I quick thought on keeping your opinions to yourself. I'm switching locations at work starting Monday (it happens a lot). Before I left yesterday, a co-worker I have become friends with came into my office and shut the door. EVERYONE knows I'm an atheist (I'm as "out" as I can be). During my time knowing her, she has asked me more questions about the "A" word than anyone I've ever met. I now understand why. She was raised Catholic and has been a "believer" her entire life. Ten years ago, she gave birth to twins...a boy and a girl. I didn't know she had twins. I had only met her son. I never met her daughter because she died when she was just three weeks old. For ten years this very kind person has cried every night, worried that her child would be in "limbo" instead of in heaven (she didn't get the memo that the Catholic Church "changed their mind" on this some time ago...her family and fellow church members frequently tell her they are "praying" her baby makes it out of limbo...ugh!). For the past year we've had many talks about what I do and don't believe. Mostly, she just asked questions and listened to me ramble. I assumed she didn't say much because I have a big mouth...but it was more than that. I had given her a few books to read also (Hitchens' "God is not Great" and more recently Penn's book). I took a few "friendly" jabs at her religion, but never at her as a person. She came into my office yesterday to tell me about her daughter. She also told me that she no longer cries at night worrying about "limbo" and that she now considers herself an atheist (want to guess who was crying then? HINT...not her). I share this not because I "converted" her and want to gloat. I share it because through kind and honest conversation, one person I know and have come to care about feels a little less pain in her life. It's also why I don't "keep it to myself".

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Comment by Kris King on October 10, 2011 at 5:20pm
I agree - your grandparents sound pretty sweet ...
Comment by Steph S. on October 10, 2011 at 4:54pm
"We believe different things...we love you regardless."
That's a great attitude! It's so sweet of them to have unconditional love for you! You have some great grandparents there!
Comment by Joe Swam on October 10, 2011 at 3:39pm
Kris, I love that your Dad leaves a message in each book that he gives you. That's great! My grandparents (Christians) bought me both "The God Delusion" and "God is not Great" for Christmas one year. They wrote, "Love, Granny and Pop" inside of each. They were also the one's who gave me the "Children's Illustrated Bible" in third grade. When I read it in fourth grade...I no longer believed in god (I didn't know what atheist meant yet...only that I didn't believe in god). I once asked them if they regretted giving me the book that returned me to atheism (since of course, we're all born atheist). "Of course not", they replied..without hesitation. "We believe different things...we love you regardless." MAN!!!...I love them too.
Comment by Kris King on October 10, 2011 at 6:14am
All I have to do now is try and repay my dad's favour by writing a version of The God Delusion that he can read all the way through without getting a headache or stopping to look words up in a dictionary :)
Comment by Kris King on October 10, 2011 at 6:14am

That's pretty damn wonderful Joe ... nice one.  Never keep it to yourself ... my dad bought me my copy of "The God Delusion" for christmas one year (that rocks in and of itself) and, as he always does when he buys books for people, he wrote a personal message on the inside first page.  It was his favourite line that he'd read so far, and my favourite thing that he's ever written in any book he's bought for me ...

To Kris: "Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about".  Merry christmas, love Dad

It means a lot to me that he picked that line, because it's one of my favourites too.  We shouldn't ever keep it to ourselves, we shouldn't have to apologise ... we don't have to be assholes, true, but I think that we have a lot to give people and shouldn't be afraid to try.

Fab stuff, Joe, really ...

Comment by Steph S. on October 9, 2011 at 2:18pm
That's nice Joe. Ambassador for Atheism.
Comment by MCT on October 8, 2011 at 1:05pm
Nice. I don't keep it to myself either. I work in a hospital with people constantly overhearing each others' conversations. I often rant about the negative consequences psychologically of faith or irrationality, not just for the person I am talking to but also for those that are in ear-shot and happen to be paying attention (which is often the case). I think more and more people should openly praise rationality and describe what mysticism actually is and what it implies philosophically for society is good in as much as the people in it use reason and logic as a basis for knowledge instead of feelings. Many people out there really just don't know about how stupid their ideas are and until they see that they don't have to accept bad ideas just because they or their parents always have, they will keep passing around the idea that faith is good.
Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on October 8, 2011 at 12:59pm
I'm so glad you were able to help this poor woman.  I don't think even most xtains totally buy the whole angels and harps thing.


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