Why Are You Atheists So Angry? The Cover!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Here, by the excellent and talented Casimir Fornalski, is the book cover for Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless.


I am so excited! Having a cover design is making this whole “book” thing feel very real indeed. And I love this design. It totally captures the “serious righteous anger/ call to action, mixed with a good dollop of self-aware humor” thing that I’m going for with this book. And it also just looks cool. I’m tickled pink to have it as the visual representation of my work.

I did get a lot of really good submissions for my book cover design contest, from some excellent designers who deserve recognition and praise. So I’ll be posting a gallery of the runners-up as soon as I can (I’m on the road right now, with limited time and Internet access). My sincerest thanks go out to everyone who participated. And congratulations again to Casimir! I can’t wait to see this in bookstores and at conferences and getting grimy in people’s backpacks. Thanks!

Diversity and the Best Atheist Blogger Award – Please Don’t Vote for Me

So I noticed the other day that my blog was one of the nominees for the About.com Readers’s Choice Award for Best Atheist/Agnostic Blogger. “Neat!” I thought. I voted for myself. I started getting ready to post a little post announcing the thing. I noticed that Pharyngula was one of the other nominees, and gave up any hope of winning the damn thing.

Then I noticed something else: All the other nominees were white.

Hm, I thought.

Then I checked out the other Readers’s Choice Awards in the Atheist/ Agnostic categories. And as far as I can tell, all of the nominees in all the categories are white. All the books in the Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic Book category are by white people (white men, actually). None of the ads in the Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic Ad category feature people of color. I can’t tell for sure about Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic Podcast, or Favorite Atheist/ Agnostic to Follow on Twitter — but as far as I can tell, they’re all white people. (If I’m mistaken about that, please correct me.) And none of the groups nominated — Website, Facebook Page, Community — are people-of-color focused.

This is a problem.

We’ve been talking about this a lot lately, but we need to keep talking about it, so I’m going to say it again: We need to stop making the public face of atheism primarily white, and primarily male. If we don’t, we’re going to have a self-perpetuating cycle: people of color and women won’t see themselves represented in the atheist community, and won’t feel as welcomed in the community, and won’t participate in the community, and there won’t be as many strong women and people of color to become visible faces in the community… and around the circle we go. Consciously intervening in this cycle is the only way to stop it. And doing that now, relatively early in the development of our movement, is hugely important: before the self-perpetuating cycle gets set into a deep groove of habits and patterns that are hard to break out of, and before a history of resentment and rancor has time to really set in. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Other social change movements have been bitten on the ass by this issue, again and again, and if they had a time machine and could go back and deal with it in the earlier days of their movements, every one of them that I know of would. We have a unique chance to learn from their mistakes, and to get this right early. (Not early in the movement, period — atheism and atheist activism have been around for a while — but early in the seriously visible, vocal, powerful stage of the movement.) If we deal with it now, we won’t be spending nearly as much energy dealing with it in ten or twenty or fifty years.

For anyone who’s thinking, “Hey, this is just democracy in action, the top vote-getters got the top five nominations, there’s nothing racist about it,” I passionately urge you to read Greg Laden’s excellent piece, How To Make Diversity Happen, on how a selection process with no conscious attempt to be inclusive is almost always going to wind up perpetuating privilege. If you’re thinking that deliberately seeking diversity in a selection process will lower the quality of the candidates, I urge you to read Natalie Reed’s excellent piece, Thoughts from a Diversity Hire, on why diversity itself “is a qualification, a merit and a value.” (As well as on many of the other reasons why this accusation is baloney.) And for anyone who’s thinking that making a conscious effort to seek diversity is the same as advocating “tokenism,’ I urge you to read my own piece on that topics, Tokenism Is Not Inclusivity.

For the record: I’m not mad at Austin Cline, who runs the Agnosticism/ Atheism page at About.com. He’s handling this very well. He’s aware that this is a problem; he’s accepting the criticism about it with good grace and a sincere desire to fix it; he’s soliciting suggestions for how it can be fixed. That’s exactly what good people are supposed to do when something like this happens. (And on a purely practical, Macchiavellian level: That’s how you make something like this go away relatively quickly, instead of having it turn into a firestorm that eats the Internet for a week.)

But I’m just not comfortable being part of this. So please don’t vote for me. If I’m nominated again next year, and if the nominating process gets repaired in a way that makes it more inclusive, then knock yourself out. I will be happily trounced by Pharyngula at that time. But not this year. I’m pulling a Dillahunty. I’ve been nominated, but I will not run: if elected, I will not serve.

Why Sex is Not Spiritual

And while we’re on the topics of both sex and atheism, I wanted to point you to an excellent piece by Chris Hall, Why Sex Is Not Spiritual. Here are a couple of awesome pull-quotes to whet your appetite:

The fact that it is so very, very popular in sex-positive communities to put sexuality in the realm of the mystical by defining it as “spiritual” or “sacred” doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy; it gives me a numbing chill because what I really hear is shame. I hear people making excuses for their kinks and their pleasure. That so much talk about sexuality is wrapped in platitudes about spirituality, magic(k), or transcendence shows how deeply we’ve failed in being able to discuss sexual pleasure as a good thing in itself, without any excuses.

And:

All the paganism, Tantra, meditation, sacred sex, and BDSM sex magic(k) books and workshops represent a step backward. They are very convenient ways of rationalizing sexual pleasure by letting people claim that it’s about “something more” than just making your body feel good. All the sweat and cum and juices and the delicious, confusing carnality of sex get shoved back into the closet in favor of much tidier abstractions so that we can believe that we’re not just shallow hedonists. And that takes us back to square one, where we were told by our teachers, priests, and parents that sex was good — or at least acceptable — when done for any reason other than physical pleasure.

Read the rest of the piece. It kicks ass.

Porn or Erotica?

Is there a useful difference between porn and erotica?

My usual answer to this question is that the distinction between porn and erotica is pretty artificial. It generally comes down to subjective taste, conveniently dovetailed with character and even moral judgment. “I like erotica; you like porn; they like filthy smut.”

But when I have time to kill, I sometimes amuse myself by trying to come up with an answer. The way I often frame it is, “If someone held a gun to my head and made me give a coherent distinction between ‘porn’ and ‘erotica,’ one that most people who use the words would recognize and might even accept… what would it be?” Regardless of whether I think one is better than the other — regardless of whether I accept the common verdict that erotica is high-minded and beautiful while porn is tawdry and degrading? (Or whether I accept the other common verdict: that porn is exciting and hot while erotica is stuffy and boring?) Is there a useable distinction between the two?

Here’s what I have, provisionally, come up with. [Read more...]

Greta Speaking in Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, and Chicago, 2/25 – 3/2

UPDATE: The time for the University of Chicago event has been corrected — it’s now 6:30 pm on March 1 — and the location has been set, Harper Memorial Library Room 140.

Hi, all! Starting at the end of this week, I am embarking on an epic speaking tour. I’ll be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Auburn, Alabama; Columbia, South Carolina; Blacksburg, Virginia; Charlottesville, Virginia; and in Chicago twice (once in Lincoln Park and once in Hyde Park). Topics will include “Atheism and Sexuality,” “What Can the Atheist Movement Learn from the LGBT Movement,” “Happy Thoughts about Godless Death” (possibly), “Coming Out: What Can the Godless Learn from the Queers?” (a new talk, one I haven’t given before), and “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?”

If you’re in or near any of these towns, I hope you can make it! I always do Q&A after the talks, so please come by and say howdy. Here’s the tour schedule: [Read more...]

The book is done

The book is done. I just sent the manuscript for Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless to the formatters (the folks who format manuscripts for ebook and print-on-demand self-publishing).

I still have a shit-ton of work to do on this project: setting up accounts with Kindle, etc., creating promo cards, registering the title, some legal stuff with the city, etc. Most of which has to be done in time for the Reason Rally. And, in classically awesome timing, I’m leaving Friday for a week-long speaking tour of Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, and Chicago. (I’ll post tour details soon.) So I won’t be back to my full-on regular blogging and snorking schedule right away. But the actual creation of the book — the writing/ revising/ copy editing/ proofreading/ HTML/ endnotes stuff — that’s done. I will soon have my head out of this bubble, and will have at least one foot back in the land of the living. And I should be back to some sort of blogging by Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone for your patience. I can’t wait to get back to it.

Greta and JT Speaking at U of Arkansas, Fri. 2/17

If you’re in or near Fayetteville, Arkansas this Friday, some hear me speak! JT Eberhard and I are doing a joint speaking event at the University of Arkansas, hosted by the school’s godless/ skeptical group, Occam’s Razors.

I’ll be speaking on “Happy Thoughts about Godless Death,” and JT will speak about “Reason as a Moral Obligation.” There’ll be snacks and social time first, Q&A afterwards, and then more hanging out. More details, including a map and directions, are on the group’s Facebook page. Come by and say howdy!

EVENT/ HOSTS: Greta Christina and JT Eberhard, hosted by Occam’s Razors, University of Arkansas
DATE: Friday, February 17
TIME: Snacks at 6:00 pm; talks begin at 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Old Main, Giffels Auditorium, University of Arkansas
TOPIC: Happy Thoughts about Godless Death
SUMMARY: One of the most difficult things about leaving religion is letting go of belief in the afterlife. What are some ways that atheists can find comfort and meaning in the face of death?
JT’s TOPIC: Reason as a Moral Obligation
SUMMARY: JT will explain why it is important for us to think logically about the world. The talk will encourage intellectual thinking, which is a fundamental part of being a skeptic.
COST: Free, and open to the public

Hope to see you there!

Cover Design Contest — “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?”

I’m self-publishing a book — “Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless” — and I’m going to need a cover. And since I know there are talented designers among my readers, I’ve decided to turn it into a contest!

Here’s what you need to know.

The book is largely being built around my blog post, Atheists and Anger, in an expanded version that includes many more examples. That should be your main inspiration. Other chapters will defend this litany of rage and the validity of anger as inspiration for social change; explore in more detail why moderate, progressive, ecumenical, interfaith, New Age, and “spiritual but not religious” religion are valid targets for atheist anger; summarize the best arguments for why religion almost certainly isn’t true; explain and defend atheist activism and so-called “atheist evangelism”; and provide a resource guide for people who want to participate and take action in the atheism movement.

The tone of the book is fairly serious, but it uses a lot of humor, it’s written in my usual conversational tone, and it’s meant to be inspiring. It’s aimed at both atheists and at believers who want to understand atheism and atheist anger. I want the cover art to express anger, but in an inviting and inspiring manner. Humor is great if you can make it work without undercutting the seriousness of the content.

Text on the cover should include the title — “Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless” — and my name.

The design should look good as a book-sized physical object in people’s hands… and as a thumbnail image on websites.

Technical specs: I’ll need three different formats. Fortunately, the first one can easily be turned into the other two.

For the dead tree edition, I’ll need a 6″ x 9″ PDF, in either CMYK or RGB color, at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. (I’ll eventually need the PDF incorporated into a full jacket with a back cover and a spine — but the back cover and spine will be text only, with a summary, a bio, and some blurbs, so that shouldn’t take too long.)

For Kindle: I’ll need a JPG at 300 DPI, sized at 600×900.

For Nook/ePub: I’ll need a a JPG at 300 DPI, between 5KB and 2MB, sized at 750×1125.

Any art you use must be either original or copyright-free. (If you do use stock or other non-original art, please let me know the source.)

Contest submissions should be emailed to greta@gretachristina.com. It’s a good idea to follow submissions with a follow-up email, in case your attachment got glonked in my email.

Contest submissions must be received by February 15, 2012, at 11:59 Pacific time.

The winner will receive:

$100, paid via PayPal. (If you don’t have PayPal, we’ll figure something out.)

Ten copies of the book. You can wait until I publish the physical dead-tree edition (soon to follow the e-book editions), or you can get them in whatever ebook format I use that allows me to give gift copies that can then be re-distributed (I believe Smashmouth will let you do that). Or if you want to divvy them up, and get one ebook and nine hard copies, or seven ebooks and three hard copies, that’s ducky with me.

Credit as designer, with URL if you have one: on the back cover when the hard copy is published, in physical and ebook editions in the acknowledgements and indicia page, and on my blog when the book announcement is made (and, of course, when the contest winner is announced).

An interview on my blog.

The five runners-up will each receive one copy of the book, in whatever ebook format I use that allows me to give gift copies, or the physical book when it’s published, as you prefer.

Please email me with any questions, at greta@gretachristina.com. I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with!

“Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” – Suggestions for Resource Guide?

I’m writing the resource guide for my upcoming book, “Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless” — and I could use some suggestions. What are the organizations, online forums and support groups, books, blogs, etc., that you think atheists should know about? If someone wants to learn more about atheism, or participate in the atheist community/ movement, where should they start? Please provide the name and (if appropriate) the URL. Thanks.

Can’t blog… writing book…

So I’ve decided, “Fuck it.” I’ve been wanting to write a book for years. My readers have been pestering me to write a book for years. And I bloody well want to have an atheist book out when the Reason Rally comes around.

So I’m going ahead and publishing it myself.

Get ready for “Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things that Piss Off the Godless,” to be published first as an e-book in the usual formats, and later as a physical book made out of paper and everything. I’m shooting for e-book publication no later than March 24.

To make this happen, I’m taking a semi-break from the blog for a bit. Hopefully just for another week or two, since the book is about 90% written already. (Although if Hofstadter’s Law holds true, it’s going to take longer than that. Of course, if Hofstadter’s Law holds true, then this, and every other task on Earth, will take an infinite amount of time and never get done.)

Thank you for your patience. We will return you to your regularly scheduled ranting as soon as possible.