Monday, January 30, 2006

A Born-Again Deist

Thanks to Carla of Preemptive Karma, I landed on a fabulous little website that explained in detail what Deism actually is. And, lo and behold, I discovered that this crisis that I've been going through since November, 2004, was really my awakening to the fact that -- hey, guess what? -- I'm an ex-Christian. I mean, completely. Like, don't believe that Jesus was the son of anybody but Joseph and Mary. Like, don't believe that the bible was written by God or by men being dictated to by God. A belief in God, but a respect for reason. That's who I was raised. I'm a Deist, damn it. Again. A born-again Deist, if you will. It's a wonderful feeling to know that, and to know that I'm not alone. Especially these days.

Because these days, just when you thought Christian evango-nazis couldn't stoop another centimeter lower in their efforts to wallow in evil, they surprise you. As has been widely reported by now, Pat Robertson asserted on on the January 5th broadcast of The 700 Club broadcast that Ariel Sharon's devastating stroke was an act of God, designed to punish Sharon for "dividing up God's land." He says that Yitzak Rabins '95 assasination was the same thing. He listed the Book of Joel as his source for that reasoning. The Book of Joel. Which, I believe, is only a slightly better known Old Testament book than the Book of Al, the Deli Counter Guy. Why is it when these right-wing, self-serving Christian nutjobs spout the Bible, the Old Testament is always what they go on and on about? And they pick the least known, least utilized quote from the most obscure book. Moses never even read the Book of Joel. He got as far as Judges, then he had to start walking around the desert, and after that, who has time to read? I fell behind on my reading this weekend, and all I had to do was vacuum the living room ("Hoover the lounge," for those of my readers who are British English speakers).

So it is today. The most antiquated book in the Bible -- Leviticus -- is the source for all things biblically homophobic. Leviticus teaches us that killing (though the 10 Commandments instructs that we shouldn't do that) is good. It teaches us that slavery is okay, as long as you're the owner and not the slave. Leviticus teaches us that women are chattle and should be treated as such whenever possible. So, by all means, let's use Leviticus as the last word on homosexuality, because it has so much of value that applies today. This just goes to further prove my point. Even Christians don't believe in Christianity. They don't even believe what they call the Word of the Biblical God (henceforth referred to as "Biblegod" -- a phrase coined on the above-listed website by the site's editor John Armstrong).

What we learned in Sunday School was this:

Old Testament = Age of Law.
New Testament = Age of Grace.

According the church's own teachings, we're not abiding by the Old Testament anymore, and neither is Biblegod. Biblegod is using a new handbook now, called the New Testament. Oh, I mean, except when he's decided to take time out of his busy day to smite Ariel Sharon for trying to end war in his country. I'm sure that years of no exercise, yo-yo dieting and having one of the most stressful jobs on the planet didn't contribute one bit to Mr. Sharon's debilitating illness.

I've pretty much decided I don't like Biblegod much anymore. If he's everything Christians say he is, then he's mean, hypocritical and stupid. That's Pat Robertson's God -- the one whose image Robertson was made in, according to him. All the evidence at hand confirms this belief, I think. The inspiring news is that it looks like that little Bible study lesson has cost Robertson dearly. He was forced to eat a little crow (with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, no doubt) on January 13th. He is still broadcasting, though, and so-called Christians are still sending money to him, so justice may be swift, but it's rarely comprehensive or complete.

As for me, I'll just stick to the belief that, yes, Virginia, there is a God. He created the universe and everything in it (including that whole "evolution" idea, which, frankly, I find utterly inspired), gave us everything we needed, and then set us off down the road to figure it all out. I don't think he wants a personal relationship with us. I don't think he wants to hear our whining every time something goes wrong. I think he'd rather not hear us praying for thing he's already given us -- like patience, wisdom and peace. Just because you can't find your allowance doesn't mean Dad didn't give it to you. I think that God wishes that we'd quit making stupid choices and then saying things like, "Well, we prayed about it and this is what the Lord wants for us."

The Lord wants us to leave the nest and use the very, very big brains he spent so long creating and using evolution to hone and improve (see? I told you... inspired....) He wants us to be reasonable and stop believing in the freakin' fairies at the bottom of the garden (another British expression -- ask a friend from England). He doesn't want to clean up our messes anymore. Honestly, who can blame him?

So, I am not longer a "believer without portfolio". I'm officially a Deist. That puts me in fabulous company -- Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine, Thomas Jefferson.

Glory be....

~C~

Saturday, January 28, 2006

High Points

A good friend of mine asked me to create a permanent link to a letter I initially blogged about back in September. It was Sharon Olds' letter declining First Lady Laura Bush's offer to attend the National Book Festival Luncheon given at the White House on September 24, 2005.

Ms. Olds was named the New York State Poet in 1998, and currently teaches poetry in the NYU Graduate Creative Writing program. A more extensive biography can be found here. Many of her works can be found at PoemHunter.com.

I have decided that my friend is right. I need to create a permanent link to the letter in the sidebar, so that anyone coming to this site will always be able to find it. Sharon Olds is an inspiration, a mentor and a shining example of that to which women in literature should aspire. I've stashed it below the quote, and entitled the section, "What She Said."

~C~

Let's Review, Shall We?

Stealing is bad. No, really. Bad. Stealing of bandwidth is bad, and annoying. And ignorant.

So to the woman who has decided that stealing other people's server space is more fiscally convenient than actually paying for it herself, I would have to say....

KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF, SISTER!!!

Because Caty? Well, Caty don't play.....

UPDATE: Because I have computer geek friends in high places, anybody hotlinking to images stored on my site are in for a fairly nasty surprise.

Tee heee hee....

(Many thanks to my Server God, JD, and the ever-talented -- and somewhat nefarious -- MGC Jerry at Cybernetic Bumper Breath.)

~C~

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Those Who Can, Do, Those Who Can't....

... create images of those who can.

Always wanted to be a ballet dancer.... Never had that particular talent, unfortunately. But I've been playing in Poser again, and I have been rendering -- of all things -- ballet dancers.

This is my first completed piece, posted on Where Art and Math Collide.

~C~

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Final Undergrad Papers

Okay, because there are a couple of weirdos out there who actually read my academic papers (aside from the professors who are forced under penalty of unemployment to do so), I have posted my final quarter papers on the They Made Me Do It! blog.

The first, Animal Magnetism, is my not-so-scientific science paper for Environmental Landscapes. I decided to do my paper on house pets and how domesticating them has changed the way we live over the centuries. It's my favorite of the three. (My journal entries for this class will be making an appearance over at Naked Voodoo Chicken Dance.)

The second is for my Retelling the Myth of Romantic Love Through Fairytales class. This was a one-day lecture by a woman who is an expert in myth and folklore of all kinds, and has an amazing ability to tell a story. I'm sorry I only got the chance to take one class with her.

The third is Martyrdom, Sacrifice and Cunning, the Women-in-Greek Antiquities paper. I don't like the Greek classics. I'm sorry, but I'd rather read Jane Austin (and I'm not a big Jane Austen fan, either). Still, there were some moments I liked in the class, particularly after we'd finished The Odyssey (don't get me started there!), and actually tackled the plays.

My advice -- run, run away and hide. I only post them for posterity's sake, and because a couple of regular readers seem to like them. So go... don't go... I honestly won't blame you either way.

I went to a wedding on Saturday for the daughter of a very old friend. It was a "Sunrise, Sunset" moment. I'm working on a post about it, but its going to take a bit of time. It should be ready in the next couple of days. I have to wait for the "art," as they say in journalism (which apparently blogging either is, or isn't, depending with whom you happen to be speaking).

~C~

Monday, January 09, 2006

"Oh, It's Ahready Been Buh-ROTTEN...."

Last Friday, The Cranky Liberal Pages bid a fond good-bye and set quietly in the West. Today, Cranky and LiberPaul, along with MoxieGrrl, Pia Savage, Dr. Forbush and a few others, have joined forces to dish up the new and improved Bring It On website -- subbed BIO v.2.

A sleek design, a comment rating system, and several contributors from different walks of life promise to make this one of the most well-rounded, exciting new liberal blogs around. Go check it out, look around, leave a comment (but bear in mind, you might be judged by a jury of your peers).

Long live BIO v. 2.

~C~

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Photosensitivity

I found a photograph of my mother and me that my father took when I was about two. It’s one of his few (surviving) botch jobs. I have often wondered why he even printed it. Film photographers usually have to take three or four rolls to get two or three good shots, so it’s not like every single shot is precious. It’s underexposed, it’s very grainy and it wasn’t cared for, so it has been damaged. But there is a sweetness about it that must have caught his eye and made him want to try unsuccessfully to salvage it through the development process. What he couldn’t do in the dark room, I’ve been trying to do in Photoshop. Alas, you cannot create the light where it doesn’t exist, unless you’re prepared to hand paint it. It will never work as a photograph. So I put it through some filters, trying to preserve the feel of the picture while making it somewhat presentable. This is the final result.

As I mentioned in my “10 Things…” post before, I have made it a point this past year to bury a lot of the animosity I held toward my mother for so long. I won’t go into details (though I’m sure I already have, ad nauseum, to those who’ve been reading long enough), but suffice it to say that our relationship was… uhh… complex. It involved some violence and a lot of prevarication – perhaps on both of our parts – and, in the end, it resulted in estrangement.

She died on August 9, 1991. In the past 14 years, I’ve learned some things – about her, about me, about us as a duo. I realized sometime back in February that the parts of my face I couldn’t stand when I looked in the mirror were the parts that reminded me of her. That was no good. When you carry around hatred and anger for someone, it’s bound to come back and bite you in the ass at some point.

When my own daughter was about six, we had an argument about something she wanted to do which I said “no” to. After the customary litany of “whys” versus “because I said sos,” she suddenly blurted out, “But just because you’re the mommy doesn’t mean you’re right. How do you know you’re not making a mistake?”

It was an audacious question. But it was a true one, so I couldn’t be angry. How did I know? How does any parent? Anyone who has had a similar conversation with their child knows one is skating on thin, thin ice with some really hot blades when it comes to parental demagoguery. You absolutely want to remain the authority figure, but you must never give your children the impression that you are playing perfect. First off, they’ll see right through it. Second, they’ll feel justified in ignoring everything you say thereafter, because you've proven yourself to be a big, fat phony. So I figured it was best just to drop the act, and come clean.

“I don’t know I’m right," I told her. "Haven't the first clue. I could be wrong. I’m not angel. I’m not a god. I’m just a person, doing the best she can with what she knows. You didn’t come with an owner’s manual. I’m making this up as I go along, based on what I feel is right in my gut. If my gut proves wrong, then I’ll own it. But you can always rest assured that any decision I make about you comes out of my love for you and my desire to keep you safe and happy. If I inadvertently damage you with my ignorance, I’ll pay for the therapy.”

I’ll wager that the sentiment is one that every parent feels, though some might not have come up with the words on the spur of the moment to get it out. My mother might have felt those things, but been too afraid to say them. I was safe letting my daughter know that I was flawed (and knew I was flawed) because I knew she’d figure it out on her own sooner or later anyway. Maybe Mom didn’t realize that. Maybe Mom thought she was a good enough actress that she could keep from me the deepest, darkest secret – amongst many deep, dark secrets that would later come to light – that she held on to so tightly and guarded so vigorously.

My mother was a closet human being.

Shocking? Yes. Some will be offended. Others will turn away in horror and disgust. But the truth is the truth and must not be denied. My mother was just an ordinary person. Not an angel. Not a god. Just a chick, trying to raise a child alone. I didn’t come with an owner’s manual, after all. I just kind of showed up and expected her not to do anything that might get me killed. A tall order, especially for someone like my mother, who was used to being treated like all beautiful, charming women get used to being treated – a bit like royalty. I unceremoniously spit up on her. No wonder she was kind of pissed off at me.

I have no doubt that everything I said to my daughter was felt by my mother at some point. If she could have said the words, it might have paved the way to a more loving relationship in later years. It might have fostered more compassion in me when she failed at being perfect, rather than anger that she was guilty of false advertising. But I am the writer. She was the actress. Coming up with words is my job. She was there to give them a voice. It isn’t fair to expect her to do a job she never claimed to be very good at. So, I’ve decided as the writer, I have to share my words with her – the same words I spoke to my daughter a dozen or so years ago.

It has helped to realize that she most likely was doing the best she could with what she knew. I once wrote a character based on her, and in fiction, described the character as “a woman who meant well, but didn’t always do well.” I realize now that that was my mother. No harm intended. Many apologies. Do forgive.

The photo is a symbol of what I choose to remember about my childhood. It is the first artistic thing I’ve created in 2006.

~C~