Recently, I read a blog written by Greta Christina; it was linked on Facebook, and something in the description caught my eye. I don't know much about her, but from what I can tell, she is an atheist. And apparently today (or whenever she wrote this), she is an angry atheist. (Her description, not mine.)
As I read the long column, I was alternately indignant, ticked off, appalled and very, very sad. Some of the points that the author made were genuinely upsetting. Some of them made me want to roll my eyes, because they were complaints I've heard from atheists for years. I don't know that all of those are valid, but neither can I say all of them are invalid.
I was ready to respond to her blog; I really wanted to leave a comment regarding some of her lines of reasoning and the clear double standards to which she apparently adheres. But upon further reflection, I realized that by doing that I'd be getting embroiled in a debate that can have no winner.
But there's nothing to stop me from talking about it here, on my own platform!
It seems that the author of that blog is upset--well, by quite a few things, but from what I can see, it boils down to a few issues (even though her list of anger-provoking points is fairly long). As I see it, she feels that as an atheist, she is discriminated against by many people, organizations and situations. I guess I can understand that; I might not agree, but I'm sure we all feel like victims of prejudice now and again.
Where she lost me was her attacks on the beliefs of those people who choose NOT to be atheists. The irony is simply delicious: she's claiming that people who question her own lack of belief system (which incidentally is a contradiction in terms; we ALL have belief systems, even if that belief is in a lack of any deity) or the way she chooses to express herself make her angry, but she doesn't hesitate to turn around and condemn and deride believers for the same things. I was mildly amused that the author appeared to be equally offended by people who seem to really embrace their faith and by those whose religion is only surface-deep.
I'll freely admit that I was on the verge of being angry, too. I was annoyed by the stereotypes this woman bought into and promoted; hey, if you're going to be an angry atheist, at least try to find an original reason for your angst. I can tell you that here in 2011 America, being a Christian isn't a walk in the park, either. I could argue that in our post-modern pluralistic society, living a genuine faith is no easy task. But I wouldn't waste my time making that argument, since the writer clearly is not going to step away from her safe and self-righteous points of view.
I was hurt, too, by the people who chose to post the link to this blog and endorsed the opinions contained therein. At least some of these people know me pretty well. To my knowledge, I've never tried to force my faith on any of them, nor have I treated them as non-believers with any less warmth or love than I have those of my circle who do follow Christ.
But here's the rub. You see, as an atheist, Greta Christina can say anything she chooses. She doesn't answer to a higher authority than herself. By claiming no belief system, she can embrace the idea that right and wrong do not exist. No one can call her a hypocrite for railing against others, for saying cruel and hurtful things or for attacking those of us who follow Jesus Christ.
I am a follower of the Way. Technically I am a Christian, although I am reluctant to claim that title sometimes. I don't agree with everything that happens in every Christian church. I know plenty of pious, religious people who have only the most passing knowledge of Jesus. I also know people whose selflessness and love take my breath away. I'm sorry that people have done things in the name of Christ that are hurtful, horrifying and horrendous. The existence of those people doesn't negate my right to know for certain that Jesus lived, died and rose again and to act upon that knowledge.
As a believer in Christ, I am held to a higher standard. I'm called not to debate atheists, to hate them or to mock them; I'm called to love them, defend them and protect them. (Note here that loving, defending and protecting a person does not mean that I must love, defend or protect his or her views.)
So I'm not going to rant and rave. I'm not going to argue. All the atheists in the world can keep being angry, and I'll do my best to have as much compassion as I can. I'm sorry that you atheists are angry, and I hope things get better for you.
In fact, I'll pray that they do.