Sunday, January 31, 2016

Atheist goes to adventist hospital class reunion.

Sydney Adventist hospital nursing class of 75 reunion. 

It was a mild and warm evening as I drove to the Stuart’s point adventist convention center on the north NSW coast (in Australia). Forty years had passed since we started our nursing course, more than ⅔ rds of my lifetime. Nothing had changed, everything had changed, I started, as did most of the class, as a pious adventist christian, now I am an atheist activist, how will this weekend go?

I was nervous, very very nervous, I had missed out on a lot of sleep worrying over this, I even broke out in shingles ( was it stress induced, unmasked? I don't know). On my own, all the more so without a “God”, long lonely drive up from Newcastle airport to the sleepy little coastal town. The convention center is a ways out of the tiny town, I arrived just after sunset … it was their sabbath, no longer mine. The lovely receptionist handed me the key to my rental cabin, no business allowed, payment would happen later, adventists don't do business on their sabbath. Hungry, back into town to buy fish and chips ( it was a fishing village after all ). They wouldn't approve I expect.  Also the center apparently bans alcohol on grounds. Handy tip : nice little tavern that sells take away drinks. I would see red that weekend, but only in a nice way, red in moderation shall we say.

    There they were, those same gorgeous wonderful people that I had started my first nursing course with. How many were still sdas? Did it matter? News was out, I’m an atheist, might have been my Darwin - evolution  T shirt or some other news on my various apparel. mostly met with ”oh”or simply ignored, not a problem ( yay, what a relief)! Goody, now we can just get along, and we did. Lots of hellos and hugs, all good, very good. The occasional person would start up with evolution is a lie, or let me pray for you or wouldn't you rather go to heaven etc  It did feel like a time warp, they were still them ( mostly) yet I wasn't the me that I was 40 years ago. Stood out like a sore toe I did. Secular was the flavour for the most part, how are you? Are you married? How are the kids? Has life been good to you? Plus there was coffee, phew, caffeine withdrawal off the cards.

In retrospect I needn't have worried, apart from the occasional prayer before a meal , said ahem on behalf of all of us … I had to announce “I abstain”, and my Evolution Shirt photobombs it was pretty darned good. A few came up to me and said they were still christians but no longer adventists, others said they weren't religious. Did “God”come between us? I don't think so.

Stuarts point convention centre  

Sydney adventist hospital

( first draft, i may or may not edit / addit)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tim Costello's talk to Sunday Assembly

I'm good with all the live better, help often, stuff that Tim seemed to agree with. That's great and I thank him for it. However he messed up by finishing off with a mini sermon. He gave some points for why he believes, and for me, that went down like a lead balloon. Tim believes because: 1- because the universe is big. (Seriously? It is not evidence that there must be a god, it certainly points in no way to his specific version.) 2- because he has joy in his life. ( pardon me while I use an expletive. FFS that takes the cake, because we don't have his god we can't have joy? our joy is deficient?). I was still happy to here him talk, he is a good speaker. Interesting that Katie was his neighbor at one time, and an ex member of his church. I think Tim fundamentally misunderstood the audience.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Year without God ... And then?

Now for the sequel to Ryan Bell's "Year without God" . 

Perhaps the previous year was more of a year of exploration of whether or not there be a god? Maybe it was largely a year without the trappings of "God"? I suspect that this year might be the first actual year without God in the sense that Ryan's ( tentative) conclusion is that he does not think that there is a god. 

It seems that the reaction from some christians, especially seventh day Adventist christians is laced with much more vitriol than him merely daring to question their belief set. An article in an official sda publication "Adventist Review" seem to me to be very condescending, ignorant and maybe even arrogant . The author seems hobbled by dogma , all his points contra Ryan  are underlined / accented with bible texts. 

For me, my year of questioning, discovering, thinking my way out of religious belief was interesting, invigorating and scary. 'Twas the year after that was my worst. The sense of loss etc, as Ryan said (in the last part of the video connected to his "Year without god article here"  ) - this, I found very depressing, my year after god was gut wrenchingly awful. It has improved for me. My five years an atheist - only in the last year has it really sunk in on all levels. The right thing intellectuals , emotionally etc. For me, the world  as it is, without magic imaginary beings ie authentic. I think it is past time for at least the aspects of some religions that lead to harm - to be at an end.

I suspect that Ryan's  year without "God" 
has just begun.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Five star rating for this priest from this atheist? ...Yes

It was ... what's out the front that got my attention. Those signs.
I want to start out the new year with my first blog post as a positive one - and yet I worry that this might come across as blasphemous to both some Christians and in a sense to some atheists.

In the ocean, nobody can hear you scream ( apologies, pic link not embed) Bold red ( and black)  letters,  perhaps written in blood as per Nietzsche. Topical, relevant, important, clever, helpful perhaps. I could agree with this sign indeed almost all of them. I followed the signs - and then decided I wanted to meet the man.

Me with my proudly evolved atheist T shirt holding Rod's book "Plan B attitude" wearing the gosford anglican parish "Team Humanity" wristband. 

Earlier in the year I had attended a couple of "Sunday Assembly" meetings, a so called (wrongly) - atheist church. I noticed their "radical inclusivity" approach, believers and non believers are welcome, doesn't matter, just be good people etc.  I followed links from Rod Bower's signs to his website and noticed ... the same thing - radical inclusivity. Again, believers and non believers welcome. I wanted a chat with this man, something going on here, something ...special.

The day was very hot, I had done a lot of traveling. I had a bad migraine. This was my one chance to meet him that year before I had to travel a long way back home. My head - killing me, dont go, but ... I must. I did. I walked into the parish grounds wearing my mildly provocative though perhaps vague "A" for atheist T shirt. Is Rod here now? ( I had pre arranged to meet, we exchanged messages, Rod even gave me his personal mobile number !). Into his office, yay cooler than the scorching sun. We chatted, I was not sure what to expect, I had already surmised he is a great guy and does good work - but what does he think theologically speaking?

We chatted for ages about the state of the world, how to make life better for others, what was important in life etc. The solid emphasis on being a force for good on planet earth, helping humanity - just wonderful. Our theological differences just seemed not to matter anymore. The honesty, the depth of caring for people, just awesome, a highlight of my visit to New south wales, a highlight... of my year. I had nearly fell off my chair a few times in his office in shock / surprise at his thoughts. I thought I had taken up enough of his time so I wound up the chat. He asked if I wanted a coffee. They have cafe facilities there, yep, yes please. Just make my cappuccino strong and large please. How much? on the house. I said thanks heaps and sat down quietly in the grounds to ponder.  I was on the verge of tears ( even as now writing this ) - then he wandered down from his office and we chatted again, not me barraging him with questions, I was questioned out. Just a chat, again, wonderful. I told him about the radical inclusivity thing, i asked if he would honour me with a pic in front of his sign, together - with me. He offered and then did change the sign letters for me. His lovely wife Kerry took the pic. I still had a headache, somewhat eased post caffeine and codeine.  I had planned a big smile for the pic but was worried that the heat and headache would need me to force a smile. No, no forced smile, no fake grin - natural, real, genuine.

In my life I have gone through theism with evangelical zeal , then a year of ( awful) de conversion then some evangelical atheism. Now, after five years an atheist I have moved away from that. I see myself as  post atheist. Maybe we really can meet on the grounds of making life better? Maybe post atheism & post theism is the same place?

Rod Bower ***** - Anglican priest - Gosford Anglican Parish
5 star rating from many theists. 5 star rating from this an atheist. Beat that!

See abc news clip

"Deeper issues in life" ? I loved how he went direct to "what kind of society do we want " etc wonderful emphasis on people, I can relate to this.

See also

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How Education Affects Adventist Ecclesiology (and reaction).

How Education Affects Adventist Ecclesiology

by Richard Winn  from the  Senior College and University Commission. 

Please read the pdf as linked above direct from source. (8 pages, brimming with insight).The article is by Richard Winn referring to "tectonic shifts" in the context of seventh day adventist educational institutions in north america.

A personification as it were of tectonic shifts is perhaps embodied by Ryan Bell, he was an academic at an SDA educational institution and - has shifted from current SDA views, from pastor to now "weak atheist".  Consider reading his blog yearwithoutgod.

Adventism is being put under the spotlight especially now that Ryan Bell's  "Year without God" concludes.  Ryan was a seventh day adventist pastor who left the church, he has been getting international attention and perhaps by proxy the SDA church is being spotlighted? Can the church hold onto outdated ways of thinking? Has it already moved on, at least in part in sda academia? What follows is a guest post another ex sda pastor, my friend, clever guy and all round good human being. please enjoy.

Guest post follows, with thanks by Glenn Weare.

This is a very interesting article. He is basically saying that many thinking Adventists no longer believe in the flood story as told in Genesis. They no longer believe in creationism, and hence, presumably, the importance of the 7th day Sabbath. They no longer see the Bible as some kind of guide book. But because SDAism is their comfortable social context they remain in the church and downplay the need for these old SDA doctrines. I am very happy for SDA's to do this. These are the 'liberals'.

The problems arise when traditional SDA's don't like what they are seeing in SDA institutions of higher learning and in the products of these institutions who are teaching their children or preaching in their pulpits. These traditionalists rightly perceive a threat to their God given church and launch attacks on the people and institutions they see as creating this threat. Thing is, these people, though in my view dead wrong, are consistent in saying that the liberals are 'of the devil' and should be opposed, sacked or whatever. They see themselves fighting on the side of God against Satan. Perfectly understandable from their frame of reference!!

But when these traditionalists take up their cudgels against the liberals, the latter complain and denigrate the former. There has been and will continue to be much blood letting and pain and hurt for people on both sides of this battle. Liberals say they are staying in the church to reform it from within. That sounds very noble. Good luck with that. I know some who have become very pessimistic about that prospect after some very painful experiences.

A further problem is that liberals have to go around being very careful as to what they say and to whom they say it, because they do not know who they can trust not to ‘dob them in’. I have tried to get a straight answer on some of the contentious issues from SDA academics - resulting in lots of fancy footwork and dissembling. There is a real problem with integrity here, when people cannot be open and honest about what they really believe.

And then, what is the point of trying to make the SDA church just like other liberal churches, which would appear to be the object of the exercise. Other churches already exist with their extensive real estate and extensive administrative structures. Why duplicate these things when the world is in so much need of resources to help the poor and needy.

My answer is to let the traditionalists have the SDA church. After all they would seem to have the most legitimate claim to it. If you don’t like it, get out and join forces with an existing group to achieve the ends you believe in. Why can’t people, or why don’t people just leave when they find they don’t accept traditional SDA beliefs? I have my thoughts on that and you may have some too!!

Just expect a lot of pain and hurt to continue!!


Ryan Bell's Year without God - negative comments from Christians.

/Husband who told his wide, "For a year I'll act like I'm not married to you," decides not to get back together with her.  Duh. What a douche./

Today I received this comment (above) from a Christian Facebook friend - it was his response to the Ryan Bell story. The gentleman who posted this I had always seen as a moderate christian, generally one of the nicer ones who I interact with. He has always come across as honest, caring, open minded etc.

In regards to an article  I am trying to understand how christians really do see the Ryan journey? For example as above -the marriage analogy - is it a betrayal, a separation, leaving an actual being? My response  would be :  a marriage in most countries requires evidence that a potential spouse actually exists in order for a real marriage to be conducted . Or : Perhaps a closer analogy would be a person who claims to live with an imaginary spouse? Maybe in order to claim welfare benefits ? I really thought that a tiny minority would respond to Ryan's journey in a harshly negative way. I wonder how many would have been happy for him to go through this and then conclude that there was a God and then cheer loudly? Thinking, questioning etc is just fine as long as you reach our conclusion that there is a god and it is our version etc? arghh

Another FB friend said - / your marriage is with a real human being not a mythological being of which there has never been a scerrick   of evidence. The two things do not equate and to make that accretion demonstrates lack of logical abilities. Then to call someone a douche based on your own faulty reasoning is a bad reflection on you and not on someone with the courage to journey into reason./ 
What do you think?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Mobius Dick - Eric Hovind froths his coffee.

Call me, Starbuck. Some days ago- never mind how long precisely- having little money in my purse - I ordered a cappuccino, while my name is Eric I asked them to call me "Jesus is lord", that way I can force my religious agenda on the innocent Taco Bell worker.

Mad creationist Eric Hovind is at it again. This time frothing at the mouth even before he gets his lips coated in  delicious chocolate sprinkled milk froth. This revolts me to my core, I'm still digesting this. Something about making others say and think what Hovind wants them to think . Obnoxious, making others do his proselytizing for him. Preach in a church all you want, go ahead, you have my atheistic blessing. Do not preach in somebody else's food and coffee shop. Never, ever cajole, force other people to speak for you.  Bad enough forcing others to listen to you, Eric, but making them preach for you? Distasteful in the extreme.

Is this temporary  metaphorical cloning ? Taking apparent control of another's mind even if for a little while , reeks of what Kant emphatically disapproved of. Making another person a means to your end . In a word ... Dehumanizing.

"Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago". ( from Moby Dick last sentence) . Ironically Melville , or at least Ishmael in the book were also creationists yet not of the obnoxious variety. This mobius dick loops back on itself, keeps coming back with new iterations of stupid.

Thanks to Hemant Mehta aka "Bob" at the coffee shop.