Monday, April 30, 2012

Five Confessions From An Atheist

A Siren singing her song.

What would an atheist confess to? The question has been rattling around my head for the last day or two and here are five things that theists may find interesting about this atheist. 

5. I miss the certainty I felt when I was a believer.

When I was a believer I didn't worry about the BIG questions. Why worry about your purpose in life? You are God's child -- everything else is gravy. And a lot of my conceptions about heaven were really formed by watching bad 70's and 80's TV. One of the common plot devices in those sitcoms was that a character dreamed he or she died and went to heaven and had all of their questions answered. Didn't know where that lost sock was? God was going to tell you. Did your girlfriend cheat on you in 8th grade? All will be revealed. What I found out was that one of the side effects of not worrying about your place in the universe was that I really was concerned about heretics and unbelievers quite a bit.

4. I really, really like churches

I'm a bit of an architecture geek. In Boston we have the Mother Church of the Christian Scientists as well as Trinity Church (Episcopalian), and I've taken the tours of both numerous times. When the Wife and I were in Chicago we went to a Catholic church that survived the 1871 Great Fire. We're going to Scotland and Norway next year (the wife has relatives in both places) and I'm sure we will drag the kids into a few cathedrals. Before entering I'll remind the kids that the builders might as well have built their structures to Lucky the Lucky Charms Leprechaun or to Count Chocula.

3. I love Handel's Messiah

My Mom was our church's organist/pianist, and every year our choir would join with another church's and they would put on a production of the Messiah. If you enter my house during the holidays the Messiah may be playing along with a variety of nonreligious tunes.

2. I have a tendency to think that white, male Republicans/
Christians are the "real Americans".

Look, I'm not happy about this either; I'm just being honest. When Bill Clinton first won the Presidency I had this sinking feeling of  "Oh no, one of them got in," and I voted for the guy. I just want you to know that I never had a warm gooey feeling about George Bush -- his stupid pretty much negated any positive feelings I had drilled into me for the white male patriarchy.

1. I was brought up Baptist, and I have that anti-Catholic script playing in the back of my head.

Now, you would think growing up a Baptist I would have been indoctrinated against Muslims. Nope. Because I'm old I didn't have a childhood with anti-Islamic propaganda in the home. My family disliked Catholics. Didn't like their Pope, who was obviously anti-American, and didn't like the idea that they prayed to all those saints. It simply wasn't Christian.

Indoctrination is a powerful thing. I was brought up to think and feel in some fairly maladaptive ways. Even though the effects of faith-based indoctrination have been minimized, I can still hear the Siren song from those memes.

Those of you who were brought up in faith hear the Sirens, too.

Don't listen to them.

This is Purgatory.


  1. I think I am lucky. I was brought up Catholic but really do not hear any "sirens". I think it is because I started questioning whole system in 7th or 8th grade. My questions were not great, and slow to form, and really slow in progressing to the "hard" questions. I suppose though, in my own way--at best I was never more than a "cafeteria Catholic". I think that may be why I do not here the sirens....unless my 70 year old parents are sirens...I hear from them plenty about my choices!

    1. Does being a cafeteria Catholic mean you ate a lot of Wonder Bread and mayonnaise?


Google+ Badge

Pageviews last month