Hey, y'all! So this nice local weekly paper does a yearly round-up of the "Best of Utah," and one of the categories is best local podcast! And we thought "Hey! We have a local podcast!" And then we thought "Hey! People have to vote for us if we're going to win…"

So… We're asking you to vote for us.  But you don't have to do it alone- we're going to help!

Listen to this VERY SPECIAL mini episode– we'll take you on a delightful journey through the wacky state of Utah, and you get to help some local guys get some attention! Win/win, baby!

Once you have the episode going:


It's as easy as that! Be sure to vote for at least 10 categories in order for your vote to count! 

Voting ends Feb 29, so don't delay!


Grieving Without God

Howdy y'all! I thought I'd interrupt the flow of podcast notes with an actual blog post! How 'bout that!

The impetus for this increasingly rare occurrence ("Captain! We've spotted a wild blog-post!" "Arr… this be a glorious day") is that I recently went out for a beer with a friend. Well, ok… that, in and of itself is not that interesting, I know. But we had a lovely conversation, and it touched on some juicy stuff, and I thought I'd share.

Our little chat meandered through all sorts of topics, and included several interruptions by a very outgoing drunk young man who turned out to have a wealth of "Jesus" jokes

Get it? 
"Cause she heard he was hung like this!"

(What's the difference between Jesus and a hooker? The face they make when you nail 'em! *Rimshot*).

Anyhoo, the conversation eventually rolled around to the fact that my dad just passed away, and his dad is currently in the process of dying of cancer.

We were talking about how difficult and unfair a position it is to be the only atheist in a grieving family situation. Here's the thing: in our society, a believer can feel free to speak about their belief with absolute impunity.  Even if they know that there is someone in the room who doesn't believe as they do, they can spout their nonsense as though it's undisputed fact, with no worry of refutation.

Why? Because it's completely unacceptable to say anything about it. Ironically, turning the tables– that is, an atheist making an unqualified statement of his or her belief in the same situation– is also completely unacceptable. Hell, it's downright offensive. It's hurtful. How dare you.

Por ejemplo:

Situation- A family mourns the impending death of a beloved patriarch.

Mom: I just feel so comforted to know that he'll be safe in Jesus' arms in the next life.

Sister: I honestly believe that if we pray earnestly enough, God will help dad. I don't care what the doctors say, miracles happen every day, you know.

Uncle: We're all so blessed to be going through this with him.

Atheist Son: I have to say- while, as someone who doesn't believe in God, I obviously don't take comfort in any of those thoughts, I do think there's comfort in just being here with each other and expressing our feelings. I guess my take is that dad's a mammal, and mammals get cancer, and medical science hasn't figured out how to stop it yet. We know he's going to die soon, and regardless of what you believe happens after death, none of us will have the pleasure of his company ever again in this life, and that's really hard to deal with. But I think we'll all be a lot better off if we just face that fact bravely, band together as a family, and seek whatever additional help we may need in processing our feelings.

Mom: [begins to cry] Why would you say that? Why do you hate us so?

Uncle: You ought to be ashamed of yourself. How could you treat your mother that way?

Sister: I'm going to pray for you, you monster.


 This was not actually my dad's funeral...
 Can you spot the atheist being nice?

My chat with my buddy ended with him feeling comforted by my reminding him that the death of a loved one entails really just one or two tough days of smiling and nodding and biting his tongue, and then life just sorta goes on. At least that's how it was for me.

But it still kinda sucks, you know?  To be the one who's grieving, and still have to politely put up with people inanely preaching their "comforting" nonsense to you without even checking in to see if it might not, in point of fact, be a belief you share. I actually found much of the admittedly well-intentioned proffered solace kind of disturbing. Even if I believed that my pop was happily in heaven now, that doesn't change the fact that I have to do without him. That's what I'm dealing with right now. That's the reality of mourning- everything else is just distraction. The cosmological questions can wait.

To say nothing of the downright rudeness and judgment that hides behind religion in these situations. How is it ok for someone to come up to me after a funeral and with as much passive-aggression as she can muster, ask me "Now why did you have him cremated?". See, she's Mormon, and Mormons frown on cremation. "Well gosh, lady… I didn't realize that these deeply personal choices were ANY OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!" … I wanted to say… Instead I smiled gently and said something about it being what dad wanted.

That isn't true, by the way. What dad really wanted was for us to take his body and dump it in the wilderness for the wolves and coyotes. Maybe I should've told her that.

A Confession…

Horrible lack of integrity or delicious irony- you be the judge:

I'm in London right now (the one in England), and on Sunday, the group that I'm with plans on heading to the Tower of London.  But we don't want to pay. Solution? Well apparently, there's a church on the property, and if you say you're just going to church, you can then sneak out and check out the Tower fo' free. 

 What is that- four stories high? Maybe five? Some tower…
  • Ticket to get into Tower of London: £16.
  • Using "god's house" as a cover to get in for free: priceless.
  • Going with the now horribly cliche "priceless" ad format: horribly cliche.
  • Not being able to think of two "cost to do x" items before the "priceless" line, even though you KNOW that comedy works in threes: even worse.
  • Fact that I'm still doing bullet points long after the joke has played out: whatever.

Define “Group”…

So here's one of the problems with being an atheist.  We aren't a group.  To be atheist is to simply be without a belief in a god.  It's a negative- not a qualitative negative, but a logical negative. Like saying I am not sick or I don't hate gay folks. You learn one piece of information, but nothing more. Me saying I don't hate gays doesn't mean you know how I do feel about them. All it tells you is one thing that I don't feel. For all you know, I don't hate the gays, but I still want them to feel torturous pain (and therefore campaign for gay marriage rights).  All I'm saying is that you know nothing about me from the statement "I am atheist" except that one bit of info- I don't have a belief in a god. You can't logically make any other assumptions about me.

The same is not true if someone says I am a Christian or I am a Hindu. Those are affirmative statements that carry all kinds of info with them. If someone claims Christianity, for example, that means that we can reasonably assume that they follow the teachings of Jesus, that they believe in the bible, that they aren't great at tempering emotional responses with logical analysis, etc. 

This poses an interesting little conundrum: If the only thing linking atheists is a single non-belief, and not a series of other dogma, then do we belong to a group?  Is it fair to lump all atheists together?  It can't be assumed that we have a shared sense of morality or political leanings, nor could it be assumed that we're atheist for the same (or even similar) reasons.  But yet, as Richard Dawkins recently pointed out, we as non-believers, need to have our voices heard.  So where does this leave us?

Well, some atheist groups have popped up around the world- the Humanists seem to be the dominant non-religious religion which has emerged. And skeptic groups are appearing in bars all over… I just think that, with the number of non-believers growing as quickly as it is, there's going to be a need for something new- and powerful- to arise.  A charismatic leader, perhaps?  A politician to carry the atheist standard? A beloved celebrity who will talk to society about why atheism won't lead to the end of civilization?  Something's got to happen!

Until that time, I started a group y'all can join, if you need to feel like part of something. Y'all are on Facebook, right?

The Name Game

I realized a while back that, due to the lack of spaces in web addresses, someone could stumble on my site looking for "thank god I'm a theist."

Of course, nobody describes themself as a theist, so this wouldn't happen… But it would be funny.


Ok, here's what I've realized: I really only have patience for a single topic for so long before I get terminally bored with it.  I should've known this when I started this little site, here, but I didn't realize how much I had painted myself into a corner when I set out to do a religious-themed website.  So fuck it.  That's not what this is anymore.  This is now my personal website, and it has some religious content on it.  Whenever I feel like it.  The rest will be whatever the hell I feel inspired to post.  I mean, it's my site- I can do as I please, right?

So…  Ha!  I'm so free now!  So liberated!  I can do anything I want… That's… great…!

Let's see… what to write about… it can be anything at all…

You guys heard the one about the Bishop the Rabbi and the Imam who all entered a hula hoop contest…? Aw, never mind.