Monday, November 21, 2005

The Afterlife is Dying, One Dance Party at a Time

About three weeks ago (before my whole strep throat debacle) I went to see world-renowned DJ Donald Glaude spin at club Circus in Los Angeles. The party was thrown by Spundae. It was an absolute blast. If any of my readers are into clubbing and reside in the Los Angeles area, I suggest you check out the Spundae events at Club Circus.

While I was dancing in front of the main stage, I noticed a hip looking guy in his late twenties or early thirties. He was dancing near me with his date, and he was wearing jeans and a black tank top. Because he was wearing the tank top, his arms were exposed, and he had a handful of tattoos on both his arms. The reason I noticed him was because one of his tattoos literally jumped out at me. On his left bicep was a tattoo of an atom symbol with an "A" in the center: The exact logo of the American Atheists organization!

Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. I quickly got his attention and pointed to his tattoo and told him "that's awesome!" He smiled and started telling me about what the symbol was and what the different parts of it represent. Although I was already very familiar with the logo and what it meant, I didn't want to cut him off. After he explained the tattoo, I told him that I write for a few atheist blogs and am heavily involved in the freethought radio show, Hellbound Alleee. He said that was cool, and I then left him alone so that he could resume dancing with his attractive date.

As if the night wasn't great enough being able to dance to the intense house music of Donald Glaude, I got to see an atheist with an atheistic tattoo prominently displayed on his bicep. What a cool night!

Now, there have undoubtedly been atheists in America since America was founded. But what about proudly displaying that type of affiliation on one's arm? What I mean is that this young man is doing something that he could not have done a few generations ago without severe consequences. 200 years ago, this man would have been persecuted for that kind of display, even in America. 100 years ago, this man would have been blacklisted for such a display. Even 50 years ago this man would possibly have been blacklisted, and most likely ostracized from his community.

Nowadays, you can still find yourself in a bad light for this kind of display in certain rural parts of America, but even then, not to the degree that you would have found yourself in 50 years ago. And nowadays in most parts of America you can proudly show off these kinds of tattoos without fear of persecution or too much grief from your local community.

Attitudes are most definitely changing, and they are changing for the better. I bet that 50 or 100 years ago, there were no atheists in America with atheistic tattoos. But today there are very likely more tattooed atheists than just this one guy.

The afterlife is dying, one dance party at a time. Now let's all go out and dance to celebrate! I will be dancing my ass off with some fellow atheist friends in celebration on December 3rd, to the transcendent trance music of Ferry Corsten at club Avalon in Hollywood. If any local atheists plan to be there, let me know so we can meet up at the club. I'll buy you a drink.


UberKuh said...

Personally, and this is just me, I think the bottom of American Atheists' logo is a mistake, but their official explanation that "not all of the answers are in" is a good cover-up.

I don't know that some dude's tattoo is a sign of growing disbelief among the American population, but I would agree that, among the theistic American population, it is inevitable, whether they like it or not, that they are growing up and realizing that their religious beliefs do not work. On a philosophical or ethical level, they do not work, but they also do not work on a practical, everyday level, where it counts. Christian morality is static, and it's over 2,000 years ancient, so that's 2,000 years of weakening change from Christianty's point of view. My only problem is that recognition of this change and the need for further change are taking so damn long! Wake up, people. Jeez.

Aaron Kinney said...

I hear you UberKuh. Some people cling to bullshit with such tenacity it boggles the mind. Its like a bunch of adults refusing to discard their stork or santa beliefs.

And UberKuh, dont forget that the atheistic population in America doubled between 1990 and 2003, from 4% to 8%. I think the tattoo is definitely indicitive of a trend of increasing atheism in America.

Francois Tremblay said...

Aaron is the nice guy, and ever so optimistic.

100 years ago we had atheists with star power holding speeches and writing atheist columns in newspapers. Ingersoll was even proposed for president. Today all of this would be unimaginable.

Francois Tremblay said...

In the US, I mean.

Aaron Kinney said...

I honestly didnt know that Franc. And regarding Ingersolls time, I seem to recall reading about a relatively high Christian influence in US society. Althouh today the Christian Right admittedly yields enormous power, it cannot be denied that the percentage of US atheists is higher than its quite ever possibly been.

If atheism had such an influence back in Ingersolls day, why wasnt the US Census even counting "atheist/agnostic" in the religious affiliation options until 20 years ago?

Francois Tremblay said...

Why ? I don't know, maybe they were counted under another name.

The Atheist Seeker said...

Great post! I actually feel warm inside whenever I'd see someone who is unafraid to brandish his unbelief with pride. Here in the Philippines, atheists are generally known by the average juan (average joe in your case) as some sort of gothic rocker or something like that. That is the atheist sterotype here.

I, myself, am not afraid to wear a t-Shirt that says - "I am a freethinking atheist and proud of it." If only I could get my hands into one. I join you in dancing as we witness the death of superstition, one dance party at a time. Cheers!

UberKuh said...

You know what I want is a tattoo that depicts the absence of belief in any conceivable god. Any visual ideas? This is essentially strong atheism, so maybe I could just have a capital A tattooed on one of my biceps. This assumes I look like Hulk Hogan, but you get the point.

Aaron Kinney said...

I had an apendectomy at age 18, and as a result I have a huge horizontal scar running across the right side of my belly.

For awhile I considered getting a tattoo on the scar. It would be a tattoo of a razorblade cutting across the scar with some blood drips tattooed on the cut, and the word "Occam" inscribed on the razor blade.

I thought that would have been cool as hell, and full of multiple meanings. My appendix and my religious beliefs were both cut from me around the same time, both as superfluous entities. Unfortunately, my money priorities dictate that I spend every spare penny I have on my Mustang instead LOL

Anonymous said...

I wish I could be as optimistic as you Aaron. Outside of New York and California, Christianity seems as strong as ever. People seem to think it's just uncivilized people living in the wood's (you snooty coastal people probably think that's all of us :P), but a lot of seemingly forward-looking people are hardcore Christians. Where I live, there's a church on almost every corner in some parts of town.

You quote the statistics, but when I look at them, most of the growth seems to be in the "non-religious" category, which from personal experience usually means they've given up on traditional religion but made up some kind of their own or gone postmodernist or something. Just because they've given up on religion doesn't mean they've given up on God or the afterlife.

Aaron Kinney said...

I have been known to be a bit overly optimistic, Tanookie. Its a fault of mine, because I do take it too far sometimes. But I cant help it. My personal experiences have only reinforced this behavior, as my optimism usually ends up being realized and justified.

I may be incorrect in this instance however. But I really hope Im not.

SJ said...

Aaron, optimism is a in no way a fault, but a great trait that I am quite proud of having myself. On the note of the tattoo, I also have the Atheist tattoo, but I got it done on my back when I was quite young. Although I think its great to "wear" the logo proudly, we unfortunetly live in a world full of narrow minded people. I never hide my religious beleifs, or lack of them, but from my experiences people are very hesitant and overtly prejudiced towards the minority of atheists. I live in Vancouver, and from my few trips down south I realize how lucky I am to live in such an accepting city. Vancouver has one of the least religious populations in north america, and im proud of living in this great city. Im sure time goes by, the number of atheists will only continue to multiply, but until then I fear we will still be met with drastic opposition for the most trivial matters.