Friday, May 30, 2008

Oh No They Didn't!

Well, turns out I am not done railing on the dogmatic errors and injustices of the Church. This particular issue (see article below) strikes a cord with me as a woman and as a feminist, as well as one who has self-excommunicated. I DO have a right to bitch, by God.

[And let's define feminism, shall we: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes...many people mistakenly think feminism puts women above men. Not true. Do your homework.]

Here you have an institution STARVING for clergy, closing churches left and right due to lack of priests, failing to keep up with priest-to-congregation ratios. And rather than even considering changes to allow women to be priests, the men in the Vatican Boys Club would rather see the whole Catholic ship go down before they let a human being -- who happens to have a vagina -- conduct mass.

1) A flimsy retort by the church is that men alone are the image of Christ and therefore can only be priests. WRONG. Women, if indeed also created by God (try and prove otherwise), are in the image of Christ, too. In the era of Jesus, if the social strata of the genders were reversed, I bet God would have sent the Messiah in the form of a woman. In that era men could be heard, women just mostly seen. Show me in the bible where Jesus says only men can be priests.

2) Do you think God cares who conducts mass? Or do you think He cares about those in mass and what is in their hearts? I want to ask the Vatican council: Once we shuffle off this mortal coil, do you think there will be gold medal of honor where your penis once was? Faith is every bit as evident and strong in women as in men. What God has instilled as gifts of impassioned faith let no man tear asunder.

3) The suppression of women stagnates any possibility of growth and evolution in the Church. (I know, the "e" word is seen as thin ice for the Church fundies.) Women are still viewed primarily for their baby-making, man-serving functions. Bullshit, I say. Putting the Virgin Mary on a pedestal and canonizing women is not enough to keep female involvement an integrally equal part of the Church.

4) (To those unfamiliar with what pre cana is, this is a type of Church mandated class a couple attends prior to marriage to ensure compatibility, etc.) At the time of pre cana I said I wasn't sure I wanted children. After marriage I then became sure. I do not want children. The Church then advised that I consider annulment (a "church approved" divorce) because the sole purpose of marriage is to procreate. Funny, I thought it was because I love my husband. Would they say the same to a woman who could not physically have children? So, after that experience, the feminist in me put a checkmark under the Axe to Grind column. This is just another goes-to-show-ya that in the Church women's sacramental attainments hinge on their biology, not on their intent, thoughts, intelligence, reason or FAITH.

5) Even though I theologically disagree with Catholicism, if I were a part of it and had the flame of vocation in me to want to spread the word of God -- being a woman, I think the 'threat' of excommunication by the Church would hold such little value in comparison to knowing God's desire for His love to be spread and taught. This religion is supposed to be all about God, not about the administration. Get with the program, Church. Don't you know that it is the message that is important, not the messenger. If the church were a non-exempt institution this would be a civil rights issue for sure. While I believe in the separation of Church and State, I do NOT believe in the separation of gender and vocation.

6) The Church is so hung up on ceremony and tradition it has lost the meaning of its very existence. I have found God to be more evident and more present in the silence and in the winds blowing through a quiet grove of woods on any weekday evening than in the rituals of a stuffy superficial women-oppressed Church full of yawning, daydreaming people who are dressed up for each other on Sunday morning.

Spirituality is not as encouraged in Catholicism as compliance. And if you are a woman in this religion, you'd better goose-step along with the rest of the company or you can bet on being shown the door. Thoughts muted. Mouths shut. Eyes down. Uterus fertile. And Tithe ready.


Vatican sends threat over women priests
From CNN Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci

ROME, Italy (CNN) March 30, 2008 -- The Vatican announced Thursday in a general decree that it will excommunicate anyone who would attempt to ordain a woman as a priest and the woman herself. According to the decree, the excommunications would take place with immediate effect. The decree was signed by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. It was not persuasive to Regina Nicolosi, a program coordinator for Roman Catholic Womenpriests (sic), who was ordained two years ago. "We have come not to take that too seriously," said Nicolosi, a 66-year-old married mother and grandmother who lives in Red Wing, Minnesota, and said her group is composed of 40 to 50 women priests, none of whom are recognized by the church hierarchy. "It's one of the very last patriarchal hierarchies in the western world, and I don't know when they will be ready to let go of that." Though she said she wants to reform the church from within, she will continue her work as a volunteer in a nursing home who celebrates mass in small groups even if she is excommunicated, she said. She predicted that the church's resistance will backfire. "This is bringing more and more women into our group, and I think we're getting more support from Catholics who are saying this is getting ridiculous," she said.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

God Wants Spiritual Fruit, Not Religious Nuts

On Friday I opened my mailbox and found a very interesting envelope - it was a #10 size, white with lots of bold churchy words, many in ALL CAPS, some words were red and underlined, but I knew before I opened it that 'pyramid scheme' was coming off of it like heat.

This type of usury works against those who are naive in faith. It deceives those who put much stock in the church and in relics. It works against the unintelligent, and, often, the elderly who are stuck in a non-growing rut of belief. Admittedly, I can compile a case against both those who devise this little trickery and those who fall for it.

I see this type of deception to be almost as bad as the fraudulant psychics who feed off of people's emotions and grief of their loved ones. It is idiotic and laughable. And the marketing design of the piece was ABSOLUTELY appalling!

But as you can see from the envelope this scam promises that your home will be blessed spiritually, physically, FINANCIALLY (what about sexually?). And to make matters more laughable, they are incorrect in their writing, using who's in the place of whose. Looks like someone's house wasn't blessed grammatically. I'm surprised the letter did not start with "Dear 7 lb 8oz baby Jesus..."

Inside were several pages (printed on both sides with minimal margins) of hypocriligious nonsense. It had in it a folded piece of paper with a poorly designed image of what is supposed to be Christ. The envelope called it the “Bible faith prayer rug” complete with instructions on how you either kneel on it or you put it on your knees. (Your holy, holy knees). It claimed that this "rug" which is essentially not a rug at all, but just a piece of paper, has allegedly been passed onto me by someone else, though it was quite clear no one else had opened up this paper rug. Ugh. Here were some of the instructions:

When you use this Faith Church Prayer Rug, go into a room where you can be alone (Just God and you). Turn off the television and radio and try to be by yourself when you kneel on this Holy Ghost, Bible Prayer Rug. or spread it over your knees. We want this Church Ministry, Prayer Rug to be touching both of your knees as you pray for the needs you are facing right now . . . . . . Timing is important to God. After you kneel on the Church Prayer Rug, or place it over your knees, place it in the Bible, on Philippians 4:19. (If you don’t have a Bible, it’s okay, just slide it under your side of your bed, for tonight, if you can. If you can’t do this, it is okay.) Leave It There No Longer Than Tonight Only! God sees. Then, in the morning it is a must that you get this unusual blessing Church Prayer Rug out of this house and back to us, here at the church’s chapel prayer room, in faith. We must also get have this letter back, with whatever you need prayer for, printed on page two. You must get this Bible Prayer Rug back to the church so we can rush it to another family that’s in need of a blessing. Do this without fail. Please, do not break this flow of power between us.

Don't you love it when biblical citations are thrown about like confetti, with no context? This gimmick promises that you will be blessed by the church. The church? Since when does a structure pass out blessings? I thought only God did that. Yes, there is a HUGE difference between God and the church. And as far as the hypocrisy in this stunt, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to rip up the pages of this scam, write "Jesus is pissed!" and draw angry furrowed eyebrows on the face of "Jesus" in this "God rug" with a speech bubble: "Hypocrites, Money Changers, Pyramid Schemers!" in it...and returned it in the postage paid envelope to some fake made up church in Oklahoma.

Take that, you Philistines.

[More crazies - go here to pay to create an e-mail to send post-rapture to all your friends who were "left behind" ]

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Worth Reading

Please check out the new article

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Amazing Grace

I cannot pass up posting this article. I have no words. It is the most amazing display of forgiveness and grace exercised by a Christian woman I have ever read about.

Also, I have another reason to give my business to Macy's.

Woman opens heart to man who slaughtered her family

May 15, 2008 -

GITARAMA, Rwanda (CNN) -- What does Macy's have to do with healing from genocide? Nothing and everything. Fourteen years after Hutu extremists killed between 800,000 and 1 million people -- mostly Tutsis -- in a devastating slaughter, Rwandan women are weaving peace baskets for sale at Macy's in the United States. Not only does the work bring them a regular salary but the business is also fostering reconciliation between victim and perpetrator.

Iphigenia Mukantabana, a master weaver, sits in front of her house in Gitarama -- an hour from the capital Kigali -- making beautiful baskets with her friend, Epiphania Mukanyndwi. In 1994 Mukantabana's husband and five of her children were hacked and clubbed to death by marauding Hutu militias. Among her family's killers was Jean-Bosco Bizimana, Mukanyndwi's husband. "In my heart the dead are dead and they cannot come back again," Mukantabana said of those she lost. "So I have to get on with the others and forget what has happened." Forgetting and forgiving everything she lost, everything she witnessed. "Women and girls were raped and I saw it all," she told CNN. "The men and boys were beaten and then slaughtered. They told others to dig a hole get in, then they piled earth on top of them, while they were still alive." Yet today, Mukantabana shares her future and her family meals with Bizimana, the killer she knew, and his wife, her friend Mukanyndwi.

Bizimana did spend seven years in jail. He then went before a tribal gathering, part of a return to traditional ways by the new government in 2002 with Rwanda's justice system unable to cope and process hundreds of thousands of imprisoned perpetrators. The government decided that the master planners and worst perpetrators would face formal justice. But lower-level killers were allowed to publicly confess and apologize to the families of their victims at gacaca courts, where elders would hear grievances and decide on the punishments. "In the gacaca court, I told them how we killed our fellow men and I asked for forgiveness in front of the court and the whole district was there," Bizimana said. "The people who died in this very area -- I knew all of them because they were our neighbors."

He places blame squarely on the extremist Hutu government at the time, and on vile radio broadcasts that urged on the killers during the 100-day slaughter. "They were giving instructions all the time, that was from the government and so we thought it as the right thing because we were getting this instruction from the government," Bizimana said. He showed where he and a Hutu mob had killed 25 people, including members of Mukantabana's family, a few yards from where he had just shared lunch with her. "We used machetes, hoes and wooden clubs," he told CNN. Mukantabana admits it was difficult to forgive. She said she did not speak to Bizimana or his wife for four years after the killings. What put her on the road to healing, she said, was the gacaca process. "It has not just helped me, it has helped all Rwandans because someone comes and accepts what he did and he asks for forgiveness from the whole community, from all Rwandans," she said. Bizimana said he did just that. "I told them in front of the gacaca courts, what happened in this country -- how we killed our fellow men. And I asked for forgiveness in front of the court and the whole district was there," he said. "You go in front of the people like we are standing here and ask for forgiveness."

But despite his confession and apology, Iphigenia said reconciliation would not have happened unless she had decided to open her heart and accept his pleas. "I am a Christian and I pray a lot," she said, the pain etched in the lines on her face and around her sad eyes. But the basket business also played a key role in forging forgiveness and reconciliation after the horror. "We knew how to weave baskets," Mukantabana explained. "It helped unite Rwandans in this area because they accepted me as the master weaver and I could not say 'I am not taking your basket or I am not helping you because you did something bad to me.' " Macy's sold the first "peace baskets" in 2005 and officials say the deal generates between $300,000 and $400,000 a year. A Rwandan weaver can earn about $14 per week -- a king's ransom in a country where so many live on less than $1 per week. The international project is a far cry from 1994, when the United States, Europe, the United Nations and the rest of the world turned away while the genocide went unchecked in Rwanda. "They didn't care, they were totally indifferent," Rwandan President Paul Kagame told CNN in an interview in his office in Kigali. He said the world thought Rwanda "was just another bloody African situation where people just kill each other and that's it."

Today Rwanda is an African success story. It has one of the fastest economic growth rates in the region, and one of the lowest crime rates, and lowest rate of HIV-AIDS. About one third of Rwanda's cabinet are female ministers and 48 percent of parliamentarians are women -- the highest anywhere in the world, according to the United Nations. The country is clean because of a mandatory policy that sees even government ministers participate in clean-up once a month. Plastic bags are banned. The international business community praises Rwanda's good governance and the absence of official corruption or graft. Kagame is credited not just with turning Rwanda around, but with also being the driving force behind rejecting revenge. "We were in danger of having another genocide," he said. "People were so badly aggrieved they could easily have turned on those they thought were responsible for this and actually killed them in another wave of killings. But that did not happen" he said. "We said building a nation is the most important thing." Now no one talks about Hutus or Tutsis, he explained. "There is Rwanda, there are Rwandans and the common interest we have for a better future for this country is more important than any other interest."

In Gitarama, Bizimana said, "It hurts my heart to see that I did something wrong to friends of my family, to people who we even shared meals with," he said. "I am still asking for forgiveness from the people I hurt." Amazingly many seem to have forgiven.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Three Things

1) Yesterday on the local news station it was announced that, according to the Vatican, it is permissible for Catholics to believe in alien life because of the vastness of the universe:

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, says that the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones. In an interview published Tuesday by Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Funes says that such a notion “doesn’t contradict our faith” because aliens would still be God’s creatures. The interview was headlined “The extraterrestrial is my brother.” Funes said that ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom.

I'm glad I'm no longer Catholic to endure this type of embarrassment. When the Church is not telling you how believe and how to vote (yes it does too, just in more subtle ways so as to not violate its tax-exempt status), it is giving you permissions to believe in such things! And let me just say that "putting limits" on God's creative freedom is as sinful as "putting limits" on God's love, which is what is being done when the Church teaches that God cannot (and will not) save everyone even though He wants to. RUBBISH!

2) I have a relative who owns a body shop in the town I live in. They often put little religious quips and cliches on a sign in front of this shop. Clearly fundamentalists. The one that was posted not too far back that irked my spiritual sense was this:


The binary insult here is A) The strong insinuation that only those exposed to Jesus will be saved and B) The word "may"...Using this not-so-certain word makes it sound like these people are maybe not too sure about Jesus. So much for faith.

3) The third (of a million) problems I have is that many Catholics who proclaim themselves to be Pro-Life should really re-label themselves Semi-Pro-Life. You see, when one labels oneself as Pro-Life, that means ALL LIFE needs to be fought for. Not just the unborn, they have an OBLIGATION TO STAND UP FOR ALL LIFE - that being life on death row, life outside the United States, life in general. This ridiculous farce of a war we are in is what you would call NOT PRO-LIFE. So, anyone who supports the real and occurring mass deaths of innocents abroad and yet stands outside of an abortion clinic in protest is the epitome of a hypocrite. And anyone who favors capital punishment and talks about how abortion needs to be made illegal needs to take a good hard look at the backwardness of their stance. Life does not lose value outside of the womb, but it is treated this way, folks. Once you are born, look out! You could be shipped off to war or to death row...and now the same people who fought for you to be born into this world are the same ones putting ammo in your pocket and administering that lethal injection to take you out.

Sidenote: The whole abortion issue has been lumped into one great big stereotypical knot. People do not realize that many of the women who have to make that difficult decision are suffering something fierce in their hearts - and always will. They are not criminals, they are human. People are so ready to cast stones and fight for the unborn, but sure as hell do bitch up a storm when it comes to paying welfare taxes to support those children. We have to view each abortion situation and the women involved individually. True believers have to look at those women like the merciful, compassionate Lord Jesus would. I very much doubt that He would scream and spit in their faces as they enter the clinic while calling them murderers. I very much doubt that.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lies The Church Told Me

If it can be agreed upon...

That God sent His only son, Jesus, to die for the sins of the world...the key words being 'whole world', not just a select few and not just Christians...

And that God planned and foresaw the need for the crucifixion so the world could know Him....

And that the situation and 'players' were essentially laid out in the path before Jesus so that this prophecy could come to fruition...

Which means that God was working through ALL those involved...

Including the disciple Judas Iscariot...

Which means God foresaw and foreknew the anguish Judas would feel following his betrayal of Jesus to the soldiers (an intense anguish no one could know)...

Which means the suicide of Judas was foreseen as well by God...

And so, of course God's mercy will be on Judas in the after-life as a disciple and participant in the Greatest Story Ever Told...

And that suicide, while imminently terrible, could NOT POSSIBLY result in Judas' punishment in an 'eternal hell'.

Because that would mean God sets up people for failure - those people whom He allegedly loves.

And because God knows our innermost hearts and knows we have a limit to what we can bear as humans, the Judas-like anguish that is felt by those humans who take their own lives can only be looked upon with nothing but pity and love by God. The average person does not commit suicide to purposely anger God.

Suicide does not result in suffering in a fictional eternal hell.

Nothing does.