The taboo subject
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07-05-2013, 09:50 AM
The taboo subject
Hello there! This is my first post, and perhaps I should have hit the introduction section first, but then, I need to get this off my chest. I never considered myself an atheist until 2009, but by then I was well on my way to nonbelief. My family took me to church as a small child, but the whole god idea never really sank in. I was confirmed, sang in the choir, but I always had one form of doubt or another. I never had that welcoming spiritual experience that all my peers were having, and seemingly without effort. One thing I hated to hear, is when people said, "Oh, you just aren't/weren't letting God come into your life..." as if they somehow knew how hard I was really trying. Like falling to my knees, crying for Jesus to enter my heart, only to have silence answer me.
Last year, I married my high school sweetheart. We met in late 1990, and never had the chance to connect until a few years ago. We are quite the pair, and I love her dearly. There are few people, and I say this with hesitation, that I would truly die for, but she will always be the first. Recently, she has become more grounded in her Catholic background, and in some way expects for me to follow her example. I have attended Easter Mass with her as well as Ash Wednesday, and I do enjoy these outings. For me, I still find pleasure in the music and tradition of it all, and a unique look into our history. To even it out, she agreed to go with me to see Matt Dillahunty when he spoke in San Diego on secular morality. So all would feel fair. That changed a couple of months ago.
Through a couple of mutual friends, we joined the Al-anon workshops. For those who don't know, they are a sister group that operates along side Alcoholics Anonymous. Now, neither of us have a substance abuse problem. I agreed mostly out of curiosity, seriously, an hour long meeting once a week can't hurt me, and it gets me out meeting new people. I even bought their "big book" so that I can read through all the life changing stories therein. It's been two or three months now, and what was once an off limits subject, is starting to come to the surface more often.
See, AA is mainly a religious organization, they make little or no attempt to hide it. Sure, their books say that they welcome all, but all help is only for those who accept the concept of a "higher power" or "something greater than themselves". When I was asked what I would call a greater power, I simply said an elephant. There were laughs, but they died down when I said I was serious. I pointed out that an elephant can do what I cannot. Like rip a tree out of the ground with the strength of its nose. An elephant can live and thrive in places I can't. An elephant can lower its entire body temprature by just wiggling its ears!! My, what a powerful creature! Silence. It was not the answer they wanted.
Someone said you can't worship an elephant.
I said that the Hindus would disagree.
More silence.
The meeting picked up again, but there was now a change in the tone than at the start. Perhaps fortunately, my wife was not at that particular meeting.
AA asks its members to call upon "god as they know it". Thus, god can fit perfectly into your life with all acceptable morals already in place. A member will then through meditation and prayer will be granted a "spiritual experience" and can begin to heal their affliction/s. And what if you don't have any spiritual experience, you might ask? Simple, just keep trying until you do, end sentence. It is this mentality that maybe scares me the most. Choose your god as you see fit, worship it and ask it for help, and it will come and help you. And in AA, there is no other way you can find happiness. Chilling.
So we come back to my wife, who has found a sponsor and is working through their 12 step program. Again, we have no substance dependancy, her reasons for delving into this system are for her own discoveries. But then a few nights ago came a terrible question.
"Alex, what would you call a god?"
"I'm not sure, I guess the Hellenistic period would have the most accurate portrayal."
"What's that?" she asked.
I was not catching on, "Oh, the ancient Greeks, like 400...500 B.C."
"That's not what I mean. I'm talking about your god. How do you see your god?"
I became worried about my answer, "But, you know I don't believe in any god or gods," I must have sounded like a robot, and she started getting upset.
"What do you mean, you don't?"
"I simply don't. There isn't any reason for me to."
"Then you don't feel any spiritual connection between us?" I still can't believe that she resorted to baiting me. I fell for it anyway.
"No, there is a connection between us, but in no way could that prove to me that there is a god."
She almost broke into tears, "That makes me so sad. You're breaking my heart."
"That's not what I want," I was gatting a tad angry, "I just don't see any reason for me to..."
She cut me off, "Just go away, I need to be alone."
And that was it. Maybe it was smart for her to stop the conversation, we could both see where it was going.
I still indend to go to the Al-anon meeting, and I've resolved to do the workshop 12 step program, but in my way. I see no reason to lie about my disbelief, and honestly I want to see where this goes.
My wife is another matter. I fear that she started us in the program in an attempt to stir old beliefs in me that were never really there to begin with. And the more I see her dive deeper into this...cult...the more I worry for her and our relationship.
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07-05-2013, 10:19 AM
RE: The taboo subject
Welcome to the board, Amos!

I went in AA as a believer. I left as an atheist. I was sort of on a similar journey as your wife. 12 steps groups can be damaging. It was to me and I felt relief the moment I left. I'd say your area has gone cult-mode rather than being a 12 step PROGRAM as it's supposed to be. Don't hesitate to remind people that it's a program. If they warped the 12 steps to fit their religious habits, that's their problem and they shouldn't make it yours.

Online you'll find sites dedicated to those who go to 12 steps but who are atheists. I suggest you go check it out.

As for the wedge it's creating between you and your wife, I suggest you pick up your heels and figure out an action plan before it festers even worse. From what you've written, those who are 'new people you're meeting' might not be the right fit for you.

Any atheist groups in your area?

Good luck! Keep us posted!

[Image: 3d366d5c-72a0-4228-b835-f404c2970188_zps...1381867723]
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07-05-2013, 10:26 AM (This post was last modified: 07-05-2013 10:33 AM by guitar_nut.)
RE: The taboo subject
That sounds like a very manipulative conversation on her part. Love and connections between people can and will continue to exist regardless of beliefs; she doesn't get to make up rules about relationships to win an argument. Here's a simple exercise:

1. Does she believe that all gods are real? No.
2. Does she believe, then, that some people worship a god that doesn't exist? Yes.
3. Does she believe, then, that only people worshiping her god can have meaningful relationships? No? Well how is that possible when people worship something that isn't real?

The guilt tactic is a cheap way to try and control the conversation. Puke.

AA should not be affiliated with any religion or political group. I know quite a few atheists in AA. Their 'higher powers' range from doorknobs to the universe itself. It's about realizing there are things bigger than yourself, accepting that you're not in control, and being willing to do the program. It is not about worship or a traditional god unless that's your particular 'higher power.' Try a new group and see what you find.

If Jesus died for our sins, why is there still sin? If man was created from dust, why is there still dust? If Americans came from Europe, why are there still Europeans?
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07-05-2013, 10:43 AM
RE: The taboo subject
guitar nut..

I love #3.


good luck. I've got few stories about the cult of AA. Chilling stuff.

But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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