Atheists and Whether God/dess Exists or Thoughts that Catholic Priests and Christian Ministers Secretly Think About

This morning over my morning tea I found myself reading a three page spread in the web edition of the New York Times about Richard Dawkins new book, The God Delusion. What follows is a sort of mental diarrhea that will most likely make little sense and cause you a headache.

Genocidal Atheists

Dawkins takes every available opportunity to state how evil religion is. He goes so far as to say he suspects "there are very few atheists in prison." He provides no statistics or other evidence for this claim. The author also rationalizes that though Hitler and Stalin were both atheists, that their lack of religion was not a factor in driving their brutality.

Hmm... this statement seems ridiculous to me. Let me just put myself in the shoes of someone who has lost the belief in God and harbors hate towards other people.

If I wanted to destroy a lot of people the idea of there being no Creator would suit that - maybe even justify it in the mind of a delusional, insane person. Hell, it may even lead to the insanity in the first place. Without a god to see and judge your actions you may think you can take all sorts of liberty with human life. Why bother holding back your murderous impulses if no one will punish you for it? Now, I don't believe in the whole punishment thing in the traditional sense. I believe in Karma - which can be a real bitch for those folks who get off on hurting others.

Also, if I had spent my entire life believing in something, even devoting myself to it as in Stalin's case (a onetime Orthodox seminarian), I would be pretty pissed off to one day figure out that I had been lied to and had wasted my time on something fictional.

Are you there God?

I've been there, you know. I've been in that spot in the brain that causes doubt in all things not physical. I've been "Little Miss Doubty-Pants" and "The Queen of Rational Thought" before. If you asked me to explain how I got over it, I couldn't tell you. I'm not sure I ever closed the door on those thoughts, but I still believe in something greater. I don't care if it makes me a sheep in the eyes of Atheists, Secular Humanists, or Bob the grocery store clerk.

One day I thought to myself, "What if when we die we just break down into the planet and there is no consciousness?" That's the single most terrifying thought my brain has ever come up with. I can't say that I have completely reconciled this idea within myself. It still creeps in there every now and again when I least expect it, but I don't obsess over it.

One of the things I keep coming back to is the reality of cyclical transformation. Nothing is ever created or destroyed. All things simply change from one thing to another. All that exists now has always existed. This means that everything is God/dess if God/dess is the source. But, into what form do we get to be transformed? Is it as biodegradable waste or a spiritual, consciousness-having entity?

If the soul exists than it can not cease to exist. So, I guess the question is - how do we prove the human soul exists? Does it live in the brain? Does it die when the body dies? Is the brain the source of consciousness?

I believe in the Goddess and Nature. I don't know the answers, despite how many times I've tried to manifest them in my cerebral cortex. I only have faith and personal truth. That's just going to have to be enough. Will it matter if I'm wrong?

Of a Feather

I saw a flock of birds today. Not just ten birds or twenty, but at least a hundred. They were pecking about in the grass on the side of the road near the onramp to the 390 expressway. I was sitting still, waiting in a line of cars with my blinker on. As the cars moved a little, inched their way forward one by one, the birds took flight.

They moved as a unit, as a single entity with two hundred tiny wings. I watched them intently, chuckling as they swayed up and down then back up again. They landed in a meager patch of trees, long ago covered with exhaust fumes, and lifted up again to sway once more in the wind. They couldn't make up their mind about where they were going but they knew they were going to get there together.

Religion for Rent: Atheism

I've seen more than one article on the growth of Atheism lately. I've even listened to an entire series of Podcasts about a woman who was Wicca for 20 years and woke up one day to decide she was an atheist/humanist. Strangely, she says things like "The answers are within us". I had to stop myself from emailing her and asking how she had been Wiccan for 20 years without figuring that one out. I mean, has she even read the Charge of the Goddess? Besides the point, I've had similar experiences of questioning my faith and I know there are plenty of people who could echo the same.

Maybe this is evidence that the books on our shelves and the often vapid ways our communities can practice is wearing on us. It's time to go deeper into our religion(s) and find meaning that resonates without being too dogmatic.

Honestly, are any of you farmers? Sure some of us have our hobby gardens, but does your life and livelihood depend on whether or not the harvest is good? Not likely. I think farmers make up like 1% of the American population. Don't quote me on that though. My point is, what do the practices of an agricultural people have to do with modern, grocery store consumers? Has Wicca really ever made it out the 1800's? Rather, was Wicca intended to make it out of an antiquated mind-set when it was created by Gardner in the 50's?

Most of what I see from atheists is a backlash of Judeo/Christian religions - mostly people who feel the dominance of those religions in this country is detrimental. With books like The God Delusion and The End of Faith hitting the shelves, Atheism seems to be making a run for the top of the religion (or anti-religion) food chain. What could this mean for Pagans? What could this mean for religion in general in this country? Would your rather live in a world with some religion (even if it was not your own) or no religion at all?

Ancients Honor the Moon

A few weeks ago the New York Times posted a story on Chimney Rock in Colorado and how it is a lunar observatory much like Stonehenge in England and Callanish in Scotland. It is set up to observe the Lunar Standstill Period that happens once every 18.6 to 19 years.

My interest in this topic is the question of why. Why would ancient people be interested in watching the moon rise through its monthly cycles during this time? Why notice it's cycle at all? In my opinion, because the moon is seen as the Goddess - or at least she was way back when before the Goddess was all but wiped out from human conciousness.

Just putting it into the perspective we have today as modern Pagans - it would seem that these ancients wanted to take note of the Moon Mother's cycles and notice the end/beginning of her longest cycle. Could this be seen as a recognition of the concept of rebirth as we know it today?

While there is no substantial evidence to support a Goddess cult in this part of America, it can still be considered a recognition of nature as blueprint/bible and evidence of a nature based society. Most nature based people considered the Earth itself to be their mother. So even if they saw a man in the moon, the basic principles of Goddess-friendly worship are there.

Am I grasping at straws? What do you think?

Image: www.chimneyrockcolorado.com

Madonna on the Cross

Madonna has always been a shock-value personality when it comes to her expression. It seems there are some religious groups who aren't taking too kindly to her most recent shock attempt.

If her attempts to draw attention to the crisis in Africa are genuine, and I believe they are, then I say good for her. I hope she does all the shocking that is necessary.

"NBC said the mock crucifixion, staged during the song Live to Tell on the star's recent Confessions tour, would be cut from next month's transmission.

US and European church groups have condemned the mock crucifixion.

But Madonna has insisted it is not "anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous", and is part of an appeal for donations to Aids charities."


- BBC NEWS

Pagan Kids and Public Schools

I woke up this morning thinking about the amount of information springing up about raising Pagan children. With the exception of different religious practices in the home, I don't see a difference between raising Pagan children and children of any other denomination.

I suppose some people have an issue with public schools and the worry of other religions being pushed on their children. Perhaps that is why so many Pagan parents decide to home school. In my opinion, home schooling can lead to a lack of social abilities and an overall stigma towards mainstream society. This could lead to all sorts of prejudices and problems in adulthood as people are forced to interact and function in a society that they were raised to be separate from.

In today's secular school system I don't see a problem sending my child to a public school. I am more worried about her being injured or shot at then being converted. I understand that there may be some areas in the country that are not so liberal, (and that everywhere you go in the Bible Belt is invariably laced with Christian overtones) but are we really raising our children with such weak beliefs that we have to shelter them from the beliefs of others in fear that the may be "tainted"?

Honestly, is reciting the Pledge of Allegiance really the deciding factor in what your religion is? Would anyone even notice if your child said "Goddess" instead of "God". Will it hurt anyone if children organize prayer circles? As long as the adults are staying out of it, and no one is being forced to participate or shunned for not participating, I could care less.

If a child celebrates with a Christmas party at school will they come home a Born-Again? I don't think so – not if you've done your job of giving your child a good background in your own faith. Isn't it better to explain that Christmas is what we call Solstice and point out all of the Pagan symbols and traditions still within the holiday? Ultimately, when your child is grown they will make their own choice about religion. You may as well educate them about multiple faiths in the best you can for now so that their choices will be informed ones.

We are the minority in this country, and as such, (at this time) we have to live in a society dominated by another belief system. No amount of sheltering or separating is going to change that. I believe the Goddess teaches Oneness not separation. In my opinion it is better to learn how to co-exist with those who are different than be taught to stay away from them altogether.

I honor parents who choose to homeschool. It is a serious amount of work for anyone to undertake. It may be right for others, but not for me and my family. I felt the need to express why that is the case for us. These are my opinions only. If you have differing ones please share them in the comments.

Should Pagans Be Vegetarians?

I have heard some folks say that Pagans should be vegetarians since we claim to honor all life. Most of these statements have come directly from Vegetarian Pagans. Honoring life does not mean that we can't or shouldn't consume the meat of animals.

I don't believe in animal cruelty and go out of my way and above my budget to buy animal products that are more respectful to the animal in question - such as cage free eggs and free range chicken. While I respect the Vegetarian life style I do not believe that it is a necessary choice in the eyes of the Goddess.

The religion of the Goddess is one of nature. In nature there is something called the food chain. Big animals eat little ones all the time. We are just fortunate enough to have the ability to be grateful for our food and respect the animal that it came from. This is more than the other creatures in the natural world can say. On the flip side we also have the ability to feel guilty about consuming another beings life, but I personally don't think it's a necessary emotion.

Nature (the only real bible the human race possesses) tells us that we need meat. We have big molars for shredding meat, and canines (passed down by our ape ancestors who also supplement their diets with meat) which we use to tear chicken from the drumstick. Our bodies require amino acids - some of which we can only find in meat.

Now, in saying all of those things I would like to specify that I do not believe we need to eat as much meat as we do in this country. It has been proven that all we really need is a portion the size of the palm of our hand once to twice a week. Cutting down on our consumption of meat, specifically cattle, can help save acres of forest a year. If there is less of a demand for meat products then there will not be a need for so many cows or the grazing lands creating by destroying forests.

So, human beings need meat, and as a person practicing a religion based on nature I see no problem with this. I do however see a problem with disrespect for the animals and inhumane treatment.

We're natural hunters so I don't mind hunting just as long as the animal is eaten and there are no trophies kept for the purpose of ego. That just makes me ill and seems like an act of complete disregard for the respect of the animal.

Below I have written a little Goddess prayer for meal times in order to show the reverence for life and the respect for the sacrifice of the animal.

Goddess, we thank you for the sacrifice of your plant and animal children whose lives were taken to provide us with this meal. We honor their spirits and will forever carry a piece of their memory within us. In reverence of life we feed our bodies and accept your blessings. So mote it be.

Charge of the Green God

I am the Great Stag,
Horned God of the Hunt,
And the Green Man,
Lord of the living forest.
I am wild, untamed, and true to myself.
I sit beneath the great oak
And join with creation in enlightened ecstasy.

I am the Mystic, the Wanderer,
And the Sacrificial King.

I am the Sleepwalker,
The Shaman who moves between the worlds,
Brining prophecy and the knowledge of Self
From the shadows of the Revealer.

I am born of the Great Mother of All Things
And unto Her I shall return.

I represent the journey of the Spirit
And call upon your soul to seek oneness,
To seek the Goddess.
In knowing Her we know ourselves
And reach into the great void
Towards the essence of completion.

© 2006 Grian DeBandia

The Mother's Milk

The International Breast Milk Project saves the lives of African children orphaned by HIV by banking and distributing donated breast milk. It seems to me that this is something right up the alley of Goddess people. Saving lives by donating the milk from your own body is an amazing gift. I am amazed at the innovation and caring natures of these people. I only wish I were still producing milk so I could donate myself.

From the Website: http://www.breastmilkproject.org/

"We are a non-profit organization dedicated to providing human breast milk from US donors for babies orphaned by HIV/AIDs and to helping clinics facilitate and sustain local breast milk donations.

According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 11 million children die every year from preventable causes. During the first two months of life, a child receiving any food other than breast milk is nearly six times more likely to die from infectious diseases, compared to a breastfed child. If every baby were exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, 1.3 million lives could be saved every year, while complimentary feeding (a diet composed at least in part of breastmilk) could prevent another 578,000 deaths. Breast milk provides complete nutrition for babies, as well as immune factors and helps provide the stimulation necessary for good development. (Click here to view the UNICEF Fact Sheet that includes charts and other information on how breast milk can help HIV-infected babies.)

Donated breast milk can help save the lives of children who would otherwise receive only replacement feedings. Our vision is simple: To ensure that not a drop of breast milk is ever wasted."

Wanderings

I'm sorry at my lack of posts lately. I guess school, group, family, etc. has me more busy than I like to admit. For this morning I post a tid bit from a group I am on. Special thanks to Satori Luna for the text.

All this time the Goddess, struck with grief,
had been looking for her daughter. Nothing
stopped her. In the dew-drenched dawn
she sought, and in the darkness too.
She lit her torches from volcanic fire
and walked through frost and night,
searching and searching, not stopping
when day smiled and cloaked the stars,
searching, not even stopping
to wet her lips at a clear fountain.
~Ovid, Metamorphoses

"At this time of year in ancient Greece, women celebrated several important festivals to the corn mother Demeter - called Ceres by the Romans, the Goddess who gave us the word "cereal." At the full moon in October, the Stenia was celebrated, with all-night dancing on the moonlit seashore. Such night rituals are common to other goddesses, especially the huntress-maiden Artemis, to whom each full moon was dedicated.

Like the moon, the earth moves through a predictable cycle. hemisphere is clearly dipping into the darker portion of the year. And this is the time when the ancient tale was told and retold of how the goddess lost her only daughter, and how she blighted the earth in her grief. Our hearts endure many winters. Dreams are lost, and loved ones, and possessions, and dear pets. Like the goddess, we mourn and grieve. And each time, we lose our faith that spring - that hope - will ever grow again. Yet each year, spring returns. Each dark time has its ending. Light will come again."

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