Spying on Atheists and Other Personal Rants


Note: This is a personal rant in which I pick on certain people in my life, both religious and non-religious. Please do not take as a generalization.

ETA: I think you should know that I wrote this shortly after I got shat on over the subject. I support the right of all people to (politely) assert their rights and express their religious beliefs (or lack thereof). I really, really didn’t mean to sound like a dick here.

I had my last class today, and it was in chorus.

I’m relieved to be on break. It’s not just because I burnt out in the middle of semester and I’m glad it’s over. It’s not because I have major plans for the holiday (which I don’t.)

It also means I get a break from a particular student that has getting on my last nerve with his pissing and moaning about TEH CHRIIIIIIIIIIST!

All semester, he has been complaining that he has to sing Christmas music because he’s not Christian, he refuses to celebrate Christmas, he doesn’t care, etc. Repeatedly. He can’t hear the words ‘Christian,’ ‘Jesus,’ or ‘Christ’ without shitting on himself and the rets of us.

He had every opportunity to suggest that his holiday, whatever it is, be included in the program, but of course he didn’t take it. We perform music from all different cultures and traditions…so nothing was stopping him from making a suggestion.

Whos’ fault is that? His. Bite me.

Anyway, I know another girl with a similar attitude. I asked her a question that came up over the course of a discussion totally unrelated to what I was asking.

I asked her if she was taking the new course “Historical and Literary Survey of the Bible.”

Simple yes or no question, right? Well, I was wrong. She got enraged and started sputtering, “NO, BECAUSE I THINK THE BIBLE IS A…IS A…CROCK OF SHIT!!!”

Really loud. She refused to talk to me for a while after that.

Since I was not Christian at the time, there was no possibility that she thought I was trying to convert her. The topic for discussion, like I just said, was about something totally unrelated to religion. But apparently, she has a grudge against Christianity.

Seriously? Get over it.

Whether these dipshit teenagers like it or not, Western civilization is dominated by Christianity. Much of our art, literature, and even science are inspired by it. Out of those who are religious in the West, most of them are Christian. Christianity influences our politics and our way of life, as it has for centuries. Granted, that’s not always a good thing, but how can you challenge it if you are unaware of it and don’t care about it?

That’s part of life. You have to do things and learn about things you would rather not be involved in. Your personal little grudge against Christianity is not some special license to be an ignoramus.

There ARE non-Christians who have contributed in a positive way to Western civilization. I find it interesting that neither of these teenagers have any interest in including non-Christians in a discussion of Western civilization. They have never once suggested anything that would accomplish that goal. Their sole interest is in attacking Christianity and, by extension, most of Western civilization, indiscriminately.

That’s just sad. These are people that deliberately exclude anything remotely Christian from their lives. How many works of literature, art, music, discussions of science and politics do they miss out on? What else do they miss out on because they hate Christianity so much?

I don’t give a rat’s ass if they don’t like or practice the religion. I really don’t. But get this. In the adult world, no one cares about your little political statement. To them, you’re just another dipshit teenager with a sense of entitlement that needs her ass kicked. Just bite the bullet and do the class. Sing the songs you are supposed to be singing. Okay?

Of course, you are perfectly free to continue pissing and moaning on your own time, but I still think it’s pathetic. Why would someone be so proud of knowing next to nothing about their own history and culture? I don’t care what it is or what religion is responsible for it.

Okay, I done picking on non-Christians. Now I get to pick on my own.:)

Christians do the same thing as the aforementioned teenagers, namely keep themselves as ignorant as possible and have shit fits over the slightest offense. Christians ask me, all the time, why atheists do this or think that, usually in an indignant tone of voice.

My first instinct is to tell them, “How the hell should I know? Why don’t you ask one?”

Christians have this odd idea that all atheists think alike. They think that I have some special key to the minds of atheists and that I am like a spy for the side of good against the side of depravity. I am much coveted in my local Catholic circles, but I get sick of discussing it.

Because even when I explain it, they don’t get it. Many atheists don’t get religion because they cannot see it through the eyes of the religious. The same dynamic exists in religious circles. They do not get atheism because they cannot see it through the eyes of an atheist.

To religious people, all good comes from God. Therefore, if you do not believe in God, you do not believe in good. In fact, I actually had a woman come up to me and start talking to me about how she knows that someone can’t really be an atheist.

I asked her why, and what she said next made my jaw drop to the floor.

“She’s so nice and so happy…atheists can’t be like that, can they?”

I think that speaks for itself.

Sorry, dudes. I wish my religion had more to offer than that. Well, we do, but they’re hard to find. They’re too busy being tactful.

The problem is that *atheists* don’t think like that. Most atheists are good and have most of the same virtues and values as anyone else. The difference lies in the source of that good. Secular humanists believe that humans evolved a natural capacity to love and serve through Darwinian evolution. Humans are valuable because they are part of nature and part of each other through these genetic connections. Other atheists believe that people have the free will to choose good or evil, and that we learn through trial and error what bears good fruit and what does not. Other atheists don’t have specific beliefs about how good got here, but they know good when they see it.

Secular humanists are atheists, but not all atheists are SHs. Not all atheists are liberal, either.

In other words, ask ten atheists about why they are atheist, where goodness comes from, etc. and you will get ten very different answers. So, again, how the hell should I know why atheists think this and do that? I’m not a goddamn mind-reader.

Earlier, I said that my first instinct was to tell Christians to go ask atheists what they think instead of harassing the fuck out of me. Well, I lied. It wasn’t just my first instinct. I actually asked it once.

They told me they don’t pay attention to whatever garbage they are spewing because they don’t want any part of it anyway.

Well, how do you know it’s garbage if you don’t pay attention to what they are saying? How can you challenge misinformation and attacks if you don’t know what they are? Do you know how stupid you look when you take stabs in the dark like that? How can you truly understand your own beliefs if you do not understand the paths you have NOT chosen? Lastly, how many atheists have said the same about Christians? Do you like hearing those comments?

If it sounds familiar, it should.

I can personally attest, an a Roman Catholic, that I find splendor and goodness in atheist and secular humanist thought. I love listening to Jewish liturgical chants. I wish more Catholics practiced Buddhist meditation and knew about pagan influences on their faith. I see parallels between the legends of the Hindu gods and the Catholic saints. All that is just, beautiful, glorious, and GOOD has a place in the life of every Catholic. They have a place in everyone’s lives. I focus on Christians here because they have a nasty habit of assuming that if it’s not explicitly Christian, it’s anti-Christian. Really, it’s not.

Most atheists are normoal people. So are most Christians. So are most Muslims, Jews, Hindus and pagans. Most people are normal. Wow. Whoda thunkit?

Oh, and for the record, if I were Satan, I wouldn’t use an atheist to fulfill my agenda. Too obvious. I would rather go after another Catholic, preferably a reall powerful one with a good reputation like, say, the Pope?

Mortals are so silly!

Anyway, this is Joanna, your diplomat/interpreter, signing off. Happy holidays!

Advertisements

15 comments

  1. Dee · December 18, 2011

    Atheist here.

    On good: I think it’s natural, evolutionarily, for people to have two priorities: their own survival and the survival of their family and community. As human beings, we’re capable of abstract thought. What we think of as our community may extend to our neighbourhood, our city or town, our country, the entire human community, or the whole planet. A good person balances these priorities and when possible acts in a way that promotes both their own survival and the common good. That’s usually possible. Sometimes people will act in the common good or for the good of people close to them in detriment to their own survival. Most of us (both religious and not) consider that to be high minded and admirable.

    Being able to promote both your own survival and the common good often requires a lot of thought and an understanding of how the world works. For that reason, good people also make an effort to understand the world around them and the people in it.

    Some people make mistakes about what serves the common good and set arbitrary limits on their definition of “community,” excluding people with backgrounds, beliefs, or even appearances that differ from their own. They may draw a hard line at the borders of their own geographical community and fight wars. They may draw a line at the borders of their religion and attempt to impose their beliefs on others. Most evil comes out of this error and/or out of a complete disregard for others, which is basically the same mistake – a community that’s limited to oneself.

    That’s my knee-jerk reaction to being asked what constitutes good and evil, as a non-religious person. I’m sure it could use a little more thought and clarification, but I think that’s my general understanding.

    • JoannaDW · December 18, 2011

      Great answer.:) If I recall correctly, a certain someone I know who rose from the dead on Easter 2,000 years ago was all about expanding boundaries.

  2. O.C. · December 18, 2011

    “Seriously? Get over it.
    Whether these dipshit teenagers like it or not, Western civilization is dominated by Christianity. Much of our art, literature, and even science are inspired by it. Out of those who are religious in the West, most of them are Christian. Christianity influences our politics and our way of life, as it has for centuries. ”

    Whoa there… Western society has also been dominated by white, heterosexual males for centuries. Should those of us who are bothered by that also “get over it”?

    Maybe these people are communicating their views badly — it sounds like they are. But telling them just to suck it up is a way of reinforcing the dominant culture by telling a minority group that their experience isn’t valued, simply because they aren’t in the majority.

    Know that I enjoy reading your blog, and I’m not attacking YOU. Just questioning what you’ve written in this particular post.

    • JoannaDW · December 18, 2011

      @OC

      No offense taken.:)

      The problem isn’t that people criticize what is taught and how. I do too, and this is a good thing. I said as much in my post. Read here:

      “There ARE non-Christians who have contributed in a positive way to Western civilization. I find it interesting that neither of these teenagers have any interest in including non-Christians in a discussion of Western civilization. They have never once suggested anything that would accomplish that goal. Their sole interest is in attacking Christianity and, by extension, most of Western civilization, indiscriminately.”

      Fair, accurate criticism of Western civilization, and Christianity, is good. Including minority views in these discussions are good. But the particular people I am talking about contributed absolutely nothing to the discussion but attacks on Christianity.

      My other point is that we all have to learn and do things we don’t agree with or are not interested in. It is a fact of life, whether they like it or not, that Christianity so heavily dominated the Western scene. These two kids literally feel entitled to not learn about or participate in anything that involves Christianity in it. Well, I’m not an evangelical, but I don’t complain about having to learn about it. I’m not Muslim, but I accept that I need to know some things about Islam in order to understand history and current events. Actually, I hate taking math tests, but I don’t use “I don’t LIKE this! I don’t CARE! I’m not a MATH PERSON!” as an excuse to not show up and not do well.

      Christians are just a guilty of this, which is what I discussed later in my post. Christians make no effort to understand atheists and then complain when atheists respond in kind. It takes two to have a dialogue.

      I appreciate your comments.:)

  3. librarychair · December 18, 2011

    I used to be one of those teenagers with a grudge against Christianity. It’s very similar to the grudge you have against your parents when you’re a teenager, or the hatred you feel for any authority figure, really. Eventually it goes away when you become a more complex person, an adult, and can conceive of other people as being just as complex as you, instead of relying on a stereotype. A lot of people don’t get that far, and most people only get that far for some categories. I’m sure I’m one of them, though every time I think of an example I realize that I don’t really misunderstand it, I just disagree. I do try to be respectful of people’s views, though. Especially religious views. I’m actually kind of fascinated when people tell me about their own personal religious views. They are so diverse and interesting. There are as many religions as there are people, I think.

    • joannadeadwinter · December 19, 2011

      A lot of people don’t know this about me, but I used to be one of those teenagers myself. I understand the motivation and I know how it feels. But as I got older, I learned a true appreciation of those who are different from me, and I opened myself to all people, not just those who are “fashionably” different.

      This is not ot say that I agree with them. For example, I do not agree with those who say the Holocaust never happened. But like I always say, how can you criticize something if you do not know what you are criticizing? You are always more effective talking about something you know, even if you hate the process of getting to know it, even if your only purpose is to criticize it.

  4. Clara · December 18, 2011

    Okay, first I have to say I am an atheist.

    Although it does annoy me when I hear “dipshit” teenagers harping on the Bible and Christian beliefs for no particular reason, I disagree that the guy was out of line for not wanting to sing Christmas songs. I mean, he obviously didn’t have to be such an ass about it but if he felt like politely removing himself from the Christmas portion of your program that is completely his right. This is the same way I feel when people scream about the White House and the first family sending out “Happy Holiday” cards. Who cares? (I’m based in the United States, I’m not sure you are so sorry for that potential idiocy on my part.)

    I also don’t believe that we should allow Christianity to shape our politics or our government. There is supposed to be a separation of church and state in our government and people lose out on their basic human rights because sometimes there isn’t. That’s just my personal opinion though.

    You are a very good writer and I very much enjoy reading your blog. 🙂
    I hope I didn’t come of sounding like a jerk…just my two cents.

    • JoannaDW · December 18, 2011

      “Although it does annoy me when I hear “dipshit” teenagers harping on the Bible and Christian beliefs for no particular reason, I disagree that the guy was out of line for not wanting to sing Christmas songs. I mean, he obviously didn’t have to be such an ass about it but if he felt like politely removing himself from the Christmas portion of your program that is completely his right. This is the same way I feel when people scream about the White House and the first family sending out “Happy Holiday” cards. Who cares? (I’m based in the United States, I’m not sure you are so sorry for that potential idiocy on my part.)”

      I made this comment because part of a singer’s job is to sing songs that you may not totally agree with. You are performing a service for the public, and you provide what the public wants. However, politely removing himself from the Christmas portion is a good idea. He could also have suggested songs that are more in line with his tradition. I think I will bring that up to the choral director so we can improve on that next year. Lots of people cannot do certain things for religious reasons, like eat pork, pray to the saints, say the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. and it’s no big deal to me.

      By the way, I’m from the US too.:) And I confess that I love the word dipshit. It just rolls off the tongue when talking about people that get on my nerves. What can I say? It’s a vice.

      “I also don’t believe that we should allow Christianity to shape our politics or our government. There is supposed to be a separation of church and state in our government and people lose out on their basic human rights because sometimes there isn’t. That’s just my personal opinion though.”

      I agree 100%, and I wrote a post about it called “Science lesson: The Earth revolves around the sun, not around you.” Separation of Church and state protects Church AND state, not to mention the rest of us, from getting fucked in the mouth. The problem is that, regardless of whatever ideals we have, our beliefs and prejudices unconsciously get in the way and we “vote out values” without realizing it or realizing potential negative consequences.

      I do not defend Church-state lovemaking but it happens anyway and it can be very subtle. If we are not aware of it, how can we challenge it?

  5. Clara · December 18, 2011

    Oh no, I enjoy the word dipshit too. I put it in quotations to show it was your word and that I was not clever enough to use it on my own.

    I’m sorry that I misinterpreted your message. Also, I realized the way I wrote it might be seen to imply that all Christians hate or don’t agree with homosexuality or any other controversial topics which I know not to be true. Even though I don’t practice any religion I know that it/they mean a lot to other people and do a lot of good for the world!

  6. P. Thomas · December 19, 2011

    Exactly! It never fails to annoy me when people are vociferously anti-Christian (I’d consider myself agnostic, for what it’s worth) and unable to back it up. I used to know several people (myself included, I’m ashamed to say) whose main argument was that Christians were intolerant, oppressive, closed-minded people; essentially “I believe in tolerance for everyone, except those awful Christians!”. I can appreciate the irony now.
    I think the reason it’s so annoying is because a) there’s a tendency in that mindset to generalise the entire group into one person, as you’ve said and b) the people I knew, at least, did it in part because it was what intellectual people did (they thought). Again, irony.
    In closing, I always love reading your posts 🙂

  7. Twistie · December 19, 2011

    Speaking as an atheist, I find people who reject anything to do with Christianity out of hand as wrong-headed as the woman I once met while selling books.

    She asked me for a recommendation for a novel she might enjoy reading. I asked her what authors/novels she had enjoyed recently and she mentioned several books I was quite fond of. Thinking his works fit right in with the books she’d mentioned, I recommended a book by Robertson Davies.

    She drew herself up to her full height and nearly spit at me that she had decided never, ever to read another book by a man for the rest of her life and stomped angrily out of the store.

    Me? I’m a dyed-in-the-wool feminist from the word go. I practically came out of the womb quoting Gloria Steinham. But you know what? I’m not going to give up the majesty of the words of Shakespeare simply because he had a penis. I can’t imagine my life without Richard Braughtigan purely because he wrote from a masculine point of view.

    I may not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but I think he had a lot of wise, important things to say. I also think we can all find wisdom in a surprising number of places, so long as we keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to new concepts.

    So thank you for recognizing and expressing that it isn’t one side or the other: it’s people who close their minds who are the problem.

    • Dee · December 19, 2011

      Agreed. Definitely it’s at the very least an important part of the West’s cultural heritage. I’m not usually uncomfortable with Christian music, art, or symbolism. I just don’t relate to it in the same way a Christian would.

      As for Christian influence in schools, as a kid I always skipped the “under God” line in the Pledge and the only time I felt really uncomfortable was when 2/3 of my High School Commencement speeches were given by clergy. It would have been fine if they’d made an effort to be inclusive, but they used a lot of language that excluded non-Christians, and especially agnostics and atheists.

  8. yellownightmare · December 19, 2011

    Get over it? As important as “trigger warnings” are recently, I’m, well, not surprised to see an inconsiderate post directed towards atheists. Many atheists don’t have faith as the result of a long journey and struggle with issues with family and the church. For some, it’s a stressful part of their lives that they don’t particularly like to think about, let alone gleefully sing about. Fuck everything about this post.

    • joannadeadwinter · December 19, 2011

      With all due respect, if you want to comment on my blog, you might want to read through the entire post first before you comment. Because half-way down, I show my respect for atheists and defend them against Christian attacks.

      Actually, you might want to make it through the whole trigger warning, because I also said that I was going after specific people in my life, both religious and non-religious.

      If anyone truly has a problem with something that goes against their beliefs, that’s not a big deal to me. Some people cannot eat pork or say the Pledge of Allegiance, and that’s okay by me. However, the correct response to the issue is to politely explain why you cannot participate and ask for other ways to be included. In a musical setting, you need to do this early on so that other people can cover those parts. The problem is that these students made no effort to do this. They never requested to be removed from the program or to do something as an alternative. They just did it anyway and then made it a miserable experience for everyone else. THIS is what I have a problem with. It’s not that they do not participate in the Christian religion.

      And yes, unfortunately, you do need to get over some things to get on in life. It is one thing to choose not to participate in what are essentially worship songs. That’s your right. It is another thing entirely to refuse to expose yourself to your own culture or to other people because they happen to have an association with a group you don’t like. You cannot study art or literature in the Western world and just refuse to learn about anything Christian. That would exclude, well, most of the art ever produced the in Western world. In that instance, you need to make a decision: do I focus on the art and the message and worry less the Christian implications? Can I just appreciate the positive message without agreeing with it? Can I politely and accurately criticize the message?

      Or is this too much of a problem for me? If you cannot do any of the above, then you need to reconsider your line of study. If I take a job as a stripper, I know my clothes will have to come off at some point, and if I cannot separate my job from my beliefs of my private life, then maybe I shouldn’t be a stripper.

  9. Allison · December 20, 2011

    Atheist here. I was born and raised in a “heathen” (non-religious) household but in a strongly Protestant small town environment. Children on the bus tried to “save” me; I’ve attended church at the request of friends; and I have often been asked my “denomination,” with Christianity being a given assumption.

    As much as I disagree with Christianity on the existence of god and other epistemological (knowing) and ontological (being) questions, I have no problem integrating our common Christian cultural traditions into my life. For instance, I love to sing choral music, which almost always is Christian in content. My favorite book with Christian themes is Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.

    My love of Christmas is even easier to reconcile. For me the holiday is part of a tradition that pre-dates Western Christianity, the celebration of mid-winter (and the winter solstice). The joy of gathering with your family, giving gifts, and eating well is a perfect cure for the cold and dreary (less sunlight) winter doldrums. Most religious holidays have been scheduled on top of traditional festivals and feast days and can be celebrated in either a spiritual or a secular manner.

    There is no use arguing with theists about their beliefs, not just because it causes needless conflict, but because they are based in faith. Most have what has been termed a “sense of the divine.” I, on the other hand, do not. As a result, I have to rely on evidence and reason, which point me toward the conclusion that we cannot know whether or not there is a god and what its nature would be.

    The Christian God and others like it (personified, interventionist, all good, all knowing, all powerful), I see as wholly inconsistent with the world in which we live. For that reason, I call myself an atheist instead of an agnostic.

    I sympathize with your frustration about people complaining about one another, while refusing to solve the problem by communicating to find a place of mutual acceptance, if not understanding. From experience, I conclude that faith is the reason that theist and atheist arguments are incommensurable. If resolving conflict is your goal, it is best to just skip straight to the heart of the matter. A person can’t be convinced to have faith; they either have it or they don’t.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s