Don’t turn this cheek, Maddy

The boys might get the wrong idea

Seriously, Maddy Blythe, an outstanding middle school defensive tackle can't play for Strong Rock Christian School in Locust Grove, Georgia this year because the school's CEO is afraid the boys will have lustful thoughts about her.

I don't know which is more disturbing, the fact that a school principal calls himself a CEO or that he's worried that the boys in the middle of a pile up with twenty one other boys and one girl, all in full field gear, will have lustful thoughts. Have they trained their young Christian men that poorly that the pre-game prayer and fist-pumping, chest-pounding, head bashing violence will suddenly be undone by their penises?

If that's the case, don't blame the girl.

It's not as though they're throwing Maddy naked into the showers with the boys. She has her own dressing room. And she's not exactly lining up in Fredrick's of Hollywood's latest ensembles. She's dressed just like the boys, in full football regalia, which is to say about as sexy as watching Robert Downey Jr. dress like Iron Man.

Beware Christians, this girl could seduce your son.

I've seen Maddy interview on television with some of the boys from her team. They say they feel about her as though she's their sister. Why doubt them. Especially when they have cheerleaders running up and down the field kicking their legs high up in the air to lust after? I went to middle school and high school. Those little girls throw themselves at football players like locusts after honey. Who needs a defensive tackle dressed in shoulder, hip and knee pads to stir their lust?

If the Strong Rock Christian CEO is so worried about young girls stirring lust in his young Christian ball players, why not get rid of the cheerleading squad?

Come to think of it, doesn't it strike you as strangely Freudian that a Christian school would even allow their young boys to be ball players? And while we're on Freud and transference, why is the CEO so obsessed with young boys obsessing over girl ball players, when no one else seems to see a problem?

See here's the thing about suppressed sexuality in young Christian men: In the Bible Belt, supervisors and CEOs turn a blind eye to covert sexual aggression all the time. Being raised Baptist Preacher's Kid (BPK), I was rather naive sexually. My parents suggested to me every day in every way that any sexual overtures toward women, even holding hands, would make them hate me forever. It took me years of missed opportunities to discover that was the worst kind of Christian nonsense.

But as I did begin to date and become more comfortable with women, my girlfriends told me the many tricks Baptist boys used in church camp and Sunday School to cop a feel for Christ. I won't detail them here, but I was amazed to hear how many of the boys my parents pointed to as the example I should follow (especially when I disappointed them) had managed to squeeze a breast for Jesus and come off appearing perfectly holy in the process. The girls knew, of course, but they also knew it was pointless to say anything because no one would believe them.

So, Maddy, trust me. The footballers don't need you on the field to fuel their desires. Someone (I won't say who) is simply using you as the excuse to cover up desires they wish to hide from the world.

Those of you who wish to support Maddy can like her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LetHerPlay?ref=ts&fref=ts

 

Goodbye bitches and/or belles

This week ABC announced they were canceling the TV series GCB after ten episodes. You may wonder why I’m bothering to blog about a TV comedy when the President is about to declare a war on faith and marry homosexuals during a prime time press conference, but the show stirred up quite a controversy after its release. This controversy may have caused it to be cancelled when other shows with lower ratings made the cut.

Okay, it was only two shows, and one of them Body of Proof only cratered after following a Tuesday night series with even worse ratings. But crater it did.

The series was originally titled Good Christian Bitches after the book it was based on. Then, wisely sensing that the title might inflame the Christian right far more than it did when the book of the same title languished in the publisher’s mid lists where fewer people would notice it, ABC renamed it Good Christian Belles. But that name sounded sexist, so they settled for GCB.

Once they realized that no one would get the title “GCB” ABC started an ad campaign hinting that the “B” word rhymed with “witches” and “riches.” Finally they launched another b-word series called Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 to make sure we would make the connection.

GCB and the book are the story of Amanda Vaughn, a young Christian mother who divorced her husband after years of infidelity and fraudulent business and moved back with her mother in the wealthy Highland Park area of Dallas. After the move, however, she discovers that the members of her church aren’t quite as forgiving as Jesus. Quite the contrary, they launch a campaign to belittle and humiliate her.

The author, Kim Gatlin, ends the book with Amanda realizing she can be just as judgmental as the women who persecute her. But she can console herself with the fact that she never treated the other girls as badly as they treated her. The Christian bitches in this book live up to their names in every sense of the word.

Not so, the bitches in the television show. In fact even the worst of the lot, Kristin Chenoweth’s character, Carlene Cockburn, is remarkably sympathetic. Crazy as a loon, but still sympathetic. Unfortunately for ABC, the characters also include a closeted gay businessman and adulteress and a would be adulterer. We all now that no such characters would exist among real Christians in real Christian churches.

From the beginning, however, GCB became a target of the Christian right, and I can’t help but thinking this outrage (or posturing) had a lot to do with the show’s cancellation. One Million Moms boycotted the show and, together with groups such as the National Prayer Network, they successfully persuaded major advertisers such as Kraft, Pepsi, Huggies, Progressive and BareEscentuals to drop the show.

The invective was a hateful as it gets. Truthseekers.com called it a Jewish hate crime against Christians . The evidence being the fact that GCB was a “Jewish Disney/ABC” production. I guess the Jewish label belongs to Michael Eisner, and Roy and Walt Disney were famous Jewish conspirators whom we all know plotted to subvert the minds of American youth and convince them to undergo circumcisions and mitzvahs.1

It gets better. Legalize Jesus called GCB “Christophobia” and demanded that readers “BOYCOTT ABC over their new blasphemous TV show CGB…. (and) the liberal secular progressive Christ-hating mob.” Okay, maybe that’s not better.

I hate to say it, but it seems that the only real nastiness is coming from the critics. Sure, the show portrays the Christians in Highland Park’s churches as vain, gossiping and back stabbing. Being raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I didn’t see anything that sounded out of character with churches where my Dad worked. Or the churches I joined as an adult.

The characters may have been over the top, but by the last episode viewers realized just about every character was well meaning, if not flawed and vain. Did they compete for recognition in their church? Yes. Did they conspire to get one up on each other? Yes. Did they pack guns? Absolutely, but in Texas you can’t love Jesus if you don’t join the NRA.

Personally, I think a lot of Christians jumped the gun on judgment. Had they waited the season out they might have discovered the series didn’t portray Christians in a negative light. Certainly not as negative as many Christians manage to portray themselves.

But I really don’t get the bellyaching. Aren’t Christians supposed to be mocked and criticized? If they aren’t, doesn’t that mean they aren’t doing a good job for Jesus? Let’s take a paragraph to recall the Sermon on the mount:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
-Matthew 5:11-13 (KJV)”

That sounds to me like Christians who aren’t being persecuted aren’t doing their job. The religious right is whining about perceived persecution when they should be embracing it. Jesus said Christians are blessed when they’re persecuted. GCB should be one of God’s blessings by their own thinking.

But can’t we turn this back on the producers of GCB? The fact that so many Americans want to revile, persecute and falsely accuse them of Jewish hate speech and Christophobia, suggests to me that their salt that hasn’t lost its savor. It really stirred things up.

Personally, I’d be happy to see the show back. I even signed a petition at Save GCB.

And how does Jesus feel about all this? I doubt it’s a blip on his radar. And there will be other shows, and better shows. The world is not about TV. Especially when no one’s forcing us or even our children to watch it.


1If you check the links you will notice how all of these groups have “truth” in their domain names. back

Bill Maher is Christian, or might as well be

The perils of religism

I love Bill Maher for two reasons. First, he understands Christianity better than most Christians. Seriously. Unlike many Christians, he seems to have read the same passages in the Bible that I remember and many Christians ignore.

But he was raised by Catholic and Jewish parents so maybe he had the support of two religious traditions to enlighten him. Being raised as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I only had one, the one that glossed over the verses he remembers and I only discovered—to my shock and horror (and maybe even a little embarrassment)—as an adult.

But I like Bill Maher even more because, in spite of his insistence that he doesn’t care for Christianity in the least, he thinks just like them. It’s amazing, really. He thinks Christians are evil, irredeemable, a threat to our Constitutional rights and the cause of most of the evils in the world.

Wait a minute, less perceptive readers may say, that’s the opposite of Christianity. Readers might believe that because they pay attention to words and overlook what are known as isomorphic (or structural) correspondences. Both Maher and Christians hold the same basic beliefs, they just attribute them to opposing causes. This create a series of parallel beliefs as illustrated by the following table:

Problem Maher Christians
Taking away our Constitutional rights Christian Right Maher Left
Determined to ruin America Christian Right Atheists and Liberals
Ignorant and narrow-minded Believers Atheists and Liberals
Represent everything bad in Society Believers and Tea Party Atheists and Secular Humanists
Want to control our children’s minds Religious Zealots Scientists, Atheists and Homosexuals
Force their values on Americans Christian Right Democrats and Permissive Liberals
The antiChrist controls the Oval Office George Bush Obama

You may find yourself skeptical, but just as the children of alcoholics can recognize addiction and addictive behavior—even when alcohol itself isn’t involved—so can BPKs recognize religion and religious behavior (even when a religion itself isn’t involved).

You see, when I was a kid, members of my family would have attributed the cause of the problems in my chart to Catholics and John F. Kennedy. We may have been raised in the Bible Belt, but if we had to choose between our sisters marrying a Black person or a Catholic, we would have disinherited our sisters.

But Catholics were worse than Black people (aka Negroes) because Negroes could be saved. Unless they were Negro Catholics.1 When I was a kid, mixed marriages didn’t involve Black people and White people (aka Negroes and people), but Baptists and Catholics.

This changed, of course, with the Great Crisis of Faith (GCOF). The GCOF occurred sometime in the 1980s, and is best summed up by a conversation between my Baptist Preacher Father, whose Christian credentials were somewhat suspect to his own Baptist Preacher Father and uncles because he was a more liberal Southern Baptist (yes, it’s possible) and not a true Bible Believing Baptist, and one of my uncles. The conversation went like this:

Uncle2: How can you have leadership meetings with Catholics? They worship the Pope and the Pope is Satan’s puppet.

Father: You know, I discovered that Catholics actually accept Christ too. They have the same Bible except for a few extra books that got thrown in by mistake.

Uncle: Exactly. That wasn’t a mistake. The Pope included those books because Satan told him to. Everything the Pope does or says is from Satan.3

Father: So anything the Pope says is inspired by Satan and we shouldn’t believe it.

Uncle: Exactly.

Father: But the Pope says abortion is evil.

At this point my mother broke in and changed the conversation, but dinner was pretty much over, and my uncle’s family left us to enjoy our after dinner liqueur, cigars and pornography.

But this pretty much summarizes the GCOF. Catholics maybe believed everything Christians (Baptists) found appalling, and they may have taken their marching orders from the Pope, but they were Pro-Life. Suddenly, the heavens opened and Catholics were Christian again.

It also illustrates what I mean when I compare religious behavior to alcoholism.

Now I’m not saying that my father wasn’t guilty of religism himself. He was, as am I, as are all BPKs and is Bill Maher whether he wants to believe it or not.

What are some of the signs of religism?

  • Insisting that you’re right, and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong.
  • Not just wrong, but wrong for America.
  • Insisting there are no conditions under which they could possibly be right.
  • Insisting there are no conditions under which they could possibly have something good to say or good to offer.
  • Mocking unbelievers (e.g., with names like “Religulous”).
  • Lumping all unbelievers into a single category.
  • The absolute total faith that you’re right and they’re dangerous.

As for me, like it or not, I’ve come to accept that it’s perfectly reasonable to believe God doesn’t exist and that God doesn’t hate you if you do. And God is much more tolerant of stupidity than I am.

In fact, the only guy I know of who never, for a moment, exhibited religism was Jesus. And we had to go build an entire religion with thousands of mutually exclusive versions around him.

Including Bill Maher’s religion that Jesus is good and all those who follow him are ignorant morons (which, by definition, would include me).

It’s all in the wiring

Modern neurobiology suggests religism (aka irreligulosity) may not be Bill’s fault. Belief is very much formed by neural connections. The more you accept one conclusion as true, the more you reinforce the neurons in your brain that shape belief.

As a consequence, the brain tends to ignore information that doesn’t reinforce that connection. Unless, of course, you consciously and deliberately make yourself consider that information as a possibility, and start to build a parallel connection.

The more you refuse to consider additional information, the more you erode the possibility of making that new connection. Soon the brain simply refuses to process that conflicting information at all.

Christians may call this faith (and Bill may call this enlightenment), but this is the opposite of faith or enlightenment. This process is literally the process of narrowing your mind.

Nothing I said is contradicted by the Bible, by the way, although I’m sure someone can spin a verse out of context to prove me wrong. Paul understood why other apostles interpreted the faith differently, and he never doubted their faith. Or his.

You don’t have to believe an idea to open your mind to it. Opening your mind to conflicting information doesn’t mean you will lose your faith. Accepting the fact that others may believe differently and still not threaten your world or conscience requires a true act of faith.

Jesus was constantly pointing out how reality contradicted religious tradition and faith. These contradictions never threatened his faith; they shaped his belief and made him stronger and wiser. If people didn’t follow him, he didn’t condemn them or berate them. He simply went on his way and let them go on theirs.

To be like Elisabeth

If I have to acknowledge a TV personality I’ve come to admire, it’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck on the View. I don’t agree with her most of the time, but more than anyone else she seems open to the possibility she could be wrong.

For many years she would come to the View armed with pages printed from the Web to prove that all things Bush and Republican were good and all things Rosie O’Donnell were bad. She would become flustered and petulant and completely defensive. When you see Kristin Wiig do Elisabeth on SNL, that’s the Elisabeth you’re seeing.

Something changed during the 2008 elections. I don’t know what happened. Maybe one of her children showed signs of early onset Democrat and she had to learn to love him anyway. Maybe she caught her husband Tim looking sideways at Maria Shriver and decided to become more rounded to win him back. Maybe the uber-liberal producers at ABC (as if) threatened her job.

But now she seems more open to a wider view of faith and politics. Ironically, now Joy Baher is looking more narrow-minded. More like Bill. The print-outs are gone, the red-faced rants are gone. And, most of all, she seems happier with herself and more confident in her beliefs.

So, Bill, I admire you and watch your show religiously. But please, be more like Jesus (and Elisabeth) and less like Sara Palin. As you have noticed with others (without, perhaps, being aware of the cause), too many neurons on one side of the brain can be unbalancing.


1Don’t judge them too harshly. Most good Christian racists didn’t really believe they were racists any more than Bill Maher believes he’s religiously irreligious. (Except maybe for that passage in the Bible that condemns Black people because they were the descendants of Noah who shamefully looked on his nakedness, which is why they will always be inferior.)

Baptists are tempted to believe that Negroes came from Africa, which makes them closer to monkeys than more advanced white people, but that would mean evolution is true, which, of course, is ridiculous and completely against the Bible.

So this leaves them to suggest that Negroes do funny things, as is proved by all those wonderful jokes they are no longer allowed to tell. But the jokes also prove they don’t really hate Black people because we laugh about them lovingly. On the other hand, there isn’t a single Catholic joke because there’s nothing funny about a false religion that put the antiChrist in the oval office.back

2Not named because he is still alive and I have to talk to him at family reunion, even though he will probably never read this blog.back
3Which, to be honest, I sometimes feel when I listen to Pope Benedict and his hints that maybe it’s time to repeal Vatican II, the way Republicans want to repeal the entire Obama administration.back