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Cousin Ricky

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Everything posted by Cousin Ricky

  1. Some time ago, I heard a podcast about Toilet Jesus. The churchgoers did not appreciate the new information, and the church demanded a public apology from the investigator! After threats of violence from the parishioners, the investigator had to flee the country. P.S. No doubt some Muslims have been extremely violent in recent years, but lest anyone tell you that this is peculiarly characteristic of Islam, remember that Christians can and will be just as violent when the social conditions allow. Recall that even in the USA, where Christianity has been mostly defanged, P.Z. Myers got death threats from good Catholics for “desecrating” a cracker.
  2. “The truth will set you free.” —John 8:32b “But first, it will piss you off.” —various attributions
  3. In light of Mark’s final letter, perhaps the cosmos will someday have a new perspective on itself from his atoms.
  4. My 15 year old goddaughter is now on Facebook. The tricky part is I don’t know whether or not she knows of my apostasy, and last time I talked to her mom (my sister) about it, she didn’t know either. But I do not hide my atheism on Facebook, so if my goddaughter hasn’t figured it out by now, she will soon. Her mom doesn’t seem concerned about the situation. In fact, she seriously considered having her meet me in South Carolina for the solar eclipse—where I was attending the American Atheists national convention. So my nervousness is probably all for nothing.
  5. I don’t hurt for adults. But I hurt inside when I see a child being indoctrinated into the irrational. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all of them that I see.
  6. Seriously? They expect non-JWs to pay for being harassed?
  7. I tell them, “Hi, sis! Hi, DBIL!” Tell the truth. You’re an ex-Christian, been there, done that, not interested. However they respond, it’ll be easier to deal with than having to make up responses concordant with whatever you’re pretending to be.
  8. I also know who this is (and no, I won't name him). I will not unfriend him for two reasons: first, because I don't unfriend people over differences of opinion, and second, because he sounds like he really needs friends. He knows where he's been, and I'm not about to try to interfere with his path in life. And his newfound happiness with his new church notwithstanding, he is going through very difficult times right now. As for his preaching posts, I do what I do with the preaching posts from my other Christian friends: ignore most of them. But there is one other relapse whom I felt a bond with, but for whom I feel less compassion. She came out at an event connected to the 2012 Reason Rally, which was my first experience among a large number of atheists. I was in the audience when she came out, and I related to what she said at the podium. A year later, I attended a dinner, and she sat next to me at the table. This one I will name: she is Teresa MacBain. After the way she came out, leaving her congregation in the lurch (and lying to the secular community about her status there); the way she manipulated the Clergy Project into giving her a position; lying on her résumé about her education; and returning to Christianity without notifying the Clergy Project (a security risk for a confidential organization); I don't know why anyone would trust her today.
  9. Having no face-to-face non-believing community in my very religious locale. What can I do about it? I wish I knew; I get feedback from quite a few horses, but none of them want to drink.
  10. Some of you may know that I experienced 2 category 5 hurricanes this past September. As you can imagine, most people in this highly religious region went full Stockholm, and simply will not quit gushing about how good their god is. For the most part, I can only grin and bear it, as they are private expressions protected by the First Amendment to the USA Constitution. But when I spotted a First Amendment violation on the front page of the local paper, I had to respond. When the public schools finally reopened, the local paper published a front page photo of a public school principal and assistant principal leading their students in prayer. There was no commentary on how illegal this was. I’d lodge a legal complaint, but I lack standing. One hopes some parent will notice their child’s rights being violated, and feel that taking action will be worth the potential blowback. Meanwhile, I wrote a letter to the editor. A photo of the letter is attached; a description is below: A letter to the editor, with a partially clipped photograph. (The newspaper is the Virgin Islands Daily News, October 19, 2017 edition.) Caption of partially clipped photograph: “Daily News file photo by BILL KISER “Assistant Principal Michelle Wilkinson, left, and acting principal Merlene Jones, lead students, teachers and parents in prayer at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School on the opening day of school Oct. 10 on St. Thomas.” Headline: “Disaster is no excuse for violating the law” Text of the letter: “The front page of the Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, edition of the Daily News shows a photo of Assistant Principal Michelle Wilkinson and acting principal Merlene Jones of Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School leading the students in prayer. “Boschulte Middle School is a public school, and as an arm of the government, it is required by the 1st and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution to remain neutral in religious matters. “What the principal and assistant principal did is flagrantly illegal under U.S. law. “If school officials wish to pray in the privacy of their offices, they may do so. If students wish to pray on their own, they are guaranteed that right under the First Amendment. They may even pray as a group, so long as they do it on their own, as some stateside public school students to with their “See you at the pole” events. But school officials, as representatives of the government, are not allowed to lead such gatherings. “I understand that in times of difficulty, many people turn to their gods for comfort, strength, or assistance. But just as with the anarchy on the roads of St. Thomas, disaster is not a license to break the law. And both driving and praying can be done without breaking the law. “If you are wondering What Would Jesus Do, then please read Matthew 6:5-6. “ — Richard Callwood III, St. Thomas” Up till now, atheists[1] in the VI have shown no inkling to organize. I'm hoping all the god talk in the aftermath of the storms will change that. Unless we speak up, the theists, especially the Christians, will continue to take these violations for granted. As it stands, they don’t perceive us atheists as real people; to them, we are just abstractions. [1]In this paragraph, I’m speaking for the subset of ex-Christians who no longer believe in any god. The rest of the post relates to everyone, though.
  11. From the album: Cousin Ricky’s Album

    A letter to the editor, with a partially clipped photograph. (The newspaper is the Virgin Islands Daily News, October 19, 2017 edition.) Caption of partially clipped photograph: “Daily News file photo by BILL KISER “Assistant Principal Michelle Wilkinson, left, and acting principal Merlene Jones, lead students, teachers and parents in prayer at Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School on the opening day of school Oct. 10 on St. Thomas.” Headline: “Disaster is no excuse for violating the law” Text of the letter: “The front page of the Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, edition of the Daily News shows a photo of Assistant Principal Michelle Wilkinson and acting principal Merlene Jones of Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School leading the students in prayer. “Boschulte Middle School is a public school, and as an arm of the government, it is required by the 1st and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution to remain neutral in religious matters. “What the principal and assistant principal did is flagrantly illegal under U.S. law. “If school officials wish to pray in the privacy of their offices, they may do so. If students wish to pray on their own, they are guaranteed that right under the First Amendment. They may even pray as a group, so long as they do it on their own, as some stateside public school students to with their “See you at the pole” events. But school officials, as representatives of the government, are not allowed to lead such gatherings. “I understand that in times of difficulty, many people turn to their gods for comfort, strength, or assistance. But just as with the anarchy on the roads of St. Thomas, disaster is not a license to break the law. And both driving and praying can be done without breaking the law. “If you are wondering What Would Jesus Do, then please read Matthew 6:5-6. “ — Richard Callwood III, St. Thomas”
  12. I'm pretty sure that depends on the denomination and on the congregation. I once joined a Christian (Catholic in the West Indies) men's group, and most of the talk was about how we men had abdicated our role as the Manly Man in our (heterosexual, of course) relationships.
  13. My thoughts? I’m not sure. Maturity demands that adults not break down every time something sad happens, but bottling up our emotions is unhealthy. I grew up in the Caribbean, where machismo rules, with a father who had some strict, though not necessarily predictable ideas on gender roles. For him, it was perfectly fine for girls to take shop class and boys to do dishes; on the other hand, he blew his stack if he spied us boys idly twirling our hair around a finger. (He perceived it as trying to style our hair like a girl, and literally called us sissies.) Most important of all, boys don’t cry. Ever. Period. “STOP CRYING, OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!!!” This, while he was already whipping us. I could never understand how he could expect us to stop crying when he was the one causing us to cry in the first place, and then tried to get us to stop crying by doubling down on what caused us to cry. I finally stopped crying at age 15. I was tearing up for some reason I don’t remember, and my father spotted it. He then pounded the shit out of me, bare knuckled. That cured me, though I didn’t realize at the time that the cure was worse than the “disease.” I was 21 years old, watching the movie The Neverending Story, when it dawned on me that there is something seriously wrong with the dictate that men should not cry. I was in my early 30s, in counseling for clinical depression, before I learned than suppression of my sad emotions had fucked me up royally. That shit doesn’t go away just because you put on a brave face. Oh, and that my father is an imperfect human being who almost surely had a role in fucking me up. Heck, having the shit beat out of me at the slightest mystery provocation was perfectly normal to me; I thought it was the proper way to raise children. My father has lamented that his type of “discipline” would be considered child abuse nowadays. I was in my 40s before I finally realized, yes, it sure as hell was child abuse. Meanwhile, when I am sad, I either tear up slightly, or I have a complete meltdown. There is no in between. Sad stories cause me to tear up, arguments with my brothers cause the meltdowns, and I don’t cry at all at weddings and funerals.
  14. No, they're moderate Catholics, but they are very devout.
  15. Interesting. I will not bow my head, but I will hold hands. And just how would they know that they're being looked at? Of course, I never elect to say the prayer, but one Christmas my mom actually ambushed me. And yes, she knows that I don't believe. Refusing to indulge her passive-aggressive stunt, I ad libbed a secular invocation, but after I finished, my father made it a point to say a Christian prayer.
  16. And I actually believed them when they said that Catholic ethics is based on the dignity of the human person. Who'da thunk the Roman Catholic Church would actually say things about itself that weren't true? (Beside the rape victims, that is?) Scientific discoveries? My faith could withstand all that. Evolution? Genesis is a parable, not to be taken literally. (C'mon, we all know snakes can't talk.) Big bang? A Catholic priest discovered that one. NDEs debunked? There's always some way to rethink the afterlife. It was the moral WTFs that put my faith into a tailspin, and this would fit right into that category.
  17. Apologetics is so easy when you can just make shit up about God on the fly.
  18. If it's consensual, the Vatican has no trouble making a big show of shutting it down.
  19. I became a godfather to my niece 2003, while convinced it would spur me to strengthen my faith. You all know how that turned out. My sister knows about my apostasy. I do not consider myself released from that vow, and neither does my sister (that debate is closed, BTW), so I walk the tightrope as best I can. One thing I decided to do was take my niece on an eclipse trip this year. I had originally planned to go to Wyoming, where skies are likely to be clear, but those plans fell through. I had a backup plan, but I was pretty certain my sister would not approve of the venue: it is the American Atheist convention in North Charleston, South Carolina. My wonderful sister continues to surprise me! She said it would be no problem meeting me in South Carolina, although of course my niece would not attend the convention itself. Here’s the tricky part: my sister doesn’t know whether or not her daughter knows about me. I made a point to tell my sister because I had made a vow, and didn’t want her to find out through the grape vine. However, I don’t know how to approach the topic with my niece, or whether I even should. My sister actually questioned whether I should make it a big deal, which got me thinking. One bit of advice I’ve heard often is not to make a big deal about coming out; however that advice is usually given in the context of coming out to one’s parents. I did mention that there were two occasions over the years when I wore an atheist T-shirt in my niece’s presence. My sister said then she probably already knows, because she’s very observant. She did say that she’s nonchalant about other people’s faiths, which I thought made sense, considering that she’s a post-millennial Western child who is not being raised fundamentalist. They just arrived in town today. By coincidence, so did my confirmation gift to my niece. (Damn 4th class postal shipping. It was the only shipping option the vendor gave me. Her confirmation was in May.) It’s a Buybull, of course—a Catholic youth study Buybull to be specific. It’s a grownup translation (NRSV): I will not tolerate my goddaughter’s mind being polluted by some bowdlerized children’s edition, and you all are free to speculate on what ulterior motives I might have. But it has study notes throughout, which I think is important if you’re going to take that piece of shit seriously.
  20. I've also been diagnosed with clinical depression, although I had depression long before I deconverted. I have been suicidal, and I have been in therapy sessions and support groups where other members were suicidal, and I can tell you one thing: when you have depression, your brain lies to you. It tells you that things are hopeless, that life is not worth living, and that your situation will never change. Remembering that my brain was lying to me is part of what got me through the suicidal episode. The other part was thinking of how devastating my suicide would be to my loved ones. I've been in support groups where one of the members was convinced that her family would be happier if she died!—but this was also the depression talking. I am hoping that your family's abandonment was done out of a misguided interpretation of love, and that they do not actually want you to die or go to hell. I have been lucky. Although I do not have a brick-and-mortar non-believing community where I live, my family and friends have not abandoned me, so I cannot give you specific advice on that front. Nevertheless, I do miss the community afforded by church, and I think it would be helpful if you can find a non-believer group in your area. I'm sorry I did not see this thread when you first posted. Please post and tell us you are OK!
  21. The psychologist who coined this term often posts in the blog. If you can make it out to the Bay Area of California, she holds occasional workshops there.
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