Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not coming out at work

Okay, I'm not just copy-catting Ordinary Girl this time...this really is a subject that was already brewing in my head lately...but OG tripped it off. :)

The subject is whether or not to be open about being an Atheist in the workplace. After all, there are many Christians who are open and vocal about their beliefs at work.

I'm fairly quiet about my beliefs at work...and part of the reason is because I used to debate Religion and Evolution in college, and after a few years I learned that rational arguments cannot disarm faith. If anything, rational arguments make people defensive and they retreat further into faith.

If people come to Atheism, they generally have to discover it for themselves.

But there's another reason I don't express my lack of faith: I don't want the pressure of being a representative of a minority. I think that people would scrutinize my actions, character, and morals if they knew I was an Atheist.

I've heard some American Muslims say they feel pressure to be extra good and friendly since 9/11...because they feel (probably legitimately) that other Americans are watching and studying them more intently these days. They feel pressure to prove that not all Muslims are bad. (Which is ridiculous because any adult should realize that good and bad people come in all flavors.)

I don't think I'm up to the challenge of being studied. If I say I'm an Atheist, the follow-up question is almost invariably about how I was raised. If anyone asks me about my parents or upbringing, I can't say a single word about that without lying or giving them ammunition against me.

Also, I'm a technical leader at work...sorta the head-geek, and I don't want people to lose in faith in ME. I know in my heart I can be a force for good and help everyone at work...but only if people trust me. If came out as an Atheist, it would surely undermine that.

I guess that's politics 101. The higher up you get in any position of authority or power, the more you have to play your cards close to the vest.

So, maybe my reasons for not being open about Atheism are a bit unusual. But it does work. Does it make me a chicken? Maybe...but if being a chicken helps me and everyone around me at work...then I like to think of myself as the heroic self-sacrificing chicken! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Republican .NET

I used Facebook to find someone I knew in High School. His name is Jeremy, and I haven't heard from him since 1987.

Well, it turns out Jeremy majored in Computer Science, just like me.

It also turns out that Jeremy is a far-right Republican and very conservative Christian. (I did not know that in High School)

Wanna guess what kind of software development he does? He does Microsoft .NET...and he specializes in Microsoft Sharepoint.

I think I had a blog post about this some very long time ago, but it continues to puzzle me as to how politics play into technology, and why Republicans seem to have a bias in favor of Microsoft, and Democrats have a bias against Microsoft.

(Of course I would argue it's not a bias to be against Microsoft if you are right.) :)

Is there something about the actual technologies that excites the Democrat or Republican mind? Or is it simply that Republican love big powerful rich companies (like Wal-Mart and Microsoft) whereas Democrats resist so much money and power being concentrated on so few?

Maybe Republicans always want to go with the safest and most conservative choice, whereas Democrats like to be experimental?

Maybe it's a combination of all these things and more. I don't know.

I hate to stereotype people...but I see this pattern so often that surely politics has found it's way into technology.

I find that very disturbing, because surely technology people have enough "religious" wars as it is without bringing politics and REAL religion into the debate.

So sad.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Things we cannot have

I had a comment to post in reply to this blog post by the chaplain:

But my comment grew to more than 3 paragraphs, so I made a post of my own about it.

I would like to applaud BlackSun's remarks (in the comments section) and add a few of my own.

People are almost never totally honest in the reasons they give for being bothered or offended by something. Often times they are not even honest with themselves. We've all heard of rabidly anti-gay homophobes who are actually closet homosexuals.

I'm just not convinced this girl (in the post) is telling the truth. She may not even know the truth of her own feelings. Are we sure she's really religious? Maybe she has some other kinds of physical issues that make sex a problem for her. Maybe she was even traumatized by incest or rape. Of course she would never want to publicly admit either of these things, so she pretends to be the good and pure girl who just wants modesty, going so far as to even join a website that's all about modesty. She's looking for an excuse she can use to justify her feelings to others (and to herself). If she is actually harboring deep pain or shame, then I feel great pity for her.

Or maybe I'm giving her too much complexity and she really is just a simpleton who was raised in an oppressive household. :)

Religion is responsible for a majority of these problems, but not all of them, because there is something runs deeper in human nature.

Many years ago, I knew someone who loved golf as much as life itself. But then he had a crushed shoulder that prevented him from playing golf. He became agitated whenever people around him would talk about golf. He became golf-repressed. As ridiculous as that sounds, it was a real problem. He really harbored a bitterness about the subject, and I wouldn't be surprised if today he views golfers as lazy, arrogant, country-club snobs.

Some women who are against abortion are harboring resentment and jealousy because they didn't have a choice when they got knocked up. But they don't want to admit that (even to themselves) so they couch it in religious arguments.

Some people are sexually-repressed but not by choice. Either they have a disability, or they are unable to find a partner, or they have a partner who is unable to satisfy them. These people are likely to become resentful of our culture that puts such a strong value on sex and sexuality.

People who have struggled with poverty their whole life can become bitter towards people who do well. I grew up in a state where I met too many people who honestly hated college kids and college graduates. They would call college people sissies and fools and cowards and communists all kinds of bad names. Deep down in side, I'm sure they are just harboring bitterness and resentment that they never got a chance for an easier life.

Life wasn't fair to these people, so they take out their anger on the people who had a fair life.

So in the deepest sense, this has nothing to do with sexuality or religion. This is a common human disease where we let ourselves be tortured and tormented by something we desperately want but can't have. But we don't want to admit (even to ourselves) that we can be so petty and desperate over things that shouldn't be so important to us. And if we can't admit it and be okay with ourselves as we are, then these issues will only solidify with age.

I consider myself lucky to be a highly introspective person. There are a lot of pathologies I could have fallen victim to if I wasn't constantly "debugging" my internal thought process. I am often frustrated with people who aren't introspective. With those kinds of people, you have to just hope they were programmed right from the start, because they sure-as-heck aren't ever going to apply patches to their own mental software. :)

But I think part of the reason I CAN be so introspective is because I don't feel bound to any ideology or dogma. I have always known since I was a child that I'm totally making EVERYTHING up as I go (because I had no parents to teach me). And even today, everything I am is a result of a tremendous amount of trial-and-error on my part, so I won't guarantee the accuracy of any of it. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Christian lechers

This is just an observation...and I'm formulating theories as I'm writing pardon the rambling... :)

I think we've all met people in our lives who are lechers. And by "lecher" I don't mean your garden variety pervert. I mean the total jackasses who sexually harasses at every opportunity. I'm talking about managers who invite the cute employees to lots of 1-on-1 meetings and hit on them constantly and pressure them into going out for drinks. I'm talking about married guys who pick up girls (or hookers) on every business trip away from home, or the guys who can't go more than a minute in a casual conversation without diving into sexually explicit details of everything they've done or would like to do to every woman or man they know. I'm talking about guys who discuss their plans to take a vacation to a country where the "age of consent" is less than 16.

I've met 6 hard-core lechers in my life, and I think I've found #7 at my current place of employment. (2 of these 7 are women!).

It's not that I'm so terribly deeply offended by these people...because often times I can just avoid them or ignore them. But what is bothering me is that I've noticed a trend that is too much to be a coincidence: EVERY one of these jerks I've met is fervent, loud, bible-clutching Christian. Most are Evangelicals! They are sexual harassers and Jesus freaks at the same time!!

One guy from a previous job would sit as his desk listening to Christian Rock and Gospel music all day long, and then he would go out to lunch and paw the waitresses and loudly tell stories that would make a porn star blush! Then he would go back to work and put on headphones and sing along for the glory of God. (I'm not exaggerating. He really was that extreme!)

I've never met an Atheist harasser. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I am saying that is seems pretty clear that religion does not guarantee morality or compassion for others.

You see, in order to live with their obvious hypocrisy, they must take to heart the Bible's statements that all men are sinners, but that Jesus paid for these sins. So, if the Bible says I can't help but be a sinner, and that my sins will be forgiven, then that pretty much gives me a blank check!

"Jesus died for these we better make them good ones!"

As an Atheist, I know that nobody is paying for MY sins except myself and any other people I affect. So I feel especially obligated to be as decent and respectful as I possibly can be to others.

But these Christian Jekyll-and-Hyde bastards can do whatever violent or depraved behaviors they want to do on a Saturday night so long as they drag themselves into church the next morning...and that makes it alright.

One guy I knew many years ago was obsessed with getting the "legal age" lowered to 12. And his argument was always "If they can bleed, they can breed! They married that young in the Bible!" He had no conscience or respect for others. Just because something is biologically possible doesn't mean it's in their best interest! How do you not care about what is best for others? How do you take Christianity seriously and yet walk through life like one big "id"?!?

I got so sick of working with this individual that I made destroying his career a pet project of mine for about two months. Fortunately he just quit the job and I never had to see him again.

One theory of mine is that the Bible tends to diminish the value and humanity of a small or large degree depending on how seriously you want to interpret it. Traditional Evangelical families may not provide these men with good role models of smart, independent women. In fact they might even have come from families where women were treated very badly.

BUT that still doesn't explain the two female lechers I've met! Neither one of them are capable of carrying any conversation for more than a minute with dragging it into the gutter...often in front of younger male employees who report to them. Maybe they grew up in a house full of male lechers and they just got used to behaving that way? But still, how can they possibly NOT notice that nobody else in the work place talks like that or laughs at their jokes or participates with them in these conversations?

I don't want to paint with a broad brush here, because most religious people are not serious lechers. I don't think being religious can make you a creep, but I do suspect that being a creep (or a sadistic jerk or a power-freak) makes you susceptible to the message of religion.

Most strongly conservative men are high-testosterone, red-meat loving, pro-military, gun-loving, deer-hunting, beer-drinking, football-watching, macho-men. Or at least that's the kind of strong man they admire. Those traits are all badges of honor among conservative men (and conservative women). This is the "Joe Six-pack" that conservatives idolize.

Religion is very attractive to these kinds of people, because religion offers authority, certainty, power, discipline, order, and something worth killing for. It's not attractive because it promises to make them behave like good people...although that is the disguise used to cover for religions indulgences.

If you could buy a box of religion at a store, the label on the front of the box would say "It makes you a good person! It increases morality and compassion!" But the ingredients on the back would be "Contains: authority, obedience, conformity, unquestioning acceptance of dogma, certainty, violence, blood sacrifices, marriage to young girls, and corn syrup". It would also have a disclaimer: "Does not contain compassion, critical thinking, self-analysis, introspection, respect for others, or peanuts"

And that is where the hypocrisy comes from. Religion cultivates an innocent goody-goody facade that masks the true dark desires that it is really made of.

As an Atheist, I feel like I've spent my whole life being beaten down with everyone's belief that religion leads to morality and that religious people are "good" and moral people.

But from my personal experience, the most morally corrupt and twisted people I've ever met in my life have all been...without exception...devout Christians. Some of the most twisted and sadistic behavior in all of history (like the Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials) comes from Christianity! Do some reading sometime into some of the torture devices used during the Inquisition. Those people were FREAKS!

And don't forget about all the boy-raping priests (and subsequent cover-ups) that have been uncovered over the past decade! Those guys are the epitome of sexual perversion combined with religious devotion!

I don't want to make it sound like I'm some kind of prude. I have the Internet after all. I've seen it all, and very little shocks me. (Except the original "2 girls, 1 cup" video...GROSS!!!!!!!!) I'm absolutely fine with people fantasizing about anything they want and indulging in whatever activities they wanna do between two (or more) consenting adults, but I'm NOT fine when they see no need to control themselves in a public space or work environment where other people should have a reasonable expectation of safe and mature behavior. And I'm especially not fine when they wrap this behavior in Christian holier-than-thou hypocrisy!

I'm willing to offer the benefit of the doubt and believe that that bad people are just bad people, and whatever religion they do or don't have will not change their bad behavior. Christianity won't "fix" them anymore than Atheism would "corrupt" them. Atrocities happen when bad people come into absolute power. The "absolute power" is the real problem, regardless of how they got that power.

But...without religion...there would at least be one less road to absolute power!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Woodchuck

I made the mistake of joining Facebook and using my woodchuck picture for my photo. (Okay maybe that's TWO mistakes).

Now people are finally asking me "What's with the woodchuck?!?"

I consider the woodchuck to be my animal guide. (Or spirit guide or animal totem or whatever you call them).

Of course I don't really believe in spirits or any mystical powers of a big fat rodent. But I think it is useful (or at least fun) to define archetypes that give us direction.

It's like those online tests for "Which Superhero are you?" or "Which Cylon are you?" Of course those things aren't real, but I think it's a good way to be introspective and analyze who you are or what your motivations are.

Ever since I grew up in Kentucky, I seem to come across an unusual number of woodchucks. (Some people call them groundhogs. Same thing.)

The thing that really gave me the chills was that on more than one occasion I've examined some of my old photos very closely and found a hidden woodchuck I hadn't seen, in the picture, looking at me. And I'm not a camera person, so I don't take very many photos.

Many years ago I was reading about animal totems, and I looked up "Woodchuck", and it said it was one of the few animal totems that will follow you for life. It also described the woodchuck spirit as being solitary, introspective, and highly philosophical, especially on the topics of life and death. Perfect. I decided then and there that my animal guide was a woodchuck. :)

So there you have it. I don't like pictures of myself, so I just prop up my animal guide as a symbol for the kind of person I am.

In the "Which superhero are you?" tests, I usually come up as "Spiderman"...which I don't agree with. In the "Which supervillain are you?" tests, I come up as the "Joker", which I totally agree with...but that's just lame to put the Joker as my picture. So...I'm a woodchuck! :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Warm Fuzzy!

Wow!! :-)

Some of my co-workers surprised me at work today with Christmas presents and a card signed by everyone! That has never happened before!

I am horribly embarrassed by the whole thing, and I'm sure I don't deserve it. I feel like I either want to curl up into a little ball and hide, or hold my head up and actually accept the fact that a bunch of people actually thought kindly of me!

I took down my entire "Happy Meme" because I have at least 10 real human beings to be thankful for now.

My spirit is more than re-kindled, it's on fire!

I feel like I could take on the world, or at least take on any technology or managerial dragons that threaten us in the coming months!

Foolish, silly, immature optimism? Probably. But it FEELS good. :) :)

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Evil Dead Christmas!

Christmas seems to be coming SO fast this year. Normally I'm prepared and have all my shopping done way in advance, but for this year I've barely even started.

I can't figure out why the date is coming so fast and why I'm moving so slow, and the image I keep having in my head is that comical scene of the Deadite chasing Ash through the woods in the movie "Evil Dead II".

It's like Christmas is chasing me, gaining on me fast and yet somehow not catching me, charging at me with a roar and dramatic camera angles, and I'm stumbling over trees and crashing through doors trying to stay ahead just ahead of something I can't see.

Okay...I know that's a weird visualization...but that's what Christmas feels like this year! Aaaaa!