Friday, July 29, 2011

More podcast recs!

Okay, so I've gotten hooked on 2 more podcasts, along with the three that I mentioned in my post a couple days ago. Those two are...

1. Irreligiosophy. One word: ex-Mormons. I listened to their two-part "Crazy Book of Mormon Stories" series and was instantly hooked, hanging on their every word like my life depended on it. From the damn advertisements all over the internet, you'd think the Book of Mormon made at least some sense... and you'd be hella wrong.

2. Reasonable Doubts. I learned an awful lot just through listening to a few episodes of this podcast. For instance... who knew that the Hebrews were actually polytheists, and that Yahweh supposedly had a wife, Asherah, who was edited out of the Bible? Really interesting stuff!

These intrepid podcasters are really making me want to start a podcast. I absolutely loathe the sound of my voice, but I do have a bunch of unintelligible rants thoughtful things to say. It would be called... The Southern Belle Podcast (because I am so creative)... I do feel like I have a good vantage point, as both a female and a resident of one of the most overwhelmingly religious states in the country. I'll look into it a little bit, and then go from there. :]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

15-day atheist challenge, day 8.

What's your political alignment? Does your atheism affect how you vote and how you feel on issues?

Okay, politics are really not my strong point. When I was a Christian, I was a typical pro-war, pro-life, anti-gay nutjob (although the anti-gay thing got to me a lot; major source of cognitive dissonance, there). Now that I'm an atheist, I'm kind of... feeling my way around. I'm crawling in the world of politics; I haven't learned to stand on my own or walk yet.

I've made the jump from pro-life to pro-choice. Reading Freakonomics was big for me; the link between increased abortions and a drop in the crime rate made a staggering amount of sense. In my ideal world, abortions wouldn't be necessary because people would be educated and have sex responsibly, and they'd have enough money to take care of their kids, and there would be no rape, no incest, and no ectopic pregnancies or any other kinds of birth-related medical problems and so on and so forth... but this is not my ideal world, so abortion is--in my humble opinion--a necessary thing.

And of course I'm all for gay marriage and gay rights. I shed the anti-gay nonsense just as fast as I could... I went along with it in the first place because I thought it was what God wanted, but there was this constant disconnect. The rational part of my brain was saying Hey, a few of your closest friends are gay and they're awesome people, and they deserve the right to marry because that's a love thing, not a god thing. And the religious part of my mind was saying Well the BIBLE says that gay people are BAD. Nanner nanner boo boo!!

And education. There are some seriously glaring issues that need to be taken care of, like, um... why the hell is the teaching of evolution in public schools up for debate??? And yeah, I'm talking to you, Louisiana. You know how I learned about evolution? I had to teach myself!

And that, my friends, is bullshit. Because not every student in Louisiana cares as much about science as my fellow skeptics and I do. In fact, most of the people here are vehemently opposed to the very idea of evolution (even though they know NOTHING about it), because "evolution is evil and untrue" has been drilled into their brains by the church!

Example: there is this kid at my school. I do not know this kid, or anything about this kid, except for the fact that he or she has a bumper sticker on their vehicle that says "King Kong is NOT my grandpa!"

And that is a fail. And I really have to question if that kid was actually taught evolution, or if they were just repeatedly told that it is an evil theory.

Anyways. Rant over.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Radio and podcasts and such.

I have a morbid fascination with Christian talk radio. My mom listens to it on our morning commute, so it doesn't particularly bother me... until they start talking. The singing I can deal with, the talking makes me want to swallow a brick.

These Christians... they're fucking nuts. When I was a Christian, these are the type of guys I'd brush off and try not to associate myself with. They just... assume that everyone who is NOT a right-wing evangelical is out to get them. Like, everything a non-evangelical does is for the sole purpose of bringing down the Christians and intruding upon the First Amendment rights of Christians and so on and so forth, and it's all nonsense.

And the worst part is that they ice their little act with these sickly sweet, fake-ass personalities. Okay, example, these two guys were talking about how Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor are atheists and That's A Shame. Clown Number 1 is like "Apparently Dan Barker is an ex-evangelical turned atheist, which is really quite awful. I don't understand how that possibly could have ever happened. It makes no sense at all, hyuck."

Clown Number 2 then adds, "And Annie Laurie Gaylor is apparently his wife... it's strange; they're husband and wife, but their last names are different." And of course that last sentence is just dripping with condescension, because a wife is supposed to take her husband's last name no matter what, and that's Just How It Is. And they top it all off with this gem:

"Please, take a few minutes out of your day to pray for these atheists and blah blah blah insert regurgitated Christian love phrase here."

I really need to stop listening to this stuff... but I'm attracted to things that make me angry, I guess.

Anyways, the main point of this post is to plug some podcasts that I've gotten into recently. I've never really been a big podcast person, but my summer job of filing paperwork at a health clinic is unbearable if I don't have something engaging to listen to. So here we go, the podcasts that keep me from gouging my eyes out at work:

1. Atheist Experience. Of course, who doesn't listen to the Atheist Experience? I started listening when I found that music was not enough to entertain me on the 5-hour drive to my boyfriend's place. Definitely some good stuff. I've found, though, that I'm mostly interested in listening to the hosts' conversations, and not so much the viewer calls. The theist callers to the show tend to bring up the same points over and over and over again, and the atheist callers tend to, um, overstay their welcome and get really wordy. And errbody be off-topic. But anyways, love these folks.

2. The Good Atheist. Okay, this one is probably my personal favorite. I pretty much love everything about this podcast. It's funny, and I learn a lot, and the host (Jacob Fortin) is a bit of dick but a lovable dick, because he says what we're all thinking but are too scared to say. I've listened to about 10 or 15 of these podcasts so far, and they're good listening for the office. Really funny, but not SO wildly, insanely funny/goofy/irreverent that I start laughing to myself in the corner of my shared office and giving the gossipy nurses something to talk about.

3. The Grapes of Rad. This is one of those wildly, insanely funny/goofy/irreverent ones. I can barely listen to this one at work anymore because I laugh far too much. It's not specifically about atheism, but they did do this one really great podcast on religion with the creator of I'm still not too sure about the religious beliefs of the two hosts. I've gathered that they were both heavily involved with church in the past, but not so much anymore? I dunno. Anyways. None of that matters because this shit is hilarious.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I'm starting to think this is all a sick joke.

After the recently enacted Louisiana Science Education Act and the Damon Fowler incident at the Bastrop High School graduation (which was especially exciting for me as Bastrop is my hometown), I really thought that I wouldn't hear any more religious controversy in my home state for at least a little bit... but alas! One hour west of my university, a Shreveport, LA weatherman posted a Facebook status about how he hopes Casey Anthony finds Jesus.

But here's the cincher: he was using the news channel's Facebook page to post the status.

Once again, the state of Louisiana is up in arms about Christianity. I'm keeping an eye on the KTBS 3 News page to see if anything else exciting happens.

The Friendly Atheist has all the juicy details.

... This is actually a really exciting state to live in if you're an atheist. Not that I want to stick around or anything. ;]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

15-day atheist challenge, day 7.

Except for God, do you believe in anything supernatural or pseudoscientific? (Ghosts, alien abductions, spirits, souls, demons, psychics, magic, Harry Potter, etc.)

In short, no. All of my supernatural and superstitious beliefs dissipated just as soon as my belief in God did. I really used to struggle, though, with a crippling fear of the supernatural. I even missed my sister's birthday party one year, because she had it at The Myrtles--a famous "haunted" antebellum home near Baton Rouge, LA. I was never comfortable being alone at the house, especially at night. I couldn't handle listening to ghost stories, or watching scary movies, or sleeping with the closet door open, or sleeping in a silent room (I always had to have a fan or TV on--I still sleep with the fan and TV on, because I'm so used to the noise)... the list goes on and on. I was scared to look in mirrors when I was alone or it was dark, scared to look down long dark hallways or into open windows at night-time. I think the more religious I got, the more serious my problem became.

At one point I became really interested in "spiritual warfare"--the Christian term for the invisible wars between demons and angels that were supposedly happening all around us, and how to defend yourself... intercessory prayer to expel spirits... looking back now, I realize how silly I was. It's all such bullshit... so stupid.

So, so, so stupid.

I do wish bigfoot was real though. My dad would be delighted.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

15-day atheist challenge, day 6.

How do you feel about so-called “militant atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris?

I think they're pretty swell guys. When I was first beginning to have doubts about Christianity, I gobbled up Sam Harris's books like it was going out of style. I think "Letter to a Christian Nation" was able to very eloquently put into words a lot of the doubts that were creeping around in the back of my mind. I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for Christopher Hitchens... one of the first debates I watched when I began thinking about atheism was he and Tony Blair, and I remember thinking that Hitchens kicked epic ass and was funny as hell. I read his books, listen to his lectures and debates, and will probably weep bitterly for days if he is unable to shake the esophageal cancer. 

And what can I say about Richard Dawkins? He's the face of atheism, that's for sure. I love his books and speeches; I'm not loving his involvement in this whole Skepchick scandal right now. Then again, I'm really just plain sick of hearing about the Skepchick scandal. I'm not loving it in general, but anyways...

How do I feel about militant atheism itself? It's not nearly as bad as it sounds. ;] Militant atheism is going to get shit done. Sometimes I'll cringe a little at a public display of atheism (teehee, PDA) that some people may deem "overboard," but then I remember: atheists in the United States are getting stomped on right now. Like, literally trampled underfoot. Those few people who are willing to dedicate their lives/careers/time/money to atheism, skepticism, and humanism are the very same who are slowly but surely making the world a more rational place. :] And I think that is worth applauding.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A brief rant and apology.

So sorry for the lack of updates, guys. I'm not blog material, I guess. I have faith, though, that none of you were on the edge of your seats in anticipation of my next post, so... :] I think we're all good.

Anyways... a few observations about being "out" around my family and friends:

1. As far as I'm aware, I've only lost 2 friends. One of them I was very close to. She's on the road to becoming a foreign missionary, and--after a brief period of awkwardly dancing around each other and really really badly-faked friendliness, she has removed me from her friends list on Facebook (main line of communication right there) and made it clear she wants nothing to do with me. I understand I guess... she's just doing what the Bible (more specifically: John Piper) tells her to. She's always been intensely serious about Christianity, and even when I was a Christian we clashed... a lot. I hate to assume the worst... but I'm guessing she's written me off because I'm a damn dirty atheist and she's a golden glorious missionary. (Let's not even get into talking about what a missionary's "job" is...) The other is a guy I used to be fairly close to, now an acquaintance barely worth mentioning. Definitely no biggie there.

I spent one sleepless night worrying my little head off about it, but then I realized... screw those guys! I will sleep well tonight knowing that I'm being 100% true to myself, instead of being a pussy for a little bit of validation from some so-called friends.

2. My mom and I agreed to disagree in matters concerning her religion and my atheism... she subsequently dug through my things and found a couple trial issues of Freethought Today (what I like to call "aggressively atheist"), and flipped out, banning all atheist materials from the house.... I've found that her idea of respect is rather one-sided. We listen to appalling amounts Christian radio when we are in the car together, and she recently made a kind of rude comment about atheists in front of my fanatically Christian aunt (who we were staying with at that time). I seethed silently, rather than defend myself and get kicked out of the house.

She also brings up demons and ghosts a lot. Fear of the supernatural is something I really struggled with when I was a believer, and I feel like she's trying to use that against me in an attempt to get me to return to the faith. She told me that she saw a "big black shadow" walk into my bedroom at about the time I became an atheist, but that I shouldn't be scared because she thinks it was God's way of telling her to watch out for me.

It's all so... manipulative and passive-aggressive, and when I try to defend myself then I become the villain. I am more than willing to drop the subject and never ever ever talk religion with my mom ever again... I guess the ball's in her court.

Anyways, over the next few days I'll be cleaning up the blog a bit... deleting and revising some of my cringe-worthy posts, maybe making the layout a little nicer, stuff like that. I'm also going to try to start posting a little more regularly... no promises, though. ;]