10 signs that somethin's happenin' here, what it is ain't exactly clear....
Okay, I get it: atheists (well, at least the ones who write for Alternet) don't like right-wing religious fundamentalists. Fine. Neither do I. Why is it we can't find common ground? Maybe because atheists (at least the ones who write for Alternet) are so determined to be so triumphal on such shaky grounds?
1. Coming out atheist is up and coming.
Um, unless you live in a really small town in the really deep South, you don't need to "come out" as an atheist. Unless, of course, like tout le monde you want desperately to play the "victim card" and insist that you are the real persecuted-for-your-thoughts person, and that thoughts, like skin color and sexual preference, are inherent and unchangeable.
Is that really what you want?
2. The cutting edge of freethought is less cutting and edgy.
Um, this is the 21st century. "Free thinkers" were no longer cutting edge when H.L. Mencken caricatured them in 1948. And as for Hitchens, et al., yes, he was unnecessarily antagonistic. Just to steal a line from Charlie Pierce: ""It will be the belief of this blog that, as Christopher Hitchens once said, the only correct answer to the question, 'Is nothing sacred?' is 'No.' " That question, and its answer, were pretty much the status quo of my professors in seminary. So when you look to the future, you'll already find me there, looking back at you. Oh, and this:
Alain de Botton’s TED talk and book, Atheism 2.0, simply posits the nonexistence of God and then goes on to discuss what humanity can glean from the rubble of religious traditions.Might I suggest you read Sartre, Camus, even Hemingway? T. S. Eliot, perhaps? Why do you think the "Lost Generation" was lost? Because they didn't have GPS? Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, sold the franchise, retired on the proceeds. Or maybe you want to read God's Funeral. Cutting edge? What do you think that term means? So far you're on the cutting edge of the 19th century. Mid-19th century, in fact. And maybe you missed the "God is dead" theology. It was in the '60's; even made the cover of Time Magazine. But maybe that was a bit before your time.
3. Biblical sexuality is getting binned. Finally.
Good. Not sure what that has to do with religious beliefs, but: good. I'm not gonna quibble over the idea of "Biblical sexuality."
4. Recovering believers are reclaiming their lives. Most atheists and agnostics are former believers, which means that many carry old psychological baggage from childhood beliefs or some post-childhood cycle of conversion and deconversion.
Again, good. It's a tiny minority of people, so a patch of ice doth not a winter make, and all that. But may they find healing. BTW, that kind of healing has been going on, and necessary, since before I was born. There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun.
And every turn of the wheel is not a revolution. Well, not in one sense.
5. Communities are coming together.
6. Secular giving is growing.
Which means, what, exactly? Since most of the major charities in the US are already secular (the ones you hear about, anyway: United Way, Komen, American Cancer Society, etc., etc., etc.)
7. The Religious Right is licking wounds.
Well, of course they are. They were mostly a reaction to the '60's anyway. Good riddance to them. BTW, a lot of that retrenchment is happening within denominations associated with the "Religious Right," and happening because of young people who are still believers. This really has nothing to do with the rise of atheists, though it does reflect the decline of influence of Falwell's "Moral Majority." Good riddance to it.
Shining a light on cruelty, bigotry and ignorance works.
Somebody needs to tell Annie DiFranco.
8. Texas is evolving!
Because: "Acceptance of evolution is growing across the country." Well, okay, that's a decline in the influence of the antedeluvian squad, I'll grant you. Still don't like the metaphor of evolution=improvement/progress, but that's an underlying problem of the theory (and how easily it turns to "Social Darwinism," which is an unrelated rant.)
9. Millennials are taking up the torch.
I got no problem with this. As I like to point out, Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans for Separation of Church and State, is a UCC minister.
10. Rebuilding the wall of separation isn’t the only place Millennials are leading the way.
Young adults who grew up isolated in abusive homeschooling situations have created a network, Homeschoolers Anonymous, so that they can lend each other support and fight for change.
Except home schooling is not synonymous with religious fundamentalism. I know children who have been home schooled. Religious belief had nothing to do with it.
When a Catholic school in Bellevue, Washington fired a gay teacher, hundreds of students walked out chanting, “Change the church.” Their protest was picked up by students at other schools and Catholic alumni. A new documentary movie with a millennial production crew, The Unbelievers, has been described as a rock concert love-fest between biologist Richard Dawkins and physicist Larry Krause and their young fan base of science lovers.
Interestingly, one of these things is not like the other: chanting "Change the church" is not quite the same as declaring "unbelief." And a "rock concert love-fest"? Like, what, Woodstock for atheists? Yeah, I remember how that changed the world, too.....
But my point is not to disparage the changes identified; it is to point out that I don't have that much disagreement with them (although "science love" is not necessarily exclusive of religious faith, but I'll leave that to Gregor Mendel and Georges Lemaître.
We were quite triumphal in the '60's, convinced that we had remade music, culture, politics: everything. And then came 1972, and McGovern lost in one of the worst landslides in U.S. history, and while Nixon was forced to resign the Vietnam War ended under Gerald Ford; disco became music; and Jimmy Carter, a Southern Baptist peanut farmer, essentially paved the way for Ronald Reagan.
So tell me again these are 10 signs the culture has fundamentally changed and all persons religious have "lost" and the world is progressing toward the Millenium (a baffling Christian fundamentalist idea, by the way). Because not only am I not seeing it, I'm still not seeing why anyone with religious faith has to be opposed to, or by, anyone without it. And I haven't even touched on how truly revolutionary Pope Francis I has been, simply by returning (as Luther, and then Calvin, and then the Puritans, and every Protestant group since Zurich, has said they were doing) to basic, VERY basic, Christian teachings.
Maybe it's time for some Christians to "come out."