Monthly Archives: December 2008

2008 in review

Highlights of MMVIII:

  • After a year of maternity leave, I started back at work. I know that there are some mamas out there who can do the whole stay-at-home thing, but I really needed to get back into an adult world. While it was a bit bumpy getting back into the routine of things (including Emma being at a sitter’s part-time), I’m glad to be back at ‘er.
  • Emma turned 1, and hasn’t looked back since.
  • I turned 30, and have done a lot of looking back.
  • Two visits home, one in May/June, and last week. The only drawback of going home and seeing family again is the big hole that’s left in your heart once you get back (that tends to last longer each time).
  • OBAMA! By the end of the campaign, even I got a little politics-out. It was a huge win, and here’s hoping for a better direction for my homeland.
  • I’m sure there’s a lot more to add to this list — but frankly, I’m just glad to have survived the month of December. This has been one crazy-filled month for me, and I’m just looking forward to a new start in 2009.

Have fun watching the ____ drop tonight (be it the Times Square ball, the 1200lb acorn, the giant pickle, or drag queen).

See ya, 2008.

When evangelical really means fundamentalist

Part of my thesis defense involved a 20-minute presentation. For my talk, rather than summarize the 100-page thesis that my committee had just read, I chose to contextualize my research by placing the BibleZine in its historical and cultural traditions. Historically, I talked about the Geneva Bible. Culturally, I talked about the North American evangelical tradition.

It was interesting to do the research for this presentation — I felt like an anthropologist who eventually gets to examine her own cultural background. For most of my life I identified myself with the “evangelical” label, and yet here I was, years later, looking at it academically and from a detached point of view.

A few of the points I made about evangelical culture involved

  • their rejection of “the world” and its values
  • their belief that their doctrinal stance of Christianity was the only correct way (eschewing liberal and mainline Christian doctrines),
  • evangelicals are 1/3 to 3 times more likely to view themselves as persecuted, with the mass media/surrounding culture as more hostile to their beliefs (as compared to other Christians — mainline or liberal)
  • evangelicals tend to separate themselves from their more conservative Christian counterparts, fundamentalists — though both sects tend to share similar theological approaches/doctrines

This brief foray back to the day of my infamous defense is just a prelude to my (delayed) reaction to the news of Rick Warren being chosen to deliver Obama’s inaugural invocation. [Of course, there's also a post that's waiting to be written about WHY we even have this religious ceremonial element in a secular governmental event]

What really prompted this post was this clip from the Rachel Maddow show and this editorial by Katha Pollitt.

First, Rachel’s take:

It’s hard to “re-purpose for clarity” your inflammatory opinions, particularly when there’s a video clip of you reiterating them for all posterity.

Here’s some bits from Pollitt’s op-ed (though the whole thing is really worth a read):

Most Americans who’ve heard of Warren know him as the teddy-bearish, Hawaiian-shirted head of the Saddleback megachurch in Orange County and the author of “The Purpose Driven Life.” Perhaps they also know he’s the rare right-wing Christian pastor who sometimes talks about poverty and global warming and HIV. His concern for those issues has given him a reputation as a moderate and has made him the darling of Democratic Party think tanks, ever hoping to break the Republican lock on the white evangelical vote.

But on the signal issues of the religious right he is, as he himself has said, as orthodox as James Dobson.

And as inflammatory. Warren doesn’t just oppose gay marriage, he’s compared it to incest and pedophilia. He doesn’t just want to ban abortion, he’s compared women who terminate pregnancies to Nazis and the pro-choice position to Holocaust denial. (Hmmm … If a fertilized egg is as precious as a born Jewish human being, does that mean a born Jewish human being is only as valuable as a fertilized egg?)

[...] On “Hannity & Colmes,” he agreed that the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, should be killed because “the Bible says God puts government on Earth to punish evildoers.” Really? The Bible says the United States should murder the leaders of other sovereign states? How many other heads of state does Warren want to do away with? If Ahmadinejad, who is, after all, a more-or-less democratically elected leader, had shared his inauguration with an imam who had called on national television for the assassination of President Bush, Americans would be calling for the nuking of Tehran.

In a news conference Thursday, Obama defended the choice of Warren: “It is important for the country to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues.” That’s all very well, but excuse me if I don’t feel all warm and fuzzy. Obama won thanks to the strenuous efforts of people who’ve spent the last eight years appalled by the Bush administration’s wars and violations of human rights, its attacks on gays and women, its denigration of science, its general pandering to bigotry and ignorance in the name of God.

I’m all for building bridges, but honoring Warren, who insults Obama’s base as perverts and murderers, is definitely a bridge too far.

Where to start?

First of all, it’s important to recognize the poster-boy quality of Rick Warren, particularly for evangelicals these days. Not only is he a best selling author, but he’s the hip pastor of a huge megachurch, and is politically involved in the fight against AIDS, along with other causes. He is THE image of what many pastors hope to achieve in their careers. In fact, I went to a church who’s senior pastor actively pursued the Rick Warren path, from the structuring of pastoral staff down to the preaching of Warren’s sermons. To say that Warren is big in the evangelical wing of the church is an understatement.

Which is why I’m GLAD that all of this is hitting the fan.

As disappointed as I am about Obama’s choice, I’m glad that everyone will have to see what these particular Christian tenets look like in the public sphere.

I’m glad that people who blindly follow these dogmas will have to reexamine them under the glare of media lights, and pick a side (knowing, again, that this age of YouTube will have their quotes forever immortalized — just like Mr. Warren’s were, despite his adament denial of ever saying them).

I’m glad that the “softer side” of evangelical condescension to dissenters, and yes, hate-speech to those outside the lines, will have to be explained or reasserted by the people purporting it.

But, most of all, after reexamining evangelical culture and being reminded of the veneer of many megachurch mentalities, I’m mostly just glad I got the hell outta dodge and quit being an evangelical myself.

Happy Birthday!

Turns out that several religions claim December 25th as the celebrated day of birth for their deity.

So, a happy birthday to Jesus,
and Horus,
and Osiris,
and Dionysus,
and Mithra.

Many happy returns!

Christmas is all around us



I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes…

Festivus yes!

In light of the holiday, I’d say let’s have an airing of grievances, but let’s face it: I pretty much use my blog to air my grievances every other day — so instead, let’s just wish each other a

Happy Festivus

(a holiday for the rest of us)!

May a Festivus miracle find its way to you.

What he said:

“If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might in a moral point of view, justify revolution; certainly would if such right were a vital one.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Merry Christmas, you’re not married anymore

How’s this for a Christmas present?

Prop. 8 sponsors seek to nullify 18K gay marriages

SAN FRANCISCO – The sponsors of Proposition 8 asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to nullify the marriages of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who exchanged vows before voters approved the ballot initiative that outlawed gay unions.

The Yes on 8 campaign filed a brief arguing that because the new law holds that only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized or valid in California, the state can no longer recognize the existing same-sex unions. The document reveals for the first time that opponents of same-sex marriage will fight in court to undo those unions that already exist.

Nothing says Christian love like active discrimination against fellow human beings. History will not look kind on this lawsuit or on its supporters.

Oh, and nice timing, too.