Axial Tilt

Since the fall semester just ended and quick winter session starts monday I figured now would be a good time to say Merry Christmas/ Bah Humbug.  Yes I celebrate Christmas.  It’s tradition.  I don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus but I sure do like participating in the annual economy boosting ritual that is the time from mid-November to New Year. 

I do think my kittens might be bigger atheists than myself because they take down my tree at least once every few days.  I’m not sure why the vendetta against the tree but between kitten sabotage and the mostly spring-like weather outside I’m not feeling very christmassy.  Maybe if I can manage to get it decorated with more than 10 plastic balls and a soccer scarf then possibly wrap a few presents I would feel more merry and less bah humbug.  

I was thinking of taking the kids to a Christmas eve celebration with singing and candles – i just hope I can find one because I do remember those fondly.  I think it would be an interesting tradition.  Church for the songs, then hot cocoa after (even if it is 60 degrees outside) and maybe drive around and look at some lights.   Though I have little kids and I would like to do this before midnight.   Apparently I have amassed a few christian friends at school that go to church so surely one of them attends one with a 7pm christmas eve singing service?    I guess I should start asking around. 

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The Comment that Warranted a Post

So I am replying to a comment and realize this is a post worthy reply I am crafting here.  

The comment posted by Brittany here is as follows:  

Indeed, I did know that. :) However, Jesus isn’t regarded as fully man and fully God as he is in Christianity.

And it might interest you to know that at conception, a baby already has its own unique DNA separate from the mother (eye/skin/hair color [everything] is already determined), the heartbeat begins before the 21st day, the foundation for every organ is established by 3 weeks, and the real scientific fact is that life begins at conception. Not at some arbitrary number that someone picks out, whether it be 40 days, after birth, 4 years, or when that person is no longer a teenager. The embryo is less developed that you and I, but it is exactly at the right stage of development as it should be. The stage we were both once at and that everyone goes through. Inconvenience shouldn’t determine whether or not we “have a soul” or are truly a “person.” And if you check out in utero images and legit scientific books, it pretty much throws that whole “mass of cells” argument out the window. :)

 

I do know all of those things- but along with that I also know that if life begins at conception (and scientifically pregnancy begins at conception) then the body aborts life all the time because conception often happens and implantation does not.
So that would leave me to wonder if god considers life to begin at conception then why is all life not given a chance? Why do all pregnancies not end in babies? I am not even talking viable living babies – I am talking why do they not all implant and why do 20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage? Is this a flaw in his design? Or is it because god has something to teach that family? In which case god has created life for the sole purpose of taking life?

Also doesn’t god know EVERYTHING? So why create life in someone whom he already knows is gong to take that life? If it is the devil tricking people into making bad decisions – are you saying that the Devil is more powerful that god?

So your all-knowing god creates life to take life  and when knowing life will be taken he is powerless to stop it?

Answers from an Atheist Part 2

Q:  What do you think is the “final straw” that causes most atheists to become atheists?

 

A:  I always like this assumption – that there was a “final straw.”  I think for most atheists there was no defining moment where they were like “Oh hey this god stuff is bullshit.  I am done with it.”

Sure I do think there are some people who have things happen in their life that are so drastic and life altering that they literally do lose their religion.  This is especially true when they would have been considered good christians and who prayed and asked for god to help them and nothing happened.  When you are told that your prayers will be answered and they aren’t you tend to think its a bunch of lies especially if it happens over and over.  So you either have to believe you aren’t good enough for god to answer your prayers, you didn’t pray enough or that there is no god listening.

I didn’t have a “final straw” moment.  I did have a moment where  logical things I had seen that drew me towards Mormonism became the logic that pushed me out the door.  Sometimes I think I should have the missionaries over to discuss this and see what they have to say about it.  Even so that moment didn’t make me have a sudden disbelief in god though it did provide a loophole in which to take a look deep inside myself.  It still took a few years before I was able to actually define the feelings I had been having about god.

Its incredibly hard to be raised to believe in this god  in a country where everyone seems to believe in it too and have doubts.  I truly believe there are many people out there who say they believe in god simply because everyone else does.  Peer pressure is incredibly hard to overcome.
I think that more likely Atheists’ “final straw” is more a coming out – when they are finally fed up with hearing things like “it was in god’s plan” or “god is good” or just any of the other things that are thrown out on a daily basis by well meaning Christians.  So then they post it on facebook , or tell their family and there is a relief to be able to be who you are and openly (maybe) not believe in what everyone else seems to believe in.

Becoming Atheist is a process of introspection and logical and reasonable thinking over time but coming out as an atheist is the “final straw”

Answers from an Atheist part 1

I guess either no one really reads this anymore – and can I blame anyone when I have barely been posting? Or every one who is Christian isn’t actually interested in getting to understand the other view. Or you feel like you have heard it all already.  Whatever the reason – it’s ok.  So there were not many questions but I am going to spread them out over a few posts because no one wants to read a novel here.

Q: If I’m recalling correctly, you said earlier that you *wanted* to believe. What percentage of atheists do you think feel this way? Do you still feel that way yourself (again, if I am remembering correctly)?

A:  When I say that I “want” to believe it is because it would be infinitely easier to feel that I wasn’t in control of my life sometimes.  Oh that bad thing that happened? It’s god’s plan, not my fault.  For example when Jack fell off the bench at the soccer game last year and I watched his eyes roll into his head as he passed out and I wasn’t sure he was breathing.  I watched his entire future life pass in front of me and all I could think was it was all my fault.  If he died, or had brain damage, or was paralyzed then it was all my fault because I wasn’t paying enough attention. People who believe in god seem to feel that way at first about things but then they say that it is god’s plan.  That  god doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  All those lovely phrases that to most atheists (and many christians) are insulting at the worst and insensitive in the least.

Its not that I want to believe because I think it would be better but it is more that often I don’t want to take responsibility for everything that I don’t like or to think that there is a higher power out there that knows better than I do and will make everything right.

The analogy of god as a parent really is accurate – someone who will let you fall but then pick you up, kiss your boo-boos and make it all better.  Who doesn’t “want” to believe in that?  So yeah I want to believe but I just can’t.

I still feel this way but again only when I am feeling like I just don’t want to take responsibility for what is happening in my life or when I really wish there could be a big giant daddy that comes in and makes everything all better.

As for other Atheists I know some have said they do think this too, but again only sometimes.  The problem with having this deity who is always in control is the inverse of having them take responsibility – its when god is given all the credit.

Right now I have the best single semester GPA I have ever had in my life.  I have worked hard for this and my family has  sacrificed – especially my oldest who babysits a lot so that I can go to the library and study or even just lock myself in my room to get my homework done.  This is my hard work and my success.  Not god’s.

So even if sometimes I say I want to believe – its only because I want someone else to blame when things are going down the toilet.

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)

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.

42.

Everything was such a slow start then – BOOM.  Explosion.  And everything moves at lightning speed.

Without my husband even going out to Las Vegas we have some more questions answered.

  •  He has accepted the job officially.
  • That job is technically with a different company even though the parent company remains the same
  • He has a start date.
  • He will be making more money (but just a little)
  • He gets to keep his original date of hire with the parent company.
  • He needs to be out there 4 days earlier than we expected this time around.

FOUR. DAYS. EARLIER.

This really messes with our original plan.  He was going to leave on Thursday but since he needs to be there on thursday he is leaving tomorrow (tuesday).  My husband is going to get off work in the morning, come home, load up the moving van, then leave for Las Vegas.  Once he arrivesin Las Vegas (about 15 hours later) he is going to go to the place where we have a storage unit reserved and unload our life into a 10’x12′ space.  Then he can go to my dad’s house and sleep til morning when he has to meet with the bosses at what will soon be his new place of employment.

Its all happening  quickly.  We are all packed up essentially.  I think this is because we have been working on getting to this point since before Christmas.  The prospect of a big move is exciting and nerve racking at the same time.

I have been trying to keep up on reading the bible, going to church, etc but how does one do this with everything else going on?

I did try to read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel but it was the student edition and therefore, I felt like it was written for 5th graders.  What I had been hoping for was a condensed version of the full book.  I am hoping  a full book is better and doesn’t just use the premise that the bible is 100% true to make all of his points and expect me to believe them.  (I did not finish the book, even in its shortened format, so maybe it was better later?)

My best example is if there was a nuclear war and all but a few died and the only book left was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, would that mean that Dolphins are the smartest animals on the Planet?  Would that mean that the reason that almost all life had been obliterated was there was a mishap with the bulldozing of the Earth for a galactic bypass?   No, but you can bet that people would believe that because they had no other answers to their questions.  Instead of God there would be Douglas Adams and instead of Jesus there would be Arthur Dent.  And all those answers would be 42.

Its really not that far of a stretch.   My point here is that if an author is going to use logic and reason to convince me of an existence of God then it needs to do it with more than just its own guide to life.

Crazy Days

It has been a whirlwind of crazy around here lately.  The kids are out of school, everyone go sick and we are packing like mad people because all of our stuff is going to Las Vegas NEXT WEEK!

Ok not all of it but like 95% of it.  The rest is staying here with us for the month of June and will either be sold or donated right before the end of the month when I pack up myself and the kids and we head to California to visit family for the month of July.  We will find out the specifics of a job offer on the 11th when my husband is in Vegas yet again to meet with them.  At least when he goes this time it should end in something official.

We decided we are moving. Period.  There will be a start date and worst case is it is in October but best case it is the end of June.  Hence our stuff going down there now so that it is there when, for sure, the kids and I need to be there win August before school starts.

Did I mention we are on break already?  The kids aren’t getting on my nerves yet which is surprising but there are still 87 days of summer left for them to do so.

We haven’t been to church in a few weeks despite how I actually really wanted to go because they were doing the marriage series.  Everyone was sick and not all at once – that would be too convenient.  This virus has gone slowly through our house over the last 3 weeks.  The worst effected was the oldest and youngest girl.  The former ending up with an ear infection and the latter having a fever that hovered around 102 every night for a weekend (she would be fine in the morning making me think she was fine and therefore skipping urgent care).

Even though we won’t be here by July when the series will be “Ask the Pastor” I am going to use the next few weeks to come up with some good questions and then hopefully I can see the replies on You Tube.  (The services get put up every week)

In July we will be heading to church with my best friend (unless I can convince her to skip out every weekend for the beach!) So that will be a new experience with new people and hopefully lots of new stuff to write about.

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.