Tag Archives: atheism

Inspirational fail: Stop posting internet memes telling me how to live

by Simon Henry @simlington

You can’t move on the internet for ‘inspirational’ quote memes telling us how to live our lives.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Lennon, Einstein and Dr Seuss telling us what to do.

They were all pretty decent coves weren’t they?

They had dreams, they actually achieved things, they wrote really funny and inspiring books and songs.

But it’s not just inspirational geniuses being quoted now.

‘Spiritual gurus’, religious nutters and even normal people armed with apps that create these memes easily and quickly have got in on the act.

You can’t move for this sort of inane crap from Deepak Chopra.

I know life is hard at times - and at least it doesn't mention God or Christ - but I still want to choke the person who produced this meme.

At least it doesn’t mention God or Christ – but I still want to choke the person who produced this meme.

He’s really really annoying – not least because he makes absolutely loads of money from this drivel.

But in his defence at least he doesn’t mention the dreaded …

God

This isn't the most sickly of religious inspirational memes, but it's still quite poor.

This isn’t the most sickly of religious inspirational memes, but it’s still really depressing.

As an atheist, I feel a very queasy about the Christian obsession with a half-naked men on a cross.

And it’s not enough for him to be crucified – Christians also have to drink his blood and and eat his body too. Poor Jesus.

Still, each to his or her own.

Then there’s the DIY stuff, made possible by the ubiquity of smartphones and their pesky apps.

These are usually produced by people who’ve obviously just had a relationship and/or emotional breakdown and are trying to convince themselves and the world that they’re okay.

Here’s an example.

Oh Christ you can feel the anger and pain can't you?

Oh Christ you can feel the anger and pain can’t you?

This stuff is pretty addictive. Let’s move on before we get stuck

So here’s an attempt to redress the balance.

I hope the examples I’ve created below provide a reminder to switch your brain off if you ever see these memes on your screen.

This is scientifically verifiable.

This is scientifically verifiable.

Failure is good. It means someone else gets to win. Don't worry about it. We're all dust anyway.

Failure is good. It means someone else gets to win. Don’t worry about it. We’re all dust anyway.

I don't even want to go there.

I don’t even want to go there.

Seems like pretty fair comment.

Seems like pretty fair comment.

Ah that’s better.

And just to get the message across, here’s a little friend I’ve made.

Get the idea?

I hope you like him – he may make another appearance soon.


 

If you enjoyed this, you may like a recent post, How Mindfulness can make us all a bit happier

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

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Excommunication from the Catholic Church by email: A simple and fun guide for atheists

by Simon Henry @simlington

Exactly one year ago, I was formally excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The process involved no torture, no incense and no Latin recitations.

I just had to send an email outlining my contention that the central teachings of Catholicism were bollocks – and within a few days I was out.

There was no Inquisition-style hanging by the wrists with weights suspended from the ankles, no rack, no foot roasting and no water torture.

Nor did I face the upsetting prospect of being burned at the stake – as may have been my fate in Reformation England, depending on which despot was on the throne at the time.

What a relief, then, to live at a time when – and in a place where – I can say religion is garbage …

… and the worst that happens to me is I get a rather gentle email telling me I’m a heretic and apostate – with kind regards attached at the bottom from someone called Bryan.

Why I wanted to get excommunicated

I was baptised by a drunk Catholic priest in 1970.

At that point – aged zero years – I wasn’t really in a position to argue (not being able to speak) or escape from the font (as I hadn’t yet learned to use my legs).

Luckily the pie-eyed priest didn’t drop me.

Being told you're Catholic is like being told your a Cliff Richard fan. Unworkable in the long run.

Being told you’re Catholic is like being told you’re a Cliff Richard fan. Unworkable in the long run.

By the time I learned to think for myself, being told I was a Catholic was like being told I was a Manchester United supporter, or a fan of Cliff Richard’s songs.

Not really my cup of tea.

But I let my nominal membership lie until I read an article in which the church bragged about its ‘billion-plus’ membership.

I then thought to myself: ‘You’re including me in that number, aincha?’

(I’m not a Cockney, but often do Mockney accents for fun – especially when speaking to myself about numbers of Catholics.)

And so was born my resolve to withstand whatever hardships and dangers the journey to excommunication held for me…

The journey

Email to the then Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols.

13 April 2013
Dear Vincent
I am writing to ask you to excommunicate me from the Catholic Church …
I was baptised at the church of … in … in the autumn of 1970.
I utterly renounce the teachings of the church including the the virgin birth, trans-substantiation and the resurrection.
I have been atheist since the age of 16 and have been evangelical in my views, attempting to convince members of my family and others to renounce their views and join
the ranks of atheists.
I view the role of religions as a negative force in this world, holding power over people’s minds, discouraging rational thought and encouraging sectarianism.
This is not a flippant request. I simply do not want to be counted among the number of Catholics on this planet. I am fundamentally opposed to your teachings and find
my own moral code without need of a religious underpinning.
Please take the necessary steps to take me off your registers and to confirm my excommunication.
If you need any more information please let me know.
Regards.
Simon Henry

I received a very nice but firm letter from someone called the ‘Vice-Chancellor’, telling me if I wanted to be excommunicated, I had to go local.
(This came as a bit of a shock as I thought my request would have been sent to the Pope in Rome and, through the Pope, on to God in Heaven before coming back down to
the temporal realm, to Rome and finally to Yorkshire again.)

17 April 2013
Dear Mr. Henry,
Thank you for your email of 13th April, which has been forwarded to this department by the Archbishop’s Personal Assistant.
Although there is no Diocesan Bishop in Leeds at present, as you are resident within that Diocese you do come within their jurisdiction and it is a matter which should be dealt with by the Leeds Diocesan authorities.
Can I suggest that you contact the Leeds Diocesan Chancellor, who I am sure will be able to help you:
The Very Rev. Mgr. Canon J. B. Sharp,
Chancellor,
Hinsley Hall,
62 Headingley Lane,
Leeds,
LS6 2BX.
He does not appear to have a direct email in the Catholic Directory. However, if you would prefer to email, I am sure the Diocesan Administrator’s secretary will pass
your request on to him: bishop@dioceseofleeds.org.uk
I am sorry we are unable to deal with your request here in Westminster, but hope this information will be of help to you.
With every good wish,
Yours sincerely,
Brenda E. Roberts MA
Vice-Chancellor
CHANCERY OFFICE
ARCHBISHOP’S HOUSE
AMBROSDEN AVENUE
WESTMINSTER
LONDON SW1P 1QJ

I wrote to Bryan (not Brian, the ‘very naughty boy’) and included my original excommunication request I’d sent to the Archbishop.

17 April 2013
Dear sir
I wonder if you would be kind enough to read the following email chain in which I am asking to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
I understand from the Archbishop that this has to be implemented at diocesan level.
Please would you get back to me if you need any further information in order for my excommunication to take place.
Ideally I would like written confirmation once I have been excommunicated.
Best wishes and thank you in advance.
Simon Henry

And on 18 April 2013 at 9:44am, the following email arrived:

Dear Mr Henry,
I have received a copy of your email to the Archbishop of Westminster and the reply you received.
By virtue of Canon 1364 of the Code of Canon Law an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs an automatic excommunication .
This would apply to yourself in view of the statements made in your email to the Archbishop of Westminster.
Yours sincerely
Mgr Bryan Sharp
Chancellor Diocese of Leeds

So that’s it.

Excommunication by email in under a week.

And – apart from being struck by lightning, having a plague of frogs falling on my head and losing a bit of hair and getting a bit thicker around the waist – this year has been pretty much the same as any other.

Except I’m not a Catholic any more. Hurrah!

If you enjoyed this you may also enjoy a recent post –  12 reasons why being an atheist is heaven on earth

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter for more attempts to make you smile, laugh, giggle and even possibly wet yourself.

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

12 reasons why being an atheist is heaven on earth

by Simon Henry @simlington

It’s that time again, when the cock crows three times, Jesus is crucified – and The Life of Brian gets its annual airing.

Here are some great reasons why not believing in god is great.

And they don’t even depend on the Harvard Prayer Experiment (showing how dangerous prayer can be).

If you’re religious, please don’t pray for me.

Reasons for atheists to be cheerful 1, 2 … 12

1.
We actually enjoy Lent.

In between the pancake binge at the start and the chocolate binge at the end, we act pretty normally. We don’t give up masturbation or other enjoyable activities.

And we don’t mind if you call us ‘w**kers’ either – we’re not defensive like that.

2.
We don’t have to eat Jesus’s flesh or drink his blood.

Reducing the levels of cannibalism in our society has to be good, doesn’t it?

Which reminds me: Two cannibals are eating a clown for dinner. One of them asks: ‘Does this taste funny?’ See some much better jokes here

3.
We don’t have to crap ourselves about dying.

There are no worries about having red hot pokers stuck up our arse for eternity by cruel and sadistic imps in the boiling bowels of hell.

For an atheist, the chief annoyance is that this wonderful life has to end.

4.

Leviticus is a book in the Old Testament and a Swedish Christian metal band. Neither offers unalloyed entertainment.

Leviticus is a book in the Old Testament and a Swedish Christian metal band. Neither offers unalloyed entertainment.

We don’t have to memorise swathes of the bible – like this example of religious toleration from Leviticus:

‘Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him.’

5.
We don’t have to knock on strangers’ doors asking the householders to follow Christ.

If any of us wanted to go door-to-door we’d sell something more useful than Jesus.

Like an entire out-of-date set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

6.
We don’t have to thank god for everything that goes right, or claim he works in mysterious ways when they go wrong.

We try to maximise the chances of good things happening to us, and minimise the chances of the bad; and when we experience good or bad luck, we just accept it.

This approach is less complicated than trying to work out why god hates you so much that he gave you a spot on your nose, or only arranged a 1% pay rise for you this tax year.

7.
We don’t have to confess our sins to a man in a dress who tots up the number of Hail Marys and Our Fathers we have to recite to atone for the sins of ‘coveting’ a new iPhone or feeling horny.

8.

Condoms or ‘Latex Jonathans’ come in different colours and sizes. You can even get ones that taste nice. Life is good.

Condoms or ‘Latex Jonathans’ come in different colours and sizes. You can even get ones that taste nice. Life is good.

We can enjoy sex without worrying we’re off to hell if we like people of the same gender or if we wear a condom.

Guilt-free and pregnancy-free sex are great. Which reminds me: ‘Contraception should be used on every conceivable occasion.’ (Thanks, Spike.)

9.
We can blaspheme with impunity. As we know, ‘Jesus Christ’ is a versatile phrase to accompany amazement or anger. ‘God Almighty’ is a lovely phrase to describe exasperation. And ‘Piss Christ’ is an impressive piece of art.

10.
We can tell jokes like these:

– Jesus walks into a hotel, hands the receptionist three nails and says: ‘Can you put me up for the night?’

– What’s the difference between Jesus and a painting? You only need one nail to hang up a painting.  More of the world’s best short jokes.

11.
We can also watch The Life Of Brian without being offended. ‘He’s not the messiah. He’s a very naughty boy.’ (Watch the part where his mum actually says it – 2 mins 20 secs.)

12.
We don’t have the mind-bending conundrum of working out who begat whom.

The issue of Jesus being his own father and not having sex with his own mum but still getting her pregnant with himself is a non-issue for atheists.

So you don’t get theologically-inspired headaches or nervous breakdowns.

And you don’t have to work out why your religion, or your flavour of it, is the ‘right’ one. It makes things so much easier if you just say: ‘They’re all bollocks’.

If you enjoyed this, maybe you’ll be interested in how to get Excommunicated from the Catholic church by email. It’s really easy.

And don’t forget to watch Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (3 mins 16 secs).

Please feel free to take a look at some of my other posts. I’m told my A-Z of Office Jargon is funny.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter for more attempts to make you smile, laugh, giggle and even possibly wet yourself.

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014

Excommunication from the Catholic Church made easy

by Simon Henry @simlington

A week ago, I decided to try to get excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

Douglas Adams has been playing on my mind recently (I’m 42) and I wanted to do something he would approve of before I hit the far less notable 43.

I have hated religion for a very long time. I was brought up as a Catholic and religiously (ahem) went to church from the time I was baptised by a visibly drunk parish priest, until the age of 16 –  when most of us have stopped believing in Santa, the tooth fairy and the notion that a wafer in a Catholic church is actually human flesh to be eaten by the cannibals sitting in the pews.

I thought the excommunication process would involve Latin incantations, a Dan Brown plot and at least a couple of crucifixions.

But in today’s world, getting excommunicated only takes a couple of emails to the right people and you’re done. You’re not even threatened with eternal damnation in the fires of hell, surrounded by devils sticking red hot pokers up your arse forever more.

Here’s how I got excommunicated inside a week.

It’s the best thing I’ve done since I started wearing Nike Free Run 2 trainers last year – and that is saying something.

My first step was a letter to the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols – the top Catholic (sheep?)dog in England – telling him why I wanted to be excommunicated from his flock.

13 April
Dear Vincent

I am writing to ask you to excommunicate me from the Catholic Church. I understand there is a vacancy in Leeds – hence me going to the top. 
I was baptised at the church of … in …, West Yorkshire in the autumn of 1970. 
I utterly renounce the teachings of the church including the the virgin birth, trans-substantiation and the resurrection.
I have been atheist since the age of 16 and have been evangelical in my views, attempting to convince members of my family and others to renounce their views and join the ranks of atheists. 
I view the role of religions as a negative force in this world, holding power over people’s minds, discouraging rational thought and encouraging sectarianism. 
This is not a flippant request. I simply do not want to be counted among the number of Catholics on this planet. I am fundamentally opposed to your teachings and find my own moral code without need of a religious underpinning. 
Please take the necessary steps to take me off your registers and to confirm my excommunication.
If you need any more information please let me know. 
Regards.
Simon Henry

I also wrote the same email to the vacant Bishop of Leeds. (This is not a criticism of the Bishop’s mental capacity – there just isn’t a Bishop at the moment.)

I received a very nice but firm letter the ‘Vice-Chancellor’ telling me if I wanted to be excommunicated, I had to go local. (This came as a bit of a shock – I thought my request would have been sent to the Pope in Rome and, through the Pope, on to God in Heaven.)

17 April
Dear Mr. Henry,

Thank you for your email of 13th April, which has been forwarded to this department by the Archbishop’s Personal Assistant.
Although there is no Diocesan Bishop in Leeds at present, as you are resident within that Diocese you do come within their jurisdiction and it is a matter which should be dealt with by the Leeds Diocesan authorities.
Can I suggest that you contact the Leeds Diocesan Chancellor, who I am sure will be able to help you:
The Very Rev. Mgr. Canon J. B. Sharp,
Chancellor,
Hinsley Hall,
62 Headingley Lane,
Leeds,
LS6 2BX.
He does not appear to have a direct email in the Catholic Directory. However, if you would prefer to email, I am sure the Diocesan Administrator’s secretary will pass your request on to him: bishop@dioceseofleeds.org.uk
I am sorry we are unable to deal with your request here in Westminster, but hope this information will be of help to you.
With every good wish,
Yours sincerely,
Brenda E. Roberts MA
Vice-Chancellor
CHANCERY OFFICE
ARCHBISHOP’S HOUSE
AMBROSDEN AVENUE
WESTMINSTER
LONDON SW1P 1QJ

I wrote to Bryan (not Brian, the ‘very naughty boy’) and included my original excommunication request I’d sent to the Archbishop.

17 April
Dear sir
I wonder if you would be kind enough to read the following email chain in which I am asking to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
I understand from the Archbishop that this has to be implemented at diocesan level.
Please would you get back to me if you need any further information in order for my excommunication to take place.
Ideally I would like written confirmation once I have been excommunicated.
Best wishes and thank you in advance.
Simon Henry

And this morning (18 April) at 9:44am, I received the following note from him.

Dear Mr Henry,
I have received a copy of your email to the Archbishop of Westminster and the reply you received.
By virtue of Canon 1364 of the Code of Canon Law an apostate from the faith, a heretic or a schismatic incurs an automatic excommunication .
This would apply to yourself in view of the statements made in your email to the Archbishop of Westminster.
I understand that you have already been in touch with the diocese of Leeds about this matter and received a promise to have a copy of your statement attached to the baptismal record.
Yours sincerely
Mgr Bryan Sharp
Chancellor Diocese of Leeds

So that’s it.

Excommunication in under a week

And with a promise that my heretical email will be stapled to my baptismal records.

I think Douglas would be proud.

If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy my post about why Failure is often better than success. Or just have a browse around – there should be something that makes you a bit happier.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014