Well, my parents know where I stand regarding dogma. My dad accepts it without question, my mom has a harder time.
We discuss religion on occasion when I visit, and I often talk to them about things going on in Ex-C forums (nothing of a private nature of course). Things have gone well.
I went on a trip with them a month ago, to visit family. Much of the family is liberally religious to zealously religious. Just depends on who we are around.
Now, I don’t get into it with my extended family. I see them so rarely, it’s a subject I work to avoid, although I’d say various family members have their suspicions.
But no matter. This is about my mother finding the line. The one you don’t cross.
We were visiting Granny (mom’s mom) and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is the type who insists on prayer at each meal, particularly in public.
Now, my parents have a long tradition of saying grace over food at home. I will even bow my head and mutter an ‘Amen’ purely out of respect for my father and all our togetherness at the table. That is something I treasure, and belief doesn’t factor in at all.
But I don’t owe my granny’s boyfriend that level of respect.
So the family was there in a public restaurant, all of us holding hands, hostages to courtesy, while the boyfriend praised “precious baby jesus” for the food he wasn’t even going to be paying for.
Obviously, Mom peeked at me during the praying (or the following wouldn’t have happened). She had realized that while I was quiet and my head was bowed slightly, my eyes were open and I was just zoning out into space.
She knew I wasn’t praying. She jiggled my hand (she was holding it), and I looked at her.
“Please…” She whispered.
And I realized she was asking me to actually pray.
She found the LINE. I didn’t say a word. All I had to do was look at her with all the rage I could muster silently. I let icy indignation course down my arm into our clasped hands (no, I didn’t squeeze).
And she knew. Abruptly, she looked back down at the table. The prayer finally ended, we ate, and my mother never uttered one single word to me about the incident.
Because she knew she’d crossed the line. For courtesy’s sake, I will hold hands and bow my head. For courtesy and respect for my Granny I will silently endure her useless boyfriend.
But no one. And I mean NO one, not even my own mother has ever had the right to tell me what should be going on in my head. Not even when I was financially and legally subject to the will of my parents was my mind anyone’s subject.
To be honest, it probably surprised her a little that there was a line to cross. I think people assume that non-religious people have no personal limits simply because those limits are not dictated by a tangible “rule book”, and so therefore we cannot be offended.
Another factor to that idea is that free-thinkers seem to be less offended (or have less black and white viewpoints) by the things that markedly offend religious people. So the impression we give is that since abortion, gays, and premarital sex do not offend us, then nothing offends us at all.
But since religion is a way of life for religious people, they cannot comprehend our indignation when they push or insist that we participate in their way of life. They immediately misconstrue our outrage, and imagine our anger is a projection of wrongs done to us by religion in the past as opposed to the social wrong being committed by themselves at that moment. They really cannot comprehend that endorsing and encouraging their “life” to others, is offensive to people who happen to have their own “lives” because the christian is disregarding the value of the other person’s “life” in the process.
*and as a side note, I hate it that the Word program treats lower-case “c” as a misspelling when it’s fronting –hristian.*