Monday, July 23, 2012

An Open Letter to Brad Strait - Miracles

The following is my response to a blog post by Brad Strait about the aftermath of the our most recent mass shooting, in Aurora, Colorado.

Yesterday, you posted your story of a young woman you know, Petra
Petra was hit four times with a shot-gun blast, three shots into her arm and one bullet which entered her brain. This a bit of Petra’s miracle story.
You think this situation was a miracle.  Please allow me to share another perspective.

I am unable to see a young woman getting shot 4 times as a miracle, no matter the details of her survival.  I find it incredibly arrogant when someone thinks their god saved the person they knew when 12 others in the same incident died.

What was it about those 12 that kept them from being worthy of the miracle you say saved Petra?  Were they not Christian enough?  Did their family not pray enough or in the correct manner?

You detail all the effort the doctors put into saving Petra's life, but then you follow it with this.
Thank you, Lord, for every little thing. We sit. We pray.
Instead of thanking a god, who I presume you believe had the power to prevent the entire tragedy, my choice would have been to give appropriate credit to the doctors who worked tirelessly to save Petra.  You clearly understand the human effort that went into saving her life.  
Nurses, like quiet soldiers posted on guard, come in, march attentively through the machines, and go out.  These men and women really care. Finally, one of the surgeons comes in to check on Petra. He has had some sleep, and looks more like a movie star this time. As Petra sleeps, he retells the story of the surgery, and we ask questions.  The doctor reads the perfect script, as if he is on Hallmark Hall of Fame. He fills us in on the miracle. Honestly, he doesn’t call it that, he just uses words like “happily” and “wonderfully” and “in a very fortunate way” and “luckily” and “we were really surprised by that.”  Kim and I know a miracle when we see it.
But then, when you ultimately wrote something about the incident, you gave all the credit to your god.  I am unable to see this as anything but a slap in the face of the doctors who did the real work.  If not for those doctors, she'd be dead.

You say your god gave Petra a brain defect in order to save her life later when he let her get shot.  I say your god could have prevented her (and the dozens of others) from getting shot in the first place.  Then he could have given her a defect-free brain.

It’s just like the God I follow to plan the route of a bullet through a brain long before Batman ever rises.
There is much ahead. More surgerys. Facial reconstruction, perhaps.

If this nightmare is your idea of a miracle, I pity you for worshiping such a pathetically useless god.  Show me a god who prevents massacres like this & doesn't give nice young girl's mothers cancer.  Then we can talk about miracles.  Until then, your talk of miracles disgusts me.

You spit on the probably-not-even-dug-yet graves of the 12 who died.  You disregard the real work real people did to save her life in favor of crediting your god, who appears, from my perspective, to have had absolutely nothing to do with how these events have played out.

I'm all for you keeping your faith in your god, but please use your brain after the next tragedy before speaking of miracles.  Unless, of course, you're so selfish that you only care of the well being of yourself and the people you know personally and are fine with 12 people dying so your friend can be the recipient of a miracle.  I suspect you're better than that, but that's ultimately up to you.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disagreement Can Be A Good Thing

I'm not sure how a conversation with my mother this afternoon got to the topic of Anderson Cooper's recent coming out, but I'm glad it did.  She wasn't sure why it was a big deal.  I was afraid she was going to go the "they should just keep it to themselves" route I've seen too often directed at gays who are out of the closet and myself for refusing to hide my atheism.  Instead, she didn't think it was worthy of attention because whether or not people are gay should be a non-issue.  And she's right.  It should be a non issue.  But it is still an issue, because of the bullies and haters that still exist.

From there, we somehow got to the fact that we disagree on some things.  She's a Republican Christian who watches Fox News, and I'm a life-long atheist who recognizes that Fox is not news and doesn't support the Democrats because they've gone too far to the "right".

While we were doing the whole "I respect your right to have an opinion different from mine" thing, she said, "I tried to raise you to be a free thinker".  She certainly succeeded in that attempt.

I couldn't help myself & informed her of connection the term "free thinker" has with atheism.  She responded saying that she's knows I'm an atheist.  This was the first time I've ever heard that term from either of parents in reference to me, but it came attached with no hate, disgust, disappointment, or shame.

The comparison of my parents to the endless stream of Fundamentalists disowning their own children for even asking questions makes me lucky to have been born to the parents I was.

Not all Christians are afraid to let their children think for themselves, but I get why they are.  The rational Christians are accidentally raising atheists.  Teaching critical thinking & open mindedness fosters atheism.  And the Fundamentalists apparently know it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Uncontroversial Billboard is Controversial

This is the first atheism related billboard Nebraska has ever had.  It is meant to let atheists in town know they are not alone.  It is intentionally non-confrontational, although, it is intentionally timed to also promote our upcoming conference.

The response has been interesting.  Local radio host, Scott Voorhees posted about it, calling us militant & disgusting.  He apparently even went through the trouble of contacting UNO, where our conference is being held, to complain.  His complaint was shot down, but that didn't stop him from attacking us on the air the next morning.

We also got coverage on the local Fox & CBS stations, and in the local newspaper.  Someone at KMTV is particularly interested in us, as they just ran another story on it just a moment ago and they've already posted on their Facebook about it twice (nearly 900 comments since Monday & over 200 comments since noon today).

Guess what kind of attention this one got when it went up months ago in the same town.

A billboard denying, and directly attacking, established scientific facts goes up and no one notices.  A billboard goes up telling atheists they're not alone, with no attack toward anyone, and a media frenzy ensues.

For atheists, simply existing anywhere but the shadows means putting up with a lot of crap.  It should not be like that, and this is why I make a point of being open & vocal about my atheism.  The rest of the country needs to get used to us being here.  We've always been here.  This should be a non-issue.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Hate The 4th of July

I've come to the realization that I hate the 4th of July.  I don't hate its origin, the Declaration of Independence.  That would be silly.  I hate what it's become.

We celebrate our Independence by torturing our pets.  We take them into our homes with a promise to protect them (in return for their independence), then we scare the shit out of them with fireworks they cannot possibly understand.

We celebrate our Independence by showcasing the flow of jobs out of America.  We spend enormous amounts of money on blowing up stuff made in China by people (some who are children) paid nearly slave wages.

And worst of all, there's how we treat combat veterans on this day (and the weeks before and after in at least my neighborhood).  We use the day as a reason to thank our troops, but mostly only with Facebook status updates & tweets.  And explosives.  We still don't thank them properly by giving them proper benefits, especially medical (which should include mental health).  We certainly don't thank them by not putting them in, or bringing them home from, the situations that cause their physical & mental ailments.

Thanking them with words, social media updates, and bumper stickers is meaningless when we still neglect the injuries they endured on our behalf.

Instead, we thank our troops, home from, and still recovering from war zones, by having non-stop explosions all over town for hours at a time.  Essentially, we bring them home from war, ignore their PTSD, and carelessly rub their noses in it on a day we're saying how much we appreciate their sacrifices.  We mock those who lost limbs by being careless with explosives & losing fingers.

In case I wasn't clear enough, fireworks can be a trigger for veterans suffering from combat induced PTSD.  And we make their homes a place they cannot escape those triggers.

If you really want to thank the troops, contact your Congressional Representative & Senators, and tell them to fund adequate mental health benefits for veterans.  Then, factor their response into how you vote.  I think they would appreciate that much more than the current practice of spending money to aggravate their PTSD for a few minutes of your own enjoyment.

Better yet, take the money you'd have spent on fireworks and donate it to a veterans organization.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
The American Legion
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Wounded Warrior Project
Disabled American Veterans

I went with the Wounded Warrior Project.  If you have other suggested organizations, please post them in the comments.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Chick-fil-A Does Not Want Your Money

If you've ever wanted to combine the experiences of eating chicken and donating to hate groups, I have good news for you!  You can accomplish both with one visit to Chick-fil-A.

It's more than likely, that the latter of those two things is not something you want to do.  Chick-fil-A does not appear to want your money.  They certainly don't want mine.  I used to eat there almost weekly.  It was very close to my work & made for an easy, quick lunch.

Then I learned of their past donations to various hate groups.  Since then, I've refused to eat there.  I've also been telling everyone I can about this (both in person and online).  The response is almost always surprise, a statement in support of my boycott of Chick-fil-A, and/or a thanks for telling them.  I've shared the article more times than I can count.

Today (the same day Anderson Cooper came out to the shock of no one), they made news again.  They're still donating to hate groups.

Unlike Chick-Fil-A, JC Penney, Kraft Foods, General Mills, and others have all recently discovered that supporting equality is good for business.  Since their pro-equality stances, I've intentionally spent money on all 3, that I wouldn't have otherwise

Time will tell how it affects the bigot owned chicken restaurant, located primarily in the South, where marriage equality still faces fierce opposition.  Until then, I will keep telling everyone I can about Chick-fil-A's bad moral practices to do my part to make it bad for their business.  I hope you will too.

Thanks to Hemant Mehta, who's excellent blog is where I first learned of today's news.