Friday, February 15, 2008

Trying to be nice

So I just had the Jehovah's Witnesses here. We had a polite conversation for about 45 minutes (with me doing about 90% of the talking). A very nice couple of guys, polite and respectful. I was right upfront about (at least) being a philosophically-minded atheist (although I... er... didn't play up... the rudeness and contempt I often employ on the blog).

I have a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for the JWs. For all their weird beliefs, they typically stay the hell out of politics. I'm not at all thrilled with no blood transfusions for their children, but by and large I get along with them all right.

I gave them my email address. We'll see how things shape up.

I'm also commenting on Rob Singleton's blog. I don't usually read, much less comment on, Christian blogs, especially not conservative evangelical blogs, but he linked to me for Blogroll Amnesty Day. I figure if he's going to go out of his way to solicit my attention, I might as well participate.

I don't have high hopes: I've not had good experiences in the past. But, every once in a while, I give the whole project another go-around.

We'll see how it goes. I'll be nice as long as I can, although I tend to react rudely when people lie to me.


  1. Indeed, the JW's are one of the few religious cults who actually practice what they preach. I think they're kooky as hell, but JW's have gone to jail for refusing to serve in the military (any military -- U.S., German, whatever), and as you say their no-politics at least keeps them off of school boards and shit where they could fuck up my children the same way they fuck up their own.

    That said, I do tend to answer the door when JW's come knocking with my black cat draped across my shoulders, listen politely for a while, then turn to my cat and say something to the cat like, "what's that, my dearie? Oh I agree" and then turn back to the JW's. Who at that point start looking rather pale and slowly back away :-).

    - Badtux the Playful Penguin

  2. Back in the old days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a young man, I lived in a Pagan hippie crash pad in Orkland (Land of Orcs and Spiritual Surprises) with my roommate Stephan, the Mad Pagan Monk (and whatever human detritus had floated to our shores that day).

    The Jehovah's witnesses came by once (precisely once). The front room (kitchen) was pretty straight looking, and we listened to their spiel politely. After a while, we invited them into the back room, festooned with pagan symbols, the complete works of Aleister Crowley, and a pagan altar complete with an 18" razor-sharp athame (ceremonial dagger).

    Perhaps surprisingly, they quickly remembered that they had an urgent appointment elsewhere.

  3. I realize this post is not about the pros or cons of abortion but Senator McCain’s opposition to “a woman’s right to choose.” It is that “fundamental right” that I would like to address.

    I am a woman who sixteen and one-half years ago had that right and exercised it when I found myself faced with an unplanned pregnancy. An abortion was not my first thought. The father told me he was not going to marry me, but that he would pay for an abortion. I did not believe in abortion and yet I had one.

    I do not know the doctor’s name, although I still remember the name of the abortion clinic. Everyone knew where it was. Some of the details are fuzzy. One thing I remember clearly, though, even after all these years, is the searing pain as the doctor anesthetized my uterus. I was given six shots, each of which felt like a hot poker being stuck inside of me. I screamed as the nurse held me because I could not stay still from the pain. When the torture that was the anesthesia had finally ended, I remember hearing the sound. It sounded just like what it was, a vacuum. That part did not take very long. As the doctor finished, the nurse gave me a shot in my upper arm. I have not idea what it was for. She said I could relax because it was over. Relief? Yes, I felt relief…relief that the torture had ended. I was told they would need to examine the “contents,” and that I should lie there while they did this and someone would be back for me.

    I have no idea how long I laid there. I remember when the nurse came back, she told me they could not find anything that looked like “it,” and there was a possibility that I would have to come back in a few weeks and have the procedure done again. Thankfully, going through this torturous procedure a second time was unnecessary. That was not the end, however. It was only the beginning.

    I can tell you as one who speaks from personal experience that there IS such a thing as Post Abortion Syndrome. I suffered from it for twelve long, agonizing years, and it nearly destroyed me and my marriage right along with it. Year after year, I lived with the decision I had made. I wondered about the child I had aborted. I thought about how old it would be if I had chosen to let it live. I wondered if I would have had the daughter for which I had always longed. I was filled with loathing, disgust, and hatred for myself.

    I tried therapy, anti-anxiety medication, and anti-depressants. While the medication and therapy helped some, it could not take away the utter self-hatred I carried for what I had done. Only God could do that, and thankfully, twelve painful years after the fact, I allowed Him to take away the SELF-condemnation. I am free of that choice I made some sixteen years ago, but there are many women who still are not. Only now am I becoming aware of just how many women are out there who are still suffering as I suffered previously. And God is calling me to help them find the healing that I have found.

    The right to choose. I wish I had not had it. I wish it had not been an option. I do not know what I would have done instead, but whatever decision I would have made, at least my child would be alive. And the daughter I now have would have that sibling for which she so desperately longs. One day, I will have to tell her about that sibling, for it would have been her full-blooded brother or sister. You see, the father of my aborted child, who told me when we discovered I was pregnant that he would not marry me, has been my husband for fifteen years.

  4. Ms. Wells,

    I'm sincerely sorry for the suffering you experienced during your abortion.

    Millions of women have had abortions; some have had very bad experiences, some have been relieved and grateful.

    I cannot imagine what it's like to undergo such a procedure. But for that very reason, I'm unable to dictate to any woman how she must respond to her pregnancy. I would condemn just as strongly the notion that any woman should be forced to have an abortion.

    As much as I would like, I cannot erase or meliorate all the world's pain. I believe you are free to speak out and tell people about your experience, but I believe I must allow everyone to make their own decisions in matters such as these according to their own conscience. I do not believe I have the wisdom to make such a personal decision for anyone else.

    I do not, as you're probably aware, believe in any sort of God. But if there were a just and loving God, it must be the case that such a God must speak equally to every person through the agency of their own conscience. God or no God, I must grant considerable respect to that individual conscience.

    You appear to consider your decision to have an abortion unwise. That's your own evaluation to make. But I firmly believe that the highest value is human liberty, and that I do not have the wisdom, the power, or the right, to take away another's liberty merely because I think their decision was merely unwise. Folly is bad, but tyranny is worse.

    Counsel and advise others as your conscience dictates, but you take away far more than just their own suffering when you try to force others' choices.

  5. My wife and I have sex now and then, and quite often we practise withdrawing the penis before ejaculation. This act has possibly curtailed dozens of human lives from existing. We don't spend our lives wondering what life would have been like if we never used contraception. I'm sure abortion is a different issue, but it doesn't pay to dwell in 'could haves.

    I'd bet this abortion story has been cut and pasted into many an atheist blog combox.

  6. I'd bet this abortion story has been cut and pasted into many an atheist blog combox.

    Possibly. But I'm trying (hard) to be nice here, so I'll take this one seriously.

  7. Thank you for being nice and taking it seriously and for your comments.

    No, it has not been cut and pasted into many an athiest's blog. I just typed it last night, actually. To be perfectly honest, I have never visited an athiest's blog before. I followed a link from Rob Singleton's blog. After reading your comments on his blog, I was interested to see what you had to say on your own blog.

    Again, I do appreciate your response.


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