atheism

All posts tagged atheism

Bound

Published February 7, 2016 by April Fox

In their tiny cells

with the paper-thin walls

they ask their gods for favors

supplicant and pale, shivering in the heat,

painting pictures of the dollar signs

that fill their heroes’ heads

shackled to their plastic smiles

the ass chases the carrot.

In their tiny cells

with the paper-thin walls,

they write

poking holes in the barriers

with sharpened sticks and crayons

taping over them

praying to get out

They bite their tongues

and swallow them

they are washed in the blood of the christ.

In their tiny cells

with the paper-thin walls

they strip their clothes and wait

palms up face down,

tied up

in the corner

with candy floss and threads of spiderwebs

bound by the belief

that they cannot save themselves.

IMG_9087

On Being Open-Minded, and the Freedom of Belief

Published July 17, 2015 by April Fox

If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I have some pretty strong feelings about equal rights, and people attempting to hide their hate behind their religion, and people using their beliefs as some kind of free pass to treat people as horribly as they want to without repercussion. Any time I try to make a valid, logical point about those things, I get hit with the intolerance spiel: “I thought you were supposed to be open-minded. What happened to not judging other people? You need to respect everyone’s beliefs.”

We are tangled up in here: confusing the idea of being open-minded with the act of being complacent, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron in itself.

Fact: action and belief are two very different things, and being open-minded doesn’t preclude you from finding fault in things that are harmful.

Your right to believe in something does not negate others’ right to exist with the same rights and standard of living that you have. If you act in a negative manner based on your beliefs, there is nothing closed-minded about those who tell you to stop it.

It doesn’t matter what you believe; if you are doing something that hurts someone, you need to be told to stop.

When a person who identifies as Christian is molesting children, and people say that it’s wrong, when we are horrified and angry at his actions, we are not attacking his beliefs. We are not persecuting him for being Christian. We are not even vilifying him for believing that his victims look more like sex toys than human beings. We are observing his actions and we are judging him for them. That’s okay. That’s how society works, in theory. We protect those among us who can’t protect themselves. We don’t protect those who are doing the hurting because of the internal dialogue that drives their motivation, whether that be the voice of God or Jesus or the son of Sam. We judge: we make the determination about whether what someone is doing is right or wrong.

When your beliefs tell you that someone is less than you are because of their color or race or sexuality, their gender or their eye color or their socioeconomic status or anything else that they cannot control, you are allowed to hold that belief. Belief is an internal thing. You can believe anything you want. You can believe that the world is flat, or that the moon is made of dank goat cheese, or that the ghost of Bea Arthur* wants you to paint your cat’s toenails chartreuse every other Thursday after giving him a bubble bath in the sink. But see, if you put your cat in the bath and then try to get anywhere near him with that nail polish, chances are–unless you have a really strange cat, which is totally cool–that you are going to come out of that situation with quite a bit less blood inside your body than you had before you started, and your cat will be quite traumatized. That’s a consequence of your action. If you just believe that your cat would look fine in chartreuse but realize that your taste is probably not the same as his, and that he likely doesn’t share your affinity for bubble baths no matter how fresh and clean he might smell afterwards, and you realize that washing and painting your cat would be a total dick move, you are likely to stay intact and your cat will continue to do his cat things happily and at peace.

That is what tolerance is about. That is what defines the difference between action and belief. Being open-minded isn’t going “Hell yes, let’s bathe the cat and paint his toes!” just because someone else believes it’s a good idea. Being open-minded is going, “Hey, let’s see how this belief might play out… yeah, you keep on believing that, but let’s not actually act on that, okay?” Being open-minded is accepting that other people believe that cats should be bathed and polished. It’s not going along with feline spa day just because it corresponds with someone’s belief.

And when you have two conflicting beliefs that have led to two conflicting paths of action, it is up to us as civilized human beings to look at those two paths with open minds, and to judge each one based on a very simple criterion: Is this action harmful to someone else? And if the answer to that is yes, then that is the wrong path. Not based on belief, or religion, but on compassion for our fellow human beings, and what should be a collective desire to do less harm than good. When you are causing damage to someone’s person, their ability to feel happiness, their ability to enjoy life, or their ability to embrace the same civil privileges you have, and you are doing so based on your personal belief, you are harming them, and that is wrong.

*Bea Arthur would never really do that, I don’t think.

Half-assed Elegy

Published October 8, 2014 by April Fox

Shy at first,
(the way you are when you begin to realize
that your invisible friends
and Santa Claus
aren’t real
but you make your lists and set out
extra teacups
anyway)
I was hesitant to speak
mumbled out into the dark
and empty room
the echo I imagined
shut me up and turned
to live-to-dead telepathy
thinking pointed thoughts toward the earth, the sky
the universe which sat
petulant
refusing
to respond

I thought perhaps
a translator might help,
dialed 1-800 numbers, spoke with
aging housewives wrapped in tattered terrycloth
chain-smoking cigarettes and lying
that they knew the dear departed

I sought evidence of soul recycling,
a familiar turn to a feline eye
or the cast of a particular note
on the breath of a dying bird
clutched between the jaws
of a tame domestic short-hair

For the hell of it,
(having packed away the tea set
left the stockings and the reindeer food
ashes on the hearth)
I raised my voice in a half-terrible
supplication mimic
asked the one they said would save me
for a sign that they were there

Too busy killing babies
and enchanting football games
the silence soothed me
like a love song

And the ground devoured them.

church.

Published December 10, 2012 by April Fox

you-
face pressed against the breast of your
oppressor
blind eyes rotting out
melt beneath your lids, the muscles
atrophied from lack of use your
voice gone hoarse from screaming
absolution
fear
salvation
-draw your strength from narcissistic weakness
codependent
you are
mental patients
not parishioners.

drink from the cup of the pure
blood dripping, chin wet
and white
feeding life into the floor
beneath your feet

you can’t even breathe
to save your life.

command.

Published September 26, 2012 by April Fox

and then there’s this
conversely
bleak grey screens flashing
disco balls of whatthefuck
screaming
buy me feel me hear me
fuck me
leashed together, shackled minds
stay in step
don’t
fall
out
let the great ones take you down the path to
everything is
a-ok
wash your feet in the bloody lamb, facing east
and pork’s a sin and
you were SAVED from the chance to
acknowledge your sins
give yourselves some credit,
loves
points for creativity
the universe provides for
god’s will and what it doesn’t
you don’t need
even life.
shanti om, hallelujiah
pass the judgment
to your left.
black feet, black teeth, bellies fat with hunger
maggots teeming on the faces of the children in the trash cans
one meal a day and get your head blown off for freedom
to own oil
and half the world
pro
fucking
life,
right?
you, with your signs screaming love’s a sin and
go to hell
which of these poor sad condemned souls
started as a cell
you sanctified?
right hand on your heart you pray
to gaudy demigods
i pledge allegiance
to the state
(craven images, and all-
did you forget?)
you can’t make this shit up.

evangelism

Published April 16, 2012 by April Fox

I was looking through some old stuff, and came across this. I don’t usually like what I write, but I like this one. It’s a little less vitriolic than you’ve come to expect from me on this topic, I think. Anyway, here it is… I hope you like it.

Evangelism

if you were small
and scarred like raindrops
something soft might lift you up
and carry you away.the night is bright, for as dark as it is
tonight-
some strange blue that never was before
and there is something honest
in the way the trees have all
but stripped their color off
in the way they stand ready
defensive
and weak.

everything looks two dimensional
everything looks like
a game that people play
to make you think
there’s something real
out there.

they came around today, sensibly coiffed,
flowered dresses and pastel suits
parked on the side of the road
in front of my house
holy tomes tucked under fleshy arms
bottoms waggling as they shuddered
under the weight of their own convictions
from house to house-
they did not stop at mine.
i would have let them in,
watched as they squirmed, uncomfortable

at the idea of drinking the tea i offered
terrified of poison
at the hand of an atheist
wondering
in the backs of their minds
if jesus christ might really be
transsexual.

i didn’t notice their leaving
but i was sad to see them go.

perhaps they could have taught me
how to make the two, no, the one
dimensional real
perhaps they could have held my hands and prayed
their way into some sort of
absolution
perhaps, kneeling at my feet
good little minions, followers, peons for the righteous cause
they would have seen the truth
and the light
and cast off their skins
and breathed in the sunlight
and tasted the freedom of knowing
that they are alone
and that they alone
can make things happen
and that they alone
are alive
and no burning bush or zombie son
of the invisible man in the sky
is ever going
to save them.

The New Christianity: Bigotry, Hate and Oppression, All in One Convenient Package

Published February 22, 2012 by April Fox

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of religion, and have issues with fundamental Christianity in particular. Now before you close your browser and bathe yourself in holy water to cleanse your spirit of the evil I’ve already infused in you via my previous posts, hear me out.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: I’m not anti-Christian. In order to be anti-Christian, I’d have to be biased against an entire group of people based on one common factor. Since I’m not an asshole, I don’t tend to judge individuals that way. I’m simply anti-anything that encourages people to hate each other based on who they love or what they look like or what god they choose to believe in. I get why my general anti-religion stance comes off as anti-Christianity; I live in an area where Christianity is the most popular religion, and much of the idiocy I encounter is perpetuated by Christians. Trust me, if you’re being a dick based on your Jewish or Muslim or atheist beliefs, I’ll call you on that too.

Religion doesn’t have anything directly to do with god, or gods, or the lack thereof. Religion is about a group of people linked by their shared belief in their interpretation of their version of god, and the official documents and decrees that have to do with that interpretation of god. Religion is about following a set of man-made rules ostensibly set forth by whichever interpretation of god that particular man happened to believe in.

Religion, to put it simply, is just a political movement with the word “god” in it.

I’ve been accused of brainwashing my children by not forcing them to go to church and indoctrinating them with beliefs they’re too young to understand. I’m “brainwashing” them by sharing my own views with them-even though if those were Christian views, I’d just be “doing the right thing, raising them up in the way of the Lord!”-and discussing other beliefs with them, so that they can see what makes sense to them and make their own choices. The horror, people. The fucking horror! Before you know it, they’ll be choosing their own socks and asking for sugar cookies when I set out chocolate chip. And from there, good lord, it’s chaos. Anarchy! The whole world will go to, well, hell, I guess-if we start brainwashing our kids into thinking for themselves.

Go tell a fundamentalist Christian that she’s brainwashing her kids by not telling them that atheism is a valid and logical perspective. Go ahead, I dare you.

I do believe in certain aspects of certain religions. The “judge not” and “love thy neighbor” parts of Christianity are awesome, although those bits of wisdom seem to have been forgotten by many professed Christians. The Baha’i faith teaches that everyone is one and should explore their own beliefs. I love that. Meditation, self-reflection, loving nature: all are things drawn from and fundamental to certain religions, and they’re all good things. I take issue with the arbitrary rules and the notion that everyone should believe and act the exact same way. And I have a HUGE problem with any group, organization or individual who uses fear and threats to make its members follow its rules-especially when that kind of mental cruelty extends to children. I try to teach my kids appropriate behavior based on kindness, compassion and consideration. Don’t sing at the top of your lungs while your brother’s trying to do math, because it makes it hard for him to focus. Don’t hit, because it hurts. Don’t steal, because it’s not nice to take things that aren’t yours. Some branches of Christianity teach kids from a very young age that they were bad from the time they were born, and if they don’t follow the rules ostensibly made by some invisible man in the sky, they’re going to burn in hell.

Put on your censor glasses, folks, it’s about to get ugly.

What the flaming fuck on a pulpit is THAT? You don’t threaten kids into submission, and you damn sure don’t punish them for something that’s beyond their control. I don’t care if it’s wetting the bed or some mythical chick biting an apple, that is NOT OKAY. And then, THEN you teach them that how they behave isn’t really important because they’ll never be good enough anyway; all they have to do in order to go to the Magic Happy Place in the Sky after they die is say they believe in something?¬† I’ve actually heard people say “Being a good person isn’t enough.” Sorry, but being a good person is pretty much the ONLY thing that’s enough. If a parent holds his child to impossibly high standards, so high that they can’t possibly be met, and then punishes him when he fails, that’s considered abusive behavior. Tell the kids there’s no way they can live up to the standards of some false entity, and he better say he believes in this thing that he can’t even comprehend so he doesn’t end up burning up for eternity, and that’s just fine Christian parenting.

Doing what’s right based entirely on the potential consequences isn’t called being a Good Christian, it’s called being a sociopath.

I don’t have a problem with parents taking their kids to church, if that’s part of their family culture. Some folks do yoga together, some veg out in front of the TV, some go to church. No biggie. My son goes to a church group because his friends go. My daughter has gone a few times because she wanted to spend some time with her father’s girlfriend. It’s not the end of the world. And I get why church is a popular activity. People like to hang out with like-minded peers. We’re a socially needy species, generally, and while I’m far less inclined toward social interaction than most people, when I do want to be around people, I go where I know I can find others like me and who will be accepting of me. Besides the social aspect, church can fill other beneficial roles. My daughter attended a church, briefly, that focused a lot of attention on community service. That was fantastic. I can see how it could help people who are feeling lost and alone, too. But when the core beliefs of that church are rooted in hate and bigotry, I have a problem with your religion. When you’re talking about people of other faiths believing in the “wrong god,” I have a problem with your religion. When you’re teaching from a text and ignoring the parts that don’t support your hate and bigotry, I have a problem with your religion. When you’re teaching kids not to think and not to question but to blindly claim faith in something they’re too young to understand, I have a problem with your religion.

Not all denominations are like this. I’m not naming any particular ones, because I love people that belong to those sects and don’t want anyone to feel like this is a personal attack. It’s not. It’s an attempt to get people to think. It’s an attempt to make people see exactly WHY I have a problem with certain aspects of certain religions.

Bottom line: if I’m “anti-Christianity” for disliking the fact that people perpetuate fear, hatred, bigotry and oppression under the guise of being “Christian,” I’ll wear the title proudly.

And to all of my friends and family of every faith who have proven to me that the extreme examples I cited above are in no way indicative of every member of any religion, thank you for being who you are. I love you. Faith is not the problem. Aligning yourself with ugly beliefs and practices in the name of that faith is.

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