Sunday, December 28, 2008

Family & Christmas

Regardless of your belief, like me, I'll bet you have family traditions which transcend most of the dogma attached to the holiday. My family has run the gamut.

As a child my parents played Santa and we had a big meal. On occasion we went to church but it was not the main attraction...the food was!

As a young adult raising my family we ALWAYS went to church. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Service the next morning. It was required!

As an older adult in an empty nest, I just stayed home and waited for the kids to visit during the more church but still lots of food.

I watched as my children struggled to raise their children and do the 'right' thing; whatever that meant. Some embraced the church and some not but they all struggled with the desire to do right by their children.

We were all together for Christmas this year and I realized something...we have arrived!

I am proud of my family and its diversity. Racial, religious, cultural; it's all is often a struggle, sometimes a slide, but only in segments.

The bad times pass as do the good but on the other side we find a new day and a new challenge to endure or enjoy. It is a choice ...

Monday, November 3, 2008

None of the Above

For the first time I will sit this one out because I simply do not see a choice for the good ole' USA. My friend Beast makes some good points here but I don't see great things on the other side either.

I know some of you will say I have no right to complain if I don't vote but please rember; voting is a right not a requirement. I take my vote seriously and I have no choice but to sit it out; I don't see us any better of with either ticket.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why is Atheism Necessary?

Human knowledge has expanded immensely in the last fifty years, and this by the purely scientific method, the materialistic method, and the questioning attitude.

The value of these findings when they can be converted into practical applications in industry are well known to all. We have added nothing to our store of knowledge except by the exercise of our mentality and reason.

The application of the scientific method to the workings of the mind has made more progress in explaining the mindin the brief period of fifty years than philosophical deductions hadmade in the past two thousand years. Every new fact that has been discovered has fitted into the mechanistic scheme of the universe, and not one new fact has been disclosed that suggested anything beyond nature. The theistic interpretation of the universe has been completely discredited by the scientific investigations. Science has brought to theconfines of invariable laws multitudes of problems that had hitherto been supposed to point to "spiritual" interference. Theology has been driven out of the open spaces of reason and still persists in clinging to the twilight zone of the present unknown, only to be driven from its precarious position constantly by our increasing knowledge and with increasing rapidity from shadow to shadow.

The Necessity of Atheism by David Marshall Brooks p 151

That's why.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Let's start a new discussion, what say you all?

It seems to me that the more we discover in our world, the more we can explain, the less necessary the gods become. If one looks at the reason for religiosity and supernatural belief, it is easy to see why it has been and still is, so popular.

So, here is my topic. How would our country differ if religion was truly placed in the background, becoming the minority of the citizenry, rather than the majority?

Monday, September 29, 2008

An Invitation to Rick, et. al.

I'll not argue the merits of an ark of wood built of wood because I think there is a lot more that one should consider when validating that story.
First the story is older than that of the bible retelling:
And then we must look at the logic of the story. Is it possible that a 300 foot ship i.e. ark, could even house the number of animals reported much less the food needed to sustain them all for more than a month?

And finally, if we continue this discussion, and I am willing, we must agree on what is evidence. It must be empirical evidence or it is not evidence.

The dictionary definition of empirical evidence is evidence relating to or based on experience or observation.

Before you come at me with the fact that I did not observe evolution I will conceed. I did not so I will give you that point.

What I will discuss is the existence of a supernatural being. I am not interested in "feelings" or "revelations" I want hard evidence.

Since you DO believe YOU must prove it. I DO NOT believe so there is nothing I can prove.

So are you up for this?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I have recently begun a Phillip Stahl book "Atheism: A Beginner's Guide". I am about half way through the book and I am struck by a comparison he uses. He begins by asking the reader to imagine seeing something in the night sky. The object does not conform to any known airship. Now how does one respond? He gives 4 choices:

  • It's an unknown pure and simple. (This is the atheist mindset.)
  • It's a UFO, a flying saucer and I believe this is evidence for visiting aliens. (This is the believer mindset.)
  • It was most definitely and alien craft....I didn't see the aliens up close but I believe. (This is the fundamentalists mindset)
  • Without knowledge of the is impossible to make a determination. (This is the agnostic mindset)

Although I have paraphrased, I think one can understand the idea. I do not completely agree with all that he writes but Stahl has given me much food for thought as I continue on my journey. It seems that each of us, if not predisposed, develop a mindset that guides us through life.

He writes of his youth in the Catholic church and how he found his way out. His story is like many others I've read over the years and not entirely unlike mine. He states that children are blank slates and natural questioners....yes, but what happens to that natural nature when religion becomes the daily diet? The are taught to close up and not question.

What a tragedy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Religion or Drugs--Same thing!

I found this article this morning while browsing the new sites on the blogroll. Love the comparison between drug use and religion. Addicts are always addicted to something.

I think a great example of addictive behavior is the drug addict who is "saved" in rehab. Or the murderer who finds Jesus in prison..

Monday, September 15, 2008

Everywhere I go!

This morning I made a visit to a doctor's office. (This is a new doctor since I have only recently moved here.)

The first thing I noticed was the absence of any magazines. One must always wait in a doctor's office....however, nothing but a television going on some religious station. I asked the receptionist if there was reading material available somewhere.

"Oh sure," she said and handed me a copy of the Bible. "We give them to all our patients," she proudly spouted. "It's free," she said, "take it home with you."

Okay what did I do? Nothing. But I certainly thought about it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I had an early morning conversation with a close friend this morning and the subject of closure came up. We discussed several events in our lives where closure occurred in strange or unexpected ways.

My friend related her experience in a recent broken relationship. She said she had needed closure and that it came in the form of a terse email with a subtle reference to a new partner. She stated that at that moment she accepted the fact that the relationship was over.

I think the term is overused and overrated. Is there one defining moment when something becomes less painful? Perhaps, but I don't think so. Time is the healer of all wounds, as the saying goes. In the case of my friend as is true in my own experience, time passed, That moment was the culmination of many other moments, hours, days and weeks of suffering the pain and realizing that it was a permanent end to the relationship.

I do think we need closure, but in the sense of time rather than an event. An event may be the point at which one realizes that closure has happened but I doubt that one event makes it possible to store away the pain and move on in one's life.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What can I Say?

I've been away because my daughter has been very upset at my critizism of her religion. She takes it as a personal afront, which I guess it is. I really do dislike all religions but mormoms are particullarly hard to swallow. I have watched my two very lovely granddaughters become bitter and astranged from their families and it hurts. But that said...I am trying not to antagonize her anymore. I guess I need a new cause...any ideas?

Monday, July 21, 2008

I've been busy!

I have heard from several of you about my absence....sorry but life has taken a new turn. I have finally settled down! Believe it or not I think I've taken root and will decide to stay put for a while.

I've missed your comments and the banter so I'm back...however my next post will be a little different...stay tuned.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let's put it in D!

A friend who keeps me posted on the state of the state sent this. I feel compelled to repeat it here.

Frank Burns Lives!
What happens when you mix fundamentalism and the military?

© Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Back in the 70s and 80s, like many people, I watched an old TV show alled "M*A*S*H." It was a sitcom – or at least started out as a sitcom – about some army doctors stationed in a mobile army surgical hospital (hence the acronym) near the front in the Korean war. It was based on the gritty, brilliant and wonderfully funny Robert Altman movie, but was closer to the original Richard Hooker book, which was perky, cartoonish, and didn't delve into the underlying motives and emotions of the characters.

But the subtext was there. If you want to write a play about a stand up comedian at Auschwitz, eventually the comedian has to become aware of, and react to, his surroundings, or it's just empty farce (and despite what every 15 year old wannabee dramatist thinks, tasteless farce, at that). You've got characters who are at least intelligent and compassionate enough to be doctors, and you've forced them to work in a killing field. You can only spend so many episodes having them occupied with nothing more than the taste of the powdered eggs, or boffing the nurses. Then the viewers, sometimes without even realizing why, will get bored.

So the show matured, and the characters grew into three-dimensional people who dealt with the horror with humor and denial. By the end of the second season, it stood on the brink of becoming a great television series.

But there was a problem with one of the central characters. Major Frank Burns was prudish, priggish, overly fond of rules and regulation, and even fonder of inflicting them on others. He wasn't a particularly original character, and his creator borrowed heavily from Colonel Blimp and the aptly named Lieutenant Schiesskopff. The character was played by Robert Duvall in the movie, and by the late Larry Linville in the series. Linville reportedly said that he based Frank's character on "every idiot I've ever known."

The show grew, but Frank didn't. He remained a cartoonish character in a ever more rounded drama, and eventually the writers sent him home to Indiana. He was replaced by the intelligent and sometimes malevolent Charles, played beautifully by David Ogden Stiers. Human and intelligent, he made a much more suitable foil for the rest of the hospital team.

One problem the Frank Burns character had in the TV series is that CBS chickened out and downplayed the main motivation behind the character, which was that he was a fundamentalist. Like many such, he sublimated his obsessive compulsive patterns into religious mania, and the Robert Duvall character gyrated wildly in the movie between damp, furtive sinning and bursts of obsessive prayer and flagellation of others for
his shortcomings. Eventually the character is humiliated into an emotional implosion and is hauled off in a strait jacket.

Serial television shows were just beginning to play with the notion of character development and continuity, beginning with M*A*S*H, but neither Linville nor the writers had a clue what to do about Frank. Without the fundamentalist elements, Frank was just a cartoon. And the network didn't dare say, in effect, "He's a loathsome whack because he prays a lot." In fact, they didn't even dare say that he prayed a lot because he was a loathsome whack. The public, in the eyes of CBS, wasn't ready to accept people who embraced religion because of personal failings and inadequacies. If they had, they could have opened up all sorts of plot and character development possibilities. Eventually Larry Linville, fearing that the deeply flawed role would destroy his career, requested he be written out of the series.

Fundamentalists are drawn to religion both because of the sense of security it offers (all the mysteries and uncertainties of the entire universe are explained in one little book!) and because it allows them both to grovel under authority and inflict their version of authority upon others. In religion, no questions need be asked, and none need be answered.

Of course, it isn't just religion that attracts fundamentalists. Any authoritarian outfit in which they are offered a set place on the pecking order where they can give and receive directives will attract them. So much so that many police departments use their psych test to screen out, among other borderline types, fundamentalists. You don't want to be pulled over by a cop who is sweating, shaking, pointing a gun at you with both hands and screaming that you are defying the will of
the lord.

The military, with lower admittance standards, particularly in times of war, winds up with a lot of Frank Burnses. And because the officers' corps is much more rigid about chain of command and unwavering discipline than are the grunts, a disproportionate number of fundamentalists infest the officers' corps. Now mind you, this isn't just M*A*S*H or Catch-22. This is real life.

Over the past twenty years, fundamentalists have taken control of much of the officer corps in the American military. Given that fundamentalists quite frequently combine sanctimony with an appalling lack of introspection, this results in an officer corps that is willing to excuse even the vilest behavior, so long as it's done by "good Christian soldiers."

There have been numerous complaints in the military, some getting out into the public arena, of forced religious indoctrination, prejudice against non-Christians and non-believers, and a conspiracy of silence to protect the crimes of those acting, in the views of the officers, on behalf of their notion of Christian principles.

An example the other day was that of one Specialist Jeremy Hall , who was sent home from Iraq because he was an atheist. I had to consider for a moment, since my initial reaction was that they were sending the brights safely home while leaving fundamentalists to face hostile fire from their counterparts in the middle east. I had to look for the down side.

The downside is that the fundamentalist personality is authoritarian, and is constantly seeking to increase the range and scope of control it can have over others. This doesn't just make life miserable for the enlisted men; it results in poor discipline and shabby ethics among the officers (Abu Ghraib, anyone?) and, if allowed to grow unchallenged, eventually results in a military officer cadre that will feel morally compelled to attack the civilian authority of the United States in order to save those dissolute and irresolute civilians from themselves, and deliver them unto the harsh and loving authority of our lord Jesus, Amen.

What you have is a military controlled with Frank Burns with a motive. They won't be competent, they won't have the introspection needed to ask themselves if anyone who doesn't share their particular mania might not share their notions of right and wrong.

And they are heavily armed, and deeply antipathetic to the uncertainties of democracies with free speech and individual freedom, and anxious to protect us from themselves.

The present administration won't be any help. One reason Putsch has been such a terrible president is that he is a fundamentalist himself. But the next dministration is going to have to take the courageous stand that Jesus was not an American general, and just because he prayed a lot, Frank Burns was not a hero.

Politics is like driving. To go backwards, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.

More on the meaning of life

I just returned from Reno and a visit with my aging (84) aunt, whom I love dearly. She moved to a retirement home in Carson City with her husband 7 years ago. He husband died two weeks after they moved into their apartment. She has lived alone since. I visit her as often as I can because she is like a mother to me since I lost my own.

My visits with her are always a mixture of love and hate, happiness and sadness, meaning and meaninglessness:

I love seeing her and spending time with her. She is funny and delightful to be around. I hate seeing her suffer with the aches and pains, the constant trips to the doctor and the knowledge that her life will soon be over.

Her happiness is most obvious when I go with her to the dining room where she sits with two gentlemen and a lady, almost like a double date she says, and she smiles and tells a joke she has heard or one sent to her by email. She delights in every moment and laughs demurely and maintains an air of grace and sophistication that would be haughty on someone else. I see her sadness when she tells me that her children don't visit very often (they live nearby)and that it's okay because she knows how busy they are.

Her life has so much meaning everyday. She laughs, she send funny email, she goes on double dates and flirts with the guys at her table, and the young waiters in the dining room. So much love and enjoyment, so much meaning. Her life has so much meaning; her death will be meaningless because her life is and was so full.

I will miss her but I will not mourn her death.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The purpose of Life

Listening to NPR is my daily habit. Recently Rick Warren who wrote "The Purpose Driven Life" made the statement that without god there is no meaning in life.


It means nothing that I rise every morning, make coffee, watch the sun come up while my dog sits on my lap and contemplate the things I will do this day?

It means nothing that I go to work and my boss and coworkers are glad I'm there and that what I do makes a difference in someone's life?

It means nothing that I go to lunch with my daughters or my son and that we laugh about something that happened a long time ago?

It means nothing that my grandson calls me on the phone just to tell me he loves me?

It means nothing that I go home in the evening, take my dog and myself for a walk, enjoy a drink with a neighbor or friend, eat dinner, watch a movie and settle into bed with a good book?

There is no god in my life but there is great meaning.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Science Fiction Fantasy

I found this on Secular Earth and am reposting here for those who might miss it otherwise.

I am in shock! I can't believe that the museum puts up with this. And what about those kids? I call it child abuse and museum abuse!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Separation of Church and State

Last night I attended a simulcast event from an organization I found through a local atheist chapter. It was facinating! I came away ready to become an activist.

Don't know how much time I'll have for it but my first act is to ask all of you to go to First Freedom First and read up on what is going on in this great country of ours.

Then, please, sign the petition.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Celebrating Death

I have long felt unnerved by the Easter religious celebration but this truly takes the cake.

Today I received a "little story" from my daughter. It is too long to post here but the gist is that three trees are standing in the woods dreaming about what they will be when they grow up.

The first wants to be a treasure chest filled with gold an silver.
The second wants to be a great ship that carries kings and queens across great oceans.
The third wants to remain on the hill so he can be close to god.

The first is made into a horse trough, the second into a rowboat and the third into little pieces. It so happens that these trees then wind up in Bethlehem when a certain virgin gives birth to a baby boy. The trough is the manger, the second, which was made into a rowboat carried the grown up baby on some mission and the third became the cross upon which the baby died!

What a morbid story! How can anyone gain inspiration from that?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thank god?

Last night I caught a few minutes of an old Law and Order SVU episode. In this one a 14 year old girl is found to have a venereal disease. When her father is told he practically disowns her. However, when he is told that she was raped, his reaction is "Thank god, she did nothing wrong." Thank god? His daughter is raped and becomes ill and he is glad that she was raped ???

I know it was a TV show but it reflects our society in many ways. Do you ever wonder why? Religion and the belief that women are less than human. Check out this article about the bible's take on women.

Thank god? I don't think so.

Friday, February 29, 2008

My Horoscope

Recently I received an email from a friend who was all excited about her horoscope. She was sure based on a few lines in the newspaper that her life was about to change.
She was also sure that it would be a change for the better.

It got me thinking...

My friend is not a believer but yet her horoscope brought out many of the same reactions that believers display when they feel god has answered a prayer.


I decided to check out my own horoscope. I went to several sources and below is what I found..

You should be able to enjoy a fairly calm day today as the shifting planetary influences lighten up again, but don’t be too surprised and don’t read too much into news from afar, or into an unexpected phone-call. Rumor and gossip will provide what is essentially non-news. Ignore it!

Cancer (June 22-July 22): Your idea of the good life might seem frivolous to someone else, just as that person's is difficult for you to relate to. The theme today is, "It takes all kinds." You appreciate the difference between you.

This is a good day for expressing your ideas. Others may find you especially witty and eccentric just now. You may feel like talking a bit more than usual, exploring new ideas or getting happily lost in a conversation. There is an urge to communicate. Also, perhaps a short trip or a special phone call is in order later today. Neighbors or brothers and sisters will likely bring all kinds of good experiences your way. You can demonstrate great understanding and sensitivity to others. Your image is highlighted, increasing your self-confidence. You can do anything you set your mind to do this day. This may be a time you play with some new ideas for future goals. If you are looking for a romantic match, look in new places for new faces--smile.

Cancer (June 22-July 22). Today is a 6. You should be feeling better, with an old obligation resolved. Reward yourself with an outing to your favorite foreign restaurant. You've earned a special treat.

A friend or family member could be feeling rather grim and taciturn, and not open to communication. You may be wondering if you've done something wrong, or if this person is angry with you. If you use your innate warmth and generosity of spirit to induce him or her to open up, dear Cancer, you'll probably find that your loved one has issues that have nothing to do with you - and you might even be able to help! Tonight: Prepare everyone's favorite meal!

CANCER: Test the waters. There could be a passing hunger to experiment with new ideas or concepts. Broaden your outlook by discussing New Age ideas or exotic lifestyles. A quick fling could prove disruptive.

So… I should have a calm day while someone is starting rumors about me…appreciate the differences when someone thinks I’m frivolous. I should express my ideas while talking too much but maintaining self-confidence because I can do anything! I need to look somewhere else for romance and smile while I do it. I am supposed to be feeling better because some bill I owed is no more…ahh and reward myself with a special treat…good..I'll use my recently paid off credit card. However, someone in my family is not feeling so good. He is probably angry because he somehow got my credit card bill!

And now after all that, I am suppose to make a fancy dinner, go swimming and have a fling while discussing New Age ideas!

Well at least I’m not waiting for my prayers to be answered.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Recently I have a lot of people praying for me. I guess I need it because my life has taken a turn for the worse…maybe. I made some choices that were, perhaps, hasty. Some of those choices have not produced the expected result. But why is it “god’s will” for me to make bad choices? These same people keep telling me that god loves me. He wants to take care of me because he is benevolent. He knows about my problems, because he is omniscient. He could fix it with the snap of a finger because he is omnipotent.

Ahh…they say but “free will” is in the mix. So: he knows me and allows me to screw up, he is able to prevent my pain and doesn’t and he loves me….

Please don’t love me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Children and God

I recently started a new job. Although I have worked with children in the recent past, my exposure to them was limited to 30-45 minutes a week. Now I have the total responsibility of 17 little darlings all day long, 5 days a week. I don't know what I was thinking!

All that aside, I recently over heard several students in a heated argument about the orgin of man...MAN...not mankind. Now please keep in mind that these students are 8 years old.

A very snappy little girl said, " I don't care if god did make the man first, he saved the best for last ."

Then a rather indignant young man retorted, "Well, you still have to do what we say because you are made with one of our ribs."

An then the conversation starter, " You're both wrong because people were born from monkeys and that makes us all equal."

Of course, the bell rang and I had to put a stop to the dialog but oh how enlightening to find that at least one of my students has been exposed to reality.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Religion and Divorce

I recently read here that 20% of Catholic and Protestant marriages end in divorce within the first 5 year. The stats for Jewish marriages is 40%.

Looking further at this site I found that the number one reason say they got a divorce is because "She was unfaithful". The last was because, "I was unfaithful".

I have to ask...what are the stats for non-believers?

Does it make a difference? Are the numbers comparable?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In the beginning...

Last week my son came over for a drink and some conversation. We usually have deep conversations about life, politics or religion. We are of about the same persuasion however we do not always agree; which keeps it interesting. Often we recommend books to each other and exchange ideas about those we read.

Some time ago he recommended Karen Armstrong's work. He brought it up again and this time I heeded the call. Off to the library for new supply of reading material.

I completed the first of the three books I obtained: In the beginning. In all fairness I think I did read this months ago but I certainly did not get out of it what I did this time. I am following up with A Short History of Myth by the same author.

I remember a book club discussion of Joseph Campbell's Hero of a Thousand Faces which was my first exposure to the idea that the christian story was not original. The book of Genesis, as interpreted by Karen Armstrong gives me a new look at those stories and the impact they have had on civilization.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Holy Days

Holidays are for family.

We've heard it all our lives but what happens when the "holy" in holiday becomes overwhelming?

My family is diverse. We have several ethnic groups represented along with differing religions, Mormon being the newcomer to the family. One of my daughters is "born again christian", and whatever that entails. Another of my children is a recovering alcoholic so AA is the religion of choice. One of my children has enough sense to be agnostic. My grandchildren are nothing I can put a handle on, some worship the dollar and others themselves and an atheist.

Imagine this crowd at a holiday dinner. Do we say grace before the meal, after the meal or not at all? I didn't get into the discussion but we did it all. Before and after, I still don't understand why god needs to hear it twice, or why anyone but god has to hear it at all, for that matter.

Oh, do I sound bitter? I am in the sense that when I go out with my religious children for dinner in a restaurant I have to listen to them pray. Why? Do they not consider that they invited me, knowing how I feel and that I might not want to make a spectacle of myself in public?

Why does anyone pray in public? I read something about prayer being private here.

First time maybe, but it seems the bible agrees with me.