An Atheist’s Bedtime Prayer

I’m heading to bed for the night, and I thought I’d leave you with my revised version of a classic children’s prayer from the 18th century:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
Or toss and turn while counting sheep.
If I die before I wake
The funeral should have milkshakes.

Sweet dreams!

April 15, 2009  |  randomness  |  5 Comments

5 Things I should have known about faith

Dear Previous Self,
cross and sky
I love you, chica. You’re delightful, passionate, curious, and charmingly sardonic. And whatthehell, you’re me; of course I’ve got a soft spot. But oy, you have got to break out of that slump of blissful ignorance you’ve been stuck in since that first felt storyboard in Sunday school. There are some things that must be said. They may not convince you or influence you, but what kind of Future Self would I be if I didn’t try to knock you upside the head?

1) You were not born a Christian. No matter what your family is or was culturally, you are only a member of a religion once you choose to be. Unfortunately, parents don’t trust their children to think and learn on their own, and the word “indoctrination” should be used for what inevitably follows.

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April 14, 2009  |  christianity, god, my past, religion  |  18 Comments

Missionary Dating

A common Christian teaching is to neither date nor marry someone who is not part of the same religion or denomination as you. The state of being committed to someone of another belief set is usually called “being unequally yoked” (see 2 Cor. 6:14).

When I was a Christian, I dated an agnostic. Even that difference was too great for most of my community to accept. But I was determined to stay involved. Not only was I infatuated with this guy, but I held such a high opinion of myself as to think I could change him. My motives were completely wrong: I wanted him to know Jesus and become a Christian so we could be balanced and “equally yoked.” One could call this “missionary dating.” (Yes I use a lot of “air quotes” at “strange” times because I want you to “read” this post with amusing “inflection. Yuk yuk!)

Anyway, I thought his morality was below my own, and my family felt the same. They doubted his honesty, integrity as a man, and never thought it would last. they had bet against him before they even knew his name. I can now admit I felt much the same, although I thought my views were righteous and loving because I was a spirit-filled Christian! I wanted us to be the same, but never once did I consider becoming similar to him by changing who I was.

I’m ashamed of my ulterior motives now, and I am extremely wary of–and almost completely against–dating a committed, active religious person today. I would not be right for them, and they would probably not be a match for me. I can’t say “never,” but I doubt it would happen. Thankfully, I am currently with a non-theist who, although he does not share my vigor and passionate stance, it is comforting to know that neither of us has to change in order to fit the other.

This is what love should be: loving one another without requirements, without expectations for change, and without ulterior motives.

Post Inspired by Friendly Atheist

Without the Vigil

This is the first Easter I will be spending apart from my family, without going to church, and without any sort of recognition whatsoever. I will miss seeing my relatives and enjoying their company, but I just didn’t want to do the traveling and have to say “no” ten times to invites to multiple masses, a special Saturday night religious ceremony my family has at dinner, and prayer times. To my family, the point of Easter was not chocolate, ham dinners, bunnies, nor eggs. It was always about Jesus’ death and resurrection. We were always very devoted and serious Christians. And easter used to be my favorite church holiday of the whole year.

I was raised semi-Catholic (never confirmed), and always kept one toe in the Roman Catholic pool. I would visit mass with my mother when she invited me, and my favorite service of any denomination was always the annual Easter vigil mass on Saturday nights (which is going on as I type this now). The late-into-the-night, 5-hour-long service was the high-point of my spiritual year. I memorized the songs as a child, knew the rhythm of the readings by the time I was a teen, and loved every single second. When other kids would be bored and restless, I was excited, attentive, and involved. And I wasn’t even Catholic!

There was a magic in the darkness of the sanctuary, a ripple of excitement when the candles were lit, and a thrumming thrill that flooded the entire church when the gospel readings were read, the lights came on, and the ecstatic songs of praise would ring out. I lived for those moments. I felt so at home, so fulfilled spiritually.

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April 11, 2009  |  christianity, my past  |  22 Comments