I’m starting to get cranky..

By | November 28, 2007

No, I AM cranky.

At first I thought the reaction to my mass column was simple concern for my lack of faith but slowly it has become apparent that I am being judged – yesterday I got a letter telling me I was a smart arse. Others closer to home are definitely not impressed. It’s like I said, instead of declaring a lack of faith in God and the fallacy of original sin, that I’m running off to India with my lover and the family can look after themselves until I’ve found myself…oh and I’m selling the house to fund my tour and they can go live with grandparents.

ALL I said was I don’t believe this stuff but for the sake of peace I’ll go along with it as far as the children are concerned. So, you don’t have me but you have my money and you can have the kids. But that wasn’t enough. If the judgment doesn’t stop, I’ll start getting more militant. What happened to the narrative that god-fearing catholics were being oppressed by the secular media? I’M the only one getting a hard time. Well I’m definitely not going back. I’m “out” now so it would be an insult to show up again. HE can bring them in future….

14 thoughts on “I’m starting to get cranky..

  1. thestudent

    The “secular media” phenomenon is much like the “War on Christmas” in the US – it’s a straw man set up by religious advocates to knock atheists and agnostics (or merely questionners).

    It’s interesting that someone has called you a smart arse. I am an atheist and the most regular accusation made is that I am arrogant. Which is bizarre.

    Religious people, in my experience, accuse non-believers of trying to ram non-belief down their throats while simultaneously trying to block the mouth of the non-believer in case anyone else might be listening.

  2. Johnny K

    Why are you bothered? Anyone who feels a need to judge you must not be very secure in their faith.

  3. thestudent

    That would seem to be the point.

    It’s like pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes but the rest of his subjects want you shut up.

    The above statement would be considered arrogant, no doubt.

  4. Sarah Post author

    Well with regard to being bothered someone diagnosed last week that I am clearly only at Stage 2 on Maslow’s pyramid. Peer recognition is still a concern. But I’m working on it. I’ll get to self-actualisation at some point.

    and yes, the letter writer said I had accused religious people of being simple minded which I hadn’t.

  5. Tomaltach

    I wouldn’t worry too much. I occasionally publish letters in the Irish Times or Indo and I’ve had a number of fairly beligerant calls from irate readers who disagreed. It’s in unfortunate thing that there are people out there who aren’t prepared to just disagree and either keep it to themselves or make a counterargument. They just get angry and react irrationally.

    Regarding the secular thing. I would say that most of my friends who are of my generation don’t practice their religion. And I would have to say that some of them have a fairly negative opinion about anyone who does. There is a judgemental thing going on. I have a small number of friends who are regular mass goers and one in particular who is quite religious. But personally I have no problem with that.

    So though some seculars/etheists are judgemental, I think they are probably less likely to react in a hostile manner if their value or belief system is attacked. A certain number of believers on the other hand, are quite, if you’ll pardon the word, dogmatic.

  6. Graham

    Sarah, I wouldn’t worry about it. Doesn’t their god teach them to be honest? Yet they are judging you for being honest. Also, doesn’t their god teach them to not judge, lest they themselves be judged? If they wish to continue being hypocritical, let them, you can rest assured that your intentions were just and right. Attending mass for the sole reason of taking a child who wishes to go is surely more in line with their religious belief than judging a non-believer for doing the same.

    I will say this, the one thing that i do like about organised religion is that almost all followers are completely hypocritical in their following, whereas I am 100% positive that I am leading my life as an atheist should. That gives me great pleasure.

  7. brian t

    Wasn’t me, honest! Not everyone has the luxury of living their lives in strict accordance with abstract principles, especially if those principles include not forcing those principles on others! I just think it’s important to try, which you are, and being honest about it too.

    I can’t claim not to judge others at all – then I would have no judgement of my own, at all – but when I read your “mass” story, I didn’t see any hypocrisy whatsoever. If I had kids I might be better-placed to comment, but I don’t, so I won’t. 8)

  8. Niall

    Well they might be annoying but you’d have to have been pretty green not to see it coming.

    You go to mass, presumably take communion, vow to raise your child as Christian, become a God-Parent, then reveal that you think that it’s all fantasy…

    It’s possible to openly attend mass as a non-believer without offending anyone’s sensibilities, but that does not involve acting as though you were.

  9. Dermot


    I’ve had a few letters in the Irish Times that have drawn the green ink brigade. The real problem is you’re challanging people sense of self. And people react very badly to that. Its the valley of the peeping windows version of the taliban, a tongue lashing rather than a physical lashing but the intent is the same. They’ll not forgive you for raising the akward questions. And you have asked and answered some very akward questions. I think that example of integrity will be more important to you and your kids than the rote palatitudes of much of what passes for believers. I’m in danger of going on a rant so I’ll shut up. Maybe we should start a group. “We don’t believe and we don’t care” :-)


  10. Dermot

    p.s. just saw this in Pat Ingoldsby’s new book ‘can I get in the bath’

    Love the same God as me or I’ll kill you.

    kinda sums it up

  11. Sarah Post author

    hmm thanks Dermot. Niall, I’m confused. I think people have a right to be pissed off if I was showing up at mass ( I didn’t take communion btw) and that my subsequent public declaration that I thought it was rubbish made a mockery of them. But it was a once off – I hadn’t been there in at least a year, if not more. And I think what they are really upset about is the fact that I just don’t believe it.

    HOWEVER I should say I got two lovely notes as well from people (both men) who seemed genuinely worried about me. So not all religious people are judgmental…

  12. Niall

    Sounds a tad odd alright Sarah. Hopefully the letters get published so we can all see them. Given the sheer number of columnist who may reference to the fact that they’re not believers, these letter writers must be very busy!

    Do these letters come direct to you, or to the editor?

  13. sang

    “ALL I said was I don’t believe this stuff but for the sake of peace I’ll go along with it as far as the children are concerned.”

    I have a nagging suspicion that this precise attitude is far more common than most people are prepared to admit….which may be the reason for the strong reactions.

    In my own extended family, baptism of children with non-believing/non-active Christian parents are endemic. Some are Catholics, some Anglican…all the children were raised more or less secular.

    Sometimes the attitude to baptism was: just is case…:)

  14. MDLN

    The way you’re bringing up your kids does not necessarily make you a hypocrite, and is condoned by members of the Church. They’re just not going to shout about it, and will probably distance themselves anyone who does.

    I know someone who’s a returned missionary, having spent the guts of 45 years working in Africa with a religious order. Over lunch one day, we got to talking about my own faith (or absence thereof), and the fact that on Sunday you can usually find me anywhere but in Church.

    The response: “Why do you feel so guilty about it?”
    My answer: “Thou shalt keep holy the sabbath day.”
    The retort: ” The Ten Commandments? Sure, that’s just Old Testament Jewish nonsense.”

    Cue a lively debate on the place of religion nowadays in a world of spiralling morals, and this person’s strong belief that religion’s strongest selling point was as a framework for teaching children the concept of ethics, which cannot exist in a vacuum. But as for Mass and the whole actual system of belief, very little was said that day.

    When one works at the coal face, it’s hard to be romantic about fire, I suppose. This person had been at a distance from the dogma and the doctrine, putting religion to its best use. Empowering women, educating children, and improving lives. Not simply seeking out hollow converts.

    I’d rather see people have a little more faith in humanity, and be given a reason to have that faith. Is that not the greatest goal of all? If we would all go to our death beds saying we did our best to improve people around us, to make life better, we may find that we are ushered into heaven regardless of creed, if heaven does in fact exist.

    Incidentally, I stopped going to Mass because of a lack of faith in the people on the altar, not the man hanging on the cross above it. I found myself enraged at pontificating sermons that made no effort to connect religion with real life other than offering faint platitudes. Perhaps it’s because I’m a journalist, but when the people communicating the word of God can’t communicate worth a damn, I’ll look for divine inspiration elsewhere.

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