Here’s my weekend wrap up.
The 2012 Atheist Convention was held in Melbourne over the weekend. I kept track of some proceedings via folks I follow on Twitter. The most interesting tweets by far were by Australian writer and commentator Catherine Deveny. I like Deveny (I don’t know her personally), but she doesn’t like me (she doesn’t know me personally), mainly because I’m a Christian, and Deveny reserves a special kind of spite-filled disdain for people who believe in God. Deveny uses twitter in a way many of us can only dream of, but I should mention that it has gotten her into trouble in the past. Anyhoo, I was following Deveny’s acerbic tweeting from the Atheists Convention, which included the following sparklers:
“I do hate. I hate religion taking credit for human brings (sic) inate goodness.”
“My issue is religion’s hijacking of the natural emotional, psychological, moral and intellectual development of children.”
“I’m an atheist because I’m an adult.”
I know, she is quite awesome.
However, I did get the impression the atheist convention was a massive bash against Christians, so I tweeted using #atheistcon the following:
“This militant, hate-filled neo-atheism seeks to replace religious bigotry with non-religious bigotry – what does that achieve?”
“Most kinds of stupid are not exclusive to people who believe in God. Being a complete jerk to others is something anyone can do.”
Which incited several responding tweets including the following:
“Are you here at #atheistcon or are you just imagining?”
“Are you tarring all atheists with that militant, hate-filled brush? Plainly untrue picture if you were here at #atheistcon”
I was just imagining. I was tarring away merrily, as I imagined those smug, evangelical-hating atheists were. Or maybe just as Deveny and her ilk would have me believe.
Strangely enough, I ended up in a twitter conversation with a couple of #atheistcon delegates, mainly because I enticed them into it with a glib line about writing a piece on the conference. I was told flat out by a couple of non-Christian people it would be unethical for someone who did not attend the conference to write about it, clear evidence that you actually don’t need to be a Christian to berate others on their morals. I claimed that it would be okay for me to write the piece because I hadn’t attended any of the recent Christian conferences either (Colour, the annual evangelical women’s conference run by Hillsong, or Presence 2012, a Christian City Church/C3 mega-event, this year featuring author John Bevere).
Here’s why I don’t do women’s conferences, by the way.
My new atheist friends weren’t buying my equal-non-attendance excuse. They said I ought to get my butt to the conference and not believe everything I read on twitter. Go-osh. As if I would do that. Why have twitter if you’re just going to go places and see what things are like for yourself?
The atheists said about their particular conference -
“Some tweets are not representative of the conference. Presentations are focused on positive change.”
What kind of change, I asked, social change?
“Freedom from religious strictures. Equality. Autonomy. Laws based on consequences, not distaste.”
Interesting. Laws based on consequences, not distaste? Sounds like something a kiddie-botherer might say. Not that I presumed this delegate was a paedophile, but I found that comment interesting. To be fair, maybe it said more about my presumption on what kind of person would be at an atheists conference than anything else. I prodded further as to how religious strictures were affecting non-believers in their lives.
“Look at the laws we have regarding alcohol sales on Good Friday. Religious strictures definitely have an impact on us all.”
Because we ought to be able to get a beer 365 days of the year, fuck yeah. Damn religious nuts. But then, you don’t want to get me started on issues regarding alcohol consumption in Australia. (My husband is an alcoholic and we don’t drink.)
The delegate didn’t bring up marriage equality, so I did.
“Do you think an awareness exists amongst atheists that many people of faith are fighting for same equalities eg; SS marriage?”
To which the delegate replied,
“Yes, I think most atheists are aware that liberal religious folk are the majority. We are annoyed they don’t protest the ACL .(Australian Christian Lobby) The public political face of christianity is the ACL. Liberal Christians need to work much harder to defeat that image.”
Interesting point. An atheist perceives that the Australian Christian Lobby is the political face of Christianity in Australia. This may be cause to celebrate – or get very, very depressed – depending on your political pursuasion. I explained to my new friend how the ACL is not representative of the views of a great many Christians in Australia. I pointed to the work of Anthony Venn-Brown as an example of an advocate for social change reflective of the convictions of a great many moderate Christians in Australian society.
“I see Jim Wallace’s (Managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby) opinions in the paper. Why not yours, if he’s supported by a tiny minority?”
#Atheistcon delegate had an excellent point. Something for me to think about.
The other point I felt I wanted to make was comparing feedback I’d had about the general behaviour of delegates at the conferences.
Here are two reports I had from two recent mega-conferences held in capital cities in Australia.
“It was crazy. We all waited outside while ____ went ahead to fight the crowds. She was the strongest in our group and most likely to be able to get in. It was a madhouse, I had never seen anything like it. They elbowed and shoved everyone else out of the way to get the best seats. No way I was going in there. I was afraid of being crushed.”
“I’m not going back until they have ticketed seating. There were thousands of people all rushing each other to get the best seats in the venue. I was genuinely scared.”
This, from the other conference.
“Neither seen nor heard of any pushing & shoving. It’s been civilized, polite, happy and friendly. Lots of hugs.”
“Completely worth it. The acceptance, the variety of people…the acceptance..”
“It’s joyful. Many of us are friends online and from many states and countries. All together for a party.”
I’d like to point out one was a Christian womens conference, the other was the atheist conference held on the weekend. You decide which feedback was from which conference.
Other weird stuff that happened
I had four articles on Burnside Writers Collective at the one time this week. Other writers were justified in asking if it was part of my take-over attempt. Per-haps…….
It was my birthday on Friday. The 13th. Also atheist and author Christopher Hitchens birthday. We also shared a cancer diagnosis, however, the marvellous Mr. Hitchens died, whilst inexplicably I did not. The Godless Hitchens provided me with the revelation that the word “heaven” is a marvellous verb, a useful adjective, but a shocking noun.
Friday was also the day the film version of the book Blue Like Jazz was released in the USA. I financially and morally backed it, thus am an associate producer and supporter, however, I very much doubt I’ll get to see it anytime soon. I do however have a pretty cool signed pre-movie-production poster which is the envy of all my friends.
Stuff I read this week
Jen writes the awesome blog People I Want To Punch In The Throat – My Blogging Advice
Rachel Held Evans interviews Kim Van Brunt in Leaving Church, Finding Faith: Why We Didn’t Stay for the Kids
Richard Dawkins and archbishop Cardinal George Pell duked it out on Q and A, and what a beat up it was…but I’m of course referring to the media lead up to the TV program, not the actual discussion, which was a fizzer on a grand scale.
A Grandmother’s Tale: When Anne Lamott’s Teen Son Became a Dad - because our eldest son made us grandparents when he was eighteen, and I love that Anne Lamott and I have one more thing in common.
A short list this week. When I checked my iPhone’s web history there were way too many Angry Birds walkthroughs. Need to rectify that.
Crazy, morbid and fascinating stuff people Googled to get to my site this week
Old lady tattoo - I get this at least 100 times every week.
How to do sex - sorry to disappoint.
What plastic surgery has Lisa Wilkinson had - I get this a lot too. Why would anyone need to know this?
World Trade Center jumpers – these images do not exist, on my site or anywhere else, thankfully.
R.I.P. tattoos on neck – you need a job more than you need that tattoo, pal.
What were your interesting events/ weird things/ reads-of-the-week this past week? Leave a comment below.