"I did try to evangelize several relatives, one aunt in particular, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) that didn’t go so well."
"Evangelizing my peers in college didn’t go so well either"
I was a good evangelizer, many of my students, children, and adults became christian and made a commitment to follow Jesus and trust god.
I'm not proud of my success! Christianity didn't work well for me, I was promised "The Fruits of the Spirit" and I felt like a homemaking, love making slave. Why wasn't I experiencing the good stuff? Questions! Doubt! Anger! Fear! Examine! Explore! Experiment! Religion didn't work for me because of the many fallacies of its teachings, they do not lead to mentally healthy, mature, adult functioning!
Would astrology help? No, it was woo-woo. Too much like religion.
Would Buddhism help? Yes, in a way it gave me some tools to handle stress but it didn't end the stress.
Would education help? A little, at first, more as I discussed ideas with other people, absolutely as I learned about biology, chemistry, paleontology, geology, and evolution! Life on Earth began to make sense to me and the teachings of the church made no sense to me at all. Voilà!
The author of this piece did the same thing, she was an active evangelical, she learned enough science to be dangerous to her beliefs and faith, and she became an atheist. She fooled around with clothes and hairdos more than I did, but the outcome was the same. Atheism frees the mind to think, make connections, question, and to be skeptical. From that activity and the emotional release it provided opened a better quality of life for me and for my children.
Christianity is all that and a bowl of chips ... except that there's no bowl, no chips, and no "all that" ... once you go past the superficial appearances they offer.
Thanks, Loren, you too, write evocative prose.
Daniel, excellent description of the failure of belief in supernatural god. You write powerfully!
Kathy, I can imagine your experiences and share your thinking. Realizing belief in superhuman power can harm one in many different ways. I wonder what it would be like to sit down with your son-in-law for a private chat? He may be having some doubts; mumbling a meal prayer may be a sign of grudging obedience to a fallacy.
I had such a private discussion with my s-i-l and he revealed he was a non-believer. My daughter continues to hold superstitious ideas.
I agree with Loren and Daniel. There comes a time when we see through the veil. That happened to me after years of studying the bible. There is no way back. I cannot stand the lies and nonsense any longer. I could never go back and just pretend. Religion is a crutch.
I believe that anyone who is intelligent and does not fear their peers will eventually come to this conclusion.
Unfortunately, that time never comes for many; seeing through the veil doesn't occur.
Our son was raised moderate protestant -- go on Sunday, short prayers before meals, little more.
But an evangelical youth leader wormed his way into the Presbyterian youth group and tried to push them deeper. Our son was the only one who fell for it.
After college he moved to Texas for a job, and found intense religion. He's now a young earth creationist, married a woman in the church, raised their daughters and now their granddaughter in that belief.
Will any of them ever escape?
In Texas? Doesn't seem likely to me.
I feel your sorrow, Jerry. If it is any comfort to you, I was a full-fledged born-again christian living in central Texas when I felt smothered and left Texas, religion, and my husband.
We, my three children and I, created new celebrations to replace the ones we lost when we left. They were only 10-years old at the time and I thought we should have some fun things to look toward throughout the year. We celebrated seed planting time (to replace Easter) and Yule (to replace Christmas).
My children are 53 years old now and we still have a Spring Equinox celebration with a big dinner and treasure hunt and celebrate Winter Solstice with a log burning at the fire pit in the snow to mark the shortest day of the year. My great-grandchildren look forward to these festivities.
My hunch is that if you have fun, using whatever device you want to mark the passing of time, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will notice the fun you have and want to be a part of it. They may also have questions for you and you can be honest about your beliefs.