Merry Christmas!

I’m not Christian. I’m Pagan. I say Merry Christmas.

Oh, I say Happy Yule when I initiate a Winter holiday greeting. But when someone says Merry Christmas to me, I say it right back. Same thing with Hanukkah. If someone were to greet me with a Happy Ramadan or Happy Kwanzaa, I’d say it right back at them. It’s not religion specific at all.

They’re not trying to push their religion on me. And I’m not acknowledging a particular belief on my part by replying. They’re simply wishing me a happy time during their holy holiday. So I have no problem wishing them the same right back at them.

So people, lighten up. Wishing someone a Merry Christmas doesn’t mean that you’re perpetuating a beastly hegemony that will suck all non-Christian civilization down to a base, discriminating level. Oh no. It just means that you’re returning some happy Wintertime wishes. So get that stick out of your ass and wish someone a Merry Christmas  already.

Happy Yule!

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What No One Wants To Say

Evangelicals hate Mormons.

There. I said it. It’s true.

It’s why Republican Evangelicals are pushing hard for a non-Romney VP.

It’s why Huckabee won damn near every Southern state in the Republican primaries.

It’s why none of the other elementary school kiddies in my small town Alabama home would have anything to do with me.

It’s why I was kicked out of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school.

It’s why I found anti-Mormon pamphlets in my locker and on my car in high school.

Yeah, a word about those anti-Mormon pamphlets I found back then… there was some flack from Mormons in the primaries about Huckabee questioning whether Mormons believed Jesus and Satan are brothers. His words (“Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers?”) were also the heading of several of those pamphlets I found littered about where ever I was known to hang out. That’s why Mormons (and I) were so angered by Huckabee’s “question.” It wasn’t a question. It was code speak for “my preacher said that those guys are cultists who don’t think that the devil is the bad guy.” He was reminding Evangelicals of what they heard at the pulpit about Mormons.

As for Huckabee’s “knowledge” about Mormons, well, he gave a major speech at a Baptist conference in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1998. The main thrust of the conference was aimed towards Mormonism. Pamphlets were passed out. They went door to door (in a parody of Mormon Missionary activity) to “save” Mormons from themselves.

So I don’t buy that Huckabee knows little about Mormons. Every Evangelical I went to public school with “knew” about Mormons and the “evil” they represent.

Oh, and here’s how I feel about Mormons, in case any clarification is needed. (The short: I heart Mormons so no Mormon bashing allowed on my blog!)

And yeah, I do take Huckabee’s antics personally. And I take support for Huckabee personally. That kind of bigotry caused me all kinds of hell as a child. And to think that it is still being perpetuated makes my blood boil.

I Want to Believe

I left the LDS church (the Mormon church) a few years ago. With all of the mess that’s been occupying my life for the past two years, I haven’t had much time to think about religion… other than a sharp realization that I could no longer pretend to understand why Christ was divine. (Well, that’s the short story. There’s more to it, naturally.)

So where does that leave me? I don’t know.

I haven’t had a lot of time to examine what I believe. That’s changed now. Most of the mess I’ve endured has been cleared up. And the remainder could be gone any day. So I no longer have a valid excuse or a clear rationalization to avoid it, no matter how tempting it seems.

There’s no rush to figure out what I believe I suppose; though I do feel some urgency to belong. Even if I never attend a church meeting again (in whatever church), there is comfort in knowledge, in knowing where you fit into the grand scheme of things, in knowing that you fit in with others somehow. So what to believe?

Oh, I know some of what I don’t  believe: I don’t believe in the Abrahamic religions. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t parts of that particular religious group that aren’t true. It’s just, as a whole, I’ve examined them and found them unbelievable.

Take Christians, for example; as I’ve already stated, I can’t believe in any religion that believes Christ was divine. As for the other two big Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Islam, they both believe in a single, male God.

It’s not that I have anything against male Gods. I couldn’t believe in a single, female God either. I just can’t believe that there is one all-powerful being in control, male or female.

Perhaps it’s a result of my Mormon upbringing: Mormons believe in a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother. Oh, they only worship the one male God, but they believe in his female mate too. (What’s more, they believe that an infinite number of Heavenly beings existing somewhere. They just don’t worship them. So they really don’t care much about them, which is one reason why they’re never mentioned and most non-members don’t know about them.)

The idea of many male and female divine high somethings, well, that makes more sense to me. And going from a belief in many Gods to a belief in one single God feels like downsizing anyway.

I’ve looked closely at Atheism. There is an awfully tempting logic to Atheism, and a certain amount of altruism to which I’m drawn. But there’s an awfully tempting logic to belief in a deity, too. Either way, it’s a belief; for just as there’s no proof that there is something divine out there, there’s no real proof that there isn’t.

Which is all to say that I’m leaning heavily towards belief in some divine thingamabobs, and not just one. Which lead me to Paganism. I’m just getting introduced to it by way of the internet. I’m looking for a few good books as references now, since many Pagan internet sites can’t seem to agree on much and much more of it seems a little, well… froofy.

Frankly, I can’t see myself taking spiritual advice from some guy who has chosen to name himself after a flower, wears long plastic beads with Birkenstocks and tie-dye tees, and looks like he has a severe case of patchouli-stank.

I’m hoping to find someone a little more authoritative on the subject than good old patchouli-stinking Sunflower Goodfyllowe, or whatever his name was. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not me.

I mean, Prudence Ponder  is not my real name. (Y’all got that, right?) Yeah, I chose  Prudence Ponder, for various reasons. So me following a self-named Moonman Ravynwylde… not going to happen.

What it all boils down to, I think, is what I want to believe. Oh, I don’t believe that there is a divine green-eyed purple polka-dotted hippo out there that controls the universe, or whatever. I’ve never believed in anything remotely related to Calvinism. I never could.

I just can’t escape the feeling that there is more out there, that there are divine somethings that have some interest in us, however small. And I’d like to think that we have some connection to them.

I think, that after a few years in hell where I couldn’t believe, I’m willing and ready to have faith in some divine pooh-bahs. Whoever they are.

I Heart Mormons

You know, all I had to do was mention that I am a former Mormon. Thus the Mormon bashing began. Oh, not so much in the comments of the post I linked, but in emails I received (all three of them) congratulating me on leaving the LDS church. Huh? Why congratulate me? I don’t get it. It’s not like I’ve just arrived in Miami after suffering in Cuba. It’s not like I left something bad.

I love Mormons. Don’t laugh. I do, really. Most of my family is active in the LDS church. I respect the teachings of the church. And I think that Mormons try to lead honest, good lives in keeping with the dictates of their religious beliefs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Why do people assume that because I don’t agree with the teachings of the Mormon church and have subsequently left it, that I bear it some ill will? I don’t. I don’t view my leaving the LDS church as a good thing. Oh, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a change brought about by some serious, prolonged navel gazing. Not good, not bad, just is.

Many people do hate the LDS church after leaving, I know. I don’t understand it, but I know that Mormon hatred is common among former members. Many former Mormons form groups that “help” current Mormons understand why they too should leave the LDS church. Often, these people, many of whom claim to once have held “high positions” within the church, publish lies against the church on the internet or in books. [Well, I’m assuming that most lie (I’m sure some do lie deliberately); more likely, it’s simply that they don’t know better. LDS doctrine is large, very large, and confusing to explain – because it uses much of the same language as other Christian churches (with different definitions), the doctrine is often misunderstood by both new members and lifers. I think this indicates a problem within the LDS church Sunday format itself; Gospel Doctrine class isn’t getting the job done and the church leaders need to figure out why and fix it. Also, I think that missionary training should be addressed and revised to help out with the more common misunderstandings.]

Anyway. Mormon bashing on this blog will not be allowed to go unanswered. Oh, I tease and poke fun and tell a Jello joke with the best of them (LDS culture is funny! I’ve always thought that, even when I was a Mormon) and I’ll make fun of the high birth rate and the made-up curses and the polygamy thing (I know, don’t write emails), but it is not meant with the malice or glee that I see coming from some other former members. Like I said, I heart Mormons. And I wasn’t being sarcastic or ironic. Like I told my mother, I don’t believe in the church’s doctrine, but I am the result of five or six generations of LDS teachings. You can’t get rid of that easily. I’m more of a cultural Mormon – I don’t have the religious beliefs, but I do have many of the idiosyncrasies that usually go along with the beliefs.

So, how many Mormons does it take to screw in a light bulb? Seven: one husband standing on a chair with a new bulb in his hand – and six of his wives standing around telling him nine different ways to screw it in. [Hey! I said I knew Mormon jokes. I didn’t say they were good.]

It’s Always For The Greater Good

I’m reading Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism; I’m a couple of pages into the first chapter (which deals with Mussolini). Goldberg connects “belief” with fascism in a way I’ve never before considered. The principles and promises of fascism need not be true for the movement to be successful. As long as followers of those principles believe the promises, and as long as the unbelieving leaders are good liars, the leaders of the movement can use that popular belief to “bring the masses under control for the greater good.”

In the book, Goldberg explains that before the fall of Hitler, both Mussolini and fascism were widely applauded by liberals. But just as equally applauded was communism. After Hitler’s atrocities toward Jews were exposed following WWII, fascism became associated with genocide, racism, and a whole host of other nastiness. So the liberal praise and applause that had formerly belonged to fascism migrated to communism.

So. I told you all that to get to this and to explain what started my kettle boiling.

I’ve been thinking about all that liberal applause, praise, and general idolatry that was heaped upon communism. Where did it go after the fall of communism? Liberal idolatry was left without a target. Certainly some have praised Cuba, but not as loudly and with as many numbers as once praised communism. I think that the liberals who once praised communism so greatly found a home within the environmental movement.

Whether they truly believe in the movement, I don’t know. The movement is so strong; I’m sure that many, if not most people involved in it, are true believers.* But according to Mussolini, belief by leaders isn’t important. As long as the people believe, they can be subjugated; they can be controlled; they can be manipulated. Religions have been doing this for some time. The brilliance of Mussolini was in his taking the lessons of control and domination from the religious leaders he despised and applying them to the state (and I mean “brilliance” in that he was smart to figure it out, not that I agree with it).

The environmental movement is the perfect breeding ground for modern day liberal fascism. It contains within its principals the idea that men must be controlled for their own good, indeed, even for the good of the planet. Corporations must be regulated. People can only buy certain items. People must live a certain way. Dissent is not allowed. Merely questioning their promises and principles is not tolerated.** The principals are simple: Government must keep a tight handle on us all or else the planet is destroyed.

The environmental movement sounds an awful lot like religion to me. Even more, it sounds like good old fashioned Italian politics a la Mussolini.

*(Really. There are too many of them that are absolutely nuts to be faking it. And they’re not nuts in a good, fun, healthy way such that you want to hang out with them and watch Survivor. They’re nuts in a bunny boiling way. And that’s not fun to be around at all.)

**(Seriously, have you ever critically questioned a true climate change believer about climate computer modeling? OMG. They take it very personally. Muslims have been known to react less violently when faced with critical questions about Muhammad. Oy. Anyway. I’ll get to climate computer models in another post.)