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.

The Optimist Creed

Redirecting the negative to positive begins with a new outlook. A promise to look at the possibilities of growth and prosperity rather than constriction and lack. The Optimist Creed says exactly what I hope to do from here on.

Print and post this brilliant piece of inspiration from the past. It still applies and if more of us adopt this creed, perhaps the liberal thinkers in this country can begin a new conversation. We truly need one.

The Optimist Creed

PROMISE YOURSELF . . .
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of life and make your Optimism come true.
To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

By Christian D. Larson
Originally published in 1912 in a book titled: “Your Forces and How to Use Them.”

Seeking a new side and still feeding the stray cats.

I so struggle with this blog as the “Progressive Grandma”. On the one hand I feel that progressive voices need to be heard during this time of political upheaval when voices of ignorance and oppression are so loud and often appear to be winning, (from my point of view, not theirs.)

On the other hand, what does one actually DO about it? I want to be a positive influence rather than a whiney or strident voice for liberals. Just being the opposite of the “other side” is just that — the opposite. It’s not an answer or a solution. Taking sides only makes the issues worse by further entrenching each side. The argument will never heal the situation or help the people who suffer in the midst of it.

I think what I want is to be on the side of healing, whatever that side is, if it is a “side” at all. I have another feeling an acceptable solution is not tied to a political party or any ideology. I have a feeling it is tied to an emotional/spiritual state of being or community that is growing, but not yet coalesced. I want to be part of that community.

And what is the acceptable solution I want? I want a society that values individuals over money, ideology, religion, and corporate profits. As it is now, the balance is gone. Our country is now governed by big money, big banks, bad religions, and massively UNenlightened political self-interest on both sides. (Although I favor the Democrats because they at least begin with the premise that government is a good thing and is meant to help those who need it.)

We need enlightened self-interest. Caring for each other, especially the downtrodden, should be honored rather than reviled. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of calling the unemployed lazy, the jobs they lost due to outsourcing were to return to the US? Who favors globalization? Both sides.

And on the financial front, institutions that created bad loans and toxic derivatives got away with it. John Paulson made $20 billion by betting on the bad loans with hedge funds. Many others made money in the same way. There was more incentive to screw the pooch than there was to be honest. Now that’s so out of balance you have to create a whole new playing field. Enron thieves were punished. Have the rabid jackals been punished this time? A few, but not enough of the dudes pushing the market into the toilet for their own gain have gotten the jail time they so richly deserve. Maybe it will come.

The balance between citizens and big money has been slipping for a long time and now we have reached a tipping point where the damage is irrefutable. Jobs are gone, unemployment is rampant, foreclosure continue to increase, and the financial and corporate institutions that could help mitigate the damage are parked on mountains of money, most of it from taxpayers, and not loaning or hiring.

I’ve looked for answers in many places and usually just end up spinning my wheels. Perhaps the best thing for me to do here is talk about what I find and how I will work to survive. I have no job, I’m 61 and not likely to get a job soon. The freelancing gig is improving , but isn’t all that lucrative right now. So I am still drawing from savings when I run out of money. It’s getting better and I am optimistic. I’m also learning new financial skills I’ll talk more about next time.

I don’t spend much. My lifestyle is spare. I keep the heat at 60 degrees to save money there and wear more clothes. I heat my office with space heaters and spend most of my time there. Of course the fact that I feed about five stray cats probably eats (pun intended tee hee) any savings I have there.

Oh well. I’ll keep feeding those damn cats as well as my own. If they are going to live around my house, I’ll help keep them at least fed and healthy.

Until my next rumination. . .

technical but interesting article about John Paulson’s hedge fund from Naked Capitalist blog by Tom Adams and Yves Smith: FCIC Report Misses Central Issue: Why Was There Demand for Bad Mortgage Loans?
No promises, but maybe the link will work.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/01/fcic-report-misses-central-issue-why-was-there-demand-for-bad-mortgage-loans.html