Monday, September 7, 2009

Quasi-Conclusion: Honor Shilling? (3)

Rifqa Bary, teen Muslim-turned-Christian runaway has been pleading her case in court. She's expected to remain in foster custody for the next 11 months until she becomes old enough to legally take responsibility for herself. The remaining debate is where she will stay until that time, as her parents have agreed that she can stay in foster care.

Does it really matter where she stays? Who knows? The cases' resolution is in plain enough sight now anyway. Keep her in foster care, and let her determine what steps to take when she hits the "magic 18". Easy enough, right?

Though maybe not for the same reason, I think it's equally important that she be kept at arms length from the other contending party in the meantime. The Bary family has also requested a psychiatric evaluation for Rifqa, while the case outcome is arbitrated.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best Interests: Honor Shilling? (2)

Previously I wrote about the case of ex-Muslim runaway Rifqa Bary. Along with her testimony and that of her father & brother, we have a conflicting account of an obviously troubled girl.

Details coming from both sides seemed to be problematic. However, there are further details that the short video clips don't divulge. Here's what we know about Rifqa:

* She & her family came to the U.S. from Sri Lanka in 2000 for medical treatment of her eye after she'd fallen onto a toy airplane & lost her sight.

* She is not a U.S. citizen and still a minor (age 17). She's currently in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

* She first became infatuated with Christianity in 2005 (4 years prior to running away from home).

* Her father was aware she had been questioning her faith, but she supposedly tried to keep her conversion hidden from her parents. Eventually they found out as friends and family told them about her postings on facebook.

* She began proselytizing with her bible at school, but was asked to stop by her family who said it wasn't appropriate as a school activity. She was also asked to learn more about her original faith first.

* According to a source at atlas shrugs, her conversion to Christianity was made public on myspace as long ago as 2007 (her last login). "most of all... my savior is JC".

* She secretly became baptized in her home state this year.

* Her mother supposedly said Rifqa would be "dead to her" unless she recounted her Christianity. It's unclear who relayed this quote to the journalist, or if there was another implication though.

* After fleeing her home to pastor Lorenz's house, she told him that her parents would not report her missing. However, she was wrong about that.

* Her brother has expressed concern over her safety with the "pastor she's known for only 2 weeks".

So what does it all mean?

* She seems too indiscreet (or stupid) for someone genuinely worried about a death threat.

* Her parents seem genuinely invested in her well-being. Even if their words fail to convince, their actions don't. They took on the financial & social responsibility of moving to the U.S. for her sake.

* Her hyperbole suggests she's deeply fanatical, or an over-actor. No... I think maybe it's both.

* However, there have been cases before where the parents appeared well-meaning & the "apostate" child returned home to meet her end.

What do you think? Please comment below.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Honor Shilling?

This Video was posted at atheistmedia a couple days ago (where I first saw it). In the video, a young girl appears at the side of pastor Blake Lorenz of the Global Revolution Church. She's smiling and replies "hi" in response to the reporter for the first second or two until the pastor says "she's very scared". Her expression then becomes more somber as she begins her story about fleeing her home in Ohio to the safety of the Florida church.

According to her account, her parents are extremely devout Muslims and once they discovered her conversion, her father threatened to kill her. If there weren't numerous cases of this actually happening, its plausibility would all but evaporate right there.

What's got some people doing double-takes, however are some questionable behavioral oddities such as...

* The ease with which she starts and stops crying.
* Her mantra "this is reality, this is true, this is reality" as she begins crying again.
* The reporter's inane "what do you want" question near the end of the interview.

The last one launches her into the answer to the question that no one needed to ask. By the end, the whole thing almost comes across as a veiled advertisement for Christianity on the news.

If the story's not legitimate...


Another video expands on the story a little further with comments from her family disclaiming the story's legitimacy. Currently she's in the custody of child services until the facts are sorted out. This could be an interesting one to follow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Richard Was a Feyn-Man...

...And after watching this video, I'm reminded of a Richard Dawkins quote which invites a rewrite.

"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world."

Though it may lack the poetry & pith, maybe he should have said; I'm against religion, because it teaches us to be satisfied with an outdated understanding of the world.

In general, I don't think people are satisfied with not understanding. I doubt that the believers Dawkins was addressing think they don't understand the world and that's just fine with them.

Religion tried to address this lack of understanding long ago by attempting to explain the why's & how's while giving comfort to people living in an abstract & downright frightening world. If the rainfall could be controlled, crops would grow and people could eat. What controlled the rain? Well, it must have been some hidden agent. Hmm, perhaps we should try to get on its good side...

It was the beginning of the human quest to explain, and thus understand, our surroundings. The problem is that as humankind developed better and better ways to go about this, some of their previously treasured explanations no longer held up. And this is the problem everyone looking for answers must deal with. If you want to understand the world for what it is, you must be willing to modify, if not entirely discard old beliefs as better evidence arrives.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Barack Obama, of the Foreign Country of Hawaii

I can't help but notice (outside the crowds chanting "recount!") that there are still a handful of Americans who think Hawaii is "one of ours". They'll claim that just about anything that's been legally annexed through majority vote is American in some way. They may even throw out some fancy math like, "Hawaii was admitted into the Union in 1959" and "Barack Obama was born in 1961" so they just get him in there in time to be not foreign-born. Oh how convenient!

I think it was the great thinker Homer Simpson who once said, "facts, you can prove anything even remotely true with those." Indeed that's just what these "technicalists" are trying to do here.

Let's look at some other facts about Hawaii (right from Wikipedia) that these pushers aren't telling us:

*Is not geographically located in North America: Hello, just like that backwards country of Alaska where a true American lived, braving the cold so she could secretly monitor the Russians!Of course she started out in Idaho which is obviously American because it's attached!

*Grows coffee: Coffee? Give me a break, we know coffee isn't American. In fact Americans only drink coffee so that countries like Uganda don't go out of business.

*Is completely surrounded by water: This is too easy. Yet again, it's not attached to the big American... Land... Area, so it's not part of it. Those are just the rules, and if they seem arbitrary it's just because your way of thinking isn't.

*Is totally an archipelago: Archipelago is just a fancy word meaning "buttload of islands". Islands aren't states, or they wouldn't be called islands. Also suspect: the "state" of Rhode "Island"

*Has a royal palace: Americans don't do the royal thing. We just elect a person every 4 years to live in a big expensive house, make lots of money, ride in an expensive car, appear before an adoring public, and make decisions about how to run our country.

*does not have a straight line in its state boundary: Just like New Jersey. Need I say more?

So I hope we've all learned something here today, and when our shiny new President delivers that inauguration speech, just remember: That's not American he's speaking, it's English!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two Kingdoms

Once upon a time there were two kingdoms.  In the first, the people got along fairly well.  They ate, they played, they worked and when night fell, they slept under a sacred blanket.  This blanket consisted of two materials.  The top was kingdom 2's, the bottom was their own.  The weather was just right, so they could sleep under either side.  Still, most rested beneath the fabric of their own land, safe, and all but unaware of the other side.

The people of kingdom 2 had the same blankets, however the weather was not as permissive.  Their king insisted that they sleep under the foreign side, not for comfort, but for surveillance of the other land.  Alas, the king was an old man and his eyes began to fail him.  Nevertheless, as far as he could see, this strange land was suspicious and he insisted upon the unpleasantness of this foreign cloth and its weavers.  Before long, the people of this land began to itch and sweat under the dark cloth and decided they must help their king destroy the foreign manufacturer.

So they traveled to the 1st kingdom where they met with the other cloth weavers.  They got along well with the people of 1st kingdom and made friends with some of them.  Even the cloth could not itch apart from their king's insistence.  Regardless, their king cried out from across the oceans, "These are impure, they must be destroyed!"  They trusted their king, and had always assumed his eyesight far exceeded their own.  So, when night fell, they threw the people in kingdom 1 out of their beds and smothered them with the upper cloth from their sacred blankets.  And as far as he could see, their king was pleased.