Posts Tagged ‘atheism’

Eve’s First Day In Church

November 15, 2010

We attended the baptism of my friend’s son today. None of us were particularly enthusiastic about going, but it seemed to be really important to my friend (which surprised me, considering the fact that he’s an avowed agnostic).

The last time I was attended church was a Midnight Mass some four or five years ago*. My family was never Catholic, but my brother and I both attended Catholic school until college, so that’s the kind of church that I’m most familiar with.

This Catholic church was unlike any other that I had ever attended. Unlike the churches of my youth, which were predominantly white, this one had an entirely black choir and a 99% black congregation. The priest was white, but he was very much in the minority. There was one mural depicting a black Jesus as well as another one depicting a black Mary and Joseph holding a little brown baby. There were two different sets of the stations of the cross on the walls; one that had obviously been a part of the original architecture (white Jesus) and one that looked much newer (black Jesus). The stained glass windows all featured nothing but white saints and Jesuses and children.

It was pretty cool, actually, to be in a church with a fair representation of other-than-white religious figures. The vast majority of churches I have been in, including the ones with predominantly black congregations, only feature white Jesuses. It was a nice change.

Eve was about as well-behaved as a toddler can be in a room full of loud energetic strangers. I nursed her and she did everything she could to expose my entire breast to the whole church. She babbled loudly and asked for more cheerios (too bad we didn’t have any). She accidentally hit a stranger while flailing around in my brother’s arms. She did wonderfully, I think.

It being a baptism, the homily was about the responsibility of parents to raise their children to know God. I only half-listened, and did what I always do in church – marvel at the architecture. I tried not to think about what the people around me would say if they knew that Marcus and I were non-believers, and that were raising our daughter as one too.

All in all, it was an all right way to spend an early Sunday afternoon. The possibility of regularly attending a Unitarian Universalist church crossed my mind again; I do really love the community aspect of church attendance, even if I disagree vehemently with the dogma. I’m very much still building a village for my child, and even as an atheist I haven’t ruled out the possibility of adding the right congregation to that village.

*Edited to add: I just realized that the last time was actually when I was heavily pregnant with Eve; I attended my friend’s wedding, which was fascinating to me as I’d never seen a Catholic wedding service.

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A Bit of Rambling On Faith and Family

May 13, 2010

One of the many differences between my husband’s family and my family is that Marcus’ folks are church people. SERIOUS church people. They attend church every Sunday (and possibly more frequently than that), pray before meals, listen to sermons in the car, have shelves of books in their house all about Jesus and being a good Christian couple, etc.

My parents believe in God, but except for a yearlong stint during my childhood, our family only attended church for Easter, Christmas, and funerals. I remember having to spend one Halloween weekend on a children’s Bible retreat (the timing was not coincidental, as the church we attended was one of the many who consider Halloween a time of evil) and I, being awkward and friendless, tried to do all I could to fit in. Which meant that once during a prayer, while all of the other kids were hollering and sobbing about Jesus, I sat and thought about my beloved dog Coco who had died a couple of years earlier until I was brought to tears as well (of course I pretended that it was about Jesus). It’s not that I didn’t believe in God (back then). I just didn’t believe in him so damn hard, especially not compared to those other kids.

Fast forward to the present. My parents don’t attend church ever, even for holidays, although they are still Christians. I’m an atheist, my brother is an agnostic, and my sister (who was raised in a different household from us) is a Christian but probably the Easter-Christmas type.

On the other hand, there’s my husband’s family. Marcus was raised in an evangelical household in which he was taught that Halloween is for devil worshipers and sadists, that homosexuality is a perversion, and that sex before marriage is an affront to God. You actually wouldn’t know just by speaking to his parents that they believe all these things; in fact, the only reason I know is because Marcus has told me about his childhood and, most recently, about the conversations that his father has with him when I’m not in the room.

While we were visiting the family last weekend, his mother and aunt were talking about a family friend who is apparently not a Christian or just not their kind of Christian (which, for them, there is little difference between the two). They were talking about how best to bring him around, and I couldn’t help but wonder as I sat there if they had ever had this discussion over me. They all know that I’m an atheist because (and this is gonna sound stupid, but it’s true) his mother saw it on my Facebook profile.

Eve is still very young, so the religious pressure has been very low. Right before she was born we received a story book about Abraham that went straight to Goodwill; when she was a few weeks old, the preacher who lives next door to my parents tried to convince us to attend his church, which we politely declined; and one of my coworkers asked me last week when Eve was going to have her Christening, to which I replied, “What’s a Christening?”

As she ages, though, I expect things to get stickier. Someday she’s going to ask why my parents lower their heads before every meal – something that I have no problem explaining to her, but I don’t know how well it’s gonna go over if she repeats my explanation to my folks. Someday she’s going to wonder if what someone told her was true: that we’re all going to hell because we don’t go to church or don’t believe in God. I won’t hesitate to tell her that there is no hell, but I’m afraid that my parents (or, more likely, my in-laws) are going to take her to the side when I’m not in the room and try to scare her into believing otherwise.

Most of the faith that I have ever had throughout my life was really just fear at its core. I was afraid to die, to go to hell, or to be the odd one out amongst a sea of believers. I wanted desperately to believe because there was something that I wanted to gain from believing. I don’t want that for Eve. If she ever chooses to believe some sort of faith system, so be it, but as long as I have anything to say about it, it’s not going to be because someone else frightened her into it.

Uppity

April 22, 2010

Hey, ya’ll. Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is August, and I’m uppity. I didn’t always used to be uppity; in fact, I used to be entirely too shy to even stand quietly in the same room as Uppity. Fortunately, that all began to change some years ago, and as time passes and I learn more and do more and trust myself more, I’ve found myself growing more and more agitated with the world as I know it and less fearful of my peers and authorities.

I’m angrier. I’m meaner. I’m more awake and aware than I’ve ever been in my life. And so I became uppity, although not nearly as uppity as I would like to be someday. I’m a work in progress.

The birth of my child is the catalyst for this blog. She is the reason that I aspire to be uppity, to be loud, and to be a thorn in the sides of those who would rather not hear her, hear us. Her voice is small and her hands are tiny. Fortunately, mine aren’t. So I aspire to do the work that her hands can’t grasp and make the sounds that her mouth can’t articulate.

My old blog, How To Be A Pregnant Lady, is dead* and gone. I censored myself a lot over there, because not rocking the boat used to matter quite a bit to me, even cloaked as I was in semi-anonymity. But the birth of my little one means that I have to change that. I have to force myself to say those things that may make others uncomfortable; I do this in the hopes that she will not have to do the same.

This blog isn’t going to be all heavy stuff like anti-racism and such. I’m also going to use it to talk about life, about cooking, about gardening (if I ever get around to it this year), about whatever comes to mind. And of course, about Eve. Because she is the reason I decided to start writing again in the first place.

Hopefully this is the start of something beautiful.

*It still lives at howtobeapregnantlady.blogspot.com. I used to have a direct domain (howtobeapregnantlady dot com) but I let it expire, and a porn site took it over just a week or two later. No, seriously. If you leave the “.blogspot” out of the address, you are going to see some hardcore pregnant porn. Just a warning!