Witnessing tools and resentment

In a post last week — “You might be an evangelical …” — I touched on some of the esoterica of the evangelical subculture. Much of that post was inside-baseball, jargon and references some readers (maybe the luckier ones) found a bit bewildering. Such as this, for example:

If you think the phrase “a witnessing tool” refers to something that’s good to have rather than someone it’s bad to be, then you might be an evangelical.

“What is a ‘witnessing tool’?” I am asked.

Well, it’s a tool for witnessing. OK, see, we evangelicals learn from a very young age that we have a duty to evangelize — to share the gospel of salvation with everyone we know and everyone we meet. Everyone. All the time. “Be a missionary ev’ry day,” we sang in Sunday school. “Tell the world that Jesus is the way …” This is what we call “witnessing.”

Maybe you’ve witnessed witnessing from the other side, when some acquaintance or stranger, friend or relative has asked you what would happen if you were to walk outside this very day and get hit by the Hypothetical Bus. Would you go to Heaven or would you go to Hell?

The Hypothetical Bus features prominently not just in witnessing, but in sermons reinforcing the solemn duty to witness to everyone we meet. What if that stranger next to you in line at the supermarket walks out to her car and is killed by the Hypothetical Bus right there in the parking lot? (The driver of the HB is a reckless menace who should have lost his license years ago.) You could have told her about Jesus, but now it’s too late and she’s suffering in Hell for eternity and it’s your fault.

That duty can be a heavy burden hard to bear. If you hear that sermon week after week for years, you’ll feel the weight of that urgent and never-ending responsibility to try to rescue these strangers, co-workers, friends, relatives, etc.

But that urgency doesn’t make the task itself any easier. Witnessing, as we’re taught and urged to do it seems awkward and unnatural and never seems to go as planned. For all of the emphasis on the constant duty to witness, most evangelicals remain ill-prepared to do it. They don’t know how to start such a conversation or to steer a conversation in that direction. They’ve got a vague outline of a formula or script for how this is supposed to work, but every time they try to follow it, the person they’re talking to takes some turn that the script didn’t anticipate and they find themselves lost and unable to improv the scene from there.

And so, out of desperation, they may turn to “witnessing tools” for help. A witnessing tool is any gimmick, usually something visual, that might help to start a conversation with strangers or to steer others into talking about Jesus.

It could be something like the buttons and billboards of the “I Found It” campaign, a massive effort organized by Campus Crusade — or “Cru,” as it’s now called — in the 1970s. But usually it’s less formal — a T-shirt with some famous corporate logo reworked into a logo for Jesus, or an eye-catching piece of sectarian jewelry, or a tattoo — anything that might conceivably spur a conversation that might provide the chance to rescue some poor soul from God. I mean, that is, to rescue them from God’s wrath and punishment in Hell (which is somehow different, I’m told).

The largest witnessing tool I ever saw was a 9-foot-tall wooden cross being carried by a guy on the shoulder of the highway. This was what he did. It was, apparently, all he did — wandering the highways of America as a mendicant evangelist.

I had lunch with the guy at a truck stop and came away both impressed by his quixotic devotion and worried about him, out there on his own without a faithful Sancho Panza to protect him. He was earnest and guileless — a holy fool, and to this day I’m not sure which of those words deserves the greater emphasis.

But what ever else was true of him, he had found a witnessing tool that worked. When you met that guy, even for five minutes, you couldn’t not talk about his giant cross. Everyone knew where that conversation was bound to go, but even those who would’ve preferred not to find themselves being witnessed to/at couldn’t help it. Even though you already know what his answer will be, when you meet a guy carrying a heavy, 9-foot-tall wooden cross, “What’s with the giant cross?” becomes an inescapable, irresistible question.

Please don’t take this as my advising you to take to the highways with a giant wooden cross. I think that gimmicky witnessing tools are a bad idea. I believe Christians are called to be witnesses and to bear witness, rather than doing the kind of witness-ing we’re often taught. But for those who are intent on employing a witnessing tool, then I recommend a giant wooden cross. As gimmicks go, that’s a much more effective conversation-starter than a “Jesus Christ: He’s the Real Thing” T-shirt.

But even those awful T-shirts are more plausible as witnessing tools than the ever-popular car fish. The ichthys, or “Christian fish,” has long been a Christian symbol — although it originally may have been a fertility symbol, set vertically (with the resemblance to a fish being an ancient dirty joke). Today it can be found on the cars of millions of Christians as a way of telling the traffic behind them that the driver of the car they’re following is a Christian. (Or, as Stephen Colbert joked, “I like Jesus, but can’t spell.”)

Many of the people affixing Jesus-fish to their cars tell themselves that this, too, is a witnessing tool. I don’t understand how that’s supposed to work. I can’t imagine any likely scenario in which a car-fish could function as a witnessing tool. A fish or an evangelistic bumper sticker can’t serve as a conversation-starter with the driver of the car behind you because neither of you is really in a position to chat. You can communicate only via the crude semaphore of the highway — the horn, the high-beams, the wave, the hand, the finger — and that lacks an adequate vocabulary for communicating the gospel.

I’m opposed to car-fish and Christian bumper stickers in principle. As a general rule, any one of us is more likely to create a negative impression than a positive one for the driver behind us. The light turns yellow and we have to decide, very quickly, whether to accelerate or brake. Either way, we risk annoying the person behind us. Race through the intersection with a Jesus-fish on your car and the driver behind you might think, “Oh, look, the Christian runs red lights.” Come to a stop and they might think, “Oh, great, I could’ve got through the light if I weren’t stuck behind this slowpoke Christian.” We’re all subject to moments of inattention behind the wheel and it seems wrong for Jesus to have the share the blame for our driving.

Mainly, though, car-fish aren’t really intended for witnessing. They’re not witnessing tools, they are tribal symbols. The Jesus-fish on a car is not an invitation, but a declaration of tribal allegiance. It’s a signal that the driver of this car is an “Us” rather than a “Them.” And that Us-Them symbolism has far more to do with conflict than with any attempt at conversion.

This is true as well of many of the other things we tell ourselves are “witnessing tools.” One one level, they may be intended as conversation-starters, but on another level they’re also intended as conversation-stoppers — as attempts to win some implied argument. They’re not really designed for evangelism. They’re just the graffiti and propaganda of the culture wars.

That plays into the political battles of those culture wars and the whole take-back-America-for-Jesus notion of Christian hegemony that has Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry fighting over the evangelical voting bloc. But at its root, I think it’s a response to the pervasive and inescapable guilt from all those years of sermons about the necessity to constantly be “witnessing.”

All those people are going to Hell and it’s your fault because you’re not witnessing enough. You can never witness enough. You can never escape this relentless obligation and thus you can never escape this ever-present guilt.

Such insatiable guilt is bound to fester into resentment. One expression of that resentment is our culture-war politics. Another is the popularity of books like the Left Behind series, with its gleeful delight in the abominable fancy and its celebration of the destruction of the “unsaved.”

The T-shirt designs above are taken from this site and this one. Look through their online catalogues and you’ll find many that are — however tasteless, awkward or counter-productive — innocently intended to serve as “witnessing tools.” But you’ll also find some that only make sense as tribal symbols. And you’ll find many more that can’t in any way be explained by a desire to reach the unreached or to save the unsaved — T-shirts expressing a triumphalist mockery that can only be described as attacks on those unsaved and unreached reprobates, as volleys fired in the war of Us vs. Them.

The witnessing tool T-shirts were intended as an expression of concern for the unsaved. The tribal and culture-war T-shirts are an expression of resentful contempt for them.

That resentment and contempt, I think, is in part a curdled form of what initially began as a kind of love. Love led to guilt and guilt led to resentment and resentment flowered into vicious contempt.

I think that downward cycle, which feeds on itself, becoming stronger over time, can help us to understand a great deal about the nasty tone of what many American evangelicals still strangely regard as “witnessing.” And I think it can also explain a great deal about our current politics and our increasingly stratified economy.

  • Anonymous

    You know I always liked the carfish because it was subtle (and I always found it funny when somebody placed a shark after it, you know guilty pleasure)

    But when I read the stories here I would never bought them if I lived in the US.

  • Izzy

    I have a few friends who would make me want to think about Christianity if it wasn’t somewhat incompatible with my lifestyle. Some are on here; some are in  RL; none of them have ever tried to “save” me.

    Actually, not many people have. I’ve gotten a lot of random leaflets, but I’m under the impression that the leaflet people hand them out to everyone. Otherwise…I dunno. Maybe I give off some kind of “hopeless case” aura.

    When I did convenience store work, we used to get a lot of the t-shirts with “No Fear” and a crucifix, but that was in the early part of the century, and I was in a very surfing-and-skateboarding area of CA.

    I tend to avoid people with those kind of t-shirts, even the less-hostile kind–honestly, I tend to avoid people with the pagan/Hot Topic/fandom equivalent. Not because they’re bad people, but because most people whose sense of humor is “let’s make a bad pun/in joke based on pop culture” are not that fun to be around. I do not need an evening devoted to showing how much of “Holy Grail” you can recite from memory; I do not think Weird Al is the best musician ever, and sometimes–most of the time, in fact–I want to hear the original version of the damn song; I may be a geek, but I draw the line at being a *dork*.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Is it wrong to want to alter the sticker to say “In case of Rapture, Free Car”?

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Are you saying you don’t love Jesus? >.> (I’m not really a fan of that show, but that clip is hilarious)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Are you saying you don’t love Jesus? >.> (I’m not really a fan of that show, but that clip is hilarious)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    But I can recite Life of Bryan too… parts anyway…

  • Tonio

    The Jesus-fish on a car is not an invitation, but a declaration of tribal allegiance.

    Excellent entry. I had the exact same thought about the fish emblems. I’m waiting for a T-shirt that reads, “We’re going to heaven and you’re going to hell – eat it up, suckers!”

  • Anonymous

    There’s nothing in the Bible that says that Christians shouldn’t run businesses.

    Of course there isn’t. Although the bible is pretty overtly hostile to money/capitalism/profit. The point is, nothing is more worldly than a capitalist, consumer business. So naming it “Not of this World” is either intentionally ironic or completely lacking in self-awareness. I’ll go with the latter.

    Mormon beefcake is a whole other order of weirdness.

    Checking back with them, it seems after four years of doing it, the makers of that calendar have finally realized what exact product they were putting out and embraced the deep irony and are now campy gay.

  • Bificommander

    Hmm, from the ones I found, I like/hate this one the most: http://www.christianshirts.net/buy256prolifeenvironmentalismshirts.php
    Apart from giving another justification to destroying the planet, it’s meaningless. When someone is called ‘an enviromentalist’, it’s because he is working to save the environment. If he was an anti-abortion activist, we would call him that. Or a fundie.

    I’d seen Fred mention the Roman Road, glad to know what it actually is. Though it sounds rather Chick-tracty to hope that you can shove this under a sinner’s nose and he’ll convert. It didn’t do it for me at least.

    BTW, it makes the earlier mentioned shirt with ‘people’ crossed out and replaced with ‘sinners’ much more clear. Since the Bible says people=sinners, the replacement becomes meaningless.

    And I had to laugh about the driver of the Hypothetical Bus. Thanks for that one Fred.

  • vsm

    Being Hot for Jesus is totally biblical. See the Song of Songs (and its mainstream Christian interpretation) for a graphic example.

  • Tonio

    Since the Bible says people=sinners, the replacement becomes meaningless.

    Not to people outside the religion. Some Christians talk as if sinners = non-Christians, or at least sinners = people who commit sins.

  • Tonio

    That T-shirt is the same type of resentment that Fred is condemning. It’s like the people who wear the shirt are misinterpreting environmentalists as caring more about animals and plants than people, and then taking this this personally.

  • Anonymous

    When I did convenience store work, we used to get a lot of the t-shirts
    with “No Fear” and a crucifix, but that was in the early part of the
    century, and I was in a very surfing-and-skateboarding area of CA.

    Wait…”No Fear” was supposed to be a Christian thing?  I always assumed it was another generic “macho posturing” thing.

  • Anonymous

    WTF I am a proud christian but there is no way in hell you can do something like that in the place I live

    I wouldn’t have figured you could do it here, either. He did have a legitimate reason for pulling her over, but then he slipped in the Biblical advice.

    We, her friends, wanted her to report it, but she sort of shrugged it off.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    There are actually several different things No Fear can  mean.

    There’s the No Fear brand – which is clothing and energy drinks.  Having just looked it up on Wikipedia it seems they just went bankrupt in February.

    There also is (or was, I think they got sued by the above) a N.O.F.E.A.R. racist organization.  I forget exactly the meaning but it was a “European American Rights” group.

    The Christian variant is new to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  I’d assume it’s part of the whole persecution complex thing.

  • Lori

    Really I hate just about any kind of intolerant bullshit.  And those Calvin* peeing stickers some people have in their windows.

    The thing I hate most about the stickers is that it’s not really Calvin. It;’s close enough that everyone knows that it’s Calvin, but it must be different enough to keep the company from getting sued out of existence. I assume that those things must be right on the line serperating copy right infringement from not copy right infringement the same way Amway is the line between legal business and illegal pyramid scheme.

  • Anonymous

    Am I wrong in thinking this way? Is it ok to think your morality should inform your choice in religion, rather than the other way around? This is kinda a new thought to me, so I’d welcome insight.

    I think it’s OK, sure. Why not? It’s a somewhat strange thought to me, since my religion is, literally tribal, but I can’t see why it would be a wrong thing.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    I saw a calendar in Italy that…now, keep in mind I understand precious little Italian so could be wrong but…seemed to be “12 Hottest priests in Vatican City” or some such. Certainly the guy on the cover, while fully decked out in tasteful black cassock, was alarmingly Clooney-esque in the face department.

    You mean this? http://www.calendarioromano.org/

  • P J Evans

    I can’t say that Nahum 1:7 is a verse familiar to most people. But I’ll second the discreetness of their citations – you have to (a) know that they do it, and (b) know where to look.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    I’m not sure what to think about the recent “hot for Jesus” meme that seems to be cropping up in evangelical circles.  Do they not realize that that statement has a meaning other than “not just lukewarm?”  Really?

    I think of all of the salvation that I’ve missedBut then my prayer group was never quite like this!
    Ow!  Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Yeah, that would be part of the conversation after the crash, with the driver expressing dismay about the crash, and Jesus explaining that he’s never driven before.
    I envision something similar to that bit that Zach Galifanakis does in his stand up when he does comedy in the persona of someone from the 1700s.  “Is this thing on?”  (Pauses to look at microphone) “What is this thing?” 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NYIMSCWWLA5XTAYXL3FXNCJZ7I Kiba

    “Oh dear, is he missing?”

    “It wasn’t my turn to watch him.”

  • Donalbain

    Most of the witnessing that I’ve been subjected to, besides the door-to-door kind, has been the “Have you found Jesus?” random conversation on the bus.

    “Oh dear, is he missing?”

    Have you looked down the sofa? That is where I generally find things..

  • Jared Bascomb

    I used a similar line on a “Christian” who was essentially harrassing me while I was waiting for our LGBT Pride parade to start. I got him to admit that he was going to heaven and I was going to hell and then I said, “Well, I believe that hell is spending eternity with you. Now – who’s going where?”

    You could almost see smoke coming out his ears as the gears ground to a halt. Then he had the nerve to tell me to go back where I came from. I pointed up the street and said, “Mercy Hospital?”

  • Jared Bascomb

    I won’t patronize the businesses that have the Christian fish or other symbols because I know that some of th emoney I spend there will wind up the pockets of religious groups and/or politicans who are doing their very best to make my life as a gay man as miserable as they can. (They’re not succeeding, but still.)

  • Lori

    I saw a calendar in Italy that…now, keep in mind I understand
    precious little Italian so could be wrong but…seemed to be “12 Hottest
    priests in Vatican City” or some such. Certainly the guy on the cover,
    while fully decked out in tasteful black cassock, was alarmingly
    Clooney-esque in the face department. 

    I’ve seen that one, and it was odd. One of my (ex-Catholic) friends referred to the cover guy as Father What A Waste. By the time I say it most of my Italian had gone due to disuse, but what little I retained didn’t make the calendar make more sense.

  • Lori

    Hmm, from the ones I found, I like/hate this one the most: http://www.christianshirts.net
    Apart
    from giving another justification to destroying the planet, it’s
    meaningless. When someone is called ‘an enviromentalist’, it’s because
    he is working to save the environment. If he was an anti-abortion
    activist, we would call him that. Or a fundie. 

    If the environment goes to crap where are all the babies those folks are supposedly saving going to live? Also, dirty air and contaminated water? Not so good for babies.

    Asshats.

  • Lori

    Although the bible is pretty overtly hostile to money/capitalism/profit.
    The point is, nothing is more worldly than a capitalist,
    consumer business. So naming it “Not of this World” is either
    intentionally ironic or completely lacking in self-awareness. I’ll go
    with the latter. 

    The Bible is overtly hostile to the love of money (IOW greed), but not to money itself. Contrary to the beliefs of Right Wing RTCs the Bible doesn’t bless kill-or-be-killed free market capitalism, but there’s nothing in the Bible against making a profit.  For example, there are parables that implicitly approve of it, like the parable of the talents. Christians aren’t supposed to do it make a profit by lending to other Christians at interest, but I don’t recall any verses that condem lending at interest outside the Christian community and there are no teachings against the honest sale of goods. Several Apostles and early Christians mentioned with approval in the Bible had businesses that sold goods. No hostility to that at all, overt or otherwise. The fact that consumer goods are worldly isn’t even a problem. Christians are supposed to be in the world, not of it and presumably that can include the way they make their living.

    I think naming a Christian/Right Wing t-shirt business Not Of This World isn’t the most clever thing I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think it’s directly contradicted by the scriptures the owners claim to follow. Unlike the text of some of the shirts themselves.

  • Lori

    I think of all of the salvation that I’ve missed
    But then my prayer group was never quite like this!
    Ow!  Got it bad, got it bad, got it bad… 

    I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of that song.

  • piny

    “Choosy Moms Choose Life.”  I didn’t go over and knee him (of course it was a him) in the groin, but to this day I sort of wish I had. 

  • piny

    “Choosy Moms Choose Life.”  I didn’t go over and knee him (of course it was a him) in the groin, but to this day I sort of wish I had. 

  • piny

    Maybe, “If someone would like to have a polite conversation with you about something that is not Jesus, let that happen.  That way, you won’t sound like a robot with the controls stuck on SAVE ALL HUMANS.” 

  • piny

    “Don’t mention it!  Thanks for paying for my abor…dammit.”

  • Tonio

    Heh! Now I imagine that video with Dave, Eddie, Mike and Alex wearing vestments.

  • Lori

    “Choosy Moms Choose Life.”  I didn’t go over and knee him (of course it
    was a him) in the groin, but to this day I sort of wish I had.

    I swear that right now if I saw someone wearing that shirt I just might go for a soft spot. Over the last couple of days I’ve been having a very frustrating conversation* about abortion elsewhere in my online life and it has me a little on edge.

    *Apparently it’s very difficult for some people to understand that it is not “pro choice” to think that a women should be able to get a safe, legal abortion…but only if her situation meets your personal standards of “dire enough” or “no other option”. It’s also not pro choice to think that every pregnancy has one correct outcome and if a woman doesn’t make the right choice someone else should step in and make it for her. There are also some folks who think that threats of violence against clinics providing abortion services are fairly rare and don’t happen where they live and that having to walk by protesters to get into a clinic is really no big deal if the group is small.

    Did I mention that all the people involved in this conversation are women?

  • Tonio

    That does sound very frustration. What do those particular women think “pro-choice” means? They don’t seem to understand that the default position is that the individual woman is the one to make her reproductive decisions, and that government or society could just as easily require abortions as ban them. But that doesn’t sound as bad to me as the pro-lifer who recently told me that very few women would choose abortion if it were solely up to them. This guy insisted that almost all abortions were the result of pressure from selfish boyfriends, who allegedly threaten to withhold their love if the woman doesn’t abort.

  • Tonio

    Uh, I mean “sound very frustrating.”

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I’ve contemplated putting both the ichthys and the Darwin fish on my car, but I’m pretty sure my wife wouldn’t let me get away with it, on the grounds that I’d be effectively trolling my family.

    If I thought there was a remote chance that the part of the family that includes my Beck-retweeting schoolteacher cousin (something to do with education that she really should’ve known was bogus) would ever see my car, I would so do that.

    But I’m in the SF Bay Area. Nobody would blink.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Hot for Jesus

    … is running through my head as sung by David Lee Roth.

    (ok, several people beat me to this :) )

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Hot for Jesus

    … is running through my head as sung by David Lee Roth.

    (ok, several people beat me to this :) )

  • FangsFirst

    This guy insisted that almost all abortions were the result of pressure
    from selfish boyfriends, who allegedly threaten to withhold their love
    if the woman doesn’t abort

    ….uh….
    …guilt complex, maybe?

    (I wanted to respond with just “…” for effect, but oh well)

    *Apparently it’s very difficult for some people to understand that it is
    not “pro choice” to think that a women should be able to get a safe,
    legal abortion…but only if her situation meets your personal standards
    of “dire enough” or “no other option”.

    I know a woman who feels that it okay until late term, and then she says they can often surgically remove the fetus and incubate it outside and go on with things. Or something, but to resolve the issue of forcing carrying of the kid on the mother. She is in the field of biology, so this isn’t pure fantasy, though I don’t know enough to know how realistic it is, either (apparently a European country actually does this? I don’t know.)

    I feel very wishy washy when it comes to that level of discussion with her though, as I start to feel we’re getting into “none of my business or decision as a man, perhaps those who actually have to live with these things ought to get to decide, because I’m sure not able to carry a child, by choice OR coercion/force.”

  • FangsFirst

    This guy insisted that almost all abortions were the result of pressure
    from selfish boyfriends, who allegedly threaten to withhold their love
    if the woman doesn’t abort

    ….uh….
    …guilt complex, maybe?

    (I wanted to respond with just “…” for effect, but oh well)

    *Apparently it’s very difficult for some people to understand that it is
    not “pro choice” to think that a women should be able to get a safe,
    legal abortion…but only if her situation meets your personal standards
    of “dire enough” or “no other option”.

    I know a woman who feels that it okay until late term, and then she says they can often surgically remove the fetus and incubate it outside and go on with things. Or something, but to resolve the issue of forcing carrying of the kid on the mother. She is in the field of biology, so this isn’t pure fantasy, though I don’t know enough to know how realistic it is, either (apparently a European country actually does this? I don’t know.)

    I feel very wishy washy when it comes to that level of discussion with her though, as I start to feel we’re getting into “none of my business or decision as a man, perhaps those who actually have to live with these things ought to get to decide, because I’m sure not able to carry a child, by choice OR coercion/force.”

  • Tonio

    guilt complex, maybe

    That hadn’t occurred to me. I originally suspected the guy of buying into the myth that all women long to be mothers. Maybe the myth comes from some existential fear that the person’s own mother might have had some qualms about motherhood, as if the person was one bad day from being aborted or being left on a hillside as an infant.

    And the Rent-a-Womb concept, even if were realistic, ignores the fact that earlier trimesters can also be hazardous to a woman’s health. Things such as gestational diabetes.

  • piny

    But that doesn’t sound as bad to me as the pro-lifer who recently told
    me that very few women would choose abortion if it were solely up to
    them. This guy insisted that almost all abortions were the result of
    pressure from selfish boyfriends, who allegedly threaten to withhold
    their love if the woman doesn’t abort.

    Yes, because the best possible reason to bear a child is so that boys will like you. 

  • Anonymous

    I know a woman who feels that it okay until late term, and then she says
    they can often surgically remove the fetus and incubate it outside and
    go on with things. Or something, but to resolve the issue of forcing
    carrying of the kid on the mother. She is in the field of biology, so
    this isn’t pure fantasy, though I don’t know enough to know how
    realistic it is, either (apparently a European country actually does
    this? I don’t know.)

    I don’t believe it. It’s feasible to induce birth after, what is it, twenty-four weeks? Twenty-two? Something like that, anyway. But then the baby is a preemie, and dealing with preemies is expensive as hell. Persuading the woman to hang in there a few more months costs much less money.

    “none of my business or decision as a man, perhaps those who actually
    have to live with these things ought to get to decide, because I’m sure
    not able to carry a child, by choice OR coercion/force.”

    Thank you for feeling that way. According to my brother the all-knowing, using contraception is a way of ensuring one feels that any resultant pregnancy is not one’s fault and therefore that it’s permissible to abort. Also, pro-life groups do so support pregnant women and single mothers and ending poverty, and how dare I suggest otherwise? He hasn’t gotten back to me on Santorum’s voting record re poverty (Santorum’s the guy he’s hoping to vote for for President), which is, fyi, a shit sandwich. And for bonus points, I’m the one in the wrong for suggesting that Santorum’s line about Iran trampling on gay rights and women’s rights might be, coming from Santorum, a tad bit hypocritical.

    I feel compelled to donate to Planned Parenthood, but I’m broke. *has a sad*

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    I think his argument is the reverse of that — the best possible reason to have an abortion is so that boys will like you.

  • P J Evans

    This guy insisted that almost all abortions were the result of pressure
    from selfish boyfriends, who allegedly threaten to withhold their love
    if the woman doesn’t abort.

    I read a comment, years ago and elsewhere, from a ‘selfish boyfriend’ type who said he’d chein his girlfriend to a basement wall if she was pregnant and wanted an abortion. Which made me think that her best option would be to run as far as she could, right then, and call the law, from a shelter, to report him.

  • piny

    Oh.  Well, then. 

    Actually, all gallows humor aside, many abusive relationships do involve reproductive control: it’s a matter of life or death for the woman, so it’s a huge power trip for the abusive man.  There’s also other features like forcing the woman to prove your potency and maybe become economically dependent on you and so on. 

  • piny

    That is–as someone who is pro-choice, I don’t deny that men can be horrible to their pregnant partner, and it doesn’t surprise me that some men react to a pregnancy with emotional abuse or attempts at coercion. 

    But that doesn’t mean the state should be able to legislate a woman’s options under those circumstances.  Forcing her to bear her abuser’s baby is not a solution. 

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Random OT -

    Very sorry to interrupt; just wanted to mention a couple things real fast before I disappear for a short while.

    I’m having a rather sudden onset depressive episode – I get these from time to time; sometimes they come out of nowhere, like this.  Normally not something I’d post about, I’d typically just take a few days away and then be back as usual. 

    Today however has been a day wherein I’ve wrestled with a few difficult topics here, and because they are difficult topics I am not confident about my handling thereof.  Point is:  I’m really anxious about them; but because I can’t put my finger on why I’m mostly chalking it up to the depression.*

    That said, I like this place, I like the people here – as I’ve said before, I feel listened to and valued here.  Because of this… disquiet… I’m having about my posts today, and an even greater discomfort at the idea of editing them** – I wanted to ask an unusual, difficult, and maybe stupid favor.

    If you think I’ve said anything really out of line A) Please let me know.  B)  Please read what I write in the context of what you know of me.  I know none of you know me in terms of RL, but I figure some of you have been around me in the comment threads enough to have a general idea of what I believe and who I am.

    I ask that because, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not but… I am frankly, always terrified of being misunderstood.  All those crazy footnotes I leave?  Those started as a means to supply necessary caveats to things I was thinking/saying to replace an even older system of caveats (wherein I’d use parentheticals that lead to near unreadable posts).

    I know it’s probably difficult, maybe impossible to understand where this is coming from; I guess I’m just asking you not to think too poorly of me if I’ve said anything stupid.  Let me know, I’ll fix it.  I’ll also apologize right now for the rather overdramatic sound of this post – I have nearly 28 years of experience with this disease, and I know that if I say nothing, if I just wander off into my quiet place for a few days like usual without saying something, then I’ll just worry and worry and worry more and it’ll gnaw at me terribly.

    So yes.  I’m going to take some time away and let this fade.  Usually these episodes are brief – a few days to a week*** most probably.  I could even be back as soon as tomorrow or Tuesday if it fades fast enough.

    Again, very sorry for interrupting this thread; I wanted to choose one that was further down the queue but still active enough that at least one person will see it (and can thus direct people if they so feel inclined).

    And yes, I am terribly, terribly paranoid of misunderstanding.

    Okay, shutting up now.  Will be back soon.  Sorry to be a nuisance.

    *Being able to pin it on this does not stop my worrying.  Sadly my depression is completely logic-immune.

    **In my present frame of mind I suspect I’d just remove them; which would be unhelpful no matter what I said; but doubly so since as I said, logically I don’t think I did anything wrong… it’s the non-logical part that’s a problem.

    ***I’ve learned my mind has 3 general stages – Normalcy, which is rare, general depression, which is common, and severe depression (like now).  The middle is my default state, while the heaviest end of the depression strikes in short bursts.  It’s more complicated than that but it’s the best way I can describe it.


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