Another 'Christian In Exile'
Chaplain Al Holm

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Chaplain Al Holm"
Subject: Thanks From Poaitive Atheism
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000 9:26 PM

You wrote to us two months ago.

I was so glad to get your first letter that I stopped everything (and was even running late that night) so I could post it.

Since then, we have been engaged in some lively discussions that I would like to point out to you.

Probably the two most important (based upon what you said in your letter), and also the most concise, are the ongoing dialogues: "Your Style Of Atheism Could Remove Atheists' Stigma" with James Darpinian and "Atheists Of The Deep South: Stay In Your Closets!" with Bill Garrett.

Both the above dialogues summarize thoughts that I developed while engaged with two pantheists: "The Semantic Dance Of Pantheism" with John Love-Jensen; and, to a lesser extent (but easier to follow), "Pantheism Section Of FAQ Misrepresents Pantheism" with Trene Valdrek. We even discuss Bishop Spong in some of these letters -- both glowingly and critically.

The Darpinian letter voices the real nature of the question that is of the utmost concern for me in my work as an atheistic activist: How can we shake the stigma that goes along with atheism? The Garrett letter approaches basically the same subject, but starts out from a different direction. Both show clearly my reasons for using the "weak" definition for the word atheism ("I simply lack a god belief" -- for whatever reason) as opposed to the "strong" definition for atheism ("There are no gods"). It is very fortunate that these two conversations were going on simultaneously with the two main dialogues described below, because this gave me the opportunities to digest what I had been realizing and to express them in concise terms and in a more useful context.

It is the Love-Jensen letter where I spent much time racking my brains trying to figure out how to voice my objections to his views (and in many respects, trying even to understand what he was saying). As you follow, you will see me going over the same points again and again until he finally understands the nature of my objection. When we finally come to an agreement as to what each of us are saying (and during the very last portion of this grueling and extended dialogue), I come to a very surprising conclusion. Some of the afterthoughts to this conclusion are related in the Garrett and Valdrek letters.

But, what is exciting to me is that I now see four elements in the philosophy of Positive Atheism as I advocate it here: (1) a proactive ethic that gives primacy to truth and truthfulness; (2) an outlook that tends toward being constructive and getting along rather than "bashing" (though "bashing" is not ruled out, here); (3) the "weak" definition for the word atheism which means "a-theism" -- "without theism" rather than "no-god-ism"; (4) the sense of awe toward nature, life, the earth, and the universe which drives many to become, among other things, Scientific Pantheists -- or, in many cases throughout history, outright creationists.

I hope you enjoy.

[I might tack this onto your post as a belated response. I had initially intended just to leave your letter as it is with no response. So, if you have any comments on this new twist in the development of the philsophy of Positive Atheism, perhaps this would be best as a new thread of discussion.] I also might even publish yoru first letter it in the print edition, and will let you know if this is what I do, becaue it would net you some free issues of the magazine.]

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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