St. Patty’s Day & Other Things

If you’re interested in my book, Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids without Religion, it will be available April 1st.  Here’s the Goodread’s link, which is having a book giveaway. For any of you around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, there will be a book signing at a Dallas Barnes & Noble in mid-April. I’ll give more details later.

I wanted to send out a thank you to this blogging community, to everyone who shared something for the book and to those who have shared their experiences here, having struggled–as I have—with living in a religious town. Communicating with all of you has helped me feel a lot less isolated.  I hope it’s helped you, too.

Onto other religious things….Happy St. Patty’s day (especially to the O’Sullivan’s)!  I thought a little trivia might be fun. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

Do you know why it’s customary to wear green on this day? Green represents the shamrock, which St. Patrick supposedly used to illustrate the concept of the trinity to Irish pagans. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. For us, it simply represents see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. (Ok. Maybe not.) Three has been a special number for thousands of years, representing triple deities to ancient religions and mythologies, and the Trimurti of Hinduism.

When I was a kid, I used to seek and find 4-leaf clovers, believing that they’d bring me luck yet unaware that the mere idea I was alive to pick them was my greatest luck. I’d pluck them from the stem and press them in a heavy book (ironically, the bible).

What do the four leafs symbolize? Faith, hope, love and luck. In a religious context, the fourth leaf is supposed to represent God’s grace. Funny that being lucky and being “blessed” are the same thing. I am lucky to be alive. I am blessed to have food and shelter.

If you were watching Cosmos last night, you realize that this fourth leaf is a mutation. (Not Intelligent Design, thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson!) And you also know that, if you were to pull that mutant plant out at the roots, you could grow more lucky shamrocks for yourself and your friends. Mankind has been unwittingly playing god for thousands of years.  Now that we understand this, God is quickly receding from humanity’s view.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my friends. We’re alone in this universe, but luckily, we have each other.



33 responses to “St. Patty’s Day & Other Things

  1. I got my book last week and I am definitely loving reading it! 🙂 Thanks so much for letting me be a part of your awesome book. And the awesome lesson in St. Patrick’s Day reminds me I need to go find something green to wear. Or … I could just stay home and not leave the house!

    • Great, Rachael! I am glad the publicist was able to get that out to you. I have not received my copies yet! I soooo appreciate you being a part of the book! I don’t like to wear green, so I joke that I’ll drink green Kool-Aid and make my teeth and tongue green! haha!


  2. Can’t wait for the book, Deb! Thanks for the good wishes on St. Paddy’s Day.

    In the old Celtic religion, the deity was a female trinity: mother, maiden, crone (wise woman), who represented the key stages of a woman’s fertility, which the Celts believed imitated the phases of the moon (waxing, full, waning) and the seasons (planting season, growing season, winter). The maiden represented potential. She was the savior of the tribe because without her fertility, the tribe would die. The mother represented the creator for obvious reasons, but also because earth was understood as a mother as well. When people died, they returned to the womb. This is why we bury bones and ashes in the ground or in caves. The crone represented destruction and purification. In order to purify something, you must destroy what pollutes it (germs, sins, etc.). She was in charge of healing the sick and preparing the dead for burial.

    The concept of the trinity first appears in the writings of Paul and was made doctrine by the 3rd century, but is actually quite ancient. There are also trinities in Hinduism (as Deb stated), ancient Greek religion (the three fates, the three graces), ancient Egyptian religion (Ra, Ptah, Amun) and in Jewish mysticism (the three archangels) among others.

    • Patty, Thanks for the interesting bit about the female trinity! I wonder if the crone became the basis for Lord Shiva. And I didn’t know this fascinating piece (or if I did, I forgot, as usual!): “When people died, they returned to the womb. This is why we bury bones and ashes in the ground or in caves. ”


  3. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Debbie! If my kids get pinched today, they’ll have to blame me — it’s such a non-holiday for me I forgot to put out green clothes.

    St. Patrick’s Day makes me cringe because what it means to me is a bunch of drunk white people congesting my neighborhood when I’m trying to take the kids to the circus. That was Saturday, during the St. Paddy parade. Get out of my way, drunkards!

    On a less snarky note: thank you for the copy of your book! I cannot wait to read it and am so very excited for you. I wish you much luck or blessings, whichever you prefer.


    P.S. I’m loving Cosmos and have a flagrant crush on Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I don’t think we’re “alone” in the universe, however; we just don’t know what else is out there . . . yet (but, yes, I realize you meant that God isn’t watching over us).

    • Hi Amy. I told my teen he was going to get pinched and he said, “I don’t care.” He was probably hoping for attention from the girls!

      You mean the drunks aren’t part of the circus? Maybe they should be! Ha!

      Very true there might be life (or some sort of god-figure) “out there” or in another universe. But, for now, we’re stuck with each other! 🙂

  4. Ha, Hi Debbie! Don’t even get me started on Neil deGrasse Tyson. I think I make my husband jealous the way I go on about him sometimes! We have intentionally kept our eight and five year old boys up an hour past their bed time to watch “Cosmos” the past two Sunday nights. They are loving it! They’re a rowdy lot, but still manage to sit still during the show and ask questions during the commercials. His honorable mention to Carl Sagan at the end of the first show was very, very touching! It made me cry to see Sagan’s influence on a teenager who would later become a well known scientist himself.

    I thought about you when I had an evangelical encounter with a bread vendor at Kroger a week ago. She was an older lady who had already raised her son. We somehow compared notes on our kids eating/not eating vegetables which led to a discussion about her ex husband who is now a vegetarian and saves abused dogs. I told her about a big terrier I’ve considered adopting from a no kill shelter. She somehow had to mess up a good conversation by dropping names, particularly “God”. She insisted that I should adopt the dog I mentioned because my intuition was telling me to do so. Debbie, did you know that intuition was the voice of God? (gasps in snarky tone inserted here) I was trying my best to be polite, trying not to discredit her religious fervency. I told her about the animal I’m interested in receiving emergency medical assistance when the shelter found him because his neck was slit open. She then told me about God giving people like that what they deserve “in the end”. She started talking about how rotten this earth is and how she can’t wait to leave it. I already had words pop up in my mind to tell her, but she had already overstayed her welcome in my grocery shopping. I wanted to tell her that if she thought this planet was really that screwed up she needed to take it up with her precious Gee oh Dee! After all, according to her doctrine, didn’t he create the earth? Hasn’t he given man kind dominion over the planet? Doesn’t he own the cattle on a thousand hills? (I often hate it that I know their God, Jesus and Holy Spirit better than they do because I know their Bible better than what they may ever know it.) But I said none of that, I just faked smile my way out of that conversation with pleasantries as I was finally able to excuse myself from the bread aisle.

    I don’t believe in intuition, I believe in logic. Our brains are constantly trying to tell us important things, but as humans we tend label that process as God/intuition. They’re consistently showing us what to do, but we so often get caught up on beliefs, judgments and feelings that we can’t make heads or tails of the situation in front of us.

    • I used to watch the old Cosmos with my mom. I wonder if she watches it now since she has far more religious than she was back in the day! I remember it being good quality television back then. I think she had a crush on Carl Sagan, lol!

      • Gina, Sagan was quite handsome. I barely remember the original show because I was a little girl. I believe it was on PBS at the time. I’m glad it’s on Fox now. I know that the creators are trying to reach a broader audience than before, but they have some serious competition. I’ve missed “Resurrection” because it comes on at the same time. I’ve been a fan of the main character since his regular role on “House”. I’m just so passionate about information, I want to show my support with “Cosmos” for now. I can watch reruns of the other show another time.

        Neil deGrasse Tyson caught my attention months ago when a blogging friend (Victoria I believe.) shared one of his lecture videos. He had me when he addressed creationists and more less asked “if God is so great and created our bodies, why did he put a sewage system in the middle of an entertainment center?” That did it for me! I’ve been a fan ever since.

        • Charity, I had not really heard of Neil deGrasse Tyson before this show but I hear a lot of good things about him. I can’t believe they are putting all of the good shows on at the same time right now! Sheesh, there is so much garbage on, seems like they could spread out the good stuff and get ratings throughout the week, rather than just Sunday nights. And yes, the old version was on PBS. We only had 4 channels back then so that was the most popular channel in our house at times! My mind was blown with the first episode last week when they talked about the possibility of billions of universes! I love a show that can make one think beyond the “normal” parameters 🙂

    • Hi Charity–It’s great to be able to sit down with our kids and watch something worthwhile! I think the producers did a great job making the show accessible to kids, too.

      That’s a sad story about the dog. So sorry. If you adopt him, hope all goes well and he is quickly on the mend. As for the lady at the store…..sounds like she was happy to share her story but I’m sure she would not have been happy to listen to yours…Too scary.

      Yes, good points, Charity. God/intuition are products of our brains, warning or informing us.

      • Debbie, the conversation with that lady was quite triggering for me. I suffer through a lot of anxiety because I’m so afraid to be myself here in my tiny Southern town. My husband has been trying to encourage me to be myself and to quit walking on egg shells around our neighbors and the rest of our community. One thing I know for sure, it’s given me a whole new respect for Gays, Blacks, the handicapped and for those who follow religions that are not of the Christian persuasion. There’s so much prejudice, injustice and bullying around here for those who are not Jesus believers. The few times I’ve stuck my head out of the closet, I’ve been met with some anger and cruelty. I can’t begin to imagine how hard gays and atheists have it in their communities throughout parts of Africa and the Middle East.

        My husband is getting nervous because I keep bringing up the dog in our conversations. I feel so broken on this side of religion, I still deal with a lot of trauma regarding it and my abusive parents. When I saw the doggie (Tommy) I could relate to his horrible scar and the story behind it. He was so sweet and playful, he made my family giggle. As much as he pulls at my heart strings, I understand the cost, time and responsibility of taking care of another living creature and I don’t take it likely. For instance, I would love to care for every child without a mommy and daddy, but I don’t because it takes everything within me to raise my two boys well.

        Debbie, we enjoyed Tyson’s explanation of the evolution of dogs over the years, as well as how polar bears came about. The kids enjoyed the tree of life regarding the similarities and differences in the DNA of all living organisms. The boys enjoyed all the periods of time Tyson spoke of and how creatures became extinct. Cosmos is really a good program. It has received some criticism for being too flashy, but isn’t science itself a bit of a diva? I think he’s doing a fantastic job hosting the show. He presents the subject matter in a way that is sincere, calm and respectful. I think he’s the best person out there for the job!

  5. I might just have to seek out a copy of your book! I am so happy for the show Cosmos! I didn’t watch it last night because I am kind of liking Believe, oddly enough! It sounds more religious than it is, at least from what I have observed so far. I figured I could watch both shows (I don’t have DVR *gasp*) because Cosmos will air tonight at 10 on National Geographic. I’m just excited to see some better quality television since reality shows wrecked TV in recent years!

  6. I always liked the four leafed clover because for me it spoke of the 4 archetypal elements of creation — earth, air, fire, and water! I’ve never been content with “three” — even if I occasionally posit an idea of a metaphorical goddess, for instance, the favored three “faces” is insufficient. “Mother, maiden, crone” doesn’t work for me — I have to have the 4th as well, the “hidden” face — or the warrior/the queen.

    I tend to think anything that stretches beyond the patriarchal norm get’s labeled “mutation”… but is it? Or is it merely stretching reality’s envelope? We celebrate Guinness Day on this day (or weekend) — noting the famous beer-maker for being a class act in labor relations, health…and now fighting homophobia!

    • Ah, syrbal-labrys. Never thought about that one. Interesting: “I always liked the four leafed clover because for me it spoke of the 4 archetypal elements of creation — earth, air, fire, and water!”

      • While even with my most mystical bent going, I have trouble imagining deities in action (or even ‘interested existence’); I have no problem envisioning the reality we all share as having a “force” of its own in which we all share…. because we are PART of that force.

        So yes, four — the number of the elements, the directions most used, the stable number of well-made chair/table legs is the one!

  7. Hi Gina, I don’t watch much TV–probably about two or three hours a week at most–for the reasons you mentioned (too much reality/mindless TV). You’re right–Cosmos is better quality TV. I thought they did a great job with the show, although I don’t know how it compares with the old one. Did last night’s episode of Cosmos make you wonder what our eyes will look like in another thousand years, provided that we haven’t become extinct?

    • Deborah, I have not had a chance to see this week’s episode but plan to watch it tonight! I am pretty excited to see it. It’s a show I finally look forward to watching! I vaguely remember the old version, but I do remember that it was fascinating back then (I was pretty young). It’s nice to see scientific things being explained and having it make sense. Hopefully this show will stay true to what it is and will continue on past the 13 episodes they have planned!

    • Ok I am watching Cosmos and I am loving all the connections. I have tried to explain to my husband how I think all living things are probably evolved from the same or similar creatures. It’s hard to find a way to say it but the tree of life illustration is great! I think we just assume all animals are so different but they are all very similar. They almost all have symmetry and eyes, nose, mouth, skeletons that are very close in shape if you look closely at them, etc. To me, it seems like we must all come from the same source. Why do almost all animals have eyes? I find that a very interesting question/thought. Oh he’s talking about eyes evolving lol! I guess I should just watch!

      • @Gina. I know-they did a great job with the visuals in the show. Pretty amazing that we were all baked from the same ingredients. We share 70 percent of the same genes with fruit flies.

        What is also awe-inspiring is that we are in a continual state of change, of dying and of rebirth. Who knows what the planet’s species will look like in 1000 or 1M years!


  8. There was a hilarious Family Guy on last night were the gang went in search of God because they were tired of God messing with the winners and losers in football games.

    And I’ll add my voice to the chorus praising Deb’s book and my gratitude for being included. I particularly like the personal experiences she shared from others who wrote her or commented here. As I have said before, I had a fairly painless transition to godlessness but am largely in awe of those of you here who really had to go against the grain in regards to your community or families and I am so glad that you were all generous enough to share your stories and to Debbie for including so many in her book.

    She did a truly marvelous job.

    • Agreed, Lance, I can’t wait for Debbie’s book to come out. I am looking forward to reading the stories of fellow bloggers who have commented here. There’s so much to learn about ourselves and each other. I feel as though Debbie has been the most influential person of my life since my deconversion two years ago. Through this blog I have met other great people as well, such as Mel, Victoria (actually through Jonny’s blog, but this blog led me to his in a round about way), MichaelB, Lisa, Rachael and yourself. I can’t begin to name all the people that I have “met” through this forum that have helped me to heal and grow. There’s so much love and insight on this blog. This is what I had hoped to find in my almost forty years of Church, but rarely ever saw it.

      Thank you, Debbie, for your bravery, compassion and wisdom. I’m so proud of your many accomplishments and I absolutely love how you continue to look for new ways to learn and grow. I know, I’m hogging your blog today. I haven’t done it in a while and I guess I’m making up for lost time.

      Take care Gina, Lance, Debbie and everyone else. I hope you all have a great Saint Patrick’s Day and a fantastic week ahead!

      • I kid Debbie when she says this is a group effort…but it’s really true. Stories like yours are the reason why I first became involved in church/state separation (I was one time interim president of the Los Angeles chapter of Americans United for Church and State Separation). I was tired of seeing people bullied by religionists. When I was the advisor to the student atheist group at my university, I was amazed how students from countries, cultures, or strictly religious families so appreciated the freedom not to believe. It was rather cool to feel you had more in common with someone from halfway around the planet than you sometimes would with neighbors and members of your own community.

        I could not even begin to list the people here who I am impressed with (mostly because of my memory) but you all provide wonderfully illustrative and entertaining insights and anecdotes.

        • For the record in my haste I mangled my group’s name.

          It’s — Americans United for Separation of Church and State

          Info found here —

          It allows believers and non- to work together to be free from government religious indoctrination. As you are all most painfully aware of, it’s a never-ending struggle. If you ever hear the name Rev. Barry Lynn, he’s a well-spoken champion of the cause.

      • Thanks, Charity, for the kind words. It’s always nice to hear from you and to share stories.

    • Thanks, LanceT. That’s nice of you to say. As for the Family Guy, funny that Seth Macfarlane is the producer of both shows…And with FG, there is no such thing as PC!

  9. Congratulations on the book!

  10. Thanks for the memory. When I was a kid, there was a house up the block with a huge patch of clover in the backyard. I went up there all the time to search for four-leafed clovers. I always felt lucky to find one or two. Had I known they could be rooted and grown at home, I might have started my own patch.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s