Saturday, June 1, 2013

Roadhouse season 2 episode 5: "The Gang Exploits A Miracle."

This week on Roadhouse, we share our beliefs (or lack thereof) and our frustration with religion in the United States.

A note about last week's show: D-Rock was really touched by all your comments and support about the loss of her job. She'll update you all on that next week, but in the mean time, your messages were amazing.


  1. C.S. Lewis once said: "You don't have a soul; you are a soul. You have a body."
    I loved that quote as soon as I read it. Personally, I went through a period of time early on in my life (age 10-13) looking for, well, answers. As it were. I was brought up Anglican (both my parents, both their parents, etc) but never really connected with the religious trappings. Loved the hymns, though :o)
    When I was thirteen, I found references to witchcraft and wicca and, without any real concrete reason to say why, I just knew this was where I was going to find my answers. Turns out, I have lots more questions, but that doesn't trouble me quite as much anymore. So I've been witching for a while now.
    True story: I moved from a much bigger city to a smaller town a few years ago. I don't know a lot about other cities, but where I'm from it's absolutely normal for most people to wear black. There's a joke floating around somewhere about it being our (city) uniform. So here I was sitting at a bus stop, wearing what seemed like perfectly normal, blend-in-with-the-crowd clothes, no pentacle to be seen on me, when some random guy sat down right beside me and told me Jesus could save me. I was having a real WTF!? moment until realising I was the only person within view wearing all black. Apparently, that's a sign to some saying 'hey! this person, right here? might not be Christian! She turned me into a newt- BURN HER!!!!'
    Apologies. The whole newt/ burn her thing? Been watching too much Python.
    I just... I wish he'd asked me if I'd found Jesus, because my favourite answer to that is: You lost him again!? What is it with you guys always losing your favourite god?
    Yeah, I know I shouldn't taunt but it's so much like popping bubblewrap - completely pointless, time consuming, only mildly entertaining unless it's a competition... Er.
    I had always thought that the US constitution included a passage about freedom from religion, as opposed to 'of religion' as it was originally a land populated by people persecuted for their religious beliefs. And what an interesting political experiment - the first founded nation to separate church and state, so the imposition of religion and persecution that led to the formation of the U.S. would not, in turn, be used to impose religion on others, or drive people of differing religious beliefs from the country.
    I'm not entirely certain the ideals have been retained, but I live in another country elsewhere in the world with its own set of issues and the media coverage is lacking. Witchcraft itself has a bad rep and is a minority in minority religions. I'll just shut up now.
    No, I'll say one more thing - thank you both for being so open minded and open about your beliefs. It was interesting to hear you talk, especially you, Jen, and how you came to realise you are atheist. Awesome show!

  2. Yes, let's talk religion a bit, shall we?

    I'm Italian.

    Both of my parents were raised Catholics. My dad, when he was a teenager, started not liking this whole religion thing anymore and stopped believing in anything. He fought with his parents for years bc of that, but they eventually gave up and accepted him. When he met my mom, he explained this to her, and she said that she wasn't interested in Catholic religion or Christianity at all herself either, so they did not marry in a church and did not raise their three children as Catholic.

    Living in Italy, that is considered kinda edgy and not quite normal, but I never really had any problems with it bc I live in a big city. I'm an atheist myself; I think there's no God; I believe the meaning of life is life itself: to be honest and good and help others and make the best of what you have and what you can. Period. Not bc this way you'll end up in heaven, but bc this is really the best way to live your life.

    My high school senior year, I spent it in the US. In a small, small town in Ohio. It was a big shock. SUCH A BIG SHOCK. It was shoking to see that apparently church and state shouldn't be separated, according to the people I met there (many of them were Apostolic). It was shoking to see that they prayed before and after every school game or competition, at Graduation, everywhere. Everybody went to church, everybody made a big deal out of thanking Jesus and God for everything good that happened to them. I was seriously frightened, bc I understood quite fast that I couldn't let it slip that I was not Christian. I faked it. When I had slumber parties with my friends on Saturday night and the morning after we went to church, I faked that I was confused and a little unconfortable just bc everything was in English and not Catholic, so that nobody suspected I wasn't Christian. Because they wouldn't have understood. I dated a guy there... the sweetest guy actually, and he was very religious. When I finally told him I didn't believe in what he believed, he didn't talk to me for three days bc he was shocked, and then told me never to bring up the topic again, bc it was too painful for him (my guess is that he was shocked to find out that a lovely, smart, nice girl like he saw me could be OMG atheist!).

    I know all of this happened only bc I went to live in Back Of Beyond, Ohio, population: 2000, but it was still absurd.

    P.S.: apart from that, my stay in the US was awesome and I had the greatest time. :)

    1. Adding!

      Jen, your experience is very... epicureistic? "We should not worry about death, for when it is there we're not there, and when we are it is not". And you're right, we shouldn't adhere to a religion just out of fear of death. :)

  3. My parents aren't religious, and they didn't go to church. When I was a kid, I'd sometimes go with my friends to church. I visited many faiths and felt so incredibly out of place at each one. The very last time I set foot in a Christian church was when I was 12. Got told I was "an unholy child" and wasn't welcome because I had a bad case of asking questions the preacher couldn't/wouldn't answer. And equating Jesus to a zombie didn't help my cause.

    Spent a few years getting into aliens, to me at the time, they seemed more likely to exist than God.

    Became very involved in neo-paganism. To this day, I consider myself an atheist with pagan leanings (I like the archetypes. I do not think of the gods as literal beings, but lessons one can learn)

    I was pagan going into my marriage and atheist when I got out. My ex's family was Catholic and his grandparents really really wanted him to convert me. Did not happen.

    George Carlin-- favorite atheist comic. Saw him in a live performance about a year before he died. It was epic. The Arrogance of Mankind. While he's not talking about religion, I think it still applies. Its why some people feel compelled to convert the heathens, for complete social cohesion. Stems from a time when everyone was xenophobic. Tribes have been assimilated, cultures absorbed... but people still search for that one tangible thing to bind all together. The Precious in this case being religion. Being a decent human isn't enough, evidently.

    Penn Jillette (my secret crush) said, "The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine."

  4. Wow, great episode. Religion is something that fascinates me - it could be said that it's my wheelhouse, as it were - so I enjoyed this very much. I'm trying very hard not to go on and on and on about it, because I have written rather long essays on this subject before, and love to do so at every opportunity. So I'll keep this short (but filled to the brim(stone) with links).

    Fuck, I forgot what I was going to say.

    Oh! With regards to atheists enjoying religious holidays: I would like to point you to Tim Minchin's White Wine In The Sun. You may have heard it already (I squealed loudly and vociferously when you mentioned him.) but just in case you, or another viewer, hasn't. It's a great song - one of his few non-comedic songs - about how an atheist can take pleasure in religious holidays.

    And with regards to fearing death, to paraphrase a certain crazy, white haired old guy (not Einstein, or God), I don't fear death, just as much as I don't fear the time before my birth.

    Speaking of taxes, did you know that the Catholic church (and other various churches) are counted as charities? That means they're both tax exempt, and able to receive a portion of your - specifically you, if you're a taxpayer in the US - tax money. To cut a long story short, this means that your tax money -at least a very small portion of it - has gone to the legal defence of child abusing priests. Yeah. Same in the UK. I wasn't happy about this at all. Along the same lines, here's a link to an article, a list of reasons to boycott the CC:

    One of the ones that gets me is this: 11. They excommunicated the doctors who performed an abortion on a pregnant 9-year-old who'd been raped by her stepfather.

    12. They did not excommunicate the stepfather.

    As you can probably determine, I'm really not a fan of religion. Here's another link to a debate including Stephen Fry (and some other people, but I'm not too fussed about them):

    And lastly - or near enough - I'd like to direct you to some youtube people, brothers Theramintrees and Qualiasoup. Odd names, I'm assuming their parents were hippies. They do videos on various things, mainly atheism and secularism, and other woos. And actually lastly, It's a great, informative, funny place that deals with religions, superstitions and various woos.

    1. On Atheists celebrating religious holidays: most Christian holidays originally began as early pagan festivals to celebrate things like the harvest, the coming of spring, etc, which actually makes them sort of intended for everyone in my mind, and that's what I tell people. Birth of Christ? Nope, I'm celebrating the solstice!

    2. Indeed so. It's funny, whenever someone says 'Christmas is going away from its Christian roots' or 'it's becoming just about the party and presents', or something along those lines, I often say that it is indeed becoming that, and in doing so it is becoming more in line with its pagan roots.

  5. My husband has worked in the video game industry for 10 years, so I've been able to see it change a lot over the years. He used to get a lot of guff for being a hardcore feminist and writing articles about anti-feminist themes in certain video games, but people are a lot more open to it now. I will say that the backlash against the woman doing Damsel in Distress series (Tropes vs Women in Video Games) is pretty disturbing.

    Of course, he mostly works on violent video games, which always makes people nervous and upset when it’s something in the horror genre but when he’s working on something where people shoot Nazis suddenly it’s all better somehow.

    We were in a Gamestop once and a ten year old kid picked a video game up (Grand Theft Auto). His mom looked at the game, read the rating and description and told him to pick a lower rated game. My husband actually thanked the mom. It's pretty rare to see someone actually care beyond yelling that video games are murder simulators, etc. These games have a really strict standard they have to meet to hit certain ratings. A dead body shown longer than a few seconds? M rating. Flamethrower used on a human? M rating. Blood splatter on camera? M rating. Mutilation of bodies is an automatic M. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was rated T but then a downloaded mod (a fan made change not authorized by the creators) made it possible to see topless females by removing clothing and the game's rating was adjusted to an M.

    My husband was joking about all of the TV coverage that violent video games have been getting lately, “Video games are violent and evil! See our news! Listen to our cautionary tales! Watch Dexter, or Defiance, or Law & Order: SVU! Why push buttons on a controller to watch violence when you can push buttons on a remote to watch our violence instead!”

    I don’t know if you heard that story about Colleen Lachowicz who was running for state senate in Maine who had attack ads against her for having a World of Warcraft character. She played as a rogue, so they said that since she enjoyed running around stabbing people she was unbalanced and clearly not ok to run for state office (she did wind up winning). I laughed because I play a rogue…and a priest. So I guess I’m a holy backstabber. And maybe because I play a druid that means that I can shapeshift into a bear.

  6. Owls totally have tongues!

  7. Very interesting episode, ladies!

    I wholeheartedly agree with most of what you said, however, I do think there are different ways of pushing your religion on others, and surprisingly, Christians aren't the only guilty party.

    Granted, my country (France) has some serious Christian leanings. While we are in theory pretty adamant about the separation of Church and State, most of our national holidays are religious, and unlike many comparable countries, they aren't restricted to Christmas: we get a day off for every single major Christian celebration, like Easter, Pentacostal Sunday & Monday, Ascension Thursday and Assomption day. Clearly, most of us take it for what it is: a paid holiday, a day off work. In general, we care very little for the reasons behind those extra breaks, and would probably have a hard time telling Ascension and Assomption apart, or even explaining what Easter stands for besides chocolates and lamb roasts. We celebrate Christmas as a time spent with our loved ones where we get to binge on delicacies and give and receives presents. Here, the president mentioning his catholic faith is considered a faux-pas, wearing a t-shirt with a religious sign/quote will get you a trip to the principal's office, and the mention of our country being anything remotely close to a nation under God or the inclusion of religion in our official motto would never fly. In short, a devout people we are not.

    What we have, though, are these little peculiarities: crosses are inexplicably allowed in classrooms in Alsace, in some rural towns and hamlets church bells still ring the Angelus (not as a Buffy shout-out, unfortunately), and despite the separation of Church and State and the nationalization of thousands of religious buildings, we still let the Catholic Church use them for free. That's the extent to which we, as a country, allow Christian "traditions" to subtly remind the heathens that we're the eldest daughter of the Church, damnit, and the Jews and the Muslims can celebrate their Yom Kippurs and their Aïds on their own time and pay to build their own holy places, thankyouverymuch.

    1. However, in the last 10 to 15 years, there's been a trend of other religions doing a little catching-up on the proselytism front. Maybe they were tired of Christian bigots being the only religious bullies around. Or it could be that we've pretended these people didn't exist for so long, and discounted their traditions and their importance so thoroughly that they got a little frustrated. Or perhaps it is because our model of integration is sort of a failure, and that by excluding newer populations from upward social mobility and burying them in ghettos they had very little hope of ever leaving, we made them turn to those who actually seemed to care for them and attempted to help them: the religious fringe elements.

      So we end up with situations in which once-marginal radical elements are imposing their rules on the unsuspecting majority. When I was in elementary school, and in the first few couple years of junior high, I matriculated in the ghetto. Not the worst of the worst, not the apocalyptic landscapes of La Haine, but a mostlty working class, lower-end-of-the-income-spectrum area. As those are wont to be around these parts, it meant a very diverse population, with a majority of first or second generation immigrants. The conditions sucked, and there were already degrees of self-segregation, but it was mostly based on shared cultural baggage. What wasn't a point of contention at the time was religion. No one really cared who did what and when. We tacitly agreed that the Jew who had the occasional ham sandwich, or the Muslim who eschewed fasting for Ramadan just had their own personal covenants with the upstairs authorities.

      Then the economic and social climate became a bit tougher. The middle class families moved away, sent their kids to private school, or gamed the system a little harder. The material situation in the school and the area worsened, with the infrastructures falling into disrepair and the teachers and educators even less interested or motivated. The different religious groups began banding together and policing each other: those who didn't follow the strict edicts were narc'ed on and shamed into the fold. As often, girls bore the brunt of the onslaught. Kids were pressured into doing things they had no inclination for, and into following a series of rituals they often did not understand very well. Girls internalized these new codes and rules and their lives became that much harder. The once religion-specific rules started to bleed out into the larger community, with businesses closing and practices changing.

      So no, I have never seen a Muslim come up to someone on the street and try to get them to embrace Muhammad and repent their sins. I have, however, unfortunately witnessed the intolerant, bullying elements trying and succeeding in getting pork banned from school restaurants, pressuring coworkers and schoolmates into skipping lunch breaks during the holy month of Ramadan, and subjecting girls and women to medieval codes of conduct. Which, hilariously enough, gets our Christian bigots all riled up, because it's only proselytism, harassment and misogyny when they're not the ones doing it.

      That was my very long-winded way of saying that, in my experience, intolerant bigots seeking to forcibly save my soul, lengthen my skirt, control my diet and police my morals come in a variety of flavors and use a wide array of weapons. They even acknowledge that they are all disgusting birds of a feather that stupidly flock together: the Catholic assholes behind the anti-gay marriage protests called on their equally contemptible Muslim counterparts to join them for a bit of gay-bashing and human-rights trampling. It's a thing of beauty, really: hundreds of years of enmity finally set aside in order to recognize that, deep down, they are the same intolerant and close-minded bastards who give religious people a bad name.

  8. Jenny and D-Rock
    I did not think you could get any cooler.
    I was wrong.
    Thank You for being so awesome.


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