Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

The Thinker

Death by religion

Some years back I wrote about Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, and how I thought it was not only so much crap but dangerous and thoroughly discredited crap as well. It received some modest attention and still gets regular hits.

There are actually a lot of these addictive ideas that are killing us. Arguably capitalism is one of them but there are many others, including communism, fascism, socialism (in its pure form) and today’s topic: religion. Lots of people, mostly atheists, have been saying for a very long time that religion is harmful. They have lots of history to prove them right, as so many wars and so many millions of people have died because of religious conflicts.

Two related stories in Sunday’s Washington Post brought this home to me. One was the influx of foreign fighters into the conflict in Syria and Iraq, including hundreds of people here in America, to fight a religious war. Related to it was a disturbing article about Anjem Choudary, a Muslim cleric based in London who is a propagandist for the Islamic State. This “state” of course is busy overrunning much of Syria and Iraq not to mention beheading people and selling women into slavery. I zeroed in on this part:

Iraq and Syria, Anjem Choudary says confidently, are only the beginning. The Islamic State’s signature black flag will fly over 10 Downing Street, not to mention the White House. And it won’t happen peacefully, but only after a great battle that is now underway.

“We believe there will be complete domination of the world by Islam,” says the 47-year-old, calmly sipping tea and looking none the worse for having been swept up in a police raid just days earlier. “That may sound like some kind of James Bond movie — you know, Dr. No and world domination and all that. But we believe it.”

In other words, none of this peaceful persuasion that Islam is the true faith crap, but lots of war, death and mayhem to make sure we are all compelled to believe his version of the truth. Christians shouldn’t feel so smug, after numerous crusades not to mention the Spanish Inquisition in which we tried (and failed) to make the infidels (read: Muslims) believe our version of religious truth.

There is not a major religion out there, including Buddhism that has not killed to promote its values, despite doing so is arguably the greatest hypocrisy against their religion possible. All these centuries later, despite our vast knowledge and understanding of history, despite technology and the Internet, large numbers of us are utterly convinced that only their religion is correct. They are so vested in it that they will wreak literally holy mayhem to make sure their religion, and only their religion is the only one anyone is allowed to believe and practice.

It’s quite clear what people like Choudary would do to those of us unenlightened enough not to become Muslims: lop off our heads like they are doing to infidels in Iraq and Syria right now or, if a woman, sell her into slavery. This is, by the way, quite similar to what Columbus did to the natives of Hispaniola shortly after discovering America in 1492, and what Cortez and many other conquerors did to the unenlightened natives of South and Central America as well. Killing infidels with the sword often had the desired effect. The natives were soon proclaiming to believe in Jesus Christ while also working as slaves for their enlightened conquerors. Infidels are going to hell anyhow for refusing to be enlightened, so they might as well be dead, is what passed for their rationalization. Choudary doubtless agrees but worse is working to facilitate the transfer of fighters into Iraq and Syria to spread this sort of enlightenment.

It doesn’t seem to matter much what the form of religion is. They all seem to have this fatal flaw, which allows zero uncertainty to come between their religion and their actions. I believe this is because the human species is hardwired toward addiction to memes. And the religious meme is a powerful one: it promises us eternal paradise and the absence of all suffering, forever, in the glory of God if we just do precisely what some people say God wants us to do. People like Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a Florida native, who on May 25 became an American suicide bomber for the cause of Islam. He blew himself up in a Syrian café frequented by Syria soldiers. In his farewell video, Abusalha says:

“You think you are safe where you are in America,” he said, threatening his own country and a half-dozen others. “You are not safe.”

Doubtless he is enjoying paradise now with his 72 virgins. That should satisfy his sexual desires for a while. Or, much more likely, he is simply dead, another pawn cruelly used in a much larger game of pointless chess. Chess is a game and on some horrific level these religious crusades are games too. Games may be won, but winning them doesn’t really change anything. Thanks to conquerors like Cortez and the missionaries that followed him, South and Central America today is suitably enlightened, with Roman Catholicism dominating society there. But it is still as infected with evils as any other religiously “enlightened” state. If you need a recent example, try this one. Or this one.

No religion, no matter how universal, will change the fundamental nature of man. It never has and never will. Choudary and Abusalha are ultimately playing the parts of fools, helping to feed chain reactions of generational war, death, trauma and suffering wholly at odds with the religion they proclaim will solve these problems. The religious meme – the notion that one size of religion can and must fit all – that has been proven over and over and over almost to the point where you can’t count anymore as fundamentally false and destructive. Religion in this incarnation is harmful to man, creates chaos and retards the enlightenment these people profess it will bring.

I speak as a cautiously religious man. My own religion, Unitarian Universalism, is creedless so perhaps we have earned an escape clause as a toxic religion. Still, my denomination is hardly free of its own very human evils. A previous minister of my church, for example, was sexually involved with a number of women in our congregation (while married), a scandal some thirty years in our past that still affects our behavior. But Unitarian Universalism at least does not proselytize. We don’t assume our religion is the only correct one. This will occasionally drive others nuts. It resulted in some deaths some years back in a congregation in Tennessee, and more recently a very disturbing takeover of a service in Louisiana by some local antiabortion nuts.

So here’s my new rules on religion and I hope it is a new meme we can spread:

  • I will not consider believing in any religion that assumes it has all the answers about the nature of God and how humans must behave
  • I will not consider believing in any religion that thinks has succeeded when everyone is believing in its version of truth
  • I will not consider believing in any religion that cannot peacefully co-exist with other different faiths
  • I will not consider believing in any religion that has at any time in its past caused religious warfare
  • I will actively do all I can to civilly and peacefully undermine any religion that promotes any of the above
  • I will encourage everyone, including you, who may belong to such a faith to leave it

Such faiths are not worthy of the God you claim to worship and are ultimately far more destructive than helpful. Reflect on it. Pray on it. God will tell you it’s true.

 

 
The Thinker

Our Wild, Wild Universe – Part Two

I don’t often write about the universe. It’s been ten years since I wrote about the physicist Brian Greene’s book The Fabric of the Universe. It seems that I cannot get enough of the story, at least when it can be brought down to the terms a layman like me can understand. Some months back Cosmos returned to television, a sort of sequel to the series of the same name hosted by the late astronomer Carl Sagan broadcast on public TV in 1980. This series is hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson and showed up, curiously enough, on the Fox Network, a network known more for its lowbrow entertainment than this nerdy stuff.

I’m catching up on the series now on Netflix. I find it compelling in a strange way, so compelling that I am putting aside other really compelling shows like House of Cards and Ken Burns’ documentary The Roosevelts to give it precedence. It tickles my curiosity and sense of wonder. The more you explore what we know about the universe, the more wondrous it becomes. deGrasse Tyson does a great job of conveying the immensity and the wonder of our universe. The series is aided by wondrous CGI as well, the sort that was simply unavailable when Carl Sagan hosted the series (although for the time his CGI was quite sophisticated). The combination of CGI, storytelling and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s infectious way of story telling makes it a very compelling series.

It brings out the natural pantheist in me. Natural pantheism is sort of a religion that simply expresses reverence for our universe the way it is. As you finish episodes of this version of Cosmos, you should feel the pull of natural pantheism too. Most of us who are religious tend to appreciate the faiths that we have been brought up in, in part perhaps because its message is much simpler to grasp than the amazing immensity and complexity of the cosmos, to the extent that we can understand it. Traditional religions also tend to concentrate on people and our needs, aspirations and questions. They are human centric. Studying the cosmos as it is, is not human centric at all except of course that we are self-aware creatures. We also have developed a scientific method that allows us to continually gain in understanding of the cosmos and our part in it.

deGrasse Tyson does a great job of explaining how we came to understand how the universe actually works. This too is a compelling story. In it certain scientists like Newton, Faraday and Einstein become something like secular saints, because they each solve great mysteries. In the process they reveal not just what is, but how the master clock works and sometimes how we can work it to our advantage. It’s a story of great detective work spanning thousands of years.

The series is spawning new thoughts within me, particularly in the area of evolution. It is clear to me that evolution does not exist merely here on Earth, but across the universe as well. The universe evolves too, creating more and more complex elements that make life possible. Is there life in the universe, aside from our planet, of course? Now the answer seems simple: yes. Life doubtless exists elsewhere, in many forms. In fact it probably permeates our galaxy and much of the evolved universe. This is because all the building blocks are there, particularly carbon and heat, which is hardly unique to the Earth. In addition, as deGrasse Tyson points out in Episode 11, it is probable that microbial life travels between planets and between solar systems, seeding life itself across the galaxy and the universe. It just happens so slowly and over so many millions of years it is hard for us to see.

To me it gets much simpler. The universe itself is a living creature. The universe does not necessarily think or breathe, attributes that we associate with life but at least to our understanding is something done very quickly. But it is clearly evolving and becoming more complex with time. It is unfolding and through nuclear processes and gravity it is creating the complex, like carbon molecules, from the simple: the collapse of hydrogen gases by gravity into stars and their subsequent explosion. And like all living things, the universe seems destined to die. Like our body though it does not all die at once. It will take billions of years to die as the forces of the big bang move objects further and further from each other. The universe will catch a bad case of pneumonia and then pass on. With the big bang so powerful that no contraction of the universe seems possible, its energy will dwindle out, much like a firework. Whatever happens after that takes us to realms beyond the known laws of physics.

So yes, the universe is alive and it is also a vast system. Systems by nature are complex entities, and the universe is complex almost beyond our fathoming. Systems imply rules and order and some understanding, which if you believe in God suggests your belief is not unfounded. Systems also are comprised of many pieces that interrelate with one another. Our universe interrelates with itself. Forces like the nuclear forces and gravity are the means that enforce an interrelationship. It also means that everything is connected to everything else. We sometimes suffer the illusion that we are alone. We may feel lonely, but we are never alone. We are always intimately connected with everything else simply because we are all a part of everything else.

It is individuality that is an illusion, although as deGrasse Tyson points out not only are we part of a universe so immense that few of us can understand it, there is also a universe within ourselves. Within a breath of air that we inhale, there are more atoms inhaled than there are stars in the universe. If there is a miracle, it is that we have evolved to self-awareness. We have a pretty good idea how it all fits together now, and our part in it.

With life must come death. On the universal level, our life is like the lifespan of a bacterium on a bar of soap: very short indeed. By nature we cannot maintain such complexity for that long and even if we could the universe will shift in ways that would kill us. It’s no wonder then that universe seems cold, heartless and unfathomable. We are destined to die, and die very quickly on a universal time scale. However, we remain part of the fabric of something far more immense and alive: the universe itself.

We are a part of something immensely grand and complex indeed, with our part to play. We have the privilege, thanks to shows like Cosmos, to understand our what it is and our part in it. And that is awe-inspiring and for this agnostic a fitting and satisfying part to play.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: October 2014 edition

And we’re back! It’s officially autumn and perhaps that means some cooling of the libidos of my neighbors. The only way to know is to scan the Craigslist Northern Virginia Casual Encounters ads. I prefer to do this scanning on the first Friday of the month (which today is) because it’s the start of the weekend. People often have great expectations for their weekends. Let’s see if that’s true by scanning today’s ads.

But first, a few statistics. Google Analytics counted at least 242 hits for my Craigslist posts in September, about average, which comprises about 13% of my total web page views, also about average. What’s not average are the expectations of my fellow hormonally stressed neighbors, particularly, of course, the men. On the first page of posts I find:

  • 31 men looking for women
  • 44 men looking for men
  • 6 men looking for a couple (man/woman)
  • 3 men looking for a transvestite/transsexual
  • 6 women looking for men
  • 1 woman looking for a woman
  • 2 women looking for multiple men
  • 8 transsexuals/transvestites looking for men
  • 1 group of men looking for a woman

Let’s indulge our prurient or bizarre interests:

  • For the third month in a row, she’s back! At least she appears to be the same woman, always looking for another woman for breast play. It’s hard to say for sure, but she claims to be 27, African American and from Alexandria. Maybe she’s getting pickier. In previous postings she was looking for beyond enormous boobs. She still likes big breasts, but not big women, at least not more than size 12. She won’t host but is open to car play.
  • It’s not just women who like their men big. Some men do as well. This man is not looking for length but for girth. And he is not just into oral sex but mostly anal sex, this weekend with himself as the recipient. Race doesn’t matter but girth does. You do have to like older men because he is 49.
  • Here’s an ad from ten guys who think there is power in numbers. What randy woman would not like parallel sex as opposed to one at a time sex, i.e. a gangbang or group sex where you are the star attraction? There are up to ten of them you can have all at once although I suspect more than three at once is actually physically impossible. Not one of them is older than 38 and they all come equipped with more than six inches of masculinity. They say they are respectful, if there is anyway to have respectful group sex, and they are happy to meet at hotels. I assume they pay for the room, which makes for a cheap date if you think about it. (I try not to think about this too much.) Anyhow, this sounds kind of what this woman is looking for. She’s 28 but has a unique requirement: all her men must be Marines. Here’s hoping at least some of this group of ten qualify. Failing that, hang outside the gate of the Quantico Marine base and send come hither looks.
  • Here’s a guy looking for a male tattoo artist. He has an explicit picture of his joystick, but apparently he wants the tattoo to go on his back not on his joystick. It’s unclear whether he is genuinely gay or simply wants a free tattoo. It’s kind of weird in any event.
  • Men, do you prefer sleek and skinny black women in gowns? She looks like she is dressing for the prom, but she claims to be 29. I hope you are reading this shortly after I post it because she is only available until 6 PM. She has tons of pictures. I’ll bet your Visa or Mastercard will be required to gain admittance, but I must confess if I were tempted to pay for the privilege she would make an excellent choice.
  • Men: are you obese and gay? It’s your lucky day, providing you want oral sex only because this guy from Alexandria will happily suck away. Curiously, he does not want you to return the pleasure or for that matter do anything else sexual with you, perhaps because you are obese and gay.
  • It’s tough if you are a guy looking for a woman, particularly an older guy looking for a younger woman. Which is why this guy is going for the daddy/daughter angle. It’s unlikely to work but at least you put some different bait as lure on your fishing line.
  • Sometimes it’s good to be a guy and still have pimples. You can’t be older than 20 to qualify for this opportunity to go “bareback” with this husband’s wife and multiple other young and horny guys. It shouldn’t be difficult to find these guys. It would take an exceptionally ugly woman for any heterosexual guy at that age to say no. It’s still not the least bit safe, so apparently some lapse of judgment may be part of his reasoning for this age requirement.
  • He’s a 25 year old guy from Sterling with his own African American submissive “slut”. He’s looking for a dominant woman to help abuse her sometime after 5 PM today. Ladies, you can see most of the woman you are supposed to help humiliate in the ad.
  • I still don’t understand the whole “I am gay and married” thing. Why the hell did you get married? You would think the two would be mutually exclusive. (This being Virginia, you know his spouse is a woman.) What I understand even less is why this gay and married guy would like to have you fill up some of his orifices and he thinks you might want some of his wife’s used panties. Curiously this 50-year-old man from Vienna’s post is right next to this one from a 30-year-old man from Woodbridge who is looking to buy any used panties you ladies have to sell. I guess he can’t get these on eBay?
  • Are you a white Latin Asian man? I would think these would be mutually exclusive, but not to this 54 year old “dad”. If you are, apply here.
  • Ladies, do you like your men tall and muscular? This 6’7” French guy looks fresh out of a gym with Arnold Schwarzenegger. You might be literally carried away if you hook up with him. Prepare to swoon.
  • She needs an arrangement. She needs an older man (read: someone who has money) to eat and go shopping. It may have something to do with the fact that she is lactating and pregnant. Old Country Buffet may be her idea of a great dinner date, and it won’t cost too much.
  • Guys, watch out for this 42-year-old woman who looks more like 62. She will grab you for sure, but what she will grab will be your wallet. Picture if interested.
  • A couple in Warrenton is looking for a sperm donor. There is no indication whether this 32-year-old woman wants you to make a personal deposit or to leave a sample. Whatever, it sounds creepy. Haven’t they ever heard of sperm banks?
  • There are a number of role-play ads on Craigslist today, but this is perhaps the most unusual and wordy: a woman in Tysons looking for “gyno” role-play and she’s got a very specific scenario she wants to try. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a real gynecologist, but it probably doesn’t hurt because it’s hard to rent a stirrup set. You can’t be more than 35 and must be at least six feet tall.

More next month.

 
The Thinker

Why I am not a Christian

It’s curious that after nearly twelve years of blogging I have never really explained my theology or lack thereof. I have given snippets of it from time to time, mostly in critiquing other religions. But I have never really explained myself fully. I thought I might start with why I am not a Christian. I hope to expand my thoughts more on other religions in future posts.

To preface, while I am not a Christian, I am religious. The denomination I most closely align with is Unitarian Universalism, which has its roots in Christianity. It does not require anyone to subscribe to a creed, which is typical of most faiths. I do identify with Christianity because I was raised as a Roman Catholic. So it’s a natural place for me to start this topic.

There are lots of reasons why I am not a Christian, but one emotional reason in particular is relevant. In short, I got way too much Catholicism growing up. It included nine years of parochial school, daily rosaries at home, years as an altar boy, strict attendance at mass every week and regular Catholic education classes until I turned 18. It was overwhelming and stifling. Everything in my life was viewed through the Catholic prism, which was mostly about whether something was sinful or not. When I no longer lived at home, I simply stopped going to church, cold turkey. It was an easy decision for it removed an oppressive weight off my shoulders that simply did not agree with me and was not working for me. And except for an occasional wedding or a funeral, I haven’t been back.

However, my time as a Catholic was not entirely a negative experience. I got an appreciation for the devout, the importance of ritual in life, and the comfort it gives many of certainty in an uncertain world. I will still seek out cathedrals when I travel and they usually feel instinctively holy places. As a denomination, Catholicism has some strengths over other Christian denominations. It’s one of the few denominations that truly cares about the poor and the sanctity of life and puts its money and people where its mouth is. In that sense, it reflects the Jesus one finds in the gospels, and stands head and shoulders above many Christian denominations.

Calling oneself a Christian though is kind of like saying you believe in love. What does love mean? What does it mean to be a Christian? That is open to a lot of debate. If nothing else there is a huge variety of opinions on the matter. My take is that to be a Christian at a minimum you must agree that Jesus was a human manifestation of God. Sorry, I can’t go there.

Early Christians didn’t believe Jesus was God. At least that’s the opinion of the noted biblical scholar Bart Erhman in his book How Jesus Became God. But even a cursory understanding of the history of the New Testament strongly suggests that the gospels grew in their telling. The simple Jesus revealed in the first gospel, Mark, for example, is strikingly different from the mythological one revealed in the last one, John. Moreover, it’s well documented that it took hundreds of years for Christianity to define itself as a faith and the mythological Jesus, part of some trinity, simply was not part of early Christian thought. These Christians ruthlessly suppressed those Christians that did not tow their interpretation. The early Unitarians (who did not believe in the trinity) sought refuge in what is now Hungary and Romania to escape persecution. Many others died for their heresies, hardly Christ-like actions. Christians are still at it. The core of Christianity that is unmistakable from reading the Gospels is that brotherly and universal love should be the center of our behavior, something sadly absent in most Christian denominations.

There is no evidence that Jesus existed. I think that Jesus existed, but obviously I can’t prove it. It’s a reasonable enough inference, since a meme like Jesus is hard to develop without a kernel of truth to it. The Romans left no record of Jesus, nor did anyone else other than the Christians. The hazy view we have of Jesus is through the gospels, which have been rewritten numerous times and errors introduced in translation, point to an interesting and revolutionary man for his time. It’s entirely reasonable to think a contrarian and rabble-rouser like him would be betrayed and crucified. Jesus’s surreptitious behavior after his alleged resurrection though suggests to me he was not God, i.e. not Christ. He seemed anxious not to be seen, except to disciples. That’s hardly a way to convince people that you are God. If he had walked past Pontius Pilot three days after his resurrection, and the Romans had recorded that, now that would be pretty convincing.

Jesus’s divinity aside though, Christians should at least reasonably model Christ if he walked among us. When I was a young and impressionable Catholic, we sang a song that included the lyrics “You will know we are Christians by our love.” Not that there aren’t such Christians out there, but they are a tiny minority of those who claim to be Christian. The vast majority of “Christians” have so wrapped themselves around orthodoxy and warped notions of sin that they no longer see the forest through the trees. You can bet that if Jesus were alive today the whole notion of a prosperity Gospel would leave him gob struck. A devout follower of Jesus would live without possessions and minister among the poor. Know of any Christians like that?

Neither do I. The truth is that this kind of Christianity simply does not work in 2014. Christianity, as imperfectly revealed to us in the Gospels, is obsolete and generally more harmful than helpful. It doesn’t fit in our current reality. Maybe in Saint Paul’s time, when almost all of us lived short and shallow lives and lived at or just above the poverty line, it would have fit the times.

Almost any religion though has some body parts that can be reused when an autopsy is performed. Christianity has some, and those few parts I hold close to my heart, particularly the virtue of universal love and tolerance. But by themselves they don’t make me a Christian.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: September 2014 edition

It’s that time of the month to check Craigslist to find out what weird kinky desires are emerging from the ids of my fellow residents of Northern Virginia. This is done, of course, by looking at its casual encounters section.

Craigslist takes pride in being low tech, so I was surprised that they introduced a control that facilitates scanning the ads. Basically they introduced previous and next buttons and one that takes you back to a list of posts. Thanks Craigslist, but you could have done this about twenty years ago!

My Craigslist traffic is down a bit this month. I count at least 259 hits for my Craigslist casual encounter posts. Just 27 direct hits were for my August edition, but these often roll up under archives for the month or someone scanning the Craigslist tag, so it’s hard to quantify. It works out to about 12.4% of my total page views during August.

A quick look at who’s posting this month, not surprisingly it is mostly guys. Bringing up the first page shows:

  • 44 men looking for women
  • 42 men looking for men
  • 3 men looking for transvestites/transsexuals
  • 3 women looking for men
  • 0 women looking for women
  • 3 couples looking for women
  • 2 couples looking for men
  • 1 couple looking for another couple
  • 5 transvestites/transsexuals looking for men

Let’s get to the dirt. I expanded the search beyond the first page to see what some of the women were up to. So many of them are flagged and quickly deleted that the few that remain may actually be legit.

  • The woman last month who wanted to play with a woman with enormously big boobs is back this month, I think. I guess she didn’t get lucky in August. Curiously, I haven’t seen one ad from an underendowed man looking to play with an over-endowed man. There must be something awesome about enormous breasts, other than their size, that I just don’t get.
  • What is it with guys looking for effeminate men? Is it because they want a woman, but none will have them, so a transvestite, transsexual or “she male” will have to do? Clearly, I don’t get it but I happen to be heterosexual. Anyhow, here’s a 50 year old guy from my area (Sterling/Herndon) looking for a hot, younger man to model for him in women’s clothes and he’ll be snapping pictures. Part of the answer here is what he says: “I’m not interested in sex but you can show off all you want ;-))” Maybe he’s just into drag queens. I’m guessing he also wrote this post.
  • ¿Se habla español? Sólo un poco aquî. There is a considerable Latino population in the area, and that includes gay Latinos and sometimes they post in Spanish in this section of Craigslist. I used the power of Google Translate to learn there is a 37-year-old man in Falls Church who hangs out near the Culmore Home Depot. He is getting hot and bothered by all the muscular and sweaty Latino landscapers in the store. In fact, he is so turned on that he can hardly keep from unzipping their pants and tasting their wares right there in the store. Anyhow, if you are one of these guys, contacta con él. Note to poster: I was in a Home Depot in Reston today, and they hang out there too.
  • It’s not just white women that prefer well-endowed black men. Many black men including this married guy (explicit picture) prefer white women. He looks quite endowed by nature, at least in length. He claims his “baby mama” won’t put out for him anyore, so that’s why he’s advertising. However, he’s into white women only. If you’re a couple it’s cool if the guy wants to watch. He’s 38 and is in Fairfax. Be his “White Queen”, ladies. However, while he claims he’s only looking for one woman, make sure he is all suited up down there before consuming some of this dark chocolate. Maybe it should be double breasted.
  • Lady, channel your inner Sebastian. Go on and kiss the girl, for the first time below the lips, if she just will respond to your post. She is 20.
  • Porn is turning women into lesbians! This 19-year-old female was all heterosexual until she started watching porn. Now her curiosity for her own sex is bubbling over. Maybe she should hook up with the previous poster. They’ll both be virgins, of a sort.
  • Attention Fairfax County cops: tonight you may have an opportunity to arrest a guy for toking weed in the Fair Oaks Mall parking lot, i.e. if this professed “stoner” can find a woman to take some tokes with him. If you are not sure he’s the right guy, he is if a woman hops in the car and they take off down Hunter Mill Road and mysteriously park on a nearby dark street. He’ll be stoned, but not so stoned he can’t find a woman’s groovy spot because apparently weed makes him horny, not mellow. The rest of the post from this guy in his 30’s reads like a bad letter to Penthouse Forum Variations, which ladies if you indulge him don’t be surprised to find the details repeated there.
  • Women, does having unprotected sex using no contraception with a 49-year-old man get your juices flowing? If you are thinking clearly, you should be hearing claxon horns bellowing and an instinctive desire to flee to safety. If you are trying to get pregnant by any means whatsoever, he may be past his sexual prime, but he’s as horny as an 18-year-older, or so he claims. Copy down everything on his driver’s license first. It’s pretty expensive to raise a child these days, so you’ll need a lot of child support when you take him to court. As for this guy, he desperately needs to take the Ice Bucket Challenge instead. If he’s reading Craigslist though, he should contact this woman. She’s claims to be a lesbian but I guess she doesn’t want to wait for withdrawals from a sperm bank.
  • Do you give professional deep throat? I’m trying to think if anyone qualifies other than Linda Lovelace, and she’s dead. At least she was paid for her specialty. Here’s a black 31-year-old man from Herndon with ten inches of engorged manhood who wants you to prove your credentials. I just wonder where these women get their certification. The Kinsey Institute? Anyhow, for sure he’ll let you practice if you are working on your certification, and perhaps he can sign the certificate. He wants to go parking and my bet is he will be at the Herndon Monroe Park and Ride. So Fairfax cops, after you are done arresting that stoner, here’s another tip.
  • Any very dominant women with heels out there into stomping on men’s testicles? Here’s an under endowed (explicit picture) and somewhat chunky 40+ guy from Manassas who wants just that from you. Speaking as a guy, the last thing that would do for me is make me orgasm. I’d be howling in pain for a week if some woman actually did that to me. Any man with his parts intact will be in the emergency room. So this guy must be crazy and missed the lecture that semen is stored in the prostate, not the testicles. They do provide the sperm. Sorry dude, you must be so desperate to have any sexual contact with a woman you want to put yourself in the hospital!
  • Who couldn’t use a housecleaner? I’m sure you’d make time to be home if she cleaned your house in the nude. She’ll also wear panties if you prefer, and I would insist on it during that time of the month. I guess it’s in your interest to do a close inspection of her cleaning techniques. She’s only 20 years old and from Falls Church, so I’m not sure how good she’ll do in cleaning your house, but I’m betting she can clean out your wallet real well.
  • Looks like I found one of the vanishingly few posts from a married woman on Craigslist looking for a bit on the side. She’s 38, she’s black, and she’s looking for one guy not just for sex but — get this — for a mental connection too. It sounds like she is really looking for love. She’s okay with the discretion thing, but if your wife is a drill sergeant, please don’t apply.
  • She’s a 30-year-old woman looking for a woman to get naked with but only if you have an unusually large clitoris. She won’t show you hers in her photo, but you can see her boobs.

So there is nothing particularly kinky this month, but size of key sexual parts seems to be a theme. If you are looking for the desperately unusual post, check out last month’s post.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: August 2014 edition

I’m about to spend eleven days on the road, so to the extent I blog it will be a travelogue. This means I best try to put to bed (so to speak) my monthly critique of Craigslist Casual Encounters (Northern Virginia edition).

I start out with the obligatory statistics. According to Google Analytics, I had at least 322 page views for my Craigslist posts in July, plus views in my feed that are hard to measure. That’s about 15% of my browser traffic, and the numbers are up from June. As for the postings, on the first page of posts I find 35 men looking for women, 44 men looking for men, 2 men looking for a transsexual or transvestite, and 1 man looking for multiple men. Women are underrepresented, of course. 4 women are looking for men; just 1 woman is looking for another woman. 3 couples are looking for other couples. 4 couples are looking for women. 4 transsexuals/transvestites are looking for men and no other combination.

The amazing thing about the posts this month is that I found all these posts in the first half of the web page. Usually I have to dig to find the kinky stuff, at least those posted by women. So the kinky hormones are hitting a crescendo this month, which suggests a baby boomlet nine months from now. The winter doldrums of mediocre posts are clearly behind, so to speak. I am confident I could fill another couple of pages with other highly peculiar posts tonight. I’ll let you explore those for yourself.

  • Today is my lucky day for finding weird posts. Second from the top of the page, here’s a 30-year-old woman somewhere in Northern Virginia who wants a man to take a dump on her. This just goes to prove that no matter how disgusting you think some sexual act is, someone is into it. She prefers men like me: in their 40s and 50s, as well as someone with experience doing this. I would imagine in the latter category, even in a populous area like Northern Virginia, at best you will find only a handful of gentlemen (and I am being tongue in cheek) with experience in something this weird, but who knows? I don’t hang around fetlife.com. The good news is that if you want to do this, she claims to be a hottie: “I am a pretty woman, sincere, easy going who is in great shape – I work hard for it.” At least in one way she is normal: “No one would know I was into this.” Lord, I hope not! If this still doesn’t raise your eyebrows, go read the full ad, because exactly where you do #2 is open to negotiation. As for me, I’m trying to imagine how one times something like this. It would challenge even Harry Houdini. I’m guessing a bottle of Ex-Lax helps.
  • Women’s kinks are definitely coming out this month. Here’s a woman looking for a woman who is into breast play. It sounds like she wants to do the playing. From her photo she is probably modestly endowed in that area, but she is looking to play with breasts that are beyond enormous and from an African American woman only: “When I say very large breasts, I mean G, H, J cup and so on……the bigger the better ;-)” I hope she can keep us abreast on the matter. We’ll be waiting for a “full” report.
  • A 44-year-old, 170-pound white male near Dulles Airport who claims to be a coach is looking for men for his team. He’s in an attractive spandex jockstrap that doesn’t suggest he necessarily can make his own team. “Show coach you have what it takes,” he demands.
  • Most of us in the grocery store have heard announcements like “Cleanup on Aisle 3”. Here’s what I hope is an unusual guy who likes cleaning up the aftereffects of intercourse. But, of course, he is not the least bit weird. “I’m not a pervert In public. I have a professional lifestyle and I keep my sexual lifestyle discreet,” he says. And he plays very safe. He has papers he says, and you need them too. Hopefully the papers he is talking about is not for his dog’s spaying, so check them out couples. Warning: explicit picture.
  • Guys, has your head spun lately while getting a blowjob? Here’s the problem: you are getting head from women, who don’t know exactly how to give perfect head. Gay men know much better, and this guy apparently believes he can make your head spin more than Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist. If for some reason you are not into guy-on-guy sex, she’s a transsexual with real breasts. It’s unclear if you can verify this since “she” will be using “her” gloryhole only. No charge. “She” is not a pro because “my time is free.” “She” could be 99 for all you know because she won’t give her age, just her location: North Arlington. I am betting it is better when you take out the dentures first.
  • I still don’t understand the whole gloryhole fascination on Craigslist. I figure the person (almost always a man) on the other end must be hideous to look at otherwise they wouldn’t bother to go through the trouble of not being seen. Based on my experience as a heterosexual man being on the receiving side, all things being equal, oral sex is much better when your partner is good looking, although your partner’s enthusiasm has a lot to do with satisfaction too. Anyhow, this 35-year-old man has a side-by-side, dual gloryhole. It’s impossible for one person to do this from two gloryholes at the same time, so I’m not sure what the advantage is here, other than perhaps to watch the guy next to you at the same time. Anyhow, this is pretty weird. Is there such competition in gloryhole spots that you have to offer something unique? Warning: explicit picture.
  • This is almost as weird as the first post: here’s a virulently nonsmoking guy who wants to give a smoking woman oral sex, while she is smoking of course. I’m trying really hard but I can’t for the life of me figure out why this would be a turn on.
  • Speaking of cleanups on aisle 3, here’s the reverse of that previous poster: a 32-year-old guy from Ashburn who claims he has not had an orgasm in weeks is looking for a couple to suck him off. It’s not that he’s particularly bisexual, he’s just a realist and knows Craigslist well enough to figure out that two women won’t respond. So he’s willing to compromise. I still doubt he will get any replies except from two guys maybe.
  • Here’s a guy in Culpeper with an explicit photo of his penis. No big deal there, of course, but this 29-year-old man wants to prove just how much manhood he has, so he as a ruler next to it. Only it’s a fuzzy picture so you really can’t tell how well he “measures up”. He just wants to plunge into you right now and no, he won’t host, which most likely means that he is married — or that he lives in a pigsty. Of course, the married thing is rarely an issue with Craigslist casual encounters readers. While the ruler can’t hurt, his is one of so many similar posts it will simply get lost in the pile, and not a whole lot of women in Culpeper are likely to be reading Craigslist on a Saturday night anyhow. Sorry dude, but you’ll find it necessary to take this problem into your own hands for a solution tonight.

Anyhow, in my mind the first poster wins this month’s award for the most bizarre and/or disturbing post. Congrats, or something.

 
The Thinker

The real solution to the child refugee crisis

Approximately 60,000 children so far have traveled alone across our southern border recently to find safety and sanctuary in the United States, with doubtless many more on the way. Just the very idea of doing something like these parents have done – sending their children away alone on their own on a long and dangerous trip to get into the United States — leaves us American parents reeling. How could any parent do this?

If you take the time though to read articles like this one, the only question is why these parents waited so long to do something so desperate. Countries like Honduras are impoverished but that’s hardly new. What’s new are the drug lords, the intense competition between them, and the lawlessness it has caused, which is much worse than anything the Taliban has inflicted. In much of Honduras there is no functioning government and those that function as government are in cahoots with the drug lords. In attempts to gain dominance among rival lords and cartels, children are being forcibly recruited. Failure to say yes could lead to death, rape or many other atrocities. When recruited you may be required not just to peddle drugs and extort people, but maybe kill them as well. Getting to the United States is of course highly dangerous, not to mention expensive to their parents, but it is a rational decision for these parents. It is not just the United States that is getting an influx of child refugees, but other Central American countries as well. These children are fleeing toward safety, not opportunity. They are simply refugees.

The drug trade in Central America is hardly new, but what is new in the increased drug trade in this corridor. This is largely due to success by the Drug Enforcement Administration in the Caribbean at bottling up more traditional ways of transferring illegal drugs via small aircraft and boat. This is not an option in autonomous and landlocked countries in Central America. You know what happens when supply goes down and demand remains the same. Prices go up, which makes it easier to accept risk. Right now that route is through Central America.

The crisis in Honduras has become our crisis on our southern border. It is happening largely due to our country’s addiction to illegal narcotics. When you need a fix, you don’t think about how the drug will get to you, just that you must get high. But money for your fix is being funneled through the fingers of the worst kind of scum, including beasts masquerading as human beings in Honduras who will kill and rape kids, and maybe hack them to death in the street.

It’s reasonable to ask why our country is addicted to these drugs. All countries have this problem to some extent, but our addiction is very high compared to the rest of the world. Some of it is due to the fact that we are relatively prosperous, so we can afford to get high. Of course many of our drug addicts are very poor, and these are typically the ones looking for cheap highs. Heroin seems to be their drug of choice right now.

I believe that much of our addiction to drugs is because so many of us live really painful lives. Our lives are quite stressful, not as stressful as those of children in Honduras obviously, but one constant stress after another. This was made worse of course by the Great Recession when so much of our safety net disappeared. We live in a society that doesn’t cut us much slack. We are expected to do it all. Many of us simply don’t have the skills, education and other talents it takes to fend off this much adversity, if it’s possible at all. The stress becomes oppressive and unrelenting. Aside from the many people who were unemployed from the Great Recession, other traumatic pains are making us reach for a high: feelings of worthlessness, abuse from our spouse, screaming kids and bad neighborhoods. And so we look for escape. Drugs along with other addictions like food, booze, cigarettes and dangerous sex provide a temporary escape from crushing pain. To really feel better many of us need a living wage job, a decent place to call home in a decent neighborhood, and a little TLC from society at large. These are in short supply, in part because our collective wealth has moved toward the wealthy, who don’t feel inclined to spend it on charitable causes like us.

While many Republicans continue to tell us that we must somehow all by ourselves through grit and gumption solve our personal problems, this child refugee crisis proves just the opposite: that we are all related. Worse, because the actions of one affect others, it goes both ways. Our relationships can channel hurt or healing. When our inner pain causes us to visit illicit pushers to get a high, the chain of our pain extends down to the lives of terrorized children and their parents in Honduras, among other places. The relationship is not something symbolic. It is quite tangible. It is the dollar bill.

This refugee crisis is thus best understood as a crisis of failed relationships on many levels. On the national level, it demonstrates our political failure to do the pragmatic thing, which is to legalize drugs. This will not remove the pain of our drug addiction, but it will make addicts get cheaper and probably safer highs. It will squeeze the profit motive out of the drug trade, probably ending it overnight. It’s reasonable to assume that if drugs were decriminalized and regulated within the United States there wouldn’t be a flood of children from Honduras desperately trying to get across our border. And that’s because there would be no drug trade in Honduras, at least not one that would funnel high profit margin drugs into the United States.

I believe decriminalization and hopefully the legalization of these narcotics is the permanent way to end this refugee crisis, not to mention the pointless drug war. Our drug war has always been one where we simply refuse to face the reality of our human nature. As states like Washington State are discovering, legalizing marijuana can be a substantial revenue source, and that money can be used to do lots of good things: like build roads, bridges and schools. That sure beats making miserable the lives of traumatized children in Central America!

Our other option is to send in our army to occupy Honduras. This is at best a temporary solution but it should at least dramatically slow this refugee crisis. It’s the underlying problem that needs to be fixed. Drug decriminalization won’t stop everyone from trying to get across our borders, but it will act as a fire extinguisher and solve the root of this problem.

I wish President Obama had the nerve to tell us Americans the truth and advocated for drug decriminalization and legalization. I am confident that he understands this too but is unnerved by the political incorrectness to say so. If he wanted to be remembered as a true leader, this would be the time to tell us the truth.

 
The Thinker

Unitarian Universalists moved the needle on gay marriage

Marriages between gays or lesbians seem to be a fading issue in this country. In certain parts of the country, particularly in Southern states, the issue is still radioactive. Overall it is succumbing to a number of forces, probably the most important of which is simply demographics. The people that care the most about it are dying, and those who are comfortable with it tend to be younger.

Still, it is remarkable how quickly the tables have turned. Just a few years ago I was hearing from friends who were against gay marriage that only unelected judges were allowing gay marriage, not the people. “In every state where voters have had a say, it’s been turned down.” That’s no longer true, as Maine voters approved gay marriage by referendum in 2012. We have legislators paid to make these decisions. Vermont, of course, was the first to have civil unions and was the first to legalize gay marriage in 2009, over the veto of Governor Douglas. Legislators in New Hampshire and the District of Columbia followed Vermont’s lead in 2009. In 2011, New York State joined the club. In 2012 it was Washington State. In 2013, the floodgates opened. Legislators approved gay marriage in Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii and Illinois.

Gay marriage is now legal in 17 states, and it is being disputed in court in states you would not expect, like Tennessee, Utah and Indiana. These rulings were prompted by last year’s Supreme Court decision in Windsor v. United States, which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. The ruling made lawful gay marriages legal for federal purposes. And because of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. constitution, many federal judges are invalidating state marriage laws against gay marriage. The Supreme Court will likely get to rule on the issue again, which last year was narrowly tailored. While our Supreme Court tends to be conservative, it has a libertarian streak. It is likely that within a few years that laws or state constitutional amendments outlawing gay marriage in the United States will become null and void, like sodomy laws.

This kind of rapid change is pretty breathtaking, even for me. In 2006, I disparaged my state of Virginia. In 2005, Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage in the state. That seemed to cement prejudice into law for decades. I wrote:

Yet the time of their repeal will come eventually. It may take 50 years. It may take a hundred years. Yet it will happen in time, yes even here in Virginia. Just as we once hung our heads in shame for tolerating evils like slavery, just as we flagrantly hung on to white and black only schools as recently as 1964, the time will come when we will look back on these sad modern times wholly aghast that we could have ever been so shallow, intolerant and mean spirited.

So how is Virginia doing with the whole gay marriage thing in 2014? Due to the Supreme Court’s decision, our Democratic Attorney General refuses to enforce that part of our state constitution, but that’s kind of moot at the moment. That’s because in February, our federal district court in Bostic v. Rainey invalidated our state’s constitutional amendment. The judged stayed the ruling on appeal. The case went to the Fourth Circuit Court, which heard oral arguments on May 13. It’s likely the ruling will be upheld. Since our Attorney General won’t appeal the ruling if it is upheld, gay marriage will likely be legal in Virginia sometime this year. In short, it looks like it will have taken eight years, not 50. Meanwhile, the polling here in Virginia has totally switched in eight years. According to a Quinnipiac poll released March 31, fifty percent of Virginia voters favor gay marriage, with 42 percent opposed.

While some of this is due to demographic forces, it’s also due in part to a lot of people being very noisy on the issue. Most Americans get it. They may find gay marriage morally repugnant, but they can’t get over the fairness argument. It’s simply not fair to extend to one class of citizen privileges not afforded to another, and it sure appears to be a violation of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to do so. Increasingly most of those disgusted by gay marriage are simply willing to hold their nose rather than fight it. There’s also the general sense that fighting it is futile.

How did this happen so fast? It happened because of a convergence of various forces as well as demographics. I am proud to say that my denomination, Unitarian Universalism, was the point of the spear on this issue, at least as a social movement. Back in 2009, I wrote about our national convention that I attended in conservative Utah. We took over the convention center in Salt Lake City and had an eight story banner “Standing on the Side of Love” going down the side of the convention center. It was bold, breathtaking and in 2009 felt pretty futile, particularly since we had converged on the bright red state of Utah.

The banner since then has been everywhere. It is hard to find pictures of any march anywhere for gay marriage without seeing the banner. In demonstrations and marches, the banner is prominent, with mostly Unitarian Universalists (UUs) carrying the banner. It’s not a hard message to grasp: UUs take the side of love, not hate. The banner is still in use, and its use is not just to help gays and lesbians acquire marital rights. It is also being used for the many of us UUs that support immigrant rights, and other endeavors that require love and compassion as a solution. Of course, the movement is more than a banner, it’s people, and our current president as well as past president has been leading our denomination on the issue.

I wish I could point to other great successes like this among UUs. There have been many prominent UUs throughout the years (including Florence Nightingale and Charles Darwin) and more than a few presidents, but as leaders of social change we have often been laggards. (I am thinking about racial tolerance and sexism in particular.) That has changed. UUs have proven instrumental at moving the needle on this fundamental issue of civil rights and fairness. UUs everywhere, but the Standing on the Side of Love team in particular, have certainly earned my gratitude. I’ve never been prouder to be a UU.

I hope we can keep this streak going and keep moving our country toward acting as if love and compassion is the core of who we are as a nation. We are now trying to move the needle on the child refugee crisis on our southern border, among other issues. I hope that you will join us.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: July 2014 edition

Those wondering if I would stop these monthly reviews of Craigslist’s casual encounters area now have an answer: no, at least not quite yet. I count at least 311 page requests for my Craigslist content in the last thirty days, which is more than ten percent of my overall page views, so it’s reason to keep at this. Moreover, 31 of those were for June’s post and 18 were for May’s. These posts also write themselves; so I don’t have to think too much, just scan the ads for more lurid titles and flag the ones that look particularly unusual. For statistics purposes I see in the first page of listings:

  • 44 men looking for men
  • 38 men looking for women
  • 5 men looking for couples
  • 5 men looking for transvestites/transgender
  • 5 women looking for men
  • 5 women looking for women
  • 3 couples looking for women

While this content is clearly not high art, it does appeal to those of us with prurient or just bizarre tastes and I have some. So here we go with an Independence Day weekend review of the Northern Virginia edition of Craigslist Casual Encounters:

  • There seems to be an oversupply of wimpy husbands these days. Women want a man to take charge. Here’s a 27-year-old woman who rather than seek some marriage counseling wants you (a guy) to come on over and show both of them who’s boss, i.e. screw her while he watches, except he doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with this. I don’t care how horny you are, you can feel the bad karma. Just how many times do you want to reincarnate and go through these pathetic scenarios anyhow?
  • Most women on their period simply take out the Kotex. Some women though see mensuration is an opportunity for kinky sex. If the idea of mensuration plus cunnilingus appeals to you, check this 48-year-old woman out. Perhaps this would appeal to you if you like your steaks cooked rare.
  • Here’s a woman, age unknown that wants a date. She is looking for romance. Clearly she has no idea of what Craigslist Casual Encounters is about. Doubtless from her inbox stuffed with crass one-liners and penis pictures, she does now. She apparently is a firefighter, but I don’t think she is trained to put out these kinds of fires. Maybe she should hook up with this firefighter who may be sleeping in the next bunk.
  • Ms. Right Now wants her orifices filled up right now and you can see some of them in her X-rated picture. It has to be tonight and it has to be in Titusville, yes Titusville, Florida, not Northern Virginia, which is 841 miles away and 12 hours and 11 minutes away by car according to Google Maps. Good lucks guys. May the fastest hot rod win.
  • There are actually some successful casual encounters on Craigslist. This 27-year-old woman from Alexandria fondly remembers those with a man named Michael S. Apparently they were well acquainted with every NoTel Motel between Alexandria and Fredericksburg. She’s actually hoping he hasn’t reformed because she wants one more close encounter of the kinky kind.
  • She is probably a guy but anyhow he’s looking to sell his girlfriend’s panties while she is out of town. He promises that you can at least see a picture of whose intimates you will be sniffing. I’m gathering he ran out of drug money and I am hoping she is running away from this loser for good.
  • Another bi-curious 21-year-old blonde looking for a woman, but whose picture will break men’s hearts. She wants to be shown the ropes, but curiously doesn’t indicate any curiosity about bondage.
  • I’m trying to figure out why a guy would buy a Sybian. Moreover, from the title of the ad he’s only 20 years old. If you actually read the ad you will learn that he’s actually in his early 30s. In any event, it looks cheap and no matter how good the vibrations, this doesn’t look worth $1,345.
  • She’s a very generous 26-year-old wife: she wants to give her husband the pleasure of a threesome. You must be a woman under 35.
  • The whole adult nursing relationship thing is new to me, and I’m pretty sure I was weaned too early. Here’s a 32-year-old man from Fairfax Station who must have skipped the experience altogether and wants to make up for lost time. Apparently all the woman has to do is take her top off. It’s not sex I guess if it’s only breast play.
  • I’m not sure but I think he’s an aspiring actor for The Bing Bang Theory. Anyhow he’s 26, geeky as all get out, with big dorky glasses and he wants his first anal experience, presumably with a woman.
  • He’s a 21-year-old “straight” looking for oral sex from a guy, but only with a condom on but to hedge his bets you must also be clean. This “straight” guy needs to watch Kinsey because he ain’t.
  • Ugh. This nearby 60-year-old gay man is looking to perform oral sex with Latino guys only. It’s not their ethnicity that bothers me, but that he also wants to be urinated all over. Oral sex I understand, but I just don’t get the whole urination as kink thing. Uncircumcised is preferred.
  • Can 35-year-old men be “boys”? I guess they can in the crazy world of Craigslist. This submissive “boy”, who is actually 40, is still looking for his daddy. I hope he isn’t bothered if his older man has erectile dysfunction too, because that’s likely to be the case.
  • Bi-curious goes both ways. A local 48-year-old married man is looking for a guy for oral sex. He won’t host naturally and car play is not his thing. I’m hoping he doesn’t have regular sex with his wife.

More next month.

 
The Thinker

Give ‘em heaven, Kate

Religions are supposed to be about love and finding God. Sadly too many of them, if not most of them, are far more concerned about getting their believers to march in lockstep with them than embracing them in loving ways. The latest somber case in point is the excommunication of Kate Kelly, who believes that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (i.e. the Mormons) should ordain women and allow them to direct the church.

Naturally it was an all-male panel of senior bishops that decided on her excommunication. At least they were clear about her real sin: she was promoting her beliefs, which were okay as long as she didn’t actually express them. In his excommunications letter to Kelly, Bishop Mark Harrison wrote: “You are entitled to your views, but you are not entitled to promote them and proselyte others to them while remaining in full fellowship in the church.” These merciful clerics though did open the possibility that she could rejoin the church, providing she repents long enough and consistently tows the line. In other words: shut up already, keep shutting up and keep telling people you were wrong.

Dogmatic religions tend to excommunicate people all the time. Pope Francis recently excommunicated the Italian Mafia. Thus it’s not particularly surprising that Kate Kelly also suffered this fate. Still, to those of us outside this faith, this decision sure smells. What crazy reasoning justifies this belief? Well, Jesus only chose male apostles, hence there must be something unworthy about having women as clerics because men, well, must know better! How condescending this is, particularly given the poor record of male clerics within institutions like the Catholic Church. If I were a Catholic, I would sure want my kid to have a female priest. I might feel safe leaving him or her alone with the priest in the sanctuary.

Kate Kelly is guilty of a number of “sins”. These include understanding the logical fallacy of this argument, understanding that no God worth worshipping would require such a silly restriction, understanding that women are equal in all ways with men and inferior in no ways, understanding that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and understanding that the Mormon Church, like all churches, is an institution made up of flawed human beings and thus can only aspire to be holy, but is not actually holy or flawless. A church is a human institution that aspires to bring people closer to God. Given its imperfect nature, it must from time to time review how it’s doing and see if it fits the current reality.

The reality of the 19th century when Mormonism was founded was that women did not have the right to vote or much else in the way of rights so it’s not surprising Mormon dogma echoed these beliefs. It found what it thought was a foundation from the Bible. These facts were also true when Jesus walked the planet. It was true in Abraham’s time when he had multiple wives and when losing your virginity before marriage would require that you be stoned to death. In two millenniums, we have come to understand that women are equal partners. Thus they have the inherent same rights as men to everything. Kate Kelly is guilty of knocking on the Mormon Church’s door and reminding them of this obvious fact. In short, Mormonism needs a little revising because it isn’t optimally serving the needs of its members, and some of its teachings are undercutting its essential message.

I wish Kate Kelly lived nearby so I could give her a hug. She could use a lot of hugs. I wish I could also get her to see that she is better off without Mormonism as it is currently practiced. Mormonism really needs a dose of Protestantism. It’s largely as cloistered and insular as the Catholic Church was prior to the Reformation. During the Reformation, of course, the dichotomy between the church’s teachings, its actual practices and the needs of its parishioners became too large to tolerate anymore. Protestants discovered that they had power greater than the Catholic Church. When enough people stand up and demand changes, new denominations emerge when existing religions won’t adapt. If enough Mormons stand up with Kate Kelly, and more importantly boycott the faith until its leaders see the light, the Mormon Church will see the error of its ways as well.

Yell like hell, Kate, but do in a loving way that shows your better nature and the truth of your position. Yell outside the gates of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. Yell outside their conclaves. Reach out to every liberal Mormon you can find, and there are plenty of them. Have the nerve to worship separately and call yourself with a new name, perhaps the Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Show that you offer a better way. Network. Like Harvey Milk, it will be lonely for a while, but if your cause is just and your work sincere, you will in time triumph. And if the Mormon Church insists on totally denying reality, let it shrivel. It’s better off dead than to be so fundamentally wrong.

I believe that when enough people simply vote with their feet and leave the church that they will see the light. And you, the excommunicated, will be revealed as a woman who had the courage to put the church on a path that actually makes it more inclusive and a better institution.

Yell like hell, but realize that you are actually giving them heaven, and bringing them closer to God.

 

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