Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Spiritual but not religious: is it a cop out?

Last year, Alan Miller, Director of The New York Salon and Co-Founder of London's Old Truman Brewery, wrote a special piece for CNN about how describing yourself as "spiritual but not religious" was a cop out.

Among his many statements, he said:

That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that "feeling" something somehow is more pure and, perhaps, more "true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.
I object to that idea: that we must fit in to a doctrine, follow certain practices and rules, bend our spiritual being to fit someone else's ideal. All religions originated in someone's head. So did all practices. So why are religious people today so disparaging of people who feel comfortable going their own route?

(C) Paul Gooddy via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Still, I say that the major inaccuracy that leapt out at me was the idea that the institutions of America, the essence of what made it great, was founded on the principles of church-going Christianity.

True enough: Christianity was, and still is, the dominant religion of the United States. But at the time of its founding, there were few churches with preachers, and many of the founding fathers were, whether by lack of regular church-going or by personal choice, individual deists who often adopted an independent "spiritual but not religious" approach to their own lives and to the founding of the government.

Separation of church and state arose because they saw no great necessity for church going to be spiritual (though they admitted to the value of the community). Likely, and more importantly, they advocated a separation of church and state because they had recently seen England torn apart over the last few centuries through several civil wars over the nature of religion (all Christian, but kings dethroned, and burnings of heretics ad nauseum).

The ill-considered put downs by people like Alan Miller of "feel good" spirituality is merely once again a church-going narcissist ranking his own principles (principles that still cause enormous pain and suffering) above the more rational and individual approach adopted by many people who take a great deal of time and energy to develop their own beliefs.

It is true that some people are not spiritual at all, and a yoga class does them well, to create a sense of peace. Others get that same sense of peace by playing sports. Still others do study and consider spiritual beliefs. I've studied Buddhism, Confucius, Judaism, a little Islam and read enormous parts of the New and Old Testament. I've meditated (in both traditional Christian prayer, but also through several other paths of meditation and inward seeking).

(C) David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I've been to several different Christian churches over my life including United Church of Canada, Roman and Orthodox Catholic, Baptist, evangelist, and to Temple. I've stood in churches that I know are touched by something powerful in the universe, yet my three most spiritual experiences are swimming in a Muskoka Lake at sunset, a nap with the dog, and having a baby fall asleep on me. Those three things connect me to the most powerful things in the universe, calm my soul and fill me with hope, and help me meet my fellow man in peace and understanding.

I wish your church could have done as much for you, Mr. Miller, but I can see by your comments that it has failed you miserably.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Christie Blatchford: Rehtaeh Parsons' rape case made police look bad so ... blame her!

Christie Blatchford: 

The Boys in Blue always have a friend!

I've been meaning to start this blog for a long time, and Christie Blatchford's apologist article in the National Post today (http://bit.ly/11qAF14) has prompted it (so thank you, Christie!)

According to Christie Blatchford's article about Rehtaeh Parson's rape, there is no proof that Rehtaeh was raped. She accuses (!) Rehtaeh of being flirtatious. God forbid a woman or girl be flirtatious BEFORE they are raped! They really asked for it then. But 90 year old women are also raped in their beds: flannel nighties are a heat source for the guided missiles that are rapists.

There's also a friend who says Rehtaeh was naked on a bed with two of the boys, but the friend also had a crush on one of the boys. Is it just me, or weren't there a lot of girls in Steubenville upset that the rape victim there had had sex with "their men" and then gotten "their men" into trouble? Really? That's the biggest new piece of evidence provided in Christie's coverage and I could put a cruise ship through the holes.

The point of the Steubenville case and of Rehtaeh's case is that limiting the investigation to some details (Rehtaeh was drunk, her story changed), and ignoring evidence (like photos and texts) DOES give you a she said/he said case.

When you have evidence like the photos, with texts from the boys, naming themselves and describing what they are doing, you can't dismiss it. Maybe the police and the lawyer thought a judge wouldn't consider such evidence. This WAS before Steubenville, after all.

I've been reading Christie Blatchford, off and on, since I was 13 years old. She thinks the police can, basically, do no wrong. I am not surprised that she is the one to defend the police investigation (or lack) OR the one who gets a source who says Rehtaeh's account was "all over the map". If the local police/RCMP want someone to write a story forgiving their old-fashioned handling of a case that was essentially "made" in social media and by text, they go to Christie Blatchford. Heck, I would too! Smart handling. But it's as thinly veiled and manipulative as any other form of CYA public relations.

I'm all for waiting and "innocent until proven guilty", but Rehtaeh was guilty of being a slut in police eyes, even before they interviewed the boys accused and regardless of what the boys themselves said in their own texts.

So, to sum up Christie's article:
  • Rehtaeh was a slut who asked for it
  • Then she lied about her story
  • And the police knew this without doing an investigation because... she was at a party with boys and drank.
Sorry: that's all I got. Anyone else?