Thursday, July 19, 2018

There are Hateful People out There

I know.
It's true.

There are truly unpleasant human beings out there in the world. The angry, the racist, the selfish, the intolerant, the lout. They're there and they're generally loud. My Facebook feed can overwhelm me at times when I see the hateful things that people post, that people find humorous, or that some people spout. I think that we see these people only because they are loud and in places easy to see.

But the truth is, there are more wonderfully loving people out there. The people who follow their passions and who enjoy their lives to the fullest. The people who take pictures of the blue, blue sky. People who give their lives to the care of their loved ones. People who always make a point to look you in the eye when they greet you, right in the eye so you know that you are being seen. People who lay out pennies for the luck seekers.

There are  humans who dance to their own tunes. People walk our sidewalks with goodness in their hearts and with coins jingling in their pockets, paying the parking meter of strangers. People who research and built and create. People who speak up for the pets in need of love and family. People whose very jobs , their very livelihoods are taking care of the neediest among us. There are people who speak the truth with trembling hands and voices, yet they speak it.

There are people who greet you with a kiss, people who sing on the bus, people who leave a larger than necessary tip, people who notice your mood, people who look to the stars and learn their names. Our world has people who hide a little for their own protection but who also show tremendous courage when seeking connection. There are people who exhibit extraordinary courage by their very brave actions and revolutionary hearts. 

There are people who are frightened beyond belief but who still stand up and say the truth. There are people who will stop and step over the earthworm on a rain soaked sidewalk. There are people brave enough to forgive someone who is not apologetic. There are people who are brave enough to say I'm sorry. People who are willing to go the extra mile whether anyone else notices or not. People who do the right thing because it is the right thing. People who seek truth and justice. People who pay for the guy behind them in line. People who ignore your errors. People who stop to notice the beauty of the trees or the clouds. People who sing at the top of their lungs in their cars. People who stand in front of the bully. People who wear purple. People who tat up for the fun of it. People who leave sunshine where there is rain. People who find ways to share their freshness. People who pick up ugliness left by others. People who care. People who smile in spite of it all.
There are people who, when you ask How are you?, will tell you and people who, when you ask What are you up to? will tell you about their passions. And some people show love, love in the face of all. More and more love.

Be one of these people.  Be the reason that some people can again believe in the goodness of humanity.

You might also like:
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The Interweb: A Freedom, A Mirror, A Community
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Monday, July 16, 2018

Atheist Kids

Being a first generation atheist and raising children was, for me, a challenge. Many times I found myself having to reconsider things that seemed, at first glance, to be simple, but were actually life mired in religion. It was eye-opening to clearly see how ensnared in religion our country actually it. I realized that I had to continually engage my skepticism and research inclination, kick it into high gear, in fact. 

My daughter's first year in school, kindergarten, she was a very active listener, a child who was looking for real magic, a child who saw every single incidence of religion in the world around her. I will never, ever forget being a volunteer in her classroom when they were all standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, she spoke the words, then turned and shouted to me across the room See, Mom, one nation under God... 

Another time, the librarian read Jesus stories to the kids THREE WEEKS IN A ROW! I'm not the complainy type, but after the third week of Jesus, I did contact the Vice Principle of the school and discuss the matter with her. My daughter's teacher thanked me, but the librarian never looked at me again.

My point is that religion is absolutely normal in the world. It is everywhere. Deliberately raising children outside of the norm is truly a challenge.

My daughter told me about several occasions between the ages of five and twelve, because those are the brainwashing years, she said, where she was on the playground with new friends who asked her if she believed in god, capital G. When she would reply that, no, she did not believe in God, the other child would stop playing with her. She tells me of more than one occasion where the other child would say My mom told me I couldn't play with other children who don't believe in God.

Yes, you heard that correct. Parents were already teaching their children to fear and reject people who were different from themselves. 

As Elizabeth's mother, I always knew that she was out there with her eagle eyes and logical brain looking for inconsistencies, facts, and most importantly magic. She wanted to believe. But she was also burdened with a natural fully functioning bullshit detector that would not allow logical fallacies to slide by. That made my job super important. I knew I had to be as coherent and as constant as possible because she was learning every single moment.

Because, in reality, we're not raising ATHEIST kids. We're raising kids who will be atheists - because it makes sense.

You might also enjoy this:
How to Talk Religion with Children as an Atheist or Skeptic
How an Atheist Discusses Religion with their Children
Raising Atheist Children
Death, Grief, and Loss: Atheism Style
Books for Your Skeptical Children 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

I Couldn't be a Millionaire or a Billionaire

If there is one thing I don't understand as I read the news these days, it is the upper crust, the top 1% of people who have insane and savage amounts of cash. I simply don't get that. Surely there is some mental illness label for people like this, people who can hold onto obscene amounts of money, who even collect and desire more, at a time when so many humans have such need.

I simply could not be a millionaire or a billionaire, because I couldn't keep that money. I COULDN'T be a millionaire. I already give away far too much money. My poor husband is always having to add large sums to the GIFT$ section of our budget. I cannot help it; I get far better feelings giving it away than I ever did having it. I know this for I have done it again and again...

I cannot fathom how a human being can have reserved cash when other human beings are homeless, in need, unable to pay for necessities, kids with needs, humans living in poverty, entire countries struggling, incredibly worthy opportunities to support research or cool projects, investment in people and ideas, and on and on. I have about two dozen friends who could each use a million dollars or more. I know of about a dozen very worthy groups who do amazing good in their communities who could use another million. I know of entire cities who need essentials such as clean water, electricity, safe and adequate schools, health care, services for veterans, civic projects, humans of all age who could use my billions. 

No, if I was a millionaire or a billionaire today, tomorrow I would not be. 
And I would be happy.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Are You a First-Generation Atheist or Humanist Parent?

Escaping the mind prison of religion is a grueling, effortful, celebration-worthy event. There should be Hallmark cards. The thought liberation is a tremendously life-changing event that few people have the strength, courage, and integrity to accomplish. Myself, it took me over two years to find my way out once the journey toward freethought began. 

So, New and First-Generation Freethinking Parents, gather round because I have some words for you.

I know the stress, the anxiety, the fear: for I have been you. I know the awareness that you are blazing an entirely new trail, the knowledge that loved ones will not and cannot understand and may not support you, the stress of feeling unable to trust believing loved ones with the hearts and minds of your children, the brightening world that is still unknown to you. 
It is a lonely path to liberation, this flight toward freethought, one fraught with anxiety that our hearts and minds walk without certainty in the beginning. But stay tuned, for soon you will experience the light.

The old way was well-worn, well-supported, extremely public, highly-sanctioned, popular, easier...choking, false, cloying, limiting, bloodthirsty, malignant. This new way is honest, cleansing, saving, liberating, essential.

So how do you do it?
How does one move forward into this unknown territory, albeit into the freedom that one craves, when our parents and friends and other loved ones begin circling the wagons? How do we PROTECT THE MINDS AND HEARTS OF OUR CHILDREN? I believe that this is a major task, to raise freethinking children.

Did we expect the battle of integrity that would erupt?

Fully knowing the massive division of belief systems between our beloveds and ourselves, most of us leapt into freethought and/or humanism with sheer relief. The religious systems of belief were too unpalatable, too intolerable, too objectionable. Knowing we would be entering into a completely incomprehensible place to our loved ones, we vaulted into the fresh and clear air. Aware that we were leaving all that we knew behind, 
we bounded into the light of freedom of thought.

Moving Forward

So you are ready.
How to move forward?
Please stay tuned. I will be writing tons more for you in the next days and weeks.

For now allow me to leave you with one suggestion: find a community. Online, in real life, whereever you can find them, a community of freethought or humanist parents who can support you, from whom you can learn, who will understand your fears, and with whom you can be honest. This journey into the light is just that, a journey. 
You will continue to learn. 
You can do this.
And check back soon!

I welcome your questions!

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My Gift to You
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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Well HE Believes in You

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a hundred thousand times, and usually in a rather magniloquent way; Well He believes in YOU.  πŸ˜‰

This particular diatribe that I have planned might upset you, but please relax a moment and allow me to explain why I find this particular claim to be nonsense. And I often wonder if people who utter these words are aware that they are quoting a character in the Dumas book The Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas, himself, a bit of a mystic at best? πŸ˜„

First let's look at the idea that a deity is with us at important times in our lives, the tough days, those days that suck, aloneness, struggle, loss, lost. I have been there myself, and for long stretches of time. These are the times when one feels so very alone, regardless of who else is in their company. I get  the need to feel that someone is actually on your side, someone is in your corner, someone is aware of your struggle and cares. I get that, the true gift of love from someone else when you are so very in need. Indeed, such a connection with a person who truly cares can be life changing and may be one of the truly transforming things in life.

In a case such as this, having someone say that HE believes in you might actually be useful to some people. I'm sure.
But to a skeptic, such a statement is positively ridiculous, less than nothing. 

I can honestly say that, even at those times in my life when I was the most alone and a true believer, the idea that a deity was with me did not give me the kind of comfort that some people might think that it should, that I had wished that it would have. In fact, I often felt that people were mistaken, that I was forsaken by God, that I was unworthy. And I felt this way completely because there was no relief, no comfort...nothing tangible at a time when I truly needed it.
Yet I believed...

The reality of difficulties in life are hard to bear and, I'll bite, it would be freaking lovely LOVELY if, indeed, some parental force would actually be there in some tangible way to help, guide, support, give succor. But the imaginings of a deity truly do nothing tangible. It's a sad, sad offering to a person in such a place, this imaginary ideal character, for there is no true comfort from imaginary things.

As I write this blog post, my cousin's dear husband is laying, post-heart attack, in the hospital in a coma. Everyone is surrounding this man with very sincere and well-intentioned prayer. They all sincerely believe that their deity is capable of miracles, including bringing this wonderful man back to them. I find it incredibly heartbreaking that they are placing such emotional energy, at this time, into this belief...

Dozens of people are praying, literally waiting for miracles, believing that their deity has this planned for this man... Though I've not been close to this side of the family for many years, on FB I have grown very fond of my cousin and her children. I'm so sad for them at this unexpected loss...

They firmly believe. 
I wouldn't, for all of the tea in the world, take away the comfort that they are getting from their belief. But I'm dumbstruck how their faith moves them from The Lord will bring miracles  to The Lord is taking him Home in just hours...
Does no one think, Gee, it's as if our prayers are doing nothing...

I sincerely wish I could remove the religious issue from this story of my cousin, but, alas, I cannot because the entire family is fully-saturated in their belief. One of her children is a minister and the remaining children and grandchildren are fully-immersed in their belief. It is truly a mystery to me as, I'm sure, my complete and total disbelief in their deity is a mystery to them.

Getting back to my argument, let's be real, He Believes in You  is generally spoken to a person who has the audacity to make the claim that, indeed, no evidence exists for the existence of a deity or any supernatural being. 
So, the familiar scenario is such: a person with temerity (read reason) has an exhausting and laborious conversation with a believer and makes the statement that they, in fact, do not believe in a deity of any kind. At this point, our intrepid believer will tilt their head to the left, give a pietistic smile, and say Well, He Believes in YOU.

And that's all. That's the height of the argument.
He believes in You.

It's cute. It's clever. It's catchy. But there is no more because there truly is nothing else behind it.

And let's not forget that Everything Happens for a Reason.
And I should believe Just in Case He's Real.

You want to believe, HEY, more power to you. But I also challenge you. If you didn't sincerely want to believe, would there be any reason to continue to do so?

Your thoughts?

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

With Sincere Gratitude: Through the Blue

You know those days when you realize you have been feeling blue, blah, for awhile without really noticing it? Then the realization happens and you don't see the why of it all? You're blue, aba dee aba di. I suddenly realized that I'm there right now and it's not because of my life. I have the happiest life I could have ever imagined! I'm in a real happy place, yet I don't feel it.

That means that it is chemical for me.

Because of my long history with depression I know that I can often interject positivity into my mind during times like this and get some relief. I've been treating my depression for about thirty years now with medication. I've taken Lexapro®️ now for at least twenty of those years and I really love it and depend on it. It makes me be my real self. 

So if the Lexapro®️ isn't doing the trick, maybe it's time for me to do my part and get deliberate with the positive talk, with the gratitude. Making it happen.  😌

Please allow me to share my gratitude with you, and I would be honored if you would share a line of two of gratitude in your own lives down in the comments:

  • I have to begin any list of gratitude for the dear, dear heart of my husband. A man who supports me with any hair-brained idea that I have. A man who is gentle with my internal storms. A man who is thoughtful, funny, and delightful.
    My heart.
  • I must also add the kids to any list like this, for they are so beautiful on the inside. My heart feels happier just typing this.
  • I am full of grateful love to the many wonderful authors and writers out there in the world. At the moment I'm deeply appreciative to Mary Doria Russell for her amazing intellect and for her capacity for beautiful language.
  • I'm grateful for the internet, whatever that is.
    It contains my friends, my music, my thoughts. It is a place I go to for research, creativity, classical information, distraction, and news.
  • I'm grateful for my heart and my mind.
    These parts of me allow me to experience so many things without losing myself.
  • I'm grateful for the outward sign of success with both Elizabeth and John as each of them experiences a graduation this month! Elizabeth graduated from community college with her Associates and John graduated from homeschool high school, first in class!  πŸ˜‰
  • I'm grateful for the cooling rain we received earlier while Jerry and I sat on a couch thing on the front porch and talked about the beauty brought to our lives by our granddaughter Eleanor.
  • Of course, I could not be more thankful to my wonderful stepdaughter and her husband, Jessica and Ryan, for making us grandparents. Eleanor is the brightest light, Folks!  ❤️
  • I'm grateful for the comfortable and cool bedroom that Jer and I have created for ourselves, regardless of whoever else does not love our green walls.
  • I'm grateful for the spring cleaning I did recently. It's lovely to have cabinets not spew their contents if we dare to open the door.
  • I'm grateful for my new shirts. I feel pretty.
  • I have such gratitude for my dear friend Lara, a woman with a very full life who always has the time to pass along love and light whenever she sees my need.
  • I'm grateful to Elizabeth for some things that she knows about but that I'm keeping private.  πŸ’œ
  • I'm grateful for the new friends we have brought into our lives lately. It's a true bounty.
  • I am sincerely thankful for the fact that I brought home the majority of Mom's plants after she died. She truly had a green thumb and, at this point, all of them are still alive and thriving. I'm grateful for the chance to keep them green.

    As I give it some thought, I think I now realize where my sadness is coming from...

    I've been missing my mom...

    You might also enjoy:
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Monday, May 21, 2018

The Apocalypse

I'm not trying to be particularly provocative or negative with this post, 
it's just something I've been thinking about. 

With the continuous human global unrest, I'm sure that a part of all of us wonders what a nuclear blast would be like. We've had at least 2,624 nuclear explosions worldwide since the technology was developed during WWII, detonated by at least eight nations. 
Did you know that? 2,626. 
Think of it.
Isn't that simply ridiculous?

Our species has found 2,626 reasons to release the explosive, concussive power of the atom. This count doesn't even count unknown blasts, underground blasts, and some other types of bombs. It's almost like we can't help ourselves...

Add the infinite number of years that our universe has been in existence, during which time continual annihilation of matter has occurred. It stands to reason that our little haven of a solar system will experience cataclysm some time.

Add other scenarios besides nuclear Armageddon that humans could intentionally or unintentionally bring upon ourselves including ecological disaster, particle accelerator accident, pandemics of all possible origins, 
or some sort of advanced AI scenario not in our favor 

And that brings me to my point.

I'm actually quite OK with the idea of total annihilation of human beings from this planet. With some very marked and noteworthy exceptions, our species has been quite destructive over all. We have poisoned our own planet, our own backyards. We spew toxicity directly into our life-giving atmosphere. 
We have divided ourselves into ever-increasing divisions. We treat our own teeming masses with derision and disrespect. We depersonalize anyone different from ourselves. We remove human rights with personal bias. We show exceptionally cold contempt for other life forms on our planet. We are extremely myopic. And many of us are so confused by various ideologies that we are unable to think our way through the morass.

Thanks to some biological developments and some serendipitous timing, our species is sentient and capable of knowing all of the above issues that allow us to threaten our own existence. I simply don't get it how we don't take this as seriously as possible. 

I don't want an apocalypse, I simply can see it as a distinct possibility. 
And if it happens, with some very market and noteworthy exceptions
it won't be a huge loss on this universe.

But it COULD be a loss.
Our species could be incredibly positive in the cosmic universe if, and only if, we can learn to put aside our differences and to value this planet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Peace on Earth: We All Live Here

I believe in less judging and more learning.
I believe in finding points of agreement.
I believe in the strictest honesty.
I believe in expanding one's bubble and comfort zone.
I believe that other realities and world views deserve equal care.
I believe in the goodness of most people.
I believe in giving a second chance, yet knowing when to step back.
I believe in always learning more.
I believe that people respond to understanding and effort far more than they ever will to shame and punishment.
I believe that our young people need to see opportunities, need to have access to those opportunities, and that we absolutely need to accept that their future is our future.
I believe in the basic posture of humility and human contact.
I believe in valuing our planet.
I believe in giving compassion to those who you feel don't deserve it.
Why can't we all move toward a place where we don't allow ideologies and conspiracy to separate us.
We all live here together and any other approach will result in our demise.
While I tend to be in love with technology and using social media to come together, there are also those very human qualities of divisiveness, pandering to the uninformed or uneducated, and the use of social media to bring about enmity rather than love.

You might also read:
Anti-Intellectualism, Racism, and Complacency

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Let Them Eat Voice
My Atheist Memes and My Late Night Angst

Saturday, April 21, 2018

One Piece of Evidence

So I have this new friend.
We met a few weeks ago and simply enjoyed one another's energy and personalities. We became fast FB friends.

Now, if you are an atheist, you know exactly what is about to happen. Everything is fine and dandy; we're laughing at one another's jokes, liking each other's pics of kids, wishing one another well, etc. Until that very moment that I wrote the first thing that identified me as a possible nonbeliever. 
I posted the meme above that reads It would only take one piece of verifiable evidence to destroy atheist. This new friend immediately starts to sound panicky and writing about faith.

You know, what I hope again and again is that new friends who are believers can handle it. My ongoing hope is that they can get to know me, can like me for the person that I am, and then, when finding out I'm an atheist, can just deal with it and maintain our friendship. But again and again I find that some people simply can't do it.

Geesh, and people wonder why I dislike religion so much.

I'm hoping this new friend can find a way to work through her issues and retain interest in our friendship, 'cuz I like her, but I can admit here that I'm not very optimistic about it. Some believers can get very uncomfortable around people who don't think as they do. I've lost any number of friends with being an open atheist.
I guess we'll see. 

April 21, 2018 addendum:
She replied something like I don't really believe in any of that so I'm not one to worry about it.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Facebook and Other Social Media

For all of the people paying any attention to the Mark Zuckerburg testimonies, I feel like this is a bit of a watershed moment in history, a thing that we'll all remember in later years. It is the time when the freedom we've been experiencing on the internet is in jeopardy; it is when our freedoms will disappear into bullshit governmental regulations in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the revelations about FB’s role in the spread of Russian disinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as CA's misuse of private information of FB users; it is when Zuckerberg has to answer questions about Facebook’s past, current, and future actions.

I'm not a big fan of government.
Smaller government is my preference, and not  in the Current Day Republican form of smaller government, but in the traditional fewer rules and more freedoms form of smaller government.

But the problem with fewer regulations is this: human beings can be opportunistic, lying, scheming assholes. We can't trust some people. Our personal freedom and our personal information is all at risk because of these few baddies. But, just like in every other sphere of life, if a baddie is going to do bad stuff, regulations and rules won't stop them. 
So it's the little guys, US, who are inconvenienced by all of the new regulations that are going to be smacked down on FB and other social media.

And just like in other spheres of legislation 
(gun control and others) basic, essential, reasonable laws of operational control are fine with me, more than that is useless and overbearing. But that shit never happens.

I love the internet.
It is a vast place with access to so much information. I'm amazed by it almost every single day. I'm constantly wishing I would have access to information so easily as I was growing up. I'm not the type of person who knows much at all about the ugly places, the seamy underbelly of the internet, hate groups, so I can't speak about any of that. So, with the exception of all of that crap, even with all of the imperfections of the internet, I am in love with more access, more information, more knowledge, more connection.

How to keep that, that is the question.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018


We have a very good friend who often says that he believes in all of the religions. That makes him an Omnist. Omni, meaning all, the belief in all. Omnists accept the truth of all religions. 
I'm thinking the Omnists would be likely to have one of those Coexist bumper stickers on their car. I'm sure most Omnists think of themselves as spiritual  rather than religious.

I'm sure there is a spectrum of Omnism, so any definition would, therefore, be incorrect. 
But let's look at it a bit anyway.

I can understand the willingness to be open to the wisdom of all belief systems; I'm sure there is at least some wisdom and knowledge available in many forms and under many guises. I get that. I can wholly appreciate the perceived equality of it all; there is no superior group or belief system. I can dig that. I'm assuming that an Omnist generally accepts the beliefs of all religions.

I can appreciate the Omnists' efforts to be equitable and accepting of all. 
I can appreciate the desire to be open to consider all things.
I can sincerely appreciate the soul searching.

HOWEVER, and maybe this is simply my own shortcoming, I see all the religions as very unworthy of devotion. Futhermore, 
I don't see how a person can accept that there are all-knowing gods, cultural gods, local gods, that we ourselves are gods, and that there are no gods...all at the same time. Not to mention the gods that are no longer worshiped. Or that these gods are knowable and the same time. That there are various afterlives and no the same time. Not to mention the many ways that some religions' beliefs obliterate the beliefs of other religions. I cannot accept the validity of any single religion, much less all of them.

In conclusion, I want to respect the Omnist.
Alas, I cannot unless that Omnist is young and searching,  as our friend is.
I don't see it as a place to stand.
It seems like a cop out to me. It is not choosing, not deciding, not 

accepting the falseness and bullshit inherent in the system. Religion is a the bathwater and Onmism seems to be unable to separate the bathwater from the baby.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Faithless Feminist

A few weeks ago, Karen Garst of Faithless Feminist blog included some of my writing as a guest on her blog. I've been noticing a great deal of sharing of my writing from her blog; it feels quite wonderful knowing it is being read. Karen asked me to write for her regularly, maybe weekly. I hope you consider keeping an eye open for more of my writing there.  *smile*

I've been reading some of the other writings on her blog. Wow, she has found and shared many good pieces of writing. I highly recommend checking it out of you have some lovely time to sit back and read, specifically if you have a nice cup of tea, as I do.    ☕

I, especially wanted to share a piece from Faithless Feminist that I read today called The Problem with Faith: 11 Ways Religion is Destroying Humanity written by Shanna Babilonia. I just thought most of you would enjoy the piece! I looked for more writing by Shanna and found this excellent piece called Why Organized Religion Fears Educated Women...seems Shanna and I are on the same page.

Karen Garst is always looking for guest writers.
You can submit your writing HERE.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

No Longer Quavering

I don’t care what others think of me,
which is pretty damn liberating.
How many people worry that they’ll say or do the wrong thing
and someone—god or a friend--
will judge or dislike them?
Those are shackles we put on ourselves.
If there’s one thing I learned from being atheist,
it’s that it just doesn’t matter what others think.
I don’t need approval – from anyone.
And when I screw up, I can forgive myself.   

Kids Without Religion

I have spent decades Dec!!! Ades!!!! of my life worrying. I used to worry a great deal about what others thought, kept myself buttoned up and tamped down, kept close tabs on my emotion. I used to almost never deliver opinion publicly. Hard to believe, I know. Some of this tremulousness came from my slightly-anxious personality; some of it likely came from family-of-origin dynamics.

But those days are OVER
Never again will I tiptoe around those who bugle their voice all over the place. Never again will I tuck my chin down, lower my eyes, and demurely take it. Never again will I doubt that my thoughts and opinions have equal value to every other person in the room. Because I and YOU have value and presence.

I Will not Be Quiet

If you spout your LGBTQ hatred, I will not sit quietly and let you have the stage. If you deliver a diatribe of your racist beliefs, I will not sit still and let your bullshit stand center stage. I simply will not be tolerant of your intolerance any longer.

But why? Because I enjoy the debate, the limelight, 
the battle?
Absolutely not. SOOOO much no.

I detest debates. But I detest hatred and isms
It hurts me inside, truly, when people throw bombs at the gay or lesbian or transgender, at the atheist, at the brown or black person, at the person outside of the mainstream, at the person courageous enough to stand up honestly and with integrity, at the person from another country, 
at those living in poverty, at those marginalized in any way. It hurts me. 

My heart is wounded nearly every day from the words I read online, from the voices I hear on social media. Yeah, inside I'm no longer quavering, but I'm wounded, pained. But I promise you this, if I hear one person standing on the head of another person, whether the object of derision is present or not, 
I will not stand down. I will face the spreader of misinformation or the provocateur and I will tell them truths, point-by-point. I will stand up for the person whose voice is quavering.

I have had several times when my defense of the silent was considered rude. ME, the rude one because I had the temerity to confront the anger, hatred, prejudice. In some circles I am considered rude! But count on it, I will no longer tolerate your intolerance.
I will no longer be silent.

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Friday, March 9, 2018

The Virtue of Doubt

The beginning of wisdom
 is found in doubting; 
by doubting we come to the question, 
and by seeking 
we may come upon the truth.
Pierre Abelard

I want to give this idea some thought, the idea that doubt is a virtue. Let's unpack it a little. I would venture to say that every single person who ever claimed to have or claims to have a religious outlook on life has had periods of doubt in their life. It is a very human thing. In fact, the church holds faith, over doubt, as one of the highest virtues one can hold. Much of the church's teaching, in fact, tells that having faith even when doubt is sucking one's mind into the unending fire is the highest virtue and is, therefore, essential to being in good graces with the Christian god.

Furthermore, doubt is considered a form of pride in the church. Another sinful thing, pride. It seems that the church wants nothing more than to save all believers from the sin of pride, the sin of doubt, by encouraging them to maintain faith in the face of doubt. What treacley goodness comes when one experiences doubt and yet chooses faith over that doubt.

Whereas I say that doubt is a human being's natural function common sense sticking its head above the water and wondering what in the world am I doing in this crazy place

A goodly amount of churchy effort goes in to the practice of encouraging adherents to maintain faith in the face of doubt. As Dieter F. Uchtorf said doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. I've got to admit, that's cute and catchy. Another cute pat on the head, Little One, is that expression Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith

In other words, give us some time to beat your common sense back into submission.

I wonder how many bouts of doubt I weathered before finally finding a way out of the church? Quite a few, actually, because I can clearly recall several of them. Moments when my eyes began to open, to see the ridiculous, to see the obviously man made parts of religion before being subsumed back into the fable and the pageantry. Back to the place where Thomas is a cautionary tale rather than a human being looking for clear, true signs of the resurrection...signs that should have been easy to display in that dear Doubting Thomas. I mean, just show me your wound, Lord, since we're right here and all.

Yes, those moments when doubt begin creeping up, story inconsistencies, weird/rewritten church history, obvious power plays, moments when the church as an institution, a money-making institution vs. a creation of a deity, becomes so clear, moments when the very kernel of truth of a religion becomes undeniably shaken. Having the courage to explore the doubt, to explore the questions more fully, to entertain the idea that the mustard seed is a truly ridiculous metaphor.

The truth is, being able to change one's mind when presented with new information is the true sign of courage and maturity; doubt is a true virtue. So listen to your doubt; it's trying to tell you something. Allow me to end this little diatribe with one of my favorite quotes by Bertrand Russell:

 The whole problem with the world 
is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, 
and wiser people so full of doubts. 

Bertrand Russell


You might also enjoy:
How to Talk Religion with Children as an Atheist or Skeptic

Thanks, Hitch
It Takes More Faith to be an Atheist

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Genetic Testing - 23 & Me

A bunch of years ago my friend Judi sent her saliva to get the genetic testing thing done and she kept urging me to get my testing done. 
At the time I wasn't very interested, though 
I understood her excitement about the ability to gain knowledge of ourselves. Recently I decided that the time was right.

I sent my saliva sample to 23andme about six weeks ago. I was surprisingly excited to get my results, after all of these years. Well, they finally arrived. Today. YAY.  πŸ˜€

In my family, a little on both sides, there is some belief in an Italian background. And Swiss, tons of Swiss. But generally we expected German. Forever back, German. It turns out that some of that is correct and some of that is incorrect. Here's the breakdown:

Not a bit of Italian in the bunch and lots more Irish than I thought, or ever even considered. It's a rather unremarkable ancestry, all things considered. Also, I would venture to say that nearly everyone in my hometown has an ancestry that would break down nearly the same.  πŸ˜„  Unremarkable. In fact, in my own composition, there is nothing at all except for German until one goes back to at least the early 1800s. 
Ja, Freunde, ich bin eine Deutsch madchen.

Along with the ancestry composition, the genetic testing results from 
23 and Me include quite a lot of other interesting information. I doubt much of it is interesting to you, Dear Reader, Sehr Geehrter Leser, except to know exactly what type of results are available through this particular company, and I'm delighted, erfreut, to share that with you. The only thing that really and truly surprised me about my own results is the part telling me that I'm highly unlikely to experience any dementia or Alzheimer's because it was not detected in my genes...I fully expected to get that because of my ridiculously bad memory and recall. Anyway...

The results came to me today by email, six weeks after sending in my spit. I've been clicking on many links and boxes and getting more and more information on myself. The results have lots of explanation as well as lots of disclaimers. 
The explanations are very clear and useful. 
Here is a list of a few basics bits of that information that is available with the emailed results. Each item listed here has an explanation of the characteristic as well as if the characteristic was detected. Lots more comprehensive information is available on their website to help understand results, though no result is considered a diagnosis. I'm including this entire list in case you are looking for something specific:

I found most of that interesting to read about. The results include a multitude of fascinating links to keep me busy reading for days!

I also enjoyed reading about how my long, long ago ancestors spread across the European continent, as well as some information on the family of African mother and I, Afrikanische Mutter und ich, and, indeed, most of us, came from. Here is an example. This map shows the movement of my ancestors, a very short trip, it seems to me, for such a long period of time, over 160,000 years! The L, L3, N, R, and H groups are all traceable and knowable lineages. My results included information on the movement of these distant ancestors. Here are two enticing and intriguing nibbles of information that came with this map:

Haplogroup L
180,000 Years Ago If every person living today could trace his or her maternal line back over thousands of generations, all of our lines would meet at a single woman who lived in eastern Africa between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago. Though she was one of perhaps thousands of women alive at the time, only the diverse branches of her haplogroup have survived to today. The story of your maternal line begins with her.


Though haplogroup H1 rarely reaches high frequencies beyond western Europe, over 60% of eastern Tuareg in Libya belong to haplogroup H1. The Tuareg call themselves the Imazghan, meaning “free people.” They are an isolated, semi-nomadic people who inhabit the West-Central Sahara and are known today for a distinctive dark blue turban worn by the men, and for their long history as gatekeepers of the desert.

I'm still processing lots of the information and will continue to do so. I have to say that while I'm very excited about having this information, there are a few things I was hoping to find out more about. Like cancer. I seem to have some of that in the family. Maybe a few other more common disorders and abilities as well. But WOW, I'm excited about what I have to read and research and, for now, zur zeit, I'll keep following links and using this information as the perfect distraction from my bad back...

If you have had your DNA testing done, or if you have any questions at all, please let me know! I'd love to hear from you.

You might also enjoy, genießen:
23 and Me
Being 75 and Not Knowing
Books and Other Stuff for your Lively, Loving Heathen Children