There. I said it. Christians are narrowminded, hypocritical, willfully ignorant assholes. And they piss me the fuck off.
What else am I supposed to think, when people like Menjaran are outnumbered by the thousands by people like Ken Hutcherson and James Dobson? At what point can you no longer say "well, they aren't really Christians because they're not actually following the Gospel" because they've redefined the term just by sheer numbers and volume? There is a reason Christianity has bigger PR problems than Exxon-Valdez, and it's because the people who claim its mantle most stridently are, on the whole, bass-ackwards pricks who are more than happy to trample widows and orphans in their grand quest to find the correct open-sesame to the Pearly Gates.
How can a religion based on self-sacrifice and humility spawn people like Benny Hinn? How does a religion founded by a single guy running around telling people to ditch their families and skip marriage come to signify White Nuclear Families Uber Alles? How does that even happen? What kind of theological Mobius strip do you have to subscribe to to have this make any kind of sense?
At what point do you just say "Fuck this. I'm going somewhere else and I'm taking Jesus with me," and stop even bothering to identify yourself with this Christianity thing because the baby drowned in the bathwater long ago? At what point do you simply leave "Christianity" to the "Christians" and just go try to build your low-key love-your-neighbor kingdom of God somewhere else?
I feel like something has been stolen from me, and I'm not sure whether it makes me angry or sad.
I just don't know anymore.
I think there is some kind of algorithm to determine precisely how long I can avoid going to church before my mom starts breaking out the guilt trips. So far I think I'm standing at about a month and a half, and the Significant Glances and Not-So-Subtle Statements about We Missed You At Church and Christians Need To Attend Church Regularly Lest They Start Down The Non-Straight-And-Narrow-Path started about two Sundays ago.
She is no longer accepting "hey, this is my sleep schedule now, and I don't want to throw it off" as a valid excuse. Apparently I can somehow magically not have DSPS on Sundays. Which is not to say I didn't sort-of-on-purpose finesse my sleep schedule to make going to either morning OR evening services a legitimate hardship.
To top it off, my mom has again started asking that damn "what DO you do all night?" question, so familiar to me from the pre-Outing #1 days. I have discovered she asks this when she suspects I'm up all night visiting those icky "gay" "Christian" "websites" so I can be further warped into a perverted sodomitical apostate, and this whole "sleep disorder" thing is just a sneaky cover for inching out from under her constant supervisory thumb. Fortunately, I have a very convenient excuse in the pounds of jewelry I make at night hanging on the wall.
On the upside, on the rare occasions I reset the guilt clock by going to a service, she doesn't complain about me wearing pants anymore.
In a related vein, we also disagree on what constitutes "dressy," re: my cousin's impending nuptial celebration. Apparently "dressy" does not currently exist in my closet, requiring me to go buy clothing that one of us will inevitably hate. It also precludes pants and requires pantyhose and leg-shaving. Personally, I consider pantyhose both ugly AND uncomfortable, which offends the two core doctrines of my stylistic philosophy-- it must look good, and it must not make me want to kill the person who invented the article. I'm not sure if she really believes I don't know what she's doing, or not, because it's pretty damn obvious that she's reduced to using the most feeble pretext to get me to femme it up.
Fortunately, I have my dad on my side on this one, because requiring me to buy "dressy" clothing requires him to spend money, and he is firmly on the side of not spending money if he doesn't have to.
I think what irritates me most about the War of Passive-Aggression is that it essentially requires us both to treat the other like an idiot. Not only do I have to accept that my mom still thinks I have the reasoning skills and emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old, I have to treat her like she's incapable of processing honest logic to get her to treat me any differently, and every aspect of our relationship ends up being a bargaining chip. God forbid we respect each other as adults.
Aelgifu is eleven years old. I am twenty-three.
A couple of weeks ago, I was helping Aelgifu study for her social studies test on Wilson's 14-part plan by making up silly mnemonics, while checking Wikipedia for background and clarification on what each point means. The difference between the Geneva Conventions and the Geneva Protocol comes up.
"The Geneva Convention? It's a set of agreements that a whole bunch of countries made about how to treat prisoners of war. Stuff like don't torture them."
"Does anyone actually torture people?"
I have to think about what I'm going to say here.
"... well... we do."
"Um... yes. There's been a few cases lately where American soldiers have abused Iraqi prisoners or people they think are terrorists, like in a place called Abu Ghraib." I look up the Wikipedia article and opt not to show her the pictures, so I explain waterboarding as an example of what goes on.
"But how can they do that if we're not supposed to torture people?"
"Well, sometimes we get around it by saying that those people aren't really prisoners of war, they're detainees or enemy combatants instead."
Aelgifu makes a face.
"That, and there's a lot of people who say that things like waterboarding aren't really torture, so it's okay to do them."
Aelgifu kind of rolls her eyes here, since it's hard to describe waterboarding and not have it come across as something very, very mean.
"Yeah, I know. I think it's a little silly. That, or a lot of people think it's okay to torture if you do it to a terrorist. I... disagree, because I think that torture is wrong no matter who you do it to, and you know, you shouldn't lower yourself to that level, but a lot of people kind of like the idea of... revenge, I guess."
"But... that's WRONG."
"...Yeah, I agree. There's also something Congress passed where President Bush can... um, well, pretty much declare anyone he doesn't like to be an "enemy combatant," and that means they no longer have any right to things like due process or habeas corpus. Remember those?"
"Fourth amendment? And Fifth?"
"Oh yeah! Um... a speedy and public trial, with a jury, and they have to tell you what you're charged with!" We previously did the mnemonic thing with the Bill of Rights, obviously. "He can just do it for no reason?"
"Well, he's not supposed to, but he doesn't really have to have any hard evidence, he just has to suspect them of being a terrorist or a traitor or something. Like, technically, he could point to me, and say 'You are an ENEMY COMBATANT because you say mean things about me, and that helps the enemy!' and there's nothing I can really do about it. There's this guy named Jose Padilla..." Again, looking up the Wikipedia article on him. "President Bush thought he might be a terrorist, so they put him in a military prison, and then they kept him there for a really long time... um, it says three years... without telling his family where he was or what he was being accused of. And he might have been tortured too."
"They didn't even tell his FAMILY where he WAS? For THREE YEARS?"
"Or why they were putting him in jail?"
"Doesn't look like it."
"Why'd they think he was a terrorist? WAS he a terrorist?"
"Um, lemme look it up." Wikipedia! "Um, looks like he hung around with someone that had Al Qaeda connections and stuff like that, basically. Nothing on him specifically."
"Oh. That's it?"
"It doesn't say much more than that, I'd have to go looking for it. They might have had something else I don't know about."
"Couldn't he get a lawyer?"
"Not really, no. That's one of the rights he lost with all the due process stuff."
"How's he going to defend himself, then?"
"... well... he can't, really."
Aelgifu looks properly horrified, so I put in a point here. "Okay, I should point out here that all this is what I think, and Mom and Dad disagree with pretty much all of it and they'd be telling you something very different. And I'm not telling you any of this because I want to make you believe something, I want you to go look it up for yourself and make up your own mind. Make sense?"
At some point we return to Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations.
Today, Aelgifu wanted me to read her a bedtime story. (This is mainly an excuse to delay having to go to sleep and leave me alone, but hey. Quality time and all that.)
"So do you have a book?"
"Yeah, it's right over there."
I look. "... um... this one?" Please, for the love of sanity, tell me there's another book around here.
"... do I have to?"
Aelgifu shrugs. She's aware that I have issues with Left Behind.
Sigh. "Aelgifu, I'm going to be honest, I think these books are complete crap. Can we please read something else?"
"They're... just... I think they're really badly written." And badly theologized, if that's a word, and totally devoid of redeeming value under any measure not involving recycling the paper it's printed on. To put it mildly. There's no really easy way to go into the psychotic horror that is premillennial dispensationalism with a fifth-grader who got the books from her mother.
"I like them..."
"I'm not saying you can't, but... just... can we read something else? Please?"
"I don't really have anything else I haven't read..." We look. "What about THIS one?" She pulls out the second book in the series. I give her the stinkeye, and she giggles.
We end up reading five pages of a book which according to the cover will be about a heroic mastiff named Thunder.