Archive for July, 2010

How Can Women Stay Catholic?

I’m sorry about the rare posting lately, July has proven to be a crazy month. I bought a house so I’m packing up the apartment, looking for new tenants for our old place, I’m also in a wedding party for a wedding next week, going camping with the fam soon and getting ready for a trip to Europe next month. So I think I’m excused for my poor attendance on my blog lately!

What prompted me to write today was a post on Friendly Atheist. You may have heard about this recent news out of the Catholic Church:

The Vatican today made the “attempted ordination” of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism.

The new rules, which have been sent to bishops around the world, apply equally to Catholic women who agree to a ceremony of ordination and to the bishop who conducts it. Both would be excommunicated. Since the Vatican does not accept that women can become priests, it does not recognise the outcome of any such ceremony.

I want to talk about the question (more like a questatement) that Hemant Mehta posed on his blog post in regards to this news:  “I really want to know why any self-respecting women would remain in a Church that treats them so poorly.”

It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I’m sure a lot of atheists would have a hard time seeing why any person would remain in the Catholic Church even before these new rules came out. I know I express all the time my incredulity at anyone who stays in any religion. But really, for most of my life I was religious, and there are billions of people out there who have no problem belonging to religions that tell them they’re worthless without their god of choice.

So why is it that people will go on believing in a religion that has so little respect for them?

Here’s the comment I posted on the Friendly Atheist post:

When I was a Catholic I accepted that as a woman I was inherently inferior to men due to Eve’s mistake. Stupid, I know…but if other Catholic women think like I did then they’re not self-respecting women, so the Church’s declaration would probably just be swallowed like all the other bullshit the Church dishes out.

I want to elaborate a little on that because it got me thinking back into the mindset I had when I had no problem accepting such a harsh doctrine.

Growing up my parents never pigeonholed us into gender roles. My brother played with Barbies and I played with Hot Wheels and they never discouraged us from doing non-girly or non-boyish things. So where did this idea come from that I’m inherently inferior to men? I think it started when I was in highschool and I became friends with a couple of evangelical Christians. We had our spares together, and my friend would bring her Bible and we would discuss various topics of interest to Christians. I only had a passive interest in my Bible until she started telling me about this and that inspirational story, and that’s when I started really looking at the thing (of course I looked selectively like a true Christian would, see the post on my childhood Bible).

I think that once you allow yourself to be immersed in the culture of Christianity it’s only natural to start to believe things like abortion is always wrong, homosexuality is a sin, women should stay in their place, etc. I believed that the Bible was true, and I believed that God was good and loving. I also bought into that crap about humans being sinners who need to repent. I believed that all humans had to pay for the mistakes of Adam and Eve, and somehow it didn’t cross my mind that God was at fault for putting the apple in the garden to begin with. And of course, I believed that Jesus would save me from my sinful ways.

I remember once telling someone…I can’t remember who it was, or what we were discussing…I think I was telling someone why I believed feminism is stupid, and my reasoning was Eve ate the apple and that’s why women have the joy of menstruation and that’s why our job is to serve men. Women have to pay for her mistake, too bad, so sad. I have no idea if that’s really what the Bible said, but it was enough that it seemed like something that the Bible would say, because it was nice to have a pat answer.

Christianity was easy. It had black and white responses for almost everything. Rather than delving into the complicated ethics of abortion, I could just refer back to “thou shalt not kill.” I think that’s a large part of what drew me to the religion. I thought I had all the answers, and I felt like I was in on the secret to everlasting life in heaven. It’s a nice feeling provided your thoughts don’t drift to those poor souls who haven’t heard the good news.

Okay I’d better get back to the topic, which is why Catholic women stay in a church that treats them like second-class citizens. When you’re a part of a church you generally buy into the idea that you’re a sinner, and that this church has the answers you need to gain entry to heaven. The problems that exist in the world are caused by the evils of humans rather than of God. You trust the church leaders because they speak with authority, they’ve studied the religion all their lives, they must know what God wants you to do.

Once you’ve accepted this then it’s in your best interest to act how your church wants you to act. When I went to church on a regular basis with my family, I revered our priest. I felt like when he shook my hand or handed me the sacrament that I was getting a special gift from a holy person. I trusted that what he taught was the truth, and I thought that all churches were probably like mine because what I was being taught just seemed to make sense.

It’s hard for outsiders to see why someone would associate themselves with an organization that, it seems, is always in the news for the horrible things it says and does. But when you’re indoctrinated to believe that you’re a worthless sinner, you don’t have self-respect, and you go along with what the Church wants you to do because that’s the way to be saved from your horrible self. Although it may seem from the outside that women shouldn’t belong to an organization that has so little respect for them, that’s just the harsh reality that the believer accepts. You believe that the Church has your best interests at heart, and that when they say something like “the ordination of women is a crime,” they’re really just trying to save the souls of would-be female priests.

Enlightning Bolts – 07.05.2010 – Female Bloggers Edition

I recently posted a list of skeptical female bloggers (and websites, podcasts, etc.) and have been slowly making my way through them reading what they have to say. So I thought I would make a special Enlightning Bolts to highlight some of the posts I’ve been enjoying…

***

Rachael posted a positive story about how kids’ perceptions of scientists changed after they met some scientists.

***

Angie the Anti-Theist has an interesting multi-part piece on her experience with Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s Part 1.

***

Doubtful Daughter has written about how much more she questions things now that she’s not a “believer”…it might as well have been written by me!

***

Apparently it’s Relocate Religious Books Month! I’ve never moved a book from its spot in the bookstore if it’s in the wrong section, I tend to think that’s just making the employees’ jobs harder, but I have mentioned to staff that certain books shouldn’t be in the Science section and gotten results. I also sometimes move Skeptic Magazine over so that it’s covering the woo-ish UFO and Biblical Archeology magazines – they’re in the same section so I don’t feel bad about doing that!

Recipe – Chickpea Burgers

It’s weird for me to post a recipe, but since my vegetarianism was a result of my reason-based outlook, I think it fits in here. If people like the idea of posting recipes I’ll do it more often!

Since I stopped eating meat I’ve been looking for an alternative to burgers that’s not disgusting, and it’s hard to find. I can’t stand the taste of soy, and those burgers that try to taste like meat are usually dry and weird-tasting. The other night I went to a BBQ and the hostess kindly made me a chickpea burger that I absolutely loved, mainly because it wasn’t trying to taste like meat.

Here‘s the recipe:

2 tsp vegetable oil
3 green onions (including tops) chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each dried oregano and chili powder
1 cup diced sweet red or green pepper and/or ½ cup chopped pickled hot peppers
Half tomato, chopped
1 can (19 oz) chick-peas drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp cilantro or parsley, chopped

1. In nonstick skillet, heat 1 tsp of oil over medium heat and cook onions, garlic, oregano and chili powder, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add red pepper and tomato. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes or until pepper is tender and liquid is evaporated.
2. In food processor, mix pepper mixture with chick-peas; transfer to bowl. Stir in bread crumbs, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste until well combined. Pressing firmly, shape into 4 burgers.
3. In nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium heat and cook burgers for 4 minutes on each side or until heated through.

Serves 4

You can make this ahead through to step 2 and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

The friend that made them for me used extra bread crumbs because the patties weren’t staying together well. She also used both green peppers and pickled ones. She cooked them on the BBQ but it was a bit of a challenge, so it’s probably best to do it in a skillet. You just eat it on a bun with whatever condiments you would normally put on a burger.

On the website where she got the recipe it says you could also omit the breadcrumbs and cook them in a frying pan to use as filling for tacos.

Enjoy!

Atheist/Rationalist Reading the Bible

Just sharing a link,

Here‘s someone who is reading the Bible cover-to-cover, and rationalizing as she goes. The tag line:

My journey through the pages of “The Holy Book,” what I uncover and how my knowledge of history and my rational thinking explain its secrets.

She’s plugging along at a good pace too, so if you’ve ever wanted to read the whole book you might want to read along with her!

Good stuff!

Defining Atheism, for the Sake of my Sanity

I’m sick of people misrepresenting what the word “atheism” really means, so I’m going to spell it out here and refer back everytime someone spouts nonsense about what atheism is. It bothers me to no end when people say that atheists believe this and that, because “atheism” doesn’t describe what beliefs someone has, all it says about someone is what beliefs they don’t have.

Theism = The belief in a god or gods

And just like apolitical means without political association, asexual means without sex, or asymmetrical means without symmetry…

Atheism = Without the belief in a god or gods

That’s it! If you ask someone: “do you believe in god?” and they say: “no”, they’re an atheist, simple as that.

Oh, FYI, saying “I don’t believe in ___” is not the same as saying “I believe ___ can’t/couldn’t exist”. Got it?

Being an atheist just means that you don’t believe in any gods. People who describe themselves as atheists can believe in ghosts, goblins, hell, heaven, unicorns, psychics, leprechauns, Santa Claus, they can believe the Earth is flat or there are aliens living on Venus, they can be tyrants or saints, they can be any type of person you can imagine, as long as they don’t believe in any gods.

All you can deduce when someone tells you they’re an atheist is that they don’t have any god beliefs.

One more thing: there’s no need to bring the word “agnostic” into this definition. Theism/Atheism is a true dichotomy, meaning if you’re not a theist you’re an atheist. There’s no need to pretend that “agnostic” is a middle ground (it’s not, gnostic/agnostic deal in knowledge, where as theism/atheism deal specifically in god belief), because atheism is a spectrum from the people who don’t really believe in god but would be easily convinced, to the people who assert that there’s no such thing as god and it’s not possible for a god to exist.

Really, the only important parts of this whole post are the bolded parts, the rest is just me imagining to possible objections to my definition. If you object to the bolded parts I’ll be doing this:

Likely followed shortly by this:

Women and Skepticism

If you’ve ever been to a meeting of skeptics, chances are you’ve noticed a big gap between the number of men and the number of women in attendance. When I started this blog I remember trying to think of what would set my point of view apart from the thousands of other skeptical blogs out there. All I could think of was that it might be interesting that I was formerly a believer of many of the things I now criticize, but it took some comments on my gender to make me realize that being a female skeptical blogger is actually pretty rare.

I’ve never gone and counted, but in my anecdotal experience most skeptical, atheist, and science-related blogs are written by men. So why is this? Skeptifem recently blogged about this, and her thinking was that it’s because women are busier, as we are generally tasked with looking after the kids or the home. I have no doubt that this contributes to the lack of ladies at skeptical gatherings, but I think there has to be more to it than that, otherwise we should expect women to also be underrepresented at things like Mind, Body, Spirit Festivals and in Church activities, no? Thankfully, PZ Myers recently posed the question on his blog:

So I’m going to try something a little different. Instead of telling you my opinion, I’m going to forgo the essential principle of blogging (which is “Me! Me!”) and just ask people, especially women, to leave links to their godless/skeptical feminist blog or make suggestions or gripe or tell me what these stupid male-dominated conventions have to do to correct the imbalance.

There was a lot of interesting discussion, so I recommend looking at the comments. Personally, I think it largely has to do with it being less socially acceptable for a woman to be outspoken, confrontational, and intellectual. I’m not sure what the solution is to this issue, maybe you can post your suggestions in the comments, but I think that promoting female skeptics is a good place to start. If more women are seen to be participating in skepticism at least online, then maybe we won’t be seen as a novelty simply by virtue of our gender.

So I’ve gone through the comments on that thread on Pharyngula and compiled this list of skeptical blogs/podcasts/websites that happen to be created by women (hopefully I didn’t miss any, there were over 600 comments). Enjoy!

Feel free to add more links in the comments!

I also want to take this opportunity to say that I’ve been wanting to find other contributors to this blog since my posts are so sporatic, and this whole topic of women in skepticism has made me think that it would be great to get some other women posting on my blog. If you’re interested (even if you want to cross-post from your own blog), shoot me an email through my contact page.

Enlightning Bolts – 07.02.2010

Hi all, aside from responding to as many comments as I’ve been able to manage lately, I’ve been absent from the blog ever since I declared my will to stick with it. I have a good excuse though, and it’s not to do with frustrations this time. I bought a house! As anyone who has bought a house knows, it’s time consuming and stressful so I’ve opted for spending my internet time on things that hurt my brain less like xkcd and SMBC (if you haven’t yet discovered these wonderful web comics, you’re welcome).

So I thought I would share some Enlightning Bolts today, and I’ll post as frequently as possible during my move over the next couple of months.

***

I was sad to learn that outspoken atheist, and my favourite Vanity Fair columnist, Christopher Hitchens, has cancer. The press release is light on details, hopefully they caught it early enough and he is able to recover quickly.

***

Will Phillips is the ten-year-old activist who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom because there isn’t “liberty and justice for all” if gay couples don’t have the right to marry. He deserves a treat, don’t you think? Well, his birthday is coming up in September, why not donate a few dollars to help send this wonderful and deserving kid to DragonCon?

***

Should we or shouldn’t we be de-oiling birds in the Gulf?

***

Jesus likes grilled cheese, but Buddha prefers termites (pictured).


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 47 other followers

AtheistBlogroll5
Free counters!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers