Wednesday, January 9, 2008

For who knows what is good for a man, in these few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow...

I had dinner with my family last night. I have a younger brother and an older sister. The sister is married, has 3 kids. The brother is not, has 1.

My mom and dad are both Catholic, and being Catholic in America is a strange thing. I know Catholics who are very faithful, go to church constantly and whose homes look like some religious Pier1 Imports knockoff got sick and vomited trinkets everywhere. But, for most of them, belief is a default. They believed as a child because their parents did, and their kids believed as a child because their parents did. They go to church because they are supposed to. They pray when they are supposed to. I mean, we have days that are frackin' called Holy Days of Obligation.

When my sister got married, her and her husband left the Church (Catholics typically call their church the Church with a capital C). Not to be atheists, but to go to a very peculiar non-denominational protestant sect. The kind of church that encourages reading the Bible. This caused much hubbub.

This is not something the Church typically does. It's amazing how much of the Catholic population hasn't read its foundational document. We have devotionals and rosaries, scapulars, rites and rituals. But, we don't have enough knowledge of our faith. Suffice it to say, when I started reading the Bible as a child, it raised eyebrows amongst my family. I can assure you though, I was doing it to strengthen my faith.

I'm writing this entry because dinner with my family really made me think. What did I think about, asks the inquisitive reader? Well, I thought about how grateful I am for the parents I have and wonder and how shocked they would be to know how helpful they were on my path to deconversion. They don't know about my atheism. They know I don't go to Church anymore, but my mom believes that I don't go because I'm into dudes. This is where I insert the cliched Seinfeldism, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." I'm just a nerd without a girlfriend. Reasoning your way out of religion is a concept they could not imagine because, in my family, being religious is just what people do.

Back to the story at hand. How did they help? By staying the hell out of my way and getting me an adult library card.

You see, in my family I was the smart one. I was the bookworm. I was the honor roll kid. But, I was also the kid who was going to be a priest. I still get asked that today. I'm 27. Get over it. Not gonna do it. So, when I read the Bible, it was unusual but not entirely unexpected. When I found the religion section of the library and brought home the Koran, Dianetics and the Apocryhpa, they never questioned me on it. They gave me funny looks when I brought home books on Wicca and Anton LaVey, but never questioned me on it. They backed the hell off. They didn't barrage me with apologetics when I questioned Abraham's actions or Noah's Flood.

So, I want to thank them for that. I want to thank all parents who raise rational kids. I want to thank the public library and books. Parents need to encourage this and foster it and love their kids regardless. Now, if I could only grow some balls and tell them why I don't go to Church!

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