Category Archives: Religion

Why I’m Not Religious

This article from Scientific American frustrates me a little because it’s about interesting topics, but they only skate the surface and it sounds more like conjecture than a supportable argument.

But it raises an interesting point.

There is a lot of judgment out there against atheists. There’s this deluded impression, I’ve found, that being religious somehow means you have a moral code that others do not.

What? Because I don’t go to church, I’d steal from your grandmother, hit-and-run your car, and cheat on my taxes? Bullshit.

Sorry, kids, morality’s just a little bit more complicated than where I park my ass for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. God’s got nothing to do with how ethically I choose to live my life.

Here’s the thing.

I’m not religious today BECAUSE I was raised religious. I was so Catholic I’d go to church as much as 6 days a week. Used to tell the non-believer kids in the ‘hood about the sermons, and they’d listen, too.

I loved me some Jesus when I was a kid.

When I was in high school, I had a priest who told us a classmate was going to hell because she committed suicide. And then we had a teacher, who I thankfully never had classes with, who was discovered to be sexually abusing boys. He went to jail. But around the school we were talking and it seems the Arch Diocese knew for as much as five years about the teacher’s abuse.

The details on the story are hazy for me now and searching the web proves futile as I only know remember him by “Mr. [redacted].”

It’d be some years before I came to believe what Ken Kesey preached, that if you weren’t able to worship what you call God in your backyard, he wasn’t gonna be in no church, either.

I learned at the age of 13 that men are corrupt, so all religions are corrupt. And I fell hard from my pedestal of faith. We found out shortly after the child molesting thing that our elementary school Monsignor had been in a relationship with a woman for more than 2 decades. He had to leave the church.

I decided, if God needs me to join a club to prove I believe, then he’s got really, really low self-esteem, because look at some of the members! Let’s not even talk about Creationism, which is a slap in the face at everything God’s capable of, if you’re to believe the book of Genesis in the first place. If God’s so omnipotent, the idea of the Big Bang and millions of years of evolution speak far louder about a God’s powers than this dumbed-down “The Earth is 6,000 years old” bullshit practiced by people too blind to see science is a faith too.

Anyhoo. I was raised Catholic. I was raised to respect others, be kind, be honest, and all that ethicky jazz. I maintain those values. I just don’t figure God anywhere in the picture.

I live my life with virtue because I need to respect myself in the morning. I may not have money, fame, and everything I dream of, but I do have self-respect, and it comes from living up to how I was raised. Ain’t any church that’s gonna change that about me. My ethics guide my life and always will.

Ethics and the Vatican aren’t exactly in bed together, though. Look at the Catholic Church: With properties and assets, it’s about the most powerful and richest organization in the world. But we don’t know that for sure, because the books are kept pretty tight. The Vatican is literally its own nation-state, remember. For insurance purposes, its incredibly vast collection of artwork is valued at about an euro each, according to some reports. This MSNBC report states the Catholic Church received more than $8 billion in donations in 2003 alone. Never mind tax write-offs, present-day property values, or any of that.

And look at the Evangelical movement in the USA, where preachers are VERY well-paid rockstars ministering to the thousands. Yeah. And Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha lived as paupers. No disconnect there at all.

If you really believe in Jesus and Christianity, then you believe Jesus threw the merchants from the temple. He didn’t believe money and faith went hand-in-hand.

It’s a mockery, what we have today for religion. It’s everything Christ never wanted. Churches hold the riches today, and look at the average person. Not so rich.

Yet I’m morally bankrupt because I don’t practice and celebrate that mockery of everything Christ stood for?

Don’t tell me religion today is moral when it shouts down the search for human rights for gays. Don’t tell me the Catholic Church has the high ground when it had as its Pope for the last decade or so a Holocaust apologist. Don’t tell me faiths that take in more money than they give back to the poor are doing what God wants of them.

Religion today is nothing of what it has been written as in the Bible. It’s sanctimony and judgment. Church is where the dollar talks and transparency walks.

Unfortunately, there are good people caught up in that sanctimony and judgment. There are fine Christians in the world, and admirable Muslims, and wonderful Jews. While I rail against religion, I do not rail against the believers, not if they are moral, kind people. But being a believer in religion does not mean one is indeed moral or kind, and that’s why I state there’s that prerequisite.

I will not hold your religion against you if you do not hold my lack thereof against me.

Seems a fair trade.

It is absolutely my moral code which keeps me from practicing religion. Until faiths are led by men and women I can admire and respect, I will turn instead to worshipping nature and the world around me, and living my life as I would have had I found a church worthy of my faith.

I would put my ethics against anyone’s. I absolutely know who I am at heart, and if there were more of me, and less pious sanctimony, this would be a really nice world to live in.

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The Dishonour of Honour Killings

Recently, here in the Great White North, a murder trial ended and the accused were sentenced to life.

A father and his son killed his daughter, all because she was too progressive to be a good little Islamic girl.

Muhammad Parvez and Waqas, his son, murdered Aqsa Parvez on December 10, 2007, in the guise of avenging their family pride in the face of her scandalous embracing of Western culture and lifestyle, even though they lived here.

These cultural-killing cases weigh heavily upon me.

I loathe what they do to the image of Islam, and what they do to my thinking, despite my best efforts.

Honour killing: image from The Baltimore Reporter.

I used to teach ESL a long time ago. Here, there. In people’s homes. It always gave me an interesting perspective on cultures I’d only ever seen from the flipside of a take-out menu or on the big screen.

For the most part here in Vancouver, that meant working with Taiwanese, Koreans, and the Mainland Chinese.

Once, though, I worked with two young Islamic women from Saudi Arabia. They were both married, under age 25, and would wear full burqas when out in the world, but, at home, wore tight jeans and cute trendy t-shirts that clung tightly to their breasts.

Their husbands were charming kind men who spoke to me often about our culture and tried to compare that with their traditional culture at home, so I could know more about them.

Their hospitality and the respect they showed me was warm and sincere. I always felt welcomed and appreciated, and never judged for being “Western” and very liberal. They even knew I wrote about sex, and the men found my blog entertaining.

I truly thought they were all wonderful people, and the kindness and graciousness shown me by them has lingered long in my memory as an example as what the true basic beliefs in Islam are — very similar to any a “good Christian” might follow.

But the burqas never sat well with me — the hypocrisy of bouncy, beautiful breasts being savoured in private but the pretense that this feminine beauty doesn’t exist in the world, or the suggestion that they’re doing what is right and good by Allah when hiding the feminine form from the world at large, despite the fact that Allah created all they hold in esteem.

But that’s a whole other issue that’s too large in scope to tackle, and which I’m not nearly informed enough to weigh in on without research.

It is, however, indicative of just how large a chasm exists between fundamentalist Islam and the standard Western world-view.

So, when a  family like the Parvez move here from Pakistan, there’s a galaxy of culture-clash to contend with.

Me, I’m so white I’m of the fish-belly variety of humans. With Irish/Scottish and French dotting my ancestry, I don’t even have a culture, let alone any experience with culture-clash — except for that which lands on our shores.

But that’s who we are. We’re Canadians.

We’ve got an open-door policy, and because we’re the most multicultural country on the planet, we’re constantly shaping who we are as a result of the immigrants who land here and build lives, for better and for worse.

You know what? I love that.

I love that, when Pierre Elliott Trudeau died, I had to take a cab that day and my driver was a man from South Africa. He was constantly wiping his eyes and sniffling as we moved slowly through rush-hour traffic.

In his thick, thick accent, he told me how hard he’d struggled to move to Canada two decades ago, that it had become his dream after this Canadian Prime Minister had been the only leader in the world to cry out against Apartheit in South Africa in the 1970s, that he saw Canada as being a place that held true to the belief that all men were equal — even beyond our borders.

This man made me cry that day — this immigrant, he and his love for my country, what we stood for, and what he wanted it to keep standing for now that he had given up his S.A. citizenship to become a Canadian. We cried together over a leader who divided the country but ultimately contributed more to what “being Canadian” meant than any leader in our history.*

It’s conversations with men like him who make me believe deep down inside that the majority of those who emigrate to Canada are those who ultimately admire our lifestyle and our tolerance of others.

So, yes, when I hear of honour killings, I’m left wondering how much it hurts the progressives who’ve immigrated long before these fundamentalist assholes, and how hard it makes life domestically for them.

Muhammad and Waqas Parvez are not your typical Pakistani-Canadians.

They are not your common Muslims.

And while honour killings aren’t common in Canada, they do happen.

From Wikipedia:

Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:

Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce — even from an abusive husband — or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.

Let’s face it. Much of what women have gained in the West, in terms of freedom to be who they want to be, has come in the last 60 years. We’re a young culture, too.

Islam, however, and its main regions of practice (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq) forms the seat of all of civilization.

For thousands of years these principles have been in place. They’ll come undone, but it’ll be slowly.

The world needs to stand against honour killings, and while these sentences are a start here in Canada, they’ll do little to effect change in the high mountains of the Khyber Pass and throughout Mohammad’s land in Saudi Arabia.

Here, in Canada, some will experience anger and disdain toward Islam, as if these men represent all of what the Qu’ran teaches.

Like most religions, Islam teaches some pretty fucked-up things. Ask any cartoonist.

Any religion has proverbs that, taken word-for-word, could unleash hell with the devout. Islam is certainly not far from the path of nuttiness with ideas like Jihad and honour killings and the rants against cartoons and Salman Rushdie.

It doesn’t mean Islam’s unholy and hell-bent on destruction or death. That’s bullshit.

What men like the Parvezes do, though, is, they give validity to those who would tar Islam and rail against its practitioners with the belief that all who practice it are extremists who are literal about Allah’s messages in the Qu’ran.

And they make women like me scared of dating Islamic men.

I hate that.

The thing is, I’m not particularly afraid of dating a Muslim man — as long as he’s not a fundamentalist.

But I wouldn’t date ANY religious fundamentalist. I’d probably try to avoid most men who practiced religion of any kind, really, but I would think a Muslim would better understand why I’m not following his faith than a Christian would, since I was raised in Christianity and now reject the practice of it. Try to make sense of THAT, eh?

So, yeah, I’m not afraid of dating a Muslim man at all.

I’m afraid of dating his extended family.

Let’s face it. Families are nuts. You should meet mine.

There’s some serious fuckin’ wackadoos in the extended-family works here, and I would hate for anyone to judge me on the basis of being related to them. But they’re there.

And that’s the thing. A Muslim guy might be incredible, and god knows I find men of Persian descent incredibly hot, but I’m scared what Uncle Mojinder might be like or what distant Cousin Navez might get up to if I get a little rowdy one night, since I’m not exactly Miss I Don’t Drink.

It’s hard enough keeping philosophically on-page with a lover, but when there’s a cultural heritage that has the potential of honour killings in their extended family, it’s a little unnerving a concept for some of us who are given to misbehaviour.

I’m not sure how to end this piece, I don’t think there’s a comfortable “pat” conclusion I can offer.

It’s a terrible thing, honour killings — for what it does to women, for the rise of the fear and suspicions we nurse against an entire faith, all because of what some select group of them do.

It’s horrible that I feel justified in my fears, that I’m apprehensive of men based on their faith, not because I don’t trust them but because I fear their families.

And even that is hard on me, because I love what I know of the traditional Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern family lives.

Yet.

Yet this one thing exists, a small niggling fear — this negligible concept of  “honour” and what it is for and to others, and the price one can pay for damaging it.

In the end, there’s a reason I’m not religious anymore. I stopped believing in Catholicism in my teens, and by rights all other religions, because of the fear and judgment they sought to have me live life under.

Life has many chains that will bind me, but religion will not be amongst them.

I want to know, I guess, how honour killings affect you.

What do you think of them? How have they changed your thoughts on Muslims?

If you’re a woman, does it make you apprehensive of dating men who are Muslims but super-hip and very liberal, just because you fear their family?

Have you ever had a friend who has been under the thumb of this religion and wanted out?

Talk to me. I want to hear about this.

*On his death, the stories I heard from second-generation Canadians who immigrated to Canada with their parents when Trudeau was leader, just blew my mind. The reverence they held for P.E.T., and the esteem they held Canada in, made my heart explode with patriotic pride. Yeah. That’s who we are, Canada. We’re the port in the storm.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

I had an end-of-the-night chat on Twitter with my friend Tris Hussey (@TrisHussey), one of Vancouver’s best WP blogging smartie-pants, about the strange life of being a vanilla girl in a sex-blogger-world.

It’s had me thinking since, which is why I like smartie-pants like Tris.

See, he thinks the world needs more sex-positive voices — especially from everyday-peoples like me, I guess.

Me, I still have a hard time swallowing the role. So to speak.

That’s what my whole journey in sex-blogging was about. Discovering my own sexuality in a more positive way, where I no longer judged my tastes or worried what things might suggest about me ethically or morally.

It was a hard fucking battle and I’m not even sure where I am on that road right now because I’ve been abstaining for too long. Just… because. I didn’t want to think about sexuality. I had to think about me.

But I’ve thought about me. I’m a better “me” than I’ve ever been. Now I’m ready to be more. Again.

I think the reason my sex-writing has been so successful at being applicable to the average person is because I am one. I’m not interested in burlesque. I couldn’t give a shit if I ever experience a threesome. I don’t have anything too crazy going on in my closet, can’t tell you about any really freaky encounters or swinging parties. I don’t have really odd kinks, I don’t need to push any boundaries. I don’t need more/crazier/harder to get off than I used to.

I like a little bondage, a little kink, trying creative positions, and have a little thing about sex in interesting places if time/lack-of-visibility allow. That’s about it.

I’m not off-the-charts with my sexuality, and I’m not even promiscuous. I’m old-fashioned.

But I think into every sex life a little doggy-style must fall. Or maybe a lot. It’s open for debate — let’s bang-out a plan of attack. What can I tell ya?

I think sexuality is probably one of the biggest journeys we all take.

How many people ever truly get comfortable in that context? How many people not only get comfortable with being truly sexual, but do so in a healthy way — they don’t overconsume porn, hurt others in their quest for fulfilling needs, or develop unhealthy dependencies on any particular activity, person, or lifestyling?

The world doesn’t have enough oft-laid happy “average” people skipping through life with a “I“ve been shagged SILLY” bounce to their step. How many accountants do you see walking bow-legged on Monday morning, huh?

The attitudes we DO have about sex, unfortunately, are being shaped by really fucked-up messages on the media, in Hollywood, and the internet. Sleeping around’s more popular than it’s been since the ‘70s,  STDs are on the rise, people are experimenting left, right and centre because media’s showing all these alternative approaches to us…

But where’s the heart?

Where’s the emotion?

Why’s there such a profound disconnect between what we’ll let ourselves feel in the crotch versus what we’ll allow our hearts to feel?

What the hell are we thinking?

Sigh. Don’t ask me, man. I’m only beginning to even attempt to crack that nut.

For the last 2–3 years, I’ve not been considering sexuality and society as much as I once did. Re-reading my work has reminded me of why I’d been so angry about it all in the past, and has rekindled my interest in being one of the voices to bring some reason to the argument.

I think so much of what’s wrong with us as a society can be explained through our skewed perspectives on sex.

I’m not suggesting getting laid equals world peace.

I’m suggesting that it’s the attitudes we associate with sex that matter, not necessarily about whether we’re getting laid or not.

When we do get shagged, how vulnerable do we truly let ourselves be? How willing are we to let our loved ones into our deeper darker places we’re scared to admit exist? How ready are we to open the doors to where we keep our skeletons?

Sex is the physical realm of mental trust. What you’re willing to do mentally SHOULD translate sexually, vice versa.

Yet how often is that true?

Are you open to others, do you accept all ways of life, can you trust those around you, are you comfortable expressing your needs? Tell me what kind of lover you are, and I’ll tell you the answer to those questions. Again, vice versa.

If everyone was open, trusting of others, accepting of other lifestyles and worldviews, willing to be versatile, able to be vulnerable but also strong when needed, and could let others lead when necessary but follow when called for, what kind of world do you think we’d live in?

Don’t tell me sex can’t heal us.

Don’t tell me sex isn’t an important statement on who and what we are as a people.

And don’t even think of telling me we’re okay.

I’m not crazy about standing up here and being the sex-positive poster-girl. I’m not enthused about the judgment or speculation it promises to hold for me. I’m not happy this job needs doing by anyone.

But there’s no one out there talking about sex for ME.

There’s no one *I* get. No one echoes the battles I’ve fought, the lessons I’ve learned, and the thoughts I’ve had in a way that really resonates.

And I know how alone I felt and how fucked up and self-judgey I was, and for how long.

Someone needs to speak for me.

So I will.

And hopefully it’ll mean a few other people feel spoken for.

Because I’m getting real fuckin’ tired of the people who’ve been doing all the talking so far.

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Why Sarah Palin Scares Me

If you read me, and you’re a fan of Sarah Palin? I’m offended by your ignorance, and the fact that you deem me entertaining yet take THAT THING seriously. Don’t read me, please. It’s insulting. And educate yourself.

She is ignorant, uninformed, inarticulate, and frankly, dangerous. If you support her? You are, too.

Let’s talk about all the reasons I hate this woman. As much as I dislike that word, hate, this woman prompts that feeling in me for all the things she stands for, that I stand against. Few brands of people fill me with as much terror as someone like her.

For starters, rape victims were on the hook for part or all of the rape kits in her town of Wasilla. Her chief of police did it, and she never tried to stop it. Some reports state her town had the highest rape statistics in Alaska, which had the highest rape statistics in America. Now, there’s no proof Palin ever argued in favour of keeping this policy, but she sure as hell never tried to repeal it — which you’d think, as a woman, she might feel like getting on side of women, and as a mother, that she’d want rapists off the streets–whatever the fiscal cost. Gee, if you’re not willing to spring for rape kits so you can properly investigate whodunnit, I guess the same rapists stay in business, huh?

On the question of whether she would allow a daughter who was raped by her father and made pregnant to abort the baby, she said she would “counsel” them to “choose life”.

The woman believes homosexuality is a choice. In 2008. In the same interview I’ve just hyperlinked to, from CBS, she said:

Continue reading

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Overreacting, or Right On The Money? TWITTER SPAT!

A Twitterer I was following, who has hundreds of followers, made a couple comments in the last couple days in which he’s using homosexual terms to insult others, like “gay” and “faggot”.

Strikes me as a very grade-five thing to say, and I call him on it. Publically. He called me politically correct and blocked me.

Here’s my Twitter feed’s archive. Now here’s the exchange.

Greg Scott’s initial comments:

Professional soccer players are such faggots.

When I call pro soccer players faggots I am referring to their repeated dramatic displays of injury, the most disgraceful in all of sport.

And, the next day:

Pink tie against a pink dress shirt with a grey blazer. Good gravy. The CBC National weather guy has every right to dress gay but why?

So, I said:

First some athletes are “faggots” now this guy dresses “gay”? Wanna get a 21st century vocab and ditch the homophobia?

To which he wittily retorted:

Your fear of language and over reaction to words evokes a stifling political correctness I’d prefer you not share with me.

And I got blocked. Dang, Hilda, when am I gonna learn to play nicely with others?

Mm. Yes. I’m just SO politically correct. That’s all this blog smacks of, all day long. Political correctedness. Its predecessor was called The Cunting Linguist but when I got interviewed on San Francisco radio and they couldn’t say the blog name, I thought, “Well, that’s no good.” So here we are at Smut and Steff. Politically correct? My fucking ass.

Wanker. In the world’s largest language, with more than a million words, you have to use “faggot” and “gay” as your adjectives? Your definition of “faggot” as it pertains to the soccer players, for instance, sounds more like a word I know as “actors” or some would even say “hams”, and I’m not opposed to insulting pigs.

Also, I think the fashion-challenged meteorologist sounds more “effeminate” or even “sissy” than gay, since most of the gay men I know can kick most straight mens’ asses. As Jon Stewart says, “Gay goes to the gym.

But, really, as long as we’re living in a world where people are still carrying placards that reads “God hates fags” and are dressing their kids in shirts like these? Yeah, I’m going to make a comment when fuckwits banter about words that sound a little laced with hate and judgment and 1960s mentality, thinking they’re all witty and cute. Somebody should. And I fucking VOLUNTEER.

When you’re using it as an insult, pal, you’re saying it’s a bad thing, you’re judging. And itmakes you an ass, even if it’s just you in your smug urban-hipster posturing.

But hey. I’m just a politically correct cunt with an itchy Twitter-finger. So what do I know?

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Teen Sex: The New After-School Special?

The news about teen sex these days just keeps getting more and more alarming. When it all comes down, it’s on Bush’s watch.

Earlier this year, studies showed that an average of one out of every four (26%) of teenage girls are now carrying an STD in the great USA. Never mind the teen pregnancies. These are sexually transmitted diseases, people.

The news is alarming now, but imagine five, ten years from now when the fallout of the STDs exchanged between today’s youths are really felt and known.

It’s been a few months now since the story came out. I’ve been quietly waiting around for the shitstorm to unleash, for when parents start screaming in outrage that their baby girls having a 25% likelihood of carrying an STD, and soon… But the shitstorm never came. The anger never rose. Continue reading

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