Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The scarlet letter

I have been eying Richard Dawkins' OUT campaign for some time. The scarlet letter is a marvelous symbol with delicious literary allusions. I should wear it proudly, and I have decided to put it up on this blog.

I was initially hesitant for several reasons.

The first reason is the unfortunate verbiage. OUT campaign sounds like a gay rights group. I'm not sure why Dawkins chose this name. It was not a good choice. Mathew Shepard was killed a few months after I moved to this little town in Utah. The community he was tortured to death in was not too dissimilar from the little town that sits outside my door, quietly blanketed with holiday snow. Gay rights activists have fought a sometimes loosing battle for justice and understanding that deserves, at this point in history, to be made special from other (even worthy) causes.

The second reason was the fear of inadequacy.  The statement "Just because something can be written in a grammatically correct sentence does not mean it is true" may be worthy and true.  Coupling my reasoning with my lazy editing style may work out to prove the converse.

I also do not want to entirely reform my lexicon in one fell swoop to be more accurate in spiritual-like matters.  I wish to be more concerned with talking about things than talking about how I talk about things.  The terminology of life is linked culturally to the terminology of the spiritual. To take the statement that “the Zen Archer is the bow, the arrow and the target” literally is laughable. To ignore the statement's message about shortcuts in mapping perception to action is to ignore a hard-learned lesson in directing human action. The Zen archer statement is incorrect and useful. I will probably use similar shortcuts in my descriptions of activities.

The reasons I do want to put up the scarlet “A are numerous. I appreciate the collective reasoning of the new atheism. I want there to be a better future for my kids and the morality and thoughtfulness of the atheists I have read and spoken with appears the purest force for developing it. There are many other reasons that I will save expounding on for the future.

The reason I wanted to do it now are fairly pedestrian. On December 15th the local newspaper published a syndicated column by the editorialist Daniel B. Kline. I'm not a big fan of Mr. Kline. He probably writes far better than do I, but his opinions are often limp-wristed and apologetic. His Deist-centric piece on his preference for keeping religion out of public schools was in no way objectionable. He did spend an inordinate amount of wordspace on espousing now culturally normal belief in a god is. But he is the sort of writer that, when he espouses, usually does so about things he thinks are normal. A real modern Norman Rockwell opinionsmith. That's surely why they reprint him in the local newspaper.

On December 20th (it is a biweekly paper ), on the letters page, there were four letters roundly criticizing Mr. Klines piece. They went so far as to threaten ending subscriptions because the paper had printed Mr. Klines opinion. Mr. Klines latest article was NOT printed where it would have normally been.

A sampling of the opinions follows:

“I can’t watch the very few who agree with him whine their way to destroying the important truths that, since the beginning, have been the glue which holds this great country together. It sickens me to see the decline of moral values, increase in crime and destruction, and general loss of hope that is creeping into the hearts, minds, and actions of Americans. An argument could easily be made that as these trends began to rise, our belief in God began to decline.” Aaron Spilker, Stansbury Park

“If, as Kline states, most Americans believe in God, then why must the majority bow to the minority professing secular religious beliefs?” Catham Beer, Tooele

“I love your paper, but I’m sick of the politically correct crap prevailing from the immoral minority. Wake up before you print that kind of garbage again. God will some day bring us down like other powerful societies throughout history.” Dave Brunelle, Stansbury Park

“The word is called faith. Faith in God is what gives everyone hope and a sense of well being. Kids need that.” Jan Wishart, Grantsville

This is a sampling not just of opinion but of the force that would silence dissent and enforce conformity. Atheists may be a minority but we are one of the fastest growing most intelligent and potentially powerful minorities in the US. We live amongst you and we are wear the faces of those you know and trust. I will put up the scarlet letter "A"!

Also, since this is a mostly anonymous blog entitled Adult Onset Atheist there is really nothing more to fear by linking in. I love grand, mostly empty, gestures of defiance.



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