Heaven is for Real

First, before today’s post, I wanted to let everyone know that Shanan sent this message along to us: “George is back at work!! He is healing and getting better every day, and the more he does, the better he’s feeling. He’s well on his way to full recovery. Please let your readers know, and tell them again, my family is so thankful for every contribution… whether monetary or just words of support. It has all made such a difference!”

So thank you guys for reaching out to Shanan’s family!

Now onto the post for the day….

Heaven is for real folks. I’ve seen it. This kid has seen it, too. There are some things you need to know.

Heaven is crowded. And loud. There is standing room only. If you arrive unexpectedly, you may have to wait to enter. There is not really anyone there to greet you–it’s more like opening the door to a large frat party where a handful of people boisterously holler at you and the rest carry on with their drinking and merry-making.

The truth that needs to be told is that everyone gets in. I mean everyone. It doesn’t matter what you did or did not do on planet earth. Apparently, we got the story wrong. You know what happens when people don’t write things down right away. In heaven, you’re not judged by the car you drive or how beautiful you are. Everyone is equal. Everyone is the same. There are no fancy clothes. People don’t even have faces, which makes it darn difficult to find your loved ones. (You just have to keep asking around and hope that someone knows.)

Guns are prohibited. In fact, everything is prohibited: food, alcohol, chewing gum, books, bicycles. There is no eating or drinking allowed. Subsequently, there is no defecation or urination, but there is also no fornication. Talk about booooring.

Your pets will be there, by the way. Yes it appears that animals have souls, too. Unfortunately there are no bark collars and no leashes in heaven. All you hear is barking, barking, barking. You’ll hear chickens and cows and birds, too, but the dogs are the worst because they like to be close to people. (Big mistake making them “man’s best friend.”)

You don’t get to sleep or eat or work or watch TV, so you better enjoy all that now while you can. Yeah, who would’ve thought work was enjoyable? Just spend an eternity doing nothing, and you’ll be begging for a job to do. You don’t get to play. You can’t golf or run or drive cars. So do all the playing you can before you make your final vacation plans to “paradise.”

Everyone is awake all the time. And they talk and talk and talk. If you like to talk, trust me, after a few thousand years of nonstop yakking, you’ll be begging for earplugs. Some people get bored and sing. This is not always a good as certain voices get the dogs howling. (The harp thing is complete BS. There are no musical instruments allowed either.)

I was not able to speak with the man in charge, the big guy. Word is he rarely speaks to anyone, being old and tired. I did hear the story of Adam and Eve is complete bollocks. As are most other stories we tell down here. There are no such things as angels or devils, and there are no plans for these sorts of thing.

Being that heaven is so very far out in outer space, not only is it beyond frigid, it’s also very damn dark. Heaven doesn’t have any nearby stars or planets–that’s how it’s escaped detection by the living. There are no beautiful sunrises or sunsets (what did you expect in such a remote location?). There is nothing to smell. No flowers. No cookies baking. No favorite perfumes. No new car or new baby smell. There is nothing to touch either. No warm skin. No soft blankets. Forever and ever.

Heaven is for real. See what we have to look forward to?

God Loves You. God Loves You Not.

 

We’ve all heard these ubiquitous sayings before: “God loves you unconditionally.” “He loves you so much he sent his only son to die for you.” (Wait, what? I thought we were all his sons and daughters?) “He gives his love freely.” “He will never leave you.” “He will love you eternally.”

But let’s be honest. “God” doesn’t love you. And if you’re a believer, you don’t really love God.

It’s you that you’re loving. You love a projection of yourself.

(I can hear it now: You can’t tell me how I feel!)

Right. How I feel. It’s all about the self. Those feelings humans call love—the affection, excitement, longing or desire–they’re an intangible cocktail mixed by the chemical bartender in your body. They don’t go anywhere or serve any purpose other than to motivate you to meet a need, to incite you to actions or behaviors that will preserve your body and perpetuate the faceless, voiceless genes inside.

I know. It’s all become so complicated.

The commercialization of love over the past few centuries has made the concept lucrative and even more convoluted. Think of the many businesses that thrive on love: wedding planners, jewelers, greeting card companies, florists, churches, divorce attorneys. It’s big business.

Religion is no doubt the biggest—it’s been reaping the rewards for thousands of years. It employs a god or gods, along with an entire cast of loving-inducing characters, including, but not limited to, Mary, Jesus, the Saints and guardian angels. Religion sells hope, community, comfort and, most importantly, love. God is really the only “person” who loves you unconditionally; no matter what you do or say, he loves you.

(Well, he still might send you to hell or a holding tank. Forever. Where you will be tortured. Forever. But never mind that.)

You can always count on God right? You just have to talk to him, and he listens. Well, my pillow listens, too, and responds in the same way as God.

Most people know that we cannot have a relationship with Prince Charming or Cinderella. These are imaginary people. They’re the embodiment of our wishes and hopes, our ideal selves. Relationships are only born when two conscious, breathing people have similar feelings in parallel. Does it make sense to “love” God?

Even more problematic, how would God love us as his “children”? If he were real, he’d simply be loving his own creation, not his offspring but his product. We would not be any more a part of God than a painting is a part of an artist, than Frankenstein’s monster is part of Dr. Frankenstein.

This way of looking at love may seem very dark and sinister, but it’s not. It’s nature’s genius at work. It’s how we protect and honor ourselves and our fellow man.

Understanding gives us power. From this perspective, love is not fickle or blind. We’re recognizing that what binds us is not the feeling of love but the commitments, duties and obligations we have for each other. Love is a reasonable and rational process of how we meet our own needs as well as those around us. It is not abstract; it is a feeling that inspires concrete actions. We can see and hear love. It means that we keep our word; we speak softly and kindly; we honor the commitments we make.

Love is about us, but also, not about us. We have an obligation and a duty to make the world a better place, to be our best selves and to continue to progress as a species in both our understanding of our psyches and of our place in the world.

God loves us not. But we are no better or worse for it.

Q&A

Hope you all are having a great weekend.

Sorry for this late notice, but if you’re interested in tuning in, I will be on Radio Amerika Now tonight at 10:00pm CT. There will be a Q&A about raising kids without religion. For more info, see here: http://radioamerikanow.com/?p=7667.

Where Are the Women?

Ten years ago, I started this blog, originally on Blogspot, because I wanted to express my frustration with living among so many religious folks. I had other blogs, but I was most passionate about this one because it arose out of my daily frustrations and out of my desire to connect with other moms. Surely, I thought, there must be others out there, somewhere, who were dealing with similar issues.

And after the books started rolling out, written by the new atheists, I wondered, Where are the women? Why are there only men talking about atheism and unbelief?

And why do the polls reflect that there are three times more male atheists than female? Does that mean men are more likely to reject dogma, to be leaders in free thought?

I don’t think so.

I think women have been marginalized and remain on the fringe for several reasons.

First, just like religion, men are still viewed as voices of authority, as the go-to people on matters philosophical and intellectual. If you doubt this, just Google “Important modern philosophers” and see how many women you can find. (My count is zero.)

Now close your eyes. (Oops, you can’t do that and continue reading.) Ok. Keep your eyes open but imagine that you are on an airplane and there’s a lot of turbulence. Then you hear something hit the wing and the right engine starts making a funny sound. The pilot comes on to tell you there’s trouble, and they’re looking for the next available airport to make an emergency landing.

Is the pilot’s voice male or female? Most likely, it will be male because, in addition to the fact that only 5% of commercial pilots are women, females are still viewed by many as the more emotional, less rational gender, and the last thing nervous travelers want in times of crises is a woman flying their plane.

But the truth is genitalia doesn’t predict a person’s ability to deal with stress. If men were more calm and collected, then we wouldn’t have so many men charged with assault or domestic violence crimes. Women are more cooperative, more likely to play supporting roles and to ensure that everyone is happy and getting along. They’re also more likely to be serving you a soda than flying your airplane because putting themselves in the cockpit (an ironic word) means that they place themselves in a solitary position of power. That’s difficult for many women to do, not just in flying but also in piloting any sort of movement. We prefer to work together. We know it takes a village.

Second, women are sisters, friends, daughters, coworkers, neighbors and mothers. In all the sundry roles we fill, we are socialized to be agreeable, to make nice. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many of us have little eyes watching us and little ears listening to us. We have to set a good example for our kids. And just as important, we don’t want to alienate our friends, family and coworkers who do believe. Most of us don’t want to argue and bicker about religion, so we’re not going to admit to our unbelief out loud. It just causes too many problems. I know that many of you feel this way because you’ve written to me privately.

When I hear, Where are the women atheists? I suspect that they are like me, reluctant to use the word “atheist” because of all the baggage it carries with it, concerned that coming out will push away the important people in their lives. I know that there are a lot of women out there who don’t believe. And it is incumbent on the rest of us, those who are out and who are vocal, to offer support to those who are still in the wings.

It takes all of us, working together, to make changes. Because whether we are out to our family and friends or not, we all have an important, common goal: raising and defining the next generation of unbelievers.

Fights worth Fighting

I’m not so concerned about the crosses that are left on public property, especially memorials in cemeteries throughout our nation. Many of these crosses are now a part of history, and while they are not inclusive, I don’t believe they’re particularly exclusive either. I think it’s a waste of time and money to take these issues to court; they also create a lot of unnecessary hostility between believers and nonbelievers.

Money is better spent, it seems, on pursuing more important issues in education and government that affect our future: keeping ID out of science textbooks, God out of the classroom, prayer out of public meetings and religious symbols off public property from this point forward.

With the growing number of Nones, no matter how diverse the group is, the consistent message is that Americans are rejecting religion. We want it kept where it belongs. So it is particularly irritating when a public official defies a judge’s order and opens a meeting with a sectarian prayer anyway.

Robin Bartlett Frazier, a commissioner from Carroll County in Maryland, opened last week’s budget meeting with a prayer that contained references to Jesus Christ, stating that “she was willing to go to jail to fight the preliminary injunction ruling.”

Take a seat because it gets better. The judge had given the okay to open with a prayer as long as it did not represent a specific religion. These words were approved for use: “…Lord God, our Creator, giver and sustainer of life, the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Heavenly Father, Lord our Governor, mighty God, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, creator of planet Earth and the universe and our own Creator.”

But that wasn’t good enough. Frazier wanted to stand up for her particular brand of belief. She said, “We’ve been told to be careful. But we’re going to be careful all the way to Communism if we don’t start standing up and saying ‘no.’”

Does she mean, standing up and saying no to government officials who think their superhero or their favorite team should be everyone else’s, too? Or maybe she would be happier (as I would be) if the judge just said no to any and all prayer. After all, there are special places for prayer, and they’re called churches, homes and heads. Yeah, a moment of silence would work, too.

I’m glad that Frazier will go willingly to jail since she’s basically given every American the finger in deciding that she and her belief system are above the law.

These are the types of issues we should be fighting.

Book Review and Labels

First, thanks so much to Lisa for her review of Growing Up Godless. She’s an intelligent writer and book reviewer, and it means a lot to me that she gave the book a thumbs up.

Second, with the popularity of Cosmos, I wanted to share this video with Neil deGrasse Tyson answering the question, “Atheist or Agnostic”? I understand his concern with labels, especially with the hostility between believers and nonbelievers. What are your thoughts? Does his stance help the secular movement or hurt it?

Pat Robertson Says Atheist Women Likely Raped

Well, I gave myself a nice big face palm when I saw this one. Thanks, LanceT for sending along the link.

Robertson says that atheist women were likely raped, and that’s why they reject god. It’s the devil’s work, you know. I wonder if this is true for men, too?

But the question asked by “Sandra” is what really gets me. Sandra wants to know why the atheist woman gets angry when the topic of God is brought up. Should she just abandoned her attempts at saving this woman?

Helllll-o. Surely, no one is that clueless.

No doubt the coworker is as irritated as the rest of us and just wants to be left in peace. (You know, the thing that Christians preach.)

But the most frustrating part is that we know Sandra could care less about what her coworker wants. A new recruit would be just the thing she needs to move her to the head of the heaven train.

So when your coworker says no, no, no, and you don’t respect her wishes, who’s the rapist now?

Family Matters

Well, I can only hope that the SCOTUS does the right thing tomorrow when it hears arguments from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood challenging the ACA on religious principles.  No, you should not be able to decide for and to judge your employees with your cherry-picked views on what your god or goddess would want. If Hobby Lobby has the money to throw away on lawsuits, it must charge way too much for its craftiness.

Onto other family matters….Like many of you, I try to remain tolerant to other’s beliefs. After all, we have relatives and friends, coworkers and neighbors who are of all different faiths, and we all want to get along. But every week, I receive emails about the frustrations of dealing with religious family members who are not very tolerant of our lack of belief.

Usually, it’s the grandparents, but sometimes there are issues with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles—even the other parent. I get that believers are encouraged by their preachers to save lost souls. I get that our parents are terrified they will look down from heaven and see us burning in hell. But these are their unsubstantiated fears, wants and desires, and our families need to understand that we don’t share them.

So, I’ll give one example, and if you’d like to add your concern or suggestion, please feel free to join in. Jessica is 9 years old. She is being raised by secular parents who have talked with her about God. (For example: “Some people believe in a man in the sky who is watching and listening to our every word. We don’t believe this. It doesn’t make sense, and there is no proof. Does it make sense to you? Why or why not?”)

Jessica’s maternal grandparents are devout Baptists, and they want to take her to church. It’s no secret they want her baptized. Jessica’s mom says, no, that’s not going to happen, but she knows her daughter adores her grandmother and wants to please her. And mom knows that having loving grandparents beats the hell out of having no grandparents.

So mom might want to agree to let Jessica go, letting grandma know that she will use this as a lesson for her daughter. Mom realizes that, in her town, Jessica will be up for recruitment by classmates as well as family, so it’s best to show her what religion is about.

It’s important that, when Jessica return home (or after church, if they all go together), mom and dad sit down and talk with her about the experience. What did she like about it? What did she not like? What did the preacher say? Does it make sense? When a preacher makes an outrageous claim (God is watching) that she wants others to believe, she must back it up with evidence. Did this preacher do that? What other things do people believe in that are not true? (Santa, the Easter Bunny, Ghosts, Bloody Mary) By questioning their daughter, mom and dad are empowering her to find her own answers.

This is what I suggest because, if we tell our children “no,” and grandmom becomes upset, our kids will feel responsible, and they will be caught in the middle. They also may grow more curious. So we want to educate our children; we want to expose and brush away the mystery of religion.

Is it right for relatives to pressure us or our kids to go to church? Of course not. Yet by the time they graduate from high school, many of our children will have been to church or to church-based activities with their friends. We need to make sure that they are not easy targets, that, just like discussions of drugs or sex, awareness helps them make better decisions. Talk to them early and often.

Kids are capable of reasoning things out. They will understand.

Down Syndrome

Lisa Morguess has done more to educate me about Down Syndrome than any other person or book.  I have known several moms with DS children, and yet, I never knew their struggles.

I’d like to share this wonderful post she wrote about World DS Day. I hope she will enlighten you, too. IMO, awareness is a huge step in making changes, and it’s a responsibility we all should share.

How to Spot an Atheist

Hi friends and fellow bloggers,

I thought I’d share with you an article I wrote, which is running on the OnFaith site today.