Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Posted On Facebook About A Minute Ago

Remember my "FaceBible" post? Yeah...I just couldn't take it any more. This ought to be interesting...

I am  an Atheist.

There, I said it.

Furthermore, I am raising my children as Atheists as well.

No, wait. That's not altogether true.

What I am teaching them, I hope, is to find and embrace a belief system that is most compatible with what they feel deep in their hearts. I was raised in a Christian home, by parents who tried very hard to model good Christian behavior. But Christianity has never felt like a good fit to me. It has always felt decidedly uncomfortable, like a pair of shoes that are a half size too small or pair of highwater pants. Not disastrously wrong, just not profoundly right the way I really needed it to be.

Though my parents did a wonderful job raising us, we were never taught or encouraged to explore anything else in terms of spirituality. So I drifted along, not really understanding that there were other religions, philosophies, and schools of thought that just might make sense to me. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized, I could CHOOSE to believe whatever I wanted. Religious idealogy is not a genetically inheirted trait like curly hair or straight teeth (neither of which I was lucky enough to recieve iin my roll of the DNA dice). It can be altered to suit the way we need to see the world, navigate our lives and make sense of death. I experienced a huge sense of relief when I realized that I could accept or reject any doctrine based on my own personal list of requirements.

It is that more than anything, that I hope I have given my children; the power and the freedom to CHOOSE along with a yearning to learn and know and experience all beliefs, all cultures, all ways of life before deciding what fits. I want them to try things on for size, mull them over, take them for a test drive. And not feel guilt or shame about it.

If that thing is Christianity, then I will accept that and be happy that they have found something to give them peace, solace, and guidance throughout their lives. Just as I would if that thing were Buddhism, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism.

But there's one thing I haven't given them, and that's what this post is really about. I have not given them a sense of pride about who they are, or more precisely, I suppose, who they aren't. Which is....Christians. We don't say we are Atheists, you see. We don't deny if asked directly, but neither do we volunteer that information. We politely bow our heads when public prayer is offered. We do not protest when religion is inserted into every single facet of life here in the South. We smile and nod and make non-commital comments when discussions about spirituality inevitably arise. We grin and bear it when we are bombarded with scriptural quotes and YAY GOD! postulations in secular environments, such as Public School or say.....Facebook.

Why? Because it's just easier that way, to be perfectly honest. We are in the minority here in the South, and like many minorities, we are often judged; perhaps even more harshly since skin color, sexuality and gender are not choices we can make. In the minds of convicted people, we have chosen to live a morally and spiritually bankrupt existence and in their eyes....that makes us less. It's easier to avoid that judgement becauset it's unfair and it hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot.

After a long discussion with my husband today, we both decided that have been doing our boys a grave disservice. If they were gay or black or disabled, we would teach them to stand up and be proud, be true to themselves, and be a part of making this world a better place for people like them. Why is their spirituality any different? Being Atheist is nothing to be ashamed of. We are free thinkers, examiners; questers, if you will. We want to know everything there is to know, we want it all to make sense and we want it to fit. We are not very good at blind faith, which I choose to see as an asset rather than a liability.

We are good people. We try to live good lives. We love deeply and completely. Just like Christians. And Buddhists. And Hindus. And Muslims. We don't judge you because you are Christian. Or Buddhist. Or Hindu. Or Muslim. On the contrary....we are happy for you, and we even envy you a little bit, because you have the solace of a convicted heart.

I don't love your God. But that doesn't mean I don't love you. It doesn't mean I don't respect what you have chosen to believe. It doesn't mean that we can't be friends, neighbors, lovers, kindred spirits or soul mates. Above all...it doesn't mean I am, or my children are, less worthy of your kindness or respect. Why people believe that it does will never make sense to me. Why people believe that religious idealogy justifies intolerance is equally puzzling.

So there. I'm out of the closet and I suppose, by association, so are my husband and children. I want you all to know this because I've decided that I am not going to remain silent any longer when something offensive, or judgemental or insensitive is said by convicted persons...even in innocence. That means here or anywhere else.

When I speak, or post, I have to make sure what comes out is not offensive to the very wide array of beliefs that are represented in my social circle or on my friend's list.  Diversity is a beautiful thing because it makes us so very aware of all the ways that we are the same, but also all the ways we are different. And those differences are MARVELOUS! We can learn so, so much from all the ways we differ from one another! It makes us step outside ourselves and see the world through fresh eyes. It makes us kinder, I think. If I have chosen to be friends with someone, I don't want to insult them. If I love someone, I don't want them to feel there are conditions on that love.

By having me as a friend, either in real life or on Facebook, you have embraced diversity. Maybe you didn't mean to, but you did all the same. Now you have a responsibility to me and to others whose beliefs differ from your own (if there are any...for some of you, I'm quite sure there are not) to be kind, to be tolerant, to be accepting. And to just take a moment to ask yourself...Could somebody who believes differently than I do be offended by this thing I'm about to say? Could someone I care about be hurt? Is that really so much to ask?

If so you can unfriend me right now. In EVERY way. Because I don't need friends or relatives who really and truly believe I am less than they are simply because I do not worship their God, and therefore not worthy of the respect, consideration and kindness they afford those who believe as they do.

Thank You.

16 Comments:

  • At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Brigid said…

    I LOVE this.

     
  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    I give thanks that I was brought up in a home like yours where I could make my own decisions about spirituality. I go to church now, but it is a church that accepts everyone and does not prescribe dogma or say that there is only one way to God. It works for me. I also believe that other people can believe whatever they want, but when they impose those beliefs on others is when the trouble starts.

     
  • At 8:10 PM, Blogger Margaret said…

    I am supportive of you 100%. I also agree with you 100%. YOU GO!!

     
  • At 8:25 PM, Blogger jess said…

    I hear you. I'm a Christian but I've rejected the idea that Christianity is the only way to know God. I have friends across the religious spectrum from atheism to um, fundies (I'll leave it at that without descriptive adjectives :) and after growing up in a very sheltered church environment it was the fact that the non-Christian people I got to know were no more likely to be "bad" (or good) than were the people at church, that made me start questioning. There are wonderful, loving people and mean, petty people in every walk of life. Religion doesn't have much to do with it, as far as I can tell.

    And I don't think I am your friend on FB. I don't know your real name! :) I'd love to be added though!

     
  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Jess, send me an email at my blog antagonist email and I'll give you my FB info. I'd love to be friends!

     
  • At 9:29 PM, Blogger Julie said…

    BA, I had a very wordy reply written and blogger wouldn't let me preview it first.

    So.

    You rock.

    Your confidence in coming out of the Religion Closet is inspiring. I'm not quite there yet, because I'm still undecided about what exactly I believe. It kind of sucks, you know? What I want to believe and what I have experienced don't match up, for the most part. Thankfully, my husband, who is a closet atheist himself, doesn't give me too much crap when I try to use him as a sounding board for spiritual matters.

    I'd also consider it a privilege to be your friend on FB. (I'll email you...)

     
  • At 1:51 AM, Blogger Just Words On A Page said…

    I just love the shit out of you.

     
  • At 3:23 AM, Anonymous Shab said…

    LOVE it. Actually, I need a stronger word than love. Thanks for writing this!

     
  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger Schmutzie said…

    I just wanted to let you know that this weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday! http://www.schmutzie.com/fivestarfriday/2011/3/25/five-star-fridays-142nd-edition-is-brought-to-you-by-seth-go.html

     
  • At 10:37 PM, Blogger Cheyenne said…

    We are all the same inside as far as bones and muscle and blood are concerned. Who we believe in or what we believe in should not matter. As long as we believe in something, which I am sure you do some way some how. I do not think any less of you or anyone else who does not have my beliefs. Rest assured, I will still come here to check on your updates and read them just as I have been since I found your blog. Diversity makes the world go round.

     
  • At 4:05 PM, Anonymous SandyG said…

    I agree with what Jess said. If people would only take notice that it's not Christianity or any other faith that makes good people or bad. I really dislike that old phrase, "the Christian thing to do." As if Christians have a lock on moral behavior!
    I come from a religious family and it took me years to trust that I could decide for myself what to believe without the fear of falling into hell that was instilled so young. I just don't bother discussing religion with any family member but one brother who feels similarly. My other brother is now a fundamentalist missionary (sigh), and if I strongly told him what I (don't) believe, I'd probably be off of his email/letter list--and I do care enough to want to know what is up with him.
    So I admire your putting it out there. I counter idiotic comments when I hear them, but haven't made a general public statement. I'd be interested to hear about any FB reactions that you get.
    (I'm just putting my toe in the water re FB, so maybe I'll email you to see if you'll friend me, too.)

     
  • At 4:02 PM, Blogger Todd S. said…

    well said...thank you....sometimes we all need a reminder that love, kindness, respect and tolerance should not be tied to a 'religion', but to our hearts.

     
  • At 9:50 AM, Blogger Random Thinker said…

    There are basically four groups of people. People who say that:
    1) There is no God, or
    2) There may or may not be a God and I don't care, or
    3) There may or may not be a God and I would like to explore and seek the Truth, or
    4) There is God.
    Personally as an Engineer and as a Scientist, I journeyed from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 from the time I entered college till the present.
    Though atheists are strictly belong to category 1, the society paints every one in 1,2 and 3 as Atheists. Each category has its own stereotypical personality.
    The most judgmental of all the people belong to categories 1 and 4. Richard Dawkins and the Pope come to mind as examples.

     
  • At 9:29 PM, Blogger Pinktabulous Blonde said…

    I tend to agree with Random Thinker. I'd like to meet him/her IRL. I'm a 4. However, I must admit, I was never a 1... or a 2.... or a 3. I have always believed there is God... yet, I have not always lived as I have believed.

     
  • At 7:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I used to be a 3 desparately seeking to be a 1. Now I'm a 4 but I still don't know how to reconcile all the questions that I thought being a 1 would reconcile. But I no longer think it matters.

     
  • At 1:33 PM, Blogger Magpie said…

    The most interesting thing about this to me is that I don't feel like I know anyone who would be offended if/when I tell them that I'm an atheist. Did you get any "unfriends" as a result?

     

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