Wednesday, October 25, 2006

When You Thought It Was Safe to Answer Your Door

Knowing how much Everett loves the Mormons, I had to post about the recent Watchtower tract wedged in my door while we were away. The title is, The End of False Religion is Near!, and it has to be the strongest piece of Jehovah's Witness literature I've ever seen. I'm tempted to scribe it word-for-word since I could not find a copy of it on, but I have determined it's part of a month long campaign for the Witnesses; you may receive a copy of it soon if you haven't already.

The reason I say it's the strongest piece of literature I've seen is because this tract comes close to outright stating that modern Christianity of any demonination is false religion, souring politics and paving the way for Armageddon. It asks questions to determine what is false religion and gives deliberately vague, thinly veiled examples that are easy to recognize without qualifying as libel. A few examples:

1. By teaching the concept of souls going to Heaven after death, churches are practicing false religion by going against Christ's statements that the dead will be resurrected.
2. Jesus Christ is referred to as "a widely respected religious figure".
3. Church groups that ordain homosexuals as clergy members or condone child molestation by religious leaders are practicing false religion.
4. The harlot spoken of in Revelation is false religion. The beast with seven heads and ten horns represents the world's political leaders who listen to the harlot and use false religion to justify their actions.
5. Eventually, the "rotten tree" of false religion will be struck down by the beast upon God's instruction.

The solution? Call a Kingdom Hall and ask the Witnesses to show you how to escape false religion through their instruction in the Scripture.

Some of you may know that I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. Mom met some in G-town when I was two, and she liked their message. I went with her to the Kingdom Hall in town and participated in the Bible studies at our apartment or at an elder's house. I read the materials, but had too many questions. By the time I was 8, I began to realize there were some problems when the elders couldn't answer the questions I had about calculating the rings on one of the Cedars of Lebanon, or about the Trinity, or the missing references to Jehovah in the Holy Scripture, or about the 144,000 people from the 12 tribes who would go to Heaven after Armageddon. Eventually, I went only to the Nisan 14 services under protest, and finally stopped going when I was 12.

I find it very interesting that the Witnesses are proclaiming themselves so strongly that they are the true religion--they always have, but not by blatently attacking Christianity as they do in this pamphlet. I learned during my time at G-town Baptist that the Southern Baptist Convention considers them a cult because they have a different translation of the Scripture and use supplemental books to teach about their faith. Irony? Maybe.

Another reason I found the tract interesting is it made me ponder my world view based on what I learned in childhood. Halloween has really stemmed this thought wave for me, and it's similar to what I went through last Christmas. See, Witnesses do not pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag or celebrate birthdays because they see it as putting a false idol or oneself above God. Witnesses don't celebrate common holidays, like Christmas, Halloween, or Easter, because the modern celebrations are based in pagan rituals. As a child, when my classes had holiday or birthday parties, I went to the principal's office and sat in the quiet tolerance of the secretary at his desk, drawing on copy paper. I didn't dress up for Halloween. I didn't meet Santa Claus. I didn't believe in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. No chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, or stockings filled with fruit and candy canes for me. The closest day I had to Christmas was when Mom brought home the layaway box from Sears with our back to school clothes.

Last Christmas, we made a concerted effort to make sure CJ had a separate birthday and Christmas because of their proximity to each other. I dove into making a birthday cake and buying birthday toys whole-heartedly, but struggled with Christmas. As beautiful a sight as our trimmed tree with presents beneath was, I felt a faint pang of guilt, as if I were wrong in having it. I still haven't decided about Santa. I'm leaning toward teaching CJ that Santa is a personification of goodwill towards others, not a separate being, but I don't want calls from angry parents because my kid told their kid Santa ain't real. This Halloween, I was relieved that CJ's daycare has banned costumes as it means no one will have the experience I had of being the only kid who didn't dress up.

Don't even ask me where I stand on the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. I haven't gotten that far.

Because Witnesses do not believe in the concept of the Trinity, and this was drilled into my head at an early age, I don't believe in the concept that 1=3. To me, the Bible is mainly a collection of creation myths and attempts to explain fantastic phenomena beyond human comprehension at the time, and a way of defining a purpose because people need some sense of purpose. In my personal worldview, I confess I take things a step further and do not believe that Jesus Christ was the literal Son of God. I believe Christ was an exceptional man, very wise and compassionate for his time, who taught great concepts that should be followed. I don't know if Christ thought he really was the Son of God, but I believe that he was certain his death would cleanse the sins of mankind, as God said. Despite my doubts of Jesus' divinity, I accept my salvation without reservation--as I see it, God said it, Jesus believed it, and since we have no proof when it comes to religion, the intent is good enough for me. I'm not comfortable calling myself a Christian, though, because I don't follow the Old Testament, and really only follow what Jesus is recorded as saying in the Gospels themselves--love your neighbors, help the poor and sick, keep the government out of the churches and the churches out of the government, don't judge. Those are my basic morals, and I really don't care what food I should or shouldn't eat, who sleeps with whom, what days I should sit in a tent in my backyard, or whether or not I'm completely righteous and everyone else is going to Hell. I don't even believe in Hell!

As you can imagine, I've been thinking about these things a lot since Christopher was born. While I would rather not taint him with my unorthodox way of thinking, I know the questions will eventually come. While I would like for him to learn about God and the basic stories of my youth, I don't want his knowledge coming from propaganda or from politicized churches spouting judgement and hate in their proclamations of God's Word and Love. I want him to have an open mind about other religions and cultures, but not so open that he becomes lost and doesn't know what to believe--or becomes so open that he accepts any old doctrine that comes along without looking at things from a critical point of view.

This parenting stuff is hard. Forget about diapers, meals, and the constant supervision. That stuff is easy compared to these thoughts keeping me up at night while my baby soundly sleeps.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wild Blue Yonder

This weekend the Thunderbird Balloon and Air Classic was held at Goodyear Airport, which is about a mile, mile and a half from my house. I've been hearing the Blue Angels since Thursday when they first flew in to practice. Rather than pay the ticket prices to see entertainment we didn't really care about, Jay and Erik and Tom and I decided to make a day of it.

Tom cleaned up the backyard yesterday and cleaned the grill, I cleaned my kitchen, and Jay and Erik brought lots of cow! I made a batch of CheezIt burgers and another batch of parmesan burgers (Jay's idea), got the hot dogs together, and Tom slapped them all on the grill. As we finished a late lunch, we watched a four-prop military plane of some sort fly around and then come straight for the house! He passed right over us at an altitude of about 200ft--right about the time I realized my camera was still inside!

After eating, we went behind our backyard to the street and sat in the shade of our yardwall so we could get a better view of the close-to-the-ground manuevers. Erik and I discussed the merits of developing and building a one-way view wall, like the mirrors in interrogation rooms on TV. CJ contented himself to playing with gravel, dirt, and dried leaves while we waited for the Blue Angels to start. According to the schedule they were supposed to start at 3pm, but we didn't see them until 3:30--apparently they have some runway stuff they do first before taking flight.

CJ loved the planes at first, as they were flying farther away and the sound of the jets wasn't as loud. Eventually, they came close enough that I could read "U.S. NAVY" painted in orange under the wings. At that point, the jet noise began to scare CJ, and I took him back into the house shortly before the show ended.

When we came back to the house, CJ wanted to go into the backyard, and we did, until he discovered the loud noises traveled there, too. We went back inside and cuddled for the rest of the show until Tom, Jay, and Erik came back. Since it was such a nice day, we had shut off the AC and opened all the windows; my cats went into hiding. Zeke was found right away but we didn't find Shadow until an hour after the Blue Angels had finished. I had checked all his usual hiding spots, then Tom checked, then Jay joined the search. While she and I were looking, I checked my kitchen cabinets again and sat down--that's when I spotted him, curled behind a charcoal grey pan the same color as his fur! That's why we named him Shadow!

Later, we had the rest of the burgers and watched Mythbusters while waiting for the fireworks finale. I gave CJ a bath to clean him up from his play with gravel, dirt, and dried leaves, and the fireworks started at 8:10, 20 minutes earlier than the night before. I took CJ outside, but it was past his bedtime and he didn't like the pops, so Tom took him in to bed. The fireworks lasted almost 20 minutes, and CJ was sound asleep when we went in to check on him.

All in all, it was a fantastic day! There will be another Blue Angels show today and then the airshow ends. I'm hoping that large plane flies over our house again--I have my camera ready for it! I got lots of pictures of Blue Angels doing cool things, and although they'll likely look like little dots on the photos, I'll post them in a few weeks when I get the pictures back.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I Have a Full Network!

My friend Jay has an awesome husband!

Months ago, I was talking about getting a new computer to replace my desktop that's still running Windows ME (no longer supported by Microsoft). He works with computers and networking, and without my knowledge, he began building me a new PC out of spare parts he had lying around. Jay had to let me know the plan a few weeks ago, after my keyboard died from water spilled on it, and I was planning to buy one.

Anyway, they came over today and he set up the new PC and networked it to our laptop and printer, THEN he networked everything to the old desktop so we can move files off it and turn it into a file server. I have a full network in my house now, and I'm not sure what to do with it, but it's way cool! Before, only the internet connection was shared, and I had to save drafts with my email for file sharing. Not anymore. And he replaced my keyboard, too, which was very nice of him.

I bought them lunch at Quiznos, since it was the least I can do, and I now have new ways of wasting my time on the weekends as I get files burned, sorted, and organized. This rocks!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Giving Birth to Athena

Since I didn't answer the phone when Jenn called yesterday, I thought I'd head off the singing at the pass.

I'm sick. Tom and I were both sick with stomach bugs last weekend, then the flu hit this week. It hit Tom about midweek, and I came down with it badly yesterday, despite my best efforts at fighting it off with tea, Airborne, and some homeopathic medicine called Oscillo-something that's supposed to lessen the impact and shorten the duration of flu symptoms. It may have worked, and if it did, that's scary. I had one of the worst headaches ever yesterday taking over my entire sinus cavity. Dude. Horrible! I don't know about the 1-10 scale of pain, but this one fluctuated between "Holy Sh!t." to "F*&k me!" most of the day. Combine that with the fever hovering around 102 despite fever reducers, and I was laid low.

Today, the headache has dialed down but has me scared. The fever is under 100, but not much. I'm waiting for everything to kick in, but we'll see how today goes. Yet another exciting, relaxing weekend in our household. Thank goodness CJ seems unaffected, judging by the amount of energy he's currently exerting tossing a hat around the living room.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hooked on Crack

All week, Starbucks has been running a promotion in my workplace, providing free Doubleshots and Iced Coffee drinks (in the cans). I can't help but think of Suze and wonder if she would drink this stuff since it's free. I'm building up quite the collection. I figure they're coming in like drug dealers--get us all hooked this week and then next week, in our desperation for a fix, we'll began buying them at two bucks a pop. I could be a little paranoid, though. Getting hopped up on caffeine can do that.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thinking About 30

I've been thinking about Jenn's post and her fear of turning 30 and I'm wondering if I just got lucky or if I'm a little strange for not having freaked out too badly about that hurdle myself. Granted, I'm 31 now, so I've had time to adjust to my fourth decade of life, but it occurs to me that despite my status as wife, mother, and valued talent at work, I haven't completely grown up.

What does it say about me that:
  • The only CDs I've bought for myself in the last few years have all been Weird Al albums?
  • My last DVD purchase was a double bill of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain?
  • I love my son's game of running down the hall shouting "Eeeee!" so much that I join in, running after him and yelling the same.
  • I refuse to watch Titanic, fully convinced I'm the last person in America who hasn't seen it. Tom says I'm being stubborn, but honestly, I have no interest in seeing it.
  • I think Army of Darkness is a much better movie than Citizen Kane.
  • I still listen to music made before 1998 and prefer it to anything coming out on the radio today (except for Weird Al).
  • I'm shocked when I don't get carded for cigarettes or wine.
  • I giggle at every fart I hear and burp freely in front of my son (who tries to imitate).
  • I let my son play with his food, letting him discover what happens when chicken nuggets are dropped into a glass of water for himself. I can clean up the mess later.
  • I use CJ's crayons more often than he does. I have a whole shoe box filled with colored pencils and various types of markers for when I feel like being creative, and I can't wait till CJ is old enough for fingerpainting and modeling clay!
  • I'm way more into Blue's Clues than CJ is.
  • I still can't resist a good opportunity to retort, "Yeah, that's what she said!"
  • I can't wait for Trick and Treat this year!

Strange, deranged, or normal? Am I being dyslexic in matching my actual years to my mental state?