Here’s the latest from our friend Pamela Sutter, author of the e-book May the Farce be with You: A lighthearted look at why God does not exist. More to come.
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With one of the most painful years in memory behind us, and an upcoming year that seems certain to be worse, it’s time to imagine a better world:
See Sharp Press will publish new science fiction, anarchist, and atheist titles in 2017 and 2018. Here are the books we now have scheduled over the next two years. Work is underway on all of them, and we’ll publish samples from them in advance of publication.
We’ll likely add at least one or two more titles to this list. Among other things, we’re currently talking with the authors of The Drummer’s Bible about a possible new drum book.
Sinai, Egypt (API) — Authorities announced today that they had freed Jehovah (aka “Yahweh,” “God,” “The Creator of the Universe,” “The Maker of All Things”) from a cramped cell in a terrorist training camp where He had been held incommunicado for ten thousand years.
At his first press conference after his release, a gaunt, disheveled Jehovah told reporters that He was aghast at damn near everything that had been done in His name since His abduction at gunpoint at the dawn of agriculture.
Growing visibly more angry as He denounced abuse after abuse, the Deity paused in the midst of His diatribe to thunder, “Here! This says it all! Witch burnings and the Inquisition were bad enough, and boy they were bad!, but check out drawing and quartering!”
The enraged Creator paused and lowered His voice. “Doesn’t sound too bad, ‘drawing and quartering,’ does it?” His voice steadily rising, He explained, “What it means is they took some poor slob, some ‘heretic,’ hung him without snapping his neck until he almost asphyxiated, then cut off his dick and balls, and then disemboweled him —while he was still alive! They did this in My name!!”
Hanging his head in fury and in shame that He had been unable to prevent this, Jehovah looked up and growled, “And let’s not even get started on all of the shoddy fantasy and horror fiction they attribute to Me!” The Deity shuddered, and then with a malicious half-smile said, “Actually, let’s!
“The tough part is knowing where to start. The Torah, Bible, Quran, Book of Mormon? You tell Me!
“Let’s take something all of ’em take as Scripture, the Ten Commandments. Do you know where those things came from? Do you? They were a rough draft I knocked out on the third day of a five-day bender just to fuck with people, just to see if they’d be dumb enough go for ’em. I threw in a few good things to confuse the issue, but yeah, I wrote them to fuck with people.
“When I sobered up, I stuck them in a drawer somewhere and forgot about them. God knows how they found ’em.
“While I was sitting in that cell for all those years, I had plenty of time to think. I realized that I’m better than those ‘Commandments’ –again, sorry I wrote ’em!–and I came up with a new version that reflects what I actually think. I even wrote two extras!
“Frankly, these are all so obvious that I shouldn’t even have to mention them, but obviously I do; so, here they are, in pseudo-16th-century English, as people seem to like that”:
With that, the Creator of the Universe, rose and thundered, “Enough said! Is there anything about this you don’t understand?!” He glared at the assembled reporters and then stepped away from the podium and strode toward the exit, pausing only to shout over his shoulder, “But hey! Remember! The last one doesn’t apply to masochists!”
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(with apologies to whoever came up with the golden oldie about masochists and the golden rule)
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If you enjoyed this piece, you’ll probably also enjoy The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded). Here’s a large free sample in pdf form.
“Atheism is too strenuous an intellectual and spiritual test to become popular. Atheism is achieved, while current religion of whatever sort is received. It is more restful to take than to achieve.”
–A. Wakefield Slaten (1880-1944), quoted in The Heretic’s Handbook of Quotations
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This quotation reveals progress of a sort. Slaten lived a century ago when childhood religious indoctrination was nearly universal. Today it isn’t. Most children are still subjected to that form of child abuse, but a significant minority aren’t, even in the United States, the most religious and most barbaric of the western industrialized nations. Most contemporary atheists, at least in the U.S., were indoctrinated as children, but I know a number of second-generation atheists, something that would have been inconceivable in Slaten’s time.
Don Lacey, state director of the year (Arizona) for American Atheists, had a great idea and put it into practice. (We do not endorse American Atheists.)
Don’s insight was that the most important thing atheists can do is to build community, and have fun. And everything else will flow from that. (The AA hierarchy gave him an incredible amount of grief about this.)
So, Don started the Tucson atheist meetup groups a few years ago. Purely social groups, and they grew.
There are now about 1,300 members of the Tucson Atheist Meetup groups. Some have moved beyond the purely social and are doing good, everything from lobbying the legislature to picking up trash along the highways.
Would they have done it without Don’s initial push? I don’t think so.
Years ago, a friend of mine, Jon Russell, told me that social-change groups were doomed unless their activities were at least 80% fun. People would do the work after that.
Jon and Don were right.
I’ve been involved with leftist/anarchist and atheist groups for about 50 years now. The universal constants are that the internal dynamics are the same: joyless work is the raison d’etre for damn near all of ’em, and it’s the reason that damn near all of ’em fail. A big part of that is that the people into self-sacrifice almost invariably also expect others to sacrifice themselves.
This is what people joining atheist and other do-good groups typically face when joining: “Give up all hope ye who enter here. And don’t whine about it.”
Is it any wonder that people join atheist and other social change groups, hoping for something different, something better, and then leave in droves?
Don Lacey defied the leftist/atheist puritans, and founded the most successful atheist group in the country. A group based on voluntarism, on simple attraction, on voluntary cooperation — a group that gets things done, in contrast to damn near every other puritanical, self-sacrificing atheist group in the country.
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If you’re down here in Southern Arizona, please join us. You’d be a welcome addition. And if you’re not around here, please consider starting your own purely social Meetup group. Trust us. You’ll have fun, and you’ll get a hell of a lot more done than if you start a joyless, self-sacrificing cause-oriented group.