HuffPost Live Runs ‘Losing Our Religion’ Segment

On Thursday, January 17th, I (Jessica) was asked to participate in a HuffPost Live segment called “Losing Our Religion” along with four others, including David Niose, author of Nonbeliever Nation.

Here’s the video:

This is only my second time speaking in front of others on the internets, so forgive my nerves!

Also, I really didn’t speak a whole lot, for better or worse.

Please leave your thoughts — I want to get better at this whole “speaking in front of humans” thing!

About Jessica Bluemke

Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Ball State University in 2008 with a BA in Literature. She currently works as a writer and resides on the North side of Chicago.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    Speaking in front of humans is overrated anyways. My nice dark, quiet corner has everything I need — darkness and quiet.

  • Renshia

    Join Toastmasters. it’s great fun and incredibly helpful.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Jessica: I tip my hat to you for putting yourself out there…. on this blog, on that video interview, etc.

    There was no single star on the video panel that out-shined the rest, which is no surprise with 5-6 people all sharing the video stage. You put in a very solid showing. Keep up the great work.

  • Scott Moul

    This always worked for me…don’t care. Remind yourself, “Fuck them, I don’t care what they think.” You come prepared and confident, knowing that their opinion holds only the value you give it. Public speaking is easy…it’s speaking before respected friends/family/colleagues that is a bit harder…same thing, but harder to get the head around.

  • Nate Frein

    Glad it wasn’t me. I’d have made some very snarky comments in response to Ms. Tesfamariam’s insinuations that A) only religion has ethics and morals, and B) that if you don’t believe in “god” you’re really just confused.

    And I’d like her to come up with this list of “good things” brought to us openly by religion, not by people forced to work under a framework of religion and presented despite religion’s interference. Betcha it’d be a short list.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I only have pedantic advice

    1) don’t sit in a moving chair. That doesn’t apply to you, but David and Amanda were annoying to watch (for the time I was watching, mostly I just listened)

    2) have an easy quick mute, and mute whenever you’re not talking

    Your content was great, and your pauses were minimal. Well done.

    (Edit: not sure if the mute applies to you either, but any background noise makes teleconferencing a pain)

  • not-a-yank

    With the exception of the author of this post the other panelists and the host seem to me like vacant american airheads…

    Superior European here.

    • banana

      Gosh, thanks for taking the time out of your superior schedule to put us yanks in our place. God knows there are no vacant airheads in Europe, anywhere.

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    First of all, congratulations on the good conversation. Secondly, was it me or were the Christians, particularly the student from N.C., more intent in preaching-lite? They kept emphasizing how great Christianity is and how fantastic having a relationship with Jesus was, instead of the actual causes of rising secularism.

  • bernardaB

    I was raised in a Christian–Lutheran– family and culture. I had to go to church and Sunday school, but I never bought into the mythology. I still visit my family on Christmas and other dates important to them. So I could be called a cultural Christian. Never has anyone called me a secular Christian. I think it is insulting and racist to describe the man there as a “secular Jew”. He seems just to be secular like me. I don’t understand why in so many such cases someone must identify a person as a Jew. If you are an atheist like me(actually anti-theist), you are simply an atheist. Children don’t choose their parents or the culture they will be raised in.

    Secondly, I don’t understand why African-Americans accept the ideology of their ancestors’ white oppressors, the slave owners. They are still slaves in the sense of adopting the slave owners world view. Their earlier ancestors in Africa were not Christians.

    • http://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

      Many Jewish people who don’t believe identify THEMSELVES as Secular Jews. It’s not a label someone else is putting on them.

      • bernardaB

        Nicole, in that case, I think they are being dishonest and don’t have much respect for them.

        • http://twitter.com/nicoleintrovert Nicole Introvert

          Being that Jewish folks consider themselves an ethnic group, why should they not identify as such? My grandfather came to the US from Poland, but I still consider my Polish heritage important to me at times even though, I so not speak the language and have never been to Poland. The food and customs that I did have are important to me.

          • bernardaB

            I understand your attachment to Polish heritage. I have the same
            attachment to my European heritage, in my case Finland. But though some Jews consider themselves an ethnic group, they are not. What ethnic connection is there between a sepherade and an askanazi? The only relation between a North African Jew and a European Jew is religion, I could also add Ethiopian Jews.

            Jews are American, Polish, Russian, British, etc. The only Jewish member of British cabinet in 1919, Sir Montagu, opposed Zionism and considered the Balfour Declaration to be anti-semitic.and feared that Jews would be considered foreigners in their own countries if a “Jewish homeland” was created.

            • Nate Frein

              No, actually. Those Ethiopian Jews can trace their lineage back to the same source as the Polish Jews (over centuries).

              • bernardaB

                Show the relation between Ethiopians, Poles, and why not Moroccans. For that matter, include Palestinians if you are going to use DNA evidence.

                • Nate Frein

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_studies_on_Jews

                  It’s on wiki-fucking-pedia.

                  In short, populations of Jews migrated, and then intermarried with locals.

                • bernardaB

                  So so-called Jews migrated and intermarried with local populations. That sounds like just about every other group around the world. If I did my own genealogical study, maybe I have some Hindu ancestor. Are you done being ridiculous?

                • Nate Frein

                  Not the same at all. We aren’t talking about people with Jewish ancestry who left their communities and adopted the cultural traditions of the local populations. That is not what “secular Jew” refers to.

                  We’re talking about whole communities fleeing Israel and migrating to new areas but maintaining relative insularity despite incorporated local stock.

                  Judaism is NOT an evangelical religion. It does not propagate itself by recruiting outsiders. Judaism, at it’s core, is as much about being the proper ethnicity as it is about doing the right rituals. Judaism believes in a god who says “You are my people. I am your god. You WILL obey me because of this.”

                  Christianity and Islam ARE evangelical religions. They preach of a god with open arms to any who choose to worship. This is why “Secular Christian” has no meaning: There are no ethnic ties to the Christian religion. “Secular Jew” has meaning because it refers to people who are only a generation or two removed from practicing, ethnic Jews. It refers to direct, familial ties, where the unstated assumption is that a person is Jewish in both ethnicity and religion.

                  As I said, the closest analogy you can get with Christianity is to say that Nate Phelps is a “Secular Phelps” because he has rejected the de facto religion of the Phelps clan, when generally the assumption is that a Phelps of Westboro is part of the WBC, and even that is a strained analogy.

                • bernardaB

                  Being or not evangelical has nothing to do with the subject. Researching sites such as The Jewish Virtual Library, I found out that Reform Judaism considers apostates not to be Jewish as well as Jews who do not practice, while traditional Judaism still considers them to be Jewish. If you follow Reform Judaism, the term “secular Jew” has no sense.

                  There being many Jewish sects, there are many arguments about who is Jewish. Israel had a problem when about 40% of the Soviet “Jews” who migrated to Israel where not Jewish and there are continuing arguments in Israel about who is Jewish.

                  If you take a relatively homogenous population like Japan, 80 to 90% are called Shintoists. But today most Japanese regard themselves as non-religious. I have never heard of one of them being called a “secular Shintoist”.

                • Nate Frein

                  Because you can quite simply call them “Japanese.”

                  What exactly is hard for you to get about this? “Hi, I’m Jewish, but I’m not a Jew, because I don’t go to synagogue or believe in god”. Or “I’m a secular Jew”.

                  The exact beliefs of the different sects have nothing to do with a functionally useful term that imparts useful knowledge and simplifies communication. You are tilting at windmills here.

                • bernardaB

                  You apparently intentionally ignore most of my post. Reform Judaism does not regard apostates as Jews. Period. Then you make a false comparison. Nobody calls someone a “secular Japanese”, nor for that matter a “secular American”, we just say a secularist.

                  If someone were to say to me “Hi, I’m Jewish…”, I would say, ” I don’t give a damn, get lost.”

                  You simply ignore a reality that goes against your ignorant beliefs. You are incapable of making a credible argument. So I am outta here.

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      I have plenty of Jewish friends who don’t believe in a god, but who enjoy the communal practices of Judaism. They also like feeling the link to past generations. As Nicole says, they are the one using the term “Secular Jews” or sometimes “cultural Jews.”
      I myself enjoy hearing chants in Hebrew and lighting candles. The misogyny of patriarchal religions… not so much.

      • bernardaB

        As I pointed out, I participate in communal practices of Xianism and I could be called a “cultural” Xian. I also like feeling the link to past generations, but if anyone called me a “cultural Xian”, I would tell them where to go. Making an exception for Jews is indicating that there is something different or special about them and that is anti-semitism.

        • Nate Frein

          “Christian” does not describe an ethnicity. “Jew” can, and does. Ergo “Secular Jew” denotes someone who is of Hebrew descent, but not a practitioner of the faith. There is no other religion quite so intricately tied in with their ethnicity.

          The only way you would see this applied to Christianity is if there were an insular sect of Christianity almost completely followed only by people who could demonstrate a very certain ancestry. For example, you might call Nate Phelps a “secular Westboro-ist” (if the Westboro clan were big enough to be considered an ethnicity in itself, and the vast majority of “Westboros” de facto followed the Westboro faith).

    • Nate Frein

      Because in this case, “Jew” is an ethnicity as well. It only really works because of how much the Hebrew faith is tied in with people of Hebrew descent. I’m not sure you can point to any other ethnicity as being so completely homogeneously one religion.

    • Nate Frein

      I really think you’re being deliberately obtuse on this, but I’m going to make this very clear. “Secular Jew” is a useful term because the word “Jew” refers to both the ethnic “Jew” and the religious “Jew”. A Polish person can say “My mother and father, and their mothers and fathers are Polish. Ergo, I am Polish.” But he cannot say “My religion is Polish” or “I no longer follow the Polish religion”. He will say “My religion is Christianity”.
      A Jew, on the other hand, can say “My mother and father, and their mothers and fathers, are Jewish. Ergo, I am Jewish.” He can also say “I am a member of a Synagogue, therefore I am Jewish”. Or he can say “I no longer believe in god, therefore I am not Jewish”. He can literally be a Jew, that is not a Jew (because he is ethnically a Jew but does not follow the faith). Ergo, “Secular Jew” is a useful term because it describes without confusion someone who is a Jew ethnically but not a Jew religiously.

    • Nate Frein

      I really think you’re being deliberately obtuse on this, but I’m going to make this very clear. “Secular Jew” is a useful term because the word “Jew” refers to both the ethnic “Jew” and the religious “Jew”. A Polish person can say “My mother and father, and their mothers and fathers are Polish. Ergo, I am Polish.” But he cannot say “My religion is Polish” or “I no longer follow the Polish religion”. He will say “My religion is Christianity”.
      A Jew, on the other hand, can say “My mother and father, and their mothers and fathers, are Jewish. Ergo, I am Jewish.” He can also say “I am a member of a Synagogue, therefore I am Jewish”. Or he can say “I no longer believe in god, therefore I am not Jewish”. He can literally be a Jew, that is not a Jew (because he is ethnically a Jew but does not follow the faith). Ergo, “Secular Jew” is a useful term because it describes without confusion someone who is a Jew ethnically but not a Jew religiously.


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