Chris Hayes wishes you a Merry Christmas or a Happy War on Christmas, whichever you celebrate.
Want to hang out with me for an hour on Friday night (8:30-9:30 EST) to celebrate life, the season, the non-apocalypse, and our heightened awareness?
This Friday on the Winter Solstice and just over 12 hours after the world doesn't end I would like to get together with those who I relate to the most. Please make sure you add me to your circle, and I'll add you back. Also RSVP to the event. If you need an invite please send me a message on Google +.
To keep the party fresh, maybe I'll show a relevant youtube video (or three) if we need. Do you have a favorite Solstice video? Maybe a video about the Mayan calender from a skeptics perspective?
Maybe you have a topic you want to discuss, or a question you want addressed? Please feel free to post below any videos, topics, questions.
More importantly... please show up.
There are a few stories about the amazing teachers who died protecting the lives of their students. I just wanted to take a moment to honor her.
This is Victoria Soto born 11/04/85. She was killed protecting her students in Newtown. She made her children hide in closets and in the bathroom and in doing so put herself in harms way. I will remember her and I honor her courage and dedication to the well being of her students. And unlike the person who I found out about this story from, I refuse to use her story to make a political point. I believe she deserves to be honored simply for what she has done. Her bravery goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Here is a snippet from the news:
Miss Soto, who had taught at the school for five years was described by one of her deeply distraught 10-year-old pupils as ‘really nice and funny’, was trying to shield her students and usher them into a closet when she came face-to-face with the gunman.
Miss Soto’s cousin, Jim Wiltsie, said: “She put herself between the gunman and the children and that’s when she was tragically shot and killed.
I'm back, ladies and germs...
...and a bit premature, but it's cool.
I got word from the other side that I would be returning home within two weeks and I had to settle up here, gather my reports, etc. Yeah, I had to really scramble for my trip.
So, first off, I had to go thank all the dignitaries for their hospitality. They thanked me for being so friendly to their culture and not causing any trouble. Also, for soaking up as much intel as possible so that others could know about this place and maybe learn a thing or two. They told me they know their way of life isn't perfect, but they live in a tolerant and mostly rational society. Sure, they have their problems, but what social order doesn't to some degree? I told them that I look at them and see a potential future for America if we pull our heads out of our asses. I said I'm not very optimistic and things look very bleak, whether we're religious or not and politically active or not.
I grew up in a home with a devout Christian mother and a father who was not religious. My father would rarely talk about religion, or try to discourage those beliefs, most likely out of respect to my mother. Most of my elementary school years were spent at a Christian school. During my early teen years I became rebellious and questioned many things authority figures told me including Christianity. With the help of a kind Christian man from my church I reconnected with the religion and began to really enjoy studying the Bible. I thought that if I studied it close enough I could find out the truth behind where we came from and answers to the big questions in life. I became very involved in church youth groups, played guitar in a band during church services, and even led bible studies later on.
During my college years my beliefs began to shift. The world didn't seem as black and white as before. There were many questions that Christians couldn't answer in a way that made sense to me. Questions like, "If Jesus is the only way to heaven, does that mean the people in the Americas before the 15th century went to hell?" This caused me to go on a search studying various world religions. I figured it was only fair to see what other religions had to say since I'd devoted so much time to Christianity. It all came to a head in early 2005. When I was downloading various audio files on the Internet about different issues, I came across a debate between creationist Kent Hovind, and biologist Massimo Pigliucci, on evolution.
The God question is one we constantly find ourselves both asked and asking. Does God exist? It's quite a tricky one, especially since there are so many possible answers to such a simply complex question. However, this question can be made much easier once one realizes that there is not one, but two questions here; the big question and the small question. The big question is whether or not there is any kind of being, sentient or not, which can be considered solely responsible for the creation of the universe and everything in it. The small question is the more specific form, the one which must be asked on a religion by religion basis. Once we determine the question being asked, the answer becomes quite clear. The answer to the small question is no. Gods like Zeus, Thor, Yahweh, Amun-ra et al. almost certainly do not exist. Their nature and deeds are mythologies invented by man. As for the big question, the answer is largely irrelevant.
There are some people from the red states that are currently having a public temper tantrum to secede from America. Why not let them? The red states are a drain. They have higher rates of homicide, infant mortality, suicide, and unemployment. They tend to take higher amounts of federal funds, they are less educated, less diverse, less tolerant, have a lower IQ, and are more religious.
I'm all for embracing America, I believe we should try to work together rather than divide. I would never propose a secession for my state when I am frustrated. When George Bush won as a result of fraud and the Supreme Court selected him in another election you didn't see me proposing we secede. I knew the damage he would cause, I was disgusted, I lived every day of those 8 years upset at who was in the White House. I lived every day of those 8 years fearful of what he would do next and sad about the extreme damage he was causing to this country. I did not propose a secession. Instead I fought to inform the public. And in doing so I'd like to believe that I played a very small role in ensuring that we have a better leader now. Now it's their turn.
I recently had an exchange with a Christian friend who was "disgusted" at the states that approved gay marriage. He believes the people who voted for it are "disgraceful." Christian disapproval of gay marriage was the impetus behind this open letter that will hopefully open the eyes of a few of my Christian readers.
Marriage was initially created by men many years ago to control women, at a time much more archaic than the time we live in now. It was created at a time that we would stone someone for being gay as well as for cursing at their parents. Many things have changed in society since marriage was first created. We now are able to traverse the planet to find a mate and no longer need to claim one within walking distance as our property. Today marriage is viewed much differently… so is stoning. In fact we are so far away from the original reasons behind the creation of marriage that nowadays it can feel like marriage is a means for women to control men.
The atheist community is firmly united in assisting a young girl who was brought up in a religious home that seeks to keep women uneducated and in the kitchen. Despite her parents refusing to help in any way she has dedicated herself to getting an education and saving her siblings from the same fate. Please "vote" for her essay about this to help her get a scholarship. As of my writing of this blog post she has twice as many votes as the second place entry, let's keep it up!
In her essay she states:
Then, I would love to create a safe-house where children of religious homeschooling families can come to improve their lives and future and have hope.
From struggling with poverty, to being unable to get a job without a resume or employment history, and often a substandard education; the children of the Quiverfull movement have extreme challenges to overcome. A home like this would be a safe platform for them to transition into the world without being abandoned to struggle. Many of their parents wish this difficulty for their children, saying it will cause them to return and be content with the party line. I want to create a buffer for the pain parents cause when they shun and disinherit their children for religious reasons.
Because there are more of us every day, and so much pain and heartache.