Why I’ll Never Make The Freshly Pressed List

I used to really, really want to make that illustrious “Freshly Pressed List” because it would bring followers forth unto my blog, feeding my ego and giving my childhood dreams of being admired for my writing some luster. Yea, it would maketh me a minor god amongst bloggers, or so I had imagined.

But when I do survey that list of blog entries I can’t help thinking that they are remarkably dull. Like the sparrows of the blogging world, they are safe and drab and attract nothing more than a passing glance. The blogosphere is full of mad blogs and interesting thought patterns, so why does the Freshly Pressed list sound like something a rabid Oprah fan would choose? (No respect to the Queen of the Talk Show: I take minor offence with her followers who seem to absorb all of her opinions rather than form their own. The refrain of “I saw it on Oprah” usually preludes the kind of conversation that makes buttered bread look like an olfactory feast.)

Today’s FP blogs include: rhubarb recipes, travel in China, photos of Prague, some unicyclers, a timid religious book review on meat-eating (this person thinks god will cure global warming and eliminate factory farming), art, events and books. Yesterday’s choices included “Do people mispronounce your name?” and “Paper bag mailer tutorial.” Nothing politically controversial, or even left of centre. It is a middle-class blogging nightmare that makes 1984 seem appealing because at least the bland amongst us couldn’t post.

Do I want to be counted amongst these people? No, not any more. I blog about things far more exciting than recipes or “my summer holiday in Venice” which is hardly the kind of fascinating material that blogs can often provide. There are incredible science, art, literature and personal blogs out there that really show up the blandness of the Freshly Pressed list. Perhaps there is an arbitrary algorithm that picks the blogs according to their varying levels of safeness and domesticity, or maybe there’s just one person who really does like to read about what recipes people think are positively delightful.

There are over 377,000 bloggers on WordPress. That’s a lot of bloggers to choose from. But its so rare that I land on the WordPress home page and actually click through to the blogs they suggest. And when I do decide to visit a blog, the writing is so drab as to make porridge practically sparkle with originality in comparison. With so many blogs to choose from, how is it that the same boring topics keep showing up? What about a blog on abortion? Or the misconception that Twitter actually had anything to do with the Arab Spring revolutions? Cracked.com provides blogs a thousand times better and it isn’t even a blogging site. But no, we get people writing about how to be a better writer (ugh) or “I like made this awesome blueberry crumble and everyone was like soooo happy”.

I’ve said it before: blogging is one of the most fantastic ways to say something constructive and brilliant, even if it is about a TV show or standing in a queue. I know not everyone is a great writer, but that’s not the issue here. The point is that WordPress is not showcasing the best blogging it could. It is sticking to safe, boring blogs that do not reflect the amazing potential of the blogosphere. They’re probably doing it because they can’t risk any kind of controversy knocking out their ad-revenue. Admittedly a great number of viewers on the internet are conservative, but not everyone is. In the great democracy of the web, I just think it would speak better to the WordPress team if something a bit more interesting than people’s arts and crafts showed up on that landing page.

The Battle Continues

As many of you may, or may not know, Graham and I are writing a book. Not just any book, but what we hope to be the definitive atheist handbook and reference guide. At least, the best one in Africa, looking towards Dawkins, Hitchen and Harris for guides.

As such, we are collecting articles about atheists, atheism and the non-religious battle and often come across numerous interesting titbits. Gaze upon the awesomeness of hackers in action here: Evangelists Hacked Off. Now, there will be the invariable bleating about ‘wah the evangelists are entitled to spread their word’. But let’s look at the nature of evangelical christianity. Who can doubt that it is nothing but a money-spinner? These falsely charismatic priests are often flashy and expensively-dressed, and often prey upon the poor. After all, atheism is something more often found amongst the rich, who have no need to hope that an imaginary friend will help them make money. So, the evangelists often exist to prey upon the frustrations and ignorance of those who simply can’t imagine letting go of Mr Jesus. Also, one has to wonder where they get the money from for a huge conference in very expensive Cape Town. Carbon footprint much?

Evangelism also suggests a more aggressive christianity. (I wish spellchecker would stop trying to capitalise that word. I refuse to do so until it tells me to write atheists with a capital A.) The following comment was attached to the hacker article:

“The growing war against Christianity, morals, respect and decency”, he says. Add to this the current Pope’s frankly ill-informed comment:

“Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature’s relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the ‘final authority,’ and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.” (Pope Blames Atheists for Global Warming)

Wait, what? When we deny god, we burn baby rabbits? What’s going on here? Was it not the Bible that gave dominion of the environment to man (not humankind, because remember we live in a patriarchal world)  and initiated centuries of animal abuse and environmental degradation? ‘God gave it to us, neener neener’ seems to be the response. And yes, I was at a braai, and three christians told me they could eat pork chops and lamb because god said so. (I thought pork was banned, but anyway.) This was not the best argument, and as one can imagine, they lost that one.

Atheists are apparently amoral and godless and therefore violent. Considering that atheists aren’t bombing anyone in the name of no one, please consider the following list of current religious wars and combat zones:

Current Wars:

Afghanistan:……Extreme, radical Fundamentalist Muslim terrorist groups, non-Muslims. Osama bin Laden heads a terrorist group called Al Quada (The Source) whose headquarters were in Afghanistan. They were protected by, and integrated with, the Taliban dictatorship in the country. The Northern Alliance of rebel Afghans, Britain and the U.S. attacked the Taliban and Al Quada, establishing a new regime in part of the country. The fighting continues.

Bosnia:……Serbian Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic), Muslims. Fragile peace is holding, due only to the presence of peacekeepers.

Côte d’Ivoire:……Muslims, Indigenous, Christian. Following the elections in late 2000, government security forces “began targeting civilians solely and explicitly on the basis of their religion, ethnic group, or national origin. The overwhelming majority of victims come from the largely Muslim north of the country, or are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants…”
A military uprising continued the slaughter in 2002.

Cyprus:……Christians, Muslims. The island is partitioned,creating enclaves for ethnic Greeks (Christians) and Turks (Muslims). A UN peace keeping force is maintaining stability.

East Timor:……Christians, Muslims. A Roman Catholic country. About 20% of the population died by murder, starvation or disease after they were forcibly annexed by Indonesia (mainly Muslim). After voting for independence, many Christians were exterminated or exiled by the Indonesian army and army-funded militias in a carefully planned program of genocide and religious cleansing. The situation is now stable.

India:……Animists, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs. Various conflicts that heat up periodically producing loss of life.

Indonesia, province of Ambon:……Christians, Muslims. After centuries of relative peace, conflicts between Christians and Muslims started during 1999-JUL in this province of Indonesia. The situation now appears to be stable.

Iraq:……Kurds, Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, western armed forces. By mid-2006, a small scale civil war, primarily between Shiite and Sunni Muslims started. The situation appears to be steadily degenerating.

Kashmir:……Hindus, Muslims. A chronically unstable region of the world, claimed by both Pakistan and India. The availability of nuclear weapons and the eagerness to use them are destabilizing the region further. Thirty to sixty thousand people have died since 1989.

Kosovo:……Serbian Orthodox Christians, Muslims. Peace enforced by NATO peacekeepers. There is convincing evidence of past mass murder by Yugoslavian government (mainly Serbian Orthodox Christians) against ethnic Albanians (mostly Muslim).

Kurdistan:……Christians, Muslims. Assaults on Christians (Protestant, Chaldean Catholic, Assyrian Orthodox).

Macedonia:……Macedonian Orthodox Christians, Muslims. Muslims (often referred to as ethnic Albanians) engaged in a civil war with the rest of the country who are primarily Macedonian Orthodox Christians. A peace treaty has been signed. Disarmament by NATO is complete.

Middle East:……Jews, Muslims, Christians. The peace process between Israel and Palestine suffered a complete breakdown. This has resulted in the deaths of thousands, in the ratio of three dead for each Jew.  Major strife broke out in 2000-SEP. Major battle in Lebanon during mid-2006. No resolution appears possible.

Nigeria:……Christians, Animists, Muslims. Yourubas and Christians in the south of the country are battling Muslims in the north. Country is struggling towards democracy after decades of Muslim military dictatorships.

Northern Ireland:……Protestants, Catholics. After 3,600 killings and assassinations over 30 years, some progress has been made in the form of a ceasefire and an independent status for the country.

Pakistan:……Suni, Shi’ite Muslims. Low level mutual attacks.

Philippines:……Christians, Muslims. A low level conflict between the mainly Christian central government and Muslims in the south of the country has continued for centuries.

Russia,Chechnya:……Russian Orthodox Christians, Muslims. The Russian army attacked the breakaway region. Many atrocities have been alleged on both sides. According to the Voice of the Martyrs: “In January 2002 Chechen rebels included all Christians on their list of official enemies, vowing to ‘blow up every church and mission-related facility in Russia’.”

South Africa:……Animists, “Witches”. Hundreds of persons, suspected and accused as witches practicing black magic, are murdered each year.

Sri Lanka:……Buddhists, Hindus. Tamils (a mainly Hindu 18% minority) are involved in a war for independence since 1983 with the rest of the country (70% Sinhalese Buddhist). Hundreds of thousands have been killed. The conflict took a sudden change for the better in 2002-SEP, when the Tamils dropped their demand for complete independence. The South Asian Tsunami in 2004-DEC induced some cooperation. The situation in mid-2006 is degenerating.

Sudan:……Animists, Christians, Muslims. Complex ethnic, racial, religious conflict in which the Muslim regime committed genocide against both Animists and Christians in the south of the country. Slavery and near slavery were practiced. A ceasefire was signed in 2006-MAY between some of the combatants. Warfare continues in the Darfur region, primarily between a Muslim militia and Muslim inhabitants.

Thailand:……Buddhists, Muslims. Muslim rebels have been involved in a bloody insurgency in southern Thailand — a country that is 95% Buddhist. The army has seized power and has agreed to talks with the rebels.

Tibet:……Buddhists, Communists. Country was annexed by Chinese Communists in late 1950′s. Brutal suppression of Buddhism continues.

Uganda:…. Animists, Christians, Muslims. Christian rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army are conducting a civil war in the north of Uganda. Their goal is a Christian theocracy whose laws are based on the Ten Commandments. They abduct, enslave and/or rape about 2,000 children a year.

Source: http://justsaynotoreligion.com/religious-wars/

Still waiting for a war funded and conducted by atheists.

My point is (and I do have one) is that christians and others refuse to acknowledge their complicity in global war, climate damage, animal cruelty and the suppression of human beings. Instead, everything gets blamed on atheists and atheism. While there are probably some mean atheists out there, there is absolutely no doubt that there are very many bad religious people out there. This article gives even more reasons just to oppose the Catholic Church, and does it well.

I wouldn’t mind so much if religious people accepted that they are part of a group of people who use a god (or gods) to motivate war, jihad and genocide. If I saw more christians and muslims and assorted other religious groups actually condemning the actions of their groups a bit louder, maybe we could have a dialogue. But all there is is tacit approval or silence. Too much bleating of  ‘but we’re peaceful muslims!’ There aren’t enough Catholics boycotting their churches because of Ratzinger’s defence of paedophiles, and 100,000 muslims were willing to march to call for Salman Rushdie’s death over a book that was not that inflammatory. These are not the actions of moral people.

Atheists are becoming a marginalised group, but we aren’t willing to turn to arms to defend ourselves. We don’t want to be as bad as the people that blame us for everything from global warming to nuclear war. So, we are using the internet, literature and documentaries as our places of defence. It is our hope that we can offer an alternative that does not allow violence in the name of an imaginary friend. So, I would like to add my blog to the peaceful movement that is atheism, and I look forward to a day when people stop looking at me funny just because I refuse to bow and scrape before Mr Jesus.

If every journey begins with a single step…

…then each blog must begin with a single word.

Welcome to my second attempt at blogging. Those in the know will remember the emo-fest that was my undergrad blog, Admiral Adventures. In an attempt to reestablish myself as a serious writer, it is time to reinvent and try again.

What can this blog offer you? Perhaps clearer insight into my screaming left-wing ways, or why I keep going back to the dojo despite sucking so massively at both Aikido and Goju Ryu.

There will be stories of hope! Redemption! Failed recipes and the laughter they bring! But mostly, the posts will be glimpses into my somewhat unusual and sometimes quite ordinary life. I don’t expect a massive cult following, but if you want to stay, you are always welcome, and I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Welcome to the Dojo.