Tag Archives: atheism

Sadness

Standard

Hey all.

Once again, it’s been a while since I posted. It’s been an interesting month, and I don’t even really know where to begin. Chronologically is best, I guess.

I started out writing this post talking about visiting my best friend in Chicago and taking a millinery class. But I’m just too tired and sad to finish it. Maybe I’ll elaborate later, because they were both really good times, but something else has dominated my mind and I feel like I can’t write about anything else. And I think I have to write about this, because it’s the only way for me to get it out. I’ll write and cry about it once, and then I’ll be done.

I spent the week learning hat-making. It was grueling but fun, it kept me busy the whole day and it left me exhausted at night. That was perfect, because it kept my mind off of what was going on during the week and why I chose to take that particular class in the first place. This past week was the week-long camp that I’ve done for five years, and the camp I was supposed to take over directing (see Moving On for some background). I purposely chose to take the hat-making class because I meant that I wouldn’t be home during camp, and wouldn’t have to, every day, drive past the church where it’s held and be reminded that that’s not a part of my life anymore.

It’s done. It’s over. I don’t know how to feel. I had kind of blocked it from my mind at the beginning of the week, and was just focusing on making these really difficult hats. But then Wednesday came and, as I sat in the dorm room in the evening, I suddenly wondered what was happening at camp at that moment. Dinner would have been over, so would they be doing the talent show, like they normally did on Wednesdays? Or would they maybe be watching a movie? Or doing something else entirely? It hit me at that moment that I had no idea. I had no idea what they were doing, because I wasn’t part of the camp anymore. I wasn’t directing, I wasn’t even volunteering there. I had absolutely not a clue what the schedule was, or who was there, or what things were new or different from previous years. And, more importantly, I wasn’t there for the campers that counted on me to be there. I had let them down. There was no way I could have gone after everything that had happened, but I still felt like I had failed them. They had no idea what all had happened, and I know several were probably asking where I was, but I had still let them down. I wonder how the new directors handled them asking about me, if they did.

I came home yesterday to an empty house (except for, you know, six cats and a rabbit). My parents are in San Francisco for the weekend for their anniversary, so I have today and tomorrow to pull myself together. I was okay during the day today because I kept myself busy — I organized all my bookmaking supplies, and then promptly messed them up again as I made a few small books. I engrossed myself in many episodes of Doctor Who. I played Candy Crush. But now I’m tired of Doctor Who for the moment, I have no more lives in Candy Crush, and I have no inspiration for books. I’m just sitting here, thinking, which is bad.

It’s all finally catching up with me. I just feel so sad, so tired, so unwilling to do anything. I just want to lay here, staring at the television and watching the Zimmerman trial coverage without taking anything in. I don’t want to clean up dinner, I don’t want to put away my book supplies, I don’t even want to read. I just want to be miserable.

I’m so glad everyone is gone for the weekend. I gives me time to grieve by myself, without having to try and be falsely happy or endure my parents trying to understand what’s wrong and how I feel. They don’t know. They think they do, but they don’t. Camp meant everything to me, and it was the thing that I looked forward to every year. I made countless friends there, friends that are so much more true and loyal than most friends you find in the normal world. I had my thoughts and opinions completely turned on their heads. I became comfortable working with people that most others cringe from and avoid. The whole experience has helped me grow into the person I am now, and has shaped my life and morals and goals since then. And now it’s all gone.

I’m still angry because I feel like I was purposely cut out, but I’m mostly just sad. It was a bad situation for everyone, including the new directors and the old, but I feel like it could have been handled better so that it didn’t come to this. And the worst part is that I have absolutely no idea why I was forced out. I tried to get answers and was evaded every time. I don’t understand — from the first time I was asked to join leadership, it was never ambiguous that I was supposed to take over. And then camp came last year and suddenly I wasn’t. And since then I have heard nothing from the directors, and was basically ignored despite earlier assurances that I would still be heavily involved. I wasn’t even asked to help plan and put together the reunion for the camp that I helped plan. They basically just dropped me, and not knowing why is the absolute worst part.

I do have theories, and none of them are reassuring. Was I kicked out because I was an atheist? Was it just because they didn’t want me personally to lead? Was it something I did or did not do? I honestly feel like I don’t care what the reasoning is — I just want and deserve to know. I don’t care how uncomfortable it would be for those in charge to tell me. They should have the balls to lay it out and tell me the truth, not dance around it and never provide answers and hope that I don’t notice.

I don’t know. I just feel like this huge part of my life has been ripped away. I had planned on being part of this camp until its end, and now that plan is no more, and not by my choice. I’m not sad that any of the past five years has happened, because they made me the person I am today. I just wish it had ended differently, less harshly.

So I’m just going to chill tonight and wallow in my misery. I’m going to get it all out now so that when everyone gets home, I can lock it all away and pretend to be happy until it’s far enough away that I can try to move on. Maybe that’ll be soon, maybe that’ll take a while. This next week might be bad because pictures might be put up, so I’ll be forced to see what all they did and be reminded that I wasn’t there. I’ll have to see who served as companions for my campers of the past few years, and wish that I had been in their place instead. But hopefully I’ll be able to move on again soon and learn something from all of this. Sorry for the pity party over here, but I needed to get all this out somewhere. Any words of encouragement or advice are always welcome.

Equality for All

Standard

Okay. Recent events have made me want to tackle DOMA and Prop 8 in a post. I’m frustrated, and need to vent.

Last night a friend made a post about gay marriage. All day, my Facebook friends had been changing their profile pictures to the red and pink equal sign, in solidarity with those seeking equal rights for the gay community. Even many of those who didn’t change their picture were still posting other images in support of repealing Prop 8 and DOMA. It was really moving to see all of the support, and how the community was coming together to voice their want for change and equality. And then my friend posted.

The equal rights symbol everyone was posting.

Now, a bit of background on her. She’s always been the most religious out of my friends, but usually fairly quiet about it. But then she went to university (the same school as me) and joined a gospel group on campus. Since then, she’s become much more outspoken about and extreme in her views. She’s progressing religiously, but regressing on social issues and in the area of acceptance of others. She’s had posts claiming that others aren’t “true” Christian because their beliefs differ from hers (see Rant Time for that venting session). She’s been openly unaccepting of other belief systems, scoffing at them and just being generally belligerent. And her new friends from the gospel group are supporting and egging her on in this. I’m happy that she’s happy with her new friends, but I’m saddened to see how she’s changed over the past few years.

So, the post. She went on a mini rant about how she “might lose a lot of friends for this,” but she did not support gay marriage. She called marriage sacred, and claimed that it was only acceptable when it went through Jesus Christ, and that it is in fact not a civil right. She even claimed that we need to implement restrictive laws for marriage among straight people because they aren’t “doing it right” (or at least, that’s what I got out of her message). She ended with: “Am I projecting my faith and beliefs on you by saying no? I sure am. But so are you by saying yes. I am exercising my rights just as you are.” She also claimed that she was not brainwashed for her views.

I was pretty shocked by her post. Not because I didn’t think anyone believed the way she does, but because I couldn’t believe she believed it. In high school she was never against gay marriage — she was more of the camp of “I don’t really like it, it goes against what I believe, but if it makes you happy feel free.” She had gay friends, and she was sympathetic to their cause. She was always accepting of everyone. I’ve watched her views transformed from that over the years, to this adamant anti-equal rights mindset (and of course, this mindset overflows to other areas, such as with those of other religions and beliefs).

Immediately after she published her post, I got a text from one of my friends. She was also shocked. I think it was a bigger blow for her because she hasn’t really seen this transformation happened the past few years. She basically just saw the beginning and the end, with no middle morphing to warn her of her changing views. She was really upset, and wanted to comment on our friend’s post basically saying “Separation of church and state.”  I convinced her not to, as I didn’t think it would be productive, and would just cause problems.

This morning, I got another text from my best friend (as I knew I would — I was just surprised that it took her so long). She told me that she was saddened by our friend’s post, and I had to agree with her. That’s exactly how I felt, too — frustrated and disappointed, but mostly sad. “I just don’t understand how anyone can genuinely believe that allowing everyone to get married imposes my views on anyone else,” my BFF wrote, “No one’s forcing [our friend] to get marry a lesbian.”

As usual, she had pretty much summed up exactly what I was thinking (we have like a psychic connection or something — we pretty much have the exact same views, and agree on pretty much everything. We’re kind of the same person, and it’s kind of awesome). Here’s what really frustrates me. Your religious values are your religious values. Just because you believe something doesn’t mean that everyone else has to, too. When you try to make something illegal because of your personal religious beliefs, you are infringing on the rights of others, and shoving your beliefs down their throat. Making gay marriage illegal is not shoving our views down your throat. If we were trying to pass a law that forced everyone to engage in gay marriage, that would be shoving our beliefs down our throat. The middle ground here (as with many other social issues, such as abortion) is to let everyone do as they wish, not as you personally believe that they should. If you are offended by gay marriage and the gay lifestyle, you yourself are insecure in your own beliefs. Get over yourself — not everyone has to follow your personal, restrictive values. And your religion does not belong in our laws.

In addition, marriage is a civil rights issue. Marriage is a religious institution, but it is also a government and federal institution. The government is extending and restricting rights to some, based on these individual preferences. For me, I always have a rule: when someone’s talking about how “Gays shouldn’t be able to get married because it goes against my beliefs,” I always substitute another word for “gays.” That word can be “black,” “Jewish,” etc — any group that’s been repressed throughout history. So go ahead and insert it: “Blacks shouldn’t be able to get married because it goes against my beliefs.” See how ignorant you look? See how you are wrongly restricting someone’s rights? Why should sexual orientation be any different from skin color or religion? Sexual orientation, like race, is not a choice — why restrict rights because of something a person cannot control? Hell, why restrict them for something they can control? Your beliefs are your beliefs, not necessarily anyone else’s.

Sums it up perfectly.

I am 100% behind equal rights for gays. I have many gay friends who would love to be able to marry their partners. And not just enter a “civil union” — marry. Why call it something else? We’ve tried “separate but equal” before, and it didn’t work. I think our culture is slowly coming around it equality, and doing away with hate and prejudice, but we still have a long way to go. There have been baby steps so far, but repealing Prop 8 and DOMA wold be a massive leap. Once the laws change, attitudes follow. Don’t like it? No one is forcing you to marry someone of your same gender. Your beliefs are not universal, and you have no right to impose them on others through law. Get over yourself and stop worrying about others. Be happy and secure in your views, without feeling the need to force everyone else share them top.

Not really sure how to approach my friend. I’m thinking that I just won’t approach her at all. It’s not worth losing a friendship over. I think that we’re already drifting apart, but I don’t want to end it definitively. She knows that all of us will disagree with her, and she chose to put it out there. Whatever happens, happens, I guess. I’m just glad that I have other friends who are accepting of all people, regardless of what they believe and who they love.

And the drama continues…

Standard

Oh, goodness. Every time I think everything’s okay and we’re all good, something else happens. So for the past year or so, things with my extended family on my dad’s side have been rocky. It started with my aunt and uncle and cousins not coming to my younger sister’s graduation or graduation party — they said that they didn’t think that they were invited What?! They got an invitation, and we even invited them personally before the paper invites went out. Here’s what the real issue was: they had committed to help out at some church car wash or something (they say), but they did that just like the day or two before the graduation ceremony (after they would have received the invite). (A bit of background on them: they’re incredibly religious. Like, church all day Sunday and sometimes during the week too, Bible study each night and prayer before every single meal, preach to everyone they meet, religious. So they’re constantly doing stuff with their megachurch and ignoring everyone else. And they’re constantly trying to push their religion on everyone). It would have been alright with them not coming, but they didn’t even congratulate my sister, or send her an apology for not coming. She was really upset. And it’s frustrating because we had just been up there the weekend before to go to my cousin’s “graduation” the weekend before (she didn’t really graduate — they were homeschooled (barely), and she hadn’t even taken her test to get her GED yet (and I still don’t think she has), so it was basically a “let’s go to a park and we’ll give you the homemade diploma we printed off” situation). Things were really, really rocky for the six or so months after that (until Christmas, really), but my dad and my aunt finally kind of made up. Still, that’s been in the back of our minds since this summer.

So the other night, the drama returned with them. My younger sister got on Facebook and saw that a kid she went to church camp with with my cousin had posted about gay marriage. He was pretty belligerent about it, saying that it was, to him, just as bad as taking drugs and such, and that the Bible is totally against it. My sister (who is Christian) couldn’t resist commenting, so she told him that she didn’t think that the Bible really said anything about it, and that she thought Jesus would accept anyone. She even told him that we don’t really know much about Jesus, but even if he took drugs and was gay himself, that she would accept him. So they got into a big fight where he told her that she was “lowering her Christian standards by supporting gay marriage,” she told him to go fuck himself, and that was that. I thought that was the end.

No, of course not, because the next day my sister got a Facebook message from my aunt. This whole thing was filled with Bible passages and talking about how my sister obviously hadn’t read the Bible, and that she was “defaming Jesus” for what she said. She even implied that she should go to the church camp with our cousins again so that she could learn better. Then she ended it with “Hope this doesn’t cause a problem between us. Love you.”

“Hope this doesn’t cause a problem”? Really?! How could this not cause a problem, especially since we’ve all been rocky since summer? And just in general, what makes you think that you can tell someone that their beliefs are wrong and that they’re “defaming Jesus,” and not get some sort of backlash? And how dare you tell someone that their religious beliefs are wrong, just because they vary slightly from yours? What should it matter so long as you both believe the same basic, important tenants?

This is just one thing that really gets on my nerves about their church and their form of Christianity (Baptist? Maybe? Who knows, I can never remember what they are — they’re just incredibly zealous in my book). Their church tells them exactly what to believe and if you don’t believe it, you’re wrong. And then they tell them to go out and tell everyone else what to believe, and to correct them if they’re “wrong.” And they create camps (like the one my sister went to with our cousins once or twice) where they basically go and brainwash their kids into believing whatever they tell them to (and because it didn’t work when my sister went, suddenly she’s “defaming Jesus”).

I think what really annoys me the most about all of this is that my aunt expects an apology from my sister for things that she wrote that my aunt happened to read. My aunt wasn’t involved at all — she butted in, and then demands an apology because she was offended by what she voluntarily read. You know what? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. And definitely don’t push yourself into the middle of it. (She’s done this a few times before, by the way).

Ugh. I honestly can’t stand that side of the family, and it’s really just these huge religious issues that are the root cause of it. Otherwise, my aunt’s a great person, and so are my cousins (my uncle I’m not a huge fan of anyway, but that’s mainly because he has the most blah personality). I love being around them (for an hour or two), but all that goes away as soon as religion comes up. It kind of reminds me a quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower when Charlie is talking about his family: “I am very interested and fascinated by how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.” There are very few times that I can think of when I read something and just went “YES!” That quote is so unbelievably true, and perfectly sums up this situation.

I guess we’ll see where all this goes. When my sister told my dad, first he was unhappy, but okay with it (because he didn’t want to tell his sister that her beliefs were wrong), but then, after thinking about it, he was pretty pissed. I think he’s planning on writing to my aunt. So we’ll see what happens with that. Again, expect an update.

Oh, and an update from my last post: the girl whose “Atheism” picture I commented on just deleted what I wrote. Honestly, stuff like that drives me crazy because how can you grow or learn about someone if you never talk to them about touchy issues? I always respond to people, even when I disagree. I guess I just expect people to do the same, though they rarely do. But I guess that’s the end of that (until she posts something else, of course).

Rant time

Standard

Okay, I need a short vent time. I woke up this morning to more than one or two Facebook statuses and other social media postings that really irked me. Normally, I see maybe one a week, and I’m fine with that, but the influx of them today his kind of pissed me off. The first that got my attention was a status from a good friend about her roommate and how she and her friends always disucss religion and social issues when they’ve been drinking, and then implied that one of them wasn’t a true Christian because of some of his other beliefs. The second was someone on Facebook  talking about how persecuted Christians have been and are, and basically how hard their life was as one. The third was someone on Pinterest posting this picture with this caption:

“Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as an atheist. Psalm 19:1-2 tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God. We see His creative power in all that He has made. Romans 1:19-20 follows up on this idea, telling us that what may be known about God has been made plain to us through the creation, and anyone who denies this is “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 declare that those who deny the existence of God are fools”

I’ve seen this last picture many times before, but this was the first time that it was repinned by a friend, and throw it on top of the other couple. There were one or two more than those that I’ve listed, but these are the three that caught my attention and really pissed me off.

As some of you might have guessed, Jane Wynters is not my real name. I will never reveal who I actually am on here. That’s not because of the medical stuff — I’m not embarrassed by any of that, no matter how gross or uncomfortable to talk about, since talking about it might help others. And it’s not because I’m embarrassed by any of the things that I think about or post. It’s because I am an atheist, and I cannot let some of my extended family or friends know that by being vocal about it where they may see. The only people who know are my immediate family, an aunt or uncle or two, and my close friends. And the people in charge at the church I went to, but that wasn’t my choice and it’s caused a ton of problems, as previous posts have illustrated. If my extended family were two find out, there would be two different reactions: from my mother’s side and some friends, sadness and disappointment and efforts to gently correct me (which isn’t too bad, nothing I wouldn’t be able to handle); from my father’s side and a lot of others I know, more than likely the reaction would be full-blown disownment and/or aggressive attempts to convert me back to Christianity (which would really divide the family, and it’s definitely not something I would ever want to deal with).

I’m tired of having to sit passive and not voice my opinions with those who are my friends and family — I’m tired of having to hide. And I am sick to death of hearing Christians talk about how hard their lives are because of their beliefs, and about how persecuted they are. You want to talk about hard? Try having people attempt to embarrass and humiliate you into becoming a Christian when you let it slip that you’re an atheist. Try having to keep your beliefs hidden from everyone whom you are not intimate with, for fear of attempts to convert, outright rejection, and even violence. Try having to bite your tongue when the majority of the world is calling you a fool and an idiot, and describing you and your fellow non-believers are “devils” and “heathens” and saying that you are not fit to walk this earth (let alone live in this supposedly “Christian nation”). Try living in fear of the very real repercussions of anyone finding out that you do not believe in their God.

That’s pretty much the definition of hard.

I would argue that, today, there are only a very, very limited number of groups who live in a kind of state like that — atheists and homosexuals are the only two that come to mind. And even today, the world is becoming more and more accepting of gays. Not so with atheists. There’s a great study out there that I’ve used for many research papers: “Atheists as ‘other’: Moral boundaries and cultural membership in an American society,”  a study by Edgell, Gerteis, and Hartmann (2006). The results of the study basically show that atheists are the most distrusted and stigmatized groups in American society, over even homosexuals and Muslims. People think that atheists are most contrary to their vision of American society and they would be most disappointed if their child married an atheist. And those numbers haven’t changed that much in the past fifty years, especially when compared to other stigmatized groups such as homosexuals, which have improved.

The point of my bringing up that study is this: atheists are basically the most hated minority in our society. They are the least trusted and most disliked, and those numbers aren’t really changing. While life has certainly gotten easier for most other stigmatized groups, the same does not hold true for non-believers. And while Conservative Christians were a category that some reported they disliked, those reactions weren’t anywhere near the level that reactions to atheists were at, and Christians in the more general sense weren’t even listed. Hence, they’re not persecuted, and the lives of Christians certainly aren’t hard because of their beliefs — not in this country.

The friend who posted about another in her apartment not being a “true” Christian really irked me as well. It all just goes back to the True Scotsman fallacy — people think that just because someone doesn’t have the exact same beliefs or likes or thoughts as them, then they’re not really a true “X” because of it. This kind of thinking really infuriates me. First off, it’s so arrogant, especially when Christians (and other religious individuals — it’s not just Christians) use it. How dare you try to tell someone that they’re not a “true” Christians because their beliefs vary slightly from yours? Who are you to judge that — do you make all of the rules and criteria for what makes someone a member of your religion? And how dare you say that you’re open and accepting of all people when you cannot even accept those who are your own?

Ugh.

But it was the last post that really got me annoyed. This was the first time that a friend had repinned it, which is what I think made it worse for me. First, whoever wrote that has no understanding of basic science or evolution — that’s not how the Big Bang Theory or evolution works. And second, that’s not a belief of atheism, even if it were true. The only real uniting factor in atheism is the lack of belief in any gods — that’s it. From there, atheists diverge into all sorts of beliefs about life and the universe. What that picture would be describing, were it accurate, would be “Evolutionists” or “Scientists” — not atheists. And what pisses me off even more is that, if you respond to it and tell the person that they’re actually wrong (like I did), then you are attacking their beliefs. Ha!

Ugh. Sorry, guys. I just was super annoyed this morning with all this, and these types of thoughts are the ones that I’m always having to keep in check and hidden. It’s nice to be able to just let some of it out in a quick vent session. I couldn’t help myself — I responded to the picture, but I ignored everything else, no matter how tempting it was to reply. I guess we’ll see how that last person reacts — expect another post with an update if it’s a good or interesting reaction. Maybe I’ll get a debate going! Until then, cheers and thanks for reading my little rant. There will certainly be more in the future!

It’s here.

Standard

Tomorrow’s the day I’ve been dreading: the winter reunion for the program that I was supposed to take over (see Moving On for background). I got the invitation for it  a month or so ago. It was beyond a slap in the face, and what prompted me to try and get some answers. I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t even asked to help with the reunion for the program that I had helped plan the year before. I was completely shut out. Since then, I’ve been faced with two main dilemmas: 1) First, do I go to the reunion? and 2) Do I go to the program over the summer?

Well, number two has almost certainly been decided. As much as it breaks my heart, I’m not going to. I cannot go back to it after this unbelievable snub, and knowing that I’m probably not wanted there. Why should I go back there, where I’m not appreciated, and be expected to just take the way I’ve been treated in stride, no matter how miserable I am? Why should I put myself through that? I love all of the people who attend that program, and it’s killing me knowing that I won’t be back to see them this summer after five years of dedicated attendance, but I have to do what’s best for me at this point.

As for number one…I think I’m going to go for the last hour or so, just to take pictures of/with all of my summer attendees and swap some addresses to write letters with a few of them. The thought of not going to the summer program, and also not going to the reunion, and not seeing any of them probably ever again kills me. I love them too much, and I’m already missing them an unbelievable amount. Tomorrow’s going to be incredibly hard, and made even harder because I cannot tell them that I won’t see them this summer, and that this might be the last time I see them ever. I couldn’t let them know them know the reasons for that anyway, even if I could tell them. I’ll have to just go and pretend to be blissfully happy and carefree and excited to be there, all while my heart is being ripped to pieces knowing that this will be the last time that I see and interact with most of them. I don’t know how I’m going to get through it. But I have to go — the prospect of not seeing everyone one last time is unthinkable and even worse.

This sadness is physical pain. For me, it’s under my sternum, a few inches below my throat. It feels like a tight, watery ball, and makes the rest of my insides feel like glass about to break under pressure. I can’t breathe around it, and I can hardly eat when it decides to put in an appearance. And you can forget sleeping — that tightness doesn’t allow me to get more than a few minutes at a time, and those scant minutes are filled with melancholy dreams. It’s constant pain, lessened as I find ways to distract myself, but back in full force as soon as something reminds me of it’s cause. And let’s not even talk about the emotional and cognitive agony. That’s almost too much to put into words.

I finally broke down today as I was driving home, when I passed the church where the program is housed and where the reunion will be tomorrow. It kind of really hit me then that this was it. I had been thinking about it for weeks, of course, but it was still something vaguely in the future, something not quite real. Now, it’s certainty. Tomorrow, after the reunion is over and I walk out of those church doors, I will never again set foot in there (with the possible sole exception of going back to monthly Saturday sessions of the program, which one or two of the summer attendees frequent. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to bear that now, though. One step at a time, though — let’s get through tomorrow first). That place, while it holds amazing memories of the program for me, also holds too much sadness and bitterness. When I made the decision not to be confirmed in eighth grade, that place was horrible to me. I was made to feel like a total outcast (which, I guess at that point, I technically was, as I had made it clear to the leadership that I did not believe in any god), and the experience of “coming out” was traumatizing. Something that was already painful and shameful to me was made even worse by the way that the leaders responded to it. Since then, I’ve always had some bitterness about it, towards them and the place. But once I started this program, I thought that all that was behind me. I could not forget what happened, but it seemed to me that I was giving that place a second chance, and that it was proving itself worthy. Well now, after all of this, it’ll forever be a place of tears and false hopes for me. My first bad experiences with that church made me bitter, but this second round of emotional trauma has broken my heart.