Compassion and Abstraction

abstract photo

Abstraction gets a bad rep. It’s often seen as cold, calculating, divorced from emotion. But I’ve found the exact opposite. Abstraction is crucial to my ability to have compassion. Abstraction helps me step back from my own experience, and look at it in a bigger picture — a picture that includes other people.

Here’s an example. We’ve all seen progressives who are very skilled at critiquing oppression that affects them — and utterly clueless about ways they oppress others. We’ve all seen, for instance, white feminists go after men who derail conversations about sexism, focus the conversations on themselves and their hurt feelings, chide women for being uncivil and harsh, demand to be educated on demand about Feminism 101, argue arrogantly instead of listening, accuse feminists of being divisive, and pull out the “not all men” card. Then, in conversations with black women about racism in the feminist movement, those same white feminists will turn around and do the exact same things: derail, make it about them, argue instead of listening, say black feminists are being divisive, etc.

Abstraction helps me not do that. Continue reading “Compassion and Abstraction”

Compassion and Abstraction
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What I Want For My Birthday

birthday  photo

My birthday is today, December 31. Happy birthday to me!

If you’d like to get me something for my birthday, of course it would be nice if you’d buy one of my books. I’m author of five books: The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More. (All my books are available in print, ebook, and audiobook: all the audiobooks are read by me.)

all five books

But the main thing you could get me for my birthday would be to support one of the organizations I care about.

foundation beyond belief logo
Foundation Beyond Belief is the humanist charitable organization that channels donations and volunteering from secular people into on-the-ground projects doing good work. Among other things, we’ve funded Transgender Law Center, Center for Reproductive Rights, Ocean Conservancy, Innocence Project of Texas, Rainforest Foundation US, The Greening of Detroit — you get the idea. I’m on the board of directors, and I’m really proud of the work we do. It would mean a lot to me if you’d support us. Even small donations make a difference — they really do add up.

If that’s not up your alley, you could also donate in my honor to the Transgender Law Center, Red Light Legal, St. James Infirmary, Black Nonbelievers, or Black Lives Matter.

If you do this, please make a note with your donation if you can, saying “Happy Birthday Greta.” It will make them and me happy.

What I really want for my birthday, of course, is to stop the rise of fascism in the U.S. No one person can give me that, of course — but all of us acting together can make a dent. Please take a look at this list of things we can do to resist fascism, and do what you can. It’ll make this a very happy birthday for me, and a marginally less awful New Year for all of us. Thanks!

What I Want For My Birthday

“Someday you’ll get snake-eyes ten times in a row”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Roll a pair of dice long enough, someday you'll get snake-eyes ten times in a row. Live long enough, someday you'll have a month when your cat dies, your hard drive crashes, and you get pneumonia. It can feel like a pattern with a purpose -- but it isn't."

“Roll a pair of dice long enough, someday you’ll get snake-eyes ten times in a row. Live long enough, someday you’ll have a month when your cat dies, your hard drive crashes, and you get pneumonia. It can feel like a pattern with a purpose — but it isn’t.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 21, “Bad Luck and the Comfort of Reason)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of a pair of dice in “snake-eyes” configuration)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Someday you’ll get snake-eyes ten times in a row”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“A good life can mean many things”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"A good life can mean many things, and move in many directions. It doesn't have to constantly move forward."

“A good life can mean many things, and move in many directions. It doesn’t have to constantly move forward.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 48, “Atheist Thoughts on a Life Well-Lived”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to image of balloons floating in the sky)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“A good life can mean many things”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“It can be comforting to externalize evil”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"It can be comforting to externalize evil, to see it as something the bad guys do. But it's a false comfort, and a dangerous one."

“It can be comforting to externalize evil, to see it as something the bad guys do. But it’s a false comfort, and a dangerous one.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 9: “Two Different Ways to Be a Good Person”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above photo of cannons in field of grass with blue sky)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“It can be comforting to externalize evil”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Frivolous Friday: Reuniting the Beatles

The Beatles

Short tale about weird kid things.

I was eight when the Beatles broke up, and I was devastated. I mean, DEVASTATED. They weren’t just my favorite band: I’d grown up with the Beatles, I’d never lived in a world without the Beatles, and it had never occurred to me that they might not always be together.

So for a while after they broke up, I had daily fantasies in which I reunited the Beatles. With the help of Batman. The Beatles, Batman, and I would save the world in some way — usually by fighting some villain who was trying to destroy it — and in the process of saving the world, the Beatles would realize that they should get back together.

I’m tempted to write something schmaltzy and deep here, about how this showed some sort of character truth about me. Something like, “In a way, I think I’m still trying to reunite the Beatles and save the world, with Batman’s help.” But I think I was just a weird kid. Although maybe not so weird: I’m reminded of the bit in Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes, Please, where she describes her childhood game of pretending she was being chased by Russians. “I would pretend to wait until they were gone and then jump out of the leaves to get to the business of delivering the microchip into the hands of Pat Benatar.”

What was some of your weird kid stuff? Did you imagine saving the world with the help of celebrities and fictional characters?

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Check out what some of the other Orbiters are doing!

Frivolous Friday: Reuniting the Beatles

On Bubbles, Conservative Friends, and How Robert Reich is in a Bubble Of His Own

bubbles

Marginalized people aren’t in a bubble. Conservatism is the polluted air we breathe every day. Why do we have to be friends with people who spew it at us?

We’re often chided for living in bubbles. We’re told that we only listen to people who already agree with us, and that this narrows our thinking. We’re told that a willingness to have friends with different political views means having an open mind and an open heart — and that there’s something wrong with us if we aren’t doing that. Recently, politician and commentator Robert Reich voiced this idea on Facebook:

I have a conservative friend with whom I make a point to have lunch at least once a month. Why? I like him but that’s not the main reason. He makes me think. In forcing me defend my assumptions and ideas, he gets me to examine them more deeply. I hope I do the same for him. One of the biggest problems in America today is most of us live in ideological cocoons surrounded by people who think like us. Yet there is no better way to learn than to talk to someone who disagrees with you.

I don’t just want to pick on Reich here, though. This notion gets spouted a lot. And just off the top of my head, I can think of three major things that are wrong with it.

Wrong Thing Number One: Do you seriously think marginalized people don’t know what people think of us? Continue reading “On Bubbles, Conservative Friends, and How Robert Reich is in a Bubble Of His Own”

On Bubbles, Conservative Friends, and How Robert Reich is in a Bubble Of His Own

“Let’s celebrate our bodies”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"Let's celebrate our bodies as much as we do our minds. In fact, let's stop seeing our bodies as something apart from our minds."

“Let’s celebrate our bodies as much as we do our minds. In fact, let’s stop seeing our bodies as something apart from our minds.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 49, “Atheism and Sensuality”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed next to silhouette of person stretching in dance or yoga pose in front of sunset behind mountains.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Let’s celebrate our bodies”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“I’m trying to notice the world”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"I'm trying to notice the world around me, connect with it, and let it in. And prioritizing what's true over what I want to be true is an essential part of that practice."

“I’m trying to notice the world around me, connect with it, and let it in. And prioritizing what’s true over what I want to be true is an essential part of that practice.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 2, “Skepticism as a Discipline”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above silhouetted image of people watching the sunrise.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“I’m trying to notice the world”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

“Doesn’t experience get to just matter?”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

"At some point, doesn't experience get to just matter, simply because it matters?"

“At some point, doesn’t experience get to just matter, simply because it matters?”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 60, “In Praise of Frivolity”)

(Image description: above text, juxtaposed above silhouetted image of person dancing.)

I’m making a series of memes/ inspirational poster thingies with my favorite quotes from my new book, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life. Please feel free to share this on social media, or print it and hang it on your wall if you like. (The image above is pretty big: you can click on it to get a bigger size if you like.)

Way of the Heathen cover
The Way of the Heathen is available in ebook on Amazon/Kindle and on Smashwords for $7.99. The audiobook is at Audible. The print edition is at Amazon and Powell’s Books, and can be ordered or carried by pretty much any bookstore: it’s being wholesaled by Ingram, Baker & Taylor, IPG, and bookstores can buy it directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing. Check it out, and tell your friends!

“Doesn’t experience get to just matter?”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen