Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today in religious insanity...

A couple of well worth noting dispatches on the topic of religion.

The New York Times (via LG&M) looks at a 'Father-Daughter Purity Ball', where daughters pledge to remain virgins until marriage and fathers pledge to help them:

after dessert, the 63 men stood and read aloud a covenant “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

"Purity." A nice concept when it comes to some contexts (say, beer), but a disturbing concept when applied to women, defined solely by their sexuality and enforced by men.

And, apparently, it's not even a very useful notion, overall:

Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy. But studies have also shown that most teenagers who say they will remain abstinent, like those at the ball, end up having sex before marriage, and they are far less likely to use condoms than their peers.

Here's a picture from the ceremony:

(Ballerinas carried a 7-foot wooden cross into the ballroom at the Broadmoor. Photo: Kevin Moloney for The New York Times.)

No, the cross is not on fire, it just looks that way. But that and other images are plenty unsettling. I have to agree with Bean: "This whole phenomenon, of girls getting all dolled up to dance with their dads and swear their purity is just flat-out creepy."

Speaking of creepy...

...and taking us right into the realm of the fucking disturbed, Stephen Green is introduced to us by Francis Sedgemore, who does a great service in bringing our attention (especially those of us without easy access to British television) to this very special person.

Stephen Green, leader of the fundamentalist lobby group and rent-a-mob “Christian Voice”, has on pre-watershed TV this evening said that there will be civil war in the UK, with Christians taking up arms against our “nation in pain”’s Muslim population.

I hadn't heard of Green before, and I'm glad that I do now. Someone to keep an eye on, definitely.

In an updated version of his blog post, Francis points us to YouTube versions of the "Dispatches" documentary in question, "In the Name of God".

I've only watched part one so far (also embedded below).

And a disturbing little 10 minutes it was indeed.

You'll note--because it's impossible not to--the berserk obsession with homosexuality and the demented certainty that most of the people interviewed seem to have that the whole universe exists as a kind of background to their personal drama of faith.

Prepare to be sickened.

The obsession with homosexuality is, of course, nothing new. Dale has been keeping tabs on this issue, and, indeed, by one measurement it seems to be nearly the single issue that some conservatives care about.

That one chap named John seems very...disturbed. And certainly very certain about things for which there is no proof.

Another shining moment is when a teacher at an 'independent school' tells children that thanks to Jesus we don't need to fear turning into pillars of salt when we sin ('Which really, really, really happened in the Old Testament').

What a cow.

(I was also not aware that Jesus had so much time to act as a kind of personal spell-checker. That is certainly handy, and a benefit of faith that I admit I had not considered.)

And the 'science' teaching at the school will make you want to vomit.

The other episodes are available here: part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

Happy viewing.


Geoff Coupe said...

Thanks John. I really needed that; like a hole in the head. Honestly, it makes me fear for the collective sanity of our species. After doses of stuff like that I really wonder how much longer we've got before we get the Darwin award for homo sapiens as a whole.

J. Carter Wood said...

No problem, Geoff, that's what I'm here for: spreading good will and optimism....

Yes, I'm not really sure how to react to stupidity of that scale. My brain kind of seizes up, since I can't see how that works, how people can actually think that way.

Such movements are relatively small in Europe (compared to the US) but worth keeping tabs on.

Thanks for stopping by; it's always nice to hear from you.

I've very much liked the photos at your site recently, by the way.

The Wife said...

I tend to view fundamentalist Christians from a purely aesthetic angle (angel?). Sadly, they always fail to pass muster.

No style, no respect!

Dale said...

Oh dear gawd. I'm more or less used to this garbage in the USA -- it's just part of the background noise.

I hope it stays on the fringe in England. I would like to believe that anti-intellectualism (that's the nicest word I can manage for it) in England isn't strong or deep enough to sustain this.


The Wife said...

Interesting formulation, "to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.”

Is this meant in the William Blackstone sense of "coverture" - i.e. the "merger" of a woman's legal status with that of her husband in marriage (which essentially amounted to her abandonment of her legal status)?

Makes this whole sick _Eyes Wide Shut_ ceremony seen even more creepily incestuous.