Bait an atheist and you might learn something

An excerpt from the life of Kairan:


My mom and I are watching The Weather Channel in our condo on the east cost of Florida.  We want to see how nasty things will get for us with Hurricane Irene.  It turns out she's forecast to pass by us two-hundred miles out to sea, throwing 50 to 70 mph winds our way. 


People up in the Outer Banks are under a mandatory evacuation because they will bear the brunt of Irene's wrath when she slams the Eastern Seaboard for the first time in the Carolinas.  Mom and I idly watch a young woman on the Weather Channel talk about cancelling her dream wedding at the Outer Banks.  I shake my head as I consider the impact Irene may have on lives up and down the coast.  My mom has other considerations: 


"You know," she begins, "we almost booked our vacation in the Outer Banks.  We were really lookin' at the Outer Banks!  Ho, ho, Florida's lookin' pretty good now!!!"


"Yeah...yeah."  I agree, "dodged a bullet there--it was a matter'uh chance on that one."


"God must'ha' been lookin' out for us, I guess."  Mom squints and looks at me rather slyly, before quickly looking away.  She comes off like she is feeling guilty but that makes no sense to me.  I wonder if she is baiting me because she knows I'm an atheist. 


I can't help myself, I have to ask: "what about the people in the Outer Banks?  Is God lookin' out for them too?" 


"Oh, right.  Sorry," she abruptly concedes.  I raise my internal eyebrow...that wasn't the feisty reply I expected.  She was almost embarrassed!  Did her? 


The conversation is over in a few seconds but it echoes back into my mind for the rest of the evening.  I have to wonder if mom really believed that God had delivered us from a ruined vacation?  The idea that God cares about our pithy little vacation, but not about the potential ruin of those just north of incredibly egocentric. 

Now, my mom's no egomaniac.  If Mom had thought about the people who are still in Irene's path, she probably wouldn't have praised God for 'guiding Irene around us.'  But, Mom wasn't really thinking so much as feeling, or maybe, rejoicing.  It seems to me that this is how a religious follower interacts with the world:  from within the paradigm, on autopilot, never really delving beneath the surface of what appears to be going that their world view is reenforced automatically, and this mode of thought is reflexive rather than reflective.  











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Comment by Brian Pansky on August 25, 2011 at 5:21am

I recall being in the passenger seat of our family car.  my mom was driving us to a group to spend some time with during the feast of tabernacles (I think fall of 2005).  We had to stop at one point for a long time, waiting for a train to slowly cross our path.  At some point I recall her saying things I had heard before:  "You never know, maybe we would have gotten into a car accident if our timing had not been changed by the train.  God might sometimes do things which prevent bad things from happening"


I think in this case there had been disappointment that we were unable to get to our destination sooner. (unlike your case where there was rejoicing).


Still, inability to recognize randomness.  Things happening that aren't gods plan for us. 

Adding to your sentiment of reflexive reinforcing. 


Perhaps this is the root of 'rejoicing'.  Something I have never understood even when I thought I was on the same believing page as my mom.  Perhaps it goes hand in hand with my ability to recognize randomness for what it is, and her idea as something she came up with herself.

Comment by Arcus on August 25, 2011 at 6:17am

It sounds a bit more like schadenfreude than ill intent. I think you should forgive your mother her little transgression as an attempt at black humor.

As the proverb goes: Own fortune is good, others misfortune ain't bad either.


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