Monday, November 1, 2010

I love theists. It’s theism I can’t stand.

Take the sentiment and reverse it for me.
Last year one of my fellow teachers invited a bunch of us out to her house for a Christmas dinner party. We were there for about an hour when she gently pulled me to the side and very quietly and gently said, "I'm going to say grace before dinner. Is that going to be okay with you?"

Now let me make this utterly clear. She didn't say it in any sort of condescending or challenging way. She was genuinely concerned that I would be put out by the prayer, and she was simply doing her duty as a hostess to see to the wellbeing of her guests. I took it in the spirit it was intended and let her know that I was perfectly fine with it as long as it didn't require audience participation. It didn't, and after the forty-five seconds of prayer was over, we continued to have a good time for the evening.

That incident really typifies my experiences since I began letting people know my feelings on matters religious. I personally have experienced very little animosity from my theistic friends. People who know me just seem to accept it even if they don't understand or agree with it. From former students (Hi, Allison!) to fellow teachers, to the staff at the school, everyone seems to accept a person's beliefs as personal matter, and they don't let it cloud their ideas about what constitutes a good person or a good educator. The reverse is true as well. A number of folks close to me have deep rooted beliefs that I do not share in the least, but I recognize them as intelligent, vibrant, caring human beings who I am fortunate to have in my life.

I guess what it comes down to is that even though I feel on the large scale theistic beliefs do more harm than good, that doesn't mean that I hold the same for the individuals who accept those beliefs.


  1. Hi Rich.

    I'm finding these posts very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm reminded that context is everything. In Europe an atheist would never really feel the need to justify their beliefs in a blog. No-one would care that they were an atheist.

    When it comes to actually practicing religion, most of us aren't really religious anyway, and its the Christians who would find themselves wanting to explain themselves.

    Tony Blair being a Christian was a bit of a novelty really, but his faith seemed to stop him from questioning the results of his actions, so he wasn't a great example of a Christian at the end of the day!

    Personally I wish more people would think through what they believe in and interrogate their beliefs as you are doing here.

    Just wondering. Did you pause before embarking on this series of blogs? I don't know much about the US, but sometimes it seems as if you have to be a believer to hold down a job like a teacher, especially away from the big metropolitan centres on the coasts.

    (But as I say, I don't know much about the US.)

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to future posts.

  2. I wasn't worried about the ramifications of outing myself. As I said, I've been very fortunate personally in that I've yet to experience any malign prejudice from people who actually know me.

    That isn't the case in other parts of the country, I'm sure, but my town, for all its faults, is pretty accepting.

  3. Wow, you brought me up in this one. Awww I'm touched. :) I haven't read any of your blog for awhile so now I am catching up.