Alias Grace

Imagine, if you will, that you are a woman and your position in life is already compromised. Your body indicated for servitude both for vocation and male sexual desire. Your voice is silent before you speak. If you dare speak you are hysterical, or worse a whore not worth given credence. Your mind is easily susceptible to bad spirits and incomprehensible thoughts simply because you are born of a sex religiously deemed devious.


That is Grace Marks, a woman determined so by natural devices, at the age of 15 or 16 years old. An Irish immigrant already expected poverty. Already, so early she is to be told by society what her body is good and useful for and that is servitude.

Every order given to her is expected of utmost obedience. Every action by her own is acted as innocence.

If she ever denies any order she is suddenly ‘filthy’, a ‘whore’, or ‘untrustworthy’.

What stood out to me in this miniseries is the ‘doctor of the mind’. A psychiatrist named Simon, given permission to have sessions with Grace in order to stir her memory of the events again. Then again, what memories are there to stir if the events of murder were never seen or properly recollected? Regardless he was curious, always on the edge, sleepless even to know more about Grace and her story. Simon had supposed that Grace was either somewhere along the lines of insanity or a woman who had found a means to break away from the suppression of her body.

She had become clever, he thought even. To express what one may think is rage against what was done to her and any other woman; or to express her anger of suppression. Suppression- that is to clean and to care at so young of an age. Suppression- that also means to give her body to any man’s will with a command for her consent. She had then created an audience with her hysterics. An audience composed of wealthy gossipers and then potential romantic partners, including Simon. He then supposed that that was her intention, even one that cost nearly her life.

It’s definitely a curious subject here. If you were a woman of that time period-and had to witness what that meant exactly, would you become a fiend to speak on it?


He Is Hero

‘In the beginning’, indicates a story that it is cliché and overdone. This will begin as others to tell the trope of Hero.

In the beginning, what inspired the common man- since women where often disregarded-was a Hero. A Hero was often born during mysterious, glorious, alien-like circumstances. It was his birth that predestined his good fortune, good looks and power and strength beyond that of the common man. Or simply put, someone did something so great that the common man thought to honor him- as it is usually a male- with the title of a ‘hero’. A common man witnessed another common man braver than himself, therefore the other more brave became a Hero. Or we can say that common man was much more sophisticated than we may give credit for sometimes, so a Hero was an imagined person. In regards to religion, or to gods, He or them are the imagined person(s). His purpose was to represent a figurative meaning of a few adjectives commonly associated with someone that has taken a risk or has made a (self) sacrifice for the greater good or in selfishness.

War or dangerous adventure is the hero’s normal occupation. He is surrounded by noble peers, and is magnanimous to his followers and ruthless to his enemies. In addition to his prowess in battle, he is resourceful and skillful in many crafts; he can build a house, sail a boat, and, if shipwrecked, is an expert swimmer. He is sometimes, like Odysseus, cunning and wise in counsel, but a hero is not usually given to much subtlety. He is a man of action rather than thought and lives by a personal code of honor that admits of no qualification. His responses are usually instinctive, predictable, and inevitable. He accepts challenge and sometimes even courts disaster. Thus baldly stated, the hero’s ethos seems over simple by the standards of a later age. He is childlike in his boasting and rivalry, in his love of presents and rewards, and in his concern for his reputation. He is sometimes foolhardy and wrong-headed, risking his life—and the lives of others—for trifles. Roland, for instance, dies because he is too proud to sound his horn for help when he is overwhelmed in battle.

Encyclopedia Britannica

The Hero to modern humankind is like the ancient definition- as revealed in super hero comics, movies and television. The Hero may also be one as described in Kung Fu films, anime collection films and television series. The Hero is someone that is strong, a risk taker and willing to sacrifice his life for others or the greater good. Though He or She is a conflicted character and may allow the more human emotions to overwhelm the mind. During this moment, as it is usually brief, self-reflection turns into selfish behavior that may cause greater damage to an individual or to an entire community. However, the Hero will readjust itself as good. And to remain forever timeless.

The most common, least forgotten form of the Hero is ‘God’. What is meant by ‘least forgotten’? No, ‘God’ is most often labeled as the Hero for modern humankind, but the meaning of that term ‘hero’ is often glossed over. A ‘hero’ is defined as a mythical person who is of the divine. This definition could also be applied to a warrior, or a soldier today, or just about anyone that exhibits such qualities like courage and bravery. In the sense of moral philosophy, the discussion here is the ‘God’ as the Hero that determines ethics. The Hero being part of a myth is one of divine creation by the imaginative common man (or men), in order to provide a figurative meaning of ethics for the common people.

In all tropes, either ancient or modern, there is a battle between good and evil. The successor, the one that triumphs over evil, is often regarded as the Hero. In ancient times this Hero overcame a battle either with the self or for a community of people- whether He was related to them or not. In modern times this Hero overcame a great feat often imaginary as it plays in superhero films and television. In the religious sense, every interpretation as ‘God’ or the Hero shows that He is the successor over what is evil- and that being the Devil/Satan in the Christian theology. What is evil? Evil is one that defies; a naysayer or negative thoughts and emotions; in opposition or question to what is good. The Hero then becomes an example to abide by and to follow by common people.

The purpose of these tropes are to exhibit good behavior or to have others obliged, for a common good. This purpose was exhibited in both ancient political and moral philosophy as a constant measure to ensure an ordered society, and well-behaved or well-ordered individuals. As for religious philosophy the same as true, though with an additional granting of immunity.

In the end, the Hero is simply a story of a moral code or something to achieve.



How to Explain Atheism?

The question posed to an atheist is often along the lines of ‘how could you not believe in God’?

The mindset that follows behind this question, perhaps, are along the lines of ‘you are denying your own existence along with everything else that exist’. Or, perhaps, the person or the believer posing this question may think that to not believe is the most ridiculous concept because of what the belief in ‘God’ offers.

A belief in ‘God’ offers sanity and hope. That is sanity meaning that the question of life existence is troubling to the human mind. In ancient philosophy, the undeclared atheist contemplated about how religion and the concept of the supernatural did not suffice in answering the greater question of life, especially that of human existence. Or in the case of Epicurus and Lucretius that thought if gods existed then they placed no importance on the lives of human beings, as they were absent and invisible. It is troubling to think what caused our existence and what gave us the ability to think and to question this fact. That troubling fact being one of insignificance, as I spelled out in ‘So They Believe’. And in hope meaning that there is an underlying purpose to suffering or to living on Earth. That there is some being out there beyond our sphere, well now beyond our universe, is our guidance and care-giver.

So, here I am to explain atheism. Atheism is the ‘lack of belief in gods’. This is not a ‘denial of god(s)’, as that statement requires a belief in god(s). This is not a belief system as its definition begins and ends in its initial statement. This term is not a religion as there are no doctrines, moral philosophy, and the sort attributed to the statement. There are two types of atheist: one that is gnostic and the other that is agnostic. Gnostic meaning to know something, or to know without doubt, or to know with affirmation. Agnostic meaning to be unsure of something, or to doubt, or to not know without affirmation. A gnostic atheist lacks a belief in god(s) because there is definitive proof of its or their non-existence. While an agnostic atheist are those like Epicurus and Lucretius expressing a lack of belief in gods, though not sure of that statement provability.

Therefore, to an atheist of either persuasion the mindset of a theist bears no weight on their mind. The argument that atheist are in denial of their existence, or in denial of their creator, ignores the point that an atheist thinks that the ‘creator’ was created by imaginative common people.

Then, depending on the particular atheist, the reasons in addition to their lack of belief is determined by how much that one person is convinced.

My Statement

I am asked often how and why I am an atheist. I tell them first that no liberal college poisoned my mind with liberal nonsense of the beginning or declining of everything. Actually, I first began to question the existence of ‘god’ after tattling on a younger sibling that expressed a lack of belief. It was only when I was a child that I questioned the imagery of this being, as well the purpose that this ‘god’ may serve in my life. As well, the lesson about there being different religions in the world proved to be a less convincing case for the religion I was indoctrinated into. So I told myself, though unknowing of the proper words at the time- that I will remain simply agnostic until I have read the holy text about all religions.

Over time I became simply an atheist. As a young atheist I never mocked the theist, only to question what all they stated as the exact meaning and purpose to every question and concern that can be conceived about life. I never got around to reading all of those holy text as they are many and most inaccessible to myself. Not even the Christian bible. I can only count on one hand how many times I have opened and read the Holy Bible. However, I took an interest in philosophy and the concept of religion as learned in the subject of history. As I graduated, moved on to college, I became a gnostic atheist.

How am I able to have a firm knowledge of something I have not read? To study the specific text(s) is meant to only argue the points made within the holy text(s). That was never my purpose since as a child. As a child I questioned the imagery and the purpose, not ‘what did Jacob say?’ Therefore, the confirmation and answers to the many questions I had kept silent existed in the origins of each religion. As I had moved onto college I wished to major in philosophy. Upon searching for the likelihood of making a living with that degree it encouraged me to choose history instead. Specifically, I concentrated on western civilization and that meant learning of the beginning of ancient philosophy and the philosophers, as well as the beginning of the major Western religions present today. In learning about something you learn about how and why it was created. Though the details of this topic is for another extended essay, I may state that my confirmation was found that god(s) and religion are human created.

My confirmation was not told specifically, but through several courses. This affirmation was told by Christian professors that had to explain the point of historical interpretation of religion as not being a denial or criticism of their present religious convictions. Though one could sense the discomfort in the room whenever we discussed the early Christian beliefs, as in comparison to their own as modern Christians. I was told this to be true when discussing the concept of ‘hero’s’ as told in epic poems or the history of a glorious time before the existence of writing by the ancients. This was never specific. There was never a confirmation that ‘yea all of this myth’ by professors or by the students, whom all or most are religious as well. This is simply a person, myself that came to the conclusion of all that I have been taught- and all that had been carefully worded as to not offend.

My Conclusion

What I have come to conclude: ‘He Is Hero’.

A combination of all of the courses, lessons, lectures have concluded to that specific topic. Now I admittedly failed at knowing the mundane, specific details of the epics; the purpose of Homer’s writing; the thoughts of Socrates; to actually read the text about the Jews and Christians under Roman rule; etc. All of which were disinteresting as my mind often went on a tangent about the overall idea, gathered without reading much further. My mind is primarily fascinated by concepts. I am moved by the general idea of something rather than the specifics, though the specifics like an event’s date may prove to be useful. Though not useful in understanding the underlying meaning of everything, or one specific topic and the purpose of it.

I have concluded here that He is in fact a Hero. My quest in knowing this fact was due to my thoughts and views on religion. What does Hero mean and what does Hero provide to others has always been a common topic upon my mind. And then whenever questioned about my inability to believe in a higher, supernatural being I vaguely reference that He Is [A] Hero.

A simple statement not conveying and justifying all that is known or could be known. However, in its simplicity answers a common question asked of an atheist. Here I gave my own summary of how and why I’m convinced.

So They Believe

Religious affiliations account for just about 88% of our global population, while only 16.3% are unaffiliated to any religion. That is about 9…hold on midnight mental math at work here “6 and 8 is 4…9, 10?” According to a published 2012 Pew Research on the global religious population, the vast majority affiliate to a religion largely identified or not. In contrast, a minority identify as ‘nones’. I skimmed past an article once that used the word ‘nones’ to describe atheist, agnostics, anti-theist, etc. people that were too shy for labels. Anyway, to what I am to convey in anticipated long-winded paragraphs. It fascinates me, still, that we have human beings- in the existence of a modern world- that still believe in a higher power and the second coming of a rewarding death [or new life]. They still believe that the answers to human suffering is a clasped hand in prayer, a hymn, a meditation, a song, etc. Humans still build these great small, yet significant, buildings for collaborative prayer and community involvement. I am in awe here, just how influential these religions are to many others, whether they accepted as a child or grew to become devout. In fascination, in awe, since this is a modern world where unanswerable questions have been answered. A modern world where we can actively prove, scientifically, the truthiness of an extraordinary claim. And yet people still believe.

I will have to limit this essay to those most likely to have access to education beyond traditional means. That means most likely to have access to information to educate oneself or to be educated about religions, their history and impact on the world and of other scientific pursuits and ideas. Specifically I will refer to a nation and religious majority that I am most familiar with-that being the United States of America. A nation where the vast majority are Christian at 70% and are aging. A comparative study conducted by the Pew Research Center has found that while affiliation to religion, Christianity specifically, remains high the numbers are in slow decline. We are witnessing more so now a population of people, growing, and while still young, either unsure or sure about the religious claims by the Christian faith. We are slowly witnessing a population of youth questioning the existence and the purpose of a higher being. I find that too fascinating, since I am part of the young sure and labeled as an atheist. Here I am not concerned by those who challenge religion on it’s grounds. Instead I am here to write about what keeps a modern population religiously devoted to what we now know, regardless if it is acknowledged, to be human-created and constructed. What I have summarized is despite the wide access to information and education about religion, there are some inalienable uses for it still.

For Comfort

I have found that religion is useful for comfort and is familiarly useful for comfort. There is a quote posted and shared somewhere on social media that essentially stated that as an atheist we have no traditional means for comfort. That is, when confronted with the idea of existential crisis and of life existence we are left to understand then to accept alone. As an atheist I have been faced with the idea of our exact purpose based on the history and scientific understanding of our development. We are simply the product of a star born in space. Along with that we are one of many genetically similar DNA copies of one another, or we are no more special than another. Expand this scope to our solar system. Our planet is one of many planets.

View From Mars

Our solar system is one out of 100 billion or so within our galaxy. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one out of 200 billion galaxies multiplied by 10, within our observable universe. And how many universes are there? This has yet to have been discovered, so we play with the idea through science fiction. My personal favorite to date being Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), an anticipated future essay. As my astronomy professor demonstrated-on the free activity field on campus, we are truly insignificant. And I remember feeling truly insignificant as a child as I became more sure of being a ‘nones’, an atheist rather. How did I cope with this profound discovery? In regards to our insignificance: I am glad to be a part of the age and time where technology, technological advancement, scientific research and more scientific questions are being asked about our existence and beyond that we can only imagine. I do not think we serve a greater purpose on Earth, as I think we are just as other animals and creatures, though more advanced or better able to be curious and to be aware. This greatly differs from the religious as they are told to believe that their existence is significant, and more importantly, significant to some higher being that exceeds the basic human form.

In conversation with my family, they often tell me in some variation that ‘I know that for whatever obstacles are thrown at me, God is there with me and I know it’. In their minds their purpose lies within their belief of significance. They believe that they are significant, and of course able to adapt to the Sun being the center and that there are other planets. They believe that their God created them, and placed them on Earth that is bountiful with resources. And in return they give their devotion and obedience to their creator, their father and God as a form of appreciation of this gift. Therefore, whenever they have issues with existence itself, or ‘is this all there is to life and living’. They were taught to believe that Earth is simply a test for his people. Or that the reward for their living a sin-free life is to meet Jesus Christ, God’s son, in heaven by death. Then ultimately, those who have the chance to witness such an extraordinary event, the rapture then will allow God’s believers to ascend into heaven. By this belief they live their life relatively without anxiety of greater questions. Religion proves as a greater sense of comfort in dealing with mundane details of human life as well. That being dealing with emotions of love or in dealing with a crisis. Their belief still proves as a safety net for whenever life for presents itself.

As I have felt some devastations, disappointments in life, my family thinks to comfort me with their religious thought. They tell me, ‘in this world you have to believe in something and that don’t have to be what believe, but something’. They tell me this because I will face obstacles in occupations, lifestyles, living arrangements, relationships and the like. They tell me that they are able to endure all of this because they know that ‘God is always looking out for me’. The message does not offend me, instead I subtract the religious dogma and take the already understood lesson for what it is exactly. Religion does help, in a way to provide an ease of comfort whenever life becomes overbearing. What is harmful in believing that if you had to skip a bill payment on a necessary utility that the landlord became forgiving because of God? Well you have just disregarded the kindness of an individual as being dictated by a higher power. Therefore, meaning that an individual is no more responsible for their self and actions than you are for a skipped payment. However, this is comforting to you that God is watching you and that he loves and cares for you. And despite all else you have God. Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him! 

Religion as a form of coping mechanism for the greater anxieties of existence, and of mundane details of human made obstacles and emotions is also out of familiarity. How do we learn how to comfort ourself or to comfort one another? Well we saw or grandmother praying once, perhaps asked ‘why does she pray?’ We see our parents in church singing and dancing about. We see a congregation of perceived happiness in the church, house of God and prayer. And others may ask how does one go through life knowing of the anxieties and obstacles that came with it? There is a song titled It’s the God In Me to illustrate that response. People use religion as means of comfort because it is familiar. It is what they were taught indirectly or not in how to cope with life. It is what they were told when they ask another person seeming to have their life in order, or not so much, or at all. So they continue to believe, and to believe for comfort.

For a Moral Ground

Atheist are often criticized as those being without a moral foundation. We may be asked often, if we so reveal ourselves, how do we determine right from wrong? Albert Einstein stated best:

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”

Basically, I know to treat my fellow human with kindness. Or that if I see you are either able-bodied or not, young or old, gender being unimportant I will still hold the door for you. If I see that you are homeless, or not even, we all struggle with money trouble from time to time, I will give you cash if I have it. I will give you a car ride from and to your destination free of charge. I will volunteer my time by picking up and beautifying the community. I will donate food, donate clothes and choose for those in need. I will thank you when you are kind whether in silence or not. I’m that driver that allows other cars through and in front, if I can, when turning into a lane or turning out of a drive way. I’m that restaurant manager that will give a free meal. I made my point well and clear in that aspect. As well, I know not to kill and that war is senseless, wasteful and destructive. I understand, too that suffering is not kindness; or that brain death should not be sustained. I have morals and I know right from wrong based on how I would wish to be treated and simply, it’s humanely right. I do not require a religion to tell me so, but others, many others do.

We may disagree on what is considered moral and what is not, as some tenets of faith are the product of previous archaic human biases and ignorance [i.e. homosexuality deemed as amoral]. However in some acts of kindness and views on violence there are some commonality or agreement that this concept or that action is either wrong or right. There are examples of kindness that Christians may live by example. Of course, as I stated, I will do good for those in need too. Though I do not require a verse within a book to tell me so, I understand that a Christian may so require that guidance. This is assuming that all Christians in fact read their holy text, as I find many within my own circle of influence do not and have not. So I then ask in return, how do you know what is moral and what is not when you do not ever read your holy text that tells you so. Their answer lies within their name. They are Christian and they were taught vaguely that Christian means kindness, forgiveness, minimalism, and friendship to likeminded good Christians. So they are good to others because they were taught that is where morals are founded.

Because it is Tradition

Based on the number of Christians there are in the United States- just as the numbers there are for Islam in middle eastern countries-we know they believe based on circumstances of birth. This means that you are more likely to claim a religion that is familiar, or that you were raised to affiliate with, based entirely on where you were born. If your community is Christian and Baptist, then your parents are the product of that community, therefore your faith was already predetermined before birth. This includes those adults that find religion without exposure while young, or with limited exposure; I’m sure many of you still chose Christianity. Of course there are outliers, or those that believe in a different religion entirely as adults. This is why I indicated ‘many’, as I am too an outlier, however, chose not to believe in all of the above. The same aforementioned Pew Research studies are finding that many Christians are simply Christian in name only. As in they identify as Christians because their parents were, and then their parents were before then. You see they may vaguely claim to believe in the Christian god in the face of others, but there is no strength to their testament. They cannot tell you a Bible verse, or know that there are many versions of the Bible. They may very well spout something that is not stated within their faith if their politics and comforts are challenged. I’m referring to the people that retorted ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’ fervently during the debates of allowing same-sex marriage, or marriage equality legally and nationally. They are Christian because that is what their community has identified as for decades. In a way they are still believers because they have not challenged what they do not know or care to know. Instead they are the type of apathetic believers in a sense that they will believe for paradise.

If you are one those that believe because it is tradition, you do intrigue me as well. Because the stepping point of you becoming either devoutly religious or ‘nones’ is a simple interest in all that I have typed here. It is with these interests that we are finding a steady, yet slow decline in believers. Only one Google search away, only a page within a chapter to read-whichever you may choose.