Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

You Win, Religious People: God Doesn’t Love Me

I had always fancied myself quasi-religious: although I did not necessarily subscribe to all the trappings of Christianity, I did believe we were created as equals by a loving God that, although ethereal, had a palpable effect on this world through the deeds of those who upheld His values of goodness, charity, and most importantly, love. However, it has become apparent of late that perhaps my faith in the fairness and love of this God have been woefully misplaced, which is a fact that has been revealed to me thanks chiefly by those who supposedly follow His word the closest: deeply religious people.

When California’s Proposition 8, which if approved would inscribe in the state’s constitution that marriage was exclusively between a man and a woman, passed, I was saddened first because as a believer in freedom and equality, this was a stunning blow to what I deemed was the positive forward progression of civil liberties in the United States of America: California already allowed same-sex marriage, and this reversal had implications not only in that state, but also for other states that, emboldened, would inevitably be following suit in upcoming elections. I was also saddened because my fiancé and I were making tentative plans to seal our union by getting a marriage license in California (a mostly symbolic gesture, since our native state of Texas had already passed a similar proposition, thus making our marriage null and void where we live).

However, what dealt the most personally hurtful blow to this outcome was learning how it had been religious organizations (mainly the Church of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons are they are commonly known) that had not only donated heavily to the cause of passing Proposition 8, but also organized community door-to-door campaigns to spread their message. Bear in mind that this was not a massive, well-organized campaign to end world hunger, to stop the genocide happening right now in countries we do not hear of on the news because they are poor, or even to ensure that homeless people had somewhere warm to sleep this upcoming winter; no: all this money and effort spent by devout followers of Christ was to prevent the state of California from granting legal benefits to consenting adults of the same gender that wanted to prove their commitment by getting married.

I have read that their spokespeople have stated their message was not “anti-gay,” but rather “pro-marriage”: however, spending that much time and money preventing gay people from getting married belies that argument. More out-spoken detractors of same-sex marriage have protested with signs that read things like “God Hates Fags”: and you know what? For the first time in my life, I am inclined to agree. It is easy to dismiss the hateful ramblings of a few fringe zealots, of which, after all, there are in any group; however, when so many church-going, God-fearing, well-meaning religious people do what they did to make sure Proposition 8 passes, I can no longer deny what is painfully true: God does not love me.

If God did love me in spite of my homosexuality, why would the Bible, the sacred book written from His divine inspiration, be full of explicit anti-homosexual sentiment? Why would God have penned such words, if He knew that, millennia hence, they would still be used as fodder for hatred and rejection of millions of His own children? If God wanted to make it clear that homosexuals are, to His eyes, just as loved and worthy of respect as heterosexuals, why didn’t Christ make explicit statements to that effect, so that His followers would behave accordingly? The answer is clear: God wanted this to happen; this is His will.

God does not love me, and neither do His followers here on Earth. Though many claim to “love the sinner and hate the sin,” expecting me to believe that is, frankly, insulting: religious people “love” homosexuals in the same gritted-teeth, disingenuous way they “love” murderers and rapists, because not “loving” them would entail not being a good Christian. It is a contradiction to claim to love someone and at the same time fight tooth and nail to strip them of the same civil rights everyone else has (and rights they themselves briefly enjoyed), only to cause them anguish and feelings of despair. If they loved homosexuals as they claim, they would show it with deeds, not just say it with empty words.

So, religious people, you win: you have convinced me that the God I thought had created me in love, actually condemns me for who I am, and how I did not choose to be. I feel unloved, bereft, forsaken. In your quest to ensure that my legal rights are squashed, you have won an electoral victory, and lost a soul.

Somewhere, God must be smiling.

November 15, 2008 Posted by | Rant, Thinker | 22 Comments

Won’t it be embarrassing…?

When sentient beings from another galaxy finally descend upon humanity and conquer our planet, won’t it be embarrassing that, thanks to our movies and books, we’ve given them all the information necessary for them to beat us?

We’ve essentially taught them the following lessons (aliens, listen up):

  1. Make your computers use a proprietary operating system (if it’s too similar to Microsoft or MacOS, we’ll just send you a virus)
  2. Tell us you want to show us your planet, get us on your ships, and then you can cook us into tasty entrées
  3. Don’t have a mother ship that controls all the attack ships: we’ll just take the bitch out
  4. Pretend you come in peace, and we’ll all get together to greet you (where you can easily shoot us all)
  5. Don’t drink the water

Any other lessons our gray/green-skinned eventual enemies should learn so they can vanquish humanity in the future? :-D

September 3, 2006 Posted by | Just For Fun | 7 Comments

Children: blessings from God, or de– TIMMY, I TOLD YOU TO GET OFF THAT TABLE!! NOW!! 

Whenever I am in a public place, I always get the impression that parents, contrary to being happy to be with their children, seem peeved and ill-tempered.

Aren’t children supposed to be a gift from God? A blessing most sublime? I mean, how long does that honeymoon last? How long does it take to go from “She is the most beautiful baby in the whole world and I am the happiest person in the world!” to “OHMYGODWHYWON’TSHESTOPCRYING?!?!?! LORDPLEASETAKEMENOW!!!”?

Sure, you may say that we are more likely to notice someone in a bad mood than someone being loving, especially since a shouting parent is harder to miss than a quiet, loving embrace (and, if you were the one who said this to me, you can re-state it). :-) I agree that there may be some truth to this, but in today’s society I’d be more likely to notice parents being loving and sweet to their children than parents being impatient and in a bad mood, simply because I see it so seldom (plus, emotional displays are something I am quite likely to appreciate, since I scored 29/30 in the “Feeling” scale of the Myers-Briggs psychological test — which means I am always one forlorn violin solo away from bursting into tears).

So, which is it, folks? Are children, much like everything else in our lives, things we really want and when we get, the magic “wears off”? Or is there something special about children that even those parents who seem to be plotting murder are, underneath it all, actually happy to have their kids?

July 6, 2006 Posted by | Thinker | 8 Comments

If I had wanted to listen to an instrumental solo, I would’ve gone to a Yanni concert

Well, the summer concert season has finally started (for me, at least), as I went to see Huey Lewis and the News and Chicago (yes, I am an old man: now shut up and get off my lawn, young whipper-snapper!).

Anyway, attending this concert reminded me of two of my concert pet peeves: the first one is that the band inevitably never plays the one song I want them to play (regardless of how famous said song is). For instance, Huey Lewis didn’t play “If This Is It” and Chicago didn’t play “Glory of Love.” I swear to God, I could go to a Right Said Fred concert and they still wouldn’t play “I’m Too Sexy” (not that I’d go to a Right Said Fred concert, even if they weren’t currently employed, sadly, as Right Said Fred impersonators in the Hollywood Walk of Fame).

But on to my second concert pet peeve (and what prompted me to break my months-long absence from the blogosphere): long-winded instrumental solos in rock concerts. I mean, really: we get that you’re all awesome musicians, and that only the vocalist gets all the glory and all the chicks (although my favorite bands are getting so long in the tooth that nowadays the vocalist probably just gets the juicier incontinence medicine endorsements). However, do we really need to hear a 10-minute drum solo? If you’ve heard one drum solo, you’ve pretty much heard them all (actually, after hearing one minute of a drum solo, you’ve heard them all!).

How about if the audience, when purchasing the concert tickets, signs an affidavit stating that every band member is as important as the next, and that each one rocks in his own right? If we do that, could we do without the boring, lengthy and unnecessary solos? For instance, in the Chicago concert we were “treated” to a flute solo. A f-l-u-t-e solo. In a r-o-c-k concert. I’d understand that if I had gone see a concert for Yzman, Master of the Ocarina… but a rock concert?

So, where do you, ficticious reader, stand on this whole concert solo business? Is it a part of the concert experience, or is it an evil that must be eradicated with bloodshed, if necessary?

July 3, 2006 Posted by | Rant | 14 Comments

Are there are any real Christians out there?

In an earlier post I had mentioned my inability to understand how religious fanatics cannot leave personal and religious prejudices at home when they go to vote.

This reminded me of just how much these Christian zealots bother me. I would consider myself a Christian (if more in the way I conduct myself and treat others than in the dogmatic beliefs I hold to be true): I think most Christian fanatics in this country behave in a way that is so utterly un-Christian that I’d like to be right there during the Second Coming just to see them get a disapproving “tsk tsk” from Jesus Himself.

Fanatical Christians in this country do not “love their neighbor as they love themselves,” they do not “do unto others as they would like to be done unto them,” they “judge though they be judged” (OK, that last one was hard to rephrase, but you get my drift). An outsider to the faith would be hard-pressed to understand how these fanatical Christians could consider themselves to be Christians at all, and how they could possibly pretend to draw people to their faith if their most salient representatives seem to be divise hate-mongerers.

Reading the New Testament you should get a warm, fuzzy feeling about Jesus and, thus, His followers. You should feel that you would be embraced and loved by them, just like Jesus said He’d embrace and love all of us. Why isn’t this so? Why can’t these so-called Christians follow their Master’s teachings, and love everyone equally, including those they personally find unpalatable? Loving cute little kids and embracing your best friend is easy: loving and embracing those who behave in a way that is contrary to your own is what’s hard, is what separates the wheat from the chaff: it is, in fact, what should theoretically separate a Christian dilettante from someone who truly leads the life Jesus said we should lead.

To wit, I pose the following question: how would have Jesus reacted if one of His Apostles had been gay? Would He have shunned His follower, calling him a sinner, denouncing his lifestyle, ensured that he would be treated as an outcast, and if possible, have less rights as a citizen? Or would Jesus have embraced him, told him that he would be loved anyway, and furthermore told the rest of His followers that “he who is without sin cast the first stone”?

I know which one I would like to believe… but I guess everyone, including myself, writes in his or her head the version of the Bible that he or she finds more palatable.

What do you think Jesus would have done?

November 24, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A sad day…

For those of you who don’t know, Texas (my home state) was one of the states where a Constitutional amendment was being voted on this November to determine if same-sex marriages should be forbidden or not. Needless to say, it passed. It wasn’t so much that it passed, but that it passed with such an obscene majority of 76%.

I knew it would pass: I wasn’t kidding myself. What saddens me is that it passed with such vehemence, with such a mandate; that so many people either hate homosexuals, believe them to rightfully belong in a lower class of citizenry (with less rights than heterosexuals), or truly believe that two people of the same sex getting married somehow diminishes the meaning of the marriage of people of opposite genders.

Same-sex marriage was already illegal in Texas: as far as I knew, that wasn’t even being under threat of being repealed. Making this into a Constitutional amendment just seals the vault with concrete, and by writing into the state Constitution just says out loud: “We don’t want gays here in Texas” (which may very well be true, come to think of it).

What I can’t fathom is how people can’t seem to leave personal and religious prejudices at home when they go to vote: regardless of whether your church says same-sex relationships are (to quote the Bible) “abomination,” or whether you “like” homosexuals, what does that have to do with what your secular State should allow within its citizenry? What can’t more people make the distinction between what they like, and what should, fairly, be written into law? If everyone could make their pet peeves into law, believe me, no one would be able to do anything anywhere!

This is the relevant part of the amendment (you can read the full text here):

“Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”

By the way, I find it hilarious that the State cannot “recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage” because, unless basic algebra has also been repealed in the state of Texas, marriage is identical to marriage! (This means, I guess, that Texas can no longer recognize marriage, same-sex or otherwise).

I guess I’ll have to wait for a fair, level-headed pundit to explain to me yet how two people of the same gender getting married (and having all the legal benefits thereof) is an affront to our society, or how it hurts “family values.” Family values should be about unconditional love, about companionship, about caring for someone else, sometimes even at the expense of your own well-being: when someone can convince me how this can intrinsically never be the case in same-sex marriages, I’ll be the first to vote against them.

Thoughts? :-)

November 24, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Movie theaters: black hole of capitalism

My friend César had an interesting post regarding movie theater seating, which reminded me of another rant of my own (thanks, César!). :-D

I think the movie theater business is one where the laws of capitalism and supply and demand totally break down.

Think about it: every movie, regardless of how much it cost to make, regardless of who made it and how much (and how many) people want to watch it, costs exactly the same to watch at the same theater.

Let me put this another way: regardless of whether I am watching Star Wars: Heir to the Empire [not directed or touched in any way by George Lucas], Spy Kids 2: The Reckoning, Schindler’s List 2: Electric Boogaloo, or Harry Potter [insert number here], I’ll still shell out the same amount of money if I go see it at the same movie theater and at the same time of day.

Why is it that the only difference in movie ticket price is determined by the theater you go to, and the time of day (matinée or not)? Surely the investment of millions made in the creation of each movie and the amount of anticipation it creates in the viewers should be more important in price determination than whether the theater has new seats and doesn’t (yet) smell like stale popcorn.

The movie industry is the only one in which the quality (or perceived quality) of the product has no bearing on the cost to the consumer. While you may argue that a sucky play may be overpriced, and thus its price will not reflect its quality, plays are priced according to more natural capitalistic rules: tickets for Broadway plays with critical acclaim and well-known actors, for instance, will surely be more expensive than an unknown play at Coco’s Casa de Acting featuring the acting prowess of the best community college drama students.

So, faithful readers (yeah, both of you), what do you have to say on the matter?

November 24, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Heterosexual couples: Nature’s greatest practical joke?

The other day I was forced to witness a guy and a girl shamelessly flaunting their Godful lifestyle and making out in front of me, and it got me thinking: aside from their mutual desire for each other’s genitalia, what binds these two people together?

I know I am not the first person to note that men and women are very different: I won’t belabor too much the point that while women like to surround themselves with pretty (but perhaps useless) things, men pretty much like to destroy them. This is why I think it is hilarious that Nature forces these two very different creatures to be physically attracted to each other, and to eventually get married and live together for the rest of their lives (or until they get a divorce). I mean, they should by all means mate and keep the race going, of course; but after that, why don’t men just go back to their caves to play Halo all night, and women just go back to their nicely-decorated homes to paint rooms with made-up colors such as “chartreuse” and “taupe”?

Now, I realize that, like they say in Italian: “Il cuore non si commanda” (which, loosely translated, means “Rafa is a pretentious prick“). You may say that Love (capitalized for greater pompousness) is the thing that unites men and women, but it seems to me that Love has the cards stacked against it from the get-go if men’s idea of fun is watching white trash NASCAR drivers ride ad-festooned cars in a circle over and over and over, and women’s is watching a movie where everyone dies so she can have herself a good cry and then take a jojoba-scented bubble bath.

I am not saying homosexual couples have it made, of course: there are always many differences even between people of the same gender. However, I would say that, in general, between people of the same gender there will tend to be more agreement in terms of mindset, priorities, and what is considered fun (although I’m quite sure many gay men are no strangers to the cry-fest followed by a bubble bath).

So, what say you? Does coming from entirely different points of view strengthen heterosexual relationships, or are they further proof that God has a sense of humor (as exemplified by the existence of the platypus, and Him putting our balls on the outside)?

October 5, 2005 Posted by | Thinker | 6 Comments

What makes you… you?

As almost all good philosophical arguments, this one was borne out of watching TV, “Battlestar Galactica” to be precise.

For those of you who are not watching this truly awesome show (you know who you are… and shame on you!), let me recap the basics: humans created the Cylons, a race of robots meant to serve mankind. They (of course), rebelled, and turned against humanity. Here’s the twist: the Cylons created human-looking Cylons that are indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans: they look, feel and sound human, have the same biological components and behavior as humans, seem to experiment human emotions, and some of them truly believe themselves to be human.

My first question is: why would they not be considered human, then? If they experiment human emotions (whether these are part of some “software” they are programmed to run, or the result of some electrical activity in neurons), doesn’t that make them human? If they truly believe they are having these feelings, and act accordingly, how are they any different from flesh-and-blood humans?

Another plot point of the show is that there are multiple copies of the same human-looking Cylon: some of them believe themselves to be the “real one.” So, the second question that arises from this is: what makes us who we are? Is it our memories? Is it our behavior? Is it our reactions to stimuli?

For instance, let’s say you have a friend who is 25 years old; if you could travel back in time and meet him when he was 8, and discarding any physical resemblance, how could you “tell” it’s the same person? Your friend at 8 years of age has different memories, different behavior, different reactions to stimuli than your 25-year-old friend. Is there any set of tests, quantitative or even qualitative, that you could administer to his 8-year-old self, that would yield the same result if you administered it to his 25-year-old self?

Is the 8-year-old version of your friend, then, a different person? If so, when are we ever “the same person,” if we are constantly gaining new memories, and being shaped by our experiences? Are we just a continuum of ever-changing selves that travel in time, shedding our previous incarnations at every infinitesimal moment, forever destined to being ourselves for only an instant?

Ok, I think I just wore out my keyboard’s question mark: now it’s time to hear your thoughts on this matter (knowing full well, of course, that once you reply you’ll be a different person than when you started writing). :-D

August 24, 2005 Posted by | Thinker | 10 Comments

New term: “Str8jacket”

In my never-ending quest to coin a phrase (see my previous, and seemingly failed, attempt at coining the term “booger argument“), here I come again (like Whitesnake, but with less drug-induced brain damage) to introduce the term:

str8jacket: n. self-imposed constraint that prevents heterosexual men from showing emotion, feelings for anything other than sports, or affinity towards cleanliness or fashion

Case in point: the straight-man hug. Have you ever seen two heterosexual guys hug? It’s a delicious exercise in awkwardness and unintentional entertainment factor. The chests, if they touch, must be separated by the arm they keep in front of themselves; the pelvis juts out to prevent any kind of potentially sexual groin-area contact; the arm on the other guy’s back must never hold tight, but only pat the back in a pattern that, if you listen closely, seems to be Morse code for “I like poon-tang.”

Another good example is the organic impossibility of straight men of admitting they find other guys attractive because if they did I can only assume they think they’d automatically become rabid pillow-biters and would have to like flavored coffees and listen to Erasure. How is it that gay men can objectively find beauty in women, having grown up, after all, in the same society and having the same “ideals” of beauty reinforced throughout their lives, while straight men are unable to?

At least now there is this concept of “metrosexuality” (whose origin and etymology I find somewhat mysterious), which is some modern men’s outlet for expressing their appreciation for cleanliness, fashion and grooming without having people assume that they watch baseball just for the tight uniforms. Metrosexual men have truly broken free of their str8jackets (more likely than not to further confuse most gay men’s gaydar)!

Anyhoo, if any of you can think of other examples of men confined to their str8jackets, please post them! :-D

PS. I spelled it “str8jacket” instead of “straightjacket” because:

(a) It’s shorter and I’m lazy, damnit
(b) It can be considered “l337″ and thus, immediately cooler to geeks, and I’m a geek, damnit
(c) I felt like it, and it’s my blog, damnit

August 24, 2005 Posted by | New term | 3 Comments

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