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, September 05, 2013

An Atheist's Wish

You all have been reading about my struggles with Faith, Religion, Christianity, and my feelings of exclusion and prejudice living here in the South for nearly eight years now.

I wish I could say I've managed to make some sort of sense of it all in that span of time, but I really haven't. Some of you may know that I decided quite recently to come out of the Atheist closet and start being honest about who I am and what I believe, regardless of the personal costs, which can be pretty substantial in these parts. That's partially because I wasn't very happy being disingenuous and vague about it. It was thoroughly exhausting, frankly. So I decided if I was going to be unhappy anyway, I could at least be unhappy for the right reasons and feel good about the self-imposed misery.

But more importantly I realized that I was fostering an attitude of shame for my boys about our beliefs.

I don't want my children to be ashamed. Of anything. But least of all about something as emotionally and psychologically impactful as spirituality. I really and truly believe that much like sexuality, spiritual beliefs are not a choice. Being ashamed of something over which we have no control is a sad and pointless endeavor.

I was raised in a Christian home. I went to Sunday School, VBS, and church camp every summer. I dutifully learned my Bible verses, I sang and played my flute in church. I went through these motions because I knew it was expected of me and also because I hoped that sooner or later, something would click for me as it obviously had for all the people around me.

I live in a place that is steeped in Christian dogma, where every aspect of life reflects the cultural indoctrination that is so deeply pervasive here. It's like language immersion except with religion. I have read about a jillion books arguing both for and against Christianity. I've read the Bible. Hell, I even read the Left Behind series.

Sometimes I would really LIKE to believe in God, because in ways so numerous that I couldn't possibly list them all for you here without penning my own epistle....it would just make my life easier.

And yet...I don't and I can't. It wasn't a choice. It just happened.

And I understand that at some point in time, it might just so happen that for my boys, the thing that makes sense for them is Christianity. Christians become Atheist and Atheists become Christians. I think the latter is less common, but it does happen. Sometimes what you know and what you feel are drastically at odds with one another. And strangely enough, the intellect is sometimes entirely powerless over instinct and intuition. People have done crazy, senseless, dangerous, reckless, even illegal things because of a feeling; a visceral, non cognitive influence that drives them in ways they don't understand.

So the thought that someone might abandon Atheism because God just feels right for them, isn't such a hard thing to imagine.

My mission these days has changed a little bit. I'm less about figuring this all out, and more about fostering understanding and acceptance between factions. We have SO much to learn from one another, but we can only do that if we are willing to abandon the preconceived ideas and misconceptions about one another. I'll admit I have my fair share of prejudices about Christians and Christianity. But I'm working on them. I really am. I often feel however, that expecting reciprocation in that regard is pretty unrealistic, because many (not all) Christians think it's their Christian duty to assimilate and indoctrinate, rather than understand and appreciate.

BUT...nonetheless, in the spirit of understanding and harmony, I offer you this. A friend recently directed me to this blog; a Christian friend, interestingly enough. Godless in Dixie. Are you kidding me??? There's actually another Atheist in Dixie, he's OUT, he's writing a blog, speaking....and I didn't know about him? A travesty.

On his site is a video about "Invite An Atheist To Church Day". I love that idea. Because it wasn't about converting him, it was about understanding him. I love how these two guys interact with one another in the full length video. No ridicule, no angry jibes, no judgment; just an open and honest exchange of ideas.

In this clip, he speaks about what Atheists wish Christians knew about them. It was so spot on I nearly stood up and cheered at the end. Pay particular attention to number 5. This one is incredibly disheartening to me. I had a good life, a pretty idyllic childhood and two loving parents. I wasn't abused or beaten, I wasn't molested by my Sunday School teacher, and I experienced no tragic life altering events until my Mother died three years ago, long after I'd rejected Christianity. Did I have experiences with Christianity that left a bad taste in my mouth? Certainly, but that was more about affirmation than realization.

So please watch. Please.
 
And please, feel free to comment. I get very few comments on these types of posts, and those I do get are usually from likeminded folks. Christians, I encourage you to express yourselves here. Understanding cannot happen without discourse. But please keep it respectful. Disagreement is okay, verbal bludgeoning is not.
 
Thank you.
 
 
 
 


 



8 Comments:

  • At 11:34 AM, Blogger Carol said…

    Many thanks to this guy for verbalizing what I often try to!

     
  • At 11:45 AM, Anonymous marna said…

    I watched this with interest.

    I think what's amazing to me is that the world would assume that someone who doesn't believe in God isn't a moral and upstanding person with values - maybe the same kinds of values as myself.

    What's mind boggling to me is that people in general attempt to tell one another regardless of the subject matter how they should be feeling, or what they think is really going on inside of them which is just plain stupid. Unless you are a therapist who's well versed in people, their emotions, and what have you -- you really need to keep your big fat trap shut and keep your opinions to yourself. I really hate that. It's one of my biggest pet peeves.

    I think that Christians get such a bad rap because there's a lot of them - they are a huge group, they are the loudest, and I think that some Christians believe out of fear when if you really take a look at Christianity that's not what that faith is based on.

    I know that both sides - those who ascribe to a faith and those who are atheists are extremely defensive about their beliefs or lack thereof.

    What I don't agree with is that belief is not a choice. It is -- you take information in, you learn about it, you educate yourself about it -- and then you decide. We make choices every day about lots of things. Anything else is semantics which is what causes issues in the first place.


    Thanks for sharing this with me.

     
  • At 12:16 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Marna,

    My feeling with regard to choice is that the intrinsic belief or disbelief is already there. The information we seek is an attempt to validate those already present inclinations. We may think we're choosing, but really, we're just affirming. But that's just my personal feeling about it. Thanks for your comments! As always, constructive and thought provoking.

     
  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous marna said…

    The other thing that I wanted to say but I didn't -- something I struggle with every day.

    If there is nothing after this life. If when we die we die and that's it. Then I will never ever see the two daughters that have died as children. I won't see my grandparents ever again and I loved them so very much. My parents are still alive and I know one day they are going to die and I would selfishly like to see them again. My best friends -- the idea of not seeing them is just incredibly sad to me. And then the love of my life -- my husband the idea of not seeing him again after death is just so sad -- and last but not least my son. Man I am just getting choked up typing these words and thinking -- when I die that's it - the idea of not seeing my boy -- brutal.

    I am not sure if you have seen the movie What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams -- but when I saw that movie it was then that I realized that I did hold a belief in something and that movie pretty much sums up what I think the MY afterlife is going to be like.

    I do know I am an anti-fundamentalist. But I do think have a belief in a higher power.

     
  • At 2:13 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    I guess it's not sad to me because I never expected that anyway. I do see how it really bothers some people though.

     
  • At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Gurukarm said…

    Look! He doesn't even have horns on his head! (being silly here, hope you know!)

    I appreciate this video as well, because although I'm not an atheist, I am often an agnostic, and even when I feel full of faith, I'm not a Christian (even in spite of having been brought up in such a household, as you were, BA) and lots of Christian folks don't think any other faith counts, either.

     
  • At 6:18 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    Yes. That. :-)

     
  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger Margaret said…

    I'm not an atheist, but definitely not a Christian. (more of a deist?) However, I deal with the same prejudice as anyone who dares NOT to be Christian in my town.

     

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