Tag Archives: religion

Confession of an Atheist: God exists.

There has, over the last few years, been a slow boiling discussion among some of the people I admire, here in the land of the internet, about God.

When I have time and energy I intend to examine this in more detail, and give credit to everyone- they all spoke persuasively and with critical intelligence.

But right now I am very tired. There is just a little time to get to shelter before the storm hits, and I find myself wondering if I have enough energy even just for that.

So here it is.

God exists.

God is an idea.

God is not only an idea- he is an ideal.

God exists- not as a spiritual or mystical being- but as a pattern of approved behavior coded into the minds of the people who are socialized into His religions- true believer or unthoughtful backslider or holiday attendee.

God is a character in a story. Unlike most stories, the story God occurs in is called religion.

So instead of the readers reading the story and deciding what to think about that character, readers are told, from every direction and on as many levels as possible,

-that THIS character decides what THEY think.  That Wrong is disagreeing with this character and Right is agreeing with Him.

If Zie does somehow exist as a spiritual or mystical being, somewhere out in the universe, it does not change the fact that this pattern of approved behavior exists. It does not change the fact that it gets coded into the minds of those who have been socialized this way- that this Thing is called god- the One and Only.

I will also kick Zier in Zeir goddamn shin if we ever meet- for  leaving us to wallow in this slop that passes  for divinity.

Because God- as described in the book that so many take as literal fact- and so many other take as useful metaphor-

-is a shallow, blustering, gaslighting, rageful, moronic rapist of a homicidal narcissist.

God is the personality (even if as an atheist you don’t believe he is also an actual person) who forms people’s ideas of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

God is the Father.

Because God isn’t an Abusive Boyfriend. God is an Abusive Parent.

Because America has Daddy issues.

And America went out and got a Boyfriend just like Daddy.

 

 

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Evidence that Demands a Verdict- Part II

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Mom, you’re straight.  It’s like- you can live in the world of swollen lymph nodes.  You can keep your friends, and agree with your mentors and feel loved by your god and repeat whatever shite they say about gay people- without it ever effecting you personally- even if it’s horribly and terribly wrong.

And that’s fun and relaxing and comforting. And who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want that story to be true? I get it.
But do you understand that I don’t get that luxury? Do you understand that I have to live in the world of tumors?
Do you understand what it’s like to be a tumor?
***

Well – I might understand what it’s like to be a tumor…. I don’t know. I have taken some positions that are very unpopular, and have been despised for it. We all make our own choices. I stand by mine no matter what anyone else thinks, because I believe my positions are right. You just have to figure out what you truly believe is right (not other peoples’ opinions) and then live it.  And also you have to try not to feel sorry for yourself if others don’t agree. That’s pretty universal.

I see no “victims” here. Only choices, and the courage to stand by the choices you make. Who is treating you like a tumor?

Hey – do you still feel like coming out and doing your craft with [minor sister] tonight? If you do, you have first priority.

But if you don’t, we might go over and help [adult brother] with some things at his house tonight. (The sellers left a huge pile of garbage on his curb for the big garbage pick -up day Saturday, but now the city is telling [adult brother] they don’t want to take it unless it’s “organized”.) Either way is good – let me know how you’re feeling.  Love you!

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No!  The problem is people are treating me like a lymph node! Like this can’t be true!

I am thinking of [adult sister] in particular here- saying that this was a lie of Satan- but I’ve gotten the distinct feeling that its being talked about behind my back this way- Grandma sent me a note with the same reference to the ‘lies of Satan’  without coming out (har har) and saying what she was talking about.

Unfortunately it’s not a lie. Nor am I just saying this for attention.  Instead, unfortunately, I am the abominable thing that our people think is out to get them.

I been dealing with this actually for a long time now- when I was still gung ho about Christianity and everything.  When I believed that that version of the religion was true, when it wouldn’t go away, I was perfectly content to just be single forever- its not like I’m any good at dealing with PEOPLE anyway.  I prefer hiding in a pile of books.

I didn’t set out to be this way.  If I had had a choice I would have chosen something else.

Do you believe me?

***

(one week without reply)

So there we go.

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[name], I responded to your email. I wrote it in a letter, which is sitting on my desk. But all week, I have not put it in the mail because I believe you will despise what I have to say and just turn and rip into me. It has just been so nice having you stop by.  I am so sorry. Would you like me to drop it in the mail, or wait until you come by the next time?  Love you.

***

It should be a pretty simple answer, Mom. Do you believe that I’m giving an honest account of my own physical sensations or not?

If your answer is no, just say it.  No amount of rationalization or long winded explanation is going to make that answer easier.

***

Yes, I believe you have same sex attractions.  I stuck the long winded explanation in the mail yesterday.

Love you!

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Hi mom!

I finally worked up the nerve to empty my mail box and read your letter.  I have to tell you that I disagree and object to almost everything you said.

However, I am thankful that you were willing to tell me.  The visits home were getting increasingly tense for me- knowing there were things you weren’t saying and trying to guess what they were.

I appreciate it!

***

Fair enough, [name]. I love you!

***

Hey!  Could you email me the text?  I think probably neither of us wants to get into a debate, but I journal on my computer as a way of processing. It would be helpful for that.

***

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Some problem?

I mean, I could scan it in but that would mean checking to see if the library had one or using Grandma [name]’s scanner, and both of those would be kind of a hassle.

Make my poor sad life easier here?

***

WELL OKAY THEN

 

 

End of the Endless

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My father died on Monday. He was buried on Friday. He had an aggressive cancer that he left untreated because “God told him” that he could heal it himself by taking extra Vitamin C and by giving himself enemas with coffee.

His dad had a similar cancer a few years ago.  He had a doctor advise him on treatment, instead of God. Grandpa is alive and cancer free to this day.

One time, before he got so bad, I argued with dad about his decision. The books and articles “God was using” to direct his treatment sounded distinctly like conspiracy theories to me. The conversation ended when he told me I was making him think he was crazy and roared at me to GET OUT.

Which I did.

I was very angry.

I was in the process of moving out already. Not because I had enough money.  I just couldn’t stand being home anymore. It was too crazy making.

Towards the end, when it was clear that he was going to die, he wept pretty frequently. About even little things. It’s possible the tumor was growing into his brain. It had started in his throat, after all. One day he wept and told me he was so sorry he had yelled at me- that day when we argued.

I was sad too. I didn’t give a flying fuck that he had yelled.

The evening after his death I went to see my family. The front room, where he had been all day every day for the past week, hallucinating and begging to be allowed to get up, had been cleaned.

The furniture had been brought back in. The hospital bed had disappeared.

The spring peeper frogs were singing in the ditches. A night wind was flowing through the fields around the house. Someone had set a jar of lilacs on the dresser. Words and phrases from a poem were eddying in the back of my head, but I couldn’t recall them all or fit them together.

The dresser is an antique. I believe it came from his mother. I never knew her. She died in a car wreck when my dad was- 19? Hit by a drunk driver.

He was angry at his dad about something then and moved out.

Dad was born in March- like me. His mother died in May.

The drunk died in the wreck.

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers…
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
                      Frisch weht der Wind
                      Der Heimat zu
                      Mein Irisch Kind,
                      Wo weilest du?
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
“They called me the hyacinth girl.”
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.

-T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Burial of the Dead

The Fish in the Mirror: Get Out While You Can

I first published this story and picture on my other site. The story is based on a story in Louis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings- which I highly recommend. I wrote it hearing it in a British accent, if that makes any sense, and my apologies to Great Britain.

There have been times in my life when I thought I should be trying to save the world. I came to find out that the underlying reality of both my self and the world were quite different than I had thought them to be.

I ended up having to save myself. From salvation. yaaaaaay.

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Sophie

A long time ago, when the world had just begun turning, mirrors were different then they are now. In those days, mirrors weren’t just looking glasses- you could walk right through them- into another world. And the people who lived on the other side could walk right out. They might sit down and take tea with you, if they felt like it.

But it happened that they didn’t feel like it. I don’t know how it began, but they say that the mirror people decided that they would like to live in two worlds, not just one. They gathered up all their armies, and came pouring through every mirror on earth. It wasn’t going well for our earth people, I’ll tell you that.

It was then that the Great Yellow Ancestor arose. The Ancestor was the Emperor, all the way over in China, across the sea. He made a wyrd, a mighty spell, and changed their fates. His magic took hold of the mirror people and swept them back into the mirrors.

It did more than that, too. He put a curse on them. From that day forward, instead of coming and going in their own world as they pleased, they were forced to mimic the ways and clothes of the land they had tried to invade, as punishment. It was so bad that they couldn’t even look like themselves. They had to look like us, in our world, and copy us exactly in whatever we said or did.

That’s why, when you go and look in a mirror, a mirror person comes and looks out at you- looking like you do. It’s the magic of the Yellow Ancestor at work.

Fredrick

Oh come on, Sophie! I asked you a serious question! This is too much, even for you! No one listens to ‘wives tales, or wherever it was you heard that. You’re acting dense.

Sophie

Well it’s not a ‘wives tale, Freddie! A learned man wrote that in a book, after he read it in a book that the learned men in China wrote, who were probably told it by Confucius himself! You’re the one who’s dense.

Fredrick

Well at least I’m being serious.

Sophie

You aren’t either. You’re teasing me to see if I can answer. You don’t really care.

You should care, you know.

Fredrick

Why on earth would I care about mirrors?

Sophie

Humpf.

Fredrick

If you’re not going to answer, I’m not going to stand here and watch you pout.

Sophie

Because of the Fish.

Fredrick

The fish? What are you talking about now?

Sophie.

The Ancestor’s magic isn’t going to last forever, Freddie. One day the Fish in the mirror will wriggle free of the spell. He’ll swim out into our world.

And then it will begin again.

There won’t be any Yellow Emperor to save the earth this time.

Fredrick

More nonsense! Can you imagine? People like us getting free!

The Garden and the Creature: Clay

He took a lump of clay, once

He rolled it in his hands

poked and twisted

He showed you.

this was called ‘a shape’

He pointed out on you

it has a leg, you have a leg

it has a leg, you have a leg

it has a joint, you have a joint

it has a head, you have a head

 

It’s like me!

 

Yes. Just exactly like you!

 

You made it!

 

Yes. Just like I made you.

 

You looked around, suspicious.

 

What else did you make?

 

Everything.

 

(He surely knows everything. He’s answered every question. The Serpent asks you questions, but he never tells you. Not like He does.)

(He’s kneeling to talk to you- like grownups do when you’re a baby and it’s so important)

 

His eyes are shining.

 

That’s right. Only I know everything. That’s why you have to do what I tell you. Only I can keep you safe. Hidden from… monsters. And lions!

If you disobey me, little one, it will make me sad. Very sad. Because you’ll die.

 

What’s ‘die’?

 

This.

 

The clay crumpled.

Spurted through His fingers as He closed His hand.

“Even the comatose, they don’t dance and tell…”

The fields were going past the windows.  Half melted, half frozen, dark plowed soil, clotted with snow and spiked with stubble.  The sun was shining on it all.

“Can you answer a question- honestly?”

My week long visit home had been a blur of social visits and playing with the little kids, and my mom going back and forth in the background, keeping everyone up and running. The day before I left I had volunteered to go on a grocery run with her. So that she and I would get to visit. We had talked about stress and the holidays and the friction between her and my sisters, who are still living at home.

She had told me I shouldn’t have low self-esteem and shouldn’t avoid people out of fear of offending them.

This sounded serious.

Not that those other things aren’t serious.

I hesitated then said something that sounded polite, but neither confirmed or denied anything.  I hope.  I don’t quite remember.

“How is your faith?  I mean… how far are you along…” She hesitated, trying to make it not sound bad.  ‘How close are you to apostasy?’  was what she was trying to say, and she eventually said some thing like that.

“I want to know so that I can pray” she finished.

The fields went by for a long time.  Our house is a long ways off from any place that sells in bulk.

“I have a lot of questions”  I finally said.  “I think that if this is all true- answers must exist.”

“But are you looking for answers? Or are you waiting for God to reveal himself?”

This is a trick question.  There’s a verse somewhere.  “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.”  It was a memory verse she had taught us when I was young.  The idea (as we? I? then understood it) was that if you try to figure things out by yourself it is the result of evil self will; pride, that first and most fundamental sin.

Adam and Eve tried to figure things out by themselves. They were cursed and damned by a righteous God.  They and all their descendants were condemned to death and eternal torture.  The innocent animals and all their descendants were condemned to death as well, so terrible was that crime. Like a werewolf falling under the light of the moon, friendly flowers were wracked by the hideous transformation into thorns.  Entropy began.  The stars started to cool and burn out.

But if you wait for God, then eventually he will give/show you what you need.  Like when our Aunt decided to sell her car but not advertise in the paper or tell anyone she knew, but then a week later a guy walked up out of the blue and offered to buy it.  Or when our Aunt decided to become a missionary in England (that horrible hell of darkness and suffering, ungraced  and innocent of the slightest knowledge of Christianity) and then after living there fifteen years someone proposed to her and she got to have a baby and be a mother and that is what she had really wanted all along.   Or how every time our dad made a little more money than we actually needed to survive, something would break or go wrong and we would need the money to fix it, because God only gives you things when you need them.

I thought about this for a while.

“I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.”  I said finally.

After all. How can God reveal Himself to you if you aren’t looking already yourself?  If you weren’t already looking for Him yourself, you might think that all this evidence of Him was actually evidence of something else.  Like human intuition.  Or pure chance.

(And whatever happened to, ‘pray to God, and keep your powder dry’, anyway?)

“How do you pray? What do you pray about?”

The phone rang.  One of my sisters needed to know something, and only Mom could answer.  When the call finished, she reoriented herself, and the conversation went on.

“I pray… dear God- please don’t let me crash this car!”

I do pray like this sometimes. Praying is a deeply ingrained response for me, and when I’m frightened, I pray without consciously reflecting or deciding to do so.   I didn’t mention the fact that my instinctive prayers are now followed by lectures to God on why he really ought to be less imaginary and less evil.  Or by cussing myself out for having asked an abusive genocidal maniac for help.   Maybe that part doesn’t matter so much.  She asked me what I was praying about, not what I think about the fact that I’m praying.

“Hm… foxhole prayers. That’s good. Not crashing is good.” she said meditatively, her eyes on the road.  “But do you pray about your questions?

This time, even more fields went by.

My throat felt creaky.

“I used to pray so much… so intensely…” I looked out the window “I feel like…”

A verse, something about praying on street corners and pagans using many words flew through my mind, and was immediately canceled out by a verse about an unjust judge and a widow.  But I have to say something.  Why not the truth?

“I feel like he either heard me then, or he was never really listening in the first place.”

“What did you pray about so intensely, back then?”

“Well.”

Pages swim before my eyes. Swathes of lined notebook paper, swarming with words.  All of them,  I had written. “Dear God- please, change my heart.  Please, make me want to want you. Please, make me want to love you.  Please make me into the kind of person who will follow you.  Please- let me find you in the end.”

Over and over.

“Well. To know God.  To find him”

“Do you think you have?”

How does one say yes?  That, yes, you found your long lost God.  And you found out he’s a myth.  A dream.  A Nightmare.

“I don’t know.”

“Do you read your Bible?”

Yes.  For the purposes of research.  To see if God is really as creepy as my memories of him now make him out to be.   To try and piece together where the delusions end and reality begins.

“Yes”

“But do you read it academically?  Or do you get anything else from it?  Does God speak to you through the text?”

Do tears of rage and shame and long silences of  despair count?  I try to read as academically as possible now.

I don’t really know how to spin that.

“Well… do you believe that Aunt and Grandma Speak in Tongues? Or do you believe they’re just making up sounds?”

“No… I don’t really.  But there was this one time with your Aunt.   She and I were praying together, and she saw visions while we were praying.  Things I hadn’t told her I was worrying about because they didn’t seem important, but they were important… she went on to tell the story.  It was a part of our family’s history that I had heard about in other contexts, a time when she had been very uncertain of herself.   “…and the pictures she saw that she described to me were exactly what I was worrying about. ”

So… Aunt is a Psion?  I suppose that explains the car thing.

“While we were praying, God must have plucked those thoughts up out of my heart and just plunked them down in hers!”   She paused and got a little quieter.  “That, for me, gives credence to some of the… crazier parts… of Aunt’s spirituality. Things I am too proud for.”

Well that was like a bottle rocket going off in a trash can.  So my Aunt could possibly have gotten in to Hogwarts (that or else she’s just massively intuitive).   And my mom- who had eight children on the salary of her mechanic husband because she believed there was nothing a person is justified in refusing God… has things’s she’s too proud to do?  And my mom believes its pride to refuse to fake spiritual manifestations that she doesn’t actually experience… not integrity?  Or is she really only refusing in order to avoid social embarrassment and not because its a lie?  And if so- what were her actual reasons for having all these kids?  She suffered a lot of social embarrassment over that.  Or did she simply word it that way as a tribute to her sister’s dedication to a certain way of life, without actually believing that its right to fake stuff?

Not as grandiose as God Being Dead. But still.

“Reading the Bible is hard for me to describe.   I don’t know what part is God and what is my own reaction… what is spiritual and what is simply psychology…”

She seemed to accept that. I don’t remember how the conversation ended.  It seemed to end on good note- a much better note than I thought it would when she asked me if I could be honest.

I don’t know what to think about the fact that I didn’t tell the full truth. Was it wrong? Should I have told, and just let the chips fall where they may?   If I had forced my parents to deal with my difference of belief and opinion, would it be easier for them to consider other view points in general?

Or would they have kindly… lovingly… prayerfully have cut me off?

Would I be allowed to see my little sister again?

Or would I be abandoning her to a Nightmare God?

I suppose I will tell everything, eventually.  When there is less at stake.  But not today.  

We pulled up in the driveway and hop out. We’re Home.

We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team.

I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air, so there
So all the cups got broke shards beneath our feet but it wasn’t my fault
And everyone’s competing for a love they won’t receive…

Dancin’ around the lies we tell
Dancin’ around big eyes as well
Even the comatose they don’t dance and tell

-Lorde

The Light Within You

“Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.   Acts 9:17-19

Among the people I grew up with, the ‘scales falling’ from some one’s  eyes referred to their conversion.  The heart was considered deceitful, above all things.  Before conversion, through the deceitful twisting of their own heart, a person would be blind to important facts that proved why God was good and why they needed to follow him.  At the moment of conversion, God would take over their heart with his Spirit and protect them from its evil attempts to portray reality its own way.   From that point on God would begin to make sense to them in a way he never had before.

A few months ago. I was reading in the Old Testament.  I came across this.

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?  Deuteronomy 20

This was something God is supposed to have told the Israelites.   It sounds rather environmental friendly of him.  I don’t knock signs of environmentalism in anyone, particularly God, given his world destroying tendencies.  But here is the context.

…12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 20

(In case you missed it- not leaving alive anything that breaths includes the women and children. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than being treated as plunder by a conquering army)

Theoretically- the Hittites, Amorites and related groups are being punished.  For their sin.  Their religions involved human sacrifice- child sacrifice even- and because of this, I was told growing up, they deserved to die.  Quite apart from the mental disconnect it takes to believe that murdering innocent children is somehow a just response to murdering innocent children, there’s another problem.

Its that footnote. Footnote [a].

  1. Deuteronomy 20:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

The phrase comes from Leviticus 27.  The chapter is a list of the various things that may be dedicated to God and the rules for each type of object- fields, houses, people, clean or unclean animals.   With the instructions for each type of thing come instructions for ‘redeeming’ it: giving its monetary market value (this applies to the people as well) and keeping it for your own use. Then come verse 28-29.

28 “‘But nothing that a person owns and devotes[k] to the Lord—whether a human being or an animal or family land—may be sold or redeemed; everything so devoted is most holy to the Lord.

29 “‘No person devoted to destruction[l] may be ransomed; they are to be put to death.

In case you were wondering here are foot notes [k] and [l].

  • Leviticus 27:28 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord.
  • Leviticus 27:29 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

There is one other place where the phrase occurs, the story in Joshua chapters 7 & 8.

Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! 17 The city and all that is in it are to be devoted[a] to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.  Joshua 7

Footnotes:

Joshua 6:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them; also in verses 18 and 21.

It would seem that, far from viewing human sacrifice- and child sacrifice!- as wrong, there are certain occasions on which God actually demands these things.  The sin of the Amorites, for which they were being destroyed, was to have sacrificed to the wrong God.

Here is the troubling truth.  Despite anything he or David ever said about God valuing humans, in practice, God doesn’t care about them.  For him, humans have about the same level of importance as houses, fields and animals.

And in certain circumstances, even trees deserve more consideration than we do.

I have never seen scales falling out of anyone’s eyes when they converted.   But I certainly feel as if, slowly and surely, something has been falling out of mine.   For my whole life so far, I thought of this God as good and loving.  Something had gone wrong, surely, that he treated us this way, but the fault was ours.

My whole life so far I have thought of this God as the light.  The Light of the World.

Now, a cryptic phrase of Jesus’ is making more and more sense.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6

If the Light within you is darkness, how great is that Darkness.

Lorde- Team

I love Lorde. And I’m kind of thrilled. Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Muse, Of Monsters and Men- all get played on the radio pretty frequently. Regardless of who else likes them or doesn’t- their lyrics and music impress me a lot. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but this is the first time in my life that music I like is popular.

As in- it’s ok to think that I don’t have to feel spasms of guilt and fear of hell because I think something ‘worldly’ is awesome. And for the first time in my life that it’s ok to think that there are maybe a lot of people who like halfway descent things- and that maybe the majority of mankind isn’t an crawling mass of evil on a slow slide to hell.

Have I fallen prey to pop music? Have I left the Christian Music Ghetto only to stumble into another? I don’t know. All I know is that this sounds like it would qualify as at least a ‘bad’ ‘good’ poem if it were in a snobby literary magazine or whatever. Except- then you couldn’t dance to it.

“Wait ’til you’re announced
We’ve not yet lost all our graces
The hounds will stay in chains
Look upon your greatness
That you’ll send the call out
(Send the call out)

Call all the ladies out
They’re in their finery
A hundred jewels on throats
A hundred jewels between teeth
Now bring my boys in
Their skin in craters like the moon
The moon we love like a brother
While he glows through the room

Dancin’ around the lies we tell
Dancin’ around big eyes as well
Even the comatose they don’t dance and tell

I’m kind of over getting told
to throw my hands up in the air
So there
I’m kinda older than I was
when I reveled without a care
So there

We live in cities you’ll never see on screen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of the palace within my dreams
And you know, we’re on each other’s team
We’re on each other’s team
And you know, we’re on each other’s team
We’re on each other’s team
And you know, and you know, and you know”

Maybe I’m just infatuated. But I don’t really care.

So there. 🙂

names of things and theories

Lately, I’ve been looking away from and outside of the religion I grew up in.  The view doesn’t seem especially encouraging.

I have been thinking that perhaps the religion I grew up in was a fabrication.  I have been studying myths and their origins, and have been wondering if all religions are perhaps fabrications.  They are very odd creature.  They seem to grow and change like living creatures.  Evolving, I guess.

God, as I understood him, is a fiction we wrote.  So I suppose that makes me an atheist?

But when I read about atheism and atheists, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth.   Things like Elevatorgate. And the issues that followed.

http://skepchick.org/2011/07/the-privilege-delusion/

http://skepchick.org/2013/09/my-time-with-richard-dawkins-or-why-you-should-never-meet-your-idols/

Or rape culture.  You can look up stuff about that on your own. Its easy.

I don’t know what my ultimate take away is on all that.  But I was slowly waking up to the fact that there was misogyny woven into the fabric of my culture.  Just in time to find misogyny woven in to the fabric of opposing cultures as well.

And then there are the problems of the Gulag.   And the fact that massacres have been committed (directly or indirectly) in countries where atheism was the dominant worldview just as easily and frivolously as witch hunts and crusades were carried out in areas where religion was the dominant narrative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gulag_Archipelago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Albania    (communist albania section)

http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0273.html  (from what I have read of the first hand accounts, this seems pretty accurate)

It seems to me that there is no escape- no instant salvation if you say a prayer, join a group and just add water.  You can’t leave that ‘evil’ religion behind, and suddenly be inducted into a magical land of ‘good’ atheism.  Maybe you can and I’m just too depressed about my former religion to see it- but I’m too depressed about my former religion to see it.

I’ve been turning over two possible thoughts.

The first is that- perhaps there is a difference between atheism and humanism. Humanism is something I am just beginning to look into.  I can’t claim to know much about it.  Here’s an interesting article.

http://rationalist.org.uk/articles/4458/humanism-for-a-globalised-world

“What then is the humanism that Said wishes to not have thrown out with the bathwater of discredited colonial or racist projects? For him, ‘the core of humanism is the secular notion that the historical world is made by men and women, and not by God and that it can be understood rationally … Or to put it differently, we can really only know what we make.'”

– Priyamvada Gopal

If this is the definition of humanism, it looks like it has more potential than atheism.  The word atheism itself is a negative definition. The atheists I have read so far believe in human evolution, the non-intelligently designed nature of the universe and seem proud of the fact that they have used logic to puzzle this out.  Their science has been untainted by myth. As far as it goes, it seems their facts are correct.

But how far is the mere disowning of an Imaginary Father going to take us?

Is it possible to define ourselves by what we do believe in?  Are we allowed to believe in ourselves?

If there is no God. And we are what has existed the whole time. And we are the people who are creating and have created our subjective experience of human history.

Shouldn’t we crown ourselves emperor?

There is so much we left undone because we had left it in the mighty hands of The Imaginary.

And here, all along, we were the Imaginers.

I don’t know where this leaves me on the subject of religion.

If evolution- guided by survival and survival only- really is what produced us- it seems to have produced in us a deeply felt need for religion. If science has replaced religion, wouldn’t religion now be dying away- withering like a vestigial organ?  But it does not seem to be doing so.  So perhaps religion was not a primitive and now-outmoded form of science in the first place. And if religion hasn’t been functioning as an accurate/inaccurate scientific map of reality- it has certainly been filling some function.  

Given the sway religion has over our world, I would guess the unknown function that religion fills has not withered away either.

Should we affirm ourselves and try to discover and meet our needs, even in our ignorance?

Or should we try to remove this organ- assuming that, since we don’t know its function, it clearly doesn’t have one…?

I am as wary of atheism as I am of theism.  I believe that it is necessary- it is a statement of the facts as, it now seems to me, they are.  But it isn’t a statement of all the facts.

This… this… humanism… is not a position that appeals to me.  In the days of My Faithfulness, this seemed to me the most unattractive of all opposing view points.  I was used to the emotional thrill ride of a god who could order the complete massacre of your race one day, and declare his passionate devotion the next (Exodus 32: 7-14), so perhaps this was simply a matter of emotional education.  In my increasing discontent with the Elohim- YHWH- The One, atheism now appeals to me: as a way to declare a personal vendetta against Him.   This, sadly, is rather irrational.

Humanism, as defined above, seems fairly sane.

This brings me to my second thought.

“Macbeth’s self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare’s evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes…. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations…. Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.”

—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Chapter 4, p. 173

Without evildoers, there would have been no Archipelago- but without an ideology what would there have been?

What if we decided that no theory or religion was ever more important than the lives of our fellow travelers in this world- our brothers and sisters?