Beginnings and Endings and Easters

Well it’s Easter once again.  Congratulations. We all made it to another season of rebirth and renewal. When my kids were little, I’d buy them a kite, a book or a box of Legos, and we’d talk about what Easter means. For some it’s a holy day. For people like us, it’s a holiday. For some folks, it’s both.  I’d explain to them how many of our neighbors believe that, to fix his screw-ups to save flawed human beings, God gave himself his only son Jesus to redeem the rest of his daughters and sons. Sort of. God’s other children killed Jesus, who then came back to life and said he forgave all the rascals who betrayed him, and that gave all humans, forever and ever, the option, if they should choose to accept Jesus into their hearts, to be “saved” and to go to heaven.

Whew. Makes perfect sense.

Of course, a believer’s trip to heaven is in no way guaranteed and can at any time be revoked by the capricious god whose half-assed plans included committing crimes against his children when he became enraged and who continues to allow his children to suffer, physically and emotionally, at the hands of those who believe in him.

After explaining these things to children for a few years, they start to see how ridiculous this tale is. One day you realize, as I now realize, that you no longer have to point out the inconsistencies and the illogical in these cultural tales. Once trained to spot the absurd, kids learn how to recognize it on their own.

Yet Easter, like Christmas, is still a day of fun and celebration. It’s funny that two of the most important Christian holy days of the year have become entwined with cartoon-character narratives, Santa and the Easter Bunny. For you and me, they’re all tall tales: God and Jesus and not unlike Thor and Adonis. All these stories are just entertainment; they’re a diversion from the reality of life. We live; we die; we experience pain and pleasure, never understanding how or why life started to begin with. The biggest conundrum: all life dies, all species have a beginning and an ending. Even this planet will one day cease to exist.

It doesn’t matter, though. We have the opportunity to live now, to experience. Each day is a microcosm of our life: in the morning we are born and in the evening we slip into the coma of sleep. If we’re lucky, we are reborn in the morning to enjoy the time we have in between those two points again. Every day is truly a gift. Every day is like Easter.

While I’m here (writing, I mean), I should apologize for abandoning this blog for so long. I took another full-time job, and it has kept me very busy.  In addition, having written about the same topic for so long, I felt as if I were starting to sound like a broken record. It’s the same stuff, the same people, the same objections, the same issues. Every week, I received e-mails from believers with the same silly platitudes: “God uses pain and suffering to draw people to him….We live in a fallen world…Only God’s perfect love can save us.” Blah blah blah.

What you and I know is that, once you’ve saved yourself and your kids from religion, there’s not much else you can do. There will still be extremists, there will still be weak people who will fall for anything, and there will still be people who fool themselves into thinking that their proselytizing is somehow righteous, not realizing they’re nothing more than little children trying to gain their god-daddy’s approval and ultimately, a reward.

Yet in many ways, thanks to the Internet and social media, the society we live in has become more aware and more understanding of the variety of beliefs and lack of beliefs in our country and our world. Yes, I know there is ISIS & co, but the number of Americans who actually try to join their ranks is exceedingly small.

I see how secular our children’s generation is, how even those who believe in god do so with much less conviction and with much less arrogance. These kids, many just don’t care if you have religion or not. I hear them talk. They seem to embrace the “live and let live” approach to belief and nonbelief. It is only a matter of time before the ideas of our generation, the ideas that religion equates with morality and that everyone must believe, dies off. Even beliefs have a life cycle: they’re born, they live and they die.

I have enjoyed this journey, writing and discussing religion with all of you. I will still write from time to time, but not nearly as frequently as I once did. Feel free to drop me a line at kidswithoutreligion@gmail.com if you want to say “hi” or ask questions.

Hope everyone has a great day celebrating with friends and family. In the big picture we are all family, and it would be nice if we could all be friends.

Hugs,

Debbie

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43 responses to “Beginnings and Endings and Easters

  1. I do miss your posts! But it’s understandable now that your kids have flown the coop to want to move on. Maybe some of your more eloquent posters could start a blog called parentswithoutreligion? Or Adultswithoutreligion. 🙂

  2. Your post made my morning. I hope you are enjoying your new career and am glad to know you will still post from time to time. I find something fresh and new with each new post of yours. You may feel like a broken record, but are not! I wish I had the courage to fully speak my mind as you do. Thanks to your posts, I am slowly speaking up a bit more here and there. i am sure you are empowering many others as well. Thank you for helping me have the confidence to be honest with my child about religion. At nine, he’s a staunch non-believer, but knows he can change his mind anytime (don’t think he will!) I have asked him to consider telling people he’s a secular humanist if someone asks about his beliefs instead of replying that he’s an atheist. Not ready to be abandoned by my Greek Orthodox family! – Suzanne

  3. Best wishes and positive vibes on your new endeavor. I will enjoy your future insights regardless of the reduced frequency.

  4. A full-time job and kids. More than enough to preclude blogging. But you have been missed. I always enjoy time spent with a kindred spirit, especially one not afraid to speak up, and commenters who, even when they differ, remain polite and thoughtful.

    There’s been so much religion in the news this week that I was doubly amused by your picture. A typical Easter picture for many. But what I saw immediately was absurdity: an imaginary bunny who hides eggs for kids and a guy who supposedly came back to life after being crucified. You’d think children would outgrow these tales at about the same time they outgrow Santa and the Tooth Fairy …

    Best wishes on the new job!

  5. Great column, Debbie. Thanks for all you do to make us non-believers feel less alone. Good luck on the new job, and I’ll look forward to reading whatever and whenever you have the time to write. -K.

  6. On another note, did anyone see the move “God is not Dead?” It failed to make any good credible arguments for the existence of God.

  7. Thank you for posting today Deb! I really needed a dose of sanity. It feels like an uphill battle just to tolerate the intolerance of my religious acquaintances and family. It feels like I’m drowning sometimes. I’m so thankful to know you and while I don’t usually need it, it’s nice to be reassured sometimes. Your voice is very much needed in our community.

  8. Thanks for the post, Deb. I know you are super busy but can hopefully post now and then. Maybe you can come a local Fellowship of Freethought or other group function soon!

  9. I LOVE your last line!!! Thanks for posting today. I don’t have my own kids, but find this site so useful for dealing with my nieces and nephews, especially during this time of the year. Thanks for reminding us that we’re all in this together.

  10. Just curious… are most of the regular readers and commenters on this blog in the Dallas area? I’m in Nashville, TN and wondering if there are any other non-believers in my area. They may be hidden, but I don’t know many in the mid South.

    • There is a meetup group in Nashville called the Nashville Atheists. Plus, if you look on meetup you will find several other meetup groups with secular names. I know nothing about any of them.

  11. Thanks for all the comments! It is soooo nice to hear from everyone.

    Kathy- There are also people from Colorado, North Carolina and California commenting today. There used to be a couple others here from TN. I don’t know if they read any more. I wish I could be of more help to you…

    Crystal–I visited the Fellowship of Freethought that Keith attends. Super-nice folks. Great for kids. It’s in Dallas off Hillcrest. Here is their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/fofdallas/info?tab=overview.

    Brian–I did not see that movie. I didn’t think I could stomach it….looked so corny.

    To everyone: Your words inspire me, too.

  12. Trust me, Deb, you are most certainly not a broken record at all. We are inundated with words, interactions and assumptions of theism every day, and your periodic posts are like flares of clarity and light that illuminate and bring me a sense of hope for a better future. You write with such a beautiful balance of warmth and wit, compassion and snark, practicality and idealism – your posts are a joy to read. Continued best wishes on your new job, and know that whenever time and circumstance give you the opportunity and reason to post something here, there will be many people around the world very happy to hear what you have to say.

  13. Debbie, a nice surprise to find your new blog post in my email box! I had just started to message you privately on Facebook because I have been thinking of you:) The reason being: I was thinking about the ‘new atheists’ that are making the news, garnering followers on Facebook. I had long ago unsubscribed from Richard Dawkins and in the past month I unsubscribed from Global Secular Humanists. The latter? They posted a false meme about Ted Cruz. I brought it to their attention. They never replied to me; never recanted the false posting and instead posted shortly thereafter yet another meme making the rounds about Cruz. Between these two sites, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of ‘new atheists’ are doing more harm than good — inciting hatred. Not really doing anything to try to help everyone to learn to get along.
    I have been tempted to check out various atheist meetups BUT I don’t want to sit around and talk about why I don’t believe in God. I would like to be around people who have the same world view I do, but if an atheist is an arrogant jerk, I’d rather be around a Christian who tries to practice what he preaches. And as I read many of the posts left by commenters on the above-mentioned sites, I see that many atheists are indeed mean and hateful people.
    SO … as others said, you may think you sound like a broken record, but I’ve always appreciated your balanced views where it is obvious that you come from a standpoint of love and kindness above all.

    • Hi Trishia! I have not been on FB much at all, so I haven’t seen all those memes and remarks. It is disheartening to see people tear each other down, though. We seem to be making great strides in technology, but not in other areas like relationships and problem solving. I was just telling someone tonight: you’d think that, as man has evolved, he (we) would have learned how to resolve conflict better.

  14. PS Did you know that Jews have a Matzo ball hunt as part of their Passover celebrations? I learned that from a crazy fun song sung by a ‘hip’ Jewish band to the tune of “Uptown Funk.”

    • @Trishia, it’s actually a half of a piece of matzo wrapped in a linen napkin, not a matzo ball, that is hidden by an adult before dinner and the children hunt for it after the Seder is over. (Hiding a matzo ball would be messy!) It is called the “afikomen” and even my late teen and early 20’s kids still get a kick out of competing with their cousins and siblings to find it.

  15. Thank you for the clarification, Kathy.

  16. Yay, I’ve so missed your blog, though I certainly understand why you’ve taken a break from it. I particularly like the last line with which you ended this post. So true.

  17. Ahhhh! So, so good to open my Feedly and see a new post from you! Even if you feel like a broken record, the things you write are important and meaningful. It is such a comfort – and I’m sure I speak for many – to read the writings of someone so like-minded about the topic of religion. I hope you’ll continue to write here whenever your busy life allows. Miss you, Deb!!

  18. I just want to say this article makes more sense then anything I have ever heard from any church. I honestly would love to show this to my religious family and friends but they would just try to crusify me( excuse the pun) if I did.

    I was raised religious and I was told to believe in this Easter story, Christmas story ext. I followed this religion because I was afraid. Afraid that if I didn’t I am going to hell. The more I tried to follow the rules the more miserable I became and because I was misserable I felt like I was a bad person so I tried harder, I tried to be a better person and I tried to convince more people that my way is the right way, and that everybody should be like me. It sounds ridiculous that anyone would be so stupid but I think now religion hurts people because it makes us try to follow some stupid rules instead of what’s most important in this life. Relationship s. Religion got in the way of my family and my relationships. If for no other reason then logic I left religion so I could begin working on the most important things in life, my family and friends and relationships.

    Just on a personal note: i decided to leave religion because of exactly what you have said in this article. If we use our brains religion is ridiculous. It divides people based on rules and beliefs. I don’t want to follow that God anymore. But I still believe in something, just not the angry religious God I was taught all these years. I now believe in relationships, with my girlfriend, kids, friends and co workers, and if I want to follow God I don’t need to follow a bunch of rules or religions, I get to make a decision that really has nothing to do with religion and in no way do I need to convince people my way is the right way. And now instead of teaching my kids to follow some ridiculous religion that I didn’t really believe anyways I am going to instead value life and relationships.

    I like to think, that if there is a God that He would be happier with relationships then any old religion any day

    Thank you again Debbie!

    Janitor Nate

  19. I am really excited to have found this blog! This was a great post! I look forward to reading more! Thanks for sharing your point of view.

  20. Charity Burke

    Hey Debbie, please let us know that you are fine. I’m concerned about what is going on in your part of the country.

    Be safe,
    Charity

    • Hi Charity! Thanks for checking in! Yes, my family and I are safe! A little soggy, but all is good here. Hope you are doing well, too!

  21. It is nice to hear from you no matter how far apart. Ain´t it funny how the religious holidays just happen to take place at or around old pagan holidays celebrating something more or less tangible 🙂

    Anyway – in a week we´ll be having Midsummer. Traditionally it is a drinkfest and thus rejoices all good Finnish traditions 🙂 Have a lovely summer!!

  22. Konsta – Good to hear from you! That sounds fun – a midsummer drinkfest! I need to visit! 🙂

  23. You know you´re welcome anytime 🙂 though I´d recommend either midsummer with sun never setting or midwinter with Aurora Borealis. Drinking is integral either way 🙂

  24. The picture you post of Jesus and the Easter Bunny caught my attention. One it looks like Jesus going to his crucifixion, when to me Easter Sunday is about the resurrection and the light and a day of celebration. Now some religions don’t like Easter bunny things and call that pagan, but I see nothing wrong with the Eater bunny. Kids should have fun on egg hunts and such. They don’t need to be wondering what it all means as kids. So I am for both, kids coloring eggs and being kids, and I’m also for morning has broken and for our deceased loved ones their sick, tired bodies may be dead, but their soul and spirit and energy are in a better place far beyond are limited minds and bodies can imagine. Not an old man in the sky, no, but beyond anything we can imagine. I do believe there is more to it all than Trump and Hillary and our money loving, money changing lives. There is more than just what we can touch and see. I have never seen a cold germ, but I have had colds. There is much more than our limited bodies can understand. …….I don’t think Jesus would have a problem with kids enjoying the Easter Bunny…….I’m all for both at Easter time…….Jesus to me is him giving us the 11th Commandment which is Love Thy Neighbor. Help each other, love each other. As I watch politicians lower themselves to insulting each others wives in a crude shameless fashion as their wives and the US deserve much better, and as I watch them build hate against Mexicans and building walls as 20th century Germany built hate against the Jews an built walls……I say Love Thy Neighbor is a good message. The problem is, many people call them selves Christians and praise Jesus, but do not and will not Love Thy Neighbor but are filled with hate. To say you love Jesus but hate your fellow man is a contradiction and for all they may preach, they do not follow the teachings of Jesus. …..Well, that said, again, I have no problem with Jesus or kids enjoying the Easter Bunny. I don’t think Jesus would meet someone entertaining kids by carrying the cross and the cross was only a few hours of his life, he stood for much more. Had they hanged him, would we have ropes on top of all churches. …NO, I think Jesus would not have the cross and would smile and at the person entertaining the kids in Love Thy Neighbor fashion……I think there is room to have the religious Easter and also the kids Easter and let them enjoy being kids for a few years.

    • Thanks, anonymous, for posting your thoughts. I agree with on several things, especially that we have to love our neighbors and that there is so much that humans do not understand. However, because we do not understand, does not mean the answer for what we don’t understand is God. I understand your analogy here: “I have never seen a cold germ, but I have had colds.” Under a microscope, you can indeed see cold germs. Under a microscope, you don’t see God. In fact, under a proverbial microscope, God disappears.

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