O Hai, Sun!

The sun’s up! When did that happen?

Well we did it – the last post of the Biodork Blogathon! And I do mean we. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without you, and your encouragement kept me going through the slow parts.

I’ll see you again on Monday. Now it’s bed time.

This is post 49 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. You can still donate to the SSA by supporting other blogathoners, art contributors, personal fundraising pages or through a direct donation to the SSA! SSA Week lasts through June 17th. Spread the word! 

Why I’m Still Here

I got to see Lyz Liddell’s talk “The Unstoppable Secular Students” during the Midwest Freethought Festival this April in Madison, Wisconsin.

Lyz stressed that there are many challenges that secular students face. It’s not just the headline-grabbing resistance from administrators that students face when they try organize themselves. Secular students face stigmas attached to non-theists from students and teachers, they have limited resources, limited mobility. Secular student groups face issues of geographic isolation and high member turnover as students graduate.

The SSA works with students so that they can recognize these issues and plan for them. Over the last several years there has been a growing demand for SSA Services such as speaker events, requests for tabling supplies and group starting packets.

SSA groups are hosting high-quality regional events and conferences featuring well-known speakers. They’re leading interfaith dialogues. They’re performing and participating in service projects. They’re creating national programs like the Secular Segment, We Are Atheism and Ask An Atheist Day. They are defending the separation of church and state.

The SSA exists at the college and high school levels, and is looking at middle school, elementary school and perhaps one day homeschools. The SSA is making a positive difference in young atheists’ lives. That’s a pretty awesome reason to stay up all day and all night pleading, writing, entertaining and heckling for your contributions. It’s been my privilege and honor. And whether you’re just stopping by now, or whether you’ve been checking in throughout the 24 hours, thanks for being here with me.

This is post 48 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

Aaron’s Story

Aaron donated $20 to SSA and requested that I tell a story about him using the five following words: Fabulous, Regular, Apples, Cookies, Grin

Thanks for the challenge, Aaron! Here’s your story.

***************

In a future far distant from our own, after human civilization had risen and evolved and fallen and adapted and risen again, an elder warrior by the name of Aaron looked after a handful of pollen-collecting instruments. The instruments were worn, but well cared for. It was Aaron’s duty to collect the pollen of the Apples that grew in the Taker’s garden. Aaron had once commanded armies; now he directed the work of one half-man who had lost a leg in a pointless drunken brawl, and who grinned whenever the stern gaze of the Taker’s guards were turned away from him.

Aaron was still tolerated in the Taker’s garden because his ciders were fabulous. Not many things were able to be made of Apples any more, but the sacred Cookies and Cider…well, they would always find a way to produce those. They must.

And then one day, one regular day that had started out like a hundred days before this one, Aaron found a worm in an Apple. He gasped, and then quickly looked around to make sure the Taker’s guards hadn’t heard. He cursed his lack of self-control. There were stories, of course, and he always knew that one day they might find a worm. But for it to happen here, to happen now…

Everything was going to change.

***************

This is post 47 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

Twiddles fingers.

I spent 10 of my last 30 minutes trying to make my laptop camera do what I want it to do. I think I’ll need an external mic to get a decent volume on recorded videos. Blarg.

I spent another 10 minutes arguing with myself about whether to try to do a thoughtful post, or to just reblog something else again.

I spent five minutes checking Twitter and Facebook and responding to a couple of comments (I can’t believe you guys are awake and here *sniff* I’m so happy)

And I spent five minutes writing this.

My how the time simultaneously crawls and flies.

Here’s a kitteh. On a computar.

I’m going to write my second Reader Donor Challenge next. More substantial post at 5am CST. Heathen’s Honor.

This is post 46 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

Atheist Pig to the Rescue!

I love Atheist Pig. I’m not just looking at Atheist Pig and saying I love it. I LOVE Atheist Pig. If you don’t read The Atheist Pig ALL THE TIME then you are missing out, at least some of the time.

Please … if you’re awake out there (it’s 4am CST) … please give some money to the SSA. The Biodork Blogathon fundraiser is almost over and I want us to raise BIG $$$ for this much-needed student support organization.

This is post 45 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

Minnesota Atheists at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally

On Friday a group of Minnesota Atheists gathered at the Federal Courthouse to counter-protest the ineptly named Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s run by pro-life groups who want get the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) repealed. Simple as that. No fancy wording needed. They’re calling it the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally”, but what they should really call it is the “We Demand That You Let Us Impose Our Religious Views on You” Rally.

Here’s part of why the MN Atheists were there. From our meetup.com announcement for the event:

This rally is to support the First Amendment and the restrictions placed on our government from using religious dogma as a basis for any U.S. law, including religious exemptions to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The First Amendment is currently under attack by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and other conservative religious groups that are seeking to redefine the concept of religious liberty to guarantee them religious privilege and freedom from accountability.

Religious freedom does not include the right to interfere with the rights of others.  Religious institutions have the right to participate in our society on the same basis as all other institutions. They do not have the right to dictate the rules in which they get to participate.

To reinterpret the First Amendment to grant privileges and exemptions to large religious institutions would mean the depriving of the exercise of personal religious conscience by individuals who do not share the religious dogmas of those institutions but who nonetheless are employed by or use the services provided by those institutions.

I was able to chat about the event with Chris Pederson via Facebook today. She gave me permission to use some of her photos here on the blog.

Chris said that most protesters were wearing buttons for the MN Catholic anti-gay marriage group and that they were also using the opportunity to passing out stickers in support of the voter ID laws.

She reported that the mood was very confrontational and that her interactions – mostly with men - were hostile. One older woman tried to rip Chris’s sign out of her hand as she tried to join the MN Atheists group. There was a lot of talk about sex being sinful and a moral issue. To this Chris said “What an awful way to think about your body and sex.”

I wasn’t able to be at the counter-protest. Thank you to everyone who was able to be there.

This is post 44 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

 

 

Louise’s Story

I have two stories to write this evening. Morning. Whatever. This was one of the reader challenges I put out into the cosmos to raise  money for the SSA during my blogathon:

Tell me to write about YOU! Do you want me to write a story about you and how badass, sweet and mild-mannered, supervillany or just plain AWESOME you are? I’m fairly decent at writing fictional, off-the-cuff stories, and it would be my honor to make up a fictional story about you! If you donate a minimum of $10 to the SSA I will write and post your story (approx. 250-500 words) during the blogathon. In the Topic Suggestion box write “Story About Me” and (this is important) include five words that you want me to include in your story (psst – they don’t have to be words that describe you – they can be any random words you want!)

Louise sent her donation in first (and actually sparked the idea), so she’s up first! Louise’s words for me to incorporate into the story are: awesome, Indiana, FUNemployment, skepticamps, blue.

Hoo-boy. Let’s see what we can do.

Louise: Leader of the Unicorn

Louise was one of the happiest unicorns in the entire herd of Indiana Unicorns. This is not a historical story, friends. Unicorns exist to this very day, but they’re very clever and are able to escape human detection by hiding in cornfields. Bill O’Reilly saw a Unicorn once, but he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Huh. A Unicorn. You can’t explain that.” and walked away. During harvest season the Unicorns retreat to nearby woods and use their long horns to dig deep burrows into the warm earth, where they hibernate until the next season’s crops are able to hide them for another summer.

Louise was one of the most brilliant of her herd. Once a man by the name of Reed Esau had been investigating claims of Unicorn sightings near Noblesville, Indiana (and of course a very large herd of Unicorn live there. From where do you think the town derived its name?). Louise decided that the only way to get Reed off the trail would be to distract him with another idea. One night Reed was camping out near the Nobleville cornfields. Louise quietly approached the sleeping Reed and whispered “Skepticamp”. The Unicorns never had to worry about Reed again.

Louise was also one of the prettiest of the Indiana Unicorns. She had a long, flowing blue tail and the shine of the sun off of her mane was an awesome sight.  She attracted all of the most handsome Stallions, and – she wasn’t ashamed to admit – she caught the eye of a fair number of Fillies. Louise was admired and respected by all of the herd for her leadership, her strength and her beauty.

Every year the young Unicorns of the herd were sent to the fields to work and gain experience so that they might become fruitful members of the Unicorn society. Sometimes there wasn’t enough work for all of the young Unicorns and some of them had to wait until next season to show their mettle. In order to keep their spirits up, they called this downtime FUNemployment.

Louise saw these young, frustrated Unicorns and decided that there must be a way to keep both the established members of the herd happily engaged, while at the same time giving the young Unicorns a chance to become involved. By using her wit, her diplomacy and her strict sense of honor and fairness, Louise was able to establish a system that helped everyone feel like they had found a place in the herd.

Louise led the herd for many years. Later in her life she decided to step aside and she retired to a sunny beach in the Bermuda Triangle. The Sasquatch’s nephew said it was a lovely, quiet and secluded place, and after a few gallops on the sandy shore, Louise agreed with him.

The end.

This is post 42 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.

Today: Atheists Talk

This morning at 9am CST, Scott Lohman and Carl Hancock will be interviewing Robert Price, the author of The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems on KTNF AM950. You can stream the show live or download it later on iTunes or listen to it on the Minnesota Atheists podcast page.

“The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems” Robert Price on Atheists Talk #171 Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Even among those who don’t believe that Jesus was divine, disagreement remains over whether he existed at all. On one side, there are the historicists, who believe that Jesus was a fully human preacher who founded a small cult. On the other side, there are the mythicists, who believe that the cult was formed later and Jesus was hallucinated and/or invented to support the cult.
The academic fight between the historicists and the mythicists is heating up at the moment. A number of leading scholars have released or are about to release books making their cases to the public. In his recent book The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems, Robert Price makes a case for the mythicists.

The Christ-Myth theory … “Worse Than Atheism”? New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America’s leading authorities on the Bible, has assembled in his book evidence that shows that almost the entire “biography of Jesus” is a conscious reworking of earlier literature.It is one thing to say “There are no gods” or “Jesus was not a god, just a man.” It is quite another thing to say “Jesus of Nazareth never existed at all” or that “Christ is a myth.” But scholars have been saying exactly that since at least 1793 when the Enlightenment scholar Charles Dupuis began to publish his 13-volume Origine de Tous les Cultes, ou Religion Universelle, which elucidated the astral origins not only of Christianity but of other ancient religions as well.

New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America’s leading authorities on the Bible, here summarizes much of the scholarship that has led him and a growing number of modern scholars to conclude that Christ — a partial synonym for Jesus of Nazareth — is mythical. Most usefully, Price has assembled evidence that shows that almost the entire “biography of Jesus” has been created from Greek Old Testament stories and themes and even incorporates motifs from Homer, Euripides, and perhaps Aesop. Because readers will have a hard time “taking it on faith” that the Jesus biography is merely a reworking of previous material, broad swaths of “Old Testament” context are quoted in association with each New Testament equivalent, so readers can judge for themselves whether or not Dr. Price’s claim be true: the “Live of Christ” was not fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies; it was, rather, a conscious reworking of earlier literature.

This is post 40 of 49 in the SSAweek Biodork Blogathon. Donate to the SSA today! Read more about my reader challenges here.