Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism


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Oh God, where art thou?

I’ve been a bit depressed lately. I know we can’t find out truth about God in this life. I’ve given up upon this a while ago. But it would help me to know that there is a God or at least something.

I really admire the way atheists can deal with life. Life is a journey, there is no judgement, enjoy it while you can cause once the light is out, it’s really out. Nothingness. Darkness. The end. And the audience gets up, wipes the last pieces of popcorn off their clothes and leaves. That was a nice movie, they’ll say. What was it about? Forgotten before we reach home. Who cares, there’s many other movies to watch.

If that is true then I have wasted my life. Or at least parts of it. There is nobody who wants my best, who makes sure I do all the things I need to do before I die. I might get hit by a bus tomorrow and that’s that.

Time is worthless if there is eternity. If time is an endless resource, like in the world of fundamentalism, then you needn’t worry about what you’re doing with it. Sure, there’s only one lifetime so you’re doing something you like and make sure you’re not going to hell, but at the end of it you’ll go to super paradise-heaven land where Jesus plays football with the boys and goes shopping with the girls all day long, at the same time. He’s just cool like that.

What if that’s not true? What if my time is limited? Here’s an easy market law: If a good is limited, price will increase. And suddenly, my time is worth something. I can waste it, or I can put it to use and do something I find my time worth spending on. Whenever I think of this I feel like my parents owe me. Big time. Why’d they waste my time when I would’ve prefered spending it on something else?

I might seem like a calm person but I’m constantly afraid. Where’d I put my time? It’s running through my fingers like water, dripping on thirsty ground. There’s nothing I can do to get it back. Sometimes I want to scream, at my family, my friends, at my readers, at random people on the street: “DO SOMETHING! Time is short! Do something with it! You’re wasting!”

I look back at the time spent and I have nothing left. My time wasn’t put to a good purpose. I have nothing. I didn’t make money, I didn’t learn anything useful, I didn’t make friends for life, nothing. All that I have is a bunch of memories in my brain, and once my time is over they’ll rot away with the rest. Forgotten for eternity. Who will remember me?

My aunt has an old family album. Some photos in it are as old  as 100, 110 years. I look at them, I look at strangers, looking into their blank stare. Who are these people, I ask. That’s your great-grandmother and her sister. That’s an uncle of your great-grandfather. That’s another person you’re related to. I stare at them and I know they’re part of my past, part of my life. Because of them, I exist. And that shames me deeply – I don’t know them. They are forgotten, shadows in the past, and if it wasn’t for that one picture they took (and probably spent a lot of money on), nobody would even know they existed.

Vanishing as if they’d never been there. That is my fate, and yours too, if there is no God.

I know it doesn’t make much sense to believe in something supernatural. But it’s the only thing that calms my mind. And the question of what I should do with this box of life, broken open already, becomes less torturing.

The one thing I cling to in such moments is something I read a long time ago:

Animals in the deep-sea have no eyes because there is no light to see. If we lived in utter and complete dark, if there was no light at all in the universe, we wouldn’t have eyes either. Would we know about light and dark? Certainly not. The ability to even imagine the possibility of light and darkness is based upon the fact that we have eyes. If we can wonder if there is a God or not, doesn’t that mean that there must be something at least remotely similar?

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P/QF: How can I make friends/family realize what they’re getting into?

I’m not quite sure how to tackle this subject. I read a lot of comments and emails, on my blog as well as others, asking what to do when a friend/family member/somebody in your community starts showing signs of moving towards radical christian movements.

I’ve been thinking about different ways how to answer this question and I really can’t come up with a satisfying idea. Every person and family is different and I think it depends a lot on the history of that person/family how much they’ll be attracted to the different movements. For a start I’ll describe what really made ME realize I was on the wrong track.

Right at the beginning I want to say that theological reasoning does not help in any way. They’re all muddy to say the least. You say evolution is a fact – they’ll ask “Why would God lie to me on the first page of his infallible word?”. You say you must interpret passages in the bible, they say it’s the actual, literal word of God. You see where I’m going with this. Don’t even get into fights like this because they will make you look like you’re not only against God or the bible but also against the specific person you’re talking to. They might still talk to you in order to convert you, to make you see the light, but they won’t change their opinions based on what you’re telling them about God and the bible. Worst case they’ll just cut contact with you and you’ll blow all your chances to help them out of it.

A good first step would be to find out why this person or family is eyeing with the movement. Has there been some sort of tragedy in the family such as the death of a loved person, or maybe a case of rape or long-term unemployment? Really anything that can make a person depressed can trigger an attraction towards radical movements. Or has the person simply had a bad history? Lots of love lost? Decisions made that turned out badly? Or simply missed out on chances that person thinks if he or she took it, their life would be better? Try to carefully investigate to understand where they’re coming from. It could simply be the case that a person or a member of a family has some sort of psychological disorder, in that case you can’t really do much but carefully try to push that person towards professionals. In case of some sort of trauma, you might be able to talk to them. You have to gain their trust and live as an example that radical faith is not necessary to be a loving person. Show them you truly care, help them out, talk to them, listen to them. They really need to open up to you in order for this to work. And unfortunately that’s not always the case.

If you don’t have those strong connections to said person maybe talk to someone who’s close to them, someone you can trust will not go and gossip about how you mess with other people’s business.

I can honestly say that without the fact that I got into a courtship I didn’t want to be in, at a point in my life where I didn’t feel ready opened my mind up to that type of work. The people who made me realize and say out loud that I didn’t want this sort of life didn’t talk bad about my family or my beliefs. They urged me to listen to my heart and mind and to investigate whether the decision I was making (or that was made for me) really felt like the right path for me. They didn’t cut me off, they were there for me with love and compassion and even when I fell back into very radical behaviour encouraged me and kept my mind working on my problem. They showed me that happiness, love and a good life are possible without radical behaviour and that God doesn’t abandon people who don’t follow this set of rules made by people like Bill Gothard and supported by communities such as Vision forum. They showed me, in my case particularly, that you don’t have to be a “feminist” (in the sense fundamentalists use it) to be a free woman. They showed me that there were many women in the bible and in history who followed God’s wish for women without being married off to a guy they didn’t want to marry. They showed me how normal relationships work, not by telling me but by living it. That a marriage very well can be happy without the wife being as submissive as a door mat.

If you know a person who is already in the movement and you see things happening that you think are bad – such as abuse, forced courtship/betrothal, and overall strange behaviour – you should investigate as well. Why is this family so radical? Please remember that, if your church community is a mixed groups of different strengths of faith, it’s not that bad yet. The very abusive, hardcore families tend to leave “normal” conservative churches and form up new private church groups, consisting of only like-minded families and meeting up for service at home. That’s the point where they are so cut off every other community that you have no chance to get into real contact with them anymore. Though this isn’t true for all fundamentalist families, it was something I saw happening in my own family as well as others. We used to go to different conservative churches when I was younger, but the worse it got, the more we lived in our own world. We met up with like-minded families only, the fathers leading private service. I think this was partially due to the fact that the girls in my family (me and my sisters) got older and my Dad was more and more nervous that our purity would be damaged through the contact with other families and kids our age, especially boys and men. As long as they are in your church (and you’re a sane person going to a normal church!), you still got chances to build up some sort of contact.

Again, do not get into theological arguments here. Don’t tell them that this isn’t how this church works and what it stands for. Encourage them to stay! Say things like “You’re a great addition to our community” or “I love exchanging ideas and views with you!”. Gain their trust and respect because that’s the only way your word will have some sort of meaning to them. If your pastor is against this sort of radical religion and abuse, talk to him. Tell him you’re worried, but you don’t want to drive those people away. Initiate meetings and groups where you can talk about the different views and teachings. Again, be very careful with this one. Don’t talk about how teachings are ungodly or unbiblical, that’s muddy and won’t make things better. Instead, you should talk about teachings matter-of-factly. Discuss them. Pick out what’s good about the teachings, question the problems, ask for their opinions before you word out a strong opinion of yourself.

Something that will most likely find open ears is beating the teachings with biblical reasoning. That’s actually very easy. Talk about the danger of idolizing leaders like Bill G and the Pearls. Talk about how you have a big problem with the Pearls comparing kids to animals and that you find Jesus would be strongly against such a view. They are children of God, not mules. They can’t be treated as such. Talk about how Harris and Ludy plant ideas into girl’s minds without a real biblical foundation (because in fact, they have none). Talk about how girls read their books more often than they read their bible. Question this behaviour. Really, your strongest argument in this case is that many of the teachings and people are idolized above the bible. They might argue against it to your face but it will get them thinking.

When you’re at a point where you think they’re trying to cut you off, trying to move away from the community they were in, don’t let them shake you off. Back off for a while with discussions of faith and teachings, but be their friend. Help them, be there for them, ask their advice. Tell them how you solved problems. Even if they don’t call you anymore, you call them. Don’t let them hide in their own little world because I can promise you, it’s going to be hell for some of them.

Beliefs are generally a very hard and problematic issue and even if you did everything, your best, to help them and get them out of the muddy waters of radical religion you might still fail. That’s always sad and there isn’t really much you can do anymore in that case except have a clear consciousness that you have tried everything you could. And at the end of the day, that might be worth just as much, at least for you.

And at this point I want to translate a quote I found true, not only for this sort of situation but as a general things in life: “We thought we could do it all. We thought with love it was possible. But sometimes you just don’t make it.”


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The sin within us

I have always struggled with christian teachings of sin. Namely, with original sin. I thought it was unfair that God would let us all suffer for a sin that we aren’t guilty of. And yet, in christian belief, we are born sinful beings.

The teachings of sin in Christianity lead to a whole rat-tail of behaviour. Among them is the child abuse the Pearl’s teach. Being born a sinful being means that babies are not pure. They are hunks of meat full of original sin and the parent’s job is to teach them morals and values that they naturally do not possess. “Negative” or “annoying” behaviour in children therefore is not – or only partially – caused by the parents, mainly it is due to their sinful nature. Cleansing this sinful nature to a point where it can be controlled by the child at an older age is the goal of christian parenting via the Pearls. You must make the baby/kid understand that it is evil and bad and that only belief in Jesus as well as strict discipline can limit this sinful nature to a degree where you can actually find salvation. Though they acknowledge the fact that we’re all sinners and will always sin, discipline is the first and foremost way to cage this sin so that a logical, moral way of thinking becomes possible for the person in the first place.

Being born in sin every act of so-called selfishness is due to unlimited freedom of the sin within the young child. If it doesn’t want to share his or her toys, it’s not because that’s a phase or because the child might be afraid to lose its dear possession, it’s due to the sinful urges of selfishness, putting self in the first place with the others and God following behind. Practically a child can be punished for pretty much everything that doesn’t suit the parents in some way and hence leaves the door wide open for domestic abuse.

As a matter of fact the belief of original sin doesn’t exist this way in Judaism. There, babies are born without sin, pure beings. They are corrupted only by their own sin, not by any other. Thought the “seed of evil” exists in every person, brought into the world by Adam and Eve, it’s not the same. Adam caused death and pain in a material way but did not destroy or corrupt the pureness and goodness of every human soul and therefore sin isn’t a pre-existing condition in a human being but an acquired disease if you will.

Why does that make a difference? Because when a child cries at night to be fed, some fundamentalist christian leaders actually recommend not to follow the child’s pleading, as it is sinful, the child wants to control the parents and gain authority over them (three months olds are really mean snakes to some people…). They recommend putting the babies on a feeding schedule that suits the parent’s needs, not the child’s. Funny enough, that isn’t selfish behaviour by the parents.

And then again, we have the Muslims, very closely related to the jews and christians, and they too do not believe in original sin. There, too, a baby is born without sin, pure and good.

I’ve been wondering where this belief in original sin comes from. The jews didn’t believe in it, so it must be something the christians came up with. Maybe at some point, some people got it all wrong and wrote down wrong dogmas?

I know that the teachings on original sin vary even within the christian denominations. I don’t want to go around generalizing christians, I want to point out the very screwed up beliefs among some groups and movements, where a child isn’t born as a little lamb but as an almost demonic animal, wanting to control everybody around; self-centered and wicked. As an example I want to point your attention to an article by Libby Anne. The child in this story obviously isn’t old enough for a reflected decision and simply acts as some children would in certain phases for various reasons. It is being treated as if it was an evil demon, hungry for control and sin. It just reminds me of my own upbringing, where everything a child did was full of sin and evil if it didn’t suit our parent’s wishes. We were born evil, sinful by nature – and in our family, that lead to a whole lot of abuse.


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Hopes, dreams and age

I’ll make a confession: I actually found the first grey hairs about 6 months ago. I put some color on to hide the fact that I’m turning grey as a donkey before I hit 25. When the color grows out about half an inch I start seeing the greyish hair again… Annoys me. I think aging with grace is a beautiful thing but I feel much to young for that at the moment!

Enigma posted about her birthday and that got me thinking. Aging is, in fact, something beautiful. I’m glad I’m not a kid anymore. I hope in 5, 10, 50 years I can look back and say “I’m glad I’m not 20 anymore!”. I think wrinkled skin has something beautiful about it and so does grey hair.

Our struggles, problems and lessons learned leave marks on our bodies, wrinkles, scars, a grey hair here and there. Having many of them is like a badge of experience. A medal of sorts.

I admire people who can tell stories about their lives. I remember listening to my mom telling us stories of her childhood in Europe. The picture she painted was vivid and exciting and whenever we sat down on cold evening to listen to her stories and sip hot chocolate the air smelled of old, long-lost times.

Living in Europe I have the chance to visit a lot of really old places and ruins. I love ruins and old houses. There’s a castle nearby which was built around 1100. I sometimes go there just to sit in the ruins and wonder who lived there and what happened there. I imagine scenes of medieval markets, kids playing games we forgot about. Scenes full of detail, like a girl and a boy secretly flirting in one corner, a little boy stealing some sweet bakery goods, a big woman slaughtering geese and so on. When I touch the stones I can’t help but wonder who else touched them, why they touched that stone and how their life went on.

And sometimes I wonder if, in 200 years, somebody else will come along and sit there wondering the same. Will he picture me sitting there, wondering why I was there? Will he wonder how I spent that day, week, the rest of my life?

I know for sure I ask these questions about myself, but that just makes me angry. Growing up I had such a secure vision of what my life would be like, obviously shaped by the teachings and beliefs I grew up with. I might have had interest in worldly jobs and careers, but I was sure I’d be married to a great man, he his help-meet, a housewife and mother. I was so sure that was my calling. And to be honest, that’s not the worst thing that can happen to anybody. A family should be a beautiful and fulfilling experience and if you can achieve that, what better purpose could you possibly put your life into?

I’m not talking the fundamentalist vision here. As a teen I had already dreamed of a rather secular version of family, where I could make decisions and not be under the authority of my husband but rather an equal partner with my own strengths. I wished for a man who would ask my advice and needed my support. And yes, I wished that he was a man who could cry and despair and then seek my comfort and strength, not suppress his emotions and act big and strong just for the sake of it.

When I left the movements I took these dreams with me in a little box, neatly folded up and hidden. I felt that I needed to change all my being and those dreams were not part of my new, worldly self. They couldn’t possibly be, after all one of the major reasons why I left was the fact that I did NOT want to get married – yet.

Just recently I realized how strong my longing for a family of my own is. Of course, not now, not at all cost. I want to settle things in my life and build something of my own before I even consider dating anybody. Call me nuts but I know that, for example, alcoholics are counseled not to start dating while recovering. I think that’s good advice for anybody who wants to break habits, change lifestyles, get out of depression or addiction. I still don’t want to stay dumb and muted like I was supposed to be. I want to educate myself so that I can go out and make my own money and support my husband and kids if need be.

A few months ago one of my friends, Daniel, visited me at the cafe I work at during his lunch break. We talked about a couple we know. The woman of those two has a much better job and the man is very content with it, so much that he in fact considers staying at home with the kids once they have them. My little fundamentalist demon voice laughed out loud and said “Why would a MAN do that?”. Daniel was a bit surprised by my half-mocking, half-shocked reaction. He said that both men and women were equally well equipped to raise kids, in different ways maybe, but still equally good for the children. And to top it all off, he said: “You know, if I was in his situation… why the heck not? There’s nothing more beautiful than raising your own kids and seeing them grow up each and every day. I don’t want to be a part-time dad, I want to be a really involved parent.” Now while I might have laughed at that couple at first this got me thinking, mostly because I really like and respect Daniel and pictured him as a very strong man.

Maybe it’s not that weird after all. Maybe men have the same desires to be a full-time parent. Maybe it troubles men more than I can understand that they miss out on the daily life of their kids. It must be hard to come home in the evening and hear all those great stories about funny events, first words, first steps, school events and everything else they couldn’t see. A story never lives up to actually being there. Maybe my dreams will be fulfilled in a way I never thought of: Ending up in a marriage where the man doesn’t have to be the alpha-provider to feel like a man, where I don’t have to feel guilty for working and not caring enough for the kids.

Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to figure out a way for myself, no matter how strange it looks to the people around me.


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This is going to be a long winter

I struggle with faith a lot. Some days, I don’t want there to be a God. On others I wish for nothing more than a heavenly father who protects me. I wish so badly to KNOW the truth but I guess nobody does. I sometimes even wish I had a near-death experience like some people do so I can see if it just goes black or if it actually continues. Yes I know about the theories with the chemicals and vivid dreams, but then I’d feel safe – for myself.

Today I’m having a day pondering God a lot. This morning I walked past the elementary school while I was running some errands and I heard a choir of small kids sing: Great God, you hold me in your hands, I can not fall deeper than that, your love brightens my day, something along those lines (note: Public schools offer classes on each religion, if you don’t want your kids to go to any sort of religion class you can simply send them to philosophy and life classes). I looked around and saw fall. The leaves are already turning brown and red, the trees are already losing them.

I’m not a summer person, I love fall and winter. Too many people associate these seasons with destruction, death and cold in my opinion. Fall and winter are beautiful signs of life to me.

Fall removes the old, the used, the problems and burdens of the year. The trees rid themselves of what they don’t need anymore, what will be restored in spring. The flowers grow dry and tired and recede into the ground, preparing for the cold weather. I always thought this was a great picture of what Jesus does to people: He makes them rid themselves of the burdens and unnecessary of the past seasons and prepares them to be renewed.

As fall grows colder and colder, more and more things in the world go back to the basics. The leaves are gone, leaving the tree with nothing but a vital stem to survive on. The flowers are hidden in the ground as nothing but a seed or a root. Life is stripped to the basic, to the only things it really needs to survive.

And then, winter comes. And winter isn’t the harsh time of testing and death. It’s a time for sleeping, resting, waiting. Yes, sometimes it means death to some, trees, plants, people, but it kills gently, putting them into a deep slumber at first, then covers the deathbeds with its white linen sheets and simply doesn’t let them wake up again. Winter isn’t the time of painful death but the time of gentle home-calling. And the others sit and wait to be renewed.

Isn’t that just how faith should be? We get rid of what we don’t need, are reduced to the basics in order to be renewed when it’s time.

Snow is so soothing for me, it’s always been like that. As a child I couldn’t wait for snow to fall. When the first flakes of that glimmering white fluff appeared in the sky I ran outside or ran to open a window to listen to the joyous sound. I think many people consider me crazy because they can’t hear it. But I know many others can but don’t want to admit to it. When snow falls, it’s the most beautiful sound I can imagine.

Close your eyes and listen to it. There’s going to be a muted feeling, a muted sound. A sound as if you were standing somewhere in a castle like in the fairy tales and from far away in the castle, from some huge ballroom you can hear it: The soft muttering of excited, elegant masses, the sounds of flowing long satin dresses, delicate fabrics rubbing on each other, a quiet footstep here and there. It’s a huge ball and the couples are preparing to start dancing. Can you see all the dancers dressed in beautiful white gowns, smiling at each other and waiting for the musicians to play?

Many people declared me crazy when I told them about this. But it’s true. And I used to believe that God intended just this picture when he made snow.

And as the snow covers the world it’s like God covering the world with his soft white blanket, tucking us in like children.

You may find it weird that I’m already talking about now in September, I really don’t know myself why I just wrote what I did but I felt the need to explain where my thoughts today came from.

I feel like when I left the movement, my personal fall came, stripping me of everything I didn’t need, things that went wrong, things that weren’t good for me. And then, winter came. I’m waiting for something. I don’t know when it will come, or what will come my way. I don’t even know if it will come my way. I’m like a root. Maybe I’m on my deathbed, maybe I’m not. I’m hoping I’ll see spring and summer, though.


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America/Europe: National pride

The following are my observations and in no way evaluations or judgements on either side.

National pride was something I grew up with, like most Americans. You may not even consider yourself a distinctively “proud” or “national” American. But after a year in Europe, I can tell you that you most likely ARE a very proud American.

My Dad was very nationalist and very proud to be American. As it’s a duty for most fundamentalists my Dad is very republican in his political views. I grew up saluting the flag, wearing flag colors for July 4th and repeating phrases like “There’s no country like ours” and “America, Land of the free”. My Dad was convinced that no country in the world had freedom of religion like the US. So, growing up in an environment where publically showing pride was a standard I was used to expressing this pride and never was shunned for it.

When I moved to Europe, specifically Germany, I quickly realized that things were different. Very different.

You, my readers, and I, we should make a bet. If you ever come to Germany and you can find one single person on the street who will tell you “I’m proud to be a German”, I’ll pay for your hotel. You can stay at the Berlin Hilton President suite if you like. I’m not worried to lose this bet.

My mother too put very heavy weight on our german heritage. She raised us believing that our “German” qualities like reliability, timeliness and good work ethics were something to be proud of. As kids, we were really proud to be both German and American, to speak both languages. We pretty much thought we were the best of two worlds.

So when I arrived here my very republican point of view how things should be done as well as my typical American national pride turned out to be a shocker for everyone around me.

It starts with flags. In the US you see the American flag pretty much everywhere, houses, public buildings, taxis, you name it, there’s probably a flag on it. You won’t find any flags here. People are ASHAMED of their flag. A flag is not a sign of national pride but a sign of being a national-socialist. A person with a flag somewhere is automatically a Nazi, and I’m not making this up. The Germans themselves consider this to be true. You could literally burn a German flag on the biggest square in Berlin, I doubt anybody would show a negative reaction or a reaction at all. Sure, they might look your way, but they’d mostly ignore you. Nobody would be hurt or offended.

Singing the national anthem is another thing. For one it’s rarely done, but people also don’t take much pride in it. Matter of fact, many people don’t even sing along out of fear they might be considered a Nazi.

When I first started finding friends here they asked me a lot of questions about the US, many which I couldn’t answer. But I remember somebody saying something along the lines of “You Americans are so proud of your country, why is that?”. I blurted out all those lines my Dad told me and received quite a bunch of funny looks. “Don’t you think it’s arrogant? How can you be proud of something you didn’t earn but were born into? How can you say this when you haven’t been anywhere else in the world?”. I was surprised and said “Well, I don’t know, but you’re proud to be a German too aren’t you?”. His answer flabbergasted me: “No, I’m not. If anything, I’m ashamed.”

I was longing to know why people were rejecting their own country, their nationality. They will not tell you when they don’t know you, when you aren’t friends with them. They will end the conversation and feel very offended that you had the guts to ask things like that. Nationality is a very very sore spot for them.

Over time however I was introduced to the mindset behind this lack of pride. And to my surprise it’s a very strange one.

My generation here in Germany takes blame for the holocaust, as simple as that. They feel personally responsible. It’s not something their grandparents or great-grandparents did, it’s something THEY did. They don’t differentiate between two generations ago and now. They feel responsible for what happened as well as responsible to avoid it happening again. And for them the only way to avoid it is to completely avoid every hint of pride in their nationality. It isn’t something “they” did, it’s something “we” did.

As a matter of fact people are very hurt that movies depict the Germans as the bad guys even when it’s not a WW2 movie. These movies actually hurt the people in a way that is almost incomprehensible to us Americans. They make them feel shamed, exposed, just as if you would undress them and make them walk down the street.

A while ago, a Tom Cruise movie, Valkyrie, came out. It tells the story of a group of German rebels trying to kill Hitler and it’s a real story. This movie came up in one of the discussions I had with my friends and I was surprised just how strong the emotions were towards this simple Hollywood movie. People were actually emotionally hurt that this actual event was made into a Hollywood movie and even worse, that none of the actors were German. People felt this was violating one of the very few things and German heroes they were proud of. They felt that Americans were trying to make it “American”. It’s very hard to explain how exactly they felt about it, and I couldn’t really understand at first but I do now. It’s an almost sacred part of history to them and one of the very few sources for them to base “We weren’t all monsters” on.

On the other hand Inglorious Basterds by Tarantino was praised and loved here. Yes, it is YET ANOTHER WW2 movie and people are really fed up with it, but Tarantino made one smart move: He invited some German actors. And the fact that he ended up with not only one but THREE actors was seen as something very healing for them. Finally, they get to take part in how Germans are depicted in Hollywood movies. Yes, there was a really terrible monster German in it, but he was played by an actual German and that alone was enough to help people deal with the movie. It gave them the chance to say “Yes, we are bad people, but at least we can play ourselves for once.”. How strange is that?

Even if I sometimes get strange looks and even negative reactions I refuse to take part in the general blame-taking mentality here. I’m still proud to be 50% American and I’m still proud to be 50% German and I show both. I will keep celebrating July 4th openly and I will run around with German flags if we ever win the Soccer world championship again. Yes, both sides made a fair share of mistakes in the past and still do, there are idiots in both countries, but I’m not taking the blame just because someone I have never met screwed up once or twice.


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Cowboys and my attempts to think about them.

I had never met a gay person in the movement (or maybe I did, but I didn’t know about it). I had only heard terrible stories of the horrible things they do. That they are all drug-addicted, disease-infested, family hating Antichrists. That they can be changed, “repaired” and led back into the flock, but most of them are so ignorant that they don’t even want the precious gift of salvation Jesus offers them. They were spitting in his face. I thought if I ever saw a gay person, I’d be able to tell he or she is gay right away. The men would look feminized and the women like guys, and that they’d probably have scars from the drugs and violence and an empty look in their eyes. Other than that, I have never really bothered thinking about gay people because they didn’t exist in my world.

One of my friends (a female one I want to add) has been trying to convince me to watch Brokeback Mountain for a few weeks now, as she considers it one of the most important and one of the best movies of the last few years. I refused, partially because I didn’t feel like it would interest me at all, partially because I simply didn’t want to see it. There had been a large discussion about how this movie is against marriage and promotes adultery and destroys our morals and values within the christian community and I felt like I didn’t want to watch that type of thing at this point. Either way, she managed to convince me to “give it a try” with the option to turn it off any time.

And what can I say, I watched the entire thing… and I liked it a lot. Technically, it’s amazing, great images, great pace of story-telling, great actors.

But I also didn’t see where the criticism comes from. I mean, yes, it argues against marriage: It argues that both men shouldn’t have gotten married to a woman in the first place. They obviously struggled with themselves and didn’t know who they were – the fact that these marriages would end in a disaster was clear from the beginning. They entered marriage not only with lies, but also as a person they simply weren’t. You can’t keep up a lie for life, I know that from personal experience. They married because it was expected of them. If this social expectation weren’t there in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a problem. Plus, they obviously denied there attractions in front of themselves as well. That calls for an inner fight nobody can get out of undamaged.

It has been argued that the depiction of both wives is pale and negative. I find that not to be true. Especially Ennis’ wife, who finds out rather soon, was beautifully scripted. She is a woman who tries to ignore the obvious problem in order to save the marriage to a man she clearly loves deeply. The incredible hurt she feels can be felt throughout the movie. Especially later, after they broke up, her anger and hurt are expressed really well. On the other hand, she handles with grace. She doesn’t run off and tell everybody. She keeps it a secret, though you can argue whether she does that in order to protect herself or her love. Jack’s wife on the other hand seems very pragmatic. Though she loved him at the beginning, she quickly realizes that she’s nothing but an act for him. She realizes he had only married her because she was the first best chance, and she feels that as soon as Jack could find a way, he would leave her. Out of self-protection, she cuts her emotional connection with Jack and busies herself with work. She too never loses a word or makes Jack feel bad. She does everything to keep the act up for one, and to protect her family as well.

In the end I can say that there is a lot of pain and hurt in the movie, on all sides of the story. The movie doesn’t take a stand on what’s right, what’s wrong, it simply tells a story and leaves it to the viewers to decide. I never really thought about the struggles people with homosexual attractions have to face. After seeing this, you know, I can’t say whether I think it’s right or wrong, but I can definitely say that I can’t imagine Jesus being ok with discriminating people for how they live. He didn’t hate the prostitutes or the adulteress. He loved them and made them feel that they have dignity and a value. If Jesus sees how some people, many people, are treated today because of sex, nationality, gender preference, job, and so on… I think he’s really angry about that and if he ever should come back, he’ll certainly do more than just throw over some tables. I’m just saying that because I know I would.