It’s got it all: atheism, spirituality, god, scifi, and good music!! Hulu’s got the first four eps up right now (and it doesn’t keep them forever), so go catch up. It’s too smart and too well written to stay on the air for long.
It’s the story of Kings David and Saul transposed into a country that looks like present-day America. It’s smart, sometimes funny, and often reminds me of Dune with it’s spiritual overtones (the King has been selected by a nebulous God, only to be usurped by the next King by the same God). Each ep gives me another song that I want to get (including one by Liszt). The characters are sympathetic and real, even the minor ones; the issues that they have are painful and don’t feel contrived.
This is a new generation of scifi—it’s not utopian or dystopian. It’s just other. And awesome.
And watch this vid. An MoF favorite singer and an MoF favorite cause: Regina Spektor and No On H8. Do this before V day and enjoy your partnership on Valentine’s Day guilt-free (and full of hope).
Let’s dedicate this Valentine’s Day to love.
Two recent news stories impressed upon me the fact that I will always be some kind of Catholic. Even if it’s ex-Catholic. My first step in rejecting religion was exploring my own. This started as what I later knew to be feminist critique of Catholicism. The more I learned, the more it seemed clear to me that women had a larger role in this religion than I was ever allowed to know growing up in it.
I still keep tabs on the Womenpriest movement and hope that someday the Church of my birth becomes something I can be proud of. I still think of Mary Magdalene as an integral part of what the Church should be (and is, even if it’s denied). And recently, these stories made me smile and be hopeful.
Feminists (even if they don’t use that word) are trying to get stories from the Bible that include positive depictions of women read more often during Mass. Proof of their desire for a female representation of the Divine, they gather in their churches while mass is not in session to share in their subversive readings.
Every day, there are more and more books that discuss the historical underpinnings of Christianity from a feminist perspective. Here is an interview with a recent author of one such.
said the friend sitting next to me at Christmas Eve dinner, with a vague look of disgust on her face, like I’d just admitted to enjoying self-flagellation. I was in the company of a number of people who had escaped Western religion (all some form of Christianity) and landed firmly in Eastern religion (all some form of Buddhism). With three beautiful dogs wandering about, Deva, Metta, and Gaia, this was a decidedly religious environment. And yet, there was no prayer before dinner, no implicit religion anywhere. There were buddha heads, mala, and yes, even crosses hung on the walls and displayed on shelves. But this was a place I felt at ease enough to say something atheistic enough to “out” me.
Later, another attendee told a story about a different dinner to which an atheist was inadvertently invited. One who waxed lyrical about the evils of religion and the stupidity of the people engaged in it. He was quieted with a “Yes, fundamentalism of all kinds is horrible,” and a glass of alcohol. This may or may not have been aimed at me, but was accompanied by shock that anyone could presume to know for sure what is or is not.
It is true, however, that my particular brand of atheism is less anti-Divine and more anti-Religion. As far as I am concerned, religion is objectively fucked up. But I believe that there is in all beings something special. Something worthy of awe, respect, love, acknowledgment, and equality. As a feminist, I can believe nothing else. I strive toward treating everyone with a namaste attitude. I feel filled with a sense of wonder when I walk in the forest, talk with good friends, or meditate. There is something out there, which name I give “the Divine”, that I cannot deny. Nor do I wish to.
And so I call myself an atheist to distinguish myself from any religionist who might make you uncomfortable by trying to convert you (or even just by talking too much about it). And while I have a great deal of respect for the hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool, fundamentalist atheists, I also don’t consider myself one of them. DH calls himself a “humanist”, though I’m not certain how he defines this, in order to avoid the atheism label (although he is the only person I’ve ever met who grew up completely outside of any religious influence).
I’m a dualist, a pantheist, a pagan, a feminist (in the religious sense, though not a Dianic), a meditator, a yogini, a post-Christian, an ex-Catholic, a Jino (Jew in name only); a pray-er to Bastet, Au-Set, Gaia, & Luna; a talker-with-animal-spirits and to trees; a student of Fire, a daughter of Earth, a foe of Water, a student of Wind; and an atheist. I meditate, I cook, I swim, I do yoga, I ski. I pray to the deities that strike me at the time, be they Mary or Skadi, Ra or Thor. I pray to the animals whose flesh I consume. I cast spells to help and to harm. And I reject the effect of prayer (whether as meditation, as supplication, or as spell) on anyone or anything other than the one who prays. I’ve seen and touched things that cannot be explained and which I cannot deny. But having no desire to foist them upon you, or to congregate with others in an effort to gain favor with a being who we cannot hope to affect, I reject the labels of religion. I refuse to allow anyone’s religion into my government and hope for a secular society, where all practice whatever they believe in their homes; whether that means meditation or family dinners.
“Yes,” I should have said, “I really am an atheist. But that makes me just like you.”
For a few weeks when I first stopped being able to find time to blog, I kept windows open in Safari to the point that it was neigh on impossible to shut down my computer, for fear of losing all the wonderful and amazing links I was going to share! But then I got into the Zen of it and decided that blogging is impermanent and that you all would survive even if you didn’t read that screed I found about Palin or the funny-but-true pic I found about the Constitution. So I let them go.
But I’m back *fanfare* and to celebrate, I have three links to share:
The first is this “Coming Out as an Atheist” survey. It essentially compares atheism (and the social/familial stigmas attached to it) to homosexuality and asks, if applicable to you, which was harder to come out as. (My guess? Homosexual, but who knows.) It’s not the kind of survey where you get results (“Congratulations! You’re a Libertarian!”), but the kind of survey that’s part of a study. So I encourage people who are out-atheists, on-the-fence non-believers, and religion-doubters to go take it (sorry to all you actual religionists, I don’t think there are a lot of options for you).
The second link is for religion geeks (or geeky religionists): If Programming Languages were Religions.
Finally, for peaceniks, today is the Winter Solstice and someone has organized a minute of silence, followed by bell-ringing for peace at noon today. Not a bad way to remain present as the season ramps up in crazy.
That is all.
I had my first final today. In preparation, I spent some time on the library’s balcony, enjoying the view, the silence, and the not-school-ness. I also spent some time in the library’s prayer room. (I also spent some time watching the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, but this post is not about that.)
Hanging out in these two places reminded me of all the praying I did when I was still pretending to be Catholic. It was boring, tedious, stressful, painful, and made me fall asleep. We prayed the rosary as a family when I was kid: we all knelt in a circle with beads dangling from our hands and intoning like zombies. This was the worst prayer for me. Kneeling on the ground was certainly not good for my knees, but even seiza would have been better than right-angle kneeling. Then there are the prayers. It’s deceptively simple: 10 Hail Marys (which come in two parts, one starting “Hail Mary” and the other starting “Holy Mary”—I constantly got them confused), an Our Father, a Glory Be…if you’re lucky. Then there are the prayers that only ever come up in the rosary, at the beginning and the end. One’s a creed, but it’s just different enough from the creed said in mass to mess you up. And you have to lead the rest of the group; that means, you say half the prayer and they respond. That means, if you’re the youngest or just don’t know the prayers as well, everybody knows when you mess up. If that weren’t enough, the prayers said between each decade (named for approximately how long it feels like you’ve been kneeling) change every day. By the time the rosary was over (50 years later, by carbon dating of my asleep feet), I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide of embarrassment, kill myself from the pain in my knees and the pins and needles in my feet, or just join a convent so I could take a vow of silence and never be caught saying the wrong words to a prayer again.
Non-public prayer was better, although I didn’t do a whole lot of it. I’ve had trouble falling asleep my whole life, but discovered in middle school that a few Hail Marys would put me out right quick. If I attended a public rosary today, they’d probably think I suffered from narcolepsy. The praying you did silently but in public (like after Communion, or before Mass) was pretty easy: a vacant stare toward the front of the church afforded a good opportunity to re-count the bricks in the wall, the pipes on the organ, the ceiling tiles on the ceiling, and, if I was lucky, the blades of a spinning fan (they’re harder to count while spinning). If I was feeling particularly pious, I’d close my eyes, or bow my head and let my imagination wander. I read a lot of fantasy books as a kid, including some filled with real gods (you know, the ones who answer prayers, whose priests can cause mystical happenings) and magic. I often went here and wondered what it would be like if I had a real god. This usually ended with me doing fantastical feats in church, to the amazement of all the parishioners; until a great chasm opened in the center of the aisle and I was swallowed whole by it.
Meditation, on the other hand, I learned in Judo. I learned to kneel in seiza before class started and simply breathe. I learned to become more aware of the things around me or block them out completely. I learned the meditation of sweeping the mats before practice, the one-mindedness of a really good practice, when no thoughts flit across your consciousness and your body moves like you think it should, unimpeded by gravity or other trivial considerations.
I went to yoga, where I learned the many kinds of breathing: the ones to calm and to excite; to cleanse mind and to cleanse lungs. I learned how stretching and deliberate motion put me in a place of peace and a feeling of unity with myself (not body and mind, but simply me).
I learned that hiking, walking on a rocky beach, and gardening brought the same peace, one-ness of mind, and relaxation as judo and yoga. I learned that many activities could be meditative, especially the mundane.
I learned that sometimes, words help focus the mind and developed or discovered “prayers” that helped me, rather than the ones I already knew would simply distract me (or put me to sleep). I learned that beads kept my body focused just as words focused my mind.
In short, I learned that meditation makes me a more complete person, calms me down, and helps me get through this stressful life intact. Something the prayer of my childhood could never have hoped to do.
WaPo’s On Faith asks its panelists Does religion empower women? This is one of the few On Faiths that I’ll probably read each response to. I’m looking forward to the Christian/Catholic answer, which I’ve found generally centers around “having kids is empowering!!1!” There is some wonderful evidence for non-child-based empowerment which I’ve yet to hear a priest mention when trying to keep women in their flock.
While reading chandelle’s recent post and the comments that followed, I had occasion to think about my dualism, which I’ve discussed at length before. Many of the comments discuss the “spectrum of sexuality”, how there may be some people who are completely heterosexual or completely homosexual, but that most people likely fall somewhere in between (of course, leaning one way or the other).
Although this would probably not qualify as a strictly dualist view of sexuality, it is exactly what my dualism is. Day and night may be polar opposites of one another, but only at noon and midnight are they “fully” day and night. The obvious in between stages are twilights, when the one slowly fades into the other. But even pre-dusk has a different quality than dusk itself, and each moment since true noon is closer to midnight.
The symbol of duality that I’ve identified with for the longest time is the yin yang. For a while, I understood the two halves to be separate, but containing “the seed of their own destruction” or the seed of the other. More recently, I’ve thought of it more as a continuum—each blending slowly into the other, with many shades of grey between.
I still think of it, however, as a dualist world-view. Perhaps I’m simply wrong, but it’s still an either/or. A room is either light or dark—but in relation to where you just were. Coming into a lit lodge from the daylit snow, it is dark; coming into the same lodge at night, it is light. There are still two poles, they just depend on where you’re standing.
A fascinating discussion/speculation about the position of women on earth and how that mirrors their position in heaven. Includes speculation about what might have been the course of humanity if the Abrahamic God was a female.
*desperately trying to avoid typing “theoCRAZY!”*
I missed this discussion at school, but have been seeing flyers for a forum on asylum law that state:
HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR
FREEDOM OF RELIGION?
Come hear [asylum professionals] discuss asylum law and practice. In particular, they will discuss the plight of Christian converts in Iran and their attempt to get asylum in the United States.
I have heard many times (but cannot currently find the citation) that Islam requires execution of converts-away-from-Islam. All nations should vocally oppose this and actively (and publicly—though not to the point of giving names, if that will cause danger) give asylum to anyone who falls under this religious law. All nations should also recognize the danger that theocracy poses by this example and actively take steps to avoid theocracy-in-fact or theocracy-in-effect in their own governments.
Religion’s obvious place in the current election cycle is depressing to a former religionist but should be demoralizing, even to current religionists. Reference to “Judeo-Christian values” by candidates or elected officials [via] are intended, on their surface, to remind us that we are a proud nation with glorious historical roots; intended to call to mind Battle Hymns and white men in whiter wigs. But I find that they often call to my mind the ongoing suppression [via] of any-religion-that’s-not-Christian-(with-occasional-hat-tips-to-Judaism). We can make excuses for our fore(white)fathers’ extermination of non-Christian religions with a “that was then, this is now” attitude, but we would still ignore the fact that the first pilgrims were seeking asylum, running from violent religious persecution, and should really have known better.
The Muslim world may be more overt in its censure of wrong-religionists [via], but the Christian world is not without blame [via]. The more evidence of theocracy’s ugly head creeping into my country’s government, the more I become afraid. Afraid of being an atheist, afraid of having pagan-leanings, afraid of practicing yoga & meditation, afraid of not going to (the right) church of a Sunday. I’ve been listening to Atheists Talk on podcast and they often bring to my attention issues that I had not known about or hadn’t made the connection about. Growing up Catholic gives me blinders to a lot of pro-Christian (and anti-everythingelse) stuff that goes on. It makes me wish I had a job & money to donate and that California’s Atheists were as with-it as Minnesota’s.
This is the trailer for a new movie, a Jihad for Love. I thought it was apropos given Prop 8′s drawing ever nearer. It is a story about the struggle of gay Muslims. I have added it to my Netflix queue, but if it comes out in the greater LA area, I’ll prolly get a group together if people are interested.
During Obama’s recent visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, according to tradition, he wrote a prayer on a piece of paper and left it there. However, since he is under media scrutiny right now, it was stolen by a young seminary student (who should have known better!). While I disagree completely with its theft, the text gives me great insight into the person I want to vote for.
The fact that he did it at all shows his respect for religions not his own (and the content seems to prove that he believes God Is One); both things I profoundly respect. Having brought stones to Jewish graveyards myself, I can attest to the fact that acting in the traditions of others gives one insight toward ones own beliefs.
The text itself, which I do not encourage anyone to read who does not want to, as this is more than reading one’s mail, but reading one’s thought-to-be private letter to the Divine, reminds me of King Solomon’s prayer. (For wisdom, rather than riches.)
Again, it gives me profound respect for the man and for the politician. May his prayer be answered.
(Prayer and links below the fold, but no other info, so don’t go if you don’t feel right doing it.) Read more >>