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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Something That Just Happened...

I stopped to give money to this homeless couple that I see nearly every day downtown. (I'm seeing more couples, families, more women, more men who are obviously not your traditional hobos.) This time, unlike other times, they said "God bless" to me.

It caught me off guard. I just smiled and bade them goodbye. Despite my online persona I'm not a rabble-rouser in person who feels a need to "correct" people, but the truth is, I also don't have as quick a reaction time as other people and usually do nothing in the situation. I let it go, and what's the big deal, anyway--for pity's sake, out of habit I still say "bless you" to people who sneeze--but I do sometimes wonder if people truly believe what they say, or if they feel that they have to say things like that to people who are helping them out? I don't know what this couple has to thank God for.

I wish I was braver in real life, but I do remember things like a relative telling me that I was going to hell and a woman flinging herself across the room to get away from me, when I was honest with people. (Other people "don't believe" that I'm an atheist, and they "know" that I'm coming back to the church any second now.)

Maybe next time I'll grin and tell them that I'm an atheist, and that I wish I had a dollar to give them for every "concerned" troll or whoever who told me that I was going to hell. Because that's the truth.


Blogger Dan said...

Go to Hell, Kristine.

You'll like it.

October 10, 2006 1:45 AM  
Blogger PiGuy said...

Wow - I hate that feeling. I also wish that I had a snappy comeback that wouldn't evoke rage on the part of the blesser but, if they'll say it to a near-stranger, they aren't prepared to have that discussion.

I have to say, I always find it more than a little wierd that (and I'm generalizing here) so many homeless people that I see have a sign that says "God Bless" as they stand on a corner. They seem to be among the least blessed to me and yet they still hold god in high-esteem. But what do I know? I think that water is wet...

My mother, sister, and, to a lesser extent, my brother are all Born-Again. It is difficult to be honest and open at holidays and we're just better off avoiding such talk (which is difficult since they are Christian holidays). Instead of the saying grace in such a way that we invoke any divine providence, at the Casa Pi we take turns at the start of meals by sharing something for which we're thankful that day. Sometimes it's deep and sometimes it's on the order of "I'm thankful that we're having tacos!". We hold hands around the table and say grace that way when we have company as well so that we can check grace off of the itinerary but don't have to feign being religious. One Easter, my sister said, "I'm thankful that Christ died for our sins." I doubt that she was purposely trying to jam it down our throats - she probably was truly thankful for that alleged event - but Mandy actually asked about it later. She had never realized that Easter had anything to do with Christianity. She didn't caem though. She still gets an Easter Basket.

As for sneezes, I try to say gesundheit when someone else does it but secretly wish that I was brave enough to say something like "May the Force Be With You!". Why do we feel such a great need to say anything when someone sneezes?

October 10, 2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Dan, I forget about that hell! Yes, I would like it. Especially the ice cream.

But do they play elevator music over the loudspeakers downtown? I'm not sure that I could take that.

October 10, 2006 9:58 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

But do they play elevator music over the loudspeakers downtown? I'm not sure that I could take that.

It seems like the kind of place that would do that. Never been there, myself.

October 10, 2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Why do we feel such a great need to say anything when someone sneezes?

Didn’t that start in the Middle Ages, when nearly everything could kill you?

I like the way you guys say grace. At my house, we just don’t do it—at other people’s houses, I just stay silent.

October 10, 2006 2:30 PM  
Blogger The Science Pundit said...

I'm also much more soft-spoken in person than I am online. I usually let that kind of stuff go. Lately, though, I've been more open about my (lack of) beliefs. I've found the reactions to be overwhelmingly positive, but I still occasionally get ugly reactions (just last Saturday) and hatefull stares. It's as if (well, it is) they're taking it out personally on me that they disagree with my belief system.

It reminds me of why I usually like to just keep quiet. But I can always rationalize it by telling myself that it's better to know that about someone right from the start.


PS--This Friday I'm going to meet Shermer, then on the 2nd I'll see Dawkins. Woo-hoo!

October 10, 2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Javier, I am so jealous. Dang.

I don't remember if I told you, I did e-mail Dawkins and included your question, but he hasn't answered...probably swamped with work.

If you ask him, let us know! I will meet him next May.

October 10, 2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Hey, Dan, BTW, this is my favorite restaurant.

October 10, 2006 11:27 PM  
Blogger bigdumbchimp said...

I have, as the recent years have gone by and my atheism more substantiated, stop saying bless you. I notice when someone sneezes and I don't say it they sometimes look at me funny, like I'm some sort of asshole (of course I might now be able to tell because I get those looks a lot).

I caught myself yesterday saying something in a meeting wishing I had bitten my tongue. We're having a meeting tomorrow (Friday the 13th, wooooooscary) and someone made a comment about whether or not it was a good ideea to be discussing the important topic on that day. I, being the sometimes too quick in shooting my mouth off person I am, said "Why shoudn't we do it tomorrow. Have you ever had anything bad happen to you on Fri the 13th? It's just a silly superstition"

As soon as I said it I knew I was an idiot.

Silence on the other end of the conference call....

"Uh please continue"

Damn it.

October 12, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I don't think you're an idiot!

Holy crap! I don't know anybody who takes Friday the 13th seriously. But some of them, being hyper-religious, think that believing in it is evil. *Sigh.* Love to see one superstition trump another.

October 12, 2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger PiGuy said...

I've gotten those looks, too, and that's why I go with gesunheit. But you're right - why do we feel like we need to say anything. We don't say anything when somebody coughs.

I suspect that there's astrong correlation b/w religious people and those who buy into superstitions like ladders, mirrors, left-handedness, and triskaidekaphobia (actually I'm rather fond of prime numbers) as well as other occult things like horoscopes and palm reading (my apologies to Mike Behe - NOT). I mean, if you can suspend your disbelief for some things you're probably capable of suspending it for anything.

I wish people had to wear a tag that says "I'm a Fundie", "I'm a Gemini and I Vote", or "Proud to have gotten my license at Wal-Mart" just so that the rest of us could be prepared.

October 12, 2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

"Proud to have gotten my license at Wal-Mart"

*Snigger!* Or how about:

"Proud parent of a creationist fair honor student"

Actually, on second thought that's pretty horrifying.

October 12, 2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

"god bless you" is so prevasive it is difficult to stop and re-frame the situation, but I am keen on doing so whenever possible. The homeless and others use it constantly to disarm people and persuade then to open their change purses. It's a form of manipulation - it works! Sometimes it is used as an insult - usually when you reveal to someone you are atheist. What better way to show the fallicy of Xtian morality than to give aid, and reveal your non-belief in response to this. They may quickly switch to the insult - as in "well, god bless you anyway". This would be the time to take your money back.

October 13, 2006 10:34 AM  
Blogger bigdumbchimp said...

So in the continued friday the 13th bs. (mind you I live in South Carolina). I've had 3 people today tell me something along the lines of

"Be careful today"

October 13, 2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, Rev. Barking Nonsequitor, I don’t want to go around metaphorically slapping people’s wrists all the time, but yes, I do resent the automatic assumption that everyone believes in God, and what are people saying when they say “God bless you”? Are they telling their God what to do? I never got that whole thing—“God bless America,” etc. What if their God didn’t want to bless America, etc., even if he did exist? ;-)

Rev. BigDumbChimp, I wonder what would happen if you asked, “Why?”

Superstitious one: “Because it’s Friday the 13th.”

You: “So?”

Superstitious one: “So it’s an unlucky day.”

You: “Why?”

Superstitious one: Sound of gears grinding.

October 13, 2006 3:22 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Hey, one of the teachers coming to our workshop at the museum just e-mailed me and said, "Happy Friday the 13th!" Go, art teachers!

October 13, 2006 5:28 PM  
Blogger PiGuy said...

Let me be the first to wish you all a Happy Saturday the 14th Eve!

October 13, 2006 7:02 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

And a merry 17 days to go until Halloween! (I love Halloween. You guys like Halloween, right? Last year I went as Katherine Kersten's illegitimate abandoned daughter.)

October 13, 2006 8:25 PM  
Blogger kalanchoe542 said...

I always just say "Gesundheit", which is just the German word for "health" or salubriousness. Nobody even bats an eye, and I get away from the whole "bless you" thing.

As for someone else saying "God bless you" to me, well, I just say thanks. After all, in their world, it's a nice thing to say. Who cares what the words are, as long as it translates to something nice. Better than "Fuck you, asshole". I don't feel inclined to prosletyze, the way certain folk are (no names).

Just MHO

October 15, 2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

After all, in their world, it's a nice thing to say. Who cares what the words are, as long as it translates to something nice.

Definitely, I don't want to be mean about it. I just feel weird not being honest. (It would help if God were more "nice." I just attended a talk at MN Atheists about the causes of religious violence.)

October 15, 2006 6:56 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

"God bless you" can be quite deceiving. It soulds like a nice thing to say, but often it is used to disarm an opponent - pretty hard to stay polarized when someone uses it on you. Like today, at the MN Atheist talk, we were informed that it can mean "I will be kind to you now, but God will strike you down the future". No thanks to that kind of platitude!

October 15, 2006 7:19 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, I'll just out with it next time. They seem pretty cool, otherwise.

Actually, I haven't seen that couple since.

I hope that the bears didn't get them! You wouldn't know anything about that, Rev. Barking Nonsequitor, would you? You meanie! ;-)

October 16, 2006 11:43 AM  

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