An Update


So things have been quite busy lately. I’ve been working and Withteeth has been looking for a job. Unfortunately, that has meant that the blog has gotten pushed aside for a while. However, I have gotten back into my reading of the Bible. I’m still in 2 Corinthians, which is essentially and overview, so I don’t have anything interesting to write about it yet, but I am planning to get back into writing my Bible overview soon.

But for now I have a few comments to share from my first month of work. Last week I had a lady tell me that I was sent to her by God to help her find some books for her grandsons. I happened to be in the right area and asked her if she needed help, and she wasn’t used to our store, so she told me that I had been sent. It turned out that she wanted some children’s Bibles for her grandsons. I thought it was kind of funny because a) I’m and atheist and it seems strange that God would send me over a Christian, and b) why would God send anybody to help one lady of 7 billion humans find two books? Chances are the grandsons are already being raised Christian, and it’s unlikely the purchasing of the two books would have any real affect on their beliefs, so why would God care?

Yesterday another customer invited me to a Bible study after telling me which Bible she prefers. I just happened to walk into the same section she was in with her daughters when the conversation occurred. As an employee, there isn’t a whole lot more than I can do besides smile and nod.

I bring these stories up because they are two of five incidences that have taken place in the last couple of weeks. It seems as though people just assume I’m Christian. This has gotten me thinking about two things: First, this assumption suggests a level of privilege granted to Christians that others don’t get to share. Christians can just assume that the person they are talking to is a Christian without having to fear any negative repercussion (and they are even right fairly regularly). In North America, we live in a society where people think highly of Christians for no reason other than that they are Christians. People don’t generally get offended when they are mistaken for being a Christian, and Christians have a lot of privileges that other groups don’t have (like the ability to walk down the street and find a church without much difficulty, or the ability to find curriculum that cater to them so that they can homeschool their children). I can’t assume that any given person is an atheist, and I risk offending people if I do make the assumption. Second, how can I as an atheist and an employee respond to these assumptions? Like I’ve said, so far all I’ve done is smile and nod, but I’m not really a fan of that approach. I don’t want people to just assume I’m a Christian, but I can’t really represent atheism at my job. Like everybody else, I have to put my beliefs on hold and just focus on the customer. There is no easy answer, but I wish that people wouldn’t assume. Not everybody is a Christian.

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18 responses to “An Update

  • littlmsperfect

    Hallo Hessian. This post was very interesting, to me, for 2 reasons: 1) it seems you work in a Christian bookstore (please correct my deduction if it’s wrong, or is it just a general bookstore? or not even a bookstore? πŸ™‚ ); and 2) you seem surprised that God (ie, the God that Christians believe in) cares about little details. You wrote: “b) why would God send anybody to help one lady of 7 billion humans find two books?”

    The 2nd one is especially surprising because it seems like you’re reading the Bible, or at least 2 Corinthians (more deductions from me – too much Sherlock πŸ˜€ ). If there’s one thing I think is very clear about the Bible (or Bibles as some others have commented above), 2 Cor included, it’s that God is interested in every little detail of our lives; and the very basis of His creating humanity was/is to have a very involved relationship with us (humans). Here a few verses from 2 Cor (which i will not quote – so this doesn’t become unbearably long – but you would’ve seen since you’re reading it anyway) that support this point: 2:12; 5:5, 18-21; 6:1, 16, 18 and so on. Verses in other books (Ex 3:7,16; Ps 139:14-16, Matt 6: 26; 10:30; Luke 12:7; Heb 4:15 etc) also point to this. By the way, which version are you reading?

    Another thing that also caught my attention was the assumption that the Bible has little influence on beliefs. You wrote: “Chances are the grandsons are already being raised Christian, and it’s unlikely the purchasing of the two books would have any real affect on their beliefs, so why would God care?” The Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith. Don’t think a Christian can be one without it (2 Tim 3:16-17). I don’t think a person can read the Bible and remain unaffected. It either strengthens or weakens your faith/beliefs. So, I can definitely see where that grandmother was coming from (I’m sure her aim is to strengthen their faith). Also, there are many who started out as Christians but aren’t today. So being ‘brought up’ as a Christian is definitely not the end. Something else just occurred to me: reading the Bible for yourself allows you to have an understanding of God for yourself which sort of ties into my personal God point. πŸ˜€

    I’ll stop here. This has already become much longer than it was in my head. πŸ˜€ xoxo

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  • Annalee Lestrange

    Maybe it’s because I live in more democratic/liberal sort of area, but I’ve felt more of a marginalization on Christians than I do atheists. Obviously not when I’m in church, but when I’m in school or work or any public place that’s not centered on religion, I feel people hold a stigma against Christians to be Bible-thumping narrow-minded sexist homophobes and consider atheists as forward thinkers. I’m not denying that people don’t have good reason to hold that stigma, but there it is.
    As a Christian, I don’t think I’d ever assume anybody else was a Christian unless explicitly told. Even when I’m in my youth group, I generally think there are plenty of people only here because their parents made them or their friends brought them. I think when people say things like “I think God sent you” or “I think that was a sign from God,” it’s not necessarily that they assume you’re Christian as well, but they’re just telling their own truth. It’s like a nonbeliever saying “I think fate led us here.” You can take that however you want. Your truth doesn’t have to match their truth. Or if a Muslim came to me and said “I think Allah works through you,” I wouldn’t be offended or take it personally. If they invited me to a religious gathering, I’d just politely decline and tell them I’m a Christian.
    Then again, I don’t know much about atheism discrimination, so I don’t know how people normally react if you did tell them. And the face that you’ve encountered five similar occurrences does rather strike me as strange. Again, it might just be a difference in location, and if you happen to be living/working in a Christian-centric area, your experiences with Christians may be skewed, just as mine may be skewed when it comes to athiests.

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  • Godless Cranium

    If someone asks whether I’m a Christian I politely tell them I’m not. They usually go on with another subject afterwards, and move away from the religious question. Sometimes they give me a surprised look.

    It’s true that most just assume you’re a Christian.

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  • rura88

    All the best.

    The Jewish-Christian values are for many people a good standard of how people should behave. Humanism and atheism have their roots in these values too. Behave in certain way and people make assumptions because “perception.”

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    • Alessio Lerro

      Judaism and Christianity share nothing. There is no such a thing like Jewish-Christian values: that was a chimera invented by the canonical evangelists in order to create an allegorical framework for the Old Testament. Saint Paul created the illusion of a Judeo-Christina culture, and Saint Paul was the founder of the Catholic doctrine as we know it. The Dead Sea scroll have finally brought to evidence to the big audience the discrepancy between Christianity and Judaism. If you consider Leviticus a good standard of how people should behave….. oh well……

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      • hessianwithteeth

        “Judaism and Christianity share nothing.”

        Lol what? You want to elaborate on that gem? I don’t this the historian would agree with you on that one.

        Liked by 1 person

        • paidiske

          I am aware that Jews, in particular, object to the term “Judeo-Christian” as one which blurs their distinctiveness into the American “Christian” mainstream, but there are numerous problems with your post.

          St Paul – a complex figure – could perhaps legitimately claim the label “Judeo-Christian” but her certainly didn’t give us Catholic doctrine as we know it, and I’m fairly certain he’d be appalled at what 2,000 years of history have done with his writings (and those attributed to him).

          There is no evidence that Jesus was an Essene, or that his community were associated with that which produced the Dead Sea scrolls, and while the Pharisees were the forerunners of contemporary Rabbinic Judaism, there were many living Jewish traditions represented in Jesus’ society (it might be fair to say there were many “Judaisms”).

          The importance of keeping the OT, for the early church, was to counter the gnostic notion that the God of the OT was a different, lesser figure than the God of the NT. Many of the apocrypha you refer to were gnostic works, and theologically problematic for more than their Christology or take on the Trinity. (Indeed, gnosticism’s take on humanity – and their claim that, for example, the body must be left behind as the soul ascended to a higher realm – was one of the major issues for the early orthodox writers).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Alessio Lerro

            I was raised in the Roman-Catholic tradition and I read you are an Anglican ordained minister. This explains why we consider differently the role of Saint Paul in the building of the Catholic Doctrine. I have neither time nor the will to engage in an argument over this topics with someone like you who accepted (I quote from your page) “the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds as the rule of faith for understanding the truth of Scripture.” not for prejudice but because accepting the Nicene Creed is an obliteration of centuries of Biblical philology. I align myself with the tradition that goes from Spinoza to Marx, and for this reason I have an historicist approach to the figure of Jesus and of the Gospels. However I want to make only two points in reply to your kind response:1 )the Dead Sea Scrolls are in themselves the evidence that Jesus was close to that sect. I don’t think one can be still that blind to believe that Jesus was the lamb of God of Moses….. 2) the apocrypha you refer to as ‘gnostic’ have bene labeled as such and considered more as theological documents than anything else, precisely in order to save the official version of the Canonical Gospels. The Gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Juda lack a framing narrative and reference to the Old Testaments, that is why are literally more complex and seem to require a “gnosis” because they are bare and simple. 3) Ignoring the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls means basically to agree with what Ratzinger wrote a few years ago in his book on Christ, and thus that the origin of Christ himself is in Deuteronomy…. .. This is a reactionary vision of Christ that any serious historicist and philologist refuse. Proposing “the Bible” as one text made of OT and NT is anachronistic, false, and mendacious.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well if your unwilling to have his conversation then why did you start it. Also I think when you say “…any serious historicist and philologist refuse.” You mean any serious historicist and philologist that hold similar positions to you.

            As always if your going make incrediable claims like “Judaism and Christianity share nothing.” Something which seems quite inane given the composition of the bible and the general opinion of the practitioners. This isn’t to say you couldn’t be right I’m saying you haven’t given us any reason to think you are.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            I don’t think you know what Sarcasm is, nor did you respond adequately to any of my concerns. You also seem to like claiming authority on Atheism too, except you clearly have not put much thought into it otherwise you wouldn’t be wasting my time with the weak misrepresentations you’ve been providing. I question if you even understand what the word means, or the more interesting argument against god. Though that okay because you don’t need to be here.

            Bye now.

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          • paidiske

            The gospels attributed to Thomas, Mary etc are far too late to be authentic.

            I’m not an expert in the Dead Sea Scrolls – I’m more of a patristic scholar – but I doubt I agree with Ratzinger about much at all. I can’t imagine how he could argue for the origin of Christ in Deuteronomy.

            I certainly wouldn’t propose “the Bible” as one text, though. As one lecturer of mine put it, “The Bible says is grammatically inaccurate; it’s Ta Biblia, plural.” πŸ™‚

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          • Alessio Lerro

            I agree with you on your last point. The reason why I mentioned those gospel was to stress the fact that there was a total different community of Semites which carried the tradition of Christ in a complete opposite way as that represented by the canonical. No Gospel is close enough to Christ chronology to be considered authentic. 100 years 20th centuries ago were a long long spun…..

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Good human behaviour is a lot older, and and move a good deal past Abrahamic laws and moral commands.

      I would be our morality has more to do with Hume and Kant then the bible, and it definitely has more to do with Aquinas then the actual biblical texts.

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      • rura88

        Some parts of the Bible still influence Western culture. Some directly with regard to the status of the Jews and some indirectly regarding Scholastic-ism. The Catholic Church liked recycling bits that could promote their agenda.

        Also where did many famous philosophers come from? Christian families, if not Catholic then Protestant. To be European often meant that you were raised a Christian. That changed after the 1950s.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          And what where most good Christian philosophers taught (this is no longer the case, but it was for a good while) as the the most important mind in philosophical thought? Why but Aristotle of course!

          Though lets be clear I’m not saying Christianity has play no role, it certainty has and still does, but the Christian morals as they are in the bible do not form the foundation of typical moral thought in the modern day (Christian or otherwise). And Typical Christian morals are typically not actually founded on the Bible, but on the culture they are raised in, and the law of the land. And law of most of the world has more in common with Romans and the early Germanic peoples then it does with the bible and the Israelites.

          Further during the high of the enlightenment a good deal of the population where deist or atheist, particularity the intellectual elite. However, there was a good deal of back sliding until the 1960’s when the worst of the red scare had worn off.

          The point I’m trying to make here is that what constitutes Christian Morality in my experience has little to do with Christianity, other then it’s christian who hold the beliefs.

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  • sequimmorgayne

    I was raised a good little Christian girl, my mother’s words. But I haven’t been for over 30 years. It is interesting that folks assume just about anybody they meet is Christian. Our culture is built on the patriarchy that misappropriated the bible during the medieval times.

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