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Ask Teen Atheist, #1 April 13, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in Ask Teen Atheist, friends, issues, school, teen angst.
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22 comments

Hooray, somebody finally wrote in to ask me for advice!

I would have answered this sooner, but my PC frickin’ ate my thousand-word response. Spurred on by the promise of a love letter (yay!), I finally got my lazy ass around to writing a new one. Feel free to give your own input to help Luke out.

Hello, My name is Luke(Kinda obvious). I’m 17, and I currently live in the USA. I guess this fits under personal problems. I’ve been an atheist for awhile now…about 4 months I believe. Before I became an atheist I was a Lutheran, and basically attended church every Sunday. One day I realized that “God” is hurting this world, people fight wars over Religion ect. I finally came out to my mom about a month ago, funny thing is, she said as she grows older she’s been having some atheistic thoughts as well. She basically agrees with most of my ideas and beleifs on religion. I don’t care to tell my dad, since he’s a Lutheran yet he never attends church. I guess my family life is ok, it’s school that is a bitch.

My school is basically very stereotypical. Almost every student in my high school is either a “Red neck” or an extremely religious teenager. Since I don’t care much for trucks or country music I tend to befriend the religious types. I’ve came out about my atheistism to my best friend, he accepted it, didn’t think less of me, told my other two close friends, and they accept it just fine. It’s everyone else that I tend to care about that is a problem. A few days ago I was talking on AIM in a buddy chat room with a few other friends. We were all talking for awhile, and some how Gay Marriage and Religion came up. Of course, all the people were against it, I for one, am for it. I gave them my reason which mainly came out something like this. “You’re against gay marriage because the bible says it’s a sin? Well, the Bible also says a parent is allowed to stone their child if he disobeys, maybe the bible doesn’t have all the answers”.Not sure if that whole stoning thing is actually in the bible, my mom told me, so eh. After a few more statements, they asked if I was an atheist. And being the honest bastard that I am, said I was. Every since then, they’ve all been ignoring me, seeming to look down on me. One ever said I was going to hell, to bad it doesn’t exist eh? They all seem to think I’m a bastard who has no morals what so ever.

So, I’m kinda stuck, basically the whole group of people who I used to consider friends (Besides the 3 I mentioned earlier) Think I’m “evil” or a “satanist” of some sorts. Funny thing is I used to respect a lot of these people and thought they were more intelligent then this. The one person who doesn’t think this way is this one girl, who says she doesn’t hate me or anything for me being an atheist, but she acts like it so the rest of her friends don’t ignore her. I guess I can’t blame her . So I guess this is my real problem, do you think I should just fake being religious again. It would probably be a lot easier on myself if my school didn’t look down upon me. And my best friend’s girlfriend lumps in this crowd, so it’d probably be easier on him since he’s whipped as hell. Or do you think I should just stand up to beliefs, and fuck them all. Funny thing is, I don’t hate or look down upon them for their beliefs. I don’t try to shove my atheistic ways down their throats. I don’t talk behind their back either. Even if I did become their friends again, I’d probably wouldn’t ever respect them the same way again. Damn, looks I’ve rambled. Well, thanks for reading.

First of all, Luke, I admire you for being so honest about your beliefs, even when faced with consequences like that. It definitely takes balls. Hell, you’re more forthcoming than I am — I wouldn’t lie to people and say I’m still Catholic, and I do sign the “Religion” portion of application forms with “Atheist” (that might be technically inaccurate because atheism is not a religion, but whatever), but I practice a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and I tend to avoid joining in discussions when they turn to religion. So, good on you for being out and proud.

Being in an environment like that is definitely tough, and I hate that prejudice is still so prevalent, even among young Americans. You say that you like these people despite how they’ve treated you, and that’s all well and good, but…are they really worth keeping as friends? Because if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t bother trying to pander to people who don’t like me anyway. Why would I want to be friends with someone if it meant that I’d always be wondering in the back of my mind if he secretly hates me? Things would be great if you got to be friends with everybody, but real life doesn’t work that way (at least judging from my experience).

Faking being religious may seem like a good idea at first; I did consider it myself for when I go to college. But the more I thought about it, the worse it seemed. If you’ve read even a few entries on this blog, you’d know how little I think of my family, and how my atheism changed their perspective of me. I could have pretended to “find Jesus” again to get back in their good graces (or just get Mother Dearest to stop bitching). But I didn’t, because I realized it would have been pure torture for me, and it became clearer and clearer to me that it just wasn’t worth it. What I did instead was seek solace in my friends, who, no matter what their religions were, accepted me for who I am. I learned to stop caring about what my family thought of me, and once I did that, I finally felt happy with myself. That’s the key question, Luke: What is more important, that they like you, or that you like yourself?

Stop caring, I say, and find better friends. Even that chick who only pretends to hate you isn’t worth hanging around, because she clearly values her reputation over her friendship with you. How popular we were in high school doesn’t matter in the long run, anyway, at least from what I can tell. I’ve got co-workers who used to be high school cheerleaders, and are now just bitter, pizza-faced hags, having retained only their rancid personalities. The totally-out-of-it stoner dude who always zoned out in class and was made fun of by the other, “smarter” kids? He’s now my boss, Mr. McKenzie, well put-together, smart, and hella sexy, with ladies all falling over themselves just to get to talk to him. (Not me, though. I’d do him, but only when offered. :P)

If you really want to repair your friendships with these people, though, don’t lie to them. That shit will get tired, eventually. Instead, try to prove that despite your differences in beliefs, you are still a good and compassionate person. As they would say, “Turn the other cheek.” Hopefully, they’ll warm up to you and figure out that not all atheists are vicious, ill-intentioned demons.

I hope that despite everything that’s happened, you’re still doing well in school and in your personal life. Always keep in mind that what they say doesn’t dictate who you are. You’re still awesome!

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Mixed messages April 6, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in family, issues, rants.
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16 comments

Watched Horton Hears a Who with my Mother Dearest last Thursday. The animation was downright stupefying, the characters were likable (slightly emo son Jojo was so cute, and my favorite would have to be that weird sheep-porcupine-looking thing that goes “aaaah”), and the story was really good. And Seth Rogen. That’s my future husband, right there.

At dinner with the rest of the family after the show, my father asked about the movie. “The message was very nice,” my mother answered. “He believed in the Whos, even though they were invisible.”

God fucking damn it.

Seriously, I can’t watch anything with my mother without it turning into some metaphor for the virtues of theism/Catholicism. The paranoia hampered my enjoyment of the movie, especially in scenes where the antagonist kangaroo is like “If you can’t see it, hear it, smell it, or feel it, then it isn’t there.” (Which I agree with, by the way, but I’ll get to that later.) My atheism will always be the elephant in the room — hee, get it, “elephant.”

I was seething inside, but I managed to maintain an only mildly irritated-looking facade. “But he could hear them,” I retorted, trying to restrain myself from getting too snarly.

“Yeah, well.” Typical Catholic response.

As for me, I actually like the message I got from Horton Hears a Who, which is obviously a different interpretation from my mother’s. And it goes as such:

The tyrannical kangaroo was angered upon finding out that Horton held a belief (that there were little people living in the speck) that was radically different from hers or the rest of the jungle’s. Fearing that the propagation of this new belief would encourage people to start thinking outside the box and cause her to lose her vice-grip on the kingdom (the kangaroo was the self-appointed leader), she ordered her minions to persecute Horton and force him to admit that what he said he believed in was absolute hooey. She also managed to convince everyone that Horton was a nutjob for believing in this shit.

Sound familiar yet?

Horton stuck to his principles, and luckily for him, the Whos of Whoville managed to make themselves heard in time to be saved. The animals embraced Horton and his beliefs, and blah blah happily ever after.

So, from what I can see of this story, it’s not pro-theist at all. It’s anti-narrow-mindedness. I feel like we atheists are the Hortons in this picture, persecuted and stigmatized for choosing to think outside the box and seek an answer that makes more sense.

Unfortunately, while our Whos in Whoville are loud and clear (read: logic and tangible evidence are in our favor), most choose to turn a blind ear. ‘Cause, you know, they might go to hell for even considering it. What’s important, though, is that like Horton, we shouldn’t give in to the pressure of fitting in.

I’d share this with Mother Dearest, but as I’ve mentioned before, I refuse to argue with anti-atheist theists. It’s just not worth the effort.