/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: March 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thou Shall Not Waste Thy Pity On Me

Of the many inaccurate notions a fair number of Christians tend to subject onto others, this may be one of the more bothersome. I find it egocentric, insulting, ironic, unfounded and yes, even humorous.

The practice in question is the one in which a Christian becomes stricken with sadness upon the discovery of some lost soul who is lacking the guidance of Christ. Firstly, I was curious if their pity targets all non-Christians, including followers of other faiths, or if it is merely the non-believers they feel sorry for. However, as I pondered the topic more thoroughly, it occurred to me that the distinction is a moot point. The bottom line remains the same.

I sincerely have great difficulty fathoming the narrow-mindedness of this phenomenon. It is indisputably egotistical to assume that just because something is paramount in one's life, the same is inevitably true for others. It is a warped and dangerous ideology, indeed, when one is so thoroughly conditioned that they are ignorant to any perception outside their own.

For example, it is no less ridiculous for a Christian to be sad when another person doesn't derive joy from Christianity than it is for me to grieve for someone whose life is not enriched by the
pleasure of photography. Applying the same tunnel vision I could argue, “seeing the world through the eye of a lens enhances life in so many ways that it makes me sad for those who don't experience it's joys.” Likewise, you could apply it to anyone who has chosen different means for fulfillment. Such as someone who has chosen not to have children. Or not to join the country club. Or has no appreciation for the opera. For just as one man's trash is another man's treasure, one woman's misery is another woman's joy. Ultimately, every human being wants for the same thing: to be healthy and happy. Why would anyone concern themselves with the manner in which others use to accomplish this, so long as no one else suffers as a result?

In that regard, thou shall not waste thy pity on me, for I hath not wasted my pity on thou. Although I find the relentless persistence in the pursuit to convince the world to adopt Christianity's insubstantial theories to be a trite pathetic, I personally, reserve sadness for more appropriate recipients. I experience sorrow for the helpless victims of abuse, disease, war, and poverty. I shudder at the thought of abused and neglected children, and mothers with chronically ill babies, and people whose lives have been destroyed by war—a war all too often fought for faith. However, I find no rhyme or reason in affording heartache for the choices made by witting adults.

So, if any Christian wish take pity on my soul, they may wallow in their sorrow. I would only imagine there are many more grievous circumstances to better occupy their hearts.

Contrary to the dark veil they envision looming overhead, I am no less "complete" without religion! In fact, I continue to grow more enlightened and fulfilled the more I learn about myself and the world as a result of overcoming my Christian conditioning and it's bureaucratic double-standards. I am not lost without divine leadership. I am not less of a person. I am not the one missing the bigger picture. Those of us who have 20/20 vision unclouded by religious hypocrisy and propaganda do not suffer from it's absence--hence the very reason we choose not to incorporate it into our lives. I, myself, consider it a tragedy that so many individuals are unable to find a greater purpose without the doctrine of a supernatural deity guiding their way to a rewarding afterlife. Having the strength to acknowledge that my life is not the product of a predetermined course demands that I embody the integrity to accept that my behavior, as well as my happiness, are my own responsibility. For me, it makes no sense to trust such critical matters to anyone else, especially to one of a hypothetical nature.

Along with the presumption that faith brings joy and happiness, it is suggested time and again that religion is a valuable means in cultivating morals; however, real-world studies show that religion actually has the contrary effect! In fact, non-religious countries have the lowest crime rates on earth. Norway, a highly secular nation, where only 10% of the population identify themselves as Christian, has been rated the most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index. The Human Development Index, a similar measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standard of living, has ranked Norway No. 1 every year for the last five years.

In addition to the aforementioned statistics, Gregory Paul acquired data from 18 developed democracies, comparing the correlation of societal health to religiosity and secularism. Here is what he found:

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion…None of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction.” Within the United States “the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest” have “markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast where…secularization approaches European norms”. His conclusion asserted that, “the more secular, pro-evolution democracies…come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life”.” *

For all those still clinging to the myth that religion serves to better humanity, simply take a moment and think in terms of how religion has actually, not perceivably, affected the world throughout history. If you do this honestly, you will envision a great deal of religious-rooted violence which has gone on as long as religion itself, predating recorded history, all the way up to the ongoing tragedies of today which are being carried out as you read these very words. Thousands of years of conflict, hate, genocide, terrorism and millions upon millions of senseless deaths...all in the name of God! There is not enough good in this world to justify the grief and horror caused by religion alone.

The math is elementary. When you add up the total assets and deficits gained and lost, it becomes painfully evident that the net worth of religion is anything but profitable. Forgo your biases, and chew on that.

Now, please remind me. Who is it the Christians feel sorry for?

* Gregory Paul – The Journal of Religion and Society, volume 7

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My First-Ever Peep Show

I admit to enjoying feeling seductive at times.

However, I am actually more naive than most people would probably expect.

Heck, I've never even been to a strip club! Never experienced XXX, Live! Nude!
Girls! The closest thing I've seen to anything remotely "dirty" is the lame cop that inevitably arrives to every bachelorette party.

Until a couple of days ago, when I received this image via email displaying none other than a rather graphic peep show.

I'm afraid I must confess, it looks pretty damn *

What do you think?

Live CHICKS and Playboy BUNNIES!

If that isn't some sweet pole action, I don't know what is!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ra Ra Sis Boom Ba, Go Jesus!

I'm practicing my display of good sportsmanship. I have recently been informed by a reader of one of my articles that I lack this quality, also known as fair-mindedness and good character, if I uphold my personal right to freedom of religion by not subscribing myself to literature which advocates Christ as our Savior.

This message was insinuated in a comment that was left on my post entitled My Sunday Sermon: Modern Mythology. Naturally (and involuntarily) brought up as Christian (as are most individuals born and raised in the United States) this post gave an honest and personal account detailing my moment of epiphany that forever altered my perceptions regarding religion. I didn't “abandon” god out of malice or disappointing life events. In fact, I have even spent years in denial regarding my agnosticism. My views evolved as a result of the parallels between Christianity and ancient mythology--in comparing modern beliefs versus obsolete. The move toward rejecting religion to guide my life was merely a result of my maturation and learning to think for myself. It is truly a shame that Christians so often feel threatened by this practice.

In truth I did not abandon a god at all, for the only thing I feel there is to abandon is a fictitious ideology. In the end, “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” I find this to be a very powerful statement, as Christians not only reject polytheistic religions, but any god which is not “their” god. Even the religions that theoretically glorify the same deity no doubt do it wrong--so long as Jesus is not at the helm their efforts and sacrifices are in vain!

Or, so say the fair-minded Christians.

I received several comments to my Modern Mythology post including additional insights, shows of support, and even probes into my thoughts, all of which provided an interesting perspective. In each response, whether or not the submitter agreed with my position it was evident that they had read the post with fair and thoughtful consideration. That is until I received a comment with a Christian prescription. As if it promised to be just the cure for my agnostic ailments, he advertised, “Just for YOU!“

Before concluding his solicitation for me to read The Case For Christ, he commanded, “be a good sport!

Be a good sport? Am I missing something here? Am I somehow indebted to his team? Obviously this individual knew that it would not be an easy sale to convince the author of the aforementioned post to oblige his request; therefore, he tried a common persuasion technique used in advertising by attempting to undercut my integrity for failure to buy what he's selling.

Here is my formal response:

“I have been a good sport for all of my 33 years! I have spent my time in Sunday school. I have spent my time on mission trips. I have spent my time reading the bible and listening to sermons and biting my tongue as dogmatic hypocrisy is spewed all around me. And I continue to exemplify good sportsmanship each and every day by respecting others' right to believe as they choose.

Now, what have you done to be a good sport?

Have you objectively considered an alternative to your beliefs? Have you accepted that there is no right or wrong religious doctrine? Do you accept others' rights to believe as they choose and respect their boundaries to be free from futile attempts, like yours, to convince them otherwise?

If you, sir, are man enough to be a good sport, check out religioustolerance.org.”

Now, Ra Ra Sis Boom Ba, Go Open Your Minds!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I Can't Like Mean Girls

In considering an adjective for this title, I knew I had a responsibility to be accurate and concise. After all, when airing grievances in a manner accessible to every soul who has access to the Internet, rational people know better than to indiscriminately throw unfavorable words around. It is especially advisable to heed caution when the word in question is “mean” and the objects it modifies live nearby.

I therefore consulted my faithful online reference which provided several definitions for “mean,” all of which faultlessly fit the bill when describing these loathsome ladies. The first entry: “selfish in a petty way; unkind.” Marveling at the accuracy thus far, I continued, “cruel, spiteful, or malicious.” I nodded in accord. My source went on to list half of a dozen other descriptions including, but not limited to, “offensive, troublesome, selfish, unaccommodating, nasty.” Yes! We have a winner! May the record reflect that this qualifier was meticulously chosen.

On that note, I really hate mean people. A lot. And bullies, they especially suck. Lurking in halls and on playgrounds of schools, they scope out victims to taunt, torment, and intimidate. Although there was the occasional jerk who pestered me as a child, oddly enough, I was never truly bullied until adulthood. By the time you're married, have children, and are socializing with other demographically similar people, you would never expect to materialize as someone's mission to seek and destroy. Particularly, when the destroyer is somebody you considered a friend. Of course, we all come to realize at one time or another, that life rarely follows along as expected.

Before I begin detailing my four year stint moonlighting as a mad woman's destroy toy, let's go back about, oh, twenty years or so and revisit the mid-80's when I was in grade school--I promise I will write you back to the future, so forget about the DeLorean already. Back in the days of the Michaels J. Fox and Jackson, I lived on Arrowhead Drive. Kelly's house was on the adjacent C-shaped street which happened to intersect with mine at two points, thereby earning the name Arrowhead Circle. A mean girl by trade, Kelly was far from nice to anyone, although her appearance wouldn't have lent one to believe she had any business pointing out others' imperfections. For starter's (although unfair things by which to measure someone), being several pounds overweight and wearing glasses didn't exactly earn her any popularity points. And since it had a mind of it's own, her unruly blond hair must have demanded all of her brain function. I never understood what she hoped to accomplish by name calling; it seemed even more counter-intuitive considering she was the poster-child for a good comeback. I realize, in hindsight, that it must have been her own lack of esteem, and possibly a less than ideal family life that provoked her hateful behavior.

Many of us have something about our appearance we wish we could change--something we hope others don't notice, or at least won't point out. The magnitude of the imperfection is not necessarily indicative of the impact it has on our self-confidence. In school more than anywhere else, so much importance is placed on conformity and the perfect ideal that it sadly represses individuality. I personally endured insecurities throughout elementary school for two reasons: Firstly, I was taller than most of my classmates and, secondly, because one of my eyes failed to choose a single color to represent. I claim to having blue eyes, although my right iris is markedly sixty percent brown. Despite it no longer embarrassing me, at the time I may as well have had an extra thumb. It isn't immediately detectable at first glance, but I was never spared the moment of discovery due to the sudden gasp and the litany of questions that ensued.

Kelly was one year ahead of me, so luckily I never had the misfortune of sharing a classroom and the neighborhood with her. I remember going to her house just one time. Although she had practically begged me to come over, she insisted on choosing everything we did, further reinforcing my dislike for her. I ran out of patience when she ordered me to have the ugly Barbie, the likes of which had obviously been awarded a less-than-professional haircut. What hair did remain was so stiff, pointy and unkempt, this doll's coiffure resembled a collection of giant-size nose clippings. How was I ever to acquire Ken's affections displaying this second-rate sleaze while Kelly proudly flaunted a silky-haired bombshell? Fed up with the shenanigans, I left to go home, despite her pleas otherwise.

The next day at school she approached me during lunch, seemingly miffed that I had prematurely departed the festivities the previous day. Attempting to humiliate me, she raised her voice and shot straight for my Achilles heel. “Why is your eye like that?” she loudly interrogated. Without hesitation, I simply countered, “why are you fat like that?” She subsequently retreated, appearing to have regretted her inquiry. Two can play this game, I thought.

I know. I know. An eye for an eye is so Old Testament. Yet you must admit that when it comes to mean girls, even the smallest vindication can do wonders for the soul. In hindsight, I have yearned for those days of simplicity, back when you could resolve conflict with a petty one-liner.

Not having encountered such characters since grade school, I was blind-sided to have stumbled upon an entire herd of bullies right here in the Tar Heel State residing in all-too-close proximity to me. I don't contend that the state itself breeds them, as most aren't native to the area. You may remember Mad Cow and Nutcake, the bovine and the tart, who provide for very rotten neighbors and regrettably live on either side of me. Yet, as undesirable as the these two are, they serve as mere appetizers for today's special. Please take a seat and allow me to introduce you to: The Vulture. With the surname of Byrd and a predatory personality, this moniker lends a flawless characterization.

When we relocated four years ago, a number of other employees also transferred from the same city, including my husband's boss and new wife, The Vulture (that's right―lucky freaking me). We immediately developed a bond with several of the families, including theirs and Nutcake's and I felt incredibly fortunate to have this built-in network. Initially, we were all quite close, and spending many holidays together even commenced a few annual traditions. Our Thanksgiving celebrations were such a blast it gave me something entirely new to be thankful for. We enjoyed some great parties, without a doubt. Practically a family, four of us women inadvertently became the KC Girls, referring to our previous place of residence.

Sadly, the serenity did not forever last, as the KC gang was doomed to failure even prior to it's establishment. Leading to it's demise, Nutcake and The Vulture collectively comprised 50%, constituting half of the flock clinically unstable. For the record, nobody has ever questioned that Nutcake is nutty. She wears crazy on her sleeve like white on rice, and apparently for that reason, people tend to put up with her egocentricities and crassness. Although both narcissistic, the Vulture is an entirely different species. Much more insidious and clever in her manipulations, her unpredictable behavior teeters precariously on the brink of violence, making her a very dangerous breed. At the root of her evil lies an intense hunger for conflict and control. As a master manipulator, she sees others only for what benefit they may provide and, not unlike a game of chess, strategically plays them like pawns.

For reasons which I am still not privy to, she quickly singled me out as the designated recipient of her bullying. Probably this, combined with her grossly competitive nature, is why she chose to implicate my child into her twisted plot. Hoping to lure me into a sadistic tug-of-war, she repeatedly fabricated lies about my daughter. She preceded each tale with a very conniving, “I'm not trying to start trouble, but...” Along with being false, the claims were extremely petty and nonsensical to say the least.

Apparently having foiled all her previous attempts by not reacting in the hostile manner she was expecting to invoke, she decided to step it up a notch. One particular Friday I was going to be throwing a party and was expecting several families, including hers, over that night. The morning of the scheduled event, she called to inform me that her daughter would miss most of the party due to another function. Then she announced that they were also taking the other girls attending our party―all the girls, that is, except for mine. My daughter, who had been looking forward to these girls coming over for weeks, and who had never been anything but soft-spoken and polite to The Vulture, was being used as a pawn in this dysfunctional mind-game. Rather than commence an ugly confrontation, I expressed disappointment on my child's behalf, and quickly ended the conversation. As I sat there stunned, and only moments after hanging up, the phone rang again. No sooner had I answered before The Vulture swooped in on me like a raving lunatic with an intensity I have never before or since endured from anyone. In a fit of rage she informed me that she is going to invite whomever she wants to go with her daughter, and no body has the right to make her feel guilty about it! In her purely evil dialect, this foul fowl then proceeded to rant on about a myriad of other self-serving quests. Having been ambushed into a state of shock, I can honestly not recall how long it all lasted or in what manner it came to an end.

Later that day she put on her acting cloak, and at the strong advisement of her husband, pretended to apologize. Wanting to believe it was sincere, I accepted. However, this display of hatefulness was merely the opening act in her pattern of sabotaging anything in which she is not the center. Over the last few years, I have endured a great many more trials and tribulations at the talons of this carnivorous creature, for The Vulture is a mean girl that far too much enjoys the limelight to retire her performances.

This, my friends (and I do not use that term loosely), is the first chapter in my chronicles illustrating why I just can't like mean girls.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Another Day From Hell

Now, don't get too cozy just yet. Before you get settled, I want to warn you that this promises not to be one of my more well-written rants. That is because I am writing it in the heat of the moment. Even worse, I'm doing the unthinkable and typing it directly into my blog as opposed to creating it in a word document. Yep, it's that kind of post.

For starters, I just got back from making an emergency beer and cookie dough run. I rarely make runs. In truth, I guess it's not so much that I never need a beer and cookie night, than it is more because we usually have beer on hand and, if truly desperate, my husband offers to get the cookie dough (usually as a form of redemption for whatever he did to put me in the mood in the first place). But we are out of beer and he is upstairs sleeping through the chaos that has brought me to my current state. Just so you know, I don't eat the dough straight up--I do actually bake it into cookies. I'm one of the only people I know who actually prefers the end product to it's raw form. Anyway, considering I haven't had lunch or dinner, I should be in a much better mood by the time I finish a honey lager. Being too busy to have eaten is probably one of the major factors contributing to my foul mood.

Back to my bad day. Luckily, I have had one of those days that, although it was one big piece of crap, it was the kind that I'll probably be able to laugh at in the near future. Maybe even tomorrow. Maybe even by the time I finish my beer.

Nope. Not laughing yet.

I could have claimed a sucky day based on the first half alone after hauling someone's ass back and forth for a procedure. A procedure that was not even discussed with me prior to signing on, and that requires me to be a chauffeur to more appointments in 24 hours than should be allowed by law. And this is just week one. I'll spare the details, but if you've ever known anyone who has had lenses implanted into their eyes so that they don't have to wear contacts anymore, you may know the never-ending string of events that is involved.

Of course, the commotion couldn't have just ended there. I have also had the night from hell. I abandoned the post I was working on that was supposed to go on today in order to cook several different things to appease the troops (which I normally don't do), and cleaned up even more messes than foods I prepared from off the floor. Then just when I thought things had settled down enough to call a friend back, I made the mistake of returning to the kitchen where I thought the children were finishing up the meals I had prepared them. But what do I find? My nine-year-old had taken one of the hard-boiled eggs I had just made and unshelled, and was standing in the middle of the kitchen squishing it in her fist, watching it ooze all over the floor! OMG,WTF? Is she out of her too-smart-for-her-own-good mind?

Because of this ghastly sight, I again had to abruptly end my all-too-short phone call. I called her back a while later, but when my second phone's battery died, I decided it wasn't meant to be since I had already cut my phone conversation short once due to my other phone's battery failure--and twice because of my kids! I assured my friend that if I was still alive and not imprisoned, I would call her tomorrow. Oh, but not in the morning because you-know-who has another follow-up appointment I get the privilege of driving him to.

Just then my son decided he didn't like his dinner and wanted something else, my middle daughter told me she felt like she was going to throw up, and two of our four toilets were backed up. Not to mention, the phone kept ringing off the hook, although I only had two minutes to talk before it died again. After cleaning egg off the floor for the umpteenth time (don't ask), I went into the laundry room and discovered a forgotten load of towels that had been sitting in the washer since yesterday. Yep. Smelled like ass.

Oh, that reminds me. I need to go switch the laundry over. How is it that I still have housework after midnight? I think I blog too much.