Neighborly love
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26-11-2013, 12:00 PM
Neighborly love
New podcast listener and new to the forum. Atheism has mostly been easy for me I guess. Hugs to all of you with bigger struggles. I would ask to bend your ear here for a minute as I have encountered a delicate situation with my neighbor though.

We each homeschool our children, for opposite reasons obviously, so we end up spending a fair amount of time together. We've been neighbors for 5 years. I've always known that she is very devout Christian, only recently did she ask me point blank if I am a believer and I answered her honestly and said no. Like I said, atheism has mostly been easy for me and my husband though we do live in a very small and conservative town in the south so we aren't boldly out, just out to a few other like-minded friends.

Lately because my children are getting older and asking more questions I've been seeking out secular parenting advise and that's how I became a listener of the podcast. I've since taken a more open approach to religion with my children, encouraging them to ask big questions about god and religion. So when I answered my neighbor, I also told her that I don't intend on indoctrinating my children as atheists any more than I want them indoctrinated as Christians. I asked her if she'd be willing to be their Christian voice, allowing them to ask her any questions and answering them as openly and honestly as possible. I followed that I'd want her to disclose any conversations she had with them to me. She agreed.

The next day she texts me that she's thinking about starting an apologetics study group and she'd like me to be a part of it. She thinks my perspective would add to the group. I'm clueless as to what apologetics is so I google it and I'm frightened! A few days later I tell her that I'd be open to discussing anything with her but not with a group. She reveals to me that she intends to order Ravi-someone's DVDs. Sorry I cannot remember his name but I'm sure you know who he is. Next thing I know I'm reading 'A Manual for Creating Atheists', like I'm preparing for a duel. Fantastic book, but I've never been interested at all in arguing religion with anyone. I just don't care for it, it's not in my personality to do.

Now I fear that just in admitting that I'm an atheist, I've caused her to be even more doxastically closed. Not what I want. But what do I do? Watch the three hour dvd's with her? Retract my offer to allow her to discuss faith with my children and go back to being just neighborly?

To be honest I'm scared of going up against this Ravi guy, I'm no atheist scholar. I'm confident I've found truth and I'm not making room in my life for someone else to try to change my mind. After five years I've never once tried to come between her and her faith though I wonder if just seeing that I, an atheist, do not fit the scary image, that I am really quite moral and loving, has opened a door that I should gently try to nudge further open? Or is her goal to prove to me that her religion is truth?

What would you do if you were me?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
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26-11-2013, 12:11 PM
RE: Neighborly love
My bet is that you will get every answer under the sun here, we are all so different.

Personally, I would retreat as slowly as possible. I wouldn't want to upset her, and I certainly wouldn't want to encourage her, she is going to try to rescue your poor black soul. You are rescue material as you would let your kids go home to god. You can't be a real atheist.

That would me my guess at the situation.

I like to pick my battles. This would not be one of them, as it involves neighbors and kids.

Just my two bits. Smile

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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26-11-2013, 12:44 PM
RE: Neighborly love
Jeez, that is difficult.

I spent a lot of time as part of a Christian group when I was at uni, first as the token atheist, then (embarrassingly) as one of them...

While doing the atheist bit... I mostly didn't fill them in with the relatively good news that they didn't have to worry about heaven or hell or the fella in the sky. Of course I was one confused kiddo myself Tongue But mostly what I did was listen in on their random sermon or whatever the crap they were going on about, and occasionally ask a question... of course... my interest in the whole deal was more motivated by the hot innocent Christian girlies who (much to my dismay) seemed to spend every second moment vowing to keep themselves pure before the Lord Rolleyes What I'm sayin' is, without hormones, I imagine that sitting in on that kinda prattle quickly becomes a wearying exercise.

I did get some very humourous moments though, like the time I was invited to go on 'Men's camp' which was made out to be some sorta honour, and the guys were all very... furtive... about the whole exercise... so naturally I assumed we'd spend our time oiling our bodies in the sunshine and saying heroic things like what the Spartans did before the battle of Thermopylae... turned out we spent it discussing how to prevent oneself from tossing the old salad when you *really* *really* needed to. It was all I could do not to laugh my head off the entire weekend. I spent the whole camp chuckling under my breath... Never really recovered from that one Big Grin

I apologise... I have wandered off topic...

Why don'tcha just let her know that you're keen to rather keep it light as it has been in the past... I dunno. Explain to her what you said in the OP, that you're not that into discussions of doctrine but you'd like your kids to get some exposure 'cos it's nice to let them make up their own minds.

Sorry this has been kinda not that useful of a post... maybe shoulda deleted it, but will post just for the hell of it Smile Welcome to the forum Smile

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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26-11-2013, 12:48 PM (This post was last modified: 26-11-2013 12:55 PM by Adrianime.)
RE: Neighborly love
Hello Mom..
Well I guess DevotedMom sounds more appropriate haha.

Note I am not at all in your situation, but here are my thoughts on it.

Yes, she is trying to convert you. Inviting you to an apologetics group is a trap. If you haven't been exposed to apologetics they are basically (from my experience) "next level" arguments for why Christianity is correct. They are frustrating because every argument makes at least one huge assumption SOMEWHERE, but sometimes that assumption is obscured and masked as (faulty) logic or "obvious truth". In my experience it's all very obnoxious and it does little good arguing with those people because they won't accept counter arguments as valid, no matter how to the point or obviously correct you are.

As for what you should do. I would advise to not fall into any traps. Keep discussions to your own terms. Tell her you are fine talking about things, but you are not trying to debate, and you prefer a personal, 1 on 1 type of setting (if that's what you want). As for your kid...I personally wouldn't trust your neighbor to be a reliable guide (unless I knew her personally, as a friend). Because if I was a Christian, I would do everything I could to convince that child that you (the parent) was wrong. I would save that child from going to hell.

I will add one thing. Don't be ashamed or scared to go back on any "commitments" or "promises" you made! Don't feel like you HAVE to do anything just because you once said you would. You are not trapped! You are certainly free to do what is comfortable for you and what makes you happy.
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26-11-2013, 01:54 PM
RE: Neighborly love
Wow, fantastic responses, thank you so much! Smile I can see general consensus is that she is trying to convert me. She's being sly about it. I think I'll follow your advise and slowly back away. I'm not going to watch any DVDs with her and only speak about theism on my terms in my home with her. I've told her many times that the problem I have with religion (one of them) is that it is unloving and does not respect people! I'm actually surprised that she can't see that trying to change me is exactly that.

A few weeks ago she sort of tricked me on her beliefs about gay rights. She says on one day she believes people are born gay and she does not condone the church ostracizing them then a few days later strengthens her stance saying "the Bible is clear about homosexuality." I wonder if she's not the one searching for truth.

Doesn't matter though I suppose, I'm not interested in getting in really deep into religion with her. I don't think it would end up well. I just see her getting herself in deeper and last thing I need is her telling the whole town what an evil atheist I am. We'd have to move.
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26-11-2013, 02:51 PM
RE: Neighborly love
This group will be able to quote scripture and verse (their version) no matter what argument you might put forth. They don't think, but instead rely on what the bible tells them. Unfortunately they take it literally and don't see many of the verses as metaphors. Their goal is to undermine your lack of belief and it will only cause you stress and bitterness.
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04-03-2014, 09:15 AM
RE: Neighborly love
I've asked for a meeting with her tonight as she seems to be encroaching on my children, slyly telling them about prayer and answered prayers. Several days ago, two teenaged babysitters told my children (who are 7,5 and 3) that if they do not believe in Jesus that they will go to hell! My children had never before heard of hell. Because of the conversation with the babysitters and my neighbor's conversations with my children I feel like the topic of hell and Jesus and God are constants in our home and I am tired of it. I don't feel like this is a healthy environment for my children, to have this constant ongoing talk of religion. I'm exhausted of it and I just want my children to be children, able to sleep peacefully at night without fear of whether or not hell is real or God is real or not, etc. I am angry and irritated that this issue keeps coming up out of my control. So. I am speaking with my neighbor tonight and I am very nervous because our children play a lot together, our children are in each others' homes a lot and otherwise I feel like we have a nice relationship and I don't want to ruin that. I also do not want to disrespect my neighbor or insult her faith even though I feel she has done that to me. Any support or advise you could offer would be appreciated.
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04-03-2014, 11:14 AM
RE: Neighborly love
(04-03-2014 09:15 AM)Devotedmom Wrote:  I've asked for a meeting with her tonight as she seems to be encroaching on my children, slyly telling them about prayer and answered prayers. Several days ago, two teenaged babysitters told my children (who are 7,5 and 3) that if they do not believe in Jesus that they will go to hell! My children had never before heard of hell. Because of the conversation with the babysitters and my neighbor's conversations with my children I feel like the topic of hell and Jesus and God are constants in our home and I am tired of it. I don't feel like this is a healthy environment for my children, to have this constant ongoing talk of religion. I'm exhausted of it and I just want my children to be children, able to sleep peacefully at night without fear of whether or not hell is real or God is real or not, etc. I am angry and irritated that this issue keeps coming up out of my control. So. I am speaking with my neighbor tonight and I am very nervous because our children play a lot together, our children are in each others' homes a lot and otherwise I feel like we have a nice relationship and I don't want to ruin that. I also do not want to disrespect my neighbor or insult her faith even though I feel she has done that to me. Any support or advise you could offer would be appreciated.

Don't be afraid to protect your children, or to insist that certain boundaries need to be respected. Just as she would not appreciate you telling her kids about sex education, she should not be telling your kids about religion. IF they come to her with questions, thats one thing, but to actively try to get them to participate in any kind of bible speak is out of line.

You need to be clear with her. Tell her that you respect her life choices, and her right to believe, but that you wish to go back to just being friends without religion.

I see no difference between that and refusing to discuss politics with people.

A little rudeness and disrespect can elevate a meaningless interaction to a battle of wills and add drama to an otherwise dull day - Bill Watterson
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04-03-2014, 11:32 AM
RE: Neighborly love
oh boy....this is slowly becoming one of those accidents that you can't help but look, even though you see a nasty crash coming soon.


Have a heart to heart with her. Explain to her that you have been doing some thinking about the conversations over the last few weeks and that it just isn't sitting right with you. That you want to go back to where you were before the religion topic was brought up. Tell her that you feel the kids are too young to be getting confronted with these conversations by babysitters and its upsetting. Reassure her that you will respect boundaries with her children as well. As for the groups, I would tell her that you will gladly discuss your feeelings-your history with her if she has questions but you have no intention of getting into a philosophy discussion over which way is right/wrong over it. Sharing your past and how you ended up where you are is one thing..and the only part you are willing to discuss on a 1-1 basis.

If you remind her how well you got along before all of this, and how much discomfort it is causing for both families, and reassure her that you won't be trying to eat her babies, she will hopefully see the value in the friendship and back off.

good luck, let us know how it turns out.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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04-03-2014, 03:02 PM
RE: Neighborly love
Why pussyfoot around this woman. You asked if she'd be willing to answer questions you children might ask her and she's turned this in something completely different. Let her know she has overstepped her bounds and that you will seek out someone else to help you answer any questions your children might have. You owe her nothing. Stand up to her for your kids' sake and step away. Never mind if she gets miffed, that's just her large ego taking over her thinking.
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