Friday, May 25, 2012

The View From My High Horse

A post on Facebook today made me think. It read: 

For me, it's not just one simple fact. I am an atheist because of many complicated reasons. It took 40+ years of observation and inquiry to get me to the point that I was willing to take on the burden of the label "atheist." But here are some of the results of my struggle. 

Where you see a medical miracle, I see the application of doctors' accumulated knowledge, skills and training, advances in medical technologies, and drugs that cost millions of dollars and years of meticulous clinical trials to develop. The woman in the next hospital room might not have been so fortunate. But still, I celebrate that cure with you, as it permits you to enjoy another day with your loved one.

Where you see God's mercy in having the one house in a community spared the devastation of a tornado, I see randomness and a lot of neighbors--probably just as undeserving of this lash of nature's power--who could use some help. But still, I am relieved for you. 

When you find peace, tranquility, joy and meaning in holy texts, rites, prayer and the community of your faith, your happiness brings me happiness. When it moves you to help others, YAY. I might roll up my sleeves and give you a hand.  

Where you see a chosen people, a nation blessed, personal wealth and privilege ordained by a higher power; when you interpret every impulse and desire that pops into your head as treemail from the voice of God, and every accomplishment as a divine pat on the back; when you act with the conviction that your faith will be your salvation "in the next life," no matter what you do in this one; when you expend energy to recruit others to your religion and denounce those who reject it; when myths once used to make sense of the natural world have been shown false, yet you persist in advancing them; where "divinely inspired" texts inspire you to harm others . . . 

I sense a threat to our future. 

NOT believing in a supernatural being gives me peace and tranquility. The internet gives me some semblance of a community of like-minded people, but I'd like to follow Thomas Paine's ideal: "My country is the world, and my religion is to do good." The path I am following brings me joy and meaning as long as I put some thought into my footsteps. I'll get off my high horse now and resume on foot.  

I am an atheist. You won't make sense to me if you tell me that faith doesn't require proof, but I know that that works both ways. Maybe we'll find another reason to listen to each other. Let's just move on.   

Friday, February 17, 2012

"We Are All Catholics"--NOT.

Show of hands: who likes sex? 

Now, ladies, keep your hands where they are; fellas, put your hands down and look around. Look at that! We like it too. 

Alright, ladies: keep your hands up if you also think that having sex is bad (wrong, sinful, whatever) unless the sex is with your husband and you are willing to become pregnant. Oh, look; there ARE some of you. Yes, I think I recognize you from Brother John's class; I remember his telling us that the only way a birth control pill could work is if the girl held it between her knees. Aspirin works too, I understand--plus, it's cheaper and available OTC. 

OK, then: keep your hands up if you also believe that having a vagina exempts you from various things--call them rights, liberties, privileges, freedoms, whatever. 

Like controlling whether you become pregnant. 

Like obtaining FDA-approved treatment for certain debilitating illnesses. 

Like access to low-cost health care, if you're poor. 

Like having a voice in laws that primarily impact women. 

Like NOT having a foreign body inserted in your vagina against your will. Some call it rape; others, a condition for getting a legal abortion in some states. Good thing it's not a condition for free speech, too. 

Hey, look, way there in the back: I see you with your hand still proudly raised, Sister! Wow, you really mean it, too--you've got that upright posture, stern look, thin lips, chin thrust right out. Well, I've got some good news and some bad news for you. 

The good news is that no matter who wins the GOP nomination in August, you will have a candidate on the ballot who represents you! The bad news is that he doesn't stand a chance of winning against Barack Obama in November. 

While you watch this confounding era in our nation's history play itself out, Sister, why don't you divert yourself with a good book. Let me recommend The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. 

The rest of us need to speak up about these issues. Men, that includes you, too. The "war on religion" is a Trojan horse, with women's health at stake.