Friday, December 29, 2017

Who do You Thank for your Children?

At some point a few years ago I found myself on a blog written by a Christian parent named Bill Belew. His blog seems to be generally about raising children who are ethnically different from their parents. At some point Mr. Belew had come across an OLD blog that I created for atheist parenting carnivals. I called that blog Carnival of Atheist Parenting. Because of the links involved in blogging, I found myself on his blog reading his post entitled Atheist Parenting | Who do you say thank you to for your children? 

In this blog post  Mr. Belew's eight year old daughter Mia asked her father what an atheist was, presumably because of the blog carnival site. He and I had followed links back and forth a couple of times.
Allow me to copy/paste his blog post here:

I had to ask my daddy, “What’s an atheist?” before I could understand anything about atheist parenting.
“Atheists are people who think they are God.”
Wow, how can they think that?
“Well, atheists want to say there is no such thing as God, or a god.  But, in order to say that something absolutely does not exist, an atheist must be everywhere at the same time and say ‘look, I don’t see it.’ And nobody can be everywhere at the same time … except for someone like a God.”

Hmm … that’s a bit too deep for a little girl like me. Daddy, everyday you say ‘Thank you’ to God for giving you me. Who do atheists say thank you to for their children?
“I don’t know the answer to that question. The stars maybe? Chance? Atheists think that things just sort of came to be. So, I suppose that they think children just kind of pop out when the time comes and disappear into oblivion 70-80 years later.”
What’s obble if in. (Ed. oblivion.)
“It’s nothing and nowhere.”
So, we kids come from nothing and go to nowhere? That doesn’t make sense.
“It doesn’t make sense to me either, honey. Maybe an atheist will read this and explain it to us. I am genuinely interested and think such a discussion would be worthwhile.”

Daddy. Thank you for being thankful for me.

 Well, I thought I would be that atheist who read and explained and I, too, thought the discussion might be worthwhile, so I commented this:
I am very happy to help answer this question. Of course I can speak for myself only, not an entire group of people. I am an atheist parent and I am here to answer your questions. Keeping in mind that I do not debate, try to change your mind, or participate in any sort of proselytizing.
First I feel the need to correct something that you have already said that is a MAJOR MAJOR piece of misinformation in a part of the “explanation” above. Atheist parents most definitely do not believe that they are god. In fact, the word atheist means “no god”. Atheists have no belief in any god, demon, spirit, etc, In fact, atheists are very skeptical about all claims of anything supernatural at all. Certainly not ourselves. *wink*

And, second, an atheist truly does not have to be everyplace at all!

We do not make the claim of a supernatural being or god, so atheists really have no burden to prove any extraordinary claims.

And lastly, as I am sure you are aware, atheists do not buy any of the creation stories. Many atheist accept the big bang theory of creation. I am sure that some do not.

As for who do I THANK for my children?
I thank THEM for being exactly who they are.
Who brought them into being? Well, simply, when two people love each other, they share a special kind of love…
My husband and I brought them into being.
I am not thankful TO anyone. I am simply deeply thankful for them.
I do not believe that it is necessary to give credit to a deity in order to truly be thankful that my children are MY children.

I love them SO deeply and SO completely that there is no way to measure it!
Peace, Karen

And then, after talking with Elizabeth and John about the blog post, they asked me if they, too, could comment on Mr. Belew's blog post, and we commented like this:
I have been sharing this with my children and my son, John, age 12, has a point that he wants to make.
We have taken the time to learn the natural way of our own existence. The word “oblivion” suggests that “we” (atheists) think that things just appear/disappear into nothing and nowhere.

The human body is made of particles of matter, just as stars are made of matter! When those particles come together into a marvelous living thing, we know that that living thing has a life. This process is VERY easy to explain and to understand if you wish to do a bit more reading on it. During the lifetime of a thing, including ourselves, we love and enjoy it. When it is no longer living, its particles break down into small particles again. This is called decomposition. You might look for more information on the carbon cycle, genetics, and cells.

My daughter Liz, age 16, says that atheist parents don’t “THANK” anyone for their children. Though they thank each other AND they are grateful for the chance to have children.

The complex reasons why things ~ARE~ is interesting and worth learning more about. There is a great deal of knowledge out there that is remarkable and exciting to learn!

Maybe Mia will be a scientist one day!

Not surprisingly I was very proud of how both of the kids "spoke" to Mr. Belew's daughter, though I doubt Mia actually got to read our comments. What did surprise me, though, was the fact that the blogger closed comments on that post for some reason...

You might also enjoy:
Atheists Cannot Experience True Joy

Top Ten Reasons Why Atheists Suck
My Parenting Manifesto

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Is Atheism the Privilege of the Rich?

Some years ago I read an article on AlterNet (*) called Is Atheism an Intellectual Luxury for the Wealthy?  The article explores the idea that being wealthy makes a person less likely be feel the need to carry an expectation that religion brings comfort and hope. When I read the article three or four years ago I thought that there might be something to the idea, though the article didn't really make the idea clear, nor was it a terribly provocative article. But it made me think.

Remembering the article, tonight I spent some time on a humanist website based in the UK where I found a study by Dr. Tom Rees, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, suggesting that in places without strong social safety nets (serious poverty, an absence of social support, an absence of solid family support) people are more likely to rely on religion for comfort. Also, as fucked up AF as it may seem, when someone is suffering it may console him or her to think that the end of the world is actually near, that their god will bring their tormented lives to a close and will reward the faithful with everlasting joy. I remember Mom once saying something like this to me. 

Doom and gloom predictions about the trials and tribulations that humanity will face before the apocalypse, prevalent in Christian fundamentalism, may also help some people attribute a higher purpose to their suffering, explaining it as part of God’s ultimate plan. It’s also worth noting that in poverty areas the local church may provide for people’s basic needs through free childcare programs, food pantries, and clothing drives. For these people, religion brings them hope.

Is it not a cruelty to take away the hope of faith for these people?

I truly don't know. But it is a thing that I think about fairly often. I recall my mother very tearfully claiming that I was trying to take away her hope by being an atheist..? It is a part of the reason that I never debate and I never attempt to bring logic and reason beyond general explanation to someone who does not seek it for themselves.

However, I do truly believe that religion tends to keep people in poverty and wealthy in wealth. I also believe that the world would be a better place without religion. I also genuinely believe that the control of the church creates people who have difficulty thinking their way out of the mind control. I'm pretty sure that this is why Donald Trump is in the White House at this very moment. It's why people accept and even embrace their suffering in this life, because the church characterizes suffering as a virtue. I also truly believe that the church targets those living in poverty. And I find that reprehensible.

I know there is a Gallup poll somewhere with bunches of statistics regarding poverty and religiosity. Look it up if you are interested.

I'll stop now; I think you get the idea.

Addendum, Dec 28, 2017:

Sometimes as I'm blogging I totally lose my way in my own mind. I did that with this post and I did not complete my thought. What I intended to suggest in my writing was this. With greater access to cash, one has greater access to higher learning and to informed materials. Because of this privileged access, I believe that the wealthier among us have better ability to locate and consume schools of thought, reason and logic, and mechanisms of supernatural thought. With access to these essential pieces of knowledge, therefore, a wealthier human can unwire the brainwashing of religion and supernatural belief, can discern the baloney in the bathwater.

Also, I have plenty of friends who are living below the poverty line but who are, nonetheless, amazing freethinking human beings and I have friends who have plenty of cash but who have not found their way out of the matrix. 

So this idea of wealth = privilege is simply a start place.

* AlterNetAlterNet is a progressive news magazine and a project of the non-profit Independent Media Institute. Launched in 1998, AlterNet claims a readership of over 5.9 million visitors per month. (Maybe you already know this; I didn't. 🙂 )   - Wikipedia

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Keeping CHRIS in Christmas

2016 - It's a few days past Christmas and I'm sitting here thinking about what we accomplished this past Christmas in our home. Dare I call it Christmas and not the seculars' favored term the holidays Sure, was a Christmas Day, because that is what we call it here in our home. Others celebrate other holidays.

See, it's simple like that.

Anyway, we had so much family and friends for Christmas. It was WONDERFUL. Trees, food, games galore, gifts, laughter, and so much love. I would hate to miss out on the family celebration because I was afraid of the insistence from religion that this holiday belongs to them. It does not. It belongs to us.

Our family had the wonder and amazing opportunity to see Christmas through the eyes of children who had never celebrated Christmas before. Ever. Seeing their mother open her mind to the possibility of a positive and secular holiday was such a gift and seeing the kids learn the true value of giving.

These kids had never had a tree. They had not sung carols. They hadn't opened a single gift. They hadn't played holiday games. The kids' mother, my dear friend, has been on an extremely long and amazingly brave journey away from her extreme evangelical upbringing and personal belief. Aaaaaaaaaaall of the way to atheism. (*) What a delight to be a part of their lives and to see their boundaries being pushed...

I received the most beautiful gift I have ever gotten from these seven heart hurts with happiness just thinking about it.  💙

(*)  My friend has a book available on all about her amazing journey through religion and out into atheism called Free to Be: How I Went From Unhappily Married Conservative Bible Believer to Happily Divorced Atheistic Humanist in One Year and Several Complicated Steps. What a great, great read!    Kindle

Christmas Day is Really a Happy Birthday Day

Friday, December 22, 2017


This afternoon as I was driving around running some errands I was listening to a story on NPR about a Muslim women living here in the United States wondering if she should put up a Christmas tree. It was a very interesting perspective piece that really got me thinking about the ideas of right and wrong.

You see, so many of the comments of the woman who was trying to figure out if she should put up a tree ended with her wanting to do no wrong. She wanted the tree for the cultural fun of it all as she has been living in the States for over a decade now but she didn't want to offend anyone who might misconstrue her efforts. Was it wrong to put up a tree if the tree is a religious symbol? 

I sincerely appreciate the effort this woman was putting in to her decision. What kept me upset, though, was the fear that she kept expressing. The fear of being wrong.

Look, the holidays can be an extremely emotional time for so many people, and for so many reasons. I can appreciate the sincere struggle to do the right thing. Since I'm active on social media I see the unbelievable claim that there is a war on Christmas. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but is there not Christmas all over the place right now? From the trees to the stars to the nativity scenes to the Christian charities ringing the bells to the reason for the season signs all over the houses in my neighborhood to, well, EVERYTHING all over the place. War in Christmas indeed.

Anyway, about the tree. The woman on the NPR show talked with several of her States-living Muslim friends about their plans for a tree in their homes. Some were relaxed AF about the tree and others were against the tree. She talked with some religious studies scholars about the religiosity of the tree. But not one single person said, Hey, relax! There is no wrong! That tree is a very, very old tradition at this time of the year, it is a tradition that predates all of the religions that you are attempting to respect. Put a tree up if you enjoy it.  😊  Instead the "experts" told her that the Christmas tree is a Christian symbol. Ugh.

Unfortunately I didn't get to hear the end of that particular story, but I say to you, regarding any and all celebrations in the world:
Hey, relax! There is no wrong! If you enjoy it, do it.

You might also enjoy:
Rock On, Phil Plait! 
An Unexpected Benefit of Deconversion
You Deny God Because You Want to Sin

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New Years Thoughts and, I Guess, Resolutions

Each year on Pinterest I post another New Years Resolution type of clip art. It's a thing that lots of people like and it generally gets pinned over a million times. I thought I'd give you all a preview of this year's New Years Resolution clip art.

Look for it on Pinterest.  😉


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Your Holiday Charitable Donation

Last week when I was thinking how difficult it was to choose the perfect place to put my charitable donations lately?
There are SO MANY very worthy organizations.

Well, some of my friends are these AMAZING grassroots advocates for relief for families living in extreme poverty or in homeless situations. We have all gotten together to make a real dent in the problem here in St. Louis for some families within our ability to help.

Believe me, these people are the real deal, the people with amazing hearts. I'm delighted to be a minor partner with them.

If you are interested in donating dollars to a 100% SURE THING that your dollars are going to be used completely for the good of others, please send a few dollars to this paypal address:
Use "friends and family" so PayPal doesn't take out a fee.
Make your donations before December 15th so that these wonderful people can make essential purchases.

PLEASE JOIN ME in this effort to meet the needs of mothers with kids, small ones, infants, babies on the way.

 ~  I've sent mine!  ~ 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Fascinating Blog Post

Last night as I was laying in bed I wrote this excellent blog post in my head. It was hilarious and poignant at the same time. You know, a really fascinating post. I was lying there, writing it in my head, and chuckling at the humor of it all. There was even a subplot to the post idea. 
I was excited about the blog post idea because I thought that, surely my readers would be entertained by it, maybe some people would even leave a comment or two.

I had been super busy yesterday so I then fell into a deep sleep. I remember dreaming about the Serengeti Plain. Lots of large animals wandering about on this beautiful golden plain. A few spots of jungle foliage in the plain there for some reason... I couldn't seem to catch up with the large animals. No matter hard I looked, the behemoths were always out of range. But I was okay with this. 
It seemed to be mostly rhinoceroses. I've been kind of enamored with rhinos lately.

I woke up one time during the night to go to the bathroom and the writing was still with me; There was a bit of chortling as I thought about the funny parts of the blog post I was writing in my head. When I went back to bed I thought of something really interesting to add to my blog post. It was a graphic that I could see clearly in my mind, a graphic that both clarified what the post was about as well as adding depth and erudition to what I was planning on writing.

So I went back to sleep and had this dream about buildings. I think I was in large towns, one right after the other. The kids and I were just looking at the large cities as they wandered by, one of the cities was Chicago. Some of the buildings also had these darling small town-like store fronts. The kind with porches, tables and chairs, flower pots. Like that, think Mayberry. My overall feeling in the dream was delight in all things welcoming.

When I woke up this morning I was planning on writing the blog post from last night...but I couldn't remember a single thing about it. I gave myself a couple of hours and tried hard to jog my memory, but...nothing. So I guess I won't write a blog post today after all.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

8 Guidelines to Being Bad Ass

Everybody's got goals.
One of mine is to be Bad Ass.
I spent dang near fifty years wanting to be a Good Girl and I've found that pursuit to be completely disappointing and dull and not the slightest bit rewarding. I've decided to change my entire approach to life and to become Bad Ass.

It's going to be a journey because I still have Good Girl baggage to shed. For example, 

I still want people to like me. I still want to be considered Nice. I'm not good at voicing dissenting opinions. I can't post things on Facebook that are unpopular or that some might consider bitchy. I definitely can't spout uninformed opinions without doing the research. And I know some people who have very very inaccurate images of me because they have gotten their information from other people and I can not and and will never address their misconceptions.

I'm 54 Years Old!!!!!!! I can do this. I can break these milquetoast habits, erm, personality traits and I can take the risks and state my opinions loudly and proudly. I can be unabashedly myself without regard for how certain people will view me...because they will misunderstand me no matter what I do anyway, right?

Now that I'm on a roll...what IS Bad Ass? Well, I did a little bit of research:

The Urban Dictionary defines a badass as someone who does what he wants, when he wants, where he wants. You won't find him on Facebook because he is probably out being cool somewhere. He might be on a motorcycle, but it's probably not a Harley or a crotch rocket because he won't spend that much money to be accepted. He feels no obligation whatsoever to justify his beliefs, values, convictions, morals, etc., with anyone. He likes his music because it sounds cool to him. You won't find him if you look for him because there is no sure way to identify him. One does not think that he is badass; he KNOWS it, and that's that. Alternatively, a badass is the complete opposite of a douchebag.
I honestly think the Urban dictionary thinks that only male paramilitary douchebags can be bad ass...furthermore I don't think that the person who wrote that definition is bad ass. So I will read some other words on the interweb because, obvs the Urban Dictionary has alot to learn about who and what is bad ass. At some website called I found an article called Eight Traits that make you a Bad Ass that sound promising. 
In brief the suggestions are: 
  • They say yes first, then figure out how to deliver
  • They think differently than everyone else
  • They speak up
  • They have a replicable skill that others can learn
  • They live by their own code
  • They have the audacity to do things that others only wish they could do
  • They never, ever, ever give up
  • They don’t listen to the haters

OK, I like that, but something is rubbing me wrong there. I don't think I have it in me to not listen to haters and dissenters. There can be wisdom there at times, at least there can be opportunities for learning...I think. 
I'll read some more.

Oh GEEEZ...some more ridiculous advise is given to young searchers on a website called Your Guide to Better Love and Relationships. Apparently a bad ass requires a person to have a wicked stare, to speak in six word sentences, and to never blink. Or smile. Or show emotion. Good grief, who writes this schlock? And who is the poor young person seeking guidance from these sources? Surely the same people who used to read the ragmag Cosmo when I was younger.  Slowly raises hand with a blush.

Without giving Wiki a single whiff of mojo, an article there called How to be a Bad Ass seems to think that Clint Eastwood and being cocky is the same thing as being a bad ass... CLEARLY my quest is not going to be complete by reading bullshit expected to be consumed by skinny boys in high school who are already bad asses by being themselves but who think that muscles and assholery is bad ass because stupid social media misinforms... 

UUUGH, those young boys will have tons of mind mush to wade through to get to themselves. How discouraging. This online search is not helpful at all.

And for the love of all things holy, don't read this bullshit.

As usual I will have to figure it out for myself. 
So what do I mean when I say that I want to be Bad Ass? Because this has been something I've wanted for decades now; seems I would have figured it out by now. I see certain people and I think Man, I want to be like that! They speak their mind and take no names!  (Hello Rayven)  Or I think She is so smart and cool; I want to be like her!  (Hello Mary and Megan)   Or I notice my own reticence to say certain things in a public forum and I wonder why I am so wishy-washy...
but I also know that words have power and there is consequence to their use...and I care about those things.

Actually, I guess I have figured it out because there are a few qualities that are essential in badassery, in my opinion, qualities that have absolutely nothing to do with black leather, cigarettes hanging out of your mouth, steady stares, preferring scotch over fooffy drinks, or having muscles on muscles. There is no short cut and there are no accessories necessary. 
And every skinny person, heavy person, lonely person in the High School of Life can be a fricking Bad Ass according to my Eight Rules of Bad Assery. Just remember, when I say rules I mean suggestions. Do your own thing. 
Because FUCK rules.

Besides, fooffy drinks are delicious.

  • Embrace your Interests with a Passion.
    Is it the Civil War reenactment? Writing historical fiction? Anime'? Archery? Etymology? Cosplay? Weight lifting? Debate? Chess? Softball? Get into it and enjoy it with gusto. Not everyone can do that and many people don't have the intellect that it takes to enjoy it. So YOU enjoy that, be enlarged by it. Embrace your very own interests.
  • Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.
    The truth is, people tend to judge and short-cut-think and hide in groups. Having the courage to stand alone, to be misunderstood, to quietly have integrity is SO freaking bad ass. And so is pushing your own envelope. Trying things that are difficult, speaking up with a quivering voice, approaching someone with an introduction and risking rejection...that, My Friend, is bad ass.
  • Fall Five Times, Get up Six.
    Resiliency can be one of the most difficult qualities to develop because you are only called on to be resilient when there is failure, depression, loneliness, discouragement, humiliation, public stuff, and fatigue. And no one else is there to see it, the reboot. No one but you. Being able to get back up and begin again is a very internal and personal decision...and is so so bad ass.
  • Remember that Social Media is Full of Shit.
    Don't be taken in by the artificiality of social media images and claims. No one looks like that. Everyone chooses what they show in public. Everyone has doubts. No one shows their B game. Being human is the same for all of us; some people just have a better ability to flaunt and exhibit their sleight-of-hand image. Everyone. And good looks are both fleeting and insubstantial. Internal beauty always always always means more.
  • Be Your Own Best Friend.
    That's right, talk kindly about yourself. See your own efforts. Recognize your good intentions. Build yourself up instead of focusing on the stuff that didn't work. We all, all of us, have failures and growth areas. We can acknowledge those growth areas and encourage ourselves to be better tomorrow than we are today...that is the way to bad assery. Not perfection. But self improvement.  Self empowerment. I'm not kidding about this. When you build yourself up, when you put your own breathing mask on first, you are able to do for others...
  • Avoid the Kardashians.
    Whoever the hell they are. Unless you like them. Real substance, real information, real education, real knowledge. That is the stuff of the real bad asses. The person walking on the moon didn't get there by learning about who the super stars are dating. They got there by personal growth and integrity, by learning about the sciences, and by looking up. And by being resilient. Because even astronauts puke...only they do it in the presence of other astronauts.
  • Say NO to that which does not Feed you.
    People and activities that drain you emotionally, financially, spiritually, or any other way are generally options in our lives.  Choose what brings you growth, love, goodness. Because being a bad ass means not letting people kick you when you are down. And learning to say No is a real ass kicking thing.
    Some people never learn it...but you can.
  • No One is Fearless.
    Feel the fear. It often informs us somehow. Then step up to the plate and do it anyway because facing it is Bad Ass AF.

I'm sure there are more, but this is a great start.
And, as it happens, when I use this guide to being a Bad Ass, I see that I am already a bit of a Bad Ass...and getting badder every day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Eyes Have it

Do you ever think about your eyes?
To truly appreciate your eyes, the functioning of your eyes, you have to realize that your normal, healthy eyes are automatically triangulating your spacial relation continuously. That, in addition to detecting detail in even extremely low levels of light, distinguishing over ten million distinct colors, observing the smallest discrete motion, adapting to changes in visible light through changes in the pupil, automatic adaptation to light quality, focusing during movement from close objects to distant objects, continual focus with both rapid and slow object movement, observing three dimensions, and recognizing subtle patterns.

Our eyes are exquisitely amazing and complicated organs. *

The evolution of sight is also truly amazing.

Our complex eyes began long ago with a few cells that were capable of sensing light. These specialized cells detected light and that light was then detected by the brain. Most resources that I found date early sight and early photoreceptive cells at about 700 million years ago. Followed by greater and greater organ development: lenses, fluid-filled sac, optic nerve, etc. 

Following that, the fossil record begins to show all kind of differences in specialization of species. Those with exceedingly excellent night vision or distance vision, light waves that are completely invisible to human beings, under water sight, heck, even under water and above water vision at the same time. Some creatures with one eye and some with more than two eyes.  Some creatures still have incredibly simple optical systems while many creatures have exquisitely complex systems for detecting the visible.

And all of this got me to thinking about something.

About how the evolution of sight went on to create further evolution of species. With sight comes the need to hide better, to hunt better, to breed better, to feed better, placement of the eyes. As the various species develop, so does their need to camouflage or stand out: all bits of evolution spurred by the development of sight. 

Also, I'm wondering just how many times those initial photosensitive cells had to happen before something really took off and started a species or two to create more and more complex photoreceptivity. How many times did the process have to start over again as one species faded out, taking the advanced sight cells with them. These processes over millions of years just boggles my brain.

Did you know that there are existing organisms today with only the basic photoreceptor cells? The euglena has a photoreceptive spot that allows it to locate light. That's all it does and the spot allows the euglena to move towards light for better opportunities for photosynthesis.

In fact, the entire range of complexity of sight is traceable in organisms on the planet today, from the simplest of photoreceptive spots all of the way up to the most complex eyes in any organism, the mantis shrimp. Dude, there is so much to learn about sight.

I visited my father-in-law the other day for an eye exam because, yes, he's an eye doctor. 😊  I'm very fortunate because with all of my many questions about eyes he had all of the answers and, furthermore, is even more of a nerd than I am. So we had a fabulous talk as he checked out my vision.

 * The internet has many great websites that look at the process of the evolution of sight. 
      Please look at several sights for greater appreciation!

iscovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
Read more at:
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
Read more at:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Parents' Weekend

This past weekend I was driving home from across the state. I stopped in Rolla MO in the early afternoon for lunch at Panera. Rolla is a university town, a technology university. Maybe it was Parents' Weekend; maybe most weekends bring the parents, longing for their children because every table in the restaurant was filled with families. A parent or two beaming at a young student or two as the students told their stories. 

The fathers, huge smiles, from ear-to-ear even, fully enjoying the humor of their growing sons. (Most of the students at this school are male.) The fathers' shining eyes watched their boys laughing over the soup and sandwiches.

The mothers? Longing. Wanting to touch. Wanting to sit closer, be nearer. I could feel it in every mother I saw, the longing. Quieter smiles, hands fluttering toward the part in her son's hair, his collar, his shoulder... A short break from her son's empty room, well-made bed, the full refrigerator back home. If only for an afternoon, until it's time to step at a time, walking back home...without him.

All of the rest of my drive home I thought that soon, one day soon, John will be far away and I will make that drive ...just to touch his hair.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

How Many People are Atheists?

Do you ever feel inundated with religiosity in the world? I do. So I got to wondering how many people on the planet are nonbelievers...I founds tons of websites with information on the matter. This website offered these statistics that comforted me a bit...thought I'd share it. I chose this website only for it's ease of readability.

Sadly the US does not rank high in nonbelievers.

Various selected countries, according to the Oxford Handbook, with the highest percentages of non-believers, include:

Czech Republic – 55% atheist/agnostic (actual number: 4,649,620)
France – 41%  (19,965,630)
Sweden – 39%  (2,800,152)
Germany – 36%  (24,564,226)
Netherlands – 34%  (4,303,110)
Belgium – 34%  (2,857,053)
Denmark – 32%  (1,369,512)
Norway – 32%  (1.146,464)
United Kingdom – 30%  (14,579,992)
South Korea – 28%  (10,419,885)
New Zealand – 28%  (866,000)
Finland – 28%  (1,172,404)
Japan – 28%  (29,766,356)
Hungary – 27%  (2,254,556)
Australia – 26%  (5,058,772)
Spain – 21%  (7,633,561)
China – 17.9%  (234,595,000)

COME ON USA, geez. Why are there not more?

Making Mountains of Molehills: A Hideous Parenting Moment

I'm posting this post again. I first wrote it in 2014.
 I recently had a conversation with a dear, dear friend of mine 
and our conversation brought the idea of this post to mine.
I hope you enjoy it.

I remember a hideous day from years ago when Elizabeth was just a few years old. It was while we were potty-training (Oh geez, she is going to hate it that I posted anything about this time!) and I was just beside myself with wondering what to do. I had no idea what I was doing and I was concerned that I was totally messing things up. She was about four years old, maybe. I know that I had a newborn at the time and he was born when she was three and a half, so yeah, about four years old. 

She just didn't want to stop wearing a the darn disposable. And when I asked her why she told me very simply and practically that she didn't want to stop playing to take the time she needed. It seems like such a small deal now but then I was just a mess about it for some reason.

I have to admit that I owe some of my anxiety from this time to a woman that I was hanging out with, I'll call her Betty. She and I had known each other a bit before having children and our daughters were the same age. I often talked with Betty about what I might do to encourage my daughter know...

WHY I asked Betty for guidance I have no idea. She is one of the most truly neurotic people that I have ever had as a friend. She was a mess.
I wish I hadn't listened to her.

Betty's advice to me was that, each time Elizabeth would not go potty in the potty, she was to get a bath because it was dirty to go potty in her pants. UGH, I cringe just thinking about it.

Well, I only did it one time. There she was, my very beloved daughter, standing in the cold bathtub and I was shaming her with my words for not sitting on the potty; she cried.

Elizabeth doesn't remember it at all while I can't forget it!

While I have generally forgiven myself for what I did, what I still struggle with sometimes is making a mountain out of a mole hill. What things that we are struggling with today will become the mole hills of tomorrow? That's what I want to know. 

I realize now that another other thing that contributed to my behavior then was that I was concerned how my daughter's diaper usage somehow reflected on me and probably how these friends of mine would view me. I can say that now. I wanted to be a Good Mom and I didn't think that a Good Mom would have a daughter that age still in diapers.
So, yes, I did have alot to learn.

Today I know that a Good Mom does not need to explain herself to friends around her, doesn't compare her children with any others, and most importantly, a Good Mom is comfortable with her children as they are, not as someone thinks they should be. She also finds friends who share in her way of thinking rather than wallowing in self-doubt and confusion. 

It was a tough lesson. But I think I learned it.
And it didn't hurt to break up with that shaming friend of mine!!!


So let's say that your children aren't on time with tasks and skills. Unless a professional tells you different, here is what you need to do:  RELAX.

Few teenagers walk around wearing diapers. Few teenagers still suck their thumbs. Most teenagers can walk, read, talk to people, eat their veggies, tie their shoes, say their Rs right, kick a ball, and all of the many things that you, that WE, worry about. 

RELAX. It isn't a race. 

RELAX. The only thing that truly reflects on you is your happy child, sitting or standing, pierced or not, speaking in public or not, listening to inappropriate music or not, wearing inappropriate clothing or not, getting great grades or not, sexually active or not, giving into peer pressure or not, making immature choices or not.

All you can do is give them the tools to build their own mountains and, in the end, they usually do that:  build their own unique mountains.

Can You Relate?

I know you get it that this post does not speak to serious or dangerous practices.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Female and Atheist

When I was active in my belief and in my religion and in my church I often wondered why there were no women in places of authority in the church. Masses never included females in any role, from the officiant to the servers to the readers. The Catholic church is extremely male-dominated, while my experience with truly good believers was that the most amazing humans who I ever came across were female. Nearly every single person in my religious circles whose goodness and leadership blew me away were women doing their part for the religion, maybe even more for the humans in the religion.

When I look back on my days in the religion several women immediately come to mind. And no men, actually. It seems that the women that were active leaders in the church were more focused on the humans in the church while the men were more active in the power and control part of the religion. Hmmm. I just realized that. Anywho...several women immediately come to mind, women whose overall personas were far more religious, spiritual?, better people than most of the males I was in regular contact with...except for maybe one guy, Mike.

These musings come on the end of some reading that I was doing tonight. In the September 2016 edition of The Atlantic is an article by Leigh Eric Schmidt, Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished University Professor at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis; the article is  Women Atheists Are Genuinely Considered Monsters. Really, that's the fricking title.

It's not bad enough that the majority of this stupid country actually says that they wouldn't vote for an atheist candidate. That's not enough. No, FEMALE atheists are genuinely considered monsters.

This is the country I am living in and you want me to love my country or not be able to consider myself an American. Well Screw you, Anyone Who Believes That Crap.

I get it. 
Women are supposed to be pious, loving, homemakers, virtuous.

I'm here to say that I am a PROUD, loving, caring, thinking, benevolent, good-natured, friendly, gentle person who is a completely OPEN and OUT ATHEIST.

And YOU, who would shout from the rooftops that believers are superior are wrong, You Monster! **

* Sorry for being so bitchy but I'm kind of feeling it lately and I'm calling it.
**  I'll be my normal self again sometime soon.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

My Unpopular Opinions

My opinions are generally quite liberal.
I definitely have opinions that are unpopular and I don't mind if other people don't agree with me or share my opinions. It's nice that way.

For example, I don't have a problem with the font Comic Sans. I think it’s OK. 

I think anyone who wants to get married should have that right. Any colors, genders, races, WHATEVER. As long as a person is an adult, their life, their decision. Consenting adults.

Marijuana should be legal. Stupid murderous alcohol is legal. Ridiculously poisonous cigarettes are legal. Marijuana isn't even close to being as toxic as those two substances. 

Feminism. I don't think most people understand what it is. It's not freaking hatred of men. It's about equality.

David Bowie. Yuk. Not a fan. I don't like his voice, his persona, or his music.

I have no problem with suicide. If, at some point, you think your life is ready to end, it should be entirely within your right to end it. I especially am OK with PAS, physician-assisted suicide. I do NOT want every teen to run out and kill themselves; I'm only in favor of adults making that decision. I perfectly understand it if adults with mental illness or difficult circumstances make the decision to end their lives. I'm sure this is offensive as hell to some people and I'm sorry for that but I have strong reasons why I feel this way and I've given it alot of thought.

Virginity. It is stupidly a thing. Listen, I don't want my children out screwing indiscriminately, but I don't value virginity as a thing of value or anything. Intact hymen doesn't suggest character, goodness, or anything of value. I consider virginity expectations a total shame game we play with females to control them.

Cloche hats. I SO wish they were still a thing. They are fricking darling and adorable and go with everything. Mostly.

I'm absolutely OK with disco. Not a fan of 80s music. At all.

Not a fan of  Disney in any way. Tangled, Frozen, Whatever.

Sports. I simply don't care. But more than that, millions and millions of dollars are made and spent over games. Players are payed ridiculously overpriced salaries. Owners of teams pass so much cash around it's irresponsible. What a stupid thing to spend money on. What a time waste. What is with the hype? I was raised in a sports household; I know what I'm talking about.

Coffee is truly disgusting. It smells good, I'll grant you that. But it's nightmarish on the stomach. And spending five bucks on a cup of coffee at Starbucks? It's unfathomable. Spending that kind of money on something that destroys your stomach.

Columbus Day is embarrassing and ethically wrong.

Nationalism makes absolutely no sense. 

Human life here on Earth...not impressed overall.
I often think that our species, as many good qualities as we have, could disappear and the planet would be all the better for it. The other life here on the planet would benefit from our absence. Secondarily, a world-wide decimation of 80% of humans would be OK with me. 

I simply do not understand the value of diamonds and gold. So much money, so much violence. Just wear other gemstones. Bling away.

Am I simply spewing negativity with this post?
Well, maybe.
But I think the comic sans thing had it coming...


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Karen Armstrong

I have a serious question for all readers of this post and I hope you leave a thoughtful comment below in the space for thoughtful comments:

What is the single most influential book you have ever read? 

If you are a reader like I am, that question is probably super difficult. I can think of at least a dozen books that have moved me and that have meant something to me...the kind of book that gets me reading more, researching, wanting...needing more. I have several books that have served as tremendously meaningful turning points for me. 

There is one book that was hugely significant for me and very influential in my transition from believer to nonbeliever. It was about the year 1997; I was working part time at this place where I had some time to read/reflect/write a bit. That's significant because I had a newborn at the time and reading/reflecting/writing aren't typically possible in the life of a new mother. 

My sister was living in Dallas at the time and she and I were writing to each other daily (We had no email or any social media at the time so think snail mail.  😊 ), mostly about whatever we were reading at the time. She was reading a book by Karen Armstrong, a British author and commentator of Irish Catholic descent known for her books on comparative religion. The book was a 1993 title A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The book details the history of the three major monotheistic traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, along with some Buddhism and Hinduism. The evolution of the idea of God is traced from its ancient roots in the Middle East up to the present day.

Armstrong's highly intellectual and authoritative work was exactly what I needed at that point, a book that took me on a detailed and illuminating journey to the roots of modern day religion. I'd already read several other books that endeavored to take me there, including Elaine Pagels' Gnostic Bible, but none of the other books was as instantly compelling as History of God  for me. As a history buff, I was looking for solid bedrock. I found it in this book.

History of the monotheistic beliefs, but more, history of the rise of religion as an institution. At the time I was still struggling with doubt and questions; my religion was still important in my life but I knew that there were problems that I could not ignore. I had been reading and talking with people for months when I got my hands on this book. I started reading it with a highlighter in one hand and a notebook in the other. Long, long letters snail mailed their way back and forth between my sister and I, both of us coming to similar conclusions about our "beloved" religion.

Some of what she says
is utter CRAP.

I can't say that this book was the end of my, that honor goes to the Holy Bible, King James version. But History of God was the beginning of some of the most erudite reading I was able to find on comparative religion, and Karen Armstrong's other titles were a large part of that year's reading...the year where I tossed man made religion into the rubbish. Her writing was so accessible, so scholarly, so polished. She plainly put into words many of my doubts and questions and put all of in into a context that really meant something to me; 
I felt incredibly comforted, moved, and informed by her book.

I can't say that Armstrong doesn't have her detractors, she does. Nor can I say that she and I are both atheists, she is not. Nor can I say that I agree with all of her views, for I surely do not. But I can say that her scholarship is impressive as hell and I can highly recommend her books to others who are interested in a study of comparative religion.

 A God who kept tinkering with the universe was absurd; a God who interfered with human freedom and creativity was a tyrant. If God is seen as a self in a world of his own, an ego that relates to a thought, a cause separate from its effect, he becomes a being, not Being itself. An omnipotent, all‐knowing tyrant is not so different from earthly dictators who make everything and everybody mere cogs in the machine which they controlled. An atheism that rejects such a God is amply justified.  ~Karen Armstrong