Saturday, March 3, 2012

ATTENTION CHRISTIANS: Prayer has ALWAYS been allowed in schools

The recent news of the Florida legislature's support for prayer in school is enough to make any secularist's skin crawl. There is absolutely no constitutional reason that public prayer should be allowed in school. Christians can lament "oppression" all they want, but the fact is, prayer is something that is impossible to stop unless we become capable of prosecuting thought crime. No one sane, theist or otherwise, would support that.

I think most theists can agree that prayer is something that does not have to be done in groups, nor does it have to be done audibly, nor does it have to be "lead" by someone. It is something that can be done alone, silently, which is often preferable since not everyone likes to broadcast the intimate details of what's in their minds and hearts. So, Christians, let me as you something, and I mean this as a sincere question: even without pre-planned, lead prayers on the morning announcements and before footballs games, what is stopping a student from praying?

Even when I was Catholic, I somehow got the impression that no one could stop me from praying because I could do it without anyone knowing. In fact, I used to try to say the rosary WITHOUT a rosary....I always lost count and started over and then fudged the whole thing, but the fact remains, I didn't have to make any kind of public display out of it. Any student of any religion at any school in any time in history is now, always was, and always will be perfectly free to pray. No one can stop a person from praying. It's something you can do in your mind and heart that doesn't require being done out loud or in a group. If you want people to know, you can, but if you don't, you don't have to.

If you think someone can stop you from praying, then I hate to tell you that your faith isn't as strong as you claim it is. The second you claim someone has stopped you from praying is the second you become a performance artist, a show boater and a village idiot, which is what this is really all about, isn't it?

It's not that you can't have your faith, it's that you can't advertise it in the laziest way possible and be guaranteed not to stand out. No one said you couldn't pray to yourself, pass out Bibles and brochures, wear crosses, invite people to church, lead private prayer circles of your own, or even tattoo scripture on your forehead. But, those things would all take initiative and personal responsibility, which, if you had any of, you wouldn't need some poor, hippy Jew to die for you so you can just live however you want so long as you say, "Thanks," once in a while.

What you really want is anonymity behind yet another sacrificial lamb. You're afraid that, if during the "moment of silence," someone sees you appearing to pray, they might make fun of you, point fingers at you, roll there eyes at you, etc. However, if the quarterback "leads" the group in prayer, you won't be singled out. You'd rather see a bunch of your peers reciting insincere incantations, or at least go through the motions of such, than be thought of as a "freak" for your faith. You're the worst kind of coward. You're a moral crusader as long as someone else leads you in battle, but if your fellow soldiers were all struck down, you'd pee your pants and cry until someone either killed or rescued you.

Let me ask the religious folks another question. Assuming you're not Catholic, and if you are the answer will be, "Yes, some asshole in a hat," can any other living being talk to God for you about what's in your mind and heart better than YOU can? If the answer is yes, I'm sorry to reveal yet again that your faith isn't what you thought it was. So, go ahead, let someone else "lead" you in prayer since you apparently need to "follow" someone else's ideas of what God needs to be begged for. I'm sure the quarterback knows what's best for you, more than you do. Hey, maybe that's why he's the quarterback!

If you're going to believe in God and prayer, is it too much to ask that you believe in yourself? If you have this personal relationship with the Lord, why do you always have to txt him from somebody else's iPhone? If I were God, I'd be kinda pissed to keep getting prayers preceded by "Fwd:" from all my followers. I'd not give them what they asked for just to spite them for being lazy. Maybe that's why, despite Gisele Bundchen's mass prayer emails, the Patriots lost the Superbowl.

Just sayin.... Pin It

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Catholic jewelry

Jews seem to think they have a monopoly on claiming their faith is more than faith, but it's a culture as well. Muslims are increasingly squatting on this territory with their claims of "racism" toward people who think Islam is a big joke worthy of mockery (it is, by the way). Both faiths even get their own special words that are equated with racist bigotry, "anti-Semitic" and "Islamaphobic." Christian faiths don't get to make claims of culture somehow. There seems to be no such thing as anti-Jesusic or Catholiphobia. I guess it's because Christian holy wars are global and not centralized, so they can't be pinned on a particular race, nationality, culture, etc.

Nonetheless, Catholicism is very much a culture, especially if you attended Catholic school. Certain ideas are beaten into you until you think of them as normal, functioning parts of who you are. Many of them take real efforts to extract. Despite my current enjoyment of all things blasphemous, there are still things that I can't bring myself to accept.

I cringe when I see anyone wearing a rosary as jewelry, even as normalized as it has become. I think of how, if this were a Muslim holy relic, heads would literally roll if people were making a frivolous fashion accessory out of it. Why are people allowed to do this to "my culture," but not someone else's?

When I was living in Japan a few years ago, rosaries were all the rage in men's fashion. I hadn't fully actualized being an atheist at the time, but I still found myself at war with the concept of one of "my" holy relics being used as a simple accessory. It did look "cool" on a lot guys, but at the same time, it was sacrilegious to my "culture," even if I didn't fully belong to that culture anymore.

Tokyo is full of small boutiques and accessory shops. One of my favorites, which I'm not sure still exists, was a small ¥1000 costume jewelry shop in Harajuku. Everything in the shop was ¥1000, about $10US. A lot of the jewelry was uninteresting. Typical flowers and sparkles for girls, typical crucifixes and fleur de lis for guys, but there was always one corner of really unique pieces. Every time I visited, I remember seeing one particular rosary, both admiring and despising the brilliant blasphemy it exuded.

It wasn't a true rosary. It didn't have the exact proper arrangement or number of beads (yes, I counted), but it was designed to look like a rosary, so in my mind, the crime had already been committed. As if it weren't sacrilegious enough, purely for its existence, the beads themselves brought an extra line of offense. They were dice, black and white alternating dice. Worst of all, it was made in Italy, the Catholic capital of the world. Holy blaspheme berries, Batman!

Yes, I realize that the Catholic church is no stranger to gambling, but to combine the two in such a blatantly offensive way was unheard of. Yet, for some reason, I had to have it. The day I bought it, I couldn't stop taking out, looking at it, smiling a devilish smile, then putting it away. This continued for quite some time until I eventually threw it in my jewelry pile. I didn't have a jewelry box as I was living pretty much out of a suitcase with minimal furnishings.

I still have this rosary, it's in a box now, and every time I pull it out, that same devilish grin returns to my face. Still, I have yet to wear it. There are a few reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that I don't believe in wearing religious symbols for fashion in general, lest people get the wrong idea. The second is that it doesn't really match anything I have and my accessories are usually perfectly coordinated. The last, and least obvious to anyone that doesn't know me intimately, is that some small Catholic part of me still clings to that idea that it's disrespectful and inappropriate to wear this sacred yet sacriligious relic.

I don't know why I can't seem to let go of it. Recently, one of my few celebrity heroes released his own jewelry line and I found myself thinking slightly less of him when I saw a rosary in his collection (this is after I had already reduced my view of him for endorsing a rather run of the mill, douchey looking jewelry collection; in fact, I think he must have been inspired by the same cheap ¥1000 Harajuku boutique that I used to frequent, but I digress). He's not the only one. I see lots of celebrities, particularly men, wearing them now, and each one of them elicits a knee-jerk, negative gasp of offense from me. I try to reason it out of myself, but it rarely works.

I guess you can take the kid out of Catholic school, but you can't take the beatings out of the kid. Pin It