Saturday, February 16, 2008


From the Colorado Daily News...

A new student group has formed at UC Boulder.
Though there are many faith-based organizations on campus, Allison Catalano,
a sophomore at CU, started the Alliance after she felt like there was no place
for student atheists to assemble and get to know each other. There is, however,
an atheist group for the larger Boulder community.Catalano said one of the main
objectives of the group, besides finding other like-minded students to socialize
with, is to take part in charity work in and around the Boulder community.

And...that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it's all about. I know some will read this and think, "Well...why couldn't they just join an existing charity-based organization on campus?" It's a fair question. But, here's what those people don't understand... I've never turned my back on theists. Heck. I used to be one! I've pledged my support to many causes regardless of the ideology of the group. That said, and this may seem petty to some, it does bug me when, after donating, you hear "God bless you." And, usually, following a succesful campaign to help, you get the inevitable chorus of people claiming that God let the charity event go well or that "God was behind us." While it's fine for those who want to believe it, it has always struck me as sort of trite. Is the God of their universe really concerned with the bake sale that put new carpet in the rectory? Do they really think God was sitting on his heavenly perch saying, "Yes! About time! Father Dan needed new Berber to replace that hideous shag carpeting."? I don't have a problem with those who want to thank god because they believe in God, I have a hard time believing that, IF God exists, he is behind the fund raising efforts to build churches. I'm not motivated by God to help. I'm motivated by humanity and my own place within this world. There's a sense of responsibilty I have when it comes to easing someone elses suffering (when I can). I hate to quote Kathy Griffin, but she really did nail it: no one had less to do with this than God. There's nothing wrong with taking credit when your due credit. And, there's nothing wrong with not taking credit AND not giving that credit up to God. THIS is why atheists enjoy a chance to do charity work outside of a theistic pretense. Because most atheists have figured out that we can be motivated by many, many different factors...none of which go by the name of God. Beyond that, these groups are necessary to help re-wire stereotypes about the greedy, ego ladened atheists who only care about themselves. It's about building community. And, whatever form, is a beautiful thing.

There was someone, and I had no problem with it, but some did, who responded to the window film drive with the comment that they were glad that their prayer came true. And, recently, a friend suggested that it was poor taste to react in a negative fashion to that claim. I don't think it was. It's one thing for a group of Christians to bond together and do something with the belief that God was helping them. It's another thing for a theist to enter the efforts of a bunch of atheists and make what they did seem sanctioned by the supernatural being that none of the atheists believe in. It's like me walking up to a Salvation Army kettle at Christmas and saying, "Thank the employers of this fine community for giving those in their employ the cash to put in this kettle. The corporations really must be smiling down upon the bell ringer." Don't take the glory away from the humans who sacrificed, in any manner, to give of themselves. That's not egotistical. It's giving credit where it's due. So, though the comment didn't strike me as outwardly offensive, I absolutely see where it struck Berlie. Berlie, a genuinely nice guy and mortal, put time that could've been spent with his lovely wife and daughter into the effort. He coordinated a group of people who are reknowned for being independent types into a life-altering cause. Give credit where it's due. Thus, I give credit to Berlie. And, to everyone who donated- atheist or theist or pastafarian,...this was an amazing thing.

I hope more groups, like the one in the article, pop-up across the country. It's awesome.

OH! A note to those who suggested that Lexi write an essay for the Quest contest: I think she's going to e-mail the director and see if, in the event she won, she could donate the trip to someone who might not have the means. If not, she's decided not to write an essay. Not that she'd be sure to win, but she thinks it might be denying someone their only way to go. But, she says to thank you for having that much confidence in her abilities.


ascian said...

Wow, I can't get over how mature your kids are :) One who cared about having a scientist look at his work rather than about the glory, and another who'd rather give someone who can't afford it a chance to attend the camp rather than having more money to spend on stuff for her. Very impressive :)

I was looking for a version of Camp Quest in Australia, but there doesn't seem to be such a thing explicitly that I could find :( I hope she has fun :)

Psychodiva said...

I hope more and more of these groups start appearing around the world's universities - :)

and thanks for your thanks- Berlzebub did an excelent job herding mercury lol

Berlzebub said...

That Lexi would go through the effort of writing an essay, only to give it to someone less fortunate speaks volumes about her and your family.

As to my reaction to the claim, someone needs a thicker skin. I apologized in the comment I made for being snarky, but also explained why what they said ticked me off.

However, I do prefer people come to me when they have a problem with something I say. It's not like my email is difficult to find, anymore. (Hint: it's in ABOUT ME on my blog, and there's 20+ posts that refer to it.)

@ Psychodiva:
It's not as hard as it sounds, really. Mercury still flows downhill, so all you have to do is tilt the table so they reach the destination where they can do the most good. They do the rest on their own.

Hint to Dawkins: Don't try to herd cats/atheists, because a laser pointer is much easier and more fun.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Sometimes I think people are more comfortable with atheists joining existing charities because then they can continue to pretend that atheists are uncharitable and don't care about their fellow human beings.

Autonomous said...

I hope to see a growing number of atheist groups. One of the hardest things about being an atheist deep in the Bible Belt is the feeling of isolation. I know very few atheists, though quite a few agnostics. Religion is such a part of the shared experience in my area yet I cannot share that experience myself. At times when I was younger it was a lonely feeling.

Knitterman said...

thanks for the link to the article about the Secular Alliance. That is so cool! I agree that many of the religious believe that atheists and others don't do charity stuff (tell that to Bill Gates!), so it's good for charitably minded secularists to prove otherwise. Bravo!

ZugTheMegasaurus said...

Huh. How is it that I attend that school and managed not to hear about the group until reading the blog of someone 1000 miles away? Social ineptitude FTW. :)

Miss Welby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Mrs. Welby,
Kids read this blog. Putting porn in your avatar is unacceptable. Directly fishing for people to come vote in your blog, when you've never commented here before? Fish somewhere else.

Miss Welby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Knitterman said...

"porn" is in the eye of the beholder, as is bigotry. I don't think the avatar is "porn", but I wouldn't want it appearing on my blog, either, as I find it distasteful and inappropriate for a blog visited by a broad spectrum of society, including young children who likely don't need to see a nude woman smoking. Show the Venus de Milo or the David, that's art. A nude woman smoking ... ehhh, not so much. just my opinion.

Berlzebub said...

I obviously respect your opinion as this is your home and I don't want to disturb.

just let me clarify that the avatar is not "porn" but art. it is a well known photograph by a well-known photographer who was NOT a pornographer.

And what was this artist's name? You saying it's art, does not make it so. There's even argument among artists as to what is art.

yes it's nudity but NOT porn, as it does not involve any sexual intercourse. also, being b/w, it should be clear that the aim is erotic art, not pornography.
So, I can download pictures of someone doing a "solo", turn it to black and white, and then just explain to my wife that "it's art"? I don't think that would fly.

Also, it was not "clear" that it is supposed to be erotic art. You holding such an opinion does not make it so.

now delete this comment as well, please, it was just a personal communication to let you know that you are an atheist bigot.
And you are a pornogr... I mean erotic art idiot. P-Momma explained why she deleted your comment, and it wasn't just because of your picture. That you are so devoted to your own opinions and prejudices shows that you are the bigot.

Besides, I honestly don't like the picture. I much prefer stuff by Ansel Adams, who's work isn't art just because he does it in b/w.

Miss Welby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Go Boulder! I drove through there once!

I wish an atheist group had been possible in any of my schools. But anyone declaring they don't believe in a Christian god was pretty much guaranteed a year of hell. I was a Christian back then, too, but I think it would have helped me transition out of it if I had known there were other people out there who weren't afraid to ask questions and could offer some kind of support to those of us who just weren't sure of what to believe.

Miss Welby, I'm an artist. I see where you're coming from. Art is in the eyes of the beholder. However, porn or erotic art or Mickey Mouse, if the owner of the blog feels it is inappropriate for her audience, then the respectful thing to do is honor her wishes. My children see naked bodies all the time. My sketchbooks are full of them. But that doesn't mean I leave them out for my company to see when they come for dinner. And I certainly don't bring them to other people's houses.

And is it just me, or has it gotten a LOT easier to sign in here? It used to take me three tries to comment. ^_^

Poodles said...

Miss Welby,
You can post on a blog without it showing your avatar, it just won't allow people to link back to your blog. And if what you have to say has nothing to do with promoting your place then it shouldn't matter that it will just have your name and not your picture. But I have a feeling that isn't the point.

Pmommas blog, Pmommas rules. You'll survive getting deleted.

mildareveno said...

"Kids read this blog."

How can kids be disturbed by such an innocent painting?

mildareveno said...

It's not a painting, but it seems a painting. It could be used as a postage stamp :-)

possum_momma said...

Milda (Mrs. Welby),
I don't have a problem with pictures of naked people. They have their place in art museums and books and whereever else anyone wants to put them. I'm a big fan of the human body. But, it doesn't change the fact that I know other peoples' children read this blog...and I would say that there's a time and place for everything. THIS is not the place for questionable pictures. You don't have to like it. You don't have to agree. But, if you can't respect it, then perhaps you should take your trolling, "come to my blog and vote" posts elsewhere. The topic you posted about had absolutely nothing to do with atheism or agnosticism or belief.

Anonymous said...

And, for the record, I somehow suspect that we won't "miss" your posting since you've never posted here before. You have every right to be angry and create a post telling the world how horrible you think I am. Interestingly, it was you who came to MY blog looking for people to come vote in your blog. I already have an audience and I didn't have to troll to get it. If you want to display pictures of people getting off with goats and donkeys, then I say "more power to you". But, keep it in your own blog. Don't bring it here. That you don't understand that simple fact shows that you have no respect for me or any child that reads here and that's more offensive to me than the "art".

mildareveno said...

I am not Miss Welby. Isn't it a little strange to ask someone to change one's avatar to get permission to comment? One doesn't expect to find such severity in an atheist's blog. What would you do if an important scientist or philosopher whom you admire came here using a similar avatar? "Mr Dawkins, I don't think that topless girl is appropriate." :-)

Berlzebub said...

@ Mildareveno:
I am not Miss Welby. Isn't it a little strange to ask someone to change one's avatar to get permission to comment?
Would it be strange to ask someone to put on clothes before coming into your home? No. P-Momma's children, and most likely quite a few others read this blog.

Besides, you're only trying to defend one aspect of why her original, and subsequent, comments were deleted, as I explained above, and on Miss Welby's blog. She knowingly(?) violated the commenting policy. So, the only complaint that Miss Welby could make was P-Momma calling her "art" porn.

One doesn't expect to find such severity in an atheist's blog. What would you do if an important scientist or philosopher whom you admire came here using a similar avatar? "Mr Dawkins, I don't think that topless girl is appropriate." :-)
Atheists, Christians, Hindus, nudists, fig-leafists, and Tommy-Hilfiggerists have to abide by the same rules. P-Momma has deleted comments left by atheists, because they broke the rules.

In short, this is P-Momma's blog, but Miss Welby didn't respect that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you'll get this message and take it to Mrs. Welby - It's not all about the nudity. I'll say it again - It's not all about the nudity. It's about respect. Furthermore, atheism has absolutely nothing to do with one's desire to allow a picture of a reclining, smoking, nude woman in a journal where children frequently read. The fact that Mrs. Welby felt ENTITLED to post here, in a gratuitous fashion as her only reason to post was to link her own poll, and then became angry when I deleted the comment for VARIOUS REASONS, is the real situation. It's not about who I admire. It's not about playing favorites. It's about applying ONE RULE ALL THE SAME and your friend Mrs. Welby thinks she and her "art" are above it. But, since you asked, I highly doubt Dawkins would feel entitled to link to his own blog and have a NSFW avatar.

Poodles said...

Um, WOW, thanks for that visual of a naked Richard Dawkins reclining with a cigarette. I kind of think we would be more likely to get that from Hitchens.


mildareveno said...

Probably Miss Welby didn't read entirely the "commenting policy". Most of it (beginning from the title) is against anonymous comments.

Only anonymous comments are menaced to be deleted.

I think it was the nudity who made you so strict.

Psychodiva said...

"Um, WOW, thanks for that visual of a naked Richard Dawkins reclining with a cigarette. I kind of think we would be more likely to get that from Hitchens."


manuela said...

A different perspective.
what to an adult can be erotic or problematic, to a child can be just a picture not even so interesting.
Anyway, if I were a child after all this "bla bla" about that picture, what do you think would I do immediately? :))

Anonymous said...

"I'm not motivated by God to help. I'm motivated by humanity and my own place within this world. There's a sense of responsibilty I have when it comes to easing someone elses suffering (when I can)"

I feel that same sense of responsibility-in spite of the fact that I am a theist. I want to relieve the suffering of others whenever and where ever I can.

I have left a few comments recently that have been eaten. not sure what I was doing wrong but I hope it works this time!

Bunc said...

Momma Possum,
I haven't been to your blog before before - I came here via a link that Miss Welby had left on one of my posts and saw some comments on her blog about the comments she had left here and her reaction when you deleted them.

I think your are absolutely entitled to run your blog in the way that you see fit. It's your blog.

Running a blog with comments is a bit like inviting other people into the house for a chat - you expect them to do you the courtesy of following the house rules.

I think she uses that avatar intentioanlly anyway just to show how "radical" she is. She is looking for a reaction. She got one from me - I dont think hairy armpits are at all artistic :-)

Anyway its nice to say hello to another member of the atheist blogging community. So - Hello !

katya said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog, and I was reading back to catch up on a lot of your stories. It's nice to know there are still reasonable, rational, and logical people out there in the world...and that some children are still being raised that way as well.

I wanted to comment on this post specifically because I read the post explaining the reason you deleted Miss Welby's post. I wondered (somewhat fearfully) whether her name was still accessible. After checking it out, I found that it is, and her avatar / profile picture is still the one you mentioned in your post (or one similar enough as to make me think it's the same). I don't know if there is anything you can do to delete any link to her profile at all, but if kids have any possibility of accessing this blog at a public school (or anywhere, really), simply deleting the comment wasn't enough to prevent the potential for embarrassment or unnecessary trouble.