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Category Archives: Religion

Social conservatives are stupid, science discovers

It’s official – people with socially conservative attitudes are stupid!

BroadBlogs

Prejudiced people are stupid. That’s not me pre-judging. That’s science.

An article published in the Journal of Psychological Science, and reported in Live Science says children who have low IQs tend to become prejudiced adults who are drawn to socially conservative beliefs that – in turn – encourage prejudice, adherence to hierarchy and authority, and promote resistance to change.

The researchers suggest that low intelligence makes it difficult to grasp the complexity of the world, which could explain the appeal of oversimplifications like, “Poor people are lazy.”

But you also have to wonder if the appeal of prejudice comes partly from a desire to feel like you are better (and smarter?) than someone.

John Dean wrote a book (which he had begun writing with Barry Goldwater just before Goldwater died) called Conservatives Without Conscience. These two conservatives presented a list of characteristics that are common among right-wing authoritarian…

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Feminism, Religion

 

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Abortion and slavery: should we push our beliefs on others?

I just watched a bit of Creation Magazine Live (a creationist broadcast on Revelations channel) and they suddenly started talking about people whobelieve life starts at conception but don’t want to push their beliefs on others by making abortion illegal. They drew an analogy between that and saying ‘I’m against slavery but I don’t want to push my beliefs on others so let’s not make slavery illegal.’ Let’s pause for a moment and let that sink in.

OK, so slavery is a commensurable analogy for abortion?

Let’s recap on the significant differences in the issues, problems and questions surrounding slavery and abortion.

For (the historical) slavery, issues included: racism, abduction, capitalism, the possibility of increased unemployment if slaves were freed, the favouring of mulattoes (biracials) over blacks, leading to blacks/biracials seeing lighter skin and straighter hair as beautiful; the rapes and relationships that led to biracial peoples’ existence; Darwinism, trade, cultural genocide, displacement, identity, the economy, etc etc…slavery was a complex, multi-layered issue not only reducible to simple racism. (I’m not denying that racism allowed it all to happen – there are disturbing parrallels between the thinking that led to slavery and the thinking that led to Nazism, I’m just saying it was complex and left a very harmful historical aftertaste even after slavery was abolished, such as racism, the KKK, etc. Some African Americans claim that girls use relaxers and weaves due to ideals of white beauty that stem from the time of slavery when biracials were favoured by the masters, who were their fathers/relatives and by the community such as being allowed into church if their skin was lighter than a comparison object or if their hair could pass through a fine-tooth comb and other similar entry requirements.)

All of these issues are not present in abortion; it is actually a much less complex and far more ancient and traditional issue. The only similarity between the two is that they bothraise the question of whether the “victim” (African people and foetuses) are real people, though even this conclusion is somewhat clumsy and people can’t really be compared to foetuses; the foetuses do not feel pain, aren’t self-aware, capable of language, intelligence, civil rights movements etc, and aren’t abducted and traded so they can work halfway across the world.

Most importantly, there are issues with abortion that are not present in slavery: namely, there is a woman who does not want to bear a child. She may be very young, still in education, a rape victim, an incest victim, coerced into having sex by a boyfriend, initially wanting a baby but then spilt up with her partner, already has five kids with her husband, is in danger of honour killing if she is found pregnant, is on welfare/benefits and doesn’t want to raise a child while living off the state, wants to focus on her career, knows that she is unfit to be a mother, would be suicidal if forced to have this child (as happened when a 14 year old was raped by her friend’s father in Ireland. She got pregnant and, as is usual in Ireland, her parents decided to take her to the UK for an abortion, as it is illegal in Ireland. Her parents asked police if they should bring back the embryo’s DNA as proof against the rapist. The girl was given an injunction by the Court not to leave the country to get an abortion, so she became suicidal and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. The Supreme Court speedily heard the case and held that she could have legally had an abortion in Ireland all along, as her life was in danger.) There may be other reasons, such as medically being unable to bear a child without putting her health at risk, or having a baby with special needs which she doesn’t have the resources, emotional capability or time to meet; not wanting to have children, not wanting distant, abusive or rigidly conservative parents to know she is not a virgin, wanting to wait until a financially stable nuclear family is established before having children (mostly women who hold a traditional/conservative view of a family), as well as other reasons.

What gives anyone the right to decide for her?

According to the guys on Creation Magazine, the Bible does not actually say that abortion is wrong or give any endorsement or prescription for or against it.

Their entire position is based on the description of Rebekah’s unborn children as “children” not “foetuses”. If the scribe or leader who wrote this had used a different vernacular all those years ago, anti-abortionists might not exist today! The other piece that they rely on is in Genesis where God gives humans dominion over animals but not over humans, which they interpret to be a prescription against cloning and abortion…I can’t really infer that from the text, but whatever works for them.

These illogical, very weak arguments are all that the cream of the fundamentalist cult can come up with against abortion. Honestly, I can’t figure out why anyone still listens to the pro-lifes. I always saw them as a worthy adversary, but their arguments are fallacious and nearly all of them are Bible-based, which means that if you aren’t a fundamentalist Christian (ie read the Bible literally) those arguments fall flat. Funny how they could’ve used the Qur’an and Buddhist scriptures to back up anti-abortion views, too, but they didn’t.

Finally, just as it is offensive to compare non-comparable issues to the holocaust, (and, I should mention, using the word ‘crusade’ to mean a good thing) it is offensive to compare abortion to slavery. I barely know anything about slavery but I’m very, very sure that hundreds of years of suffering (which Christians used the Bible’s endorsements of slavery to justify, although Leviticus only permits owning slaves from neighbouring countries and the Bible advocated kindness towards slaves) should not be compared to abortion, even if you see abortion as killing. I’m horrified at murder and rape but I’d never compare those things to the holocaust or to any genocide or slavery, no matter how bad I feel for the victims and their families. The 14 year old rape victim above was raped and then persecuted by her own country’s legal system, but she wasn’t ‘persecuted like a Jew in the holocaust’ – that’s silly, and actually obscures the ethical, legal, social and human rights issues of this girl’s case. We need to keep things in perspective.

 
 

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Angkor Wat

The cumaers were Buddhist, and the Angkor Wat complex (which is larger than London and includes the world’s largest man-made body of water, the West Barai as well as nearly 250 waterways) has some carvings of the tops of linga in a man-made riverbed, a sacred waterfall. Linga (the plural of lingam) means ‘penis’ which was a sacred Hindu symbol (Buddhism derived from Hinduism) and the linga  were fertilising the water. There hasn’t been any evidence of yoni (vagina) worship found there. I wanted to post this as a sort of aside to the Hinduism/Kali post. (I need to make more categories or pages).Image

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2012 in Religion

 

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Holy Erotica

Hinduism makes use of erotic art to depict a spiritual message. Conversely, sexual expression, especially for women, is not tolerated in India. My favourite Hindu goddess Kali (Kali Ma, Kalika, the Creatrix and Destroyer/abyss from which Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu rise) is often depicted in iconography as mating with the corpse of her husband Shiva (or Kala, meaning time: “because Thou devourest Time itself, Thou art Kali”). This is a play on words as ‘shava’ means ‘corpse’ but it shows how Kali is the feminine force, shakti. without which Shiva is inert. All souls are feminine to the divine in Shakti worship. This is a very feminist aspect of the religion. Kali is also very sexual and destructive as well as protective and maternal. For example, she used her vampiric tendencies to defeat Daruka the demon and defeated the demons Canda and Munda, as well as Sumbha and Nisumbha. But her blood-drunk frenzy was calmed by Shiva appearing in the form of a baby whom she suckled. Kali is usually shown as Dakshinakali but her other forms are Badrakali, Kali of the Cremation Ground and MahatmaKali (Great Kali). Kali is also sometimes worshipped by yoni worship. She is worshipped all over India, having absorbed similar goddesses such as Kottavai, though she is principally worshipped in Kerala province. In the 1940’s Kali was symbolised as representing India. She is associated with taboos and worshipped in cremation grounds. She used to be the goddess of low castes and thieves (as exemplified in the Indiana Jones movie, although of course that’s pure Hollywood insensivity and the cult of Kali is very complex, varied and ever-changing, as are most religions.) Kali is called Tara in Bengal. In India, Tara is a more compassionate incarnation of Kali (one of ten) and Kali is sometimes referred to as Tara. Kali is represented as dark, or Black, with dishevelled hair. Dark skin is considered ugly in India (hence overuse of skin lightening creams with tragic consequences – see TV documentary ‘Make Me White’) and dishevelled hair represents wild sexuality. Kali is a virgin which means that like all virgins she has a lot of sexual tension (as opposed to the Christian view of virginal purity, Hindus seem to see abstinence until marriage as stressful or unnatural to some extent, and virgins as curiousrather than pure-minded). This tension is appeased by singing dirty songs to Kali on a certain night to please her (similar to puberty songs that used to be sung to girls during a ritual – these were wiped out due to Western prudery.) Anyway just wanted to share this stuff.

Windows In

Soaring sandstone buildings set amid beautiful green lawns, giant statues of Hindu gods watching over the holy site, some of the best temple art in the world, and a finely sculpted frieze depicting intimate man-on-horse relations.

As a late addition to our India itinerary–squeezed between visits to the urban sprawls of Agra and Varanasi–Courtney and I decided to spend four days in the quiet village of Khajuraho.

The area is famed for its massive Hindu temples, built by the Chandela Dynasty in the 9th century.  Eighty-five of these structures originally covered the grounds, all created in the relatively short span of 100 years.  The monuments remained unknown to the outside world until the British, led by locals, “discovered” them in 1838.  What they found hidden in the jungle shocked them, not because of the grand scale of the 25 remaining temples, but rather because of the detailed

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Posted by on June 7, 2012 in Religion

 

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Abstinence clarifications

I have just discovered that the ‘virginity as gift’ discourse is not the only anti-sexual freedom discourse; the movement is more varied than I had suspected. I apologise for this ommission. I really want my blog to be accurate and properly referenced – watch this space for referenced, peer-reviewed articles on lone motherhood and sexual repression in the next few days – and I don’t want to misrepresent anything. I want you all to be able to check out my sources and challenge my assertions on a factual basis, should you wish to do so; and this blog is going to get more political.

Anyway, I have found a blogger here who presents a religious motive for abstinence (ie admittedly religious, not subtly religious like the gift discourse). He actually disagrees with the gift discourse, as his motivation is legal or law-based. Thus, three types of abstinence discourse can be indentified: Pragmatic (to protect from STDs/pregnancy); to give a gift; and to obey God’s law.

Of course, all three types are religious/control motivated, but they range in how openly religious they are – for example, the pragmatic approach is marketed as nonreligious and as such the movement gained much power under the Bush regime when the Government began to control sexuality by making teens abstinent (abstinence education) and later adults with marriage programs which contained abstinence. This type of abstinence education was attempted by Dorries in January and revived in May in America. It also forms part of “comprehensive” sex ed programs in America, unlike the UK where there is no mention of abstinence in sex ed programs in state schools (so nobody has heard of the word “abstinence”.). It appears to be the most dangerous and politically viable type of abstinence movement and discourse in the West. By contrast, the religio-legal ‘God’s law’ basis is the least politically viable, for obvious reasons, and therefore the least dangerous. So don’t worry about it! I will post more on abstinence very soon, but I just wanted to clarify the incompleteness of what I said before. I’ve been researching abstinence for 2 years so I’m sorry for the ommission. The guy’s blog (in which he explains why he disagrees with Lolo Jones’ gift discourse stance in favour of a God’s Law discourse stance) is here, although it is quite offensive; however, I like it and I did get wet reading it. It is also well-written if a bit long-winded: http://revealchristmission.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/open-letter-to-miss-lolo-miss-lori-regarding-a-few-choice-words-i-hope-proves-helpful-to-a-woman-as-so-stated-by-you-in-last-months-news-more-or-less/

I enjoyed reading the above post, although I realise it would be disturbing to most people.

Although Orthodox Jews and Muslims are also abstinent, personally I do not believe their abstinence movements (if any even exist) to be dangerous; they seem to promote abstinence only within their religious communities and have not made attempts at controlling the freedom of non-Muslims/non-Jews. (I do not refer to terrorists as “Muslims” since Muslims do not feel that terrorists are Muslims, because terrorism is a violation of the principles and values of the Qur’an). This is why I’ll be talking about Christian-based abstinence; it is the most prevalent and politically powerful and the abstinence activists, leaders and their followers do not identify as Jew or Muslim.

 
 

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