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      I used to get paid to watch these things. I don’t any more. So…I’m going to go read a nice novel in a coffee shop. Please feel free to talk about the debate in comments. I will, actually, be curious to hear what people have to say, just not willing to sit through so much […]
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Reasons etc

It’s after Labor Day and we all know that new stuff gets rolled out after Labor Day. It’s time for some freshening up around here. I’ve been thinking about that for some time now, what with the Presidential Election *finally* really getting under way at the end of this year. Wait, when is Iowa? And why is it so important? Don’t we ask ourselves this question every four years? Anyway, I am still seeing a lack of something for people such as myself. You know, the tail-end baby boomers who aren’t anywhere near retirement age but are expected to make our way in the world like Millenials. You know, incredible job uncertainty, vastly reduced wages, the expense of everything just dropped like a steaming pile on top of our heads, Here ya’ go, you pay for your retirement, medical care, education. You know the spiel.

But I’ve got to think about restructuring a little more. On to what I did during my summer vacation.

The bright spots are that someone finally took out the Duggars. So, there’s that. It was one of the highlights of the summer. Maybe Josh Duggar will be the one to write the tell-all book. Or maybe it will be Anna Duggar. They’ve got to make money somehow. The show has been cancelled. It’s too late for Jill and Jessa. They done got married and knocked up. But their sisters might still have a fighting chance. In any case, the Duggars are toast. Oh sure, there will always be people like them and their fan base might not be ready to ditch them yet. But their golden halo is gone and now there is space to ask ourselves what the hell THAT was all about?? That whole “no kissing before the wedding” thing backfired spectacularly. So, maybe the rest of their schtick isn’t so wholesome either, eh?

In fact, it seems like the grip of authoritarian religions and cults is starting to weaken all over the place all at once. It’s like a tipping point. The Jehovah’s Witnesses also seem to be becoming unhinged in a relatively short period of time. Does it mean my relatives will start coming to family holidays? I doubt it. But with the BBC documentaries on them and the number of associations of the JWs to Scientology in culture and indoctrination, the Royal Commission in Australia looking into child abuse and the incredible increase in the number of YouTubers who are creating their own “How I got out” channels (Reaching Out, JW Survey and Katja Christian to name a few), it looks like there may be some kind of “Hey, we’ve been eating grass!” movement afoot.

(It’s ok, guys, Jehovah will not strike you dead if you start enjoying the rest of your family at birthday parties. For one thing, we’re not certain that that’s his real name anyway.)

The same phenomenon is happening to Mormonism. John Dehlin did not die after his excommunication. Nope, he’s alive and kicking and doing well in Cash Valley, Utah with his MormonStories Podcast. He just got his PhD in psychology and he and his family are thriving and forming a new community of ex-mormons who’ve had it up to here with prematurely decomposing old men posing as prophets and imposing 19th century rules of behavior on their wives, children and gay brothers in law.

By the way, if you want to know how I spent my summer vacation, check out Lindsay Hanson Park’s Year of Polygamy Podcast. Oh. My. She had no idea what she was getting herself into when she started it. Sweet Mormon housewife takes it upon herself to casually explain this quaint Mormon legacy to the rest of the world and a year later, she’s ditching her garments and wearing halter tops in church. One of her best episodes was on Mountain Meadows, aka, the original September 11 terrorist attack and massacre by a fanatic bunch of violent religious extremists.  Highly recommended.  Start from the beginning of a Year of Polygamy and listen as Lindsay’s realization and horror grows week by week. She deserves an award for this series. THAT, my friends, is the way everybody should research their religion. If your religion can withstand a Lindsay Hanson Park treatment, it’s a keeper.

But the authoritarians are not done yet, folks. Nope, there’s a new Mormon extremist group out there started by Julie Rowe who claims to have seen visions of the end of the world during a near death experience. Right now, there are tens of thousands of her followers who are leaving their jobs, cashing in their savings and becoming preppers in the desert for the great tribulations that are about to descend on us at the end of September 2015. Or over the next year. She can’t be specific. Visions rarely have a time stamp on them, you know.

The most troubling aspect of the Julie Rowe following is that in some respects, it shares a lot of similarities to what lead to the Mountain Meadows massacre. There’s a lot of anti-government rhetoric, fueled by the media, a paranoia that the government is going to crack down, a lot of extremely twitchy second amendment types, doomsday prepping on a massive scale, some tacit approval from the church authorities and many religious zealots who fear they’re going to be under attack soon. Not a good combination. Somebody’s going to get hurt. In this respect, the more legitimate media outlets are not doing their duties, obsessed as they are with trying to knock Hillary Clinton out of the presidential race. The next Great Disappointment and the accompanying fallout isn’t even on their radar yet but the west is full of some very deluded people and some of them have guns.

The general sense I’m getting is that the Witnesses and the Mormons are starting to panic. It’s making them more authoritarian, they’re excommunicating and disfellowshipping left and right and demanding complete obedience to the authorized earthly authorities while at the same time, broadcasting about their even more urgent needs for money. As John Dehlin has observed from his interviews with academics who follow trends in religion, people are leaving these religions in droves.

I blame the internet.

They probably do too, which is why the faithful are told to avoid it.

Catholicism on the other hand seems to be having a bit of a moment due to the new pope. It’s still a patriarchal religion that is *trying* to be authoritarian but can’t quite pull it off anymore. Catholics are on to the church. For many Catholics, it’s a cultural affiliation, not a religious one. Catholicism is comfortable with evolution, the Old Testament as mythology and many other modernities. They’re not cracking down on your conscience for trusting Darwin or reading real history. Plus, Catholics aren’t into shunning like real authoritarian churches are. They do have an indoctrination regime but it’s not significantly worse than Presbyterians at this point.And yeah, you can read the bible on your own. At some point since the birth of the printing press, Catholics stopped fighting that losing battle.

That doesn’t mean it’s still not run by a insular band of red beanie boys in Rome for whom sticking to the script is part of some political pissing contest that has nothing to do with their worldwide constituency. But Pope Francis seems to be successfully changing the focus of the church from an obsession with sexual morality to global economic inequality. I’m sure his upcoming visit is going to get a lot of attention and make many people uncomfortable. Maybe the next Pope will see the light on women. This one seems to be channeling Occupy Wall Street. Pass the popcorn.

Finally, the 2016 Reason Rally has found a venue at the Lincoln Memorial. I went to the last one with my then resident atheist who surprised me with her Beatlemania reaction to the prospect of seeing Richard Dawkins in person. I had NO idea. So, I took her. It rained like crazy but there was a substantial mass of thousands of people. I expect that the one next year will be even more crowded.

You don’t have to be an atheist to go. I’m not. I’m more of a panentheist who doesn’t believe god is a supernatural being but I digress. All that is needed is that you believe that the people screaming about being oppressed over their “religious liberties” have been getting far too much attention and it’s time for them to grow up and realize they’re not the only people in this country who count.

I’m going to start saving my pennies for that one. It’s reasonable.

Finally, Happiness is former Jehovah’s Witnesses waking up and dancing for joy. Cue the music John Cedars:

13 Responses

  1. Nice to see you’re back!

  2. Welcome back,you’ve been missed. I kept waiting for you to comment when Hillary started talking about the need for further R & D to stimulate the economy. I thought to myself,Riverdaughter will be pleased to hear that.( Been following you since ’08)Plus it’s way past time to revitalize the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit.
    Onward through the fog!

  3. Girl friend, you have been missed,
    I love your writing.

  4. welcome back RD, you have been missed! How is the job going?

  5. Good to see a new posting!

  6. I’m glad you’re back!

  7. I am blah on the whole presidential primaries so far. I have no faith that it makes sense to invest time and energy getting excited about anyone. I’d like to be excited, but I am afraid it will be just another let down when the party makes a decision for flash over substance.

    I honestly don’t understand how the supposed morality focus of these religious groups equates with Christianity. Their role model was not about “rewarding the comfortable” and living a life judging and excluding the poor and needy while enslaving women and children to the whims of men. I will never understand how that message could have been culled from the New Testament above all the other messages. I personally think they have placed themselves above God by forgetting the needs of their neighbors and focusing only on like minded families. The Jewish leaders of the Bible made this mistake and Jesus set them straight so they had him killed.

    I am a Christian but more of the “Love the sinner and let God forgive the sin” sort. Clearly not up to snuff for religious extremists.

    I enjoy your writing. I hope you have time and inspiration for more!

    • The Dem PartyLords didn’t make a decision for flash over substance. They made a decision for Wall Street over Main Street.

      Is there any unbiased third-party evidence in any historical record somewhere that the Jewish leaders of the Bible had Jesus killed? I thought it was the Roman authorities who had Jesus killed. Crucifixion was a Roman execution method. The Jewish bible leader execution method would have been stoning-to-death. Have I been wrong all along?

      • I honestly don’t know if there is a reliable 3rd party or non-religious history of Jesus’ crucifixion. Reliable being the key – I’ve heard there are accounts outside the church but I’m not convinced they are actually outside the church.

        The Roman government/court leader (Pilot) was influenced by the church leadership of Jesus’ people (Jewish) to arrest him. Jesus was upsetting the Jewish Church leaders with unorthodox behavior like healing people on the Sabbath and they turned him over to the Romans by bribing Judas to identify him.

        • It is possible that the early Church, knowing it would have to live under the Roman Empire for many years, whitewashed the Roman role in the death of Jesus, at the expense of the Jewish religious bigwigs.

          I am a Christian, if a somewhat heretical one, and I cherish the Scriptures, but I know they are neither factually nor ethically infallible.

  8. 16 years (and 2 days) have passed, but I still miss the Moon. :mrgreen:

  9. Thought you were going to go Social Media but you’re back. I’m glad as I don’t do Facebook or Twitter.
    Are we living in Interesting Times yet?
    What with Donald Trump leading the republican Clown Pack it seems like the eve.

    Anyway come PA’s primary I’ll vote for Hillary then again in the general just because the next president will get to appoint a SCOTUS justice or two. I have no expectations of an FDR Democrat getting the White House until voter standards of living go further South.

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