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This Christmas, part 2 October 16, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, family, issues, rants, teen angst.
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[This Christmas, Part 1 is here.]

Just when I thought I was running out of things to blog about, Mother Dearest proves herself to be a goldmine of material. Thanks, Mom!

For a while now, I was under the assumption that my parents and I had reached a detente, since they hadn’t brought up the subject of my non-belief with me, and they were even nice enough to buy me lots of pretty, shiny things the past couple of weeks. As it turns out, Mom was just waiting to spring it upon me.

I was having a Sunday buffet lunch with the ‘rents, and as Dad left the table to get some sushi, Mom brought up Christmas once again.

“So, what are your plans for Christmas? You know, since you’re an atheist and all?”

I think I’ve now mastered the look of concealed contempt and exasperation. You know the way Ryan the (Former) Temp from The Office looks at the camera when Michael Scott is being his usual moronic self? Where Ryan’s face is almost blank, but you can see the “Oh, Jesus,” in his eyes alone? Not like Jim Halpert, though, because the way Jim looks at the camera is far too obnoxious. Ryan is much more subtle. Anyway, that’s probably what my face looked like the moment my mother mentioned Christmas.

Remembering what some of you had told me, I explained to my mother that some atheists still celebrate Christmas. “It actually started as a pagan holiday that the Christians appropriated for themselves.”

Mom gave me this incredulous look, like, Is she serious? These heathens are STEALING our Christian holiday!

“Yeah,” she retorted, “but you know where CHRISTmas comes from!”

(Well, yeah, Mom, I just explained it to you. Here’s your sign.)

As tempted as I was to shove my lasagna into her face to shut her up, I just dropped the subject. There’s really no point in arguing with these people. Like I said, you can’t explain logic to a believer. (Is Mother Dearest considered a fundamentalist even if she doesn’t go to Church anymore, and has gay friends? She makes fun of her gay friends behind their back, though. As they do with a lot of other groups.)

Dad had returned to the table as I resignedly mumbled, “I’ll just hang out with some friends for Christmas.”

“But all your friends are Christian.”

“I have some atheist friends.” This is a loose reference to Martin and Gab, a couple of dudes I’ve never met outside of the internets. (Although they now know what I look like, gee thanks for stalking, Gab. :P) I’m not even sure how serious you two are about meeting me for Christmas, but either way, I’m not wasting it at home when my own family doesn’t even want me there.

Mom finally shut up, but the luncheon was already kind of ruined and I’d lost my appetite. I absent-mindedly poked at my fruit salad while they finished their uni sushi (good God, uni sushi looks like sushi that’s been puked on).

We spent the rest of the day at the bookstore, where I bought a couple of Rolling Stone issues; the clothing store, where they got me some boxers (I have a Miller Lite one that says “Beer Delivery Guy” on the ass. I don’t know why I find this amusing, but I do); and finally, the supermarket, where I stocked up on baking goods and saw this hot thirtysomething Indian guy who looked like Hemant Mehta (who is also a very fine specimen, and pretty please pose nakey for that Skepdudes calendar kthnx ilu). I don’t know why, but most of my hot guy sightings only happen at supermarkets. Not that I’m complaining, but I really should go shopping more.

In the car, Mother Dearest continued to prod me on my non-belief. I have no idea why she always chooses the car for these irritating conversations. Probably because there’s no way of escaping.

“Did these atheist friends of yours come from that secular high school we sent you to?” she asked, already sort of hinting that she regretted sending me there if that’s where I got my beliefs from.

“No, they’re from [Dream College], actually.”

“Then where did you meet them?”

I had to maneuver my way out of answering “I met them online,” because that sounds kind of seedy, somehow, what with all the child molester stories floating around. “Um, friend of a friend,” I replied. Which is sort of true. They have a friend who hit on my friend who had a thing with my other friend. Yeah.

That silenced her for a moment, but desperate for more ways to bash my atheism and scare me back to Christianity, she asked, “Don’t they require a baptismal certificate at [Dream College]?”

“No, Mom,” I replied, now bored and annoyed. Since this was going to be a long car ride, I busied myself by thinking about how this whole conversation would sound on my blog, heh-heh, and leafing through a Rolling Stone article on Judd Apatow. (I can’t believe they didn’t feature that on the cover! I almost didn’t buy the issue because it had Amy fucking Winehouse as the cover girl!)

“Well, I can’t encourage your atheism because I don’t know much about it, but I think it is very important to have a belief. It is religion that teaches us moral values, like humility [says my elitist mother who doesn't even approve of me going to Dream College because the people there aren't smart enough], generosity [says my mother who hates beggars, won't even make eye contact with them and God forbid one of them even touches the hem of her garment, she'd go apeshit. I would give them money myself, but my parents actually scolded me. "Don't encourage them," they'd said] and kindness [says my mother who's taking Christmas away from me because I'm a heathen atheist]. I don’t know what values you learn from atheism, and it makes me very sad that you’ll be growing up without a moral compass.”

At this point, I was more interested in the life story of Judd Apatow than in my mother’s bone-headed arguments. I could have gone into a long-winded rebuttal about the golden rule, and Maher’s classic “I won’t slaughter you, and don’t take my shit,” but again, not saying anything is the fastest way to get her to shut her piehole. I know this from experience.

It’s sad, though, how we atheists are always written off as being soulless and unethical. But whenever I treat the taxi driver to lunch, or spare some money for a fellow pedestrian who just needs some bus fare to make his way home, or defend homosexuals even though I don’t really have any gay friends, or spend my entire evening helping a friend through his heartache instead of studying, I don’t do it because I want brownie points from The Big Daddy, or safety from the sea of fire below, or seventy-seven virgins, or because it’s my dharma. I don’t even do it in the name of atheism or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I do it because seeing the way their faces light up really warms my heart, and it makes me feel like I’m not the monster that people say I am. If theists need the promise of a reward to motivate them into doing these things…well, that’s really, really sad, and maybe I have more faith in the goodness of people than they do. And I didn’t even learn this from what they taught me in Church or in my Catholic school, I learned it from the people who were nice to me.

In any case, I have a feeling this is only going to be the second of many one-sided conversations I’ll be having with my mother. Honestly, it’s like being gay (though she’d probably like me better if I were a Catholic lesbian rather than an atheist breeder) and having your mother occasionally say something at lunch like, “You know, there are success stories of people who have recovered from their homosexuality” or “God doesn’t really like gay people, and I think it’s time we researched more on how to fix you.” She’s not an out-and-out atheist basher, otherwise I would have been kicked out long ago, but the intolerance is definitely there. She sees my atheism as a defect that she’s desperate to correct. Since she knows she can’t, she’ll settle for the occasional backhanded remark.

There’s a fitting Grey’s Anatomy quote for this, actually. Dear Mom: As Dr. McDreamy once said, before he turned into Dr. McDouchebag (though he was well on his way), “There is a land called Passive-Aggresiva, and you are their queen.”

Comments»

1. Hemant - October 16, 2007

You’re making me blush :) The pic was taken. Hopefully, the calendar will come out soon!

2. Teen Atheist - October 16, 2007

Hee, awesome! :D Looking forward to it. :P

3. Show-Ender - October 17, 2007

Good lord, your mom doesn’t get it!! I’d like to think that she’s just dense, but her intolerance to your atheism (or deviant from Catholicism) is beyond doubt. If your atheism is a defect, so are her skewed notions of morality.

Pardon my French, but from what I’m getting, your parents have NO RIGHT to celebrate Christmas. You, on the other hand, have all the reasons to.

4. jgrab1 - October 17, 2007

With your permission, I’d like to excerpt this part of your post:

“It’s sad, though, how we atheists are always written off as being soulless and unethical. But whenever I treat the taxi driver to lunch, or spare some money for a fellow pedestrian who just needs some bus fare to make his way home, or defend homosexuals even though I don’t really have any gay friends, or spend my entire evening helping a friend through his heartache instead of studying, I don’t do it because I want brownie points from The Big Daddy, or safety from the sea of fire below, or seventy-seven virgins, or because it’s my dharma. I don’t even do it in the name of atheism or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I do it because seeing the way their faces light up really warms my heart, and it makes me feel like I’m not the monster that people say I am. If theists need the promise of a reward to motivate them into doing these things…well, that’s really, really sad, and maybe I have more faith in the goodness of people than they do.”

…to my blog post about atheism, and provide a link to your site. What you said here fits very well with my own essay. Thanks.

John

P.S.: Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

5. Teen Atheist - October 17, 2007

No problem, John. And thanks. :D

6. The Enthusiastic Atheist « Thoughts From A Member of the Human Race - October 17, 2007

[...] particularly unhappy, angry or lonely. As another blogger, who calls herself TeenAtheist, says in a recent post, “It’s sad, though, how we atheists are always written off as being soulless and unethical. [...]

7. CrazyHappyNinja - October 18, 2007

I was blessed (pun intended) enough to grow up with no specific religion at home. I’m trying to remember the number of times I’ve been to a church and I think I’ve got it down to be able to count it out on one hand including marriages, funerals and christenings. So to me I’m intrigued by a family being ruled by religion, absolutely blows my mind. Not that I’ve been totally devoid of religion, the “non-denominational” school I went to had a school chaplain, a school prayer and they did hand out bibles at one point… but I wrote the obligatory “all characters in the book are fictitious, any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental” warning on it and threw it at people demanding they fear the wrath of god. I also listen to heavy metal and play violent video games so I should be a soulless murdering fiend by now, but I didn’t need the fear of god or eternal damnation to know right and wrong or learn empathy, sympathy or compassion. So fear not, if god where real I should of been struck by lightning a while ago.

Anyway, we still celebrate christmas with a tree and turkey and everything else some time, it’s more of a society holiday than a religious one. Although Santa did get replaced by Fred as a joke started by my brother towards the end of primary school and it kinda stuck. The specifics don’t matter though, as long as people get together to be people and have fun, where’s the harm?

Keep up the writing, your articles and the comments of others have perked my interest and I am enjoying them.

8. John Grabowski - October 18, 2007

I saw this article today and thought you might be amused. This assertion that claims to “debunk” atheism is so absurd a child could see through the argument.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20071017/cm_csm/ydsouza;_ylt=AnmCGDCm4T0ToBws.6WOLiD9wxIF

9. jgrab1 - October 18, 2007
10. Teen Atheist - October 18, 2007

LOL, John, nothing gets the blood boiling like an argument full of holes. God exists because reality is unknowable? Ooo-kay. XD

11. Teen Atheist - October 18, 2007

Show-Ender: Thanks. :) I just hope I’m not as lonely on Christmas as I think I might be.

12. Teen Atheist - October 18, 2007

I also listen to heavy metal and play violent video games so I should be a soulless murdering fiend by now, but I didn’t need the fear of god or eternal damnation to know right and wrong or learn empathy, sympathy or compassion. So fear not, if god where real I should of been struck by lightning a while ago.

Ha, me too. I like to eat, I’m a lazy-ass slob, I have naughty thoughts about attractive men, I love money, I am jealous of people with tons of money, I am filled with utter contempt for my family (most of the time), and I’m too proud to…do a lot of things. Yeah. They’d probably clone my soul nine times over so that I could be banished to ALL the Circles of Hell. XD

13. jgrab1 - October 19, 2007

> I have naughty thoughts about attractive men…

Go on… ;-)

(Just kidding. Couldn’t resist.)

14. Teen Atheist - October 19, 2007

Heh. :P It usually stops at thoughts (before I start thinking of, like, grocery lists or unicorns or something), and they last, like, five seconds tops. I have a remarkably short attention span. XD

15. jgrab1 - October 19, 2007

By the way, I think I’ve guessed your country. Where can I ask?

16. Teen Atheist - October 19, 2007

The “About Teen Atheist” page. :D

17. DaFatalGigabyte - October 31, 2007

http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20071017/cm_csm/ydsouza;_ylt=AnmCGDCm4T0ToBws.6WOLiD9wxIF
“So powerful is Kant’s argument here that his critics have been able to answer him only with derision, as though his arguments are self-evidently fallacious. When I challenged Daniel Dennett to debunk Kant’s argument, he responded on his website by saying several people had already refuted Kant. But he didn’t provide any refutations and he didn’t name any names. Basically, Mr. Dennett was relying on the ignorance of the audience. In fact, there are no such refutations.

Although Kant’s argument seems counterintuitive – in the way that some of the greatest ideas from Copernicus to Einstein are counterintuitive — no one who understands the central doctrines of the world’s leading religions should have any difficulty grasping his main point. Kant’s philosophical vision is largely congruent with the teachings of many faiths that the empirical world is not the only world. Ours is a world of appearances only, in which we see things in a limited and distorted way – “through a glass, darkly,” as the apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians. The spiritual reality constitutes the only permanent reality there is. Christianity teaches that while reason can point to the existence of this higher domain, it cannot on its own fully comprehend that domain.”

Let me refute this then. Kant’s argument says that we can’t possibly know about other realms, probably except when endowed with this power from God. There’s no scientific evidence that says that this realm exists nor does not exist. It’s non-falsifiable, because it is not proven in the first place, so atheists would not even debate with people who believe in other realms that are explained in some ancient text. It actually is falsifiable. It’s just not truthifiable and Kant provides the apologetic. Unfortunately the realm of the spiritual is either written as an allegory and thus we should go by the real object, or it is a realm seen through human eyes after being endowed with that power from God. The former would be like looking at some myths about the underworld, a watery chamber where life is to begin again, and where the person takes sustenance from a female god(such as Persephone). This is called the womb. There is no spiritual realm. It’s just “As below, so above” bull****. As for the latter, go to the top of this page and click the link for Christmass part 1 if you haven’t read my comment explaining the amanita muscaria, a psychoactive mushroom. It was a personification of the sun/Christ. It was used for Communion, code-word for orgy. God thus gives us the power to see far realms, or maybe that’s just the far sightedness. God gives us the power to see closer to oneself, or maybe that’s just the short-sightedness. God gives us the power to see another spiritual realm, or maybe that’s all the pretty colors.

18. DaFatalGigabyte - October 31, 2007

Teen Atheist, I sympathize with you greatly. I’m forced to go to church and my parents actually made it more important to them than anything else. All I knew was God and those pictures of Jesus with the lambs and children, touching a butterfly. My father uses the bible to refute my claims. What a loser. The only reason he’s doing fine at a factory-like job is because he started early when someone could work at a factory and handle a 5 person family easily. He got a managers job which pays for health care. It wasn’t some dude in the sky. He’s not a good person because he believes in ghosts. ““Well, I can’t encourage your atheism because I don’t know much about it, but I think it is very important to have a belief. It is religion that teaches us moral values, like humility [says my elitist mother….” and downwards has really riled up my emotions. Oh yeah, and how can she say anything about your religion if she doesn’t know anything about it? Instead she says the first thing she heard about it, that it’s immoral and has no values. Try at showing her the secular humanist organizations webpage. Explain to her how she can’t denonce your religion if she doesn’t know anything about it. Maybe she’ll learn something…Maaaaybe. I doubt it.

Ah, the only reason I tolerate going to church is because I know a really hot girl there :P.

I’m such a DPer (Do with that as you will haha)
I forgot to say cheers in the spirit of double sightedness :D.

19. Drew - November 2, 2007

” I don’t do it because I want brownie points from The Big Daddy, or safety from the sea of fire below, or seventy-seven virgins, or because it’s my dharma. I don’t even do it in the name of atheism or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I do it because seeing the way their faces light up really warms my heart, and it makes me feel like I’m not the monster that people say I am. If theists need the promise of a reward to motivate them into doing these things…well, that’s really, really sad, and maybe I have more faith in the goodness of people than they do. And I didn’t even learn this from what they taught me in Church or in my Catholic school, I learned it from the people who were nice to me.”

I have to say, that paragraph just lighted up my day. Its sad that ppl believe that morality is a virtue of a voice from heaven preaching to some loner on a mountain. It just dumbfounds the fact that humanity is capable of its own empathy.

To DaFatalGigabyte, I think what Kant was trying to say can be interpreted by einstein’s saying “I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that I can comprehend only imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced, there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness.”

Many ppl misquote Kant and Einstein as being religious, but they were not (Not in the conventional sense). They believed in Nature and the Human ability/disability. They were awed by it, but never tied it down to anything outside of Humanity, or Nature.

Paul kinda meant the same thing when he said “through the glass, darkly”, but unlike atheists, who are just as astounded as the religious when it comes to the intricate complexities of nature, or the ability of humanity to raise itself, we dont tie this to any
‘super’natural or extra-intelligent lifeform. Just the entity in itself.
Nature. Humans. Existence.

Just my two cents worth, teenatheist, Its this philosophy that helps me blend in to a society thats discriminatory to those of us who are ‘weak-of faith’. I relate to their ‘god’ as the complexites of nature, the laws of physics, and their ‘religiousness’ as the limited ability of our 5 senses to capture these complexities and also as our ability to do good. Deep down inside even Paul knew it was a human thing, not a command from the Voice from the Heavens.

20. This makes me want to punch right through my laptop screen. « Diary of a Teenage Atheist - November 27, 2007

[...] This dates back to that time when my parents asserted that atheists have no moral code: [...]

21. Najo - November 27, 2007

Some people still don’t believe that I’m an atheist because they think I’m too good to be one. LOL!~

They really don’t understand the concept of morality without religion or morality without the belief in divinity.

If your mother graduated from the school where I think she graduated…damn…she’s really a shame to the institution. O_O


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