Monday, December 30, 2019

The Triggers Triggered Me

I recently left a Facebook group.

I am in a few on various topics.

This one was about having deconverted from Evangelicalism.

This group was highly into trigger warnings. Lots of posts were just listing the triggers... and then what the post actually was about was nested down in the comments... which usually had to be sifted through to find the original post.

Anyway, after having been scolded a 2nd time for not having the proper trigger warnings listed for what I wanted to talk about... I just decided I was too lazy and this was too much work. So I left.

Not one of those big dramatic leavings where you post about all the reasons you are leaving and give everyone a piece of your mind.

I just clicked the button.

I enjoyed hearing people's exit stories and I like talking about similar experiences in some of the crazy church life that we all lived through.


My goal has always been to make that stuff a memory. Something to talk about... that happened in the past. Get a good laugh and an eyeroll.

However, I started to notice that a lot of people like to keep this stuff present. If some believer isn't being overtly insensitive, they will contrive ways to imagine they were insensitive. Their identity is caught up in the trama that they experienced. They almost don't seem to want to make it their past.

Which is where some people are at... and you do what you need... but it isn't where I am at.

I am a walking trigger. I want to talk about everything and anything. And I am old now, so if I have to list all the topics I want to talk about before I talk about them and then scroll down and put my funny meme in the comments section... that is just too much for me to keep straight... so I am going to go talk somewhere else now.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Make A Stand

 Interesting to read over some of the quotes from Republican representatives today.  There were lots of condemnations of Democrats... but I have yet to read defenses of Trump.

Not one got up to say that Trump would simply NEVER use his office for his own purposes.  That a lifetime of solid character stands in opposition to such accusations.

They know.

I just left the page of a religious friend and he and his fellow believers have lots to say about team loyalty and there is line after line of whataboutism.  They talk about how the horrible Democrats are handing Trump 2020... but again, no actual defense of Trump.

Simply put, they can't appeal to Trump's character... he doesn't have any.  They can't point to Trump's moral life... he has never had one.  They can't direct you to Trump's long-suffering, goodness, gentleness, faith, or self-control... because these are all void in his life.

Yet, they want to switch hats when they tell you about their religion.  Discuss faith, and suddenly things like morality matter.  They want YOU to have character and goodness... but they don't have those expectations of their leader.  Somewhere along the way, they lost faith in these ideals.  They want to win... and they have been convinced that good guys finish last.

One of my favorite scenes in Endgame is during the last battle. Everyone is down and Thanos has beaten Cap nearly senseless.  Cap pulls himself to his feet and sees the armies of Thanos bearing down on him.  He sighs, tightens his broken shield on his arm and begins limping toward them.  He intends to go down... making a stand.

In a similar scene at the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader,  Reepicheep announces his determination to find the home of Aslan beyond the sun-

"My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s country...I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”

The unfortunate truth is, the good person often does finish last.  But goodness and character have never been about winning.  Their value is self-contained and worth the pursuit for their own sake.

I hope my conservative religious friends can find their way back to that hopeful pursuit.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Lapse of Judgment?

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The man who appeared to slap a reporter on her backside while she was live on the air is now facing charges.

Thomas Callaway was arrested Friday and charged with sexual battery, WSAV reported.

As he should be.

I have heard and read many people saying that this is not worth prosecution. It was a momentary lapse of judgment. He should be able to apologize and have everyone move on.


Just No.

First, I don't believe it was a lapse in judgment. I had a lapse in judgment last night during a play I was in. There is this scene when I am part of a parade and we throw candy into the audience. Just once and it is clear we are doing so. At the end of the song I still had some candy (usually I am out). At the last moment, I decided to throw my remaining candy into the audience.


No one was expecting it this time and they cut the lights just as I threw it. Fortunately, everyone survived.

I also accidentally cut someone off today. I didn't check my blind spot as well as I should have. The driver was rightly annoyed with me.

These are lapses of judgment.

I would never have a lapse of judgment regarding smacking a woman's behind because that is not within the realms of possibility for me. There is never a moment when I am at the crossroads of that decision.

How many women could tell tales of how often they have been on the receiving end of this "lapse of judgment"?

Until we quit winking at this behavior, until we stop shrugging it off as no big deal... in other words, until we start prosecuting, we can expect this behavior to continue.

It needs to stop.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Four More Years of Trump

We will have Trump for four more years.

And we may get worse after that.

I don't want to be a pessimist... but I just think that is where we are at the moment.

Many Americans simply have no interest in being good, doing right... they just want to WIN (whatever that means).

There is a post going around again at the moment... the one where "Andy Rooney" or "Paul Harvey" (it varies as to authorship) talks about how Christians aren't going to "take it" anymore. They are going to fight to make everyone pray in schools and so forth because this is a "Christian Nation". Love it or leave it.

I wrote a response, which I have been pasting in anytime I see this piece. It says -
"But no one is asking you not to pray... pray away. We are just asking that you don't grab the microphone and put it over the loudspeaker.
If I am not mistaken, Jesus was all for that idea.
If I go to a believer's home and they desire to pray over a meal, I will sit quietly while they do so. It is their home.
When they come to my house, they are welcome to pray quietly over their meal. I don't mind.
However, when it comes to government and schools, I am not ok with someone grabbing the mic and praying for the reasons I listed above. When a Christian grabs the mic at a school football game, they are saying it is THEIR home... and I am just a guest.
But no, it is not their home... and it is not my home. It is our home. We both have every right to be here... and I will not be made to feel like a visitor in my own home.
I think most people, theists and non-theists, can get along fairly well... we just need to respect reasonable boundaries."
I got this reply yesterday -
"Andrew Hackman phuck off...if I have access to the mic and you don't...poor baby!
You damn Snowflakes-R-Us minions think being offended is somehow a crime.
News Flash: this is a Christian based nation and here you with it."
To varying degrees, that is where a lot of America is today. This person has no interest in fairness, understanding, empathy, discussion. He wants to win and he wants you to lose. There is so little thought in his worldview that he is viciously standing up for his "Christian Nation"... with behavior Jesus would rebuke.

Trump didn't happen by accident. He reflects America. Until we change that, "Trump" will be our consequence.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coming Out Atheist

I read a good article written by someone who grew up without faith in an area where that was fairly normal. It was not until she was older that she realized it is not the experience of most folks.  She addresses "when" to announce one is atheist.

I like to use the word atheist because it draws a line in the sand. I think that is important in American Christian culture. I was talking with an evangelical relative one day and I realized through things he said that he really didn't mind if people were not Christian... just as long as they understood that, in America, they were second-tier citizens. Really, you may think I exaggerate, but no... he said that "these people" just need to understand that "Christianity comes first".

I think this is why Evangelicals like Trump so much. He, more so than any previous president, is willing to use language that aligns with my relative's 2nd-tier perspective. Evangelicals (and those of similar conservative religion) see two Americas and so does Trump. When they speak of unity, they do not mean in a pluralistic way, rather they want your conversion or submission.

I use the word atheist because I like to stand in direct opposition to that. I will not convert or submit. However, I am privileged in that regard. I don't pay any particular cost to be "out". There are plenty of folks who, if they announced their atheism, could lose their marriage, their job, their standing in the community, their family relations, etc.

Think about it. In America, someone can announce that they are a serial adulterer, an absent father, a sexual predator, a bully, a racist, etc. and still be elected president.

Announce you are an atheist? You wouldn't even be considered in either party.

We still have a ways to go.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Doesn't Look Like Anything To Me

The first season of Westworld is so brilliant. Anthony Hopkins, in particular, is utterly amazing.

If you haven't seen it, part of the story focuses on robots... or hosts as they are called. But they do not know they are robots. Whenever they encounter something that might reveal they are robots, they become confused... unable to comprehend the evidence... and therefore remain unaware that they are robots.

I encounter this frequently in political, philosophical, and religious discussions. I catch myself about to repeat a point I have already made to someone. When I do so, I recognize the futility of proceeding. Whomever I am talking to is unable to understand my point. Like the hosts, they have programming in place that prevents them from understanding. Conditioning prevents them from making connections.

And no... I do not begin to think I am above the same behavior. Having switched views on many perspectives, I am embarrassingly aware of my capability to resist evidence, for my thinking to become cloudy, to shun that which would reveal my error.

Reality is hard.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Evangelicals and Medicine

"Joni Eareckson Tada released from hospital, thanks God for 'marvelous' healing!"

This was the headline for an article over at The Christian Post.

I am glad this woman is feeling better but look at how it is framed, "she was released from the hospital- and thanked God for healing her lungs."

Not the doctors, not the nurses, not the specialists, not those woefully underpaid CNAs, not the decades of work by researchers to make that "healing" possible... nope, thanks goes to God (who probably would not have been able to manage that "healing" had she just stayed home).

This is a strange practice that Evangelicals tend to do only when it comes to the medical field. When the painters paint their house, they do not say "God painted my house!" When the mechanic works on their car they do not extol the wonders of God fixing their transmission. In those cases, they tend to give credit where credit is due. But when it comes to medicine, Evangelicals rarely fail to minimize or completely sideline the work of medical practitioners.

I suspect this has to do with Evangelicals frustrated relationship with science in general. Having to rely on scientists for their health care is a bit of a blow, so crowing loudly about "God" doing the actual healing works as a balm to the religious ego.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Which Jesus Do You See?

I was watching my brothers have a conversation about the nature of Jesus on Facebook the other day. It became clear to me at that moment that they do not worship the same god. Their gods share a name, but the similarity pretty much ends there. They, as Mr. Wednesday put it, "see a different face when they close their eyes to pray".

I had previously accepted the explanation for these different takes on Jesus to be a matter of perspective. People can see the same movie and come away with different views of it. However, the more I become aware of the different sects of Christianity, I realize their takes on Jesus are truly different personalities. Much like James McAvoy in the movie Split, there may be one vessel but the personalities are distinct.

It makes me wonder if this is the real reason for the growth of Christianity in history. It certainly cannot be what Christians say about Jesus... because they say completely contradictory things. Rather, it was the franchizing of the name to anybody and everybody.

It is like when you go into a town and find a Pizza Hut that also serves Taco Bell. Their brands couldn't make it locally on their own... so they got together under the same roof. Similarly, I wonder if all the brands of Jesus would make it independently if they could not share the name? What would happen if they got to keep their view of Jesus, their history of Jesus, their teachings about Jesus... but they had to give him a different name. What if Jerry Fallwell's Jesus took the name Anton and the Pope's Jesus took Alan? Rob Bell's Jesus could be Brian? The United Methodists take Stan. The televangelists get to name their's Lou.

All of these folks have decidedly different gods. Most of them consider the others partially or completely invalid. Give their varied views flesh and blood and you would never mistake them for the same person.

So why do we call them by the same name?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Facebook Faith #58: God Brings Trials?

I regularly see my religious friends post on Facebook about the various trials they are going through... and how God has brought these to teach and refine them.

If one has an all-powerful deity, I suppose that is the most charitable way you could frame your deity's involvement in the pains and sufferings of your life.

I used to think that way, but I left the faith life about 8 years ago. Here's the thing - the same amount of fortune and frustration occur in my life now as ever did before. Cutting God loose in my life did not end "blessings" nor remove a "hedge of protection". Life is moving on pretty much as it always had.

But honestly, I do find the hard times easier to bear without an extra set of footprints in the sand. I now know those valleys are just... life. And life happens. There is no deity causing this calamity to instruct me or to punish me. I no longer add stress to the situation by obsessing over the tea leaves, trying to figure out what God is trying to show me or where I went wrong to allow the Devil this foothold in my life.

I also find taking the focus off of unseen spirits has given me a greater appreciation for the people traveling our common path. THEY are the ones who help me through the trials. THEY are the ones who offer me kindness.

Believers often wonder how those who do not believe in gods have hope during the hard times.

Personally, I have found it much easier.
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