Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Trouble with Theists

The holiday season can be a trying time for atheists. Jesus is in your face constantly. Even in my little town the one and only billboard proudly displays the message that we should, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” That nonsense is paid for by our local catholic church and partners.
Some of the local businesses proudly display on their signs, “God Bless,” like the thought is in some way comforting. Going inside the local merchants’ place of business can exhaust one’s patience with all the references to the ugly dreams of men. I’m sure most of us have wondered how such good cheer can come from such badly written horror stories.
But we go our ways, smiling. It is the season. It is hard to ignore the goodwill that is expressed during this time of year, especially if you close your eyes to the commercial aspects of the holiday. As long as you can ignore that part of the holiday, and stay out of stores where patrons are pepper spraying each other, (in a loving Christian way), the goodwill of the season is hard to ignore.
Year after year though, I join the throngs of humanity that smile; socializing and eating our way through the end of the year. The visits with family and friends where that frozen smile is the only usable armor against the foolishness. It does get rather tedious. I, like probably many atheists, get so sick of the hypocrisy that I yearn to become the local hermit.
Then it happens. A phone call from young acquaintance who says she’s coming over. She knows that Jo and I are getting ready to entertain and wants to come over and help. Doesn’t take no for an answer and in minutes she shows up with another of our newly made friends from our small town. Now in all honesty, they had been indulging in a little holiday cheer, so were slightly happy. We all live within walking distance of each other so not much of a threat to the streets. So now I have two energetic cute young ladies in my house cleaning; cool.
One of the young ones is a smoker. She goes out for one, and I keep her company on the porch. She’s talking about how she has been resisting her urges to misbehave for the last couple of weeks and says “amen.” Not once but several times while urging me to join her. She is aware that I’m not religious in any manner, and I gently remind her again. But she is so happy to have been behaving that she keeps it up. Her loveliness even gets an “A” out of me before I catch myself. It does make me chuckle.
The evening goes along, we clean and decorate and they leave without any more talk that stinks of religion, so I can’t really complain that much. It was fun.
The next day is the party, one of three that I’m having in my home this year. This one is with the neighbors. It is a fun event, everyone behaving. After dinner, and after the empty wine bottles start piling up, the conversation turns to what some of my neighbors still have to accomplish before the holiday. One starts talking about a toy that she had picked up for her granddaughter. She talks about how hard it was to find, but thank god that she did finally get her hands on the Chinese made crap she wanted and thank god it was the right color; on and on. I can feel my eyes glaze over and my friendly wine buzz turning into more of a roadhouse ass kicking emotion, when the nice lady gives me three packages of goodies for the road when I head south. Damn her.
That is the trouble with theists. Most of them are nice people, making their way through life as best they can. It is how religion is still able to maintain a grip on the world. The people that have been brainwashed are in so many ways just plain good. That goodness does not come from the religion; it comes from humans being human.
So, for a few weeks, I will try to remember that theists are not the problem as much as the institution is the problem. That I need to stay focused on those whose goal is to spread the disease so they can retain or gain power. Weeks of not berating the foolish for being foolish.
Well, at least for a short time, then all bets are off.

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