Category Archives: Atheism

The Littlest Angel

The Littlest AngelIt’s funny the way we remember things; not the details, but the feelings. I didn’t remember the details, but I remembered that The Littlest Angel, by Charles Tazewell made me very sad.

I didn’t remember it being an overtly religious story (in spite of the title and imagery), but I do remember feeling painfully sorry for the nameless little boy who had been swept into the immensity of heaven, only to find himself alone. For whatever reason I presumed he had been ill and then died and I remember wondering about his parents and how miserable they must be after the tragic loss of their child.

There was something the little angel missed from his brief life on earth. Not his family, but rather his collected treasures; wonderful bits of bright and shiny and new all kept in a little box under his bed. He was allowed to go back to earth and get them – I don’t remember why. It didn’t matter. His life had been so brief that the things he held dear, lovely little memories all his own, could all be contained in a small box. It still brings tears to my eyes.

This is a summary of the story — the part I remembered:

The Littlest Angel is a story of the youngest angel in heaven—a little boy who doesn’t know how to act angelic. In fact, he acts just like the little boy he was on earth. But in Tazewell’s perfectly ordered heaven, the littlest angel struggles to find his place. His heart yearns for earth, where his boyish treasures lie. The littlest angel is messy, clumsy, always late, and he sings terribly off key. The other perfect angels in heaven don’t quite know what to do with him.Finally the littlest angel is sent to be “disciplined” by the Understanding Angel. The Littlest Angel sits on the lap of the Understanding Angel, and unburdens his troubled little heart, revealing just how homesick he is for earth. The Understanding Angel agrees to retrieve the boy’s box of earthly treasures, which contains things that only a little boy could love.

This is the part I had forgotten and now find so appalling:

When the birth of a Christ child is announced, all the angels excitedly gather to announce their gifts to the newborn king. The littlest angel only has his box of treasures, kept under his bed. It is all he ever had, and is the perfect gift of innocence. In a moment reminiscent of the story of the widow’s mite from the New Testament, the Littlest Angel decides to give his box of treasures to the Christ child. But almost as quickly, he regrets his decision. In the dramatic conclusion, the hand of God rests on the Little Angel’s gift, and declares it the best of all.

For Christians The Littlest Angel and The Little Drummer Boy are touching tributes to their glorious savior: no matter how small or insignificant your gift, you may place it, without fear of derision, at the feet of Christ. Even if your gift is pathetic, Jesus sees into your heart and really appreciates the thought. The savior of mankind is nothing if not polite.

So why do I despise this sweet Christmas story? Why do I believe it is an emotionally manipulative and pernicious tool of indoctrination? Because of it’s implicit messages:

The death of a child is not sad or tragic because he’s in heaven with the angels.

The small, insignificant joys that make up a life are worthless.

Conformity ensures happiness.

Everything you hold dear should be given over to God as an act of fealty.

It’s never too early to start molding a child’s mind to ensuring that he knows from the very beginning that he is nothing without God. So here’s the story in it’s entirety. Go ahead and sue me.

Once upon a time — oh many, many years ago as time is calculated by men — but which was only Yesterday in the Celestial Calendar of Heaven — there was, in Paradise, a most miserable, thoroughly unhappy, and utterly dejected cherub who was known throughout Heaven as The Littlest Angel.”He was exactly four years, six months, five days, seven hours, and forty-two minutes of age when he presented himself to the venerable Gate-Keeper and waited for admittance to the Glorious Kingdom of God.

The Singer, who was known as the Understanding Angel, looked down at the small culprit, and the Littlest Angel instantly tried to make himself invisible by the ingenious process of withdrawing his head into the collar of his robe, very much like a snapping turtle.

At that, the Singer laughed, a jolly, heartwarming sound, and said, “Oh! So you’re the one who’s been making Heaven so unheavenly! Come here, cherub, and tell me all about it!” The Littlest Angel ventured a furtive look from beneath his robe.

First one eye. And then the other eye. Suddenly, almost before he knew it, he was perched on the lap of the Understanding Angel, and was explaining how very difficult it was for a boy who suddenly finds himself transformed into an angel. Yes, and no matter what the Archangels said, he’d only swung once. Well, twice. Oh, all right, then, he’d swung three times on the Golden Gates. But that was just for something to do!

That was the whole trouble. There wasn’t anything for a small angel to do. And he was very homesick. Oh, not that Paradise wasn’t beautiful! But the Earth was beautiful too! Wasn’t it created by God, Himself? Why, there were trees to climb, and brooks to fish, and caves to play at pirate chief, the swimming hole, and sun, and rain, and dark, and dawn, and thick brown dust, so soft and warm beneath your feet!

The Understanding Angel smiled, and in his eyes was a long forgotten memory of another small boy long ago. Then he asked the Littlest Angel what would make him most happy in Paradise. The cherub thought for a moment, and whispered in his ear. “There’s a box. I left it under my bed back home. If only I could have that?”

The Understanding Angel nodded his head. “You shall have it,” he promised. And fleet-winged
Heavenly messenger was instantly dispatched to bring the box to Paradise.

The Littlest Angel trembled as the box was opened, and there, before the Eyes of God and all His
Heavenly Host, was what he offered to the Christ Child.

And what was his gift to the Blessed Infant? Well, there was a butterfly with golden wings, captured one bright summer day… and a sky blue egg from a bird’s nest in the olive tree that stood to shade his mother’s kitchen door…and two white stones, found on a muddy river bank, where he and his friends had played ..and, at the bottom of the box, a limp, tooth-marked leather strap, once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog, who had died as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.

The Littlest Angel wept hot, bitter tears, for now he knew that instead of honoring the Son of
God, he had been most blasphemous.

Why had he ever thought the box was so wonderful?

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The Whine On Christmas

Santa & JesusThe persecution complex that is Christianity suffers from a paranoid and delusional fear of a war on Christmas. They suspect that, somewhere in an underground atheist bunker, a stealthy, subversive group [1] is ever so slowly taking Christ out of Christmas and replacing him with an X. I’ve seen similar behavior in a three-year-old who suspects he may be forced to share the last piece of cake.

Until recently, I’ve just rolled my eyes at Fox Spews and their absurd fear-mongering. “Is there a war on Christmas? I’m just asking but that probably means there is.” Then came Twitter. Twitter has allowed me to interact with a few Christians and given me insight into the depth of their pettiness.

Lisa: Christmas is about Christ. You are free to get your own Holiday if you don’t like it.Me: Christmas = Christ to YOU. Christmas is a traditional FAMILY holiday of which no one [can] claim ownership.

Lisa: actually that’s not true at all. Others have claimed it but originally it’s to celebrate Christ birth. No denying that.

Me: Again, to YOU Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birth. To MANY others it celebrates family & friends.

HB: Jesus would’ve been born in the summer. Christians ripped off Saturnalia in an attempt to lure pagans into their religion.

HB: So yes, there is denying that.

Lisa: We don’t have to lure anyone- He loves you and if you choose to reject HIM He gave you free will. It’s not my job to convince you.

Me: It’s also not your job to dictate whether or not non-Christians have the right to enjoy a public holiday.

At this point, I’m a mere 140 characters away from YELLING at Lisa, possibly making her cry.

Obviously, for Christians, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus – a little bastard who came into this world for the sole purpose of being sacrificed to God (his biological father) on Man’s behalf. In recognition of his birth, Jesus’ devout followers are nice to each other (and sometimes even strangers) for an entire day which makes them very pleased with themselves.

I’m being facetious. What really makes Christians happy is knowing that everyone who takes a pass on the gift of eternal life by choosing not to accept Jesus as their own, personal Jesus, will be burning for eternity in God’s nether regions. One does not turn down a very pricey gift from God and expect him to be gracious about it.

Whatever.

The fact that Christians see Christmas as a tangible, shiny treasure that needs to be protected and kept unsullied by heathen hands is outrageously stupid (and selfish). No one is trying to stop them from celebrating Christmas in whichever way makes them feel best about themselves and their religion.

“Happy Holidays” is not a war cry, it’s a simple way to show tolerance for beliefs that differ from yours. Wishing someone a happy holiday is an effortless way to include, rather than exclude, your fellow human beings during a season of pretending you believe in peace on earth and goodwill to men.

So maybe we should take Christ out of Christmas and replace him with an X.

X = what is important to you.

[1]The Grinch Fan Club

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Back to the missionary position…

paperboyInstallment 1: How I Became an Atheist

As a new member of the Evangelism Corps, I became a cog in an elite team of zealous, idealistic young Christians who really wanted to get away from home. Get away from home and drag people to Jesus.

At the beginning of our training as God’s paperboys, delivering the Good News to doorsteps all over the northwest US, we were each given a personality test. It was a common questionnaire cleverly designed so that you could, without even being aware of it, distill yourself into a category of personality-type combinations. It made sense: effective implementation of any tool requires balance. When assembling squads, the director didn’t want one made up entirely of jazz-hands extroverts, leaving the introverts huddled together trying to avoid eye contact.

Care to guess which broad category claimed me as an undistinguished member? I don’t know. It was either ISTJ (golden retriever) or ISFP (labrador retriever). The only letter that really mattered was the I because, while there is no I in team, you can’t have a strong team without a mother-may-I introvert. Thanks to an infallible sorting method, I was placed on teams with perky girls, amusing magicians, and stoic guitar players. It wasn’t as much fun as it sounds.

Fascinating stuff is it not? Too bad. Walking down Memory Lane is boring me. I’m going to take run down to Procrastination Place to clear my head.

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Atheism+ and Misognyny

atheism plusI’ve been an atheist for quite a few years, but raising kids didn’t afford me the time or leave me with the energy to do anything but “be” an atheist. I knew there were others (besides Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov), but I assumed that other atheists were unobtrusively living their quiet, isolated lives, giving others the space to believe whatever nonsense was flapping inside their brain cavities. It wasn’t until quite recently that I learned, not only are there plenty of free-range atheists, they have been flocking together.

I try not compartmentalize myself or others, to distill anyone into an easily sorted whole, but as a society breaking off from a larger collective into smaller, more elite blocs seems to be an evolutionary necessity. Calling ourselves “The Blue Team” is too broad, we are naturally drawn apart into shades of blue. The atheist community is a rainbow of blue and I am, for my own education, attempting to differentiate the subtle variations. At the moment I’m learning about AtheismPlus.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far:

AtheismPlus is a very young movement that identifies itself as a “new wave of atheism” which aims to mollify the old atheism by focusing on social justice, specifically the “misogyny, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism and other such bigotry inside and outside of the atheist community.” The primary catalyst behind AtheismPlus seems to be a new wave of feminism, an ism that has been vilified, with varying degrees of severity, since women fought for the right to vote (or, as some would argue, the beginning of time).

Throughout history (I’m guessing, I’m not that old) a movement driven by the passion (or anger) and arrogance of youth is bound to be a teeny bit self-righteous. “We may have discovered the wheel all over again, but this wheel is better! Let us tell you why your wheel sucks…” For that reason alone I will not confront (at this time) the underlying message that all other atheists don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. Instead, let’s talk about misogyny, a word that is being overused to the point that it’s losing the full impact of it’s true meaning: a hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.

Gender discrimination and the sexual objectification of women are social ills, not abject misogyny. For example, a man (Richard Dawkins) may be an insensitive, arrogant bastard who has no qualms about talking shit about a particular woman, and still not be a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist. A man (Richard Dawkins) may flippantly dismiss a young woman’s feelings of being treated as a possible sperm receptacle without believing that she somehow asked for the advance and deserves whatever happens. I know this from experience: as a young woman, at one time or a hundred you will be objectified. A socially retarded guy who hits on you isn’t necessarily a brute who can barely conceal his hatred of women. He’s just a socially retarded guy. Every human being can be a total asshole at one time or another. Most men don’t hate women, they simply weren’t taught how to be respectful of another person’s space or feelings. Don’t waste your time being pissed at the sexually frustrated, insensitive fuckwits who leave vicious comments on your blogs. If the goal of AtheismPlus is to counter true misogyny, make sure you’re fighting the real thing, otherwise you’re doing the entire atheist community a disservice.

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