My younger brother's mother-in-law just sent me a message on Facebook. Pretty much, we're friends on FB so we can be neighbors on those stupid application games. Yes, I'll be the first to admit I'm an addict. Those games are probably the only real reason I don't delete my account. Anyway, I've probably only exchanged three fragmented sentences in real life with this woman. Not only that, but I barely announce my heathenism on the site; the most I do is quote Betrand Russell with fairly cryptic stuff that doesn't directly criticize religion. I'm more of a subscriber to skepticism than a religion-basher. This is what she wrote:

"Let me be the first to acknowledge that one of the worst things to happen to Christianity are Christians. We have a lot of misguided and
worse, Christians out there. I have seen my share of people who are
legalistic, those who use the label for their own purpose and so on. I
have seen many who call themselves Christians who do not resemble
Christ in the least bit. I hope you do not take offense to this but I
just want to tell you where I come from. I believe that true
Christianity is a relationship with a loving God. Yes there are some
things that I do not fully understand about all of what God does and I
will never know this side of Heaven. I know that He loves all people
even Osama Bin Laden and Hitler. I believe He has given me free will to
choose which path I want to take. I was raised in a very conservative
church that was so off base. They taught the word wrong. I can see why
many walked away. I know you have heard this all before, over and over
again. I know that we all seek the truth to life. I just ask that you
be open to praying to God for 30 days without telling anybody and ask
God with all sincerity to show you the truth. You will have to be
completely open to doing this with all sincerity. If after 30 days you
feel the same way then you can come to a better understanding of what
you believe. I just want you to know though that Jesus does exist even
though many use His name not truly knowing who He is. I hope you will
do this one last time. Have an awesome day!

Sooo... I'm completely caught off guard by this gesture. Did her daughter, my brother's wife, mention my unbelief? Has she peered at my profile to see my Atheist status? Why this sudden "outreach"? I'm also curious if she sent the same message to my older brother. In any case, the only thing I can think to do is not respond. I don't feel like debating my in-laws, however ridiculous I think their beliefs are.

I'm not angry. I know she has good intentions. I understand the mind of a Christian enough to know it probably took some guts to send this... although I'm really not sure why she's concerned herself with me suddenly. I know there's nothing I can say that would make any difference to her. I know she actually doesn't believe that I do not believe there's a god; she thinks I'm just mad at him, or disenchanted with Christians. I know nothing good would come of a response. She asks me to be open, but she would never be open to the possibility there is no god... even less would she believe that I truly don't believe there is.

It's just really strange being on this side of Christianity. There's a huge part of me that resents the fact that this woman, and her daughter, have no idea just how devoted to Jesus I actually was at one point; they have no idea how I got from point A to point B. They merely assume it's because I had a bad experience (there's another discussion here that deals with that very assumption). I have a lot of credibility when it comes to all things Christian! But all of that is completely forgotten the moment I openly admit I don't believe anymore. They must think I'm an idiot... oh you poor fool! 

I know I can't win this discussion, so why engage? 

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Eh, I think that's debatable. I'd love to say yes so I could call Jesus Hitler, but... Jesus' message actually seems pretty mediocre to me... and very ambiguous.
I thought he was legendarily a good speaker though. Not that the Bible accurately recorded all of his speeches but that he was known and loved as a great speaker? Idk.
In reality, that's not something that can be verified. No one wrote about him until at least 70 years, maybe 100 years, after his alleged existence. That's a really, really long time to be able to accurately quote someone without inserting opinion or exaggerating.

In any case, I am unimpressed. I've always been (secretly) unimpressed. I guess when I have all the great speakers throughout history at my fingertips via the internet, I guess that makes me a tough critic.
Yeah well I've never been sure that Jesus actually existed, and if he did what it was that he actually did. My dad was raised Jewish so he never believed in Jesus as God/the son of God or whatever... and he was non-religious (but not truly an atheist yet) all of my life. He told me and my brother, even when we were both technically Catholic (but kinda atheistic even then), that he thought Jesus was a wise man who really did live but then tall tales got written about him. I'm not educated enough about him yet to truly know what to think lol.
For literary sake the Sermon on the Mount is one of the greatest monologues in fiction. I am still amazed that the Christians don't push for the beatitudes to be used in the courthouses as opposed to the 10 commandments. The "deca" make no sense to me. They are vague and 60% meaningless in a day to day world. I think they would have a better case. Though, that doesn't change the argument, but it's better than the bits about worship and other nonsense.

BTW I love Hitchens take on the 10 Commandments:
Why is it the greatest monologue? Because people say it is, or because there's actually something amazing about it? Maybe I'm reading the wrong version of the Bible... King James vs NIV perhaps?

Has anyone ever read The Message? Talk about raping literature. I think that version is proof positive how easy it is to dilute, change, and mangle the Scriptures.
not PC cara
1 : to slow up especially by preventing or hindering advance or accomplishment : impede
2 : to delay academic progress by failure to promote intransitive verb : to undergo retardation
synonyms see: delay

"Pretty effin delayed."

I'm going to call people "delayed" henceforward.
Feel free not to be PC then. I have gay friends and they use the term "gay" like that quite often. I rib them about it, but they give me the "You know exactly what I mean" look.
Sooo because my brother (not the younger one... Caleb Daniel, here on the site) said I should send a response, I am now clicking send on the one I wrote in this thread. I'm really freakin' nervous... and who knows if this is suicide, but here goes nothing. This convo may get a little more interesting!
send her back this.

nothing else just that.
You have to engage, not to convince her, but to show her and everyone else that you are not afraid.

If you look at the tone of the message, it seems to imply that you are blocking yourself. THEY feel Jesus, so if you aren't, it is obviously due to you not being open. As an example for not just them, but others as well, it is best to show these people that their personal experiences are not universal, that people can do EXACTLY what they did and still get nothing.

In a way, I think it shows that you have more "faith" than they do, and "faith" here being said in the positive. Not the blind faith that many Christians have . . but faith as in confidence. Sure, I'll engage with you, I have nothing to fear from you, I have no reason to think that what you have will compromise my beliefs.

See it is the theist who often lacks true faith. The only kind they know of is blind faith, if they had the same "faith" that we have in our family and friends, they'd be willing to question everything.

So go ahead and question your beliefs, and then see what she does when everything she suggests fails miserably.


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