Monday, March 02, 2009

The young atheist has a reluctant champion.

Despite my oft out spoken wittering here, I make it my business not to go around in real life demanding public reiki blunderbussing or giving long tedious talks on the joys of lifting weights (except for a ten minute monologue over a few drinks the other week, but that was at a chap who gets it, so I don't feel as guilty, sorry G).
Anyhoo, blog = talk about whatever I like- yes monkeys, whatever I LIKE. Real world = Far more reigned in and considerate of others and their various opinions. That's the way it ought to be no?
But yesterday I was forced out of my shell of mild mannerisms to address what I saw as a rather pitch fork wielding moment.
A dear friend phoned, and as I am wont to do I just let the phone ring. But the paramour was here and he answered and after a moment of pleasantries dropped the phone into my office where I was forced to accept it.
This dear friend- let us call her R- calls me about once every two months. We went to the same college and have remained casual friends over the years. We meet up for lunch every few months or so. I like her, I do. She likes horses, me too. She likes dogs, me too, she likes books and films, HUZZAH, me too. She likes god a lot. Er, okay then.
Now see, this was never a problem for me, mostly because I didn't know anything about it. God talk is not something I would specifically engage in, anywhere. I don't wear an atheist cap or badge, so unless someone asked me, 'Say Fatcat, are you an atheist?' I would have no reason to divulge it.
Certainly R and I have never discussed religion over the years, so it was with a furrow dropping sigh I listened to her complain about her nephew and his atheism yesterday, how his disbelief was 'making her father sick' and his refusal to attend mass was 'making a holy show of the family.'
'What age is the lad?' I asked.
'Sixteen.' said she.
'Ah.' I said.
'Ah what.'
'Well a natural age to question beliefs.'
'We don't mind him questioning, but this lad refuses to accept a word anyone says. My mother even had the parish priest have a chat and nothing.'
'Your mother called the priest in?' I admit I was astounded.
'Just for a talk.'
Anyway in heel of the hunt, it turns out the lad- being like most teenagers, is chaffing under the yoke of parental control and also like most teenagers, is a little know it all, quoting Dawkins and Russell's teapot at ever attempt to corral him back into the Catholic/God fold. I admit I laughed, imagining a lanky youth, sneering gently at the parish priest as the god talk drifted right over his head. I attended a Catholic Boarding school you see, I was that youth.
I said so to my friend.
'What do you mean?' She said.
'Well, I'm an atheist, but less militant than I imagine your average teenager would be ho ho ho.'
A long silence followed. Then.
'You don't believe in God either?'
'Well no, I don't believe in any deity.'
'At all?"
I detected an incredulous note.
'Well, no.'
'What do you believe in then?'
Then I had a short, but slightly tense conversation about why I did not believe in an all powerful creator god who makes women from ribs, dudes from dust and could be called upon to help pass driving tests or find missing house keys while letting millions starve elsewhere. It seemed illogical to me, I said. I believed in nothing supernatural, I said.
We said our good byes shortly thereafter. But I admit, I was glum. I found the paramour changing into football gear and explained that I thought I'd been scratched off another Christmas card list.
'Is she the girl that sent you that book on angels' The paramour asked.
'No, that's the other one.' I said, growing ever glummer.
'Oh well,' Said he, 'Another one praying for your soul.'
'I'm going to start carrying a card. 'Good day to you, Fatmammycat, Next of kin. 0 Neg, please use organs, Atheist.'
Sigh, I wish I had a scrap of sneering teenage vigour in this quagmire of life. Oh wait, I have this place. That will have to do.



Anonymous sheepworrier said...

I still find it strange how completely normal, intelligent people can still believe in the whole gawd thing. Not the people who find a comfort in the idea of a benevolent diety etc, but the ones who are 110% convinced that it does exist and has a controling influence, and consequently must be worshipped.

10:54 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I suppose it's just whatever you're used to. Or if you've ever given it much thought.
I was really surprised at her shocked tone, I mean in this day and age discovering a person doesn't believe in a god is hardly that shocking, right?

11:02 a.m.  
Anonymous sheepworrier said...

You'd think so FMC, but maybe she just wasn't used to having her concepts challenged, especially by a friend.

11:16 a.m.  
Anonymous Fiona said...

Ha! I can't believe they brought the priest in! The important thing is not to stop questioning, after all. Fair play to the young atheist, says I.

11:24 a.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Credo in unum Gingerum...

Oh yesiree, I went through the "does not compute" thing. But then my family were hugely anti-clerical while being of the faithful. So, I generally allow for and respect others' personal beliefs but think institutional religiosity is all about power, money and control, ie guilt-tripping folks for being human.

11:36 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Seems weird to me to bring a priest in too, but then I remember it's the countryside and smaller communities where priests and lay folk might know each other well. I remember another gal years ago had a baby and hadn't gotten around to getting it baptised, the priest actually called unnanounced to her home to find out why not! Talk about cheek. And like you say Conan, talk about power.

1:17 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Sending the priest around would only confirm the choice not to believe for most of us.
She should mind her own business.

3:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Penny Century said...

Jaysus, it's hard to believe things are still like that in this day and age. Not the believing in God bit, but the outrage over a 16 year old not going to mass. I stopped going when I was 17, back in 1992, announced that I wasn't going because I didn't believe in almost all of it, and my (still practicing, but very liberal) Catholic parents just kind of rolled their eyes and left me to it; most of my friends had similar experiences. And if anyone had produced a priest to steer me back to the path of righteousness (or mass going) I'd have been absolutely and utterly outraged. It's amazing that people are shocked by teenage atheism or non-mass-attendance nearly 20 years later...

4:28 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Medbh, I'd say she feels it is her business, being an Irish Mammy and all that jazz.

Penny, I know it's very odd. Even the way she was describing his behaviour was tinged with anger and a whiff of shame, as though he was letting the side down in some way.

6:00 p.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

I don't wear an atheist cap or badge

I have an atheist jumper.

And me and a buddy are going to get t-shirts saying "the fool hath said is his heart, there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster".

6:29 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Heh, that's tremendous.

I'd like to get one with He-Man on the front, lifting up his ring- oh er- with 'By the Power of GingerStoke' underneath. Naturally He-Man would be ginger.

6:36 p.m.  
Anonymous problemchildbride said...

The odd thing with religious folks is that they are the ones with the might and protection of God on their sides, but non-believers must always be the ones worrying about whether we have upset or offended them. There is no reciprocity with them worrying about hurting our sensibilities. According to them, we are the more vulnerable ones but they are the ones in need of all the cosseting.

I know and love many religious people but there is no doubt that I feel a need somehow to protect them from some of the more unsavoury things in life or not talk about topics which offend them. Trouble is, there are such a lot.

6:51 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I usually stay out of religious conversations all together in the 'real world'. I can accept a lot of folk find comfort in the belief of a god so leave them on. Unless they start at me, then I'll let fly with whatever is at my disposal.
e.g, little old lady in corner shop says 'god bless' whenever I pay for my paper. Fine by me.
Being asked on my own doorstep, 'have you ever thought about your eternal soul?' Sharpens logic knife on whet stone of intolerance.
I was asked what religion I was years ago for a medical document, I said, 'none' which led the nurse to sigh, and say, 'what were you born, RC? CoE?'
'What business is that of yours?'I said, 'You asked what religion I am. And I'm telling you, none.'
We had a right old ding dong I can assure you.

7:04 p.m.  
Blogger Charles Pierce said...

I was interested to find this blog. 20 years ago I had a book published on different economic concepts to point the way to a sustainable world economy. Someone who liked the book contacted me to suggest that I update and re-publish it as a blog. She set up the blog, and the book is now complete on the blog in a series of posts. There are now also additional pieces on global warming and other subjects, and a piece on the origin and the anti-life nature of religion, and how we need to move away from it if we want to live sustainably on this planet. Here is the link:

With all good wishes,

Charles Pierce

2:04 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was brought up an atheist and always found religion quite laughable when I was younger.

As I get older I find myself defending people's religious beliefs. Increasingly I find people that believe the scientific consensus to be about as deluded as any religious person.

In my opinion, climate change and global warming is the new religion. Scientists disagree (although we're encouraged to believe that they don't) and anyone who pipes up to offer some perspective (medievil warm period anyone?) is shouted down like they are denying the holocaust.

I don't know either way about global warming - how am I supposed to know? I can listen to scientists and look at data, but it comes down to belief.

I just find it funny how people who think religion is a joke often believe mainstream science 100% without question.

10:31 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I don't mind folk having their beliefs as long as they're not ripping other folk off. Don't swallow every scientific line that gets cast on the water either. It's good to question.

5:08 p.m.  
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