A couple of atheist-related things happened this December.
First, I was interviewed by a graduate student doing his thesis on something about atheists' being the most distrusted segment of society. I think he was hoping for some horror stories; I had none to give him. No one has been rotten to me about my absence of faith (thanks, y'all!). But then again, atheists don't wear insignia or otherwise stand out on the street, so how would you know? Plus, I told him I have no designs on public office and really have nothing at stake, being an already outspoken stay-home mom type.
Let me tell you this, though: it was good to be able to speak openly with someone interested in the whole atheist experience. One of his questions threw me for a loop: it was something like, "How did you come to believe in atheism?" I don't "believe" in atheism; of all the -isms, it's the least -istic. But after making that clarification, I was happy to talk.
The other thing that stands out from the interview was not the observation he made, which others have made since I started this blog: that admitting one's atheism is like coming out of the closet for an LGB, as he put it. Rather, it was a related theory he postulated: that atheism is no more a choice than sexual orientation. I believe that's true.
Like an LGB, I could choose to continue to pretend. But it would be a lie, one that makes me feel like who I really am is wrong. I'm gratified that I don't feel the need to hide.
Second, I went to church. I know, right? My son and his friend were solo vocalists on Christmas eve, so I couldn't NOT go. Discounting some pervasive cognitive dissonance, it was a beneficial experience. I decided that with one fundamental exception, my underlying philosophy of living isn't too different from the priest's: it's about people, and how you treat them. Especially the tired, poor and humble. Everyone was really huggy afterwards, in the fellowship hall and on Facebook. It was cool. Thanks, Christians!
I have to admit, it's been a little strange this December not knowing if I should say, "Merry Christmas" to people--or really, whether I should say, "Thank you," when they say it to me. I mean, I'll tell a Jewish person, "Happy Hanukkah." Heck, I've said it to someone I thought was Jewish--twice, actually, before he corrected me. I don't need to correct people, right? My sister-in-law teased me for accepting Christmas presents; her exact taunt was, "Moral convictions be damned!"
Anyway. A merry month, even for a fledgling self-described atheist.