This story profoundly changed the way I listen.

Here’s the setup:

My son-in-law, Nick, and my daughter recently decided, somewhat unexpectedly, to purchase a new home. This came after several conversations about them moving out of state for Nick’s job. They found a house they loved and put in an offer 5% over the asking price. The feedback they received was that there was so much interest in the home that bidding would be opened the next day until 6:00 pm, with the highest and most responsible bid being accepted and the winner notified by 10:00 pm. My first thought was, “Who would turn down an offer 5% over asking and create a bidding war?” I was about to find out.

My daughter and Nick really wanted the house, and now I understand why—it’s a lovely home with many unique features, almost new despite being over 10 years old. Because they loved it so much, they entered the bidding war and offered well over 10% above the asking price of just over $1.1 million. By 7:00 pm, they were notified that the house was theirs. Immediately, Nick began doubting himself, feeling he had overpaid. A few days later, the home appraisal came back several hundred thousand dollars less than their offer. Now they faced a quandary. Nick decided to use the undervaluation to renegotiate, claiming the bank wouldn’t loan him the full amount needed. After some negotiation, it was agreed that Nick would pay less and give the sellers his two-year-old pontoon boat. The sellers were moving because they wanted to buy a 12,000 square-foot home on the water nearby.

A few weeks later, Nick and I met the home sellers to show them the pontoon boat and finalize the deal. Throughout the home-buying process, the realtors had stressed how “Christian” the selling family was, mentioning they had buried artifacts in the walls to “bless” the home when it was built. They had prayed and taken a long walk to help them decide to accept the offer. What information did they glean from the walk that truly aided their decision, other than the high price?

As an atheist, I had been forewarned about this highly religious couple. When they arrived, they were very sweet and cordial. We took the boat out for a leisurely drive around the lake. I asked the husband what he did for a living. He said, “I sell the packaging stuff you throw away, all the little packing materials for boxes that companies like Amazon use.” I responded, “Oh, that’s awesome. How did you get into packaging?” He replied, “Well, I was in the packaging business for over 10 years. I believe God led me there. Then, 10 years later, God wrote it on my heart to start my own business.”

What he said was, “God wrote it on my heart that I needed to start my own business.”

What I heard was, “My imaginary friend confirmed what I had already decided: to start my own business.”

There were many conversations that afternoon on the pontoon, but my brain filtered everything through the perception that this man was delusional, living with his wife and their imaginary friend. God evidently told them to sell their home, buy a much larger one, and host retreats and Bible studies.

In closing, WWS-WIH means:

What Was Said – What I Heard.

My recommendation: listen intently to what people are saying, what they think, and what their imaginary friends are telling them to do.

Guest Contributor – (Onnad)

“Unpopular Opinion”
As an atheist, I have come to an opinion that I think is not well-received in our community. I’ve given it a lot of thought, but I have to be honest about my feelings on this: He’s Just Too Old. I know, I know, he has a lot of experience and he’s done a lot of great things, but it’s time to go. There are plenty of people who are ready (and able!) to take his place. It frustrates me that we are stuck in this “Either-Or” situation and that there aren’t any 3rd place alternatives. Why are we stuck constantly choosing between one or the other? My atheist peers have all tried to convince me that he is the best choice and that to not choose him again would be folly.

Of course, I’m talking about Satan.

Let’s face it – his best work is behind him. He gave us Elvis, The Stones, The Doors, Little Richard, and the Dark Master himself: Ozzy Osbourne. When was the last time Satan bothered to put a kick-ass backward message on a record? When was the last time Satan tempted us to “Rock and roll all night and party every day”?? He’s definitely lost his touch. Look no farther than Taylor Swift. Really? Taylor Swift? A cute little popprincess…? That’s the best you got, dude? Goddamn, (pardon the pun) is Satan evenfit to lead us into Hell anymore? Marijuana is now legal, drag queens can shit in any bathroom they please, online porn is as easy to access as any TV channel, and kids are free to believe they are cats and dogs and shit in the classroom litter box. Is Satan even relevant anymore?

As I mentioned there are plenty of better candidates who are much younger, and frankly, much more evil than Satan. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Matt Goetz, Ted Cruz, Ben Shapiro, Stephen Miller, and of course, the modern-day Ash-Shatan, the Old Serpent, The Great Deceiver, The Walking Dude, The Adversary…Donald Trump. Look, I’m not going to get all political here, but Trump is kicking Satan’s ass. Has Satan had five children by three different women, cheated ALL of his contractors, called for the death penalty for five innocent black teens in New York, fucked a porn star, and created a fake university? Nope. Trump is making Satan look like a fool. Members of Congress routinely side with neo-Nazis and White Supremacists. They support putting the unhoused into encampments. People coming to our country seeking a better life are caged and their families ripped apart. In the race to see who can be the most evil, Satan is falling off the pace.

Hey, Satan, man, I gotta be real. It’s time to step down. Your best days are behind you and you are no longer effective. Put on a Tay-Tay record, kick back with some legal weed, log on to PornHub and check out some hot girl-on-stepmom action, and just relax. Enjoy retirement. You’ve done good (bad) work. But give it up, you’re too old to get my vote

“Intermission” – Patricia in the “BurgerFi”

I’m in Fort Lauderdale for work, stationed at a “BurgerFi” joint (They promise GMO-free, farm-raised fare, you get the drill). My task this week is to baby-sit a new machine, jot down notes, and keep it stocked. So, I’m here for a solid five hours daily, parked at the same table with a convenient outlet for my laptop. Today, a seemingly put-together middle-aged lady strolls up to me and drops, “I sure could have used you the other day…” My inner monologue warns against smart remarks, so I opt for, “How so?” Here’s the gist of our chat:

Crazy Lady: I got mugged down the street by the beach near XXX. Could’ve used a big guy like you. The tale unfolds for a good five minutes. Turns out, she’s been mugged thrice while spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. These people can’t see the evil and hatred in their heart. (Irony here is thick) She claims Jesus talks to her, inscribing his will on her heart. She’s been knocked out cold and robbed, and the perpetrators, according to her, are basically minions of the Devil. She’s adamant about spreading the good word to counteract such evil and swears it’s the real devil spreading evil. My first thought, “why doesn’t your God do something about all this evil?”

I maintained a poker face throughout this encounter. She’s on a mission, oblivious to my indifference. Once her food arrives, she takes her sermon and evangelism outside. I snap a pic of her and her unwitting audience, the “Looney Toons” lady standing out.

What motivates someone to do this? How many others out there genuinely believe it’s their divine mission to accost strangers with a religious spiel? Frankly, encounters like this leave me both sad and disgusted. She couldn’t care less about my beliefs or opinions; she’s solely focused on fulfilling her life’s purpose of winning souls. If I didn’t have a call in five minutes, I’d have recorded our conversation. As an practicing Street Epistemologist, I relish such encounters with the eccentric. If she shows up again, I’ll capture and post the audio for posterity.

Why am I here (Part-2)

First off, I struggle to believe it’s been over a year since my last post. I can assure you, my intentions are good, and yet I’ve not set aside time to post here more often. As it’s May already, I’m going to establish my New Year’s resolution here on 5-12-24 and make up for lost time the rest of the year. More posts coming – stay tuned…

OK, so I’m gonna attempt to pick up where I left off on this topic.

Setting the stage: From 30 to 35 weeks of pregnancy duration, my wife and I were going for multiple Doppler blood flow ultrasounds each week. The reason for this is because something was going on in the womb with our child. It was not growing at a normal pace and at 35 weeks, it was clear to the medical folks, this little person was likely going to need to come out of the womb soon. One of the best ways to do this is to monitor the flow of blood into and out of the umbilical cord via this Doppler blood flow ultrasound. They watch the blood flow in, flow up to the brain and back out. At this 35-week ultrasound, they notified us the blood was getting to the brain but was not exiting normally. As such, they needed to emergency schedule a C-section for intercession, and to get this child out of its (as Robin William’s called it) “Womb Service”. We were told, “…it looks like the placenta isn’t doing what it should at this point, and is breaking down & causing this issue. If we don’t get this child out soon, it could do further damage. So, a C-section was emergency scheduled. And just like that, we were about to have our 4th child.

On August 22nd, of the year 2000, my wife went into surgery. I don’t remember if I was allowed in the room (it’s been too long) like I was able to for all my prior children. I do remember, the first time I saw our child and remember many of the feelings and thoughts I had at the time. OMG – “this child is so small and frail” It (still didn’t know at this time if “it” was a boy or girl) had hoses and wires connected all over its little body. It was delivered at a whopping (NOT) weight of 3 lbs, 2 oz. If you’ve ever seen a child of this size, you know what an awe-inspiring time this is. So unbelievably frail and hanging on by a thread to life. Because it was 35 weeks, its lungs were further developed than most infants born as preemies. As is quite typical its lungs had quite a bit of meconium in it and needed quite a bit to get it breathing ok. This child needed a bilirubin light (blue light to help with the typical jaundice so common with preemies as well). When getting this therapy, eye protection is worn, thus the funky glasses.

Not long after arriving in the NICU, a blood test was done on our new child and we were told, from a blood perspective, this child was, in fact, a boy. We named him Sean

Shortly after arriving in the NICU, the nurses and doctors told us they needed to run a few tests because they were concerned about something they were seeing with our child. Some time later, the doctors and nurses came back and told us their fears had been confirmed … our new son had “calcification of the brain”. This confirmation had been verified by their testing. The doctors and nurses suggested we contact our spiritual leader to seek assistance in dealing with this news. My wife, who was a bit more Catholic than me at this point, called our parish priest. Through many tears, she notified our parish of what was happening at St. Vincent’s hospital on the NW side of Indianapolis. We were notified our parish priest and some ladies from St. Michel’s parish in Greenfield, IN. would be coming out to give our child the last rites (a “sacrament” in the Catholic Church and quite common when a person is near death). My wife was inconsolable at this point. At this time, she had been through so very much. To be told, your child is basically brain dead and there isn’t much you or anyone can do to help, aside from pray. We felt completely hopeless. Inside, I was starting to be really pissed at “God” Why us? Why now? After all, we’d prayed to God to help us get pregnant and were trying to do all we could to live good Catholic lives as parents. This made no sense to me. We’d lost a twin in utero and now this!!!

Our Priest showed up with two ladies from the church office. They prayed and prayed over Sean and he both baptized Sean (with a sea shell and Holy Water) and gave him his last rites. I remember thinking at the time … this is a surreal moment, and I don’t think the baptism and last rites did jack shit. My wife was overwhelmed with appreciation they came, and did what they did for our son. She tipped him with $money$ in a truly grateful way just before their departure. Shortly after, the nurse and doc came up to us and said they’d rerun the tests and our son. Turns out, our son did not have “calcification of the brain”. The test was a false positive. Our son was probably OK. Hallelujah, It’s a miracle !!! Once again, I was both glad and horrified at what had transpired. Why ?? What the Hell ?? Was this a miracle? Had Sean not been “Baptized” or received the “Last Rites”, would he still be brain dead? My emotions were all over the place. My wife held onto the sea shell like it was a religious artifact / relic and kept crying like she’d witnessed a true miracle. I was in a state of shock.

The next few weeks are a complete blur in my mind, as we spent most every waking moment in the hospital next to our son, Sean. To be continued…

Why am I here ?

Why am I here? I’ve been pondering Why questions a lot lately. Although I often struggle to find motivation to write, there’s some solace in putting my thoughts out there, even if just for myself. When I timestamp my thoughts in writing, I commit to my personal goal of introspection, reasoning, and self-improvement. Today’s Why question is: Why did I become a Supernatural Atheist? Explaining my answer might take a while, so let’s start with the first step.

In reality, my journey to this way of thinking spans decades. I’ve tried to pinpoint an exact moment when I had my “Aha!” realization and declared, “Well, I’ll be damned, I’m an Atheist.” Like many, Atheism evolved in me over years of personal trials and reflections.

Nearly 28 years ago, both professionally and personally, I was at an all-time high. I’d graduated from college late, nearly 30, while juggling night school and raising a family. I’d landed my dream job, was earning more money than I ever imagined, and had a happy, healthy family, a loving wife, and a lake home in southern Indiana. My wife and I shared a faith in God that we passed down to our children. The old me would call myself “Blessed.” I was even the designated prayer at family gatherings, embodying the Catholic Father figure.

When my wife expressed a desire to help her sister conceive, I was taken aback. What did this mean, and why did she want to do this? My wife, inherently kind and decent, aimed to please. Her sister had survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in high school, leaving her unable to conceive naturally. Looking back, this was one of the first times I began questioning my faith. How could my deeply religious wife defy our faith to assist her sister when the Catholic Church clearly didn’t support it? Months passed, my wife underwent fertility treatments, and I found myself grappling with the idea of her eggs being used to conceive a child with my brother-in-law—a morally complicated situation. I struggled to pray to a God who seemingly disapproved of our actions. Instead, I resigned to God’s will. After multiple failed attempts at embryo implantation, I interpreted it as a sign that God didn’t want my sister in law to have a child, maybe even causing her cancer in the first place. My confirmation bias was reinforced. I confided in my Christ Renews His Parish group, seeking answers in the Bible, only to find further confirmation bias. This incident marked the beginning of my religious doubts.

Shortly after our attempts to help her sister, my wife and I decided to have a fourth child. Fueled by fertility drugs, we were overjoyed to learn we were expecting twins. It was both thrilling and terrifying—our family of five was about to become seven. However, during a routine ultrasound at 12 weeks, we received devastating news: one of the twins had died in the womb. We were blindsided, consumed by grief and guilt. Were we being punished by God for trying to help my wife’s sister? Were we foolish to have pursued this path?

Fast forward and at 25 weeks, our remaining baby seemed healthy, but further scans revealed concerning discrepancies in bone development. Our pregnancy was deemed high-risk, and we faced more frequent ultrasounds and medical tests. An amniocentesis yielded inconclusive results, adding to our anxiety. Our journey became a rollercoaster of emotions, clinging to the belief that God had a plan.

During another ultrasound, we were informed that our baby, whom we believed to be a girl, might actually be a boy with a severe condition called Hypospadias. Our world crumbled. Had our actions led to divine punishment? Had my casual remark about preferring a boy or a girl but nothing in between offended God? We were at a loss.

This event marked a turning point for me personally. In retrospection, it was a true turning point in the lives of my entire family. It was also at this point I began to think, reason, and question and slowly remove my God glasses. As I explored the possibility of why these things happened, my cognitive biases started to dissolve. And thus began my journey of introspection, curiosity, inquisition and profound doubt.


I’ve been thinking about writing a book for a very long time. My struggled to date is how to get started. To the extend I’m able to visualize an end state, I have many ideas regarding the numerous topics this book would cover, and how I’d like to address each. For the purposes of getting started, I’m going to attempt a very broad outline here, likely for my review only.

What do I mean by the abbreviation, “HGWTGW”? The idea came to me a long time ago and it has developed in me a deeper meaning as time goes by. In some ways, HGWTGW helps me frame what I see going on in my daily life and in the lives of others. HGWTGW stands for “Heads God Wins, Tails, Got Wins”

A year or so ago, someone close to my wife lost her brother almost instantly in a motorcycle accident. I say almost instantly because he was in the hospital with his wife (who was also on the motorcycle when they crashed) for a few days before dying. From the moment the news became available of “Bob’s accident” my wife’s friend was flooding Facebook asking for Prayers for Bob and his wife. I’m telling you, the number and ferocity of prayer warriors that came forward were in the hundreds. As I sat back and observed what had happened and how it was developing, it dawned on me that God was gonna get all the positive credit for whatever happened to Bob and his wife regardless of what the end looked like in this situation.

First and foremost, where was God when Bob and his wife had the accident? How could no one see this? Why are so many people apparently blind to the real situation going on here? Why does this point never even cross their minds? Oh, sure… God gives us free will…. OK, Bob crashed on his motorcycle and got what he deserved. Where are the folks complaining about motorcycles and their inherent risk? No, the prevailing attitude among my wife’s friend circle was to pray to a “Celestial Dictator” to intervene in saving Bob and his wife’s life. What does save Bob look like here? Well from my perspective, there are many ways an individual can look at the situation and get confirmation of God’s blessings in this situation to “Save Bob”. In all situations, God Wins.

Option-1 Bob Lives – In this option, Bob and or Bob’s wife live after the accident and all is good with the world because God saw fit to let them live. The all Loving and Merciful God at work. God Wins. (which in my mind also indicates he was somehow involved in the accident which I won’t discuss here)

Option-2 Bob lives and struggles the rest of his life. Well in this case, God saw fit to save his life so he can be an inspiration to others moving forward.
The all Loving and Merciful God at work. God Wins.

Option-3 Bob dies. In this case, God called Bob home and he’s now happy in heaven with his heavenly father. He’s frolicking with his relatives and it was clearly his time.
Loving and Merciful God at work. God Wins.

As can be seen in the above examples, there is no scenario in the minds of the faithful at which point God loses. He is all powerful, all knowing, and all merciful. How can he possibly be at fault for anything bad that happens here on earth?

Although this is not an exhaustive examination of what went down in the story of Bob, it does lay out my initial thoughts when it comes to how and why living with people of “Faith” is driving me crazy on a daily basis. What may come from this, for me, is a creative and I believe constructive way for people to sincerely examine what’s going on in their lives and view it through a new and hopefully better prism. My goal is not to deconvert folks from their faith as much as assist them in analyzing all the available options so some real thinking can take place. Maybe God should lose once in a while. Maybe when folks realize God plays no part in our day to day lives, they can purge supernatural thinking and add rationality to their daily lives.

Moving foward, I intend to visit this site often to contemplate and document situations I see and hear about in my life, the lives of my family, and in the news. Hopefully someone will be helped by viewing the other side of what I call HGWTGW.

On the Topic of “Sin”

The concept of “Sin” has been around for a very long time. Growing up in a Catholic household, sin was one of those things that went hand in hand with “Guilt”. These two words are largely synonymous for most Catholics. Sin is something that goes against “God’s” wishes and pisses him off. In the Catholic world, there are really two classifications of sin that any young Catholic learns at a young age. For a Catholic there are Venial sins and mortal sins.

A “Venial Sin” is a relatively slight sin that does not entail damnation of the soul. Venial sins must be reported later to the priest as soon as you can to gain forgiveness from God.

A “Mortal Sin” is a grave (no pun intended) sin that’s so severe, if you don’t confess to a priest before your death, you most likely will spend eternity in hell. Wow, sounds serious doesn’t it….

Sins are a big deal to Catholics and with this type of mindset toward “Sin” it’s no wonder most all Catholics in good standing with the church carry around huge amounts of guilt. How would it be possible to not carry guilt when from a young age Catholics are taught they are sinners who need to be forgiven by a priest first and then God?. To add insult to guilty injury, the list of Mortal sins endangering your soul just got a whole lot bigger. In the last few years, thanks to the Pope and the Vatican, the newly overhauled list of seven added several more to cope with the age of globalization.

The newly added sins are aimed at those who undermine society in far reaching ways, including by taking or dealing in drugs, polluting the environment, and engaging in “manipulative” genetic science according to a recent “The Times of London” report.

Also new to the list are pedophilia, abortion, and social injustices that cause poverty or “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few”. These added sins join the long-standing evils of lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride as mortal sins – the gravest kind, which threaten the soul with eternal damnation unless absolved before death through confession or penitence. Supposedly, the Pope lamented the “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “secularized world,” and falling rates of Roman Catholics going to confession, The Times reported. According to the head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican body which oversees confessions and plenary indulgences, said after a week-long Lenten seminar for priests that surveys showed 60 % of Catholics in Italy no longer go to confession.

There is now a belief in the church that sin now has social resonance. One church official said, “You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbor’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos.”

With this being said, is it any wonder Catholics carry around huge baggage when it comes to Sin? It appears to me, “Sin” is something created by man to control people, and get them to church to confess their sins to priests, drive up attendance to mass, increase the collection plate tally ea. week, and keep people in perpetual fear and guilt.

I’ll close this with two stories that hammer home Catholic guilt.

1) My oldest sister told me recently when she was going to Catholic school as a youngster, the nuns and priest stressed the importance of not sinning. Per her, “One sin, the kissing of boy, was considered a venial sin up to 3 seconds… The rub was, it turned to mortal sin AFTER 3 seconds… so, one 1000, two 1000, three 1000… she counted ea. time. This is why I was in the confessional every Sunday because we never stopped at 3 seconds.” She still 60+ years later remembers kissing a boy and counting during the deed so as to break away from his embrace in time to avoid sinning. Like the expectation of the category “Venial Sin”, it was almost impossible to live up to Catholic doctrine and expectations.

2) One weekend while attending mass with the family, I was looking particularly dapper standing next to my father. During the service, I evidently was rattling the coins in my pocket (out of shear boredom I suspect) when my father hauled off and slapped me across the face. His words that followed slammed home the meaning of “Sin” in my family and how closely we adhered to the church’s ordinances. My dad’s slap was followed by the simple words, “Stop showing off”. I can say with 100% confidence some 50 years later, the idea of showing off the large quantity of coinage in my pocket never crossed my mind at the time. And yet, as of this writing I still remember the guilt and pain I felt for offending my father and God in that moment.

It appears the Catholic church is seeing a decline in the number of people viewing “Sin” as something the church, (vis-à-vis God’s newly chosen) can determine. As much as the Catholic church wants to add more “Sins” to their list. I for one call bullshit on the entire concept of “Sin”.

I submit, “Sin” doesn’t exist and neither does the God who supposedly gives two shits about it. If we can remove the concept of “Sin” from our life, we can begin to live an authentic and fulfilling life free from undue guilt and anxiety. Give it a try.

Implication Costs

I’ve noted in earlier posts a book by Neil Rackham called “Spin Selling”. One significant aspect of this selling technique is the idea of Implications to Change. This post will apply this idea to changing one’s position on a belief in a god and the severity belief of Covid-19 in the United States.

The current Covid-19 pandemic looks to be very serious and worthy of concern. Here are the current stats both in the U.S. and Worldwide as of April 15, 2020 (the date of this writing).

Covid-19 statistics as of 4-15-20 at 10:45AM

In the U.S., between April 2009 and April 2010, the CDC estimates there were 60.8 million cases of H1N1 (aka: swine flu), with over 274,000 hospitalizations and nearly 12,500 deaths — that’s a mortality rate of ~ 2%. The numbers above indicate the mortality rate of Covid-19 is significantly higher than that of the H1N1 pandemic from a decade ago and sits currently at 4.2%. So, is the Covid-19 pandemic we’re experiencing a serious issue? In some ways, it depends on your mindset and the implications of believing in things without evidence.

A belief in a God is not something humans are born with. We as people are indoctrinated largely into the religion (God belief) of our parents and likely their parents, and so on. Agreeing to participate in a doctrinal religion as a child isn’t much of a choice. If you want to live in the house of your parents, the average person would go along with their religious upbringing to get along. Why rock the boat if someone is paying for your food and housing right? Most people wouldn’t even think of questioning at an early age. The implications of doing so could prove deadly if you were forced onto the streets because you denied the savior of your parents. Thus, the implications of denial at this stage are significant and often cause severe risk aversion. As someone grows older and starts a family, much of their religious upbringing often forms the type of spouse one seeks out. If Christian, I think it’s fair to say most religious people seek out other like-minded religious people for their love interests. Once this hook is set in motion and a marriage happens, it’s even harder to jettison one’s faith. Add kids to the mix and the hook is set even deeper. The larger point here is, the further down the rabbit hole of religion one goes with family, friends, social cohesion, and co-worker, the greater the implications to oneself and one’s family should they exit their belief in a Supernatural God. This is precisely the reason most people fake it to make it.

In the case of the latest Covid-19 Pandemic, there is a strange situation going on in the United States that’s eerily similar to a belief in a God. It appears there are two schools of thought when it comes to the reality of this virus. One is the thought of the Religious Right and the “Fake News” crowd. The other is reality-based as witnessed by the actual virus numbers. Across this country, the folks who lean more to the political right are touting how this latest virus is no more deadly than any other virus and how the country should get back to work. The reality-based camp on this is attempting to do the least amount of harm and suggest the social distancing is working and should continue until things truly get better and it’s safe to leave our homes and interact again with one another. There is little doubt Covid-19 is highly infectious and even those who are asymptomatic can still transfer this virus quite easily to others without knowing it.

For those on the religious right who want to open up the country again, having a different belief as to the severity of this virus is tribal. Many of them associate with family and friends who share their ideological beliefs when it come to the severity of Covid-19. Should they switch their views and espouse continued social distancing, the implications to them personally and even professionally could be jeopardized. This tribe of thinking is not easily swayed from their belief structure and highly unlikely to move from their positions.

For those viewing the Covid-19 crisis through the lens of facts, figures, reality, and espousing continued social distancing, changing one’s views to the Religious right’s position would also have possible severe social and professional implications.

So who is right and who’s wrong on this issue? Only time will tell as the death toll continues to rise. One thing for sure, the reality of the situation will present itself regardless of ones beliefs. The question truly comes down to this, how many lives are worth saving and at what cost is this reasonable? Let’s not forget the implications of changing one’s views on this as we engage in conversations with folks about the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic. We all need to be mindful of the actual costs associated with changing one’s perspectives.

Should we Always be Kind and Helpful to Others

I’ve recently had numerous conversations with some friends about the topics of being kind and helpful. Should we always be kind and helpful to others? In the strictest sense, yes, we should always be kind and helpful to others. The real question is, how best should we show kindness and helpfulness to others. This isn’t just in the words we choose to say, the silence we choose to reply, or the actions we choose to take. For the longest time, I’ve sheltered and nurtured the Gateway Belief that whenever someone needs help, it is my responsibility to help them, however explicit or veiled the request. As will be made self evident, i no longer believe this to be true.

The “Old Me”:

In the past, I’ve literally had thousand of situations present themselves where i had to make a quick decision as to the best way to be kind and helpful. Some examples are worth presenting here:

  1. Person standing on the corner begging
  2. My kids want money
  3. Anger and frustration expressed by someone over a situation at home
  4. Anger and frustration expressed by someone over a situation at work
  5. Someone challenging my lack of belief in something

Let’s address each of these head on and how the “New Me” handles this now.

  1. If a person chooses to stand on the street corner and beg for food or money, this is a personal choice on their part. I have a personal choice when I decide to either give them free stuff or not. Whether or not I feel guilty about my decision is completely up to me. If I have a Christian worldview, I may or may not harbor guilt for my decision. Feelings would largely come from how serious I take my theology and who I’ve been listening to for guidance. Some folks see it as religiously justified to stiff or judge panhandlers as lazy and ultimately stiffing them is what “God” would look down upon and expect of them. Others would view it as un-Christ like to walk away and not help people in need. For me, whether or not I help someone physically begging for food or money is a decision to be made in the moment and nothing to feel bad about. I’m not a practicing Christian or even posses a believe in anything Supernatural. For me, there is no Heavenly Dictator judging me or my decisions. I have a choice to make in helping a panhandler and I can live guilt free making a decision in this regard on my own. When i was a believer in the Supernatural I had the “Gateway Belief” I was being judged all the time by some heavenly being who was keeping records on both my thoughts and deeds. Wow, It’s truly liberating to have shed this way of thinking.
  2. When and if my kids ask for money, the old Dad in me would feel guilty if I had money to give and chose to be stingy with it. Most parents harbor some element of guilt if and when a situation like this occurs and they choose to not indulge their kids requests. My sister had a child addicted to Opioids and I can tell you, there were many a time she wanted to help her son and had to say, No I can’t help you. It wasn’t from a position of not wanting to help. Almost always these decisions are made from a position of doing the least harm to your child in the long term. As another analogy, when the brakes on my son’s car started screeching, I could have given him the money he asked for to have them fixed, or I could do what I did instead, I suggested he work with me to fix the brakes on his car. I suggested also he stand by me to learn so next time he is low on money he will think twice about a possible better alternative. Once again, my old Gateway Belief of always having to give into my kid’s needs is now superseded with a much better view of the situation from a overall best way to help approach.
  3. I’ve now been married 32 years and have had both my ups and downs in my marital relationship. One thing my wife and others in my life have done for years is apply passive aggressive tone and rhetoric to their every day life in an attempt to have me “Fix” whatever the situation is. Generally speaking, there isn’t much either electrical or mechanical I can’t fix. As such, I’m the go to guy for most of my immediate and extended family for any fixes needed. At a wedding this past weekend, my sister expressed concern that my brother, who had agreed to take our 96 year old mother home after the wedding, might be leaving later than our mother wanted to leave and that someone should talk to our brother about it and rectify this concern. The old me would have had the Gateway Belief that resolving issues like these is always my responsibility. The new me said the following to my sister: “I think the person who has this concern should venture over to our brother and express their concern” She probably thought this was extremely forward and rude and yet I now know this is likely and precisely the correct reply to a comment of this type. It’s not my responsibility to resolve others concerns unless a person makes a coherent and compelling case as to why I should give two shits about what they feel is concerning.
  4. When anger is expressed at work over a situation or viewed situation, the old me would always want to jump in and resolve whatever the issue. The new me in the work place is much like the new me in family relationships. If I don’t have a vested interest or concern as to outcome, why should I expend my thoughts and energy in resolving the problem or perceived problem? The answer is I shouldn’t.
  5. If someone challenges my personal views or lack there of, the old me would have tried to vehemently justify my position and why. This Gateway Belief is now discarded and it has truly made my life more interesting and fun. Because of my long held belief that what I think matters to others, I almost always shared stories and anecdotes to justify what I believed and why I believed it. If someone wants to believe something fervently, they have every right to do so in the ole’ U.S. of A. If someone wants my opinions, all they need to do is ask me and I’ll share my positions freely. I’m what I call an Asupernatural Atheist. As such, I have no belief in anything Supernatural or any Gods. I needn’t justify my lack of belief in something anymore than those who lack a belief in Thor or Zeus. Again, I can be kind in simply not engaging in discussions about my positions if I have concerns over how it will be handled. Saying nothing about how I feel might be the kindest thing I can do in a given situation.

All this being said, being kind can come in many forms. Being helpful is subjective and open to personal interpretation. Is it possible to be helpful by doing nothing? I believe the answer is Yes, if done kindly.

Dying with Dignity

What does dignity mean in today’s world? I believe dignity is adequately defined as “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect “. As I look back on my life from just five years ago, and before my deconversion from Christianity, I find solace in knowing I’ve made significant progress in becoming the man I want to be. A man who stands by his convictions and makes decisions based on his own internal moral compass, not the unassailable dogma of the Catholic church. The way that I define my life has changed since my deconversion, and I hope these new-found definitions are used some day at my eulogy. I sincerely hope my rotting corpse is not subjected to someone saying, “He was a religious man and supporter of the faith.” This would be a lie and a stain on the life I’m now trying very hard to nurture. This may sound crazy, but to many, I would be viewed a heretic. If a heretic is defined as not conforming to established attitudes, doctrines, or principles, then sign me up. I am a proud heretic. If I am not true to myself, and transparent in my beliefs, then I won’t be able to die with dignity.

When my children were of impressionable ages, I was, by all outward signs, a practicing Roman Catholic because I was raised in a Catholic family and this was the only practice I knew. The Catholic church was my Gateway Belief. I was taught from a very young age the Catholic church was the oldest religion on earth and all other religions were cheap imitations: no other religious beliefs mattered because the Catholic Church the original Christian church. I do not recall a single conversation with my parents about the ills of the Catholic church, the Spanish Inquisition, or any of the other things I now find repulsive about the Catholic church. When growing up Catholic, my mind was a perpetual roller coaster ride between venial and mortal sins. According to church doctrine, even thoughts can be sinful as well. If you are not in a state of “Grace” in the Catholic Church, it’s a sin to receive Communion. Any good Catholic knows the difference between these sins and what a big deal it is to “Not” be in a state of Grace. As an ex-Catholic, and with 20/20 hindsight, I can see clearly that this antiquated way of thinking no longer plays a role in my life and I’m happier and far more fulfilled because of my choice to “Just Say No” to religion. In my opinion, it’s nearly impossible to live up to the requirements of the Catholic church. I refuse to live my life in constant fear of a made-up sin structure which determines my fate. How can I die with dignity believing in this concept?

Here’s a handy dandy chart to help you avoid Catholic sinfulness.

This is where the idea of “Catholic Guilt” comes into the picture. My dad was a very religious and spiritual man who raised eight children and instilled in us the Catholic values he deemed appropriate to live fruitful and productive lives. He was uber-Catholic, as is my 96-year-old mother to this day.  Both attended church every day when I was growing up and my mother still does. I don’t resent them for indoctrinating me in the Catholic faith.  I do however, have the option of not repeating the cycle of dependency and delusion. It might surprise you to know, I haven’t visited my father’s grave since he died over 10 years ago. Does this make me a horrible person? In my opinion, it means I’m grounded in reality. I believe my dad is no longer in his human form and has left the Earth. There is nothing there to “visit”.

So, what is the takeaway from all this you may ask?

The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. However, in the case of humans, I have the hard belief that energy can be fully depleted. As I get older, I’m reminded of this every day as it’s getting harder and harder to maintain the energy to cope with life. Religious folks use this law to provide justification for a transcendence of one’s being to another plane. When I go, it will most likely be from exhaustion and a life well lived. Much like a battery, the energy within me will no longer be sufficient to run this thing called my body. I’m at complete peace with this idea. It is with confidence that I proceed until this time. Once my body is fully depleted of its energy, I have a firm belief my human energy and essence will live solely in the memories of those I leave behind.

When I die, I want my loved ones to remember how I felt about them and that they were important in my life. I want anyone I’ve ever wronged to know I’m truly sorry. I have a hard belief that my life is the only life I’ll ever live. I have a hard belief that my state after death will be what it was before I was born, i.e., nonexistence. And lastly, I want to exit Earth under my own terms.

My body will be handled in a certain way after death: likely in accordance with Catholic doctrine unless I specify otherwise. If there are any good body parts left, why shouldn’t I let them help others instead of rotting away? For me to die with dignity, I need to be dignified with all aspects of myself, including physical self. Now is the time for me to set plans in place for my demise. I don’t want any money spent on prepping my corpse for viewing, this seems utterly ridiculous to me. Why would I want beautiful flowers draping a lovely coffin?  Why would I want to be encased in cement and dropped in the ground for God’s supposed second coming? Instead, burn what’s left of me and discard the ashes back to the Earth. A recent article suggested there is a growing movement to compost the remains of humans like any other organic material.  This seems like a great idea to me as well. After my passing, I honestly won’t care whether my remains are cremated or simply composted: I’ll be dead no matter what.

When my body and mind finally give out one day from exhaustion and physical depletion, I want my actions to speak for themselves: “This man possessed both dignity and a keen sense of self-respect until the very end.”