Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Religulous, and skeptics

I recently joined a local skeptics group. In response to this news, there was weeping (me) and gnashing of teeth (my husband).

The day of the first meeting, I told him that I was going shopping after work and that I wouldn't be home until late, which is what I'd intended to do. In the end, however, there wasn't enough time to do both, so I skipped the shopping and went to the meeting. It wasn't until the next morning that he noticed that I hadn't bought any milk. I avoided the first "Where were you last night?" but not the second. I hadn't planned to tell him at all, but neither did I intend to lie about where I'd been.

To say that he didn't take it well is an understatement. At one point, he wondered why we should even stay married (a valid but nevertheless painful question), although it's fair to say that he quickly backed off on that issue. He made several derogatory statements about atheists and their kind, and then wondered why I wasn't applying the same intensity to my spiritual life.

These days, I don't tell him when I'm going to a meeting. "I'll be home late," I'll say, and he knows what that means, and then we don't have to talk about it. There's plenty else on our agenda, anyway, enough to pretend that there isn't a gaping hole over there. You can see it, I know. Thank you for noticing it. No, you don't need to draw me a picture. I can see it just fine if I turn my head.

The group itself is a fascinating mix of former Christians and the never-religious. As in any group, there are one or two challenging personalities (not unlike my own church), as well as some really great individuals. I'm not the only member with a Christian spouse who is distressed by their partner's lack of faith, nor am I the only member who doesn't want their face in any photos because of potential fallout to family members.

Religulous opened last Friday, and our group made plans to see it on Sunday evening. I wanted to invite my husband but was pretty certain that he wouldn't want to go with the group (and I can't say that I would blame him). So I asked him on Saturday if he wanted to go see it with me. "Absolutely not," he said, then paused. "Have you thought about the impact it would have on your spiritual life?"

"No, I hadn't," I said. And as it turns out, he needn't have worried.

Although the movie had its funny moments, I was underwhelmed. How many times can you hear someone say that religion is stupid before it begins to wear thin? Not so many, it turns out, but I was the sole minority in this opinion. Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter called it "often hilarious but relentlessly shallow" and that about covers it for me.


Dalila said...

Oh Vera, I'm so sorry. I literally cringed when I read the part about that painful question he asked you, and teared up. I hope that one day he'll reach a place of acceptance and understanding, even if he never agrees with your decision.

I wish I could find a local skeptics group in my area. I'm from the Caribbean; I think ex-Christians, freethinkers, etc. would be in the minority. It's not like it would be listed in the Yellow Pages, lol. If it weren't for you and my other online pals, I don't know how I would manage on this new journey. So I guess this is my virtual group until I find a live one, lol.

Continue to be strong. I'm rooting for you and for the step(s) you've taken.

Vera said...

Thanks, Dalila. I appreciate your words.

Have you looked for a group through Meetup? Even if there isn't one near you, you may find a few people there who are hoping for one to get started.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

As you may know, I participate in a local skeptics group while also maintaining my belief in God. Curiously, when the local newspaper (the Fresno Bee) did a feature on the group, the reporter gave me undue coverage as a theist among non-believers.

Reaction to this article from the faithful came in two flavors: either they wondered whether or not I was truly a Christian, or congratulated me on infiltrating the group as a means of bringing the lost to Jesus. As you might imagine, I found both of these attitudes more than a little annoying. It made me sad to think that so many of my fellow believers could only see this in terms of allegiance to a belief system, instead of a personal commitment to explore and understand.

That brings me to your spouse. He is clearly hurting, and in his hurt he is clinging to what seems to him certain (his allegiance to SDA teachings) versus what seems uncertain (your relationship). In the process he's lumbering you with no small amount of guilt. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and affirm, without hesitation, your commitment to your husband then you have no reason to feel guilty about honest doubt about other matters.

My prayers are with you and your husband.

Vera said...

Scott, yes, I do remember that. I think it's great that you're part of it.

It's kind of funny, in our group, we'd like to have some media coverage, but only a handful of us (and I'm not one of them) are willing for their names to be attached to the group. The rest of us would experience some kind of personal or professional harm if our views became public.

As for my husband, it's less a commitment to SDA teachings than to Christianity itself. He wouldn't mind so much if I left the church but was still a Christian.

I've had a lot longer to think about this than he has, but even in the beginning I saw that I didn't want to leave our marriage as a result of my change in views. So I don't feel guilty about what I think, but I know it's causing him pain, and I hate that.