Matt and Tracie taking viewer calls.
No secret that Chris Johnson is one of my favorite people. So, no surprise when I agreed to be on his podcast to talk about “stuff”–a little about atheism, the show, my divorce and, why I love date nights. Episode 15, now posted for public consumption.
Topic is the Genesis story of Eden which casts human agency as villainous, and how this is reflected in some fundamentalist ideologies regarding the “sin” of asserting one’s own agency–resulting in objectification becoming normalized and even idealized. The Eden story begins the repeated theme of subjugation of one’s own agency and will to that of another–of total subjugation and, consequently, objectification (the denouncing of that which makes us human, rather than object, the will or agency).
Examples of modern agency-denigrating comments by such brands of Christian include statement such as:
“You just want to sin and not be held accountable.”
Since “sin” is not about what causes real harm, but about simply acting in a way that is antithesis to what god would have you do, this comment merely condemns the act of asserting one’s own agency as somehow wrong.
“You worship yourself” (variants may include putting yourself in the position of god in some way).
Again, this is simply asserting that you are holding your own agency as being as important as the agency of what god would have you do, or even more important. So, it boils down to denouncing the assertion of one’s own will or agency as haughty and incorrect.
“You trust your own judgment (rather than what god tells you to do).”
Clearly viewing the person as foolish and wrong for, again, the act of simply asserting one’s own agency.
Objectification of a human being (often conflated with sexualization–although I believe it’s important to differentiate between the two, as they are not synonymous) means denying their agency and treating them as a “thing” by holding their will/agency as irrelevant or less relevant than one’s own–thereby making them nonhuman or less human, and more object-like.
The Christian religion–and especially the fundamentalist branches not only downplay, but vilify agency as wicked, evil and “sinful.” And this carries out in modern conversations with regard to issues such as abortion where analogies are often used comparing women to objects in order to show cause for why a woman’s agency can be disregarded in the equation of conflict of rights between mother and unborn. Terms like “consent” are distorted and used in ways we would not use in any other context. A woman who has consented to sex is often said, by such people, to have “consented” to gestation and childbirth, whereas we don’t say that people who consent to drive have “consented” to die in a fiery car crash–and if the crash occurs we understand why the driver would attempt to escape their death, and we would help them escape by offering whatever assistance we could to avoid the negative consequences of that risk event occurring.
By subjugating human will and agency, and undermining concepts like “consent,” Christianity has created a (sub?)culture of dehumanization and objectification that considers itself morally upright compared to other cultures where respect and regard for human agency are promoted.
Today I want to share two stories that were told to me by different people about their personal experiences and conclusions they drew from those experiences. Interestingly, although they are different stories, they are, in fact, the same story.
An acquaintance of mine once told me she could tell when bad things were going to happen. She said when she was dating her current partner, they went out to dinner at a restaurant. She soon felt a sense of foreboding, and insisted they had to leave, as something bad was going to happen. And so they left.
“So, then what happened?” I asked, expecting to hear that the building collapsed that night, or several people who ate there were soon hospitalized with food poisoning, or there’d been an armed robbery on the premises an hour after they’d walked out.
“I don’t know. We just left–because I knew something bad was going to happen.”
An acquaintance of mine once told me she learned she was an empath when she was walking one day and began to feel a sudden and overwhelming onset of negative emotions for no apparent reason. She realized she had just passed a man walking in the other direction and knew that she’d picked up on his emotional angst.
“So, what was he upset about?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t actually talk to him.”
I could spend time writing about what is wrong with the reasoning here, and on what level these two stories are “the same,” but I won’t insult the reader by explaining the obvious.
I was going to write an update with information for the cruise, but our speaker, Greta Christina, already has done the heavy lifting. So, let me shamelessly grab her content and share it here! [Thank you, Greta!]
Every year, the ACA takes a cruise on a double-decker boat, ending at the Congress bridge to watch the bats emerge. Before the cruise, they have a guest speaker give a talk — and this year, it’s me! Rebecca Vitsmun will be there as well, receiving the ACA’s first inaugural Impact Atheist award. The bat cruise costs money ($30 for adults 13+, $10 for kids 5-12, $.01 for tots 0-4), but the pre-cruise talk is free and open to the public. You can do one or the other, or you can do both. If you’re in the Austin area, I hope to see you there!
CITY: Austin, TX
DATE: Saturday, September 24
TIME: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (bat cruise departs at 6:00)
TOPIC: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
SUMMARY: So you don’t believe in God. Now what? The way we deal with life can change dramatically when we stop believing in gods, souls, and afterlives. When we leave religion — or if we never had it in the first place — where do we go? How do we deal with love and sex, pleasure and death, reality and making stuff up? How do we decide on our values, and how do we live them?
LOCATION: Trinity United Methodist Church, 4001 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751
HOST: Atheist Community of Austin
COST: Free, and open to the public
https://www.facebook.com/events/646076492214347/ (bat cruise)
Viewer calls as usual, but have also invited someone to call in to promote the upcoming “Vulgarity for Charity” event. So, hope to have a discussion about that at the start of the calls. From the link:
We’re proud to announce the return of Vulgarity for Charity, running between September 15th and 25th, 2016. This time, we’re teaming up with Tom and Cecil from the Cognitive Dissonance Podcast to help raise money and awareness for a phenomenal charity that helps combat poverty by helping people keep from falling into the poverty cycle in the first place.
Modest Needs has been combating poverty in the US and Canada for almost fifteen years, and their forward thinking take on crowdfunding makes it easier and more effective than ever to help people in need. Learn more about them here.
What is Vulgarity for Charity?
It’s a biannual fundraiser where we trade insults for donations. You donate to Modest Needs, then let us know that you did, and who you’d like insulted, and Eli, Heath, Tom, Cecil, and Noah will turn their powers of vulgarity to the forces of good.
I’ve been asked to participate this year, and have agreed. I swear very often for little to no benefit, so if I can use my limited skill set in that regard to help others, why not? 😉
Russell and Tracie discuss the meaning of “prejudice” and take viewer calls.
As a reminder, dinner after the show tonight will be at Star of India located at 2900 W Anderson Lane.
Matt and Tracie take viewer calls, and might have a tongue-in-cheek discussion of “Left Behind,” since Tracie just watched it on Netflix last night. 😉