Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm pissed off, but why?

I'm pissed off at my family on Facebook, but I suspect I shouldn't be. I responded to a relative's post about her being against gay couples adopting children. I did it in a positive way by commenting that I know of gay couples that have healthy, well adjusted children just as I know straight couples with children who have turned out to be terrible people. It stayed on her post for a few minutes before she deleted it and that's what pissed me off.

But I also understand that she can't handle an opposing view because of her religious beliefs. I also understand that it's her right to delete said opposing views if she feels she doesn't want anyone to view it or if it offends her. She also has the right to ignore me and/or delete me if she feels it's the correct thing to do for her. I understand all that; what bothers me is that she can't handle it.

Fortunately I also have that right. I went the other post of hers that I responded to, the one about her opposition to abortion, and deleted my comments from it. I suppose she won't notice but it did make me feel better. Now she won't be offended by my words about how education is important to reduce the amount of abortions in our country and how I find life just as precious as she does.


A dying friend

A few days ago I found out a very dear friend is dying of cancer. I knew her and played tennis with her several years ago when she went through her first bout with breast cancer. She was so positive and courageous that I immediately looked to her as an example to follow when my father became terminally ill and died of lung cancer. Whether she knew it or not, she was a source of strength for me during a very hard time of my life.

Today I found out that my friend is no longer eating and is drinking very little. Her family has asked for no visitors and I suspect the end is very near. Although I'm sad I haven't been able to say goodbye to her this isn't something I'm devastated about. She's my friend and I will honor her wishes and express my grief in other ways.

Now for the atheist in me to discuss a few things surrounding her impending death that is bothering me. When I say this is bothering me I mean that I've had to keep my opinions to myself and be respectful of some of the strange things mutual friend Ruth has said to me about this dying friend. Ruth is in her late 70's and is a life long Catholic. That is the context. She mentioned that our dying friend will be a source of comfort and will be able to take prayers when she is on the other side. I tried to convey my thoughts in a different way, by voicing my love for her as she is in this world, in this reality, and not in a supernatural way. I mentioned that if I wasn't able to be here (if she died while I was gone visiting family) then I wanted Ruth to know that I will be here in spirit and to convey that to others if appropriate.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Joys of Swearing

One thing I love to do is swear. I drop f-bombs everywhere and I don't care who hears me. In fact I've had people tell me to stop and I ignore them. Fuck 'em, I say. Swearing is wonderful and good comedy. It releases tension and it just feels good. Swear away I say!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Losing my religion through literature

I don't remember much about what I liked to read until I got to HS. My 10th grade literature teacher was fantastic and introduced me to the world of Frank Herbert. I don't know how she managed to do it but everyone in our class got a paperback copy of Dune and we studied it for a whole semester. By the end of six weeks I had finished Dune and the other two books in the trilogy. The subject of how the main character was the savior of the Galactic Empire was not lost on me. Paul was a person of myth and prophesy, so very much like Jesus.

About that time, or perhaps a few years before, we had read the Greek and Roman myths in school. I enjoyed them immensely and noticed the similarities between those stories and the biblical stories I was exposed to. I remember vaguely thinking that if we knew the Greek stories weren't true then why were the Christian stories, which were just as unbelievable, considered true to many people? I didn't give it much more thought until I read Dune.

Now there are lots of reasons I never considered Christianity as a worldview. My mother being a bad role model set the stage for me to reject Christianity but I consider the reading of Dune to be an event that opened my eyes to what religion was really all about. Control!

More on this later...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An early memory

My mother was the teacher of Christianity in our family. Unfortunately she wasn't very good at it. She only told the popular stories and didn't give satisfying answers to the questions I would have. I learned that she really didn't know what she was talking about; just regurgitating stories she heard from her mother, her father, or her pastor.

The story she told about why women are unequal to men was one of many. According to my mother it all started when Eve gave the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge to Adam. Because of that act God cursed Eve and all of her female descendants. The curse was that women were always to have horrible pain while giving birth. As I remember it, my mother was very specific to say that all the other animals didn't have pain, it was just humans and it was because of Eve.

Then one day I had the opportunity to witness a cow giving birth. We lived on a small farm and we had a few chickens, rabbits, and a cow. I might be remembering the scene wrong but I suppose it doesn't matter. It was dusk and my mother must've known the cow was about to give birth. When the cow laid down she came to the house to get us and she allowed us to watch this fantastic miracle. By flashlight I watched as this cow pushed and pushed while moaning in obvious pain until the calf popped out of her.

I think I was about 12 years old and very interested in science and math. I fantasized about growing up to be a veterinarian so I was very watchful of all the animals I came in contact with on the farm. The fact that this cow was obviously in pain made an impression on me. My first thought was that my mother had lied to me. She had to know that other animals felt pain when giving birth because she had been raised on a farm too. Or did she not pay attention? Or was she trying to make a point about God and believed at some level she was correct?

Whatever her reason was I never believed anything she told us after that. Especially the religious stuff. Her credibility was shot. I was 12 years old and a hell of a lot smarter than her. As you can imagine I had a awful childhood. The constant religious talk grew tiresome and, on top of everything else, it didn't make sense.

There are a lot more reasons I didn't buy into the religious stuff and I'll write about those in other posts.

Note added 7-17-2009: See PZ Myer's post about a related topic here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Frustrated with Facebook

Actually, I absolutely love Facebook. It's been a great way to get in touch and keep in touch with old and new friends. My frustration is that I'm unable to express myself as an atheist because I want to be sensitive to my theist friends, of which I have many. I've been able to only express myself to other atheist friends because I can control what gets displayed on my wall.

Since I feel strongly about not offending any Christian feelings I've decided this blog is the best place for me to rant and perhaps talk to other atheist friends who feel the same way. Even if that doesn't happen I already feel a sense of peace about being able to put my feelings into this blog.

One thing I am doing on Facebook is posting articles/links about subjects on science and politics. Not inflammatory things like whether Palin is a liar or not, but subjects that can open the mind and cause people to think a little. My compass is what would my mother deem unoffensive and post only those links. It's also helping me to be a better person to think about the feelings of those who can't handle the whole truth about a controversial subject.

I feel a bit of sadness having to censure myself. I'm one of those persons that has a very light filter and is honest to a fault about my feelings. As a result the super-religious people in my life feel they can't trust me not to say anything derogatory about their collective worldviews. It might be their loss but I feel everyone loses when opinions are stifled because some subjects are taboo to discussion.

Proof there is no God!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A friend's birthday

I used to not be a sentimental person. My marriage to an ex-Navy SEAL who was diagnosed as bi-polar taught me to not be hurt by the uncaring actions of a person who was incapable of being thoughtful. This man would not lift a finger to make another person feel special and as a result I had to develop a protective shell around me. Nothing got to me but I also became harden to the feelings of others as a result.

I spent about 4 years with the bastard before leaving and divorcing him. But the damage had been done and it took years for me to get over it. My current husband is very thoughtful (to a fault!) and I saw how people responded to him early in our relationship. I embraced this thoughtfulness and, fifteen years later, I feel I'm pretty good it.

I've developed a friendship with a neighbor in my subdivision over the past year or so. Pam is over 10 years older than me and has traveled all over the world, raised a couple of children, and has always been an atheist. She and I started walking together a few months ago for exercise which gives us lots of time to talk. We talk about current events, religion, family, cooking, past experiences and many more things. I've learned that she's quite a fantastic person and I really like her a lot.

Today is her birthday and last week I thought I'd like to get her something special but modest and a card. I found a gift that I knew she would like and a unique card. I went out of my way to write something special in the card, something straight from my heart but well written and thoughtful. I almost didn't have enough room on the card to accurately relay my feelings but I managed. I felt good that I had done something nice but not over the top.

Later in the day to went to her home with gift and card in hand. She opened the card first and read the lengthy inscription inside and began to get teary eyed and a little emotional. I was stunned! My words had come from a deep place but I didn't expect her reaction. We hugged and she told me that she was very happy to call me her friend.

And this from two old atheists!

Anyway, it was nice and I wanted to share.

Email problems

I have some pet-peeves about email etiquette. I hate those emails that people just forward to another person or group of people without a personal message. It's lazy, rude and thoughtless. What's wrong with a simple cut-and-paste with a simple explanation why this particular forwarded email was important to you and/or why it should be important to me? Another big pet-peeve for me is spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and capitalization. Most of the time I can't make heads or tails of an email that someone just puts together as if it tumbled from one's head. And what's up with all-caps? To me that shouts out about that person, "Look! I'm a religious idiot!" Unfortunately, some of my crazy fundie relatives think that typing in all-caps is especially important or something. They won't stop even when proper email etiquette is explained to them. I know because I've tried.

With that being said, today I got two email forwards from a person I barely know with links to a "global-warming is a hoax" website and a right-wing political website. This person did not include any explanations for sending this email to me and it was a forward of a forward of a forward! Being that I've finally gotten my family to stop sending this crap to me I was a bit annoyed that now I've got this shit being sent to me by someone I barely know.

So I decided to write an email to this person and I choose to try to make it as non-confrontational as possible. This is what I sent:
Dear [person I barely know],

I appreciate you forwarding these emails to me but I'd like to request that you take me off this email list. I am already inundated with similar emails from family members so I already have enough to read.

Tina Marie

No reply as of yet but I'll keep you posted.

Update: Got this today:
So sorry. I'll be happy to do that.

Which I responded thusly:
Thanks for understanding.

Have a great day!
End of story.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My encounter with a Christian

A few days ago we had dinner with a Sam and Judy. My husband has a professional relationship with Sam.

They came by our house first for a few drinks and snacks before we took off for a restaurant. Judy was very nice and sweet with a cute smile and pleasant personality. We hit it off very quickly but soon the conversation turned to a personal tragedy in her young life. She tells me that during this tragedy she speaks to God and the things he said to her in response. About this time I'm thinking, "Oh shit! This woman is nuts." Honestly, I don't remember much more of what she said. She dominated the conversation and continued to giggle while telling me this terrible thing that happened to her and what God told her throughout this ordeal. It was surreal.

She never asked me about my beliefs and I guess she assumed that I shared hers. Well, maybe she didn't make that assumption and decided to tell me her testimony anyway. Whatever it was I was still very, very uncomfortable.

Over the next few days I thought about what would I do different the next time I find myself in that situation. Actually, what I'd really like to know is would a Christian appreciate being told that the person she is telling this kind of story to is an atheist or at least someone who doesn't share her views? Would it be rude or kind to interrupt and inform this Christian that I am not a Christian?

Note added July 5: I found out later that my husband told the husband of this woman that I'm an atheist. I wonder if we'll get invited out to dinner again. My guess is probably not. We'll see.