I'm new to the community. Running on little sleep, lots of post-holiday annoyances, and a handful of sodas that should have been diet and caffeine free. Regardless, I stumbled here... took in some great reads and made a handful of replies. I've got a bit of a formal dash to my writing as I'm polishing off the last year of a liberal arts degree. <-- I'm boring, but my story is interesting.
Having come back to my hometown from about 90 miles away, I was glad to see my friends. Of course, we all gathered at one house, took over the basement, and cracked open a few bottles of rum. We thinned out over the night into the core group of 5 that's existed since we were in junior high. That thinned out to three of us... then to one. I savored in the hilarity that I was able to drink and stay up later than my friend from the brewing capital of Wisconsin.
As the two of us sat there, we jumped from old story to old story. We moved up the timescale a bit and got to the last year, which has been incredibly trying for all of us. With everyone else away and asleep, we cut the BS and talked frankly. One of our friends has been dating the same woman for 3 years and has managed to turn him from a holiday Christian to a devout Lutheran. These two are currently applying to a seminary in Tennessee constructed so that it lives by itself in the mountains. What conversations we used to have about theology and experimental physics (a favorite of ours) has turned to discussions of "how God does all this great stuff". I respect him and his choices, but it's a downer to see that happen to someone you used to hang with.
My friend finally came around to the topic he had been hinting at. He prefaced it by saying he was drunk, so I shouldn't be offended if he came off strong (we are in college... that's actually a damn good excuse!). He told me about the last year of his life--the depression, the leaving school to work, and then the lay-off from the factory. Basically, he had a horrible year and was tired of hearing cries to religion from those around him. Our families aren't too devout, but they are timid about the point of religion--all of those around us being Christian and Jewish.
He finally said: "I'm don't believe in anything." He trusted that I was the only one he could tell that too, but was also nervous considering I have been studying religion in the university for the last three years. I reassured him that I was cool with whatever he had to say about religion and admitted to him that I am powerfully agnostic, simply out of my fear for making absolute statements. He took responsibility for the bad moves he had made that had worsened his year, got to get his timidness about being atheist off his chest, and got to complain to a friend about how useless those around him (especially our friend who has gone through such an enormous change towards evangelism) were in trying to rebuild himself. I was glad to be a part of it and we're better Bros now than ever before.
Atheism doesn't mean that people don't care. It means that they've made a decision on priorities. Looking inside, they find lobes, chemical balances, rationality, experience, and... if they look far enough, intestines, which is just gross. I've read a lot in these blogs tonight about the nervousness to admit atheism. But it helps to be vocal and to take a stance, not defensive or rude or violent, but simply powerful enough to demand the respect anyone deserves. My heart goes out to those who cannot make such a pose due to the danger of their community, culture, or government.
PHEW! My wind is gone (perhaps with your attention span) and I'll take it easy on this poor keyboard. But I'm thankful to see this community so strong, honest, and educated about their opinions and feelings. Thought sharing this story would be a good way to introduce myself and to say thanks for having me here. And if it hasn't been said before... this website is damn sexy!