Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Why don’t you believe in God? I get that question all the time. I always try to give a sensitive, reasoned answer. This is usually awkward, time consuming and pointless. People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.
Arrogance is another accusation. Which seems particularly unfair. Science seeks the truth. And it does not discriminate. For better or worse it finds things out. Science is humble. It knows what it knows and it knows what it doesn’t know. It bases its conclusions and beliefs on hard evidence -- evidence that is constantly updated and upgraded. It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along. It embraces the body of knowledge. It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray. Whatever you “believe,” this is not as effective as medicine. Again you can say, “It works for me,” but so do placebos. My point being, I’m saying God doesn’t exist. I’m not saying faith doesn’t exist. I know faith exists. I see it all the time. But believing in something doesn’t make it true. Hoping that something is true doesn’t make it true. The existence of God is not subjective. He either exists or he doesn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion. You can have your own opinions. But you can’t have your own facts.
Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, “Why don’t you believe I can fly?” You’d say, “Why would I?” I’d reply, “Because it’s a matter of faith.” If I then said, “Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?” You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘’F—ing fly then you lunatic.”
This, is of course a spirituality issue, religion is a different matter. 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. From what I can gather, pretty much the worst type of person you can be is an atheist. The first four commandments hammer this point home. There is a god, I’m him, no one else is, you’re not as good and don’t forget it. (Don’t murder anyone, doesn’t get a mention till number 6.)
When confronted with anyone who holds my lack of religious faith in such contempt, I say, “It’s the way God made me.”
But what are atheists really being accused of?
The dictionary definition of God is “a supernatural creator and overseer of the universe.” Included in this definition are all deities, goddesses and supernatural beings. Since the beginning of recorded history, which is defined by the invention of writing by the Sumerians around 6,000 years ago, historians have cataloged over 3700 supernatural beings, of which 2870 can be considered deities.
So next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say “Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…” If they say “Just God. I only believe in the one God,” I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.
I used to believe in God. The Christian one that is.
I loved Jesus. He was my hero. More than pop stars. More than footballers. More than God. God was by definition omnipotent and perfect. Jesus was a man. He had to work at it. He had temptation but defeated sin. He had integrity and courage. But He was my hero because He was kind. And He was kind to everyone. He didn’t bow to peer pressure or tyranny or cruelty. He didn’t care who you were. He loved you. What a guy. I wanted to be just like Him.
One day when I was about 8 years old, I was drawing the crucifixion as part of my Bible studies homework. I loved art too. And nature. I loved how God made all the animals. They were also perfect. Unconditionally beautiful. It was an amazing world.
I lived in a very poor, working-class estate in an urban sprawl called Reading, about 40 miles west of London. My father was a laborer and my mother was a housewife. I was never ashamed of poverty. It was almost noble. Also, everyone I knew was in the same situation, and I had everything I needed. School was free. My clothes were cheap and always clean and ironed. And mum was always cooking. She was cooking the day I was drawing on the cross.
I was sitting at the kitchen table when my brother came home. He was 11 years older than me, so he would have been 19. He was as smart as anyone I knew, but he was too cheeky. He would answer back and get into trouble. I was a good boy. I went to church and believed in God -– what a relief for a working-class mother. You see, growing up where I did, mums didn’t hope as high as their kids growing up to be doctors; they just hoped their kids didn’t go to jail. So bring them up believing in God and they’ll be good and law abiding. It’s a perfect system. Well, nearly. 75 percent of Americans are God-‐fearing Christians; 75 percent of prisoners are God-‐fearing Christians. 10 percent of Americans are atheists; 0.2 percent of prisoners are atheists.
But anyway, there I was happily drawing my hero when my big brother Bob asked, “Why do you believe in God?” Just a simple question. But my mum panicked. “Bob,” she said in a tone that I knew meant, “Shut up.” Why was that a bad thing to ask? If there was a God and my faith was strong it didn’t matter what people said.
Oh…hang on. There is no God. He knows it, and she knows it deep down. It was as simple as that. I started thinking about it and asking more questions, and within an hour, I was an atheist.
Wow. No God. If mum had lied to me about God, had she also lied to me about Santa? Yes, of course, but who cares? The gifts kept coming. And so did the gifts of my new found atheism. The gifts of truth, science, nature. The real beauty of this world. I learned of evolution -– a theory so simple that only England’s greatest genius could have come up with it. Evolution of plants, animals and us –- with imagination, free will, love, humor. I no longer needed a reason for my existence, just a reason to live. And imagination, free will, love, humor, fun, music, sports, beer and pizza are all good enough reasons for living.
But living an honest life -– for that you need the truth. That’s the other thing I learned that day, that the truth, however shocking or uncomfortable, in the end leads to liberation and dignity.
So what does the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” really mean. I think when someone asks that they are really questioning their own belief. In a way they are asking “what makes you so special? “How come you weren’t brainwashed with the rest of us?” “How dare you say I’m a fool and I’m not going to heaven, f— you!” Let’s be honest, if one person believed in God he would be considered pretty strange. But because it’s a very popular view it’s accepted. And why is it such a popular view? That’s obvious. It’s an attractive proposition. Believe in me and live forever. Again if it was just a case of spirituality this would be fine.
“Do unto others…” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”
You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie (Books of Faerie #2)
by Maggie Stiefvater
3.5 stars on Goodreads.com
I finally finished this last night. I had started it back in the summer, but unlike Lament which I flew through in a day, Ballad really dragged for me.
The writing of the story is beautiful and as always Maggie creates an amazing world with evil Fae and amazing visions in your head. Unfortunately, I was just not as interested in Maggie's new character, Nuala, even though she was a really fun character (strong, sexy, and snarky). In Lament I was completely enthralled with Dee and Luke an...moreI finally finished this last night. I had started it back in the summer, but unlike Lament which I flew through in a day, Ballad really dragged for me. The writing of the story is beautiful and as always Maggie creates an amazing world with evil Fae and amazing visions in your head. Unfortunately, I was just not as interested in Maggie's new character, Nuala, even though she was a really fun character (strong, sexy, and snarky). In Lament I was completely enthralled with Dee and Luke and I wanted to know more since the ending of Lament has you going "But, but, but!"
Throughout Ballad- you are given snippets of Dee, but not enough to really understand what's happening with her and it is told from James' POV and also from Nuala's POV, the new character. You aren't as emotionally invested in Nuala though, so it's hard to get into her story. There is a few new characters that are very interesting, especially Sullivan, the teacher that takes James and his new friends under his wing. You still get the evil Fae queen Eleanor, who should have her own book if you ask me. I love a good evil queen. Who doesn't?!
I do love how Maggie tells a story and I love how her female characters are strong and snarky. I was disappointed with how Dee comes across in this story since she even seems different than how she was in Lament. I loved her character in Lament, but in Ballad you only get part of her story and it's from James' POV and he's not as sympathetic as he was in Lament. The ending of Ballad still has you going "But, but, but!" unfortunately, I know not of a third in this series so that is also disappointing. I would like to know what happens to James and Dee.
I recommend this book to anyone who has read Lament. It is an excellent story. I just wish there had been more Dee and that there was a third in the series OR that this book was 100 pages longer with more info :)
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I was delighted yet surprised that dear Ron Weasley won the boyfriend poll. Second place went to Etienne' St. Clair of Anna and the French Kiss.
I asked my friend Anna about why she though Ron was the better boyfriend when compared to heartthrobs such as Edward Cullen and Sam Roth...
Here's what she had to say:
me: did you see who won the boyfriend poll on my blog?
anna: no~ I couldn't figure out how to see the results
me: You have to vote, then it comes up
me: I love that Ron won
anna: me too
me: He's hot now BTW
anna: uh YEAH.
me: I would love to know why so many people chose Ron
I have only read the first two books
care to extrapolate?
I have only read the first two books
care to extrapolate?
anna: he's hot
anna: and he's like... ok
me: dig deeper
anna: HP has a very dark personality
he's very serious, broods a lot, has a temper, and is usually the visionary when it comes to their plans/missions.etc
Hermione is usually the task master, making sure that Harry's visions follow through and minding all the tedious details that Harry is too distracted to think about
the way Ron balances them out is that he's the heart of the group
he's funny and brave and very attuned to Harry and Hermione's emotional states
me: PS I'm copying what you say about Ron for my blog
Here are some reason why I like Ron/Rupert:
Dude's a Ginger :)
He was a really cute kid too!
And he likes older women :)
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I had a wonderful time writing my NaNo this year. I made it past the 18K I did last year by the first week and this astounds me. Never thought I'd be able to do it.
Here's what I learned while writing this year:
10- Coffee can aid in writing, it can also make you shake like a Chihuahua if taken in too large of doses.
9- Reading books on the Holocaust can ruin an afternoon.
8- Watching So I Married an Axe Murderer whilst reading books on the Holocaust can help.
7- Having a support group helps. I had Plot Bunnies online who helped me and a group I met with twice a week in person, which were all fantastic!
We are very serious writers, dammit!
6- When you are naturally a beta reader and a teacher, it is REALLY freakin' hard NOT to self-edit. I mean like.... REAAAAALLLLLLY hard.
(These panties are now on my Christmas wishlist BTW)
5- It is rather difficult to type with a 17 lb cat on you arm...
... but it is doable!
4- I write better when I have an outline and the Snowflake method is indeed a worthwhile method and I apologize to those that I scoffed at last year for doing it. I was wrong. (Write that down, it won't get said again for a looooong time.) Competition also helps me write... I can get 5K done in a night when challenged.
3- Wikipedia is a godsend... so is google and my friend, Elise, who is kind of a girlie Google bot.
2- I can describe the hell out of a sex scene, I mean thousands of words can just roll right out of me.
I am almost always prolific with the lemons... pun intended.
1- I can kill my two favorite characters in less that 800 words. And it took me nearly two days to get those 800 words out.
PS- that scene hurt a lot. I still haven't reread it.
And here's some of the songs that helped me write my NaNo:
and my new favorite song that is stuck in my head, but is my Henrik's theme song-
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I was kind of shocked by the content. It seemed to be explaining that women will be unhappier in their romantic relationships with men if they were successful in their careers.
I find this shocking for two reasons; the first being that I am the breadwinner in my home while my husband is in school and although it's difficult being the sole provider (vagina or not), but in no way do I feel like my husband is less of a man. He actually volunteered when we were discussing children to be a stay at home dad.
The second reason I am so shocked by this article is becomes it seems to me that it is not a "female" problem that men react badly to successful woman... it seems that this is a problem with how we raise our young men.
I look at my Godsons. I have three; Mikey is 11, Danny is 5, and Jamie will be 2 tomorrow. When I look at how they are raised, it makes me wonder if they'll be good men later in life. Whenever I'm with them, I make sure I'm consistent, but I also find myself saying things like "We don't hit" not "We don't hit girls" when they whack me. I also make them pick up their toys and wash their hands and if they say a bad word, they apologize quickly due to my death glare.
Whether my Godsons have wives or husbands or stay single, I would expect them to be proud of their partners, just as I'd want their partners to be proud of them. Marriage is a team... not a competition. Don't get me wrong, I love a good competition. It's healthy to compete and strive for something better... but I'm also the girl that drives my husband insane during sports and poker when there is a draw and I say "Yay! Everyone wins!" He hates that.
I was once asked if my husband was my s0ulmate and much to the asker's chagrin I said, "No, he's my teammate. My soul was complete before he came along." Man, did I ever get a wicked look. It is true though. My husband does not complete me. He adds to me, he loves me, he cares for me, he's my best friend, cheerleader, and reality check. He is not "my other half" though. I am one whole person unto myself. So is he.
I'm so confused by the end of this article when it talks about women and competing with men. It's okay for someone to be better at something else, right? We can't all be great at everything or that would make the Olympics, spelling bees, and the World Cup and such pretty damned lame, no?
While watching The Devil Wears Prada today, I thought about when I was reading the book. I just hated the Anna Wintour character. I hadn't known much about Wintour in real life, but the book made me just want to smack her for being so cruel and icy. In the movie however, Meryl Streep plays her less frigid, although she is lovely to hate, she creates a sympathy for her... and as Andy says "If she were a man and acting like this, no one would bat an eye." I'm not a feminist- I don't think, but I tend to agree. When I'm large and in charge at work or I snap at one of my agents being a jackwagon, I get "Wow, is it your time of the month?" or "Man, you're in a bad mood."
No, it's because you are being an incompetent twatwaffle (that one's for Stephanie). I can call you on your idiocy and it not be a drop in my estrogen and a rise in my progesterone that's causing this issue... it could be an ID10T error on your end. When my boss goes on the rampage people duck and cover but never once has anyone asked him if he's having a testosterone flare. Not once. Although I was tempted once... but I like my paycheck.
If this is true that woman are unlucky in love when they are successful at work, I wouldn't blame the successful, hardworking woman. I'd blame the parents of the petulant, Napoleonic man. I must say, if it were my husband and someone told him that I'd work 40 hours a week and bring home enough to support both of us for the next 20 years, he'd sign that contract right quick. His parents had traditional gender roles and so did my parents, but somehow we're doing it alright.
If you have a little boy at home, make sure he understand that it is absolutely okay to be taken care of and to take care of others. It's great to be part of a team. You lose together, you win together, you get to go to Disney World together. :)
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
My Book Club Girlies were talking about what we were reading and I thought I'd pose the question here.
Now that I'm done with NaNo I am reading Catching Fire at night and right now I'm trying to finish up this awesome erotica book called Dear Sir, I'm Yours by the awesome Joely Sue Burkhart.
So far, I'm really enjoying Joely's story, and there's a second one too, so I'm excited to read and review them both for her site. I linked her on my nerdy people list if you'd like to see the rest of her work. I'm really loving her imagery and her real characters. I'll write more soon.
Your turn, what are you reading?!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
My rating: 5 of 5 stars on GoodReads.com
Shiver was my pick for best book of last year. I am thinking that Anna and the French Kiss is my 2010 pick. This story had everything. Really.
There were swoon-worthy moments. Sighing. Beautiful, not-perfect boys. Snarky, smart, sweet girls. Sighs. Stomach drops. Cheering. Yes... I cheered. I even squeed a little. I'm not ashamed.
My husband even mocked me for hugging the book after I wrote my note in it. Yeah, hugged it. That's how good it is.
This book had so many great moments and I can't think of anything I would change about it. It had me up and down and that's how I know it was good. It affected my emotions, for better and worse, it had me stuck to it; sneaking reads at my desk and in between teaching, dreaming of what would happen to Anna next, and it was just simply lovely.
Stephanie Perkins has a wonderful YA voice, but it's not immature. And thankfully, it's not contrived or condescending. Anna doesn't sound like a grown woman trying to sound like a teen girl. It's just Anna and her friends and her foes and Etienne'.
Ooooooh Etienne'. "He has an acute accent and a cute accent." *le sigh*
I HIGHLY encourage my book nerd girls to go get it. You can preorder it now. Etienne' awaits!!!
This book arrives on shelves this weekend and I am running out to buy it. Sadly I couldn't keep the book because it belongs to Forever YA Lit Blogger Jess, but man, I was tempted! I plan on buying a hard back and then a soft cover as well.
I recently started speaking to Stephanie via facebook and twitter and she is just as awesome in person as she is in her book. I even taught her a new word ;)
She's an awesome chick, this is a fantastic book, don't walk, run, to your local bookstore and pick up Anna and the French Kiss.
I <3 Etienne'
Monday, November 29, 2010
And as a weiner, I get to read books. Ten actually, to make my goal of 60 this year. Here is the TBR pile for the end of the year:
#1 Drawn Together by ZA Maxfield (A rec from my girl Kerry Freeman)
#2 Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (I lent it to a student cos I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it before NaNo, it's sitting on my shelf at home!)
#3 Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (SWOON SAM!)
#4 Clockwork Angel by Cassie Claire (A former student lent it to me)
#5 Crescendo by Becca Fitzgerald (YAY! PATCH!)
#6 Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham (Anna this better not make me cry!
#7 Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Nanna THIS better not make me cry!)
#8 Dear sir, I'm yours by Joelly Sue Burkehart (I'm reviewing for her)
#9 Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater (I took a break from it, I have 40 pages left)
#10 On the Road by Jack Kerouac (this is to appease my hubbin and then I can go see the movie with him next year :))
Here's a link to my must-haves for this and next year- BOOKS I WANT SOON
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Her books about werewolves and kissing and even the homicidal Fae are phenomenal... it takes a lot to write a fantastic, gut wrenching novel that speaks to kids, teens, and grown ups and she's done it beautifully and repeatedly. But beyond her being a kickass writer, she's also a kickass person it seems. Every time I read her blog or listen to one of her interviews or we get a sneak peek of her life through a vlog, she makes me laugh.
I feel like if I could, I'd wanna take her to dinner, buy her a drink and laugh my ass off with her.
If you've not yet read a Maggie book, what's the problem? Go and read Lament, then Ballad.
When you are done with those go get you Shiver and Linger and read them slowly because we still have seven months until the end of the series with the finale Forever.
I personally stopped midway through Linger when I realized how long I'd be waiting for Forever.
I decided to wait until after I finished with NaNo then I'll go back and finish it. It was so good but I'm a bit of a book masochist apparently since I have left off midway through both Linger and Catching Fire. And I only read the first two Harry Potter books. :P
If you are interested in more Maggie stuff, she uses livejournal and updates quite often- The World According to Maggie
It's also linked in my Nerdy People pile located to the right :)
So anyhoo... if you've not read anything from Maggie Stiefvater, get off the interwebz, get to a bookstore, and get a copy of each. Now.
Have a good one :)
Friday, November 26, 2010
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I just finished this book and up til about a minute ago, I was crying in my husband's lap. The story of Kyra is heartbreaking and terrifying and all to real and similar to the lives of those I knew when I was Mormon. The lies, the manipulations, the pain- all used to keep the innocent and ignorant sheep. It was so painful to read and the hope in your heart for young Kyra hurts.
The ending broke my heart. I have just finished crying.
View all my reviews
Thursday, November 25, 2010
My NaNo is called Among the Thorns at the moment and here is who I picture in my head when the characters are talking to me :)
Josef, the soldier
Henrik's dad, Dr. Asa Engel
Henrik's mom, Nydia Engel
Zafi Grey, Isolde's Nursemaid
Isolde's father, Commandant Hanke