Wednesday, May 26, 2010

age is just a number

That number could be $3 million (an estimate at what Demi Moore has spent on cosmetic surgery, tho she doesn't like to talk about it)
Or perhaps that number is £6 (what madonna spent to create her own gym) [which leads to another number: 3-6 hours she spends working out every day]
The number might also be the $288 it would take to buy this anti-aging skin care set.
As last resort, $39.99 looks cheap for this anti-aging make-up kit.

Those are the numbers I thought of the other day when I looked through this Fit and Fabulous over 40 gallery.

(OH! the other thing I though about looking at that gallery of beauties: PHOTOSHOP! Hello, here's what Faith Hill has to go through to be RedBook cover ready. Check out more Photoshop horrors.)

These "You-can-still-look-like-you're-20-even-when-you-are-40" spreads that the glossies like to put out make me feel like shit. What's that? They are SUPPOSED to make me feel like shit? So that I will pay them back by buying all the anti-aging shit they sell advertising space for?? (BTW, I love Sarah Haskins and her brilliant dissections of advertising targeting woman.)

Yeah, I'm afraid of aging. I bemoan the wrinkles that are appearing around my eyes and mouth. I DO have a cheap-end stash of anti-aging shit that I pay homage too and one of the reasons I work-out and eat healthy is to try to stay young/cute. I'm not dismissing efforts towards being healthy and taking care of one's self (I ♡ good hygiene) (plus I really dig make-up) (and muscles), I'm merely trying to hack my own insecurities here. Bear with me.

What helps me get over feeling shitty about aging: Women (of any age) who accomplish awesome things (other than staying wrinkle free). Like women athletes who kick the behinds of women half their age in sports. Women astronauts (of which there are 4 in space right now!). Women comedians (margaret cho ya'll! She's awesome. And raunchy~ consider yourself warned). Women comic book writers and illustrators. Women artists. Women in math and science and medicine, women in politics, women writers, women chefs, women musicians, etc etc etc (sorry... got tired finding links)

You get the idea. The idea being: there is a lot of cool stuff to dedicate time and energy to besides merely trying to stay young and cute. It's a good thing for me to keep in mind as my numbers go up with every fast-passing year. Oh, do you know Kate over at Eat The Damn Cake? she wrote this awesome piece about the flat tummy police and goals for aging.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

creating gods

(this post also at Feminist Mormon Housewives)

So that's me, at the back of the church, hiding out in the last pew. The atheist mommy with a sketchbook.

Lisa, Moriah and I got talking about the act of creating, of making art, and how it related to our religious beliefs. It was interesting, our different approaches. Me: I'm the naval gazer: having thought and read my way out of all belief in any literal Gods, I still find myself as an artist, obsessed with the symbols and icons and language of religion (in particular, my native religion: Mormon). God has been pivotal to my art for years: here's a piece I did a while back as I worked thought my issues/concerns/etc about approaching God.

Nowadays, I find myself obsessed with taking the stories and re-working them, twisting them, turning them, doing a bit of re-arranging (for example, I am currently hard at work re-telling the story of Eve). In my mind what I am doing is scraping away the white-washing; trying to get down to the raw, messy stuff that is at the root of all of our belief systems. My tools are pretty simple: pencil, pen, paint, a bit of ink and other odds and ends. With them I go sifting through all the shards of my broken belief.

Art is my therapy.
Art is also one of the only forms of worship that I practice at the moment. I guess you could say it is my homage to the reasons we humans make our Gods (see here and here) and also, to the way we make our monsters. (Sometimes I think those are the same thing.)

(In case you are wondering, one of the reasons I hide way at the back during church is because, quite frequently, what comes out of my pen while listening to the talks/lessons is either quite disturbing, or rather blasphemous. WARNING. Those links are disturbing and blasphemous.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

conditioned to love the monster god

[now posted over at The Exponent also]
Here is a half-baked thought that has been marinating in the back of my head for a while:

Sermons and lessons in the LDS church have elements in them that condition us to accept a Monster God.

(Probably not LDS alone, but that is the majority of my church going experience so it is where I have seen it the most.)

What I am thinking of here is the numerous talks, lessons, etc that use as their object lessons examples of extreme human suffering to teach about God. Two in particular stand out in memory (and I'm too tired to hunt down more):

1)From elder Monson's conference talk from last year (ironically entitled "Be Of Good Cheer") in which he talked about the German Mother in war-torn Prussia and how she had to bury her children one by one, having only a spoon to dig their graves with, until the very last child died, and at that point, she had even lost her spoon and so used her bare fingers against frozen ground to bury her baby.

2) From a local Stake Conference a few years back; the Stake President, as part of his talk described in great detail, how at a family cookout, the young toddler pulled the charcoal grill full of red-hot briquettes over on top of himself. The Stake President went on in great detail about the extent of the irreparable damage done to the toddler's body. I don't remember exactly what the SP's point was (probably prayer, or faith, or something) because I had to leave the meeting (leave my toddler sitting in the pew with his father) so I could go throw up.

I'm thinking that these gospel teaching elements are included as a coping mechanism, a way to preemptively curtail questions about the atrocities that occur and how an All powerful All loving God fits into this world of carnage. Perhaps, they are included to be intentionally numbing? (activism is frequently downplayed to make place for faith/acceptance.)

We are taught to Pray to the Monster God for protection (for he is mighty to save) while simultaneously being taught to accept that, at His humanly incomprehensible whim, He may chose not to save you. In spite of unwavering devotion, you and your loved ones may in die in a multitude of agonizing ways. Or live in a multitude of agonizing ways. And lesson after lesson in church is constructed to condition you to that fact.
So pray for patience.
For faith.
For understanding.
Or at least for acceptance.

It is storytelling.
Turning tragedy into faith promoting stories.

My own thought is that reality isn't very faith-promoting.

As an interesting segue: after the Earthquakes in Haiti earlier this year, JohnR wrote this post about suffering, and storytelling, and how we can cope with tragedy without trying to piece an all Powerful all Loving God into the story.

To end with, a little sacrilege.
Have you seen the painting "One Nation Under God" by Jon McNaughton?
In thinking about The Monster God, it occurred to me that the anonymous artist who did this parody of it might have been on to something.