When Comforting Thoughts Don’t Comfort Everyone

When we talk about ways we can cope with mortality and death, there’s this weird, hard reality: Some people aren’t going to agree. Not everyone finds the same ideas comforting. In fact, a particular view of death might give great solace to Person A — while Person B finds it hollow, or even upsetting.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 200 JPGI recently posted a link to a piece PZ Myers had written about death. PZ reviewed my new book, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God — and he then went on to talk about death from the point of view of an evolutionary biologist. That view, in short: Dying is, quite literally, a necessary and inevitable consequence of being alive and multi-cellular. If you want to not die, and you want the people in your life to not die, the only option is for us to not be born.

Commenter ethereal had serious problems with this idea — or, to be more accurate, with presenting this idea as a comfort. In her comment, she said:

PZ Myers’ post is absolutely terrible where comforting thoughts are concerned. It couldn’t have been more terrible if he spontaneously converted to Evangelical Christianity in the middle of writing it. Behind the scientific explanation of death (which might be appreciated in a different context), his post is a giant is-ought fallacy. And it’s awful. It can be used to justify anything. Ebola? Shut up you whiners, this is how the disease spreads, this is how it kills people, everything is okay, nothing sad here. Hurricanes? This is how they arise, this is how the human body reacts to blunt trauma, nothing sad here. Terrorism? This is how guns work, this is the result of ballistic trauma, nothing sad here.

She then went on to tell a heartbreaking story about a friend who was killed by a drunk driver less than a year ago — and about some of the appalling reactions she had to deal with from religious believers. (Her complete comment is here.) She wound up by saying:

Too TL;DR? Let’s put it in PZ Myers’ terms:
Vehicular homicide? Bicycle dynamics, internal combustion, effects of alcohol on reaction time, blunt trauma. It’s natural, nothing to be sad about, shut up.

Here’s my reply (edited slightly from my original comment):

ethereal: First, and most importantly: I am so sorry for your loss. And I’m so sorry that you had such a horrible experience with how the people around you handled that death and your grief.

If I’ve learned anything from what grieving people say about their grief, it’s that people grieve very differently. Among other things, people have very different reactions to different ideas about death, and to different forms of comfort in the face of it. That’s obviously true when it comes to believers and atheists — but it’s also true for different atheists. [Read more…]

“Very Hot!”: Amazon Customer Review of “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More”

I’ve gotten some nice Amazon customer reviews for my book Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, and I thought I’d repost some of them. Here’s a good one, five stars out of five. (As of this writing, the book has nine customer reviews, and eight are 5-star reviews, with one 4-star.) Here’s what SEB had to say:

Very Hot!

Living on the s side of the slash in a 24/7 TPE relationship, I loved this book. Read it and passed it on to my partner, perhaps it will give her a few ideas!

Thanks, SEB! And if any of you have read Bending, it’d be awesome if you’d post a review.

***

Here, by the way, is ordering info for the book! [Read more…]

The “Coming Out Atheist” Donation Recipient for December 2014: Ex-Muslims of North America!

Sorry this is late this month: January has been a bear.

Coming Out Atheist coverAs some of you may already know, I’ve pledged to donate 10% of my income from my new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, to atheist organizations, charities, and projects.

Here’s why. I got lots of help with this book, and working on it felt very much like a collaboration, a community effort. (To some extent that’s true with any book, but it was even more true with this one.) Because coming out is really different for different atheists, it was hugely important to get detailed feedback on the book, so my personal perspective wasn’t completely skewing my depiction of other people’s experiences. So I asked lots of friends and colleagues to give me detailed feedback on the book: either on the book as a whole, or on particular chapters about atheists with very different experiences from mine (such as the chapters on parents, students, clergy, people in the U.S. military, and people in theocracies). Many people were very generous with their time helping out: they put a whole lot of time and work and thought into a project that wasn’t theirs, because they thought it would benefit the community. And, of course, I had the help of the hundreds of people who wrote in with their coming-out story, or who told their coming-out story in one of the books or websites I cited, or who just told me your coming-out story in person.

exmna logoI want to give some of that back. So I’m donating 10% of my income from this book to atheist organizations, charities, and projects: a different one each month. Each month, one of the people who helped with the book gets to pick the recipient. The recipient for December 2014, chosen by Ingrid Nelson, is the Ex-Muslims of North America.

The Ex-Muslims of North America are a group of people dedicated to supporting and helping ex-Muslims. The primary reason for our group’s existence is to build a community and provide a sense of solidarity for ‘ex-Muslims’ -– people who used to follow Islam or identify as Muslim, and who no longer do so. As such, this group is only for ex-Muslims, primarily those located in or from North America. They are largely composed of smaller regional groups, who have a great degree of structural autonomy. The regional groups are united organizationally as the Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA).

There are Ex-Muslims in all disciplines and geographies of the world. Due to the risk inherent in declaring apostasy, the majority has kept silent and are isolated. Ex-Muslims of North America aims to change that.

The Ex-Muslims of North America are a 501(c) nonprofit, and donations to them are tax-deductible. If you want to support them too, here’s their donation page!



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

“Droll, incisive, personal and compassionate”: Amazon Customer Review of “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God”

Got a really nice customer review on Amazon of Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God. Five stars out of five. (In fact, the book now has eight Amazon customer reviews, and seven are five stars, with one four-star review.) Here’s what remembertobreathe had to say:

I’d been dying to read this book…

Have you ever read a book, or an essay or op-ed piece, on a subject of great importance to you and wondered, how did the author get inside my head, and what can I do (make her a cup of tea? Offer a foot rub?) to get her to stay? Greta Christina has done it again, this time, on a subject considered to be dicey territory for both those who are religion-free and religious believers.

I would invite the latter to read the book, even though you may not consider yourself to be among its targeted audience, in hopes that you might gain at least a partial understanding of why the concerns and fears about death religionists attempt to foist upon the non-religious (yeah, not you, of course, but you’ve seen others of your mindset do it, right?) are…unappreciated, to put it mildly, and nonsensical upon rational examination.

For fellow Brights, Freethinkers, Atheists, Agnostics and others who are religion-free: have you ever read the religious party line on death, and thought, “But no, there’s ___! And what about ___ and ___ and ___?” Greta Christina collects all the but-nos and what-abouts, and more, organizing, distilling and presenting them in her usual droll, incisive, personal and compassionate way. It is a “light” read (I refer to tone, not intellectual content) for such a “heavy” subject, and a wonderful addition to the growing collection of books that affirm the logic, value and comfort of humanistic principles.

Thanks, remembertobreathe! And if any of you have read Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, it’d be awesome if you’d post a review.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 200 JPGThe Kindle ebook edition is available on Amazon (that’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well); the Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble; and the Smashwords edition is available on Smashwords. All ebook editions are $2.99. You can get the audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. The audiobook is $2.99 (discounted slightly on Amazon, of course). (Plans for a print edition are in the works.)

Here’s the description of the book: [Read more…]

PZ Myers on Death, Evolution, and “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God”

If we’re thinking about mortality and death with no belief in an afterlife — how does evolution play into it?

PZ Myers has written a really nice, thoughtful review of my new book, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God. But it’s more than a review. He uses the book as a jumping-off point to talk about death and mortality from the perspective of evolutionary biology. Here’s what he says about the book:

I finally got around to finishing Greta Christina’s Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God. It’s good! This book is the sort of thing atheism needs more of: an acknowledgment that the phenomena most important to human beings can be addressed effectively without imagining fantastic supernatural creatures. Atheists have this reputation of being nerds all wrapped up in abstract concepts and making arguments against the superstitious props that people claim to find useful in day-to-day life, and it’s good that some of us make the effort to show that no, we do deal with real-world concerns, and no, your myth is actually a terribly ineffective way of handling that problem.

He then goes on to talk about how he views death as an evolutionary biologist — and why, exactly, we die. The whole piece is well worth reading: the tl;dr is that dying is, quite literally, a necessary and inevitable consequence of being alive and multi-cellular. If you want to not die, and you want the people in your life to not die, the only option is for us to not be born. I really wish I’d read this before I wrote the book: if I ever do a revised and expanded edition, I’ll definitely be citing this piece and using some of the ideas in it.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 200 JPGThe ebook is available at Kindle/Amazon (that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well), Nook/Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The audiobook is available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. All ebook and audiobook editions are just $2.99. And yes, I did the recording for the audiobook. (Plans for a print edition are in the works, but there’s currently no publication date scheduled.)

Here is the description of the book: [Read more…]

Godless Perverts Social Club Thurs. 1/15! Topic: Asexuality 101+

godless-perverts-banner-asexuality-social-club

The next Godless Perverts Social Club is this Thursday, January 15! The discussion topic: “Asexuality 101+.” Asexuality is an oft-misunderstood identity, filled with all sorts of shades of grey. To help shine a little light on this underrepresented community, we’ve brought in Maggs, a local asexual-identifying person to lead a discussion. Expect an Asexuality 101, including some commonly-used terms and a little bit of the speaker’s own personal experiences navigating a sexual world.

Maggs is a queer student/writer who intends to be a science communicator one day. Currently, she’s working on getting back to being a full-time student and finding enough work to live on. Approach her carefully, she’s probably more afraid of you than you are of her.

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers — and the Godless Perverts Social Club is our socializing/ hanging out branch. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever-you-want-to-call-it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us — we meet at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house, 289 8th Street in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART), the first Tuesday and third Thursday of every month.

We’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are Topical Thursdays — we pick a topic ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In January, that’ll be Thursday January 15. [Read more…]

“A MUST read for all atheists”: Amazon Customer Review of “Coming Out Atheist”

Got a nice customer review on Amazon for Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why! Five stars out of five. (In fact, the book now has 36 customer reviews — and 31 of them are either four- or five-star!) Here’s what Puckman007 had to say:

A MUST Read for ALL Atheists!

An absolutely amazing book! I was already an out Atheist when I read this book, but it was still very beneficial to my life. It provided advice I can use helping other in the closet Atheists as well as advice on improving diversity among Atheist groups. This book also shined light on the troubles Atheists in other demographic groups from mine have that I may not have had as I was coming out. The book is written in a down to earth style for the common Atheist. Nothing against Dawkins or Hitchens, but it’s nice to not need a dictionary while reading a book on Atheism. :-) The book contains an excellent resource guide of Atheist communities (both on-line and in-person). This is definitely a MUST read for all atheists, whether you are in the closet or out of the closet.

Thanks, Puckman007! And if any of you have read Coming Out Atheist, it’d be awesome if you’d post a review.

***

Here, by the way, is ordering info for the book in all three formats — print, ebook, and audiobook!

Coming Out Atheist cover 150Ebook edition:
The Kindle edition is available on Amazon. (That’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well.)
The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.
The Smashwords edition is available on Smashwords. Right now, it’s only available on Smashwords in epub format: I’m working to make it available in other formats.
All ebook editions and formats cost just $9.99.

Print edition: [Read more…]

A Less Simplistic View of Evil: The Jasmine Storyline in “Angel,” And Why People Do Awful Awful Things

Content note: This post contains significant Buffy the Vampire Slayer content. However, I think it’ll be of interest to non-Buffy fans. If I’m wrong, and you read it anyway… well, that’s five minutes of your life that you’re never getting back. Also, it contains spoilers about a TV series that ended over ten years ago. Sorry.

Why do evildoers do evil?

For obvious reasons — the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the NAACP bombing, Ferguson, and just all the awful shit that’s been happening in recent days/ weeks/ months/ years — I’ve been thinking a lot about evil. I’ve also been re-watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” lately, along with its spinoff show, “Angel.” (I promise this isn’t a non-sequitur. Stay with me.)

jasmine 1Right now, I’m in the Jasmine storyline in “Angel” — the storyline about the magical being with god-like powers who wants to turn the Earth into a blissful paradise with no conflict, hatred, war, or poverty, and whose very presence instantly makes people (a) blissfully happy, (b) loving and accepting of each other, and (c) intensely devoted, worshipful, and obedient of Jasmine’s own god-like self. I’ve written before about how this storyline is a metaphor for religion and theocracy. But I was thinking again about why I like this story arc so much, and I realized:

It’s a realistic and insightful exploration of why evildoers do evil. [Read more…]

“Depth and intelligence… honesty and care”: Dale McGowan on “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God”

The question of god is a nattering bit of trivia compared to Death. For mortals who look their mortality in the eye, it’s Death that deserves the capital. Greta Christina brings depth and intelligence to the consideration of this biggest reality of all, and she does it with honesty and care. I’m still not giddy about the fact that we die, and neither is she. But there are ways to feel better about the terminal hand we’ve been dealt, and Greta shares them all in this remarkable book.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 200 JPGGot a really nice blurb about my new book, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, from -Dale McGowan, author of In Faith and In Doubt, Parenting Beyond Belief, and Atheism For Dummies Thanks so much, Dale!

The ebook is available at Kindle/Amazon (that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well), Nook/Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The audiobook is available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. All ebook and audiobook editions are just $2.99. And yes, I did the recording for the audiobook. (Plans for a print edition are in the works, but there’s currently no publication date scheduled.)

Here is the description of the book: [Read more…]

“Buy this book and share it as widely as possible”: Amazon Customer Review of “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?”

I’ve gotten some nice Amazon customer reviews for Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and I thought I’d repost some of them. Here’s a good one, five stars out of five. (As of this writing, the book has 148 customer reviews, and 120 are either 5-star or 4-star.) Here’s what Barry Taylor had to say:

Should be required reading for all

Anyone who reads Greta Christina’s blog will be familiar with her accessible and insightful writing style, and this book offers more of the same but with a specific focus. Yes, we atheists are angry, and we have good reasons to be. Buy this book and share it as widely as possible.

Thanks, Barry! And if any of you have read Why Are You Atheists So Angry?, it’d be awesome if you’d post a review.

***

Here, by the way, is ordering info for the book in all three formats — print, ebook, and audiobook!

Why Are You Atheists So AngryEbook editions:
The Kindle edition is available at Amazon.
The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.
Smashwords has the book in multiple formats, including iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle (.mobi), Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, any other reader that takes the Epub format, Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Online Reading via HTML, and Plain Text for either downloading or viewing.
All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

Print edition:
The print edition is available at Powell’s Books.
The print edition is also available at Amazon. However, be advised (if you haven’t been already) that seriously abusive labor practices have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Please bear that in mind when you’re deciding where to buy my book — or indeed, where to buy anything. (For the record: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.
The print edition is available at Last Gasp.
The print edition is $14.95 USD. It is published by Pitchstone Publishing.

Wholesale sales of the print edition:
Bookstores and other retailers can get the book from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other standard wholesale distributors. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing.

Audiobook edition:
The audiobook version is available at Audible.
The audiobook version is available on iTunes.
The audiobook version is available on Amazon.
And yes, I did the recording for it!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.