Letter to a Christian Grandma

Here is a letter from a guy called Josh in response to a 33 page letter from his christian gran after she was told he was an atheist. I didn’t read the gran’s letter, although I thought that his response was great, and he covers some of the points she raised in his letter.

You can find links to her letter at this link - Letter to a Christian Grandma.

LOL, dude obviously doesn’t talk to his gran ;D

Whenever my gran brings it up I patiently reiterate, “Ouma, ek het jou mos gese ek glo nie meer in daardie nonsense nie.” (“Gran, I’ve told you before, I don’t believe in that nonsense any more.”)

I find talking to my parents about atheism extremely difficult. I don’t think I want to even mention the topic around my grandparents… Respect.

my mother always used to say: “fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity” (don’t know where she got that from)
I think maybe talking about religion (or the lack thereof) could be seen like that too. The point is too often missed. People (like my father, whom I can also not discuss my beliefs with) get too caught up in the emotional side, and simply refuse to admit that everything they believe to be true, could actually be wrong. And we just don’t know for sure.

get too caught up in the emotional side, and simply refuse to admit that everything they believe to be true

The gift of doubt is so seldom embraced. :cry:


exactly my point. there is something incredibly exciting about not knowing. and just as a matter of interest, assume we did know all there is to know - i think we might just get exceptionally bored if we did not have questions to keep our minds busy. :-\

Thanks :slight_smile:

When I started questioning my beliefs I began by first questioning those who had indoctrinated me in those beliefs. My gran was the family member chiefly responsible for this, so I questioned her first. The rest of my family has since come around to my way of thinking but my gran and I still agree to disagree as it were. It’s a pity my grandfather is no longer alive, I think his belief system was somewhat more sophisticated and I sorely miss the conversations we might have had.

Forgive my noisiness, but I think your situation seems kind of sad and I’m curious as to why you feel unable to talk to your family about your beliefs, or lack of them rather. Perhaps you could elaborate?

I can surely talk about it. My family don’t even know about my atheism. In fact I’ve gone so far as to not use a recognizable nickname on this site. As I’ve said before, I’m just the one who needs to be reminded every now and then that not going to church is not cool.

My problem, cheifly, is that my mother specifically would take this news in a very dire way. My father would too, but in a lesser sense, he’s a bit more scientifically wired… What I’d be (in her eyes) saying is, “Mom I’m a sinner, blasphemer, and I’m going to spend eternity in hell while you’re in heaven missing me”. It says a lot of other things too, like, “I have no morals”. These are nonsensical to you and me, but to her it’s as real as my own existance. She would never recover, that I’m 100% positive of. She may come to accept me that way, or feign acceptance. But I know she’d probably lose sleep over it for the rest of her life. IF she doesn’t spend the rest of that time trying to re-convert me, which would be a bitch also.

When she’s dead, it won’t matter (not that I wish for it, but it just won’t). In the meantime, I’d rather suffer the moderate annoyance of having to put up a front every now and then, than cause that much pain to the ones I love.

I’m still in an internal conflict of how I want my own funeral and marriage to be handled. Since I’m fronting, should it occur, I’d have to go make vows to a god that doesn’t exist, or have my last moments with my family be a lie. The logical person in me says, “So what, it doesn’t mean anything to you”. The moral person in me, however, tells me it’s a lie, and I shouldn’t have to do this. What to do? I don’t know, honestly I don’t. But like bluegray, I fear that conversation like nothing else.

Amazing you have been able to keep up the act. Have you ever expressed any doubts at all? If so, how did she react?

There was one incident, without getting into details, that I did overplay my hand.

It was obvious that I knew a lot about the bible’s gotcha’s, and in fact knew more about what is actually written than anyone present. One (deeply religious) person later recalled it as one of the most scathing attacks he’d ever heard, saying “I’d hate to have to ever come up against you!”.

  • As an aside, I think as an atheist I’ve learnt more about what the bible says than I ever did as a believer. -

I had of course argued the point from the point of view of the bible itself. It’s actually amazing what you can argue given the knowledge. I digress.

She shut down, head hanging low, and a grim look on her face. Not having been involved, but at hearing my arguments. She had a look of disappointment on her face. I’m sure this exchange did create a lot of doubt in the onlookers. I shut it down and never spoke of it again.

I regret letting that argument get so far. I’m normally very emotionally detached during an argument, but this time I had gotten too involved and fired too rapidly.

I don’t go out of my way to engage in religious argument, but I can’t just let daft comments slide either. Anyone feeling obliged to share their religious convictions with me, will have the favour returned. If they find this upsetting, then at least they’ll think twice next time, and if they want debate, that’s also fine - enjoyable even.

The other day I was told by an old school friend that his father’s cancer treatment is looking very promising, thank the Lord. After expressing my relief at the news, I also enthusiastically rattled off the list of fallacies springing from this logic. Which, of course, immediately made me an insensitive @rseh*le. But only because so may people still prefer ascribing the wonders of medicine to the some fuzzy, irreproachable fount of goodness.

Its fashionable to have “respect for another’s this, and respect for another’s that”, but where are you going to draw the line? I think one must respect individuals, not their kooky notions. Obviously (and ideally), it works both ways.

My folks too, find my atheism disturbing. And they aren’t even particularly religious. That’s understandable when you consider what they believe lies in store for me. (Oh, a sly one be that Christianity. It just doesn’t tollerate a joyful celebration of diversity and free, light hearted roller-coaster philosophy, does it? No, its all about dogma, death, brimstone and threats. Its machinations geared to create little unthinking slaves to convention.) Still, I don’t regret, once during a long and boring car trip, telling them my views. Even though it was awkward and ended up in a few unplanned outbursts. But they must have had an inkling. It was just to much trouble repainting the facade every year, or later even gradually letting it deteriorate. It finally became wrecking ball time. Now the “healing” can start, as they say in those American feel-good talk shows. Life goes on. I just figured that the “hurt” that my folks feel springs from mere imaginary concepts. None of the “pain” is based in reality. Was I cruel? Who knows. Anyway, I think people are quite a bit tougher than that. We didn’t claw our way through eons of evolution just to come out emotional pansies (which, ironically, is the symbol of the freethinking movement).

I'm still in an internal conflict of how I want my own funeral and marriage to be handled.

My thinking is that it makes no difference where you get married. If you fancy the idea of going through the traditional church ritual, go for it. If telling lies to a nonexistent entity is going to upset you , then don’t. Why not let your fiancee decide? When I got hitched, I was still tottering on the brink of religious doubt. Interestingly enough, the dominee did ask if we were believers beforehand, and luckily he caught me on a good (or is it a bad) day. It was only after getting married (but not due to ;)) that I gradually found the joy in atheism. Would I marry in a church again? For sure … if the dominee will let me!

As for your funeral, compared to marriage you will find it a trivial concern. ;D