Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Too much religion?

Most of us have heard about the young man who went on a shooting rampage in Colorado, killing several young people at a missionary training center, and later on at a church. Such episodes have happened before, and we usually chalk it up to the shooter being mentally ill or "troubled", call it a tragedy, and then move on.

Well, any time we lose a life, and especially a young life, it IS a tragedy. But there is more to this story than just that. The shooter was raised in what the media reports as a "very, very religious" family. He was homeschooled (which is done by many fundamentalist Christians in an attempt to shield their children from the temptations of the world). He was taken to church at every opportunity, and probably taught to read the Bible daily, pray daily, put everything "in God's hands", etc.

Yet, the most recent reports claim that the young man was tossed out of the very missionary program where he committed the fist murders, seemed to have little motivation to attend or finish college, and had been posting anti-Christian rants online for months prior to the attacks, such as this one:

"You Christians brought this on yourselves," Murray wrote, according to the station, which did not identify the site. "All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world."

Obviously, that strict religious upbringing and the isolation from outside influences did NOT prevent this young man from developting serious mental problems, or from becoming a killer. In fact, it forces me to wonder if that kind of upbringing isn't EXACTLY what led to this tragedy.

Many Christian fundamentalists claim that it is our "sinful" world which leads to such horrible tragedies. They argue that living a "Godless" life causes depression, cynicism, and even mental illness, and that it is this which causes people to behave in all sorts of inappropriate ways, up to and including going on shooting rampages. They think that by isolating (from the secular world) and sheltering their own children from those "influences" (like secular television programming and music, or public education), they can prevent such things from affecting the way their kids think and behave.

But as has been shown over and over again, many children raised in such strictly religious environments become even more rebellious than the average teen - turning away from the religion, the family, and in some extreme cases, from society and sanity as well. It seems to me that this current incident is another example of that - a young man who was raised in a strict and perhaps overly devout Christian family who ended up hating the religion he was raised with, and lashing out in the most brutal way against those who still follow it.

Everyone needs a sense of balance in their life, and I think this incident shows us exactly why it's so important.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Parenting Gone Horribly Wrong

Several news stories have been posted about Megan Meier, the 13 year-old girl who committed suicide after being rejected by a "boy" she thought was her friend. Turns out the boy wasn't a boy - or even a real person. It was a hoax, perpetrated by the MOTHER of another young girl that used to be friends with Megan.

Various reports have noted that the woman, Lori Drew, who is 47 years old, created the character of Josh specifically for the purpose of befriending Megan (who had recently broken off her friendship with Ms. Drew's daughter) and finding out what (if anything) Megan was saying about the Drew child. The Josh persona spent several weeks chatting with Megan until she felt she had formed a close friendship with him. Then, apparently without warning, the false Josh turned on Megan, saying he wanted nothing to do with her and accusing her of being mean to her other friends. A short time later, a sobbing Megan (who was being treated for depression already) retreated to the closet in her bedroom and hung herself.

It boggles my mind that any parent, let alone a woman nearly in her 50's, would do something so cruel and vindictive to a child. What is even more disturbing is that Lori Drew KNEW that Megan had emotional problems and was being treated with antidepressants. Yet it apparently never occurred to this so-called adult that her actions might exacerbate the child's problems, or lead to a disasterous result. And, as the article above points out, the woman doesn't even seem to show any remorse for her part in driving this child to suicide.

I am forced to wonder if Ms. Drew is stupid, ignorant, uneducated, trying to relive her own chidhood, or simply too busy trying to be her own daughter's "friend" to remember her only real job was to be a parent - and a good example. Personally, I'd like to see her lose custody of her own child, before she corrupts her daughter's morals and behavior any further. If I were her husband, I'd have already filed for divorce - and custody.

Unfortunately, whatever motivated this woman to do something so irresponsible and stupid, her actions were not illegal. Immoral, unethical, inhumane and inexplicable - yes. But not illegal - at least not yet. The local authorities are actively making new laws to address such situations, and I'm sure this will be looked at by both state and federal lawmakers as well.

Honestly, I would consider what this woman did to be tantamount the emotional abuse of a child, which either is, or should be, a crime. If she had treated her own daughter that way, she would likely have found her daughter being taken away by the authorities. But it would seem that there is no punishment for emotionally abusing someone else's child.

Here's my question though... should we need laws to force us to behave in responsible and ethical ways? I would like to think the answer is that we don't... but then a story like this comes along and makes me wonder if such juvenile and unconscionable behavior by someone who was well beyond "old enough to know better" is a fluke, or proof that humankind has not evolved as much as we'd like to think.

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EzineBlog.org - reciprocal links for your site

I came across a reference to EzineBlog.org yesterday, and their offer to help increase your site's page ranking and traffic. I decided to give it a try.

EzineBlog is offering to give a free linkback to anyone who posts a review of their site along with a link to them. They claim to have a Top 100 page rank in Technorati. When I checked last night, EzineBlog was rated at 13, but those ranks are pretty fluid, so the claim may be an average over time, rather than a snapshot on any given day.

In exchange for your review, they promise to put up a post featuring your site and list your site on their "Cool Blogs" page. So, here I am, writing this review. I don't know how well it will work yet, but I will keep track and let you know as soon as I do. If I see a big traffic (or ranking) increase at once, I'll post about it. I will also track the traffic over a week and a month, comparing it with what I'm getting from other sources (not much yet, but this blog is still pretty new), and then write another review to let you know the results.

Oh, by the way - the folks over at EzineBlog don't just offer free traffic generation. The blog has some interesting articles to read too! One article I enjoyed was from last August, in which they point out that President Bush is likely to beat the old record for the most vacation time taken by a sitting President (previously held by Ronald Reagan). Another is about the British Ministry of Defense effectively gagging it's soldiers by restricting them from participating in blogs, interviews, surveys, and even online gaming if there is any chance it might lead to them saying anything about their experiences in the military. Even the soldier's text messages are restricted and require "permission".

So check out EzineBlog.org. It's worth a visit!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mirror posts

I recently started an account with BlogRush (see their widget on the right). I created the account for this blog, but then realized that I wanted to go with a blogging program that allowed for different categories, since I planned to blog on many different topics (politics, religion, news items, an online game I moderate, and product reviews). So I created a new blog with TypePad, which does offer categories.

Unfortunately, BlogRush has not approved my second blog - yet. It may be simply that the new blog is too new. So, for now, I will maintain both blogs. I will do the bulk of my postings on my TypePad blog, but I will copy those that I feel are most relevant to this blog as well. Those that are copied will have a small disclaimer at the bottom so you, the reader, will know it appears in both locations.

Here is the link to my TypePad blog (which I will also add to the side menu here):

I hope that you will visit both, as there will be additional content accumulating in Moe's Musings.

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State-sanctioned marriage - is that really what we want?

Conservatives are funny people. One of their most prolific claims to fame is that they oppose big government, socialism in any form, and any intrusion on the privacy of the average American. Or so they claim...

But the truth is, they only oppose those things when it benefits them (as in not providing government benefits to the poor, preventing a national health care program that would cover all Americans, etc.). Mostly their opposition coincides with their estimation of what such government-run programs might cost them in taxes (which is usually much higher than what the reality would be).

However, they don't complain when the government intrudes on one of our most highly valued rights of passage - marriage. In fact, they actually advocate for stricter government regulation of what should be a very private and personal choice made by the individual, without government influence or oversight.

In Monday's NY Times, Stephanie Coontz writes an interesting review of the history of marriage regulation, and shows quite clearly that in today's world, a marriage license can no longer be used as a yardstick for determining one's duties and responsibilities, familial connections, or financial obligations.

I agree completely with Ms. Coontz's stance on this issue. Marriage should be a matter of personal choice, and should be based solely on the couple's level of affection, commitment, and willingness to share a life together. No one should need a "license" to marry, which is tantamount to having to ask for the government's permission to spend your life with the person of your choice.

Rather than having to apply for a license prior to marriage, couples should be able to register their union with the local government AFTER they have taken their vows. In this manner, there is a legal recording of the marriage (and all its obligations) and a method to ensure that neither party is a minor child or close blood relative - but without anyone having to ask the state's "permission" to get married in the first place.

This would, of course, effectively end the debate over same-sex marriage, as couples (regardless of gender) would not have to have a license to get married. And that would not be very palatable to the conservatives, who apparently don't mind the government sticking it's nose into our private lives, as long as it serves their political agenda.

**Note: This article first appeared at: http://themindofmoe.typepad.com/moes_musings/

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