left biblioblography: REPRESENTING

Saturday, October 21, 2006

REPRESENTING

Well, I’ve culled a few interesting responses on my opinion about the bible petition to WalMart.

My friend Aaron Kinney respectfully disagrees. I did encounter a comment at his blog from a nice fellow named olly: “But the problem with letting that argument lead you down the path of saying 'pick your battles' is that the path to apathy is lined with good intentions.” I’m not pissed: he was respectful in his couching of the statement. Apathy? Uh-uh.

Vjack at the Atheist Revolution agrees with me somewhat:
”In other words, we need to offer something to people instead of focusing so much on taking things away from people. If you'll allow me to put on my psychologist's hat for a second, I'll offer the example of child discipline. In working with a child to eliminate an unwanted behavior, one must provide a positive replacement behavior. For example, taking away thumb sucking is going to be much harder if one fails to provide a more desirable method of self-soothing.”

Alonzo at the Atheist Ethicist has a somewhat…angrier response:
”Bigots view everything they see through the lens of bigotry. This is what prejudice is all about. The bigot "pre-judges" his victims, and then gives the victim's actions an interpretation that conforms to their prejudice. There is no way that the victim of prejudice can possibly act contrary to prejudice, because prejudice dictates the ‘correct’ way to interpret the victim’s action.”


These are but snippets only: hopefully, in context.

These are all valid points, and good insights into the human condition. My biggest problem is that I’m a ‘the glass is half full’ kind of guy. Let me illustrate this anecdotally (is that allowed? It isn’t? Too bad: I’m gonna do it anyways): I have found, in my youth no less, that when you walk in anger or fear, you’re a target. In my teenage years, I effectively neutered many physical confrontations this simply: “What’s the point?” A lot of would-be bullies stood there, confused. I left quite a few bewildered people in my wake. There was this one cat that would drive by in his van with his cute little girl friend (I was on foot), and they would both yell horrible, derogatory comments driving by (aimed at yours truly). How’d I deal with it? Simple: I became friends with both of them. Big friendly hellos on sight. I saw a news show a few years back, where African American youths who lived in the projects were asked how they avoided confrontation. Same answer. A friendly hello usually diffused it.

Favorite line from a TV show, Homicide: Life on the Streets: “You don’t bully a bully: you make them think.”

So I say: let’s make ‘em think. (I know, we’re doing that already: but there is a difference between an online interaction and a face-to-face discussion.)

Whenever I encounter someone, say, a homeless person, give them some change, if they say “God bless you,” I respond with, “Nah, I’m an atheist.” I was in my favorite park one day, and some older lady was trying to give out literature. The maintenance man told her that was strictly verboten (ANY literature, not religious only, by the way). I very nicely and politely informed her of my ‘religious’ status. She dropped by a few more times (I’m a regular there), chatted me up a bit (there were times I started regretting even opening my mouth, but I kept cool) in matters theological. After getting to know some co-workers (lay the groundwork: don’t announce it up front), I let them know I was an unbeliever. It’s usually a surprise. Half glass full, like I said.

So, what I’m getting at, in my roundabout way, is that we’re representing. Hey, it works for the other side, doesn’t it? Manifest a presence, in a manner of speaking. Go out, press the flesh, chat someone up.

Let me qualify this further (I know, most of you don’t fall into the Jackass! imitator category, those dipsticks who decide to imitate some idiotic WWF maneuver, with horrendous results): get out there, be friendly, look ‘em in the eye, and let them know we’re here. Don’t endanger your livelihood, or provoke a fistfight. We’re rationalists, right? Just use a little judgment. Standing up in the middle of Sunday mass and announcing there ain’t no gawd might be unhealthy. You take my point, so I won’t belabor it. Use a little judgment.

Because it is a lot harder to talk smack about someone you know. Harder yet when they’re likable. Sure, this may not convince everyone, but let’s be realistic: word-of-mouth travels.

So, in short: make yourselves known. Find an appropriate moment for an apropos segue. Discuss it rationally, be polite, smile as much as is possible. Try to let stupidities slide, if you can. Because the days are forthcoming, when the subject’ll be brought up when you’re not there, and somebody will spout off, and hopefully, a heart you’ve touched, a mind you’ve changed, will perhaps pipe up, and say “Hey, I know an atheist. He/she seemed like a great person.” Or something to that effect.

Now go forth, be fruitful, and re-educate the earth, my children. (hehehehe)

Till the next post, then.

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25 comments:

beepbeepitsme said...

It reminds me of a well known saying:

Discretion is the better part of valour.

say no to christ said...

Ka

I understand what you are saying, but I agree with Arron and Olly. Not because I want to take anything away from anyone, but to raise awareness about what is in the bible. Yes, the fudies will have their undies up their ass over it, but the majority of christians don't agree with them and really have no clue what is in the bible. Sometimes you have to make a big stink to get the sleeping to wake up and pay attention. I was once one of those sleeping catholics. It was hearing little things here and there about the bible that really sparked my attention and got me reading it for myself.

Mesoforte said...

Maybe I should move to California. The mere announcment of any doubt (even when done nicely) here in Texas is enough for a large group of people to start a four hour argument with you, only for them to leave off in frustration. Of course, it always ends with "May God bless your soul" or "I'll be praying for you."

Of course, you can come off with friends if you pull a few punches. ^_~

Vile Blasphemer said...

Ugh... Wal-Mart...

Aviaa said...

I agreed with your stance and didn’t sign the petition. I’m all for fighting for rights, even small ones, but I’m not so much for the urging of stores to pull books off their shelves (even in a satirical petition) as it seems as if it will just unnecessarily piss people off… not to mention look vaguely hypocritical.

Entirely off topic…

I’ve been relatively absent from ngb as of late, but I was catching up last night and got an UNREASONABLE amount of *joy* from WATCHING you and remy tear INTO a *certain* poster who makes MY blood pressure *go* up on an extraordinarily frequent basis. Thanks for the grins and giggles.

Mesoforte said...

Aviaa-

I’ve been relatively absent from ngb as of late, but I was catching up last night and got an UNREASONABLE amount of *joy* from WATCHING you and remy tear INTO a *certain* poster who makes MY blood pressure *go* up on an extraordinarily frequent basis. Thanks for the grins and giggles.

Who, preddy?

karen said...

I didn't sign the walmart petition. The people behind the companies have the right to decide what they will stock and sell. I have the right to decide where to shop.
I think their logic is warped, since they will not carry certain ooks because of adult content, when the buybull is rife with the same.

As for representing, I'm a little on edge about going to court this week on behalf of my son, who is trying to get custody of his son. I am to be subpoenaed, and I asked him to notify his lawyer of my atheism, so that perhaps he can have the court clerk tone down the obviousness of it by having the "avowing" oath on hand for me...so I don't have to make an issue of not swearing on the buybull.
If it were something just concerning me, I would feel more comfortable. But it's already hard enough to have custody go to a father, without the paternal grandmother being a heretic!

Meso
I think aviaa was referring to robguy.
He's an odd duck and sometimes gets under my skin too. I often find mself wishing he was on the other side of the fence.

Krystalline Apostate said...

SNTC:
I understand what you are saying, but I agree with Arron and Olly. Not because I want to take anything away from anyone, but to raise awareness about what is in the bible.
I savvy the point, but sometimes we need to pick our battles w/a little more care.
MF:
The mere announcment of any doubt (even when done nicely) here in Texas is enough for a large group of people to start a four hour argument with you, only for them to leave off in frustration.
I kinda got into it w/a co-worker last week. A younger co-worker brought up the subject, an older fella started quizzing me about it, & I heard all about how I DID believe in gawd, how I WASN'T an atheist (he was dictating it to me), so it got a little heated. We covered irreducible complexity, evolution (heard the ole 'you think we descended from monkeys!?!?!?' schtick.
Later on, turns out there's a secular Viennese jew works there (atheist, liberal, leftie, just like me, older fella).
Anyways, we settled down a bit, no hard feelings, but I explained the Abraham & Sarah story to a kid, fella started in w/his 'you believe' schtick.
karen:
As for representing, I'm a little on edge about going to court this week on behalf of my son, who is trying to get custody of his son. I am to be subpoenaed, and I asked him to notify his lawyer of my atheism, so that perhaps he can have the court clerk tone down the obviousness of it by having the "avowing" oath on hand for me...so I don't have to make an issue of not swearing on the buybull.
Just measure the cost, love. Another thought is maybe contacting the ACLU in advance. Tread carefully.
I think aviaa was referring to robguy.
Yeah, Mr. 'Whiter is brighter, sterilize the rest' guy. To paraphrase Peter Griffin, he really 'grinds my gears'.

karen said...

KA
Just measure the cost, love. Another thought is maybe contacting the ACLU in advance. Tread carefully.
No $h*t!
Dunno about contacting the ACLU in advance. Very small town and a lot of "ifs" involved before they'd get into it. But I might give someone a call and just ask. Good idea.
I can't not declare my atheism-the opposing side is aware of it. And I just can't bring myself to swear on the buybull anyhow.
We'll see how it goes. What her side is calling me for doesn't hold water anyway, they may decide to drop it.

Mesoforte said...

karen

Sorry, I haven't been on NGB for a long time. I'm kind of out of touch with what happens there. So, is robguy atheistic? I think that's what you're implying, but I want to be sure.

KA

'you think we descended from monkeys!?!?!?'

That's when you throw out the sarcastic remark, 'I didn't, but you obviously did.' ^_^

Oh well, there is trouble throughout the US then. Perhaps we should try all out philosophical warfare.

karen said...

mesoforte
He claims to be atheist, but I gotta wonder about him. ;)

KA
Update--I just checked out the NC ACLU
online, and it seems they don't generally handle custody cases, my rights have to be violated first, then I have to ask for their help in writing and wait a few weeks for a response. Can't even get any advise going in. Will have to hope my son's lawyer is up on this stuff...

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
Do you have time to contact AA (American Atheists)? Try emailing David or Ellen - if they can't step in, perhaps they can suggest something?
I can't not declare my atheism-the opposing side is aware of it.
You probably realize this already (ducking my head!) - but be ready in case it gets used against ya.

MF:
That's when you throw out the sarcastic remark, 'I didn't, but you obviously did.' ^_^
I kinda dodged that 1 - I have to work w/the guy. I'd say that if it was a deal where I'd walk away & not run into the cat every day. I did correct him on the monkey/common ancestor error.
I did however use the 'he sacrificed himself to himself for a mistake' comment, not to mention that it wasn't a sacrifice if you know you're coming back anyways.

remy said...

I haven't signed but it's due to indecision. I'm a timid sorta fella and sometimes think it's better to be kind, not to ruffle feathers. But then?

meso,
robguy is the sort of atheist you would not want on your debating team. He argues like a theist and seems to have an inflated notion of his intellect based on his worship of VERY smart Phds' who he has identified to be the last word on the subject. He's a real smartypants he is.

Ka, I'm curious to know what response you got to the sacrifice comment.

karen said...

KA
I just emailed Dave and referenced Ellen in the mail. Just asked for advise, not for them to run interference. He may have time to respond; depends on his schedule, I assume.

Yes, I'm prepared for it to nbe used against me. What I'm concerned about is it being used against my son. His ex is a "xian" and her whole family very active in one of the Baptist churches, her grandfather a town magistrate, blah, blah, blah. But their family would supply Jerry Springer with a month of shows easily.
My son decided to try for custody after not being able to get his son for his regular scheduled visits properly and after the ex lost a baby, blew thru $10K on a drug habit, lost one of the twins she was carrying (another pregnancy) and was neglecting their son and had to go into rehab.

Sorry. Didn't mean to dump all that on you. That's only a part of the story. I'm just nervous.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
Sorry. Didn't mean to dump all that on you. That's only a part of the story. I'm just nervous.
Hey, s'all right love.
If the mom's a drug addict, you'd think it wouldn't be a problem. Fingers crossed.

remy:
Ka, I'm curious to know what response you got to the sacrifice comment.
The subject got changed after he thought about it for a second.

remy said...

Ka,

re: subject change

That's been my experience.

I think I've mentioned this but a nurse friend mentioned in passing that she was an atheist to a Saudi intern. The intern put up her hand and declared, "I'm offended", and walked away.

Sometimes one has to remain silent.

karen said...

How is it possible to actually be offended by another person's belief or lack thereof?
You can take offense, but you can't be offended.
Can you?

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
How is it possible to actually be offended by another person's belief or lack thereof?
Why do you think the xtians go batshit on atheist blogs? They're offended. Why do people attack professors for their views on creationism? They're offended. Or throw bricks thru car windows over a darwin fish, or flip out over any & all criticism? Same answer.
Difference offends some people's sensibilities. It's stupid, but fact.

remy:
I think I've mentioned this but a nurse friend mentioned in passing that she was an atheist to a Saudi intern.
Sometimes silence is best. But not always. I've always found it best to let someone cool down a little, & broach the subject later.
& of course, there's no talking to some people at all.

karen said...

KA
Yeah, but there's a big difference between my saying "You're a f*cking idiot for believing in God!" to somewone and simply stating "I'm an atheist."

The first statement is offensive, but the second is not. Yet some will Choose to TAKE offense at it. Like the Darwin fish on the car.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
The first statement is offensive, but the second is not. Yet some will Choose to TAKE offense at it.
Hey, I'm with ya.
This young at work is making it his personal mission to talk me out of it.
He's not having a great deal of success, I might add.
It's far more difficult in person than it is online, lemmee tell ya.

We just need to overcome the inherent prejudice. It's exhausting work, to be sure.

karen said...

KA
So, is your gig over when the election is over?

Aviaa said...

karen-

I just hopped on to read the comments again, and I wanted to let you know that my heart goes out to you. Take care of yourself this week.

Krystalline Apostate said...

karen:
So, is your gig over when the election is over?
I was told it was a 3 month tour, but it may be be over post-election also. Time will tell.

karen said...

aviaa
Thank you. The case ended up being continued till Nov. 16, so I get to stew over it a while longer. :P

Aviaa said...

karen,

Yuck- I, for one, hate forced stewing time, unless it involves soup.