Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Borrowing again from Seth Andrews

If you're a non-believer in a highly religious family, perhaps you can relate. 

For years, my mother and father have expressed deep embarrassment and shame over my atheism and activism. Every time the issue came up, they seemed to approach my castle wall from a different angle, testing for weaknesses. One day was the argument from authority. Next time might be the tactic of quoting scripture to prove scripture. Then might come condescension or mockery of secular science. They'd tout their religious education and claim authority. Mom would give me Christian "science" books. Dad would warn about hell fire. I've even seen them toss out the Hitler grenade.

Other family members aren't as confrontational, but they lace each exchange with a pitiful tone one might use on a wounded animal. Poor Seth. If only he wasn't so misguided. We'll pray for him and do our best to show him the love of Jesus, and one day the prodigal will come home. (In the meantime, we'll keep tabs on our kids to make sure they don't read too much of his atheism-related stuff, as we've already force-fed them the Truth!)

It's...insane. The burden of proof lies upon them and their bible-based claims that animals can talk, humans can live 1,000 years, people can live for three days submerged inside a giant fish, corpses can parade through a city street, chariots can fly, and that all the species of the world's animals lived within walking distance of Noah's house, AND I'M THE PROBLEM.

For my skepticism about these wild charges, I've become radioactive. And until I'm decontaminated and brought back into their culture of superstition, cult-speak and woo, I'll be the black sheep, the mid-life crisis, the guy who "is going through a phase," a pain in the ass, an inconvenient branch on the family tree. I'll be welcome to participate as a member of the tribe, but each conversation will be slightly tainted with distance and disappointment.

All I really want is to be able to enjoy my family without the undercurrent of pity, patronization and shame. I'm not required to carry some generational mantle or stay within narrow boundaries built for me by another. I don't owe it to my family to keep them comfortable and happy. And I'll continue to work for a world where parents will never pledge love and lifelong allegiance to an invisible wizard that would torture their flesh-and-blood son in the obscenity of Hell.

What a screwed up world.

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