Sunday, January 24, 2016

A little perspective.

My mother spent the night at my house the other night, because she did not want to drive back to Palmer in the dark.

While here she brought up the topic of religion and we had a long talk about my atheism and her very basic brand of faith.

I played for her Professor Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Most Astounding Fact, and explained how understanding that the entire universe, and everything in it, shared the same DNA if you will was both humbling and exhilarating, and how I saw the fables of religion as interfering with our understanding and acceptance of that simply truth.

She seemed to understand but also said that her faith gave her comfort, and she was worried that I would strip her of it just to make an intellectual point.

I said that I had no intention of doing that, and that at her age there was no reason for her to abandon her faith, so long as she was on guard against those who would use it to manipulate her or take advantage of her.

In the end it seemed that she understood me a little bit better, and that I certainly have no intention of doing anything that takes something away which gives her comfort and a sense of peace.

As I come to the end of this post it suddenly dawns on me that what I have written has virtually nothing in common with what is printed on that image up above.

Oh well it's my blog, and if think a story about a conversation with my mother about religion, and a Carl Sagan quote about the insignificance of human conflict are connected in some way, well so be it.


  1. Anonymous2:35 AM

    To me, the two are connected because most warmongers frame their goal (of you fighting their battle to your death) in religious terms.

    I have lately been unable to stop thinking about our war expenses -- in blood and money. And what if we had spent all that on our own soil.

  2. Caroll Thompson2:38 AM

    One measure of a man is how he treats his mother. You are a good son G and your mom obviously did a wonderful job raising you.

    Did you feel that earthquake I just read about in Alaska? The news said that it shook houses in Anchorage. Hope all is well at your house.

  3. Connie3:17 AM

    I also honor the faith of my mother, even as I eschew all religion. Faith to me is the acknowledgement of The Most Astounding Fact while religion and dogma is about control and power.

    It's always about the money - so says every crime show I've ever watched. When viewing mega-churches or Dominionists and theocrats braying about how us 'other folk' are driving the country to ruin I look at the motivation, not the actual words. It's all about money, who has it, and who controls it. Hatred of the other is a good fundraiser. Thousands of years of history verify this fact.

    I really hoped the Age of Aquarius would open the eyes of people but instead hippies fled enlightenment in droves to become hedge fund managers and lobbyists to 'stick it to the man'. Instead of doing good they became the thing they protested the most.

    Amazing post. And Carl goes with everything, all the time. He is greatly missed. :)

    1. Anonymous5:08 AM

      Great post, Connie. I am agnostic, was raised United Methodist. I don't begrudge others their faith, I just am not interested in their testimony. Sometimes though, when I watch the new little Husky puppy sleep that I recently adopted though, I do wonder if she wasn't a "gift" from someone. Life is weird!

    2. A. J. Billings5:21 AM

      I like your post, but I disagree that hippies fled "enlightenment" to be come fund managers and lobbyists.

      Taking a wild and unsubstantiated guess, I'd bet that no more than .05 percent of anyone who came of age in the 60's or early 70's is in either of those two professions.

      Most of us did what tens of millions of other people do.

      We got married. We had kids. Even if we remained single, we discovered in our 20's and 30's that the world isn't going to hand you food, clothing, shelter, cars, housing, education or a life.

      We went to school, got a trade or a profession, and went on to live as adults who had to conform to life as a 40 hour a week working stiff.

      The idealism of those days still lives in many of us, as is evidenced by the things we marched, protested, and fought for:

      Women's rights
      CIvil rights
      Ending the Vietnam war
      Demanding accountability from government
      Better schools and education
      Organic /natural foods
      Communal living gave birth to many other movements.

      Some of us chose professions that help others, and truly contribute to the good of all, like teaching, medicine, or working for non profits that contribute to the common wealth or education of all.

      Now we boomers have mostly achieved senior citizen status, and as such have in many cases more time, money, influence and power to affect society than younger folks.

      We still want peace, love, and freedom for the people and the planet, and are in a position now to do as much, or even more than we used to.

      The age of Aquarius was nothing more than a dream, because most humans are still stuck in the thrall of religion, or tribal and national allegiances, and many of our fellow beings are uneducated and ignorant.

      Some day humans may evolve to where we put away our weapons of war, and have a global awakening to how wonderful we could make life for everyone on Earth if we all had a collective revelation of caring for our fellow man. Imagine what the developed countries could do, working together, with 5 Trillion a year on helping those who need it with food, education, health care, and housing.

      That day is far in the future I fear, but a whole generation had dreams of it happening.

    3. Anonymous7:57 AM

      3:17 EVERYTHING is ALL about SEX, BULLYING and MONEY$$$ in that order. Religion has no accountability..

  4. Actually Gryphen, there is a correlation between your mother finding a simple peace and the Sagan quote about others being the sword of death for many for little specks of dirt on the planet.

    Though I am an atheist, I have never sought to relieve others of their religion, only to explain to them my lack of a religion. I also wanted them to respect what I did not believe.

    Behind most of the slaughter in this world, we almost always find religion. If people actually stopped using their religious texts and twisted understanding of them as swords and just had your mother's "basic faith" that simply comforts them and makes them kind to other humans on our planet. . . .I'd not be so heartbroken for us all.

    But sadly, for many in the world, religion has been perverted to such a degree, it has become a stepping stone for hubris, misunderstanding and death and destruction.

    1. A. J. Billings5:22 AM

      Nicely said Angela

    2. Anonymous6:45 AM

      Hear hear!

    3. Anonymous11:04 AM

      So true! Religion is more often a divider than a uniting force in people’s lives. It makes me less interested when I see the animosity between different religions; in fact, it just makes me sick. I once worked with an evangelical who referred to other religions as heathens and pagans. So much hubris can’t be healthy.

  5. Let us know ASAP if you are OK.

  6. Anonymous3:53 AM

    I can't go back to sleep after the earthquake, so pulled up your blog.

    Nice that you had that conversation with your Mom. Sounds as though it was good for both of you!

    Wish mine were still on this earth so that I could talk to her - as a senior (70's) now - I have so many questions and thoughts I'd love sharing with her.

    Enjoy your Mom, Gryphen!

  7. Anonymous4:34 AM

    It sounds as though both of you achieved a greater understanding of the other and really, that's all that matters.

    1. Anonymous10:17 AM

      Cherish your time with your mom. Time passes quickly.

  8. A Superfan In Atlanta4:40 AM

    There is a relation between your post and Sagan's quote. It all boils down to a willingness to understand people's interpretation of a basic fact and how they choose to communicate and apply that interpretation to themselves and others. Religion is an interpretation of scientific facts.

    1. A. J. Billings5:29 AM

      Religion is by definition based solely on faith or tradition, and belief in unseen and unproven beings or entities, or powers.

      Scientific facts have nothing to do with whether you believe in gods, religions, mythology, or traditions of your family, tribe or nationality.

      I don't see any correlation whatever.

      A believer in Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Ba'Hai, Judaism, or any other religions bases their belief in supernatural beings and events or philosophical tenets.

    2. Anonymous6:36 AM

      I see nationhood in a similar way that you see religion. And statehood makes even less sense. Why should my native New England, for example, be split into 6 fiefdoms, each trying to outbid the other for resources? Why are their countries in Europe smaller than most US states? Are we really that different?

    3. Anonymous6:38 AM

      AJ you are correct. Each domain is trying to answer a totally different question. Science can never answer the "whys" that religions attempts to answer. And religion can never answer the "hows".

    4. Anonymous6:47 AM

      I have never understood why religion and science cannot peacefully coexist.

    5. Anonymous7:31 AM

      There. Typing with an ice bag on my elbow. (6:36)

    6. Maple7:42 AM

      @6:47: Science and one's personal, private faith CAN peacefully co-exist. But science and organized religion? Maybe not so much, especially the organized religion which declares that God wrote the bible, and whose main aim is to strike fear of God into the hearts of its followers. Science doesn't try to control you; organized religion does.

  9. Anonymous4:41 AM

    It sounds like a good conversation, one that brought each of you a deeper understanding, and perhaps, a bit more acceptance/respect of the other's point of view. And you can never really go amiss by quoting Carl Sagan.

  10. 66gardeners4:56 AM

    $arah Palin saves feminism
    by Maureen Dowd (shortened somewhat here)

    It’s so inspiring to see a woman out on the campaign trail who has had such a historic impact on feminism, helping to recast outmoded assumptions about women. Yes, Sarah Palin, I’m giving you a shout-out.

    Before Palin, if a woman flamed out in a spectacular fashion, it was considered an X through the X chromosome; but when Palin turned out to be utterly unqualified and unintelligible, spouting her own special Yoda-like language, it did not reflect poorly on women as a whole — only on her and John McCain. What the hell were you thinking, Senator?

    Ordinarily, it’s considered sexist to call a woman shrill. But Palin liberated us on that score. Ordinarily, it’s dicey to focus on what a woman in politics is wearing. Again, Palin has freed us up. She sported a cardigan so gaudy and rogue in Iowa, we would be remiss not to mention that it was the sartorial reflection of Palin and Trump themselves.

    Ordinarily, you have to tread gingerly in critiquing a working woman on her mothering skills. But Palin’s brawling brood runs so wild around the state she once governed, in a way that is so contrary to her evangelistic, sanctimonious homilies on family values, it seems only Christian to advise her to study the Obamas to see what exceptional parenting looks like.

    With Palin and Tramp, gall is divided into two parts. There has been a lot of talk this campaign season about how women pols bring superior qualities to the table: collegiality and listening skills. But Sarahcuda shows that we are truly the equals of men, capable of narcissistic explosions, brazen hypocrisy and unapologetic greed. She had barely finished the endorsement when she began using it to raise money for SarahPAC, so she can take her show on the road.

    Track, was a kid with a temper before he served in Iraq for a year, conveniently shipping off in the fall of 2008 as his mother began her hockey-mom spiel. Arrested on an assault charge, Track is accused of punching his girlfriend in the face and kicking her during an alcohol-fueled argument, waving around an AR-15 assault rifle. Instead of just admitting that her family is a mess, Palin exhibited Trump-like swagger, conjuring a story in an attempt to gin up the crowd and occlude her son’s behavior.

    She used the last refuge of scoundrels in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, wrapping herself in patriotism. In her convoluted, disingenuous way, she charged President Obama with a lack of “respect” for veterans and suggested that Track had post-traumatic stress disorder and became “hardened,” implying this is what led to the incident prompting his arrest. This from the archconservative who presents herself as a model of personal responsibility and scourge of victimhood? Outraged vets urged Palin not to reduce PTSD to a political “chew toy,” or to excuse domestic violence by citing the disorder.

    The rattlebrained Palin has reversed her Iraq position, so that now her stance somehow matches Trump’s consistent and prescient one against the Iraq invasion. When Track went to Iraq in 2008, she echoed W.’s specious argument, calling the war a “righteous cause” to avenge “the enemies who planned and carried out” 9/11. In her endorsement of Trump, she praised Rand Paul, who thinks we should have left Saddam Hussein in place, and argued that America should stop “footin’ the bill” for oil-rich nations and “their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries, where they’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ ‘Allah akbar,’ calling jihad on each other’s heads for ever and ever.”

    Palin has done us a favor by proving that a woman can stumble, babble incoherently on stage and spew snide garbage, and it isn’t a blot on the female copybook.
    It’s all on her.

    Can I get a hallelujah?

    1. Anonymous5:11 AM


    2. 66gardeners6:29 AM

      full disclosure, the obligatory diss of Hillary Clinton was in this piece, however, lame and almost nonexistent

    3. Anonymous6:32 AM

      Here's to hoping Sarahcuda is reading this.

  11. A couple times a year, Maureen hits one out of the ballpark. (You know its good if I'm doing baseball analogies).

    1. 66gardeners6:34 AM

      Hey Angela. Hope we can be friends

  12. Anonymous6:43 AM

    @gryphen.....i want to share with you a simular conversation i had with my mother also. To begin with, the pale blue dot that jesus sagan wrote is by far the best thing i have ever read in regards to us, the humans. I miss mother was dying from cancer when she told me she wished that i believed in god. It was said from a posision of love and kindness. I told her that it brought me comfort to know that she did believe in god even if i didnt. It was one of those moments. I thanked my mom in how us 6 kids were raised, mom and dad brought us up to make our own decisions, informed decisions. That was the greatest gift i have ever received. I know these things are quite personal and powerful. In reading your post gryphen, it took me back to that conversation with my mother and just wanted to say thank you.....i sure miss her.

    1. Anita Winecooler4:17 PM

      I had and am going through the same again. I was caretaking my father as he fought stage four cancer, I miss those conversations while both of us looked at the windshield or we held hands while he told me his wishes.
      My mom's battling another disease now, and we have the same conversations. They tried to force us to have our kids get the sacraments at a Catholic Church, and that sparked a lot of heated conversations and hurt feelings, but communication and unconditional love are all that matters. Somehow things worked out for the better for all of us.
      I just hope our kids follow our example when our time comes, and yes, I miss him and will miss her when her time comes.

  13. Anonymous6:53 AM

    I just finished watching WWII in Colour on Netflix. I learned about WWII, which occurred before my parents were born, in high school and college, but it was shocking to actually see the magnitude of wasted resources, destruction of cities, and most importantly the unbelievable number of lives lost. I hope more younger folks watch it because it certainly makes a person want to do everything she can to make sure it doesn't ever happen again. (This relates more to the photo than the blog post).

  14. Anonymous7:06 AM

    Gryphen, I thought that you had been raised as an atheist. When did you become one? Was your father atheist also?

  15. Anonymous7:58 AM

    It isn't our job to change a persons beliefs. That is personal. If it gets them by, that is what matters. Christians don't want to be grouped with the westboro jackasses just like liberals don't wanna be grouped with that Obama phone woman. People are individuals. Nothing we do is anyone else's fault or under another persons control. We can't blame our best friend, our sister, our uncle, our parents, a teacher or God. It is us living and fighting our way through muck and grime of life. If some people choose to believe in a godly force, more power to them.

    You can't live positively with a negative spirit. You won't be happy if you tear down others and judge no matter who they are.

    Those are my thoughts on this day, 8 days before my 40th birthday.

  16. Anonymous8:54 AM

    The older i get, the more I find myself envying friends who have that "faith". Obviously, they are friends who never force their religion on me, in fact many are Buddhist. But they feel/need that same comfort as your mom, Gryphen. Maybe the closer they get to the end, the more frantic they become to believe.

    I do envy their idea of life beyond death. I think it would be wonderful to morph into something beautiful, into a world that is beautiful and peaceful and all-knowing.

    Sigh, I am stuck with science as my religion. Hopefully there will be a great scientific discovery of some other dimension where... oh never mind, I guess I'll just have to wait :)


  17. Anonymous10:54 AM

    It's the same with my mom. I know she was raised to think she will see her loved ones again and, in that sense, that she will never lose them.

    So, I'm careful not to destroy the comfort that gives her.

    On the other hand, she's in her 70s and I can't help but wonder how comforting it can possibly be to fear that she may soon be in hell if the Skyman gets pissy at her before she goes.

    Religion - an odd mixture of comfort and fear. Much like Stockholmes Syndrome.

  18. Anita Winecooler4:25 PM

    It's those conversations that lead to understanding and teachable moments. I know my parents were deeply hurt when we gave up religion, our kids were damned to hell, and the whole shebang, but with unconditional love, communication, and the realization no one was asking anyone to change won out. My Dad was battling cancer and we had many conversations through the windshield and when we took him home for home hospice care. I miss our chats and teachable moments, and now we're going through the same with my mom.

  19. But it does, Gryph.

    How many of those Emperors and Generals used faith for their own selfish ends? How many stirred the troops with God is on our side and we are the chosen ones, regardless of the gods they worshipped? Most of the blood shed in wars ultimately can be traced back to religion in some way or form. Even if on the surface it appears to have a political cause, dig a little deeper and you'll find a my God is better than your God foundation. After all, don't most rulers claim to be anointed by their respective gods and so that their word is not to be challenged?

  20. Anonymous3:21 AM

    "....her faith gave her comfort,.." It is for that reason that I don't try to engage believers in discussion about their faith. Whatever gets you through the night. And it's quite common for even skeptics to find themselves wandering into religion as they get closer to the hole; I've seen it dozens of times. Your mom sounds like a nice lady.


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