Monthly Archives: March 2009

Blessed are the fundamentalists…

because they are hilarious.

Fundies say the darnedest things


Christian cannibalism

The Trials of Ted Haggard:

I can remember where I was when the news of Haggard’s “massages” and meth shopping sprees came out — I was in Edmonton, on a little holiday. I was pretty pregnant with Emma at the time, and when I found out that THE president of evangelicals was a huge huge closeted hypocrite, I nearly slipped on the ice out of sheer glee.

Because — I’d seen Haggard on various news shows. I’d seen clips of him on Jesus Camp. I saw him freak out on Dawkins in The Root of All Evil documentary, and I saw Haggard proclaim that Christians have the “best sex!” Of the many evangelical leaders out there who were just asking for a fall from grace — this was the guy.

[And yet, I can remember that part of me did feel -- just the tiniest bit -- sorry for the guy. How imprisoning it must be to be a part of an ideology that does not appreciate or even recognize parts of your innermost being.]

After watching the documentary above (a film I’ve been looking forward to watching since I first heard about it), part of me hates the fact that I was so happy to see this guy fail. I suppose, the more that I think about it, I was probably more eager to see the evangelical leader fall, rather than Pastor Ted himself.

The Trials of Ted Haggard needs to be required viewing of all evangelicals. I’d love to sit down with some of y’all, actually, and watch it together.

Here are just a few random thoughts I had, after watching the short film:

  • After the male escort outed Pastor Ted, he was kicked out of his church and forced to go on a “spiritual restoration,” where “health and wholeness as a man” would be the goal. Translation: it was an attempt to de-gayify him, because we all know how much God hates the gay.
  • One scene in the film has Haggard going out for job interviews, for the first time ever in his life (he’s 51). After interviewing for an entry-level job, he feels pretty confident about his chances — “as long as they don’t Google me.”
  • The film cuts between past sermons of Haggard and to his life after his “fall.” One clip is especially poignant, and features the reactions of his church “family” responding to his letter of apology. Women were just bawling like they were at a funeral. The men sat around steel-jawed, angry. All this over what Haggard does behind closed doors?! It’s stunning to think about the amount of personal devastation so many felt about his revelation that wasn’t personal at all to them.
  • At one point the filmmaker asks Haggard if he had to choose between being gay and evangelical, which would he choose? Astonishingly, he chose the latter.
  • Though as the film goes on, and the filmmaker follows up on the Haggards, the more haggard he literally looks. He was still without a job, 6 months after being exiled from his home.
  • In a moment that is just wrenching, he says that he kept his secret for so long because he feared that his friends would reject him and his church would exile him — and guess what? They did. He said “the church said [to me,] ‘go to hell.’”
  • In one of the last scenes, we see the family move into a small apartment. It was their fourth move in months. I could almost feel the sadness and shame of Haggard, as he struggled to find a way to speak positively about the move (the whole time knowing he has a house in Colorado that he’s no longer allowed to live in).

It’s not what you’d call an uplifting film, these Trials of Ted Haggard. Even now I still struggle with how I feel about him, since for so long he promoted the same hateful attitudes he’s now the target of. But then again, how can you be against someone who so clearly has such self-loathing, much of it brought on by the religious dogma he’s been taught (and was teaching)?

Watch it.

What she said:

In life, so much depends on the question “Do you see what I see?” That most basic of queries binds human beings socially. . . Having one’s perceptions go uncorroborated can make one feel peculiarly alone in the world . . . marooned on my own private island of navy blue c’s, dark brown d’s, sparkling green 7′s, and wine colored v’s.

What else did I see differently from the rest of the world? I wondered. What did the rest of the world see that I didn’t? It occured to me that maybe every person in the world had some little oddity of perception they weren’t aware of that put them on a private island, mysteriously separated from others.

I suddenly had the dizzy feeling that there might be as many of these private islands as there were people in the world.

from Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds
by Patricia Duffy
[found in On Being Certain: Believing You are Right Even When You’re Not
by Robert A. Burton]

paging Dr. Bennetch!

next Grey’s recruit, originally uploaded by becky b..

No scrubs are complete without Blue’s Clues slippers!

The most hated woman in America

This afternoon I watched the documentary about Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Godless in America. I was already familiar with her story, and her reputation of being “the most hated woman in America.” In fact, it was due to her efforts in the ’60s that got prayer taken out of the public schools.

The documentary outlines her activism advocating atheism, showing many clips of her bold outbursts and statements that made her so (in)famous in the public eye. Of course her story has a tragic ending, but that’s not what is making me dwell on her story tonight. It was because of her willingness to put herself out there, as an “atheist,” that allows me today to wear that scarlet letter without much fear of impunity.

O’Hair’s story reminds me of an important lesson I learned in high school. One of my favorite teachers, Ms. Hearn, taught us that many of the trailblazers who helped ensure many of the constitutional and legal rights US citizens appreciate today never lived to see these rights in practice. Ms. Hearn spent weeks going over the Constitution with us, outlining all the different court battles that ensued over the last 200 years that got us to where we are today — I can still remember how choked up she’d become when telling us to always fight to be recognized as free individuals.

And it’s because of outspoken, assertive people like Madalyn Murray O’Hair that I’m able to say I’m an atheist, without having to whisper and hide my unbelief.

heretics united

Tomorrow afternoon is the monthly meetup of Saskatoon Atheists, Secular Humanists, and Freethinkers, at noon in the back room of Amigo’s on Broadway. Tomorrow’s topic of discussion is Labels, labels, labels: the problem of definitions:

Assuming the usual business portion of our meeting, let’s plan to discuss the topic of what labels we prefer to give ourselves (Atheist? Freethinker? Heathen?) and what they imply.

Some websites with explanations of relevant terms:
Secular Humanism

Here’s the video of Sam Harris speaking at Atheist Alliance International 2007 (mentioned at our last meeting):
Sam Harris at AAI 07
(The most relevant portion is from 4 to 23:30 minutes)

Here’s the essay version:
The Trouble with ‘Atheism’

And a follow-up essay replying to critics:
Response to My Fellow Atheists

Food for thought!

See ya there.

What he said:

There’s more to being human than bearing a cell with the right collection of genes.

For a scientist, he’s quite the poet.