Category Archives: Isle of Disbelief

Supplications at the Clothesline


When I lived in the North Carolina Mountains, I had a clothesline that followed me to three houses. Part of the reason for it was because it was cheaper than using a dryer, It also was because it allowed me a few minutes of kid free solitude. We were living under the poverty line then, depending on my ex husband’s family for the roof over our heads, and what little money he brought home doing manual labor and grading work. As his work was sporadic, and he had a horrible habit of drinking up a portion of our weekly budget every month, money was tight. The clothesline allowed me to save what pennies I could.

Life was pretty hard and I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. I was frequently estranged from my parents, thanks to the ex, and my domestic situation was mortifying enough that talking about it to anyone was impossible. However I did have God. I spent to many hours at that damned clothesline pouring out my heart to heaven, pleading with God, over and over that my ex wouldn’t get drunk that day, wouldn’t do something to cause me harm, would find steady work, would just drop dead of a stroke. I did this on a regular basis until we moved to South Carolina, leaving the clothesline behind.  I did this even though I never saw a single result, got a single response,  positive or negative to all the time I poured my heart out while doing my family’s laundry.

A few years later, I finally ditched the man who had spent two decades making my life miserable. Soon after, I stopped attending church, having felt abandoned by the very faith and people that I had assumed were supposed to support me. Some where along the way, I had simply stopped praying. I don’t remember exactly when that happened, it just happened. I had reached the conclusion that I was being utterly ignored by the deity I’d been told I could rely on.

I finally had to accept that God, if such a thing existed, simply wasn’t interested or able to do anything to help me…or hurt me. If there was such a thing as deity, It and I were not on the same page, or planet or even universe. What was the hardest to wrap my head about was being OK with that utter doubt when it came to deity.

Once I came to that conclusion, Of accepting that deity may or may not exist, I found it to be a relief. I  no longer had to worry about trying to get its attention, or make it happy with my actions or even me.  Now if I could only get past the ramifications of bad religion and a bad marriage has wreaked upon my mind and body. That will happen…in time.

I miss my clothesline. I don’t miss the supplications that were ignored all the imagined gods and  only heard by birds, my cats and the odd squirrel in a nearby tree. The the simple act of hanging up or taking down a load of laundry could be a wonderful exercise in mindfulness that I found needful.  I have since discovered that being wrist deep in dirt, mulch, weeds and flowers works just as well if not better. Birds, my cat and the odd squirrel in the ancient oak in the back yard keep me company still. They just get to listen to my silence, as I concentrate on my task and put worry and life’s problems on hold.

The Revenge of Tamar


Why is the story of a woman justly getting revenge on people who caused harm and pain to her almost completely ignored by Christians?

What? You didn’t know such a terrific tale existed in Holy Scripture? It does, as do many such tale of family dysfunction other comedies of error. This story is also one of my favorites, because it is one of female empowerment, and a woman using one of the few tools available to her to ensure her future, while getting those who hurt her to pay for it.

It’s of Tamar, the daughter in law of one Judah, Son of Jacob, grandson of Abraham, the founder of one of the most screwed up families in mythology, and apparently a religion or three.

Tamar was married Er, a marriage arranged by her father-in-law for his oldest son.

A brief aside. Er? I can imagine the conversation in naming this poor guy. Wife. “What shall we name him?” Judah, fidgeting,  “Errr…” Midwife, “Er it is. Congratulations.”

According the story, he of the misfortune name didn’t live long after the nuptials. So instead of letting the widow Tamar have the choice of going home and finding a new husband, or keeping a place of honor in the family, Judah immediately passed her off to the next youngest son. The next son, Onan, knowing that any child Tamar would birth, would be the heir of Er, thus forcing Onan down the food chain of the family tree. So as a good dutiful husband, he used Tamar to the point of coitus interuptus, also known as birth control. This kept Tamar from the rights of mother to an heir, and Onan as the next in line after daddy died.  The scheme failed, as Onan died as well.  The Bible mentions that both men died, because God killed them. Er for some unnamed evil, Onan, for practicing birth control.

Judah, then sent Tamar home to her parents with the promise of her getting to try to be a brood mare again, once son number three was old enough to make the attempt to impregnate her. In reality, he was terrified that sleeping with Tamar was a death wish he didn’t want to fall on his youngest son.

Time passes, the youngest son grows up, and Judah has forgotten about his daughter in law. She hasn’t though. Tamar has been stuck in a contract she didn’t make to await a husband she didn’t want or ask for, unable to remarry, or live independently. So when Judah comes to the town where she is at, she disguises herself as a prostitute, seduces Judah, and makes sure he does the job right. As payment, she demands some personal items of Judah, in lieu of the goat he promised as collateral. Once the deed is done, she disappears. Judah’s people can’t find the “prostitute” to pay her and get his things back, and Judah really doesn’t want word out that he was tricked out of his valuable items.

A few months later, word gets out that Tamar was pregnant. Because she was still trapped in that contract, Judah called for her death…until she revealed that it was him who had done the deed. So Judah had to use his youngest sons as the wheirs to his oldest,  and Tamar got the place of honor she was supposed to have received all along. She never had to have sex with another member of that family ever again.

The moral lessons of this wonderful myth are many. 1. Dont treat women like brood mares or objects for your penis to play with. 2. Respect woman, or else it may come back to haunt you in the nads. and 3. Women are resourceful, creative and capable human beings. it’s ignored because 1. It really paints the men in the family in a really poor light. 2. A woman is the hero of the story, and the only with any hint of integrity. 3. She uses her sexuality to get her way, and to win the day.

So why is this story essentially ignored? I think it is possibly because the of thought of women using sex to get ahead in life and be the figure of moral fiber in doing so. To destroy that myth means risking destroying much of the dogma, dishonest dogma built up about our gender. Maybe it long past doing a bit of myth busting.

 

Isle of Disbelief


islandHave you ever had questions that just bugged you, after reading something, and wanted to ask someone about it? Have you ever known asking those questions was just asking for trouble?- If so, than welcome to The Heresy Zone.

I’ve been mulling this over for a long time. I no longer identify as a Christian, or even a theist, but I find religion and its threads in the social fabric. I am still involved in my church and enjoy singing in a choir. I am on a board for an interfaith group that meets a unique niche in my local community. I have some dear friends who’s religious beliefs, some Christian, some not,  have been quite helpful to me,  as they have demonstrated wisdom, compassion and understanding in ways I couldn’t help but notice and try to emulate  I also have had questions all my life, most of which I’ve had to wait until my 50’s to pull off the shelf and re-examine, or just read something and find myself going, “hmmm.” My questions on faith are of the type that would likely get me kicked out of  Sunday schools, or Bible studies, mainly because I tend to look under the script and notice things people miss…like:

What did King Saul do with all those foreskin David paid him as a bride price for Michal?…and why foreskins?

Or

How did the children of Israel and all their flock not quickly succumb to Dysentery once reaching their first oasis?

Those of course are the sillier questions. It’s the more serious ones that I’ve wondered over that, once addressed, actually guided me away from religious belief rather than closer. I just couldn’t be satisfied with scripted answers or those that seemed to avoid the question all together. The answer, “God works in mysterious ways.” has long seemed to me to be a cop-out.  As questions led me to research history, sociology and the tenets of other faiths, I discovered that I am not the only one who’s wondered, questioned, and been left dissatisfied. That has led me to really want to know how others perceive deity, faith and how we live, especially those of us who have exited theirs.

Unlike many of my atheist friends, I’m not anti-religion seeing how faith can be an apt tool for people to deal with life, and for people to work together to help each other or those in need. Like many of my atheist and theist friends, I also see how faith has too often been used as a tool of terrible pain, destruction and horror. It is in that realm where so many of my questions lie.

I’ve always felt like a religious outsider, even when I was deeply embedded as a member of the religious community. I felt like I didn’t belong, and wondered, for so long why it was so hard to truly fit in. My writings on faith here at It’s a Misfit have helped chronicle my shift in beliefs, as well as my experiences in the Christian faith. Now I’m deciding to push on, and open a new chapter. You will notice a new category of topics from the list, called Isle  of Disbelief. It is there where I will share my questions, silly, philosophical or even angry. I’ve come to believe that questioning things, being skeptical, even dubious is healthy, at least for me. Maybe you’ll join me. If not, I’ve discovered something else. Being a religious outsider isn’t all that bad, after all.