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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First of all i want to say, i think the response you wrote was both to the point and respectful of her..... Your statement that, " I know there's nothing I can say that would make any difference to her." is so on point. Although Christians want to "reach-out" to non believers and try and convert us, they themselves are closed minded to our ideas, and your absolutely right, nothing we say will change their minds......but it sometimes opens the channel for some healthy debate even if we disagree at the end. I'm not saying debate her on the issue, i just meant in general. Have a great day and don't let this weigh to heavy on you, enjoy life "open or out". =)
Well I kept reading it because I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it, I thought of it more as a bad habit of hers to use the word "gay" that way... but yeah I too noticed it and I didn't like it. Next time try not to use the word "gay" in that way, that's all. I feel the same way about various other words like "retarded" but "gay" is worse to me because so many people truly are homophobic and I really do like to stand up for gay rights. Of course nowadays I even try to stop myself from saying "Oh my God" now that I'm an atheist and all that, but it's hard when it's such an ingrained habit in my language LOL.
You know, when I saw your response... I didn't even realize it was directed at me. I was like... did I say "gay"? Yeah... bad habit... picked up in high school and it still gets in there just like "bless you" does or "Thank God". I'll definitely make a more concerted effort to watch what I say.

At the same time, Misty... you could point it out without being so dramatic about it. We all make faux pas now and then and you should know me at least somewhat well enough to know it wasn't a homophobic slur.
While I agree with Misty, I guess I am just more forgiving. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I have not completely broken myself of using the term in that manner on rare occasions. Never in written form, where I have time to think of what I am saying, but slips of the tongue. You'll have to slap me with a wet noodle, too.
I think we've gone WAY overboard on the PC scale. We could literally spend hours nitpicking apart different things that we say until everyone is afraid to say anything in fear of being misunderstood or labeled a bigot, a homophobe, a socialist, or worse than them all a 'liberal'.

While I do think its a good idea to put a conscious effort into cleaning up the language a try and rid it of bias, prejudice, hate, fear, stereotypes... I also think that in our communication with each other we need to attempt to get at the heart of someone's point without letting ourselves be derailed by one particular word. Instruction is good as long as we know the spirit of the commentary is meant to aid our communication instead of take away from it. I think that was Misty's point..... you don't want the entire thrust of your story to get derailed because of a single 'word'.

This has happened to me many times in debates and discussions and its frustating to say the least.

Now on to your younger brother's inlaw.

She doesn't understand that you've already jumped through all her hoops and come up empty and thats why you are in your current position. Doing it again is not going to help the situation. You are already standing behind Oz's curtain and seen the wizard for what he is. There's no going back to the innocence on the other side of the curtain. Once the secret of Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny have been let out of the 'hat'/bag...there's no returning to the other side..even if you wanted to.

How do you convey that to her? How do you convey that concept to someone who's still on the other side of the curtain and refuses to step through it? She still believe's in Oz as a powerful wizard..and has a LOT vested in that idea. She's not going to risk losing her vested interest. She's counting on that for her to speak.

Here's a story idea for Misty.. Christianity/Theism/Supernaturalism as a 401K plan.
The "OZ" correlation is perfect. It isn't a subject you can debate with yourself about anymore. It's not an opinion or a point of view. I don't think anyone leaves the Church without serious internal debate. But once you willing admit it...out loud...the release is the only thing I was ever able to compare to "being born again". I won't tell the whole story now, but it was an amazing night that I will never forget. Nothing, magical...just pure unadulterated honesty. The likes of which I had never had with myself.
I've always noticed the trend that the best followers can also be the most hard-hitting critics
I am still wrapping my head around the idea of placing Obama and Hitler together. Did she truly mean that they similar?
All Christian Conservatives do, and a lot of Repulicans.... yes, because they're both good speakers. It's the quality of being articulate they distrust. Although I think their message of "kill those who oppose" vs "unite all" is diametrically different, but what do I know?
She really said Obama?! I read it as Osama.
Mom and all the 'pubs say Obama is the same as Hitler b/c they're both good speakers. Effin' retarded.
Wasn't Jesus a good speaker as well?


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