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Archive for October, 2008

My oldest daughter no longer believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.

You might ask why we introduced the concepts at all, and that’s a fair question.  Mostly because I grew up with them and I like to think that the only time in life that fantasy and magic is allowed in such a big way is in childhood.  Just by the very nature of growing up and life experience, the magic fades from such childhood experiences.  I kind of knew for the last year or so that she was going along with it for my younger daughter’s sake, and she admitted as much.  She wasn’t disappointed at all, and it didn’t make her the pariah for being the one in her school to burst the bubble of all the other kids.

I know I’m bowing to societal norms, but I also think that it can serve as a jumping off point for future discussions of what people believe and why they believe.  And also to look at something and try to see what is really the truth.  Just because I don’t believe in god (and my husband is a doubter as well, but more hedging his bets), doesn’t mean I want to do away with Christmas.  There is something about the lights and the music that time of year, that if done right can be downright magical and full of wonder.

When my daughter informed me (out of earshot of her sister) that she knows that Santa isn’t real, I tossed in god when asking about the tooth fairy and whether she believes they are real.  Tooth fairy – no.  God?  She said “I don’t know”.  And that was good enough for me at the time.  She was reading and I didn’t want to distract her, but I did want to get the topic out there, even a little bit, so if or when a bigger discussion about it comes up, I can encourage her to try to figure it out for herself.  I’m sure that the question will come up eventually, since a good number of her friends go to church (or temple), but a surprising number don’t attend church at all on a regular basis.

Which reminds me that a while ago, my mom found my brother’s old Dungeons & Dragons starter kit and my oldest daughter glommed onto it.  She has a friend that she plays with and another girl played with them for a little while until she mentioned it to her uncle, who informed her that it has demons in it.  This girl was also homeschooled for a while and now goes to a private school.  This is in a relatively affluent neighborhood with top-notch schools.

My daughter explained to her that there are no demons, just dragons and adventure, but the damage was done.  Now my daughter doesn’t play because they need at least one more person to play and the other girls at her school are so not interested.  Who knew that 5th grade girls were so….girly.  She will probably have to find a boy to round out their group.

I am so proud that she finds D&D interesting and didn’t just dismiss it as a “boy thing”.  Unfortunately, her tendency to do that does not make her social life any easier.  She has seemed to get a reputation among the more girly of the girls as being a bit of an odd duck.  She dresses more tomboyish and other than her pierced ears, isn’t very girly at all.  Which is just fine with me.  Along with a lack of religious indoctrination, I did my best to avoid any kind of gender indoctrination as well.  If she wants a toy that is in the “boy” section, I don’t discourage it.  Her sister, on the other hand, without any help from me, is all about the dolls.  OMG, the baby dolls.  They outnumber us 5 to 1.

This year, I can have someone help me wrap the gifts from Santa for my youngest daughter (and even pick them out).  And it’s not as hard to keep the secret from one when I have one of them in on it.  It’s a bit of a relief actually.  One of the things I didn’t consider when starting the whole Santa thing was how long it was going to last.  Who knew that it would be nearly 10 years before I could spill the beans?

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Fringe Groups

Reading an older review of Religulous today, the reviewer said that Maher purposely picked those wingnuts on the fringes of their respective religions to interview in order to stack the deck in his favor.

As possible (and certainly probable) as that is, I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate.  When most religions nowadays are characterized by their respective wingnuts, I think we need to pay attention.  When one person, especially one person that holds a place of power in their respective place of worship, thinks a certain way, you can be certain that there are many others that agree with them.  That would put them not so much on the fringes of their religion, but smack dab in the middle of it.  And really, who better to talk to than the “man on the street” to get a feel for what is going on with religion today.

Granted, the places Maher went to talk to people (hello Holy Land Theme Park) are going to attract a certain element of people to them, so in that regards, the deck is stacked.  But isn’t it stacked by matter of fact if you really think critically and skeptically about religion in general?

Completely off topic, but why do I have nightmares of “A Handmaid’s Tale” whenever I think of McCain and his odious air quotes when talking about women’s rights in regards to reproductive health?  Is it maybe because he basically said that the government of each state should decide whether or not a woman should prevent or terminate a pregnancy?  The last thing I want is a male dominated government all up in my uterus thankyouverymuch.

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Funny, but as the fact that I’m an atheist has less and less importance in my life (meaning that I don’t think or obsess about it as much as I used to, it’s just part of who I am), I must be getting less careful about hiding that part from my loved ones.  Although I’ve never come out and said to anyone (apart from my husband) that I don’t believe in god, I usually say that I’m not religious.  Looking at that statement, it’s pretty obvious to anyone of decent intelligence that it’s code for “I’m a doubter”.

Anyway, I was shopping with my mother the other day and happened accross an interesting Christmas tree topper (yes we celebrate Christmas, but as a secular holiday, not a religious one).  It was a peacock.  Not a star, not an angel, but a bird.  And not a dove either.  I thought it was kind of neat.  My mom, in a little acknowledgement that she definately knows her daughter, says “That’s perfect for you little miss atheistic”.

It was said in a light teasing, totally accepting way, and I was floored.  It’s not like I’ve gone to great lengths to hide what I believe (or don’t as the case may be), but I haven’t even come close to advertising it either.  Typical of my family though, unless I made it an issue, it will never be talked about in mixed company or at family get-togethers.  Our family avoids deep discussions like the plague.  It’s not even a conscious decision, it seems as though it’s just the way my family operates.  Like only pleasant things will be discussed.  Plus I have a few family members who can’t take anything seriously and feel the need to make a joke out of every little thing.

Still, it had been a long time since my mom showed so much insight into who I am in such a simple little sentence.

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My husband and I went to see “Religulous” last night.  We were two of maybe 10-15 people in the theatre.  It could have been the time (mid-afternoon on a Sunday), but I was hoping there would be more people in the theater.  I found the movie very enjoyable, but then again, I am the target audience I suppose.

Bill Maher wasn’t quite as, hmmm, what’s the word I want…..asshole-y as he sometimes can be on Real Time.  The questions he asked most of the people are good questions.  One that he posed, which I felt was interesting, was what if the story of the bible (or Jesus, or Adam and Eve, I can’t remember his exact wording) was switched with, say Jack and the Beanstalk, when you were a young child, would you believe that one was a fairy tale and the other was the word of god?  Bill seemed a less militant than he appears on his show.  On Real Time, I often get the feeling that he asks a question and doesn’t give a shit about the answer because he already knows what answer he believes is true.  In Religulous, he seemed like he genuinely wanted some intelligent discussion on the questions he posed.  Sadly, a lot of the answers were of the nature of “Well, I know the bible is true because it is the word of god”.  Which isn’t really an answer at all.  How do you know it’s the word of god?  Because the bible tells us.   Oh, ok, glad that was cleared up.

Bill Maher makes it a point to say that he is on the side of doubt.  He never says he’s positive there is no god, but he doubts there is.  It’s splitting hairs, but it really makes a difference in whether he comes off as arrogant or genuinely interested in finding answers.  As most people have already mentioned, his primary target is Christianity, but Judaism and Islam don’t get ignored either.

Trying not to give anything away, but I liked that he was impressed with an answer someone gave him, mostly because it gave him pause and he said it was the best explanation he had heard anyone give to the question he posed.  Also funny was when Bill Maher was the one to walk away from an interview, not the other way around.

I would recommend that  you see this movie, and bring a friend.  The laughs are better when they can be shared.

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My mom told me, after a conversation with my SIL, that not only is my brother voting for McCain, but somehow it came out that they listen to the Focus on the Family broadcast.

On top of that, I really, really wish I could tell you what my nephew’s email address is.  Suffice it to say his indoctrination is taking very well.

It seems that I’m getting closer and closer to revealing my atheism to certain family members.  I haven’t yet, but I’m wondering if the next time I visit with my brother and his family, if something doesn’t pop out after listening to how they talk about god and religion.  Unfortunately, that’s probably what will happen.  I’ll probably be provoked (unknowingly by them) into revealing the full extent of my heathen-ism.

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