Monday, March 7, 2011

Biting the Hand That Feeds

I love the Slacktivist. The biggest moment of my blogging life (and one of the biggest of my real life) was when Fred put me on his blog roll. I have arrived! Every time I visit his blog, I scroll down just to see Forever in Hell on the blog roll. Every time. I am so proud that someone like Fred thinks my blog is worth reading.

I'm not entirely certain I want to be there anymore. And my chest hurts just typing that.

It's not Fred. Fred is still Fred and he's still amazing and his blog is still amazing. It's where his blog is now, Fred recently moved his blog from typepad, a neutral blog hosting service, to patheos, a blog service with a definite slant- and it ain't neutral towards atheists, homosexuals, pagans or many others.

Patheos' official entry on paganism, for example:

Paganism represents a wide variety of traditions that emphasize reverence for nature and a revival of ancient polytheistic religious practices. Some modern forms of Paganism have their roots in 19th century CE European nationalism (including the British Order of Druids), but most contemporary Pagan groups trace their roots to the 1960s, and have an emphasis on archetypal psychology and a spiritual interest in nature. Paganism is not a traditional religion per se because it does not have any official doctrine, but it does have some common characteristics joining the great variety of traditions.

Paganism is not a traditional religion? Um, paganism is the traditional religion. Paganism, in one form or another predates Christianity by eons, but it's lacking in a speshul book, so it's not "traditional". mm-hmm. I also find it amazingly hilarious that contemporary pagan groups trace their roots to 50 years ago. I'd say the Zeus-worshipping Romans would find that confusing, but Christians should as well. Pagans are mentioned many times in the New Testament, which was written prior to 1960. (I checked.)

Atheism generally refers to a critical ideology that rejects metaphysical beliefs in any deity.

Actually, atheism is a lack of belief in god(s). It's not an ideology, critical or otherwise, although some atheists, such as myself, can be quite critical of belief. I'm also a little confused by the modifier "metaphysical" in that statement. Do atheists accept other sorts of beliefs in deities? I . . . don't know. What . . . why is that word there?

Atheism is the antithesis of theism, which both believes in and attempts to affirm the existence of a god or gods.

No, atheism is not the antithesis of theism. Look, theists are just like atheists, except that atheists take it one god further. If you believe in the god of Christianity, then by definition you reject Krishnu, Zeus, Odin and the thousands of other gods that have been/are worshipped. Hindus worship a panoply of gods, but reject Yhwh, Zeus, Odin, etc. Atheism and theism are not opposites by any stretch of the imagination. (Never mind that a good number of atheists don't give a shit about these arguments. They don't believe and they couldn't care less.)

Atheism assumes and often attempts to prove the impossibility of the existence of gods.

Sigh. I might spend a good portion of my time discussing the inherent ridiculousness of many beliefs (god sacrificed god to god to change a rule god made? really?), but proving the impossibility of the existence of gods? Proving a negative is a fool's game. It's up to the theists to prove the existence of the gods they assert, not the other way around.

Atheism has often been associated with agnosticism, but these two ideologies are not interchangeable. Atheism is distinguished from agnosticism in that the latter allows for the possibility of the existence of the divine whereas the former claims an absolute rejection of the concept.

I'll let that pass.

In the 19th century, Karl Marx

Oh, come the fuck on. Marx? Seriously? We're bringing out Marx in the one paragraph segment on atheism?

championed another form of atheism labeled "materialism," which stands in opposition to the metaphysical claim of "spiritualism." Marx claimed that "religion" and concepts of God were political and social constructs. Materialism claims that knowledge and truth are only available through nature and the material world. Materialism rejects the existence of a spiritual world and any knowledge that claims to come from it.


Sigmund Freud championed atheism in claiming that concepts of God are just psychological deformities. Another strand of atheism is the existentialism signified by Friedrich Nietzsche and others who have claimed that belief in God restricts humanity's freedom and agency.


And that's it. That's the entire entry on atheism. BlahblahblahMARXFREUDNIETZSCHE!!!1!!!eleventy!!

Fred, man, I wish you the best with this patheos thing, but, really? Fucking really?

Oh, and Fred? You might want to check out what happens when you search "homosexual" on patheos. It's . . . revealing.

Yeah, so, I don't know what I think at this point. I didn't get much sleep last night, the weather is horrendous and I'm cranky, achey and tired. Maybe I'll feel differently after some sunshine and a good night's sleep. Maybe not. I would like to hear anyone else's opinion on this. I try to be ethical on this blog. (Well, it's not like I can make money with it, so why not be ethical?) I don't mock people I think might actually be mentally ill. I don't mock blogging teenagers. I link to atheists with political views that give me headaches because I believe in an atheist community that accepts all atheists, regardless of other viewpoints they hold.

What I'm trying to say is, I'm upset and I feel I might not be thinking clearly about this. I do have a sense of ethics and I try to hold to it. I could use some outside opinions. Thank you.


  1. Other than sites I read regularly, I link to people that link me back. If I had to agree with everything on every site I linked to, I wouldn't have any links.

  2. I suppose that's true, and I don't agree with everything that's appearing to the right of this comment, but . . . I'm feeling uncomfortable.

    Maybe it's the rappers. I am a crusader against privilege, but hearing the line "people cross the street when they see me/because every n**** walks with a gun" made me realize that not being the recipient of racism shields me from a lot. It made me think about a lot of things. I dunno.

  3. I would never have found you if you weren't on Fred's blogroll. I keep hoping one day I'll be on it (-:

    I agree that I am not happy with the changes.

    Btw, Here's some more material for you.

    As a man who plays video games, I'm tired of being treated like some sort of manchild because I happen to like that particular medium. I wish Mass Effect had got some press other than for that sex scene. It has an actual plot and interesting characters and think it could have possibly made some sort of progress towards video games being accepted as something successful adults who aren't losers can play, had Fox News not run wild with the sex scene, because damn, that's a good game.

  4. Here's more from the same woman:

  5. Jason, PF and I have both talked about this.

    Here's me: On Idiots with Shovels

    And here's PF: Die, Die, Die My Darling

    I've also got another one in the works that I just didn't get around to finishing.

    As to the issue at hand...yeah.

    I love Fred. I love Slacktivist. I'm not overly worried about his blog on patheos, but I don't like patheos in general. I have no intent on giving up on Fred, though, as long as he realizes that he's now taken on a great deal of responsibility in making sure that the trolls don't take over his blog.

    If he decides that patheos is not what he thought it was and moves somewhere else, though, that would make me very happy.

  6. On the one hand, I'm like, "It's Fred, things'll be cool. Don't worry about it."

    On the other hand, I'm like, "The fucking Anchoress is a big shot at patheos."

    On somebody else's hand, I'm all, "Yeah, well, Fred is the other end of the spectrum, he should represent that."

    On my right foot, I'm all, "Yeah, well, he was doing that just fine on typepad."

    On my left foot, "I have no idea what the advantages of patheos are for Fred. Perhaps they outweight the (shudder) Anchoress."

    (Does that other person have a hand left?) "I have no idea what the advantages of patheos are. That makes me suspicious."

    My mind, it's a crowded, confusing place.

  7. oops...missed that somehow... thanks Ged.

  8. I'm going to assume Fred has full editorial control over his blog. I'm also going to assume that he has moderation privileges over his comments, too. That's how it seems.

    But, yes, the question becomes, "Is he getting something out of being with patheos?" My assumption is that the answer is cash money. Or a check of some sort.

    It's probably like PeeZed being on Scienceblogs, but instead of an evil conglomerate of sciencey stuff it's an evil conglomerate of religiousy stuff. Still, I can't begrudge him the move if he keeps the Anchoress's acolytes at bay...

  9. Ah, is that what the issue is? I didn't follow the comments on that thread - I was a bit WTF about the whole thing - but I haven't so much as glanced at Patheos-in-general. And if their idea of tolerance and diversity requires them to include intolerance and bigotry, then they're doing it wrong.

    By the way, PF, could I beg a spot on your blogroll? I mean, I'm not writing an atheist blog so much as a "whatever comes into my head" blog, but when I do comment about religious matters it's from an unbeliever's perspective. No pressure, obviously - if you feel like you want your blogroll to feature more... focused... atheist blogs, that's cool too. I promise not to storm off in a huff or anything.

  10. Ask (me) and you shall receive. Really, anyone who wants to ask, feel free. Every now and then I get motivated to go looking through my followers and comments for new blogs to link through, but not that often. So, if you want on the blogroll, just let me know. You don't have to be an atheist blog, per se, just not spewing antiatheist propoganda.

  11. Ah, is that what the issue is? I didn't follow the comments on that thread - I was a bit WTF about the whole thing - but I haven't so much as glanced at Patheos-in-general.

    The problem with the comments to which Fred directly responded -- and the follow-up comments for that matter -- is that it seemed like a bunch of bitching and moaning about a couple of one-off trolls, one of whom had popped up on the Typepad blog in the past, anyway.

    So the proximate cause of the bitching was actually just a whole lot of, "I don't like change and I want to find a reason to complain!" However, it takes very little digging to discover that patheos does actually have problems. That's why my approach is, "Give Fred the benefit of the doubt, but don't get out of the boat." It's like Scienceblogs, but rather than being able to jump from one blog you like to another to a third that has an interesting topic on that particular day you're jumping from one blog that's good to a whole fetid swamp of rotten mangoes.

  12. Maybe I’m just thick in the morning (never mind the 4 PM display – morning is whenever I wake up!), but having read those excerpts you quoted, I honestly don’t find much to take issue with. Other than a few quibbles about semantics (like that weird inclusion of “metaphysical”), I actually agree with the general idea of what’s being said. The mentions of Marx, Freud and Nietzsche* certainly don’t come across as the usual “Stalin-Hitler-Pol-Pot-Mao!” bullshit, but merely as related observations about various views on atheism (not that I necessarily agree with them).

    And I dunno anything about Marx or his supposed coining of “materialism”, but I have always understood materialism to signify the belief that knowledge and wisdom are best acquired through rational observation/testing of the natural world. Unless my understanding is flawed, then isn’t that what skepticism/critical thought (and, in part, atheism) are all about?

    (BTW, I am rather proud of being on your own blogroll, even if I don’t believe I’m mentioned so before. :3)

    * Unrelatedly, anyone able to spell that word in one go, without reference, deserves a medal or two.

  13. *‘I’ve’ mentioned so. Not ‘I’m’. Though I’ve been mentioned, myself, before. I think.

  14. I don't have a problem with Marx, Nietszche and Freud, per se, except that they are dog whistles for evangelicals in the US. You reference Hitler and you've Godwinned your own site. You reference Marx instead, there's not Godwin, but the evangelicals know what you meant. Freud is the same way. Evangelicals hate psychology, and Freud is the father of modern psychology- sort of. He's to psychology what Sanger is to Planned Parenthood. Sure, he started the whole ball rolling, but current work in the field has little to do with his theories- and his theories were an embarrassing, misogynist mess, just like Sanger's eugenics were an embarrassing, racist mess.

    Invoking those two in a one paragraph description of atheism, along with the code word "ideology" is probably the land record for dog whistles in a blurb.

    Frankly, the whole thing is leaving a bad taste in my mouth the more I look into it. I am not a "hate change because it's change" person. I wish Fred the best. However, to present as an ally to women, gays and nonChristians and then to, for no well defined reason, publicly ally himself with a misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic website, well, I'm not happy.

  15. Yay! And thanks.

    ::is happy now::

    Joé, I can see it. Setting up atheism as completely separate from agnosticism is problematic. So are the references to atheism as an "ideology" (though at least they avoided callin it a "belief"). If I were trying to set a tone that was welcoming to unbelievers, I'd have said something like, "At heart, atheism is the view that there are no gods, or at the very least that there insufficient evidence to believe in any gods. It is usually distinguished from agnosticism, which holds that there is no way to prove the existence or non-existence of any gods. Atheism per se does not address other matters often associated with religious thought (such as morality), so atheists tend to have varied approaches to such topics."

  16. My guess is that the commenting system is better and more professional (typepad was a bit buggy, what with the running italics and stuff). Apart from that, I'm not going to speculate.

    I, personally, rarely click through to other blogs on a network. When I go looking (rarely), I find blogs through the rolls of blogs I trust, like this one. Alternatively, I read a single post whose title intrigued me, and then leave. So I'm not concerned by Patheos: Slacktivist is in my history page, so I can get to Freds site without even glancing at anything else on Patheos.

    If I were to somehow scrounge together the time, motivation and self-esteem to start a blog,* the only thing that would influence my decision would be the stability, features and professionalism of the hosting software.

    *I actually did that a while back. Imagine walking into a large, empty warehouse and trying to think of something to say. That's how I felt. I deleted it after a few posts.

  17. he *DID* write a post, specifically stating that he was going to continue to not discriminate against anyone, that atheists et al were still welcome, etc.

    on the other hand, i am VERY sick of people defining other religions ONLY in terms [or MOSTLY in terms] of their OWN religion. it's annoying and only shows their ignorance.

  18. The paganism thing is really complicated actually- a lot of forms of modern paganism has only tenuous connections to classical paganism. For a single paragraph summary that isn't so bad if they removed the part about traditional religion which seems to just miss the point about what many religions historically were like.

    I'm more inclined to agree with your points about the atheism entry. And as to the search for the homosexuality entry... ugh. Just ugh.


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