TheBluegrassSkeptic

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TheBluegrassSkeptic last won the day on January 22 2014

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About TheBluegrassSkeptic

  • Rank
    Mistress of Shenanigans
  • Birthday 05/26/1977

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  • Website URL
    http://www.ex-christian.net/blog/170-the-bluegrass-skeptic/#.VUFcXfCIlpM

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  • Gender
    Female
  • Location
    Covington, Kentucky aka The Asshole Of America
  • Interests
    Conversation is great, but discussion is better. I thoroughly enjoy sharing ideas, discussing all manner of topics, and writing. I love, love, love, love, to write!
  • More About Me
    What to know about me. I was formerly Zomberina Contagion on this website, but she crumbled to dust on April 28th, 2015, around 11:32 a.m. Her job and the state she lives in just couldn't give her enough of an outlet, but not everyone likes zombies. " Did you see them repressing me? You saw them didn't you?" were her last words.

    Ironically, as her decayed creepiness fell away, the skeptic in her shriveled little brain wouldn't give up the fight. A mad scientist discovered it before it was too late and transplanted it into a new body.

    Ta da! Here I am. The Bluegrass Skeptic. Kentucky has me loving the field of science, the practice of reason, and its many varieties of bourbon. It's tough being an atheist in the South, but at least I have bourbon.

    In all seriousness, I'm a very real, down to earth, goofy, socially missing clues left and right, kind of person. My name is Kate Ashcraft. I work for the mail service, have a passion for writing, a huge lack of sleep, and I've discovered that living in Kentucky has some up and down sides. Mostly down in my opinion. Between crappy seasonal weather, Republican dominated politics, and God? This free thinker is screwed in all the wrong ways but the good one!

    My website TheBluegrassSkeptic.com, will be up and running May 15th 2015. You should check it out if you liked Zomberina's style. The only thing that has changed is things are more organized and centrally located. You might find there is more to see than you realize. Kind of like a flea market, there will be something for everybody.

Previous Fields

  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    My massager......
  1. I've always enjoyed watching how a person can adapt, and even sometimes evolve, belief to fit the not just certain time frames in life, but even moment to moment. The give and take between believer and belief system has always fascinated me because many times it seems the believer is unaware of the relationship that is actually occurring. Especially so when confronted with situations or reasoning that directly confronts and contradicts said belief relationship. Much like poor Beni Gabor (The Mummy, 1999), one starts flipping through all the angles of belief in order to find a ledge to maintain standing on. To teeter wildly on the edge of rational thought and desperately avoid it has always been something I could sympathize with. How many times have we had to look in the mirror, and finally we admitted we are tired and committed to an important change? This constant flipping about belief rules to fit situations isn't an uncommon problem in many religiously oriented life styles. A wife promises to keep her spending under control so as to not run up the credit bills too high, but turns around five minutes later to pledge $85 a month on that same credit card to Joel Osteen ministries. It's for God, so she isn't breaking her promise. Pope Francis condemns gender pay inequality, but I'll be damned if they are willing to ordain women anytime soon despite how flimsy the basis of doctrine is to support the church's patriarchal employment structure (Jesus only chose male apostles, so there's your proof?) If one does not follow the same structured belief rules as another, each one dismisses the other's belief as misguided instead of understanding why they ended up serving the same deity differently. A child is sick and dies despite the prayers and pleading by the parents for the child to be healed by their god. Instead of accepting that the illness took the child, the parents reason that their god had a plan in their lives for allowing their child to die so young, instead of accepting it was a disease that decided the entire event that was unpreventable and out of their control. Many believe the End Times are here, are saving food and ammunition, yet aren't they supposed to go in the Rapture and not have to need any of these things anyway? When you bring up this example, things get very defensive don't they? That's the fear, the feeling of vulnerability, and nervousness of having to reevaluate one's pool of answers. The examples can go on forever, but this type of thinking doesn't have to. Let's start with one of the first exercises in dealing with cognitive dissonance: A Question Is Not A Judgement. Have you ever been in conversation with someone and you tell them some fantastic epiphany you had about becoming rich, doing good for humanity, and maybe you could die with an awesome legacy? And then that person points out how your method of becoming rich might actually not be good for humanity and suddenly you go blank, feel super awkward, and then scan your memory banks for a more solid position that supports your plan. Hello being defensive, goodbye having a conversation. Anytime we are confronted with errors in our reasoning, we instinctively hold onto our original reasoning. We can't help it. Our brains need time to rewire our understanding and application of logic when we get new information or realize we have an error in our data set. This is a common issue many atheists run into when trying to get family members to understand that because we don't believe in a god doesn't mean we automatically believe in the devil. After all, why believe in the devil if we don't even believe in a god? But this logical concept is actually difficult to understand for many religious family members because they are programmed with an "either or" scenario when it comes to belief and practicing it. Either you go to church or you aren't a true believer. Either you believe in the holy spirit or you aren't a true believer. Either you are pro-life or you support murder, which is a sin. It's always extremes, which is the mode of thinking you have to get out of. To combat this, one has to remember a question is not a judgement. It's just a question. A question helps one explore concepts, avenues, solutions, application, and understanding of held belief. You can't call it a question if you are looking to only reinforce your own side of the argument either. This is an exploration into thought process, so it is an experience of mutual understanding for both parties. You have to be patient when doing this because unease will undoubtedly strike. I've often hear phrases like,"I don't like this line of conversation" or "You can't change my mind", and my favorite "I'm not going to let you misconstrue what I say and attack me with my own words". All of these are defensive positions, are the red flags you need to be aware of so you don't allow the tension to escalate enough to allow for a complete avoidance of the subject. There is another part to questioning though, and it's a tough one sometimes. This is difficult enough to do with just one's own cognitive processes, but trying to help someone else to do the same? Do not count on knocking it out in one conversation, or even ten. I've found demonstrated consistency and interaction is the only way you can start to break down some of the resolute self-denial that just won't budge when trying to convince Aunt Mary that you really are happy with your life without jeebus. Again, it's not about being right, it's about understanding, which leads to discussion and tolerance, which can sometimes lead to even greater things in helping someone grow into a more rational mind set when trying to understand the world we live in. The old saying about more than one right way to skin a cat? Very true, and opening your mind to the methods available are important. Having an open mind is about learning and education, not argument and debate. "You're trying to change who I am!" I think this is probably the most important piece to cognitive dissonance's grip on the way a person approaches life. Pretty much says it all in that picture above doesn't it? Identity is hands down the biggest part of confronting and changing one's patterns of logic. Mostly because when you start questioning small things, they add up, and the next thing you know your entire identity is on the dissection table. How much of it was your own to begin with? Who am I? Who was I? Who will I be? And more importantly, will my community still accept me or am I willing to lose some of them? This loss of identity is probably the most scary thing to face because when you grow up and have so much of your world manufactured and programmed by others around you when you are young, you have to begin an entirely new journey of self discovery, and not all of those programmers are going to want to be in your life in anymore, or they are going to want to get you back on the right track. You feel like you are an aberration in the land of Camazotz. Even worse, you will find a lot of self-doubt rumbling up to the surface, and this is true for many who do take the plunge into exploring fact and fiction, and what is reasonably acceptable in life. Cultural programming and human nature contribute to this most primal of defensive mechanisms. No matter how much stark facts are thrown at us, we will grip even tighter to the error ridden logic that has helped us get through life. It turns out that the best way to help people get past cultural barriers, ideological barriers, and even class barriers are the kind of tactics I absolutely hate to use: emotional appeal. Fear is the word to know, but do not always say it out loud. Yes, that's right. Showing the stark numbers of dogs abused every year in black and white will yield little change of heart in donations. You bring out a woman singing "In The Arms Of The Angels" while showing slides of mangled, dirty dogs that are in shelter cages? The compassion starts to flow and the urge to take action is nearly impossible to ignore. This is why churches and families have such a solid control on the thought processes of young children and adults in the world, usually reinforced with fear and shame. Fear being the more popular so long as it leads towards a pre constructed solution. You can't just set someone's mental world on fire and expect any productive results without a clear cut path of action you want them to take in order to avoid the fire. Keep it simple, and to the point. Don't want to go to hell and be tortured and burned and cut into pieces everyday and reassembled over and over again? Don't kill people! Bad situation + easy rule to avoid bad situation = Controlled line of thought. Yeah, you have to really work on the convincing part of the bad stuff actually being real, and that is where shame comes in. Point out all the flaw and beat down someone's self-worth is usually a good start. Or, just start filling their heads with these frightening concepts before they are even mature enough to know better. And all of this is what you are up against when dealing with someone who lives in a world of conflicting ideas. You can't make the change happen overnight, and honestly, it's an ongoing process for everyone no matter how freed one might think s/he actually are. Patience is not a virtue. It's a life hack. The only final thing I have learned is that patience is the best tool in my shed when dealing with folks that are making my life a living hell because they do not agree with my lifestyle, listen to bullshit lies passed around by an ex-husband, or think my direct nature is a personal issue with them and not just me being a socially awkward gadderblast, and act upon those preconceived notions. Years ago I'd read a few memoirs by Benjamin Franklin, and one quote in particular stuck out in my mind: It's called the Ben Franklin effect, and I have to say, it does wonders with those you have tense relationships with. It can help you get the conversation started, but you have to be patient, and essentially kill them with kindness. That's all I've got this week! Got any additional tips for dealing with compartmentalized religious people? Share in the comments below! I will be discussing this on next week's podcast.
  2. Is anyone having errors when trying to submit blogs? I keep getting required content notice, but it's all there???? Gahhh

    1. webmdave

      webmdave

      Not seeing any errors here. I just tested your account and it appears to be working fine. If you continue to have issues, send me a detailed description of the problem through the contact form or by submitting a support request. 

    2. TheBluegrassSkeptic

      TheBluegrassSkeptic

      Thanks so much, I managed to figure it out. My new internet provider decided to slam my connection and somehow it left me on an offline version of the blog page. Long story short, the provider caused my issue and nothing was wrong here irl.

  3. Death for me over the years has rarely been difficult to process and move on. I've buried quite a few, only mourned a couple. The two I mourn are now memories I guard so earnestly a mother bear could not rival my ferocity. These two people immediately bring on the wet eyes and short tight breaths when I just so much as think on their lives, their influence, and my loss. This past January I experienced a third loss of someone very important in my life. It's hit me very hard, and I am surprised it's taken me this long to be able to pick up a pen and put it to paper finally. It's been thirty days, and this is still difficult to even bother to proof read. I did pour out my initial shock and pain all over social media. I tracked every article on his death I could find. I even found video from where he was that day and watched a VBIED explode in the distance. I had to somehow be there. Witness his chaos, hear the intensity, and visualize the finality that damage brought on in the war he volunteered to fight in. Albert Avery Harrington had volunteered to fight with Kurdish forces against ISIL two years ago. When he had initially announced his plans, I debated, I argued, and I even pleaded for him to reconsider and find another way to render aid. I knew he would end up severely injured, or worse, dead. But he went anyway, fully accepting the almost guaranteed risks that would change his, and the lives of all who loved him, forever. He sought life and purpose on his own path, and if death found him, at least it was while he was in pursuit of what made his existence fulfilled. This outlook on life is the only reason I can accept his death without anger or regret. No anger at his dying in a situation that he willingly allowed danger to follow, or regret that I never convinced him to put down this flag for a noble cause. Our last goodbye was back in September. He'd asked me if I could use my press privileges and get him in to Kurdistan. I'd laughed him off, quietly relieved he wasn't currently in harm's way for the moment. I knew it was only a matter of time though, and once again I would get erratic messages from the front lines in Kurdistan where he would complain about needing sleep and I would promise him the juiciest burger money could buy once he got back. If. But he didn't make it back. January 18th he and four others were hit by not one, but two, VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) during a special offensive titled "Wrath of the Euphrates" in a small village called Suwaydiya-Saghirah village in Raqqa. The goal was to cut off the supply line to ISIS's stronghold in Raqqa. Three men were instantly killed, and Avery succumbed to his wounds in the morning hours of the 22nd at age 50. He is listed as a martyr with YPG/MFS Kurdish forces and buried in the land where he fought to defend innocents against ISIL's tyrannical cult. It appears their sacrifice has paid off since Kurdish forces have wrested control of Kukhkhan and Bir Said villages from ISIL in northern Raqqa. While the progress made since his death has been bittersweet, seeing the word martyr was a difficult thing to process at first. See, like myself, Avery was an atheist. He was living proof of atheist in foxholes and he was very much a humanist. One I try to model myself after. Honestly, I don't know how he gave so much of himself to so many. I get exhausted, but Avery thrived on it, I believe. "Give me a mission," he would say. So, when I saw him being referred to as a martyr, my teeth began to grind. The days to come proved even harder when others began to share their own pain and thoughts on his passing. As I followed up on news posted on his remembrance page, I began reading the thoughts and prayers comments. I also had to walk away from my computer a few times when I read speculation about whether he'd gotten right with god or turned back to Christ on his death bed. At first, I interpreted this kind of talk as an affront to what he stood for. His legacy should not be tarnished with the idea he was going to Hell unless he managed a last minute conversion. Could people not see the insult to everything he stood for by questioning his very humanity based on a belief system he did not even ascribe to? Those questions and speculations made me cry. They made me angry. I felt Avery's very purpose of pursuing a larger case for compassion on the world stage had been overshadowed. And after my rage subsided, I realized what was wrong with all these thoughts that were screaming in my head. The word "I". The long and the short of it all comes down to the fact Avery is dead. He can no longer be personally offended. He can't feel. He is oblivious to the world as he lays in his box under hundreds of pounds of dirt and rock in Syria. This is about my desire to preserve his memory in my life as I feel it should be. When the desires of other's to do the same do not match up to mine, then I want to stomp them out. And this is incredibly unfair. It minimizes the grief of others, it alienates in a time when coming together is most comforting. The desire or belief that Avery found God and is now in Heaven does no harm to his memory in my life. It puts a comfort to the personal loss of another, and I don't have the right to control another's grieving process by demanding their hopes be dashed. Just as Avery showed understanding for religious culture and customs of those he sought to protect, why can I not afford the same respect to those who now have a gaping loss to deal with in their lives like I do? This is a practice I will struggle with for years to come, as do all of us, but for those of us who do not believe in a hereafter, we feel the loss even more permanently than those who do believe. Why should I make a demand for conformity on behalf of those who are dead? Why allow the anger to take away from what we have lost? Do I really need to ask them why their God saw fit to allow such atrocity that eventually motivated Avery to protect those God would not? No, I won't do that. Even if when some say this god supposedly had a plan for Avery. Grief and loss do not belong to only one individual, though the process is individually different because of perception of the relationship one shared with the deceased. All of us who loved and cherished Avery have one thing in common, his death. Some of us will look forward to dining with him at the table in Valhalla, the rest of us have only his influence to pass on through our own actions so he may life on in the life of others - even if some who will be influenced by him, won't even know his name or know he is the source of their benefit. I can honestly say that my relationship with Avery ended with no regrets, and the past is forever the past, and tomorrow will always show me where we once were together. I love you, Avery. We miss you.
  4. This might come off as somewhat cynical, but I have to agree with the writer: baby steps. (That's me saying baby steps. I agree, can't have it all overnight.) The fact that they have passed an equality law at all really says a lot. It's largely unthinkable in most of the Middle East. Bar Israel, only Pre-Erdogan Turkey (which is rapidly moving in the direction of Iran 1979), Lebanon (probably, not sure) and maybe, maybe the more secular regions of Syria, would even allow such matters to be voiced. I admit to being fairly biased. I rather frequently talk with (secular) Kurds on twitter, but I do read other sources as well, and ask Syriacs/Assyrians and secular Arabs for their opinion on the matter, but I readily admit that my perspective might be somewhat skewed in favour of the Kurds. Thanks for the read, t'was interesting.
  5. The KRG, and their compatriots on the Syrian side (YPG/SDF/Rojava) are pretty much the only ones who've consistently been fighting DAESH. Kurds are far from perfect, but they are - on average - a lot more moderate than most other groups in the region. And I mean moderate in the true sense of the word, unlike the EU and Obama administration who resorted to calling Al Qaida affiliates "moderate" because it suited their needs in their fight against Assad. Please tell me what land the Kurds stole from Iraq and Turkey? The KRG has been around since the 90's, and South Eastern Turkey is de facto Kurdish. As for the Rojava ("West Kurdistan", i.e. northern Syria), what were they supposed to do? Let DAESH take over? In fact, if anyone should be accused of landgrabbing, it's the Turks. Easternmost Antolia used to be Armenian, the southern parts Kurdish and Assyrian. Not to speak of coastal areas that used to be inhabited by Greek speakers. I was basing my information off the following source : Martin van Bruinessen, "Kurdistan." The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World, 2nd edition. Joel Krieger, ed. Oxford University Press, 2001. In the 80's and 90's when PKK separatists started putting their feet down against Turkey, they too were executing not just military members, but communities sponsored by Turkey in those regions. That's why the countryside was evacuated for awhile. I would not argue that Turkey is blameless in any of the conflict. It's been fairly obvious the Turkish government has played both sides of the fence. I would also state that my information comes from firsthand combatants on the ground in Turkey, and my friend later confirmed a few incidents himself that at first he claimed were not happening over there. It's war. It's dirty. It's wrought with passions, anger, and hope. As far as their being a country, again, the treaties and state departments world wide recognize that y the pact of Severes in 1920, they were supposed to be identified as an independent nation, but Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey refused to allow it. Many think in the coming decade Kurdistan should have official recognition that would get them more rights on the world stage. Yes, they have their own parliament, but they do not have recognition on a legal basis as their own country...yet... and I hope they get it. To answer to discriminatory behavior, yes, the Kurds are not as cruel as ISIS in method, but their aim is still the same on some levels. During the killings of Christians in Mosul, the Kurdish security was unable to stop the attacks and magically the perps have not been found. In 2009 Human Rights Watch found that health providers in Iraqi Kurdistan were involved in both performing and promoting misinformation about the practice of female genital mutilation. Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from media campaigns and medical personnel on its consequences. (source: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2010/country-chapters-1)The Kurdistan parliament did push a possible law outlawing the practice, but the the final order never came to make it law and in fact was expected in February 2009 but ended up cancelled. The lgbtq community in Kurdistan is still struggling to be heard. While an equality law was passed, too much anger in the religious community allows it to really be put into practice. I know, baby steps. And yes, there are still instances of women being stoned. http://www.violenceisnotourculture.org/content/iraqi-kurdistan-woman-stoned-death-eloping Avery and I did speak on this, and like you, he assured me that it was all misinformation. He learned later it was not and admitted as much. Regardless of our differing views, I do not condemn Kurdistan or its future recognition on the world stage. So many of their cultural has placed their life blood on the rocks of that region protecting so many outside their own villages. Since the Middle Ages the Kurds have held tight to a broader understanding of their world and the many peoples that make it possible, and I have little doubt that much good is done by them. It isn't wrong to question and seek out what is accurate or misinformed perspective, and I really appreciate your bringing this up.
  6. I don't know how well this blog is going to go over, and I probably haven't thought this completely through, but I am posting it anyway. I have to get this off my mind, and I am sure just the idea of what I am suggesting will infuriate a few out there, but hopefully if read all the way through, I make sense, just not articulated well. This all began earlier this week when a friend of mine, our very own Brother Jeff, was being persistently pursued about the concept of Hell, and the need to open his mind to the possiblity because of NDE experiences that incorporated the fiery land of sulfur. These experiences should be considered as proof of the reality was essentially what the poster was insisting on. Further than that, he even made the assumption that Jeff is far too involved with atheist acquaintances, which might be why he doesn't believe in the concept at all. Atheist friends like myself. While this commentator's blame laying on atheists for being part of the main reason Jeff had left behind religious belief (see what I did there?) and lava filled oceans was flattering, his accusations were at best desperation. Even more desperate? He was hell bent on convincing Jeff to at least just visit a particular website called http://www.hellisreal.net, because the internet must only have accurate information and evidence. As is typical of such proselyting tactics, when Jeff remained unfazed and determined in his views, the poster went the last desperate step in argumentation. Desperate equates to fallacious, of course. "What about all of the Islamic terror and political bias? You aren't being fair in your slander." This type of tu quoque argumentation is a favorite of mine to read. It's classic avoidance by meeting criticism with criticism instead of actually answering to the charges. And it's an easy one to fall into. Meeting criticism with much of the same is a great way to avoid talking about topics you are hard pressed to defend rationally. Ironically, his accusation that my friend only feels comfortable criticizing Christianity brings up an interesting perspective about showing preference. First, I think it is plainly obvious why one often focuses on the majority religion in their communities. The majority religion has the largest impact on day to day life, upbringing, and political ideology. Christian extremism has affected my life 99.9% of the time. I am in a country that truly believes that the Christian god is personally blessing our nation in particular, every day. (C'mon, share the wealth with livable wages then, right?) Islam? Hasn't played a significant role in my day to day life until the last decade, and even then the footprint is minor, but somewhat significant in my relationship with our nation's evolving obsession with Christian culture and rules in our everyday society and government. Now, when I read interactions like that of Jeff and a religious commentator and the accusation of sympathizing with terrorists for not equally criticizing Islam, I start to bristle at the absolute ridiculous comparison. Are there terrorists who are Muslim? Absolutely, I won't deny it or defend it. As this commentator should acknowledge there are Christian terrorists today. The Identity movement, evangelical pastors convincing African nations to pass "kill the gays" legislation. Potential vice presidents of our nation wanting to jail gays for even applying for a marriage license. Every group has extremists, but the ones that have truly influenced your life are likely the ones you will focus on. And that is okay. Lack of focus on other religious extremists isn't a denial of what they have done. If one cannot relate to the substance of particular sects of violent ideology, why is one obligated to give it equal air time? Personally, extreme political cults like ISIS and Al Qaeda have had an unusual positive impact on my perception of the world, and influence of belief within politics. I could actually send a thank you note for the awareness their extremism has introduced into my once clearly biased attitudes. My bias had always allowed me to minimize the damage our country's majority Christian outlook has wrought against those who wouldn't conform. But no longer. Children killed in the name of teaching Syrian parents they must follow ISIS. Children killed by their own mothers in America because they were not following God's laws. Muslim children being denied vaccinations because it was considered worldly and an affront to Allah. Christian children denied vaccinations because God supposedly condemns worldly intervention over divine providence. Gay Muslim men thrown from rooftops in Iraq for their sexuality. Then I remembered having read about James Byrd Jr.'s dragging death in Jasper, Texas for being gay. He was drug to death by Christian white supremacists. I listened to Muslim clerics explain to fathers in Afghanistan that their women and daughters should not go in public without a family member, or they would invite sexual assault and be permanently dishonored. I watch Christian fathers in our country tearfully accept their daughters' promises of virginal purity until marriage because these young girls' sexuality belongs to their fathers. I cried as Boko Haram handed out school girls as sex slaves, and I cried as my Christian politicians condemned abortion in cases of rape because babies are gifts from God, regardless of how conception occurred. Up until the daily news casts started sharing with me the extreme imposition of theocratic policies in extreme Islamic belief, I was able to rationalize that we could be a lot worse here in America, and that it wasn't so bad. And it is true, we could be a lot worse, but there is so much we suffer under today that is outrageously unconstitutional and is still permitted because we are a supposedly "Christian Nation" even though our Constitution tells us otherwise. When I had a daily visual to compare our own nation's attitudes and practices against? I realized we put up with a lot of unfair demands for conformity or face retribution on many unimaginable levels. While it is very true that extreme Christian acts of violence like mothers and fathers murdering their families are met with judicial justice head on, we still allow deprivation of legitimate education, deprivation of necessary medical care, and theocratic conspired laws to force submission in matters of family law and women's autonomy. If it weren't for extreme groups like ISIS, Osama Bin Laden, or the Taliban, I don't know if I ever would have seen the horrifying depths we have allowed Christian extremists to dive to in the name of belief. I hear all these arguments that we are allowing too many special exceptions for Islam, and that we are inviting extreme views and practices from Muslims to start taking root. All I can say is that in order to prevent extremists, you have to enforce the boundaries of church and state. By already allowing blatant preference for Christian agendas on every level of federal, state, and even local government, you have already set the precedent for other extreme religious ideologies to have their fair place too. So at the end of the day, maybe Jeff's persistent cheerleader for Christ might take his own advice and pay more attention to the similarities between his belief system and that of every day Muslims. He ought to be grateful that the majority doesn't act as depraved as the extremist minorities in either version of God. Most importantly, maybe he ought to hold the same standard against his personal belief as he does Islam and see how the two ultimately are similar in goals, and even methods, in order to secure authority in community.
  7. "No truly dedicated human being would stay with someone that sexually abuses others." "I wasn't happy about Bill Clinton's sexual harassment charges and affairs in office either." "Why would someone wait until an abuser is running for office to come forward? It's fame. S/He wants fifteen minutes of fame." I want to address the first statement from a Trump supporter's interview on CNN earlier this week. Honestly, this one is the most difficult to deal with, not because it's horrible to think that someone would stay with anyone known to have been predatory with other human beings, but because it reveals the humanity in HRC. Yeah, I said it. She's human. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I've broken the internet. And this isn't an excuse. I'm just stating the obvious that HRC seems to try to hide or avoid discussing publicly. Not the affairs of her husband, but the rationale she employs in relationships, the motivations that drives her to make a relationship work, and why she seems so impersonal to the world about her very human experiences that would reveal her vulnerabilities. Some say her remaining with Bill was to further her political career. That could be true. It could also be true that she truly enjoys her humanitarian work (I know, there are some poor decisions that have cost lives too), and recognizes that same fact in her husband. I have little doubt they are at the minimum close friends, people. C'mon, there is a camaraderie there that can't be ignored. Also, there is definitely a passion within her to push for betterment of society and living in some sectors. We see she has chosen to make do with what she has. We employ our personal standards of rules for relationships to her life to try and understand her because she is giving us nothing to go on. And yes, I think in the public life, that is a huge flaw. True story. My father is a sexual abuser. He is an emotionally abusive man. And he would physically abuse me at times while I was a child, not just to punish me, but to release a lot of pent up frustration. My mother was unaware of his sexually abusing me, as far as I can tell, until I told her when I was sixteen years of age. She couldn't claim ignorance of his physically abusive rages as many times she would have to intervene and pull him off of me at times. She couldn't deny the tears of guilt, shame, and sadness from when he would drive her into the ground with words from his lips either. Yet, she remained. Much like Clinton, my mother doesn't discuss my father's abusive behaviors. Much like Clinton, my mother minimizes the damage done, or scuttles away the hurt with excuses about his childhood. And exactly like HRC, the veneer my mother has painstakingly shellacked over the image of her family remains spotless.....in her mind. This persistent need to not show vulnerability is exactly the chink in her armor that is glaringly obvious to everyone around her. I think HRC is aware of this, but isn't capable of processing it. If I hadn't been around this type of behavior from my own mother, I would be perplexed like the rest of America. This vulnerability doesn't make HRC incapable of leadership though. Quite the contrary, as with my own mother, HRC has many truly notable successes under her belt alongside her failures - like many of us do- though not many of us will be at such a high level of authority in our lifetimes either. Again, this is not a plea for you to vote for HRC, this is simply a perspective I take into consideration when weighing the public image versus the person away from the microphone. The next area I want to tackle is the this whole "You think Trump is bad, look at what Bill Clinton did to women while in office!" All I have to say on this matter is that it would seem to me if you were pissed you found out after Bill Clinton was elected into office the nasty things he did to women, then why aren't you glad you are finding out about it now with Trump and will be saving us millions in tax payer dollars to avoid impeachment and lawsuits? Share the same level of outrage, do not minimize the trauma of others to benefit your personal desires. To do so makes you as bad as HRC's supposedly staying with her husband to save her political career. Seriously. Pot meet kettle. If Bill's abuse of women is serious enough to never want him in office again, then why put another sexual predator in the Oval Office? And lastly, the fifteen minutes of fame argument. The problem isn't that many victims of sexual harassment and abuse wait what appears as a lifetime to come forward with their revelations. It isn't a problem that for many years they kept their suffering quietly to themselves and one day finally cracked open their scabs and let the pain come flowing out of the wounds again in public forum. The problem is that when these victims were abused, they looked in the mirror afterwards whispering over and over for many decades later,"It isn't that bad. I've seen worse." The problem is being programmed to immediately compare one's suffering to a social bar of acceptability and not personal self. The problem is we are not allowed to own our suffering in the public eye, or even have it recognized without being put on a litmus scale of public opinion. We are victims of not just our abusers, but our peers' standards of what is considered the acceptable course of action if one is victimized. Victimization knows no sexual identity, age, creed, or pain process. It is truly the most personal of all experiences in this world that can fairly be compared to no two snowflakes being exactly alike. Trauma never has a standard order of procedure. When women come forward during contested political seasons, or men reveal that they were pressured into horrible situations with upstanding community members, instead of looking at their coming out as suspicious timing, consider this: Maybe seeing their abuser's face all over every form of social media is a cruel flashback that is the catalyst they need to finally process their victimization and understand that it was THAT bad, and it is the WORST they have personally ever experienced. Which in itself, is very traumatic. Some find this realization angering, and they blast their anguish loud and clear for anyone that will hear, while others will simply file an anonymous lawsuit, wanting the public to be aware, but not wanting to have their pain politicized. At the end of the day, we all share a lot of traits with HRC. We minimize certain facts or news that disrupts our world view in an unpleasant way. We try to preserve our self image, because to not be secure in self is uncomfortable. I look at the POTUS race as a job interview for a CEO position. I care about personal life issues up to a certain point. I worry more about education, qualifications, experience, and work related professionalism. Some say HRC has been in politics far too long to effect any change, and that if she were truly going to change, then show the proof throughout her career that she has pursued change. I agree to some extent on this mindset. Career politicians will always leave me with a pessimistic attitude. My worry is that without a career politician who understands how government actually works, then that outside candidate will be completely taken advantage of by the hundreds of other politicians who know the system. If you want change, you have to change all levels of government. And to do that, you have to change the mindset of society to not act like those who are currently governing them. Maybe start with a willingness to accept standards outside your own. It is possible to accept that your standards are not the golden rule for an entire nation. I would really push to stand by unwavering empathy, and finally quit moving the goal posts to fit your views. I say it all the time. The political realm isn't a Burger King. You can't have it all your way. Find a candidate who is like you: someone who needs intimacy, empathy, and love. These traits require compromise. Make that the standard in your worldview, in your society, and you will make that a standard in government to be proud of, not a sign of weakness. You will encourage trust between government and the populace that allows for dialog. When we hold impossible standards to meet, almost to the level of saintliness that many of us abhor in the secular community, how can one expect personal honesty?
  8. The past few weeks, with the onset of Summer and seemingly aggravated like insects by climate change, many incidents of straight up assholery has permeated all manner of news. It could just be an intensely socially focused political season, but I still think we are animals in our behavior. This has been especially felt by me in the secular community, where activist networks have been tearing each other down. Yes, I realize that this isn't new, but it seems more intensified. Maybe because many involved I've actually worked with, or have networks of close friends in common. Bottom line is that this rash outbreak of everybody raging has arrived on my doorstep. I don't know if this is the Trump effect in action- considering any press good press, or if fellow writers and podcasters have just gone off the deep end the last few months with their need to reinterpret what secular, humanist, and atheist qualifications are. The amount of litmus testing made me wonder if anyone cares about being a rational family anymore. Now before I go into a much needed venting on my part regarding all the audio and written dramas lately, I need to put out a little disclaimer for the sake of those affiliated with me. Lately a bad case of "guilty by association" has been passed around too. What I speak on is my personal opinion as the Bluegrass Skeptic blogger. This isn't anything to do with my friends, family, or podcast crew members. Don't worry though, I don't need to announce there might be triggers, butt hurt, or NDA's. And feelings shouldn't be hurt with what I want to express here, unless you seriously just want a fight. I highly recommend you take yourself out of the equation for the next few paragraphs while I express my thoughts on the matter. I also don't plan to name drop. If you want free press to show off divisive behavior, this woman won't be a platform to get it. To the point of this article, these past few months we have all witnessed intensified animosities among members across many communities, but I have felt the hurt within the secular activist community most acutely. The drama of Reason Rally announcing rules for behavior and the fall out that ensued was terribly timed, as were some of the reactions by attendees to those who disagreed. My attitude at first was along the lines of allowing people to rage quit and continue on with what is planned. But then more incidents started pervading my news feed, my inbox, and chat conversations with friends and associates. Lately, I feel like someone who has to pick a side within church politics. You know, that awful scenario where a pastor's direction for the congregation leads to a split, and no matter who you side with, you know you are going to lose part of your community you cherish due to requirements for allegiance and alienation of the dissenting party. Worse, your character is assassinated during the fall out by the party you didn't side with because there is no way you should have picked the side you picked. That proverbial line in the sand in many cases leaves bystanders like myself stuck in no man's land. Fellow writers, bloggers, podcasters, activists, and listeners, this is atrocious and below our diverse secular communities standards. This type of emotional extortion for loyalty does not serve as a unifying tactic to elicit agreement or compromise. It's an exclusionary maneuver that rivals the community politics you find within the faith communities we work so hard to be a healthier alternative to. Naively, at the beginning of this article I said I wouldn't name drop, but the RFR versus Godless in Dixie debacle is a bit too infamous to cloud in anonymous naming. I mean, it is a more followed soap opera in our community than Days of Our Lives at this point. You have money, deception, betrayal, power hungry interlopers, and NDA's supposedly layered so thick, I doubt anyone in the organization remembers if they are even allowed to say their organization's name any longer. 'Cause you know, the first rule of Fight Club and all that. This situation is an upsetting issue to even bring up. I'm friends with members on both sides of the dispute, have had the depths of my allegiances questioned, have been assessed as to whether I should be allowed to remain in “the know”, and personally have been told I might be too much of a risk to keep connected within certain circles. This was very insulting, emotionally distressful, and downright wrong. I'd considered flipping that situation around completely and instead alienating all the parties involved for even attempting to elicit a choice of sides from me like that. On one side, I have an organization offering services in a desperately needed sector of secular humanism – outreach for those struggling with religious programming. Recovering from such brainwashing is seriously taken for granted in the atheist community, and RFR is putting a louder voice to this issue's need for recognition. On the other side of the table you have a very talented speaker and author who has lived through what RFR is trying to help individual's navigate: recovery after belief. GID is a positive public figure who puts in the flesh what many hide from the rest of the world. This is invaluable on so many levels for those unsure or hiding their disbelief. This is a dream union in the making, right? Apparently not. Due to financial politics, and demands for allegiance within RFR's board, their rich pool of contributors and spokes people are splitting from one another. Regardless of what one did to the other, this partnership has made personal reputation and self-defense priority over larger goals which has caused a polarization in the secular and humanist communities overall in regards to supporting either party involved. Seeing hashtags followed by team RFR or GID is upsetting. I am not waylaying the right to receive funding owed, or dismissing the demands for certain details to be kept private in order to preserve organizational credibility, but at what cost? Both sides have lost my own personal support on some levels because the bigger purpose of supporting ex-religious members has been overshadowed with cries for party allegiance. This is unacceptable. Just a head's up to those involved, I won't be promoting anyone at this point and work with another organization who is trying to do what all of you have sidelined. It is true business is as usual from the front for the most part, but the toxicity of the back office has colored my desire for product. My only advice is take the initiative, any of you in that hot mess, and hash your shit out with arbitration. Not in public postings, podcasts, or any venue where those who are not direct parties to the conflict might be exposed to it. I am not saying exposing one another's misgivings and abuses should be hidden or completely unspoken. I am saying that average consumers have little need for such exposure to inner workings and as drops in funding have shown, it's detrimental to the long term goal of your organization: helping people. When you focus on face saving, you don't save face. You don't help anyone involved, including all of us consumers out here. You just raise questions of credibility of the mission. And that makes us go elsewhere. In the public realm, even with those hanging on every non pertinent post about surprise podcast questioning to public shaming for defending one's reputation, we, the audience, do not care about personal drama. We just want to see the fruition of our support, which is effective outreach. Flame wars burn your fans more than those being targeted. And on the topic of flame wars.... This past week I was catching up on a couple podcasts (imagine actually enjoying my medical leave for a few hours!), one of which that ended with me unsubscribing, hoping to never listen again. I rarely unsubscribe from shows I have in my daily line up over difference of opinion. I count on differences because perspective helps balance out my personal perceptions. But this was more than a difference of opinion I encountered, it was straight up character assassination, under the guise of doing me, the listener, a favor by revealing who the scumbag, bullying, cool kids are in the humanist activism community. And if I didn't agree with this podcaster's determinations of people that he even declared he didn't know or wanted to know, then obviously I am part of the larger problem, being happily fed by these alleged scumbags on that which I want to hear. Essentially, my own character was being assassinated too, because by the podcaster's personal standards, I don't know what humanism truly is if I don't see things his way. Can we not go down the Atheism + path again? Don't misunderstand me, though. Like with RFR versus GID, I think you don't have to hide the issues, but presentation is important and should be thoughtfully planned. Have your differences, air them in a useful manner. When you refer to a long list of people with a long list of ad homs, focusing on how they are using their audiences, don't care about their audiences, dismiss their activism as not truly humanistic (no true Scotsman anybody?), and announce they are scumbags, and then have the audacity to brow beat the audience you claim to love if we don't share your view? You come across as a pastor emotionally bullying his congregation. Please take this kind of hypocrisy back to the church where it belongs. One friend in particular made this scumbag list of bullies that are disingenuous and fame hungry. Again, the podcaster calling out my friend said he didn't know her and didn't want to. This doesn't make logical sense in the process of rational thinking. It's not a very humanistic one either. To decide that one person's opinion on a matter should be enough to dismiss that person in his/her entirety under the guise of practice being a “true humanist” is cognitive dissonance by the podcaster's own definition of what humanism is. In the skeptic community, humanist community, and even the faith community, one would be hard pressed to not go a day without recognizing cognitive bias every half hour. We're wired that way thanks to our frontal lobe conflicting with our emotional primitive bits. Lost? Here's an example: That podcast called my show stupid. Personally attacking me like that is not cool. Here is a list I made up of people that are scumbags and bullies. (This is not a literal quote.) I understand this particular podcaster felt that other shows had different motives for success in activism. He also kept bringing up the money factor and how those who get larger amounts of money from supporters tend to drown out the small fries. Unfortunately his argumentation involved only ad hom, false cause, appeal to emotion, tu quoque, and appeals to an authority who couldn't be disclosed. There is a burden of proof to be met here for his claims. And frankly, when declaring that no true humanist would disagree with him? I felt like a personal standard of humanism was being applied to all. This podcaster was being as inflexible as the doctrine of Christ. You can't expect to be taken seriously when treating all parties involved (including your listening audience) as sheeple if they don't agree with your opinion. Anecdotal evidence does not a compelling argument make. By the end of the podcast, after being told I am contributing to a larger problem (I guess fake humanism?), that a large majority of popular skeptic activists are using me and don't care (pot meet kettle, buddy) and that humanism doesn't allow for facetiousness, disingenuity, or excessive success, I realized humanism doesn't mean what this podcaster thinks it does. Humanism doesn't need to be ruined with Atheism + standards. You don't have to be humble at all times to be a humanist. You don't have to forsake pride in what you do. You don't have to support members of your community that don't have the same standards as you, and you certainly do not have to sink to the depths of ego and personally slander those who don't agree with your standards. And most importantly you don't have to step up and be a champion of humanity at all times. And you certainly don't have to feel bad if there are certain areas of humanity you just aren't good at helping with. There are 7 billion more people in this world who are willing to help take the lead. You know what you can do though? You want to tout a badge of humanism, then stay above the levels you accuse others of instead of wallowing in it. This podcaster was rolling in the same mud puddle as the rest, but had the nerve to claim he wasn't in the mud puddle. When you add personal bias to a standard in the proverbial line in the sand, and essentially condemn people if they don't come to your side, without rationally and fairly figuring out your own biases, you aren't just alienating your community, you are living in a very padded cell of personal apologetics while rationalizing away your illogical disagreements. When you start creating poorly founded and completely unrepresented standards to be considered in your personal network, you might as well go sit in a church pew. I'm sick of these kinds of attacks among one another. Just because someone initiated it does not mean you go down to such an immature level. I watch everyday transwomen being booted out of feminist, women only groups because they aren't "women" yet in the genital department. I see leading role models like David Silverman reply caustically and without care for members who disagreed with Reason Rally's focus on LGBTQ and Trans issues, instead of being a leader and helping dissenters understand that standards have to be met to insure safety of all since even the secular community has major issues with sexism. My own friends even practically turned on me on my birthday this week. I was telling some friends of mine yesterday over a lunch of sushi that I don't mind Donald Trump. You'd thought I'd signed up for the KKK and planned to work for Westboro Baptist Church. It took no less than half an hour of knee jerk name calling, heated assurances to calm down, and a barrage of degrading word salad before these two dear friends of mine came off the edge of incredulity. No, I don't mind Trump. I find his method of campaigning fascinating. I've read up on him over the past year and colorful doesn't begin to describe this guy. But he'll never get my support or admiration. The simple fact that I didn't hate him, though, had almost turned my friends against me. Fortunately, they have a flexible appreciation for how perspective works. They admitted they don't know shit about Trump, don't want to and agreed that it's not fair to hold me to the same standards for not sharing the same vehemence against our orange faced Dr. Evil personified. Inflexibility and doctrine purity (in this case humanism) is an alienating mix. This pick me or you're an ignorant skeptic type of demand doesn't make a community unite. It doesn't encourage us to re evaluate the party being opposed, but treat the one trying to divide as suspect. How about demonstrating directly how harm was caused by these “scumbags”? Could this podcaster explain whether I can be a scum bag or not if I haven't harmed anyone? What's the standard for being a scumbag anyway? Presentation without cognitive dissonance coloring this podcaster's whine would turn the presentation in to a much needed talk about the real issue within humanity itself: hypocrisy and how much damage it causes when behaving no better than the supposedly fake podcasters you claim have attacked you. This type of behavior proves only one thing: You don't care about what you are trying to convey, or you would not duplicate the same scumbag behavior. Stop the emotional violence. Instead of being sour grapes about others' seemingly atrocious behavior fueling their success, do something about it and not treat the ones you love, the audience, like pawns in games of popularity. Personally? I want to take my ball and go home because these types of games aren't any fun. I just want my gang back, to feel part of a functional community of diverse like minded people. Differences are healthy. Disagreements do not have to divide us. Debasing one another is atrocious. Think of your family first and how compromise is a wonderful attribute to being secular. We're allowed to be flexible without surrendering our individuality, and I'll be damned if any group, or individual, will force me to conform, allow myself to be dismissed, or worse, abandon me. Family doesn't do that. Gods do.
  9. Bernie Sanders has said that: "I think the overwhelming majority of the American people know that we have got to stand together, that we're going to grow together, that we're going to survive together, and that if we start splintering, we're not going to succeed in a highly competitive international economy." Bernie supporters, I ask you this honestly. How does one affect change when even the DNC is actively splitting apart its base with supposed corrupted delegate counts like that in Nevada this past week? Is Bernie Sanders in denial of the reality that is American politics right now? Are the GOP and DNC splintering and isn't this exactly what he was calling for not even a month ago when saying major DNC party members are part of the "establishment"? How does one affect change if one fails to secure the nomination and goes to stand in support of the same problem that is being targeted by your campaign as too corrupt? You do not affect change in this manner. Bernie Sanders has a huge following within the DNC base. As it stands today, he has an estimated 42% of the raw vote count, not talking super delegates here, just popular votes among Democratic voters. The reality of the actual delegate race (which I agree is ridiculously controlled by the party) though, makes it clear he will not be getting the delegates he needs. Super delegates will not bend to support him despite the wishes of their constituency. This reality is what made me hold back my enthusiasm for Sanders since he has made it abundantly clear he will unite with Hillary Clinton when push comes to shove. I've often pointed out that Sanders, whether he realizes it or not, is a shill for Clinton's campaign. Before you quit reading this article, bristling at the way I am sounding dismissive of Sander's efforts, please understand I am not even going to approach that type of narrative. Hear me out. There is only one reason why he is a shill for Clinton's campaign: he won't break away and run independently, and he isn't holding all parties to the election process accountable (which includes the voters). He has made it clear he will support Clinton if he loses the nomination. His inevitable endorsement of her will cause some of his supporters to swing her way. These will be supporters she wouldn't have normally received as his crowd is rife with first time and disaffected voters who feel they have finally found a candidate that wants to move this country forward from corrupt government's suffocating control of the populace's will. With all the apocalypse style headlines bombarding this group, they will back Clinton out of programmed fear that the United States will regress to a pre Suffrage Movement type of government if Republicans win the general election. I'll give my thoughts on this scenario later in this article. Then you have those who self describe themselves as "Bernie or Bust" who will not cast a ballot for any candidate except Sanders. The number of voters with this mindset shouldn't be downplayed. It's nearly 25% of his supporters. Now, imagine if Bernie decided to go ahead and run independently. How many of his base would follow? I would wager more than that quarter, IF it is under the clear understanding it isn't because we want him to to become president. This is where things might seem almost anarchist on my part and maybe it is. My political atheism is going to flame brightly here, and I really believe it has some merit. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or feeling the Bern, you have to understand that we have to break our system. Let me put out a quote from George Washington's “Farewell Address to the American Nation” to frame my argument: “.....With such powerful and obvious motives to union affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands. “ This first quote states the obvious. Any individual, any group, any government, any media, any nation, that would want to purposely weaken our unity as a republic should not be trusted. Whether the motivation is to push agenda, create a better economy, or better the lives of our people, if doing so requires alienation of the other, or worse, depriving voice and freedom to decide, we have to step back and recognize this is not how we do things at all. It is obvious that creating distrust, breaking the bands that join us together, and creating future generations of apathetic citizens in our wake, is exactly what President Washington is cautioning against. It's not always about influences from outside countries. We all have heard the saying that the ones closest to us can hurt you the most. And lately, it seems that has come true. This threatens the very bedrock of our nation's founding and future. As a unified nation, it is hardly contested we get the job done the majority of the time. All corners of our country, while separated by state borders, still rely on one another. It takes all of us together, not a handful of states, to send aid to stricken countries. It takes all of us together to keep our populace safe, and protect our liberties not just from influencing powers abroad, but sadly from our self created oligarchy. To be clear, I am referring to unity as a people, not political parties. We the people, does not stand for "we the appointed bureaucrats", " we the corporate lobbyist", or "we the self appointed". Sanders, as I had quoted earlier, pretty much touches on the same idea, but not to the extent that President Washington did. At this point, his campaign should be about about splitting up the corporate lap dog that the DNC has become, and more importantly, continuing to wake up his base to the fact their consistent lack of participation enabled a lot of the political misery we are enduring today. To be American includes to be accountable, but not just holding everyone else accountable and standing clear of the consequences one helped enable to occur. This is the toxicity within our system we suffer from now, as we have essentially left all of our patriotism to be represented by parties and factions. This, again, is something that President Washington warned about, and I cannot help but share his cautioning before I go into why these parties need to be destroyed, or at the least, rendered powerless. “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.” (George Washington, Farewell Address to the American Nation) Yes, I said destroy, or at the least, render nearly powerless. I do not view parties as inherently evil, but it's plainly obvious that they cannot have the level of influence within our republic as we have allowed them to possess because parties are polarizing in the long run. I've yet to experience a party in my lifetime that doesn't utilize alienation and divisiveness among the very public of this country in order to accomplish specific agendas. This is where I've been called a social terrorist, an anarchist, and an idiotic cunt, for my views a number of times because of the short-term consequences I think we as a nation deserve to endure. Many, like myself, who favor more progressive, humanistic, invested social policies, and funding, tend to lean towards the DNC. I will admit though, I am like Sanders and remain independent, because I am well aware of the less than unifying way the party goes about pursuing a handful of interests we share. This has left me feeling dirty the last ten years when casting a vote. I know that while my ballot that is cast for a levee to support a local health program was a good vote, it was also a form agreement to other issues I don't agree with continuing to be lobbied and pursued in separating tactics among my community. I wonder sometimes if it is worth the price tag, and more and more I am thinking it is not, unless we actually change the terms of the political process. Namely, break the system. I know I am not the only one watching the run up to election day feeling that shame, frustration, and motivation to change things. Many of us have watched the political side shows that are purported as primary elections. The incidents up in Chicago, Nevada, and other primary events have us wondering who to believe anymore. In a nutshell, it is you and I, dear reader, who have assembled a Frankenstein's monster of a political system. Our previous generations of Americans more than participated in this cobbling together of political gamesmanship too. The purported incidents of voter fraud we have watched blasted across every television, radio, and social media feed the past two election cycles show this is a systemic issue. But there is something about this broken process that no citizen is owning up to. These conventions followed the rules. Sanders' campaign wanted the rules changed without following the rules to change the rules. Everyone is upset that such rules exist to begin with. That last sentence is key, by the way. Please don't focus on what Sanders did or didn't do wrong to dismiss the reality of what I am saying in that statement. All I can do is wonder how much more can Sanders' campaign be anymore polarizing? Sure, he is exposing ridiculously contrived rules designed to not exactly keep things clear and fair to the public, let alone actually reflect what the majority of the voter districts want (super delegates are a leash to control the general population's voice). Still, it cannot be ignored he is also failing to expose a bigger injustice: the failing of the citizenry to participate and understand what rules they are playing by before it comes time to elect. Bernie needs to be made great again. Pointing fingers and yelling “cheater, cheater!” isn't what makes this outspoken politician inspiring. It's his honesty, and he needs to be more honest with his supporters. Go ahead and show everyone the lopsided favoritism to be found in party politics. Expose the easily bought out politicians who offer contracts to their biggest super PAC contributors. Quit scapegoating corrupted politics and money as the only reasons why America is struggling. This nation's corruption is only a symptom of the larger issue of the electorate remaining complacent. Let me go back to splitting up the parties for a moment though. For me, politically, the DNC plays just as dirty as the GOP when it comes to facing loss of control and platform purity. Like I stated earlier, I've not seen a political party system that does not put self serving interests above congruity. Change is merely a selling point, but not an actual practice when it comes to structure and control. Only in policy making do I give the DNC higher props than the GOP, and it's barely a few points above. Seeing the foul tactics that have been purported upon the DNC base, and the GOP base for that matter, means that Sanders' true calling isn't the presidency. Yes, I said just said that. Presidency is not his calling. It's busting up the system. It's breaking the monopoly like control that is being exercised over the voting constituency. It's the chance to exercise our power above and beyond the party leashes. This is Sanders' true mission if he were serious about bringing reform to Washington. He would be much more than another spoiler like Nader was. Sanders would be an authorized catalyst brought on by the American people to wake up a party, and maybe awaken the awareness of future generations of voters, that has fallen into the abysmal practices of bureaucratic mafia politics. The idea being he would be the start of a larger movement by other public servants, and local citizens, to break a few cogs in the political two party machine that is eating up our unity to further special interest gain. Please don't misunderstand my vision here. Sanders is only a single man who isn't wearing the tweeds of unity all on his own. He gives us a face to connect with a larger ideology we all desire within our American dreams. Until the last few weeks of his struggling campaign (you can deny the mathematics all you want), he has been a speaker of thousands of voices of our disconnected population, somewhat neatly articulating what many of us want not just for our future policy wise, but also the path that requires us to travel away from the two party system that has slowly been tearing our brotherhood apart. A unity between us as a people, not politics. This is why Sanders needs to continue his campaign, and I am glad he hasn't resigned yet. I hope he finds motivation to break from the DNC if he loses the primary and continue on as a third candidate option. Could a Trump presidency be bad? Yes. Will nominations for the SCOTUS go to pot? Likely. Will women's right, feminism, racial equality, wage disparity, and healthcare get sidetracked? Quite possibly, and some of these issues will suffer more than others, even overlapping. I'm not trying to come from a position of privilege when I state this. This is something that troubles me deeply. What cost is too high for a long needed reshuffling of our political system that is already barely giving many disadvantaged minorities and workers minimal benefit anyway? That I cannot say, because I cannot speak from from one of those categories. So, what is the benefit of throwing votes to Sanders? What would his garnering enough popular votes to create a third party recognize? Or worse, what would his further damning Clinton, and the DNC agendas, accomplish, besides set backs? It sets a lifetime example of what the authority of what the American people can do to oligarchy that is overrunning their will. It demonstrates that yes, indeed, we have the power to give and take away said authority, even if it means some of us have to suffer in order to teach that lesson and help a system see we are seriously demanding it to straighten up its act. The GOP is nearly in the same boat right now with Donald Trump. I personally feel that Trump has been a very healthy disaster for the GOP in the long run. The party has lost control of its support base and is scattered within its congressional ranks thanks to Trump's securing the lead position in the nominations. Short of outright ignoring the very pronounced decision of its constituency, the GOP has zero options but to accept their agendas are about to become more moderate. Nearly a third of their party doesn't even know if they can identify as Republican anymore because of Trump's less than conservative views on many different platforms. Now it is the DNC's turn to feel the same within their ranks with a leader like Sanders to help deal just as hard of a hit. While it is true the GOP will likely come out ahead this election season (numbers are not favoring Clinton), their candidate, and a good 2/3 of their party, support his less than conservative and openly compromising style of authority. Will he be a disaster in the area of foreign affairs? I have little doubt. Thankfully, he will have a large Rolodex of cabinet options to tap, and one thing Trump has never shied from is delegation. Knowing he is in the Oval Office still makes me wince though, but we survived Reagan, right? To see party systems genuinely scattered is a valuable demonstration to the control we Americans hold over the powers that be in Congress. Instead of allowing ourselves to be bombarded with fear and propaganda about loss of guns, loss of privacy, loss of jobs, and keep allowing these parties to hold our processes at a virtual stand off for even more decades to come, we now tell them,”Here is the real apocalypse you have been worried about, Senators. You must rebuild and listen, or continue to be powerless. Even to our own short term detriment.” And that is the final piece of this article I want to end with. Short-term and long-term detriment. Short-term would only be a few years to a decade. Long-term is a generation. To make this type of commitment is to be selfless and accept that this will be a generational change, and we might not reap benefits until my own generation sees retirement, or possibly longer. Somehow our nation has been sold on the idea that change happens quickly, painlessly, consequence free, and under the leadership of one man. When you buck the system, causing necessary chaos to cause a re aligning of interests and purpose, sometimes those who are forced to restructure will purport fall out as a reason to never do such a thing again in order to stop one from realizing the long term benefit of the short term price. What we see being depicted as chaos within the party races right now is not that. It is a controlled burn, like you see with forest fires, to curb the direction of the flames engulfing the landscape. You see, we are the controlled burn. A more vivid example would be imagining a fox hunt. We are the fox, stumbling in a panic through a forest of politically charged issues that are hounding us towards the glen where we will be caught by the awaiting party line voting agenda we have been carefully chased towards. We can feel the breath of disparity on our heels chasing us. We can smell the overbearing scent of degradation. And we can hear the trumpeting blasts of potential powerlessness in our ears as we are chased to the trap waiting for us in the perceived path to safety that all these outside divisive issues are doggedly running us towards. And the first few years in that political cage seems like the right choice, until you realize it was an orchestrated path to get us there to begin with by both factions of our political system. Then the fatal bullet of complacency ends it all for us, as we refuse to realize we enabled our entrapment to begin with. We become content in that cage, forever a victim of our own refusal to take a stand and bite back. Or, our fear to handle the consequences of tearing down what we allowed to be constructed around us to begin with. Sanders brings about a need for selflessness, investment, and willingness to pay part of the price. Unfortunately, he needs to add on the price tag of what we owe as a nation and brotherhood, not only what we are owed by a construct we helped create. If he would do this, and break the system, the ensuing chaos would help put steps forward to not only end the monopoly in politics, but it would demonstrate what we have forgotten we have: authority.
  10. It's funny how many lessons we learned as children that we like to attribute to mom or dad. The respective holidays for our parents every year tends to make us all reflect a bit on their parenting skills when raising us, and it's nice to look back on thoughtful advice and recipes. You remember those heartfelt talks about life, parenting, education, or morality, and many of us out there treasure them. Some of us end up seeing those moments of advice and conversation as the bread crumbs that lead us to the players in our abusive childhoods that we didn't realize were participating in harming us. This discovery can discolor those childhood life lessons, or sometimes, make the message even stronger and more important to actually utilize. My own discovery of how much my mother participated in my abuse was not an easy one. She was always the martyr in our household; she would tolerate my father's belligerent, angry outbursts that would end with objects hurled across the house at walls and doors, verbally abusive words being shouted to tear her and I down, and sometimes his disappearing for a night or two. Seeing her constant struggle to keep him appeased gave me the impression that she was a saint. I would give her a pass when she would just lay on the couch all weekend sometimes, obviously depressed, and tell me to please "go outside and play". I would also give her a pass when she would tell me that my father would deal with me later when he got home from work. Which meant I would get the belt, and who knows what else, when she would recount the day's aggravation I had put her through. Sometimes it was just a threat, sometimes it was a malicious pay back because she understood how frightening this man was to me when angry. She knew how he easily would fly off the handle and rough me up physically beyond the normal standard of a simple swat on the rear end. Countless times she would step in while he was busy hitting me with his belt and screaming at me. "Stop, that's enough", she would say. Sometimes though, she would just stand in silence watching from the doorway to my room. So, she knew my anxiety of dealing with this man losing control while punishing me on her behalf was near torturous. But I always gave her a pass for this. I didn't understand that this behavior on her part was emotional abuse. I didn't understand that she was being a participant in the physical abuse I experienced, as well. I figured that people were supposed to lose control and give you both barrels of pain and admonishment for being a "bad" child. No one had ever said it was bad to punish your child. It never occurred to me that while the concept of punishment is okay, it's the method to punish that should be called into question. Instead, I grew up and even utilized her same mindset for a number of years: If you were bad, you got pain. And you deserved every minute of it. It took me until I was thirty-two years old to fully accept that I was the victim of not only my father's sick idea of structure and correctness, but also that my mother enabled him, not just because of codependency issues, but out of her own vicarious desires for me to be physically hurt, and purposely using him to do it. Don't get me wrong. Her blatant use of my father as a bully stick to frighten me, inflict retribution, and generally handle all the physical punishment is really just the tip of the iceberg of her terrible parenting moments. Long term, I would say that did the least amount of damage to me overall compared to the way I was programmed to respond to stressful situations and how I was taught to develop relationships. In a nutshell, she made me a rug for people to walk all over so that later I could use my pain as ammo to manipulate others to give me what I wanted. Admittedly, what I wanted from people in relationships was way below a healthy standard anyway as she didn't give me any sense of self worth, but I'm sure you all understand how martyr complexes work: one takes away the need to be responsible for life by scapegoating others as the reason for disappointment and failure. The codependency issues transferred to me too, but until the last four or five years, I was still in denial about being a victim of it, instead believing I was in total control of the abusive relationship I was currently in. Surely, I could just walk away and start over no problem. After all, I recognized the flags for codependency, and I was sure that because I was educated on what it was, and how to avoid it, then I could be in a potential situation for it and just walk away without issue. For those who have a vague idea of what codependency is, let me break it down for you. Essentially, you are in a relationship where one partner either enables or even supports the other partner's failures, immaturity, bad mental health, or even lack of responsibility. There was absolutely no way that I could ever become codependent. It couldn't happen to me. I was in control. The reality? I was codependent long before I ever left home as a child, and that is in large part thanks to my mother's own example of what a normal relationship should look like: tolerating abuse and only demanding accountability when it suited her needs. This general attitude has never wavered over the years. "If you are wronged in a relationship, you should have the advantage" was something she always demonstrated to me. Sometimes she even nearly said it outright when making statements about her relationship with my father letting me know that she could easily make it without him. I often heard this after he had angered her, was incredibly insensitive to her needs that day, and so on. But she would never since that meant she would tarnish her family image and make her readjust her priorities. She could have demanded the situation be remedied immediately to avoid future incidents. She could have insisted on a better standard of respect from my father. She could have taken control of her situation and never put herself in a relationship with an abusive partner again. Instead she stayed in for the long haul, and ultimately, I discovered that the reason why was because she wanted to be the more successful than of all her siblings, even if only in appearance. A divorce would fracture that thin veneer of superiority she had created which covered over all the cracks in her marriage. Ironically, she never instilled that desire for appearing successful in me. I was always a participant in making sure her life had that enviable sparkle, but my own future was never in the discussion. Anything I did was an enhancement for her, which is why I was never free to discuss family business if she weren't around for the conversation. This last bit of selfishness on her part is probably what ultimately saved me from going through my entire adult life being a codependent martyr at the expense of anyone I claimed to care for -- though sadly, I did end up that way for the first half of it. Her lack of desire to help form my future helped wake me up to the reality that I was doing a lot of the same things she had, but I didn't do it to look perfect to the outside world. I only did it to feel I had control, because if I had control, I had worth. And if someone wasn't willing to fight to keep you, then you weren't worth anything. Guilting my partners in order to keep them with me became a cancer to my relationship style. Even worse, due to my parents going out of their way to alienate family and friends, this guilting on my part served a double purpose: it gave me ammo to dismiss one from my life at the slightest provocation because of all the pain inflicted on me. I still struggle with that last section a lot. Emotional stress is still very difficult for me to process, so when I am attached to someone emotionally, and I perceive rejection, dissatisfaction, or any other emotional consequence from a relationship, I have an overwhelming desire to cut bait and run, and I try to bury the individual in all the fault of it. It's been a challenge, but I'm winning when it comes to recognizing that my urge to run has little to do with what the other person might be putting me through. I now have the awareness that it is my lack of ability to deal with level of stress that comes with partnerships. And point scoring is weeding out of my day to day life too. It has taken a lot of behavioral therapy to recognize when I am doing this, and I still have times I utterly fail. With all I've shared so far, it should be noted that I have nothing to do with my either of my parents. My mom took the longest to walk away from though. Like I said at the beginning of this article, it took me a long time to really comprehend the level of damage and general element of toxicity she had injected into my day to day living. Do I regret ever having had her as a mother? I do thanks to the fact that I didn't realize how damaged I was until I had already hurt my own children. So far, my kids have healed from it, but I know at least one of my children deals with codependency and martyr complex issues, and this child is floundering. I've tried to explain to my child that this misery is self-inflicted and unnecessary, that there is help out there, but right now, I can't get through. It's a horrible feeling to see a child behave this way, and I wonder how my mother was okay with seeing me do this and not want to fix it? It's a simple answer as to why: My mother used me for her own emotional gain. She might have taught me the basics of sewing, how to use a crock pot, and sang lullabies to me at night, but she also showed me how to manipulate, be unattached in relationships, and use abuse as a means to control a situation to get something I want. I think it would have been easier to Google the first three things she taught me so I would never had learned the latter and passed it on to my own children. I would rather have learned from an early age how to create positive situations where everyone I love benefit and grow, not remain within a repressive rut of failed relationships and alienated family. Now that I have reprogrammed my way of thinking to focus on bigger picture benefits, and understand that love is unconditional and selfless, I can't imagine demonstrating any other way of living. I try to live by this kind of mindset with my family, friends, and community whenever I can. The biggest benefit I discovered since walking away from my mother and programming has been that selflessness benefits everyone involved and breeds a more positive environment for success. Why would anyone want to continue living in survival mode, trying to subsist on scraps of respect and self worth? And why would one want to perpetuate this horrible cycle of relationship abuse if you know this isn't healthy? Mothering isn't about being perfect. And it certainly isn't about making that child into someone. Robert Heinlein had once written that “being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” (Have Space Suit, Will Travel). This I completely agree with. I firmly believe I didn't have a mother, but a ring master for a personal circus. There are many moms out there who are like this, and if you meet a fellow alienated orphan, give them an extra tight hug today. .
  11. Hey, kiddos! We've got the next online convention coming up on May 7th for the Atheists of Facebook Online Convention. These events are starting to really take off. We had Seth Andrews and Dan Barker on this last time. Anyway, we're starting our next casting call for May 7, and the deadline to pitch a presentation is April 8th, with announcement of who's on by April 11th. Content wise, it doesn't have to be ex-christian oriented. As long as it secular oriented, whether it be about business investment, or a skit about fallacies, travels abroad doing humanitarian missions or just putting together an outreach in your neighborhoods. Designing clothes for little heathens? Or maybe you create music, or write poetry. We want to hear about it. There are approximately 15 slots to fill. Submissions need to be sent to atheistsoffacebook@gmail.com for review. You can send a video, audio clip, or just an email, but make your pitch a good one. If you are passionate about your topic, be sure to show that. Keep it within a five minute range whether written or visual media. There isn't any major censorship other than the common rules of no genitalia, bigotry, or exploitation. There will be strict deadlines, and expectation of you vetting your material and sources. Snope that shit if you aren't sure.
  12. This is my freethink group I'm a member of. I'm conflicted with this billboard simply because our group touts refuting religious woo with science and our president Jim Helton has pretty much made the main argument that the story is immoral. This disappoints me greatly. I find it ridiculous to make an argument of morality against a religion who supports the idea that the creator is above the construct it set forth for its creation below. I'm having one of those moments where I've really got a bone to pick with my own people. I stand behind them all, as we are family, but at the same time, I really think part of the marketing for the billboard was a humongous mistake. Might be time to delve into the illusion of morality, but since the campaign has launched under the banner of Noah's story being "immoral", it's a bit late to demonstrate morality is an illusion. I think attacking the supposed "morality" of something is preposterous, especially from an atheistic stand point. Morals are man made things, and to claim a religious story is immoral is a waste of time since an appeal to tradition can be made as most apologists have done. "That's just how things were back then." Why not just focus on the fact the park celebrates genocide? That alone is more than enough. To paint it as immoral gives the opposing view point plenty room to work with and does little for the effort many are contributing to. Why not focus on the discriminatory hiring practices being protected by the state of Kentucky? Focus on the scientific impossibility and outright LIES being perpetrated as fact? In the fossil layer, worldwide, there should be mass amounts of human remains, animal remains, debris, and so much more to be found concentrated in certain epochs, and of course there is not. This would have been a mass extinction event and there is no evidence of it that has human beings involved whatsoever. The latter point being the more sound approach to attack the ark theme park, in my opinion.
  13. Going to be a fun night on political issues. The esteemed Alan M. Gold, funny man Joe Dixon, and my opinionated self will be having a discussion of the 2016 elections, issues surrounding it, and how we see the impact of the years to come with a new president from our current selection of terrible options. Catch it tonight!
  14. Bible Stories Few Read to the Bitter End, Episode 4: Lot, Biblical Proof of PT SD. Copeland and Robertson say PTSD is not biblical, but the story of Lot begs to differ. I also bring up Sarah Palin's demonizing of combat vets suffering from PTSD, and share some tips and networks if you or a loved one needs help dealing with PTSD.
  15. Newest episode is up! This week we take a look at Abraham and Sarah's open marriage when running from famine.