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Content note: Self-parodying theophobia and sexism, especially in the links.

Read more... )

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Rationalists are rarely rational,

Objectivists are anything but,

Realists hold views completely at odds with reality,

And nationalists have very little faith in their or their nation-state's future.

Don't get me started on people whose publicly-facing identities (like Twitter profiles) say that they're a husband, wife, father, mother, or Christian. The more they harp on it, the more they probably suck at it.

I've also noticed that neoliberal Reddit atheists have very firm beliefs about the nature of God and how one should relate to him, and aren't shy about preaching those beliefs. But if you've read my earlier entries, you already know that.

Clarification (or "wow, you seem upset")

I'm actually in a more or less okay mood right now. There's just been some drama going on in the tabletop gaming community, where a well-respected figure basically wrote an apologium for abuse and was publicly scandalized by someone getting mad at their harasser (of several years). A bunch of women called this figure out for making them less credible and their lives more dangerous, and he went on to write like five pages of 'splaining, while a ton of guys cheered him on.

So this has been one of those weekends. -_- And it's affecting people I care about.

On the plus side, new episodes of Steven Universe are running every weekday for the next two weeks, and apparently something big's happening. So, public service announcement: Even if you're normally okay with spoilers, [twitter.com profile] mcburnett, one of the series' writers, says that you really really shouldn't spoil these episodes.

Now to commence two weeks of nerve-wracking tension, including a three-parter separated by a weekend. o-o;

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Please pray to whatever you worship, that justice will be done. For all of the gender, sexual, religious, and ethnic minorities whose lives are policed by the majority's cruelty, and ended through violence, deprivation, and despair.

After you are finished praying, please find those who are endangered and hurting, and help them. Not by erasing what makes them endangered, but by making it safe for them to be themselves.

My going on living, today, is a political act. Just like it has been every day, for the past few years. I shouldn't have to face the opposition that makes it political. I should just be able to take it for granted.

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tl;dr: Religious abuse only happens because religious leaders are allowed to claim ownership of things other people need in order to live, which is basically the spiritual version of "private property." Because of this, most Internet Atheist criticisms of "religion" would be better directed at capitalism instead.

Content note: Discussion of abusive religion and eating disorders.

Defining capitalism

From CollectQT's Political Definitions page:

capitalism - An economic system wherein the means of production are largely privately owned. Capitalism is inherently oppressive.

To unpack that a little, "the means of production" are what you need access to in order to make a living. They can be anything from printing presses to app stores to hunting preserves.

In a capitalist economic system, like the ones in China and the United States, these things are all privately owned, meaning that one person or corporation is allowed to control them despite the fact that everyone needs them. This is why capitalism is inherently oppressive; whatever political freedoms you may have, the people who own the means of production have the power to decide whether you live or die, and under what circumstances.

When critics of capitalism are talking about "private property," this is what they are criticizing. The "property" in question is the means of production, not your personal effects. They are not saying that you should be forced to give up your plushies or miniatures. On the other hand, if you've ever seen someone eBay their most prized possessions in order to make next month's rent, you know that this is exactly what capitalism does to the people it makes into losers.

How and why abusive religions do this to their victims, and how to help people escape )

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Content note: Bad religion, intolerant atheism, and implied homo/trans/everythingphobia.

What do I do if I have presented these questions to bishops and leaders and anyone and everyone who will listen to me and nobody has any answers but when I go quietly in prayer to the Lord and I hear the entire and total opposite of what you are asking me to do? And what if that answer gives me relief and peace and makes me a better mom and wife and sister and friend? And what if that peace is interrupted every single time I am “called to the battlefront” for this cause? What if it destroys my family, President? That’s what I am really asking. What if “defending the family” ruins my own?

Sometimes, the people who attack bad religion (or all religion) on the grounds that it's logically abhorrent remind me of people like "Brett," in the comments on the above-linked article. Who replied to the author by telling her that "defending the family" by attacking other people and destroying their families is right, despite the obvious harm it does to her and people she cares about, because the Mormon prophets have said so and God says they will never lead anyone astray. QED.

Logic is useless or even harmful if you are operating from faulty premises. The most abusive religions, in my experience, actually rely very strongly on the kind of logic that "Brett" uses. They have no use for feelings and spiritual experiences that prompt people to abandon this logic even when they don't know how to argue with it, or hearts and minds that are open enough to listen to people they "know" are wrong about everything.

When I am determining whether or not a belief (or belief system) is harmful and abusive, I don't look at whether it's theistic or not, or at which god it worships. I look at whether or not it shuts down questioning, inoculates people against empathy and understanding, and tells them to do things that they feel are wrong.

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Attacks on religious expression are an example of a program undertaken by left-leaning individuals without thought for how this may be a part of capital’s larger approach to destroying sources of meaning outside of itself. […]

Marx and Engels never saw some sort of “defeat of religion” as a necessary condition for moving society forward.

From http://erasmuslijn.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/chains-of-being/

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"Civ V" lets you build a civilization (of humans) "to stand the test of time." In game terms, this means you start with stone-age settlers and end up with world domination, in or before the modern age.

That's the first thing that's horrifying in hindsight, to someone who grew up with these games and just played them again last night. The goal isn't to coexist and appreciate global diversity. It's to dominate all life on Earth, whether through armed conflict or cultural hegemony. And while there are benefits to cooperating with "minor city-states," in your struggle against the other players, by the modern age you drop all pretense of a mutually beneficial relationship and go straight to rigging elections. Because if you don't, your opponents' spies will.

The second thing is the cultural biases. They let you choose from dozens of historical leaders, but whether you're playing Boudica, Hiawatha, or George Washington you end up playing America F*** Yeah in practice. Either that, or a cartoon version of 20th century dictatorships.

Here's a short list of disturbing stuff from the "social policies" interface, as of the Gods and Kings expansion (I'm one behind):

  • "Faith" and "Rationalism" are mutually exclusive.

  • Socialism is a precursor to Communism in the "Order" policy tree. You can't have it active at the same time as "Liberty," which is the only way to grant universal suffrage.

  • Somehow, you can have Theocracy and Religious Tolerance active at the same time (and are rewarded for doing so).

  • There is an honest-to-goddess Meritocracy social policy, which was not ironically named (at least not on purpose).

You're rewarded for producing Great Artists, Engineers, Scientists, and so on, all of whom are named after real-world figures. There's no argument or discussion about what makes these people "great," and there are an awful lot of white guys, like patent troll Orville Wright.

Building a bank and stock exchange in every city won't result in rampant speculation, housing crises, and market crashes. There's no such thing as international banking. Money's a tool to be used by political leaders.

"Wonders of the World" are unique and exclusive, to the point where if your civilization's one turn behind in producing the Sistine Chapel you have to abandon it and start over once Catherine of Russia builds it instead. Awe-inspiring temples and monuments aren't ways to bring the world together, they're just more tools for domination and promoting inequality.

"Natural Wonders" are special and inviolate, and can't be "improved" by your Workers. They're pretty much the only land tiles that are like this, however. Everything, and I mean everything else, eventually gets railroad tracks, lumber mills, and strip mines laid out across it, until your country's a patchwork of farms, city skylines, and smokestacks. There are no ecological consequences to building coal-fired factories, nuclear power plants, dams, quarries, and gaudy landmarks everywhere. The sea level does not rise. Resources are never depleted. No continent-sized islands of garbage form in the ocean. If nonhuman species go extinct, you don't hear about them.

And that, to me, is the most horrifying thing about Civ V. Watching a game of it play out feels, to me, like it might to most humans watching the robots from the Matrix plate the Earth in cast iron. Nonhuman species have zero agency, zero voice, and zero way to fight back as they are annihilated, mere obstacles in the way of "progress." Rewards for leaving wild areas wild are few and far between, and there's always the possibility that you'll strike oil right next to the Great Barrier Reef.

This game is nightmarish.

I'll stop playing after I finish one more turn. :P

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

"You should seek after things with eternal significance."

Why this belief is harmful: On the surface, this sounds like Jesus' "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." But rather than meaning that you should help people and seek spiritual meaning, instead of hoarding stuff for yourself, the way it was taught to me in Mormonism is that you should never trust your own judgment about pretty much anything. It doesn't matter if something seems harmless, or healthy, or even necessary to you or others. If it's not going to be around forever, or be okay to have or do or be with in God's Celestial Kingdom, then it's worthless.

This can have horrifying consequences.

Content note: Religious abuse, racism, homophobia, transphobia )

jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)

"Honest seekers of truth can know for certain that God lives and has a plan for their lives."

Why it's harmful: Because being preoccupied with getting ultimate answers to unanswerable questions means you find them, one way or another. Whether by having someone else tell you, or making them up for yourself. And because these questions are unanswerable, that means all the answers are wrong.

Read more... )

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A few years ago, an elderly relative of mine died, and I ended up staying in their house -- an old house that had been in the family for ages -- to help sort out their possessions.

I did not hear any voices, or see any apparitions while staying there. But I felt these presences all around me, watching me over my shoulder, looking down on me and judging me. It felt like being under a spotlight in a darkened room, while all around you people are whispering disapprovingly about you. And all you can hear is the hissing of their voices, and the judgmental tone they are taking.

What were they so upset about? Well, here I was, surrounded by fine furniture and The Classics, and what was I doing in my free time while I was there? Writing Digimon fanfic in a $0.99 notebook, and playing video games on a gaudy white plastic box that I'd hooked up to their television. Plus, I was young, and I occasionally thought about sex. The horror!

The religion I was part of at the time, Mormonism, was in some ways an ancestor cult. Their meetinghouses have "Family History" libraries, where many members spend hours looking up genealogy. Once they have enough records on someone, they can take their name to the temple and have "baptisms for the dead" and other ordinances done on their behalf, so that this person can have the chance to accept Mormonism in the next life. Some report having experiences where their ancestors or other people came to them, sometimes in dreams, asking for their temple work to be done.

I think that these expectations can be self-fulfilling, in that they cause people to have these experiences. When I was really young, for instance, doing proxy baptisms and confirmations for the first time, I interpreted the feelings I had -- of sacredness, cleanliness, and being accepted by other people -- as the approval of the people that the work was being done for. I thought they must be smiling on me, just like I'd been told they would.

But I don't think all demons and spirits are created by "religion." Sometimes, I think, it's the other way around. Some spirits are already there, and traditions start when people find ways of dealing with them. Whether they're healthy traditions or not depends less on whether they start for the "right" reasons, IMO, and more on how they help people deal with the real experiences that they have.

I also came down with bronchitis while I was there, in my relative's old dusty house. I'm glad for modern medicine, and for the fact that I had access to it back then, because it meant people understood what had caused it and could give me some pills to help cure it.

But understanding what caused it didn't make my lungs any less sensitive, or the house any less dusty. Likewise, my "testimony" of temple work didn't help me deal with the feeling of being judged, any more than a "rational" understanding would have. Because what I didn't need, right then, was a clear and definite answer to the question of whether I was dealing with the spirits of my dead ancestors, or my own impressions of how they would have felt about me.

What I needed was permission to flip them the bird, and to live my life as though their feelings didn't matter. Whether that meant changing the way I related to them, or getting the heck out of a haunted house.

About us

~ Fox | Gem | Rei ~

We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

~ She / her ~

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