Greta Speaking in Houston, Thursday January 28!

humanists of houston logoI have a speaking gig coming up this week in Houston, hosted by the Humanists of Houston. If you’re in the area, or you’re going to be in the area this weekend (maybe for the Secular Social Justice conference), come say Hi and hear me speak! My topic this time: “Resistance Is Not Futile: Why Arguing About Religion Is Not A Waste of Time.”

CITY: Houston, TX
DATE: Thursday, January 28, 2016
TIME: 7:00 to 9:00 pm
TOPIC: Resistance Is Not Futile: Why Arguing About Religion Is Not A Waste of Time
SUMMARY: Many atheists think that trying to persuade people out of religion never works, and simply alienates people. But debating believers about their beliefs can be effective — in changing people’s minds about religion, as well as in achieving other goals of the atheist community. When does it makes sense to debate about religion? How should we go about it? And what should our expectations be for what these debates can accomplish?
LOCATION: Trini Mendenhall Community Center, 1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX. We will be in the Auditorium Room. After walking into the community center, look for the room with the HOH sign posted outside the door.
HOST: Humanists of Houston
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/humanism-177/events/227302375/
NOTE: If you think you’re coming, lease RSVP on the Meetup page, so they can get an idea of the head count. Everyone who RSVPs will be eligible to win the door prize at the event!
OTHER NOTE: Copies of my books will be available for purchase, and I’ll be available afterwards to chat and sign books.


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.

Blog Break – Finishing My New Book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life

Way of the Heathen final cover with border 400

I’m finishing the draft of my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. (Scheduled for publication June 1; and yes, you can pre-order it on Amazon.)

So I’m taking a blog break. I’ll be back sometime after January 15. See you then!


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.

Godless Perverts Social Club — Game Night! Tuesday January 5

game pieces on game board

Godless Perverts is having another game night! Our first one in November was a rousing success, so it’s back by popular demand, on Tuesday, January 5. As you may have noticed, Wicked Grounds has a huge stash of games including chess and checkers, Cards Against Humanity*, Scrabble, Fluxx, Slash, Gloom, and much, much more. Feel free to bring your own games if you’re not sure Wicked Grounds has a copy of your favorite.

We’re meeting at Wicked Grounds, the kink cafe and boutique, at 289 8th Street at Folsom in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART). 7-9 pm. Admission is free, but we ask that you buy food and/or drink at the cafe if you can: Wicked Grounds has beverages, light snacks, full meals, and milkshakes made of literal awesome sauce. We meet at Wicked Grounds on the first Tuesday of every month: we also meet in Oakland, on the third Thursday. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide 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. Hope to see you there!

Godless Perverts presents and promotes a positive view of sexuality without religion, by and for sex-positive atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-believers, through performance events, panel discussions, social gatherings, media productions, and other appropriate outlets. Our events and media productions present depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities — including positive, traumatic, and complex experiences — focusing on the intersections of sexuality with atheism, materialism, skepticism, and science, as well as critical, questioning, mocking, or blasphemous views of sex and religion. Godless Perverts is committed to feminism, diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. We seek to create safe and welcoming environments for all non-believers and believing allies who are respectful of the mission, and are committed to taking positive action to achieve this.

*(If you decide to play CAH, please be cautious; it can be a really hard game between people who don’t know each other and aren’t familiar with each others’ limits and triggers.)


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.

What I Want for My Birthday

My birthday is coming up on December 31. Happy birthday to me!

If you’d like to get me something for my birthday, of course it would be nice if you’d buy one of my books. I’m 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.

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angry

But the main thing you could get me for my birthday would be to support one of the organizations I care about. There are a lot, and it’s hard to pick, but I’ve narrowed it down to these three:

Foundation Beyond Belief logoFoundation Beyond Belief: A humanist philanthropic organization that channels money and volunteering into organizations that put humanist ideals into action. (Among other things, they’ve funded Transgender Law Center, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ocean Conservancy, Innocence Project of Texas, Rainforest Foundation US, The Greening of Detroit — you get the idea.)
One-time donation (one-time donations go to support the Foundation’s operations and programs)
Monthly giving, as low as $5 a month (monthly giving goes to the programs being funded by the FBB — you can decide how to distribute your donations, and you can change that each quarter)

secular student alliance logoSecular Student Alliance: An umbrella organization that supports secular student groups in colleges, universities, and high schools around the country.
One-time or monthly donations

black nonbelievers logoBlack Nonbelievers: A national organization with local chapters that provides support, information, and community to Black people living without religion.
One-time or monthly donations (donation button on the main page)
Store (T-shirts, shot glasses, coffee mugs)

(Full disclosure note: I’m on the Boards of Directors of the FBB and the SSA.)

If you do this, please make a note with your donation if you can, saying “Happy Birthday Greta.” It will make them and me happy. Thanks, and have a happy New Year!

The True Meaning of Christmas

I’m reposting a bunch of my holiday posts, as a part of a holiday tradition thing. Enjoy!

So what does Christmas really mean?

war on christmas book coverAmong all the traditions of the holiday season, one that’s becoming increasingly familiar is the War on the Supposed War On Christmas. In this tradition — one that dates back to the sweet olden days of overt anti-Semitism — the Christian Right foams at the mouth about the fact that not everyone has the same meaning of Christmas that they do, and works themselves into a dither about things like store clerks politely recognizing that not everyone is a Christian by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Because in the mind of the Christian Right, it somehow disrespects their faith and impinges on their religious freedom to share a country with people who feel and act differently than they do.

Okay. Insert rant here about how the Christian Right isn’t actually interested in religious freedom and respect for their faith. They’re trying to establish a theocracy. They don’t care about religious and cultural plurality. They don’t care about the fact that winter holidays mean different things to different people, and that different people celebrate different ones and in different ways. They don’t care about the fact that not everyone in the country is Christian, and that lots of people who do call themselves Christian are actually pretty secular in both their everyday life and their celebration of the winter holidays.

No, scratch that. They do care about it. They think it’s bad.

But that’s not actually what I want to talk about today.

In the face of Bill O’Reilly and company screaming hatefully about the true meaning of Christmas, I want to talk — in true grade-school essay form — about what Christmas means to me.

Because I actually like Christmas.

lighted treeChristmas; Solstice; Hanukkah; Kwanzaa; Festivus; “the holidays”; whatever. I don’t have a strong attachment to any particular name or date or occasion. Any mid-winter holiday around the end of December will do. Lately I’ve been calling it either “the holidays” or “Santamas” (in honor of what Bart Simpson has described as the true meaning of the holiday: the birth of Santa). I was brought up culturally Christian, though, with Christmas trees and Santa and all that, and I do tend to refer to it as Christmas at least some of the time.

And I love it. I always have. I know it’s fashionable to hate it, and I get why people get annoyed by it — but I don’t. I love it. It’s one of my favorite times of the year.

And here’s what it means to me. [Read more…]

Ugly Renaissance Baby Jesuses

I’m reposting some of my previous holiday posts, as part of my holiday tradition thing. Enjoy!

In honor of the birth of Jesus — or rather, the supposed birth of the very-likely-entirely-imaginary Jesus character in the New Testament myth — I bring you, from my visit to the Art Institute in Chicago: Ugly Renaissance baby Jesuses. (Jesi?)

Ugly Renaissance Baby Jesus 1

Ugly Renaissance Baby Jesus 2

Ugly Renaissance baby Jesus 3

Really fills you with a deep sense of reverence and awe, doesn’t it? Or something.


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.

Axial Tilt

axial tilt is the reason for the season

Axial tilt. The reason for the season.

Happy Solstice, everybody!

(Image created by Lore Sjöberg.)


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.

The Great Gruesome Christmas Carols

I’m reposting some of my previous holiday posts, as part of my holiday tradition thing. Enjoy!

christmas carols bookAnd now for something completely different.

I’m one of those freakish people who actually likes Christmas carols. Not the gloppy, cutesy, “Suzy Snowflake” modern variety so much (although I do have a soft spot for “Silver Bells”), but the soaring, haunting, gorgeous classic ones. “Angels We Have Heard On High,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” “The Angel Gabriel,” that sort of thing.

And one of the things I like about them is how totally freaky some of them are.

There’s this annual Christmas party I go to every year, at which the singing of Christmas carols and other seasonal and not- so- seasonal music is a centerpiece. A few years back, I went on the Internet and pulled together a lyric sheet, so we could actually sing all the songs all the way through instead of tapering off pathetically after the first verse.And you know what I found? Some Christmas carols are truly gruesome. Startlingly gruesome. Freakishly and hilariously gruesome.

So I thought I should share with the rest of the class. [Read more…]

White Wine in the Sun

For the 5% of you who aren’t familiar with it, here is Tim Minchin’s lovely and touching atheist/ humanist Christmas song, “White Wine in the Sun.” I repost this every year, as part of my holiday tradition thing.

Okay, yes, these days I personally would much rather break bread with Desmond Tutu than Dawkins. But I love the song anyway. This is the animated version of the video, which I’m very fond of. For those who celebrate it — have a happy Christmas! And for those who don’t — have a happy End of December!


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.

10 Christmas Carols Even An Atheist Could Love

This piece was originally published on AlterNet in 2010. I’m dragging it out again for the holidays.

carol singingWhat do you do if you’re an atheist who likes Christmas carols?

It’s widely assumed that atheists, by definition, hate Christmas. And it’s an assumption I’m baffled by. I like Christmas. Lots of atheists I know like Christmas. Plenty of atheists recognize the need for rituals that strengthen social bonds and mark the passing of the seasons. Especially when the season in question is dark and wet and freezing cold. Add in a culturally- sanctioned excuse to spend a month of Saturdays eating, drinking, flirting, and showing off our most festive shoes, and we’re totally there. And we find our own ways to adapt/ create/ subvert the holiday traditions to our own godless ends.

Sure, most of us would like for our governments to not be sponsoring religious displays at the holidays. Or any other time. What with the whole “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” thing. And some of us do rather resent the cultural hegemony of one particular religious tradition being crammed down everybody’s throat, in a grotesque, mutant mating of homogenized consumerism and saccharine piety. But many of us are very fond of Christmas. Some atheists even like Christmas carols. I’m one of them.

It is, however, definitely the case that, since I’ve become an atheist activist, my pleasure in many Christmas carols has been somewhat diminished. It’s harder for me to sing out lustily about angels and magic stars and the miracle of the virgin birth, without rolling my eyes just a little. And I do notice the more screwed-up content of many Christmas songs more than I used to: the guilty self-loathing, the fixation on the blood sacrifice, the not- so- subtle anti-Semitism. I’m content to sing most of these songs anyway (except “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” which always makes me cringe). But for some time now, I’ve been on the lookout for Christmas songs that I can sing entirely happily, without getting into annoying theological debates in my head.

So, with the help of my Facebook friends, I’ve compiled a list of Christmas songs that atheists can love unreservedly.

The rules, made up entirely by me (you can make up your own rules for your own list):

mary and baby jesusSongs cannot have any mention of God, Jesus, angels, saints, or miracles. Not even in Latin. This is the key, the raison d’etre of this whole silly game. I’m not going to start making exceptions just so I can sneak in the “Boar’s Head Carol.” And yes, this rules out “Good King Wenceslas.” Hey, I like it too, it’s pretty and has a nice (if somewhat politically complicated) message about how rich kings should help poor people. But come on, people. It’s about a Christian saint with magical powers. No can do. (I will, however, grant a “saints with magical powers” exemption to Santa.)

Songs must be reasonably well-known. Yes, this rules out some truly excellent stuff. Many of my favorite Christmas songs, atheist or otherwise, are on the obscure side: from the grisly, gothy, paganesque “Corpus Christi Carol” (I do love me some gruesome Christmas songs), to the simultaneously haunting and peppy “Patapan,” to Tim Minchin’s funny, touching, pointedly godless “White Wine in the Sun.” But it’s no fun singing Christmas songs by yourself. For a song to make my list, a reasonable number of people at your holiday party should be able to sing it… or at least chime in on the first verse before trailing off into awkward pauses and “La la la”s.

No song parodies. It hurts like major surgery for me to make this rule. Some of my very favorite Christmas songs of all time are song parodies: my friend Tim’s hilariously on-target Christmas-themed parody of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Christmas Rhapsody”; the entire “Very Scary Solstice” songbook from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society; every Mad Magazine Christmas carol parody ever written. Song parodies are an excellent way to redeem a pretty Christmas tune from cringe-inducing lyrics, and many are just excellent songs on their own. But the idea here is that atheists can have a completely heartfelt, non-snarky love for Christmas music. So to make it onto my list, songs must be entirely sincere. (I will, however, give bonus points to classic Christmas songs that have spawned good parodies.)

Songs have to be good songs. A subjective judgment, I realize. And for the purposes of this game, one that is to be made entirely by me. Deal with it. I don’t care how secular it is: “Suzy Snowflake” is not making it onto my freaking Christmas song list.

Bonus points: A song gets bonus points for not mentioning the word “Christmas.” It’s okay if it does — I don’t think the word has to mean “Christ’s Mass,” any more than “goodbye” has to mean “God be with you” or “Thursday” has to mean “Thor’s day.” But songs that have become widely accepted Christmas carols without even mentioning the concept get bonus points: for chutzpah, if nothing else.

And songs get bonus points for being written more than 100 years ago. I’m not a reflexive hater of modern Christmas songs; in fact, some of them I quite like. But some of the best stuff about Christmas music is the old, old, tunes: the soaring, haunting melodies and harmonies that resonate back through the centuries. If a song can do that and still not mention the baby Jesus, I’m sold.

So with these rules in mind, here are my Top Ten Christmas Carols Even An Atheist Could Love. [Read more…]