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.” 
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?  ) 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  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 )
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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 head? Although 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. 
A difference between Cohen and moiself is that when asked to label or describe my worldview  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.  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  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.  )
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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.”
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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?  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.
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Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week 
” We won’t know the truth until we tell the truth.”
( Kate Cohen )
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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!
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 From Kate Cohen’s We of Little Faith: Why I stopped pretending to believe (and maybe you should too)
 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….”
 Which I purchased after reading an excerpt from it in a newspaper’s opinion piece, written by the book’s author.
 e.g., not wanting to be discounted or experience discrimination; concern over how my children would be viewed and treated….)
 or my, ick, “spiritual beliefs,” by someone who doesn’t know any better than to use that term with moiself.
 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.
 Breaking the Spell: religion as a natural phenomenon. Another good book you should read; I read it in my (former) church’s book group.
 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.
 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.
 “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.