Photo by Sy Clark

Twice this week I’ve come across the same sentiment from two different people: “Atheists (and the non-religious) feel empty without God.”

One was from a Twitter account responding to a prominent lawyer who interacts on the mini-blogging service. It was blunt and to the point, which is how I’ve usually seen this sentiment made. To be fair to that “Tweep”, as the old identification goes, one of my more militant fellows had decided that it was just the moment to be snarky in response to one of the lawyer’s anecdotes. It was a cute, wholesome story, not requiring anti-religious pompousness in reply,  but he just had to be edgy. I think the response from the Tweep was sharing a common belief that such “hallowed out” people are angry at the world and their fellow man and have no problem showing it.

The other was from the writer Andrew Sullivan, who had a column last week in NY Mag where he spent a great deal of time on the corollary that I’ve seen usually accompany the Tweep’s assertion, that the non-religious try to replace this supposed emptiness with another form of religion.

He maintains that the non-religious (or less religious) on both the political left and right replace this with something else. For the left, that thing is social justice, or a set of diagnoses about and policy prescriptions for society. On the right, it is devotion to a wannabe strongman political figure like President Donald Trump, someone who will encourage their nationalist tendencies and xenophobia and the anger behind these things. Andrew’s words were not blunt like the Tweep’s but ultimately carried a similar line of thought, that the non-religious, lacking a clear purpose, will try to find it in all the wrong places. That they will ultimately be driven by their emotions into the arms of people and ideologies that are toxic.

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Today on Facebook, I made this statement:

So today is Openly Secular Day (, an event that is primarily focused on atheists/non-believers opening up to other people about their life experience. I could spend some time saying I’m “openly secular,” but this description also applies to any religious person who supports the principles of secular government and other secular institutions, which is most people in my experience. Instead, I’ll take a different route.

I am an atheist, but I’m also a videographer and editor, a webpage creator, an uncle, a son, a content developer, a huge sci-fi/fantasy geek, a grandson, a moderate libertarian, a book lover, a nephew, a cousin, a travel enthusiast, an asthmatic, a Chronie (Crohn’s Disease), and an American.

For me, “atheist” is just one part of who I am, and there are millions of people all across the country and the world who can can say the same.

Though I’ve never exactly hidden it, I’d say I’ve been openly quiet about the matter of my lack of belief, though it’s no doubt been blindly obvious to anybody who’s ever followed along with what I discuss. Yes, I am an atheist, but as I pointed out on Facebook, it’s only a small part of what makes me, well, me! I do other things, I talk about other things, and overall I’d say the issue of belief or disbelief is a rather minuscule part of the profile of my life.

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I wasn’t raised in a particularly religious household.  My father is more or less a deist and takes issue with the theological positions of the more religiously devout.  My mother, like myself, was baptized as a Congregationalist Protestant, and holds slightly stronger religious views than my father.  Yet, except for a short period during some tough times many years ago, I have never known her to attend church.  She’ll give a prayer ever now and then, but no more than that.

I wasn’t raised with any religious guidance and that’s how I live my life today.  Day-to-day, I’m an atheist.  I don’t live my life in a religious way and see no reason to do so.  However, philosophically, I’m an agnostic.  I believe that the question of a deity’s existence or non-existence cannot, and may never be proven.  It’s this mix of atheism and agnosticism that allows me to believe that both religious and atheist alike should (civilly) debate the issue, based on well thought-out argument.  It’s also this mix that makes me believe that both parties should just accept the other’s way of life.  Debate on it, sure, but don’t harp on and ridicule people for their belief.  This, I believe, is the wrong way to approach things.

I’ve participated in many religion-based debates between atheists and theists.  I feel I have at least a basic understanding of the Old Testament and the New Testament, and some of the core principles of Christianity.  Yet, my religious education is lacking.  This is my own fault; I’ve never read the Bible (though I have a book of stories from it).  Well, at least, not cover to cover.  This is odd for me since my fascination with religion knows no bounds.

So, I’m remedying this situation.  From Amazon today came a copy of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, complete with the Apocrypha (the Deuterocanical Books, including the Books of Maccabee).  I know that even a reading of the Bible won’t make me understand all of, say, Catholic or Methodist teachings, but it’s a start.  After the Bible, I’ll continue on with the Book of Mormon (a copy is already in my possession).  After that will come other scriptural texts.

And no, I don’t intend on seeing my own personal beliefs change.  This is academic for me.  I wish to understand more about religion, so I’m going straight to the source.  My goal is to become as knowledgeable as possible; at least enough to be able to hold up my end in a truly theological debate.  Most of what I’ve debated so far has skirted around the edges of hardcore theology.  Obviously, such an endeavor to understand religion is the work of a life time.

I have no problem with that.

Which leads me to this blog.  It’s been gathering a lot of dust since I joined Poligazette.  I had hoped to transform it into discussion of my profession, video, where I’d discuss the latest in the field and give some useful tips on video filming and editing.  I still hope to have some of this material here, but it’s been slow to come, seeing as how my first post related to editing was made only late last month.  I’d also hoped to showcase other works, such as writings and video material.  However, I haven’t done much creative writing as of late (and that which I’ve done I can’t show as it’s for work).  I haven’t gotten a copy of Adobe CS4 yet, so video material won’t be here for a while.  Eventually, though, I hope to find time to do all this.  Whatever I can squeeze in between work and writing about politics, I guess.

Yet, this new project of mine provides a perfect opportunity for re-invigoration of this blog.  As I go through my religious studies, I can make some commentary on the text I am currently reading.  I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to do it.  Perhaps once a week, but I’m not going to set a solid goal.  I’ll just let them come naturally.

So, on to the studies!

This one is interesting if only because it’s happening in my backyard.  Via The Secular Right, a state legislator (technically, a whole committee, via a Connecticut General Assembly procedure) has introduced a bill that would effectively strip administrative control of Connecticut’s Roman Catholic parishes away from their bishops and transfer it to a board of lay-parishioners.  The boards would have control over all administrative, financial, and legal matters of their parishes.  All religious matters would remain the purview of the bishop.

Who introduced it exactly, and for what reason, were a little fuzzy at first, but further investigation by the Greenwich Time reveals that it was apparently requested by members of a Darien chruch after their former priest stole $1.4 million to spend on lavish luxaries for himself, such as limousines, vacations, fancy clothing and jewlery, and a condo.  The bill is said to be introduced by State Senator Andrew McDonald, a Democrat.

There’s no question in my mind that the bill is unconstitutional, and if the General Assembly is smart, it won’t even make the floor.  It’d completely undermine state/church separation.  A vendetta by one church’s members over a bad apple of a priest shouldn’t change things for everyone else.

That seems to be the argument David Hume is making over at The Secular Right:

The fact is that religious traditions are a part of human culture, and they interact with ostensibly non-religious parts of human culture.  To extirpate all that is religious from one’s life is to extirpate human culture.

The post is about the “War Against Christmas” hoopla that comes up every December.  Hume argues that religious traditions and celebrations have been going on for centuries, even before Christianity.  And of course, he’s right.  The Christmas tree?  Santa?  Both (or at least elements of both) are said to descend from pagan traditions.  The same case can be made for many elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  For example, flood stories similar to Noah’s flood has been mentioned in texts since the Sumerian culture existed.

My only quibble with his argument is that Hume uses “culture” where he should probably use either “history” or “nature.”  The first becaue it is undeniable that human history is inexplicably linked with the history of religion.  The second because humans do have a tendency to go for the “it’s bigger than you and me” reasoning for something they can’t explain.  And because if one study is true, a predisposition to religion may quite literally be in our genes.

I’ve seen a couple stories flying around the blogosphere regarding one of the pastors at Gov. Sarah Palin’s current church, the Wasilla Bible Church.  Up until six years ago, Palin was part of the Wasilla Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church.

The stories that have gone around largely involve Larry Kroon, the Senior Pastor at WBC.  The two passages I’ve noticed today were brought up by Max Blumenthal, who’s a left wing journalist and blogger.  I know right that’ll be enough for many people to disregard this entry, but hear me out.

Of the two passages, I think at least one is of no concern.

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