Remember my Christian Kitsch contest a few years back? Good times. The outcry about the gift shop at the National September 11th Memorial Museum reminded me of those good times. After looking at the products (see the link) that the museum gift shop offered, I was left going, “That wasn’t so horrifying. They could have sold products way more tasteless than that.” Off the top of my head, how about BBQ charcoal briquettes shaped like the World Trade Center towers? Now that’s tasteless.
This got me thinking (which is rare indeed), what are tasteless September 11th items? So I found this article, 9/11 Memorial Merchandising: Where Should We Draw the Line? The truly tacky items in this article, as far as I can tell, are not in the National September 11th Memorial Museum gift shop.
Somewhat tangentially, I’ve heard of this interesting item. While I wouldn’t describe it as tacky or tasteless exactly, neither would I want it at the memorial museum.
So, should I make this a contest? What’s the tasteless-est 9/11 product out there? And should I be shocked that there is a market for tacky tasteless 9/11 memorabilia?
New atheist bio. I’m going to try to post more often again. Motherhood and lack of optimism have gotten in my way.
“Hello. My name is Joyce. I’m 45 years old and consider myself a recovering Catholic. I read the article about the priest who left the priesthood and is now atheist. Reading
his story helped make me feel so alone with the guilt of not being the perfect Catholic the way my parents especially my Mom raised me to be. As a child I enjoyed Mass and felt a deep love for Christ. As I grew older that’s when all the dogma set in. I was told if a person missed Mass on Sunday and weren’t sick it was considered a mortal sin. That meant if I happened to die without receiving absolution my soul would go to hell. It was a very rigid upbringing. As I grew older I felt I could never measure up to the church’s doctrine. My Mom told me if she used any form of birth control besides the approved method of the Church which was called the rhythm system, she could not receive holy communion. As an adult I knew birth control was the responsible thing to do when married. The love of Christ, slowly faded and the worry of committing a mortal sin overwhelmed me. So I pulled away.
Since then both parents have died. It was a relief not having to measure up to my mother’s expectations of me any more though I miss her deeply.
Recently I have been educating myself in science. Attending Catholic schools we were not taught anything about evolution. Basically we learned about the solar system and God created it. I have read so much. What I have come to find is that all religions are basically the same. A copying mechanism for man to deal with the debilitating awareness of death. Back before man had scientific explanations I can see why they created a supernatural being to explain natural phenomena. During this time science has proven so much. Evolution is fact. There are many believers even fanatics that insist creation is the truth based on faith only. How the believers stay close minded is the fear that if they don’t accept Jesus as their savior and he died on the cross so that sins would be forgiven they will not be ‘saved’ and go to hell. Fear is a powerful force. It’s alive and well!
I don’t and cannot understand why a loving forgiving God would require a blood sacrifice for sins to be forgiven? All those innocent lambs and then the final sacrifice is God’s own son? Suffering a horrible crucifixion? That isn’t love. That’s just sick. Why not simply just forgive? If an all knowing God made us, he would know our human weakness? He set us up for failure.
I cannot understand the reason behind this? An logical person would say this is insane!
The reality is man wrote this and fabricated the story. It reflects the rituals of that time. If it were to happen today, it would be consider a sick and dangerous cult. No question about it.
The difficult part is feeling the need during difficult times to want to belong to a loving church for emotional support. When I look back on my life, it wasn’t my faith that got me through, it was the love of my family and close friend. So in reality would you agree that the religious whom find strength in their faith are really doing the work themselves and using their faith as a crutch. In reality, God, god’s, angels and saints are imaginary beings. The only difference is that I am looking at life realistically. We are born and we die. No afterlife, no heaven, no hell( thank God lol).
People say faith is what gets people through crisis. Can’t a person find that inner strength from within?”
Sarah again here. What I want to say to Joyce is I’m sorry about losing your parents. Having never lost someone before, I can’t say that lack of faith in religion would support me, but clearly you found that you didn’t need religion to get through your grief. I think many people, even some atheists, would say that the best thing about religion is that it supports people during the loss of a loved one (“Mom isn’t really gone. She’s in heaven.”). I personally see religion as a double-edged sword during times of grief, but you are living proof that it’s possible to grieve in a healthy manner without faith.
I realize this is old news, but I heard about this months ago on NPR and it really bugged me:
In Phoenix, A New Quest For Diverse Public Pool Lifeguards
One of my favorite comments to this article was: “Just who I want to save my butt when I’m drowning or having trouble is some kid who isn’t a strong swimmer. I ALMOST hope one of their graduates fails at saving someone to show how stupid this ‘quota’ system is. Give the job to the best QUALIFIED person to apply.”
I my own self commented:
“I agree with the other comments. NPR should not be showing sympathy to kids who are ‘uncomfortable’ with lifeguards who are of a different race. This is racism, plain and simple, and NPR is complaining that these kids will not learn how to swim because the lifeguards are white. In catering to the kids’ alleged
‘need’ for same-race lifeguards, you are simply perpetuating racism. How would you like it if I said that I only wanted to swim in a pool that had Jewish lifeguards? You’d think I was pretty sick.”
I don’t know why this keeps preying on my mind since it doesn’t affect me (I’m not a lifeguard, don’t live in Phoenix, etc.). Ordinarily, I like NPR, so the fact that I disagree so much with the tone of the article feels funny.
This isn’t even the only example out there of political correctness trumping reality. (As I like to say, would you rather be politically correct or actually correct?) Anyone out there know why this is such a bee in my bonnet?
I have a lot to say to the Phoenicians whose idea this “reverse racism” lifeguard thing is, but I think I’ll sign off for now:)
After re-reading my bible, The Tightwad Gazette, I realized I could buy yeast in bulk for a fraction of the price of those little envelopes. Since I make pizza fairly often, and occasionally other bread, I thought this was worth looking into.
First, I looked at yp.com for health food stores to find out if any of them sold yeast in bulk. I was frustrated (yet somewhat amused) that the results turned up vitamin stores and weight loss clinics, which I think of as neither health nor food. Ditto a search on natural food stores. A couple of the places that were actual health food stores I called and they did not sell yeast in bulk.
So, I googled yeast in bulk and found it on Amazon. I figured it would be worth it to pay shipping and handling if the savings were significant enough. Not only were the savings significant, but by buying 4 lbs of yeast, I could bring my purchase high enough to qualify for free shipping.
The yeast I usually buy is $1.69 for three envelopes of .75 oz each. According to the Hannaford site, this is $36.11 per pound (I never did the math before).
Compare this to the yeast I found and purchased on Amazon (I am not getting plugs for this or any other consumer info I might put on this blog). It is 4 lbs for $27.85, or $6.96/lb.
That is quite a difference! And, like I said, the shipping and handling was free, but even if I had to pay the $7 or whatever, I’d still be saving money.
I was worried about buying that much yeast at once, but according to the product’s page, it keeps a long time, and it got many excellent reviews.
As always, author Amy Dacyczyn knows what she’s talking about.
A reminder that, when grocery shopping, always compare “per unit” costs, which are often available in the pricing information. When I discovered that, it changed my life. Well, my shopping life, anyway.
I read a really interesting book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Its author, Stephen Pinker, is, like yours truly, a Jewish atheist.
There is a lot of interesting stuff in the book, but I wanted to mention something that relates to what I myself am struggling with: the truth about Islam and whether or not Islam itself is a problem. When I ask about this, people accuse me of bigotry (and usually of racism, which makes me cross since Islam is not a race). At any rate, here’s what Dr. Pinker has to say, and I think it sums it up:
“The impression that the Muslim world indulges kinds of violence that the West has outgrown is not a symptom of Islamophobia or Orientalism but is borne out by the numbers. Though a fifth of the world’s population is Muslim, and about a quarter of the world’s countries have a Muslim majority, more than half the armed conflicts in 2008 embroiled Muslim countries or insurgencies. Muslim groups held two thirds of the slots on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations…”
And that doesn’t include what I might refer to as “peacetime” violence, such as stoning to death for adultery, honor killings, amputation for theft, female genital mutilation, etc.
Hello Atheisterinos and others,
First, what I’m reading now (or technically just finished reading). Killer Stuff and Tons of Money by Maureen Stanton, which I found out about when the author came to speak about the book at my local library. Since I love antiques, flea markets, etc., this was pretty interesting. All the same, I’m glad I don’t try to make my living dealing with antiques and whatnot, since it sounds quite difficult. The early morning schedules alone would do me in. All this is getting me excited about going to the Brimfield antique and flea market, which I’ve gone to three times already.
I have a thing for antiques (not usually “fine” antiques, but more in the way of things you can actually live with that aren’t too expensive) and today took my baby, Jessica, to a new-to-me place in Manchester, New Hampshire, MillCity Antiques and Consignment. I am not getting kickbacks for saying this, but what a great place! I loved everything I saw so much, I think I want to move in. I especially loved the industrial items. Is it me, or is “industrial chic” a thing now? When did that happen?
When Jessica learns to talk, it’s just a matter of time before she complains about me dragging her to all these places.
On a completely different note, I’ve never been all that interested in celebrity gossip, but I like to gawk at the pictures of stars without their make-up, like these. Maybe it makes me feel superior for a few minutes or maybe it’s just schadenfreude to see the mighty fall. Of course, it’s possible that these photos are doctored to make the stars less attractive for my entertainment purposes.
All that aside, though, where are the men? You just know that guys like Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan look like corpses without their make-up. I realize that physical attractiveness is a more important attribute in a woman, but surely it counts for something in men with these careers. So come on, paparazzi– don’t be sexist. How does Brad Pitt look when he rolls out of bed?
I haven’t written in a while mostly due to what I might euphemistically call a re-examination of my writing career. On a happier note, I’m a mother now to a wonderful 5 month old girl, Jessica. Parenting is just as great as everyone says. I don’t think the word “love” even captures the way I feel about Jessica.
For years, people with kids have been throwing back at me, “You’re not a parent, so you can’t possibly understand.” I’m here to say that now I have a kid, too, and I still don’t understand whatever crazy, stupid or whatever thing they did. I’m still the same person with the same sensibilities. I also still agree with whichever comedian (I can’t remember if it was Bill Maher) in that one doesn’t have to have kids to make a judgment call. He said that he didn’t have a goldfish, either, but would know not to fill its bowl with Pepsi.
So now that I’ve passed a human being out of my body and am learning parenthood on the job, let me tell the parents in question that I still call foul on the things I criticized, such as putting a leash on your toddler or relenting to your kid’s demand for an all junk-food diet. I still think you’re wrong.
Besides, other parents, there will always be some difference between us that you will throw back at me, such as, “Sarah, you only have one kid– you can’t possibly know what it’s like to have eight” or, “Sarah, you only have a girl, you couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to have a boy” to replace your earlier damnation that I’m not a parent, so I couldn’t possibly understand. I’ll never be enough, right?
I have nothing really interesting to say about having attended the Reason Rally (I’m sure everything has already been said by people much better than me), but I wanted to air something that kinda bugged me on a completely different topic.
I came across the book, The IT Girl’s Guide to Becoming an Excel Diva. I sarcastically thought to myself, “I bet this has to do with buying designer shoes,” and son of a bitch, it did, according to the copy on the back.
I know this isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I found it pretty offensive that female stereotypes are perpetuated like this, especially in this day and age. The stereotype goes that women have a very finite and shallow set of interests, especially expensive ones like fashion and especially shoes. It’s something you see fairly often. You’d think it’s offensive enough not to get past the publisher.
I complained to my BFF Karl, who is a man and, while I wouldn’t really call him a feminist, is all-in-all very modern thinking when it comes to sexism. His response was that since there really are women like the book was describing, it wasn’t offensive. After all, the market is only supplying the demand.
True enough, but I still thought that perpetuation of such sexism crossed a line. Suppose that the book was selling racism, not sexism and you’ll better see my point of view. Can you imagine a book called, let’s say, “Excel for Cool Blacks”? What if its copy was about bling and rap music? See what I mean?
What do youse think?
In the category of Questions I am Too Lazy to Research, I don’t understand how the third world produces so many children. When I ask this question, people misunderstand me. I understand that birth control may not be available to women (or men) in poor countries, and that women may be under enormous social pressure to reproduce, but that’s not what I’m getting at.
Poor countries have a high fertility rate (as in how many children a woman bears). In fact, this is a measure of how poor a country is. They also have short doubling rates, meaning it takes a short period of time, compared to wealthy nations, for the population to double.
My question is this: how can allegedly starving women produce to many children? After all, you can’t really get pregnant and produce living offspring if you are malnourished, and in turn those children can’t survive long enough to contribute to a high doubling rate.
And if these women really are well-nourished enough to get pregnant again and again, what is this I’m hearing about how all those people are starving? How do you reconcile this?
Put it another way: if you have two ponds with fish in them, and one has more food (is wealthier) than the other pond (is poorer), you would expect the poor pond to be unable to reproduce all that much. In human poor countries, they reproduce a lot. Dig?
No matter how you slice it, I think overpopulation is a root of a lot of our other problems. (Says the woman who is trying to get pregnant!)
Maybe I need to talk to a demographics expert? How do I get the answers?
David Orenstein has written on my blog before. He does me the honor of doing so again, this time on being good without god:
Being an atheist requires a moral obligation to show the world that those who may actively choose to be free of religious dogma and faith, can be so while at the same time bring productive and positive goodness to the world. This positivity can take may shapes and forms, but is generally characterized by helping individuals or communities which are in crisis. Whether it is rebuilding after Hurricane Kartrina, or working in a local soup kitchen, or working with those with mental or physical illness, many atheists go unaccounted for in the war on poverty and the humane treatment of others, as society perpetuates the false notion that helping others remains squarely just in the domain of those with faith.
It is critical that we acknowledge and document the good work and the other labors, the social action, the building of community, and the efforts of those who may not believe in supernatural forces, or have religious faith, or believe in god. This is because those who are godless are not immoral as they are assumed to be by religious forces and figures who make atheists and secularists out to be an enemy. Indeed, as we learn from each other, those who are faithless do have strong ethics and a strong moral compass as finely tuned or in some cases greater and more nobly set than those who believe or have religious faith. Especially when one considers history and that the faithless cause little or no harm, while the religious have done horrible things in the name of their faith.
Surely those who isolate others because of religious doctrine, or deny civil or human rights based on sect, ethnic or clan affiliation, or disallow equal access to education, or kill in the name of their god, or treat women as second-class citizens, or bar others because they may choose to pray (or not believe) and carrying out misogynist and inhumane actions. If one’s faith or dogma bars marriage between consulting adults, or stills another’s reproductive rights, or impedes access to medical treatment, then we can easily make the leap that interpreting one’s religious belief is most certainly doing the opposite of what any kind and loving deity would request from us, if such an entity actually existed.
The late and certainly great Christopher Hitchens was often heard to say that religion and spirituality were each modern humanity’s first attempt at understanding the nature of the universe, a way at getting at some truth. Hitchens would entrance his audience by noting that placing spirituality as a first or any cause for the mechanics of the universe had in fact long ago become a poor and ineffective method to learn about the natural world. Supplanted by great works of literature, or mathematics and advances in astronomy, biology, chemistry and a host of social and physical sciences, the modern rational mind gets nothing from religion that it cannot receive through other means or ideas found within the realm of our common secular humanity.
The scientific method, scientific thinking and science in general have shown religious cause for any level of creation as false. This is based on evidence, not philosophy. If one feels the need to fill in the gaps of one’s life with any creation myth, they are in essence harking back to an urge to learn about and define the planet through some ancient and long discarded set of ideas, philosophy, ritual of thought and action. And that’s fine if one keeps that to themselves, but the construct of most modern religions do not allow for philosophical solitude.
Most religious people want to share, and are eager to extend their “teachings” whether we want to hear from them or not. In fact, they are called upon to pontificate by their faith. This is why religion can be so destabilizing and destructive. It essentially requires practitioners to bring others to live with them in a fantasy world detached from nature and reality for the sake of religious community building. It demands adherence to values and ritual which have never proven to be true except for those who wish such ideas and miracles to be true. Missionaries of all faiths have, over time, destroyed more indigenous culture and language around the globe than almost any war has ever accomplished.
So as atheists, now is the time that we stand up and stand out. Now is the time that we decide on a global scale that our time has come and we are ready, willing and assuredly able to chart a new course of humanity. A good, just and kind course and one that is free of oppressive faith. A course that liberates the mind and body to fulfill one’s destiny unobstructed by false theistic rules, so that we can help ourselves and others not based on anything but our common human sameness. And to truly evolve our humanity way past any faith could ever allow or imagine.
Just kidding. This is Not My God, a site for the personal aspect of atheism. I'm putting together a book with that title, having already 20 interviews lined up, but I still want to hear from more of you.
I've expanded the blog to include material not related to atheism, including rants, raves, consumer issues, curmudgeonly matters and other miscellany.
Read more about Not My God on the About page
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