10 atheist quotes and my thoughts

I sometimes check in with the bel.la on.line forum, married no kids. I found this site when I was trying to understand the decision of my DSIL and DBIL. They really wanted kids and pursued the tx they were comfortable with, but ultimately decided that their lives would move forward without children. There was more tx they could have tried; they considered adoption but didn’t feel called to it, etc. etc. You never know, they could still experience a miracle pgcy – but after at least a year of heartache and prayer and lots of holding onto and talking to each other, this is the path that fit for them.

I had a hard time imagining this, and that is how I ended up discovering blogs and this bel.la site. IF is always near to my heart and just a part of who I am, and I suppose I have an interest in learning from the courage and heroism of ‘ordinary people’ facing all kinds of struggles – Child free not by choice; single with a strong calling to be married, but not having found their partner; those going through the agonies of IF; those who will always have a part of themselves grieving a baby(ies) lost …..

Anyway, a new thread caught my eye on atheist quotes. Now I am feeling more and more called to follow my RC faith, but some of the people dearest to me are agnostic (non-believers) – both my parents, my grandpa M, some of my friends etc. Interestingly, I would say I often see them being more ‘christian’ than some people who do have the official title of christian! Anyway religion is a topic that comes up with these very loved ones of mine, so I was interested in these quotes. Here are the 10 in the post, and my thoughts about them ….

“It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.” – Ernestine Rose (Jewish feminist and atheist)

Very interesting! I wonder if this is true? Given that all civilizations appear to have some outreach to God, or Gods, I think that we have within us a kind of sense for His divine presence. We have eyes specialized to detect light, ears specialized to detect sound, skin receptors that detect touch … and in our development the brain learns to make sense of the information being received. If we do have something that detects the presence and movement of God within us, I would question the truth of this statement. Of course, I have not done the research on it to support my hypothesis either!

“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.” – Thomas Jefferson (Third U.S. President and principal author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence)

Sadly I do find that sometimes the most religious people (of any denomination, including RC) also appear to be the most hypocritical. Anyway, as I understand God, burning, torturing etc. is NOT the way to come to a greater knowledge of HIs love and tenderness. So why did this coercive approach hold sway? I would call it the work of Satan, playing upon our desire for power, riches, importance etc.

“It is convenient that there be gods, and, as it is convenient, let us believe there are.” -Ovid (Ancient Roman classical Poet and Author of Metamorphoses, 43 BC-17)

Hee hee hee! This one reminds me of one of my Dad’s favourite quotes: If God did not already exist, it would be necessary to invent him. (my Dad does not believe, or at least he says he does not, but I am hoping there is a bit of him that does!!! I pray for him certainly). Anyway a lot of people do believe that the raison d’être for claiming the existance of God is that this kind of belief has a socializing force. I really do believe God exists, however that has not been especially convenient for me personally. Every time I take another step along the faith journey, I find there are hardships and things I need to change that I don’t especially want to change, and also I end up facing truths about myself that I would really rather not face. HOwever the ‘fruits’ of these steps forward ultimately feel right – more like real life, real joy, real freedom … though there are always struggles (currently: struggling with the idea of fasting, of giving up red wine, at least my daily glass; of finding time – somehow, somewhere – to pray more often).

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?” – Epicurus (ancient Greek philosopher – I have found evidence that this quote is usually attributed to be his but may not be so.)

What a great quote – it goes to the heart of why so many people find they honestly just cannot see the logic of God’s existence. I went through this struggle and found that the book ‘when bad things happen to good people’ by Rabbi Kushner was spot on for me. Everything just made sense after I read this book. The heart of the idea was that God created us (I believe, through evolution, but that is another contentious issue) with Free Will. We have to live the consequences of our choices. Other people’s choices also affect us. Why is there so much IF in the world today? I believe pollution – caused by the choices of humans – is a big reason. Why are some people ultimately blessed with children and others not – does God intervene? I don’t believe some are more worthy and others not. I do believe that bringing our situation in prayer brings us closer to God. I don’t believe he automatically dispenses the blessings we ask because we have said the right number of prayers.
so, for me, it comes down to the issue of God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful – but he created us with free will, set the laws of physics, and he isn’t going to start altering the law of gravity here and there, or it wouldn’t be a law of gravity. Part of how I connect with God is through the amazing beauty and logic of the universe – that wouldn’t exist if God played favourites.

“Creationists make it sound like a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night “ – Isaac Asimov (author)

Um. I have to agree with this – creationism, as I have heard it, does not fit the category of a theory, as in something you can test. The scientist in me does not consider it a theory in the same way as the theory of evolution or the theory of matter, which can be tested, disproved (but never proved – you can only disprove a theory or support it, you can never prove it definitively, as I understand the definition).

“It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand” – Mark Twain (author)

I do understand where he is coming from. The Old Testament has some terribly disturbing parts in it. I think somewhere there is the story of angels coming to visit Lot, near the town of Sodom. Men in the village who want to force themselves on the visiting angels come to demand them. Lot offers them his daughters instead. (!) Or the story of David and Bathsheba. I find it extremely disturbing. Or how often the psalms totally do not exemplify love and respect and praying for the enemy, but instead give thanks for how many were killed and the like. Yes, I understand the context was different – women were more like possessions than people; God was seen not as loving to all but as vengeful, etc. I still find it hard to comprehend.

“Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense” – Chapman Cohen (atheist and Bristish Freethought activist)

I don’t agree with this. I pursued science as a study and find that it brings me closer to God, as you see such miracles in dissection or under a microscope. When you realize how the formulae for calculating the law of Gravitation attraction (think how huge planets etc are) and the law of electrical attraction (think how tiny electrons are!) … when you see numbers like ‘e’ show up consistently in the oddest places – to me it is like a clue or a fingerprint of God.

“If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul” – Isaac Asimov (author)

I have to agree with this also. I think many agnostics and atheists have done a lot more true searching and questioning about their faith, and are more honest in a way, then those who are afraid to delve into and explore their faith. Now this is a bias of mine and I am afraid I am overly critical here, just because I am the type of person that always has to know WHY. (it drives hubby crazy! He would like me to just do things his way sometimes, without me asking why he thinks that is better).

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further” – Richard Dawkins (Evolution Biologist and author)

Well, it is true that I do not believe in a faith that has many Gods. However I do think that the people who do are aware of God’s existence, they just understand Him in a different way. Of course I think that my way is closer to the truth, or else I would be with them in their faith … but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect their beliefs. They may well understand some things about God better than I do. I just find that the RC path is the one that, when it comes down to it, seems the most accurate to me. Everyone who is a sincere follower of a different faith will re-state that with their own path in there. What if we all lived our faiths out of love (not the burning desire to be right, to have power over another, or to be better off materially)?

“To you I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition” – Woody Allen (actor)

I have to say I love this quote! I am not quite sure why. I guess because I do believe in the value of really questioning and probing, and I need to be satisfied on an intellectual level. However I do believe that the intellect can only carry us so far, and we do need to allow our hearts and our instincts, our spiritual beings, to be part of what guides our path.

So, there are some thoughts for tonight. Long post! Can you guess I should be marking and getting report cards ready ??? 🙂

A new direction

Back before Christmas, I had a really bad weekend where I was grumpy, unhappy, unproductive and snappish with everyone. I have learned that when this happens to me, it could be that I am in ‘desolation’ – ie. missing the peace that I normally have, at least to an extent, due to feeling a connection with God.

So, I prayed. I asked God to show me if I had taken a wrong turn or a wrong focus somewhere, such that I could no longer ‘find’ His presence. And if not, if it was just a time that I am meant to work through on my own to learn something (how to trust even when I don’t feel God’s presence for example … I have had experiences like that before) – then to give me strength for this.

In my prayer, I felt/saw Jesus come and take my hand, then lead me to Mary. He placed my hand in hers and said “I’d like you to meet my mother.”

From this I understood that my next focus in my prayer life should be learning more about Mary. As a Catholic, I have a lot of background about Mary ‘stuff,” and I have prayed to ask her to pray for us, etc. … there are certain meditations and times when I have felt close to her, but not as a consistent thing. I guess that is about to change!

One of the joys of going through the storage locker is finding books (ah, my long-lost friends!) that I have not seen in about a year. Two of these books are about Medjugorje, a place where Mary has apparently been appearing to and speaking to certain people for the past 15 years or so. These books have a new interest for me now that they did not have before.

I also wonder, had I not been Catholic, how next steps may evolve. I think God works with us where we are, in the ways we understand. For a Christian, but non-Catholic person, there might be a different path that would be indicated. For a Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or Native Spirituality person – the symbols that are meaningful and help us dig into our faith to get to the reality, the people who help us along, would be different.

Of course, in my view, Mary has an irreplaceable role in getting know Jesus and God – as the only human being to be so close to the Divine, and to have such an intimate and responsible relationship in this plan of Love.

I am not sure where this new direction will take me, but I have been preparing for it, and I am now fully under way – by the grace of God ….

Recalculating …. do not fail me again ….

One gift I received for Christmas is a source of great delight to me – the voices of Darth Vader and Yoda being added to my GPS! I am a big Star Wars fan and this just adds some kick to any trips that require GPS 🙂 I find that Darth Vader is very certain-sounding, directive, and severe. Sometimes he just comes on and breathes at me instead of saying anything. Yoda seems to be more quiet, letting me find my own way perhaps?? It seems to me that he doesn’t always tell me about turns I should make when I am right close to them. I suppose I am supposed to use the Force to guide me. Either way I enjoy the triumphal music when I have reached my destination.

One of the silly things in life that just add some colour!

A thought on the epiphany – direction and travel

Just a quick thought – it must have been easier for the 3 wise wise men to follow the star at night. (I have read research about the possibility of a supernova explosion being visible from earth about the time we believe Christ was born, and this could well have been the Star mentioned in the Bible … this was a few years ago, and I think it was from a reliable source but I cannot remember for sure right now).

I don’t know, perhaps a supernova would be visible during the day as well. I wonder if they travelled by night (more sure of the direction?) or by day (safer traveling, easier to arrange buying food etc along the journey)? Anyway it seems to me that it may be easier to find our heading during the night, or the dark times of our lives. I know my faith has really been tested, but really has grown, during the difficult times. Or maybe this thought is with me to remind me to take time every evening to re-connect with my heading and direction for the next day … just to travel the next small distance that I can, regardless of the weather conditions or the friendliness of the people … and maybe to appreciate those who are traveling the road with me.

The Linen Closet

Well, 2012 has started off with a flurry of organization for us. Since we moved in Feb of 2011, we have had “stuff” in a storage locker nearby. It’s a nice, climate controlled, indoor storage locker … but at about $150 per month, it is costly. (We moved from a bigger house – 4 beds, 3 baths plus one downstairs, etc. etc., to the older home we have now – we finished the reno’s needed to make it a legal duplex, and live in half – so you can imagine, we had a lot more stuff than place to put it!)

So we decided to make a big push to get out of the storage locker. I have a bit of depression-era “but this isn’t quite used up yet! and what if we need it later! And my grandma gave that to me!” which makes it hard for me to get rid of things. But I also realize that things have a tyranny of their own – they must be stored, dusted or washed, and if you have too many you can’t find what you are looking for to enjoy it properly anyway. I really prayed to have the strength to let go of things that others might use, or of things that were imprisoning me in some way.

We are so lucky that my dear mother-in-law (DMIL), along with one SIL and one BIL came up to help us out. They helped with bringing loads from the storage locker here, helping to finish up the attic storage space (DH and I worked on that together before they arrived, but there was still insulating and plywood to do to finish up what we wanted done at this point). However, I was really the only one to give the word on toss, give away, or keep, so that was my main job.

Now my MIL is a tidy, organized person by nature. Regretfully, I am just not so. I appreciate things being tidy and clean. If I have the right habits and enough energy, I will get them there and keep them there. But if I get tired, or if something I think is more important comes up (time to give hubby a message, perhaps?) then the tidy bit goes by the wayside. In a way it is good, since I have been living in a sort of construction zone for about a year, and it does not bother me in the same way that it would bother another person.

So … my MIL is not one to take it easy if there is work to be done, and she helped out in myriad ways. She tidied the pantry, did laundry, swept floors, tidied rooms (not our bedroom though). And, bless her heart, she organized my linen closet. For some reason, this is a really sore spot with me. I remember at least 5 years ago, when she was visiting she re-organized my linen closet. Then, as now, it just makes a flame leap up inside of me. I have no idea where this temper, this anger comes from. And why should a linen closet, of all things, set it off?? There are neatly folded piles of facecloths, towels, sheets, blankets … and I have a great urge to go in, mess it all up, unfold everything to fold it *my* way. Clearly not a reasonable reaction.

I have overcome this unworthy impulse – or at least, I prayed about it as I recognized my temper! – and the closet has been organized as my MIL set it up for a few days now. She left yesterday and I haven’t touched it yet. I recalled a story that my mom told me, of how when she and my dad would travel home and stay with his parents, my maternal grandmother always asked for their laundry so she could wash their things, and how insulted my mom was by that – did grandma think she couldn’t or didn’t do laundry, or what? But then my maternal grandmother had her reconsider the situation by saying that perhaps, this was how my dad’s mother showed love – by caring for those around her, by doing things for them.

So, for now anyway, I am choosing to look at these neatly organized piles and see them as love … not criticism of my disorder. I know that in time the order will change, I will move some things around, but (for now) I am not going in to deliberately disorganize it. I don’t have time right now anyway!

But I do wish I knew why this one thing – the linen closet – has set me off twice, when generally my MIL’s tidying and organizing is much appreciated (if re-arranged to suit me later, but not in an angry way). It must symbolize something to me, but I have no idea what or why.

Good bye 2011

I found this on Lori’s website at The Road Less Travelled – it looks long but didn’t take as much time as I thought it would to complete.

Year in Review

1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t remember my resolutions from last year! For 2012:

run at least once a week, even if it is just 15 min

recognize that even with the knowledge, ability, etc. there are some things I just can’t do on my own, and pray for God to do these things in me … ex. keep up with my marking!

spend more time “playing” 🙂 and less wasting less time in “numbing” kind of activities

2. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

teach my students how to build things – do construction in the classroom

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
my SIL (DB’s wife) and our neighbour (tenant)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
my great aunt, Sister J. She was a warm, loving, amazing woman who was a nun for 60+ years.

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada and USA only

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

less “stuff” clogging up my life and home, and a better balance in where I spend my time

7. What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
not so much dates as events – the death of Jack Layton struck me like Princess Di’s death; and Kate and Will’s wedding also

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

surviving? It has been a turbulent year and many people helped us get through the many rough spots.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not asking for help when I needed to, and others were willing and able to help.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

some minor ones, and losing my voice mid-November. Not much fun since I love singing (especially Christmas carols) and have had to not extend my voice since then.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

our house … that was actually late 2010 I think.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Jack Layton, in how he prepared for death and left an inspiration of hope behind.
I think Kate did well with all of the pressure she had to juggle with the wedding, the royals, etc.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

the current mayor of Toronto and some policy decisions of our government.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Our house – renovating to rent out the one side, now fixing up our side.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Christmas!
Time with my girl friends – 2 from highschool, where we had a girls’ weekend kind of thing; and 2 friends for the past 7 years where we had an evening we could just talk.
Seeing DH when he comes home from time working away 🙂
Seeing the house come together.
Also that I began meeting with 2 other women from church, and our prayers together have been so wonderful and nourishing. It has made me really look forward to the personal prayer time I have in the evenings, even when I am really tired.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Hm – perhaps a song I just heard the other day, by weird al Yankovick – White and Nerdy. My SIL had me youtube it and I had to laugh at all the things that apply to me!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

a) happier for sure!
b) a bit fatter
c) richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

exercise

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

eat things that are not good for me

20. How did you spend Christmas?

with family – I love going home to my parents’ for Christmas.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

Yes … I am always falling more in love with those whom I love (husband, kids, nephews, parents, friends, etc). I will have flashes of how beautiful they are, or how amazing they are etc.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Hm, I don’t watch a lot of TV. Probably Battle of the Blades.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you did not hate this time last year?

No, I don’t think I hate anyone ….

24. What was the best book you read?

Too hard to answer, I can’t remember all that I have read!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
That Taize has CD’s

26. What did you want and get?
Star Trek, the next generation – seasons 1, 2, 6 and 7. woo hoo!

27. What did you want and not get?

For DH to get a job close to home so he could work nearby or commute easily.

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

Hm, again I don’t watch alot of films … I did see and enjoy Harry Potter (the final episode)

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Nothing really, DH was out of town.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If I had exercised and felt myself to be in better shape, I would be more satisfied. I am not sure about immeasurable satisfaction though.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

comfortable is always an important fashion concept to me!

32. What kept you sane?

Prayer, hubby, kids, friends, family

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I guess Jack Layton

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

concern for how much power business seems to wield over our lives, and we don’t even know it (I just watched Food Inc the other night. Yikes!)

Also how difficult it is for people living in poverty to get out. They often do not have access to a grocery store with fresh fruits and veggies (unless they can pay for transportation) so end up eating more expensive less healthy food from a variety store, etc …..

35. Who did you miss?

There is a part of me that always misses both my Grandmas and my Grandpa, and now Sister J also.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
probably my new principal. She is just amazing on so many levels.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Some people are just out on their own agendas and don’t care who they destroy along their way. My VP at my last school was like this and unfortunately I was one of her targets – hence the very stressful year last year.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“In this beautiful life, there’s always some sorrow / It’s a double edged knife, but there’s always tomorrow / it’s up to you now if you sink or swim / just keep the faith that your ship will come in, it’s not so bad …

(From Great Big Sea, Ordinary Day)