(Via Rose Schwartz)
A few posts ago, I attempted to put myself in the theist’s shoes by going back into my own journey of enlightenment and godlessness. I admit it’s “too arduous of a task for me to think like a theist. I just don’t have it in me; moreover it would be an insult to theists.”
But I can go back to before I knew I didn’t believe.
Back to a time when I wasn’t sure what to believe; but considered myself closer to that of an agnostic theist. When I stood in my parents’ backyard (at about 17) staring into the night, I imaged the pure blackness of the universe. In awe of its beauty. I wondered what “god” could mean to me. My definition was rather Einsteinian, feeling the depths of such a vast place flow right throw me. I was a part of it all; it was all a part of me. I was possibly more of a pantheist. But what is pantheism anyway? Just one step closer to atheism?
I was never really a theist, I believe I meant deist. I never prayed or expected intervention. I was raised Jewish with more emphasis on Jewish heritage as opposed to religion. My mom prays; my dad doesn’t believe in a supernatural being or the afterlife but refuses to go by anything other than Jewish. I always had a hard time making the leap that my mom makes. It’s just not in me.
I started cursing at an early age (occasionally) just because it got under my mom’s skin. I didn’t understand; words are words. What the f*&k’s the difference? I remember on several occasions exclaiming “goddammit” after stubbing my toe or bumping into something (I was a clumsy child). I was only taking after my dad. My mom would laugh because she saw my dad in me while saying to me, “Look up and say you’re sorry.” To which I’d reply, “Why does the ceiling care what I say?”
By this time I wasn’t sure what to call myself or what to believe. I just knew that I didn’t believe in an old man with a beard in the sky dressed in white. It just seemed silly. And I watched all the bad animated shows of the time (late 80’s, early 90’s); all the bad sitcoms and dramas. I love(d) science fiction and fantasy. I just knew that I was Jewish and it made me “chosen” somehow. Sure some of the family get-togethers are nice for children but to me they were about family and food, not god.
Religion was just never an issue…until high school. My parents like to shelter me; they raised me in a suburb of Miami where I had many Jewish friends to play with. They liked me sticking with “my own”, though it was never a requirement. I never had the issues my father had in grade school, though he did attend in the 1930’s (he’s much older than my mother). Being called a “dirty Jew” and getting into fights often isn’t fun. No, for me, the girls found other reasons to pick on me. And it made me a better person because of it!
Now onto high school. I posted a personal experience story on how religion does poison everything. A hypocritical Catholic boy I dated in high school showed me just how intolerant someone can be. I can only imagine if I was a declared atheist then. I was an agnostic Jew who was guilty of killing his savior but he loved me enough to verbally abuse me. I believe there were other matters involved, yet religion played a huge part.
In college, my roommate (who I was randomly put with) and I declared ourselves “nothing”; I suppose we were still scared of the term atheist or hadn’t been exposed to it enough. My college experience played a large role in me coming into my own. My roommate, a girl from North Carolina, was raised Baptist. Growing up, she got her parents to stop going to church as much. Somehow. She got them to start thinking a bit. And they listened. Actually, in college, I had far more free-thinking friends than ever.
I moved out to Hollywood after I graduated. Less than a year later, I met someone who would change my life forever. I saw something in his eyes at a party and tracked him down. Note that I was generally a single girl; I didn’t like being tied down (especially after that horrible high school experience) to anyone who wasn’t worth it. But he was. And is. I went from “agnostic” to “atheist” since I’ve been with him, though have always godless within. I have never been more fulfilled, more in awe of nature than when I was able to admit the word “Atheist”. I finally feel a purpose in this big machine; a link in evolution and a part of the wonders of the universe. He’s opened my eyes in a way I never knew; I have always been pretty damn open-minded. We are now happily married.
I came out to my parents by accident. In conversation with my parents and boyfriend, my mom asked straight forward if he believed in god. He answered “no” and somehow the pressure turned on me. I told them how I felt. And we’ve discussed it a bit. In a way, it doesn’t even matter anymore.
I briefly thought that I would marry Jewish and raise my children as such (which is what I told my parents years and years ago). I suppose I lied to my parents, as they once said. Perhaps after the few bad experiences, I knew I didn’t want to marry a Christian and I didn’t know of anything else. I’ve always know that having kids just isn’t for me. I may or may not change my mind, who knows?
I’m not ‘out’ to everyone at work; the topic of religion doesn’t come up much. I’m not that great of a debater so I try to not be put on the spot. Occasionally, I’ll lob a quick one: Once a coworker referred to Friday as “Act of God Day”. I simply replied, “What would you call Monday then?”