Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Been gone too long

In one of the correspondences with my mother, before we stopped talking with each other, she mentioned that I had 'been gone too long'.

Lately those words have really been resonating with me.

Knowledge I used to have ready at a moment's notice is getting more and more difficult to recall. All the Bible and BOM scriptures that I used to be able to quote verbatim, now are faint and I would need to look them up. I won the Scripture Chase my Senior year of High School, I knew those verses like my social security number. And now I can only remember a handful, and not very well. I used to know the names of Joseph Smith's siblings, and now I can only remember Hiram. I can no longer recall exactly how BOM stories went down. Hymns I could once play on the piano, are no longer second nature.

Is this what happens when you are gone too long? I know how she meant it. She was saying that I had left the gospel, I had left the truth so long and now Satan had been invited into my life. And the Holy Ghost cannot dwell where Satan resides.

But that's not how I take it. I am not sad that I cannot recall stories from the BOM, or that I can't tell you any of the Scripture Chase Scriptures that I had used to kick every other Mormon kid's ass in the competition. I am mostly relieved. Being able to tell what is truth and what was bologna has been getting easier.

Keep in mind that it's not like the moment I became an atheist, all the bad information I had been given just left my memory. I had a big task at hand; to pick through all the lies and half truths I had been taught, to find the truth. Which can be tough. At times I wish I had a factory reset option.

My mom's words felt weird to hear at the time. I hadn't been gone all that long. And she may have spoke prematurely. I can still remember Joseph Smith's birthday, I can still recite the words to the Sacrament prayers, I can still remember the words to my favorite Hymns, though the notes on the piano escape me. I think her words are starting to apply to me more and more each day. The longer I am gone from Mormonism, the easier it is to forget the scriptures, hymns and principles I had memorized, the easier it is to forget the 7 steps to heaven and the easier it is to forget the stories in the BOM.

But I have found that certain things have become easier to remember. It's easier for me to remember how many wives Joseph Smith had, the horrific details of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the crimes Joseph Smith was arrested for as a confidence man, and exactly what Joseph Smith stole from the Freemason's rituals that he wrote into Mormon Temple rituals. It's become easier for me to remember why I left the church.

I know my mother would say that I have let go from the iron rod. I have strayed from the straight and narrow path. That I have let Satan influence me. But none of that makes sense, mostly because those statements are all based on made up tales of a confidence man. Yes, I have partaken of fruit from the tree of knowledge. Which is the worst crime in world history; that a woman partook of knowledge is the whole reason why we have original sin. And I knowingly did so. I still don't understand how can any god worth it's reputation can deem knowledge to be a sin.

I have been gone awhile now, eating up as much knowledge as I can every moment I am free and alive. Teaching my children every piece of knowledge I can get in my memory. And every day I am gone, I feel my joy grow.

I have felt the Holy Ghost, I had been moved by Him while I was religious. And I can tell you that THIS feels so much better. Being 'gone' feels awesome. Knowledge feels wonderful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Raising children of atheist parents

A certain awesome man named Richard Dawkins once stated that there is no such thing as a Christian child, just a child of Christian parents.

Most understand his statement as saying that children are much too young to have the advanced reasoning skills to decide for themselves the origin of the universe, or the meaning of life.

I understand it as they are too young to doubt the black and white answers their parents or guardians give to them. They aren't too dumb to understand how things really work, they are just too young and even fearful to doubt their parents. And I can agree with that. I was raised as a child of Mormon parents. It took 28 years for me to have the strength to stomach the guilt that comes with doubting the black and white answers I was force fed as a child.

I know plenty of freethinking parents who apply the same logic to their children. They have respect for their children and don't want to 'brain wash' their children in a similar way they feel children of religious parents are being brainwashed.

I was in that boat, actually I may still be in that boat at times. I am an agnostic parent, in the sense that I am never really sure I know what I am doing as a parent, a lot of the time I feel more like a teacher/cuddle bunny, mostly because as a mommy, that's what I spend the majority of my time doing... you know, teaching and cuddling.

I don't ever want to squelch my children's curiosity. I want them to feel comfortable doubting me, questioning me (even though that gets annoying quick at bedtime), and I want them to always be skeptical of what they are told, especially if it doesn't add up.

But there are times when I really want to raise my skeptical, freethinking children to be strong atheists. There is no evidence of unicorns, why would I need to present my children with that 'theory'? I know they will have times when they will believe monsters are real, and the same is probably true with a variety of things, but the more time I spend as a mother, the more I realize that my children are capable of detecting bullshit, and they will need that in this world. Even at the young ages of 6 and 4 they will call you out on an obvious lie.

I know the dangers of religion, I see the way others' twatwaffle beliefs get written into law. Laws that hurt others. And I never ever want my children to be on that side of hate, bigotry and ignorance.

The more I think about how to raise myself a great set of little heathens, the more I realize there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. My children may be too young to really decide for themselves if there is or isn't a god, but they are also too young to really decide if there are unicorns somewhere or if there is a teapot caught in the Sun's orbital gravitational pull.

Hell, I tell my children that monsters aren't real, and I go through the logical steps to prove it. (And I do it with the whole god/goddess question too.) I don't believe my children are too young to require evidence, they aren't too young to doubt nonsense. So as much as I tried to stay neutral, it's no longer on the top of my importance list as a parent.

The rules I set for myself in regards to raising my atheists to be the beautiful young ladies I want them to be are simple and more like promises or vows than rules. To raise atheist children all you need is logic, reasoning, bunches of patience and love and at least one child. (Don't go all quiverfull though, that's just irresponsible.)

I vow to never lie to my children. If I don't know the answer, I say so. There are no circumstances that exist that I will ever tell them something that I can't prove, or has not been shown to work by a double blind peer reviewed scientific study. (The Bible doesn't fall into that category, sorry folks.) Or that I can't prove by the magical wonder of Google.

I vow to love my children unconditionally. That means there are no conditions or circumstances that exist that I will ever kick them out of my home, ever disown them, or pile on vast amounts of unforgivable guilt.

Got pregnant out of wedlock? No worries.

You fell in love with a woman and want to get married? Awesome!

You want to vote Republican?? Oh Damn... um... Let's have a little talk about women's rights, human rights, and ethics my darling daughter... (Unconditional love doesn't mean that I will turn a blind eye to glaring mistakes and bad decisions.) I should know, I was a Republican once.

I vow that as for me and my house, we will serve. (It's tough not to finish that sentence with 'spaghetti'.) But seriously, serving our fellow humans and our planet is very important. It is especially important to atheists, considering we do not believe super magic Jewish zombie Jesus is coming back to destroy it anyway. Teaching my heathens to give to others, to love others, to accept others and to treat this planet as the only one we 'get' is vital to beauty and happiness. We will recycle, we will donate our money, resources, time and talents to others.

And... well, you know... that's it really. What more could help create perfect atheist young ladies? 100% honesty and 100% unconditional love and 100% serving our fellow humans.

So do I push aside the common knowledge that atheists do not raise their children as atheists? It seems more honorable in atheist parent circles to raise freethinkers.

They were born into this world as atheists, how does me raising them as such do damage? It brings me joy when we are doing Brain Quest trivia and the question, "When might the tooth fairy pay you a visit?" is answered with, "Never, the tooth fairy isn't real." That's right my skeptic little girl, that's right. There is too much beauty and 'magic' in the natural world to ever have to believe such poppycock.

So as much as I know that I am raising two freethinking children, I also know deep down in my heart that I am raising two strong smart women, two awesome atheists and two beautiful, graceful ladies.

And if one day, one of my beautiful young daughters decides that she believes in some religious poppycock, I'll just refer back to my second rule.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Awkward Atheist

It's tough being an atheist parent in the middle of the United States. That sentence kinda stands on it's own, but let me elaborate...

All of my coworkers believe in the Judea-Christian god. Before having a potluck/pitch in at work, my boss has us all hold hands as he prays.

We went down to the lake this past Summer and while enjoying the beach, we noticed someone baptizing people in the Reservoir.

My husband is a Freemason. They seem to be uber Christian here in the Midwest. Back in California, not so much. The Grand Architect of the Universe (Higher Power) could be anything you defined it to be. Out here it's god. And not just any god, the blonde Caucasian Jesus/god.

The state I live in just passed a bill that gives Science teachers permission to teach creationism in Science class. I hope that any Science teacher worth their mass in gold wouldn't dream of teaching a topic that should be taught in a World Religions class in their classroom, but having experienced the Midwest for over 3 years, I have a feeling that there are a few out there.

When I wrote to my Representative about not signing a bill that would change the state constitution to say that marriage will only be between one man and one woman, he responded by telling me that his god feels that marriage is that way, so that is how he is voting.

My coworker felt that it was okay to tell me that this country is going to hell because of 'all the brown people'. I wasn't allowed to do bank deposits under my last supervisor's reign because I am a woman.

I live in a state where it's illegal to buy alcohol or a car on a Sunday, but public school teachers can legally spank my child; and we aren't even in the Bible belt...

Flabbergasted? Sure. I have slowly been getting used to it, slowly starting to expect it.

All of this makes me uncomfortable. And in turn, causes me to feel awkward. It's difficult to feel outnumbered. It's difficult to teach your children reason and logic, when their classmates in preschool are telling them that if they don't believe in Jesus, he will eat them.

It's tough making friends in a new place. It's tough making friends as an adult. It's tough making friends when you have children. It's tough making friends in the Midwest as an Atheist.

When everyone seems to judge your character on how 'churchy' you are, it's awkward when they ask you what church you go to. My answer is always the UU church. (Which we do attend on occasion.) Or when you are asked what you believe in, while at work, by a coworker. My automatic response was "Nothing". I am so glad she didn't ask me to expound upon that, because I need my job.

I thought that as time passed, I would find a friend or two who would have children around the same age as mine and who would be agnostic, freethinking, secular humanist, anything... no such luck. But hey, I guess being friendless still beats going to church any day.