Thursday, August 20, 2009

sarah haskins (funny girls, strong girls, smart girls, I LOVE YOU)

A friend of mine forwarded me some of comedian Sarah Haskin's skits

when I googled Sarah Haskins I found that there's also one who's an elite triathelet:

To be really cool, I thought I'd try to find a brain surgeon who is also named Sarah Haskins. There may actually be one out there, but I left off simply finding the youngest brain surgeon in Briton, Gelareh Zadeh (who is also a mom.)

Anyhow, from someone who grew up always implicitly knowing that it was the guys who were the funniest, the strongest, the smartest... THANK YOU!!!

you say that like it's a BAD thing

[also posted at The Exponent]

Atheism- the absence of belief in the existence of deities.

At a large family dinner a few years ago, the conversation turned to the topic of one of my cousins (not present at this gathering). It had been discovered that this cousin no longer believed in the church (!!) which revelation brought about a general round of disappointed head-shaking. But that was not all, the informant continued, "he told me he no longer believes in God!" Gone was the disappointed head-shaking, in it's place was a profound sense of horror.

In my heart (a heart already secretly dealing with questions about the church) I also felt that sense of horror, my own hidden fears that I might lose God.

As manifest by the reactions of my family, the label "Atheist" is a slur, a tragedy, an almost incomprehensible failing, a fate worse than death (well, okay, maybe that's going a bit far, but you get the idea, right?)

[My trusty Webster's dictionary at home has as it's first definition of Atheism; UNGODLINESS, WICKEDNESS. ]

It always intrigues me when I see an individual address a predominately believing audience and refer to their own atheism. It doesn't happen very often. When it does, I try to speak to them about it afterward. Frequently they share the small reservation they feel about stating such a thing out loud in such a setting, there being such a negative stigma attached to the label amongst believers, but that they felt it should be included in their remarks anyways.

I, for one, am always glad they do.
Because, you see, I don't really believe in God anymore, and I'm having to confront my own reservations about admitting this to myself and my peers. (I was recently asked to give a lesson in relief society and was strongly tempted to say "Sure! But I'm atheist, do you still want me to teach the lesson?" But I didn't. I just graciously declined the invitation. Maybe someday.)

I have been delighted to discover the non-theist community is extremely diverse, full of good works, purpose, hope and joy. To discover, as Phil Zuckerman puts it, "Lack of theism does not render this world any less wondrous, lush, mystifying, or amazing."

I have an absence of belief in the existence God.

Which is very ironic because I have always been and still am a spiritual person. But it's not tragic and that's the point I'm trying to get across. There is incredible room for personal growth, for wonder and awe and profundity and mystery within the realms of non-theism. There are amazing people in this world, contributing members of society, friends, spouses, parents etc who do so much good even though they don't believe in God. (Funny isn't it, the impulse to add a caveat about how a person can be good without believing in God.)

I sort of wish I could go back in time to that family dinner and respond to the pronouncement that this cousin was atheist with something like "you say that like it's a BAD thing" and try to get a discussion going that perhaps distilled some of the negative associations with the label.
Maybe next time. :)
Meanwhile, I'll take this opportunity here, on this blog, to get a discussion going.

This is not a post to promote atheism and I want to avoid here any bashing or proselytizing of either theism or non-theism. I'm just curious what your own experiences with the label have been.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Break The Vessel

I encountered an amazing short story the other day.
Break the Vessel by Vylar Kaftan.
It is speculative fiction with some rather gruesome and erotic aspects to it, just to give you fair warning. (Also a warning, this post may give away spoilers. So read the story first if you are interested. It's not long.)

Break the Vessel in it's self is fascinating but I was particularly struck by a strong resonance between the two main characters and my own experience as a Mormon and questioning Mormonism.

On the one hand, Numa, our narrator. A ranking priest in the Temple assigned specialized duties to Sun God. Faithful, a believer, fully immersed in the the doctrines and in the role that has been assigned to him. His role is intended to make the audience recoil just a bit, we would maybe even consider it a vile disgusting duty Numa must perform. But how blessed, how honored Numa considers his lot. At several points in the story, Numa ponders the deep doctrines of his particular role, fascinated, faithful, and in awe.

So much about Numa reminds me of younger self as a member of the church. Heavily involved in service in the church, preoccupied and obsessed with the doctrines, with the spiritual. Mind oblivious to the gaps, the inconsistencies, the contradictions therein.

Then, there is Aki. A God in his mortal incarnation. With no memory of his former Glorious Divine self, but raised from birth with the knowledge that he is Aki, the Sunlord. The Chosen one with a vital role to play for his people.

But Aki comes to a point where he can no longer ignore the gaps, the inconsistencies, the contradictions.

He has questions.
A conversation between him and Numa is so familiar to me:

What if I am not a god?

What?” I ask, shocked beyond propriety.

What if there has been a mistake?

No mistake can be made.”

How do you know I am Aki?

It is faith, Sunlord.

But blind faith wasn't a satisfactory answer for Aki.

And his quest for knowledge only revealed the boundaries imposed upon God by his own Temple and High Priests.

Anyhow... It resonated. Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

out out damn spot!

(John get's the credit for the title to this post.)

So, I'm not the best homemaker, but I swear I did mop the floor. Occasionally.
Yah, so I was mortified when I went to spot clean something that had spilled on the floor and saw the contrast of the light clean spot against the dingy brown of the rest of the tiles. (I had sort of forgotten that our tiles were light colored, the gradual darkening of the earth tones just didn't register on my radar.)

So me and hubby spent about 4 to 5 hours together on our knees the next Sunday, scrubbing each tile by hand (800 sq feet? not sure, but it was a lot).
OMG, we have a whole new floor!
And a determination to make it stay that way!
Anyhow, I guess this is sort of my two cents to add to the housework/gender-divide topic that Mel and Adam have already posted about. Typically, I do more of the cleaning (probably why the floors were so bad). But in that instance, my lover was down on his hands and knees, up to his elbows in it with me.
That was nice. :)