Husband and I went to a going away party last Friday for some good friends who are moving to Prague in order to be missionaries and plant a new chuch. Neither me nor my husband hold missionary work in much esteem, particularly this kind and for the reasons they are giving, but we console ourselves with the knowledge that at least these people aren't going to a country where it is illegal to prosthelytize. We support them as friends. The plan is for them to go for two years, help out with the church plant, and if they manage to learn the language fluently, they might be allowed to stay longer. Neither of us can imagine the husband being very happy with this life for any extended length of time and we both agree that they are probably doing this in order to boost their "righteousness" cred. Oh and they have two young children as well. We're both pretty sure they will either be back in two years or divorced.
Most of the people at this party attend church with the couple and are in their small group. The overarching theme to this party should have been "Extroverts United". Seriously, these people were an introverts nightmare. SUPER peppy, happy, talkative, ready to become best friends tomorrow. Nothing wrong with these things in small doses, but there were nearly two dozen people and every single one of them was in-your-face. Of course, my introverted husband who hates sports ended up sitting at a table by himself attempting to avoid carbs (he's on a low carb, hight protein diet) and people. His friend came over to talk to him once or twice, but was drawn away by basketballs and frisbees. I, who can present as an extrovery by just talking a lot ended up meeting several women who all wanted to invite me to small groups, game nights, girl nights, or the movies. They all thought I was super awesome because super-extroverts seem to think everyone is super awesome and I found myself completely repulsed by it all. Not just because of the extrovert stuff although that was certainly exhausting. No, what really annoyed me and made me think no way was the god-talk. "I can tell God has really blessed your family" and "God has been preparing you for this your whole life" and "I just can't believe the Lord led you to one another". Remember, these people literally had just met me.
And my first thought when one of the girls said we should come to their game night or they could come to ours was, hell no. No, I do not want to be friends with another super peppy Christian who I will have to hide my atheism from because I don't want word to get back to the actual friends we have here. Nor am I interested in a shallow friendship based purely off the fact that they believe we are the same religion. I have had far too many of those "friendships" and I don't have time for it. Afterward my husband said that he doesn't understand what those people even get out of it. They say they want to come to game night so we invite them and they never come. It's all lip service in the heat of the moment. I'm really not willing to make new friends at this point who I have to hide my true self from or who I think will try to convert me to religion.
My husband and I also talked a bit about how we came across as people who are supportive of what they are doing. Is it okay to pretend like we think this okay? Is [husband] being a bad friend by not saying something? Aren't they good enough friends to be honest about something like that? In the end we both think that this is not our lives nor our busines. If this is what they have convinced themselves is the thing to do and it isn't harming anyone and isn't illegal, then let them go. Prague isn't Iran here. My husband is also not against missionaries, only that he thinks that a person who decides to do such work in another country should devote themselves wholy to it. These friends should have sold everything, not put it into storage, and moved there. Permanently. There should be no plans to come back. They should fully assimilate themselves into the culture. They should already be studying the language. They should be prepared to raise their children there. Anything less is short-term missions work and does nothing for the people. It becomes a purely selfish endevour.
As an atheist, I am fully against missions work of any kind. I find it exceptionally short-sighted to bring religion into a place with no understanding of the culture. That's how you end up with that child-witch bullshit in certain African countries. Believe i or not, I actually have a Christian friend who agrees with this. She, like me, did numerous short-term missions trips and learned the damage done by them. The damage done my missionaries too, no matter how altruistic they are. So she has moved to Uganda. Permanately. Not to prosthelytize, but to help reunite children in orphanages with their biological families and to set up micro-loans for those families so that they have the ability to support themselves and their childre. All of this in hopes of shutting down orphanages that are being used to adopt out kids who are not orphans. Now that is something I can get behind.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.