Culture War

This is the world I come from.

The author is far younger than I am. She came along after I’d already begun the process of leaving.

And I have a couple of slight quibbles with what she says.

Through these programs we learned how to argue effectively. As students, we were taught critical thinking skills but given only a narrow view of what was acceptable to argue for. We were, after all, being trained to take over the country for Christ, literally. We knew how to perform logical gymnastics about abortion, Christianity and any evangelical talking point you could throw at us.

They were not taught critical thinking skills.  Not. Critical thinking skills involve being able to look at all sides of a position. To do that, you first have to recognize that there might well be more than two sides, maybe more than three or four. You have to be able to understand the opposition, not just out-argue them.

These folks don’t have that skill.

I know they don’t because I didn’t.  I was never taught it. In fact, I was inoculated against it.  Even attempting to understand another viewpoint was seen as “compromise” and was evil.

We impressed every government official and staff member with our questions, earnesty [sic] and demeanor. In short, we were sneaky and polite Trojan horses; we had an agenda. Yes, even as 15-year-olds. It was forcefully handed to us by the adults in our lives who had been preparing for this since before we were born.

My generation, too, did this. We were encouraged into political activism with the rise of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority (which was neither moral nor a majority).

And I knew Mike Farris way back before he started Generation Joshua. I remember reading some of the stuff from HSLDA, though, and getting a glimmer of what he envisioned.  He has actually failed absymally, in spite of the election of that moron in the White House.

Progressive culture has made great strides in my lifetime. It’s going to be difficult to tell LGBTQ people to get back in the closet, to dissolve their marriages, to tell women that exercising reproductive choice is evil and that their duty is to have babies.

Farris and company want to turn the clock back, and doing that is almost impossible.

The problem this subculture has is numerical.

They know this.  They don’t have the people.

So they attempt to breed them.  Make babies. Adopt babies.  Lots of kids = good. Few/no kids = not God’s will so you’re selfish and evil.

But they have not been as successful in keeping the babies in the fold as they have been at having them.

And therein lies hope.

However, and this is a big deal, I do not agree with her that Pence is seen as the Messiah.

This might be true among the faithful, but the faithful is a shrinking group.  As these fundigelicals quit going to church, they typically don’t abandon “God.”  I didn’t for a long, long time.  I understand why they don’t.  It’s part habit, part deep-seated indoctrination, and part fear. Instead, they abandon the organized church and bring their horrible “God” with them.

What they do seem to do is become more racist and nationalistic, just like the awful “God” they continue to embrace, which is the core problem that gave us the moron in the White House.

And therein lies horror.

NOTE:

I found this piece to be interesting, from Richard Dawkins, reporting on a study done about the prevalence of atheism in America.  However, I thought the description of exactly how they did the study confusing, so I went and read the report itself and it was actually pretty brilliant.  It was also done by a couple of psychology profs at the University of Kentucky.

Maybe there are more of me out there.

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26 thoughts on “Culture War”

  1. Being an atheist is difficult right now because I am struggling to not perceive Kushner as the Antichrist from both the predictions of Nostrdamus and the Bible

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  2. If you mean atheists, yes there are a lot more of them out there than you think.

    In my lifetime I have only known a handful of people that actually believe in a god. I’ve known more people who pay their religion lip service or attend church for the folks, the kids, for community, business and neighborliness. Not because they believe.

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  3. I attended a church some years ago and was asked to put an anti-abortion sign in my front yard. I own my house & I proudly fly the American flag. Having gone to college & retired as a counselor for youth who were in trouble with the law, I said NO. The preacher decided I needed a stern talking to about it. I told him when you look into the eyes of a 12 yr old incest victim, you don’t know what you will say. I never encouraged a yes nor did I encourage a NO. I just listened, I listened and wondered often if she would live. I also held young girls who gave babies up for adoption because it was shameful to the family. She cried & I cried with her. That went on in a small dark and musty office for two years. She went home & I never knew where she landed in this world. YEA, there are multiple sides to this debate. I am sure that preacher never put that sign in his yard because he’s a neighbor.

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  4. there are multiple sides to this debate.

    This is what just drives me crazy about the media. I know they are limited in time. I know that if they try to present all facets of the issues, we’re all going to switch the channel. And I know that it is relatively impossible to have six people, each presenting a different view, on camera having a discussion all at once, because I’ve seen them try to do this and it ends up in a shouting match and nobody is listening.

    So, what happens is that there are two talking heads, one “pro” and one “con.” And of course, if you ask the average person, they might fall someplace in between pro and con.

    And the “pro” guy and the “con” guy both want to get in their talking points, and they know they have exactly 40 seconds to do that, so that’s what it’s reduced to.

    I understand the dilemma, and can’t point fingers at the media because they can’t help it. I’m not sure they can fix it.

    “Print” (nowadays, it’s online) media is far, far better, simply because of this issue.

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  5. “But they have not been as successful in keeping the babies in the fold as they have been at having them.

    And therein lies hope.”

    No matter how you try to indoctrinate your children, as adults they will make their own choices.

    Some will internalize the fear that is at the heart of fundamentalist Christianity and live their lives under that shadow.

    Some will not. It’s a crapshoot. How can they not understand this?

    Quiverfull parents might be more successful trying to wish unicorns into existence. Then maybe innocent unbelievers wouldn’t be harmed in the process.

    I come from a family of 6 kids, raised strictly fundie. Only one of us still attends church and it’s not the one we were born into.

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  6. I come from a family of 6 kids, raised strictly fundie. Only one of us still attends church and it’s not the one we were born into.

    Similar in my family. Three of us and only one is still Christian. Mama tried, but she was always lousy at proselytizing anyway.

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  7. I was the good person, I knew that when I breathed my last breath that Jesus and all my relatives were going to meet me and lead me into the promised land.
    It took me a long time to understand that in my mind that was not the case.
    Last year my aorta dissected, I endured 9 hours of surgery, my body temp was lowered by 20 degrees to save brain function and I was put on a heart lung machine. Now twice on the table I died but for the (skill) of the surgeons they got me back. But the effects did leave me with a stroke. At no time were my relatives waiting for me.
    I have people tell me, that god must have something special for you,, and that would be what? teching me how to walk again, feed myself without getting food all over myself? No thanks, I have better things to do then to worry about if I am going to a hell or heaven. I leave that for people who live in fear

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  8. There are lots of Atheists out there. And “Nones”. And agnostics. And Unitarian Universalists (who are totally ok with Atheists…they’re ok with pretty much everyone)

    In a couple short generations, the tide is going to turn in a major way on religion.

    Look at Millennials. The most irreligious generation ever in America.

    Why are they less religious?

    Because they’re more informed.

    They grew up getting to know someone from Finland, or China, or India on the internet playing a game. They had Google to ask all the questions they were afraid to ask in their small communities. They do their research. When something sounds funny to Millennials, they Google it. They are the first generation of people for whom this has always been available. Every hour of the day…with a click of a mouse.

    Young adult pop culture has changed a lot, too. For the first time in history, it’s mainstream for kids to read manga from Japan and listen to world music. (not just British bands) There’s more “sameness” being experienced by our kids internationally than the “difference” we grew up with.

    My son loves Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese film maker/animator with Studio Ghibli (now retired). I’ve probably seen a dozen films by this film maker because son so admires him, and the films are just beautiful, sensitive, compassionate. In a Ghibli film called Grave of the Fireflies, we see Hiroshima through the eyes of a the protagonist, who is a young Japanese boy. (Yep, this is something American kids watch…while crying for the Japanese kids)

    Our kids….for the first time ever….have true global perspective. They’re looking at everything from different perspectives. They’re talking to people from all over the world.

    Religion is going to be a casualty of the internet……….because it’s time.

    It’s very hard to buy into terrifying difference….when you’ve experienced sameness.

    The driving force of religion is fear and difference. Without it…without the tribalism and the groupthink…they’re pretty much out of business.

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  9. It’s interesting that KatataFish brings up the internet. The internet is what lead me to leave the Mormon church. Everything I needed to get answers to was right there. For awhile I was active in the ex-mormon community, I’ve moved past that now, but almost everyone I spoke to left because they finally got the real story online. The mormon church has tried to stop people from leaving by releasing a series of essays, giving their spin on the most challenging historical events but it has sort of backfired.

    HSLDA has always been a sort of trigger for me. Yes we homeschool but we aren’t religious. I also have no issues with regulation. I’m not exactly their target audience. Neither are the vast majority of my homeschooling friends. I happen to be part of a largely secular group of homeschoolers, so my normal isn’t the religious fanatical groups. Every co-op we’ve ever been in has been in a church because that’s the space available but I’ve know three religious homeschool families. Two in our co-ops but they only lasted one session because they didn’t feel it was the proper environment for their kids and the other is my neighbor. The neighbor though thinks we are heathens and I’m totally okay with that.

    Getting back to religion, I was horrible at it. I was raised in a city full of diversity. I never believed we all had to believe the same thing. I was fascinated by other cultures and religions, often going to other types of religious services with friends. As I grew into an adult we moved to another diverse city. I’ve always loved how different people live and never felt they needed to be saved. I guess ultimately it’s why religion wasn’t for me.

    This generation of young people for the most part embraces differences. I’m always amazed at how my kids and their friends are totally nonjudgmental of different backgrounds. And as KatataFish said they are part of a global society with access to the entire world right at their fingertips. It gives me hope. Sure the quiver fullers can continue to breed like rabbits but people just think they are a freakshow, they aren’t actually looking up to them.

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  10. A little off topic….but within the realm of Culture..

    I noticed a few days ago Nicole posted a trailer for “The Glass Castle” film based on the novel by Jeanette Walls.

    She commented: “Looks like a movie I should watch”
    Joe “loved” this comment.

    And I’m sure they feel this way because they just watched the trailer that romanticized the lives of parents not unlike themselves. Have a look:

    I agree, both Joe and Nicole SHOULD watch this film. It’s a must see!

    Then again…I’ve read the book and know what happens. Jeanette, who does love her father…asks her Dad to stop drinking for her birthday (to his credit he does…for a little while)…she then asks her mother to divorce him so the children can be on welfare and eat…her mother who is stark raving nuts says no even though the kids are eating out of dumpsters and eating spoiled beans. Eventually, these two idiot parents put their kids in a situation where the boy is sexually abused, the youngest girl tries to stab her mother (and ends up in a mental institution), and they all leave their parents. (the older ones taking the younger ones with them)

    The parents end up being homeless squatters, and no matter how the kids try to help them, their mental illness makes it impossible.

    In the end, the parents die alone, estranged from children…a few who still love them…but who cannot allow their parent’s unhealthy chaos in their lives and maintain stability. They’ve simply had enough.

    Based on a true story. Was on the best sellers list for like…five years. The book is a page turner you can’t put down.

    Who knows? Could provide a little perspective on what’s coming.

    By all means, Joe and Nicole…see the film! You really DO need to see this film. I’d advise you to read the book instead, but somehow I don’t see that happening.

    To anyone else, though? The book is excellent. If you haven’t read it you’re really missing out.

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  11. No matter how you try to indoctrinate your children, as adults they will make their own choices.

    The Muslims don’t seem to have that problem.

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  12. I agree with your quibble. The writer doesn’t understand the difference between rhetorical skills and critical thinking. Unfortunately I think a lot of people don’t because its really not taught much.

    As usual I enjoyed your writing

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  13. The Muslims don’t seem to have that problem.

    They often don’t live in free societies, and when they do go to another country (as refugees, for example), they are typically marginalized and live in neighborhoods together. Isolation is what makes religion flourish.

    When I was religious, my information sources were severely limited. As somebody already mentioned, the internet freed me. That and the public library.

    Islam is an extremely young religion compared with Christianity. It’s basically at the stage now that Christianity was during the Dark Ages. It also has a sort of loose theology in comparison. Just say that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah and wham, you’re a Muslim. I suspect that there is an extremely large atheist/non-believer population in Islamic countries very similar to the “don’t-give-a-shit” nominal Christians of America. They just can’t say it aloud, ever.

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  14. Unfortunately I think a lot of people don’t because its really not taught much.

    That single thing was the what I struggled with most during my deconversion period.

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  15. Wow KatataFish, that is absolutely beautiful and absolutely true. I am a millenial and was raised in a strict, Evangelical household. I wasn’t allowed to wear my first pair of pants until the fifth grade because the school I was going to until then believed women should only wear dresses/skirts. I’ve come so far from that sheltered little girl because of the internet and the doors its opened to me (among other things). Realizing that there’s more out there than the limited view I was raised with made all the difference in the world.

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  16. The Muslims don’t seem to have that problem.

    Crap like this pisses me off. I happen to live in a city with a decent sized Muslim population. We have refugees from Burma, Somalia, and other counties. My children have had muslims teachers when they were in school. I have Muslim neighbors and Muslim friends. My kids have Muslim friends. My youngest son was the only non-Muslim on his soccer team. Our community hosts community dinners throughout the year so that we can all break bread together and learn of each other’s cultures. When 9/11 happened this community rallied around our Muslim neighbors to let them know we loved them. Are there bigots in my community? Of course they are but luckily they are drown out by love and acceptance. Oh and I’ve known a few people who have left the Muslim faith and funnily enough their families didn’t shun them like my ex-Mormon friends.

    There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Muslim faith. A whole lot of bullshit rhetoric. There are extremist Muslim just like there are extremists in ever religion. Instead of painting a whole religion with a broad brush based on the actions of a few I encourage people to get to know the everyday muslims just trying to live their lives. They aren’t any different than the rest of us.

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  17. @ I may regret this

    The Muslims don’t seem to have that problem

    I personally know two atheist Iranians (in Canada doing grad school) and my son’s Iranian/Canadian roommate this past year had no problems with eating pork, so while you might not see it immediately, I bet within a couple of generations, Muslims, at least those who live in the west, will have that problem too.

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  18. Many folks identify culturally with the religion they were born into. Hence, you see people who identify as Jewish, as Muslim, as Christian (and those are the big three). For a sizable percentage of those people, that identification doesn’t mean they necessarily believe the religious tenets of their “group.” It’s strictly cultural.

    So you have self-identified atheists who celebrate Xmas (I don’t, but I know a good many who do, especially those with children) because there are fond memories surrounding the holiday and the rituals.

    Atheists often participate in Thanksgiving dinner without much thought about what it’s supposed to be about.

    Jews will often celebrate Passover when they are totally secular – they just grew up with the ritual and continue to embrace it.

    And I strongly believe that a sizable percentage (maybe even a majority) of married men in evangelical churches are sitting there only to appease their devoutly religious wives.

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  19. A little look into a tiny slice of teen culture in Louisville.

    We were at Thunder Over Louisville and saw a group of Muslim teens dropped off by their parents to have an exciting day. As soon as the parents were gone these teens opened their backpacks and started pulling out their “real” clothes. The conservative clothing went into the backpacks and the teens were indistinguishable from any other teen at the festival. I had to laugh. It reminded me of my childhood. I have seen the same thing happen with conservative Jews, Catholics, fundamental Christians, and every conservative culture that melted into America.

    The teens all went off on their merry way greeting friends and being what they are, Americans.

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  20. “In the end, the parents die alone, estranged from children…a few who still love them…but who cannot allow their parent’s unhealthy chaos in their lives and maintain stability. They’ve simply had enough.”

    That is an error. Jeannette Walls’ mother lives with her on her farm in Virginia. She bought her mom a horse, she even went so far as to build her mother a house on the property that is now stuffed full of trash, smells like urine and is no doubt going to be bulldozed after her mother dies.

    She’s the only one of the family who can put up with their mother and still has to do it from a bit of a distance.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/jeannette-walls-mdash-lsquodysfunctional-families-are-what-i-knowrsquo-nicole-co/

    http://www.wvliving.com/Spring-2014/Conversations-with-Jeannette-Walls/

    “Actually, I think I have the opposite of the fear of abandonment. I’m sort of pathologically independent. It’s only in recent years that I’ve learned to let people help me.”

    Actually, no, that definitely springs from abandonment. You are “pathologically” independent so no one gets close enough to hurt or disappoint you – again. She was a parentified child. The “good child”, the “mature” one and it still leaves you stilted inside even as an adult.

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  21. “Atheists often participate in Thanksgiving dinner without much thought about what it’s supposed to be about.”

    It’s about being thankful for the food and hanging out with your family, arguing, until the issue is gasping on the floor hoping for a mercy shot. So that you can continue to eat the excellent food and argue about something else, while praising the food to the sky and loving your idiot family despite the fact that certain members are clearly brain-damaged dolts.

    In my family, we don’t stab anyone in the back. We will stand there and argue until it’s time to eat dessert, refuel and re-engage. Or maybe agree to shut up until the next opportunity so that we can all digest.

    In my (*mumbles*) years of life, I can’t recall a single instance where we prayed before a meal. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t grateful for the food though. My father is an excellent cook and my mother is a fantastic baker.

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  22. Tekla….good catch on Jeanette Wall’s mom. Was writing that quite late. You’re correct that it was just her father who died. Her mother is certainly estranged from her adult children, and who can blame them?

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  23. We’re pretty much Atheists at my house, and we celebrate all the holidays as “secular American holidays”.

    Christmas has it’s roots in Saturnalia, a very pagan holiday…..where, ya know…people lit up trees and had a big party with gift giving….and went drunken caroling and tried to seduce girls to come out of their houses to have sex with them…and way back, there were human sacrifices, but then they changed it to gingerbread men, instead. There’s a lot of Pagan in American Christmas…and really, the Christian’s hijacked the holiday…so, fuck it. I like decorations and fun. And Rudolf. Dammit.

    Thanksgiving is kinda funny for me because I have Native American roots….the fourth of July is awkward, too, for the same reason. LOL. But I do like turkey and fireworks….so, fuck it.

    I like all parties that are a good time. I like an excuse to make deviled eggs. As long as no one is a fuckwit about making the celebrations religious on my time…I’m down with all of them. Good food, good people? Hand me a lump of clay and I’ll make a dreidel and watch Barbara Streisand movies. I am on a damned diet…so i’m all about celebrating Ramadan tomorrow. LOL. Have some damned solidarity with other people starving themselves. Maybe we can look at pictures of food and commiserate and be grouchy together? LOL:)

    Halloween is all mine. My most favorite.

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  24. Oh no. I did not know there was a cult of people that regard Pence as a messiah. I was happier before this knowledge. Now my head keeps shaking back and forth as if I have a nervous twitch, which I may develop before this is over.

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