Thursday, March 29, 2007

Good Friday vs Bad Friday

Here's something I could never understand. If Jesus' death via the cruxifiction was a good thing for mankind why are Christian pissed off at the Jews for killing him? And why isn't Good Friday called Bad Friday? Just wondering....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Personal story about abortion

When I was in my early 20's I fell in love and lived with a man that was much older than I. He was mature and handsome; my knight in shining armor. Unbeknownst to me, because of my inexperience, he was an accident waiting to happen; marred during his childhood by his alcoholic mother and as an adult by years as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam.

I realize now that my parents set me up for these kinds of relationships. I wasn't taught how distinguish between good men and bad men. The prevailing thought was that God would take care of putting that right person in my life. I would only have to pay attention to grab that opportunity. Unfortunately, God gave lots of bad men the opportunity to be in my life and mine in theirs.

(Disclaimer: I believed in god during this time so it made perfect sense to me.)

After a couple of years into this relationship I got pregnant. It was bad timing, I suppose. I had just lost my job and this man admitted that he didn't love me anymore. My world was shattered. Keep in mind that I was 21 years old and had nothing to fall back on. No job, no money, no family, and no church. Everyone had abandoned me and I felt, well, there's not a word in the English language that could describe how I felt. In fact, 24 years later, right now I'm crying remembering how I felt that day.

The thought of going through a pregnancy with no support was overwhelming and my choices narrowed down to one. Abortion. For a couple years afterwards I felt sadness for what I had to do but am also grateful that I had access to a legal and safe place to do so and that I was able to continue with my life. Now, 24 years later, no regrets.

A couple years ago I was having a friendly debate with a Christian friend. Of course I argued the side of a woman's right to choose. My friend said that I couldn't be involved in this debate because I wasn't a mother; I couldn't possibly know what it was like to love and be loved by a child of my own. That inspired me to say, "Well, I've had an abortion and I know what it's like to have the freedom to do with my body as I choose. It's an important right and it goes much deeper than you, with your shallow Christian values, like to think." She was interested to know more but unfortunately I never got the chance to help educate her.

Of course those of us that are "Pro-choice" don't want on-demand abortions. That's irresponsible and stupid. What we advocate is to keep it legal and safe, but we also want more education on how to prevent pregnancies and STDs. Prevention will keep abortions from having to happen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

My "ah-ha" moment

My atheism was a gradual process, as most atheists seem to report, but I did have an "ah-ha" moment.

My father had been diagnosed with lung cancer and the family email list was full of prayer requests. I had long ago stopped believing in the power of prayer, but with each failed prayer I was amazed that my family members didn't get it. The same time they were wasting their time praying I was on medical sites researching what to expect from each test my father was going through. With 100% accuracy I was able to predict what each test result would be while each prayer request had 0% success rate. Science proved itself once again to be a better friend to me than religion.

One day I was having dinner with DH and suddenly it occurred to me: I'm an atheist. It was wonderful and exhilarating. I finally found my niche! Out of my mouth to my husband I exclaimed, "I'm an atheist." With my father dying and all this religious shit going on around me his reply was priceless: "Well, you're timing's pretty bad, don't you think?"

I found dealing with my father's illness and death much easier to take and understand as an atheist. I'll explain later in my next post.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Not angry....

From my previous blog entries it sounds like I might be a little angry. That would be a good assumption, but I do recognize that my parents thought they were doing right by raising their children with what they thought were Christian values. Brother and I (separated by 5-1/2 years) found our way out of the confines of that religion but Sister wasn't as lucky.

Why did my sister choose a different route than my brother and me? I've read a little about this but I think some of it can be explained by birth order and personality types. I'm the oldest and a non-conformist. I like being around people but I'm most comfortable by myself. I question all authority figures and had a difficult childhood because of this trait. As a child I felt my parents were not qualified to raise us and I still feel that way.

My sister is 18 months behind me. She witnessed first hand the problems I had with our parents and figured a better way. She actually got away with a lot more bad behavior because the focus was constantly on me. I hated this immensely but never felt complied to tell on her. I was not her keeper and didn't want the job. She was a people pleaser, saying what everyone wanted her to say, and not admitting to anything bad. I remember admiring her at some level and I never felt animosity toward her. She was a different person than me and was able to get through the minefields better. Good for her.

I do have to add that in her late 20's a huge emotional blow was dealt her. Brother and I think that she sought solace within a Baptist church and found that community comforting. She then remarried a few years later and started a family. I think that also contributed to her religiosity.

My brother was much younger than me and was not on my radar. He got away with much more than either of us. To be honest, I think I wore our parents out and they didn't have much energy to deal with, what they discovered later, to be minor problems. After HS he joined the military and began questioning his beliefs. In fact about 10 years ago he asked me to look up religious stuff on the Internet but unfortunately I wasn't ready to question my God-belief. Years later my brother and I, after following similar paths, converged to give each other support and information.

He's been one of my best friends ever since. I would've never thought it possible. Thanks Bro!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Scattering of Dad's ashes

Like I mention before, my father died over 2 years ago after a short battle with lung cancer. My mother and father had a pretty typical relationship for people in their late 60's. They met and married in their early 20's, had 3 children, raised them the best they could with the limited knowledge that they had, then wished us well as we graduated from HS. As far as they were concerned that was the end of their responsibility to us. One thing that I remember about my mother was how insanely jealous she was of my father. Many nights I laid awake in bed as I heard her grilling my father about any women he came into contact with that day. It terrified me and I swore never to treat my future spouse that way.

With that in mind one can imagine my surprise when my mother announced last October that she was to get married. Mom seemed so devoted to Dad and to his memory. Although she had hinted she was having a relationship with a man via phone and Internet, she didn't let on that it was serious. So she gets married in December and they stay in Texas for another month as she packs and takes care of business. As you can tell, I wasn't privy to the details of the wedding, nor did I care. I had finally gotten to that point since she never seemed to be that concerned about me.

Three weeks after the wedding she calls my siblings and me to let us know she wants to scatter Dad's ashes. "It's time," she explains. The location is 4 hours from her apartment in SE Texas and my thoughts are about how I dread being trapped in a car with her and my sister. The bright spot is I'll also be trapped in the same car with my brother, who shares in my disbelief.

The trip to South Texas wasn't bad. Before going Brother and I decide not to be confrontational. It would serve no purpose. There were a couple of tense moments though. During the scattering of ashes Mom asks if we would like to say anything. Due to the fact that I had already had a conversation with her that Dad was not in heaven, I decide to say a few things. I mentioned that I still have vivid dreams about Dad and I wake up sobbing and missing him very much and that Dad continues to live in my memories of him. Then something very uncomfortable happens; the group hug. Arrgghh! I've never enjoyed getting physical with anyone other than a sexual partner, I don't know why, but hugs with anyone else is just gross for me. Mom wants to say the Lord's Prayer so she and Sister recite it for reasons I'm still not sure about. I guess for comfort, but the Lord's Prayer was something we never said as a family so the meaning of it was lost on me.

The next uncomfortable moment was when Brother talked about having little time to finish a I book I gave him for Christmas. Mom wants to know the name of the book and Brother froze. It was a little funny as it showed how much he cared not to rock the boat, so I decided to rescue him, sort of. I piped up that it was a religious book, and then there was silence for several minutes as someone else had to figure out what to talk about next. The book in question? "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.

Now for my short rant. I thought Brother and I handled that quite well, thank you very much, but why do Christians get a pass and atheists don't? I was pissed that we had to handle those poor Christians with kid gloves and not talk out in the open about our beliefs and our feelings. It's not that I want to convert or argue with them; I feel a deep need to explain why the journey was important to me. I also know that they are not interested and feel it would be a waste of their time to talk to me about it. That's what frustrates me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Yes, I'm related to people who vehemently believe in Jesus and will get crazy angry if Christianity is questioned. Here's one example.

Several years ago I was involved in a family email list. My Dad started it and I thought it'd be fun to join and contribute. The people in this list were mainly cousins, his sister, a couple of nieces, and other close family members on my mother's side. I grew up around my mother's family and had several cousins the same age as myself and my sister. One of these cousins and her mother, my aunt, who is also my mother's twin sister, is a slave for Jesus. I kid you not.

As time went by I became amazed at the things that would be attributed to God from some of these people.
An easy time getting paid after totaling a car would be credited to God. Another would suffer an extremely minor injury after being involved in a one-car roll over accident and God's hand was there. You get the idea. Most of the time it was ignored or simply not acknowledged within group, but there were a few that would give a "Hallelujah" or an "Amen." I finally couldn't ignore it any longer and commented one time that it was too bad that God didn't interfere a few seconds before an incident in question to prevent it from occurring in the first place. I mean, WTF!

I got several different kinds of responses. Some informed me that God works in mysterious ways and who are we to question? Others stated that God works thru others to ease our way thru life. One in particular got angry, my mother's twin sister's daughter who is a slave for Jesus. My cousin was mad, writing in all caps with multiple exclamation points. Everything from bad spelling to poor grammar was pouring into these scathing emails. I was shocked, to say the least. This was around the time I had discovered I was an atheist and still trying to find my way through tons of research. This was also about 3 weeks before my father died from lung cancer. Poor timing on her part, but I'm sure she was thinking it was a great time to snare me in the clutches of Christianity. After all, I was having a life crisis, perfect time to use the promise of heaven to comfort me. When she was done I had no doubts about religion's role in my life. I was finished. She and other's like her reinforce my atheism daily.

Here's a question I always wanted answered: If God is so powerful and Christianity is so perfect, why do Christians get so angry when we question their religion. Something's up there. Perhaps deep in their heart they realize they are standing on shifting sand.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Death, heaven, and Atheism.

Several weeks ago my mother and I had a strange conversation about my atheism. It was our first and only. She didn't ask about my journey or how I came to not believe, she was more concerned about my beliefs of the afterlife and asked as to where I thought my father was. Dad died September 2004 after fighting lung cancer for 5 short months. According to an arrangement my parents made in advance, he was cremated and placed in a small black box. Mom lovingly kept his remains in a wooden chest in her living room which I thought was comforting for her. So when she asked me where I thought my Dad was I truthfully replied that he was in her living room.

That upset her greatly, and it should have. She wasn't concerned at all about me but about where I thought my wonderful father was residing at this moment. Again she asked but wording the question differently, "That's not what I mean! Do you think your Dad is in heaven?" I calmly replied he is dead and that he didn't exist anymore; that there was no heaven.

With the knowledge I have gotten from much research about Christianity I shouldn't have been surprised at her outburst and total lack of concern for me. It is all about them and about the rewards after death. What a creepy way to live one's life!

This essentially was my "coming out" to my mother and it was uplifting for me, but I have to admit I was disappointed, although not surprised, that she didn't ask better questions. She's never wanted to know much about me which is a source of much frustration on my part. One thing that did surprise her is how well I knew the bible. In the context of this particular conversation I wasn't able to tell her why, only that I did know it better than her. (When I brought up the morality of the OT she said that Jesus stated that we don't have to abide by the OT and I corrected her. She said that I was taking that verse out of context. Figures. That old pat answer.) That's when she questioned me about my Dad. I so wanted to tell her about my search for God and how I never found him. I wanted her to know that I didn't make this decision suddenly and without much thought. I wanted her to know how much happier I am now that the threats and promises of eternal torment no longer haunt me. Unfortunately for me, she'll never be in a place where she will want to hear me. She never has and never will.

More on this later.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bigotry in the South

I want to mainly use this blog to get a few things off my chest about the way I was raised. You see, my mother was a "Primitive Baptist"or "Hardshell Baptist." They are very fundamentalist and conservative; preaching fire, hell, and brimstone. I hated going to church. It was boring and when the preacher got the "holy ghost" in him he was unintelligible. I was a very smart little girl and just didn't get the whole religion thing so I managed to block much of it out.

Back to getting things off my chest. Both my parents were raised in poverty conditions in which religion was one of the few comforts one could count on. My father didn't talk much about his experience, but my mother was very vocal. Being raised in The Valley in South Texas she was around migrate workers and learned to think herself superior to these poor people. Mexicans, blacks, it didn't matter; she was extremely bigoted against anyone who wasn't white. By example we were taught that we were superior too and the "N" word (among other racial slurs) were common in our house.

In fact, I didn't know these words were bad until I graduated from HS and found myself living in Austin. What a wonderful, robust city! I lived there for about 3 months in the summer of 1979. Hippy Hollow, Travis Lake, Barton Springs, I did it all. I saw my first X-rated movie in Austin! This repressed gal was happy and finally free! During this time I became friends with a variety of people of other races. While having an innocent conversation the "N" word slipped from my mouth effortlessly and without thought as to the connotations attached to it. My black friend immediately had the most hurt look on her face and I knew instantly I had done something horribly wrong. Actually, it was so instantaneous that I knew that the "N" word was the cause of the hurt so I stopped in mid-conversation and left the room.

During this most embarrassing moment my thoughts turned to my parents, my role models. How could they turn me loose on the world without arming me with this knowledge? I was hurt and angry. I vowed to make it up to my friend and to make a difference in how I communicated with my parents. From that moment on I made it clear that they were NEVER to use that word in front of me. I also reinforced the fact that I was not a bigot and would not tolerate that kind of subject matter in my presence.

It's been 28 years since that moment. I'm happy to report that both Mom and Dad refrained from making racists remarks in front of me. I'd like to think it gave them pause, but that would be hoping for too much. I do know that over the years they did change their attitudes a little so maybe I planted that seed so long ago.

I brought up my religious upbringing for a purpose. My mother rationalized her bigotry on the bible by referring to the parts that condone slavery. At the time, as a very young child, I knew that was fucked up thinking. The older I became and the more I learned about Christianity I saw my mother as a very selfish person who cherry picked the bible to make it work in her favor. That's when I picked up the book to see what it contained for myself. That's when I started on the path of atheism.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What to say to other people's kids.

I was having a conversation with a friend today about what to say to someone else's kids if the subject of religion comes up when you find yourself alone with them. This is both an easy subject and a difficult one. The easy thing to remember is this child is not your child and you cannot disrupt what that child's parents want to teach him/her. OK, that makes total sense and that is what I would do in every case......but there are exceptions to this rule and that's what I want to discuss.

My first example is the time my nephew questioned me about heaven. He was 10 years old and my sister made it very clear to me that she considers my atheism to be stupid and that I'm not to discuss it with her child. Fair enough. I told him that he needed to discuss heaven with his mother because I had different opinions. I didn't elaborate and he didn't ask. I was relieved.

There were several thoughts going through my mind during this transaction. One was respect for my sister, another was that my nephew wasn't ready to hear what I had to say, and yet another was I simply wasn't prepared to give a good answer that fit that circumstance. The exception would have been if this had happened a few years in the future and he was aware of my atheism. My hope for my nephew is that his mother and father are not entirely closing his mind up for new ideas. My sister wants him to be a doctor when he grows up and for that to happen he must be open minded. I think that since information is getting easier and easier to obtain via the Internet that chances will be high that he will abandon these myths for better information and for higher morals.

Christian email hoax

I got an email hoax from a Christian relative. It claimed the government is trying to take god out of our lives by not putting it on the new dollar coin. During lunch yesterday Bro1 and I discussed this coin and how the phrase "In God We Trust" is on the side of the coin instead on the flat surfaces where most people would see it. Here is the website which debunks this rumor:

My point in bringing this up is that there is a culture within the Christian religion which is very emotional and uptight. I happen to be related to a large group of these weird people so I see it first hand. I can email until I'm blue in the face about checking facts and still no one seems to want to take the time to do it. Are these Christians just lazy or what? I think they assume that since they get these emails from other Christians that there is no way they could be false. I'm sorry, but I check EVERYTHING I get and will continue to educated these poor people.

First entry

I've been wanting to start a serious blog for some time now. With lots of ideas floating around my head I need a place to write and to be heard. Today I start my blog.