Good Reasons for Removing Abelist Language from Our Vocabulary

One of the hardest things about learning empathy is realizing we need to change. We may see nothing wrong with something we’re doing, and we know we’re good people, but all of a sudden, there’s someone (or many someones) in our face, asking us to stop using some words because they hurt. And that can be hard.

For one thing, we may not see what the problem is. Why shouldn’t we use certain common terms?

Then there’s a knee-jerk, “It’s my vocabulary, and there’s nothing wrong with it!”

There may be the temptation to downplay the whole thing. People are soooo oversensitive, amirite?

But if I’ve learned anything by hanging around the social justice crowd, it’s to shut up and listen when someone from a marginalized group tells me I’m doing something that’s hurting them. Even if I’m part of that marginalized group, I need to listen to perspectives other than my own. I’m not the center of the goddamned universe. My viewpoint is not the only valid one.

So I swallow the resentment and knee-jerk responses, and hear them out. And in many cases, I realize they have a very excellent point, and now I need to do the hard work of changing some things. [Read more…]

Dawkins Descends Further Into the Dregs

If you are part of a major atheist organization or conference, you should be asking yourself a serious question right about now: Do we want to associate our good name with a man who thinks the height of hilarity is promoting racist and sexist videos, and who is now willingly hanging with the MRAs, GamerGaters, white supremacists, and other dregs of Twitter? Do we really want to extend that big a fuck you to women and minorities?

Because honestly, at this point, willingly coupling yourself with Dawkins is basically saying you give not a shit about women, people of color, or reason itself.

But don’t take my word for it. Take Dawkins’s own tweets for it. You can find them, along with other of his assorted nonsense, in the links I have collected. And this is the mere scrape of a fingernail across the surface.

I know it’s hard to accept. It took me a long time to accept the fact that the man I admired, whom I’d braved crowds for and hung on to the every word of, is actually a tremendous jerk. I didn’t want to think that my hero was harmful. But he is. And the sooner the movement accepts that, the stronger we can make it by leaving him and his dawkbros on the sidelines.

Really, though, it’s okay if you don’t want to do that. We’re making our own secular movement right over here. I’m just saying that if you want to stay relevant, you will peruse the information herein, and decide accordingly. [Read more…]

The Winds of Change Blow Dawk Right Outta the NECSS Conference

So here’s a bit of news that gives me an iota of hope for organized atheism and skepticism:

The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.

We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.

Allow me to find a collection of gifs that properly express my reaction: [Read more…]

An Open Letter to the Center for Inquiry

Dear CFI:

I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

We’ve had a long and rocky history. On the one hand, you gave us things like the Women in Secularism conferences. On the other… let’s see, there was Ron Lindsay, and Ron Lindsay again, and Ben Radford. So let’s just say you’ve been sending mixed signals on whether you really wanted women in the movement or not.

Well, now you’ve gone and removed all doubt. [Read more…]

Updated for 2015: Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Religion Books Suitable for Gift-Giving

Ohai! It’s another midwinter holiday gift giving season, and you’ve probably got a reader or dozen on your list. Did they give you some titles? Fantastic! Gift giving shall be easy, and if you purchase through this link, you can get your gifties and support ye olde blog, too. No list? No problem! I’ve got you covered with a super-awesome, super-gargantuan guide to many books suitable for secular gifting.

Through the next couple of weeks, I’ll be updating our lists with additional titles. Here’s a wonderland of atheist books not previously listed in our Super-Gargantuan Guides!

Image shows a dark gray kitten with its back hunched, standing on a book. Caption says, "I know it's a spellbook. I'm quite familiar."

[Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus NOW AVAILABLE!

It’s here, just in time for the midwinter holidays! I read the Book of Exodus so you don’t have to, and pulled out the juicier bits. All retellings guaranteed 110% snarky.

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is now available worldwide at Amazon:

United States  ♦  Canada  ♦  Mexico  ♦  Brazil  ♦  United Kingdom  ♦  Germany  ♦  France  ♦  Spain ♦  Italy  ♦  Netherlands  ♦  India  ♦  Japan  ♦  Australia

The story of Exodus is often portrayed as a heroic rescue from slavery and an epic journey to freedom. What it’s really about is God’s neglect, followed by lots of malicious destruction meant to show the Egyptians and Israelites who’s LORD. Then there’s a bumbling escape, complete with thirst, starvation, and mass murders caused by the incompetent and sadistic God. The rest of Exodus is basically God being really picky about the clothes, accommodations, and sacrifices he expects from these poor escaped slaves. This book will give you the big pin you need for deflating Christian claims about the awesomeness of their God. And it’ll make you see Exodus in a light you may not have anticipated. Especially useful for redirecting tedious conversations about that wretched Exodus: Gods and Kings movie. Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is the perfect book for anyone who wants a look at the Good Book without any rose-tinted lenses in the way. Get your copy today!

Also available: [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 15, Part Two!

XV

God’s Extensive, Expensive Interior Décor Requirements for Homeless Refugees

(Exodus 25-27)

 

First half of Chapter 15 is here.

 

Having gotten the furniture out of the way, God starts in on curtains. He wants ten of ’em, done up in the finest linen with the most costly blue, purple, and scarlet dyes – remember, kids, those colors were hella expensive to achieve back then. He wants each curtain to have cherubim embroidered on it. And he doesn’t want a few simple drapes, no. He’s asking for enormous, heavy panels that are 28 cubits (about 42 feet) long and 4 cubits (about 6 feet) wide. Then the curtains must be joined in two sets of 5, and 50 blue loops put on the edge of each outer curtain; God’s really particular about that. Then you’ve gotta have 50 solid-gold clasps to put through the loops. (Ex. 26:1-6)

If you want to get an idea of how fun this stuff was to shlep around the desert, go to a fabric store, find the biggest bolt of upholstery fabric you can, and carry it around the store for eight hours. Then, as you lay dying, ponder the fact that you had the benefit of air conditioning, and the folks wandering the Sinai did not. [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 15, Part One!

XV

God’s Extensive, Expensive Interior Décor Requirements for Homeless Refugees

(Exodus 25-27)

 

 

The next time someone who considers Exodus to be holy writ snarks at me about gay guys being into interior decorating, I shall have to request they turn to chapters 25 thru 27 in their Holy Bible. God has put some really serious thought into how he wants his living space set up and decorated. I mean, it’s verging on the pathological. It’s not the sort of thing you’d expect the creator of the universe to get hung up on. You’d expect him to DIY if he’s that bloody picky. And even if he chooses to delegate, you’d hope he’d hire an established firm, rather than a ragtag band of freed slaves lost in the desert. But no. He’s got some particularly detailed requirements, and he expects the Israelites to fulfill them.

He starts by demanding people bring him stuff. See, the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe doesn’t know if you really really truly love him enough unless you give him lots of expensive gifts. But, y’know, only if you want to. Not like he’d withhold his favor from you if you didn’t, or anything like that.

Oh, wait. Yes he would.

Anyway, God wants stuff for the tabernacle he’s been dreaming of. Sure, he could create it himself. Don’t be ridiculous! Of course he could! He’s absolutely not imaginary at all, and he totally did make the earth, heavens, and everything else in existence in six days. This tabernacle project would take him maybe a few minutes in the morning, tops. But then it wouldn’t be special. (Ex. 25:1-2)

So he tells Moses to ask the people for their (completely voluntary!) offerings of: [Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part Two!

XIII

How to Buy Slaves (and Other Tips for Godly Living)

(Exodus 21)

(In our last edition, God gave the rules for owning slaves. In the conclusion of this chapter, we will learn how to beat them – among other things.)

But first, God would like to discuss penalties for violence.

  1. Murder always earns the death penalty – unless the poor murderer was minding his own business when, one fine day, God just up and foisted some random victim on him and was all like, “Oh, here – kill this schmuck.” In cases where God instigated the crime, the poor bastard is just to be exiled to a sanctuary city, where he can live the rest of his days away from his friends and family and familiar places, all because God was feeling like inciting a little manslaughter.
  2. Hey, kids! If you hit your mommy or your daddy, you’re gonna be put to death! Now, there’s no age limit on how old you are – the way this is written, even dear little infant babbies could be executed. No, there’s no, “But it was an accident!” defense. No, there’s no forgiveness for children whose brains haven’t developed fine motor control yet. No, there’s no “self-defense!” defense either. If you hit Mom or Dad at any time, for any reason, it’s execution for you, little tyke.

[Read more…]

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part One!

XIII

How to Buy Slaves (and Other Tips for Godly Living)

(Exodus 21)

 

 

 

Having given Moses the rough draft of the Ten Commandments, God proceeds to lay down the moral law.

Now, Christians tell me a lot about how perfect God is. Even the ones who aren’t Real True Christians™, and believe in hippie socialist Jesus rather than Legalistic Uptight Asshole Jesus, wax lyrical about how good God is. Many Christians tell me that the Bible is God’s timeless Word, which established a perfect moral law, even though some of the bits were just for those uncouth tribal dudes and needn’t trouble us today. None of them seem to agree on which of those laws God tossed, as God never specified in the text (although quite a few seem to just adore those bits of Leviticus that bash gay people, and the verses in Proverbs that encourage them to beat children).

When it’s pointed out that the Good Book contains some really bad laws, Christians get kind of blustery and stammery and insist that those laws were the best God could do at the time. The people were rebellious, they say, and primitive, and prone to sin: they would’ve refused to follow laws that were too advanced1.

To which I call: shenanigans.

If God is as powerful and wise as claimed, he should have had no problem laying down superb, compassionate, and flawless moral laws, and enforcing them. If god was trying to ease people in, he could have said right then (cuz he knows the future), “These are the laws for now. I’ll have better ones once you lot are more civilized.”

I want you to pay close attention to this chapter, dear Christians, and tell me how these laws are perfect, or where in this chapter God said they were temporary and would not be applicable to future generations.

God jumps right into the deep and stinky, starting off with slavery. He’s completely for it. He just wants to establish a few regulations:

  1. You can have a Hebrew as a slave for up to six full years. But you’ve gotta set him loose, debt-free, in the seventh year.
  2. Return your slave to freedom in the same marital condition in which you found him. If he was single, he goes alone. If he had a wife, she goes with him, free of charge.
  3. God, as we know, is all for strong nuclear families2. But not for slaves! No, if you, kind master, gave your slave a wife, and he sexed her up, and they had sweet children together, your male slave gets his ass set free alone in Year 7. Wifey and the children extra slaves they made are yours to keep.
  4. If the slave you just so generously (were ordered to) set free is all like, “But I love my wife and kids! I can’t leave ’em!” then congratulations! You may now take him to your doorpost, drill a hole in his ear, and keep his ass enslaved forever. (Ex. 21:1-6)

There is not one sentence in these verses that says, “But verily I say unto you, slavery is horrible, and you’d better enjoy it while it lasts, cuz I’m gonna abolish and forbid it in a few generations when y’all are more enlightened.” God speaks not one word against the practice.

Image is a woodcut showing an Egyptian overseer menacing a brick-laden Hebrew with a stick. A woman clutches her head in the background. There is a slumped man to the right, a woman carrying a water jar on her head in the middle background, and an Egyptian taking a baby from a woman in the background.

The Egyptians Afflicted the Israelites (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster). Public domain image and caption via Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe he’ll get to it whilst he’s giving instructions to Moses regarding women and slavery:

  1. If a man sells his daughter, she gets to remain a slave indefinitely – unlike the male slaves, she doesn’t get freed.
  2. But if the dude she’s sold to doesn’t like her, he’s not allowed to sell her to any durned foreigners. He has to allow her daddy to buy her back.
  3. If he bought her for his son to sex up, he has to treat her as a daughter.
  4. If he takes her as his wife for his own self, and later takes an additional wife, he’s got to keep providing his first wife the same level of food, clothing, and sexy fun times as before.
  5. If he can’t do those things for her, then he’s gotta set her free, without debt. (Ex. 21:7-11)

Nowhere does God ever say: “Dads – don’t sell your daughters as sex slaves. That’s disgusting.” He doesn’t say, “Dudes, don’t buy women as sex slaves – that’s an asshole thing to do, and also really skeevy.” In not one single place does God say, “You know what, guys? Don’t buy and sell women at all. Just don’t. I’m gonna call that an abomination unto me right there.” Don’t get so starry-eyed over God giving a few paltry rights to these poor girls people are selling. Don’t get so over-awed by the fact it’s God talking that you forget these girls were lifelong slaves whose destiny was to be repeatedly raped. God is regulating the sex slave trade. That is in no way moral.

And if you’ve ever condemned sex trafficking, you’ve got to face the fact that your God was completely down with it.

If you think those laws were horrible, just wait ’til we get to the rules on how to beat your slaves!

 

 

1Some Christians, horrifyingly, insist God is perfect and those horrific laws are still right and just today, but they’re a definite minority.
2Exceptions apply.

 

Image is the cover for Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus. The painting is Charles Sprague Pearce's Lamentations over the Death of the First-Born of Egypt, showing an Egyptian man and woman weeping over the coffin of their infant.

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus is now available worldwide at Amazon:

United States  ♦  Canada  ♦  Mexico  ♦  Brazil  ♦  United Kingdom  ♦  Germany  ♦  France  ♦  Spain ♦  Italy  ♦  Netherlands  ♦  India  ♦  Japan  ♦  Australia

Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. I: Genesis is also available at Amazon:

United States  ♦  Canada  ♦  Mexico  ♦  Brazil  ♦  United Kingdom  ♦  Germany  ♦  France  ♦  Spain ♦  Italy  ♦  Netherlands  ♦  India  ♦  Japan  ♦  Australia

Pick up your copies today!