Wishing you a Joyous Estrus!

japanese_festival.jpgBy Tom Riddering

Quick! What do eggs, flowers, the East, maidens dancing around phallic symbols, the vernal equinox, fecund rabbits, chicks, flowers, Mardi Gras, estrus cycles, and Christianity all have in common? SEX!

Well, Christians actually call it Easter, named after Eastre, the Germanic fertility goddess, which comes from the same origin as the word "east." Why east? That's where the sun rises! The same spring sun that shines on those brightly colored chicken ova and brings new life to the earth -- flowers, chicks, bunnies, and the occasional god.  Jesus wasn't the only god allegedly reborn around the vernal equinox. There was also Adonis, Osiris, Perseus, and Orpheus.

Spring is when we have the licentious festivals of Mardi Gras, Carnival, and the ancient Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia. It's when the Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) is celebrated in Japan. Nothing subtle about those Buddhists and Shinto! It's when pre-Christian pagans all over the earth celebrated the return of life after the dark death of winter and propitiated their gods for a successful growing season by celebrating their fertility. The early Christian church couldn't eradicate this popular festival, so they hijacked it and assigned new theological meaning to it. But under all that sanctimonious piety, Easter is nothing but the spring fertility rites. Now that's something even atheists can celebrate!

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President's Column "Our Atheist Community"

watland_gardens12.jpgBy Bjorn Watland

What makes Minnesota Atheists different?  In the Twin Cities alone, there are many groups which could fall under the "Freethought" banner.  There is a student group - the Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists of the University of Minnesota - and non-student groups like the Humanists of Minnesota, Atheists for Human Rights, and Minneapolis Skeptics.  As I wrote last month, Minnesota Atheists' slogan is, "Positive Atheism in Action."  What does that say about these other groups?  Are they negative?  Hardly.  We are a diverse group, with many different political opinions and different thoughts about how to dialog with religious people, but the organization as a whole acts in a certain way, which I believe attracts curious atheists.

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Can you be moral without heaven and hell?

By Bjorn Watland
Do people behave better the older they get, because they fear "Judgement Day?"  Are the problems of our economy due to actions made by people who believe there is no heaven or hell?  David Lebedoff seems to think so in his opinion piece at the Star Tribune.
The reaction from Minnesota Atheists should not be surprising.  Of course I think that people can and do behave well, regardless of whether they fear a punishment prescribed by theology.  In fact, I think it is more noble to act irregardless of such demands and to make choices based on principle rather than dogma.
I reject the claim that most of the decisions which have been made about our economy have been made by people who do not believe in a heaven or hell based on polling which indicate that atheists and people who do not believe in heaven or hell are in a minority status in this country.  Our government is a secular government, but we are a diverse nation, full of decision makers who are believers and non believers.
Our current economic situation needs level headed, rational thinking, and not attempts to associate George Orwellian thinking to blame those who choose to reason in the natural world with all of its problems without regard to a supernatural concept of eternal punishment or reward.
As an atheist, I am offended by Mr. Lebedoff's claim and could counter that, using his reasoning, we should fear any attempts to accelerate tensions in Israel in order to bring about the Apocalypse.  Apocalyptic thinking could be blamed for ignoring the current economic crisis, as well as impending environmental problems for our planet, because it is all a part of the End Times.
If you find Mr. Lebedoff's claim compelling, consider what doors his theory opens.  What a waste of resources to sling mud over each other's views on theology when what is called for is cool headed reasoning.  Minnesota Atheists and those who do not believe in eternal punishment or reward will not stand to be discriminated against so broadly for the world's troubles.
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Lunatic Fringe (God as fashion designer)

vic_head_small.jpgBy Vic Tanner

There are many good, rational reasons for not believing in gods. Logically, the existence of one is very low, and scientifically there just isn't any real evidence. But, for some reason, I always gravitate toward the really stupid reasons. Like religious clothing.

According to the Judeo-Christian myths, God created mankind naked. It was Adam and Eve's idea to invent clothes, not God's. God didn't even seem to be real keen on the idea of clothes at first, but once the ball started rolling, God caught on pretty quickly.

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Final Exit President, Jerry Dincin, April 19 1 p.m., Ridgedale Public Library

539w.jpgBy George Kane

The Final Exit Network provides counseling and instruction to those who wish to end their lives. According to their web site, "Final Exit Network is the only organization in the United States that will help individuals who are not ‘terminally ill' - 6 months or less to live - to hasten their deaths." Our speaker for the April 19 public meeting, Jerry Dincin, became the president of FEN one month ago, when the previous president, Ted Goodwin, was arrested by the state of Georgia for alleged direct participation in the suicide of a long-time member. The arrest of several FEN officers and the seizure of all of their bank accounts culminated a multi-state sting operation.

Opposition to assisted suicide is based on religious conviction of the "sanctity of life," to the exclusion of consideration for the quality of life and for personal dignity. When, after several trials, Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted in Michigan and sent to prison, Minnesota Atheists recognized him in absentia with an award for his courageous defiance of religion-based law in service to his clients. The Final Exit Network follows the path Dr. Kevorkian blazed in support of the self-determination of life outcomes.

Jerry Dincin will speak not only of the mission of the Final Exit Network, but we hope also of the criminal case against them in Georgia. Due to his flight schedule, his presentation will begin at 1:00, and will conclude by 2:30. For this meeting we will return to the Ridgedale Library, 12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka. The Business Meeting will follow afterward, and at 4:00 there will be a dinner buffet at Wanderer's Garden, 13059 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka.

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