Monthly Archives: May 2013

Your stories

Some of you know that I’ve been working on a book that will be published next spring. Thanks–so much–to those folks who have participated. Adding other voices makes for a much more interesting read.

I am looking for a few more stories from non-believers who are ex-Muslim, Hindu or Mormon. If you would like to share your experiences, please e-mail me at kidswithoutreligion@gmail.com.

Glenn Beck

I couldn’t pass this up….

If I’m not mistaken, the signs of mental illness include paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. You know–believing that evil forces are conspiring against the forces of good, or thinking that you’re better than everyone else because you believe in an “invisible guy in the sky.”

In this interview with Glenn Beck, we learn that Beck thinks Wolf Blitzer was involved in a plot to promote atheism. Because, as some of my FB friends say, “CNN is an atheist network!!”

Although Beck acknowledges that he really does like atheists, he thinks that Christians need to “prove that they were better.”

What the heck? Did he stick out his tongue after that Christian-elitist comment?

Beck says, “Have I done anything this week, have you done anything that would make anyone say, ‘Wow, what is it about them? I want to be like that. I want to be able to provide hope to others in dark times,’” the radio host said. “If you haven’t done anything different than what an atheist can do this week then your light is not shining very bright at all.”

And what exactly can a Christian do that an atheist can’t? Well, we can’t tell stories about made up super-heroes or horned bad guys and swear that they’re the truth and nothing but the truth. We can’t pretend that we’re super-duper special and that God has orchestrated a life of joy for us now and one for us later. We can’t lie to our friends and tell them that God’s going to take care of them.

Because he’s not. We are. We take care of each other. We don’t think we’re any “better” than the next guy or gal. We all have equal animal status. And we don’t think the forces of evil are having their way with CNN.

But the funniest part of this interview was the Forrest Gump-like truth that spilled from Beck’s mouth:

“Because, quite honestly, if there is no difference, I mean, wouldn’t you rather stay at home on Sunday? Wouldn’t you rather just go ahead and just do what you wanted to do and not listen to some invisible guy in the sky?”

Yes, we would.  I bet Mr. Beck would, too, and if he’s like a lot of his fellow church-goers, he’ll only make it on Christmas and Easter anyway.

If the only difference between staying home and going to church on Sunday is “listening” to some “invisible guy in the sky,” then what’s the point? I don’t think that invisible guy is going to talk to him either. At least non-believers are at home doing something. We’re seeing and listening to real people.

Now, how exactly do Christians prove they are better?

Evangelizing

Wow. There’s just so much to write about these days. Let’s start here: Someone (thanks, Mel!) sent me a link to this story about Daryl Banther and his 8-year-old son. The poor guy. He just wanted to hand out pamphlets and religion “surveys” to unsuspecting festival-goers in Georgia. But the cops chased him away.

Now he’s considering suing the city of Ringgold, GA, because, as he says, “I have rights…They’ve taken all the Christian rights away.” He used the example of an atheist at a football game. If the atheist doesn’t like the prayer being said, “they can get it taken out of the football game.”

Of course, if they were praying to Allah at a football game, we know he’d be the first one on the ground, throwing a hissy. He just doesn’t get it.

What evangelicals fail to understand is that their beliefs are personal.  Hello. Like a favorite football team. Like a favorite restaurant. Like a favorite brand of deodorant. I don’t want him rubbing his deodorant on me or my kids. (I know, eeeew.) I bet you don’t either.

Thing is, he’s not really doing any harm. Not really. He’s more of just a pest, like a fruit fly, only bigger and hairier and waaay more annoying.

This whole situation is funny to people like us: the guy wants an apology. And he’s gonna come back, whether we like it or not. He thinks he should be allowed to pedal God. In a way, I agree with him. But there’s an appropriate time and place for that. He can stand in his own yard and do that, though if he were my neighbor, I’d have to move. Hell, we all, as tax-payers, even provide him with a place to meet with fellow “persecuted” Christians: his church. They can stand in front of their church and wave folks in like the wacky wavy-arm guy.

But here’s what is really sad: This guy and his kid have been conditioned to believe it’s not only their right, but their duty to pimp for the divine trifecta. And he can’t understand anything else. You’ve seen that illusion of a young and the old lady, right? Well, some people, no matter how hard they look, they can only see the old lady, not the young one. Or vise versa. Their brains are just stuck in one gear. Is that his fault?

Do we lock this guy up for being an almighty dumb-*ss or do we have a little sympathy for the poor fool and the son he’s raising?  Hmmm.

Ooops

Sorry guys. I was cleaning up my draft box and accidentally published a draft. My bad.

Tough Decisions

We blink and yet another school year passes. Our kids get closer to the finish-line of childhood, and we just hope that we’ve taught them well and well enough. Though having two kids, I realize that perhaps I don’t have a lot to do with the way they turn out. My oldest, that first day I held him, was quiet and studious. He’s remained that way. The younger kid, he was fighting right out of the shoot. When he was born, the first thing I asked the doctor was, “Why is he so loud?” He was, and continues to be, recalcitrant at every turn: the terrible twos right up to the even worse teens.

god insteadPerhaps the only affect I know for certain I’ve had on my kids is that they feel more in control of their lives than their classmates. When my older kid’s friends were over the other night, I asked one of the girls what she was doing next year for college. She told me, “I’m just waiting for Him to decide.” She pointed her finger up towards the sky. I nodded. She continued to explain the two options that lay before her.

You and I know that she’s simply postponing the difficult tasks of making a decision. We know, too, that it’s not God that works in mysterious ways, but our brains. By sitting on a decision and allowing some time to pass, sometimes our subconscious minds are able to sort through our options and help us decide. Sometimes, sh*t happens and decisions are made for us—a parent loses a job and college is no longer an option, or a deadline passes and an option is lost.

But not taking any action is also a decision. So while this young woman waits, hoping that “He” will decide, she has also decided not to take the reins of her future, not to put in the effort to think things through now.

Although no one is “watching out” for our kids as they start on their own adventures, you and I know, too, that there is also no imaginary man making decisions for them. They will have no God to ask, but also no God to blame.

(I just hope the girl doesn’t take that stance towards birth control: He decides. Speaking of teens and sex, fellow blogger Lisa Morguess wrote about this topic recently. Check it out; she’s got some great ideas: http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/courage-in-parenting.)

Have a safe and relaxing holiday!

An Interview with Wolf Blitzer

She’s a young, articulate mother holding an adorable kid, and she’s grateful that they’re safe and unharmed.

At the end of the interview (check it out here) Wolf Blitzer asked her if she “thanked the Lord,” and after an awkward pause that you and I have, no doubt, felt before, she reluctantly says, (uncomfortable giggle) “I’m actually an atheist.”

Score!!!!

And she was sweet and gracious and so freaking….normal.

Every time the world sees a person like this, the door opens just a little bit further.

The irony? She and her don’t own cell phones because they don’t want to succumb to the modern world. And yet, she’s so ahead of her time.

Hard Luck

I’m going to start counting how many times a day someone talks to me about God (or their church) or someone talks about God in the media I read or hear. Yesterday, the count would have been high for both.

Just one example: In Granbury (about an hour from Dallas), six residents were killed by a tornado. Seven were still missing. In yesterday’s paper, we learn that tornadogoing to church (a Baptist church) saves lives. A 26-year-old man and his family were spared by attending  the night of the deadly tornadoes. His house was leveled, but the church was spared. The hardest-hit neighborhood in that town? The Habitat for Humanity project. Kind of ironic, huh?

In Granbury, the hardest-hit neighborhood was Rancho Brazos, which had 61 homes built by Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds homes and sells them to low-income homeowners at cost.

With more bad weather heading our way this week, I was considering seeking shelter in a local Baptist church. But a quick search of churches and tornadoes yielded millions of hits for stories of downed places of worship. In fact, one church in Guy, Arkansas, was hit by 3 different tornadoes on the same day. Guess someone wanted that church down. Maybe they owed God money.

It’s not really funny–the damage that tornadoes do to people and places. But it just goes to show there is no correlation between weather events and who or what is spared. Bad or good luck. That’s it.

Why everyone doesn’t think this is baffling, but it seems that when a church is spared, it just reinforces the idea that God saves (for some lucky folks). And when God (oops) accidentally plows over a church in his angry rampage? Well, he was sending a message about what a big disappointment we all are. Just keep the faith. If you are lucky enough to see that your church was razed, God spared you.

The Big Day

Today is the big day. My younger kid has a motocross race that he’s been anticipating for weeks.

You should know now that I hate that he races. I never watch. I can’t.

I wake up all night long the day before, terrified, thinking of all the possible ways he could get hurt–or worse. I lay there, tossing and turning, hoping that tomorrow night, I’ll get a more restful sleep once the day’s races are over and my kid is safely in his bed.

That’s when I think of my grandmother. When I’d visit her, I’d wake up early in the morning to find her sitting quietly in a darkened living room with her rosary in her hand. She was praying for her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Praying was her way of finding solace for all those worries that keep you and I awake at night, of sharing the emotional burdens of life, even if the person she was sharing with only existed in her head.

I’d sit down beside her, and she’d pat my leg and whisper, “How you doing, Deb?” She was so sweet and vulnerable and full of love. Having children is a privilege, she’d always say, and then she’d go on to tell me about the three perfect girls she’d had, how they never gave her trouble–not once–because there’s nothing better than time and distance to erase the fine lines and flaws of childhood. Most memories, like a Monet, are better from afar.

I’d sit with her until she was done saying her rosary, her mouth moving silently. Though I never said them anymore, I still, if I didn’t think too hard, could recite the Our Father’s and the Hail Mary’s. I didn’t tell her that I was no longer a believer, had not been for more years than I had been one. She just assumed that I was like so many other Catholics of my generation who stopped going to church but still held to their faith. Sort of.

But that peace she found in her rosary, that exchange of saying prayers for God’s attention to the welfare and safety of people you love, I get that. You and I don’t have a rosary. We’re acutely aware that our kids are at the mercy of others, of nature and of luck, both good and bad. Trusting the wrong person or being in the wrong place at the wrong time could have catastrophic implications. We worry for our kids, who have so little fear, if any, who just see themselves as indestructible super-heroes in one giant playhouse. They have a self-image that is much bigger and much stronger than it should be.

So, we worry. And like praying, worrying is futile. But it is the exchange we offer up to the universe, hoping that, if we think and fret about every possible thing that could go wrong, that will somehow be a prophylactic against it happening.

Charting an atheist roadmap-by LT

     Lance Thruster (or LT as some of us call him) is guest blogger today. Most of you already know him through the comment section. He’s written an interesting post with some additional links below. I look forward to the discussion.
     Atheists have no atheist pope or canonized atheist bible. Freethought is by its very nature “buffet style.” It’s an interesting aspect of non-belief that supposedly in order to counter what is seen by us as misplaced/incorrect belief by the religionists, we are expected to have some sort of ‘solution’ in place as a substitute, as if that is what is required beforehand to oust baseless interpretations of reality. I’d rather be a trailblazer and chart my own course than be compelled to use a ‘map’ of questionable veracity (and by ‘questionable’ I mean wrong and logically inconsistent).
     Sometimes it seems the solution is to work towards a better or more accurate ‘road map’ however incomplete that task is at any given time, and not to treat some claim of ‘revealed knowledge’ as an inerrant guide to life when in reality it might have no more application to our existence than a child’s treasure map on the back of a diner placemat.
     The Age of Enlightenment began a process that broke free of the stranglehold that religious irrationalism had fettered humanity with for some time. Religionists get angry that not every decision human society makes is done by consulting their revealed knowledge texts (though far too many are), but then no one seems traumatized that astrologers are not consulted in making those same decisions either. The rationalist approach doesn’t guarantee progress or that things will get better, but I do feel it is the star by which to steer our ship.
     I’d be interested in your reactions/thoughts on these articles that have appeared on salon.com, many of them quite recently. To see others you might find interesting, type “atheist” or “atheism” in their search field and see what comes up.
Claim that atheists don’t know enough about the religion they criticize – http://www.salon.com/2009/04/28/terry_eagleton/
Better to trust an irrationalist? – http://www.salon.com/2012/07/01/dont_trust_the_godless/
A little about LT:

I am a university staff member who was raised Catholic and become an atheist somewhere in my mid 20’s. The late Prof. Paul Kurtz was my inspiration to become involved in freethought and church/state separation issues as a member of the Council for Secular Humanism and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
I’d like to thank Deborah for allowing me to guest post on her site. She has done a wonderful job of creating a community for freethinkers to discuss the many facets of godlessness.

Happy Mom’s Day

peaceloveMy kids always ask me what I want for ______ (fill in the blank with Mother’s Day, birthday, Christmas), and every time I tell them the same thing. Don’t get me anything. I don’t want stuff. Write me a letter and tell me what I’m doing right. Yet every time, I get a store-bought card with someone else’s words (and being boys, they are not so much into words as into the funny noises the body can make). So, either I’m not doing anything right or my kids are trying to tell me that they don’t like to write. Seeing that I used to make them write book reports over the summer and critiques of commercials they watched on public TV, I get that. When you’re a mom, you just never know if what you’re doing is right. Sometimes great ideas turn out to be mistakes. Sometimes mistakes turn out to be great ideas. I now know that forcing my kids to write did not foster a fondness of it.

A good friend of mine once said, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make with your kids, as long as there is love in the home and your kids feel it, that makes up for everything. That’s what I’m counting on to cancel out all the times I lost my temper or dropped the ball. That’s what I hope is true for all of us, stumbling through life, just trying to be the best mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and friends we can.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there who are working hard to develop a product (kids) that will make a better future for everyone. And thanks to all the men who encourage us.

Peace, love, hope and hugs.