Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Sorry it's been a while.  
Anyway, in a departure from my usual fare, which often veers off into bitching and moaning about how far afield I am from modern Christianity and my woes, trials, and short, the incipient lack of a spine I had eight months ago...I'm going to touch on a subject that's come up a few times in the last week.

I'm sure you've all heard the phrase, "The beauty of a pun is in the oy of the beholder."

No, wait, not that one.  That's Spider Robinson's quote. 

 No, this phrase:

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

We all find different things beautiful for different reasons and in different ways, basically.  This isn't just a static condition, either; it changes over time and life experience.  For the longest time, my brother was holding out hope of finding a 4'10" Japanese gymnast with red hair and D-cups; now, years later, he has moved on to "not bony or gelatinous, and not crazy."

The media and Hollywood give us images of tall, rail-thin, boyish-framed females as an "ideal"; history of the last 50 years shows that Twiggy is alive and well in today's models, even if they have to kill themselves to do it, in some cases resorting to drugs, starvation, and brutal exercise to maintain the "ideal" body weight and shape.  And if the model can't fit that, or just doesn't, they'll resort to lighting, camera angles, or just plain Photoshop the fuck out of the pictures.  Check this out:

Why bother with makeup, hairdressing, plastic surgery, and blemishes when you can just take a model CLOSE to what you want and completely redo her in Photoshop?

Anyway, this video also illustrates how the "ideal" is put out there:  If you're not skinny with unnaturally flawless features, disproportionate measurements achievable only by surgery, and the right skin tone du jour, you're not "beautiful".  Teens and adults diet and drug themselves to death, assuming they can't also afford to nip/tuck themselves into caricatures of a human right along with it. 

I've done my best to instill in my kids that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about their looks or their bodies; they'll never be happy if THEY are not happy with how they are, and fuck the world to tell 'em different.

The most important aspect of the "Eye of the beholder" quote is that we're our harshest critics when we look in the mirrors or at ourselves in any other way..."Beholder" encompasses us as well.

The fashion and beauty industries worship symmetry.  What this is teaching our children is that superficial and fake is king; it's teaching them that if they're not perfect they're without value or beauty and are unlovable.  It's teaching them that the opinions of others regarding themselves matter, even to their own detriment.  I'm not saying that we should discard the opinions of others out of hand; there are some people that occasionally have good ideas.


Sorry, my inner INTJ got loose there for a second.

Anyway, the point is to test the opinion with critical thinking:  Is this position of theirs regarding my body and appearance healthy? Is it even FEASIBLE?  Is it what I want?  Do they have my best interests at heart?

That last one is a BIG one, and the crux of the "beauty" industry; they want to sell you stuff, and they'll misrepresent, mislead, and misdirect you every chance they can if it means a buck.

Now, the flip side to how we see ourselves is how we see others, going back to the "eye of the beholder" thing.

Hey.  I'm a guy.  I check out women.  I think they're beautiful, and I like looking at them.

Personally, I take each woman as an individual; one woman might have appealing legs, or mesmerizing eyes, or a sharp wit, or aesthetically shaped breasts or bum, or completely average looks with a quick wit, humor, and mind.  Every woman is different and more than the sum of her parts.  You'll also note I didn't put boundaries or define my criteria:  I said "appealing", "mesmerizing", and "aesthetically shaped".  These are things that matter to me, subjectively, and can vary and change between each person; one woman's green eyes might look much better in her face than green eyes in another person.  A woman might appeal to me in every way physically, and as soon as she opens her mouth and speaks I lose interest; a woman might be plain and unremarkable, but possess an utterly captivating mind capable of engaging me in conversations for hours and hours.  

There's no one thing, there's no specific group of things...rather, it's an aggregation of several things, a totality, and it varies person to person.  Also, none of this predicates a judgment of something being wrong with them...just not a preference or appealing in this subjective instance to me.  We have to try and see past the facades we construct for ourselves.

Be comfortable in your own skin.  Love people for things that matter, not just some arbitrary criteria like weight, hair color, or BMI...

And that includes yourself.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Walking Dead

Author's Note: I wrote this a LONG time ago. I've edited it to reflect my current beliefs.

A zombie is a creature that is neither alive nor fully dead, capable of locomotion but devoid of any feeling, emotion, care, or reason, existing with only one primal desire:  Hunger.

Yeah, I know, they're not real.  They're a pop culture myth with roots going back centuries, and very popular these days, but still...not real.  But go along with this as a concept anyway, hm?

People often call them evil; they are certainly not part of any natural order, but evil?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Evil is many things, the easiest and most cowardly philosophically defined as that which is not "good".  But without the ability to reason and to choose any other nature, can they be called evil?  If you call them "evil", then sharks are evil; they are devoid of feeling, emotion, care, or reason, and exist solely as a predator, driven by nothing else than a desire to survive and feed...hunger, if you will.

I give this description because I'm going to make a comparison here that's going to be, depending on your belief or faith, or lack thereof, either entertaining or offensive.

I didn't intend for this blog to turn into one that focused solely on religion and the Christian faith, but with life events that have occurred over the last seven years, it HAS kind of turned out that way.  The incidents, and ideas, have weighed heavily on my mind and heart/soul.  It's been a test of faith for me, unlike any that have happened before, even when I struggled with the very idea that Jesus was the Son of God.

This isn't going to focus on that, though I am willing to discuss it with anyone that wishes.  I no longer call myself a Christian.  

Now, I find myself questioning more than I ever did when I was a Christian; "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling", indeed.

Because of this journey, which hasn't been easy AT ALL, I find myself disillusioned by the Christian church as a whole.  "The Church" as an entity is made up of fallible and flawed people, of which I am one.  I make no claims to perfection.  I make no claim to being "good" or especially "Christ-like" in much I say or do.

What I DO say and do is the best I can do.  I do my best.  I try.  I at one time, long ago, accepted Jesus as Savior, and even Lord, though lately it's been more akin to a feudal relationship than the Biblical example of a marriage relationship.  He may be Lord, yes, but I cannot relate to Him.  I believe that ascribing human traits to Him, even though He lived among us, is not only futile but foolish; if I hold to a belief that He is God, then how can my limited understanding comprehend Him as God?  Much of what we know of Him and believe is through the Bible; the church today is built around precepts He taught and said, based on historical record, and by the teachings and letters of those followers that lead the new Christian faith after His ascension.

This is where things start unraveling for me.

First, Christians believe the Bible is the Divinely inspired Word of God.  I used to believe this as well, but over time and living, prayer and living, living and living, I've run into some snags.  Which version is the Divine inspired Word?  They can't all be; there are contradictions!  Concepts are redefined as newer translations come out, clarifying points and spots; in many ways, this has made some things more clear, but there are still some that are not quite there.  What about those?

The overall compilation (yes, compilation) is a collection of stories, histories, and ideas that have been around for thousands of years.  It is ethnocentric, focused on us Jews as the Chosen People of God, then broadening in the B'rit Hadashah, the New Testament, to include all peoples that believe and accept Jesus, as Paul taught.  The ethnocentrism subtly shifted to the Chosen People now being anyone that accepts Him through belief.  But all of the original authors that are included with VERY few exception were Jews, raised in a patriarchal culture that subjugated women, kept slaves, WERE slaves, and oppressed at every turn.  No one ever questions the unavoidable bias this MUST include.

Why not?

Christians typically view the Bible as LAW, Rule #1 if you will, even when told that it should not be a hard and unyielding law.  They live with the zealot's belief that no other possible avenue could be true; if in doubt, see Rule #1.  "God (the Bible) said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" is a comment I've heard so many times in life.  At one point even I believed that, though I amended it further to be, "If God said it, that settles it."  My belief didn't enter into the equation; after all, if He said it and it was fact, my belief was secondary.

The issue with such unwavering conviction is that if you accept the Bible as Divinely inspired Word, then it must ALL be accepted, not just certain parts.  Christians today use the famed "clobber scriptures" to call down proverbial fire on homosexuals, all the while ignoring the parts that are inconvenient, writing them off as not relevant because the laws have changed:  Slaves, anyone?  Kill all the unbelievers, man, woman, child, and burn their places to the ground?  "Oh, that's Old Testament!"  Ok, let's look at the New then.

The New Testament addresses treatment of slaves, though modern translations have softened that to "servants".  The New Testament says that unless you're a born Jew, and thus a goyim (Gentile) you are only bound to not eat food offered to idols, eating blood, eating something strangled, and sexual immorality.

How very odd!

Ok, the first three are really easy...much of that was culturally based anyhow; food isn't really offered to idols anymore, I'm not fond of eating blood anyway, and what meat is strangled when killed today?  That leaves sexual immorality...some define this as fornication, most leave it as the all inclusive original.

But what IS sexual immorality?  Topless beaches are normal in France.  Here, you'd be arrested and called a sinner for it.  Baptists say dancing leads to sexual immorality, as does alcohol.  Pentecostals believe it's immoral to cut your hair, wear slacks, and wear makeup if you're female.  Even more telling, if you go by what the Bible says is immoral, you'd end up with a society nearly like radical Islam at the worst extreme, but repressive at best.  It's illegal to have more than one wife in most places, and illegal and/or immoral to have sexual relations outside of that single bond...yet most Christians gloss over the multiple wives and concubines many Jewish men had.

Ok, true, but then doesn't that mean the Bible might be wrong?  "Oh, that was then!  That's not acceptable today." So, some things acceptable then aren't today, and some that weren't, are?  Who decides, if the Bible is the infallible Word of God?

Where am I going with all of this?  And didn't this start with zombies?

Well, yeah.  Ok, here goes...

Most Christians follow the Bible without question; it's the Word of God.  They take any message pumped out from a pulpit, accept it, and never question, trusting the Holy Spirit to ensure the message they receive is from God.  After all, even if it SOUNDS flawed like some Biblical contradictions, the Spirit will make sure it turns out ok.  (Actually, I do (did?) believe that to a point...I just don't accept that an all knowing, all seeing God would allow His Divine Word to be so haphazard...since I believe in the infallibility of God, then the haphazard Bible isn't His Divine Word. His Spirit can still use it...God uses cracked pots!  But calling something perfect and divine when it's not denigrates the very all powerful God you claim to worship, as He would not, indeed COULD NOT allow shoddy work to reflect Him.  As the old saying goes, you can't get pure water from polluted sources.  To which the religious zealot then claims the miraculous, and you're just wasting time at that can't convince a fanatic.)

Since they do not question, they follow it to the letter.  Gays are going to hell, masturbation is a sin, drinking is a sin, compromise.  Very little, if any, reason or logic.

In short, Christians, AS MOST TODAY LIVE, are little more than Walking Dead...zombies.

There's no thought, or at least very little independent thought.  If you aren't like them, they shun you, ignoring you.  Their only focus is their walk with God, much like a zombie ignores other zombies in their pursuit of flesh.  Their hunger for a deeper walk with Jesus often blinds them to the poor, hurting, hungry, scarred, injured, etc at their feet, stepping on them, unseeing.  The typical Church person means well, they really do...but the religion, the rules, the law has leeched all life from their actions (not all...some, like the church I left, actually do a good job for the right reasons).  Even the good they do many times is tarnished because they do it for the wrong reasons; most Christians do good works for reward in Heaven, not for salvation.  

Poor, blind Pharisees.

It's not the work that garners reward.  It's the giving heart, the love, the LIFE from faith and trust in Jesus that allows the same good works to be done, but for the right reasons.  The precious few do works because it's the Life in them that leads them to do good, and the reward they may get in the afterlife is because of the condition of their heart, not the works done for misguided selfishness.

The Bible, THEIR OWN BIBLE, calls those "Dead Works", and spells out the issues with doing works for all the wrong reasons, or having an impetus from the wrong source.

Dead works from dead hearts and dead minds; it's not for no reason I say the Christian Majority might as well be zombies...they're Walking Dead.