Monday, March 31, 2014

Timberlake Christian, Hypocrisy, and Sucking

I attended public school for 2 years. When it was time for second grade, my mom taught me at home--actually work because she was a single mom and her employers cared about the both of us and allowed her to teach me and work full time. I had my own office downtown at her job and it was really a unique situation.

Then it was time for High School. Public school was out of the question for me so Mom shopped around for a private school. After prayer and pamphlets, mom decided the best place for me would be New Covenant Schools. It was probably one of the best decisions ever made for me on her behalf and my own.

Listen, I never had any sexual orientation confusion, but I was the daughter of a single, divorced, female pastor. I know what it's like to be different in the world of Fundamentalists. I have seen their sexism, their racism, their judgment, fear, and ignorance face to face for over 25 years. I attended camp with them, school with them, and of course, church with them. I visited a local, popular Baptist church at age 14 and although I had never dated, I overheard a PARENT call me a slut because I wore makeup--and I'm guessing because I had breasts which were hidden under a T-Shirt but present all the same.

I was a shy and quiet child like my mom had been. But puberty, like that fabled fairy stealing incisors in the night, whisked away my timid nature and by the time I was 13, I found myself in the head master's office of a private school wearing urban garments and asking if they had enrolled any black students that year.

I wish I still had the picture of me showing off how I planned to wear my uniform. It was 1993 that The SCrew started to manifest in the womb of a young, defiant mind.

I welcomed the opposition. I spoke up and I defended damn near everything. It was the way I looked--my makeup, long hair, clothing. It was my denomination. It was my mother. My music. My movies. But I chose to be different. I chose to change a few beliefs. New Covenant taught me to do that. The staff were present through my issues. They didn't let me slide. Some were adverse to my mother being a pastor and I knew that. But it didn't matter--they loved me and I knew it and they taught me how to think for myself.

If you want more stories about being different in High School you can ask my best friend Danielle. She has way better stories than I do because she was a horrible bitch and no one liked her.

Just kidding, Danielle. Kind of.

Now, if you don't want to read any of the above, here are my three main points:

1. Private Fundamentalist Schools are not created to cater to your personal preferences.

They are available at your own cost to instruct a very specific set of boundaries and guidelines. You can sign the admission slip without reading the fine print. But the print is not really all that fine. If you want your child to have a Fundamentalist Christian education you are willfully accepting a few standards that are not reflective of what is generally accepted as fair or agreeable to our culture. Beliefs atypical to Fundamentalist Christianity are that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, homosexuality is a sin, traditional sex roles are preferable and desirable (wife submit to husband, have children, stay at home) although not mandatory (except that women submit to their husbands and cannot be pastors), and, although the unofficial doctrine has eased up in the last few decades, you will still commonly find that tattoos, piercings, rock music, dancing, anything related to liberalism, Hollywood, and generally looking or being different from what appears as "godly" is frowned upon. Many of these rockabilly, hippy churches are all about looking like what the church used to call a sinner and being super non-confrontational about sin, but if you cornered them, they might actually have to admit they believe some of these things as well. If you think your super-awesome hipster church is politically correct, ask the pastor what he believes about any of these things out right.

2. You are as much a hypocrite as Fundamentalists.

Speaking of asking people stuff outright, if you asked me outright what I thought about Timberlake Christian I would offer that I would never, ever send my child there. I would never, ever send them to any other Baptist affiliated school either. I would send my child to the private school that I attended or public school before I would send them to Timberlake. My reasoning for this is that people don't generally change all that much and the majority of people who send their kids to Timberlake, in the scenario that I've created in which I have a child, I go by SCrew Lucy, wear costumes, and lived with a man who's an atheist for six years before I got married, would not be the most friendly place for my child to receive an education. Fundamentalist women typically don't like me all that much for exactly the same reason I was called a slut in church at 14--I wear makeup, my boobs are too big, my mouth is too big, my personality is too big, and I'm generally just scary and intimidating. It is for this reason I have generally never dated Christian men and never had Christian girlfriends unless they're Methodist or Episcopal or black (because they're big and scary too). But I'm getting off point.

As you may glean from the above paragraph, I am judging Fundamentalists. I know a few families that send their kids to this school. Their kids love it. Their kids are awesome and I love them. But it obviously hasn't changed my perception of Fundamentalists in general because Fundamentalists have been jerks to me and to people I love for a very long time. I have read the comments on the websites and news sites. Timberlake Christian was condemned before they even had their say. There are two sides to every story. If you're already on one side then forget about being impartial. And that is what is way scary to me. We are a polarized nation full of finger pointers and blind eyes. I don't like the school but by god, they have the right to suspend or kick-out students for whatever reasons they see fit and the only reason this story is getting publicity is because it involves gender confusion. Kids get kicked out of private and public schools all the time for many different reasons that I would consider absurd and there is no story about it.

The child is undoubtedly being judged because of her appearance AND because of her family life--by both staff and children. But she also obviously has friends and support there since she is "crying to go back" every day. Does that sound like the story is one sided? Is it even possible that she finds some comfort and stability at the school because the same standards that cause unpleasant feelings by someone less leave-it-to-beaver also impose qualities that are desirable to a child--or an adult--whose life has been unfortunate?

3. Everyone Sucks.

Gays suck. Women suck. White men suck. Republicans suck. Children suck. You can be aghast at any of these statements but they are totally true and you say things every day to back them up you just don't say them in public or to the wrong person and that's because you my friend suck as much as they do. I have met someone in any and every one of those categories who sucks and I continue to meet people who suck weekly. Sucking includes but is not limited to: being mean, being irritating, stealing from me, committing crimes that involve my property, driving too slow in traffic, talking loudly at movies, stomping around on your hardwood floors at 3 AM, using your SNAP card in line with coupons and 3 screaming children, not tipping a really awesome waitress because you're cheap, leaving her a Christian tract instead, leaving your pee on the toilet seat (or any other fluid) and not flushing, chewing your food while talking on the phone, and assuming.

All of you have sucked and I suck too.

I know you hate to hear it but you likely jumped on a side in this story and said hateful things to others about facts and circumstances you really don't know anything about. Liberals do it to Conservatives. Blacks do it to whites. Women do it to men. Christians do it to atheists.

Two more things.

My best friend who went to private school with me was the only person I saw comment that she simply wanted to hear both sides at the very beginning. And she often wants to hear more to the story and investigate. I have seen her do this on issues that she very much wants to agree with but feels driven to receive all the information. I'm proud of her for that and I believe it shows her good upbringing and her superior education--at a gracious, loving private school.

This little girl has been made a political paradigm which will probably add to the issues she already has and will have, that have nothing to do with her gender. It is pointless of me to share what I've heard about what was possibly really going on with her issues at school because you've either made up your mind that Timberlake was totally unfair and bigoted or this little girl should be penalized for having problems that stem from a multitude of problems that are not her fault. And both of those accusations, in my opinion, are unwarranted and silly.

I have often observed that the powerful and desirable qualities I possess are the very features that make me undesirable to some demographics--including religious people. I have considered that the people we hate or avoid are the people who would benefit from the differences that cause separation. Liberals and conservatives, atheists and Christians, they all preach love and acceptance and rarely practice it to par. We are ungracious, bitter, fearful, proud, envious, and accusing. But it's far simpler to identify the problem in others while denying any ownership of the above for ourselves.

It is interesting that this news piece centers around alleged identity crisis.

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