Clearing the Christmas Air

‘Tis the season.

The time has come for me to deal with questions like, “Do atheists celebrate Christmas?” or “What do you believe in?” or “Do you exchange presents?”

And the answers are ‘yes’, ‘I believe I’ll have another martini’, and ‘yes’.

Invariably, atheists are asked each and every holiday season exactly how we can celebrate this time of year. I usually just chuckle to my heathen self and smile. I’m not into long, drawn-out debates about secularism, theism, atheism, religion, or lack thereof, but suffice it to say that I enjoy the holidays just as much as the next person who may set up that plastic nativity scene in the front yard alongside my inflatable Santa.

When the question is posed, I’ll simply refer to this:

atheistchristmas

This post isn’t meant to ignite debate, but it is meant to clarify those oft-asked questions.

And possibly impart a bit of humor and understanding. Yes, I’m atheist, and yes, I love Christmas. (I can already hear my mother, as she clucks her Catholic tongue at me while texting, ‘Lisa, why do you do this?’) It’s ok, mom. Light a candle for me.

And pass the eggnog.

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Yes. I’m An Atheist

And no.

I make no apologies.

I am not going to make this post a rant about why I’m atheist or try to impose my views on others. I’ll leave that to the religious fanatics. They seem to do a fine job.

I think I’ve been atheist all my life, but as most people, I went through the motions when I was younger. I wasn’t necessarily raised in a religious household, but my mom believed in some deity of some sort and she was a churchgoer on occasion. It wasn’t until my mom married my stepfather, that I began to attend a Catholic church. I was (un)lucky enough to have my first communion, baptism and first confession as some sort of All-In-One Special. No fanfare, just a regular mass where all this took place.

And, so it began.

We went to church every Sunday (or Saturday afternoon) and I distinctly remember one thing.

I hated it.

I hated the monotony, the boredom, the seemingly blank faces that showed up every Sunday to church. These people didn’t look happy. They didn’t look as if they had received any divine intervention. They didn’t look as if they talked to god. They looked miserable. They looked as if they were attending church for the very same reason as me. They attended church because someone else told them they had to be there. if there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s that parents can exert influence in ways that aren’t always logical or smart. Amazing to me how people do things simply due to the herd effect.

I was also never thrilled with the immense amounts of guilt that the Catholic church heaped on its followers. Do this or else that. Don’t do this or else that. Confess your “sins” to some man behind a curtain who claims to have a direct line to god, so you can be absolved. Really? I never understood this one. If I believed in a god, I’ll just skip the middle man. Oh, and don’t get me started on celibacy for priests. I think we see where that’s gotten them. As a “Catholic”, I found myself at odds with most of church doctrine: I was pro-choice and an ardent supporter and believer in the use of birth control. To those who believe these same things, yet still claim to be Catholic, I often wonder how. How can you be both? I couldn’t, so I bid the church a farewell. I believed that if there even were a god, surely he would want me to think for myself, rather than what his divinely appointed talking heads told me I HAD TO BELIEVE IN ORDER TO AVOID THE FIRES OF HELL.

I was closeted for many years. I struggled with my decision to free myself from the shackles of religion. Religion is so ingrained in our culture and in our psyche at times, that it’s difficult to imagine a life without it. I kept my thoughts largely to myself. Only when other atheists would discuss religion, did I feel comfortable in coming out to them. Only recently did I finally decide to just say fuck it and be who I really am. And I’m atheist. How many of you out there who may read this are closeted atheists? How many of you out there are afraid to “come out” to your friends and family for fear of persecution or reprimand? I bet more than even I would think.

That’s okay. To each in their own time.

You are free to express your LACK of religion just as much as those who are free to express their belief in religion. Atheists shouldn’t be held to a different standard. Let your actions and your deeds speak for you, rather than some half-assed belief in something you know deep down may very well be false. You would be amazed at just how many people won’t really give a damn when they find out that you don’t believe in the same god they do.

Atheists don’t need gods or deities to tell them how to be a good person, a just person or a person of conviction. We rely on ourselves for that. It seems almost more logical.

Look inward.

Not upward.

But, if you’re a believer in any god, do me a favor. Don’t presume to think you know what happens when we all take the big dirt nap. Because you don’t. Neither do I.

This post isn’t about doctrine, teaching, the importance of science and reason vs. faith, or a pissing match as to whether my team is better than your team. This post is simply a statement of what is important to me. What is important to me is that I’m atheist, and I make zero apologies for it.

Oh, sure. I could quote Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Christopher Hitchens and assorted other scientists and atheists, but why? You can just as easily Google those people and find out exactly where they stand. No sense in me regurgitating the information. I don’t feel the need to bolster my stance with this data. The data speaks for itself.

This post is about me.

And I’m atheist.

And if you’re atheist or think you might be, don’t be afraid to say so. I’ll support you.

You might just be surprised at others who are just like you and me.

But I gotta admit: That burning bush bit is some funny shit.