Prayers and God’s Will

© Arun Nm

  

“Doctor, how is my brother?”

 

“He is not at all doing well. Now it’s up to prayers and God.”

 

When dealing with near and dear ones of critically ill people, I have heard many health care professionals saying this. Even some doctors/nurses who do not believe in prayers or a personal God (the one who interferes for us hearing prayers) practice it. For doing such things they have an explanation.

 

“Why should we extinguish all their hopes?”

 

Is it ethical to tell some one that prayer, which is proven to be ineffective, or a mythical concept called God can possibly help them? Does such an approach help?

 

It’s true that some patients recover miraculously even though chances of recovery was considered almost nil. They recover because some factor that helped them was over looked or is unknown to science. Science and its practitioners very well know this fact, and that is why we never say there is no chance of recovery. We always convey that chance of recovery is very slim; so we never extinguish all hopes.

 

But by saying only prayers/God can help is like giving false hopes. There is zero proof that prayers are useful. Same stands for God.  So by saying prayers/God can help, you are misleading them.
Continue reading “Prayers and God’s Will”

To Live and Love, A Woman Bares Her Scars in Defiance

I met this woman a couple days ago in a debate group.  She was defending the pro-choice position and she happened to agree with some of my arguments and statements.  So I thought I would request to be her friend on facebook.  Today, she posted what is below, I read it and was genuinely moved.  I think this story, as raw as it is, paints a great picture of a life that even through hardship has come out strong.  She has a desire to fight, a desire to love, and she has endured loss as well as tragedy.  This story is about her life and what she has overcome.  She was responding to a 30 year old who happened to call her old and told her that she was unbelievable.  This woman told her that she was old enough to be her grandmother and that there was no way she could get her facts straight because of this.

 

When I read the post I was in awe that someone would use age as a reason to dismiss what another individual had to say.  So I asked her if she would share her voice with us.

 

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Below is the short story of Karen Zimmerman, a warrior for justice, a mother, a lover, and someone I am glad to have found.  Her story has touched me and I hope that it touches you as well.  This is unedited and raw; please understand the poetry of her words.  Thank you Karen for letting me share this with my audience.

 

-Forward Written By: Christopher Tanner

 
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The Atheist Hell House

Fears of war and pestilence.

Fear of loss and failure.

Fear the hate of your enemy.

Fear your god and savior.

Savior? Failure.

What do you fear?

Fear is your god.

 

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Deep and insidious, beneath your consciousness, and just beyond your peripheral vision the horror of sin lies.  The most base human fears, materialized with an agenda, and aimed at the young and vulnerable.  Instincts derived from over a hundred thousand years of life in hominid form and millions of years before to the origin of species, have been carved by nature to protect the self and the genes from destruction.  When weaponized, as proven time and time again, fear truly is: “the mindkiller”.

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To Those Who Didn’t Make It, Leelah’s Continuing Story to Fix Society

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“I dedicate this blog to my friend Samantha and all other transgender youth who have been affected by this.  My heart goes out for them.”

As events continue to unfold with Leelah Alcorn, I felt the need to write a brief follow up to my original post, “Leelah, the child god forgot to save.” If you have not read it or heard of the situation, please check it out, give it a share, and comment on it. In short, the article entailed the suicide of a transgender teen whose parents refused to acknowledge her need and desire to transition from her birth gender of male to her correct gender of female. I asserted that religion played a role in her parent’s decisions and actions. I also posited that if religion was not prominent that the world would be better off and have one less barrier to allowing individuals who identify as transgender to be accepted.

A critique that I received was that my post was aimed too heavily at religion, and that I put religion on the center pedestal, instead of the issue that in this country transgender individuals are marginalized. If this is the way the post came off, I apologize. My intention was not to place religion over transgender issues, but to show the correlation between religion and how closed-minded some individuals are, who hold their religious cards close without ever using skepticism to see if they are marginalizing those who are different. It is still evident that Leelah’s mother and father both still hold their religion over their love for their child. Whether or not they understood what it meant to be transgender probably did not stem solely from their religion, but from the culture we live in that does marginalize transgender individuals and that does not always even understand the issue. Her parents only use their religion as a lens to view the world, and while I still contend that without that lens we would be farther along in accepting transgender individuals, I will accept and promote that her parents failed to truly understand their daughter and learn what it meant to identify as a transgender.

Continue reading “To Those Who Didn’t Make It, Leelah’s Continuing Story to Fix Society”

Leelah, The Child god Forgot to Save

LeelahThe article you are about to read will be one that has touched my heart deeply. Suicide and depression are something that is of a serious nature, but when it comes by the means of bullying and oppression, I have less tolerance for it. This story is important, as I wanted to contribute to the voices that no longer can share their own voice. We need to stand up not only as allies, but also as the voices for this teenager.

On December 28th at roughly 2 am in Warren County Ohio, a teenager took their own life on the side of the highway. The teenager stepped out into oncoming traffic and was killed by oncoming traffic. While this headline may seem shocking and disturbing by itself since all suicides are tragic, a lose of life at such a young age of 17 compounds the emotional train that took me for a journey as I read through the research for this event.

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But what makes this story even more tragic is the fact that there is a suicide note left on a tumblr account. The suicide note, cryptic as it was, reveals that the teenager that committed suicide was a transgender teen struggling with coming out as her true gender identity. Joshua wanted to be identified as Leelah. She desperately wanted to see a counselor so she could start to the process for transitioning. Now many of you may think that this would be a conversation had with her parents and that help would have been provided at least to see a counselor. Instead her parents instead took her to a Christian counselor. I do not want to speculate as to what was talked about, but according to Leelah’s tumblr we can conclude that she at least saw the counselor as someone with a bias torwards what she was going through. We do not know exactly what counselors she was taken to but in her suicide not, Leelah specifically calls them out as having an agenda. What is even more tragic is the call for help she gave to her parents. They instead grounded her and isolated her away from the world, well of course except for taking her to church.Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 2.15.28 PM

This story breaks my heart as I was reading it. It breaks my heart because this lonely girl was trapped in a body she did not feel was her own. She was relocated to the corner of her parents’ life because their religion deemed her “unfit” or “against god” according to what their religion taught them. Their fucking religion came before their own daughter and her health. Their religion or how they acted on their belief is what caused her depression to go untreated. We lost a bright light this week, to the confines and restrictions that accompany religion. So if you will excuse my language and excuse my demeanor, but when this type of tragedy happens, and religion is the driving force behind what denied this young girl the help she needed, I can not help myself when I agree with Christopher Hitchens that “Religion Poisons Everything.” Had religion not been apart of this family’s life, this girl may still be alive. Leelah wanted only a few things, love and acceptance. She was denied love from her family, and she was denied proper treatment. Even if she would not have been able to find love from her family, they could have at least taken her to a counselor that would have helped her to find the strength within her self to appreciate who she wanted to be.

Some will say that her father Doug or her mother Carla were just bad parents, and that maybe it was not religion that helped them make their decision to take her to a Christian counselor. Some will say look how many others have overcome or gained an understanding of gender equality, and do not treat their children in the same manner. To those people I say, “good for you.” But look at what you had to overcome. You had to overcome a doctrine that talks badly about women. You had to overcome a doctrine that calls for the stoning of homosexuals. A doctrine that god calls for the killing of innocent humans because they were “evil”. This book is something that contains atrocities comparable to the holocaust. And even if you could use apologetics to twist what was written into something that makes you feel comfortable worshiping this god of the bible, you still have to contend with the religious side that has mutated to help control the population to make sure that it’s beliefs remain relevant. Even if we left the doctrine alone, we still have the malicious groups who strive to infect their beliefs that only men and women should marry and that there is no such thing as a transgender individual. Some of these groups push that being transgender is a selfish position, and that it is ultimately a sin. So to those who say it could have been the parents, while this could be true, at least their church pushed the belief that being a transgender is not a natural state of being, and we can say that if the religion was not there this belief would have been less likely held by her parents.Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 12.47.59 PM

So now we are stuck here, with a sad story that will haunt us. What will we do? Where do we go? I pose the first and foremost thing is to bring to light the true story. A gracious city official posted this on his Facebook, and Danielle Muscato from American Atheists shared it. She sparked my desire to write this blog, to say something on behalf of Leelah. But we need to do more. We need to get this story to the news. We need to get the news outlets to change their online feeds to correct the conception that this was a young “man” that died and that it was a young women. We need to out what the Christian community instilled in her parents and seek to bring awareness to all those struggling that there is a way out. We need to build communities that welcome in wayward teens who are struggling to find themselves or to help them become the true gender they desire. Most importantly we must not forget Leelah. We must push for the family to give her a proper burial as the girl Leelah wanted to be. We need to get the story to the media so that the truth can be heard.

If you feel moved by this piece please contact her family, contact the media and help me get the word out to correct the perception and allow for Leelah to rest in peace the way she would want to be.

Leelah’s Tumblr: http://lazerprincess.tumblr.com/
Leelah’s Suicide Note: http://lazerprincess.tumblr.com/post/106447705738/suicide-note
Leelah’s pictures identifying her: http://lazerprincess.tumblr.com/post/106096940091/im-seeing-a-bunch-of-people-do-a-6-selfies-of

Leelah’s Father Doug: https://www.facebook.com/doug.alcorn
Leelah’s Mother Carla: https://www.facebook.com/carla.alcorn

Original News Article: http://m.abc22now.com/news/Teen_Struck_and_Killed_on_I-71_in_Warren_County?mobileredirect=true
Recent News Story: http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/warren-county/joshua-alcorn-kings-mill-teen-killed-on-i-71-remembered-as-sweet-talented
Email address of local news station: webteam@wcpo.com

Links if you need help

http://www.transhousingnetwork.com

http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Reddit Article: http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/2qufpb/leelah_the_child_god_forgot_to_save/

Personal Thoughts on Brittany Maynard and Respect

Brittany Maynard’s Decision

Brittany Maynard chose to end her life by way of assisted suicide on Saturday November 1, 2014. This is a well-known story, a story I’m sure we’ve all heard about and probably had feelings on. So why am I writing about it now?

There are a few reasons why I felt the need to put my two cents worth in. This story touched me deeply. She was an incredibly strong woman, in my eyes. She chose to die with dignity rather than letting her illness take her, slowly and with great suffering. It should have stopped there. This story should have passed away with her and allowed her family their time to grieve and remember the person that she was. However, there were numerous comments posted by many Christians (and I’m sure other faiths) that said she was Damned, she was going to Hell, she was a coward.

This upset me a lot. Probably more than it should have. After all, I never met her. First off, most, if not all, of these commenters didn’t know her either. They took this moment in this woman’s life and death to spread their religion, of which they have zero proof. Zero. “How can you take your own life? God will damn you to Hell! God had a plan for you and you ruined it!”
This got me thinking. When would it be acceptable to do this in these Christians’ eyes? I thought to September 11, 2001, and watching, horrified and helpless, as people threw themselves from over 100 stories to their deaths. How many comments about those poor people? Any? As they were falling did these Christians yell out, “You’re going to Hell, ya know! God had a plan and you bailed.” I doubt it.
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When will Humanity De-stigmatize Suicide?

Robin Williams is one of my favorite actors of all time. I usually do not get sad when a celebrity dies, due to the lack of a personal connection. Williams’ death stung a bit more than I expected. I didn’t know him personally, only through his movies and whatever else you can find on YouTube. My favorite stuff is what he did live, like when he was on Inside the Actor’s Studio. James Lipton just let him go and I don’t know who was happier about it, Williams or the audience. Multiple times he thanked the audience and James Lipton for letting him perform. There are two reasons why his death stung so much: he was an amazing human being and the fact that it was suicide. Shock was my first response, as I am sure many others can relate to, but the shock wore off rather quickly. Everyone has a “spark of madness” according to Williams, which is a good thing in many ways. Williams had more than a spark though, and I think he would agree that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. His death caused quite the stir when it happened; that is what happens though, when someone is loved by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. When he died, there were people who laughed as they watched his movies again, people who cried because he would not make any more, and there were people who condemned him because he committed suicide. His death makes me wonder, when will humanity destigmatize suicide?

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Surviving and Coping with Panic Attacks

“If you know people who are suicidal, or if you know people who are bipolar, depressed, have panic attack disorder, just be there for them. They’re going through something that’s very, very hard. – Eric Millegan. (Actor) Eric Millegan on Living (and Acting) with Bipolar Disorder

Let me begin with the following disclaimer – No advice attained in ANY blog or in ANY article online is going to be a valid replacement for actual therapy or medical help. If you are suffering from regular panic attacks or an anxiety disorder please do yourself a favor and get help. No one should have to live in the sort of hell these often serious conditions can create.

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Several years ago I suffered from one of the most horrifying experiences I have ever had. It was late in the evening when I was left alone with my thoughts when at once a sense of mortality overwhelmed my mind. I cannot fully put into words the experience psychologically but physically the result was intense fear, a racing heartbeat, and extreme hyperventilation. Pain emanated unforgivingly from my chest and though I was moderately aware of my surroundings I felt as though I was separate from them as I clutched at myself trembling and whimpering in my own little private hell. I can say with absolutely no reservation that this experience was one of the most truly frightening in my entire life.
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An Open Letter To Brittany Maynard

Brittany Maynard, who is recently married, has terminal brain cancer. She was told she would have 10 years to live, but then the tumor grew significantly and her time became much shorter. She and her family made the choice to move to Oregon, where she is allowed to “die with dignity.” And no, this does not imply that everyone who does not choose this route is not “dying with dignity.” Its not one extreme or the other.”Dying with dignity” means that a person has the legal right to choose how to end their life when facing a terminal illness. And no, this does not mean that people are for suicide in general. Believe it or not, but there are more than two ways of looking at things. Life is not all black and white, in fact the majority of it is lived in the grey.

Dear Brittany,

 

Thank you. Thank you for using the little time that you have remaining to bring attention to the “death with dignity” debate. I can only imagine the kind of physical, mental and emotional stress that you are currently experiencing. My imagination is not the same, nor could it be even close to the real thing. When I read about your story yesterday, my heart began to fill with an ocean of sadness. It began to swirl with emotions and thoughts as I tried to comprehend the depth and gravity of the situation that you currently find yourself in. It’s a natural reaction, to view another’s situation from your own perspective. Empathy is how we connect to one another; it’s our deepest form of love and understanding. In the vast depth of human emotion, it can be easy for anyone to lose their way. The strong emotional current can swell around us and we become lost in ourselves, lost from the initial response of love that we naturally feel for one another.

 
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The incredulous Matt Walsh: A Response to his Robin Williams Did not Die of a Disease Blog

Over the past 24 hours we have had Depression and Suicide brought to the public’s attention. I have read many blogs over the last few hours as I am dealing with the feelings of losing something that brings back feelings from my teenage years, something I may have never dealt with. These feelings are valid in the sense that they are a part of me and I probably should acknowledge with them.

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What has started as a desire to hash out my feelings, figure out where they lay, and become determined to confront them, I have found a new inspiration that has spun from my desire for confrontation. You can read my first blog here. Depression and Suicide are topics that are simply not talked about or only begrudgingly. Death is not something people like to analyze and neither is unhappiness both of which result from the aforementioned concepts. What I have found to be incredibly angering are some of the responses I have gotten from my interactions with my previous blog. Though those only pale in comparison to a recent blog post I read by Matt Walsh, who appears to be a blogger and online news personality. Personally I have seen his name come up from the conservative christians on my page re-posting his blogs. Normally I do not read these as I know that I would disagree with most of what he posits. But today is different. Today he “clarified” his twitter response to Robin Williams death. His comments where this, “When we talk about depression we shouldn’t pawn the whole thing off on “chemical imbalances.” It’s not just clinical. It’s spiritual.”

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