Stranded in New York

Today I received a text message from my friend Larry (“LD”), one he obviously sent to several people, and a follow-up to a private message I had received from him several days ago, explaining his situation.

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“Ok everyone this is the message I have been trying to avoid but I am out of options. So here goes. As most of u know I made a move at the first of the month back to ny. Well things went tits up from the start. We had car problems on the way up. We get that sorted and we get here only to find that the place we had secured to stay at decided that we couldn’t stay there. So for the last 3 weeks now we have been trying our best to sort ourselves out. We contacted dss for emergency help and they turned us away. We have scratched and clawed to try and get things sorted and have failed. We have been now officially homeless for about three weeks now with no shower, no Internet to look for work, nothing. So all we want now is to get home or at least out of ny. So I ask all my friends to pull together and help us get out of new York and get to a place where we can help ourselves survive be it back in Texas or Indiana, but somewhere we can have a chance to survive because it isn’t here. So please if u are willing to help me my mom and 14yr old brother get away and have a chance at life please let me know. I know times are tough for everyone but I hope someone of u guys can help out as we are homeless now and living in my car that is out of gas. Thank you.”

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LD is too proud to ask for help, which is how I know he is desperate at this point. After his original [private] message to me I set up a fundraiser with GiveForward, per some advice from “The Friendly Atheist,” Hemant Mehta. So please, please, if you can donate even a little bit that would be greatly appreciated. I just want my friend to come back home at this point. If you cannot afford to make a donation, please spread the word.

The “Stranded in New York” fundraiser at GiveForward is set up so that donations will be sent directly to LD’s Paypal account.

Please donate @ http://www.giveforward.com/strandedinnewyork

 

 

 

God “chose” Adam Hubbs… why?

This Thanksgiving between football games, a touching piece was aired about a young boy named Adam Hubbs who suffered a stroke and is having to learn to cope with his disabilities. The boy was given the privilege of spending an entire day with the Denver Broncos’ Tim Tebow, one of those annoying Christians who feels the need to publicly thank god for everything that happens to him on the football field while ignoring what this insinuates about god’s feelings toward the other team and players.

But that’s a separate rant which I think I’ve gone through already somewhere in the last ninety-nine posts on this blog. By the way, this is post number one hundred! Huzzah, and all that.

Anyway, during the story Adam said at one point, “God chose me because I’m strong enough to get through it.”

That’s what I’m interested in learning a little more about. That belief, that god specifically chose Adam for the stroke because he knew Adam could get through it, raises a couple questions.

The first question is why did god have to choose anybody at all? “He’s god,” you might say, “he doesn’t have to do anything.” That doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense but okay, I’ll bite. If he doesn’t have to do anything, why was there a decision to be made at all? Perhaps god could have simply not made a decision. Would nobody have then received a stroke? Why is there an unassigned stroke lying around god’s house, anyway? Does god just have extra strokes laying around, along with lists of young children who may be strong enough to handle them? Why would god even have these extra strokes strewn about? He’s god – he made them. Why? Can he un-make a stroke? Or once a stroke is made does it have to be administered? Could god have chosen somebody even stronger than Adam Hubbs? Why didn’t he? Was Adam strong, but not too strong? Just the right amount of strong, I suppose. Maybe each stroke requires a particular amount of strength; no more, no less, and Adam’s stroke was perfectly suited for him.

The second question is why does god give strokes to people who don’t survive them, or who remain comatose and unresponsive afterward, or who find they can barely function and consider themselves to be a bane on society? Did god assume they, like Adam, would be strong enough to pull through? That would raise concerns about god’s precognition. Or did god have other reasons for giving those people strokes? Did those people do something terrible so that they deserved the strokes they didn’t survive? Whereas on the other hand there’s Adam, who’s so strong he deserves a stroke just to prove it.

I guess the moral dilemma is if god causes bad things to happen to bad people and also bad things to happen to good people then why, for god’s sake, be good at all?

I thought the story as a whole was incredibly touching. I’m glad, for Adam’s sake and for the sake of his family and friends, that he survived his stroke. There’s no doubt that for a young child to go through something like that and still find joy in life takes plenty of strength and courage. Heck, as much as I dislike Tim Tebow for his vanity on the field I’ll give him credit for being a super-great, charitable guy off the field. In fact, it was only the one line, that Adam was chosen to be the recipient of a life-threatening stroke by an allegedly all-powerful god who could have prevented the stroke from happening in the first place, that irritates me.

You would suppose an infinitely powerful being gave you a stroke simply because he figures you’re tough enough to handle it, and you would continue to worship that being? It seems like a lot of religious folks have a pretty sado-masochistic relationship with their god.

Happy one hundredth, loyal followers. I wanted to do something special for you but I couldn’t think of anything, so I hope you enjoyed this opinion piece instead.

Ass-u-me

So the company I work for is doing some charity work and we’re trying to spread the word about it. That’s fine, right? Right. Typically when we do something like this, we’ll have a little pow-wow at work and when the charity event comes up, whoever’s leading the meeting will say something like “Give these flyers to your neighbors, your friends, ask your spouse/loved one to take some to work with them, or take a stack to church.” That’s totally fine, too. I can do three of those four things and a lot of other people can do the fourth. Great. Spread the word, raise money, and we’re all happier people.

But this morning that wasn’t the line they used. The person leading the meeting said, and I quote, “All of you go to church, right?” That struck me as being kind of odd. They corrected themselves, saying, “At least most of you?” But the damage had been done. Being that I (and at least one other atheist that I know of) were in attendance, the obvious answer to the original question was a big fat no. Statistically speaking, the majority of people attending the meeting probably adhered to one religion or another, and it would probably be safe to say that most were Christian. But if we’re still speaking statistically, most of the people in attendance probably don’t attend church regularly (source from four years ago).

Isn’t that strange? The speaker just made a pretty huge (and most likely inaccurate) assumption, and it just seemed a little biased to me. The speaker might as well have said “Most of you believe in god, right?” which would have been more likely, but just as inappropriate. Statistically, I’d bet that most of us in attendance were heterosexual and it was obvious that most of us were caucasian, but I think everybody would agree that to say “You guys are all straight, right?” would be incredibly inappropriate and may even result in the loss of a job.

Maybe it’s just me, but I was at least a little offended by the assumption that was made. No, I won’t take it to Human Resources because I happen to be friends with the person who said it and would hate for them to get in trouble (even though that would be unlikely), especially as the result of what was possibly just a faux pas. I maintain, however, that it would have been far more appropriate to have said something like “If you go to church, take some of these with you.”

Is my being offended just an overreaction? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not seething over this and if I weren’t taking the time to make a post about it I’d probably have forgotten about the whole thing by tomorrow anyway, but the whole situation just made me go “Hm, that was odd.”

World Wildlife Fund & SocialVibe

The World Wildlife Fund logo, inspired by Chi Chi.

Image via Wikipedia

If I had to pick my three favorite charities, they’d probably be the World Wildlife Fund, Human Rights Campaign, and Toys For Tots, in that order. Easily, the charity which receives the most of my money is the WWF. If I’m a small-time philanthropist, I’m a big-time whatever-the-term-similar-to-philanthropy-but-pertaining-to-animals-is. Seriously, is there a word for that? Zoophiliac has sexual connotations so I’d prefer not to use it. Anyway, the point is that I give a lot of money annually (including regular automatic monthly donations and irregular sporadic donations) to the World Wildlife Fund.

This is why I’ve chosen to “represent” WWF with the SocialVibe widget. For those of you unaware of what SocialVibe is or does, here’s a brief summary directly from their website:

With SocialVibe, individuals make a positive, measurable impact for the charity of their choice just by completing branded activities. In just over a year’s time, the SocialVibe community has raised over $700,000 for over forty different non-profits.

In other words, you and I go to the SocialVibe page, choose our favorite charity, and then complete free quizzes or surveys (which I’ve never seen ask for any personal information) submitted by big-name brands. Those brands then make a small donation to your chosen charity simply because you took a minute (seriously, they never really take longer than that) of your time to complete a quick, simple activity.

With that all said, you may click the widget located at the very bottom of any page, next to the RSS icon, to complete one of those activities. Ideally it’d be in the sidebar, but I’ve noticed that the items in the sidebar are only visible when visiting the main page. In any case, it is what it is. Every little bit counts toward WWF who are working to slow the production of dangerous and harmful greenhouse gases. If you could please just do one activity, as long as you’re visiting my site anyway. Any and all help is appreciated. Thanks!