Monday, June 25, 2007

alli? more like foe

Thanks to my dear friend Lorri for sending me to where I proceded to laugh my ass off at his discussion of the "treatment effects" of the new diet pill, alli. Apparently, and I kid you not, alli helps you lose weight by negative reinforcement; ie, if you eat fatty foods, you fart oil or, if you're really lucky, completely crap your pants. Yep, that's some "treatment effect."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Boot Camp for God

On the last leg of our drive home from the Midwest, we rolled the windows down. The soft breeze lifted the evening heat, filling the car with the sense of summer and the soft sounds of traffic and birdsong. I lazily laid my head on the window frame, staring out at our town. M. broke my reverie and pointed to a huge banner framing the entry to a local church: "Army Adventure Camp! It's fun to be in the army of the Son!"

Welcome home, y'all.

My mind immediately flew to the idea of Jesus Camp (which, if you haven't seen, is well worth viewing simply for the shock value of seeing kids in camo waving flags for Jesus, as well as the priceless shots of Ted Haggard before his meth and homosexuality scandal broke and he fell from grace). Still, most publishers have website teasers for their VBS curriculum, so I thought I'd investigate this Army of God propaganda, er, theme.

Apparently this theme goes under several titles, from "Army of God" (hopefully not to be mistaken with the ultra right wing terrorist group, Army of God) to "Army Adventure Camp," and, as near as I can tell, is published by Walk by Faith Press ( which try as I might, would not load. Awww. I had to read examples on another site, which sums up the program thus: "Army Adventure Camp will train, prepare, and equip your soldiers to stand firm in their faith and fight the good fight in the battle against sin."

Gee, it's good to know that the innocents of our community are being brainwashed in some kind of pseudo boot camp of religious dogma.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Dream of Losing Teeth: on your wrist

Okay, ya'll... just wanted to put in a plug for a very dear friend who makes amazing jewelry. The stuff is all handmade, with meticulous care in each piece (as well as a hefty dose of wit).

Check out the lovelies here: nonferrous.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

If bad things happen, you deserve it?

Over morning coffee this morning, I read this in the opinion page:

"When I battled breast cancer, I was frequently told that God would not take a person as good and loving as I. It might be a nice thing to believe: I was a churchgoer. I'd worked in a soup kitchen, collected for Toys for Tots. I was not Mother Teresa, but then virtue doesn't make one immortal; Mother Teresa died, just like everyone else."
Washington Post

Shaddox's column reiterates and retaliates against a popular thought process that is truly one of my pet peeves. Essentially, the thought process goes like this: if you think positive/write it down/visualize it/confess it/pray for it/believe it, it WILL happen! This pervasive belief is perpetuated by fundamentalists and new agers alike, and by many a well meaning person who doesn't seem to see the elements of hocus pocus within their philosophy.

One person told me that, "It's not like God is a candy machine, but if you ask him for specific things and pray vigilantly, he will answer your prayer. It says so in the Bible!" This particular person was praying for shoes for her daughter. I guess I just don't understand prayer in that way. To me, prayer is not about receiving material goods. The inverse of this "good things happen to good people" is that if you are poor,sick, or struggling, it is your own fault for not being a good enough Christian.

When my mom was dying of cancer, several people implied that she must have internalized pain or unresolved stress and brought it on herself. One person gave her a book on how she could heal herself, if she just tried hard enough (the implication being that it's your own damn fault if you die). I guess these callous jerks were trying to compartmentalize her pain into a cause and effect situation so that they could fool themselves into believing that somehow they themselves would never be in her place. If cancer is preventable by diet, meditation, regular checkups, etc, then somehow we feel like the great question mark is lifted--we have ensured our safety, our longevity. No one wants to admit that no amount of broccoli or positive thinking can keep you from cancer. We don't always know why people get incurable diseases. We can't wrap ourselves in a protective bubble and eliminate risk from our lives.

I'm not discrediting the power of positive thinking. It is essential to try to view our lives with a measure of possibility and hope. I'm certainly not advocating that we not try to envision success or happiness in our lives, but I think that when we forget that our attitude is that: an attitude, and not a magic bullet for all that ails our lives, we lose sight of the complexity of the human experience. Often, bad things are not avoidable or punishment for our lack of some prescribed behavior. They are simply bad things.