After her failed attempts during our last visit to drag us to church with most of the rest of the family (FIL didn't go), my mother-in-law had me on the phone for half an hour one day during work, trying to talk me into the church life, soon after we returned from the visit. I told her that I'd be happy to continue the discussion but I couldn't do so at work!
Got a letter from her on Friday- John opened it, handed it over asking if I'd like him to shred it for me. Told him no- I said I'd continue the discussion, and so I will. Maybe- just maybe- I can find a teeny crack in her armor and expand it a bit. I did this with her favorite xtian charity already, which gave me some hope that she's actually listening. I could be wrong, but it's part of our responsibility as atheists not to remain silent.
The letter began with how my life cannot possibly have purpose and meaning without God. Well! I beg to differ. Of course it went on about how she came to accept JC etc. even with her own doubts at first. She took issue with my recent e-mail that included a Hitchens video and my comment that "faith can be a dangerous thing" (she was talking about Islam at first, and so was Hitchens, but toward the end, I believe he included a dig at xtianity.)
I just spent some time writing a reply to her, explaining how religion can get good people to do bad things, and how faith, by definition, means belief without evidence, and how it's impossible for skeptics to take things on faith alone. "We have to live the examined life, and no subject is too sacred, especially not one like religion since people base their lives on it."
Told her that I gave up going to mass and saying prayers in exchange for doing volunteer work at the local cat shelter when I was a teenager. I went on a bit and then told her that there's a book on its way that would better explain my feelings about the bible and religion.
I had ordered "50 Questions for Every Christian," which seems a lot more gentle than the books by the "horsemen." I can't scare her off with the likes of Hitchens and the rest. This will be enough! Anyway, she should get that by Thursday, and my note should arrive by Tues/Wed.
She's retired and has built her life around religion, so I have no delusions of converting her. I simply need to defend my position. My husband is cringing- he always simply shut her down, and does not want to get an "earful" from her. I told him to direct any and all angry calls to me.
Wow AinFL, that goes beyond religion and into the realm of certifiable. I suspect this is how it'll end up in my case, just b/c MIL is controlling and accustomed to everybody falling into step. But like you, I can't pretend. That's no way to live life.
You're right. I can't live that way. No one should have to live that way.
I used to get angry at closet atheists, but after being honest with myself that it was unbearable to come out of hiding, I understand their reticence. I wish our culture was more inclusive, but it isn't. I only hope that by coming out I made it easier for someone else. Even if my altercations didn't win anyone over to my side, perhaps they made a few people realize there are others living among them who do not think as they do.
Unfortunately, I was very, very, very angry and this may have undermined any good I did by coming out. I had good reasons to be angry, but Christians rarely take that into consideration due to their all-consuming self-righteousness.
Just because I had a really bad experience with my mother and friends when I came out doesn't mean it has to be that way every time for everyone. I only chimed in to remind people to be careful. If you decide to argue with Christians, there's a very good chance Humpty Dumpty will fall off that wall.
My mother and I repaired our relationship as best we could, but it will never be the same. The only way I would ever completely trust her again involves events that will never happen. I would have to apologize for things I'm not sorry for and to return to the Christian lifestyle. Or, alternatively, my mother would have to apologize for things she is not sorry for. She can keep her religion as long as she doesn't use it to hurt me again.
Please keep us informed on that encounter. It might be a doozie!
What is the worst that can happen?
What is the best?
What will yu gain when you honestly speak your mind to someone that opposes the idea?
What will it cost you?
What preferred outcome would you like to see?
Will this option get you what you want?
Are there other options?
These questions are not to be answered for me, but some things you might think about in the process of working up the courage or the stamina to make your statement of fact.
It bugs me to no end to hear someone say life can possibly have no purpose with out god. I think as an Atheist my life has been much more purposeful. I don't spend my time worrying that I am not serving god as well as I should, or spending my time praying for people in need.(I grew up pentecostal...I did a lot of praying) Now I go out and help those people in need. I volunteer as much as possible. Instead of giving a church money....I give people who need it money. Tell her instead of wasting her breath trying to convert people....go help someone in need. She is retired..she should have plenty of time.
"as an Atheist my life has been much more purposeful. "
I share your sentiment. Life is far sweeter and more meaningful for me as an atheist.
It's ironic how that works! I never gave much thought to atheism- signed up for a secular humanist newsletter over a decade ago, but that's about it. Until I married into the fundie family.
Now, I'm brushing up on science- evolution, astrophysics, philosophy, neuroscience, politics- just to better defend my position. I feel not just better informed, but enlightened and intellectually stimulated.
What is the worst that can happen? We are disowned and forbidden from contact with the kids (though I suspect the worst she can do is limit contact with the kids, not keep us from them.)
What is the best? That she thank me for showing her the light and the truth. LOL!! But the best I can realistically hope for, is that she stops pushing her agenda and understands our position. Still a stretch!
What will you gain when you honestly speak your mind to someone that opposes the idea? Confidence, integrity, respect.
What will it cost you? A sense of belonging. A reputation as "evil" or whatever.
What preferred outcome would you like to see? Acceptance and understanding, perhaps even curiosity. Open conversation.
Will this option get you what you want? Are there other options? Might not get me what I want, but there are no other options. I can't live dishonestly.
I am now trying to live the way you describe because a decade of strife eviscerated me emotionally. It isn't always easy to keep my mouth shut, but I do it for my own peace of mind.
But you can't bloody well get away from the fundies! They're fucking everywhere. I live in a very conservative area of California that is almost pure fundy. I have to travel a long way to get my medical marijuana license every year because my godly community chased away our only dispensary. Sad to say, the city I was in today was full of fundies, too. There was one guy standing up in a buffet restaurant, loudly proclaiming his right-wing stupidity to everyone in the general area. I glared at him a few times to see if it would shut him up. Nope. The stupider, the louder. Every so often during his political tirade, I heard the words "church" and "God bless." It made me want to move to another table, but I stuck it out and after awhile, he left. They can't blather on forever, but while they are moving their lips, it seems like an eternity. XD
While having a very nice dinner at a restaurant with my son, three fellows two or three booths from us talked so loud that we couldn't have a pleasant conversation. I got up from my seat, went to his booth, sat down beside one of the men and very quietly, so that they had to lean in to hear me, I said something to the effect that I am an atheist and I did not come to an expensive dining place to listen to a sermon about a god in which I do not believe. Then I quietly got up and returned to my meal. They quieted down, and they paid our dinner tab. I thanked them nicely as we left and they nodded with smiles on their faces.
The one time I asked a sermonizer to be quiet, he became more boisterous. Perhaps it had something to do with my delivery. Like I said, I had a hard time when I came out. There's still a lot of leftover anger, despite the fact I'm trying to be less angry. :)
That's a great story, Joan! I can't believe they even paid your tab! How nice!