Ramblings

Usually drunken.

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No Condoms

Feb 4, 2009, 5:39 pm by Paul Stiverson

Preface: this post was inspired by a pro-life facebook note that evolved into a discussion about contraceptive education in schools. This post can be considered an expansion on a previous post.

Anytime I find myself in a civil dialog concerning abortion and unplanned pregnancy I always bring up the inadequacy of sexual education in schools, and it is always a touchy subject. I believe that when it comes to education that you must never seek to hide or alter the truth from the student, to do so keeps the student ignorant, and ultimately destroys the students’ ability to form coherent and informed opinions. Needless to say I think that sex-ed—if it is to be taught in public schools—should include common contraceptives as well as the merits of abstinence.

I’m sure the careful reader is aware that the Holy Roman Catholic Church has—historically—taken a strong stance on the use of contraceptives: latex+penis=hell (although they are starting to come around). I can appreciate their views on the subject, they believe that when blocking the chance of conception the “marriage act” (Catholic for sex) is incomplete and amoral.1 This view doesn’t stop them from trying to prevent conception thought, oh no, they came up with a strategy for doing the marriage act without having kids and without bringing down the fire and brimstone. In order to not conceive you should practice natural family planning, to do it properly you should probably invest in a pocket calendar (for the record I have no problem with that being taught in schools, as long as condoms can get equal time).

Now, in the recent past there has been quite a hubub regarding teaching kids about condom use—preferring to rely on shame and fear to keep kids safe—because of this (religious) belief. It seems to me that writing a curriculum based on some religious docorine is a pretty clear violation of the separation of church and state. In order to get around that violation they changed their tune: contraceptive talk shouldn’t be allowed because their effectiveness is sub-optimal. Well sure, the effectiveness is debatable (99.98%2 isn't quite perfect), but even the worst condom is more effective than none at all, and couple it with an oral contraceptive and the effectiveness jumps significantly. Who’s keeping track. If we want to restrict sex-ed talks to methods that are 100% effective then why don’t we teach our kids about anal sex? Probably because the church thinks it is icky.3

The time to start giving teens accurate, reliable, and unbiased information about their sexual health is now. To be completely honest though, I don’t think it should be the schools’ job, it is time for parents to step up to the plate and teach their children well.4 If it is to be taught in (public) schools then there should be no pretense regarding the morality of sex, keep it simple and give them the facts. Leave the sermons to the priests.

Notes:

  1. I’m deriving this from the document Morals and Marriage, Part IV Morality of Intercourse, from a section titled “Purity implies sex”. Not a bad read, check it out if you’ve got some time to kill.
  2. Hatcher RA et al. Contraceptive Technology, 18th rev. ed. New York: Ardent Media, 2004.
  3. For the record, it is icky. That whole section on anal sex is a joke (a reference to a great site technicalvirgin.com, which has sadly been removed), lighten up zealots.
  4. [Crosby, Stills, and Nash joke here]

Merry Holiday

Dec 25, 2008, 10:46 pm by Lew

to be young and unibrowedMerry Holiday all you good boys and girls that matter.

On Christianity

Dec 19, 2008, 4:52 pm by Paul Stiverson

I’ve considered myself a non-theist (or maybe an atheist) for quite some time now, but I was raised Christian. I had never explored the reasons why I fell from the fold until recently when I was asked seriously (by somebody who I felt deserved an honest response). There are a slew of bullshit reasons that I can give: atrocities performed in the name of Christ, my personal inability to commit to something of that magnitude, my general skepticism, the hive-mind mindset that allows injustices (and ignorance in the sciences) to be perpetuated, the fast and loose (mis)interpretation of scripture which permits the aforementioned injustices to come into existence. I could cite the passing of my father during my childhood, and bitch about the apparent lack of justice and equity in the world as evidence of the lack of a grand creator. I could note that to be a scientist you have to have an open mind—free of preconceived notions of an unseen and unmeasurable force driving the universe. I could say that I’ve never been touched by the hand of god, as so many Christians claim to have experienced. I could point to some mal-developed part of my brain that deals with the spiritual, but all those reasons are flimsy and unimportant. Ultimately I don’t think I have a legitimate reason, I am who I am.

When people discover that I’m not Christian (at least here in College Station) there is often a palpable shift in their body language, as if—since I’m not in their club—I’m suddenly an immoral person. It has always bothered me that religious folks associate morality with religion, as if god is the only thing that can stop a person from acting out all of their wildest impulses. As if god stops you from being pure id. The only thing god provides—in the arena of self-control, and in my experience—is a place to put all the regret you feel for doing whatever bad things you do, he lets you cop out of your sins, he forgives you so you can forgive yourself. The beautiful thing about not believing in god is that you have to be responsible for yourself and your actions. I don’t have the luxury of asking anybody for forgiveness other than the person I may have wronged, the regret for past transgressions has nowhere to go but toward stopping me from repeating my mistakes.

All that being said, I do think that religious teachings have a place, the Bible is an excellent document for teaching people how to live well. It tells you not to be a bastard, and illustrates past bastards who were punished for their bastardy ways. The rub is that people don’t just take away the lessons, they get all manner of byproducts that end up diluting the important lessons. Jesus’ teachings are absolutely right on, he told his followers that they needed to go further than not being bad, but indeed, to be good. Love you neighbor, don’t judge people, and that the wonder of life doesn’t reside in the material. These teachings should not be neglected, they should be celebrated and followed in their purest form. The circumstances of his life (and the afterlife in general) are insignificant compared to his words, and you don’t have to believe that Jesus was the messiah (or the son of the messiah, or anything else special)—or even believe that he actually existed—to benefit from the quality of the teachings.

I don't normally tackle the divine, but here I go anyway

Oct 7, 2008, 11:12 pm by Lew

you get two point if know why i used this graphicSomething just made me a little sad. Intelligent Design is making me a little sad. Not the idea itself but the existence of it. Intelligent Design is another name for creationism. If you believe in creationism that is your faith. Calling it intelligent design is trying to use scientific logic to justify your faith. If you have faith I think it is sad to feel you need science to justify it. That to me is what it sad. To me that is a lack of faith.

John Steinbeck is what got me thinking about this. In a few paragraphs in “Log from the Sea of Cortez” he discusses how people react to ideas that they hate. He argues that the best reaction to a new idea is to study it for complete comprehension and only then giving your views of the strengths and faults of the ideas. When someone hates an idea, they do not try to understand, they try to destroy it. This made me think about the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. 5 minutes ago I would have said I hate the idea of intelligent design. But then I tried to understand why intelligent design is out there in the first place. I do not think anyone actually loves the idea in and of itself. It is obviously a way to try to work creationism into the domain of science. It is a reaction by people of faith to the theory of evolution. If you are a person of faith you shouldn’t be scared of biological theories. If you think god is almighty and unfathomable why be scared of science? Yet enough people of faith are scared that they make a public issue out of scientific fact. They realized they cannot fight evidence based logic with faith based beliefs. So they have dressed up genesis with science. The testaments don’t command you to accrue the evidence necessary to prove the divine. The bible asks for faith. If you have faith, then have faith.

Facebook advertisements

Jun 7, 2008, 8:40 pm by Paul Stiverson

Hot Christian SinglesThe absurdity of facebook advertisements has reached astounding levels. I present the figure at right, which purports that I can meet “Hot Christian Singles” which is not (necessarily) a ridiculous notion, I’ve usually found Christian girls to be agreeable. What really stands out about this particular advertisement is the model they chose to represent the Christian single that I can supposedly meet, now I’m not claiming that this particular gal isn’t a Christian, she may very well be quite pure and pious. I’m not sure if it is the 6 months worth of tanning to achieve that level of bronze, the enormous (presumably fake) breasts, or her particular method of displaying said breasts, but she doesn’t strike me as the paradigm case of a Christian girl. Far be it from me to say that a Christian must look a certain way, but seriously, there is a limit to the level of vanity that should be displayed by the little Christs among us.

The next question has nothing to do with the picture. If you are claiming to be a Christian male shouldn’t you be seeking to look past the physical appearance of your potential lovers in order to forge a meaningful and spiritual relationship? It seems to me that looking exclusively for the “Hot” is more than a little sacrilegious.

What would Jesus do?
I’d hit it

Good Christian Raisin

Jun 16, 2007, 3:05 am by Paul Stiverson

Some of you may be familiar with a song called “Georgia on a Fast Train” by Billy Joe Shaver, well in the chorus of the song Billy says:

I’ve been to Georgia on a fast train honey
I wudn’t born no yesterday
Got a good Christian raisin’ and an eighth grade education
Ain’t no need in y’all a treatin’ me this way

Every time I hear that third line I can’t stop my mind from picturing a good Christian raisin. I drew that last night at the bar so I could get that visual stuck in their heads too.

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