The Friendly Atheist posted about how a Christian wrote to an atheist, Nadja, who had been murdered, over Facebook, asking if she was sorry now that she was meeting her maker. The Christian, Michelle, has since apologized, which you can read here. And I have a few things I want to say. First, comments like Michelle’s contribute to the toxic atmosphere that many atheists find themselves living in. Second, I don’t find Michelle’s apology sufficient, because I see no attempt from her to reach out to the people she has hurt to learn the reasons why what she said was so harmful. Further, she got a platform to air her version of events, but Nadja does not get a similar platform, and as for the millions of atheists living with such hostility that Michelle displayed to Nadja, well, Michelle decided to ignore them rather than listen to us.
Lately, my Christian husband has been attempting to make amends for being incredibly insensitive about how he handled baptizing our daughter. Short version, I told him that when he baptized her I did not want to attend, he told me he just wouldn’t baptize her, he then went and made arrangements to do so behind my back and I found out when his family asked me a question about a baptism that was happening the following week, which I knew nothing about. I wasn’t happy about the her being baptized period, and being lied to and finding out while surrounded by his family and being pressured by his family to go through with the baptism was painful, and one year later, I still haven’t forgiven Andy for how he handled this and have been on the verge of leaving.
I have a friend with a 3 year old, and every time I see that boy I can tell it’s just a matter of time before he gets an autism diagnosis. What baffles me is that despite pleadings from the 3 year old’s speech therapist and pediatrician to get him evaluated for autism, my friend insists that he is not autistic and that there is no need to have this done. Given that when Buddy was three I was jumping through hoops to get him screened just in case and I still feel bad and as though I didn’t do enough to get him in intensive services at an early age (Buddy was always right on that border where the diagnostician was worried about overdiagnosing him, until he turned 4 and the communication gap made it undeniable). My reasoning was it would be better to over treat him when he was younger than to delay and miss that golden time when the brain is most plastic and he would get the most benefit from therapy. Yet, it also really serves to show the difference between my worldview as an atheist and hers as an Evangelical Christian.
My grandmother died this morning. She was 89. We were expecting this. Hers was a slow decline that gradually robbed her of who she was, her mobility, and dignity. She’d gone into hospice last week, and considering how long this has been I thought she would linger in hospice for a few months. So even with all of this I was a little stunned when I learned she’d died this morning.
This morning I woke up when I heard my son, Buddy, playing the the living room. I left my room to greet him, and as I was helping him get dressed and ready with breakfast, my daughter, Sissy, came into the room. Once she was dressed and eating, and I heard my husband getting dressed in the bedroom, I asked them, “Do you want to go to the UU, a park, or church?”
My grandmother is going into hospice this week. I was expecting this, and feel prepared. I know she was ready to die three years ago when she first got sick, and I mostly hope that her suffering ends soon. I then turned to the task of trying to explain this to my autistic 6 year old and my 3 year old. I sat down once and told them that G.G.Ma was very sick and likely wouldn’t be with us for much longer, and it went over their heads. So as I was driving I thought that I should get a children’s book about death. I love reading to my children, and Buddy learns best when I read to him.
I was born in the early 80s, and my parents were at the forefront of a new phenomenon, atheists raising their children to be atheists rather than attempt to join a church community just for the belonging. From things I have read, what my parents did was rare, and most atheists at the time just buckled up and took their children to church for the socialization and community. Recently I met someone who is a few years younger than me whose parents were atheists but raised her Church of Christ for the community, and it is interesting to talk about our different experiences. I’ll call her Michelle.