Category Archives: Atheism

Since When Did Graduation Require An Oath?

Do you remember graduating from high school?

I do, vaguely. I remember standing in a long line, then sitting for what seemed like forever while I waited for the “R” section of a graduating class of some 600-plus students to start up. Then I walked some more, shook a hand, grabbed a thing, walked, sat, and done. Oh, and I sang a couple times before all that.

What I don’t remember is having to take an oath. The only “oath” or “pledge” I recall being even remotely involved in high school was the Pledge of Allegiance, and I stopped saying that my senior year based on the fact that the pledge is false. We’re not a nation indivisible, under God, or one with liberty and justice for all. But the pledge wasn’t compulsory. My choice to not say it was perfectly within my rights.

So I admit I’m a little bit confused when I see that Arizona Republicans have apparently proposed a bill that would require high school graduates to take an oath in order to graduate.

The Loyalty Oath reads:

I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.

So, not only is it compelling students to invoke God, clearly a Judeo-Christian reference that not every high school student will actually agree with, it’s also compelling students to, you know, take an oath. While stating in the oath, “I take this obligation freely.”

Except, no… no you don’t. You’re pretty much being blackmailed into taking the oath. You either take the oath or you don’t graduate. With 13 years of education leading you to that moment, a moment that’s practically required to actually get even close to a decent paycheck in America, there’s no way that’s not blackmail. Perhaps it’s not as blatantly malicious as most cases of blackmail, but it’s pretty bad.

And what’s the point of this oath anyway? To force kids to say something they may or may not actually be agreeing with because they really just want their diploma? This doesn’t help education in the least. Arizona remains on my list of worst legislations, continuing to throw education into the crapper and walk all over women’s rights. What a regrettable state.

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What’s The Point Of Athiest Church?

So, the United Kingdom has an atheist church now.

…And it really confuses me.

There’s really not much background to give on this story. Two British comedians, Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, have opened up a church for atheists in London. The church will meet once a month and is described by Jones as “part atheist church” and “part foot-stomping show.” The first service featured guest lecturer Andy Stanton.

Jones gives a reasoning for the church: “We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement.”

Now, to be nit-picky here, church is defined by Merriam-Webster as a place for worship. But atheists do not, to the best of my knowledge, worship anything. Certainly not as a group, and definitely nothing of divinity. So why bother calling the place a church? Why not have an atheist hang out? A regular meeting every month, that sort of thing, where guest lecturers come and talk about whatever.

…though, for that matter, what exactly do they have to meet about that dictates it as a strictly atheistic thing? Originally, I had rather hoped it would just be a massive arcade, because I really miss those. But church, in the religious sense, is generally a meeting held regularly wherein the intricacies of the religion’s dogma are discussed and certain dogmatic beliefs are clarified and fleshed out, typically via a religious leader that has been generally accepted as an authority on such matters.

But there is no atheist dogma beyond “There are no gods.” There are no intricacies to be discussed or clarified. Atheists can generally vary as widely as any other random two people on their views of the ways the world works, so they can’t really have people coming in saying, “This is what we believe and why.” And if it’s just a series of guest lectures on random subjects that may or may not appeal to atheists/a random collection of people, why not just call it a guest lecture series? Universities and cities have them all the time.

I dunno. I mean, good for them, I guess, for trying to bring people together as a community… but if someone could explain what exactly they’re doing and if it really holds any purpose or function that couldn’t easily be obtained elsewhere, I’d love to know.

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Breaking The Leg – Faith And How Everybody Has A Little

Okay. I seriously already posted this. It’s on my Facebook and Twitter. It was posted at 3 a.m. this morning, since I was testing the scheduling thing. It was up. Someone even liked it. And now, it has disappeared. And I will SO not be able to make a completely accurate repeat performance. But I’m going to try.

So, yesterday morning, I woke up far earlier than I’d’ve liked to with a 1 o’clock starting time for work and went forth to have coffee (which, for me, was a proscuitto, egg and cheese sandwich with apple juice) with the new (read: 3-4 months in) pastor at my church. He wanted to get to know me better, since I am a bit of an anomaly. Someone that is a choir member, back-up sound board operator and interim choir director but isn’t actually an official member of the church could definitely be seen as such.

Anyway, during our two hour conversation, we managed to hit many several topics, as we both have thoughts on many subjects and are willing and able to discuss and have civilized debate about the ones we disagree on (which are quite a few in number, actually). And one of the topics we hit was atheism.

I had brought up that, based on my view of what faith is, atheists have some. Granted, nearly every atheist I’ve ever talked to gets annoyed when I try to say this, but that’s how I see things. If faith is belief without complete knowledge, then ANY metaphysical beliefs would have faith involved, since we really don’t know diddly about the metaphysical. Some faith is more subconscious and strongly rooted in evidence while others are more complete jumps into ignorance.

In my first draft of this post, I more fully explained what I mean here. But the explanation is mostly in the scene, and I still haven’t packed for my trip to Georgia, so…

In my play, “Camp Gethsemane,” the subject of faith and its different levels comes up. Really, a lot of subjects come up dealing with theological and secular-as-viewed-theologically topics that I’ve thought on over the years. That’s kind of how my writing tends to work. It’s based on what I know/think. And I think a lot.

So, let me give you the thoughts I have on faith as they play out in the play. This is part of one of the scenes taking place between the calm, loving and knowledgeable Bible Studies teacher and camp counselor, Gary, and the rebellious militant atheist forced to be at the camp by her parents, Mary Grace King. Enjoy.

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GARY: Does that help you understand, Mary?

MARY: …Well, it’s a bit different from what I grew up learning… All the adults at my church definitely taught otherwise.

GARY: “It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right.” That’s from the Book of Job. Now, I’m not saying I’m wiser than anybody, not even those you learned from as a child. But truth and learning can come from many places, if you’re willing to keep an open mind and a searching heart. Always search for the truth and never assume you know it.

MARY: Then how are we supposed to ever function if we’re constantly assuming we’re wrong?

GARY: I’m not saying assume you’re wrong. I’m saying don’t assume at all. Have faith that you’re right.

MARY: Faith is just an excuse people use when they’re ignorant.

GARY: Is it? Everybody exerts some amount of faith. When we make plans for the future, we believe we will be alive to see them through. But we don’t really know that. We do it in faith. Now, it may not be quite the same as faith in God, but it’s still faith: Belief in that which we cannot know. And I’m not saying you should look for proof about the things you have faith in, especially not God. After all, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And since there isn’t any solid proof of God as we understand Him, looking for it is a waste of time. Claiming to know is not only a misjudgment, but it cheapens faith in God. Anyone can believe what they know. It takes courage to stand up and assert that you have faith. …But it’s not shame to not assert and to continue searching for evidence.

MARY: I thought you said there was no evidence?

GARY: No proof, not no evidence. I have faith that God exists. I believe that creation – the universe, this earth, you and I – is evidence of that. But it’s not proof. …Think of it like this: When you went to bed last night, you had faith that you would wake up in the morning. You had evidence to support that thought – you’ve done so every time in the past, you’re young and healthy, the cabins are secure so no one can come in and harm you, et cetera. But could you prove it? Until you actually woke up, you had no solid, beyond a shadow of a doubt proof that you would. Now, I won’t say that the evidence for a deity, much less a specific one, is quite that strong. But I believe it’s there. I’ve seen it in my life. I have faith that the evidence points towards God. I know I could be wrong, but I have faith I’m not. Understand?

MARY: …I have to think about it.

GARY: (Smiling.) That’s alright. Thinking about it is really what I ask you do, (To class.) and what I’d ask all of you to do. Now, are there any other questions? (Silence. GARY looks at his watch.) Well, we’ve covered quite a bit today. I think this is a great place to end today’s lesson. I hope you’ll all use some of your free time to think about the things we’ve talked about here. I’ll see you all tomorrow.

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Breaking The Leg – A Brief First Look At “Camp Gethsemane”

Well. There’s been a lot of politics and people saying things of varying stupidity this weekend. Maybe not as many as usual, but enough to make a man slightly weary of it all to, well, continue to be slightly weary of it all. Proof of human stupidity via politics and pundits is not the way I feel like spending my nap time today. However, I have been reading and scribbling down some notes for my continuing project, the 5 act play “Camp Gethsemane.” If you missed my previous mention of the play, it’s a play about faith and humanity. Discovery in adversity and doubt. Lots of Christianity and atheism, but lots of the human condition beneath that.

…well, that’s what I hope will come across to the future students reading my masterpiece. (Feigned arrogance is healthy for you, don’t you know?)

At any rate, with my recent scribblings and thoughts on the matter, I’ve decided to let slip a small section of the play as it’s currently written and hopefully get some opinions. (Yeah, I’m doing real well with this writing new stuff thing. Two of the past three days I give you something I wrote a while back? I must’ve used all my creativity talking about Hitler yesterday…)

This is a scene in Act I involving two of the Bible teachers at the Christian summer camp (called Camp Gethsemane, of course), Frank and Gary. The man who runs the camp, Craig, will enter in during the scene. Please do let me know what you think, should you read it. This is by no means a final draft. And maybe tomorrow I’ll be back in fine form, ranting about all things political.

SCENE 4

Later that day, in the same area. FRANK has entered and is sitting in a chair.

FRANK: I heard your class had a bit of a troublemaker in it, Gary.

GARY: No, no troublemaker. Just someone who simply has questions and needs to be led to the truth.

FRANK: Right, right. What was it she asked about?

GARY: She asked where Cain got his wife.

FRANK: Really? What does that even matter?

GARY: Well, it helps us understand the culture and the time. Besides, if we are unable to provide an answer from Scripture, it suggests that Scripture is incomplete. Flawed. And it lowers the amount of trust the students have in us.

FRANK: Hm. I think you’re a bit too lenient, letting them ask so many questions. I’d’ve just kept them quiet and made them listen.

GARY: “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”.

FRANK: Well, it’s much easier to instruct without interruptions… Anyway, I heard that wasn’t all she did.

GARY: Yes. She later asked about evolution and whether Christians could believe in it.

FRANK: Well, that’s just… That’s ridiculous! Why even ask that question? …What’d you tell her?

CRAIG enters.

GARY: I told her that there are several theories as to what the Scripture says about the creation. Some feel the days are symbolic, as opposed to six 24-hour days, and–

CRAIG: And they’d be wrong. God didn’t create the ape or the frog or the fish only to turn them into human beings. He created, from the dirt, one man: Adam. And from Adam and from Eve are all humans derived.

GARY: I understand your position on the subject, sir, but I wanted to show all sides of the–

CRAIG: There is only one side, Mr. Carter. That side is the Scripture, God’s Holy Word. And the Scripture says six days. Six rises and falls of light. And Man was created on that sixth day from the dirt, not from another animal.

GARY: I explained that side, too, Mr. Thompson. But not all theologians agree with you. Pope John Paul II even said–

CRAIG: The Catholic Church – that whore of Babylon – does not hold the authority over the Scripture, Mr. Carter. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” False teachers are all around us, Mr. Carter. That includes the Catholic Church, and any who support anything that is not found in the Scripture. It would do you well to teach your students Scripture, not man’s understanding of it. Like Mr. Singer here.

FRANK: Thank you, sir. I do my best.

CRAIG: I know you do. Keep up the good work with the Good Word. (Exits.)

GARY: So, Frank… do you think that’s how the Word should be taught? That there’s only one way to understand it?

FRANK: But there is only one truth! God’s Word is that truth.

GARY: …You know, several hundred years ago, people thought that God’s Word said the earth was the center of the universe, and that it was alright to torture people into becoming “believers” in Christ.

FRANK: Yeah, but we have a much better understanding of Scripture now. And we’re not corrupt like they were back then.

GARY: …Maybe you’re right. But I think I’ll continue to teach the way God leads me to teach.

FRANK: Well… I wouldn’t want to go against Mr. Thompson, but I guess do what you think is best. Personally, I think we should make sure the kids here understand that their destiny is a fiery pit if they don’t find Christ.

GARY: Why not teach about the love Christ had for people? The examples of compassion, the teachings of friendship and mercy?

FRANK: They’ll learn to be good after they find God.

GARY: …I hope so.

FRANK: Well, I’m going to go talk with Mr. Thompson, get some guidance. I’ll talk to you later, Gary. (Exits.)

GARY: …The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools. …Lord, give me strength. Let me not stray… (Exits.)

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In Defense Of The Christian Way

Sorry. Tonight is another cop-out. My life isn’t exactly the peachiest of keens at the moment, and I didn’t manage to write a post before it ended up that way. Not that I was really having much in the way of ideas on what to write about. But, don’t worry. I won’t go emo on you or anything. I’ll just leave you with a bit of satire I wrote a couple years ago that seems to be returning in its relevancy. See, this year, as happened two years ago, the Alabama Atheists and Agnostics at UA have been seeing their chalkings washed away, despite the chalking being perfectly legal in every way. Two years ago when it happened and there was a slight explosion of media in the Op/Ed pages of The Crimson White, I wrote the following Stephen Colbert-esque satire, which of course never saw print.

Here it is:

When I read Opinions section of the Sept. 30 edition of The Crimson White, I can honestly say that I was not at all surprised. When the talk of the town is a group of atheists are butting heads with a group of Christians, there’s no question about whom the people and the liberal media of this Christian nation will side with: the atheists, of course. For those unaware, apparently a group of atheists and agnostics, also known as people too afraid to flat out say they hate God, went around Sunday, Sept. 27, and wrote some hateful, slanderous phrases and slogans with chalk all around the Ferguson Center, clearly trying to wile the weaker and more naïve Christians and spiritually confused students of this campus into falling into their trap and take the unsuspecting victims with them on their train ride to hell.

I mean, come on. “You can be good without God”? Please. Everyone knows that God created morals, which means all atheists have no morals. These non-believers are clearly just trying to cover up all the good, Christian facts about the world.

The controversy really exploded when a group of loving, caring and clearly God-fearing Christians discovered the travesty and tried to save souls. They immediately went forth to protect their brothers and sisters and stop this hate from being disseminated fully into the student body. They took water, Holy in its use and purpose, and washed clean the sinful chalky sayings.

The Opinions page on that Wednesday following the Holy Crusade those martyr-like Christians took was filled with nothing but condemnations and anger against those Good Samaritans, except for the stuff that wasn’t about them. I was totally lacking in shock and actually came to expect this. Clearly, this is just another case of the 76-plus percent of Christians in America being oppressed by the non-believers and the liberal (Latin for “scourge of God”) media. It is just a sad sign of the times, and a clear continuation of the blatant, egregious attacks on God and His people that have been going on this past decade.

Consider the attack on the Pledge of Allegiance taken by now infamous atheist Michael Newdow. When our late-coming Founding Father, Dwight D. Eisenhower, added “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance, it was because God told him to do it since Ben Franklin in his old age clearly just forgot. Just because an atheist refuses to believe God exists doesn’t mean they shouldn’t obey Him. You won’t like God when He’s angry. And the War On Christmas? Everyone knows that Santa Claus and gift giving commercialism are as Christian as it gets. To get rid of Christ would eliminate the holiday all together!

So I’m glad to hear some Christians are fighting back. Not just with the chalking, either. The other day, Dr. Kukla of the department of philosophy gave a lecture titled “The Logical Impossibility of God,” in which he took the Fine Tuning argument for the existence of God and showed that it was fallacious, though not showing God does not exist. The fliers announcing his lecture were apparently ripped down en masse. Yet another home run for the Christian way!

The people of this Christian nation have oppressed Christians long enough. We are merely doing our God-mandated duty when we cover up uncomfortable facts, like atheists exist on campus. It’s what we’ve always done. Imagine what the world would be like if the Catholic Church had agreed with Galileo’s suggestion of a heliocentric system of planets. We’d probably be trying to live on Mars, and I’ve been told it’s very difficult to breathe there. So, I accept your thanks on behalf of all Christians for saving humanity the trouble of trying to find ways to breathe on other planets.

Christians of this campus, keep on doing the good work. Tear down any signs you see promoting a different view point and deface any proclamation you see announcing that people of a different religious belief exist. After all, Jesus set the example by kicking anyone that disagreed with him in the face, as lovingly as possible. The only way to get the Christian message of love across to people is to keep blocking their view of facts and other points of view. Eventually, they’ll forget that any other religions exist and be Christians by default.

I really need to start reading these things in full before posting them. Cut off the last sentence. My bad.

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Church and Chaz Bono: How Dumb Can We Get?

Alright. Some of this news is a bit old, some of it a bit new. All of it is a bit stupid.

Let’s start with Chaz, shall we? For those people that like to combine horrendous dancing in competitive form with their doses of reality TV, you’ve got a few choices. “America’s Got Talent,” “So You Think You Can Dance?,” heck, I’m sure “Jersey Shore” has some dancing that happens somewhere in there. But if you want to see often out of shape and not exactly visually appetizing “celebrities” (or people looking to make sure America remembers who they are, exactly [Yes, I’m looking at you, David Hasselhoff.]), then look no further than “Dancing with the Stars.” And before you think this is solely an American deal, know that it is licensed in 32 countries and actually originated in the United Kingdom as “Strictly Come Dancing.” Yes, it seems the UK is actually the root of a LOT of our rather awful competitive reality TV shows (“America’s Got Talent” was originally “Britain’s Got Talent,” and “American Idol” is a spin-off of the UK’s “Pop Idol.” Meaning the UK can be seen as the root of most of my nightmares and broken eardrums. Thanks a lot.).

Seriously, this show has been on for 13 seasons in 6 years, running two seasons a year. Celebrity competitors have included Kelly Monaco, Tatum O’Neal, Jerry Rice, Jerry Springer, Billy Ray Cyrus, Marie Osmond, Penn Jillette (Without Teller? How DARE he!), Kim Kardashian, David Hasselhoff, Tom DeLay and Nancy Grace. And a billion other celebrities, the majority of which you really don’t want to see dancing. (Kathy Ireland and Shawn Johnson I’m alright with.) Not to mention, some of these celebrities are really in some amount of questionable taste. This time, I cast my gaze upon Tom DeLay.

At any rate, for those of you that don’t actually CARE about shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” but for some reason have had the knowledge of someone named Chaz Bono being on the show and causing a ruckus thrust upon you, then allow me to explain while lamenting the fact that I, too, don’t actually care about this show even a little bit.

First, who is Chaz Bono? That’s right, I had absolutely no clue until the media (well, FOX News, at least) decided that I should be outraged about his inclusion in a competitive dance show that seriously nobody cares about. …wait, last season had an average of almost 20 million people watching per episode? …Scratch that, I guess there’s a reason shows like this and “Survivor” are still alive against all intelligible odds.

Anyway, Chaz Bono is the only child of Sonny and Cher. Chaz was their daughter.

But wait! I said Chaz is a guy! Yes, well, here lies the outrage. Chaz Bono was born Chastity Sun Bono. Chaz is a female-to-male post-op transgender man. And of course, this sort of irregular, strange lifestyle so far from the normalcy of our moral Christian and political right cannot be tolerated, especially on a national television show. If you’d like to see the angriest comedian on this planet react to this bit of news, look no further than Lewis Black’s “The Daily Show” segment “Back in Black.”

Now, while I’m not 100% certain if watching Keith Ablow will make you an asshole, I am pretty certain that agreeing with him will. Or at least is a sign you already are one. At least on the whole idea that being a competitor on a reality TV show can raise you to a heroic standing equivalent to that of a Civil Rights leader like, say, Martin Luther King, Jr. Because there are so many holidays named after winners of “Big Brother.”

But that’s perhaps unfair of me. Perhaps there’s just some amount of ignorance on the subject of transgendered people. I admit, I wasn’t always on the up-and-up, and only became knowledgeable about the transgendered community by befriending several people that are, in fact, transgendered. It’s a subject that doesn’t get much media coverage (unless it’s to have people shout about how evil it is) or accurate information proliferated. But here’s the dealio. There are, in fact, some people that choose to undergo a physical gender transition. Not all transgendered people do that, for many reasons (including money). And not all people that do that are actually transgendered. But transgendered people are not new. Nor do they choose to be transgendered. Deal with it, please, and stop treating them like they are evil. It’s ridiculous.

Now, as for the American Family Association’s outcries… Before you guys started whining, how many people actually knew who Chaz Bono was, and knew that he is transgendered? If your concern is for the kids, how many kids do you think knew about all that? And if they already knew, then wouldn’t the issue have already been out of the bag? If they didn’t know, how the heck would they have known? How many kids would have pointed at Chaz and said, “Mommy, why does that guy look different?” Do they think children have a sixth sense for sniffing out people that aren’t heterosexual, non-transgendered persons? I mean, did the show make a big deal out of it? I haven’t heard about any big deals being made by the show, just by outraged persons. This, boys and girls, is how to have the exact opposite effect you say you wanted. Or to show that your agenda isn’t the one you say it is, but is rather an attempt to force morality on people. Morality that is hateful and segregated.

And on the issue of morality enforcement, let’s look on down at my home state of Alabama, where in Bay Minette, first time non-violent offenders are being offered the choice of jail time or a year of church.

Hoo boy.

Now, while going to church once a week for a year would mean that these criminals would be attending church more often than most “church-goers” seem to, you might be able to guess at some of the problems with this program. Such as the whole not making laws that are in support of a specific religion. And since I don’t see any mosques, temples or synagogues being mentioned as choices, not to mention atheists that don’t really tolerate going to church have no choice but jail time, that kind of seems to fly in the face of that pesky First Amendment.

And then there’s the inherent idea that going to a Christian church every day for a year will help reform criminals. Who says they hadn’t been going to church before they were arrested? Besides, as far as I recall, religious services are offered in jails. They have preachers and the like that can visit their and preach to the convicts. So why the need for the law?

I’ve seen some mighty disgusting people that attend church all the time. People that hate, demand death, discriminate… you know, pretty much everything Jesus said people shouldn’t do. Some of these people have gone to church all their life. Some are even pastors. Maybe once Christian churches can actually all teach the same, Christian values and morals and then follow through with them, such offerings will be actual viable solutions. Until that day, which will likely be sometime after the end of the world, let’s try and not fly in the face of all things Constitutional, alright? And can we PLEASE start actually loving our fellow man instead of pointing at them and shouting “You’re different! We don’t like you!”?

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Breaking The Leg – Calling All Atheist Bible Scholars

So, I’ve decided, since I said in my explanation of this blog that I would even post creative writing as I felt like it, to start up a section for my creative writing called “Breaking The Leg.” It’s all in the title and everything!

But first, a bit of an explanation and a bit of trivia to go with the title. I am a writer (it’d hard to have a blog with no pictures or video and not be one) that writes in many a form. However, lately, the majority of my creative writings have centered on theatre and film. I’ve written several monologues that I’ve used for audition pieces and have several screen plays and plays that are currently unfinished projects. Being that my writings are mostly theatrically based right now, I decided to go for a theatrically based segment name, “Breaking The Leg,” taken from the phrase “break a leg.”

Now, for your trivia. I learned this summer where the phrase “break a leg” comes from, and personally find it interesting. As some may know, on a stage, there are sections known as legs. While you are in the legs, you (theoretically) cannot be seen by the audience and you are not on the stage proper. The phrase “break a leg” hearkens back to the days of old American theatre (actually about a century or so after theatre had gotten started in America, but when Broadway was first starting to become the central location for theatre). In the days of the Ziegfeld Follies, one did not get paid unless one appeared on stage that night. So, the phrase “break a leg” was a phrase used to express hope that you would get paid for performing that night. To “break the leg” was to go beyond the leg onto the stage. Since then, it’s become a phrase that essentially means “good luck.” Neat, huh?

Anyway, the project I’m focusing most of my creative attention on currently is a play I started writing about 3 years ago called “Camp Gethsemane.” While I whittled out the grand scheme of things, the basic idea and the characters and what direction the show would go, I ended up after a year or so with only two or four pages. Then, last school year, in the fall, I took an independent study in playwriting with Dr. Steve Burch. With his guidance, and the suggestions of a friend, I ended up scrapping the pages I’d written and starting over. And now, I’m approximately halfway done with the show at about 30 pages in. (That’s normal size pages. This play will probably be a bit long, being that it’s 5 acts with 5 scenes per act, except act 3, which will have 6 scenes.)

The biggest problem is this: if you can’t tell from the name, “Camp Gethsemane” is a rather Christianity-heavy play. It’s about the discoveries of faith and, through those discoveries, the discoveries of who the characters are as people. Being as Christianity-heavy as it is, I end up doing a whole mess of a lot of research to try and be accurate and faithful to the different interpretations of Scripture that the different characters have. One of the characters is, in fact, an atheist.

And that’s where one of my biggest problems enters in. Being that I’m not myself an atheist, I’m less able to put myself in their shoes and find arguments against Scripture. I’m far better at finding Scripture to argue with Scripture, or argue against things like the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and whatnot.

Right now, my main atheist character and my more model Christian Bible teacher character have a blank spot in my play where an argument about Job is supposed to be. I picked Job because it fits the timeline of the class better, and because I know it is one of the more controversial books in the Bible.

Unfortunately, I’m having a terrible time putting the arguments for why Job is a controversial book into intelligent wording. So, I reach out for help. If anyone, particularly atheists, can use Bible Scripture to talk about how Job is a “bad book,” it would be much appreciated. This character is one that’s been raised in your stereotypical, somewhat conservative, somewhat intolerant modern Christian church. She’s smart, knows a lot about Scripture, and knows how to hold her ground, though this argument is supposed to get her rather emotional.

At any rate, I appreciate any help you can give. Thanks, all.

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Atheists And 9/11: Get Over It

Now, I know this post is going to make some people really angry. And possibly make it seem like I can’t make up my mind about religion and government. But, hey. If people choose to get upset over what one random, powerless person has to say on the subject, that’s just fine. Besides. Whatever you call me, I’ve been called worse. No joke.

Some of you may recall a time nearly 10 years ago when America suffered a huge tragedy. September 11, 2001. The World Trade Center was destroyed and we’ve been at war in the Middle East pretty much ever since.

Well, of course, there was talk almost immediately about rebuilding, or possibly building a monument, and monument won out. Of course, that hasn’t stopped people complaining about things.

For example, people went up in arms about a year ago when there was talk of an Islamic community center being built within a few blocks of the site. Being that radical Muslims were the ones at the center of the attack on 9/11, people got perhaps slightly understandably upset. Personally, I see absolutely no reason for it not to be built. Especially since it’s a community center, and not a mosque like everyone supposed.

But Islam isn’t the only religion involved with the memorial site that is bringing people up in arms. Now, Christianity is causing people physical harm, apparently.

No idea as to what I’m talking about? Well, if you haven’t heard, the group American Atheists is suing because of the inclusion of the World Trade Center cross in the museum that is to be part of the site.

On what grounds? Well, apparently, they are claiming that the inclusion of the cross in the museum has caused atheists “headaches, dyspepsia and physical injury.”

Reading the article, this is the first point where I had to stop and give a very loud WTF.

As I said before, I know my taking this stance will upset some people. Hell, it may even cause headaches or dyspepsia. Especially since I’ve before been critical of the entire idea of religion being included in anything government oriented, particularly with a focus on law.

But claiming that the inclusion of an artifact that has been at the wreckage for almost 10 years in a museum dedicated to the remembrance of the event and the subsequent events affected by the attack is causing headaches and physical harm? Grow up.

I mean, good grief. If you won money in the lawsuit, would you get headaches over the fact your money had “In God We Trust” written all over it? Doubt it.

I decided to watch the video embedded in the article I’ve linked above, and I was given a further WTF not too far in when the FOX News anchor (Yes, of course this is on FOX News, and yes, it does in fact hurt to agree with one of their anchors.) mentioned that American Atheists is suing to either have it removed… or to include an atheist shrine.

…an atheist shrine. Really. And what exactly would that be, hm? A picture of Richard Dawkins surrounded by philosophy textbooks? Lord knows that anyone religious can’t believe in science and non-Christian philosophy. That’s just silly.

President of American Atheists David Silverman goes on to argue that their suit is about equality.

And I have to laugh at this and say, no. No it isn’t.

See, if this suit were about equality, they would sue to A) remove the artifact or B) have an artifact for every single religion worshiped in America included in the museum. Instead, they only want an atheist artifact to share room with the Christian artifact. Correct me if I’m wrong, but atheism and Christianity aren’t the only two religious stances held in America, right? Silverman even talks about Jews and Muslims in his argument, but the American Atheists seem to have forgotten them in the whole equality inclusion bits. Instead, they want an equality of exclusion.

Now, here’s where things get tricky. Yes, there is supposed to be a separation of church and state insofar as the government, on any level, is not supposed to support any religious viewpoints fiscally, legally or otherwise. They’re just not supposed to, not even if they gave every religious belief and non-belief held in America equal support.

Silverman argues that the religious icon being put in a public area, using public money, is illegal.

But let’s look at the World Trade Center cross. What exactly is it? Well, according to Wikipedia, (Yeah, I’m using Wikipedia. Shush.) two days after the attacks during the clean-up and rescue efforts, a worker named Frank Silecchia discovered two steel beams that resembled a Christian cross in the wreckage. Workers and others with access to the wreckage used it as a shrine of sorts, scribbling messages on it and praying in front of it. Eventually, it was impeding work, so they put the cross on a pedestal in the wreckage, where people continued to pray and such near it.

Again, it kind of hurts to be agreeing with a FOX News anchor, but when Megyn Kelly said that the cross was not created, but discovered in the wreckage, and meaning was derived from it for people at the site, I have to agree that it has become part of the history of the attack and its aftermath. There are workers that saw the rubble and drew hope and strength from it. Yes, you may think that’s stupid, or that such an event is just as idiotic as finding Mary’s face in a grilled cheese sandwich and worshiping that. Maybe you’d be right. But I think Kelly has a point when she said if there were a menorah or a sickle and star found in the wreckage, that would be included in the museum, too. Yes, being that things are made with crossbeams and not sickle and star beams, the appearance of such anomalies are hugely unlikely. But the argument still stands.

But, really, the biggest problem I have with this lawsuit is how childish it seems. The presence of a religious item in a public museum is not cause to crap your pants and get upset. You know what else is an item with religious mentions and historical significance you can find in a museum somewhere? The Declaration of Independence. It talks of Nature’s God and a Creator. True, that’s not necessarily Christianity being touted there, but it certainly isn’t atheism. And the George Washington Bible has been used in several government affairs, including inaugurations and funerals.

Religion exists in America. So does non-religion. Simple facts. The presence of a cross that has a significance in the aftermath of 9/11 in a museum where no one is being forced to believe in it or derive any special meaning from it is a non-issue. Really. There are far more important issues involving religion and government mingling that should be taken up, like creationism being taught in public schools as a science, or laws banning religious worship centers because they’re Muslim, or Congresspeople voting against same-sex marriage on religious foundations.

Those are the issues. Those are the fights to fight. This? This is not a fight. This is a petty squabble, and a pointless one that will cause nothing but grief. And it’s a surefire way to get people to stop listening to your points and start painting you with a broad brushstroke.

And as for this stuff about it causing headaches? Grow up and get over it. If the presence of religious icons causes you that much grief, then you’re in a bit of trouble. Fight for the real injustices, not the petty things that don’t actually detract from anything.

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