7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 121)

March 25, 2011 | 135 comments

— 1 —

As I recover from a painful sunburn I got last week, I find it hard to imagine that there are places in the northern hemisphere where it’s still cold. Hasn’t everyone stored their winter jackets, filled their drawers with shorts and t-shirts, and started blasting their air conditioners, not to be turned off again until after Thanksgiving? Last week I was fascinated by a comment from UK blogger Musings on Motherhood and Ministry, who said she wonders what it must be like to sit on a southern American porch in the sunshine in March. It was so interesting to me to imagine that where I live is exotic to someone else — just like where a lot of you all live is exotic to me. I’ve often daydreamed about what it would be like to live in Wyoming or Idaho or Ohio, or on an island, or in the mountains, or in somewhere where there are buildings that are hundreds of years old. That all seems so unfamiliar and interesting to me, yet for a lot of people it’s just home.

— 2 —

Atheist PZ Myers and his commenters had some strong words for me last week. As soon as I saw the post, I was overcome by this feeling that I MUST RESPOND, that it would violate some sort of cosmic law of blogging if I didn’t immediately open up a draft of a new post and start typing. And so I did, but I quickly realized that I didn’t have anything productive to say so I deleted it. Sure, I disagreed with what those folks were saying about me and my points, but I didn’t get the feeling that Professor Myers wrote his critique in the spirit of opening a dialogue to learn more about my stance on Catholic-atheist relations, and didn’t see how a new post from me would contribute anything to the world. But…I dunno…maybe I should have taken the opportunity to clarify my position. What would you have done? Would you have responded?

— 3 —

Our friend Devin Rose wrote a fantastic article about his perspective on adoption as a father. It’s so inspiring. After writing candidly about the miscarriages and fertility problems and he and his wife experienced, he says about his first thoughts on the option of adopting a child:

I wasn’t excited about paying that much money [for international adoption], especially knowing that there were children in our own town who needed homes. But the downside of adopting through the foster-care system was a big one: all of the children in the system have been removed from their parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Why would I want to take on someone else’s problem? After all, I didn’t know anything about being a father, and these children might have serious behavior problems that I wouldn’t know how to handle.

The Roses are now parents of four children under age four, three of them who came to them from adoption through the foster care system. Read the rest of Devin’s touching and inspiring story here.

— 4 —

On a related note, Kidsave is looking for host families for this summer. This is an amazing organization. Its Summer Miracles program takes older orphaned children from Colombia and other countries (where there is effectively a 0% chance of them finding homes) and brings them to the U.S. for a summer vacation and, hopefully, a chance to get adopted.

As some of you may recall, we hosted a Kidsave child in the summer of 2009 — you can read all my posts about it here. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done. We’re still in touch with “Rita, ” and things are looking very good for her prospects of finding a forever family (I’ll give more updates when things are final). Click here to find out more about the program, and click here to see pictures of some of previous years’ Kidsave kids (our own “Rita, ” whose real name is Ana, is in the picture toward the bottom right that says “Ana and Daniela hold a new little friend” — and that’s our baby the other girl is holding). If you live in a participating city, I highly recommend considering hosting a child for the summer!

— 5 —

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with “the Mom” of Shoved to Them. We had pizza at a park with our combined ten kids, which is where I got the aforementioned sunburn. She is just as fun and interesting as she seems on her blog — which you should check out if you’re not familiar with. She recently wrote a powerful post about the profound impact that being diagnosed with ADHD had on her life; I had tears in my eyes after reading her reflection about all that you have to leave behind when you move; and I can always appreciate a good rant about the dogs-as-people phenomenon. Definitely a great blog to add to your reading list.

— 6 —

When I was out in the Peoria, IL area for the Behold Conference, my husband and I noticed that there was something different about the neighborhoods out there, aside from slightly different architecture of the houses. We couldn’t put our fingers on what it was, then finally it clicked: many of the houses didn’t have fences. It made us realize that the majority of neighborhoods here in central Texas are completely fenced off. It was strange to see people’s backyard furnishings just sitting outside in one big field that went behind a long row of houses. As Texans, we wondered how you know when to start shooting if there’s no clarity on where your own property begins!

I still haven’t figured out what I think is responsible for the cultural difference: Is it a cold vs. hot weather thing? Does it have to do with the heritage of the settlers of our different parts of the country? Is it just Texans living up to our reputations for being territorial isolationists? What do you think?

— 7 —

I can’t believe that the Faith & Family conference is already next weekend! I guess I will have to leave out a few long sleeved clothes for the Boston weather. Next week I’ll be super busy (in a fun way) getting everything ready to go. Then, with the baby arriving in June, this will probably be my last out of state trip for quite a while. Should be fun!


Below is a linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.


  1. caitie rose

    I wish I was a mom so that I’d have an excuse to go to the conference! LOL Have a GREAT time!

  2. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    As an atheist, I’m embarrassed by plenty of the conduct at Pharyngula, and, although I disagreed with parts of your assessment of A Week (see here: http://www.unequally-yoked.com/2011/03/proud-to-be-atheist.html), I was very disappointed by the response of Myers and his commenters. It’s hard to know how to best handle badly behaved atheists, especially when they are prominent and influential. I hope you and anyone else who was frustrated by this response or some of the anger of New Atheists checks out and leaves feedback on the post attached to this comment. A lack of crosstalk makes it hard to improve civility!

    • Sarah

      Leah, I read through some of those comments on Pharyngula, and I sincerely appreciated how kind and reasonable yours were. They stood head-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of thoughtfulness and courtesy. Many thanks; you have helped maintain my belief that reasonable, kind, moral atheists exist.

      Jen, thank you for your post. It was thoughtful, respectful, and well-written. No one deserves the reception you’ve gotten from this. (Wasn’t the point of the religious freedom movement that you have to respect a person no matter how stupid you think his or her beliefs are?) Much of the world treated Christ with such derision; He basically promised we would encounter such, too. God be with you.

      • Elizabeth

        Yes, Leah is not only very brave and reasonable to really invest herself in this world, but she is very fair to those who disagree with her!

        Jen, I think you reacted as well as you could have. They didn’t comment with any kind of vulnerability. They probably assume you could answer, but that doesn’t mean they had any intention of actually listening to what you had to say.

    • Stephanie

      As I read a few paragraphs of PZ’s blog post, I actually thought, man, Leah is so much better at this than that guy.

  3. Barbara

    Hi Jen.

    I’ve noticed you seem to be getting a lot of negative feedback on your posts on the Register. There are a lot of comments which are just unfair and nasty. I am sorry for that. I just wanted to say I love reading your blog. It’s always very inspiring to me and I can relate to a lot of it. I’m a convert myself, actually almost the same age as you are. I was received into the Church only three years ago while in Grad school (still am in grad school but had to take a year off when my daughter was born). I think you have a very profound way of looking at things and I admire your ability to be compassionate to Atheists and pro-choice people especially. Even though I myself was pro-choice at one time and passionately so, I tend to feel like an ex-smoker convert, angry and repulsed by the ideologies and beliefs I used to hold.

  4. Leila

    You know me, I think I would have jumped on a post responding to Mr. P.Z. However, I have been known to do what you did as well….think better of it when I realized that the post will serve no purpose! So, I am thinking you did the right thing. I might have still written it, in some form, because I usually write my blog for the lurkers. If I ever have the honor of being attacked by the man, I guess I will find out what I would actually do….

    So happy about Rita! Can’t wait to hear more!

    Oh, and I was freaked out when I went to school in Boston, and all the backyards ran together! Huh? That was 25 years ago and I still remember it!

  5. Kim D.

    YES, me too regarding the fences! As a Texan transplanted to Wisconsin, the lack of fences has been one of the biggest differences I’ve noticed. Oh, and, uh, the winter. Yes it certainly is still cold in some places! Winter coats all around, at our place this week!

    • Nancy

      I live in Wisconsin too, and the only reasons people have fences in our city is if you have dogs (and then many still opt for “invisible” electric fences); if you have a pool and your city requires a fence; or if you live on a busy street with small children.

      Fences are seen as kind of unfriendly in our area — there is a perception that you want to stay separated from your neighbors. This is even true in areas of new construction or larger, more expensive homes. Fascinating! I never realized it was a kind of cutural thing.

  6. Catherine

    I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. It is -21 tonight! On March 24th!

  7. the cottage child

    Thank you for sharing about Kidsave – Colombia is near and dear to my heart, I’m so glad to know about this effort! Happy weekend!

  8. Cathleen


    re: that other blog and your response/non-response

    You are exceptionally blessed today by their response. Remember what the Beatitudes say. Also: remember what Blessed Mother Teresa says about the power of humility:

    1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.

    2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.

    3. Avoid curiosity.

    4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.

    5. Accept small irritations with good humor.

    6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.

    7. Accept censures even if unmerited.

    8. Give in to the will of others.

    9. Accept insults and injuries.

    10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.

    11. Accept injuries and insults.

    12. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.

    13. Do not seek to be admired and loved.

    14. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.

    15. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.

    16. Always choose the more difficult task

    I think that there’s a caveat to number 1 on this list – when we are furthering the Kingdom of God by speaking of the amazing ways the Lord moves in our lives (which is the very point of Conversion Diary). Please don’t let this person discourage you. Of COURSE you will have to dodge bullets from that corner of the world now. God Bless the person who wrote that post. And may God continue to bless YOU!!!!

  9. Tracy

    Firstly Cathleen, great comment and good advice for us all. Let our actions speak louder than our words.

    Jennifer, I couldn’t believe those comments, the article is ROT as are the comments. I can imagine it is hard not to take it to heart even a little. In terms of atheists I have a simple approach – well if I am wrong at the end of my life what have I lost? If you are wrong then you have an eternity in hell. It is probably not the best of responses, but I am sick of these people accusing people who have faith in God as irrational. Like your first point they are missing something in their lives, they are just not honest enough to admit to themselves.

  10. Lisa

    Yes, there is a definite link between climate and culture. You can read about it in Sarah Lanier’s book Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot- and Cold-Climate Cultures.
    The Texan fence example, though, doesn’t seem to fit the pattern. Sarah describes hot climate cultures as more open and relationship dependent. I grew up in Canada and we tend to have fences too 🙂

  11. Liesl

    I love the cold – I get mad when it spends too much time about 70 before May – and so I suppose I find it weird when people have to turn on the AC in March! Don’t sell Ohio short though – weather there is sporadic in the spring – high 70s one week and low 40s the next!

  12. Laura

    Coming from the north, too, I can assure you that in many neighborhoods the territorial isolationist mentality exists! It is so refreshing when you find a group of neighbors who haven’t fenced themselves in! The last neighborhood we lived in didn’t have many fences, but then it really didn’t matter because no one was ever outside anyhow! We were the “freak” family – we were actually seen outside our house on a regular basis 🙂 God bless.

  13. Christie

    Okay, now I have tears in my eyes! If the longing for more children wasn’t enough motivation, here are two reminders on your site that my family is not complete. I wrote my post before reading yours–we’ve been feeling the urge to foster and adopt more children very keenly lately. God is nudging!

  14. Allie

    As a Wisconsinite, I had the opportunity to be in Dallas two weeks ago with your beautiful 70 degree weather and Blue Bell ice cream, and I never wanted to leave (but I did)! Earlier this week, Wisconsin had nice, spring-y weather, so – being the born-and-raised Southerner I am – I did shelve my winter coat, knee-high wool socks, etc. Then we were in the “feels like 10” range yesterday, and I took them all back out. -_- One day I’ll learn that it’s never safe to shelve winter wear here until the second week of May!

  15. Theresa in Alberta

    UM, I think that Atheist PZ Myers will need a St Paul type of conversion, so I will just pray for him!

  16. Missus Wookie

    Wookie couldn’t understand the lack of fences when we first visited the US, here in the UK land is so scarce it is fenced in. Spring is here so we’ve got 50s – sunshine but thankfully no burns.

  17. That Married Couple

    The fences are definitely a Texas thing – it’s something my husband and I always commented on while living there!

  18. Pam

    Jennifer, one of my “takes” this week is on your Daylight Saving Time article. I always think it’s the Arizonan in me rebelling against my current DST-observing locale… until I hear people who have always lived with DST ranting on it too! 🙂

    On the fenceless backyard phenomenon: when we moved to Michigan, I had the same thought. I’ve lived in AZ, CA, and CO, where people fence their backyards. Here, many suburbs are like the one you saw in Peoria. It’s a weird thing to me, too!

  19. Diane

    I’m in Minnesota, and my kids had a snow day on Wednesday due to a major winter storm. 😛

    In the neighborhood where I grew up (small-town Minnesota)you were considered rude and a bad neighbor if you put up a fence. It meant you didn’t like your neighbors, basically, and wanted to keep them away. Only one family in my neighborhood had a fence, and they were originally from someplace south–maybe Texas?

    Now I live in rural Minnesota with acres of land between me and the nearest neighbor, so fences aren’t really an issue.

  20. Marit

    Please don’t bother responding to PZ Meyers post. It doesn’t deserve it.

  21. Kaitlyn

    Jennifer, it was 24 degrees outside when I started my car for work. It’s not exotic to live in the near-Arctic (I know, I’m exaggerating– but I’m cold, so it’s excusable) it’s just cold. 🙂

  22. Kristen @ St Monica's Brdige

    Jen, I think your response of “no response” was apropos to the situation. If there is nothing more productive to say, the conversation should stop for now and resume when there can be productivity again. I had to stop reading before the comments because I was crying. I’m sorry but how any human being, Catholic, atheist, Buddhist what have you can say those things about another is beyond me. If we all have nothing else in common it’s that we are human and flawed. Why can’t we just be civil about it?

  23. Tina

    I read the article and some of the comments. What got me was the mockery of the “God shaped hole” like you had come up with it. Have they never heard of Pascal?

    Their attitude angered me and then saddened me.

  24. Janet

    Don’t bother justifying your views about God to the atheists on that site. I don’t think that the majority of those commenters want discussion and/or information. Your silence on the matter speaks far louder than any words could.

    If someone is just itchin’ for a fight about this topic and not seeking honest discussion, I like to tell them that we will ALL find out if there is or is not a God soon enough. Some of us will have our beliefs confirmed and others will realize they were wrong. But one thing for sure is we will ALL be surprised!

  25. Kelly

    Hi Jen–I agree wholeheartedly with Cathleen, and with all due respect to Leah–I don’t know many athiests personally, or if I do, I don’t know they are athiests (lol) however! The online conversations I either join or read are characterized by nastiness, crude speech, attacks and self serving sarcasm. That about sums up the whole article and comments.
    To reply would give them too much credence. I agree with your assessment about praying for them.
    I also think that you are being attacked because your message poses a threat, and whatever they call you only uncovers their insecurity. Protest too much, much?

  26. Erika Evans

    I have a different take on the fences thing: I have small children, and while I’d love to let them roam the neighborhood freely like we did when we were kids, the bozos driving 30 MPH down my street make that unrealistic. Hence, we have a lovely fenced back yard where I can kick the kids outside while I work in the kitchen and they can safely get into all the mischief and dirt they want!

    Now why there are pockets of no-fence people in other parts of the country (we’re in Texas too) who don’t follow the same logic is a mystery–maybe they have a traditional sense that it’s rude, and no one wants to be the first one to put up a fence….and in the North it’s too cold to send the kids outside for half the year anyway, so why bother…?

  27. Michelle

    You have to understand that if you’re going to write a post about talking to atheists, you can’t just shut out the atheists’ response if the point is truly to be able to converse comfortably with them. The comments on PZ’s post were an honest reaction to what you wrote – instead of being offended and deciding not to respond, it might be better if you tried to understand why so many atheists found what you wrote offensive/ridiculous. I don’t mean this to be nasty as well, since I’m far from a confrontational person, and I applaud you for trying to offer advice on bridging the gap between Catholics and atheists. But if you get such a strong response, then it should become clear that your advice isn’t too practical, no matter how well-intentioned. In the spirit of everyone getting to understand each other better, I’d suggest that you reexamine what you wrote – if an atheist wrote an article about understanding Catholics that you disagreed with, I’m sure you would feel that your negative response should mean more than the affirmative responses of other atheists.

    • Matt

      The problem is, Michelle, that this isn’t just any old atheist willing to engage in dialogue. P.Z. Meyers is well-established as a virulently anti-Catholic atheist who does his best to offend and injure those he considers unworthy of his respect; indeed, he’s best known for perpetrating a deliberate and public sacrilege designed primarily to hurt Catholics. *That’s* why he would have responded strongly to Jen, regardless of any flaws, real or perceived, in her article.

    • Denise

      I concur with Matt – although your point of view is often appropriate, Michelle. When presented with some truth that one doesn’t want to hear, one of humanity’s most common responses is to vilify and/or drown out the message and the messenger.

      This is especially a likely response with someone like Meyers (and apparently most of his followers), where there is so much pride involved in his reputation. So the chances of their rejection being due to a lack of practicality in Jen’s article are virtually nil: they’ve not the ability (and don’t even want the ability, I think) to approach it in an unbiased and open-minded enough manner to actually judge its merits. In fact, instead of their reaction showing some impracticality in Jen’s article, I’d counter that perhaps shows A LOT of practicality.

      Now a response by someone like Leah, on the other hand, I think does deserve the consideration and reflection that you suggest.

    • Michelle

      I do realize that PZ Myers is a pretty outspoken atheist (I read all his posts!). Yes, he could have been a bit more accommodating, but that isn’t his style – he points out flaws where he sees them, and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. I have never read a single post, though, where he has attacked someone for simply being Catholic. His attacks are against ideas – had Jen posted a truly accurate post, I’m sure he (or at least one of the other similar atheist bloggers) would have commended it.

      • Josephene Kealey

        I appreciate your attempts at providing an even-handed approach to this event, Michelle, but surely one cannot excuse the tone just because you and the blogger think Jen was inaccurate. I don’t know Jennifer to be someone to shy away from dialogue. Sure, he attacked her ideas, but ideas are attached to people. There is a world of difference between “what a stupid thing to say” and “I disagree strongly.” The difference isn’t between sugar-coating and being respectful and engaging.

        It might be fun and perhaps cathartic for a like-minded group to gang-up against someone and ridicule her with tongue-in-cheek mockery — but it’s not productive, charitable, or helpful to anyone.

    • Annie

      I absolutely agree with Michelle. I have read both blogs with interest for some time, and while PZ Myers is renowned and public atheist, Jen should probably reconsider her comments. As Jen is a “former atheist” (I have some thoughts on this, but they would perhaps be more appropriate in that post), and she intends to bridge some sort of gap between the Catholic and atheist communities, her effectiveness can only be measured by how the atheist community perceives her. I am an atheist, and I do not think particularly highly of Jen’s conclusions about atheism, and they are frankly rather condescending at best.

      So really, Michelle’s point that Jen might want to reconsider is a valid one. I in no way hold any ill will for Jen, and enjoy this blog. However, there is absolutely value in reexamining her words about atheists.

      Also, to the commenters here: Pascal’s Wager? Really? Haven’t we all knocked that one time countless times?

      • Josephene Kealey

        ” As Jen is a “former atheist” (I have some thoughts on this, but they would perhaps be more appropriate in that post), and she intends to bridge some sort of gap between the Catholic and atheist communities, her effectiveness can only be measured by how the atheist community perceives her.”

        No, this is wrong. Jennifer’s post does not try to bridge a gap between Catholics and atheists. She is providing advice to Catholics on speaking to atheists (for the ultimate purpose of conversion). There is no gap to be bridged. Rather, she is providing a possible bridge to built for the atheist walk over and come on over!

        And how Myers’ readers commented is not related to what Jennifer was writing about: it was for the Catholic who knows an atheist and would like to speak to him or her about faith in Jesus. Her approach is suitable only for one-to-one contact.

        How Myers’ post and his commentators responded to Jennifer’s post does not require Jennifer to respond. In fact, they implicitly reject her response.

        Why this patronizing attitude towards the atheists? Why “you should do a better job because we didn’t like what you said”? Why ask Jen to do a better job when the atheists at Myers’ have rejected her? Do you *want* to be persuaded?!? (Which is cool…).

        • Annie

          As you put it, Jen is helping Catholics understand how to better talk to atheists with the intent of conversion. Clearly, it is not the correct tactic, as no atheists seem endeared here. That’s all I’m saying.

  28. Thag Jones

    I only read the first few comments on that atheist article and wow, mean-spirited, bile-filled sarcasm seems to be all they have. It’s sad really; they think they’re being so clever but they are blind. I think you were right to ignore it. People who can only resort to tearing others apart with sarcasm in that way aren’t worth having a faux-debate with. It seems to be their aim to drag you down into their misery, which of course they’ll answer with the defensive claim “lol, we’re happy! We love making fun of you!”

    Example of their lack of imagination and refinement of argument:

    Posted by: SallyStrange Author Profile Page | March 18, 2011 11:20 AM

    Premise: I have a God-shaped hole in my heart.

    Observation: There are no holes in my heart. My heart is functioning properly. I even went on a run yesterday.

    Conclusion: the hole in my heart is indeed God-shaped; it is non-existent.

    Oh, how hilarious. There’s some great atheist logic and rationality for you. It really is a failure of the imagination, isn’t it? It’s like trying to explain poetry to a cat.

  29. Karen Edmisten

    “but I didn’t get the feeling that Professor Myers wrote his critique in the spirit of opening a dialogue to learn more about my stance on Catholic-atheist relations”

    Hmmm. Yes, I agree with that. Just took a quick look — and I have to say that one of the most disheartening things to me is the idea that someone like my daughter, who is extremely bright and fascinated by biology, would be written off in his classroom as a resident of Crazy Town simply because she is Catholic. That’s not the spirit of inquiry and academic freedom that I hope for my kids to find in the college of their choice. I don’t care if my kids are taught by an atheist, a Buddhist, a Baptist or a Wiccan as long as their teacher’s personal belief system doesn’t get in the way of his/her teaching. It’s hard to believe Myers’ prejudice wouldn’t come through in class. That’s a shame.

  30. Thag Jones

    Michelle, the problem is that those particular atheists aren’t interested in a real conversation. It’s an exercise in futility if people aren’t really interested beyond tearing apart the opponent for sport and engaging in their own sneering superiority.

  31. Rebecca

    Wasn’t it Chesterton who said don’t take down fences until you know why they were put up? Wise indeed.
    I live in Michigan and have a fenced in backyard.
    But, my neighbor and I like eachother so much that we put a door in the fence – we were sick of wasting time walking all the way around the front of the houses. LOL! Both of our kids find the other’s house fascinating. Weird, huh?

    Next time I am shoveling the walk on Easter morning (it’s happened before!) I will think of you in the heat, and remember that, to some, THIS is exotic. Ha!I tell ya, in the dead of winter, I almost can’t BELIEVE that there are places that aren’t freezing. You mean, elsewhere, people are sipping lemonade on verandas and margaritas on beaches? It’s almost too much to fathom.

    I didn’t read the comments towards you. I’m sorry you were treated shabbily. I find the internet to be the wild wild west of snarkiness. It’s easy to be a jerk when you’re just talking to a computer and not another human. I think people forget that alot online.

    It was strange…when I converted from atheism to Catholicism, I didn’t tell many people. And, slowly, friends found me out. Most were fine. A few, well, not so fine. Before, when they thought I was still an atheist, we had honest, compassionate, productive conversations and then as soon as ‘The Catholic’ entered the room, the fangs came out.
    Sad, I still miss those friends. Oh well.

    One friend, I remember, when I told him about my unexpected pregnancy, (I was 12 weeks into it) he really wanted me to come to a party at his house. I told him I was tired, that the pregnancy was draining me and what was the point, since I couldn’t drink anyway. He said me ‘Planned Parenthood is still open. You can just get an abortion and come on over! No worries!’ He was completely serious.
    Dude, if I’m not going to give up watching 30 Rock to come to your lame party, I’m certainly not going to give up my baby to come to your party.

    Since I told him I converted, he hasn’t called. I’m actually not too sad about that one.

  32. Thag Jones

    Or one could say it’s like trying to describe the scent of a rose to someone with no sense of smell.

  33. MelanieB

    I’m a native Texan now living in New England, which used to be an exotic local to me but is now just home. Except that sometimes it still seems exotic. We had snow flurries yesterday and the day before. What is really weird to me is that my kids are all native New Englanders and to them Texas is exotic.

  34. Michelle

    I think the reason so many of the comments came across as mean-spirited and not encouraging further discussion was because Jen’s article, quite honestly, exhibited a laughably poor understanding of atheism. In a world where atheists are already marginalized and misunderstood, a post written by a Catholic claiming to present an accurate understanding of atheists is just another example of people failing to grasp what atheists think. I know some of the comments were harsh, but they were harsh because Jen’s post was very inaccurate. Why not be the better person and try to understand why the response was so strong instead of writing off all atheists as scorning discussion? If we come across as rude and unwilling to discuss, it’s most often because believers are so set in their own beliefs that they know everything about atheism that it makes discussion nearly impossible.

    • JoAnna

      Are you aware that Jen used to be an atheist, and was basing her article on her own past experiences? I don’t see how you can call her experiences as an atheist, and with other atheists, invalid just because they may not be your own experiences.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Michelle,
      I’m sure you know what you’re talking about with regard to the US, but the idea (here in the UK) that atheists are ‘marginalized and misunderstood’ made me laugh. In the UK, atheism is practically the national religion – the national broadcasters commission programs to disprove Christianity (one weekely ‘ethics’ show has at least one anti-Catholic discussion topic each week), Christians have been disciplined at work for wearing a cross (which has been upheld by the state), Christians have been prohibited from being foster parents if they hold traditional Christian views on homosexuality, Christian registrars and counselors have been fired for not wanting to perform gay civil unions or provide sexual counseling for a gay couple, Christians have even been arrested for preaching on the street (luckily, in both the cases, the arrests were overturned). When I had ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday, people in my office looked at me as though I had grown a third eye – they weren’t unkind, but literally no one in my office (and I work for one of the largest retailers in the UK, it’s even in the top 10 in the world!) had ever heard of Ash Wednesday or had any idea why someone would have ashes on their head. When I went to see the Pope, on our way to the venue, our cheerful, happy church group (which included children and a baby who was only 7 weeks old) was accosted by aggressive atheist protesters shouting about how Catholicism was child abuse. So like I said, maybe in the US, things are different, but over here, atheists definitely do not need protecting from Christians. Furthermore, you can dispute Jen’s accuracy – I don’t know, never been an atheist, but at the end of the day, if reading offensive and inaccurate things about yourself was grounds to be as nasty as they were to her, I would have so much excuse! The amount of anti-Catholicism in Britain is staggering. But the thing is, ultimately, just because someone is awful to you is no excuse to behave that way yourself – even small children know this.

  35. Sheba

    Hello Jen,

    I read your post detailing your thoughts on misconceptions on atheists. In Uganda, I don’t think you can describe a lot of people as atheists, more likely not very religious. However, that said, there is a big evangelical movement and unfortunately, it is bordering on insanity. Personally, this has affected by family and currently the differences in faith is driving my sisters and myself apart. Your post may not have been directed at my family’s situation, but it carried a great deal of wisdom. Personally, the advice has helped me to reflect and possibly understand my sisters’ situation and feelings a lot better now. Your advice on increased prayer and less action was sport on.

    Overall, I think that was the purpose of your post. That it may give direction to situations like these, atheist or just fundamentalist beliefs that are damaging. The negative comments are simply a diversion tactic that really do not warrant a response. And by the way, your decision not to respond has also been an inspiring one for me. God bless you and continue to show Christ to the world in your own little way.

  36. Michelle

    With regard to the reaction to your article, I think we all feel a little offended and misunderstood when someone who doesn’t share our view on life tries to act like they do. It could be religion, it could be parenting practices, it could be people who grew up in divorced families claiming to know all about people who grew up with intact families. Everyone clings to their worldview and believes that no one can understand them. It’s a very human reaction. I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape about it.

    i love your blog and I love the way you write and I love that your conversion led you to share in the Fullness of the Catholic faith with me, your sister in Christ.

    have a blessed day.

  37. the Mom

    Thanks for linking to me! I had as many hits this morning by 9:00 as I usually have in an entire day. How many readers do you have? I should have been more in awe at the park.

    I’m awfully sorry about the sunburn. I just feel awful that you got burned and melty in order to meet me. Thanks again for making time in what sounds like a crazy schedule.

    Pay no attention to the mean atheists. We’ll just pray for them and then put it all in God’s hands.

    • Lisa @ Cheerfully Chaotic

      I know what you mean… Jen linked to me last August (when I had no computer access for 2 weeks- agh!) and I had more hits in 1 day than I had had in more than 6 months. lol

  38. Thag Jones

    In a world where atheists are already marginalized and misunderstood

    Oh come off it. Jen, like me, used to be an atheist, or at best an agnostic. The problem is that those who are still atheists are obviously going to take issue with a retroactive view of atheism. I found what she said to be pretty well on the mark, but I am also a convert, so I also have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, which you do not have, therefore, this is more than likely going to be a fruitless discussion.

    The claim that atheists are marginalized is laughable – it’s a straw-man. It’s simply ridiculous. Why is it up to Jen (and Catholics) to “be the better person” (by your definition – I would argue that by not offering a knee-jerk response, Jen IS being the better person) and somehow that lets you all off the hook for your nasty and bigoted comments? Most of the comments there (I didn’t read all of them) didn’t deserve the dignity of a response, seeing as they were designed as mere mockery, and not very clever mockery at that. Hardly the seeds for elucidatory discussion. As ye sow…

  39. Thag Jones

    And they didn’t “come across” as mean spirited, they were actually mean spirited. There was no attempt to engage anyone in a discussion of opposing beliefs or ideas, only verbal blood sport. Any response from Jen be like throwing meat to crocodiles.

  40. Baron Korf

    I would’ve responded, but that’s because I’m always spoiling for a fight. I would’ve dissected his post as a sample case of block-headed atheist and while it might have not helped, it would’ve made me feel better. Someone with that many logical and factual errors deserves a good verbal flogging.

  41. Michelle


    Having once been an atheist doesn’t matter. If current atheists find what Jen wrote ridiculous, then it obviously isn’t doing a good job of explaining how to understand atheists.

    Atheists aren’t marginalized? Do you know who the most mistrusted minority in America is? Atheists. There are hardly any atheists in office, because people find religious belief to be a necessity for making choices. People are discriminated against for not having religious beliefs (such as a divorced parent not retaining custody of their children because they won’t provide their kids with spirituality). There are lots of examples – no one calls this an atheist nation; people call it a Christian nation when it really isn’t. We are clearly marginalized.

    Shouldn’t you always want to be the better person? If you preemptively decide it’s a “fruitless discussion” you’re no better than the atheists you perceive as being closed off to discussion. I don’t mean you need to answer every single comment, but refusing to have a dialogue will help no one. Atheists have been shown to be the most knowledgable group about the Bible, because we’ve taken the time to try to understand the “other side” – we didn’t write it off as a futile exercise, and Catholics and believers in general shouldn’t regard dialogue with atheists as a futile exercise either.

    • Denise

      In regard to this, although just my experience for what that is worth: “Atheists have been shown to be the most knowledgable group about the Bible, because we’ve taken the time to try to understand the “other side””

      The reason any atheist/agnostic I’ve spoken with has done this is not because they were open-minded about truly understanding, but because they wished to mine it for out-of-context quotes to attempt further religion-bashing. More like “know thy enemy” than “I really wonder where they are coming from”. Attitude makes a difference in results regarding fruitful discussion.

      I’m happy if that is not your personal experience, but know that it is not the experience of many “on the other side”, who would love some face-to-face, genuine, challenging conversations devoid of deep biases and emotional reactions sprung out of pride and fear.

    • Lisa

      I’m thrilled Jen’s writing is striking a nerve with others, because it certainly has struck a nerve with me. I’m glad Jen has the ability to correspond with atheists and agnostics, herself being a former atheist. That is a gift.

    • Elizabeth

      I have to tell you this has not been my experience with atheists (including the overwhelming majority of my own family) – they are not particularly knowledgable about the Bible, and they definitely do not try to understand the ‘other side.’ Instead, their response is to put up straw men arguments and demonize those who disagree with them. I’m sure there’s a lot of this on the religious side as well, and I don’t make the mistake of thinking that their behaviour (or that of any other atheists I’ve met, including my wonderful and lovely boyfriend) represents all atheists. But I don’t really get your defense of them here – surely you’re doing exactly that, assuming that all atheists share the characteristics if wanting to understand the other side. I don’t think PZ Myers does – and I think his behaviour bears this out. I am sure Jen is happy to dialogue with those who can behave like adults, but a dialogue with people who cannot and will not be civil is no dialogue at all.

  42. patrice

    Dress warm if you are coming to MA it’s only 33 right now. It snowed all day yesterday – nothing accumulated but gloomy skies with snow all day. The sun is beaming today but not doing much to warm us up. On the bright side it should probably be in the 40s when you are here! We’ll probably all be wearing short sleeves and flip-flops because it will be so “warm” Hope all have a great time at the conference-

  43. Stephanie

    Kid Save is so very interesting. Thank you for the link. I will browse their site to learn more. What an awesome program though!

    We might have snow in Maryland on Sunday. Which stinks because it was in the high 60s last weekend and I planted a whole bunch of non-cold-weather plants in my garden. GAH!

  44. Elizabeth Mahlou

    I sometimes end up in similar situations as a manager (not a religious-based thing but one where misinterpretation and incorrect perceptions are off the charts), and I never respond. The reason is because a response, regardless of the powerfulness (assuming that it will be powerful) of its content, immediately gives credence to the attacker. Ignoring such attacks, in my experience, generally has a more positive outcome. They die down over time and get forgotten when more fuel is not added to the fire. Meanwhile, there are other, more helpful, venues in which to conduct real dialogue. PZ M and most of the commentators are clearly not ready for a dialogue; they want a fight. A fight is not helpful. I would have turned the other cheek as you ultimately did. It is the higher road.

  45. Maria D. @ Downright Domesticity

    Thanks for the reminder about KidSave! Believe it or not, I don’t meet the age requirement to be a host yet, but I’m moving to the D.C. area soon, so I may be able to get involved in some other way. Thanks for hosting 7QT!

  46. Julie @ The Corner With A View

    Ohio is cold, but it was warm earlier this week. I have my fingers crossed that this weekend will be pleasant!

    I tend to take things/ comments with a grain of sea salt. Otherwise, I take it personally. Here’s my question though: if Atheists don’t believe in God, why do they want to talk about him all the time? Why does it matter? Why do they care what we believe? That has always intrigued me.

    • Lisa

      I agree. Wouldn’t that be a waste of time and energy for them? Maybe, just maybe…. the ones who vehemently deny Christ the most are the ones vehemently trying to cover up a tiny mustard seed size amount of faith?

    • Erika Evans

      I think it has a lot to do with a perceived crusade to free themselves and society from the “oppression” we religious types perpetrate. Many of them seem to think that faithful people are some kind of plague and that society would be elevated and better off without religion, so they see active opposition as a necessary and noble path.

    • John

      Because they are on a crusade to rid the world of evil, foolish, fantasy-land beliefs that they equate to child abuse…actual child abuse. Atheists such as those commenting on Meyer’s site do not want “dialogue”…they believe religion must eradicated.

      Any article in an online newspaper dealing with religion has the same virulent & ugly comments as on the Meyer’s site. It’s always the same: repugnant.

  47. Thag Jones

    Atheists are more knowledgeable about the Bible now too, eh? I’m afraid if you are reading it without seeing it as the Word of God, you’re missing the whole point, and thus do not really understand it at all. I also haven’t pre-emptively decided anything – I looked at the comments and the tone of the place, and deduced, as Jen did, that it would be a waste of time to engage. Too bad I didn’t do the same with you, but I’m a bit of a scrapper myself (well, I am a lapsed atheist). On that note, I must wipe the dust off my feet and go do something more productive, like wash the dishes.

    Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
    – Matthew 10:9-15

  48. Christine the Soccer Mom

    Jen, I noticed those negative comments, too. I think there are simply some very angry people out there (inside and outside of the Church!) who want to vent and rant.

    You’d be freaked out here, too, by the way. No fences on most yards, though I’d love to fence in part of our back yard (with chain link) so we can get a dog like this: http://shepherdrescue.net/cgi-bin/Dog_View.asp?Dog=2242&Return=dogs.asp&Type=1&page=2&DogID=2242

    I nearly weep looking at her picture. She looks just like my dog when I was a girl.

    Anyway, I love to see your stuff on the Register (and here), and I’m still keeping you and the baby in my prayers. Blessed Lent to you and yours!

  49. Ed

    Re Prof Myers
    I think you touched a nerve!
    No point responding to people when they are in that mood, i think.

  50. priest's wife

    praying for that PZ

  51. Brian

    Please do not respond to PZ Myers. Many of the commenters are just waiting to snark on you. Cathleen’s post (with advice from Mother Theresa) was dead on.
    Let your pride suffer a little (easy for me to say!) and offer it up!

    Praying for all


  52. Maggie

    On Wednesday we closed school here (NE Wisconsin) because we had between 12-18 inches. My car is still stuck in a drift 🙁

  53. Kevin A

    Greetings from Sherman, IL (a suburb of Springfield), where – although it was in the 70s last week – we are having snow flurries.

    Being from Illinois, it never occurred to me that one would need a fence to tell where the property line is. Little clues like ground slope, variations in color of the grass, etc., point out the property line to me as clearly as if someone had just gone out with a bucket of paint and marked it. There’s also a sense among the people around here that it’s in our own interests to look out for each other and each other’s property. Plus, we’ve got that whole “midwest nice” thing.

    So… Texas doesn’t have that renowned “Southern Hospitality,” then?

  54. Denise

    Atheist PZ Myers very obviously is not looking for more dialogue with you, but only more reasons to mock, ridicule and degrade you and your religion. No, it is not worth your time to respond to him. If there had actually been any indication of respect, polite disagreement, or classy behavior, then yes, probably it would have been worthwhile.

    The irony of it is that for every accusation of nonsense he levels at Catholicism and other religions, I can think of at least one equally (or more so) “nonsense accusation” I can level at atheist beliefs…

    Thank you especially for the links to adoption/KidSave!

  55. Louise

    Sunburn! Wow! That makes Texas sound pretty exotic to me! We’re having unseasonably cold weather here in PA, and I’m more than ready for spring.
    Thank you so much for linking to Shoved to Them. I LOVED the dog post, and I am in complete agreement with you both on that crazy topic. I can’t wait to read more.
    I completely agree with your response to PZ. I know it drives me nuts when I don’t respond to an attack, but if there is no hope for dialogue, I think it’s best to take the high road and avoid dignifying it with a response.

  56. Michelle


    I’m afraid if you’re really reading the Bible and still consider it the word of a loving God, you aren’t reading it all that carefully. I haven’t read all of it yet, but I’m working through it with an open mind, and have already found several things that make the idea that it’s the word of God very implausible, and make the idea of believing in God absolutely undesirable.

    I’m afraid that as long as Christians and atheists refuse to have a civil dialogue with each other, there will be nothing but hostility on both sides. Keep in mind that the comments on PZ’s site were among atheists, in response to an article they thought was unfair and poorly represented atheists. This discussion is hardly different – it’s (mostly) among Christians who found PZ’s assessment unfair and a poor representation of Jen’s article.

      • Michelle

        I’m actually extremely busy – I’m a full time student and spend most of my time studying or working, and reading the Bible is something I’m doing very leisurely in my own time. Just getting through the whole thing will be an accomplishment! Although I know there are differing viewpoints on how literally the Bible should be taken, and I had planned to read it as literally as possible (partially because that’s easiest for a first read-through, and partially because I think it seems reasonable to assume that it if it is indeed the timeless word of God, its literal meaning should hold quite a bit of weight for us today), I will definitely read these articles and keep them in mind. Thanks!

  57. JoAnna

    Regarding the sunburn — I got a bad sunburn in June 2009, and my SIL recommended putting distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and using that for topical relief. It really worked, and I’ve never had a sunburn fade so fast!

    Re: P.Z. Myers, he linked to two of my blog posts regarding Abortion vs. Miscarriage a few days ago (see #7 on my quick takes post). I didn’t bother to go to his site to read what he had to say, but I did get some commenters from there, which generated some interesting follow-up posts in response to them. The thing is, responding to him won’t help HIM at all. His mind is resolutely made up and he’s not interested in honest discussion or dialogue, or even being civil to those who don’t share his beliefs (yet he claims to believe in “tolerance”… go figure). I think responsive posts are more for lurkers or the undecided who might be Googling for different viewpoints.

  58. Ryan

    Only the fool says in his heart “there is no God.” So you were 100% correct in not responding to that ridiculous personal assault. After all, arguing with a fool is like spitting into the wind, or casting pearls before swine for that matter!

  59. Kara

    I totally feel the same way about #1. It’s so hot here by March. I’ve swam in March… The AC has been on for weeks. I guess people always wonder about what they don’t have, but real seasons would be really nice. Our “seasons” in Phoenix are pretty much “Hot” and “Cool” and that’s it. It’s maddening, imo.

    #2 – No, I wouldn’t have responded. I used to belong to a debate board online, which actually just equalled a henhouse nitpick board. No one was actually there to have an open, honest, educational, open minded debate. They were there to attack. Your post about Atheists was not attacking, imo, but there’s was. Opening a dialogue further with them would just cause drama, and who has the time, or the blood pressure to spare? I had to to leave the debate board I belonged to when I was pregnant with my 3rd because I just couldn’t handle the emotions and high blood pressure that was brought on by being attacked. I now carry around a sense of “everyone is out to get me”, and I’ve pretty much given up debating with people about Catholic or pro life issues, because I am just burnt out. Anyway, I think you did the right thing.

    #3 – I so want to adopt some day. I hope that’s what God’s plan has in store for us because I think it would be amazing and have always wanted to adopt. Love that story.

    #4 – Love this! Maybe once things are settled around here, I could convince my DH to do a KidSave. That’s great.

    #6 – We mainly have fenced yards here in the Phoenix metro area, but we currently have an open yard and I can’t stand it. My kids can’t play outside without me following them around, we get javelina, coyotes, and other annoying animals every night causing a raucous, and my dog barks all day because there is constantly something/someone in the yard. We live on a major busy road, in the middle of a city, and it’s just crazy not to have a fenced yard, imo. I can’t wait until we move and we have that “luxury”. We even have people constantly walking through our yard then freak out when our huge German Shepherd comes running at them barking. Hello?! Get out of my yard and you won’t HAVE this problem, lol.

    Have a great weekend, Jen!

  60. Catherine

    We can all just pray for PZ for a change of heart and a conversion experience 🙂 I think that is the best. St Paul and St Augustine might help out too 😉

  61. Becky

    I hope you don’t mind, I actually did post a comment on PZ’s website, not to start a fight, but only to defend you. It really burned me up that these people were mocking you in this way and I wanted to let them know it.

    No, I know it won’t do any good. Yes, I know they will mock me too. It’s ok though. Because when I read that insulting post and comments, it reminded me of the mockery Jesus went through and that there was no one to defend him.

    Forgive me, but it seemed to be the right thing to do.
    You’ve got supporters here!

  62. Anne Marie

    Re: PZ’s post

    My, my you’ve hit his nerve. My take, go with his #5, leave it at that with him and take your pain to the cross as part of your Lenten journey.

  63. Kendra

    I wish I could go to the Faith and Family conference and meet all of you sweet bloggers, but I don’t exactly have a family yet 🙁 I wish you well and hope you have a ton of fun!

  64. KC

    >As Texans, we wondered how you know when to start shooting if there’s no clarity on where your own property begins!<

    That line just cracked me up. As a fellow Texan, I wonder as well. I visited a friend in VA and saw the same thing.

  65. Lisa

    I would not have responded to PZ Meyers. I was shocked that a professor would stoop to such base insults, rather than answering your points with reasoned discussion.

    I love the adoption link–two of my nephews and my niece were adopted through the foster-to-adopt system! We are so grateful for them.

  66. Anne Marie

    More re PZ Dude:

    My word he’s one angry little man. How painful it must be to live in his skin, heck it’s painful to read him, to witness his wailing and gnashing of teeth. Yuckie. I feel like I need a holy water spritz down just to get the icky off.

    Let his words reveal the condition of his heart, mind and soul, and leave him spinning in his own little world of hate. No upside to a response to him that I can think of.

  67. Kelly @ Love Well

    I saw you Tweet about the sunburn earlier this week, and it made me smile, since we were getting 6 inches of fresh snow at the time. March is definitely the beginning of spring for us. But in Minneapolis, that could mean rain one day and snow the next, some sun, more clouds and when it hits 50, we all throw off the coats and wear shorts. (Really.)

    There aren’t many fences up here, either. But then again, this is a very forested area. Often, trees “mark” the property lines and give us a little privacy from the neighbors. I wonder if life in the Big Woods started the no-fence philosophy and it got carried south until people started putting up fences to reign in cattle?

  68. Kris, in New England

    The people on the PZ Meyers site are clearly not interested in an open, honest dialog. Their ad hominem attacks and open insults make that abundantly clear. You can’t take a swing at a pitch in the dirt.

    • Kris, in New England

      I went back and read more of that PZ Myers blog. What a hate-filled man; I almost feel sorry for him. No respect for other opinions, anyone who disagrees with his superior intellect and opinion is stupid, or worse. One post contained speculations about the kind of sex some has – with farm animals.

      There really is no response you can give to someone like that – they won’t take it in the spirit in which it is meant and they will resort to the insults and taunts – like a schoolyard bully.

  69. Amy

    As one who has lived in the Peoria area most of my life, I understand fences are for putting up:

    If you have a pool for safety reasons.

    If you can’t get along with your neighbor

    I wish I would have known you were in Peoria!

  70. Meika

    Here in Michigan it is still FREEZING, and I can’t imagine there are really people in this world who aren’t currently wearing long underwear and down jackets. How does that feel to be not-cold, again? Gosh. I really just can’t remember. It feels like those last days of pregnancy, the (for me) days AFTER forty weeks when I can logically concede that eventually this baby will come and I won’t be pregnant forever, of course… but really? I don’t believe that at all and in my gut I just KNOW that I am going to be the first woman to be pregnant for the last fifty years of her life. That’s how “spring” feels here. Yes, the earth still turns on its axis, but really? We’re just going to go right back into winter now. If I show up on your doorstep next week (boy, wouldn’t THAT be freaky!), you’ll know why. 🙂

    And yes, the fences… no idea on that, but our horrible homeowners association DOESN’T ALLOW THEM. I have no idea why, but I hate it with a virulence really better reserved for… well, things other than fences. But really, I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old and one on the way, and I’m pretty sure that protective services would have something to say about it if I used an invisible fence on them! UGH. I’d best not get started on that. Maybe I’m the only MEAN midwesterner around, but I’d build a six-foot stone wall if I could right now!

  71. Carolina

    Really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for hosting the 7 Quick Takes Friday!

  72. Keystone

    I read the prof.
    I read his link to Jen’s first article.
    I read the comments of disdain there from atheists.
    I read the comments of sanctimony here from “believers”.

    What amazes me is the clarion call to ask if a response should be given, to an article written, and responded to, by others.

    That leads to a voluminous account from the collective wisdom of other Catholics, in dealing with atheism.

    I would encourage you to stop asking people, and start asking God, what you are to do. HE has already spoken on the issue, and you have missed His response, and a grand opportunity to carry the Word of the Lord, to those who need it most (some folks above too).

    Listen to God here:

    “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”
    ~~~ 1 Peter 3:15

    I don’t know how much clearer God can get than to have the Holy Spirit long ago, anoint inspired Scripture, saying “ALWAYS be prepared to give an answer to EVERYONE who asks….”

    When you take your query to the Lord, you do not receive the disdain you got from atheists, nor the pablum of applause from the catholic sector.
    You get the truth.

    Figure it out what you NEED to say ALWAYS, write it down, maybe even memorize it, and post away one day in response. You are NOT responsible for how it is received; you ARE responsible for how the message is sent.
    God speaks above and says:
    “But do this with gentleness and respect”

    I think you missed an opportunity to speak out for God, not Catholicism.
    Decide if you want to be a Christian, or a Catholic, and which version you wish to represent. One follows Christ and is based on Scriptures and prayer. The other includes BOTH of those, plus some doctrine and tradition.

    Much of that is being jettisoned by the most recent two Popes, including 5 or 6 of the Stations of the Cross (for they are NOT in the New Testament), Limbo, and even Purgatory. Belief held for centuries and espoused by infallible papal wisdom, is being discarded now, by infallible papal wisdom.

    I pray you make the right decision and follow the Lord, not his followers.
    The followers are often wrong, and He spoke of them too:

    “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
    ~~~Matthew 7:21-23

    These folks are not atheists at all, they are “believers.
    Please note that they call Him “Lord”, and note all the rest of their works.
    But He says “I NEVER knew you” and slams heaven’s gates shut on them. These are folks who believe they are believers and their numbers are legion, in churches around the globe.

    Stand firm!

    • JoAnna

      Wow, there is so much accuracy and flat-out falsehood in this post that I hardly know where to being, so I won’t.

      For lurkers – please bear in mind that the above displays a flawed and ignorant understanding of Catholicism and Catholic doctrine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good resource for debunking all of the above and explaining what Catholics actually believe (as opposed to what most Protestants, like the above, think Catholics believe).

      • Jessica

        I always regard with skepticism anyone who implies that they know exactly what every verse of the Bible means.

        The Bible is not always clear and is some cases is outright contradictory. We’re here to help each other figure out, the best we can, what living a Christian life looks like–not to judge or condemn one another for not adhering to our own particular understanding of what that looks like.

    • Anne Marie

      “I would encourage you to stop asking people, and start asking God, what you are to do. HE has already spoken on the issue, and you have missed His response, and a grand opportunity to carry the Word of the Lord, to those who need it most (some folks above too).”

      Making an inquiry of fellow Christians (The Communion of Saints) does not preclude asking God’s guidance, the two are not mutually exclusive, your presumption is flawed.

      It’s Lent and the fur is a flyin.

  73. JoAnna

    Wow, there is so much inaccuracy and flat-out falsehood in this post that I hardly know where to being, so I won’t.

    For lurkers – please bear in mind that the above displays a flawed and ignorant understanding of Catholicism and Catholic doctrine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good resource for debunking all of the above and explaining what Catholics actually believe (as opposed to what most Protestants, like the above, think Catholics believe).

    • JoAnna

      this was meant to be a reply to Keystone above; I cancelled my original reply due to a typo and tried to repost, but it didn’t work too well. Sorry. 🙂

  74. Liesl

    I’m not sure there’s much you could have said in response to his post. It doesn’t seem to me that he wanted to have a conversation, but more just to laugh at you/your ideas.

  75. NoraB

    Wow! I haven’t read the offending posts or their comments, but they sure struck a cord. I’m glad you’ve heard from so many people who love and respect you and your efforts, I can’t really add to that much, except to say “Yeah, what they said.” How awesome that you chose not to launch a defense, which takes the grace and humility of the divine! Bet the supernatural good that did, exceeds the points you would (or would not) have scored. Way to go!

  76. Susan

    I’m betting that you’ll be getting some new traffic thanks to PZ who may not have come here otherwise. It’s probably best to let your silence over there speak for you though.

    Here in central Alberta there is still a foot of snow on the ground. I don’t think of it as exotic, simply cold. But I’m happier dealing with our cold weather than I would be with your summers!

    Have a blessed weekend and keep that new baby you’re growing healthy. 🙂

  77. Sally Thomas

    Well, late to the party, but at least I showed up this time! I read your article at the Register, and the comments following, at 4:30 this morning — I’d gotten up to see off my firstborn, who’s in Texas right now at her “Admitted Student” college weekend. If she has fun, we may be seeing a lot of Texas for the next four years.

    Anyway, it seems to me, after having read similar threads following, for example, David Bentley Hart’s pieces on New Atheism, that the same people must google “atheist” on a daily basis and then go around visiting whoever’s talking about atheism in a spirit of . . . whatever motivates people to type phrases like “Flying Spaghetti Monster,” I guess. And it seems ironic to me that attempts like yours to engage, by sharing your own experience on that side of the fence, are met by that level of ad hominem hostility. So what if your experience isn’t theirs? So what if you presume something? So what if you ventured to say the wrong thing? Why is that such an egregious transgression as to turn people rabid? It’s the internet version of torching cars, except they’re metaphorically torching a human being.

    Fortunately the flames are ones you can walk away from — you don’t have to stand there and burn. Much better not to get sucked into it, because these things will eat your soul if you let them.

    But I can understand brooding over it. I would.

  78. Josephene Kealey

    When I encounter angry responses to Catholic teaching, I remind myself that what a person says doesn’t necessarily reflect what he is feeling/thinking, especially when he is feeling vulnerable about his own internal life. And nearly always, an angry response (versus a reasonable, calm response) indicates that the person is not at peace. Like a child complaining loudly about bedtime because he is in fact exhausted

    Prayer is powerful.

  79. Emily

    This morning I walked through deep snow, felt tiny ice pellets pelt my face, looked at the gray of the sky and white of the trees and pondered spring.

    [I sent the children out before their lessons so that they could admire the crystalline spikes all over the place. All the bushes have white ‘thorns’ and the wire fences ‘barbs’.]

  80. Judy

    I haven’t read what they had to say about you yet (on my way there in a minute) but if you had the self control to delete a post after discerning that it was not productive, then I would say:”Wow…would you please do a ladies’ retreat or Mom’s Night Out on “Self-Mastery”?” I am MOST certain that my husband would thank you.

  81. Anne

    I am in one of those Northern climes where there is still some snow on the ground, and this morning, the wind out of the distinct north was rather nippy. I live in Ottawa, ON, Canada…and although spring is definitely in the air, the A/C isn’t running yet, nor are the snowsuits put away just yet…we have been known to get surprise snowstorms in March in these here parts.

  82. Kimberlie

    In my adult life I have lived in New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. In NJ and Wisconsin, it was a lot like your experience in IL – not many fence. Here in OK, people love their privacy fences. They drive into their 2-car garages, and head on back to their privacy-fenced backyards, and we hardly know each other. When we lived in Wisconsin, we had a big front porch and only a 3ft chainlink fence on one side of our yard. We knew our neighbors, would visit on each other porches, and I.loved.it. So much more friendly in my opinion. We also have a serious lack of sidewalks in Oklahoma so people generally aren’t out walking the neighborhoods. They get in their cars and drive to the nearest lot that has access to the river trail. Sad.sad.sad.

  83. Anne

    May I say that I loved your Quick Takes this week.
    And per #1, I still haven’t put the snowsuits away for the kids yet. Although the snow is melting and we’ve had glorious spring weather lately, March and sometimes April like to pull a fast one on us unsuspecting Canucks living in the Ottawa Valley…I’ve been had way too many times with this one!

    • Anne

      And for some reason I couldn’t see my 1st comment, hence my 2nd one…sorry about that.

  84. Karen

    Myers’ post was mean-spirited and meant to make you feel foolish. His commenters simply followed suit. No response was the best response–your fifth point is the best option for someone so sadly lost. I think you are very classy to not let yourself be dragged down into that muck.

  85. Jamie

    I think you did the right thing in not responding. I’m thinking about the example of Jesus as described in Isaiah 50: “I gave my back to the smiters.”

  86. jen

    I agree with previous posters that it isn’t worth your time or effort to try and refute PZ Myers. He wants a fight and not a discussion. What you wrote was based on your experiences as an atheist. The way he approaches his faith or lack of faith is different than the way you approached yours. I have found that atheism, like Christianity, has a pretty broad spectrum of people.

  87. Deacon David Backes

    It’s not worth responding to someone who shows no intention of having honest dialogue. If there’s any doubt about the intention, then it’s worth trying. But it’s always good to remember–maybe especially good for writers to remember–St. Francis’ advice: “Preach always; use words if necessary.”

  88. Barbara

    Sometimes I think the internet is like what Robin Williams said about alcohol: “bringing out the a-hole in everybody”

  89. MusingOnMotherhood&Ministry

    Thanks from me too, my blog hits have increased by 1000% or something! Further to my comment, I don’t know whether I exoticize the South in my mind – novels, plays, movies and TV shows make me think that sitting on an old porch (swing?) drinking homemade lemonade or iced tea is *comfortable*, as well as quintissentially American (in some states). I may be latching onto a stereotype, I don’t know. I think I have the same feeling about sitting on the stoop of a brownstone in olden New York. Maybe it’s the history geek in me. Anyhoo, it’s a refreshing change to be discussing the weather as well as the atheism comments. I’m another atheist who intellectualized her way into faith, and I tend to find that if Christian words elicit such a virulent response, a nerve is being hit hard somewhere, and we can only pray that the turnaround comes sooner than later in their lifetime.

  90. Aimee

    Hey there Jennifer. Prof Z, or whoever he is, has a big unfortunate log in his eye: he’s a professor. I’m a professor too, and I know what I’m talking about. So first, you need to take a look at who you’re dealing with, and read it in that light. Prof Z is a bully, and he has the “weight”, for what it’s worth, of academia behind him. You’ve essentially been hit by the equivalent of a KKK member–albeit a highly educated one. I mean that seriously–his prejudices are so deep, and so endemic to the profession he takes part in, that he needs to be thought of in that manner. Just feel sorry for the students who has a professor who (a) is a bigot, AND a sexist, which inevitably affects his thinking and teaching, even though he’ll insist that it doesn’t, and (b) is spending his time trolling the internet and mocking those who disagree with him instead of actually teaching. Some institution is wasting a lot of $$$ on this clown, but it’s hardly like they have a lot better to choose from. Be humbly proud–you have reached the attention of the hate-filled intelligentsia, and they DO NOT LIKE IT when people question their “erudite” views. Pray for ’em all, and move on.

  91. Aimee

    I meant to add–the comments are the fruits of what he’s sowing. They’re all kinda lame and awful, but the saddest thing of all is that no one there apparently knows what a metaphor is.

  92. Beverly

    RE: the atheist and his comments—According to Thomas Aquinas: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

  93. Veronica Mitchell

    My usual rule is that someone who calls their ideological opponents “insane” is not interested in rational dialogue. Believing someone is wrong is not the same thing as believing they are mentally ill. When he uses words like “delusions,” “lost… sanity,” and “crazy town,” you do not need to respond. He has already chosen a filter for hearing your words which will shut out any real conversation.

    When we calmly and fairly explain our position to someone and they still disagree with us, the temptation offered to us then becomes (whether we are Christian or atheist or anything else) to condemn the disagreeing person as either stupid, mentally ill or evil. That’s where dialogue ends.

  94. Emily

    I’m sorry if this has been brought up already, but I feel like I might have something to add. Jennifer, I’ve been a long time follower of this blog. I found it last year when I started thinking more and more about Christianity. I didn’t grow up in a christian household, but I was a follower in college. After college I lost the faith and more recently have tentatively been trying to get back into the fold. Your blog has been enormously helpful. I don’t always agree with your theological arguments or opinions on current events, but you clearly come to your posts with an open heart and mind and I appreciate your candidness regarding your various struggles.
    As I look deeper into Christianity I always seem to find that there is a lot of it that I don’t understand and a lot that the people around me don’t understand. Because I am in my ’20s and live in a very liberal, young city i know a lot of atheists and agnostics. I also know a lot of people who are vaguely buddhist (not that Buddhism itself is vague, but rather these are more hippy-dippy types who like yoga) or into ambiguously “eastern” practices. On a day to day basis I encounter a lot of confusion about what exactly Christianity teaches. In fact I would wager that most non-Christians I know are almost entirely wrong about the ‘point’ of Christ’s message.
    This is not their fault, however. I think it is the fault of the loud Christian right in this nation. It is no wonder that people don’t understand the real truth behind Christianity when all the Christians you see on TV are mostly condemning people for ‘sins’ real and imagined. When you have a lot of homosexual friends (and I just mean to use homosexuality as an example here) and you don’t believe there is anything wrong with them or their love for their partners and the only Christians you regularly encounter are bigots on TV telling you and your friends or family that not only will they go to hell, but that they deserve fewer rights than the rest of us because they are responsible for the destruction of family values in this country, it’s hard not to get very angry at those people and unwilling to listen to anything they have to say.
    So I hesitate to blame atheists for their angry reactions on that blog, because Christians in this country often don’t represent their religion well to the rest of us. Instead of trying hard to show that the ultimate focus of Christ’s message is unconditional love and equality of people who are all sinners, these Christians come off as pompous blowhards who think everyone is sinning except themselves.
    That being said I think this blog does try harder to be open minded to others’ beliefs and it’s clear that most of the atheist posters on that other blog aren’t really all that familiar with Jennifer and her history, otherwise they might not have presented such shallow, mean attacks on her. I have to say that reading the comments here is a much more pleasant experience than the comments on that other blog and I can’t help but wonder if a devotion to humility that comes with being a follower of Christ is the reason for that.
    Sorry for the long-winded post, I’m putting off a trek to library in the rain (summer clearly starts a lot later for us here in the northwest!)

  95. Nicole C

    Regarding #2 – I read it and realized he wasn’t trying to win over any new atheists. There was no real deep, profound arguments. Just a bunch of immature, idiotic “hahaha’s” and “Christians are dumb” type sentiment. Not worth a response!

  96. Elena

    Who the heck is PZ Myers and why on earth should I care what he thinks anyway?

  97. Lauren

    Just wanted to quickly say, I read his post, and it was so immature, it did not deserve a response. Good for you for not stooping. 🙂

  98. Maria Gutiérrez

    Dear Jen,
    Please get Aloe Vera (not an aloe cream or lotion), the actual plant, cut a leave and apply the pulp onto the sunburn. This is the best treatment possible. Aloe Vera can take out the extra heat accumulated on the skin and can reach the lower layers to repair the damage.
    I have heard it may be dangerous to use Aloe Vera creams and lotions because aloe can bring with it all the chemical substances in those artificial salves to the deep skin.
    By the way, I met your dear blog back in 2008. Thank you very much for your words.
    María (Alicante, Spain)

  99. starrball

    Bless you Jen for leaving the linky list up so long. I feel like you do it just for me!

  100. Marilyn H

    We just received a really vile email at our blog from an atheist. He has an online store that sells stickers showing a man with a bible being set on fire. The sticker says “Warning, Religious Solicitors will be set on fire.” We were so incensed and were thinking of how to respond and what we would say and how we would report this terrible product to the online store. But, then at the end of the day, I thought that it just isn’t worth the effort to try to engage someone who is so blinded by hatred. It just leads to having more of this venom heaped upon you.

    One of my first thoughts after calming down was to come over to Conversion Diary to re-read some of your posts on atheism. Then, I saw this Quick Takes with the PZ Myers fiasco. I believe that your approach is the best one. Just shake the dust off of your sandals and walk away. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can penetrate these very hard hearts.

    Thanks so much for your always helpful reflections. God bless you.

  101. Anne in DC

    One thing I notice about a lot of atheists is that they seem at great pains to insist on how smart they are. Usually, this is measured in credentialism: degrees, usually in some branch of the (now hopelessly degraded and politicized) humanities or soft sciences from a brand-name university. But there is a huge difference between what a professor friend of mine dubbed being “good at school” and actually being smart. My friend (who teaches at Harvard) describes most of his students as being good at school, which consists pretty much of figuring out what the teachers want, and then giving it to them. And what they want, usually, is obeisance to the dominant groupthink. Myers’ website is Exhibit A.

    At any rate, I always find it amusing to listen to someone like Myers essentially say that the faith of Thomas Aquinas, and CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoffer, Antonin Scalia, et al is just somehow insufficient for his towering intellect.

    SO not worth responding. You cannot reason a man out of a position he was not reasoned into. The dogs bark, but the caravan passes.

  102. Sleeping Beastly

    “What would you have done? Would you have responded?”
    No. This is a shake-the-dust-off-your-feet and don’t-cast-pearls-before-swine situation. It’s important to answer honest questions and engage in real dialog with people who care about sharing ideas, but you shouldn’t feel compelled to engage someone like that on his own terms. He’s baiting you, and I would suggest not biting. If you join him in the who-can-be-snarkiest arena, all the good intentions in the world will just lead to your being thrown to the lions.

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