Hello, my name is…

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See me perched up here?  This is MY ottoman.

See me perched up here? This is MY ottoman.

…Scamper. This really nice lady rescued me from a busy intersection on a four-lane highway. I was so tiny, not even four weeks old then. She posted a picture of me on facebook to find a home for me and somehow Ruth saw me and thought I was adorable. I am. Ruth contacted the nice lady but by that time nice lady’s husband had insisted on me going to the pound.  That’s not usually a good thing.  But Ruth shared my picture with The Brit and he went that day to get me.  I was so afraid of everything that I didn’t come out from under the bed for two days.  Finally I decided The Brit and Ruth were kinda nice and they weren’t going to eat me so I came out.  Then I became even more adorable and pretty lovable.  So there’s that.

This is me, in my spot behind the sofa, trying to nap.  You may take your leave now, Ruth.

This is me, in my spot behind the sofa, trying to nap. You may take your leave now, Ruth.

The Brit and Ruth are my waitstaff. I have found that after nearly a year they make an excellent head butler and head housemaid. As my staff they insure that everything runs smoothly; that I get to come inside when I want; that I get to go outside when I meow at the door; and that there is always plenty of food for me.  I’m a little picky.  I like the tins of food with bits of cheese and lots of gravy.  So they fetch that for me as a special treat.  I get a lot of treats.  Hey, I’m special!  I’m the king of this here castle; the master of my domain.  I rules the roost.  All the neighborhood cats come to my house to play. I am one cool cat.  I also enjoy morning cuddles with Ruth and The Brit and afternoon naps behind the sofa.  I’m really not too sure at all about our other house guests.  Especially that big one.  She is just a guest, isn’t she?!?

See, I'm showing you my stump!

See, I’m showing you my stump!

Hey there!  I’m Stumpy.  I’m not sure who my people are, but I’ve employed The Brit and Ruth to take care of me, too.  I showed up here not too long after they moved in.  Scamper definitely is a cool cat.  He’s the reason I started coming here;  I keep coming for the food.  They noticed my stump right away.  They watched me for a while thinking I belong to somebody.  I belong to no one.  They all belong to me.  I digress.

I'm workin' it.

I’m workin’ it.

Finally they got tired, I guess, of watching me hobble along on this stump.  It stayed kinda raw.  The Brit tricked me into letting him pick me up and he hauled me down the road to a hospital.   They gave me a shot because I was infested with fleas and a shot for rabies. Instead of bandaging up this leg they said it was better to leave it because it will heal on it’s own.  Whatever.  I just wanted to get outta there because the Dr. said something about cutting the rest of it off.  We don’t want to go that route.  I’m getting along just fine like I am, thank you.

 

I'm being cute right now.

I’m being cute right now.

Oh, hello!  My name is Dottie. I’m a two-year-old Pointer-mix.  My foster parents found me in the median in front of their house.  They said I was malnourished and nearly dead, possibly even blind in one eye.  I’m supposed to hunt, but I don’t like guns.  I don’t like fireworks on the television, either.

I’m not.  Blind, that is.  I just needed some food.  Ruth saw me on facebook, too.  She came to see me at an adoption event.  There were lots of other dogs there, too.  But she thought I was the one.  She didn’t adopt me that day, though.  The Brit needed to meet me first.  They came to see me at my people’s house.  I really liked them.  My people, that is.

Someone has been mean to me so I’m pretty skittish and it takes me a while to warm up to people.  Especially to men.  The Brit is really tall and he kind of scares me.  It took me a few days, but now Ruth is my person.  I’m her shadow when she’s at home.  The Brit is okay.  He gives me lots of treats and pets me when I let him. I like him better when he’s sitting down.  I’m coming around.  He’s not so bad…it’s just that I’m scared. All the other animals and kids flock to him, so he’s probably alright. He’s being really patient. I just got here ten days ago and I’ve come a long way, really.  At first I would only back away and bark and growl but now I don’t do that so much.  Just a little when he’s sitting on the sofa with my Ruth.  I don’t really like that, but I guess I’ll have to get used to it.  It doesn’t do me any good to get angry about it.  They still sit next to each other. :/   Deep down I’m just a big baby.  At 25kgs I think I’m only 5kgs.  I really want to be a lap dog.

The teacups behind me were fun to play with!

The teacups behind me were fun to play with!

I can do a few things, too.  Like ‘sit’, and ‘down’, and ‘come’.  When I’m not too excited. We’ll work on that. I’m a really good running partner, too.  Not so much the walking.  I’m a puller.  I like to drag Ruth through the neighborhood.  The Brit can walk me, too, as long as Ruth leashes me up.  I walk better for him.  I don’t pull so much with him.  Other dogs are my friends.  I’m really social with them.  Beth and Dirk brought their Yorkies to meet me and I think I did pretty well. I just wanted to play. I don’t know what everybody was getting worked up about.  They’re not that much smaller than me!  I also like to counter-surf but Ruth puts pepper on there to keep me from doing it.  Pepper tastes bad.  And just the other day she busted me digging around the fence.  Bummer.  She started kenneling me until she can fix it so I can’t dig.  Party pooper!

All in all I think this place is going to be okay.  Especially if I can get that Scamper to play.  I wasn’t too sure at first.  I really didn’t want to leave my people.  I had only been there a month-and-a-half, but they saved me.  And that’s gotta be worth something, right?

We own this joint.  The humans just get to live here.

Happy Passover!

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“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.” Exodus 12:12

 

passoverHave you ever stopped to think that while you’re celebrating Passover you’re really celebrating the death of thousands[millions?] of people and animals at the hand of your God?  Happy Passover!

Barbarianism, Alive and Ready to War

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violenceI won’t link to his website here.  Just a quick Google search of the name and you’ll find it if you want to see it. I just went there to see if this quote was accurately attributed. It is.

Now, I’m not a militant-feminist.  I simply want equality, having no desire to push anyone else down – male, female, black, white – makes no difference to me.  Poking around over there gave me a case of the hives and made me afraid.  It made me afraid that there really are white men[any men] in America – or anywhere, for that matter – with this mentality.  The only reason I even know about it is because someone I’m friends with on Facebook posted the meme.  Surely this was some kind of joke, I thought.

This call to tribalism and male dominance is appalling.  I would think that even you men out there would agree with that.  Why would anyone want to back up?  I wouldn’t have thought that anyone in the 21st century would be advocating this.  If violence is the gold standard, sell all your gold.

Why do [some] white men feel as if anyone seeking equality is a threat?  Those of us not white and muscle-bound have to do that through the ballot box and legislation.  We don’t go around punching people in the face(or refraining from it only because we’d be thrown in jail) to get our way.  This doesn’t seem much like masculinity to me.  It seems more like five-year-olds in a sand-box.  Or a two-year-old throwing a trantrum to get his way; childish and archaic.

Is this what survival of the fittest is about?  If a man can dominate, if he can hold you down, if he’s the leader of the pack he’s king.  That someone of the male persuasion would think this way or, more crucially, behave this way says to me he’s no man at all.

Human ethics dictate that we protect those weaker than ourselves; not seek to destroy them.  This is barbarianism, plain and simple.  Some how I think men with this mentality would take that as a compliment, though.

Arm-Wrestling with the Devil

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devil-v_-jesus“One Day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.  The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”  Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”  Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?  You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely cure you to your face.”

The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:6-12

Since man has been able to reason he has questioned why bad things happen to good people and the converse.  The best anyone has been able to come up with is that the gods are toying with us.  Even the author of Job, whoever that is, came to this conclusion.  He imagined that his God handed him over to Satan for no other reason than to prove his greatness.  Why would anyone that great need to prove himself in the first place?

His good friends admonished him that he had clearly sinned but, Yahweh himself said, Job was upright and blameless.  He’d done nothing wrong.  The only thing good old Job was guilty of was loving and revering Yahweh.  The thanks he got for his trouble was everything – including his seven sons and three daughters – taken from him.  And when this failed to make him curse Yahweh Satan made a second appeal which Yahweh, without hesitation, obliged:

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.” Job 2:1-6

What strikes me in both of these exchanges between Lucy and Yahweh is that in both instances Yahweh pushes Job at Satan.  He taunts Satan with Job’s devotion and offers him up on a silver platter for Satan to do as he wishes, short of killing Job.  Oh, yes, just make him wish he were dead.

Job is allowed to ask his questions of Yahweh, but Yahweh doesn’t answer him. He offers up riddles and platitudes that are so familiar in the Christian vernacular.  It’s a mystery.  Yahweh’s ways are higher than our ways; his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  Is that all Job’s life and his anguish were worth?

Are Yahweh’s ways higher than ours; his thoughts higher than ours?  This reeks of the alpha-male power trip of a maniac.  Is this the same Yahweh who doesn’t tempt us?  Tempting Job?  That’s what this was all about, was it not?  To see how much Job could endure and still remain faithful and praise Yahweh?

Job says:

“I know that you can do all things; that no plan of yours can be thwarted.

You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.”

Indeed, Yahweh’s arm-wrestling match with Satan was a mystery to wonderful for Job to know.

The account does say that Yahweh restored Job and blessed him with even more than he originally had for his blind allegiance.  Can one child be replaced by another?  How about ten children?  Any parent who has lost a child certainly knows that, even though they love their other children, the one or ones they lost cannot be replaced.  That loss would be there until Job died.

In my life-application Bible it says the lesson to be learned is this:  “Don’t draw inward from the pain.  Proclaim your faith in God, know that he cares, and wait patiently for his aid.”

I ask you: would a caring parent throw their faithful, loyal child to the wolves?  And should that child be grateful for that parent swooping in to save him or her from the suffering that the parent, himself, ordained?  Geez, thanks, dad.  Go eff yourself.

[TW:hell, abuse] Still a Prisoner; in a hell of our own making

forgiveself

There are many of us who sincerely believed all we were taught.  We believed in heaven and hell.  We believed that anyone else who didn’t believe was headed to a place of eternal torment with weeping and gnashing of teeth where those we cared about and those we didn’t even know would burn forever and ever.  Some of us even wondered how that would be worked out.  Zoe wondered:

Jesus was love and then He wasn’t.  He was the judge.  The penalty, the sentence?  Hell.  What’s it like to love and then just toss even those most wicked of people into the eternal, the everlasting fire.  Does their skin sizzle, does it burn off and then mysteriously reappear only to burn off again?  The screams of those frying?  Do they scream?  Are their voice boxes charred to bits in the fire?  And the not very wicked?  Do they get maybe a cigarette burn and not the whole furnace?  If so, how many cigarette burns?

Personally, I always thought it would be the sensation of burning, maybe not actual flames, but still with the aroma of burnt flesh.  Smoldering smoke rising all about while untold numbers languished in the agony of their burning.  Anyone who’s ever had a third-degree burn would know.  That feeling – only consuming your entire being; whatever that might be.  That burning sensation that no amount of cold water or ice packs can ever really extinguish.  Painful.

hell

We believed this so much and were traumatized by it ourselves from early ages, not necessarily by our parents, but even just the general knowledge that seeped in from church, from television, from society.  Even if our parents didn’t dwell on it and teach us this heinous doctrine directly we got the message that hell was horrendous and no one wanted to be there – even if they didn’t know it themselves.

Because of this belief – which we internalized – we did the only loving thing we knew how to do.  We preached the gospel.  It mattered not if we liked the doctrine of hell.  It mattered not if it was reasonable or rational to believe it.  We started with the presupposition that God was and that this God was the Christian God of the Bible.  If that be true it didn’t matter if we agreed with his form of justice or if we approved.  Who was the clay to tell the potter what to do with his vessels?  He could break them into a million pieces if he wished; just ask Job.

This literal belief in hell drove us to subject ourselves to abuses beyond what we’d imagined.  Moreover; abuse begets abuse.  We abused others with the love we lavished on them.  We believed this doctrine so much that the trauma it caused was a necessary evil in our minds.  If it’s true that non-belief results in an eternity of torment, which is worse?  A little trauma in this life?  Or an eternity of trauma in the next?

Over the ages people have attempted to reconcile a loving God with the God who created this “justice” system.  This doctrine has been twisted and turned in every angle to wrestle with it’s implications.  What about children?  What is the age of accountability?  What about people who have never heard the gospel?  What about those who were raise in other cultures and religions who, even upon hearing the gospel, reject it because it’s, well, unbelievable for them?

Rob Bell argues that “at the centre of the Christian tradition since the first church have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins.”[1] Universal salvation.  No hell, and if there is it’s educational, and not eternal.  Different ‘sects’ of Christianity have attempted, at different times, to get the hell out of their Bibles, only to the clanging cymbals of those who can’t imagine an eternity where there isn’t one.

Then there are those of us – like Zoe, myself, and countless others – who have rethought our position on the whole pursuit.  We said ‘to hell with hell and all the rest’.  Not before many sleepless nights, many nightmares, much anguish, wringing hands, much study and consideration did we come to our conclusions.

What I would plead with you all to know is; we are sorry.  We acted in good faith on what we knew to be true at the time.  And we are sorry.  We traumatized others with our version of truth and what we were just so damn sure was reality.  We literally tried to scare the hell out of our children and others.  We have wept over our actions.  And we are sorry.

There comes a time, though, when we’ve said we’re sorry enough.  When we must stop beating ourselves up over our past failures.  If we continue to wallow in the agony of what we did in the past what good have we accomplished?  We may be free of those inane beliefs, but we are still prisoners in our own minds.

We may have done some things we regret, but we are surely not the sum of those things.  It’s time to forgive ourselves.  It’s time to live free.

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[1]Excerpt from Love Wins, Rob Bell

*Edited to add citation.

Evolving Morality

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I’ve been reading around the blogosphere for, now, going on four years.  The reason many Christians to try to give for their God not outlawing certain practices falls woefully short of any sound logic. So the reasoning goes, and I have used this reasoning myself in my Christian days, that God did not want to take away our free will, our autonomy, our ability to choose these things.  Take slavery, for instance:  Christian logic dictates God’s edicts about the treatment of slaves is merely legislation of a societal practice already in place.

This same logic rationalizes the way the spoils of war were treated. By spoils of war I don’t just mean possessions.  Or do I?  What are women and children in the Bible if not possessions?  When Israel made their conquests they were told to annihilate their foes, killing all the men, and taking the women, children and livestock for their plunder(Deut. 20:13-15).  The Israelites were authorized to use their plunder for themselves.  Got that?  They could use the women and children.  These were the rules of engagement for those cities who simply lay in their path on the way to their promised land.  Oh sure, those cities would be offered a chance for a peaceful surrender; one that involved submitting themselves willfully to slavery.  Who could resist that offer?

Even worse were the rules of engagement for the cities to which they would lay siege and call home.  In those cities they were to kill everything that had breath(Deut. 20:16-18). Men, women, children, the precious babies, livestock….everything. Why?  Because their idolatry might rub off on the Jews.  Yes, those tiny little newborns, little kiddies, and cattle would lead God’s people down the primrose path of destruction.  The only thing safe in those cities were the fruit bearing trees(Deut. 20:19-20).  Anything else was fair game for use in their efforts to win the battle.

These rules came from that staunch arbiter of objective morality, Himself.  Himself has declared himself to be good, so Divine Command Theory suggests that anything that Himself does, commands, or says is also good.  We don’t have to like it; we just have to believe it an do it.  What does it say about the supreme being that some consider to be the author of all things ethical that we have evolved past these archaic and barbaric practices in most of the civilized world?  What does that say about morality, in general, that you and I are more compassionate, more advanced in our thinking than the supposed creator of the universe?

I think it says quite a bit about where morality really comes from.  Let’s talk about the ten commandments, shall we?

ten_commandmentsIf the Judeo-Christian God did not mean to impede free will, autonomy, or choice why lay down any laws at all?  If making a law against an act infringes on free will why do the ten commandments not infringe on free will? The making of a law does not infringe on the notion of free will at all.  What’s that saying?  Rules are made to be broken?  Reading through the ten commandments objectively( ;) ) one can easily see that these are a social construct.  The first four deal with unification of he people.  We all worship the same deity, in the same way, and with the same fervor.  That intensifies the last six.  If the people believe that these laws are being laid down by a supernatural being who will strike them down for disobeying the last six they’re much more likely to obey them.  The leaders could say, ‘hey, it’s not us, it’s God!’

Telling children to obey their parents seems like a good place to start.  After all, children belong to their parents; it’s only right that they should kowtow to their every demand and command with a hearty ‘yes sir!’ and ‘yes ma’am!’.  What if the parents are terrible?  Same deal, right?  Only in today’s society we recognize that sometimes staying as far away from our parents is the most honoring thing we can do.  We don’t automatically assume every parent to be worthy of having children.  Just because a person has reached a certain age doesn’t follow that they’ve reached any level of maturity or sanity, for that matter.  We know that now.

Many translations change ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to ‘Thou shall not murder’.  We know that instinctively, do we not, that murder is not acceptable in society.  We have evolved with, not only a sense of empathy, but a sense of survival that tells us that if we murder everyone else we might be king for a day, but in the long run we’re kind of screwed.  We need other people, we need a community, to survive and perpetuate our species.

Adultery, theft, and covetousness all deal with possessions.  You read that right.  Possessions.  In the Old Testament the only way a man committed adultery was to fornicate with another man’s wife.  A man could have as many wives and concubines as he wanted and never was considered to be committing adultery.  Why was it adultery for him to have sex with another man’s wife?  Because she was his possession.  He owned her and any children she might have so if she fornicated with another and bore children the other man could lay claim to those children.  The husband would have now way of knowing if those children were his property or not.  On the other hand, a woman could only have one husband.  Many read into the New Testament a command for marriage to be between only one man and one woman, but that’s taking serious liberties with the scripture.  Nowhere is the practice of polygamy condemned.  You won’t find it.

Not bearing false witness against our neighbors is a rational and reasonable law.  Slander and false testimony intended to deprive a person of their property or good reputation is detrimental to a functioning society.  Again, a social law for the good of the community.

Do we really need a deity to tell us not to do these things?  Does laying down the law impede our ability to choose?  Simply, no.  Is this by any means objective morality?  Clearly not when the deity, Himself, arbitrarily chooses when and how they should be implemented.  It’s not okay to kill your neighbor, but it is okay, even commanded, to slay the entirety of a nation?  Even the way the spoils of war are treated has evolved because we know that however we treat prisoners of war will be meted out to those of our own who are taken captive.  Thus we’ve created laws which prescribe the code of conduct regarding the treatment of prisoners and plunder.  We’ve made slavery, rape, and abuse against the law in most countries.  We recognize the harm that is perpetrated, not only to individuals, but to entire societies.

Why do Christians continually excuse the lack of compassion and morality their god displays with the wave of a hand and write it off to free will?  It’s a ridiculous notion if you really consider it.  ‘Thou shalt not have slaves’ is much easier to say and shorter to write than the plethora of laws concerning treatment of slaves, up to and including how to beat your slave and in what circumstance it is acceptable to kill him or her.  That’s no more an infringement than ‘thou shall not murder’. ‘Thou shall not rape’ is much better than ‘if a woman can’t be heard screaming out you must pay her parents the dowry and marry her’.  If a person cannot read these laws and come to the conclusion that these were a product of the times and the society, instead of rationalizing how God isn’t complicit in abhorrent behaviors because he was merely a legislator, then they seriously need to re-examine their ability to reason at all.

Still, even though we’ve evolved past these simplistic, barbaric, archaic laws there are those who murder, steal, lie, cheat and covet. The laws set forth in the Bible are no more objective than the laws let forth by society.  There is no more objectivity in a given law simply because it comes from an ancient document.  Those who hold that objective morality comes from God are deluding themselves.

I’m in agreement with Violet that morality has evolved over time.    Ignostic Atheist summed it up well with this comment in response to Mark Hamilton’s moral argument:

Morality has 20/20 hindsight, therefore it is absolute (duh, of course that was wrong to do). In the future, we may discover thing that we do now are immoral, therefore morality is relative (this is nice, but oh, it hurts someone down the line). If a person can argue that slavery is absolutely wrong, but admit that, at one point, it was considered acceptable, then they must adopt the relative framework, because it is impossible to know, even if there exists an absolute framework to discover, whether or not you have fully discovered that framework.
 
Well, duh!  That’s absolute morality, folks.

Let Me Tell You a Secret

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I’m fairly introverted.  Most people don’t hear a lot about my personal life.  I can easily connect with people on a superficial level, talk about the weather, and I love to hear their stories.  I want to know what makes a person who they are. On the other hand, I don’t give that information out so readily in person.  I’ve written a fair amount about the personal, intimate details of my life here somewhat anonymously.  Things that are difficult for me to say out loud I’m far more comfortable putting down on paper.

My best friend knows I’m quirky, all my deep, dark secrets, that I’m a morning person and he’s not, that I’m grouchy and stupid when I’m tired, that I’m stubborn as a mule, that I can be annoying when he’s tired. I want to talk when he wants to be quiet.  I want to be quiet when he wants to talk. I really can be kind of a pain in the ass.  He knows what I look like with morning hair and no make-up and that I dress like a hobo when I’m bumming around on Saturday.

He works hard, long hours but he also knows how to let his hair down and have a good time.  He’s genuine and real.  He has flaws and quirks of his own and doesn’t mind saying so.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s handsome, and he’s sexy as hell.  He’s strong and he’s weak. He’s gentle and rough. He teaches me things about myself and challenges my thinking.  He’s changed me in ways he can’t possibly know without even trying to.  He has no idea that when he took that tiny spider outside instead of squashing it, like I would have, it made me love him more. I watch him when he’s concentrating really hard and he purses his lips and has to hold his mouth just right.  It’s unconscious  to him and adorable to me.  He lifts me up and supports me in everything I do, always encouraging along the way.

There’s a saying that the only three things a man should want to change about a woman is her last name, address, and her viewpoint on men.  Two out of three ain’t bad.  You see, I get to be married to my best friend.  He knows all my faults and foibles and loves me anyway.  To be fully known and loved anyway is to be fully loved.  I’m not one who believes people are born to be together.  For me it’s better to be wanted than needed.  I’ll take that any day of the week.  I choose him and he chooses me.

Ruth&TheBrit

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