(And how would those of us in Phoenix know what that's like?)

The Phoenix message group just doesn't seem to be taking off, so I'm going to do something that's anathema to me - I'm going to try to start a discussion. Yes, it's a calculated effort, and we here in Phoenix are deprived because we don't get to start many conversations about the weather.

"How about that weather?"

"Just like yesterday, eh?"

"Too right, and the day before... and the month before..."

So, the question that always comes to my mind is, what do you talk about when the explicit topic of discussion is defined by a concept that is so broad and unfocused?

"Phoenix"? I've lived here (since moving from my childhood home of Tucson) since 1982, and what is there to say? It's a city. People live here. People, who, as far as I can tell, have no defining characteristic because of the high immigration rates here.

...and then there's "Atheists"

Where do we start talking about? Do we talk philosophically, or practicality?

Philosophy: "What is the 'argument from evil'? or "Is 'agnostic' a pointless weasel-term developed by someone who wanted to be a lawyer?"

Practical: "Does a Eucharist make good bait in a mouse trap?" or "What do you say when the god-squad comes to your door trying to mind-infect your children?"

(Just as a note on the side, if, when they come to my door, they have a teenager with them, I try to make an effort to jump start the kids' mind in the moments I have before they depart. However, that can backfire, for example, one time it turns out that old fart dragging the kid around must have been her grandfather. She didn't seem to appreciate it when I called him an insane old maggot. Oh well, live and learn.)

So, given these rather broad topics, the intersection of each seems somewhat nebulous, at best, where do we go from here?

What do they talk about at the meet-ups that were mentioned elsewhere? Is it a non-stop polemic on religion destroying the world? A spirited debate on the color of Russell's teapot? (For the record: it's Blue Willow) or, if it's like a meeting of my friends, a spirited discussion on how the pilot of Space: 1999 could have been re-written to blast the moon out of Earth's orbit without violating the laws of physics and/or destroying both the Earth and moon at the same time. (That may say more about me than I care to reveal. :-) )

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Well, one of us will talk back.

God-squad, the bane of my existence. When the god bothers come banging on my door, it's pot luck what they'll get. I'm the atheist in the house, my Sweetie is a Quaker and my son is Celtic Pagan.

I hit them hard with the questions they can't answer

Sweetie tells them to mind their own business and shut up

The Celt ask why their god is any better than his goddess

We see lots of confused faces on our front porch.
First off, I'm not sure how many cold rainy nights we get in Phoenix. So I imagine the goal would be to "Quick! Make the most of it!"

Talking about the weather:
I'm guilty of this as I am not the master of social encounters and can stumble over what to talk about.

Initiating conversation about Atheism:
Rarely. Much as I would like to see the world rid of this brain virus, it is morally not my place to actively 'convert' any more than any religious person trying to convert me.

However, the subject often comes up organically. With religion or lack thereof being such an important part of so many of our lives, one of the first things we naturally like to know about someone we've met is where they stand on the subject. So a lot of testing-of-the-waters type conversation comes up. "When I went to church..." "Once upon a time when I was Christian..." My pentagram necklace is a great source of conversation, eliciting relief and comfort from pagans and atheists, and interesting "What is that devil symbol" from Christians.

Xians knocking on my door:
I usually love talking with these folk. For one, there's a good chance I'm more versed in the bible than they are. And agreed - the younger they are, the more eager I am to plant the seeds of freethought.

I used to be a tour guide in Sedona. Once in a while we do get the conservative Christian family booking a tour ... in a town known for New Age and Geology, with the most New-Agey sounding tour company, with a tour guide wearing a tye-dye peace shirt and a pentagram, then act all surprised and offended that we talk about the science the brochure says we're going to talk about.

Anyway, I can usually spot the god squad long before they identify themselves as such and if they have kids with them, I make damn sure to include lots of phrases in my spiel like "Following the concepts to their logical conclusion..." "What makes us knowledgeable is holding our own beliefs up to scrutiny..."
Wow, the original post is so old I don't even remember writing it. :-)
In other words, very few cold, rainy nights, hence few posts?



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