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With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza?

Posted by on September 26, 2006

Purely by accident I stumbled across Robertson Davies, and then across this:

“Oh, this Christianity! Even when people swear they don’t believe in it, the fifteen hundred years of Christianity that has made our world is in their bones, and they want to show they can be Christians without Christ. Those are the worst; they have the cruelty of doctrine without the poetic grace of myth.”

-Robertson Davies, Fifth Business

When I first registered to vote, I registered as an independent. I don’t remember if I was leaning towards Green or Libertarianism or what, but at any rate I had some clear idea of what I wanted and I was equally certain that I didn’t support the Democrats. The strain of this nearly killed my poor mother. I clearly wasn’t a Republican, we all knew that much. To register as anything remotely liberal was, to her thinking at the time, to register as a sort of lapsed Democrat — so why take support away from the Democrats in favor of a weak imitation? To me, of course, it looked different: the Green Party provides things that neither Republicans or Democrats offer, and that’s what I wanted. I wasn’t just going to hop the first party train that traveled to the same part of the country I wanted to go, not when I knew the exact name of the town I wanted to visit.

I am often confronted with the religious equivalent of that. There seems to be a general opinion that to be aetheist in America is to be a lapsed Christian. I usually hear this from Christians, Davies being a notable example. It’s funny to me that these Christians seem to feel a belief in Christ is a negligable part of their religion: I’ve got a moral code more or less aligned with theirs and I live in the right part of the world for it, so I must esentially be one of them. After all, aetheism is a lack, not a presence, right? So I obviously have a hole in my soul-bucket where religion should go.

The truth, of course, is that it’s a belief in something different, not a non-belief — I’m aetheist, not agnostic, and not a faded version of a Christian. There are those who don’t like it, just as there are those (crazy people) who don’t like my eyebrows or my giant crooked feet, but it’s an unchangeable feature of me that Robertson Davies and everyone else is just going to have to accept.

Bones, schmones. There’s no hole in my bucket.

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