Post reblogged from for heaven shall remember the silent and the brave with 13 notes
DOES ANYONE KNOW A GOSPEL CHOIR I CAN JOIN IN THE DC AREA
THE INTERNET IS BEING UNHELPFUL
Religion: you’re doing it right.
From the comments you should never read underneath youtube videos, the atheist Trolls were clearly out in force against Mr Botton’s lovely (and i say lovely knowingly) idea that religions know how humans work and that while we may not believe in the doctrine, we can still be humble enough to realise that there is alot to learn from the actions and rituals and celebrations of religions across the world.
I think what the hardcore atheists dont comprehend is that an idea can be poetic. In their arrogance (and i know this is a sweeping statement, i’m not talking about all atheists, just the ones who, like cartoon southern pastors, want to push their beliefs down your gullet) they see the world as black and white and this is a fundamentally unwise and unscientific way to view it.
I love this idea, it fills the hole that Mr Botton has quite rightly seen is in the non-religious world. The idea that we can still be pilgrims, we can be humble, we can see the use in backing up an idea with an action, with community, with meditation. This is truly a way of seeing agnosticism and atheism that can illuminate life for those (like myself) who feel a great sense of isolation and loss looking back, in comparison to generations who believed (wrongly or no) in a deity.
There is, i believe, a niche here that art can shuffle into.
As an atheist who has no problem loving and participating in religious art and music, I can say wholeheartedly that Atheism 2.0 is a thing, it’s happening, and for me specifically it has been a hugely enriching and fulfilling experience. It’s also mellowed me as an atheist, and helped me gain a better respect for an ability to talk to religious people — who are, after all, just people.
I came across this on FB, and one commenter referenced Matthew 21:28 — the parable of the two sons. Basically, God would rather you say you’re not Christian and act like one than the other way around. -Jess
This is why I don’t worry about Pascal’s Wager.
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…and just. Orr. asdlkfj. Orr is who I want to be. That’s what I want, that malleable constancy, that unaggressive strength. To be so thoroughly in touch with reality, and myself, that I become unshakeable. “All that can be shaken has been shaken, and only the unshakeable remains” and etc. I’m not sure whether I first loved that book so much because I identify so much with Orr, or whether Orr’s character had one hell of an influence on me the first time I read it. But I admire that in him so fucking much. Strength without hostility; certainty without blindness, prejudice, or self-righteousness; adaptability without callousness or unfaithfulness. I just. Yeah.
And he’s fictional, of course, but it’s something to strive for.
On a mildly related note, I realized today that the vast majority of everybody would categorize me as a ‘spiritual’ person, if not an outright religious one (I get called Deist a lot. More than you’d think people would call someone a Deist, but there you go). And. I’m not. I don’t see myself that way at all. I see me as the least spiritual person on the fucking planet. I’m not even a workaday dualist, like lots of people are. But I don’t talk like someone who’s unspiritual, I talk like someone who’s very fucking spiritual, because I don’t have a vocabulary that can accommodate all of the feels I have without implying some Object towards which those feels are directed. And I don’t know how to fix that, or to convince people that I am not actually a closet Deist. I am not secretly “spiritual”, at least not in the way people normally use that word.
I don’t knooow. I don’t understand life.
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Though there is only void, I am grateful to void
for its generous absence. Though there are only atoms
I thank them for their untiring spin,
for their resistance to fission and fusion,
for their submission to the forces of attraction and repulsion
that enables my own. Though it has no intent,
can I not thank evolution for its beautiful byproducts, and
physics above all?
Will you stop me from singing
“O nebulae, turn on in infrared splendor:
O finches, sing and recombine”?
Atheists also have known compassion,
have wept in gardens fraught with fountains
to think what might spin at the heart of an asteroid.
Unknowers and debelievers and
fence-followers also shout courage
from deck chairs and suburban split-level roofs.
I have returned to tell you all, I shall tell you all —
I have been to cathedrals sacred to the longdead and no Other,
I have trodden beetle-bred, wormconquered fossil-tracks,
the Stations of Living,
I have visited the dim grotto vestries of jellyfish
where they drift ethereal and gelatinous
and know no gratitude as we do.
We do know gratitude, we who scatter our thanks
like silver iodide into cumulonimbus.
Will you call me a liar? Will you stop up your ears
when I tell you of the proof I have lived —
that beauty can exist apart from God?
I found this article really, really interesting, until the last two paragraphs take a predictable “but no one fights over fanfic!” detour, which I think is too accusatory and oversimplified. The first part, though, talking about the human ability (and desire) to rationalize and flesh out stories, is fascinating and important. Well worth a read.
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So I was reading this article (Native American saints! Hooray representation of all peoples!) and it talks a bit about how you need a papal bull and recognition of miracles and all these other things in order to be a saint. So I was wondering about the process. Before you get canonized by the Pope and worshiped on Earth and etc., are you already a saint in Heaven? Like, are you hanging around, performing postmortem miracles, waiting for the Pope to catch on and make you official so you start getting the prayers you merit? Or are you just a normal person in Heaven, chilling and whatnot, until being canonized on Earth gives you increased scope and access to the Big Three (or Mary, or whoever), so you can intercede more effectively? If the latter, how are you performing miracles in order to get canonized? Do all people in Catholic Heaven have the ability to perform miracles, and we just don’t notice most of them?
I realize there’s no real answer to this, but I was curious about it. If anyone knows about an official Catholic ruling on this, I’d love to hear it. Thoughts?
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So I was reading this post on slacktivist’s blog, and the whole thing just felt very odd to me — I mean, beyond the usual oddness of trying to wrap your head around a subculture you don’t belong to. And I realized a little later that what was striking me as odd was the whole concept of martyrdom. I don’t get it at all.
I mean, from my perspective, the choice of ‘renounce your faith or die’ isn’t a choice. The answer is: you lie. You lie your head off. (It becomes much more understandable in a situation like Joan of Arc’s, where you’re going to die no matter what you say and lying really wouldn’t do you any good. In that case, yes, stand true to yourself and your faith. But if lying can save your life from an unjust tyrant, you fucking lie.)
Okay, yes, telling a lie is ‘wrong’, but there are mitigating circumstances. Slacktivist writes elsewhere (I can’t find the post) about the ‘righteous Gentiles’ who lied and lied and lied to the Nazis in order to protect hidden Jews. It’s the whole ‘lying to a murderer who asks where his victim is’ thing. Those lies are at the very least ethically defensible, if not obligatory.
And — more to the point — what use are you to anyone if you’re killed? If you can lie to get away, then you can continue helping others and serving your religion and doing good, even if you have to do it in secret. If you get killed for your faith, maybe you’ll be able to inspire others, but you won’t be able to feed them or protect them.
In Judaism we have an entire holiday around the New Year — Kol Nidre — which is based on this. Essentially, at Kol Nidre you say to God, “Hey, I’m just letting you know that in this upcoming year, I might have to lie about my faith in order to survive. If that happens, know that I don’t mean it, that you and I are still cool even if you hear me say otherwise. Sorry in advance.” That is how you do it, how I’m used to doing it. That’s what I was raised with.
I don’t know all that much about Christian martyrs, early or otherwise, so if I’m missing some vital part of this whole process, please let me know. And know that I in no way intend to offend anyone, Christian or otherwise; I have enormous respect for all Christians (and all people), especially those who are dedicated to the principles of kindness and charity expressed by their religion. I’m just expressing a cultural difference that jumped out at me while reading this post.
I love you all, and I hope you found this interesting or enlightening in some way.
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Atheists are a diverse bunch. (Quoth Eddie Izzard: “We’re from everywhere.”) Some have had bad experiences with religion, and some haven’t. Some were raised to atheism; some found it on their own. There are as many different ways to be an atheist as there are people who claim that label.
But, there is a way to do it wrong. Embracing prejudice, bigotry, and comforting lies (including Us vs. Them conspiracy theories) means you’re doing it wrong. Casting all religious people as The Sheep or The Enemy is absolutely an overgeneralizing, vicious fiction, exactly the way that religious persecutions of The Godless Heathens is based on a cruel fiction.These are things that atheism purports to reject.
It’s possible to wed your atheism to cynicism and gloom, and go around hating people and this Earth. That’s a way of doing it, but in my opinion, that kind of atheism is also doing it wrong. The way I see it, atheism should be about engaging this huge, confusing, fantastic, horrifying and splendiferous universe exactly the way it is, without any embellishments or avoidance of the empirical truth, while endeavoring to make the best of life right here and now for oneself and others.
But that’s just my own path. Like I said, there are uncountable paths to be an atheist, and they all have a few things in common, besides the lack of belief in a deity. The big one is, if your atheism makes you an asshole, then you are doing it wrong. If you are an asshole, then you are doing BEING A PERSON wrong.
As an atheist, I see nothing “wrong” in believing in a God. I don’t think there is a God, but belief in him does no harm. If it helps you in any way, then that’s fine with me. It’s when belief starts infringing on other people’s rights when it worries me. I would never deny your right to believe in a God. I would just rather you didn’t kill people who believe in a different God, say. Or stone someone to death because your rulebook says their sexuality is immoral. It’s strange that anyone who believes that an all-powerful all-knowing, omniscient power responsible for everything that happens, would also want to judge and punish people for what they are.
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