Tag Archives: Unitarian Universalism

Christians, You Freak Me Out

16 Feb

I’ve been reading Rapture Ready! by Daniel Radosh. It’s a fairly good book, the writing is not amazing but it’s certainly engaging enough. So far, it’s about Radosh’s travels around America sampling bits and pieces of Christian pop culture, most of which are enough to send the average New York liberal into his reinforced 9/11 bunker. Being a lifelong New Yorker, as well as having been raised Unitarian Universalist, I haven’t had much experience with Evangelical Christians. I know a lot of Christians but few have ever tried to seriously convert me.

Reading Rapture Ready! has caused me to reflect on my upbringing. I was raised in a predominantly Roman Catholic neighborhood where virtually all of my peers went to one of two local churches. On Wednesdays during grade school, when my friends were allowed to leave a little early to attend Confirmation Class, the only kids left in the room were myself, a Jewish girl, and a smelly kid of unknown religious affiliation. I was jealous that my schoolmates were allowed to leave early until I found out what they were being taught. I wasn’t too popular as a little kid, but I wasn’t totally friendless. I think I was ostracized in part for not being Catholic, but largely for being a weird nerd in so many other dazzling ways.

I remember being in the first grade and blithely informing my friends that I didn’t believe in God. If I had been more articulate, I might have explained that what I was rejecting was this bizarre paternal figure who we’re told is peaceful and compassionate, yet heaps vengeance and punishment on people all the time. If I wasn’t six, I could have said that I didn’t subscribe to an anthropomorphic God, an all-knowing creator who gives a shit about our daily comings and goings. However, I had neither the vocabulary or the cognition to express myself fully, so I dropped my non-believer bombshell and my first grade classmates slowly moved away from me in terror. “You’re going to Hell!” they cautioned, or taunted, or both. “God hates you,” explained one girl, sadly, though she didn’t further clarify why I should care what a fictional character thinks of me. Possessing none of the emotional fortitude necessary for theological discussion, I burst into tears. I was still crying when I got home and told my grandma what happened. “Don’t worry,” she said in an exhale of cigarette smoke, “you’ll believe in God eventually.”

When I was around nineteen, I worked at a liquor store during the summer with a guy who was a self-professed born-again Christian. More than his being a Christian, I remember this dude was the BIGGEST Debbie Gibson fan I’d ever met. He had all of her albums and singles in every available format, and his most prized possessions were a half dozen unopened bottles of Gibson’s perfume, “Electric Youth.” He was a little weird and most of our co-workers avoided him, but I’d chat him up from time to time. “Being a Christian is the ultimate rebellion,” he explained to me one day, “because everywhere you go, you’re persecuted for what you believe.” I was confused by this statement, I had certainly known no one to be persecuted for being Christian in my neighborhood. Seemed to me that most everyone was Christian, meanwhile I was teased and called a Jew even though I had set foot in synagogues maybe three times in my life.

At the heart of this belief some Christians seem to share, that they are righteous and persecuted and need to keep up the good fight, is pretty much why Christians routinely freak me out. I think we should tolerate other beliefs, it’s part of harmonious society and people are so fixed in their trust in crazy shit that it’s less work to accept their craziness than it is to rectify it. However, part of my tolerance includes you not explaining any part of your belief system to me. Chances are, it’s ridiculous and going into detail about it will only make me lose respect for you. Virgin births, resurrection, wheels turning within wheels…it’s all a bit much, isn’t it? You’ll get fewer stares claiming to believe in Bigfoot than you will trying to explain the inner workings of the Mormon church. And the ridiculous part is that there’s no shortage of Mormons lining up to tell me all about it.

I guess my point is that I don’t really care if someone is a Christian any more than I care if they are homosexual. That’s something they do on their own time and it shouldn’t affect me. Similarly, I want to hear about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ about as much as I would like to see two dudes screwing. Or anyone screwing, really. I mean when you really watch two people have sex, even if the people are attractive, it’s pretty gross. But you don’t have to take my word for it, attend the next sermon this coming Sunday at my Church of Sextology. Bring a friend!

My Misogyny

9 Feb

It should come as little surprise to my devoted and burgeoning readership that I am a male. A white male, in fact, and I do embody all of the stereotypes and traits that implies. I have been a white male for as long as I can remember, and while there have certainly been times I wished I wasn’t a white male, by and large being a white male has served me well and I am not ashamed of it.

I do have one trait unusual to white males, or males in general: I have a lot of female friends. And not just chicks I make small talk with at work, not women I’d like to fuck but instead got stuck in the Friend Zone, but honest to goodness female friends, whose opinions and consideration I value tremendously, largely over that of my male friends. I think that this propensity of mine is derived from my mother, who had ERA meetings at my house growing up, and who is a great example of an independent, intelligent woman with her own interests and thoughts. Perhaps it also has to do with having been raised a Unitarian Universalist, where I was instructed on the great contributions made by women like Rachel Carson and Sojourner Truth. Whatever the case, I have always had a close cadre of female friends, and I’m not a homosexual.

I don’t really consider myself a feminist, though I do feel like women are equal to men in every strata. To me, it isn’t really something one should use to define one’s self. The default is that people are equal, in my mind. If you disagree, then you’re a bigot, so fuck you. Whatever you want to call me, I believe women to have all the capabilities as a man to do whatever they like, be it running a bank or playing baseball or just loafing around and watching TV. It’s not like I think women are automatically amazing or anything. Plenty of women are just as lazy as the average blog writer.

Here’s where I think my misogyny comes in: I love many of my female friends and depend on their counsel and commiseration tremendously. However, I have no patience for stupid and superficial women. I know a lot of people say that, and it’s not like one should exercise patience for a bimbo. But I really have no patience for them. None. I see a woman giving blow jobs to Corona bottles at the bar, I get disgusted. If I discover a woman has downplayed her own intelligence or personality to be more appealing to a guy, I want nothing to do with her. It’s not a matter of me being too refined or something, because I can appreciate a woman who enjoys bathroom humor. But if her interests begin and end with whatever her last boyfriend was into, I want her to go away permanently.

I have plenty of male friends who are dumb as posts. A couple of them are barely literate, to be honest. This is a trait I would never brook in a female friend. And that’s my misogyny, not that I think women are less than their male counterparts, but because I expect them to be more. And that’s a lot to put on a gender, especially one with such devotion to dieting.

Neither Jew Nor Gentile

31 Jan

I grew up in Eastern Queens in New York City, in a largely suburban Catholic neighborhood. Pretty much everyone I went to grade school with was Catholic, except for the Greeks who were Greek Orthodox. Every Wednesday, kids studying for their confirmations could get out of school a little early, leaving only myself and some Indian kid to run out the clock. How I envied them.

My father was raised a Conservative Jew and gave me a surname to reflect his legacy. My mom was raised Episcopalian but never made a big deal about it. I wasn’t raised Jewish or Christian, I was raised a Unitarian Universalist, which is more of a tolerant ideology than it is a firm religion. This fact was completely lost on my schoolyard chums, with good reason. Who has ever heard of Unitarian Universalism? And besides, I have a Jewish last name, so I was derided as the token Jew.

Early on, I would attempt to correct my peers. “I am not Jewish,” I’d explain, “I am a Unitarian Universalist. I believe in religious tolerance.” This was meaningless to my eight year-old friends who would blink with surprise and continue chanting “kike!” I am also of German heritage, which was enough for the brain trust at my elementary school to determine I was a Nazi Jew. I was more confused than hurt by these poorly-aimed digs. I’m not now and never was Jewish, so calling me a Jew is simply erroneous. At the same time, I had very little interaction with Jews so I didn’t get why it was such a bad thing to be one.

It’s tough being neither Jew nor Gentile in a world where you are either, or, or “other.” No actual Jew would ever consider me a “real” Jew because my mother is a shiksa. No Christian has ever considered that I might not be Jewish. Even today, my neighbor will say hi and ask me if I enjoyed my holiday. It’s often some time later that I realize a Jewish holiday had passed and she was trying to recognize it. I do understand that she is being sweet and pleasant, and I appreciate it, but sometimes I want to say, “I celebrate the same or fewer of the stupid holidays you celebrate. I don’t know Yom Kippur from Hannukah.” But then I think I’d probably hurt her feelings. There she is, in her twilight years, trying to be conciliatory to her Jewish neighbor. And I go and fuck it all up by not even being Jewish! Oy vey izmir.

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