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Going On A Religious Retreat


seeboh
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Okay, so I'm mandated to go on a retreat next week. I have to go otherwise I don't graduate. How do you suggest I handle all the religious mumbo-jumbo? I don't want to be disrespectful or anything, I just don't want to participate. Is there anything I can do to improve my situation? Has anybody been in a similar situation? Don't know how long I can survive in that environment.

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Okay, so I'm mandated to go on a retreat next week. I have to go otherwise I don't graduate. How do you suggest I handle all the religious mumbo-jumbo? I don't want to be disrespectful or anything, I just don't want to participate. Is there anything I can do to improve my situation? Has anybody been in a similar situation? Don't know how long I can survive in that environment.

Depends on the retreat. I went on a retreat with the catholic school I went to in 8 grade and had a good time for all of its faults.(I was a protestant at the time.) But then again we played games for part of the one day we were there.

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Ugh! Don't know if this is a possibility or not, but once you arrive, would it be possible to scope out the situation and see if you can help in the kitchen, janitorial duties, anything to make it look like you're a real good guy helping out with stuff, but you're retaining your sanity. They don't need to know your motives. At any rate, good luck!

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I have no idea what to expect, so I'm preparing for the worst. Hopefully all we do is play games.

 

Ugh! Don't know if this is a possibility or not, but once you arrive, would it be possible to scope out the situation and see if you can help in the kitchen, janitorial duties, anything to make it look like you're a real good guy helping out with stuff, but you're retaining your sanity. They don't need to know your motives. At any rate, good luck!

 

Thanks for the tip. I don't know if an opportunity like that will be available, but I'll definitely check!

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You'll survive. Your forehead may be bruised from all the face-palms. Your eyes may get stuck in the back of your head from all the rolling they will do. But you will survive.

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Just keep your head down... play along... and get through it. As suggested, volunteering to help with various tasks is a good way to avoid most of the garbage. I used to work in the sound booth at my church for that very reason.

 

If you're asked to give a testimony of any sort, bullshit. And don't feel bad about bullshitting either. Bullshit makes the flowers grow and that is beautiful. You've probably heard enough testimonies to be able to fake your own -- if you don't already have one hanging around in your head.

 

No smoking, no drugs, no sex, and no drinking... you should be able to manage these things for a few days. Absolutely NO BEASTIALITY... yes, I've been to a camp where that was an explicit rule (guess they must have had a problem with it in the past). :scratch:

 

When it gets too much and you are losing your mind and want to lash out, just remind yourself that this is a temporary situation and it will end. And, in the long run, it will be over faster than it seemed. Good luck.

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You'll survive. Your forehead may be bruised from all the face-palms. Your eyes may get stuck in the back of your head from all the rolling they will do. But you will survive.

 

Yes, but how do I reduce the bruising and barely miss the mark where my eyes get stuck?

 

If you're asked to give a testimony of any sort, bullshit. And don't feel bad about bullshitting either. Bullshit makes the flowers grow and that is beautiful. You've probably heard enough testimonies to be able to fake your own -- if you don't already have one hanging around in your head.

 

If they ask for a testimony, I have no problem telling them I'm an atheist. They can't expel me for telling the truth.

 

No smoking, no drugs, no sex, and no drinking... you should be able to manage these things for a few days. Absolutely NO BEASTIALITY... yes, I've been to a camp where that was an explicit rule (guess they must have had a problem with it in the past). :scratch:

 

:lmao: Oh Christianity... *sigh*

 

When it gets too much and you are losing your mind and want to lash out, just remind yourself that this is a temporary situation and it will end. And, in the long run, it will be over faster than it seemed. Good luck.

 

Thanks, definitely going to try to keep my sanity.

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Try to get a girl to sneak off with you and see if she'll let you feel her tits. Maybe she'll touch your penis or something. Unless it's kids under 12, that kind of shit is usually going on at any church camp you can think of except in those rare cases where every last kid takes that shit too seriously.

 

If you can't get any action, jerk off in the outhouse and let the spooge fly where it may. Maybe the next guy will step in it! :HaHa:

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Take notes and post back here for hilarity! Having a sense of humor has helped me survive the bible belt xD

 

Definitely doing this. If there's wifi I'll try and update every night via iTouch. Thanks :)

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This doesn't sound legal even if it's a private school, but I am looking up the legality.

 

What's the illegal part? They aren't funded by the government.

 

The legality would come in where they are making you go to a non academic religious function, but if you are from the U.S. it's probably completely legal because, "We need to convert dem heatherns."

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, Friday afternoon I got back from retreat and found this site down, bummer. No wifi there which was to be expected and they collected our phones. After the phone collection, there was an introduction session to help us get to know each other better, which was kind of cheesy as most icebreakers are. There were about 25 people on this retreat give or take. After the icebreaker, there was a prayer session. On the cover of the pamphlet they gave us was a baby that could fit in the palm of your hand. I found this kind of disturbing, because it didn't portray the world as it really is. At the end of this prayer session, everybody took a vow of confidentiality, so I'll try to honor that as best I can while getting my experience out to you. About your suggestion to help out with the kitchen and stuff like that, the retreat house has hired faculty to do that so they wouldn't let me help on the basis that I "needed the full retreat experience."

 

After this prayer session, we broke up into 4 or 5 small groups consisting of about 6 juniors, a senior leader, and a faculty member. There was actually another atheist that was interested in philosophy in my group, which was both surprising and exciting. The other atheist did not believe in morality and was an absurdist, so some time in the future I'd like to discuss that with him and get his perspective. During this small group session, I received the question "Why do good things happen to bad people?" to answer. This sparked an interesting discussion on the problem of evil. After the small group was over, a Catholic came up to me and told me that I "destroyed" our faculty member in the group on this problem, which was good to hear from a religious person. After this there was a talk about finding "who" we are, which I had no real problems with. However, the following session of this retreat was a meditation which I did find somewhat objectionable. We were all laying on the ground while a faculty member led a story of us talking to Jesus on a beach. I largely ignored this session. And thus the first day of this retreat came to a close. After the day was over I wrote in my iPod, "My philosophy for the remainder of the retreat is to take what I can out of it while not taking the religious aspect seriously."

 

Ouch, a loud obnoxious bell rang to wake us up early. Not cool. The first talk today was about how people wear proverbial "masks" in society. The speaker didn't distinguish very well between a mask and a role you play very well which seemed to lead people to believe that they have to be a deep person every waking moment, in the large group discussion after the talk I brought this up and people seemed to agree. After this, in a small group session there was a line on which we were supposed to draw the ups and downs of our lives. Being myself, I broke it up into three equations. If you would like to see my happiness level on a scale of -5 to 5, graph the equations y=(3/10)x for x less than or equal to 10; y = (x-13)^2 -3 for x greater than 10 and less then or equal to 15; and finally y=(1/2)x - 3.5 for x > 15. I am 17 years old, so that should be the end of the coordinate plane. After this, there was a load of free time in which I played football in the snow with a bunch of friends. After the free time, there was a talk about "obstacles to God's love." I was fairly annoyed with this talk for obvious reasons. We never got to discuss it in small groups, which was disappointing, because I had some good points to raise. After that talk, there was another talk, this time about family. It was a good message, communication, love, and commitment. However, there was an undertone of "you must raise your kids Catholic" which I did not appreciate. Next was a talk about forgiveness. The main focus of it was the persecution of gays in society, ironically by a Catholic priest. Kudos to him and the rest of the people there for defending gay people. There was a gay person on the retreat, I felt kind of bad for him because he kept getting used as an example. However, the message was supportive. The other main focus of the talk was on the sacrament of Reconciliation and how God will forgive anything. There was an opportunity to receive reconciliation, which I partook in. It wasn't your traditional reconciliation. I asked the priest about the verse Mark 3:29, to which he replied that he would like to talk to me next week back at school because he needed time to collect his thoughts, which was fine. I'm looking forward to this discussion. After confession, I wrote a letter to my parents in which I tell them I'm an atheist, we'll see how that goes. Thus concluded the second day, one more to go.

 

I shall continue in another post before I lose all of this!

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So, Friday afternoon I got back from retreat and found this site down, bummer. No wifi there which was to be expected and they collected our phones. After the phone collection, there was an introduction session to help us get to know each other better, which was kind of cheesy as most icebreakers are. There were about 25 people on this retreat give or take. After the icebreaker, there was a prayer session. On the cover of the pamphlet they gave us was a baby that could fit in the palm of your hand. I found this kind of disturbing, because it didn't portray the world as it really is. At the end of this prayer session, everybody took a vow of confidentiality, so I'll try to honor that as best I can while getting my experience out to you. About your suggestion to help out with the kitchen and stuff like that, the retreat house has hired faculty to do that so they wouldn't let me help on the basis that I "needed the full retreat experience."

 

After this prayer session, we broke up into 4 or 5 small groups consisting of about 6 juniors, a senior leader, and a faculty member. There was actually another atheist that was interested in philosophy in my group, which was both surprising and exciting. The other atheist did not believe in morality and was an absurdist, so some time in the future I'd like to discuss that with him and get his perspective. During this small group session, I received the question "Why do good things happen to bad people?" to answer. This sparked an interesting discussion on the problem of evil. After the small group was over, a Catholic came up to me and told me that I "destroyed" our faculty member in the group on this problem, which was good to hear from a religious person. After this there was a talk about finding "who" we are, which I had no real problems with. However, the following session of this retreat was a meditation which I did find somewhat objectionable. We were all laying on the ground while a faculty member led a story of us talking to Jesus on a beach. I largely ignored this session. And thus the first day of this retreat came to a close. After the day was over I wrote in my iPod, "My philosophy for the remainder of the retreat is to take what I can out of it while not taking the religious aspect seriously."

 

Ouch, a loud obnoxious bell rang to wake us up early. Not cool. The first talk today was about how people wear proverbial "masks" in society. The speaker didn't distinguish very well between a mask and a role you play very well which seemed to lead people to believe that they have to be a deep person every waking moment, in the large group discussion after the talk I brought this up and people seemed to agree. After this, in a small group session there was a line on which we were supposed to draw the ups and downs of our lives. Being myself, I broke it up into three equations. If you would like to see my happiness level on a scale of -5 to 5, graph the equations y=(3/10)x for x less than or equal to 10; y = (x-13)^2 -3 for x greater than 10 and less then or equal to 15; and finally y=(1/2)x - 3.5 for x > 15. I am 17 years old, so that should be the end of the coordinate plane. After this, there was a load of free time in which I played football in the snow with a bunch of friends. After the free time, there was a talk about "obstacles to God's love." I was fairly annoyed with this talk for obvious reasons. We never got to discuss it in small groups, which was disappointing, because I had some good points to raise. After that talk, there was another talk, this time about family. It was a good message, communication, love, and commitment. However, there was an undertone of "you must raise your kids Catholic" which I did not appreciate. Next was a talk about forgiveness. The main focus of it was the persecution of gays in society, ironically by a Catholic priest. Kudos to him and the rest of the people there for defending gay people. There was a gay person on the retreat, I felt kind of bad for him because he kept getting used as an example. However, the message was supportive. The other main focus of the talk was on the sacrament of Reconciliation and how God will forgive anything. There was an opportunity to receive reconciliation, which I partook in. It wasn't your traditional reconciliation. I asked the priest about the verse Mark 3:29, to which he replied that he would like to talk to me next week back at school because he needed time to collect his thoughts, which was fine. I'm looking forward to this discussion. After confession, I wrote a letter to my parents in which I tell them I'm an atheist, we'll see how that goes. Thus concluded the second day, one more to go.

 

I shall continue in another post before I lose all of this!

 

Very well written and very interesting. Please do post more of your experiences.

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Ok, day three. There was another wake up call via obnoxious bell, I thoroughly expected it to be a trumpet because there was a fairly talented trumpet player that was a senior leader. He played the previous morning after the first wake up call which was the bell. But I digress. This day dealt mainly with the religious aspect of the retreat. There was a talk on faith which I was fairly frustrated with. Especially the fact that the speaker claimed "Faith is all around us. We have faith that our cars will start in the morning." I took issue with that. In the small group discussion after the talk, I asked the questions: What is faith? What is its distinction from trust? The response from my peers was that trust is deserved and faith is not. That answered my question, so I let it be. However our faculty member in our small group took issue with me. I swear she wanted to slap me by the end of this retreat. Her response to my definition of faith and the definition that my peers agreed with largely agreed with myself. She would not admit it, but she was basically saying the same thing. In the large group discussion of this topic, I brought it up again and got pretty much the same response. Then the leader of the retreat, my religion teacher, brought up that society has a "growing culture of atheism" and asked if there were any atheists in the room. I raised my hand along with two others, my philosophical friend and another junior. This prompted a discussion about what led us to our atheism, which was a very interesting one. It was mutually respectful and civil. The argument that kept cropping up was "there has to be something better than us." I did not address this argument and in retrospect, I should have. My response to it now would be, "Well our treatment of cancer is pretty poor. People die every day from cancer. There has to be a better treatment than the one we have." However, I did hold my own as most of the questions were directed at me. I was given a tremendous amount of respect and my opponents were intellectually honest. I hope I gave the same amount of respect in return. What more could you ask for? After the discussion concluded, I was told I "Handled it like a champ" by one of my opponents. I returned the favor and told him it was a nice talk. The one thing that did bother me is after the discussion, I went to get a drink and another junior with a genuine interests asked "Where did the first life form come from?" To which I brought up the field of abiogenesis and encouraged him to do some research. I am not well versed in abiogenesis so I referred him to the Miller-Urey experiment and explained it and its implications a little bit. In the midst of my explanation, a third party interjected arrogantly with "Where did the gases come from?" I wanted to hit him. I addressed this in the discussion we had and how it's an argument from ignorance. When I said "I don't know", his response was "Yeah, that's right." That got on my nerves. The rest of the retreat after the discussion of faith dealt with what we're going to take out of this retreat.

 

The retreat came to a close and we returned to school. My thoughts on the retreat as a whole and a follow up on the letter to my parents in the next post, coming to a forum near you within the next hour.

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Sounds like you ended up having a pretty good time! I had to go on a similar retreat earlier this year and it ended up being pretty boring. No one in my small group wanted to talk, so most of it was usually us sitting around waiting for someone to say something. I didn't say much of anything because revealing my atheism would have led to a lot of trouble at school. The best part of that retreat was the free time a friend of mine and I used to write up a fake journal detailing the mythological creatures we found in the woods. I think my favorite bit was a picture of a sad-faced triangle with the caption, "We keep seeing this out of the corner of our eyes." I left all the papers under one of the beds; I hope someone got a kick out of it. Anyways, it's good to hear that everything went well. I can't wait to hear about your parents' response. I still haven't told mine and I'm trying to figure out how to do it.

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Overall, the retreat was a positive experience. I think this is the case mostly because of my attitude towards it. I did get a few things out of it, the most important probably being my letter to my parents. I was shocked at the misunderstanding of atheism. The first question the faculty member in our small group asked the other atheist in my group and I was "Do you believe in anything?" Which is a clear misunderstanding of both the position of not believing in anything (a self defeating one) and what "atheist" means. After the large group discussion on faith, a peer came up to me and pointed out that I had a somewhat satanic look on my face while contemplating their questions. I jokingly responded, "Well that's just the devil inside me." A few minutes later a peer that was standing nearby had to ask me "Do you believe in the devil?" I'm glad I went. However, now that the retreat is over I missed three days of school. Here comes the academic suicide portion of the retreat.

 

About the letter to my parents. It came this afternoon and both my parents read it. Only my mother has confronted me on it so far. I don't think she took it that seriously, which I am disappointed with. The reason I think this is the first thing she said when she confronted me was "Everybody has doubts." I was thinking, "So what? I just told you I don't believe, not that I have doubts." I think she hopes it's just a phase. However, there's a lot of speculation going on in the previous sentence. My mom said that it makes no difference to her. I consider myself extremely lucky for that. My dad is yet to confront me about it. We'll see if they make me go to church tomorrow. Although, I expected my mom to take it well. The conversation with my grandparents shall be an interesting one :D.

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Sounds like you ended up having a pretty good time! I had to go on a similar retreat earlier this year and it ended up being pretty boring. No one in my small group wanted to talk, so most of it was usually us sitting around waiting for someone to say something. I didn't say much of anything because revealing my atheism would have led to a lot of trouble at school. The best part of that retreat was the free time a friend of mine and I used to write up a fake journal detailing the mythological creatures we found in the woods. I think my favorite bit was a picture of a sad-faced triangle with the caption, "We keep seeing this out of the corner of our eyes." I left all the papers under one of the beds; I hope someone got a kick out of it. Anyways, it's good to hear that everything went well. I can't wait to hear about your parents' response. I still haven't told mine and I'm trying to figure out how to do it.

 

I did end up having a good time :). The people in charge were very accommodating to other opinions. A lot of other small groups had the same experience you did. We had two atheists on a religious retreat, that's bound to spark discussion!

 

It is a hard thing to tell your parents. I had to write my letter without thinking about it much because I probably would have torn it up. As soon as I finished I handed it in and never looked back. I was obviously very lucky to have pretty tolerant parents. Telling your parents depends a lot on your situation. If you're going to get flak at school about it, I would suggest not coming out yet. The proverb "Three can keep a secret if two are dead" comes to mind. Best of luck to you. Hang in there!

 

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Hi, Seeboh! Thanks for posting what happened. Too bad the retreat had their kitchen help, etc hired out - they must have met my type before! LOL Anyway, sounds like it went better than expected. Best wishes with telling the family - mine still don't know, unless it went through the grape vine somehow.

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Very well written and very interesting. Please do post more of your experiences.

 

Well written? Please. This is stream of consciousness writing. I consider the writing crap.

 

Don't put yourself down. I wasn't referring to grammar and sentence structure (though those were fine). I was thinking more of how I could see what you were describing in my mind's eye and from that perspective, it was well written.

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Hi, Seeboh. Thanks for sharing your retreat experience with us. I'm glad you found it overall a positive experience. It sounds like you held your own when the small group discussion turned to atheism. The compliments you received from some of the Christians shows that you were respectful towards them, but that you defended your position. Good for you! Some of the individual comments to you were uncalled for, like saying you looked like the Devil when you were thinking. That shows the speaker's prejudice and his superstitious belief in the Devil, which, of course, does not exist.

 

I hope all goes well with you and your parents. I actually must admire your mother's response to your letter. You seem to have a cool mom.

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Very well written and very interesting. Please do post more of your experiences.

 

Well written? Please. This is stream of consciousness writing. I consider the writing crap.

 

Don't put yourself down. I wasn't referring to grammar and sentence structure (though those were fine). I was thinking more of how I could see what you were describing in my mind's eye and from that perspective, it was well written.

 

Well thank you then :)

 

Hi, Seeboh. Thanks for sharing your retreat experience with us. I'm glad you found it overall a positive experience. It sounds like you held your own when the small group discussion turned to atheism. The compliments you received from some of the Christians shows that you were respectful towards them, but that you defended your position. Good for you! Some of the individual comments to you were uncalled for, like saying you looked like the Devil when you were thinking. That shows the speaker's prejudice and his superstitious belief in the Devil, which, of course, does not exist.

 

I hope all goes well with you and your parents. I actually must admire your mother's response to your letter. You seem to have a cool mom.

 

Thanks again for your response. I try to be respectful, the people there were intelligent and rational. I did think I gave them something to think about though :). The devil comment was in jest, I may have been uncalled for but it was also kind of funny. I can take a joke.

 

I consider myself extremely lucky to have a mom like her. However, to knock a few points of her chart she's still making me go to church. I intend to take notes and bring up questions I have of the sermon and readings. Her reason for making me go to church being, "That's what we do here". Not a complete victory. :shrug: At least I don't have to lie. Maybe a letter of defection will change something.

 

Hi, Seeboh! Thanks for posting what happened. Too bad the retreat had their kitchen help, etc hired out - they must have met my type before! LOL Anyway, sounds like it went better than expected. Best wishes with telling the family - mine still don't know, unless it went through the grape vine somehow.

 

Good luck to you :). I know it isn't easy.

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