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Here comes the “Ggrink”

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

God-group-thinking or ggrinking – as I think of it – is a colour-less, odour-less, tasteless substitution for thinking, effectively removing and even replacing an individual’s ability to think. It’s method seems to be similar to how carbon monoxide binds to blood rather than oxygen in the bloodstream and ranges from causing confusion and headaches to death.    

When something unimaginable happens, out comes the ggrinking in all its forms:

  • the badness ggrink (we’ve been bad),
  • the goodness ggrink (they’ve been too good),
  • the shrink ggrink (we just need to understand what god is feeling),
  • the rink ggrink (going in circles trying to understand what god is telling us),
  • the long-cool-drink ggrink (relax, god has a plan),
  • the brink ggrink (sign of the end-times).

When you see statements like this – “Dear god, why do you allow so much violence in our schools?”.  “I’m not allowed in schools”.  – be very wary.  Statements like this will make you ggrink.  

The ggrink is a harmful substitute to thinking about the real situation we face.  No one is watching or planning or mounting a covert extraction.  We need to stop mentally curling up into a ball and rocking back and forth and praying.  We need to all work together to figure this out based on reality.  

Stop ggrinking – start thinking.  

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Atheism+ Crash & Burn

October 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Wow, just wow.  Atheism+  forums?  No, no no.  Did they even try? Sort of, but I believe they have gone way too far in the opposite direction.

I would never feel comfortable posting anything on there any more than I did in the big nasty world.  But, this wringing of hands is ludicrous.  What kind of discussions can exist except as an echo chamber.  I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

AtheismPlus

August 23, 2012 1 comment

AtheismPlusAlthough I am an atheist and subscribe to so many of the sentiments I hear expressed by many online atheists / skeptics, I dislike assigning labels to myself, because:

1.  A label has little explanatory value:  it rarely stands alone without further explanation;

2.  Labels gather  “connotations” and “assumptions” along the way;

3.  Others using the same label are not necessarily expressing opinions I agree with.

Having used a label, I probably won’t be given the opportunity to explain or even be aware that an incorrect (to me) assumption has been made.  Equally problematic is if one person says something that I vastly disagree with from my “group”, I am put in the position of either defending it or explain why I distance myself from it.

So, by using a label for myself, say atheist, I still have to explain that it means only “no belief”; I still need to explain (or demonstrate) that I’m not evil or without morals; and I have to be clear that I am not advocating for Ayn Rand or necessarily agree with Thunderf00t, DJ Grothe, Richard Dawkins, Paula Kirby, Alain de Botton (and the list goes on).  Ultimately, I may even have to decide at what point to remove myself from the label.

On the other hand, I do have many convictions that, to my thinking, result from or are informed by, being an atheist – I’m not even sure if these things can be disentangled.  The values expressed by some organizations, say the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) for instance, are things to which I definitely ascribe – at the motherhood level, but, I have been tricked before.  In fact, the week I decided to become a card-carrying, paid up member of CFI Canada, the President, Michael Payton, made some twitter remarks that I found distasteful and disturbing.  This after years of sitting on the fence!  It wasn’t just the comment, but the thinking behind it that made it possible to say – from the President no less.  I almost revoked my membership immediately.  However, he did make a retraction and apologized though, but I think it is still problematic if I was planning to become more active in CFI, which is unlikely now.  It is dangerous territory.  What to do?  Continue on alone and invisible, try again to find a group that fits or just remain independent and ineffective?  It has been okay being quiet as a fish, but I don’t care for it any more.  There are real issues out there that I want to address and sitting at my computer slapping my forehead and rolling my eyes is not doing anything except implicitly allowing it.

So, once more into the breach…I have decided after some deliberation to put my trust in this label AtheismPlus.  I’ve always liked what I hear from all of these individuals and agree with and have learned from them for a number of years now.  So, for what it is worth, sign me up!

Categories: Atheism, AtheismPlus, Social Tags:

Perspectives

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m 5′ nothing, but I’ve never felt short.  In fact, I’ve always felt rather nimble and compact.  I like being my size.  It’s perfect for me.  My husband on the other hand, is 6′ 2″.  He is also comfortable with his height – it suits him.

A few years ago now, he grabbed the video camera (it was usually me behind the lens) and did an impromptu taping of my Mum, sister and me (among whom I’m the “tallest”) goofing around one Christmas in the kitchen.  He slowly walked into the kitchen, panned across the top of the fridge and cupboards, then angled down to capture our silliness.  As I reviewed the footage of the evening, I gasped in amazement at the short clip.  I’d never seen the top of the fridge or viewed the cupboards from that angle.  When the camera angled down over the tops of our heads and we all looked up at him – way up – it seemed so strange.  We looked different.  I was struck immediately by this amazing glimpse into a world I had never imagined. It was all laid out and happening beneath him.   What a place it was – the room was familiar and yet so different. Even the people seemed different too; smaller and more vulnerable somehow.   I felt rather large and grandiose from that angle, more in control with almost a feeling of power, arrogance…and that was from 5 minutes of footage.   I looked over at him in amazement and said, “Is this how you perceive the world all the time?”  He looked surprised and said, “Yes, don’t you?”

He goes through a world slightly small for him.  Everything is in easy reach.  Most people look up to him.  I realized that although we see and hear the same things, we experience the world through such a slightly different lens  and  it interacts with us differently.  How could this not affect us?  We have often talked about this eye-opening glimpse into each other’s world in numerous conversations over the years.  I have an appreciation of how the world appears to him and vice versa.  In this context, some things make more sense to each of us.  It takes a bit of effort, but it is possible to see the world as someone else does, but first you have to be aware of that difference, even if it is sometimes a bit more subtle than the height difference between my husband and I.

To say that harassment doesn’t happen because you don’t see it is not being skeptical.  It is being oblivious.

Categories: Social Tags:

Hero Worship

July 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I suppose it seems obvious, but I am reminded again not to put anyone who I admire on a pedestal.  As Brian said, “You don’t need to follow me.  You don’t need to follow anybody. You’ve got to think for yourselves.  You’re all individuals!”.  Trying to follow anyone today is even more fraught with danger in this electronically woven web, it is easy to deceive. But then deception isn’t even the issue necessarily, it might just be the same online as in real life (RL).

Often when I read or hear something on one of my favourite blogs or podcasts, I can’t help but have that, “Yes!  That person thinks / is just like me!  I’m sure we’d be great friends and be able to swap stories and experiences …” response.  But I have been too often in the position of discovering some difficult or disappointing factoid or rumour and I…

  • Need to remind myself that I don’t know them and they don’t even know of my existence.  Of course, I will likely never even meet any of these people. Even so, in the unlikely hypothetical circumstance that we did meet, I wouldn’t be able to give or get anything other than a fleeting impression.  So this person not holding all views in common with me will make no real difference in my life whatsoever, I”ll likely not know of most of them and I’m also sure their lives will be similarly undiminished.  The thing is, is that this person – in fact every person – is much, much more complex than a single public interaction or even set of related positions or opinions than can be conveyed by a podcast, blog, video or Texas cable television show.  Very often acquaintances even in RL who I thought I knew well or thought knew me well can be wrong?  (I recently overheard a co-worker who I’d known for upwards of 10 years, tell someone who I liked Anne Murray type of music.  Really!  Really?  I may be all quiet n’all, but my go-to music is loud and even screaming like Child in Time or Battle of Evermore and what about Janis?)  So, yes, we are complicated creatures Precious!  So why do I care so much?

You know, the first few times I heard Ardent Atheist’s, Emery Emery he seemed so loud and overbearing (crass?).  Anyone who overheard me listening to the podcast would ask me to be turn down the racket – people yelling over each other, being rude, etc. But, well, I kinda liked it. It has a sort of, je ne sais pas and I’m so glad I stuck with it as I have come to enjoy this podcast very much.  As wonderful as it is to listen to Emery Emery, the guests and discussions are fascinating (still have to wear my headphones if anyone is in the house though!).  My life would be less enriched without them all.  I may not ever meet these people, but I can watch from the side lines smiling and cheering.

  • Feel disappointment.  Blast, I had thought that my hero was my type of person and it turns out not to be the case.  Of course I have no right to have made those assumptions in the first place in that I don’t know anything about these people.  I always rather like the acting of a certain actor and was so disappointed to hear that he is so deeply religious.  That type of disappointment is fleeting though – I don’t know anything about the guy really, and could care less, but;

The deeper disappointment is with people who I do actively think highly of through an understanding of their position on something important to me.  For instance, I had always rather bought into the Richard Dawkins meme so was shocked to read his, “Dear Muslima,” comment in response to a post on Pharyngula (No, no, no, scratch that example;  I’m still too bitter.)  How about a certain person of You-Tube fame?  Bloody hell!  Really!!! WTF!  STRAWMAN!   I kept wishing someone  would just pull him aside and have a word. Surely, he would see it?  But no, he got worse … Damn, I’m sure if I ever met him we could have been friends, but now I might just chew on his leg.  Disappointment is powerful stuff though for us atheist down cards.

  • Rationalize.  So really you know, Dawkins can’t help it; he can’t possibly relate from his lofty privilege and it is outside of his experience so how is it his fault, right?  …And, yes, I understand that certain individuals were not blogging in the spirit of the context-rich concept of  Freethought; I get it, I do.  He was being difficult and irrational and really wasn’t being collegial.  He was digging his heels in rather than listening.  But, was that really long enough to see if he could be brought around?  If we can’t find a way to connect with people already 1/2 (maybe 1/3) of the way there, is anyone further from the perspective going to hear or think or get there? Could my heroes have faults like jumping the gun? Perhaps, but that is acceptable to me now in my lofty one-step removed position.   I’ve been following these very smart guys for years and have learned tons of things all the time.  Who am I to say what else was going on and for how long?  I’ve never even met them. I remain deeply disappointed in some people though.

Sure, I’ll sometimes go through a kind of denial – hey, maybe it was untrue, I mean misinterpreted.  Yup, from my job I’m certainly aware of this amazing phenomenon.  Reports are not necessarily incorrect (but often they are) but they are at a bare minimum someone’s version.  By definition, it has been through the filter of at least 2 minds (reporter and my own) that will adjust, emphasize, downplay, and choose and often come out the other end barely recognizable to some.  Oh Humans!  So, transparent! So, first century!

  • Turn away completely.  Of course occasionally, it is time to let someone go.  I have unforgivable sins.  I could still listen to Cat Stevens: Izitso, Tea for the Tillerman even after he renounced them himself.  I enjoyed the music.  But when Yusuf supported his religion rather than his fellow-man, however loosely, to me that was unforgivable.  After 9/11 he again deferred to his book, even if his interpretation was against the attacks.  His religion was too important and he continues to wave its banner even if it is for “good” works.  I can’t trust the man and I no longer enjoy the music.  Baby?  Bath water?  Maybe, but my heart has hardened.

So I have learned my lesson (I have; I have).  No more will I allow an unknown, but interesting person to personally affect me with their wonderful insights and talented writing – I know it’s not personal and I will accept or not accept their ideas as they are expressed. The appropriate response to my list of fallen is to be unsupportive of their position in that instance only and perhaps even to direct my consumer and charity dollars elsewhere; my inter-personal currency will be spent on people with whom I have shared meaningful living, breathing time.  I will try not to form opinions or long-distance attachments to people based on a single stance on a single issue.  I’m cured.

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