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?