(1) WOTF NEWS. Writers of the Future Contest quarterly finalist Benjamin C. Kinney has withdrawn his story and posted this statement on his blog:
Earlier this week, I received a phone call informing me that my final submission to the Writers of the Future contest (first quarter 2018) had been selected as a finalist. However, after contemplating the information1 that past winners have shared about the contest in recent weeks, I have withdrawn my finalist story from consideration.
I would not judge anyone for their past (or future) decisions to be involved in the contest, whether or not they act(ed) out of ignorance. After all, many writers – myself included – have long treated this contest as a normal fixture of our community. I hope my choice will help encourage others to reexamine that assumption.
For myself, no award is worth supporting an organization that has hurt and misused so many friends, fellow authors, illustrators, and human beings.
The blog post has links to some examples. In addition, I have heard private accounts of other (ongoing) forms of unprofessional and manipulative behavior by contest staff.
— Benjamin C. Kinney (@BenCKinney) April 19, 2018
(2) THE FIRST ONE IS FREE. Episode 1 of “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction” is free at iTunes.
(3) FANFIC AND HISTORY. The Organization for Transformative Works (the closest thing to a central hub for transformative works fandom) is currently running a membership drive, and has highlighted their Open Doors project for the preservation of fannish history: “Your Donations Preserve Fannish History!”
Have you ever gone back to look for a fic you read years ago and found out it’s disappeared from the internet? We’ve all been there. As fandom grows and years go by, countless thousands of fanworks disappear every day—entire archives go offline every month, and with them treasures are forever lost to fandom and future generations of fans.
That’s where Open Doors comes in! Open Doors is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), dedicated to preserving and archiving fannish voices. It works with the Archive of Our Own (AO3) to protect your old favorites from other places around the web. Your donations give us the resources we need to continue this work. In 2017 alone, Open Doors was able to preserve almost 43,000 fanworks thanks to your support!
(4) AUCTION OF ROLLY CRUMP COLLECTION. Gwynne Watkins, in “See Rare and Wonderful Disneyland memorabilia From Small World, Haunted Mansion, and the Enchanted Tiki Room Before It Goes on Auction Block” on Yahoo! Entertainment, says there is a big auction on April 28 from the collection of Rolly Crump, who was an animator and designer of Disneyland rides in the 1950s and 1960s.
I remember the flying saucer poster from the days when it was first in use.
(5) THE MANGA EXCEPTION. James Davis Nicoll isn’t always dialed up to 11 about unfinished series: “Halfway to Nowhere: On Enjoying the Narrative Journey”.
Like so many other readers, I am frustrated by interminable series that never end. I complain. Loudly. Publicly. In print (well, HTML). I do this because it’s the right thing to do. I may have a twinkling of a hope that some authors will wake up and conclude their series. But that hope is as long-lived as a firefly. Alas.
I do make an exception for works in which the destination is never the point, in which the goal is simply to enjoy the journey.
Take, for example, Hitoshi Ashinano’s classic manga series Yokohama Kaidashi Kik?. …
(6) OMAZE. Omaze features a chance to meet Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as the prize in its new fundraiser.
- Hang out with Emilia Clarke (the Mother of Dragons herself!) over lunch
- Get a sneak peek of what it’s like on the top-secret Game of Thrones set in Belfast
- Be flown out to Northern Ireland and put up in a 4-star hotel
Every donation supports the Royal College of Nursing Foundation.
The Royal College of Nursing Foundation provides vital support for the nurses, midwives and health care assistants who care for us and our families day in and day out. The Foundation encourages young people to join the nursing profession, funds education and training opportunities, lends a hand to those struggling to meet the rising cost of living and provides advice and support to get their lives back on track.
A funny video of Emilia Clarke trying to spill the beans:
…Watch Daenerys Targaryen’s behind-the-scenes tour of Game of Thrones! Spoiler: Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) may or may not make eyebrow-raising cameos.
(7) COMICS SECTION.
- John King Tarpinian forwarded Brevity’s Hollywood-inspired dinosaur pun.
(8) ROBOPROF. They haven’t taken over the teacher’s job….yet! “Robots are helping pupils to learn in Finland”.
Elias, the new language teacher in a school in southern Finland, has endless patience for repetition, never makes a pupil feel embarrassed for asking a question and can even do the “Gangnam Style,” dance. Elias is also a robot.
Elias is a language learning solution comprising a humanoid robot and mobile application, currently being trialed in a year-long pilot program at alongside a maths-teaching robot at a primary school in Finland’s third-largest city.
The robot can speak 23 languages and is equipped with software that allows it to understand students’ requirements.
(9) EPISODE RECAP. Daniel Dern says:
Episode 3 of Netflix’s Lost in Space comes remarkably close to where one of the characters could say (with alarm), “Our hovercraft is full of eels!”
(Close, as in, not a hovercraft. Or even a Lovecraft.)
(10) HERE’S TO YOU, MISSING ROBINSONS. Geek Interviews delivers an “Interview With The Robinsons.”
The cast of Netflix’s Lost in Space might be lost in the show, but in reality, they are pretty well-versed in pop culture and could navigate around the many questions we tossed at them. Geek Culture caught up with the stars of the Robinsons family in Tokyo, consisting of Toby Stephens, Molly Parker, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, and Maxwell Jenkins.
(11) ANON. Trailer for Anon coming to Netflix.
Sal Frieland is a detective in a world with no privacy or anonymity; where everyone’s lives are transparent, traceable, and recorded by the authorities; where crime almost ceases to exist. But in trying to solve a series of murders, Frieland stumbles on a young woman known only as the Girl. She has no identity, no history and is invisible to the cops. Sal realizes this may not be the end of crime, but the beginning.
(12) THE PRO CIRCUIT. The BBC covers “The harsh realities of being a professional ‘girl gamer'”.
Trolls told Leahviathan to “get cancer and die” and made rape threats because she promoted a game they didn’t like. She is pragmatic: “They bother me, but I know by and large, they’re not real. I try to just separate them from the reality of what I do.”
It’s imperative to learn how to cope with the scale and intensity of the vitriol that can sometimes be experienced. Ignoring trolls and refusing them the attention they crave is a key strategy. Alternatively, calling their bluff and trolling them back in a positive way often helps defuse the situation. Leahviathan also has a moderation crew who help manage abusive comments.
Leahviathan doesn’t reveal her surname or where she lives, which is quite common for live streamers. It’s important to preserve a little bit of privacy.
(13) HUSH-A-BOOM. “The return of a secret British rocket site”. Maybe not that secret as they were testing engines, which would have been noisy; now, noise reduction is part of the research program.
… Originally a World War Two training base for bomber crews, RAF Westcott became the Guided Projectile Establishment in 1946, and was renamed the Rocket Propulsion Establishment (RPE) a year later.
One of RPE’s initial roles was to study seized Nazi rocket planes and rockets – like the Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet, the V1 Doodlebug and the V2 ballistic missile – and also learn what they could from captured German rocket scientists, some of whom stayed on as employees and worked at the site until the 1960s. “As an apprentice at Westcott I well remember seeing a V2 rocket in its trailer, a Messerschmitt Komet and a Saunders-Roe rocket plane,” says Ed Andrews, a Westcott veteran who now helps look after the historic site.
…In addition to such safety concerns, Westcott’s new rocketeers will have new environmental concerns to worry about, not least because the site is a bit of a wildlife haven – with kestrels, rabbits, deer, red kites and bats amongst its occasional inhabitants. “We have had to relocate some bats from some old buildings to make sure they are kept happy,” says Mark Thomas, chief executive of Reaction Engines.
“We’ve also done a huge amount of work on noise reduction. The five-metre-high wall around our Sabre test stand is for noise suppression and we expect a remarkably low level of noise as a result. But tests will only run for short periods in any case,” says Thomas. That’ll please the neighbours: former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s country pile is next door.
Whether British-based rocketeers can create a resurgence at Westcott remains to be seen. But at least they now have a chance. Just last week Reaction Engines secured a massive £26m ($35.9m) investment from aircraft and rocket maker Boeing and jet engine maker Rolls-Royce….
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Where Did Time Travel Come From?” on YouTube, the Nerdwriter traces the origin of time travel stories to Charles Darwin and the nineteenth-century utopian romance.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Meredith, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Danny Sichel, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Kendall on April 20, 2018 at 7:26 pm said:
Thank you; I do my best, but I do overlook things. And even being the WSFS division manager of the current Worldcon and one of the maintainers of THA.org doesn’t assure that we’ll get things perfectly coordinated.
The Worldcon 76 Hugo Awards page is updated with the end-of-voting date. The ballot will be up in a few days. We’re working on finalizing the paper version (which goes into the next PR and has a looming deadline), after which we can move on to posting the online version.
Lately, I’ve started attending services at the Church of St. Coltrane. I would describe their approach as using Free Jazz as a direct appeal to our better natures, bypassing overly sectarian doctrine.
Wow! I’ve always wanted to visit the Church of St. Coltrane. His late-period work speaks to me so it would be a blast to see a service.
@P J Evans: interesting — although someone “in fandom since the 1960’s” isn’t a first-hand source; Bester tells about Campbell pushing Scientology (or maybe that was before the wrapper had been put on Dianetics) at a story conference for “Oddy and the Id” (1950 — the year the first Dianetics book was published, per Wikipedia). I suspect it’s like the de Camp story, which I’ve heard placed at various conventions — all the primary sources are dead and the little written material is obscure-to-ephemeral, so we’ll never be sure we know the truth.
@Rob Thornton: They always welcome visitors—in the services I’ve attended, I’d estimate that 30%-50% of the congregation were visitors.
@Benjamin C. Kinney: It’d be great if the SFF community stopped normalizing it! I don’t expect this to happen, though. Locus covers it; instead, SFWA’s “Writer Beware” should cover it. The contest is like a parasite attached to SFF, IMHO.
Since I kind of raised and waved my hand: I’m best described as an agnostic theist – I believe there’s something out there which had an active part in making the universe, I believe it is bigger and more numinous than us, I believe it is conscious of us and would like us to do well, but does not control us. it does not need worship but accepts worship in several different incomplete, faltering and reaching shapes humans have applied to it, and prefers they use what’s comfortable to them, so long as they do so with the sincere intent to make life better for those around them.
I can’t produce proof and I admit it.
I think trying to make other people believe in what they don’t believe in, or something different from what they do believe in, is one of the worst usages of a religious person’s time, and if they really want to convince people of their goodness, they should do the good things without mentioning God(s) unless asked directly. I know other people of my faith, including within my very church (Which is pretty open-minded as churches go), would disagree to at least some extent, though they do get big on putting your money where your mouth is and finding ways to help or speak out or otherwise do good.
I’ve tried atheism and it just does not fit my sense of something both numinous and greater than ourselves in the universe.
I’ve tried personal spins on paganism and other ways to approach that numinous thing, and they fall flat (though i have – since coming back to being explicitly Christian – participated in a Wiccan ritual and found it appropriate and respectful).
I’ve talked to Muslims and Jewish people, atheists, agnostics and Pagans, I’ve been in a Hindu temple. None of them fit me, even the ones whose appeal I could recognize. (And I can tell the Church of Coltrane would do nothing for me.)
I started in a Roman Catholic family, and a Roman Catholic church, and its forms are even more familiar and comforting in their ritualism than those of my current church, but I cannot bring myself to embrace its specific beliefs, which makes the rituals more hollow.
Yet. I keep ending up being drawn back to the stories and sermons recorded after the fact about a probable person who lived near Jerusalem, died right by there, and is believed to have been resurrected there, and said some very amazing things – even as I sometimes disagree with what several after-his-time followers say, including some whose opinions feature prominently in the same book.
I’ve also found a community there which I find mainly welcoming (But then again, there are reasons I go to a cash-shaky publicly-affirming church in a neighbourhood where social justice often means “Help the neighbour right here and now standing in front of you, because he really really needs it.”)
I also explore ideas of faith in my own fiction, not by sermonizing about Christianity, but by exploring other aspects, good and bad, through people who worship of deities who *do* get to be seen and felt by their followers (where an older meaning of atheist gets to be resurrected, so to speak: the person who knows/believes the god is real, and is pissed off at it, and refuses to worship it because *it doesn’t in his eyes deserve worship*.)
I also, incidentally, refuse to believe in hell. (I did like one Catholic Nun’s comment: “I am obliged by my faith to believe Hell exists. I am not obliged to believe anyone is in it.”)
If I were founding a religion, my take on heaven and hell would be that after death you are forced into contact with the presence of the deity. And if you are harmonious with deity, then that is pleasant; and if you are discordant with it, then it is torture. And for some, maybe most, they are mostly harmonious but partly not; and the parts that are not come to change after a time. So the glorious light of heaven, the tormenting fires of hell, and the refining fires of purgatory are all one and the same.
I thought of this myself, but I know for a fact that others anticipated me. I don’t think it’s actually true, mind you: but I find it much more elegant than the usual scheme.
Huh. Wiki cites 2001 as its first coinage, which… man, I wish Google had a better reach back into pre-millennial usenet, because I’m pretty sure I coined it independently before then
The intent was more providing a data point for how long that version has been around.
Lost in Space:
I never saw the original series in my childhood, so have no misty nostalgia for it. I have seen episodes only in the last few years as it has been airing on MeTV. My opinion is that it is some of the most low-brow redeemable garbage that I’ve ever watched, yet somehow manage to continue watching it just to see how awful it can be. I also watched the movie (without having seen a single episode.) So that’s my background coming into the new series, which I finished a couple of days ago.
My opinion on the new series: the science is really awful, but it is merely Star Trek The Next Generation awful, not the “reach the bottom of the barrel then drill through the bottom of the barrel and start tunneling towards the mantle” awful of the original LiS. The 10 episodes are pretty much a single arc with little filler. The characters are more filled out (and played more seriously) than in the original, especially Penny and Judy.
This is a cut/paste of something I said on another site:
Chip Hitchcock: The straight claim is repeatedly attested but those may also come from a single report being spread. OTOH, the claim is characteristic; Hubbard may well have written 35,000 words in a week, but he appears to have been a con man from very early
At a Worldcon some years ago I staked out a table at the hotel bar, which was gradually filling up, after the closing ceremony. It got to the point where mine was the only table not full, and an old guy who came in asked if he could sit with me. I said “Sure!” and started chatting with him. His name was Art Widner. Pretty soon several other older gentlemen trickled in and sat with us. I found myself at a table with not just a member of First Fandom, but several much-published, much-awarded SF authors whose names I recognized and who proceeded to tell interesting stories.
Of course, all of them had known Heinlein. One of them related the story that Heinlein had told him that he (Heinlein) had gotten LRH to admit that Scientology was just a big con that LRH had cooked up to see if it would actually work, that LRH had used that one story of Heinlein’s as the basis for it, and that LRH thought it was hilarious that all these suckers were giving him millions of dollars and all of the nubile young women were shagging him.
I don’t know whether the bet story is true or apocryphal, but I don’t have much doubt that Scientology was a deliberate con job by LRH, who thought it was a grand joke to spring the whole Xenu thing on people who’d donated enough money and spent enough years being “cleared” to have developed a massive investment in the sunk-cost fallacy and not be able to allow themselves to walk away once the joke was sprung on them.
I have occasionally opined that if there exists a genuine Creator Deity, in the grand “made the entirety of reality” sense, it must be a pyromaniac and the proper worship ritual should involve fireworks. I mean, look at the cosmos: gobs of empty space, punctuated by tons of flaming orbs, with a bit of dust scattered around like garnish. Organic life isn’t even a rounding error, even if it’s as plentiful in every star system as it is in this one.
But then I usually go home and get some sleep, after which I entertain rather more conventional notions. 😀
@Cora: “This is also why I find the noisy American atheists so irritating, because they get worked up about what are IMO non-issues such as crucifixes, roadside shrines or nativity displays on public ground (pretty common here and I like them, since many are artistically interesting) rather than actual problems.”
Speaking for myself (as one of those occasionally noisy USAtheists), my issue with such things isn’t with the items themselves, but with the way they serve to perpetuate the harmful myth that the Christian faith has a legitimate role in our government. Hanging the Commandments in a courthouse tells non-Christians not to expect to receive justice there, and allowing nativity scenes on government land while forbidding displays from other faiths does the same thing. The only difference is that the latter communicates a more nebulous “you’re not welcome here” message, where the former is more direct and specific.
I still recall a particularly frothy letter to the editor (published in a local newspaper after a court ruled against a prominent “Commandments at the courthouse” display) where the author said people oughta get together and put the Commandments on billboards all around town, put ’em on signs in their yards, and other such “protests” to blanket the whole area in Decalogue displays. I wanted to find the guy and say, “Go right ahead! All of that’s private property; do whatever you want with it! If that’s how you want to spend your time and money, have at it.” I mean, I might roll my eyes at a lame message on a church sign, just as I might at a yardful of plastic pink flamingos, but it’s their property and their sign; that’s their freedom of speech. Why would I object?
Oh, hey, big ups to Benjamin Kinney (may many others follow).
Also BTDT sympathies to Mike and Contrarius.
@JJ: Everyone I heard it from, fan and pro, were also Heinlein pals, and some were also LRH pals. Heinlein didn’t just tell people that LRH did it to make money (RAH being a somewhat unreliable narrator of his own life); other people were *there* when LRH told Heinlein. At least once; as wordy and egotistical as Elron was, he might’ve said it to Bob on the regular, esp. in public.
Cora: To be fair, noisy US atheists are often fighting back against extremely noisy Christians demanding to be treated as a state religion. These are the people who started the war on Christmas idea and treating Season’s Greetings as a newfangled attack and not a phrase literally older than I am.
@Lenora Rose, very similar to my feelings, except I grew up Methodist.
@David Goldfarb, very elegant! I like it.
Wayside shrines are traditional in many parts of Germany and the rest of Europe and some of them are very old indeed. They were originally erected commemorate some kind of event (an accident, a murder, an execution) and to offer a travellers a place to pray. I view them as part of the landscape, much like war memorials. These shrines were intended primarily as an expression of faith and less a means of excluding people of other religions, though it is notable that when you pass from a majority Protestant area into a majority Catholic area, you often see wayside shrines and crucifixes marking an old border that hasn’t existed in centuries. Besides, wayside shrines are not an exclusively Christian thing. They also exist in Buddhism and Shintoism.
As for nativity displays on public land, many Christmas markets include a nativity display (here is a photo of a nativity display in the town of Vechta). I have no objection to this, because nativity displays are directly related to what is celebrated at Christmas, a lot more related than sausage and mulled wine stands.
As for whether displays of other religions would be welcome or not, the Bremen Christmas market has a large, electrically lit menorah placed right next to an electrically lit advent wreath. As for wayside shrines, the only non-Christian shrines I have seen in Germany were part of museum displays or parks. However, the Buddhist wayside shrines in the Bremen botanical garden – though intended as decoration for their plants of the Himalaya display – are used for prayer.
Regarding ten commandment displays in court houses, Bremen’s beautiful court house, built in the 1890s, actually displays the ten commandments on its facade. It’s not even the weirdest of the many ornamentations of the court house – the series of reliefs recounting the course of a criminal case from crime to execution, as enacted by puttos is infinitely stranger and more disturbing. Coincidentally, the only people who ever had a problem with the ten commandments on the court house and demanded that they be taken down were the Nazis, because – quote – “Jewish imagery has no place on a German court house”. So the president of the court had wooden boards placed in front of the panels with the ten commandments. In 1945, as soon as the war was over, the wooden boards were removed and the ten commandments have been visible ever since. During the latest renovations, the gilt writing was even renewed.
All of these public displays of faith are part of history and I have no issue with them. Besides, there are issues that are so much more pressing than tearing down crucifixes, e.g. the fact that the German state not just collects taxes for the churches, but also still pays them an annual compensation for church lands that were seized by Napoleon two hundred years ago. Or that the Christian churches are allowed to discriminate against employees based on religion and sometimes even lifestyle and not just for pastors, but also teachers in church-run schools and kindergartens, nurses and doctors and even cleaners in church-run hsopitals. Coincidentally, the state also pays the Christian churches for running those hospitals, schools and kindergartens in addition to church tax. And there are some towns where a Christian church is the only provider of schools, hospitals, kindergartens, care homes etc…, which is hugely problematic. Or how about the fact that shops, even if operated by non-Christians, have to close on Sunday with very few exceptions? Or that nightclubs, theatres, concert venues, funfairs etc… must close on Good Friday and even private parties are problematic to avoid offending Christian sensibiltiies, even if none of the people partying are Christian.
All of the above are genuine issues I would love to see tackled sometime, though I’m not holding my breath, especially since the courts usually tend to uphold these laws. A wayside shrine or a nativity display, on the other hand, is not an issue.
I consider myself a strong agnostic. I don’t believe it’s possible to know the truth about such matters, because of Clarke’s Law. Any sufficiently advanced alien can convince me they’re an actual god–by re-writing my mind, if nothing else. Therefore, I can’t trust any evidence on the matter.
I’m also what you might call a strong apathist. My belief won’t change the universe, so why should I bother to have an opinion? (Especially since I’ve already established that evidence is worthless.)
As for Pascal’s Wager? If some creature is going to punish me for innocently not believing in it, then in my opinion, that is an evil creature, and I would be forced to join the opposition. Which I’d rather not do, so until I have some reason to believe in such a god (see first paragraph), I’d rather just quietly ignore any such creatures and continue to not know and not care. 🙂
@Xtifr, agreed on Pascal’s wager. Any divinity I would want to worship would not punish someone for not believing religious stories, or for believing the “wrong” set.
There is a crucial difference between public spaces and public property that I believe may be getting lost in communication here.
I have zero problem with a mall or a market displaying a nativity scene, because although those are public spaces, they are privately owned and operated. That private owner has a certain right to express that preference, especially in such a relatively mild fashion.
By contrast, put that same display on public property, and it becomes a statement from the government, which does not have that same right.
As to the historical dimension, while I’m inclined to tolerate existing displays (like, fifty years ago or older), I have no tolerance for new “take that” installations.
Around here, we call those “blue laws.” I’ve seen considerable progress on that front in my lifetime – not as much as I’d like, but significant. Oddly, one of the biggest factors was when Walmart opened a store in town and determined that they wanted to stay open 24/7 instead of closing between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. There was some bluster on both sides, but the law got repealed fairly quickly.
The most recent local advances have been to permit wine sales in grocery stores. There are still restrictions on when it can be sold, but it’s still progress.
(Heh. Still progress. It’d be funnier if liquor was allowed, but it’s close enough for a chuckle.)
So I grew up in Louisiana where they do sell liquor of all types in the grocery stores. It was the normal way of things, to me: alcohol is just one more consumable among many. My husband, on the other hand, raised in Texas, found this so strange that he had to stop and take pictures in the Rouse’s Market. (Conversely, I was shocked to encounter a liquor store for the first time: a whole store dedicated to nothing but alcohol! How strange and decadent!)
I was here in Colorado when the law requiring liquor stores to be closed on Sundays went away. Good to see any movement on that front. Meanwhile, though, any movement toward allowing grocery stores to carry real beer and wine is opposed by the microbrewers and existing liquor stores who fear they won’t be able to compete. I respect those businesses, and I understand that any change to the economic ecosystem in which they developed is potentially a threat, but it still strikes me that being dependent on a legally enforced monopoly is generally not a good thing. Unless we’re talking about copyright, I mean. #I’mNotAHypocriteYou’reAHypocrite #OKMaybeIAmALittle
I admit that being raised in a different economical ecosystem ill prepares me to have a useful perspective here. But the microbrewers in Louisiana seem to be doing just fine, and even appreciate people buying their beers at the Rouse’s Market and other grocery stores. I dunno.
On religion: I am probably closest to Lenore in being an agnostic theist. My particular theism is Wicca, which means in my younger days I was constantly duking it out with the internet evangelists on one side (“Believe like us or you’re going to hell!”) and the internet atheists on the other side (“Disbelieve like us or you’re a stupid dupe!”). I’d retreat to the line “I don’t know and you don’t either!” and needle atheist proselytizers with the assertion that their atheism was pretty much a faith statement. But only the proselytizers, mind you.
Then I got a little older and ran out of energy for that sort of sparring.
I came to Wicca via asking questions about the Catholicism I was raised in and being dissatisfied in the answers. Then I came across one of Scott Cunningham’s introductory books and was amazed to see how closely this Wicca thing tracked with things I’d already independently decided I believed. Divinity expressing itself in all genders but belonging to none; no hell; afterlife notwithstanding, this world matters and not just the human bits either; reincarnation of some sort, details TBD; magic/witchcraft as a valid way of relating to/interacting with the world–there was a name for someone who believed those things, and other people in the world who believed them too! Or very similar things, anyway. How affirming!
The agnosticism comes in where I admit that I not only is it impossible to know whether what I believe is true, but that my beliefs are things I consciously decided to have. I have in me a need for the numinous, the spiritual, yes, but I consciously chose which stories to tell about it, how to relate to it. Which turns my faith into a sort of LARP, a big game as Let’s Pretend I decided to play with myself. It’s a story about the world that A. presents no conflict with, oh, science and progressive politics and consensual reality and shit, and B. it makes me happy to believe, or pretend to believe, so C. it’s all cool.
There are worse ways to arrive at a religion.
I still get annoyed with certain internet atheists who point to the latest white evangelical atrocity and say “THIS is why religion is evil stupid and wrong!” but I no longer have the energy to pop up everywhere and say “There are more religions than the one you’re complaining about and not all of them are shaped like evangelism or even Christianity, WE EXIST DAMMIT.” So I don’t.
Nicole said (clipped):
With you on all of that.
I’m really enjoying this conversation. Thanks for sharing, those of you that are comfortable. (Not expecting everyone to be comfortable, or have the energy for it.)
Rev. Bob: Statesboro was ‘dry’ when we lived there from 1981 to 1983. The whole of Bulloch County was dry, as far as I know. It didn’t concern me much at the time, as I wasn’t drinking anything alcoholic. They also had Sunday Blue Laws. The effect of the ‘dry’ business, apparently, was to concentrate fatal accidents between town and the county line as people drove away to load up, and had some on the way back.
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On my mother’s side of the family, my maternal grandmother was Catholic, but then she (gasp) married a Lutheran, and so her family essentially disowned her. In Germany, in the forties. Due to, among other things, this lack of family support, my mother nearly starved to death in her childhood, but an intervention by the Red Cross saved her. My father’s side of the family is also Catholic, but he was an atheist. So in my immediate family, we are all pretty much apatheistic (like that word!) It didn’t help matters that when my dad died, his sisters sat on our back porch praying rather than helping my mother. That was a culture clash!
Carry, Kerry, Carey, are all pronounced the same for me, as are caught and cot. But then I’ve been living in California since before high school.
One plus to being a military brat in Berlin was that my mom could and would send pre-teenage me and my sister down to the local corner store to buy beer. No problems at all. The biggest worry was crossing the six-lane boulevard to get to the local store.
Oops. Pronunciation was in the other thread…
@ Darren: I met the actor who played the original Don West at a con. He couldn’t resist making a sexist crack about the outfit I was wearing and then putting on the “Oops, did I say that out loud?” face. I didn’t respond, but it did make me decide not to buy his book, which I had been considering prior to that.
@ Rev . Bob: Exactly. And it’s not just atheists who complain about it. Were you aware that the last few “no mandatory prayer / religious education in schools” lawsuits were actually filed by Christians — who happened to belong to sects that are minorities in their local area, and who objected to their children being force-fed dogma from sects in major disagreement with their own? (Episcopalians vs. Southern Baptists in Mississippi is the one I remember most clearly.)
@ Nicole: And in Tennessee, it gets even stranger. Beer and wine cannot be sold in the same location with hard liquor, so it’s common to see a “package store” (beer/wine) next to a liquor store, both owned by the same people but completely separate both physically and financially. (This may have changed since I was living there 20 years ago.) Oh, and Jack Daniels is made in a dry county; I believe they had to petition for a special exemption to be able to provide samples for customers in their showroom.
We have a bumper sticker that says “Militant agnostic: I don’t know and you don’t either!” It’s never been one of our most popular, but it does have its market.
“@ Nicole: And in Tennessee, it gets even stranger. Beer and wine cannot be sold in the same location with hard liquor”
Ummm, I don’t know where you got this idea. It isn’t true, at least in the TN counties I’ve lived in (I’ve lived in three different counties in the state). I’ve lived in TN since 1969, with a 5 year sabbatical in Utah. I suppose it might have been true many years ago, but there were lots of weird liquor laws many years ago. (It also might help to point out that there are more than **90** counties in Tennessee, and each can have different liquor laws.)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen beer sold with either wine or hard liquor here, but wine and hard liquor most definitely can be sold together.
This part is absolutely true.
My favorite weird liquor laws are all in Utah, where liquor stores are all owned by the state.
@ Contrarius: It might very well have been a county thing, then. It was definitely true in Nashville, where I lived for 26 years.
When I lived in Orlando many moons ago (around the time I turned 21), they didn’t sell alcohol on Sundays inside the city limits. But outside it was fine. So there was one store near my house where I couldn’t, but at another just across the street I could.
@Cora (extending @Rev Bob): what happens when someone objects to theistic restraints on their conduct (e.g., not being able to buy booze on Sunday)? Has any progress been made in breaking religio-societal shackles on the non-religious? A few decades ago, my state fought all the way up to the Supreme Court for a law that gave churches veto power over booze sales (package and by-drink, IIRC) within 500 feet of their front door; the state attorney was required to present its case but said he’d never been happier to lose.