The last couple posts have been a tad on the negative side, so it’s time for a happy post: this past Friday was one of the best nights of my life!
I got off work around 4 pm, then Ben and I hopped in my car for the 2-ish hour drive up to the U of A to hear JT Eberhard and Greta Christina speak. They are two of my favorite atheist bloggers over at Freethought Blogs and I couldn’t pass up the chance to go hear them speak when they were so close to home. About 10 or so of our friends also drove up there for the talks, and it was soooo good to be social again- some days it feels like I haven’t left my apartment since the semester began.
JT spoke on “Reason as a Moral Obligation” about the importance of thinking logically and basing our ethics and actions on consideration for others. (Video available here if you’re interested in watching it, which you totally should be.) Greta spoke about how atheists can find comfort in the face of death, based off her awesome blog post “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing To Do With God.” JT’s talk was interesting and humorous; Greta’s was more serious but still fascinating and uplifting. I decided that Greta must be a mind reader- she voiced, with much greater clarity that I could ever hope to achieve, every fear I’ve ever had about dying and many great ways of working past that fear. Her talk was filmed as well, so I’ll keep an eye out and link to the video when it’s available. (Update: Here it is!)
After the talk a group of us dashed as quickly as we could over to the Flying Burrito, and made it in the door about 10 minutes before they closed. I’m sure the employees hated us for it, but I’m so happy we made it; I freaking love that restaurant! There are 4 or 5 of them, but only in NWA, so I don’t get to go very often.
A larger group of people from the talks that evening, included the speakers, had gone to a local coffee shop after the talks, so we walked over to join them after our burrito trip. On our way, we ran into this:
Oh boy! Street preachers! There were 3 of them, all with long beards and equally ‘shocking’ signs. I had to have a picture of this one, since it’s not every day I agree with street preacher’s signs!
(For anyone who was concerned, although it might only be me who thinks about these things, I asked his permission first before taking his picture.)
One of their signs said something along the lines of “marrying a divorced woman is adultery” and I asked about the exception some churches, including the one I grew up in, make for divorce in the case of infidelity. His answer was that Jesus does allow for divorce in the case of infidelity, but never grants anyone with the right to remarry. Even if your partner cheats repeatedly without remorse, you can’t remarry someone else. The marriage covenant is really, truly, completely “’til death do us part.” Women whose husbands rape them or beat them aren’t even allowed to divorce, let alone remarry. He quoted that parable about the lord who forgave his debtors, and so therefore we must forgive much just like Jesus is eternally forgiving, or something like that. Personally, I think it’s a disgusting view of human relationships that just victimizes victims even further.
Another one of the signs said “You must change to find Jesus.” I asked, “Jesus won’t take me like I am?” He quoted a few stories from the New Testament about Jesus associating with prostitutes and other assorted undesirables, but only those who were willing to renounce their old ways, change and follow him. Ah ha! So it really is Christ-like to only accept and forgive those who will renounce their old ways! Therefore, a woman would be Christ-like not to forgive a cheating husband who refuses to reform! He would never concede my point, but I think I found a serious hole in his dogma.
By this point, our friends already at the coffee shop were texting to ask where the hell we were, so we moved on. It was so great when we got there! The coffee shop was packed with atheists! I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: I love the atheist community we’re building. Last year at Skepticon I had the chance to meet a bunch of awesome people, JT and Greta included, and it was really heartwarming to see some of them again Friday night. I love the idea that I have friends all around the region who share my views and with whom I can spend a thoroughly enjoyable evening. If you are ever fortunate enough to meet JT, and I hope you are because he’s a cool person, you should ask him to do the magic trick where he spins his arm all the way around. It blew my mind!
Ben and I left around 11:30 for our drive back and we enjoyed some dance-y music and great conversation on our way home. I think we spent about as much time in the car as we did at the event that evening, but it was completely worth it.
By the time I got home, I was feeling stupidly warm and fuzzy about how awesome the atheist movement is, how awesome my friends are, and how awesome my relationship is. It’s a good feeling to have, so thank you to everyone who helped make Friday night so great!