Friday, August 23, 2013

Appropriate for Children Part II: Story Problems

My previous post contained photos of text from scripture, specifically from the book of Leviticus (chapters 7, 10, 11, 18 and 19).  The passages are in books clearly marketed to be purchased for children, and read and studied by them.  Here are some story problems that reflect some conundrums I find with the texts.

1.  Billy believes that the book of Leviticus is true, and that it contains quotations from God, as it claims.  Passages in Leviticus state that it is repugnant to God for his people to eat shellfish, wear cotton-poly blends and to engage in intercourse with someone of the same sex.  Billy regularly speaks out against same-sex marriage.  He also eats at Red Lobster and wears cotton-poly blend clothing, almost daily.  Why does Billy feel so strongly about some laws, yet behave so lackadaisically about others?  Can you help Billy reconcile this?

Bonus question for extra credit:  Does Billy really have a say in the matter of gay rights while breaking the other laws?  Circle one:  Yes   No

2.  Sally says that the Bible is needed in our government and schools, and that lifelong atheists like Susie have no moral compass.  The book of Leviticus states that God's people should not have sex with animals or sacrifice their children to Molech.  Susie has never had sex with an animal or burned a child to please Molech.  Is Sally correct?  Does Susie need Leviticus?

Bonus questions for extra credit:  Who is Molech?

Bonus question for extra credit:  How is Molech different from Yahweh (or not)?

3.  Tom believes that scriptures are not to be taken literally, but figuratively.  What is a helpful metaphor that can be gleaned from laws against sex with animals juxtaposed with laws about a man having sex with another man?

Bonus question:  Is Tom crazy?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Appropriate for Children?

This weekend, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time; I visited a Christian book store for the first time since my deconversion.  I had been inside a few as a doubter, but this would be the first time as a full-fledged atheist. 

Besides having worked in one, I spent a good deal of my twenties inundated in that world, whether it was listening to the music or reading the books that came from it, or even leading retreats and giving talks in front of groups using material sold in those kinds of places.  At the time, the whole marketed Christian culture was at once a little disturbing and also comforting in that it made my belief feel legitimized and at least...well...known and experienced in the same way as others.  Christian stores sold stuff that sort of spread a McDonald's and Wal-Mart generic-ness through American evangelical Christianity.  No matter where you would go for a convention or a concert, even several states away, you'd see someone in a Jars of Clay t-shirt or carrying the Christian bestseller that you had read, and even in addition to the common beliefs you held, you felt like you were among your own people.  For lack of a better way of explaining it, it was comforting being around people who knew the same stuff.

One of the red flags that waved in my face for years about Christianity was the way Bibles for Children were packaged.  I knew the material inside.  I could see the frills on the outside.  The two would never match up.  Eventually, this would be one of the things I would have to take off of the "shelf" in my mind, and look at it, straight on and no excuses.

I have a lot to say about this issue and will write more about it in the next post, but for now I just want to post some pictures of the covers of Bibles for children that I found in the store.  The photos of text are ones that I took on the inside of the cover below with the cartoon drawing of Jesus with some little children on it.  Farther below, you can see a close-up that shows that this version is "easy-to-read."  Maybe, but it's not easy for me to swallow anymore.  I could have posted links to these texts or copied and pasted them here, but I wanted to make the point that these verses are really in these versions of the Bible.

I wonder what you all think of this.  Of course, there's a lot that could be said about marketing, materialization, the whole princess nightmare that has leaked into all facets of girlhood.  Also, believers could argue about versions of the Bible and which are accurate translations and paraphrases (NIV, KJV, NKJV, ESV, The Message, The Living Bible, etc.).  But in this case, I'm really more interested in what people think about the juxtaposition of these covers and the material found inside.  The passages I show here are only a few examples.  I could have spent a lot of time in that store taking more.  I could only stomach a few minutes.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Could It Be Love?

ChristianMingle says that a deity matches up couples on their website.  I'm pretty sure it's algorithms.  Either way, I was matched up!

....With a film on Netflix that I'd never heard of called Mary and Max.  The powers that be thought that I'd rate it with an almost perfect score, and I did, I did!  Here's what the poster looks like, and here are a few verbal gems from the movie.

"I wish I could be in charge of all the chocolate, but of course I cannot, because of my atheism." 

"Mary Dinkle's eyes were the color of muddy puddles. Her birthmark, the color of poo."

"He's scared of outside, which is a disease called homophobia."

I loved this film!  Thanks, god!  or  Thanks, math!