Atheist in México
This is a guest post by Andrés Cervantes. Originally published on Reddit.
First of all, I have to say that English is not my native language, so if you find some weird grammar, or strange use of a word is probably because I messed it up, so please, as I know you are going to judge me, leave that in another corner of your mind and reserve that closer to your more conscious you to read and meditate my words. I’m not a pro writer, I do not write for a living (even if I would like to) nor live to write. This is a part of me that has been overwhelmingly important in the last years as I see how in my country many aspects of life are just focused on “accepting the life as it comes, work hard, and pray to god” and after many years I just decided I needed to take it out of my chest. I considered many options: A YouTube channel, post it in my own blog (which is of course full of corny teenage posts in Spanish and some failed attempts of other things), even thought of a podcast but after all, here I am, and I think it is a good decision.
In advance, thank you for your patience, because you will probably read things that may lack of sense sometimes and, sometimes I will try too much on making some. This is the life, livings, thoughts and attempted chronicle of a fellow atheist, I hope I do well.
You shall have no other gods before Me.
The worst sensation in life is probably the one that you feel when you are not allowed to make questions. When you have to remain silent looking as if you were understanding everything someone is saying. Even worst, when you have to pretend that you agree with them. I was around 12 or 13 when I was being prepared to get my first communion. I do not know if in English there is another term for it, but in Catholicism in Latin America there is “catesismo” which is pretty much the same as Sunday school in a church: you go, you pray, you learn some new prayers and get the child-adapted censored version of every gospel, and finally you get hyped because sooner than later you are going to receive the body of Jesus in you, and for that, you have to clear your mind, by faithful, take confession and shame yourself for your “sins”. Oh, I forgot, there is a BIG party at the end, which as a child, is very compelling: good food, a lot of friends, gifts. Like a second birthday in the middle of the year but well, you have to pre-swear eternal alliance to God, Jesus and all the heavenly troop. In those “lessons” many school moms were selected as teachers. I won’t talk of how or why I disliked some or liked other, but there was a constant in them: They all where ignorant. I started noticing it by the usual kid method to note something: asking a question over and over again, and then getting the same frustrating answer. “’How can God know everything and at the same time we can choose?” “Why Judas Iscariot is punished, If Jesus loved them all, shouldn’t he had fled with them before and tat war Judas would be innocent and both survive?” More questions, same answers: “because he suffered and died for us” “Because that’s the plan”. So, they didn’t know, or they thought I would not comprehend it of I was told. In retrospective, as an adult I asked the same thing once to a cleric. A friend of my family who was of all confidence of them a benevolent but as I came to believe, very naive man, and he couldn’t answer either. Everything was mystery. So I went to my first communion. Nervous, dressed like a man but more child than never had been. I even confessed my sins 5 minutes before the ceremony. So far it took me another 3 to start thinking “impure thoughts” about the girl I liked at the time. I was going to receive Jesus in a body full of lust. An ugly sin that all the fatty moms my school told me it was more than impure, it was filthy and not proper of an honorable man to have sexual thoughts. Well, I did, I received the communion wafer, I drink the wine and nothing happened. There were no thunders nor lightings, I even felt good after it (It must have been the wine) and everything just went well, but the questions remained. Was I going to hell because what I did? Should I confess this too in my next confession? or should I burry it in my conscience like the time I watched TV when I wasn’t supposed to. So again, I asked. “Father, if God knows everything, and God knew I was going to sin, why did he left me? It was a plan? Is it part of the plan that I’m destined to hell and there is nothing I can do? Am I a Judas?” The only answer I got was to confess my sins, repent and pray. Again, there were no answer from my “religious authorities”. So I prayed God and of course, he did not answer, and I assumed he didn’t want to answer me because I received his son in a body full of filthy sin. I was as I saw it a ruined temple, and as a ruined temple, I should rebuild myself before he could come to live in me again. Well, is no secret I wasn’t able to do it. Every time I tried to justify something I did not comprehend I came to face a dead end, I asked to my religious relatives, and got the same answers, or not at all: “God loves you”, “He is all forgiving”, “You only need to have faith”.
Imagine being in the head of a kid who has questions he cannot answer, nor his parents, nor his “authorities” I was lost, and even if most of the time I tried to not to think about it. In a religious school like the one I attended was just a matter of time I started going down the spiral again.
Do you remember what I said about how Ignorant the School moms where? Well, I just thought they were moms, not priests so I was justified if they did not know something but, why then where they in charge of preparing us to receive something as important as a God in our body’s and “hearts”? As the time passed and I grew I started noticing something. Some kind of a pattern that I really didn’t realized until much years later, like those sudden realizations you sometimes have while you get lost in your thoughts while you are in the car, in traffic, in a hot day at 2 PM. They were all society moms. They didn’t (aside of one or two not so honorable exceptions) have any kind of real job, or career, or studies. They were mere repeaters of words, and they visibly struggled with questions in contrast with the math or English teacher, where in math was always rooms for questions and reasons of why and how here, it seems that even questions were offensive. As if I were trying to evidence something. For them even the bible aside of their duties of teaching was a complete black box for them, and whey acknowledge it. We as kids where only allowed to read some part of the bible, then even gave us little compendium books, and they made us buy a “bible for kids” book after some years at school. More sooner than later I realized that nobody in my family even though they used to go to mess every damn Sunday had read it by their own more than two pages, let alone entire books like Job or Numbers. Never they have open a bible for “pleasure” as I thought you should do as I did with my book of The Little Prince. Even today, my mother remembers better the Disney adaptation of the exodus The Prince of Egypt than the real passage.
So all the knowledge they praise to be from the bible really came from popular culture. The three wise men are not even mentioned in three of the gospels, Jesus is never described to be blonde and blue eyed and never, in any passage it is mentioned is birthday. Therefore, I had no reliable source of information. Should I had trusted the bible? Should I had trusted my family? Should I had trusted the priests or the brothers of the order that owned my school? I was confused, and I was at the edge of starting doubting.
Now, as an adult, I smile because that was maybe the best time to start, as a mere youngling, as ignorant of the world as I could be, but trying to figure it out and make every piece of my world fit in a more or less logic way. So I started reading and asking, and doubting.