Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2009

More on faux persecution....

For the first post on this news story click here

a link to the news report is here

The italics refer to a comment made by someody who regarded the parents as "over sensitive", an assertion I don't believe is correct.

It's not like we atheists don't know that these people exist. Besides, most of them are essentially harmless if left alone.

I'd agree with that. However I think the issue that creates an objection is not the content that refers to their personal convictions per se but when there is an evident agenda of "conversion" underneath it.

In a client/service provider context where I am the client even I can manage not to want to bitch slap somebody and run screaming to their boss just because they mention in passing that their aura is a bit blue today and they are torn between a Bach flower remedy or some kind of MPEG homeopathic remedy via iTunes.

What will turn me purple faced with steamy ears is when it turns into a semi-monologue, that I have attempted to head off at the pass tactfully(ish), trying to convert me to the use of alt-med.

It's rude, it's dismissive, it's irritating, it's self obsessed. It's the attitude that is the issue.

In a medical setting when I am already feeling under par and want to be working on a solution for ME, which is what you are employed to help ME find, when I have already pointed out that I want an evidence based solution and have a great objection to alt-med, if you continue to try to push and persuade in favour of the alt-med thang you are oh so enamored with, I will complain and ask for another employee to assist me. Because in that setting I will have neither the time, patience or energy to fight past your need to convert me to your belief system before even starting to try to get what I need.

In some cases problems arise because many of those trying to convert are so caught up in the depth of their passion they don't realize that this is what they are doing. As far as they are concerned the only thing they were doing is trying to help. They don't get that their help was coloured "agenda of conversion". In others they are well aware of what they are doing, but overestimate their ability to shroud it and don't realize that their agenda is as undetectable as a particularly hot, smelly lump of gorgonzola placed in plain view, so they get all get defensive and denialist when called on it.

Likewise you are going to get people so averse to a specific belief system, or so in love with playing the part of an indignant complainer, that they can see an attempt to convert in the most casual off-the-cuff mention of a couple of words that hit their hot buttons like hammers and send them into world war three mode.

In the specific case referred to in the thread I think the linguistic choices point to a case of the former rather than the latter and we can afford to give the family the benefit of the doubt.

"It is like a black mark against my name and character when it comes to getting a reference for another job, just because I shared my testimony, as if I committed a criminal act. " "I simply wanted to encourage them to be open to prayer but if they did not want to then I would never force it down their throat."

Both the "hear my testimony" and "encourage them to be open to prayer" inadvertently reveal at least some degree of intent and desire, sub conscious or conscious, to convert. They are particularly underpinned as revelatory by the need to add a qualification that attempted to play down the level of persistance involved - "I would never force it down their throat".

Despite seeking to negate the complaint, the lady's own words support the parents' claim that she was behaving inappropriately. As in she had an agenda all of her own when she brought God to the table.

"hear my testimony" and "encourage them to be open to prayer" is not the same as saying "I'm a Christian and I believe in God so when I am sad or bad things happen, I pray. What works for you ? Is there anything I can do or help you do that will offer you the sort of comfort that I get from prayer ? How about we brainstorm some ideas and see if we can't find you something that works for you ? You tell me your ideas and I'll write them down" ...... because the agenda in the first is all about the speaker's interests whereas the the agenda in the second is all about the interests of the person being spoken too.

The fact that religion is mentioned in both of them is by the by.

Persecution or Me, myself and I as a priority ?

The debate bug bit me again, I caught the tail end of a discussion about the case of a teacher who claims her suspension was an act of religious persecution.

link to the story

It hit a chord with me as I struggled with the hows and whys of not hurling my weeping self on Alice's battered body the minute I am free from this germy cold and can go and see her.

Unlike many commnetators I don't think this is about religion, it is about having the ability to put the person you are there to help, and their needs, above your own.

I'm sure the lady found it hard to manage her upset feelings at seeing a young child suffering emotionally and physically from such a horrible illness. However the onus in not on the child or their family to provide an environment where the lady can try to make herself feel better or attempt to make the child feel better, by using a strategy that clashes with the family's definition of a positive/acceptable strategy or even causes more distress than it aimed to relieve.

That is the crux here, you have to be able to set aside yourself and your needs and make them very secondary to that of the person you are there to help. If you can't do that, can't even work out that different people have different needs and they may not jibe with your own, can't work out that you are not the priority despite being quite clearly told that you are making yourself the priority at the expense of the person you are trying to help, then quite rightly your ability to do the job needs to be questioned.

The context, be it religion, alternative medicine or a tendency to sit and weep about how sorry you are is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is does the employee understand "it's not all about ME"....or not.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm sure some people reading about Anissa Mayhew don't get it. Don't get that behind the normal sorrow for a young woman with small children and a desperate husband facing such an awful situation, there is real grief and pain in the hearts of people who have never met her, never heard her voice, only ever communicated from behind a screen with "just" typed words as the basis for the connection.

I get it.

Last month I spent an hour sobbing quietly in the local church, hiding behind some horror of a floral display that a colourblind, tastefree person had plonked in front of the Madonna. In my usual "if a little is good, more will be much better" mindset I lit a whole table of candles to mark a bitter aniversary.

Donna and I spent years together on a debate forum, we bonded from the onset, chivvied each other, laughed together, sat on the sidelines of the board wars that eventually knackered the community beyond all recognition, shaking our heads and chuntering over grown women pigtail pulling like they were back in prima. Real friends, continents apart. Joined at the screen.

And then she died. In nine short months she went from an out of the blue diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer to gone. Despite all the masses I had said for her, despite all the candles, despite doing deals with a God I don't believe in, despite giving up smoking to send her my cancer-protection points...she died.

My heart broke. Quietly. Because it is hard for a lot of people to understand how much somebody can mean to you when it is "just" on-line.

I'm going up to the same church today, one famed for it's miracles of the  healing kind, to light candles for a woman and a family I don't know, but I'm lighting a good whack too for the people on the wrong side of a computer screen too, the ones who feel like something is clawing at their heart from the inside, knowing full well that others will find that odd and wondering themselves if it is normal or justifiable to feel this way.

It is. We are human, we love, we care, we grieve and the mode of connection is not an indication of how much you are allowed to mourn, fear a loss or need to hope with all your heart for a return from the edge.

I do the Run for Life every year with Donna on my back and an ache in my heart and nobody gets to tell me that it is a second class kind of missing or memorial that I'm doing.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's not working

The comune (council) have blocked just his little dirt track that turns of ours. With a sign to tell everybody to come back on 7th august.

My son's 9th birthday.

So that is the party cancelled.

I have a suspcion that the comune smells indirect commercial possibilites. (ETA - very much confirmed by meeting with Mayor where he talked about very little except potential commericalisation)

Backstory for the confused

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Undiluted Irony

I have a sign on my gate, been there a couple of weeks. A rough translation says-
“The Magic Water is not at this house, for all information please go to the Sanctuary”

No, I don't live near Harry Potter.

I live in a very old farmhouse, all my (few) neighbours and I have wells that most of us use for the garden, you really wouldn't want to drink it. We all get the water from the same underground source.

A few years ago a rumour started that the very same water drawn from a shack down the track was magically healing, first somebody's corn miraculously got better, then shingles and now it makes the deaf hear, the blind see and by next Friday the dead will be rising and demanding a cappuccino.

The Catholic sanctuary down the road apparently came to bless said water and by some unknown circumstances the press came along too. (ETA - the blessing of the water turned out to be misinformation, but strangely enough Ivo doesn't seem to be overly bothered about correcting factual errors. The Madonnina a lady gave to Ivo for his hut was blessed, in the same way any house's Madonnina gets blessed. Heck even my house got blessed by this priest, doesn't mean my toilet flushes with holy magic water)

Hence the sign, I live in the middle of nowhere for a reason, that reason was not to be the traffic policewoman and information desk of the Lomellina equivalent of Piccadilly bleeding Circus.

Damned if I am going to send the potentially immune suppressed to drink untreated water either.

My radical chic “friend” saw my sign and went off on one.

She ranted and raved about stupid sheep
Blasted money grubbing priests who exploited the desperate and the worried well for cash.
Ignorance was mentioned, as was uneducated, gullible and superstitious.
Much attention was drawn to the fallibility of unsubstantiated anecdote.

This went on for half an hour.
I just couldn't resist.

Me - “How is little M's constant ear infection issue coming along ?”

Radical Chic
Without missing a beat

- “Ohh not so good right now, the herbalist in town says its probably a healing crisis cos that starts at the top of your body. Although it did get a lot better before that. Anyway, I'm taking him back to our homoeopath for his quarterly appointment in a few days so it should be sorted out soon. Although I might also try the Bach flower remedies our nutritionist was telling me about......”


As requested, a "no magic water here" sign all of your very own, in slightly imperfect Italian.

Cut, paste, print, hang with rat proof wire. Don't count on it working. Magic Water hunting increases the probability of sudden, temporary illiteracy or legal blindness. But of course it will all clear up at the first "glug".

L'acqua Magica

non è in questa casa.

Per qualsiasi tipo di informazioni
si prega di rivolgersi al
Santuario alle (name).

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Candle Lighting Atheist.

Religion features strongly in home education/homeschooling and many people prioritise identifying their faith in the most brief of profiles.

I can't fit my description in a 255 character limit. “Candle lighting atheist” makes most people go “huh ?”.

I'm an atheist. I didn't chose to be one on purpose to annoy anybody. It's just that I am about as spiritual as your average teapot.

I am also human. With need of something to cling to when it all goes horribly wrong.

When my first marriage (to a Thai, living in Bangkok) was in its final death throes I would pootle up to the family spirit house and leave tiny, jasmine wreaths.

Two years ago when my friend was dying of colon cancer I couldn't go past the local church without going in and lighting a candle, and then more candles, because I am one of those people who get stuck in the “if a little is good, then lots must be even better” mindset. Plus having a mass or seven said for her.

I needed something tangible to do, something more physical and “doing something” than sitting and worrying and hurting. I also needed my shot in the dark, to take a chance on a rank outsider in the face of insurmountable odds. To feel like I had done everything I possible could, so I hadn't let anybody down by not trying hard enough.

I get why people are religious. For all the spiteful or downright evil things that are done “in the name of...XXX”, having lived in two countries where the vast majority practised a single faith, in the minutiae of ordinary lives I have seen it comfort, support and soothe far more than it limited, belittled and hampered.

My bottom line is this, I won't reject somebody and all of their ideas and opinions, across the whole spectrum, out of hand, because they have a faith I can't share.

If somebody has an issue with faith to the point where they can't see me beyond my lack of religion then that is all I need to know. I won't exactly weep tears of despair over the rejection.

So, there you are, candle lighting atheist, not as contradictory as it might originally seem.
Well not to me anyway, but then it lives in my head so I am the only one guaranteed not to be sitting there muttering “oxy-flaming-moron-ish with knobs on”


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