February 27, 2006

Stranger in a Strange Land

(or, why I've been gone so long)

I lost someone I love very much recently. It was very unexpected. It did however lead me to a discovery that was most amazing.

My family is xian. Lite-weight to be sure, but xians just the same. So, I went to a mass of xian burial for this person. (Luckily, it wasn't in a church). The pastor was female (because Methodists are cool like that) and was there the whole three days. At the wake there were so many people packed into the funeral home that all were shoulder to shoulder- unable to move. After the funeral, people lingered around the coffin despite the 10 degree weather.

Despite this being the absolute worst few weeks of my life, something surprising and fantastic happened at the funeral. Sitting there with my brothers and cousins, listening to the pastor I realized something. You know those sales pitch vacations? You know, the come to Florida to this gorgeous hotel for a free (or really cheap) weekend vacation - but you have to come to this six hour long sales pitch about time shares?

That's exactly what religion is. Half the service was about gawd and jebus - random Psalms, and verses. You have to sit through the mind-numbing and childish gawd sales pitch in order to get to why you came there- to hear about the loved one passed away.

After she was done babbling on and on, the mayor got up and did the eulogy. It was what we wanted to hear. Funny stories about the one passed, and laughter instead of sobs, if only for a moment.

Then, the pastor got back up to close and asked everyone to recite the Lord's Prayer. (You know the one drilled into your head like a bad ad jingle?) And absolutely no one in my row recited it. I was sitting with my brothers and cousins, and not ONE of them spoke the prayer. I thought perhaps they just didn't know it.

At the luncheon that followed we all sat together and I mentioned that no one said it. And something fantastic happened. Nearly all of them (10 in total) piped up with "We know it, but who believes that stuff?"

The one who passed would have been very proud to know they left behind a family of free thinkers, and who maintain it, even in the face of unexpected death and crushing grief.

(sidebar: this finally gave me the opportunity to talk with my new bf about the fact that I'm an atheist. He took it better than I expected, though it was clearly not something he agrees with. But that's cool. He doesn't have to agree with me, as long as he doesn't try to change my mind as I make no attempts to change his.)

February 06, 2006

A Dilemma

A while back (I can't remember how long) I broke up with a guy I'll call Mike* because after a year together, it was revealed to me that he was a theist. Now, let me explain. I didn't break up with him for being a theist. I broke up with hime because he lied to me for that entire year claiming to be an atheist. It turned out he just said he was an atheist because he thought I wouldn't date him unless he were. Apparently, lying about his faith was okay as long as he was getting a piece.

He wasn't an uninvolved theist - he goes to church several times a week, he is a Eucharist minister, he used to be in the choir. And lied to me about it the whole time.

I don't truck with liars. When I found out, we had a nice big fight about it and I haven't talked to him since. No real loss considering every word out of his mouth is a lie. And to continue on his path to righeousness, after we broke up he spread a bunch of lies about me to our mutual friends - just to cause as much damage as possible. Good to see religion is improving him. /sarcasm.

Cut to November of last year when I met my current boyfriend Jim**. I was into Jim the first time I saw him. He is direct and honest, though a little shy and oh-so-good-looking. Jim is also a theist.

Here is my dilemma.

I dumped Mike for lying to me about being a theist. But I have yet to tell Jim that I am an atheist. Why? Because right after I met him, his grandmother - who raised him and to whom he was very very close - had a stroke and died suddenly. Just before Thanksgiving and her 80th birthday. Obviously he was crushed. Even now, he is still greiving. When he talks about her, my heart breaks for him.

He's not overtly religious - but rather a twice a year xian (easter and xmas), though no church. But, he has mentioned his grandmother being in a "better place" and how there must be a life after this one. He loved her very much and still misses her.

I don't think my atheism would be a deal-breaker for Jim. Under normal circumstances, I doubt he'd care at all. But, how in the world am I supposed to tell him about the atheist aspect of myself without it looking like I'm just pissing on his grief? How can I tell him I don't believe in an afterlife when someone he loved very dearly has just died?

But, on the other hand, I feel like a fraud not telling him. I haven't claimed to be a theist (unlike mike) - I've simply said that I don't celebrate xmas and that I don't believe in hell. Come to think of it, he may have already guessed.

If anyone is out there - what would you do?

*- names have not been changed to protect the crappy ex's identity.
**- names of fabulous new boyfriends haven't been changed either.

February 02, 2006

Step Right UP! Test Your Strength!

Found this via Brian Flemming's Blog - "The God Who Wasn't There" guy.

The next time a theist tells you this country was founded on Xianity's principles direct them here: What Do You Know About The Separation of State and Church?

< brag mode >I got 20 out of 21. < /brag mode >