Atheist I Suppose
I was raised a Lutheran in the land of Bible thumping. Buuuut my parents weren't exactly good at getting me or themselves to church. I went to Sunday school when I was a kid until I hit the age of 6 (when we started hoping from town to town). Other than a few weddings, a funeral, fieldtrips, etc. I haven't gone to church since. And it's been a good thing because somewhere along the way I found out I didn't believe in God and I don't recognize the Bible as anything but a very old, overrated fiction book.
You could say I was a Luthern turned Atheist but the truth is I don't know if I ever truly believed in anything I was fed. I was six or so when my family stopped going to church. At that age, I treated Sunday morning services like a really long, really boring Disney movie where I was allowed to move. The preacher talked and talked about donkeys who spoke or an evil, horned man hiding underground or a magical garden. At six, these characters could be either real or fake, just like Pocahontas or Chip the Teacup, and I wasn't sure which. Neither did I bother thinking about it. When the talking got boring, I zoned the preacher out and kept myself quietly entertained.
So, you see, I don't know if I ever really was a Christian. I was just a kid afraid of the boogey man everyone called the devil and imagining angels who shared my ice cream.
Then the split from the church happened and I was fed less and less of the religious stuff. No more Bible verses to memorize. No more talk of demons or angels. No more brainwashing sermons. I won't lie and say I missed it. My parents would still bring it up now and again, for whatever reason but the exposure was muted.
Somewhere, I decided, officially, I didn't believe in that sort of stuff. I was and am a very logical person and, even discounting the religious following and the stupidity they have brought over the centuries, the Bible simply doesn't make sense to me. One minute God is a nice, loving guy and the next he's smiting entire towns without mercy. It talks about loving your fellows and then talks about mistreating those who don't agree with you or God. Could it be 'historically compatible'? I suppose. Could some of those things really have happened? Sure. But it's just so inconsistent and convoluted and unlikely and...bulldozing. Besides, I love the part that God supposedly gave us free will and then punishes us when we don't do what he likes. Yeah..."You can do what you want. But if you chose something I don't agree with you'll end up drowned buzzard food."
So Christian I am not. It's been a bit difficult over the years. My friends, my family, most everyone I know is a Christian (welcome to the South). Everyone assumes I'm the same. I've only told a few people that I am Atheist. Why? Because I'd rather not live under a microscope while others try to decide what to do with me. "Should we insult her? Should we ignore her? Should we try to give her the Word of God? Should we pity her? Should we hate her or should we love her?"
Living here without going to church is hard enough. When they hear I don't go, they usually have one of two reactions: give me a strange (semi-suspicious) look or offer to take me to church/tell me what churches are available/invite me to their church. It's exhausting to pick my way out of THAT one. If I wanted to go to church, I would. I appreciate the fervent prodding though.
But I don't pretend to be a Christian. I sneak away from those conversations as best I can. Well, I suppose lie by omission is still a lie but whatever. Still, I don't put on a show as if I were a Christian. If I told everyone I was an Atheist tomorrow, no one would really be surprised. Everyone, including my parents, suspects it already but want to believe otherwise. I find that rather amusing in a grim way.
If it makes them happy and doesn't make any difference in my life, why bother 'coming out'?
And in some ways, I prefer being an Atheist than a Christian. Not only do I NOT have to go through the rituals and ceremony to 'show my faith' but I also get to doubt, to question, to change my mind without any sort of guilt or pressure. I get to see that the strength that gets me through is inside me and does not come from some gentle, monstrous daddy in the sky. My behavior is dependent on me and how I want to live my life, not because I want to sneak into paradise when I die.
And I get to say 'that's their life' and butt the freak out. LBGT? It wouldn't be my choice but I'm not going to hate them for it or try to deny them their choice. Interracial marriage? So? Interreligious marriage? So? Sex before marriage? Whoop de doo. Religious people? Again, not my choice but not my decision either. Fly that freak flag, fellow homo sapiens! Masturbator, tattooed dude, druggie, dude who likes to call himself a wizard and scream out spells in the park? You go on with your bad selves just don't expect me to join in.
I get to enjoy Halloween.
I get to use condoms.
I get to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and see no real difference (you know what I'm talking about) and don't really get offended when someone 'corrects me'.
I get to appreciate the symbol of a cross as much as I do the Star of David or the weird hand, swirly cool thing or the ankh.
I get to sleep in on Sundays!
I get to live without the fear of Hell hanging over my head.
I get to judge a pastor by his behavior without even considering his career.
I get to be disturbed by the crap the Bible puts out there.
I get to feel only as important as anyone else on Earth.
I don't get to say the words sin or blasphemy or heretic with the usual intent or connotation.
That's more than most Christians get and I appreciate every bit. I don't want the devoted Christian lifestyle and it doesn't want me. That's cool. To each his own, I suppose. I'm just a little sick of the religious people being so ready to deny the rights of others. Then again maybe I'm being too hasty, surely there are some Atheists doing that too. But Atheist don't get to use to excuse 'the Bible says so' to justify themselves. And that's all I seem to hear these days.
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