What the kids are posting


Another installment of “What the Kids are posting” a novel approach to collecting reddit/r/atheism posts and putting them in one place.

Again, not a fan of all these messages, but it’s sometimes worth exposing yourself to what’s out there.

 

Scumbag missionary: “People who have never heard of god and jesus don’t go to hell.” Tells everyone about god and jesus.

 

Temple Baptist church sign says, “Your willful absence from church is your vote to close it.” 

Advertisements

Moment of Sunset Zen


I recorded these few moments of sunset on my iPhone the other evening. I thought it was a good thing to post on this day of memory and reflection, in which many of us look at the sky a little differently since 9/11.

This view above is interesting to me. While many look at the beauty of the sunset and see a deity, I see the wires in the way obstructing the view. The wires remind me of the manmade views of the heavens.

Take away the wires — take away humanity’s dirty fingers — and it’s all natural. It’s happened for ions. And whether you were there to see it or not, it’s there.

The sun is setting all the time somewhere. And galaxies and galaxies are moving millions of light years away. Our one star pales in comparison to the stars that fill gaps of space. We only get a minuscule fraction of the beauty of the universe.

Is that the flexing muscle of a deity or the magnanimity of a universe that is outside of the measure of human understanding, but is becoming more understandable everyday?

Julie Ferwerda sings the hits


Over at Facebook, resident believer and promoter of a sort of academic approach to belief Julie Ferwerda posted an update in which she says that — after researching Islam — she gets why people become atheists.

Mind you, she isn’t giving up on God or her faith. Over the past couple years, Julie is changing the way she looks at religion, and the way it has been manipulated by human hands throughout history.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with Julie on her stand for belief. Whether you call it religion or faith or promotion of god, Jesus, the holy spirit, whatever, I don’t find any good reason to believe in deities.

What I agree with her on is the idea that as she’s researching. Through this research, she’s becoming more empathetic to other ideas, ones that stand to challenge hers to their core.

Many Christians don’t do what Julie does. Many Christians claim not to understand one iota of atheism. Or if they do, they claim they were atheist once, and they designate themselves the messengers of fear to the rest of the group.

“Don’t be an atheist. I was, and it SUCKS!!!” 

This will be a crass metaphor, but for many Christians to claim they were once atheist is the equivalent of a heterosexual claiming they were a homosexual without actually sealing the deal with a sexual encounter. Someone maybe thought through some ideas of what it might be like to kiss a member of the same sex. They might have dillydallied on a gay porn site.

But to take the dive into atheism and then resurface as a bettered Christian … bollocks.

Atheism doesn’t require you to stay an atheist. We have no exit gauntlet. There’s no penalty. But to really question makes resurrections and deities extremely difficult to come back to.

I find a connection with Julie. I see her updates on Facebook, and I appreciate the updates that often challenge her base of believing friends.

When I saw her update, I wrote:

Try wiping the sinister grin off my face.

Honk.

It wasn’t to say, “Ha! You’re on the road to atheism.” It was to say, “I followed this path, and I appreciate your openness about it, and appreciate you spreading that message.”

When I was searching and researching, I found little to no help in my friends and family. No one I knew dared go the lengths that I was going to ask the questions I was asking. When I grazed the surface during conversations with my dad, close friends or my brother, they’d never heard of half the books I was reading.

They were often offended.

They made it feel like a pejorative to question.

I’m still a chicken to write and post to Facebook my thoughts on life. That’s what this blog is for.

And frankly, I have better conversations now with those same loved ones, since I started the blog and they read it, than I ever did before. That’s the power of communication, the power of expressing vulnerabilities, and the power that our conversations might reach the blog have on people.

I hope Julie sees my response and this blog post as more of an encouragement. I want others to be encouraged by her brazen efforts to challenge her long-held position on belief.

I don’t care about proselytization for atheism. Atheism is a hated community. In some regards, it’d be much easier if I didn’t call myself one. Agnostic would probably make many of my loved ones more comfortable. Hell, loved ones would prefer liberal Christianity, I’m sure.

Appearance of ignorance

There’s one more thing that Julie said that struck me. She said that the atheists she knows must look at her, read her, or hear her and think she’s ignorant for some of the things she says. And while atheists bitch and moan about statements from ignorance, I have to say, the idea that Julie made that statement, separates her from 99.999999123421% of believers.

Keep up the good work, JF.

I hope more people follow your lead.

 

My 9/11


Ten years ago today, I woke up for work to my clock radio set to NPR. Michele Norris or one of the newscasters was talking about something major in New York City.

It was a typical day in Chicago. I woke up around 7:15 or 7:30.

On the radio, Michelle was saying, “Smoke is rising from one of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center,” she explained. “At this point, it appears to be an accident. A plane has crashed into one of the buildings. We don’t have any more information.”

I walked over to the TV. I turned it on. I never watched TV in the morning. But I figured something like this must be covered by regular TV. I didn’t have cable.

As soon as I turned the TV on, I saw images of what the radio voices were describing. Smoke was rising from near the top of a New York City building. I was ignorant of the New York skyline, so it was Greek to me.

In the voices of the radio personalities, there was definitive panic behind the “calm.”

I grabbed the phone. I called Tina. She picked up.

“Hello?” she said.

“Did you hear the news?”

“I’m looking at it now.” She had been on a morning TV kick for a couple months, and they were covering the story … just like everybody else.

We were on the phone when the cameras were pointed at the building. Eery black smoke wafted from it. Suddenly an airplane entered screen left and hit the other tower.

Profanities flew from my mouth. “Holy shit, did you see that?”

Tina said yes.

We watched in awe as the newscasters tried to say that this must have been a coincidental accident on the same day into the other building. At that point, no one knew anything about anything.

After a few moments, I said, “I’ll call you back. I gotta call my parents.”

I called my parents’ home line. My mom picked up. I was panicking. I asked if she’d seen the news. She said yes. Her words were something to the effect of, “They did it again.”

Key word: “They”.

“Who’s the ‘they’, Mom?” I asked.

She explained it was the same people who bombed the World Trade Center in the 90s. Back then, I didn’t give a shit about such things. I guess I didn’t care. I was a dumb Christian at a dumb school at the time.

Mom explained that the Muslims were probably to blame.

I knew shit about Islam.

At the time, I was a robot. Despite the world changing catastrophic event, I looped my tie, pulled it tight, and went to work. I caught a bus. Pushed myself on a train. It was run of the mill.

At one point, a guy got a phone call. He answered. He said, “In New York? Really?” He hung up and said to a nearby passenger, “Something happened in New York.” The other person said, “What?”

He said, “A plane flew into a building.”

“You didn’t hear?” I piped up. “Two planes flew into buildings in New York City.” I didn’t explain that “They” did it.

I was surprised so many people didn’t know about the attacks. It seemed that the majority of people didn’t know anything. I felt like a celebrity of sorts explaining to the group what happened.

After I got to work, everyone was in the know. People were panicking. The building I worked in was surrounded with cops as it was one of the biggest buildings in the city (but not the tallest).

Soon after the towers collapsed, there was an announcement that we could leave work. I was so scared and out of my mind, I left without Tina.

After a few hours, Tina and I met at her place.

Then, just like everyone else, we watched the news for the next week as America picked up the pieces.

My view of the world would never be the same. I’m not sure many Americans felt any differently.

9/11 gave me the strength to walk away from religion and faith.

For others, it made their faith stronger.

Ahhh, perception.