WG 4

This week’s theme: Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read. Using images (of the book covers or whatever you feel illustrates your topic) present these books in your blog.

I need to get this post up! when I first read the blurb at Weekly Geeks I thought "I'll do the dumbing down of America" but now 2 people have done that. Then I thought "I could write about local food or going green" but now there are two of those posts as well!

So I am writing about being an atheist. In case you hadn't realized, I am. This to me falls under a political issue because other people make their religion political. My lack of religion is more of a big deal in Tennessee than it ever was in south Louisiana. I guess in Louisiana it is just kinda assumed you're Catholic unless you advertise otherwise so it's no big deal. Nobody asks what church you go to or who your pastor is. While there are more Catholic churches there, the total number of churches is a lot less than in Nashville. People are so pushy about it here. I really think they must give out a big tv at some churches to the person who brings in the most new people each year. I don't want to be preached to at the grocery store, or the library, or while walking in my neighborhood. When I had to fill out paperwork for my gall bladder surgery a few years ago the admit nurse got on me for not filling out the religion box.

"Everyone needs a religion," he said as he started to launch into his speil.

"Put down Catholic," I said, wanting to preempt the lecture and figuring if I did die in surgery my mother would feel better knowing I had the last rites.

All this ranting to say that I think that my anti-religious feeling has grown in the last 7 years due to both where I have been living as well as the political climate. While I have plenty of problems with religion in general (promoting group-think, blind obedience to those in a position of authority and magical thinking being the biggest) it is really the conservative sections of all types that get me going. My suggestions are a mix of things.

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I've read this one, and did enjoy it, if you can say you enjoyed a story so full of pain. Explores the author's experience with conservative religion, in this case Islam, and how she came to not believe in it. It is disturbing and not for the squeamish.

The End of Faith by Sam Harris. I highly recommend this to anyone. I read this before i started blogging and it really stuck in my thinking. Pointing out a lot of reasons why religion is damaging to humanity, Harris also censures mainstream religion for tolerating and even helping the extremists by not getting rid of the more useless parts of their holy books (stoning disobedient children? selling your daughters to slavery?).

Atheism Explained: From Folly to Philosophy by David Ramsay Steele. One I have not read but is on my list. Based on the blurbs, it both dismantles various pro-God arguments and also builds on the atheist arguments.

Everything You Know about God is Wrong edited by Russ Kick. He's the editor of the various Disinformation Guides, which are great. Another I haven't read, this popped up on my radar because it features a Neil Gaiman comic about a biblical atrocity that could have sent the publisher to prison!

The Separation of Church and State: Writings on a Fundamental Freedom by America's Founders by Forrest Church. Not one I've read either but on my wishlist now. Want to read what Jefferson, Washington, Adams and others actually wrote about church and state issues? This is a compilation of their writings.

So I would think any of these would be great reads. If you want to jump into some really militant atheism, which i have personally enjoyed, try recent ones by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens.

I really have to thank Dewey for framing this theme this way. It made me figure out how to add picture in particular places! So since I now know how to do this, here's a bit of Tennessee for everyone!


  1. Anonymous20/5/08 23:19

    I had to chime in our your post to give you a high-five. Your paragraph about how pushy people are -- I've experienced this. I'm not very far from you, only an hour from the TN/AR border, and I have that same problem here. People get in my face about it so often, and it's gotten so much worse as I've gotten older, and also become more liberal. I've lost a lot of good friends because of it.

    I'm sorry that nurse did that to you. :( How unprofessional.

    I think you're brave coming out and stating this explicitly; it's hard to do in too many venues these days. Awesome for you! I might add some of these books to the list; I've never really read any nonfiction for the topic before.

    Also, sorry for stealing your original post. ;)

  2. "Everything You Know about God is Wrong edited by Russ Kick. He's the editor of the various Disinformation Guides, which are great. Another I haven't read, this popped up on my radar because it features a Neil Gaiman comic about a biblical atrocity that could have sent the publisher to prison!"

    How come I didn't know this?? I must get that book.

    Anyway, awesome post. I get a lot of crap for being an atheist too. Less so in the last few years, but it's because I barely tell people anything about me at all. Which is not the way, I know, but I'm tired of arguing and being judged.

    What that nurse did is unbelievable. Similar things have happened to me, though.

  3. Ok, I have to comment, even though I disagree (and don't worry, I'm not going to be negative). :)

    I think you put up a great post! Although I am a Christian, I do understand that many people can be very pushy about their religion ... to the point where they are seriously irritating other people. I appreciate the books you listed and may add a few to my TBR list, since I like to stay informed on all topics. (Actually, Infidel is already on my list.)

    And I'm sorry that you've had such bad experiences with "religious" people ... I'm sure you know that not all of us are that bad! LOL

  4. I'm an atheist, too, but fortunately, I live in a place where that is not uncommon.

    I guess actually I'm technically an agnostic, because I don't believe we can KNOW anything for sure about what happens when we die, and I feel that if I went around saying I KNOW FOR SURE there is no god, then I'd be just as arrogant and presumptuous as people who claim to know there IS one. But I say atheist because the connotation, the way people interpret that word, is closer to my opinion than the way they interpret the word agnostic. So many people seem to think agnostic means various things like you believe in a supernatural being but just don't like church, for example.

    But wow, hats off to you and Renay for living in the south as atheists. Not sure I could hack that. I mean, I already tell Mormons who come to the door that I believe religion is a socially accepted mental illness; I can't see having to state such an unconventional opinion to nurses and grocery store clerks.

  5. Renay--don't worry about the topic, your post was great. As for the nurse, now that i'm a little older i think i'd handle it one of two ways: say something really random like "zoroastrian" or just try to be more firm/confident about the lack of religion. I had just found out i was going to have surgery so was a bit freaked.

    Nymeth--I think that book came out within the last year but i don't know how old the comic is.

    Heather--I don't have a problem with religious people in general. AME members particularly really seem to have a joy about religion and they don't push it toward others. I just don't want to be bugged for what it think. No one gets annoyed that my favorite color is blue or that i find tall men attractive, so why should something else i think be a problem?

    Dewey--agnostic is a more all encompassing word but my feeling is that if i say that i'm giving other people an opening. if i lived somewhere more liberal i might switch to saying that.

  6. Great post and great list of interesting books - Infidel is already on my list too.

    And I know what you mean about pushy people... There are so many of them around!


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