Over the years, I’ve given out a lot of advice to you, my dear readers and friends. I think I’ve covered everything from suicide to sexuality to how to argue your point with a Christian. I never set out to do this but I will say it’s a natural extension of who I am and this trait comes from my mother. My mom is the best at giving advice and seeing situations for what they are.
So, in an effort to embrace what I’m good at, I’m going to post an occasional column here that talks about issues you want to the know the answer to. A sort of “Ask Lisa” place that people can look at down the road, because I assure you for every question you’ve asked me, a dozen other people have asked the same one.
Some basics: you can email me (email@example.com), Facebook or tweet to me your question. If you email me, please include “Ask Lisa” in the subject line and a keyword on what it’s about (depression, religion, fundamentalism, etc.). Example: Ask Lisa about depression. You can include a story or anecdote, just make sure you’re okay with it being posted online.
As a rule I won’t use your real name, but if you would include your state or country of residence, that would be great.
Your identity will never be revealed but please note that your emails WILL be published. All identifying names will be removed and replaced with fake names.
Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, an initiative to bring awareness to diversity and acceptance of people in the world regardless of sexual orientation. Find out more here or just share this (or your own words) on your Facebook or Twitter page.
Yesterday was another sad day for our nation. A shooting occurred in a high school when the gunman walked into class late and shot a young man who had bullied him. This story hits close to home because it was the high school I attended. Many of my former teachers are still there inspiring students and my own peers are now teachers there.
As it turns out, one of the heroes in the story is a high school friend’s older brother who now works there, too, and he was the teacher responsible for talking the shooter out of firing the rest of his reported twenty additional rounds.
(Taft Union High School teacher and hero: Ryan Heber)
My thoughts go out to Bowe Cleveland, the reported victim and his family. Latest reports say that Cleveland was critically wounded but is in stable condition.
The good news in this wretched story is that police response time was 60 seconds and a SWAT team was on campus quickly, as well. I heard about it on Facebook at 9:24 a.m. and the gun was already reported confiscated at that time. This makes me proud of my little hometown. Way to go, Taft!
I was just checking out a fellow blogger’s book launch party pictures on Facebook. We met somewhere online and had some discussion, and then like many online acquaintances, were forgotten. She wrote a sweet book about nice life lessons, or something. Her book launch party was sweet and peaceful and it got me thinking about the book I’m writing. Do books like mine (about cults) get book launch parties? Or do we, the authors of books on cults, put on bullet proof vests and try to avoid religious nut cases coming to get us?
Maybe a book launch party isn’t such a great idea.
I’m in a few groups on Facebook that are for surviving cult members or various similar topics. One friend posted a link to this article and asked us: “To what degree would you say [your group] manifests “the three perfect-storm characteristics of a religious authoritarian culture: They have a strict, social hierarchy; they are unusually fearful; and they are socially separatist?”"
Janet Heimlich goes on to describe the culture as: ”Members tend not to be just casual worshipers. Rather, they strongly identify themselves by their faith.”
I’ve always identified Master’s Commission (MC) as operating as authoritarian, but most specifically the extreme version of it: totalitarian. While this term is usually applied to governments and political movements, I think a case can be made for MC. Totalitarianism is a system ran by strict authority, but instead of having an unlikeable figure-head, there’s a leader who is very charasmatic and likeable. A cult of personality, as Wikipedia describes it:
Personality cults were first described in relation to totalitarian regimes that sought to radically alter or transform society according to radical ideas. Often, a single leader became associated with this revolutionary transformation, and came to be treated as a benevolent “guide” for the nation without whom the transformation to a better future couldn’t occur. This has been generally the justification for personality cults that arose in totalitarian societies of the 20th century, such as those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Continue reading →
I wrote The Feminist Yawn and received enough responses to realize I’d offended some of the feminist community, but what I didn’t expect was my broad generalizations would hurt someone I’d grown close with while collaborating for months on feminist projects. And for that, I’m sorry.
The response I wrote to feminism was mainly over two issues: UniteWomen.org and Daniel Tosh. When I blogged, “I’d been a moderator on one of the larger groups on Facebook for women’s rights (and enjoyed it) and had been involved in a growing women’s group, which I later found to be full of growing scandal/greed,” the latter part of that statement is directed at UniteWomen.org. I’d read a really powerful response by a woman of color who attended the UniteWomen rally and left disappointed. Although her post had to do explicitly with race, I felt utterly disappointed by UniteWomen, as well. For months, I felt women had so much momentum politically and UW came in and dismantled it all with their desire to be the lead group for the moment. They wanted to build a grass-roots movement and be the front-runner, and they did. However, they immediately proved to be utterly disorganized, to make excuses for not uniting women, and they treated individual state groups with disrespect. I became infuriated with UniteWomen and how they had selfishly redirected all of the energy some of us had worked so hard in gaining within the movement toward their personal agendas.
I know this because I was collaborating for months with women doing our own grass-roots movement online. I’d gotten a lot of friends politically charged and we were all moving forward. I’m not quite sure what happened to me, but I felt I needed to take a back seat, despite enjoying the work. There were too many other groups who needed help and wanted me to join in a leadership position and to be honest, I was getting pulled by a few of them very strongly. I’d enjoyed working with my friend J. and we’d become very close, but I had a difficult time saying no to other groups and requests for my leadership skills. I became overwhelmed.
I joined a UniteWomen group in Southern California before UW started pissing me off. The stateside leadership was wonderful but were not directly related to UW. I loved working with them and they transitioned away from UW and into their own group–a group I like very much. They are hard-working women who put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
And then another group came along around the same time to ask me to be on leadership, which I don’t want to get into personally before speaking with the leader of the group; however, I was a bit taken aback by the personal agenda that steamrolled this group into the mainstream. I was also kind of offended, because I take pride in not using my platform for instances like that, although I could. I don’t believe in exploiting the masses and with UniteWomen’s ability to do that, I was wary of any new group. I was also protective, like an angry mother protecting her brood. I felt like some of us had worked so hard at uniting women and a few opportunists, who hadn’t lifted a finger the whole time, wanted to come scoop them up for their own agendas. That’s NOT why we worked so hard and I felt very frustrated.
My second issue with the feminist community was how quickly we attacked Daniel Tosh. Women writers I respect immediately took to their platform. I was confused over the fact that I personally didn’t agree with Roxanne, because I usually really like her writing. However, I’d been feeling a bit of a disconnect from some of the academic community, and her response seemed very high-tower academic instead of human. The human in me was upset at Roxanne’s response because I felt that she was taking a stance for all of us and leading the feminist community into an army of Tosh.0 haters-as if he were a rapist. Years before this incident, Daniel Tosh had been one of the many comedians I would watch weekly, in my attempt to re-enter the world of pop culture after being isolated from it when I lived in a cult. However base my taste is, I felt personally insulted at everyone’s attacks. Objectivity and rational thinking seemed to go out the window after Roxanne’s article went up and feminists I knew started personally attacking me over my taste in Daniel Tosh’s comedy.
All of a sudden, the community I’d been part of for so many months turned their back on me and attacked me. It wasn’t a good feeling. I suppose that’s when I realized how fickle mobs can be. One minute they love you. The next minute they’re stoning you.
For what it’s worth, I’m still feminist. I’m not feminist in the way my friend Marty is feminist, though. When we were discussing his post, he shared why he was a feminist: “I consider myself a feminist, but that’s just part of being a humanist. It’s okay to be seen as a feminist in my eyes. Just not hysterical, or ranty or attention seeking…”
I’m not a feminist because I’m atheist or humanist nor do I feel it’s fair or accurate to call the feminist community “hysterical” or ranty or attention seeking.
I hope that I represent one feminist well, but I also hope to be seen as an individual. As a former cult member it’s very important for me to have freedom to have my own opinions and taste, even if that means I’m not “part of the group.” I do also hope we can all work together on being objective when we need to be and to think critically instead of jumping onto a bandwagon because it’s popular. Despite our differences of opinion (of which I’m sure there are many), there are a great number of people within the feminist community I admire and enjoy working with. Thanks to one in particular who helped me see that.
For the past few years I’ve been a self-proclaimed radical feminist. I’ve read Bitch magazine, Ms. magazine, Jessica Valenti books and I’ve drawn pictures of pussies eating pussies.
It all started with the introduction to Mary Daly’s book “Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation” where I first heard this: “If God is male, then male is God” and it blew my mind. I’d just left a fundamentalist Christian cult where I’d been a reverend for seven years, but my entire role there was based on when and who I was going to marry and how quickly. So, of course, realizing that the male God was the centralized issue wrong with the world sort of blew my mind. She essentially summed up what I’d been thinking was wrong with the church for years.
After blogging about the loss of my faith and my feminist views, some women I knew looked up to me as a leader in the feminist community. I have written articles about reproductive health and religion and been asked to take leadership roles in state and nationwide feminist groups. Some of these groups, honestly, seemed to be driving one woman’s agenda or attempting to enlarge one or two people’s reputation not an overall goal of liberating oppressed people or increasing diversity within the movement, so I wasn’t interested in feeding that. The feminist circle just wasn’t doing it for me lately. I’d been a moderator on one of the larger groups on Facebook for women’s rights (and enjoyed it) and had been involved in a growing women’s group, which I later found to be full of growing scandal/greed. Some women had already written some powerful critiques of the movement, and as I read threads online, I realized this group and feminist leadership/followers were far from enlightened and wouldn’t change. In fact, most of the movement seemed to be ran by materially privileged white women and none of them listened to the women from other cultures. It seemed like the same old disunity of race, class and privileged that feminism had been fighting over for years…and still, no one was listening.
This is the feminism I see today.
It was time for me to start moving away because as I saw it, the amplified voices were only pushing their personal and political agendas.
I’ve recently identified myself as post-human, which I would explain quite simply as a theory based on sci-fi/futurology in which a person admits they are in disunity within him or herself (thus why humans act hypocritical, and why even my writing this is “disunified” or hypocritical) but continues to pursue intellectual knowledge and maintains objectivity as much as possible.
Our feminist dialogue isn’t objective and it’s not intellectually rigorous. (More on this later by a friend of mine who is doing fantastic research on the bias within feminist journalism.)
This has been illustrated by the internet gang bang that occurred recently with the Daniel Tosh he said/she said fiasco which erupted into a full scale tirade against men everywhere. bell hooks criticized “rape culture” and ample information can be found online that the rape culture is over exaggerated by misused or wrong statistics. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Rape culture may be exaggerated…
Although I do not condone rape, no one was raped by Daniel Tosh…’s joke. End of argument for me. I like Tosh.0.
I’ve been a blogger for almost two years. When I first “came out” as an atheist, I started with a broad statement “I’m not a Christian anymore.” I realize that was a little ambiguous but it’s okay to sort out your faith or loss of faith as you go, piece by piece, day by day. There’s no right way to become an atheist.
I immediately ran to all the atheist communities online, hoping to find…I’m not sure what I wanted to find-answers, new bff’s, deep discussions? I visited just about every atheist online community, including the assholes on reddit.com/r/atheist (and they are truly assholes), and landed in Think Atheist. I liked it the best, but my interest faded with time. All of the communities serve a purpose, but few people had stories like mine (former reverends join a coercive religious group; minister for seven years; can’t date, etc.) so it was difficult to find people to relate to. I started blogging more about being atheist and as it turns out there were a lot of agnostic or atheist or skeptic friends on my Facebook, so that ended nicely for me.
Blogging is something that requires you to categorize yourself and label yourself, mostly so people can find your expertise or opinions in the vast sea of blogs. Of course when I came out, I wanted to rush to label myself as atheist…because I was.
How did everyone else do it? Oh, big red A’s?
Ew.To be honest, those red A’s that everyone puts on their blogs are just tacky. And then there’s the rumors of Richard Dawkins being sexist. I’m feminist before I’m anything because I left the church for being so damn confining and oppressive to WOMEN, so when I heard that, I definitely wasn’t a fan and won’t be wearing the Dick Dawkins red A or anything related to him.
Plus, my writing is much more comprehensive than just atheism and I think that’s what I don’t get about the atheist community. Aren’t we people with a wide range of talents and interests? Why just stick to one single subject daily? It’s almost as boring as Christianity and the same old recycled sermons. Yawn. I would bore myself to tears if that’s all I wrote about everyday. To be honest, I started this blog to get my story out and I’ve attracted quite a large amount of Christians. We don’t necessarily get along all the time, because they don’t like my profanity or my attitude, but I still try to find a way to offer them resources because I realize they are hurting because the person they trusted most (a clergy person) abused them or misused them.
I get it, the word atheism is a label and sometimes that’s important. But there’s something important to me about the ability to change and be flexible, especially after being so tightly wound as a fundamentalist. When people ask me if I’m an atheist I like to say that I can be agnostic, atheist and anti-theist all in a weeks time. If I ever become comfortable with medication meditation or something spiritual in nature, then I’d like to explore that without another label being in the way (living life as a “I love Jesus. Do you?” Christian will do that to you).
You never know what friending nice people on Facebook is going to do. I found some beautiful Alaskan friends to befriend this week and WAM. All of a sudden I’m a witch! I’m corrupting them! Their “pastor” is emailing them to delete me and stay away or they will be operating in the demonic.
Let me tell you a little something about Alaska–I love it. It’s wonderful. My parents live there a few months out of the year doing the same thing the guys on Bering Sea Gold do. Or, as I like to call it, My dad is a mothafuckenbadass. [Yes, he spends 12 hours a day scuba diving in the Bering Sea looking for gold. That's the ocean, folks.]
But oh yes, back to Psycho Pastor. His name is Ron Pratt. He’s a graduate of the same Master’s Commission I went to with Lloyd Zeigler.
Lloyd Zeigler, Heart of Gold–look at that FACE
Now Ron Pratt-ie Poo lives in Alaska and runs “This Generation Ministries.” Translation: he’s bat shit crazy. Well, I don’t know, you be the judge. Here’s his photo.
Note the “John 3:16″ hat. No big deal.
So, then there’s this one. Which is fun:
Because clearly, he’s Israeli and the members of their army wear beanies, right? Oh, he’s American. And he’s not Jewish? Hmm, that’s curious. Very, very curious.
Oh right! He’s one of those Christian Fundamentalist TERRORISTS! Gotcha. :0) It all makes sense now, honey.
My favorite pictures, though are these. They really show the love of Jesus.
Behold, the Lord, a MAN
Hey Guys, I killed this moose.
I’m so bad, I make dead bears drip blood from their mouths. Oh, and JESUS.
Getting off track. Because really, it’s way too fun to make fun of dirty assholes. Online.
I heard through the grapevine that Ron was an abusive minister. Bossy, controlling, manipulative, etc. I was concerned. But minded my own business, until he sent THIS message to someone who friended me on Facebook. Again, it’s a friend request sent and accepted. We’re not married. From Ron to ‘friend’:
Hey I don’t expect you to reply, but here goes… I see you became “friends” with Lisa Kerr… do you know her? I would doubt that you really do. I’m not sure where you are spiritually, as I have been disconnected from you awhile, but if you align yourself with people like her, then your name will be aligned with her beliefs. She is full of anger, hate and operating in witchcraft…
I would hope that is not you… If you line up with those attacking the Spirit, then you also will be seen as one who will embrace the demonic.
I believe in your calling and in you!
Emphasis my own, because of course I’d like to point out HOW AWESOME it is that he said I was operating in witchcraft! All the best womenz are! Duh! Burn those bitches! Rush Limbaugh called them sluts! Whores they are!
But I digress (yes, that one is for YOU)
Here’s what I sent to happy pants, psycho animal KILLER Ron:
I’ve heard some rumor that you have been telling some folks what to do up there in Alaska. I really need you to cut that shit out. That’s not what God has called you to do. That is abusive behavior, controlling and manipulation. Signs of an abuser. You’re on my radar, friend and I know I’m on yours.
Lisa Kerr www.mycultlife.com
After all, I had to live up to my “witch” reputation.