Skepticism and Seeking …

Skepticism and Seeking …

I’m finding myself getting less hard-core skeptical than I used to be. On Monday, I’m helping a friend practice her tarot reading skills by getting her to do a reading for me (she asked for volunteers on Facebook.) Am I worried because it’s woo and has no basis in scientific fact? I used to be afraid of anything ‘woo’ but now I am honestly convinced it is fine as long as you remember that it is not scientific fact. The problems happen when people think woo can replace science, or that it is science. That’s when you have people dying of things like treatable cancers because they were bamboozled into some bullshit ‘natural’ remedy.

But things that are recognized correctly as metaphor and symbolism and ritual? I am up for that. I think.

After I realized that the church of my parents was unacceptable to me, I went searching for other churches. I visited a few Catholic services, Baptist, and a church of unnamed denomination near my home where they spoke in tongues. I slipped out during the opening prayer because I was freaked out, and never went back. I went to a Buddhist meditation circle on Sunday mornings for a while, though by that point I identified solely as an atheist. I enjoyed that and learned a lot and gained new perspectives, but after a while that was not for me either. I had doubts about it after I went to a New Year’s meditation retreat that I found though that group. While I enjoyed the still and quiet and reflection, I did not enjoy trying to sit still in a cross-legged position for an hour or so at a time. One of the organizers read a teaching that was something about a man who was tempted by a prostitute. It ended up saying that he should visualize her body as it would end up eventually — as a rotting corpse — and that seriously bothered me. It was a morbid denial of pleasure — a denial of everything physical or temporary really. And that seems very odd because the style of Buddhism I was used to emphasizes living in the present. I even read books on how one could practice secular Buddhism, but after a relatively brief period of being sure I had found THE WAY I decided it was not for me.

I’ve written previously in my blog about my experiences with yoga as well.

I also tried out the Unitarian church in downtown Louisville for a couple of years. At the time I went there, I was mostly looking for a community where I could own my atheism without being judged or preached at. There were one or two people who, when I told them I was an atheist, felt the need to explain to me what they believed and why. I hung out with the pagan group that meets at the church for a while, but after a while the talk about things like astrology clashed too strongly with my scientific skeptical mind. There was just too much of superstition and claims that clashed with scientific fact for me to stomach.

As my post opener implies, I am rethinking some of my previous attitudes. Can there be a place for things like astrology and tarot as long as one recognizes the difference between scientific fact and symbolism and imagery? I’m putting the “seeker” hat back on for a time to see what I can find out. I’ll be looking back into the Unitarian Universalist church to see if it may be a better fit for this point in my life.

It helps that they have childcare too.

Read More

We are moving!

The ball is already rolling for The Skeptical Seeker to move to Hostmonster! I am moving to my own hosting account in order to have more control of my website design. The skepticalseeker.com domain is currently in the process of being transfered to the new registrar. The site may be down briefly when the transfer is complete, and then I will be back in my new home.

Read More

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol has been my favorite Christmas movie for as long as I remember. However for the last several years I have been discovering other movies — A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, The Year Without a Santa Claus — and other classics that I never saw when I was a kid. I finally got around to purchasing the George Scott version of A Christmas Carol, and when I watched it this year I saw it much through different eyes than I did as a child.

My earliest memory of the film (I don’t remember if it was the George Scott version or the earlier black and white one) was from watching it at school. I don’t remember what grade. But what I do remember is making paper chains like the ones kids usually make to count down the days until Christmas. But instead of a Christmas calendar we were making a Marley chain — reflecting on our actions and what bad deeds might be included in our chain to drag around the world like old Marley after we die. After all the story is a morality tale and the lesson should be to reflect on our behavior and make sure we are behaving properly and not adding to our chain of guilt. We should be sorry and repent and change our ways — just like we were taught in church.

christmas-carol-1984-marley

Maybe what it took for me was a bit of aging and life experience, but now I look back on that lesson and think what a terrible thing it was to have children focus on. It is part of the story. Perhaps the old lesson about behaving so you don’t get punished is on the level for school children. But there are other lessons here that are so much more positive.

As we learn the story of Ebenezer Scrooge from seeing his past, we learn he had a very difficult life when it came to relationships. His father hated him because his mother had died giving him birth. He loved his sister Fanny but hardly got to see her because his father had banished him to boarding school throughout his childhood. Then Fanny died at a young age. His first love left him because he was so intent on being ‘good enough’ for her in a financial way that he neglected their relationship.

The problem with Ebenezer Scrooge was not that he was a wicked greedy old miser. The problem was that he was lonely. He had gotten so used to being lonely that he continued to neglect the people in his life and instead chased the only value he knew — money.

a-christmas-carol-1984-george-scott-560

I noticed it was not the fear of lugging a horrid chain post-mortem that lead him to repent. It was remembering what it was like to be joyful, to be in love, and to have a mentor who cared about his apprentices and celebrated with them. It was seeing the family of his employee Bob Cratchit and empathising with him and his family and his ill son. If fear ever was a factor, it was the fear of the future possibility of dying alone and unloved and despised — which unlike hell or heavy ghostly chains after death is a real possible consequence of a miserly life.

This is a story of the vital importance of love, and joy, and relationships — not about fear and guilt. Money is important — we need it to survive as the poorer characters in the story know well — but it is not the only thing that matters. Not even close. Relationships are the key to a happy and well-lived life.

Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.
-Robert Green Ingersoll

Source: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertgree122475.html

 

 

Read More

Sunday Blasphemy: Happy Solstice!

Sunday Blasphemy: Happy Solstice!

This Wednesday is the Winter Solstice, the real reason for the season! It also begins the 12 day celebration of Juul (aka Yule), the pre-Christian Scandinavian celebration of the return of the sun and of the god Thor. Lots of our Christmas traditions — including the use of holly and evergreens and the Yule log — come from pre-Christian northern Europe.

So, this Solstice gather close, put a Yule log on the fire, and have hope that warmer and brighter days will return!

yulelog

Source: https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/december-solstice-customs.html

Read More

Sunday Blasphemy: Self Worth

Sunday Blasphemy: Self Worth

I am not a sinner*. I do not need a savior. I am worthy!

enough

*Sin is disobedience against God. Without a god, ‘sin’ is a meaningless concept and so is ‘sinner’. It is not to be confused with actual wrongdoing, which may call for an apology to and reconciliation with another person. It is a religious term though and through, and totally without value.

 

Read More

Sunday Blasphemy: Christianity is foolishness

Sunday Blasphemy: Christianity is foolishness

For this week’s Sunday blasphemy, I only need to point out what the Bible says about the message of Christianity.

Christianity is foolish and unreasonable, even according to “St.” Paul himself. This is what religion does to reason. Yes, lip service is given to reason until it veers away from the dogma, then it suddenly is not good enough and faith must step in. How very convenient for them not to have to actually make sense of the things they are claiming?

1 Corinthians 1
1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” -Martin Luther

Read More