Friday, August 04, 2006

Christian Nostaligia Part One: Grace

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A Warning to Breeders: this is what will trip y'all up. You get yourself a kid before you ever had the chance to understand thoroughly why you chose to leave a faith behind. Then you go and get yourself knocked up. You start to nest, and you fall into the nostalgia trap.

Who cares about reality? You've got a role to fill! You're a mother, and if you do ONE THING WRONG WITH THIS KID YOU'LL HATE YOURSELF FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!! So, away with the sex toys, back to the town you swore you'd never set foot in again, and you start thinking, "Power inbalance? Physical abuse? Who cares? I deserved it, and my parents did the best they could." You get scared, and you release your personal moral autonomy--it takes a village, right? And what about Christmas? Well, fear no more!

Have you ever heard an atheist reminisce, or complain that being a Christian was so much fun? All those great benefits to being a christian there are, that we are now missing out on?

Well, I've done Christmas to death, and I'm sure to kill it deader around next christmas, but here's the first installment in my series: You Are Not Missing Squat, Unbeliever, And if You Are, You Are A Dope, My Friend.

Saying Grace

Isn't it nice? Stopping a moment to look at the food and really appreciate it before you shovel it in your mouth. Isn't that what a family is...


A family sits around the table. A family stops and appreciates each other, smells the food, bows their heads in humility and gives thanks for the food. What could possibly be wrong in that, and why the hell am such a cynical curmudgeon to take that lovely tradition away from people? Maybe we atheists should ALL do it too? Maybe being a Christian isn't so bad?

Well, I'll tell you.


Toasts. People gather around the table, eating food, drinking wine, and someone raises a glass. To being together. To the happy couple. To our health and happiness! To the cook! What aren't they doing that makes them miss the lovely moment that the family saying grace gets? They are looking at each other with smiles, not bowing their heads. They are acknowledging the reality of the moment, the food and the friendship, not making a spell over their food, or appealing to a feared ghost, begging him to make their food edible, and to keep them together. "Blessing" the food. The toast is not a spell over the food, but an acknowledgement of it. Toasts are fun. Grace is mandatory. Toasts can be made by anyone. Grace is generally either done by the one holding power in the family, or assigned to a family member by the most powerful. Both are rituals, both are about food.

So, atheists, what are we missing? The only thing here is what I've heard in complaints by ex-christians who still aren't quite sure why--the force is gone. I've heard ex-christians lament that atheists just aren't forced to do what's good for them, like stopping to appreciate the blessings in their lives. Unfortunately, folks, that's what I hear from most of you. But I have to ask: where's the appreciation when you're forced? (If you don't know why freedom is such a big deal, keep reading. I'm gonna pound it into you in the next few days. I can't force you, though.)

Certainly, the coercion exists in group dynamics involving toasts. But I wanted to start simple, ease you in. If you have an aspect of Christianity that you think is essentially missing in an athiest's life, comment in this blog.


Momo said...

I miss most singing hymns in church while feeling all sanctimonious.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Ok, I know you're being light-hearted, probably, but...

1. Why do you need a church to sing
2. Why do you need a church to feel sanctimonious? I do both all the time. And let me tell you--community chorales sing all kinds of songs and feel pretty superior about it.

Michelle said...

Sort of a late comment, but...

Despite my current non-believer status, I have some fairly fond memories of the Methodist youth group I belonged to in high school. Much of what we did was purely social; the movie nights, co-ed vollyball tournaments, field trips to Disneyland, were all pretty darn fun, broad in their scope, and provided a chance to meet kids from other high schools or neighborhoods. Obviously, if I were to have kids now, I wouldn't involve them in the church, but I wonder what secular equivalent there might be. Athiests don't tend to have youth groups or potluck dinners. Organized sports and school clubs are not quite the same thing. Community chorales and high school volleyball teams usually require auditions (and talent!)

Hellbound Alleee said...

I don't know if atheists should have youth groups or potluck dinners. I am against that kind of thing, because it confuses people into thinking that atheism is important enough to make a group over. Something tells me it shouldn't be about atheism.

Vollyball tournaments, Disneyworld, movie nights--what does that have to do with Jesus' blood and original sin? Sounds like a bribe to me. What's "not the same," and why can't you find those elsewhere? It certainly is a group with a powerful force behind it: Christianity. I know a more powerful force: friendship and mutual respect without coercion or blackmail.

You say "not quite the same thing." I should freakin' hope it's not the same thing. Musical groups should be something to work towards. If you can't be a part of a musical group because you lack talent, well, maybe music is not a group you should be in. Or maybe just maybe the person should try a little training, and then audition, because if it's important enough, it should be important enough to work for. I never liked the lack of respect given to the music in church choirs. If they sang music worth presenting at all.

You can always start a band with other people who lack talent. Get some instruments and be a punk band until you can play and sing better.

Again, churches and christian groups tell you stuff that's crap. I want to know why The Group is more important than the people in it. Churches (and schools, and governments) have a line for that one always. But it's not true.