Sweet Jesus, this persecuted-Christian nonsense really pisses me off…
“It’s, well, Christmas all over again. The Grinch is trying to steal our holiday. It’s been so beautiful, the nation comes together, we sing Christmas carols, we give gifts to each other, we have lighted trees, and it’s just a beautiful thing. Atheists don’t like our happiness, they don’t want you to be happy, they want you to be miserable. They’re miserable, so they want you to be miserable. So they want to steal your holiday away from you.” — Pat Robertson, on The 700 Club, gearing up for another War on Christmas.
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I’m not a person of faith. I’m not militant about it, I don’t mock or ridicule people who do have a faith tradition they adhere to, I just don’t have one myself.
However, crap like that quote from Pat Robertson really, really pisses me off. Who the hell is he to ascribe me motives and emotions? He doesn’t know me. I’m about the least miserable and most charitable person you will ever meet, and my charity comes from a true and abiding desire to do the right thing and help people in need. No strings attached, no sermons to sit through, just a true desire to facilitate justice, no Jesus or magic sky wizard required.
In my house, we have Christmas; and we have Hanukkah, too. We bake, we gather together, we sing carols and give gifts. We also spin dreidels, make latkes and light candles. But beyond that, we also grab a Harvesters coupon at the grocery store every single time we check out and make a donation to those in our community who don’t have what we do.
My husband teaches at a Cristo Rey Catholic high school for far less money than he would make at a public school because he believes in the mission of the organization, and more importantly, he truly cares about – and believes in – the students in his charge. It’s amazing to run into former students either on college campuses or in the community and to see the look of awe on their faces when he remembers their names. Practically every time we leave the house, one of his students spots us and calls out “Hey Mr. Booth!” Sometimes when I’m out alone a student will recognize me and strike up a conversation so they can tell me what I already know – that I am married to the best man on the face of the earth, one who truly cares and always does the right thing, even when that’s the hard thing to do. Over the summer, one of his former students saw me from across the street and missed his bus just so he could come across the street to say hello and tell me that he was in college and an education major because he never had a male role model growing up, but “Mr. Booth gave me one, and I want to be like him.”
Did I mention that he’s an atheist, too?
And please don’t give me that “no atheists in foxholes” nonsense either, because I know its bullshit.
I spent most of the month of October in a neurological intensive care unit, getting my nutrition through a tube because I couldn’t swallow and I had wonky perception (sometimes the whole world was sideways) and no balance. I walked (unsteadily) with a walker and my muscles were weak and didn’t work.
And during that whole time, it never once occurred to me to pray. My faith was in the physicians and nurses and the allied professionals who were caring for me. It never crossed my mind to doubt or second-guess them, or “go behind their backs” to ask a mystical being for help.
That was the big test. A couple of weeks ago that hit me, and I told Tom that I now knew I had no doubt about my lack of faith and I told him why – that all the time I was in the hospital, it never occurred to me to beg a deity for help. He looked at me like he just had an epiphany and said “neither did I. But I never thought about it until just now.”
Pat Robertson and his ilk don’t get to define me, they don’t get to pretend they know me and what is in my heart, what I feel, what I care about or any other damned thing.
I am not “miserable” but contented, happy, secure and at peace. I don’t want to steal “their” holiday, because it’s not just theirs. It’s mine, too, and nothing makes my non-believer heart sing like the look on my granddaughter’s face when she opens a gift she really wanted – or when she spins a Gimmel and gets to take all the gelt from the pot.