Tuesday, March 27, 2012

God bless us atheists, one and all

I was going to write Sunday about Saturday's Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., but couldn't build traction since my own atheism these days is confined  to Saturday forenoons and Tuesdays in a conscious effort to avoid the inconvenience of cosmic doubt scattered randomly through the week.

But it was an interesting event, perceived so far as numbers were concerned much as the blindfolded guy experienced the elephant --- it all depended on where you were standing. Some saw 10,000 of the godless, or godless wannabes, others, 30,000.

Some of the usual suspects were there --- Richard Dawkins of "The God Delusion," for example, sounding more than a little like an old-fashioned fundamentalist preacher as he urged the faithful to "ridicule and show contempt" for doctrines and sacraments of the religious whilst reassuring the crowd that he didn't really despise religious people, merely what they stood for. Love the sinner, you know; hate the sin.

Anyhow, it was an interesting and for the most part benign event that borrowed a page from the playbooks of minorities subjected to real ridicule and real persecution --- black folks and the LBGT community, for example. Especially the latter. Atheists should "come out of the closet" seemed to be a popular rallying cry.

One of the big problems for full-time atheists, I figure, is that atheism is far more widespread but far more fluid than either racial misperception or squabbles about sexual orientation. I've never met an honest person of faith, for example, who didn't acknowledge his or her own doubts --- even outright rejection, sometimes for days and sometimes for years at a time, of this God business.

Some come back, others don't --- and that's fine. In a Christian context, some merely follow Jesus without getting tangled up in doctrines and creeds.

It's hard to build a movement, however, when the sand is shifting constantly beneath the feet of those who try, so I'm not sure there's much future in atheism, although I'm glad atheists are out there.

But what if Dawkins --- even Bill Maher --- is a closet Methodist? You just never know; sometimes there's such a thing as protesting too much ....

Other than Saturday forenoons and on Tuesdays, I figure altheists are doing God's work --- holiding up a mirror and offering believers another way to view themselves, perhaps to find ways in the images to mend our ways, too. So God bless us atheists, part-time or full. The threat to faith is not, after all, atheists, but indifference.


This is my birthday; I forget some years --- and that's fine. Fussing make me nervous and I cringed Sunday when called to the front of church for a pre-birthday blessing. The difficulty with parish registers is that they contain incriminating material that can be used against a guy, including birth dates.

But it worked out fine;  blew out the cupcake candle and declared it a positive experience. Spring came early the year I was born, too. Granddad brought a bouquet of violets gathered in the grass to my mother's room at Yocom Hospital.

I happened to see again, over the weekend, what now is a vintage (1989) film called "Longtime Companion," the first widely-relased feature to deal with AIDS. Golly, that was a long time ago; too much came back.

Many years after that bouqet of violets arrived at Yocom Hospital, I was sitting late at night in the courtyard of another and far larger hospital with other refugees from sorrow as my mother lay nearby, dying, and we got to talking about the knives fortune twists in our hearts --- for me Vietnam, AIDS and now this, a procession of deathbeds.

But despite it all, the sun rose, spring rises and so do we. And that's all been a long time ago now.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Happy birthday, Frank. (And watch out for those "closet Methodists.")