Ask an Atheist Day

I imagine if you do not know a lot of atheists then you would have no idea it is “Ask an Atheist Day.”  Well it is and here is a little blurb about it

atheist“National Ask An Atheist Day is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public – particularly people of faith – to approach us and ask questions about secular life.”

Since this blog should be as much about me learning about Christianity as it should be you learning about secular life.  Both groups have extremists and it and it a shame when anyone is pigeonholed into those beliefs as if they speak for everyone.

So ask me a question.  I will answer what I believe and what I think most atheists think in regards to your question.

I will answer every single question (as long as they are appropriate) in a subsequent blog post.  I figure since people tend to come back to my blog over a week after posting I will give everyone a week to get their questions posted in the comments.

If you don’t want to post publicly you can always email me – victoriousolive [ at ] me [dot] com

(also I am sorry for my lack of posting as of late but trying to keep straight A’s in 16 units at school with half being science classes is pretty much taking up my whole life)

Why?

I have been thinking lately about why I have not only kept this blog going (even if in a very limited state) but recently I even bought and changed the URL to http://www.temporarychristian.com.

I feel like this is something important to me. I am not looking for a god but I have found at with the right people I can really enjoy going to church. Crazy I know but really not unusual.

Last year I read an article about the atheists in the pew. Lots of atheists are going to church for the community aspect and because it does provide a way to talk about religion with you kids. One of the complaints about religion by anti-theists is that children are indoctrinated at an early age to not only believe but that there is no other options. Children grow up thinking that they will be disowned by their family if they are non-believers. Being an atheist is considered the unforgivable sin right? This isn’t just here-say but based on the fact that very few atheists grew up that way. More often than not they come from very religious families. Families that you probably sit next to in church every Sunday. The type of people you think are great Christians.
The thing is I don’t want to do exactly what I criticize religious parents for doing. I don’t want to indoctrinate my children into my disbelief. I want them to be exposed to different things. I want them to experience all sorts of different religions.
For myself I would just like to feel part of a group a bit larger than my family. A selection of open-minded friends to get together with on the weekends sometimes. People to talk about day to day stuff with. Basically the same thing I think everyone wants in life.
I think it’ll take a bit to find those truly open-minded people who don’t be friend me simply to try to “save” me but its ok I think it’ll be worth it. Plus it will be fun (and free donuts) along the way.

Like it or Leave it?

I read all the time about how Christians think they are persecuted in this country but no one talks about how telling people to leave if they don’t believe in their god isn’t ok.

This photo is from a Facebook acquaintance and he took it while going to get fuel.  How can this be considered acceptable?  I know a lot of people who would actually agree with this too.  They think it is patriotic and they don’t think it is discriminatory at all.
If this said something about blacks it would be on the news and whomever did this would lose their job.

On the other hand there is Freedom of Speech.

So this business, though maybe not the smartest move, can put what they want on the displays.  I support their right to do that even if i disagree.  I also support their right to believe in whatever god they do or do not want to believe in.

Too bad they can’t return the favor.

 

 

Look at me…

Helping a friend with her sacrifice for Lent.

Thanks to a series of events I am pretty sure the universe hates me but everything that happened today has freed my friend up from babysitting my kiddos and now she can go get her ash “smear” at Lenten services tomorrow.

She wasn’t sure what she was going to sacrifice for Lent. I pointed out that thanks to many changes she has made in her life recently she has given up a lot of vices and there isn’t too much left. I suggested instead of giving up something she takes on something that brings her closer to God.

I suggested down loading the You Version bible app on her iPhone and starting a reading plan. I remember from last year they have multiple plans spanning the full Lenten period or a few shorter ones.
Lent is only 40 days but it does cover a 46 day period because technically Lent doesn’t include Sundays (which was a major flaw in the movie “40 Day and 40 Nights”) but I think any good reading plan would actually last all 46 days.

My thought was she would give up time otherwise wasted on the Internet or TV and replace it with spending time with the bible.

Then I wondered “Who’s going to believe I’m an atheist if I keep talking like this?”

21 Day Fast

I’m going to be writing a more extensive post later but starting today I’m participating in a 21 day fast that the church I was attending in Colorado is doing.
They are doing it as an online event so anyone can participate and my good friend invited me.

I have wanted to start this blog back up for a bit but not enough to search out a new church so this is a good enough reason for me.

I haven’t yet watched the Pastor’s sermon about it but that is on my to-do list for the day.

Since obviously I’m not giving up food completely for 21 days I am giving up something that might as well be my daily sustenance.  All sodas and caffeinated drinks.

So onward and upward! Today will be an interesting caffeine-free day.

Found a Church (at least for now)

Last Sunday we had a soccer game to go to here in Las Vegas. It was huge.  Real Madrid (the Italian League Champions) versus Club Santos Laguna (the MExican League Champions).   Real Madrid won 2-1 as expected though Santos put up a good fight.  It was a good game and I had a nice evening out with my husband and a friend (and no kids!)

Because my husband worked right before the game he had to meet me there so we obviously left separately.  He went straight home since he had to work in the morning and I went to get the kids from the babysitter’s house.  On the way I saw a sign in a strip mall that said “Epic Church.” I remember thinking that sounded interesting and I wondered if it really was “Epic.”

Well unlike every other church I have passed and I try to remember the name to, I actually remembered this one.  So it looks pretty cool.  Maybe even more laid back than my last church (if that is even possible).  So now instead of church in a school it will be church in a strip mall.

Its about 22 miles from my house so it’ll will have to be impressive to keep me going for more than 2 visits (I think twice  is fair, right?).  Though starting anew does bring up all the questions of before; do I admit my atheism right off? Do I keep it to myself and if so, for how long?  Should I just go with the flow?

This time I don’t have a friend to show me the ropes and I cannot believe I am actually excited but I’m going to jump back in and see how this all works out.

I Cried at Church Today

Like a blubbering sap I cried as I walked out of the service during ending songs.

Why?  all because there must of been at least 300 years of marriage that renewed their vows today along with one very young couple, that already had a child, and just needed the commitment of marriage to finish their family off.

I believe in marriage.  I always have.  Not just because it is a social expectation and couples who are not married aren’t taken seriously but because I believe in the commitment.  If a person is good enough to spend your life with, to share finances with, to make children with, then they should be good enough for you to commit to them in a permanent way that can only be undone by an arduous court process.

So in church today, as it was the final sunday in the marriage series, there was a chance for anyone who wanted to renew their vows.  After the message the Pastor called the couples up one by one.  Their picture and date they were originally married was on the big screen.  First the youngest marriage of only 3 years up to the longest marriage of 52 years!!   Finally the last couple was the young couple getting married.  They stood with all those couples who had been married for so very long; people who have survived through the good and the bad, the sickness and health and the richness and the poorness of life.

Can you imagine the power of getting married not just in front of family and friends but getting married at the same moment as at least 4 other couples whom had been married over 40 years?  Not to mention all the other couples.  That would be simply powerful.

I looked at that group and had my husband and I been up there we would have been only second in line.  Our 5th anniversary is coming up in July and I realized we have so much further in our lives together to go.  This is not a first marriage for either of us so statistically we have the odds against us.  But screw the odds.  On July 7, 2057 when I am 80 and my husband is 83 we will hobble down an aisle and our children, grandchildren and possibly great-grandchildren will watch us renew our vows and proclaim that if we survived this long we will make it to 7-7-77.

Every bone in my body knows we will make to at least 50 years.  My husband promised me that.  And in case I have forgotten to mention it to him, I also promise that we will make it to 50 years.


That’s why I cried.

 Not because I was sad, but because I was reminded of what my own marriage has brought to me and seeing others make it to where I want to be made me silly happy.

Losing my Religion

As we get closer to moving, or I think we re getting closer I am realizing  few things.

As much as I don’t like it here I have made a life for myself.  In the 6 years my husband and I have been together (married for almost 5) we have traditions.  Its those things I will miss.

Every summer, the local City Park (the big one) opens up their mini amusement park.  It has little kiddie rides.  Most are sized for the under 48 inch crowd but  a few things are good for everyone like the roller coaster, the horrible spinning thing that watching makes me sick to my stomach, the train that goes into the park and around the fishing hole and the 100+ year old carousel.  The best part about this mini amusement park is that every ride is a quarter except for the train and carousel which are 2 quarters.  My entire family can have 2 hours of fun on $10.  We will be able to hit this up one last time since they usually open up the weekend before memorial day but we go a few times a summer.
Another thing that is new to the area but we love is the Wild West Fest.  It is put on by PBR (Professional Bull Riders) as they are headquartered here and it is the same weekend as a big PBR event at the State Fair Grounds.  Its a big street fair (one of many put on over the summer) but the part we love the most is the Duck Drop.  10,000 yellow rubber ducks are “adopted” by the community for $5 each.

Then the 10,000 ducks are dropped into the Historic Arkansas RiverWalk and they “Race” to a finish line.  The first few ducks that cross the finish line are winners for the adopters.  There is  big monetary prize for the first duck and then other prizes for subsequent ducks.  The prizes are donated and the money raised from the duck adoptions goes towards the county’s project that supplies each third grader with a dictionary at the start of the school year.

Its a great fundraiser but mostly it is beyond awesome to watch 10,000 yellow rubber ducks fall into the river walk and watch them race down stream.  We will get to go to this one last time also but this will be it.  The last time.  😦

I will miss playgroup, though I can find a new group and make new friends.  I will miss having a very inexpensive children’s museum to take the kids to a few times a year.  I will miss the excitement of going into the Rocky Mountains, hiking through some snow and lots of trees to find the perfect one to make into our Christmas tree for the 6 weeks of the holiday season.  Yes this is perfectly legal as we spend $10 to get a Christmas tree permit from the National Forest Service and Yes, the tree lasts that long because it was cut in November not September like the overpriced trees you buy off the lots.

I will miss thunder and hail storms.  I will miss ignoring the tornado warning in hopes of catching a glimpse of a twister.  I will miss the drive in movies.  Oh how I will miss paying $15 to get the whole family into not one but two movies and not have to shell out any more money for drinks, popcorn and candy.

Most of all I will miss Soccer.


It won’t be gone completely from my life but it will be missing.  This is what we do as a family. This is our religion.  We watch every game unless we are on our death bed.  We talk about soccer.  We talk about our local MLS team.  We talk about the English Premier League.  We talk about Barçalona and Real Madrid.   My husband referees for pay.  He has goals and aspirations as a soccer ref.  My kids play recreational soccer.  My oldest wants to go to a very expensive soccer camp so she can insure herself a spot on a high school soccer team.  We have dozens of soccer balls in every size made around the house.  We play mini games of hallway, bedroom or living room soccer all the time.  The baby says “GOOOOAL!!”  The preschooler knows the hand motion for diving and uses it appropriately.  We all wear our Season Ticket Holder Scarves proudly to every game – even if it is 90 degrees out.  Heck we just got family pictures done in our Jerseys.

Soccer is woven into the fabric of my marriage.
It sounds so cheesy and maybe excessive but it is true.  When we were dating my husband decided to take me on a mystery date.  I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me where we were going I just knew I could dress casual and should maybe bring a hoodie and it was in Denver.  Other than the Colorado Rapids I am not 100% sure who the other team was but it didn’t matter because it was my first game ever and it was pretty amazing.   We went to 2 more games that year.

The next year we got married and the 4th of July game was the start of our Wedding week.  We went to the game, saw the fireworks and then left from Denver and drove to Las Vegas for our 7-7-07 wedding that Saturday.  In 2008 our anniversary vacation to Corpus Christi Texas started with the 4th of July game.   In 2009 we took our first child together to her first game ever also on the 4th of July.  She was 3 1/2 months old. The music and fireworks were messed up and the show ended early so we ended up at a make up game with make up fireworks 3 weeks after that.  That August we bought our first set of season tickets.
April 3rd 2010 we went to our first game as season ticket holders.  Our Daughter had just turned 1 two weeks before.  In the time before kick off we were in the team store; there were some infant onsies and so I grabbed a few in 3-6 month size and said we should buy them.

My husband asked “in a different size?”
“No.  In this one”
“But that is 3-6 months, it won’t fit Tori.  Is it in case we need it one day?”
“We will need it around this time next year”

And that is how I told him I was pregnant with our second child.

That year we planned our vacation to Salt Lake City so we could catch a Real Salt Lake game and make it home in time for the Colorado 4th of July game.   We watched as much of the World Cup as we possibly could.  We found out we were having a boy after already deciding on a boys name which “coincidentally” a middle name that is also the last name of a star US Men’s National Team player. I spent my whole pregnancy going up and down the stairs at the stadium because we have front row seats.  This was pretty difficult at the end but I am still proud to say that I went to the final playoff game against the San Jose Earthquakes in 22 degree weather at 36 weeks pregnant and stood and cheered as much as if not more than any other supporter there.  We won that game and I cheered on my team, as they won their first MLS Cup Championship,  from the comfort of my couch since  1. it was in Toronto Canada and 2.  November 21st was a bit too close to my due date of December 11th.  Jack Donovan was born on December 1st.   I spent the offseason reading and tweeting, in all those spare waking hours while nursing my big baby, about soccer.

March 2011 – Opening day also happened to be our daughter’s 2nd birthday.  The weekend was planned around both.  That June we flew to Florida to see my husband’s oldest two children.  We made it a two city vacation so we could catch a USMNT Gold Cup Game in Tampa and then made sure we got back the night before our local team played again.  November our Coach got sacked.  The supporters groups had a farewell party/MLS Cup viewing party.  We went to that to say thanks for helping to win us the Cup and goodbye.

Now here we are in our third year as season ticket holders and we are going to be giving them up.  Forever.  Saying goodbye to our amazing seats.  Saying goodbye to seeing our team play live 19 times a year.  Saying goodbye to tailgates.  Saying goodbye to our soccer family.  Oh how they are our family too.  I actually talk to my soccer friends more than I do my own mom or dad.

When I think about giving this up it makes me want to cry.  Thinking about the game on May 19th and how it will likely be our last game this season almost makes me want to change our whole plan.  I know we can still travel to away games but it won’t be the same.  Our Rapids family won’t always be there.

Honestly I think this is how people feel about moving and having to change churches.  Sure you can find something new, and maybe it can be better but it doesn’t feel like that now.  I think that the way I feel about soccer is how some people feel about Jesus.  That may seem silly when you are a believer because to you it is so much more than just Jesus, but for me soccer is so much more than just a game.  It is a lifestyle.  Its not just something I do on Saturdays.  It is something we truly take part of  everyday and though some of that will still be there after we move a hugh chunk of it is going to be left behind.

Basically we are losing much of why we hold dear and that is what I will miss the most.

Blessed

Its been a super crazy time here at the Temporary Christian house and there is a break in the chaos – but only right now at 2:30 in the morning. 😉

First thing, THANK YOU to everyone who helped out.  I had some incredibly wonderful women bless me with financial help when my family really needed it.  I was able to put food in the fridge and fuel in my gas tank sooner than not at all because of their generosity.

One thing putting my situation out there for the whole world to read did was really make me get up off my butt and do something about that situation.  So I had a garage sale.  What I didn’t sell at the garage sale I either donated or pawned.  I made $500 from that and regained 3/4 of my garage back.  It was like a quadruple win because with that $500 I had the money to negotiate and extension on our car payments.  It will cost us more overall (which is, no doubt, why the finance company approved it) but making the one payment on each vehicle brought us up to date.  Good timing because we were about a week away from repossession on the car.  I used the extra to reward my helpers with Pizza for dinner; they deserved it.

My friend Stefanie, who I attend church with, helped in many different ways like donating her left over garage sale stuff to mine, bringing us dinner one night and letting me know that the church had a benevolence fund that might be willing to help.  Walking into the church office to get the paperwork out and then filling it out was incredibly hard.  I am extremely grateful that I even had the option to ask and the church approved my request and paid my electric bill.  Not just the past due to keep my lights on but the whole thing.   That was such a relief.

Through a contact with the local news station we hd a reporter call us about our problems with the State of Florida and the child support people.  We thought they would be able to help but, understandably, they didn’t want to sit on hold for an hour to try to maybe find something out.  So the story died and our possible help went down the drain.  Being told by yet another person that it just wasn’t really that important to help us get our $3200 back was really upsetting so what did my husband do?  He emailed the governors office.  Yes, he sent an email directly to the Governor of the State of Colorado about how the stet was not helping or caring that a law abiding tax paying voting citizen had basically had $3200 stolen from him because of a possible “computer error.”

If you want something done apparently you have to go over the heads of everyone and bitch to the governor because it worked.  The governor’s office called us, got the details and forwarded them to the state liaison.  The state liaison called us and clarified the details and called our local child support enforcement office and I am guessing told that lady how things needed to go.  It was still a few more days since nothing can be super quick, but eventually they did enough digging and found out that there were 147 people who had the exact same thing happen but because they were all in varying counties they didn’t realize it was an epidemic and not just single occurrences.  The state attorney general was brought into the whole thing and they took over and viola after they took over we got our money back from Florida within 10 days.  Which coincidentally was right before we needed to pay rent for May which we of course didn’t have.

:GIANT SIGH OF RELIEF:

So we paid some more bills, got my over drafted checking account back in the black, bought some much needed shoes for the 2 youngest, and as a splurge (and early mother’s day present) I bought some running shoes for me.  I don’t run but I am trying to be healthier and lose some extra weight.  We have extra in savings right now because we are going to need it to move.  I AM sure my husband will get the transfer he applied for (though he needs to go out there one more time) but even if we aren’t moving to Las Vegas we will be moving out of this house because we just cannot afford it.  Which brings me to my next unexpected blessing.

Dave Ramsey.  The church is sponsoring Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  They were having a drawing for a free lifetime membership and of course I entered.  I didn’t win.  😦 I decided it would be worth it to pay the $70 for the class/membership and hopefully learn how to never be in this predicament again.  First I was offered a scholarship so it would only cost me $35 but I didn’t have the money on me.  That was ok and just take care of it at the first class.  Well when I got there they told me the church decided to gift me the full cost.  Maybe that is not a big deal for the church but it was wonderful for me.  Anytime anyone gives you a gift it is wonderful but this is something that will truly keep giving for the rest of our lives.

The help that has been provided to me has definitely been the type of help that Jesus gave to those around him when he was alive.  I know I said that God would have to prove to me his existence in a very large and tangible way but I just still cannot change my belief.  What I have come to believe is that there is a good in Christianity.

There is a group of people called “Anti-theists.”  They are atheists that no only don’t believe in a god but do believe that belief in one is harmful.  I can see where they get these ideas from.  Many atrocities have been done in the name of god.  Whichever god one believes in, it doesn’t matter, horrible things have been done for that god or because of the teachings of the religion that worships that god.
What this past month did for me was make me believe in the good in Christianity.  I still think there are some pretty bad things in it that I don’t agree with but there are some pretty awesome things.   Things like actually helping people without expecting anything in return.  Providing for the community because its the right thing to do.  The argument goes that an Atheist does these things because they are right not out of fear from a vengeful god.  But I think that the good parts of Christianity lead the good people to do even better and helps the people who might not have otherwise seen a reason to reach out to someone who is different actually reach out to them.

So whether it was god telling you it was the right thing to do or doing it because you’ve been there and want to pay it forward or just because you wanted to, helping other people when they need it is always a good thing.
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(Wow it took me an hour to write this post and it is really time to go to bed now.)

He Wants You To Fit In

There are 2 Christian Radio stations that I have found locally that I have been listening to.  I prefer the talk show based one since it has more talk radio and more religious music versus the “trying to be mainstream” Christian music station.  I was listening to one of the local religious radio stations last Friday  and the host said something that really moved me.

“He doesn’t want you to get in, He wants you to fit in.”

The host went on to talk about how at the Second Coming when Jesus comes you will get a new body, all your ailments will disappear, your body will be perfect, but your character is yours.  Character is something that one needs to be growing right now because the character you have at the second coming will be your character for eternity.  You get a new perfect body and hopefully your character is worthy of it, but I am not worried about my Character.  I am concerned with not being an outsider.

I don’t fit in.  I won’t fit in.  I have been trying to figure out how to address this for a month and every time I start to write it just doesn’t come out right but now I think I finally have the right words.

I don’t see how, even if I decided there was a God, would I ever fit in?

I do not believe that life begins at conception.  I support the right to have a abortion if a woman wants for whatever reason she wants only because I support the rights of all people, young and old to make their own decisions for their own body.  I support gays; I support them in getting married or civil unions or whatever the government wants to call it.  I don’t think they are bad people and I don’t think they are doing anything wrong just because they love another with the same sex chromosomes as them.  I believe in evolution.  I do not believe that the earth is just 6000 years old or that dinosaurs were just made up by atheist scientists to fool the masses into disbelieving in God.  (OK I’m not sure how many christians believe the 6000 year old Earth and Dino thing but really they come out in droves on the internet).

I know that America is not a Christian Nation built on Christian beliefs and even if we were? We were also a nation of people that at that time believed we could own other people.  Money didn’t have “In God We Trust” on it til the 50’s same with the Pledge of Allegiance; it did not say “One nation under God until then either.  Those changes were brought on by the fear of communism and Cold War.  (I am still not sure what one had to do with the other though- I should probably research that.)  I don’t believe that there should be prayer in school, not for Muslims, not for Mormons, not for Hindus, not for Catholics and not for Christians.  I think that sex education, though primarily the responsibility of the parents, should be taught in schools and that includes teaching about prevention not just abstinence.

It seems that my beliefs on social issues do not align with the bible or with the majority of the Christian populous.  I think that is must be ridiculously hard to be a Scientist, a Gay or Pro-Choice and still believe in a God that apparently doesn’t think you fit in.  I wouldn’t fit in and I don’t see myself changing my beliefs on social issues and from a few of the responses I can tell that though a few other Atheists that have become Christians haven’t changed their core social beliefs.

So even though I enjoy the learning aspect of church and I will still keep going because I do enjoy what I am learning; I still do not agree with most of it; I don’t fit in and I don’t see that changing.