Monthly Archives: May 2011

Atheist/Christian Relationships

I had a nice hike with my BF this weekend. We took a different path up the mountain, finding a neat cave and several cool camping spots for future reference. It was a bit chilly and gray, and I was feeling a bit lazy, so we weren’t out as long as last time. There were a few great views, but wouldn’t you know it, we forgot to bring a camera again.  Oh well.

We found a nice rock overlook to eat sandwiches on and got to talking. Apparently, the fact that I’m an atheist has come up again between my BF and his family, this time from his mom. As he told me, his mom is concerned that I will turn him into an atheist. Really?

  1. Why? What would I stand to gain, seriously? That’s the thing about atheism, we don’t have a mandate from god to evangelize. Sure, I make no secret that I’m an atheist, or my reasons why. But what do I gain from converting people? People tend to resist attempts to be converted away from their religion. They see it as an attack on their faith, so they defensively cling to it even more. I would probably have never returned to atheism either if someone was pestering me in the manner of a door-to-door theist.
  2. Returning to atheism (and I say return because all babies are atheists) requires a personal epiphany. It requires a person to analyze facts skeptically and come to a conclusion based on evidence, being prepared to change their views without reservation based on evidence. Atheism isn’t a religion that one can be made to believe on faith just because they’re told, it requires skeptical, rational inquiry with an open mind.  You can give someone information all day, but you can’t change the way they think, the way their minds work.
  3.  So what if he did become an atheist? Why should that bother anyone else?
Earlier in the week, I got roped into going to Denver for a 3-day seminar about something called the P.I.C.K. program. From what I could tell, much of it was just marriage advice. Did I mention it was a retreat for single soldiers? All in all, it wasn’t that bad. Each class was an hour long then we had the rest of the day off. It gave me a chance to visit a friend of mine, at least.

Last time I went, the classes were much longer each day, and there was a considerable amount of sexism and xenophobia, in one of the videos in particular. A Christian leader of some description (pastor?) referred to non-Christians as “heathens,” and went on and on about how chaotic women’s minds were compared to men’s.  But the worst part was when he said “Women who have sex before marriage are stupid,” which is bad enough anyway, but he said no such thing about men who have sex before marriage. Double standard much? Apparently, all women are supposed to want marriage, and we’re supposed to lure men into with our vaginas.  Right. Oh, and condom use is bad.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to deal with that shit this time around, but there was something that bugged me. The man in a video (a different guy) talked about compatibility a bit. One of the categories he listed, and didn’t go into detail about, was spirituality. Afterwards, the chaplain who was running the thing (a nice guy, I thought) opened the floor for questions. One person asked about the spirituality thing and how much it matters. I don’t recall the chaplain’s exact words, but it seemed that he was more or less saying that partners had to be of the same religion, preferably the same denomination of that religion. I raised my hand.
“I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little under 3 years now. We’ve been through 2 1/2 deployments between us (dual military) since we’ve been together. He’s Christian. I’m not. We haven’t had any trouble.”

I was dismissed as some kind of an exception to the rule. I don’t think that I really am.

Jon and I don’t have the same religion, what with me not having any religion at all, but we have the same views aboutreligion. It’s a personal matter that one should not imposed upon others, or discriminate against others on the basis of, it’s something that should never be used as an excuse to hurt others or rob others of their rights, and it should be kept out of government.

Given this, religion has never really been much of a problem for us.

Intolerance From Improbable Sources

For some reason, I have a tendency to expect that marginalized people would be more tolerant of other marginalized groups. Maybe it’s because I tend to clump all out-groups together when talking about tolerance. Maybe that’s a mistake. It really irks me when I see some bigoted nonsense from someone who is sometimes the subject of bigotry for being a member of whatever group they belong to. What’s even more irritating is when people engaging in bigotry feel the need to identify what out-group they belong to, as if being someone subject to bigotry makes their own bigotry valid.

For example, a while back I wrote a few posts on my blog about being childfree. I explained that I never wish to have children, my reasons why, and responded to a few common “bingos” that I get from people who want me to have kids anyway. A harmless enough post, I thought. Then someone shows up and, in a series of comments and a post on their own blog, calls me “selfish” a “cold-hearted bitch” and insists that I must have had a bad childhood. They did all of this before I could even respond. Oh, but it was all OK because this person, in their first attack, identified herself as transsexual, as if it really lent any credibility to her accusations. This was a few weeks back.

Yesterday, another person was attacking a friend of mine, Angie, on her YouTube channel. Angie had a very difficult pregnancy a few years back, which she didn’t notice until very late. She almost died carrying this pregnancy, and her pregnancy barely made it. She was told that if she attempted to carry another pregnancy, she and the embryo/fetus would most probably die. She now has a son, a very sweet child, who is special needs. Soon after his birth, she divorced her abusive, rapist husband and is now a single mother. She can’t find work due to her disability, and yet has once again been turned down for social security. She had an IUD placed, a contraceptive device that remains in the uterus for years, and has a rate of effectiveness at preventing pregnancy comparable to surgical sterilization.

Well not long ago, it failed, and she became pregnant. Ok, so let’s get all this together. She’s poor, a single mother, has a special-needs child, was using a very reliable form of contraception, and would be killed by attempting to carry a pregnancy, which would certainly not survive either. Of course, she had an abortion. She took RU486 very early. She talked about it on her blog, her YouTube channel, and her twitter. She had the audacity to not be ashamed about seeking a save medical procedure that 1/3 American women will have at some time during their lives. And she’s paid for it, receiving hate mail and even death threats.

Her latest hater piles on the usual “slut-shaming” and religious dogma, paying no attention to how abortion saved her life. This person felt the need to point out that they are asexual(which, as an asexual person myself, is extremely embarrassing,) as if that makes their nonsense valid.

Note to the world, being a member of a marginalized group doesn’t give you the privilege to be a bigot to others.

Drive-By Thoughts: Truth

It’s been my experience that, with few exceptions*, when people write the word “truth” with a capital “T” when not grammatically necessary, they don’t actually mean truth. They mean dogma which I am supposed to take as truth, at their word, or else.

*One exception being Halo fans speaking of the Prophet of Truth, that batshit crazy bastard.

What Rapture?

Yesterday, May 21, was a big day for my boyfriend and me.

We retrieved our Pathfinder from the shop after some much-needed repairs, then drove it up into the mountains. The ride, I think, was much smoother. Along the way, we spotted a pick-up truck pulled over on the side of the road with two men fiddling around under the hood. My boyfriend, being the good Samaritan he is, pulled over to offer assistance (and to pet the pitbull in the cab.) It turned out that all the gentlemen needed was some radiator fluid, which my boyfriend happily provided.

Higher up the mountain, we parked the car at what would be our trailhead. Before setting out on our hike, however, we stopped for lunch, some sandwiches my boyfriend had prepared earlier. We, of course, had to climb the difficult rock hill near where we parked to enjoy a lovely view as we ate. Even on this short walk, we felt the impact of the altitude. We knew already that the day’s hike would be difficult.

Our stomaches full, we were off. We found a well-traveled path and followed it a ways. We’d occasionally leave the trail if we thought we saw another way up the mountain ridge (with nothing but trees and rocks, the trails aren’t so well defined.) We wanted to hike to a rocky peak on the ridge, which we had decided over bologna and cheese should be our destination. None of the paths up that we hopped on took us where we wanted to go, however, and we were often met with a sheer rock wall. The main trail didn’t take us where we wanted to go either, eventually leading us to a dead-end.

We did, however, meet up with a couple of prospectors, a man and a woman carrying shovels and a sieve. They were down the hill below us when we first saw them, coming from the direction we were about to head in our search for a way up the ridge. The woman warned us to be careful of loose rocks, citing an incident earlier in her day when some falling rocks had nearly smashed her face, but had successfully wounded her hand. When she reached us, my boyfriend and I provided her first-aid. My boyfriend sanitized, bandaged, and stabilized her hand while I provided an icepack and aspirin. As we did, her male companion happily showed us the gems they’d found. As we chatted, the couple told us that there was no way up in the direction we were about to go, but they said there was one the way that we came. They said that there was a rope we’d have to climb in order to get over a 10ft rock wall.

We never did find the rope, but we did find a way up. The uphill hike was difficult. The slope was steep and either covered with very loose dirt that slid under our feet, or loose rocks which did the same thing and knocked other rocks loose as they fell. But we did eventually find our way up to the top, to the destination we’d all but given up on reaching that day. From our vantage point, we could see for miles and miles. We could see the the antennas of NORAD atop Cheyenne Mountain; Garden of the Gods well below us; we couldjust barely see the summit of Pikes Peak, which appeared to be having a small avalanche, rising above some nearer hilltops; and we could see our Pathfinder, patiently waiting for us at the trailhead. It was there, as we rested, that we lamented not bringing a better camera than the one in my near-dead phone.

My boyfriend told me to listen. We listened, holding perfectly still, barely breathing. Finally, I spoke up, saying I didn’t hear anything and asking if that was the point. He smiled.

After our hike, my boyfriend and I went out to eat at our favorite restaurant, a lovely Japanese Steakhouse. We do love our Teppanyaki, and the chef was fantastic. Next, we attend a late showing of the new Pirates of the Caribbean Movie, which I expected to be a lazy cash-in (and to an extent, it was,) but was surprisingly good.

All in all, it was a fantastic day! However, it was also a very busy one and, not having time to watch the news, I feel that I may have fallen behind on world events. Tell me, Harold Camping, did the beginning of the end of the world, the rapture, happen while I was out?

I certainly didn’t notice any world-wide earthquakes, “such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”. Did any geologists report anything? Did Christ appear to rocket all the good Christians into the sky, into the heaven we somehow never hit with our airplanes or space shuttles, nor detect with any of our systems? I kept an eye on my boyfriend, who is Christian, and never noticed him flying around (that would have helped us get up the mountain easier.) We didn’t see any other people floating up to space either, and we could see most of eastern Colorado from our vantage point. Sure, you predicted only about 3% of the population would be raptured, but with this being a very conservative state, home to the hate group, Focus on the Family, and formerly Ted Haggard’s mega-church, I would have thought we’d at least notice a few people. There wasn’t a trumpet to be heard, we know, we listened and noted the silence.

And, Mr. Camping, if the world didn’t end yesterday as you predicted it would, just like it didn’t end in 1994 as you also predicted it would, what new date will you pull out of your ass to keep the sheep in line and paying you for a salvation you only pretend they need?

And Christians, for how long will you continue to fall prey to this sort of bullshit, like good, gullible, profitable little sheep? How long will you keep falling for Rapture predictions when there’s one every few years? How can you fall for one invented by the same person who’d already been wrong once before? How can you buy into the irrefutable mathematical evidence provided by a man who thinks the universe is only as old as the late stone age? How long will you be victims of fear-mongering Apocalypticism? And will you consider, for one moment, how it is that people who use the bible as absolute proof of things always turn out to be dead wrong?

“I know it’s absolutely true, because the Bible is always absolutely true.”
— Harold Camping, president, Family Radio

Oh, I see, he hasn’t actually bothered to read the bible.

Draw Mohammed Day

This is the prophet Mohammed, founder of the religion of Islam. This artist’s rendering was based on the best evidence as to the man’s physical appearance. According to scholars, Mohammed had a large, round head, that was almost as large as the rest of his body. His left foot was considerably larger than his right. In addition to this, his left arm was longer than his right, reaching about to where his knees would be if the man had any joints to speak of.

Ok, ok, it’s just a crappy line-drawing with a person without the time or energy to put more effort into it. For some reason, my tablet isn’t working properly, and I don’t have a scanner. So I drew this with a mouse in Gimp in all of about two minutes.

I’m not making this post to show off my artistic skills. I’m trying to make a statement. It’s a statement that has to be made, but too many people are afraid to make.

This was the second annual Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. The first was started by an American cartoonist after a South Park episode was censored after the creators were threatened by Muslim extremists for depicting Mohammed. In the episode in question, Mohammed was shown in a bear suit, hiding his face, even though he’d been depicted without a disguise before on the show.

Probably, Comedy Central was more prone to take threats of violence seriously after recent events, involving assassinations and attempts at such in response to depictions of the man. Even the founder of the first Draw Mohammed Day has been forced to go into hiding for fear for her life, deeply regretting starting the event in the first place. As a result of these threats, free-speech is unduly censored.

Curiously, as far as I’m aware, nowhere in the Quran does it forbid depicting Mohammed. In fact, Islamic depictions of Mohammed weren’t uncommon until about the 17th century. Drawing of the man are only forbidden by a few Hadiths, sayings about Mohammed. But even if the Quran did explicitly forbid the depiction of the man, then that should only apply to Muslims, not to the whole world.

No doubt, many Muslims will find offense in depictions of their icon, and in Draw Mohammed Day, and to them I say, grow a thicker skin. No belief, religious or not, is beyond criticism. Simply put, a drawing of Mohammed shouldn’t be offensive just for being a drawing of Mohammed. Take my drawing, for instance. I could have drawn him as a pedophile (which wouldn’t have been inaccurate given his 9-year-old wife,) or I could have drawn his as a suicide-bomber, a path some of his more insane modern followers have taken. But I didn’t. I just drew a man. It could be anyone. When it first started out, I thought it looked more like Jesus.

Hmm… now there’s a thought. I see depictions of Jesus all the time, but I don’t see modern Christians getting offended at each and every instance. And when they are offended by the image, they tend to just not look at it, maybe complain a bit, but I don’t see great mobs of Christians rioting in the streets, smashing property, and threatening to kill artists over it.

I don’t draw Mohammed to cause offense, although I do see it as a possibility. I expect I will be accused of not being politically correct, by non-Muslims. I believe that I am indeed being politically correct. What isn’t correct, politically or otherwise, is forcing a religious doctrine upon people, and threatening those who do not submit.

If Islam is to be respected in a civilized society, then Muslims must act civilized as members of that society. One undeniable facet of society is free-speech, and it should never be compromised for fear of causing offense, or fear of the very real violence that offense will cause.

Welcome to free society, get used to it. It’s time for Islam to grow up.

A short message to moderate, non-extremist Muslims, whom I hope are a majority, if you don’t want your religion to be characterized as the most violent “religion of peace,” you need to speak up as well and reign in the lunatics among you who make Islam as a whole look bad.

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