Friday, August 31, 2007

Cultural Appropriation and Irony

Some of you that read my blog, in fact most of you, will probably know that I attended a Christian youth group for a while. Personally, I considered this mostly an excuse to hang out with my friends that were Christian.

This group held their meetings on Friday evenings, and it would involve a sermon of some sort. Usually, I would critically examine these sermons, as a sort of mental exercise. I think that it also made the time pass a bit faster. The sermons that the first pastor would give were pretty good, and I felt that even non-Christians, people of a secular nature, could gain something from listening to them.

After the first pastor left and was replaced, the sermons became noticeably different. They were delivered with more of an authoritative voice, a voice with more fervor. It also seemed that the message in these sermons was uniquely Christian, and that someone of a secular nature would have little if anything to gain from listening to them. One of my friends described him as more of a "fire and brimstone" preacher than the first pastor had been.

One Friday night, this pastor used a Native American folk story to illustrate a point. At the time, I was a bit annoyed that he had gotten some of the wording wrong. (If this seems a bit anal to you, you should know that I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.) Afterwords, I told him that he had gotten some of the wording wrong. He chuckled and waved it off with "It's just a legend. The wording doesn't matter." I walked off, a bit more annoyed than I had been because of his comment. The irony of the entire situation didn't occur to me until a week or so ago.

First, the Native American oral tradition is a very important one. For centuries, the oral tradition was the only way that the Native Americans had to pass their creation myths, legends, and fables on to the next generation. I have no doubt that they took it very seriously, including the exact wording of these stories. I am not saying that these stories did not change; they undoubtedly did over the centuries, even if only a little bit.

Second, is it really appropriate for a member of the Christian faith to use a Native American story to illustrate a point? I'm talking about a religion that actively tried to convert the indigenous peoples of North America, tried to destroy their culture, and herded them on to reservations so more land would be available for European settlement. Not to mention residential schooling, an issue that is still being dealt with by the government today. I do not think that it is appropriate for an evangelical Christian to use a Native American parable to perpetuate their faith's goals.

Third, the irony! It's only a story and the wording doesn't matter? I wish you would apply that reasoning to your own faith! There are hundreds of contradictions in the Bible and the Bible has been translated countless times, after being passed down orally for generations! I would say something to the effect of "It's the message, not the details that matter" but the Bible has so many contradictions and some of Christianity's central beliefs are so cruel that they are tantamount to abuse!

Now you might expect me to warn people about thinking about what they say before they say it, lest it reflect badly upon them. I'm not going to say that. It serves as a warning to the rest of us.

"Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."

-Isaac Asimov

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Air Force Charges Victim in Her Own Rape

Sorry to do this to you guys again, but I had to share this.

This news item made my stomach turn: Cassandra Hernandez, a female Air Force airman was raped, reported her attack and then subsequently became a court-martial defendant, herself.
The story goes down like this: Hernandez was at a party, where she was drinking. She says that three male airman raped her. She went to the hospital and filed a report accusing her attackers. Due to stress and harsh interrogation tactics by the Air Force, she eventually refused to testify against the airmen.

The Air Force then charged her with underage drinking (of which she admits to being guilty, but that's hardly the point, now is it?) and, along with her three attackers,"indecent acts." I had a hell of a lot of trouble finding an official definition for "indecent acts," and the best one I came up with is a "form of immorality relating to sexual impurity which is not only grossly vulgar, obscene, and repugnant to common propriety, but tends to excite lust and deprave the morals with respect to sexual relations." Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but the basic translation seems to be "a sexual act, particularly one that is not generally accepted in society, such as sex with multiple partners."

So. The woman was raped. By three men. She reported her rape. She was harassed by her superiors, to the point where she became too afraid to testify. The Air Force took this as meaning that the sex was therefore consensual (which isn't what it means at all), and charged her in the case of her own rape. If she loses her case, she could be publicly registered as a sex offender.

Sounds like it couldn't get any worse, right? But it does. How? The three alleged attackers were offered sexual assault immunity to testify against Hernandez on the indecent acts charge. Having at least half a brain cell among them, they accepted.

Hernandez is writing to her congresspeople and her Governor, Rick Perry, in a desperate plea to end this madness. Once you finish throwing up, crying, breaking things, etc., I strongly suggest that you write, too.

IMPORTANT CORRECTION: Apparently, the correct action to take is to write directly to YOUR congresspersons. You can find the information to write to your Representative here, and the information to write to your Senators here. It is a good idea to include one of the links to articles about thecase, so that they know specifically what you are referring to.

Shamelessly taken from here. I know that as Canadians it's pointless to write to U.S. politicians, but I think this is ridiculous. Muse out.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chuck Norris Has Lost All My Respect and Adoration.

I did intend to make this post about my trip to Europe, but through the glory that is Nick Gisburne's website, I found my way to Objective: Ministries. I will now, for your pleasure, create a list of humourous things (or at least things that I find humourous) that I have found on the website.

1. They claim that the Internet was created by the United States of America, that the United States of America is a Christian nation, and that it is their Internet.

2. They have a section on "Evolutionist Propaganda," a section entitled "Those Wacky Evolutionists," and use a racial slur: "Chinamen."

3. Their "Mall Missions" section is too large for me to give a full account. At one point, they draw conclusion about the names of various retail stores. Here's my favorite bit, describing teenagers: "Called "Mall Rats" in their nihilistic Secular culture, they can often be found hanging around malls after public school doing nothing constructive."

4. Their "Anti-Occult" section. Again, this is too large for a full account. It has an image of druids performing a ceremony in front of a tree. The caption reads: "Typical Druid coven sacrificing a human to a tree." I recommend that you listen to their recording of a druid ceremony for additional hilarity.

5. Their "4 Kidz" [sic] section. My favorites are "Habu's Corner" which is nothing but a testimony to ignorance (Hindus are henotheistic, not polytheistic) and "Spiritual Safety Tip" which provides information on what a child should do if they encounter an atheist. Go ahead, click on Mr. Gruff's head! He's right about one thing: "Coffee's the only thing that gives me solace!"

6. Their online store features clothing with images of a laughing Jesus with the caption LOL (Love Our Lord.) Unfortunately, this includes a thong with a laughing Jesus conveniently missing the "LOL: Love Our Lord." NOW I know why Jesus is laughing.

7. The banner ads. Here are some highlights:

-One of those banner Flash games where you need to hit something. You need to hit a "beatnik atheist" carrying a sign reading "I hate God" with a Bible. The prize? A free Bible, how unimaginative.

-A National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools ad featuring Chuck Norris as a spokesman. Chuck Norris, you have just lost all my respect. ...Please don't kill me.

-"Armor of God" Pajamas. This doesn't need explaining.

-I'm just going to quote this one: "The Presidential Prayer Team For Kids. Hey kids! President Bush needs your prayers!" The Hell he does.

-"Bible Bar: Contains the eight foods of Deuteronomy 8:8"

-"His Essence: Candles that smell like our Lord."

-" Because I don't want my money supporting non-Christians." I didn't know that Christians had their own Yellow Pages.

-Biblical Action Figures. Enough said.

-An ad for the Christian Hackers Association reading: "JESUS IS L33T3R THAN NEO" or "GOD HAS UNIVERSAL ROOT."

-"Have you seen pornography on the Internet? It is illegal to distribute obscene material over the Internet. make a report!" Bullsh*t. The Internet is an unregulated medium for the transfer of information.

-"Did you know that Pat Robertson can leg press 2000 pounds? How does he do it?" [insane laughter] Apparently he uses protein shakes.

-An ad that in part reads "Fact: Being gay takes 30 years off your life! That's not cool..." That's also not true, fundie.

-I can't read the banner ad for this one, so here's the website.

-An ad for 1-in-3 Trinity Christian Energy Drink. "Refuel your Faith!"

-"Straight Pride [Trade Mark]. Show your pride, get a bride! Got a womb? Get a groom!" I can't wait to hear the feminists rage about this one.

-"Works Through Faith: W.T.F. Ministries." I don't need to explain this, do I?

-"Larry Dye, The Creation Guy!" How bad is it when you need to parody a name that's lame to begin with? (All apologies to Bill Nye, The Science Guy. We know you're awesome.)

-An ad for Fight the Good Fight Ministries. It has the caption "Satan wants your children!" with a pair of blond lesbians kissing. I'm sold.

-This ad features a gun pointed at the reader with the caption "Evolutionists want to murder you. You are just an animal to them."

-"Book 22: Intimacy products for married couples." It's a reference to the Song of Solomon. I admit, I don't think I've ever heard of a sex store catering specifically to Christians before. After taking a look at their merchandise, I don't think that (their) God would approve.

Peace out, readers. The Muse is stopping here.