LZ Granderson: Sucks. [And if you need to know why, read this and this -- Shakespeare's Sister and Pigtail Pals don't suck.]
I’ll now go back to my regularly scheduled reading of BBC articles about the Assize of Nuisance and conditions of privies in medieval London, ’cause that shit stinks a little less than a lot of the above.
To all the bigots,
To all the bashers of any[one/thing] non Xtian,
To all the misogynists and the homophobes,
To all the ones who equate being gay with being a sexual predator,
To all the ones who subtly or not-so-subtly blame women for their assault because of how they are dressed,
Or because of how they act,
Or how they don’t act,
Or because they had already had sex once anyway so what does it matter,
Or because they had the misfortune to be born with dirty-dirty vaginas and uteri instead of Paul-approved penises,
To the ones who throw around the word “heretic” as though it were the 16th century,
To the ones who throw around the word “heretic” without realizing how incredibly damn ironic it is for a Calvinist Protestant to call someone a heretic,
To the ones who call anyone who believes in a different flavor of Christianity a sinner,
To the ones who shame their daughters for being anything other than their primitive and controlling version of “feminine,”
To the ones who shame their sons for being anything other than their primitive and controlling version of “masculine,”
To the ones who claim to “love the sinner, but hate the sin,” when you obviously hate both,
To all of you who would rather keep your children ignorant than risk them learning something that’s outside your teensy little bubble…
We will win.
We “heathens” and “heretics” and “sinners” will win.
We will win because we have less shame about our bodies.
We will win because we aren’t afraid to accept new ideas.
We will win because we can distinguish between evidence-based science and something written by men, translated by men, voted on for inclusion by men, preached by men, and enforced by men.
We will win because we don’t think someone or something made us inherently wrong or bad.
We will win because we will not teach our children to hate who they are.
We will win because we will not let our children tell other children to hate who they are.
We will win because we will accept your children into our families with love and tolerance when you have driven them away with shame and hellfire.
We will win because we won’t accept victims being blamed for the crimes against them,
Because we don’t equate “purity” with character,
Because we don’t equate individuality with sin,
Because we don’t equate intelligence with heresy,
Because we don’t equate pettiness with godliness.
Because we don’t equate shaming with modesty.
One day those hateful seeds you sow
In your churches,
In your communities,
In your children,
Will grow into ugly plants,
And when that is all you will have to reap,
You’re going to have a lean, lean winter.
For those invested in gender [stereo]typing, it is very important that you do not allow your son to do this (if you can’t find it, upper right hand picture — PINK TOENAILS? On a BOY? WORLD IS ENDING!). People might say ridiculous things like this. They’re afraid you might turn him into this [which, to the gender-typing, is a BAD THING(tm)].
On the other hand, the gender [stereo]typing set strongly encourages you to buy these and these, because it would be awful if your baby girls were mistaken as boys.
So, to summarize:
Playful bonding time with mom and son: BAD!
Dressing your infant daughter like a can-can dancer: GOOD!
UPDATE: Reader Sandhya would like to share this link so we can all learn how long-standing is the history of boys wearing blue and girls wearing pink (hint: it’s not really all that long-standing).
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’ve had my share to say about Conservative Christianity and its view of evolution as being mutually exclusive with faith. I’ve talked about how appalling it is for parents to teach their children as fact something that is not only NOT evidence-based, but which flies in the face of all sound science. I’ve discussed my concerns about a creationist mentality encroaching into our laws and our schools. I’m concerned about the general dumbing-down of American in the name of God.
Luckily, it turns out that I’m not the only one with those concerns! Even more luckily, Christians themselves are raising their voices in support of evolution science. In 2006, a large group of clergy (467 in total) came together to sign a letter decrying the false dichotomy of religion vs science. Rather than force people to choose between their religion/denomination’s beliefs and strong scientific evidence, they instead started looking for ways to show that scientific theory and spirituality aren’t in opposition to each other. This year, 642 congregations, which include groups from every state and 13 countries, to demonstrate that:
Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God.
Or, as pastor Carl Gregg so eloquently states it, “As people of faith in the 21st century, we can do better, and Evolution Sunday is an explicit invitation to remind both ourselves and our congregations that we shouldn’t have to check our brain at the door of the church.”
Or, as my former biology teacher, Dr. Wes McCoy, put it, “Understanding how humans are intimately connected through genetics to all other living species fills my soul with wonder. My understanding of evolution does nothing to diminish my faith in God. In fact, my connection to God is deepened when I contemplate the intricate beauty of evolution.”
Secular science and religious belief don’t have to negate each other. Nearly 650 congregations have come together to declare this. That’s nearly 650 congregations full of people who don’t think the Bible has to be believed at the expense of research or our own exploration of the world. That so many people can embrace the compatibility of both spirituality and science shines a rather pointed light on those who say the two must be in opposition. Evolutionary Christians are out there, exploring how science and faith can relate, be reconciled. Every single one of them makes the science-deniers look all the more foolish.
Why would the God you believe in give you an incisive brain if he didn’t want you to put it to good use? I’m legitimately sorry for those who believe in a God who gave them a brain and keen senses in order to trick or tempt or fool them. What a sad state you must exist in, trying to figure out if every bit of evidence is another attempt to lead you astray and then punish you for it. You decry all the evidence as being chicanery on the part of scientists, some kind of devil, or God, because you believe what you have been told: believing in science means you can’t believe in God. How very sad for you that your own denomination or congregation works so hard to keep you in your own private Dark Ages.
I want to see more evolutionary Christians in the world. If faith is going to continue to play such a huge part in our society — and I see no way around that — I hope for a rise in the number of congregations who don’t accept a handful of narrow interpretations of translations of widely-varying accuracy of millennia-old texts over the mountain of evidence supporting contemporary scientific theory. The secular and the spiritual can live together in harmony. There can and should be a place for both. There shouldn’t, however, be a place where “it’s true because I believe it” outweighs “it’s true because the data supports it.” Faith can make us strong or compassionate or hopeful. Blind faith just makes us dumb.
A commenter on my post about the pro-creationist bill introduced in Oklahoma seemed to think I was getting my panties in a twist over something he dismissed as a “crackpot bill.” Whether or not the state senator introducing the bill is a crackpot isn’t the issue here, however (though I agree that he is, in fact, a crackpot). The problem isn’t that one guy in Oklahoma thinks teachers should teach creationism in the classroom. The problem is that so many teachers already do.
LiveScience reports that data collected from 926 nationally representative participants in the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers shows that fewer than 30 percent of teachers teach an adamantly pro-evolution biology curriculum, while 13 percent of these teachers advocate creationism in their classrooms. An overwhelming majority (close to 60%) didn’t take an in-class stance on the issue at all, opting to skirt the issue by talking about genes or “teaching the controversy.”
So, yeah. I’m concerned when a senator introduces a bill that would give that 13% of teachers state support. I do think it’s a big deal and I expect better for and from our public schools.
Growing up in an affluent, yet very conservative, county in GA, the potential for creationism popping up in my high school science classrooms was high. Luckily, I instead had Dr. Wes McCoy, who is both a devout Christian (Presbyterian) and a vocal proponent of evolutionary science. He was also a 2006 recipient of the AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. He is a member of the Broader Social Impacts Committee of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins Initiative, which explores the question of “What does it mean to be human?” in part through relationship between science and religion.
That Dr. McCoy holds a strong belief in God and is an active member of his church was never an issue in the classroom. It didn’t interfere with the evidence-based teaching of evolutionary science. On the contrary, Dr. McCoy himself has said, “My understanding of evolution does nothing to diminish my faith in God. In fact, my connection to God is deepened when I contemplate the intricate beauty of evolution.” A man of profound faith, but also a man of science, Dr. McCoy has staunchly fought for high science standards for our local school system and against such anti-evolutionary nonsense as the “evolution is a theory, not a fact” stickers in the county’s science texts.
This man set my standard for scientific excellence in the classroom. It wasn’t until I had my own children and had to start looking at potential pitfalls in their education that I came to realize that Dr. McCoy, while an exemplary teacher, is not a particularly accurate example of the type of science teacher I could expect for my children throughout their years in school. They would be twice as likely to have a teacher who pussy-foots around the topic of education as they would be to have one like Dr. McCoy. Their odds of having a teacher with a creationist or “intelligent design” approach to education is unacceptably high. The desire for my children to have a sound, accurate education in evolutionary science is one of many reasons why I have chosen to homeschool them. When I look at the numbers from the National Survey of High School Biology Teachers, I have it reconfirmed for me that this choice was a very wise one.
It’s easy to dismiss concerns about inappropriate religious influences in the classroom and on our laws as “tilting at windmills,” but saying it doesn’t make it so. Conservative (“evangelical” and/or “fundamentalist,” if you prefer) Christianity still significantly impacts laws and policies relating to education, healthcare, marriage, and other areas of our lives. Even if, as some numbers show, the overall % of people in the US who identify as Christian is decreasing (and even that is debatable, as more people are becoming disenchanted with organized religion and identify as religiously unaffiliated, which doesn’t mean they have don’t still share specific conservative religious views), those who remain become more and more polarized into an extreme way of thinking. That impacts the lives and education of my children and makes it a topic worth addressing here.
The bill specifically states that teachers can teach the “scientific strengths or scientific weaknesses of controversial topics in sciences and that “scientific information is not excluded from this definition solely on the basis that it coincides with the tenets of some or all religious beliefs or doctrines.” It also says that “this section only protects the teaching of scientific information and specifically does not protect the promotion of any religion, religious doctrine, or religious belief” and “this definition does exclude information based solely on religious writings, beliefs or doctrines,” so at least “the Bible says so” won’t be an acceptable reason to teach it in science class, right?
Of course, all it takes is one piece of “evidence” for “intelligent design” or one argument from one of those so-called creation scientists to justify teachers presenting faith-based fancy, which has absolutely no basis in real evidence or scientific theory, as a perfectly valid alternative to actual science. Under this law, school systems would not be allowed to prevent teachers from teaching creationism or the even more insidious “intelligent design” as scientifically on par with neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. Teachers could not be disciplined for teaching tripe as fact, as long as they can fabricate some small claim that what they are teaching is based in any way on something that might sorta-kinda resemble a fact.
In other words, teachers in Oklahoma would be able to place their religious beliefs above doing the duties of their job, just like some pharmacists are doing. Instead of taking a job where their skewed morality is welcome (a religious school, perhaps?), they are going to spew it into public schools. Nothing like an impressionable group of young students to sew the seeds of ignorance and religious fervor.
We choose not to send our children to public school. Our family situation allows us the freedom and ability to homeschool our children. If that changed, however, and I had to send my children to public school, I should be able to do so with the expectation that they will not be taught that the world was created 6000 years ago, that people lived with dinosaurs, that God is a fact (whatever our personal spiritual beliefs), or that the Bible is true. Separation of church and state should mean your religious beliefs aren’t being impressed upon my children. It should mean that, in order to teach science in a public school, you should actually — call me crazy here — teach evidence-based science.
Some of you already know about Secular Thursday, the day when secular homeschoolers (whatever that means to you) can come together and talk about issues and experiences that are relevant to your lives. Over the past two years, the Secular Thursdays (#secthurs if you’re Tweeting about it) movement has grown, until we have a pretty impressive list of bloggers writing, at least occasionally, Secular Thursday thoughts to share with the blogosphere.
Secular Thursday isn’t popular with everyone. Of course, there’s the objection from the non-secular set, but even within the self-identifying secular homeschooling community, people have taken issue with the idea of Secular Thursday. I’ve received comments with a varying degree of tone (ranging from holier-than-thou to passive aggressive to downright nasty) from people who think Secular Thursday is too negative, that the goal is to offend or mock people with other views, that we’re making a mountain out of a molehill when we say it’s hard to find materials and support for a secular viewpoint in homeschooling.
You know, sometimes our posts can be negative. Many aspects of the world seem stacked against a secular education, favoring religion over scientific evidence. Sometimes, however, our posts are downright joyful. Sometimes we do have to mock or poke fun a little bit — it’s a natural response to the attitude that we, the secular/non-religious, are morally lacking or inferior, that because we don’t choose in include God in our curricula, that our children are growing up without guidance or character. It’s hard to live in a world comprised of people who think we’re going to hell; if we need to blow off a little steam, what of it? As my Momma puts it, you can get glad in the same pants you got mad in.
It hasn’t gotten any easier to not be a Christian in this country. It’s not getting any easier. Religion still has a too-strong hold on our laws. We live in a country where a pharmacist can deny a woman’s access to life-saving medication because he thinks she might have had an abortion, where gay people are denied the right to marry or adopt children because it offends someone’s narrow view of the fantasy of “traditional” marriage, where science texts are rewritten to include the decided non-scientific Creationist/Intelligent Design beliefs and history texts are rewritten to gloss over the ugly bits…well, don’t tell me that being secular in general — let alone a secular homeschooler, let along a secular homeschooler in the South — is always easy-peasy and that we’re practically dripping with support.
Secular Thursday is my way of reminding myself that I’m not alone in this. I’m not the only one who feels on the “outside,” who is frustrated by what I see on the “inside,” who would like access to a wider range of materials, who would like access to a wider range of groups and services, who sometimes feels like the world might be going to hell in a handbasket (if you happen to believe in hell, which I don’t), or who just plain wants to talk about stuff that the majority of the folks on the WTM forums don’t want to hear about and can’t behave themselves if you do talk about it. I’m not alone. All of these folks are with me:
If you aren’t on this list and want to be, let me know. If you’ve become disenchanted with the idea of Secular Thursday and want off the list, let me know. If you want to bitch about Secular Thursday, you go right on ahead; it doesn’t hurt my feelings, but it sure doesn’t change my mind. If you aren’t sure what you think about Secular Thursdays, read about it. Read through my Secular Thursday posts, read through Patchfire’s, read through the others on the list. Our points of view are as varied as yours.
“Secular” has several meanings and not everybody groks exactly what you mean when you say you’re a secular homeschooler. The World English Dictionary lists these among the first (and more relevant) definitions of secular:
secular (ˈsɛkjʊlə) — adj
1. of or relating to worldly as opposed to sacred things; temporal
2. not concerned with or related to religion
3. not within the control of the Church
4. of an education, etc
a. having no particular religious affinities
b. not including compulsory religious studies or services
To many homeschoolers, “secular” simply means “not using religious materials/curricula,” or sometimes more broadly as “not using Christian materials/curricula.”
When I say I’m a secular homeschool, that’s what I’m talking about. I’ve largely embraced the popular definition of “secular” as used by the larger homeschooling population. By calling myself a secular homeschooler, I am saying that our academic/educational materials/curricula have no particular religious affinities and is related to “wordly” subject matters, not religious. That’s really all I mean. I’m not hiding some additional meaning. I’m not making a statement about my personal beliefs. I’m not making a statement about my thoughts on your personal beliefs. I’m not making a declaration of our educational style or methodology. All I’m saying is that we do not include religious materials in our studies, that we use evidence-based (not faith-based) materials, and that we do not involve religion in the presentation of subject matter.
Not everybody interprets the term “secular” in the same way. Secular homeschoolers themselves often seem to make a leap to a much narrower definition of secularity. I’ve noticed two fairly common assumptions about what I mean by secular homeschooler: that I am an unschooler or that I am an atheist. I have no animosity towards my fellow secular homeschoolers for making these assumptions; I just find it somewhat strange.
Now, if you’ve read my blog at all, you know I’m not an unschooler. When I meet other secular homeschoolers in person, however, they often make the assumption that I must be. Maybe their thinking is they are secular homeschoolers and they are unschoolers, so all secular homeschoolers must be unschoolers. I suppose it’s normal to assume that someone who self-identifies with language you also use for yourself would be like you in other ways. Still, I am unclear as to why “secular” seems to imply “without curricula” or “informal.” I attended some park days with a local secular homeschooling meetup group, and they would initiate conversations with the assumption that I was an unschooler or at least a non-curricula-using homeschooler.
If you’ve read back through my Secular Thursday posts, I think I’ve also made it pretty clear to my regular readers that I’m not an atheist. I usually refer to myself as an nonspecific areligious believer, the dreaded “spiritual but not religious,” or some derivation thereof. I have beliefs that are vaguely deist in flavor, others that are somewhat humanist, and some that are downright New Agey. None of them fit me neatly into any specific religion or philosophy. I believe in something, however. I’m not an atheist. I’m not even an agnostic. I’m just not at all religious, which is what I’d always believed “secular” meant.
I’m not surprised to discover that many secular homeschoolers are atheists. I have no problem with that. I am surprised that there’s an assumption from my fellow secular homeschoolers that I am an atheist. When the majority of the homeschooling world assumes “secular” means “absence of Christian and/or religious curricula,” it’s odd that the secular homeschooling world makes the additional assumption of a complete absence of spiritual belief. Why? Why do so many secular homeschoolers go that extra length in their mental definition of secularity?
I’m not expecting any answers, though if you are a self-identifying secular homeschooler, I’m interested in knowing if you assume either unschooling or atheism when you hear someone else identify as a secular homeschooler. Heck, if you aren’t a secular homeschooler, I’d be interested in knowing what, if anything, you assume.
Well, if you assume I’m going to hell, I’m not interested in know that, because it will hurt my feelings. I might cry. I might take pictures of myself crying and then blog them. That’s just how I roll.
This is a sort of meandering and uninsightful (or un-inciteful) post, but that whole Waldorf thing wore me out and this is the best I can come up with.
Officer Daddyman’s sensei, whom I affectionately refer to as Ninja Houseguest, is in town from Japan and staying with us for the next week. While he’s here, he’ll be teaching classes around the Atlanta area and somewhere in Alabama, and then teaching a two-day seminar over the weekend.
This is going to be an interesting week for us, schedule wise. We have an additional adult’s schedule to accommodate, plus Daddyman’s schedule will be different, due to traveling around with Ninja Houseguest. Can the McLernins adequately integrate Ninja Schooling into our already busy schedule?
Hopefully, today won’t be the standard. We accomplished exactly science and Essay Town before zipping off to the airport where, in a nearly-British comedy of errors, I circled and circled, he walked in and out of the building, Daddyman called the airport and paged, and we finally ended up meeting inside an hour later with me in tears and him in mild frustration. I was not up for any more school by the time we made it back home at 3:30.
Tomorrow, Ninja Houseguest is being taken to a dojo south of the city by another ninja, so we’ll be able to go most about our normal schedule, up until Tank and Babypie’s 1:30 doctor appointment, where Babypie gets a checkup and we try to ascertain the roots of Tank’s speech difficulties. Hopefully, we’ll be able to squeeze as much work as possible into the morning hours.
Wednesday, I’ve decided the best course of action is to dump everything in favor of a field trip. Fernbank is currently holding an exhibition on water, which also happens to be the subject Captain Science has been studying in his PLATO Science units over the last few weeks. We’ll go down town for a few hours, enjoy Fernbank, maybe even eat a free hot dog, if they’re still doing the “Free Hotdog Wednesday” promotion.
Thursday, Ninja Houseguest and Officer Daddyman will drive out to Alabama in the afternoon, so we’ll have the pleasant distraction of bother of their presences during our school day. I’ll have to bring the kids to Math Olympiad myself or see if I can rope Patchfire’s husband into doing it. Maybe we’ll skip it, depending on how frazzled my nerves are by that point, though Captain Science really does enjoy it and it’s a good social outlet. I’m hoping we can have another meetup w/ the Mitnens, but I guess we’ll just have to see how that goes. *fingers crossed*
Friday, Daddyman has made it his goal to find “something interesting to do” in the area. Ninja Houseguest hasn’t ever had much opportunity to do touristy stuff when he’s here, so Daddyman wants to take him some place fun and interesting. Hopefully, it’ll be something we can tag along with in the name of another field trip! Any suggestions? We have to be back by the late afternoon for a friend’s son’s birthday party.
This weekend, it’ll be just me and the kids the whole time, so I think we’ll rattle around like marbles in a can for a while and maybe bug Nana a bit.