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The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Life as a Poster Child for Heretics December 11, 2010

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 11:24 AM
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Let me tell you, it’s not fun. I kept the whole ‘atheist’ thing in the dark until ninth grade, when I finally thought my classmates were accepting enough to handle it. Well, not everyone, but mostly. Our school speaks thirty-seven languages, and I swear it feels like half my friends are lesbian or bi. It’s a melting pot. Why couldn’t they accept me?

At first, things were tough. When I finally replied, “No, I’m not religious. I don’t think there’s a real higher power out there,” in my physics class, one religious male (I seem to run into a lot of those, for some reason) commented scathingly, “That must be a really sad way to live.”

No, I thought. It’s really not. But I didn’t say anything. Because I was already understanding that this was what I was up against. I was a white, upper middle class teenage girl. I’d never been part of a minority before, not really. Now, though… it sucked.

Probably the worst moment was at a sleepover, roughly a year ago, with some of my friends and I. Somehow, the topic turned to religion. One of my friends was a devout Baptist. Here’s our conversation, as well as I can remember it.

“So tell me,” I asked, “is Gandhi going to Hell?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” she replied.

Whatever section of the Baptist branch she belonged too, it sure was harsh. Poor Gandhi. I thought, and then asked a question I would come to regret. “Do you think I’m going to Hell?”

I was hoping, however foolishly, that she would consider it. That it would be a lot harder to condemn someone she knew, someone who’d sat next to her on school trips, chatted about silly hobbies in study hall, and commiserated about love lives, to an eternity of suffering in fire. But I guess, at the time, it wasn’t.

“You are,” she said. To give her credit, she didn’t sound too happy about it.

I looked away, feeling the same kind of pain I still feel remembering this now. The pain anyone feels when they realize that even the people they know think they’re doomed. Like the gay boy I talked to who admitted, “My grandmother tells me, ‘I love you, but you’re going to burn in hell.'” Or the Wiccan who’s been called Satanic by her own family. “Do you think I deserve it?” I asked.

No one answered.

Even now, that memory is still painful. But on the bright side, that friend has been changing. Even a few months ago, she admitted that she no longer believes that everything in the Bible is strictly true. I can’t say how much of that is because of education, or just her own thought processes, but I hope that I had some hand in it. Because, as it turns out, it is a lot harder to condemn someone you know. The stereotype of the heathen, immoral, baby eating atheist doesn’t hold up to real life.

As an atheist, I don’t need to go door to door to win converts. I don’t even want converts. I just want acceptance. And really, to get acceptance all I have to do is be there, to prove everyone else wrong.

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Thanks for Your Blanket Judgement on My Life November 22, 2010

Filed under: Religion — katblogger @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , , ,

Ah, being an atheist is such fun.

This particular drama started in school on Friday, three minutes before the bell. I was joking with a guy about the fact that marriage in America seems to be unstable – almost half of married couples divorce. Another guy – from now on I shall refer to him as Jesus Freak #1 – butted it. “Marriage is failing,” he informed me, “because America is a godless country.”

Before I could reply, another girl interrupted, “You did not just say that. Are you saying that if America was a… godful country, we would have better marriage rates?”

“The basis for a good relationship,” Jesus Freak #1 maintained, “is a good relationship with God.”

“I can’t believe you really just said that,” I said.

“That’s a typical response from you, Kat,” he replied, in his typical holier-than-thou voice.

Trust me, things would have gotten nasty if the bell hadn’t rung. But for the rest of the day, I couldn’t get this conversation out of my head. It was just so ridiculous. So in case I never get a chance to say this to your face, Jesus Freak #1, here’s my atypical response, besides loaning him this book, which he sorely needs.

                                                                           amazon.com

First, do you have any idea how arrogant you sound? What gives you the right to define a good relationship, and what causes one? You’re like, seventeen. I seriously doubt you know everything about life.

Second, you do realize you’re talking to a human being, right? A human being with thoughts and feelings, not just some stupid ideal of the godless heathen. Although, honestly, I’m better behaved than you. I don’t presume to judge other people’s relationships.

Third, my relationships are perfectly fine, thank you very much. Should I just go and tell my friends and family, “Whoops, I’m an atheist. I might as well cut all my ties, curl up in a hole and die, huh? After all, Jesus Freak #1 told me I don’t have the basis for a good relationship.”

Finally, I almost feel sorry for you. Because whatever world you live in, it’s definitely not reality. And it’s true that there are lots of great Christians out there, which give me hope when people like you try to drag the entire religion down into the dust. However, there are also lots of great people out there who are not Christians. But I guess you’ll never really get to know them, because, you know, they can’t form strong relationships.

 

The Greatest Tragedy? September 11, 2010

Filed under: In the News — katblogger @ 7:07 PM
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Picture: prisonplanet.com

I remember 9/11 with especial clarity because it was the day I came home on the wrong bus. The teachers were upset, we were confused, and perplexed 2nd grader that I was, I sat in the wrong line.

My mother, as any other self respecting parent would have, must have decided that the terrorists had made a special visit to the elementary school to pick up her daughter. By the time I returned home safe and sound – conveniently the driver had once done my route and knew where I lived – she was probably distraught. It was only then that I saw on TV the now iconic image of the two towers crashing down.

For days afterwards, we’d turn on the radio and hear about the towers. Exasperated, not understanding, I asked, “Are they going to talk about this for weeks?”

My mother shook her head. “They’re going to be talking about this for years.”

And so they have, and so they are. For better or for worse, my childhood has been spent growing up in a predominantly post 9/11 world. I listen, I think, and still the perplexed child in me tries to understand.

9/11 was monumental because it showed Americans that we’re not safe, even within our own borders. We saw the first example of this new kind of terrorism, which would become a very real menace. But when I hear 9/11 called the ‘greatest American tragedy’, I can’t always agree.

Tragedies can go many ways. There’s the simple numbers of the death toll. The Civil War has been the war that cost the highest in terms of American lives, and worse, it turned families and friends against each other. Perhaps it was necessary to bring slavery and secession to an end, but I wish it could have been settled peacefully…

Then there are the tragedies where the US strays from the vision it has sworn to uphold. For example, when Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps during WWII simply because of their race.

And  now, 9/11 is on the verge of fulfilling both sides. Roughly 3000 people died when the towers fell. I don’t mean to demean these deaths. Those people did not deserve to die. Their crime: being born in a country that terrorists didn’t like. If I believed in hallowed ground, that site would be sacred not to some god, but to the individuals of all faiths who died because of a war that wasn’t even theirs. It is now, though.

In the aftermath, especially recently, there’s been an upswing in irrational Islamophobia. This is a serious disconnect. A whole religion did not fly those planes. And yet… we are afraid. Of Muslims, of ‘other’, of everything. Airport security gets more complicated. We become less trustful. If terrorist’s aim is to actually spread terror, as their name implies, they are succeeding.

America has always prided herself on her freedoms. This is why we consider ourselves different from some other nations, that guarantee far less. Now attacks have caused us to turn our backs on what we defend. Demonizing all members of a religion for the actions of a few is eerily parallel – though thankfully not as bad, yet – as killing innocents because you disagree with their government. And that’s why 9/11 may be the greatest tragedy after all.

 

Mosque Ado About Nothing July 20, 2010

Filed under: In the News,Politics,Religion — katblogger @ 1:13 PM
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www.jafariyanews.com/2k5_news/may/15michigan_…

Apparently there’s a mosque being built near Ground Zero. Big deal. Wait, not just a mosque, a community center. It’ll have sports, a swimming pool, and yes… prayer areas. So what?

Apparently, some people think every Muslim, even those that are American citizens, are likely to start destroying buildings and killing people if we let them ‘win’. And apparently, their victory hinges on a community center. How strange.

I think the argument is something like, Radical Muslims crashed into the Twin Towers. Therefore, we will try to oppress innocent non-radical Muslims even more by preventing them from building anything nearby. Some see it as a slap in the face. I see it as a good business strategy. That community center is going to get lots of customers… assuming some radical Christian doesn’t torch it once it’s built, that is.

If we are going to say that a religion can’t build any house of worship – or community center – next to an area they’ve damaged or destroyed, non-Muslims are going to run into problems too. We can’t build churches by sites where abortion facilities were bombed by Christian terrorists. We also can’t have churches by homes that had a cross burned in their yards by the KKK. And we definitely can’t have any holy buildings of any faith by schools. That’s a scene of religion-induced mass destruction if I’ve ever seen one.”But wait,” people cry. “Surely the KKK and abortion bombers were extremist Christians. Most Christians would never do anything like that.”

My response? “Look around. Look at your coworkers, your classmates, your friends, your family. Someone in there is probably Muslim. Do you see them crashing planes into buildings? No. Why not? Because the group that does that is a radical terrorist group. It’s not the norm.”

And seriously, a community center? Get a grip, people.