nanila: me (Default)
( May. 8th, 2017 03:38 pm)
I’m an atheist. I’ve never practised any religion of my own volition. I went to a Catholic school as a child, but all that’s left me with is a fondness for elaborate churches with stained glass windows, as I spent most of my time staring out of them and daydreaming.

I find it odd when atheists trumpet themselves as more conscientious and intelligent than believers. OK, so not having a religious doctrine to give you a moral code for “free” might seem like it requires more mental effort. However, you also have legal and social frameworks to provide you with a moral code, and those are probably a bigger deterrent for bad behaviour in practical terms. No one wants to pay large fines, spend time in jail, or be Billy-No-Mates. I think those are the things that keep most people, religious or not, from being arseholes.

The assumption that every practitioner of a religion believes in the same moral code also bothers me. Have you seen the news at all, ever? I can only imagine what it must be like to be a practising believer, well-versed in one’s doctrine, watching some dickhead on television saying he’s just slaughtered a bunch of people who were worshipping in their house of faith, which they thought was a sanctuary, because God told him to. It must be heartbreaking, seeing someone who’s allegedly read the same texts, extracting that message from them.

As for intelligence, the very definition of which is highly problematic, especially when people get competitive about it, what makes anyone think that atheism is an automatic pass to ranking oneself above others? There are atheists who are also stupid, who speak and act illogically, and are ignorant and determined to stay that way. There are people of faith who are not.

Anyway, the point of this ramble was really to send a message to my friends who are believers: I don’t think I’m better or smarter than you because I’m an atheist. I think this is worth saying because there are an awful lot of atheists who do. If you want to talk about your faith with or around me, please do. Or don’t! That’s also okay, of course. I love you.
Philip Larkin - Next, Please (from The Less Deceived)

Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say.

Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear,
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.
How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste!

Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked
Each rope distinct,

Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors, it's
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last

We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.
But we are wrong:

Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.

~*~


I love this poem because it reminds me to value my present situation, which is one of contentment, privilege and a good deal of flexibility and freedom. It reminds me that I'm in this situation largely through the making of conscious choices, and that I must keep making those choices to remain there. It reminds me of the responsibility for my actions and achievements, as well as my miseries and mistakes, that I take upon myself by choosing to be an atheist. It fills me with fierce joy and galvanizes me to complete the tasks I set for myself. My black ship approaches. I hope she's still a long way off, but it's impossible to judge the distance from this perspective. I want to be ready for her with maximal satisfaction and minimal regret, whenever she arrives.
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