Columns Nov 7, 2012 at 4:00 am

This Is Your Advice Columnist On Drugs


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Weird progression from "great girl" to "a little controlling" to "flipped out" to "tell everyone we know about my pegging kink." Feels like sliding down some slippery slope towards seeing abuse as normal. If you really think she might tell people about your sexual kinks, then she's batshit crazy, and people who listen to her are equally crazy, and you should be glad you escaped from the whole gang of them.

Feel better soon, Dan -- hopefully the election results will help a bit tonight! (And your response to NWATB was perfect, by the way.)
Hadrian also built a beautiful villa for his love
The only people I've ever known who believed in reincarnation were too lazy or stupid to actually do something worthwhile with the one life they have.
Heard this somewhere:

I want to be reincarnated as a bike seat in Milan.
BAAA needs to read Christopher Hitchens "God is not Great".
Dearest Dan (sorry about your cold and sinus infection--no fun!--I hope you feel better soon),

Here is one of your biggest fans on election day feeling she's on drugs! After all the numbingly senseless mudslinging, I desperately need a Buddy break, and therefore I am, fully equipped with plenty of comfort food and alcohol, succumbing to my DVD player for another much needed viewing of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". There's something oddly therapeutic about Ethel Merman being carted off in a gurney kicking and screaming, and somewhere in heaven Buddy Hackett is still laughing his ass off.

My reasons for this 3-hour Gilligan's Island "Big W" tour, complete with Thurston Howell III as a bourbon-intoxicated pilot, are thus: if the election results are less than favorable, I still have something to laugh at. If the election turns out all for the better for the majority of us--not just the richest 1%----all the more to celebrate!

Anyway, I hope you feel better soon.
Drugged or not, you ROCK!!!
The claim that there is a great deal of evidence for reincarnation needs to be expanded on, I think.

I also think Dan did a pretty good job for being high on Vicodin. Way to go!
KINK didn't say that his "great" ex-girlfriend threatened to out him. It's just his fear. Frankly, she sounds too passive-aggressive to want to be known as a strap-on queen. He should relax.
Yeah, you should write while drugged more often.

I want to ask about the book, but maybe when you feel better.
Yeah, leaving the church was not only about the gay thing. For me, it was the race thing and the misogyny thing and the emotional coercion thing and the anti-science thing ... As time went by, I had the emotional distance to reflect on all the ideas I took in during the church years, and it became ever clearer to me how toxic it all was. So, no, while gay men, like other kinds of men, have one-track minds, we're not single-issue.
When Dan writes to tell hot Latin dude he's "a good little cocksucker" it reminds me of those dumb Dr. Phil scripts, but, oh God (or hell, oh Antinous) soooo much better.

ps tonight just realizing I got an excessive amount of election coverage via the Savage Twitter feed.

Feel better because Washington, Maryland, and Maine just legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote for the first time in the history of our country! (Along with three states legalizing recreational pot too, so a great win for us all). And as a raised-Catholic atheist bisexual girl, there is no reason for us to believe in any supernatural forces out there. It is far more logical to think that we just don't understand it yet through science than to just say "God did it" with no evidence at all. And I still have my grandma's rosary collection after her death of all the Polish rosaries she had bought during her life and left them to me in inheritance, I still treasure them because they were left to me by her but not because I give them any superstitious meaning, it really must be a Catholic thing.
@8 - I concur
You should feel better knowing that Washington, Maine, and Maryland are the first states ever to vote for same-sex marriage in the history of our country. (Also, three states voted in some awesome recreational marijuana use laws too). Additionally, as a raised very Polish Catholic atheist bisexual girl, I commend you for your position as an atheist not believing in the supernatural even in a place where the science is lacking evidence at this point. And I inherited a collection of Polish (and some blessed by the departed Polish pope) rosaries from my grandmother at her passing. This really must be a Catholic thing...
8, The evidence for reincarnation is actually very good. look up Dr. Ian Stevenson. On the subject of religion, what matters is how it holds its beliefs. There are esoteric (good) and exoteric(bad) sides to Buddhism, Christianity, etc. The problem is not which religion you go to, it's its relationship to truth.
Fantastic explanation of how you became atheist. SImilar for me: sex abuse scandal caused me to question all religious authority. Turns out none of it stood up to scrutiny. Once you stop believing in the supernatural, if you do so for good reason, it is almost impossible to start up again. As an illustration, try to spend tomorrow believing in unicorns. Bet you can't do it, because you know its nonsense. That's what atheism is like.
Excellent column with or without Vicodin. The only slip I saw was: "a healthy gay person successfully integrates his sexual and emotional needs." That should be "a healthy person ...." Separating the sex life from the love life is unhealthy for straights too.
As for religion, let me plug the Unitarian Universalist church. The one I attend is radically inclusive and doesn't give a damn what you think about God as long as you're polite about it.
@7 Hey, Auntie Grizelda - you won.

And I'm so happy for you, and for all other nice commenters I got to know here !
@EricaP: Yes.

And don't sweat too much over her threat to make all your friends pick her over you. That's just bluster, and if she followed through with it, it would backfire, unless all of your friends are as mean and crazy as her.

Also, you can draw boundaries without telling her so. Avoid her, don't answer her calls, respond to questions with "Gosh I don't know", if she corners you at a party tell her you have to use the bathroom, etc.
@13 Catholicism has its many faults but it has, on the whole, been recently kinder to science and education than most other religions - perhaps thanks to its Jesuits who were awesome teachers and who were not afraid of critical thinking.

For instance Georges Lemaître, both a Catholic priest and a college-level physics teacher, who proposed the Big Bang theory (God being understood as the Big Bang maker). And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and a geologist and a human paleontologist.

Both were scientists in their own right, and they would not have disguised their findings even when it went against their own religion. They bended their religion to make way for facts, not the contrary ; they were able to stay Catholics all the same.

Catholic religion is very bendable ; of course like all religions it can appeal to fanatics but here in Europe most Catholics I know consider the Bible as something akin to a poetical testimony and not to be taken litteraly. The present Pope is a conservative - the last conclave could have elected an Obama but they chose their McCain instead. He won't bend on outdated stupidities like gay and women bashing. His loss.

When one gets out of a bendable religion to become atheist, there's really no much point in shopping around for other gods.
Dan, I love you. On Vicodin or not, you give awesome advice <3 I've recommended your podcast and column to SO many people over the years I've lost count--and all love it, because, SERIOUSLY, you're awesome.
@2 is spot on, at least according to my personal experience, and by all means let her try to 'smear' you - if there is evidence she's sharing, then own it and de-fang it by having no shame. If there is no evidence (and honestly, why people think it's a good idea to film something is beyond me), then just don't respond at all...after a while people will know which of you is the nutjob and which is credible. Truly, living well is the best revenge.
Before I say anything, I just want to say this.


Does that come before or after removing his balls?
KoINK-- Even if your crazy ex did follow through on her threat to "force" all your mutual friends to pick her over you, how would she go about it? Would anyone worth knowing fall for her manipulation?

If she did follow through on her threat to out your pegging kink, do this: When you think someone has heard her gossip or seems to be judging you based on something she said or even confronts you asking if it's true, you look hurt, surprised, and, in a puzzled tone, ask why she would say something like that. If pressed, you say that you don't want to talk about it or her. Leave it ambiguous as to whether you like pegging. Leave it clear that you can't understand why anyone would go around talking about private sexual matters in public. Be sure to leave the acquaintances certain that anyone who would bring up such things is unstable.

Maybe I'm a ridiculous optimist, but I really can't imagine that anything you describe in your scenario could go well for her. I'm putting myself in the position of your mutual friends and asking myself how I'd react if one half of a broken up couple started telling me anything negative-- or even not so negative-- about the ex. That's whether they liked pegging or just didn't throw dirty socks in the hamper. Things like that only ever make me more sympathetic with the maligned.

And that brings me to my last piece of advice: Resist temptation! You've got plenty of ammunition to do to her what she's hoping to do to you. She's controlling. You had to tiptoe around her. She requires emotional support. She needs rebound advice. She doesn't respect boundaries. And now she's talking like a vindictive bitch. Take the high road, and keep all this to yourself.

As Dan, and others above, have said, KINK, the best solution is indeed to stand by your ground and let the girl do whatever she will do, with full knowledge that, if she outs you, she is the one who is doing the wrong thing, not you. After all, what would you prefer: to have the threat of kind-outing dangling above you like Damocles' proverbial (actually fabulistic) sword, so you could be coerced into doing other things you don't want to do?

After all, there's always the possibility that she won't tell anyone. You didn't make it clear that she would, and maybe she won't. Who knows? She might not be as bad as you think.

And, if she does, not only is she wrong, but anyone who treats you badly because of what she might say to them is equally wrong. If they freak out, that's a point against them, not against you, in your friendship diary.

In other words: you're in a good position, KINK. As they say in my native Portuguese, your face is fine. In the worst case scenario, you'll get to find out something about your friends that may impact your willingness to retain them as friends.
Dan, if you love Antinous,you should read the "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Marguerite Yourcenar. It's one of the best books ever written!
The guy with the hot Latino cocksucker constantly at his door needs to relax and just enjoy it, for God's sake! Or tell him to come over to my place.
@BAAA The word evidence doesn't mean what you think it means.
@BAAA The word 'evidence' doesn't mean what you think it means.
Well put to NWATB, who sounds like quite a decent person. The status quo, as he realizes, is the wrong thing to model.

It was encouraging to see a good night overall for women (most notably Ms Baldwin); 7-4 (discounting CA and NY, which were both F/F) with a slight lead in uncalled ND. (I wonder if Nevada would have been different had there been no NOTA option, but I am so envious of that that I couldn't wish it undone.) It consoles me a little for the distressing realization yesterday that, as far as I can recall, Mrs McMahon is the first woman against whom I have ever voted twice. (Mrs M and the retiring Mr Lieberman are the only two people who have ever run in my state during my lifetime for whom I could never force myself to vote regardless of party or issue.)
@KINK - Said "mutual friends" may be less than thrilled at being blackmailed into dropping you as a friend as the price to pay for staying friends with "vengeful ex". That's junior-high bullshit. When a partner does it, it's called isolating and is a form of abuse.

I certainly would not appreciate a friend telling me who else I could or could not be friends with. The few times it's happened to me as an adult, I told the so-called friend to go to hell and figured they were good riddance.
Just FYI - I'm pagan, and we generally DON'T believe that every other tribe, prophet, and science-fiction writer got it wrong. There are so many different kinds of pagan who worship so many different gods/beings/ideas and very few of us would ever be so arrogant as to assume that ours is the One True Faith. There are many paths to the Water of Life, but every path that leads there is the right one.
It's not inconsistent for BAAA to say something stupid like "there is a great deal of evidence for reincarnation" since the whole purpose of the letter is to disrespectfully get Dan to change his mind about religion. Fortunately Dan put a humorous spin on it; not much else you can do with self-indulgent moralists.
I'm gay and a Buddhist (I follow the Pure Land school, to be specific), and I think BAAA's comments require a slight correction.

Buddhism does NOT require belief in the Judeo-Christian God. While Buddhism does include a number of supernatural elements, including reincarnation and beings like bodhisattvas, one can choose to believe or not believe in gods, whether pagan deities or the God of Abraham.

Also, Buddhism isn't about being right or wrong, and while it may have a lot of disagreements between sects and with other religions, it doesn't say that if you're not Buddhist, you'll come back as a garden slug. It's actually incorporated ideas and beliefs from other religions. For example, Chinese temples often portray Guanyin, a.k.a. the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, in a form similar to the Virgin Mary, complete with a child - that's because Buddhists in China saw the Virgin Mary as a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara when they first saw Catholics carrying statues of her.
@36, what about those of us who don't give a shit about the "Water of Life" and don't need it to lead productive, compassionate and fulfilling lives? Is our path wrong?
I was raised Hindu its just as batshit controlling as Christianity in most cases worse and anyone who tells you different is a moron.

P.S. evidence of reincarnation my ass
@39, no, your path is not wrong. The productive, compassionate and fulfilling life is the point; whatever that means to you or to anybody else.
I was raised Hindu. And I can personal state it's as immoral and sick as any other religion if not worse. It's funny seeing people who think its better because they don't understand it

Evidence for reincarnation my ass
I'm inclined to believe that the problem is not with any particular religion, but rather with the people who interpret it. ANY religion, ANY creed, can be selectively interpreted and twisted around to justify whatever horrible proclivities some people possess.
@39: No. Just don't say ours is if you can't come up with a lick of evidence for why that's so beyond "ridiculous". I think actions and voting habits can be ridiculous, but not stuff that goes on in peoples' brainmeats.
Some people have really loose standards for what qualifies as "evidence."
Sorry BAAA, but Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. When Buddhists talk about a deity, that's just a representation of a mind state, not a reference to a supernatural being.
@25, AFinch

So much of pegging is visual, and yet the view isn't always the best, if you know what I mean, that recording is way too tempting. Also, people often wind up separated from their partners for varying periods of time. It's like a porno where you don't have to pretend that the guy is you.
Hi Dan!

Good luck with your sinus infection. Sinus infections can be so painful and hard to kick... However, I just wanted to let you know that they are one of the few conditions with a famously effective natural remedy available as treatment.

Once you're out of the dangerzone with this one... if comes back, consider treating it with apple cider vinegar, instead of returning to immune-compromising antibiotics.

Apple cider vinegar has natural antiseptic, antibiotic properties, is high in artery-cleansing potassium and thins mucus almost instantly, which is the key element in beating a sinus infection.

You can take a tablespoon in a glass of water, in capsule form, gargle it--- and it really works!

Feel better!!

Cath in Montreal
42: Thank you. A lot of white Americans have a really condescending, imperialist faux-admiration for the Eastern Hemisphere. The "exotic Orient" stereotypes make (dated) eastern cultures seem magical and more enlightened than (dated) western cultures to them.

Because of this, you get a lot of white Americans latching onto a whitewashed, idealized version of eastern religions because they believe this makes them look more open-minded. It's racist when you get down to it, because in the end it's based on idealized caricatures of eastern culture.

As a result, they fail to see how Hinduism has as flawed a history as Christianity, and they think they're being oh-so-enlightened when they offer Hinduism (for instance) as a superior alternative to the hateful small-mindedness of boring ol' "western" Christianity. They're never able to explain what's so enlightened and loving about the caste system, however.

People without this racist attitude are more likely to put eastern religions to the same scrutiny as western ones, and tend to reject them all.
For what it's worth the Antinous cult is still alive - I've been at a few rituals they have presented at an annual pagan conference. Google " Ekklesía Antínoou" and then have lots of fun singing his praises!
And last note in defense of wacky little religions. I couldn't agree more with the statement "I simply don't know how any reasonable person can look at all world religions, living and dead, and come to the conclusion that one particular tribe or prophet or science-fiction writer got it right and every other tribe, prophet, and science-fiction writer got it wrong."

All religions are too nutty to be the one truth faith - but when seen as all of our myriad ways of communicating with the divine two great things happen:

1. You don't need to kill anyone for believing differently.
2. You don't need to look into anyone else's backyard to bring them to the one true faith.

Just wanted to add that in defense of all the sex-positive pagans, Unitarian Universalists,and other folks out there who think religion should inform your own choices and no one elses.
and now Terry is your HUSBAND in America as well as Canada. Congrats Dan, and to all LGBT folk everywhere.
@44 Um, did I say anything at all about anyone's faith being ridiculous? I was a bit flippant about the water of life thing, but that's because I think the term itself sounds kind of new age-y and slightly silly--however, since I have no definition for the term apart from my own guess, I'm not in a position to judge the principle itself, although I imagine it's a nurturing one. I don't have anything against believing in god or religion per se, but I get slightly annoyed when people like BAAA (I erroneously interpreted dragonrose's comment, I'm glad to say) imply that a life without religion is by definition incomplete; are you sure you tried all of them? The idea that people need god to have morals is unfortunately still fairly popular, and I admit that I'm touchy on the subject. The election season rhetoric has not helped this--too many people use religion (or lack thereof) as one more way to drive people apart, and I've come to expect conflict rather than acceptance.
My daughter and ex-husbands are atheists and it works for them. I think something may be out there, but I can't think of any reason why a being that created the entire universe would care about me over anyone else, or my cat or my dog. As far as the afterlife goes, no idea if it exists or not, but Heaven sounds boring, Hell seems like if a human parent inflicted it on a child they would be convicted of child abuse and something I would never ever do to any child of mine. Since I can't imagine God being a worse parent than I am, Hell is completely out of the picture. If there is an afterlife reincarnation makes the most sense because you get to live in the world your choices created, but even then that's only fair if I come back into a world where Al Gore and John Kerry won the election. So spiritual, but not religious and don't care that much. I try to be kind to other people and do unto others as I would want them to do unto me and I don't expect to be rewarded for behaving in what I consider a moral way.

Sorry Dan, I know you don't care, but I babbled on anyway.
When it comes to religion I'm just like Dan. Being raised Catholic and being gay that prompted me to question Catholicism, and eventually leave it, but that isn't the reason I don't believe in religions.

In fact I spent many years trying to find a religion that made sense. I tried the Episcopal church, UU, Paganism and Buddhism. The problem is that none of them really made any sense.

I came to the conclusion that religion was, in addition to being a mechanism for controlling populations and a means of amassing wealth and power for the elite of the religion, just an attempt to fill in our lack of understanding with something that makes us feel comfortable.

The more our knowledge and understanding of the universe increases the smaller the space for religion shrinks.

Religion doesn't answer anything, it just makes us feel good. I decided I would rather strive for understanding than warm fuzzie feelings.

And really, some religions may be better on gay issues than others, and some denominations may sweep the anti gay stuff under the rug and pretend it isn't there, but almost all religions have some anti gay BS in them, from all forms of Christianity, to Wicca, to Buddhism (which has lots of sexism historically embedded in it).

It's nice that practitioners in the more liberal denominations of these religions don't like the anti gay stuff in them, but it is still there.
@47 - fine, but just don't record your face! Seriously: never put in writing or worse, in photograph/film, anything you don't want on the front page of the paper with your name under it. I have learned this the hard way, even posting stuff with a pseudonym (and that was written stuff!).

But yeah, anyone who is going to try to get other people to reject you for sexual hijinks they voluntarily engaged in with you is more likely to look like a fool. I'm sure this guy is (reasonably) terrified of losing his man card, and he just might, if their circle includes <25 women. Even so, the ex will wind up looking like the manipulative crazy person: don't act guilty and you will have no problems; any friends you do lose over it really aren't very good friends.

@26 - AMEN! Suck it Repubes!
@53: I second it!!! Congratulations, Dan & Terry and family, and all the very best to you!!!!!! Amen!!

@26 mydriasis: along with @57 AFinch (re; @26): It's always a pleasure to agree with you!! Suck it and choke on it, Repigs!!!!
Quantum physics has done more to advance my belief in "God" than any religion ever could.
@mydriasis @27: Ha ha!

When dealing with crazy people (I'd guess borderline personality disorder in this case), I'm gonna say the smart move is to cut your losses and bow out of the game altogether.

As for his balls, this woman took them away as soon as he fell for her. If he tries to fight for them back, she'll just take whatever manhood he has remaining and march it around on a pike.
Please don't rule the relationship route out (until you know for sure), I have always looved men who are 20 years or so my senior. We exist (and sometimes we are inordinately shy.)
I also believe in reincarnation. There is a cute movie on this theme: Caótica Ana.
Holy shit, I can't believe this isn't on SLOG yet.

Well done, Mr. Savage, well done.
Reincarnation is a far better metaphor than possible reality. Especially if you scale it down from lifetimes to say, a day.

-Each day we rise and then at the end of the day disappear into sleep for a little while. Each day we act out habits that we've cultivated for days and days prior (or weeks and weeks, or years and years).

-Each day we have an opportunity to observe our habits and decide if acting them out helps or hinders.

I like the story Buddhism offers for this reason--or at least the interpretations I've bought into.

Then again, I like "The Campsite Rule" is almost the same thing.

-The campsite rule demands we look at our relationships/situations and evaluate whether our actions are making those relationships/situations better or worse. It asks us to do the thing that will make them better.

So I'm a big fan of "Campsiteruleism" as well.
Reincarnation is a far better metaphor than possible reality. Especially if you scale it down from lifetimes to say, a day.

-Each day we rise and then at the end of the day disappear into sleep for a little while. Each day we act out habits that we've cultivated for days and days prior (or weeks and weeks, or years and years).

-Each day we have an opportunity to observe our habits and decide if acting them out helps or hinders.

I like the story Buddhism offers for this reason--or at least the interpretations I've bought into.

Then again, I like "The Campsite Rule" is almost the same thing.

-The campsite rule demands we look at our relationships/situations and evaluate whether our actions are making those relationships/situations better or worse. It asks us to do the thing that will make them better.

So I'm a big fan of "CampSiteRuleism" as well.
Anyone know of any statistics on being gay and rejecting the religion in which one was raised? The way I look at it (based on no reading or knowledge of the subject whatsoever), it doesn't make sense for a gay teenager to continue believing in a god that thinks being gay is immoral or punishable. It makes sense to me that gay teens would reach the age of awareness and become atheists. And yet I know that some number of gay people remain in fundamentalist religions or continue believing in a god; they just change to a religion that embraces gay people.

Similarly, there are plenty of straight people who have nothing in their sexuality or lifestyles that would put them at odds with the religion their parents reared them in who think about it and become atheists anyway-- because all that god stuff just doesn't make sense.

Which leads to my question: How does being gay or being straight, how does being brought up in a fundamentalist religion, a liberal theist religion, or in a community of atheists, how does all that affect one's beliefs when people start looking around them and choosing what they believe as adults?
the dude who built the wall that kept Mary Queen of Scots from sneaking into Roman Britain and stealing the scones of stones or something.

Maybe you should write drugged more often. As a historian, that's one hysterical sentence.

Only one thing, there's a big difference between religion & spirituality. Your thoughts about reincarnation and magic dance belts is your spirituality. Once you write about it incessantly, gather followers & enforce their beliefs, then it's become a religion.
I'm much too lazy for reincarnation.

Re: reincarnation

Why does everyone who claims to have had previous lives (or channels someone) claim to have been Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc or a 5000 year old Egyptian prince? Statistically, we should be seeing a lot more peasants, who were born into,lived and died unremarkable lives.
@54: I used "ridiculous" cause that quite sums up all the myriad words I've seen used in reference to religion, not saying you said that specifically. And yeah, I get you on the frustration brought about by the religiously-inspired election rhetoric. If I have to hear "almighty God" uttered by a politician one more freakin time...

It's the choice of language used by atheists like, say, #56 that bug me just as much as the shit evangelists say. HAH, as if "understanding" and "feel good" are diametrically opposed. Man, talk about a narrow view of life.
Thank you 59!
And Dan, I've been a weekly reader since...puberty in the late 80's, and this vicodin addled column is one of your best in a long time.


I echo what Seandr@60 said: Borderline Personality Disorder. Google it.

The things that tipped me off: Controlling. Tip toe. Flipping out. Threats.
You need to turn around and run for the hills. Unless you're cool with emotional manipulations, threats and coercion. Do not respond. Block her calls, emails, etc.

Here's the thing with men and their asses: they all want them touched (by tongues, fingers or objects de jour), but most are too afraid to ask.

@7, Part II: Back from my Buddy break----GO, DEMS!!!!!
What a helluva party!!! Now the Repigs are as PISSED OFF
as I was 8 years ago!!!! And they're losing a lot of Tea Bag
puppets to boot!!!


Bravo, Dan--especially on vicodin!!
When they say there is evidence for reincarnation, I HOPE they mean reincarnation in the sense Buddha meant, and NOT the sense that Westerners usually interpret reincarnation. Westerners look at everything through Judeo-Christian eyes, they think reincarnation means your immortal soul moving from a dead body to a living body. Buddha taught that when you die, your energy becomes new life, but that new life is NOT the same person as the old life. In that sense, reincarnation is consistent with science. Molecules turn from one thing into another thing.

So yeah, Buddhism actually is compatible with an atheist and materialist worldview. So is Daoism, and probably a few other religions. The problem is, religion is work. I don't see the point of pressuring people to get into something that is a lot of work. It's like urging everybody to play football.

Your ex has borderline personality disorder. I married into a family of them two decades ago. The reason for staying eventually becomes to protect your kids, and the fear that the false allegations will get much worse after you leave. Thank antinous or the flying spaghetti monster that you got out when you did and she can only torment you for a while.

Aheh...yes, @60, my bete noir was indeed bpd and yes, she did try very hard to completely destroy me, but then, she'd developed a rep. for that, and like the little boy who cries wolf too often, people get a clue.
@69, which makes General George Patton an interesting case, (whether you believe in reincarnation or not) since he believed that he had been reincarnated many times, and always as an ordinary soldier, never anyone famous.
KINK, next time you see your friends say "OMG you won't believe what she did. And now she is threatening to ruin my friendship with you guys"

Premimtive strike, they won't believe anything she tells them.
Just for the record, Buddhism does not believe in a supreme being or god, and it's view of reincarnation is much subtler and philosophically nuanced than the popular, new age 'new pair of shoes for the same feet' nonsense. One of the Buddha's primary teachings was the non-existence of any kind of inherently existing self, so what is it that reincarnates?

The main point of the Buddha was to teach people to clearly see reality, not swallow doctrine and belief systems unquestioned. And seeing reality sets you free. Yeah, maybe it's work, but leading a meaningful life is worth working for.
KINK's got two worries: that his ex will try to get all their mutual friends to "choose" her over him, and that she will tell everyone about his pegging interest, which will result in . . . what? Embarrassment, I guess.

So, one by one:
If she tries to get friends to "choose," some will inevitably choose her over you, especially if she uses lies to make her sound like a villain. All you can do is to try and maintain your own friendships. Some people will see what she's doing and refuse to go along; some will see what she's doing and feel that for some complicated reason (who they knew first, gender-loyalty, whatever) they have to be only her friend. As time goes by and the drama simmers down, either your friends will return or you will go on without them and make new friends.

Yup, people may know one of your preferred sexual acts. Most of them won't care. This only has the power to hurt you if you invest it with that power.

You've done more than enough for this ex. Now just move on with your life.
Whoops: that should have read "make *you* sound like a villain," not make her sound like one!
There is absolutely no reason to believe in God in order to remain a thoughtful, compassionate person. None of the religions can ever get it more right than each individual's personal take on the matter. If there's a God, S/He has no preferences whatsoever about what you believe, or whether or not you believe in Him/Her at all.
I have no idea why people think that Buddhism or Hinduism are more tolerant toward homosexuality on a religious level. Is it the presence of Thai or Indian ladyboys? Their cultures might not have as much homophobia, but they are certainly heteronormative. Tibetan Buddhism is particularly intolerant toward homosexuality, in general. None of this means anything when one is talking about individual Buddhists (or Hindus).
And what's with this "Buddhism is..." crap? Mahayana? Theravada? Tibetan? Japanese? Jack Kerouac's psuedo-honky Buddhism? Every culture's version is different (and Mahayana Buddhists, by the way, tend to diefy the Buddha more than the others).
On heteronormativity in an Asian context, I'd recommend reading Tom Boellstorff's work (although much of his work is in Indonesia).
As a fellow atheist, I don't understand why people assume they know the reason why we became atheists. I'm queer, but like Dan, that really had little to do with my choice to give up Catholicism. It really is because supernatural beings seem really unlikely. As far as I know, that's the reason *most* people are atheists. People tend to assume we have some specific reason that we're "angry at god" and thus choose not to believe in him as a way of lashing out. Ridiculous.

BAAA sort of reminds me of those religious folks who want atheists to say that their religion isn't so bad. Greta Christina calls this the "Atheist Seal of Approval". I highly recommend her blog post about it:…
@35- it's defiantly a jerk move but it's also definately not abuse. The unfortunate consequence of that word getting thrown around is that jerk behavior gets a seat at the table when genuine abuse is being discussed. Its just being a jk and it's obviously very different than someone isolating an individual to increase their control.
@63- that's a funny link, nice.

The drone attacks, murdering american citizens abroad and constant pandering to corporate America alone is enough to make me believe that this whole election deal is a dog and pony show, just me ?
@69 "Statistically, we should be seeing a lot more peasants, who were born into,lived and died unremarkable lives."

If there is reincarnation, how many distinct people are there? Did your answer account for a non-linear time-stream and the greatly increased world population?

Given your acknowledgement of the utter banality of most lives, why should anyone recall or remark upon those trips through life?

Really, if there is this type of reincarnation, I'd actually expect a lot more of these types of recollections.
70: Nothing in post #56 suggests to me that he believes "understanding" and "feeling good" to be diametrically opposed. It's more like he's suggesting that they are also not mutually inclusive, and that religion doesn't accomplish both like it claims to: it only accomplishes the "feel good" part while claiming to also explain some of how the universe works.

I'd argue that religion (Christian, Pagan, or otherwise) is more guilty of the equally narrow converse viewpoint of "understanding in order to feel good." Scientific philosophy, if done honestly, looks at something we don't know and says, "gee; we honestly don't know how that works. Let's look into that and maybe someday we will know." Accepting that there are gaps in humanity's knowledge suggests a comfort with the world regardless of what we currently understand and what we don't.

Religion, organized or not, looks at those same gaps in knowledge and demands that they be filled with guesswork: man-made myths and assertions with no evidence to suggest that they're actually real and no method to rule out other possibilities. To me, this seems far more indicative of a need to understand in order to be happy than merely saying "we don't know, but maybe we will someday."

It's also more narrow-minded. When we don't know something, the possible explanations are endless. It could be "God's work." It could be "several goddess' work." It could be telekinesis, or chakra flow, or a hallucination, or some strange behavior of subatomic particles, or ghosts. It could be a hoax. It could be an optical illusion. It could be a placebo effect. It could be something that humanity hasn't even imagined and doesn't even have words for. But the second someone declares (for example), "Oh; you were healed because of this crystal's healing energy," they're ruling out all the other possibilities artificially. They're simply declaring them to be invalid, based on nothing more than their word and their own preconceived belief.

Demanding proof, on the other hand, sounds more narrow-minded but it isn't. When you demand proof, you're acknowledging that there are several possibilities, but that whatever is actually true will indicate itself to be true on its own, regardless of anyone's "authority" as a priest or a shaman or a yogi or a healer. A person's say-so doesn't count as proof (and it should be obvious to anyone why this is a good thing).

And if no proof for any one answer is provided, then no one answer should be given.
Well, look at that! I happen to *be* a gay man and a devotee of Antinous. Thank you for spreading awareness!

Just a couple observations: Antinous didn’t become a god because of Hadrian. Anyone who drowned in the Nile became a god, regardless of social standing. Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Emperor is your boyfriend to help get your cultus established, but it wasn’t the reason he was made a god. Also, Antinous is not just a gay god, or a god for gay people. Most of the people who participated in his cultus in the ancient world were not gay. Placing Antinous in a box labeled “gay” limits him unnecessarily, in my opinion. Part of what appeals to me is his homoerotic nature of his relationship with Hadrian, but it doesn’t define him as a god.

For those actually interested in participating in devotion to Antinous, some recources:…

Well, look at that! I happen to *be* a gay man and a devotee of Antinous. Thank you for spreading awareness!

Just a couple observations: Antinous didn’t become a god because of Hadrian. Anyone who drowned in the Nile became a god, regardless of social standing. Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Emperor is your boyfriend to help get your cultus established, but it wasn’t the reason he was made a god. Also, Antinous is not just a gay god, or a god for gay people. Most of the people who participated in his cultus in the ancient world were not gay. Placing Antinous in a box labeled “gay” limits him unnecessarily, in my opinion. Part of what appeals to me is his homoerotic nature of his relationship with Hadrian, but it doesn’t define him as a god.

For those actually interested in participating in devotion to Antinous, some recources:…

@80: Good advice.

Expend no effort in either combat with the ex or trying to rescue her. If she continues with her negativity for more than a few months, it will become learned behavior. People like this feed off of tragedy, and she will generate it among her circle of friends should you or some subsequent target fail to provide her with it.

'Well adjusted' people will overlook negativity (and a bit of kink). That's the sort of people you want to associate with. So, in a way she is doing you a favor. Her forcing a choice is providing you with a litmus test for sanity among your mutual circle of acquaintances.

On the other hand, the 'tragedy club' tends to aggressively protect and expand its membership. If you play her game, you too will reinforce this behavior in yourself. And you will become trapped in a community of losers.
@84 - That's exactly what I get from my mom when I try to explain my atheism to her. "Oh, you're just mad at god." Dammit woman, how can I be mad at something that doesn't exist? I get pissed off at his followers, but that doesn't translate as anger at the invisible sky-father. It is so unbelievably frustrating to tell someone exactly how you think and feel, only to have them turn around and say, no, this is REALLY what you're feeling.
@8: Agreed; as far as I'm aware, the evidence for reincarnation is at a level somewhere between "zero" and "none", much like any religious claim (which can have no evidence - if there's actual evidence, your belief in it is definitionally not "faith", and what you're doing is no longer "religion").
@84: Supernatural beings aren't just unlikely, they're fundamentally impossible. We, more or less, define "natural" as "real" in this context. Anything that impacts the natural world cannot be completely removed from it - if it was, it couldn't impact the natural world. "Supernatural" thus means that something cannot impact, exist in, etc. the natural (or "real") world, and therefore has the same definition as "imaginary" - unless the supernatural is necessarily defined as something that CAN impact the natural world, in which case it isn't' supernatural at all, but simply unexplained by present models of the natural world. There is plenty about how the natural world works that we don't know (or about which we might be wrong), but those things aren't "supernatural", we're just wrong or ignorant about them. If intelligent beings can violate physical laws by force of will, then the conclusion is that we're wrong about physical laws, as they are not, in fact, constant, not that something is "supernatural" ("imaginary"). Any argument about "realms of existence" or "states of being" can't circumvent the ontological paradox - if it's real and at all interacts with what we call the natural world, then it is not in fact separate from the natural world (and were it to be real, we'd need to revise our naturalistic models to account for the new evidence, as we do when we discover new evidence that contradicts old models).

For example, were telekinesis real, it would not be "supernatural", but in fact an unexplained natural phenomenon, by definition. Clearly, our models of how matter and energy interact would need to be tweaked to account for people being able to generate energy in their brains in such a way that it can exert force on objects by means other than nerve impulses causing muscle contractions. The project of science is to create explanatory and predictive models for reality; anything real, therefore, is not somehow outside the 'realm' of science. People making that claim (or similar ones) either don't understand science, don't understand the (proposed) phenomenon they're discussing, or both.

Basically, any and all proposed gods have some impact on the real world (why else hypothesize them?); therefore, they are subject to the same evidentiary rules as any other real thing - we'd be able to see evidence of their impacts. We don't, so like anything else we can imagine but for which there is no evidence, we don't believe in them. This is the quick way to refute any supernatural claims, and the only way apologetics has to argue around it is equivocation. Force someone to stick to a single, explicit definition of a given word ("real", "natural", "god", etc.), and they can't get around the ontological paradox of the "supernatural".
@70 As an atheist, your special pleading annoys me as much as, if not more than, our word choice annoys you.

I think that I should be able to call ridiculous ideas ridiculous. I don't think any wild, crazy, unsupported, unverifiable claims should be treated with respect.

And that is pretty much how most people feel on every topic except religion. I can scoff at any silly claim unless it is about god or is woo-y, then I'm supposed to pretend that nonsense is worthy of consideration.

Absolutely not. Will not do that.
So nice to see Terry referred to as "husband" instead of "HICBIW." Happy gay marriage, Washington!
@70 :"It's the choice of language used by atheists like, say, #56 that bug me just as much as the shit evangelists say. HAH, as if "understanding" and "feel good" are diametrically opposed. Man, talk about a narrow view of life."

Since I didn't say that I don't know what your problem is.

I never said that understanding and feeling good were somehow mutually exclusive.

Religion itself offers feeling good, but no understanding. In fact religion leads you away from understanding. Religion is a one trick pony.

The alternative, to seek understanding, can bring either feeling good or distress, depending on what it is you come to understand.

I am just saying that I'll take understanding, even when it comes with distress, over the hollow good feelings of religion any day.

When understanding comes with good feelings that's great, but even when it doesn't it's still a damn site better than the shallow good feelings of religion.

Religion is like a twinkie. It might taste good to many people, but it has no nutritional value. Better to eat a healthy meal than the twinkie, and if you can find an healthy meal that tastes good too then you have a double win.
I just thought I'd mention, Dan--after, GREAT COLUMN!!-- that the majority of the world's religions, such as Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism--do NOT claim to have the "only truth". Even Jews believe their truth is for them only, and not you or me.

And for the guy who said reincarnationists are lazy: No, sir. We are VERY BUSY ENSURING WE DON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS CRAP AGAIN. We do it by performing good works and trying to change the world for the better, like Dan does. So, in terms of reincarnationist belief, Dan is already "saved" (a misnomer, because souls CAN'T "give up") and he doesn't need to believe in or change a thing.
"She flipped out and has threatened to force all our mutual friends to pick her over me."

Seems like a great way to get rid of extraneous second-rate "friends".
@94 - I'm with you in spirit, although not in words, because my experience of religious people is not as polarizing as yours. Most European religious people are pretty discreet on their religious beliefs and don't proselytize - while I gather many American religious people are a pain in the ass. Dubyah springs to mind.

I won't call some ridiculous ideas "ridiculous" when I see they mean so much to the people who hold them, as long as they don't try force me into sharing them.

Some people, including me sometimes, need some ridiculous ideas to help them stand day-to-day life. As long as those ideas do not foster acts or words that hurt others - why should we intervene ?

Prime example : Santa Claus. I let my kids believe in Santa if they want. I never tell them that he positively exists, and I often mention I never saw him myself. By the way I think the American NASA tracking of Santa Claus is way overboard - it's positively ridiculous. But hey, to each his own ; in Europe most people don't know your space agency tracks child tales, so everything's all right. The day one of my children told me Santa doesn't exist, I answered back, OK, you've found out that by yourself, good job, but don't spoil the fun for the younger ones. Let them enjoy it, then question it, at their own pace.

Ridiculous ideas are not always bad for one's health.
I'm starting to think it's way more common than people realize for men to like being pegged.
I love me some Red Sea Pedestrians, and the last writer might enjoy listening with his ears open:…
@99 First of all, religion does foster acts and words that hurt others. Even Europeans see that happening. I don't think you can plead ignorance of this just because it isn't happening next to you on the bus.

Second, I think children are a special case.

I would be very interested in knowing some other example you can think of, non religious, of an adult having an ridiculous idea where you shouldn't point out that it is a ridiculous idea. Where you should pretend like the ridiculous idea is valid and as likely as not.

I am not claiming we should all be Lt. Cmdr. I actually have ridiculous ideas, myself. Data. But, if somebody points out that it's a ridiculous idea, I don't whinge.
It is one thing to point out that organised religion has hurt and continues to hurt a lot of people. Most religious people I know wouldn't disagree with that.

But there are a lot of religious people who don't hurt anyone else by believing what they believe. You don't have to tell them every time you see them that believing in higher beings is ridiculous. That is a case for "live and let live".

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