A (former) Christian’s Argument for Atheism

This was so important to me I decided to blog it. It’s about something the Pope, my most favorite person in the Universe, said.

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The quote and the article have nothing to do with each other, except being said by the same wonderful man. Okay, maybe there’s a tiny connection.

“How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist’.”
~ Pope Francis

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/pope-suggests-better-to-be-atheist-than-hypocritical-catholic/ar-AAngu7y

 

I’ve been running this blog for about five or six years. About a year or so ago, I stopped posting. I’ve considered sending out an explanation, but my readership is pretty small, no one was clamoring for an explanation, so I let it be.

When I read the article about what the Pope said, I decided to write a post because his comments touched on something I felt very deeply. It was as if I finally had permission to speak about something I was ashamed to know.

Separation of the Church and the State of Being:

I’m not the same person I was three years ago. I came across a recent blog post the other day and I was reminded that my faith and love for God were so profound …

“Faith that can not withstand the light of reason, is not Belief, but mere Supersition.” ~ John Donne (I think).

                                                  … and so utterly out of touch with reality.

For new readers, or readers who haven’t read this, my family experienced and lost a brutal and abusive adoption battle, complete with corruption, harassment, one assault (albeit not an injurious one) against me by a social worker, and even abusive and neglectful treatment of the children by the system. I’d relied on my faith in family, people, the justice system, my understanding of God throughout the whole process.

That turned out to be a huge mistake.

In the ruins of what used to be my life, some of the little gems of non-wisdom I’d held on to couldn’t stand up to any rational examination.

So many things I’d been taught about God and told about God and encouraged to believe turned out to be just – in my world anyway – well, bullshit. All those pleasing, palliative platitudes were as useless as the pledge of allegiance during a frontal tank assault: “God has a plan,” the frustratingly misleading “Prayer Works” and “Things always happen for a reason.” Then there’s its fraternal twin “Things always work out for the best,” and my personal favorite “God never gives you anything you can’t handle.”

There was a reason for an entire loving, healthy, safe, law-abiding family, including innocent and vulnerable children, to be traumatized and destroyed by corruption on the possible scale of Pennsylvania’s Kids for Cash scandal? God had a purpose in me feeling like my whole gut was ripped from my body with bare hands and have the people who were supposed to be helping me treat me with complete contempt? God had a plan to traumatize and scar innocent little children?

Really?

If there was a purpose, maybe I could’ve been told about it. It might have helped me all those dark days and nights for God to let me in on His Little Secret. Knowing the Grand Plan might have helped me put my body soul back together a bit sooner and a bit better, but apparently He didn’t think it was important enough to tell me about it.

God’s supposed to be loving, and I’d always heard God loved me, but none of that sounded very loving to me. In fact, it sounded pretty manipulative, if we were all permanently traumatized in the service of a whole cosmic plan that benefited someone else but left us hanging.

And if prayer worked, and people were praying for us, why wasn’t it working in our lives? Does prayer work for others but just not for us? Where does that put us in the cosmic scheme of things?

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So does this mean I just didn’t pray hard enough?

It wasn’t long before my brain took all these questions and went global. It seems none of that stuff works out for a shitload of other people, either.

Taken to their logical conclusion, these soothing little bromides must mean: there is a reason that millions of women are raped and terrorized every year, God has a plan for children who die from childhood abuse or neglect, people who suffer indignities, abuse and/or illness to the point of suicide are simply chosing not to handle it, because God wouldn’t allow it if they couldn’t really handle it. Then there were the implications over centuries of genocides (including one itsy bitsy little Holocaust) that some people might argue God, in His infinite wisdom and omnipotence, might have let go on a wee bit too long.

In this light, some of those platitudes people say every day, and I’ve heard for forty some odd years, sounded downright cruel.

I’d gone from seeing God everywhere to not seeing God anywhere.

In fact, I came to believe, maybe if I hadn’t had such profound faith in Divine Intervention, that “prayer works,” that “there is always a reason;” if I’d trusted God a little less and my instincts a little more, I’d had kept my family, those children would have kept their safe and loving home. Hell, I might not be blogging right now – I’d be outside playing with my children.

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The only Divinity I can be sure about anymore

My faith in God, Divine Inspiration, Divine Intervention fell apart. The only Divinity I believed in anymore was an old Southern recipe that overpopulated 1970’s church bake sales.

Even so, far be it from me to rain on anyone else’s theological parade. I can’t lie and pretend to believe this anymore, but each person has to come to their understanding of their world in their own time, and it’s not up to me to drive the faith and belief out of anyone. Even I’m not that bitter, yet. So I kept my mouth shut. It kept the bitching and moaning about my blog in my personal life down to a minimum, so that was an added perk.

All of that said, I have always loved Pope Francis, and still do. I admire the shit out of that man. I think he’s probably more Godly than our constructs about God. So when I saw the article, I was inspired to write again. Maybe it was validation, maybe it felt like  permission, but I was inspired all the same.

The Pope spoke to what I believed.

The Pope had spoken to my heart. He put the Papal Seal of Understanding on the second reason I left religion and belief behind: the failure of so many of Christianity’s self-avowed devotees to even faintly resemble what Christ taught in the New Testament.

In my old days, I walked around in a rosy cloud of thinking everyone had to be so wonderful and I was so … not wonderful, lacking somehow in some way each and every person I met was superior. Nagging, pesky little questions and doubts popped up in my brain, but I took care of them because whatever they were, they were mine, and ergo, wrong.

I knew (and tried to please) people so toxic they should’ve come with their own warning label. “Devoted” religious people who could be the meanest, most spiteful, most selfish people I’ve ever encountered. In my low self-esteem fugue state, I could be convinced by them and myself that the problem was me – not them.

So, when I started to wonder, what the fuck is up with this? Why were some of these people just so friggin’ mean? I pushed all those clearly rational thoughts back down again with a “Shush, these are Nice Anglo-Middle Class People because they dress in nice Anglo-Middle Class clothes, they have nice Anglo-Middle Class jobs and go to nice Anglo-Middle Class Church. These are the Right Kind of People.”

Eventually, riding that train of thought down the track led me straight to a derailment disaster complete with metaphorical and psychological toxic waste spill requiring the complete evacuation of everything I once believed.

The new me is a thankfully bit more skeptical.

Once I separated my unicorns-and-rainbows myth of Church People from my life experiences, I saw that the reality was less Carol Ingalls and Olivia Walton and more Bravo Real Housewives. Now, I knew some wonderful, loving, selfless, truly Godly women in the Church World. Ironically, though, these weren’t the women who sought prominence, and they didn’t wear their religion on their sleeve like a badge. Some of the most visible, prominent women showed themselves to also be the shallowest and meanest, once I got to know them. It wasn’t how it was supposed to be, it probably isn’t that way everywhere (I hope), but it was that way in the world I lived in. Given that I don’t have enough time or money to travel the globe, get a representative sample and do a full statistical analysis, I figure I have to base my new understanding on the data I have at hand.

Soooo ….  I looked around with a willingness to be brutally honest, and I saw:

561639e64cfa04814a58fbe186f3dae8People who’s actions bordered on theft, who exploited the poor for financial gain (then bitched about them), touted bigotry and misogyny. There was the one who never missed a service then tried to undermine a loving marriage with lies and manipulation out of jealousy. The one who taught Sunday School then harassed and bullied family members anytime a fit of pique struck. The ones who leveraged their positions in the church to promote themselves, their personal causes, and practice nepotism. Public advocates of Christ’s teachings while turning their backs on injustice or exploitation unless it impacted their own identity group. And I was supposed to be the spiritually inferior being here?

I seemed to remember reading something discouraging all that in the Old and/or New Testaments. But what the hell did I know, right?

We’re not just talking Catholicism here. It’s no one religion’s fault. There are mean little assholes in every religion. While I know there are mean little assholes everywhere (I worked in the banking/finance industry, after all), church is supposed to be the one place working to eradicate that kind of thing, not enabling it.

If someone keeps telling you they’ve got the cure, but it sure as hell looks like they’re still sick, who in their right mind is going to think that cure works? That might be what the Pope’s talking about.

And, as before, my brain’s newfound superpowers decided to take on bigger challenges and look around in my world. I didn’t have to go too far.

The Power of Prayer to do absolutely nothing.

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More and more, every day, this was pretty much my sentiment. Except I would have preferred a petition to a sandwich. A call to a representative, a written letter of protest. Those would have been good sandwich-alternatives, too. Prayers – eh – not so much.

It was the spiritual cowardice I saw and completely resented. People  wept crocodile tears and made public prayers about the poor, downtrodden, suffering people “over there” somewhere, always thousands or millions of miles away, but their response to our exploited children and destroyed family in their own community was a pat on the head, a prayer, and any combination of the aforementioned platitudes. I didn’t necessarily need a hug, although it felt nice, it didn’t put my family back together again or clear my name. I needed activism and advocacy.

I guess all the prayer and beatitudes gave people some sense of agency (and it was supposed to make me feel loved) in an overwhelming situation, but that wasn’t supposed to be the goal. It also serviced a sense of compliance and complacency that perpetuated the problem, honestly. Because, and let’s face it here, when the rubber hit the road and it was time to be counted, like Peter, they didn’t want to be caught in the crossfire of the controversy with authority.

The worst part was and still is to see almost everyone’s revulsion when faced, not with the horrible crap my family had to face and withstand, but faced just with the reality that we had to. Not everyone, but almost everyone I’d expected better from, and some people who owed us better. It was surprising to see the very few people who tried to actually help in a meaningful way. Only one would could be described as religious.

Everyone quickly become more pre-occupied with other problems. Short attention spans notwithstanding, the change in focus was, from my point of view, to causes more appealing because they were either immediately solvable (a few hours), or quite frankly, trendy, in-the-news social ills that played well to a the liberal identity, but many of which didn’t really solve anyone’s problems.

I’m not saying some individuals didn’t benefit, but these were drop-in-the-bucket feel-good gestures, some of which only had a fleeting Look-At-Wonderful-Us quality. When it came time for real action in a real situation of injustice, something that meant involvement and engagement for the long haul, in our situation … it wasn’t there.

In that light, I was disappointed.  I didn’t see much of what Christ taught. I didn’t see much of what the Old Testament taught. What I saw was the same old thing I’d seen in office politics and secular community groups dressed up in a cross. The Bible might have been the platform, but it wasn’t the foundation.

ghandi
I don’t know if Ghandi really said this or not. Like all my pics, I got it off of Google. But it does sum up my theological sweet spot right now, in fewer words than I ever could.

Why I stopped blogging:

Truth, sometimes, is not pretty. Oh hell, often it’s downright ugly, thanks to the dank, toilet-like nature of humanity most of the time. Deep down, I’ve always known this. I knew this before I knew how to sign my name in cursive. As a young girl, I was privy to the darker side of people, and fought hard to believe it wasn’t people’s only side. In ways I won’t get into, that need ironically led me to find mostly people with mostly dark souls, if they had any souls at all.

I’ve always felt strongly about writing the truth. I don’t always mean the factual truth, although accurate representation of the facts is important – no one knows that better than I do. The rest of our culture seems to be learning that Life Lesson about six months too late. I mean the truth about life, what we know, what we should know.

In the past few years, I’ve gotten to see a side of humanity, government, existence and even religion that most people are lucky enough never to see. Every day I wish I was one of those lucky, sheltered bastards. My truth is, well, a truth that sometimes requires alternating dosages of Nexium and Red Wine. Alternating, remember I said that because that is the key component there.

There is also the real backlash to my blog in my personal life from real people in my real life. These aren’t strangers or trolls, but people I know. I’d like to think I’m ballsy and badass enough to take it, and if I had hundreds of readers out there hanging on my every word, I would. But I don’t. Some days, putting up with the obnoxious and abusive bullshit I have to confront for writing something autobiographical, all because of someone else’s imagination just isn’t worth it. (This time, however, it is.)

I can’t blame it all on them. I’d like to, but I’d by lying to myself and you.

For a while, a brief while, my life was lightness and joy and love. There were patches of unpleasantness, but I could handle them because of the abundance I’d been lucky enough to enjoy. Then the luck ran out.

It pretty much beat the life out of me for a long time. And while I’ve done a badass job of putting myself together again, it has been a DIY project, with DIY results.

Quite frankly, I’ve soured on the most of human race. It makes me wish for life on another planet with aliens. By that I mean THE Ridley Scott Aliens.

alien
I should’ve lined up this Lovely to help with one of the “home visits” and seen how she reacted to a social worker cussing her out in front of her little babies.

The point is, I haven’t written because I don’t believe that anyone wants to hear what I have to say. This isn’t self-pity or self-deprecation; it’s an honest assessment of our culture. Hell, half of what I need to say I don’t want to hear and wish to God I didn’t know. I’ve waged my own distraction campaign with Nordstrom (God Love Nordstrom’s!!!!) online shopping and cake decorating to choke a horse, so I’m not all that superior here.

And if I find the truth so unappealing, how can I expect anyone to want to read a blog about all of that?

 

Happy New Year: The Christian Case for Raising Some Hell

This is the final of three posts referencing biblical material.


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It’s the new year! For some of us, 2016 can only get better. Many people, not just beauty contestants, will be wishing for world peace this year.

I will not be one of them.

Instead, I will wish for world justice. Friends, that is more than a damn bit harder but more than a damn bit more important, too.

What looks like peace can sometimes be justice’s enemy: the quiet, undisturbed stagnant waters of the status quo where man’s wretched toxins and pollutants pool until nothing good can grow, and all who come there to drink just die.

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And that kind of peace ain’t no peace at all.

That is the kind of peace we must fight, and we must fight for justice when we do. What do you think of when you hear the word “fight”? Violence, fisticuffs, war? Raised voices, shouted profanities? Forget all that.

Let’s talk about about endurance, determination, integrity, advocacy. Tenacity, stubbornness, solitude.

I am not talking about violence.

Let me repeat: I am not talking about violence. Violence is a waste of time, energy and the legal system. Someone you didn’t want to hurt always gets hurt. It destroys lives, property, psyches. Violence is bad.

I am talking about protest. I am talking about conviction. I am talking about raising hell.

And raising hell isn’t always the adrenalin-filled, good-for-TV monologue we think it is sometimes, either.

The past year my life has been defined by fighting: the slow, marathon fight in which lives are built, causes are won, justices (hopefully) achieved one small tidbit at a time. It is harder than anything I ever imagined. I’d always envisioned “standing up for myself” as the brief, transient thrill of giving a profanity-laden voice to my grievances, be they small or large, real or imagined.

I’ve learned that true raising hell has meant that I’ve had to write letters, maintain contacts, research issues, comb through documents thicker than my hips, understand thorny legal minutiae, hold my tongue (talk about researching the Bible verses on that), and wait it out.

It’s a tedious, slow, day-to-day grind of waking up, getting dressed, and digging in long after friends and family have tired of the cause and returned to their privileged suburban existences out of fear, embarrassment, cynicism or laziness. Make no mistake, that has pissed me off.

Unlike them, though, I can’t quit; I simply cannot.

I’m no longer a spectator in the arena of injustice. I’m in the arena, fighting the lions.

The fight for justice has defined me now; it has seeped into my skin and flows in my blood and mixes with the air I exhale every time I breathe. The call to fight wakes me up in the middle of the night and cries to me like a frightened child. For people to expect me to act as if nothing ever happened, and to pretend to be one more Stepford Wife in the throng of nothing-to-see-here suburbanites is to deny what I have become.

e6c30f2e6502be4a537b752ac5deed30I can’t quit because I, and others, deserve better.

I can’t stop because I truly believe God tells me not to. I can’t stop because I truly believe that if I do, I’m basically giving a signed letter of permission to the corrupt and cruel people I’ve encountered, permission to do this to the next guy. And when they do, because if not stopped they most certainly will, it will be partly my fault. [i]

Somewhere in this house – the attic maybe, or the storage unit – is a little paperback on Existentialism by Sartre. He articulated what I’d always known: that in refusing to do anything about evil in this world, we are culpable for it, because we have allowed it to occur without any impediement on our part.  Sartre didn’t need God to support his theory. However, down the road (meaning the blog) I will.

Where I get a little rattled though, is when we Christians go on and on about peace on one hand, and “pray” for the poor, the oppressed, the suffering on the other, but we don’t do anything about either. And sometimes, helping the afflicted and working for peace are mutually exclusive.

In my Christmas List post I wrote about Jesus’s work with the afflicted:

His response wasn’t a broadcast of platitudes – “a smile is a frown upside down,” or “don’t worry, be happy.” The call for faith was not a ploy to make people and their silly little problems go away. … He showed up, he stepped up and dealt with the overwhelming, unsolvable problems of people who were otherwise lost, alone and doomed.

Then on Christmas Day, I wrote:

Christ didn’t help people get used to being blind, or deaf or lame. He didn’t convince them it wasn’t that bad or offer coping strategies or motivational posters with cute kitten pics. He solved the flippin’ problems.  … The miracle was not that the afflicted just stood up and said oh, well, you know, this isn’t so bad, I was just being a whiner. The miracle was that they weren’t afflicted anymore.

In my prayers, those I make beyond words or thoughts, those that are the deepest aches of my heart, I prayed about my frustration.

Then … something happened.

For your consideration (insert Rod Serling impersonation here), I was engaged in some random googling when I found a wonderful post at cracked.com. It is a snarky, profanity-laden, wonderful answer to my prayers straight from The Twilight Zone wherein Wong echoes my own sentiments, and postings: sometimes, at the end of the day, people need solutions. Not sympathy. Not a pat on the back.

Solutions.

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David Wong begins his article with a scenario: your loved one is on the street riddled with bullet wounds, dying. Someone walks up and you want their help. Specifically, you want them to keep that person alive. You and said person begin an exchange whereby the person offers sympathy and a resume of his/her wonderful personality traits.

You, on the other hand, don’t give a flying rat’s rear end:

“In that panicked moment, you will take your bloody hands and shake him by the shoulders, screaming, “Yes, I’m saying that none of that other shit matters, because in this specific situation, I just need somebody who can stop the bleeding …”

That’s the thing.

By the way, remember the Good Samaritan? The guy stopped, he tended to the wounds, took the wounded guy to an inn and paid for his care. The parable is about providing solutions.

Even Wong sees the mandate for Christians to provide solutions.

Inside, you have great compassion for poor people. Great. Does that result in you doing anything about it? ~ David Wong, cracked.com

Wong continues:

… I’m not even commenting on whether or not prayer works; it doesn’t change the fact that they chose the one type of help that doesn’t require them to get off the sofa. … what fruit grows from it? And they should know this better than anybody — I stole the fruit metaphor from the Bible. Jesus said something to the effect of “a tree is judged by its fruit” over and over and over. Granted, Jesus never said, “If you want to work here, close.” No, he said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Over and over is right. An online search of the NRSV Bible confirmms that the above quote can be found in three passages: Matthew 3:10, Matthew 7:19 and Luke 3:9.

The Gospel of John (6:43) elaborates:

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;  for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.   The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. [ii] [iii]

We are what we do.

When it comes to injustice, those solutions aren’t always well received, and our illusion of peace (lack of tension) is sometimes the first casualty. According to the above Gospel (Matthew 10:16-17, 21), Christ was not the least bit naïve about this:

See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you …
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death

The people in this world who are up to no good are not going to stop simply because someone asked nicely. They are only going to stop when there’s enough opposition to make doing wrong too much trouble.

In this same way, Christ does not ask us for peace: (Matthew 10:34):
Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

In other words, essentially those disciples needed to do what John the Baptist did before (and took up a notch): toss a few people out of their comfort zones, dig a few heads out of the sand, replace the way things are with the way things should be.

Raise hell.

Martin Luther King, Jr. did not win civil rights for people of color with a polite, gold engraved invitation for the power structure to do the right thing. No, he and several thousand other people had to march their tired, oppressed, exploited asses up and down several cities – for days at a time — to get it.  They had to endure violence and slander and things that would keep most of my friends and family up at night.

No matter what happened at Selma or Chicago or wherever else, and make no mistake the status quo got ugly about it, King kept it up. He raised hell.

For King, the Status Quo of the White, Middle class “peace” based on injustice and exploitation was no peace at all.  (For people of color who were lynched, abused, exploited, there was no “peace,” so don’t kid yourself.)

Now we have a man of color in the White House. See what a little hell-raising can do?

Ghandi. Masih Alinejad’s My Stealthy Freedom project. I could go on. Oh why not? Think I will.

Do you know how AIDS ended up being a disease people can live with for decades, and not a death sentence? Don’t start patting the nearest old white guy in a lab coat for it, either. I’m dating myself here, but I can remember when AIDS was called GRID. I remember reading about it in Rolling Stone¸when Rolling Stone was printed on tabloid-sized newspaper stock.

The gay community (not then called LGBT) raised hell. They had to raise hell for medical treatment for a disease, something you and I take for granted. People want to cure cancer. People want to cure childhood diseases. Homosexuals (and their friends and families) had to raise hell to get people interested in treating a terrible, fatal, disease, and even then people were only fully invested once heterosexuals contracted it.

All these people have fought for justice non-violently, but they were not peaceful, in terms of compliance, obedience, conformity. When opposing forces reacted with violence, they did not give up for the sake of “peace.” They disrupted, argued, defied and, God love ‘em, were general pains in the ass. Some of them got killed for it, some of them died for it.

But then, they had a role model who was willing to get killed, too, right?

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For those who think you already have justice this year, what would I want for you? Relax, it will probably not cost you your life. It may cost you some time.

Just do something. Like Wong said, get off your rear end and do something. Christ did.

Write your friggin’ senator when you see an injustice. Call the paper and raise hell about someone falsely imprisoned, a murder unsolved, a group exploited economically. They’re out there. Plenty to spare. You don’t have to worry about a shortage. First, get your facts straight, dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Maybe do a dry-run of what you have to say or write with a friend. But then get your ass out there and raise some hell.

If you’re really popular, get a flash mob going to do more than dance to Lady Gaga at the mall; dance to Lady Gaga on the State House steps to protest something: the war on women, economic disparity, government corruption. Dig up an old Helen Reddy tune and flash mob around a Planned Parenthood site for women’s civil rights, protect those women going in for pelvic exams, breast cancer screenings and prenatal exams. Flash mob to Moneygrabber at your local DCF office to protest false abuse allegations and knee-jerk child removals to bolster federal foster care funding. I’m gonna look stupid out there on my own.

Learn about the world around you. Stop listening to the fast-food media’s drivel and spin – spend some time at the computer or library or just your iPad and do some research and find out the facts behind the headlines.

Write a damn blog that hardly anybody reads, but hell, it’s something and one day the right person might click on it and hey, something gets done.

Do the Christian thing, bear some fruit and be part of someone’s solution.

Happy New Year


An interesting article on seeking economic justice:

Real Christians Fight Against Injustice


[i]       According to Wikipedia, Lutheran Pastor Bonhoeffer was associated with a plot to assassinate Hilter. Talk about wanting to be a part of the solution.

[ii]       http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/q-funk.html
For more on the Q source:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/q-contents.html http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/hypothetical.html

[iii] Passages confirmed using: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+6:43&version=NRSV; NSRV version

2015 Zombie Bait List

For new readers, a few years ago, I started the Annual Zombie Bait List … then promptly proceeded to do more than enough hiatus-inducing field research through absolutely no fault of my own.

Now that I’m back, the Annual Zombie Bait List is back!

sanitaryum.com
sanitaryum.com

 

One Caveat about the Zombie Bait List: this is not aimed at any group by religion, ethnicity, or even politics. The below is a snarky, if cathartic fantasy by which we can vent our angst at criminals, psychopaths, social bullies, corrupt forces, etc.


10. Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

This is a state agency mandated to “stregthen families” but has somehow acquired a body count.  They are in the bottom five according to kids.org for time spent in foster care (the standard maximum goal is two years), failure to publish data to the public (while they public foster care data, but as of last fall they have not published overall data on their site since 2010), possible corruption.

MA DCF is possibly the childhood equivalent of #9.

9. Chicago Police Department

This is actually a tie with #10. The problems of the Chicago Police Department have managed to hit the mainstream news. So, their place on this list is probably self-explanatory. However, the problems of Homan Square as told in The Guardian online solidify its place on this list.

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8. Martin Shkreli

Don’t know the name? Well, if your life depended on Daraprim, you’d see him cackling in your nightmares. According to WebMD, Daraprim treats “Malaria, Encephalitis due to the Parasite Toxoplasma Gondii, Infection due to the Parasite Toxoplasma Gondii, AIDS with Toxoplasmosis.” Shkreli’s company, Turing, acquired Duraprim in August 2015. By September 20, 2015, the New York Times published the headline:  “Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight.” That is an increase of 5,555.56 %, rounded.

Then, Shrekli outdid himself. Yes, he did. In December 2015, Shrekli was arrested on securities fraud charges.

I love this cartoon, but I don’t entirely agree. I’ve sat in on 635869046565060473-shkreliproceedings that gave me insight into the inner workings of people in law enforcement at the federal level. They are pretty cunning people (thank the Lord!).

I’m sure Mr. Shrekli got arrested for what the law said he could be arrested for, and for what it was possible to prosecute. However, I go to bed thinking that his predatory price gouging led to a big ole’ target being painted on his back. My dreams are filled with the sounds of some nice, middle aged Fed saying “nobody makes that kind of money without a few skeletons in the closet. Let’s
see what we can find … “

7. The Boston Globe:

I mention this with a caveat. I have stopped following their coverage of certain issues after a complete level of frustration. Perhaps they’ve changed their ways, but I doubt it.

This year marked the premiere of the Spotlight movie, a huge pat on the back for The Globe’s reporting of the Priest Sex Abuse scandal. However, Jack Dunn of Boston reported feeling misrepresented and smeared in the movie, as did others. Now, this is not The Globe’s fault. Necessarily. (However, with complex issues like life rights and usage rights and script approvals and trademarks, you have to ask if someone at the Globe was tracking the script and could have raised a red flag or two.)

However, my complaint is that while The Globe basked in the praise of this dubious cinematic account, they glossed over the countless problems in DCF, at times shilling on DCF’s behalf for additional resources without demanding accountability or transparency for the use of those resources.

The Globe seems to have neglected stories of abuses by social workers. When I spoke with an unidentified woman at the news desk asking why they didn’t report on these stories, she said “well, they’re hard to find.”

No they’re not, if you look for them.

I’m curious – and will hope to write in 2016 – if the gender and class differences in the victims’ demographics played any role in the The Globe’s investment in advocating for those victims.

6. Anyone opposed to helping the Syrian Refugees

I’m not naive enough to think that just opening doors to several hundred thousand Syrian refugees (Wikipedia estimates four million refugees) will make everything okay. It’s not that simple.

I wholeheartedly support anyone’s right to raise reservations on the grounds that infrastructure problems, security problems (the refugees are vulnerable as potential victims, but are only targeted as potential perpetrators), and a whole host of other logistics need to be addressed.

We have people smart enough and powerful enough to address those problems.

Even then, other unforeseen problems will arise. I get it.

But the inherent difficulty of solving these problems is no excuse to shrink away from them. The moral mandate is too great to ignore just because it’s a hard problem. History is filled with hard problems we’ve managed to solve before.

One question to opponents: if these were refugees of a national disaster, from, say, oh, England, or Norway, or Canada, would your hearts and doors be just as closed?

5. Politically Correct but Completely Irrelevant Reactionaries. 

First, I’m liberal and left-wing. Very. Way out there. Object of ridicule for my conservative New England in-laws and everything.

That being said …

This year marked a whole host of stories where I sensed young liberals, in an effort to demonstrate their compassion for mankind, completely lost compassion for the person in front of them.

GQ named college students, aka “trustafarians” one of their “Worst People of 2015.”

I’ve already posted my thoughts on blaming white women of history for racism (while ignoring the history of ownership of white women as part of the post-Civil War culture).

Then there was the war on a Christmas Song – “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – as a Date-Rape song.

Stephen Deusner in Salon.com:

Especially for a tune so closely associated with the holidays, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is icky at best, at worst reprehensible: It describes what may be a date rape.

What all these analyses completely disregard is that her reason for saying no is the social prohibition against her being a sexual human being. She never says “ew, I don’t like you.” That era is filled with a million songs of “not if you were the last man on earth.” In this song, her reasons are social pressure.

I’ve always heard the song as that of a woman torn by opposing calls: the call of desire and love (the man in the song), and her duty to social mores of the time (being deemed a “bad” girl). Movies of the time are filled with subtexts about this no-win situation for adult women of that era.

Both feminist reactions (and I’m a feminist) ignore the historical contexts and try to apply modern-day sensibilities to something whose origins they don’t explore.

Even more absurd is all the attention to this sixty-year old song, when so many current misogynistic songs get little, if any, media attention. Seems like click-seeking to me.

These are just examples.

That said, this is why these reactionaries, and others are on the Zombie Bait list: they take up time with this silly intellectual mind experiments and fail to apply that time and energy to solving real problems of our day: like real, actual date rapes happening now, the pay gap, the justice gap for minorities, violence against minorities, the growing economic disparity between the classes, climate change, the Syrian Refugee crisis or the War on Mommies.

It’s a waste. I don’t think God really cares about the hidden subtexts of a sixty-year old song that may or may not really be about the social denial of women’s sexual autonomy through shaming.

4. NRA

Leveraging irrational fear and prejudice to protect sales, without any regard to the socially responsible use of your product is callousness at exponential levels. Does anyone really believe that they are not aware that a waiting period would decrease sales, allowing for people who would buy on impulse to succumb to their better judgement? Does anyone think they don’t know that a background check would keep guns out of the hands of unstable or unscrupulous?

They know. They don’t care.

It’s time to care.

3.   Carly Fiorina & Women’s Civil Rights Opponents

PP_medicalservices_2013

That’s right, I said it. Women’s reproductive health, and our ability to seek that health care is a goddamned civil right. Get friggin’ used to it.

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This year brought alot of attention to Planned Parenthood: an organization that provides a range of women’s health care. This year brought attention to PP’s opponents: from the slanderous now-debunked video, to the political effort to defund PP.

uterus_croppedIf segments of this country worked this hard to prevent the exercise of legally endowed rights by any other group, there would be twice the outrage there is now.

Quite frankly, if so called “pro-lifers” were
sincere in preventing abortions, they’d be out on every street corner handing out condoms like Skittles. They’d take all their moneys and develop drinkable birth control in trendy little bottles.

If these people were serious, they’d be driving
women in limos up to Planned Parenthood doors for pelvic exams and contraceptives.

But they’re not. So what do they really want? Humm ….

2.  Donald Trump

I’ve mentioned before that in promoting his racist and misognynist agenda, Trump prevents any real discussion that would promote economic and legal justice. As long as we feel separated by race and ideology, we will not join together to bring ourselves economic and legal justice. However, some of the blame needs to be allocated out: the media reports on this crap and we listen.

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1.  ISIL & Boko Harum

This really doesn’t need any explanation, does it?


Please see the original for details, but a brief excerpt is below.
Original Zombie Bait List

Now, there are two principles to Zombie bait. First, all living creatures serve some purpose in this complex world of ours. I realize that in the case of Zombies the “living” part is up to scientific debate, but really, in the greater scheme of things, surely don’t Zombies serve some purpose? I say yes, yes they do.  The way I see it, that purpose for Zombies is good, old-fashioned social clean-up. In the natural world, scavenger animals clean up the debris left by predators and waste left by natural processes, so one can reasonably conclude that the Zombie’s share a similar social purpose. Secondly, if in the course of that social clean-up the Zombies get too distracted or just plain full to eat us good folk, well then, two social goods have been met at once. Zombies are fed and happy, and we’re safe from the Zombies and the people we fed to them. Win-win. (Yes, I’ve thought about this entirely too much. Remember, I’m unemployed so I have a good bit of free time.)