December 3, 2011

The Nativity of Saint Nicholas

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On the drive home from dinner tonight, in a not-so-desirable neighborhood, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

It was past the kids' bedtime and they were both cranky and crying. They had a busy day. And yet...

"Jerry. Turn around."

"Why? No!"

"I'm not turning around."



"TURN THE FUCK AROUND. IT'S IMPORTANT."

~~Three minutes later~~

"Pull into that cafe. Drive casual."

"Why. Are. We. Here."

(from the backseat "waaaaaaa!!!" "can we go home?!")

"Jerry. That's baby Jesus in a fireplace. With a reindeer."

"What? No, that's a manger."

"Mangers don't have chimneys."

"Where are you going?! Those people are looking at you!"

"I'm taking a picture of their gorgeous decoration! What's the problem?"

"Oh my God."

Now, dear Reader, I share this with you. Sorry about the quality. I didn't want to be forced to squeal like a pig if I could avoid it.

I'm hoping it represents the birth of Santa, because the alternative - burning baby Jesus in effigy - is much more ominous. This may actually tie everything together! Christmas isn't pagan or Christian. Santa was born in a fireplace (where he now delivers gifts, hello!) under the adoring eye of Mary, Joseph, three wise men, and a reindeer. Cordoned off by a picket fence and some giant candy canes.

Or is this what they use for Festivus?     -Kim



September 6, 2011

I Hate Married Men



I'm a stay-at-home-mom. I spend lots and lots and lots of time interacting with other moms and kids. It's wonderful.

Sometimes I encounter dads. And dads all have the Exact. Same. Problem.

They think I'm hitting on them.

Here's a hypothetical situation that happened to me this morning at my daughter's gymnastics class:

"Hey! Are you Anna's daddy?"

/cautiously/ "Yes."

"Oh my gosh, she is the best kid in class! I'm so glad you're getting a chance to watch her. She's patient, she's a great listener, and she's extremely talented! My kid looks like the Tasmanian Devil next to her. You should be very proud."

"So, you've met my wife then?"

"Uh. I don't think so. Doesn't your nanny normally bring her?"

"Yes."

ForTheLoveOfChrist

I turn to another mom: "Blah blah blah ~something about my husband~ blah."

Then the guy is my BFF for the rest of class.

WHAT IS THIS, MEN?! I DON'T GET IT!

I said: "Your daughter is top notch. You should be proud."

He heard: "Your ass is smokin' in those Dockers. Brown loafers with tassels make me wet. How about you and me hit the back seat of my minivan while the kids are in class? Let me just go move the stuffed monkey and burp cloths out of the way. Sure, finish your latte. Absolutely."

First of all (and completely beside the point) white collar guys make me want to barf. Give me a bearded mechanic, a tattooed punk rocker, ANYTHING but some dumbass with a Bluetooth babbling about paradigm shifts.

To be fair, single guys do it too. I can have a conversation with a single guy, though. Why?

Single guy: "She totally wants a piece of this. She's fat and old, but whatever. It's a slow day. I guess I have time for a little doggy style."

Married guy: "RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!"

There are only two reasons married men may behave this way. One is that they don't want to have sex with me.
~yeah, right~

We are talking about men. Let's face it, the best possible outcome of every conversation for a man is a blow job.

So, as a woman / wife / feminist I am sad to admit that they are afraid of... their wives.

Oh, god. Are we women that bad? Are our poor men so henpecked that they look over their shoulder whenever they come within 10 yards of a vagina?

Lighten up, ladies! Are you wives or are you jailers? Are you that afraid of betrayal? Because, frankly, if he's that easily led astray you're better off alone.

The only thing a husband OR a wife should avoid is disrespecting their spouse. If my family is out to dinner and I spend the whole meal making eyes and a handsome young soldier then I am totally disrespecting my husband! If I go to gymnastics and have a conversation with a man about our kids, the weather, or when Rules of Engagement is coming back on it has nothing to do with my marriage.

Argh.

I'd love to see the look on these women's faces if they got a text from their husband saying: "This chick in front of me at Wal Mart is practically naked! Too bad the camera on my phone makes a clicking sound. I wonder if I can disable that."

Or if their husband came home and said: "There's a really hot woman who works in the building next to mine and I haven't seen her in ages. Maybe she quit. That sucks."

My husband does stuff like that all the time! Why should I care? He's married, not dead.

If I'm being honest I guess I'd welcome a sister wife, as long as she doesn't mind vacuuming. I really hate vacuuming. I'll take the toilets instead if that's cool.

You may be surprised to learn that I didn't make an outline for this post.     
-Kim

Hypothesis: Something taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation; an assumption. Yeah, I totally know what it means. Has that been bothering you this whole time? Awesome.

August 27, 2011

Homeschooling?! Wait. What?

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I am incredibly fortunate. I have readers involved in all aspects of the schooling spectrum, and I want to hear from each and every one of them on this topic.

I have never, ever considered the possibility of homeschooling my child. Why? Four very solid reasons:

1) I want my children to have lifelong exposure to many opinions other than my own;

2) I believe the classroom setting prepares children to cope in the real world. I'm not talking about socialization, I'm talking about learning responsibility and respect for authority (even if you don't like the authority figure very much);

3) Teachers spend years in college learning how to educate children. That's why school is *there*, for heaven's sake; and

4) Teachers are specialized. I guarantee that any history teacher - at any school - knows more about history than I do. Even the creepy one who picks his nose while the kids are taking a test.

But...

My daughter is, like, crazy smart.

And we're starting to get the comments. You know the ones. "You do realize she's going to have to skip a grade, don't you?" "She's going to be bored." "You might have to put her in private school."

Dude - I've totally tried everything! We watch hours of TV, I buy her video games, give her coloring books instead of blank paper. Nothing helps. She just keeps getting smarter and smarter, and I'm all, STOP! Be stupid like everyone else, Jesus.

"I want to watch PBS Kids!"

"NO! You are going to sit there and watch Tom & Jerry and you are going to LIKE IT."

"What's this word, mommy? C says 'kuh,' A says 'aa,' T says 'tuh: 'kuh' 'aa' 'tuh' ... does it say 'CAT'?"

"No, GAWD, shut up and eat your Froot Loops. And make sure to spell 'fruit' like that."

Okay, I'm done.

But seriously. She's ridiculous. She turned three in June and she does addition and subtraction, simple phonics, she's starting to tell time (she can handle hours but she's not quite there with the minutes), the list just goes on and on.

I was a "gifted" student. The biggest lesson I've learned regarding IQ is that it is not, by any means, the most important factor in living a successful life. Let's take a moment to discuss it with Albert Einstein:

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
"The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking."
"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
That last one is my favorite. Any measure of IQ is going to be biased. But, really, that's a different post altogether.

The point is that, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I've been reading about homeschooling. Part of me is horrified. Part of me is intrigued. Part of me is wondering when Rules of Engagement will be back on.

Horrified: Anyone can homeschool. There is no certification process. There is no mandatory curriculum or testing standard. Legally you can never leave the house, watch Dr. Phil all day, and teach your children to wait patiently for the Sacred Toast Goat that will be appearing in the bathtub to take them away to Planet Xerox.

Intrigued: Should the government have a right to mandate what the nation's children are being taught? If children can't be required to learn about evolution or sex then why should they be required to learn about algebra or phonics? Where is the line?

In a more focused, less hypothetical vein - would this be a better option for my child(ren... who knows about the baby, he's probably a total moron. Seriously, he can't even crawl yet.)? At least for a while, until she is old enough to decide what she wants to do.

But then again... I was bullied in school. Might I inadvertently bias her against it?

I feel like my whole paradigm has shifted in one afternoon of Googling. I hate that. Stupid technology.

Wondering when Rules of Engagement will be back on: What the hell?! Why does TV just totally disappear in the summer? Repo Games and Tosh.0 were new for a while, now they're gone. Doesn't TV understand that some of us aren't playing at water parks and camping and flying to Orlando? ENTERTAIN ME, TV!

All hail the Sacred Toast Goat, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and TV. Oh yeah. Education. All hail education.     
-Kim

August 11, 2011

Breastfeeding. Oh yeah. I'm going there.

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After I gave birth to my son in February I broke down crying and yelled at a nurse in the middle of the night. I refused to let her take my baby again after that, choosing instead to keep him in my room and lose any rest I may have gotten otherwise.

What happened?

When my daughter was born I refused a blood transfusion and I attributed the fact that I couldn't breastfeed successfully to the severe anemia I experienced. I was living in a remote area at the time with no real access to breastfeeding support, so I eventually gave up trying since my daughter was obviously starving (this was after multiple phone calls, research, and talking to the pediatrician).

This time I was prepared. I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, bought a copy of Medications and Mothers' Milk, spoke with several friends and lactation consultants ahead of time, and even got myself a hooter hider. I looked up the La Leche League meetings in my area and wrote down their contact information.

We had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days because I'm Group B Strep positive and they wanted to monitor the baby to make sure he hadn't been exposed. I was still a patient because I hemorrhaged badly (again) after the delivery. I requested a transfusion as soon as the hemorrhaging began. The nurse was chuckling and said "Let's just hope it doesn't come to that." I know my body, though, and I wanted my feelings clear in case I became less lucid.

I had been fortunate enough to get my son started on my breast for an hour or so before they discovered the hemorrhage. The bleeding was internal and didn't manifest until I stood, so I cuddled and fed and delighted in the baby until I started feeling very ill and asked my husband to take him away.

Hemorrhage, blood transfusion... back to the baby. I breastfed that little SOB all night long while they were transfusing me. Folks, let me tell you: I CARED. I was GOING to breastfeed my son. I knew all the benefits of breast milk (to both mother and child) and I was absolutely determined to make it work this time.

Over the next couple of days, while I was recovering, I continued to breastfeed him. I noticed that every nurse coming on shift had a different opinion about what I should be doing. One nurse gave me a nipple shield, then the next nurse rolled her eyes and said "I can't believe so-and-so tried to get you to use a nipple shield" and proceeded to convince me to stop using it. Several of the nurses commented on my son's weight loss and brought me formula, then got bent out of shape when I refused it (because this can be detrimental to the breastfeeding process).

Sure, they had a "lactation consultant." She spent 10 minutes cracking jokes, making sure he was latching properly (yes, I know what a good latch is, thanks), and left. Oh yeah, she also had negative things to say about the advice I'd been given from various nurses.

So. The very last night in the hospital. I was utterly exhausted because my son (with whom I had not bonded at all) would not stop screaming. The shift nurse came in around 1:00 am and said she had weighed the baby and that I needed to start feeding him formula because he'd lost too much weight.

I snapped.

Here is what I said (through tears): "I do not want to talk to you about breastfeeding or formula feeding. I do not want to talk to you about anything except whether my son has been exposed to Group B Strep. When I get discharged I will take him to his own pediatrician and will follow her advice. Every nurse coming in here has had a different opinion about how I should be feeding my child, and nobody will just sit down and HELP me! I'm done with you guys."

Nurse (angry): "I'm going to check his bili level and if it's too low the doctor is going to insist that you give him formula."

Me: "That pediatrician is not Kellen's pediatrician. I don't care what he insists upon, I'm not doing it. I'm being discharged tomorrow and I will deal with my son's health myself." (Keep in mind I'd been given tons of fluids during labor. I suspected that his weight loss was from that but nobody would talk to me about it. The lactation consultant acknowledged it could be a possibility but the pediatrician shot her down.)

Nurse: "The doctor will not discharge him if he's not satisfied with his condition."

Me: "Will I be arrested if I just leave with the baby?"

Nurse (stunned): "I don't know."

Me: "If the bili test is non-invasive you can go ahead and do it, but you're not fucking sticking him with any more needles. He came back from his PKU bleeding like a goddamn pig."

Nurse: "It's non-invasive."

Me: "Go for it. Then please leave us alone."

Quick flashback - I nearly died when I gave birth to my daughter, and I was treated horribly by the doctors (the nurses were awesome). My newborn had a painful IV in her arm for five days. I never said ANYTHING negative to ANYONE during that process. I was a model of kindness. I just want to be clear exactly how backed into a corner I was feeling.

The next day everyone seemed angry with me. The new nurses were skittish, the lactation consultant confronted me about my claim that nobody had helped me and the pediatrician had his hackles up when he walked into the room.

What did I do? I smiled and told them all exactly what they wanted to hear. Why? Because I genuinely felt like they were holding my son hostage. I acted completely sane and baffled that the night nurse would make such claims, she must have misunderstood what I said.

They discharged me, and I took my son to his own pediatrician immediately. When the doctor walked into the room she found me sitting on the floor with a screaming infant, near tears myself, desperately trying to get into a position where he could latch.

How did she handle it? Mercy. Compassion. She held the baby, sat down, and told me a story about a friend of hers. This friend had six children. She breastfed the first five. She was a die-hard advocate of breastfeeding, and poo-pooed other mothers' reasons for not breastfeeding. Then she had her sixth child, and was unable to breastfeed him. It was a life-changing, humbling experience for her.

The pediatrician told me she wanted to do everything she could to help me breastfeed my son successfully, but if I couldn't do it she would never judge me. She gave me the number for a lactation consultant at a different hospital and called ahead to get me an appointment. I rushed right over there.

What does a real lactation consultant do when a mother is having trouble feeding her infant? I found out. She sat with me for a long time, talking about the childbirth experience, watching him latch, and weighing him before and after feedings to see how much he was getting. It wasn't enough by a long shot. The trauma to my body, transfusion aside, had been enough to severely impact my milk supply.

She then worked with me on a plan to try and breastfeed long-term. She advised a process of breastfeed, formula feed, pump, then feed the pumped milk with each and every feeding.

Having been treated like an adult and having been shown kindness instead of coldness, I was able to make informed decisions about my son's health. I talked it over with my husband and we decided to formula feed. I just didn't feel that I had the time to go through that lengthy process for an indeterminate amount of time (I was anemic for a looong time after my daughter was born). If I only had one child, yeah, but with two it didn't seem feasible.

Once the decision had been made I went ahead and moved on with my life. I refuse to second guess or wallow in regrets, it is what it is. I have two amazing children and I'm not dead. Fantastic!     -Kim



PS - I hope it's clear that I am all about breastfeeding. Do it. Preferably in public with one of these hats on your baby's head. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding your child that they discover like 20 more each day. I only wrote this post to speak for those of us who are educated about breastfeeding but, for one reason or another, are unable to make it happen. We're not all ignoramuses, formula feeding so that our boobs don't sag or because it's "icky."

July 31, 2011

Full Disclosure

It seems like the topic of the moment for me is What Not To Say to my three-year-old.

I don't have much of a filter. I do have one, but apparently it's a different brand of filter than everybody else is using. I was the kid in grade school reading Forever by Judy Blume and The Color Purple by Alice Walker (this actually got confiscated from me in third grade because the teacher didn't believe I was allowed to have it). Although my mom and I went through a bit of a religious phase when I was in high school, most of my upbringing was pretty feminist and direct.

Now that I have a kid who can talk I am confronted with the question of how much actually needs to be said. We don't swear around our kids. We don't allow our kids to watch adult TV. But if she asks me a question I answer it. And I say what's on my mind.

Let's break down some recent events:

1) On the show Go, Diego, Go! a jaguar and a duck were singing about how nice it is to be friends. I said "In real life that jaguar would eat that duck." My mom turned to me in horror and said that was a terrible thing to say to a three-year-old. Was it? My husband hunts and fishes. Exactly how long is my daughter going to make it through life thinking ducks and jaguars can pal around happily?

A counterpoint to this: when we visited the new butterfly exhibit at the zoo recently my daughter killed a butterfly. She didn't mean to. When we entered the exhibit the guide told us the butterflies may land on us but we absolutely were not allowed to touch the butterflies. I repeated this to Bethany at eye level, making sure she understood. The minute we entered something happened. I'm not exactly sure what. I think the butterfly flew down by her feet and she sort of stepped on it or kicked it or something. But the dead butterfly ended up in her hand.

I took her out of there, and led her (and my screaming infant) down the path a ways to a place where we had some privacy. I put the baby in the stroller and sat down on the ground to have a talk with her. I explained that the butterfly was alive when we walked in but now it was dead because she touched it. The lady told her she wasn't allowed to touch the butterflies and she did anyway, and now the butterfly was dead. She didn't seem too concerned so I asked if she felt sad that she killed the butterfly. She said no. I told her she should feel sad, and that we always need to be gentle with anything that is alive. If we hurt something or someone it should make us feel sad.

I wasn't yelling at her. I was having a frank conversation about what had occurred. I gave her a big hug and kiss, told her I loved her very much, and we went on to have a fun time during the rest of our visit at the zoo. The next week I took her back and we went through the butterfly exhibit without incident.

How else is she going to understand these things? Sometimes emotions and situations that may seem obvious to us are confusing to small kids.

2) A few days before my hysterectomy, I was explaining to Bethany that mommy was going to be in the hospital for a few days. I told her that the place in my tummy where she and her brother had lived was broken and the doctor had to cut my tummy open to take it out. I showed her a couple of pictures online of where the uterus is. I told her that yes, it was going to hurt but mommy would be okay and I'd get better.

This time it was my husband whose jaw was on the floor. He said "Why can't you just tell her you're going to the hospital and that your tummy is going to be sore for a while but you'll be fine?"

I dunno. That's just who I am. When I got home from the hospital she asked if she could see my owie and I yanked my pants down without a second thought. She looked appalled at first but she's seen it several times now and it doesn't phase her anymore.

3) An acquaintance was telling me about how her nine-year-old asked about condoms in the grocery store and she didn't know what to say. I thought about it later and went, wow, by the time my kids are nine I'm pretty sure they are going to know all that stuff. I'm also pretty sure that if my three-year-old asked me about condoms I would say "Those are called condoms." If pressed for more detail I'd say "Grown-ups use them for making babies." I might roll my eyes but I wouldn't break a sweat over it.

Am I doing the right thing? Should I shelter her more? I know I'm not going to change because this stuff just comes out without much thought. I don't consciously register a difference between "What's that?" "A bunny" and "What's that?" "A condom." Somebody else has to bring it to my attention in order for me to second guess it.

I'm down with Santa and all that kind of stuff. I don't want to destroy the magic of childhood. I just don't feel like I'm doing her any favors by letting her think a duck and a jaguar could be pals, or by not emphasizing the gravity of killing a living thing. Yes, we hunt and fish but it is for meat, not for trophies. I believe this is a much more humane way to get meat than to raise animals for food in cramped little stalls, but I guess that's a whole different post.

What's going to give her more nightmares: wondering why that butterfly stopped moving and the zookeepers were glaring at us, or knowing why the butterfly stopped moving and wondering what happens when something dies? Poof! She's caught up with the rest of us.     
-Kim

July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony - My Two Cents

I did not watch this trial, but I'm not deaf and blind so I have an opinion. Have you ever served on a jury? The trial is a completely different animal behind those doors.
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One time I served on a jury that had to decide which of two unsavory gentlemen was driving while intoxicated when a bad accident occurred. They both claimed the other was driving, of course. Some point or another hinged on the fact that the seat belt on the passenger side was broken.

When the trial ended and deliberations began we had no idea which of the guys was telling the truth. There's so much nonsense and misdirection taking place in a courtroom that sometimes it leaves your head spinning.

Then we began to review the evidence. We watched a tape of the vehicle owner speaking to the police on the night of the accident. Our eyes were kind of glazing over when one sharp juror said "Wait! What did he just say? Rewind that please."

We turned up the volume and tuned our ears back in to hear the guy complaining about his shoulder pain from "that damn seat belt."

This was never presented in court. Not even the attorneys knew how we came to our verdict. But it was clear proof, in our minds, that this man was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Sentencing someone to prison or death is nothing to be taken lightly. It's a sobering responsibility that citizens of this country have to bear.

Stop and think for a moment, please. Casey Anthony is not a wealthy celebrity like O.J. Simpson. She is a previously unknown young woman who will now be spending the rest of her life as one of the most hated persons in the country. What kind of life will that be?

And what if she really isn't guilty? What if she really is just a confused, mentally ill person who can't manage to distinguish truth from reality? Either way she will never have the opportunity to feel happy or safe again.

Caylee Anthony died days before my daughter was born. I couldn't watch this trial because it hits way too close to home. I want her killer's head on a stake as much as everyone else, believe me.

But I also want to believe our justice system works, so I'm willing to accept that Casey Anthony didn't kill her daughter. Now let's find the son of a bitch who did.     -Kim

July 1, 2011

Self Esteem or Why Do We Hate Ourselves So Much?

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Order Miche Bag Online!The most eloquent 752 words ever written were in a column for the Chicago Tribune by Mary Schmich in 1997 (later turned into a song by Baz Luhrman). The column was called Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young, and contained greater wealth than money will ever bring. I couldn't pick a favorite quote from it if you held a gun to my head, but today's post is about this:

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

The song came out as a single in 1999. I was 24 years old, and trust me, Mary, it wasn't wasted on me. Well. Except for the part you considered to be the most important: wear sunscreen. If I had heeded that little nugget 12 years ago maybe I wouldn't have a giant scar on my face today. But I digress.

So many people struggle with their self esteem. I recently found out that a 20-year-old woman I care about is harming herself in addition to staying with a ridiculous boyfriend because she thinks she can't do any better. One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Read that again. Now think of four women you know. Which one is living in terror of people finding out about her "shameful" secret? Or just plain living in terror of her spouse?

Why?

Why do we hate ourselves so much?

At some point we have to take responsibility for our own lives. At some point we have to choose happiness.

We live in what I like to call an American Idol society. You can call it a What Not to Wear society. Or a People of Walmart society. But suddenly it's cool to be mean. It's not okay to be yourself unless you are perfect. Don't dance unless you're choreographed. Don't sing unless you've rehearsed. Don't wear a bathing suit unless you are perfectly spray tanned. And, for god's sake, don't leave the house in sweat pants.

Like it wasn't hard enough competing with actresses and supermodels, now we have to question everything we say, do, or wear in public for fear of winding up on YouTube.

At some point we have to reclaim ourselves, or we are going to drown in our neuroses.

Women, especially, tend to think they need to try harder, look better, BE better somehow. No wonder there is so much domestic violence! We don't think we're good enough to walk out our own front doors, of course we're not good enough for our spouses.

I'm not saying we should lower the bar. Work out! Lose weight! Wear all the latest fashions and eat only 100% vegan food. Strive for perfection in every aspect of your life. That's so not the point. Here's the point:

Love yourself.

Today. Just as you are.

Love your saggy boobs. Love that mole on your neck that has a hair growing out of it. Love your big ears, love your bad haircut, love your stinky feet, and love your sparse eyelashes. Love the stupid things that always seem to come out of your mouth.

Love your life.

Today. Just as it is.

Love your messy house. Love being suddenly single after your husband of 14 years left you last week. Love your foreclosure.

Every second of your life is amazing. Every breath you take is a miracle. Don't waste any of it on regret or insecurity. Don't waste any of it on what might have been. Cherish what is. Live in a way that makes you happy, and be satisfied with the choices you've made.

Now here's a picture of my sexy ass in a bathing suit:

My three favorite people.
Tonight I'm going to karaoke. Badly. And if I end up on YouTube I'll just have to ask Tosh.0 for a web redemption.     -Kim


If you are a victim of domestic violence please call 1-800-799-SAFE or visit http://www.thehotline.org/.

June 22, 2011

Defending My Life



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All this talk about theology has gotten me thinking about the principles by which I live. My all time favorite theology is the premise of the movie Defending Your Life. Basically when you die you will be judged based on how well you managed to overcome your fears in life. If you fail you get sent back to Earth to try again. If you pass you "move on."

The recently deceased watch video snippets of their lives, depicting moments when they overcame their fears successfully and moments when they chickened out. They have to defend their poor choices to a judge.

Sometimes, because I'm a little weird, I like to play my video in my head and decide how I think I stack up.

The Bad

Age 3: Made mom wait in long line for Santa and then refused to sit on his lap. FAIL

Age 4: Made mom wait in long line for Santa and then refused to sit on his lap. FAIL

Age 5: Made mom wait in long line for Santa and then refused to sit on his lap. FAIL

Age 7: Made dad wait in long line for Space Mountain and then refused to ride. FAIL

Age 5-13: Pretended to be sick on a regular basis to skip school. Also pretended to miss the bus. Also ditched with Lini Holloway (oh yeah, that's right Lini, I'm calling you out). But, contextually, at

Age 13: Attempted suicide as a result of years of school bullying. Was this giving into fear? Maybe. Did I know any better? I really don't think so. I thought that sounded like a good solution to the problem. Maybe it was almost an example of facing my fear (because, you know, death is pretty much the ultimate scary thing). PASS
Side note: the It Gets Better Project is a wonderful thing but please don't think it only applies to LGBT youths. I was bullied because I was fat, because I was socially awkward, and because there are some really rotten people in this world. Please, please do not ignore the issues your kids are facing in school. Don't think they just need to "toughen up," they need your guidance and your intervention. It's called parenting. (And I don't blame my own parents at all, I'm speaking as a parent myself. My mom & dad were incredible.)
Age 14: At a new school with a brand new start, but I fell in with a bad crowd because I was terrified of being labeled a dork again. I smoked, drank, snuck out of the house, and did everything I thought would make me "cool." FAIL

Age 20: Married a guy I knew wasn't right for me. FAIL

Age 23: While working for Club Med and vacationing at their resort near Guaymas ("Sonora Bay," now closed) I took an excursion to swim with the seals at Seal Island. Let me tell you about my absolute biggest fear in the whole entire world: the ocean. Specifically large animals swimming around me in the ocean. So I got into the water with the rest of the guests on the excursion. It was beautiful, peaceful, calm... then a seal swam by me. After my bowels finished voiding I scurried back onto the boat like a little bitch and spent the rest of the excursion being eaten alive by mosquitoes, while watching the rest of the guests delighting in the majesty of the noble and playful seals. HUGE FAIL

Age 25: Got entangled in a two-year relationship with someone who really sort of grossed me out because I felt sorry for him. FAIL

Age 29: Had a crush on a guy at the grocery store for months but was too afraid to approach him. Now's a good time to introduce my second greatest fear - men. I still, to this day, can barely talk to men sober. I'm like the female version of Raj (from The Big Bang Theory). At any rate my BFF had to ask the grocery guy out for me. He's now my husband. But if it wasn't for Giovanna this would have been a regrettable FAIL.

~Wow~ At this rate I may be headed back to Earth... but wait, we haven't analyzed:

The Good

Age 22: Left the guy who wasn't right for me. Leaving him was disappointing for everyone, including my own family. But I avoided complacency and stayed true to what I knew would lead to a more satisfying life. It made me sad to hurt him but it was the right thing to do. PASS

Age 23: Relocated with my job from Phoenix to Miami with just a car full of crap and a couple of pot-smoking buddies. I'd never been to Miami but I did it anyway. It was a fun year, full of great experiences. I learned what it is like to be a minority (the only gringa for 1,000 miles) and it gave me a whole new perspective on race. PASS

Age 23: While in Miami (and living on South Beach) I regularly took late night walks on the beach by myself. Dangerous? HELL yeah. Magical and enchanting? Oh, so worth it. PASS

Age 24: Packed up again and moved to Alaska because it sounded like fun. Took a road trip back to Phoenix and a month off, during which the millennium new year occurred. Decided on December 30th, 1999, that I wanted to spend New Year's Eve in Vegas with my best friend. Made it happen. Great experience. PASS

Age 27: Flew to Vegas to meet a (male) friend I'd made online who lived in Manhattan. Got a cool new tattoo!
PASS

Age 29-30: Took two hunting trips on Prince of Wales Island with my then fiancé (now husband). Let me tell you about Prince of Wales Island. It is the fourth largest island in the United States (2,577 square miles) and has a total population of 6,000.


Check out this map. Let's talk population density:

Craig: 1,195
Klawock: 745
Thorne Bay: 557
Hydaburg: 300
Hollis: 139
Coffman Cove: 199
Naukati: 135
Whale Pass: 58
Kasaan: 39
Point Baker: 35

Are you getting this image? A HUGE mass of land, sparsely populated, and the vast majority of roads are old logging roads in disrepair. We slept in rock quarries in the back of our truck, used a bucket for a toilet, and kicked around on dangerous roads for a week at a time. Once we got a flat tire on the top of a mountain and Jerry couldn't get the jack loose from the truck. There's no "waiting for the next car" to help you in that situation. There's no hiking to the nearest town. There's just "get the f-cking jack loose or we're gonna die out here." Once we killed a deer at dusk. Let me tell you about my third biggest fear - bears. You take a guess at how scared I was standing around as it got darker and darker while my husband gutted that deer and I envisioned the bears closing in around me.

For my husband this isn't scary stuff. I'm from Phoenix. These trips, for me, were a remarkable PASS.

Age 32: On a Friday afternoon I heard that the show The Girls Next Door was going to be filming in town the following week and needed someone to drive them around and stuff. I immediately got on the phone to the Chamber of Commerce and volunteered to do it, THEN told my boss I was taking the week off. E! hired two local production assistants for the week and they hated the other one, so I went from being a manager at a bank on Friday to being a producer's full time bitch on Monday. It was so rad. I drove the camera crew around, frantically chased down signatures from random people in the background, and went with the whole gang over to Prince of Wales Island (where Holly grew up). During the "plane crash" scene I had gone with the rest of the crew on another plane and was waiting in Craig for them when they finally arrived.

PS - They didn't show it but Kendra got SO wasted in Craig and had a meltdown before she agreed to get on the return plane. The "water bottle" in her hand was all booze. Can I get sued for saying that? Cool! That'll teach you to leave me out of the credits. Assholes. PASS

Didn't believe me, did you?
Age 33: While on a business trip to Connecticut I decided I couldn't miss the opportunity to visit Manhattan, alone. Drove from Glastonbury to wherever it was you could catch a train to Manhattan and stayed in a hotel by myself for three or four days. Did as much as I could cram into that time period, including randomly hopping on a train headed for Coney Island when I had no idea how far Coney Island was or even if it was open that day. PASS

Age 35: After relocating to Idaho with my family I immediately joined a mom group and met tons of wonderful people. After a year or so I even started my own mom group to coordinate more activities in my area. Joining these groups was one of the most rewarding choices I've ever made. Instead of sitting at home with my kids I'm out and about, all the time, with tons of nice people doing super fun things. I'm pretty dang shy, so for me this is a terrific PASS.

Should I move on or return to Earth?

I'm living a life I love right now, with few regrets. If I were my judge I would insist on some SCUBA classes (just the thought makes my palms sweaty) but otherwise I think I'm doing pretty doggone good. I still can't really talk to men but I can handle my husband. And, you know, bears can kill me so that's a pretty legitimate fear. I'm fine with bears at a reasonable distance and behind some big metal spikes.

Tell me about your video!     -Kim

June 19, 2011

Christianity Part III: A Tale of Two Christs

I'm not sure how to approach this. I'm re-reading the Gospel of Matthew for the first time in many years, and there is such beauty in some of the parables and teachings of Jesus. I can't help but feel, however, that the overall message of this gospel is "You must strive to be perfect, because only the really good people are going to make it to heaven. Most of you are screwed."

I guess after reading this gospel I'm starting to see the correlation between Old Testament God and New Testament God, because Jesus was no Gandhi:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me."
"When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' Another disciple said to him, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' But Jesus told him, 'Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'"
"Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!' Immediately the tree withered."
"While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.' He replied to him, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'"
"While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. 'Why this waste?' they asked. 'This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.' Aware of this, Jesus said to them, 'Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.'"
 At risk of being struck down - Jesus was kind of a dick. He spoke often (according to Matthew) about who was going to hell as well. The Pharisees are going to hell, the rich are going to hell, the cities in which he performed miracles are going to hell because they didn't repent, those who don't forgive are going to hell, anyone who entertains adulterous thoughts is going to hell, and on and on. It's so pervasive that I'm not even going to list quotes, just know that there's a whole lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth. He repeatedly implies that it's really tough to get into heaven and not very many people will make it:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
For many are invited, but few are chosen.
How do I reconcile this temperamental, judgmental Son of God with the beautiful Teacher portrayed in the same Gospel? Some of the greatest teachings ever written are in there:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."
 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? ... And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?"
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
 "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?' On hearing this, Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”
"I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Jesus says this a few times according to Matthew. I have a dear friend who once believed (we haven't discussed it lately) that Jesus' death erased the sins of all mankind. She sincerely wished that the rapists and the child molesters and Hitler himself would be shown mercy when they died and would be allowed into heaven. Isn't that how it should work? Isn't that the definition of mercy? So why does Jesus put all these stipulations on salvation and make it sound like a gnostic process?

What purpose did the death of Christ serve? We're taught in church that all we have to do is "ask Jesus into our hearts" and we will be saved. Well. That's not what he had to say about it.
"Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?' 'Why do you ask me about what is good?' Jesus replied. 'There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.' 'Which ones?' he inquired. Jesus replied, 'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ 'All these I have kept,' the young man said. 'What do I still lack?' Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'"
My journey will continue. I don't know what answer I'm looking for. I suppose I just want to know why so many people believe in this religion that doesn't really make any sense to me. I also want to know why nobody knows anything about the Bible. I have encountered many Christians who don't even realize there is a connection between Judaism and Christianity. It scares me when people are willing to follow something they don't understand, and are afraid to question it at all.     -Kim


Please note: I know I didn't cite the quotes in this post. All of them are verbatim from the NIV version of Matthew. If you're desperate to know exactly where they appear you can Google it.

June 15, 2011

Christianity Part II: Paul

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Have you seen the South Park episode about Joseph Smith? Above is a relevant three minute clip.

Back to "our" Bible, New Testament: Jesus was born, lived, taught, died, and was resurrected. Four different accounts, called Gospels, have been deemed reliable sources over the centuries. There is debate about the identities of the Gospel authors, but they appear to be based on firsthand accounts and generally corroborate each other. The four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Book of Luke is usually attributed to an historian called Luke the Evangelist. He is also assumed to have written the next book in the New Testament, called Acts of the Apostles (normally referred to as "Acts.")

In Acts 9 Luke introduces this new character named Paul. Paul was a persecutor of the early Christian church. Paul never met Jesus when he was alive, but for whatever reason he just really hated Christians. Then one day, on his way to the city of Damascus to kill some Christians, he had an encounter with God and was converted to Christianity. His companions may have heard a sound or seen a light of some kind (accounts vary) but we only have Paul's account of what God supposedly said to him (thus the comparison to Joseph Smith).

So God talked to him and told him to stop being such a dick, and suddenly Paul is the star of the New Testament. He authored 13 of the 27 texts that made it into the New Testament. Paul's writings are mostly letters (or "epistles") to the churches he founded and to his assistants.

Granted, Paul was imprisoned and persecuted for his work in the early Christian church. Just because he was persecuted doesn't mean he was right, or sane. The argument for Christianity often hinges on whether Jesus Christ was a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord (who He claimed to be). Nobody seems to question that we're making a huge leap from whether or not Jesus was the Son of God to whether or not Paul was a legitimate representative of Jesus Christ.

There's a wonderful quote often attributed to Ghandi (but it probably wasn't him):
"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
So true. Why do I suppose that is? PAUL.

Paul Had Some Lofty Opinions of Himself

His letters all start with pretty much the same introduction:

"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God..."
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God..."
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God..."
"Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead..."
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God..."
"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus..."
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God..."
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope..."
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus..."
"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior..." (ooh, that's a good one!)
"Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus..."
Here's an especially disturbing one:
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord." - 1 Corinthians 5: 1-5 (emphasis mine)
Okay, so Paul was Paul's biggest promoter, I suppose. And we're just gonna take his word for it, huh?

Paul Was a Separatist


Jesus was notorious for hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, and whatnot. It was sort of his "thing." Befriending and converting those whom society looked down upon. So where does Paul get off:

"Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.' Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame." -1 Corinthians 15: 33,34
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God." -2 Corinthians 6: 14-16
"Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly." -2 Timothy 2:16
"Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ." -Philippians 3: 17,18
Paul Was a Fear Monger (and a little obsessed with sexual immorality.)

The truly scary thing about these quotes is that Paul is claiming to know the will of God. You can argue that I'm taking things out of context and not showing an understanding of the times in which Paul was living, but the fact remains Paul makes some HARSH and SPECIFIC declarations about what God's gonna do to these people if they don't listen to him. Again, what are his qualifications? Oh yeah (see video clip above).


"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." -1 Corinthians 6: 18-20
"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." -Ephesians 5: 3-5
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming." -Colossians 3:5,6
"It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before." -1 Thessalonians 4: 3-6
"All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." -2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10
"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people." -2 Timothy 3: 1-5
Oh, and by the way -

Paul Was a Misogynist

Christians are often so quick to judge Islam for the requirements it places on women. This is the New Testament, people. These aren't some obscure laws from Genesis, these are all Paul.


"I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." -1 Timothy 2: 9-15
"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." -Ephesians 5: 22-24
"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." -1 Corinthians 14: 34,35
"A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God." -1 Corinthians 7: 39,40
"A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." -1 Corinthians 11: 7-9
"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." -Titus 2: 3-5
"As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan." -1 Timothy 5: 11-15

My opinion? If Paul was speaking for Jesus Christ then so is Fred Phelps, and we're all in a lot of trouble. I think Paul singlehandedly undid much of what Christ tried to teach. Sure, Paul had some nice stuff to say ("Love is patient, love is kind...") but much of that nonsense that drives Christians apart from the rest of us came from Paul. The negativity, the judgment, and the separatism? Paul.

So what was the real message of Jesus (according to me)? Stay tuned.


-Kim     NEXT Check Out: A Tale of Two Christs



June 14, 2011

Christianity Part I: Old Testament vs. New Testament

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"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."  -Matthew 7: 1-4


"At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
   But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
   At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'
   'No one, sir,' she said.
   'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'”    -John 8: 1-11
***********************************************

Familiar stories, beautiful sentiments, yet this is not the image we have of modern Christianity. Why? I have my thoughts which I will be sharing over a multi-part series on Why Christianity Confuses Me So Much.

Google "Bible Contradictions" and there are seven zillion websites and blogs devoted to pointing out everything that is contradictory in the Bible. I'm not here to do that. A thinking Christian is not going to believe that every word of the Bible is literally transcribed from God. 66 books that were written over a period of hundreds of years, transcribed thousands of times into hundreds of languages? Come on. How many versions of the Bible are in the English language alone?

The books included in the mainstream Protestant Bible were thoughtfully chosen by councils of religious scholars over the centuries. The Biblical canon (or books of the Bible) has changed frequently as these scholars have tried to determine which books are the "most holy" and authentic. The books that didn't make the cut are called apocryphal and some of them are used in various branches of modern Christianity right alongside "our" Bible.

"Our" Bible documents sacred events throughout history that our religious leaders have determined pertain to our faith. Some of the books are Jewish, and some have been adopted by faiths not accepted as Christian by the mainstream Christian church. We should use it as a reference tool to learn about God, not try to maintain that every line in every version of the Bible is the infallible Word of God. That's embarrassing.

That said, let's talk about:

Part I - The Gist: Old Testament vs. New Testament

PLEASE, somebody tell me how I'm supposed to believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are the same guy? Have you READ the Bible?

Old Testament:  "From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. 'Get out of here, baldy!' they said. 'Get out of here, baldy!' He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys."

New Testament: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God."

Old Testament (my summary of Job): 
God and Satan are hanging out (WTF?) and God says "Hey, my man Job is swell. He worships Me and has a great heart. He is a good guy."
Satan says "Yeah, but you coddle him. He'd be a jerk like everyone else if he had any real problems."
God: "Nuh-uh, go ahead and f-ck with him all you want. You'll see."
Satan proceeds to kill all Job's animals, servants, and children. Job continues to worship God.
The next day God says "So, I was totally right about Job, huh?"
Satan replies "Nah. If it was his own life threatened he'd crumble."
God: "Whatever! Try it."
Satan proceeds to cover Job's entire body with painful sores. Job continues to worship God.
(I'm just going to say "Etc." here.)

New Testament: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

How on earth am I supposed to believe that this asshole scary God in the Old Testament has anything to do with the lovey-dovey God of the New Testament? One might say because Jesus changed everything when he died for our sins, but then there's this confusing passage:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."   -Matthew 5:17,18
The "law" to which he is referring? Is that the whole Leviticus mess? The entire book of Leviticus is just a bunch of bizarre rules but here's a little sample:
"If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realize their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt; or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realize their guilt— when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.
As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin. 
Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the LORD as a penalty for their sin—one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. They are to bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one for the sin offering. He is to wring its head from its neck, not dividing it completely, and is to splash some of the blood of the sin offering against the side of the altar; the rest of the blood must be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.
If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour for a sin offering. They must not put olive oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering. They are to bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful of it as a memorial portion and burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the LORD. It is a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for any of these sins they have committed, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering."
So, did Jesus die for our sins? What does that even mean? If we are inherently sinners we will continue to sin even after we are baptized and "saved." Then we can ask for forgiveness, right? But we could do that before, through a complex pigeon ritual.

What are the rules we should be following? If Jesus did not come to abolish the law then we should be living more like the Orthodox Jews, right? We're still supposed to be living "righteously" and "without sin" and apparently these definitions didn't change. 

Is it just the 10 commandments we're sticking with? Okay. So why can't we swear? Or be gay? Or get tattoos?

It seems to me that Modern Christianity is being selectively moral according to the law which has not been abolished. Modern Christianity is also putting a lot of stock in the writings of Paul, a man who never actually met Jesus but supposedly "encountered" God in spirit form on the road to Damascus and was converted. Paul's writings take up nearly half (13 of 27 books) of the New Testament. Why is he the authority?     -Kim