Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Teen Atheists

teen atheists, teen atheist, teen atheist, teen atheist atheist parent  atheist parent
I've been thinking about experiences of atheist teens, especially on social media. It's no secret that social media is a huge part of the lives of most teenagers these days, and that is interesting. This is the first generation in the history of humankind on this planet to be so connected.

Yet I am wondering how disconnected some teens are also feeling in spite of the online communities. Now that I am a part of the atheist community I know that online resources are important and meaningful ...and I had an idea.

I am now in the beginning stages of working on a project for online teens that I am super excited about. I'm developing a completely unique and exciting show for the youtube channel SecularTv that will be exclusively for skeptical teens. This project will be both for teens and by teens.

To that end, I could use some assistance.
I'm looking for some special people who might be interesting in participating in a weekly show. This person will be between the ages of 12-18, will have parental approval and knowledge of participation, will be willing to be openly atheist online, will have between 2-4 hours a week to spare, and will be interested in exploring a unique vehicle for skeptical advocacy and advancement. 


Also, I fully expect this project will be FUN.

Interested teens can contact me at:  karen.thesecularparent.com


THANKS!
I'm hoping that I can get this project off of the floor soon, so time is ticking!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

#IMGOINGTOHELL

Atheist humor atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent
I know I shouldn't, but I'm passing this along.

Jesus Christ is My Nigga

The funny thing is, if this had been done as satire it wouldn't be as funny. I can't get over the fact that somebody said, I have a great idea and a second person said YES, we can really pull that off.

#Imgoingtohell

Sunday, June 28, 2015

You Deny God Because You Want to Sin

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The Sin Factor.
I was reading some stuff tonight about what atheists believe, writings from various Christian websites.
 

.
(I was just doing it for fun...WHAT?! Don't judge me!)
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On Creation.com I learned that many Christians are given extremely disingenuous and misleading information about atheist, so it's no wonder that many believers are actually frightened of freethinkers. It's a sad fact that people who visit these websites are given false information to keep them plugged into the religion.

If you are now an atheist, were you a Christian or other believer at some point in your life? I was a Catholic. I ask this question because I remember it very clearly: times when atheists were explained or characterized in an alarming way. I was frightened as hell of atheists when I was a believer so I think I get it, their fear and derision. They are fed these incredible lies.


Creation.com claims that all people, first of all, experience a time in their life when they know that they need God. Second, these scoundrels, the atheists, then, needing God, consciously choose to turn their backs on God in order to choose a sinful lifestyle...probably a sexual lifestyle, as is the insinuation of the website. Other websites even feel sorry for atheists for their sad lack of belief in an afterlife. It is also quite sad that atheists hate God so much. You see, much of the dripping sarcasm of some of these Christian writers is quite comical, though I grant some of the writers some leniency for their honest efforts to try to understand.


Some writer of these Christian sites are fearfully arrogant about their belief in the sin-soaked world in which we live. Evolution seems to be a comical idea for many of the writers on these websites. Some argue that most atheists probably never really give important issues honest thought. Some say that there is no such a thing as a good atheist. And, although I admit to having done very little research in this matter at this point, one webpage I was on claimed that science is making strides in finding evidence for God's existence. Imagine! 

So let's get on to the sin...although the current pope has allowed that atheists would be perfectly fine as long as they follow their conscience, not all Christians are as generous as the leader of the Catholic church in Vatican City. Although I don't have affection for church leaders as a whole, I appreciated Pope Francis's efforts, however late to the game, however little. 


Did you know that Hamartiology is the branch of theology that deals with the study of sin? I noticed that some Christian colleges actually offer Hamartiology as a major. Imagine studying sin...

From my reading I think that some believers would doubt the claim that Atheists Just Want to Sin, so I shall give that caveat. But many Christians and Muslims truly believe that atheists live in fear of and with disdain for the moral certainties of the religions and with a preference for living a life of gluttony, sexual vices, full of deceit and pride, free of the consequences of their actions, disdainful of life, valuing no one and nothing.



I know from my reading that many believers will be disdainful of my next point...yet it is one of my deepest-held truths, it is fundamental to my complete disbelief in any and all religion and all things supernatural: I do not believe in any such a thing as sin...even beyond the moral relativity thing.

Most fundamental definitions of sin refer to rejecting deities and teachings of religions. The concept of sin in religions holds behavior and human goodness secondary to belief in the deity. Yes, the concept of sin in religions is a construct designed to enslave the mind. If I am too fearful of questioning the god of my culture because I don't want to sin, then I will never have the courage to think outside of that box. Fear. The concept of sin is the prison.


And finally, few freethinkers that I have spoken to even mention the concept of sin in their deconversion except for how their fear of sin kept them living in mental torture and discomfort for so long on their journey away from religion. Moving away from the concept of sin, freedom. 


  What do you think?

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You Might Also Enjoy These Posts:
 It Takes More Faith to be an Atheist
Atheists Cannot Experience True Joy
You Were Never a Real Believer
Your Life Has No Meaning
Everything Happens for a Reason

Secular Homeschooling on the Web

atheist homeschool secular


For those of you secular homeschooling parents who are feeling kind of isolated in this non-secular world, tune into this online resource called Secular Homeschooling on the Web. The online publication seeks to make it easier and more fun to locate secular homeschooling stories.

Kind of fun fact, one of my blog posts is included in this edition of the magazine. 

Check it out and tell me what you think because it's new! It's published with an app called Flipboard, which I don't even understand...but I think it's cool. lol.  

The new Secular Homeschooling on the Web mag is a continuously updated, easy-to-navigate, beautifully displayed collection of content from the web that I think you'll want to explore again and again. It's accessible from your favorite mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet as well as from any desktop.. And the best part? It's completely FREE!


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You Might Also Enjoy:
I Wish More Homeschoolers Were Secular
You Are Not Alone
Raising Atheist Children?

Friday, June 26, 2015

An Unexpected Benefit of Deconversion

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I've been doing some reading and research tonight for a project that I have started to work on, when a sudden thought came to me: my deconversion from religion actually effects my descendants! Being an open and determined atheist means that my children and my children's children and their children will not have their eyes closed by belief.

I'm absolutely thrilled knowing that my difficult deconversion has set up future generations to have freedom and open minds and most importantly, the absence of mythology that blocks up reason and logic. I am giving the beloved children of my descendants the freedom to choose what makes sense to them instead of having the burden of an inherited belief system. 

They won't know it. These beloved scions won't know that my husband and I have given them this gift. But that's OK, I don't need the recognition. I'm truly moved, though, knowing that our freethinking will positively effect the trajectory of those who come after us. I'm proud to be the transitional generation.

Additionally it makes me think about how essential the internet has been for so many voices to be out there, available for anyone to hear, so that anyone can explore outside-of-the-box thoughts and opinions...what a world where humans can finally learn more about lifestyles (and so many other things) that are outside of the majority.

Think about that! Have you ever thought of that?
What a gift to give to our future.
 

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Other posts you  might enjoy:

Why are there so Few Atheist Parenting Blogs?
I'm a Lover not a Fighter
Science is your God
First-Generation Atheist Parenting
I Guess I'm a Hypocrite

Thursday, June 25, 2015

You Take My Breath Away

the beauty of life, musings, atheist parent atheist parent
What takes your breath away?

Last month my daughter was on stage in a very dramatic moment of a scene when I realized that I had actually forgotten to breath! I was sitting up straight with a ridiculous smile on my face and I am sure I looked like a hunting dog...

I couldn't take my eyes off of her.

Similarly, she was recently in a local independent movie and, while watching her scene, I noticed that I was getting light-headed. I had simply forgotten to breath.

Sometimes, when John is looking into my eyes, forehead to forehead, I try to appear calm. But on the inside, I am overcome.

The love. It is so deep.
I've been a parent for over eighteen years now and you would think that I would be used to the overwhelming depth of it all...but I'm not. I'm still moved by the gentle breathing out, breathing in and I'm still filled with wonder at the variations of color of an eye. I'm still amazed at the depth and breadth of compassion I see in them. The depth of thought and understanding that a child displays still has the power to throw me for a loop.  My children. 


Are they perfect?  HELZ to the no.
But their intentions are good, their hearts are sweet, and their determination shows.


Just another sappy I love being a parent post...

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You Might Also Enjoy:
Heart Outside of my Body

Do You Know Who I Am?
One of my Worst Parenting Days: Making Mountains
A Letter to the Parents of a "Difficult" Child
Some Days Suck

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

OY!!! The NEA Has No Respect for Me

homeschooling atheist parent atheist parent
SO, apparently the NEA (National Education Association) has come out strongly against homeschooling in their 2014-2015 resolutions. I hope you take a moment and read what the NEA has decided is their public stance toward homeschooling:


Now the National Education Association describes their goals and missions as being one of providing public education for every child in their purview. Which makes me wonder why they have anything at all to say about homeschooling. But it's nice to know how unhappy the organization is toward homeschooling and scary to wonder who is listening to them.

The resolution states: Homeschooling programs based on parental 
 choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive educational experience. 

THEY SAID THAT.
The unmitigated AUDACITY of this comment is what set me off on this rant to start with. The outright pomposity of the writing notwithstanding, I find it unbelievably conceited and uninformed of this organization to make a statement that is so very false when anyone can find opposing evidence so easily online. Study after study has pronounced homeschooling to be a successful and healthy way to educate our children.


Furthermore, I think it's just unkind and mean-spirited to specifically recommend disallowing homeschooling kids from participating in school activities. It's like saying You are either with or against us. We are immature about this. 

Isn't this kind of...small? Some children in homeschool families get sports, music, tutoring, etc from local schools, as they should! Can we talk about how my taxes support the schools in my district even though we don't get any services there. Without even mentioning my support of the school district, it just seems bullyish to deny our kids access to district activities.

Our family did approach our nearest high school a few years ago, hoping my daughter could participate in after school theater. Although the theater teacher was thrilled to have her there, the teacher ultimately, grudgingly told my daughter couldn't participate in school activities as  homeschooler. Allowing homeschool kids participate in school activities is already an issue dealt with differently from district to district.

The people who give bullies power, are those that stand by and let #bullying happen. #bethechangeThe NEA's position on and recommendation of a homeschooling parent being licensed or overseen by some authoritative body is, to me, another piece of evidence showing that the NEA has no idea what homeschooling is all about. It is not school at home. This lifestyle, homeschooling, is about teaching as they learn, following interests, creating our own unique educational experience for our kids, responding to our children's needs instantly. For some people, it is true, homeschooling is a rejection of public education; the NEA actually thinking that they should offer any guidelines for homeschoolers is the ultimate arrogance.

The idea that someone else should select the materials that we use in our home would push me right over the edge. Again, this is not school at home. I promise you, I would start operating under the table if the State Department of Education would assume to decide materials for my children. NO ONE has the right to tell me what to do. Again, this suggestion of the NEA's most resent resolution shows how little they understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.

I realize that this document that they released has no power, but some political powers might actually look to the NEA for advice regarding homeschooling in their state. In fact, it would seem to me that the failures of the schools in this country would make the word of the NEA no more than powerless drivel.

Regardless, Homeschoolers are not in the purview of the NEA.
And the NEA has no respect from me.
I know quite a few people who are in support of abolishing the public school system in its entirety for its failures and weaknesses and its abuses. I am not one of them; I am simply  a m u s e d  by their contempt.

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You Might Also Enjoy:

More Reasons to Homeschool...In the News
Homeschool Strategies
A Very Damaging List Against Homeschooling
Homeschoolers are Weird

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RELAX...it's Just God!

atheist parenting, Wendy Thomas Russell, Relax...it's just god atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent
Being a freethinking parent even ten years ago was such a different proposition. Books, public role models, and an openly secular vibe did not exist...anywhere! Those days were so different; what a difference a decade makes. We parents who worked so hard to find our way out way out of religion's grasp back in those days had very little published support. So atheist parent and blogger Wendy Russell Thomas did what so many of us wish we had done: she wrote the book that she would like to have read.

Wendy is the author of an eponymously named blog that I have read for several years now called Wendy Thomas Russell, Relax...It's Just God. Her comforting and informing voice hasn't been on her blog lately though because she has embarked on an exciting new adventure as an author of a book for first gen atheist parents, a book called Relax...it's Just God: How and Why to Talk to Your Kids about Religion When You're Not Religious.


Since Wendy and I are driving similar roads, writing and creating projects for secular parenting, it has been my pleasure to have some time in her busy life for a lovely chat about what is going on with her and what is meaningful for her. I'll pass that conversation on to you soon.

I'm reading RELAX... now and I
HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!
 

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Other posts you might enjoy:
It Takes More Faith to be an Atheist

Monday, June 22, 2015

Secular Parenting: Going to "Church"

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I'm not going to kid you, I'm so thrilled with my new show The Secular Parents and I'm not going to pretend to be modest about it. I honestly feel like we (the cohosts, Be Asia, Rayven, and myself) are working hard to make the show relevant and interesting and useful. Your feedback would help, honestly!, but I'm proud of our learning curve.

Not only are we learning how to be hosts, we are also learning how to schedule guests, how to contact people to be on the show, how to prepare for a show, how to share the cohosting duties, how to manage the unexpected... We are also learning the technical side of the broadcast. We all find that part quite daunting, yet we have problem-solved some minor disasters!

10 year old Seth and Rayven
Tonight's show was unusual for me for...reasons. 
I am dealing with a quite severe nerve pinch in my lower back, with accompanying painful leg cramps; I'm taking a very strong painkiller and a strong muscle relaxer. Tonight I was pretty stoned during the broadcast. I couldn't think straight and I zoned out quite a bit. So much so, in fact, that when I went back to listen to it, I kept thinking I don't remember that part!  lol

14 year old John
But I consider tonight's broadcast a success! We talked to our kids about their experiences with church, religion, and the religious in this episode called TEC: Teens Encounter Church (Catholics might recognize the reference there). Our kids all had such interesting observations and thoughts on the matter. And the thing that I found the most interesting was their response to the question  
Do you think you could ever believe in a deity?  

Be Asia and 15 year old Essence
I'm not going to ruin it for you by telling you their answers, but I know that some very thoughtful parenting and some very thinking brains went into those answers.
Check it out.


The Secular Parents are planning on moving our live broadcast from our comfy Sunday evenings to Sunday Brunch format. We are hoping that that will be neat and will bring some energy to our show.  Here's a sneak peak at our new meme. It's not the final one because we recently asked Rayven to join us full time as a cohost (Woo hoo!) AND because the time is incorrect.  More on that when we officially announce our time change.

Have you listened to any of our broadcasts?
Your honest feedback is very welcome. We welcome opportunities to improve this project of ours.
In the meantime, we have some very exciting guests scheduled to be on the show...so we hope you stand by!

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Links You Might Also Enjoy:
Being Out in the South
Independence Day: Free and Equal
PC Enough?
Why Compassion is not a Tactical Advantage
25 Ways to Pass "Love" and "Tolerance" on to your Kids

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Shot in the Arm: A Reader Comments

homeschool atheist parent atheist parent
As a very open homeschooling parent and atheist I am so lucky to get some of the nicest comments and to meet some of the coolest, neatest people on the planet. I have met several readers who are now friends in real life. Having this blog has really enriched my life.

Today I got a comment on an older post on this blog, a post called More Reasons to Homeschool...in the News that really has me beaming. I want to thank Claudia for taking the time to tell her story. I'm thrilled to hear how the homeschooling lifestyle had a significant hand in the improvement of the lives of her children! I hope Claudia doesn't mind that I share her comment here; I didn't know how to contact her:
Hi Karen, I just found your blog, it is interesting and informative. I homeschooled my son from grade 6 through high school. He was having difficulty with anxiety and panic problems, seeing a pediatric psychologist and trying to learn new coping strategies. The thought of himself going to middle school was causing him so much angst, that I made the decision to homeschool...it was one of the best things I did. He achieved, really achieved academically. When in 10th and 11th grade, he was able to take college courses at our local community college. His English professor told everyone in the class that he never gave an 'A' grade because is would mean you were proficient and would be able write for a living. He was distrustful of my son's homeschooling. Guess who got the first and only 'A' given by the professor? A tenth grade homeschooler! He tested out of required mathematics and got an 'A' in chemistry. He now, at the age of 19, owns a company that was awarded a civic contract for building revitalization housing. He is also a full-time college student who is on the President's List at the community college. I could go on and on about him.
mm

My daughter was homeschooled from grades 2-until the very end of 4th grade when I needed to send her back to school because my health deteriorated and I was unable to give homeschooling the attention is required, she needed to take standardized PSSA testing with the rest of the students. The school principal did not want her to take the PSSA tests, sure that she would drag down the schools score. In the end, the principal delayed the her admittance as much as she could. In the end, my daughter had to take the science portion of the tests. She knocked their socks off. They were stunned by this homeschool girl, who had never taken those kinds of tests, out scoring their over-tested pupils. During the 5th grade, she continued her stellar performance and was recommend to test for the Johns-Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. This past year, 6th grade, she was on the 'Distinctive Honors' honor roll in middle school and elected as student of the month this past March.
..

She still longs to be homeschooled and my youngest girl, who is going into 3rd grade also wants to be homeschooled. My health is improving some and we are giving it a trial run this summer.
..

There were times during the homeschool year that the kids didn't feel able to focus. We would by able to work around that by deferring the class to the next day or going on a field trip to someplace interesting, like a cave, the zoo, a historical site such as Gettysburg or a children's museum. Within a day or two, they would be ready to hit the books again. Flexibility enable me to meet the need of the child, rather than the needs of the school.
..

Thank you for your valuable site.
..

Claudia

Claudia, thank you for making me feel that my blog has value. But more importantly, thank you for letting me share your story, a story that offers such hope and sincere help to prospective and current homeschooling parents. I hope to hear from you again when your health improves and you and your daughter are able to embark on her voyage of self-learning.

Choosing to homeschool your children is the riskiest of ventures, a risk that is often misunderstood, laughed at, unsupported. Yet again and again we see tremendously successful experiences in the lives of the children that we are raising. 

Today I applaud all children and parents who have taken the risk and who are doing everything in their power to make the homeschool lifestyle a healthy one, a lifestyle that encourages learning, personal growth, and individualism. 

Social media has both helped and harmed the homeschool movement but I choose to continue to be a homeschool supporter... especially since I can honestly see the advantages of living the lifestyle.

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 Other Posts You May Enjoy
More Reasons to Homeschool...In the News
Homeschooling and Socialization, Socialization and Homeschooling
Dually-Enrolled: Homeschooling High School


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bart Ehrman

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There is ONE good thing about being stuck in bed (I have a pinched nerve in my back and it's accompanied by very painful leg cramping), and that's the excellent video viewing time and book reading time I have. I have read through several of those excellent books on my table that I haven't had time for and I've been watching some great stuff on Netflix. I've watched the entire third season of Orange is the New Black.

Today is the crown. A couple of weeks ago on my show The Secular Parents, we had an episode on deconversion where a lovely guest on the show named Lori McFarlane told me about a book that she read by Bart Ehrman. I'd heard of Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for years but hadn't read anything by him. I'm finally reading him and I need more! His books are fairly dense and intellectual (at least Lost Scriptures: Books that Did not Make it into the New Testament is).

I'm beginning to think that Bart Ehrman is one of the most important philosopher, Biblical scholars of our time. I deeply appreciate his adherence to historical accuracy and validity in the over twenty-five books he has written during his study of religion. I've read many books that seek to understand and explore historical accuracy and inaccuracy in Christian tradition and this one that I am reading, Lost Scriptures, is among my favorites so far. I'm a sucker for source documents, context, precedent, and history.


I also recommend reading books by Karen Armstrong, Richard Carrier, and David Fitzgerald if you are doing a study of a contextual bible. It looks like Karen Armstrong has a newer book out that I haven't read yet called Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence. But I might just read Misquoting Jesus, then onto Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman next and keep on reading until I've had enough!

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
Sex, God, and Shame
Are You a Courageous Believer?
It Takes More Faith to be an Atheist

Time4learning

time4learning review
My son and I have been looking at online curriculum lately. He definitely needs more structure and he's very motivated to take on more lessons. In the past we have never even considered doing lessons in this way, so the entire world of online curriculum is new to us, except for courses like those from The Great Courses through The Teaching Company, which have been truly excellent. 

After spending a few hours together looking at various online curriculum, John and I have decided to give Time4learning a try! First, it is affordable. Second, I love that we can select various "levels" of a given subject at any time. Being hardcore homeschoolers we're never really sure what grade he is working in and it has simply never been important to us. So the freedom to move through the levels is essential to figuring out John's starting point and his trajectory through the material.

Third, while looking at animation on other sites John would just cover his eyes and shake his head. How is an educational site going to compete with the animation on games these days?! They can't, of course, but the animation that we demoed on Time4learning didn't attempt ridiculous humor and didn't... try too hard, if you know what I mean. It was entertaining at times, but didn't use stupid humor like others we looked at.

Fourth, the Time4learning lessons seem preferable and more flexible to us than other online programs we looked at, which include Calvert, Oak Meadow, and a few others I can't recall the names of right now. Fifth, John actually looks enthusiastic about starting the work...and I'm happy about that. Sixth, I'm looking forward to not having to purchase hundreds of dollars of materials (as Calvert required) because all materials with Time4learning are all available online.

If you are using time4learning
 please comment below 
and let me know what you think!  
And STAY TUNED for our experiences with this program!

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Posts you may also enjoy:
My Son Doesn't Like to Write 
What if They Never Learn to Read?
Do You Need A Homeschooling Strategy?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Little Gratitude

gratitude atheist parent atheist parent
Do you know what I have?
A happy life!

I don't know if the gratitude that fills my heart comes from the happy or if the happy comes from the gratitude, but today I have to express it! The joy is spilling out! I am so aware of the beauty of the life around me.


I'm grateful for:
Megan and Me
  • Social media and how it brings people together
  • Heating pads and painkillers
  • Family and friends who help you through the hard times.
  • Gentle rain.
  • Crickets.
  • Youtube and seventies music.
  • Reconnecting with my sister Brenda
  • Having an excellent relationship with my other sister Linda
  • My sister's goodness.
  • Comfy couches.
  • Root beer barrels.
  • Laughing baby videos on youtube.
  • Friendly neighbors.
  • Reruns.
  • Jerry's dinners,when he cooks or BBQs.
  • The kids doing laundry.
  • When people snort when they laugh genuinely. 
  • Jon Stewart.
  • When the kids can "pet sit".
  • Melissa.
  • When people support small business.
  • A warm hug, a strong shoulder.
  • Sharp kitchen knives.
  • Instant messaging.
  • The Wassup? app on my phone.
  • When people smile with their eyes.
  • Herman Kempf.
  • Open discussion about sexuality.
  • When friends share the results of their own interests and research. (Rayv)
  • Yard sales that sell donuts.
  • The smell of lilac.
  • Hot baths.
  • Tervis cups.
  • Sharf's produce farm. 
  • Freedom.
  • Video of George Carlin's gigs.
  • Marathons of "Orange is the New Black"
  • Having someone tell you fond memories that they have of you
  • Sharing books with friends.
  • Laughing until I cough with phlegm.
  • When people have warm hands.
  • Sepia-toned family pics from past generations.
  • Serendipity.
  • Kindred spirits.
  • When the bashing political ads and propaganda is over.
  • Having enough
  • Healthier meals.
  • When someone saves the last piece of cake for me.
  • Beautiful tile in the bathroom.
  • Naps.
  • Knowing that I have so much to be grateful for that this list could go on and on.
  • LOL moments.
  • Friends who agree with me that certain posts on social media are absolutely, frightfully ridiculous.
  • Free thought.
  • Family Game Nights.
  • When I can hear my son's imagination as he plays.
  • When I can hear my daughter's song.
  • When the checker at the grocery store knows me.
  • Loving sex.
  • A freshly-swept floor.
  • That my kids still play in the rain.
  • When people appreciate what I do for them.
  • My husband.
  • My children.
Can you add to this list?
Let's ignore the ignorant postings on Facebook today and, instead, talk about that for which we are grateful.


Are you in?

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
A Thank You Note to LIFE
Gratitude
Gratitude

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

Who I Am, Who You Are

who are the people who have helped you to become who you are?
Life is such a circuitous proposition.  In my little world I don't know a single person who can say that their life has been a straight line from point A to point B. My own lifeline looks alot like the cord of your earbuds after they've been in your purse for about an hour...or for five minutes.

I have a couple of teens in the house right now and I notice that they spend an inordinate amount of time acting as though they have their shit together, trying to convince me of that, trying to convince themselves of that. 
I remember being there, that place where appearing competent was essential to who I wanted to be. In fact, I thought it was just me that did that! It was exhausting and unending work keeping that facade up there.

It was a relief getting into my twenties and discovering the freedom to acknowledge the many things that I didn't know that I didn't know. In fact, confessing my ignorance in something, as I recall, was a wonderfully freeing thing for me back then. I learned that most important of lessons: acknowledging that you don't know a thing paves the way for true knowledge and wisdom to enter.

I can't talk about the beauty of growing into a better person, a more authentic person, without mentioning the people who helped me to become who I am, for better or for worse.


First there was Brenda. She was a neighbor woman who kept me from feeling entirely untethered for nearly a decade. She moved into the house across from me during my teens and she became super important to me. I can't help but wonder, now, if she wished I would stay home some days! She was a mother figure to me at a time when I didn't have one, and hadn't had one for awhile. She was a friend. She was a philosophical explorer with me. Brenda was imperfect, but her presence in my life in my late teens and early twenties helped me to feel heard, noticed, cared for.  And I think I did that for her too, in return. Although I haven't had significant time with her for years, to this day I feel a tremendous explosion of love for her whenever I think of her.


When I was a teen I got into the most important love affair of that time. Brian. We were together for almost four years. From that intense relationship I learned to not give up parts of myself in order to keep holding on to someone who can't love me for exactly who I am and who I am becoming. I also learned important things about parenthood, personhood, religion, and kindness.  OH, and sex. I am grateful that that type of intensity doesn't typify most relationships in the world. But OH MY!

Several years later, in my mid-twenties, I met the mother of my dear friend Lara, Jean. I can't say, concretely and consisely, what Jean exactly did for me. She was just there. She didn't go out of her way with me to do stuff, but that is what was so remarkable. She made it normal for me to be included and to feel important to her. She helped me work through some of my life story and to feel empowered at the end of it...somehow.

I had two therapists who were particularly important to me and who were genuinely caring toward me during their time.

My friends Lara, Rebecca, and Jamie. During my undergrad years, these women kept me grounded. From them, I felt admiration for my good qualities. That may seem like an odd thing to notice, but I felt authentic with them and they loved me for it. I can never thank them enough for their loving hearts.


Linda on the left and Brenda on the right
My disapproving brother in the center
with the Spirograph symbol.
I just don't think he'd appreciate being on my blog.
This was taken after Dad's death;
Linda hates the pic because she's talking.
My sisters Linda and Brenda have been vastly important in my development of my sense of self. Our closeness has waxed and waned over the years, but we have always loved one another deeply. They mean everything to me.

I had an excellent instructor in graduate school named Gary Behrman who really brought some good things out of me as a professional and as a human being.

My husband and my children are key to who I am now. Jerry is so freeing and generous and loving. I am truly my authentic self because of him.


What about you? 
Who are the people who have helped you to become who you are?  
I would be honored to hear your stories.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Satan

atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent  atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent atheism, satan
When I was a believer nothing, and I mean NOTHING, was more blood-curdlingly, blood freezingly frightening than the idea of the devil, any powers or beings related to the devil, and anything related to demons. The church had me so scared of this mythical being that I was frightened of my own thoughts, of images, of stories about the ultimate evil, Satan. You want to make an adult human being tremble in honest fear, talk openly about Satan with a Christian or a Muslim.

I clearly recall rooms full of adults wailing in panic and in fear that an actual evil spirit was at play in the world and wanting to target well-meaning people and their families. I remember sermons and talks given that were especially intended to stir up an infectious alarm of imminent contact with evil incarnate. One human causing ultimate terror in another person.

Eliphas Lévi's Sabbatic Goat
(known as The Goat of Mendes
or Baphomet) has become
one of the most common symbols
of Satanism.
(From Wikipedia)
Deep fear of symbols, sounds, words, thoughts, ideas, designs. This is the kind of fear that makes a body shake and quiver and feel on the edge of the abyss. The kind of fear that makes a pitiful, powerless mortal grasp onto anything offered as a lifeboat against such damnable evil. This is the thing that gets into one's head and grows and stews and taints everything. It scares the beauty and the joy away. That is the kind of fear of Satan that some churches teach. 

I remember being one of those people who feared that which I did not understand or that was different from me. One night my dear friend stormed into the house after one of her Evangelical meetings and started asking me about Men at Work's song Land Down Under. Did I even know what vegemite was?  Could it be of the Devil? A trail head full of zombies?! What does it mean the land down under where women blow and men plunder?!!!!!! 

Could this be a demonic song?, she asked, wide-eyed, fearful that she had missed an obvious demonic presence on the airwaves and on MTV. 
I had to admit that I did not know!
Now, of course, I see that Men at Work were seriously evil. *wink* 



Most of today's Satanists have an admirable goal in mind when they use the metaphor of Satan. They are saying that, historically, wisdom and intellectual discovery and individualism have been treated by some churches and churchgoers as signs of evil at work in a person. Hence the anti-intellectual movement of these recent years. But Satanists are forthrightly claiming intellectualism and individuality as highly-desirable goals for a well-lived, honest life. Today's Satanists use the allegorical Satan to celebrate a crisis of faith, the admirable awareness of free will, and a strong grasp of personal liberties as positive personal human traits to celebrate and to encourage.

For this post I did some reading from The Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple, among others and I was unimpressed, unmoved. I guess that is because I found them to be mostly putting on a show, trying to shock, etc., when the message is far simpler than the show. While I appreciate their deliberate actions to unsettle the comfortable, I feel that the message is lost.

On the other hand I've talked with several people from the Church of Satan who were really amazing people. Very intelligent, very compassionate. People I'd totally choose as friends. 


In the meantime, I believe in Keep It Simple:
  • Be Yourself
  • Keep Learning
  • If It Feels Good and Doesn't Harm anyone else, do it
  • FREEDOM 

And I don't need a group of people that I belong to to have that.

What do you think?

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