Long e-mail from well-meaning Christian in in-box, responding to a rant I wrote probably a good year ago, "Art is Hell," which mentioned Christianity in passing. I never know what to say. I'm not willing to give them an argument--if they believe in something and it makes 'em happy, they're not hurting me, so who am I to rain on their parade?--so I'm left wondering if I can say "I'm glad you're happy, but since there is absolutely, positively no chance that I will ever believe in Christianity again, up to and including Jehovah himself appearing in a cloud of light and thundering "WORSHIP ME, MORTAL!", as even were there undeniable proof of a particularly Christian deity, I would be uninclined worship him on moral grounds, there is no real point to this conversation. I cannot be converted, and I have no desire to convert you." But that would probably be overly harsh and would just hurt their feelings, or worse, obligate them to write me back. After all, they mean well, and they took the time to read my stuff, and I don't wish to be rude. I'd feel like a rat if I actually managed to shake someone's faith in something, but I doubt that's even possible--in my experience, one simply has an epiphany one day and goes "What the hell? I can't believe that I believed that!" or one doesn't, and you can't really induce it from the outside.
The funny thing is, I don't think I ever really believed in any of it very clearly, even growing up. I found myself comparing notes with my mother and cousin a few months back, (all of us had similiarly religious upbringings, and all eventually left Christianity) and it was interesting to see how we all viewed sin. My mother was convinced that all of it applied very personally to her, that she was probably sinful, and worried about it a great deal. My cousin was much less worried about sin on an absolute level, but knew that other people might judge her actions as sinful, and I had always felt that I was exempt from the entire issue--while I felt it was wrong to hurt people--much--whether or not something was a sin had about as much impact on my perceptions as the orbital trajectory of Ganymede. Maybe some of us are pre-disposed, by spirit or genetics or subtle elements of upbringing, to simply have religion...err..."take" better (and to have a much harder break, thereby, if life beats us down and we suffer that hideous bleak moment when we realize that no matter how much we pray, no one is listening.) And some of us, like your truly, just kinda mosey through life feeling vaguely skeptical, and one day go "You know, I don't think there's a god, or if there is, it's not at all like they told us in Sunday school," and when we fail to be struck by a lightning bolt from on high, just sort've nod and go about our business with no real change in life. And of course, some of us never feel like that at all--either it takes permanently, or the vague skepticism isn't pursued, or we get angry and disillusioned, or...I dunno where I was going with this. Except that ranting here keeps me from having to actually think of something pleasant but firm to say to the well-meaning soul who wrote me. Perhaps I'll just put it off for a few days and go paint entrails.