Reprieve From Guilt
|This came before we began soliciting for de-conversion stories, so we retroactively included it in the file of deconversion stories.|
My name is Melanie and I am a moderator and partner in Cygnus' Study. I have been reading through your site and am finding it very interesting. I need to spend more time with it- and will continue to do so. I'd also like to invite you to check out our site. Please visit us and we'll do some networking. :)
As for your two questions:
"Does your atheism impact your outlook on life? If so, describe how" and "Is your atheism the result of your outlook on life? If so, describe how" I guess I will be lazy and copy and paste my "deconversion" story from our site and hope it gives you a sense of what I believe (or don't, as the case may be!) Here it is -- linked from this board:
Melanie, Portland, OR
from the Discussion Boards and my partner in all things.
My father was Catholic, my mother Seventh Day Adventist. I am the youngest of 7 children -- and we all went attended mass and went to CCD. My mother did not convert to Catholicism and believed we should all form our own opinions about religion -- so when my father died when I was 6, we stopped going to church. Three of my sisters married Catholic men -- and I would occasionally go to mass with them -- but I never really bought it.
My mother remarried -- a non-practicing Mormon -- and my stepfather didn't care for my declaration of religious freedom. He thought me an indignant child -- and I suppose I was. For him, god was something that you did not stop to question -- but, fortunately, he left the issue alone with me. We only had one significant run in. I was 9 when I came to the full realization of what "god" was about and I concluded that it was something I did not believe in. It seemed a ludicrous concept to me. I was asked to say "grace" at a family dinner -- and I refused, saying that I would not "pray" to something that did not exist. I, of course, was sent to my room without dinner -- but the issue never really came up again. I didn't push it and they left me alone.
I began a journey of tentative exploration -- wondering what was out there and why I was here. I was 14 when I firmly settled into an existentialist reality -- but Catholicism still had a claw or two in me. I struggled with residual guilt and would spend large amounts of time considering my place in the universe. I ended up attending a Jesuit university -- and it was there that I finally had a breakthrough.
I had a "religious experience". Now, I use the term rather loosely -- as I know that a "religious experience" generally involves the "knowing of god" -- but everything I felt fits the requirements. I became friends with one of the priests at school. He is originally from Portland -- so he would occasionally come home for holidays and weekends- and would offer students a ride if they needed it. I came to Portland with him a couple of times- and we would have long talks about what I believed and what I felt.
Then -- during one of our talks in his office at school -- he said something that changed everything for me. He said that he believed that god respected my pursuit of truth and that I was using the intelligence that he had given me to find my way. What kind of god would give me this kind of intelligence -- and then ask that I not use it? What kind of god would bless me with logic and then ask that I reject logic in favor of faith?
Well, I doubt that "Father What-A-Waste" (that's what all the girls called him because he was a hottie!) expected that his words would have the effect that they did -- but what he gave me was a permanent reprieve from guilt. I was finally absolved of my Catholic curse and I was able to move on with my life. It changed things for me- gave me a new direction and a new confidence. I left the university and moved to Portland -- and have since devoted my time to living a life that exceeds any gods' expectations -- because my judgment of myself is far more relevant and rigid than any gods' could be.
So... I am an atheist who is at peace with who I am and what I believe. Because I am at peace -- I can accept others for who and what they are and I don't feel threatened by differing belief structures. It doesn't get much better than this.
Sam (Cygnus) and I live in Beaverton with my two children. Sam and I are planning to attend the Atheist/Humanist/Skeptic Symposium on July 29th and are looking forward to the event.
Hope to hear from you soon!
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