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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Smart People
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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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My Unpopular Opinions
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Top Ten Reasons Why Atheists Suck Redux

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.  ๐Ÿ˜€

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.  ๐Ÿ˜„  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, genieรŸen:
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Being 75 and Not Knowing
Books and Other Stuff for your Lively, Loving Heathen Children

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Is Love a Feeling or a Choice?

They say that the very idiosyncrasies that appeal to us about our partners in the beginning of a relationship are the very things that push couples apart as time goes, the very reason that most couples fall out of love. And this is the exact thing that scared me for years as a single person. I thought the real me would push my eventual husband away.
I am kind of annoying. I could list my shortcomings and you won't believe me, but trust me, there are many. As a young woman growing up I would fret about all of this because I was certain that my future amazing husband would eventually leave me for my many irritating parts. And for the snoring.

 Lucky for me, I married Jerry. He is STILL, inexplicably, in love with me.

And I am still in love with him, even with the things that could annoy me about him. We are damn near opposites of each other so we could find about a million things to dislike; but we don't. His sense of humor still cracks me up. It's silly AF, pervasive, and apparently genetic because the house is full of kids with the same sense of humor. At times it drives me out of my mind! At times I can't even sit at the same table as all of them at dinner when they all get going with their silliness!  LOL  Other times, they make me laugh until I have tears running down my face.

I'm so glad that, again and again, Jerry and I have continued to choose each other. How that man can choose me after the ridiculous crap that *I* do is truly beyoooond me. I drive my own damn self crazy sometimes.

One of the kids' favorite stories is this one time on a gorgeous New Zealand beach when I was taking pictures, MANY, according to the story. Along with their dad, all three of them would not give me a decent smile for the camera. No nononononono. Not one. They all kept making faces and cracking themselves and each other up (see above pic for an example). I was FURIOUS.  lol I kept saying I will never be on this beach again and I want a lovely picture!!! I was so angry. They kept mugging and cracking up, never giving in.

 Now a collage of those silly faces is on my refrigerator because I love it.
He's one lucky man I tell you.

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SUPERSTITION. It is bloody everywhere in American society.

Don't get me wrong, I love my country. But there are churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other buildings for worship on every stretch of road. I can hardly drive down the road without reading some ridiculous church sign that mentions the blood of Christ, sacrificial lambs, blessings and curses from deities, requests for special courtesies, begging the deities for favors, praiseprayergracefaithheavensalvation, or the one I saw recently If being hurt by the church causes you to lose faith in God, then your faith was in people, not God. Obviously I'm mostly surrounded by Christians with just a tad bit of Muslim thrown in there, as the signs suggest.

I mean, how RUDE to admit to being hurt by the church... 

This week John and I were passing a church sign that mentioned sacrificial lambs and atoning for sins and I honestly thought OH YEAH, People believe in stuff like that, I forgot!  People actually believe that two thousand years ago a man's death prepared the way for all people who believe in him to live an everlasting life in heaven...because he was hung on a cross, of all things!!! 
It is utterly ridiculous!

When I was a believer, had I read that previous paragraph, I would have been shocked and alarmed at such blatant disregard for the real and true love that I felt for Jesus. GOOD GRIEF was I brainwashed!

Now, the utter nonsense of these superstitions blows me away. I find every single religion to be truly absurd. Have you ever seen those memes that say things like I sacrificed myself to myself to save you from myself. What is so great about those memes is that they simply reword the religious claim into non-religious terms, thereby exhibiting the nonsensical claims, in this case the LOOPHOLE that the deity created for his own rule. lol   ---------->

I am so far outside of religion and superstition now that I actually forget the brainwashing that goes on inside of those buildings and when I run across the signs I clunk my head and think Oh yes! I had forgotten the deliberate self-deception that believers put themselves through in order to maintain the preposterous and foolish falsehoods that they, then, force into politics, education, the marketplace, healthcare, news, scientific research, and every other facet of life. I had forgotten the arrogance of believing that my superstition beats all of the others, that my religion is The Right One and I am a Chosen Person. I had forgotten that believers scare themselves silly with a fictional foe with a fear that keeps them awake at night with nightmarish stories invented just to frighten children and themselves. I had forgotten that the industry of religion is a well-oiled machine.

I had forgotten that story where doors were marked with lambs blood so that the deity would kill the right babies. I had forgotten the woman who was turned into a pillar of SALT, of all things, for looking back to the town where her children were as the town and all of its inhabitants were being destroyed by a terrifying god who was throwing a tantrum. I had forgotten the cute children's nursery decorations depicting the utter destruction of nearly all living things on the planet. I had forgotten the need for a single group of people to feel like they are chosen among all human beings. And I had forgotten the mind game of claiming that all of this was in a part of the holy book that we are allowed to ignore, unless we like it.

I had forgotten that people have actually convinced themselves that they have a personal relationship with...nothing. I forgot the perpetual state of fear that so many believers live with: fear of losing the great unseen, fear of a vengeful extortionist, fear of the pain of being human. These same people have purposefully applied blinders to their minds eye so that they can use the epithet of mystery  when confronted with the many, many, many facets of religions and superstitions that make absolutely no sense and that are obvious flaws in the continuity of the stories. These well-meaning believers have found some way to consider stories of obvious mental illness to be holy, divine messages or interventions..? I could go on.

I sometimes forget ALL of that and move through my life happily, using reason and love and kindness and integrity in my interactions, and with deliberate awareness of things that make no sense. I see the gorgeous, huge, ever-changing sky and feel a tremendous sense of awe with our atmosphere. 

I react to the changes of the season with an understanding of axial tilt and position of the earth and moon in relation to our sun. I learn continually about new and exciting fields of scientific research...and I forget all of the superstition.

And when I forget all of that...I find PEACE, JOY, and TRUE AWE.

Wish I could ignore the church signs... 

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