Thursday, January 15, 2009

Being Different

I've not much experience with being different, not truly. Like, I wonder what it's like to grow up in a religion other than Christianity. Are those who grow up different taught how to deal with being different?

image Sometimes (rarely), I get irked, like on a professional piano teaching list I'm on, they are SO Christian as to sort of assume everyone else must be Christian and it's the only way to be unless something is wrong with you, in which case you must be converted. I'm cool with offering prayers, but praising God and Jesus and attaching bible verses and such on a professional list, gets on my nerves every now and then.

While I do not want to belong to their religious group, I feel I should belong to their professional group, and that overt pushing makes me feel outside of it.

But again, I don't have much experience on how to be different.

I do enjoy talking about different faiths and religions, a LOT. So give me a good discussion about the varying protestant faiths and catholicism, etc., and I'm there. A discussion comparing Christianity and Judaism with pagan rituals, and I'm thrilled.

I don't mind being told Merry Christmas, and I go out of my way to tell everyone Merry Christmas who is Christian. I celebrate Christmas lights with enormous enthusiasm.

Then there's eh-hem. My husband and I are a little different, but not very different, not hardly. Still, someone reviewed one of my stories on Amazon as having "sick sex" in it, which astonished me, LOL. (I had to re-read it, and it was an old one; she should have ranted on the head-hopping! I think, for her, she was shocked it had sex in it all. She'd expected a wholesome, religious-themed story, for some bizarre reason.)

imageIt made me think of this man I discussed gay marriage with, and he had the same attitude about gay sex. He didn't see the love; he just saw something sick. I don't know how the LGBT community deals with that everyday.

I feel like it's a skill I need to learn.

Sex is a beautiful, healthy thing, no matter the way you do it. It is an expression of self and of love, of sharing, of intimacy. The only "sick" way to do sex is to do it in a way that is unnatural and unappealing to you, to stifle the natural desires you were born with, or to be forced to do it against your will. Or to force someone (or even something). Anything unconsensual is something I can't abide, and that includes age. It makes me sad that some of the world's most beautiful writing was wasted on Lolita.

Otherwise, it is healthy and right and natural to be yourself. I can honestly think of nothing more healthy and natural than sex. It's hardwired into us; there's no real options there: just the natural way for a human to be.

Just my rambles today. Any thoughts? (Or have I treaded into the land of TMI?)

33 bonus scribbles:

Robin 1/15/2009 12:41:00 PM  

It's funny - I spent the majority of my childhood in a completely non-Jewish town, and never met up with a scrap of prejudice. Then we moved to a town where 40% of people were Jewish, and I heard all sorts of racial slurs. I was shocked! It almost seems to me that when minorities "speak up", or grow into a group that is not such a minority, people feel threatened and the bashing begins.

conley730 1/15/2009 01:01:00 PM  

I totally agree that religion should be kept out of professional organizations. I am very interested in learning about different religions too. It's fascinating to me.

Edie 1/15/2009 01:06:00 PM  

I'm Jewish, even though I don't practice the religion. It bugs me when a professional organization brings religion into it.

My library buys a lot of hardcover Christian romance books, more than other genre. I know the purchasing librarian. I should talk to her about it some day and ask why so many. I can see some, but the number of them is way out of whack.

rjkeller 1/15/2009 01:18:00 PM  

1. Where is this story of yours that's filled with 'sick sex'? I wanna piece of that.

2. "The only "sick" way to do sex is to do it in a way that is unnatural and unappealing to you..." Right on sister!

3. "they are SO Christian as to sort of assume everyone else must be Christian and it's the only way to be unless something is wrong with you, in which case you must be converted." I get SO irritated with that kind of blanket assumption. It usually comes with a sneer and/or raised eyebrow.

colbymarshall 1/15/2009 02:29:00 PM  

I have several very good friends who are gay, and so I only want their happiness. Living in the middle of the Bible Belt, though, a lot of people in my area are those people who only see that as something sick. It makes me so sad.

Angie 1/15/2009 03:56:00 PM  

I'm an atheist and I would have a horribly difficult time on that list, so it's probably just as well I'm not a piano teacher. If I were, I'd feel a need to engage with the other list members about their horribly unprofessional behavior (although I wouldn't phrase it that way), even knowing that getting them to change was unlikely, especially if I were the only one objecting. (Although I'll bet you weren't the only person on the list who was uncomfortable with it.)

Only if people stand up and engage will the people saying or doing offensive things (and yes, the active assumption that every single person on a professional list is Christian is pretty darned offensive) start realizing that no, their opinion is not shared by 100% of the group. And others who might've felt too intimidated to speak up might be encouraged.

It probably won't work the first time, no. But doing it over and over (not necessarily on that list, but wherever you see that sort of thing going on) bit by bit creates a culture which is less tolerant of offensive assumptions. Here it's, "Oh, we're all Christians here." Somewhere else it might be, "Oh, we're all white here," or "we're all straight here," or "we're all men here." Those assumptions tend to quash or warp the participation of others who aren't actually members of the dominant group.

If it were a church mailing list, then that's one thing; you probably don't want unbelievers on your church mailing list, and that's fine. On a professional list, it's pretty outrageous. :/

Angie

Melissa Marsh 1/15/2009 03:58:00 PM  

Speaking as a Christian, I can completely understand where you're coming from about those who are preaching their faith on a professional board. I don't want to push my religion on anyone. So for the record, we're not all that way. :-)

Rick 1/15/2009 05:05:00 PM  

I go away for awhile and come back to find you been accused to writing about "sick sex." Wait til Mr. Sternberg finds about this.

Rick 1/15/2009 05:11:00 PM  

Seriously, though, Spy, as a Reiki practitioner, Mason, alchemist, ninjutsu practicioner and Sasquatch tracker, I have noticed that most people have been very open minded and considerate of my rather arcane beliefs.

Yet, people of different Christian denominations can be quite insensitive, rude, and even oppressive to each other.

So maybe you just have to be a little more different to be treated better. I believe that is just possible people would treat aliens better than they do other humans with different skin color and or different beliefs.

Melanie Avila 1/15/2009 07:39:00 PM  

I'm also a Christian and get VERY irritated when people force religion into places where it doesn't belong (like outside of a church). I'm friends with people for whom religion is a key part of their life, but they don't try to force things down my throat. I respect anyone that lives their life according to their God (whoever he/she is) but I shouldn't be made to feel less important because I don't feel the exact same way. I don't mean this to come out ranty - Melissa said what I'm thinking a little more calmly. :)

L.C. Gant 1/15/2009 10:06:00 PM  

I'm a Christian as well, and I agree that the religious references should have been kept off the professional board. Not to defend it, but I can see how that happened. In this era of political correctness, it's often hard to know where one's personal beliefs really belong anymore.

I love discussing other peoples' cultures, religions and backgrounds; I think it broadens my perspective of the world. But to echo what Melanie said, I don't think anyone should be made to feel like they have to agree about everything. Sometimes people just have to agree to disagree.

For example, there are people of many different faiths (not just Christians) who will probably never agree with same sex relationships, and--I'm going out on a limb here--I don't think they should have to. Should they respect everyone, regardless of who they have sex with? Absolutely. Should they insult or degrade them in any way? Definitely not. Should they be pressured to endorse a lifestyle that conflicts with their religious views? I don't think so.

It all boils down to the difference between respect and agreement. And there is definitely a difference.

Hope I haven't offended anyone. I've been attacked for my religious views myself and I would never intentionally do it to anyone else.

LaDonna 1/15/2009 10:55:00 PM  

Hey Spy, I'm spiritual and not a fan of dogma. I love exploring my truth wherever I find it. One of the most thought provoking things I ever read was, humanity's biggest mistake is the need to be right. I'm always thinking, why can't we all get along? LOL

Like you, I don't have to be right, and it doesn't bother me at all when someone has widely different views. I think we're all on a unique path, and whatever we need for ourselves we'll find.

I've also had the experience of someone preaching to me about how there's only one way, etc. I felt sorry for them, but then again it's their desire...not mine. Your story about the professional piano list... I totally get your frustration. Nothing is attractive if it's forced, or if it makes someone feel less or bad.

Ottavina 1/15/2009 11:48:00 PM  

Yeah, I've decided that my own spiritual practice is just mine, just for me, and I don't need an organization to rain on my parade. I've been getting into alchemy lately, and I'm amazed at how close friends deal with that:
"Shall we call you Merlin now?"
"Now you're Wiccan, just like me!"
"Oh my God, don't you know...you might as well just be a Satanist!"
"So what level of the game are you on?"
"Huh, glad that's workin' for ya. You know, you should come to my Unitarian church sometime. It's sOoOo AMAZING."
"That's so...Western. I favor Buddhism. You should check it out, too."

Etc. The thing I don't like are the assumptions. Either that I don't know anything about the religion/philosophy of whomever I'm chatting with, or that his/her church/path is so awesome and one-size-fits-all that you'd have to be SILLY not to like it.

I'm open-minded. I draw my own spiritual concepts from Eastern and Western traditions. That's it. I respect the religious and spiritual choices of others. I just wish they did the same for me.

spyscribbler 1/15/2009 11:59:00 PM  

Robin, what's funny, is that if I compare "normal" people to "kinky" people, the kinky are the most prejudiced. They judge like you wouldn't believe! "We do this but not that. If you are seized by passion to give your partner a hicky, then you are okay, but if you bite them, then you are officially BDSM and not us."

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:01:00 AM  

Erin, me too. I really don't mind the calls for prayers and such, just the bible verses and the lecturing on list.

I would love to take a comparative religions class.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:22:00 AM  

Edie, I don't go to the library enough to notice. I don't see much Jewish fiction at the store, though, and hardly any Wiccan or pagan fiction. Unless you count fiction-fiction, as opposed to "inspirational" religious fiction.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:23:00 AM  

LOL, RJ! That is SO sweet! I'd be embarrassed for anyone to see the head-hopping therein contained. God, I used to suck. I'm sure I still do, but my old stuff haunts me.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:24:00 AM  

Oh, Colby, that is sad. I was so depressed talking to this gentleman. He just could not see the love. It really bothered me.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:26:00 AM  

Angie, I have to admit, during a call for prayers and after a multitude of religious tracts and bible verses, I offered a Blessed Be and a prayer to the Goddess. But it was for all the wrong reasons, and I felt ashamed of myself, afterward. Seriously.

I don't know how to handle that. I guess I need to just ignore it.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:28:00 AM  

Melissa, yeah, I know! Since most of my friends are Christians, I can definitely say I don't think they are. I've even spent a fair deal of my life working in churches, believe it or not!

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:32:00 AM  

LOL, Rick! I keep telling Mr. Sternberg (Ohmigawd, I just realized my very first hero in my very first story had that last name!) that he should write erotica, and he keeps ignoring me.

I believe that is just possible people would treat aliens better than they do other humans with different skin color and or different beliefs.

Again, you did that thing where I think you are meaning to joke, but I think you said something profound and true. You do that a lot. :-)

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:34:00 AM  

Melanie, exactly. I love people whose faith is important to them. I see it as an admirable trait.

People knocking on my door trying to convert me? Not so much, LOL!

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:46:00 AM  

L.C., I'm not sure if I read into your post incorrectly, but my feeling is that voting against people's right to have same-sex marriage on the basis of not wanting to endorse something against their religious views is the same as voting against a different religion on the basis of believing in their own religion. This country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion.

This isn't the best analogy because I'm sleepy, but: I don't use microwaves and I think they're terribly unhealthy, but I don't seek to outlaw others the right to use or own them. I would tell someone not to use them with my dying breath... but I would never dream of voting against someone's right to use them.

Our freedoms and the right to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" are things I feel quite strongly about.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:48:00 AM  

"I'm spiritual and not a fan of dogma. I love exploring my truth wherever I find it. One of the most thought provoking things I ever read was, humanity's biggest mistake is the need to be right. I'm always thinking, why can't we all get along?"

I love that, LaDonna! Exactly! What's kinda funny, is the woman friend who most wants me to be Christian is actually the one who turned me most off of it, LOL. I'm sure this would not crack her up.

But you take such a good outlook, when other people try to convert you.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 12:51:00 AM  

Ottavina, I still remember a conversation we had on Catholicism, once! Isn't that funny? It's always sort of stuck in my memory. I don't even remember your exact words, just that I completely agreed, LOL.

"What level of the game are you on?" Sheesh!

I think people are most off-put by the fact that I am so "kitchen sink" with my religion. I think they'd be more comfortable if I agreed to believe ONE thing, but no, I have to go and take a little of this, and a little of that. LOL!

Merry Monteleone 1/16/2009 01:01:00 AM  

Spy,

The more I read you the more I identify with you. There's a site called Rue's Kitchen you might like, though I don't know if she's kept it up in a while... she's a kitchen witch and most of her stuff is strehga with a combination of Italian spells and folklore and Catholicism mixed in...

I'd love a conversation comparing various religions to old pagan and wiccan spells - it's very similar and endlessly fascinating.

And, like you, I love hearing about other people's beliefs and cultures. While I do think that people sometimes put their own beliefs above other peoples, I think just as often it's the person who perceives a judgment that's not necessarily there. Sometimes when people are discussing their religion it's not meant to make anyone else feel bad or recruit them... they just want to talk about what's important to them - and they'd often be open with hearing what's important to others... not always, but that's not relegated to any particular group... that's a human failing, not one of a certain faith.

Interesting post. Let me know if you ever lead a discussion about faith. I'd love to read along.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 01:18:00 AM  

Ooh, found it, Merry! Love it! My grandmother was from Italy (Catholic, of course) and she could see auras. I don't know much about her, sadly. We didn't talk as much as I now wish we had. I bet I would have loved what she had to say.

I agree about the reading into it part. I ask myself that all the time. I think perhaps part of it is that, while Judaism or Buddhism (for example) are not a majority, Christianity is, so like Robin said, it becomes more threatening to us humans. I don't know.

I talk now and then about it. Every time I stumble upon a faith that inspires me. I've been studying Rumi and Sufism lately. Beautiful. Fascinating. Mix it on in, LOL!

L.C. Gant 1/16/2009 02:41:00 AM  

Spy, I was afraid to comment because I thought my words might be misunderstood, and I think they were a little. I wasn't talking about voting against same-sex marriage specifically, more like agreement in conversations or debates like this one. I can see how you made the leap to Prop 8, though.

I absolutely agree with your point about religion and "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." What makes the issue so difficult is that so many people in this country see same-sex marriage as an either/or issue: either you support someone else's beliefs, or you uphold your own. They feel like they have to choose between the two.

I'm playing devil's advocate here, but it's like a story I heard about a Muslim woman who was required to uncover her head in a courtroom setting; when she didn't do it, it was seen as a sign of disrespect to the judge, but if she had, it would've been a violation of her beliefs. Do you see what I mean? How do you reconcile two belief systems that contradict each other? So people find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

I may be reading into your words as well, but it seems I upset you and I'm truly sorry if that happened. I understand that you feel strongly about this, so I won't comment any more if you don't want me to. I respect you and everyone else here too much to say things that are hurtful. That's the tough thing about conversations like this--it's so easy to say the wrong thing in the wrong way.

spyscribbler 1/16/2009 02:52:00 AM  

Good gracious, L.C., no. We could have rip-roaring old debate about it, LOL, and I'd still want you around. :-)

I'm a passionate person, though, so I hope you'll forgive me.

I totally agree about a rock and a hard place. It is. It's hard to ask someone who believes, with their whole heart, that gay marriage is a sin, to vote for gay marriage. I keep asking myself, if I believed gay marriage to be an abomination, (which I don't!) would I still vote for it?

I pray I would.

I think this is the odd part of our system, in that our country is a democracy (mostly) led by (mostly) majority rule, and yet one of its principles (supposedly) is the protection of minorities. How does this protection of minorities occur when the majority rules?

I don't know. Too sleepy to do anything but come up with questions.

But come back, please. A debate would be good. Please do disagree with me. I will still like you and welcome you in the end, I absolutely promise. You can agree, too, if you want. Whichever. :-)

Stephanie 1/16/2009 08:43:00 AM  

It's a tough line to walk. I was married for ten years to a man whose family was extremely religions AND judgmental and to me, the two never quite seemed to blend. They'd say "Judge the sin, not the sinner" but once his sister sat right there and told me anyone who gets divorced is going to Hell. I said, "So you're saying my mom is going to Hell?" She just kept repeating, "The Bible says the only reason for divorce is adultery" over and over.

Of course, I guess now both her brother AND I are going to Hell...

Realmcovet 1/16/2009 06:29:00 PM  

Sex is definately a beautiful thing, when consentual. I agree with you 100% Spy.

And I know what you mean about the whole "Christianity" thing. It's heartbreaking to see that something that was/is SUPPOSED to be promoting love is more successful in being divisive. But then there are people like you who make such a beautiful difference in the world.

L.C. Gant 1/16/2009 09:57:00 PM  

Spy, I'm so relieved to hear you're not mad. I was worried. I can debate these sort of things from dawn till dusk as long as no one gets hurt or angry. But as soon as someone gets upset, I go into maternal mode: "Are you okay? Are you SURE you're okay?" LOL!

When it comes to same-sex marriage, I'm afraid I don't have any answers, either. I agree with Stephanie, it's hard to really say you love Jesus and then walk around telling everyone they're going to hell. I mean, who wants to hear that?

I like what Barack Obama said once about abortion, which is just as controversial for a lot of people. He said we may not be able to disagree, but we should be able to find common ground. Instead of focusing on abortion itself, let's work to prevent the teen pregnancies that cause it in the first place.

I think that's the key with same-sex marriage as well. Maybe everyone doesn't agree with it on a personal level, but when you think about the societal benefits of it (like children being adopted by loving, married parents), they're things we all want. So maybe stressing that point is how you get the hardcore right-wingers to come around.

At any rate, you've given me a lot to think about, so thanks for that :-)

Zoe Winters 1/17/2009 09:20:00 AM  

Spy, I agree with Kel, I totally want to read the "sick sex" book.

Of course I also decided to give LKH another try only AFTER people started saying it had "devolved into vamp and were porn" i was like "really? sign me up for that, dude!"

And what's wrong with biting?

As for the religion thing...I live in a very religiously conservative town, and I have had to, over the past several years just learn to ignore it. It's annoying as crap, but people like this (and by "people like this" I mean the pushy fundamentalists, which isn't to say all fundamentalists are pushy ones, which is why I specified the pushy ones), have a sense of entitlement. They are "right" and their beliefs are the "true and correct" ones, so other people's rights NOT to be harassed by their religion doesn't enter into it.

After all, their harassment might save your soul. *insert eyeroll*