Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Missing the Point

70mb film, uppercut select

Is that a whole forest over there?  Or is it just trees?  I can hardly tell the difference.

I, myself, have been guilty of saying that political correctness can go too far. It can be taken to extremes.  But is it political correctness that is taken to extremes or is it that we are trying to tip toe around delicate issues to the extent that we don’t want to hurt anyone’s wee wittle feelings at the expense of honesty?

My last post shone a spotlight on what it means to miss the point.  It is easy to spot sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc….etc…etc…

…in everyone else.  We tend to have a gargantuan blind spot when it comes to ourselves.  I am no exception to that. Oh, how I wish I were.

We often try to justify it when we say or do something inappropriate, hurtful, or uncouth.  When we’re called out on it we get defensive and immediately begin the damage control. Human nature rules the day.  When we say it or do it we want everyone else to know how “not racist” or “not sexist” or “not homophobic” we are.  We’d never!

But we just did.  How to reconcile momentary lapses of judgement with personal character…well, that is the rub, isn’t it?

Are we missing the big picture?  The broader concept of what’s being said is completely lost the minute we begin rationalizing our own behavior.  We can’t see the forest for the trees.

These posts are not meant to either endorse nor condemn any particular lifestyles or life choices.  These posts are meant to highlight both the blatant and subtle sexist and misogynist undercurrent that permeates society.

Let me make this clear if I haven’t already.  I think men are as much a product of society as women are.  The way they were raised, the messages we receive from the media and advertisements, the systematic undermining of minority groups and those perceived as weaker – all of that plays into the dynamics of society.  The top dog wants to stay the top dog all the while protesting that they endorse equality.

Oh, yes, we endorse equality.  As long as it doesn’t diminish our own privileged place.  But wait, equality might just mean that privilege isn’t so much a privilege anymore.  It might mean…we are all of equal value as individuals.

This is an easy concept to say one is in favor of.  Yes, on paper that looks like it should, in fact, be so.  But what about individually?  Do we, with our own sense of entitlement, push anyone who dares gain an equal footing back down? Are we, individually, missing the point?



Give it All You’ve Got, Ladies!

I’m a ten-year-old trapped inside a forty-two year old body.  I’ve never understood that to do something “like a girl” meant to be weak, to give half an effort.  Just what the hell is dainty?

Everyone should feel at home being themselves in their own skin.  If you can’t feel comfortable in your own skin you’ll never feel comfortable anywhere.

I’ll admit that the message of what it means to be feminine, to allow the man to be the strong one and not show him up, had it’s hooks in me for a time.  A long time.  But even then I’m pretty sure I was doing it wrong.

I’ve always been mechanically inclined.  I’ve always loved to use circular saws, and miter saws, and wet saws, and power drills, and the blower, and the mower.  Tools are not gender specific.  They don’t know if they’re in the hands of a man or a woman.  A man can wield a Hoover every bit as effectively as a woman can.  The Hoover doesn’t know and it doesn’t care who switched the power on.

I’m not particularly athletically inclined.  Neither are a lot of men I know.  That doesn’t mean when they try they’re doing it “like a girl”.  It just means it’s not their forte.  So what?

In everything I try to do I give it 100%.  I don’t care if I look stupid.  When I run I run hard.  When I throw I throw hard.  When I punch I punch hard.

To the women out there; don’t let being a woman make you feel weak or inferior.  Do what you want to do and do with everything you’ve got.  To the men out there;  if you’re intimidated by a woman doing it “like a man”, get over yourself.  Either get better at whatever it is or accept the fact that women are exceedingly capable of most anything we set our minds to.

Women:  Do you typically hold yourself back in order to make a man look good?

Men:  Do you expect a woman to behave like they are incapable so that you can feel better about yourself?

What a load of rubbish!  Why on earth would any man want a woman to hold herself back, to waste her talents, to squelch her passions?  I, for one, want a partner who gives all they’ve got to whatever they’re doing.  I want him to succeed and to dream big and accomplish it.  Why would a man want anything less in his partner?



A Bad Influence

Leigh and I had been really good friends.  Until her mother decided I was a bad influence on her.  We went to the same small Southern Baptist Church.  We were in the same youth group which, for the size of the church, was actually pretty large.   I’d sat at her family’s dining room table where after dinner they always had a family Bible study.

We had a really dynamic, energetic, youth leader.  She talked to us about Jesus, but she also made going to church fun for teenagers.  There was always something going on.  Not in that ‘lure ’em in with pizza and a movie and then manipulate ’em into getting baptized bait and switch’ kind of way.  Not like that at all.  In fact in her group you had to earn pizza and a movie.  There were all kinds of service projects from cleaning elderly church members yards to scraping and painting their houses.  If you wanted to go to Super Wow you had to work to go even if your parents were paying for it.  We always had fun doing all of it.  But I digress.

Leigh and I were really close until one night when we, Leigh, her younger sister, and me, went to the teenage “nightclub” in Big Town.  I wasn’t ever much for the nightclub scene.  Maybe that night ruined me on it.  I don’t know.  Anyway, Leigh and her sister were bumpin’ and grindin’ with all the guys on the dance floor.  I was uncomfortable and bored and decided I’d go cruise the strip with Folsom.  I’d never cruised the strip before.  Cars were bumper to bumper. There was no way out if you were on the inside lane, which we were.  Curfew was 11 p.m.  I was stuck.  On the strip.  With a guy.  At time to head back.  Sweating.  Nervous.  Crying by the time we made it back to ‘the club’.

I just assumed they’d wait there for me.  That was the agreement.  But when I wasn’t there at the the agreed upon time they got on the strip looking for me.  As if they’d ever find me in the sea of cars.  This was before the advent of cell phones.  There was no instant communication.  I didn’t know they were looking for me.  Folsom and I waited.  And waited.  And when they didn’t show back up we assumed they went home without me.  No sense all of us getting in trouble, right?  Not knowing what else to do, Folsom took me to Leigh’s house.  Where they were not.  Only her mother freaking out.  Leigh hadn’t even used a pay phone to call her mom to let her know she’d be late.  And by this time we were hours late.  Not sure how many.

Folsom and I explained what happened.  But she didn’t believe us.  And when Leigh and her sister couldn’t find us on the strip they headed home too.  By the time it was all over everybody was crying and I was banished.  Leigh’s mother didn’t know what I’d been up to with Folsom, but she was sure it wasn’t cruisin’ the strip.  Her kids had never done anything like that until I came along.

Admittedly starting a cruise down the strip at 9:30 when we needed to be rolling out at 10:30 wasn’t the best decision.  I had no idea that it would take an hour and a half to travel three miles and back.  But a bad influence?!?  And nothing Folsom or I said made any difference. In fact, the more we protested, the worse it made things.  She called my mother, my mother came to get me, and that was that.  I wasn’t welcome at their house anymore and Leigh and I only got to hang out at youth group after that.


Illogically Logical

Recently Eldon wrote about his difficulty in settling on a position in his faith or, more succinctly, his lack of faith.  Like many of us leaving behind what we once believed he isn’t sure how to label himself or just exactly which philosophy best describes his position. I’m not sure why a label matters so much except that we’ve had one for so long we believe we should call ourselves something.  Maybe we’ve lived in the black and white for so long we think we should know more than we do.  We should be…certain.

I’m not sure why it is that some atheists seem offended if one says they’re agnostic but don’t identify themselves as atheist. It’s as if they have as much of an agenda as fundamentalist Christians.  I’m agnostic.   I’m really not sure what I believe in regards to a higher power, some energy force, call it what you will.  Is there really no evidence for any of these?  I can understand how folks come to that conclusion, but I’m not there yet.

I’m leaning toward and, practically speaking, atheist. I don’t pray, I don’t worship a god, and I don’t follow a religious philosophy unless you can call the golden rule religious.  I wouldn’t even know which god or if any currently conjectured god, is real. How does one worship a god they can’t even identify?

Some people have never believed in a god.  I can see how someone who has never believed would not be able to relate to the journey of those recovering from religion.  There are others who seem to have lost their faith overnight.  Something just clicked with them and, poof, there went their belief.  I’m not contending it was a small something.  Maybe they learned just one part of what they’d believed wasn’t true so they couldn’t trust any of it anymore.  It isn’t right or wrong.  It just is.  But there are others who take a lot of time in coming to a decision about their faith, who are slow to adopt the name atheist.

In part we are slow to adopt that as our moniker because it is such a loaded term.  At least it is around these here parts.  Being openly atheist makes you untrustworthy, unfaithful, unscrupulous, and, in the opinion of a lot of people, quite possibly unhinged.  I know, I know.  I’m not responsible for what other people think.  I can’t control what other people think.  But I can control what they know about me.

According to one commenter on Eldon’s blog:

“The problem with saying that you don’t define yourself by what you don’t believe and saying that you are uncomfortable with the term “atheist” is to miss the point of what atheism is all about. The stance of not believing in something, per se, is not important. But the lack of belief in certain ideas which have incredible power, authority, and influence over cultures throughout history has a different matter. Te identification has socio-political import, hence the conversation.”

But why does the identification have socio-political import?  Is it that big a deal what we call ourselves?  Somehow I just don’t think so.  What is important is  taking a position on those certain ideas the commenter refers to.  Though he didn’t go into detail about what those are I can’t help but feel that there are a lot of progressive/liberal Christians who take the same exact stance that atheists do.  I just don’t think I have to label myself to be a good person, to oppose the oppression of those who need a voice, to stand up for human rights.

I see the point that if more people came out as atheists maybe…maybe…others would become more accepting.  Maybe more people would realize that atheists aren’t such bad people after all.  But judging by what I know of the fundy believers who hold such disdain for atheists I highly doubt it.  They’d either be in denial of said atheism or they’d assume Satan himself had possession of the atheist.  Evangelicals believe in that sort of thing, y’know.

I’ve been told that my logic about the whole atheist/agnostic terminology is confused and misinformed.  But truly it is not.  I’m quite well aware of the difference between agnosticism and atheism.  Advocatus Atheist has a pretty good article about that very thing.  A quote from the article:

  • Agnosticism deals with knowledge.
  • Atheism deals with belief.

I’m not conflating the terms.  I’m not misinformed about the terminology.  I simply haven’t felt like I had enough knowledge to form a belief.  I’ll readily admit that part of not forming that particular belief has been emotional in nature.  If a Christian can say I’ve walked away from God because of disappointment or anger then I suppose an atheist could say that I won’t just let go of God because because I’m afraid or I need a crutch or some similar emotional reason.  And maybe they’d partly be right.

Grundy at Deity Shmeity asks the question, “What the Hell Am I?”, and makes some pretty good points.  According to his article I’d probably label myself an Agnostic Atheist.  That is, if I wanted to label myself with, y’know, a label.  But to be honest I really don’t give a rip about labeling myself.  I’m not ready to call myself atheist.  Maybe I’m still trying to resist any remnant of my former fundamentalist behaviors.  Feeling a bit rebellious I suppose. *grin*


“If I wanted America to fail”


I still view myself as fairly conservative, though I have developed some more liberal views of certain issues.  I guess that would make me more of a moderate than either conservative or liberal.  You know what?  Everything in moderation…even moderation. 🙂

What happened to the moderates in this country?  Why does it seem in the political arena that everything…everything…is extreme?  Where’s the compromise?  Where’s the dialogue about what is best for this nation as a whole?  Why, oh, why do both sides sound so flaming alarmist?

Just this morning I was at my desk working a captive audience to a conversation that went like this:

Boss:  “It’s always interesting the twist that politicians put on things.”

Co-worker:  “What do you mean?”

Boss:  “Somehow I got on the Democratic Convention emailing list and they want to forgive all the student loans.  They put some twist on this about how good this will be for us all.”

Co-worker: “Well, if Obama gets re-elected in four years there will be no more America.”

Boss:  “If the Democrats gain majority America as we know it will no longer exist.”

Me:  “The Republicans are no better, just different.  Maybe we should fire them all and just start over.”

::rolls eyes::

I’m sick of hearing about this election already.  It’s a long way til November.  *sigh*


Are You Sure?

The Easter Cross at the Southern Baptist Church I formerly attended

On the Thursday afternoon before Easter every year the Southern Baptist Church I attended for the last twenty years constructs this cross of white and red gladiolus.  It is erected in the darkness so that early on Good Friday it is in full display in all it’s glory.  Many times I’ve helped to construct this beauty.  It is still beautiful to me.

For the first time in at least the last fifteen years I didn’t attend church on Easter Sunday.  In fact I probably haven’t been to church but once or twice since last Easter.  That was an odd feeling for me.  It was so strange to sit back and watch and listen, struggling with my faith, knowing I didn’t believe exactly as those around me any longer – yet not knowing what it was I did believe.  It seemed surreal.  I felt like an outsider even though no one else there had any idea of the thoughts running through my head.

I’ve noticed in many of the writings of my fellow travelers of this path of doubt and changing belief a theme that runs throughout Evangelical Christianity.  There are those who litter their posts questioning, or better yet, diagnosing their condition.  “You were never a real Christian,” they say.

What these naysayers cannot conceive of is that there are folks like us.  People who were dedicated to the Cross of Christ.  Those of us who were Sunday School teachers, preachers, music ministers, deacons, and devout lay people who ate, slept, and breathed our Savior.  We studied our Bibles, prayed without ceasing, listened to sermons, home schooled our children, took every Bible study course we were offered and sincerely chased after the Christ. He was our Christ and we were His.

That is, until we weren’t.  There wasn’t one cause, one event, one disappointment. Most of us weren’t even disappointed or hurt or disgruntled.  It was a crack in the claims of Christianity here, and gaping hole there.  It was a process of accepting what was staring us in the face and grieving the loss of what we’d once held so dear.  Even if we haven’t completely decided there is no God, we’ve learned that Christianity isn’t as black and white as we believed and we’ll never be the same.  Christianity wasn’t just a part of who we were, it defined us.

What I’d like to say about all of that is that I know what I believed.  I know that I loved Jesus.  I was sure that He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and raised on the third day. So you doubt whether or not I was a real true believer. *Shrug* If your God is real He knows what I believed.

If I wasn’t saved, how can you be so certain you are?  I was certainly convinced.  Was it a deception of Satan?  How do you know you aren’t being deceived? Maybe that’s what makes you so uncomfortable with the idea that there are those of us who insist we were Christians and that now we are not.


Real Office Conversations

Me:  “The Navy SEAL rescue of the hostages in Somalia was great news.  Puts another feather in Obama’s cap!”

Co-Worker:  “Yeah, it’s just too bad the military has to do all the work and he gets all the credit.”

Me: 😯

So what should the President do, exactly? Should he be the one on the ground in Somalia? Would that make my co-worker happy? Now, I’m not a Obama fan, nor am I an Obama detractor. But I think he could walk on water and some people would find the wrong in that. It would just be for show, I’m sure. 🙄


One Lost Sheep

My phone rang late yesterday afternoon.  It was the phone call I’d been both expecting and dreading for some time now.  My sweet Sunday School teacher called me under some pretense.  We made a bit of small talk and then she asked if she could come for a visit.  I declined as I was just in having a little break from cutting grass.  I really was covered from head to toe in grass and dirt.  That wasn’t a lie.  And I really was just about to head out the door to get back on the mower when she called.  That wasn’t a lie either.

She decided she’d cut to the chase.  I knew she would eventually ask the question.  “D’Ma, why don’t you come to Sunday School anymore?”, she asked with a sad voice.  “I’ve been meaning to call and talk to you about that.  No one has done anything to offend me.  It’s a fantastic group of girls and you are an excellent teacher.  It’s got nothing to do with anybody there.  I just feel that since I’m engaged now and will be married soon and this really is Charles’ family’s church it’s time for me to move on.  I know he isn’t going right now, but I can’t imagine that he would feel comfortable going there with me and my new husband.  And I can’t imagine The Tour Guide will feel all that comfortable there either.  It’s the right thing to do”, came my reply.

“But you could still come until The Tour Guide gets here.  Then you could find a church together,” she pressed.  “I’ve visited around a little just trying to get a feel for new surroundings and what might be out there.  I’m not going to tell you I’ve been to church every Sunday, but I really feel that this is the right thing for me to do.  While I don’t feel all that uncomfortable around Charles’ family, I’m pretty sure I make them uncomfortable”, I said firmly.  “But you don’t make Samantha uncomfortable”, she argued.  “I’m not so certain about that.  I’m pretty sure I do.”

“Well, I know you’ve prayed about it.  I really wish you’d reconsider.  It’s just that I miss having you there and I know the other girls do.  They’re so accepting,”  pushing farther.  “Oh, Mrs. Beale, I know that.  I promise it has nothing to do with you or them.  They’ve not given me any reason to feel anything but welcome there.  Look, we all do things in life and there are consequences and we don’t get to choose them.  This is one of those consequences for me.  It’s time for me to move on,”  I said.  “Okay, well, I’m going to pray about this.  Please think about it some more.  I love you,” she said with more sadness in her voice.  “I know you do, Mrs. Beale.  I love you, too.”

Even though I’d known this question was coming I had no idea what I was going to say.  If I told her the complete truth, If I told her that I no longer believe the way she believes I’d be the subject of the Church Prayer Chain.  Within an hour the whole congregation would be in an uproar.  I’ve already been accused of going through a mid-life crisis because of my relationship with The Tour Guide.

I know she loves me.  I know she’s concerned for me.  She’s doing what a good Christian Sunday School teacher does.  One of her sheep has gone astray and she’s trying to rescue it.  I don’t know how to tell her this sheep has transformed into something else.  It would break her heart.  I’m not ready for this.  I’m not strong enough for this.