Jesus was the Salt that Made my Blood Pressure Rise

IMG_6083My parents are to visit Tina and me this weekend. It stresses me out. Stress is something I don’t need right now. My doctor recently diagnosed me with elevated blood pressure. My doctor put me on a small dose of medication. And while I’ve been exercising (way) more, eliminating salt and processed foods from my diet and cutting back on alcohol and coffee, my blood pressure is still reading at the same or higher than it did 2 weeks ago.

I know, give it time.

Saturday night, a good friend who used to be a nurse gave me a sphygmomanometer, the typical gauge used to check blood pressure. I took a picture (left) for you to see and admire the shininess. I figured out that I can check it fairly accurately myself.

But that’s besides the point. The point is: It’s 6:25 a.m. on Monday morning. I’ve been up since 3. I can’t sleep. Tina can’t either. She’s got a big job today. Me, I keep playing out fictitious conversations in my head of all the things I’d like to talk to my parents about.

For instance:

THEM: “We’re afraid you’ve lost your way.”

Me: “No, I’ve found my way.”

THEM: “But it’s not god’s way.”

ME: “Yeah, I grew up and chose godlessness. I was under the impression it was a choice. Therefore you can’t be upset that I made the choice that doesn’t reflect yours.”

THEM: “But you’ll roast in hell.”

ME: “Think about what you’ve said regarding a supposed ‘almighty and loving creator’ and keep that improvable hate speech to yourselves.”

But that doesn’t solve shit with people like them.

When my parents visit, the stress revolves around several factors. My dad is well read, conservative and very opinionated. One thing that’s never been talked about directly is my atheism. I told my brother directly. He hates it, but he deals with it. My parents and I have had plenty of discussions about religion, but I’ve never come out of the closet, per se, to them.

When I’m laying in bed awake with paranoia and insomnia, I get wrapped up in conversations like the one above. They vary in certain ways, but they all stick to the same topic. Every time I try to talk about atheism, they won’t have anything to do with it. It’s not that I want to evangelize them. It’s that I feel it’s important that we talk about things that are important to us me.

But their version of Witteveen culture and my version collide. While they talk about their religiosity with great frequency and fervor, if I bring up my views and lack of faith, it’s hushed and swept under the rug. It’s as if they think I’m going through a “phase” or a “fad”.

Really, Mom and Dad, an over 10-year fad? (more below the fold)

Either that or they think that if they never hear those four loathed words, “I am an atheist,” they can go on telling their church friends that — for all they know — Jeremy loves Jesus and lives his life for him. If Jesus lives in my heart, he must be responsible for thickening the walls of my left ventricle and causing my goddamn blood pressure to rise. Ain’t no one else ever been invited in there with a formal invitation. So it must be Jesus’ fault.

Maybe they think that I lead a church in Chicago. But they wouldn’t know, because they won’t talk about it.

If you think I’m kidding, Here is my dad … at my wedding … telling one of my closest friends, Ryan, about how I cannot deny that god had his grubby hand in all the natural things that happened in my life. Ryan realized he left the camera rolling, and after the topic started flowing, he saw no reason to stop tape.

Yes, there are things that are rare. Rarities happen like my story of being adopted and getting a chance like no other to succeed in life, because our culture cultivates loving people (thanks Jesus Rabbi Hillel). All the things that happened to me have natural explanations. Rare things happen to ordinary people every day. But most offensive is the fact that the same god that offered me the “miracles” of a good home and great wife, would also be responsible for giving loads of children and people the realities of an awful existence. That mindset creates laziness and apathy toward the sick, the destitute and the poor. When you think that a deathly-ill child in Africa is only going through a temporary inconvenience while on the path to eventual heaven, you don’t give a fuck what that child’s earthly welfare is like, no matter how many kids you sponsor at World Relief.

So for every so called “miracle” where one dude gets lucky because a few people believe “god smiles” on them, give that same god monster the credit for all the shit that happens to good people for crimes pinned on a lady and a man who ate fruit 6,000 years ago, according to a shitty book with a lot of shitty stories, laws and ancient ideas.

I mean, a little baby suffers malaria and AIDS, because an invisible being named “satan” is in charge of the evil in the world, only after he was “invited” in, because god made creation with a tree that causes disobedience so egregiously awful that all the world’s woes are the result? For real? The people who are in charge of evil in the world, are those who do not support science, medicine and progress from reaching the deteriorating bodies of the sick and destitute who desperately need “salvation.”

If you believe the shit they teach at church, you deserve a metal toe to your genitals. Honk.

So we’ll see how this whole thing goes. Hopefully, it will go better than the last time my mom visited by herself. While she was here, we had some people over and I got top-ten drunk of all time. I must have been seeing stars and fruits. Like David Cross says in one of his bits, “If you showed me a banana, I wouldn’t have been able to describe it … tell you what color it was … what it tasted like. I might have picked it out of a line up, but that’s it.” Anyway, after passing out that night, Tina says she felt me get out of bed, open the closet door, and she heard the sound of water hitting her wardrobe and shoes. In a tired haze, she asked, “What are you doing?” And I said, “Peeing in the closet.” I must have had enough understanding that I stopped and finished in the bathroom. In the meantime, Tina had to mop up my mess.

In the morning, she asked me how I slept. “Fine,” I said.

“You did?” she asked.

“Yeah, just fine. Want coffee?” I was oblivious.

“You don’t remember do you?”

“Oh shit … remember what … “

If there’s one thing I know for certain, salt can be responsible for high blood pressure in certain people’s diets. Jesus said he was the salt and the light (sermon on the mount — look it up … Matthew 5 something … how do I know? … It was bore into my noggin for 20 years). I don’t know about the light, but he certainly was the salt that caused my blood pressure to elevate. This is his fault and I’m blaming this “miracle” on that bastard.

You know what I’m going to trust to bring it down? If you said “Mohammed,” you’re wrong! I’ve got all my money on science (i.e. medicine, diet and exercise). Why? Because you can measure its efficacy. Anything else would be uncivilized.

Any advice you can give for stress maintenance is greatly appreciated. Funny how back in the olden days, I’d ask for your prayers too. But I grew up. I read a few books. I thought logically about the whole business of religion and god, and I left that rubbish for the gullible and the weak.

Stuff that works for stress need only apply here.

TIA

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7 Responses to Jesus was the Salt that Made my Blood Pressure Rise

  1. Petursey says:

    Jeremy

    it’s weird but reading this gave me flashbacks to my early 20′s and life was difficult. You hit the nail on the head by saying coming out. Telling religious parents you’ve become an athiest is the same as telling your parents that you’re gay. It’s alien to their mindset because they are not and probably never will be on the situation and have no points of reference at all.

    But my advice is force the discussion in a calm and collected way. It may end up as an arguement BUT they will know the real you not the idea of you that they have in their heads and at the end of the day they’re your parents and they love you – and you will have short term upset/pain but you have a loving wife to support you and after a few weeks you’ll be more relaxed and happy and wonder why you never did it years ago. I speak only from double experience – coming out as gay and as an atheist !! Good luck

    • cafewitteveen says:

      Thanks, Pete. Richard Dawkins talked about the difficulty of “coming out” as atheist in “The God Delusion,” and he has the famed “Out” campaign which your avatar on Twitter reflects. That kind of pride is great and encouraging.

      I’ll be in touch with the Twitterati throughout the weekend to drop updates on you guys. I also plan on either audio recording or video recording as many of the conversations as possible. I want to be able to reflect on the words spoken. I think having exact record to them might be useful for developing other discussion points.

      I’m curious what you thought of what my dad said at the wedding to, what amounts to, a relative stranger.

  2. Petursey says:

    well I’ve just watched/listened..and my impression and it’s only my impression from a 58 second segment is that your Dad seems to be ” trying” to be American… he sounds American..but to me it sounds like he’s translating in his head and saying what he *think* his audience wants to hear. From what I know of the Dutch religious community they don’t speak like that… it’s done in a different way…from the way your Dad was..to be as a Brit watching it screamed American and what we term “religiuousity”…fitting it with the prevailing wind….but then thats my opinion from a short clip and as an outsider…

    but also..after reading the story of your adoption and what you’ve said..and how you’ve been well brought up to have an intelligent and inquiring mind… underneath that overly “americanized” exterior there beats a heart of gold of a good parent who wants the best for their kids ..

    • cafewitteveen says:

      I appreciate your perspective on this, Pete. Thanks for taking the time to offer it. You’re right, he wants what he thinks is best. It hurts that he doesn’t realize how much it hurt me that he said this to strangers at my wedding.

      He’s not translating in his head. He’s been speaking in American since he was 14. What you might be reading is that he had a “speech” prepared to deliver to the entire wedding party, but when he found out that there wasn’t an open microphone for giving toasts, he went around and told people individually what he wanted to say publicly.

      It would have pissed me off too much if he would have invoked god into our godless ceremony. His opportunity to toast us was at the rehearsal dinner, to which no one made any toasts, and it’s also a point of frustration for Tina and me.

      The shear disappointment that my parents express and the inability to listen or accept me as atheist is what bothers me. It’s not that I haven’t told them I don’t believe in god. It’s that they seem to press their fingers in their ears and shout “lalalalalalalalala!” when I do so.

      So I guess I should just go back and start believing again so the Witteveens will be happy again, right?
      :)

  3. Petursey says:

    When i said translating I meant..not the language Dutch/English…but translating “what should I say in this social situation that makes me fit in and make me look good ?”

    Jeremy… deep breath..if they xtian as they seem to be nothing will ever change their minds…unless they do it themselves and you’ll never change them…. but as I said before say your piece..say how important it is for them to understand how you think…and also say that you do not expect them to accept it but agree to differ and understand how it makes you feel and that you’d rather not hear xtain talk/disappointment…. it may take a few weeks/months for the air to clear…. but they love you , they raised you and they’re not just going to walk away…and if they do..then it’s their loss. You’ll have a clearer head, less stress and be healthier..

    I’m happy to help..thats what friends are for..even though we’ve had a virtual friendship for a short time I feel I know you and Julie really well and know that if you were round the corner we’d all be really good friends…

    • cafewitteveen says:

      That’s interesting point you make about translating into this situation. Tina and I talk about how my family often have a lot of difficulty in public situations. They would never admit it. I think I know what you mean.

      And I completely agree about the immediate (seemingly) connection made between you, me and Julie. We’re like cyber soulmates. It’s just the way it is. Some times the connection is made, and it’s really cool.

      All hail what the present has given us and what future will bring.

  4. Petursey says:

    and not forgetting Tina ..the wonderful Mrs Witteveen :-)

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