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I met an old friend of mine from high school for breakfast the other day.  She is one of the most genuinely nice people I have ever met.  She was raised catholic, and sent her kids to catholic school, but the one that started high school wanted to go to public school.  She LOVES it there.  She likes being friends with whomever she chooses, instead of everyone knowing EVERYTHING about EVERYONE ELSE.  It seems like the catholic school system is almost incestuous, in the way that all the families have been together forever, everyone knows everyone else, etc.  Sorry, got off topic.

Anyway... She asked me if I was an Atheist (from my Facebook posts) and I told her yes.  She looked a little shocked, but asked me about it.  I told her I could never believe in any 'god' that treated his "children" the way the one she believes in supposedly does.  That's about as deep as I went.  She thought about it, and said she could see that.  She didn't judge me, just asked.  I don't think she thought about that one thing before.  Then she was talking about her Mother-in-law being prejudice against her because she is Sicilian.  I thought that was weird of her MIL!  So I said my relatives were/are jewish, and jews have been persecuted for a few thousand years.  She didn't know why.  I explained even the supposed jesus was jewish.  She did know that, but didn't know that christianity came about by people taking the jewish religion, and adding on to it (I didn't go into that the jews took stuff from other religions.) 

She said, "Wow!  You know a lot more about the bible and religion than I do!"  Blind acceptance.  I guess because I was never told what to believe, I don't understand it?! How can people not have questions come to mind? 

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Fear of death is a big thing for a lot of people, and it's easier to just accept beliefs about an afterlife than to think about it. If they _did_ think about it, they'd probably doubt it and that would be scary for them. Basically they'd be in existential crisis mode.

We atheists have gone further than most people ever will in dealing with death; we've accepted it, though we don't actually want to die any more than others do. To believe in an afterlife is to deny death on some level.

That's an interesting question about wearing clothes in heaven.  Never heard that before.

Great exchange on the Simpsons...  After the rapture Homer ascends (naked) to heaven and is greeted by St. Peter.  St. Peter says "OK, first order of business is to get you some clothes"  Homer replies "Ah, I'm comfortable like this".  St. Peter says "Hey, this is heaven for everyone!"

Ask her if she's afraid of the time before she was conceived. We're all just blips on the radar. Not existing isn't a problem at all, it's just clinging too tightly to something that is inherently fleeting that is the problem. It's being deluded about life. Take away the delusion, and things are so much easier...

Yeah that's really all you can do, express yourself and let other people decide whether they want to think or not.

Good one!

booklover,your sister and bil sound like my entire family with the ' I don't question my beliefs' and denying global warming nonsense.  I think you're doing the right thing letting your niece and nephew know that different people have different beliefs.  I'm trying to do the same for my young grandkids.  There are zero atheist and agnostics in this area.

I like your thoughts on death Steve.  We can be proud of the fact that we have gone further in dealing with death than most people ever will.

Welcome to what happens when you're taught not to question, but spoon-fed dogma by people who want you to know only what THEY want you to know, and not much more than that.

Is your friend young enough to remember before Vatican II, when part of that dogma was the blaming of the Jews for killing Jesus?  Or has catholic education whitewashed that as well?

Mindy, you responded in a gentle and caring manner.  No one could ask for more.  Your friend is lucky to have you.

Mindy, I wonder, too, while people don't ask questions about their beliefs. Perhaps I do know and am just ashamed that it took me so long to begin to put two and two together and see the harm that obedience and submission caused. Yes, guilt and shame exist in me, even as I now realize how important it is to think things through; especially when harm occurs in individuals, families and social systems.

I like the milestone celebrations: birthdays, weddings, babies, and now reaching levels of health. Our family gatherings offer so much more satisfaction because we have all learned the art and craft of communicating. There is nothing about religion in building these skills. In fact, the old rules of "children shall be seen ...," and "obey authority figures ... and such things as that. Respect for each person, young and old, able and disabled, intelligently bright and dull, physically active and passive and facing illness or regaining health. Each one has a place at our table and feels welcomed warmly.

I agree with Sentient, your friend is lucky to have you for a friend and one so willing to engage in questions. I like your answers.

BL you did good. She's lucky to have you as a friend.

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