Life is good.

I’m still in Lawrence with mah fiancee, who prefers that I stay close enough for her to snuggle when I write.  I know it’s cliche, but I’ve never really been happier in my entire life than since we started hanging out/dating.  Not by a long shot.  And my NCAA bracket is going to thrash hers and I’ll get to lord it over her until next year.

The American Atheists conference is in a week.  It’s always one of my favorites.  The energy is fantastic and the people are wonderful.  I feel bad, because I know some people can’t afford it, but I also acknowledge the need for American Atheists to raise money to fight for our cause.  That’s why Skepticon exists, right?  I also know that many people can’t afford to get into the fundraiser dinner, which is why last year I stayed outside the dinner most of the time and hung with those people (Jessica Ahlquist joined me…she’s pretty humble, that one).  I’m the speaker at the dinner this year, but I’ll do my damndest to get out and hang with everybody during that time up until I speak.

The atheist gamer community is growing.  It’s good to see so many people having fun, and it’s even better watching us be the good sports.

My family is going to get to see me speak in Fayetteville.  It means the world to me when the people I care about support what I do.

And hell, I’ve got the best job there is.  I get to see the country while equipping people to talk to believers – or even debating believers myself.  And I get paid to write, what I did for free for years.  It’s not like the fast food jobs I had in college where I have to pretend to be happy while customers mistreat me and my friends.  I’m my own boss, and if someone’s being an asshole I can say “Hey, you’re being an asshole and you should stop.”  I get to own myself, and it’s wonderful.

I don’t know what I did to get so lucky.  Thanks everybody, for letting me drop in to share my life.  Thanks for caring.  If it turns out there is a hell, which is the only place I think we can all get together at the same time, I would like to buy all of you a round, assuming Hitch hasn’t drank the place dry.

  • Carol Eberhard

    If you buy me a round, remember I like Red Hook IPA. <3

  • Joshua Tate

    I just wish that there were people touring, debating, and speaking on the UK circuit.
    Even our scientists and debaters focus on America. Admittedly, there’s a lot more prevalence there, but I just want to see more people challenge the still-present marriage of church and state here.

    That said, I’m looking forward to my hell-round.

  • http://considertheteacosy.wordpress.com Aoife

    Glad things are going wonderfully for you. And that you’re able to sit back and appreciate the awesomeness that you’re going through right now. Long may it continue!

  • Azkyroth

    *jealouses*

  • Mary

    Has anyone here experienced the loss of a parent? Has your atheism helped or hindered your grieving process? I’m going through a very difficult loss right now and am having trouble reconciling my stated belief (or non-belief as the case may be) with what I’m going through. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    • neatospiderplant

      Mary, I’m sorry for your loss.

      I suggest looking up “Grief Beyond Belief” on facebook. Their mission states:

      “Grief Beyond Belief is an online support network for people grieving the death of a child, parent, partner, or other loved one — without belief in a higher power or any form of afterlife. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, freethinkers and others without religious or spiritual beliefs are invited to participate. If you are in the process of reevaluating or letting go of previously held religious beliefs, you may also join the community and seek support.”

      Sounds like it might be helpful to you.

      Hugs!

    • Katybe

      Mary – first, I’m sorry for your loss. Last year, Greta Christina’s father died and she wrote a grief diary over on her blog at FTB. You might find some good reading material over there.

      I’ve not yet lost a parent, so I can’t know exactly what you’re going through, but I think everyone has someone in their life whose death will hurt them the most. For me, I knew years before it happened that it would be my grandfather. It’s been just over 6 years now, and I still wish I could share my triumphs and news with him first of all.

      When he died, I agreed to read a poem at his funeral. We were having a small ceremony at the crematorium before going to his village church for a full service (he wasn’t noticeably religious, but had held on to a vague English village type of CoE). It was important to me that the reading I chose wasn’t overtly religious – I certainly wasn’t going to get any comfort from the idea of us being reunited with him some day in some fuzzy afterlife, and it was surprisingly hard to choose something. I eventually found this poem, and it said everything I needed. I got comfort from it at the time, and afterwards, and it’s what I now give to friends in a similar situation. I hope it might help you too. http://www.poeticexpressions.co.uk/poems/you%20can%20shed%20tears%20that%20he%20is%20gone.htm

  • John Eberhard

    I have lost both my parents. I was sad, I grieved, and I will miss them both. I am so happy that we got to be family together. My atheism helped me accept that is just the way of the world. When my times, I hope my kids can celebrate that we had our time together as family, and that that helps them through the natural mourning and grieving process. I do not want my kids to barter their reason for false promises about an afterlife. Good luck to you.

  • http://www.davemuscato.com Dave Muscato

    Can’t wait to see you!!

  • Rikiitiki

    NO! I have the best job – as the front-desk person at the Zigzag Ranger
    District, I get to tell people to: “Take a hike!” And, funny enough, they
    THANK me for doing so.

  • Mary

    Thank you for your kind words and your responses. I appreciate your taking a moment to share your thoughts.

    It’s a tricky thing, navigating the roaring rapids of a traumatic event. You have to wonder at some point what is real and what is just the impulsive, emotional reaction that is desperately trying to cling to whatever solid ground it can grasp ahold of.

    Funny enough, my biggest challenge hasn’t been the idea of an afterlife (or the emotional bartering thereof), but instead coming to grips with this life. The whole “why am I here/what is the meaning of existence” thing.

    I don’t know why I’m bothering to tell this to the internet. You people don’t know me, and I don’t know you. But I guess I’m taking advantage of the anonymity to at least get this off my chest and release it into the world, even if it is of a digital variety.

    I’ve been an atheist for going on 20 years now. I was brought up Catholic, but fell away over another traumatic event my sophomore year of college. It was an event that drove a wedge between myself and my father, one that drove me out of the church and into non-belief.

    I embraced being an atheist with angry enthusiasm. I supported free thought and skepticism, even going so far as to aggressively challenge believers at the drop of a hat, delighting in their inability to rub two thoughts together when confronted with direct challenges to their belief system. I reveled in it.

    Thing is, all of that was about my father. It was about me getting back at him. Don’t misunderstand — he didn’t do anything directly to me, didn’t abuse me or anything like that. But that wedge was something that so hurt me that the only way I could think to deal with it was to use it as a weapon against him. And I did.

    And now he’s gone. I tried to reconcile with him, tried to repair that which I had torched, but I don’t know if I did it very well. I can’t begin to describe the emotional desolation. As angry as I was at Dad, the fact is, I was angry because I loved him. And I knew he loved me. But I — I — made the choice to keep him at arm’s length. Until it was literally too late.

    He died two months ago. It’s forced me to face my family, my anger, and the decisions I’ve made in my life. It’s forced me to ask why I made those decisions, and, yes, what is the reason I — we — are walking upright on this planet, sucking in oxygen and bothering to procreate at all.

    One of the things that always struck me about being Catholic growing up was the awareness, the focus, on death. I didn’t really understand it, the worrying about the end of one’s life. It all came across as some kind of big scare tactic, “believe or else” kind of thing. But now, going through this grief, this loss, I don’t think I had it right. And that’s what I can’t reconcile. I can’t reconcile that atheist point of view with what I’m going through. I don’t know if I can do this.

    I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I guess I’m trying to sort it out before I talk to an actual person. But I appreciate your having this here. You can delete this if you’d like, but at least I was able to get it out there.

    • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      There’s only one kind of person who would berate you for finding comfort in faith in times of grief, and that’s a jerk.

      And if you change your mind again, the great goddess Athe is famously forgiving when it comes to lapsed Atheists.

  • Mary

    Thank you, Z.A. I don’t know if it’s Catholicism that I’m heading back to, but it’s a sense that where once I saw nothing, now I see something. Again, those roaring rapids of grief and trauma. I hope I’m not clinging desperately to whatever is close at hand.

    • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

      I don’t agree with you, but it’s your right to believe as you wish. I hope that your time as an atheist will give you the insight to become a theist who respects those who do not share the same views, and who does not attempt to impose religiously-motivated behavior on everybody.

      While I consider religion to be harmful to individuals and society, it is the right of individuals to indulge in private harms if that is their desire, and society is big enough to survive small harms if that is the price for freedom.

      But if you ever feel the burning need to “remake society in Christ’s image as a soldier for the Lord”, please come back here and we’ll get in a rip-roaring no-holds-barred argument, okay? :)

  • Mary

    I appreciate the sentiment, Z.A., but wherever I land and wherever I go, I’m done with rip-roarers. I just don’t have the stomach for that anymore.


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