Resolution

I am a private person. You might say guarded. Sure, I can be chatty and friendly when needed, but I avoid discussing politics or religion with people who I fear would disagree with me because it just isn’t polite. My passions are hidden from public view, yet they run deep. I suppose this is because my feelings are easily bruised. Truth be told, I’m rather average and my life is pretty unremarkable. Some people have wondered if I am the Anne Crumpacker who lives in Portland, Oregon and makes bamboo art. No. She seems interesting. Sadly, that is not me.

But I’ve had an amazing few months thanks to my daughter Mason’s chance encounter with Christopher Hitchens at the Texas Freethought Convention.

Since October, I have been riding on the backs of giants. Turns out that Jerry Coyne is a New York Times bestselling author and not just some grad student with a blog as I initially thought. He wrote today on Why Evolution is True that Mason Crumpacker and the Christopher Hitchens Reading List was his favorite post of 2011. It is both thrilling and humbling. But that’s not all, in November the actress Martha Plimpton, an icon of my generation, tweeted, “Mason Crumpacker is my hero” to 35,000 followers. Just last week Michael Shermer tweeted my new word “hitchling” to 22,000 skeptical inquirers.

Yet, I also have my detractors. I’ve been called alternately a “flaming atheist” and a “religious accommodationist.” I’m called out as “an attention whore” on the Daily Hitchens.  However, my all time favorite critic is a hapless English YouTuber broadcasting from his flat. This poor fellow is passionate about his religion, but can’t seem to find an audience for his ideas unless he attacks Mason and me, and then all hell breaks loose. He’s accused me of brainwashing my daughter and grooming other people’s children for my “militant atheist cause.”  In his mind the launch of SocraticMama is a “defining moment in American intellectual history. “ Well, monkeys, he must be feeling lonely because two days ago he released another video on the “scandal” of the Christopher Hitchens reading list. Now, he’s a straw man and I’m not a mean person, but he does ask a question that caught my attention. “What kind of mother takes her eight year old daughter to a highbrow intellectual meeting by Christopher Hitchens?”  Perhaps I may be interesting after all…

I am not an ivory tower intellectual, nor am I an avant-garde personage. I’m just a regular mom. But, the hand-that-rocks-the-cradle-rules-the-world and that makes me dangerous.

So, I’ve been thinking… If I have anything useful to contribute to the “atheist cause” it may, indeed, be my sheer averageness.

If atheism is to gain a larger foothold in America it must appeal to people like me. I pay my taxes, I work hard, I care about my country’s future, and I am sick and tired of the religious right attacking our personal freedoms. When I was little, going to church was what nice people did every Sunday. I was raised a Christian because my parents weren’t communists. It was at church, my parents believed, I would learn about morality and civic duty.  But times have changed and I have been dragged out of the Kingdom of God kicking a screaming against my will by logic and compassion. I am proof that you can, sometimes, be reasoned out of what you weren’t reasoned into.

Sam Harris convinced me that after 9/11 I could no longer be complacent. Either I believed or I didn’t. There was no room for spiritual metaphor. To be politely Christian was to give respectability to superstition and fanaticism.  I can no longer tolerate the homophobia of Rick Perry, the self-righteousness of the American Family Association, or the scientific sabotage of the Discovery Institute, and I refuse to sit idly by while they dissimulate the truth and trample the Constitution.

Today Jerry Coyne said, “Our greatest weapon against religion, and especially against theologians, is this question:  What evidence do you have for your assertions?  Theology will wither, and with it religion, if we just keep asking that question.”

According to Coyne, Susan Jacoby in the Washington Post says the two important tasks for atheists now are:

  • “If secularists are to succeed in making any inroads on the default position of religion, they must reclaim the original definition of religious liberty, as exemplified by those who passed Virginia’s 1786 law.”  I’ve put that law below, and we should all read it for the New Year.
  • Get passionate like Hitchens did!

This is the kind of mother who takes her child to meet Christopher Hitchens- and I'm proud of it!

After a bit of New Year’s Day “soul searching” I am ready to get passionate! I am going to Occupy Reason!

My resolution for 2012 is to be passionate and genuine about my opinions. This is really going to be a challenge because I don’t even like starting a sentence with “I,” but that has to change. If reason is going to take its rightful place in public discourse then policy makers need to hear from more “average atheists” like me (and you).  I suspect that the number of people like us is really very high, but many may be reluctant to speak out. So I’m issuing a challenge. If you have a friend whom you suspect is a “fence-sitting skeptic” then forward them this post. We need to show that there are many, many, really average people who just don’t believe anymore.

I’m about as different from Christopher Hitchens as you can get. He was outspoken, brash, witty, and encyclopedic in knowledge. I’m not. At least not yet. My personal mantra for 2012 is going to be from Hitchens at his best:

“My own opinion is enough for me and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get on line, and kiss my ass.”

I politely suggest you do the same.

About Anne Crumpacker

I like to read. I also like science, art and drama. I like really big numbers, but I don’t understand them. I like kids and being silly, but sometimes I feel serious and that’s when I like thinking BIG THOUGHTS. You can visit me @ SocraticMama.com
This entry was posted in Action. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Resolution

  1. Ann Marie Meyer via Facebook says:

    I haven’t been able to register on your blog as I don’t have access to my computer until it’s fixed, but I had to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading every bit of Resolution. Well written, very deep and truly spoken from the heart. :-)

  2. Michael Fisher says:

    I read what you read today at Coyne’s site:

    “Our greatest weapon against religion, and especially against theologians, is this question: What evidence do you have for your assertions? Theology will wither, and with it religion, if we just keep asking that question”

    but I don’t think it’s true

    In 1,000 years when we are all over this solar system, when our intelligent, self-aware robot biomachine wombs are planting the seed of humankind around other stars…. we will still have religion. I suspect that the tendency to revert to the supernatural guider as an explanation for the yet unexplained is a built-in evolutionary survival mechanism that can only be countered by education in an open, questioning, free society. There is absolutely no guarantee that future human civilisations will be any such thing. I fear that democracy is a fluke & it is THAT which may wither.

    The same Coyne piece mentions passion. That is the first weapon that we must display to the theologian self-liars, they have no respect for Dawkins-style logicality [& neither do I] ~ I want fire & it is fire that will carry the day, but only the day you understand, because these parasites will be biting on us for ever.

    An excellent article Anne & I will support you best I can.

    Lovely picture ~ though the Google crawler isn’t going to remember “highres_9461409.jpeg” !!!

  3. DocAtheist says:

    YES!!!!!
    Also, catch Greta Christina’s lecture at Skepticon 4 called, “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUI_ML1qkQE). Trust me: You’ll actually enjoy it.
    Also, you’ll find mentally clarified and verbalized reasons for the anger and how anger empowers revolutions.

  4. Paul Dail says:

    Just signed up to you website. And I get your E-Mails, from your site. I’m loving all you have to say. What a “wonderful Mom”, you are. As you can tell, my Avatar is Green with envy. Have a Happy New Year. Look forward to your next post.

  5. Well said! I don’t often share atheist articles since I tend not to get confrontational responses, but I’m going for it anyway since what you have expressed is so similar to how things are for me as well.

  6. Pamela Vasquez says:

    On January 1st of 2011, I had a conflict with people I thought were friends. It is a long story but let me say that religion and my lack of it was compeletly behind our friendship falling apart. I went through massive soul searching after and came out of it stronger and more determined to be ME and stand up for reason and logic simply because it is reasonable and logical and because I have children of my own who I hope will grow up thinking and asking endless questions throughout their lifetimes. I have never been the confrontational type and for years did the respectful thing …nodding and smiling when the “God bless yous” the “God love yous” were brought up. No more! You go girl! You should be darned proud of yourself and what a fantastic catalyst to have ….an encounter with Christopher Hitchens..and not just an encounter for you but more importantly for your daughter…this young mind who is fortunate enough to have an open-minded mother who connected her with one of the great men of this century. Kuddos regular mom…you really are not so regular. I applaud you and look forward to following your blog. Here’s to an amazing year to come. Cheers!

  7. Shane says:

    My favorite post from you so far…

  8. Justin says:

    The irony of Jason Burns accusing anyone of brainwashing is beginning to seem less amusing. His latest front against you (and me, incidentally) seems less innocuous and more malicious and mean-spirited – though in all fairness, I haven’t been very kind to him. But that (I like to think) was reactionary, and to once more attack you and your daughter is to descend into sophomoric jackassery. His video’s one saving grace is that it’s torturously boring.
    Anyway, this is a wonderful post. I am very pleased to know you, as well, Anne. I suppose Jason did me a favor in that regard.

  9. matt says:

    So glad I found this site. What I would have given for a parent like you and what I would give to be a parent like you. Well I’m gonna try. May ask for some tips from time to time.

  10. Elaine says:

    I’m standing up aplauding you. Thank you Anne. After a Festive season of family confrontation and coming to terms with my own “coming out” I can very much identify. Also having large cultural and intellectual gaps in my Apartheid education I often feel inferior to all the great vocal people out there. But I’ve also made a choice to show myself, so to speak, and share my average journey as much as I can. So thank you

  11. Melissa says:

    “What kind of mother takes her eight year old daughter to a highbrow intellectual meeting by Christopher Hitchens?”

    What kind of mother? I’ll tell you what kind of mother. The kind that sees the potential in her daughter and wants it developed to its absolute fullest. The kind of mother who doesn’t want her daughter’s sum experiences at a young age to be attendance at a Justin Bieber concert. The kind of mother who empowers her daughter to think for herself. The kind of mother who clearly has helped to cultivate a genuine love for knowledge in her EIGHT YEAR OLD daughter. You show me any other 8 year old (except mine when she gets there) that WANTS to go to a “highbrow” (what a stupid word) intellectual affair and I’ll show you ANOTHER kid with an awesome future. Any children that the dullard who said that would dare to spawn would not be so lucky. The comment clearly shows his disdain for knowledge. Anyone that embraces that idea isn’t worth the time it takes to listen.

    You keep being “ordinary” and my 5 year old and I will keep reading.

  12. Critical Thinker says:

    Great post, Anne! And thank you for your many inspirations throughout last year.

    I came to know SoctraticMama blog from its beginning through Jerry Coyne’s website (http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/) and I am grateful for your courage for supporting secular parents like myself through daily inspirations and resources. I enjoy very much the ones I stumble upon (such as: http://comfortzoneunlimited.wordpress.com/ another great blog!).

    I share with you a Symphony of Science link, that I sing it since yesterday, not on a great note though, I must add, nevertheless, I especially love the ending.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akek6cFRZfY

  13. Justin Zimmer says:

    BRAVO! This post reads like an awesome introduction to a book (hint hint). I do recommend though that you get an Amazon Associate account so that you can get some commission off of your links to books like WEIT. I predict that you’ll have a large readership and there’s no reason you can’t have your content pay for your domain registration fees (or even a college fund for Mason :) )

    I’ll be plastering this all over social media!

  14. Mariana Precedo says:

    This was a great post, Anne. You go on writing and in a couple of years you will have a book almost ready to publish. I don’t think I have seen much material about raising free thinking children.
    Where I live, there are different problems regarding religion (one day I’ll post something about that), and I still find it amazing that “coming out” should be an issue for many of you. But I can’t help being interested because whatever happens in your country will eventually affect the rest of the world, and also because I have two American nephews, who are just a bit older than Mason.
    I missed yesterday’s chat, I hope to meet you next time.

    • Thank you, Mariana! I am so glad “the man with the microphone” let Mason ask her question. It seems nothing but good will come of it! We really enjoyed meeting you both!

      I wish I was in sunny Argentina now with y’all.

  15. James Cornah says:

    A first rate post for the New Year!

    I came to your site after reading about it in a tweet from Stephen Fry. Your style is different to his, but I enjoyed this every bit as much as I do the essays he writes. I think you are tapping into a rich and deep vein of atheists who DO regard themselves as average, and who often silently wonder why anyone else should listen to their views.

    I can only guess at how much effort it has taken, and will continue to take, to set up this site and keep it going, but boy I’m glad you did.

    James

    • James, I had no idea that Stephen Fry ever mentioned us. That is amazing!

      Thank you for your support. We are working on the site look and speed. I hope you see positive changes soon.

      I agree wholeheartedly that there are many, many more of us. We have just be quelled silent for too long.

  16. Drcrumpackerme.com says:

    What a fantastic journey! I know how much it takes for you to come out and put your name and face out there (what a pretty one, too). I’m very moved. Now’s the time for you to take it “onward to the edge.”

  17. I agree with all you said above, Socratic Mama!

  18. Ayaan Jama via Facebook says:

    Wow Anne! love the page. Just what I needed. Thank you. You are amazing.

  19. Ian says:

    Great post Anne.

    Although I don’t go seeking confrontation I have to admit to enjoying the JW’s knocking at the door. I usually know when they’re here when my wife calls out that there is someone to see me!!!!

    They’re such nice people and I do miss them when they make their excuses and leave, usually after about an hour, and especially when it’s raining. I’ve evne offered to loan them WEIT and Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin but to no avail. Such a shame, people do like to wallow in their own ignorance.

  20. Chris says:

    Great post. I can’t think why someone who visited the Daily Hitchens would call you an attention whore. Clearly, they have a long way to go before they are as gracious, decent and well-mannered as the man whose words they presumably visited the site to read!

Leave a Reply