Confessions of an Anonymous Coward

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Change of Focus

So... with the new year and all (and the year and a half of silence), I think it's about time to... refocus this blog a little. When it started out, it was mostly about atheism. I'm likely to still have something to say about that subject, of course, but there are other things I want to write about too. A year after the blog launched, I admitted I was gay. And... well, that's another thing I'm likely to want to write about some.

But I think maybe the main thing I'm going to want to focus this blog on is skepticism and critical thinking. Because really, that's the root of everything else. It's critical thinking that leads to recognizing the lack of foundation of religion. It would certainly be silly to say it was critical thinking that made me gay... but critical thinking does lead to more acceptance of that and other traits, by, again, helping to recognize the baselessness of discrimination. Ultimately, I think critical thinking is one of the most important things to try to foster.

Anyway, we'll see how the blog develops over this next year. There are a few things I want to do fairly soon, though. I'm going to make a few changes to that blogroll on the right... there are a few other blogs I ought to add, and at least one of the blogs that is listed there is no longer updating, and should maybe be removed. (Well, several of them haven't updated in a while, but one of them has officially declared itself inactive.) But also, I should make a new introductory post. I already have an introductory post—it was the first post on this blog—but a lot has changed since then, and it's pretty badly out of date.

And then, yeah, I'll get to making some more substantive posts. Never did get around to finishing that series on the Seven Deadly Sins... But in the meantime... yeah, I've got a lot on my plate...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well, it's a new year... and it's a year and a half since my last post. In which I said it had been "way too long" since my last post before that, and said I'd post more later. Which, I guess, I now technically have, even if it's more than a year and a half later...

Yeah, okay, a big part of my reason for not posting has, obviously, been the fact that I've been busy. First with my teaching job, and then (I wasn't rehired for this academic year)... well, with other things. Such as acting. Yeah, I'm not making enough as an actor to make a living at it yet, but I've been doing pretty well; I've got an IMDb page now with a number of credits. (Which, of course, I'm not going to link to, since that would kind of go against the whole anonymity thing.) In fact, it's to the point now where I'm called by my stage name more often than by my real name; even my current roommate is someone who I met through acting and who calls me by my stage name. (He does know my real name; he's just not used to using it.)

So, yeah, I guess while I'm anonymous here, I'm otherwise polyonymous. But anyway...

So, anyway, I've been busy, and that's part of the problem. But another part is that as I fell behind, the comments piled up on past posts, and responding to all those comments seemed an increasingly daunting task. And made me somewhat unwilling to resume this blog and face them.

Oh, I'm not referring to friendly comments offering support, or even those that respectfully disagree or ask honest questions; those don't bother me. I can deal with them. It's the comments of people who seem intent on starting a debate, or on just plain attacking. That's not what I started this blog for. I don't like debating. I don't think I'm bad at it; I just don't enjoy it. I don't want to debate. Seriously. I have things I want to say, but I'm really not interested in arguing about them.

Yeah, I know; I don't have to respond. But the problem was... well, I guess the main problem was, I didn't want it to look like I didn't have a response. In fact, in many cases (maybe even most cases), I'd already addressed the matters brought up in the comment in another post the commenter evidently hadn't read, or even in the same post the comment was in reply to, the commenter apparently having only glanced at the subject of the post and made assumptions about its contents without actually reading it. So it's not like responding would have been difficult. But with so many posts to respond to... and the inevitability, based on past experience, that some of the commenters would have returned with objections that must be responded to, or tried to play word games to twist what I said, or... ugh.

But you know what? Ultimately, I guess, this is all a matter of pride. It's all just because I don't want these people to think I can't answer their arguments. Why should I care? Especially given that this blog is anonymous, so they don't even know who I am? Why should it matter if they think they've out-argued me? Especially since even if I do reply, they're likely to dismiss my reply and go on thinking they've won anyway?

So you know I've decided? The heck with past comments. I may respond to some if I feel like it, but I won't feel obligated. And that goes with future comments too. I'm going to try not to worry about responding to them. I might respond to some comments if I feel like it (particularly if they're not argumentative), but I'm not going to feel obligated to respond to them all. I'm not going to actually delete comments unless they're clearly spam or obscene, but I may decide to ignore them. If people want to think the reason I'm not responding is because they've stumped me with their brilliant arguments, eh, let them think that. I don't have time to deal with it.

In fact, I'm not even going to look at any comments on past posts tonight. Maybe later, to see if there's anything interesting I missed. But for now, I'll just make this post, and go to bed. (Well, maybe check out a few other blogs I haven't checked out in a while first.)

Anyway, though, I'll try to be a little more active on this blog this year than I was last year. Which shouldn't be hard, given that last year I made a grand total of zero posts. But seriously, I do still have some things I want to say, and maybe this year I'll find time to say them. And if anyone reading this wants to get into an argument about them... please, find someone else to argue with. Thanks.

Monday, March 31, 2008

On the Way Back

Okay, it's been way too long since my last post; like I said, I've been in some financial straits, and haven't even had internet access at home. But I've got my internet access restored now, and I should be able to start posting much more often again.

Though not tonight; I've got a lot of other things to catch up on. So...for right now, all I wanted to say was that I'm back. I'll post more later.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Gah, well, it's been a long time since my last post (again), so I figured it was about time I ought to post something so I wouldn't leave January completely without posts, and so any readers that may still be keeping an eye on this blog will know I haven't completely abandoned it. Life's just been very busy (more specifically, the teaching job has kept me very busy, between writing and grading finals and students wanting tutoring)--that, and I still don't have an internet connection at home (I don't really feel comfortable spending money on things like that till I have all my past-due bills paid up--and while I'm getting there, I'm not quite there yet), which makes it hard to find an opportunity to make a blog post. There's been plenty I've been wanting to post about, though, and more frequent posts should resume...uh, some time in the future.

For now, I'm going to make this post relatively brief, because I have to be getting home and getting to bed so I can get up in the morning in time to get to the school early. But I do have something to tell about my teaching job that relates to the subject of this blog.

I may have mentioned (I'm kind of writing this post in a hurry, so I don't want to take the time to glance through prior posts right now to check) that I got this job because I'd applied for a job back in October at the same school as a science teacher. I didn't get the job then, but the head of the science department liked me enough to ask me to tutor a student he was working with--and, when a math teacher quit unexpectedly in December and an immediate replacement was needed, to recommend me for the position. Well, during my first interview back in December, he had remarked that he noticed that I had mentioned on my résumé that I spoke Spanish. Yes, I said, that's true.

"Why?" he asked.

Kind of an odd question, but I had an answer; I had lived for two years in Spain. But then he asked why I had done that, and I answered that, well, I was raised in the Mormon church, and I'd gone on a mission for the church when I was younger.

Then he asked whether I still was a believing Mormon.

I hesitated a little before answering. Private schools are often run or funded by religious organizations--as far as I knew, this one wasn't, but I wasn't sure. Besides, even if the school wasn't religious, he might be, and I didn't want to offend him. Was it a good idea to let him know I was an atheist? Still, the alternative was lying--or evading the question, but that wasn't much better--and while, admittedly, I still haven't told my family and the people at my church that I don't believe anymore, I didn't really want to spread that subterfuge any farther than it already was. So I told him that no, I'd been brought up in the church, but I no longer believed in it.

Somewhat to my relief, he expressed approval at this, saying that he thought religion was a bunch of nonsense himself.

(Which, I later discovered, may not be entirely true; he does still raise his family in a Christian church--though I don't gather he really believes in its doctrines.)

Anyway, he did occasionally thereafter talk to me about the LDS church, and tease me about it a little (he'd sometimes tell people I was from Utah--which I'm not; my brother lives in Utah, and my father grew up there, but the most time I've spent in Utah myself is two months in the Missionary Training Center before my mission). And apparently he mentioned to the English and history teacher in the room across from mine that I had family members who went to BYU. (Or possibly he'd erroneously told her that I myself had went to BYU--I don't recall correctly.)

I found this out one day when I went to lunch with said teacher and the science teacher next door (the person who, apparently, had gotten the job I'd originally applied for, though she didn't realize that). The English/history teacher brought up the subject, and I said that yes, my brother and sister had gone to BYU. So then she asked the inevitable follow-up question: Was I Mormon?

Again, I hesitated a little before answering, not sure how she would react, but decided to go with the honest answer. Well, I answered, I was brought up Mormon, and as far as most of my family knows I still am. I do still go to church, but just for social reasons; I don't believe in it anymore.

"Well," she said, "at least you still go to church."

Her reaction wasn't quite as positive as the department chair's; it turned out that she is Mormon (and is apparently doing her best to try to convert the science teacher; I overheard her inviting her to accompany her to church). Still, she remains friendly toward me, and doesn't seem offended by the fact that I've left the church (in spirit, if not in body, so to speak). But she hasn't talked to me at all about the church since then--though that may be not because she's avoiding the subject, but just because it hasn't come up.

The English/history teacher in question has a daughter in my class--one of the top students in the class, too, although she apparently didn't used to be; she was doing very badly in the class before, I've been told, but the science teacher has been tutoring her, and between that and the fact that she prefers my teaching methods to those of my predecessor she's shown a drastic improvement. Anyway, it was just yesterday, I think, that her daughter saw me drinking something before class, and said "Is that coffee, Mr. [insert my last name here]? Shame on you!" At the time, I thought it was a little odd she would find that shameful; did she think teachers shouldn't be drinking coffee for some reason? It didn't register with me until later that her mother must have told her I had been Mormon, and she was disapproving of my drinking coffee because it went against Mormon commandments.

As it happened, what I was drinking that morning wasn't coffee; it was, as I told her, an horchata-flavored smoothie. But--although I didn't tell her this--I have started drinking coffee now. Not every day, and not regularly, and the reason I started at all...can be laid largely at the feet of another teacher with a child in one of my classes. (Well, technically she's not a teacher; she's the academic admissions director, but a staff member, anyway.) But that's another story, and one that I suppose I'll tell in another entry another time.

So, anyway, I haven't been hiding my atheism at my new job (though obviously I haven't been going about trumpeting it either), and it doesn't seem to have hurt anything. One thing, though, I admit, I have avoided mentioning is...well, my sexual orientation. Not that there haven't been opportunities. The science department head has occasionally asked me questions about what kind of girls I find most attractive, and similar matters, and I've done my best to avoid them. My students have asked me if I'm married. And, well, I'm not positive, but I think the science teacher nextdoor may be flirting with me. But I just haven't felt comfortable mentioning that I'm gay. Now, the science department head does use "homosexual" as a random insult sometimes, but he uses various ethnicities as random insults, too, including his own (Armenian), so that's probably more because he enjoys being politically incorrect for his own amusement than because he really has anything against homosexuals; still, I admit it is a little off-putting. Even without that, though...I don't know. For some reason, even though I've known I was gay a lot longer than I've considered myself an atheist, and even though I know that lots of studies and surveys have shown that atheists are far more distrusted than homosexuals, it's still my homosexuality that I'm less comfortable admitting to or talking about.

Anyway, I said I'd make this post relatively brief, and arguably I've already failed to do so, but I really do have to get home and get to bed, so I should end it now. But anyway, I just figured it was well past time I ought to post something, and that I may as well post about my teaching job, and how my atheism has come up there. I'll try to post more often again in the future--I do have a lot more I want to post about--but...okay, you know, I'm struggling to think of a pithy way to end this post, but it's late enough I should just end it and go, even if it ends on a lame sentence like this one.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Voice From the Dust

Okay, it's been way, way too long since my last update. When last we left off, I was in a state of severe financial hardship and searching for a job. Which explains why it's been so long since my last update--not only because I've had to spend all my time job-hunting and scrambling for money, but also because my internet connection was disconnected due to lack of payment. But let's continue the story from where we left off.

So, as I was going longer and longer without a job, things were getting more and more desperate. I wasn't completely without any income--I had a few tutoring jobs. One of them I'd gotten through another job I'd applied in October, as a science teacher at a private school. I didn't get the job, but the science department chair liked me enough to arrange for me to tutor a student he was helping out independently. Another tutoring job I'd gotten through a tutoring company. Still, while the income from the tutoring jobs was certainly better than nothing, it wasn't enough to pay all my bills.

In particular, it wasn't even enough to pay my rent, and by the beginning of December my landlord had lost what patience he may have had. I'd already been very late with my November rent (and had managed to come up with it only by borrowing money), and he wasn't happy about having to wait for late payment in December too. He reluctantly agreed to give me until December 10 to pay--but if I didn't give him the money by then, I'd be evicted.

Now, it probably goes without saying that eviction would be an utter disaster for me. With no car, and no money to rent a truck or hire movers, I'd have no way of getting my stuff moved, and nowhere to move it to in any case. It might not be entirely true that I have nowhere to go--my mother has long been trying to convince me to move back in with my parents, and she'd no doubt be happy to have me. But--while that would beat homelessness--it would be a catastrophe as far as I was concerned. Aside from the fact that I don't want to live in Orange County, and that I have lots of things going on in Los Angeles I wouldn't be able to get to; and aside from, well, the opprobrium of a thirty-something living with his parents; there's the prospect of it being a dead end I couldn't escape from, or at least couldn't escape from without great difficulty. My mother kept talking about the money I'd save by not having to pay rent, and how with what I'm paying on rent at my current place I'd be able to afford a car--but this overlooks the difficulty I'd have making any money there at all. In Los Angeles, I can still work without a car (or could if I had a job); the public transportation system, while not top-of-the-line (the MTA has advertised that it won an award as the best municipal transportation system in the nation; I find this hard to credit), is at least serviceable; Orange County's vastly inferior and thoroughly inadequate bus system would make getting to a regular job impossible. Not to mention the fact that I would lose the tutoring jobs I already had, plus the job leads I was still pursuing, and would have to start a job hunt over from scratch. And there are many other ways that moving into my parents' house in Orange County would severely interfere with my plans for my future... Suffice to say that moving in with my parents was an extremely unpalatable contigency. But if I was evicted, I would have nowhere else to go--if I didn't have the money to pay my rent where I lived now, I certainly didn't have the money to put down for rent somewhere new (even if I could find another apartment I could afford). So eviction was something I wanted to avoid at virtually all costs.

Which is why I was so tempted by a possible way out that presented itself...

One friend I knew from church (who had loaned me some money)--for the purposes of this post, I'll call him "Tom", which isn't his real name but is close enough--had been urging me for some time to go to the bishop about my financial difficulties and get some money from the church. There was nothing to be ashamed of, he said; that's the reason we pay tithing and fast offerings; he knew of many people in the ward who had gotten money from the church to get through hard times who deserved it a lot less than I did. "Tom" pressed me to just give the bishop a call and explain the situation, and there shouldn't be any problem with just getting enough to get by--in fact, he recommended I ask for a little more than I needed just for rent, enough to get a bit of a cushion and avoid undue stress.

Obviously, I'd resisted doing this. Neither "Tom" nor the bishop, of course, knows about my atheism; as far as either of them knows, I'm still a faithful member of the church. ("Tom" had even mentioned at one point--I think half in jest, but not entirely--that his testimony depended to some degree on mine, that my own faithfulness was helping him through. I...really wasn't sure what to say about that.) I feel bad enough about that, about going through the motions of Mormonism for social reasons and hiding my deconversion from the ward members. But actually getting money from the church under false pretenses...well, it struck me that that would be a whole different and much bigger level of wrong. (And it would be under false pretenses; I'm pretty sure the bishop wouldn't consider giving me any money to get me through my financial straits if he knew how I really felt about the church.)

But by December 8, two days before my eviction deadline, when "Tom" pressed me again to see the bishop and ask for money...I gave in. I was desperate. I'd tried anything else. I'd tried getting loans, with no luck. Payday advances? No dice without a regular payday, and the tutoring jobs didn't count. I had gotten a job at Universal Studios--a sort of embarrassing, barely-over-minimum-wage job that I'd gotten because it was at least better than nothing, but that still didn't seem likely to be enough to cover all my bills--but the five-day training period for that had just started, and I wouldn't be an official employee until after the training was over (and wouldn't get paid until the following Thursday--and even then, of course, it wouldn't be nearly enough to cover my rent). I'd tried pretty much everything I could think of, and hadn't found a way to come up with the money. I was out of options.

So I told "Tom" that yeah, maybe he was right. I'd go to the bishop.

He called back later and said he'd talked to one of the bishop's counselors and explained my situation, and that all I needed to do was talk to the bishop and work out the details. I called him and explained the situation, and arranged to call him the next day after I got out of job training--because of the training, I wasn't going to be able to be at church that Sunday--and set up a meeting.

So. It looked like I was going to be able to avoid eviction after all. But...I didn't feel at all comfortable about what I'd had to do to do it.

I tried to rationalize it. After all, the amount I'd be getting was much less than I'd paid the church over the years in tithing and fast offerings, so I'd be just sort of getting back some of what the church had already taken from me. Okay, I hadn't been planning to pay tithing or fast offerings anymore, but after this, maybe I owed it to them to pay for one more year. In fact, once I was in a better financial spot, I could pay back what I'd gotten, with interest. There'd be no harm done. I wasn't hurting anyone.

I wasn't buying it. No matter how I tried to justify it, it just didn't sit well with me. The ends didn't justify the means. It was still wrong.

Desperate as I was to avoid eviction, I still couldn't go through with this; my conscience wouldn't allow it. It was too late that night to call the bishop back, but I called him the next morning and left a message, and called "Tom" too, to let him know that, while I appreciated his help and his friendship, I didn't feel comfortable taking money from the church.

I still didn't have any idea how I could come up with the money for rent, and eviction still looked possibly inescapable. But I did manage to talk the landlord into giving me till Thursday, though it wasn't easy and he made it very clear that he wouldn't give me any further extensions.

Then, on Monday, December 10, a math teacher at the private school where I'd applied for the science teacher job back in October quit very suddenly, without giving notice. The school needed a replacement teacher immediately. And the science department chair, whom I'd kept in touch with through the tutoring job, asked me if I wanted the job.

This didn't immediately solve the problem, of course--I had a job now, but I didn't get paid immediately. Still, knowing that I had a decent job now and a definite prospect of income made it easier to get some loans from friends, and I managed to get the money to the landlord by Thursday and avoid eviction...and from here on out, my financial prospects are looking much rosier. Oh, it'll be a while before I'm really caught up and financially comfortable, but at least I'm in no danger of eviction now and, while things will be tight for a while, I'll have enough to get by.

We've all heard the "inspirational" stories of people in dire situations resisting the temptation to get out of their trouble by immoral means and being rewarded by an unexpected boon that gets them better off than they would have been had they given into the temptation in the first place. The idea behind the stories is that the people were being tested by God, and that He rewarded their faithfulness. The story of my recent experiences has a similar flavor--I turned down the option of getting money from the church, even though I didn't see any other way to avoid disaster, and then a better option unexpectedly arose. But if the God of those inspirational stories did exist, it would seem out of character for him to reward what was essentially my staying true to my atheism, so I think He can be ruled out as the architect of my financial deliverance. Still, even if I can't thank some divine benefactor for my fortune, I'm certainly grateful for it, if one can be grateful to impersonal circumstance--and I'm glad I don't have to live with the guilt of having taken money from the church to get through my straits. I'm still ashamed that in my desperation I went so far as to call the bishop and start the process, but I can take some consolation in the fact that at least I didn't go through with it.

And anyway, now that I've got a job and am in a much better situation than I had been for the last few months, I'll try to update this blog much more regularly again...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Month In Review's been way too long since I last updated this. Over a month, in fact (though just barely). Yeah, sorry; things have been busy lately...mostly because I've been, well, busy trying to get enough money together to pay the bills. (The acting thing has actually been going fairly well...but not well enough to make me enough money to live on.)

I'm in a hurry right now, and don't have time for a long post, so, though (as usual) there are many things I want to post about (including but by no means limited to finally posting a wrap-up to the series about The God Delusion), for the moment I'll just give, well, a brief rundown of what's been going on for the last month. Or the last two months, really, because last time I posted I'd still been behind stating what was going on.

So, what's been going on lately. Um, okay, not much worth stating here, really. Still for the moment keeping up the faĉade of going to church, though fairly infrequently; things have come up often enough on Sundays lately that I haven't been going all that often. (Which is okay; I'm doing it pretty much just for appearances now--well, okay, that and to keep in touch with friends there--, and eventually I ought to come clean about my beliefs, or disbeliefs, anyway.) Went to a few more PFLAG meetings, but may not go to any more, particularly as I've since found out about a group meeting more nearby (at the Center for Inquiry) that seems likely to be more congenial--although unfortunately I may not be able to make the meeting this month (and it is unfortunate, because I'm curious what that group's like).

Hm...not much more to say right now, especially since I don't have time to go on at length right now. I am, however, possibly about to start a new job (I've interviewed for it; the interview went well; but I haven't heard back yet)--in fact, I'll just say that one way or another I am about to start a new job, because if I don't get this one I'll find another one; I really need the money right now, and acting, while it's been fun, hasn't been sufficient financially--and when that happens, I should be able to post more often. Being stressed out about not having money, and desperately seeking sources of same, has made it hard to keep up with things like, well, blog posting. But I'll post again--a more substantive post--soon. Definitely within much less than a month, at any rate...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The God Delusion: The Third 100 Pages

Wow. It's been three weeks since I last posted here. That's way too long. Yeah, there are reasons for the delay--I've still been quite busy, and I was actually without internet access for a period of time (not worth going into details)--but anyway, uh, I guess I'm back. And though there are plenty of other things I've been wanting to post about, I think I'll start out by finally continuing my posts about my impression of The God Delusion

Anyway, I said in my second post that I probably wasn't going to do this--not that I wasn't going to continue this series, but that I wasn't going to post about the third 100 pages, specifically; I was likely to just make one more post wrapping everything up. I'm not doing that primarily because, uh, I still haven't finished the book. Not that I'm that slow a reader, of course; I finished the first 300 pages in a few days, after all. It's just that when I didn't finish the book by the book club meeting, I wasn't in a hurry to finish it thereafter, especially since I had so much else to do (like I said, I've been busy). But after this post I'm going to read the rest--aside from the fact that, well, it's about time that I finished it, it's, uh, overdue at the library... Anyway, I haven't looked at the book since that August book club meeting, so I guess before making this post I should at least skim those third 100 pages to refresh my memory...

Okay, back. Actually, I have little to say about this part of the book (which is good, because this post is late enough already, and I don't have much time to write it). Dawkins presents here arguments about why religion isn't necessary for morality (a well-worn subject, but one that too many theists still refuse to accept), and, significantly, why and how religion has been--and still is--an active force for harm, both societally and individually. (His discussion of the "moral Zeitgeist" in Chapter 7 has much in common with a post I made back in June). But I won't repeat his arguments in detail; you can (and probably should, if you haven't) read the book yourself for that. Again, my purpose here is to state my impression of the book--and in particular, my criticisms of it, since I haven't seen any really critical reviews not from a religious standpoint. (I repeat, however, as I've said in earlier posts, that my focus on criticism here shouldn't be taken to imply overall that I disliked the book--only that it's the details I found fault with that I think are most worth discussing here, since plenty of other people have already gone on about its virtues.)

Actually, after reading this part of the book, I think I want to mitigate--though not entirely retract--some of my prior criticisms. I mentioned that the second part of the book seemed somewhat less gratingly insulting and potentially offensive toward the religious than the first; the trend continues in the third. At first, I thought perhaps this was an odd strategy, to concentrate his venom near the beginning of the book and thus turn off potential religious readers, but on further thought perhaps that's not the case after all. Any theists willing to read the book in the first place are likely to expect some offense and stick through it, and if they get through the harshness at the beginning then by the time they've finished the book they may have forgotten it, or at least forgiven it. I still think it would likely have been more productive--from the standpoint of winning religious converts--to forbear from such insulting language altogether, but if he feels the need to put it in perhaps the beginning of the book is the place for it. (The possibility has not escaped me that perhaps its concentration at the beginning of the book is in fact illusory; that it only seems that there's less vituperation later on because I became inured to it. If that's the case, though, then that's likely to be just as true of religious readers, so again the situation is not as bad as it first appeared.)

And as for my criticism about his misunderstanding of the literalist mindset, in his apparent belief that no one really believes that God is a bearded man and that all the Bible stories are literally true--again, there's some validity to that criticism, but it's not as bad as I originally thought. It becomes clear later on that Dawkins is perfectly aware after all that there are people who believe in the literal truth of scripture, and so forth and so on--he just doesn't regard them as part of his target audience. They are, he opines (apparently, though of course he never explicitly says so), too far over the edge and beyond dissuasion; he will address himself to the more sophisticated liberal theists and give the literalists up for lost. I do think he misses the mark here--I think many literalists are more sophisticated and more open-minded than he gives them credit for (perhaps I'm a bit biased here because, after all, I was raised Mormon myself, and the Mormon religion is quite conservative and literalist and has much in common with fundamental Christianity despite the fundamentalists' abomination of it)--but thinking that literalists are all hidebound and unsophisticated is at least a less severe error than not realizing they exist at all.

So. I realize this hasn't been a very meaty post, but like I said it's been way too long, and I just wanted to get something up. Tomorrow I hope to make my final post about The God Delusion--and after that I really need to return it to the library...