Mojo asked what we should talk about, so how about talking about religion where we live?
I don't hear too many people praise this, or praise that in Janesville, but I know most people are religious. Talking about religion at work is a big no-no. I volunteered at GIFTS (God Is Faithful Temporary Shelter) a couple times when they first started up, and there were too many "praise the Lord", and "bless you"s for me. Every one asked what church I was from, too. They said anybody could volunteer, but now I see on their website you need to go through your church. I volunteer at House of Mercy homeless shelter, which is secular, although there's no rule against donating bibles and such. There's even a guy that comes in on Sundays to conduct a "church" service, although he's not allowed to do that during his volunteer hours.
How's that for a start on what to talk about?
I don't like to think of how much people are made to feel obligated to sing, pray, worship, etc, in order to receive charity in this culture of ours. I wish religious people would just do charitable deeds without the extra baggage attached....with open hearts and without making anybody feel guilty or shamed into Christianity. (I'm focusing on Christians only because there's such a 'sales' technique to it, in my opinion.)
I think many Christians believe they'll get a better seat with a better view when they proselytize.
Akron, just out of curiosity, do you have many secular friends or colleagues in Janesville (or nearby)? Obviously if have someone with a common worldview you can talk with regularly it helps. I've come out of the closet a long time ago as an atheist. No appologies or wishey-washy double talk like, "We're not very religious." I'm an atheist and proud of it. I work for a large company where most know where I stand. I've found that once you take a stand and are true to it, people (some) will at least respect your honesty. My wife and I are very firm in telling our daughter that good people do good things because it is the correct way to lead your life, not because you expect a reward (heaven) or fear punishment (hell).
I applaud your charitable work and also applaud you for putting up with the non-secular part of House of Mercy.
I don't really know any atheists personally, or at least, none that openly say so. That's why I"m here at Nexus. If somebody asked me I'd tell them I don't believe, otherwise it's really not something I feel I need to proclaim to anyone. Sad story here: The weekend manager for House of Mercy once told me she didn't believe in God, but a few months later was telling me she joined a church. I asked her why she did that if she didn't believe, and she said she joined so she could take her kids to a place to "teach them how to be good". I left the conversation at.
I also have a non-believing friend who takes her 2 boys to church events...even though she herself is not a church-goer. It's for social reasons and the bible camps, I suppose. She's never expressed doing it to teach them morals.
I could never do that, personally. I certainly think that people can be good without god. My 2 kids have never been to church except for the occasional wedding/funeral. I think that those summer school bible camps are cheap ways many parents use to get the kids out of the house for awhile! I saw one of them a few years ago promising "pirate adventures"...which didn't quite jive with my idea of raising kids to be 'Christ-like'...all that pillaging and plundering...ha. Anything to fill the seats, I suppose. Hook 'em in.
WOW. Thanks for sharing that insightful video about the way god created the banana to perfectly fit in the human hand...I'm so convinced there's a god now. ha ha. I was laughing too hard to really listen the first time because the whole thing seemed like a sales pitch for some kind of product like the Ginsu knife...he had that fast talking, Australian accent to lure me into momentary submission. Like something of the QVC channel....where's the Magic Bullet to put the banana in to make a quick, nutritious smoothie? Ray Comfort has a great stage name, by the way. How can you not feel at ease around him?
Seriously now, back to the men's shelter topic...I think that really undermines what Christianity essentially tries to teach: love with no strings attached. There should be no requirement to sing for your supper or pray for your cot at night. I can see maybe discussing some ground rules of conduct because of the kind of living arrangements...but studying the bible? Wrong approach. There should be no compulsion involved. I wrote down a quote last year, after the Haiti earthquake by Susan Jacoby, "The Spirited Atheist":
"The only volunteers who ought to be headed for Haiti right now are doctors, nurses, experienced givers of childcare, and workers who know how to build houses, sewers, and an electrical grid. Any one else is practicing self-serving puffed up charity and ought to write a check instead."
(my emphasis added...since I completely agree with her sentiment about charity work!"
KISSING HANK'S ASS is AWESOME!