Quantcast

Apr 17 2014

Special SSA Student Discount for “Coming Out Atheist”!

Coming Out Atheist coverAre you a student in a Secular Student Alliance group? If so, you can get my new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, at a special discount rate!

We — that is to say, myself and my publisher, Pitchstone Publishing — understand just how important the student atheist movement is to the atheist movement as a whole: both for its future, and for its present. We also understand that coming out can be particularly challenging for atheist students. And we understand that money can be particularly challenging for students as well.

So Pitchstone is generously offering a student discount on Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. (The print edition, that is, not the ebook or audiobook.) If Secular Student Alliance groups buy five (5) or more copies at once directly from Pitchstone, they’ll sell them to you at a 40% discount off the $17.95 cover price. Plus they’ll give you free shipping! (Free shipping only applies to groups in the United States.)

To take advantage of this offer, or to find out more, email [email protected]

And if you’re not a student in a Secular Student Alliance group, you can still buy the book! Just not at the student discount. Here’s ordering information. Enjoy!

Ebook 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:

The print edition is now available through 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 records: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

You can also get it through your local bookstore — it’s being distributed by standard wholesalers (including Ingram and Baker & Taylor), and most bookstores should be able to get it.

The print edition is $17.95 USD. It is being 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 on Audible. And yes, I did the recording for it! (It will very likely be on Amazon and iTunes soon.)

Here, by the way, is the description of the book, and some wonderfully flattering blurbs. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 17 2014

How Religious Fundamentalism, Ironically, Leads to a Screwed-Up Moral Relativism

Trigger warning: Burning at the stake and other torture

It is odd therefore that Cosmos focuses almost exclusively on the marginal case of Giordano Bruno. Of course, I am not defending Bruno’s persecution and death—no decent human being now would ever condone burning a person alive for any reason. Moreover, in 2014 we view legitimate theological dissent very differently than did our ancestors.

But the circumstances were quite different 400 years ago. According to the 16th century Italian legal code and the customs of Renaissance politics, Bruno was judged by an ecclesiastical court to be an obdurate heretic for refusing to cease in promulgating his theological ideas. As such he was deserving of capital punishment and was turned over for execution by the civil arm in Rome. In the 21st century we inhabit a very different era, a religiously pluralistic age of largely secular states in which the nature and exercise of authority are vastly different than they were in Post-Reformation Italy.
-Peter Hess, co-author of Catholicism and Science, for the NCSE blog, commenting on the new TV show, “Cosmos”

giordano bruno burning at stakeI see. Circumstances were different 400 years ago. According to the 16th century Italian legal code. We inhabit a very different era. So therefore, it’s not reasonable or fair to criticize the Catholic Church of the 16th century for burning Giordano Bruno at the stake.

It’s hard not to read this, and think about all the religious believers who insist that without belief in God, we would have no solid foundation for morality.

It hadn’t occurred to me before in quite this way. But religious fundamentalism and dogma doesn’t just often end up being morally relativistic in some screwed-up ways. It positively demands it. If you’re going to insist that a holy book written hundreds or thousands of years ago is the permanent and perfect moral guidebook written by God — then you’re stuck with defending behaviors that were considered ethical and even admirable at the time they were written, but that we now recognize as morally repulsive.

It’s a funny thing. Religious believers — especially the fundamentalist ones, or the ones attached to specific religious dogma or an authoritative religious structure — are always going on about the horrors of secular moral relativism. They’re always going on about how, without a belief in an ultimate divine moral arbiter, we would be morally lost: unmoored, unanchored, unable to distinguish right from wrong, basing our moral choices solely on what we find immediately self-serving or convenient.

But it isn’t the atheists who are excusing, defending, minimizing, and rationalizing the burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno. Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 17 2014

“A Must-Read Book”: Kaveh Mousavi on “Coming Out Atheist”

I saw a fundamental respect for all of these different walks of life in the book. Greta Christina never goes off the grid, assuming things about people, forcing a view from a dramatic point of view. This is not a revolutionary book, written with the content to enlist as many soldiers to the cause with disregard to their individuality and safety – Greta Christina very clearly states that “we want no martyrs”. This is not a pamphlet. There is genuine sense of concern for the safety and well-being of the reader. It’s a humane and empathetic book. Ultimately, that’s even more reason to love this book.

On the On the Margin of Error blog, Kaveh Mousavi has written a review of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why — one that’s both very flattering and very thoughtful. I’m going to give you one more quote, where he talks about why this book is valuable even to atheists who are already out:

Of course, I’m not the intended reader of this book – I’m an already an “out” atheist, in a situation that being out is not quite pleasant, so I need no convincing that coming out is a good thing to do, and I have already burned all the bridges so coming out tips may not be useful to me now because it’s too late – but this book is quite valuable for another reason. To me the main value of this book was that it helped me to understand other atheists from other walks of life and their struggle better. I could understand things like struggling with families and friends, etc.

Coming Out Atheist cover 150Mousavi is an atheist in Iran, and his perspective on the book’s “Theocracies (Overt and De Facto)” chapter is particularly insightful. I researched that chapter extra-carefully, and was happy with how it came out (as is Mousavi) — but I am wishing I’d gotten his input before I finalized the book. He has ideas and perspectives on the topic that are very valuable. If I write a second edition, I’ll almost certainly incorporate it. Check it out!

Here’s ordering info for the book, in all formats — ebook, print, and audiobook.

Ebook 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:

The print edition is now available through 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 records: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

You can also get it through your local bookstore — it’s being distributed by standard wholesalers (including Ingram and Baker & Taylor), and most bookstores should be able to get it.

The print edition is $17.95 USD. It is being 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 on Audible. And yes, I did the recording for it! (It will very likely be on Amazon and iTunes soon.)

Apr 16 2014

“Coming Out Atheist” Is Out!

Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why is now available!

Coming Out Atheist cover

Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, my guidebook to coming out as an atheist and supporting one another in doing it, is now available! It’s available in ebook, print, and audiobook editions. Here’s the ordering info! If you know people who you think would be interested in this book — please spread the word!

Ebook 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:

The print edition is now available through 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 records: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

You can also get it through your local bookstore — it’s being distributed by standard wholesalers (including Ingram and Baker & Taylor), and most bookstores should be able to get it.

The print edition is $17.95 USD. It is being 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 on Audible.

The audiobook is also available through Amazon.

The audiobook is also available through iTunes.

And yes, I did the recording for it!

Here is the description of the book, and some wonderfully flattering blurbs.

*

Coming out as an atheist is a powerful, liberating act. It makes life better for yourself, for other atheists, and for the world. But telling people you’re an atheist can be risky. What are the best ways to do it? And how can we help each other take this step?

In this compassionate, friendly, down-to-earth how-to guide, popular author and blogger Greta Christina (Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless) offers concrete strategies and guiding philosophies for coming out as an atheist. Based on hundreds of coming-out stories, the book offers a map of the territory atheists are likely to encounter — and ideas on how to pick the path that’s best for you.

This accessible, empathetic guide reflects a wide range of atheist coming-out experiences. It includes dedicated chapters on:

Family
Friends
Spouses and Partners
Work
The Internet
Parents
Students
Conservative Communities
The Already Marginalized
and much more.

For atheists who are already out, it gives practical ideas on how to help others join you in the sunlight. And for atheists who are on the fence, it offers guidance on making that decision — and gentle encouragement to take that step.

Inspiring and realistic, kind and powerful, Coming Out Atheist is the much-needed guidebook atheists have been waiting for.

Author Greta Christina is donating 10% of her income from this book to atheist organizations, charities, and projects.

REVIEWS

“Witty, wise, helpful, and humane, this clear and engaging book is most timely. ‘Coming Out Atheist’ is a great resource for the many Americans out there who have rejected religious faith and are moving towards embracing, acknowledging, and proclaiming their atheism.”
-Phil Zuckerman, Ph.D., author of “Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion” and “Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment” Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 15 2014

“They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people.”

noah still

Ari Handel, co-screenwriter of the movie “Noah,” on why the cast was all-white:

From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn’t matter. They’re supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

And then:

You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, “Let’s make that not a factor, because we’re trying to deal with everyman.” Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, “Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?” That’s irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they’re operating on the mythical plane.

Because white people are “stand-ins for all people.” White people are “everyman.” Whereas people of color or a mixed-race cast “calls attention” to race.

He actually said this. In words.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

In case you were in any doubt about how whiteness is seen as normal and default, and non-whiteness is seen as other: This.

You know what? If the issue of race “doesn’t matter” and is “irrelevant,” then why not make a mixed-race cast? If it doesn’t matter, then how about not being a racist douchebag?

And the thing that really gets to me — well, a thing that really gets to me — is that they actually thought about this. This wasn’t just generic, unconscious, reflexive racism of thoughtless omission. They actually considered this question carefully — and after this careful consideration, decided to make white people the mythical, iconic stand-ins for all of humanity.

Oh, and for the record: There are, in fact, people who find mixed casts to be, you know, representative of humanity, and who find all-white casts distracting and weird.

Apr 15 2014

Some Thoughts on Beauty and Ownership

“At last, something beautiful you can truly own.”

jaguar xke in mad menThis is the fictional tagline that Sterling Cooper Draper Price comes up with for the Jaguar ad campaign in “Mad Men.” (It’s in the episode The Other Woman — warning, synopsis has spoilers. Yes, I’m re-watching old episodes, it’s getting me caught up on where we are in the new season.)

And it’s gotten me thinking: What does beauty mean?

So the idea behind this tagline, and the ad campaign, and indeed this entire episode, is that the Jaguar XKE is like a mistress: beautiful, sexy, desirable, impractical, temperamental, unpredictable. And the tagline is, “At last, something beautiful you can truly own.” The implication being that you can’t really own beautiful women, and that many men feel this is a sad sad thing (one of the major themes of this episode) — but you can own a Jaguar XKE. You can get that sense of deep satisfaction from it — and you can keep it, and own it, and have that experience of beauty whenever you like.

But the thing is, as Michael Ginsberg himself says (the copywriter who comes up with the campaign and the tagline): It isn’t just people who you can’t own and keep. It isn’t just people who are elusive and changeable. Possessions are like that, too. Or at least, the experiences of pleasure we get from possession are like that. As Michael says when he’s pitching this idea to Don: Even very rich men, who already own many beautiful things, are still dissatisfied. The beautiful things they have aren’t enough. The Jaguar ad promises that this thing — finally, at long last, unlike all the other things — will satisfy their longing for the unattainable.

It’s a false promise, of course. And I started thinking about why that is.

Beauty is, literally, in the eye of the beholder. And by that, I don’t mean that it’s a matter of taste or opinion (although of course, that’s also true). I don’t mean that different people experience different things as more or less beautiful, or that duck-billed platypuses see each other as beautiful and see us as fugly. Well, what I mean is close to that.

I mean that the experience of beauty is literally in the eye, or the brain, of the beholder.

I mean that beauty is an experience.

And that means that it can’t be owned, or kept, or held onto.

Some objects or people are “more beautiful,” in that they’re more likely than others to evoke that experience in more people. But the beauty doesn’t really reside in the objects or the people. It resides in the mind and the heart and the body of the beholder. And trying to hold and own and keep this experience of beauty is actually what makes it slip through our fingers. Letting transitory experiences be what they are is what lets them sink in deeply and resonate throughout our lives. Struggling to keep them, to make them permanent, is what makes them slip away — and makes us miss the point.

megan-don-draper-mad-menIt’s one of the themes of this episode (and indeed of the entire freaking series). When we try to hold and own and keep the people in our lives who give us pleasure and satisfaction and a sense of beauty, we actually drive them away. And when we take them for granted, when we act as if they’re ours forever and we never have to do anything else to keep them around, we drive them away. It’s only by letting people be who they are, by not taking them for granted and respecting their right to make their own damn decisions, that we deepen our connections with them — and increase the chances that they’ll stick around. If you love something, set it free, and all that. Except that if it comes back, it still isn’t yours. It never was. We don’t own each other. We can’t.

blue suede shoesEven with objects, ownership often doesn’t work. Often, the experience of beauty is one of surprise. We tend to get inured to the beautiful things that are all around us. (I think this is one of the reasons I like buying new clothes and putting together new outfits: I like seeing myself in a new way, so I can more easily see myself as beautiful.) Part of the experience of beauty is the experience of the extraordinary — and when something is in our life every day, it becomes ordinary. We can find the extraordinary in the everyday, but it takes more work.

And you know how, if you’ve had an amazing vacation someplace, you often have this desire to try to re-create it, to go back to the same hotel and eat at the same restaurants and visit the same museums — but if you do, it isn’t the same? And if the place is amazing again, it’s because you did something different, or saw something you weren’t expecting? That.

We can certainly load the dice. We can own beautiful objects. We can make connections with beautiful people (beautiful in all senses of the word, not just physical). We can create beautiful experiences for ourselves — or experiences that are likely to be beautiful. We can work to make a life that is more likely to create the experience of beauty.

We can own beautiful things. But we can’t own beauty.

Apr 15 2014

“Witty, wise, helpful, and humane”: Phil Zuckerman’s Blurb for “Coming Out Atheist”

Coming Out Atheist cover 150“Witty, wise, helpful, and humane, this clear and engaging book is most timely. Coming Out Atheist is a great resource for the many Americans out there who have rejected religious faith and are moving towards embracing, acknowledging, and proclaiming their atheism.”
-Phil Zuckerman, Ph.D., author of Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion and Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment

Another nice blurb for Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. Thanks, Phil!

The book is being published on April 16, in all formats — print, ebook, and audiobook. Here’s ordering information for all three formats. Enjoy!

Apr 15 2014

Please Help Ed Brayton Fight a Lawsuit

It looks like Ed Brayton, of the Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog and co-founder of the Freethought Blogs network (and all-around great guy), is going to be sued by a white supremacist who doesn’t like it that Ed’s called him a white supremacist. Please help with his defense fund if you can. Even small amounts help — with these fundraisers, they really do add up. Thanks.

Apr 14 2014

“Doubt is Part of Faith” — No, It’s Not

“A sincere faith is often full of legitimate doubts.”

So said someone on my Facebook page the other day. I’ve heard this idea many times before, and you probably have too. If you Google the phrase “doubt is part of faith” you get 15,400 results — 93,600,000 if you don’t use the quotation marks. William Lane Craig has written that “You should expect that by growing into a mature faith, even though you are a Christian, doubt will come into play at some point.” Rabbi Mark Greenspan, in a piece titled “No Faith Without Doubt,” has written, “We sometimes forget that doubt is as much a part of religion as faith. In fact the two are brothers.” Lesley Hazleton, author of a biography of Mohammed, has said that “doubt is essential to faith” and has argued for “a new appreciation of doubt and questioning as the foundation of faith.” Etc., etc., etc.

And you know what?

It’s crap.

It’s not “doubt” if you already know what answer you’re going to get. It’s not “doubt” if you’re unwilling to come to any conclusion other than the one you started with. You are not “doubting” your faith if you’re looking for ways to hang onto it despite your questions and concerns — rather than sincerely questioning whether your faith has any basis in reality.

“Doubt” means uncertainty about the answer. If you’re loading your mental dice to come up with the same answer you started with, that’s not doubt.

I am quite sure that many believers have dark nights of the soul (or the soul-less, since I don’t think souls exist). I am quite sure that many believers have bad, bad feelings about their religions. And they should. But I really wish they wouldn’t call this “doubt.” It’s a misuse of the word: watered-down at best, total self-deluded bullshit at worst.

Doubt is important. Being willing to doubt our settled opinions is how we open our minds and move forward with our ideas. This religious pseudo-doubt defangs the entire idea, and sullies its good name.

Apr 14 2014

“Some of the most potent testimony:” Hector Avalos’s Blurb for “Coming Out Atheist”

Coming Out Atheist cover 150“Greta Christina knows that the philosophy of atheism is incomplete without practical and sensible advice about how to live in a world full of believers. Her fascinating life experience and astute observations of atheists, in or out of the closet, offers readers some of the most potent testimony for why coming out as an atheist will make a godless life better.”
-Hector Avalos, professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, author of The End of Biblical Studies and Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship

Another nice blurb for Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. Thanks, Hector!

The book is being published on April 16, in all formats — print, ebook, and audiobook. Here’s ordering information for all three formats. Enjoy!

Older posts «

» Newer posts