Monday, October 29, 2012

A DBAA Intermission featuring Duck Sex

The last couple of posts I wrote were a lot of fun but also rather frustrating.  Sure, it's cathartic to rail against the religious assholes of the world but there is also the depressing certainty that none of it matters.  Those guys are never going to stop.  They're certainly not going to change their minds because someone on the internet wrote a ranty open letter on his blog.  They are high and mighty and secure in their power and no amount of ranting and railing will change a damn thing.

So to cheer myself up I looked up some funny videos on Youtube.  One of them was my favourite awkward love song - it may be the sweetest and dirtiest thing ever - by comedy music duo Garfunkle & Oates.  That's when I found this video, which also happened to be be in response to something Pat Robertson said:

I loved it and it gave me hope.  Mark Driscoll, Pat Robertson and guys like them will probably always be assholes but that's no reason to throw in the towel.  This may be the perfect response to statements made by Pat and his ilk.  Laughing, mocking, pointing out how wrong they are and how stupid they sound is the way to go.  Firstly because they're making statements that are patently ridiculous and so calling them out and mocking them for it is totally called for.  But secondly, most importantly, it displays their powerlessness. 

These so called "men of God" often hide behind their titles, their office, their "anointing".  They expect respect because they claim to have a direct line to the Almighty.  Nothing disproves this better than mocking them.  You will not be struck dead on the spot, you won't get hit with a dread disease.  Take my word on this, you will not be devoured by bears for calling Pat Robertson an asshole on the internet.  They have nothing.  No magical anointing to strike you down, no Jesus magic to vex you with.  They don't have the ear of the Almighty nor do they have access to dread mystic powers of the Divine.  They may paint themselves as prophets cut from the same cloth as Moses and Elijah but they have nothing on those guys.

That's not to say they have no power at all.  They do have power, of course they do.  But this is power given to them - not by any deity, but by people like you and me.  They have the power of influence.  Whenever people take Mark Driscoll's sermons to heart, they give him power.  Whenever someone asks Pat Robertson for advice and they take it, they give him power.  They have power because we let them have power.  That's all they have.  If tomorrow everyone decides that these men are terrible human beings and not worthy of giving advice to anyone they will have no more power.  None.  They only have as much power as is given to them by those who take them seriously.

This is why mocking is good.  This is why ranting and railing and pointing out how very wrong they are is valuable.  Sure, it may not change much but it does change something.  It displays to the world - and all those who believe they have a direct line to God - that they are actually nothing to be scared of.  They talk a good game but they got nothing.  And who knows, maybe you can convince a former follower to rethink their loyalty.  Even if you influence only one person, that's one less person they can draw power from.  So do it!  Call them out!  Call them stupid, show how wrong they are.  Mock them, expose them, shout it from the rooftops!  If you undermine their influence you take their power.  Doesn't that sound like a worthy goal?  Let's starve these motherfuckers!

Friday, October 26, 2012

DBAA: to orphans

Dear Pat Robertson,

How much do you know about South Africa?  Did you know that we have 11 national languages?  It's true!  This country is home to so many languages and cultures and ethnic groups, it will make your head spin!  Now we all may differ on a lot of issues but there are also a whole lot of things we all agree on.  Respect for your elders is a pretty big one.  Some cultural groups here actually worship their ancestors so respect for the elderly is pretty much a religious duty.  In my culture it's not so much religious but it's pretty damn important.  In Afrikaner culture,  respect for our elders is a value that (for many in my generation at least) was quite literally beaten into us.  We treat elders with reverence and we address them in a respectful manner at all times.  This is a deep kind of programming I cannot get past.  Even when I'm sitting next to a really racist old person on the bus, I find myself unable to do anything but grit my teeth, force a smile and nod while I wait for them to leave.  Being polite and respectful to the elderly is pretty much in my DNA.

I mention all this so you can understand the full weight of what I'm about to say.  You are a terrible, horrible person.  You are such a horrible human being that my cultural programming doesn't even try to kick in when you're concerned.  You've been kind of an asshole for years now, giving terrible advice on a wide range of topics, but now you've completely crossed the line.  I'm referring to this:

You evil motherfucker!  You do realize you're on a Christian network right?  Was it too much to ask for you to even fake being a Christian for the duration of your show?  There is a name for people like you.  You're an antichrist.  Literally.  Jesus said to take care of the orphans and the outcasts and you are telling people to do the opposite.  Anti - Christ.  That's you.

Seriously?  "A man doesn't want to take care of the United Nations"?  "United Nations"? Is that racist old white guy code speak for "not white"?  Yeah, that's not fooling anyone.  "You don't have to take on somebody else's problem"?  Yeah that's the Gospel right there.  Not the Gospel of Jesus Christ obviously.  The Gospel according to Ayn Rand perhaps but not Jesus.  Oh, and you love orphans?  You love helping people?  Yeah sure!  All you ask is that they stay far away from you with their icky orphan hands and their weirdness.  Heaven forbid they get any dirt on your nice things!  You'll help them, they just need to stay far far away.  Yeah, that's not love.  Love means getting involved.  Love means getting dirty.  Love means partaking in the pain of others.  Your "love" for orphans is really just love for Pat Robertson and his clean, comfortable life.

And you know what?  If that's how you feel that's your choice.  No one was forcing you to take care of any broken people.  Not everyone is equipped to help and care for others.  Not everyone wants to.  But that's not the issue here.  The issue is that you're flat out commanding people not to care.  You, in your role as the Respected and Anointed Man of God Pat Robertson, is telling a woman who clearly has her heart and her home open to help those in need that she is wrong to help them and she is wrong to expect anyone else not to be a massive dick about it.  That is so fucking wrong I don't think there's a word to describe its wrongness!  Do you even listen to yourself?  You say that these children are being starved and abused and molested and your conclusion is that it is therefore better to leave them in such a living hell?  Really old man?  Better?  Better for who?  Sure as hell not for them!!

You are the worst, Pat Robertson.  The WORST!  I cannot and will not respect you.  Respect is earned and you have earned none of mine.  You're an asshole and if that wasn't bad enough, you're using your position to reshape others into your asshole image.  That needs to stop.  Be an asshole on your own time if you have to.  Don't try to rationalize and normalize your terrible personal views.  Don't pass it on to others.  Don't make assholes feel better about their behavior by telling them they're in the right and the people doing good things are actually in the wrong.  When you do that you are exponentially multiplying the evil in this world.  Stop. that. shit.  If you're not going to be a force for good, then at least try not to be a force for wickedness.  Don't be an asshole.  Asshole.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

DBAA: With your family legacy

Dear Franklin Graham,

You're not fooling anyone.  I know you think you are.  You think you're being oh so clever, using your famous dad to say your words like he's your own personal muppet.  Shame on you!  You're not being clever, you're being an asshole!

Seriously, did you not think anyone would notice?  When the Billy Graham who has been steering clear of politics for decades suddenly starts sending out statements full of Republican Party talking points, did you not think anyone would ask questions?  When suddenly everything your dad allegedly says starts sounds exactly like what you've been saying, did you not think anyone would put 2 and 2 together?  Come on!  First you pretend like he weighed in on Chick-Fil-A and now you're pretending like he took out the following full page ad:

"The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

Yeah right!  That wasn't your dad, that was all you!  Everyone knows it!  I bet you think that people look at these anti-gay, anti-woman statements and go "Well geez if Billy Graham - Protestant Pope - thinks so then I better change my vote!"  They don't.  I can link you to some blogs and facebook discussions if you'd like.  Mostly the reaction is just eye rolling and people saying "Great!  Franklin is at it again!  What a douche!"  Like I said, you ain't fooling no one.  This is all you and everyone knows it.

Now I realize that I could be wrong.  Maybe these are the words and thoughts of Billy Graham.  Maybe at 93, with advanced Parkinsons, your dad decided to become the Culture Warrior he never showed any interest in being before.  Maybe.  But I have my doubts.  See my grandpa is 94.  He doesn't have any serious illnesses like your dad and to this day his mind is like a diamond - clear and sharp.  But he's still 94 and 94 is old.  His eyesight is gone and his hearing isn't far behind.  He can still walk but it's clearly with great difficulty.  He may have some strong opinions but he's not involved in a whole lot of activism these days.  He doesn't write letters and he certainly doesn't get involved in any projects these days.  He's not alone in that either.  Nelson Mandela is also 94 and when was the last time you saw him giving any speeches?  I think that when you're in your 90's you don't really want to pick fights anymore.  By 94 you've done your bit, you've passed on the torch to the next generation and you're just trying to live your last years with as much quiet dignity as you can manage.  Well that's been my experience with every 94 year old I've ever known, but like I said, your experience may be different.  I just really really doubt it.  I think he did pass the torch to you.  I also think you took that torch and promptly set fire to everything your dad built in his lifetime.

You can probably tell that I don't really care for you Franklin.  Frankly, I think you're a snake (and that's really the kindest way I can put it).  But I really liked your dad.  Billy Graham was someone I really used to look up to.  He wasn't like most spiritual celebrities.  He wasn't involved in any sex scandals, he wasn't constantly asking people for more money and I never heard him make any claims of magical healing powers.  His ministry was inclusive, not exclusive.  He was for interfaith outreach and desegregation long before it was popular.  In fact back in 2008 I wrote a blog post listing some of the Christians of note I really admired and his name was first on the list.  Four short years ago I really admired your dad, as did most people.  Saints, sinners, Christians and heathens (for the most part) could agree that Billy Graham was not like the others.  He was a good guy.  You think that's still the consensus after the shit you pulled recently?

My parent's generation may still go to their graves admiring him but my generation has had their memories of the man thoroughly sullied.  Still, that's nothing compared to the new generation.  All he will ever be to them is "that old bigot, Billy Graham".  That's on YOU Franklin Graham, that's all on you.  You did that.  You destroyed the good legacy of Billy Graham and replaced it with something terrible.  And for what?  Really, what did you gain from all this?

So please, won't you take your father's alleged words to heart and think of your legacy?  Don't be an asshole.  But, if you really can't help yourself and you just for some reason have to be an asshole then please, speak for yourself.  Don't be an asshole on behalf of your dad.  But seriously though, give strong consideration to just not being an asshole, period.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

DBAA: About Esther

Dear Mark Driscoll,

OK, we get it - you don't like women!  You've made it abundantly clear by now that you consider "feminine" to be synonymous with "inferior" and "feminist" to be synonymous with "the worst thing ever".  So seeing as how you've already firmly established this fact, was it really necessary to hammer that home by taking a massive shit on Esther?  You wrote the following about her:

"She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God."

Seriously guy?  Is there no bottom to your misogyny?  You can actually read the book of Esther and manage come up with THAT interpretation?  I know you're not a fan of the womens but really, does your hatred and scorn really run that deep? 

You claim to be a Bible scholar, did you at any point during the preparation of your sermon series on the book of Esther actually read the book of Esther?  First off, little orphan Esther was nothing like "a beautiful young woman living in a major city".  For her to be an unmarried virgin in those days she would have been extremely young.  I'm pretty confident scholars and historians would back me on the fact that she would have been past puberty but probably still under what we would consider the age of consent in today's society - somewhere between 13 and 16 years old.  But fine, you probably don't really have much respect for godless concepts like "scholarship" or "historical accuracy".  So let's stick to the one thing you claim to be a student of.  Let's see what the Bible actually says.

Esther was not some pretty young thing who used her feminine wiles and evil lady parts to snag the king.  Here's how she ended up with her future husband:

"Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it. "  (Est 2:2-4)

She did not "land a rich guy", she and countless other young girls were forcibly drafted into the king's harem.  Refusal was not an option.  This king did not take very kindly to women telling him "no".  It's right there in the first chapter where we find out what happened to the previous queen.  When the king - in the middle of a big boozy bender - ordered queen Vashti to present herself at his party "in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles" (whatever THAT may have implied..) she refused and so she ended up stripped of her crown and banished from the king's presence for life.  He decided to make an example of her for the whole empire to see in order to insure that women everywhere didn't get any silly ideas about saying "no" to their husbands:

"“Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.  “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”  The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue." (Est 1:16-22)

Also, being conscripted into a harem is not like going on a date.  Here is how that process went:

"Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name." (Est 2:12-14)

So yeah, nothing like  going on a date and wowing a dude with how awesome you are at sex.  Harems were for life.  Once a girl went in she had to stay there, regardless of whether the king liked her or wanted to see her ever again.  Does any of this sound romantic to you?  Do you really see feminine wiles at play here?  Because to me this seems like a terrible thing.  To me this seems like sexual slavery.  Clearly not to you though!

So, we have a very young girl who gets rounded up by state officials because she's pretty and then gets thrown in a harem - which will be her new permanent home.  You see all that - I mean you have to see it, it says it all RIGHT THERE IN THE BIBLE YOU CLAIM TO STUDY - and you come away with "Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed."  Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you??  Is it physically impossible for you to not be a giant asshole where women are concerned?  Oh and of course the only reason the king would have picked her would be the fact that she wowed him with an amazing night in the sack, there's no way it could have been anything else about her right?  It couldn't have been her personality or intelligence or character could it, because you got women all figured out.  You know what they're good for.

The problem is that you're not just an asshole, you're an asshole with a congregation.  A large one.  Full of young men and women.  And you are infecting them with your incredibly dickish view of the world.  Stop it.  For the sake of everything you believe is holy, just stop.  Don't pass on your baseless disdain for women to a new generation of young men.  Don't feed the insecurities the young women in your congregation probably already struggle with.  Just let them have one of the very few female heroes in the Bible without turning her into some opportunistic young slut.  Don't be an asshole.  Especially don't be an asshole to Esther.  She deserves better.

Monday, October 1, 2012

DBAA: About Elections

Dear American Conservative Christians,

Thank you for making me feel like an idiot.  I know none of you actually read it but 4 years ago, when I was still a fresh faced young Christian blogger full of hope and optimism, I wrote you guys a letter.  The elections were drawing near and I had noticed that there were a lot of (conservative Christian) people in the US that were very worried about what it would mean if Obama won.  So because I was under the impression that you guys were just operating under some bad assumptions, I opened my heart and shared a bit of my own story on how things went when my own country - South Africa - suddenly went from an almost exclusively Christian Conservative country to a Liberal, Secular state almost overnight.  We had all the same worries back then (well some of us did) and things ended up much better (or at least not as terrible) as was initially feared.  I thought that would be helpful because, naive simpleton that I was, I thought you guys were legitimately worried.  Clearly I was wrong.  You were just being assholes.

I'm sorry, does my language offend you?  Tough!  Your entire attitude offends me!  You didn't care about the truth at all.  I mistakenly thought you guys cared about facts when all you cared about was fearmongering.  If that doesn't make you an asshole, what does?

Go ahead, read what I wrote to you in October 2008.  While you're there, check out the letters by Focus on the Family and Janet Folger (reposted right here in this line for your convenience!) that prompted me to write my letter in the first place.  Who did a better job of predicting the future?  Be honest, if you still remember how.  It was me!  The stuff they scared you with absolutely did not come to pass* while my advice was pretty spot on if I do say so myself.  The fact that I was right just makes this sting even more.  I should have seen through you even back then.

I see clearly now how this was never about being accurate or truthful to you people.  If it was you would have admitted you overreacted and changed your tune.  But you didn't.  Like the Harold Campings and Alex Jones' of the world your predictions failed but you just went ahead and made them again as if you haven't been so very wrong every time before.  That is not the actions of a moral person, it's the actions of a fearmongering asshole desperately grasping for control over a small scared group of people (and their wallets).  I should have known!  I saw enough of the of the crap you're shilling during the last gasp of Apartheid.  Congratulations, you fooled me!

I hope you feel great about yourselves.  See you and I and your friends over at the news networks know that you're just telling scary campfire stories.  Sure, you all put on serious faces but you know it's not really true.  But not everyone does.  Every now and again, some mentally unstable person takes you seriously and then does the only thing that anyone who ACTUALLY believes you can logically do - they kill people:

  "Albert Peterson shot dead his wife and two sons hours after going to church because he dreaded the thought of Obama winning the election, a family friend has revealed.

    A confidante of the family for the past 25 years has spoken to MailOnline about the strength and grace of the Peterson family, as well as the torment that plagued Albert which drove him to shoot dead his wife Kathleen and his two sons Christopher and Mathew at their suburban home [near] DC on Sunday.

    A history of mental illness, the loss of a dear uncle, and a growing fear of Obama winning a second term in the White House took its toll on the mind of Mr Peterson, a wealthy defense contractor, the friend said."

Don't you dare stand there shaking your heads in sympathy you whitewashed graves!  You should thank your God that more people don't take you seriously.  I mean if someone truly believed that abortion was mass murder on a far greater scale than anything Hitler ever did, why wouldn't they shoot up a clinic?  What kind of person who actually believes babies are being murdered could do any less?  And how can actually believing your bullshit about death panels killing old people and Christians being rounded up into camps to be exterminated not seriously consider shooting someone?  No, really, answer me that you fucking vipers!

But that's not going to change a damn thing, is it?  You're still going to do your best to frighten the shit out of your gullible flock and they are going to listen to you and donate to you and vote the way you tell them to and when - not if - when you're proven wrong again, you will nevertheless do exactly the same thing again when the next election.  So you know what, I don't see the point in even trying to talk sense into you leaders.

Instead, I'm putting this angry letter online in the rather naive hope that maybe one of your followers will read it and have second thoughts.  Conservative Christian, you are being lied to by your leaders.  I'm not saying Obama is a saint and you should vote for him.  Hell there are some great reasons to not support him but you won't hear any of those from your leaders.  Instead they're going to sell you fantasies about coming persecutions and a 1000 years of darkness.  Don't buy into that!  And for the love of all that is good, don't pass on their lies to your friends and family!  I swear, I am not telling you who to vote for.  I'm just asking you for one simple thing.  Don't be an asshole.  Simple as that.  Hell you probably already adhere to that rule when you're in a parking lot or standing in line at the store or interacting with your neighbours.  It's just basic human decency.  That's all I'm asking for.

Don't be an asshole about the elections.  Don't lie about the future.  Don't make up stories.  Don't repeat predictions that are as false now as there were the first 100 times someone made them.  Don't act like you believe them.  No!  Debunk them instead!!  Keep calm and go with your conscience, not your basest fears.  When you find yourself tempted just remember DBAA - Don't Be An Asshole.  Then go forth and don't be one.  You'll be a happier person for it and you will never have to worry that maybe you were complicit in the deaths of anyone.


If you want to see these "predictions" thoroughly demolished, check out Libby Anne's blog.  She does a great job going through these false prophecies bit by bit right here.  Don't trust them and their suits and smiling pious faces.  They lied before and they are lying now.  They are not the "men of God" they are pretending to be.