Mah spiritual needz!

Since this came up in comments on my previous post, I thought I’d regale readers with the tale of that one time I had a so-called nondenominational cleric and self-proclaimed “spiritual counselor” approach me during chemo.

Yes, some pasty-faced white d00d in a somber black suit and white collar straight out of central casting came by my station, introduced himself as a “spiritual counselor” and handed me his business card:

Yes that’s right: an official Staff Chaplain was here to help me with aaaaall mah spiritual counseling needz! Whoo-hoo!

Now, contrary to my fearsome reputation as a raging, fire-breathing, anti-theist terrorist*, I do not generally begrudge my free fellow Americans their own personal supernatural fantasies and frivolities, except for when I do absolutely and unequivocally begrudge them. For instance, when they see fit to inflict said fantasies and frivolities upon myself or others by force of law or otherwise. And I have a particularly dismal opinion of clergy, whom I hold in the very lowest esteem for many reasons, including the fact that they are either primary vectors for spreading all manner of hellish evils and deadly nonsense here in the US and around the world, or at best apologists therefor. Also, in my experience clergy are, without exception, all. flaming. narcissists.

And yet, believe it or not, I was SUPER NICE to the Staff Chaplain! We had a looong chat wherein I pretended to be interested in his theological education and its flavor of supernaturalism: some kind of Protestant Christian (*omg yawn*). Then I asked him about his chaplaining philosophy and experience: “oh, it’s non-denominational,” he answered. Why, he could provide me with Buddhist spiritual counseling, even! He said so when I pressed, and I pretended to be impressed.

This “conversation,” if we can call it that, went on and on AND ON, more or less in the form of a monologue, with just a few little prompts and prods here and there from me: his utterly captive audience, attached at the chest to slowly draining IV bags via a one-inch needle recently pierced into a surgically implanted port.

But this part was expected. Just ask any run-of-the-mill narcissist to talk about themselves, then sit back and behold the MEEEEEE that pours forth without end.

Once I was sure he was enjoying himself thoroughly, I pounced. I asked him ever so sweetly about, you know, his actual counseling qualifications. Any certifications? None. Academic degrees in psychology? None. Clinical social work? None. Perhaps institutional internships or residencies as a counselor? None. Any actual license to practice counseling in New York State? None.

NONE.

“Huh,” I said cooly, and pretended to be disappointed. Hurt, even.

By this point his hackles were visibly rising, but yet he looked torn. I mean, I had only moments ago been such a delightful, rapt and eager listener, so generous with my encouraging wide eyes, “uh-huhs” and a few tactical “wows.”

I waited a beat – and yes, I admit I enjoyed watching him squirm – then casually dropped the “Well, I’m atheist” bomb. “But I am sooo interested in discussing religion and spirituality with you! I’ve got nothing but time to kill here!”

The Staff Chaplain seemed taken aback for a second, maybe two. Then he very quickly offered up some banal farewell pleasantries, and oh man, this d00d was out the door of the chemo suite in a streaky black blur. Oh well. I guess nobody else locked up to hideous poisons drip drip dripping into their fragile veins was in need of spiritual counseling that day?**

Listen, as far as I’m concerned, amusing myself by toying with a clergyperson while I’m quite literally stuck getting chemo? Now that is addressing mah spiritual needz!

I never once saw him again at the hospital, despite being a frequent flyer. Or maybe he just saw me first.

__________
*Okay, so maybe I am a hopeless raging, fire-breathing, anti-theist terrorist. But I prefer to think of myself, at least in this instance, as a raging, fire-breathing, anti-theist Cheshire Cat.

Sir John Tenniel's hand-colored proof of Cheshire Cat in the Tree Above Alice for The Nursery "Alice"

**Yes I know, there were religious/spiritual/nondenominational/whatever patients lining the long wall of the chemo suite right along with me. But Iris, don’t they deserve access to an official Staff Chaplain to comfort them if they so desire? HOW COULD YOU BE SO AWFUL?!!! Indeed, I myself have said before, not coincidentally to my therapist, and also to my much-missed dear friend and FtB colleague Caine, cancer treatments are trauma. Full stop.

But no. No, my fellow patients most certainly do not deserve this. And I’ll tell you why in my next post.

PETITION to UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser: cover birth control co-pays.

via UltraViolet:

Trump just announced he will take away free birth control from up to 55 million women, claiming it promotes “risky sexual behavior.”

How ’bout you worry about controlling your own sexual behavior, and I worry about mine.

Asshole.

Women use birth control for everything from calming menstrual cramps to family planning to managing crippling pain from endometriosis. In fact, sex becomes a lot riskier without access to birth control.

Gosh, ya think?

This is just the latest attempt by the Trump administration to pander to right wing extremists who want to sabotage women‘s health care.

FIFY. You’re welcome.

The good news is that we can still save free birth control for millions of women who need it. Insurance companies benefit from covering the co-pay–in part because birth control is vastly cheaper than childbirth or endometriosis treatment. Let’s make sure that every single health insurance company, starting with three of the biggest–UnitedHealthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser–hears from us right away.

Can you sign the petition and help pile the pressure onto insurers to continue to cover birth control?

__________

Under a capitalist healthcare system, rights and access are dependent on a profit motive. Not on what is moral and good and the right thing to do. Not on laws or constitutions. Certainly not on the best health care practices. So we must desperately appeal to the bottom line of a parasitic, profit-driven industry, one whose notorious and egregious abuses are legion, and which in any sane and just society would not even fucking exist.

But here we are. Please sign and signal boost the petition if you are willing and able.

THANK YOU.

Whose pain matters?

Since there are currently no pressing problems facing our great nation, the US House of Reprehensibles has just passed HB 36, a national ban on abortions after 20-weeks. Charmingly entitled “The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” the legislation would force a pregnant patient who is carrying a fetus that is dead, dying, or incompatible with life to carry it to term and give birth, unless the patient is in grave danger of death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

According to reality, fetuses are not capable of feeling pain until at least 28 weeks. But since conservatives are highly allergic to reality, perhaps Your Liberal Media™ might helpfully report on this egregious tripe from another angle. Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that a fetus is indeed capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks.

SO FUCKING WHAT?

You know what’s really painful? Giving birth. (So I’ve heard – I personally dodged that bullet thank Vishnu.) I would like my legislator to promptly propose a bill entitled The Pain-Capable Pregnant Person Protection Act, which provides free abortions on demand to anyone who wishes to avoid the pain of childbirth. The bill should have no problem passing in this congress, seeing how the majority is so concerned about sparing citizens from painful medical procedures.

This is funny, right?

I just received a “news” alert from our good friends at The Washington Post, and LOL’d.

Trump changes course and tells senators to stay in Washington to finish health-care bill

Hoping to avoid a humiliating political defeat, President Trump on Wednesday demanded that Republican senators resume their efforts to approve a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, insisting that lawmakers are “very close.”

Umm, failing to repeal and/or replace the ACA is the very least of Trump’s “humiliating” political defeats. And I hate to be the one to break it to him (lol no I loooove it) but in the United States Senate, “very close” is NOT the same thing as “winning a majority of votes.”

“People should not leave town unless we have a health insurance plan, unless we give our people great health care,” Trump said at the beginning of a lunch with GOP senators at the White House. “We’re close, very close… We have to hammer this out and get it done.”

YES! We’re soooo close to everyone having the Greatest Health Care That Ever Health Cared! Let’s git ‘er done!!!

The president’s effort to resurrect negotiations came a day after he declared it was time to give up on the contentious process to overturn President Obama’s signature legislative achievement and “let Obamacare fail.”

*snort* *snort* *snicker* BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

A day after giving up on it. Well I for one cannot wait to hear the president’s position on healthcare legislation tomorrow. Or perhaps Friday?

Ooh! Ooh! I hope it’s single payer!

I guess these are the conservatives with whom we’re supposed to “compromise”? Haha no.

[CONTENT NOTE: graphic descriptions of fetal remains and menstrual blood; no images.]

Via Rewire:

Texas Officials to Force Burial, Cremation of ‘Fetal Remains’

Texas health officials on Monday filed the final version of proposed rules requiring the remains of aborted or miscarried fetuses to be buried or cremated, despite criticism from funeral homes, abortion providers, and reproductive rights advocates.

The regulations will apply to all fetal remains, regardless of the period of gestation when the miscarriage or abortion occurred.

O.o

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 2: NOPE.

(Part 1 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while Dr. Coyne communicates some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 1: YES!

In February Jerry Coyne delivered the British Humanist Association’s annual Darwin Day Lecture in London. For those unfamiliar, Coyne is an evolutionary biologist, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and the author of Why Evolution is True (which I have read) and Faith vs Fact (which I have not). He is a fierce critic of creationism and a fiery proponent of atheism; he blogs prolifically about these and other topics at Why Evolution Is True.

I genuinely like Jerry Coyne. He comes across as knowledgeable and affable, the kind of person I’d really enjoy sitting next to at a dinner party. Of course that doesn’t mean I agree with him all of the time, and in fact his annoying propensity to shit all over straw feminists is fucking exasperating (more on that in Part 2), as is his comical obliviousness to his own privilege (more on that later too).

But hey, nobody’s perfect. We can all decide for ourselves who we will expose ourselves to, on which topic(s) and under what circumstances. For example, Richard Dawkins is dead to me, barring his (highly unlikely) resurrection into a state of semi-self-awareness minimally capable of basic human decency and rationality. On the other hand, when a good friend recommends Jerry Coyne’s Darwin Day Lecture to me, I might be inclined to put on my (metaphorical) biohazard suit so as not to get splattered with (metaphorical) shit, and check it out. Those with less privilege are always making such calls: suit up and wade into the muck, or maybe sit this one out. Otherwise we would consistently miss out on some interesting and useful knowledge, and worse, we would hardly ever go to any dinner parties at all.

I get the Spidey-Sense that anyone reading this who is in some marginalized group(s)—i.e., not white, male, straight, cis-, able, etc.—is nodding along with me, because microaggressions are A Thing to which those privileged along these axes tend to remain haplessly oblivious. So I completely respect your making a different call about paying any attention whatsoever to Coyne (or Dawkins or anyone else).

But I found (some of) Coyne’s lecture, entitled Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?, fascinating. Moreover, he provides support for my point in this post, namely that:

there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a robust welfare state (especially quality universal single-payer health care) decreases religiosity, while economic insecurity (with respect to wages, housing, food, etc.) increases it. See, e.g., Phil Zuckerman’s book “Society Without God.” Fiscal conservatism in the form of [American Atheists president] Dave Silverman’s “small government, low taxes, a free market” is entirely antithetical to taking the path most likely to get us to the very outcome he seeks: the death of religion.

I transcribed portions of Coyne’s lecture because I think readers may be genuinely infotained by it, but mainly because I’d like to have an easy link to it in order to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. In case it helps you decide whether to continue reading: I do not allow Coyne’s aforementioned (metaphorical) poo flinging in these portions of the transcript to stand unrebutted, and in any case no poo is flung in Part 1.

Tl;dr:

TRIGGER WARNING: Jerry Coyne.
(especially Part 2.)

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