Thursday, August 14, 2008

Still a misfit after all these years

My defunct Geocities website mentioned that I am a social misfit, and I guess I still am. I don't fit neatly into any categories.

I have no religion, yet I do believe in a soul, because I feel it in me and other people every day. I'm an outsider, fascinated by people who do have faith and conviction, even when others regard them as crazy or foolish, like Arthur Conan Doyle and Margery Kempe. It's sort of like Alanis Morissette's line in "All I Really Want": "I am fascinated by the spiritual man/I'm humbled by his humble nature." It may be why I was initially drawn to stories matching up Sherlock Holmes with religious women, such as Laurie R. King's Beekeeper stories, and why I wrote Helen Stoner as a deeply Christian woman in my fanfic novel (still unfinished).

Yet I can also identify with Harry Houdini, Doyle's friend, who often exposed psychics and Spiritualist mediums. He was a skeptic trying to save people from manipulative scams; he was a truthseeker, and that appeals to the scientist in me. I also like the idea of Thomas Jefferson's version of the Bible, cutting out mythological, magical stuff about Jesus, for the moral and ethical teachings. (But clearly he could stand to practice his own morals better when it came to his slaves.)

I believe in the principles from the Age of Enlightenment. I believe in the separation of church and state, and I particularly hate the canards used to justify prayer in school or teaching intelligent design, yet when I lurked on atheist websites, I found the commenters scoffing at all forms of religion. Making no distinction between harmful cults like those polygamy sects, and ancient, mainstream religions like Islam. It's all the same to them, useless superstition that brainwashes people. For some reason I expected religious tolerance from them, an attitude that everyone should be free to believe what they wish in private, and in public we should support Muslims who say that their religion is peaceful; it's just the fundamentalist radicals that use it for evil ends, in much the same way that Christianity has been used by evil people to justify wars, the Spanish inquisition, homophobia, etc.

Personally I only object to the repressiveness and cultural influence of organized religion, not to any individual person's desire to find higher meaning in the universe. There IS a usefulness for hope and prayer and spirituality. I think of Melissa Etheridge's song "Silent Legacy" where she can both deride the homophobia based on "some man and myth they made up a thousand years ago" yet still speak of the protagonist praying for help and escape. And when religion is used by good people for truly charitable ends, it's wonderful. Which I guess is why I'm going to shrug off Barack Obama's support for faith-based initiatives, as being based on the good works of his church in his community.

And speaking of politics, I'm a liberal Democrat, and have lurked at progressive blogs like Daily Kos and the Huffington Post, but I find that I don't fit in there either. Huffington's tacky entertainment news is taking over their homepage. Daily Kos people are great activists, but are sometimes hysterical in their outrage, and can turn on you viciously, as they did when Obama appeared on Fox News, and made other compromises (even though Obama's whole philosophy is bipartisan compromise). And they'll accuse dissenters and apologists of being mindless cultists for Obama, the very thing that right-wingers accuse any Democrat of. Daily Kos also has a community ratings system, and yet a recent post about bank failures somehow got highly recommended despite the author melodramatically advising people to withdraw all their money and put it under the mattress, instead of something more reasonable, like putting it into credit unions that aren't so at risk.

Stuff like this makes me roll my eyes and wonder whether I'm such a freak that nobody caters liberal news to me. Even though I hate the non-news that I'm forced to see on the cable channel at work, I almost can't stand to seek out real news on the web, because I'm tired of being outraged all the time. Anyway, I think I'm rambling too much. What you guys really want is to see me post some of my fanfic, right? Okay, let me get to it.

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