We had dinner with two friends last week. They are married and I work with the wife. We are both teachers. We have many things in common with this couple including a love of food, beer, England, travel, good music, and corgis. This is nothing to write a blog post about of course, except one thing keeps striking me about our friendship with them. Neither my husband nor I are religious (I’m actually more on the atheist end of the spectrum with a good dash of humanism on top but that’s for yet another post) and our friends are you could say, very religious. In fact, the husband is a pastor at one of the largest churches in
Again, nothing to write a whole blog post about. After all, I have many friends who believe in something and take part in organized religion. They are all good and kind to everyone, even me, the godless atheist. This is true of our pastor friends as well.
But what really strikes me about our two friends is how simple and honest their view of god and religion is. “We just want to love people,” my teacher friend said to me once in passing. And do you know what, faceless internet readers? They actually mean it. No judgement. No dogma. No shame over enjoying a beer or cursing or asking hard questions. You’re not a bad person if you’re gay. You still deserve to have people who love you.
I try really hard not to be an angry non-believer. Speaking only of my personal experiences, it can be difficult when you see a consistent pattern of people behaving poorly and using god and religion as an excuse. Because of my experiences, especially those in the last several years, I have so much more respect for our two friends. Though I am not a Christian, or at all religious, these two people are probably the best example of what a good Christian should be. That, I think is what life should be about and if you ascribe to a religion or a set of beliefs then, yes, that’s what your god should be about: Being good to people. Having dinner. Laughing. Loving people.
Ultimately, I think our friends and my husband and I believe in the same fundamental ideals. We just approach these ideals from two different ends of a spectrum. Our friends ask the same questions and even see the same issues with religion and church that we do– and man is that refreshing.
I guess I keep thinking about this because neither my husband nor I talk much to anyone about what we don’t believe. It tends to start fistfights and make people uncomfortable. And, it’s deeply personal. In the right and respectful circumstances, I love talking about what people believe and why. But rarely is there a right and safe circumstance. I just keep thinking, how awesome is it that four people –two, for all intents and purposes, atheists, and a pastor and his wife– can sit down at dinner and have the same views of the big picture.
You don’t have to believe in each other’s religion. You don’t even have to have one. But if you do, be good and kind and eat bread and drink a beer. As just one atheist with a sprinkling or humanism, I will appreciate and respect you for it.
I feel kind of silly saying this because I already knew it, but we aren’t, all of us, so different after all. I guess it’s nice to be reminded that people can be good. And that, we can all agree on, is worth a raised glass of beer.