Friday, May 24, 2013

Atheism Alive & Well in Oklahoma & Prayer or Mind Power

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewing Moore tornado survivor Rebecca Vitsmun, mother of a 19 month-old son :

"Well, you’re blessed. Brian, your husband, is blessed. Anders (your son) is blessed,” Blitzer said. “We’re happy you’re here. You guys did a great job. I guess you gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?"

"I-I-I’m," then she laughed, "I’m actually an atheist."

"Oh, you are? All right," Blitzer said with a chuckle. "But you made the right call."

"Yup – we are here," she said, laughing again. "And, you know, I don’t blame anybody for thanking the Lord."

"Of course not," Blitzer responded.

CNN's Video of the exchange can be found all over the net, I'll not include it yet again here.

I thank Blitzer for ham-fistedly and unintentionally providing a nice reminder, on national TV, that the people of Oklahoma aren't all bible-thumpers, and at least one isn't shy of saying so on camera, and retaining poise and grace in so doing.

Wolf Blitzer did show himself in a less flattering light. He must have held the perception that all Okies conform to stereotype. That's a perception I came across many times as I scanned threads of comment relating to the Moore tornado. I added my own comment in a couple of places, pointing out that we're not all the same, didn't all vote for the two horrendous Oklahoma senators, Inhofe and Coburn, are not all church-goers, or Republicans or even Democrats - writing these words is a socialist and atheist who happens to live in Oklahoma.

On a loosely related matter: while I'm not religious, I have often wondered what is at the heart of the concept of prayer. If the minds of huge masses of people were all to be focused upon a single "wish" or "direction", perhaps the combined power of mass minds could have some kind of effect on reality/events. It's something we do not yet know, something that hasn't ever been adequately tested or investigated, but I wouldn't totally discount the notion. So, if I were ever to find myself in a life-threatening position, along with many others, I might concentrate my mind very pointedly on thoughts and hopes of survival, my own and that of all others, while the religious would be doing what they call "praying". The only difference would be that my own faith would be in some unknown physical or mental power that might possibly reside within ourselves, while they would be calling on action by an overall deity.


Anonymous said...

You will be relieved, I'm sure, to know that: "Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists", but only if you're a good atheist.


I prefer Pope Francis limit his pseudo-omnipotence to his devotees.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ He's almost as good at PR as our President!

Redemption is being heavily discounted get yours now - limited period only!

LB said...

Hi Twilight - I watched that exchange on TV and thought they both handled it very gracefully. I was relieved it didn't seem to take away from their connection or the inclusive intention behind the responses on both sides. I didn't get the feeling anyone was offended.

I volunteer in an environment with people who have *very* different beliefs than I do and where people are far more likely to use the word Earth in the same way that I might use the word Lord. I'm outnumbered but that's ok.:) I figure they have just as much right to their beliefs (or non-beliefs) as I do mine and to speak spontaneously and freely about them.

My father and his folks were from Oklahoma and none of them were at all religious, nor were they 'believers', far as I can tell. Though I never tried to convert him (I never try to convert *anyone*), at one point when I was older, my dad tried to discourage my own growing faith, thinking it would threaten our relationship - which it didn't. I understood his feelings but don't think he understood how *inclusive* my faith was or the role he played in shaping it. My dad placed a high value on intelligence and critical thinking, yet he was also very progressive and concerned about social justice, so we learned by example to value principle over dogma.

LB said...

Thought it worth adding how I'm more spiritual than religious. My husband and I watched the movie "Goya's Ghost" last night, about the Spanish Inquisition. Parts of the movie made me physically ill and I couldn't help but wonder (as I often wonder) how it is religious followers throughout history have so corrupted the teachings of Jesus.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I admire your attitude, and that of your father too - and hope, for the lady's sake who spoke with Wolf Blitzer, that there are many of similar mind to yours in Moore. I'd hate to read that she'd been victimised for her words.

I went in the other direction to you, LB - began as a churchgoer (Church of England), Sunday School teacher, Church Youth Club secretary.....and became disillusioned, once by our vicar's attitude, then later, gradually by a variety of events.
I still revere the teachings of Jesus Christ, but see him as being a teacher only - of similar ilk to MLK.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes - it all went terribly wrong somewhere along the way.
Spanish Inquisition being just one example of what can happen to an originally beautiful set of teachings when humans bent on power and control get their hands upon them.

LB said...

Actually, as a kid I rebelled against church too. My parents (most likely thanks to my mother's influence) forced me to attend services and I ran away in protest over their hypocrisy. It's been the story of my life ever since.

What I didn't mention in my comment is how shocked I was to discover during genealogy research how my dad came from a long line of Baptist preachers! My dad was somewhat knowledgeable about family history going back three or four generations, yet he left that one detail out. Seems like my paternal grandfather and possibly his father rejected that way of life, probably for reasons similar to yours and that of many others.

I share your hope that the young mother who admitted publicly to being an atheist doesn't suffer any prejudice because of it. You never know what will set people off.

Twilight said...

LB ~ That's interesting. Our genes must carry messages which, even after being suppressed for a generation or two make themselves felt again, in some way or other, eventually.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there IS a scientific study where group meditation resulted in a substantial and statistically significant decrease in crime:

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Thanks for the link - I'm glad to know that idea has been considered and tested. It doesn't seem too much of a stretch to me to think that mind power and such an application of it could be there - just waiting for realisation.