The Double-edged sword

2015 has been the year of many deaths. These deaths have hit home close. First it was Frank, in the beginning of February, my Aunt Marjorie in April, and then a close friend Mark in the beginning of May.
Unlike my experience with grandmother (that being the very first taste of death I have ever experienced) when people came to me with religious words, I did not grow angry. I know the difference between potential indoctrination and someone just trying to comfort me.

Like I said in my last posts: you can be a good person with or without religion.

That being said, I wanted to share with you an experience I had just earlier this week.
For a background on where this story is going: Mark’s family is more on the conservative side and attend church every Sunday. When we had dinner with them, they prayed before their meal. They’re lovely people.
Mark’s younger sister has since then been in contact with me. We’ve gotten pretty close,  not like best friends but she will share her feelings and vent with me. I think she probably feels closer to her brother by doing so and if that makes her feel better then I’m glad to help.
Recently she sent me a text saying she was having issues being closer to Jesus.
She doesn’t know I’m an atheist and to be completely honest,  when she first started confiding in me about dealing with Mark’s death, I didn’t think it was necessary to just throw it out there. I was speechless, I had no idea what to say about it. If I were to say something religious, I’d be a hypocrite and if I were to tell her of my lack of belief,  I’d be watering a seed. I just wanted to do the right thing.
I asked two close friends about the situation. One an atheist and one a Christian.
My fellow atheist friend advised me to just be there for her and to ask her what she truly wants for herself and not her family. If she wants to accept christ then help her as much as I’m willing to. If not, then tell her that it’s ok to think for herself otherwise she risks being fake to herself and others.
I understand pre teens often prefer the influence of friends over  their families, especially in such a strict environment. But seriously, who am I to take away that last inkling of hope that her brother is okay? Families rarely like the influence of friends, especially incredibly religious families. Say she tells her family, they start investigating and find out that I’m an atheist? If I were to say something and encourage her,  I felt as if I’d be betraying not only Mark’s family but Mark himself.  Maybe if she was older, in college and had more of a mind of her own, I would be happy to help.
Like I said before, some people NEED religion. In order to help with addiction, to help them make it through the day without killing themselves,  and to help cope with a loss. And especially right now, she’s one of those people.
I spoke with my Christian friend as well. By the time our conversation ended, I couldn’t help but feel as if he were upset with me. As if I was a bad person for even letting her vent to me. I love my friend as a brother. We’ve had a discussion before when he first found out that I was an Atheist, but never again until this past week. He confirmed my theory that it would be hypocritical of me to not let her stray away but I also understood when he was sneaking in the passive aggressive jabs.
I ended up telling his sister to speak with my friends because they knew so much more about Jesus than myself . I feel as if I did the right thing, but didn’t at the same time (if that makes any sense).
Maybe one day I’ll forgive myself for feeling this way. Maybe one day I won’t feel bad for trying to help someone and having to question myself and beliefs (or lack thereof) before I say anything.  And maybe one day, people of all religions will give us the time of day and actually listen to our questions instead of judging us solely on our philosophies. Because that’s what they ask for as well.

The Double-edged sword

Good v. Evil

Let’s face it, some Christians do good things and some do bad things. Some Atheists do good things and some do bad things. We live in a fucked up world with fucked up people. Hitler was a Christian,Osama bin Laden was a Muslim, and Joseph Stalin was an Atheist. It’s hard to look on the bright side when these people have caused so many atrocities that will be forever burned into our history books until humankind dies out.

I know, I occasionally reblog the evils of Christianity (and all “Organized” religion) in its entirety on my Tumblr. I acknowledged in my last post the know-it-all neck beards and the boastful and hateful Fedora sporting asshats. They exist. I’m not saying their lack of belief is wrong however they way they go about it… Is why we receive the majority of the hate that we do.  It’s one thing to post on Tumblr, it’s another to get in someone’s face and try to debate them at your local Starbucks.
I’ve called out many fellow atheists for being assholes. It’s one thing not to believe, but to disrespect someone for no reason other than wearing a cross or saying a prayer before a meal…grow the fuck up.

Sorry for my use of f-bombs but repeating the memory in my head absolutely sets me off.
I’m tired of being compared to these assholes much like Christians are tired of being compared to Kim Davis, Catholics  being compared to the molest-y Priests  and Muslims being compared to Osama bin Laden.
Can we all just swallow our pride in times when someone needs us the most and be kind to one another?

Good v. Evil

Misconceptions

I have wonderful Christian friends. These friends are loving and caring people. Yes, it can be done. Atheism and Religion can get along! Alert the press!

I won’t lie, Christians do face some backlash here and there. Groups like The Westboro Baptist Church , people such as Kim Davis, and the many random Christian based cults that predict the end of the world make the people, as a group, look completely hateful, spiteful, bigoted, and uneducated. Not all Christians are like that.

Now because I’ve made that clear, I also want to make this clear as well:Not all Atheists are the hateful, boastful, know-it-alls they’re all made out to be. We’re not all fedora sporting “neckbeards” that sit behind a computer all day, mocking the religion and calling people names on a thread we don’t belong on in the first place. To those that are: Thanks for making us look like complete assholes.  Atheism has in fact come a long way, but we’re not out of the woods just yet. We still deal with a lot of criticism and hate towards us not only as a group but as individuals.

2010: My grandmother had suffered from Alzheimer’s for 5 years.  Her decline was almost daily.  Even though I didn’t believe in a higher power before her diagnosis, watching her go from the loving woman that always had a smile on her face to a person I didn’t know anymore cemented my lack of belief.

When she finally passed, I could physically feel  at least  a dozen different emotions boiling inside of me. Every time someone said ” God needed another angel”  Anger would be the emotion for the day.

Every time I overheard my parents say “She’s okay, she’s with God now” Sadness would hit me like a semi truck… because I knew she wasn’t.

I would deny this was even real when I would look at old pictures and still smell her perfume. However I was thrown back into reality when I had to assist in cleaning out her room. There was no bargaining. No one for me to bargain to, and that honestly hurt the worst. I have since accepted her passing. I sill shed a tear from time to time and wish she was here with us when we have our happy times. But she is gone. She’s never coming back, and I still accept it.

All Hell broke loose when I came out to my Mother. She was giving me some Shpeel about “God working in mysterious ways” when I blurted out: “Mom, I don’t believe in God.”

Being the uber conservative Catholic she is, she broke down. ” Secular Sphynx” She said in between merciless sobs, “You’re going to Hell.”

Now, a lot of people would take Hell as an insult.

“How could they say that about me?”

“I’m a good person!”

But Hell does not exist. I personally believe Heaven and Hell were made up to keep people in line. Much like the many, many end of the world “prophecies” places or events such as these are created in order to manipulate people.   It’s easy to control someone or a group of people by making them face their own mortality. So when my Mother told me “You’re going to Hell.” I brushed it off.

 Looking back, sometimes I think “maybe I shouldn’t have said anything”. Maybe I should have just shut the fuck up and pretended to believe she was in a better place”. Ha! It sure would have saved my relationship with my family but honestly, I couldn’t. And if I had to go back, I wouldn’t.
Even if I tried, I can’t bring myself to actually believe she’s living an eternal life somewhere. That she’s “up there” with a God that helps people find their car keys instead of saving the children that are murdered with machetes.
I honestly think that some people hate Atheists and Atheism because they shatter that perception of “everything is going to be okay”. For some people that’s what they NEED. They NEED that perception or illusion to make it from day to day. And you know what guys? That’s okay. 

Misconceptions

Coming out

It was December 27th 2010 when I finally came out of the closet.  I was terrified, but also had a fire burning inside of me. This fire had built for the last 20 years and the fuel that was added to it just increased the flame.  So many years of feeling guilty, isolated, and alone had me at my last wit. Growing up in a conservative Irish Catholic family, guilt was natural but I couldn’t shake the feeling of my indifference. I felt “off” in a way that could only be described as empty and alone when it came to my thoughts.
I was sent to a private Catholic School from Kindergarten until 8th grade. Even while having the religion and lifestyle shoved down my throat on a daily basis, I couldn’t help but have that cricket on my shoulder telling me it was all wrong.  I swallowed my pride and held my tongue, hopefully one day it will click and come to me as it did to my elders as well as to my siblings. Church was not helping whatsoever. From Sunday mass (and catechism afterwards) to our Wednesday Mass during the school week, I still couldn’t shake that cricket off of me.  I was 20 years old when I decided to come out to my parents as an Atheist.
There wasn’t a near death experience or any other life altering moment to guide me on my journey for the truth. In fact, there was never a time when I used to believe in this “God” that everyone spoke so highly of.  Being only but a child and denying the existence of one being much BIGGER than my Mom and Dad… it was insanity.  No matter how hard I prayed or tried to believe, I couldn’t REALLY, ACTUALLY buy into the story about this man that lived in the sky.
I’m not calling myself a “whiz kid” or trying to portray myself as some genius child prodigy but I remember being very self aware as a child. I remember, December 1997. My parents were coming home from camping when we were involved in a hit and run. A truck was speeding on the gravel camp ground trail, and fish tailed as they turned the corner. They ended up hitting  my families minivan; breaking the window and sending glass flying onto me. I was laying down for some reason, I don’t exactly know why. My Mother screamed and held me in her arms saying “God is with us” When in fact I never felt so far away from this “God” character. If he was there for us now where was he when the drunkards smashed into us? I remember thinking that for many, many years after the accident.  I made it out okay with a bloody nose and a few scratches. Looking back on it today, it could have been much worse. My relatives said it was a “miracle” and that I “have a guardian angel”. I remember thinking to myself, verbatim: “He must have been on a bathroom break.”
I never really had a huge group of friends. I didn’t quite get along with other kids growing up. I’ll admit, I was a buzzkill. What else are you supposed to say to a bunch of 7 year olds when they carelessly run around with the talk about going to heaven if they happened to fall off the swing set. I witnessed a cornucopia of broken bones, knocked out teeth, and black outs due to doing stupid things  with the promise of “It’s okay, I’ll just go to Heaven!” right before.
Something didn’t make sense to me that chilly day. When we got into the accident my mother and father were worried that I might’ve died. If I had died wouldn’t I just have gone to heaven? If so, shouldn’t they be happy?

Coming out