Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Words Do Not Do Me Justice.

So, I was driving Kurt home from the Ethnic Club the other night and we were talking about a particular member's very bad behavior. Actually, hypocritical behavior, since this member is tireless in proclaiming the status of a devout Roman Catholic.

I've actually been the target of evangelical attempts by this member, who says "We've got to make you a Christian!" At which time, I explained to him the whole deal about how I was raised in a Catholic household, received all the sacraments in a timely manner, was whacked by nuns and assigned penance by priests, but that it just didn't take. I'm not a believer, I'll never be a believer, I am missing whatever it takes to believe. (Kurt IS a believer, a man who's stubbornness is exceeded only by the depth of his conscience.)

Anyway, in discussing this person's iniquity, Kurt said to me , "You're a better Christian than that ass!" While I didn't want to disown the compliment, I said, "It doesn't take being a Christian to know what's right or wrong. There are Hindus that would agree with you about this person's behavior. There are Jews who would agree with you. I agree with you, and I'm a 'nothing'. Kurt said, "You're not a 'nothing'. You're an Atheist, aren't you?"

Well, I guess that's part of what I am. I just think the label draws too tight a circle. I think that my disbelief is bigger than that. (Bigger than God. I sound like John Lennon!) I mean, I don't believe in phrenology or reading chicken entrails to predict the future. I don't believe in Bigfoot or leprechauns. None of those things are associated with a belief or disbelief in any gods.

So I wonder if there's a word that describes my non-belief. I suppose 'non-believer' would be a candidate. 'Secularist' certainly might apply, since the thought of theology informing government policy gives me the creeps. I don't like 'Humanist' since it leaves out everybody else on the planet, which is rather selfish. 'Skeptic' seems to come closest, since I'm skeptical of things that aren't self-evident, ie: There are snails on my desk. Yes, there are snails on my desk.. There are potatoes in my kitchen that are so old they're growing roots and leaves! No argument there. "There is a divinity that shapes our ends." Yeah? Prove it, Shakespeare! (And you know how fond I am of the old Bard.)

I like to think that I am at the 'default' position. The un-indoctrinated 'start point' for a neolithic brain living in a highly technological society. Anyway, whatever label one chooses for oneself will be defined differently by anyone who hears it. Labels confine. 'Nothingness' frees. I am a wide-open nothing, ready to consider reason, evidence and experience.

- Maggie (Hermana)

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