Christianity and Secularism “A Conversation for the Year of Faith among Christians, Atheists, Non-Believers and Free Thinkers”

22 Sep

Ok, so I’m officially frustrated. I attended today’s event In Hamilton and I must say that it totally missed the mark as to what it was presented to be.

I belong to a local MeetUp group In Hamilton Ontario Canada for fellow Atheists. http://www.meetup.com/hamilton-atheists/ Come visit us and join in if you’re interested in meeting like-minded people.

One of our organizers received an invitation to go to this event but wasn’t able to attend so 3 days before the event she sent out a message to see if anyone else was interested in attending. Being raised Roman Catholic and being involved in the church until well into my teens and still having many of my family as practicing Catholics, I thought I’d see what this was all about and maybe even be able to give my perspective, after all of all the religions I have knowledge of the Catholics are the ones I know the most about. I had very high hopes for this event. It seemed like an interesting topic and I actually thought the Roman Catholic Diocese would give the title justice.

I was wrong….So when I got home I actually said to myself “Wow, I just mean wow”. I was a little bit fuming and had to decide between a beer or a submarine sandwich. The submarine sandwich won out this time ;-) Hey, I didn’t end up staying for lunch…..

The title of this meeting was “A Conversation for the Year of Faith among Christians, Atheists, Non-Believers and Free Thinkers in the Diocese of Hamilton”.

Where was the “conversation”?

I honestly felt that I was the only actual Atheist in the room although there may have been more but there was certainly no conversation happening. There were quite a few priests and nuns and some obvious Catholic parishioners in the seats as well as several Catholic Youth group organizations filling the spaces but my “fellow Secular Humanist” radar didn’t give me any indication that anyone else from “the loyal opposition” were in attendance. I don’t even think the fourth presenter David Cayley was an actual atheist. His own description of his believes indicated that he more likely conforms to Pantheism rather than atheism. I believe that he stated that he considers the idea that god IS the universe and that he “feels it around him” or something similar which is Pantheism not Atheism. He also stated that he fits into the description of atheist but then again doesn’t so he’s not really…. (David can clarify and correct me if he feels I got it wrong. ADHD sometimes gets the best of me and my focus can wander….the word “squirrel” comes to mind)

So what was the point of this event if not to actually have a conversation with people of other views if not just to pat one another on the back for all agreeing and then to be able to tell the Pope that they fulfilled their obligation?

http://www.communiohamiltondiocese.org stated “Thus, we intend that this event will foster mutual understanding and friendship among believers and non-believers through conversation, music and a social gathering at the Cathedral of Christ the King Thus in Hamilton”

Really, it actually DID feel like this was organized to “preach to the choir” as I was warned by my fellow free thinkers who wisely declined the invitation to attend with me. It seems like they just naturally let it become about showing off the Cathedral and have us listen to inspirational music while continuing to talk about Catholicism. I don’t really blame them, it’s what they do. I did indeed enjoy the speakers in the initial discussion panel (especially Father Lewis and Sister Bernadette) and was interested in their 15 minutes of talk time and the subjects they brought forward but the intended “conversation” seemed to be missing which defeats the purpose of this event…..

If their true purpose was to actually have real conversations with Atheists, non-believers and free thinkers then they actually need to HAVE conversations with Atheists, non-believers and free thinkers but that didn’t happen.

I’ll let you know that I stayed for the whole event. After the panel and the Q and A, I indeed looked around the Cathedral, which I hadn’t been to in more than 25 years and then went downstairs to see what was happening but all I saw was a whole bunch of like minded people talking about Catholicism. Even in the “Q and A” the topic arose about how to bring religion MORE into the daily lives of the people rather than talk about what “secular” really means in the workplace. I wish I could say I feel bad for the woman who couldn’t tell her patients that “god is there for you” when she works in a PUBLIC hospital but as a secularist I really, really cant. I didn’t feel welcomed nor did it seem that the purpose was to continue with the topic of religion and the “atheist” which I don’t believe actually started earlier in the first place. I walked out without attempting to speak to anyone simply because I didn’t feel it was appropriate to interrupt someone and say “hi, I’m an atheist, can I intrude into your lunchtime conversation”? Now don’t get me wrong, I am NOT shy, I LOVE to talk (ask anyone) and I love to talk about science, religion and especially my atheism but it didn’t seem like the event for that. The initial “panel discussion” seemed hurried and the “Q and A” afterward was abruptly ended so that we could all go into the Cathedral to listen to pretty music rather than continue with the many questions people seemed to have. None of it regarding “Secularism”…Ok, there was one quesiton about “the myth of secularism” but I didn’t really get the answer and I think neather did the audiance member asking it.

I did plan on speaking directly with Sister Bernadette since she seemed like she actually enjoys the style of conversation that I presumed was going to occur today. She was rather funny and she spoke about being one of those who enjoys conversing with people in the “online world” about these topics. I figured she might have also noticed that the “conversation” part never actually occurred. I waited around uncomfortably for a while but she was in a conversation with yet another believer so I simply packed it in, walked out and headed home. Ok, I admit it, I was fuming just a little bit :-/ (and a bit hungry  ;-)

I must also admit, that is not what I was expecting when I heard that the Catholic Church wished to have a “discussion with atheists, non-believers and freethinkers”

So now this group can get the message to the Pope telling him that they fulfilled their obligation of the “communio circle” and had a conversation ABOUT atheists even though they didn’t actually have a conversation WITH atheist….

I hope you can see my frustration.

Do you have any questions for me? Ask them here.

13 Sep

I’ll leave this page open for anyone led here from elsewhere who wants to know more about me or if they want me to explain what I meant elsewhere in other blogs and such

Ask away.

Yes, that is a real Tattoo. I have several. this one gets the point across without me saying a word.

Is it OK to hand out the Gideon’s bible to 11year olds in PUBLIC schools?

2 Sep

Ok, this is going to be my first ever post and it’s going to be rough. (it’s hard to work on an iPad (damn auto correct) and I’ve never done a blog before)

Question? Is it ok to hand out religious texts to 10 and 11 year old children using the PUBLIC school system, which presumably entails effort and work hours from the school administration, secretaries, teachers and cleaning staff (to clean up the boxes and plastic rapping after the distribution of the handouts).  How much time is taken away from public employees and the students lessons to hand out and organize this EVERY year? Who pays for this? YOU do.

Here in Ontario Canada many of the public elementary school boards have stopped the practice of allowing the Gideon’s bible society to use the schools staff and property as a distribution point for handing out their bibles to grade 5 classes every year. Some school boards are still  continuing the practice. the Grimsby school board is still one of them.

My understanding is that is an opt-in process when the school sends home paperwork (printed and paid for the the school). The parents who don’t mind their kids getting a book can check YES. Those who do mind must check NO.

I instantly see issues with this in that SOME kids won’t receive that free new book and others will. Those children will have to explain to their friends why they didn’t get that shiny new book (that *must* be important or the school wouldn’t be handing it out). Plain and simple, kids can be cruel. And those who didn’t get a book May be made to feel different because many of their friends are flipping through it and they are not. That means every child, whether they were brought up in an Athiest home or a Muslim home or any other believe system aside from Christianity has yet another reason to feel like an outsider. They have too many other more important things to worry about.

My second issue is that is is NOT a *public* school boards mandate to allow ONE religion (in this case Christianity) to hand out religious materials year after year to 10 and 11 year old children. The amount of time and manpower that the school board allots to this program every year to help hand out these “free” bibles starts to add up for the general public and the taxes that you expect to be going towards children’s education rather than stopping the school learning time to hand out religious text to each grade 5 class in the region EVERY year. Meaning that the grade 6′s  received it last year and the grade 7′s received it the year and the grade 8′s the year before that etc…

It is not the public school systems *mandate* to help a religion to hand out their religious material. THAT is what their places of worship are for.

Anyway, the Gideon’s are only handing out half of the bible. The Gideon’s handout is only the New testament and some psalms. I know why they are afraid to show the students the old testament, then they would have to explain all those god approved death, destruction, mass killing, rape and hatred.

Is it time that ALL school boards stopped helping one religion distribute their religious texts?

What are your thoughts on this?

Hello world!

2 Sep

Hi there

 

This is a new blog. I’m not sure what I’ll want to blog about just yet.

 

Im an Atheist so I suspect my subjects will eventually revolvearound atheism and religion.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Alan

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