Dealing with the family
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18-06-2016, 10:29 AM
Dealing with the family
This weekend is Father's Day. I live very close to my parents and we get together quite often. We basically tend to avoid heavy conversation about religion or politics because my parents know that I am more liberal than they are, but they have no idea how far it goes. This weekend will be different. My brother, who has recently converted to Catholicism from Evangelicalism, will be at their house with his kids. He and my father often debate the details of Catholicism and Protestantism. The last time he was here, I was just beginning to acknowledge within myself the doubts I was having about Christianity. In the past, I have loved to stoke the flames of controversy, but it was always within the context of belief, even though it is two differing beliefs. This time, I cannot argue from either side. I suppose I could play "devil's advocate" and throw some reason in and see how it goes. Any advice or insight?
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18-06-2016, 11:18 AM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2016 11:34 AM by DLJ.)
RE: Dealing with the family
(18-06-2016 10:29 AM)kathariskepsi316 Wrote:  This weekend is Father's Day.
...
I have loved to stoke the flames of controversy,
...

I vehemently protest! Censored

How can a weekend be a day? Angry

[/stoking]

(18-06-2016 10:29 AM)kathariskepsi316 Wrote:  ...
I suppose I could play "devil's advocate" and throw some reason in and see how it goes. Any advice or insight?

Yup.

Brother Maynard Wrote:Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe...

Also, read up on the 95 for ammunition.

Save some of them though, because next year will be the big celebration ... 500 years of pissing each other off.

Have fun.

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18-06-2016, 11:33 AM
RE: Dealing with the family
I think it would depend on whether or not it would upset your father re: your disbelief. For some members in my family, the idea of my becoming an atheist would cause them immense stress and worry over my very soul. If my mom was like this for example, I don't think I would pick Mother's Day as a day to load that all on her. However, if your dad is more open-minded, enjoys debates like this, and it wouldn't upset him immensely to the point of losing sleep/causing him anxiety over your very soul--then I say go for it. Just make sure you are fully prepared with your responses.
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18-06-2016, 12:03 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2016 02:39 PM by cactus.)
RE: Dealing with the family
Avoid using the word atheist, or any other broad label that could be easily misinterpreted. If they ask you for your opinion, just ask them further questions about what influenced them to interpret the subject material in a certain way, and ask them to clarify their definitions if they're being vague. Try to keep it purely academic; that's what I do.

Really, it shouldn't become about you. Just keep reminding yourself that your position of non-belief is the default.
If they try to make it about you, then they're just unfairly using you as a tool to defend their own self-importance.

When I'm in the company of theists, I basically try to assume the role of a curious and respectful journalist, unless I can see an opportunity to inform them of something that may help them to speak on a topic in a less divisive way. I rarely find myself saying "I agree," but I make it my goal to actively listen to everything they're saying, find points of agreement that will allow me to empathize with them on some level, and occasionally respond with something like "Yeah, I see why you'd feel that way" whenever I feel safe to do so, and then immediately follow up with an open-ended, overtly subjective question that will hopefully broaden the discussion beyond the boundaries of religious difference. Also, I like to find ways to repeat their own thoughts back to them in the form of a clever or amusing analogy. This has worked really well for me in the past. It keeps you both impartial and engaged (also, it gives you an excuse to laugh out loud at their bad ideas, under the guise of an inoffensive and non-threatening analogy, which is always a plus Laugh out load )

Of course, engaging with people in this way can be really difficult and exhausting, and requires a lot of research. It's definitely not for everyone, but it's worked pretty well for me the few times that I've felt brave enough to try it (most of the time I just make up excuses to stay home and not be a part of it Blush ). Good thing I've got goodwithoutgod's resource thread in my bookmarks, lol.

-----------------------------------
Random hypothetical example of how I might try to deflect a loaded question:
"God clearly said it's a sin to lyeth with mankind, as with womankind. What is this world coming to?... You're being really quiet over there. What do you think about that?"

Me: "Imagine if iPhones had been around back then. It might have had an additional clause like 'or sexteth' hehehe. So what do you guys think societies did to people back then if they were born with ambiguous genitalia? Probably involved a sharp rock, like circumcision. I'll bet we'd shudder at some of their crazy medical practices, hehe. Have you guys heard of trepanation?"

Of course, they'd probably take that conversation and springboard off of it into some bullshit discussion about Adam and Eve and "the fall", and possibly the apocalypse, but that's likely unavoidable unless you want to stick with talking about innocuous things like puppies, kittens, the weather, and travel plans. Drinking Beverage

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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18-06-2016, 12:07 PM
RE: Dealing with the family
No real advice along the lines of Jennybee's, but I'm all for playing Devil's Advocate, it's a favorite past-time. Smile

In addition to DLJ's 95 theses from Martin Luther, there was a Catholic Counter-Reformation as well (which addressed many of them as people went, "You know, maybe we can't be selling salvation just to build really awesome churches"). You know, just in case you do decide to do the Devil's Advocate stuff. Either way, may I recommend trying to just enjoy the family get together with loved ones and not concentrate too much on religion or lack there of, if possible? It might be less stressful.

Need to think of a witty signature.
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