Kill ‘em all; let God sort ‘em out.

All the religious kids I knew growing were taught their own families’ sacred dogma to the exclusion of everything else.  The only thing anyone was taught about what other people believed were strange parodies made to sound absurd by comparison.  Atheists typically aren’t like that.  For example, I took my own kids to a Buddhist temple and also to a Hindu temple, and I let each of those facilities speak for themselves.

The Hindu temple was particularly fun.  I remember my daughter used to have a habit of saying “Holy Jesus” whenever other people would have made an exclamation about excrement.  So here she is listening to this Krsna kid explaining Diwali, how big a festival it is, and how many people are involved, etc.  My little girl starts to say her typical exclamation, but stopped and corrected herself mid-sentence, so that she said “Holy ….cow” instead.  What made that so funny was that she didn’t know that cows were considered sacred by the people in that temple.

The funny moment for my son was after they revealed the deity, and began chanting, “Hare krishna, Hare rama”, and so on.  An hour and twenty minutes into the increasingly frenzied mantra, my then 12 year-old son asked, “How long is this song?”

Later on, we’re in a thrift store somewhere, and they happened to be selling incense by the registers.  I pointed out to my kids the blue-hued figure on the package, and was overheard by the next person in the checkout line.  I then found myself having to explain to a typical Texas resident who and what Krishna is -according to hundreds of millions of devotees to the oldest religion on earth.  Once the other person I line realized I was talking about a non-Christian religion, she dismissed it without consideration on the excuse that, “If ain’t from Jesus, it’s of the devil”.

Now I’ve always preferred eastern religions to Abrahamic theism, especially the artwork.  A decade or so ago, -when I looked a lot better than I do now- I had planned to dress up for Halloween right along with my kids, and I was going to be Lord Rama.  I could still have pulled that off back then, but a month before Halloween 2001, I realized that dressing like a djinn in Texas was no longer a good idea.  ‘Murricans cain’t tell one o’ dem dam foreign cults from any other.  Whether they’re Bahá’í, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Hindus, or Jains, doesn’t matter; all the religions of central Asian origin are all just towel-heads of the same cloth so far as Joe-Bob is concerned.  Many times throughout my youth, whenever someone mentioned any middle-eastern country, I would hear some red-neck recite his pavlovian catch-phrase, “Nuke ‘em, we outta turn the whole son-of-a-bitchin’ place into a damn glass bowl”.  This is the sentiment I heard repeated most often whenever that topic came up.

But it turns out that level of insular ignorance isn’t restricted to the south.  Last summer we had some white-supremest shooting up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.  There are too many levels of stupid to wade through to figure out what he thought a Sikh was, or why he hated them, and he’s dead now, so we’ll never know.  But now we have someone else just as bad.  Some woman in a New York City subway deliberately shoved an Indian Hindu Sunando Sen, in front of an on-coming train, killing him.  Why?  Upon arrest, she explained that she hates HIndus and Muslims because of what they did to the twin towers on 9/11.

Let’s forget for the moment the generalizations about what the Muslim religion as a whole had to do with September 11th.  How did anyone ever get the idea that Hinduism had anything to do with that whatsoever?  And how is it that no one in this country can tell a Muslim or a Hindu apart from a Sikh?  How do these people justify their own senseless stupidity?  It pains me that our paranoid reactionary religiously-bigoted society produces people of such stark hatred and bewildering inanity.

If only more schools could display more nativity scenes and menorahs…

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character.  In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned.   My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

State Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston filed a bill in the Texas legislature that is expected to receive bipartisan support to help religious-minded teachers and schools use holiday greetings like “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” and to “display Christmas trees, Nativity scenes, menorahs and other cultural icons of winter celebrations”.

 

Not a menorah to be found in the Texas Legislature fancy that.

Not a menorah to be found on the Texas House floor. Fancy that!

So technically a Wiccan teacher, could erect a Yule tree (Christmas tree), a straw Yule goat, and eat a Yule Boar (Christmas ham) in honor of the Solstice and the pagan god Odin.  Ironically if there were such a teacher, that person would most likely not do any of those things knowing that it would offend the religious majority of their parents.

My teacher said we made this to placate the harvest god Freyr.

My teacher said we made this to placate the harvest god Freyr.

This ham tastes remarkably pagan.

This ham tastes remarkably pagan.

Sort of the way, Bohac was offended when his son came home telling him that the teacher has erected a holiday tree with holiday ornaments.

“After inquiring with school officials as to why the term ‘Holiday Tree’ was being used, it became apparent that the school was fearful of litigation,” Bohac said. “It was that moment that inspired me to file legislation that would provide students, parents, teachers and administrators a safe harbor for openly celebrating a Federal holiday.”

One has to wonder how offended he would have been if his son’s teacher was a pagan, and they honored Odin during Yule.  Aside from nativity scenes there isn’t one popular Christmas ritual that doesn’t have a pagan origin.

Putting a symbol of fertility on an evergreen tree.  It's pagan!

Putting a symbol of fertility on an evergreen tree. It’s pagan!

Deck the halls with the pagan symbol of the Holly King.  So very pagan!

Deck the halls with the pagan symbol of the Holly King. So very pagan!

I’m sure some of the pagans were a bit miffed too about having their Thor’s Oak replaced by the tradition of a Christmas tree. It’s also curious how Christians erect Christmas trees, given that Jeremiah 10:1-10 expressly forbids this particular pagan practice.  A Christian legend was concocted which attributed the demise of the pagan tree to St. Boniface, an eighth century missionary to Germany.  After just one chop of his holy axe, a mighty wind blew down Thor’s tree. The credulous pagans were impressed and amazed and thereafter they celebrated Christmas, or so the story goes.

Watch where you swing that axe! Now look what you did!

Watch where you swing that axe! Now look what you did! There ought to be a law.

If only they could have filed legislation to protect their cherished religious beliefs from succumbing to the popularity of a new belief. They didn’t really have a say back then because religion was dictated by the state.  Which in a roundabout way is exactly what Bohac is doing with his bill.

Yes he leaves it up to teachers and schools to choose which religious tradition to follow.  Realistically in a majority Christian country, I’m betting on more mangers than menorahs.  The few brave souls celebrating different traditions can either try to buck the majority or just give up and say “Merry Christmas!”

So again Jesus’s birth will be celebrated boldly in Texas public schools funded by taxpayers of different faiths or no faith. The people with the dominant religious belief will determine what holiday is celebrated. The Christian ruling class will be able to promote their religious beliefs and drown out different religious beliefs.  The Jewish students in my classroom, who talked about their traditions when we were reading A Christmas Carol from a secular perspective, will be de facto second class citizens.

Except in a neighborhood where a minority religion like Islam is the most popular.  Imagine the Christian outrage then. Imagine it when they no longer have the numbers to be the ruling class.  Their best hope in that scenario is that the next religious ruling class  keeps their religious beliefs out of government.

 

*Update.  I posted a link to the post to Rep. Dwayne Bohac’s Facebook page.  Let’s see if he will address the criticism of what he calls “The Merry Christmas Bill”.  Maybe he could at least put Happy Hanukkah in parenthesis next to the name of his bill right?  Just to show this isn’t about promoting Christianity over all other religious traditions of his constituents.

If you like go on over there and give your opinion. My opinion: civil and articulate opinions will accomplish the most.

Fukkenuckabee

Seriously this is why I am so disgusted by the Religious Right.  They exploit the emotions of those most in need, and offer a bald-faced fantasy whenever reality is  grievous enough to grant their advantage.

How dare Huckabee say that school is where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, responsibility, or accountability.  I do want to talk about those things -where religion does not.  Why?  Because religion offers a way to deny accountability for anything.  Reverse the burden of proof.  Assert as fact that which is not evidently true.  Don’t have a basis for any claim; assume your conclusions on the veracity of your own conviction unsupported by anything, or on citation of any false-authority who’s comments you can present as though they agree with you.  Announce in advance that you will never admit when you’re wrong; that you will continue to defend your biased preconceptions to the automatic rejection –without consideration- of any evidence or arguments that will ever arise to the contrary.  This is what every creationist organization says in their ‘statement of faith’.  Look them up.  This is where they openly admit that they have no accountability.

Neither do they have any responsibility, largely because they externalize blame.  Even if the devil didn’t make them do it, they can still get forgiven for whatever they’ve done simply by pleading with an imaginary friend, who –not surprisingly- always agrees with them.  If they continue to do deplorable things, their god will either forgive them for it –indefinitely- or their god will actually condone and endorse that behavior.  If it’s something really evil, their god might even command that they do it.  Wherever justification need come from, they will find it.  They don’t have any responsibility for the same reason they have no accountability; it doesn’t matter if they’re wrong or how wrong they are.  Facts don’t matter.  Evidence doesn’t matter.  Ignorance is bliss, might makes right, and the ends justifies the means.  If we destroy the environment and leave our heirs without resources, that doesn’t matter either, because these are the “last days”, the “end times”.  So we don’t have to be responsible or accountable for anything.  We can even feign innocence overriding the judge’s conviction on the excuse that we are “soaked in the blood” (like Bobby Brown did) –as if that were ever an excuse for anything.

Now let’s talk about existence.  Any eternity would eventually become a nightmare from which there can be no escape.  That’s especially true in this case, where the god in question is so similar to little Anthony Freemont from the Twilight Zone.

I’m wishing you into the cornfield!

I mean it; the Bible-god of western monotheism is just like that horrible kid.  Who would want to be trapped in a house with an indomitable telepathic despot and have to guard your thoughts –or be voluntarily mindless- and endure that existence forever and ever?

Religion doesn’t want to talk about life either.  They hate practically everything that goes on in life.  They want to talk about death and pretend that THAT is life.  And those of us who know life, live life, and love life, they accuse of being dead already.  Every aspect of their world-view is upside-down or backwards -as DogmaDebate brilliantly illustrated.

What these religionists preach actually diminishes the very meaning of life.  Humans tend to value most that which is rare and fleeting.  Such is life.  The more you have of anything, the less valuable it is.  They’re claiming immortality for eternity, rendering the value of life infinitely worthless.

They sell their imaginary after-life as if it is sooo much better than this period of discomfort we have to endure before we achieve paradise.  Having to toil in this fallen, sin-corrupted, dead-and-damned world.  They hate existence itself so much that they actually long for the end-of-days, and only seem to get happy when they think Armageddon is upon us.

If what we can honestly claim to know is limited only to what we can show –which it logically should be, then we would LOVE to talk about all this stuff in schools, to present to our students the best case of both sides equally, because there is no equality here.  We own the facts.  If truth is defined by what can be shown to be true, then religion has no truth in it, because all the evidence is on our side, and all the frauds, fakirs, and faith-healers belong to them.

But we don’t do that.  We don’t because a position that is based on the scientific analysis of evidence is quite the opposite of religion, and our constitution prohibits state-funded institutions from enforcing religious beliefs.  That would be a violation of BOTH clauses of the 1st Amendment.  Insuring equal rights and accurate fact-based education is not the same thing as ‘removing God from schools’.  If God existed, it wouldn’t need to thrust upon under-developed minds as an imposition of faith -even if it is the favorite faith of this area at the moment.  We are not a democracy, where majority rules; we are a republic, where even the majority must bow before the law.  We only have freedom of religion because the state is forbidden to indoctrinate the children of families who do not share the beliefs of whoever happens to be in power at the time.  When Islam takes over, then Christian extremists will wish that they did more to preserve the separation of church and state.

So this Huckster says that tragedies happen because we don’t impose theocracy onto sequestered students.  As if his belief system had any relationship at all with morality.  Hasn’t he read the Bible?  There’s no hint of morality to be found in any of the psychotic ravings of those anachronistic provincial sexist, racist, superstitious savages pretending to speak for God. The Bible god isn’t to be found in community consolation.  That god was always the one commanding the self-righteous bloodshed.

Then Hucky says his god will judge us, but even if that could be true, HIS god (the Bible’s god) never cared whether we were good or bad; all that matters is whether we were obedient and subservient enough to believe impossible nonsense for no good reason and without question.  Wisdom and inquiry are treated as damnable sins while gullibility is the only criteria for redemption.  Huckabee said it himself; if we don’t believe that, we won’t fear it.  This is a veiled admission that whether we believe it matters more to him than whether it is actually true.  That’s why all may be forgiven if you but believe, but you will never be forgiven if you don’t believe.

Worst of all, Huckabee thinks that bad things happen because we teach our students evident truths instead of lying to them with tabloid sensationalist pseudoscience that any reasonable person can prove to be wrong –conclusively- beyond all reasonable doubt.

No Mr Huckabee, history –and criminal statistics- have both shown that tragedies will only increase, the more religious any society becomes.  The more influence religion has over law, the lower our quality of life, and the more human rights are violated.  It is true that any population of hundreds of millions will produce a proportionate percentage of sociopaths.  But what we need there is more efficient provisions of mental health care –so that those suffering dementia and other disorders will be identified, treated, or isolated as need be –BEFORE they go berserk.  Religion doesn’t want that either –as a matter of self-preservation.  Because a fair amount of divine revelation can be cured with the same medications that treats schizophrenia.  Where would the churches be if that many of their clergymen were clothed in straight-jackets?

I know Fox News and affiliated hate groups have herds of reactionary sheep bleating similar mantras, but I mean, wow.  What an immoral irresponsible irrational reprehensible unaccountable disrespectful dishonest opportunist this fukenuckabee is.

Post-Apocolyptic Atheist Christmas Special

Apparently I agreed to do another charity this weekend.  I really need to keep a marker and a calendar next to each other.

I’ll be joining this Rad Romanian to promote American Atheists this Saturday, December 22nd, immediately following the previously scheduled end of days.

On that note, I would also like to point out that I am #88,062 in the Atheist Census.

At this moment, atheists dominate humanists, agnostics, freethinkers, rationalists, secularists and all those other squishy sub-categories who are still squirming at the ‘A’ label. If you’re not convinced that any actual deity really exists, then you’re an atheist.  It’s that easy.  My demographic is 65%.

73.6% of respondents are male
59.6% college students
35.6% non-Catholic Christians
and 8.8% in my age group of creepy old bastiches.

There are tens of thousands more replies coming from the US than anywhere else, so c’mon all you limeys and kiwis and assorted foreigners.  Hey, we got 1,511 atheists in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Way to go, guys!

Air

My name is not Aaron; it’s Aron.  It’s not pronounced like ‘errand’ but more like ‘aren’t’.  If you take out the ‘o’, and read it as ‘Arn’, you’ll probably say it right.  Although it’s better if you read it like the initials, R.N.  It isn’t the same as the Yiddish name; it’s Scandinavian.  I think it’s a convergent derivation of Arndt or something like that.  I have to explain my name most every day, so I may as well start there.

My sur name is no terrible secret, but it isn’t my preference either.  When I signed up for the Usenet group, Talk.Origins, I needed a handle and quickly decided on Aron-Ra.  Why?  I wanted to give a nod to Amen-Ra, also known as Amun-Ra, whom I see as a template for the modern concept of Yahweh, (YHWH) the god of Abraham, and of western monotheism.

The archaeology of pre-Judean polytheism shows that Yahweh (YHWH) was originally part of a Semitic pantheon descended from the father god, El.  Once upon a time, some 2800 years ago, he was even depicted as having a wife, Asherah, although that may have been part of his union with El.  El’s consort, Athirat may have become Asherah, just as El and YHWH were merged together into Yahweh/El, whom the Muslims call ‘Allah’ (the god) and Christians call ‘Abba’ (the father).  Composite gods were once fairly common.  For example, the trinitarian concept of Jesus shares an identity with El/Allah/Abba/Yahweh.

At one time, all the gods were either magically-endowed mortals, (like the 6th divine generation from Enuma Elish) or they were anthropomorphized elementals, like the river, Apsu plunging into his lover, Tiamat, spirit/goddess of the ocean.  Amun was both at different times.  Just like with YHWH, as the deity grew more powerful in the eyes of devotees, the wife became something of an encumbrance restraining the elemental aspect in human form.  Eventually the wives of both gods were discarded, and the deities followed parallel paths, even though YHWH was more typically depicted as a volcano-god.  Amen was a Thebian air-god.  In his full elemental state, he became invisible, which meant he could be anywhere, which meant he may as well be everywhere.

We feel the breeze move against our bodies all the time.  Since no one yet understood that air was made of chemical particles, but everyone knew you would die if you couldn’t breath, then it was believed that the movement of the air was somehow spiritual.  YHWH was granted this aspect as well, so that when Genesis 1:2 says that only “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”, they’re talking about the wind.

The pharoah Amenhotep is commonly credited with having created the first truly monotheistic religion.  He did it with a composite of two gods, like Yahweh-El.  Amenhotep combined Amen the air-god with Ra, god of the sun-disk, Aten.  Thus he made Amen-Ra, something that was always looking down on us and who had a spirit which touched us everywhere in the world.  Then Amenhotep changed his own name to Akenaten.  His god could be seen and felt.  What other deity could compete with his?

There are so many parallels between different gods and heroes, it is obvious that the myth-makers borrowed powers and adventures from elder lore.  It seems that the Hebrew people also exaggerated however necessary to make their god bigger and badder than everyone else’s: “Oh yeah?  Well MY god can do anything he wants; if he commands a thing to be, he will speak it into being; it will manifest out of nothing.”  Something like that.

Desert deities and demons were often depicted like djinni, (genie).  Early Islamic literature depicts the djinn as devious air-elementals.  They weren’t usually confined to bottles or lamps, but were more often described as free-roaming nomadic spirits.  That’s why wandering whirlwinds are called ‘dust-devils’.  There are also strong similarities between the medieval vision of the djinni and our impressions of God.  Remember how Elijah was taken up to Heaven?  In a whirlwind.

Such a transition was easy for YHWH, because his name always worked perfectly for an air-god.  We supposedly say his name whenever we breath through our mouths.  Since the earliest creation myths, the gods would ‘breath the breath of life’ into their clay golems to animate them, and that too is an apparent precedent to Genesis 2.  Throughout the time when the Bible was being composed, it’s authors commonly believed that the first breath of a child was the moment when it’s body became infused with the spirit, becoming a living being.  And of course the flood in Genesis 6 was meant to drown everything that had “the breath of life”.  In fact the single wisest comment I could find in the entirety of the Bible again shows –better than any other passage- how our notions of spirituality actually stem from a misunderstanding of the natural aspects of air.

 I said to myself concerning the sons of men, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but beasts.”  For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.  All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.  Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?  I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?

-Ecclesiastes 3:18-22

This is according to the New American Standard Bible.  The New Revised Standard Version, the American Standard Version, and the King James Version all replace the word, ‘breath’ with ‘spirit’.  This translation eloquently illustrates the gaseous origin of man’s belief in his own soul.

As for the impetus to change YHWH’s image from the terrifying volcano-god in Exodus to that of a relatively subtle air-god, a likely scenario (I think) was illustrated in an old Arnold Swartzenegger movie.  Conan the barbarian argues that his god is strong, strong on his mountain.  But his companion, who worships the four winds, says his own god is greater.  “He is the everlasting sky.  Your god lives underneath him.”  

Fake Morgan Freeman quote may have a few points about the Newtown school shootings

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character.  In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned.   My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

Some anonymous internet jerk posted a picture of Morgan Freeman with a quote from someone else about the cause of the Newtown school shootings.  There is a running joke that anything attributed to Morgan Freeman sounds true. This is the picture along with the quote. (picture caption mine)

"Cheese doodles are nutritious!" sayeth Morgan Freeman.  Hypothesis about Freeman's truthiness has been falsified.

“Cheese doodles are nutritious!” sayeth Morgan Freeman. Hypothesis about Freeman’s truthiness has been falsified.

“You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why. It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single *victim* of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations, sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem. You can help by turning off the news.”

Even though it is in extreme poor taste to make and edit this quote about a mass shooting and attribute it jokingly to Morgan Freeman, the quote itself may have something to say about the cause of the shootings. I don’t agree with the entire quote, it has a few good points about some of the possible causes.

The usual suspects have begun their speculation about how God could have stopped the tragedy, but he didn’t because the god they describe is spiteful.  Apparently, he never forgets a slight. The accusatory fingers are already flying pointing to secularism from the usual god-bots. Bryan Fischer is quite the fount of religious nonsense. (Don’t click on the link.  Save yourself a headache and your keyboard too.)

Fischer said that God could have protected the victims of this massacre, but didn’t because “God is not going to go where he is not wanted” and so if school administrators really want to protect students, they will start every school day with prayer:

The Friendly Atheist already did a takedown of this garbage.

Since Columbine, there have been dozens of mass shootings in America.  For all the talk that God was kicked out of our schools and that God won’t go where he’s not wanted, it seems appropriate to mention that several of the shootings occurred at religious schools or places of worship

There have been more rational posts about the possible causes too. Like this one at Pharyngula discussing more rational gun laws or this one at Ashley Miller’s blog by Kate Donovan about tying the shootings to assumptions about mental illness. If it hasn’t been said already, I’m a little tired of the speculation about quietness or social awkwardness as some sort of explanation of what would cause something like this. My teenage son is probably tired of hearing about violence in video games triggering this behavior as well. I don’t think you are going to find a simple or single cause to mass shootings or a single or simple solution to them either.

Despite the stereotyping and wild speculation that always happens after a shocking event like this, a rational discussion on what causes these things is long overdue.  If we could identify some of the causes, we could start making sure these tragedies never happen again. Even stopping a few of them would be worth it.  Of course Greta Christina put it better…

But when terrible tragedies happen, we use our grief, and our rage, and our shock, to drive us to action.

That is not the worst of us. It is the best.

On that note, I like every other reasonable and rational person don’t ever want to see another innocent person’s life wasted, so I would like to contribute something to the discussion. Like the quote misattributed to Morgan Freeman says, the mainstream media like Fox News plastered the killer’s face on their channel for hours. Mass murderers achieve infamy with brutally violent acts.  You can’t really rely on individual media outlets to police themselves, and not sensationalize the killer. Ratings are what keep them in business.  So yes, people need to show their disapproval of media profiteering that goes beyond journalism by writing letters, emails, blogs. Perhaps, there needs to be a law that the media cannot show any identifying information, pictures, or videos about mass murderers. If it could prevent just one of these tragedies it would be worth it. They can leave out a few of the gory details, and still tell the story.

We don’t need to see the face or know the name of the murderer in order to discuss the story. When will we have enough of the fascination with the identity of mass shooters? Chronicling their stories is ghoulish. Of course, I would much rather instead see more stories about the victims, survivors, and heroes than a glassy-eyed wannabe villain. Stop feeding the real trolls.

‘Merica Christmas

Check out my homepage here.

I know that whenever American Christians bitch about their imagined war on Christmas, they’re really either trying to push their beliefs onto others, or they’re trying force theocratic violations of the 1st amendment.  I have no problem with cultural holidays.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorites.  Obviously I’m not giving thanks to any imaginary being who magically orchestrates our reality behind-the-scenes.  Rather I like to remind my kids to appreciate what they’ve got while they’ve got it, and to think about how things would be if we lived …over there, or what if we lived …back then.  How would our lives be different?  You certainly wouldn’t have it as good as you do right now, eh kids?  I doubt they really get it, but it’s worth the effort.

If I lived in India, I would likely celebrate Diwali.  When I was a kid, we used to celebrate May Day.  That was a Russian holiday, and it was during the cold war!  We weren’t about promoting other ideologies; it was just about a cultural exchange.  I have also attended a few pagan ceremonies and found them quite charming too.  Observing some ritual traditions can be fun, and I have fun with it.

I also have a slightly different interpretation of Santa Claus, and I would like to share that at this time.

The music is the Overture from Pigdom Come by Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel.

The narration, illustrations, and animation are mine.

Lookie there, I’m in the newspaper

For photos and more links about Aron Ra, click here.

There was at least one reporter at the Texas Freethought Convention.  I didn’t talk to her much.  She was in one of the pubs on Austin’s 6th St chatting it up with Darryl Ray, Zachary Moore, and the like.   So when a photographer showed up last week saying he needed portraits for that story Anna was doing, I had to say, “OK, remind me, who’s Anna?”

I just wanna make a couple corrections to her comments -purely out of my own vanity.  (1) I have 12,000 more subscribers than the article says I do.

(2) I don’t look like a roadie for a terrifying metal band; I look like the band.  It’s my bros who look like roadies.  Well, most of them anyway.   ;-)

(3) My bolo tie isn’t a scarab beetle; it’s a trilobite.  My necklace (above) is a trilobite too, but I find that takes too long to explain to most people.

Being a closeted atheist can still cost you –so I am coming out.

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

About 7 years ago, in West Texas, the childhood home of G.W. Bush, I realized I didn’t believe in any god.  Even though I later married Aron Ra, a loud, proud and publicly known atheist, I have kept my atheism out of the public arena of ideas.  Six years ago, I learned that even posting an obvious joke anonymously online about (cue the black helicopters) the Evil Atheist Conspiracy would be taken seriously by credulous people.

Atheists are not very trusted in this country, and really have public relations issues.  Add to that stereotyping and atheist bashing by the Christian Right, and you can get about any ordinary person to believe that you aren’t joking about an Evil Atheist Conspiracy, no matter how ridiculously unfounded that is.

Anyways for the past six years I’ve been cautious about it out of family concerns and concerns for my job as a teacher.  Public atheist teachers like Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, and Grappling Ignorance of of YouTube, have actually had their job targeted by irate Christian parents for being out.  Even a small minority of irate, irrational parents can cause a teacher trouble, because the majority of satisfied parents aren’t as vocal.  Add to that an un-supportive or religiously sympathetic administrator and you have  a recipe for trouble.  I’ve actually had a few students tell me during a mock election that their parents told them that if Obama was elected, he would implant microchips in everybody.  So I know that I have a few of these types of parents every year.

Realistically, there is fear mongering used in the political arena and that has included mistrust of atheists also. The last thing you want is your co-workers, whose support you need, mistrusting or ostracizing you.  So I’ve sat there silently, stunned in large teacher gatherings paid for by taxpayers as the speaker felt it was his time to talk about the importance of his god beliefs. He got applauded by most everyone there for saying he didn’t care what anyone thought he was going to say, he was going to say it. Sure, it was irrelevant to the topic of increasing test scores, but what about the Constitution? Really, I don’t want these types of displays to result in the loss of someone’s job; I would just like them to stop using their authority as a pulpit to a captive audience. However, if you put the shoe on the other foot, cue the pitchforks and torches even on the suspicion you are an atheist.

To be clear, I am not offended if a Christian worker in a personal, social interaction offers to pray for me out of genuine concern, or says something in the context of their own culture.  But frankly, if you are sitting at a table, and your co-workers start bowing their heads to pray and you start eating it becomes an unintentional unmasking.  Never mind the prohibitions in the Bible about praying in public.  I don’t think most Christians understand that Jesus found public praying to be hypocritical.

Unfortunately, I’ve run across a few Christians, who are not well-intentioned nor innocently misguided in displaying their religious beliefs.  Discussing god at work is putting their feelers out to test your beliefs.  On telling one such person that my religious beliefs are private, that person kept pressing me that I could tell them.  There is really no way around a persistent Christian that would resolve the matter without triggering their belief that they are being persecuted. Additionally if you are outnumbered or unsupported in the situation, you risk ostracism or harassment by complaining.

The more vocal Christians are at work the more it may as well be marking their territory whether they intend to or not.  I don’t know how alone I am in this but I am at the point that I may as well be out, because remaining silent makes you a default atheist.  Top that off with a few untrustworthy family members who reveal private information, and for all intents and purposes you are out everywhere it really matters to be private. Especially if you have posted something even anonymously online. I came to the realization that it didn’t matter anymore if I kept my identity private outside of atheist communities.

So if I am outed, I may as well be judged for what I have actually said rather than stereotypes, and be a public atheist.  The first post I did here this summer at Aron’s blog felt like a relief after keeping silent for six years. Since then, I’ve decided this week to starting with posting my picture with my blogs and appearance on last Sunday’s “ target=”_blank”>Magic Sandwich Show”.

In the past, in a video with Aron about the imagined War on Christmas, I actually tried to stay off camera. Someone I know personally once took offense to Aron comparing Moses to Osama bin Laden, and thought negatively about me for it when they saw it.  Moses, the guy who ordered men, women, children, cattle to be slaughtered, and the virgins to be kept as war trophies.  That is the way it works though.  You are the one being offensive for pointing that out; not that they are the ones who believe in a book full of atrocities.

My posts here have been well received, and Freethoughtblogs has been a supportive environment to express my opinions on things that matter to me and to other freethinkers. I can’t tell other closeted atheists what is right in their situation.  This is a good article by Dave Silverman, about deciding to come out of the atheist closet.  What I can say for sure is that for every atheist that comes out, an angel is definitely not getting its wings.  No seriously, the more atheists will be seen for what we really are -the good people, your neighbors, friends, family members, teachers, and coworkers.

It’s a kind of atheist dream to look forward to a society where atheism is not controversial or stigmatizing.  What about an atheist president?  What would it take for Obama to come out of the atheist closet? At least I never talked the god talk as an atheist to get along.  I’ve taken a break from teaching to address my family’s needs. However, if I were in the situation of someone sharing their beliefs innocently or no in the future, I would have to politely share that I am an atheist, and I don’t have religious beliefs, and ask them to please pass the salt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Zombie Christ

If you live in the Dallas area, and you like independent films,

We’re talking low-budget ‘B’ movies here.  Well, lower than ‘B’.

If you actually enjoyed the movies on MST3K…

if you like movies that are so bad that they wouldn’t even be on MST3K,

nor Rotten Tomatoes either…

if you were able to sit through Pink Flamingos all the way to the end….

if you liked kung fu movies back in the 1970s,

and you’re an anti-theist who loves Zombie pictures…

if you find that type of film as much fun to watch as I do, then check this flick out.

I promised the producers I’d promote it, and not just because my son and I are in it.  He’s in the credits as Zombie #26.  I’m just a random biker.  I’m an extra.  I think I’m also the most famous person in this movie.  How funny is that?  I know at least a half-dozen filmmakers and movie producers, yet THIS is the only movie I’m in, and I’m only an extra.  Oh well.

Anyway it premiers tomorrow night in a nice venue, and we’re hoping  for a decent after-party.   Showtime is at 7:00pm.   I have to tell you that because the theater will not advertise that they’re even playing this film. Why not?

If you’re not local, or you only enjoy “quality” cinema, then please disregard this notice.  :-D