October 15, 2012

please don't pray for me

to say i have had a rough few weeks would be an understatement. i understand that those around me have had it even rougher and i am not for a second suggesting a giant pity party. but neither am i suggesting that any of this was for even a second part of some grand plan that i am too simple to understand. i understand that there are things in this world that we can't comprehend yet but it is not because there is an invisible imaginary personified deity pulling all the puppet strings who soothes me when i cry and answers my needs.
am i bitter? yes. for right now i am. i am usually more of a "to each his own" kind of person but right now i am angry. i am angry that i am watching people i love follow blindly, sweep things under the rug, give thanks to god for things that they should be grateful to family and friends for, ignore people who are hurting because god has a plan for them and they don't need to worry about those who disagree with them. hmm. judging by that doozy of a run on sentence it seems i am really in vent mode.
there are two distinct reasons. first is because of a funeral i went to. and yes i am mad that someone i loved died. but i don't blame god. i blame people. and for right or for wrong i blame specific people. i blame them for what happened when he was young. i blame them for how they treated him as he was older. but i also blame them for not respecting the person that he was. he was an atheist. and the memorial service was a full out church service. is the service meant for the living? to comfort those who remain? sure. but it should reflect the person you are celebrating. and when i brought this up i was told that "no one knows what he was thinking in his last hours and we should assume that he came back to god" no. we shouldn't. why should we? when i die will you assume that i found god? don't. don't say goodbye to me with prayers and religion. if praying makes you feel better than please do but not for me. for you. religion seems to me more and more selfish.
i am not an atheist because i don't know better. i am not an atheist because i am lacking something. don't nod and smirk and pretend that you know something i don't because you stopped looking. you filled all of your questions with "because he has a plan for us." it is lazy. it is simple and it is frustrating.
second i am sad at the loss of a friend. this happened when i came home. and while i appreciate that prayers help some feel better. they don't help me. i see no purpose. and i get comfort out of my relationships with friends and family. only my friend, my best friend, was so wrapped up in playing pretend family with a stuffed moose and praising god for his new love life that he couldn't be bothered to simply ask if i was ok. a stuffed moose.
and his family keeps saying that god is so good for giving them to each other. it wasn't god. it was his simplistic obsessive mind making a fictionalized version of a crush. it was the simple logistics of families living near each other.
i am tired of hiding what i say or post or think because i might lose a friend. i see post after post of praise for god and i just let them be. believe what you will. but anything i post is argumentative and a slap at someone's belief. how? how is that true?
christians are no being persecuted in this country but don't dare disagree with them. please. believe what you want. celebrate your faith however you see fit but stay out of my life. i am not broken. i do not believe what you do. that is all. i will not find it later because i choose science and logic and reason. that means that i will continue to question and learn and grow. i did not settle for answers that started and myths to comfort those who were frightened by mysteries.
so yes. today i am angry and bitter. because their god took away my ability to say goodbye to my cousing. and because i don't believe, my best friend is no longer my best friend.
i find that while religion professes love it is very selective about who it loves unconditionally.

Posted by michelle at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2011

Open Forum

I am seriously considering opening this blog up to a few select people with opposing views. I have always been serious that simply hiding your head and believing what has been handed to you without question is wrong. In that spirit, and a desire to have real conversation without accusation or derision, I may open this space up a bit. If I truly believe that questioning and learning is the only way to really come to the truth (and that's truth with a small "t") then this makes sense.

If you are interested please let me know. As always, the comments are open to any respectful discourse.

Posted by michelle at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2009

A rare event

Church. Yup, you heard me, church. And not for a wedding, funeral, or other such occasion. Just church. If you know me, you know that this is something that isn't likely to happen and yet, this morning, I got the boys up, showered, dressed and out of the house with little or no stress and headed off to church.

The real reason was to see a friend who was playing in the band this morning. Their family is very, very dear to me. In addition, I've always promised that if the boys were interested, I would take them. I won't make up their minds for them. They can choose. It isn't like choosing to be a Yankee fan--that will get you banned and disowned--this, this I can almost understand. Almost.

It was much as I expected as far as the contemporary worship went. I wasn't surprised by the logistics of it all. I have to admit though that I was feeling awkward and out of my element. I couldn't relax, couldn't stop feeling like I was the square peg, couldn't stop twitching at my meditation bracelets and picking at invisible fuzz on my shirt. The boys were good. They were just a little restless but enjoyed the music. But see, here's the thing: I enjoyed the idea of the music. It was played well. I enjoyed it on that level. I loved watching my friend play. But somehow, I couldn't get past the lyrics. There was a part of me that would have liked to sing but not to worship, only because I love music. I get something out of harmonies and rhythms that as I looked around I realized that other people get out of the lyrics. It felt hypocritical to sing. In a traditional church I sing. I know the hymns and they are, well, traditional. There's something about the history, the composers, the choral structure that allows me to sing and participate without feeling that I am being hypocritical. So, while I enjoyed the talent and the music, there was no singing for me.

It was very contemporary which for me was both interesting and unsettling. I'm an atheist. I can, however, see a draw in the tradition and social aspects of religion. I can see how one might take comfort in a community of like minded people. It makes sense to me. And in that way, I can see how even a contemporary service allows for that kind of interaction. For me, stripped of tradition, I am left with only the theology and that is problematic.

The pastor was engaging and entertaining. I didn't find my mind wandering even once during the sermon. I did however, experience a near panic attack early on--my eyes darting over to the door, wondering if I could use the boys as an excuse to bolt. But the boys were on their best behavior and I would not influence them. So I took my meditation beads and one after the other passed them between anxious fingers until I had settled back down. I looked for a common thread instead of focusing on how different we were. It is difficult to find. It is difficult, but it is indeed there. The difference is not whether or not we are moral or whether or not we want to live a life that is worthwhile and meaningful. The difference comes in how we choose to focus our intent.

I tried. I tried to listen and understand but it is not who I am. It apparently is also not who my boys are either. I am sure that I have influenced them. It is inevitable. But they were respectful and curious and I was proud of them.

I am willing to admit that there are things that I will never be able to explain in this world--that there are things that no one can explain--and to me that's acceptable. It's even awe inspiring. The difference is that I don't assign that awe to a god. It isn't a flaw in my character. It is what I believe. Interestingly, my friend said that he didn't think I could be converted because I had no beliefs to convert. That isn't true. It is not a lack of belief, it is not a lack of a moral compass that makes me an atheist. I believe differently than he does, than most of my family does. I have faith in people, in the people I love, but do not need to and will not hand over the control of my life to a mythology that seems not to apply to me. I am who I choose to be. It is a mantra that I use often when meditating. I have free will. I have a choice. And I am who I choose to be. It isn't easy to take that kind of control and more often than not I fail. But I still try.

Two good things came out of this morning--at least two good things, maybe more. I got to share something that is very special with a family that I respect and love almost as much as my own family. I got to see a major part of their life and understand them a bit better. Because I don't agree doesn't mean I don't respect the kind of commitment that they have to their faith and to that community. I envy them that on some level. I respect the way that they live their faith. I would love to sit and talk with them and find the common ground. I know that it is there. The other thing is that, in some way, the service only reinforced my own beliefs. Once I felt less like a stranger and more like an observer, I was comfortable because I knew who I was. It took a very long time to get to this point in my life but it is a good place.

Am I going back? That's up to the boys. For them, I would go. For me? It was good to share that and to experience a part of something that I usually am on the outside looking in at. I know that it is not for me but knowing that allowed me to appreciate this morning in a way I could not have done not so long ago. So yes, I went to church and I didn't wear a sign that said atheist and no one tried to convert me. We just shared a little of who we are and I'm glad for that

Posted by michelle at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2008

Teenage certainty

I'm not sure why I find it so much more grating to hear the certainty of teenagers about "truth" and "prayer." Perhaps, it's because they haven't had a chance to experience anything that would give them a solid footing for these kinds of revelations. Perhaps, it's because at this point all they know is what has been brainwashed into them. Yes, brainwashed. Children are not Christian or Jewish or Buddhist by choice and thought. They are those religions because someone told them they should be, told them that was what was right, etc.

And yes, I believe there is something to be said for tradition and heritage, but to prattle on about it as if it were more than that, as if everyone else were wrong because your parents told you so, is irritating and simplistic.

Sorry, grumpy today.

Posted by michelle at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2008

And you buy that?

One year J asked me what Easter was about. So I told him. I told him the Easter story as best as I could remember, leaving out the more gruesome parts that are meant to make people feel guilt over mythology. He pondered this for a minute, looked right at me and asked, "And people really buy that story?"

I suppressed a giggle, and a bit of pride, and said that yes, people do believe it and it's important to them so please be respectful when you see them.

If J would have said that it was a touching story, or that he wanted to learn more, I would have encouraged his curiosity. But I was relieved that he could see it for what it was...a story. A myth.

Part of me is glad that people that I know find some sort of comfort in the story. But part of me is also saddened that it seems that it is accepted blindly as a means of explaining things that cannot be explained, as a guilt ridden guide or painful moral compass. Is it that there is no moral compass without an archaic mythology meant to assuage the fears of those who didn't understand the world around them?

When children recite this unthinkingly and without question, I am saddened. I hope that there will come a day when they think for themselves instead of being lured into a handed down set of beliefs for the sake of a feeling of belonging. In any other circumstance, we would tell them not to do something, to believe something, just to fit in with a crowd. But here, it seems, that advice goes unheeded. And if, after independent and critical thought came into play, they choose to go forward and continue the myth, that's their preference. But far too often there is little thought involved. It is passed down without question and fed with social groups and peer pressure. Yes, peer pressure of the "positive" kind exists.

Traditions are comforting. And some should be passed down. But there is a difference between passing down family tradition and putting on blinders so as only to see what conveniently fits. It's a bit self-centered to think that yours is a personal god, that your god, while busy creating and maintaining all things is going to take time out to hear you because you are so very worthy and deserving. It makes little sense to believe both that god creates all and that this same personified deity takes a little time out just for you, just to hear you, reward you or even punish you.

And when Easter rolls around, I can do nothing but quietly shake my head when I think that people I know, that I deem reasonably intelligent believe this story as more than a fable, as historically accurate. As J says "Do they really buy that??"

So me? I will enjoy Spring with it's promises of new life without the invention of a story that too conveniently echoes it's non-Christian predecessors. In the immortal words of Eddie Izzard, "Bunny rabbits are for shagging, eggs are for fertility. It's the Spring festival."

A few quotes for tonight:

Buddha - Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Stephen Roberts - I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

Thomas Jefferson - The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter (in a letter to John Adams, 1823)

Thomas Jefferson - Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are serviley crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blind faith.

Katharine Hepburn - I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other. (Ladies Home Journal, 1991)

Posted by michelle at 12:21 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2008

Well behaved with good intentions

Happy New Year.

I know it's been quiet around here but we've enjoyed the holidays and stayed away from any of the War!On!Christmas! nonsense. We had a fun Yule party and a peaceful xmas and now we are on our way to the new year.

I posted resolutions elsewhere but I wanted to add one here. I want to do a little more, reading, a little more research. I want to work on understanding my beliefs a little better and understanding others' beliefs a little better as well.

I'll keep a list here of books that I wander through but I am just hoping to spend a little more time reading, thinking, meditating.

Happy New Year to all--even if you celebrate New Year at a different time of year.

Posted by michelle at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2007

Add it to the list

There are reasons that I don't homeschool. First and foremost? The safety and sanity of all the members of our family, the tall and the small. Do I have ideas on what should be included in my kids' education? Absolutely. And I'll feel free to supplement when I deem it necessary. But I feel there is something important to be said for learning how to function in a society that has more than one viewpoint, for learning to respect other people's beliefs and for experiencing other cultures.

That said? Sometimes I think some of these people are crazy. Scary crazy. Please don't get me wrong. I know a lot of people who have successfully homeschooled their children and done a good, well-balanced job. But...as a result of participating in NaBloPoMo on my other blog, I have been wandering around new sites via the randomizer. And it just seems to me that lately homeschool=christian. And not just any, but the "we're keeping our kids away from those dangerous scientists, liberals and atheists" variety.

Why is this? Why is religion so incompatible with education that people feel a need to segregate? Why can't religious values be taught separately from secular lessons? What kind of society are we creating by forming new barriers between people? Sure, a lot of home-schoolers have groups that they belong to but I am guessing that these groups are made up of like-minded people. Again, no way to learn to interact with people of differing views besides avoidance. It's all a little scary to me.

There are days when I would love to be in charge of every little thing that enters my kids' brains. There are also days when I am not drinking. Seriously, I am not capable of teaching, with any degree of competence, a high school level science curriculum. Could I teach some of the courses with competence? Sure. But not all. And what if my weaknesses could possibly be areas where my child would excel?

As far as theology, do I express my opinions at home. Absolutely. Most families do through teaching, tradition, church, etc. But that doesn't mean that I won't let my kids explore other ideologies if they are drawn to them. Am I going to break down and give up on them if they decide they want to go to church? No. Do you think that these kids who are being homeschooled the "christian way" would be allowed the same freedom to choose not to believe in a deity?

Get out there. It's a great big, scary, wonderful world. You give your kids the best you can and trust that they are prepared. For some, I guess that means home schooling. I just feel concern that the choice to home school isn't always predicated on more than one factor.

Posted by michelle at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2007

Am I just stirring up trouble?

I giddily donned my WWFSMD? t-shirt as soon as I tore open the eco-friendly packaging this afternoon. "It's here!," I giggled and commenced with the dancing.

And now, as I get ready to fight the good fight at a baseball meeting, where people pretending to be adults are elbowing in for the ever important control of 10 yr old baseball, I wonder if I am just stirring up trouble with my new apparel.

Is it possible? Me? Do I know in advance that I am one of the few that will find the humor in this? Do I know that I will have to do much explaining? Is the explaining the point?

Ah, screw it. FSM and I are going in ready to do battle both on the baseball and craziness fronts. And yes, sometimes, those are one in the same.

What I need now is a "I believe in the Church of Baseball" t-shirt. Hmmmmm.....

Posted by michelle at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2007

Other people's beliefs

Know what I love? I love having a discussion with someone about their beliefs when they are completely opposite your own and yet, without condescension or attitude, without defensiveness, with genuine interest, you can learn from each other.

Why is that so rare to find?

Friends of ours run a business that centers around their beliefs. And yet, because we like each other, respect each other, we can have interesting conversations. Wouldn't it be nice if that were the case more often? Wouldn't it be nice if conversation didn't screech to a halt at that awkward silence when you realize that perhaps the talk has veered into sensitive territory? You know you have friends that you love that you can't talk politics or religion with, friends that you stay on "safe ground" with.

Learning more about what other people believe and why and how they do that helps create tolerance. I've found that more secure people tend to know that.

Just a rambling post after a pleasant conversation the other night.

Posted by michelle at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2007

Testing the waters

Not parting them or anything, just testing. Mainly this is a site for my wanderings and ramblings and other things that I think might be best suited for their own space.

The name?

We watch a lot of baseball around here. No really. A lot. And when we aren't watching we are at the fields, year round, playing.

While watching a game one night we noticed a number of players who, upon safely reaching the promised land of first base, kissed a thank you up to the big guy. This strikes me as odd. I don't really believe in god--at least not a personified deity who interacts daily with each individual. So what I am wondering, since clearly he is being thanked for this great gift of a single is this...does jesus hate the pitcher? Didn't the pitcher pray for a strikeout? Or at least a grounder? Possibly he was greedy and was shooting for a double play ball to end the inning and thus needed to be struck down by the glorious single of his opponent.

So, it's a running joke around here. Whenever we see a player reach first base and thank the heavens for that blessed single, we chuckle a little and say, "Yup, Jesus hates the pitcher."

Now my spiritual views are a lot more complicated than that and it has taken years to get to the point where I am and I anticipate years more before I stop searching, learning, reading and examining. Then again, maybe the examination is really what's important. I read a quote once that said, "I am only one god more of an atheist than you are." Don't believe in Zeus? Ra? Allah? Well, then possibly you are an atheist as well. Just for different gods. It's all relative.

Sometimes I will sound a bit snarky here. It's my site. It isn't disrespect even if it is often disbelief and vigorous head shaking and eye-rolling. Believe what you want. It's good to believe in something. But allow me the freedom and respect to believe what I want as well. Light hearted humor, snarky rants, curious introspection, you'll probably find all of that here at times. Comment if you want. I'll only approve respectful conversation. Disagree if you want. That's fine too. I'll probably give you a lot of ammo.

I'll leave you with a favorite quote and then get to the important business of fiddling with the look of this place.

I believe in the church of baseball. I've tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones.I've worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic's rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn't work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there's no guilt in baseball. And it's never boring, which makes it like sex...It's a long season and you gotta trust it. I've tried them all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the church of baseball - Annie Savoy Bull Durham

Posted by michelle at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)