Monday, December 28, 2009

my god delusion

Just a few quick thoughts while I'm in the middle (pg 155) of reading Dawkin's The God Delusion; I like biology! Wow! And the cosmology stuff the Dawkin's just finished delving into, seriously, my son's favorite book to read at night one about the universe and it was freaky cool to suddenly have a few more interesting tidbits of information to impress my kindergartner with.

But when Dawkins gets into the scientific proofs about why God could absolutely not exist (ie, a being so complex as to have 'created' the universe is even more highly improbable and raises more questions than the creation of that universe in the first place and the problems with declaring God un-research-able and outside the realm of science etc etc etc ...) he sort of loses me. And I'm trying to figure out why.

Maybe it's because I see how absolutely futile his arguments would be, say, in a dinner table discussion with my family? Or maybe it's because I still have my own lingering theist/deist biases that continue color my thinking? Or maybe it's connected to Dawkin's tendency to be a bit dismissive of believers (believers making up the vast majority of my friends and family). Perhaps it's because my own loss of belief in God went through an entirely different route than pure scientific rational inquiry. Still thinking on it. And enjoying the read in the meantime.

Anyhoo... random but related, while doing a bit of reading for my last post I stumbled upon Answers in Genesis (a website Dawkins references several times in his book) and did a good amount of eye-rolling as they try to pander to a female base by raging against Darwin's sexism, because Christians are ALL about equality of the sexes, so poo poo to you Darwin. Yah. Whatever.

Friday, December 18, 2009

weaker vessel

Dusk had turned to dark but I still had 7 miles to ride before I was home. The bike path I was on took it's usual detour down, away from the road, into a stretch of isolated desert. I've ridden this route so many times, but this is the first time in the dark. There's two figures riding BMX bikes towards me. They are not kids. Men, tall, deep chests and thick arms. As we approach each other they see that I am a woman and begin to whoop, yell and cat call. My mind is flashing through the facts: I'm on a faster bike and have a head start, could they catch me? How far till the path comes back to the road? If worst comes to worst then what?
We pass each other in a second and they continue on their way. I ride home.

Caroline recently wrote two excellent posts on the economic vulnerability of women who are mothers and those posts really resonated with me. What has also been on my mind is physical vulnerability. I can rage and get all pissed over cultural and societal flaws that put women at a disadvantage. I must also admit I sometimes feel miffed at the biological evolution that made women smaller.

So, I collect heroes among female athletes, Mia Hamm, Paula Radcliffe, Dara Torres, Cynthia Cooper, Lynn Hill, etc. I collect them in fiction: Buffy, Black Mamba (aka The Bride), Xena, etc. I love this blogger who talks about women, risk assessment and being able to say "fuck off" with feeling. I look inside myself and cringe at how much I've internalized society's message that women should be accommodating, and I admit my own conflicted feelings about raising girls in our culture.

Meanwhile, that ride in the dark occasionally crosses my mind. What if worst had come to worst? I've started taking a bus that carries me in light and company across those isolated stretches till the days grow longer again. Also, I'm going to buy a can a mace.

I wish I could wrap up these thoughts with a nice neat "and that will solve everything".... but ya. Whatever. So instead, I will wrap up these thoughts, hit the publish button, then do a round with my speedbag. Because that always makes me feel a little tougher.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The Christmas season weighs heavy on me.
It brings out all my contradictions: A joy for giving gifts fighting against a need for frugality and a resistance to the pervading sense of commercialism and obligation. A love of celebration warring with the heavy cultural Christian overtones. Conflicted feelings about my 6yr old's adamant profession of belief in Santa (though he has informed me that he DOESN'T believe in elves) and, in particular, feeling that the time investment expected for the festivities weighs heavier upon the woman in the household. (Am I nuts for thinking this? Does anyone else feel that way?)

But... as of today, the extent of our Christmas shopping/wrapping etc is finished. (I take that back, I am putting some finishing touches on a few sock monkey's for the little guy. But still, close).

So now, I'm hoping to sit back just a bit and meditate. And read. I've done some interesting reading so far, like how Christmas is, in fact a Huge Value Destroying Hurricane (which prompted me to add Scroogenomics to my reading list). Also, regarding Atheists, eat drink and be wary about the land-mine strewn war zone that the season can be for non-believers (which prompted me to add The Atheists Guide to Christmas to my reading list). (Plus I fell in love all over again with Dar William's song The Christains and The Pagans.) Most recently, I was delighted to find an intersect of commonality where a letter from an atheist was well received at the Christian Advent Conspiracy, it was encouraging to see mutual hands of friendship extended there.

Speaking of Advent Conspiracy, since their cause is drinkable water, I'd like to point you to Melinda's Christmas wish list where you can help her reach the goal of $1000 to fund clean water projects in developing nations. I like how she puts it: "I have everything I want and need.
If you want to get me something for Christmas, please donate to my campaign for this organization. You would put a real smile on my face. :)" You're awesome Melinda!

here's the promo video for Charity:Water

and here's the promo video for Advent Conspiracy

Okay, that's all. Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

belief and dissonance

(2011; cross posted at The Exponent)

"...I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck..."
American Gods pg 394 (Here's her full monologue, because it's brilliant. )

Yes, I'm thinking about belief and dissonance again. It really hasn't been on my mind a whole lot lately (don't believe, haven't been attending, therefore no dissonance. I like it simple that way.) But questioning type stuff is so hardwired into my DNA that I read a few blog posts and it's all back to the front of my mind again. That, plus a conversation with a dear friend, in which she admitted she believes. As much as she wishes she didn't.

It started by following an @Mormonblogs tweet for Jeff Lindsay's post where he claims to have the answer for Mormon's who have hit up against cognitive dissonance. His answer; it's okay to re-evaluate/test religious beliefs just like we re-evaluate/test science. Except not "the One Being who is the source of all truth." You must not re-evaluate "Him". So there you go, don't leave The Church. Easy. [Bringing to mind this post, which asks (in a round-a-bout sort of way) why, exactly, the existence of God is Unquestionable?] Personally, Richard Bushman did a superior job to Jeff in showing sensitivity to the extreme emotional rupture that is caused when a sincere member is faced with the discrepancies between historical fact and white-washed church manuals. His own answer (speaking to church leaders): work hard to help the struggling soul regain some semblance of trust, if not in the church manuals, at least in the community. Lisa at Feminist Mormon Housewives recently asked Mormons (in a very cautiously worded post with lots of requests to be respectful and thoughtful) what things about the church they have conflict with. There are currently 150 comments and counting. There is always John Dehlin's extensive essay "How to Stay in the LDS church after a Major Challenge To Your Faith" (which includes a good break down of many of those Major Challenges). But my favorite is Madame Curie who gets at the heart of the two main reasons people leave the church (hint; it's not so they can go get drunk/high/laid/rob a bank). I think my believing friend falls into the first category: the church's stance on various social issues is at such odds with her own conscience it finally causes the rupture. I guess I fall more into the second category: a "truth-driven" gal driven nuts (and away) by church doctrine/history.

So there you go.
Now, how about you? Because some of my deepest burning questions about people are how they reconcile or do not reconcile their various beliefs and practices. The believer who doesn't attend, or the non-believer who attends faithfully. Or what finally broke the camel's back (so you left), or healed the camel's back (so you went back) etc etc etc...
Cuz I'm curious that way.

(I realize the majority of these links are more about staying in the church, feel free to share if you have helpful accounts about leaving.)

women making art [or not]

Because so many thought Eva Hesse was just "Tom's wife".

Because so many thought Esther Broner was just "Bob's wife".

Because Sister Butterfly felt the impact of LDS women who can only introduce themselves by their husband's and children's accomplishments and Mraynes discussed the issues of wives giving up their own ambitions to support their husbands.

Because I just spent two hours cleaning the kitchen, and holiday preparations have kept me from my work for almost a whole month. Which isn't the same thing as being identified as merely DH's wife, but seems to fit as I currently feel my identity being absorbed by housework. And it also triggers all my own insecurities about even claiming I have "my work" (who the hell do I think I am?)

(Perhaps also exacerbated by an approaching birthday and a sense of having accomplished not much.)

So I'm just feeling kinda lousy lately. But it might also just be the weather.

i hates housekeeping