Category Archive: Life

Jul 15 2013

“May he grow up in Thy constant fear” – on digging up my certificate of baptism

Until last week, I didn’t know I was an Anglican. In Britain, the Church of England by and large is an object of humour. We joke about its reputation for tea and cake, leaking roofs and village fêtes, its desperate, undignified attempts to be trendy and current, the notion half its members are private atheists. …

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Apr 15 2013

Thoughts from QED: in defence of Atheism Plus

In case you weren’t aware of this – and you should be (it trended on Twitter) – QED just happened again. Last year’s convention gave birth to this site, and I’m glad to have gone again; it isn’t often that as Brits, the world is jealous of our skeptical meet-ups and not vice versa. This …

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Dec 26 2012

Not all of us love Christmas, and that’s perfectly all right

At Christmastime, it’s fashionable for secularists to say that actually, yes, they do love Christmas. A recent article by Jim Al-Khalili, ‘Why this atheist celebrates Christmas’, exemplifies the trend, as do the many online memes and comments arguing there’s nothing religious about gift-giving or decorated trees. “You don’t need to believe in Mithras to enjoy …

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Dec 23 2012

More sexist religion from my family’s bookshelves

Remember Leadership is Male, the book I posted about at the start of June? As Christmas Eve approaches, another gem has revealed itself on my relatives’ bookshelf. What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible is a similar volume by John Piper, and like Leadership is Male has a foreword by Elisabeth Elliot. (Because, …

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Oct 31 2012

How I learned to celebrate Hallowe’en

This time two years ago, I wished someone at university a happy Hallowe’en. Then I realised I’d never done that before. Alom Shaha, an ex-Muslim, writes in his memoir The Young Atheist’s Handbook about not being allowed to celebrate Christmas as a child. For me, the forbidden festival was October 31st. ‘As Christians’, a woman named …

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Jul 20 2012

Creationism at the Keswick Convention

Update: the 2013 edition! Every year in July, the Keswick Convention takes place in my hometown. It’s a meeting of Christian evangelicals known around the world, and regularly floods the town with visitors. My Christian stepdad, who attends events each year, estimated around 12,000 people are there this year. This afternoon, out for a walk, …

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Jun 26 2012

Grindr and what old-fashioned queer activists can learn from it

A week ago, I thought Grindr was tedious. In my mind, it belonged with partying gay first years at college, who’d much rather get smashed on vodka than smash the system. I felt above it – but a few days’ use just changed my mind. I went to visit family at the end of May, …

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Jun 01 2012

My sister’s four-year-old, and her Jesus-belief

‘I taught English to a supermarket manager abroad’, says my sister. We’re eating, and each remembering time spent overseas. ‘No you didn’t!’ Her four-year-old sits between us, incredulous. ‘Before I had you’, my sister explains. ‘When I was in your tummy?’ ‘Before that.’ ‘When I was with Jesus?’ An hour or two later, and again …

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Jun 01 2012

Religious sexism from my family’s bookshelves

Today I found a book on my brother-in-law’s shelf, with his name inside the cover: Leadership is Male (a clear, concise look at what the Bible teaches), by J. David Pawson. I’ve just read it, cover to cover. Here, with the author’s original italics and phrases underlined as they were with pencil in the book, …

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