Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking Responsiblity

I  have a policy when I get angry - get some sleep, re-address the issue in the morning before I write anything.  Most of the time it works and I wake up with some perspective.

Not this time.

Probably because I'm right.

I was reading The Friendly Atheist blog yesterday (click here for link) and came across an anonymous letter from someone seeking advice. The writer is a musician who has written/performed quite a bit of Christian pop music.
After attending a well-known Christian university in the Midwest, I headed for Nashville, where I wrote songs for (and recorded or performed with) many of Christian music’s biggest stars: Sandi Patti, Amy Grant, and many others. I’ve won Dove Awards (Christian music’s highest award) and even a Grammy Award, all for Christian music. Church congregations around the world sing my music. 
The problem is that the writer is an Atheist. He/she doesn't write God songs anymore but does sell material to major pop and country artists. Why doesn't this person come out and say, "Hey, you know about that religion thing? I was dead wrong. Sorry about that."
Although I’ve done well financially, I’m not independently wealthy. So, it’s important I maintain my fan base and keep them informed about new projects.
Oh, it's because you want more money. Though I get the distinct impression that this person won't be living in a cardboard box under a bridge anytime soon. They may have to make some kind of sacrifice for their belief that requires them to move into a smaller house. The horror.

So what's the writer's main existential issue? Is it that his/her music has helped spread superstition? Is it that their music may have (probably?) been played at anti-gay marriage love-ins? Is it that his/her music gives it's followers a warm feeling inside when they vote for pro-Intelligent Design candidates? Or possibly when religious fanatics block Planned Parenthood they are rock'n out to his/her songs?

So, I’m trapped: If I “come out” as an atheist, I’ll lose fans in droves. But by not doing so, I’m “condemning” myself to the “torture” of fans who assume I’m still a Christian. It’s not that I can’t hold conversations with Christians. Of course I can. What’s driving me nuts is the fact that so much of their conversation is God-centric. They can’t simply say, “Hello.” Instead, they greet you with, “Praise the Lord” and such. (Ugh.)
It's the fact that he/she has to deal with Pro-God comments on their Facebook fan page. It's the fact that his/her life is inconvenienced by fans who insist on talking the same crazy God talk that this person had been spewing for years. Pity.

Wait a minute.. I have to take my brain tonic so my head doesn't explode.

I like the Friendly Atheist, I'm a regular reader. The writer (there are several for this blog), Richard Wade, is smart and presents Atheism in an open and user friendly way. His response in this case is something I don't agree with.
My good friend, ethics expert Jim Lichtman agrees with me: If there was any ethical concern about being disingenuous, it was resolved when you stopped writing the songs, and you do not owe it to anyone to reveal your private, personal views and beliefs. Not then, and not now.
There is more and I suggest that you read the rest of it. I do not want to misrepresent Richard's response.

My response is obviously a bit more... visceral

Maybe the previous God singer-writer shouldn't be thinking about themselves as much. It seems a wee bit... Narcissistic. A wee bit, "I'm not taking responsibility for my past actions." A wee bit, "I have enough money to live on but gosh I'd love to make gobs and gobs more." I wee bit, dare I say it?


Many Americans have a problem with taking ownership for the mess we are currently in - minor things like: our petroleum addiction, obesity epidemic, and of course the Great Recession. Maybe, just maybe if we get our collective heads out of our collective asses we wouldn't be in shitville - population us. Maybe we need to sacrifice for the future while fixing our past mistakes.

I have another policy, I try my best not to be part of the problem, I try my best to be part of the solution.

It helps me from not being a dick.

In Purgatory.


  1. You sound like a priest, unwilling to accept the doings of a Christian (!!!) heretic.
    In this case, an Atheist (!!!)

    Relax, Atheism is not supposed to be a religion...

  2. Well, thanks for the comment first and foremost. Atheists are connected in their knowledge (best guess) that god doesn't exist.

    With that in mind Atheists shouldn't be afraid to talk about morality or their feelings about what happens in the real world. Homophobic Republican Senators (for example) who are secretly gay deserve the anger and ridicule that they receive. The person writing the letter is in the same category.

  3. I am an ex-christian and have come to hate religion - it disgusts me - and I would like to see it completely gone. I cannot tell you how much it personally sickens me.

    That said. I think it's not automatically this guy's problem to help fight that fight. It would be nice if he 'came out'. Every person that 'comes out', especially who is in the public eye, helps our 'cause', but they are not obligated. Consider that he might not even believe religion needs to be eradicated the way you (I am assuming you do?) or I do? The whole world is this guy's 'job', his livelihood. If you are willing to go into your next job interview and say "Hi, I am an ATHEIST", then good luck to you and even if you feel you would you can't insist that this guy should do the same. I know I wouldn't. And we don't get to decide that he could live on less money and so 'should' do this for us. If he likes his job and the money he makes, let him live this one life of his the way he wants. He doesn't have to jeopardize that to fight my fight. I have no right to ask that of him.

    "With that in mind Atheists shouldn't be afraid to talk about morality or their feelings about what happens in the real world."
    This is an opinion. You are free to live by it. This guy doesn't have to. Even for myself, this opinion of yours is situational. Sometimes I express my atheism, sometimes I avoid the topic. To argue it be the way of all atheists is 'dogma'.

    I am just happy that this guy isn't writing Xian songs anymore. That's a step in the right direction, a step for our 'cause'.

  4. I go with the Pottery Barn Rule: You Broke It, You Own It.

    I don't care who you are: Christian, Catholic, Atheist who gave and continues to give support to Christians, or regular Atheists, if you did something wrong then you should take ownership for it.

    Made the world a darker place for everyone else? Buck up Bucky! Get off your ass and fix your own mess.

    It's called being an adult.

  5. Ah, Idealism. Sounds "heavenly". I like the notion of a perfect world too. There just isn't such a thing.

    Being an adult is also considering the harm it could cause to the people attached to his life and other adult considerations. I don't think we can pretend to know enough about his situation to think he hasn't made the 'adult' decision.

  6. I totally agree with you about considering other people around them. However, this person's main concern is about her irritation with her fans, not the bad things she has done.

    As I said, this person isn't poor (read the original letter, this person has had considerable success) and whatever sacrifice (I know people don't like that word) she would have to make would not place her kids (if she has any) into the gutter.

    Being an adult is not about idealism, it's about rolling up your sleaves and making tough decisions.

  7. Okay, I've been watching this "back and forth" for a few days now and have bit my tongue, but I really need to get my own two cents in here.
    I'm having a very difficult time understanding how it is wrong to make a judgment call on an individual who is willing to reap the benefits of his Xtian past because he doesn't have the morals to just be truthful about who he is and what he believes.
    True, his personal beliefs are not anyone's business, but let's face it, he's made money off of peddling harmful bullshit. Yes, religion is harmful. Now that he no longer believes in the bullshit, he still wants to peddle it because it makes him money and that is okay? How is that morally acceptable? Try replacing the word "religion" with "heroin", and then tell me that's the right thing to do.

  8. I grew up singing Xian music, even recorded with a band. Thankfully I evolved past religion, and grew up.

    In the past couple of years, I've been placed in situations (family reunions, gatherings) where I was asked to sing a religious song. I politely declined as best I could. While I didn't make money from my music, I cannot imagine singing, condoning, writing, or performing religious music. If this writer was so successful writing Xian songs, then why can't he write secular songs...oh wait, that is because Xian music sucks...but so does newer country music, so....


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