Thursday, February 7, 2013

GOP, Democrat, Liberal or Conservative

Liberalism v Conservatism

I recently saw the new movie about Lincoln and found it very revealing. I’m certain that the movie was not accurate in every detail but I do think they got a few things right.

I had always heard that the South was fully in the Democratic camp until some time in the 60's. I have also heard that today’s GOP is yesterday’s Democratic South. Here is an article that talks about the change.

“The Democratic dominance of the South originated in many white Southerners' animosity towards the Republican Party's stance in favor of political rights for blacks during Reconstruction and Republican economic policies such as the high tariff and the support for continuing the gold standard, both of which were seen as benefiting Northern industrial interests at the expense of the agrarian South in the 19th century. It was maintained by the Democratic Party's willingness to back Jim Crow laws and racial segregation

Interesting that now the south, including my state of Oklahoma, is pretty dang Red and strongly religious.

Last night our local atheist group was interviewed on the ABC news affiliate station. The  anchor also gave equal time to a local minister. It was amazing on Facebook after the newscast. People were asking questions and getting the other side…a side most in Oklahoma have never heard. Interestingly and not surprising, several new members were added to our Meetup group. They did not know that such a group exists. We now have more than 1200 members and usually 20 or more events each month. We have brunch, lectures, downtown, uptown and midtown lunch meetups. We are an active bunch! We have a teen group and lots of activities for families.

Some months back I was walking in my neighborhood. It was late October and just before the election. I noticed that there were several political signs for Democratic candidates. I was surprised that anyone would have the nerve to put up an Obama sign in Oklahoma City or anywhere in the state. I met a woman that day, older, perhaps late 70’s, with whom I had an interesting conversation. She told me she remembered a time when Oklahoma was firmly in the Blue camp.

So how does it happen? Well, it happens because we change when we ask questions and really look for answers. Do I think that is why Oklahoma is a Republican state? NO! I doubt very many Okies care what the parties stand for, they just know that the religious should be republicans.  In the mind of most Republicans it is clear; Democrats are liberals and Republicans are conservative…based mostly on religious issues: Abortion, Gay Rights, Evolution and a belief in god. They also think that all atheist have to be Democrats.  Not true. There are among those I count as friends and fellow atheists who are Republican voters.

What seems to be a straight forward issue is quite complicated. Some time ago I asked
 So what am I? I am a registered voter and I support the Democratic party but I am also conservative on many issues, particularly those of economics. I do think we should pay our bills and balance our budget. However, I support equal rights for all and social justice for all.

I’m done now...just a morning ramble of thoughts. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Facebook post from my Son

I usually don't post too much about my personal beliefs but anyone who knows me wont be too surprised by this. But I had to say something. As a parent I am extremely tuned in to the news when it involves children. The Connecticut murders made me cry when I heard about it and each time when I would hear about it for the following weeks. Because I am a father and because my son started school this year I related. I had never feared anything like that (not until now) but I did feel scared and worried the first time Melanie and I dropped him off at school. I'm sure the Connecticut parents felt the same and then the unthinkable happened. I easily connected with these families but at the same time can't even imagine what they are going through.
I have also been tuned in to what has been going on in Alabama. Although my son doesn't ride the bus, I know that it can't be far off when he will be with other people in cars and vehicles that I have no control over. I know it's coming and it scares the crap out of me. But what happened in Alabama never even crossed my mind. Being a father, again I connected with this boys family and felt what I am sure is a fraction of a fraction of what they felt. Really I don't think I can imagine how they must have been feeling for the past week.
Being a father I am tuned in to things like this. Can't help it. I am tuned in to the tragedy and to the heroics that occur around it. To the teacher in Connecticut who died shielding her children. To the bus driver who died trying to protect his. And to the FBI and police and all of the law enforcement who risk their lives trying to protect all of us from the ones who want to harm us. The heroics bring a slight feeling of joy during a time when the world seems so weird. It makes me feel grateful.
This brings me to my point and to my feeling of outrage and flat out anger. I saw on the news after the Alabama boy was rescued, during a news conference the spoke person said that he wanted to thank god. That, by the "grace of god" I think were his exact words. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? This guy, and I know he is one of many who feel this way, wants to give the credit for the survival of this boy to god? As a father and uncle and husband and son and friend.....and even a tax payer this offends me. The thank you's need to be directed to the police and FBI and the other law enforcement officers who were a part of this. They are the ones who need to be thanked. If we want to get deep and go further with the gratitude we can thank the media who showed restraint during this and followed the recommendations and request of the police and didn't fully report everything they saw. If we want to go even further we can thank the community who supported the law enforcement and help in what ever way they could. We, maybe, could even thank the teachers who trained the officers if we wanted to go way deep in the thank you's and gratitudes. But to thank god just plain puzzles me.
Puzzles me because if we are to thank god for the safe return then I must ask, why did god have the stand off end the way it did? It ended pretty frightening to me and I can only imagine how the child must have felt. It could have ended a lot less dramatically and tragically, I think anyway. As is, this boy and family is going to need professional help to get through the next few days, weeks, months, and maybe even years. After 6 days of being held hostage by a murderer, the kind of help needed is going to need to be just as spectacular. I'm not talking some regular joe counselor like I was. I'm talking about someone special. And having been in the field there just are not many of those around. Is god going to be around for that? And if by chance this boy gets a counselor that is one of these special ones, and he or she helps this boy through the PTSD that is sure to come to not just him but maybe his parents. If this professional helps this family to be healthy.....will god be thanked too?
Another question, if god is being thanked for the safe return, because he played a part in this, and because after all he is god, then shouldn't he be thanked for the kidnapping in the first place? Did he set this whole tragedy up? Or maybe just let it happen? I am sorry but I have a problem with anyone who would let something happen just so they could then help and save the day.
Maybe this what happened with my sisters who got cancer? Let it happen just so they could be helped by god? Because I'm sure in their churches god was thanked a time or two when they beat it (so far anyway). But then I guess god was to busy to help my uncles or aunts with theirs. Or my friend who lost his son and now has a beautiful grand daughter who will never know her father, should we thank god here? I'm sure if the surgery after the accident was successful someone would have.
If this offends you I am sorry, I am offended. I am offended that god gets credit before the police or doctors or teachers or who ever. Before the ones who are in the situation and doing what needs to be done. Because when we thank god we are also thanking god for the cancer and the car wreck and the gunman and the hurricane and the tornado and get the idea.

To the folks in Alabama (who will never read this) who helped resolve this, as a father I thank you!

And as a mother I thank you for your depth of understanding, your loyalty to your country and those who look out for us every day. I thank you for your love and devotion to your family and expecially for being such a great father. No greater gift to any mother than to see her son, not only as a grown up man, but a whole thoughtful, reasonable person.

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Easy to be a Christian

It’s easy to be a Christian

Being a Christian allows one to have an outlet for any problem. If things go well you have someone to thank, if things go badly you can blame it on God because it is, after all, God’s will. In addition you have so many folks with which to commiserate when you lose a loved one. Each of them will tell you that your loved one is in a better place and that you will see them again in heaven. What a deal!

As a Christian, one can suspend any difficult thinking by listening to the Sunday sermon and realizing that the minister is the expert on the bible and that the message he delivers is straight from God. Easy!

As a Christian, you don’t have to worry about this life as long as you worship God and live a good life, whatever that is, you never die; you just go to that better place where the streets flow with milk and honey. No fear of death!

What a deal Christians have! Me, I’m and atheist so I have only myself and those around me to thank for the good stuff and only myself to blame when it goes sour. Ouch!

When I read something in the Bible, I have to figure it out for myself, look for corroborating evidence and make an informed decision as to the truth because as an atheist, I have no faith. I can’t just trust that I will someday understand. I want to understand now because I only have one life, this one.

When I lose a loved one, it’s over, kaput, done, worm food. I don’t buy the afterlife and the milk and honey deal so no comfort for me. Too bad, I like milk and honey.

So you Christians have it easy…. someone to take the responsibility from your shoulders, and someone to thank because you couldn’t do it without Him,  someone to tell you what God thinks and wants…a never-ending life…and you are satisfied that faith is a good way to live.

I sometimes wish I could believe all that but alas, one cannot believe on cue, and faith is not reason nor reasonable in a modern world where knowledge doubles every few years.