the new Missionaries & Santa

The other evening as I was preparing dinner, three young women knocked on our door. They introduced themselves as the “new missionaries” in town and wanted to “share a message” with us. I politely declined, wished them a good evening and closed the door. They looked mildly surprised, but took my rejection well.

Kid2, who was with me when I opened the door, had questions: what message, why did they want to share it, why did I say no thanks.

How does one explain missionaries to a child?

As it is nearing Christmas, I used an analogy that they might relate to. Kid2 does not believe in Santa, and we’ve had numerous conversations about that, so I decided to start from there.

So the first question was why were they going door to door to share a message?

“It would be like if you believed in Santa so much you wanted to tell everyone so you went door to door to share that. You feel everyone should believe in Santa so they can get lots of presents, because if they don’t believe in Santa they won’t get anything.”

Kid2’s brow wrinkled in confusion. Clearly this was not about Santa.

So what message are they sharing?

They’re most likely talking about the story of Jesus. You know, the baby from the Nativity play, and the man who was on the cross in the Mission we visited last summer.

Yes. Looks confused. Why do they want to share that?

Some people believe very strongly, that stories that in the Bible actually happened, and they have based their entire world view off of them. They feel they have to go tell everyone about this, so other people can make people change to their way of thinking.

Why didn’t you want to talk to them?

I have a different world view than they do. I know about Jesus, and I’ve read the Bible, and I don’t agree with their world view, and that’s okay. We can politely disagree with people, and we don’t have to talk to people who randomly knock on our door about religion, it is also time to get started on dinner.

*****

Kid2 took it at that and I’m sure we’ll have more opportunities for these conversations as time goes on, particularly around the holidays, as Kid2 has proudly informed their class that “Santa does not visit our house because we do not have a chimney!” and Kid1 has proclaimed “I don’t believe in Santa, I believe in Mommy!”

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In the Beginning

This is another one of the books that has been sitting on my desk for longer than it should have. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of kindism.org


A few times a year our Sunday School teacher would sit us down and have us open our Bibles to Genesis and we would read two accounts of the creation of man, starting with Genesis 1:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  Genesis 1 KJV edition, emphasis mine

Genesis 1 was the correct story of man’s creation, Genesis 2 being the myth where man was made from mud and woman from man’s rib. In Christian Science Adam never awoke from his “dream” (when God put him under to make Eve), and that is why we perceive there to be in and suffering in the world.

I never got an answer on why God didn’t wake Adam up (so much easier to blame a talking snake and a woman), and I never got a firm answer on anyone in Christian Science about what I learned (or didn’t learn) in school about biology, evolution or creation science. I was allowed to drift and be influenced by a local Christian Radio station that regularly talked about the Grand Canyon as being evidence of Noah’s flood. I’ve since become pickier about my scientific sources, and more curious about other traditions’ creation mythologies.

As part of my goals to introduce my children to other religious and mythological traditions in a non-indoctrional way came across In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Barry Moser.

I’ve started reading some of these stories with the children and we’ve been talking about them.

The first story we read was The Pea-Pod Man, Raven the Creator where man emerges out of a pea-pod and meets Raven who can transmogrify into a humanoid and make little animals, and a companion woman for man, out of clay. Death does not enter this story, but little animals (and woman) out of mud do.

We also read about Death the Creator and Quat the Creator, both stories introduce death as being caused by some sort of stupidity. In Death the Creator, it is because the God Alatangana kidnaps Death’s daughter and marries her, and Death demands one of their children.

In Quat the Creator, Quat is one of twelve brothers born from the stone-mother Quatgoro. Quat was the eldest and he made little figures out of clay and danced life into them. One of Quat’s younger brothers, Tangaro the Fool, carved little figures out of wood, danced life into them, and then lost interest and buried them, about a week later he unburied them but they were stinky and rotten, so they had to be buried again. Because of Tangaro’s actions death entered the world.

There are more wonderful stories, including (but not limited to) First Man Becomes the Devil – Ulgen the Creator, Turtle Dives to the Bottom of the Sea – Earth Starter the Creator, Spider Anase finds Something – Wulbari the Creator, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky – Divine Woman the Creator, In the Beginning – Elohim the Creator.  The Frost Giant – Imir the Creator, The Sun-God and the Dragon – God Ra the Creator, First Man, First Woman – Yahweh the Creator. 

As we read, we talk about how these ancient cultures were trying to explain everything happening around them, and answer the big questions: where did we come from, why do we die, who or what created us, what is going on in our world. We are also noticing similarities in the stories — there is a lot of mud-building and stupidity.

Some of the stories are strange and dark, which makes sense, life is strange and there are dark moments that need to be explained. Where did we come from? We emerged out of a pea-pod! We were made from earthen or little mud figures (this is a popular one). How did death enter the world? Someone was foolish and buried little wooden people. Someone was disobedient and listened to a talking snake. Someone married Death’s Daughter without his permission.

In the Beginning is a wonderful resource to explore a wide range of creation stories. I highly recommend it for children and grownups of all ages who are curious about other culture’s creation stories, and in learning how our ancestors explored the answers to life’s big questions.

Return of the Mormons Part 1: Saint Kat of the Sparkling Water

Long time readers know I have a long and complicated history of relationships with Mormon Missionaries. They are one of the reasons I stopped calling myself “sort of Christian” and embraced Secular Humanism, they were one of the early influences of this blog, and in some ways, their optimistic faith reminds me a little of me when I was still deep in Christian Science.

A fresh set of missionaries came by recently, young, optimistic, and unprepared for an opinionated woman (who also happened to be a mother). It was the middle of a sweltering heatwave and they were overdressed in black pants, and long sleeves. They noticed that the kids had come to the front door, and started their spiel on how Mormons honor their mothers, and how motherhood is the most important job, and they really respect that. I got the impression they were saying what they thought I wanted to hear, their religion reveres mothers, and their version of God and Jesus makes family important (or something.)

They got a polite lecture on Old Testament morality, human sacrifice and Paul, and why I’m now a Secular Humanist. I politely explained we obviously had come to very different conclusions from reading the Bible, and no thank you, I don’t need any extra assistance. I tried to keep it short, I didn’t want to completely lose my cool in front of the kids. Polite as ever, they thanked me for my time, went on their way in the sweltering heat.

The kids and I left to run errands, and the missionaries were a few houses up the street. I pulled over and offered them some bottled sparkling water, I don’t know why, it felt like the right thing to do. They were very appreciative. One told me I was “a saint,” I told them I wouldn’t take it quite that far, I’m just trying to be a decent human being, and really it was hot out. We may have drastic differences in theology, but they’re still people and on a day with temperatures soaring over 100*F, people walking around in the heat need water.

chasing the fantasies that filled our minds

Regular Sunday posting resumes today. Happy 2015!


In September/October of 2014 I went through an internal rebellion. I realized that I want to consciously, intentionally move away from blogging (almost) exclusively about Christian Science. Part of me feels like I need to move on because I’m not in Christian Science anymore, and part of me wants to make information about the dangers of Christian Science more easily accessible. I feel like this is a fine line.

I’m also going to have more guest posts so others can share their experiences and thoughts, and I plan to collaborate with fellow x-CS blogger, Emerging Gently to cover some of the larger topics.

Christian Science aside, there is other stuff I want to talk about too, and I have a massive stack of books on my desk that I’m hoping to read through this year. I have so many ideas I’m working on in my head about life, death, the universe, where I’m going, and I want to branch out. Time management is going to be important. 

I recently came across Mark Green‘s essay at AtheopaganismHow I Became a Godless Heathen” and I highly recommend reading it. I’m not ready to open embrace the “Godless Heathen” title, so I’ll claim I’m a secular Humanist (with possibilianism leanings — but consider yourself warned, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). Although, as my husband points out “I don’t like humans,” I do like that

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

And it is an -ism (I have a soft spot for -isms).


triumph of the light of right & reason

A regular reader recently e-mailed me a link for the Center for Inquiry. Everything I know about them, I learned from their about page and website http://www.centerforinquiry.net.

  • The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.
  • To oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past, and the dogmas of the present, the world needs an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. The Center for Inquiry is that institution.

I like their mission, we need more science, reason and inquiry. Humanistic values are a good thing to promote as well. I also like how they clearly enumerate their goals – goals I happen to agree with.

  • Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:
  1. an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy
  2. an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies
  3. an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.

Growing up in and leaving Christian Science, I have been both directly and indirectly influenced by religion, pseudoscience, and the stigma of my non-belief. Christian Science has done it’s best to work into the upper echelons of government, and has been lobbying congress since forever.

I’ve been fairly quiet about my non-belief/path away from Christian Science around certain family members and many of my friends – there are those who understand (may of whom have escaped), and then there are those who are “disappointed” or who have accused me of throwing away the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

It can be lonely being “out” and not everyone understands. There are tons of atheist blogs, dozens of former fundamentalist blogs (including niche fundamentalist blogs like former home schoolers), questioning Christians, decidedly former Christians, Humanistic Pagans, but very very few former Christian Scientists (except for those who have found Jesus and occupy space over at Christian Way).

I’m not sure if I’d find what I’m looking for at a Center for Inquiry, although to be fair, I’m still not sure, what I’m looking for, but I’m enjoying the journey, and I don’t live near enough to a Center for Inquiry easily visit. I suppose I’ll have to settle for adding a podcast or two to my regular listening, The Human Bible looks like it could be interesting.

I was also pointed to a YouTube video on “Women Leaving Religion” Panel from CFI’s Women in Secularism 2 Conference 2013. While there are no former Christian Scientists on the panel, It is fascinating to hear about the other women’s experiences, and their paths away from the religions they’ve been raised in. I liked their perspective on what it meant to be “authentic” in the religious culture and who enforces it, how it is enforced, and what we see (it starts about 30 minutes in). It is really amazing, and I plan to check out the other Center For Inquiry videos.

Totally unrelated to everything else, I think they’ve just become my new favorite holiday-card supplier, although I still really like these (for more holiday ranting, you can read my post: The Perfect Christmas).