The Story of an Arkansas Atheist Pt. 10

Pt 10 AWelcome to a new season of my memoir series. It has been a long time coming, and during the past year, I have been tempted to throw-down a few prematurely, I created the “Morning Meditation” series to fill the role of “dailies.” But, there is no substitution concerning the memoir. A few things should be dealt with before this year’s season of “The Story of an Arkansas Atheist.” can be allowed to officially begin. One could call it housekeeping I suppose, but I see this as a chance to answer questions for my audience concerning some of the stories and series that seemed to have died down or stopped altogether. I don’t like unfinished business, and this is an opportunity to tie up those loose ends.Read More »

Morning Meditations: #77: The New Years Eve Eve Story of An Arkansas Athiest

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Ivy and Nova, this is a scene from many of my mornings. I imagine 2016 will be filled with this exact image.

I have been working on this goddamn MM for four fucking days. Jesus.

Happy new year. Again. Relieved to say I don’t feel anything new or different, as a year which has come with so much personal pain and change for the better found at least one or two nights to rest. Not that life will be giving me any kind of long term break. Every piece of evidence, which I can examine in my own life, points towards more of the same two things that last year brought—much change and pain. I won’t mind being wrong about the latter. Although, I don’t think I will be.

For those of my audience whose minds now drift to a universe where the predictions of events will lead to their happenings, fear not. For one, I don’t believe that is true. Sure, if anyone obsesses about something the likelihood is that one will take action self-fulfilling any such prophecy. That isn’t what I refer to. There is no evidence we can send thoughts into the universe like that, maybe with the assistance of voice, books, satellites, magnetic fields, and photons, but just thinking isn’t like making a cell phone call to the universe. Nor is there any evidence, even if it were, that there is anything to answer the call.

Secondly, if we just use the physics which save lives from disease, build bridges, and allow our cell phones to function (I don’t know why I love that example so much, but it fits) to view ourselves and our interactions, we are left with a more valuable audience for our voices, books, and satellites. This is, of course, one another.

Speaking of one another, it’s rare that most of a room disagrees with me (this is sarcasm, by the way). This room happened to be at the home of a dear friend, as he and his wife were hosting a mostly family get-together. He had both of his sisters, one of those an ex of mine, and their children in house, so including my spawn, there were eight kids. Just a quick recap: three siblings, one of them an ex, and all of there kids plus equaling eight. Good place for revelation. As per usual where ever I am at, neuroscientific, psychological, and/or theological discussions supervene. There is often a good spread when it comes to opinions, but this nigh theology came with strength. This time, outnumbered 2:3 by Christians, I diligently stepped to all callers. Two of them being more outspoken than the other, and the alternate non-Christian isn’t very outspoken about her lack of belief, unless one tries to impose religion on her; she will quickly set someone straight on that score. Over a ping-pong table cluttered with half-finished beers it began.

The first of my debaters ended up being the one that left me with the greatest impression because of a statement she made about me (sorry to make this all about me all the time. *wink* But she would also the say the most disappointing thing I would hear from anyone over the evening. Every time I hear a compassionate, educated person say they believe there is a hell, I am filled with sadness. I didn’t bother to ask her what the parameters of entry into hell would be, new age, fundamentalist, universalist, etc. Or whether or not she felt sadness for all the kind, compassionate nonbelievers which will and have been sentenced to burn in hell fire for eternity. That being said, her theology seemed moderate, but paradoxically firm. We would laugh and talk the next morning, so despite her and I being very opposed in this regard, we seemed to come through unharmed. The second comer of Team Theology kept trying to remind me that I believed Atheism. Silly, homie.

Once again, one cannot believe in Atheism. Defined, it is “a disbelief in the existence of deity.” What I would say is, “I am an atheist because I don’t think metaphysical things based of theology have effective evidence.” His stance is that he has absolute hope for this life and the next. I don’t remember how he responded to the hell question, but I do remember he hesitated at it. This cat being of sound mind a large heart, probably has issues with the concept of genuinely good nonbelievers going to hell. I even imagine he might venture to believe that it doesn’t work like that, however it would, work that is. He and I have spoken much on this subject, and as usual with good folks, the end of these conversations are always the same. “As long as we all love each other cooperate for a better planet, what happens after death will just have to be left to the dead.”

The third member of the theology team had a much more personal story to tell, about family and the division that religion can bring to a home. Those of us that truly see religion as dangerous often feel a strong urge to protect our families from the temptation of metaphysical teachings. This desire to keep the abusive notions of blind faith out of our homes can lead to people, loved ones, being hurt and angry when they are not given permission to spread a poisonous idea. It would be the same if a parent or cousin came into the home and said, “a little bit antifreeze in tea is actually good for people and brings great peace of mind.” Most would not allow that kind of nonsense in their home. Fortunately, or unfortunately in some ways, religion and blind faith aren’t as harmful physically (unless of course you were gunned down or had your head cut off) as antifreeze, so sometimes a little more tolerance can be allowed. This can work in favor of someone who wants to heal as well as protect against the potential damages caused by the disease of religion. When somebody ends up foisting religion in our kids’ faces, we can take the time afterward to explain to our spawn why people think like that, and that there is no evidence other than mass delusion. So in many ways, I really felt for this third and final debater. This is the problem with us militant atheists. We allow the divisive nature of religion to repel us; when it could be more useful to get very close to it. You know where enemies are best kept? So, there is a way to use religiosity to protect our children from religion—quite the vaccination model. I believe I will discuss this with her husband next time I see him. This conversation, while interesting and in some instances fulfilling, isn’t the thing which echos in my head and has caused me to think the most about the night, the woman who stood before me, and about the ramifications of her statements. Why?

I love a good Cartesian mirror. My first discussion, described earlier, provided just such an event. I was told that I had a darkness in me. If she listed a specific detail of this darkness, I do not recall, and with out that the statement came off as a colossal non sequitur. We all have a darkness within us. As usual, a Deadwood quote comes to mind, “We all have bloody thoughts.” I am curious about this darkness she seemed to know about me. While she said I shared some similarities with an ex of hers (hilarious, considering I am the ex of her sister), I don’t think that is what she meant. I trust that this, and I just want to say this once, stunningly intelligent, ridiculously beautiful, addictively energetic mother of two did see something in which she is expert. I cite this with her college degree in psychology and career in mental health. And, I suppose the main reason this became such a mirroring event is the lack of detailing what she saw. “You’ve a darkness, deal with it.” What! No-o-o-o! Predictably, the first thing I began to think about on the drive home is, “What did she mean? Which terrifying part of my personality did she see, or did she all of the darkness within me?” Of course not wanting to be a sucker for a pretty face, I also had other questions. “Was this statement made out of pity, altruism, or some crazy cool ulterior motive that I don’t even know about.” Also, I am familiar with notion of projection, she did mention that she was going through a break up, thus the darkness she perceived may have been from within. So ,I’ve been looking.

Looking within myself, but not for darkness. Rather, I’ve been gazing, seeing whatever there would be to see. What has, thus far, stepped into the limelight is my public performance art.  The momentum from some of my projects have picked up a little steam, marginal, but all good shit starts somewhere. This has caused motivation for exploring other chances to be both physically vulnerable and mentally vulnerable. More about those over the next few days.

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Thanks and Prost! to Hilary and Jaime for this artifact. The first happy hour of Sailor n Soda in the new Colts gear!

I will conclude by saying the evening depicted in this MM has taken up ranks as one of the most memorable nights of my life. The early morning conversation difficult. So moved by the love this family has always shown me, I can’t imagine my life without them, nor would I want to. This all being an attempt to express, well, what ever word exists which is more powerful than “gratitude.” He just invited me to another night of life at their house in the near future. I will be attending.

The Story of An Arkansas Atheist: Retreat Edition Ep. 2 (3/3)

3. As the Sun Began to Set – I split my main fire pit into two piles. One, I began to build up again to keep the grandios campfire going. The other, I kept the fire low and set up the fold out grates for cooking. Tonight’s dinner is a couple of the sausages purchased on the way out of town (a traditional meal of mine out here). Some McCormick Montreal Steak flavored links. They were amazing.Read More »

The Story of An Arkansas Atheist: Retreat Edition Ep. 1

Peena Pano 11When I decided to take a writing and meditation retreat at Peenemunde, there were things I knew I wanted to do. I knew no matter what I thought the trip would be like, I kept a confidence that it would be it’s own thing, which is to say powerful. I also knew that it would a separate type of amazing because of my solitude, so if things went like I wanted them to or if they deviated, the entire trip would be worth every second. Thus far this place has never let me down; this experience would keep without exception. It took me a whole day to really get into the writing of this journal, as I didn’t enter with a plan of how to write, only that I would write.Read More »