Friday, January 15, 2010

Monthly update

It isn't that atheism embarrasses me. I live in Tennessee's state capitol, and as an urbane city dweller, one would think that one's fellow urbane neighbors would take any religious affiliation (or lack thereof) in stride.

But that's not how it is at my office. There, everyone's very proudly a non-denominational Christian. Scripture in email sigs, taped up on cubicle walls, passed along via loud discussions on Biblical interpretation.

So even though I'd decided I would proudly announce myself as an atheist if the conversation ever came up, I found myself quietly dancing around the fact.

"Have you guys found a church yet?" The woman who asks me is one of the nicest people I work with, but I've heard her disparagingly talking about non-religious people.

"Uh, no."

"What denomination are you?" Great. I'd been hoping my curt reply would end the conversation, but she's going to push it. So I decide to just put it on the table.

"I'm not."

"Oh, you're non-denominational? So am I! It doesn't matter what church you go to as long as you love the Lord. You do love the Lord, right?"

So now I'm in a bit of a quandary. The real answer to this question is mu, but I can't say that, because no one knows what it means. I could explain that I just don't believe in the Lord, but somehow it seems rude and confrontational. Then again, so's the whole conversation. So I take the lukewarm road, the worst road possible in a mixed metaphor, and say, "Uh... He's okay."

The woman looks bemused. "Well... does your wife go to church?"

"No, not really. We aren't really religious people."

"Well... you should come to church with me sometime." Then she wanders away.


  1. Great answer. Religion and spirituality are two different things. Next time someone invites you to their church or asks if you've found one yet you can reply with a sincere smile that you're set in the spirituality department, thanks for asking.

  2. Sorry, on thinking about that more, I didn't mean spirituality in the outside of oneself sense, but in our own self, coming from within. As in your own essence.

    My husband and daughter are Catholic and I support them but lean to Buddhist teachings myself. I too try to avoid answering questions about my "religion" because to me it's too personal to explain casually or in a work setting.

  3. That's exactly what I should've said :-) I know what you mean; when someone talks to me about what they think my perceptions of religion should be, it feels like someone standing right behind me. It's an invasion of personal space. Texas and Tennessee are similar in that it seemed that the majority of the people I met there had strong religious affiliations and felt affronted if I didn't share them.