Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A New blog for a new year...

So, I'm joining the great and evil empire of google by using them for my blog. Some part of me wonders if google is in reality just attempting to build some great AI that conglomerates all of human knowledge in an attempt to create some sort of skynet type super-intelligence, but then I just realize their another big company trying to make a buck.

I've had a few blogs in the past, but this one will be a bit different in that its going to be about current events, what I see going on, and hopefully a somewhat useful commentary for a few. In order to help you understand my motivations and the general theme of this blog, I'm going to give you a quick summary of my past year.

October of 2005 I went through a crisis of faith and realized I would leave the religion of my youth.

In January of 2006, the pressure to do more in the faith brought me to a breaking point and I had something of a nervous breakdown. I checked myself into therapy.

In February of 2006, this breakdown caused me to shut down even further, to the point at which all I could bring myself to do was travel back and forth from University activities to my parents house, constant pressure was applied for me to become more active in the faith.

In April of 2006 things finally boiled over and I made plans to leave the city for a week. When I left, my parents came to the realization that I wasn't playing by the religion's rules anymore by associating with non-members. An ultimatum was given that I shape up or leave. At this point I still did not have my degree finalized.

In May of 2006 it became obvious I could no longer live with my parents. Despite not having graduated I was forced out. I lived out of my car for a night, but then drove a few states away to live with a friend. He did not really have space for me, I stayed in his garage.

I was legally homeless for May, June, and July. Needless to say that made finding a job difficult. While I was looking for a job, I helped my friend out at his janitorial business cleaning bathrooms and office buildings.

In August of 2006, I had gainful employment and a new apartment. During the move in, I separated my shoulder and bruised the bone.

The month of September 2006, I again reached a breaking point. My family had became both hot and cold to me - threatening to shun me, shunning me, then welcoming me back. The religion I left takes a very dim view of ex-members, particularly ex-members with large and vocal disagreements. I managed to do the home and work thing, but let far too many things slip and slide by. My friends pushed me into seeing a therapist.

In October 2006 I met a wonderful woman and had a great time enjoying a "real" romance. I did a few foolish things, but finally let myself go a bit. Unfortunately, I was still living in denial and not seeing to things I needed to do in life.

November 2006 was the start of the holiday season, and I again went through a near breakdown. Luckily I had a few special people there that helped me hang unto reality. At this point, I pretty much stopped jumping online, the internet world just didn't seem to interest me anymore.

December 2006 saw my first Christmas, during which I got the flu and had a wonderful time with that through New Years. The Holidays represented something of a dark time for me, as I didn't have a real family to celebrate them with. My family is currently hundreds of miles away and doesn't have anything to do with me or traditional holidays. My romantic relationship moved to what I consider a very good friendship.

Which brings me to January of 2007. Once again I find myself facing what at times fills like a mountain of stress. I'd like to make clear to everyone here reading what I gave up in order to actually consider my faith. I gave up:

- the relationship with my family
- my home city
- all of my childhood friends
- my adult friends, with very few exceptions
- the graduate school program I had intended on entering
- the profession I had intended on entering
- my entire savings
- the vast majority of my possessions

After leaving your family, being abondoned by your friends, spending all your money (and then some), and loosing your possessions during a move, you rather find yourself wondering "Was it worth it?".

Everyday people are forced to make the decision to give up all those things, and the truth is that it was really a choice for me. I've been told before that a choice for freedom is the easier choice, but I'm not sure I believe it. People give up their freedoms to live the easier life all the time. I get a steady stream of letters telling me that God will condemn me for my choices, my actions, and my speaking out against His organization.

I find myself questioning my choice. Was it the right one? Have I really left God? Am I condemned for trying to find a different path?

Then I think about the other things of this religion. A religion that believes only 1 out of 1000 people are worthy of life. A religion that will shun a woman for being raped and becoming pregnant, but welcome a pedophile back into their midst because they can't "prove" their sin without 2 witnesses. And for the apologists out there? Don't blow smoke up my ass saying it doesn't happen:

A current good friend was sexually abused as a child while the organization did nothing.
A woman I love was raped and the organization shunned her.
My cousin was raped and gave birth and the organization shunned her.

These people all had an organization that claims to be of God fail them in their darkest hour. The shunning for rape is justified by claiming that "those women put themselves in the situation and were partially to blame."

I want you to imagine for a second, that you have been raped. Horrible isn't it? Now I want you to imagine you are part of an organization that you are not supposed to have good friends outside of. Now, I want you to imagine that your family are members of this organization as well. And finally, imagine that because you were raped that all of those friends and family cut you off and will no longer speak with you. They will no longer eat with you. You are unclean, a cancer to them.

That is the organization I left - the Jehovah's Witnesses. On the face they seem like a positive Christian organization. They hug children and kiss babbies. The real crime of the Witnesses is their complete failure to admit when they are wrong. It is in doing that that they perpetuate the greatest harms to others by refusing to recognize that harm and change to not continue doing it. When the organization is presented with evidence of the harm caused by their policy of controlled shunning and effects of child abuse, they continue to swipe it under the rug. They hide under platitudes and claims of moral superiority.

While the organization has done great harm, they are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of churches and organizations perpetuating ignorance, hate, hypocrisy, and bigotry. That is what this blog is about. I'm not anti-Christian. I'm not athiest. I just want to see some justice in the world and call people on their bullshit.

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