Friday, December 28, 2012

As Piers Morgan Says, So Shall be Done

You probably think this post is going to be about gun control. Well, you’re wrong. 

I don’t know when he said it, but Piers Morgan said that “Both the Bible and the Constitution were well intentioned but they are basically, inherently flawed. Hence the need to amend it.” Morgan was referring to amending the Bible to have a more favorable view of homosexuality. 

I know some people are outraged by the mere mention of amending the Bible, to those people I ask, “What version of the Bible to do you think you’re reading?” Some people have probably never wondered why the current version of the Bible is called the King James Version. The simple answer is because King James commissioned it and cherry picked the stories that he wanted to be included. That means that some biblical stories were edited out of the Bible. There were other versions of the Bible before King James, and there have been a few versions after, but most Americans are familiar with the King James Version. 

Another aspect of concern for people, who don’t want to amend the Bible, should be the fact that the original text of the Bible was not in English. Scholars translated the stories from Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Even today, some sentiments are lost in translation. I find it amusing that people think the Bible is immune from that. I again point to the King James Version.  The King James Version was the third English translation to be approved by the English Church. That means there were two previously approved versions and who knows how many other unapproved translations. If the Bible was immune from being poorly translated, why did the English Church keep translating it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Bible. I’m a Christian. I do believe in God, but I refuse to put all of my faith in God’s words as translated by man because I know that man is flawed and by extension, any work done at the hands of man will inherit his flaws. 

Okay, now back on topic, Reverend Pearson of San Francisco’s Holy Innocents Church has translated the Bible in to more gay friendly words. He argues that “homosexuality was first overtly mentioned in the Bible in 1946 in the Revised Standard Version” and that “there is no mention of or reference to homosexuality in any Bible prior to this—only interpretations have been made.” I haven’t done my research on this one, so I can neither support nor deny his claims, but I can point out that the Revised Standard Version is yet another revision to the Bible. Sometimes just changing one word can alter the meaning of an entire phrase. Imagine what has happened to the Bible after all of the “revisions” that it has undergone.

Now I’d like to blame my ninth grade history teacher for my critical opinion of the Bible. He had our class examine the leading religious texts and the regions that the texts emerged from. He had us evaluate the history of those regions and compare it to the various texts. People read Leviticus 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” and go for the literal idea and argue that homosexuality is a sin because it is an abomination. The first thing I want to point out is that “abomination” is an English word that was used to translate Hebrew words that had varying degrees. Abomination does not reflect degrees. The second thing I want to point out is that what people often fail to consider is the time when this verse was allegedly written. During that time, building a strong population was vital for survival. Homosexual relationships did not result in children and thus, they were discouraged. Homosexual relationships were viewed as morally wrong because they put self above the need of the people. Given the current population of the world, I think it’s safe to say that we no longer need a provision to ensure that our civilizations continue. American Christians and all Christians actually, can relax. Job well done! Now it’s time to reevaluate things.

It’s also time for me come down off my soapbox. I’m done. Hopefully the sentiment of this post doesn’t get lost in translation.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

God Hates Fags and Apparently Human Decency Too

I’m all for liberty and freedom of speech, but there’s this thing called tact that some people seem to lack. The Westboro Baptist Church proudly hates fags. They are and no, I’m not trying to be facetious, that is their website. We are in America so I respect their right to their opinions and they can put whatever hateful, cruel comments they want on their website and other forms of social media. They can have sermons so filled with hate that Hitler would shake in his boots. I’m actually okay with them doing that because they are entitled to their opinions.  However, I draw the line at them whoring themselves for publicity at the expense of grieving families. 

In case you haven’t heard, members of the Westboro Baptist Church are planning to picket the funerals of those 20 children who were killed in Newtown. I hope that they change their mind, but based on their track record, I think it’s safe to say that they will bring their disrespectful selves to at least one of the funerals or vigils. They will torment at least one of the families and make an already unbearable day even worse. They will do so in the name of God because they have been on a 25 year mission to help Americans repent their sins and save their souls. The church believes that God hates America for its liberal ways and shootings and natural disasters in America are God enacting his wrath. 

I find irony in the fact that it is America’s liberal laws that protect the church’s right to protest at funerals. The church has protested at the funerals of some soldiers for years. The first time I heard about them, they were protesting outside of a soldier’s funeral and they had signs that read “God hates fags” and “God hates America.” I found out this morning that despite the fact that they openly peddle hate, they are not considered a hate group. I guess the government is afraid of calling them a hate group and being accused of not respecting religious freedom since the group claims that it is God doing the hating, and not them.

I want to take a moment to send my condolences to all of the families that have been touched by the Newtown Massacre. What happened was inexcusable and indefensible and what the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are planning to do is even worse. How dare they seek to disrupt your time of mourning by invading your town and trying to use your tragedy as a means to spread their message. It would be nice if the media denied the group the attention that it so desperately wants. The media should ignore them and not take a single picture of the picketing.

I wish the congregants of Westboro Baptist Church would pack their bags and flee America just as Lot and his family fled Sodom and Gomorrah. The church members don’t have to wait for an angel to come and tell them that God is angered by the actions of Americans. The church members already know that God is angry and that Americans are the reason, so I think they should leave us to suffer the hell that we brought on ourselves. 

On a side note, I do have a few words about free speech. If I said that I wanted to kill the president, the Secret Service could come hunt me down. If I yelled, “fire” in a crowded theater, I could be arrested. If I lied under oath, I could be prosecuted for perjury. If my words tarnished someone or some company’s reputation and I didn’t have evidence to support my claims, I could be taken to civil court for slander. If I said or did something ignorant or malicious on the internet, I could potentially be fired from my job. Of course there are other examples as well, but my point is that free speech already has limits so why was the Supreme Court afraid to add another limit? I don’t think any group should be allowed to protest at funerals. I think it is tasteless and not worthy of being a “right” in this country. Families and friends should be allowed to mourn and grieve for their loved one in peace. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church shouldn’t be allowed to picket the funerals of the victims, just like angry parents and strangers shouldn’t be allowed to picket the funeral of the shooter if there is one. Funerals are not for the dead; funerals are for the living that the dead left behind.

I apologize for the length of this post but I was so upset when I read that anyone would dare to try to capitalize on such a tragic event. The Westboro Baptist Church needs to seek attention elsewhere because Newtown is neither the time nor the place. I implore the members of Westboro Baptist Church not to sink to the level of ambulance chasers: Give your message from a distance, but don’t set foot in that town. Let Newtown grieve in peace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What’s in a Color?

Look at the picture below: 

Those shoes don’t warrant a second glance until I tell you that the person wearing them is a boy. I caught wind of this story earlier today. A mother allowed her son to wear pink shoes for his first day of preschool. The mother told the little boy that the shoes were made for girls and according to the article that I read, the little boy responded, “ninjas can wear pink shoes too.” Why couldn’t that be the end of the discussion?  The mother posted the picture on Facebook and some of her friends and family immediately criticized her decision to allow her little boy to wear pink shoes. Some people were concerned that the mother was subjecting her son to being ostracized and bullied and her actions would one day make the little boy gay. To all those people, I’d like to point out one very important fact: we are talking about a preschooler. It’s adults that have the problem. Adults are giving too much thought to the shoes. Why should a preschooler suffer because the adults around him want to place their baggage on his tiny shoulders? Kids aren’t born thinking that pink is for girls. Kids are taught that. There are no girl colors or boy colors just like there are no girl toys or boy toys, but society perpetuates the myth that there are. If I judged things from what I saw on television, I would think that boys play with action figures and girls play with dolls. I would think that boys like dump trucks and girls like easy bake ovens. I’m not saying that some children aren’t naturally drawn to certain types of toys, but I am saying that society tells children which toys they should prefer. All the little boy knows is that he likes the shoes. If you are truly concerned that kids might bully him about his shoes then why not talk to your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews or whoever and let them know that people have the right to like different things and it is not cool to tease a boy because he likes a pair of pink shoes.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Schools are not the Place to Teach…About Tolerance

I recently read an article about a Michigan teacher who was suspended for three days without pay because she allowed one of her middle school students to play a song that supports gay marriage (Michigan TeacherSuspended for Letting Student Play Gay-Themed Song in Class). One of the other students in the class was offended by the song and reported it to administration and the teacher was punished. I’m not sure if the school understands the message that they sent to the teacher and all of her students: teaching about being tolerant of gay people is offensive and has no place in the classroom. I’m sure that is not the intended message, but that is how it seems. I’m assuming the school has a zero tolerance policy because those can be over the top sometimes. The song did use the word “faggot.” Perhaps that violated the school rules. If so, then I hope the school is fully enforcing that rule. I hope every time “gay” is used as an insult in that building and every time any student dares to utter the word “faggot,” consequences are swift and appropriate.

I read the article and I wondered what the other students in the class thought about the song. I wondered how the kid who played the song felt. I wondered if the class had a discussion about the song or if they just listened to it and moved on. The song is a good teaching moment for any class because there are so many things in it that can be discussed. The teacher didn’t have to say what was right or wrong, but she could have facilitated a class discussion. The school suspended Johnson because the song contained “controversial content, including homosexuality, religion, political views, and a sexual slur.” I wonder if the school even cared about the message. Most middle school students can go see PG-13 movies without their parents. If the same ratings were applied to songs, “Same Love” would probably be PG, but at its worst, it would be PG-13. The content might be controversial, but it isn’t inappropriate for middle school kids and it wasn’t the teacher who wanted to present the song to the class, it was a student. I’m sure there was a reason why the student selected that song. I could understand the outrage if the song had been profanity laced or made vulgar references, but none of that is there. I have included the song below so that you can judge for yourself:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Give Male Friends a Spectrum Too

I’ve been reading a few articles online about Abraham Lincoln and speculation that he was either gay or bisexual. The part of the articles that struck me was the idea that men shared beds with other men during Lincoln’s time and it wasn’t frowned on by other people. Men were allowed to be homosocial towards each other without being ostracized. The articles acknowledged that men often shared beds because of economic reasons, but I was stuck on the idea that it happened at all. How did society change so much in the wrong direction? Now you can barely get away with admitting to share a bed with a male family member and you certainly shouldn’t publicly admit to sharing a bed with another man who isn’t related to you. 

This is another one of those gender based double standards that exist in America. Women can hold hands, go to the bathroom together, share beds with each other, dance with each other and kiss and not be considered lesbians. It’s unfair that women are free to be homosocial but men are not. The same privileges need to be extended to men. The root of the issue isn’t about being gay or straight. Maybe Lincoln had close relationships with men because he was gay or maybe he had close relationships with men because society allowed him to show his love for other men in intimate ways. Our current societal code of conduct for straight men robs them of the option to be openly intimate with each other. I’m not referring to sexual intimacy, but rather the closeness that is sometimes seen between two women. Why can’t two straight male best friends walk down a street holding hands or arm in arm and not have to deal with explaining their friendship to everyone who sees them? 

We have made a few strides towards the right direction. I’m a fan of the term “bromance” because it affirms that a man can be in love with another man without wanting anything from him sexually. It is possible for people to be drawn to each other and to feel deeply connected to each other without wanting each other. It would be nice if male friendships were allowed to exist on a spectrum. Some friends are extremely close to each other while others are more like associates, but neither should have their friendship questioned or judged.