“This is Crazy: Criminalizing Mental Health”- Brave New Films Documentary

Mental health is one of those issue that people talk very little about, but we cannot afford to avoid these discussions, especially when people with mental health are constantly criminalized, abused, and mistreated both in and out of jail because of lack of access to resources as well as the desire of some people to profit of off their incarceration. Please share and keep this in mind next time the topic of mental health comes up.

“The current way in which we administer mental health treatment is failing in America, and we’ve relied upon the criminal justice system to be a safety net- and that is a horrible safety net.” -David Muhammad

“Ultimately, we need to rethink how we view mental illness in this country. We need it treat it as a public health concern, not a criminal justice issue.”

Missionary Work and That One Time I had a Bad Experience with a Non-denominational Christian Group

It has been a long while since I have written- this is mainly because I was at school completing my first semester! But while there, I did come across a few topics I wanted to talk about.

I came into college with an open mind and thought about trying out a few different religious groups/organizations to find one to stick with. It only really occurred to me that there are many different denominations of Christianity. Like a lot. I don’t know what a few of my friends belong to, but I believe they mainly go to the gathering for the Maryland Christian Fellowship. And another girl in my math class is part of the Protestant Church of God, which I had never heard of before she told me.

During the first week of school, I went to Catholic mass at the Memorial Chapel and it was nice- very much what I was already used to. The second week, I decided to try out the Maryland Christian Fellowship, which is “a new non-denominational church serving the DC metro area. We are excited to provide a culturally relevant and practical church. We aren’t about theories or judgments. We’re about experiencing God in all of His grace. Join the experience!” (from their website- as is “Dress is casual – Music is Contemporary – Messages are Relevant”). It was a pretty small group when I first entered the building where they held the service and they were kind and friendly. We waited a few minutes for the pastor to come so we could start.

We eventually went in (they handed us various forms to fill out, one of which was to be completed during the service, I guess? It was new to me). We sangs songs and read passages of the Bible. After that the pastor-Jeff Warner- came and preached. It was more evangelical megachurchish, but tinier. With a pastor preaching at you. I wasn’t really feeling the style of the mass, and didn’t really intend to come back, though it was going fine. However, I completely decided that I wouldn’t come back after the pastor said something that just rubbed me the wrong way.

I don’t remember everything word for word, but this was the general gist: He said when he goes around and stuff, he usually asked groups of people, “What if I told you about a place where less than 5% (10%? It was a small number) of people don’t know Jesus and (I forget the exact number) a lot of women had had sex before marriage (or some type of sexual encounter)?” Then he said he responds with, “You wouldn’t think I was talking about an American college campus [I was thinking you would definitely think he was talking about a campus], you’d think I was talking about some third-world country.”

I sat here like, “What? Excuse me?” because I found it highly offensive. First, I didn’t like it the way he made it would as though anybody possessing these traits was somehow bad or lost or whatever and specifically directing it at people in developing countries made it even worse. It made other countries seem somehow worse or “lower” or something because they were not followers of Christ or that they engaged in sexual acts before marriage.

I also dislike that kind of “us/them” dichotomy that exists with the US and other countries as well as with (I guess, more extreme) Christians and non Christians. As though we are somehow better than them and they are inferior to us. I also sometimes feel oddly uncomfortable with the converting of people to Christianity- like what missionaries do in developing countries (more on this further down). I think it’s cool if someone wants to explore the religions and see what it is like for themselves and convert as opposed to having missionaries come to you and flood you with it, or be manipulative about it.

I hate the idea that other non-Christian people are somehow lesser or lacking and they they need to be “saved by Christ” or whatever. I like my religion for the most part, but not like that. I absolutely do not think that any one religion is the supreme religion or is more right than any other religion. They are somewhat arbitrary. I mean, how did some of these ideas even come about? Each one really just branched from the same need to understand their life on Earth and attribute it to some higher power. But no one is totally correct and I hate how it seems that anyone who follows “older religions?” (e.g. having sun gods, fertility gods, etc.) is somehow “backwards or behind.” Behind in what?

I have a lot of qualms about my religion and the way it is carried out/ portrayed/enforced, but that is for another day. That incident irritated me so much, and I will most likely never go back, though a few of the friends I mentioned earlier still attend.


So, I went and did a little more research about missionaries and the act of proselytizing.

  1. Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/philip-goldberg/missionaries-in-india_b_4470448.html

“I don’t know if these egregious actions are commonplace or rarities. I do know that they are dishonorable. They’re about coercion, not spiritual conversion; extortion, not the exchange of ideas. And, if I may say so as a non-Christian, they are an affront to Jesus, whom every Hindu I’ve ever met regards as a holy man of the highest order if not an incarnation of God.”

In this article, the author gives his opinions on missionaries who take advantage of native people, particularly those in rural areas and in poverty. Oh course not every missionary engages in these practices, but it is shameful that such things even exist. And that is the kind of missionary work that I am vehemently against.

2) Christian Missionaries Target Every Single Component of Hindu Society

http://indiafacts.org/christian-missionaries-target-every-single-component-hindu-society/

This article come from a part of the Indian side of issue. This person is beyond appalled, frustrated, and angry at what certain missionaries are doing in order to spread their faith and get people to convert.

This line reinforces my thoughts about how religion should spread. They can preach, and people can come if they want, but they shouldn’t force it or insult and degrade another religion to fit their own agenda. This author also seems to have not had many positive experiences with Christian missionaries:

“If at all the generic Church wants to sell Jesus in India, let them try to sell him with their own testaments. Let them not steal Hindu scriptures, symbols and rituals shamelessly.”

I also wanted to offer my thoughts on the New Community Bible- I think it would be okay, if it was just a book, comparing the two religions and detailing the similar aspects. But it is definitely not okay to say that one trumps the other or to insult Hinduism. But, knowing that the sole purpose of this book is to get Hindus to convert, any positive knowledgeable intentions seem questionable.

3) Why did/do Christian Missionaries Try to Convert People to Christianity in India?

https://www.quora.com/Why-did-do-Christian-missionaries-try-to-convert-people-to-Christianity-in-India

Here various people give their reasonings as to why Christian missionaries tried/try to convert people, particularly in India.

4) How Missionaries Work

http://money.howstuffworks.com/economics/volunteer/information/missionaries.htm

This site gives a more objective and historical view of missionary work. Every section is worth reading, but I just want to point out a few: 1- a brief summary; 3- details techniques and some controversies;  5- missionary work for other major religions (the Judaism aspect is interesting); 6-modern missionary work (which for some is more humanitarian as opposed to converting.)

Sunday Quotes: Conquering and Language

These quotes go a bit deeper. But  yesterday, after going to a senior living home to sing with a group from my school, I had a conversation  with one of my friends and another girl in the group who drove us about Nigeria- what it is like, differences, etc.

The conqueror writes history; they came, they conquered, and they write. You don’t expect people who came to invade us to write the truth about us. They will always write negative things about us, and they have to do that because they have to justify their invasion in all countries.

Miriam Makeba

There is a tragedy in the way in which language literature is being marginalised. Language is a filter of consciousness. The loss of language is the loss of culture, philosophy, of richness, as if the portion of the earth has disappeared. We should support the preservation of language literature. We need many languages, we need it for the richness of humanity.

http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ws240112JLF.asp

Sunday Quotes: Seduction, Wasabi, and Opportunities

My apologies for not putting up a post last week, so I added a few more quotes to this weeks post:

For who so firm that cannot be seduced?

-Shakespeare

The human tongue is like wasabi: it’s very powerful and should be used sparingly.

-Quentin, Paper Towns

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!

-Richard Branson

Between the Books

On Thursday I walked, for the first time, into the main library on our school campus. It sits on the west end of the large (and very green) mall situated in the middle of campus, looking very gorgeous and library-like. In my Chemistry Lab course, we were doing a literature search to understand how to navigate the library system and all of its workings. I had found a book online dealing with a particular pollutant (1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane, if you must know) and had to find where it resided in the library.

In the afternoon, after going to Math discussion and studying for a bit, I made my way over to the mall. It was very active as my school was having what they call the First Look Fair. Almost all of the 900+ campus organizations, actively looking for new members, have tables set up. It’s a chance for freshman, like me, and other students to browse the plethora of sports clubs, Greek organizations, community service organizations, and many others. It’s a two day event and I had already when through the whole thing on Wednesday, so I didn’t stop to look around.

I walked up to the front doors of the library, which I had only been in for cursory amounts of time when I was visiting the school, and entered. It was pretty busy inside, but I was able to make my way to the Reference Desk and ask for a Location Guide. The man at the counter explained where I would find what I was looking for, mentioning that I would find it on one of the shelves with a wheel that you cranked. I had never heard of this before in my life, but I said okay and took the stairs up to the fourth floor.

The way the library is set up is as you go higher, it gets quieter. I was on the fourth floor, which was virtually silent, so I can only imagine what the 7th floor is like (I’ve heard you can’t wear flip flops up there). I navigated my way to the Government Document Section and finally understood what the man said about the shelves. They looked like this:

crank book shelves

but they filled the entire length of that floor, and it was an amazing site. The wood was a gleaming chestnut with black cranks that made it surprisingly easy to move the shelf. I found the row I was looking for, and created a space that was large enough for me to fit snugly in.

You know how in movies, people will walk amongst rows of shelves looking at books? I was actually doing it and the experience was surreal. There was this overwhelming feeling of comfort as I stood there and marveled at everything around me. Plus it was absolutely silent with no one else there, which made it even better.

Still marveling over all of this, I picked up my things and left, but stopped because I noticed that they had a shelf full of Congressional Records dating all the way back to the late 1700s. Wow. And they were just chilling there. I picked up a few to see when they were published. The first one I opened was printed in 1972. I thought that was old until I got to the very old ones which were printed in 1854. There I was standing with a book 150 years old in my hands. It was fascinating and thoroughly exciting.

I left the library feeling elated and awed. I love to explore and, I pledge today that by the end of my four years, I will have explored as many inches of that library as possible, as well as the other libraries, and any other building I find intriguing.

Wish me luck 🙂

Sunday Quotes: Simple Pleasures and Spiders

I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simple pleasures of existence.

-Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars

I really loved this book when I read it, so I pulled out many quotes that I liked. In regards to this one, frankly, life is too short to deny oneself these simple pleasures (laughing, eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, or in the book, looking at a beautiful person). So whenever I can, I make sure I can give myself these pleasures and enjoy them as much as I can.

F*** spiders! Turtles eat spiders for breakfast!

-These guys at a football game I went to.

I went to my school’s first football game of the season yesterday. The mascot of the team we played against was the spiders. So you can imagine a bunch of rowdy young men (possibly drunk) randomly screaming these insults.

College Blues

Have you ever felt any kind of deep and intense loneliness? Especially when you are in a somewhat new environment with a lot of people you don’t know? It’s the worst feeling isn’t it?

It seems like everyone is talking and having a good time and getting to know each other and you are just standing on the outside, observing, looking in, alone. Frankly, especially in this day and age, a person isn’t usually left completely alone. A smartphone is a handy dandy tool for distraction and the desire to feel less singular.

Well this is how I’ve felt for the past few days now in college. Last Tuesday, I went to the camp for the Honors Program that I am in. It takes me a while to make friends and I’m pretty quiet and introverted, so I don’t jump in and talk all the time like most people do, so I kind of just felt like I was there. It also seemed like most people there already knew others. That was pretty disheartening because it is difficult when you first meet people to try to talk to those who already seem pretty close to each other and who also desire to stick together in this new environment.

Sometimes you think you’ve make some sort of connection with someone, but then it is hard to hang out with them because they’ve suddenly started hanging out with other people, but you can’t form any other connection with those other people. Then there is trying to initiate conversation, and you try and think of things to say so that you might find something in common. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. It didn’t really work for me.

During the second day, I felt a bit better because we did some more bonding activities, which involed more talking and interaction with the people in our group and others in the camp.

When we returned, our University hosted a Fall Welcome week that had a plethora of activities- sports game, info session, interesting events in the evening- which all seemed extremely enjoyable, but then I experienced that mini anxiety I feel when I wonder who I will go with because I am not immediately hanging out with someone.

It’s not a fun feeling. I took a year off, so I don’t see many people who were in my graduating class, though I saw many in the grade below me, but they already knew each other and I didn’t talk to them in school much, or now.

My mood goes up and down, depending on how much I interact with people and how much they interact with me when I am around them. Hopefully things will perk up a bit more soon. I have only technically been to 2-4 classes (Bio lecture and lab; Math lecture and discussion) and clubs have yet to actively start up (also I haven’t officially joined any yet).

I’m hoping things get better. It is a gradual process, especially more me, since I don’t really show my true self until I really get to know people more. But as I continue this journey, I know that I will meet people who I’ll click with and become friends with, I guess I just wish it would happen sooner. I like being alone, but not that alone.

Also, college is hard and I only started the semester on Monday.
Wish me luck! 🙂

Sunday Quotes: Enlightenment and 666

Have the courage to use your own understanding. That is the message of Enlightenment.

-Immanuel Kant

*I believe I may have gotten this from World History class in 11th grade.

Please turn to number 666, Go Make of All Disciples. Number 666.

-From when I went to mass this afternoon. I thought it was definitely a bit odd, being that 666 is been by many in the Catholic Church to be the number of the devil. Now that I think about it, I thought maybe they would skip this number, similar to how some hotels don’t have a 13th floor because they consider it bad luck. But, oh well.

Sunday Quotes: Mardi Gras and a Bouquet Toss

“Life is like one big Mardi Gras. But instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain, and if they like what they see, you’ll have more beads than you know what to do with.”

-Ellen DeGeneres commencement speech at Tulane University in 2009

“You can go, but don’t catch it.”

-My Uncle C to me and his daughter (both of us 18) when we went up to participate in the Bouquet Toss at a wedding reception we went to on Saturday the 22nd.

Something especially funny about this is that the bouquet literally fell at my feet (I was so afraid that it would hit me or land on my head) and I just looked down at it, waiting for someone to pick it up.