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Wordy ruminations July 9, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in career, family, friends, issues, teen angst.
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4 comments

T.A. – sleep + unlimited internet access + 1 week paid leave = tedious, lengthy diatribe on “my thoughts, let me show you them.”

Taken from an e-mail exchange with Holy Prepuce:

If at some point in your upbringing you bought into the Catholic idea of a heaven or resurrection (i.e. that our conscious selves survive death and perhaps even live forever), was it difficult to come to terms with the loss of this belief?

It wasn’t difficult for me, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been a very inquisitive and imaginative child, so even at a very young age, I’d read the Bible (Revelations was my favorite part; I’m weird that way) and think, “What if this is just really tedious fiction?” The more I thought about it over the years, the more absurd I found the whole concept. Virgin births, talking bushes, life after death? Really?

I remember going through a very difficult time when nobody in the house would even speak to me, and I thought, “Well, at least God’s there for me. If I just keep praying, He’ll help me through this.” I realized much, much later on that God wasn’t doing shit, because what help did he provide, other than maybe sitting there, hearing my prayer and going “Mm-hmm”? I pray, and nothing happens. Nothing’s ever happened my whole life that was a result of a strong faith. It wasn’t God that helped me through that time, it was my own imagination.

Religious leaders scare people into remaining faithful with talk of eternal damnation and other horrific consequences. And the more you devote to the religion, the more you want it to be real, because you grow increasingly reliant on it, and it does seem like such a nice concept. So, despite a lack of evidence that what they believe in is real, religious people don’t want to question it because they don’t want to open up another can of worms when the alternative, turning a blind eye, is so much easier, especially when everyone around you is just as blind as you are.

As for my Predominantly Catholic Country in general, most atheists here come to that realization in college (I have yet to meet anyone who was raised atheist over here!). For instance, Carl became an atheist in the middle of a college course dissecting creation versus evolution. I think this trend exists because in college, the power of influence shifts from the parents to the peers and teachers, so people start to consider all sorts of options — beliefs, orientations, what-have-you.

The whole “college self-discovery” thing is a transition I never experienced or had to experience, probably as a result of my poor relationship with my parents, my natural inquisitiveness, my rebellious nature, and a hefty dose of introspection.

In short, I’m really weird.

But it’s always seemed to me that denial of mortality was one of the primary motivators for religious belief, even in the face of strong contrary evidence for the claims made–so finally accepting that we are not immortal has to be one of the defining moments of a a theist’s “conversion” to atheism.

That’s definitely true for a lot of Catholics. My philosophy about it has always been, I want to live in the now, and live the way I want to. Why would I be banished to hell or thought of as an evil person or a bad follower if I decided to eat a cheeseburger in Lent? It’s my life, and that cheeseburger looks pretty damn tasty!

I find it to be a terrible waste of life not to enjoy yourself because you’re waiting for the next life, which God promises will be much better. I see my life the same way I see my job, I suppose: I don’t ever want to fall out of love with it. I don’t want to settle just because there’s going to be something better later on, because I don’t want to be looking for something better in the first place.

I found this wonderful quote from Lance Armstrong that sums it up pretty nicely: “Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whther I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn’t say, ‘But you were never a Christian, so you’re going the other way from heaven.’ If so, I was going to reply, ‘You know what? You’re right. Fine.'”

Also, tell me about life as a teenage atheist in your country…

I’m getting more comfortable with it now, as compared to back in September when I started the blog. 🙂 I don’t proclaim my godlessness to everyone, but I can reply honestly to anyone who asks without even batting an eyelash. Reactions vary (it’s usually a polite smile, followed by a change of topic), though thankfully none as violent as my parents’ reaction. It’ll always be the pink elephant in the room with them. I wonder what it’ll be like when my brother goes to college… 😉

The world is shallow. Trufax. February 16, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, issues.
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15 comments

[Apologies in advance for the number of non-atheism-related posts recently. If I limited my blog to experiences pertaining to my beliefs, this blog would be waaay thinner. This is most likely because I haven’t interacted much with my sanctimonious, preachy Mother Dearest since I started working, and god damn it, I love working!]

I realized in the fourth grade, while pondering on the ways of the world with a couple of friends, that anyone who claims that “Looks don’t matter” is a fucking liar. Of course they matter, and I honestly don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Little Steve: “All that counts is what’s on the inside.”

Little TA: “Well, it counts for something, but I wouldn’t want to marry a guy whose face I don’t really want to see first thing in the morning.”

We were strange children. Hee.

When I say looks matter, I don’t mean that we should only go for the Adonises of the world, because that’d leave a helluva lot of lonely people. I only mean that it’s natural for people to want to be with those whom they are attracted to. Appearances are not the end-all-be-all, but they certainly do matter. Not just in romance, but in all sorts of interactions: from my experience, people are nicer to me if I wear something pretty and show a little leg.

In case you were wondering, I’m discussing this because an experience this past week had me thinking about how shallow I truly am. The experience happened on Wednesday morning, with 50-something divorcee Murray.

Before I continue, let me give you a brief description of Murray, whom I’d mentioned in my last post as the co-worker who gave an unsolicited lecture to me and fellow atheist Carl. That TL;DR moment aside, Murray and I had a pretty good friendship going, with an Opie-and-Cool-Older-Guy dynamic. In terms of looks, since that’s the topic, Murray is, well…old. And pretty gross-looking. (Hey, I never said I wasn’t shallow.)

I showed up on Wednesday wearing faded jeans and a fitted black Pearl Jam t-shirt with a low neckline; I’d taken to it with a pair of scissors because the collar was tattered. It showed off my ta-tas pretty nicely, although that wasn’t my reason for wearing it — I just really liked Pearl Jam.

Right as I walked into the office and sat down at my desk, Murray went “Woooo, someone’s looking hot today!” complete with the touch-your-skin-while-making-a-sizzling-noise gesture. Which, okay, it’s always nice to hear that you look good, but this was bordering on creepy. I’m fucking eighteen, dude, watch your boundaries.

I tried not to let the comment bother me too much, or affect my rapport with Murray, but I ended up avoiding him for the rest of the week. I think he took the hint, and he didn’t try to say anything like that again, limiting it to a “You look nice today.” It’s kind of a shame, because no matter how you slice it, that’s still one less friend for me in the workplace. (Oh well, he was kind of annoying, anyway.)

It was after that incident that I started thinking about whether or not I was overreacting or being superficial. If, for instance, it were Gay Friend Mikey or Platonic Soulmate Ray who made that remark, I wouldn’t have been bothered by it. Hell, even though he’s still got a good 15 years on me, if Totally Doable Boss Mr. McKenzie grabbed my ass and whispered dirty things in my ear, I’d have nodded, grinned, and locked the door behind us.

But since it was gross, old Murray, it bugged the heck out of me. It’s like that one SNL skit with Tom Brady, where he was in a 50’s-style PSA on sexual harassment, which included this awesome bit:

3 Rules of Avoiding a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

1. Be attractive.

2. Be handsome.

3. Don’t be unattractive.

Funny but true.

Overall, I was a little shaken by what happened, but I’m not going to let pervy comments or lascivious stares affect the way I dress. I’ll wear whatever the hell I want to, thank you very much, and if you can’t keep your comments (positive or negative) to yourself, then I hope you won’t mind if I avoid you for a while.

Ah, the workplace. I learn something new every day.

TA would hit it (she totally would) February 10, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, career, friends.
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17 comments

Just finished my first week of work, and it was hella fun. Yay, me!

I met all sorts of interesting people at work. There’s my semi-cute, early-30’s boss, Mr. McKenzie, who doesn’t really make my heart race when I see him (plus he kind of has a beer gut), although I’d still hit it. I’d totally hit it. I’ve never had that phrase repeated so often in my head in one week. Whenever he’s got his back turned and I’m checking out his butt, I’m like, “I’d hit it.” When my co-workers squeal about how gorgeous he is, I’d say, “He’s not that hot, but I’d hit it.” Haven’t you ever encountered that kind of person? You know s/he’s totally wrong for you, and maybe isn’t even your type, but you’d still tap that ass given the chance. I’ve only experienced that kind of thing with McKenzie and with a former teacher of mine, Mr. Dexter, who somehow managed to be a Catholic and a Wiccan at the same time. He was weird, pale and spindly, but still kind of hot. Don’t ask me why.

McKenzie picks on me a lot because I’m the Opie of the workplace, but I’m handling it pretty well. I think McKenzie and I would have been good friends under other circumstances, but since he’s my boss, I find him just a little bit intimidating.

Back to the co-workers: fat, condescending uber-bitch Judy. I took this job knowing that people would probably underestimate me because I’m at least a decade younger than everybody else, but Judy is in a class all her own. She’s twice the bitch on the outside that I am on the inside, and that’s saying a lot, because you all know I’m a total bitch inside. I tried to be friendly towards her, but she’d raise an eyebrow and then turn her back on me. Whatever, nobody else likes her, anyway. Maybe she’s just jealous because she’s a 29-year-old college grad who’s earning the same amount as a dumb teenager fresh out of high school? Hee.

We have Annie, 27, sweet but slightly clueless. I spend most of my time with her, I guess because she was the first to approach me when I was new to the workplace. I sort of have to dumb myself down when I talk to her, but I don’t mind too much. It’s nice to not have to be on my toes all the time.

Ray, 24, brings out the inner dork in me, which is why I love hanging out with him. In the middle of work, we’d jump out of our seats and sing showtunes to each other! He’s the Jim to my Pam, if you remove the underlying romantic tension from the equation.

If all goes well, then Mikey, 28, will soon be my Gay BFF. Tee-hee. We like all the same things, and we get along great. He’s the only guy in the office whom I feel is on my level, intellectually.

Then there’s Carl, a kind father of two in his mid-thirties who sits next to me at work. I don’t know how the discussion came to religion, but it did, and when he told me he was an atheist, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, told him I was an atheist too, and then high-fived him. (What? It’s hard to find fellow atheists here!) Unfortunately, Murray, the mid-50’s guy who sits behind us, overheard the conversation and wheeled his chair over to share his thoughts on God and faith. I know he meant well, but it was incredibly TL; DR, and I spent most of that monologue trying not to space out. To make things worse, it was an “I used to be an atheist, but…” story. “But then I decided that logic just wasn’t for me.” (Okay, it was “But then my mom got cancer.” At least it’s an interesting twist to the whole “My mom got cancer so I became an atheist” story.)

It’s another annoying habit that theists have. It happened to me before when I had dinner with Joe, a hugely irritating friend-of-a-friend. I was telling him about my rocky relationship with my family and how horrible they are to me just because I’m an atheist. From out of nowhere, he starts preaching to me about “it’s not really about God, it’s about love” and blah blah fishcakes, and I just nodded and smiled even though I was thinking, “Guh, what? Worst date ever.”

I don’t know what compels someone to do it, but whenever I say that I’m an atheist, a believer who happens to hear me will suddenly go into a looooong sermon on the tenets of Catholicism or whatever. I hate to break it to you guys, but theists? We usually don’t care. Well, I’m speaking for myself, anyway. You’re not going to convert me by saying something long and boring about a topic I don’t give a flying fuck about, when we could instead be talking about something interesting, like rock music.

Murray’s actually my friend, and I like the guy, but once he was out of earshot, I whispered to Carl, “This is exactly why I don’t tell everybody I meet that I’m an atheist.”

Carl: “Agreed.”