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Self Rules

I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this blog site. I haven’t posted much over the last year, but that’s because I am a different person—in a sense—than I was in January 2014. I know I entitled this blog “Hope, Love, and Peace,” and I still believe in those qualities. But I also believe in authenticity, and I am more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever felt before. I want to blog more. You’re going to see a lot more of me—a lot more genuine me—probably a bit more edgy, and hopefully more inspiring. If you stick around, you might even witness me coming out some more. But you might not like it. I can’t help that last part.

Kate Schell recently published a long list of modesty “rules” that girls have to deal with, especially in religious fundamentalist families. These messages teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies, ashamed of being women, ashamed of themselves.  Click to continue »

I (Used to, Want to) Really Like Christmas

Earlier this year, I shared this funny nativity scene photo on my own Facebook wall (one of 150,000 or so who did), and was soundly thrashed (by someone who is no longer my Facebook friend). And what was supposed to be a cute, fun photo turned into a theological discussion.

I’m noticing that I could say some things with perfect impunity as a “Christian” (even if in name only), which as an atheist almost surely get a Bible verse thrown at me. Almost makes me sorry I came out.

My Evangelical brother (who thought it was quite funny) also shared this same photo on his timeline, with a suggestion that his church’s youth group put one together. Apparently the suggestion didn’t go over too well, but at least no one said they were praying for God’s forgiveness for him, on account of his spiritual ignorance.

They should be thankful I didn’t post one of the other funny nativity scenes out there, especially the naked dudes one, which I thought was brilliant and hilarious. I almost uploaded that one to Facebook just to give an “up yours” to whatever sex-negative friends I might have left.  Click to continue »

Atheist Problems

Ever since coming out atheist, I’ve noticed that people interact with me differently than they did before. And I interact with them differently.

As a result, I’ve found these extremely funny.

There’s one kind of atheist problem, like that posed by the most Reverend E.F. Briggs. (Because when E.F. Briggs talks, people tune out.) E.F. Briggs of the slogan: “Anti-God is Anti-American / Anti-American is Treason / Traitors lead to Civil War.” Apparently not believing is God is now a federal crime. Or at least sufficient cause for public lynching. On the other hand, who could ever feel truly threatened by a “lunatic atheist”? (A religious nut, that’s who.)

That’s not the kind of atheist problem I have in mind, though. I mean the kind that we normal atheists deal with everyday from our slightly-less-nutty religious culture.  Click to continue »

An Atheist in an Airplane

No one raised in a religious environment wants to come out atheist. Few people who grew up in the US would want to use that word. And when I finally told one of my close friends that I was an atheist, she said, “Oh no! You lost your faith?!” But after I explained exactly what I believed and why, her tone softened. “Oh, that’s pretty much what I think, too.”

Or as Julia Sweeney described it in her solo show Letting Go of God:

I think that my parents had been mildly disappointed when I’d said I didn’t believe in God any more, but being an atheist was another thing altogether.

I grew up in a Pentecostal church. My dad was the pastor. I was raised an Evangelical fundamentalist. But my parents also taught me to think for myself, and I continued to learn and to explore the rationale for my beliefs. If you examine my writings over the past 25 years or so, you may be able to detect a subtle, gradual shift in the underlying vibe, a progression away from religious conservatism, toward liberalism and sex-positivity, but always with a nod to the dogma, as if a bungee cord attached me to my fundamentalist roots.  Click to continue »

A Born Again Unbeliever

The last time I wrote to you, I was a Christian fundamentalist. Now, I’m not.

That’s not quite true. The last time I wrote to you, I still gave a nod to Christian fundamentalism. Now, I do not.

In April, that house of cards collapsed. And while the fundamentalist dogma runs deep, I think you’ll find I’m largely the same guy you knew, but hopefully new and improved.

This is my coming-out post.

I remember wanting to be an atheist a couple years ago. I was listening to an episode of Penn’s Sunday School. I don’t remember which one; I think it was an early episode.

As I recall, Penn told a story of a fan who came up to him after one of the Penn & Teller shows. The fan told him, he didn’t believe in God, but he couldn’t tell that to his family or friends, because his entire sense of community, his entire support structure, depended on them thinking that he was still a believer. And I thought, Yeah. That’s me. I wish I could just not believe in God. It would simplify so many things. But my life, my family, my synagogue, my friends, they all depend on me worshipping—or appearing to worship—Abraham’s God. On top of that, I was heavily involved in synagogue life. I sometimes led music for the Shabbat Shacharit service. And I was a home-group leader.  Click to continue »

More Myths about Sex

(This is part 5 in my series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

We pick up this week with more myths about sex and relationships, especially that part about relationships.

Myth: “The right person will bring you lifelong happiness.”

Is it all in my mind?
Cause it seems so hard to believe
That you’re all I need. (Jack Wagner)

You bring me hope when I can’t breathe.
You give me love, you’re all I need. (Christina Aguilera)

All I need, all all I need… Is you smiling.
All I need, all all I need… Is life, love with you. (Awolnation)

You are all I need.
I’m in the middle of your picture,
Lying in the reeds. (Radiohead)

I’m holding on to you, holding on to me,
Maybe it’s all we got but it’s all I need.
You’re all I need. (Mat Kearney)

You’re all, I need—
Lie together, cry together,
I swear to God I hope we fucking die together
—to get by. (Method Man)

Truth: The right person will support you in your lifelong pursuit of happiness.

And you will support him.  Click to continue »

Myths about Sex

(This is part 4 in my series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

In the words of psychologist David Ley, “many of our beliefs about sexuality have been based on myths and subjective fears.”

Indeed, numerous myths about sex and relationships persistently circulate in religion and pop culture, and you’ve been exposed to both.

Here are some of the more significant myths that I’ve culled from my research. Unfortunately, it’s a very long list. I apologize for that, but I didn’t make up these myths; I’m just answering them. I’ve divided this list up into two parts. Next week, I’ll run part 2. Today, I want to start with this interesting tidbit, which almost sounds plausible…

Myth: “You don’t actually need sex.”

Well, then, that explains why so many marriages split up over sex issues. Uh. Or maybe it doesn’t.

Truth: Most humans are sexual beings and have a built-in sex drive.  Click to continue »

Regrets of Sorrow and Forgiveness

"Regret," by MistiqueStudio

“Re had been riding her dirt bike without a helmet, accelerating too fast, when she lost control and ran headlong into a tree. She had been killed instantly. And I had been out, almost losing my virginity, when the call had come in.”

That last sentence is a lie.

When I originally wrote it, I did not mean it to be a lie. I did not believe it was a lie. But now, with the benefit of hindsight, I believe I was misleading you.

In Love through the Eyes of an Idiot, I tell the story of my whirlwind affair with Tracy (not her real name). If you read that story, you might get the sense that she was a sex-crazed, skin-deep, mixed-up slut, who would have destroyed my life if I had let her get too close. The truth is that I probably would have destroyed her life, had she let me get too close.

I’m still a little sad that she did not.

I don’t have many regrets about my life. But over the past several months, I’ve been discovering some doozies. Maybe not having any regrets is a sign of immaturity. Maybe you have to have lived long enough to reflect seriously enough to develop true regrets. And maybe some people never even make it that far.  Click to continue »

Intimacy and Marriage, and Sexual Ethics

(This is part 3 in my series, “What I Want My Teenage Daughters to Know about Sex.” Click here to read it from the beginning.)

Yes, you heard me right: Getting married has nothing to do with getting pregnant, and getting pregnant has only a passing connection to sex.

You might think then that I want you to have wanton intercourse with boys far and wide. And it is true that some people do just that. And some them say they’re happy with that lifestyle. And I believe them. (Many of them also say that they’re unhappy about the way society demonizes them— but more about that next week.)

But that’s not exactly what I said. What I said was: much of what society has told you about marriage and teen pregnancy is misinformation, and I don’t want you to rely on it.

However, sex does go along with marriage.

Wait until you’re 18, and maybe married

It’s pretty obvious that sex does go along with marriage. A person will usually have sex with his marriage partner. And will usually have sex only with his marriage partner, or at least only admit to having sex with his marriage partner.  Click to continue »

More Artwork: You’ve Come a Long Way

A girl, smiling, in thought

Almost 5 years ago, I posted some of my Little One Abbie’s artwork. Now that she’s a full-fledged high-schooler, calling her “Little One” feels a little creepy, and reminds me too much of Lwaxana Troi. (But I still sometimes do it anyway.)

Anyhoo, in the intervening years, she’s been posting lots of stuff on her page at DeviantArt. And so I figured it was time for an update. And so I sorted through some of her latest stuff, and picked out some of my favorites, and asked if that would be okay with her. And it was. And so here it is.

In that post, 5 years ago, I estimated that she might become an “expert” by the time she entered high school. I hope that you’ll agree at least that her skills have improved substantially, and that she’s developed an individual style.

(Proud papa.)

Enjoy these drawings!

(Click on any photo to enlarge, including the one at the top of this post. If you have JavaScript enabled, you should be able to flip through them while enlarged.)

P.S. Please feel free to leave a comment below! I’ll make sure Abbie hears about the nice ones. :-)  Click to continue »

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