Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday ruminations on feminism, religion, etc

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

--TS Eliot, Ash Wednesday


~*~

In the middle of a very contentious thread titled What if the feminist blogosphere is a form of digital colonialism?--an atheist feminist named The Apostate let loose with the following:


The feminist blogosphere is VERY correct and proper. There is a huge orthodoxy, on race issues, on sexuality issues, on major progressive themes, on language. on religion. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but it makes it hard to embrace outliers like me who might otherwise contribute to the conversation. For instance, I personally violate the religion orthodoxy (I hate Muslims and Islam and religious people in general), I am not all that sensitive about language (once called an Islam-apologist feminist a bitch, insist on continuing to use verboten words like “lame” and I like my gendered insults, such as prick), I refuse to include Sean Bell in my list of feminist issues, I often say I hate men, I am publicly glad when misfortune is visited upon my enemies (anti-choice Andrew Sullivan is HIV positive - yay! Marc Ambinder is ugly - yay!) and other such horrifying things. No wonder nobody links to me!

Haha.
(Yes, she really did add the "Haha"--which I think really makes the post.)

And she was ignored on the thread. Which was good; if her intent was to derail, it didn't work. But I was also disappointed that the comments about religious women and a gay man with HIV, were not challenged. Only Renee (at Womanist Musings) challenged the comment; no one else did.

Why? Did they agree with her? If any other group(s) of people had been insulted with open hate speech, would feminists have remained silent?

Initially, I wrote off Apostate's little tantrum, since I know that she once was Muslim herself, and I well understand that ex-fundamentalists are often traumatized by their upbringing. But hey, aren't we all? I responded to my racist father by becoming an anti-racist activist, for instance. Apostate has responded to her strict upbringing by trashing Islam, and then extending this critique to all religion.

Later in the thread, Apostate proclaimed--"What a lot of petty self righteous assholes the feminist blogosphere is full of," and after her proclamation that she hates most of the women in the world (who ARE religious, take note), I had just had enough. We ended up in an argument on her own blog, and she ended up censoring my comments and banning me permanently.

Admittedly, my first emotion was: thrilled!!! Oh boy!!! Finally, after years of arguing, I was outright BANNED from AN ATHEIST BLOG!!! Hot damn. (I will be linking Apostate for years, she must have known her hits will increase from now on.) Atheists looooove to brag (rightly and correctly) that they get tossed off of religious blogs and boards as soon as they even announce themselves. BAM, gone. I've seen it myself, countless times. And they are pretty proud of that, as well they should be.

On one now-defunct Christian message board I used to frequent, the censorship was particularly aggravating. I was usually having great FUN arguing with the atheist or agnostic, while others would become greatly agitated, and eventually ban the person. I would end up defending them, and on at least two occasions, I left internet bulletin boards over the banning of intelligent, well-mannered atheists, who did nothing more than freak Christians out with tough questions.

And at least twice, I was called on the carpet for my own heresy. Yes, you know what it is, my beloved existentialism, my Kierkegaard, my science fiction and Teilhard de Chardin. From an amalgam of these sources, I employ my standard argument against the atheists, which is one they cannot refute. As far as I am concerned, the only argument. THE argument.

The reason I believe in God/religion/Church/sacraments, etc is an endless variation of these statement ...a riff, if you will:

I like it.

It is fun, it gives pleasure.

It makes me ecstatic/happy/peaceful/optimistic.

It makes me feel better than I would feel otherwise.

It's great. Aesthetically, it's really neat.

I want to be a priest/holy woman myself, I am pretty good at it!

I feel that God listens to me/speaks to me.


Etc.

These statements make no claim for objective truth, as I don't think we can. These statements are MY truth; they are about why I choose to practice as I do. It is about ME. I have taken full responsibility: this is what makes MY life better, gives MY life meaning, this is how I view the world, and how I relate to what I call the high concepts, and you call delusions. I do not care if you like it or not, because I don't do it for you, I do it for me.

If one is a rational atheist, you should be able to admit I am right. If I go to Mass or read a book or meditate or sing or clap my hands and claim to conjure up the living devil--why should you care? Do you care if people go to football games or rock concerts? Do you care what kinds of sex people choose to have? Do you care about which movies they watch and which books they read? Well, why is the choice of belief or religion not the same?

BECAUSE, the atheists intone, RELIGION CLAIMS TO BE TRUE.

Well, duh. The Buckeyes will kick Wolverine ass, and that is TRUE TOO, ask any Buckeyes fan. Ask any diehard fans of STAR WARS or LORD OF THE RINGS which movie is the best, and they will assure you STAR WARS and THAT IS THE TRUTH! If people are having sex and claim to enjoy it, I assume they are telling the truth and I take their word for it that it is true, this is good sex for them. But you know, it might not be good sex for ME.

We all say what we claim to be TRUE, and we constantly disagree with each other about clothes, about shoes, about where to live and how to spend our time. We all testify to the truth as we know and believe it, and yet, religion is somehow a "special" case, something apart from other choices we make, about sexuality, about occupation, about marriage, home ownership, carbon footprints, childbearing. Actually, my contention is that religion is the same type of choice as these other lifestyle choices, that feminists can discuss without hyperventilating (or should be able to). We are not living in the Holy Roman Empire; we have choices. We are no longer forced to be XYZ just because our parents were. And then again, there are lots of characteristics we share with our parents, our families or villages of origin, and this might be another one.

We may have something very special to bring to the table, for this reason.

~*~

Which is better, a Chevy or a Ford?

If we don't know what to believe, we ask someone we respect, someone we think knows about cars: Should I buy a Chevy or a Ford?

Chevy, says the Respected Person authoritatively. Then, you buy the Chevy and it breaks down in rush hour. It costs a fortune to tow it, you have no spare. You are fucking livid. GODDAMN CHEVYS! I WAS TOLD THEY WERE GOOD CARS!!!!!!!

And you know, the guy who told you that, thought they were. Chevys had always been good to him. Not a one had given him trouble, he went coast-to-coast in one and had a blast. Alriiiiite! Took my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry...

New Chevy hater: Don't sing that fucking song around me!

Yes, I just compared God to cars. As Aldous Huxley famously said, Ford's in his Flivver and all is right with the world. It is an excellent analogy. Things do not work the same for everyone. They just don't, and no, I don't know why. (I am currently studying Buddhism, trying to figure out that part.) But why would we expect religion to fit everyone, if we can't even agree on which songs are good, which food is good, if a Ford or Chevy is best? Those are easy. Now, you bring in GOD? And we wonder why we disagree?

Apostate's Chevy might have broken down anyway--maybe her parents had (as I suspect) already driven the damn Chevy into the ground by the time she got it. But my Chevy works well, always has, still is.

Am I an idiot because I got a good Chevy?

You can see how this argument might make very devout Christians (and devout Muslims and any other devout fundamentalist of any type) very upset. They do not want you to suggest that religious truth is not an objective truth, THE truth. They claim they have the truth. And I answer: if it was, it would be self-evident. And it is not.

That is to say, we mostly agree on, say, the color green. We don't know why we do... but if I say, check the green box, most people will.

If I say check the most Godly box? I create chaos immediately.

Religion is therefore in the category of art, music, beauty, love, aesthetics. It is opinion, something experienced, an acquired taste, or maybe something someone has been starved for. Or something someone is very angry with, as in the angry Chevy-buyer. They were promised something, and it didn't deliver. Or it was delivered, rather like Apostate's sedan delivery, by wrecking her whole house with it. (Certainly, that's no way to make a good first-impression.)

The anti-religious people declare religion irrational. Music, art, love and sexual desire also are quite irrational, but they don't seem to want to ban those. And yeah, when I say that, the religious people can get as livid as the atheists. (Often the self-described agnostics are the only folks who stay with me during this discussion, nodding the whole way, agreeing that comparing religion to music makes sense.)

And few people turn against religion as thoroughly and furiously as ex-fundies. I can spot them in a line-up. Know why? Like Apostate, they sound the same. They have exchanged one form of intolerance for another. While they were subscribing to fundamentalism, it was the sinners and infidels and devils and so on, who were bad. After the backslide? You are stupid, ridiculous, sky-fairy believer, idiot, moron. (Apostate called me stupid also.) What gets me is IT'S THE SAME PEOPLE. The religious people who curse me for not being strict enough, fall away from the Church, the Mosque, wherever, and pivot perfectly into the ones who trash me for stupidity as a believer. I am sure when Apostate was a proper, strictly devout Muslim, she would have hated me just as much as she does now. She just uses different words now.

They are the same people. I can't tell them apart without a scorecard. The approach is identical: intolerant, judgmental, finger-pointing, merciless, hateful. If you don't see things their way, you are a fool. Period. I often forget who I am arguing with, and have to stop--wait, is this the atheist or the fundie?

I usually can only tell them apart because the fundies won't say "fuck"--and the atheists will.

There are feminist enclaves literally everywhere. Even in the strictest, most dangerous places on earth for women--there are women strategizing for freedom and access. What bothers me is how they are walled off from each other.

Often, this is because the women hate each other. Their countries are at war with each other; possibly their religions have historically been enemies. But they will not come together for their own rights, there is too much bad blood.

In every religious women's community, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Sikh, etc etc... there are feminists. EVERY SINGLE ONE. And they struggle alone, often, because non-religious feminists don't regard them as "real feminists" although these same non-religious feminists live under male governments, work for male companies, vote for males, sleep with males, give birth to males, take money from male daddies and love male brothers, sons, friends, etc... they say religion is unfeminist because men run it. (I know, makes no sense, go figure.) So religious feminists try to get it done within their own faith communities. But in the process, they are not interacting with the larger feminist community, from whom they feel estranged. As a result, they don't learn all the lingo, the habits, the culture of feminism. They are thus easily shocked when they first meet feminist libertines or political radicals. It is my contention that if they were allowed in the coalition, if their presence became commonplace and unchallenged, they would get used to it, as we all get used to everything.

I assume such women, emissaries from their various communities, would be largely like me, pretty tolerant, or older and jaded from having seen a lot already (particularly if they are ordained ministers or professionals). But I can still remember back in the 70s, when Carter Heyward was on the cover of Ms, and all hell broke lose, as atheist and agnostic feminists complained. And I am there saying, wait, doncha know, this is CARTER HEYWARD!!!!

Without stopping to ask who this groundbreaking feminist even IS, just the knowledge that she was a priest, was enough to inflame the atheist rabble. It's the IDEA, you see, that women would put FAITH IN RELIGION (instead of, you know, say, money or the government) and RELIGION OPPRESSES WOMEN. PERIOD.

Money and government, of course, have never oppressed women.

(((sighs heavily)))

And so, the impasse. The small religious feminist communities labor onward, but they are struggling by themselves. They need the authority and influence of the larger feminism, which is too uncomfortable with religion. And the religious women are often too naive and provincial for the larger feminism as well. The problems feed each other.

And I get banned from Apostate's blog, and called stupid.

Maybe I am, since I am ever hopeful we can all get together.

~*~

The Five of Wands, Strife. (from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck)


And in fairness, since I linked Mandy and Brittany's piece above, I suppose I should also link their subsequent apology for writing it, or for how they wrote it, or something. (I am curious if they deliberately chose Ash Wednesday, a day of penance, to apologize, or was that an accident? Great symbolism.)

Initially, I had no problems with the piece, until reading some of the criticisms, particularly Renee's, Sylvia's and Lauren's. I still think their hearts were in the right place, and that does count for something. I am not too fond of the term "token" which as I said on Renee's blog, used to denote something very specific, back in the day. A "token" was someone who shores up the status quo using their minority status; they lend legitimacy to a possibly-illegitimate enterprise. Nowadays, it seems "token" just means any minority-person in majority space, and that is not how I use the term, or how I grew up understanding and relating to it. I have recently been called a token myself, to my puzzlement; it basically meant I was the only _____ in a certain space. No one has ever accused me (and certainly, not Renee!) of perserving the status quo. Ha!

Thus, when first reading the word "token" I assumed this was the "new" meaning: a minority person in majority space. So, I did not criticize the word. However, I now see that the term "token" is meant differently by different people, and People of Color still adhere to the old usage that radicals have historically favored. It is white people who simply mean "a minority person in majority space"! Aha!

With this helpful delineation, I am enlightened. And I understand why minority people would bridle (as I have, in various settings) at this label. And why this piece caused so much strife throughout Feminist Blogdonia.

(NOTE: There were also additional issues over language used in the post, such as the use of an offensive term for transgendered people.)

On the other hand, I found the self-flagellation in the Official Apologia a bit much, even for Ash Wednesday. Is all of this really necessary? Well, maybe so.

In the fallout of the original incendiary discussion, Amber Rhea attempted some discussion of her (mixed-up and confused, which was the whole point) class background, and was flayed for it bigtime. I was shocked. (Do they expect everyone to emerge from their 20s talking like Leon Trotsky, or what?)

Perhaps Apostate has a point--why do we go after each other this way? What good does it do, exactly?

Heart, whom I have had major issues with (as regular readers know), thinks it's the invasion of The Man. I admit, I really go for that 70s talk, and she is all over it:

Regardless the movement, the Man can be depended upon to approach movement people who are the most marketable, the least experienced and therefore the most trusting (and grateful) and the least risky, people he knows will make honest, exploitable, mistakes, and who are already leaders with manipulatable followers. He’s not all that concerned about what the people he chooses actually believe or the quality of their activism; he just wants to make a buck where a buck is to be made. Movement people are virtually always naive about these things, and their leaders often have big heads. They frequently readily believe what their followers have said to and about them and are too quick to believe their own press. They imagine they have been discovered and chosen because of their unusual skills or gifts or something like that, because the Man is impressed by their ideals, dedication and vision, when usually, it’s more that they are marketable, naive and exploitable. They are young, they are pretty or handsome, they are white, they are middle class, they have the right kind of education, they say the right kinds of things in the right kinds of ways and so do their followers, and so, people will buy. That’s all that matters to the Man.

Once the Man gets in, all hell is guaranteed to break loose. Movement people will now fight, not in the productive ways of the past but in the destructive ways that always follow in the Man’s wake. They’ll fight over who was chosen, who wasn’t chosen, why the chosen were chosen and the not-chosen weren’t. They’ll fight over the fact that some who were hardworking weren’t recognized and some who weren’t so hardworking were. They’ll fight over the way the chosen behave, what they do once they have all of that attention, and what they don’t do. They’ll fight over who did and didn’t get the credit for this or that, who stole this and who stole that. The chosen will find themselves — always, guaranteed — in a downward spiral of compromise, because you have to compromise to deal with the Man. The compromises the chosen make will become fodder for ever-worsening, ever-deepening and -intensifying intra-movement conflicts, more blaming, more resentments, increased finger-pointing, increased vigilance. New people who join the movement unaware of the history will defend the wrong people, accuse the wrong people and will get gobbled up by the Man themselves. They won’t understand the hostility they then face from other movement people; after all, they’re not doing anything differently from what others have (apparently) done. And their confusion will be eminently understandable. In the end, everybody will be drinking from the same poisoned well, and everybody will be sick from drinking there.
On this Ash Wednesday, let me say dramatically: SHE IS RIGHT.

Yes, you read it correctly, I just admitted HEART IS RIGHT.

I am reminded of a bunch of girls in high school, clamoring for a place on the cheerleading squad.

Can we please STOP?! Heart thinks it's too late, the thief has entered (nods to Heart, with my Bible reference there)...and I wonder, is she also right about what this means: The End of Feminist Blogging (the title of her post)? Is it already too late? Can we turn this shit around, or will we have eaten each other alive first?

I have criticized the denizens of Feminist Blogdonia as much as the next feminist blogger, and probably will continue whenever I think there have been damaging excesses. But the wholesale evisceration that is more suitable for a radio edition of FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, needs to stop. Going onto a blog where someone is, for example, attempting to clarify their own class consciousness and telling them what they OUGHT TO BE DOING, is not going to help us reach any feminist goals, but will instead cause more women to withdraw from feminism in fear that they cannot possibly measure up.

Time for the Act of Contrition--I have confessed, now it's everyone else's turn.

~*~

My official Dead Air Ash Wednesday hymn, Saving Grace by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, was removed from last year's post, you may have noticed. Warner Music Group (or similar capitalist greedhead swine) strikes again! I found the song performed live, but can't embed it here. Blah. My second choice, Redemption Song by Bob Marley, also has embedding disabled. WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND HERE?!?!? Harumph.

Looking for alternate hymns, I figure yall might like at least ONE of these.

Letter to Hermione - David Bowie



No offense to my beloved Bob, but as we all know, it's often umm, better to find his fabulous songs sung by someone else!

I found this really nice version of "I Shall be Released" by Chrissie Hynde at something called the "30th Anniversary Bob Dylan Concert"--no other details of where the performance was.

I Shall Be Released - Chrissie Hynde



And more Bob! I've been looking for this one forever--it probably won't last out Lent! Better listen now!

"For every hung-up person in the whole wide universe..."

Chimes of Freedom - The Byrds



*NSFW* MAY TRIGGER* ETC*

I defy you to listen to all 10 minutes. It's actually edited down from the original 11 minutes, believe it or not.

I have a tattoo inspired by the line "I'm not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve" at 4:39. (As a result, I do wear my heart on my sleeve.)

Some people got no choice
When they can never find a voice
to talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
They follow it
Know what that's called?
Bad luck.


Street Hassle - Lou Reed



Happy Ash Wednesday to you all!

36 comments:

Ilyka said...

Aw Daisy, I wish I didn't have to clock in right now so I could finish reading this! But just quick-like:

It makes me feel better than I would feel otherwise.

THAT. And I'm through caring if someone wants to puff themselves up over it and drone on about the opiate of the masses and emotional crutches and so on. Let 'em. It's no skin off my ass, it appears to give them pleasure to do it, and it doesn't make the above any less true for me.

Will return to this later. Thanks, Daisy, you rock.

Amber Rhea said...

Great thought-provoking post.

Apostate certainly DOES have a point with this:

Perhaps Apostate has a point--why do we go after each other this way? What good does it do, exactly?

I've grown very weary of it. This latest go-round just solidified that feeling for me. If bloggers cannot feel reasonably safe talking about their own background (and all the weird, confusing, contradictory things that make it what it is) on their own blog, then... what? I feel disheartened because I guess I had assumed that more people in the blogosphere understood that people's life stories are not linear narratives; they are multi-layered and filled with contradictions and things we can't always explain. Surely everyone should understand this because everyone has *experienced* it to a degree?

As for Apostate, I'm very hesitant to be critical of her supposed anti-Muslim language. I got the impression that a lot of people who don't know shit about her background were just jumping on "offensive" words, with no context. With her background and experience in the Muslim world? Yeah, I'd say she's got the "cred" necessary to say she hates Muslims. And if people want to understand that as some larger political statement, well, I think that's a lot of projecting and looking for something that's not there. Sometimes, when we talk about our lives, we really are just talking about *our lives*.

As for my blog and the recent posts there that led to so much hub-bub - I think some of this stuff stems from what I was saying on Octo's post about bloggers being capitalists. There are now so many different ways in which people position and manage their blogs, that you end up comparing apples and oranges half the time. I do have some sympathy in this regard - it may be difficult for someone who is positions their blog as an activism tool to understand that the purpose of *my* blog is for me to have somewhere to write about whatever's on my mind, especially my life experiences. But on the other hand, I feel like, this is similar to when male commenters swoop into a feminist blog to tell everyone how wrong they are - you just don't do that. You don't come crashing through like a bull in a china shop into an established community where you haven't bothered to learn anything about the history, style, expectations, etc. of the place.

And what really unnerves me about it? I don't think anything I could have written about my life experiences would have satisfied some of the commenters; I think it offended them that I spoke about my life *at all*. And that is the kind of shit I have no time for. It's all too familiar.

Also I feel that it's possible some will read this and take it as hypocritical, after I criticized your post about WAM. I see that as different, though. That post was about something external and specific. And if there was humor there it did indeed go right over my head. I hope it was clear, in that case as in all similar cases, that my critique was of the substance of the argument, not the fact that it was made at all.

DaisyDeadhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DaisyDeadhead said...

Yeah, I'd say she's got the "cred" necessary to say she hates Muslims.

However, when she says "I hate all religious people"--which she clarified for me as the truth (see link)--then that includes me.

She says she hates ME and a billion plus other women (many feminists included), then fusses over feminists fighting.

Um, hello?

Also I feel that it's possible some will read this and take it as hypocritical, after I criticized your post about WAM. I see that as different, though.

At this stage of my life, I am simply unable to hold serious grudges, even when I try. I could say I'm in a state of grace or I could say I am just tired. Honestly, I think it's probably some combo of the two. ;)

Love ya, Amber, even when you criticize me, so don't worry about it.

Renee said...

Daisy thanks for letting me know about this post. I could not let Apostates comments go and because I refuse to engage with her on her turf, I took it to my own blog. I find her to be regularly callous and ignorant. If you want your feelings to be respected you need to respect the feelings of others. That said I have long since stopped reading her blog and only comment directly on what she has to say when I run across her in the blogosphere.

I will say that I didn't acknowledge that she had a point when she spoke about the ways in which we attack each other. It really is truly counter productive and truth be told I am so sick of blog wars. What do they really solve? We get into our separate camps pitch our mutual fits and nothing changes. I am further sick of the emotionalism that is supposed to stand as a critique or an argument. Its BS plain and simple. To me a lot of this feels like being in high school again and I am so passed that. I am tired of having to justify every single action.

Re the false apology on the Prof What If Post, it made me ill. That wasn't self fallgellation that was justifying what they did wrong. An apology is a very simple thing to make. You say I fucked up and I am so sorry to those whose feelings were hurt. It need not be more than that. Instead they spend the majority of their posts trying to once again rationalize their behavior. Can I get the bandwidth back that I wasted reading that nonsense? It was more of it's all about me.

Mama Moretti said...

Daisy! you need to add *nsfw* to that david Bowie song, unless people are okay with //blubbering// at work.

(it's really beautiful)

Lisa Harney said...

No, Heart's wrong.

Heart's not talking about women attacking each other. She's talking about women criticizing or critiquing her brand of radical feminism. She always uses all women as a proxy for her politics.

Also, she doesn't consider all women to be women - to her, trans women are still fair game for cis women to attack.

Her post is full of these dog whistles.

Ravenmn said...

I pretty much try to avoid Apostate's interventions in these discussions. She has taken entire populations of the world and dismissed them out of hand. Which is mathematically suspicious. There's got to be at least one of two individuals of any particular religion who are awesome people. Very likely more than one of two. Why limit oneself so?

OK, that is not true. Hating ALL Muslims is hate speech, pure and simple. Just as hating all Jews, all Christians, all atheists is. You don't get a pass at hate speech just because you used to believe in the religion and now you don't. I don't understand the people here who accept that false logic.

You are encountering a lot of anti-religious beliefs within feminism. I may be blind to it by my non-religious upbringing. I have not encountered this kind of bias.

One reason may be the enduring presence of kick-ass nuns within our local antiwar movement. There's a pretty good documentary made about one family of nuns, the McDonald Sisters, called "Four Sisters for Peace" that you can read about here: http://www.thecie.org/sisters/. They are members of the Sisters of St. Joseph de Carondelet and are active in the anti-war movement, the welfare rights movement, the feminist movement and the prison rights movement. I have learned a lot about the strength of women and the fight for women's rights from these amazing individuals.

I hope you encounter more women like them and less like Apostate in the future. There is no reason why you should have to defend your religious beliefs to anyone and I hope you aren't feeling pressure to do so.

Corey said...

Great post! I can really identify with it, as I am very much involved with a small, religious feminist community. I attend Circle of Grace Community Church, which is a feminist, Christian congregation and is the only one in all of the United States. That amazes me. So many people do not think that Christianity is compatible with feminism, but those people who think that way usually were fundamental Christians in the past and even though they do not believe in my faith, they claim to know everything about it and they do not hesitate in telling me how wrong I am. That pisses me off. I don't care if you used to consider yourself Christian, if you do not right now, then you have no right to tell me I'm wrong. Religious experiences vary so widely that that I severly doubt that "your" experience was/is just like mine.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Lisa, since you've been ignoring my emails, I am surprised to see you here. ((waves))

And I know all about Heart's bigotry and have written about it several times, right here on this blog. However, in this particular post, she was careful to say that she was making a comparison with other political movements: I’ve been here with the anti-war movement, the peace movement, the back-to-the-land/homesteading movement, the intentional community movement, the home birth movement, the natural childbirth movement, the homeschooling/unschooling movement, the simple living movement, the battered women’s movement and a few other movements.

And I have to say, as a veteran of a couple of those, I've been there, too. She has a point. This buying-off of radicals to work for The Man, does indeed happen. I've seen it many times, also. Wasn't that whole phenomenon one of the catalysts for the discussion at Professor What If's?

Where are these "dog whistles" in the post in question? I realize
Heart is fully capable of that, but she pretty much stayed on topic this time, and described something I have seen occur over and over. In fact, it happens in the trans movement too, doesn't it? Jennifer Finney Boylan is exactly the kind of person Heart is talking about. And she gets nominated-and-approved to speak for everyone in the movement: white, educated, professional, upper-class, attractive. She gets the book deals, the TV shows, and all the rest of it.

I do NOT agree with everything Heart is about, as you know. But when someone hits the nail on the head, I usually say so. I'd be a fraud otherwise.

Lisa Harney said...

I haven't been ignoring e-mails - I haven't seen any.

Regarding Heart and her assertion that women need to stop "attacking each other," my only possible response to her could ever be:

"You first."

That's where she's wrong. She tries to position herself as the voice of all women, and is angry when she receives pushback. I find it hard to take her commentary about how The Man is turning woman against woman when Heart's own brand of feminism is so deeply invested in slut-shaming and outright denying the womanhood of those who disagree with them. How can I take her analysis at face value when everything she says and does serves her personal agenda of coopting and colonizing all forms of womanhood, of claiming the right to define who is and who is not a woman? To speak for women who are not white, cissexual, heterosexual, middle-class in every way possible?

And her talk about women attacking each other is a dog whistle, and one she's used before to dismiss criticisms leveled at her in the past. When she's not allowing her commenters to stand in proxy for her and accusing "dissenters" of really being men, possibly rapists (or doing it herself in at least one case) she's universalizing womanhood from her own experiences.

The other dog whistles are about how she has to take her unpopular talk to private forums, on telephones, into print. This is the stuff she gets called on, that she doesn't feel "safe" posting on the internet because people point out her racism and transphobia, among other things. Those private forums and telephone calls are not where she talks about the revolution. They're where she feels safe to express the worst of what she used to express to the blogosphere at large.

Jenny said...

Ironically, Apostate is actually married to a man! Otherwise, that comment's pretty damn cold.

Trinity said...

Epic post is epic.

And you're right on. I left atheist communities because, after a while, I got sick of the "everyone but me is irrational!"

Then I started studying religion again, wondering what meaning it might have for me. I found some, though I guess I remain an "atheist" in the sense it's used in philosophy debates: I am not at all convinced the gods are not something we invented. I don't expect to meet any when I die, though it might be nice.

But I do think spiritual experiences are a rich part of many human lives, and I do think that they are fundamentally about the questions we can't answer and the experiences we can't explain. Why does our soul soar seeing the sky sometimes? Why do we love?

Why when someone dies do we feel them with us, sometimes? Why is that feeling so vivid?

I don't know, and I don't *think* it's because there's a Heaven. But it seems to be part of being human, and I don't see the sense in not letting it be.

I don't agree with Heart that it's "The Man" gaining entry into feministland and polluting it. I think it's fundamentalist thinking of its own, and I don't think that necessarily stems from men. Feminist theory ossified in some creepy ways in the '80s... and it's people who are in love with that ossification, that "this theory explains the whole world," who bring the crumbling with them.

I think.

Meowser said...

Going onto a blog where someone is, for example, attempting to clarify their own class consciousness and telling them what they OUGHT TO BE DOING, is not going to help us reach any feminist goals, but will instead cause more women to withdraw from feminism in fear that they cannot possibly measure up.

No freakin' poopie, woman. I've almost quit blogging myself a number of times for this very reason. I'm rather flabbergasted that so many women who claim to be passionately in favor of women's equality don't know that most of us (still) have pretty shaky self-esteem, that we're not all these fierce, badass broads who, but for a few moments of self-doubt, think the world of ourselves and think everyone should just shut up and listen to all the great things we have to say. If we do have more than momentary, fleeting problems with self-esteem, we're just told to buck up and get over it, like we all have equal resources when it comes to self-image building. Hah.

What's really screwed up for me is that the main thing that makes me different from most women -- being aspie -- is the very thing that prevents me from being the Ace of the Social Fabric that even feminists expect other women to be. Like you say, the prevailing attitude is, "Those who know, know," and it doesn't matter how many "privilege lists" I read, it's not going to make me any more socially adept; being good at "line carrying," as you call it, much of the time doesn't really give me much clue in what I'm supposed to say or do in a specific situation.

I do need things spelled out and defined for me, and for people to be specific about what they want from me, a lot more than most people do. And it drives me bananas that this is called "managing my privilege," as if the very thing that makes me most different, the very thing I can do precisely squat about even though I've tried and tried and tried for DECADES, wasn't also the very thing that's guaranteed that I fit in and belong exactly nowhere. I may be a little less on the periphery in some circles than others, but peripheral I am, always.

Know how often I meet a fellow aspie/autie woman in real life? Almost never. And I'm sure it's not because they don't exist. In many cases, it's because they've been humiliated and kicked in the teeth so many times trying to read people, even people they think are their friends, and have gotten it so desperately wrong so much of the time, that they're hiding. They can't take yet another blow to their self-esteem, which they assume from past experience is pretty much inevitable. I can understand that, believe me. But hey, I'm a glutton for punishment, I keep trying.

polerin said...

Ok wow. I got halfway through and realized that this was a Daisy epic, and that I had better save it for tomorrow morning and my second cup of coffee.

That being said I do have one comment, re a section of the post:
Well, duh. The Buckeyes will kick Wolverine ass

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best!

(couldn't resist. We used to sing it every time we crossed into Michigan to see my grandparents. Good memories :D )

petpluto said...

"If one is a rational atheist, you should be able to admit I am right."

Well, I'm rational, and an atheist, but I don't think I fall under the umbrella of rational atheism (I'm more of a philosophical/lyrical/emotional one myself); however, I fully support why you're religious, because many of those reasons are why I'm an atheist - with obvious exceptions. John Lennon had it right when he sang, "Whatever gets you through the night s'all right".

There are two things, though, that bother me here about the atheist question (not the post in general, which is wonderful) and those are the treatment of atheists as a monolithic block when atheists have their own version of evangelicals along with the more accepting and liberal of the faithful; and what I think of as a sort of fundamental misunderstanding of why atheists care:

"BECAUSE, the atheists intone, RELIGION CLAIMS TO BE TRUE."

The issue for some atheists isn't really analogous to someone liking sports when you don't or is reading a book that you have no interest in. Instead, it would be like someone rooting for a team playing your team, or reading a book you have a strong antipathy for. The atheists who care deeply care for one of two reasons: either they are religiously atheist (a contradiction of terms, I know) and think anything not in alignment with their beliefs are an assault to those beliefs because they know The One True Way.

And then there are the other ones, who probably wouldn't be bothered as much if the religious version of what is 'true' wasn't constantly being pushed upon them as the truth, and whose right to not be offended greatly impedes their right to their own thought. This is the group who are tired of being treated like a malignant minority, and so become militantly atheist not because they necessarily believe that the other side should be squashed but because they have just become so very angry about their own marginalization and think the only way to get some breathing room would be to push back and hard against what they perceive to be the other side.

And then you've got atheists like me, who really just don't care and who live in our own little worlds until someone tries to convert us.

Should those first two groups cool off and just be 'live and let live about it'? I think so. But then, I also feel for them, because that is what some of the religious folk do - even when they don't mean to.

This isn't meant to school you or anything, but to articulate why the hairs on the back of my neck stood up when reading certain sections about the atheists. Because we as a society can differentiate between fundamentalist religious people and the others, but the atheists are still a monolithic body - and I don't like it or agree with it, and the more people write about 'the atheists' when they mean certain segments of an admittedly small population, I and my cohorts get lost in the shuffle.

Otherwise, I loved the piece, and I even agree with some parts about "the atheists"!

DaisyDeadhead said...

Lisa, do you still have the same email address? (on gmail?)

Lisa: The other dog whistles are about how she has to take her unpopular talk to private forums, on telephones, into print. This is the stuff she gets called on, that she doesn't feel "safe" posting on the internet because people point out her racism and transphobia, among other things.

Okay, this part is pretty good. Admittedly, I did not catch this part. (I am used to her trashing other feminist blogs, of course.)

I'd PREFER Heart keep her shit private, actually.

Trinity, I loved your post!: I think it's fundamentalist thinking of its own, and I don't think that necessarily stems from men.

I agree completely! Fundamentalism comes in all forms. That's a good way to put it, also.

Meowser, I have never met a woman with Asperger's, that I know of. I hadn't thought about that until now, so you have opened my mind today. (I guess I thought that was because it is a "majority are guys" thing.)

Raven, Corey and Petpluto--awesome posts... yall making me think this morning. ((coffee guzzling also helps of course)) Petpluto, I was thinking of that segment of the atheist population that so strongly identifies with Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. I was also specifically thinking of PZ Myers, with whom I once had a particularly heated email exchange, after getting called named on Pharyngula, which he thought were deserved simply because I showed up. (Obviously, if you are a believer, you ARE a moron, it's not name-calling!)

Unlike many Christians, I totally agree that atheists are a persecuted minority, harassed, etc. I figured a lot of that out in the last presidential season, during the Rick Warren follies!

I think using religion in politics is utterly shameful.

PS: Polerin, I am surprised my blog didn't blow up, you singing that thing here! :P

La Lubu said...

Fabulous post, Daisy. Thanks for this line:
The anti-religious people declare religion irrational. Music, art, love and sexual desire also are quite irrational, but they don't seem to want to ban those.

That. Exactly. And actually, I read a book by a neurologist that explained how certain forms of brain damage that take away a person's access to "irrational" thinking, make it impossible to correctly formulate rational decisions! Our brains rely on a certain irrationality as almost a type of shorthand for rational decision-making (the neurologist explained it much better). For me, spirituality is experiential; I think your comparison to love, sex, art and music is quite apt.

And you have great taste in music. What'd you have for dinner Ash Wednesday? We had eggplant and pasta over here. I'm thinking about butternut squash risotto for Friday. (Lent always makes me hungry, right when I'm not supposed to be thinking about food. Funny how that works, no? It's like an exaggerated perception of what is missing...)

Bryce said...

fantastic bowie song, D.

mikeb302000 said...

That could be a Master's thesis. You are something else, Daisy. Thanks.

You helped me clarify an idea I've been toying with. I think one or two of the pro-gun guys I keep arguing with on my blog are trying to get 86ed. I said I wouldn't do that but they've been asking for it. This idea will help me maintain my own cool and not stoop to their level.

Dori said...

Daisy,

This is glorious. I am someone who was raised in an agnostic household, being exposed to religious traditions of either side of the family for their cultural value only, and my spouse was raised in a home where zie had religion forced on hir in a way that was incredibly damaging and painful for hir. I have discovered a certain amount of spirituality in my life which has no real structure, doctrine or deity. The easiest way to describe it is like being in love with all that is and even that doesn't quite cover it. My spouse, on the other hand, is one of those atheists who dismiss and demean religious people as "deluded." I have gotten hir to admit that zie feels this way because of lingering anger at how religious people treated hir when zie did try to believe, and because zie wants to be able to believe in something like that and be happy, but because of hir reaction to hir upbringing, zie can't.

I think I might try to get hir to read this, show hir your arguments in regards to "irrationality." It may help hir heal a bit.

I also wanted to thank you for articulating some of these concerns about religion and religious feminists feeling and being rejected by some aspects and people in the movement. Even as someone who can't seem to make organized religion work for her, I understand how important it is to people. I work with Muslim feminists and have come very close to converting to Islam myself. I also work with feminists in the Middle East, and people like Apostate would love to paint not only them, but me as morons who don't know our own minds. I disagree with Amber. Just because she was Muslim and had bad experiences does not justify being hateful and prejudiced against this group of people especially when she has shown complete willingness to be this hateful to more than just religious people. She doesn't mind marginalizing everyone except herself and those she deems "enlightened" and that is simply not progressive in any way. That is a reversal of power structures. I find Apostate and people like her as helpful to the feminist movement as the WBC is to Christianity.

Amber Rhea said...

I disagree with Amber. Just because she was Muslim and had bad experiences does not justify being hateful and prejudiced against this group of people especially when she has shown complete willingness to be this hateful to more than just religious people.

I guess I am more lenient or forgiving because I've been there myself. Not with Islam. But, I've been there as far as having experienced abuse and persecution from certain people who identify a certain way - and my reaction was to hate all people who identify that way. No amount of rational talk about how "they're not all like that" would have helped, either - it would have only made me angrier and more resolute. It was a process I had to go through on my own. I have said some hateful potentially hurtful things in the past and I am truly grateful for my close friends who knew me well enough and understand where I was at to just listen, not judge, not take things personally or extrapolate what I was saying as "hate speech," and let me go through the healing process and come out the other side.

I also know that this very comment, if it were directed at or about me, would come off as condescending to me if I were still in that place. I can't presume to know if Apostate is at a particular place in a "journey" so to speak, and I do not wish to project my own experiences onto someone else. But I always have deep sympathy and compassion - I just can't help it, it's how I am - and I can't castigate her outright, because on some level, I can relate. And I know that castigation was exactly the opposite of what helped me heal and grow.

sheila said...

Good GOD woman! I missed my whole soap opera readng this! lol. (only kidding, it didn't start yet)

As for the Apostate comments. I'm thinking that not a lot of people said anything or much was because she spouted off like a nut. Maybe that's how people saw it.?? I dunno.

As for the truth? Funny how it's constantly changing. And funny how we can all see the same things, yet all have different truths about what we see. It's beautiful, isn't it?

Dori said...

@Amber-

I do appreciate your perspective on that, and I applaud your compassion for her. I can't bring myself to have that same level of compassion and that is my failing. I'm simply at a very different place, with a very different perspective. I do have a few friends who have expressed similar feelings of hatred for religious groups of a specific stripe, and for the most part I have been able to keep things civil and worked with them to untangle the "why" of how they got there. I was able to do that because we were friends before I found out about how they felt.

With this specific person, i can't seem to find that same level of compassion because all I can see of her is hateful and judgmental. I personally think that we can have whatever perspective we want, but we need to keep a certain level of civility or there will be no discussion. She has not just crossed that line, she has danced right over it.

Kristin said...

I did not say much because I don't know anyone who takes Apostate seriously as a blogger/writer. I don't read her, and I wasn't about to furnish her with more attention.

Meowser said...

Glad to help, Daisy!

Although I have to admit, my own asp-dar is more the "inverse" kind -- i.e. it's easier for me to tell who definitely is not aspie than who definitely is. Sometimes it takes me a little longer talking to a woman over 30 who is aspie to suss that out; as the Asperger's diagnosis didn't exist until about 15 years ago, and girls are under relentless pressure to appear neurotypical (much more so than boys), a lot of us have learned to "pass" when people first meet us or observe us casually for a few moments, although the longer people know us, the more likely it is that they will find out the truth.

It's actually a big reason I was diagnosed so late; I learned to pass for short periods of time all too well, and until I found my present therapist, no mental health professional I saw (and I saw LOTS of them) could detect an undiagnosed middle-aged aspie woman who was masking. I was actually shocked when she diagnosed me, but it didn't take me long before I realized she was right.

Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying it's possible you have met an aspie woman and didn't know it. It's possible I did too, before I knew what to look for.

Ravenmn said...

Amber wrote: "I have said some hateful potentially hurtful things in the past and I am truly grateful for my close friends who knew me well enough and understand where I was at to just listen, not judge, not take things personally or extrapolate what I was saying as "hate speech," and let me go through the healing process and come out the other side."

There is no extrapolation involved in naming "I hate Muslims" as hate speech. Why should anyone assume an adult woman of reasonable intelligence is unaware of the meaning of the word "hate"?

Amber again: "I've been there as far as having experienced abuse and persecution from certain people who identify a certain way - and my reaction was to hate all people who identify that way. No amount of rational talk about how "they're not all like that" would have helped, either - it would have only made me angrier and more resolute."

Oh, I agree. If someone I know has become stuck in thoughts of irrational hate, I'm not interested in wasting my time or effort in talking hir out of it.

However, when hate speech is used in public, at community meetings, on message boards and on blog posts, it MUST be confronted by people of good conscience.

Check out the recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/news/item.jsp?aid=366

Hate Group Numbers Up By 54% Since 2000

The number of hate groups operating in the United States continued to rise in 2008 and has grown by 54 percent since 2000 — an increase fueled last year by immigration fears, a failing economy and the successful campaign of Barack Obama, according to the "Year in Hate" issue of the SPLC's Intelligence Report released today.

The SPLC identified 926 hate groups active in 2008, up more than 4 percent from the 888 groups in 2007 and far above the 602 groups documented in 2000.

John Powers said...

Great post.

When I first read it last night I was struggling trying to write something regarding a friend who is writing a proposal to do a presentation on Buddhist economics at the Council for a Parliament of World Religions. It wasn't coming together very well. I mention it because I was thinking about religion and what you wrote: "Religion is therefore in the category of art, music, beauty, love, aesthetics. It is *opinion*" stood out.

Tonight I clicked through the links and more fully read what you are saying here--it's a lot!

In some ways Feminist blogs reflect Feminism as a discipline not unlike computer science or chemical engineering. You can't out of ordinary experience start coding computer applications or engineer a chemical process. For people deeply immersed in in Feminism as a discipline likewise there's a body of knowledge a person doesn't grasp without a great deal of effort.

What's different from computer science and engineering, is women's experience is lived. So it doesn't take a very long time being immersed in the discipline for women to have something important to say about Feminism. Some of the arguments are like academic arguments.

Some of the ferocity of the argument involves people deeply immersed in the rigors of the discipline. And sometimes these veer off like the early days of newsgroups and newbies.

I think art, music, beauty, love, aesthetics and religion are very significant. They all also can be discussed with the rigor of an academic discipline. Talking across disciplines is often very hard, but there are clear potential advantages. Alas, the difficulty of interdisciplinary collaboration makes it rare.

I know that you are immersed in religion as a discipline. That immersion of course is part of your religious experience, but might be teased out from the deeply personal. With the study at least part of the effort is to understand what we might generally know about religious faiths.

No question that PZ Meyers is deeply immersed in his discipline, that is he is accustomed to thinking in rigorous ways about it. It's likely he imagines he knows a lot about religion; or at least thinks he knows enough to think it bunk. But it's also likely he has only a shallow immersion into the study of religion.

It gets rather interesting when biologist start trying to ply their trade in anthropology, sociology, psychology from a "Darwinian" perspective. Very often they fail to appreciate that scholars deeply immersed in anthropology, psychology, sociology, etc. have something interesting to say. The results often appear to me blundering. Applying evolution to say culture, is quite a different kettle of fish than an organism!

The problem I see with your question to atheists; i.e. it's opinion, is that it leads to the retort: "Well, my opinion is religion is bunk!" Of course civil people can agree to disagree, but often people can't bother to be civil. In any case mutual understanding is truncated.

I'm sure that your faith is fun. But I suspect that you also think that religion has something important to contribute to knowledge in general.

I don't exactly identify as an atheist, but in casual conversation I do say that I don't believe in God. It's just the most compact and easily understood way of saying what is near-enough the case. Still I think that religion has much to add to knowledge. Careful thinking about religious ideas for example could offer the project of understanding people from an evolutionary perspective quite a lot. In fact, even just considering the scientific habit of separating mind and nature seems essential for the advancement of science.

Your answer to atheist is okay as far as it goes. I don't think it goes far enough to really engage a willing atheist in a discussion of religion. And I think there's a glibness to it that for people deeply immersed in one discipline or another, will tend to fail to imagine the depth of your erudition about the subject.

Sorry to prattle on Daisy. I loved the post.

jovan b. said...

I hate the Warner Music Group as well, Daisy. I also hate Major League Baseball for the same reason. They both blatantly abuse the DMCA law. Someone should do something about it.

As for your post, it is truly epic and the truth.

Politicalguineapig said...

Hey, RavenMN- I met one of the McDonalds. That said, like you, I wasn't raised in a religious household, so I have an odd perspective on it.
I think religion tends to be misused a lot. I have always thought that I would like to believe, but that would force me to give up my political beliefs, and everything that makes me-me. And if Falwell went to heaven, I ain't going.

DaisyDeadhead said...

I have always thought that I would like to believe, but that would force me to give up my political beliefs, and everything that makes me-me.

Why do you feel this way?

Ain't giving up a thing. God made me this way, after all. :)

Thanks to everyone for the touching comments.

Politicalguineapig said...

Daisy- because after a certain age, my only contact with religion was reading or hearing what "religious" people had to say in the nespapers or on T.V. Since these people were all fundamentalist Christians,that's how I defined religon. I am slowly coming around to the viewpoint that not all Christians are aggressive fundamentalists, but I still am uncomfortable with the whole religion thing

SnowdropExplodes said...

This is a great post!

petpluto: That's a really good explanation of different types of atheism. I made the mistake of thinking someone who identified as atheist was automatically one of the "religion-haters" and engaging them in verbal combat on those grounds; I eventually learned my mistake during the ensuing fracas.

I would even add that I think in terms of social/political ways some proponents of religion are still very much invested in seeing (their version of) religion being given an active role in political (and therefore law-making) areas of society, which is problematic, and atheists have a valid point to argue that in that sense it's not just that it's claimed religion is True, but that its Truth will be enforced upon everyone. The problem comes when those atheists claim that every religious person feels that way.

I think another question is that religious believers often want others to know about their faith, and (at least in Christianity) that's about wanting people to see what and how religion works in their lives, and hope that their example encourages others to join (e.g. "to accept Christ into their lives"). I sometimes feel that the simple act of declaring one's faith is seen by some atheists as an out-and-out attempt to convert them (or at least is seen as a threat to try to convert them).

I live in a country where most people are only nominally Christian (that is, if asked on a form that's what they put, but if you ask how often they go to church, they don't); so to have firm beliefs one way or the other on religion is automatically to be outside the norm. To make an overt declaration one way or another is challenging (and can be seen as a challenge by "the other side").

Dw3t-Hthr said...

My female Aspie friend had a hard time getting diagnosed at all because "girls don't have Asperger's" (also "girls don't have ADHD, and when they do, it doesn't look like boy-ADHD"). Hooray for sexism in medicine.

I find a lot of online discussions about religion kind of baffling, largely because most of them are conducted as if I don't exist. So I just sit there quietly existing and knowing - from experience - that the odds are that if I say anything I'll get ignored. I'm a polytheist, I don't really do "belief" in the first place, I think finding a religion is basically like falling in love and thus that expecting other people to follow mine is like expecting them to want to marry my husband ... I'm just too weird in conversations that are dominated by atheist vs. (usually conservative) Christian language.

Ah well, such is life in the World on a Slant.

Silent_Majority said...

I am a christian an I was not offended by your explanation. I find your description interesting to say the least. I have argued endlessly with athiest over nothing more than the right to believe what I believe. I would not seek to convert anyone who did not ask me for such help, nor do I appreciate having someone try and convert me. Live and let live. It should be no other way. That is not to say that I shy from a fight when I'm attacked but I do not go looking (well sometimes) for a fight.

Amber Rhea said...

I'm definitely in the live and let live camp, but just to echo what others have said on this thread, I think some Christians who are of that same camp maybe don't have an understanding of what non-Christians have often gone thru at the hands of Christians. Some of us have been downright persecuted for not believing the same way they do. It can get very violent and harmful.

It was a self-identified Christian who told me, "No wonder nobody likes you. You should just kill yourslf."

I went thru a phase where I generalized about all Christians, bc of my negative experiences w/ so many of them. I eventually got over that as I came to understand that not all Christians are like that (and met some who aren't). But it's often not just straight-up bigotry that makes non-Christians seem defensive; it's often an actual defense mechanism used to *protect oneself*.

It's not fair, of course, to the Christians who aren't out to persecute anyone, but that's the reality.