Seasons Greetings from Heidi (aka VirusHead), John, Ben and our cat Molly. Enjoy!
Seasons Greetings from Heidi (aka VirusHead), John, Ben and our cat Molly. Enjoy!
Scroll to the bottom if you’re not in the mood for this!
Over the years, I’ve noted that the quality and helpfulness of former JW sites varies quite a bit. Some are very angry, while others are more compassionate. Some are able to create spaces to share insights with one another, some are more combative with peers. Some are focused on biblical interpretation, others on issues like abuse and shunning. More recently, I’ve noticed an upsurge of writers that – like myself – have focused on what it takes to follow your own path and walk an authentic spirituality that is not particularly driven by past experiences. I’ve also found a decrease in the purple prose, and more of a matter-of-fact approach that comes with time and experience.
I developed a list of online resources for ex-JWs some time ago, but here’s a more updated list.
These cover a range of thoughts and approaches. Check them out!
Some of that is pretty dark.
My dear friend Lin shared an article with me on disfunctional beliefs that former Jehovah’s Witnesses might still carry with them.
It probably helps that she herself is not a JW or a former JW. She really has a handle on the central problem of how some aspects of the Watchtower psychology/ideology prevent their adherents ( and post-adherents) from leaving, loving, and thriving. I think some of us would go further and reject the very word “apostate” because its connectations are too deeply ingrained.
Not only is the article itself an excellent resource for former Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I’m very impressed with the quality of the whole site – Mindful Construct. I wish that all recovering JWs had access to such an insightful and caring cognitive counsellor, someone who could interact with them in just this way. And – I was honored that my tips for former JWs article was linked as a resource!
Here, try these too:
Oh – and watch the sublime Sister Wendy talk about art whenever you can. She functions for me in much the same way that Mr. Rogers did when I was a child.
I love humor, even when it’s aimed at my heroes. Jacques Derrida was hopelessly misunderstood by much of the American audience, but there is a grain of truth in much of this:
Yeah, Derrida has a lot going on. He is sometimes very difficult to read. And it’s easy to make fun of Derrida and deconstruction, and to think what it means is that there is no basis for justice or ethics. Many so-called religious leaders make this mistake, and far too many academics do as well.
There is no more careful reader than Derrida was – and to start to understand what is at stake, you have to develop the skills to read and to think in ways that are a little different than what you might be accustomed to, but it’s worth it.
A careful reader can easily discern that not only does his work *not* discard or undermine ethics and justice, but it really demands better forms of both than what many of his detractors can offer or (in many cases) care to offer.
The following is probably as clear as Derrida gets on these issues in a short space. Read slowly and carefully, and then try to argue that Derrida was proposing that we have no obligation to pursue (and construct, and deconstruct, and reconstruct) our truths in the light of ethics and justice….
I do not believe that the whole ‘left’ in general is more occupied with cultural identity than with social justice. But if some who call themselves leftists had done so they would deserve Rorty’s critique. On this point and to a certain extent I would agree with him, for then two grave risks would have been neglected: first, though legitimate in certain situations and within certain limits, the demands of cultural identity (and this word comprises all ‘communitarisms’, of which there are many) can often feed into ‘ideologies’ of the right – nationalist, fundamentalist, even racist. Secondly, the left may relegate to the background and gravely neglect other struggles, social and civic solidarities and universal causes (transnational and not merely cosmopolitical, because the cosmopolitical supposes again the agency of the state and of the citizen, be it the citizen of the world – we will return to this). But why must one choose between the care for cultural identity and the worry about social justice? They are both questions of justice, two responses to anti-egalitarian oppression or violence. No doubt it is very hard to lead both of these debates in the same rhythm, but one can fight both fronts, cultural and social, at the same time, as it were, and one must do so. The task of the intellectual is to say this, to mediate the discourses and to elaborate strategies that resist any simplistic choice between the two. In both cases, the effective responsibility for engagement consists in doing everything to transform the status quo in the two areas, between them, from one to another, the cultural and the social, to establish a new law, even if they remain forever inadequate for what I call justice (which is not the law, even if it determines its history and progress).
There is no ‘politics’, no law, no ethics without the responsibility of a decision which, to be just, cannot content itself with applying existing norms or rules but must take the absolute risk, in every singular instant, or justifying itself again, alone, as if for the first time, even if it is inscribed in a tradition. For lack of space, I cannot explain here the discourse on decision that I try to elaborate elsewhere. A decision, though mine, active and free in its phenomenon, cannot be the simple deployment of my potentialities or aptitudes, of what is ‘possible for me’. In order to be a decision, it must interrupt that ‘possible’, tear off my history and thus be above all, in a certain strange way, the decision of the other in me: come from the other in view of the other in me. It must in a paradoxical way permit and comprise a certain passivity that in no way allays my responsibility. These are the paradoxes that are difficult to integrate in a classical philosophical discourse, but I do not believe that a decision, if it exists, would be possible otherwise.
In my eyes what you call ‘a kind of political metaphysics’ would be exactly the forgetting of aporia itself, which we often try to do. But the aporia cannot be forgotten. What would a ‘pragmatics’ be that consisted in avoiding contradictions, problems apparently without solution, etc.? Do you not think that this supposedly realistic or empirical ‘pragmatics’ would be a kind of metaphysical reverie, in the most unrealistic and imaginary sense one gives these words?
One has to do everything to see the laws of hospitality inscribed in positive law. If this is impossible, everyone must judge, in their soul and conscience, sometimes in a ‘private’ manner, what (when, where, how, to what extent) has to be done without the laws or against the laws. To be precise: when some of us have appealed to civil disobedience in France on behalf of those without identifying papers (and for a small number among us – for example in my seminar, but publicly – more than a year before the press began to discuss this and before the number of protesters grew to be spectacular), it was not an appeal to transgress the law in general, but to disobey those laws which to us seemed themselves to be in contradiction with the principles inscribed in our constitution, to international conventions and to human rights, thus in reference to a law we considered higher if not unconditional. It was in the name of this higher law that we called for ‘civil disobedience’, within certain limited conditions. But I will not reject the word ‘grace’ (of the unconditional gift and without return) that you offered to me, provided that one does not associate it with obscure religious connotations which, though they can sometimes be interesting, would call for quite different discussions.
Bev – one of my very best friends ever – was so amused by my birthday narratives that she sent me this in the mail today. Hee-hee.
It’s Mother’s Day – or Matronalia if you prefer – and I’m wishing all the Mommies a fun day!
Thursday night was interesting. I had just dyed my hair a bit darker than usual (I feel silly now with light blonde hair), and it was almost dry but full of that super-rich conditioner that you put on afterward. I went outside to enjoy the moonlight and the cool breezes. I lit some charcoal, and threw a couple of rosehips and bit of lemongrass on it to saturate the night. I lit a couple of candles, and as I bent down to light the third, my hair dropped into one that was already lit. Phewmp! I was on fire! Just that fast. I clapped it out right away, but now I have some bangs underneath on one side. Oh, it smelled horrible! It made me remember something I had forgotten, though. When I was a kid, I had very long hair, and I remember that I used to pluck strands of it out, and light them on fire off of the gas stove. I was in 4th or 5th grade. The smell reminded me. I wonder if my mom knew.
Readers of the blog… and my neighbors… will know that I sometimes like to sing. I crank up my iPod and go through all kinds of songs. Lots of times I’m just mimicking the singer, which can get a bit amusing sometimes. Anyway, I was doing that – singing pretty loud, but directing my voice into the deepest part of the woods out back. I really got into it, and walked out to the little picnic table. So picture this: I’m standing on top of the table, facing away from the house, eyes closed, singing at the top of my projection power – and to anyone listening, that’s a capella.
I finished the song, and heard applause! When I opened my eyes, two strangers were standing about ten feet away from me, in my yard, wildly clapping their hands. I don’t think I’ve moved so fast since an alligator chased me around my car. I jumped down – I think I must have turned about five shades of red.
It turns out that they live a few houses away, around the block. They said they’ve been listening to me sing for months, and they love hearing me sing. Or – at least they say they do. Anyway, they decided to walk over and meet me and express appreciation (and find out who I am). Their son sometimes joins me with his trumpet – or plays on his own. He seems like a sweet kid, but I only met him in person once, at the neighborhood yard sale. Now I’ve met the family. It was cool in a way – nice to think they like it. I view my singing as something that I have to do – but I don’t really expect anyone to like it.
Wasn’t Barack Obama fun last night? I thought he was a lot more amusing than Wanda Sykes. That line about John Boehner (video) was the best putdown I’ve heard in a long time; it works on so many levels.
In the next hundred days our bipartisan outreach will be so successful that even John Boehner will consider becoming a Democrat. After all we have a lot in common. He is a person of color–although not a color that appears in the natural world.
He poked fun at all the hype around himself, too:
During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days. … My next 100 days will be so successful, I will complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.
I also liked the way he spoke back to the cynicism of the crowd. Catch his last few minutes on journalism and the media if you can.
Work takes up a lot of my energy these days. I enjoy it, but it’s tiring. I haven’t done anything creative lately. There are a number of things I’m supposed to be doing, and writing, and thinking about – but I am not in the right space to do that.
I’ve been waking up really early in the morning for the last couple of weeks, and it feels really good just to take it slow. It’s been a nice relaxing weekend so far. I’ve been puttering around the house, starting to reorganize a little. John dragged a bunch of stuff down to the curb. The place has gotten out of control. I’d like to get things into more streamlined shape before it gets too hot. I’m not a natural homebody, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to concentrate on those sorts of things until my surroundings are a bit less cluttered and disorganized.
This most astounding of Goddess prayers is from Rob Brezsny’s book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings- the latest addition to my wishlist. You may know Rob Brezsny if you follow his witty syndicated column Free Will Astrology. Thanks to sweet Nessa for suggesting it – I found it posted at Killing the Buddha.
Prayer for You
How do you get God’s attention? Try sweet talking his girlfriend.
by Rob Breznsy
This is a perfect moment. It’s a perfect moment because I have been inspired to say a gigantic prayer. I’ve been roused to unleash a divinely greedy, apocalyptically healing prayer for each and every one of you — even those of you who don’t believe in the power of prayer.
And so I am starting to pray right now to the God of Gods… the God beyond all Gods… the Girlfriend of God… the Teacher of God… the Goddess who invented God.
Dear Goddess, you who never kill but only change:
I pray that my exuberant, suave, and accidental words will move you to shower ferocious blessings down on everyone who reads this benediction.
I pray that you will give them what they don’t even know they need — not just the boons they think they want but everything they’ve always been afraid to even imagine or ask for.
Dear Goddess, you wealthy anarchist burning heaven to the ground:
Many of the divine chameleons out there don’t even know that their souls will live forever. So please use your brash magic to help them see that they are all wildly creative geniuses too big for their own personalities.
Guide them to realize that they are all completely different from what they’ve been led to believe about themselves, and more exciting than they can possibly imagine.
Make it illegal, immoral, irrelevant, unpatriotic, and totally tasteless for them to be in love with anyone or anything that’s no good for them.
O Goddess, you who give us so much love and pain mixed together that our morality is always on the verge of collapsing:
I beg you to cast a boisterous love spell that will nullify all the dumb ideas, bad decisions, and nasty conditioning that have ever cursed the wise and sexy virtuosos out there.
Remove, banish, annihilate, and laugh into oblivion any jinx that has clung to them, no matter how long they’ve suffered from it, and even if they’ve become accustomed or addicted to its ugly companionship.
Please conjure an aura of protection around them so that they will receive an early warning if they are ever about to act in such a way as to bring another hex or plague into their lives in the future.
Dear Goddess, sweet Goddess, you sly universal virus with no f*cking opinion:
Please help all the personal growth addicts out there to become disciplined enough to go crazy in the name of creation, not destruction.
Awaken in them the power to do the half-right thing when it is impossible to do the totally right thing.
Arouse the Wild Woman within them — even if they’re men.
Dear Goddess, you pregnant sl*t who scorns all mediocre longing:
I pray that you will inspire all the compassionate rascals communing with this prayer to kick their own asses and wash their own brains.
Provoke them to throw away or give away all the things they own that encourage them to believe that they are better than anyone else.
Show them how much fun it is to brag about what they cannot do and do not have.
Give them bigger, better, more original sins and wilder, wetter, more interesting problems.
Most of all, Goddess, brainwash them with your freedom so that they never love their own pain more than anyone else’s pain.
Oh Goddess, you wildly disciplined, radically curious, shockingly friendly, fanatically balanced, mysteriously truthful, teasingly healing, lyrically logical master of rowdy bliss:
I ask you to give your unconventionally unconditional love to all the budding messiahs who read this prayer; love them with all of your ocean and sky and fire and earth.
Cultivate in yourself a fervent yearning for their companionship. Play with them every day. Answer their questions. Listen to their stories.
Inspire them not just to nag you for what they want, but also to thank you for the uncanny gifts you flood them with.
And if there are any pockets of ignorance or hatred these insanely poised creators might be harboring, any inadvertent idiocies that keep them blind to your blessings, please flush them out as soon as possible.
Dear Goddess, You psychedelic mushroom cloud at the center of all our brains:
Bless all the inscrutable creators out there with lucid dreams while they are wide awake, and their very own spin doctors, and solar-powered sex toys that work even in the dark, and vacuum cleaners for their magic carpets, and a knack for avoiding other people’s hells, and a thousand masks that all represent their true feelings, and secret admirers who are not psychotic stalkers.
Arrange for a racehorse to be named after them, or an underground river, or a boulevard in an exotic vacationland, or a thousand-year-old storm on Saturn or Jupiter.
Teach them to push their own buttons and unbreak their own hearts and right their own wrongs and sing their own songs and be their own wives and save their own lives.
Dear Goddess, You fiercely tender, hauntingly reassuring, orgiastically sacred feeling that is even now running through all of our soft, warm animal bodies:
I pray that you provide all the original sinners out there with a license to bend and even break all rules, laws, and traditions that keep them apart from the things they love.
And teach them that they can have anything they want if they’ll only ask for it in an unselfish way.
And now dear God of Gods, God beyond all Gods, Girlfriend of God, Teacher of God, Goddess who invented God, I bring this prayer to a close, trusting that in these mysterious moments you have begun to change everyone out there in the exact way they’ve needed to change in order to become the gorgeous geniuses they were born to be.
Wow. That really charges my battery – how about you?