Category Archives: Life

It’s His Fan Club I Can’t Stand.

“I’ve got nothing against God – it’s his fan club I can’t stand.”

Things I’ve been told recently by girls in my grade prompted me to write a post about the institution of Christianity – but where do I start?

I have not experienced such widespread institutionalised intolerance with any other religion – perhaps because Christianity is the “norm” in Australia – in our legislation, lawmakers, the media, Christianity is evident and considered a common characteristic shared by many Australians. This domination does not take into consideration the large percentage of Australians who are not religious at all – off the top of my head, about 18% (edit: fact checked this, 18.7% of Australians marked “no religion” on the 2006 census) – nor does it consider those of other faiths. This continued stranglehold that the institution of Christianity has over our society is, to me, extremely disturbing. Churches and church schools are exempt from anti-discrimination legislation, which is just horrifying. Nobody should be allowed, by the law, to discriminate in any way – discrimination based on faith, gender, sexuality, personal beliefs, etc, is something a “democratic and fair” country like Australia should not be allowing.

This hatred makes me terribly sad, and the fact that it is so widespread that lawmakers don’t even fight it anymore just depresses me. Our atheist Prime Minister refuses to afford same-sex couples the same marital recognition as heterosexual couples because her “traditional upbringing” dictates otherwise, which is disturbing and to me, irrelevant. Just because something is traditional does not necessarily make it a positive thing. To progress, society needs to be progressive – clinging on to relics of the past, and twisted, ancient ideologies is no way to “move forward”. Same-sex couples are an example everyone jumps to, I know, but it is a relevant issue – Christian values should not dictate how the rest of us live our lives.

I’ve attended a Christian school since the age of 5, and I can assure you, readers, that it has not clarified much for me. I was told Christianity was about love and tolerance, but I see few real world examples of this. Girls in my grade hound a friend of mine for not being religious – they anonymously harass her about her lack of faith, and even ask her online, out of the blue, “why do you hate Jesus?” What I cannot comprehend is, why does it matter to you? With all the agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc in the world, there are billions of people who do not share your beliefs. Why does this personally affect you? Focus on your own faith, and becoming more secure in your beliefs so you don’t need to affirm them by harassing others. N.B. “There is more evidence that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar” is a terribly embarrassing argument to use… it indicates a complete lack of historical knowledge, and undermines your case. Do you see anyone on Earth debating the existence of Caesar? And please note that many non-Christians acknowledge there was a guy wandering around at that time called Jesus. That is not where the issue is – it’s whether or not he is the son of a higher power that’s under question.

This religion, that is supposedly based on love and tolerance, has not indicated that much to me in all my limited years. Apparently, a religious person at my school has mentioned to girls that she thinks that homosexuals are “evil”. How tolerant and loving of her! Totally getting warm feelings of acceptance from her direction. Unfortunately, this attitude is not uncommon amongst “tolerant” Christians – they cover themselves by saying they don’t have anything wrong with the individuals, just the acts they perform. Sorry kids, that doesn’t actually excuse your hatred – and why are Christians so uncomfortable about sex? Are we in Victorian England? Why does it matter to you what people do in the privacy of their own homes? Why does it matter to you if two people of the same sex, who have loving feelings for each other, hold hands in public? How does this impact upon your life in any way? It doesn’t, unless you let it. Your intolerance doesn’t impact on my life until it does – until you’re upsetting people I like, until I can see the bullshit you’re spouting with my own eyes. Then, I say something.

So, why am I not a Christian? I can’t give you a succinct reason. When I was a child, I would pray a lot – pray that my parents, and my cat (laugh away) would be kept safe. Then, my father got cancer, my cat was hit by a car and killed at the age of 3, and my parents got divorced! A lot for a ten year old to handle in a relatively short amount of time. So, my reaction was to reject this God that did not have my back. As I thought about it more and more, though, I asked that big question – “if there is a God, why are there people suffering in the world?” It’s a good question, and one that I’ve never received an adequate answer to. One answer was “God created humans to look after themselves”. He seemed content with intervening when Eve ate that apple?  Not to mention, the more I considered the idea that there was a higher power who created the world, the more I realised this idea made no sense to me. Of course, that aspect of Christianity is not what I am calling into question here – Christianity isn’t the only religion that considers there to be a sort of higher power. My issue is with the institution, and the zealots who support it. For everyone, their beliefs, religious or otherwise, are highly personal. Each of us experiences a sort of “spiritual journey” to reach a conclusion we’re comfortable with, and that journey and the resulting belief is a very personal thing. You feel very strongly about the existence of God, and you feel very strongly about going to church, and those are your beliefs – personal to you. My beliefs are personal to me. Respecting people’s personal beliefs and values would not be a bad idea.

But I digress. The things taught to me in religion lessons at school didn’t help – the stories made no sense to me, and the songs seemed overly manipulative – indoctrination via song! If you can’t get the kids any other way, that’s the way to go, I suppose. The Christians at my school really do not help me think more of their religion – what makes you think that anonymously hounding someone is going to get them to convert religions? What makes you think isolating that individual as an atheist and picking on her is going to make her like your religion more? By all means, isolate me. Pick on me. I’ve been an atheist for eight years now, neither of my parents are religious (though they are extremely educated on religion, probably more so than a lot of the teenaged Christians I’m referring to…), and I’m more than happy to throw down about religion, politics, all those “uncomfortable” topics. But please, do it to my face. Don’t hound me anonymously, like you do with others. That method will earn you no respect, and it does not do your religion justice. To be honest, by doing that, you are embarrassing all the other Christians who do not force their views on others through pathetic methods – those Christians who are comfortable with their beliefs, and recognise that not everyone shares them, but still manage to get on with their lives. It’s amazing! It must be a true struggle for them, managing to do that each and every day. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re mature. A foreign concept to you, I’m sure.

I have no idea where my thoughts are at the moment. I’m annoyed, and unhappy, and unimpressed with how some people are representing their religion. Being intolerant of groups in society, and anonymously harassing your peers, and influencing all aspects of the society I live in does not strike me as loving, or tolerant, or accepting. Why can you not practice what you preach?

Obviously, this does not apply to all Christians. Like I said, many manage to live their lives without hounding others, and they’re good in my books. This does apply to the ones who hold parliaments hostage with their demands (and those who enable them to do so, and bow to their idiotic demands); the ones who anonymously harass teenage girls online because they aren’t religious; the ones who consider those who fancy people of the same sex as them “evil”; the ones who indoctrinate children without providing facts, or other points of view; the ones who persecute teenage girls who like each other. Those are the Christians I have the issue with. I am intolerant of their intolerance – I can’t be tolerant of such hatred; such hatred that is ingrained in our political and educational institutions; such hatred that does not represent a modern society’s views.

“If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.” – Bertrand Russell

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Countdown.

A few pet peeves:

  • When people (I’ll excuse tourists, I mean people who I know are Australian) don’t walk on the left side
  • When drivers don’t signal (it’s not just a pet peeve, it’s a fucking hazard)
  • When people chew loudly in quiet rooms
  • When people force their religious beliefs on others (religion is such a personal thing; shouting and preaching at those who aren’t voluntarily listening will not get you anywhere)
  • When people leave voicemails and don’t leave their name
  • When people openly contradict themselves (if you can’t match your actions to your holier-than-thou attitude, can it)
  • People who are of average build complaining about not being able to fit into clothes… 90% of stores cater specifically to your size…
In other news, life is still good. Organised my party after a few bumps, and unfortunately had to cut down on numbers, but it’s still shaping up to be amazing. The next month and a half will be so busy – open days, award ceremonies, mother daughter dinner, formal, graduation, muck up, study camp, my 18th birthday & party, friends’ 18ths, and then suddenly, the HSC!
I’ve received all of my marks for trials except for extension english. They aren’t great, but that blow is lessened by the fact that it’s the same with pretty much every one. I have great feedback though, so I know exactly which areas I need to work on before October! Right now, however, I’m just enjoying the downtime after the exams – preparing for the end of high school, powering through episodes of Dexter, etc. This downtime is much appreciated after those damn exams – I imagine I’ll be feeling this come November 4th, multiplied by 1000. Not long to go!

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BFF.

I’d honestly love for someone to explain this obsession with ‘best friendships’ to me. Why do some people feel the need to affirm that they have one best friend, and one best friend only? “She’s my number one” or “this is my best friend ___”, every single time the person is brought up. Doesn’t it become tiresome, wearing your insecurities on your sleeve like that? That’s one of the reasons I assume you constantly remind us all of your best friendship – because you’re insecure in that friendship; worried that they don’t feel the same, or worried that we don’t all know. Trust me, we know. We (the we in this being me) don’t care. We’ve heard it enough times. It’s almost the end of high school, so with that end, maybe this obsession with having a best friend can also end. Sure, have your best friends. But there is no need to constantly shove your couple status in everyone else’s faces. To be honest, it looks kind of strange, two people being so co-dependent on each other they may as well enter into a marriage. Few things are more off-putting to me than being eerily similar to another person, simply because they’re my ‘best friend’.

Call me bitter, jealous, because I don’t have a best friend – sure. At this point, I don’t know if I care that much. If you’d asked me 4 years ago if I would rather one true ‘BFF’, or a group of close friends, I would have probably said one true BFF, because that’s what I felt that I had at the time. That didn’t turn out so well, and now I’d probably choose the latter. It’s good to have different people to talk to about different things – I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. It’s risky. People change, grow up, move on – then you’re stuck with half a heart saying “best” while someone’s run off with the half that says “friends”. Sure. Forever.

Just please, stop telling me about your best friend. They can be your soulmate, that’s awesome. My care factor is almost non-existent, and if I hear anything to this effect once more, it will finally be forced to plummet to zero. There are much more important things in the world I care about – really, most thoughts that have ever crossed my mind rank higher on my priority list than hearing you talk about how best your bestie is.

“What kind of ship never sinks? A friendship!” – Anyone who truly believes that has probably never engaged in a friendship. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but really, everything comes to an end. The sooner you all accept that your best friend will not, in fact, be your ‘Best Friend Forever’, the sooner you can start to pay equal attention to those other people who sometimes hang around. Your average ‘friends’, deemed unworthy of that super-special status. Hi.

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Rest in Peace.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you

Who can say if I’ve been 
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you…
I have been changed for good. 

Today, our school learned that one of those among us had passed away. A beloved art teacher passed on early this morning, and the loss of her presence truly is a loss for the world. She was my teacher in years 9 and 10, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a teacher have such strong faith in every single one of her students. She was always there to encourage, and give ideas, and lend a hand, and provide support to those who needed it. Every single day she had a massive smile on her face, greeting everyone she walked past. She truly loved people, I think. I believe she was one of those people who found it hard to see the flaws in individuals – instead, she focused on their brilliant qualities, and tried to nourish those so they become the strongest ones in each person. She had such life within her – she was so quirky, and fascinating, and energetic. To anyone who had her as a teacher, she quickly became a sort of motherly figure – she definitely treated her classes like her children, and she would nurture them as if they really were.

It’s really hard to comprehend that we’ll never see her smiling at us again, or singing happy birthday to us in her operatic way, or going out of her way to make sure we’re okay. With her, it was always others first, then herself. Even when she was sick, she would try and look after everyone else as best as she could. I honestly can’t recall another person I’ve met who’s quite like her – there was so much light in her, even when times seemed to be gravely dark. The world would be a much brighter place with more people like her in it – and without her, it seems just that much darker. I will miss her an awful lot, but I know I’ll never forget her or her personality. The best we can all do, I think, is to try and make our attitudes towards life more like hers.

I saw this poem on my friend Bronwyn’s blog, and as she said, it feels quite appropriate for today.

Between The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning… to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears, 1964-1994
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars… the house… the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

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Here Am I.

I don’t know what it is about this man, but shit, Anis Mojgani’s poems make me want to live. They make me want to speak in cliches, and speak with an overbearing brand of optimism – they make me want to breathe deeply, and live deeply; they make me feel infinite, and infinitesimal; they make me want to live out my life as a permanent quest for self-improvement; they make me want to laugh and cry and dance in the rain and drink round a bonfire and swim at sunset and drive to nowhere – they make me feel all of these things, all at once, like a spark that lights up from the first line, and grows throughout the poem until it ends and I’m left with a raging inferno of emotions. But it’s a nice inferno – an inferno that brings back so many feelings, like feelings of childhood I hadn’t quite held on to, and feelings of nostalgia for a life I haven’t really lived yet, and feelings for all the things I could do, and want to do, and should do.

This poem, “Here Am I”, reaches it’s climax, and I feel the tears building. And it’s rare, because they aren’t sad tears, or angry tears, or even teenage-angsty tears; they’re just tears. Emotions, spilling out of me, forcing themselves out in one of the few ways they know how to force themselves out of me. His words are so beautiful, and so inspirational, and it’s so hard to describe how they make me feel. But that’s okay, because I shouldn’t need to describe it. I want you to feel it, for yourself. I want everyone to feel it, not necessarily from his words, but from something. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s one I need to feel more often. And one of the best bits? They leave a lingering sense of hope behind.

“I was here / I was here motherfucker / And ain’t none of y’all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in / I’m here motherfucker and we all here motherfucker and we all motherfuckers, motherfucker / Because every breath I give brings me a second closer to the day that my mother may die / Because every breath I take takes me a second further from the moment she caught my father’s eye / Because every word I carry is another stone to put into place in the foundation that I’m building / Because the days can erase something that I never saw / What all of us wanted and what none of us got / What we all had and have and what we all forgot / That we all wanted to be something / That we all became something / And it might not be the shit we once though we’d be when we were kids but something is still something and like some cats say, something is better than nothing / Feet are smarter than an engine / And dreams are stronger than thighs / And questions are the only answers we need to know that we are alive as I am when I have the mind of a child, asking why is 2 + 3 always equal to 5 ? / Where do people go to when they die? / What made the beauty of the moon? / And the beauty of the sea? / Did that beauty make you? / Did that beauty make me? / Will that make me something? / Will I be something? / Am I something?

And the answer comes: already am, always was, and I still have time to be.”

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Exciting Things.

I felt it was time for another list of things I’m excited for:

  1. 30th June – Melbourne!
  2. 1st July – Seeing Dan and Bridget
  3. 2nd July – Meetup + Alicia’s 18th + Staying at Alicia’s with Katie
  4. 13th July – Harry Potter midnight screening
  5. 14th July – Abby’s 18th
  6. 12th August – HSC Trials over
  7. 18th August – Extension English 2 done
  8. 20th September – Graduation Evening
  9. 21st September – Muck Up and Graduation Assembly
  10. 23rd September – End of high school classes forever
  11. 30th September – My 18th birthday!
  12. 4th November – End of HSC
  13. 9th November – Leave for Europe: UK -> France -> UK -> France -> Switzerland -> France -> Spain -> France -> Italy -> Austria -> Germany -> Czech Republic -> Germany -> Netherlands -> UK
On number 13: at the wedding on Saturday, Dad mentioned to a relative that there may be a possibility of him meeting me in the UK and the two of us going to Greece together. That would be beyond amazing – I was slightly sad that I wouldn’t be able to go to Greece and visit my family while being so nearby, so I really hope that works out! I’m also hoping my hints about driving around the Mediterranean will embed themselves in his mind; I’m convinced that we could drive from Athens, to the coast, get a ferry to Italy, drive to Naples, visit Capri, and then get another ferry to Spain. Or fly. Something. Anything, really, that will get me to Capri. Such a beautiful island, ugh, I miss it! We all complained for those two weeks, but I certainly wasn’t complaining about the places we visited (minus Pompeii, that was just monotonous after a while…). In my eyes, the more time spent near the Mediterranean, the better – it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to me.

I’m in a generally positive mood for a multitude of reasons, the above potential plan being just one of them. The wedding was lovely, and it was actually nice seeing all those relatives that I hadn’t seen in so long! I’m also very excited for Melbourne – lovely friends, an 18th, alcohol! And I’m not too stressed about trials, because my most recent assessment marks are quite pleasing, so I’m probably developing a false sense of security. But that’s okay, because yay good marks! Not to mention, no school for three and a half weeks (although studying must be done during this time, but never mind that), which is the cherry on top! So content I’m speaking in cliches.

Just hoping this contentedness lasts the week, or better yet, the next few!

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Friends.

After some prolonged moments of pensive thought, I’ve arrived at a conclusion very different from where I started: ‘friends forever’ is a lie. Or a half-truth, if lie is too harsh a word.

The other day, I was reading through this autobiography we had to make for school. At the front, one of our parents was asked to write a foreword, and in the back are messages from our friends. In mine, there are about 7 messages, most of them saying something nice and ending with “Cathy will always be my best friend!” or “I know Cathy and I will stay friends forever!” While the sentiments are appreciated, and I’m sure at the time they were true to some extent, I’ve learned that those sentiments don’t last long. One reason being that you never stay the same as you were at the age of 13. Some lucky people grow together – from childhood to adulthood, from their teenage years to their old age. Those people are indeed truly lucky – to have someone who knows them so well, and knows their past. To have someone they can always lean on, and run to, and call in the middle of the night – that friend who’ll be around, always. Forever.

I’ve definitely had my fair share of ‘best friends’, but they moved on. They grew up, matured, in a different direction, and I suppose for most, that’s inevitable. That definitely didn’t make it less hard, however. And ever since, I’ve proclaimed my feelings on the topic loudly for all to hear: I don’t feel the need for a best friend, I’m content with many close friends. But I think I was kidding myself, really. That feeling of being needed by someone else, of being able to tell another person everything – it’s the friendship equivalent of a long-term relationship, I guess. It’s a great feeling, and that feeling of consistency definitely eases the mind. It’s fairly sad that I don’t feel I have ‘another half’, per se; almost all of my other friends will be graduating this year with one other person to share it with – hey, some even have two people they consider their best friend, their closest confidante, etc. But me? Well, I think my post-graduation plans speak for themselves: finding myself on the fringes once again, I’m travelling alone.

It has meant I’m at peace with being on my own, though. Sometimes, I’ll talk feelings out to others, but mostly I just feel like a burden. I try to work through things by writing them out; writing forces me to organise my thoughts enough so that there’s a structure to them, and it helps. But I digress – what I’m trying to say is, that at least from personal experience, I’ve lost my faith in the belief that friendships last forever. Both past and recent experience have conditioned me to almost keep people at a distance – you let a friend get to know you too well, and you’re vulnerable to pain later on. You’re friends with someone for years, and a tiny issue can spiral out of control and destroy everything you’ve been building up over years of friendship, and it’s awful. It’s an obvious defence mechanism on my part, however – some friendships are definitely worth being that open with someone. And I’ve most likely got friends like that now who deserve that level of honesty, but my self-consciousness always gets in the way; I fear I’m a burden, or that I’m annoying, or a manic-depressive nuisance, or all of the above all at once.

I’m not quite sure that I arrived at the point I was attempting to make to begin with. I think my stance changed halfway through this post. I’d love to think that some friendships can last through anything; however, the fragility of high school friendships has led me to believe otherwise. Who knows. Maybe when we grow up (I refuse to believe that just because we’re turning 18, we are mature), our friendship will stand a better chance. Maybe, eventually, I’ll find a friend who’ll be around forever. Until then, I should just appreciate the few that have made it this far.

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