Random Creepy Memory

Posted: June 19, 2013 in Stupid Bible Belt

When I was a kid, no older than 12 or 13, my little sister and I were visiting our grandparents on a snowy weekend. Now, this was a year or two before I’d jumped on the Jesus Freak express, but well after I was “saved” by a Gideon New Testament that was given to me under questionable legal circumstances. My sister, who was probably 5 or 6 at the time, was excited to bundle up and go frolic in the snow with her big sissy.

After making snow angels and gently lobbing snowballs in each other’s general directions, we decided to attempt to build a snowman. This was my first try at constructing a snowman with no adult supervision or assistance, so I was looking forward to showing my sister how it was done. He was lumpy and lopsided, but all he needed was a head.

After trekking to the back yard to find more snow, we gathered our cache and went to the front yard to finish our masterpiece. I paid no attention to the dark pickup truck that passed by until it looped around the block and stopped in front of us. The ancient man in the front seat (lookng back, he was probably only in his early 60s) rolled down his window and hollered for my attention. He asked if I believed in God and if we had a church to go to the next day, because God placed a burden on him to witness to us. I blushed and said yes we have a church and pointed to the chapel just down the street, the stone building which housed our family’s congregation. He offered up some small-talk pleasantries before heading on down the road.

Looking back I wonder, why did I not remember this until now? Had I really suppressed the memory, or did it just seem normal?

Now, I’ve always looked a wee bit older than my age, and at that point I had already been mistaken as my sister’s mother a couple of times despite only having a 7 year age difference. Regardless, this was a grown man offering to take two young girls in his truck to Zeus-Knows-Where. How does that not seem wrong???

I just felt the need to share that memory, since it resurfaced. I really don’t have anything else to say on it.

Coming Home

Posted: May 31, 2013 in Not-So-Stupid Family

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
–Proverbs 22:6, NKJV

This past weekend I went back to my hometown to visit my family. On top of being Memorial Day weekend, it was also the weekend of the church’s Homecoming service so my brother (the former youth pastor) and his wife and two beautiful children were down as well. Wanting to maximize our time with the family, my husband and I chose to attend the Homecoming service. Why not? There’s typically some music, an abbreviated sermon about coming home to Jesus, then free food.

Well, I was right on some counts. There was easy-to-sing-with music (I still love singing traditional church hymns), and some performances by small children doing “interpretive signing.” There was good food afterwards. And the message wasn’t really about Jesus at all. I was, however, about home.

Rather than the pastor speaking for 20 minutes, she chose five members of the congregation to speak about their connection to the church. My father was one of them. He cited the verse above, Proverbs 22:6, and spoke briefly about raising his children in the church. I could feel my grip tightening on my husband’s hand as my father mentioned me, living in another county with a husband while going to school, and how he was so happy to have all of his children there. (Afterward, my mom also mentioned how happy she was to have all of her children at church together.) Feeling my anxiety, my husband leaned over toward me and said “just remember, we’re good people, and we’re smart, and I love you.”

You know, I wasn’t even going to write about this. I haven’t written in so long because life’s good–I haven’t needed my little “piss and moan” public forum to let everything go because I haven’t needed to let anything go. But this is, as one of my former Sunday School teachers (another speaker that day) would say, heavy on my heart.

That Bible verse is spot on in describing me. My parents trained me up in the way I should go. Unfortunately for them, it’s not quite how the verse is commonly understood. The verse implies that if you rear a child within the big-C “Church,” that child will stay within the fold. That’s not quite what happened for me, though.

My parents trained me up to be inquisitive. I was encouraged to ask questions and learn. I was encouraged to think and grow as an intellectual. I just wish I could go to them and say “you know what? You were right. You trained me up in the way I should go, and I haven’t strayed from it. I’ve strayed from your religious views and the dogmas and theologizing that goes with it, I’ve strayed away from the idea of an omniscient overlord watching every movement I make and judging me for eternal torment. I haven’t strayed from being a moral human being, I’m not going to cheat and lie and steal just because I don’t believe in your magical skyman. I’m a good person, and I plan to continue being a good person. But I don’t need a god to be a good person.”

Cleaning Out My Closet

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

This month, I decided that the time has come.

I unsubscribed from the monthly Jesus Camp reunion email newsletter:

Email

I threw away all of my materials from Jesus Camp. All of the placemats I collected to “scrapbook” like everyone else, the song books, the contact information of everyone there, my notes and doodles from the seminars–almost everything is gone. I kept two things: the group photo, and the cookbook.

The cookbook was an obvious choice–the food was delicious and someday I’d like to possibly try to replicate that chocolate pecan pie (mmmm…pie).

But why the photo?

The thing is, this was still a major life event. I spent three days living with these women (and 4 men). I may not remember their names, but I can look at that photo and point out to you which people were in my group, who cried over what, and who actually tried to be my friend (even though, looking back, it was obvious that I didn’t even appear to be open to the experience). I don’t want to forget that experience or those people. So many of them were amazing, decent people, simply misguided by their desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves and their hope that death is not the end.

The experience helped shape my worldview, and showed me who I am–it helped me realize that this whole “atheism” thing isn’t a phase that will pass once I’m surrounded by “true believers,” and it showed me that I’m really, truly ok with that. It helped me realize that some people do need their faith to feel happy and complete, but I don’t. And that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with my brother for believing in capital G “God” and there’s nothing wrong with my friend believing in little g “gods” and there’s nothing wrong with me believing in no gods. Yeah, everyone needs to not be dicks or try to push their religions on people, and people need to not let religion get in the way of scientific advancement, but if somebody uses his or her religion as a catalyst to be a better person, why should we spoil that?

Last night we got our license plate for our new car, and what does it have on it?

In God We Trust,

in letters larger than the name of the state.

RageFace2

…yeah…not too happy about that one. I’m currently trying to decide how to deface it. While I could go complain to the car dealership or the county clerk, I’d rather do something a little more creative. I’m leaning toward either using my ghetto Photoshop skills to make a sticker that mimics the font and says “In Science We Trust”, or going the much more simple route and just putting a question mark at the end of the phrase.

Full Disclosure…Baby Steps

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while–I recently began a new job, plus I’m taking a full course load this semester.

Actually, the job is why I’m writing today, oddly enough. I’ve decided that, starting a new job in a new building with a whole gaggle of new coworkers who have never known me before, I’m going to be perfectly honest. I’m not going to walk in, guns blazing, shouting “I AM GODLESS!” I am, however, not going to hide it if the subject comes up.

At my last job, one of the first questions I was asked by a coworker was “What denomination are you?” I started by saying “I was brought up Methodist,” but was cut off before I could elaborate any further. After that point, most of my coworkers (other than a select few) never knew my religious leanings. I put up with all the mentions of “God is so great” and “He has blessed us” and held my tongue; as far as I know, only three of the coworkers who knew my beliefs (or non-beliefs, as it were) still work there and only one holds similar ideals. (The other two who know I’m an atheist also left there for school-related reasons.)

Thinking back to that job, it makes me sad that I rarely have any more contact with my one non-religious friend* there. We had great conversations about books and religion and science, and I think that, given enough time, we would be thick as thieves. I feel like I’m losing touch with her without that daily interaction, and I really regret that. Hanging out with her would probably be the only reason I would’ve stayed at that job.

Now at my new job, I’m trying to be open. It’s a little tough, since I’ve already heard people bringing up campus ministry groups and I’m a little intimidated that they’ll try to “win me to Christ.” However, I know the evidence and I know my stance.

Baby steps.

*I don’t want to force anyone out of the closet, and I know this person is not fully out with everyone, so no names. I suppose I could give her a pseudonym like I gave myself, but that takes time and effort.

Seriously?

Posted: January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

I love the song “Hallelujah,” as should everyone on the planet. It’s an amazing, soulful, bittersweet song. It’s been covered numerous times (most famously by Rufus Wainwright). It’s a song that you can play while crying, or having sex, or walking down the aisle on your wedding day.

So that’s why I can’t stand shit like this:

That, my friends, is an abomination written by Marvin Olasky, the editor-in-chief of a Christian rag called “WORLD Magazine.” Olasky determined that the song was too sacrilegious and sexual, and needed a heaping dose of the Holy Spirit. Of course, we heathens need to hear this “parody” of the song because we know in our hearts that God is real. Olasky denies the existence of atheists because we know God’s real (just another case of “the Bible says it so it must be true!”)

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good parody. Weird Al Yankovic is one of my favorite musicians. It’s one thing when a song is parodized for humorous effect; it’s another thing entirely when a song is bowdlerized to make it suitable for dainty Christian ears. If you can’t stand to listen to the song as written, either find an instrumental version (like this fantastic version by Allison Crowe, which accompanied my walk down the aisle) or DON’T LISTEN TO THE FUCKING SONG!

In other news, every time I write one of these posts that turns into a rant, I feel like Amanda Bynes in the All That sketch “Ask Ashley.” I guess that’s a risk everyone takes when they get on the internet!

Happy New Year!

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Stupid Family, Uncategorized

So…the holidays weren’t entirely horrible. Other than a minor kerfluffle concerning “holiday” cards and “taking Jesus out of schools,” it wasn’t so bad.

My brother the preacher, typically the main antagonist in these tales of folly, bemoaned the lack of “Christmas” cards at Walmart. Apparently Walmart only sells “holiday” cards, which is offensive to Jesus. (According to my research, Walmart labels their cards according to theme–it is assumed that they are *all* Christmas cards. I think he was referring to their “Holiday Time” branding.) I tried to point this out, but I was quickly shut down by a segway about “taking God out of schools.”

My oldest cousin is one of the few people in my family able to rival my brother in blind faith and general closed-mindedness. She insisted that this was a conspiracy by “the liberals,” and it all goes back to them “taking God out of schools.” My brother the preacher pointed out that students can still read their Bibles and pray, proudly proclaiming that his daughter prays every day in the cafeteria. Cousin went on to say that it was not enough–they need Bible readings and teacher-led prayer.

I love you, Cousin, but are you FUCKING MENTAL? If you want your kids to pray and read the Bible as part of class, shell out the money for fucking parochial school! I do plan on one day having a family with my husband, and there is no fucking way I’ll send them to a theocratic reprogramming center–I’d rather homeschool my future sperm blossoms than send them into that.

Of course, instead of going on this tirade to my cousin, I held my tongue. My silence was my gift to my family.

Now it’s the new year, and I’m hoping it might lead to some insights and understanding concerning family and belief.

Happy New Year, guys:)