I Am Afraid

There’s still a t-shirt somewhere in my drawer that has a few spots of my boyfriend’s blood on it. He was attacked earlier this year and, in the hospital, I gave him a hug, staining my clothes.

Violence against gay people is not a new thing, but it is relatively new to me. I’ve grown up in a city that has a reputation for being rough. I would always hear jokes when I was smaller about how people from Liverpool were violent, thieves, or both. I think it bothered me occasionally but never that much. Mostly, I was confused because the Liverpool I knew was just a normal city. I never used to feel unsafe walking alone at night (hello, male privilege) and I’ve barely even witnessed a crime, let alone been the target of one.

Perhaps it was all the nice laws that we passed, the people like me who are open about their lives in the media, or maybe I was just ignorant of the fact that I’m in potential danger every moment I’m in public, but I thought we were 100% safe unless a stray asteroid came plummeting our way.

I’m a human being. I can be with other human beings. I’m allowed, by law, to live my life. But I’m not necessarily a safe human being. And maybe this isn’t a new fact, but it’s news to me and I’m actually scared now. Every law that I could wish for could be passed and this still wouldn’t stop me or those I love coming to harm should we irritate the wrong person.

I can’t even justify being as scared as I am, due to the fact that guns are essentially non existent in this country. A horror such as Orlando is orders of magnitude less likely to occur in the UK and I’m somewhat relieved about that. But when I walk down the street hand in hand with a guy I love, every single one of you is, to me, a potential threat. Schrödinger’s Attacker, if you will.

And it’s not just because my boyfriend was assaulted – my cousin was too, in a completely separate incident, but for the same “reason”. I stop holding hands when we walk near groups of rowdy guys. We’ve even stopped apologising to each other about that now. We’ve had things shouted at us, I’ve had to stand my ground while some upstart teenager tried to intimidate me (an utterly bizarre experience), and yes – I notice every double take that we get. When was the last time you felt scared to show affection on an empty public street? For me it was today.

All of this is small stuff in comparison to last weekend, or to the number of trans people killed in the US this year alone, to the LGBT people murdered by ISIL, or the struggles of those in the past who fought for rights I now take for granted.

Yet all of the things I experience are still worrying. If I’m not anywhere near as safe as I thought I was, then what exactly do I do about this? Is there anything that can be done at all? Does anyone else care?

I have always known that there are people out there who would hurt me if they could. But until now I assumed that this was close an impossibility – on a par with the knowledge that bubonic plague would kill me if I caught it. But now the threat level, as it were, has been raised not just for me but for all of my people. Not least, the people of colour in my community who made up almost the entire list of the dead in Orlando.

In the wake of the Paris attacks last year, my news feeds on Facebook and Twitter were saturated by those who poured out their love. There’s good reason to think that I saw more of these posts than most, seeing as how I’m a French graduate with friends who live in Paris and around France, and other friends who have more Parisian acquaintances than I can count.

Yet this weekend, the lack of comment by those outside the LGBT community about these multiple hate crimes (not to mention the foiled attempt to murder more people at LA Pride) has been more than conspicuous. A few months back, every single profile picture was overlaid with a French flag. A useless token gesture, perhaps, but a gesture nonetheless. I can’t help but notice the glaring absence of certain demographics from any mention of Orlando.

No you don’t all have to write weepy statuses, tweet your condolences, or change your pictures. But when none of you do, we can’t help but notice.

Maybe I’m overreacting. I probably am actually – giving into fear and all that. But we, as a community, are hurt, and I can count the mentions of it by straight people on my fingers. I can count the mentions by my Christian friends on one hand. And no, not the full hand.

I still wear the t-shirt sometimes. I think it’s some Fault In Our Stars-esque metaphor* in which I wear something that bears the symbol of hurt, but I feel stronger for it now being unable to hurt me. In any case, I live in genuine fear that there will be more blood on my clothes by the end of this year and this is becoming normal to factor into my thinking. However this will not stop me going to Pride festivals or gay clubs, holding hands, or being conspicuously homosexual right in your face in the middle of the street. Yes I am more scared now than I was last week, and maybe I’m less scared than I will be next week, but while right now this rules my feelings, I cannot let it rule my actions.

Let us be kind to those we don’t understand. If Orlando has shown me anything, it is that I am deeply saddened at how divided we truly are. A refusal to acknowledge each other’s pain does not help it go away. We weep with those who weep because the killing of just one innocent person is like the killing of the entire world.

 

*“[Cigarettes] don’t kill you unless you light them,” he said as mom arrived at the curb. “And I’ve never lit one. It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” The Fault In Our Stars – John Green

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Why I Am An Optimist

Optimism-Breeds-OptimismMy previous month of no news was certainly interesting. I’d call it informative, but the truth is I’ve enjoyed being far less informed than usual. I have no idea what’s happening in Ukraine (there were rumbles of a nuclear accident?), no clue where the fight against ebola has progressed (though I’m guessing you don’t know either as no new white people have been infected), and I know diddly squat about UK politics for the month of November – I count this as no big loss.  It’s not as if I managed to stay news-sterile for 30 days though. I read the occasional headline on reddit, and tumblr came alive with the anti-racist police (or is that anti racist-police) riots and protests that have erupted across the USA, but generally I’m out of the loop. And I feel great.

Sure – go ahead – bury your head in the sand, Andy. Cut yourself off from all the crazy that isn’t happening to you and you’ll feel fine! Well, now that you mention it, that’s a pretty sound idea. What do I gain from reading about the murder of children, violent disease, extra taxes, paedophile MPs, civilian casualties, and the Islamic State? A burning anger? Over tweaked paranoia? A general sense of dread? All of the above and more, I’d imagine.

This all weirdly coincided with a tiny life event that made me realise what it is I really want. Or at least, one thing I truly value in people. I had to genuinely ask someone to be nice to me. He was so caught up in his (admittedly humorous and expertly crafted) put-down jokes – I believe the kidz call it “banter” – that he had forgotten that a human resided at the barrel end of his quips. No, I don’t think he’s a bad person. Yes, he was nice generally and had a nice face, but I think when you have to ask for someone to be nice then you’re on the tail end of whatever it is that’s happening.

We love negativity as a species. We LOVE it. Thrive on it, crave it, create it, and despise positivity. We then wonder why so many of us end up with brains hard-wired to think the worst and to ignore the happiness. As a guy who’s a sarcastic dick at heart, I want to just throw my two pence out there and reveal my life changing choice: I am going to try my best to be nice, to reject unkindness, and aim for joy.

I only have one life. And my one drive is to make sure I am happy.

And here I reveal that – hold onto your hats – we as humans can think and believe two opposing things at the same time. I can be positive and not be in denial that bad things happen.

Exhibit A: Tom Cruise is great and I love him. Tom Cruise is also awful and I never want to be near him. Exhibit B: Alcohol makes me feel great therefore I love it. Alcohol makes me feel awful, therefore I hate its effects. Exhibit C: Nobody cares about politics. Everybody cares about policies that affect them. Exhibit D: Nobody likes taxes. Everybody likes what they pay for. I could go on.

Yes it is possible to choose the positive over the negative and not ignore things. I mean hey, most of you choose the negative over the positive and you’d never accuse yourselves of the same short-sightedness. And why on earth is it so jarring to choose to err on the positive side of things? If the two sides are equal in importance (or at least in prevalence) then why is it that I seem to suddenly be going against the grain? Am I mad? Quite possibly. But I believe I have a duty to myself to stay in the healthiest frame of mind possible. Negativity does not help me in this.

And here’s where my writing runs into a conundrumatic* wall. To continue with my train of thought will be to delve into the negative, to berate, to decry, to be negative about negativity. How do I get my vague point across without becoming preachy? Without being just another whiny internet commentator mewling “Why can’t everyone just be nice?”. I think the answer is simply to inform you of my decision, and leave you to think what you want. My guess is that you dislike being told what to do as much as I do anyway.

Perhaps we’re all just different. Shocker, I know. But if I make one person feel a smidge better by not telling them why the thing they like shouldn’t really be liked, then I think this makes me happier than informing the plebeian masses on how right I am about everything. After all, you’re probably tired of hearing that from me by now.

So that’s it. I’ve been a negative person for too long. Perhaps this is my official conversion to optimism or something, and I have no intention of regressing. I now value kindness as the most valuable human trait, not excellent sarcasm. I’ll read about things that make me happy, over things that make me sad. And while I’ll keep a vague eye out over what’s going on – I want to know what happens with 2015s UK elections and 2016’s US elections (come on Elizabeth Warren!) – and I’m not going to avoid all news sources like I did, I think now I’ll just not be a slave to them.

Yes, negative cynicism can be funny. But positivity makes me happy. I know which side I’ll choose.

 

*Yes, that’s a new word. You may use it. 

Quit Your Jibber Jabber

language-learningThere’s a weird fight going on in my brain. In the blue corner we have my love for languages, linguistics, the life-like way they evolve and merge and adapt, grammar and its complexities, and the depth and colour that words can add to simple ideas, not to mention learning the different pallets of other languages and cultures. And in the red corner I kinda want endangered languages to die out, and quickly please. In fact, if we could go ahead and execute the severely endangered and other imperilled forms of speech that would be just grand.

For those of you who love languages and linguistics, I’m picturing a look of revolted horror on your faces right now. And yes, I do feel that I am somehow betraying some ancient oath taken by all linguophiles to preserve all speech and do no harm, but I also can’t drum up enough will to actually care.

Some of you may be unfamiliar with the concept of language endangerment so let me explain to you. Out of the earth’s 7000 languages (you never knew there were that many did you?) it is believed that half of them will be extinct by the end of the 21st century. By the year 2100 we as a species will have flying cars* but only 3500 languages. A language dies when all of its speakers, but not necessarily all of the ethnic group who traditionally speak it, kick the bucket. Some of the more common examples are many of the Native American languages. Lots of the young Native Americans have English as their first language and may not speak Sioux, or Apache, or whatever language their tribe uses at all. If they do speak it, it is often only to older people in their family groups and they sometimes resent using the language as it makes them feel like outsiders in their own social groups (high-school is an awful place to be different). Thus, the mechanics of sociolinguistics slowly drive a language into the grave and there are none alive left to use it. They are as dead as latin doornails.

So why am I so keen that these languages, and therefore much of the cultures attached to them, die out? Well… I love globalisation. The idea that in the future we will be one planet and one nation (so to speak). The higher goal of attaining peace (or at least prickly tolerance) the world over is such a fantastic idea. Now, don’t worry I’m not going to lie in bed, let my hair grow, and stay there until all wars end. I’m not naive enough to actually believe that world peace is remotely achievable anywhere in the near future. Call me pessimistic but place a bet and I’ll win. Yet the concept of uniting as many people as possible into a peaceful community is essentially what I dream of. Jeez this got very hippy-ish all of a sudden didn’t it?

Not that people can’t be peaceful and cooperative if they speak different languages. Look at us and the French. We hate their collective guts (and they ours) but we get along just fine and haven’t bombed each other in quite a while. But to me, there is so much conflict that boils down to simple cultural differences or beliefs. In my mind it makes sense that eliminating as much potential cause for struggle and strife is a good thing.

Yet the more I think about it, the more I think that this makes me more than a little racist (but hey – everyone’s a little bit racist). Get rid of those funny foreign languages! My language is one of if not the least endangered in the world and I don’t have to worry about anything. I’m advocating the elimination of hundreds (if not thousands) of years of the slow growth and evolution of a speech system. Not to mention the culture that inevitably gets folded into the mix along the way.

Then again, this is how languages work. They are much like living things in this respect. They evolve, change, adapt, and grow. And when met with insurmountable evolutionary obstacles (meteors, colonisation, western expansionism into rainforests etc) they die. Now as much as I adore pandas, I do have to admit that the arguments for spending as much money as we do on protecting a species that has clearly not been paying attention to the basic tenets of Darwinism are weak at best. (If you choose to eat nutritionally devoid food, don’t want to screw, and live solitary lives – YOU’RE GOING TO DIE!) Surely some of the same arguments can be applied to languages? If a culture is so marginal in the face of expanding civilisation (think tribal bush languages in Papua New Guinea) then it is literally inevitable that they will gradually fade. While this is undeniably sad for many reasons, is it worth expending effort in protecting something that will eventually die out? These languages are so minute, their practitioners often elderly, that simply keeping them for the sake of keeping them is meaningless.

Oh I don’t know. Truth is: my opinion matters not at all. Things will take their course and languages will die over time. Perhaps this will add to the gradual creeping towards world… togetherness (peace is too fanciful an idea) and bring us together more as a species. Perhaps you just have to be fat, cute, black and white, and addicted to bamboo to warrant a full scale preservation effort.

*I actually think that flying cars are a stupid idea that will never actually come into common use. While we may invent the technology in the near future, actually equipping as many people who drive cars with flying machines just seems stupid. Will there be air roads? What’s to stop the occasional car falling from the sky and smashing into a house? Any accidents wont just kill the drivers but the people down below. Judging by the fact that there are, on average, 6.5 MILLION car collisions each year in the US alone, having that amount of death raining down is simply batshit crazy. I think the dream of flying cars will be seen much like the past dream of turning lead to gold. Sure, we now have the technology to do it, but it’s expensive and pointless.

Zen And The Art Of Mythological Maintenance

ZenPerhaps it’s my hesitant dabblings in yoga and that one time I managed to properly meditate*, or maybe it’s just I finally stopped caring about making sure everyone knows I’m right all the time, but I’ve slipped into an incredibly Zen way of life and thinking these days. Ok so I’m using Zen in the sense that I’m a placid lake of happy-go-luckiness who just rolls with the punches rather than a student of the 6th Century strain of Buddhism. But I’m sure you get the picture. Things just seem not to matter as much any more. Not that I’m becoming deadened to emotion or anything, I mean more that I’ve chosen not to care as much about things that I can’t change or things that get me nowhere in life.

Now I still geek out excessively. If you want to see me animated then just mention the upcoming Star Wars films in my presence. Words cannot hope to faithfully describe just how gosh-darned PUMPED I am for those things. Same with most geekery across the board if I’m honest. I enjoy being slightly manic when I feel like it. I still get worked up when the moment calls for it. Truth is though, I’ve realised that very few moments do call for it.

I guess it was a side-effect of being 18 and intelligent that I felt the need to hammer home just how correct I was and how wrong you all are at every available opportunity. It’s fun being right – I still believe that (ask any of my exes – I am an irritable correction freak) and I enjoy knowing stuff and churning out interesting facts to people – it’s just not a driving force of my life any more.

Some of you may remember my tempestuous departure from Christianity that went down a couple of years ago. I was an arrogant cynic who felt so intensely angry at so much about my previous life and I felt that I should be angry at someone but I had virtually no individuals to pin my butt-hurt intellect on. As a friend of mine commented “It’s just so hard because for twenty two years I’ve had this utterly amazing imaginary friend and now I have to come to terms that he’s just not there listening any more”.

I spent far too long reading as much as I could about how silly the very notion of God was. What fools! Hahahaha – look at those religious LOSERS! Tell you what, while it may be wrong to pick on a group of people for what they believe, it is undeniably fun. But yes, I was an insufferable prick.

And then came along the realisation that none of it actually mattered. Yes, I’d stopped believing in God, and yes, it was a big woop. Yet after the cosmic dust settles on the theological headstone I’d fashioned for good old Yahweh, I realised that nobody cared. Perhaps it came from my evangelistic days where I was used to going out and shoving my opinion in other people’s faces, or it could be that I just felt proud of my achievements in besting what I had believed to be the ultimate power in the universe, but just how people are awkward around the shouty men in the street who talk about how I’m going to Hell, people get annoyed at people who feel it their mission in life to pounce on any vague theological argument. People want to be able to think what they think without jarring flap-mouthed loons weighing in with their two-cents.

It’s funny actually. The times when I was most spoiling for a fight, I was sending out all the signals that I was singularly the worst person to engage in any sort of meaningful debate about higher things. Simply from an intellectual point of view I wanted to have a debate about atheism and Christianity – I still do in fact – but being a furry little ball of self-righteous rage, all my Christian friends exercised the wisdom of Solomon and stayed away, far far away. I honestly think that was the best call. Thank you all for not allowing me to embarrass myself. I’ve enough moronic moments in my life to deal with already without adding more.

But the worst part is that I never got to have a sensible conversation about things I truly wanted to talk about. I honestly don’t think that anyone of my Christian friends has any idea why I now don’t believe that God exists, and that’s weird considering the fact that I can rattle off the reasons and life events that led many of them to believing in God, and then sort more of them according to denomination and how many points of Calvinism they adhere to.

Perhaps I’d like that debate now. Over a drink somewhere – not on the internet. Internet arguments are without question the worst forum in which to try and talk to someone about anything serious. But then again, I’ve realised that it honestly doesn’t matter. This whole Zen thing has mellowed me out to the point where I know exactly what I believe and I’m comfortable with it. So comfortable in fact, I can listen to people talking about things that fly brazenly in the face of my godless sensibilities, and decide that none of it is worth a fight. You’re my friends and family and I don’t want to push any more of you away because of which books we like to read.

Zen truly is the way to live. Everything is better, everyone is lovely – if you just give them a chance, and the world seems brighter. Though that may just be the new light bulbs we bought for the kitchen – those things are brighter than the sun.

*It was out of this world. I felt like Yoda, Gandalf, and Professor X all rolled into one.

On Thatcher And Etiquette

Margaret Thatcher's papersMargaret Thatcher, the first and only female British Prime Minister is dead. There’s a saying I often hear in regard to Thatcher and it goes something like this: “Depending on who you are, Margaret Thatcher is either God or Satan”. I’m not a massive fan of branding famous people in such Marmite-esque diametric terms but it seems that with Maggie, this is somewhat true.

And so it can come as little surprise that on the occasion of her death, some people are sad and others are having a party with fireworks to, as one of my Facebook friends put it, rival the ending of Return Of The Jedi. The second of these reactions I fail to understand.

I mean, I hate just about everything that woman did when she was in power, and I was only alive for a year of it. I disagree on just about every point with Conservatives in general and Maggie was the greatest of them and so it stands to reason that I would quite happily happy slap her, but why have a party when she’s dead?

Now I’m not on a “respect the dead” rant because I struggle to logically justify that position. What I’m questioning is why people are partying now. Is Margaret Thatcher less of a political threat now she’s gone? Was she breathing threats and devising elaborate schemes to further impoverish the poor yesterday? No. The truth is, that Margaret Thatcher, an elderly lady who suffered from dementia, was no more of an influential figure alive than she is dead. Her time has been and it went many years ago. The party should have been in 1990.

You can whine about hurting her family’s feelings, or quote that you don’t rejoice in the death of anyone (though I find it hard to believe as I for one breathed a sigh of relief upon learning of the deaths of Osama Bin Laden, Col. Gaddaffi, and Kim Jong-Il) but the real mystery is why people are making this a bigger deal than it is. All that has happened is that a previously immensely powerful, influential, and divisive political figure who retired from professional life many years ago and eventually grew less and less herself due to illness, has finally and quietly ceased to be. The main show was over before I even knew there was a show.

Anyway, as much as I disagreed with Lady Thatcher’s ideals, I honestly have to hand it to her for being the first woman to smash through the glass ceiling, defy the patriarchy, and lead our country. That, ladies and gentlefolk, takes balls.

Game On

DiceI think one of the most revelatory moments for me was when I decided to embrace the concept of imagining life as one big game. Not a game where there are winners and losers like Monopoly (though if it were Monopoly I just know I’d be the guy clinging to the hope that although I only owned The Angel Islington, putting a hotel on it would make everything better. Also, I wouldn’t have my first choice of counter – I’d be the sodding wheelbarrow) but instead, I imagine life as one big MMORPG.

MMORPG stands for Massive Multiplayer Onine Role Playing Game. It’s basically for nerds and geeks (and that is fine and I embrace both these terms) but it is essentially life. With magic. On the internet. I feel any extended definition of an RPG is rather redundant I’m afraid.

To illustrate what I mean: Everyone is equal, we all start at the same point, though some people tend to go about things with the wrong attitude. Most people just play to bumble along and advance their story while completing sidequests like mastering a second language, learning to water-ski, and baking cakes just for fun. There are those who take advantage of the newer, less experienced and naive but those are frowned upon. The objective is not to win but rather to play out your particular story and get better and stronger along the way.

To be honest, I could continue to extend the analogy forever but for those of you who play RPGs you already get what I’m on about, and for those of you who don’t then I think I’d only bore you.

In short, while serious things may happen, taking life less seriously than most is a liberating experience. Regarding everyone as entirely equal takes some work but it makes for a better user experience. And when things get a little more difficult in life, it’s rather comforting to think that it’s only because you’ve managed to level up.

Sheesh this blog seems a little heavy. But then again its content isn’t. I think what’s moved me to writing this is that because of how I look at the world, I am increasingly puzzled by those who take things oh-so-seriously and don’t seem to realise that everybody else is just bumbling along the same as them and, in the words of Liz Lemmon: “I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich”.

But then again there’s absolutely no use pretending that we all don’t whip off our clothes and dance like we’ve just won the bleeding lottery every once and a while. Even saying “every once and a while” is also a humongous untruth because we all know that we’d do it every second of every waking minute of every day if we thought we could get away with it. Well, that and sex. But even then, that is just the no-pants-dance done by two people instead of one. And so in a way, finding a partner with whom you can settle down and live a long life of glorious lovelness with is essentially the quest to discover somebody willing to strip off their clothes and move their limbs quasi-rhythmically (we are all not so gifted as the young Thomas Cruise is in the video below) in time to the universal music of unadulterated pleasure. Even if it does happen to be adultery.

Why I Am An Atheist

Now there’s an eye grabbing title.

This is a long blog. There’s a one sentence synopsis at the end if you want it.

As a sort of preface, I do have to say that while some of you may wonder why I bothered writing this given my love of keeping private life choices private and not intruding on others’ beliefs, I have to say that I just needed to. I need to get this out of my system, (the explanation, not the atheism) and not have to be afraid of explaining myself every time I bump into an old Christian friend. I’m writing this as a notice, like handing a note to the teacher excusing me from PE, so that I can assume that people now know where I stand and so not have to worry about awkward conversations and having to discuss which Bible translation is best or whatever. So here it is people, how I went from happy clappy Jesus lover to a godless hell bound atheist. I jest. There is no hell.

But I guess, I have to start by saying that I’m not sure I’m an atheist. Perhaps agnostic would cover me better but I hate the word’s connotations. To me it smacks of an ambivalence, or simple disinterest and ignorance of the issues and that’s certainly not the case. I don’t believe in God but there are a few things I’ve seen in my time of God-squadding that puzzle me into allowing, at the very least, a slight divine foot in the door. Not the God of the Bible though, especially the one preached in any church I’ve been to. So yeah, let’s just call me an atheist and be done with it.

Leaving church was hard. Really hard. I hesitate to say it’s the hardest thing I’ve done (though this one time I did once manage to drop toast and have it land butter side up) but it comes somewhere near the top of the list. For me to not just take a break from it, as I intended, but to utterly abandon and now totally reject everything I’ve been taught from birth is no walk in the park. Nor is it a decision made overnight or in reaction to any single issue. I liken it to my coming out of the closet – it happened over a period of months and it sucked just as much, if not more.

Explaining that I didn’t leave church because I’m gay is a conversation I’ve had to have far too often. I didn’t leave church solely because I’m gay. Sure, it was quite a significant factor, but I left church because I hated church.

I hated church because every Sunday before I walked through the big blue double doors I had to change myself in order to feel even remotely accepted and at home. This is not the fault of the particular church I was at or the majority of the people there but instead it was just because I didn’t believe what everybody was there to believe in. Now while church is obviously a place where people go in order to change – it’s all about being made more like Jesus which is a rather good goal in my opinion – you’re supposed to be changing in reaction to the teaching, in your discoveries of God and how much you want to be as loving, and good, and holy as he is. I changed because I knew if I happened to voice my opinions I would be quietly taken aside and told that I was wrong and needed to repent. I would be pointed in the direction of different courses and conferences I could go on to re-educate myself. I would be looked at like I’d just said I think all babies should be ritualistically slaughtered instead of “I think it’s up to the mother not the government whether she wants to have an abortion or not”. My stance on politics was tolerated up to a point but my advocacy of a French-style secular society where people were free to believe whatever they wanted as long as it was in the privacy of their own homes, would have been shot down in flames. And if I even thought about suggesting that we stop trying to get people to be Christians and just be nice and hope people notice the radical change, I’d have had countless Bible verses branded on my eyelids or something. And when it really came down to it, I just think that it’s totally crazy for one person to tell another what they think they can and can’t do.

When you have to steel yourself for a weekly activity that should bring everlasting peace and eternal joy in your soul, something’s not quite right. I realised that I believed virtually nothing of what was taught in regards to Christian “morality” and living. I liked that Jesus bloke and some parts of the Bible are amazingly comforting and beautiful but it all kind of stopped right there. So I decided to take a break. If there really was a “God shaped hole in the heart of man” then I’d feel the ache and need to get back to church.

What I found instead however, was that almost all Christians had one of three reactions. Confusion, pity, or ambivalence. Confusion generally turned into simple denial with people not understanding what I was quite clearly saying. “I don’t want to go to church any more” was countered with “Why don’t you come to our church instead?”, “I believe that people can do what they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else.” earned replies along the lines of “But that’s not what the Bible says!”. So what? I don’t believe the Bible! Pity was the more annoying one however as people assumed that I’d become mentally deficient and that I’d see the error of my ways soon enough – I obviously knew I was wrong deep down. Nope, I think you’re a loony and I hate just about everything about Christianity, better luck next time. Ambivalence ranged from being exactly what I wanted (who wants everyone everywhere asking what your religious views are?) to being incredibly hurtful. Those who I would have expected to actually give a damn about my damnation barely batted an eyelid. As odd as it sounds, I would have really appreciated one or two people going out of their way to talk to me about how I felt instead of the multitude of people who crawled out of the woodwork to tell me exactly where I was going wrong. Greater love has no man than this eh?

But what really kills me is that the Bible says that “by their fruits you will know them” as in, you’ll know they love Jesus cos they exhibit his characteristics. If the above verse is true then I know of very few Christians. The Christianity I see preached is moralistic garbage that is harmful to all who hear it. I can hardly believe I spent 23 years lapping it up.

The feeling of betrayal is one I’m still trying to shake if I’m honest. Christians have said the worst things to me, and said it all with a smile on their face. Apparently, you can say anything you want, no matter how hurtful it is, if it’s “in love”. Being told point blank things like: “You need help” (church leader), “You know you’re just wrong yeah?” (close friend), having numerous rumours circulated about me*, are just some things to make me think that maybe this “holy spirit” I hear so much about doesn’t exist or simply does a crappy job of changing people. Now of course nobody is perfect and I can’t expect everybody to be angelic all the time, but when the people who are decent human beings are in the minuscule minority of all the hundreds of Christians I know, I begin to see a pattern of baloney emerging.

Then I come to the science. This may come as a shock to some of you, but until very recently, I was a young earth creationist. “There are no transitional fossils” I would parrot. Yet there are in fact thousands. Even ones of fish with legs that crawled out of the sea. One look at the Wikipedia page for that quickly shattered my illusions and gave me a healthy dose of reality. Also, if the earth is that young, then the pyramids were built around 100 years after Noah’s flood. Seeing as how only 8 people were supposedly on the ark, they must have been really busy! I could go on but there’s no point. While this paragraph may seem like common sense to most of you, it’s all new for me. Talk about feeling like a prize idiot.

God seems to me, from my extensive reading of the Bible, and years of listening to preaching, to be capable of doing no wrong. He just gets other people to do it for him. He commands the Israelites to murder women and children in the Bible (only a few pages after telling them that murder is sin). The Bible he “inspired” is a book that is able to be manipulated in so many different ways that you can literally make it say anything you want to. If there were a God, one who was all knowing and who saw the future, you’d think he’d tie off a few open ends so that we don’t spend years thinking that it’s totally fine to have slaves, sell daughters, kill people who don’t believe the same as you, oppress women, and suppress science. If the Bible is God’s word and is “breathed out” by God then give him a tic-tac because it reeks of injustice, rape, murder, and pure evil. Just think. One explicit verse like “Thus says the Lord: ‘Oh and by the way, women are totally equal to men, and don’t have slaves'” would have saved literally millions of lives.

And it’s not as if I don’t know all the counter arguments and ripostes some of you are so eager to throw my way. I know literally every point you want to make because I spent years making them myself (so please spare me the boredom of trawling through the comment section saying the same thing). Having studied the Bible in depth, having been to numerous churches of multiple denominations, having prayed in earnest for God’s goodness, having waited to hear his voice, having believed with my whole heart, I now wholeheartedly and without reservation reject Christianity and its implications as morally repugnant, utterly evil, and without a doubt one of the biggest loads of bullshit this world has ever witnessed. Kudos to the guys who pulled the wool over our eyes though, that takes balls.

I have no intention to return to church. I have no desire to hear that you’re praying for me. If there is a God, he will bring me back right? That’s the fifth point of Calvinism and it totally counts cos I did believe without reservation. So thanks Jean Calvin for that handy theological loophole to get me out of annoying arguments.

I have very little problem with Christians. It’s just now I totally understand how repulsive it is to have faith shoved down your throat, no matter how they butter it up and layer it in cake.

So that’s a small snippet of why I’m an Atheist. If I went on, I’d only bore you all I’m sure. I really needed to throw this out there. It became almost a physical necessity to tell people where I am. After all, when your life changes so spectacularly and irrevocably for the better, you feel the need to tell people don’t you? ** The only thing left to say is that I’m still me. I’m still the same sarcastically smug know-it-all who loves films, coffee, wine, and gin far too much. If you were my friend before, you’re still my friend now. I have not become an amoral Satanist who wants to take over the world, I just believe a little differently than before is all.

If you’ve made it this far then I must congratulate you. Thank you for taking the time to find out what’s going on with me, just know I’m always willing to do the same for you too.

TL:DNR Synopsis:
I don’t believe in God and I’m not going back to church cos I think it’s totally whack.

*The rumours ranged from the true, to the utterly bizarre, to the impressively crazy. I once heard that I went round seducing fresher boys in the university Christian Union. While I’m flattered that somebody thought that I had the necessary skills to seduce anybody, let alone multiple people; I remain puzzled as to what started the game of Chinese whispers that cranked that out.

**Yes I know this is just like what you think with your evangelism, I’m being facetious. Yeah I kinda ruined that one by explaining it didn’t I?