My earliest memory of church is not a terrible one, necessarily, as there was no physical or sexual abuse, no momentous 'aha!' moment.. no bells and whistles.. nothing worthy of a book writing.. but rather a simple question, on my part, whilst gluing a little paper 'Noah' to a small lunch bag, and the unsavory answer I was given. "Why were there no dinosaurs on the ark?", I'd asked. Whereas the sunday school teacher was well intentioned, her response was the absolute most stupifying morsel of bullshit I'd ever heard in my 6 years of life. "Melissa, thats not your question, thats the devil's question". Now, I should mention, at this point, that I was never a believer. Church was something I was forced into, by my father, who made us go with his mother every Sunday. His angle was, frankly, the fact that he didn't want to listen to her shit about it. My twin sister and I were good little girls and we wanted life to be easy for our parents.. so church on Sunday mornings became an odious chore for which we dutifully endured through the better of 12 years. But I digress...
After being told that my question was the devil's question, I briefly worried that she would tell my grandmother, but then the appeal of playing with my sunday school friends and my new glittery, paint smeared noah puppet erased the thought from my mind. UNTIL the following Saturday when my sister and I spent the night with grandmama and granddaddy. We did this on occasion. Shortly after supper, the doorbell rang and it was our preacher. He'd come to witness to us and talk with us about the question I'd asked our sunday school teacher. To be honest, I was excited. Maybe I'd get my answer and I could get on with this Jesus-Save-My-Soul thing like everybody else. But I was given no answer. It was mostly him comforting my grandmother as she cried; worried sick about my poor soul. I was a compassionate child.. and seeing her cry was enough, in my book, to justify my greatest dramatic acheivement. My first of many deceptive acts; born of the desire to make those I love less toubled. I plausibly executed the the ruse of "Accepting Jesus Christ as My Personal Lord and Savior".
My sister and I were baptised the following morning, in front of my grandmother and all of her brothers and sisters in Christ. It was wholly insincere on my part.. and of my sisters as well. In truth, the only thing i remember is a dead 2 inch long palmetto bug (big ass roach) floating in the holiest of baptismal water.. but it was a good show.. and my grandmother slept soundly that night. I did not (and do not) feel bad about having deceived a congregation of 500. I went through those motions and took part in the idiocy to wash away, not my sins, but my grandmama's fear and dismay.
Fast forward 6 years or so, and the "we're spending the night with friends and going to their church" phone calls finally hit home.. and we were gradually relinquished of our church-going obligations. I never set foot in another one until I was 16 when, at my grandmothers request, our entire family attended an evening service whereupon she would be giving her testimony in front of the congregation. Now, I should say, at this point, that my grandmother was literally being eaten alive by cancer.
That beautiful woman stood before God and church and delivered a heart wrenching speech about how her twin grandbabies were washed in the blood of the lamb and that she was honored to have taken part in our salvation.. I wept.. everyone wept.. she ended her speech with this sentence. "Quite simply, I thank God for giving me cancer, because it brought me closer to Him". She died 2 days later, unafraid.. almost excited.. she was tired.. and she was going home.. I'm eternally grateful for her God. I don't believe in the fairy tale.. I don't believe in her God.. but I'm grateful for Him.. if that makes sense..
I struggle, like all other non-believers, with the horrors mankind inflicts upon others in the name of God. Planes flying into towers, millenia of bloodshed, obtuse bigotry and even hatred.. in the name of a big make-believe power in the sky. The key atheistic argument is that the world would be a better place if not for God. I sincerely believe that.. to a point.. Still. I took part in an absurd baptism because my compassion and, ultimately, my acceptance that things ARE as they are, commands I reach further & do more than most to identify and fascilitate the good that "God" has to offer.
Sam Harris, I believe it was, made mention once of a discussion he'd had with a friend, who happens to be a cardinal (i believe it was?) The friend posed this question: You're visiting a new country, a new town, a new area.. you are completely alone and you know no absolutely no one.. in a rather seedy part of town, of which you've been forewarned about, you find yourself walking, very late at night, to your hotel. It's dark and ominous.. Theres NO ONE around.. suppose you see a group of men walking towards you from the shadows.. 8 or 10 of them. Would you feel better or worse.. knowing they were just coming from a prayer group? My personal answer, I have to admit, is that I'd most certainly feel better.. if we try really hard.. we CAN find some ways in which this fairy tale fellow can convey a feeling of comfort rather than disdain.
A compassionate, well-adjusted, thoughtful person can find the delusion to be an easier pill to swallow when taken with a grain of proverbial salt. God isn't going to go away in our lifetime.. so i choose to accept the existance of the myth.. and try very hard to find a silver lining in the whole silly thing. I stress that my acceptance is solely with that of the myth of God's existance.. not of God himself. There IS a difference.
I will never be a believer. There were no dinosaurs on Noah's ark because there was no ark. There was no ark because penguins cannot live in the desert heat. Nor can an elderly couple wrangle 2 inch worms, 2 elephants, 2 kittens, 2 armadillos, 2 lions (and so on and so forth) into a boat the size of 3 football fields; much less manage to feed them and shovel their shit (have you ever SEEN a pile of elephant shit??) for half a year. Nor would the koala bears or the kangaroos get off the boat and bid adieu and make a b-line for Australia while the penguins headed back to the inhospitable polar ice caps. Nor could a handful of sons and their wives (of middle eastern descent) get their incest on and single handedly repopulate the entire earth, complete with such stunning variety.. such as the short-of stature, almond-eyed asians, the dozens of shapes, sizes, and colors of native americans indians, the red headed, fair skinned scots and irish, the black as black, tall, sinewy africans, etc, in a mere 5,000 or so years.
I will never be a believer because there ARE ghosts.. and they didn't make it to heaven or hell.. I will never be a believer because if God made man in his image, the all knowing, ever present big guy in the sky sure as hell made some utter fucktards and is, thusly, a fucktard himself. I can't place faith in a fucktard. I just can't do it. I will never be a believer because there are children born, who live good lives and who grow old and die, having never seen an anglo-saxon, bible-thumping white missionary. I am told that when those primitive tribes, deep in the rain forests, cannot find it in themselves to accept the fact that their gods are not real.. and refuse missionaries who preach the imperative nature of their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord, they are subject to eternal hellfire and damnation. I will never be a believer because homosexuals don't choose their sexual persuasion.. as its proven by science that it's a born trait.. hell, most everything ABOUT the bible is DISproven by science.
My mother chose the path of least resistance when she let her mother-in-law take her girls to church every sunday morning.. but she armed us with something very powerful along the way. She encouraged us to question everything and to never place faith in anything that doesn't make sense. God doesn't make sense. I will never be a believer.. because God.. does not make sense.