other–fully-clothed, but with this uncomfortable book between our chests, but I guess it wasn’t uncomfortable enough to stop us, from, uh, reaching fulfillment.
We were pretty deeply shamed, and we spent the next week doing a lot of praying when we were together, and reading from that Personal Growth Bible, but we just couldn’t stand it anymore, and I have to say that I uh, put the Good Book down my pants. I thought it would be uncomfortable enough there to keep us at least from the grinding business, but we made do, so to speak.
We broke up after a lot of grinding and praying. Not long after I went to college, anyway. Last I heard, Mandy got pregnant and married the guy, had two more kids, and they’re divorced now. Right, that’s neither here nor there, but sometimes I think that maybe that old Bible worked, in that I never did get her pregnant, right?
No sir, that’s not the whole of it yet. I’ll get back on track.
At UoT, I got involved in Campus Crusade, which was a lot of fun. I did some partying, but I always brought a Bible with me on dates, and that turned off some of the girls to where I didn’t get second dates, but I had in mind that I wanted to settle down with a good Christian gal.
Then I met Stella. Stella was a TA, she taught one of the writing comprehension classes. She was dark and sassy and everything I’ve ever found attractive in a woman, but she wasn’t a Christian, well, at least not a practicing one. To tell you the truth, I still don’t know what she saw in me. Maybe she saw me as a project? We dated for two quarters, breaking up and getting back together almost every month.
Sorry, I’ll get to the point, uh, as it were. I could tell from our first night out that Stella was going to be trouble. When we first started making out, I stopped and pulled my Bible out of my backpack–what? No, it wasn’t hard cover. Yes, you’d think I would have learned by then–anyhow, when I explained to her how I was a virgin and was saving myself for my wife and the Bible was there to protect me, at first she was mad, but then it was like some light bulb clicked on. She swore to always keep the Bible between us when we were getting physical, and that she’d respect my virginity. I was relieved, because she was so smart and so like a model gorgeous, and I thought maybe she’d remember how she was saved once, and…so.
That’s not how it turned out, of course. I ended up spending many nights over at her place, and, and, well, she kept her word. One of the first nights, she brought out this huge Bible that she had checked out from the library–I think I’ve seen smaller suitcases–and uh, we were undressed within an hour, but that Bible stayed like a wall between us, an there was no grinding…just, uh, touching. Some nights she would only touch me with a Bible, maybe rubbing me with one in a sheepskin case, but only after touching herself with it, and right. The Bible is less effective when we’re unclothed, I see that very clearly now.
She had this small hardcover edition that she stuck…sorry, I think I’ll stop there. I can tell you don’t really want to hear.
I think the worst thing, and I’ll stop talking about Stella after this, was when she tore these thin vellum sheets from one Bible and used them to, uh, grab me with them. She would read from them first, stuff like about Lot’s daughters, and David spying on Bathsheba, and most often from the Song of Solomon.
What? Oh, just how often were we doing…oh, I see you mean that as a rhetorical question. I’ll move on, then. Stella dumped me, anyway. Started dating another grad student. We never talked again, though when she gave me back some of my stuff, I also got all of the Bible she had bought while we were dating.
So, now we come to my wife. That’s right, my Mary. No! No sir! She’s not into this kinky stuff at all. And that’s the problem, well, not her problem, but my problem.
You see, I did pretty much remain a virgin until our marriage, but without a Bible, it’s uh, been difficult to consummate our marriage. She let me put one between us on our wedding night, like it was letting the Lord into our marriage, but she absolutely refused to let me do it again. I snuck one into bed with us, you know, just kept it under the pillow where I could see it or touch it if needed, but that only worked twice. Now she makes sure there isn’t a single Bible in the bedroom with us, and well, I just can’t perform my duty, so to speak. I’ve had to spend the past week on the couch. I’m worried, Pastor Moylan, you’ve got to help me, help us.
What’s that? Normally you’d consult the good book, right. I can understand your hesitation, Pastor. What if you assigned readings? You know, the Bible’s available online now, I could look up.
Another appointment? Sure, I understand. Can I stop by later this week? After Bible study, perhaps?
This story and podcast are released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike License. You are welcome to remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as you credit us and license your new creations under the identical terms.
Here’s #004 in the wild (explanation in post):
A few months ago, after getting a feel for Twitter, I wanted to see what I could do with it as a writer. I began tweeting a story. I am still in the middle of what I’ve tentatively named, “The Bean, the Brew and the Buzz.” Here are the informal rules I follow:
- I try not to compose each tweet until I’m sitting in front of the computer or wielding my phone. (though I may entertain ideas and do some fuzzy plotting beforehand)
- I compose my tweets in a twitter client (laptop or phone) or web page, and not in a word processor or text editor.
- I try to avoid studying my earlier tweets, though I do refresh my memory by reading quickly through them on occasion.
- I include the numbering system and the #JCafe hashtag as ways to identify story tweets and to help readers to tie them together.
It would be easy to write an entire story first, and then send it out daily in discreet twitter-sized chunks. I want to avoid this, and to explore how the medium can impact the process of telling the story. My main challenge (other than being consistent) iss to infuse each tweet with enough meaning or value to stand alone while still tying them all together in a narrative.
Some of the limits are technological. Intuitively, you should be able to search on a hashtag and pull up every incidence of a term, but twitter’s search tool retrieves no more than the last several weeks worth (even though the company stores every tweet we’ve ever tweeted).
For this reason, I’m going to start posting an occasional archive of my #JCafe tweets. They’re not intended to be read back to back this way (the inconsistencies become immediately apparent!), but I have to provide some means for people to who start following in the middle to catch up and for others to refresh and reread.
Enough of my rambling–here are the story tweets:
001: So, there’s this barista who looks totally like Jesus: olive skin, big nose, long hair & beard. And His brews are always divine. #JCafe 10:38 AM Apr 4th from web
002: Turns out his name really is Jesus. Heysoos. Means the same thing in Spanish. Why do anglophones have a problem with the divine? #JCafe 10:40 AM Apr 4th from web
003: I heard he spent years learning the way of the bean in Ethiopia, Indonesia and Guatemala, picking red cherries with the locals. #JCafe 8:58 AM Apr 8th from web
004: The first time, he tried to preach love. 2000 years later, he just wanted to make coffee. He was doomed by his perfectionism. #jcafe 7:02 PM Apr 21st from TwitterFon
005: GalacticWiki, year 4031: The origin of the benediction, “In the name of the Bean, the Brew & the Buzz” is lost in Web antiquity. #jcafe 7:31 PM Apr 22nd from TwitterFon
006: Jesus’ brother JC was also into coffee. He made a killing w/his Kingdom Koffee chain, building cafes in megachurch lobbies. #jcafe 7:10 PM Apr 23rd from TwitterFon
007: Kingdom Koffee: a sermon on every sack, a scripture on every cup, the Spirit in every hot sip–at least according to Marketing. #jcafe 7:35 PM Apr 24th from Tweetree
008: It was the multi-level scheme that turned JC’s chain into empire: pastors preached Koffee & Christ, missionaries hawked coupons. #jcafe 7:03 PM Apr 27th from web
009: While JC spread his franchise throughout the land, his brother, Jesus Sanchez, quietly opened up a cafe next to a pawn shop. #jcafe 7:47 PM Apr 28th from Tweetree
010: The first time JC stopped by, he laughed out loud. The second time, he offered to buy the place but left, swearing. #jcafe 8:31 PM Apr 30th from web
011: Jesus would be the first to admit that he wasn’t good at ‘this capitalism thing.’ I mean, that’s why he signed me on, after all. #jcafe 9:04 PM May 1st from web
012: I got the business loan for him (we were ‘revitalizing the urban center’) but almost left when he refused to charge our clients. #jcafe 7:10 PM May 4th from TwitterFon
013: He asked folks to pay only what they thought their cup was worth, or what they could afford. Some did dishes for their AM brew. #jcafe 8:34 PM May 5th from Tweetree
014: After a week of stuffed donation boxes and an organic baker offering to swap pastries for coffee, I decided to stick around. #jcafe 7:22 PM May 6th from web
015: It got so busy that Jesus chose to train some homeless clients & bring them on. He was generous, but I liked the cheap labor. #jcafe 6:50 PM May 7th from TweetDeck
016: GalacticWiki, Year 4031: Scholars speculate that the origins of the Barista class go back to the Brahmin of old India on Earth. #jcafe 8:19 PM May 11th from Tweetree
017: GWiki, Year 4031: The Schism of 2480 began over the priority of arabica v. robusto beans but lead to heretical genetic variants. #jcafe 7:57 PM May 20th from TweetDeck
018: As crazy as it sounds, we were making bank. Jesus had tapped into some kind of coffee-loving, charity niche demographic. #jcafe about 5 hours ago from web
To be continued…stay tuned via my twitter feed!
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.
One of the more popular genre of games right about now is a cross between full RPG and general story game. The most highly anticipated was Fable, where you start out as a young boy and grow into a hero…or a villain. And this was the major selling point: a slightly more sophisticated Choose Your Own Adventure book, without the possibility of getting caught in an endless loop (that happen to anyone else?) or for some reason falling off a cliff face & dying, even though you’re on a pirate ship (seriously, continuity was not invented until after the 80s). Perhaps because it was so highly anticipated, Fable fell on its face (like me, off that damned cliff): the choices were either mundane (which is more evil: bread or chicken?) or bizarre (lessee: I can go on your mission or rip your head off & drink your blood); you didn’t grow up so much as wake one morning with muscles, a deeper voice, and a god complex; and clichéd (when you’re good, you glow and when you’re bad, you have flies circling your head). My major complaint about it, since all of those were actually rather charming in a strange way (one of the missions actually required that you stand in front of a cave and eat 50 live chickens to prove your evilness) was that, if you actually did all the missions before the final mission, it was far too easy.
But the point is this: I spent days playing that game. Crunchy live chicken bones and all. I’m the kind of person who explores maps in their entirety, just to make sure I didn’t miss the 3 gold that might be hiding in that garbage can. So when I got my hands on Fable, I played it through, thoroughly; but since you can’t do that and be good, I played it through again. Thoroughly. Jade Empire was my next good/evil game. I played that one through 3 times (once good, once bad, and then another two times half way through bad because there were four endings…).
The most popular is undoubtedly Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Morality game and you get to choose the color of your light saber’s crystal. Pure geeky fantasy.
This post came out of a comment about video games and exploration of morality. There are social rules that we live by on a day to day basis (most often not involving falling off cliffs, eating live chickens, or light saber dilemmas). The little moralities of “should I speed” or “whose pen is this” are petty next to the epic good vs. evil that’s waiting at home on a shiny silver disc.
Not only are these games popular as a genre, they’re starting to bleed into the other genres. Mass Effect, which as far as I could tell was a Halo-meets-EVN knock off had “being evil” an option in most of your choices. This caused my husband to play it through twice: once as a beautiful but tough woman with a nice ass (since the third-person perspective meant that was what you got to see of her most of the time) and once as a large man with a larger nose and a scar over his eye. Nothing subtle there.
What do these [socially acceptable] role-playing games show us about ourselves and others? In the safe space between the video game and you, the opportunity to do anything you want to exists. Will you fire at those ugly aliens and become humanity’s hero? Or will you negotiate with them and become the peacemaker? Either way, you’ll get XP and renown, so the choice really is completely up to the player. Incidentally, I don’t know anyone who plays these games down the middle: I’ll negotiate with these aliens but blow the next ones out of the sky. Everyone hits the extreme.
Is our world so grey that we need these little hits of good vs. evil? Or do we all secretly wish that we were saints (or satans)?
I know I have a (possibly not that hidden) dark streak: I’ve always been the black mage, the live chicken eater, the Marauder. I also don’t often work well in parties. I could go all sorts of places analyzing those two statements…
I’ve held off for as long as I could bear to, but it is now time to release this upon the MoF community. From the guy who brought us the classic office zombie song, Re: Your Brains and the classy May Day song, First of May, comes the geek classic Still Alive, the end-credits song for the video game Portal (play a flash version here).
Portal is the latest installment of the Half Life series, one of the first popular first person shooter video games. The song, Still Alive, is played over the end credits, and sung by the main (speaking) character, GLaDOS, an AI with a distressing sense of humor: “The Enrichment Center promises to always provide a safe testing environment. In dangerous testing environments, the Enrichment Center promises to always provide useful advice. For instance, the floor here will kill you. Try to avoid it.”
I have a soft spot in my heart for AIs in general and female AIs in particular. From Jane, my namesake, to Cortana, the only redeeming quality of Halo, another FPS, there’s something inherently attractive to me about a disembodied (yet somehow still female) sentient computer. And so, despite GLaDOS’ evilness in the game, I already like her.
The general theme behind Portal (which may be necessary for understanding the song) is that GLaDOS is in charge of a research facility involved in testing a new kind of gun that creates “portals”. She has a number of test subjects who she forces to test the gun in different situations (creating levels in the game) for a promise of cake at the end of a successful course of testing. Throughout the testing, the test subject (the player) encounters blood splatters where prior subjects died in their attempts and graffiti, often consisting of “the cake is a lie” (which has become a geeky expression). Eventually, the test subject kills GLaDOS and discovers that she was the only entity in the research facility, a situation eerily similar to the house in Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains. Throughout the game, GLaDOS’ voice stumbles and is replaced by static, indicating that something has already gone horribly wrong.
Implicit in the AI mythos is that, although it is created (either purposefully or accidentally) by humanity, it cannot be controlled by humanity. The AI must choose between good and evil—but these are binaries that only exist for humans, good for an AI might be destruction of humanity (see: HAL). AIs are the Frankenstein’s monsters of our century: it is beautifully tempting to create something so powerful and advanced but it is dangerous to unleash something with such capacity for destruction. As we get closer to the realities of the fictions we create, these stories, I believe, carry more and more poignancy.
Still Alive is a heart-wrenchingly emotional portrayal, in her own words, of a heartlessly unemotional being. It walks the razor edge of the AI paradox: GLaDOS is human in so many ways but still cold and ruthless. And so, after much ado…if you still dare, I give you more versions of Still Alive than you could possibly desire: Read more >>
A little heavy on the Star Trek and Star Wars, but still awesome. And honestly, what else is Q for but…Q?
That would be “Bitchy Literary Criticism”. John & I were having a conversation about good books and the concept of “strong female characters”, as a reason I might want to explore the Sabriel series. My response was that I had been recommended Miyazaki’s manga/movies for the same reason, that the author writes “strong female characters”, and that I had not found this to be the case. After a brief scuffle when I confused Miyazaki for Murasaki, we began to discuss what this phrase might mean.
In the midst of the conversation, and for sometime after, I felt like the typical feminist stereotype: bitter, argumentative, and seeing specters of the patriarchy where there were none. Hence “Bit Lit Crit”. But I honestly do see them: I see a major difference between books intended for boys and books intended for girls (the same is true of movies). Books that are intended for children of ostensibly neutral gender often are the same as books intended for boys. Being a reading male is the “norm”, leaving girls who like books left with “girl books” or imagining themselves as the main (male) character of “boy books”.
The general format for a “girl book” involves the main character breaking away from the role her parents try impose upon her and “finding herself” in the arms of the first man she encounters. Sometimes it’s not the first man, it’s the one who saves her from the first man. Safely now the property of someone besides her parents, she lives happily, if not fulfillingly, ever after.
The general format for a “boy book” involves the main character breaking away from the role his parents try to impose upon him and finding himself by discovering what he really wants from life and achieving it. There is often a show down, and content with his individuality, he lives happily ever after.
Books with female main characters often feature a love story very prominently, as if a female character is never complete without a companion. Books with male main characters often feature a fight, as if a male character cannot prove his strength without besting someone else.
There are, obviously, exceptions to these rules, but I have found that these are the major themes underlying determining who the audience is for a particular children’s or young adult book. And again, the “boy book” is often the “universal book”—a book that is enjoyed by members of both genders.
I love reading, I always have, and when I was growing up I (and my closest older sister) read mostly “universal/boy” books. Occasionally I would accidentally pick up a “girl book” and realize that I had no interest in it. Years later, I’m still reading “universal/boy” books, but do occasionally come across one that breaks the mold. Those shine brightly in the starry canopy of books I’ve read. But they’re too brief and too few.
1. One book that made you laugh: I, Lucifer, by Glen Duncan. DH and I read this to each other on one of our many road trips. Totally light reading, with no redeeming social value (as my father might say), but still a fun ride.
2. One book that made you cry: Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. I was going to use this for #4 but the truth is, I cry every time I read it to the end. I cry when he visits Valentine at the lake and she convinces him to return to school. I cry when he passes his final “exam”. I cry when he realizes what he’s done. I cry when Earth does not welcome him back—when his friends gather around him to protect him from the adulation and the horror of his fellow man.
3. One book that you loved as a child: Fables & Fairy Tales, by Leo Tolstoy. I love this book. I love the way fables (and fairy tales) influence a culture. It was quite instructive to me to read them, even though I didn’t know what culture they came from. The more later learned about Russia, the more sense they made.
4. One book you’ve read more than once: Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder. I discovered this book in high school—a friend of mine simply could not believe that I hadn’t read it and insisted that I find a copy (in English, a fair feat) and read it. It’s a wonderful introduction to philosophy in an accessible manner (even if they’re already diving hard-core into Kant and Nietzsche, I would recommend—and lend—this to CatGirl and GameBoy).
5. One book you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it: Tell Me Lies, by Jennifer Crusie. By the time I realized it was a romance novel, I was too far into it to put it down. Now I reread it on occasion because it still cracks me up. I had imagined that romance novels would be far more explicit, but this concentrated on the personality of the guy and, while he’s not my type, that made all the difference. (I imagine…it’s the only romance novel I’ve ever read…I swear.)
6. One book you hated: Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. My professor told me to read it in high school while the rest of the class finished reading (whatever we had been assigned) and to tell him what I thought. I told him that I liked the story, “and a good author could have done a lot with it.” I’ve never been able to bring myself to reread it, but now I feel bad about that, since I think it was one of his favs.
7. One book that scared you: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. I don’t know how old one is supposed to be for this book, but I think I was really young when I read it. I still think of it and get that fear in my chest—when I’m speeding down a freeway so fast I can’t read billboards, or when I am confronted with a fire station and must interact with it.
8. One book that bored you: the Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov. Another high school book. I felt that we spent too much time on it and I really didn’t understand what it was supposed to symbolize.
9. One book that made you happy: the Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love & High Adventure, by William Goldman. One of my favorite books of all time, one that I can pick up, flip open, & just start reading at any point & reenjoy the whole thing. It makes me happy every time I reread it.
10. One book that made you miserable: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (who just recently died—I have to admit that when I read it, I thought he was already dead). It took me more time to read this than it took me to read Anna K..
11. One book that you weren’t brave enough to read: the Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien. My father read the first three (including the Hobbit) to me but I started falling asleep when he got into the Fellowship books. He never finished the second one & I never had any desire to start the third. I know, I’m going to lose major geek cred for that…
12. One book character you’ve fallen in love with: I guess Paul Atreides from Dune, et al., by Frank Herbert. (Does that restore my geek cred?) Although I kinda just wanted to be his sister, Alia. She was badass!
13. The last book you read: Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. I have nothing else to say :-p
*desperately trying to avoid typing “theoCRAZY!”*
I missed this discussion at school, but have been seeing flyers for a forum on asylum law that state:
HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR
FREEDOM OF RELIGION?
Come hear [asylum professionals] discuss asylum law and practice. In particular, they will discuss the plight of Christian converts in Iran and their attempt to get asylum in the United States.
I have heard many times (but cannot currently find the citation) that Islam requires execution of converts-away-from-Islam. All nations should vocally oppose this and actively (and publicly—though not to the point of giving names, if that will cause danger) give asylum to anyone who falls under this religious law. All nations should also recognize the danger that theocracy poses by this example and actively take steps to avoid theocracy-in-fact or theocracy-in-effect in their own governments.
Religion’s obvious place in the current election cycle is depressing to a former religionist but should be demoralizing, even to current religionists. Reference to “Judeo-Christian values” by candidates or elected officials [via] are intended, on their surface, to remind us that we are a proud nation with glorious historical roots; intended to call to mind Battle Hymns and white men in whiter wigs. But I find that they often call to my mind the ongoing suppression [via] of any-religion-that’s-not-Christian-(with-occasional-hat-tips-to-Judaism). We can make excuses for our fore(white)fathers’ extermination of non-Christian religions with a “that was then, this is now” attitude, but we would still ignore the fact that the first pilgrims were seeking asylum, running from violent religious persecution, and should really have known better.
The Muslim world may be more overt in its censure of wrong-religionists [via], but the Christian world is not without blame [via]. The more evidence of theocracy’s ugly head creeping into my country’s government, the more I become afraid. Afraid of being an atheist, afraid of having pagan-leanings, afraid of practicing yoga & meditation, afraid of not going to (the right) church of a Sunday. I’ve been listening to Atheists Talk on podcast and they often bring to my attention issues that I had not known about or hadn’t made the connection about. Growing up Catholic gives me blinders to a lot of pro-Christian (and anti-everythingelse) stuff that goes on. It makes me wish I had a job & money to donate and that California’s Atheists were as with-it as Minnesota’s.
Here. I’ve heard the argument represented in the graph before but, as they say, this is worth 1000 words.
I haven’t yet seen WALL•E, but here is an article I found interesting discussing the genders of the two main robots. It is an interesting discussion of the perceived genders we apply to the characters based on our cultural assumptions. It is also interesting, however, how we can work beyond them.