Monday, June 29, 2009

Trying to have fun with near Family. Christ, Christ, let me be!

I love my partner. I'm also fond of the partner's family. They're generous, caring, relatively open-minded, compassionate, and generally a good time. That is, until it's time for the prayer.

I vacationed, at the lake, with nine members (including me) of the partner's family last week. This is only a sliver of the potential crowd of familial Christians that could be had at a get together involving the partner's family. Or, my family for that matter. The makeup of the vacation house consisted of seven devout Christians and two atheists. The atheists were silently represented by the partner and myself. You see, the family still is under the impression that the partner is practicing, and although they know I don't adhere to their denominational idiosyncratic beliefs, I don't think they're on to the fact I'm a "heathen." Strangely enough I've noticed the word heathen is being thrown around rather loosely these days by members of the partner's family. But, I think that is more chance than anything. They have no reason to suspect I'm a "militant atheist," as my former therapist believes.

I've had this discussion with my own family. The pops and I have agreed to disagree, and although it kills him (the former therapist weighed in on this one, too - said my Dad was worried he was going to lose me in the next life - I responded with, "well, that maybe so, but the truth is he's losing me now, and that's all any of us are promised - even the devout"), he avoids commenting, which makes life a lot easier and the reality that my father's beliefs have absolutely no evidence-based feet to stand on less, well, noticeable. We can discuss the weather and our lives and avoid the tension god and his cronies are causing us. My mother and siblings agree in varying degrees with my own stance on god. We can all talk about it and come to some understanding, whether that means Christian indoctrination is in many instances abusive or god is a perilous pipe dream. It's civil. We've all invested some time in asking tough questions about the unanswerables associated with faith. And, we're comfortable with the large void there. Instead, we've filled it with Skittles, science, compassion for our fellow humans, curry, and any product Apple pushes on us. We love you, Steve Jobs. If you need a kidney, let us know.

Okay, so back to the vacation and the partner's family. Springing my atheism or that of my partner's on the unsuspecting family isn't something I'm terribly excited about doing. I think some people are to a point in their lives where turning their backs on a god they perceive to be benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, and fatherly to be a battle I'm, unfortunately, not yet fit to wage even as a militant. I would never avoid direct questioning, but I have no plans of unsolicited evangelizing directed at people I see as inherently good, tolerant, relatively flexible folks (yeah, if I have a chance at alliteration I'm taking it 100% of the time). Even if I don't think Christianity collectively is a global positive for our world, I can admit many Christians are.

Still, I am extremely uncomfortable around the time of each and every meal. "Who's turn is it to pray?" One will say. I'm suppose to be the ninth in that line, and I don't want to make a scene, so I just lay low and wait for any name other than my own to be called. Don't say Bennington, I think. As long as I don't hear my name called I'm fair. Yes, after there are repeat prayers it gets awkward. We all know Ben hasn't had his turn. But, the last time I said the prayer, I made no mention of god or jesus or anything. I only want to thank tangible aspects of the meal before us: the farmers, the migrant workers, the truck drivers, the stockers at the grocer, Peter Durand, the inventor of the tin can, the cooks (us), et cetera. Sure, I want the meal to be nurishing, who doesn't? But, I sure as hell don't think god or this ritual itself is powerful enough to combat Botulism. I find the whole tradition to be a monumental waste of time. Giving thanks is an honorable thing - no argument - but the dude upstairs didn't do anything to make this watermelon more flavorful or seedless, thanks.

One last thing: Why does google automatically capitalize the word god in the labels. That bothers me a bit, blogger. If you're going to autocorrect god then autocorrect Steve Jobs, too. The man is a fucking genius!

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