I’ve been doing this blog for about six months now. It’s a gratifying experience. Not just the writing. The unexpected pleasure has been the discovery of other bloggers, their endless creativity and forms of expression. Engaging with the people on the other end of those blogs can lead to rewarding and refreshing new relationships. It’s a unique form of friendship, really. Blogging demands honesty, and honesty often requires courage. Bloggers put themselves out there, certainly in front of the folks who follow them – but potentially in front of everyone on Earth with an internet connection. It can take some getting used to, putting yourself on a stage that big. But it gets easier as people begin to like your post on this or that… as they begin to follow your blog… and as everyone comments on each other’s blog posts. There’s a real sense of community – because unlike all the so-called “reality” fare in the media, blogs and their bloggers are real.
One of the real blokes I’ve bumped into in the blogosphere is Margaret Rose Stringer. M-R (don’t call her Margaret) hails from Sydney, and I tend to think of her as the Thunder Down Under. She is smart, snarky, even a bit bawdy. M-R never leaves you guessing, and never fails to make me smile. She seems to have lived several lifetimes – so far. I’ll know more about that once I’ve read her recently published memoir. And Then Like My Dreams is a remembrance of her decades of adventures with the love of her life, Chic Stringer. Their love, their travels, their life together, their work in the Australian film and tv industry… his death, and how she survives his loss. And thrives, as he would want her to. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/And-Then-Like-My-Dreams/dp/1922089028
M-R has been in a particularly sharing mood lately, featuring some of her favorite bloggers in daily posts under the banner M-R’s Challenge: Personal Blogs of Web Friends That I Read. Early this morning, I noticed an unusual level of activity on my blog for that hour, and I soon tracked down the culprit. M-R had made me #12 in her Challenge! Now, there may be nicer ways to wake up – but none that involve blog stats and referring links. 🙂
So, it’s an honor from a fellow blogger whom I like and admire. I’ve already enjoyed reading and following some of the other nominees in M-R’s Challenge. And I know that being spotlighted in this way will cause more wonderful collisions in the blogosphere. At the risk of self-promotion, here’s the link to M-R’s appreciation of The End (so far).
I enjoyed reading the comments under her post. Some of the names are already familiar to me as members of the M-R community I’m happy to be a part of. Some new bloggers to check out. And then there was this… the turd in the punchbowl:
“Methinks he has already labeled me and my beliefs with a variety of names I don’t care to read, so I think I’ll have to pass. I can get beaten up enough in other places for being a conservative Christian. Sigh. – Janet”
Hmmm. Srsly? I started tapping out my reply: Janet dear, come down off that cross – your friends need the wood for a book burning! But that would only cause a tempest in the middle of M-R’s teapot. And I wouldn’t want to be so rude in my generous host’s blog-home. Isn’t that considered… un-Christian? So I’ve teleported Janet and her grievance here instead.
Ah, a thorn among the roses… Sorry you feel that way, Janet. Please don’t bear false witness to my blog, though. I don’t care what mythology you follow, if any. You can worship Jesus or string cheese or sunflowers or sea monkeys. That’s none of my business and it shouldn’t affect me. But so many ‘believers’ – especially, it must be said, conservative Christians – seem to want it to affect me, want to make it my business. I don’t “beat people up” because they are Christians or any other ‘faith’ flavor. I do take considerable pleasure in skewering pseudo-pious bigots and all those who would make ignorance a communicable disease, or a qualification for elected office. Of that I am proudly guilty.
Do you believe the universe was created in six days? six thousand years ago? Do you believe Noah gathered tens of millions of species on his wooden boat? Were the dinosaurs on it? Or do you believe that Satan scattered fake fossils around the Earth’s surface to deceive us? Do you believe a zygote is a full-fledged human being? Do you believe marriage is reserved for a man and a woman? Do you believe the civil laws of the United States should codify your supernatural beliefs?
If you understand only two things about me, please understand this: (1) I do not care that you believe such things or anything else; and (2) As an American, I defend your right to believe ANYTHING without any interference from the government. (I do think religious organizations should pay taxes, because they reap the benefits of a functioning society, along with the rest of us. But there is room for disagreement on that. Another time, perhaps.)
Not possessing any psychic ability (beyond the usual Pisces talents), how could I possibly know what things you believe? I could live my whole life in blissful ignorance of your ignorance… except that you tell me. You tell me. You tell everyone. You want everyone to know. You never miss an opportunity. In the street. On billboards. Radio. Television. You knock on doors. In newspapers, magazines. On your blog. In your comments on other people’s blogs. You don’t like the gay, so no one can be gay. You don’t like contraception, so no one can use contraception. You don’t like abortion, so no one can have an abortion. You don’t like evolution, so everyone must learn your ‘creationism’ fairy tale. That’s right Janet. I don’t care what you believe – but when you try to substitute your bible story for a public school science textbook, then we’ve got a problem. And it’s of your own making. When you try to substitute your twisted, angry, bitter Dark Ages ‘morality’ for our more enlightened 21st century American social mores, then we’ve got a problem. And it’s entirely of your own making.
In my book, that makes you not a Christian, but a “Xian”. Like an Islamist. You are someone who warps your otherwise innocuous personal religious beliefs (god and love and peace, etc) and turns it into a bludgeon, or a sword. Xians are like a virus in American society. The infection began when Reagan’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, saw an opportunity to hitch evangelical passion to the Republican party in the 80s. That’s when – and why – the GOP became anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun and pro-god (Xian god). It built on Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” which harnessed the ‘passion’ of white Southern racism. Lots of passionate hatred. Not very consistent with your holy books.
Yesterday, the US Supreme Court made its latest controversial 5-4 ruling (after ‘corporations = people’ and ‘money = speech’): allowing sectarian prayer in public meetings. Translation: if it so chooses, the Podunk town meeting or the New York City Council can legally open with a prayer – to Jesus Christ. (Or to Yahweh or Allah or any of the other 3,000 deities currently worshipped by earthlings… funny thing though, it’s always Jesus.) Now, it doesn’t mean that every public meeting must invoke Jesus before setting tax policy or parking restrictions. Many will continue with the standard (and utterly inoffensive) moment of silence. But the Supreme Court has now permitted this “Praise you Jesus” breach in the wall that separates ‘church and state’.
Xians may be dancing (is dancing allowed?) with joy over this ruling. They should be absolutely terrified. Because it’s not difficult to find examples of nations whose societies are organized with laws based on God Almighty. But not your god. Allah has trumped Jesus in these places. And Christians are just one step removed from having their picture on bags of Purina Lion Chow in places like Saudi Arabia. Iran. Most of the Gulf States. All the -stans. Last week it was reported that the Sultan of Brunei is so gung ho on sharia law that he’s bringing back stoning as a capital punishment for gays and adulterous women.
You think that can’t happen here? Laws based on the Christian bible might not be very fair or kind to non-Christians… but you can live with that? That ignorance will only protect you for so long. Maybe state-sanctioned religion in the United States will never result in Koran-based sharia law. But once you’ve allowed your government to pray to one deity, or to make laws based on one religion, then you’ve also given that government the power to ban other deities, or other religions – or all religion. The wall that we’ve always called ‘the separation of church and state’ was not built to keep Christians fenced in. It was built to keep the government out. Out of your religious faith. Tear down that wall, and you invite government in. History is awash in the blood of those – Christians included – who have had to defend their god and themselves against a hostile government.
Janet, you may feel ‘beaten up’ because I call out Xians on their dangerous ignorance, false piety and bigotry – but I’m not feeding you to the lions. Perhaps a little perspective would serve you better than that silly persecution complex.
The End (so far)