I have posted so much about the Reason Rally in the last few weeks, but I have one last thing I want to talk about: why I care so much about this event.
Many of my friends talk about this event as a rallying of the troops, a way to build morale and group identity among secular America. Plus, it’s a big party with others like us! This is important, absolutely, and I wouldn’t want to take anything away from those who are going for this reason, but it is not why I am going. I am going to demand a voice.
I came to the atheist movement in a somewhat circuitous fashion. I’ve been a non-believer since I was eight. I found my teeth in my mother’s jewelry box and, having already been quite suspicious of the entire thing, concluded that there was no Tooth Fairy and, therefore, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, no Jesus, and no God.
I didn’t become vocal about my atheism until after reading Hitchens’ “God is Not Great”, but even though I cared deeply about secularism, it was not my primary cause. I was more interested in being an activist, and I didn’t see any opportunities for activism for secular causes. Instead, I spent my time fighting for civil rights for LGBT, women, and minorities. When I lived in California and campaigned against Prop 8, the gay marriage ban, I finally met atheists and skeptics who were fighting, actively, for political change.
Secularists need to join one another, not only to create community and acceptance, but to demand it. I am incredibly lucky that, despite being from South Carolina and the Bible Belt, my family tolerates my non-belief — mostly in the hope that I’ll get over it, but still. There are so many people I know, including those who are active locally, who cannot speak publically about their lack of belief for fear of losing their families and their jobs. There are so many people I know who have been mistreated by the religious, so many children hurt and abused because the law gives special rights to religion, and many others who feel they can never make an impact politically unless they kowtow to the Christian Fundamentalist majority in our state and our country.
Change is started, yes, by coming out of the closet, and this is a national coming out day for the non-religious, but change also comes from demanding your voice be heard politically. The public attitude towards women, minorities, and gay people has been changed by individuals demanding a voice AND by the movements demanding legislative change and support.
I could not be more excited to see Tim Minchin and Eddie Izzard, two of my favorite performers, but I am also excited to see Sean Faircloth and Herb Silverman, who have made significant legislative impacts, and to see two brave men who serve in Congress and are willing to risk the political stigma of associating with atheists. I am excited that we are not just speaking to ourselves anymore, we are speaking to the world, to the country, to the government that should be serving us.
We are going to Washington not just for ourselves, but because we absolutely have to. We have a voice and we refuse to be ignored any longer.
31. Bossy Pants – Tina Fey
I like Tina Fey, she’s funny, but her humor often feels very shallow to me. I really loved Mean Girls, but I don’t really like 30 Rock very much. The characters don’t seem to have any real emotional touchstones, which makes it difficult to care about the show. It’s a problem I often have with Community, except Community does a better job at having emotional depth than 30 Rock. Which says a lot about 30 Rock. Well, this book has the same problem. It’s funny, at times incredibly so, but it feels so surface level that it’s hard to feel like you’ve done anything with your time when you’ve finished. I wanted to know more about her, her life, her struggles with making it in an industry that doesn’t like women very much, her experiences on SNL and Mean Girls. There wasn’t much of any of that. I can’t see myself rereading it, so I’m going to have to take advantage of that whole sell it back to the airport thing when I go to TAM next month. Which is fine, I just was disappointed. B
32. Doubt – Jennifer Michael Hecht
This book is like forever long, jeez JMH. I think it has single-handedly put me behind on my book goal. More than anything it introduced me to people I hadn’t known about and want to learn more about. Some day, when I have free time or am back to being ahead of book reading schedule, I will want to sit down with it again and take notes on who I want to read more about on Wikipedia. There’s so much here that I feel like I haven’t retained all that much of what I read. It is not a light read, it’s trying to balance depth with breadth, it’s a survey course that would take two semesters to do justice. There are so many characters and philosophies and stories and time periods that it’s difficult to keep it all straight if the figures are all new to you. It is a scholarly work, in other words, it takes effort to get through. A-
33. The Next Ancient World – Jennifer Michael Hecht
To make up for all the time Doubt had eaten up, I decided to read JMH’s poetry book. Mostly because she’d given it to me, and I’d been at a crazy awesome party in at the SCA Summit where she read quite a few of the poems in there. Poetry is difficult to analyze or to review, if you’re not into poetry it’s hard to share any enthusiasm for the subject. I will say this, it is as though TS Eliot was interested only in mythology and sex and had way more of a sense of humor and less need to pretentiously add footnotes to everything. My favorite poem from the book:
Even Eve, the only soul in all of time
to never have to wait for love,
must have leaned some sleepless nights
alone against the garden wall
and wailed, cold, stupefied, and wild
and wished to trade-in all of Eden
to have but been a child.
In fact, I gather that is why she leapt and fell from grace,
that she might have a story of herself to tell
in some other place.
34. Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality – Jack Rogers
I like to be able to effectively argue my points with the religious, to quote scripture back at them and so on, so when I saw this book I thought it could be useful for defending LGBT rights within the Christian community. I don’t know how well it can do that. Perhaps among moderates, but anyone who still thinks that women are to be submissive to their men, which is a great deal of conservatives, will probably have a hard time with the idea. The point of the book is essentially that the bible can be used to justify any number of things that most Christians now think of us reprehensible: Slavery, subjugation of women, racism, and polygamy. There are passages in the Bible that support all of that, some of it much more direct (in the original language) than any condemnation of the homosexuality. The modern idea of loving, exclusive homosexual relationships isn’t mentioned at all in the Bible in the same way that Penicillin, Stem Cell Research, and In Vitro Fertilization isn’t mentioned — it didn’t exist.
Rogers argues that the way the church evolved on the other issues was to take everything back to the philosophy of Jesus, and if something written in the Bible somewhere didn’t jive with what Jesus said, then it was not as good as Jesus’ words. If Jesus’ commandment is to love God and your neighbor and gay people can be good, honorable people, then there’s no reason not to give them equal access to the church and to marriage rights. But then, if people just used the bible to justify love, forgiveness, and kindness, there wouldn’t be a Religious Right, so we can see how much I’m holding out hope for that set of circumstances. I just doubt that the arguments in this book could be very effective. B-
35. Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin – Frank Bailey
What a fascinating book this was. I have a macabre obsession with Ms. Palin, like so many of the people in the US. She is a polarizing figure, though less and less so as more and more people realize she’s totally nuts. The book was interesting because I learned that it’s not that she’s incredibly stupid, it’s that she’s lazy and a habitual liar. She cannot tell the truth, she just instinctively lies. For example, the question about what newspapers she read could have easily been answered with “I read a collection of news stories gathered for me every morning, primarily from Alaskan outlets.” Instead, she didn’t want to sound like a rural, ignorant governor so she tried to stall and think of a national publication that she could read that wouldn’t make her sound elitist. The New York Times wouldn’t be an option, and she couldn’t think of The Wall Street Journal off the top of her head. B+
I tried to read The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by AC Grayling, and I just couldn’t get through it. The Bibley formatting and the lack of attribution and the flowery language… I was just too bored and it was too difficult to read through the formatting. I wanted to like it, because theoretically it sounded interesting, but I just hated it.
If you love me, or at least like me a little bit, you’ll go ask Tim Minchin to play in Columbia, SC.
View all Tim Minchin tour dates
NSFW. Super Catchy. I want the lyrics and the MP3.
UPDATE: Lyrics, censored. Because they’re funnier looking that way.
F*** the motherf***er, f*** the motherf***er
F*** the motherf***er, he’s a f***ing motherf***er
F*** the motherf***er, f*** the f***ing f***er
F*** the motherf***er, he’s a total f***ing f***er
F*** the motherf***er, f*** the motherf***er
F*** the motherf***er, f***ing f*** the motherf***er
F*** the motherf***er, f*** the motherf***ing Pope
F*** the motherf***er, and f*** you, motherf***er
If you think that motherf***er is sacred
If you cover for another motherf***er who’s a kiddie f***er
F*** you, you’re no better than the motherf***ing rapist
And if you don’t like the swearing that this motherf***er forced from me
And reckon it shows moral or intellectual paucity
Then f*** you, motherf***er, this is language one employs
When one is f***ing cross about f***ers f***ing boys
I don’t give a f*** if calling the pope a motherf***er
Means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate
This has naught to do with other f***ing godly motherf***ers
I’m not interested right now in f***ing scriptural debate
There are other f***ing songs and there are other f***ing ways
I’ll be a religious apologist on other f***ing days
And the fact remains, if you protect a single kiddie f***er
Then Pope or prince or plumber, you’re a f***ing motherf***er
You see, I don’t give a f*** what any other motherf***er
Believes about Jesus and his motherf***ing mother
I’ve no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these f***ers
While those beliefs don’t impact on the happiness of others
But if you build your church on claims of f***ing moral authority
And with threats of Hell impose it on others in society
Then you, you motherf***ers, can expect some f***ing wrath
When it turns out you’ve been f***ing us in our motherf***ing asses
So f*** you motherf***er, and f*** you, motherf***er
If you’re still a motherf***ing papist
If he covered for a single motherf***er who’s a kiddie f***er
F*** the motherf***er, he’s as evil as the rapist
And if you look into your motherf***ing heart and tell me true
If this motherf***ing stupid f***ing song offended you
With its filthy f***ing language and its f***ing disrespect
If it made you feel angry, go ahead and write a letter
But if you find me more offensive than the f***ing possibility
The Pope protected priests when they getting f***ing fiddly
Then listen to me, motherf***er, this here is a fact
You are just as morally misguided as that motherf***ing
Power-hungry self-aggrandized bigot in the stupid f***ing hat