In a Snow-Bound Land
Morsels of my life and things I really care about.

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Another nice stranger.

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

Question to discuss:
Are you a mormon? Oops sorry i put one “m” too much, my bad you fucking moron

You: Huh…

Stranger: I actually used to be haha

You: You did !

You: How was that?

Stranger: Yep

You: What are you now?

Stranger: I’m a gnostic-atheist.

Stranger: It was pretty fascinating and the church despite popular belief has really good morals and teachings. It’s not what everyone says it is.

You: Hm, well I think that’s to be expected. Any minority group, though I’m not absolving the LDS from wrongdoing, is going to have persistent and probably

You: exaggerated rumours about them.

You: I myself had two great Mormon friends.

Stranger: Oh mormans are really good people.

You: One is now off being a missionary in France. FRANCE! It’s like sending a fish into a Japanese home.

Stranger: Hahaha that’s very unfortunate. Everyone wanted me to go on a mission.

You: How did you break with the Church?

Stranger: Well my mother forced me to go to church when I was twelve and eventually I started having my doubts about god and I did some research and decided that the religion wasn’t what I believed in.

Stranger: It did teach me a lot about morality and the way organized religion should be ran.

Stranger: I stopped going to church and told my mom I didn’t want to go and that I had a choice. It wasn’t until just recently I discussed my modern beliefs. She was very disappointed.

You: Has your relationship with your community and other people been strained? I imagine you must have had Mormon friends.

Stranger: The community as in the church? Well they all still love and care about me. They aren’t pushy about me rejoining and they haven’t shunned me or anything haha. They’re all really nice. My morman friends act like nothing’s changed.

You: I am glad to hear that. It is common to hear people in your situation being ostracised after leaving a religion.

You: I myself underwent extreme scrutiny, but I was not part of a Church community or any formal organisation.

Stranger: Yeah it happens but not so much with LDS. I think the LDS church is the least hypocritical of the Christian community.

Stranger: What happened?

You: You called your mom “very disappointed”. Mine was “hysterically depressed”. Unlike your experience it seems, there was a noticeable shift, at least immediately after I revealed my disbelief.

You: My “church” was my family — almost every one of them is solidly (at least in appearances) religious. I routinely sour family dinners and gatherings because of debates that arise between me and basically everyone else I’m related to.

You: My immediate family has actually relaxed tremendously since I told them about 6 years (I’m 20 now). They hardly go to church and do not push their beliefs on me, and I am actually very respected and trusted.

Stranger: Oh.. I see. I’m sorry. That must be awful.. I try to stay away from religious arguments with my family and extended family. Fortunately I’m hyper persecuted by them.

You: My extended family is most of the problem — I suppose not knowing me as well is part of the problem.

You: You’re persecuted by your family?

Stranger: whoops! haha I meant “not persecuted”.

You: Hahaha, I thought so.

You: I wouldn’t say I’m persecuted exactly, but I am apparently expected not to voice disagreements.

You: Keep in mind my disagreements are not vocal until it becomes very alarming to hear.

You: They frequently mix racism, sexism, homophobia, with theological rants.

You: So the feminist, sociologist, and of course atheist in me, comes alive.

Stranger: I personally wouldn’t be able to tolerate that.

You: It is difficult — they do not treat me to the same standard of debate I treat them. I was told to “shut the fuck up” as a counter argument on Christmas, because I took issue with my uncle taking issue with our friend’s visit (he was black, and my uncle implied he would steal something).

You: Yeah, it’s almost comical.

Stranger: It seems like such horrible things such as racism, sexism, and homophobia come from churches that belief god loves everyone and that they should love them also. The hypocrisy is unbearable.

You: More often than not it feels like every time they visit, my family brings with them a nuisance of ideas that must be swatted down. Sort of like a horse, desperately trying to swat the things with its tail. Of course, I’m the tail.

You: Yes, “everyone” basically means “everyone in our context”.

Stranger: It’s sad the majority of Christians are like that. Especially responding with “shut the fuck up” that’s immature and pathetic. The majority of them can’t think for themselves and they’ve created these prejudices that aren’t justifiable.

You: The mixing of these prejudices with religious justification is extremely toxic, and admittedly, draining to debate. Not because any of their arguments are compelling, but because they are passionately explained (read: shouted).

You: Yes, though to be fair the person that told me that is actually a “Muslim”. Quotations because the only thing “Muslim” about him is the fact that he doesn’t let his children eat pork. I have received similar treatment from my Christian family members, however.

Stranger: The mormans aren’t like that though. That’s why I wasn’t faced with much controversy whenever I left. I think that Christians should be more like mormans.

You: On that note, it is almost hilarious to see a “debate” between my “Muslim” uncle and the rest of my Christian family.

Stranger: hahaha so it’s not just you getting yelled at :)

You: It is not really an exchange of ideas, as much as it is statements of belief. “I believe in Allah and Mohammad is his final prophet.” “You’re wrong, I believe that Jesus is God’s son and our saviour”. “You’re wrong, Mohammed said he was only a prophet”…etc.

You: That is the level of debate…on a good day.

You: And I suppose, though I frequently join in as a third party.

You: Of course, I do not condone any of them.

You: I do it in part to let my younger cousins know, or at least become aware, that dissent is possible and these ideas that they are held to believe can be questioned and scrutinised.

Stranger: It’s pointless to have an academic argument with people like that. They won’t listen to any points you make and they are stuck with that belie.

You: I also take issue with people saying stupid things unchallenged — related to the my younger family, again.

You: I try to set an example, if that makes sense.

Stranger: That’s very good of you to set an example. I think some people are afraid to express their minds. Especially when it comes to religion.

You: Yes. I wish I had an atheist to look up to when I was younger.

You: It felt like I was a pioneer, basically.

You: Because everyone I knew, and had ever known, at least publicly, was Christian or believed in a deity of some sort.

Stranger: I know the feeling… of being alone and leaving the dogma.

Stranger: I know exactly what you mean. Everyone believed in god.

You: Yes. The internet has helped in that. And of course higher education, where irreligious people are more common, too.

You: They have helped the feeling of “loneliness” in that regard. Obviously atheists are as diverse as theists when it comes to their viewpoints, but it helps to speak with other people with at least that anchor in their perspective. Not because it re-enforces the idea, I mean, but because it helps develop your viewpoints and addresses the stigma that I think I internalised early on.

You: And thankfully have shed now.

You: Logic and rationality are the explanation for atheism, but we are people that have feelings of course, and it helps to destigmatise yourself through a community. It aids in rationality. Because the stigma sometimes makes you (or at least made me) do irrational things.

Stranger: It’s especially not easy to take away the idea that you always have someone to pray to, that you’ll have life beyond this life and stay in a dark grave dead and dark with nothingness for eternity. It’s hard to accept that that might be the truth. It’s much easier to have a deity to fall back on. Ignorance is bliss.

You: Stigma of being an atheist, I mean.

Stranger: I agree with the stigmas.

Stranger: It has helped a lot. Some people though say I’m too rational and I lack faith and etc.

Stranger: I live in Norman, Oklahoma haha

You: Yes. It’s transformative, and that is why I also took pity on my mother when she said she suffered. While I dismissed her concerns, because there is no compelling reason to believe in an afterlife, I understand that form her point of view, she has lost me to hell. And that is a powerful image to have ingrained.

You: I live in California!

You: I don’t know much about Oklahoma’s culture, are people generally open?

Stranger: Lets just say it’s 100% right wing conservative people. Everyone is generally Christian and there’s a church on every street.

Stranger: There isn’t a single county in Oklahoma that voted a majority democrat.

Stranger: My mother has pity for me. She thinks I have a sad existence to just die and have nothingness. She believes I don’t have a purpose in life and has sympathy for me.

You: That’s a rotten lot, though I have the same environment here, believe it or not. At least in my hometown. I believe it is one of the most solidly Republican districts in the whole country. Thankfully I spend most of the year away in San Diego. At least socially more liberal. Fiscally…dominated by people with a lot of money.

You: My mother thought the same, not so sure now.

You: She still has a belief like that, though — she is “surprised” to hear that I sound like a “Christian”. I think she may rationalise

You: that Jesus is speaking through me or something.

You: Or that I will find him, based on how I act.

You: Not something she’s ever said aloud, but it sounds sort of implicit.

Stranger: hahah that sounds like my mom. She thinks that in my heart I believe in the church. Same thing with my grandma.

You: Yes, I think it’s like a denial, I guess.

You: I try to challenge that whenever I can.

Stranger: I have a predicament I’d like to run across you. Seeing as we’re similar.

You: I had to face something similar because I also came out as gay (later on, like 3 years ago). Denial was a big part of that. I don’t intend to see more of it.

You: And sure! Run me through it if you’d like.

Stranger: Man… I can only imagine what you must go through.

You: It’s alright, it has gotten better, and conflict of ideas is necessary to swat the poorly-reasoned ones down.

Stranger: I’m in love with someone. I’m deeply and truly in love with my girlfriend. I know she loves me also. I think we were meant to be. We’ve known each other for a long time and we’ve been through a lot together. I can’t even express how infatuated I am with her. We are similar in many aspects and as cheesy as it sounds, we complete each other. And she believes that I am going to hell. She was born and raised a Christian. Through many years she has come up with her own belief about religion and god, etc. She doesn’t follow any major organized religion but is very strong in her beliefs. She believes that because I don’t belief in Jesus Christ as my savior and because I don’t believe god that I am damned to hell. Not to be immodest but I have a lot of morals. I consider myself a very good person and so does she. My only downfall is that I don’t believe. If I ever try to talk to her about it or try to persuade her opinions, she gets upset. To the point of crying when she thinks about not being able to be with me in the afterlife and my eternal suffering. I’m not sure what to do about that. We’re perfect for each other and she’s perfect for me. That’s our only difference.

Stranger: my apologies it took me so long to type haha

You: No worries, I’ve thought about something like this happening to me before.

You: I don’t know, I’ve known some people who could “look past it” and realise the love they have for each other despite it. But it’s usually only when someone has “weaker” beliefs. “Christians on Christmas”, etc…someone who isn’t very regular or adamant about it.

Stranger: We do look past it but I want to be able to talk to her about it. I don’t mean to sound invasive but I’d really like her to at least consider that she could be wrong. I want her to change her beliefs which isn’t very fair of me and I think there’s a chance she might in the future.

You: Yes, I know that sentiment. I have the same thought about my religious friends. I think this ties into frankness about your relationship in general — what do you hope comes out of it?

Stranger: I just don’t know how to make any progress. She’s trying to change my beliefs also so that she can spend eternity with me and I can understand that but I won’t ever go back on my beliefs.

You: I don’t mean to say you got into something as anything temporary, but how do you foresee a future under these circumstances?

Stranger: Well we never really argue over it. It’s certainly not detrimental to our relationship by any means.

You: Like I mentioned with my mother, and like you understand it seems, her belief is a powerful one. Caring about you a lot probably makes it even more potent.

Stranger: I’m going to marry this woman and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. That’s how I view the future.

You: If you can connect in these other ways successfully, it might be workable. It sounds like you should keep pursuing that openness, if that is your intention.

You: The worst thing would be making it taboo, even if it is hard to speak about it.

You: Do you plan to have children? There might be another problem there.

Stranger: We surprisingly, unlike a lot of couples, never argue. We’ve never gotten mad at each other but the only times there is any stress or a heated discussion is when religion gets brought up. It almost is taboo. She doesn’t like talking about it.

You: I wouldn’t push a cyclical debate, but I would encourage her to share her views with you (and you do the same).

Stranger: I do plan on having children with her but I know she’ll allow them to make up there own decisions.

Stranger: She isn’t pushy about her religion by any means. Not to mention she isn’t apart of an organized church. So going to church wouldn’t really apply to our children.

You: I think the implications of a taboo subject are distrust, which can be harmful to your relationship in general.

You: I’m glad she is open about it in that regard. I’m guessing that is also a reason you might like her, while she seems very solidly Christian, she is not imposing with her ideology.

Stranger: I agree with you. It can be harmful… I don’t think it will lead to distrust or anything like that. We’re both very open. She just doesn’t like getting to deep into it. I can’t really blame her… It

Stranger: ’s impossible to argue religion.

Stranger: Yes it is.

Stranger: Like is said, she’s perfect for me in every way.

You: Yes, though you have to wonder, when you shed your religion, that was a form of argument that occurred (even if it was within).

Stranger: Very true.

You: I would see your situation as hopeful — you are still together despite this. For many people, this would not be the case.

You: Her openness is also very helpful.

You: I would be cautious and try to preserve that open dialogue (as far as that can exist).

You: I think though, at some point, her beliefs would have to become less ardent to ensure anything long-term.

Stranger: I believe there’s a chance of her abandoning her believe.

You: If you imagine your loved one burning in hell constantly, it can probably be traumatising.

You: I hope that is the case — you, as a virtuous person, certainly do a lot to dispel some of the “grounds” for her religion.

You: Morality, goodness, and kindness are found in you — these are traits religions tend to think of as creating or originating in their deities.

You: And of course, she knows you intimately. So you as a person are definitely your best “argument”.

You: But that level of introspection…is difficult. The more you are exposed to people that challenge your belief’s assumptions, or just ideas that sort of circumvent what you believe in, the easier it might be to cast doubt on what you think. Hopefully it is the case with her.

You: It seems like a continuous battle however, if her beliefs remain ardent.

Stranger: She’s told me before that she doesn’t want to believe I’ll go to hell and she says she wants to change her belief in that sense. Which makes it obvious that she isn’t set in stone with her beliefs. I

You: I would not want to say anything out of line, but I would also keep in mind that the level of conflict (internal perhaps) might also escalate.

You: Hm.

Stranger: I feel like that conflict will definitely escalate if I push on her belief to much but I also feel like my attacks to it are necessary and afterward, that conflict will disappear.

You: That’s a good thing — like I said, your person is your best argument. Your love for each other is knocking on her at her door asking her to reflect.

You: One would hope, but it might also lead to an end to your relationship if things get severe. But I would generally say that these views of the world are incompatible, and while people of different religious beliefs can get together, they have to become inclusive in a way.

You: I can’t imagine perspectives that exclude a partner, being something that could lead to happiness.

You: So hopefully she continues on that line of “adjusting”, and ultimately shedding or weakening the certainty she has for her beliefs.

You: If her beliefs become less and less open to her reality (which in this case, means you), I would be cautious.

Stranger: You have very excellent advice. I’m glad we got to talk about this. It helps me think of things and better my decision making process if I talk about them with someone. You’re also very intelligent which was vital.

You: Thank you, you’re too kind. I’m glad I was able to help in some way, and glad I was able to hear about something (and someone) you care about.

Stranger: It’s not very often I meet someone on Omegle like you. I hope everything goes well for you and that you aren’t heavily persecuted. It was very nice speaking with you but I need to go :)

You: Same to you, stranger. I wish you all the best.

Stranger: Thank you my friend.

Your conversational partner has disconnected.


Israel and Adam Levine

Yes: I alter my grammar to make myself more understandable to foreigners

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

Stranger: מארון 5 זאת ה-להקה ואם אתה לא אוהב אותה, אתה זונה! <:

You: Happy Holidays!

Stranger: TNX

You: What does your message

You: mean?

Stranger: what u Celebrating?

You: Is Hebrew?

You: Greek?

You: What is that language?

Stranger: Maroon 5 This is the best band, and if you do not like her, you bitch

You: I like Maroon 5!

You: Moves like Jagger!

Stranger: Hebrew

Stranger: wooooo

Stranger: thank god !!!!1

You: That is a super catchy song, one of my favourites.

Stranger: [Although I do not believe in God]

You: I think Christinas Aguilera should not be in it though..

You: Me neither!

Stranger: Christina Aguilera is a BITCH !

Stranger: cool !

You: What is his name again?

You: From Maroon 5.

You: Adam Levine?

Stranger: Adam Levine The Sexy !

Stranger: woo

You: Yes!!!

You: Super sexy!!

Stranger: I forget

Stranger: ASL ?

You: Hahahaha ;-)

Stranger: super SEXY !!!

You: I am 20 Male (gay, yes).

You: USA.

You: And you?

Stranger: Until I found someone who is perfect, he’s gay ?!?!?!

Stranger: 15 F israel

You: You’re from Israel!!!!!

You: Where do you live!

Stranger: im fron israel !!!!!!!

You: Like in Tel Aviv?

Stranger: in israel !

Stranger: im kinding

Stranger: *
עבריתאנגליתערביתתרגם טקסט או דף אינטרנט
צוחקת
האם התכוונת ל: תיתן לי ללכת לישון אני עייפה
הקלד טקסט או כתובת אתר או תרגם מסמך.
ביטול
תרגום מעברית לאנגלית
אנגליתרומניתערביתKidding

You: Hm?

Stranger: אווופס XD

Stranger: oops XD

Stranger: *Kidding

You: ☮☮

Stranger: im from Tel Aviv

You: c☮☮l!

You: C☮☮L!

Stranger: u know this place ?

You: Yes, I know about it. Have never visited.

Stranger: so come and visit !

You: Is there a lot of Christmas celebrations in Israel, or not so much?

Stranger: not so much

You: Here, it is everywhere!

You: Santa Claus

You: toys

You: and soda!

You: It is when people buy like crazy, even if they are poor.

You: Also, some people put baby Jesus on their houses (weird).

Stranger: Most of them Jews, you know …
And most of them are just like trying to be good Jews but In their hearts they just retarded>. <

Stranger: very weird …

You: Yeah, I know. There is a lot of importance

You: on Judaism in Israel? I mean, it may seem like obvious question but…

You: There are many people in Israel who do not believe in a god, too?

Stranger: not soo much to

You: Not here either.

You: Most people…Christian.

You: Baby Jesus on every house!

Stranger: where U from ?

You: California!

Stranger: los angles >!?!?!!?!?!?

You: San Diego!!!

Stranger: *Los Angeles

You: Near the beach!!

You: You have been to USA?

Stranger: noo …

Stranger: I never left israel

You: Is life good in Israel?

Stranger: no

You: How is it like?

Stranger: There are religious coercion everywhere,
All bullies
And everything’s so expensive!

You: You speak English very well, by the way. I wish I could speak Hebrew to speak to you.

You: Oh wow!

You: Yes, I have heard of some of that.

You: There is also the issue of Palestine…!

Stranger: yhea …

You: In America, many people support Israeli government. I do not support building settlements on Palestinian land! I do not support violence either.

You: For many people here, it is okay to be violent. It is very depressing.

Stranger: You love of my life! Such a shame you’re gay -, -

You: The conservatives here are many, and are very radical in their beliefs, wanting to force religious views.

You: Hahahaha, thank you.

You: You are very nice, too. You will see someone will meet you and think you are the best in the world.

You: I hope I meet someone who thinks that of me too!

Stranger: TNX

Stranger: i think you the best !

You: Thanks a lot. You are very smart and a good conversation — you are not like many 15 year olds.

You: I hope you keep that. Many people do not like when people think, because that means their dumb ideas cannot be challenged.

Stranger: Many telling me this ….

You: So always keep that inside you — openness and readiness to learn.

You: I am not much older than you, but I can tell you that it will become even more important as you age.

Stranger: im not good with People my age, I’m doing better with older people ..

You: I can understand that. You sound like you are more aware — I am glad.

Stranger: (:

Stranger: It really hurts me to say this,
But I need to finish and go to sleep … I’m tired …
Such a shame):

You: It is alright, it was a good time and a good talk meeting you.

You: I am very glad I met you, nice person from Israel!

Stranger: its was good talking to you

Stranger: lol

Stranger: tell your friend (`

Stranger: (;

You: I hope you have a goodnight!

Stranger: TNX

You: Take care and be safe and always keep being yourself — smart and curious.

Stranger: i hope you to have a goodnight

Stranger: I will !

You: :)

Your conversational partner has disconnected.


A conversation with a theist.

You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!

Question to discuss:
Should I kill myself?

You: Definitely not.

You: No matter what you are going through there are ways to make your situation better or more tolerable.

Stranger: i was the guy that was asking all the questions repeatedly and taking other peoples words

Stranger: do you remember me

You: Hm?

Stranger: never mind

Stranger: ur not one of them

Stranger: no you shouldnt kill ur self

Stranger: lifes not that bad

You: Well, anyway, yes. We go through horrible thing sometimes.

Stranger: u think u have problems

Stranger: talk to the jew who was killed in the holocaust

Stranger: sorry, who went through the holocaust

You: But you have to reply in a constructive way — if you do that, it’s not very meaningful toward what you want, is it?

Stranger: talk to the slave who was abused

Stranger: talk to the woman who was sexually abused

You: Hey, well, I don’t know if I agree with that angle you’re pushing.

Stranger: lifes not that bad

Stranger: no im pushing it to make a point

You: I think you are trivialising their problems.

Stranger: people think their lives are bad

Stranger: they’re not

You: There are different degrees of problems.

Stranger: yes, and those are some of the worst degrees

You: In fact, even in your examples

You: I could play the same game

You: Why should the woman who is sexually abused

You: be complaining

Stranger: right

You: if other people

You: went through genocide?

You: So I don’t think

Stranger: so what is the definition of worse

Stranger: who knows

You: it makes sense to think of it lik ethat.

You: ”Who has it worse”…

Stranger: so how can you call life bad

Stranger: you know

You: I think it makes sense to think of “what can I do?”

You: ”How can I make this better

You: for myself and other people?”

You: I think it is important

Stranger: yes

You: to remember how other people have it

You: to keep perspective

Stranger: yes

You: but we all have problems

Stranger: i agree

You: not all of us go through genocide

You: or abuse

You: but there are some tough things

You: The problem is when we give up

You: on those tough things

You: And let the tough things overwhelm us

You: and cloud our aspirations

You: I hope the person asking the question regains aspirations or creates them

Stranger: goodness gracious, have i met my match

You: There is a lot you can do in your life.

Stranger: i come on here and help people with relationship/life issues

Stranger: and i say these things

Stranger: what ur saying

You: Hahaha, I am glad you do.

You: I come on here out of a mixture of boredom

You: and genuine curiosity

You: at other people

Stranger: hmmm you sound intelligent

Stranger: unlike some people on here

You: I consider myself open to different experiences. Thank you, as do you.

Stranger: and you actually sound like ur nice and u have manners

You: I think most people here have manners in real life, in some respect

You: maybe not genuine

You: but they have it.

You: Of course, what ues is

You: use is

You: insincere politeness?

You: Still, I think it is better to express some of the ugly feelings people have, so they can be challenged.

You: Not with more ugly resentment, but with a careful and constructive criticism.

You: I try my best not to get angry because of that.

You: People who are rude or angry, usually can trace their anger to a sadness or a discomfort.

You: I try my best to get at that by treating them with a bit of warmth

You: while keeping true to my principles.

You: Sorry for that little rant!

Stranger: hmmmm ur alright in my book, sound like a carbon copy of me

You: Hahaha, well nice to meet you!

Stranger: i wonder whos nicer me or you?

You: I have had many problems myself in my life, so I understand the feelings of anger and depression.

You: I think as long as we both try to project kindness, that is what we should focus on.

Stranger: i havent had any problems in my life, yet i understand human beings nature

You: That is very remarkable.

Stranger: i too understand anger and depression

Stranger: though ive never experienced them in a great deal

Stranger: never been depressed and im naturally not an angry person

You: I use my past suffering to help contextualise how people feel. It isn’t always the same thing though, but I try to listen and learn.

Stranger: hmmmm, u are a carbon copy of me

You: Maybe we are not the same after all! ;-)

You: I used to be very unpleasant a few years ago.

Stranger: except the past part

You: Because I was a closet gay. I used to react very harshly to most people.

You: After I came out and made friends, true friends, I tied my feelings with my mind.

You: And I feel more at peace.

Stranger: hmmm, are you nonreligious?

You: I am an atheist.

Stranger: hmmm, you sound like a christian

You: I do not think Christians or any other religion are the benefactors of morality or its creators.

You: I think in some ways they may help instill these values of kindness

You: but there is a risk of a very ugly side contaminating people at the same time.

You: Regardless, I think you can achieve kindness and compassion without sacrificing some of the things

Stranger: do you hate god with a passion?

You: I believe religion or spirituality prompts you to sacrifice.

You: I do not believe in a deity — I am indifferent.

You: I am critical however, of people who use this belief to hurt other people.

Stranger: hmmmm

Stranger: what do you think of religion in general?

You: I do not take qualms with the Catholic charity, or the Muslim Community Group, or anything else like that.

You: I have problems with people who indoctrinate others, force their views on society, and use their beliefs to directly or indirectly harm people.

You: I am not oblivious to the meaning people can find in religion.

You: For some, it fulfills or completes their lives.

Stranger: especially people who do things in the name of god, when God would be mad if they did that in his name

You: I think this fulfillment can come in a much healthier way however. It does not need this belief system.

Stranger: what do you think about spirituality

Stranger: in general

Stranger: having a connection with ur god

You: And the belief system itself I don’t think has any justification — there is no reason to believe this besides ‘faith”, which is ignorance and irrationality

You: explained as a virtue.

You: Yes, I am aware that even in their own texts

You: and philosophies

You: you will find that many religious people are inconsistent

You: Their text tells them to be tolerant

You: to be loving or to be compassionate

You: They find another phrase that they can exploit for their interests.

Stranger: yet they fail constantly because of their sin, sin is part of human nature, cannot get rid of it unless ur jesus

You: Still, while I praise some of the principles I mentioned — kindness and compassion — I do not think religion has any authority in the first place.

You: I do not agree with you, because I do not agree that I should have any reason to think that Jesus or his teachings have any credibility to them.

You: But looking at Jesus as a philosopher, I can take what I think is good.

You: Like, kindness, caring for the poor, social reform.

Stranger: loving ur god, spending time with god, prayer

You: I can take what I think is not good, like ideas of a divine deity, of which there is no reason to believe.

You: I do not think those things you mentioned are relevant to helping humanity.

Stranger: but that was the most important part of jesus, that was his most important characteristic, his absolute faith in his God

Stranger: didnt fear men

Stranger: did the will of God, that is all

Stranger: nothing else while he was on earth

You: I think they are relevant insofar as that context exists — these will be positives only to those people that believe those things. It sort of continues the same patterns the Bible creates in its own text: it is valid within itself.

Stranger: just that

You: I do not see how that is compelling.

You: Is there a reason to believe there is a god in the first place?

You: Jesus may have made that his “focus”, but I can easily reject that while embracing his other views.

Stranger: the problem with man is, we try to figure out why were here, whats our purpose this and that, we are just so empty, do you know why we are empty because we dont know why were here, we’re here to serve god, not find our purpose

You: I do not see how you can come to that conclusion aside from … the Bible.

You: And that is the main problem — the Bible, as I mentioned, is self-referential.

You: Who has the best mommy? The child will always say it is their own.

You: That is sort of the logic here.

Stranger: we’re a man centered people, we want to be god, decide for ourselves what our purpose is

You: Many people want power, this is true.

You: Conflict and power are central to human existence.

You: But I think there is no reason to introduce a “divine” component to power, because, as I keep repeating, there is no reason to have that premise in the first place.

You: If I believed in a purple elephant as my deity, I am as justified as any Christian, Muslim, or anyone else with a deity.

You: Because I have faith in it, I am an equal.

You: Of course, outside of that faith, there is no reason to believe in my elephant deity.

You: Nor any deity at all.

You: That is why I think this belief does not make logical sense, and that is why I think it also harms humanity.

You: The focus is subservience…subservience to something you have no reason

You: in believing in?

Stranger: when u die and leave this earth, there is no logic in the afterlife

You: Or at least, no empirical reason to believe in.

You: You assume there is an after life.

Stranger: yes

Stranger: im 200% sure

You: And that assumption is not based on anything empirical, but your faith

You: and what you have learned

Stranger: im 1000% sure theres a god

You: from your religion.

Stranger: but the problem is what if ur wrong

Stranger: about everything ur saying to me

Stranger: when u die, god comes in and says everything u said about me in life was wrong

You: You are so sure about something you have no reason to believe in, besides your “faith”?

Stranger: you are only saved by faith

You: What if you are wrong? Unlike me, you are the one making leaps and conclusions.

You: In fact, I can play this logical game with virtually every belief system in the world

You: Why have you not submitted to Allah?

You: What if you are wrong?

Stranger: the problem is, ur gonna think im dumb for saying this, but the problem is that i know theres a god

You: You see now why this makes little sense?

Stranger: have you ever been told you were wrong

Stranger: about god

Stranger: everything ur saying wrong, have you ever been told that

You: I do not like to think of people believing in a deity as “dumb”.

You: I think it is more complicated than intelligence levels.

You: Of course, I am in a country that is not very friendly to people like me.

You: My own family, for starters.

You: I do not see how the burden of explanation should be on me

You: however, as I am not the one

You: making the grandiose claims.

You: Getting back to whether you are “dumb” or not, certainly not. You seem intelligent

You: and kind, and are ready for discussion.

You: I do not think that is the issue — I think the issue is that you are overlooking

Stranger: Yes, im not the typical christian

Stranger: im the real one

You: whether out of socialisation

You: or something else

Stranger: not the one you see stereotyped in america

You: the true hollowness of this belief. The belief that is equal to my theoretical belief in a purple elephant deity.

You: I understand that.

You: I do not function in stereotypes anyway.

You: I remember hearing a talk I was very fortunate to hear —-

You: I would recommend it, not relevant to the current subject

You: but it is very in line with what we think

You: regardless of our beliefs on religion.

You: It is by a Nigerian author, and the talk is called a “Single Story”.

Stranger: writing that down

You: She says, “the problem with stereotypes isn’t that they are untrue

You: but that they are incomplete”

Stranger: yes

You: So I always mention this to anyone who thinks stereotyping

You: and simplifying

You: anyone or any people

You: is a good thing.

You: I do not mean you are one of those.

You: I mentioned it because it came up, here.

Stranger: haha dont worry, i have very slow anger

You: Her name is Chimmamanda Adichie, by the way.

Stranger: ive never left a conversation because of something someone said

Stranger: yet i get that alot haha

You: I try to give a chance to people too.

Stranger: may i ask how old you are?

Stranger: u sound like 30 or 40

You: As you might expect, it is more difficult for people to give a gay atheist (the gay part is apparently more relevant in some conversations) a chance to speak.

Stranger: ish

You: I am 20.

Stranger: u read alot

Stranger: i know that

You: I try to, there is a world out there written in books. Or manuscripts, or journals.

You: Knowledge, experiences, even trivial ones.

You: One of my favourite things to do is go online and read what people have to say about anything.

Stranger: because of your vocabulary and your sentence structure

Stranger: one gift god gave me, i know people very well, i know exactly what kind of person im talking to within the first 30 seconds of talking to them

You: I think that is incidental. It has developed with reading, yes, but I think my interest in knowing more has been the most important characteristic for me.

You: I see. Again, I do not doubt that you may have an understanding of people, but I am sceptical (to say the least) that this is in any way divinely ordained.

Stranger: u seem very very calm, ur like me, you’re slow to anger

You: I do not anger, because what is the point to yell or antagonise people?

Stranger: and u understand people

Stranger: exactly

You: People become closed, and even if you disagree with them, people should not become closed.

You: Open people are kind people.

Stranger: i dont yell at people

Stranger: i like when people have different views with me

Stranger: and i like people who can hold an argument until the very end

Stranger: not storm off like a child

Stranger: that irritates me haha

You: I think you are describing most of my family.

Stranger: i like people who say you know what we arent gonna change our views but it was a good argument

You: Well, I don’t know if I could say that.

You: I appreciate exchanges of views, certainly.

You: How else do we know our arguments better if they aren’t tested?

You: But the point isn’t really the discussion itself, but promoting discussion. Unless you meant that, and I misinterpreted your statement.

Stranger: no i mean like if two people are talking and no ones getting anywhere and both of them will be stubborn and both keep their views, but still say at the end, we obviously arent getting anywhere but this was a good argument

Stranger: and im one of those people, where if you say something that i agree with i will change my mind and i will say, you know what i agree with you, i will back off of my original argument because you have convinced me

Stranger: im not afraid to be wrong

Stranger: thats a characteristic i love about me haha

You: I am glad you can admit to being wrong. Everyone should. I have to wonder if this ability to be wrong has permeated your religious beliefs, however.

Stranger: most people just wanna prove themselves to be right

You: I would encourage you take a more critical look at these beliefs.

You: And that they too, can be wrong.

Stranger: the thing is, i am a very unique person and all but i give all the credit to god, i may be smart, i may have this and that in the world, but i know where it all comes from

You: Why do you think that, though?

Stranger: yes

Stranger: everything that i have comes from god

Stranger: god made me

Stranger: the way he likes me

Stranger: in his own way

You: I do not know why you think this is self-evident — it is not.

Stranger: why do i think what?

You: What you are claiming is something very expansive — that there is a deity that is the originator of life and the world, and all that has ever been.

You: Why do you think that?

You: Why do you think this entity exists?

Stranger: hmmm, i dont know why to be honest

You: I reject it because I cannot see why it would exist.

Stranger: i just have faith that is all

You: If you do not know, should you be so sure then?

Stranger: i have many questions for god

You: Again, I do not know why you think “have faith” is an appropriate answer.

Stranger: but in the end i say, im nothing but a grain of sand god, im not going to question you, everything you do is holy and good, im not going to question you

You: Having faith in this case means ignoring the question and settling on the belief you have already produced.

You: Why do you not instead, question that belief more thoroughly?

Stranger: thats the problem you need some sort of logic

Stranger: i dont have logic

Stranger: i just have faith

Stranger: i trust him

Stranger: everything hes doing

You: That is not a virtue, unfortunately.

You: That is a negligence of reality.

You: We interpret the world and what happens with what is at our disposal.

Stranger: i question him sometimes, why do you do these things god, why are you here god, why am i here god

Stranger: etc etc

Stranger: all the questions you wanna ask him

Stranger: only he knows

Stranger: i dont know

You: The problem is that you already assume there is someone to question.

Stranger: wish i knew but i dont

You: And you already said you don’t know why you do that.

You: Then why should you?

Stranger: hmmm

Stranger: why should I?

Stranger: let me think

You: Why do you forego worship of another god, instead? He or She or They are just as valid because those people “don’t know” either.

You: They just feel.

You: And I understand that there is a part of us that “feels”.

Stranger: because god has been around longer than you or me, the idea of god, has been floating around mens head since the beginning of time, you think man just said one day, hmmm lets have a god, and he just popped up

You: But this foregoes just simple feelings, this is a cosmic order you are purporting to exist.

Stranger: this is why god is real

You: Just because an idea has been longlasting, does not mean it is any more credible.

You: Rather, one could reason, that irrationality and urge to explain, caused humans to develop ideas on why things are.

Stranger: oh its credible alright

You: Before, things were not as they are today.

Stranger: if its been around a long time and hasnt died out yet

You: People did not trust in the senses to understand the world.

Stranger: it must be credible

You: But on group wisdoms and myths.

Stranger: i go to my grandmothers nursing home

You: ”The Unknowable”, and ironically, that is how they felt they could know the world.

Stranger: its amazing how old people can forget everything else but CANNOT forget god

Stranger: that is so amazing to me

You: I think that is a bit unfortunate, and I would reason that this is the result

You: of the brutal indoctrination that societies undertake.

You: Just because a belief is important to you

You: does not mean it is real.

You: I could believe that I have a stable job, or family, or that there is peace in the world.

You: But my belief, no matter how beautiful

You: or sincere

You: or long lasting

You: fails in the face of reality.

You: There’s no doubt that this belief, or the pursuit of it, can produce good things

You: Helping others in order to achieve these goals, for example.

Stranger: ok teach a human being to be a doctor all their lives, they know everything they can know about medicine and everything doctors should know, when they get old and get demensia observe that they forget everything

You: But it is a pursuit built on false pretenses, on information that is untrue. I would suggest approaching reality as it is, instead.

Stranger: now teach that same human being to love god all their lives, they know everything about god, everything, they followed christ all thier lives, when they get old and get demensia, they dont forget god

You: That would be an interesting research question, but I do not think that is very novel, to be honest. I can already question the reasoning in that question

Stranger: wow that just popped into my head

Stranger: i should write that down

Stranger: maybe god told me to say that

You: by asking you how you explain the great diversity (i.e. disbelief in your deity) there is in the world with regards to spiritual beliefs.

Stranger: haha

You: People believe religion because their socialisation or experiences gears them to it — these “facts” are ingrained not through

You: any logical or rational basis, as you have admitted but by these encounters the person has had.

You: You cannot claim there is anything that distinguishes your spiritual belief from another, and in fact, it is a bit strange to say that because beliefs in deities seems to be the norm throughout history, this provides credence to your deity.

You: When, in fact, some of these beliefs are (or I should say, most of them) blasphemous to what you believe in.

You: So I’m not sure what you mean to say — I think the person in your proposed experiment would only retain religion, if it is severely impressed upon them in some way, just as any other experience or idea.

You: Religion is not natural.

You: Otherwise, would there be no need for missionaries

You: or spreading the “Good News”.

You: Perhaps, though, religion does speak to something innately human.

You: And that is why it is so persistent — the desire to know, and explain things.

You: The cycle of death and birth.

You: And religion addresses these themes usually.

You: Religion finds relevance in its relation to humanity.

You: I think that is a more reasonable hypothesis than claiming any of these beliefs themselves have any credibility to them.

Stranger: the problem is we are a man centered people, we want to know these things, god explains all of these things in the bible, but we dont want god to explain that for us

You: The problem with what you say, is that you assume there is a god and then you use the book itself to justify what you believe in.

You: I am not going to assume you are a biblical literalist, because even if you weren’t

Stranger: im reading the bible cover to cover first time

You: the existence of a god is not something up for interpretation. At least for Christians, correct?

Stranger: im on samuel 2

Stranger: no its not, yet we do it today and all these interpretations turn into something wrong

You: That is a sufficient enough and central claim to assess this belief system on.

Stranger: because we make up our own ideas and say that god said them when he didnt

Stranger: and people dont read their bibles anymore

Stranger: do me a favor

You: I think people should become educated in as much as they possibly can. I do not think reading the bible or any other religious texts makes a better person.

You: An educated person makes an open mind. An open mind makes an open heart.

Stranger: open mind, read everything you wanna read, educate yourself as much as you can, but dont forget that God is the reason why you’re here

Stranger: look at michael jackson

You: Understand that what you say is again problematic.

You: If there is no reason to believe the claims in the bible of the existence of that deity, outside of the Bible itself, then there is no reason to to presuppose that as true.

You: The argument being made is essentially made by Christians or any other religion or spirituality.

You: ”This is how the world works, this is how things are”.

You: When these assumptions are reviewed, there is nothing they can do to substantiate them.

Stranger: will you watch this with me

Stranger: i saw it the other day

You: I am not sure, since my computer is not my own, as it broke a few days ago, and I do not have earphones. If you leave me the link or the name of the video or presentation, I will watch it at a later time.

Stranger: i think you will like this guy

Stranger: aww man

Stranger: ok

Stranger: you know what actually there are subtitles in this video

Stranger: do you still want to watch it

You: Sure, show me the link if you would like.

Stranger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRGMp0md5CE

Stranger: tell me when u start

Stranger: i liked this video a lot

You: Hi, I have opened the page. My internet is very slow, so I must let it load for a bit.

Stranger: ok

You: Are the subtitles in the form of annotations on the video?

Stranger: i dont think so

Stranger: just subtitles

Stranger: haha

You: I just checked, and I think they are. Well, only a few minutes more until it is at least loaded half-way through.

Stranger: ok

You: Alright, it’s at 3:50. I think I can start watching now.

Stranger: ok

You: Hello.

You: The video has finished.

You: I have to say, I am unsure of why you are fond of this video. I think it is very problematic, and actually very arrogant.

You: I am not going to delve into Christianity’s internal disputes about predetermination and salvation.

You: I will continue in line with my unadressed concern of whether that dispute is relevant — whether this deity exists in the first place. This video did not do anything at all to speak to that. Though you did not either, you at least seemed to possibly entertain the question.

You: I also, of course, reject the idea of “evil”.

You: And while I said I would not intervene in Christianity’s internal divisions, if I were to dismiss my critical view and perspective, I would decidedly side against predetermination. The story of the Bible itself inclines choice and redemption. The only thing that this person uses to dismiss this is the “fact” that humanity is evil.

You: I will not continue to speak “in canon” with regards to Christianity.

You: And address this issue with a more holistic approach — through examples in reality.

You: The concept of evil upon which this man leads his case is problematic because evil is not, as the implication is, a stagnant, singular act or deed.

You: Evil is a synonym for social deviance.

You: And deviance is adjusted and dependent on the context.

You: For example, we may consider in vernacular the idea that the Roman Church set people ablaze for political/religious (real or feigned) reasons as evil, but their perspective considered it justice.

You: I do not mean to say that all these practices are equal, and only require considering perspective.

You: For example, I have no qualms on saying that the practice of killing people is usually immoral (usually, because there are a great many exceptions in life)

You: I do not think just because the Church rationalised it another way, it is not immoral.

You: I reject the notion of evil because it fails to account for the fluidity of “evil” — who or what is “evil”, and how “evil” is manipulated by perspectives.

You: You will notice however, that I do make a moral call — killing people in general, is something I called immoral.

You: I do not make this moral call based on a religious principle, and I do not see any reason to believe morality originates with any religion.

You: I make this call because of my critical observation that this situation led to unjustified suffering.

You: That is essentially my moral compass — does this lead to suffering? If it it hurts someone, there must be a very compelling reason to justify it. Claims of religious authority, based on a deity that doesn’t exist, are very inadequate.

You: Since the video did not address why one should even presuppose the existence of a deity, and also made the error of claiming the existence of evil (despite contrary evidence of a contextual definition of evil, all around us), I am not sure what you see in this video.

You: What do you like about it?

Your conversational partner has disconnected.


Lately, Fortunate

Today, I was fortunate enough to be a bit early on my way to school.  While I was waiting for the bus, I managed to talk to a very old lady next to me. She had graduated from UCR in 1970, I believe — and first things were really casual. Soon though, she started sharing personal details about her life, like her struggle with diabetes and her financial problems. It was hard to understand because not only was she Indian, but was also missing every tooth in her mouth.

Regardless, for about 20 minutes, with occasional tears, she told me about her life, and I told her about some of mine. I got to know a stranger, with her own story and characters, her own struggles and fortunes so quickly that I felt a bit overwhelmed. I was glad though, because the perspective I got to look at — even if just for less than half an hour — was something different. Someone different. And though her story was anything but happy, I felt comforted in the fact that I could learn about it. That I could talk to her even for just a little while and that I was trusted enough to know about her.

 This post is raggedy and undeserving of describing what happened today, but I had to make sure I’d remember what details I could. Even now, I don’t recall her name exactly — either Pam or Pamma. Either way, I won’t forget her.


I haven’t really slept at all today, and there isn’t much to do. I figured I’d update this. 

There’s not much to say lately, I suppose. A bit troubled sometimes — but it’s all easily fixed, if I made the effort. If I made the effort…



Obligatory Octoberpost

Not the purest source of inspiration, but I suppose it works.

It’s been cold. There’s been rain…and walks to school have been interesting insofar that they’ve provided some time for contemplation. About what? Well, that depends on what’s playing on my iPod, or if the weather’s particularly unforgiving. But usually it involves a moment where I think I get close to understanding…accepting, whatever it may be. There are a couple of things, some more private than others, but it usually involves school, family, friends, my future, love (notice how it’s separate from my future), and things like that. You know, the usual themes your daily 8 PM comedy explores.

Well, assuming tumblr still posts things onto my Facebook without asking, I’ll leave the juiciest bits for later. Oh you know, advertising revenue and all that. But anyway, hrm…I’m a bit concerned about my seemingly increasing exasperation about anything academic. Reading’s become such a bore. I struggle to start, to continue, and repeat it the next day. It’s not that material is especially snooze-inducing (unlike this post), but it feels like it requires so much effort that I’d rather put into something else…like not doing my reading. 

Oh…

Well, on that subject, I also sometimes think about other things I’d like to open up. Buh huh huh huh. I can’t help it! I think it’s gotten worse with time. Physical needs are almost constant daily interruptions…yeah, even stopping me from my homework. It seems that the slightest things make me perk up. It’s hard not to pay attention when it tries so hard to get you to notice it. Guwar. When it conflicts with my responsibilities, I don’t think I’m wrong to assume it’s a big problem. Oh yeah. 

Oh um well that’s enough for now. I’ll update the rest of this tomorrow…unless, well…refer to paragraph 2.


( @ 3 @ ) 


What does it mean to die when you already feel like a corpse? 

It’s been difficult lately to be awake without feeling disappointed. In some sort of unfortunate irony, I find myself more amused than ever before, but also feeling hollow … subversive to my mind and productive emotion. Anything that I used to scrap some meaning into, seems almost distant to me…struggling to find a face despite an intensive effort to eliminate it. 

Even as I write this, it is hard to articulate what I feel ‘wrong’ with me. And that makes me doubt that this problem is real, or if it is a byproduct of what I feel ails me. Nothing elaborate or intriguing enough to make my mind function seamlessly seems to come up. A word usually flashes in my head, and I try my best to decipher what it means. ‘Thoughtless’ has been blinking bright red even before I started writing this, but it was hard to mention. I am inclined to conclude that my taboo for the word is yet another indicator that as a worthwhile person, I have already rotted several times over.

There is some editing to this piece: some of it because of habit, some of it because of the superficiality that seems entrenched within me. Most of it though is simply what I’m thinking, squeezed out and unchanged. Obviously, my mind cannot keep to one topic, but I’ll attempt my best to continue.

I feel vaguely useless and uninspired. I do not blame my humour, as laughing is one of the most enjoyable things I can do. But jokes and absurdity seem to have made very little room for anything serious and thought provoking. Like a doused fire, I am uncomfortable with how little embers I produce. I have nothing to burn for, and nobody to ignite me. This used to be something I did for myself, but I can’t seem to remember how. I am crippled, and haven’t any way to show it. I’m trying, and also looking for ways to get up…but I just fall down again. 

I hate feeling absent from a world that I knew could hold so much beauty. So much happiness. I want to see all that, I don’t want to feel apart from it. I’d like to find meaning. And burst with sunshine even when it’s night. 

Right now though, I feel like crying… because I’ve finally perfected something in my life: the role of the mediocre human being. 


"Tomorrow’s Wonders" by Grant Kirkhope.

Summer’s been a dream — but I guess I gotta go back and learn or something. I’m excited, I guess: I’ve got a job! And I’m gonna finally be concentrating on my major! There’s also that thing about acting classes (I hope my professor isn’t one of those scarf wearing ninnies, no offense Europeans). Though by the look of this post, you might rightly suggest I retake English. Gufar!

Anyway.

Not much time left before that, but I’m glad I could spend my lazy days with wonderful people. I wish I could have seen more of them…and there are still some people I didn’t see at all. But I’m hoping our friendship will outlast this summer, and summers yet to come. 

Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s wonders

(If you think I’m corny, you’re probably right)