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  • TheBluegrassSkeptic

    Last Goodbyes

    By TheBluegrassSkeptic

    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.
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  1. Merry Christmas!

     

    At this time of year many people will read, or will have read in their presence, the following verses:

     

    • Matthew 1:23 Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).
    • Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

     

    Matthew 1:23 is of course a quote from Isaiah 7:14. Have you ever read all of Isaiah 7 and 8? The context is fascinating! Ahaz, king of Judah, has heard that Syria and Israel are planning to join forces and attack Judah. Ahaz isn't a good king, but Jehovah isn't ready for Judah to be destroyed, so the prophet Isaiah goes to him with a message.

     

    Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but Ahaz doesn't think it's a good idea to ask God for signs. Isaiah says "He's going to give you one, anyway!" Then comes the famous prophecy. Isaiah goes on to say (verse 16) " before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted." So a child will be born and before he's old enough to know right from wrong, Syria and Israel will not even exist as kingdoms any more!

     

    But the story continues in chapter 8. There, in verses 3 and 4, we see "And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, 'Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz; for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.'"

     

    Are you familiar with this? There, right in the next chapter, the prophecy is fulfilled! But wait! Was Isaiah's wife a virgin? Are there two virgin births in the Bible? Here's where it gets tricky.

     

    I've discussed before how most of our Old Testament translations use the Masoretic Hebrew text as their source. The English Standard Version deviates from this in the case of Deuteronomy 32 because the Qumron text (aka "the Dead Sea Scrolls"), which are older, show the Septuagint (Greek language text used in the first century, which Jesus would have read from) to be correct. Well, Isaiah 7:14 is a place where every English version uses the Septuagint. The reason? That's what Matthew quoted. The actual Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 is almah,  which means "young woman" (and possibly one that has never had a child). So Isaiah's wife wasn't a virgin, she was simply a young woman!

     

    But wait again! Why, then, does Matthew say "virgin"? If you read the Wikipedia link in the last paragraph, you'll see that the Septuagint used the word parthenos, which means "virgin." But that Greek word changed meaning over time, as words do. It was probably a perfectly good word translation when the Septuagint originated, but over time the meaning changed from "young woman who has never had a child" to "virgin."

     

    So there was never a prophecy that a virgin would be with child, but by the first century the Jews read this with the new meaning of the word and thought it must be about the messiah, since no virgin had ever borne a child. Somehow they ignored the context -- all of Isaiah 7 and 8 -- which shows the prophecy to have already been fulfilled. It couldn't have been fulfilled in their view, because they knew that Isaiah "went in" to his wife.

     

    "Ah!" you say, "but what about chapter 9?"

     

    "6For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
    and the government shall be upond his shoulder,
    and his name shall be callede
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
    on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
    with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
    "

     

    This indeed seems to be speaking of a messiah who will lead Judah to become a power and to create peace forever. But keep reading:

     

    "8The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
    and it will fall on Israel;
    9and all the people will know,
    Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
    who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:
    10“The bricks have fallen,
    but we will build with dressed stones;
    the sycamores have been cut down,
    but we will put cedars in their place.”
    11But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him,
    and stirs up his enemies.
    12The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west
    devour Israel with open mouth.
    For all this his anger has not turned away,
    and his hand is stretched out still."

     

    It's still referring to the fall of Israel, only a few years from the time the sign is given. Judah was to have a messiah who would bring peace. Israel and Syria would fall, Judah would rise, and no-one would ever defeat them. Well, Israel and Syria did, indeed, disappear, but Judah never became independent, and the child born to the prophet never turned out to be a messiah. Judah became subject to Greece, then to Rome, and later (ironically, after the one Christians believe to be the messiah came) they ceased to exist, as well.

     

    Matthew 1:23 is the most foundational verse of the Gospel, the reason Christians in the first century (and today!) believed that Jesus was the messiah. (Actually, that's backwards. The story that Jesus was born of a virgin likely came about because people already believed that he was the messiah: Because they expected the messiah to be born of a virgin, a story arose about Mary and the Holy Spirit.) Yet the idea is predicated upon a word whose meaning had changed over the centuries. There is no Old Testament prophecy that the messiah would be born of a virgin... the whole foundation of Christianity is based on a mistaken belief by first century Jews. It's no wonder that today's Jews don't accept Jesus as the messiah... he doesn't fit what they find in their scriptures.

     

    Do you still believe this story is about Jesus? If so, why?

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    I just read, and really want to recommend, a post by David Madison on John Loftus' "Debunking Christianity" called The Christian Dark Ages -- Then and Now. Among the interesting insights here is the fact that during the 500 year period between the fall of the Roman empire and the end of the Dark Ages, a great deal of the knowledge accumulated by the Greeks and the Romans was literally erased and written over, and had to be re-learned hundreds of years later. The result of their following the advice to take no care for worldly things, because their Father in Heaven would take care of them (advice from Matthew 6 in the Sermon on the Mount), is that the world population plummeted:  Millions of people starved to death. Villages disappeared and large cities became mere villages. The knowledge needed to sustain the population had simply been forgotten.

     

    The "now" part of "then and now" is that belief in Satan and demon possession is on the rise. After more than 300 years of the age of Enlightenment, and 700 years of non-dark-ages preceding that, Americans especially are retreating into mythological beliefs in record numbers. Let's hope that the people who live in the real world continue to improve society's conditions despite the rejection of reason by so many.

  2. In the American Southwest lies a hypothetical college town called Reflejos, AZ.  It is a clean and quiet place only disturbed by the occasional school event.  The peace extends from corner to corner of the city with once exception, a notorious street near the downtown area ironically named Church Ave.  This area is rampant with criminal activity, drug dealers, prostitutes, gangs and has been common knowledge to the residents for decades.  If you’re a law abiding citizen, you avoid this place and no harm will come to you.  If you are a sketchier person then you’ll go there to indulge your every vice at your own peril.  A mere couple of blocks away are the town’s main attractions, the music venues, clubs, coffee shops, etc.  This downtown core has been expanding in lockstep with the growth of the college.  One day, a college girl, who we will call Rachel and her friends wandered out of this area and into the worst part of Church Ave.  Their buzzed state from the craft beer place combined with their unfamiliarity with the town led them there.  Unfortunately, they were at the wrong place at the wrong time as a shootout broke out across the street due to a botched drug deal.  One of the stray bullets hit Rachel in the chest causing her to collapse and bleed to death before help could arrive.

     

    Rachel was the quintessential young adult with potential.  She was well into medical school and was the first of her family to attend college.  She had a cute inviting look which was complimented with a loving personality.  The news quickly spread through the college and let many questions unanswered.  First and foremost, if it was common knowledge that Church Ave was a cesspool of criminal activity (much taking place in plain sight), why did the police department turn a blind eye?  Why wasn’t that issue being addressed?  Why did patrol cars seem to graze by and ignore everything?  Why was the person who fired the weapon still at large?  The students who knew Rachel were having none of this and started a #justiceforrachel campaign.  Though the power of social media this hashtag went viral and spread across the nation.  It brought into question the effectiveness of police departments in a climate when cops are already seen with suspicion.  Eventually, all of this boiled over and the Reflejos was inundated with protesters.  The protests would eventually turn violent causing property damage and would be in national news.
     

    The RPD (Reflejos Police Department) was under pressure to act.  They started an unprecedented crackdown of the street from end to end.  Tens of high profile drug dealers were arrested, prostitution rings were dismantled, and illegal weapons were confiscated.  Furthermore, the city moved to demolish abandoned buildings that were known meeting places of this criminal element.  Finally, something was being accomplished at it seemed that the area’s crime rate was plummeting.  The perpetrator of Rachel’s death was caught and charged with manslaughter. By this time though, the news cycle had moved on to something else and the moral outrage machine rolled away.  The campaign died down and the students at the college felt that they made something positive occur.

     

    Months later, a disturbing trend emerged.  Violent crime was starting to occur in quiet neighborhoods.  There were drug dealers popping up near high schools and other sensitive areas.  College students became prime targets causing an epidemic of armed robbery and muggings.  Nobody felt safe going out and the vibrant downtown area saw business plummet.  The randomness of these events is what had everyone thrown off.  Law enforcement could not keep up with the spike in the crime rate and once again, outrage built up.  You see, there was a reason why the police department ignored the happenings of Church Ave.  They knew that they did not have the resources to deal with city wide crime. They had no way of procuring extra funds or resources to do so either.  Instead they practiced a policy of containment by allowing crime to stay in one area.  There was still violent incidents, but none like after the crackdown since as I mentioned earlier, law abiding citizens knew to avoid the street.  When the police moved in the criminals scattered like rats all over the place.  Now their activity is impossible to track.  The situation is now far, far worse than it was initially.  By now nobody from the outside cares anymore, the Rachel incident has passed and people have moved on to their next crusade.

     

    The following has been a hypothetical but plausible scenario.  If you feel strong emotions when you hear this type of story then it means you’re human.  However, it seems that the masses have the emotional control of children regarding these issues.  We want instant gratification, we want to get rid of the problem now.  Solutions need to be acquired like a game of chess, you must think of your next few moves as well as those of your opponent.  Outrage culture permeates everything now fueled by social media and traditional news seeking to bolster their ratings.  If we see ourselves as skeptical, freethinkers then we must analyze the nuances of a situation and consequence of every action.  We cannot be governed solely by our feelings.

     

    For the readers, I’d like you to leave in the comment section any real life situations where an outrage driven solution made a problem worse.  I can think of a few historic examples (like prohibition) but I’m looking for what you’ve notice more recently.

  3. My new life verse: Ezekiel 23:20

     

    "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."

     

    So who says there's not great material in the Bible?!! 😂

     

    Best answer I found in a Christian (yes, Christian) questions forum:

     

    "Because man cares about genital size, and man created God in his image."

     

    Glad that got cleared up! 🐴 🙄🤯

  4. Spring is coming, and the weather was so warm this evening. 

    I had the opportunity to go play card games with some co-workers, but I passed as I was tired from two long days of work. And I wanted to come home and enjoy peaceful time outside, enjoying the above-60 degree weather. 

    I weight lifted, which I've been doing consistently the last year or so. 

    I went on a long walk with my boyfriend, enjoying the outdoorsy, open areas near our place. 

    And then I did some yoga. 

     

    I did a yoga class back in high school for a year, so I have familiar with the various poses and such. I can't recall what compelled me this past weekend, but I thought - why not try to get back into yoga? To try and train myself to find inner peace, to love myself, to build up my core and body strength? To connect mind and body? 

     

    Mind you - I'm not spiritual at all. Not one bit. Since losing Christianity, I've lost belief in god altogether and also the belief of a soul. This hasn't really helped in my search for finding "purpose" in life. If you're a fellow ex-Christian, then you probably know what I mean, the difficulty in finding purpose again. 

     

    But this yoga thing. I discovered this Youtube poster who's a yoga instructor, and I'm not sure, but the way she talks you through the exercises and workouts, she's motivated me to keep up with this new yoga habit I've started. And interestingly enough I have found my moods lifting since. 

    And my abs quite sore. 

     

    More updates on this to come. 

     

    -B. (AnonAgno94)

  5. I don't get on here very often, in fact the last time was sometime in November. Whoops!

     

    Anyway, since I have had some conversations with some of you, I thought I would share an update.

     

    Still an atheist, although I call myself an apatheist - I don't really care if God exists or not.

     

    In December, my wife left me and took my daughter with her. There are a lot of reasons why, but one of them is that the church world is all she's known since she was a pastor's wife and us losing all of our friends and connections - essentially our entire world - has taken a toll on her. We are separated but are about to start getting into talking about big issues and seeing if we can come back together.

     

    I am a mailman during the day, and by night I was working at a grocery store, but in January I was able to quit that job and have been working part time for my friend Bart Campolo, who is the humanist chaplain at the University of Cincinnati and the son of famous preacher and author Tony Campolo. I mainly produce and edit his podcast, run his social media, and update his website. His podcast is called Humanize Me, and I'm pretty proud of the work we've done on it. He has some really good conversations with people. You can find it here: https://bartcampolo.org/humanizeme 

     

    I'm doing a lot of "soul"-searching, lots of reading (working through all of the Ehrman books again), and spending time with my two cats and a bunny. Every other Sunday I help Bart put on a humanist community dinner in Cincinnati. It's been a great way to connect with people and I'm excited about the future.

  6. So. I’ve been called a „Putin apologist“ lately, by certain people in here. You know who you are, I will not mention any names.

    Let’s get some things clear here about my views on Putin and „the West“. Just as a short PSA, so that you at least can bash me for what I really think mmmmkay?

    „Putin is an autocrat / dictator / (insert your preferred label here)!!!“

    Yes he certainly isn’t a leader who supports democracy and human rights to their fullest. Not at all. I have not denied that, and I do not deny that now either. However… is that any different in „the West“? Oh yes, the repression system isn’t as drastic and in-your-face here – generally – as it is in Russia. But look your own mirror image in the eye and try to honestly tell yourself that it’s any different in our respective countries, if you really have plans that would change the system. We’re not in danger of falling victim to a Strange Accident™ normally, but when was the last time you have seen anyone promoting real change not getting fought tooth and nail by the ruling system, across all official party divides, including all the major media? Sure, normally such parties/candidates are just not talked about by the journaille, or if they are, then they are badmouthed as much as possible. But is that any different in outcome? We’re allowed to disagree on minor issues, but never on the core issues, namely the rule of the 1 %.

    Also, totalitarian or not, he is an officially elected leader. If we’re not happy with that, that’s our right. But if we want to change that, does anyone think that saber-rattling will do the job? Ever checked how much public support Putin enjoys from the Russian people? You let the tanks and bombers roll into position, you only reinforce the impression that the average Russian has of The West.

    „Putin annexed Crimea!“

    Did he?

    Annexion, last I checked, was defined as violent takeover of a region that does not agree to you marching in.

    Crimea had declared itself independent of Ukraine and invited Russia. We can certainly argue whether that declaration of independence was or was not engineered by Russia, but that’s a different question. Calling the Crimea thing an annexion is, flatly, a lie.

    Oh right, why would anyone want to leave Ukraine after what happened a few years ago? Well even western media with their obvious bias didn’t stay silent about the new regime having recruited far-right groups to support itself very fast.

    When was the last time you agreed with anyone calling bona fide nazis a group of good people?

     

    This here has become infamous over here, a screenshot from our state-owned "quality" TV. It shows one member of what the TV station called "Ukrainian freedom fighters against the Russian threat". You may notice a certain thing in that image. When called on it, the TV station said "sorry our fault"... then promptly did it again. Several times.

     

    zdf_nazis.png

    Besides, that the West started meddling in Ukraine at all leads to the following point.

    „Putin is a dangerous aggressor!!!“

    Is he?

    How many countries did Russia conquer and/or wreck since Putin got into office?

    Let’s look at the West during the same time mmmkay? Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria… these are just the ones that occur to me spontaneously. Yeah some of you will now mention Russia’s involvement in Syria. Folks, Assad officially invited Russian forces to his country. According to international law that makes the Russian forces the only foreign military that’s allowed to be there. We can certainly argue whether or not Assad is a good leader or not, but see above, he also is an officially elected leader. If we want to work to change that, fine, but we’ll have to do it in accordance with international law. Hint: Sponsoring rebel groups or bombing anyone or anything in that country is not in accordance with the law.

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

    For most of the world, yes there is a global superpower throwing its weight around and acting like it’s allowed to do anything according to „might makes right“. I point you again to the list of aggressive acts I provided above. Doesn’t look like that’s Russia does it?

    „Putin was boss of the KGB! Of course he’s an evil asshole!!!“

    He was KGB officer from 1975 to 1982. After Glasnost became a thing under Gorbachev he had a nice number of other functions, being a bona fide mayor for example. He only returned to intelligence work, kind of, as boss of Russia’s internal intelligence (the FSB) from July 1998 to August 1999. For those who don’t want to bother looking it up, that was under Yeltsin, with whom the West was always a-ok. Funny how no one ever even mentions all the other points Putin has been at during his career. That is, funny unless you look at propaganda values.

    „Putin’s a threat!!!“

    To whom?

    Ever looked at Russia’s current military spending? Or do you remember the far-beyond-desolate state the Russian army found itself in after the collapse of the Soviet regime?

    Did you know that Putin recently announced that Russia would decrease military spending soon?

    Putin’s Russia is only a military threat to those who can’t call upon NATO or other powerful allies. And that assumes that he’s planning an aggression. If Trump gets his wish and all NATO members increase their military spending, Germany alone will invest as much into new war toys per year as all of Russia. Now add to that the other NATO members, and the US with their obscene military budget. Who’s the threat here?

    By the way, after the collapse of the Soviets, a certain US official had assured Gorbachev that NATO would, literally, advance „not a single inch“ eastwards. Now look at the map and wonder how trustworthy NATO looks to the average Russian. Just sayin‘.

    russia-wants-war-look-how-close-they-put

    Yeah sure, Russia still has nukes. And if you assume that Putin is a card-carrying moron that’s certainly an option to him. Only a moron would launche those missiles knowing that his own country would end only minutes later too.

    Russia may well be a threat to certain individuals, see the Skripal case if the evidence is good (I have objected to UK’s May blaming Putin because I’ve yet to hear any strong evidence besides her „I said so!“). In such cases, of course that criminal act has to be dealt with. We have to do it right though, the proper way. Unless we no longer want to claim that we’re the Good Ones™.

     

    By the way, don't point at secret services as source of "evidence". Remember those WMDs in Iraq, which were supposedly such a threat even though no one ever found a trace of them? Or Tonkin? Northwoods? GLADIO? All that came from secret services and the like. Guess how much I trust them.

     

    And while we’re at it, yes those who spit on democracy and human right should be dealt with. However, looking at how the Western nations have acted in recent times, they definitely have no right to act as judge. You know who should hold court over that? The United fucking Nations. That’s what we have them for.

    But strangely, no one, not even the most „but we’re the good virtuous ones!!!“ Western nations, considers them much. Wonder why…

    (EDIT: Aaaaand I'll just leave this link here.

    "The best the MSM have come up with is that a St. Petersburg outfit called Internet Research Agency (IRA) placed $100,000 in ads on Facebook (compared to the $81 million Facebook ad spending by the Trump and Clinton campaigns), some of the Russian ads actually directed against Trump. As Jeffrey St. Clair pointed out in the pages of CounterPunch, in the key states where Clinton lost the election, the traditional Democrat strongholds of Michigan ($832 spent on token IRA buy ads), Pennsylvania ($300), and Wisconsin ($1,979), all but $54 of this amount was spent before the party primaries even started.

    Facebook’s vice president for advertising Rob Goldman said that in fact most of the total Russian ad buys occurred after the presidential election."

    " Even if there were genuine evidence that Russian officials had hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta emails, as originally claimed by the intelligence agencies, one should put this in context of the long history of the CIA’s efforts to overthrow many democratically elected leaders who had the temerity to stand up to the superpower. These would include Allende, Arbenz, Mossadeq, Lumumba, Chavez, Goulart, Ortega, and others. The list of US interventions in foreign elections just since 1948 (Italy) is voluminous. ")

  7. School shootings bring out all kinds of reactions. Some folks immediately seek to speak on gun rights, and how guns don't kill people, people do. Some folks focus on the murderer(s). Why would they do this? Were they sick in the head? And some only speak on the victims and the lasting emotional/physical trauma that has been inflicted.
     
    About three weeks ago, there was another mass shooting in Kentucky at Marshall County high school. This shooting came up in my office break room. I just kind of walked in on the conversation and I agreed it is ridiculous we've already had (at that time) a little over 20 mass shootings since the beginning of the year. One co worker looked away, saying,"You need to double check your sources. They're actually counting shootings with just bb guns in those numbers."
     
    I tried to explain that I only use federal numbers, but she continued on the same tangent.
     
    Look, I get it. There's a lot of bullshit news in the world today. But, if you're going to make a claim that the numbers being cited by the news from governmental reports are bogus because they are using bb gun assaults in with mass shootings, maybe think for two seconds that you might want to check YOUR information since there are multiple sources out there who track their own data. This co worker has also called gun ownership a "god given right" on several occasions. So, this is confirmation bias at play, and I'll tell you how I know this.
     
    I looked up her fucking claim.
    Image result for bullshit news
    The only source busted for padding mass shooting numbers is shootingtracker.com. Supposedly, according to this pro NRA website(http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2015/10/foghorn/shootingtracker-com-uses-pellet-guns-to-boost-mass-shooting-numbers/) that published the article she must be referring to, this shootingtracker.com site is "is maintained by a small group of rabid anti-gun activists". Okay, so much for unbiased reporting. With this allegation, I started looking for the articles that mainstream news agencies were "too lazy to do their own research, they have begun relying on advocacy websites like ShootingTracker.com". 
    Not a single msm quoted shootingtracker.com. Her website source calling bullshit? Is full of bullshit. Well, more like pandering to ease-your-conscience-about-your-right-to-kill-others-if-threatened-over-a-parking-space-at-Walmart.
     
    With that said, I know there had to be a source out there that has been quoted and people didn't bother to double check the information. And there was. There was another site that stated that this past Wednesday's school shooting in Florida was the 18th school shooting of the year. Technically, that is correct....by their standards...which are clearly stated on the website. This organization is called Everytown for Gun Safety, and they have a clearly defined parameter for what they consider a school shooting:
     
    “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.”
     
    A death does not have to occur. An injury is not required. It is simply a firearm being discharged on school grounds. One cannot say they are misleading as they have their shooting parameters clearly stated on their site for all to see. It isn't their fault the average American is too lazy a shit to bother with reading the organization's process. And that last statement includes Bernie Sanders. What a moron.
     
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    Something my coworker can't seem to get her head around is that it isn't bb guns making the statistics of mass shootings so hard to get a handle on. It's the ever changing definitions that Congress uses, which makes incidents seem even more frequent on a smaller scale. The government's meddling with definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting to manipulate numbers for their agendas is what contributes to our ever growing apathy and normalization of gun violence. How about we drop the word mass, and just evaluate gun violence as a whole in schools and other soft target venues? Instead of looking to nitpick at the count of "school shootings" or "mass shootings" this year, why not just look at how many shootings take place in schools. Does it matter if it is 24 dead at once or 24 dead over a one month period? To me, it doesn't.
     
    When did the body count in a single instance become the standard for concern? There have been a total of 30 mass shootings in the US this year. What's considered a mass shooting? Depends on the agency you go by. I go by the FBI's definition, which is:
     
    "FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter."
     
    This means of those thirty shootings, three of them were on school grounds if you bother to look up the locations where all the shootings have taken place so far. But this whole diatribe brings me back to that break room conversation. I let it ride, and didn't argue as I didn't feel it was appropriate to get political at work. I've only been there a few months now. I just assured her I check my resources, and let her feel like she had her victory of reason.
     
    Fast forward to this morning.
     
    She comes rushing into my office to apologize if she sounded dismissive the other day. I was in the midst of doing payables and was completely bewildered what she was going on about. She then starts to explain that, "With the shooting yesterday in Florida. I still think taking away guns isn't the answer. The system is broken. Mental health is neglected in this country. And I wish they would let veterans bet there as resource officers." She continued for a few minutes, very rushed and determined to shore up her earlier arguments from a few weeks ago that I hadn't given another thought. 
     
    Image result for apathetic to death
     
    It's mind blowing. She couldn't take a moment to just speak on her feelings as a parent to how tragic it must be for the victims and their parents right now. She just wanted to get into debating the politics of it. I just assured her that whether he had a gun or knife, someone was going to die that day, but we have a major systemic failure where we do not put any money into our system for prevention. She seemed disappointed that I didn't agree with her assessment that a resource officer was the answer. More "good guys" with guns. I could have drudged up the reality that where there is a gun, the chances for an incident triple. I don't think I could have gotten her to understand our culture encourages an almost Hammurabi code. An eye for an eye. A life for a life. And in today's age, rejection for a life. Your life for someone's frustration in life. 
     
    When you live in a society that glorifies a deity that supports this type of ideology, you breed this as a cultural norm until it hurts innocents. Then you scapegoat mental health issues. How much of this is mental health though? I find myself thinking if we didn't set unreal expectations on the behalf of a god like figure, and use threats of torment and failure to enforce this concept, could we have less of these incidents in our society? Our culture revolves around the idea that not only will you be punished for sin in the after life, but while you walk the earth, this god's followers are empowered to punish on his behalf. We live in a society where it is perfectly acceptable to shoot first simply for feeling your life is at stake, regardless if this is the reality of the situation. We have large groups of religious organizations who scream that an unborn child is a life and abortion is murder, but they will turn right around and support discriminating against that unborn child years later when they find out the child is gay.  Even if it is their own.
     
    And it is all justified whether by scripture or their misinterpreted analysis of what the Constitution stands for. As long as it confirms what they believe, it passes as truth. 
     
    On the other side of the table, I have been already approached with the latest school shooting being a false flag. The fact that people can say that a school filled with over 3000 students alone could pull off a fake shooting incident without anyone being the wiser...including the students involved...needs to go back under their rock of denial. Just no time for your nonsense. I'm sorry you feel the need to get your authority by dismissing the tragedy of others, but you have no real voice in the conversation unless you attend that school or have to pick up your child's body riddled with bullet wounds. 
     
    America has a culture of retribution guised as consequences, cased in brass. No amount of mental health spending, gun restrictions, or increased number of armed "good guys" will be effective until we change how we place value on punishment over solution.

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  8. I recently hit my 30s and I've realised over the last couple years a couple things have happened. Firstly, as I keep getting older the X that marks the left simply keeps moving to the left of me and secondly, not only was the X moving to the left as I stood stationary, I myself am now moving to the right of my own accord. I'm not even that old, and I feel in general I am losing touch with what's current. It continues to be a weird transition for me; to move from the "happening crowd" to the lepers on the outskirts of society.

     

    Right now I am at an interesting crossroads politically speaking. Political ideology is inherently selfish. When you're young, you tend to have nothing and policies that you give something for nothing sound very enticing. Yet, when you get older you now have something and those same policies you once liked now mean you get nothing, but something is now taken away from you. As an aside from that, I feel like as you get older your horizons tend to broaden. I know with myself personally that I once tarred all conservatives with the same brush. In essence, they're selfish, heartless and racist idiots. 

     

    Now that I've spent some time getting familiar with conservative talking points "straight from the horse's mouth" so to speak, this characterisation no longer seems fair. But (and this is a big but), I don't think those claims are completely baseless either. We all prefer to see the world as black and white, and as I get older I realise that this is just as true of me as it is others. It's easy to switch camps, it's harder to sit somewhere in the middle disagreeing with both about some points, and agreeing still on others. This is where I am currently sitting.

     

    I guess if I were to summarise my current transition, it is to say that I've moved from a big "S" socialist to a small "s" socialist. Not earth shattering I know, but I am beginning to realise that not every government solution helps the people and that a paternal hand upon society can quickly turn into a yolk. For me I care most for looking after people and care for the economy insofar as it supports the goal of looking after people. Because of this I don't ever see myself becoming a libertarian or otherwise conservative due to this inherent focus of mine, but let's see where this goes.

     

    In closing, this quote was something I came across during an interview the other day and I find it rather apt for how I feel about where I am at currently:

     

    Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and
    any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains 
  9. Shorthand version of my 2017 thus far:
    -Passed my belt test for my 1st degree black in martial arts, and am working on the Okinawan Sai form.
    -I'm working on changing my mindset for the better. This has involved some heavy time management and making time for things instead of just brooding with my thoughts.
    -I'm lining up additional physical challenges to press myself to the limits in conditioning and endurance, in an effort to be better prepared for the 2nd degree test in a year and a half.
    -My financial situation has greatly improved and stabilized.
    -My time is now being devoted to the following, in order of importance:
    1. Martial arts
    2. Kickboxing
    3. Twitch streaming
    4. Work

    Onto my new activity: Twitch streaming. For those of you that may not know about it, it is a streaming website of people who play video games. Through a good friend of mine who recommended I give it a shot, I started in May. I've had some mild success and am enjoying it. It is also helping me with the keeping my mind occupied thing. So, if you are interested in video games, comedy, general hanging out and chatting, (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG AHEAD) please give me a follow and stop in sometime at: https://www.twitch.tv/travilx

     

    My streaming times are Monday, and Friday-Sunday, usually around 6pm EST. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later.

    It is not required to sign up if you don't like (though I have made some good friends and they all stream great games). I'd enjoy the chance to hang out with you all while I play some games and sometimes fail spectacularly at them,  I am also working toward an affiliate status (where I can earn royalties from streaming, and have greater streaming options and so forth), and I need to average 3 viewers for that. Right now, I'm 2.5. Soooooooo close!

    But mainly, the twitch thing fills a social void for me. As someone who doesn't go out anymore, it is a means for me to hang out in the comfort of my own home and everyone else theirs, while we all chit chat, hang out, and just generally get some good laughs at my failures in gameplay, haha. Again, it is not required that you all do this - but it would be cool to hang out with like minded folks who enjoy video games, and fellow Ex-C'er's.

    Thus concludes your yearly update on Travi. Thanks for reading everyone!
     

  10. I've started to say this in the threads, but it's not enough, I want to dedicate a whole blog entry to it.

     

    I've started to find it increasingly insulting that Christians seriously think we just never had any idea how to be Christian the right way. That we somehow expected God to be a miracle machine or expected everything always to be perfect and then left the church for utterly selfish reasons, such as giving in to the temptation to sin. Oh yeah, we totally abandoned eternity in heaven because we want to be promiscuous and then make up reasons to not believe the truth. No, what?

     

    Really. That is SO insulting, it's revolting. I know I was extremely serious. I wanted God to guide my EACH AND EVERY STEP. I constantly prayed under my breath that he would. I worried that I would go wrong in "trying" to do something "by myself" when I wanted to be sure I had the blessing of Jesus in everything I did. I repeated and repeated in my thoughts, "Not my will but Yours". And I followed what I thought to be the voice of Jesus in my mind till my life was a complete wreck, and I woke up wanting to die right then.

     

    Yes tell me again that I just didn't understand how simple it is to be a believer.
    Yes tell me again that you would have known that the things I took for signs from God Himself were of the Devil.
    Yes tell me again that we never know what is a blessing in disguise and that every difficulty is a test from God and I just simply failed it and I just need to apologize and come back to Jesus.

     

    F*ck. I need to apologize? What the actual f*ck? That's like apologizing to someone who tried to murder me and I ran off at the last possible moment, and even then I nearly murdered myself.

     

    God promises in the Bible that the old me dies and a new one is born. I wanted that to happen. I wanted all of the old me to die. I did not care one bit about most of worldly stuff. It scared me to begin with and I thought it was a sign that I was meant to walk with God.

     

    I will not apologize for choosing life. I will not apologize for choosing life. I will not apologize for choosing LIFE.

     

    I do not mean drinking, doing drugs, humping everything that moves, and taking taking taking from everything and everyone around me. If you dare to suggest that that's what I actually do mean by "life" without a god, I will be holding myself back from hitting you. Don't you f*cking dare to tell me that.

     

    I also will not apologize for allowing myself to be angry over this. I've been much too nice all my life. I've not been able to defend myself because I thought I didn't deserve to do it, at most as a believer I thought Jesus would do it for me. The result? I am mentally very ill and need a lot of therapy, I need to learn to accept all of me, all the people I created in my head to stay alive, all the people I created to hide the emotions that I thought I wasn't allowed to have. Sadness is a sin. Anger is a sin. Just be pleasantly thankful in advance that Jesus will make everything right. Just be pleasantly thankful of your past that made you the unbelievably awesome weapon of God that you are now. Be pleasantly thankful of your past of years of bullying, illness in the family, breaking of sexual boundaries when much too young for anything sexual at all, loneliness, self-disgust, and that for some reason Jesus never did a single thing to help before a magical moment years later! NO I AM NOT THANKFUL. I also am not a survivor. I am trying to survive right now. Being alive does not mean I HAVE survived. These things still come to torture the people in my head and I need a lot more time and effort to actually heal. The day I don't get flashbacks anymore and the fear turns into just a memory, just a part in the story of my life, then I will say I have survived.

     

    Yeah pray for us. Pray, pray, pray, pray. Come tell me that Jesus "forgives" us. Come tell me that we make Jesus cry and his wounds bleed. Come tell me that we crucify Christ over and over again by not accepting his sacrifice. Come tell me that I am forgiven for all the filthy sins that I have done. Come, come, come on, do that. Yes, do that.

     

    Signed,
    Yunea - and also Nora, Meri, Cyan, Hate, Minttu, (takes deeeep breath) and some others who are too shy to give their names.

  11. I have studied many religions
    I got many good excuses. why bad things happen
    So, do other people

     

    Why was i born handicapped? you know how many people have been god awful to me because of that
    Why are children raped and killed
    why is there evil?

     

    here are the reasons i get and i think i can prove there stupidity

     

    Why was i born handicapped?

     

    1.adam and eve ate the fruit
    Why is that my problem i was not there so, i gotta be deformed cause God was dumb enough to put a tree in the garden he did not want ate from

     

    2. the devil did it
    God let him deform me..why is that

     

    3.your supposed to learn something
    What are children being molested learning?
    What am i supposed to learn?

     

    4.past life fixing
    i don't remeber any past life so how would i even fix it

     

    5.to make your strong
    reckon, that is the same reason. for kids starving to death?
    not, much strenth there

     

    The thing i really like about the child raping answer is ever answer is just horriific

     

    last time i asked why God me this way i was told i should get surgery

     

    Oh, what and ruin God's plan i should of said...
    no no no
    if we get deformed or even get cancer we should die not go to the doctor
    cause its Gods plan right?
    i mean God makes everything happen right?

     

    FUCK YOU GOD
    I am sick of you
    if you exist your sorry ass is not worth my worship

     

    Why do we got to worship you anyway
    damn, you so full of yourself you make a whole world to make praise and worship your ass
    oh, you give us free will. people say
    oh. yea free will to believe or. burn in hell
    Oh, what great love you have for us
    give us a tree we cannot eat
    roast us in hell if we don't grovel at your feet
    and then you send your son to die on a cross
    just to forgive us

     

    what a loving God...
    i get sick of giving excuses for

  12. Ellinas
    Latest Entry

    My mother died last night. Looks like she collapsed at her bedside - probably a heart attack. She was found this morning by my brother in law.

    And if one Christian acquaintance, just one, tries to tell me that my harmless old mother is now in hell, then there is a very real danger of extreme unpleasantness.

  13. You need to be slaved, and I praze GAWD that the Spook of Kryasst who is also somehow magically Him has magically convinced you of that fact! Glory! Here’s how to get slaved! Let’s walk the Romans Road together, shall we? You’ll notice that all of the following verses are from the glorious Book of Romans, which is why our journey is said to be on the metaphorical Romans Road!

     

    The first verse on the Romans Road to slavation is Romans 3:23, “For all have done shit that pisses Jesus off, and come short of the glory of Gawd.” We have all done shit that pisses Jesus off. We have all done things that are displeasing to the Holy Farter. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what the shit we do that pisses Him off looks like in our lives. The second Scripture on the Romans Road to slavation, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of doing shit that pisses Jesus off – “For the wages of doing shit that pisses Jesus off is death; but the magical gift of Gawd is a second magical eternal life after this one is over through Jesus Kryasst our Lord.” The punishment that we have earned for doing shit that pisses the Magic Sky Man off is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death! Without Jesus, not only will your physical body die, but your inner spook (the real you) will die too!

     

    The third verse on the Romans road to slavation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off, “but the magical gift of Gawd is a second magical eternal life after this one is over through Jesus Kryasst our Lord.” Romans 5:8 declares, “But Gawd demonstrates how He made love to us from the Sky Kingdom, in that while we were still doing shit that pisses Him off, Kryasst sacrificed Himself to Himself for us.” Jesus Kryasst died for us! Jesus’ death magically paid the price to the Sky Him for doing shit that pisses Him off. Jesus’ magical undeadening proves that Gawd the Holy Farter accepted Jesus’ sacrifice to the Him up there in the Sky as the payment for doing shit that pisses Him off.

     

    The fourth stop on the Romans road to slavation is Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lard, and believe in your heart that Gawd magically undeadened Him, you will be slaved.” Because of Jesus’ sacrifice to the Sky Him on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His sacrifice to the Sky Him as the payment for doing shit that pisses Him off – and we will be slaved! Romans 10:13 says it again, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lard will be slaved.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our having done shit that pisses Him off and rescue us from Himself and the loving flaming torture chamber. Slavation, the forgiveness of having done shit that pissed Him off, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Kryasst as their Lard and Slaver.

     

    The final aspect of the Romans road to slavation is the results of slavation. Romans 5:1 has this glorious message, “Therefore, since we have been justified through magical thinking, we have peace with Gawd through our Lard Jesus Kryasst.” Through Jesus Kryasst we can have a magical relationship of peace with the Holy Sky Farter. Romans 8:1 teaches us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who participate in the Sky Magic™ of Kryasst Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ sacrifice to the Sky Him on our behalf, we will never be condemned for doing shit that pisses Him off. Finally, we have this previous promise of Gawd from Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither friendly spooks nor evil spooks, neither the present nor the future, nor any magical powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all the magical creation, will be able to separate us from the absurd love of Gawd that is in Kryasst Jesus our Lard.”

     

    Would you like to follow the Romans road to slavation? If so, here is a simple prayer you can say. Saying this prayer is a way to declare to Gawd that you are relying on Jesus Kryasst for your slavation. The words themselves will not slave you. Only magical thinking and blind faith in the glorious bullshit about Jesus Kryasst can provide slavation! Say this prayer right now. The Magic Sky Man will hear you and He will slave you and seal your slavation with the version of Himself known as the Holy Spook! Glory!

     

    O Magic Sky Farter, I know that I have broken your laws and the shit I have done that pisses you off has separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from that shit and stop doing shit that pisses you off. Please forgive me, and help me avoid pissing you off again. I believe that your son who is also somehow magically you, Jesus Kryasst, died for the shit I did that pissed you off, was magically undeadened, is alive and living in the sky, and hears me talking to myself. I invite Jesus to become the Lard of my life, to rule and reign in my farts from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spook to magically help me do shit that pleases You, and to do Your kind of shit for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I talk to myself, Amen. Glory!

     

    Congratulations! You just got slaved! Now, don’t let the Talking Snake take away your joy! He’ll try to tell you that your slavation isn’t real, that it’s just an emotional thing or that the Gospel, the glorious bullshit about Kryasst, is actually bullshit, but don’t believe him! You’ve put your trust in Kryasst! Rejoice at your victory over the Talking Snake! That talking animal no longer rules your life! Your new Lard is Kryasst, the Magic Sky Man! Glory to GAWD!!

     

    It’s important to share your newfound blind faith with someone right away so that Gawd knows you are serious about your decision to get slaved and start living not for yourself or for the Talking Snake, but for HIM, your new Invisible Friend up there in the Sky! Please let me know about your Sky Decision for Kryasst and I’ll rejoice and glory with you in your slavation! I praze GAWD for magically leading you to this site and this very page you are reading so that you could hear the Gospel and get slaved! GLORY!!

  14. *This is an edited and expanded version of my "Free Hate Speech" topic, which is why they're similar in parts. I'm going to post it on my regular blog, not affiliated with Ex-C. Your comments are appreciated!

     

    **Much thanks to RealityCheck for editing suggestions.

     

    As concern for the humane treatment of LGBT individuals grows in modern Western society, freedom of speech and expression are often perceived to conflict with sensitivity toward this group of people. On June 12, the deadliest mass shooting in American history took 49 lives and wounded 53 other victims in a gay bar, yet has opened the door to a discussion about the appropriate response to people who celebrate national tragedies. Pastor Steven L. Anderson posted a video to YouTube saying that it least it was "sodomites" and "pedophiles" who died. He said that he does not support civilian killing of gay people because it is against the law, but that they should be executed by the government "through the proper channels." YouTube has removed Anderson's video for violating its policy against hate speech.

     

    Here is YouTube's "Hate Speech" policy: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801964?hl=en&ref_topic=2803176 Notice that it claims YouTube supports freedom of speech, including generally disliked opinions, but immediately states that "hate speech" is not allowed. The Constitution prohibits the government from restricting freedom of speech, except when that speech directly threatens others or poses a threat to their safety, i.e., is a "clear and present danger." Legally, YouTube is entitled to make and enforce its own policies, but by removing videos based on their ideas, it violates the principle of allowing freedom of expression. Preaching the murder of gay people was once acceptable in American culture, while advocating for sexual equality was seen as disgraceful. Attacking words, not actions, sets a precedent for prosecuting thought crimes and whatever we subjectively find harmful.

     

    The argument can be made that Anderson poses a danger by supporting violence against gays, that homophobic people may be incited by his vitriolic comments to begin carrying out murders as the Orlando shooter did. It is true that this may happen, but nevertheless, Anderson is not responsible for others' actions, and idly claiming that certain people should be killed is not equivalent to actively planning and executing the killings.

     

    Prejudice doesn't need censorship to be brought down; in a rational society, a bigot will be reduced to a small, sad pile of bitterness when the majority of people agree that his opinion doesn't merit consideration. The Westboro Baptist Church is a prime example: When they protested American soldiers' funerals and shouted their signature line, "God hates fags," they advertised themselves as hateful and made their name synonymous with everything that decent people despise. By deleting Anderson's video, YouTube is protecting him from himself.

     

    Despite its malevolent origin, intolerance serves as a warning. When we know which people want to harm us, we know who is dangerous. We need to stay alert to what is happening around us, not shut our eyes and plug our ears and then wonder what went wrong when people end up dead. If we squander every chance to prepare ourselves for an attack, we will be to blame when we never saw it coming.

     

    Silencing Anderson will not make him stop having his opinion. It won't change the minds of people who think like he does or of people who actually plan to kill gays. But it will make him and others feel they are being persecuted, cause them to become even more determined to hang on to their bigoted beliefs, and feed on each other's sense of victimization. Furthermore, trying to destroy expression of an opinion shows fear of that person's belief. Are we going to respond to evil people by not only making them unite, but by showing them we fear them? That is how people like Anderson and the Orlando shooter gain control.

     

    But the fundamental reason not to deny an individual's right to expression is that it undermines the freedom that is central to our society. When someone shows meanness, rather than muzzling him, we should respond with the opposite of his actions. Donate blood, volunteer at a shelter for gay homeless children, even write a letter to Steven Anderson expressing hope that he changes his mind, rather than returning the contempt that he spews. For a nation that values each person's autonomy, the only response to liberty being taken away is to liberate others.

     

    In the aftermath of one of America's worst terror attacks, constraint is an ally of violence. We need to have faith that compassion, not censorship, can beat hatred.

  15. Tonight I feel pretty alone, in one sense. I love my wife and she loves me, we have an extremely close relationship and we get along very well. But I am saddened that we are on different pages about religion. she listens to a lot of radio preachers almost every day. They speak of stuff that I just don't believe in any more, and I'm never going back. My eyes have been opened and I can't accept all that religious nonsense any more.
    I still go to church with her, and I am friendly with the people at church, but there is this whole realm of exciting stuff that I can't talk about to most people about. For instance, I just listened to this video today:


    I found it very interesting and would love to discuss it with the people at church, but it challenges the "inerrancy" history of the Bible. It would just distress them.
    Stephen
  16. Debunking Christianity is an interesting thing to attempt to do. On one hand, it's kind of easy because there is so much information out there. If there were only a few discrepancies contained in the Bible, or a few inconsistencies, it would take some time to dig them out. But that's not the case. The Bible is filled with errors. On the other hand, it's difficult because as I continue to research and see for myself some of these discrepancies, I find myself having to stop and reflect. This is due to a couple of reasons:

    1. Some of what I'm researching and learning are things I really should have known. I was involved in a program when I was in high school, where we learned whole books of the Bible and quizzed over them. I have memorized tons of Scripture. You would think that in doing so I would have caught on to some of the differences between the Gospels, for example. But most of this stuff I had no idea.

    2. As I look through this information, I wonder why this stuff wasn't taught in college, and why we gloss over the inconsistencies and errors when we preach and teach the Bible. I can only think of it in two ways: either, like me, church leaders just don't know that the things we preach about are coming from passages and books of the Bible that are not accurate; or most leaders, preachers and professors are willfully deceiving people. After all, if word gets out that there is no way that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, people are going to panic and freak out and lose their faith. Which means those who are in powerful positions in churches will lose power and prestige. And there won't be anyone around to pay for their salaries.

    It's kind of like how I see Mormonism. I have studied this cult rather extensively. If you research the history of how Mormonism started; if you look at the life of its founder, Joseph Smith; and if you actually discover what they truly believe, you find out that what the people in the pews know about Mormonism, and what the overall leaders know about Mormonism, are completely different. When I talk to the average Mormon, what they say they believe sounds very similar to what I would have considered as Christianity. Except for the polygamy and not having caffeine, minor issues. But when you find out that their "god" was on another planet, and that there are millions of gods, and that we were all spirit babies born on earth, and that our goal is to populate our own planet with other spirit babies - well, it starts to sound like horseshit, doesn't it?

    Anyway, today I want to briefly look at the New Testament. In fact, I think that most of this blog will be directed at the NT, although I may reference the Old Testament and if I continue on down the road, perhaps there will be time to do the OT as well.

    Ready for some shocking information? Ok, here we start.

    The New Testament contains 27 different books. The first four books are what we call the Gospels, or "good news" about Jesus. These were allegedly written by two disciples (Matthew and John), a friend of Peter (Mark), and a traveling companion of Paul (Luke). The next book tells the story about the disciples after Jesus left earth, and it's called the Acts of the Apostles (or Acts for short). Then you have a bunch of collected letters. Most of them are claimed to be written by the apostle Paul, who was not an original disciple of Jesus but became an apostle after Jesus left the earth through a vision on the road to Damascus. Some of these letters are written to churches, some are written to friends. You also have letters supposedly written by the apostle Peter, by James the brother of Jesus, by Jude, also the brother of Jesus, and by someone named John. At the end of the NT is the book of Revelation, also written by someone named John, which is a letter to churches in Asia Minor and deals mostly with persecution and although some people would say differently, was supposed to encourage the Christians of that day that God wins in the end. (As opposed to those who pore over this book and apply modern technology to the things that John was writing about to show that the world is ending soon.)

    Ready for the shocker? Out of the 27 books in the NT, there are only 8 of them that most biblical scholars believe were actually written by either who the book said within who it was written by, or who other people ascribe the authorship to. That's less than a third of them! Here are the books that except for some fringe scholars, the consensus is that they were written by the actual authors:

    Romans (Paul)
    1 Corinthians (Paul)
    2 Corinthians (Paul)
    Galatians (Paul)
    Philippians (Paul)
    1 Thessalonians (Paul)
    Philemon (Paul)
    Revelation (John, although some question if it was John the brother of James)

    This means that most scholars would say that none of the gospels were written by those who they are ascribed to.

    This means that some of these books were written later than what was thought and by people who claimed to be the author but weren't.

    I don't know about you, but the implications are HUGE. Those who would rather shut their brain off might not necessarily be affected by this news, because they might think (or feel) that it doesn't matter that these books weren't written by the people they thought they were written by; they still had a lot of good things to say.

    However, I can't accept that. I hope you can't either. There are major implications that you just have to start sorting through. Things like:

    - how can we trust that we have anything correct when it comes to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, since the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses to these events, nor even friends of eyewitnesses?

    - how can we apply some of the theology and orthopraxy contained within the letters of the NT, when most of them are written by unknown sources, and who definitely had other agendas besides "writing down what God said to them."

    - how can we continue to ignore the differences in gospel accounts when we now have good reasons to understand why they are so different?

    - how can one accept the entire Bible, or even just the entire NT, as the "Word of God?" Should we do what Thomas Jefferson did (although he did his with cutting out anything that talked about miraculous events in the gospels) and only pay attention to the books of the NT that we mostly know were written by the right people at the time they said they did?

    We have a lot to go through, my friend. Let me close this blog post with something from Bart Ehrman. Although I am using research from many different sources, I like Ehrman a lot because he writes in a way that is easy to understand, and although he is an agnostic, he was a Christian for most of his life and is at least sympathetic towards the Bible and Christians in general. He says that the nineteen books that aren't written by the authors ascribed to them fall under three groups:

    1. Misattributed writings

    These are the books of the New Testament that tradition has said were written by an author that clearly did not write it. An example would be the book of Hebrews. There is unsurmountable evidence that even though Paul has been associated as the author of this book, there is no way he was the one who wrote it. Because within Hebrews itself there is no reference to the author, Paul was misattributed as the author.

    2. Homonymous writings

    This just means that the author of a certain book of the New Testament has the same name as someone who we would normally think of as the author. For example, James was a very common name back in those times; therefore a man named James could have written the book, however most scholars believe it was not the James who was Jesus' brother and a leader in the church of Jerusalem.

    3. Pseudepigraphic writings

    This means that some of the books of the New Testament were written in the names of people who didn't write them. Basically, these books are forgeries.

    In my next blog post, I will talk about Ehrman's ten reasons as to why ancient writers would produce forgeries and then we will start getting into specific authorship of the questioned books of the New Testament.

  17. game-of-thrones-quotes-07.jpg

     


    At the coaxing of friends and my fiancé, I’ve begun watching the hit series Game of Thrones. It’s intriguing, fascinating, complex and deliciously reckless. Essentially, the plots are all intertwined culminating around families who are all striving to be kings and queens of various territories. It’s magnificently written and brilliantly acted, which could be why it’s so popular across all age groups. But, what exactly is it about this series that has captured so many people’s attention for the past five years since it first aired?

     

    As I sat last night, watching season two come to a close, it dawned on me that perhaps in the west, we just don’t have a sense of what it means to honor much of anything, anymore. We have passion and drive, but not the type of passion and drive our ancestors had many moons ago, when fighting for their freedoms, or the right to vote because it was so paramount to their very existence. It would seem that what we fight about these days, deals with political correctness and trying not of offend someone. I can’t imagine waking each day, having to pledge an allegiance to a particular king or queen, or I’d be liable for treason and potentially put to death. I can’t imagine having to marry a man I barely know, as to carry on my family’s good name and reputation. I can’t imagine having such little freedom as a woman, centuries ago, and most likely I would have been beaten and tossed aside like garbage, if I didn’t perform my wifely ‘duties.’ Yes, we still have everyday struggles, but not those kinds of struggles, thankfully.

     

    Despite the violence, cruelty and disregard for human life that is illustrated throughout Game of Thrones, it has captivated us for some reason. What reason is that? I’m thinking it’s because the characters of this series didn’t live entitled lives. They had to fight for what they had, and even if they were given a kingdom passed down from generation to generation, they still found themselves having to defend it. It wasn’t like today, where we elect Presidents, and they remain in power for four years at a time. There weren’t ‘terms’ back then, rather anyone could overthrow the king, and take the kingdom as his own, if he had enough strength, and a powerful enough army backing him.

     

    So, would you die to defend your honor? To defend your family’s honor? To defend your siblings, or your significant other? What is honor and is it worth fighting for, in and of itself? Would you protect your family at all costs, even if it meant hurting those outside of your family?

     

    These are questions I find myself asking as I watch the various characters come and go from the series, and I’m only on season three! Lol It is by far, one of the most riveting series I’ve ever watched, and for me at least, it enthralls me because my life looks nothing like it. And yet, the characters all struggle with the very same things we do, today – family strife, gossip, slander, libel, war, famine, depression, feeling unwanted, power struggles, politics, and so on. The only difference, today… we don’t carry swords, but instead…carry guns. Each character is complicated, and as the story unfolds, you realize that for some of them, their ruthlessness makes sense. Not excusable, but makes sense. Humankind hasn’t changed much over the centuries, we are still quite selfish and self-seeking, and this show depicts a raw savage nature that seems to exist in all of us, perhaps. The desire to survive, and for some, at all costs.

     

    April 24th begins season 6 and I’m on season three, now. The plot thickens as the feuds continue, secrets mount, promises get broken, and new alliances form. Not unlike the world in which we live today…well, just without the White Walkers. sleep.png

     

     

     


    Game-of-Thrones-metal.jpg?fit=750%2C1000

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    What is Ignosticism? Well as it turns out that's a mildly ironic question.

     

    So there's Atheism, which is non-belief and/or positive reinforcement of the proposition that there is no deity/ies.

     

    Then there's Agnosticism, which is certainty that there is no evidence for or against deity/ies, with two common variants being a strong and weak Agnosticism, where weak believes there may be evidence for one or the other at some point, and strong Agnosticism being certain in uncertainty of the deity question.

     

    Theism is then the belief in deity/ies.

     

    And so there seems to be a general understanding that the god question is itself valid and mutually understood and that therefore under these terms and conditions, a genuine debate on the merits of one view or another is possible.

     

    Right?

     

    Ignosticism says no, not quite. With the word/s "deity/ies" there is an accepted definition attached to such term. This term is then used in the questioning of the belief in the god/s proposition. But is this term truly understood in the capacity it must be understood in so as to allow the debate on the merit of belief in the existence of the being the term defines? Or is this term fraught with such failures and misunderstandings and the impossibility of even basic definition that a meaningful debate is therefore impossible, and therefore any proposition concerning deity/ies also equally fallacious?

     

    Ignostics would answer, the term god is difficult. Let's begin by looking at how Merriam-Webster defines it...

     


    • God : the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe

    • : a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people : one of various spirits or beings worshipped in some religions

    • : a person and especially a man who is greatly loved or admired


    Okay now let's look at the first definition of the term "God." It consists of perfection and being all-powerful, and as a creator of the material reality we by definition all agree to recognize as such.

     

    Perfection is a tricky term altogether as well.

     

    Full Definition of perfection
    1
    : the quality or state of being perfect: as
    a : freedom from fault or defect : flawlessness
    b : maturity
    c : the quality or state of being saintly
    2
    a : an exemplification of supreme excellence
    b : an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence
    3
    : the act or process of perfecting


    Which perfection are we talking about? This gets even more tricky when you look at all-powerful...

     

    Full Definition of almighty
    1
    often capitalized : having absolute power over all <Almighty God>
    2
    a : relatively unlimited in power <an almighty board of directors>
    b : having or regarded as having great power or importance <the almighty dollar>
    3
    : mighty —used as an intensive <an almighty shock>


    Once again, which definition will we be using, and why?

     

    Full Definition of creator
    : one that creates usually by bringing something new or original into being; especially capitalized : god 1


    Okay. Now we're getting somewhere. But let's assume by the first (and not only) definition of "god." If perfection is inherent, then we need a more precise definition of perfection. What makes something perfect? (This is a debate you'd have to have with Aristotle and Plato)

     

    And if this being (is it a being, or is it something else entirely?) is perfect, and all powerful, then what restrains it's almighty powers from creating or maintaining perfection or saintliness? And the material reality that is the core of the assumption also needs examination. There is a whole academic debate between Idealists and Materialists that have gone on for eons. But let's assume the more Materialist perspective and assume Natural Laws govern reality and that this reality is both material and immanent. Then how can a perfect being spawn something new, an aberration, if it is already perfect. Was it not a perfect being before reality came into being? And if it maintains almighty powers then would it not necessitate a perfect world? If not is the being perfect? If it restrains its powers then how can it be perfectly powerful?

     

    See what Ignostics are saying? It is almost pointless to even have a debate on the deity/ies question because the terms used to frame it are problematic, and by their very nature and the philosophies surrounding it all, always will be. Even theologians have difficulty with the terms and definitions and usage.

     

    Ignosticism isn't belief or nonbelief or uncertainty of belief. It is certainty in the inability of language to convey the proper terms necessary to even have the question and the debate resulting from said question.

     

    sources:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/creator
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/almighty
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perfection
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god

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    I finally figured out how blog posts work, so I guess I'll start it off with an introspective post about my past year.

     

    2014 was really hopeless for me, I had to drop out of school completely and was pushing towards saving up so I could move out of my parents house. I'm not out to my parents, and I don't mean religiously, they know about that. I mean actually out to them as a gay guy. It was a really, really stressful time for me. I wanted to be able to figure things out for myself more but was so afraid to push it because I was worried they would find out if I was too obvious. My dad is getting more southern by the day, and honestly I am terrified of every coming out to him.
    By the beginning of 2015 I was in a decent job, and all I did was work. For the first half of the year all I did was wash dogs, muck out kennels and deal with my super temperamental boss. I wasn't planning on moving until December, but in January I realized how depressed I was getting.

     

    I'd always told myself I would go back to therapy if I was suicidal. I didn't this year, we had too little money and the only ones around were the religious ones I had seen previously. When I was on campus, I had been seeing a therapist who worked there. It was free, and he was also the head of the LGBT department. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have solidified a lot of stuff about my gender and sexuality. But I wasn't allowed to see him anymore once I left school. I ended up just throwing myself into my work even more to cope, and hung on to moving in August or July as desperately as I could.

     

    I finally planned on moving as early in July as I could so I could find a job by August (I moved to a college town, and that's when all the students would be back by). I put off telling my dad as long as I could, because he didn't want me to move in with the people I moved in with. Which hurt, a lot. They weren't terrible people, I've known them for years. But my friend is a lesbian and her brother is a single guy, both of which my parents were 100% not down with me moving in with. My dad told me my parents wouldn't be supporting me at all, which I had already figured and was the main reason I was saving so aggressively.
    It wasn't until the week before I moved that my mom told me (casually in conversation as though we'd already talked about it) that it also meant my family wouldn't be visiting me. As much grief as my family has caused me, I still love them dearly. Especially my siblings. It tore me apart and I cried the whole morning while I worked. I hadn't even been able to discuss it with my mom because when she dropped me off at work she had started crying about me moving and I'd had to comfort her.
    That was really the final nail in the coffin for my good relationship with my family. We've spent the rest of the year trying to fix it, but it's still a patchwork and will never be what it was.

     

    When I finally moved, it was such a relief. I got a job about a month after I landed and I've had it since then. It's slow sometimes and I don't get all the hours I need, but I've been able to improve as an artist enough to help out some during those times. I love my friends, and I love my apartment, and I honestly love my job.

     

    I have plans to start beauty school, which aren't going exactly to plan, but I'm still getting there.

     

    2015 was exhausting. I don't think I've ever worked that hard in my life. I've cried so much over the last year, but I'm finally somewhere I'm happy. I even got to see an old friend at the end of the year, and just had to say goodbye today. 2015 was very, very full and painful. But it got me so many good places by the end. I intend on working just as hard in 2016. I'm starting school, working towards something that I want more than anything I've ever wanted, and I might even have chances to feature my art publicly. I'm sure I'll cry a lot more this year, but I cry about everything. I'm really looking forward to where things will go.

  18. 2015 was an interesting year, chalked full of rich lessons, memories, and life changing moments for me. I am pretty surprised at the large amount of things happening in the short time span of 1 year. This is definitely not a year I will forget.

     

    One main thing I learned was putting self-care as my top priority. I tend to worry what others think or I lean towards people pleasing, due to my past conditioning. But this year especially...I have truly learned the value of caring for myself. I fell face-first into moments where I wasn't practicing good self care, neglecting my own needs in favor of others...and there were moments where I took ownership as the Queen of my Life, nurturing myself like a mother would for her child. I have to be caring for myself at all times. What is right for me might not be right to other people, but that's their opinion and it's their choice to have it. I don't need to let it effect me.

     

    I learned the value and importance of being aware of the present moment, and how practicing mindfulness skills can drastically improve moments of stress/anxiety. Taking a moment to stop, and observe your surroundings, or to take in the scent in the air, or to listen to the wind blowing the tree branches, etc...just being aware of the present moment, can bring peace and clarity of mind.

     

    So many other things I learned this year..I'll list them

    1. Not jumping into a relationship with high expectations
    2. Having a plan B in case a current situation falls through
    3. Giving myself credit for how strong I am and how far I've come
    4. Embracing who I am, and loving myself, inside and out
    5. Accepting the fact that the healing process takes time, and I must take advantage of tough times to grow from them, and come out a stronger person.
    6. Coming to acceptance of every element of my life, including the unpleasant ones.
    7. Seeing each day as a celebration of life, another chance to enjoy it somehow.
    8. The art of acceptance in general...not trying to fight away the things I can't change
    9. Not settling with people or situations that cause me to feel like I'm less
    10. Taking a risk for my own happiness
    11. Being ok with it when I make mistakes, or take a couple steps backwards, or mess up.
    12. Patience. Kind of ties in with #5


    Self care was still the top one I learned. I already knew this...but this year it hit me like a baseball bat the seriously heavy value of caring for myself. The issues I struggle with, they all kind of tie in together...I'm a perfectionist, sometimes I get defensive when someone tells me I've done something wrong (even if I know theyre just trying to help, it's my habitual reaction), I worry what others will think or are thinking of me, I want to please people, I avoid confrontation at all costs until it's no longer a choice, generalized anxiety..etc. It all ties in with caring too much for other people, and not enough for myself. I need to establish a more level balance, which is one of my goals for this year.

     

    I want to get my liscense and car this year, and I've found a couple people who offered to help me practice (once the weather quits being shit). I also want to break my bad habits, one at a time. I want to start journaling again, to write about my progress and to just get things off my chest. Finally, I want to finish my poetry book and publish it, and find a way to get my music into studio recordings so I could sell albums, and play live shows.

     

    Now It's no guarantee that all of these things will happen this year, but I'm realizing how short life is. Every day is a new opportunity to do something great...and many of us just live our lives wasting away, dancing the same weekly dance and repeating the same routines. Life is so much more than that, and I realize how much I could have done with all the time I've wasted. I seriously want to seize every opportunity to enjoy my life, to do things I've never done, to learn new things, and appreciate the little things...like taking a walk on a brisk sunny day.

     

    I'm ready to quit fretting so much and to focus on my goals and self care, so I can truly experience inner happiness with myself, and life all around me. I'm ready to take the steps I need to care for myself better, to go after the goals I've had for many years, and to simply BE. To BE myself and to take advantage of this gift called life, focused on the present...One day, one hour at a time. Moving forward. The only time I will look back will be when I see how far I've come from there.

     

    It might just be me,...but I have a feeling that this year will be much different than the last. I've went through some major transitions, took in some intense lessons, and now I'm eager to apply them to my life...and to truly grow from my hardships and become stronger.

     

    I'm thankful for my mother and my family and friends who have been rooting me on, including you guys. Many of you have heard part of my story, things I've battled and went through, and it means a lot that you simply showed your care and support. I show my care and support for you all too..and may this year be a good one!

     

    To new beginnings!

  19. During my hiatus I've begun to regularly consume a certain herb of questionable legal status. I was sitting in the storage area underneath my residence, smoking a bowl in the dimly lit area with only my new puppy for company. I had some chill EDM tunes playing on my phone. It was a quiet night on the plains, a little chilly in the unheated underbelly of a relic. Wrapped in my jacket, preparing for lift off...

     

    I realized how insignificant humanity is. Now I can't turn that realization off. We think that we are so freakin' special, each and every one of us this wonderfully unique creation. They tell us that in church, they tell us that in school, and those of us that grew up during the era of the self-esteem cult can never escape it. Until one day when we reach terminal velocity and crash through the ceilings of our own minds. Blast through the lowest orbit like a SpaceX rocket and smash the expectations of this boring Earthbound existence of all mortal beings.

     

    Picture it! This world all a dream! What we see isn't real and what we feel is all lies! We are led around by our desires and we deny it. I saw it and now I'm sick. Mentally unwound. Oh, sure...it all seems so glorious to pull at the strings of the carefully woven tapestry that attaches us to the realities that we know. But let me tell you, it's not so much fun as it is sobering. Once you really realize how fragile it all is and how much of life is thinly veiled bullshit controlled by faraway string-pullers, it kills you.

     

    In some deep way that I can't touch, I'm already dead. Just like Jesus. I can't understand why people follow a dead guy. A murder victim. Isn't there someone out there who's alive, who survived? 2000 years and we're still talking about a guy who died and supposedly came back to life only to ascend to a plane of existence that we can't verify yet we trust? I don't think that people throughout time were idiots or anything. Just that they were forced to pledge alligience to a dead guy to avoid their own deaths.

     

    Coerced belief never lasts. I think there's a genetic component to belief resistance that takes awhile to be bred out. Early adapters build persuasive but exclusive cults with elaborate traditions that only those that are born into the faith can understand. I've always found Judaism to be an interesting case because only Jewish women can give birth to Jewish children, even sons. If you read the OT, you see that is what is behind the subjugation of women and why the OT guys were so hung up on virgins, purity, idols, etc.

     

    I suppose that's why I don't understand the fascination that some people have with being Jewish like Jesus. You can't technically become Jewish. You have to be born Jewish. Female converts to Judaism can have Jewish children, but stopping short of conversion means that you aren't Jewish and therefore, your children aren't Jewish either. Yet they want to claim that they are "truly Jewish" and all that.

     

    Of course, I've always been technically minded. That is why faith is such an issue for me. It's not that I can't entertain fantastical ideas, it's that I can usually find faults with said fantasties. Whatever gets you through the day, I guess, but I'd rather explore my own depths than seek an intimate relationship with a dead guy.

     

    This is the first part of a rambling rant that I wrote in my "relaxation time" journal recently. I thought that maybe this would resonate with some people in the ex-c community. No idea why my mind turned to faith. I don't focus too much on my lack of belief or whatever these days...

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    So today I once again attempted to find where my mom hid my birth certificate and SSN card. She had mentioned that she had it all together for when we would go to get my passport. I know it has to be somewhere. So, I often go hunting for it when my mom is off somewhere. I often find stuff like drawings, crafts, school assignment, papers, and progress reports from preschool. This stuff eats me up. I feel really guilty for want to leave and rebelling against my family's wishes. I know I need to press forward but, it just eats me up.

     


    I'd like to think my mother has two sides to her. One side, is a scary wave of anger that breaks me down to nothing. The second is a mother bear who ferociously protects her young. I do know she loves me to death and when I leave it will break her heart. I know she loves me because I am a stranger's child and she chose to adopt me. Her insistence of me having a conservative faith is evidence she loves me. Even if it's hell for me.

     


    Being an atheist makes me realize that life is a precious commodity. I still need to get out of here before it's too late. I can't spend another minute trapped in a place that renders me mute and frightened.

     

    She would be likely enraged if she found out I was on a site like this.

     

    She will be likely enraged when I ask her for my papers.

     

    I'll ask anyway.

     

    If she doesn't give them to me I will get certified copies.

     

    This will enrage her.

     

    I'll do it anyway.

  20. Avandris
    Latest Entry

    I am going through a restless period that has lasted the better part of a few months now. There are so many things that I want to be doing with my time and yet more often than not I find myself staring idly at a computer screen, occupying my time with pointless videos or video games that feel like little more than busy work. Another day passes, I go to bed and tell myself that I'm going to do better tomorrow, but the same things happens and the weeks pass.

     

    To be fair, I have started a new job. It's part time, I work from home and my hours are flexible, but I suppose it has taken a good portion of my focus and energy. Still I feel that I am wasting time, allowing days and weeks and months to slip by when I could be doing more, achieving more.

     

    I have so many books on Christianity and Atheism that are sitting waiting for me to read, and I want to read them. I want to devour that knowledge, to take notes, to build a foundation for what I accept to be true and equip myself with evidence should I need to defend my position. And I expect that I will have to defend my position when I finally come to a decision as to how to break it to my family and friends that I am no longer a believer.

     

    Every morning I catch my reflection in the mirror and I despair at the amount of weight that I've allowed myself to gain. I stare back at a face with dark circles under the eyes and complexion that could be a great deal clearer and wonder why I take such little care of myself. At the beginning of every month I promise myself that I'm going to get into a routine, I'm going to exercise regularly and eat better, I'm going to work on being healthier. Yet halfway through the week I find myself gorging on chocolate and drinking soda, my exercise streak petering off after four or five days.

     

    I have reading I want to do in preparation for my Masters that I start in September. I've wanted to learn sign language for years now, to teach myself to draw, to expand my social circle. There is so much I want to do and achieve, yet I have achieved none of these things.

     

    I'm reminded of a Bible verse:

     

    'I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.' - Romans 7:15

     

    Strange that it would be a Bible verse that comes to me right now, or perhaps it is not so strange. However, the honest truth is that there is no god to save me from this 'body that is subject to death', I'm going to have to haul myself out of this trench myself. One way or another.

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    Castiel233
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    Charles Bradlaugh was an English atheist of the 19th century. In fact he could perhaps be considered THE English atheist of his time. He stormed across the UK, a giant of the free thought movement. Clever, brave with a large heart and a mind as strong as steel, he caused despair and worry among the faithful.

     

    His knowledge of the Bible was deep and profound. He had the ability to show just how error riddled it was and would debate those claiming to follow it in front of very large and spell bound crowds.

     

    Although he has laid in his grave the past 124 years, his example of a superstition free life has had a tremendous and positive effect on my own, and I remain grateful for the sacrifices he made and the challenges he had to fight to overcome to make this life, just that little bit better