Saturday, January 31, 2009

Atheism and me

Here's the thing: I was raised an atheist.
My parents are reasonable people. My dad was raised a Catholic. When Vatican II came in when he was in his early twenties, he actually understood what the priests were saying for the first time. And that was enough for him. My mom was the "sinner" her friends took to church on "Take a Sinner Sunday." While she attended a variety of churches growing up, none of them stuck.
I think my parents raised my brother and I with a pretty strict moral code, much of it centred around the idea of "Judge not lest ye be judged." Because what gives one person the right to judge who you are and what you do? If it's not the legal system, you should probably keep your mouth shut.
I didn't have to reject a church or a system of beliefs to get to where I am today. It is well-documented that I was a know-it-all 14-year-old who caught on to the fact that believing that your own religion is the only right one leads to a world of trouble.
At the same time, had I decided to join a church or hold a certain system of beliefs as an adult, I know my parents, as long as I didn't try to recruit them, would have been accepting of that.
So here, at 28, is the code I follow:
1. Everyone's beliefs are legitimate.
2. That said, I don't have to tolerate people who force their beliefs on me.
3. There's a right and a wrong and a bunch of shades of grey in between and you can trust the majority of people to inherently understand that.
4. That said, people's understanding of right and wrong can be clouded by many things, including religion.
5. There's not much point in arguing with people about their faith.
6. I will raise my own children to be open-minded to all faiths and creeds. If they want to follow a particular one, I will accepting of that.
7. I will speak out against the dangers of fundamentalism when confronted with it.
8. I will not become a fundamentalist myself, therefore I will not go around preaching about the lack of a god. I will debate when engaged, but I will try not to rage. Though I will rage when talking things over with likeminded people (ie, my parents).
9. I do believe that there is something in the universe that is amazing - that so many small factors, from environment to evolution to sheer survival instinct (not only of humans, but of every species on Earth) brought us to where we are today. I do not believe there was a grand order to things, outside the natural order.

I heard Stuart A. Kaufmann on the radio before Christmas, talking about this. I felt like he was saying what I'd been feeling for years. He wrote Reinventing The Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason and Religion.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Review: Things the Grandchildren Should Know

Things the Grandchildren Should Know Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved Eels the first time I heard Novocaine for the Soul on MuchMusic. I was 16, and the lyrics spoke to me. I needed something for my soul so very much - I was an angsty teen after all. The album Beautiful Freak went on to become a soundtrack to my high school days and the subsequent albums all have ties to moments in my life, from my first dorm room to car trips with my husband and daughter.

This book is what was going on with the man behind the music and it is a beautiful tale of a weird and wonderful like where the downs (and there are many) are only surpassed by the ups. Mark Oliver Everett tells it like it is (and was).

My favourite passage in the book? "It lasted five or six years. In the end, it didn't work out. But, after all, this is Chapter 13. What did you expect?"

A necessity for reading is a complete soundtrack of E and Eels albums, as well as some other tracks, including Happy Trails (so you can hear it as he leaves his mother's funeral, even if he didn't get to), an Elliott Smith track of your choice (something from his dark period, preferably), some Tom Waits and some Neil Young. Maybe John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band album, if you can handle it.

View all my reviews.

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought I'd have a hard time getting around the dog as narrator, but I really enjoyed the outside perspective on the lives of his master and family. I didn't need the final chapter, which I won't reveal since it's a total spoiler, but it didn't ruin the book as epilogues by a certain New Hampshire based novelist do for me.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bleeding Hearts