Brother-in-law has left and none too soon. My husband, unsympathetically reminded me that he lived with this man for two years. I now know every modern actor, writer, and singer who is a Christian, born-again Christian, a "real" Christian, (apparently there is a difference between these three) and atheist. At no point did I tell him how little I gave a shit and not just because I'm no longer a Christian, but because such things don't matter to me. As a younger Christian I definitely avoided books written by outright and vocal atheists, but I also did not seek out authors who were Christian. I didn't scour the internet to find out a person's beliefs.
I did end up challenging him on three things besides the Girl Scout thing earlier in the week (see previous post). The first and silliest was concerning Danny Kaye. I have been obsessed with Danny Kaye since I was five-years-old. Yes, that means I was a super odd kid. Rather than watch cartoons, I watched Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye over and over until I wore out the tape. I now own it on DVD. I have read interviews and books about him and love how his daughter, Dena, has tried to keep his legacy alive. (She is the reason one of his songs is in Fallout 4.) So imagine my surprise when my BIL announces that not only was Danny Kaye never married and didn't have children, but was also a rampant homosexual. When I challenged him on this he refused to budge. I ended up just sending him the link to the Danny Kaye Wikipedia page as well as an article written by his daughter that made it clear that he was married, had a kid, and the homosexuality rumors were nothing more than penny gossip, made up for tabloids and because he was a singer & dancer. Only then did BIL back down. Dude had absolutely no facts to back up his opinions, but doubled-down on the anyway because he is so anti-homosexual that even the rumor of it made him dislike this man. Let me add that BIL also stated that he used to like Danny Kaye movies until he found out he was a homosexual. No word on whether he will like them again now that he knows the truth.
The second challenge was when BIL declared that some celebrity was going straight to hell because they were atheist, even though they were born Catholic. "Depends on your theology," I said. Nope. Hell, he told me. Yes, I countered, but there are many different Christian beliefs. Some people believe that if you are baptized into a religion and go through some kind of coming-of-age ritual, you are good for life. Others believe that "once saved, always saved". And there are others who believe that a God who is a caring and just wouldn't condemn someone to hell if they were born in a Muslim country where conversion would be a death sentence. This is where my BIL struggles. He understands that the Biblical New Testament version of hell is wholly unjust. His obsession with Dante's Inferno is proof of this. He is desperate for a more fair system of punishment because the one he does believe in seems too much. There are too many really good people who go to hell, who will face eternal torture for just being themselves, he said. Then he returned to the "once saved, always saved" (because having a conversation with him is like talking to a rubber bouncy ball....all over the place.) He doesn't believe this of course. People who denounce Christ and aren't Christians anymore were never Christians to begin with. Now, obviously he doesn't know, but this pushed my buttons. Fuck you, if what I wanted to shout. Instead, I asked him about divorced couples. Did he believe that when a couple got divorced, that they never loved each other to begin with? Were they never really married because they are now divorced? (I'm coming at this from a Christian perspective for his sake. Assuming the husband is not a figmant of someone's imagination.) "No. But I know where you are going with this and you are wrong." He couldn't clarify beyond this though and quickly changed the subject. What I have learned this past week is that if he runs into a refutation of a claim that he believes that challenges his notions and he can't refute it, he just changes the subject.
The last subject concerns indoctrination and education. Of course, like any good fundy Christian he fears education because it seems to lead good Christians astray. Young people don't get out of group think until they are almost twenty-four so his solution to them being led astray in college is as follows: 1) Parents should indoctrinate their children as thoroughly as possible. Teach them about your religion. Take them to church. Send them to Christian schools. 2) Have young people join the military for four years. Here they will learn discipline, but since the military seems more Christian-bent they will be "safe" there. 3) After the military those young people will then go to college and at that point they will be so fully indoctrinated that no liberal atheist professor will be able to change their beliefs. I politely informed him that not only did my parents fully indoctrinate me, but I went to a very liberal college and at no point did any professor try to convince me that Christianity was wrong. The most challenging thing I got was whether spanking was abusive or not. That was it. I rejected many of my parents beliefs though because they were simply wrong. "Wrong how?" he asked. My parents taught me to hate and fear Muslims. They dehumanized them. They told me gay people couldn't love. They believed in the power of healing. I don't believe in any of those things now (all truth). What indoctrination means to me is the complete and total restriction of learning and critical thought. I think critically! he exclaimed. (I disagree, but didn't say as much.) But you are an adult. What you are suggesting is that we tell children not to think about anything outside of the confines of their particular religion and denomination. That they never analyze, question, or doubt. That they be essentially brainwashed to believe whatever their parents believe so that no other piece of information will ever make them question what they have been taught. Not even apologetics. Faith so blind that they wouldn't admit there was a wall in front of their face even if they kept running into it. That's wrong and dare I say, evil. He was actually quiet after that. And then he went off on a rant about education not being a right and we were off to the races again.
It was all so very very exhausting. I ignored about 60% of what he said. Made mmhmmm noises during about 45% and challenged about 5%. Most of what he said was offensive to at least one group of people. Despite his constant claims about not being a racist, I've heard more disparaging remarks and racist jokes this week than I have in years. And due to his social issues, I very seriously doubt he holds back when he meets people of who he doesn't like or agree with. Every now and then he would say something that made a bit of sense, but since his views are so extreme, they were never the whole picture. I need a vacation, but we are in the middle of this adoption process so that isn't going to happen anytime soon. Le sigh.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.