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“Holy” Matrimony September 29, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends, issues.
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Fred* (named after “Special Fred” in that Stephen Lynch song, tee-hee) isn’t as crazy as I might have made him seem in my “Truthiness” entry. Sure, he’s got a few psychological conditions he’s working on, but it’s not like he has conversations with trees or eats glue. I enjoy talking to him because I feel like he and I are cut from the same cloth, somehow (a thought that scares me just a little). I honestly have no idea whether or not he’s atheist; he acts like one at times, but at present he tells me he’s a Catholic.

I didn’t have any problem telling him about my atheism, and he didn’t react with much fanfare, either, just as I’d expected.

“I’d do the same, if it weren’t that inconvenient,” Fred told me. “I keep my religion solely for convenience. Nobody would marry me if my papers said ‘atheist.'”

“That’s really the first thing that came to mind?” I asked him, amused, and he replied in the affirmative.

Now, I haven’t had my papers changed to say “atheist” yet, but I’m not sure where I stand on the issue of marriage. I don’t know if I’m abnormal for thinking this, since marriage seems to be the ultimate goal for most people, but I couldn’t care less whether or not I ended up getting hitched. (And married atheists exist, don’t they?) Seriously, everyone is so obsessed with hooking up. My whole life, I’ve been pelted with, “Stop [doing X action] or you’ll never have a boyfriend!” Like this one time, when my science teacher addressed me in front of the class and said, “Stop growing taller or you’ll never have a boyfriend!” (I’m 5’8″, and I could do with a few more inches. 5’8″ is short in the modeling industry, you know!)

Mind you, this isn’t a feminist or even an atheist rant. I’m not for or against marriage; I really just don’t care. Most marriages end up in divorce, anyway — oops, except for my Predominantly Christian Country because divorce isn’t legal here.

But what if I should chance upon a smart, sexy Mister Right and want to start a family? I feel like marriage is not necessary for starting a family anyway, but if Mister Right is of a certain religion (though I’d probably prefer an atheist) and would want to get married the traditional way, I wouldn’t object. I see marriage the same way I see Christmas: I love the frivolities (in this case, cake, pretty dresses and a fancy reception), but I’m indifferent to the “significance” of it all.

If I were still a Catholic, I’d probably take the Angelina Jolie or Sarah Silverman route and proclaim that I wouldn’t get married until the gays and lesbians could. Which, in my country? Not in a million years.

Why even bother? September 26, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends, issues, rants.
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Somehow, the conversation between myself and Tyler* turned to religion, even though it was a topic I really wanted to avoid when talking with him.

“Why are you still an atheist?” he asked in a chiding, somewhat condescending tone, as though he were asking something like, Why haven’t you given up drugs yet?

It took me a while to finally say something. The obvious answer, i.e. there is no evidence that a god exists, popped in my mind immediately, but I realized: You [an atheist] cannot explain logic to a religious person and expect them to understand it, the same way that you probably wouldn’t understand a religious person trying to explain faith to you. The best that you can do is tolerate and try to understand (or in my case…pretend?).

I gave Tyler a half-hearted reply and immediately changed the subject.

*not his real name

Martha September 24, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, friends.
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Two years ago, my friend Martha* was feeling depressed. She was in tears, and this close to giving up on God. Guess who came to the rescue? That’s right. Me. Teen Not-Quite-Atheist-Yet.

“God has a plan for all of us,” I’d told her, meaning every word I said. “I know you can’t feel Him right now, but that doesn’t mean He’s not there. You just have to keep believing. It’s all going to be okay, trust me.”

After talking things out a little more, Martha smiled, thanked me and resolved to start actively trying to restore her faith in God. We left the dormitory room for a walk around the track, feeling much lighter.

I was actually quite proud of this moment. It made me feel like I could really help people. I, after all, am the kind of friend who would probably spend the most time trying to talk you out of your depression or attempted suicide. (Which I have done, incidentally, on more than one occasion.)

I’m not sure what this moment means to me now that I no longer believe, though. Further to that, I wonder how Martha would react if I told her that I now think it’s all bullshit.

*not her real name

The extent of my truthiness (TM Stephen Colbert) September 23, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in friends, issues.
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As I’d previously mentioned, three of my friends know that I’m an atheist. One, whom I shall call Fred*, is somebody I might consider a little batshit crazy. I’m not sure if he’s an atheist like me, because he flip-flops a lot, but I knew he wouldn’t care in the least whether or not I was, so I told him. Another friend, Tyler*, is the friend I consult with all my hyper-dramatic teen angst problems (read: family problems). He’s one of the most sensible, honest people I know, which is why he is my go-to guy. One catch: he’s religious — some form of Christianity that I don’t know how to translate into English, let’s just call it Protestantism until I can find a better-fitting label (er, Jehovah’s Witness? Man, I stray further and further from “politically correct” with every word I type). The third friend, Camille*, is a friend residing overseas whom I exchange wacky anecdotes with on a daily basis. She lives in California, which is generally a more open-minded place than my Predominantly Christian Country, so I felt comfortable in telling her. She didn’t mind it; she told me that a lot of her friends in California are atheists, too.

Obviously, I’ll be talking about Tyler today.

Remember the text-message altercation I had with my younger brother, Pete? At the end of it I was at home, reduced to tears, and not just the silent tears that I normally cry. I’m talking serious caterwauling and crumbling to the floor here. In dire need of some reassurance (because up until that point I had seen Pete as my best friend), I crawled to the phone and dialed Tyler’s number.

After babbling endlessly about how Pete trampled all over my ego, I finally admitted to Tyler the root of the problem: my atheism had forged a divide between myself and my pseudo-religious brother.

“You’re not a bad person,” Tyler assured me, and I believed him. But then he asked, “Are you absolutely sure you’re an atheist? For good?”

Knowing Tyler’s God-centric nature, I lied. “No. I’m always open to believing again.”

“See? You’re a good person. Your brother is just upset because he looks up to you, so it’s a disappointment for him to find that you don’t believe in God.”

Look, independent of his religion and his bias against atheists, Tyler is a wise and kind person, and an indispensable friend to me. I have a feeling that if I’d told him the whole truth (that I’m probably going to stay this way for the rest of my life), he might have been convinced himself that I was as “evil” as Pete said I was, so for the moment, I’m going to have to keep up this half-truth. Until I can find another wise, advice-giving friend who is more tolerant of atheists, the ball’s in Tyler’s court.

*not their real names

And this Christmas will be a very special Christmas for me September 19, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, family, issues, rants.
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“Do your friends know that you’re an atheist?” Mother asked on a ride home from the mall. (Answer: Only three. Not sure if I want to tell the rest.) “Because atheists can’t celebrate Christmas, you know. These are things you have to think about. Because you know what Christmas celebrates.”

No shit, Sherlock. I knew what she was up to, because if there’s any adjective that defines my mother (aside from the obvious “elitist” and “self-absorbed”), it’s “manipulative.” She knew how much I loved Christmas. And I do! It’s my favorite time of the year next to my birthday, because I love the cold weather and the lights and the gifts and the music. Basically everything tangible about Christmas; I could care less about what it celebrates. Of course, Mother Dearest would call me out for being shallow if I told her about how I really felt about Christmas, so I just rolled my eyes and kept to myself.

Using Christmas as a weapon to tempt me into returning to the Catholic fold? Bitch move, Mother Dearest.

I have a feeling I won’t be getting anything for Christmas this year, which sucks because they’ve already taken away my allowance (long story) and Christmas is the only time of the year when I get a substantial amount of money from relatives.

To console myself, I’ve come up with an alternate plan: On Christmas Eve, I’m going to put on my sluttiest outfit and head to the swankiest club to get completely trashed. (I might even get laid!) Because damn it, I’ll be LEGAL by Christmas! Fuck, yeah!

From Point A to Point B, and how I got there September 18, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, issues, rants.
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Let’s get one thing straight: I wasn’t born this way. I was actually born and raised Roman Catholic, but my family isn’t one of those incredibly controlling types that make children want to rebel. Atheism was a choice I made for myself. I didn’t stop believing in God just to spite my parents; come on, I’m not that shallow.

There was a time when I used to believe, when I used to turn to God for everything. This was, of course, was when I was much younger and more naive. Slowly, I realized that leaving my fate to some unseen deity was kind of foolish (to me, anyway), and I began to doubt. It wasn’t just one defining moment when I decided “Bam! I’m atheist!” — a long thought process was involved.

My family used to go to Church a lot when I was younger, but a few years ago those visits stopped altogether, although we would still pray before meals and celebrate Catholic holidays. I’m not sure I could give you a straight answer if you asked me whether or not my family had something to do with my decision to become Atheist. They probably had some influence. I’d give more credit to Bill Maher, though. I worship the guy, and I agree with most of what he says. Hell, he could tell me that the world was made entirely of fire and I’d be inclined to believe him.

There were a lot of things about my former religion that I was unhappy with. (more…)

My “coming out” story September 17, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, family, school, teen angst.
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The first person I told was my (very religious) brother, Pete*.

We were in a bookstore, and I can’t remember what triggered the discussion, but I just lay it out on the line:

“I’m atheist.”

And without batting an eyelash, Pete went, “Eww,” which sent me into a long tirade on how bigoted he was being about it. I doubt anything I said made an impact, though — he was all “fine, whatever you say.”

Fast-forwarding a couple of months into the future, Pete and I are in the middle of a huge fight. It’s always serious when money is involved, because my brother is a greedy, materialistic bitch. At that point, however, the money didn’t matter anymore. What did matter were the words exchanged in our altercation. Through our argument, his true feelings towards me were revealed: he hated the fact that I was an atheist. He called me a “rotten-heart Satanist” and pretty much cursed God for sticking him with a horrible, evil sister. I, in turn, retorted that he was being a sanctimonious fuck who hid his selfish nature behind his religion.

The sad thing is, this whole argument, which was the biggest fight of our lives seeing as we’re still not speaking to each other (and I have no intention of forgiving that ungrateful prick), took place entirely over text messaging.

In any case, my parents got to read the whole thing on my brother’s cellphone, and one of the text messages I sent said something along the lines of I may be an atheist, but I do follow a moral code!” (I have a feeling he showed it to my parents because he knew they would side with him once they found out that I was no longer a Catholic like the rest of them.)

This was brought up by the parental units themselves as the three of us had a serious talk in the dining room. (Note that I’m on bad terms with both my verbally abusive father and my elitist, self-absorbed mother, so yeah, I’ve got nobody on my side. I hate this family.) They asked me about it.

“Yes,” I replied. “I am an atheist.”

My statement was met by a derisive sneer and exchanged looks of incredulity between them. Look, despite my utter resentment for the both of them, I am trying my best to avoid villainizing them and to narrate as truthfully as I can, and I’m telling you, that’s how they reacted.

Anyway, Father brought up my Dream College and, while still laughing at me like I was some idiot, asked how the hell I expected to fit in when Dream College has a great emphasis on religion and is headed by Fr. So-and-So. I had no answers for him; I was crying too hard to say anything. (For what it’s worth: I’m probably going to pretend that I’m a Catholic. Doesn’t matter, I really think Dream College is worth the trouble. And from what I’ve heard, they’re actually pretty liberal at Dream College, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.)

Let me tell you a little bit more about my college situation. My country has three major colleges: College That My Mother Wants for Me, which is pretty much everyone else’s dream college since only the smartest ones get in, and everyone there is on scholarship. Second is my Dream College, which has competent students as well. The students of Dream College are more upwardly mobile than the students of College That My Mother Wants for Me. Third choice is Other College, which is known for having rich but incompetent students.

I based my decision on the kind of people who graduate from these colleges. College That My Mother Wants for Me churns out brilliant people; however, these people tend to be douchey intellectual snobs who think they’re better than everybody else. (Like my mother, who is a graduate of that college.) Dream College, on the other hand, produces smart, competent people who are not only intelligent but are kind and polite as well. These are the kind of people I want to be like, and if I have to fake a religion to get into this school, then god damn it (oopsies) I’m going to do it. I don’t want to turn into an elitist like my mother!

Before I veer way too off-topic, let’s return to the story. My father told me that I’m an atheist because I have little faith, which is typical of him. This is, after all, the man who thinks I hate him because I don’t have enough God in my life, not because he had verbally and physically abused me for most of my 17 years. I had to bite back my laughter when he said, “If I were to meet my Maker right now, I could honestly tell Him that I have done nothing to deserve banishment from Heaven.” Asshole.

To their credit, they didn’t punish me or send me to Sunday school for being an atheist. However, I can feel the disdain in their eyes when they look at me and see that I’m even further removed from the kind of daughter they long to have. They think even less of me, and favor my greedy, sycophantic brother because at least he’s still Catholic.

None of this matters to me in the least, though, because I’d decided long ago that I am done trying to be who they want me to be.

* “Pete” is not my brother’s real name.

[Introductory Post] The Pitch September 16, 2007

Posted by Teen Atheist in backstory, family, school.
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14 years of being a Roman Catholic. (17, really — I haven’t officially renounced my religion on documents and whatnot. Too lazy.)

3 years of flip-flopping between Catholicism and agnosticism.

This year, I’ve finally decided that there is no God.

So why have I decided to set up a blog about it? How could I possibly be interesting, when I’m a total n00b to the whole atheism thing, and on top of that, I’m just some dumb 17-year-old who doesn’t know any better? I started Diary of a Teenage Atheist because I am, most likely, just a little bit different from all the atheists you know, and I have so much to rant about. My limited knowledge of the tenets of atheism (or whatever) is extraneous to this blog; it will include little to no philosophizing. I hate philosophizing, it’s so pretentious (sorry, Martin!) it makes me look like an even bigger idiot than I already am. Diary of a Teenage Atheist, if you haven’t yet figured out from the title alone, is entirely anecdotal.

I feel like my situation is more difficult than that of most atheists because, to paraphrase director Q. Allan Brocka, my country makes America look liberal. While Americans worry about their nation becoming a theocracy (“one nation under God,” you know), my country fucking is a theocracy. Where I’m from, 94 percent of us are Christian, and 84 percent are Roman Catholic (I don’t feel like naming my country, but do a little Googling and you won’t have any trouble figuring it out). Divorce isn’t legal here because it violates the sanctity of marriage…or something like that.

My family found out a few months ago, and they were not at all happy or even accepting when they found out, an experience which I will expound on in a future post. I’m not sure whether or not to tell my friends, although a couple of them know, and they handled it pretty well.

Right now, I’m in the middle of college applications, and the college I want to go to is, tragically enough, a Catholic one. The headmaster himself is a religious leader, and the school motto pretty much means “I’m God’s bitch.” Going about this will be pretty tough — do I admit to my lack of a religion and hope they like me anyway, or do I live college life as a closet atheist? It’s quite the dilemma, but if/when I figure something out, I’ll let you know.

So stick around, if only for the schadenfreude you’ll experience reading about the difficulties and discrimination I face as a non-believer in my bigoted Catholic family, not to mention my Predominantly Christian Country (yes, that’s what I’ll be calling it from now on, unless you can think of something wittier).