Friday, May 12, 2017

My Last Kiss

Who was your last kiss with?
Was it memorable?

My son and I are in Pennsylvania visiting a dear, dear, dear friend of mine named Julie. Jules and I have been friends for about 14 years. We met through a St. Louis homeschool group so long ago and simply enjoyed one another so much that we have remained friends all of these years, though she and her family moved to Pennsylvania about five years ago. Our sons are also very good friends.

Julie is a very unique woman. She and I are so very very different, primarily in our social comfort levels. I'm hugely comfortable in social situations and Julie would rather not. (Though every single party I've ever been at with her she is delightful!) But her preference is that she can't even.

I say this mostly because she has never hugged me or outwardly expressed her love for me. But I have always know it anyway.  I usually say, I love you and I know that you love me.
She'll shrug and say yeah.

A few weeks ago Julie got news that she has breast cancer. Yes, BOOM, life changes. She had several weeks until she could see her oncologist for more information, so three weeks of fear, not knowing, fatalism, expectations, planning for the worse, complete freaking out, and general depression...which she mainly kept to herself. 

She told me about a week ago about the diagnosis, a few days before her visit to the oncologist. John and I immediately prepared to drive up the day he finished his final in his course at school. We left two hours after he completed the test and then we drove through the night to get here to Pennsylvania. That was Tuesday, the day of her visit to the oncologist.  

By the time we arrived in the greyish morning, she already knew about her cancer. It is the "good" kind. She will not have to undergo chemo or radiation or any other treatment than a couple of medications by mouth. She will keep her hair. Her prognosis is great. 

When I arrived, she hugged me and kissed me.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Carin' Loathin' Here

Every time you click onto a blog you open yourself up to another person's thoughts, philosophies, biases, areas of interest, non interest, to their efforts, their hidden efforts, to their deeply held opinions, to their unspoken ideas, to their choices, to their struggles, to their celebrations, to their their LIFE.

Welcome to mine.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Thinking of Reopening the blog

atheist parent
I'm thinking about starting back up with this blog. Expect a bit of a redesign and less focus on homeschooling and more on just ...being.
Stay tuned.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Karen Loethen

atheist blog

You are invited to my new blog Carin' Loathen'.
I decided to start a new blog in an effort to keep this blog a generally unmuddied blog about atheist parenting and homeschooling. I enjoy blogging, I love my friends and readers, and I want to expand the topics and issues that I write about. I will feel freer on the new blog to stray from my main niche and to explore anything else. And that sounds fun.

As for the title of my new blog: I have an unusual name, a name that sounds a great deal like the words Carin' and Loathin', so I decided to use that. Kind of weird, kind of silly. Kind of fitting.

Please meet me over there!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thank You For Reading

atheist blog
Dear Friends, It is time to end this blogging journey I have been taking with you. I sincerely thank you for your time and friendship and good will. I have had the honor of meeting several people who read my blog and we've become friends and that's just


 You are invited to my new blog
Carin' Loathin'

Monday, September 12, 2016

Forever College Student

atheist blog
My daughter is in college right now at a local community college and my son will be starting in January. I took a class this summer and I will take another class this January at the same time as John. SO I've been on campus this fall for a number of reasons. I LOVE being on a college campus. Can I please be a Forever College Student?

First of all because the vibe is so fresh and exciting and fun and second because the people are so interesting! And Third because I love to learn things. These three people in the pic are just a few of the really amazing people I met and talked to the other day when I was helping at the brand new Freethinker's Club on campus. You should  meet the two guys who started the club, Kyle and Evan: WOW. These two young men are so amazing. I love seeing their desire to do things coupled with their can do attitudes coupled (tripled?) with their actual actions to make things happen. Very admirable.

Liz and John and I have talked about it and they are both interested in the Freethinker's Club and they don't mind if I participate. On one hand I feel as though I might be nosing my way into the club when I should leave it to the younger kids, on the other hand I have met some really nice people, a few of which are older and who I would like to see again as friends, and on the third hand I have some stuff to offer the group. I'm excited about it; it's a far cry from the ridiculous sorority I joined back in the '80s.  LOL

I was also considering participating in another club that I interacted with on campus, though the kids aren't interested in that one at I nuts? Am I reliving my youth? Are you jealous?  :)

My husband is happy for me to have the interest and I'm frickin' delighted that I have the ability to follow my bliss in this way. The Freethinkers Club is very new and I'm excited to see what the new members want to do with it. Will it be more social, social activism, informational, service, educational, political? We'll see.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


atheist blog
What a waste of time.
I was looking at some Patheos posts tonight and I can see that just about anybody can post just about anything. People are posting opinion pieces that read more like uninformed rants than researched and educated articles. I'm glad I don't generally waste my time there.

Even though I had flipped around and skimmed several posts, it wasn't until I got to a piece on homeschooling that I decided to say something here about it. The author of the article is Bert Nobody simply repeating the usual nonsense about socialization, how badly-prepared parents are to teach their children, and, my favorite, how parents already have five years of brainwash time for their kids and now those kids need their parents to lose control of their minds and send them to school, damn it. I'm going to give the author the benefit of the doubt that he is specifically referring to politics and religion, but I think I'm being generous there.

But still, what a crock. The author has no connection to homeschool (from what I can tell) and generally seems to focus his interests on politics, religion, and computer programming. Why should we read anything that he writes about homeschooling? 

For the same reason why you wouldn't read anything I write about Linux or C++.

Another post I skimmed at Patheos was about Josh Duggar. 
Maybe Patheos is a wonderful resource for sharing ideas and exploring current events. But from my few minutes on the site I doubt I'll be back much because it looks more like those newspapers at the grocery store check out lane.

Maybe you know of some good writers on Patheos...?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I'm Writing a Book

atheist parenting
I can't decide if this is a ridiculous idea or not, but I've decided to write a book for atheist parents. Does that sound crazy? Are there just too many books like that? Do I have anything at all to say? 

I don't know.
I know that the cool thing to do is to work on it and mention it just as it's about to be published...I'm not that cool.
There is nothing like writing to make you quite certain that you, actually, shouldn't be writing. Sorry for the crude metaphor but it's like hanging your ass out of the window and hoping that someone would pay to see it up close. Writing is such a vulnerable thing. Even writing a blog like this makes me feel quite vulnerable at times; now consider an entire book!

Do I have anything fresh to say? Yes, I thiiiiink I do.
Is my writing readable? I don't know, I hope so.

Would there be a market for a book on atheist parenting?
I think so. When I started parenting as an atheist almost twenty years ago I would have paid real dollars for a book like this. There are more books available now. But there are also more people coming out of the closet and looking for some guidance, community, wisdom...

I have to admit that I've been reading some atheist parenting books over the last month and I'm not very impressed with some of them; while I'm super impressed with others... 

So I started this project; I've been working on a book for a week or so and I'm fairly happy with it but I could use some input. What could I write about? What are subjects or topics or questions that interest you? What questions do you still have? What kind of information did you look for? Also, if I posted some questions or polls on this blog, would you answer them to help me out?

YES, I'm looking for ideas for more content.  :)

But even more, would you read a book by me? Would you recommend it to people? Am I too scattered to take seriously? Do I even need to be all that serious? I don't know...
I would truly LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear from you.

Please comment below OR send your comments to me at:
karen.thesecularparent (at)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mike McHargue

atheist blog
Today on Facebook my friend asked her atheist friends to give her some thoughts on Mike McHargue, this guy who is claiming to be an atheist-now-believer-in-Jesus based on a moment on the beach with an indescribable light, a moment that he considers mystical, a connection with god.
Here's the video my friend posted.

I'd never heard of the guy, but I had some time so I watched a couple of interviews with him and some of his brief media videos. He seems to have a nice little wave of notoriety going on. Seems he has been podcasting for some time on a show called Ask Science Mike. On iTunes I see over 80 podcasts.

I don't know how Mike claims to be an atheist when he's clearly been podcasting as a Christian for over a year... But I admit that I don't know the guy. Maybe he's just building up his audience in anticipation of release of his book Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science. Wouldn't it be great if that sold millions? 

Call me a skeptic (OK, you're a skeptic) but this whole thing sounds like a giant set up, a performance designed to capture a very specific audience. Mike McHargue clearly states in a second clip on his youtube channel that he has written this book for people who are in that gray area, in that area where science and social media has begun to get to you, to make sense, to inspire doubt. This book was written for those people who are beginning to see the light...this book is for you. So he says.

This entire campaign seems to me like a carefully orchestrated piece of propaganda designed to snare those people who are struggling with belief. It is a campaign designed to use the word science to comfort those who can no longer ignore science's validity. And I find that loathsome, disgusting, and incredibly manipulative.

Feeling a sense of the sublime, on the beach and whatever his vague claims are, are human feelings. I feel the sublime in many places. Those places, in no way, are a god to me. Pure nature is breathtakingly huge and beautiful and terrible and beyond our current comprehension. STILL, not a god. I promise you, a moment of awe would never make an atheist suddenly become a believer in any supernatural story and no freethinker would ever go back to the bonds of mythology that ensnare religious minds. I despise it when believers claim to be atheists in order to prove that atheism can be overcome by faith.
I do doubt Mike McHargue. I think that he is marketing to a huge group of people today: the people who are watching religious claims receding in the light of knowledge and the people who are openly or secretly doubting what they have been taught to believe...

Just a few cents in a few moments of thought.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

On Fleek

atheist blog
Or An Fleak
Or En Phlyque.
Or whatever. Which ever way I would write it I would be wrong. It's all about generational identity; I'm not supposed to get it.

Sometime during the late 80s my younger sister and I were at a stage performance somewhere in our small little hometown. She was about 18 so I was about 25. The stage set background had all kinds of hep symbols and things that made the show (which was a very old show) look edgy and cool. Among the words and symbols on the set pieces was the round-shaped word Phish. I asked my sister what that was and she said to me It's an underground band; you don't know who they are.

My rude but obvious reply was Well, there it is. The fun's over; I know about it now.

I assume that most recent generations of teens have their own identifying secret codes, language, music, fashion, etc. My own generation had the cave paintings at Lascaux. We know what that shit means, but we ain't saying. There are hidden symbols among the paintings but you have to know where to look to decode it. It's something that only we know.

I've been thinking about this a bit tonight and I'm thinking that it might have something to do with the general angstiness of the teen years; like even though we don't have anything else we still identify with us. Which makes me wonder if it is a phenomenon that has been around in one way or another forever and for always or if it's a more recent development. Have humans in the teen years always experienced the what is it all about...thing and then have they created meaning and identity in their own way? 

Did Nefertiti's six daughters say to their annoying ruler of a parent It's a SUN thing; you wouldn't understand? Did Tacitus's children tell their respected elder quod suus ' a juventute, with attitude? I know that Galileo had one daughter and I know that she told him Thou aren'tst even close to understanding me, Father. And surely Hermann Göring's daughter lamented es ist außerdem ein Geheimnis, Sie verstehen nicht , Vater. And certainly the Jolie-Pitt children have their own secret language that their parents don't know about. 

Generational identity.
It does seem that these identifying markers are moving quickly, though, rather than every twenty years or so, seems like a new set of cultural markers seem to pop up every five years or so. Thanks to social media, most likely. The usual cultural identities are based on language usage, fashion, music, shared specific values and trends, the general climate and cultural events of an era, poetry/books/film, and a general mindset. I promise you these logger beards won't always be considered so hawt because fads such as this pass so quickly. Just moments ago we were wearing giant shoulder pads and earrings that looked like cough drops. Confidently. 

I'm not sure when generations started being named by the media, surely it started before the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials. I understand that the term Generation Alpha is being considered for the next generation already. What if they want to be known as something else? Surely social media has its own power, not just spreading culture but also creating it...Hmmmm.

So if we study generations, do we impact them?  Hmmmmm.
Does looking at the phenomenon of generational identity somehow falsify any knowledge we seem to gain from that study, muddy the waters a bit? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, just a few thoughts after spending a few hours on a college campus today. I was on my own working at a booth at a campus event. My observations and interactions were interesting and so eye-opening. Just not erudite.