Friday, August 18, 2017

Transitions


So many of my friends are sending kids away to school this week. Many of the kids that Elizabeth and John have grown up with are heading out on their own journeys. Some on road trips, some to jobs, some to colleges... Many transitions all over the place going on...and I'm feeling it too.

Elizabeth has been in college for about three years, off and on, and John is starting full-time college in about a week. Yes, he has been taking a class or two here and there at the community college, but we've been homeschooling too. This week starts my first official week as a non-homeschooling parent.

Enter my own issue: empty nest.
I'm feeling it.

I feel on the verge of tears often, though I haven't mentioned it to anyone (except for the dental assistant yesterday...lol). My last baby is growing up. 
He is...growing up...



The boy who wore costumes, who played superheroes, who pretended well and fully, who played and played, who left toys everywhere, who made friendship look easy, whose sweet words made me speechless, who laughs, who pulls me tight for a hug, who always says You look nice, Mom, who has a life outside of me, who is preparing dinner for the family as I speak, who sometimes still sleeps with a rather large stuffed animal, who winks at me when he teases, who makes plans entirely independent from me, who has his own set of keys, who never forgets to kiss me goodnight, who looks to me for lesson plans, the boy who is my littlest one. 

What does this mean for me?
What will I do?


When I think about these questions the days seem to yawn ahead of me. I know it's just the beginning and I know that parents all over the place deal with this...but now it's me...

What will I do?

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You might also enjoy:
Ninja Freak!
Small Things that are Huge
He Sees It: How the World Treats Women
A Letter to my Son


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Smart People


I think of my dad as a very smart man. I thought he could do anything. He read and continued to learn for most of his life. When I was a kid he was the person I went to with almost all of my questions. As a kid I enjoyed reading Dad's Popular Science magazines, all of his magazines, really, and all of his books. 

So when I wanted to understand a thing, Dad was my go to guy. He nearly always knew the answers or he knew where to go for answers. And that included questions about God and religion.

Dad was raised a Catholic and considered himself a Catholic all of his life. And I find that curious, you know? When I would ask Dad about religious quandaries he would have answers. From my questions as a small child to my questions as I got older, Dad  had answers. ANSWERS to questions like, How could God ask Abraham to kill his beloved son. What about the people who lived before the Savior was born? What is Limbo? What is the difference between a religion and a cult? Why can't women be priests? How does transubstantiation work? Do we have a soul? How does that work? Why don't other religions do communion the way we do? What does it mean to be Jewish? Why should I avoid people who are different from me? Why can't I read that? Why is going to that church wrong?


He fed me the hardline religious answers to all of these questions. When I think of it now, I wonder how someone smart like my dad could believe such nonsense. 

As I became an atheist and it seemed so obvious, I felt certain that Dad, too, smart as he was, had figured it out. But he had not. He was very upset with my apostasy, very upset. And now, his death several years ago, I must ask the question How can smart people believe this stuff? How could Dad, with all of his reading and science knowledge hold on to the fairytale stories told in childhood?

I know you are thinking of Michael Shermer's book Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Times, as well as some of his other books on skepticism. I've not read any of Shermer's books, though I've heard a few talks by him. Something I listened to recently on The Thinking Atheist podcast attempted to offer some answers to the question Why? Why would otherwise smart people continue to believe religious dogmas?

One interesting idea is that very smart people tend to fall prey to  confirmation bias because they are so smart and are better able to come up with explanations for their weird beliefs. I can see that Dad might fit into that category. Maybe.

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You might also enjoy:
The Hideous Dance Between Faith and Critical Thinking
Your Life Has No Meaning
Growing Up Godless

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Should I Let My Mom Take my Child to Church?


It seems like such an innocuous request, they will say.
How petty are you?
Why can't Grandma just take your baby to church and and let her friends see her grandchild?

It's nothing!


But it's not nothing.
And it's not simple.
It's the mind of your child we're talking about here... and you know how great the church is at indoctrination and brainwashing. That is the fact that makes a church the most frightening place on the planet for our children's minds. The insidiousness aimed at the sweet, sweet hearts of our children.

Nothing I or anyone can write can address every possible scenario so I'll have to speak in generalities. But I stand by these words regardless of age, race, religion, etc...any characteristic.

Does Grandma have any rights here? Of course not, though we love our family members and we want to preserve our relationships as much as possible. The problem is that when religion is added to the mix religion causes our family members to lose perspective. They lose their ability to think, our beloved relatives. Their fear and emotions get extraordinarily twisted and our loved ones get mired and inflexible in their dogma. 

You're going to read lots of people saying to you that it's OK and that there is a compromise. I would love to believe this. However my experience shows the opposite. One allowed visit leads to more and more requests, more and more pressure to challenge your stand on the issue: just a few days of VBS, just a nice program of children's music, just a quick visit for donuts, Christmas, Easter egg hunts. One visit will never be enough. It is truly a slippery slope...the entire time with you feeling like an ogre for standing on your sincerely-held decision to shield your children from indoctrination, indoctrination that is specially-designed to net children.



You want to be nice, who doesn't want to be nice?, but the cost is simply too high.

The church has set up an us vs. them paradigm and your beloved mother or father is, in their mind, fighting the good fight for their deity. It's extremely painful in the family dynamic, and a middle ground doesn't exist, sorry. I wish there was a compromise.


Let The Kids Decide
.
YES, let them decide... once they have the ability to recognize propaganda, false claims, logical fallacies, a general appreciation of basic science principles, and as soon as your family has had MANY conversations about religions and deities and our country's culture of religion. Otherwise your children might be attracted to the sweetness and treacle that is designed to appeal to good and sweet children who mean well and who want to do the right thing.

As in all things, trust yourself and your instincts.



I do take a hard line here. I know.
But the battle is, unfortunately, real. Our children's minds and hearts are at stake. We owe them.


What do you think?

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You might also like:
My Gift to You

Ghosts and Bedtime
Atheist Parenting: Talk About Sex

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My G2R Talk


Are you wondering how my talk went at Gateway to Reason, the atheist convention we held here in St. Louis about two weeks ago?

It went GREAT.  😌


The convention itself was super-exhausting because, as a part of the organization team I had a number of roles that kept me busy. 
Good busy. For several weeks. 
And I'm glad it's over. But it was GREAT.  😊

It started out with me giving a talk about being a first-generation atheist parent. I was happy with my talk and several people kindly stopped me later to tell me that they enjoyed it. Then I had two other parents and my two kids for a panel discussion. We did some general discussions with the people on the panel then we opened it up to questions from the audience. We were inundated with questions! And very well-received.


Overall I was on stage for an hour and a half and someone told me that they'd wished we'd have had more time! It was fun up there. The audience was very involved and it was fun to manage the panel and crowd at the same time. 

Just today my son was telling me that he was proud of me, that he thought my talk was really good, and that he hopes that others who put on conventions will ask me to speak. I think I'd like that too.  🙂

MANY thanks to the readers of my blog who were at the convention. It was neat having you there. I also appreciate Sally Hunt, Elizabeth, and John for being on the panel. I especially THANK Kaleesha Williams for being a part of the panel and for doing everything that she did to get up enough courage to get on stage.
GOOD FOR YOU, Kaleesha!



Back Row: John, Elizabeth, Kaleesha
Front Row: Me, Sally Hunt