Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Find Your Lack of Faith...Understandable...

Have you ever wondered if some people simply lack the capacity for faith?

I look at all these people who just...*believe*, whether it's a faith that they grew up in or one that they chose later in their lives and I wonder, honestly, how they manage to do that. How do they manage to ignore all the other possible explanations for what they're basing their faith on?

I can't seem to manage it. There are a few faiths (and they're wildly divergent in some cases) that I look at and I think - I could do that. I could get behind that. It's simple enough and I could live a good life following something like that. But I'm very conscious of the fact that I would simply be making a choice without having any actual faith in that choice.

It all looks and feels the same to me, after a certain point. Still I feel the need to make a choice and I'm not really sure why.

I see all these different conversion (to different faiths) stories and I *envy* those people at the same time I'm puzzled by them. They've had their moment of blinding revelation, even when it's slow building and perhaps more rational than others. They believe enough to stick with it and be certain of it. So why can they have that and others not?

I sometimes wonder if my own capacity for rationalization/explanation and lying/storytelling works against me here. I'm capable of making pretty much anything make sense. I've convinced people that things were true when I've known for a fact that they weren't. So knowing the malleability of 'truth', how can I trust anything when it's all just stories that have been handed down?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Raising Your Kids with a Diverse Religious Experience

So Eve and I went out to lunch yesterday and of course she brought Evesdottir with her. Evesdottir is doing very well, by the way. She's two months old and she's growing like a weed. She's a little over 10 lbs now, so she's gained three pounds since she was born and she's 23 inches long. She's so cute, and rather well behaved. She slept all through lunch, then woke up when we were putting her in the car. Evesdottir still isn't quite sure that her hands are attached to her, so when they flail around in front of her eyes she's absolutely fascinated. :)

We somehow managed to get on the topic of religion and what they were going to do about Evesdottir's education in it. Eve and Kyle are not religious themselves. They're not atheists or even agnostics, but neither of them are observant of the faiths they were raised in. Eve was raised Methodist and Kyle Seventh Day Adventist. However Kyle's parents are observant and if they're ever watching Evesdottir on a Saturday, which is sort of likely and inevitable, they'll be taking her with them to church.

Eve was saying that she doesn't have a problem with that, the key is making sure that that's not Evesdottir's only exposure to religion. That she needs to be exposed to different denominations and faiths in enough depth that she can develop her own opinions and base any beliefs she chooses to have (or not to have) on that and not just on being raised one way and that's that. We compared childhood religious exposure on this and Eve really came out ahead.

But the question is how? How do you manage to give a child a balance enough view of different religions? I was thinking that you could almost pick a certain length of time, say a year, and explore a denomination/religion for that year. That seems to me to be enough time to gain a fair grasp of the ins and outs of a faith, though of course not everything can be understood in that period of time.

But I don't know. There are, of course, flaws in any plan.

So what would you do? If you had kids, how would you raise them to give them an appreciation and understanding of different faiths? Or if you have kids, what are you planning on doing?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lot and my opinions thereof

This is something that has always bugged me, so you get to listen to my latest mini-rant about it.

The Muslims, when reading the Bible, are horrified by many things that are said about people whom they consider prophets. For example, Lot. They look at the story of Lot and his daughters and they're horrified, dismayed, disgusted, etc. After all, at the least Lot is supposed to be a good, righteous man and there he is, getting sloshed and having sex with his own daughters.

On the one hand, I can kind of understand the reaction. On the other, I think that they must not be reading the same text that I'm reading.

Here's part of the Genesis passages on Lot:

30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
37 And the first born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

Got it? Now of course the whole story goes back a deal further, it's actually all of Genesis 19. But the story is fairly well known, I believe. Lot lives in Sodom, which is a city that is drowning in its own wickedness and vice. There is some dispute over what, exactly, the Sodomites do that finally breaks the camels back as it were, but whatever it was, God decides that enough is enough and he's wiping them off the planet. Kind of like a bug bomb.

He hustles Lot and family out of town, since Lot is the only righteous man there. His wife and daughters' relative righteousness aren't really discussed, but one can guess that since Lot's wife made the mistake of looking back and got turned into a pillar of salt that she was either a) attached to the lifestyle there or b) worried about all the people that she liked there and how everyone she ever knew was getting cooked. One of those two.

So you have this family, running out of town as it all burns down around them, in the middle of nowhere. Mom turns into a pillar of salt, leaving two traumatised children (the girls are unmarried but of childbearing age, so let's call it 13/14 at the most back in the day) and their father.

Here's the key to my understanding of the girls' behavior. They thought that they were the last people on the planet. The last. Not just in town, or in the general vicinity, but on earth. They had no idea that it was only Sodom and Gomorrah that were being destroyed. Clearly Daddy Lot did not explain it to them for whatever reason. Add to that that incest of certain degrees was acceptable at the time, and it carried less of a taboo for them than it does for us. They were looking at the world, seeing one man and two women and wondering how the human race was supposed to continue being fruitful and multiplying. 

I'm not saying that what they decided to do was *right*, just that they were working from a different mindset and faulty information.

What they decide to do is essentially roofie their father and then rape him.

Because that's what it's called when you get someone stinking drunk and have sex with them without their consent.

Did Lot get drunk? Yes. But it's not clear how willing a participant he was in that. With Lot being all super righteous, he may not have ever taken alcohol before. He may have not realized that they were plying him with stronger than what he was used to. And even if he did willingly drink himself into a stupor, having just witnessed a genocide and the death of his wife by salting, it's kind of understandable that he might want to just black out and wake up tomorrow.

Not very wise, but understandable.

It doesn't make him at fault for what happened next.

So...yeah. In a round about way, that's what bothers me about the Muslim issue with the story of Lot in the Bible. They view it as such a slur on Lot's behavior, that such a man could never be a prophet, but just...I don't see where (aside from the alcohol thing, which I get but there's some room there to say that he might not have known what exactly was going down) Lot did anything wrong.

I might get in trouble for saying it was his daughters at fault, but that's the way I see it. They forced sex on him, not the other way around.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Silliness and then a serious question. But you have to get through the silliness first.

Black Widow to Captain America (after Thor nabs Loki out of the Quinjet and Tony jumps out after them): You don't want to get caught up in that. They're from Norse legend! They're basically gods!

Captain America (as he jumps out of the plane): There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that.

How my boys dress. There's nothing wrong with it. Look at Loki's coat! So much gorgeousness!

I can't be the only one who thought, 'No, he dresses like this:

'Now which one is sillier? Yeah. That's right. My boys wear *armour*.

Okay, ridiculousness. over. Time for the serious question. Is anyone reading this familiar with the history of Islam in the US? In the sense that they'd be able to tell me how likely it would be for someone in the 1940s to convert to Islam and serve in WWII? I may need this information for a story I'm thinking about writing. So it's not critical information or anything...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fanfic Has Ruined Me, or Books Should Come with Kink Listings & Trigger Warnings

a/k/a: More than most of you *ever* wanted to know about fanfic

*Note: This post is being written under the influence of frappucino. You've been warned.

So in the fanfic world it is generally considered polite (read: required), though not everyone does it, to include kink tags and warnings on your fics if any apply. There are plenty of fics to which none of this applies of course, but if you *do* write fic that contains kinks which might squick (turn people off) or interest people, you list them. It's partially how people find fics that they want to read and how people know which fics that they don't want to read. With any other content that is not necessarily sexual in nature but might trigger someone reading it, you list it as a 'Warning'.

For example, a kink listing could be: D/s, possessiveness, biting, bondage. Or it could be something as 'benign' as 'sleepy sex on the deck'. It doesn't have to necessarily be something that the majority of people find 'kinky' because as I said, it's basically used as a way to know if you're going to be interested in the action inside of the fic or not.

Warnings are a little bit more important. There are some things that should be warned for automatically. Things that could trigger a bad reaction in people reading the fic. For example: rape, incest, dubious consent, character death, suicide or suicidal thoughts/ideation, violence, eating disorders (anorexia, bulemia, etc.), mental illness, abuse, kidnapping.... The list could go on and on. But I think you get the idea, right? Things that a person could have issues with. As a real life example, my home town was hit by a hurricane several years ago. I was here for it and it was bad. We were personally lucky - though there was damage to our house, we still had a house standing and most of a roof afterward. Many of our neighbors weren't so lucky, and some people died. For a good while after the hurricane, I was unable to watch anything on television portraying catastrophic storms without feeling nauseated and anxious in a way that I hadn't felt before the hurricane hit us. So I wound up turning those shows off until they no longer caused that reaction in me.

Okay then. These things are, as I said, considered basic courtesy at the least, absolute required etiquette at the most in the fanfic world. (There are, of course, people who don't realize this, or miss listing something. There's not really a handbook and people have to learn by observing and interacting.)

No such rules apply in books. So you can pick up a book and have no idea that there might be something in there that will squick you or trigger you. And I think that that's kind of...not shitty, but I think it's something that maybe the mainstream, the 'norms', can learn from us and adapt. I came to this realization while reading a book last night. It's called 'A Private Hunger' by Sean Michaels and it's m/m story.

This is the back of the book blurb, which is really what most people use to decide whether they want to pick up the book or not. That and the cover:

"Matthew is taking a break before going to university, working at a cafe in Seattle. He's expecting to spend a few months meeting people, having fun and generally living it up before hitting the books. Then he meets Drakon, a passionate, masculine man with an animal magnetism that draws Matthew in. When Drakon offers Matt a job, he thinks the man is full of shit. But it soon turns out to be an offer he can't refuse. As Matthew moves in with Drakon on his country estate, he slowly finds himself cut off from the world. He begins to wonder if that animal magnetism is more literal than figurative and he thinks maybe Dragon would be a better name for his new lover. His only friend seems to be Drakon's butler, Wetthers, an old man with a gentle demeanor and a sympathetic ear. But even Wetthers can't save him from the near-obsessive need he has for Drakon, or from the danger that lurks right on the edge of his new life. Soon, Matt begins to wonder if he'll ever have the will to tell Drakon no. About anything. Will Matthew stay with the man he's growing to love once he discovers Drakon's long-lived, carefully guarded secret?"

Typical romance novel schpiel, essentially. Here's the thing. I'm...*checks* 66 pages into the book and if this was fanfic it would need so *many* kink listings and warnings.

The blurb is actually kind of misleading, in a way. When I read it, I came away with the impression that Matthew eventually takes Drakon's offer of employment and that their romance builds from there. What *actually* happens is that Matthew turns down Drakon (a totally random stranger who walks up to him and says, 'come work for me!' within two seconds of meeting him), then just happens to get beat up where Drakon finds and rescues him. Actually, that's pretty standard romance novel too, the fortuitous rescue. Where it gets kink and warning worthy is when Drakon takes Matthew home, keeps him drugged unconscious 'for his own good' while he heals, and then manipulates him into staying every time he tries to leave to get back to his life. There's also the part where Drakon keeps thinking that if Matthew actually tries to leave he's going to have to *eat him*. And not in the fun way people. Not in the fun way. And how something Drakon does keeps somehow overwriting what Matthew intends to do and makes him forget why he wants to do it in the first place.

I'm not saying it's a good book, mind you. I'm not too impressed with it at this point, but I'm not even half way through it. But for the love of god, this book needs warnings and a freaking kink listing. Abduction, drugging, dubious consent at best, manipulation. Creeper behavior in an (admittedly) non human character. Possessiveness. Animalistic behavior. There's probably going to be some BDSM at some point, I'm sure.

Happily, none of these things are triggery for me. But what about the people for whom they are? Reviews don't mention these things. It's not on the blurb. I think that people deserve to be warned, that they deserve to have the option to see what they're getting into and know if they want to read about that kind of kink or not.

So, yeah. TLDR: Books should come with kink listings and trigger warnings.

ETA: And the book just keeps getting worse. Let's add stalking and controlling behavior to the list. *headdesk*

Monday, May 7, 2012

Regularly Scheduled Things Will Resume Never

I saw the Avengers twice this weekend.

And then I wrote Avengers fic.

So yeah. That happened.

Also, it made $207.4 million dollars its opening weekend. Because it's Just. That. Incredible.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

*My* god.

There is nothing about this picture I don't like. :D

Hey, did you know that it's AVENGERS DAY? DID YOU? WELL YOU DO NOW!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Day 1

First, and most importantly, 2 DAYS LEFT!

I know. I'm excited too, boys!


As I was saying. So today is May 1st. I've decided, with the help of Heather, to try a little experiment. I've been considering, for a while, trying a vegetarian diet to see what that does with my health. Not that my health is bad, but I know several people who have switched to vegetarian or mostly vegetarian diets who have experienced some benefits in the realm of weightloss, etc. But my problem is that I am 99% certain that I would not be able to be a vegetarian.

I *like* meat and I don't have any moral qualms about eating something that was alive and had a face. So there's really nothing keeping me from eating meat if I get the urge. And I would get the urge.

So rather than trying to go whole hog vegetarian I'm trying a month of having one 'vegetarian' meal a day. The easiest meal for me to do that with is lunch, so there you go.

I say 'vegetarian' in quotes because there's some debate over what counts as meat. Mostly what I mean by that is that Heather says eggs count and I say they don't. I'm going to do my best to avoid having the egg in my salad, but I'm not going to rule it out entirely since I think I'll get sick of nuts and beans. Or, in this case, not have any ready because I am a slacker. So today there's a chopped up hard boiled egg in my salad.

We'll see how this goes.

ETA: Note: Salads without meat = less than satisfying and delicious. Just for the record.
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