“Our world gets bigger”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Our world gets bigger when we let reality be what it is

“Our world gets bigger when we let reality be what it is.”
-Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
(from Chapter 1: “Caring About Reality: Why It Matters What We Don’t Believe”)

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.)

(Image description: a picture of the Earth seen from space, with the text, “Our world gets bigger when we let reality be what it is.” -Greta Christina, The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life)

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!

“Our world gets bigger”: Meme from The Way of the Heathen

Frivolous Friday: Buffalo Wings


Over at Almost Diamonds, Stephanie Zvan has a hi-freaking-larious review of ManCave brand bratwurst, Buffalo wing style with bleu cheese, in which she coins the word “portmanbro.” It reminded me of my very silly story about Buffalo wings.

Not much to it really. Just that when I first saw Buffalo wings on a menu, and for literally several years after, I did not connect them with the city of Buffalo. It did not occur to me even for a second that Buffalo wings referred to a style of preparing and serving chicken wings invented in Buffalo, New York.

Instead, I thought the term was meant to be a fanciful imagining of what buffaloes’ wings would be like, if they had them. I thought the joke was that if buffalo had wings, they would be tiny and vestigial. I thought the joke was that buffalo had evolved from birds, or possibly pterodactyls, and had evolved into large land-bound mammals who couldn’t fly, but they still had vestigial wings which didn’t serve any purpose for the buffalo — but which were delicious.

It reminds me of Mondegreens (comical mis-hearings of song lyrics or phrases). They often make less sense than the actual thing. Often our brains fill in missing information with the most obvious, readily-expected thing — but sometimes, they really, really don’t.

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: Buffalo Wings

Insomnia, and Falling Asleep as an Activity


The comment policy for this post is different from my usual one. It’s at the end of the post. Content note: passing mentions of depression.

There was a time when sleep was easy. It was so easy, I literally didn’t understand how it could be not-easy. I lay down at the end of the day, and in ten minutes I was asleep. It felt like pure, physical cause-and-effect: falling asleep at the end of the day was like falling down if I rolled off the bed. It just — happened. How could it not happen?

But age happened, and menopause, and post-trauma, and depression, and anti-depressants with a stimulant effect. Sleep got more and more elusive. At this point in my life, some degree of insomnia is no longer the exception — it’s the norm. And I had a realization a little while ago that’s been helping me deal with it:

Falling asleep is no longer something that happens to me. It’s an activity. It’s something I do.

I can’t just lie down at the end of the day and expect sleep to happen. If I lie down and let my brain do whatever it’s inclined to do, it will stay up until at least four in the morning. At best, it’ll think about blogging ideas, book ideas, self-aggrandizing fantasies, re-casting of favorite TV shows, movie mashups, social plans, to-do lists, made-up theologies — it’ll just generally entertain itself. At worst, it’ll replay its long litany of fears and regrets and worst-case scenarios. What it will not do is shut up and go to sleep. It wants to be awake.

So to fall asleep, I have to go through a deliberate series of mental techniques. Continue reading “Insomnia, and Falling Asleep as an Activity”

Insomnia, and Falling Asleep as an Activity

Quick Temporary Note About Comments

Because The Orbit is still new, and for various reasons related to that, I’ve temporarily set my comment settings so people who haven’t commented before will need to have their comments approved by me before they go up. I hope to discontinue this soon: in the meantime, please be patient if you post a comment and it doesn’t get posted while I’m asleep, in therapy, rubbing cat bellies, or otherwise engaged and away from my computer. I’ll get to it as soon as I can. Thanks.

Quick Temporary Note About Comments

The Orbit: Atheist Social Justice Blogging Site Launches

Here’s the official press release announcing the launch of The Orbit.

March 14, 2016

For immediate release

The Orbit: Atheist Social Justice Blogging Site Launches

A new atheist blogging site, dedicated to working on social justice both in and out of organized atheism, launches today. Located at the-orbit.net, The Orbit is being created by bloggers from all corners of progressive atheism, including the Freethought Blogs network, the Patheos Atheist channel, Skepchick, and independent blogs.

“The word ‘orbit’ resonates with what we’re doing, on many levels,” says Greta Christina. “We love the connection with science and astronomy, with Galileo and other heretics who changed the world — and we love the reminder that we all orbit something and none of us is the center of the universe.”

The Orbit is a diverse collective of atheist, humanist, and other non-religious bloggers who are committed to social justice, both within organized atheism and outside it. “It’s not just atheism that’s struggling with social justice,” says D. Frederick Sparks. “Organizations across the board are neglecting the needs of marginalized people, and aren’t willing to look at the ways they make those people feel unwelcome. We plan to be one of the outposts for social justice atheism — but also for social justice in every community we care about.”

Bloggers at The Orbit include Alex Gabriel, Alix Jules, Alyssa Gonzalez, Ani, Ania Bula, Aoife O’Riordan, Ashley F. Miller, Benny Vimes, Brianne Bilyeu, Chris Hall, D. Frederick Sparks, Dana Hunter, Dori Mooneyham, Greta Christina, Heina Dadabhoy, Jason Thibeault, Luxander Pond, Miri Mogilevsky, Niki M., Sincere Kirabo, Stephanie Zvan, Tony Thompson, and Zinnia Jones, with a lineup that is continuing to grow. “We’re extremely proud of our team,” says Tony Thompson. “They represent some of the strongest, most insightful voices in atheism.” The Orbit is structured as a collective, with all bloggers having a voice in decisions and contributing to day-to-day operations. The site is launching a Kickstarter campaign to cover operating costs and pay bloggers for their work.

The network plans to continue a friendly, collegial relationship with bloggers at Freethought Blogs, Skepchick, Patheos Atheist, and elsewhere. “There’s room for lots of blog networks and media sites in organized atheism,” says Luxander Pond. “This is a fast-growing community.” Recent major changes at Freethought Blogs provided many Orbiters with the impetus and opportunity to rethink what they wanted from a blog network. “Ultimately,” says Stephanie Zvan, “we decided to seize the opening to build something new, with a new structure and vision.”

More information is available at the-orbit.net/about-us. For media inquiries, contact Ashley F. Miller at [email protected]

The Orbit: Atheist Social Justice Blogging Site Launches

Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex, by Heina

Once upon a time, a veiled girl grew into a decidedly bare-headed young woman. As criticisms based on sexual pleasure were usually levied against, rather than by, the religious, she paid attention when religious folk criticized atheism in that way. Namely, certain theists claimed that without taboo, sex couldn’t possibly be as much fun. If they had been serious, she would have pointed out that the argument was the more benign cousin of the notion that sex is only good and healthy within the confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage (her old religious, pedantic habits had yet to truly die).

As they were generally being playful, her mind went in a more pleasant direction. This isn’t to say that all of her religion-tinged sexual memories were good ones. She felt no goosebumps on her skin, just a wry smile playing upon her lips, when she recalled how her first partner once insisted she wear a headscarf during sex. She ended up feeling overheated and annoyed, not aroused. Darker were her memories of a tortured adolescence, one where an injunction against masturbation was delivered to her all too late to break the habit but soon enough to instill guilt. Flick, fret, flick, fret.

But she didn’t want to dwell on that. She recalled how lovely it was to feel the gentle warmth of the spring sunshine on the back of her neck and shoulders as she awaited a date for the first time. The accompanying breeze added to the tingling already coursing its way up and down her spine as she waited for her date to show up. Later, the fear of being caught fed the hunger with which her mouth tore into the one against it as the movie credits rolled.

Suddenly, she realized that she hadn’t violated a sexual boundary in years. Well, fuck, she thought. How could she get her spine to tingle like that again? She had no boundaries left that weren’t truly based on ethical considerations. Her feminism couldn’t provide any for her, either, since it was intersectional and sex-positive. It was clear that she needed to go on a quest for answers.


Bending cover
To read the rest of this thoughtful, hilarious, and hot essay by Heina, go to Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex at Skepchick.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is an awesome, fun, iconclastic, and frequently sexy essay by Heina at Skepchick, Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex.

And remember — the book is currently available an an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from “The Shame Photos”

En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

Under His Hand, Kaya’s blog: Excerpt from “This Week” (extended excerpt)

Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex, by Heina

Atheism and a Catch-22

I was doing a little writing — working on the introduction to my next book, if you want to know — and I thought of a whole new Catch-22 about atheism and atheist activism that hadn’t occurred to me when I’ve written about this before.

It’s this.

When atheists criticize religion, or argue that it isn’t true, we get accused of being negative. We’re told about all the wonderful things religious communities provide for people — ritual, social support, continuity, etc. — and we’re told that atheism isn’t going to get very far without providing these.

But when atheists talk about the positive aspects of atheism and secular humanism, we’re told that we’re turning atheism into just another belief system. And when we do work to create atheist communities, we’re told that it’s ridiculous to organize a community around the things we don’t believe in.

I’m just sayin’, is all.

Atheism and a Catch-22

What Do You Say to Grieving Non Believers?

This piece was originally published on AlterNet.

If you know someone who’s grieving a death, and they don’t believe in a God or in any sort of afterlife… what do you say?

A lot of religious and spiritual believers find themselves stymied, at a loss for words, when the atheists and other non-believers in their lives are grieving. The comforts and consolations they’re used to offering, and that they rely on themselves, don’t do much good with atheists and other non-believers. “It’s all part of a plan.” “I’m sure they’re smiling down on you now.” “You’ll see them in the afterlife.” Etc. At best, these notions are useless for atheists: at worst, they’re actually upsetting.

Some believers behave very badly indeed at these times. It’s all too common for religious believers to use death and grief, and the heightened vulnerability that comes with it, as an opportunity for proselytizing. And when confronted with the reality that non-believers usually aren’t comforted by religious sentiments, believers often get churlish and defensive: insisting that grieving non-believers should be comforted when believers offer religious platitudes, and getting irritated or even outright hostile when we don’t.

But many believers are entirely sincere in their desire to console the non-believers in their life. They care, they sympathize, they mean well. They genuinely want to help. They just don’t know how.

Which is understandable. Even some non-believers have a hard time knowing what to say to the grieving non-believers in their life. Many atheists were brought up in religion: they’ve been brought up framing death and grief in religious terms, and dealing with it with religious customs. And in American culture particularly, our social customs around death are very much rooted in religion. So when atheists reject those customs, they often don’t know what to replace them with.

So what, specifically, can people say — or do — to comfort and console the non-believers in their lives who are grieving? Continue reading “What Do You Say to Grieving Non Believers?”

What Do You Say to Grieving Non Believers?

Caturday: Greta With All Three Kittens

Ahhhhh. So happy to be home again… with KITTENS!

So happy to be snuggling with kittens! So happy to be in my beautiful house, with my beautiful wife. So happy to be sleeping late on the weekend, listening to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” walking in my neighborhood, buying fresh-baked bread, eating fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, tasting cardamom ice cream, re-reading Harry Potter, watching Project Runway, reading Vogue… So happy to not be traveling, not be desperately trying to write and self-publish a book in time for a ridiculous self-imposed deadline. And so happy to be snuggling with our cute, playful, mischievous, trouble-making, adorable KITTENS!

Can feel rage melting away. “Why Are You Atheists So Snuggly? 99 Things That Calm Down The Godless.” Ahhhhhhhh.

Caturday: Greta With All Three Kittens