In Defense of the Yeshua Fog, Sincere Familial Reconciliation

jesus-king-copyn1 copyI continue getting amazing feedback about the Yeshua Fog Conundrum, a.k.a. learning that my family has been reading my blog long before I knew it. The entry continues to get lots of hits per day. Thank you.

The emails and support have been much appreciated. It reminded me that I need to give an update, because (ONE) it’s been consuming a lot of my time while not hanging here at Le Café and (two) I hear you chomping at the bit from here to hear some news.

Not only has a gigantic weight been lifted from my mind and shoulders, the whole debacle has brought me closer to my family. This should speak volumes for them. And I hope it speaks volumes to the many who are still toiling over how or what to do with their disbelief.

My family has had the patience and foresight to reach out through the fog. And maybe they’re afraid that if they say anything awful, it’s getting blogged  for all to read.

Dude, Are you going to see Yeshua Fog tonight. I can’t wait!

My brother Jon and I have grown significantly closer. In fact, Jon says if he starts another band he’s calling it “Yeshua Fog”.

Ever since I “came out” about my non-theism, our relationship has been slightly strained. We’ve always been close, best-friend close. And despite that he calls often, he started changing in different ways. One returning issue was he changed his vernacular. He’d tell me about a bit of news about the family, and he’d say, “Hey, Jer, pray, errr, keep this in your thoughts.” The word “pray” never left his mouth. Jon got quite good at not saying “pray” to me.

While I appreciated his attempt to not offend me, I found it unnecessary. No one should feel coerced into changing behaviors. I know what he means. Prayers. Meditation. What’s the difference? I understand prayer — to a Christian — is a literal pipeline to the ears of their creator. And while I don’t pray my brains out when I’m on a plane taking off or landing anymore, I still “pray”, which means I mentally focus on the day, what I did right or wrong, savoring a meal or a conversation is a way to self betterment and mental health. No one disagrees on that.

If Jon, or anybody, thinks they are offending me or making me uncomfortable by asking me to pray or telling me that they pray, I don’t speak for all nonbelievers when I say, no, I’m not offended, uncomfortable or angry. I will secretly judge you :), but I won’t be uncomfortable.

To their credit, my family has altered their behaviors to make Tina and I comfortable at family gatherings. When my family is here, they don’t pray before meals. We appreciate it. I imagine they do something with their eyes open, as not praying before meals has proven to cause heartburn for Christians. It says so in the bible.

Everybody’s Getting Closer

After the shit hit the fan, my wife Tina emailed SiL (my sister in law) and said (in a nutshell), “Hey, sorry if Jeremy said something that hurt you guys. By the way, I don’t agree with Jeremy. I believe in a god. I don’t agree with organized religion. I wanted you to know.”

I think Tina threw in a “love bomb” and it exploded all over SiL’s face. SiL responded by saying, “We should be closer.” The next thing I know, Tina and SiL are phone buddies. Those two were separated at birth or something, because they love all the same shows, love all the same porn, and hearing them talk is likened to an aural orchestral laugh fest. All of it is true except the porn bit.

I couldn’t be happier.

En Mijn Papa doet toch ook mee hoor*

I’ve been patiently waiting for a response from my Dad. He first reached out last week when he sent me an editorial from a Jewish web site condemning Atheists for being big assholes on Blasphemy Day.

You might be thinking, “How the fuck is that reaching out?”

I started responding to the editorial by writing a tome-sized diatribe back to my Dad.  As I’ve pointed out several times — he sends me forwards, wily nilly without explanation. Most the time, they’re as dumb and false as Donald Trump’s hair. Dad does it to get a rise out of me or his other liberal friends. So I typed out this 10-page rebutting apologetic letter. Apologetic in the “Christian” sense that I was explaining it from an inside pro-atheism perspective. But then I stopped myself, deleted all of it and wrote, “That sucks that Atheists offended people. Do you want me to respond in full or did you just want to send as an FYI?”

His response was, “I liked the conclusion of the author calling for toleration and lets live together as friends even when we disagree.”

If my heart was a cookie in the oven, the chocolate chips just started to melt. The old man reached out.

Last night, I was at my 9-ball match. I received a long email from Dad. To continue the metaphor, my heart went to chocolaty goo.

For one, it had to have taken him forever to write. He hunts and pecks. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been coked up, pulling all nighters writing it for two weeks.

In a nutshell, he wrote, “I’m reading your blog. I’m not upset by it. I love you. I’m proud of you. Let’s go forward.” He said some other really kind words, and he reminded me that he and my mom have supported me and encouraged my writing. He cleared the air on some other items too.

This morning, I wrote him a response. Before I sent it, I read it to Tina. I choked up so badly mid way through that I couldn’t read it. I mean melodramatic acting bad. But for real. I’m not talking alligator tears. Large, full-scale T-Rex tears. Tina didn’t know if she should comfort me or put me outside to water the plants.

There is something about coming to terms with an idea that there is no hope for acceptance. That no hope is what it is, and it will never get better. I lost faith in hope, and then when I got hope handed to me on a silver platter, the emotions hit me like the Pink Panther dropping a piano from a five-story building on my head. I had written off paternal acceptance, because I thought ignoring it was as good as it was going to get.

Getting it is, well, an answer to “prayer”. Honk.

I want to thank my Blog for giving me this opportunity

See. Good stuff can come from bad. It’s not like things are hunky dory. It’s not as if we magically got better, and Uncle Starbucks just died and left us shitloads of cash so we never have to work again. There will remain to be hurtful aspects of the situation. My family will continue to believe. I’ll continue not. It doesn’t stop me from hurting about their tacit disappointment. It doesn’t stop them from hurting behind closed door. Belief is strong with them, and I’m sure they think I’ve got screws loose for non-belief as I think the same of them. Oh trivial things and how we hurt people.

What gets me choked up is that it’s not only all out on the table, it’s all out on the blog.

So I’m announcing that I’m shutting down Le Café Witteveen. Last call for alcohol. Get the fuck out.

Nooooooooooooooo. In fact, I’m continuing to expand. If I keep getting mentioned at Julie’s blog and by Petursey, I will need more space. I’ve seen Le Café at the top of some blog rolls that I’m completely honored by, so thanks to you quiet lurkers. If anything, I’m putting more effort in promotion and promoting the Twitterati at the same time. We may not share a web address, but we share a common good and the best method of expansion is word of mouth, tweet, email, facebook, et al.

In Defense of Belief and Dim Sum

One point I want to make crystal clear is my brother, SiL, my DAD and all believers aren’t morons. It’s like what I say about muslims after they were enemy-ized after 9/11, make hateful remarks all day long, but see how much you love a muslim when you get in the back of his cab. Anyone who you don’t agree with, disagree with them all you want, but when you put a face on that disagreement, it’s harder to disagree using violence, vitriol or dumbfoundingly fucked up language. That’s why gay marriage not being accepted is a sham. If believers put a face on those who they were treating like second-class citizens, they’d vote homosexuals their fair rights.

I’m not saying all this because I feel obligated. Jon is a guy I wish you all knew. He’s cool. He makes belief cool. I would go to his church if I lived near him. Like I said before, I wouldn’t believe. I would go, though. I’m not the only one.

Don’t underestimate atheism by the way. We’re all around you. I know an atheist man who sings in a Baptist church choir weekly, because it’s the only place he can go to express himself through song.

But Jon and my sister in law … they are fucking cool people. SiL says and does stuff that throws me through a loop. They love the best music, good food and sipping/slamming/guzzling a cocktail or two. Their faith enables them to be cool, although I can’t describe to you why or how. They love secularism, music, books, movies, all that stuff. Somehow they’ve integrated non-secularism into their routine, their lives, their well being and it works for them.

I swear to you, if you were at a party, you’d be talking to one of them. My brother can rattle off stuff he’s read about or he can connect with more types of people because of his well-rounded reading and memory. He can spout off jokes better than most and he’s the best source for learning about new music.

And my pain-in-the-ass Dad. He’s well read, I mean extremely well read, as I’ve said before. He has a firm understanding and knowledge of the world, of business and of people. And when you were done talking to Jon and SiL at the party, you’d be talking to Dad.

Phew. Glad we mopped up that mess. Let me clap off this dust.

Now, back to business. Somebody remind me, when’s the next Blasphemy Day again?





(*Thank you, Petursey, for the translation. For all I know it says, “Praise Petursey, for he alone is master)

6 thoughts on “In Defense of the Yeshua Fog, Sincere Familial Reconciliation

  1. I retweeted this to my mom. In the hopes that she can see that being one being religious and the other atheist doesn’t mean the love isn’t there between us.

    Thank you for writing this – it was just plain humbling.

  2. I agree with T, I have definitely learned a lot from this, and I truly yearn for the freeing feeling you have now.

    It sounds like your family is more understanding on the whole than mine is. I know I will only find out if I try, but after finding out how I voted in the last election I was told by my mother to “take that secret to my grave” and make sure my father never finds out. That wasn’t very assuring 😦

    Your family sounds lovely though, I wish you all well.

  3. Jeremy..see I told you your Dad would be fine 🙂

    Well written thought provoking blog entry as ever and it show through what you write what an amazing set of parents and family you have…as well as the wonderfully lovely Tina as well.

    Apologies to your Dad if my Dutch was 100% perfectly translated…but he’ll have got the meaning… untranslatable words in Dutch like “toch” “hoor” and “wel” as bloody difficult to get right..even after 8 years of speaking the language.. I number 1 start speaking to my mother again and number 2 tell her about my blog ???

    1. Thanks, Petursey. You were the calm voice of reason when I was the hysterical crazy man. I know it may seem like this is sarcastic, but it’s somewhat sober and true.

      I say, one step at a time with your mom. First speaking terms. And you could ease on in to talking about the blog over a couple drinks.

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