Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012

So.  I haven’t been here for awhile.

I just looked to see when my last update was, and to my surprise, I updated this blog during this last year.

I do not remember doing this.

My mental health has been … unhealthy.

But I’m better!  How do I know?

Well, I don’t.  I guess I have faith.  😀

Just kidding.  I feel much better.  My partners have told me I’m doing much better.  I was pretty fucking crazy, my friends.

I still struggle at work, but often that is my boredom.  And as long as I maintain my 2-cups-a-day coffee habit, I am solid.

I cannot handle responsibility now– I have been like this for a few years now and that is why I, with a Master’s degree, am working a job requiring a high school diploma.  So I deal with the boredom.  Sometimes, I deal with my boredom using Pinterest.

Well, for god’s sake!  They hired me to do a job.  I do it.  And I have hours left over in my day.  I have literally checked my job description to make sure I’m not totally missing something.

So I’ve added tasks and projects.  But nobody cares about them but me.  It’s weird and I don’t really feel motivated.  But I do them.  Usually.

I am in the final stretch of my winter break.  The day after new year’s is back to work.

(I’ve been going back over my old blog entries a little.  This post still makes me cry.)

Let me sum up.

I am 32 years old.

I was raised an Evangelical Christian but I do not believe in any gods now– this has been true for about five-and-a-half years.

(What!  Five years!?)

I have been divorced for almost three years now (longer than that if you count the day the proceedings started) (“proceedings started”… it sounds redundant but it is not.).  My father has since informed me that my ex remarried.  He didn’t even wait a year.  I feel sorry for his new Mrs. 

I am currently in a relationship with one man and one woman.  One of each; the three of us are a couple.  The two of them are married to each other.

Back up!  Two lovers?  I know!  I am so greedy!

My girlfriend invited me to her work Christmas party; her husband would be going too of course.  I didn’t want to go.  The three of us are not generally “out”, especially not to her extremely conservative Christian coworkers.  And I went to her last Christmas party and I don’t want anyone getting any funny ideas.

(If anyone asks, they took me in when I was going through a tough divorce and now they feel sorry for their poor little single friend, alone on Christmas.)

(Not that it’s any of their fucking business, but I want the both of us to stay employed.)

I ended up going to her holiday party, but I was suddenly hit by some depression while I was there.  Plus, fucking cheap wine will be the death of me.  I really shouldn’t drink any wine unless I know for sure it didn’t come from Trader Joe’s.

So it was shitty and I’m not going next year.

Moving on.  I am quite the feminist; one of those people who can’t watch TV without yelling because everything is so wrong– misogynistic, racist, etc.

I guess that’s good enough for a summary.

This weekend, my partners and I are picking up girlfriend’s sister and going to Karaoke/buffet/beer bust. 

Backstory: the sister still lives with abusive mom.  Abusive mom has been bullying Girlfriend about a visit and we decided to visit mom, dad, and sister when we pick up Sister for Karaoke.

Abusive mom is a real piece of work.  I have never heard of anything like this.  I mean, I have dabbled in the abusive spouse literature but not the abusive parent literature, so maybe it’s not so uncommon, but damn.  Just the sound of her voice turns Girlfriend into a pile of goo.  She was crying the other day because, she says, she has no spine when it comes to her mom.  And the first thing that popped into my head was, “But lots of animals don’t have spines!”  And she laughed, and I think I may have been onto something. 

Trouble is, there are any number of ways this visit could go wrong, and Girlfriend will not have the power to get up and leave if her mom ignores, destroys, or detours around her boundaries.  I have her permission to actually drag her out of mom’s house if certain events occur.

So I am getting a little anxious about this.

But!  I admit that it may be a whole barrel of shits and giggles to be “out” with my girlfriend, with her husband standing there, in from of her mom.  I am practically rubbing my hands together with glee over here.  

I guess that’s all.

Oh, I have a blister on my lip due to an infection from my incessant lip-picking.  I really hope it heals before the visit with mom.

Advertisements

all-inclusive definitions

May 22, 2011

Perhaps you’ve heard Christians say, “God is in control, God loves me, and God will always take care of me.”  And maybe you’ve heard the skeptical response, “God sure has a poor way of taking care of his people.”

But have you noticed that “taking care of” can fit just about any definition, and is, in fact, desgned to do so?  God takes care of people in so many ways, keeping them both rich and warm and homeless and starving.  What does it all mean?  That God loves some people better?  That he can’t do everything at once?  Or that he never promised to make you rich, that’s not what “taking care of you” means?

The broader a definition is, the less it actually means.  Unless you spell out and agree to what things mean– as in marriage vows, for example– there’s no standards and objectives, much less is there a way to maintain accountability to those standards.  So when I say to a friend, “I appreciate you, and I’ll invite you over for tea,” there’s the statement and there’s the proof.  But when God supposedly says “I love you,” anything that follows is the proof: I got a raise, I found $20.  Even the bad things are proof, because God is giving you the opportunity to trust him.  Even if death and destruction follow, God is teaching you to rely more on him.

What’s interesting is that if you think God hates you, you’ll base that on events.  What do you think that says about people?  About religion?  About God?

Why do I suddenly sound like I am writing an essay question?

Unbelief

May 3, 2011

[I wrote this months ago, finished it today.  Gotta get this thing going again because I need an outlet!]

I was reading the blog of a friend from high school today– actually, I suppose I was browsing it, because she’s heavily involved in Christian ministry and having babies, neither of which I can particularly relate to… In any case, right at the top of the blog she had a quote from a Christian pastor:

Unbelief is safe because it takes no risk and gets what it expects. – Bill Johnson

My first thought was, “Are you kidding me??  Unbelief is the scariest fucking thing in the world!”   Now, I realize I don’t have the context of this quote; and I certainly don’t know whether he is talking about the “sin” of unbelief, as far as Christians doubting God, or whether he’s talking about unbelievers in general.  He may very well have meant the former.  But I react pretty strongly against this Christian idea that non-believers [a] choose their unbelief [b] because we decide it is better or easier to live our lives this way.  This idea especially focuses on how we atheists think we are free to sin without guilt, but really we are slaves to our sin nature; and we believe we have no lords and masters but ourselves– but really, God will send us to Hell one day for our rebellion.

I disagree.  Having no gods or afterlife or easy answers is not fun, and it’s not comprehensively freeing, and it certainly doesn’t feel safe. It feels lonely, the world seems dark and unfriendly… and after a person loses faith in gods, religious people (that’s pretty much everyone) seem sad, or stupid, or dangerous, or like liars.

If you’re not at least slightly optimistic by nature, your whole outlook on life takes a serious beating.  I’ve considered antidepressants just because I’m tired of it– and I used to consider myself optimistic.

Yes, there is wonder and beauty and majesty and stuff that is just freakin awesome.  That’s another post.

But I once was Christian, and now am not; and growing up with that belief system shaped me.  I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.  And some days, I think that if I could take a pill to make myself believe again, I would take it.

Belief that God is good, and has a plan for me, and has chosen a husband for me, and gives me employment and income and every good thing, and wants to be with me forever… believing that is safe.  There is no risk there– if you die in your belief, you only die, and that’s all.  The only risk in believing is in the risk that you will get something, and expectations always carry a risk of unfulfillment.  But even a Christian can be safe from disappointment because God had a reason for that, too.

Belief is safe.  Belief offers comfort and assurance and an eternity of bliss.

Belief can be very risky, depending on the instability and extremity of your beliefs, and the risk grows the longer you have your belief, because to lose it becomes more of a loss.

Belief always gets what it expects, because to believe in something is to believe in something.  It may not be tangible, but it is technical and precise with just enough mystery to keep it interesting.  It is flexible; you can always be satisfied… if you believe you should be.

an answer to prayer

November 28, 2010

I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday, telling her about my new job (YAY).  The whole thing happened so quickly– there was less than a week between applying and accepting the job offer– and my [Christian] mom made this observation: “I know you probably don’t see it this way, but it seems like an answer to prayer, doesn’t it?”

And since I absolutely avoid all types of religious debates with my mom, and since I am not in the habit of being in any way rude to her, I didn’t say, “It can’t be an answer to prayer if I didn’t actually pray.” Instead I went on to tell her why it happened so quickly (both the reason I was sure of and the reason I suspected).

But that’s not the whole story. 

I only had a day to prepare for the interview and I spent the whole day doing it.  And that night as I went to sleep I thought, “Boy, I sure hope I get this job.”  And where a few years ago I would have prayed, you know what I did, last week, as an atheist?

Said a prayer.  To Persephone.  It went a little something like this.

Dear Queen of the Underworld,

I hope your winter is going well.  We miss you up here.  I would be very happy to send you a nice photo of California springtime, to encourage you during these cold months, especially if you would be so kind as to help me get this job.

All the best,

Alice.

And since I got the job, I was gonna hit a Friends of the Library Bookstore for a nice photo to send Her way.  I guess I’ll burn it?

Yeah.  Probably best not to tell my mom about this one.  She’ll think I’m totally off my rocks.  Which I might be.  But this amuses me.

I am not a witch

November 15, 2010

Anyone who knows anything about Evangelical teachings knows that witchcraft is bad.  So bad.  I was raised to be wary of fortune-telling, palm reading, Ouija boards, magic tricks (even though they were tricks), any stories with wizards, wizards, or spells in them (never saw “The Wizard of Oz,” though “The Little Mermaid” was warily permitted despite the witch Ursula).  We were not allowed to make-believe or play anything even remotely related to the occult.

And even though the Bible teaches that witchcraft is real in 1 Samuel 28, as a child, I wasn’t really clear on whether witchcraft is bad because it works— i.e., there are real powers there that we shouldn’t use as Christians– or because it was rebellion against God to try to get something without Him.  I imagine that’s a difficult theology point for parents, since you don’t want to be saying that shit actually works, but if it doesn’t, then why is it such a big deal to forbid it?  This could also get awkward if kids start wondering why prayer is supposed to work but casting a spell isn’t.  Either way, it’s irrelevant, since I don’t believe in gods or magical powers anymore.

So I did something a little weird.  I bought a pack of Tarot cards.

They are beautiful cards.  I got the Rider-Waite Tarot, since that’s kindof the traditional standard– the King James Version of Tarot, if you will– and I think I’m going to have some fun with them.  I am interested in symbols and mythology, so after I figure out what everything means (I got a book from the library), I’m really gonna start practicing and playing with them.

What I’m really looking forward to is using them for my writing.  One of the ways I write is to just make characters and start telling stories: no planning the plot, no story arc, no character development… not really anything, just telling little stories for fun.  Of course the downside to this is that I get stuck when I don’t know what happens next.  So what I’ll do is read the character’s cards and get an idea for the lesson or event or person that should be happening next.

Fun idea, yeah?

As for using them for myself: reading my cards, or for someone else… I’m not sure how I want to do this.  I want them to be for fun, but I also want to be cautious and work out some sort of rules for myself because I can see how this could get addicting.  Side note: a friend (who is an atheist) divorced her husband in part because he was obsessed with reading Tarot and really starting to creep her out.  Thing is, even if I don’t believe there is anything magic about them (and I don’t), and the person whose cards I’m reading believes the same, there’s still a strange pull of the attention, a drawing of curiosity… and that weird feeling when the cards say something useful or dead-on-accurate is a powerful feeling.  I’m going to assume it’s simply a human phenomenon.  Otherwise there’d be no religion, right?

And you know how if you read your horoscope, it’s basically just advice, like, “watch out for pride,” or maybe, “today is a good day to ask for a raise.”  Harmless advice, and probably even good advice.  I’m thinking I’ll use the cards like that if someone ever says, “do me, do me!”  There are general meanings of each card, and of course ways to interpret the cards for relationship or financial questions. 

Seems to me that this will end up being a lot of self-fulfilling prophecy.  I remember playing with “Chinese fortune sticks” (no idea) with a friend, and we took turns telling each other’s fortunes by pulling out a stick from the jar and looking up the number in the book.  On one of his fortunes, I zinged him– because I knew him pretty well and I linked the fortune to his personality.  But his eyes got really big and he got nervous and put them away, saying he’d never play with them again.  (Superstitious Catholic?)  But it was me who knew him, not the fortune sticks, they were just a tool.  But what I said really scared him.

So this has the potential to be at least somewhat useful, a little fun, and a little scary… and I can see how I’d have been burned at the stake for seeing into someone’s soul or “knowing” something I have no business knowing.  Fortune-tellers obviously don’t have magic: they have insight into human nature and psychology, and they know enough about their clients to make meaningful statements.  I just hope I can give reasonable advice if it ever comes up, and maybe get some good insight into myself using the cards as a sort of mirror.

Looking back over what I’ve written, I think I get it, now.  Tarot and other divination and occult practices give power to individuals, not to gods.  Practicing Tarot might seem like accessing the beyond, or tapping into some spirit world, but really it’s simple human insight and making it mysterious– or perhaps it is the reverse: it takes the mystery of humanity and sorts it into symbols and myths and stories so that we can understand ourselves.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I’m kindof excited.

not a good person

November 2, 2010

I have a really big problem.  I am not a good person.

If I was still a Christian– if I’d have died a Christian– I would have gone the rest of my life without even knowing I am not a good person.  Why, you ask?

Because Christians are automatically good people.

How?  Why??  Listen to Auntie Alice and I will tell you.

When I was a young girl, I was taught to love Jesus.  I was taught that if I loved Jesus, He would make me loving and patient and kind.  He would make me a good daughter and a good wife.

If I put God first, I would do well in school.  I would be healthy and successful.

If I trusted God, He would bring me a good husband.  I would have happy, Christian children.

So did my parents actually teach me much about how to be a good person?  No, they taught me how to love God.

Did they teach me about how to find and choose a good mate?  No, they taught me how to trust Jesus.

I have a lifetime of growing up to do.  And I need to start now.

Why I don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments

March 21, 2010

Besides the obvious reason of there being no gods, I mean.

File this one under deconversion, and, /facepalm

I think I have mentioned this before, but I just love the simplicity of it.

 First, a little trip to the Tanakh.  Deuteronomy 5, the Ten Commandments.

5:7: You will have no other gods before me.

Oh, wait.  I missed a good part. 

5:6 I am Yahweh, your god, who brought you out of Egypt.

By the way, humans, my name is Yahweh.  Nice to meet you.  Let me tell you what you’ve gotten yourselves into.  First, a few rules…

Doesn’t this story sound familiar?  “Sure, I’ll help.  Just sign here… that’s right…”  And then a few months later, out comes the fine print, all these rules! and your children are under the same contract!  Why is Satan the one playing this role in traditional Christian folklore?  It was Yahweh the whole time!

But don’t worry, Alice.  If your ancestors were not brought out of slavery in Egypt, you don’t even have to read any further.

If on the off-chance your ancestors were Jewish, well, guess what.  The text does say these rules are for the people who were actually brought out of slavery in Egypt.  So everyone on the planet now living is totally off the hook.

Wow, the Bible.  Good times.

emotional immaturity

January 21, 2010

I’ve got a lifetime of Christian programming and ten years of abusive marriage to recover from.  I know this.  Now, the details are getting filled in.

My housemate scolds me sometimes because I’m “not as scared as I should be” about the economy and my lack of employment.

And it occurred to me that I’m not scared because I don’t feel anything.  I’d been dishonest with myself — and in denial– about my emotions throughout my marriage.  This doesn’t even count any emotional immaturity resulting from being taught to “give it all to Jesus”.  But I said to my friend, “I’m trying to act as if I was scared.  I know I should be, but my feeling receptors are broken.”  I’m not trying to feel sorry for myself, just trying to be a grown-up and act rationally and take care of myself despite my shortcomings.

Then I realized I’m also recovering from a lifetime of programming that tells me, if I trust God and trust my husband, everything will be okay.  This was a breakthrough for me, actually, because lately I tend to sit around and behave like everything is going to work itself out.  (I know, even a Christian would tell you that their god doesn’t promise to give you a job if you don’t get out and apply for one.)  But this was  a wake up call.  I need to outsource more of my brain and put a big sign up on my mirror: DO SOMETHING!  IT’S NOT GOING TO DO ITSELF!

In conclusion, I will now purchase my own copy of the A+ study guide, start studying basic Unix commands, and apply for a job at JPL.

telling the family

December 23, 2009

When I first became an atheist, I wasn’t sure how to tell people– or if I should tell them at all.  I eventually decided to wait until the topic came up, with my family especially, and then mention it.  That went over fine, for the most part.  The one glitch in that plan came quickly, the first weekend after I’d told my husband (now ex).  I was on the phone chatting with my mother and once the call was over, my ex asked if I had told her that I’m not a Christian anymore.  “No, I didn’t.”

He looked at me with this expression of authority (that’s the only way I can really describe it– like he was about to give an order.)  “You need to call her back and tell her.”

“No, I don’t.”

But he insisted, and basically, made it clear that he was going to be a bullying pain in the ass until I did it, so I did.  (This story makes me so angry, even two years later.)  The conversation went like this.

“Hi, mom.  I’m not a Christian anymore.  [Ex] thought you might want to know.”

“Uhh… okay… thanks for telling me.  Do you still believe in god?”

“I’m not sure right now.”

“Oh.  Okay.”

We say awkward goodbyes and that was it.

I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

Talking about my divorce was really hard for me when I first left my ex.  Word got out to some family members before I got a chance to break it to them, and I tried to explain a little bit to my mom, but I was really, really falling apart.  I would talk slowly and with wierd pauses, eventually stopping in the middle of sentences, and finally I would just freeze up completely.  I couldn’t even move.  I managed to get a few words out with my mom, telling her I was unhappy, that it wasn’t a good marriage despite the way it seemed.  Then my younger brother called, and I felt like he was demanding an explanation.  I finally told him, “I’m not ready to talk about it.  We’re not even really that close.”  This really hurt his feelings, despite the fact that it is perfectly true.

So now I’ve been back home, and I’ve been able to chat about it, with varying degrees of detail, to everyone except my brother, since he’s just got into town.  When we have some time just the two of us, I’ll bring it up.  I figure I’ll say something like, “You asked about my divorce before, do you still want to know about it?”  That method worked pretty good with my mom.

It feels good to be able to bring up difficult topics like this.  It even feels brave.

“Jesus is not a swear word”

October 3, 2009

My parents were fundamental evangelical Christians and raised me to be the same.  This all went according to plan until rather recently– I told my parents about my atheism shortly after I discovered it myself, Christmas 2007.  (Happy Holidays mom!!)  My mom is still a Christian, though she is fairly private about it and doesn’t attend church any more.

My dad started leaving Christianity around 1997, when we left the shrinking fundy church I grew up in.  The new church was Presbyterian, so it was a lot more feel-good and happy Jesus-loves-me kind of stuff.  This was a departure from the old church, which was cultish in the amount of control they tried to wield over congregates.  My dad finally got a chance to look back and realize all the shit they put him through.  After a few years recovering from the worst of it, and deciding which parts of Christianity he doesn’t believe anymore (most of it),  he started attending the “Center for Spiritual Enlightenment”, who had a focus on spirituality rather than religion, which is good for people like my dad. They are not judgmental and do meditation and talk about humanism.  Good times.

Then, recently, he looked up “atheist” in Wikipedia and realized he was one.

He and I were talking today and he says, “You ever see those bumper stickers that say, ‘Jesus is not a swear word’?”

“Yeah!  But Jesus is totally a swear word.”

“Can’t it be both?” he asks.

“Well,” I say, “If people didn’t think Jesus was a god, it wouldn’t be a swear word.  So you can’t really have the one without the other.”

Irony: when Christians propose a deity who is offended by the misuse of its name, because this invites and causes that misuse by people who do not believe in said deity.  I have to laugh… because literally, it is Jesus’ purported god-ness that makes us want to use his name as a swear word, so it’s not just ironic, it’s almost poetic.

But enough of that.  It is time to eat pork chops.