Posts Tagged 'Christianity'

Christian Singles!

So far I’ve been getting a lot of spam posts advertising for “Christian singles”. I guess atheist blogs are where the Christians go to find love. Who woulda thought? And why would Christians even need singles? Can’t they just have a virgin birth or something?

I’m going to block these posts, but if any of you Christians are looking for singles, be informed that there are some great websites out there for you.

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William Lobdell’s “Losing My Religion”: Why Do Bad Reviews Go to Good Books?

lobdellWhy do bad reviews go to good books? Because religious people deem it to be so.

William Lobell became an evangelical Christian at the age of 27, after being divorced by his former high school sweetheart. He was shocked at the level of anti-religious media, and set out to change that by becoming a religious journalist for the Los Angeles Times. But as time passed, he found his faith harder and harder to maintain, eventually becoming nonreligious entirely. His experiences are outlined in his new book: Losing my Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace.

This book recieved a favorable review by Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist, who likes the book in part because it is fair to Christians:

He’s not out to (de-)convert you, just to tell you how he became an atheist himself. In that sense, this is a book that religious people can read from front to back without wanting to burn it… If you’re religious, it can help you understand why some atheists choose the path that we do.

If only it were that easy. A significant chunk of his reviews on Amazon ignore the merits of the book itself and simply bash the fact that Lobdell dares not to believe. But the worst press so far is the book review in his own former place of employ. Heather King, writing for the LA Times Book Review, lays out the details of his path to atheism as if describing the actions of a man about to commit murder. Then, instead of addressing the quality of his writing, she trashes his decision to no longer be religious, and suggests he just go back and read the book of Job.

I understand that Lobdell’s heart is broken, as all human hearts must be broken if for no other reason than that we must die. I sympathize down to the bone with his hunger for the world to be holy without quite being able to be holy himself. But I can’t help wondering what would have happened had Lobdell stepped out of his journalist’s role. I wonder if he would not have discovered that even the best of us contribute to the suffering of the world. I wonder if he would not have discovered that conflict, uncertainty, paradox, doubt are the beginning of faith, not the end of it. I wonder if he would not have realized that an anonymous author wrote a variation of this story 2,600 years ago — about a man named Job.

I wonder too. I wonder why it is that atheists see the beliefs of the religious as a difference of opinion, yet believers see our lack of belief as a critical flaw, and a personal attack on them. I wonder why King ignored the second part of Lobdell’s subtitle, in which he “found unexpected peace”, and why the mere fact he is no longer religious makes him the target of scorn. And I wonder why the Times couldn’t have found someone to write a more balanced review.

At the end of her review, King presents the book’s cover photograph of a snuffed candle as the perfect summation of Lobdell, the lost soul. Yet I’ve always thought candles were more beautiful after being put out; the flame of a candle is intense and will burn you if you try to touch it, but snuff it out and the room fills with a delicate veil of smoke, always changing into different shapes, each as beautiful as the last. Maybe someday we’ll live in a society that appreciates snuffed candles.

The Gay Community’s Unwanted Allies

protests
Today is the beginning of the Calfornia Supreme Court’s deliberation over what to do on Prop. 8. I’ve done a considerable write up on the matter over at my other blog, check it out for all the deets. With Prop 8 back in the spotlight, however, I couldn’t help but think back to the campaign season. As a hetero with no intention to marry in the near future, Prop 8 was not an immediate threat to me. But as an atheist, I was deeply disturbed by the religious tactics employed by the anti-gay forces. In a nutshell, the religious stump speech for banning gay marriage was “Let us discriminate against gays or you’ll be discriminating against us”. The anti-gay marriage website carries a handy set of instructions for churches, instructing them on how to push the anti-gay agenda to the limit. Opposition to this church-based movement is framed in discriminatory terms:

Recently, we have seen organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State send letters to churches in an apparent effort to suppress the speech of churches and pastors on critical social issues.

What disturbed me was how easily this tactic could be turned against atheists as well. What if the religious movement decided that atheists could no longer marry? What if we spoke out, and a well organized, well funded religious campaign was organized claiming that it was in fact us who were oppressing them? I was always a supporter of gay rights, but upon realizing this, the struggle became more personal. Many atheists seemed to share my view. One commenter on the Atheist Revolution blog had this to say:

The push to ban same-sex marriage comes overwhelmingly from the Mormon and Catholic and fundamentalist churches, who are attempting to turn their personal religious beliefs into laws for everyone. You’re damn right that should concern atheists.

To my dismay, most of the No on 8 campaign seemed to involve conforming Gay Marriage with religious dogma, and convincing Christians that Jesus woudn’t slap them on the ass for voting no. Not once did I see atheists mentioned in relation to the campaign as it was taking place. Upon researching it now, I found a sickening post on a Christian website which quite possibly linked atheism to gay marriage in hopes that the bad name of atheism would help Prop 8 pass. Greta Cristina, author of the comment above, has an in-depth post about her experiences as a gay atheist, and how the gay community is surprisingly intolerant of atheists in their midst.

However, there are still plenty of gay folks who accept our help. Sometimes, the best way for us to help may unfortunately be to stay quiet, at least until the public becomes more accepting of atheists. But we need to work together. The fight against Prop 8 is our fight too.


Blogical

I’m starting this blog as an outlet for my thoughts on religion, it successes, shortfalls, and how I get along without it. As an atheist and secularist, I often get accused of only believing in “cold logic”, to which I respond, “What’s so cold about it?" Just because I think critically where where religious people don’t doesn’t make me cold, immoral or unfeeling. I’m not anti-religious per se, though I feel some religious practices do get a free ride where they shouldn’t. The main reason I’m an atheist is that I think a life lived on secular priciples is a better way to live. In reading this, you’ll probably see plenty of ideas you’ve heard before, and hopefully a few you haven’t. With any luck, you’ll understand where I’m coming from, and we’ll both be better off.
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism
(image: happy human)

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