I’ve been meaning for a while to start posting my older strips onto the website, the ones I don’t hate now, anyway, so that it has a more complete archive of stuff for people to go through. Especially with some of my upcoming plans for the characters, some of these older strips might provide a little bit of context for people. Some of my older drawings, though, don’t really fit what I have in mind right now and aren’t really considered “canon” by me (Sorry, I’m a nerd, I think in those terms sometimes).
My first issue collected some of these early strips, from roughly when I began posting things, around 2006, up through roughly when I moved to San Francisco in 2008. They were organized in a way that I figured made the best sense for a new reader and shaped them into some sort of a narrative. For the purposes of this website, I’m planning to more or less organize the older posts in chronological order as I post them, and date them to precede what was actually the first post I made on this website, so that when people flip through the archives they’ll be in some sort of order.
I was gonna start at the beginning and plow on through posting a few a week, but in honor of a recent event I’ve decided to start by posting this one. Recently my Twitter account, http://www.twitter.com/bloodoftheland , had the unusual honor of suddenly being followed by something called Mormon Church news. Now, I’m not a conspiracy-minded individual, but I was trying to figure out why out of all the Twitter accounts in the world a Mormon organization would suddenly notice that I existed. The only connection that I could draw was that, a few days earlier, I’d posted a joke on Twitter containing what might have been an unflattering comparison of the intellect of your average Mormon to that of your average monkey. Now, seriously, out of the vast ocean of the entire internet, how is it even possible that these people noticed one random comment at the expense of that little retarded “religion”? I looked at their Twitter a bit, and I noticed that they follow quite a few more people than follow them. Do they just make it their business to follow anyone who discusses Mormons? Is that possible? Honestly, I’m trying to figure out some sort of alternate explanation.
In the meantime, if anybody’s curious about my actual feelings about Mormons, I’ll start with a little anecdote. I was hanging out with a friend of mine and meeting his new boyfriend, who’s a Mormon, when I tried to broach the topic with the boy. He said that he was a Mormon, and I replied, politely, “Oh, OK. But you don’t like hate black people or anything, do you?” It seemed a fair question.
“Huh?” was the reply.
“You know, because of the Mormon Chrurch’s history with integration,” I said. I’d expected either a laugh or some kind of indignation, so my response to, “Huh?” was an awkward one.
“Oh,” gay boy said, “I don’t know about that.”
Right. So, you profess to belong to a religion, one with vast funding and an aggressive political agenda, and you don’t actually know that it prohibited African Americans from being members until very, very recently in its sordid history.
“So, you’re not too interested in Church history,” I said. Politely.
“No, not really,” said gay boy.
“So, uh, then why are you a member of the Church?” I asked, with politeness that, despite being fake, was becoming a greater and greater strain on me.
He kinda shrugged. “I think they have good morals,” he elucidated.
“Good morals,” I repeated, and that was as far as the fake politeness would allow me to pursue it. Now, let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the “morals” of most religions come in about three forms; the self-evident: if you really need a religion to tell you that it’s wrong to murder or steal, then there’s something wrong with you that neither Jesus nor Rick Warren is gonna fix; the subjective: Thou shalt have no other gods, etc., ie “morals” that have no functionality without the presumption that the religion in question is a representation of truth; and the stupid-ass bullshit: eg, all that crazy shit in Leviticus about sacrificing birds and the times during which women are and aren’t considered “ritually clean”.
But like I said, let’s set that aside for a moment. What he said actually represented, in my experience, why a vast number of religious people subscribe to whatever religion it is that they subscribe to: they like it. They pick whichever religion feels good to them, whichever gives ‘em warm fuzzies, and whichever tells them that the particular transgressions they’ve made in the past (Or, in the case of Catholics and some others explicitly plan to make in the future and then follow with apologies and “confessions”) are really a lot better than OTHER peoples transgressions and it’ll be OK, they’ll get to play a harp on a cloud an’ stuff when they die without ever having bothered to make the most use of the life that was in front of them when they decided to join the cult.
Now, that’s all fine and stuff, because people can do whatever the hell they wanna do with their life and it’s their business, but if we’re discussing it, since when did “I like it” become a good reason to base your life on something of questionable value. Still though, it’s fine if people wanna do stupid shit, but the trouble is that with a lot of these religions, them choosing some stupid cult because it gives them warm fuzzies gets turned into God Told Me So. Deep down, they know that the rationalizations for a lot of the precepts of their new cult are really pretty fucking thin, so God Told Me So becomes the explanation. Then, it’s a really short hop and a skip from God Told Me So, over to passing all their bullshit into legislation, imposing it on other people, and when other people resist suddenly the person who chose to join the cult is now the repressed, and the victim. Then when the people over on the other side are operating on God Told Me So as well, suddenly you have a really interesting situation. Adding up enough of these interesting situations, and you have World War Three, or, in a micro version, you have Proposition 8, or any number of other fucked up things that have happened or will probably happen in human history.
I’d like to very humbly suggest that, given the vast trail of pain, misery and general stupidness that religions have caused in the past, “I gives me warm fuzzies,” is not a good enough reason to belong to one. And, for the record, being gay isn’t a choice, but joining a cult actually IS.
That isn’t to suggest that there aren’t people who are members of a particular religion for reasons other than that, so please don’t extrapolate from that anything other than what I’ve actually said. I don’t actually have much of a problem with the idea of god or spirituality in general, my personal opinion is that I don’t have much of an opinion on any of it other than the fact that I very much agree that there are a whole lot of things in this world that we’ve not been equipped to understand or articulate, and I don’t see anything wrong with trying to get some kind of grasp on that, or get some kind of relationship to it. A genuine desire to understand The Mystery is not, for example, what gives idiots the impulse to go carry God Hates Fags signs to funerals.
What I’m saying is this: don’t say you KNOW shit when you don’t KNOW shit.
Now, that’s me on the concept of religions in general. As far as Mormons, in particular, I’ll be really blunt: It’s a measurably stupid religion with no rational justification. Jesus might have been a con man or a great man or any number of things in between, but his life is far enough in the past and shrouded in enough mystery that there can be reasonable debate about it. Joseph Smith, on the other hand, WAS a con man. And a liar and an adulterer and the leader of a little ragtag band of malcontents and, in some cases, murderers and other sorts of sickos, that followed him for reasons ranging more or less from ignorance to practicality to self-justification. There is no reason, outside of straight-up ignorance, to follow this religion other than the, “It gives me warm fuzzies,” factor. Given the dangerous, homophobic, misogynistic, (and all sorts of other -ics) agenda of the Church, that’s one poor fucking reason indeed to support it.
At dinner with my friend’s boyfriend, rather than saying any of the above, I tried to imagine what middle ground I might have to discuss with a Mormon, albeit one who didn’t know a whole fuck of a lot about being a Mormon.
“You like Twilight?” I asked.
His eyes lit up for the first time in the conversation. “Yeah! I like Twilight.”
“Stephanie Meyer’s a Mormon.”
“Yeah, I know, that’s not why I like it, though.”
Well, of course not. There’s only one reason anybody really likes Twilight: the boys are super hot. People enjoy Twilight for the, “It gives me warm fuzzies” factor. I like it for Taylor Lautner’s ass. Which is the same thing.
“I think Jasper’s the hottest vampire,” I say.
“I like Kristen Stewart!” gay boy says. “She’s, like, my favorite actress.”
“Kristen Stewart?!” I say. This, finally, was the comment that exhausted my fake politeness. “How can she be your favorite actress? She never acted in those movies! She just pouted and stared at the other actors for three fucking films!”
“Yeah,” he nodded. Rather than differing with what I said, he explained to me: “That’s because that’s her character.”
It’s true that her character is completely passive in the plot of all three films, and is given nothing to do, but I couldn’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, Stewart might have tried to imbue her character with, at the least, some sort of opinion on all the events to which she was a passive witness. I started to think about the character of Bella, though, as a symbol of Mormon womanhood, and once you start it’s hard not to. At the age of, what is it, 16 or 17? she meets the man of her dreams, and is thus ready for her life to be over, literally. She wants to turn into a vampire. She might finish school first, but that’s perfunctory so that her dad doesn’t feel too bad about stuff. She is not bothered, being Mormon, by the fact that this man is significantly older than her. In this particular case about 100 years. Bella however, we can assume, has started menstruating and is therefor ready to be a brood mare for the male who has claimed her. I haven’t actually made it past the second book but, from what I’ve been told it’s pretty difficult to take her determination in the fourth book to carry her vampire baby to term, even as it tries to rip its way out of her, as anything other than an anti-abortion polemic. A bunch of the bullshit in Orson Scott Card’s later Bean books about Bean not having the “right” to destroy embryos made from his genetic material, despite the fact that the desperate desire of various nations around the world to procure those embryos might plunge the world into war, is a similarly ham-fisted diatribe, and in that case I’ve actually read it so I can attest to its stupidity.
So, as I thought about all of that, I kept coming back to my friend’s boyfriend’s comment about Bella’s character. She’s a dumb passive cow who doesn’t have much of an opinion about her own life, other than deciding between the various men vying to claim her. Maybe, I realized, he had a much more subtle understanding of Mormonism that I had given him credit for.