I’m back. I survived. And I did a bit of writing while I was gone, although I wasn’t nearly as productive this year as I was last year. I think this is largely due to how novel atheism was for me a year ago. Now it’s pretty much business as usual; I’m not constantly thinking and wondering about it. I’ve decided to just put all my entries here in one place for your reading pleasure. No sense stretching this out into a bunch of tiny posts, right? Enjoy.
I rode up here with the trip’s only other male chaperone. We talked about ourselves, our lives, that sort of thing. He really opened up to me; halfway through the trip he was telling me about a “problem” he was having with his daughter (also attending the trip). Apparently, she’d made friends with some non-denominational Evangelicals in her grade, and they were giving her anti-Catholic arguments and ideas. I advised him on how I’d proceed, telling him to give her the answers to her questions, but not to force her choice. It was really a deep conversation. I guess I’m easy to talk to, just as people often tell me. But I wonder… would he change his opinion of me if he knew I was an atheist?
I wrote a bit in my journal about today. I’ll write more here.
Can I do this? Three members of my family are here with me: my mom, my bro, and my youngest sis. They all know I’m an atheist. Does anyone else? I just wonder sometimes how people would react if they knew. Would they shun me? Stop trusting my opinions? Argue? I don’t know and I don’t care to find out.
I’m excited to see where this week takes me. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.
It’s funny how easy it is for me to pass as Catholic. I guess that comes from all those years of real Catholicism I went through. I can talk theology and prayer with the best of them. It’s almost amusing.
I'm in such a different place now. Last year I was confused about everything. I was trying to understand how I could even exist in a world without God. Now I've done just that for over a year (well, technically for my entire life, but I wasn't aware of it until last year). I feel confident in my decision to be an atheist. I feel reassured that I'm right, or at least justified. After all, I haven't been struck by lightning or stricken with plague. I'm still here. Still whole. And I'm just as happy as I was when I believed... maybe even moreso. Without all that unnecessary guilt and such, I'm able to keep my life focused on progress. I find that although my past still haunts me, it no longer holds such powerful sway over my actions and thoughts. Being here on this trip after a year of open atheism serves only to reaffirm my decision. I am an atheist. There is no God. And that's fine with me.
I went to Mass at the migrant camps tonight. Had a conversation with the youth minister in charge of our group afterward. She mentioned how the more develop our program here has gotten (in terms of the amount of food and clothing distributed), the smaller the attendance of Mass has been.
It seems obvious to me why this is the case, but of course I didn’t tell her: their needs are being met. They no longer need to rely on prayer out of desperation. Therefore, their religious conviction is dwindling. It follows the same trend as countries do; the higher the standard of living and education, the lower the religious attendance.
Ugh, we're at mass and it sucks. This stupid ceremony, all this pomp and circumstance, used to awe and amaze me. Now it fills me with disgust. Every minute of this tired dirge is brimming with pointless accolades and Catholic mind control.
The priest just made a crack about historians. Apparently BCE (before common era) is the current way to denote the time period before year zero. The priest said "so called historians and scientists" objected to the use of BC (before Christ) and AD (ad domine, of God). Well duh. Of course we do. Why do we base our entire historical catalog system off the birth of Jesus (which, by the way, didn't happen in the year zero)? Some people regard it as the most important moment in human history... but those people are severely misguided. Bleh.
This trip has been really easy. I spent a lot of time talking the Catholic talk and walking the Catholic walk, but I knew I'd have to do that when I signed up. I think my lack of faith is much stronger now, after a year away from the supernatural. I'm not assaulted by doubts or wonderings anymore. I don't have that subtle fear of being wrong that I did last year.
As I said to Jesus, safely stowed away in the tabernacle: "You hold no power over me. I'm not afraid. Does that make you sad? Angry? Scared?" I'm happy as an atheist. And this mission hasn't so much as loosened even one finger of my grip on reality.