Thursday, May 22, 2014

"God willing"

How many of you have heard the phrase, "God willing?" As a child, my parents, in particular my mother, would utter this phrase when we went to sleep. It went something like this:

"Good night."

"Good night."

"Love you."

"Love you, too."

"See you in the morning."

"God willing."

And if I didn't say it, I was forced to say it. I remember thinking it was a little creepy, but didn't put it together that I was being indoctrinated. I just chalked it up to one more thing I was forced to do as a result of living under their roof, like chores. But now, looking back on it, it's even more ridiculous, and it makes their god look even more pathetic and controlling. God willing? It's all up to him, right? He chooses if I make it through the night or if he murders me in my sleep. How do they not see this? How repulsive this is? And why even bother saying it? Is it superstition? Are you hoping that by saying it aloud that your god will spare you? There are just so many things wrong with this.

I refuse to force any child in my charge to do anything irrational.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

They're not just religious bigots

While homosexual bigotry doesn't necessarily have to be rooted in religion, no matter when you witness it, it's offensive. This past Mother's Day, I got together with my family and had a pleasant day, despite the near constant praising and thanking of a deity (and don't even get me started on the forced involvement in grace, despite everyone at the table knowing I'm an atheist and feel thanking a man-made invisible god is akin to writing a letter to Santa Claus).

I was grateful the conversation turned to football during dessert, at least at first I was grateful. The NFL Draft was last week and we discussed the picks our favorite teams selected. But eventually the topic turned to Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, selected by the Rams in the seventh round (the final round).

Now, you may be asking yourself, why would the best defensive player in college football's best conference have to wait seven rounds to be picked by a team? Well, Sam is gay. He is trying to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

It's clear the league isn't entirely on board with homosexuals in the locker room or on the field, as evidenced by this fine player slipping to almost the final pick in the draft. It's a sad commentary on the state of the league, but what was even more sad were the comments that got passed around my brother's dinner table.

You see, ESPN had its cameras at Sam's house when the phone call from the Rams finally came. An emotional Sam cried, as most draft picks do, as he had his discussion with the Rams front office. He then kissed his partner on the lips and got hugged by a few other guys, who may or may not have been gay.

My family all ganged up on Sam's reaction. At first they simply just mentioned the kissing, and you could see the disdain in their faces, but they eventually realized how offensive they sounded (after I defended Sam and said there's zero difference between his reaction and anyone else's who was straight) and said the kissing was OK. But it was what happened later in Sam's celebration that my family couldn't contain their bigoted comments.

The cameras continued to roll as Sam and his family and friends celebrated with cake. Sam cut a piece and smeared it on his partner's face then kissed him, a la every wedding cliché in America. Everyone at the table (but me) was religious, so their comments aren't surprising, but I don't think all of their comments were rooted in religion. My brother and father are tough guys, so they just cringe at anything that's not heterosexual. I'm not entirely sure they are against homosexuality, it's just not something they readily embrace.

But my SIL, the one I have had all of my religious debates with, is a conservative right-wing religious nutjob. She said things such as, "If you're trying to make a statement, that is not the way to do it," and "They should not have done that. If they want us accept them they shouldn't do that in public."

I can't remember all of the offensive comments because I wasn't in journalism mode at my family's home, but it's safe to assume they were basically saying keep your affections private because it disgusts them, and if you're straight there's nothing wrong with the exact same display of affection. This is what we refer to as a bigoted double standard. It's all right as a man to make out with your woman, but if you are gay then keep it behind closed doors because it's wrong and we don't want to look at it. So sad.

Ultimately I got them to realize this was in his home and he had every right to do whatever he wanted, and it could have been on Main Street USA, too. He is a free man and this is a free country. There is no difference between what two consenting heterosexual adults can do and two consenting homosexual adults can do. Time to wake up and smell the 21st century.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Respect for life

Ever since I made the deconversion and realized I was an atheist, I've had a newfound respect for all life, not just my own. Recently, a black crow was carrying a baby blue jay through the air as the blue jay's parents chased it. The crow dropped the baby right in front of me, from about 20 feet in the air. I waited awhile and watched to see if the parents would come back to save the baby, but they never did.

We didn't have a bird sanctuary in town so I have been rehabbing the bird for the past three weeks. I've grown fond of the little guy and feel really good about raising him. It takes a lot of effort and care, but it's worth it. He's almost ready to release, and though I will be sad to see him go, I am very happy I saved his life.

What's the moral of the story? We only get one life and we need to enjoy it, respect it and make sure it lasts as long as possible. That's why I saved the bird, and that's why I will cherish my life until the end. I won't waste this opportunity and cling to the irrational hope that there's something after this. It's an irresponsible way to live life and I'm not a coward.