Archive for July, 2008


July 29, 2008

One of the biggest consequences of Christianity in my post-Christian life has been the idea of providence. It’s a nice word; I actually like it quite a bit. As far as English appreciation, its got a pleasant sound and elegance. And the concept of care and guidance over the earth is a comforting idea: everything is as it should be. God’s in his heaven, all’s right in the world. It is well with my soul. That sort of thing.

At its best, being resigned to providence or fate can give comfort, and not just in some vague sense of “God’s will be done.” It’s not much more than the idea that one has done all she could and the rest is up to things outside her control. Perfectly natural way to look at things.

I’m not really sure what the idea of providence could do at its worse. Perhaps it can lead to a laziness and depression, but I imagine it would have to be coupled with the complete denial of free will.

For myself, I have often thought, “Well, it’s just not God’s will that this happen right now.” I think it has covered up my laziness, though. I am not as willing as I should be to do hard work to achieve a goal that is not coming very easily. The main example I can think of is my art. I am sure that I have talent and I should pursue my art. But any number of excuses have come between me and that goal. Sometimes things do just happen outside my control, and its best to be resigned to those events to some extent. But I have done far too little to achieve what I want, and far too quick to say “it’s not God’s timing.” I have a feeling that this is not so much a weakness of the Christian faith in general as it is a personal weakness and willingness to use a noble idea for selfish and self-crippling reasons.

It is, after all, well-known that religion is just as easy to exploit for evil as anything else. Unfortunate, really. You’d think there’d be something impervious to evil. But I guess that’s where the idea of God (well, some gods) came from in the first place. There must be something all mighty, all holy, all good, right guys? Well, there’s got to be. So let’s worship it just in case it gets mad at us for being evil.

Ah…. religion.

The universe and you

July 28, 2008

The universe does not like you.

It does not need you, want you, or desire to do you any favors. The universe is ruthless, and any who cannot survive, die.

Virtually one hundred percent of the earth and it’s graveyard’s inhabitants do not know you, need you, or care what happens to you.

Nobody is coming to save you; no deity or superhero or mother or boyfriend.

You are the only person in the universe who is constantly, obsessively, unavoidably aware of you. You are all you’ve got.

You have the authority, and you must have the courage, and only you can know yourself.

So it’s all up to you.

Cheer up; it could be worse: the universe could hate you.

Origins Part I: A heretical context

July 24, 2008

Because every hero has an origins story.

I hesitate to explain too much about the context of my de-conversion because I am wary of causing the reaction, “Oh, Alice was just under a lot of stress. That explains it. She’ll come back to Jesus when her life is in a little more order.”

Well, I’ll be honest. I was under a lot of stress. I finished grad school, started job hunting, moved four hundred miles from home, family, and friends, lived in very diminished circumstances for a few months, moved to the desert, found out my sister was a selfish liar and has been taking advantage of me and my husband, had a relationship-ending blow-out with a dear friend, and my husband was in a major accident.

And I bought a house.

I got an excellent job, and we moved again. So far as I can tell, I have recovered from the worst effects of all these life changes. My husband quit his job (that he can’t really perform anyways, on account of the injury), and is going back to school and is very excited about his new career. Ends are meeting and I still have a few dollars to buy coffee once a week at a local coffee roaster. Things are going well.

I should explain my Christianity. I had moved away from the extreme fundamentalism that characterised my youth. I loved the Episcopal church because there was a woman preacher, and that open up some emotion in me that I had never felt before… the recognition of woman’s place in religion and religious authority. That was big, and it changed me from a girl who accepted everything on the authority of religious leaders to a woman who thought more critically about what she believed. I did not think that abortion was murder, though I still believe it is quite sad that women seem to have no other options. I did not think that being gay was the epitome of defiance against God and a challenge to family values. I did not think that Genesis was a science text.

So as time went by, I began to release these religiously installed opinions when I discovered I could not rationalise them any longer. Perhaps it was some kind of slippery slope.

But I never faltered on the ideas that God loved me and had sent his son, Jesus, to redeem me from a life of sin and rebellion against God so that I could be with Him in Heaven when I died. I prayed regularly, and though I continued to adjust some of the details of my beliefs, I believed that they were all in line with the scriptures — and believe me when I say I know the scriptures very well — and God’s will.

It was in that context that I began to explore Judaism as a way to understand the history of my faith.

A dilemma

July 23, 2008

I have a dilemma. It arises from a personal problem. The problem is coffee.

I have always been proud of the fact that “I don’t need coffee”. It was a part of my character and my personality, you know, crazy ol‘ Alice hasn’t been hitting the coffee again, she’s just like that. Well, that was high school.

College was interesting and varied enough that I didn’t start to think I needed coffee then, either.

Besides, coffee tastes nasty and it is an extra expense. Why would I want to drink it unless I need it?

Then, in the summer of 2006, after a long weekend during a heat wave which left me weak and ill, I needed coffee. I got a cafe latte at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. And it was…

It was good!

It was delicious! I like this! How come I never tried it before? And I continued to drink cafe latte weekly.

Fast-forward a couple years to a few months ago, when I started drinking coffee at work in the morning, just because I liked it. It was cheap because I had my own coffee maker and everything. Then I decided to take the thing home because I was pouring out too much coffee at the end of the day. So I quit coffee, sortof by accident.

The next three workdays saw me nearly unconscious at my desk all day, and cranky and headache-y in the afternoons. How could I have done this to myself? I have become that which I scorned and swore to never be! I like my job; I don’t need coffee just to get myself here every morning! Etc, etc, etc.

And now I am long over my withdrawal, but this brings me to my logic thinking problem. I have let go the idea that I have to hold the same opinions and have the same tastes as I did when I was in high school. That’s a little embarrassing, to have taken so long to realize that, I mean, but it feels like a big step toward maturity.

I still don’t want to be addicted to anything. But it is just that the word addiction has overly-negative connotations in this case? I mean, I like coffee, with a little bit of cream, and one 8-ounce cup per day is hardly the sort of behaviour that will hasten my demise.

Most of all, I don’t want the sort of job where I feel I need some artificial stimulant to do my work. That just seems too sad. But whether I want to have that sort of job or not, apparently, I have that sort of job. I spend around eight hours a day in a 6×6 cubical, so it’s no wonder I need a little pick-me-up. Not that it’s boring; I like what I do. I went to grad school for this, for crying out loud. I guess it just gets a little old every day, and the environment isn’t helping, either.

So I guess my primary problem is this:

Faced with the fact that
1. I don’t want a job where I have to drink coffee
2. I have a job where I need coffee

Which should I do? Drop the coffee or the job? I can’t quit my job, and I’m under-productive without coffee. Should I simply resign myself and drink the coffee? It seems like the right thing to do. Or maybe the righter thing to do is to simply have a little discipline and just do what I know needs to be done; you know, do work, earn my paycheck.

Am I being unreasonable if I keep resisting the coffee? Is some ideal about what I think I should be like more important than my actual, physical need for chemical motivation? I mean I’m having a little trouble motivating myself through this blog entry, and I like writing.

This brings me to another idea, too. Why is it that people are proud of themselves for their preferences? I mean, for your accomplishments, sure. But your taste in music? “I don’t listen to the radio” …So? I mean fine, know what you like and maybe even why you like it, but I don’t see what the point is of getting all smug about it. Do I drink coffee because I enjoy it? Do I drink it (or not) to for the express purpose of being counter-culture? Should I avoid it because it’s unhealthy despite the fact that I just long and long to have a nice hot cuppa when I get to my cubical?

I guess what I’m getting at is this. Where’s the line between doing what I want and doing what I should? How can we even define what a person should do, anyways, and how much of that is only based on opinion? What if my opinion changes?

Should I apply the scientific method to my coffee dilemma??

Hey… that might be kinda fun.


July 22, 2008

My name is not really Alice.

Perhaps I could have come up with a more creative pseudonym, but I like Alice. If I had a daughter, or a new pet lizard, or something, I’d want to name it Alice. But since blogs are cheap and easy, unlike my imaginary daughter or my iguana, I’ll have to settle for naming the blog Alice. Or am I naming myself Alice?

Not really, Alice.

I’m here because I need a place to be an atheist heretic hell bound apostate. I’ve got a blog on mySpace where I avoid religious topics, but the feeling that I am censoring myself for no good reason is getting frustrating. I am wary of rubbing my atheism in everyone’s face and appearing smug and superior… and I don’t want to actually feel superior, too. Losing my religion doesn’t equal losing my moral character. It’s not that I mind causing my religious friends a little metaphysical strife, but my grandma reads my blog (I know! How cool is that!), and her dear heart is worried for my immortal soul. Now since I never was Catholic, I think that was technically forfeit from the start. But being an atheist is a hell of a long way from being a Protestant, so I can see where she’d be worried. With what I’m sure were the best of intentions, I have been told I need to get my head on strait.

So let’s get to work on that, shall we?

There’s two things you should know about me. One, I was raised to be an Evangelical Christian. Two, I am now an atheist.

My last words to god were spoken approximately fourteen months ago.

Oh, and one other thing. My spouse is an Evangelical Christian. There are things we don’t talk about. So you’re going to hear it here.