This E-mail was sent to me after my dad heard that I went to UC Davis to hear a lecture presented by PZ Myers. After he had heard about where I had been his response was, "I'll bet he said jesus did not exist, because he is as full of sh@t as a christmas turkey." A few days latter I received an E-mail with a link to this article, so I addressed each of the paragraphs and gave my oppinion.

Hope whom ever reads this enjoys.

Here is the E-mail my dad sent me:

Feminism, women's liberation, and the idea that men and women are no different from each other have led many of us down dead-end roads -- often away from faith.

Lorraine Murray, in her book, Confessions of an Ex-Feminist (Ignatius Press, 2008), tells the story of her own walk down that road and back, with many illuminating lessons on everything from abortion to the anti-religious bias on college campuses.

Murray grew up in a Christian home, eagerly attending Mass at church, and absorbing what she was taught in the Catholic schools she attended. Against the advice of one of her teachers, she decided to study at a secular college, and it was there that her faith and her values began to unravel. As she describes it, up until then, she'd rarely run into people who didn't believe in God. In college, it seemed as though no one did. She writes that she began to equate becoming an adult with turning her back on God.

She lapped up feminist ideology and rejected the morality and values she'd been taught, including those about abortion. Like most of her peers, she began having relationships with men. But as an avowed feminist, she couldn't understand the emotional pain she suffered when the relationships ended. By her own admission, she was searching for Prince Charming, even though she knew she was supposed to be unconcerned with commitment.

After her mother's death while in graduate school, Murray, in her own words, "launched a vendetta against God," doing her best to convince her students that God didn't exist.

She offers interesting insight into how being a college professor allowed her to do that. "As my philosophy students tackled topics like the meaning of life and the existence of God, I knew that, ideally, instructors are supposed to remain neutral. But I also recalled, from my own college days, how skillfully some professors had dodged this expectation." She writes that there are innumerable ways professors let their students know what they want to hear: "a chuckle, a grimace, or a wink and a nod."

Her attitude about politics was much the same. Having become a staunch liberal, she writes that like many professors, she "assumed college was the place to challenge and dismantle traditions. Conservative thought, almost by definition, was the dragon to slay in the classroom, and few students had the courage to disagree with a strongly opinionated professor."

Nonetheless, she writes that she believes the "Hound of Heaven" was pursuing her, in ways large and small. She got married, and recounts about a memorable experience she had while spending time with her husband in Cedar Key, Florida. Anchored out in the gulf on a small boat, they suddenly heard a loud splash and saw the heads of two manatees pop out of the water. The manatees peered at them before disappearing underwater again. "The atheist in the boat," Murray writes, "stunned by their eyes, which seemed so deeply innocent and mysterious, now uttered a rather strange statement: 'It was like looking into the face of God!'" Later she would write in her journal that she believed she'd gotten a glimpse of God's face here on earth.

After dinner one night, the image of a nearby church flashed into her mind. She asked her husband to take a walk there with her to see it, and he did. Once home again, they talked about their childhood beliefs about God and religion. And she confided in him about her "perplexing feeling that 'someone' was calling me.'"

Both of them decided they wanted to explore further, and they met with a local Catholic priest. Kneeling in the church, Murray remembered the story of the Good Shepherd going after the one lost sheep. That night, for the first time in 20 years, she prayed: "Help me to believe."

Murray then movingly tells readers the story of the abortion she'd had years before. "No one," she writes, "had prepared me for the flashbacks, which began about a year after the 'procedure'....I would relive the experience....I started having upsetting reactions to babies....A question started plaguing me: How old would my baby have been now?"

One night, her husband, Jef, encouraged her to attend an Advent penance service, where confessions would be heard. It had been years since she'd been to confession, but reluctantly, she went. With tears streaming down her face, this former feminist and long-time defender of abortion told the priest what she'd done. He explained that just as Jesus had said on the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), Jesus would forgive her, too.

Months later, however, Murray was still filled with self-recrimination about her abortion. She believed that God had forgiven her, but couldn't forgive herself. She started meeting regularly with a woman from a group called PATH (Post-Abortion Treatment and Healing), and after many months, began to heal. Years later she came across a quote in The Privilege of Being a Woman which reminded her of how this woman had helped her: "Those who devote their loving attention to [women who have had abortions] know that the wound created in their souls is so deep that only God's grace can heal it."

She and Jef began working with four nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, who had been sent to the U.S. to open a home for women with AIDS. "The nuns were the furthest thing from self-centered and the last people in the world to defend their rights or to assert themselves. In my days as an ardent feminist, I would have scoffed at how meek and unselfassuming they were. They weren't concerned about goals, accomplishments, or applause."

Another former radical feminist turned Christian, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, helped Murray to understand the incompatibility of the two belief systems. "In a book review, [Fox-Genovese] suggested that radical feminists balked at the possibility that one could be both pro-woman and Catholic. She believed this was due to an inherent disconnect in feminism concerning the notion of service, which is the core of Christianity for both men and women."

The selflessness she'd seen in the nuns was antithetical to everything she'd believed as a feminist. They were about putting others first, not themselves. They were about service, not success.

Like so many of us, Murray took the tempting bait the world has to offer. But, as she puts it, the "Hound of Heaven" kept tugging at the line until finally she came home again.

Here is my responce E-mail:

As I have taken the time to read the article you have sent me, I would hope that you would read my response to it, thanks.

Paragraph, 1: Nothing to say.

Paragraph, 2: Nothing to say.

Paragraph, 3: Of course one of her religious teachers would suggest not going to a secular school, (ie. every accredited school that is not a religious one.) The best way to keep people from learning about the world is to shelter them from it. Growing up and learning does indeed mean growing out of silly ideas that are not based in fact.

Paragraph, 4: Good for her, she learned her life was hers and hers alone, if she felt she had the right to have an abortion then that is her choice not anyone else’s. Also, this story does not describe the circumstances of her abortion, she may have had a medical needed for one, or not, only she knows apparently. (Definition of Feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.) Feminism has nothing to do with a concern or lack of concern over commitment.

Paragraph, 5: Good for her. I would probably take a different approach; I don’t usually launch vendettas against unreal or imaginary things.

Paragraph, 6: It is easy for the religious community to attack “secular schools,” (as the article put it) and their teachers for what they teach and the information they present in class, but attacking teachers for presenting factual information and throwing out unproved, false information seems counterproductive. I know in my experience I have never had a teacher express dislike or bias against religion, instead they present info that might be contrary to religious beliefs but factual in reality. It is not sciences fault that it does not match up with and lend its self to religion, maybe an all powerful god should have spent a little more time on that.

Paragraph, 7: I talked about politics in the past long enough, I think you know where I am at.

Paragraph, 8: Nature is wonderful and innocent, and indeed holds wonders beyond belief. As for me, I think that nature is wondrous, and has shown it’s self to be superbly determent to have evolved to what we have and see now. I also think that creationism, or the thought that “god” created life “thousands” of years ago not only does not fit into what we know to be truth, but also cheapens the phenomenal tenacity of life here on earth and it’s ever increasing ability to amaze us.

Paragraph, 9: A nearby liquor store flashed in my mind, that must be a sign.

Paragraph, 10: Nothing to add.

Paragraph, 11: Luke 23:34 Nice story, but there is no proof that “jesus” ever existed. The story of jesus and many other gods have very similar life, death, and resurrection stories. I would go on but I could write a book about this topic.

Paragraph, 12: Abortion, like losing your child after it has been born is hard and I am glad there are services out there that help women through those tough times. Although I do not think that religious support groups are the best way, just adding more guilt onto an already tough time seems like telling an a person with depression he/ she is worthless. Leave out the religion and you have people helping people, which I think is great and we could use more of it.

Paragraph, 13: Nuns and other religious people are not the only ones who are “unselfassuming,” many non-believing people do good works without being “concerned about goals, accomplishments, or applause."

Paragraph, 14: The religious right bashing feminism, shocking.

Paragraph, 15: I have said enough about this topic.

Paragraph, 16: “Like so many of us, Murray took the tempting bait the world has to offer.” What an absurd statement, the world, science, and facts are the way they are like it or not. To call the world a temptress is to call air a foe.

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Mark Twain

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Comment by Denise Deiloh on January 29, 2010 at 9:50pm
Thank you for the Paragraph 4 rebuttal about commitment and feminism. I wonder where she picked up the idea that feminists shouldn't commit. Geesh.

Overall, nicely put.
Comment by Loren Miller on January 29, 2010 at 7:49pm
Frankly, your father's letter sounded more like preaching to the choir than any kind of serious attempt to argue against feminism or atheism, and like any good counter-puncher, you blocked everything he threw at you and landed your own shots. Joe Letterman scores this round 10-9 to Function 5.

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