Sunday, April 29, 2007

Actually Talking

This weekend I've been visiting my family as I've been house hunting in Virginia. We have found a house we really like, and I'm going to be making an offer tomorrow! The interesting fact? This house used to belong to a Church of the Brethren pastor. They used to hold some of their services and events in the basement. There is an old pew in the basement! How weird! It's a for-sale-by-owner, being sold by the daughter of said pastor (since deceased), and she had specifically kept it off of the listing services so that she could be picky about who buys the house. (we found out by word of mouth) Needless to say, I kept very quiet over being an atheist. This was one of those political closet doors that I didn't mind keeping shut. She sounded like she really wanted to sell us the house, so I would say it was worth it.

Yet, happily, I have really been able to talk about atheism on this trip! My sister, who used to claim agnosticism, turns out to have transitioned into full atheism over the last few years. I'm not certain about her husband, but I suspect he is too. My dad is agnostic, and my mom is pantheistic. We actually had a nice dinner conversation on the problems with religion, and took turns telling and laughing about awful bible stories (Lot's daughters, Jephthah, etc.). I was open to my Mom about writing a blog about atheism, the first person I've talked with about it.

When I was young, I caught an errant tennis ball in my eye. It scratched my cornea a bit and my doctor prescribed three days without opening my eyes to encourage the healing process. So I wore a tight blindfold, and listened to a few books on tape. After three days I ripped off the blindfold, bursting with newfound respect for blind people. I had taken vision for granted for most of my life, but was now truly appreciating it.

That is as close as I can describe the feelings I had while talking about atheism really openly, and in person for the first time since college. It was also the first time I had talked about atheism since striving to become a more educated atheist (familiar with statistics, familiar with more of the bible, familiar with more world religions, etc.). It was refreshing. It just felt great.

I had mentioned before about maybe looking for other atheist groups in the area. Greg and vjack had some good advice, but it is a very conservative area of Virginia so I'm not sure easy it would be to locate atheists. But ... if I did find some people, I would be very tempted to hold some of the groups meetings/events. In the basement. The very same basement that had at one time held church services. Wouldn't that be hilarious?


Ebonmuse said...

Great post, David. Recording your thoughts on the internet is one thing, but I have to agree, the ability to actually talk openly about being an atheist is something else altogether. It's like a breeze of cool air in a hot, musty room. :)

Here's hoping you find many more chances to express yourself. Truth, even in Virginia there may be more atheists than you expect. Who knows - there could be a whole slew of nonbelievers in your area, unknown to each other and all keeping quiet for the same reason! I bet it happens more often than most people think.

And hey - that one pew may yet take its place in a mighty freethought hall some day. :) Good luck with the house!

anti-nonsense said...

we used to have a pew in our basement, no IDEA where that thing came from now. I think my parents actually bought the thing! We used it to hang stuff on mostly and we put a rack underneath it for shoes.

Travis said...

You're right about your sister's husband (me). He is (I am) an atheist.

And that was an incredible discussion. I was worried a bit about my parents being there. I found out a few years ago that my dad is agnostic, but my mom is pretty religious. She tried to teach me the Bible but it never stuck. Remind me to tell you about how I came to be atheist at 8 years old some time. But my mom was OK with the discussion I think. She may fear for our souls more now, but I'm used to that.

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