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Comments by mirandaceleste

Go to: Effect of the concept of hell on children

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by mirandaceleste

I understand what you're going through. It's difficult, confusing, and scary. And you're very brave for taking the first step, which is the scariest step of all: beginning to question your faith and beginning to doubt something that has been a part of you for so long that it seems completely inextricable.

The primary lesson of Catholic childhood indoctrination is that you must never, ever question or doubt the veracity of what you've been taught. Skepticism, you're told, is a sin. And, from the outside, the reason for that is clear: those who indoctrinate children understand that a child who never questions is a child who will remain a Catholic for life and who will perpetuate the cycle by indoctrinating their own children. Reason, intellect, and rationality are the enemies of effective indoctrination. Accordingly, the indoctrinators teach you that skepticism is a sin. And you've been told for as long as you remember that sinners go to Hell. Any outside observer can see why the fear of a literal Hell is Catholic childhood indoctrination's most effective tool: teach children that doubters will spend eternity in a literal Hell, and most children will squash even the tiniest of doubts. Their intellect may be strong, but they'll never apply it to their faith. The indoctrinators understand that faith will crumble under intellectual scrutiny.

And it will. You can (and probably will) reason your way out of your faith. But you can't reason your way out of the fear of Hell, at least not completely, despite what some of the commenters in this thread have claimed. I haven't any doubt that these commenters are empathetic, kind, and have the best of intentions, but they're oversimplifying this issue, and aren't grasping the nuance, complexity, and intensity of what you're experiencing. The fear of Hell cannot be reasoned with. It resides in a part of you that cannot be touched by rational thought. That part of you may be tiny, or it may be massive, but it is there, and your intellect cannot destroy it.

You're experiencing something that is simultaneously liberating, exciting, and terrifying. Reason, rationality, and skepticism are wonderful and thrilling things, and nourishing your intellectual curiosity will improve your life in so many ways. It will also almost certainly lead you away from your Catholic faith, and that's something to look forward to. But I have to be honest: you can liberate yourself from Catholicism, but you'll never completely rid yourself of the fear of a literal Hell. It will get better. It will never go away, but it will get better. It will get easier. But you'll never be completely free from it. It will never be easy, but it won't always be this hard. Your fear will abate, but it will never dissipate, and the severity of that fear will depend upon the intensity of and the duration of the indoctrination you've experienced.

You might relate to an essay that I wrote about my experiences (from 2010), which was excerpted on this site (this link goes to "A dirty little girl, her head hanging in shame". Honestly, I sometimes wish that I hadn't written it, not because I don't like it, but because it makes me feel very vulnerable. I've almost deleted the original on a few different occasions, but I leave it up because people still write me to tell me that they can relate, and that it encouraged them to share their own stories.

Best of luck in this process. It's scary, I know. It will get better, though. I promise. Remember that.

Wed, 25 Jul 2012 17:50:59 UTC | #950065

Go to: Mr. Deity and the Rights

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by mirandaceleste

Love this :)

Fri, 25 May 2012 04:26:15 UTC | #943420

Go to: Women in Secularism Conference- Washington DC

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by mirandaceleste

I asked the author of this piece for some specific examples of her claims/assertions and for clarification on a few points. She certainly has no obligation to respond to my questions and/or requests. I'm interested in discussing only the rhetorical effectiveness of and the strength of the claims and argument presented in this article. I have no desire to discuss anything beyond the effectiveness of this article's argument, both because I'm responding to a specific article, not the larger issue in question, and because, well, I've learned the hard way the consequences that come from expressing disagreement on this specific issue.

Because I haven't any interest in engaging in internet fights (nor do I have the time to), I will say nothing further about this article. I hadn't planned to anyway, but a friend just pointed me to a site where someone has called me "disgusting" simply for posing the questions I did in this thread, and that has made my decision to cease discussion of the effectiveness and strength of this article's argument much easier (want an example of those consequences that I mentioned in the previous paragraph? Being referred to as "disgusting" simply for posing questions to an article's author is just one example). I continue to hold out hope that the discourse will rise above that level, but I continue to be proven wrong, sadly enough.

Mon, 21 May 2012 18:23:34 UTC | #942634

Go to: Women in Secularism Conference- Washington DC

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by mirandaceleste

Comment 9 by Layla :

Mirandaceleste, to be fair to her she didn't actually say that secular organisations had done any of those things. Those are the words she used to describe the religious institutions that she left behind her.

Not directly, no, but she undeniably did make that exact allegation, just in a more subtle fashion. She makes an explicit comparison between the religious institutions and the unnamed secular organizations, saying that she found secular organizations unwelcoming because they engage in the same activities and perpetuate the same attitudes as the religious institutions in question (as she puts it, these unnamed secular organizations allegedly "perpetuate" the same attitudes as the religious institutions in question. Her use of "perpetuating" in this sentence is clearly intended to draw a comparison between the religious institutions and the unnamed secular organizations).

Sun, 20 May 2012 22:04:29 UTC | #942508

Go to: Women in Secularism Conference- Washington DC

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by mirandaceleste

As a member of the Clergy Project and as a former RC chaplain and MDiv student, I had already left behind a patriarchal institution that undermined my value as a person and limited my function as a representative of that "tribe". So, it is easy to understand why I wasn't jumping at the opportunity to align myself with secular organizations who though most likely unaware, were perpetuating a subversive status quo.

Could you please provide some specific and concrete examples of "secular organizations" that "perpetuate" a "patriarchal" mindset, "undermine" the value of women, and "limit [womens'] function as [...] representative[s]" of their organizations, and explain how, precisely, these unnamed "secular organizations" are allegedly engaging in and/or have engaged in this behavior? Thank you.

Sun, 20 May 2012 21:42:31 UTC | #942502

Go to: UPDATED: Why I want all our children to read the King James Bible

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 107 by mirandaceleste

Just a few comments:

1) This is a great article.

2) I spent my devoutly and intensely Catholic childhood and adolescence immersed in the Bible (both the KJV and other versions), at home, school, and church. After I left Catholicism behind and became an atheist, I went to college and grad school and now have two degrees in English Literature. During those years, my familiarity with the Bible was immensely helpful as I studied, parsed, analyzed, etc., works of literature. Understanding the Biblical allusions and references present in many of the texts/works we studied made my academic life easier and much more fulfilling.

That's not to say, though, that I am grateful for the rather horrid Catholic religious indoctrination that I experienced as a child. Far from it. It was a horrible experience that left some life-long scars. But I'm certainly capable of and willing to acknowledge the beneficial, helpful, and enriching aspects of my Catholic/Jesuit education, and my familiarity with the Bible is one of them.

3) As a child, I did indeed read and re-read multiple versions of the Bible (including the KJV) from cover to cover. Why? Primarily because, when I was bored during daily Mass, it was the only thing I could do that wouldn't get me in trouble. Although I was definitely an extremely devout child, I was often bored by Mass. I loved to read, was required to carry the Bible with me at all times, and could get away with reading it during Mass as long as I remembered to stand, kneel, and pray aloud at the right times, so I immersed myself in it on a daily basis. And, in retrospect, I'm very happy that I did.

Sun, 20 May 2012 19:34:30 UTC | #942472

Go to: Bullying, lies, and discrimination aren't "religious liberty"

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by mirandaceleste

This excerpt from a job advertisement email that I got from Liberty University a couple of years ago still makes me laugh. "The world's most exciting university"?:

Online Adjunct Faculty

Join the faculty at the world’s most exciting university?

Liberty University Online is currently seeking online Adjunct Faculty to teach in several graduate degree programs. As a distinctively evangelical Christian university, Liberty sets the bar in quality education, and is devoted to helping men and women from around the world become champions for Christ by reaching their highest potential and achieving their dreams.

Um... yeah, because when I think of "exciting", I think of "Liberty University".

The "Liberty sets the bar in quality education" part is pretty hilarious, too, but in a more mendacious and ridiculous way than the "world's most exciting university" claim.

Wed, 16 May 2012 18:14:14 UTC | #941891

Go to: Patrick Coffin, with Edward Feser, Receive a Call from Sean Faircloth of the RDFRS (US)

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 28 by mirandaceleste

Even though it happened last year, it looks like it was only recently posted on YouTube, so perhaps that's why it was re-posted here? I'm not sure.

Wed, 02 May 2012 22:06:36 UTC | #939167

Go to: Romney to give commencement speech at Falwell’s Liberty University

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by mirandaceleste

Uh-oh. It seems that quite a few Liberty University students and alumni are angry that the administration invited a Mormon to give the commencement speech. (via CNN).

Sun, 22 Apr 2012 00:53:11 UTC | #936385

Go to: Richard Dawkins On God In American Politics

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by mirandaceleste

No problem! :) & mordacious1, I'm glad to hear that it works. I still haven't had a chance to listen to it, but hope to today.

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 16:57:24 UTC | #932386

Go to: Richard Dawkins On God In American Politics

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by mirandaceleste

It try to avoid using Flash whenever possible (bloatiest software ever), and I always prefer to download audio instead of listening to an embedded player, so I went digging through the RSS feed for the show's podcast and found a direct link to the .mp3 of the interview. Right-click on that to download the file to your computer. I haven't yet listened to it, but I imagine that the file works just fine.

(& Someone left their italics tag open, methinks...)

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 06:50:17 UTC | #932256

Go to: In Defense of Dawkins’s Reason Rally Speech

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by mirandaceleste

Comment 27 by AspieFred :

Mockery is a good counterpart to that what people call holy.

It brings those fantasies down to earth where we can all inspect them and can talk rationally about them.

For example, mockery humanises evil dictators, so we can have a discussion and take actions, or can deal with a terrible past and hopefully avoid a terrible future.

And again, we can mock any sports team, compare presidential candidate to toys. So why shouldn't we do the same with crazy rituals and world views?

It is only a phase, anyway :)

I'm not a fan of mockery or ridicule, as, for the most part, I think it's unnecessarily and intentionally mean, and it doesn't serve any practical or useful purpose (and staying focused on the practical and useful would benefit us all). In general, it does nothing more than make the mocker feel superior.

Your claim that mockery leads to rational discussion and/or actual change is neither valid nor true. Or, at the very least, it's an extreme overgeneralization for which you've provided no actual, concrete, non-hypothetical evidence.

Mon, 02 Apr 2012 22:32:14 UTC | #932010

Go to: Four Bad Reasons to Believe Anything

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by mirandaceleste

The ambiguous attribution is really quite sneaky and unethical, as it makes it seems that the entire poster (or whatever it is) is a direct quote, not just the four headings (and it's clear that many of the commenters on that site believe that the entire thing is a direct quote).

Is it really a good idea to promote/reward this type of sneaky/unethical behavior by featuring it on this site? Proper attribution and fact-checking are extremely important, and I can't see the value in promoting something that disregards the importance of both (not to mention that it's unnecessarily nasty (the use of "pathetic", for example) and poorly-written).

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 05:33:05 UTC | #928827

Go to: The spectre of militant secularism

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by mirandaceleste

I'm always a bit confused and/or frustrated by anyone who uses "secularism" and "atheism" interchangeably. They have very distinct meanings. One doesn't have to be an atheist to be a secularist, for example. Confusing the two terms only makes the struggle to maintain secular governments and secular societies all the more difficult.

Mon, 19 Mar 2012 20:48:09 UTC | #928729

Go to: Civilian Pastor Attacks Atheist Soldier - Reverend Bryan Griem Claims Atheist Solders Are "Big Fat Chickens"

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by mirandaceleste

From Griem's letter:

Look, you just read the stats: “Researchers have found that spiritual people have decreased odds of attempting suicide, and that spiritual fitness has a positive impact on quality of life, on coping and on mental health.”

He's quoting the article he's responding to, which, in turn, quoted an NPR piece called "Army's 'Spiritual Fitness' Test Angers Some Soldiers" This vague and unsupported claim about unnamed "researchers" was made by Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, who heads the CSF program.

Nowhere, not in Griem's letter, or in the article he's responding to, or in the NPR piece, does Cornum explain what research she's referring to. It's frustrating to see media outlets unquestioningly repeat vague and baseless claims. Also, the Wikipedia page on the CSF program says this, under the "Criticism" section:

There is currently no peer reviewed research that shows any given religious belief necessarily advances mental health. According to the fourth edition of Psychology of Religion by Hood, et al., "The study of positive psychology is a relatively new development...there has not yet been much direct empirical research looking specifically at the association of religion and ordinary strengths and virtues."[13] In a review of the literature on the relationship between religiosity/spirituality and PTSD, amongst the significant findings, about half of the studies showed a positive relationship and half showed a negative relationship.[14]

The cited sources can be found on the above-linked Wikipedia page.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 20:01:48 UTC | #927916

Go to: Westboro Baptist Church to attend Reason Rally with special message for atheists

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by mirandaceleste

Why in the world would anyone invite these awful, bigoted, and hateful media whores/professional trolls to this event? WBC thrives on attention from individuals/groups and on media coverage. If you stop giving them what they want, they will eventually become as irrelevant as should be now. Why encourage their nastiness? Why provide them with a platform? Why feed them? I can't wrap my brain around the "reasoning" behind this invitation.

Mon, 12 Mar 2012 22:35:15 UTC | #926533

Go to: A New Way of Thinking -- Faircloth Interview

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by mirandaceleste

When everyone who is not a believer stands before God at judgement time and find themselves in torment in a hell that they didn't believe in previously, they will finally know the truth about God and the bible. Unfortunately at that point it will be too late to tell their friends and relatives of there gregarious mistake.

How right you are, my dear fellow! I know that when I end up in Hell, I'll be cursing myself for not having told my friends and relatives of my very, very "gregarious" mistake.

Sun, 11 Mar 2012 19:12:53 UTC | #926223

Go to: Update 9-March - Kony details via Boing Boing -Stuff to hear and watch

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by mirandaceleste

Um, it's important to read up on both the currently-ubiquitous Kony meme and the "Invisible Children" charity before promoting them. I realize that those who are spreading this meme are most likely well-intentioned in their slacktivism, but most aren't practicing any critical thinking or skepticism towards it, and that's a problem. Some useful info here:

Thu, 08 Mar 2012 21:14:18 UTC | #925464

Go to: Afghan clerics' guidelines 'a green light for Talibanisation'

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by mirandaceleste

Comment 13 by Richard Dawkins :

Comment 9 by Michael Gray :

Comment 1 by Metamag :

What is USA still doing in a fascist theocracy like this?

The USA is a fascist theocracy.

To call the USA a fascist theocracy is to devalue language. If Obama's USA is a fascist theocracy, what words do we have left for a real fascist theocracy like Saudi Arabia or Taliban Afghanistan?

Indeed. And it's also unnecessarily hyperbole. It's an example of the "boy who cried wolf" syndrome.

Tue, 06 Mar 2012 22:16:04 UTC | #924983

Go to: The "So" meme

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 87 by mirandaceleste

Comment 85 by the great teapot :

rsharvey, not quite on topic but the word gotten which you used jars on English ears, we often label it an americanism forgetting the fact that we share a common language and it could well be us, the britsh, who have contaminated the language.

The use of "contaminated" in this context is both inaccurate and unnecessarily hyperbolic. I don't really have any "pet peeves" when it comes to language usage, but I do find the all-too-common rhetoric about the "contamination" or "decline", etc., of English to be frustratingly ridiculous and uninformed.

Seriously, English will be just fine. Keep calm and carry on and all that.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 23:03:50 UTC | #924455

Go to: The "So" meme

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by mirandaceleste

Comment 61 by green and dying :

Comment 59 by mirandaceleste :

I'm pretty sure that "So I'm walking down the street and I meet this man and he's like . . ." is an example of the historical present tense.

Why is it called a present tense and not a past tense when it describes events in the past?

I agree that the name is a little confusing. This bit from the Wiki page explains it pretty well, though, I think:

Literary critics and grammarians have said that the historical present has the effect of making past events more vivid. More recently, analysts of its use in conversation have argued that it functions, not by making an event present, but by marking segments of a narrative, foregrounding events (that is, signalling that one event is particularly important, relevant to others) and marking a shift to evaluation (Brinton 1992: 221).

That page also contains an example of Dickens's use of the historical present tense in David Copperfield.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 17:25:43 UTC | #924347

Go to: The "So" meme

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 59 by mirandaceleste

Comment 56 by green and dying :

Comment 54 by Richard Dawkins :

How do you make that out? It is absolutely straight-down-the-line present tense, not a whiff of past tense about it. If you think that grammatical construction is anything but present tense, please say what your present tense would look like and how it would differ.


Well, it's being used as a past tense. It's constructed in exactly the same way as a standard English present tense but it doesn't have exactly the same meaning in this context.

I'm pretty sure that "So I'm walking down the street and I meet this man and he's like . . ." is an example of the historical present tense.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 16:57:18 UTC | #924338

Go to: The "So" meme

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by mirandaceleste

In 2010, Language Log did a thorough and quite fascinating post about this phenomenon: They traced its history by using The Corpus of Historical American English, which is a really useful tool for quantitative research on the evolution of language.

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 00:11:29 UTC | #924200

Go to: Santorum, Satan and the Fate of the Freeworld

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by mirandaceleste

It's impossible to over-emphasize the extent to which anti-intellectualism pervades American society, especially the political world. And I'd argue that in order to fully comprehend the detrimental effects of American anti-intellectualism, you have to experience it firsthand. It's very difficult to explain it to someone who doesn't see it/hear it/experience it on a regular basis, not because the person can't grasp the concept, but because you truly do have to "see it to believe it", for lack of a better phrase.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:44:28 UTC | #923503

Go to: "The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin"

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 47 by mirandaceleste

Comment 45 by potteryshard :

Until religion begins to offer actual evidence for its assertations, this event can hardly be construed as a "debate".

It isn't being construed as a debate, though, just a "discussion"

Comment 14 by Warren-S

Maybe Williams will have a giant, gold question mark mounted on a sceptre? Or will dress in the Seventh Doctor's get-up? "I am High Priest of the Holy Order of the Question."

Heh! From now on, I'm going to picture Williams's friend The Question Mark as Sylvester McCoy/The Seventh Doctor dressed in this outfit.

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:58:51 UTC | #920465

Go to: "The nature of human beings and the question of their ultimate origin"

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 11 by mirandaceleste

Comment 1 by mmurray :

I wonder if the Archbishop will speak or whether he will just do "silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark".


Does the truth ever arrive? Or do the Archbishop and The Question Mark co-exist in a perpetual state of ineffable pure mysterious waiting, like the main characters in Waiting for Godot? Will The Question Mark be accompanying the Archbishop to this discussion? And, if so, does The Question Mark get his own chair? So many questions...

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 07:30:46 UTC | #920255

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 259 by mirandaceleste

Oh good lord, now it's in the American press: At least it's a pretty reasonable article.

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 21:16:10 UTC | #919754

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 243 by mirandaceleste

Comment 238 by hitchens_jnr :

Comment 237 by rationalmind :

This is interesting from Twitter. Nicky Campbell is the presenter from this morning's Big Questions programme.

Nicky Campbell @NickyAACampbell A telegraph journalist has told me their Dawkins piece was low, cheap and out of order. #protectingsources

That is interesting, and it contrasts with the defence of the piece offered by one of the Telegraph hacks on "The Big Questions" this morning. I wonder - maybe this is the start of the Telegraph's back-peddling campaign, in the light of the universally critical response their piece has received online.

Interesting indeed. And here's a direct link to it:

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 19:22:24 UTC | #919720

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 207 by mirandaceleste

Jerry has written a good post about this at WEIT: "Telegraph produces expected slur: Dawkins makes money from slavery"

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 15:57:08 UTC | #919651

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

mirandaceleste's Avatar Jump to comment 142 by mirandaceleste

Lusher actually wrote an article about this, and it's just as ridiculous and sleazy as you'd expect. Good lord:

Sun, 19 Feb 2012 08:05:08 UTC | #919498