Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wherein Brackets Are Abused

This article (which I clicked on hoping to find out why Claire's nickname is Clementine...curses! Foiled again!) has me teetering between anger and lolwut. About the only thing I agree with this article is that society's attitude towards obesity is very much the same attitude I take when I see a spider. (OHGODKILLITNOW)

What I think Patricia Pearson fails to understand about religious ignorance (I'm not calling it illiteracy, that's for reading and writing) in our public schools is that it leaves it at an individual level. Parents can teach their children what their family's faith is, and the school provides a place where religion is left as a very individual thing. That is in no way a bad thing. Religious indoctrination is, however, a bad thing. When I have a child, I will be sending them to public school, and I will expect that the only way they learn about religion is from fellow students, books, and multicultural events/teaching.

Also, something tells me that the fifty percent of US teens that thought 'Sodom and Gomorrah were married' were being sarcastic/rude, or just having a guess. Most of them probably don't think that. I base this on the fact that when I have referenced this story in the past with my peers, I am not faced with 'aren't they married?' I am faced with 'wait, what?'

The reason why your daughter's school has Winterfest, Patricia Pearson, is that because there are so many winter holidays of varying religious importance, coupled with a two-week school break, it is a way for students from all traditions to come together and celebrate a joyous time of year all round, even if their only motivation for feeling joyous is the two weeks off.

My favourite (read: made me most irritated) is that the vaguely anti-obese song about Santa was called twisted. No. That's not twisted, at all. It's maybe a bit disrespectful. Listen to this song about Santa, then tell me which one counts as TWISTED.

Warning: Homophobic language, rude language, possibly triggering language, westboro baptist minister church language (Thank you Westboro Church, for always being dependable for things that twist people's souls in horror. You're always good for an example of evil.)

And the reason we don't learn about Saint Nicholas in school, or most religious stories behind winter celebrations is that we can't possibly span every religion and if you don't, you alienate, unfairly and rudely, those children. What about religions that don't have winter celebrations? Or any? (I notice your list of things you'd love your children to learn about in school, religious-winter-celebration wise, didn't include the solstice, which is celebrated in Toronto. (I went to the celebration last year with my aunt, cousins and siblings. So much fun.))

"Is this a problem? Yes, it is. Children raised in such a pedagogical vacuum cannot make sense of a world in which religion governs public and international debate." (re: lack of knowledge about "the good books." Note: She capitalized both good and books. I.... feel silly doing so. Sorry.) Or... they learn about religion when they're old enough to understand properly, make informed decisions about their personal faiths, and learn about other's religions on a sincere and more adult level. It's not like you can't understand religion if you learn about it at a late stage. Otherwise what's the point of people who convert to another religion after learning more about it? And they do normally offer 'World Religion' classes in public high schools, just so you know.

I do love the last paragraphs though. I'm guessing that your costume at halloween just might have been a pot. Ignorance really does lead to disrespect. Your ignorance about Canadian youths turned a conversation where you might have had a meaningful discussion about religion and faith into 'lol, teens shop at hollister and don't know what proof of god means, take religion seriously, or do any research at all.' Since you didn't include her response (and I'm taking it on faith that you really did speak to a teenager), I'm going to assume you didn't even ask her what proof she would like and give her a chance to say anything. You telling her to find a "soupcon" of wisdom (I don't know if that was a typo and you meant to write soup can, but either way, I've never heard this saying before ever, and don't know which is correct. Therefore, I am using it the way it was published) is disrespectful in two ways. One is that you assume she hasn't done any reading or learning on her own, and that her disbelief stems from ignorance, not from a personal decision that could possibly be based on personally obtained knowledge. The other is that you place the burden of proof on her. As the one claiming that monotheism is correct, it's your job, in a debate, to provide proof god exists, not hers to provide proof that god doesn't.

As an eighteen year old agnostic, I know mine would be "anything that doesn't require a blind leap of faith." Maybe that reveals an innate discompatability with Christianity, as there seems to be a lot of blind faith, to my perspective. And that might be alright for you. But why not let her learn and decide what's her own spiritual truth on her own, without flippantly quoting her in your article, and treating her like she's ignorant because she's made a choice not to believe in god without something that makes the concept real to her. 

(A note, I did not capitalize the word 'god' in this post, nor will I ever. I will when using a quote, but not when using my own words. I do not believe in god and so it is not a proper noun to me. I may expand on this later, I may not.)


  1. Extraodinary claims require extraodinary proof.
    While I appreciate your reasoning on the capitalization of "God", I would respectfully disagree. Personal belief does not play a roll in wether or not it is a proper noun. I too, do not believe but will still capitalize it, as God is a name. Just as I capitalize: Thor, Woden, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Ra, and other dieties

  2. Um, if you don't believe in a god, you're an atheist. You may also be agnostic depending on which god claim is being made (I'm gnostic towards the christian god for example, but agnostic about a deist god).

    The terms have specific meanings and they don't relate to a continuum but instead a plane.

    If you don't believe in a god (as you said you do not) what do you consider yourself otherwise? Humanist, Rationalist, Philosophical materialist, Skeptic? There are plenty of options that might fit and I was just wondering what you see yourself as (or not as as the case may be).

  3. @Andrew I feel that 'god' cannot count as a proper noun, though. You can't say 'Thor is a thor.' Thor is just flat-out a name. God isn't, it's a descripter that has become used like a name because of the belief that the deity in question has a name that is more then a human could pronounce/say/understand. -shrug- I don't think that a concept that is present in so many different religions can be the same as an outright name of one religion's god without there being an inherent bias in the language.

    @Rational Explorer: Well, calling myself agnostic is usually simpler. In relation to Christianity, I'm a flat-out athiest, I do not and will not ever believe in the Christian faith. But outside of that, I'm not altogether decided as to what I believe, and don't quite have a category for my all too tenuous and liable to change outlook on the world. I have a few silly beliefs with no real evidence behind them, but a simple fondness and unexplainable belief in them. (My tarot cards, for one.) In short, I guess I'm more then a bit inconsistent.

  4. The problem is: if I name my dog, Dog or my horse, Horse ( yes, it has been done), those would still require capitalization. Just because the concept is wide ranging doesn't make the naming of an individual ( real or not) any less of a name.
    Early xtians who named their god, God, were quite ingenious in that respect. Co-opting things is a xtian specialty... Just look at Xmas