a reluctant atheist

I'm an atheist who wishes she wasn't. Life would be so much easier!


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Miracles or Fairy Tales?

I don’t usually write about anything so personal, but I just have to vent. My father is terminally ill and the doctor recently told the family that there is no hope that he will ever recover. He said we had to prepare ourselves for the fact that he will pass away in the next few weeks. My sisters and I have known this was coming for a long time. It was obvious to everyone but my mother, who clung to false hope. The doctor’s brutal outline of what the end would be like and how we could minimize his discomfort was just what she needed to hear.

Then the priest showed up. He prayed with my mother. He placed his hands on my father and prayed for a miracle.

man and wheelchairThen he regaled my mother with a personal story of a woman who was declared brain dead and who was in a coma for months, then woke up. He hailed it as a miracle from God. He told her that miracles happen every day. Now my mother doesn’t want to remove him from his respirator or acknowledge that my father is no longer present in the shell of a body he has. He is in constant pain but can’t talk, eat food (he has a feeding tube) or even move his own body.

I wanted to smack that priest right in the face for pedaling false hope to my mother! She was prepared for my father to die until her priest came in with his tales of modern-day miracles. So my mother is praying for a miracle that won’t happen. And then what? She’ll think she didn’t pray hard enough. Or that my father wasn’t a good enough person to deserve a miracle. And when he passes on, she will be devastated all over again!

Miraculous tales of recovery aren’t soothing or inspirational when the patient is terminal or the patient is non-responsive. It is a castle of sand and it will be washed away with my mother’s tears of shock and disappointment. I hate what this priest has done to my mother.

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New occasional series: “So You’re Going on a Mission!”

“Investigators?” Really? They certainly know how to couch their mission goals in interesting but inaccurate terms!’

Question With Boldness

I was at my local library recently, and as I often do I wandered over to see what was on the book sale shelf.  Often it’s just boring stuff, but this time I found this gem, just waiting for me.

So You're Going on a Mission

It’s a book aimed at young Mormon teens, to help them prep for going out on their two year mission.   And it published in, get this, 1968.  NINETEEN SIXTY-EIGHT!  Do I buy it?  It’s only fifty cents, how do I resist?

I don’t think I’m really up for reading this all at one go, or for a full blow-by-blow of every chapter, but I think it would be fun to keep around and every once in awhile tackle a chapter and share a few gems and bits of unrealistic or outdated wisdom.  (It’s not that this blog is specifically targeted at Mormons, I find all religions fairly ridiculous, but…

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The Hypocrisy is All Mine

 

I’ve written in the past about why I’m so impatient with lip service Christians, judgmental Christians and others who profess faith in a loving God but who do lots of things that are antithetical to a loving, accepting existence. But if I am going to criticize others, I have to admit to my own flaws. I’m a hypocrite as well. I pretend to be something I’m not in order to “blend in” with the Christians around me.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t attend church and sings hymns (although I still miss the uplifting music and beautiful songs). I don’t identify myself as a Christian – primarily because in this part of the country, it’s pretty much a given that you are some kind of Christian. If you aren’t, it’s assumed you are Jewish. So I keep my mouth shut and soldier on in my community, keeping my beliefs under wraps.

The real hypocrisy happens primarily on social media. When I’m not writing about my beliefs on this blog, I’m on Facebook to keep track of my grown children and grandchildren, old friends from my hometown, and new friends where I live now. I post nearly every day and I see dozens of posts on my wall every day; many of them are asking me to “Say ‘Amen’ and Share,” or request prayers for loved ones who are sick or going through a difficult time.

7191146 - group of girls and senior woman praying together

When friends bow their heads to pray, do you do the same or do you step away?

I confess that I didn’t know what to do in these instances for the longest time. If I don’t reply with my promise to pray for them, they may feel that I don’t care. It’s obviously not the right time to tell them I don’t believe in God, prayer or angels (why add to their grief?). But sending back a message that says, “I’m praying for you and your family,” seems glib and diminishes their beliefs. It’s not my mission to convert those I love to atheism. If they find peace in their God, who am I to take that away from them? To me, their belief system is harmless until it becomes bigotry or judgment of others.

I’ve tried lots of ways to respond to requests for prayers. “Healing thoughts are headed your way.” “You are in my thoughts.” “Please tell your husband/wife/child/parent that they are loved.”  I’ve never found the ideal response. If I can help in some way, I often say, “Please tell me what you need from me and I will do all I can to help.” Taking action in some way is in some small way my answer to their prayers.

How do you respond to prayer requests? Do you keep your atheism to yourself or take the opportunity to educate true believers in the folly (in your opinion) of their ways? Am I a hypocrite for not revealing my lack of faith to those I know and care about, or am  I preserving my relationships with those I love?