The Leash I’m Not Attached To

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Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood moiself  is hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [1]

Can you identify this week’s guest Partridge?



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Department Of I Should Have Known Better



Moiself  thought this comic – which I shared on Facebook – was funny.  Several of my religious-believer FB friends saw it as a witnessing opportunity, and thus commented on my post.



Interesting in that, whether feeling the need to explaining that “fear of hell” is not what brought them to their religion, or to note that “fortunately god is a forgiving god,” no poster wrote, “Oh there is no threat of hell in our faith,” nor cited their holy books or whatever to show that hell is a manmade concept.   [2]

As for believers who hold to the “forgiving” aspect of their deity, my reply/query is, “Well, then, why the theological threat of hell?  Why not just forgive?”  The fortunately-god-is-forgiving poster went on to admit his uncertainty, noting that (my emphases) he “…doesn’t know if [his god] forgives everyone but I am guessing and believe he forgives those that accept and believe in him.”

Still, again, that conditional forgiveness, and no refutation of the Christian teaching of a bad afterlife for non (Christian) believers.

One poster claimed that the comic’s “premise” was incorrect, because “The one who walks with Jesus has absolutely no fear of what happens after death….”

That was my favorite bit o’ equivocation.  Psssst – ma’am, your leash is showing.

Following the logic of that carefully-worded, skirting-of-the-issue claim, the one who *doesn’t* “walk with Jesus,” *does* have something to fear.

So, if instead of walking with Jesus, y’all…

* ambulate with Allah
* bounce with Buddha
* dance with Demetir
* dash with Dionysus
* frolic with Frigg
* gambol with Ganesha
* hop with Hera
* jog with Jehovah   [3]



* march with Mercury
* pace with Poseidon
*prance with Pele
* promenade with Persephone
* quiver with Quetzalcoatl
* run with Ra
* stroll with Saturn
* saunter with Shiva
* trot with Thor
* undulate with Urania
*waltz with wiccans
* zoom with Zoroaster

…y’all be on a hike to H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

Many Christians consider their Jesus to be the one who brought a “New Testament” of peace and love, and that the “Old Testament”   [4]   is the one for the fire and brimstone.  Sorry, but y’all need to familiarize yourself with the entirety of your scriptures, and not just the feel-good verses snipped out and read at baptisms and weddings.   Your so-called prince of peace   [5]   is the one who gave his followers hell.



JC gave us concepts like “eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41) and “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46).  Most contemporary Christian believers like to think of their JC of as kindness personified, instead of as the one who, in their holy book, promotes infinite torment:

“The Son of man [Jesus himself] shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
(Matt 13:41-42)
“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” (Mark 9:43)

BTW, the burning of unbelievers during the Inquisition was based on the words of Jesus:

“If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered;
and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
(John 15:6)



If y’all don’t trust a Happy Heathen ® like moiself  regarding what Christian scriptures say re JC’s teachings about hell, go to a true believer – Mike Livingston, pastor and missionary, content editor of a bible study course, and graduate of Jerry Fallwell’s clown college Liberty University.    [6]   Livingston has conveniently gathered JC’s hell teachings for you (warning: I’m not shouting at you, the all-caps are his):

“…much of what we know about hell comes from the mouth of Jesus. In fact, Jesus said more about hell than did any other biblical figure. Our understanding of hell ultimately derives from Him. So what can we know about hell from the teachings of Jesus?

‘Don’t fear those who kill the body,’ Jesus said, ‘rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matt 10:28; see also 5:29-30; 23:15,33; Luke 10:15; 16:23). Commenting on Jesus’ teaching about an ‘eternal punishment’ (Matt. 25:46),  (Baptist pastor and theologian) John Broadus wrote: ‘It is to the last degree improbable that the Great Teacher would have used an expression so inevitably suggesting a great doctrine he did not mean to teach.’ According to Jesus, hell is real.

In numerous parables, Jesus clearly and emphatically taught of a final judgment and the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. The unrighteous will be condemned to a place of blazing fire and utter darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (See Matt. 13:24-30,36-43, 47-50; 22:1-14; 25:14-46.) Jesus called this place ‘the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41). Hell is not a place where people are tormented by the devil; it is where those who reject God will suffer the same fate as the devil and his demons. It is the place of final judgment.

Jesus spoke of hell as ‘eternal fire’ (Matt. 25:41) and ‘eternal punishment’ (Matt. 25:46). In Matthew 25:46, the same word—eternal—is used to describe eternal life for the righteous and the eternal punishment of hell for the unrighteous. According to Jesus, hell will be eternal.

The images of fire (Matt. 25:41), darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), the weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28), and being cut into pieces speak of the horror of hell.”

(  from explorethebible.com “What did Jesus say about hell?” )


Inquiring minds want to know:              what did Godzilla say about hell?


The term Sheol is used briefly in the Hebrew scriptures, in what scholars say is a poetic metaphor for death.  But it’s not referencing an afterlife, as no concept of hell exists in Judaism.”

“…ancient Jews traditionally did not believe the soul could exist at all apart from the body. On the contrary, for them, the soul was more like the ‘breath.’ The first human god created, Adam, began as a lump of clay; then god ‘breathed’ life into him (Genesis 2: 7). Adam remained alive until he stopped breathing. Then it was dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

Ancient Jews thought that was true of us all. When we stop breathing, our breath doesn’t go anywhere. It just stops. So too the ‘soul’ doesn’t continue on outside the body, subject to postmortem pleasure or pain. It doesn’t exist any longer.

The Hebrew Bible itself assumes that the dead are simply dead—that their body lies in the grave, and there is no consciousness, ever again. It is true that some poetic authors, for example in the Psalms, use the mysterious term ‘Sheol’ to describe a person’s new location. But in most instances Sheol is simply a synonym for ‘tomb’ or ‘grave.’ It’s not a place where someone actually goes.”

( excerpt from “What Jesus Really Said About Heaven and Hell”  time.com 5-8-20 )



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Department Of Yeah And By The Way….

Although it should be obvious that moiself  does not believe in a literal netherworld of torment, I have heard some hellish things about Black Friday shopping.



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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [7]


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May you avoid the one hell for which we have actual proof:
Black Friday shopping;
May you have fun with the comments in your FB posts;
May you stay tuned to see your favorite Partridge in our pear tree;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Specifically, in our pear tree.

[2] Although, as one post commentor noted, most people’s ideas about hell come from Dante’s Inferno, the fourteen century Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s epic,.

[3] The Hebrew god, who, contrary to Christian theology, did not give birth to himself/his son as the messiah.

[4] Which can be considered insulting to Jews, so many modern Christians are encouraged by scholars to refer to the OT books as the “Hebrew Scriptures” or the “first testament.”

[5] Yeah, the one who is quoted in your scriptures as giving a plethora of decidedly unpeaceful advice and predictions, including:

“I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matt 10:35-36). “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) 

[6]  “Bill Maher lambasted Liberty University, the Virginia religious university that has become a mandatory stop for Republican presidential candidates…. Maher noted that Liberty teaches ‘creation science,’ and the idea that earth was created 5,000 years ago. ‘This is a school you flunk out of when you get the answers right’….   ‘Liberty’s diploma may look real,’ Maher said, ‘but when you confuse a church with a school it mixes up the things you believe — religion — with the things we know — education. Then you start thinking that creationism is science, and gay aversion is psychology, and praying away hurricanes is meteorology.’ (excerpts from huffpo, “Bill Maher: Liberty university is not a real school“)

[7] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

The Country I’m Not Escaping To

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Department Of Given The Headline, Is This Warning Necessary?

Los Angeles Times headline 11-7-23

“Four current and former L.A. Sheriff’s Department employees
died by suicide
in a 24-hour span.
warning: This story includes discussion of suicide.”



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Department Of An Odd Thing That Makes Me Feel Lonely

That would be the show Escape To The Country, a BBC daytime TV show (recommended to moiself  by a friend), wherein current city dwellers search for their dream homes in rural UK areas.    [1]   The ETTC would-be buyers give their budget, desired rural locale, and other what-we-want parameters to a real estate agent, who then shows them three properties for sale.

My afternoon exercise sessions often include working out to a DVD, and a few weeks ago I began watching ETTC during my cooldown/stretching sessions.  Although I found ETTC quite interesting at first (it was fun to imagine traveling to those areas), watching those potential home-in-the-country buyers gradually made me feel…lonely, in a way that was initially hard for me to recognize, much less describe.



Methinks I have identified the sources of what my mind interpreted as loneliness:

(1) The ETTC buyers are mostly older, often retirees, and are living in a city.  They’re moving to “the country,” where they don’t know anyone and will have few nearby neighbors.   [2]    Aren’t they going to be friendless, at least for a while?

(2)  What an adventure that would be, moving to the English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Ireland countryside (even for those people who are already in Great Britain)!  But the show makes me wonder…has my and MH’s time for such adventures passed?

(3) Even if for some reason MH and I wanted/found a way to relocate to another country (whether permanently or temporarily), we’d be leaving behind family and friends.  Given our life circumstances (read:  “at our age”), would we make new friends, or would we be the proverbial fish   [3]  out of water?   What makes a friend is the willingness and availability to *be* one.  After a certain time, most people already have their friends, and do not have a surplus of time and energy to devote to making new ones.   [4]



Well, not quite so long.  This story is from sixteen years ago, when I was at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual conference, in Madison, WI.  On the day the conference ended, while riding the hotel shuttle to the airport moiself  struck up a conversation with an elderly couple who sat across from me on the shuttle’s bench seats. We chatted about the convention highlights, what a great city Madison was, etc.  Noticing their British accents, I offered that I lived in Oregon, and asked where they were from. They said they’d lived in Connecticut for 15 years but, “as you might guess,” were from England. When I said, Do you mind if I ask why you moved?  they exchanged knowing glances, and the wife said, “This conversation.”

They chuckled at my bemusement, and the husband went on to clarify:  Both of them were native Brits who’d lived in England all their lives,   [5]  and they’d never had a conversation like this – a warm exchange with a stranger – in their home country.  It simply didn’t happen.  While they considered themselves to be kind and friendly folk, they found Brits in general (“Yes, we realize *we* are also British”) to be rather…cold; distant; hard to get to know.   Traveling outside of England confirmed their opinions, and they decided to retire elsewhere.  Within six months of moving to Connecticut they felt they had more close friends and neighbors than they did in 60 years of living in England.



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Department Of The Problems With Identity Politics

Beware the harmful consequences of good intentions.



Yeah; beware that ides-thing, as well.

But my beware  is related to a series of decades-old, poignant conversations with a family member about good intentions gone wild, conversations which sprang to mind when I came across an article by academic and writer Freddie deBoer.  I will address those conversations in a future post; on to the article, which is thought-provoking enough for moiself  to devote way too much a modicum of blog bandwidth to the article’s observations and assertions (and I hope my excerpts prompt you to peruse it in its entirety).    [6]

deBoer, a self-described “Marxist of an old school variety,” writes on politics and culture.  His specific interests include media commentary and “critiques of progressive pathologies from the left”: in the case of this article, identity politics activists who advocate for a “community” which in fact does not exist, and who might presume include him in their community, whether or not he wanted to be.  [7]

In deBoer’s intro to his article (excerpted below; my emphases), he notes that although he’s written about certain elements of the disability rights and the disability studies movements (the former a “catchall term frequently used by activists,” the latter an academic field), these complicated subjects are worthy of book-length analysis.  deBoer intends his article to be a “primer,” and warns that ...the people who are responsible for this stuff have good intentions; indeed, that’s part of what makes it all so frustrating and at times tragic. 



” ‘Disability rights’ rhetoric implies a community of the disabled that does not exist.

A common problem with identity politics is that those who practice it often imply unanimity within broad groups that doesn’t exist (…I refer to the common implication that all Black Americans supported defunding the police in 2020 [despite] polling demonstrating that no such thing was true.)

There are sometimes commonalities that are shared by a large percentage of a given group, but ‘people with disabilities’ is an unusually broad and varied group even compared to others. This is true because all kinds of people can be afflicted with all kinds of disorders, making it unthinkable that we’d ever see (for example) rigid attachment to a given political party among the disabled. More, the experience of disability is dramatically different depending on a given ailment – you can refer to people with psoriasis and with anxiety and with ALS all as ‘people with disabilities,’ but that’s a meaningless exercise…

…(also) many people with disabilities reject being defined that way, which has inherent political and social consequences. All of this diversity undermines any faith we might have in seeing those with disabilities as a coherent political group. Disability activists are forever purporting to speak for all people with disabilities even as many such people completely reject the activist agenda. There is no organizing committee for people who are sick. This has particular consequences given the next point.

Normalizing disability inevitably centers the most normal and sidelines the most severely afflicted. When you insist that there’s nothing wrong with people with disabilities, you are inherently (if usually unwittingly) pushing people who obviously have something wrong with them out of the conversation.

… autism self-advocacy partisans are so insistent that having autism is not in any sense negative that they have to sideline those whose autism is clearly negative, as it is with profoundly autistic people who are nonverbal or self-harming or unable to control their bathroom function or similar. Such people are an uncomfortable reminder of what autism specifically and disability generally can do, so they are marginalized by those who prefer to maintain a false positivity. …. Anyone who can’t express themselves in a conventional way, whether thanks to cerebral palsy or autism or schizophrenia or any other condition, finds themselves written out of the debate….”



deBoer notes a disturbing trend of disability/identity rights activists: proclaiming that there is nothing wrong with having a disability and therefore nothing needs to be fixed – that what the disabled suffer most from is a stigma placed upon them by society.

“Once disability becomes identity, treating disability as something bad becomes forbidden. Contemporary disability mores are deeply influenced by the social model of disability, which holds that disabilities themselves are not inherently or intrinsically bad but rather that society has not set itself up in such a way as to accommodate those with disabilities.
It’s certainly true that we should do far more to make the world more accessible, but I don’t think that attitude is productive. I’m perfectly happy to say that being sighted is better than being blind regardless of how society sets itself up, and for the record there are many people with disabilities who find it insulting and callous to be told that there’s nothing wrong with them. Either way, insisting that you simply are your disability sacrifices your autonomy and right to self-define on the altar of an identity that you didn’t choose….

Stigma is nobody’s biggest problem….

A deeply mentally ill person who lives under a bridge has a lot of very real problems, and stigma is not one of them.

… Almost no one who suffers from a serious disability is going to name stigma as the highest hurdle they face. Access to healthcare, housing, and food, achieving basic financial stability, grappling with hopelessness and depression, finding community and love…. All of these things come first. But because of the incentives of identity politics, stigma reigns as the object of fixation…..

( excerpts from “What’s the Problem with Disability Studies and the ‘Disability Rights’ Movement?  Self-appointed spokespeople don’t own disability issues.”
Freddie Deboer, Nov 6, 2023my emphases )


“If only there was no stigma attached to my disability, I could get into this building, no problem.”

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Department Of I Hate To Even Type “Literally,” But Literally,
Chills Ran Up My Spine When I Read This WaPo article

Because in the article was the essence of a recurring dream I had in childhood – a dream that could become reality, according to the article?  Moiself  wrote about this dream in my post of 12-13-2019:

“A major unpleasant memory from my childhood (early 1970’s So Cal) was dealing with smog alerts.  Activities were curtailed; recess and PE classes cancelled….  Flash forward to the present, and whenever we have had ‘low quality’ air alerts – as when the smoke from recent year’s wildfires drifted south or north to the Portland metro area – my watery eyes and that distinctive ‘catch’ I feel in my chest/bronchial tubes takes me back to those wretched smog alert days.


And the yoga teacher says, “Remember to breathe deeply…oh, never mind.”


In the late 1960s through the early 1980s California’s enactment of innovative, first-in-the-nation, vehicle emission control strategies and standards actually worked, and although the state’s population continued to rise its air quality improved…for a few decades, at least.  [8]   But while politicians and scientists joined forces to cobble together stop-gap measures, a schoolgirl dreamed of a fantastical invention which would solve the problem forever.

During an interval of several months when I was 11 or 12 years old, I had dreams wherein I invented colossal fan/vacuum type devices which, when placed in strategic locations across the state, sucked in air and ran the air through a series of filters, which strained out the polluting particulate matter and compacted the pollutants into bricks, particle boards, and other (non-toxic) building materials. Not only would our air be clean, this invention also protected trees and forests, as the need for lumber was greatly curtailed.

Yep, it seemed realistic to me at the time. The decades passed, and the Scientist/Engineer Who Saved The World…well, it very obviously didn’t turn out to be moiself….”


Yeah, okay…but smoky bands of filthy air encircle the globe, and my imagination in all its glory isn’t fixing that….


Here is a teaser for the WaPo article which prompted my digression:

“For decades, scientists have tried to figure out ways to reverse climate change by pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere…. Companies, researchers and the U.S. government have spent billions of dollars on the research and development of these approaches and yet they remain too expensive to make a substantial dent in carbon emissions.

Now, a start-up says it has discovered a deceptively simple way to take CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for thousands of years. It involves making bricks out of smushed pieces of plants. And it could be a game changer for the growing industry working to pull carbon from the air.”

( excerpts from “The Lego-like way to get CO2 out of the atmosphere,”
The Washington Post, 11-13-23 )



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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [9]



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May you carefully consider your participation in identity politics;
May you risk engaging amiable strangers in conversation;
May you eschew   [10]   using redundant content warnings;

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland

[2] Most of the buyers specify wanting a good deal of acreage, for their fantasy of having horses and/or livestock, ample space for gardens, etc.

[3] Pacific Northwest Chinook salmon, most likely.

[4] Nor the motivation to do so, if you are satisfied (and busy) with your current friendship group.

[5] Or at least until 15 years ago.

[6] Which is a writerly way of saying, “read the whole damn thing.”

[7] According to some disability rights activists, DeBoer is part of the disability rights community due to his bipolar disorder.

[8] So Cal air  pollution is rising again.  Rising numbers of people and vehicles outnumber good intentions and inventions. Waaaah.

[9] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org

[10] I once tried to come up with a joke about a Spaniard describing how he eats a French delicacy:  ” I eschew the escargot.”  Yup; still working on it.

The Engine I’m Not Revving

Comments Off on The Engine I’m Not Revving

Department Of WTF?
Sub-Department Of What Could That Possibly Mean?
Sub-Sub Department Of This Is What I Get For Scrolling Through Roku Channel Offerings Late At Night…

…and discover this title of a…show?  Series?  Satire/hallucination?

“Kelsey Grammer’s Historic Battles for America.”

Moiself  is quite certain that neither my high school nor my university history textbooks contained any information on this Frasier actor’s battle contributions.


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Department Of I’m In The Process Of Reading This Book
(And Perhaps You Should Be, Too)

“… when I think about the world, there’s no god in or above it. It’s that simple. Ask yourself: Do I think there’s a supernatural being in charge of the universe? If you answer ‘no,’ you’re an atheist. That’s it⁠—you’re done. No suing, signing, marching, debating, or tweeting required. You don’t have to do anything with that information. But if you do choose to share it, you may find you know far more atheists than you thought.”    [1]



A few years back I was asked by an acquaintance (with whom I was not personally close but who knew me well enough to assume I could answer their question) to recommend books for someone (else?   [2] ) who was “…genuinely interested in understanding a family member who had rejected religion.”  Moiself  made some crack about how actually asking the religion-free person sincere questions might be less expensive and time-consuming….

Looking back, I’m not sure which book(s) I recommended, I only recall that several came to mind.  If I were asked the same question today, the book I’m currently recently  [3]  would probably be at the top of the list.  This book is aimed more toward encouraging those who are religion-free to be open about that fact; still, I think religious believers could benefit from its perspective as to what their atheist/Freethinker/Bright/humanist friends and neighbors and kin and coworkers deal with.  Also, this book might help religious believers to realize that they know a hella more atheists than they think they do, because most of us, for a variety of reasons, are not out of that “nominally religious” closet.



“…should you say you’re an atheist even if you believe in ‘god’ as the power of nature or something like that?

Yes. It does no one any favors — not the country, not your neighbors — to say you believe in god metaphorically when there are plenty of people out there who literally believe that god is looking down from heaven deciding which of us to cast into hell.

In fact, when certain believers wield enough political power to turn their god’s presumed preferences into law, I would say it’s dangerous to claim you believe in ‘god’ when what you actually believe in is awe or wonder. (Your ‘god is love’ only lends validity and power to their ‘god hates gays.’)

So ask yourself: Do I think a supernatural being is in charge of the universe?

If you answer ‘no,’ you’re an atheist. That’s it — you’re done….”



“It shouldn’t be hard to say you don’t believe in god. It shouldn’t be shocking or shameful. I know that I’m moral and respectful and friendly. And the more I say to people that I’m an atheist — me, the mom who taught the kindergarten class about baking with yeast and brought the killer cupcakes to the bake sale — the more people will stop assuming that being an atheist means being … a serial killer.

And then? The more I say I’m an atheist, the more other people will feel comfortable calling themselves atheists. And the stigma will gradually dissolve.

Can you imagine? If we all knew how many of us there are?

It would give everyone permission to be honest with their kids and their friends, to grapple with big questions without having to hold on to beliefs they never embraced.

And it would take away permission, too. Permission to pass laws (or grant exemptions to laws) based on the presumed desires of a fictional creation.  Permission to be cruel to fellow human beings based on Bible verses.  Permission to eschew political action in favor of ‘thoughts and prayers.’

I understand that, to many people, this might sound difficult or risky….

But for everyone else who doesn’t believe in god and hasn’t said so? Consider that your honesty will allow others to be honest, and that your reticence encourages others to keep quiet. Consider that the longer everyone keeps quiet, the longer religion has political and cultural license to hurt people. Consider that the United States — to survive as a secular democracy — needs you now more than ever.

And the next time you find yourself tempted to pretend that you believe in god? Tell the truth instead.”

(excerpts from “American doesn’t need more god.  It needs more atheists”
by Kate Cohen, author of We Of Little Faith: Why I stopped pretending to believe (and maybe you should too),
The Washington Post, opinions essay, 10-3-23, my emphases )


*   *   *

*   *   *

Oh, wait, except that it’s more of the same….

Department Of “god Is Love” And Other Horseshit Wimpy Analogies

Moiself  didn’t intend for this book to dominate the post, but have you ever read something and thought to yourself, How did this author get inside my headAlthough Cohen grew up in a religion-in-name-and-culture-only family, and I in a practicing Christian (Lutheran) family, I found many similarities to our experiences and mindsets.  I was a little less…hesitant than she seems to have been, when I realized it was time to come out of the religion-free closet, but like her, I was in that closet for many, many years, and for many of the same reasons.  [4]

A difference between Cohen and moiself  is that when asked to label or describe my worldview [5]   I don’t often call moiself  an atheist.  I will happily accept the label if given it, as I view it as an invitation for education.  [6]   Nevertheless, Cohen’s experiences are similar to mine, thus I quote them here (and thus I hope to entice you to buy her book and compare experiences and perspectives yourself).



“When I mustered the courage to call myself an atheist, I was often gently invited to recant. ‘Now are you an atheist or an agnostic?’ they might say. (Now are you a lesbian or have you just not met the right boy?)

Obviously, they wanted to give me, a person who seems nice, a nicer word. ‘Atheist’ evokes a sneering cynic who thinks believers (and possibly love and puppies too) are beneath him (yes, him). That’s the stereotype….
An agnostic, on the other hand, is just a regular person humble enough to admit what she doesn’t know. She’s not sure there is a god, but she’s not sure there isn’t. Either way is fine! Believers with even a tiny bit of doubt can relate to the agnostic, which is why they sometimes helpfully offer me that label. They want me to be someone they can understand. They want me to be someone they can like. Maybe they even want me to be someone who can like them….

So why don’t I call myself an agnostic? Because I see absolutely no reason to think there might be a god. None. I don’t see some evidence for and some against. I see no evidence for and plenty against.
To be clear: I really don’t think much about whether god exists. I enjoy those British-accented books that sharply articulate every possible argument against god’s existence. I’m grateful they did the work, grateful that all that complex reasoning sits on my shelf like an intellectual battery pack. But I don’t really need them.

My atheism derives naturally from a few simple observations.

1. The Greek myths are obviously stories. The Norse myths are obviously stories. Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard obviously just made that shit up. Extrapolate.

2. Life is confusing and death is scary. Naturally humans want to believe that someone capable is in charge of everything and that we somehow continue to live after we die. But (2a) wanting doesn’t make it so.

3. The holy books that underpin some of the bigger theistic religions are riddled with “facts” now disproved by science and “morality” now disavowed by modern adherents. Extrapolate.

4. The existence of child rape (and other unfathomable cruelties).
As for the argument that god isn’t an actual being capable of or interested in preventing (4) but instead is a sort of cosmic life force / sense of oneness / mystical transcendence, well…then we’re not really talking about theism anymore. If you’re not using the term ‘god” to mean a deity ‘with the capacity to design, to choose, to create,’ a being actively engaged in human affairs, and instead using it ‘as a way of describing Nature itself,’ then you’re falling into the trap that Daniel Dennett calls ‘belief in belief in god.’ He argues in Breaking the Spell   [7]   that we name ‘a throng of deanthropomorphized, intellectualized concepts’ the same thing that believers call their Supreme Being merely so we can say, ‘we all believe in god.

That’s how ingrained it is in us that we’re supposed to believe in ‘god.’ We know the god of the Bible doesn’t make sense, so we give the title to something else. We should stop doing that. As long as a large number of people literally believe that (a) god is looking down from heaven, judging our actions, preferring that women wear dresses or what have you, it’s just misleading to claim that you believe in god metaphorically. Let’s call love ‘love’ and not confuse the issue.

That’s it⁠—why I call myself an atheist….To me, it’s clear there is no god. Or rather, it’s clear that god is made up: of course god exists, as the most powerful, most fascinating, most cited fictional character ever created.”

( excerpts from Kate Cohen’s “We of Little Faith (Why I Stopped Pretending To Believe And Maybe You Should Too), from the chapter dealing with why she doesn’t call herself an agnostic.   my emphases…and some style changes.   [8]  )



*   *   *

Department Of Gender, Inclusivity, Exclusivity…Whatever Floats Your Boat

Dateline: last week, searching YouTube TV for viewing options. Here was a summary, which someone got paid to compose, for “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” as streamed through the TNT network ( my emphasis):

“Men (Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Pete Postlethwaite)
confront dinosaurs on a Costa Rican island.”


“Don’t you confront me, you *man,* you!”


*   *   *

Department Of Do You Ever Wonder, What If…?

Dateline: last week, circa 8 am, morning walk, just after having crossed a busy street on my way toward a nearby park. Behind me I hear the distinctive sound of a souped-up car, its driver revving the engine in an attempt to – what, serenade everyone within a mile radius with his pathetic attempt at covering his inadequacies manliness substitute?   [9]  Of all the emotions I expected to feel when I heard that cacophony, moiself  was surprised by the one that enveloped me: gratitude.

I was grateful for something over which I had no control:  what if I’d been born into a different family, time and/or place?  Nature and nurture, they work together, and the jury is deadlocked on when it comes to what is the primary influence shaping Who We Are.  So, Car Revving Dude: besides being a ridiculous waste of money, I consider “souping-up” an auto and engine-revving and other such displays to be ignorant and wasteful.

Now, back to my gratitude, involving both the nature and nurture categories: What if I had been raised in a family and/or neighborhood where that kind of display was considered admirable, and something to strive for ? Even if no one in my family practiced that kind of behavior, what if I was raised, as a female, to consider whatever-makes-a-guy-want-to-do-those-kind-of-things to be attractive – even essential – qualities in a mate?

Sometimes, I just feel lucky. Take it away, Mary Chapin Carpenter.



*   *   *

 Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [10]

” We won’t know the truth until we tell the truth.”
( Kate Cohen )



*   *   *

May you never confront dinosaurs without a posse of men;
May you be grateful for not being an engine-revving kind of guy;
May you consider “telling the truth instead” the next time you have an opportunity to hide an essential part of your identity;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *


[1] From Kate Cohen’s We of Little Faith: Why I stopped pretending to believe (and maybe you should too)

[2] They never said, “for me,” although I think it might have been.  As in the, “Doctor, I have a question for a friend, who has this rash….”

[3] Which I purchased after reading an excerpt from it in a newspaper’s opinion piece, written by the book’s author.

[4] e.g.,  not wanting to be discounted or experience discrimination; concern over how my children would be viewed and treated….)

[5] or my, ick, “spiritual beliefs,” by someone who doesn’t know any better than to use that term with moiself.

[6] Short version: as in, how to not define me in terms of someone else, who is a theist.  Calling me an a-theist, as in, not-a-theist, only gives you the most basic clue as to what I do *not* believe, as opposed to what I do believe…so I use the terms Bright, Freethinker, Humanist, etc.

[7] Breaking the Spell: religion as a natural phenomenon.  Another good book you should read; I read it in my (former) church’s book group.

[8] I do not capitalize the word god (although Cohen does), as it is not a proper noun.  In other words, even if you believe in (a) god, its name is not, God.

[9] I’m confident of the pronoun even though the car was behind me and I couldn’t see the driver.  A needlessly revving car?  It’s always a he.

[10] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org.

The World Series I’m Not Watching

Comments Off on The World Series I’m Not Watching

What would ushering in the holiday season be without The Dropkick Murphys?




*   *   *

Department Of Halloween Highlights

Dateline: Tuesday eve, 8 pm ish.  I hadn’t been in the mood for trick or treaters, for mostly logistical reasons,  [1]  and MH did most of the doorbell-answering/treat-dispensing duties.  Then, when I did take a turn, a lone trick or treater made my evening.

He wore a really cool/handmade dinosaur-ish costume, appeared to be about ten years old, and was delighted when I guessed that he was Godzilla.  After he took his candy he thanked me, lingered on the porch for a moment, then, his eyes sparkling at me through his costume’s eye slits, asked, “Can I give you a high-five?”

My heart soared like a hawk.

But wait – there’s more.  Today is…can you guess?


 ( On November 3, 1954 director Ishirō Honda and special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya’s vision for movie monsters changed cinema forever as Godzilla opened in theaters. On November 3, 2023, we join our fellow fans and proud partners in recognizing the indomitable 69-year influence of the King of the Monsters with the biggest Godzilla Day yet.”  From Everything You Need To Know To Celebrate Godzilla Day )


*   *   *

Department Of I Wouldn’t Have Believed It If I’d Seen It With My Own Eyes…

Except that I did see it.

There it was, in my mailbox.  The new (to moiself ) Signals gift catalog.



Gifts that inform, enlighten and entertain?

I had trouble with the catalog’s name as preceded by the description of their gifts.  Then,  my Devious Little Mind ® went to work:

Ah…Signals as in, virtue signaling?

Alas, my DLM worked for naught, for when moiself  skimmed through the catalog I found saw no mention of how these gifts are ethically sourced, etc.

The Signals  title apparently also does not – cannot, IMO – refer to how the gift recipients will think you’re so cool for selecting presents for them from this catalog.  Moiself  saw nothing outstanding in that department, nothing different from the five bajillion gift catalogs which’ll clog mailboxes around the country in the next couple of months. 



So, neither coolness nor virtue is being signaled by buying any of this catalog’s jumble merchandise, unless you mistakenly think that giving a *you’re an amazing woman* mug to a friend/relative/neighbor/coworker is somehow informing, entertaining, enlightening, rather than what it actually is: an opportunity for them to practice their Present Face. ®




*   *   *

Department Of Lions…And Sirens And Dudes, Oh My

“So now we’ll have a world series between a couple of 2nd place also-rans that nobody outside of Dallas and Arizona will care about.
I predict record setting low ratings.
Happy MLB?
(Comment from a FB friend, after the Game 7 of the Philadelphia-Arizona National League Championship Series )

Was it only a year ago, when moiself  was excited about having the opportunity to attend a MLB playoff game?  Apparently, as per these excerpts from my post of 10-21-22:

Early last week daughter Belle messaged me, wondering if she should get a ticket to Game 4 of the Seattle Mariners-Houston Astros American League Division series playoff game.  The division playoffs are a best-of-five series; Belle’s company, Schilling Cider, is a Mariners sponsor, and was guaranteed a certain number of tickets to purchase for playoff game 4.  Belle checked to see how many tickets her company would be allotted, and found out there would be enough so that she could get one for moiself  as well…and would I be interested?

It warmed the cockles of my heart, to hear that Belle was interested in going. How Belle’s grandparents would have liked that, I told her.

Chet and Marion Parnell were longtime baseball fans.  They once told me they’d always wanted to go to a playoff game but never had the opportunity. I grew up going to LA Dodgers and Anaheim Angels games, then in the 80s I lost – or rather deliberately misplaced – my interest in the sport.  I don’t remember the exact year; it was when there was yet another player/management strike.  Free agents had become the thing; it seems like you didn’t know the players anymore (“Wait…he was a Dodger and now he’s a Yankee?”), there was no team loyalty or team identity on either side of the management/players…it used to be you could follow the career of a player, having come up through the farm system….

Then came the latest the player/manager/owner strike.  I remembered thinking,

“Hmmm, which group of multi-millionaires do I feel sorry for?”

And that was that.

I became a fair weather fan – one who would watch The Big Games ®,  particularly if there’s a team I had an interest in (rooting for California or West Coast teams, and against CHEATERS like the Houston Astros…or just arrogant asshats like the Yankees).

As it turned out, there was no playoff game for Belle and I to attend. While I was stuck on the train (a presidential visit and the usual, non-unusual-for-Portland shenanigans, including some dude who was “laying across the tracks,” delayed the train’s departure for *hours*) after we finally got moving, the Mariners lost the longest 1-0 playoff game in MLB history.   [2]



As I’d mentioned in that year-old post, the lack of any team loyalty/permanence re their player roster was a factor in limiting my interest in baseball, along with the gradual and interminable lengthening of the games.  But this year, with a new pitch clock and other rules changes, my *potential* interest perked up a wee bit…until the playoffs.  It used to be the Boys of Summer became the Men of October, and now, what with the various divisions and wild card series and league series championships, the World Series won’t be finished until November.  Who set this up – Oprah?  “You get into a playoff series!  And you!  Every team gets into a playoff series!”



My tends-to-be-sensible husband was befuddled by the endless playoffs, and voiced his opinion on the matter:  After such a long season, there will likely be one team in each league with the best record, and why don’t those two teams play each other in the World Series?  Okay, maybe you need at least one playoff series, so the top two teams in each league – never mind which division they are in – face each other, then the winners go to the series.  Isn’t a team’s record over the *ONE HUNDRED SIXTY TWO* game season more indicative of talent than the random/bad luck any team might have during a five or seven game series?

Oh, honey, you’re so cute when you’re trying to make something make sense.  Sports and rationality…they just don’t mix, silly boy.  Moiself  gently reminded MH about the enormous amount of $$$ from broadcasting revenues and merchandising, etc., to be made from playoff games.



 Once again, I digress.

After I read my friend’s FB comment, here was my response to him:

“My daughter and I were discussing (texting- text cussing?) this last night. I echoed your sentiment, and she replied,
‘Everyone not in the southwest should just refuse to watch the World Series. Make it have the lowest viewership numbers in decades.

We will cyberbully them into submission.
It’s kindergarten tactics – like we’re convincing all the other kids in class not to go to their birthday party.’ “

What I didn’t share with him was the content of Belle’s and my textcussion during the latter innings of the Phillies – Diamondbacks game,  during which Belle and moiself  traded some important observations about baseball…uh…strategy.  Her closing comment had me giggling so loud MH had to ask what was going on:

Moiself  (circa inning 5):
Alex Bohm of the Philadelphia Phillies is adorable.
I bet Yeti     [3]   would love to snuggle in his hair

Another cute Philly just knocked in the go ahead run.
The Phillies definitely have the most interesting hair. So, they got that.


Any questions?

I haven’t been watching, had to run some errands after work and now I’m cooking dinner.
Is the game over?

No, still on…now sixth inning…now I think Arizona’s leading 3 to 2.

Me and L___ at work came up with a theory about baseball: players will always fall into one of two categories.
(1) Ridiculously handsome, essentially a male siren
(2) “Yeah that’s just a dude.”
I’ve never seen the theory proved wrong yet.


Bryson Stott was also workin’ it in the siren category.


There could be a third category…arguably, it could be a subcategory of the second one: the chunky uncle, who could be wearing a MAGA hat, instead of a baseball hat.

That’s still 2 main categories though!

I think you and L___ need to submit that categorization to major league baseball. They can work it into the rules somehow.

A new stat.  They mention which category every player is in, in the commentary.

When he’s at bat, along with his average.

“And coming up to bat is Dan Smith, career 321 hitter, falls into the siren category as well!
Do you think his looks will distract the pitcher?”


I think Belle’s grandparents would have been proud.

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of A Modest Proposal  [4]

Dateline; last Friday. The link for my yoga streaming class never came through, so moiself  did an online class instead, the link to which I discovered a couple of years ago.  It’s a fun, covers-most-of-the-bases, 60m vinyasa class, it’s become one of my favorites. Except for this one part where the teacher tells her students, after an intense series of postures, that “It’s OK to smile; it’s not that serious.”

Now, the teacher was joking to her class, which included both men and women.  But it reminded me of a recent outing where I heard someone else (a man) advising some woman to smile.  Yep, we’re almost to 2024, and many dudes still haven’t read the memo.



But if this holiday season is like all the others before it, ’twill not only be men who will be the transgressors in this matter.   Here come the requests for family and extended family group photos, and say cheese and hold still and we’ll have to do this again- Uncle Aeneus had his eyes closed…”

This can be annoying for everyone (and particularly for scophphobes  such as moiself ).  And there’s always the adolescent who just really isn’t in the mood to smile, as everyone turns to look at them with their you’re-ruining-it-for-everyone-else glares….while the tween wonders aloud why people can’t just have their normal face on display for a photo.

And so, my modest proposal for keeping the peace during the holidays  (my pipe dream is to extend this year-round):

How about if we all agree, no matter the circumstances, to stop telling other people
what *we* think they should do with *their* faces?


Okay, everybody stop smiling and someone call Child Protective Services.


*   *   *

Department of Employee Of The Month



It’s that time, to bestow that prestigious award upon moiself.   Again. The need for which I wrote about here.   [5] 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [6]

“I’ve been told by professional drug users that if I did the drugs, I would like the Dead. It seems like the most effective PSA against drugs could just play some Dead jams and say, ‘If you do drugs, you will like this kind of music.’ What other deterrent would one need?”

( Penn Jillette, from Every Day is an Atheist Holiday! )


Non-stoned concertgoers appreciate a Grateful Dead reunion jam.


*   *   *

May your gift-giving inform, enlighten and entertain your giftees;
May you be in charge of your own face during photo shoots;
May you never pass up the opportunity to high-five Godzilla;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Doing some major house remodeling which means our usual spaces are compromised and we’d be running up and down the stairs to answer the doorbell.

[2] 18 innings, 1-0.  Sounded to me like a soccer score.

[3] Belle’s Bengal cat.

[4] Kudos to the English literature majors who get the Jonathan Swift rip off reference.

[5] Several years ago, MH received a particularly glowing performance review from his workplace. As happy as I was for him when he shared the news, it left me with a certain melancholy I couldn’t quite peg.  Until I did.

One of the many “things” about being a writer (or any occupation working freelance at/from home) is that although you avoid the petty bureaucratic policies, bungling bosses, mean girls’ and boys’ cliques, office politics and other irritations inherent in going to a workplace, you also lack the camaraderie and other social perks that come with being surrounded by your fellow homo sapiens.  No one praises me for fixing the paper jam in the copy machine, or thanks me for staying late and helping the new guy with a special project, or otherwise says, Good on you, sister. Once I realized the source of the left-out feelings, I came up with a small way to lighten them.

[6] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org