‘Prayers for Bobby,’ a Primer for Parents of Gay Children

If you want to see a real tearjerker with a good message, watch Prayers for Bobby. It’s a Lifetime movie, but one of the few that may stand the test of time (continued reruns on cable) as it records the efforts of Mary Griffith to come to terms with her gay son’s suicide, and while it is TV quality, it is one of Sigourney Weaver’s better performances (Aliens is still the best though!).

The true story is simple enough: a son comes out of the closet in a moderately religious home in the seventies and the situation goes from bad to worse as the well-intentioned mother tries to fix her child using The Bible and therapy. Only too late does she realize there is nothing to fix. Bobby, in a world of emotional pain due to rejection by his mother and seemingly the world, and a new boyfriend who cheats (at least that’s the way it appeared), decides to end it all. A not uncommon story in the gay teen community. When you tear kids down in their adolescence they either give up or they recover in their adulthood. I don’t believe Christian fundamentalists realize how much damage they do when they denigrate gay people. Taking away a person’s self-esteem leaves them defenseless when esteem is most needed (first love break-ups or spousal abuse as examples).

As with all tragedies, people tend to reach deeper into their faith, question it, and often can come out of it as stronger people. This was the case for Mary Griffith who somehow had to find forgiveness for what she described in the film as breaking down her son’s self-esteem. It’s not surprising she became an activist for gay rights after joining Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and at the end of the film it shows her looking enthusiastic as ever with white hair and a smile. Good for her, activism was her recovery.

This film is aimed at believers, in particular Christians, so freethinking atheists will probably roll their eyes at the Biblical explanations for why The Bible is not necessarily anti-gay. I’m not sure how defining “abomination” as “unclean” is really any better because if God presided over Israel and was allowing them to put gays to death (as well as all the other rules that could get you killed or banished for being unclean) then what good is that? Why even bother with The Bible? I guess the intention is that Biblical laws are not meant for all time periods. True, but if God does not change we can judge his past to get an idea of his opinions on certain social issues. You can interpret The Bible in its ancient context but how do you pull a modern God out of it?

Religious ties hold fast and are not easily cut. But it is better that the obvious hypocrisies of conservative/literalist Christianity are pointed out  in Prayers for Bobby.

If you’re a gay friendly Christian or a parent of a gay child, you’ll love the film. For us manly heterosexual men–watch it, absorb it, and then pop in Aliens! It is after all a Lifetime movie and there’s just so many tears you can take. Hell, even gay geeks like Aliens (you know you’re out there, reading comic books and watching cheezy movies just like I do).

‘All American Muslim,’ New TLC Show Looks Promising

TLC is experimenting with another reality show focusing on American Muslims which is aptly titled “All American Muslim.” I think it is a great idea.

The location is in Dearborn, Michigan which boasts the largest mosque in the United States and the series will premiere in November. With all of the misunderstandings on what an American Muslim is versus the overseas terrorists that constantly make the news this reality show could prove to be a real eye opener. The problem with Islam is not necessarily stereotyping, but that we are unfamiliar with different types of Islamic beliefs–or rather how different groups of people practice Islam. Islam isn’t peace, Muslims who choose to be peaceful are about peace. I believe this is the case with a majority of American Muslims.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, the show will feature 5 diverse American Muslim families. Diverse as in no Muslim family can be exactly alike and I would be curious to see how much each family differs on issues of religious interpretation or how their religion affects their everyday lives. Are some families casual practitioners like some Christian families or are they all strict? Is tradition losing out to the young who see the freedom of growing up in the United States?

I believe even with all of its faults Americanism (including our self-indulgent pop culture) is one of the best ways to temper the more radical elements of Islam, or any other religion for that matter. Admittedly, radicalization often is more political than spiritual but other issues of female equality and homophobia are promulgated in chauvinistic Middle East societies which base their beliefs on the Koran. A more tolerant and liberal interpretation is needed to bring the religion in step with modern values. Of course, I would be happy if we would be done with Allah and the other gods but I know that’s not realistic. One step at a time…

Moral Authority Whump

No one has all the answers when it comes to questions like this. If you believe you do, you scare me. Moral authority and questions of morality are ones that require some deep thought. I believe some of the basic answers are simple but there are plenty of gray areas for debate where we may never have a solid answer.

If you think The Littlest Atheist is down and out stay tuned as he faces the Lake of Fire (or rather the baptismal pool turned into a lake of fire).

Shut the Front Door Oreo Offensiveness

I overheard a conversation the other day about an Oreo commercial that was upsetting conservative Christians because they figured the commercial was basically getting away with saying, “Shut the fuck up!” by saying “Shut the front door!” instead. More stupidity from super sensitive people who would ban the word darn (which really means damn) if they could.

The protest group in question is One Million Moms and you can read a blog post on it at MyNorthwest.com. They started an email campaign against Nabisco/Kraft because of this commercial. Surprise, surprise, if you go to their website who do they happen to be affiliated with but The American Family Association–a bunch of bigots who would rather have us go back to the dark ages of gays in the closet and women subservient to men (per The Bible) instead of  progressing forward. The list of targets on the site includes: NBC for the new Playboy Club show, Procter & Gamble for a Febreze commercial  because someone says, “Oh my God,” and Zappos for nude models in their “More Than Shoes” campaign.

“Oh my fuckin’ God!” what a waste of time. Is this what conservative uptight Christians bring to the table? Protests against trivial issues while the economy is in the shit and people are losing jobs, not to mention the new famine in Somalia. Is this how shallow The American Family Association is? Even if Christianity is true how does this save souls? Seems to fall in step with the legalism of the Pharisees who couldn’t see the bigger picture.

Well, goddammit (and I’m purposefully peppering this post with colorful language), I happen to love Oreos because they’re one of the few store-bought cookies that doesn’t have dairy and I’m lactose intolerant to the extreme. Now I can’t have the new product they’re pushing in the “Shut the Front Door “ad because Oreo Fudge Cremes I believe do have dairy (damn! damn! damn!), but I plan to pick up a box of good ol’ fashioned Oreos tomorrow just to spite the fuckin’ One Million Moms and The American Family Association. Oreos aren’t just for kids and frankly, we’re all using euphemisms to be polite to sensitive uptights like the One Million Moms. Maybe we shouldn’t extend that consideration anymore so people could get used to sound the word “fuck” makes–after all, how do you get to be a mom? By fucking!

BTW: The people I overheard talking about this Oreo commercial were all working moms and they thought One Million Moms were being stupid and should get a life. I couldn’t agree more. This petty behavior disguised as morality.

Why So Many Mormon Executives?

BusinessInsider.com has a brief article on why there are so many Mormons in business that make it to the executive level or go into politics. The reason is that all Mormon men are required to go through 2 years of Mormon missionary training which can double as training for success in business. Business has to do with sales and not taking no for an answer. When a young man has already gone through the process of rejection several times a day for up to two years they build up that thick skin that propels them forward.

I briefly worked in a sales office and I completely agree with the conclusions of the article. It’s a tough job selling God, especially a bastardized Christian offshoot. I’ve always tried to be nice to Mormon missionaries as one of my best friends was Mormon growing up and I know these young men get the door slammed in their faces or are told to “F-off”. I don’t ever want missionaries to feel like they’ve been rejected because of the message itself as it reaffirms the persecution complex that both Mormons and fundamentalist Christians have.

As atheists, agnostics or other unbelievers I would suggest it would be better to have a brief conversation with them if you have time or, hell, have your own tract and exchange it with them. I believe in engagement, not outright rejection. After all, we could just as easily been born into a Mormon family and it isn’t easy to revert the brainwashing of early childhood.

Apologetics Makes You Wanna Take a Nap

If you ever have been in one of those long conversations on apologetics you will find yourself mentally exhausted at the end. It feels like you’ve been going around in circles and you can’t understand why the  other person doesn’t get it. Well, one reason I believe is that people have to come to their own conclusions and all you can really do is question their assumptions and point them in the right direction. Faith carries with it incredibly complex arguments that at the core are built on nonsense (not just for religion, but bad science  or pseudoscience). Often they’re like puzzles to decipher until you get to that core and say, “Hey, what the hell you talking about?”

Disgusting Rabbits, Unintelligent Design

Yes, rabbits are disgusting. Disgusting alone doesn’t necessarily mean unintelligent design but having to eat food twice to get the nutrients is inefficient.

What is really being contrasted here is the difference between what is touted as intelligent design and what is  ugly nature.  To sell intelligent design IDers focus on the beautiful or the public perception of what is beautiful. Animals such as horses, giraffes, elephants, etc. They ignore parasites, diseases, inventive ways animals kill each other, and rabbits eating from their own ass. It’s just not good marketing for a creator God who is supposed to represent all that is good and beautiful in the world.

Human Emotions

Emotions do present a problem if you read The Bible. If you can make God sad or angry, you essentially display some power over him (even if he does fry you in the end). For instance, I know what buttons to push to make my wife angry and if we’re in an argument and I want to escalate (and if I’m stupid enough to do it) I can say certain things that will hurt her. The same seems to be true of God throughout the Bible and therefore how can God be all powerful if he can be hurt? In other words, he has a secret weakness–emotions.

God is also referred to often as a “jealous God.” It comes off as petty because you can’t force someone to love you, but that’s exactly what God does. Worship another God or depiction of a god and you’ll find yourself swalowed up by the ground. In the New Testament this jealous vindictiveness isn’t so swift–you wait until you die and then suffer eternally in hell.

If you want to believe in God, don’t base it on a book written over time by men. It’s just too obvious through studying that book (and I would guess The Koran as well) that they represent human emotions and desires, and therefore the god being written about is an amplification of imperfect mortals.