Sunday, April 24, 2005

followup on the last post

Well, I went. It was really like I'd expected, down to the guilty reflections at the end. I didn't out myself as an apostate to anyone though--the topic didn't come up. Slipped out during the final musical reinforcement at the end--I sat in the back just in case. Ranted a bit in the car. Heard nothing about "salvation" which is not the basic Nazarene version which I have heard dozens of times before.

There was an interesting bit where Pastor seemed to get it right about how we cannot believe without God taking the initiative. But it turned out to be a bait and switch, as he then insisting that god is taking the initiative--therefore the next step is ours. Well, if god is speaking I must not be one of his sheep, cause I sure don't recognise his voice.

I think next time Mom invites me to church, I will just politely decline.

Mom wants me to go to church (big surprise?)

Last night Mom and me had a bit of a discussion--heated, though not hostile--about atheism vs. Christianity. She is trying to talk me into going to church today because Pastor is starting a series on what salvation is. I am quite sure that he could say nothing that I have never heard before--and that if he does he's only giving his opinion and not actual Christian doctrine. And he's not likely to really get down to the root of my disbelief. Remember, he'll be talking to Christians for the most part, not to skeptics.

I may go, but think of what I'll have to face if I do.

  1. I'll be sure to be greeted by at least half a dozen of the usual well-meaning people who will want to know where I've been (read: "Why haven't you been coming to church?"). And I'll likely be met by the college age pastor, who has been calling me and send invitation to church events (which I've not had time for lately anyway).

  2. I'll have to sit and stand though about 45 minutes of modern praise music. Some of the songs are alright, but this got old even when I was a believer. And heaven forbid the emotional impact of the music get to me, lest some well-intentioned soul think god is speaking to me. (Some days I get emotional over jingles on the radio. LOL)

  3. Then I get to listen to about 30 minutes of sermon. This could be the best part on some days, since I've always liked listening to a good speech. It's just that if I hear something that I think is ridiculous I just have to stuff it, and try not to let it show on my face. And then there is the usual cathartic guilt trip at the end, where the point of how we have not been living up to god's plan, in some way or another, is beat into the ground. Last few times I went I didn't even feel guilty, but was a bit disgusted at how easily most of the congregation was lead along.

  4. Normally at the end of the sermon I just get up and leave. And release some pent-up frustration with a good rant as soon as I get out to the privacy of my car.

On the other hand, this is a chance to show Mom that I'm taking her seriously and am willing to expose myself to Christianity. What a choice. Maybe I should go and report on what happened when I get back. Now that could be some good blog material for you. . .

Saturday, April 23, 2005

the meaning of life

This has been on my mind for the last few days, when I'm not occupied with other things. Where is my life going anyway? What is my purpose in life. (Bear with me . . .)
One thing I lost when I left the Christian fold is an easy answer to this question. The answer that usually came to mind was the one in Ecclesiastes 12:13

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

Now, obvously, as an atheist I can't say this means much to me anymore. Life is easier when someone else can tell you who you are and what your purpose is in life. We atheists are more free--and freedom is wonderful though it can be tough. So what do I do now? It's not an easy question. Well, what is meaning anyway? Meaning is the significance that humans give to things--a very subjective concept. The conclusion I've come to so far is that I must find a meaning to my own life, if I am to have one. Maybe the purpose of life is to find that meaning . . . dunno, that sounds a bit too philosophical. This one is going to take a bit more seeking to figure out.

Since I'm visiting Ecclesiastes, I'd also like to post my favorite bit from the Bible--one of the bits that actually makes sense.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Atheist Fortune Cookies

These quotes are from The Holy Temple of Mass Consumption. There are many more where these came from!

God is real, unless declared integer.
(Bit of a programmer joke.)

"For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever would believe in him would believe in anything."

"Jesus died to take our wibbles away, so now we can go to zonk."

Any belief worth having must survive doubt.

I went to church to confess my sins to God. And then I realized there was no God and I had no sins.

(I've also heard one somewhere went something like:
"When did I realize I was God? Well, one day I was praying and realized I was talking to myself.")

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."The Wise Man Says it to the World.

Re: God... 1) The emperor has no clothes. 2) There is no emperor.

"The difference between science and theology is that science has general validity." [Graham Kendall]

"Saying AMEN after prayer is like hitting the ENTER key." [Graham Kendall]

"The Gish Principle -> If a gap exists between two fossil species, and an intermediate fossil species is discovered, then two gaps are present now and evolution is disproved even more." [Graham Kendall]

"As far as Roland was concerned, God o' the Cross was just another religion which taught that love and murder were inextricably bound together-that in the end, God always drank blood." [Stephen King]

"It's very healthy for a young girl to be deterred from promiscuity by fear of contracting a painful, incurable disease, or cervical cancer, or sterility, or the likelihood of giving birth to a dead, blind, or brain- damage [sic] baby even ten years later when she may be happily married." [Phyllis Schlafly]

And here is one of my all time favorites, a classic from many years ago:

"The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God dies; it by all means to be believed, because it is absurd. And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible."
[Tertullian, in _The Ante-Nicene Fathers_, by Roberts & Donaldson, Chapter 5 p. 525]

Friday, April 08, 2005

ahhhh . . .

I'm feeling a lot more relaxed and cheerful now than I have for the past week. It's been a good day, and a productive one. I got some school work done and went to work for a few hours. And Dad did some needed maintainance on my car. There's one thing to be thankful for--I've never been without a running car as long as I've had a license, thanks to Dad. And it's a good thing too--where I live I can't go anywhere without a car. The weather has been beautiful today too.

This may seem a strange thing to stick in here now, but Jim and I are parting ways. He says he wants to be alone for a while, and actually the idea doesn't sound to bad to me right now. It's a little sad, but I'm strangely alright with it.

Well, I'm looking forward to a very busy weekend. But first, I need to leave the computer and do a bit of reading.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


God died today in the heart of another man.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
And in this soil a seed is planted.

God died today in the mind of another woman.
The black dirt, the moist earth,
From this new garden, wisdom grows.

I was always taught that God died that I might live.
I never realized how true this was.
His death nourishes the seeds of wisdom, happiness, and freedom.

This is a eulogy, a benediction.
I am saddened by my loss,
But know a better life is ahead of me.

Love and hate marked this relationship.
I loved this mythical invisible father.
I hated the crotchety old judge.

Like the battered child,
Who still loves their parents,
I am glad he's gone, but I still miss him.

The new garden I have has wonderful plants,
But I must pull weeds of doubt and guilt,
It's my responsibility now.

As a child must grow and leave the safety of home,
I have grown and left the eternal security of heaven.
I have outgrown my god, and laid him to rest.

Written by Bill Barnes, a member of the Extian mailing list.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Jenna is Annoyed

Jenna is Annoyed


odd moods

Emotions are strange things. . .

I've been under a bit more stress this semester than I'm used to dealing with. Also, it's getting close to graduation, I need a co-op and I'm not really sure what career I want to pursue. I dread the classic "where do you see yourself in 5 years" question. Sometimes I think what I want more than anything, as far as career goes, is to have a nice eight hour a day job. That way I can just go to work, do my job and then go home. And not be called in to work the middle of my family time or at 2:00 in the morning due to something or another. But is this something I can say in an interview? It doesn't sound very ambitious, does it? Maybe like I'm not going to put 100% of my effort into my career--because I'd like to have other things in my life too.
And does a desire for this kind of lifestyle rule out any chances of a job like systems administrator or DBA? A programming position would be nice, but I'm not sure of my ability. Systems development is really stressful (if my dev. project class is any clue).
Where am I going anyway? Maybe I should take one of those little personality tests that are supposed to tell you what your ideal career is. Maybe just settle for a little less money than I could be making. We'll see.

I had a bit of a rough day yesterday. It was not so much that the day was hard, but for some reason I was really depressed. There was a combination of stress over my finance class (which I'm not doing very well in compared to my usual)and a presentation for my development class (my portion of the project was still nonfunctional and giving errors--after spending about all my free time over the weekend working on it. Very frustrating.) I skipped my last class.

I'm feeling rather better today at least. I even woke up happy, had a good busy day at work and did a bit of studying when I got home. And then chilled out and watched some television. Life is alright.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Reminders . . .

I have not been thinking a whole lot about religion lately, but a few things have brought it to my mind lately. For one thing, I'm at my Grandparent's house right now, and they are in the other room listening to "Dr." Kennedy spouting his usual venom about the evils of secularity. Like how atheists cannot be good, loving, parents--because only a "God-centered" family can raise good children. How secular education is hurting our children. Whatever . . .

Anyway, what is really on my mind is two high-profile deaths from the past week. Terry Schiavo and Pope John Paul II. What is the common thread between these two people? The reason these both made me think again of Christianity was one concept that I noticed in relation to both of these. Suffering. The centrality of suffering to Christianity.

In the case of Terry, the "right to life" people expressed the idea that she should be kept alive at all costs. That she was suffering in obedience to God.

In the case of the late Pope, I heard more than once about how he considered his suffering to be born in obedience to God. Here, at least, I have no moral objection since John Paul II was at least able to choose to go on with his physical problems. Unlike Schiavo, who had reportly said that she would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state.

What is it about suffering that is so virtuous? I read an editorial the other day in The Courier Journal about how the religious right seems to care more about avoiding death than in the quality of life. They say they want a "culture of life" but what this turns into is a culture of living death. The idea that a life of terrible suffering is to be enforced over the right of people in such a state to end their life in the way they choose. The idea that suffering, for its own sake, when one could seek relief, is virtuous. What sort of BS is this?

But then, what do you expect from people who are convinced that our life belongs to God? But where were the religious who said that those keeping Terry alive artificially were the ones "playing God?" Why couldn't God support her without a feeding tube if he so desired? Is he not strong enough?

I've also heard those who are worried that all this means that people who are kept alive with feeding tubes do not deserve to live. I just don't see it. If they choose to live, they should live. It is their choice. They can CHOOSE to live with their suffering or they can CHOOSE to die. This is freedom of choice! They just shouldn't be able to dictate the choice for everyone else in the country. The Pope decided to live until the end and I respect him for it. It was a choice for him and no one else to make.

Sadly in Terry's case, if her brain was damaged to the extent that I've heard, the person that was Terry was already gone before the feeding tube was pulled. At that point she could not choose. I can't help beliving that when the brain activity stops, the person is gone. How could they not be? If she was seriously showing a possiblity of recovery things could have been different. I'm waiting to see the results of that autopsy . . .

Well, what really triggered this rant was listening to Kennedy as I mentioned at the beginning. Sometimes I can use a reminder of how hideous the religious right can be. They give lip service to religious liberty, and then insist on turing their belief into law. Such as their idea that our lives belong to their father in the sky, therefore we must live as they say. And die as they say.

Anyway, here are some links related to the late Pope and Terry Schiavo:

'Precious' Suffering: About Pope John Paul II

The Culture of Living Death :The article which inspired this blog.

Culture of Life or Culture of Living Death?