advertising, LDS, religion

Repost: Selling church…

I was looking for some old commentary about the Duggar family yesterday when I ran across this post from August 24, 2016. It made me cackle as I read it, so I decided to preserve it for posterity’s sake. The post actually has little to do with the Duggars, but it is about religion, and how religion can screw up people’s lives on many levels. I tagged the Duggars, though, because at the time I wrote this, Jessa Seewald was pregnant with her second child, who went on to be named Henry. I commented that I hoped the second baby would have a name less obnoxious than “Spurgeon”. I guess the name Henry is less obnoxious indeed, so kudos to Jessa and Ben for that.

Every once in awhile, someone in our local Facebook group will ask about where to go to church.  Germany has many churches, of course, but most of us in the local Facebook group are English speakers.  A service conducted in German is not so useful.  Many people attend services on one of the local installations.  Not everyone has access to the installations, though.  And some people are looking for a specific type of service.

I had to giggle yesterday when a newcomer asked where she and her family could attend services.  She has three kids and wants to find an American style church that will be good for them.  Her family is not affiliated with the military, so they have no access to the installations.  And they are Methodists.  Well…  sure enough, there were quite a few folks who were willing to sell their church.

There are always folks from the two Baptist churches scouting for members.  The first time we lived here, we were invited to a Baptist church by a woman who was a lapsed Catholic.  Bill and I don’t attend church.  He’s too scarred from being Mormon and I just don’t give a shit about church that much.  I think Bill is actually a lot more spiritual and potentially religious than I am.  I’ve just never really cared too much about attending church one way or another.  I see church as a place to go for socializing and sometimes pretty music.  A good minister who isn’t too boring is a huge plus.

This is a picture of the closest thing my family has to a “family church”. My dad and his siblings were raised in this Presbyterian church in Natural Bridge, Virginia. I, too, was raised Presbyterian, but it hasn’t seemed to have stuck.

Someone also mentioned a church near one of the installations that is Pentecostal/Assemblies of God.  I knew a lot of folks who were involved in that faith when I was growing up.  I’d say it’s not much like Methodism.  Methodists are rather mainstream and moderate.  The AoG and Pentecostal folks struck me as being a lot more like holy rollers.   

One person mentioned an English speaking Anglican church.  I think if I were inclined to attend services, that’s the one I’d want to go to.  But the original poster says she’s wanting an American style church and my guess is that the Anglican church would not be very American.

And yes, sure enough, there was a plug for the local Mormon ward.  The folks who were plugging it touted the excellent youth program and said a person can be as “active as they want to be”.  It was all I could do not to comment that there is a HUGE difference between Mormonism and Methodism.  One brave soul did ask the question and I know he knew the answer:  “Is there a significant difference between your faith and the Protestant faith?” 

One of the LDS ladies selling the Mormon church advised him to visit one of the official church Web sites for information.  Right.  Because we can’t have people finding out the non whitewashed version of what Mormonism is all about, can we?  The person who advised the guy to visit LDS.org or Mormon.org took pains to empathize that Mormons believe in Jesus Christ and is a Christian faith.  She also mentioned “instantaneous friends”.

Now…  here’s one thing that maybe the LDS apologist hasn’t considered.  Real friendships aren’t formed “instantaneously”.  Real friendships take time to develop, and must be nurtured.  “Instant friendships” are most likely going to be assigned friendships.  Assigned friendships are almost always fake.  The LDS church is pretty much rife with assigned friends.  Home visitors, visiting teachers, Relief Society, and everything else…  They will be friendly until you start asking uncomfortable questions.  Aside from that, it may be pretty damaging for young women to be told that if they engage in sexual contact before marriage, they are akin to chewed pieces of gum or shattered vases.

The apologist also emphasized that newcomers are “welcomed”.  Maybe that’s so, at least the first time a person shows up to a meeting.  But if he or she starts coming regularly, there will be pressure to be baptized.  There will be pressure for the newcomers to get on board with the status quo– look the right way, dress the right way, drink the right liquids, pay the right amount of tithing…  I highly doubt that a person who comes to meetings for the three years a typical military tour lasts will simply be encouraged to attend casually.  Mormonism requires big lifestyle changes that the entire family is pressured to embrace.

And yet…  this is what the apologist says…

“…you will find a very welcoming group of individuals and families who simply wish to share the hope and happiness they find in following this faith.

If that’s true in Stuttgart, it would be the first time I’ve seen a group of Mormons take a laid back approach to their faith.  You’d think that people who are sincere about wanting to sell their church would want to be honest and upfront about what attending would mean.  And if they have nothing to hide, then why can’t an investigator take the time to read multiple sources to help them make up their minds?  Even if there are a lot of people with axes to grind posting about Mormonism, it seems to me that a person with strong faith and conviction could easily overcome those obstacles.  Moreover, if there are a lot of people with axes to grind, maybe that should tell you something about the church itself.

I guess I can understand being a member of a church you love and feeling like everyone misunderstands it.  On the other hand, if you expect people to join your church, you should be open to allowing them to make an informed decision.  Mormonism and Methodism are not much alike.  They have different beliefs.  The newcomer looking for a new church should do her homework for her own sake, and that of her kids.  I did notice, though, that she knew something about Mormons.  She responded to the one guy who asked about “significant differences in beliefs” and told him to “Google Mormons”.  I guess she got the message.

On a different note, yesterday I listened to a very interesting discussion/interview conducted by a guy who interviewed a woman raised according to Bill Gothard’s principles.  It was quite eye opening and really put a different spin on fundamentalism.

This guy, Chris Shelton, usually talks about Scientology, but in this video he talks to a woman who was raised in the Quiverfull movement.  Crazy stuff!

Edited to add in 2021: originally, I ended this post with my comments about Jessa’s second pregnancy. But since she’s now had four kids and is living in her sex pest big brother’s old house, I figure that commentary is no longer relevant. I think I’m just glad that I don’t care about going to church. Seems like it can cause a lot of problems for people. I wonder if Josh Duggar would have turned out more normally if he had been raised in a home where he was free to talk about sex. Maybe he wouldn’t have been normal in any case, but I really don’t think fundie Christianity and its many rules and regulations, as well as its clearly misogynistic bent, helped matters at all.

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advertising, social media

Models who “need to be fed”…

Lately, I’ve noticed I get a lot of ads for cashmere. Facebook, in particular, has been bombarding me with ads for cozy cashmere sweaters and pants, which look a little itchy. I’ve also been getting a ton of ads for Neuhaus chocolates, which I actually decided to indulge last week. Consequently, my most comfortable garments are of the nightie variety.

I would never buy a garment from a Facebook ad, even though some of them are tempting. I don’t think most of the ads for clothes found on Facebook realistically represent the garments they’re selling. I’ve read a number of horror stories from friends and strangers alike, lamenting how the quality of that nice looking sweater leaves much to be desired when it finally arrives months later. And good luck actually being able to wear the garment, which is probably sized for a pygmy. I’m size challenged myself. That’s why I buy my clothes from familiar American retailers whose sizes I know.

Last week I noticed an ad for a shapeless cashmere sweater dress. It was being marketed by an outfit called Gentle Herd. The ad featured an extremely thin model. The dress she was wearing basically hung on her, as if she was a coat hanger. Looking at the comments, I could see that I wasn’t the only one who thought she looked way too thin. I wondered how it was that anyone of a more normal size would even have an idea of what that dress would look like. I didn’t comment on the ad itself, but I did see some comments that were much like what I was thinking. Here’s one written by another woman who saw the ad:

Your models are unnaturally skinny. Who knows what the clothes will look like on normal-sized people.

Another person wrote this:

Calling skinny people “unnatural” is just wrong, some people can’t get fat no matter what they try… For a lot of people this IS normal.

To the above comment, I would beg to differ. The definition of “normal” is “conforming to a standard or typical”. I would not say this model represents the typical. Being that thin may be “perfectly normal” for her, but it’s not normal in terms of the general population, unless you’re living in places where people tend to be very slight, such as in parts of Asia or Africa. On the other hand, I do agree that saying she’s “unnaturally skinny” may be wrong. For all we know, this may very well be her “natural” size.

I shared the ad on my page and wrote that she “needs to be fed”. In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have written that. I don’t know the model. Maybe she eats like a sumo wrestler and never gains a pound. I do know there are some people who have a hard time gaining weight. I also know that it’s not nice to body shame, not that I was trying to shame. Honestly, my first visceral reaction to that photo was alarm. To me, she looks unhealthy, although she may be perfectly fine. I’m not her doctor. I don’t know.

Sure enough, someone took me to task for that comment, which appeared on my personal Facebook page. I was a bit irritated about that. First of all, most people don’t like it when their friends criticize or scold them in front of others, particularly over something that, in the grand scheme of things, is insignificant. It would be one thing if I was being outright cruel to someone I know personally who might read my comments. But the model isn’t on my friends list, so it’s unlikely that she would be offended by an offhand comment I made about her and the dress she was modeling on my personal page, which isn’t open for public consumption.

Secondly, even if she did have access to my personal Facebook page, she’s a model, and as such, she should probably be prepared to hear comments about her looks. She presumably makes a living selling fashion to the masses. Since that’s her line of work, people can and will judge her for her appearance. She’s not just some chick on the street who’s really skinny. This is her JOB. She has chosen a career that puts her on display and people are going to comment.

The Gentle Herd dress may or may not be considered haute couture. I don’t know anything about high fashion, since I doubt most of it would fit me, nor would it appeal to me. I like clothes that are comfortable. If they happen to be stylish, that’s a bonus, but above all, they must be pleasant to wear. The cashmere sack dress being modeled by the thin model might or might not be comfortable. I’m not sure it would be flattering on me, though, and this model isn’t really helping to answer that question. She doesn’t have a body type like the vast majority of women I know, with one or two exceptions. Gentle Herd comments that they have different sized models, but none of them are wearing the dress they’re selling.

I remember when I used to watch America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks would, on occasion, take some models to task for being too thin. I am no fan of Tyra’s. I think she’s an obnoxious bully. But when it comes to fashion, it’s about art– but it’s also about business. If you’re selling someone’s artistic vision at a fashion show, yes, you probably should be stick thin. But if you’re selling a sweater dress on Facebook, presumably marketed to the everyday housewife, maybe it would be better to use a model with a more common size.

Anamaria was kicked off ANTM for being too thin. In this case, the judges were saying her “body sent the wrong message”.
At 5:51, Tyra asks Nikeysha what she eats, because she looks so thin. Nigel Barker says he would have to retouch her arms and legs.

But maybe I should have phrased my comment differently. I have been on the receiving end of rude comments from people about my body. It’s definitely offensive, no matter who it comes from. The difference is, though, I am not in the business of selling clothes. And honestly, my comment about the Facebook model was prompted because I couldn’t tell if what she was selling would work for someone like me. I thought that was the whole purpose of using models in the first place.

Anyway… the comments on that ad were pretty much like mine. Some were a lot more offensive.

It’s entirely possible that model is happy and healthy. And I do now regret saying she “needs to be fed”… even if she actually does.

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advertising, disasters, songs, Trump, videos

“Boom, boom, diddum, doddum, woddum, choo…”

I slept fairly decently last night. When I woke up, I didn’t expect to see any concrete election results, since we’re six hours ahead of the United States. It does surprise me that this race is so close. Maybe it shouldn’t, though. A lot of people are extremely rigid about their politics and will only vote for the people in their parties. I suppose I voted that way myself this year, although that’s not the norm for me. I usually try to consider people over political parties. I’m really angry with the Republican Party, though, and I don’t think I’ll forgive the people within it for a very long time.

I don’t really feel like writing more about the election, nor do I want to obsess over the results. The fact is, there are many votes that have yet to be counted. If the mail in votes aren’t counted, I wonder how any state can accurately claim a victor. I usually vote absentee. It’s rare that I’m actually in the place where I’m registered to vote. It started when I was in college. Then I was in the Peace Corps… then graduate school… and finally, as a military wife/overseas expat. My votes probably don’t get counted, which pisses me off, since I have to go to some effort to cast them.

But anyway… I see no reason to sit here and obsess about it. I probably ought to stay away from social media today, too… especially when people post these well meaning but ultimately privileged memes. The truth is, a lot of people’s rights are legitimately at risk. Telling people to “get over it”, which is pretty much what these things do, is disrespectful. But that’s just my opinion, and there’s nothing I can do… so instead, here’s a little silliness.

First of all… Bill got this ad on Facebook this morning. It looks like it’s a new campaign. These jolly dancing African guys, who are dancing with a coffin in face masks that match their socks, say wear a mask or die.

Are the masks for you or for me?

I have to admit, they look like a fun group of guys to hang out with. But they imply that if we don’t all wear a mask, we’ll die. I thought the masks were not useful for the wearer. Personally– I think that message is one reason why people don’t want to cooperate, especially in the United States. In any case, I do think the ad is entertaining if only because it’s just so strange. Upbeat techno music plays as these masked men in their colorful socks dance around with a coffin. What were they smoking when they came up with this idea?

I was singing the old song, “Three Little Fishies”, when I was made aware of Afrisocks. Bill saw the ad on his Facebook feed and had to share it with me. The ad appears to have come out a week ago, so it’s not very popular yet. I wonder what others will think of it.

“Boom, boom, diddum, dottum, woddum choo…”
“I almost had it…”
This is how I feel right now… PLEASE!!!

Yep… I rely on weird and funny shit like this to make it through the day, especially when I see people disregarding how completely horrible the president is. I mean, he could be as fucked up as Jeffrey Tambor singing “Boom, boom, diddum, dottum, wattum, choo” is on Three’s Company, but they’ll still vote for him over abortion rights or a few extra bucks in their paychecks. It’s tragic and pathetic.

Another weird and funny comment for today… a year ago, I learned the German word for “pussy”. I don’t remember why I learned it, only that I did. And I probably should use it more often than I do. Maybe it would make me laugh more. We could all use a few more laughs this year.

Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying your post election day. We’ll see what the future holds. I’ll get back to practicing guitar and reading about Lenny Kravitz. Maybe I should get The Muppet Show box set, too.

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