Friday, August 28, 2015

Atheist Teens TALK: The Ten Commandments

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I know I've talked about my secular parenting show that I started a few months ago, but I have another project that I've been working on and I thought I'd share it with you. I started a second show on SecularTv called Atheist Teen Roundtable. I'm not ON the show, but the show's producer...which I'm not at all sure what I'm doing.  :)

Tonight the kids on the show talked about The Ten Commandments.  If you can take it when kids are free with their language and thoughts, watch it!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Small Things that are Huge

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There is love and nature and space and countries and the ocean and weather and our economy and shipping schedules and Hollywood awards shows and the Himalayas and the GNP and tidal times and who is abusing whom and which corporations are crooked and the crisis in the Middle East and death and life and the common core and the tax code and poor, hungry nations and national borders and drug cartels and global warming and cancer and floating islands of plastic in the ocean and eternity and ESPN and, like, whether you vax or not. Then there are the small things.

As a parent I am forever learning about my kids. Nearly every day reveals something to me that I had never considered before or that I had never paid attention to. You know, those moments that take your breath away, that feel exquisitely profound.

My daughter is an actress and she tells me that she can't even look at me when is on stage because my face is too...beamy. I know exactly what she means, but I can't help myself.

What are the moments from today you ask? Allow me to start last night. I took one of the kids to karaoke up in the city, a thing that he loves doing with friends. He barely mentions it all week, but come Saturday night he's in the car and driving away. Since his friends were busy or unavailable I was the next best. 

The little restaurant on some strip filled up with a large group of amazingly normal people. I watched as person after person filtered up to the stage with small scraps of paper, handing them off to the little Oriental fellow behind the console. Who knew that this little world existed?

I enjoyed a dozen people singing everything from Kenny Rogers to Salt and Pepa, voices from The Voice-worthy to, say, my voice. Suddenly I heard my son's name being called. He stood upright with deliberation and, before my very eyes, strode into the spotlight. As I sat on the edge of my seat with beaming eyes, the boy got a standing ovation for  his amazing rendition of a surprising Disney tune. Karaoke, a small thing.

Today, I beamed during the conversation with my other son, a conversation about Twitter. He and I have had about dozen conversations about the Twitter Feminism and how the vibe over there is so very anti-male. John's observation was that many of the memes weren't just pro-feminine, but also tremendously neg-masculine. It struck me; I hadn’t noticed the hostile undertones of this generation’s so-called feminism until he pointed it out to me.

More than the negative vibe, my son talked about how it affects him to be living during this generation of anti-male propaganda. My 14-year-old-son has often made comments about how much he values female things, because he considers all of those things to be human things. My favorite comment that he made about the subject recently is when he said I embrace my feminine side and all of my friends do too!

The small things. Moments of poignant strength, bravery, beauty, wisdom, love. Every single day I am reminded that raising these children to be unique individuals in this non-secular world is valuable beyond measure.


Friday, August 21, 2015

What I Haven't Mentioned...

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What I haven't mentioned here yet is this.
My sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so I'm out in Colorado with her as she has her mastectomy (four days ago), begins radiation therapy (in four days), and chemotherapy (at some point quite soon).

She and I are very, very different human beings and are having some interesting conversations about life, its meaning, its value, mortality, and about a million other things.

She is pretty woo-ey about everything and I think she's frustrated with my pragmatic way. She's quite annoyed with me, actually. I've told her I'm willing to use the verbiage of her choice, but she would know that I was faking it. We are both waaaaay too interested in authenticity in a relationship to fake it.

Brenda and I as Big Sky Point, 9000 ft.
I find that she is talking with her friends about how frustrated and annoyed that she actually is with me. She's entitled.

SO, just in case you wonder if actually looking at mortality changes or diminishes the beauty of being an atheist, I'm here to tell you that it does not! In fact, it is simple and sensible.
 
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In the meantime, I'm enjoying the amazing view at 9000 feet and the hourly changing appearance of beautiful Pike's Peak, we are enjoying ourselves, learning how to use juicing to her health benefit, maintaining our optimism, expanding my sister's posse of bad ass women in the area, and valuing these moments together.



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Sunday, August 16, 2015

What if You're Wrong?

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One of the many common misconceptions and myths that we atheist parents hear from the believers around us, usually said with a horrified or frightened tone, is the question What if you're wrong? What if my belief system of guilt during life and heavenly reward afterlife is true?

What if you're wrong about that science stuff? What if you're wrong about how you interpret the fossil record with the concept of evolution? What if there is a glorious afterlife to reward a life time of worshiping our silent, absent, and often-cruel god? What if there is a hideously agonizing afterlife to punish for free thought and using logic and reason during life? What if we were right to heap shame upon anyone who was not a white, straight, male, monogamous follower of our god? What if we are supposed to carry the shame of being born a human being on this planet?

What if the sheep herders in the Middle East truly do know more about the best way to live life than any thinking person in the current era who uses compassion and love as a starting point? What if our earnest belief in a waterwalking carpenter from Bethlehem is absolutely essential for an eternal reward? What if the hominids of the past million+ years of time were alive a mere six thousand years ago? What if dinosaurs are truly misunderstood dragons? What if violent murders or silencing of innocent victims of rape by elders is truly the preferred way to handle the inappropriate sexual acts of those trusted, respected, or feared elders? 

What if women are truly here on earth in order to populate the planet until their bodies break down? What if the words of men were truly law? What if shaming normal or natural expressions of sexuality was the favored way to handle burgeoning young people? What if an all-powerful entity was truly responsible for the entirety of human existence on this planet? What if we had to seek authority outside of our own conscious to forgive ourselves for events that lead to lessons learned? What if there was truly a god who actually eased the suffering and pain of everyone on the planet?

What if a father blindly following voices of the unseen, insisting that he murder his own child, actually made the agonizing plan to carry out that demand? What if a flood of global proportions had destroyed every living thing? What if a teacher taught mercy but received none for himself? What if freaky Armageddon events were planned for all inhabitants of this planet by an unseen god or spirit?

What if I'm right?

What if natural laws like gravity and the laws of thermodynamics allowed us to understand much of the movement of the universe around us? What if human ingenuity and rationality allowed us to fly beyond the furthest planetoid in our solar system as well as to explore the deepest crevices on the surface of our own planet? What if the intellectual facilities of some humans on this planet caused us to begin to understand the progressions of eons of time, eons that are nearly impossible to truly conceive of within the human mind? What if human perception allowed someone to imagine particles smaller than the human senses can detect, and then someone found a way to actually detect them?

What if our species was able to figure out events that had happened here on this planet millions of years before our species ever became sentient mammals? What if the absolutely predictable movement of objects in the universe taught homosapien sapiens that natural laws govern movement and existence? What if we began to understand how our own bodies worked and were able to move toward better health without the need of magical incantation or intervention? What if our species began to understand that further research will improve understanding and that saying I don't know is the impetus for more opportunities to learn?

What if we gave up the enslavement of fear and embraced the questions? What if we began to truly appreciate all extrapolations of life and living? What if our people as a whole chose to explore true justice, equality, peace, global living, and appreciation for our limited resources? What if, just this moment, everyone on the planet considered the possibility that...what if I'm right?


Your thoughts?

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Check out our newest show on 
Brunch with The Secular Parents: 

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You Deny God Because You Want to Sin

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Complexity of Adulthood

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When I was a believer I remember using all sorts of mental gymnastics to maintain my preposterous belief system. This one time, waaaay back in the day when I was still a believer, I was dating an atheist, a really terrific guy. One day when he and I were on a river canoeing, this boyfriend asked me what explanation I had for fossils in the rock strata. I brilliantly told him that I thought that God put them there to confuse us.

LOL  That guy dropped me like a hot potato!  S
mart guy!!!



Do you have any compassion for those people who are believers and who play these mental games with themselves?  
REALLY? I really want to know what you think.


Because I do.
I can forgive them for their nonsense. I
 hate having the bullshit being made a part of this country in the political system. THAT. But I understand the believers, you know? I want to have compassion. I want to understand their points of view, even though I consider the beliefs to be absurd and complete deception. I want to live in a world where people are not held hostage by their beliefs, where people are not coercive with their beliefs.

Beloved friends and family who are believers have such fear that they express in their weird and often brutal ways... The anger. The prejudices. The nonsense. I wish they were easier to be with. I wish they made it easier to get along.

It was easier back when I first became an atheist and I was just angry. I could just make fun of the belief. I could simply express complete incredulity over the certainty, the insults, and the influence of the believers. It's more complicated now...


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Friday, August 7, 2015

Guest Post: ‘Why I Blog for Secular Parents’ by Me

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Gosh, I'm completely honored and excited to have a piece posted on Patheos on Wendy Russell Thomas's site called Natural Wonderers. Wendy has a blog that I've followed for years called Relax...It's Just God, a blog for atheist readers out there and an author of a book by the same name as her blog: Relax...It's Just God. If you are a first-generation atheist parent and looking for the book, this one is the book! Please do check it out. 
I highly recommend it. 

Seriously, in my years I have read dozens of atheist parenting books and Wendy's book is amazingly comprehensive and well done. 
One of the best!

My post on Wendy's Natural Wonderers Patheos blog is called Why I Blog for Secular Families. It's a blog of the nature that I've written here several times, a post about talking about why I think it is important for me to be an open atheist here on my blog. It's a thing for me, you know?
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I'm working on a new project that I want to share with you. It's completely fresh and undone. It is a project I'm doing with SecularTv again and I'm pretty darn excited about it. The new show is called Atheist Teen Roundtable

The title is pretty self-explanatory. I have a group of teenagers from various parts of the country who will be having roundtable discussions about everything and nothing. I can't wait for you to meet these kids!

Each of the kids on the show is so interesting and unique and informed. Their discussions are so interesting and engaging...I just can't wait for our viewers and listeners to tune in.

Atheist Teen Roundtable will broadcast every Friday night at 10pm CST (check your own timezone). I hope you join us, have your teens tune in, and leave comments on the youtube page to join in the discussion.

I would love your feedback on the show...
Gosh I'm excited. I would love to see it work out!
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You know, I realize I'm kind of one-track these days...I'm working on moving along.  LOL


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Monday, August 3, 2015

How to Talk Religion with Children as an Atheist or Skeptic

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I am certain that one of the most-Googled questions by atheist parents today was How to discuss religion with my children as an atheist or skeptic. That’s because most first generation parents are trying to figure out just what to do. I used to do it, look online for atheist parenting ideas, though the internet was quite sketchy fifteen+ years ago and there was not much to find!  

I love it that the internet is around. It makes it possible for us to share our questions and knowledge and ideas so freely. I thought that atheist parenting was far more difficult just ten years ago when lifestyles and points of view were far more private, isolated, insulated, offline. Years ago felt very alone in my doubt, doubtful of my doubt, fearful of my doubt.

How interesting that this generation of parents is the first generation in the history of humankind to have such resources available to them!  We can get to know intimate details about millions of strangers and how they live their lives, how they make decisions, what they purchase, what they believe, how they solve problems, what they struggle with...  It is amazing!  And fortunate! Lucky for all of those first gen atheist parents out there Googling for information, they will find it.

So what Does an atheist parent 
teach their child about religion?

2001
Remember, raising a child is a process. It starts before your child is born and it continues as long as you live. I promise you, you will do fine. Start today and keep learning for your entire life. There is time.

Because our American culture is so very saturated in Christianity, religiosity becomes an issue very early in a child's life. I remember my then-four-year-old daughter pointing out to me religious references in the world around her, a world that I paid close and deliberate attention to!  "Did you hear that, Momma?  In God we trust."  "Did you hear, Momma, One nation under God."  As a young parent it clutched at my heart.  It helped to know, to remind myself, that she also vehemently believed in fairies, Santa, and magic in those days. Those early years, among other things, are the years of magical thinking, so our children are particularly prone to embracing unrealistic connections between cause and effect, magical ideas and illogical connections.  (If you want to read more about those early years, think Piaget's pre-operational stages of cognitive development, for one.)

Threes and Fours are more likely to invent monsters in the closet.  Momma got sick because I was naughty.  Fairies live at the bottom of the garden.  That thing happened because I thought about it.  My toys are alive.  Something I do make magical things happen.

We parents have one single loud thought in our head:  Without being a complete buzz kill, how do we instill critical thinking into the young minds of our beloved children so that they are able to, when the time comes, separate religion from the rest of the pack of ideas while still encourage imagination and pretend and fun?

2001
It’s actually quite easy once you think logically. Begin by educating yourself on normal childhood cognitive development.  When you begin to understand the role that imagination actually plays in a development of understanding reality, you will feel confident in encouraging it!  You will understand that later years come (ages 7-11) when a child's thinking becomes very concrete and far more unwilling to accept pretend explanations.  These are the years when rules are rules, things are black and white, and your child will be more likely to want to understand how the magic trick was possible.  These are the years when your child will be very interested in pursuing and understanding principles of science and math.

During those toddler and preschool years you will be reading many many many books to your child.  Read some nonfiction.  Read tons of myth stories from other cultures as well as myth stories from the local majority religion. Search your library for the thousands of gorgeous, free titles for the taking. Explore creation myth from every culture you can. Taken all together as pretend, the religion stories of the world will be inseparable from mythology from other traditions.  An ark in a flood will be just as improbable as a baby getting a new elephant head or ants coming up from underground and becoming humans.

2002
Talk about how humans were looking for explanations in the days of myth. We were wanting to answer questions that we didn’t yet have the science for and, lucky for us, today we have science to look to for some answers. Why do people get sick? Where do babies come from? What are the stars? Why do good things happen? Why do bad things happen? Why did we get too little or too much rain? Who are those other people? 

What Else?

Explore the carbon cycle, the rock cycle, and the water cycle together.  Look at clouds. Look through telescopes to see out beyond the clouds, far beyond what our own eyes are ability to see on their own.  Learn about how our feelings and our fears can overwhelm us and make us want to have a parent-like protector.  Learn how the human body works:  illness, healing, sleep, dreams, growth, death, life.  Delight in new technology, appreciating that human knowledge is discovering new things every day.

2002
Be in true awe at the world around you.  Care for the needs of the people in your community.  Recognize that your community is global.  Learn to recognize when a person or cause is attempting to manipulate your emotions.  Have compassion for all people who struggle or who feel bound by a belief system that causes them to behave in unkind or surprising ways.  Be willing to question every single thing.  Make your own rules.  Create a home and a family that are unique to this earth.  It is your creation, your gift back to life.

It is on-going and brave to be an atheist or secular parent.  I have found myself in the position several times when I have given my child verbal or tacit permission to consider the possibility that magic has, indeed, happened and that the unexplained phenomenon was created by a higher being.  I have accompanied my children on walks through stations of the cross, religious memorials, and religious rituals.  In every case, I provided them with the opportunity to accept the message offered by the event.  Also in every case, my children have found the claims to be unbelievable and/or surprisingly silly.

2014
Raising children is a part of being a human being that I take extremely seriously.  Nothing that I have ever done has meant more to me than bringing these children up to be caring, thinking, learning, loving human beings. I have made many many mistakes (just ask my kids!).  But I continue to learn and to become a better me.  And so will you.

So keep Googling and relax! There is much to learn!

LIFE really IS that amazing.



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Raising Atheist ChildrenCount Me Among the Faithful

Total Inoculation: Fables, Folktales, Mythology
You Take My Breath Away
Myths About Parenting:  Morality, Ethics, and Santa 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Is Teaching Creationism to a Kid Child Abuse?

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Are you on social media at all?
If so you have skipped at least a hundred articles and posts this month that are exploring and debating this question.


While I haven’t read a single one of those pieces I’m still thrilled at their existence. The fact that so many authors are addressing the question tells us something exciting, something worth celebrating.

Secular voices are rising! Secular and atheist authors and speakers and bloggers and youtubers and people are finally getting a say. We are at the table. For the first time in my life, atheist people are in the spotlight in very real and lasting ways, putting reason and critical thinking and secular points of view on display, normalizing it! I can’t help the exclamation points; it’s an amazing time to be alive.


I went and read “The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism” from 2012, see Gallop-interanational.com for more information, and learned that, of the respondants, 37% of people claim to be nonreligious or atheists. 37%! That number, according to the same study, is a ten percent rise from a previous study from five years before. That number means alot because is shows us, in part, that people are naming it, claiming it, and identifying as nonbelievers far more openly than at any time in centuries. I think that is exciting!

I know, I know. I know that you are thinking, yeah, but atheists are also still the least trusted demographic, according to that one Pew study. Yeah… I don’t know what to say about that. That’s one of those WTF moments. But I have hope.

I have hope because there is a groundswell going on; more and more people who are in the social and public spheres calling themselves atheists, seeking like-minded associates, and putting their voices on the line. More and more people are using secular terms to describe themselves, to explore social issues, and to guide their lives...openly. More internet resources, more published material to read (most of it still self published, sadly), more atheist conventions and events. More.


Rayven
I hope the question is asked at least a million more times: Is teaching creationism to a child child abuse? Because it is finally considered a plausible question. Because people are answering yes to the question. Because public time and space is given to a question that has bothered many of us for years. PUBLIC. TIME. and SPACE.

I feel it, the change. I intend to be a part of it.  

Also, as my friend Rayven would have me say, Of Course, anytime you teach a child to forgo reason and logic for mythology you are handicapping them...for life, as well as ensuring another generation of adults who are incapable of making healthy and innovative solutions on this planet. Anytime you burden a potentially thinking mind with impediments to clear thought, you might as well be putting concrete blocks on feet that are learning how to run. 

In fact, isn't raising a child in religion child abuse? 


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Heart Outside of my Body


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

First Flight

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I'm a huge reader. With my back issues and whatnot these past weeks I have had the true delight of being able to read quite a bit lately. Some books on my ereader have been waiting for my attention for months. And who even knows what all is waiting there on my Nook. I love my nook; it holds so much material. My reading is so varied, everything from National Geographic (my favorite) to biographies to science tomes to Nora Roberts to historical fiction to novels. When that reading intersects with real life it can be serendipitous...sublime, even. 

About two weeks ago I started reading an amazing book that has been sitting on my Nook for several months. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. It is a narrative history of the Wilbur and Orville Wright's years of trial, error, lesson the lead up to the 1903 flight at Kitty Hawk North Carolina, the world's first flight. 

Flight: beyond soaring, beyond dirigible, beyond lighter-than-air, beyond kite. Flight.

The learning process of these brothers was incredibly well-documented in their own journals, letters, and images. As true scientists, Wilbur and Orville documented everything, read everything available, conducted experiments, contacted people who were also working on the problem of flight, and did everything the hard way. On their own, they had absolutely no outside funding and almost no support from anyone outside of their own family.

This month, July 2015, the world saw come to fruition another flight, 112 years after the first flight at Kitty Hawk. About twenty years ago people within NASA conceived of an interplanetary probe, a mission that would last well over a decade, and be the culmination years of science and math. This month, New Horizons, a mission that launched in 2005, did an unbelievable thing.

Using the math and science that NASA human beings computed, this piano-sized grain of matter navigated from one miniscule grain of sand in this solar system to another fraction of a grain of sand billions of miles away. It truly blows my mind. On July 14th, New Horizons passed closer by Pluto than our moon is to us. 

AND THEN New Horizons sent back pixel after pixel, through the vastness of space of our solar system and we collected those pixels, one after the next, right here on our planet. The pixels formed an image of a planet with a heart on it.

Less than 112 years after self-taught Wilbur and Orville developed their own motor from spare parts, figured out how to manage yar and attitude and other flight problems, and moved the 605 pound Flight III on the eastern shore of our country, New Horizons encountered Pluto.

As I was reading The Wright Brothers I kept getting these deep feelings of tremendous awe. I get so see this. I get to be alive while human beings actually see the surface of the planet Pluto. I am the grateful recipient of these first pixels that have travelled four and a half hours through the emptiness of space between beyond Pluto and Earth.

I can’t help but wonder what Wilbur and Orville would make of it.



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Charlie and Kiwi: An Evolutionary Adventure
An Unfortunate Necessary Evil
The Ten Commandments and My Ten Suggestions
Build a Bridge

Passion Fruit and Chloe

Friday, July 17, 2015

Birthparents

Birthparents Birthparents Birthparents Birthparents Birthparents Birthparents Birthparents  atheist parent
I had this whole, long story about my life that I was going to post, all about the upset and mess and unfairness of it all. But I decided to simply stick to the issue at hand, however self-indulgent it is.

It was 1982, smack in the middle of every emotionally-battering event possible, when I got pregnant. Sometimes I think that even one kind comment from my dad might have changed everything, but that was not forthcoming.  Besides, so many other factors were working against me.
It was what it was.

And now, 32 years later, I sit with feelings that have no name.


Happy Birthday, Lindsey