Jump to content

IPBoard Styles©Fisana

Photo

Openly Secular Day


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 SteveT

SteveT

    100% a Dick

  • Members
  • 5,060 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 23 April 2015 - 02:12 PM

So apparently this is a thing?  http://www.openlysecularday.org/  It's kind of ridiculous that America needs such a thing, but "atheist" is still a dirty word in some parts of the country.

 

Anyway, if you dig through Contro archives you can probably watch my deconversion.  Here's the abridged version I was raised Presbyterian and remember a day when I was about 10 years old and the family was getting ready for church, and it hit me that I didn't really believe.  Based on the environment I was raised in, I thought that it was a failing on my part and sort of subconsciously adopted two strategies to cope:

 

1.  Take an academic interest in Christianity so I could still fit in.  It helped that there are plenty of interesting stories in the Bible.  I always remember being really interested Old Testament stories (because I love mythology in general), but getting rapidly annoyed about New Testament stuff, particularly the Epistles, which always struck me as theological ramblings.  

 

2.  Try really, really hard to force myself to believe.  Fake it until you make it, and all that.  Particularly during late high school/early college, I did all sorts of damage to my personality by trying to act super Christian.  It was unhealthy, and I was well aware how much cognitive dissonance I was intentionally applying to myself.  It was a constant fight between two compartments of my brain.

 

Eventually, I got into a position where I didn't really have any social pressure to keep going to church, so I just quietly stopped thinking about religion, politely declined to lead the prayer at family dinners, and generally avoided the topic.  That was nice.

 

But when my wife and I started talking about having kids a few years ago...  I had to finally be honest with myself and admit that I just don't believe, any attempts were driven by emotional appeals or social pressures, and I had been going out of my way to break my brain trying to force it.  Stress levels certainly went down that day.  I recommend it.



#2 Hana-Nezumi

Hana-Nezumi

    Flower Mouse

  • Members
  • 6,040 posts
  • Gender:Androgynous Male Rodent

Posted 23 April 2015 - 07:42 PM

I hadn't heard of this. I think it's a good idea; nobody should have to hide who they are and what they believe, or don't believe. I don't think I've ever said it on LA, but I am an atheist.

I suppose I'm lucky that I don't really have to hide that fact in my daily life now, and that it wasn't too much of a problem with my Christian parents. Even though they did tell me what to believe growing up, and I hid my doubts about religion throughout my childhood, it didn't really cause too much trouble when they finally realized I wasn't religious anymore. Though, that may have just been because they were distracted by me not conforming to the traditional male gender role, which was a much bigger "problem" to them at the time. (Beyond our nuclear family, it probably helped that my grandmother, our de-facto matriach, essentially forbade any discussion of religion at larger family gatherings as a means of keeping the peace.) When I was working or going to school, I guess you could say I wasn't openly atheist, but it never really felt bad that way aside from being a little bit awkward when playing along with the Easter and Christmas stuff, and if anyone had approached me with a serious discussion involving religion I would have said the truth. I'm glad you were able to come to terms with being nonreligious and open, SteveT. It sounds like it was quite a struggle, to understate it.

Edited by Hana-Nezumi, 23 April 2015 - 08:02 PM.


#3 SteveT

SteveT

    100% a Dick

  • Members
  • 5,060 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 23 April 2015 - 10:23 PM

I could probably write a 10,000 word essay on my slow deconversion, but  the heart of it is that it was dumb that I made it as much of a struggle as it was.  With a little more intellectual honesty and a little more self-respect, it would have happened back in fourth grade.  It's weird, but what really stands out to me was a moment like five years ago.  I was at the park with my wife's side of the family, and my sister-in-law had just started bringing my nieces to church.  This being a new concept to her, the older one asked if I believed in God, and I mumbled something to the affirmative.  And it almost immediately hit me that I had just lied to a little girl because I was too much of a coward to admit my own conclusions to myself.  That was probably the last step, other than a very unpleasant conversation with my mother.



#4 JRPomazon

JRPomazon

    The finest version of Myself

  • Members
  • 15,804 posts
  • Location:Massachusetts
  • Gender:Male
  • United States

Posted 24 April 2015 - 12:05 AM

I could probably write a 10,000 word essay on my slow deconversion, but  the heart of it is that it was dumb that I made it as much of a struggle as it was.  With a little more intellectual honesty and a little more self-respect, it would have happened back in fourth grade.  It's weird, but what really stands out to me was a moment like five years ago.  I was at the park with my wife's side of the family, and my sister-in-law had just started bringing my nieces to church.  This being a new concept to her, the older one asked if I believed in God, and I mumbled something to the affirmative.  And it almost immediately hit me that I had just lied to a little girl because I was too much of a coward to admit my own conclusions to myself.  That was probably the last step, other than a very unpleasant conversation with my mother.

 

As a Christian (albeit, not the greatest one) I have to say that being religious or a believer of any faith shouldn't be something that's forced. It doesn't work for beans if you go that route. Being honest with yourself and where your heart is on the matter is the best thing to do.

 

As for the concept of this holiday, I'm not really sure I understand it. I mean, I'm from Massachusetts so the social mentality is pretty liberal to begin with and most people I know aren't religious, let alone Christian. So having a day to remind folks that Atheists, Agnostics and whatever are decent and pretty normal people doesn't make a Hell of a lot of sense. I never ask folks about their views on things and I only mention my thoughts on theology as a whole unless I'm asked. It's surprising how many people kind of give me a double take that I call myself Christian, not that I'm living a fast and reckless lifestyle or anything.

 

I think the biggest thing to exercise is that no matter what your thoughts are on life, living and what happens after, is to just not be a raging dick to folks about what you believe in.



#5 Hana-Nezumi

Hana-Nezumi

    Flower Mouse

  • Members
  • 6,040 posts
  • Gender:Androgynous Male Rodent

Posted 24 April 2015 - 10:51 AM

As for the concept of this holiday, I'm not really sure I understand it. I mean, I'm from Massachusetts so the social mentality is pretty liberal to begin with and most people I know aren't religious, let alone Christian. So having a day to remind folks that Atheists, Agnostics and whatever are decent and pretty normal people doesn't make a Hell of a lot of sense. I never ask folks about their views on things and I only mention my thoughts on theology as a whole unless I'm asked. It's surprising how many people kind of give me a double take that I call myself Christian, not that I'm living a fast and reckless lifestyle or anything.

Mass. is a blue state so that's probably why. In other places, the situation is very different. Your social circle plays a big role as well. Where I live, most of the people I know personally are nonreligious as well, but as soon as we take one step out of our small circle of gays & geeks, there are a great number of Christians who presume you're also a Christian or else you're a horrible person.

I actually can give a very recent example... My boyfriend, who is not openly nonreligious in his workplace, was invited to a co-worker's wedding last week. Apparently this woman made the presumption that each and every person whom she invited had the same beliefs as her, because they had a preacher who ranted on and on about how homosexuals and atheists are heathens and evil, and all that kind of stuff, and was vehemently praised by the crowd for it. He was visibly distressed when he got home. I felt so bad for him, because it must have brought back memories of the worst that he heard growing up. He wanted me to go as his date, but in hindsight it was a good thing I didn't. (I know it's not the best example as weddings can be inherently religious events, but in general, that's the atmosphere in this type of place...)

Edited by Hana-Nezumi, 24 April 2015 - 11:15 AM.


#6 wisp

wisp

    Boobie Administrator

  • Admin
  • 14,042 posts
  • Location:in ur base killin ur mans
  • Gender:Knarrarbringa
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

Posted 24 April 2015 - 08:08 PM

Yeah, where I live it's pretty much automatically assumed that you're Christian unless you state something to the contrary. People hardly ever ask, "So, what do you believe?" so much as they ask, "So, what church do you go to?"

 

I was raised Catholic until I was 6, then Episcopalian after that. I'm still not totally out of the closet about being an atheist. I was really devout up until I was 19 or 20, when at some point it dawned on me that all the stories in the Bible didn't really make sense according to my experiences of the world, and that for all the years I'd spent praying and studying the Bible and doing my "quiet time," etc., I had always felt like I had made a phone call and received only this. I've written a lot of deconversion essays that I posted in various blogs I used to have. It was quite a harrowing experience, dealing with all the guilt over the fact that I couldn't believe any more.

 

I no longer feel guilty for not believing, but I do feel afraid to be open about it in a lot of settings. I have mixed feelings about raising children in a heavily religious setting, but I try to be a "live and let live" kind of person; if religion works for other people, that's great for them and I'm going to try not to be a dick about it even if I think the idea might be silly. But I'm still really afraid of coming out unless I'm positive that the person I'm talking to is going to be understanding. It's honestly easier to admit to people that I like women in addition to men, which is something I didn't actually admit to myself for a long time and don't usually like to talk about much because inevitably some busybody comes in and tries to tell me I'm not attracted to women because I married a man.



#7 Doctor Pogo

Doctor Pogo

    mr. wisp

  • Members
  • 510 posts
  • Location:Domesticated
  • Gender:Male

Posted 25 April 2015 - 02:54 AM

My secularism is no secret, but I don't usually feel the need to inform anyone of it either. So I'm sure there are family members and friends and others who have no idea.

 

I can't recall ever really being a believer. Even when I was a kid, I gave it lip service when I had to but just never could take it seriously. I tried to get into it, at various points in my teens, when I was going out with girls who were churchy and would go to their church and do my best to fit in and make a good impression. I've been baptized a handful of times in different denominations, with varying degrees of seriousness. None of it ever took.

 

Nowadays I still find myself playing along from time to time. Once in a while a church will hire me to come fill in with their praise band or provide some other musical service. Church services can be pretty reliable income, so it's worth my while to keep my religious views fairly ambiguous in the public eye (and it's worth noting that the bigger and wealthier the church, the stingier they are with pay and respect for their musicians and other contract workers - the little tiny country churches with no budget at all have often been much more generous with what they have).

 

Sometimes I enjoy going to a church service. I genuinely enjoy the rituals and pageantry and spectacle, and at the churches I like to visit (Episcopal, Catholic, Anglican, and African Methodist Episcopal services are my favorites) there is spectacle and pageantry a-plenty. The church sanctuaries are often quite beautiful, and there are often moments of great beauty in the service itself, in the music or the quiet beats that are built in to the structure of the rituals.

 

The various other denominations - Baptists, Methodists et al - that don't have rituals, or wear costumes, or have any ecstatic dancing or wild spontaneity, going to them holds no interest to me. The music they hire me to play is not usually as good, either. There are few experiences in life more boring than being the drummer for a 'contemporary' Methodist service, except maybe being the bass player. Bless their hearts, they mean well, but they just don't know how to have church.



#8 SteveT

SteveT

    100% a Dick

  • Members
  • 5,060 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 26 April 2015 - 09:31 PM

Nowadays I still find myself playing along from time to time.

This is one thing that I always wonder about.  When you go to church, how many people there are just playing along for various reasons?






Copyright © 2020 Your Company Name