Greetings P-bloggers! Some of you may already know me. I'm David, better known as camerond44, around here. This is the 400th post in the p-blog. At the end of this blog we'd like you to leave a comment with a link to your blog. Pmomma will then compile a complete list of blog readers and make post number 401 a readers list.
I know Pmom has some fans out here in the blogosphere and I decided to take questions from the last four hundred posts and present her with an interview. Who is this woman we all love? What's it like to hang with the possumfamily? I don't doubt that a question or two may have been answered before. There may be new readers though.
Possummomma, did you grow up an atheist?
Nooooooooo! My parents were Catholic. I went through catechism and communion and confirmation...all of which required CCD classes over the years. I'm not sure that I knew atheism was an option growing up.
When did you realize you were an atheist?
It was gradual, but not...and before you ask what I mean, I'll lay it out there. I was never known to accept any concept without question. While I was a really good kid, by all accounts, I had a problem, even at a young age, with people claiming authority that didn't ring true. As such, I remember being that kid who the nuns and priests would try to ignore as I waived my hand feverishly. But, in 2004, I was hospitalized, in a Catholic hospital, for three months. I was pregnant with P4 and out of total boredom, I picked up the Bible and started reading cover-to-cover. The more I read, the more problems I found.d. But, still...I think that only made me agnostic. It wasn't until the following year that I came to the conclusion that there was no god.
I'm a Christian. Can you explain to me how that felt?
I won't hold that against you. LOL In a way, accepting my atheism was a bit like going through the stages of grief. I had some thought of denial - "oh...this is just a phase. I'll get over it." I think I treated it, briefly, as if it were a test of faith. But, then I got real. Next came anger. Very intense anger! I was so perturbed by, what I saw as, a hoax perpetrated on children. Then, I was angry about the lies I'd been fed and the time I'd devoted to my faith. And, around that time I learned that a priest I knew growing up was a pedophile. I don't think I did any bargaining. But, I did go through a depressed period where I just couldn't look back on my theist life with positive thoughts. That and all my friends were theists and I was a bit depressed about being around them - it's perfectly acceptable for "friends" to talk about church/devotion/their assurance of faith/impact of faith on their lives...but, I suspected that venting about, what I saw as, the problems of belief would leave me friendless. Finally, I accepted that I was an atheist and found some comfort in discovering that there were others like me. Ginny helped me feel comfortable about being a public atheist. I'm glad I met her when I did, because she opened up the door to some great friendships and fellow atheists (such as the Atheist Community of Austin and their members).
What was so important about meeting other atheists?
Well...I guess it's similar to the need to find groups of people we can relate to. I would say that, as a Christian you might compare it to finding a good church community or great Bible study.
Your blog and podcast reflect a love of books. Are you a reader and, if so, what books would you recommend for someone looking into atheism?
I have a voracious appetite for books. I always have. The works of Richard Dawkins had a huge impact on my understanding of the world, evolution, and atheism in general. I was already immersed in the sciences, but The Ancestor's Tale, by Dawkins, clarified the points on which I was fuzzy. But, it's intense reading. You really have to *want* to read it. And, you need some understanding of the scientific method and biology to get the most out of it. Losing Faith in Faith, by Dan Barker, was the first "atheist book" I read and I think it's a great starter book. Although, now, I would recommend the following three books...
1. The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
2. Letters to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris
3. God is Not Great, by Christopher Hitchens
All of these are written in a way that's inviting to the theist reader.
I know your husband is an agnostic-Catholic. How is that working in your home? Was he unhappy about your change in beliefs? If my girl friend came home and said she'd stopped believing in God, I don't know if I would be happy with it.
Pdaddy took it well. We'd both voiced criticisms and doubts...I was just the first of the two of us to put time into researching those doubts. And, it didn't change the basis for our relationship. I know some theist couples base their relationship on serving god or putting God first, but we were never like that. And, our children and friendship (between p-daddy and I) have always been the foundation of our marriage so atheism wasn't a deal breaker.
You blog about raising children. What makes you an authority and how do you handle the people who question your parenting?
Well, first, I definitely wouldn't define myself as "an authority". I've been a parent for over thirteen years and there are days when I'm not sure I'm doing it right or well. And, I never ask my readers or friends to parent as I do. Families are dynamic. They're constantly changing and evolving, if you will, into something new and different. I find that to be one of the coolest things about parenting - it's never dull. I don't think theists make bad parents. If you can raise a thoughtful, caring, happy child, then I wouldn't dare suggest you change your methodology. As for the "haters" who comment - it's bothering me less and less everyday. In the beginning, I was so conscious of every opinion left on my blog. I also struggled with the thought that there were people out there who thought I was a horrible parent because my children are so important to me. Luckily, I had that support that we talked about above to help me put the blogosphere trolls in perspective. For that, I have to thank Russell Glasser and Matt Dillahunty. There was a point where I was ready to delete the blog and if it weren't for them, I probably would've.
What is it that you think makes the believer-trolls in a tizzy?
I really don't know.
What will you carry with you for life as a result of this blog?
I imagine I'll take many of the friends I've made here along with me throughout life. And, certainly, I'll take the fellowship of those who are like-minded. I've also given a voice to many people who previously didn't feel like they could talk and that is something I'll always feel good about.
What would you classify as the entry that shows atheism in the best light?
There's no question in my mind that the fund raising effort, initiated by Berlzebub, was an unprecedented and bold portrayal of secular humanism. There was a poster who, essentially, dared people to "do something" and boy-howdy did the readers of this blog, and the larger atheist community, *do something*!! It was over-whelming! It still is. Above-and-beyond what it did for my family, it was an enormous, positive signal to the world that atheists are every bit as generous as their theist neighbors. I was humbled. And, what made it even better was that you had atheists and theists working together for this common goal. It was just really cool to watch.
Why did you start the blog? Did you think it would last 400 entries?
I started the blog as a place where I could talk openly about my atheism and how it would impact my family. I never dreamed it would be as popular as it seems to be. I think I really owe it to P1 for generating a buzz. And, I never anticipated that people would want to read about our family or our life.
Have you ever wished the buzz would go away?
At one point, I was, as I said, over-whelmed by certain posters and I felt like the blog was bring more negative into the home than I wanted. But, the majority has been so positive that it erases the naysayers.
If one thing came out of this blog, at the end of it all, what would you want it to be? I just really hope that people read the comments on my posts. My blog is nothing without the comments of everyone who reads it. In fact, there are many, many entries where the comments are better than the original post. I would like for it to be a place where theists, especially those who think atheists are scum, would stop by and read the comments. And, maybe, just maybe...they'll see that we are, for the most part, really decent and genuine people who simply believe in one less god than they do. I hope it is an example of how wonderful life without a belief in a deity can be. So, I guess I would like for it to be something that encouraged tolerance and understanding.
You say the people in the comments are better than your posts. Does that ever bother you?
Never! I would love for every post to become a community discussion. I'm so glad that this blog has become more than words on a screen - it's become a neighborhood. And, that's because of the awesome readers I have (both atheist and theist).
Is there anything else you want to say?
Just "thank you", to the community, for sticking with me for 400 posts. I hope we go on for another 400 posts. And, I would love for people to leave links to their blogs in the comments on this post so I can make a list of "neighbors".