The Religion Thing, Revisited

Back in the very early days of this blog, I did a series of "Behind the Blogger" posts on various topics, to give the reader an idea of who I am. Well, that was the basic idea, but really, that type of post is almost more for me than anybody else. It is a time to get introspective, and look at why I believe what I do. I just do it on a blog rather than in a journal. Why not, everything is public now, right?

On one of my recent regular walks, I got to thinking about the topic of religion. The subject is not one that takes up much of my time in a normal day, week, month or year. One of the advantages of being an atheistic agnostic (more on that in a moment), is the amazing amount of time that is freed up. It is extremely rare, for example, for me to consider what God might think about anything.

My 14-year-old, questioning self.
So anyway, while on my walk, I started thinking about my original Behind the Blogger post, "The Religion Thing." I decided it could use a revisit. What follows is a heavily edited, largely revised version of that original post, with four years' worth of experiences to add to it.

I was raised vaguely Christian. What I mainly mean by that, is that we celebrated Christmas and Easter. For a short time, Mom took to reading Bible stories to my brother and I, but no more often than she read from Edgar Allen Poe or other authors. She later told me she couldn't very well sell me something she didn't completely buy herself.

Several years passed, with little more religious influence other than saying a brief "grace" at the table. Even my maternal Grandmother who was allegedly religious, rarely said much about it.


When I was 14 years old  I realized I was. . .what? An atheist? An agnostic? I didn't have a real clue yet, but I knew I wasn't a typical "believer" in much of anything. So, I started on a mission to find out. What I did know was, the more I read the Bible (and I think I read most of it that year), the more it didn't ring true to me. I was in confirmation classes with some friends at the local Lutheran church. But as the actual confirmation approached, I had to bail out. Even at 14, I just couldn't go through with a religious ritual that I had no faith in.

My pastor was very nice. That
wasn't the problem.
Two things added to this growing disbelief: freshman Earth Science, and my budding awareness of my sexuality. While I was learning the scientific origins of the earth, I was supposed to believe the ancient (and ludicrous) Genesis story. While I was reading supposed biblical admonishment toward gay people, I was hopelessly head-over-heels for one of my friends in confirmation class!

So I pursued atheism. I subscribed to American Atheist Magazine, and watched the local Cable Access show by the Columbus chapter. I learned a lot there too, and didn't find a lot to argue with. But the Atheists seemed just a tad too hardline to me. They were as rigid and outspoken about their beliefs as the overtly religious people I'd encountered. I might not believe in any particular religion, but I had no way of proving there was absolutely NOTHING that was supernatural . I'm way too open to various paranormal ideas: ghosts, telepathy, telekinesis, poltergeists, UFOs, Bigfoot. . . OK, I don't believe in all that, but I'm not ready to reject them all out of hand, either. I do feel like there is some mystery out there, and I don't know what it is. And neither do you. I've settled on the term atheistic agnostic. It's as good a description as any.

I am atheist as it pertains to religion. I don't give serious thought to the realness of any religion I've ever heard of. I'm agnostic toward those other things I mentioned, preferring to believe that some of those "paranormal" things could exist, but that they certainly have (currently unknown) scientific explanations.
 
Mom says she feels bad that she didn't expose us to more religion. I don't. In fact, I'd like to thank her right here, right now. I'm rather proud of being a generally decent person, with a conscience that isn't guided by the promise of heaven or the punishment of hell. I really believe that people who are only "good" to stay out of hell aren't really good people at all--and they scare me.

My (non-) religious outlook has of course affected my views on politics, and life in general. While I do my best to respect others' religions, I don't get much of that respect in return. Many influential people are trying their damnedest to insert Christianity into law. To hell (literally!) with atheists, agnostics, non-Christians, the lot. The previous presidential administration has probably done more than any other to entwine religion and politics. And not just religion, but a specific, evangelical form of Christianity. The GOP candidates on deck aren't any different. They claim it was how America was founded, but it was not. This as much as anything is what has earned them my antipathy.

The most PhotoShop-ready photo I've ever seen.
Religious people often think that non-believers are actually belligerent believers, who reject god. That--while insane--is also wrong. Outside of forums like this one, or if it comes up in conversation, I spend no time on religion.  I honestly give no thought to the possible legitimacy of any religion. I find the very idea absurd.  Here are just a few of the problems I have with religion in general and Christianity in specific:

• The earth, sun and stars being set into the firmament, which has windows to let the rain in.
• The story of Jonah and the whale.
• The story of Noah's ark.
• The idea that the creator of the universe cares what we do with our body parts.
• The salvation story (God killing his son, who is part of himself, so that he can forgive humans. WHAT?).
• Blaming humanity for the actions of Adam and Eve.
• Just about everything about Adam and Eve, particularly punishing innocent beings for being fooled by a talking snake.
• The talking snake.
• An all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, all good (but sometimes bad) eternal, invisible, intangible being.
• The fact that this amazing superhero deity has the generic name "God."


Michele Bachmann and her
totally not gay husband, Marcus
Now, we have religious people, clerics, televangelists and politicians who are dead set on legislating Christianity into our country's laws. The new, radical (not particularly Biblical) abortion laws, and their desire to make homosexuals second class citizens are just the two most prominent examples. Some people like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have ties to Dominionism. Dominionism has as its goal, the conversion of the world to Christianity. This means taking the Constitution, shredding it, and replacing it with Christian law (and don't believe the "Judeo-" part they sometimes add on).

In my experience, the more overtly a person declares their religion, the more likely they are to be utter creeps. Televangelists (with their many scandals) are a good example of this. Which is why I get a little shudder of schadenfreude whenever one like Ted Haggard meets his fate.

But the biggest problem with being an atheistic agnostic is that we don't have a pride parade. Sure, we probably won't have an openly gay president for many, many years. But it will probably come sooner than an avowed atheist. Funny thing, though. I moved to Las Vegas almost 17 years ago. And the makeshift family that I've managed to build is majority non-religious. Most outright atheists. Unlike me, most of them come from very religious upbringings, largely Catholic, some Mormon. That is a journey that is more courageous to my way of thinking. That's a lot of baggage to dump.

So here I am, a double-minority (atheistic agnostic, gay) and a double majority (white, male). Some of my friends and family might laugh when I say I can pass for straight, but I can certainly pass for Christian, and have. This does put me in a unique position for people like myself. Whereas the homophobic bigots on FreeRepublic.com can only speculate about the motivations of gays and atheists (and boy do they get it wrong), gays and atheists and gay atheists live in a society where the default is heterosexual and religious. They don't know us unless we announce ourselves. And no matter how much they don't want us to do it, I think we need to start announcing ourselves.

Frank and Louie, the 12-year-old 2-Headed Cat

Is it just me, or does the face on the right (camera left) look slightly evil?
Image from CBS.
Very cool. Good kitty! Ahem. . .kitties!

[Excerpt]


Two-faced cat turns 12: Meet Frank and Louie

Some cats show many moods, but what if they show many faces? Meet Frank and Louie, a cat with not only two names, but also two faces on one head. Born 12 years ago, the cat - known as a Janus cat - was not expected to live long, the Associated Press reports. . .

Read more: CBS

Again brought to you by Stupid Monkey Planet.

Horrors! Cannibal Woman May be Paroled!

Maybe her husband's favorite mean
phrase to yell was "Eat me!"?
Okay, I know some guys are pricks. They're abusive, and nasty, and deserve almost whatever is coming to them. Almost. But I'm having a hard time getting on board with this lady's husband being so abusive--in a less than 30-day marriage--that it drove her to eat him!


[Excerpt]


Omaima Aree Nelson, ex-model who killed and ate her husband, is now seeking parole

. . .Prosecutors say Nelson killed her husband of less than a month, on Thanksgiving Day. She cooked his head and his hands. She then attempted to get some of her ex-boyfriends to help dispose of the rest of the body parts. . .


Read more at: CBS News

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for the link

Sarah Palin Said She'd Decide by September 30

Just a grifter all along. Image from source, TPM
Unless Sarah Palin wasn't telling the truth, she's not running for President. Which is a little sad, frankly. I think it would have been stupendously entertaining. And if she'd gotten the nomination, I think it would have been the surest way for Barack Obama to win re-election.

[Excerpt]

Red State Reminds The World That Palin Said She’d Make A POTUS Announcement By Today

Conservative blogger Erick Erickson over at Red State is having a lot of fun with what they’re
calling “P-Day.” That’s their term for the last day of September, the final day Sarah Palin has said
would pass without her making an announcement one way or another about her presidential
campaign. . .

Read more at: TPM

The Scariest Collection of Humans in One Place, EVER

I'm not shitting you, either. . .



If you--like these people--are an absolute freak, you can hear them spew their mindless drivel at the Value Voters Summit. But you'll hate yourself if you do. 

The Onion Freaks Out Twitter Users

This could be used as proof that we're getting dumber. The Onion,a satirical website that has been around for frickin' ever tweeted some "breaking news" about Congress taking a bunch of school kids hostage. And Twitter users freaked out. It's not like Poe's law, where an extremist's views are indistinguishable from a parody of those views. This is The Onion, people!

[Excerpt]


The Onion Live Tweeting Congress Hostage 'Breaking News'



Satirical news publication The Onion broke the news on Twitter about an hour ago of a hostage situation involving Congress, but the story is not true and a number of Twitter users are saying it's not funny.

It all started with this tweet:

@ TheOnion : BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.
That was quickly followed up by this: "BREAKING: Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen. . ."
Read more at: Huffington Post

Thanks to Stupid Monkey Planet for the link. 

Andy Rooney, Out of Context

Did you ever notice that 60 Minutes star Andy Rooney is a bit odd?

Donia Hamed is Miss World Egypt 2011. She will represent Egypt in Miss World 2011 in London, England on November 6, 2011


Miss World Egypt 2011

Donia Hamed (23, 1.79m, Cairo) is Miss World Egypt 2011. She will represent Egypt in Miss World 2011 in London, England on November 6. She was selected by the Face to Face Organization, license holders of Miss World in Egypt.


Special thanks to Ahmed Khorshed!

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.timesofbeauty.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Johanna Sansano is Miss Monde Saint Barthélemy 2011 - She will represent Saint Barthélemy in Miss World 2011


Miss Monde Saint Barthélemy 2011

Johanna Sansano (21, 1.74m, Gustavia) is the first ever Miss Monde Saint Barthélemy 2011. She will represent Saint Barthélemy in Miss World 2011 in London, England on November 6. St. Barts Queens is the new national preliminary of Miss World in the Caribbean island under the direction of Moana Sarann Luu.

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.timesofbeauty.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Susana Nogueira was crowned Miss Terra Portugal 2011 (Miss Earth Portugal 2011) on September 27, 2011

Susana Nogueira Crowned Miss Terra Portugal 2011

Susana Nogueira is Miss Terra Portugal 2011/ Miss Earth Portugal 2011

Susana Nogueira was crowned Miss Terra Portugal 2011 or Miss Earth Portugal 2011 on September 27, 2011. She will represent Portugal at the 2011 Miss Earth pageant in Thailand this December. The Potuguese franchise of Miss Earth is handled by Alibaba Eventos.

Courtesy of Grand Slam Pageant.

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://beautypageantnews.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Photo of Miss Wyoming USA 2012 Holly Allen and Miss Wyoming Teen USA 2012 Sydeny Graus


Miss Wyoming USA 2012 Holly Allen (L) and Miss Wyoming Teen USA 2012 Sydeny Graus (R)

Miss Wyoming USA 2012 Holly Allen and Miss Wyoming Teen USA 2012 Sydeny Graus


source: http://www.voy.com

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://beautypageantnews.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Vesna Jakimovska was crowned Miss Macedonia 2011 on september 28, 2011at the Roger Piano Music Hall in Skopje

Miss Macedonia 2011


Miss Macedonia 2011SKOPJE, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - Vesna Jakimovska (20, Struga) was crowned Miss Macedonia 2011 at the Roger Piano Music Hall in Skopje. She will represent the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in Miss World 2011 in London, England on November 6. Nikolina Kuzmanova and Stefani Stojceska finished second and third, respectively.



Special thanks to Krish Lee and Zara Sabeen

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.timesofbeauty.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Vesna Jakimovska Crowned Miss Macedonia 2011



Vesna Jakimovska was crowned Miss Macedonia 2011 at the Roger Piano Music Hall in Skopje on September 28, 2011. She is 20 year old and will represent the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in Miss World 2011 in London, England on November 6. The first runner-up was Nikolina Kuzmanova; the second runner-up was Stefani Stojceska.




Courtesy of the Times of Beauty.

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://beautypageantnews.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Agnieszka Miszkiewicz, Miss Poland is the newly crowned Miss Bikini International 2011

Agnieszka Miszkiewicz Crowned Miss Bikini International 2011

Miss Bikini International 2011 Agnieszka Miszkiewicz:

Agnieszka Miszkiewicz, Miss Poland, has just been crowned Miss Bikini International 2011. The first runner-up was Miss Peru Marie Giselle Vilma Patron, the second runner-up was Miss Ukbekistan Ekaterina Polyakova. The top 7 includes Australia (Miss Spring), Latvia (Miss Summer), China (Miss Fall), and Russia (Miss Winter).


Agnieszka Miszkiewicz Crowned Miss Bikini International 2011


The first runner-up was Miss Peru Marie Giselle Vilma Patron


The second runner-up was Miss Ukbekistan Ekaterina Polyakova

Special thanks to Chrishella Fernandez

Do click here to view more photos:

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://beautypageantnews.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

More photos of Miss Bikini International 2011 Agnieszka Miszkiewicz Crowning Moment

Miss Bikini International 2011 Agnieszka Miszkiewicz Crowning Moment

Photos of Miss Bikini International 2011 Agnieszka Miszkiewicz Crowning Moment. Agnieszka Miszkiewicz is Miss Poland for Miss Bikini International 2011. Her full name is Agnieszka Bozena Miszkiewicz. She is 18 year old and stands 1.72 m. She weighs 53 kg with the measurements of 88-58-88.










source: (Thank you and credits to
http://beautypageantnews.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Homophobes RELAX! Gay Charachters on TV Down This Year

Gay folk. Image from AOLTV.
It seems like you can't get into an online discussion about "the gay", without somebody making the argument that the "lamestream media" is pushing the "homosexual agenda" down our throats!  Well, I'm here to say to the homophobic bigots to just freakin' relax already. Even though the real percentage of the public that is gay is surely higher than the 1-2% the FReepers like to cite, we aren't being represented in prime time television in anywhere near our real numbers. So, please, STFU.

[Excerpt]

Number of Gay Characters on TV Declines


ABC's percentage is down to 3.4 percent of characters being LGBT compared to 2010's 7.2 percent.

NBC continues to decline. Only 3 out of their 154 characters are LGBT.

The CW features one LGBT series regular characters out of 67.

CBS also only has one LGBT character out 134 total series regulars


Read more at: AOLTV

Facebook Users Are About to Go Insane

Image from source, CNN
Of all the social media platforms, Facebook is the only one I feel I "get." LinkedIn is really new to me, but I understand that it's sort of a business Facebook. Twitter gets me excited when there is a live event like a debate or the Emmys. It's fun to read the real-time comments. But most of the time, I don't know what to do with Twitter. I apparently still have an account at MySpace, but I never figured out what to do with it, and now it is kind of pointless.

I'm actually amazed how many people get flustered or confused about Facebook. I think it's ridiculously easy to grasp. And every time they've made a change to the interface, the users have screamed bloody murder. Then they get used to it, and it becomes the new normal. But now, the Facebook users are about to be greeted by a radically different interface. And they're going to crap themselves over this one. Until they get used to it.

My viewpoint is, change is good. If it isn't good, it will revert, or become something else. If it doesn't change, one day it will look as ugly and dated as Prodigy, The Drudge Report and Free Republic.


[Excerpt]

You'll freak when you see the new Facebook

Facebook users, mark my words: You'll revolt when the site rolls out its new features in the coming weeks.

Facebook is about to completely change the way its profile pages look as part of the website's biggest redesign so far, and only a fraction of the website's 800 million users seem to have the slightest clue. . .


Read more at: CNN

 

Amazon Unveils "Kindle Fire" Tablet to Rival iPad

Image from CNet
Over the years, we've adopted new technologies with more and more monthly charges. My $50 cable bill swelled to nearly $200 when high-speed internet and cable phone are added in. I've got a $7.99 Netflix subscription that I can't seem to get rid of. I have a smart phone (as does The Other Half), which has pushed our $60 mobile phone bill to $120. It happens in stages. But my media charges are now up to nearly $320 per month! And now various companies are trying to convince me I should have a tablet computing device too? Bah!

Right now, I have a desktop PC and a Mac PowerBook, in addition to my 4G phone. Near as I can figure, the iPad, the new Amazon Kindle Fire, and other tablets are basically jumbo smart phones that aren't phones. Which kind of makes sense, since smart phones are used as phones only part of the time. But these pads are still very small. 7"? My phone is 4.3". My Mac is 15". I really don't need a middle step, and can't figure out why I would. And I'm certainly not adding yet another monthly fee. If I could figure out a use for it though, the Kindle Fire is priced right. As long as it hooks to wi-fi, maybe I'll check it ut.


[Excerpt]

Kindle Fire an iPad killer? Yes. It's the price, stupid


The company's new Kindle Fire tablet, a 7-inch touch-screen device powered by Amazon's content ecosystem and priced at just $199, may be an orange toApple's iPad apple, but I'd argue that it's an iPad killer all the same. . .

Read more: Cnet

Rick Perry, Comedy Star

This is one of the funniest things I've seen a long time (and that sadly doesn't include 2 Broke Girls or Whitney). Somebody dubbed words into Rick Perry's mouth, making him sound dumb. Dumber.  Dumber than usual.

Mister Earth 2011 will be held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on October 10, 2011 - Meet some of the candidates


Guatemala will host Mister Earth 2011

Mister Earth 2011 will be held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on October 10. Several candidates will compete in the adult and teen categories.

Meet some of the candidates:


source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.globalbeauties.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Mister Brazil 2012 - Dezico Custódio Junior from Conceição das Alagoas is Mister Minas Gerais 2012



Mister Brazil 2012: meet Mister Minas Gerais

The first Brazilian state to have elected its representative for Mister Brazil 2012 was Minas Gerais, and the winner was Dezico Custódio Junior, 26, from Conceição das Alagoas. The event took place in the city of Patos de Minas, and 20 candidates competed.

See more photos of Mister Minas Gerais 2012 HERE


source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.globalbeauties.com
http://misterbrasiloficial.com.br
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Mister Italia 2011 - Ciro Torlo is the winner of Mister Italia 2011



Mister Italia 2011

The new Mister Italia 2011 is Ciro Torlo, 24, of Torre del Greco, Naples. He won the title on Saturday in Alba Adriatica, one of Abruzzo’s “Seven Sisters” on the Adriatic coast.

Go to Beauty School for more.

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.globalbeauties.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Jabel Rodriguez Hernandez is the winner of Mister Tenerife 2011-2012 at the San Cristobal de La Laguna plaza in Tenerife on September 24, 2011



Mister Tenerife 2011-2012


Jabel Rodriguez Hernandez (22, center), who competed as Mister Gout de G, won the title of Mister Tenerife 2011-2012 during an event held at the San Cristobal de La Laguna plaza in Tenerife on September 24th. Jabel, who stands 1.90 m tall, will represent his Island during the Mister Spain 2012 contest.

The 1st and 2nd runner-ups were Mister Playa de las Americas (Emmanuel Bautista) and Mister Fecao (Achaman Hernandez), respectively. Completing the Top 6 were Mister La Orotava (Dailos Alvarez), Mister La Laguna (Ione Rodriguez), and Mister Adeje (Daniel Alfonso). 30 contestants competed in the event.

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://www.globalbeauties.com
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Lizeth González, the first runner-up of Miss Colombia Universe 2011, was crowned World Queen of Banana 2011 in Machala, Ecuador

Lizeth González was crowned World Queen of Banana 2011

According to the website Global Beauties, Lizeth González, the first runner-up of Miss Colombia Universe 2011, was crowned World Queen of Banana 2011 in Machala, Ecuador.



The 1st runner-up was Miss Germany, Johanna Acs. The other finalists were Misses Peru, María Gracia Figueroa, Venezuela, Jéssica Schell, and Canada, Elishia Sahota (Miss Photogenic). 16 countries participated in this year’s pageant.
The World Queen of Banana exists as an international event since 1985, and this is Colombia’s 6th title.

Special thanks and credits to beautypageantnews

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://freedom-guy.blogspot.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Photos of Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes in Singapore

Photos of Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes in Singapore

Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes visited the Ferrari pit at Marina Bay in Singapore and will watch Germany’s Sebastian Vettel become world champion for the 2nd consecutive year. She also posed in swimsuit at the swimming pool with other models.




Photo Courtesy of Missology, Miss Universe Facebook
Special thanks and credits to worldshowbiz.info

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://freedom-guy.blogspot.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)

House Democrats Ask Boner Boehner to Explain Support for DOMA

The badly named "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) is presumed to be un-Constitutional by the Obama Administration. But the John Boner Boehner-lead House of Representatives has decided to defend it anyway. But House Democrats decided to make it an issue. In a statement, they asked,

"As Members who believe that DOMA is unconstitutional and support the President’s decision to stop defending it, we believe that the law is not factually or legally justifiable and were interested in hearing what arguments might possibly be made in its defense."

In response, they got this (non-) answer:

"Following the Department of Justice decision to stop defending a law passed by strong bipartisan majorities in Congress, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group voted to retain counsel to defend the law." 

So, much like the past four or five GOP presidential debates, the questions are not really answered.

Read more at: Washington Blade

Get Christie on Speed Dial, NOW!

Hilarious.

Found at: Joe.MyGod.

Kim Rivalland from Cape Town was crowned Miss Earth South Africa 2011 on September 26, 2011 - She will represent South Africa in Miss Earth 2012

Road to Miss Earth 2012

Kim Rivalland from Cape Town was crowned Miss Earth South Africa 2011 on September 26, 2011. She will represent South Africa in Miss Earth 2012 pageant. Mbali Makhathini, Kirsten Dukes and Kirsten Carls were the runners-up.

Miss Earth South Africa 2011 Kim Rivalland and her runners-up

On September 2, 2011, Dominique Mann was selected to represent South Africa at the Miss Earth 2011 pageant, which will be held in Bangkok Thailand this year. She was one of the runners-up in last year’s MIss Earth South Africa competition.


Special thanks and credits to Miss Earth South Africa beautypageantnews

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://freedom-guy.blogspot.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)

Sara Sieppi was crowned Miss Suomi 2011/ Miss World Finland 2011 - She will represent Finland in Miss World 2011 Pageant

Road to Miss World 2011

Sara Sieppi was crowned Miss Suomi 2011 after Pia announced her decision to resign. Sara is 19 year old and stands 5’8”. She will represent Finland in Miss World 2011 Pageant.




Special thanks and credits to Miss Suomi & beautypageantnews

source: (Thank you and credits to
http://freedom-guy.blogspot.com/
and all sources for the information and pictures)