Hanging Out The Walsh: Manning Like a Man

Manly Man

I don’t know who Matt Walsh is.  I only know he has bad ideas.  This “Hanging Out The Walsh” series will be an ongoing critique of his blog posts and podcast in an effort to highlight misinformation, blatant lies, and misapplication of religious ideas to the real world.

At random, I’m starting this series on a post titled “Dads, We Can’t Expect Our Sons to Become Real Men If We Don’t Teach Them How.”  What strikes me first is the black-and-white view of gender roles Walsh imposes on his world.  The theme of this post is that boys need to be taught to be “real men” (just as girls need to be taught to be “real women”) and that an inevitable break-down of society is occurring because men are (as a whole?) becoming more feminine.  There are plenty of issues with this idea.

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Spare the Rod, Part 2

Louis CK on Child Abuse

MSN posted an article today referencing France’s new law banning violence against children, including corporal punishment (or “spanking”).  While Conservatives would argue this is yet another sign of the downfall of society, I’m encouraged that we’re now discussing on a broader scale the efficacy of hitting children.  I previously wrote a piece titled “Spare the Rod” in which I discussed my personal experience with corporal punishment and the fact that it never really deterred me, but I want to point out a few items from the article with which I heartily agree:

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Facebook Affirmations, Vol. V: Pro-Life

In my news feed on Facebook I will be served a daily dose of Christian affirmations from friends.  In this series of posts, which I call “Facebook Affirmations™,” I will post and discuss some of these gems. Here’s the affirmation for today:

Pro-Life Facebook Post
Think of the children!

I don’t often weigh in on abortion because my views on it are complicated and it’s an even more controversial topic than religion.  Since I will never personally know the joy — or terror — of being pregnant I feel that any view I adopt regarding a woman’s reproductive rights ought to be every bit as compassionate as it is logical.  Ultimately I feel it comes down to an individual woman’s right to decide whether or not her body will be used as an incubator for a potential human being.  Let’s discuss the post above.

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Family Ties

One thing religious people cannot stress enough is that they’re all about family.  Their organizations even have names like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association (branded a hate group out of MS).  For the most part I find this to be true so long as everyone’s keeping the faith and maintaining the status quo.  I can say from my upbringing (aside from corporal punishment and having no say in church attendance) that our Christian family was very tight-knit and we spent a lot of quality time together.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was far better than a lot of other families I’ve seen.  Now, to clarify, some of these not-so-happy families I’ve seen are religious as well so it’s not as though they have a corner on the market.  I’m just speaking to the Christian view that family is important.

As I said, religious families are close-knit and happy so long as everyone’s keeping the faith.  They don’t say, “The family that prays together stays together” for no reason.  It’s literally true.  I found this out myself when I started to upset the status quo of my family and I was made to feel like an outcast.  My family’s treatment of me was mild compared to what some people endure at the hands of their religious parents, grandparents, and siblings.

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You Don’t “Have” to Go to Church

As soon as I was old enough to figure out how much fun weekends were and how much shorter they seemed when you have to spend more than half of Sunday sitting in church I began to ask my parents if we really had to go to church. The conversations usually went something like this:

Jon: Do we have to go to church today?
Parent: No, you don’t have to go to church today. You get to go to church today.
Jon: But I don’t want to go to church.
Parent: You ought to be happy we have such a nice church to go to. Besides, you’re not staying home alone. Now get a move on!

This was exasperating every single time. I’m sure it was frustrating for my parents as well. They wanted to raise their children in the church with good, Christian values and their children seemed to want to be little unwashed heathens. What irritated me the most about this exchange was the unreasonable nature of the argument. I, as an autonomous human being, didn’t have the desire to spend most of my day cooped up in a building listening to people talk when I could be running around the woods with a toy gun, saving the world. My parents, as dictatorial heads of the family, didn’t acknowledge my autonomy. How unfair.

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Inferiority Complex

When you grow up in Christianity, one thing is made very clear to you over and over: you are a horrible sinner and deserve to burn in Hell forever.  This sentiment rears its head pretty early on, as soon as you’re able to understand and repeat the name “Jesus.”  The adults begin to prime you for the doctrine of salvation through grace.  In order to do this, you must first accept that you are undeserving of anything but the worst punishment imaginable.  Just to clarify, this punishment can be presented in a number of ways.  My family subscribed to the “lake of unquenchable fire, eternal torment and darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth” doctrine.  Other sects of Christianity view Hell as simply the complete lack of the presence of god.  Still others view Hell as obliteration (which, Heaven aside, aligns quite nicely with the atheistic view that once you die you simply cease to exist).

Hell
"Please, just a single drop of water!"
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Spare the Rod

As I said before, I don’t remember much about my childhood. My earliest memory was my acceptance of Jesus into my heart and then nothing until about 10 years old. It’s been suggested by more than one therapist that I’ve repressed those years because of abuse but I have no real reason to believe that’s the case. Although, corporal punishment in my family was applied (pardon the pun) religiously.

 

Spanking
This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.

I and my siblings were spanked with hands, belts, rulers and wooden spoons. I had a wooden spoon broken over my tush — an occurrence over which my mom had voiced much lasting remorse. As long as I can remember, spanking was nearly the first line of correction and it wasn’t until later in life that punishments like grounding were implemented. My dad always told me, “You’re never too old for a spanking.”

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“True” Tolerance

A lot of people have probably already seen the Focus on the Family’s new Web site, truetolerance.org. This site appears to be a response to public schools’ anti-bullying programs where children are presented with the idea that different lifestyles are not evil. The way they present the information, it’s positioned as though implementing anti-bullying laws against sexual orientation is exactly identical in every way to not-so-subtly suggesting that everybody should choose that sexual orientation. They’re trying to turn kids gay!

Concerned about homosexual advocacy in your child’s school? You’ve come to the right place. TrueTolerance.org helps you respond in a loving and fact-based way. Click the links below for tips on communicating with your school officials.

Check out this PDF!


Teh gayz iz infexus!

In the video on the front page the woman explains that in some classes they even present sexually graphic material to the children. Now, I’m not personally involved in the school systems but I have to seriously doubt the veracity of this statement – unless the “sexually graphic” material being presented is akin to the “sexually graphic” content of sex ed classes. In that case, I’d suspect that it’s presented in a clinical manner to educate, not to indoctrinate. I have a hard time believing that our schools are trying their damnedest to convert the entire school to homosexuality. What would be the point??


Welcome to sex ed, m’kay?

I ran into a similar argument when I was talking to my father some time ago about homosexuality. He told me that homosexuals are recruiting and that they try to get kids as young as possible so they can mold them and turn them gay. I was appalled and felt nauseated. All I could do is tell him that I knew nothing of any homosexual recruiting campaign. I added that since his religion pretty much perfected and perpetuates this sort of tactic, he’s really just projecting. I mean, apart from the church(es), what group of people can you name who starts indoctrinating children straight out of the womb?


Get ’em while they’re young!

Anyway, Focus on the Family sickens me to no end. My parents idolize James Dobson and his hate-filled views on the world, transparently disguised as “family values.” They want to retain their rights to persecute and marginalize groups of people and are attempting to organize their lackeys to petition school districts and governmental representatives with their boilerplate e-mails and “educational materials” so that these anti-bullying laws will be repealed. Just what, do you suppose, Jesus would freaking do?!

My Family Might Hate Me

My mom has very advanced Multiple Sclerosis. It’s eating her from the inside out and she’s powerless to stop it. There’s no cure, no reversal, no relief. It’s just us watching her slowly and uncomfortably crawl toward the end of her life. Having lost the ability to move herself around (even if she had a wheelchair she couldn’t get from point A to point B without help), she relies 100% on my dad for her care. It’s inevitable that she’ll die relatively young (she’s just now 60 but her mom is still alive and coming up on 90). It is this truth that causes me grief, but not for the reasons you might think.

I have grief over my mom’s impending death because I don’t want to go to her funeral and my family will undoubtedly hate me for it. You see, I understand the concept of death and I don’t need closure, nor do I need someone patting me on the back telling me she’s in a better place, etc. When she dies she’ll be gone forever, I get it. I’ve come to terms with that fact and I can be at peace with it when it happens.

I’ve only been to one funeral in my life and that was because it was a high school friend who died while I was a sophomore. It was also while I was a Christian. I cried over my friend’s death and prayed to god for understanding into why she was taken so young. I felt so sad for her family and I felt her loss in the hallways at school. I wondered if she was in Heaven or if she was – god forbid – suffering in Hell. The possibility of her soul in torment ripped me to shreds. It was a bad time for me and god never found the time to get back to me and offer something in the way of comfort or understanding.

I didn’t go to any of my grandparents’ funerals. My family was upset when I refused to be a pallbearer at my grandfather’s (my mom’s dad) funeral. I simply didn’t want to carry a box containing a corpse – is that so bad? Regardless of whether or not the corpse was my grandfather it was still a corpse. No thank you. I have fond, happy memories of my grandparents that aren’t muddied by death. I think the experience of being at the funeral would have changed that for me.

As an atheist I find it much easier to cope with death. It’s a part of life and it happens to everyone irrespective of their beliefs. I’m not completely numb to the loss of a loved one, I just find more joy in my memories of them alive than grief in their loss. Instead of thinking they live on in some ethereal plane of existence I allow them to live on in my mind, just the way I want to remember them, and I find that this keeps them closer and dearer than believing that I’ll see them again.

I don’t want to remember my loved ones wearing makeup in a coffin. What good is that going to do me? What possible joy can I find from that? Why would I allow my love and memory of them to be stained by some grotesque* ritual?

Everyone keeps telling me that the funeral isn’t for the dead, but for the living. I don’t agree. I think every day is for the living. Every single day I can give support and comfort to the ones I love and help however I can if they need it. I don’t need to designate one special day to do this. What makes a funeral day so special? Why are condolences and hugs confined to a couple of hours on a specific day in a specific location? Why not have them available all the time?

Just because I don’t want to attend the funeral doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a part of the family. Just because I don’t want to attend the funeral doesn’t mean I don’t love my mom. To be honest, once it happens my mom isn’t going to care if I’m at her funeral or not. Neither will my dad, my brother, my sister, or anyone else when their time comes (assuming that I outlive anybody at all).

Some people take this attitude as a slight. They think it makes me cold and callous. While I don’t agree, they’re certainly entitled to their opinions. I’ve already explained that I’d rather have their life than their death in my memories and it’s very sound reasoning to me. I’m happy with it. I just know from past experience that this will garner me negative attention from my Christian family members and I’m not looking forward to it. If I can respect their beliefs and their desire to have a funeral for my mom, why can they not respect my beliefs and my desire not to go? I hope I’m wrong about it, but I fear I’m not.

That being said, I’m reasonably certain – barring major obstacles – that I’ll travel up to Iowa to be there for my family after the funeral (maybe even before, but not during). I’ll share stories of how funny and intelligent my mom was and how much I loved her. I’ll tell the story about how she (unintentionally, I’m sure) threw me down a flight of stairs for calling her an “old hag” and we’ll all laugh about it. And life will go on. Is anything wrong with that?

Do your views on death conflict with your family’s? Do you have any beliefs that your loved ones condemn?

* I find the funeral ritual to be grotesque but I realize not everyone does. Please realize this is my opinion only and that I do not condemn those who find it useful for the mourning process.