Greta’s Podcast Interview with Atheist Airwaves!

Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 200 JPGPodcast fans — I have a podcast interview up with Atheist Airwaves! We talk about my new book, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing To Do With God — including ways that atheists can cope with religion at funerals, why religious approaches to death are less comforting than they seem, and more. Also on the show: the first legal gay marriage in Texas and the future of marriage equality, a Christian pastor in the UK claims god will send you to hell for any sexual position, an ex-Scientologist turns to pushing a ‘miracle’ autism cure in the form of bleach enemas, the Pope compares transgender people to nuclear weapons because he’s a full-on bigot, and more. Good times! Enjoy!

Dream Diary, 2/24/15: God

blake godI dreamed that Ingrid and I were hanging out with God. God looked pretty much exactly like the Western cliche of the Christian god: Caucasian, white hair and beard, golden light radiating from his head. The only thing that was different was he was sitting in an armchair. Some other people were hanging out with us, too, although I don’t remember exactly who: some friends of ours, and I think also some characters from “Parks and Recreation.” (I actually had this dream a couple of days ago, and didn’t write it down right away, so some of the details have faded.) It was very clear, in that dream-logic way, that this was not a hallucination or any kind of illusion: it was clear that this was a real interaction with the real Christian God, because dream-reasons.

I was really embarrassed at having been so certain that God didn’t exist, and at first was very apologetic to him about it. But he was cool with it. In fact, he insisted very firmly that even though he existed, it was important that I remain an atheist — and not just an atheist but an atheist activist. It wasn’t at all clear why, though. Dream-reasons.

I woke up at first still feeling embarrassed about how wrong I’d been, and feeling very confused about why God wanted me to be an atheist. Once I started realizing it was a dream, I was mostly baffled at my dream-logic, and was still trying to figure out why my dream-God wanted me to be an atheist.


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.

Greta Speaking in Houston, Austin, Reno, San Francisco, and Memphis!

Hi, all! I have some speaking gigs coming up in Houston, Austin, Reno, San Francisco, and Memphis. If you’re in or near any of these cities, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Houston, TX
DATE: Thursday, February 26
TIME: 6:30 pm
LOCATION: Fox and Hound, 11470 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX
HOSTS: Humanists of Houston
TOPIC: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God
SUMMARY: If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife — how do you cope with death? Accepting death is never easy, and one of the most difficult things about
leaving religion can be letting go of belief in the afterlife. But we don’t
need religion to find peace, comfort, solace, and meaning in the face of
death. What are some secular ways that atheists can handle our own
mortality and the death of those we love?
COST: Free and open to the public. The venue is open to all ages (minors allowed with parent) until 10 PM, after which it becomes 21+.
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/humanism-177/events/219950949/

CITY: Austin, TX (Texas Secular Convention)
DATES: Friday February 27 – Sunday March 1 (I’m speaking Saturday, February 28 at 2:15pm)
LOCATION: Sheraton’s Hotel and the Capitol, Austin, TX
EVENT: Texas Secular Convention
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Jamila Bey, Matt Dillahunty, Katherine McCutchan, Ron Lindsay, Alix Jules, David Smalley, Barry Lynn, Kathy Miller, Rep. Donna Howard, Amanda Knief, Amanda Hernandez, Daniel Moran, Chris Johnson, Dr. David Wiley, Kelly Damerow
TOPIC: Activism Burnout: Prevention and Treatment
SUMMARY: One of the most important keys to the success of the atheist movement is keeping activists engaged for the long haul. But the most inspired and motivated activists are often the ones most likely to eventually burn out. What are some practical strategies for preventing burnout — and for managing it when it happens? And how can activists support each other in not burning out?
COST: $50 – $125
EVENT URL: http://www.texassecularconvention.org/

CITY: Reno, NV
DATE: Monday, March 2
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Room 106, Ansari Business Building, University of Nevada, Reno
HOSTS: Secular Student Alliance (SSA) of UNR and Reno Freethinkers
TOPIC: Secular Diversity & The Role of Women in Atheism
SUMMARY: The most visible representatives of the atheist movement tend to be white men. Is this a problem? If so, should the atheist movement be doing something about it — and if so, what?
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: https://www.facebook.com/events/418720641617982/

CITY: San Francisco, CA
DATE: Sunday, March 8
TIME: 3:00 pm
LOCATION: Women’s Building, 3543 18th St. (at Valencia), San Francisco
HOSTS: Atheist Advocates of San Francisco
TOPIC: Comforting Thoughts About Death Have Have Nothing to Do with God
SUMMARY: See above
COST: $6

CITY: Memphis, TN (American Atheists National Convention)
DATES: Thursday, April 2 – Sunday, April 5 (my workshop will be Thursday, April 2, with Sarah Morehead and Muhammad Syed)
LOCATION:
EVENT: American Atheists National Convention
OTHER SPEAKERS/ PRESENTERS: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Susan Blackmore, Marshall Brain, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Jamila Bey, Tony Pinn, Mandisa Thomas, Lindsay Beyerstein, Heina Dadabhoy, Keith Lowell Jensen, Matt Dillahunty, James Croft, David Fitzgerald, Vyckie Garrison, Fade Zu Grau, Steve Hill, Leighann Lord, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Miri Mogilevsky, Sarah Haider, Asif Mohiuddin, more
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why (workshop, with Sarah Morehead and Muhammad Syed)
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: $50 – $329; workshops are $99
EVENT URL: http://atheists.org/convention2015

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 Thur. 2/19! Discussion Topic: Building Consent Culture, Led By Kitty Stryker

godless-perverts-consent-culture-kitty-stryker-banner

The next Godless Perverts Social Club is this Thursday, February 19! The discussion topic: Building Consent Culture. What would a consent culture look like? How are we, as a community, getting it right, and how are we getting it wrong? Kitty Stryker asks questions about what consent means, from a legal and ethical standpoint, and how we can practically encourage it in our everyday lives.

The discussion will be led by Kitty Stryker. Stryker is the co-editor of ConsentCulture.com, where she discusses alternatives to rape culture and explores how consent works under capitalistic patriarchy.

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. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) are welcome. We meet from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter if you can. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

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 February, that’ll be Thursday February 19. [Read more…]

Fundraising Drive to Honor Chapel Hill Murder Victims

Deah Shaddy Barakat Yusor Mohammad Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha

The Foundation Beyond Belief is doing a fundraising drive to honor the Chapel Hill murder victims: Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. The man arrested for the murders, Craig Stephen Hicks, is a self-described atheist and opponent of religion, who had been bullying the victims for some time before he killed them. Please donate what you can — even small amounts add up — and please spread the word.

All donated funds will go directly to the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation — a charity supported by Barakat, a doctoral student in dentistry who planned to travel to Syrian refugee camps this summer to perform emergency dentistry for refugee children through SAMS. Please give as generously as you can. Thanks.

Condemning the Chapel Hill Murders

It horrifies me that we should have to say this. But I will say it anyway:


DO NOT FUCKING WELL KILL PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE RELIGION.

I will quote myself from Why Are You Atheists So Angry?:

So yes, I would like to see religion eventually disappear. I would not, however, like to see this disappearance happen in any sort of coerced or enforced way. I would not, for instance, like to see laws passed against religious beliefs or practices. I absolutely don’t want violence done to people because of their religion. I don’t even want social pressure exerted against religion or religious believers, except to the degree that arguments constitute social pressure. I want believers to be free to practice their beliefs however they choose, as long as that practice doesn’t unreasonably impinge on my life or the lives of others.

Context, in case you haven’t heard: Three young Muslims were murdered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The man arrested for the murders, Craig Stephen Hicks, is a self-described atheist and opponent of religion. So I will spell this out, as clearly as I can: I unequivocally condemn the Chapel Hill murders. They were unspeakably vile. Killing people because you oppose the harm done in religion’s name — do I even need to explain how repugnant that is, and why? It is repugnant. I unequivocally condemn it.

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…]

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…]