Editor’s Note: This is one of the first pieces I wrote several years ago for the original Armchair Blasphemy Blog. My thinking is similar but I would not write it like this today. That said, it’s worth reposing on our new site.
People ask me sometimes why I chose the word “blasphemy” for this blog. They often wonder aloud if I am buying into the concept itself. I have been told that this is a religious word and that atheists should not acknowledge the very existence, even the concept of “blasphemy.”
I understand this thinking and rationale, but I find power in appropriating the words and concepts of ideological / religious opponents. It’s the same concept with Santa Clause. I can use Santa, a construct, side effect or at least first cousin of Christianity to make a very strong case that the entire mythology is fabricated.
I know other atheists who are wary of the “atheist” label for a similar reason. They embrace the humanist, freethinking or even “brights” identity instead. They feel that to be atheists is to be “against” something, as in anti-theist. I don’t hold this view. The most fundamentalist religions hate and try to shame “atheists.” They view atheists as “of the devil.” If they are so afraid, so disgusted by this identity, then I totally want a piece of it. There is an inherent strength go embracing something that fundamentalists loathe and fear. It’s the same fear they have of evolution, science and—back to it–blasphemy. It’s the intellectual side I want to be on. Continue reading From the vault: Appropriating the Language of Religion→
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.