I have a very dear friend and former lover with whom I exchange occasional emails and from whom I get an occasional "feel-good" forward.  Unfortunately, she just forwarded me something which had the following addendum at the bottom:

"Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil - it has no point." Billy Graham

Sure, the rest of the forward was fine ... but at the same time, she KNOWS I'm an atheist ... and frankly, I think I deserve a touch more respect than what was conveyed with the above quote.

So I wrote her back as follows:

A point of information re your last forward: you had me right until the end:

[the offending quote]

I am an atheist, Connie ... and trust me when I tell you - I HAVE A POINT. As for Mr. Graham, whatever it is that he thinks he has, I have no interest in it.

Just so we're clear.

Maybe this is no way to talk to a friend ... but at the same time, a friend should know enough about the other party to consider issues like this and respect them. On the other hand, it's possible she never noticed the quote, but just forwarded the piece.

It may be that I'm being more up-front and assertive about my atheism. Or ... maybe I'm just being an asshole (though I don't think so). Second opinions are herewith solicited. [Whether I agree with them or not is potentially a different matter.]

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Comment by Earther on July 12, 2012 at 5:26am



Comment by Loren Miller on July 11, 2012 at 10:17pm

I think I've said as much, though perhaps not explicitly.  My friend is NOT clueless, but she IS (apparently) a believer, which is her disadvantage.  I have no desire to condescend to her, but at the same time, I will not compromise myself for her sensibilities.  As I said earlier, the ball is currently in her court.  What happens from this point is purely up to her.

Comment by Earther on July 11, 2012 at 9:23pm

I would simply say I do not wish to be persuaded into a theological arguement so please do not send religious points of interest you have.  I respect your personal beliefs and I would like for you to respect mine.  If you want my opinion on lifes mysteries be upfront and ask directly if i would like to converse the issue before sending points of views.

Comment by Earther on July 10, 2012 at 8:44am

Read my next blog!

Comment by Loren Miller on July 9, 2012 at 8:17am

Allow me to preface my response by stating that she and I have known each other for over 20 years and that religion has never been a contentious issue between us up until this point, indeed, not an issue at all.

It is possible that she forwarded that email to me, not having seen the end of it, as it was a very long email.  It is also possible that she had forgotten that I came out to her as an atheist something over two years ago.  My atheism is not a common topic of conversation between us.  Indeed, the vast majority of our conversations involve the mundanity of our everyday lives.  While she is a strong-willed woman, she has NEVER comported herself as a "hammer-ass."  Considering who I know her to be and our history, I'm willing to cut her a fair amount of slack regarding the email she sent.

As things stand, I'm perfectly willing to treat this incident as an oversight on her part.  However, should there be a similar incident in the future, the playing field will then be changed.  Rest assured, I will respond in an appropriate fashion.

Comment by matthew greenberg on July 9, 2012 at 7:39am

"I respect your point and hope you’ll respect mine"

that's an interesting sentence.  i'm not sure that she does respect yours, as evidenced by her email.  it seems as though it was not an oversight, so her alleged respect for your point has been proved false. 

"I’ll try to be more sensitive in the future"


try?  what's so difficult about simply not being offensive to you in your correspondence?  again, if she wants to respect your POV this should be an automatic.  





Comment by Loren Miller on July 8, 2012 at 4:27pm

And I just got an answer, to wit:

I respect your point and hope you’ll respect mine.  I’m not here debating right and wrong only acknowledging differences.  I’ll try to be more sensitive in the future but if I fail feel free to self-edit.

Just so we’re clear.

Which is fine.  As to the issue of self-editing, no, I don't do that.  I take the messages as they come and react to them as they are.  Where things go from here is purely in her court.

Comment by John Aultman on July 8, 2012 at 12:55pm

She started it Loren whether it was meant as a jab at your atheism or as a form of proselytizing or both, your response was perfect.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 8, 2012 at 8:39am

I'm pretty sure she will, Napoleon.  She and I have a relationship that dates back 20 years and more.  It's had its ups and downs, but I think it can stand this much stress.

It's worth noting, I came out to her as an atheist something over two years ago, when I related to her my Morning Encounter with a quartet of Jehovah's Witnesses.  That I'm an atheist should not be news to her.  That I am less than tolerant of the brand of quote which was part of her last forward to me may be something of a revelation to her.

And Sandi makes a point: there is PLENTY of stuff which has gone the rounds here on A|N which I am certain she would find offensive, and no, I HAVEN'T shared any of that.  If necessary, I will point that out to her.

Again, I think this is reflective of the position of dominance which christians hold in the US, and their failure to recognize that there are other positions out there.  I hope she will recognize that, and I'm pretty sure she will.

Comment by Loren Miller on July 8, 2012 at 7:43am

I think this incident is an indicator of the pervasiveness of religious-themed messages and how innocuous most believers take them to be, never mind how differently WE see them.

While I haven't heard back from her yet, I am HOPING that she takes my rebuttal as something of a wake-up call, perhaps to realize that the "god bless you's" and other suchlike lines which believers toss about are something more than just throwaway lines to other people, such as myself, and that they can have an impact which in some cases is untoward.

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