Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lost in the Supermarket

London Calling I've been having some unpleasant dreams lately, most of which I believe are about anxiety. Some have been downright terrifying, but most are just general, free-form weirdness with an underlying feeling of dread.

The other night was particularly bad. Things began innocently enough, with talking to my friend Aubrey (we recently had lunch, so that's where that came from), and nothing seemed amiss. Then I was talking to my friend Greg, also from the lab. Nothing weird about the conversation, which took place in the lab, but he was wearing shorts and a tank top, and that's when things started going wrong. You don't wear shorts and a tank top in the lab. It was a jarring enough inconsistency that in my dream, I sat on the floor with my legs splayed out, hung my head, and said, "This has to be a dream."

It morphed into the setting of a house I didn't know. My Mom was there, and we were sleeping in the same bed. She asked me, "Do you want to say that prayer now?" I said, "No," and she said, "Okay," rolled over and went to sleep. I was making a cat toy of feathers and tossing it up into the air, although I don't recall a cat being there. There was a woman in the house, and she was wearing an evening gown. She stood out on the balcony with the sliding glass door open, and I said, "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to close that door. It's very cold in here." She smiled and did so.

It all sounds innocent enough as I type it, but I can't begin to convey the feeling of dread, dismay, and wrongness that overlaid everything. There were several times that I thought as I did early on: "I know I'm dreaming," but it all felt so vivid and completely real that I was sure it was happening. So you can imagine my terror when my dream culminated with me lying in bed, opening my eyes, and seeing someone or something leaning over me with bared teeth and dead eyes, snarling and ready to chew my face off. As is often the case in dreams, I was paralyzed with fear, and could only moan, "Noooooo oh god nooooooo," which finally, thankfully, woke me up for real. There was a moment of heart-pounding panic, as I tried to figure out where I was, and whether or not I was awake or still dreaming. Whew.

Dream anxiety I had another one tonight when I napped on the loveseat, but at least this one wasn't as terrifying. I was at the grocery store, and I recall being horribly unfocused and unable to complete my task. I was trying to find a 12-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper, and I could only find cases. At one point, I had a case of 7-Up in my hand, and sat it down with disgust, as in, "That's not what I want! Why am I carrying this around?" I can laugh about it now, because it sounds silly, but in my dream, I was walking endlessly back and forth in the aisle, trying to find that goddamn 12-pack of Diet Dr. Pepper. I recall wondering if they were seeing me on the security cameras and wondering what was wrong with me. I felt incapable, stupid, and incompetent. For me, that IS a nightmare! I eventually ran into my friend Jay (also from the lab), and he gave me a big hug, so that was nice. That one had a decent ending rather than the terrifying one earlier in the week.

I know it's all a reflection of the generalized anxiety I'm feeling about things in general, and I'll just ride it out as my psyche dumps all the detritus into my dreams. I can handle the vaguely unpleasant, but that one the other night is lingering. I find dreams fascinating, and I'm wondering if writing such things down will help me wrest a little control over them? Usually my dreams are fairly pleasant, if nonsensical, easily forgotten. If I continue to have these anxiety dreams, I think writing them down might help me get a handle on them.

The supermarket dream tonight had an unexpected and happy benefit, as it reminded me of one of my favorite Clash songs, "Lost in the Supermarket." Although known for their anger and outrage at the inequities of the haves vs. the have-nots, this song is almost wistful in its search for meaning in the banality of life, our society's promise of happiness through consumerism, and our increasing isolation. If you think I'm reading too much into the song, go right ahead. Songs speak to people in different ways, and this song speaks to me.

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for the special offer
A guaranteed personality

I wasn't born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That's how it's been all around me

I'm all tuned in I see all the programmes
I save coupons from packets of tea
I've got my giants hit discotheque album
I empty a bottle I feel a bit free

Kids in the halls and the pipes in the walls
Making noises for company
Long distance callers make long distance calls
And the silence makes me lonely

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for the special offer
A guaranteed personality

It's not here, it disappeared.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Busta myth!

One Nation Under God First of all, I want to thank everyone for the words of encouragement on my previous entry. Sometimes it really does get to me, but mostly I remain insatiably curious about politics and committed to calling people out on their lies. It made me feel good to know that some of you enjoy my rantings, and as I told a friend, if even one person stops to look at an issue in a different light because of something I wrote, it would make me very happy. I also liked Nance's idea of following a 2:1 ratio on serious vs not-so-serious posts. That's not a bad idea, and I'm going to think on that a bit. In the meantime, I want to write today about a non-controversial topic, one that shouldn't ruffle anyone's feathers: the National Day of Prayer.

I'm a little bit evil, I know.

Okay, most of you have probably seen that there was quite the hullabaloo, a veritable mêlée, and one might even call it a brouhaha, over the National Day of Prayer last week. Forwarded emails abounded, and several Facebook updates denigrated President Obama for abolishing the NDP. That wasn't true; he merely called off the celebration at the White House. The NDP went ahead as planned. However, US District judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin issued a ruling declaring that the NDP was unconstitutional, but allowing current plans to go ahead for this year. In her ruling, Crabb stated:

No one can doubt the important role that prayer plays in the spiritual life of a believer. In the best of times, people may pray as a way of expressing joy and thanks; during times of grief, many find that prayer provides comfort. Others may pray to give praise, seek forgiveness, ask for guidance or find the truth. ... However, recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic.

The Department of Justice has said that they will appeal her ruling, which shows you that I don't agree with everything that President Obama does.

I think her ruling is a good one, a constitutional one. Not everyone agrees, of course. Cue the video.

The mind-numbing level of delusion here is astounding. O'Reilly and Palin engage in mutual masturbation in declaring that oh yes indeed, our country was founded on Christian principles, our Constitution was based on Christian beliefs, and that our laws follow the ten commandments and the God of the Bible. This is simply not true, and if either of these nimrods would learn a little about history and do the tiniest bit of research they'd find out that in fact, the exact opposite is true. Our founding fathers (Palin likes "all of 'em," dontcha know?) purposefully and pointedly excluded God from our Constitution, and made sure that it was clear that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

I am bothered and bewildered (but definitely not bewitched) by the current thinking that our country was founded on the Christian religion, and the assertion that our founding fathers were worshippers. This is far from the truth. Most of the shapers of our country and government were deists, believing that while there might be a supreme being, after he got everything going, he stepped back and let us take over completely. They did not see the divine hand of God in anything, and did their best to ensure that our republic was founded upon reason, logic, and good governance rather than religious beliefs.

If you have some time, if you are curious at all about whether what I write here is true, I urge you to take a little time to read a few entries on another blog. It is not merely opinion; there are many references provided. (A big thanks to Darren for posting this on Facebook. It was fascinating reading, and I feel it lays out the argument beautifully. I owe you one!)

Part I - mainly a discussion of Thomas Jefferson

Part II - deism and the thoughts of some of Jefferson's contemporaries

Part III - Washington and his rejection of communion; John Adams

Part IV - discussion of the religious affiliation of early colonists; after escaping persecution in England, they were quite unwilling to revisit such behavior; only about 1 in 15 were affiliated with a church

Treaty of Tripoli So why the objection to a National Day of Prayer? (And no, it does not date back to the Constitutional Convention; no prayers were said at that gathering.) Those who are staunch defenders of the Constitution should get this one. The writers of the Constitution and the framers of our republic expressly forbade any government promotion of a religion. No, the NDP is not a mandate in that it does not force anyone to pray upon the threat that they will be prosecuted for not doing so. However, the NDP was pushed through in the 50s by evangelical Christians, and today is actively promoted by Focus on the Family, an organization founded by evangelical Christian James Dobson. The chairman of the NDP Task Force is Shirley Dobson, wife of James. Franklin Graham was pissed off because he was uninvited from the Pentagon prayer session because of his statements that Islam is a wicked and evil religion. The NDP is most certainly an evangelical Christian endeavor; do they also promote prayers to Allah? Buddha? Perhaps a prayer (and maybe a sacrifice) to an Aztec god? Of course not. This day actively promotes one particular type of religion, and our government has no constitutional right to do so. None.

In the video I posted, when asked why Judge Crabb ruled against the NDP, Sarah Palin says: is that world view that I think...uh...involves people being afraid of...of being able to discuss our foundation, being able to discuss God in the public square...some fear of some people.

As always, it's a little difficult to understand what Sarah is trying to say, but I think she means that some of us don't want to discuss religion. That couldn't be further from the truth. Many of us have had many discussions of religion over the years, and many of us have done our research rather than bleating like a sheep about how America is a Christian nation. Many of us DO respect the Constitution rather than just giving it lip service, and many of us understand that our founding fathers were not religious individuals, much less religious bigots. They were visionaries who understood that just as religion needs to be protected from the government, our government needs to be protected from religion.

Dan Barker recently appeared on Fox News. Barker is the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Along with his total pwnage of the interviewer, he had a line that sums this issue up perfectly. "It is the evangelicals who are confusing neutrality with hostility." The Constitution specifies neutrality in matters of religion. The government can neither force us to worship a certain deity or follow a certain religion; neither can they stop anyone from worshipping who they want. No one is saying that people can't worship the way they choose, follow the god they choose. You can pray to your heart's desire, if that is what you choose to do. However, my government--and it is mine every bit as much as yours--cannot dictate to me or anyone else what religion is best, promote prayer, or even suggest any sort of worship.

For those who would continue to believe that we are a Christian nation, or founded upon Christian principles, I suggest you do a little more research. I am not saying that you cannot practice your religion. No one is saying that. I'm simply saying that you cannot force my government to suggest your religion to me.Assumption Error