Transcript is below…
If I say “Atheists in the United States need to think more about how we interact with folks in minority religious groups” I’m guessing that’d be pretty uncontroversial. There’s one group of people almost ALWAYS left out of those conversations.
check out Tony’s Kickstarter here
Callie: [00:00:00] Big shout-out to Chrisu for becoming a new Patron this week. Thank you friend. Love you lots. My name is Callei Wright, and this is Queersplaining. On today’s show, I actually have two stories for you. The first is a story about a group of people routinely left out of conversations in atheism around minority religions. The second is the story of me initially missing the point on the first.
[00:00:26] You’ve met my friend Tony before. They’ve been on the show lots of times. This week and next week, we’re going to be talking about paganism. This week’s conversation is largely theory, historical example, and education. And next week, praxis.
[00:00:42]Tony: [00:00:42] You’re a homeowner now. When you die, what do you expect to happen physically to your remains? What do you want to happen to your remains?
[00:00:54] Callie: [00:00:54] I would probably just prefer to be cremated.
[00:00:58] Tony: [00:00:58] Mmhmm. Do you have planned to have some sort of Memorial? Would you expect some sort of memorial spot to be set up? Grave marker, something?
[00:01:10] Callie: [00:01:10] I don’t know. I think I would probably leave that up to Celes because in my mind, the way that like.. Because after I die, you know, in my world view there is nothing of me that is me that’s like, my Consciousness, my personality, who I am as a person, whatever…
[00:01:26] Tony: [00:01:26] It’s not left in your body,
[00:01:29] Callie: [00:01:29] right whatever happens after that is for the benefit of the folks who are still around.
[00:01:34] Tony: [00:01:34] You do talk about it being a benefit for the people who you leave behind. Has it ever been on your radar, In any capacity to consider getting buried on your land, now that you own land?
[00:01:51]Callie: [00:01:51] Not really especially because the place that we’re at now I’m sure is not a place we’re going to be forever.
[00:01:57] Tony: [00:01:57] Okay, that’s valid. Do you know why that is though? Why that’s like not a thing.
[00:02:05] I’m not sure. I understand the question like why it’s actually illegal for you to get buried on your own land most places. There’s a lot of heavy laws about, you know, handling human remains. You can’t do it unless you are a state licensed, some sort of State licensed corpse jockey.
[00:02:24] Callie: [00:02:24] That’s a great term!
[00:02:31] Tony: [00:02:31] And the reason why is necromancy. It’s very legitimately necromancy and family graveyards and the desire by the state to prevent that. The reason why, it does go back to when church and state were the same entity in medieval Europe.
[00:02:51] Let’s say you and I both had plots of land right next to each other. I’m a crazy Pagan. So I have, my whole family has been. So on my land, I have the Collins family graveyard. And there’s my mom, there’s my dad, there’s a weird cousin, the whole fucking family all, god, 800 of them because we’ve been here as long as we fucking can imagine.
[00:03:17] But you in this analogy, this hellish dimension, are a good upstanding citizen of the Catholic Church area. And you know that like you can’t go to heaven without a proper Catholic burial. And so you get your dead buried in the graveyard or the family plot in the graveyard where you’re supposed to. Plague comes through. Kills you and me. Which one of us is going to have that land be able to be claimed by a nephew?
[00:03:47] Callie: [00:03:47] I mean, I would guess me because I’m a good Catholic?
[00:03:50] Tony: [00:03:50] Nope! Your land is now a new spot for a Catholic Church.
[00:03:54] Callie: [00:03:54] Ahh, okay,
[00:03:55] Tony: [00:03:55] My land still belongs to the Collins family. Look at that big-ass fucking graveyard that says this is my land. Hmmhmm! The concept of necromancy as “your ancestors being able to get up and fight to help you” is not purely metaphor.
[00:04:14] Your ancestral land, your family graveyard. That’s your solid tangible claim to the land. Because you’ve been such a good Catholic. Your land is probably now their property. That sort of example, which is admittedly the diet version that doesn’t do deep dives and historical shit…. That’s why, that’s my pitch for why any of this fucking matters. Christianity is a conversion based religion.
[00:04:46] it is a whole package societal deal. It’s job is to get you hooked in on a “there are some cool people I can hang out with and I kind of like this whole like God loves me idea” on that level and then at the end end of the day the Catholic Church gets your land and money. It is a set of rules that everyone is supposed to be abiding by. And it is a system that has no problem stealing from you, fucking you over leaving you destitute.
[00:05:20] It doesn’t care about erasing who you are as a person or taking any care of you as a person. It is a machine and it is ultimately a machine designed to benefit the Lords of the land and the government because it is a system designed to be a government. It’s also not a system opposed to cultural genocide or literal physical genocide of people.
[00:05:45] It is not particularly discriminating in that and so that’s why this shit actually matters. That’s why it’s not… That’s why it’s not just like “oh I do these quirky things and it’s different and I deserve respect for that.” But that’s why you should actually make an effort in your activism to stick up for non-Christian religions, because the end goal of the church next door is for me to be the be either gone or completely submissive to them.
[00:06:18] It’s a system of Oppression and it actually means something that it’s a system of Oppression. And this is why you’ve never considered necromancy a positive thing ever until this moment and I know that because you were raised in a Christian Society. “Necromancy is so, it’s violating the consent of people who no longer live,” you you don’t believe that people live in their bodies after they die.
[00:06:44] Neither does Christianity. Your soul’s in heaven. You ain’t using that corpse, where’s and so, why is it evil? Because it keeps Land from the Catholic Church.
[00:06:56]Callie: [00:06:56] Where that gets complicated for me, in my mind, this includes religions that are minority religions in our society, but may not necessarily be in other parts of the world.
[00:07:05] So like in the United States, Muslims don’t have power, Hindus don’t have power, right? In other parts of the world they do. And someone who has a very like Ardent, hard lines probably the wrong word, a very strident out.
[00:07:25] Tony: [00:07:25] Zealous?
[00:07:26]Callie: [00:07:26] Zealous is a good word, yes, would say that, you know, they’re fighting that on behalf of everyone everywhere.
[00:07:34] And so therefore they don’t necessarily View, for example, a Muslim in the United States the same, any differently, than they would view a Muslim in a part of the world where Islam is a system of power that perpetuates those same sorts of systems on people in other parts of the world that Christianity does here. Or Hinduism or even Buddhism in some parts of the world.
[00:07:56] Tony: [00:07:56] So there’s a couple of points I could argue back with on that but I think the one I’m going to start on first, is that’s a false equivalence. Because there is no place in this world where there is a structural Pagan government. Doesn’t exist.
[00:08:15] Callie: [00:08:15] Well that’s true if we’re talking specifically about paganism. Yeah, I was talking more about the idea of just like atheists having more kinship with people of all minority religions and whatever…
[00:08:25]Tony: [00:08:25] The things I would point, I would start there, is pointing out that there’s no place that has… There are more places you could argue having a structurally atheist government system than having any sort of structurally Celtic, structurally Norse.
[00:08:42] Callie: [00:08:42] Oh for sure
[00:08:43] Tony: [00:08:43] government system. And the fact is that the power structure is what matters in this conversation. It’s sort of like, a Japanese person is going to experience racism differently depending on if they’re born in Japan or if they’re born in the United States.
[00:09:04] There are some places in the world where the white man is the minority and suffers as much as such, does that mean we should stop paying attention to structures of classism, racism, sexism, because there are situations in which the person who you’d consider the majority is not the majority. No, it’s that’s.
[00:09:29] We’re talking about religion in terms of social structures and oppression and this sort of whataboutism of like, “oh, well, here’s a situation in which you’re not oppressed. So now I don’t have to consider you as an oppressed group.” Is just ill if that’s the argument angle you’re taking, you don’t get to sit at the table and have a conversation with me because nothing I have to say is going to be meaningful to you.
[00:09:59] Callie: [00:09:59] Well, yeah, and I mean my response to those folks would be that you know context is King right? Like we have to deal with the society that we have in the areas that we have. And also like it’s very easy to ask a Muslim “are you interested in establishing a caliphate? No? Cool. Then we’re probably on the same side.”
[00:10:15] You know what I mean? Like, I don’t think I don’t think that that question is actually as difficult as some people make it out to be.
[00:10:22] Tony: [00:10:22] Yeah. One of the things that gets difficult. That is a thing that you don’t realize is making it sort of emotionally difficult for me to talk about stuff is whenever I start talking about paganism and non-Christian religions, it does immediately get lumped in for you with anything not Christianity.
[00:10:46] You made direct comparisons to like Muslims, and Hindu people, and people with who, with living religions. Who have active centers of power and then there’s me over here with my creative corpse puppetry that is paganism. Because the thing is like, there is a very huge difference when talking about non-Christian religions as to which one you’re talking about.
[00:11:13] Because if I’m, if I’m a Jewish person, there’s still synagogues I can go to. If I’m a Muslim, there are centers of power that exist to raise up my faith. There is a long-standing living tradition of people who do what I do in various ways. But paganism is a sort of blanket term for a fuck whack of religions that have, and religious practices that have been destroyed. There are very very few living pagans. Paganism as a thing doesn’t really exist.
[00:11:54] It’s an umbrella term. There’s very few people who genuinely and wholly believe in practice in this thing. And it is still actively targeted and persecuted by. A majority religion that has a center of power. It’s also persecuted by the majority of religions in all of these other areas as well. And Christianity, American Christianity in particular, has a lot of fun, and this is a place where atheists tend to contribute to the oppression of these targeted religions.
[00:12:35] It’s kind of hard for me to get so callously and uncritically lumped in with my oppressors and other religions under, and living religions that have privilege over me, In a conversation about why I’m oppressed. And it’s like “oh, well, here’s these situations with other religions that I assume are equivalent to you” and it’s really not.
[00:13:06] Callie: [00:13:06] Well. Yeah, and I think I should probably clarify that you know, I only meant to make those comparisons in that the broader conversation….
[00:13:16]Tony: [00:13:16] I’ve lived under this broader conversation my whole life. I understand the broader conversation, that no offense was meant by it… It’s simply a matter of like, that’s not a part of the equation for you.
[00:13:28] There’s a, there’s a type of atheism that sort of exists and no one wants to acknowledge it unless you’re trying to attack atheists. But I feel is super relevant here, where people who like leave their core faith in aesthetic but like still keep all of the tenets of it that you wish would die.
[00:13:53] This is one of those situations where I spot things that others do not tend to, where atheists, particularly in Christian dominated groups, will still treat every other religion the same way that a Christian would. That is, there’s Christianity, the one that matters, and then there’s every other religion which has a comparable experience to each other, and are easily lumped together in a group together, and do not deserve individual thought. Because it’s Christianity, and the people who are wrong. Those are…
[00:14:31]Callie: [00:14:31] Yeah, I think part of the issue is that maybe we were having two different conversations. Because there is something to be said for the fact that I feel like, like I feel like atheists should have a kinship with folks of all minority religions because there are those specific things that they have in common.
[00:14:49] Then if we’re going to drill down, obviously we have to talk about specific ways in which they’re different, right? Yeah, because they very obviously are different. I don’t disagree with that.
[00:14:56] Tony: [00:14:56] I’m actually bringing to the table, I think there’s things you have specifically in common with my religion, my specific non-Christian religions in like that I think you might not even know about
[00:15:11] that, that’s part of why I wanted to have the conversation because I do agree.
[00:15:14] Callie: [00:15:14] So I think part of the problem was that I was probably trying to have a different conversation.
[00:15:17] Tony: [00:15:17] Oh, you were. I mean, I know I know this is one of those things are like I’ve had this conversation with Muslims, I’ve had this conversation with jews, I’ve had this conversation with practicing Christians of various sects, and I’ve had this conversation with atheists. And it’s the same conversation.
[00:15:38]Callie: [00:15:38] Right? Well because like, you know, Muslims in Cincinnati have the Islamic Center of Cincinnati to go to, right. It’s a minority religion for sure…
[00:15:45] Tony: [00:15:45] Muslim but have representatives in Congress. Muslims have, even if everything in America goes to shit, Muslims have other countries to exist in, right but like as it stands. That is not true for a lot of pagan religions and it really fucking sucks. Because especially in the states culturally, like, so….
[00:16:12] You you’re not a Christian obviously, but if pressed do you think you could explain to me the difference between the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit?
[00:16:22] Callie: [00:16:22] Nope. Because I’ve heard, well, I’ve Heard lots of Christians try to do it and fail. And I’m not even sure that I would try.
[00:16:31] Tony: [00:16:31] well, like if you not even if you, but like if you cared, you at least know the difference between like Jesus Christ and God.
[00:16:40] Callie: [00:16:40] yeah for sure.
[00:16:41] Tony: [00:16:41] That’s what I mean. That’s explain the difference between, like one of them’s a spirit you feel in church, and one of them is Jesus who died on the cross, you know, like, you know that. And that’s a fairly Niche bit of Christian lore.
[00:16:55] You know, off hand, you could probably list most of the wounds Jesus Christ had when he died.
[00:17:00] Callie: [00:17:00] ehhhh, its been a while. I Remember the side, the the blood and water coming out of the side thing. I remember that during the crucifixion, but..
[00:17:10]Tony: [00:17:10] Oh It’s very dramatic.
[00:17:12] Callie: [00:17:12] Yeah,
[00:17:12] Tony: [00:17:12] you know and you know about like nails through the hand, you recognize that symbology. And that’s not even something really you’d use in your day-to-day but like, you know, Sure.
[00:17:23] who’s Tyr??
[00:17:24] Callie: [00:17:24] I believe Tyr is a deity of some kind, that would be all I would be able to say
[00:17:27] Tony: [00:17:27] it’s Tyr’s day. It’s Tuesday.
[00:17:30] Callie: [00:17:30] Oh, right
[00:17:32] Tony: [00:17:32] Do you know what Pantheon we use our calendar week from?
[00:17:39]Callie: [00:17:39] I don’t know which, I mean, I know like Thursday is Thor’s day like that sort of I have, I should say, I have a vague knowledge of those things like
[00:17:48] Tony: [00:17:48] yeah, but like why do you know about the blood and water from Jesus side, but you don’t know whose day it is
[00:17:57] Callie: [00:17:57] Yeah, I mean it’s the culture that I grew up in.
[00:18:00]Tony: [00:18:00] Exactly but it’s the point being it’s literally Tuesday It’s Tyr’s day. And you don’t know who Tyr is and that is a huge, that’s a big fucking deal. That matters. Because like, you know, you know so much about this religion that like you don’t participate in, that literally shapes your world, and it has stolen so much from other faiths that are struggling for air and it doesn’t even occurr like…
[00:18:38] Christmas time is a big example of when this starts to bug me. Where as a “gotcha” atheists will trot out the well, “it’s actually Saturnalia” and “oh, well, it’s actually stolen from a Pagan religion.” But in the same breath that they are acknowledging that the Catholic church is playing elaborate corpse puppetry with a religion that they killed in order to court the continued attention of the practitioners of the religion that they killed comes the “and no one cares” sort of attitude.
[00:19:14] It’s like nobody.. “Who was Saturn?” Never going to hear an atheist talk about that. I never going to hear an atheist. Like you’ll hear that talk a lot about like “oh, this is stolen from somewhere else.” Do we care about the people it was stolen from? No. Are we going to do anything to lift up the people it was stolen from? No. And like…
[00:19:36]Callie: [00:19:36] I think the assumption is that those people don’t exist anymore.
[00:19:39]Tony: [00:19:39] Exactly. Oh and it stings. It really hurts like, brings tears to my eyes sometimes because they’ll be like, “oh this was stolen from people long-dead.” It’s like being the other.. “I’m still here. I have a voice. I’m matter. I’m trying to get married. I’m trying to live my life. My religious practice, my religious practices are being legislated against”
[00:19:57] and like and I’m white so I get off, bluntly really easy because the shit also matters because it was literally illegal for all Native American cultures to practice their religion in any meaningful way until the 70s.
[00:20:17] This is how Christianity commit genocide. This is how Christianity commits genocide and it Is important to stop it and to combat it. And these people exist and they matter. And it intersects obviously with like racism and classism and colonialism and conquering attitudes and it really really, it feels like whenever some, whenever an atheist says, you know, this was stolen from a Pagan religion and then continues to perpetrate the idea that that religion is gone.
[00:20:57] You just did work for the church. Congratulations you’re a church lackey now
[00:21:02]Callie: [00:21:02] an atheist doing the church’s job.
[00:21:04] Tony: [00:21:04] Yeah, and it’s like, there’s just so much that is dying and people who should care don’t. And like so much appropriation of cultures that are assumed to be dead because ultimately it does the, it serves the church’s needs to have, to have the notion that pagans are gone.
[00:21:34] Callie: [00:21:34] Baggage. We’ve all got it, right? We’re all going to spend most of our lives unpacking it and I’m not any different than anyone else on this. In this conversation and privately later on Tony rightly brought to my attention the limitations my cultural upbringing placed on my ability to engage with the point they were making. And so I largely missed it.
[00:21:56] Obviously religions that aren’t Christianity are not the same. I doubt anyone would disagree with me intellectually when I say that. But if we collectively examine our thoughts and feelings and the way we play out the discourse around these issues, I bet we’re actually closer to thinking that then we realize we are. And I quite obviously was. So after some talking we decided the best thing to do would be to have a second sit down.
[00:22:23] Tony: [00:22:23] I think, I think the best place to always start is defining your terms. It gives us, it gives us like a grounding and what, in… The vocabulary lesson at the beginning of the chapter always gives you an idea of what’s in the chapter sort of thing. So I think we should talk about like what, what atheism is in the context of most American atheists’ upbringing and the different kinds of religion and kinds of religious experiences that exist?
[00:22:53] Callie: [00:22:53] Yeah, that’s totally fair.
[00:22:55]Tony: [00:22:55] So I’ve, in my experience as sort of an outsider to atheism, but like a friend of atheism, I’ve seen a lot of, and I believe your story is, it has some parallels to this is what… You get raised in a highly Christian environment and then a lot of the the Mythos, the lore, the inconsistencies of the text and the inconsistencies of the facts, will leave a rational mind who’s not really comforted by the stories element and finds inconsistencies in the dogma, and perhaps like Injustice in, within the religious system, will usually find a path towards doing some research about science and educating themselves and go. “Oh, hey this Christian shit is kinda bullshit and that tends to be the basis for a lot of the American atheists Community. Is, while very well informed in science and scientific matters, and very good at critical thinking, it still is rooted in this Christian upbringing.
[00:24:02] Callie: [00:24:02] Atheism is by its nature defining itself as something you are not, right? And for most atheists in the United States that thing that they are not is Christian.
[00:24:10] Tony: [00:24:10] Exactly, and that’s, that’s a, that’s a thing that I think a lot of, a lot of atheists are not very cognizant of. And I see it, especially where I see it a lot, is atheist authors in fiction environments recreating the Jesus myth. That is a, atheist authors will often, or atheist historians will still look at everything in the framework of a Jesus myth, a single God, Saints, and angels, and like, and the hierarchy you are…. There’s a lot of, a lot of religious education that you don’t really consider religious education that you, living in the United States you just grow up with.
[00:24:53] You know about this shit. You know about Easter, you know about Christmas, you know about the devil, you know about like this is just stuff that’s part of your cultural brain. And it influences so much more of how you behave with the world around you than you think about.
[00:25:12] Callie: [00:25:12] And that’s something that I have confronted a lot when considering, and again, and I know this comparison isn’t the best, but it’s the the one cultural reference that I have. Is that there is a vocal contingent of ex-muslims in The Atheist Community who point this out a lot and and they specifically use the phrase “never Muslims.” to describe American atheists who come from the background of Chris…, you know, even if they weren’t like at one point a Christian and then De converted they’re still “never Muslims” because the things that they say and do demonstrate that that’s the point of view that they come from. And so that’s the specific iteration of that is something that I try to remain cognizant of.
[00:25:59] But what you and I had talked about is something that is entirely separate from that still. And something that I don’t really think that I had ever really considered much before. And I think that’s a lot of the root of the problem.
[00:26:11] Tony: [00:26:11] the root of the problem was that you’ve, you, you’ve still come from this place of major world religions, and
[00:26:17] Callie: [00:26:17] another big problem in the atheist community that even like those of us on like the sjw side of things. I think that sometimes we are more guilty of this than we like to admit… Is that we over intellectualize and remove cultural context from things. So like, you know people…
[00:26:40] Actually. I feel like one of the very first conversations we ever had was about a meme that I shared about Muslim women and driver’s license photos.
[00:26:52] Tony: [00:26:52] Yeah,
[00:26:53] Callie: [00:26:53] and that’s something, because in my mind, you know, Islam is just as debunked as Christianity is, and it’s just a silly. But like In the cultural context that I live in, Muslims are also A persecuted minority and you have to consider that when you like
[00:27:10] Tony: [00:27:10] when you’re like openly making fun of Muslims
[00:27:13] Callie: [00:27:13] exactly
[00:27:13] Tony: [00:27:13] And I came to you with a “hey, my sister was Muslim for a while. She wore the hijab. This was a very oppressive thing. Like you don’t want to be a part of being an oppressor” and I feel like you had, we had a very good conversation, but it was not like it was very stressful at the time…
[00:27:31]Callie: [00:27:31] I can imagine. Because I do not remember that I like, like, I was very willing to listen at least on a surface level
[00:27:38] Tony: [00:27:38] It did not come to a very good resolution and it was mostly a surface level conversation. And it involved you very quickly going like “oh, well, there’s some sections of the world where Christians are a minority, does that mean I need to be nice to Christians inherently?” And I’m like that ,that’s not the conversation.
[00:27:54] Callie: [00:27:54] Yeah. It’s, that’s a different, yeah, It’s a different thing to consider and
[00:27:59] Tony: [00:27:59] Growth! Yay!
[00:28:00] Callie: [00:28:00] Right exactly, yeah well and that’s. I think again that comes back to because like, because like, you have so often modeled for me the idea of like “no like I’m going to hold you accountable for this. We’re gonna have a real conversation about it, but I’m not going to throw you away. Assuming that like you handle shit, right, you know what I mean and and that’s …
[00:28:18] Tony: [00:28:18] And hell, even if you fumble it, that’s like it’s called being human.
[00:28:21] Callie: [00:28:21] Right. Right. And so, and so leading into that, talk to me about. Cause like I said, the place that I was coming from is that, you know, like speaking to a the social justice interested atheist crowd, I feel like most of those folks will realize at least in the culture that we live in, in the United States, I feel like none of what we just said would be that controversial, right?
[00:28:53] Tony: [00:28:53] Yeah,
[00:28:54] Callie: [00:28:54] like we can say like, yeah, “I’m not Muslim. I don’t agree with the claims that it makes about the world. But I also understand that Muslims in the culture that we live in are persecuted minority and we have to be really careful how we navigate those conversations.”
[00:29:06] And my initial point of view was like. When you and I were talking, was like hey, here’s another group of people that we need to include in that.
[00:29:14]Tony: [00:29:14] Yeah
[00:29:14] Callie: [00:29:14] that often are not
[00:29:16] Tony: [00:29:16] and that, that’s a good, that is a good place to sort of start from. But if that, you can’t go at it that shallow, right?
[00:29:23] Because there’s, there’s, there’s a sort of an intermediary conversation about colonization that needs to happen. Because we are, we are both white. We’re both Dayglo.
[00:29:35] Callie: [00:29:35] Yes. (laughs) Yes. Yes, absolutely.
[00:29:39] Tony: [00:29:39] In the social justice circles and in The Atheist circles, there’s a lot of acknowledgement of, hopefully, of what European colonization has meant. And the destructions of cultures and how painful and devastating that is, and like what a Monumental loss. It is to have done these terrible things to people
[00:30:03] But in particular I’ve seen. It’s like there’s this twofold conversation about it. Because people who are subscribed to a active major world religion, when confronted with notions of “hey, your religion has done some terrible things in the past to other religions.”
[00:30:25] There’s this sort of mindset of like, well, you know, “that’s not the real faith” and like “here’s what the teachings actually are” and “that was wrong of them” and like that’s where the conversation will end. And sort of like, “I’m not like those christians” is immediately what will come out of someone’s mouth, and they’ll never think any deeper on it.
[00:30:45] And in the atheist Community, the response tends to be like, “well all religions are equally bunked, so, none of that culture matters, none of that, this pocket, any pocket of this culture that I deem is religious, It’s loss doesn’t matter and advocating for it to be remembered and valued in any fashion is, in a sense, just as oppressive as making me read the bible you know,
[00:31:11] Callie: [00:31:11] Yup, I think that’s a very fair characterization. Like obviously like hashtag “not all not all atheists,” but that’s not an inaccurate perception at all, I don’t think, based on like, the discourse that I’ve seen.
[00:31:21]Tony: [00:31:21] Right? And I just, I’ve always thought, it’s such a fucking shame. Because there are a lot of communities and a lot of culture, and a lot of shit that’s like, yes, it is technically religious culture, but I feel like atheists, especially the ex christian atheist section, I feel should care. A lot, about this kind of shit. Because like Christianity, as a religion has steamrolled cultures, and people, and information, historical revisionism all this shit that we acknowledge is bad.
[00:31:57] It is bad to commit genocide. It is bad to revise history, so that people don’t have their cultural memory anymore. It’d bad to forcibly convert someone. All this shit is bad, but it’s okay when you’re doing it over someone else’s religion because I’m personally pissed at the Christian church, that kind of thing.
[00:32:18]Callie: [00:32:18] Even at best, I feel like some of the attitude is like “well bummer. But whatever. But..”
[00:32:24]Tony: [00:32:24] They’re all gone now, It doesn’t matter.
[00:32:26]Callie: [00:32:26] And it’s just a bunch of silly cult people running around dancing naked anyway, so who cares? Like I feel like that’s…
[00:32:33]Tony: [00:32:33] And yet the same people, you restrict *their* right to dress how they want and suddenly it’s an issue. But if I’m dancing naked for religious reasons, I’m stupid.
[00:32:42] But if you’re doing it in front of the government building to protest, you know,
[00:32:46] Callie: [00:32:46] yeah, it’s just it’s very, It’s dismissed very much as silly and anachronistic, and therefore it does not matter.
[00:32:54]Tony: [00:32:54] Exactly, which is, I understand where it comes from. Because it comes from this core section of like “I am rejecting something that I didn’t want to be a part of but sort of is all-encompassing and wanted me to be a part of it.”
[00:33:10] But it’s, in the process you are harming other people who have essentially rejected the same thing. Like we have a common enemy, so to speak, we have common problems. There’s a lot on the table for minority religions, and dead religions, and Atheism. But just, unless I am also an atheist or use the title agnostic to sort of like present myself more palatably,. Anything I do and say with any sort of religious context is ignored.
[00:33:58] A lot of what drives religions is social aspects and it is just this, for a lot of pagan religions, It’s just this husk of what’s left. When you… When you’ve burned, when you’ve torched the building, its piecing together what the building might have been from what’s left in the rubble.
[00:34:17]Callie: [00:34:17] Without a blueprint
[00:34:17]Tony: [00:34:17] without a blueprint. Without any comparable buildings and like half of it’s been looted.
[00:34:22] Callie: [00:34:22] Mhhm, and again, I feel like there are lots of people who would say like “well gosh, yeah that’s sad” but there’s not a lot of acknowledgement or understanding that this like, no like,
[00:34:33] Tony: [00:34:33] There are people hanging out in the rubble doing this. This is how we still, like, if nothing else, you should understand that like this kind of work is how we still have a functional understanding of our past. Because if the Christian church had its way, we’d think the world started 2000 years ago
[00:34:50] Callie: [00:34:50] right at the very, very least
[00:34:52] Tony: [00:34:52] or 6,000 years ago.
[00:34:54] Callie: [00:34:54] Right, at the very, very least, It is an Erasure of history. And that’s a problem. There’s obviously a lot more to it than that. But like that’s a starting place at least, like this is history that like….These were like people that existed that we, like their stories are valuable pieces of our history and who we are, even, even the people who are in different cultures like this is a collective part of our past that like at the very least. We need to be like, take very seriously the fact that this is knowledge that we largely no longer have access to and like that’s…
[00:35:28]Tony: [00:35:28] I mean if you think about it, if you woke up tomorrow and Christianity as a concept had been deleted in everything except like “happy holidays” kinda it’s the Starbucks cup. If Christianity had been deleted in everything but the vaguest references, there are several wars we would no longer understand. There’s a lot of our history that would be, and our culture that would be completely just question marks. We have no idea why people thought this way, why people behave this way. Understanding the past and human history and…
[00:36:04] It would just be… We’d lose… Even if you think all of it is just bullshit fairy tales to make people feel better. You would at least, with the knowledge of what Christianity is, what the teachings are, you understand what has happened in the world around you, because that religion exists. And you know, what’s what it is. If you cut someone off from their history you, It’s a, it’s oppressive.
[00:36:35] Callie: [00:36:35] Yeah, well because I, because I think about how structured my life is around this. And this is something that like, if you had asked me when we had our conversation before, this is a fact that I would completely acknowledge, but I don’t think, I don’t like, in hindsight, I don’t think I quite understood just how deep the implications are.
[00:36:56] Because I think about, I’m an atheist. Okay, but that’s still kind of like you’ve pointed out, like that’s still kind of defining myself in the framework of Christianity because something like that, I’m defining myself in opposition to Christianity. It’s a negative descriptor not a positive descriptor. Right?
[00:37:18] It’s who I am not. It’s who I’m not, it’s not who I am.
[00:37:20]Tony: [00:37:20] And it’s still like, if you are defining yourself as the opposite of this you’re still defining yourself as related to this,
[00:37:28] Callie: [00:37:28] right which is something that I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing to do. I think it’s a bad place to *stop* for sure.
[00:37:36] Tony: [00:37:36] Oh, yeah,
[00:37:38] Callie: [00:37:38] but but obviously, especially for people who grow up in really hardcore fundamentalist religious environments. I get it. Like that, It totally makes sense. Right? There’s just, there’s got to be a lot more that happens after the fact.
[00:37:51] Tony: [00:37:51] I just fucking thought of something. A good old-fashioned homosexual metaphor.
[00:37:56] It’s sort of like, if you only Define yourself as “queer” and insist that everyone else should too, because all you should need is “not straight.” Yeah, there’s a lot of nuance and a lot of importance that would go out the window.
[00:38:13] Callie: [00:38:13] MmHmm.
[00:38:18] Tony: [00:38:18] A lot of the purpose of a religion and religious Doctrine and stories is that humans, humans have fucky memory. We remember things in weird formats better than we remember raw data. People will remember the contents of a lecture better if they’ve drawn the contents of the lecture instead of taking notes or just listening.
[00:38:42] That’s why in elementary school, you got given all these strange sentences, but they, they mean a thing when you do something with the letters. And that was somehow easier to remember than just what the order of operations was.
[00:38:56] Because you’d think, if you’re if you’re being reasonable with your data storage in your brain, You should just be able to give it the order of operations. But no, what you actually need to get it, give it in order to have good data recall is Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,
[00:39:14] Callie: [00:39:14] right, yeah. We, kinda remember, we tend to remember things proportionally to how, to how absurd they are in contrast to the environment that we’re used to.
[00:39:23]Tony: [00:39:23] That and also humans are narrative creatures.
[00:39:26] Callie: [00:39:26] Yes
[00:39:26]Tony: [00:39:26] humans are narratively focused, humans are artistically focused. That’s why marketing is such a big, marketing is a subset of art as much as they want to pretend otherwise. Because you want it to be business numbers, so it feels legitimate. But art and illustration, and stories.
[00:39:45] That’s the essence of how humans became humans is we were monkeys who figured out how to tell each other stories. And now this., And so story storytelling as, is the core of how a religion sticks.
[00:40:05] And it’s it’s, there’s so many different ways to use a story. But the fact is that we all remember and engage with the concepts via the story, that I feel like that gives the story value on its own.
[00:40:18]Callie: [00:40:18] mmhmm.
[00:40:19] Tony: [00:40:19] Because it’s like “oh, it’s just a story. oh its just a myth.” It’s like “no, this is the, this is the foundation on which we play out everything we do as humans. Storytelling is that base structure on which everything we do occurs. Because like without storytelling you don’t care about other people, you know.
[00:40:41] That, that basic, like, I hesitate to use empathy because that’s a loaded term in terms of like how it’s been used in ableist ways. But like.
[00:40:53]Callie: [00:40:53] it’s the thing that makes you care.
[00:40:54] Tony: [00:40:54] Yeah,
[00:40:55]Callie: [00:40:55] however, however that caring manifests itself.
[00:40:58] Tony: [00:40:58] Yeah! And so…
[00:41:01]Callie: [00:41:01] So this relates back to Mickey Mouse…
[00:41:03]Tony: [00:41:03] This relates back to Mickey Mouse. “Mickey Mouse is a tulpa.” Is my favorite sentence because it’s so disturbing me.
[00:41:12] Callie: [00:41:12] What does Tulpa mean?
[00:41:12] Tony: [00:41:12] Okay, a tulpa is, loosely, for the layman, what you need to understand about a tulpa is a tulpa is a theoretical spiritual being that is brought into existence via the belief in it.
[00:41:30] So there’s an interesting thing that you start to become aware of when you do, when you become the kind of chaotic wealthy I was a couple years ago, where I got really into Disney, and Disney culture. Because like as much as I’m aware that Disney as a corporation is kind of the most evil shit that exists, there’s something to be said about the magic of the storytelling and that sort of like if you if you disconnect from the social justice Port part of your brain, you can have a fucking rad time. Just gamboling around in Disney shit and it’s really good dopamine. It’s really good dopamine.
[00:42:11] But um, I went to Disney World for a week with my wife and her childhood best friend. It was great. I have never had more fun. But it was fucking Eerie. Because in retrospect a lot of the energy surrounding going to Disney World and being in those Parks feels like a Sacred Space.
[00:42:36] And there is, once you get to know enough Disney cast members, there is a way they speak about Mickey Mouse that is as though he is real. They will call him “the boss.” There’s a specific Mickey Mouse who is the one that’s alive, and everything else is just imagery of it. And that specific one is an animatronic Mickey Mouse that is rarely ever shown brought anyone to, he’s and they call him “the boss.”
[00:43:10] And that is an entity, Mickey Mouse as an entity that exists as a powerful creature that is being believed in and sold to children on backpacks, that kind of thing.
[00:43:23] Like if you’re aware of this concept of collective belief influencing something, and then you look at what Disney is doing to copyright law, how Disney has, as a corporation has gutted copyright law because they don’t want to get rid of Mickey Mouse. And then look at that. Because they can’t let Mickey Mouse go into public domain, because then they don’t have control of Mickey Mouse, and Mickey Mouse as this character is this huge like flagstone of American culture and American fantasy and fiction and escapism.
[00:44:00] It’s Mickey Mouse. And with the more Corporation, the more mergers Disney is doing, the more powerful the mouse is getting the, Michael Mouse is terrifying! Because Michael Mouse is fucking alive in a sense, you know, this is an entity that shaping laws.
[00:44:16] And that’s, that’s something to pay attention to and when you’re looking into discourse about how ideas shape the world around you. And how the reverence over, this is how, in a hundred,
[00:44:31] in a millennia, if I showed up and saw unironically, the Church of Mickey Mouse hanging around, I would not be surprised. I would not be surprised.
[00:44:41] This is how a major world religion can start. This is how… This is the baby steps of it.
[00:44:52]Callie: [00:44:52] Well in fact, I’ve heard. I mean I’ve heard stories there… I don’t know that this is a majority view, but I think there are historians that actually think that’s how Christianity started. Is that like Jesus was just some dude and all of these myths started coming up around him and it turned into this whole thing because of that
[00:45:06] Tony: [00:45:06] Jesus was just some like really sensible Jewish dude who said some smart things once and like all of his Bros started talking shit about how cool he was and suddenly…
[00:45:18]Callie: [00:45:18] Right.
[00:45:18]Tony: [00:45:18] Yeah that, that’s the thing. It’s like that’s how this shit starts.
[00:45:24]Callie: [00:45:24] Yeah, and I think to tie that back conceptually to the conversation that we’ve been having is that… Because I think it could be really easy to go back and like use that as an argument about like why we need to be weary of religions and why religions are bullshit and all of that, whatever discourse people want to have.
[00:45:44] But I think what that’s actually illustrative of is the weak spots that we have and recognizing the things that we accept as part of our culture that we don’t know have origins other than that. Like the Necromancy thing for example….
[00:46:01] Tony: [00:46:01] Because, what you what you are convinced to accept uncritically because it’s comfortable, is absolutely very often a tool of the state, and a tool of, the tool of the church state to get, to separate you from your wealth. And that is wherein I think that talking about pagans and personal private practice religions is very important.
[00:46:33] Because a lot of what you get with like, I don’t pay dues to a church. I do historical research to get information about myths I think are interesting. I learn things about the cultures that came before, and I keep something that would die alive, but I am not as… It’s sort of like Indie religion. Like I am not being leveraged by a system when I’m doing this. I am in fact actively picking at holes in the system when I’m doing this
[00:47:08] and that is something that it is important to realize about like your local weird witchy friend who does tarot readings and talks about Hellenistic stuff as though they’re actually praying to Athena or something. “wow what a weirdo.” You got to realize what, that there are ways to practice religion that are inherently more aligned with the anti-christian ideal of atheism than popular atheism manages to be.
[00:47:37] And that’s something I feel like a lot of popular atheism would benefit from paying attention to. It’s like “hey, you want to be anti Christian church, because you recognize the Christian church has done bad things. Fun fact, there’s a lot of people already starting to do this work. You just dismiss them because they’re also doing mythology and religion and faith in that kind of thing.”
[00:48:03] It’s like, “oh you recognize that the environment is important. Talk to your local native community who are really fucking passionate about leather trade like… There’s a reason for that
[00:48:14] Callie: [00:48:14] who spent Millennia existing in this environment without destroying it.
[00:48:18] Tony: [00:48:18] Yes, exactly. Like there’s so much. There’s so much value to atheists and what they’re trying to do in the weird-ass unique Pagan Community. Because you’re never going to find to pagans who are doing the same thing. And you’re never going to find two of them with the same perspective. And it’s… Each of us are little pockets of history and information that is… That the Christian church is very interested in deleting that and because the Christian church and the state particularly the Republican state but like the Democrats do it, too.
[00:48:59] They’re very interested in working together to delete this information so that you wind up subscribed to like to what’s profitable to them.
[00:49:13] Callie: [00:49:13] Tony, thank you, as always for your Insight, your wisdom, your patience, and most importantly, of course your friendship. You are an absolute treasure, and I love you to pieces.
[00:49:24] And you, dear listening friend! There is a second part of this episode coming. See, how Tony originally suggested this episode to me was that they wanted to do a tarot card reading. We’d preface it with a bit of history and education and then they would do the thing.
[00:49:40] Well the history and education ended up being enough to fill several episodes, and getting it less than an hour for the show was a Monumental enough task, but the tarot card reading happened and that’s what you’re going to hear next week.
[00:49:53] Tony: [00:49:53] Taking a knife to the wall because you’re stressed. Can I say that that is that is never been, never have I felt something bridge the Pagan/atheist Gap more firmly than “I’m stressed about my job I’m cutting a hole in the wall.”
[00:50:11] Callie: [00:50:11] In the meantime, Tony has something pretty cool happening that you should check out. Not only is Tony a pretty rad human. They’re also a pretty rad artist and designer. They’re running a Kickstarter right now for a bag they designed. If nerdy bags are your thing, this is something you definitely want to check out.
[00:50:28] There’s a link to their Kickstarter campaign in the show notes and for the page for this episode at queersplaining.com/necromancy
[00:50:37] side note. I’m so stoked that URL is something associated with my show.
[00:50:42] As always, there are two very important and awesome ways you can support the work that goes into making this show.
[00:50:47] You can share this episode around to your friends. Tell them how awesome it is. Tell them how they need to start listening. Or you can head to patreon.com/queersplaining and make a pledge to support the show. It all helps, and it all makes a difference.
[00:51:01] Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared – If you feel like no one cares and no one understands, you need to know there’s a community out here that loves you, cares for you, knows that you’re capable of amazing things and that you are worthy of love. If you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friends, my name is Callie Wright, and this is Queersplaining.