Wednesday, November 30, 2011

25% Mormon

This is kinda fun.  I filled out this test at,* seriously called the Belief-O-Matic, and it gave me a list of religions that I fit.  It's ranked based on the percentage of answers I gave that matched this or that faith.  Here's my list:

  1. Secular Humanism (100%)
  2. Unitarian Universalism (91%)
  3. Liberal Quakers (75%)
  4. Nontheist (74%)
  5. Theravada Buddhism (68%)
  6. Neo-Pagan (64%)
  7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (60%)
  8. New Age (48%)
  9. Reform Judaism (44%)
  10. Taoism (44%)
  11. Orthodox Quaker (38%)
  12. Mahayana Buddhism (37%)
  13. Sikhism (32%)
  14. New Thought (28%)
  15. Baha'i Faith (25%)
  16. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (25%)
  17. Jainism (24%)
  18. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (22%)
  19. Seventh Day Adventist (20%)
  20. Hinduism (19%)
  21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (19%)
  22. Eastern Orthodox (16%)
  23. Islam (16%)
  24. Orthodox Judaism (16%)
  25. Roman Catholic (16%)
  26. Jehovah's Witness (12%)
I'm not surprised at the top answers, but I'm a little stunned to find that I'm more Mormon than what I actually was previously, which is Conservative Christian/Protestant.  I think my Roman Catholic friend Jack may throw a fit that I'm more Mormon and Hindu than Catholic and that I'm equal parts Muslim and Catholic.  I sort of took this on the fly, so I'm sure my results would differ each time I took it.

But there you go.  I'm more Mormon than I thought.  I may shed a tear the next time I hear "I Believe" on The Book of Mormon soundtrack. 

One last thing for today.  Since I'm a 74% Non-theist, I want to give a shout-out to a Non-theist member of my family tree--Mark Twain (he makes an appearance in my ancestry by the skin of his teeth, but I cling to the connection nonetheless).  Anyone who has Googled anything today knows that this is his 176th birthday.  Here are a few quotations from the old crank:

Nothing agrees with me. If I drink coffee, it gives me dyspepsia; if I drink wine, it gives me the gout; if I go to church, it gives me dysentery.     From a letter to Henry H Rogers (August 7, 1905), quoted from Barbara Schmidt, ed, "Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, & Related Resources" 

God, so atrocious in the Old Testament, so attractive in the New--the Jekyll and Hyde of sacred romance.     From Notebook (1904)

*I don't necessarily endorse the content on this site.  One of their big stories right now is, "Inspiring Quotes from the Twilight Saga."  Seriously?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Melancholia, Muppets, Marilyn...

I know that for some, this past holiday weekend is traditionally, among other things, a time for movie-going. It isn't always for me, but somehow I ended up at the movies three times for Melancholia, The Muppets, and My Week with Marilyn. My quickie reviews for each:

Melancholia--Trippy (the trippy bits in the trailer are the reason I went), at times hard to watch due to a character's crippling depression, and a film that provides food for thought that would fill many Thanksgiving tables. This is the type of movie that is a hit in the artsy theaters, but many mainstream moviegoers will hate it. I personally like it when a film makes me uncomfortable, and I enjoy leaving the theater thinking, "What did I just see?!" Depending on your preference, you may want to talk to someone about the movie for hours after, or contemplate it on your own. I chatted about it for just a few minutes with my old college friend who went with me, then after an hour long drive home, I called a friend who'd also seen it, and we chatted the night away.

Muppets--Cute, funny, clever, nostalgic. Oscar nominee Amy Adams is so classy to join in the fun, and I love hearing her sing again. There are so many great cameos like Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris.

My Week with Marilyn--Michelle Williams is mesmerizing, and doesn't look like herself. She and lots of others took pains to transform her, and it shows. It goes without saying that Judi Dench and Kenneth Branaugh shine. Non-wand-wielding Emma Watson does a fantastic turn as a low-on-the-totem-pole wardrobe girl. I love that she's willing to pay her dues and earn her right to a justifiable spot in the world of films--another classy lady.

I also saw Night of the Iguana with my film group, which is adapted from the Tennessee Williams play, and stars Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, and Deborah Kerr. It's worth its own post, and I must go to bed! Maybe another day...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How-Did-I-Miss-This Files

Maybe I should change my subscription from Day Old News to Behind the Times (copyright Jack McFarland).  Here's some stuff I missed from 2010 and backward, within the categories of science, politics, and art.

Another reptile lineage switches from egg-laying to live birth.  It just switched.  Because live birth is better.  Did they say another?  What?!  I need to read more books and view more programs about actual, the kind that doesn't involve flying dragons, blue phone booths and people with scissors for hands.

Here's a short video that wasn't exactly earth-shattering news in politics last year, but it demonstrates very well why I love, love, love Rachel Maddow.  Love.  Smart and funny are my two favorite things, and in her line of work, lethal to the crazies who try to get away with shit.

In the realm of music and art, I can't believe I missed this, simply because it involves my favorite singer, Sara  Bareilles.  I not only love this song, but the animation to go with it is just stunning--beautiful, brooding and nostalgic, punctuated with hope.  The animated Sara and Ingrid are adorable, and they give me a spark of hapiness going into winter, to which I was not looking forward.  I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas music, so this song is a nice antidote.  Props to Dorothy for posting this video.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Dark Side

I could watch this a million times and it would still make me laugh. When she takes over, I will be one of her minions.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fun Stuff Friday--Glee Edition

This video is flying around everywhere, but who am I to stop it? The Glee ladies burned it up this week. I've never heard Santana (don't know the young lady's name who plays her--you see, I'm not that pitifully non-adult) sound this amazing. That lady-lovin' Cheerio can saaang, bitches.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sax From the Past

I kept meaning to post this ages ago, when I was putting up old stuff that I'd drawn, pictures I'd taken, etc.  here it finally is, though it's an awful picture-of-a-picture.

I took this photo of my saxophone during my senior year in college in a photography class.  We developed all of our own film (a glossy substance upon which images used to be captured--remember?), and a girl in the class enlightened me to the fact that instead of washing the entire sheet of photo paper with developer, you can just sponge it on as you wish.  I streaked it around and ended up with this very '80s looking image, but I liked it.  It hangs in my living room, and reminds me of the good old days. 

The things you can learn in a dark room...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Quick Note

Note to creationists: When Adam and Eve where plopped into the Garden of Eden, early civilizations were managing wineries and wearing leather shoes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Formspring Question--Movies

What's your favorite movie quote?

This is a tough one, because there are so many, and I am a rabid collector of quotations from films, books, funny or great stuff I hear people say, etc.  I write them down in a journal.  Over the years I've collected two full journals, which is sort of a lot considering I'm just writing a few little lines at a time (or sometimes pasting in a clip I've cut out of somewhere).  Anyway, here are the first favorite movie ones that popped into my mind:

"Those Baptists are STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!" --Ed Wood (from the film of the same name).

"Too bad, she said she doesn't want you here when she gets back because you've been ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak." --Napoleon Dynamite (from the film of the same name)

Queen Gorgo: Spartan!
King Leonidas: Yes, my lady?
Queen Gorgo: Come back with your shield, or on it.
King Leonidas: Yes, my lady.  --(from 300)

Joanne: All those kids in there want to run away and join the circus.
Helena: Great, they can have my life. I want to run away and join real life. (from MirrorMask)

"I shall slip unnoticed through the darkness... like a dark, unnoticeable slippy thing." --Valentine (also from MirrorMask)

That's all for the moment, but here comes the part where I think of others and go, "OH!  How could I not include THAT one?!"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Formspring--Sunday Mornings

Question:  Where do you attend church?

Depending on my mood...

Church of the Big Awesome Breakfast
Church of Laundry and NPR
Church of Great Cinema
Church of CBS Morning News and Face the Nation
Church of Simply Saturdays
Church of Great Books
Church of Choosing My Friends Based on Common Interests
Church of Giving to Causes that are Helpful to People
Church of Resting
Church of Freethinking
Church of the Arts
Church of Mind, Body and Spirit
Church Not Tainted by Politics
Church of Ongoing Learning
Church of No Guilt
Church of Goodness and Decency for its Own Sake
Church of Human Rights and Social Justice
Church of Balance
Church of Sanity
Church of Including Everyone
Church of Being Good to the Planet
Church of Catching up on Errands and Chores
Church of Hanging out With Friends
Church of Living According to the Moral Compass that Has Always Been Inside

...and once in awhile, the Unitarian Universalist church in a neighboring city, only because I want to, and because it stands for all of the above as much as or more than I do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

No, I Don't Want to Share My Journey

It was inevitable that I would eventually have to start talking to people in my life about the fact that my beliefs have changed drastically, and that I'm no longer religious.  I'm not sure what category I fit yet--humanist feels right, and I remember even in my Christian days thinking I was humanist, not even knowing that it was a "thing."  A few years ago, I started reading up on Humanism as a movement and philosophical stance, and everything I read about it makes me think, "Yep, that's what I am."  It wasn't a decision to convert to anything, it was just something I already was.  It was just buried under all of the dogma that I'd been raised with, then had taken as my own.  Depending on the day, agnostic or atheist works, too.

I've talked to some friends and a few of my siblings about it, and it has been an interesting mix of so-not-a-big-deal to "la la la I can't hear you" and moving on to the next topic.  Either way, no shit storms.  The most direct conversation I've had about it came this week...on a day that I took off from work to relax...with a person I've seen twice in my life.  I'm sort of irritated about this, and I wonder if you'll understand why.

A friend of mine from high school (and I graduated from high school twenty years ago this coming May) has for a long time been affiliated with a conservative Christian organization whose main purpose is proselytizing.  It started in her college years, and it became her job.  Believe me, I get this.  My most uber-Christian days were my college years and into my early twenties (sad, I know).  My faith in college led to some Jesus jobs for me, too, so we had this in common. 

We haven't had a ton of contact over the years, but every once in awhile, we'll run into each other.  I was one of her financial supporters for several years, and stopped three or four years ago for a few reasons.  One, I had a herniated disc, and in order to avoid surgery was doing a therapy that is legit, but not covered by insurance, so I was paying out of pocket.  The other reason, more selfishly, was that I was going to Ireland, and had a "fuck it" attitude toward some of the Christian groups I was sick of giving to at the expense of living my life.  This was no big deal, and she was great about it.

Fast forward to today, when she is married to guy who also works for this organization.  I still get their letters, which sometimes ask for extra donations or for you to become a monthly donor if you haven't already, or if you've dropped off of doing so like I had.  Even as a non-believer, I enjoyed getting the letters and seeing what their growing family was up to, and for the most part the religious goings on weren't annoying.  My biggest beef with this is that there is almost no humanitarian work done, as the goal is to convert people--get them "saved."

I'd gotten a few letters recently that were really heavy on the asking for moolah, and I began to wonder if it was time to come clean and tell them that I wouldn't donate anymore because I don't support their organization.  I never felt compelled to make contact, though, because seriously I met this guy at their wedding and then I saw them together one other time since then.  (Incidentally, the second meeting was promoted as an "open house" where they were going to be in town, so y'all come and we'll get to visit, but it turned out that they were just plugging their ministry.  Awkward).  Though I have great memories of her in high school, they are people I don't even see on a yearly basis.  My waffling wasn't allowed to continue, though, because last week, I got a really long rambling message from this guy via voicemail, asking me to look at their recent letter and really consider giving an extra gift and please, please become a monthly donor again. 

At this point, I knew I was going to have to 'fess up, but I was a little annoyed at how it was happening.  This guy whom I'd met twice was going to be the catalyst for me talking to an old friend about my belief system.  Potentially this would spread to other old friends, which is fine, but the time and method would not be of my choosing.  I was trying to decide whether to call my friend or perhaps write her a letter (a proper one, in the mail).  I hadn't decided, but I still thought it would be more appropriate for me to talk to her about it than him. 

A few days passed, and on a day where I was trying to relax (work has been crazy, as I've been filling in for my boss's maternity leave that started two months earlier than expected) I got another voicemail from him.  I knew I couldn't put it off anymore, so I just called him back when I got the message.

I asked him if it was a good time, and it was, so I dove in.  It was something like this:  "I got your messages, and I wanted to let you both know that I love and support you and your adorable family, but my beliefs have changed.  Because of that, [blank] isn't an organization I wish to give to anymore.  I want you to be successful and reach your goals, but I can't be a part of that other than being your friend."  It kind of spilled out, and I felt good about it.  I really didn't feel like I owed this veritable stranger any details.  He was really great about it; however, I was again annoyed (I'm over-using that word) when  he asked, "Well, do you have a minute?  Could you share your journey with me?"

You know what?  No.  I really didn't feel like it was necessary or appropriate to talk to him about it.  One of the things that kills me about religious people now that I'm out is that regardless of their level of association with you, they feel that everything is their fucking business.  Is this a religious thing, or is it a symptom of social networking?  I don't know, but I made an excuse that I couldn't talk anymore.  Maybe that was a cowardly way out and I just should have said "No, I don't want to share my journey with you" but I just wanted to get off of the phone and enjoy the rest of my day...which of course was clouded with this whole thing no matter how I tried to distract myself. 

He said that the next time they are in town, which will probably be Christmas, he wants for the three of us to visit.  Ugh.  I really like her, and I know I would like him if I knew him more, but I know any visit we have will be all about "hearing my journey" or trying to get me back in the fold.  I'm undoubtedly on numerous prayer lists by now.  I can't complain, because I used to be them, but I find it all so ridiculous now. 

We'll see what transpires from here.  Rant over.