Quick explanation of why I am an atheist.

This is an expansion of a comment I made on string about why people are atheists. The article was in the NY Times today.

Here y’are:

I have read that there have been about 30,000 gods worshipped at some time in recorded human history. Each was revered and believed in at that time, but dropped as time passed and knowledge took the place of superstition. In time, Christianity will take its place among the myths and the Christian/Jewish god will also land in the Olympus Retirement Home for Gods.

My Christian friends declare their belief in the One God and no other. So they do not believe in the other 29,999 from history. I have come to reject all 30,000 gods. Just one more than my buddies who hold to their patriarchal monotheistic religions and their one god. Just one more.

I feel that as humans we need community and that our instincts lead us to do what makes us feel good within that community. We strive for a feeling of wholeness and goodness which most often comes in service to others in some way. We each use our talents to contribute and feel good. We feel love from friends and give love to select others. We love nature and its beauty because it makes us feel good and humbled in the presence of greatness. That striving and sharing and connection is to me what makes up a meaningful life and a non-religion based spirituality.

A concept of judgmental, jealous god too often interferes with the meaningful part of all that. That’s why I choose to be a non-believer, but reserve the right to be spiritual in a secular, humanistic way.

Spirit is not God. Spirit is all of us. We don’t need a god to seek meaning or find hope. We don’t need a church to participate in our communities and find connections that make us feel good and whole. Opportunities are all around us to create meaning and fullness in our lives without the need to worship a distant God that increasing leaves us with emptiness and even cruelty.

I’d rather hope for real things, connect with real people, revel in a real nature, participate in a real society where I can do some real good for real people. Isn’t that more hopeful than blind faith in one of 30,000 retired gods?

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“Those less favored in life should be more favored in law.” – Powell

This quote by Thomas Reed Powell sums up all that is wrong with the current conversation about the deficit. So much of the rhetoric is about punishing the already economically punished and rewarding the secure and even the exploiters.

Liberal thought is that we are all part of a larger community that is willing to lend a hand to those in need. A hand of helping, not slapping further down. Liberals remember that “There but for the grace of God go I.” Fortunes can turn in an instant; won or lost in a day.

The Republican debates have been especially telling. I was dismayed about the audience reaction to Mr. Paul’s discussion of what should happen to a 30-year old man with no insurance who hypothetically needs medical care to live. The support for “let him die” tells me that this country needs some heavy duty re-education about community and the value of human life.

What does it say about the people of America (or at least that group of people) if we are willing to let those less fortunate die because they have no insurance, either by choice or necessity. If you have no insurance, you die in a situation where medical treatment could save a life? It’s so negative and nihilistic. (From Wikipedia – nihilism is “characterized as “emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value.)

We all need help once in a while. It shouldn’t be a death sentence to not have insurance, nor should losing your job mean that you are forever unemployed and reduced to poverty. How does that build community, or country? It doesn’t.
It’s a rejection of human idealism and an acceptance of animal fatalism – survival of the fittest. It’s more war on the middle class. It’s political and economic extremism. Is this who we are as Americans? I can’t accept that.

I think that most Americans value life and want to enjoy the best for themselves and their families. And they are willing to work and contribute to achieve it. They are willing to lend a hand to those who are unemployed and struggling until they get back on their feet because we have all seen how easy it is to lose everything when jobs get cut. Most Americans want to be respected and are willing to extend respect to others, even in the hard times.

I think that most Americans want to move forward not backward and are being manipulated through the (conservative) media by fear, greed and big money. I think most Americans are more liberal than they give themselves credit for.

I have more faith in America than that. Let’s keep talking about who we really are and maybe the majority will awaken to their own goodness and start shouting down the exploiters.

Let’s talk about liberal living as a step forward, not backward. Let’s move toward optimism, not negativity and nihilism.

Crape Diem

I just realized why I hesitate to write. It isn’t that I doubt my ability to put words together in an effective or pleasing way. I know I can because people I respect have told me I can, and I get damn fine grades when I take classes in writing. I have been able to find the beauty in the English language and apply it strategically and well. Usually.

I hesitate not because I doubt my ability to write, but my ability to think. Lately I’ve been so preoccupied with the flimsy excuse the US has for politics these days, that I’ve become a one-note samba, a one-trick pony, a single-minded Republican agenda hater, and just as bigoted about defeating them as they are about defeating Obama. (If that’s their only agenda, and it appears to be, the Republican politicians are less appealing than the pond scum at a waste treatment plant.) See? I’m a bigot, too. We all are in some way, even if we hate bigots.

My brain has soaked up enough negativity that I don’t want to infect others with it. And yet, if enough crap gets thrown back at those who are creating this crushing Corporatocracy from enough people, maybe the country can begin to inch toward being more civil. Only with added things like a progressive tax structure (it brought us prosperity before-why not now?); equal rights for gays, women over 40, and other minorities; and heaven forbid, consideration of liberal ideas. In other words progression rather than regression.

I’ve called this blog The Progressive Grandma for a reason, but sometimes it seems to involve too much garbage. I do believe in the Power of One. I can make a difference, but being negative about it isn’t the way. The balance has been lost, but I don’t have to get lost in the resulting crap pile. Crape Diem or Crap o’ the Day, must evolve. Even crap gets to be fertilizer.

So many other things are more important. And more interesting. And more progressive. I want to be positive in my approach to living and communicating. So here again, I‘ll commit to being the essential Me. Mother to the best daughter ever. Grandmother to the cutest, smartest most interesting grandson ever. And more– artist, jeweler, bellydancer, cat lover, humanist, Ex-Mormon-pagan Buddhist (which leads to my paradoxical spiritual atheism), ADD, transplant to Colorado at age 60, Type O negative blood (maybe that’s where it comes from), nature-loving earth Empress.

So when I post political crap, I’ll try to offset it with some good news about progressive ideas or activities along with it. The news is not all bad. I’ll find the good stuff too. My Good Buddy Donovan/Sid/Delta Don/Donnifer started a 30-day blogging campaign a while back. This is my first post to do the same. It’s an outward declaration of my intent, and I’ll elaborate as I go. Mostly because I’m writing by the seat of my pants. It will improve.

And so it begins.

Single parenting, roommates, and lesbian moms

Two Mommies might better than one in some cases according to an article I saw in the June 25 “The Week” Magazine. Nanette Gartrell did a 25-year study of children raised by lesbian couples that showed children raised by “lesbian couples had higher self-esteem and more confidence than kids in straight families; they also performed better academically and were less likely to break rules or act aggressively.” The author was surprised by the findings. She followed 78 kids until their 18th birthday. The pregnancies were planned and achieved by in vitro fertilization which may show that planning and dedication make a positive difference. Gartrell also states that children of lesbian parents are no worse off than kids with straight parents, “and in fact are psychologically happy and high functioning.”

I also read a study several years ago that concluded that children of divorced or single parents benefitted by having a second adult in the household. Two adults, no matter what gender mix or the relationship, created a more stable environment and the kids were happier and higher functioning.

So much for the contention that you MUST have a man and a woman, husband and wife, locked into matrimony arrangement for a family to be healthy. Children benefit from having supportive, involved parents with some common sense who create a secure family environment and who can meet their kids’ physical, emotional, and social needs. (In practical reality, that reduces the parenting field quite a bit.) The rest is just gravy in comparison.

I hope this is one more step in the path to ending the discrimination against gay marriage, single parent families — anything other than the perfect family. The barriers keep falling in unexpected places, and it has to continue. Science and humanism can eventually trump ideological hypocrisy and allow society to move forward, and this is a great exampe of that.

Jennifer and I had our own little version of this study, the differences being I am straight, divorced, and I was not having an intimate relationship with any of the roommates. But we did have a 2-adult household quite bit of the time

During her teen years when I was single and working at Westminster College, Jennifer and I had roommates living with us at different times. Three women and one man who I knew from Westminster took turns being the second adult in the household. The first, Michelle was a co-worker who was breaking up with her boyfriend. She was needing a safe place to live while rearranging her entire life. She was a cool roommate. The second was a Westminster student who turned out to be a rigid vegetarian and not much fun to live with — it didn’t last long. The third, Don, was a former student hired by the college and is still one of my best friends. He lived with us a little over 2 years and we had a lot of fun. He and Jennifer had some conflicts, but that was part of the growing up for both of them. There was, and is, a lot of love and tenderness among us. The fourth was another former Westminster student, Tracy, who was returning from law school to take the Utah Bar exam. We have been close for a long time, and still keep in touch.

This all occurred during Jennifer’s teen years. It was interesting and not the usual single-parent situation at that time. I don’t know if this had anything to do with it, but she and I had a wonderful and fun relationship during those years. They were my best years. Nothing since then compares.

The family situations that work are not always configured the way tradition says they should be. She and I learned to not push each other’s buttons and we got along so well–absolutely the opposite that you hear about with teens. Maybe having that second adult helped, but we were also open to breaking some of the stereotypes that don’t seem to work all that well. It got down to respecting each other and having some compassion for the individual quirks and delights that occur naturally. We let a lot of traditional crap go and just cared about each other.

Just a thought.

Talk Thursday – Breaking Habits

Few people really know me and I have not been terribly revealing about Me-self in this blog. The following is a cryptic and incomplete synopsis of who I am and some of the habits that inhabit Me.

Baby Boomer, single, female. Born and raised in Eastern Oregon town of about 10,000 people – one-third cowboys, one-third farmers, and one-third college professors – set in the lovely and enduring Blue Mountains. Moved to Colorado November 2009 to be near my daughter, but lived in Utah for too long a time prior. Mountains have become a Happy Habit.

As a result of the Utah experience and several unexpected awakenings, I escaped the Mormon Mind-Fuck. I am now an official Ex-Mormon happily learning to cultivate the habit of enjoying each moment without guilt as a student of Buddhism (which also means I’m an atheist). I hold that fundamentalist religion, including fundamentalist Christianity, is one of the most destructive forces on the planet.

Being addicted to being ADD (or maybe that’s a habit too), I have collected disparate interests, none of which I have developed to any high degree but some of which I’m pretty at in spite of everything: Music (classically trained in voice, piano, and the woodwinds), art, politics, bellydancing, writing (technical and copywriting), cats/pets, crafts, wire and gemstone jewelry, and a big one, spirituality without religion (humanism). I have a knack for setting people at ease. Probably some more I’ve forgotten, but we’ll catch up later.

My one child, a daughter, and young grandson are both are major influences and loves of my life. (Unlike birth in some Mormon familial herds, parenthood of one child is not a habit.) I moved here to be closer to them after her ex-husband killed himself and left her with a good deal more than her fair share to deal with. Plus I didn’t want to repeat my own mother’s pattern of being distant from beloved people. I love my daughter immensely and I want to engage as fully as possible with her and her son. So far, good habit.

Well educated: I have a BA degree in English with a minor in music, an MBA, and half a BA degree in art, and half a Master’s degree in technical writing and editing. I have also coached with Steve Slaunwhite and others, and have certified in business copywriting. In spite of that I’m also unemployed, carving an income out of thin air writing and editing resumes and business documentation. Oh yeah, and maybe blogging, writing website copy, investing, thinking positive thoughts, and professionally trolling for business – otherwise known as networking.

Some Boomers were activists and protested everything. (There was a lot to protest). Then they turned to conservatism, apparently in a form of misplaced guilt. I did precisely the opposite. I was fanatically apathetic during the 60’s, then later opened to being as liberal and progressive as others turned conservative. Which brings me to this blog.

I can’t seem to shake the politics, arts, music, crafts, spirituality blend of interests, so I’m not going to try. I used to apologize for being left of everything, but it’s part of who I am. I used to apologize for skipping around in my interests, but that’s who I am as well. You may find threads of all that here, and that’s okay. (Warning: sometimes inconsistent in posting, but I mean well.) Inconsistency is a habit I’m trying to break.

However, we are not our blogs nor are we our habits. Blogs are not obligations. Blogs are for whatever you need them to be. The very few people who read my blog will notice that I changed the appearance, and that is intentional. Blogs can be amplified, changed, broken, ignored, or dumped; ditto habits.

When asked as a teen what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was, “Eccentric.” It has become my Habit. However, unlike Inconsistency, I won’t even try to break it.

So be it.