Saturday, January 29, 2011

"New Light" Enforcement


A parody

Rap, rap, rap!" I was jolted from a sound sleep by a sharp knocking on our door.

My husband jumped up and rubbed his eyes, "Did you hear some knocking?"

Sleepily, I replied, "It's probably just some religious cult." It was Saturday morning and I wanted to sleep in. I rolled over and closed my eyes again.

"Rap, rap, rap!" There it was again.

Paul groaned and fumbled for his bathrobe. "I'll go see."

"Thanks, darling," I responded, eyes still closed. I heard him undoing the three locks on the front door.

"Hydro Police!" a stern male voice announced.

I fairly leapt into my bathrobe, stunned at the words I heard.

"What have we done?" Paul asked the two officers standing in the doorway.

"Here is our warrant to search your home for illegal light bulbs!"

"Wha…? Since when…?" Paul was baffled.

The two officers pushed their way inside the door and headed directly for our kitchen. One officer went straight for our stove and smashed out the small stove light with his Billy stick. "This is an illegal bulb!" He glared at me.

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, still unclear about the reality of what I was seeing.

The other officer smashed the two lights situated over the sink. He pulled out a small pad and began jotting notes. "Stove, sink…" Then he smashed the overhead light in the kitchen.

"Wait!" Paul interjected. "That light is okay. I mean, it's a fluorescent!"

The officers ignored his objections and moved to the dining room, smashing more light bulbs — including the decorative fixture. These were on a dimmer — they had to go. The second officer wrote furiously while the first one systematically went through our house, room by room, smashing all the incandescent bulbs with his Billy stick — plus a few fluorescent ones just for good measure. We weren't going to pull any stunts with these two tough cops enforcing the newly-enacted law.

Paul glared at me and I glared back, as the police paraded through our home this Saturday morning. True, we had known about the law to ban incandescent light bulbs, but I never imagined it would come to this.

"What will happen to us?" I queried.

"You have 30 days to comply!" the first officer holding a Billy stick shouted into my face. Strange what a little adrenaline and a mission to restore law and order will do to a man's voice. He continued, "When we come back after that, if there is any trace of incandescent lighting, you will go to jail!"

I had seen the Conservative flyers about the need for new jails, but I thought they were for rapists, murderers and drug dealers.

And I had heard how, without warning, retailers suddenly removed their incandescent lights from the store shelves. I wondered what motivated them. That little government ruse completely by-passed the general public, who were not consulted. More government corruption, I supposed. Right here in "democratic" Canada.

I was jolted out of my ruminating.

"It's all your fault, woman!" Paul suddenly blurted into my face. "I wanted to convert, but you don't like the new bulbs."

"It's pure bullshit! Those bulbs don't last ten years. We have been in this house for three and you've already had to change several of the new bulbs. I, on the other hand, have not changed any of my incandescent bulbs! This law is corrupt!" I looked at the first officer. "We live in a free country and you can't do this to me — to us!"

The first officer raised his Billy stick to me, but fortunately, the second officer checked the Billy stick with his own, motioning down. They continued their march through our home, smashing all the incandescent lights in their path. Quite unexpectedly, Paul stepped into the lead, taking them directly to the illegal bulbs for which I was responsible. "These are in the house against my wishes," he declared with conviction. "I am all for good laws that help us to conserve energy. I am not the lawbreaker here. My wife is!"

"Well, if our house burns down from one of your magic bulbs doing a melt-down, how much energy will we be conserving?" I countered. "Remember the pictures Professor Marla showed me? Those bulbs were spewing toxic chemicals into her home…why, those bulbs had black blisters on them! Some trade-off in the name of 'energy conservation' — poisoning her innocent pets!"

By this time Paul was leading the officers to our basement. My office was the only room down there with the illegal bulbs. As the police smashed the lamps in my office Paul declared, "Gentlemen, I have one more thing to show you." He led them directly to our cold storage room. "Her stash is in here!"

It is true. When I heard the new bulbs were to replace the incandescent bulbs, I went from dollar store to dollar store, buying up all the incandescents I could carry. At one store, I bought up their entire stock of 40-watt bulbs — my favorite.

Paul grabbed a Billy stick from one of the officers and raised it with a sneer on his face. "We have to stamp out this disease — this independent thinking!" The last thing I heard was the awful sounds of my precious bulbs being smashed to smithereens.

Then everything went black.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chevron Won't Remove Contaminated Soil

The above was the title of a news item reported on the Wednesday, January 12, 2011 edition of the Burnaby Now. The article proceeds to say, "While Chevron is legally obligated to stop the oil that's been seeping downhill from the North Burnaby refinery since last spring, the company has no plans to remediate the onsite soil, and the provincial Environment Ministry isn't going to force them..." The article proceeds to say that Chevron can't locate the source of the leak. They have had extraction wells on their property since 2004, which tells me that Chevron has known about leakage since that time, and yet nothing has been done to remedy the situation. This non-action appears to be enabled by the provincial Environment Ministry who refuses to enforce the law to stop leaks and remove contaminated soil — and apparently, it's supposed to be okay with the neighboring residents.
 
Yet, private property owners by law must remove old oil tanks and any contaminated soil at their own expense. Why is Chevron exempt from this mandate? Anyone who has removed a private-residence oil tank knows how, over the years, the metal disintegrates to the point of being unusable. Any oil leak would start out small, but as time went on the leak would only grow larger, due to the corrosive nature of the metal.
 
In our residential situation, my partner took immediate action with an old oil tank. He consulted the City of Vancouver and was advised to empty the tank and fill it with sand, which would absorb any remnants of oil. That action enabled a safer and less-expensive cleanup in the long run—when the time came to remove the tank, which had seriously corroded to the point of being unusable. I appreciate my partner's action. He did not ask the City, "How can I cover up this mess?" Nor did he offer a bribe. Instead, he chose to act responsibly by asking, "What is the environmentally-responsible course of action?"
 
Chevron holds many commercial-size tanks that are disentegrating and have not been replaced or upgraded. Much contaminated soil remains on site — so much in fact, that oil is leaking downhill into Burrard inlet, yet it seems to be business as usual at Chevron, with oil tankers sitting in the berth at the refinery, according to The Vancouver Sun.
 
If Chevron continues to use the tanks for storage, they are wasting valuable time. It is imperative that they remediate while the window of opportunity still remains open. Not only oil tanks, but all contaminated soil, must be legally disposed of. After the tank has been removed and soil remediation completed, a certificate must be issued by the city after passing a remediation test. Clearly, Chevron's oil mess is much larger than any private residence. The laws described at http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/03053_04 apply to both residential and commercial situations in British Columbia. Again, why is Chevron exempt from even the first step, that of closing down their refinery to remedy the situation? Curiou$ly, The Mini$try of Environment has $tated in the article, "...the Company is not required to remediate the refinery itself while it continues to operate as an industrial site." Do you $uppose that large sum$ of money have cro$$ed palm$ $omewhere to account for the di$crepancy in the application of these laws?
 
Often, it seems that $$$ is the only language that commercial companies understand. Perhaps the City of Burnaby will initiate a law suit against Chevron. Of course, that only applies if they are not in Chevron's pockets.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Public Masturbation Goes Mainstream

Public Transit ignored a young woman on the local rapid transit when she reported an incident of a man sitting across from her in the early morning hours of January 12, 2011 and openly masturbating, while gazing at her. The security official reprimanded her for stopping the rapid transit to lodge a complaint. Apparently, it was much more important that the security personnel remain at the front window, looking out for a potential threat due to the extensive snowfall, reported to be about two inches. The next day in the feedback section of a local daily paper, 24 Hours, three comments were published:
  1. “Re: the [public transit] masturbator incident. It makes me sick this kind of assault would be so easily dismissed by transit security as a “nuisance.” — Comments by a man whose statement impressed me. He recognized a sexual assault when one was described.
  2. “In this situation, as a woman, I would obviously be somewhat shaken. However, was there much she or the transit staff could do when he was obviously making efforts to sneak away unrecognized? I would move on from it.” — Comments by a woman who has been conditioned to believe that inappropriate behavior must be ignored. I say to ignore inappropriate behavior is to enable the abusive behavior to continue, and in fact, escalate.
  3. “This woman is purely selfish. Of course it is going to be traumatizing witnessing what she did. However, she was not harmed. Regarding her quote on how the attendants chose the commuters’ safety over her is an obvious choice. The attendants are monitoring the safety of all passengers, not just her. She states it is unsafe to ride the train while it is snowing, but in terms of the chance there will be a sexual assault, honestly, what are the chances?” — Comments by a man who feels that inappropriate sexual behavior should be condoned and enabled because two inches of snow was falling.
Before we dissect the issue further, let’s examine some definitions of sexual abuse. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sexual_activity:

sexual abuse is “Non-consensual sexual activity or subjecting an unwilling person to witnessing a sexual activity are forms of sexual abuse, as well as (in many countries) certain non-consensual …exhibitionism and voyeurism (known as 'indecent exposure'…).”

Following is a definition that seems to indicate respect for the victim's rights, http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/S/SexualAssault.aspx states: “Sexual assault is a creation of statute designed to capture those unwanted sexual advances which fall short of rape or which, while bereft of violence or even contact, nonetheless offend the recipient and are clearly sexual in nature. ...Where such an inclusive definition is set out, even sexual acts of which the victim is unaware would be punishable, such as voyeurism.”

By the first comment, I can see that the man acknowledges that indeed a sexual assault had occurred and the complaint deserved to be validated and dealt with according to the law — bravo! Still, the comment leaves me believing that the transit security staffer in question has not been trained to recognize when a sexual assault actually occurs. I wonder just how much training he actually received, based on his lame response.

I have observed much attention directed at fare evaders, but not much else. Once I witnessed several women in a train car being abused verbally by a drunk man, so I pressed the security button. At the next stop, two officers approached me and began to berate me for calling security, when I "should have simply changed cars." Excuse me — I   should leave the car? The abusive man was okay to stay and abuse still more   women? Clearly, there was something wrong with the security personnel's reasoning. Fortunately, they redeemed themselves on that occasion when the man, reeking of liquor, was escorted off the train. But giving me a talking to was a minor incident in comparison with how security dealt with the sexual assault.

While it is true that most men I have known masturbate while viewing images on the internet or magazines, most of them do not go on public transit with the idea of “jerking off” in front of a pretty young woman. Perhaps the man has a mental illness which prevents him from being aware of what is differentiated by law as decent or indecent behavior in a public setting. Or else, society in general is getting more conditioned to accept acts of indecent behavior — based on two of the above comments.

I have another bone of contention: It seems to me that some men have never been trained by their parents to respect women — so much so that the young woman in question was actually reprimanded for reporting the incident; then further dismissed by none other than a woman in comment #2. But really, I’d be curious to know how many men think that public masturbation is actually acceptable behavior for a comment like #3 to appear in print. Did this comment reflect the idea of many   similar comments?

I, for one, do not want our part of the world to feel unsafe for women — like some countries where women are not allowed to appear in public unless they are all covered up — and then, only while accompanied by a man. That would surely be a backwards step. However, women definitely DO need to feel safe in Canadian society, no matter what the “norm” is in another area.

Ultimately, men and women must learn to respect one another everywhere on our planet. Respect would be demonstrated by the use of healthy boundaries based on knowledge and education accessible to everyone.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wild Beast

I am guessing that many public figures fear for their lives these days, after the Arizona shooting of the congresswoman, Gabrielle Gifford and others. The killer could be a crazy person, a religious zealot, or a political gun-totin' wack-job — or any combination of the three. But no, the media assures us there are no facts linking Loughner to any religion or political group. Hmmm…I’m not so sure the media is being completely transparent with us, the readers. I certainly have read some articles lately with a certain “slant” to them.

But, I couldn't believe my eyes when I read about the Baptist Minister who was about to protest at the funeral of the nine-year-old girl who got slain. Christina Taylor Green was born on the day the World Trade Center was destroyed. I could not help but wonder why the religious group would use this tragedy to make headlines. Doesn't religion have a bad enough name already without adding their tacky spin on the tragedy?

Two Jewish groups have demanded an apology because of Sarah Palin's comment about "blood libel." It seems to me she did not even understand what the term means. But, that's what you get when you read a “Bush-league” script. Here is a well-researched discussion and explanation of the term “blood libel,” which includes an historical background: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/blood-libel-the-two-words-that-spelled-trouble-for-sarah-palin-2184102.html. Interesting that both Gabrielle Gifford and her boss are Jewish. I realize that most Christians do not believe in karma. However, the term could be taken to mean “consequences for your actions,” could it not? Does not the Bible say similarly, that one reaps what one has sown?

When my partner and I heard about the shooting and the map with the cross-hairs on the Democratic congress members, we instantly saw the connection. My partner asked me, "What would you say if you were Sarah Palin? My reply was,

"I am so sorry, America. I was wrong to create that hateful map. I confess I was jealous of the democratic win. I just couldn't take it. I see now that my actions are not without consequences, as are everyone's. I take full responsibility. From now on I will speak out against guns. Furthermore, I resign from politics!" 

It was a stretch, I know.

My partner raised an eyebrow, "Hmmm...Gun enthusiasts might view her as a traitor." He hesitated, then continued, again raising his other eyebrow, "...maybe with consequences.” We felt that such a response might elicit the respect of the sheeple* again and she might actually have a chance at the presidency. But we were both wrong. She went into complete denial about her part in the plot. By plot, I mean the one about taking back the lost Republican seats. And all the Tea Partiers rallied round their northern idol. Then, to be sure of their power, these fine Christians went out and bought more guns, feeling self-righteous; while clearly portraying a mob mentality.

Is this how far religion has to go before someone sees it has too much freedom? Sarah Palin calls herself a Christian, but she certainly does not act like the Jesus I have read about in the Bible. Perhaps as a "good" Christian, she may recall the scripture where the Roman officer came to arrest Jesus. Peter took out his sword to defend his Lord. What did Jesus say, "Let's put cross-hairs on the Romans"? Not in my Bible. If I remember right from my Bible-thumping days, the scripture at Matthew 26:52 says, "...Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword."

Of no consequence?

I wonder whether the wild beast of Revelation (Chapters 13-14) could refer to the composite religions of the world who keep grabbing for more power. The woman riding the beast is drinking blood: could that be the greedy governments who gave the religious beast its power? Enough lobbying dollars can buy a lot of "freedom for religion," can't it? As far as I am concerned, religion has too much freedom and is one of the biggest threats to life and liberty. Voters’ tax dollars as well as religious donations have fed that blood-thirsty beast and it got too big — too powerful. Can humanity or governments control that religious beast any longer? I believe it is a “religious” beast (not political, like the Jehovah's Witnesses believe). Why? Because the beast was receiving worship, as religions profess they give God. Religions claim to be worshiping God, but their actions do not align with true spirituality. Humans hate and kill one another in the name of God — not “Christ-like” at all in my books. Why are religious members not held to the standards of their own Holy Books?

So, just how did the beast and the woman rider end up? Read Revelation chapters 13 and 14 and let me know what you get out of segments. My impression is that the beast turns on the woman, devours her; then the beast, in turn, is destroyed by a power greater than itself.

In the 2009 attack on Gabrielle Gifford's office, the Republicans blamed “skateboarding kids” for the broken glass. I speculate that the Republicans will never own up to the part they played in stirring up the masses to such violence as we have seen in the past several years in the political arena.

I have never liked guns. And now I believe more strongly than ever that there must be controls on buying weapons. According to the Huffington Post, in 2009’s town hall meeting in Tucson, “the threat of violence led [Gabrielle Gifford’s] aides to call the police after one attendee dropped a gun.” The short article is found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/10/gabrielle-giffords-town-h_n_255656.html. The red flags were waving a warning of the threat to safety even back then, but everyone was too busy to notice until an entire group of innocent people were viciously attacked.

“Classic American denial,” is what Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/opinion/16rich.html?_r=1&ref=frankrich. “…speedy ‘closure,’ followed by a return to business as usual, followed by national amnesia.” People go back to their treadmills and forget about the tragic events they just witnessed.

How much worse must the threat to safety and freedom become before governments take action? Oh yes, I forgot — how can governments possibly help when they are at the very root of the issue?

* sheeple: (from Wikipedia), (a portmanteau of "sheep" and "people") is a term of disparagement, in which people are likened to sheep. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheeple

sheeple: plural (no singular), (derogatory slang) People who unquestioningly accept as true whatever their political leaders say or who adopt popular opinion as their own without scrutiny. Source: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sheeple

sheeple (satinka's definition): Co-dependent people who select someone to lead them and subsequently follow along blindly, no matter how stupidly their leader behaves.

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only if it is distributed freely.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

BP Sponsors Arizona Funeral Coverage

With respect to British Petroleum's oil spill and feigned cleanup attempts, I read with great interest (several months ago now) the article posted at:

http://pesn.com/2010/11/01/9501718_Hutchison-Lazaryan_frequency_generator_happy_dolphins_Gulf/
I saved it as a word document just in case it ever disappeared from the internet.

Yesterday I was horrified when, trying to watch the funeral coverage of the nine-year-old shooting victim in Arizona, that British Petroleum posted ads claiming responsibility for a successful cleanup of the oil spill that they caused on the Gulf of Mexico. They situated themselves as some kind of "messiah" or "hero" and thanks to them, the waters are safe, tourism is great, and fishing is wonderful.

At first I felt nauseous, then I started shaking, then I felt chilled. I went to bed and covered myself up with a wool comforter, then a down comforter, and I shivered and cried for several hours. My husband shared his body heat with me and listened to me cry and vent, until the rage dissipated. Here is the link with the ads and news coverage:
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/World/20110113/hundreds-come-out-for-arizona-girl-funeral-110113/

This morning I gathered myself up to take action. I didn't try to watch the CTV coverage again. I didn't want to risk another reaction and lose a day of blogging.

What especially aggravated me was that BP used a tragic event to situate themselves as a "messiah" while people are deep in grief and unable, as they might otherwise be, to respond to BP's "benevolent" public appearance.

I knew as soon as I saw the happy dolphins where the credit belonged: with the ordinary folk who care for and respect the earth. We are all one with the animals and, in fact, all of nature. All I remember BP for is the dead oil-soaked wildlife being washed up on shore. The Happy Dolphins say a lot about who the real unsung heroes are: the ones that don't go publicizing their efforts and blowing their trumpet ahead of themselves; but rather, because of love for Mother Gaia and all of humanity, find themselves quietly, and without fanfare, being used by her to save our planet.

Friends in Florida have assured me that while there is some improvement, things are still not back to normal by a long shot. Many health problems are now challenging the local folk...and BP says everything is okay. It seems to me that BP is attempting to propagandize the world, rather than taking responsibility for raping the natural resources at the expense of the Gulf inhabitants' well-being. I figure the best thing BP could do is pay their lawsuit to the US government. The money would help to restore those badly contaminated areas for which BP is directly responsible.

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Copyright ©2011.
Permission is granted to copy
this blog only if it is distributed freely.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Questionnaire about Free Will


Please feel free to read my previous post of January 9, 2011 called "Respect and Religion" before analyzing the level of respect in your religious institution. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by being honest and open with yourself. Here are some questions to ask yourself*:
  1. Is critical thinking allowed? In other words are you frowned upon if you have doubts and questions? Are you afraid to voice your uncertainties because you may be judged as a "doubting Thomas" or as a "weak one"?
  2. Are you allowed to choose for yourself what to wear, without being influenced by pre-determined rules? For example, must women wear dresses (no pants); is the length pre-determined (nothing above the knee/ankle)? Head coverings are considered to be a show of submission. At any time, are head coverings a requirement (at all times/on certain occasions)? Hair length is determined (some religions do not allow women to cut their hair). Women are not the only victims to be easily swayed. Some religions instruct men to wear only white shirts—no colored shirts allowed. I used to belong to a congregation where my teenage son was counseled by an elder, "you are not allowed to wear colored shirts." Does your religion have rules about beards/no beards? No beards were allowed by male members in any congregations that I attended.
  3. Are certain personal-choice activities frowned upon (dancing, gambling, smoking, buying lottery tickets, playing chess, playing contact sports)? Do your church elders frown upon members joining community clubs (sports, dancing, etc.) because you would be having association with "outsiders"/"worldly ones" who are not of your faith? Does your church frown upon higher education because, "Armageddon is coming and you don't need it"? (That is what my father told me.)
  4. Are meetings and other special events held more than once a week? The Jehovah's Witnesses hold five meetings a week, not counting the time members spend in field service, knocking on doors. Looking back, I now realize the religion wanted to keep people tied to the group. It helped to isolate members and not be influenced by "outsiders" — people of other religious denominations. While in field service, members were not allowed to accept literature from householders.
  5. Are members provided directives about "givings"? If you have family members who are not "of the faith" are you encouraged to cut them out of your will and instead "give to the Lord's work"?
  6. Are you required to take on financial debt for your religious group? A congregation I attended took a vote on re-mortgaging their bought-and-paid-for Kingdom Hall and sending all monies to the head office in New York to "further the preaching work" coffers. No one dared say no. A mortgage became a hardship for many seniors who were retired without a company pension. "Armageddon is coming and you do not need a pension."
  7. Are members advised against attending social events with workmates (end-of-the-year, weddings, funerals, Christmas, or birthday parties) because you could be influenced by "outsiders" and may be encouraged — or tempted — to leave the faith?
  8. Are certain customary occasions rejected and judged as "pagan" (Christmas, birthday parties, Easter, Thanksgiving, New Years’ Eve, Halloween, etc.)?
  9. If a member becomes depressed are they instructed to confess "secret sins" to the religious elders? Does your sickness mean you have been secretly sinning and are being punished by God? Are members discouraged from seeking guidance from a secular therapist because, "All scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for setting things straight" with God. Is reading the bible or reading religious publications or being "more regular in door-to-door service" the only requirements needed in order for you to be well? Are there many people in your congregation on anti-depressants?
  10. Are members who leave the faith subsequently marked, shunned or avoided even if they were a best friend or close family member? I received a letter from an elder who ordered me (upon threat of expulsion) to shun my mother when she left the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  11. Does your religion peer into adults' bedrooms and provide instructions on what is appropriate/inappropriate bedroom behavior? The Jehovah's Witnesses forbid oral sex, for example. Also, they disfellowship/expel homosexuals from their congregations. I personally know of a woman who was advised on how to behave toward her husband when the couple was experiencing sexual difficulties, even though the elders were not trained in sex therapy.
  12. Have elders and other members of your religion ever been accused of sexual misconduct? Most of the accusations have been buried under the Jehovah's Witnesses legal department rugs, unfortunately. Yet, http://www.silentlambs.org/ shows story after story, exposing the injustices done to children in the organization. They are no different than other religious organizations that have found themselves in the news with respect to sexual abuse — religions they condemn for "sexually deviant behavior." Their official response to the issue is "[sexual abuse] is a societal ill." Yes, it is a societal ill from which their organization is not immune. I respect the religions that admit to their human failings, rather than continue to enable such behaviors by their inaction.
  13. Are your members required and commanded to “make disciples,” or “give testimony” to “non-believers”/“the world”?
  14. Does your religion teach fear? (fear God, fear the Devil, fear outsiders, fear pagans, or fear apostates/infidels/non-believers?) Does your religion teach belief in hell, Armageddon, or another apocalyptic end to our earth or wickedness on earth? These are “punishing belief systems” only found within dogmas of world religions — very fear-inspiring. I for one, as a child, had nightmares about the coming destruction of the world, after seeing pictures in a family bible study book called, From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, New York: International Bible Students Association, 1958. Did you know that fear is the opposite of love? (See 1 John 4:18)
  15. Is there an “us against them” mentality; a persecution complex, whereby anyone who is not “for you” is “against you”? Have you ever said, or have you ever heard, “We are being persecuted because of our beliefs." "We need more freedom to practice our beliefs. After all, we are the only true religion." Black and white/dualistic thinking is a characteristic of religious cults.
  16. Is/are your leader(s) believed to be infallible (The Governing Body, The Pope, Imam, Prophet, etc.)?
If you say "yes" to any of the above, it is possible you have been stripped of your free will — the ability to think for yourself. If you have ever had the opportunity to watch a movie called "The Life of Brian" you may remember the occasion where "the people" decided that Brian was their messiah. In a moment of utter frustration, Brian told the mesmerized people, "You must learn to think for yourselves!" and all the people nodded, and — in perfect head-bobbing unison — responded, "We must learn to think for ourselves." To me it demonstrated the astonishing gullibility of people to turn over their free will to a charismatic leader.

I believe free will is a precious "gift" that must be cherished and used, not given away for someone else to tell us what to do with it and how to do it.

Perhaps I have missed some points. Wherever possible, I used examples to illustrate the kinds of scenarios one may encounter. Sadly, religious leaders can be brazenly invasive into the personal lives of people.

Feel free to comment below.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Respect and Religion

I had an opportunity to see old friends on New Years' Eve when my partner and I went out dinner-dancing at a wonderful club where our group occasionally enjoys gathering. We talked with our friends about how busy our lives have become in the past year. We wondered about another couple who have recently disappeared from our lives. Last I heard, upon marriage, the couple became Mormon. Granted, the woman was previously Mormon, but upon her divorce had been judged harshly by her church. Thereafter, we saw her often because she began dancing with — and dating — a man within in our group of friends. Remarrying was her only way back into the good graces of her church elders, especially if she could persuade her new husband to join. Apparently, the new husband embraced the religion hook, line, and sinker — even though we were all aware that he had a purely "secular" background while we knew him.

Shortly after their marriage, the Mormon couple invited us to join them at their church for a dance demonstration. Along with the invitation came a litany of instructions about what would be appropriate dress for the occasion. We should wear this, but not that or the other. Excuse me — am I a child that I still need to be told how to dress? The new wife's comments flashed me back to my prior membership with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having since left the Jehovah's Witnesses, I recognized instantly that now I was feeling disrespected by the rules of her Mormon religion. Here I was, not even a Mormon member, yet I was being instructed on what I should wear and how I should conduct myself so as to not insult her recently-re-acquired Mormon "modesty." As a result, my partner and I declined attending the dance event. Not an easy thing for us, especially because both of us dearly love dancing.

Another occasion arose — this time to attend a funeral at a mosque. The deceased was Muslim. The funeral announcement was accompanied by a full paragraph of instructions on how — women in particular — should dress, right down to the requirement for modesty and a head covering. I declined attendance at that event, too.

It is quite one thing for religions to force their dogmas on their own members. But, why do some religious people think it is acceptable to force their beliefs on "outsiders"? Why can't they recognize how disrespectful their behavior appears to people who are not conditioned to think like them? I'm sorry — I cannot simply check my brain along with my coat at your church door. I recognize disrespectful behavior when I encounter it, now that I have left the Jehovah's Witnesses — because they carry on similarly. In Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Halls, women are expected to dress and act a certain way in order to be accepted as a member in good standing. The religion is patriarchal in nature whereby the only purpose of women is to serve men. As long as you obey the rules of the elders, you are accepted by the group.

I feel that patriarchal religions have pushed their "religious agenda" too far, infringing on the human rights of others, and quite simply their behavior feels more than a little discourteous. Just because they have a "religious" belief and I have a more "secular" view of life does not mean that my beliefs are less significant than theirs. My beliefs are just as valid as anyone with a religious attachment simply because I accept my conscience and intuition to guide me healthily. Their "religious" belief is not superior in any way over my "secular" belief.

In my opinion, religions and all their various dogmas currently serve to divide — rather than unite — humanity. I would like to see unity prevail on planet Earth and I feel that patriarchal religions do not have the answer on how to accomplish such harmony because their attitudes are divisive. To stay silent on the issue of disrespectful behavior by patriarchal religions is to condone and enable disrespectful behavior to continue.

Where is the line in the sand to differentiate between respectful behavior and disrespectful behavior? That explanation is too long to explain in a few words. Watch for my next post on the subject.

Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.