Monday, April 23, 2012

Dr. Who and the Celts


Well, today is just a day in this big universe.  I don't have much to say, but I do have a few things on my mind.

I've become a hopeless "Whovian."  Yes, I am addicted to Dr. Who.  I have just started Season 4.  I love love love it!  It makes me think alot about humanity, where it's come from, where it's going (it kinda does that to you, you know time travel and all).  And it makes me want to BE a time traveler.  Anyone care to invent a time machine?  I'm in!

I think if I could travel in time, as a historian, I would of course love to visit EVERYTHING in human history, from 200,000 years ago onward.  I would be a bit apprehensive about the idea of traveling forward, however.  I definitely have hope for the human species, however I am afraid to hope that we could survive if religion continues to dominate the political realm.  Sorry, but it just seems it is holding us back in every way. (Women's rights, science, gay rights, SCIENCE, and oh, yeah SCIENCE.)

But anyway, I suppose I would take the plunge if given a chance, to see what has happened to ourselves.  Also, seeing our little Earth eventually swallowed by the Sun and disappearing and cooling into a white dwarf would be quite a sight.  Almost a peaceful and serene event, once the fireworks have gone down.  I often think about that - the earth disappearing into the Sun.  No, our world will not last forever.  It will burn.  Which is funny when you compare it to the book of Revelations.  Oh, the Apocalypse.  So many cultures, peoples, and holy books have prophesied this.  Death is a natural part of the Universe.  Deal with it, people.

So, back to time travel.  I think the time period I would most like to visit right now would be...let's see...(difficult decision).  Aha!  Yes, I would like to go to the Iron Age of the Celts.  Because their mythology is AWESOME.  I have always been fascinated by pre-Christian Ireland, and would like to check it out.  Oh yeah, and to meet a Druid? Faeries and spells...Oh and by the way, fairies are EVIL. So, fairy-tales...are usually graphic, originally.

Here is an excerpt from my book called "Irish Fairy Tales" by Jeremiah Curtin:

The Midwife of Listowel

There was an old woman, a midwife, who lived in a little house by herself between this and Listowel.  One evening there was a knock at the door; she opened it, and what should she see but a man who said she was wanted, and to go with him quickly.  He begged her to hurry.  She made herself ready at once, the man waiting outside.  When she was ready the man sprang on a fine, large horse, and put her up behind him.  Away raced the horse then.  They went a great distance in a such a short time that it seemed to her only two or three miles.  They came to a splendid large house and went in.  The old woman found a beautiful lady inside.  No other woman was to be seen.  A child was born soon, and the man brought a vial of ointment, told the old woman to rub it on the child, but to have a great care and not touch her own self with it.  She obeyed him and had no intention of touching herself, but on a sudden her left eye itched.  She raised her hand, and rubbed the eye with one finger.  Some of the ointment was on her finger, and that instant she saw great crowds of people around her, men and women.  She knew that she was in a fort among fairies, and was frightened, but had courage enough not to show it, and finished her work.  The man came to her then, and said:

"I will take you home now." He opened the door, went out, sprang to the saddle, and reached his hand to her, but her eye was opened now and she saw that in place of a horse it was an old plough beam that was before her.  She was more in dread then than ever, but took her seat, and away went the plough beam as swiftly as the very best horse in the kingdom.  The man left her down at her own door, and she saw no more of him.  Some time after there was a great fair at Listowel.  The old midwife went to the fair, and there were big crowds of people on every side of her.  The old woman looked around for a while and what did she see but the man who had taken her away on a plough beam.  He was hurrying around, going in and out among the people, and no one knowing he was in it but the old woman.  At last the finest young girl at the fair screamed and fell in a faint-the fairy had thrust something into her side.  A crowd gathered around the young girl.  The old woman, who had seen all, made her way to the girl, examined her side, and drew a pin from it.  The girl recovered.

A little later the fairy made his way to the old woman.
"Have you ever seen me before?" asked he.
"Oh, maybe I have," said she.
"Do you remember that I took you to a fort to attend a young woman?"
"I do."
"When you anointed the child did you touch any part of yourself with the ointment I gave you?"
"I did whithout knowing it; my eye itched and I rubbed it with my finger."
"Which eye?"
"The left."
The moment he said that he struck her left eye and took the sight from it.  She went home blind of one eye, and was that way the rest of her life.

Isn't that awesomely creepy?

Now all I need is a Doctor.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interesting Jimmy Carter article on Equality

Although I don't agree with Jimmy Carter's statements that certain verses in holy scriptures have been seemingly cherry-picked to exert power and abuse over women (I think religion (majority) has been responsible for misogyny in a lot of ways), I was surprised and rather impressed at this article he wrote called "Losing my Religion for Equality." He actually severed ties with the Southern Baptist church and moved to work with other (non-Christian) leaders to end the mistreatment of women around the world. That is actually really awesome. He even went so far as to say the idea that Eve caused Adam's (and all of humanity's) Fall (thus why she needs to be subjugated) is wrong. Again, I think this is one of the main points of the Bible, but still, good going, Jimmy! Baby steps, baby steps... Here's the Article: Losing My Religion for Equality

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Social and Professional Suicide due to Being “Outed” as an Atheist

I've been thinking about the process of leaving a religion.  It can be social and professional suicide.  I recently was denied a recommendation I needed for a graduate school application because of my lack of faith.  That was a blow!  Yes, professional suicide, if your degree came from an evangelical university.  I'm thinking of writing an Op-Ed article about it.  I've also come to the conclusion that I need to start all over from scratch, since I do not have support anymore.  I will probably go get another bachelor's degree and work up from there, this time from a SECULAR and intellectually stimulating university.

I've also joined r/atheism.  It's been an eye-opening experience.  I've read countless stories of young adults and teens who have been 'outed' to their parents as atheists, and responded to with violence, threats, and verbal abuse.  Some have even been kicked out of their own homes as minors.  What the hell?  Aren't Christians supposed to love people (especially their own children) unconditionally?

Ok, from my former point of view as a missionary kid and active proselytizer, I understand that having an atheist in the family would be shocking, depressing, heart-wrenching, etc.  But what I didn't realize was how much of a threat Atheists are to Christians.  Ok, I can imagine it.  'Atheist' was such a horrible word in my previous life.  Full of mystery, bad connotations and all.  But I have found atheists to be some of the most sympathetic, humanitarian, genuine, hilarious, and intellectually stimulating people on the planet.  I've met some atheists I want to strangle, too, with their lack of concern about society and injustice, but for the most part, they are good-hearted. Infinitely more than the religious crowds.  So, how can you convince a family member that you are not a threat to them?

Well, I was recently 'outed' to my sister and one of my best long-life friends.  It was sort of an accident.  But they asked me point-blank and I answered honestly.  My sister took it very hard.  She cried bucketfuls, afraid for my soul, and yes, I understand her position.  But she refuses to talk about it.  At first I didn't hear from her for over half a year.  Then the next email I got from her, she tried witnessing to me.  That was very frustrating, because she knows me so well, knows how much of a Christian I was before, and that I know the Bible even better than her.  Her best argument was that she knew that I "believed Jesus was just a good person who lived a long time ago, but that was 'just not True.'"  And then proceeded to tell me the basic Christian message.  I was offended.  Offended that she thought I just 'forgot' the gospel message.  So next time I saw her (another six months) I tried to gently tell her I was hurt and disappointed that she had reverted to a tactic she should have known wasn't the issue.  Sigh.  Bucketfuls of tears again.  Maybe that wasn't the best way to approach the subject, but she refuses to talk about it.  I told her to ask me questions, if she liked.  She asked 'what if you're wrong.'  I returned the question to her.  And then she shut down, refusing to 'debate my sister.'

Well, communication has been a little broken, but I think I'm making progress with her.

So, with that frustrating experience, I still haven't 'come out' to my parents, my brother, and my other sister.  I don't know if or when that will happen.

Why does it have to be this difficult?

Here's why, I think: By declaring yourself an atheist, you are immediately a threat to their faith because of their own doubt.  Many Christians spend their lives in doubt.  They wake up every day and try to suppress their rationality, re-read their Bible, and convince themselves that there truly is a loving God up there who cares about them and their daily activities.  Hell is a reality, and Heaven is bliss.  But with so many controversies in the Bible, they have to warp their brains to keep believing a message of love and truth.  They ignore verses talking about God condoning rape, slavery, child abuse, incest and murder.  They read and reread the happy verses, the Jesus verses.  That's what I did back in the day!  So when you say you are an atheist, you are hitting a chord of rationality that they refuse to look at out of fear. Fear of hell and eternal judgment.  Also, they’ve been taught to ‘beware’ of the wolves of the world, and an atheist is the epidome of the ‘the world.’  So, they think an atheist can infect them, like a disease, sucking them into a hole bound for hell.

A second reason I think the term "Atheist" is so threatening to the religious, is that they are convinced that without God, there is no morality.  They fight their daily 'sinful' thoughts by cleansing themselves with thoughts and prayers to God. Pleadings, really.  They think they are innately sinful, because it is what has been forced upon them from the top down in religious groups.  Unfortunately, I bet that the sinful struggles they fight against are really not wrong!  Homosexuality, sexual feelings and thoughts, pornography, and doubting God.  Bible-based morality is warped.  It leads to sexual repression, low self-esteem, and thinking you are a worm, bound for hell because God does not like what you think or do.  In my undergraduate studies I went to chapel and listened to a horrifying lecture called "You are a Worm, deserving of Hell."  Great, huh?  I remember stalking out of the building, angry as Hell.  But unfortunately, they also think that without God, they would start wanting to murder people, rape women, and other such horrible things.  They truly believe they will do these things if they do not have a god to tell them what to do.

So, when a family member exposes themselves as an atheist, their feelings of being threatened rise up like a storm against their loved one. And they are afraid.  Afraid of hell for their family member, afraid they have failed, and afraid for their own belief system.

Unfortunately, this is what we have to face when we are 'outed', whether by choice or accident.  The best thing to do?  Well, keep being nice, keep interacting as best as possible, keeping yourself out of harm, and insist that you are the same lovable person they've always known.  And hopefully things will improve.  If not, well, you may end up ostracized.  But there is a huge uprising of atheists contactable on ex-Christian forums online, YouTube channels, and sites like Reddit (r/atheism).  Look it up if you need the support!

As for me, I am dealing with the question of whether to 'out' myself to my parents.  I am afraid for my mother, because she is mentally fragile.  She went into a deep, suicidal depression when her dad almost died without accepting Christ.'s a touchy business.  If it does happen, however, I will definitely be blogging about it!