How following Christian advice hurt my social life.

This post gets rather personal and vulnerable. I am posting this as a specific example of harm done by a particular type of Christian upbringing. I think that surely I am not the only one, and this post will help others who experienced the same thing.

I knew next to nothing about the culture of my peers when I was in school. I listened only to Christian music (CCM) until I was 17 years old and I didn’t watch the popular shows — largely because the folks at Focus on the Family said they were bad. Mom told me not to watch The Simpsons specifically, and shows like Friends were out too. (An odd exception was The Lion King, which I think was the only animated Disney film we ever purchased. FotF approved it because they thought the story of Simba mirrored Jesus. However, my main take-away from the movie was the “circle of life” concept, which is not what they were intending to push. But anyway… ) I had very little opportunity to watch shows without my parent’s supervision while I lived at home, because only one TV was connected to satellite and the antennae reception was terrible where we lived. I could watch what I wanted early in the morning, or what I could pick up on the tiny tv in my room on antennae, but this was very limiting. Dad pretty much had full control of the TV all during the day. As a result, I knew basically nothing about the music and tv shows of my peers, and had very little I could talk to them about. I didn’t get their cultural references. What was even worse is that I thought that a lot of their stuff, such as Bevis and Butthead and Metallica and Ozzy Ozbourne and all (secular) rap, was actually evil. Brio (the magazine from Focus on the Family for teen girls) said as much, and I took it seriously. I tried to get my friends to listen to the Christian music and go to vacation bible school with me as my form of witnessing, and you can guess how that turned out. My belief that I being rejected because I was a Christian did nothing to help me overcome the real problem. I learned about eighth grade that most of my peers, even the worst bullies, were Christians from Christian families too, and I found that revelation to be a shock. (There is a story about Christianity being pushed in the classroom behind that revelation, and I may get to that in a future post.)

The fact that I have a natural tendency to take things literally and not notice ‘unspoken rules’ did not help either. Basically, I was the awkward homeschool kid before I even started homeschool. I’ve made some great strides socially since then, connecting to others though interests in TV shows, like Doctor Who, and though my atheist group. Right now I am more social than I ever was in school. However, I still carry that social anxiety baggage from my school experiences. There are some things you never entirely get over.

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Darwin Day 2010 at CFI Indy

Last Saturday I had the great opportunity to go to the Darwin Day 2010 conference in Indianapolis. It’s not the first time I’d made the two-hour trek from Louisville to Indianapolis for a Center for Inquiry event, but it is the largest event that I’ve seen there.

The itinerary for the event is here: Darwin Day 2010. Rather than merely give an overview of what each speaker presented, I am going to give highlights of what I thought were some of the most interesting and notable points.

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Why Comprehensive Sex-Ed is Important to Me

I’m going to tell a bit about how I learned about sex, and why sex education is an important issue for me. My hope is that my story with help other girls who find themselves in the same situation that I was in.

Some of the details here I’m not exactly certain about and I will leave out any details that I deem too personal to share on the Internet. This is roughly chronological.

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Let Freedom Ring!

It’s July 4th weekend! And this, along with my reading Reading Lolita in Tehran, has gotten my thinking just how wonderful the freedoms we have in America really are. It’s shocking to see how the morality police in Iran, the Revolutionary Guard, protect their society by making sure the woman do not wear nail polish or show a strand of hair.

“Can you imagine the kind of man who’d get sexually provoked just by looking at a strand of my hair?” said Nassrin. “Someone who goes crazy at the sight of a woman’s toe…wow!” she continued, “My toe as a lethal weapon!” (from pg 70)

I can’t imagine…It’s made me incredibly thankful for the freedoms I enjoy here in the U.S. I even bought a pair of red shoes yesterday. If I lived under such rules as described in “Reading Lolita” such a thing would be unthinkable. I shudder to think what could have happen if so many of the Founding Fathers had not been sons of the Enlightenment–if groups like the Puritans would have seized power over the United States.

There are groups even here in the United States who desire to enforce their religious rules and “morality” on society. First thing coming to my mind is those who would try to restrict women’s access to and education about birth control. Those who would prevent gay couples from marrying. Or trying to censor ideas by banning books from the library. I don’t care if it’s done in the name of Allah or Jesus. It’s all the same to me.

But at least here in America I still can show my individuality and femininity without being tormented by “morality police.”

And I can read whatever I want! I can meet in a book group without fear of being raided by  some form of the Revolutionary Guard. Reading was my form of rebellion, after all.

Thank goodness for freedom of religion and freedom from religion! Let’s not take it for granted.

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Evangelicalism, Atheism, and Womanhood

I think my upbringing is a bit atypical for an evangelical. My mother was the main breadwinner for the family, due to my father’s health issues. She is a bit of a feminist herself in the sense that a woman can do anything a man can, though she totally disavows the label. I think she ignores, overlooks, and reinterprets the bits of the Bible that are degrading to women. I remember reading a book called “A Woman’s Place” that she had explaining why it was ok for women to be preachers, despite all that Paul said about women being silent in the churches. She got her ordination, but then decided to stick with lay ministry anyway. I have no clue exactly why, but I do know I’ve never seen a Nazarene church with a woman in the pulpit at the regular pastor.

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