Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thanks for Clarifying That, Pace...

Remember in March earlier this year, when General Pace said the following?:

"I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way..."
He apparently didn't think he was clear about his stance on homosexuals in the military--so he decided to rectify that answer--an answer he said today was "misreported" in March of 2007. So, in an effort to let Americans know how he really-for-real-and-for-true feels about having gays in the military, he clarified before a Senate hearing that:

"Are there wonderful Americans who happen to be homosexual serving in the military? Yes," he told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing focused on the Pentagon's 2008 war spending request.

"We need to be very precise then, about what I said wearing my stars and being very conscious of it," he added. "And that was very simply that we should respect those who want to serve the nation, but not through the law of the land condone activity in my upbringing is counter to God's law."
Well, it certainly seems to me his earlier remarks were misrepresented! I mean, here, all along I thought he was against repealing don't ask, don't tell because he thought it was "immoral" in god's eyes--and here all along, it's been because he thinks it's wrong in god's eyes!! Whew! I certainly am glad he cleared that up!

I'm just glad that a four-frickin'-star general thinks military policy should be dictated by a bible and not by actual military policy built on years of training and tested-and-true tactic and strategy! Apparently, god forbid!

Of course, while the general is looking to the bible to guide his military decisions, I dare him to get everyone under his command to walk circles around a city blowing horns--we'll call it an experiment to see if the walls actually crumble (or if it was simply the inhabitants going insane from all the damn noise...) Or maybe for his next strategic battle against enemies both domestic and foreign, he could slaughter all the men, children, and animals, but keeping all the virgins alive for he and his men... I mean, it's biblical, so it must be okay for the United States army, right? I mean, as long as those dirty homosexuals aren't around to ruin the biblical fun of raping and pillaging the enemy (all in the name of securing the "promised land," of course...)

Of course, as I said earlier, you'd think the freakin' right-wing and conservatives would be thrilled to let the gays serve in the military: It's getting rid of a sinful scourge in our country *while* killing those evil, evil Iraqi's who supposedly bombed the World Trade Center (and if you still believe Saddam was behind the WTC attacks, I have some ocean-front property in Arizona for sale...)

So, just to make sure poor maligned General Pace isn't misunderstood again, let me summarize for you: You shouldn't have gays in the military; if you do indeed find out that you are a gay in the military, you can stay as long as you tell no one, don't have sex, or at least have the decency to get married... which you can't do 'cause god said so. Henceforth, the new policy for being gay and joining the military will work as such:






I hope that clears up Pace's position on homosexual activity in the military--god forbid he be misrepresented again...

Monday, September 24, 2007

If It Walks Like a Duck...

Not less than two weeks ago, two "scientists" with a preconceived objective tried to prove through a less than 15% success rate that "change is possible for gays." And earlier this week, Ahmadinejad claimed that there were no gays in Iran...

And while they both float naively down the river known as De Nile, the rest of us realize two very important things: Given a few more years of social evolution, the extremist Muslims will be saying the same thing the extremist Christians are saying today; and the extremist Christians wil leither have regressed to today's extremist Muslim actions, or will have died off altogether...
Of course, it all stems from the basic religious premise that being gay is somehow wrong, or sinful, and at the same time a strange type of character flaw that can be wiped away by not more than a few "Our father's" and enough straight sex. (You wouldn't believe how often I've been told "You just need to sleep with the right woman..."--one wonders why it doesn't work the other way around--they just haven't slept with the right man...?)

Either way, both are exercising a blatant ignorance of a basic primal part of all humanity--we are, at our very core, sexual beings. Every single persons life on earth is driven primarily by their sexual orientation--who to live with, who to date, who to spend your life with, who to raise kids with, where to live, how to look, where to be seen and with whom... Some straight people--and a majority of fundamentalists--like to think they are above all this "sex stuff," even though most of their decisions, also, are driven solely by sex (or gender or whatever label you'd like to place here...)

Saying that people can change what the whole world revolves around is like saying we can change what we're breathing if we just try hard enough. Can you imagine is Leviticus had said something like, "And you shalt only breathe 70% oxygen, for 60% is an abomination unto me." Or if it said something to the effect of "Though shalt only use thy right eye for beholding thy neighbors ass, while thus simultaneously not coveting it..." Brings whole new images of Patch the Pirate to mind...

Of course, we all know the idiocy of Ahmadinejad's statement, but you might be saying to yourself, "What is this study Jason's babbling about?"
On September 17, two right-wing psychologists named Mark Yarhouse and Stanton Jones released the results of a "study" funded and backed by Exodus International, the leading brain-washing institution for ruining families and lives on an individual basis. (Not that I have a bias or anything, right?)

Basically, their study consisted of taking 100 people who had entered the Exodus International program to become an Ex-Gay, and to see how many of them were cured of their homosexual demons (and any related accessories...) A clip from an article reporting on the study reported that the study claimed:

Results showed that 15 percent of the sample claimed to have successfully changed their sexual orientation (through phone interview), reporting substantial reduction in homosexual desire and addition of heterosexual attraction. These subjects were grouped as "Success: Conversion." (despite only a *reduction* in homosexual desire... not an elimination of such...)

There were also a higher percentage of people (23 percent) who experienced satisfactory reductions in homosexual desire as they embraced the Christian discipline of chastity. This group is described as "Success: Chastity." (Did anyone bother to think through the fact that--even if you aren't having sex, you are still gay--just as straight people who aren't having sex are still straight...? I hate it when I have to point out the obvious to the misinformed...)

Together, 38 percent of the sample experienced significant change (but not, apparently, chastity...) while another 29 percent experienced only modest change in the desired direction but expressed commitment to continue.

Additionally, 15 percent experienced no change and were conflicted about the future even though they had not given up (doesn't this sound like the previous 29% who "experienced only modest change"...?); 4 percent reported no change, were confused and had given up but did not label themselves as gay (because it *is* all about the label...); and 8 percent reported no change, no pursuit and had entered as gay – a group described as "Failure: Gay Identity."
Further, while the study started out with 98 people, at the time of completion, there were only 73 left... Meaning, of the "15% success rate," only 10.95 people (I'm assuming 11 people) had an "addition" of heterosexual attraction on top of their homosexual attractions (were turned bisexual for all intents and purposes...); 23% (or, 17 people) decided to become monks with homosexual desires; 38% (28 people) felt they had changed "significantly" (however you would like to interpret that...) while an additional 29% (21 people) only had "modest" change (again, interpret as you will...); that left 15% (11 people) pretty much as they were, just now frustrated and confused, and another 4% (3 people) were *also* confused and unsure whether they should even bother with this crappy idea, and 8% (6 people) who actually realized they weren't going to change and didn't need to.

Of course, that totals 97 people... Somewhere along the way, one got lost in the system, I suppose...

So, yes, change *is* possible if you consider being a chaste, bisexually confused, self-loathing and frustrated individual "success"...

Luckily, Iran doesn't have such issues... Although, one has to wonder, if Iran has no gays, why is it illegal, and who the heck are they putting to death for sodomy charges?

Of course, if one is truly loathing of who they are, of course they have the right to want to change themselves--but it shouldn't be at the expense of the rest, at the expense of those who have made peace with a conflict created by a society which refuses to accept the fact that it produces us through no fault of it's own...

On the brighter side, perhaps Iran could find an export business in shipping it's non-existent gays to Christian *reparation* therapy...? Something tells me it would be the start of a relationship built on the common goals of establishing a theocracy and denial of reality...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

... hallowed be thy name...

I'm sorry, but if your entire world view starts with the premise that man is somehow "flawed," and that there is some type of supernatural battle for souls being waged in an alternate universe, OF COURSE you're going to think that the world is going to hell in a pretty little hand basket complete with a lifetime supply of dark chocolate...

BTW, god's name is YHWH, *not* "god." Therefore, saying "Oh my god" is *not* taking "the lord's name in vain," no matter how much you wish it was so; and there's no logical, sane, or reasonable way to portray this (the cultural reference of "Oh my god") as somehow "proof" that there is a god...


Sometimes I think it's amazing I'm sane...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Arrested Development

I first must apologize for my lack of presence in the blogosphere... Between preparing my humble abode for the winter (closing the pool, insulating and plastic-wrapping the windows, cleaning out the coal stove, etc....), dealing with a shit-load of work frying my neurons, and two discussions on other blogs here and here, I've been a tad bit busy...

But a theme has emerged in both of those discussions on those blogs that occupies my mind in the small window of down time I am afforded each evening: That of the view that the bible is historically accurate, scientifically backed, wholly perfect, and infallible...

Yes, yes, I know: the glittery horns of pink unicorns were used as pens, the blood of fairies as ink, on parchment made from elven skin, and so on and so forth, but a vast majority of Christians hold this to be true, most especially among fundie evangelicals, baptists, and other conservative branches of the YHWH-centric United States--and you (well, at least, I) have to wonder where this notion came from, and why it stays so persistent in an age where knowledge of the reality in which we reside is so readily at your fingertips, so affordable at your local college, so obvious to persons who haven't arrested their logical faculties at the level of a Sunday school class for six-year-olds?

Of course, most of us realize the circular logic of the typical fundie in these types of discussion:

Fundie: The bible is the perfect, inerrant word of god.
Joe Schmoe: It is? How do you know?
Fundie: The bible says so.
Joe Schmoe: Who wrote the bible?
Fundie: God wrote it through man kind.
Joe Schmoe: How do you know they were inspired by god?
Fundie: The bible says so.
Ad inifinitum...

And while most of us realize that simply because someone wrote down somewhere that a god told them to, or inspired them, this does not a perfect deity make. Even if we consider the possibility that this book was god inspired (or god-written, word for word), why would god who wants to reveal himself to all mankind through some type of "perfect revelation" choose an easily corruptible literary model as opposed to some form of communication equally accessible to all man kind? Why not do it when the Internet was around, or spam, for that matter? One massive "virus" with a return address of yhwh@heaven.hev, and BAM! Everyone has the gospel message and no one can deny it was sent by the big cheese himself! (Okay, with a small suspension of disbelief...)

Regardless, anyone who has talked to their grandfather and heard the stories of yesteryear knows how quickly "facts" become distorted, ill-remembered, embellished, changed, and dramatized--this is how your "perfect" word of god started out! Add a few hundred years, a group of people desperate for a messiah (read, saviour, or hero...), a bunch of warring empires who connect through the land you think YHWH gave you, and badda-bing, badda-boom, you have a ripe environment and a colossal collaboration of cultures with which to begin recording your ethnic history--and not in a controlled environment, it might be pointed out.

And while one could argue til one is blue in the face with these "infallible word"-minded folk, have you ever noticed how they seem to have frozen their minds in some type of holy ice?

Christians of this persuasion--the "perfect, unchanging, and infallible work of God" persuasion--say things like, "If you don't take it literally, you don't take it seriously!" Or, "If you don't accept it's perfection, you must reject everything within it's patent-leather covers!"

Of course, this is a false argument, but I really want to talk about how, in their efforts to protect, defend, and otherwise weasel obvious facts into Jeremiah-sized puzzle pieces, what they actually end up doing is locking themselves into an arrested state of development...

Not only can they, by their own admission, take the theology set forth only as far as the authors did (as opposed to using their writings as a spring-board to further a personal journey in any direction they feel the "spirit" may be leading them...), this position in turns demands that they cease any type of critical analysis of any thought expressed beyond the somber black cover! Any type of curiosity about the historical context, cultural or sociological overtones, political upheaval at the time--none of it actually means a damn as the bible must still "be taken literally."

But as knowledge--knowledge independent of anything "revealed" in the bible (whether in a scientific, historical, or even psychological realm)--the literalist is forced to withdrawal even further from society and its progression, which, for all practical purposes has already moved way beyond any of the "science" and "history" located within it's pages. Many fundamentalists who defend the "literal interpretation" of their book become less worshippers of god, and more like a Cirque de Sole of the spiritual realm: contorting and rearranging facts and truths in order for their book to remain a vital, integral part of their lives, despite that in doing so, they remove anything "literal" from their reading of it! And, although most of them start out claiming to be followers of YHWH, and of the messiah, most of them end up being more "bible worshippers" than anything else...

And as the followers of the holy book fall further and further behind, it's adherents are forced into one of three options:
  1. Become more rigid, more inflexible, and thus remove oneself further and further from "the world" (much like the Amish)
  2. Adapt and flex their theology, until it morphs into something semi-compatible with the continuing growth of external knowledge (much like "new age" Christianity)
  3. Or leave the faith altogether, but allow for the bible (and other religious texts like it) as a book which documents our past, where we used to be, and how we got to where we are...
There may be a fourth option, but I don't see it at this point. This is still kind of a "mulling over" process as I try to continue to challenge myself, and analyze my journey and where it may eventually lead...

To follow up on Ergo's question, no, I haven't yet read Dawkin's book, although I certainly keep hearing a ton about it. Perhaps one of the dear readers here who shop for Xmas and my birthday will take note of the title? (The God Delusion...)

Or even maybe a Borders gift certificate? :D

I'm actually just starting a book entitled "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life..." I expect it to keep me busy for quite some time!! And of course, there are several more on the list in addition to Dawkin's book... Hopefully, winter will afford me plenty of time for reading and for playing a little GameCube... We'll see how it goes.... :D

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Christians Want an Apology...

Not from god (although, seriously? He owes them big-time...), but from Kathy Griffin, who, upon the acceptance of her Emmy award stated the following:

"Can you believe this shit? I guess hell froze over... a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. So, all I can say is, 'suck it, Jesus.' This award is my god now."
I'd give her a big "Amen!", but then they'd probably be after me to apologize as well.

What, specifically, is their beef with her remarks? According to Catholic League President Bill Donohue, her remarks were:

[...] vulgar, in-your-face brand of hate speech.
And here I thought the right wing was against laws that made "hate speech" illegal...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Forming a Picture...

In a recent conversation over on Memoirs of an Ex-Christian, a user named Laughing Boy made the following statement:

I understand why atheists feel this way.

They believe life is all there is. Once you die it's all over. Anything that causes suffering in this life is bad. When life ends, all possibilities cease. Anything that shortens life, anything that causes us to feel pain or sadness is bad. If God exists He just wants His human pets to be happy and contented.

To obtain this view, the atheist has considered, in a very elementary way, a couple aspects God—omnipotence and goodness—while ignoring all the other concepts that necessarily go along with the Christian concept of God—free will, sin and its consequences, eternal life, ultimate purposes, etc. With this distorted view of God as a foundation, the atheist is dumbfounded that anyone could believe that such a god exists.

I understand. A god so conceived is either nonsensical or evil.
There are more issues here than in Senator Craig's family, that's for sure...

The very first issue, of course, is this basic premise that omnipotence is an "elementary" concept when really, it's the basic concept: No omnipotence, not a god. Without this tenant, any type of god isn't--well, a god!

Further, the second "elementary" concept stated is the "goodness" factor--and let's face it--most people wouldn't want to worship something they didn't consider good, now would they? Again, the supposed "goodness" of the Christian god is also a basic concept--one that, without it, he wouldn't really be the god Christians make him out to be!

These two concepts that Laughing Boy is so quick to say are "elementary" (Are you also picturing him smoking a pipe on a foggy London cobble-stone street under a gas lamp wearing a trench coat trying to solve a crime?) are THE driving forces behind the worship and faith of the Christian god: Supposedly, he created (hence, all powerful, aka omnipotent) everything, including man, out of love and for his glory; and then he supposedly let his kid die so that we could all worship at his feet in heaven for eternity (hence, goodness). Without either one, you don't have the Christian god so many are willing to proselytize, worship, and convert others for! To say that boiling god down to his supposedly "elementary" qualities is not "an accurate assessment" is to miss the point. After all, without either hearts or brains, we wouldn't have life, and hence, we wouldn't be human; even to only have one would not be a life.

Hence, for a god to not have both omnipotence and goodness means he isn't a god!

At the very least, he's a supernatural being on a ego trip. At the most, he is a psychological imagination that speaks to our deepest fears and wildest hopes--that this life isn't all we have...

Saying that we aren't factoring in "enough" of god to form a picture of who he is isn't the problem--it's the fact that god can't logically or reasonably live up to what he's supposed to be is the core issue, the real issue--and if god can't meet the basic requirements (omnipotence and goodness), there really isn't much more to discuss, is there?

As Kevin correctly surmised:

I've been taught that you look after the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and that we should not be concerned about our basic needs because you care far more for us. But Father, do you not care for those thousands of individuals who die annually in Africa from disease and chronic starvation? Why do you meet my needs, but not theirs? Aid organisations work around the clock to fight what seems like a loosing battle, but I do not see you helping them in any way.

I'm beginning to think, Father, that you are either incapable of helping, unwilling to help, or ignorant of what is going on. If you are unwilling to help, how can I have any respect for you: an all-powerful being that can make all the difference, but willingly chooses not to do so?

How can I love you, Father, if this is what you are?
As Douglass Adams would say, That About Wraps It Up for God...

Sunday, September 2, 2007

"I'm Not Gay, But My Bathroom Habits Are..."
UPDATED 9/5/07

Yeah, I'm sure you all think this is old news by now, but being a day late and a dollar short as I always am (and having been on vacation from the world while I get things done around my house on my working vacation...), I just heard about this fiasco this morning...

And while none of us here in the real world are shocked that yet another Republican who has been a bastion of "morals" and "family values" for most of his political career turns out to be a hypocrite, what is amazing at the extremely quick knee-jerk reaction from the right-wing party of compassion and love to get rid of the closet-case as quickly as possible. I mean, his toe-tapping mating call happened on June 11, he pleaded an innocent guilty on August 1, and almost exactly one month later, the man is forced to resign while simultaneously trying to shoe-horn himself back into a closet that just won't have him anymore...

Of course, when "rumors" and "allegations" surfaced at least a year ago about some same-sex encounters between Senator Craig and others, a few persons of the moral majority were all up in arms that we liberals were smearing and lying about a good family man... See here and here for just two examples...

Now that he's been busted, he at first did the honorable thing: he pleaded guilty! He was going to accept the punishment for soliciting sex in a public area, and put the whole thing in the past--there's just one problem with that: You can't have your cake and eat it too. Between his atrocious anti-gay voting track record and his insistence that "he's not gay," one has to wonder: why in the hell did you then plead guilty?! Who in their right mind pleads GUILTY to something they claim they didn't do?!

Well, besides a liar...

Now he's accepted the Republican leaderships decision that he resign (even though he still claims to no longer be guilty), what is the point of this while fiasco?

It's not really the fact that he's gay--that really only bothers conservatives and moral majority morons. It's not even the fact that he lied--most of we homosexuals have lied for a period of time about who we are to friends and family before finally accepting the truth of who we are and sharing that with others. We are generally a forgiving group of people, because most of us have been there, done that, and celebrate when an angel gains its wings! I'm not even bothered by the fact that he's a Republican--after all, I vote for Arlen Specter! What bothers me is this digging in of the heels, the perpetuation of the lie, and the continued harm to himself, his family, and above all, his gay constituents.

Perhaps he forgot the words of his good book: "The truth shall set you free." And while most of the so-called good book can be thrown out with the bathwater, there are still those lil nuggets of wisdom and truth that every man should live by... And not just when it's convenient for the party line...

So "intent" apparently has a different definition in "politico" world than in the real world. Not only can't he keep his toe-tapping hormones to himself, he can't dial a phone to save his life! When he tried to call his lawyer to let him know he was adding "intent" to the so-called apology, he inadvertently left it on someone else's voice mail (you can easily find a clip of this recording on YouTube...). And the reason for adding "intent"? He wants to retract his "guilty" plea, and instead plead guilty to a lesser charge (as if pleading guilty "to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct" wasn't a good enough deal from not pleading guilty to "gross misdemeanor interference to privacy"...)

What should be interesting to note is that when the "not gay" senator plead guilty, the following statements were conditions of his confession:

  • I did the following: Engaged in conduct which I knew or should have known tended to arouse alarm or resentment of others which conduct was physical (versus verbal) in nature.
  • I understand that the court will not accept a plea of guilty from anyone who claims to be innocent.
  • I now make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty.

He signed his name to these statements; now he wants to backpedal out of it the same way he probably backpedaled out of the stall when he realized he was hitting up a police officer...

Of course, his kids had the following statement to make after a long, in-depth conversation with their father:

"We've known him our whole life. He has been so trustworthy to us, so honest to us, that we believe him," Michael Craig said.
You know what's really sad? All of my siblings and parents would have said the same thing about me in my pre-coming out years. Wouldn't have believed it to save their lives! Why?

When we're in the closet, we become phenomenal actors. I could have won more than one Emmy, let me tell you. Now a person who's been in a closet for 50+ years? Good god, they should get the triple crown of entertainment trophies: Tony, Emmy, AND Oscar!! Being in the closet makes lying second nature. More than second nature: it's a survival mechanism for something we feel is life-threatening, and it becomes primary nature.

I feel so badly for his wife and kids... I would feel sorry for him, but he's made his bed... Not that he'll lie in it--politicians have a way of wiggling out of these things and pretending they smell like roses...

So while the good Senator continues to convince his family and his god and his constituents that he's straighter than Robin Hood's arrows, the rest of us know the truth. Those of us who have been there, done that...

For someone who claims to be a man of moral character and family values, like most of the others, lying is the least bad sin in his book--after all, nothing could be worse than being gay, right? I mean, that's in the top ten... Isn't it?