Hi, my name is Hagrid, and I deny the Holy Spirit.

I am one of the growing number of people who have participated in The Blasphemy Challenge, and I'd like to explain why.

When I recorded my video back in December, I wasn't doing it for the free DVD (though that was a nice perk). I also don't care if denying the holy spirit blasphemy or not... that isn't the point of my participation.

For me, it was an opportunity to do something that I had never had a chance to do before: Publicly announce my lack of faith.

It was, for me, a "coming out."

I suspect that a lot of people making the video, like myself, are using it as a way to publicly "come out."

I came out of the closet as a gay man 20 years ago. That was a defiant, "in your face," an I-don't-care-who-the-fuck-knows-or-what-they-think kind of moment.

This coming out feels much the same to me. For me, this is a catharsis. It's a relief. I'm not hiding anymore, no longer cowering in the shadow of Christian opression of nonbelievers. In fact, until I made that video, I always identified as a sort-of agnostic, never willing to make the leap of faith required to say that "god doesn't exist."

That's changed since The Blasphemy Challenge.

I now feel empowered as an atheist, having taken the leap, and doing it publicly. In the face of growing Christian political power in the United States, it is important that a few brave, defiant or even foolhardy souls stand up to be counted.

When I came out as a gay man, I became a better person... and I believe the world became just a little bit safer for queers, because one less of us was hiding. Others in the closet saw me, and knew they weren't alone. Straight people who saw me had to adjust their ideas about what a homosexual was to encompass me, and what they knew of me.

Because coming out matters.

It matters in both the queer world, and in the atheist world.

Yes, there will be negative repercussions from it. Yes it will piss some Christians off. Yes it will alarm some moderate atheists.

But I remember these same arguments back when I came out as queer - we shouldn't antagonize straight people, we should be constructive in our demands.

No. The world doesn't work like that.

Someone has to stand up and demand respect for our beliefs. Someone has to stand up and say, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!"

I believe that what we are witnessing here are the beginnings of a social movement here, a nascent backlash against growing Christian power and oppression in the United States. A social movement of nonbelievers that begins with a simple phrase:

"I deny the Holy Spirit."

My name is Kevyn "Hagrid" Jacobs, and I am proud to have participated in The Blasphemy Challenge.
kevyn: (Default)
( Jan. 5th, 2007 02:28 pm)
I've been influenced a lot lately by the thinking of the New Atheists, and am beginning to question some of my beliefs. My spirituality continues to grow and evolve, and while this can be disconcerting -- and even troubling at points when it comes to fitting in with old communities, like the neopagans and Radical Faeries -- it does show me that I am still growing as a human being.

So I've decided to take a snapshot of where my thinking is right now.

Here is what I believe right at this moment:

* I doubt (though I cannot disprove) the existence of the monotheistic creator gods. (Some would label me a "Weak Atheist" for this, others an agnostic. I'm fine with either label.)

* I believe that Monotheism is probably maladaptive for our survival as a species.

* I suspect that whoever Jesus was as a historical figure, he probably wasn't much like the man depicted in the gospels, which appear to me to be mappings of stories, myths and deities of the Roman world onto a Jewish mystery cult. He may not have existed at all.

* I doubt that there is an afterlife. When you die, you're Recycled, Remembered, Reproduced and Ramified, but that's probably about it. (Recycled through the environment, Remembered by those who knew you and loved you, Reproduced in your descendants, and Ramified in that we have Ramifications in how we changed the world by our presence and actions.)

* I believe the human need for spirituality is real. It's the expression of it that is problematic.

* I believe there is still a great deal about the workings of the Universe we still don't understand, because we are limited. We're limited by our perceptions, by our experiences, by our place in the Universe, and by the knowledge our predecessors and culture gave to us.

* I believe that gods and goddesses in the neopagan sense are metaphors, ways of interacting with aspects of the universe, but that they don't have any objective or incarnate existence. They're more like archetypes than actual beings.

* I am agnostic on the idea of supernatural entities and forces -- I just don't know if they exist or not.

* I believe I am an animal. A very smart animal to be sure, a remarkable primate, and a very advanced monkey, but an animal nonetheless. We are probably not more important than the other animals we share the Earth with, including the food we eat.

* I believe the Earth is a self-regulating living organism. (This known as the Gaia Theory.) This is not to say that, as an organism, it has any purpose, or self-direction, but it definitely appears to be alive. I also believe that Earth must be revered and cared for if we are to survive. I have no knowledge as to whether or not the Earth is conscious, though -- except to say that I, as part of Earth, am conscious.

* I know The Universe is, at least in part, alive and conscious. I am alive and conscious, and since I am part of The Universe, then at least this part of the Universe is unquestionably alive and conscious. And if the Earth is alive, and part of The Universe, then that part of The Universe is alive as well.

* I believe that science, and logic, are the best tools we have right now for understanding The Universe. I believe that Emotion, Spirituality, Intuition, Perception and Experience are more limited than science and logic -- they are too easily wrong, and shaped by our prejudices and limitations.

(All beliefs are subject to change as I continue to explore, think, and grow.)

So what am I? How should I label myself? Like clothes that I outgrew as a child, some of the labels that I used to wear seem ill-fitting. Am I still a Pagan? Am I an Atheist? Who am I?
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