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Dudes: silent no more!

This tiny kitten actually has nothing to do with the post.

Did Tom Matlack of the Good Men Project – not to be confused with Ben Matlock, fictional defense lawyer beloved by the elderly – swallow one of those mysterious “red pills” I keep hearing about on Men’s Rights blogs? Whatever he swallowed, it’s apparently causing him to hallucinate.

How else to explain his recent post on the GMP site titled “Being a Dude Is a Good Thing.” Now, as a dude who spends a good deal of time every day being a dude, I’ve got nothing against anyone being a dude, provided that’s what they want to be. It’s just that the piece itself is full of some rather strange generalizations that don’t actually seem to be, you know, true, at least not in what’s commonly known as “the real world.”

Rather than try to rebut his argument, because he doesn’t seem to have much of one, let’s just look at some of his loopier pronouncements:

Why do men get blamed for everything?

Uh, because they don’t? Sure, men get blamed for things, but guess what? Women get blamed for things all the time, too, from witchcraft, to divorce, to getting themselves raped, battered or killed. They’ve been blamed for earthquakes, for “inciting” male lust, for killing chivalry and “killing off real men,” for “taking roles intended by God only for men.” Heck, some inventive sorts have even figured out how to blame women for men who are assholes. And this guy has decided that “Black Women are to blame for the disrespect Black Men show towards Black Women.” For endless additional examples, scroll back through the posts and comments here, visit any of the blogs on my “boob roll,” or simply continue living on planet earth.

Back to Matlack, whose generalizations get more surreal by the sentence:

In the locker room, in the bathroom, on the walk out of the board room, in my conversations with men of all kinds, that’s what I hear more than anything. The resignation that to be a man is to be unacceptable at some level to the woman in your life.

Really? Who on earth are you hanging out with? And what women are they hanging out with? Are men other than Tom Matlack and his possibly apocryphal conversational partners actually having conversations like this on a regular basis? If the “woman in your life” basically hates men, what is she doing with you, and what are you doing with her?

One close friend jokes, “When speaking to my wife I always make sure to look at the ground in deference. And I make sure not to make any sudden movements.”

Um, what?

I’ve watched him. He loves his wife.

He’s a very competent human being. But with her he’s decided the only way to survive is to submit. The female view is the right view. The male view just gets you into trouble.

You see what I meant before about the hallucinations, right?

But Matlack suggests there is hope for the poor demure, never-before-heard-from men of the world. Apparently they are starting to open their mouths at last.

It seems that the blame game in the mainstream, whether through the minimization of male life in pop culture or on television or through the continued obsession with men behaving badly, has finally struck a chord with the average guy.

Let’s just pause a moment to reflect on this whole “minimization of male life in pop culture or on television.” Mr. Matlack, do you actually watch movies or television, or visit libraries or anything like that? Most movies revolve around men as the main characters, with women in many cases serving as little more than a love interest or simply as scenery. Have you ever heard of the Bechdel test? Read up on it, run the test on some of your favorite films, and then get back to us on the “minimization of male life in pop culture.”

Now back to Matlack’s manifesto:

We are no longer willing to be blamed for being men. We are no longer willing to avert our gazes and stay silent about our feelings. We are raising our voices and telling our stories in our own male vocabulary.

Yeah, because men have been so utterly silent about their feelings, their opinons, and pretty much everything, up until now.

To women, I assume the response is, “well, it’s about time.” But just remember when we talk it’s not going to sound like a women in a man’s body. It’s gonna be all dude. And you are just going to have to deal with that.

Ladies, prepare yourselves for a lot more Dudesplaining in the near future.  Dudes will be ignored no longer! Dudes!!! DUUUUUDESSS!!!!!!

EDITED TO ADD: Matlack’s gotten some responses on Twitter to his dudely roar; he’s posted a bunch of them here. Guest appearances by Amanda Marcotte and (seriously) Roseanne Barr.

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Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Like I said, I don’t like Matlack handled the Twitter thing very well, but did he really call them “crazy”? He referred to the situation as “insane”, once, in a debate that was hundreds and hundreds of Tweets long. Kind of uncalled for but whatever. I almost certainly could find a dozen equivalent insults from women in that huge megathread.

This is what I mean when I say that the Prof holds men so a far higher standard than women. God damn he bothers me.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Okay, I’ll step off. This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands! I need school to keep myself occupied.

ithiliana
9 years ago

@Kendra and MRAL: Kendra, I agree–I liked Hugo’s post on his resignation (though am SOOOOOOOOOOO tired of the football helmet story) much more than I remember liking his posts in the past.

MRAL: The quote you give from Hugo is one that I and many feminists would agree with–and Matlock’s post was not just about men, but about the relationships between men and women, saying some fairly typical stereotypical and ugly cliches about women–so it was not just about men. I never cared enough about the GMP to read over there (and anyplace that talks about its brand is a place I will never bother reading), and so I don’t know how feminist it aims to be–but Matlock’s post is downright sexist, and the fact that he did not realize it/began defending it sounds exactly like privilege in action–and I don’t see Hugo’s post as at all bitchy.

This is basic stuff–and not just around the gender axis. I am not going to argue with a black person about white racism–they know a lot more about it than I do, and I’m not aware of all that they will know, no matter how much reading and listening I’ve done (and I began working on my own racism twenty years ago by reading a lot of work by women of color about white feminist racism).

And equating insults from men to women as the same as from women to men is one of those fake rhetorical moves that ignores the differences in social power between people in different gender classes. I don’t see acknowledging men as a group/class (despite what any individual feels) has more social status and privilege as “holding men to a higher standard” nor does privilege as a concept in social justice work mean that bad things never happen to people in the privileged group.

ithiliana
9 years ago

MRAL: so, what do you think about the new HOBBIT trailer?

We don’t have to keep talking about Hugo.

I am all over happy.

hellkell
hellkell
9 years ago

Nah, just unplug and read a book or watch a movie. Shit, go read lolcats if you have to.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Look, putting it simply, I don’t think that you can ask men to do what women are unable, unwilling, or just don’t do, regardless of “power differentials”. It’s hypocritical. Most feminists don’t do this, but Hugo does.

And I think that women have unique insight into being women, and all the disadvantages and advantages or whatever that entails. Men have unique insight into being men, and likewise know things that non-men don’t. I think that female feminists( and Hugo) might do well to listen. I thought Amanda’s response to Matlack was fine, and I agreed with her for the most part… but it was telling how damn *defensive* she was near the beginning. “Oh, I’m friends with dudes, and I’ve talked to them, and here’s what they say…”

hellkell
hellkell
9 years ago

MRAL, subject change: what are you doing for the holidays?

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Haha. Nothing much. I celebrate Christmas, but it’s like, the whole thing is so overdone that by the time the 25th actually gets here, I’m sick of it all. Scrooge represent.

BlackBloc
BlackBloc
9 years ago

MRAL has been seriously likeable since that post about exploiting homeless girls for sex. Chalk one positive outcome for fucking amoral PUA pricks writing vomit-inducing posts!

BlackBloc
BlackBloc
9 years ago

And by that, I mean since MRAL condemned that post. Not that MRAL wrote that post… Just in case it’s not clear by context.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

I can’t get over Hugo’s ‘tried to kill my girlfriend’ story

…wait, what?

Haha. Nothing much. I celebrate Christmas, but it’s like, the whole thing is so overdone that by the time the 25th actually gets here, I’m sick of it all. Scrooge represent.

Are you going home or staying where you are? I’m not going home for break, since I have an incomplete I need to finish. I thought my mom might visit toward the beginning of January, but my dad’s been having some health problems and she doesn’t know if he’ll be recovered enough by Jan to live on his own for a week. Dealing with your parents aging is the worst.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

My fathers’ side of the family has had kids late for a few generations. My grandfather was a young man in the twenties, which was when he came to the US — I have a great-uncle who died in World War One, which gives me a vertiginous feeling when I think about it — and my own father was born in 1944, about ten years after his sisters. So my aunts from that side of the family are as old as my grandmother on my mother’s side.

The other side of my dad fathering me late, of course, is that I’m going to lose him early.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2011/01/03/what-you-need-to-remember-what-you-need-to-forget-on-self-acceptance-after-doing-something-truly-awful/

I walked into the little kitchen only steps from where my ex lay. I blew out the pilot lights on our gas oven and on the burners, and turned the dials on everything up to maximum. I pulled the oven away from the wall, leaving the gas line intact, positioning it so that the gas was blowing directly at the passed-out young woman on the floor. Then I swallowed one more handful of pills and vodka, lay down beside her, spooned her, and lost consciousness.

But there was something else I did, something I don’t remember. Some other part of my divided self apparently picked up the phone, called up a friend in San Francisco, announced “We’re checking out” and hung up. I don’t remember dialing the number, but clearly, part of me wanted to live. That friend did what the small sane part of me wanted her to do, which was call the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department (I lived in an unincorporated area at the time). Less than half an hour later, I was awakened by deputies kicking down the door.

Long story short, I survived. So did my ex. We both spent 24 hours in ICU, and then were transferred to separate psychiatric units. I never saw her again. The sheriff’s department didn’t arrest me because they assumed that the two of us were in a suicide pact.

But don’t worry, he feels much better about himself now! I’m so glad he’s okay!

marc2020
marc2020
9 years ago

Well this is probably going to do me no favours but I like Hugo’s writing it was a great source of comfort to me during a very confusing time in my life that I don’t really wish to get into here.

To know there was a guy out there writing really confidently on being a pro feminist man was pretty great actually. He had a funny relaxed and friendly tone that I really engaged with and his ability to be so raw and honest about his past misdeeds .

My interest in him waned greatly during the whole paternally episode but I still sometimes read his GMP articles.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

But don’t worry, he feels much better about himself now! I’m so glad he’s okay!

I’m not sure how to feel about this, since I have been fucked up enough mentally in the past that I can see myself c. 5 years ago doing something like that. I never did, but it would have been possible.

And I did do some awful things, back in the day. While I’m doing better now, thanks to drugs and therapy, I don’t know how to think of myself or of my relationship with my boyfriend: on the one hand, I don’t think I’m an abuser any more, but on the other hand I’m not sure how it’s possible for my boyfriend to interact with me in a way that’s not implicitly marked by the way I’ve treated him in the past. He says he loves me, but I honestly don’t know whether it’s possible to get back from what I’ve done to him, and what he’s done to me.

On the other hand, my father also was abusive when I was growing up, terribly abusive, and then about five years ago he got on medication and last year he decided that he had to turn the way he behaves to other people around. So he’s helping my mom out financially quite a bit, for instance. He’s still not what you might call normal, but he’s better and I have a relationship of sorts with him. He’s fun to hang out with, even. I think I’ve forgiven him.

So I’m not sure what to think about this, about how Schwyzer should be treated now. I do think he’s going about this incorrectly — his narratives are about his own path, not about the amends he makes to the people he’s hurt — but at the same time I don’t want to say that he’s irredeemable.

For what it’s worth, I think the religious framework within which he’s working is doing him a disservice; he is, if I remember correctly, Protestant, which means that redemption is a private matter between his soul and God. First sin, then consciousness of sin, then forgiveness, then redemption. Looking at this from the outside, this narrative is weirdly contextless: redemption is contingent upon a private movement of the spirit towards God, and the links between that redemption and the things you actually do with your life are downplayed. (In fact, considering that humans are sinful by nature in this belief system, there is, properly speaking, no link between redemption and the things you do with your life: God’s grace is given in a non-contingent manner, and humans will never really be worthy of it. From one point of view, it barely matters what you do once you’re saved.) The redemption narrative as such is all that matters, but the substance of that narrative is a series of emotions: the way you know you’re having a redemption experience is because of the feelings you have during the experience. The effect is a laser-focus on one’s personal psychodrama, which is interpreted as a religious event: Schwyzer probably interprets his feeling of being OK with this experience as a sign of God’s forgiveness.

That last paragraph is just me noodling on, and I’m not sure how much sense I’m making.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

VoiP – I don’t think Schwyzer is irredeemable because of what he did. I’m angered by the way he plays it off as a narrative about self-forgiveness, and the actual things that happened to the woman seem severely backgrounded by his own feelings, until it becomes little more than a tragic story of something he did to himself.

His narrative of redemption seems to have no components other than “then I got over it, thank God”–no real concern for the woman or for his neighbors except in the ways they relate to him.

(My own religious context probably matters here: I’m a Jew partnered with a Catholic and in both of our religions guilt is a lot more prominent and redemption a lot more hard-won.)

Still, I don’t think Schwyzer is The Worst Person Ever or anything like that. I completely agree with his takedown of Matlack. But the way his narratives of redemption always seem to skip straight to the “It’s okay, I forgave myself!”, and seem terribly light on really considering the impacts he’s had on other people, bothers me.

I don’t think he needs to go out and scourge himself some more, I don’t think he needs to be Banned From Feminism Forever, but I don’t personally like him.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

So I’m not sure what to think about this, about how Schwyzer should be treated now. I do think he’s going about this incorrectly — his narratives are about his own path, not about the amends he makes to the people he’s hurt — but at the same time I don’t want to say that he’s irredeemable.

For instance, one of the comments in that thread on Feministe began “Clarisse, why are you giving this animal a platform?” “Animal”? Oh hell no. (The comment went on to make some good points.)

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

OK, we crossed the streams. Holly, what you’re saying makes sense.

Still, I don’t think Schwyzer is The Worst Person Ever or anything like that. I completely agree with his takedown of Matlack. But the way his narratives of redemption always seem to skip straight to the “It’s okay, I forgave myself!”, and seem terribly light on really considering the impacts he’s had on other people, bothers me.

If your religion is based around feelings, forgiving yourself is the only way you can be sure God forgives you. Protestantism + pop psychology = he’s born again through himself.

Kendra, the bionic mommy
Kendra, the bionic mommy
9 years ago

VOIP, all of that made perfect sense to me. It was a very insightful analysis of what it means to turn one’s life around. I grew up attending a fundamentalist church and left it during my teen years. One of the things I did like about Christianity was that it said nobody is irredeemable. Just because someone fucks up badly in life, it’s never too late to change and become a better person. I remember when a preacher visited Jeffrey Dahmer in prison and baptized him. Some Christians were outraged that he would help such a terrible murderer, but according to the rules of Christianity, his crimes were no different than someone committing petty larceny.

Anyway, for Schwyzer, I am more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt now that he has changed his life. In no way do I condone his past behaviors. It’s just that I think that he deserves a chance to prove his sincerity. In fact, I’m hopeful to see that someone with such a past can now be an ally.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

One of the things I did like about Christianity was that it said nobody is irredeemable. Just because someone fucks up badly in life, it’s never too late to change and become a better person.

See, this part is great. It’s how that plays out that’s important. You can’t just say “Now I’m better!” and then not do very much about it.

belle
belle
9 years ago

“Animal”? Oh, hell, YES. Mad the Swine got that right on the fucking money.

And, VoIP, apparently you’re criticizing Hugo for spouting the wrong kind of nonsense. All religion is bullshit, and xtianity’s emphasis on deliberately abasing oneself in public for having done wrong, then pretending one’s slate is wiped clean without having to work at it, is exactly what Hugo does. Not much different from “backsliding” evangenitals.

Protagoras
9 years ago

Not really big on either Christian redemption or attempted murder, but I don’t see where people are getting the idea that Hugo has merely forgiven himself and hasn’t otherwise done much about it. What exactly should he have done that people who only read him on the internet can clearly see he hasn’t done?

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

And, VoIP, apparently you’re criticizing Hugo for spouting the wrong kind of nonsense. All religion is bullshit, and xtianity’s emphasis on deliberately abasing oneself in public for having done wrong, then pretending one’s slate is wiped clean without having to work at it, is exactly what Hugo does. Not much different from “backsliding” evangenitals.

Where do you see me defending evangelicals in that post of mine that criticizes evangelical Protestantism in detail? The parallels between Schwyzer’s behavior and the standard evangelical psychodrama was my point.

Not really big on either Christian redemption or attempted murder, but I don’t see where people are getting the idea that Hugo has merely forgiven himself and hasn’t otherwise done much about it. What exactly should he have done that people who only read him on the internet can clearly see he hasn’t done?

As far as I can tell, he’s never apologized to the people he hurt, and not just the woman he tried to kill either. His discussions of his past revolve around him and his feelings about the wrong he’s done, not about how he, you know, hurt people.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

“Animal”? Oh, hell, YES. Mad the Swine got that right on the fucking money.

Am I an animal? I used to be abusive, like Schwyzer. Unlike him, I’m trying as hard as I can to reform my life and I don’t expect to be forgiven, or to be respected as the King of How Not To Be Abusive. Which is the part that matters to you?

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

And, VoIP, apparently you’re criticizing Hugo for spouting the wrong kind of nonsense. All religion is bullshit, and xtianity’s emphasis on deliberately abasing oneself in public for having done wrong, then pretending one’s slate is wiped clean without having to work at it, is exactly what Hugo does. Not much different from “backsliding” evangenitals.

Internet Atheism is always so helpful.

Why think critically about religious belief at all when you can say “they’re all Fred Phelps, right? Thank NOT-GOD BECAUSE GOD IS A SILLY SKY MAN FOR BABIES that I’m superior to every religious person!”?

I don’t have a problem with Atheism, but ultimately it’s a belief, and that doesn’t give you license to be a jerk about how no, it’s knowledge and rationality so believing in any God, in any form, is exactly like believing the Sun goes around the Earth.

/rant

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

Holly, also note that all Christianity holds exactly the same beliefs as modern American Evangelical Protestantism. Russian Orthodox? Catholic? Your religion is focused on “deliberately abasing oneself in public for having done wrong, then pretending one’s slate is wiped clean without having to work at it,” you just don’t know it yet. Niiiice.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

The problem with Hugo’s writing is that he’s a narcissist, so everything ends up being about him, even when in theory he’s writing about something else.

The problem with his redemption narrative is that it’s all well and good to hit your own rock bottom, have a revelation, and then rebuild, and if you nearly took someone else with you then you can’t just brush that aside and go “and the important thing is that I learned from this”. That’s why his writing pisses so many people off. What about the person he almost killed? How does she feel about this narrative? Are we even going to acknowledge her, or is she just a prop in the Story of Hugo’s Redemption?

RE Christmas, I’m going to continue the tradition of the Holiday Jambalaya and the Holiday Watching of the Silly Movies. (It’s Pratchett this year.)

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

Not to mention! My post about Schwyzer contained no mention of my religion or lack thereof. I am, as it happens, Russian Orthodox. But nothing in my post suggested that. So belle read this:

For what it’s worth, I think the religious framework within which he’s working is doing him a disservice; he is, if I remember correctly, Protestant, which means….etc, etc, etc

as an implicit defense of religions that were not Protestant, as implied by this:

apparently you’re criticizing Hugo for spouting the wrong kind of nonsense. All religion is bullshit, and xtianity’s [psychological pattern]…is exactly what Hugo does. Not much different from “backsliding” evangenitals.

What did I have to do, preface the post with DISCLAIMER: ALL RELIGIONS ARE BULLSHIT before dissecting my problem with one of them?

Or maybe, since zie saw the need to explain to me how much Schwyzer’s behavior had in common with Protestantism, after having read my post on how much Schwyzer’s behavior had in common with Protestantism, zie thought I was somehow defending evangelical Protestantism. I don’t know.

Incidentally, “evan-genital” is a lovely takedown, almost Wildean in its grace. FYI though, “Xtian” isn’t actually a slur, because the “X” in words like “X-mas” is the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the word “Christ” in Greek and thus a common abbreviation for “Christ,” dating at least as far back as a thousand years in writing and dating almost twice as far back in Greek iconography. .

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

Sorry: in English writing. It’s older in other literatures.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

VoiP – It’s probably because you knew too much about a specific theology. I’ve heard Internet Atheists describe theology as like dissecting the details of the cut and color of the Emperor’s New Clothes–it’s totally irrelevant once you know none of it exists anyway! So why bother educating yourself?

Knowing evangelical Protestantism is a specific thing rather than generic “xtianity” is a sign that you’ve done far too much studying a topic that ought to be totally ignored because lol sky man.

sigh

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

religionsplaining

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Haha, there’s like 150 comments over at Hugo’s blog about Goodmanprojectgate, about a fifth of them from his regular hater club. It never ceases to amaze me how some MRAs can work standard rhetoric into literally any sentence, on any topic.

zhinxy
9 years ago

Holly, oh so very much yes, sadly, which is why as a sort of a “godfearing non-theist” who was gonna do history of religion, I tend to just avoid talking about this stuff on the internets because seizures will happen. Oh, seizures.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Oh and David, for me Borderlands was one of those games that’s a ton of fun for a while, and then the curve drops off very sharply. It started to get repetitive about seven or eight hours in, when I was fighting through the fourth bandit outpost and it’s like, this is filler, and not enjoyable. Then I ran into the bandit boss- Sledge, I think?- and he was basically a massive damage sponge, and I quit. This was a while ago, and I haven’t been back.

Part of it is that I just am not as into video games as I used to be. Middle school, I was obsessed. I would play anything. I actually own Big Rigs Over the Road Racing.

VoiP
VoiP
9 years ago

Holly, oh so very much yes, sadly, which is why as a sort of a “godfearing non-theist” who was gonna do history of religion, I tend to just avoid talking about this stuff on the internets because seizures will happen. Oh, seizures.

Actual seizures? I ask because my boyfriend has epilepsy, and one of the things that precipitates seizures for him was reading Hegel XD. He got too angry at him XD

zhinxy
9 years ago

Hah! No, not actual seizures! (Though I am autistic and anger can, I admit, make me… do interesting things) LOL at the Hegel!

ithiliana
9 years ago

@Protagoras: What exactly should he have done that people who only read him on the internet can clearly see he hasn’t done?

My issues are less about his religion than about the way he has turned his position of being a “male feminist” into a money stream–so it’s what he IS doing, for profit, while making his sinful past a part of the rhetoric that is (as often happens with men in feminist circles) making it all about him, centering himself.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

Holy shit, he pushes my buttons. He makes me so ANGRY, haha. I’m taking a break.

ozymandias42
9 years ago

Oh for fuck’s sake. As an Internet Atheist, I see no problems with discussing how a person’s religion affects their belief system and writing. (For instance, my thoughts on the kyriarchy are deeply shaped by the doctrine of original sin. Yay ex-Catholic!)

I do feel like defending PZ Myers’s bit about “talking about theology is like discussing the cut of the emperor’s cloak.” With a couple of the major arguments for the nonexistence of God (most notably, that nearly everything seems to be explicable without Him and there is very little good evidence for His existence), theology doesn’t really matter, because it’s hard to argue away “lack of evidence.” 🙂 For other arguments, like the problem of evil, theology seriously does matter, so I do think he generalizes the argument past where it’s actually applicable.

I do, however, support people believing whatever they want. Life is short. If believing in God makes you happy, and you aren’t hurting anyone else, it’s really none of my business.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

Glad I refreshed before posting because Ozy totally ninja’ed me ;). I agree, the Courtier’s Reply makes a lot of sense in the specific context it was created for. But I don’t doubt people abuse it all the time as a bludgeon to use against religion, whether or not it has any relationship to the situation at hand, because atheists sure can be jerks on the Internet sometimes. See: belle’s Athplosion of Brilliant Insights above. Did you see the clever wordplay? It involved genitals! Priceless.

On an entirely separate note, I love love love Christmas :). I’m filled with so much Christmas spirit that mildly worried that I might burst into a fiery conflagration of tinsel and choral sheet music. I’m really excited to see all of my family and any friends who come in to town for their school breaks. Got to hang out with my bestie yesterday, and my parents (who moved away this summer) are coming into town this evening! I hope everybody has fun doing whatever you do this time of year.

Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant
9 years ago

If there’s a God, I sort of imagine him as a manic douchebag.

Holly Pervocracy
9 years ago

I envision God as the largest possible scale of the fractal consciousness of the universe; if atoms have their own life and cells have their own life and I have my own life, well, God is a few levels above my life. And just as I don’t care much if I lose a few atoms I don’t think God cares much if I live or die or win a football game. I take comfort from believing that I (and everyone and everything else in my life) am a tiny part of God, not that I have a personal relationship with a humanlike God.

…if that makes sense.

Also I’m still nominally Jewish but that doesn’t mean much besides a few holidays.

Kendra, the bionic mommy
Kendra, the bionic mommy
9 years ago

MRAL’s description of God is a lot like how I imagined God to be when I used to be a Christian. When I listened to hellfire and brimstone sermons, I’d imagine God as an angry tyrant. Now I don’t believe in any of that, but I still don’t think it’s right to bash religious people. I take a live and let live approach to it unless someone is using hir religion as an excuse to harm others.

As for Christmas, I still love it. I love Christmas songs, Christmas food, and all of the traditions. It’s more fun now that I have kids. It’s fun to help them make wish lists for Santa and take them out to look at Christmas lights.

Hershele Ostropoler
9 years ago

ozy:

I do feel like defending PZ Myers’s bit about “talking about theology is like discussing the cut of the emperor’s cloak.” With a couple of the major arguments for the nonexistence of God (most notably, that nearly everything seems to be explicable without Him and there is very little good evidence for His existence), theology doesn’t really matter, because it’s hard to argue away “lack of evidence.”

The Myers line is entirely apropos in actual debates about the topic; if there’s no god, what sort of a being it would be if it existed is a somewhat pointless discussion. But when talking about how a person’s philosophy and behavior are shaped by the person’s beliefs, the details of those beliefs actually matter.

So it’s a perfectly valid position to take (though similar to your situation, I’m an agnostic atheist/secularist, but the religion I don’t practice is Judaism, and that has implications for my moral sense and my understanding of how religion works), but wholly irrelevant to a discussion of the consequences of, e.g., Hugo’s Protestantism.

Viscaria
Viscaria
9 years ago

@Kendra, the bionic mommy

It’s more fun now that I have kids. It’s fun to help them make wish lists for Santa and take them out to look at Christmas lights.

I think doing that kind of thing with your kids means a whole lot. I don’t have a lot of warm memories of my Dad pre-divorce – or really, many memories at all – but the one thing that stands out is every year, he would load me and my brother into the truck to drive by the light display that is put up on a street near his parents’ house. They had the house ever since he was 2 years old, and the light display has been there almost as long.

My grandparents are gone now, and my dad and his sister inherited the house, which they’re now renting to me! So I get to see that light display all of the time and think of my dad and the warm fuzzies I got as a young child.

/gross mushiness

BlackBloc
BlackBloc
9 years ago

Personally I’m an anti-Christian first, and an atheist second. As in, (anti-Christ)ian, not anti-(Christian). I’m opposed to the philosophy and the philosopher, not necessarily the people who hold to it.

I came to atheism via a previous detour into left-hand path paganism. A creed usually called Satanism but clearly only because of the trolling potential that the luminaries of the ‘movement’ saw in naming it that way.

I consider most Internet Atheists to be way too *deferrent* to Christianity’s values. If there’s one thing I have to agree with the fundies, it’s their insistence that Christian values are intrinsic to Western thought. They’re so insidiously tied into the entire Western civilization that most Western atheists just adhere to them without examining them. Most atheists will freely declare that they consider Christ’s teachings to be of value even in a secular society. I have no such illusion. I think Christian teachings are immoral (and I mean New Testament AND Old, not just that Old Testament teachings are immoral but were improved on by Christ). My main objection being to the idea that Jesus died for our sins. The sacrificial lamb theology is a monstrosity.

Bakunin wrote it best when he said that if God existed, it would have to be abolished. That’s basically my position on it. He also reserved most of his scorn to so-called freethinkers who actually spent most of their time discussing the irrelevant God question, when the reason for the masses’ worship is quite frankly that the conditions of the proletariat are abhorent and that hope, even a false one, is a human need. I have no love lost for atheists and skeptics who make anti-religious activism their big battlefield while either ignoring or actively working against (in the case of glibertarians) social justice. The root of religiosity lies in that perceived humanity of religion that the modern capitalist world severely lacks.

Kendra, the bionic mommy
Kendra, the bionic mommy
9 years ago

@Viscaria, that’s what I hope I’m doing for my own kids. It’s fun for me to show them lights and watch their eyes get big. My toddler calls it “Pwitty!” (pretty). I get to relive how fun Christmas was when I was a child, too. The one tradition we abandoned was this new fad “elf on the shelf”. My older child thought it was creepy so we sent that elf back to the North Pole, and by North Pole I mean the Target customer service desk.

Unimaginative
Unimaginative
9 years ago

Wow, I’d never heard of Elf on the Shelf. That really IS creepy.

I’m kinda with BlackBloc religionwise, except that I made up my own religion of new-agey paganish agnosticism. A simple philosophy, but it works for me. I think Christmas in North America (and possibly Europe) is more a cultural thing than a religious one, in that I have huge swaths of friends of different faiths (buddhist, sikh, muslim, jewish, xtian, pagan, none of the above) and we all celebrate Christmas.

Or rather, we all get together with loved ones and sparkle up the place, exchange gifts, eat huge amounts of wonderful food, and get all sloppy and sentimental on or about the winter solstice.

One particular thing that I find myself falling back on from my nominally Protestant upbringing is trying to explain to children that a dead beloved person (or animal) isn’t ever coming back because s/he lives in heaven now.