We need to put together a dictionary of phrases that express our meanings without invoking god. My reason for doing this is that i don't want people to think I'm religious, so I don't want to say things like "Thank god!" or "I'll pray for you."
So I have a few, but PLEASE add your own -- maybe we can make a document or page about it. Mine are:
(Of Jewish origin) saying BCE (Before the Common Era) and CE (Common Era) instead of BC (before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini = in the year of our Lord -- he ain't MY lord, that's for sure!)
Saying "I'll keep you in my thoughts" instead of "I'll pray for you" because I won't. Even the Quaker "I'll hold you in the light" is better than promising to pray for someone. When I hear that someone is gravely ill, I say "I hope for the best possible outcome" which doesn't specify what that outcome is -- sometimes it's recovery, but sometimes, it's the deliverance of that person from their suffering.
"For goodness' sake!" instead of "For god's sake"
"By all that is in me" instead of "By god!" Because all I have to offer is what is in me and what I have to give.
"I am grateful" rather than "I am blessed" because maybe it's only the uncaring universe that I have to be grateful to, but gratitude is a very human emotion.Even "Thanks to the luck", because luck is a human, but not a deistic concept.
"Gezundheit" (which means "Health!") or just "To your health" instead of "god bless you" when someone sneezes. Or be like the Japanese and say nothing at all -- a sneeze isn't very meaningful in these modern days!
I dunno -- I may think up more, but I'd be VERY interested to see what other people come up with -- I KNOW there are a lot of fertile minds out there! :-)
Thanks for your response, Alexa! I get so tired of people being so totally uneducated about MY cultural heritage, and then attacking it on the basis of what those who have twisted it out of recognition say about it. I want my culture to be appreciated as much as those of others: No one derides Amaterasu Omikami (the main goddess of the Shinto religion in Japan) or the tanuki (badger) and kitsune (fox) stories , and no one attacks Kannon (the multi-armed goddess, or Daibutsu (the Buddha) -- they have come be be regarded as what they are -- folk tales and relics of an ancient culture. But no one believes in them literally, either, except perhaps Shinto and Buddhist priests. The general populace of Japan doesn't even think about them.
So why can't MY culture be on an equal footing? Why do others get to enjoy their holidays like Cinco de Mayo, and St. Patrick's day (do you detect a religious theme there?) but I'm supposed to be ashamed of what my ancestors thought and wrote?
If people don't like the way the loonies REPRESENT ancient Jewish writings to fit their own twisted notions, then attack THEIR ideas, not the writings. The loonies haven't got a clue as to what the writings meant IN THEIR TIME, anyway. And they are certainly unaware of the Jewish tradition of questioning everything, and interpreting the law to fit the situation, and discarding laws that no longer make sense. They don't know that the Tanach (Torah, law; Nevi'im, prophets and Ketuvim, writings) is a compendium, or library of Jewish writings by many different authors, and that, of course, it contradicts itself, just because of that. They don't realize the ongoing discussion, debate, modifications and Teiku (can't be decided conclusions) it has undergone in books such as the Talmud, Shulchan Aruch (Long Table), Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) and Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed. Heck, even the Reform Prayerbook gets rewritten ever once in a while to reflect current thinking -- the latest edition is carefully constructed to avoid sexist language!
Coming from a Reform Jewish perspective, I can't relate to the stories of those who received a strict Christian upbringing -- we just didn't have the same experience. We were encouraged to think for ourselves, but also taught to know our own history (which no one else does). Christians will often claim that we respect Jesus as a prophet when we do no such thing -- we never even TALK about him. He's totally non-existent in Jewish life.
Part of the non-Jewish confusion about how you can be an atheist and a Jew stems from that total ignorance. It's like, how can you be a Norwegian and also a Christian? I'll bet they teach Norse mythology in their schools as a cultural heritage, not because they believe in it, and all Mexicans know about Chupacabra and La Llorona. I want to be able to enjoy MY myths as well as my philosophical heritage (which involves a LOT more than just god stories), without being attacked or shamed for it.
hi natalie - you know a lot more than i do, and how you put it all together is perfect and sooo jewish. christians just don't get it at all (sorry, guys, but it's true). i've recently joined a humanistic jewish group - it's fantastic. the torah is talked about as myth, there is no need for circumcision (which my son is not), and the bar/bas miztvahs well, here: the kids can pick any topic they choose and research it for giving a talk at the ritual, songs are sung; no torah reading - amazing, huh? here is an example of a topic: gefilte fish ! it turned out to be fascinating - the different kinds, regions, recipes, why the recipes were developed. . .
so, people, just as there are many interpretations of the christian view (including non-deist groups), there are interpretations and developments of the jewish way of life, too - from totally biblical to totally non-deist and everything in between. the "jealous god" and violent thing are so far from the jewish way of thinking now.
Somebody mentioned earlier that there's no reason for us to be pious...we're atheists. And that made me think about how people often mistake me as being religious because I don't swear very often. It causes a big reaction at work when I let out a swear word...ha. But I don't usually bring in religion into my swear word lexicon.
The reason I don't swear is that I was raised to think that it was a sign of bad manners. And I felt strongly about not swearing around my kids when they were young. I thought it showed great self control and maturity...ha. Now that my kids are teenagers, I've been more likely to loosen up and gave them the green light to say "crap" as a generic swear word. And this is in my presence, I have no idea what they say outside my earshot.
My daughter says "holy crap". I let it slide except around my parents...which I think she's intelligent enough to refrain from saying around them. I've been known to say poop and shit...so I guess my swearing is based on bodily functions more than anything else! So I guess my swearing is less on the profane scale and more 'earthy'.
I like Marge Simpson's expression: "What the Hellman's Mayonnaise?!?".
And Sponge Bob's "Oh Fishsticks". [One of the best episodes of that cartoon was the one where Sponge Bob uses profanity and it sounds like a dolphin vocalizing.]
hi natalie -
being german on my mom's side and jewish on my dad's, we always said 'gesundheit' (the condition of being healthy) and i really don't like the other - it's always seemed so namby pamby for some reason. (maybe because gesundheit has such feeling to it, like sh-t. in german it's scheiss, which ironically doesn't sound or feel as good to say at all :)
i don't see anyting wrong with saying 'godda--it' which also feels good to say and my mom said soooo well, it just works. besides, religious people don't like it, so why care about it? also, 'what the hell are you doing?' can be just as pagan as it is christian, it seems to me. my mom used to say "Ye gods," too - it's a middlewest idiom, st. louis, chicago. or how about the old 'egad!'?
'thank the gods' works for me - i mean sometimes you just feel like thanking somebody - might as well be a pagan way.
of course, you can always use a phrase with 'bloody' something or another. it's really a bad curse word in england i've heard. do you know where it comes from though? - the j-guy's blood - and it has something to do with his so-called mother, too. you just can't get away from it. and it works soooooo well, gods dammit :] alexa
I always wondered where "Frack!" came from! I use that one, too. But my vocabulary is much more limited than yours -- I admire your diversity! :-)
I like using frack. In my opinion, its more fun and satisfying to shout than the real f-bomb is. I got all my friends using it too, except they have no idea where it comes from and it makes me giggle that they're all being geeks without even knowing :)