Friday, December 19, 2008

SEASONED WITH REASON - Stunning Ignorance

Last night, I got together with a group of women I see about once a month when we gather to make cards and learn new paper crafting techniques. While they are all Christian, I get along really well with most of these women. A few of them are very vocal about their religious beliefs, while I tend to keep mine to myself.

While we ate supper together at a restaurant last night, that became a little more difficult.

I don't recall how the subject came up, but one of the women--I'll call her Mary--said something about "all the fruits and nuts" in California. Mary is the one who once emailed me religious nonsense criticizing Barack Obama for not wanting to run the country by biblical scripture. I wrote a calm, composed response reminding her that there's supposed to be separation of church and state in our nation, that using any religious literature as a basis for government would compromise religious freedom for everybody.

She didn't respond.

So the disparaging, veiled comment about California's gay population didn't surprise me, nor did Mary's comment about California being poised to fall into the Pacific Ocean, destroyed Sodom-and-Gomorrah-style by god. But then, in what I think was an effort to change the subject, another woman said something about political corruption in Chicago, referring (I assume) to the recent scandal involving Obama's Senate seat.

And Mary said, "Yeah, look what happened to New Orleans."

I was flabbergasted. Of course, I know that there are people who actually think that way. They see natural catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina as god's judgment for sin, and even when I was a Christian, I considered that idea utterly preposterous and appalling. I remember people of faith proclaiming that AIDS was god's judment on homosexuality and shaking my head in disgust.

Rarely do I have to sit next to such stunning ignorance, though. Most of the people I know, even the Christians, don't think that way, and if they do, they keep it to themselves. I sat next to this woman feeling a small war within myself. Should I speak up? Should I point out the obscenity of her assertion that all of the innocent people who died in that disaster deserved it because of some imagined "sinfulness" of New Orleans as a whole? Or should I let it go, not afford her the dignity of any response?

That is what I did. I said nothing. I let it pass, but I don't know if that was the right thing to do. I believe, especially after reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and seeing the movie Religulous by Bill Maher, that atheists need to be more vocal and outspoken, to challenge religious dogma in all its unapologetic ignorance.

I didn't do that last night. I'm not sure why.
Read more!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Bah Humbug - Not!
by Denise Beck-Clark

As a Christian acquaintance of mine who persists in sending the sappiest emails, informed us recently, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” I thought, Whew, now I know why everyone is walking around saying things like “Season’s Greetings.” I checked out my Delete key and it worked well... thank the lord.

Another Christian acquaintance of mine gave me a lovely card with a lovely note that she wrote in her English as a second language. She thanked God for knowing me, saying I am a “special person, strong and kind.” Respecting my not being a Christian, she also wrote “Happy Holiday,” thereby avoiding the faux pas she made when we first met and she gave me a very religious card.

The irony is that I am a Jew, as was Jesus, who also, reportedly, was strong and kind. I will show my ignorance here by saying I don’t know what his religious beliefs were, but I have come to understand that I am an atheist. I don’t admit this often, just as I often don’t talk about being a Jew. You’d think that being well into middle age I’d be used to being in the minority, but really I’m not.

Back to Christmas and “the season.” Like many people who don’t believe in Jesus, I still like the season. It’s fun, pretty, and kind. I love Christmas lights, and I love giving and getting presents. There’s really only one thing that bothers me about Christmas, and come to think of it, it’s not really about Christmas at all. It’s about certain people’s interpretation of Christmas. It’s those people in government who forget about separation between church and state. Did you know that in New York State there’s only one day of the year when there are no Lottery drawings? You guessed it. Why is this? I bet if I wanted to undertake the filing of a class action suit we would win.

Unfortunately, I have neither the time nor the money to do this, so I will continue each year to be angry that they withhold my addiction from me every December 25th. At the same time, I suppose I can look at the bright side which is the money I’m forced to save. So, thanks, New York State, for imposing your Christian beliefs on me. Oh, and Merry Christmas. And Happy Holiday, to any one of the many non-Christians who love this country for its guarantee of religious freedom.
Read more!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Christmas!

by writerdd

Hi everyone. Quiet around here lately. I imagine that everyone is busy with holiday preparations, shopping, and travel plans. I've been noticing the annual "war on Christmas" stories popping around the blogosphere and I'd just like to say that I think the best way to win the imaginary war is to celebrate Christmas with abandon -- especially if you don't believe the baby Jesus is endowed with divinity or supernatural powers.

I love Christmas. I love Christmas trees, carols, sappy holiday movies, and the sound of jingle bells. I love the good cheer and the wishes for "peace on earth, goodwill toward men (and women and children)". I love that people will travel halfway around the world at this time of year to be with friends and family. I love that we indulge in family traditions that we ignore for the rest of the year. I love that for one month you can ignore diets and discipline and just enjoy life in its fullest, without guilt. I simply can't help myself and I don't think I should try. I even celebrated when I lived in California with no snow or cold weather.

I think the biggest humbugs are the Christians who make a stink about the war on Christmas, hence squelching the spirit of joy and cheer that everyone else is feeling. They turn a time of joy and goodwill into a time of anger and bitterness. And I'm not playing their game.

Merry Christmas!

How do you celebrate at this time of year? Read more!