Monday, August 10, 2009

Leave Jesus at the Door

This entry was written while I was away from home on a Catholic mission trip and subsequently placed in its correct timeslot. Line breaks generally indicate some amount of time between the writing of the paragraphs, as I penned these thoughts over the course of the day. I have not changed the content of this entry, save for minor spelling and grammar corrections.

Thankfully, holy water doesn’t burn holes in atheist foreheads.

I’m sitting inside a church, getting ready to endure Mass. Sigh… the things I do for the sake of appearances. But revealing myself would be far worse, I feel, so for now I will put up with it.

A good day. Almost no mention of religion at all. When we began working at the distribution center, we went around and said why we’d come on the trip. I think maybe two people said something about God. I thought to myself, “Why bring that in? It’s clear that most of you didn’t even think of it when you signed up. Just leave Jesus at the door!”

Also, I find myself strangely attracted to a woman at least fifteen years my senior. More on that story as it unfolds.

You know how I know that I’m really an atheist? Because I’m in the thick of it. I’m in the best that Catholicism has to offer. We’re not telling people what to believe. We’re just handing out food and clothes. This is a place where I thrive, a place where I want to be. But what makes it different is this: I don’t need God to tell me I should feel good. I don’t need God to compel me to be here. And I think if my companions really thought about it, they’d realize they don’t need God either.

The definition of “confirmation bias”: Claiming that a certain turn of events is a miracle or a godsend or a blessing or whatever when you prayed or wished for it beforehand, while simultaneously ignoring the overwhelmingly large number of times that similar prayers or wishes went unanswered.

If you get what you want, surely God has blessed you. If you don’t, well, the Lord works in mysterious ways. The random nature of when prayers are answered does nothing to sway your faith. Yet if, say, a parent treated you that way, you’d claim child abuse.

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