“The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion”

Looked down at my watch this morning for the date. “21” it said. I wrote 21 Oct ’14 in my notebook to begin my journal entry.

31 minus 21 is 10.

Hey, it’s 10 days till Halloween!

Last week I finished an old Mack Bolan trade paperback novel, “Running Hot.” I’ve read two of the books in that series which runs into the hundreds of titles written by numerous authors. This one was written by Don Pendleton, the character’s creator.

I had a tough time getting through the little book. The brusque description, the bloody action, were over the top. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood.

I haven’t started a new full length book since then, and lo and behold it’s 10 days till Halloween.

“Dracula.” I’ll reread Stoker’s great work.

No, why reread? There’s so much freely available I haven’t read.

I just started “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. I’m familiar with the story but I’ve never read the entire work. It oughta be gothic enough for Halloween.

Are you reading anything for Halloween?

Atheists connecting online and elsewhere

At the end of the nineties or maybe the beginning of the new century, I started reading about atheism and Freethought. All this classic literature, much that I’d never heard of, available freely online. I also joined online atheist groups. For the most part I only watched and listened.

In 2006 I started attending conferences. Back then most of the conferences were “big” (tiny by today’s standards) national conferences. It’s only been in the last few years that regional conferences, many of them spectacular events, have been regularly hosted by local groups here in the Midwest.

I was thrilled, maybe thrilled isn’t a strong enough word, ecstatic maybe, to find other atheists. I met authors and entertainers, scientists and activists, tons of other atheists. In 2009 I became the Missouri State Director (they are now called Regional Directors) for American Atheists and I also founded a local group – Columbia Atheists – in my hometown. In 2013 I became the National Affiliate Director for American Atheists and I still run our local group (though I’m stepping back my level of involvement there quite a bit). This is all volunteer btw, I’ve never been paid for atheism.

At the beginning of 2009 I succumbed to the lure of Facebook, then Twitter. These two require mention here because I have used them primarily to connect with other atheists. Sure, I’m Facebook friends with members of my family and my wife’s family, and people I went to school with and know “IRL,” but the overwhelming majority of my Facebook friends and Twitter tweeters are other atheists.

It’s difficult to imagine what my life would look like without the internet and modern communication technology. I wouldn’t know an nth of the people that I know. I wouldn’t have read the books I’ve read, I wouldn’t have gone to the places I’ve been. I wouldn’t think the things I think, I wouldn’t say the things I say, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.

Too many atheists are still isolated. But before the internet so many more of us were. Over and over, when someone new shows up at a group meeting or a conference, or even on an online forum we hear some variant of “I thought I was the only one.” That is the power that popular belief has to force people into hiding, and that’s the power that modern communication technology and community, whether in meatspace or online, have to subvert that pressure and connect us.

National Day on Writing: it’s Write-time!

Ready for National Day on #Writing #WriteMyCommunity

I’m ready for National Day on Writing (kind of a wonky title, there’s probably a good reason of which I’m completely unaware).

The theme is “Write my Community.” I’m running through my options, different communities that I am part of and what I want to say about them. I know a lot of great people who do a lot of excellent things. But it ain’t all roses. I can build up a lot of momentum with negativity, it’s difficult to work up as much steam with the positive. But I don’t want to just bitch – and I don’t want to ignore the not so nice.

Looking for balance.

What I’ll do is just start writing, in ink in my notebook. I’ll see what comes out of that and maybe some of it will end up here (see how I hedge, no promises kids).

Do you have something to say about community?

Book Review: “Secular Parenting in a Religious World” by Be-Asia McKerracher

A while back Be-Asia McKerracher, who I met years ago when I first became active in the Midwest atheist community, asked if I’d review her book “Secular Parenting in a Religious World.” I told her I’d be glad to and so she sent me a copy. I read it and loved it. I posted this review at Amazon in August, I also posted it at Goodreads.

Here’s my review of “Secular Parenting in a Religious World” by Be-Asia McKerracher.

 

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In case you hadn’t heard, raising children can be difficult. The endless stream of decisions to be made, the second guessing of not only those decisions but the manner in which they were addressed, can take its toll.

Now take all the usual pressures of raising a child and add the challenge of raising a secular child in a culture saturated with religion.

How do we raise children with a healthy sense of skepticism and the necessary critical thinking skills? How do we bolster their courage while encouraging respect for the rights of others to their own opinions? How do we equip children to withstand aggressive proselytization from loved, respected, or feared adults and peers?

Religious groups regularly send children into the world to spread their various messages. Secular children must be able to recognize and withstand these often high pressure sales pitches at a surprisingly young age.

“Secular Parenting” offers strategies on handling and communicating with children about school settings, holidays, media, sex, family, and family gatherings (including a long bit on funerals), and more.

The author writes at length on dealing with religious family members, an important topic as many if not most secular parents come from religious families or have religious in-laws. She stresses seeing the situation through the eyes of loved ones (not agreeing with but rather empathizing) who can’t imagine children raised without the light of whatever god belief they hold to.

Holidays are an important part of our lives and our children’s lives. Mrs.McKerracher outlines several strategies for dealing with holidays and some strengths and weaknesses of those strategies.

She uses plenty of examples from her personal experience, which adds a comforting and personal touch to the narrative (many of my favorite passages are her family anecdotes). The book is easy to read and understand, and grounded in compassion and good sense.

Young people must be able to explore the world, including the world of faiths, in a safe and sane manner at their own pace. Our job as parents is to enable, as best we can, our children to become decent, confident, independent adults. The ideas and strategies presented in “Secular Parenting In A Religious World” are worthy tools to get started on that project.

“all the king’s men”

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“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

reading another online discussion, thinking of this quote

a delightful word: “splenetic”

Came across a delightful word: “splenetic”

From the Chambers:

splenetic
adjective

1. Of the spleen
2. Affected with spleen
3. Bad-tempered, irritable or irritated, peevish
4. Melancholy

 

It doesn’t roll off the tongue but rather is spit out of the mouth, like a whole clove left in the soup by a sadistic cook. I’m a bit splenetic that I’ve never heard the word used in reference to myself.