The Good Book

I have little to no feeling about religion. I’m aware it exists, there are several of them, and while I’m not familiar with the intracacies of each I understand the underlying theme of believing in a power greater than thyself. I’m no stranger to religion however. I grew up with an uber-religious father, who for a time had close ties via his employment to a Catholic church. There are pictures of me at the Confirmation ceremony when I was about 9 years old. I wore a white dress, had oddly frizzy/curly blonde hair and large pink glasses. I remember afterwards the entire family went out to brunch at a local family restaurant. I remember getting presents and cards filled with money. This was awesome, but even then, I remember feeling awkward.

My brother and I attended Sunday school and even attended various church summer day camps in our younger years. Oddly, I don’t recall learning a ton about God and Jesus and their discipiles and shit, I remember more about eating food and playing games. Maybe we hold onto what we choose  to remember. As I got a bit older, into the early teenage years, my dad would harp on me about going to church every Sunday. I’ve been to Sunday mass a few times in my life, but likely less than I can count on my fingers and toes. Hell, I’ve even been to midnight mass! But to me, it wasn’t something I could hang onto.

It seemed like a bunch of bullshit to me then, and now, I just really don’t care. In a way, as a teenager, I was probably rebelling a bit. This was a point in my life where my dad was going to church EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Sometimes, multiple times per day. And every time I talked to him, it was more of the same, “When are you going to come to church with me?” My response was always an emphatic NEVER, which my dad took as a joking matter assuming he’d get through to me one day.

In the last 10 years of my adult life, rarely does the thought of religion ever come up. If it does, it’s because someone is talking about it on the news, or someone in my family died and their funeral is…at a church. Of course I go, I’m not a monster. Now, though, people seem to be hanging onto life so my exposure to the inside of the sanctuary has been non-existent and ever moreso my thoughts about religion.

My oldest Sdaughter* is 5 years old (almost 6). She’s a very smart and curious little girl and she is always asking lots of questions about everything and anything. For Christmas, she was gifted a children’s bible while on vacation. When she returned to our stead after New Year’s she told us all about her children’s bible and how excited she was to have her very own. Prior to this, she had been hearing about God and Jesus through the grapevine, from a little girl at school and an adult in her circle. She had asked US questions on the subject and we stood behind a scientific approach to life rather than a creationism stance. I had never really considered this topic as something that would come to the forefront so soon as neither her father or mother are religious. But I suppose similar to Santa Claus, children hear stories and get curious.

Religion is such a touchy subject in this country, one that should be approached carefully. Many people are turned off by the mere mention of it (like me) and some go on a rant about how one perceive’s a certain religion (like me). I’m not opposed to allowing her (or other kids) to learn about religion, but I think it’s a conversation that parents need to have with one another and come to a mutual understanding before allowing religious materials in an otherwise non-religious set of homes. Children are naturally curious and need to fulfill their curiosities through questions, answers, and sometimes application to real life. I think it’s important to understand and be exposed to variety in life and learn about other cultures and religions in order to gain respect to all, even if you inevitably do not agree.

(*Stepdaughter)

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Opinions.

I agree with many points of Jen Gunter’s post in response to George Will’s recent opinion piece about the effects ‘sexual assault’ is having on college and university campuses. For me, Will’s column seems a bit all over the place jumping from ‘a not rape’ to the diminished autonomy and prestige of colleges and universities. He has every right to his opinion, but it can be dangerous when his kind of message is disseminated. Reports of rape and sexual assaults have to be taken seriously. Not all assaults are reported, but that doesn’t make them any less of a violation.

The stereotypes and stigmas associated with these events need to be dispelled. People need to be educated and enlightened, not shamed into silence. Some people are stronger than others. People have different coping mechanisms (maybe none) and deal with things differently. We can hypothesize about how we’d handle the situation, or imagine how our son or daughter would deal. Surely they’d go screaming for the hills and tell the first person they saw, stranger or not, right? But we don’t really know until we come face to face with plight. We shouldn’t pass judgement on victims when we have not stood in their shoes.

the wrong message

Tuning channels in the car on the road one day, I found myself listening to some local DJ’s discuss whether or not their segment of the show should play the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. I thought to myself, ‘well duh, of course you should play it. I love that song!’ I was certain I had heard it on this very station before, so I was trying to figure out why it was even a topic of discussion. The more I listened, the DJ’s were discussing the reason why they didn’t think it was acceptable to play for their listening audience, which is comprised of mostly mom’s with  kids.

If you’ve ever heard the song you’ll know it has a very catchy beat, yet, the lyrics are nearly undecipherable unless you’ve got a trained ear. Because of this fact, they went to the helpful land of Google to track down what was really being said. That’s when they began to ponder, should we allow this song to be played during our afternoon show. The lyrics speak about a man named Robert who, evidently, finds his father’s gun in the closet and ponders shooting a bunch of kids. Foster the People front man Mark Foster indicated that this song was just a fictional story.

The big beef on the part of the DJ’s was ‘is this song appropriate to play, because it glamorizes someone shooting other people?’ Research found that there was an incident in late 2007 where a 19 year-old man named Robert A. Hawkins used his father’s gun to shoot and kill a bunch of teenagers at a Midwest mall before turning the gun on himself. If you go to Wikipedia page regarding this mass murder, it references the relationship between the story and the song. Regardless if  the song is based on the story or not, is hardly the point.

The point of contention over the airwaves remained. Does this song glamorize the act of using a gun to kill a bunch of innocent people? And this glamorization, by this hip new band, will kids out there think this is a ‘cool’ thing to do and perhaps emulate the late Mr. Hawkins or the band’s ‘Robert’ character? These very questions were why the DJ’s were questioning whether they thought the song was appropriate to be played. Hmm.

There might be some emotionally disturbed individuals out in our society that would listen to a song like this and think ‘Hey.. this sounds like a fucking great idea! I’m going to go shoot a bunch of people at the mall.’ However, we cannot hold artists responsible for other people’s actions. Didn’t this same type of question around Marilyn Manson’s songs and lyrics come about 10-15 years ago? Certainly MM was telling our children how to hate Jesus and become devil worshipers. Look how many kids we lost to the dark side because of that band! I don’t think you can censor the music in a radio station’s genre because of  the message it’s sending to the listening audience. Or, maybe you can? If the lyrics contain foul language, sure, you bleep those parts. However, to me, their argument of why they didn’t think it was appropriate to play didn’t sit well with me. I was left with more questions than the answers they sought.

Listeners called in to weigh in on what they thought of the song and its lyrics. Most callers agreed (moms) that this is something they would NEVER let their kids listen to, despite its catchy beat. Fine. That’s your right. Turn the station. Big deal. But here’s the one thing that puzzled me. Where is the line drawn between a song that supposedly glamorizes an act(s) and just sings about it? Do I think this song will make a bunch of kids go out, steal their parent’s gun and shoot a bunch of people? No. Absolutely not. I believe in the greater good of people and think that most kids are well adjusted enough (not all, but most) to know whether that is a way to pass a rainy Saturday afternoon.

But I digress. If the DJ’s are questioning the message that playing this song really sends, shouldn’t they think twice about playing Katy Perry’s ‘TGIF’? Now if that song doesn’t glamorize being a teenage girl, getting wasted, blacking out, and waking up next to a strange man, I don’t know what does. If you’re going to be the judge and the jury of playing a song that you think delivers the wrong message to kids, let’s be equal and fair in our assessment of the types of topics that influence our them.