Sunday, March 6, 2011


I have cut all ties with the various freethought/atheist groups I have previously participated in. Sharing a similar answer to one particular question just isn't enough anymore. I got the distinct feeling that my presence didn't matter to anyone in these groups and that nobody was really interested in me as a person. Longtime readers of this blog may recall I have suspected this for some time, but it finally got cemented for me recently.

One major problem with the main group I'd been attending was that the others never let me finish a stream of thought. I understand that some interruption is part of the necessary give-and-take of conversation, but with me it happened every single time.

The other major problem was that I was tired of being treated like my interests didn't matter. While it was OK for some to talk about their musical preferences, mine were treated scornfully. The sad part is that the scorn wasn't even accurate--the "critic" had his facts all wrong about the artist in question. There's more than a bit of irony in someone constantly talking about how he makes decisions based on facts getting it so wrong here.

My views on the supernatural haven't changed. But I'm not going to spend my time with people who clearly don't respect or value me. I don't care how many issues we agree on.

I'm not sure where I go from here. Despite my lack of belief in the supernatural, it seems pretty clear to me that I haven't had good luck with what attempts there have been at freethought-based communities. While I don't want to be one of those atheists who doesn't contribute anything to the larger community, it feels like said community isn't interested in my contribution. It's safe to say I'm debating how much I wish to continue to identify as atheist.

By contrast, I feel like the people in the Vedanta Society have my back. For instance, I told someone in the Vedanta Society that I'd been obsessively listening to the artist I mentioned earlier, and while he didn't seem familiar with them, we still had a nice conversation about music's power to affect people and just how hard it is to succeed in that field.

When I got laid off from my job last year, one of the other devotees offered to pay for my ticket to a fundraising luncheon the Society was having. I told him if it came to that, I'd pay him back as soon as I started working again. He told me not to worry about it and that if I really felt the need to do something, I could just make a donation to the Society.

Some of the big atheist blogs have mentioned this before, but I want to reiterate: people often aren't in houses of worship entirely because they intellectually support what is taught there. It's a sense of community and obligation to fellow human beings that keeps them there. People want to be treated like they matter. If you don't do that, your group will not be successful in the long term, no matter how many theological/political/whatever questions you answer correctly.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see that you're meeting these amazing people at Vedanta. I hope to move back to Dallas and explore Vedanta in more spiritual context. Let's see....!!!