Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jesus Loves the Little Children

This is one of those Bible Summer Camp songs that everybody hated to sing because they were so damn repetitive. Anyone ever hear that one about Noah and the ark? Ohhhhh, did I hate that song. It was SO obnoxious. What are these songs supposed to teach anyway? Jesus loves all the little children. Red, yellow, black, and white... OK. Well... plenty of Christian churches teach that most of those children are going to Hell since they're heathens, so...maybe Jesus DOESN'T love those little children since they don't worship HIM.  I mean, how can Jesus love them unless they're born again? Or maybe Jesus just loves them until they are no longer children. When they become adult heathens, then it's time for the smiting.

This is one of those well-meaning religious things that just goes horribly, horribly wrong. It is a true example of God Obscures Perception. How could anyone ever think that this was OK? Granted, it looks pretty old...but seriously?

A friend of mine did this song for an elementary school pageant when he was very young. They put him in black face and an afro wig and tattered jeans. Apparently, everyone thought the performance was just precious. This was in Alabama. Surprise, surprise. Supposedly, the performance was captured on VHS. I can't wait for him to go home and retrieve it. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Future Website

The ultimate goal of God Obscures Perception is to have a community website where like-minded people can have a public forum. We'd like to feature guest essays and posts, share news, and post videos and other media content. It wouldn't have to be entirely serious, either. Life Partner created an animation for the site that I hope to share ASAP... But for now... check out how beautiful our page looks! There's no content, but it sure does look nice. I love the logo that LP created.

A few friends of ours put together this video that's the kind of stuff we're hoping to do!

An Empire of Faith - watch more funny videos

I think the video is a little too long, but overall it's hilarious. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

According to this, I was Wise in Kindergarten

This has been bugging me for almost a year.
I pass by this congregation almost every day on my way home from work. It's in West Hollywood in a heavily Orthodox Jewish part of the city. For almost a year now, this sign has been bugging the heck out of me.

So, does this mean I was becoming wise at the ripe old age of FIVE? Because that's when this god character really started to spook me. He was like Santa Claus, only instead of deciding whether I got presents or coal, he decided whether I went to Heaven or HELL. Whether I got to hang out with angels in the clouds or be tormented by devils with pointy sticks in the eternal fire. To me, every little infraction was worth confession. When I received First Communion in the 2nd grade, my catechism teacher told us that if we prayed with our hands folded and fingers pointing down....we were pointing towards HELL! If we kneeled with our little butts rested against the pews... Baby Jesus would CRY!

I also started to worry as I got older that God/Jesus was some kind of pervert. If he was always watching... was he watching me in the shower???? Now, I understand that my childhood ideas of god and religion were...well... childish. But some people do interpret religion literally. 

But my real question is, why would anyone want to believe in a scary, vengeful god? Why not believe in the lovey-dovey all-is-forgiven, try-to-be-nice-to-everyone god? It seems like hypocrisy to only behave "morally" because you're scared shitless that your god will smite you. And what a terrible way to live anyway. If god is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient... you should theoretically be OMNIFRIGHTENED! And that just doesn't seem very wise to me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

This whole mosque thing is getting old...

I'm really tired of hearing about this debate over putting a mosque/Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in NYC.

Oddly enough, this household is split.

My LP thinks both sides are being assholes. He thinks that the imam behind the project should be more outspoken to try to appease the irrational fears and sensibilities of those who oppose the building. He thinks that the Islamic group should be a little more sensitive. Of course, he thinks that the opposing side should acknowledge that the imam and his followers have a right to build wherever jurisdictions allow.

Honor T-shirt - No Mosque at Ground Zero
You should see their other shirts.
For me, I don't care much for any religion. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have the potential for extremism. The Koran, Bible, and Torah all have violent implications if taken literally. Some people choose to be assholes about their religion. Now, the imam of this particular mosque is currently on a tour in the Middle East promoting "Americanizing" Islam. He's been a sponsor of the state department
on many previous tours of a similar type. It seems to me that this particular mosque and center is of little threat to anyone. Even though I dislike the propagation of religion and religious buildings and icons... they certainly have the right to do it in this country and I certainly respect that. I appreciate that in this country, my blog is just as welcome as Conservative Paradise. But at least I don't spew hate.

To me, the hubbub over this issue is akin to a pro-choice group getting up in arms over a conservative Christian church building two blocks away from the site of a bombed Planned Parenthood. It's not a perfect comparison, but you get the idea.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gay Marriage (and Life Partnership)

Please, PLEASE can this be legal now? 

I'm from Iowa, one of the swingiest states in the Union. You never can tell what those goofy Iowans are going to do and that goofy Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage over a year ago.

I left Iowa for California in order to live in a more progressive state. To be around more liberal people like me. Hmmm... guess I was somewhat wrong. Just about everyone knows about Prop 8 (Prop Hate, as it's usually called in our house) and that millions of Californians enjoy voting to restrict the rights of others.

Luckily, the case went back to court and as the L.A. Times put it, "Prop 8 is Hanging by a Legal Thread." Right now, we're just waiting to on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on the case.

At least a precedent has been set that even if this ruling is overturned in the future, that all those same-sex couples waiting to get married will have permanently legitimate marriages. If I were part of a lesbian partnership that missed the chance to get married before Prop 8... I'd be on pins and needles right now.

I think that same-sex marriage, more than almost any other issue, is a clear cut example of when God Obscures Perception. Why should anyone care if two gay people in a committed relationship receive the same benefits as a straight couple? No one is being harmed here. This isn't a threat to marriage. Divorce is a threat to marriage. The iPhone is a threat to marriage.

There are people out there who don't understand parody. Don't waste your time reading user comments.

My very Catholic mother has always been pretty iffy about gay marriage, even though she personally knows plenty of nice gay and lesbian couples. It took me explaining to her that no matter what the law said, they would never be able to force churches to marry same-sex couples. She was surprised. Why? I don't know. I thought that was rather obvious given all the restrictions the Catholic church already imposes on married couples (vowing to raise their children Catholic, pre-marriage counseling, etc...). But this actually satisfied her concerns! I explained that it was about tax laws, hospital visitation, insurance, and most importantly, equal recognition!

Actually, one of the many reasons that Life Partner and I aren't married yet is because the ugliness surrounding this debate has made marriage seem like some dirty, exclusive club... and we aren't sure that we want to be a part of that until same-sex marriage is safe in this state. I'm not judging those who care about this issue and still get married...I'm just saying that it feels wrong to us.

I can't claim to understand the discrimination the gay community faces, but I have felt it in a very small way. My life partner and I have been together for almost six years and act like any other young married couple. We live together, share expenses, have always been completely monogamous, consult each other on pretty much everything... we plan to spend our lives together and renew that promise almost every day. Yet, when I went to the doctor's office, there were boxes to check for single, married, divorced, widowed, and domestic partner. Well, in California, you can't be domestic partners unless you are a same-sex couple or one partner is older than 62. 

So what do I check?
Yeah, those kooky Iowans.

UPDATE! American Atheists to have 2011 convention in Iowa.... GAH!!!!! FOR REALSIES?!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Atheism and Parenting

Although I am not a parent and don't plan on becoming one anytime soon, I could completely identify with this article from one of my favorite blogs. This part I've included below is similar to the kind of experience I started having in late high school... only minus the kids and the breastfeeding.

I read the gospels while breastfeeding, feeling safer in the New Testament with Jesus’s reassuring compassion than in the Old Testament with its endless wars and wrath of God, but I was not reassured. Had the Bible always been so inconsistent, so violent, so sexist? Had it always needed so much adjustment to fit with my own sense of right and wrong? I tried to stretch my faith, twisting it like the rubber band I had looped through my buttonhole to give me a few more weeks in my pre-maternity jeans, but it didn’t fit. I tried to ignore my questions and doubts as I had in the past, but there was a new question I could not ignore: What am I going to teach my daughter?

When our parents pressed for a dedication ceremony, sort of the SDA equivalent of infant baptism, my husband and I recoiled. We admitted to ourselves then that we could not raise our daughter “in the church” and, eventually, that we could not raise her in the looming shadow of a personal god.

I especially like the part about how she had to stretch her faith, "twisting in like a rubber band." I think a lot of people do this for a long time either because they think their faith brings them some sort of comfort or because they're scared to admit that they don't believe anymore. 

I've often thought about how I would raise my hypothetical children, because like the writer above, I don't have a model for that. But I've always thought it would be nice to spend one day a week as a family exploring art and music and culture. And if my future hypothetical children became curious about religions, I would help them explore that, too... because religion does have a huge impact on society and has had a huge influence on history. It's important to understand it and be familiar with it.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...Image via Wikipedia

It's important to understand the enemy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What if You're Wrong?

Richard Dawkins is, of course, a man to be admired. And I love this answer he gives during a speaking engagement when a young woman asks, "But what if you're wrong?"

That's something that atheists have to deal with quite a bit. The minute somebody finds out that you don't believe in a god (and they do), they have this inexplicable compulsion to defend their beliefs and challenge yours.

Frankly, as the skeptic, I don't need to defend my views. We've already discussed Russell's Teapot, right? Anyway, I'll let Dawkins speak for me on this for now. It's a great soundbite worth sharing, in any case.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sarah Palin inspired this blog

Yep. If Sarah (I really can't stand her) Palin had not been chosen as John McCain's running mate, we probably never would have come up with God Obscures Perception. She's the QUEEN of this. This woman can't think for herself. She is such a religious idiot that her ideas of god and religion and its corresponding "rules" completely negate any shred of rational thought she may actually have.

Although, I seriously doubt that Sarah Palin possesses ANY rational thoughts at all.
Lab rats have more sense than Sarah. I swear.
I'm hoping that she has completely pushed herself out of the political scene. I'm hoping that she has pretty much lost any relevance in our society. But... I'll let Matt Damon speak for me on why she scares the shit out of me.

Oh. This is terrifying.

Sarah Palin believes in abstinence only sex education, despite its obvious failings with her own daughter. She believes that creationism should be taught in schools. She believes that the U.S. Army is on a mission from God in Iraq. She believes that rape victims should be denied abortion access. More recently, Sarah Palin tweeted this:

Gulf disaster needs divine intervention as man’s efforts have been futile. Gulf lawmakers designate today Day of Prayer for solution/miracle

Really?! REALLY?! Are you fucking kidding me? This is a disaster CAUSED by man's negligence and it has been SOLVED (albeit very frustratingly) by man's ingenuity. I could go on and on about Sarah Palin's disturbing beliefs.

Yeah. Let's pray about it. I'm sure all those prayers help solve problems.  
Just like they helped you and McCain win the presidency.