Category Archives: Personal
For those who don’t know, I’m engaged (kind of) to Shayrah Akers. She’s the most brilliant and wonderful person on this planet. She also is the parent of a nine-year-old girl. Her name is Kylie.
I consider Kylie to be my stepdaughter, even though I’m not married to Shayrah (and probably won’t be until I at least get out of college), and Kylie considers me to be her stepfather. Kylie will openly refer to me as such when talking to others, and I do the same.
Kylie is a kick ass kid. Honestly. I know many parents say that about their kids (well, maybe not the way I just put it, but whatever), but Kylie is completely different from any child I have ever met.
I hate children. I think they are some of the most annoying, and not to mention expensive, things on this planet. Kylie is different.
Kylie is very brilliant when it comes to many things. She was home schooled by the most brilliant and wonderful person on this planet, so that makes sense.
Anyway. Kylie was apparently over at a friend’s house today, and they were playing on a trampoline. You can probably see where this is going.
I don’t know what exactly happened, as I wasn’t there to see it, but she apparently was doing a kart-wheel on the trampoline and either fell on her arm weirdly or bent it in a weird way. I don’t know exactly.
Point is, Kylie hurt her arm pretty badly.
Shayrah called me to tell me this, and we both soon rushed over to Kylie’s aunt’s place (as Kylie currently lives with Shayrah’s sister, which is a whole other story I won’t go into) and were ready to take her to the nearest emergency room just in case it was as bad as it sounded.
I could go into how we don’t have insurance for Kylie and how terrible the healthcare system in America is for not providing that to its citizens. I thought about writing about that, but I’m not going to.
I will say though that while we were considering taking Kylie to the emergency room, we found out that just admitting her and taking one X-ray would cost around $250. To actually have some of the most minimalist insurance would be about that every month. That is money that Shayrah and I just don’t have.
Anyway. The entire drive over there, I kept asking myself questions in my head. Is she okay? What’s wrong with her? How badly hurt is she? Did she break her arm? Did she fracture something? Is a bone sticking out?
I can’t speak for Shayrah and her thoughts, but my mind was racing with all of these questions and possible worst case scenarios the entire drive there. I was sort of freaking out a bit over this.
When Shayrah and I finally got there, we both ran into the house. What did we find? Her sitting there on the couch watching Phineas and Ferb, her arm in a sling.
She was obviously upset and still in some pain. I could also see that her eyes were a little red. Shayrah told me when she called me that Kylie had been crying, which was an immediate sign that something was really wrong. Kylie does not cry when she is hurt unless it is really bad. She just does not.
Shayrah inspected her arm after taking it out of the sling and some bandages that her elbow was wrapped up in. The bandages were obviously done by someone who did not know what they were doing, as her arm was put into an awkward angle that does not help when someone has an injured arm.
We were told by Shayrah’s sister that Kylie’s friends had put the bandages on and given Kylie the sling after it happened. We also found out that Kylie had a secondary falling. She had apparently tripped over the child barrier that Shayrah’s sister uses for their eight-month-old and had fallen on her arm, as she was unable to stop her fall while in the sling.
It seems that the kind intentions of her friends had caused her more harm.
After further inspection, we found that no bones had been broken. No fractures or anything of the sort. We came to the conclusion eventually that Kylie did indeed hurt herself badly (twice) and that she may have some bruising but that she was going to be fine.
To cheer Kylie up, while I was going out to get an icing/heating pack at the pharmacy, I bought her some of her favourite kind of ice cream. Apparently she likes cookie dough ice cream.
After staying over there for a few hours, Kylie seemed very much cheered up and her arm already seemed to be improving. She could bend her arm normally, even though that came with some minor pains, and she even pointed at something that was on her uncle’s shirt when he walked in the room with her hurt arm.
Kylie is currently on the mend. She won’t be doing PE anytime soon at school, but she appears to be fine. Also, Kylie lost her first molar while she was eating the ice cream, which was an interesting experience for her.
Tonight really scared me, even if it was just a false alarm. I may not be Kylie’s father. I didn’t raise Kylie from when she was a newborn. I’ve only known her for about two years, but she is my daughter, albeit stepdaughter, and I love and care about her very much. I want to raise her well so that she may grow up to be an even more awesome person than she already is.
Hopefully there will be more scares like this in my future as her stepdad. Hopefully not too many though.
A random black cat just walked in front of me while on my way to class. Isn’t that supposed to mean bad luck or something for the rest of the day?
What if a cat walks in front of me and is not black, is that good luck, or does it have to be a white cat (kind of racist)?
What if a cat walks in front of me that is white but dyed black, is that still bad luck?
What if a cat walks in front of me that is black but dyed white, is that still bad luck or does it become good luck (again, kind of racist)?
What if I perceive the cat to be black, and it is actually brown?
What if it is actually black, and I perceive it to be brown?
What if the black cat walks backwards or is with a white cat (yay, diversity)?
Then again, what does the colour and location of a house pet in relation to my location have to do with how well I am going to do for a certain allotted amount of time (breaking a mirror somehow means seven years of bad luck)?
At what point is this superstitious nonsense going to be recognised as what it is?
A bunch of secular conferences are happening over the next few months. Here is a somewhat comprehensive list of all the ones that I am (possibly) going to, so if you would like to meet me at one of these, now you know and can stalk me like the creepers you all are.
If you can find a conference that I didn’t list that I might be able to go to, feel free to leave them in the comments with a link. If you are holding a conference and would like to have me speak, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org (if you’re with the Secular Student Alliance, you can also request to have me speak at one of your meetings, but only in the state of Texas).
ReasonFest: April 20th and 21st. University of Kansas, Kansas City.
CFI’s Student Leadership Conference: April 26th-28th. Los Angeles.
These two are kind of short notice, so I’m not sure if I will be going to them.
FreeOK: June 22nd. Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City.
SSACon Vegas: June 21st-23rd. University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Yes, Vegas is the same date as Oklahoma. I’m going to have to choose which one. I’m erring on the side of FreeOK though, mostly because it is closer, and because I could always go to Columbus for an SSA convention a few weeks later.
SSACon Columbus: July 12th-14th. Columbus, Ohio State University.
Apostacon: September 20th-22nd. Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center, Omaha.
Global Atheist Convention: Brisbane, Australia. This one won’t be for another year (or two), but I was actually invited to go speak at this one. Yes, I got invited to go speak in freakin’ Australia!
Shayrah and I decided to go to church yesterday. It is the first time I have ever gone to an actual church, at least, according to Shayrah, since Kingdom Hall (what Jehovah’s Witnesses call church) doesn’t count apparently. It was also my first time in a so-called mega-church, so two cherries popped in one. It was Shayrah’s millionth time in a mega-church, since she grew up with them in Sacramento.
It’s called Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, right outside of Dallas near DFW International Airport. It is the third largest mega-church in the United States with about 24,000 weekly attendees, and it’s about a stone’s throw (is that a phrase people still use today?) away from me.
When this place was being built, I remember thinking that it was going to be just another warehouse. Then I saw the giant cross in the centre of the building being built. Seriously, it looks like a warehouse. In high school, I had a German exchange student, and he looked dumbstruck at the thing when we passed by it on the way home from the airport. He asked, “That’s a church? It looks like a warehouse.”
I drive by this place every day on my way to work. This was my first time ever going inside. The closest I have ever gotten before was dropping my younger sister off there once (she was only going to hang out with friends, as my sister is an… apatheist, I guess?).
As soon as Shayrah and I drove up, we noticed that it looks more like a mall and had the feeling of a concert (they even had security directing traffic). They had these very welcoming all-glass doors with a book store and coffee shop entrance to the side. We went to the coffee shop to get a drink and muffin before the 11:30 service (we went late, because we were sleeping in like godless heathens).
The coffee shop looked like a normal coffee shop you would walk past in a downtown area or in an actual mall. It had modern tables, paintings on the walls, television screens, etc. I felt like I was in Starbucks. Then again, I don’t go to Starbucks ever, but this place was far cheaper than Starbucks, which is probably very on purpose.
The book store looked like the spitting image of a Barnes & Noble. The only difference is that all of the books were, obviously, Christian books and other materials. They even had an entire section dedicated to books and DVDs by Ed Young, the founding pastor of Fellowship Church, who reportedly makes over $1 million a year.
It looked even more like a mall, because about 99% of all the people there were not in their so-called “Sunday’s Best” clothing. There were t-shirts, jeans, hoodies. We even saw some bikers in leather jackets and biker boots. I think I was the only young person there that looked presentable.
Growing up in Kingdom Hall, we were always required to look good and wear nice clothing. The typical “Sunday’s Best.” I, for some reason despite Shayrah’s advice, decided to wear a dress shirt, dress shoes, and slacks. She looked like she was going to the mall. I guess I actually expected people to look nice in God’s house. Shayrah kept saying, “These places say, ‘Come as you are’ to attract more people.” It makes sense, from an advertising standpoint. Don’t make people think that church is some fancy thing you do once a week that requires you to dress up.
After eating our muffins, Shayrah and I went into the auditorium to see the service. First thing I noticed was that everyone had their arms in the air in that stereotypical “Jesus-come-into-me” way. The music that the band, which was on its own level above and behind the main stage, was playing was very powerful and had this kind of rock style to it. Shayrah pointed to the singers on the main stage and said in my ear, “That was me at one point.”
Shayrah had to point out at many times to me that mega-churches will not do or say anything controversial or hateful (i.e. homophobic), as they are “seeker-sensitive” churches that simply want to bring in as many people as possible, because it brings in more money.
Speaking of money. After the singers were all done with their opening song, the church played a quick commercial (and I’m going to continue to refer to it as a commercial, because this was meant as advertising, just not explicitly) of one of its members. The commercial tells the story of this man and his three or four-year-old daughter and how she was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010.
The man and his wife talk about the social structure of Fellowship and how it enabled them to take care of their daughter while still being able to take care of the rest of their lives. I remember they said something along the lines of, “I don’t know how I would have had the hope or courage to continue without Fellowship,” as if, without the church, people are hopeless.
Their daughter’s cancer eventually went into remission. The audience applauded at this. Not once during this five minute commercial did anyone, let alone the parents, ever mention the doctors who worked tirelessly to save this girl’s life. All they thanked was Fellowship.
That’s not the worst part though!
Immediately after (and I seriously mean immediately after) the video, one of the singers from before came out and asked for money! They passed around offering plates, and he also explained how they could use their credit cards to donate outside in the lobby. So convenient, isn’t it? Just swipe my card and my money goes to an organisation that is using the cancer of a little girl, who could have died, to make more money!
Why was there not just outright disgust throughout the audience of hundreds? Why were there not people, these good Christian people, throwing the offering plates on the ground and spitting in the faces of the ushers? Why was no one outraged like I was? No, people just plopped their money into that plate, probably thinking their money was going to somehow save more little children with cancer.
If Shayrah had not been there, I probably would have charged the stage and done what Jesus would have and flipped a couple of tables over for their heartless money-worship (if only there had been tables on the stage to flip).
But anyway. Before I get entrenched in a rage-filled, caps lock rant about this shameless exploitation of a child’s cancer…
The announcements, being made by Pastor Ed Young, tried to reach out to first time visitors very strongly. If it was someone’s first time going, they were asked to go to a specific part of the atrium after the sermon where they could meet with others and do something; I don’t remember exactly what they said it was for, and I never went to check it out. They even had these prayer request cards on all of the seats that had check-mark boxes that asked if it was someone’s first or second time attending.
They are good marketing ploys, I must admit. Make them feel very welcomed for coming and try as hard as possible to make them come back (to give more money).
Now, when the sermon finally started, it was apparently a series being run by a guest pastor for the sermon series Pain Management. The pastor speaking when we came was a guy by the name of Greg Dowey, who is from Columbia, South Carolina, where Fellowship apparently has a branch (along with two in Miami, Florida and several throughout the DFW Metroplex).
The sermon itself, which was about what Christians can do to deal with pain, whether that pain is emotional or physical or whatever else it may be, was very vague. Yes, it had a general message of how Christ helps people deal with all kinds of pain, but the message itself was watered-down so as not to offend anyone.
Again, they are seeker-sensitive. If they offend anyone, it hurts their profits, so they purposely avoid stepping on people’s toes and actually using the teachings in the Bible, like the ones that say to not associate with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) or to kill gays (Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-32) or anything that might, you know, be actually in the Bible.
They pastor also tried to make jokes and seem personable, to try to seem like someone who is down to Earth, even though their head is up their… in the clouds.
This guy also apparently has a Twitter, and on the jumbo-trons they had surrounding the stage, they had his Twitter handle @GDowey and #painmanagement. They are trying to use modern social media to connect to the youth to seem hip and cool. They also apparently have an iPhone and Android app. I’m not joking.
The beginning of this pastor’s sermon was about his wife who has lived in pain for twenty years or so. He says that doctor after doctor couldn’t help his wife; he even went to the Mayo Clinic once. Well, I guess science is useful when it might help you, but when it can’t, because science can’t progress like religion can where it can just make things up, I guess you need Jesus then.
Enough on the specifics of the actual talk. The pastor himself had a very powerful voice with a very rhythmic way of speaking. It was very politician like. It was very moving to hear him talk, even though I knew he was a snake oil salesman.
As the music from the band behind him slowly started to drift back in as the pastor was beginning the end of his talk, I realised that this is not a sermon. This is not a lesson about Christ’s love or of God. This is a show. An act. A sketch. A performance on his part to put his face out there and bring in money. That is all these churches are about. Money.
After the sermon, Pastor Ed Young came back out and again pushed for first time visitors to see a specific part of the lobby afterwards. He also used a tactic that I have been meaning to use for my student group. Crowd source advertising.
He talked about an event that Fellowship is going to be having in downtown Dallas on Good Friday, and he pushed these “six packs,” essentially six advert cards, that everyone would receive on their way out of the auditorium. He said that, even in casual conversation, people should be handing these cards out to people to advertise the event (and more importantly the church). It really is a good idea. Make your members, the literally thousands of them, do your advertising (and proselytising) for you.
These people are smart. Yes, what they believe is illogical by my standards, but they know how to advertise. They know how to socialise and make an engaging event that will draw in tens-of-thousands of people. Mega-churches are becoming the norm. Those classic churches we see that only fit a couple of hundred people at the absolute most will soon become relics in America’s religious culture.
Soon any specific or in-depth Christianity will be long gone too. We will only have these sermons that preach vague messages of love and the importance of coming to Jesus. Yes, it will still have the irrational aspects, like blind faith and even possibly the social implications of affecting public policy, but it will be so watered-down it won’t be recognisable as a religion anymore, but instead as a social club.
This is probably the one misconception of atheists that is completely contrary to the reality of the situation. The reason most atheists left religion is because we know so much about religion.
And science backs this up. As Alise pointed out in her post, in 2010 Pew released the results of a survey that showed that, although evangelical Christians knew more about their own religion, with atheists coming in at a very close second, atheists knew more about world religions and religious history overall.
Alise also talked about how the documentary Lord, Save Us from Your Followers, a documentary that I personally have not see yet but want to now, had a “mock ‘Family Feud’ game show about various faith issues, and the atheist team cleaned up time and again against the various Christian teams. Over and over they had a better understanding of the Christian worldview than even the Christians did.”
It simply is not because of a lack of knowledge or ignorance or religion that atheists are not religious anymore or never were. To assume so about someone, let alone all or most atheists, is the real ignorance, and it is simply prejudicial. If you want to know if someone is actually uninformed about religion, just ask them. Start a conversation with them that can be held respectfully so that both parties can learn from one another.
From my own conversations with religious people after leaving religion, yes, there are things I have learned about Christianity and other religions, but it is usually minor things that have not caused me to all of a sudden change my mind and revert to religion. And for the most part, when I start talking to Christians, I am the one teaching them things they did not know about their own faith, and it is not usually minor things too.
I remember once I had to teach a Christian friend of mine about the Gospels and how they severely contradicted one another, especially when it came to the death and eventual resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, since Easter is coming up, I recommend that everyone, Christian and atheist alike, read a piece by David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All, called “The Ultimate Easter Quiz.”
My upbringing taught me much about my former faith and allowed me to be a very knowledgeable Christian and is what led me to become a knowledgeable atheist.
Of course, with more and more atheists are becoming parents, it is important that we continue to stay informed and teach our children about religion so that they don’t get sucked in by the ploys that are being employed by fundamentalists to infect the next generation. My partner, Shayrah (who is also very knowledgeable about Christianity and called herself “The Atheist Bible Thumper” while she was on YouTube), teaches her daughter (my stepdaughter) about all kinds of religions, including Christianity. She likes to call it a “religious vaccination.”
Teach it as mythology (I’m not trying to offend anyone by calling it that). That is what our schools already teach when it comes to the Greek and Roman religions, which people did seriously believe was the truth at one point in time. Our schools teach the Iliad and Odyssey as literature, not as factual works.
David G. McAfee, author of Disproving Christianity and Other Secular Writings, has a B.A. in both English and Religious Studies, because he finds religion a fascinating phenomenon to study, and I agree. I recently took a Religion and American Society class at my college, because I wanted to learn more about religions, not because I wanted to convert to any of them.
I also recently went to my local mega-church just for the experience. More on that to come later though.
Religion is a fascinating part of our culture and of human history. It should be learned about by everyone, especially if you are religious. It helps build bridges between the religions communities and between the religious and nonreligious. It builds tolerance and understanding that yelling at each other over the internet will never do.
Next week’s edition of The Christian Guide to Atheists will be: it takes more faith to not believe in a god.
Thanks for reading.
I’m going to do it. I’m going to come out and be proud of who I really am, no matter the hate I may get for it!
I am a nerd!
Yes, I am a nerd. I like nerdy things like RPGs, video games, and much more. What really makes me a nerd though is that I love superheroes and comic books (fuck DC though, Marvel all the way).
By far my favourite superhero is Spider-Man.
The reason I love Spider-Man is because when I was growing up, I could really relate to him. Peter Parker was this nerdy, awkward kid that did not have many friends, but he led this secret life where he could do these truly amazing things and help people that were in need.
Spider-Man was also always the youngest of the Avengers (excluding maybe some really young X-Men), and I was always the youngest of my friends. I still am to this day.
However, I know that Spider-Man is not real. He is just a fictional character that was made up years ago by Marvel to sell comic books (and eventually toys, movies, and television shows, all of which I absolutely loved).
But I know that I can prove that Spider-Man is real through Christian logic.
Many Christians will use the Bible to prove the existence of God. This is like me using Spider-Man comics to prove that Spider-Man is real.
When that fallacious reasoning is exposed, Christians will then point to certain stories and events in the Bible as proof that the Bible is the Word of God, because these events really did happen and are backed up by independent historical evidence. These places, which are real, are talked about in the stories of the Bible.
Yes, certain events detailed in the Bible did happen (most did not or are depicted inaccurately, but let’s ignore that fact). Yes, the Bible does talk about real places and people in history. That does not mean the Bible is historically accurate though, let alone the supposed message and commandments of some deity.
Put it this way: Spider-Man is set in New York City. That’s a real place, and real people live there. Real people are talked about in Spider-Man comics, including President Barack Obama.
Not only that, but Spider-Man has real events talked about in the comics too. The September 11th terrorist attacks are depicted in one.
Real places. Real people. Real events.
By the same logic used by Christians, Spider-Man should be just as real as the god of the Bible.
The only difference between the god of the Bible and Spider-Man though is that Spider-Man is actually a moral character that children should model themselves after.
Spider-Man didn’t order people to kill babies (1st Samuel 15:3). Spider-Man isn’t a fearful, hateful bigot that wants people to kill homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13), witches (Exodus 22:17), adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), people who like other superheroes more (Exodus 22:19), etc.
In a couple hundred years comic books might start being taken a little too seriously, and Spider-Man comics will be seen as divine revelation and turned into the next great religion that tramples the globe and causes people to kill each other over nothing.
In my previous post, I wrote essentially a response to some conservative blogger who was saying Gerard Way of the band My Chemical Romance, my favourite band, might be a closet conservative, because of some imagery used in one of the band’s music videos. I forgot to add something that now I think would have been perfect to have in there.
How could I forget about when Glenn Beck, when he was still on Fox News, took My Chemical Romance’s “Sing,” because it was being covered on the show Glee, and called it “propaganda?”
Yes, a major “news” network took the time to bash a song because of these lyrics:
Cleaned up, corporation progress
Dying in the process
Children that can talk about it,
living on the railways
People moving sideways
Sell it till your last days
Buy yourself a motivation
Nothing but a dead scene
Product of white dream
Gerard actually responded to these allegations on the band’s website.
I think the word Glenn Beck was looking for was “subversion” not “propaganda”, because I don’t know what it would be considered propaganda for- truth? sentiment?
And I can’t tell what he’s angrier about- the fact that it’s how I feel about the persistent sterilization of our culture or the fact that it’s on network television for everyone to hear.
And railways? Is it 1863? Seen any children living on these lately instead of the internet?
I’m actually shocked that no actual fact-checking was done on the lyrics. I mean Fox is a major news channel, covering factual topics in an unbiased and intelligent- oh wait- to quote the man himself- “You don’t have to live by the standards that society has set.”
I couldn’t agree more.
PS- drawing is a depiction of an actual situation involving children, indeed “living on the railways” with one Jimmy “Backscratch Pete” Mulrooney, of Kansas City.
Yes, he called Fox “unbiased and intelligent.” I know.
So apparently, according to Douglas Ernst, the blogger, Gerard Way is a secret conservative. According to Glenn Beck, Gerard and the band as a whole are just more of those elitist liberals or something.
Both of these assertions, and the people asserting them, have about the same amount of credibility in my eyes.
My favourite band is My Chemical Romance. Yes, I know people will flock to the comments with comments like “emo fag,” “do you cut yourself?” or something along those lines. I really don’t care, and I really don’t care to defend my taste in music to anyone.
The reason I bring this up is that I came across a blog post about them that was just…special.
Recently, MCR came out with a new album called Conventional Weapons. They released the album in stages of two songs at a time. One of the songs in the second installment, Number Two, is titled “Gun.” (yes, the period is part of the title), and this is probably one of my favourite songs off the entire album.
However, the lyrics to it made me question something. Is My Chemical Romance possibly conservative?
According to AZ Lyrics:
Because the government
Because the government wants your gun
Wants your gun
Some of the other lyrics in the song could be argued to be talking about a police state, as well.
It is not like I would honestly care or stop listening to their music if they were. I listen to music from bands that are very overtly conservative or have played at conservative conferences. Journey played at the 2012 Republican National Convention, and I don’t really care. Nonetheless, I became curious.
I decided to simply use Google and find out if the band had ever made any political statements of any kind.
The only thing I have found is that Frank Iero, the rhythm guitarist and backup vocalist for the band, is pro-gay, a vegetarian who was dubbed by PETA to be one of their World’s Sexiest Vegetarians, and voted for then Senator Barack Obama in 2008.
So at least one of the band’s members are definitely liberal, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of them.
But apparently some conservative blog back in 2010, when MCR came out with their music video for “Na Na Na” in their album Danger Days, wrote about how the Gerard Way, the lead singer and frontman, might be a “closet conservative.” Before I read it, I was, for a split second, legitimately concerned that this might be true.
Then I read it, and I could not stop laughing at how ridiculous his reasoning was (emphasis not mine).
Gerard ruffles liberal feathers from the get go:
“Look alive, sunshine. 109 in the sky, but the pigs won’t quit. You’re here with me, Dr. Death Defy. I’ll be your surgeon, your proctor, you’re helicopter. Bumping out the slaughtamatic sounds to keep you live… Anti-matter for the master plan. Louder than God’s revolver and twice as shiny!...The future is bulletproof. The aftermath is secondary. It’s time to do it now and do it loud! Killjoys, make some noise!”
Doesn’t Gerard know that mentioning God is a no-no (or was that ‘na na’?), and that coupling Him with a revolver might cause the kids to link a Creator—from which all our rights are derived—with self defense?
Liberals are all anti-God now apparently and wanting to snuff out any mention of God, specifically the Christian god, in public square, because that offends our delicate sensibilities.
He goes on by pointing out themes he sees in the music video that apparently mean the music video and the band are propagating a conservative message. Like these:
- American flags proudly displayed.
- Guns as legitimate tools of self defense.
- American muscle cars and the freedom that comes from the open road (It would be hard for Killjoys to save the world if they were waiting all day for public transportation).
- Vampiric authority figures tied to the federal government or a company closely associated with it.
- Resistance movements, individualism, and self-reliance.
- Orwellian double-speak. Better Living Industries (i.e., BL.ind)
- Dystopian future (batteries provided by Better Living Industries have played a role).
- State controlled media.
If anything, the spider (which I actually have as a tattoo on my back) on the American flag should be seen by him as a disgrace to the honour and purity of the flag, not a proud display of it.
But liberals apparently can’t like the American flag too. That’s just a conservative thing, because they’re “real” Americans that eat meat and hate homos. Even though my personal Facebook banner for the longest time was this photo:The other stuff that he says are reasons why Gerard Way is a conservative just do not make any sense, like the fifth bullet-point, “Resistance movements, individualism, and self-reliance.” No liberal resistance movement has ever existed, I guess. And liberals all must want this hive-mind community that takes away all of your individual rights. This person seems to have absolutely no understanding of liberal ideology, other than what he has heard about those scary liberals from Fox News and the Drudge Report.
As for the “[vampiric] authority figures tied to the federal government or a company closely associated with it,” that was completely nonsensical. One, because there are no ties shown between BL.ind and any government in the video; I assumed the “dystopian future” came about because there was no government in sight. Two, because now a conservative is saying that corporations are bad. And I agree. Corporate and government ties are very much a bad thing. I see no evidence of this in the video or in the lyrics of the song though.
In the end, this is a music video, not a propaganda film. One can read into it to find some other meaning, but this kind of interpretation of the video is simply absurd. Shame on you, Douglas Ernst, for making me worried that my favourite rock star might be a conservative, when your reasoning behind this was obviously grasping at straws.
As some of you probably know, I go to the University of North Texas. Depending upon how fast you drive, it’s about thirty minutes from downtown Dallas. There, I am majoring in Political Science with a minor in Communication Studies, but I am also the Founder and President of the Secular Student Alliance at UNT.
As President, I really want to have outreach to Christian groups, and theistic organisations as a whole, on campus. I want to show them that atheists, secularists, humanists, and the like are not bad people. We are not God-haters or people who want to persecute the religious, and today I learned about something that might give the SSA@UNT the opportunity to achieve that. It’s called the Human Library.
As I was walking out of my final class, I noticed some flyers for this “Human Library.” I wasn’t sure what it was, so I took a closer look. I don’t remember what the flyer said exactly, so I looked up the description of the event given on the UNT website.
On February 19 and 20, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, UNT Libraries and the UNT Multicultural Center will open a Human Library in the Forum @ Willis Library. Instead of print or electronic media, the books in this library will be human beings who have experienced prejudice due to issues such as race, gender, disability, ethnic origin, sexual preference, mental illness or lifestyle choices. These “books” have volunteered to challenge prejudice through respectful conversation with members of the UNT campus and the greater Denton community who borrow them for a fifteen to thirty minute conversation.
This intrigued me to no end, and my last class had gotten out early, so I decided to go to the library to check it out. I walked into the library, not knowing what to expect, and saw a line of people heading into the Forum, which is just this closed off section of the library, with a sign that said “Human Library.” I waited in line, they scanned my student ID, and…I had no idea what to do.
The room was filled with chairs grouped into sections of four or five, including a chair where someone was already sitting, with a piece of paper taped behind them with some words written on it. One of the papers read, from top to bottom, “African American; Feminist.” Another said, “Artist; Buddhist; Former Drug User; Homosexual.” One had just, “Homosexual.” One of them was, “Interracial and Intercultural Marriage.” Another was, “Disabled; ADHD.” There were others, some of them with some kind of variation of these labels. These people were the “Human Books” we were supposed to be asking questions. I never saw any “Atheist” or “Bisexual” labels anywhere though.
Standing there rather awkwardly, I saw an open chair in one group. I immediately sat down just so that I would not be standing there looking out at the crowd of people with a dumb look on my face. As soon as I sat down, I saw the label that this one elderly woman had. It read, “Female Police Officer.” Looking at the pamphlet handed to me when I walked in, I saw under the Occupational Section: “Female Police Officer.” Under this, along with other sections like “Homosexual” or “African American,” were common stereotypes of these groups. For this policewoman, some were “Masculine? Lesbian? Above the law? Racial profiling?”
After just a short while of listening to this woman, I learned a lot about law enforcement, and it really opened my eyes. It helped clear up some stereotypes and prejudices that I do/did have about police (probably the only group that I have ever felt any kind of animosity towards). That’s what this Human Library is all about: destroying stereotypes and prejudices that do nothing but perpetuate misunderstandings and hate.
Looking out into the crowd, I saw one sign that said, “Secular Humanist; Feminist; Homosexual,” and other things that I don’t honestly remember. I really wanted to ask him some questions and see what other people would want to ask him, but his little circle always seemed to be too busy. What bothered me was that under the stereotypes for the secular humanist was “Atheist?” As if, being an atheist were a bad thing or a negative stereotype of secular humanists.
I went up to the organisers of the event, very nice and wonderful people, and asked them, “I’m a bisexual atheist. Would you be interested in having me as one of your Human Books?” They seemed very enthusiastic about this and immediately gave me a sheet of paper that had some tips and guidelines on how to be one of the Human Books. It must be hard to find bisexual atheists these days for an event all about diversity.
I won’t go into the conversations that I had with people, although there were many (including the eventual people who wanted to save my atheist soul), and some very personal stories that I shared with people and that people shared with me.
I just want to emphasise the importance that I see in this kind of an event. This is not like a regular interfaith or diversity panel where a nameless person asks a question from a faraway microphone in the audience and a speaker answers it and they move on. These are personal, one-on-one (more so one-on-four) conversations and discussions with people who really want to know more about these different groups and labels. It provides an up close, in-person face to these labels that a regular discussion panel cannot give, and it still does the job that these kinds of panels want to do, which is promote diversity, understanding, and tolerance, and does it even better in my opinion.
I have been invited back to be a part of the next Human Library that they hold at UNT (which will possibly be in September; we will see). I hope that these kinds of events become more popular and more frequent. If you have never heard of the Human Library, like I had not before today, then go to their website and research it.
I encourage you all to have a Human Library at your campus, and I implore you to be as diverse as possible. There were no atheists at this one. I had to essentially force my way in to become the bisexual atheist at the last minute, and I did that because I really do care about preventing further mistrust and hatred of atheists and the LGBT community. I hope that I did something to educate and help those that came and asked me questions (even those who stormed off, saying they would pray for me after they could not convince me that their god was real).