Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Religion killed God. FML.

So I'm really starting to think that religion as a whole has secularized our conception of God until it's just pretty much null and void.
You know that ridiculous, cuddly image of God that I'm having such issues with?
Yep. It comes from that. We've so distorted God based on what we want him to be, completely ignoring the all powerful, fear inspiring aspects of God. I want the God of Blake, the God of Milton, the God of Job, the God of Ezekiel, the God of Isaac, a God worth wondering about, worth being overwhelmed by, a God I CANNOT understand.

I've started to think that maybe the best way to connect with God is through reading thought provoking spiritual literature, thinking, and talking, through nature, through relationships with others, through love, through lust, through just BEING ALIVE, rather than sitting in a room listening to people who think they understand God regurgitate a lot of rather useless over-interpreted and de-contextualized statements about God and the Bible.

At any rate, I'm pretty sure most modern Protestant interpretation is a whole lot of bullshit over all. Or at least, in my experience.

Also, the next person who tells me men should be in charge of women based on Biblical precedent is in for a talking to. The women of the Bible are smarter, stronger, more ingenious, and more devout than most of their male counterparts. And the letters of Paul don't count for jack shit as far as I'm concerned. (Especially since he probably didn't write all of the things we ascribe to him!) Though I do like the part in Galatians about how in Christ there is no differentiation between male or female, slave or free. That part was good. But that's another post for another day.

And I still want to be a religion major in spite of all of my current issues with contemporary organized religion...FML.

I'm thinking I just want to reject the modern protestant church and do my own studying, learning, loving, lusting, talking, singing, dancing, etc.

You know that song by the Fray, "You Found Me"? It's like that. I want to find God where he is, not where other people claim he is. I want to find WHO or WHAT he is, rather than what people have decided he is. So I'm going to find God on the corner of 1st and Amistad, or on the Green, or on my hall, or at least I'm damn sure going to try. Sure, I'm pretty certain you can have God moments or connect with God in a church, but the tide seems to have turned within the organized church in a way that renders God oddly overly familiar, oddly overly positive, and well, all too reasonable.

Anyways, that was my rant for the day! Can you tell I was just reading the Marriage of Heaven and Hell? :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

thoughts on the sexiest book of the Bible

I forget how SEXY Song of Songs is. If I smoked, I'd need a cigarette after reading it.

Admittedly, no actual sex occurs within Song of Songs, but the language and even the images and metaphors are incredibly erotic. Not to mention a garden setting which of course evokes thoughts of Eden. And that it can be read as a great covenanted romance between God and Israel makes it all the more beautiful. The fluidity, the inconsistencies create this almost surreal, dream-like state for readers, not just the characters within. Yes, I'm not giving any specifics right now; you're more than welcome to read the book yourself though, and you'll see what I mean! But it also is almost midnight at home in the Mid-Atlantic, and I spent about 3 hours today reading about this so I'm a little brain dead.

I hadn't read any of it in a few years, and well...reading it and understanding the ovewhelming intensity of feelings, the sexual current pulsing through the text has been an eye opening experience. As I process this, I may post more, but for now WOWWWWWW. What a sexually liberating text overall, at least in its celebration of the physical in conjunction with the emotional.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yep. People suffer.

I'm really sick of this super fluffy cuddly idea of God we've got going.
I'm tired of sitting in Quakerism class and people going "but God is can he let people suffer?"

UM HELLO. Have you ever read anything in the Bible? The God of the Hebrew Bible at least is not super cuddly. In fact, he's not exactly slow to anger. He and Israel have a bit of a love-hate thing going on (Admittedly, he's very just in this case). Israel f's up; God punishes them.

Even Moses didn't get to the Promised Land, though he did get to see it. In the NT, Jesus suffers. Other characters who suffer: Miriam suffers. Esther suffers. Ruth suffers. Paul suffers. The Egyptians suffer. Orpah suffers. Heck, Job, the one character who manages to hold God accountable, suffers and he's supposedly an incredible person. Throughout the Bible, the main figures suffer again and again and again, often, at the hands of God or via things God supposedly controls, be they good or bad.

The thing is, suffering's a part of life. To characterize God as some namby pamby being who just loves us all so much and that's all he missing half the picture. And honestly, I don't want to serve that God. I'd vastly prefer a God with a backbone, a God who has ideals, a God who is an active God, or what we call in my English class "a historical God" (e.g. a God who influences history and has played a key role in major events). I want a God who wants me to be a better person because he cares about me, not a God who cares about me so much that he'll let me settle for less than my best and that he'll just keep me from living a normal human life, which includes suffering.

Sometimes I get so angry at God, especially when I see how much people around me are suffering or when I realize how much someone has suffered. You know how it is...that look of utter desperation in somebody's eyes or the slight shift in pitch of their voice as their memory snags on some particularly painful recollection. It hurts so much to see that, especially when you know the person suffering is what you would consider a "good person." It is absolutely heart-wrenching, or at times, even heart-breaking.

Sometimes I even look back at things I've been through, which are extraordinarily minor on the grand scale of suffering, and I get angry. And then the questions come - "how could He let this happen if He cares about me?" God loves us enough to let us learn, to make our own choices, to choose again and again if we want to turn to doubt or to faith in the light of our circumstances. He gave us free will, all of us, and in dealing with the consequences and joys of that, we find our greatest strengths, and some of us are lucky enough to find our faith strengthened in turn. We can grow from our suffering, or we can crumble and give in to it. And either way, He's there. In the pain and in the final relief from the pain, and in every resurgence of every bad memory, he's there.

God doesn't owe me happiness. God doesn't owe me anything. Hell, he made me; I owe him. And I'm damn sure not going to expect things from Him or presume that He ought to behave in a certain way. And if my heart's going to get broken through my own pain or through knowing of others' incredible suffering, I'm just going to hope that it's somehow for some greater good, just as every Bible character's suffering ultimately led to the culmination of biblical history in the death and resurrection of Jesus (I'm not comparing myself to Jesus. I just hope that in some small scale way that my earthly role helps somebody somehow, or at least fulfills God's intentions).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mobilizing the Largely Silent Majority

I have been speaking up extensively on facebook this last few weeks about the death of Lydia Schatz and the complicity of Michael and Debi Pearl and their "ministry" in the events and practices that lead to her death. It has taken me a bit longer to formulate what else I wanted to say here beyond what my friend Rebecca allowed me to share back on February 15th. I am coming to believe that the only way to stop this insanity is to figure out a way to mobilize the largely silent majority within both the Christian community and within the subset of that community that chooses to home educate our children.

It is a sad truth that homeschoolers in the mainstream media are known for two things 1) winning the national spelling bees and other academic competitions and 2) abusing our children in the name of God. What makes this all the more tragic is that BOTH of these sterotypes represent the smallest of minorities among the homeschoolers that I know.

I know dozens of families that are homeschooling special needs children because of the damage that "No Child Left Behind" did to programs that actually gave special needs children meaningful help. These children will never win the national spelling bee most likely but by being educated at home, at great sacrifice to the parents who often have to pay for private services and therapies which would be provided if their children were enrolled in government schools, they are at least being given a chance to thrive to the extend of their limitations. Something that, at least in our large urban district, is not happening anymore in the schools where these children are expected to successfully pass the standardized tests that are the be all end all under NCLB. We have known more than one administrator to advise these parents to homeschool because having their special needs child in the school would bring down the scores.

More importantly though I know of hundreds of homeschool families across the country who practice attachment parenting and grace based discipline and for whom the use of corporal punishment is utterly repugnant. I know dozens more who are radical unschoolers and who practice a philosophy called TCS or non-coercive parenting (I'm not one of them but I know them) with their children.

There are large numbers of us who sit silently in our churches while we hear the lie that spanking our children is "biblically commanded" preached from the pulpit because we know that opening our mouth before our children are a certain age will result in what was considered normal childhood behavior being looked at as evidence that we have ruined our child by not obeying this false gospel. We shudder when materials by James Dobson, Gary Ezzo, John Rosemond, Tedd Tripp and even Michael and Debi Pearl are passed out to impressionable new parents or worse taught wholesale in parenting classes to years and years of parents within our churches. But we stay silent to protect our own children from the disapproving sneers that happen when everything they do is viewed through the lens of the knowledge that they are not among the majority who are being raised "god's way". I'm sorry but the God I serve is not the god they are preaching so I refuse to dignify that god with a capital letter.

My child is finally of an age that I feel that I can speak out without social repercussions to her. All but the most extreme of the "beat them for Jesus" gurus pales at the idea of using their methods on a pubescent child. Appropriately so since what they are recommending, if done between non-consenting adults or by an adult to an unrelated child, is called sexual battery. Of course there will be a subset of people we know that will look at every adolescent mistake she makes and blame it on her lack of "training" as a toddler.

That is one of the lies these people sell to parents. The lie that what you extinguish in the toddler you've avoided in the teen. Let me tell you as someone that has worked with teens for all of my adult life and been around teens literally since my birth, that is NOT the case. I have seen the crisis point arrive in these families when the child is suddenly "too old to spank" and the parents realize they have lost their "big gun" and have to totally relearn, now with an angry adolescent rather than an impressionable preschooler how to establish their authority. Too often they find that what authority they thought they possessed is now lost along with most of what influence they had as well. They ignored the caution in Ephesians not to exasperate their children and now they are reaping the rewards of having followed a false gospel instead of the true gospel.

With the Pearl's the scripture twisting goes even further than most. I fail to understand how anyone with a shred of biblical knowledge can swallow the false gospel that Michael Pearl preaches. When he teaches that sinless perfection can be attained in this life, he lies and the truth is not in him. "For if anyone claims he is without sin he lies and the truth is not in him." 1 John 1:8 (NIV paraphrased) Worse he makes Christ out to be a liar as well. "If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." 1 John 1:10 (NIV). When he claims that parents can remove their children's guilt by application of the rod, he lies and the truth is not in him. Only the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to do that. Wrath does not lead to salvation. 1Th 5:9 "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ"

We must mobilize the silent majority. Those among us who know that what Michael Pearl teaches is a false gospel and whatever "good" there might be to be found in sifting through his teachings it is utterly contaminated by the false gospel in which it is couched and on which it is based. We must stand up and say ENOUGH! We must find our voices and say once and for all that parenting advice that has to caution the parents against taking it to abusive extremes is NOT godly parenting advice no matter how much scripture we throw into it or how many pretty words about tying heartstrings we mix into it. We must stand up, especially as homeschool parents, and say NO! This is NOT why we homeschool. This is NOT ok. This is ABUSE and when we know it is happening to children in other homeschool families we need to hold ourselves to the same mandated reporting laws that the government schools hold their teachers too and speak for the children. This is NOT a "difference in parenting style". This is ritual abuse of children and we MUST NOT continue to sanction it by our silence.