Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Evolving Morality

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.


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Let Me Tell You a Secret

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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Satisfied

OpenBible4Do you subscribe to the idea of Biblical inerrancy?  Do you think you’re an inerrantist?  Let’s examine for a moment what that means.  Open the Word and illuminate your mind:

That means that you agree that the Great Flood was a righteous act on the part of your God.

That means that when God carries out his wrath he has instigated such calamities and atrocities as infants’ heads being dashed upon rocks, women being violated, men being thrust through with swords.  (Isaiah 13)

That means that when you are continually found in violation of God’s commands he is well within his rights to make you eat your own children as punishment. (Lev. 26)

Are you comfortable with that?  Don’t you agree that God is God and he has the right to give life and take it as he sees fit?  Don’t you agree that these judgements are righteous and always good?

No?  Then you aren’t an inerrantist.  I hadn’t thought of it this way before.  I’m reading The Human Faces of God by Thom Stark and he makes this distinction.  Oh, that’s Old Testament, you say.  This is what you believe your good God has done in the past.  And you call it righteous. Sure, as a Christian you may try to sanitize this by saying that God no longer is vengeful in this manner because his blood lust has been satiated for all eternity by the blood of his own child.  Think about that for a moment.   He was satisfied by blood.

This is the God who, in your inerrantist view, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  When a pregnant woman ran her van, carrying her three children, into the ocean in Daytona Beach she said Jesus told her to do it.  People, including believers, think she’s crazy.  No sane person, inerrantist or not, would ever believe that God told her to do this.  Inerrantists are the same people who believe that God once told his people he would make them eat their own children but now think this is abhorrent behavior.  This is the same God you claim when you want to celebrate the sanctity of life. 😯

Even if this god of yours exists, he isn’t good just because he declares himself to be.  He isn’t good just because you are breathing air.  He isn’t good because he changed his mind about us needing to kill animals and burn them up to satisfy his fetish for the scent of burned flesh.  Are you still an inerrantist?

Are you satisfied to call this God good just because you believe he/she/it exists?

I’m not. Thanks, but no thanks.


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Writing the Wrong

“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.  Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.” ― Vashti Quiroz-Vega

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
― Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls

We sit behind these keyboards and type out words sometimes forgetting that there are actual people on the other end of the computer screen.  We type out these words knowing the intent we have, the thoughts that are running through our own heads, and having no control over how the words are received or perceived.  In the blink of an eye, in a second’s time, the time that it takes to click the ‘publish’ button our words are out there in black and white for all to see. Once the post or comment is published we know with the responses that come back to us that we have communicated ineffectively or, worse, errantly.  Wait, wait, wait…no, that’s not what I meant!, we sit here shouting at the words displayed on the page.

Speaking or publishing words is much like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.  Once the paste has been squeezed from the tube it cannot be put back in.  No matter how much you’d like to or how hard you try you’ll never shove every drop back in the tube.

Words have the power to build up or destroy, to build bridges or walls, to start wars or end them. Words have the power to give life and the power to lob off the head of the one they gave power to in one felled swoop.  They convey love and hate. They can tell our significant others that they are the most important thing in the world to us or tell them they have no value.  Words have power.  Sometimes more power than we are even aware. The saying goes, ‘Actions speak louder than words’, but sometimes words are action; they are our thoughts in action.  Whether carefully crafted or thoughtlessly strung together, words mean things.

What seems benign and unassuming to one takes on a different meaning and one of more import to another.  Within a few clicks of the publish button one comment can take on a life of it’s own, filled with meaning that was never intended, simply because we presume intent upon another that was probably never there.  Presuming intent upon another leads to all manner of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and collateral damage left in its wake.

Sometimes in an effort to be humorous or witty we(read: I) use poor judgement and in the blink of an eye the readers’ perception of the us is changed.  It only takes a moment.  It only takes one word and suddenly the miscommunication is blatantly obvious.   It is too late and even more difficult to communicate with two feet in your mouth.  Just because a thing can be said doesn’t mean that it should be said. A thought in one’s head doesn’t always translate well in print.  Is the pen(or keyboard, in this case) too mighty a sword in the hand of this, sometimes incompetent, communicator? Perhaps, but I refuse to be defined by my failures.  These recent words of a much more competent writer than I come to mind:

“We err. The strong and honest admit it, and make amends.” John Zande
 

Can I get a R’amen?


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Death by Fanny Lifter

Over the years I’ve tried various and sundry things to shape up.  Round is a shape isn’t it? To that end, a number of years ago – and by a number I mean about ten – while vegetating on the couch one Saturday morning in my usual potato-like state I saw an infomercial for TheFIRM® workout system.

Now, mind you, I had never been the athletic type.  I’d never been coordinated. At all.  I had given a few aerobics classes a go, but Grace is not my middle name, people.  You know those group classes where you’re meant to go right and everybody in the class does exactly as they’re meant to save one.  Yeah, I would be that one; that one going left when everybody else is going right, knocking everyone over like dominoes.

Even in grade school I was the last picked for any sport.  Softball, kick ball, even Red Rover!  You know the one – Red Rover, Red Rover, send Cindy right over.  Nobody wanted me on their team.  I threw like a girl.  I whiffed the ball when I kicked.  Rarely did I break through the arms of the opposing team.

Well, I was about to change all that from the comfort of my own home at the ripe old age of thirty-two.  For the low, low price of $99.00US.  But, if I ordered now I could get the system for three payments of $29.00US.  And that wasn’t all.  I could get free shipping!

This system was only one of a plethora of choices available.  Nearly every channel had an infomercial for a workout or diet plan of some kind.  But this one was different.  This one was special.  This one had the Fanny Lifter™!

It has come to my attention that fanny doesn’t mean the same thing the world over. So let me clarify:  fanny in this context means butt, backside, derriere, tush, tuchus, ass.

DSCF0866

I ordered it and got the free expedited shipping.  It was at my door within three days, exactly as promised.  It came with this two-piece contraption which was their signature piece of equipment at the time.  It also came with three VHS tapes. Yes, that’s right, I ordered the VHS version.  I’ve always been technologically challenged and behind the times.  What of it?

Do you see that death trap?  Do you? I dutifully unpacked the box and got mNaxQU3s5h2gGA9started straight away.  The three tapes it came with were called CardioSculpt™, BodySculpt™, and AbSculpt™. I stepped, lifted, and squatted with and without weights. I ab crunched, scissor crunched, and oblique crunched.  I grapevined, sambaed, and stepped. All without the fear of injuring someone else or worrying about looking like a complete spazmatic. For a couple of years, actually.  I even built up in the amount of weight I was able to use. I never did look like those women on the video covers, though. Oh well.  Not the point, but it would have been a nice bonus.

As is always the case with me, though, something else came along and caught my interest and before I knew it I was out of the habit.  I probably went on vacation or something and didn’t pick it back up when I returned home.  It never takes much to distract me.  Especially where physical exertion is concerned.

Determined, overweight, and – once again – out of shape I decided to take up running.  It would be inexpensive, effective, and efficient.  I could do that anywhere.  No excuses.  I found a program I could use to build up my stamina.  The Couch-to-5K® fit the bill.  So I laced up and struck out.  No matter how hard I tried, though, I could never run very fast.  In fact, I’m slower than molasses.  I run like I have concrete blocks on my feet.  The fastest I could ever run was an 11:30 mile.  That was me at full blast. Is that even running?  That might be jogging.  It might even just be fast walking.

So much for no excuses.  I don’t have a treadmill and don’t want one.  I like to run outside.  But when the time changes and it gets dark and cold before I get home that’s all she wrote.  Before I know it I’m vegging on the couch and hibernating like an old bear.  By the time I’ve built up from the spring to the fall I stop and the next spring I have to start all over again.  But I do it.  I get right back out there in the spring.

It’s that time again.  On the advice of a fellow blogger I decided to do some strength training to improve my running time and stamina.  I took a 30-day squat challenge so I did 100 squats a day for a month.  Thinking that was a pretty good start I drug that old death trap back out.  I popped the BodySculp tape into the VCR.  Yes, I still have a VCR.  I’m old-school.  That’s how I roll!

Anyhow, I popped that bad-boy in the VCR ready to do some serious sculpting.  I did TheFIRM® signature move -the fanny lift- I squatted, I lunged and before I knew it my heart felt like it was beating outside of my chest.  Possibly on the floor.  I was sweating.  Profusely.  I plopped my butt down on that Fanny Lifter™ and watched for a few minutes, then I got back up and had another go.

I thought I had done pretty well.  By well, I mean I didn’t die.  It didn’t kill me.  As the day progressed, however, my legs and backside became increasingly sore. I thought it would be better the next day, though.  For the next four days I could hardly walk.  Which isn’t really that much of a problem for my job unless I’m expected to actually be there.  I’d have to walk from my house to my car, then from my car into work.  Every move took careful calculation to determine it’s worth.

Knowing the prescription for such is drinking lots of water to flush the lactic acid from my muscles I started out with that.  That produced dilemmas. How could I get the water without having to move?  And then there was the flushing part.  Drinking lots of water produces lots of water.  Holy crap, now I needed to walk to the toilet.  Not only did I have to walk to the toilet, I had to put my sore fanny on the toilet. Ouch!  But before my tush touched the toilet seat I’d have to reproduce a squatting action to get there.  #@%&^%!

What is it they say?  If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger?  I’ll have my husband post the funeral arrangements so you can send your condolences.


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Pious Piety: Speaking the Truth in Love

To the entire LGBT Community: I’m sorry.
I’ve recently had the chance to speak to Jessica and expressed my deepest regret and sorrow to her over how I spoke to her that day. She accepted my apology and we are still quite good friends.

*I don’t normally write or speak of myself in the third person(it’s a little bit weird, I know). I was writing under a different pseudonym at the time.*

Edited to add:  The comments made and the blog she references over at Violet Wisp reminded me of the incident I wrote about a while back.  You should go check Violet out.  She also has crackin’ photos!

http://violetwisp.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/the-christian-approach-to-sex/

When I went over and read the blogpost referenced herein, and the comments that followed it, I was filled with remorse all over again.

Out From Under the Umbrella

 or Ruth being an insufferable fundie.  Or is it fundy?  No matter.

In Ruth’s former life her ex-husband, Charles, had a cousin.  Jessica is a beautiful girl with long, curly, brunette hair, olive colored skin, and an athletic build.  She also has the voice of an angel.  She’s got some fancy name for the type of soprano she specializes in which isn’t coming to recollection at the moment, but she’s trained operatically, and has performed internationally.  A catch, you might say.

Now you know how devoutly Christian Charles’ entire family is.  Old School Christian mafia – Southern Baptist style.  So when Jessica brought her best friend to Thanksgiving no one thought anything of it.  Ruth did.  They sat awfully close together and the way they looked at each other, well, they were more than just friends.  Ruth said something to Charles about it and he just dismissed it, thought…

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