Friday, June 20, 2008

Updates and responses

I'm not sure why my font is weird, but I'll work with it. My inbox has been flooded this week. As a result, there are some updates I need to post.
1. After reading about the botched interview, a reader who happens to be a journalist for a Dutch lifestyle and parenting periodical has asked if I would do an interview for her. She is building an article about what it's like to be an American atheist with "such a large family". I'm still adjusting to the fact that most people think our family is "large". She explained to me that the Netherlands is predominantly secular and, apparently, I have a few fans within her circle of friends. This would explain why my google dashboard rates the Netherlands in the top five countries where my blog is read. Anyway, she was explaining to me how hard it is for people in the Netherlands to understand the controversy of American atheism and, additionally, the pressure to be religious on families in the United States. She's asked me for the names of a few other atheists (preferably those who've been atheists for longer than five years) and I've suggested a few of you. If you receive an e-mail from Marit, you'll know what it's about.
2. I can't stress enough how well this window film is working for us. I knew that the real test would be summer. The central valley of California has brutal heat in summer. It is not uncommon to go for two months without dipping below 100F (38C). We're also in an environment where it's rarely cloudy in the summer and the pollution levels actually can intensify the UV. Last summer, I wouldn't dare spend any time in the living room because it resulted in intense blistering and pain. But, this year it's not a problem at all. I get a bit pink, but that's completely do-able. I've also noticed that, because I'm able to retreat into our house, with the UV protection (and my bedroom where they used a darker/higher blocking film), I don't blister as fast on the rare occasion when I do have to venture outside. I'm still stuck at home with the exception of medical appointments, but at least now I can roam around the house during the day time. So, huge thanks are, once again, in order: THANK YOU!
3. I think all of my close, close friends have been told via phone, but it's time to tell the rest of my friends and family about my newest hurdle. I've had at least four kidney stones every week since March 21. Scans of the kidneys show that the left kidney is beginning to calcify faster than what we've observed in the past. This led my doctors to take a look at my parathyroid. It turns out I have an adenoma on one of the parathyroid glands and that is responsible for the kidney stones and intense bone pain I've had. This is something that can be managed (even though I think I should be exempt from any other health issues). But, for the time being, I am on heavy medications so I can be as pain free as possible. Which...which means I'm sleeping 16-19 hours a day. It's the only way I can dodge the pain. As a result, I'm not on here much in the day time and would love it if one of my regular bloggers could step in and keep an eye on my comments. I hate the fact that, like this morning, a commenter who wasn't following my comment policy was viewable on the blog for many hours before I got to check my blog. If you have known me for a while and want to help out, drop me an e-mail and I'll figure out some way to make you a moderator on the blog. It would really help me out.
And now, I shall respond to some of the more colorful comments on my last entry.

Promisekept said...
I remember what anon said. You should not have deleted
it sense he had much to say to you that you need to listen to. I thought you liked open minded people so what is your excuse for deleting a mans comment because you don't agree.

Open-minded doesn't apply to people who try to leave anonymous sermons on the blog despite clear rules that state it won't be tolerated. If the anonymous poster wanted to share his thoughts, then he/she should've taken the time to read the rules. You probably have no idea how frustrating it is to try and have a discussion or debate when there are three people who call themselves "anonymous" on one entry. The fact that I allow people to use the "name/website" feature without logging in encourages an open atmosphere. I deleted his comment without even reading it because it's unfair to allow some to comment anonymously while others have respected the guidelines.

He didn't attack in rude fashion. We Christians feel bad when we see a person who God is trying to fill with spirit and they just don't want that help from Him.

He didn't "attack", but from what I've heard and seen (from what people have quoted), he wasn't exactly polite. Please do not feel as if you need to "feel bad" for me. I'm happy. I love my life. I love my family. I have good friends. I find fulfillment using the tools I value: reason, logic, the scientific method, and that which is based in reality. I understand that you feel your God is very, very real. But, I disagree. And, if your God is beyond human description and "works in mysterious ways", then how is it you can speak as an authority on who God has "filled with the spirit"? And, can you show me some evidence of this spirit and how you would measure it?

Anon said before you deleted:"I have read your blog for a long time and
it is my prayer that you will keep on obssessing about Christianity. It seems the whole of your existence to think about these things constantly.

Interesting. In over four hundred posts, I have never been accused of "obsessing on Christianity". I don't think that's an accurate statement. Most of my entries are about the world as I see and experience it and I don't go out of my way to find Christians to bash. There *are* some bloggers who *do* participate in that sort of thing, but it's not my cup of tea. I *do* blog about instances where theists are trying to disregard the rights of secular people or trying to legislate their religious beliefs into law or promoting false information regarding atheism. And, if you can honestly read this blog and think that blogging (about Christianity or atheism or any other topic) is my existence, then you must be blind. It's obvious to anyone who is honest and objective that my children are my biggest obsession and that the majority of time is spent with my family. Accusing me of thinking about Christianity constantly is a reflection of what you wish I was doing. Forget how wrong you are: How arrogant can you be?

The Holy Spirit must want you pretty badly to work this hard for your

What kind of drivel is this? Seriously...are you honestly suggesting that my atheism is a sign that the unproven, holy spirit is working on my soul? If your deity exists, then I would much rather that deity work to provide clean water for people drinking out of tainted sources or feeding starving children. That your deities priority would be "work(ing) hard for (my) soul" is a lame statement about your deities priorities. In fact, if your deity were to come to the earth and eliminate, in an instant, all of the problems inherent with poverty and over-population in third world countries, then I might actually have a reason to believe. If your deity prioritized getting rid of pedophiles and child molesters, then he'd score more points in my book. If you deity cured cancer,...well, you get the picture. I don't think I can respect or worship any deity whose priorities are so out of whack.

"I think he must know what an awesome Christian you would

Been there, done that...didn't get a choir robe.
If you're of the belief that your God would see someone like me as an "awesome Christian", then your deity is missing some very crucial parts of who I am. Even when I was a Christian (of the Catholic variety), I was skeptical of the things we were supposed to accept as truth. I find the Bible to be a horrible guide for humanity, for it justifies far too many un-humanitarian actions. I don't put much store in things that aren't tangible. I don't believe in extraordinary claims without being shown extraordinary evidence. And, to round out the short list of "why I'd make a terrible Christian", I have no desire to raise children with the threat of hell while brandishing the rod (Proverbs 13-24). I find some of the parenting methods championed by high profile Christians to be without compassion and wisdom. Since my children are my world, I couldn't place them in an environment where I felt that they may be harmed (even if the harm was done by well intentioned people). There's enough of that in the world without sanctifying it on Sunday mornings.

"This blog gives me hope that God cares so much that He will keep that
burr under your saddle and keep you agonizing."

Agonizing over what? And, why on earth would you worship a god that would intentionally hurt (physically or mentally) a human being? That says a lot about you and how you perceive love. What kind of dysfunctional crap is that? It's too much like an abusive husband who tells his wife that he's beating her for her own good...y'know, maybe she'll change her behavior and get on board. How can you support that? That god fails the test of benevolence.

"It shows just how much he loves you to put this much effort into a single soul and the souls of your children through you."
See above. My children are invaluable and special without pretending that they've been infused with your God. I love my children for exactly who they are. I don't need a deity to tell me how wonderful they are and how lucky I am to be their mother. They are loving, compassionate, brilliant children who have never been subjected (or greatly exposed) to the cruelty found in the Bible or the message that they will never be good enough. Your God tells you that you're a sinner. Your God tells you that without him, you are nothing. Your God asks for total and complete devotion with the threat of eternal pain and suffering hanging over your head if you don't comply. Tell me, please, how that is in any way acceptable. And, then, tell me how, as a parent (if you are one), you would condone that sort of mental abuse placed on your child's shoulders?


Peter said...

I've been reading your very entertaining and interesting blog for a while now, but I never left a comment (guess that makes me a 'lurker').
Since I'm from the Netherlands, after reading the first part of this post I thought I might as well leave a comment now ;)

I can confirm that for us it is hard to understand how difficult it is to 'come out' as an Atheist in America. Allthough America is officially more secular than the Netherlands (the law here still provides some privileges for the religious), in practice it seems that it is pretty much the other way around. The main struggle against religious influence in the Netherlands is now focussed on Islam, rather than Christianity (allthough Christian political movements will keep trying to take away some of the rights we gained (like gay-marriage, euthanasia and abortion) and to impose their morals on society).

I'm interested in the interview, so do you happen to know the name of this parenting periodical that Marit is interviewing you for?

Paul said...

[silentsanta, NZ]

Pmomma, I'm sorry to hear about the health issues. We readers are all behind you and hope things go better for you.


Promisekept: If you want to have any chance of persuading people on this blog that your 'God' is real, you're going to have to display a willingless to understand where people are coming from. Barging in here and dismissing Pmomma's viewpoint as simply a reaction to her sickness is condescending, arrogant, and juvenile.

If you cared to understand her at all, you could have said something like "Do you think your sickness is part of the reason why you choose not to believe in God?" and wait for her response.
That is, you could have given her a chance to explain her own reasons instead of clumsily assigning a motive convenient to your preconceptions.

You have a choice: you can either:

a. decide you know everything about people after a few paragraphs, and continue stereotyping them obliviously, or

b. you can actually listen to what they have to say about their values and beliefs, and maybe discover something about them and yourself too.

What are you going to do?

Psychodiva said...

PMomma- sorry to here about your health but glad to hear that the film is doing its job just like we wanted:)
Atheism in the UK is I think easier than the US but not yet on a par with the Netherlands- I used to live near the Dutch border in Heinsberg and regularly visited that wonderful country and the really generous and friendly people I found there, who never laughed at my attempts at using (abusing?) their language and were very patient with me lol - if anybody is able, when the article comes out I would welcome a translation being posted somewhere :)

Berlzebub said...

@ P-Momma:
I'm glad the film is working as we'd hoped. Although, I'm very sorry to hear about the kidney stones. Never had one (or four), but I know they can be extremely painful.

Also, I'd like to volunteer to work as a moderator for you. You know my email, so go ahead and contact me if you need me.

Maybe when I become more open with my family about my non-belief, I can get interviewed. Having a wife who's still a believer, and both of us raising a child could make for an interesting discussion.

Charla said...


LOVE LOVE LOVE the last paragraph of today's entry. The one about total devotion to god or the threat of eternal damnation. Very good work.

Also, so sorry about the health stuff. I can't imagine how you must feel so I won't presume to relate but I do wish it wasn't happening to you (duh).

Jason said...

I’m going to have to agree with Paul on this one.

Promisekept instead of coming to prosthletize and stirring things up maybe you should, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is hidden. (Matt 6:6)

reVAMPed said...

Okay, I'm one of those who will bash Christian religions. Just recently on my blog, The Followers of Christ in Oregon, let CHILDREN DIE because of their religion. They don't seek out medical attention, instead they PRAY. This time it was a 16 year old boy with a urinary tract infection, and he died of heart failure. The doctors said this could've been avoided if he'd been brought it.

How messed up is that? What, someone praying didn't pray hard enough, so he died? Someone didn't believe enough, so he died?

And, I WILL continue to bash religions that are just this insane.

This isn't 2000 years ago. We live in a pretty modern era. I just hope 2000 years from now, it'll all be different. Religion will be wiped off the face of the earth.

PM your kids are welcome at our house anytime, for just hanging out or a sleepover, if you need it.

Poodles said...

I hope you get feeling better. I would be happy to help with the moderations, but they recently installed spy stuff for the web at my work and the "pit boss" is getting reports now, so I have to be careful. But if you need extra eyes, lemme know. You have my address too.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Oh how I wish critical thinking and rationality were contagious.

Very sorry to hear about the illness on top of illness. You are an inspiration - though I bet it doesn't feel like it at times.

Karen said...

Pmomma, you should be exempt from other health issues. I challenge the Universe to exempt Pmomma from these health issues!

(sound of ceiling fan running)

Okay, I guess that didn't work. But I do hope this all clears up soon. Time on pain meds is just time that disappears from your life.

Thanks for the update on the film. I am so, so glad it has helped so much.

BC Cook said...

I had a parathyroid gland removed on the 9th of June and honestly it was trivial. The adenoma was largish, which meant it had been there for a while (but the size of the adenoma is unrealted to symptoms). I hadn't gotten to the kidney stones or osteoporosis yet but my blood pressure was high (despite meds) and I was so tired and depressed.
The surgery was a quick overnight and required no pain meds. I felt better almost immediately and I feel evern better now.
I hope you can have the surgery. It will make a lot of difference right away.