29.2.08

Enjoy

A little goodnight to all in the blogo-realm.

28.2.08

Failure not Pharisee

I had an interesting conversation a couple of days ago.

In the conversation, my friend deemed someone as "pretending to be a Christian" based on a mistake made by the person.

I was baffled. It seems that the only way to "pretend to be a Christian" is to pretend to be perfect. My faith is based on my acknowledgment of imperfection. I daily live out a major aspect of my faith as I daily fail. This is foundational.

Slowly, the Christian faith seems to have been distorted. (An aside, I am not blaming my friend for the distortion of Christianity, our conversation just brought this to the forefront of my mind.) Reading about Jesus moving from sinner to sinner, failure to failure seems to have lost its impact. Jesus laid it down for the Pharisess, a bunch of folks pretending to be holy and yet dealt with those who admitted their failure with grace and compassion. Why then, are Christians constantly pretending to be perfect?

I'm not criticizing Christian's who strive to be perfect. That's great. I'm criticizing Christians who refuse to be open about their failures. Through being open about our failures, we invite the grace of God. Isn't that why we all hopped on the Christian faith to begin with? Give God the chance to dish out some grace.

And in the same vain, as Christians fail, give them grace. What a beautiful thing! Having failure met with grace, not judgment, not the evaluation of a person's faith. Our faith exists in our failure.

I think of the books that have touched me most. They are not by lofty theologians, but by men and women who are open about how hard all this is. It is hard. Sometimes, it seems very impossible. How refreshing to express that.

I so want to see this faith removed from the hands of the Pharisees and once again used to satisfy the hurts of the failures. I think that's what is was supposed to be.

Good things in Princeton

Wouldn't this be creepy if it was about the girl I obsessed over all through high school who went to Princeton?

Yeah it would. That's why I only write about that in my diary with the lock.

Here's a sweet article giving a broad, livable definition of feminism to all those "I'm not a feminist, but.." folks out there published in the Princeton newspaper.

Check it out. I like it.

Speak on it!

Over the summer, I worked at a coffee shop. One afternoon, an older man wearing a green T-shirt sauntered into the store to grab a warm beverage. When he got to the cash register where I was ready to take his order, I noticed that his green T-shirt had some text on it. It was some sexual innuendo dealing with his leprechaun and a pot of gold.

I felt uncomfortable. The shirt was pretty crass, and it creeped me out that he was walking around with a shirt that told about his business. After I served him (in a non-pot of gold kind of way), I thought, “If I was uncomfortable, I bet that shirt makes a lot of other people uncomfortable, as well.”

So why didn’t I say anything? I wasn’t really afraid of confrontation. I mean, the guy is wearing a dirty shirt about leprechauns — I feel like I could have won a verbal sparring match against him.

I think I didn’t say anything because it’s his right to wear whatever he wants, including really bizarre and sexual things. It seems my reasoning is common. Out of respect for freedom of expression, a freedom most of us cherish, many are hesitant to speak against the expression of others.

In her book “Pornified,” Pamela Paul cites this hesitancy as one of the major reasons people tend to be silently critical of media rather than openly challenge damaging messages being sent daily. I agree with Paul’s assertion, but I think it also extends to our own relationships.

So often, we are confronted with oppressive expression that we leave unchecked.
This is tragic because both the personal rights activists and the equality activists are allowing inequality and oppression to be the loudest voice in the name of the thing being supported.

But, we should openly respond is the freedom of expression belongs to us, as well, and, by using our freedom of expression, we can only strengthen that right.
In the context of speaking out against pornography, Gloria Steinem wrote in her essay “Erotica vs. Pornography” the following:

“When we protest against pornography and educate others about it, as I am doing now, we are strengthening the First Amendment by exercising it.”

It’s not about limiting their freedom of expression. It’s about using ours. So, while that guy had the right to wear his dirty T-shirt, I have rights, too. I have the right to say, “Your shirt’s dumb, and it makes me feel weird.”

I wish I had.

Are we living in different worlds?

Here's an article about the apparently super-hyped rape culture myth floating around college campuses.

As you've probably figured - I take major issue with this. I'll make my complaints in bullet form (oh yeah, I'm stretching my blogger muscles):
  • MacDonald refers to campus efforts to stop rape as an "industry." To me, this connotes profits. Oh, how untrue. Fighters of rape get paid poorly, work incredibly hard, and undergo an immense amount of emotional strain. To paint there efforts as opportunistic and selfish is astoundingly offensive. These people who have commit such time to a serious issue deserve more respect. Language is important. The language used here pisses me off (contradictory to discuss importance of language and then say piss, maybe? But, I'm blogging, don't we get to do that kind of stuff?).
  • She then alludes to the fact that radical feminism is "self-indulgent". Interesting. Desiring basic human rights and a social acceptance of equality? Self-indulgent? Come on.
  • Later in the article, she addresses rape-culture. She argues this concept was conjured up by a bunch of feminist academics looking for a problem. See, we differ here. Because I think rape-culture is created by the hordes of violent pornography, the incessant objectification of women in pop culture, and the general lack of concern for rape victims and their pain.
  • Like all anti-end of rapers out there, she then blames the victims for "slutty" and "boorish" behavior. I so wish people could understand that no degree of sluttiness grants someone the right to force sex upon another person. This logic is not only absurd but also dangerous.
Ultimately, I think it's a bunch of crap. Another revamp of Katie Roiphe's The Morning After. It's a bummer. A big bummer. If she heard the stories I've heard, looked into the eyes of victims, had friend after friend detail their experiences of sexual assault I think she may think differently. Or maybe, she still wouldn't care. The ivory tower is comfortable, but wow can it limit your vision.

Thoughts

Thoughts written about my experience as a member of a class which meets within a prison with inmates (inside students):


As the outside students walked out of the jail, we breathed deeply. The air inside the jail is dirty, thick. The cool air seemed to refresh us all, even cleanse us. Some of us spoke about the inside students asking us about the weather. What seems to be a trivial conversation topic is in fact a fascinating discussion. Sadly, this is only because they don’t feel the weather. Rain is interesting. The rise and drop of temperatures is a novelty. I think I understood freedom just a little more. Freedom seems to be not noticing what you don’t have. I’m not sure this makes sense. They are so aware of all the things they are missing. They are not free. I simply have those things. I have touch. I have the weather. I have friends, internet, television, parents, a future, dreams, and clothes. I have freedom. I’m free to feel the weather and free to not take notice. This is so convoluted. But, isn’t that what this is all supposed to be? They committed crimes. I shouldn’t feel bad. But, then, they ask me about the weather and I do. I don’t feel guilty, only guilty that if I were in their position I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. That’s disturbing.

I walk out of the jail and I hate the system that’s given me so much. I’m white. I’m straight. I’m male. I’m educated. My family has money. I’m always going to be on the upside. And, I hate it. Breathing in that deep air, I hate it. I want so badly to become black and woman and poor and see if I’d still be who I am. I hate it. I hate that people aren’t people in this system. I hate that no one cares that those women are breathing thick dirty air. I hate that I love that I only have to breathe that thick dirty air for two hours a week. And, I hate that I’m not sure any of it has much to do with me.

15.2.08

Dirty Fonda


So, you know Jane Fonda. She's the actress whose always stirring the pot. A couple decades ago she got real friendly with the North Vietnamese. Well, now she's back in the game, throwing out the c-word on NBC's Today show.

It's funny because everyone is all mad. Author of The Vagina Monologues Even Ensler put it best when she said, "Why is there a buzz about that when there's no buzz about the word 'rape' or 'plutonium' or 'clusterbomb'?" and then continues to say, "I'm always surprised that people focus on these issues, when one of three women in the world are being raped and beaten and violated."

Get it Eve.

But this is

That was a downer.

Here's a little chuckle.

Rape jokes aren't funny

Sad. This is controversial.

Last night, I overheard a child-rape joke. Then, I heard people chuckle.

While I am critical of the person making the jokes, I understand the person is not inherently bad. For this reason, it seems I should really be critical of the culture in which people are so blinded to the issue that rape jokes can be made and enjoyed.

Why do we not care? What are we missing?

I think we are missing the voices of victims. I think we aren't listening. If we start to listen, we'll start to care.

14.2.08

Bestiality?


Oh yeah, I'm going there.

So, I was perusing Newsweek and learned a valuable lesson. Being married is just like having a pet.

Yep. Check it out. In life, I am human. In marriage, I am dog.

Novel proposition?


When did offering up humans become a novel proposition?

Apparently, sometime around 1973. Check out this ultra-bizarre article about Chairman Mao offering 10 million women to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

He called it a "novel proposition". Funny, I was thinking more like "wow, that's weird and offensive".

I'm flabbergasted

“Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse. Today it’s simply, ‘Let’s don’t go forward with this act."

Who said that? Grandpa Earle after a couple of beers at thanksgiving?

Oh no, it was Sen. Doug Henry from good 'ole Tennessee. And, can you believe it...he's a Democrat! Crazy knows no party, I suppose.

This kind of idea is not only archaic and dumb, but also unbelievably dangerous.

Take a look at it. It's like one of those pictures in Highlights (that kids magazine that helped you learn junk, remember?) where you search for all the things that shouldn't be there. Except, this time it is search for all the horrific rape myths rather that funny animals.

Ok, so, it's only rape if she is chaste (to translate from the old english, I think that means a virgin). I guess, if the victim isn't a virgin then she probably wanted it - because non-virgin means "let's do this thing."

Next, if we look close, well not that close because it's pretty dad gum blatant, we see that rape can't happen if the perpetrator is your spouse. Yeah, that's not true. Apparantly, he hasn't spoken with a victim of marital rape. He hasn't listened to the victim tell of all the emotional pain caused by the person you love attacking you, not listening to your cries, not hearing your no's. Apparantly, once a ring gets popped on your finger you given up all rights to decide what or who happens to your body.

"Today, it's simply "let's not go forward with this act'". Yeah man, it is. No means stop, get away, sick, nasty, pretty much anything other that "yes".

I mean dang, can we all agree on the importance to elect representatives aware of our world? This guy clearly can't be the voice of half of his state because he doesn't understand a major threat they consider daily.

I'm sad. I'm irritated. And, I'm all the more aware of the change, big change, that needs to occur.

Learn more.

13.2.08

Yeah man!

This columnist for the Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts wrote an article about the trend of young women who accept feminist principles but reject the feminist label.

This is an interesting trend. It seems like no big deal, but it causes division between women with the label and without which limits their collective power.

Coolest part- my mom and dad sent this to me. Fist pump for progressive parents!

Lame


Homeboy is not cool.

A fellow named John Strausbaugh just released a book entitled Sissy Nation. So, can we guess why I'm claiming he's not cool?

Oh yeah, it's a feminist thing. Sissy slams men for being like women. Well, that's offensive. Isn't there something wrong with a supreme insult characterizing someone as "woman-like"?

Yeah, I think there is.

So, this guy penned this book all about America being a bunch of wimps. Which is strange. Given the slaughter occurring abroad, it seems that maybe we're a hyper-masculine, can't use words, bask in violence and death kind of nation.

Anyway, he thinks we are all sissies. I think he's a misogynistic homophobe.

Using language that has been historically a tool to keep a group of people down to make a point about an entirely ifferent issue is irresponsible, uncreative, and ultimately unproductive. His book may contain some engaging ideas, but the language he chose to title his book doesn't represent his point, but rather represents the constant reinforcement of gender and sexuality inequality.

Shady Christians...

Have you heard about the creation museum? (that junk looks expensive, why don't we feed somebody. if they are starving, I'm pretty sure their not thinking "oh man, I want to see animatronics")

Well, it is this massive, young-earthian place devoted to the spreading of creationism as a science. That's cool. Do you're thing, you know. I'm a little critical of their rhetoric because they seem to be playing the whole good v. evil card. Which, regardless of what you believe about the earth's creation, just because someone is an evolutionist doesn't mean their evil, right?

Anyway, don't be shady! Check out this article about the new "peer-reviewed" journal produced by Answers in Genesis.

This kind of stuff frustrates me. It seems like so often Christians get a little tricky and, maybe they don't mean to be tricky, but with the public watching Christians as they do, shouldn't folks of faith take a little more care not look like a bunch of cloaked secret agents (you know, figuratively).

All I'm saying is Jesus wasn't suspicious. He was honest. And, I may be rockin' the faith here, but shouldn't we take some notes from Him - not the KGB.

Daily Dose of Depression

The question is: why don't people care about sexual assault? Or, maybe, why doesn't our government care?

Check out this article from the New York Times about U.S. women sexually assaulted numerous times by co-workers and then getting screwed over by the law. Apparently, the problem is that military contractors don't fall under military law but U.S. law is only hazily applied to their actions in foreign zones.

So, fix it! These women only won "meager compensation". Doesn't seem fair, eh? I mean, how can anything "meager" compensate for being sexually assaulted in Iraq with no resources or protection? You know what I'm saying?

Also, what's the deal with the shady military contractors like Blackwater and KBR? Here's an article explaining their involvement in the war. It freaks me out that we've got over 1,000 private companies over in Iraq that we don't know anything about. But, I guess that makes sense, since we don't really know anything about Iraq to begin with.

Ah, this is a bummer. You think that in this intensely militarized area, citizens would be safe from other citizens. Or at least, that somebody would care to help.

Thanks to Anna for the link.

12.2.08

Liberal doesn't always mean cool...



Well, Kucinich used to be both liberal and cool. Until now...

An aside- Jackson Katz is the junk.

Throw yo facts up!


Have you ever not believed a candidate? Well, yeah- not even a question, right? Here's a cool site you can use to check the facts.

Here's there explanation of themselves from their website:

"We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding."

Pretty cool. Learn more from this article at GOODmagazine.com.

Should this really be news?


Guess what! President Bush told the county today that noose jokes are offensive!

"As a civil society, we must understand that noose displays and lynching jokes are deeply offensive"

I'm glad he finally laid that one to rest. If you're like me, than you were probably still on the fence about fun gags drawing from our county's horrific history of racial violence. (yeah, I linked wikipedia, deal with it.)

What a forward thinker! . Check out the whole article here.

All I'm saying is should this be a headline?

Weird, right?

Hello 1950s!

Mother Jones has a great article on a Supreme Court decision pretty much saying, "Bump you woman! Men should get paid more!"

Check it out. Get mad.

"Pimped-out" Media

Here's an article about MSNBC's David Shuster's tacky Clinton jab.

Come on? You know. Claiming she "pimped out" her daughter? Ridiculous.

This comment is not thought provoking, it's just dumb. Our press is meant to provide facts and ideas for the public to digest and later make an informed decision. But, when the public conversation is reduced to classless, unimformed jabs our digestive system goes all caddywampus. Give us some real food folks, not these super salty, overcooked, oozing with animosity movie snacks.

Also, "pimped-out"? So, Clinton slapped Chelsea around a little then forced her to have sex with some man for a buck. Once again we are seeing an offensive word flippantly over used.

I want more form my media. I want news, not a playground yo mama battle. I turn to the sage Britney Spears for a final response to MSNBC and David Shuster, "gimme more".

Pastor, I have a question.

Check out this article from the Wall Street journal about a new trend in churches around the country.

It raises an interesting question. Do churchgoers forfeit rights that we've become accustomed when we enter into a congregation?

"While many Christians find such practices outdated, pastors in large and small churches across the country are expelling members for offenses ranging from adultery and theft to gossiping, skipping service and criticizing church leaders."

I see the point. Don't we all? If a person is acting like a fool consistently, jacking up the service and the holding back the body, shouldn't people be able to kick them out?

But, this is what freaks me out:

"Last week, the pastor of a 6,000-member megachurch in Nashville, Tenn., threatened to expel 74 members for gossiping and causing disharmony unless they repented. The congregants had sued the pastor for access to the church's financial records."

Questioning authority is a major component to being American. I think we can all agree that this is an essential quality. But, does it have a place in the church?

I lean toward a big ole "yes"! With the insane amount of Pastor's "falling from grace" it seems sensible to have a limited amount of trust for people in that position of spiritual power. We must question them. And, I think, we must hold tight to our right to question.

Maybe we should turn to the middle school mantra "what would Jesus do?" Well, I think we can tell what He did. He questioned the religious authority, reserving his harshest words for the Pharisees. So, shouldn't we too hold those above us accountable. Shouldn't they want us to?

This trend illustrates a troubling future for the Protestant church. Reminiscent of the Southern Baptist takeover of the early 90s, it could lead to a change church with unchecked power. Something dangerous both for our spiritual fulfillment and individual journeys.

By the way...

Can I vote for Michelle Obama?

She's amazing.

Get it Oprah.

I wasn't aware that I really loved Oprah until today. Check out Oprah laying it down on behalf of female equality at an Obama rally in California.



Now you may think this is weird, let me explain. Oprah is articulating one of the major themes of female equality- the right to think and choose for yourself.

This is dang sweet. All those criticizing Oprah for not supporting Clinton apparantly don't realize that they are flowing fountains of sexism. To support Clinton based on her sex rather than her platform is incredibly sexist. Both toward Clinton and Obama. If Obama is the best candidate, most representative of your beliefs, than to not vote for him due to his sex is reversed sex-discrimination. That's bad.

And, to usher Clinton into the White House only due to her genitals is amazingly patronizing. She deserves votes based on her achievements and vision for this nation, not solely because she is a woman.

The whole point of equality is that we ultimately throw out all these superficial characteristics (race, sex, etc.) to evaluate people based on their identity. America should vote for the best candidate, not their favorite anatomy.

So, I raise my glass to you queen of daytime television. You are indeed a free woman. I support your voice because it is entirely yours!

11.2.08

RA! RA! Let's go steal junk!

On Thursday, a disgruntled group of cheerleaders stole my college's newspaper off the racks becuase of a less than laudatory article about their performance, entitled "Cheerleaders: Bringing it on or bringing us down". Yeah, I got a kick out of the headline.

People say we shouldn't call it stealing because the paper is free. Well, I say bump that. They stole them. Shadily, they gallivanted around campus collecting newspapers to prevent others from reading them. All that was missing was cloaks and the cover of night. It was stealing. For five or so people to grab a bunch of papers to shove them in the trunk of their cars or in trashcans sounds like stealing to me. And so, I will call it stealing.

I'm pissed. So, I wrote an editorial for the Carrier, not sure if it will be published. Here's an excerpt:

More than just papers were taken. Ideas were taken. The voices of fellow students were silenced. An environment unsafe for the dissemination of ideas, likeable or not, is an unsafe environment. A trivial grievance has become a very serious situation.

Personally, the silencing of student voices hurts. In last weeks Carrier I had an Opinions article about raising awareness around the issue of rape. Sexual assault is an issue to which I have devoted much time. One way I work to see the end of sexual assault is by giving voice to victims. Because of a group of people’s insignificant qualm with an article in the paper, the victims of sexual assault were once again silenced. This group of people ranked raised awareness about rape below their own embarrassment. Yet again, I see a terrifying lack of concern for a community conversation about sexual violence. This hurts me.

However, I am angered not only for that reason. But also, for the voices of Jesse Milby who spoke passionately about his political views and for Jessica Hoover who attempted to inform students about an important change in Berry academics. I’m angry because a group of student’s placed themselves before a great number of writers but also before the Berry College community, deeming Berry undeserving of the ideas presented in last week’s Carrier.

The removal of the papers was not only irritating, but also shockingly self-important. And, to be bold, incredibly pathetic. These students are, hopefully, ashamed of their immaturity and aware of their frightening degree of self-involvement. I call on the Berry community to respond harshly to these students’ harmful behavior. May we make clear that our ideas, our information carry a great deal of importance and we will not tolerate such flippant disrespect.

Harsh? Maybe. But, come on? How ridiculous! And dumb. It's dumb not only because they got themselves into some trouble and look like a bunch of crazies, but now a guy like myself whose never even considered the Berry College cheerleaders resents them. A lot. Enough to maybe protest outside their next practice. Or carry a sign that says "Berry Cheerleaders are Thieves" around campus which, because of my charisma, would end in a march of frustrated students. That might me a little much. But, maybe.

All I'm saying is that to steal ideas is really freakin' irritating.