Hello my Freaky Darlings,
What I’m about to say is probably going to get me into a lot of trouble, but hey, lets face it, I’m always in the shit. It’s just the depth that varies.
I’m the only atheist in my family. My mother, brother, and sister are all good church going folk who, I think, are always hoping that I’ll grow up one day and see the error of my ways. My sister went through a phase where she was constantly praying for my soul and she often called me in tears because I wouldn’t be able to meet her in heaven when I died. My saying that I didn’t want to go to heaven, because none of my friends would be there probably wasn’t the response she was hoping for. My brother and I were, until recently on similar pages, but he’s now gone over to the dark side.
My mother introduces me to her religious friends by calling me her little atheist. The introduction comes with a patronising pat on the head. She also often asks me to go to her church gatherings, I say yes because I feel bad making her go on her own. I think she asks me because she thinks I don’t have a life and she doesn’t want me vegging out in front of the TV or glued to my lap top. Apparently that leads to depression. I, on the other hand, quite like being glued to my laptop, most of my friends are on the other side of my internet connection.
The problem is that I never enjoy these little churchy gatherings. The last time I went, one of her church choir buddies tried telling me that writing wasn’t work. It took a lot of effort on my part not to ram a fork through his hand. Then of course, as with any church gathering, talk turns to religion. I usually manage to bite my tongue really hard, but my mother always gets it in the ear from me afterwards which can’t be very pleasant for her. She just nods and smiles and eventually I get the hint that she really doesn’t want to hear it.
My sister has three adorable children who I love, but I was never at any of their christenings. I planned to attend them, since as their aunt it’s what’s expected. Strangely enough I always managed to over sleep the mornings of and never quite made it to the church. I did however make it to the after party and had to deal with my sisters disapproving shake of the head and the unspoken disappointment. What can I say? I’m a bad sister!
So when my brother announced that his new born son was going to be baptised, I promised myself that I would be a good sister for a change and do the supportive thing, especially after everything he’s been through recently. That come Sunday I would drag my sorry ass out of bed, slap a smile on my face and try and keep an open mind. That’s all he asked, that I keep an open mind. He even tried telling me that some of the churches ideas might appeal to me. Boy, was he wrong.
Sunday morning came and I put on a nice dress (I was informed that I was not allowed to wear pants. A hat was also a good idea, but thankfully optional). The open mind thing didn’t last very long. The moment we arrived I felt like I was from an alien planet. It started with the hand shaking and constantly being called Sister by people I’d never met. By the tenth sloppy hand shake I was about ready to bolt. Then I saw my nephew in his adorable little outfit. He looked so cute I temporarily forgot about heading for the hills.
As is usually the case, everything went downhill after that. From the words of the hymns the congregation sang to the incredibly long sermon the priests gave (yes, there’s more than one priest). We arrived at 8:30am and only got out of the church at 10:30, by which time my bum was numb and my heckles were up. Everything about the service pissed me off. The whole thing pushed every one of my buttons. From being told that I had to be obedient (I’m sorry, but I will not obey. I’ve never been the obedient sort. Ask my parents), to: that my life is meaningless and has no purpose unless I’m preaching the word of god and evangelising (My life has plenty of purpose. It has purpose because I choose to give it purpose and that purpose has nothing to do with preaching about an imaginary, judgemental, power hungry, absentee father figure), that I am weak without god (I’m sorry, but who you calling weak?). Now some will say “What’s wrong with that?” And I have to say a shitload!
I think, if anything, this experience crystallised what I have against religion. I have nothing against people wanting to believe in a god, if it gives you some comfort – great. I, personally, just can’t believe in something that wants to make me less than I am, that wants me to be weak. Religion, to me, seems to be about giving an external force all the power, instead of internalising that strength. It seems to be about giving your personal power away, and to me that can never be a good thing. It also seems to be about giving up responsibility, instead of standing up, on your own two feet, and saying “Yeah! I did that. I screwed up”, it becomes “The devil made me do it!” And then it becomes about getting some judgemental father figure to forgive you, instead of being able to forgive yourself. I thought I had daddy issues.
I realise that there are some people who have found a spiritual path that works for them and they will disagree with pretty much everything I’ve just said. To them I say, good for you! I really am happy for you and I wish you the best. Your path and spiritual or religious beliefs just aren’t for me. None of what I’ve just written is meant as a judgement, it is simply my impression and my opinion. I think in future, I should just stay away from religious functions and gatherings. It never ends well if I go to them. Plus it’ll probably prevent family members from getting pissed off with me.
So my friends … misbehave horribly!