How this site got its name

February 18, 2006 | 9 comments

[This post is from my old site, The Reluctant Atheist. Read this post for an explanation of why I changed the name.]

Thanks for all the great suggestions about a title for a new blog. But I happened across a potential title this weekend that I’m really excited about. The title of my post from 2/13 reminded me that I’d seen that phrase somewhere else recently and I went looking through my email archives. Sure enough, I found three short words that explain in greater detail than I could with 50 posts where I am in my life right now. Here’s the story:

A couple weeks ago I was emailing with a friend who I’ve known since college. We’re really more “acquaintances” than “friends” now since our friendship mainly revolved around our mutual penchant for blowing our money on overpriced drinks downtown. One of the other things we had in common was our great distaste for religion, particularly Christians. We’d muster up our most condescending voices when talking about the “religious right” and “those family values people” and shared many laughs at the expense of Christianity. At one point we formed a close bond in our mutual horror and disgust that someone in our circle of friends had joined a church and wasn’t interested in going out with us anymore.

In our recent email exchange I declined brunch plans on the grounds of going to Mass. (I would have loved to see the look on her face when she read that email). I got a quick reply asking who was pressuring me into going, my mom or my husband or what? I typed out a vague reply about just kind of, you know, sort of liking Mass a little bit every now and then. And then I deleted those words and wrote the truth: that I’m no longer an atheist and that the Catholic church is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. She replied with just three words, “Et tu, Jen?”

When I Googled the original Shakespearian phrase (“Et tu, Brute?”) to make sure I understood its meaning I found an explanation that’s so rife with symbolism that I immediately knew that it would be the title of my new site:

Perhaps the most famous three words uttered in literature, “Et tu, Brute?” (Even you, Brutus?) this expression has come down in history to mean the ultimate betrayal by one’s closest friend. This scene, in which the conspirators in the Senate assassinate Caesar, is one of the most dramatic moments on the Shakespearean stage. The audience has just witnessed the arrogance and hubris of a ruler who has sought, within a republic, to become a monarch, comparing himself to the gods. Brutus, a friend of Caesar and yet a man who loves Rome (and freedom) more, has joined the conspirators in the assassination, a betrayal which is captured by the three words above. [from]

I’d explain exactly why this is symbolic but I don’t think Blogger has enough server space. Instead I’ll just point you to my new site. To quote my atheist friend, “Et tu, Jen?”


  1. Pete

    There certainly are people who call themselves atheists and insist there is no god, and these people are certainly religionists, but they are not atheists and do not represent true atheistic thought. In one of the posts from your previous blog, you wrote: “I have yet to encounter (a) religious worldview (other than Christianity) that was a better fit for explaining life as I know it.” True atheists simply lack motive to look for explanations for life in the sense I expect you mean here. To an atheist, religion is an answer without a question. If you’d like to learn more about what atheism is really like — and some of the ways in which people are apt to misuse the terminology surrounding atheism — check out the Wikipedia entry, which is pretty good. “Atheism” is a very squishy word and you could spend an hour reading about the various overlapping uses of it. (Part of the problem is that true atheists don’t fervently defend their turf, so the discussion tends to get framed by fervent religionists with an agenda.)

  2. Jennifer F.

    Thanks for the info, Pete. I’ve mentioned in previous posts though I suppose I should have some sort of site-wide disclaimer that I use “atheist” in a different sense, referring to the type of personality and beliefs you see with people who vociferously describe themselves as atheists (true dictionary-definition atheists usually don’t care enough to talk about it). Most of the commenters over at the Raving Atheist are prime examples of what I’m talking about. For them, it is truly a religion and they’re just as zealous as any Christian.

  3. Pete

    This was my first exposure to the Raving Atheist blog, and right now it seems to have been taken over by something called Unaborted Atheist, and exploring it seems like an unrewarding proposition. In any case, I know there are evangelistic atheists who are just as irrational as evangelistic anything-elses. I’m glad we agree on that. In future, you might want to keep in mind that when you say “atheism is a religion,” you’re tarring perfectly reasonable people with the same brush as evangelists of all stripes. 🙂

  4. SteveG

    The new name is AWESOME!

    The Reluctant Atheist was quite a ride. Can’t wait to see where your new home leads.

  5. Jonathan

    I love the new blog title and have updated it on my links. And I must say it’s been wonderful reading about your journey. Many blessings and keep us updated (as I’m sure you will; thank goodness for blogs!)


  6. Christine


    I was trying to remember how to get to your old site, and I came across this site while looking at the hits on mine. Hooray! I’m adding you to my blogroll today. (That was the reason for looking for the old site.)

    I like your new blog and the name is wonderful.

    God bless you on your journey.

  7. girolamo

    Et habebis fiduciam proposita tibi spe et defossus securus dormies..

    Or, to put it in more contemporary terms:

    Rock on, Jenny babe. Rock on.

  8. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    I'm spending my Saturday night on the couch, sick from the pregnancy hormones, catching up on your arcihives, and loving it.

  9. Tony

    I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web site is truly pleasant.

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates