May 14, 2010

Atheist Anger and Getting Past It

Anger Controlls Him
Anger Controlls Him (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I started this post, my plan was to produce a brief reaction to a recent post by Godless Girl about getting past the anger toward religion and religious believers some of us feel. I know I've been references a lot of her posts lately, but it is her fault for writing such good ones! Before I realized what had happened, I had already written way too much for a single post and realized I was still barely scratching the surface of what I wanted to say. I see now that this will have to be a multi-post series.

The sort of anger that some atheists feel toward religion and even religious believers is a subject I have been meaning to address for a long time. I've had a fairly different experience from that described by Godless Girl and, not surprisingly, it has led me to a somewhat different set of conclusions about this sort of anger and what to do about it. In this post, I'd like to start with an overview of Godless Girl's recommendations. Later posts will address how my experience compares and some of the different conclusions I have reached.

Like Godless Girl, I can admit that anger has been an issue for me. Something tells me that my regular readers have already figured that out. I can relate very well to the following description Godless Girl offers because it describes me too:
I’ve spent a long time feeling buried by my resentment and bitterness towards believers, religious leaders, and all of that bullshit. I know I’ve written a thousand tweets and dozens of blog posts about how silly and frustrating I find religion–specifically Christianity. At my worst, I couldn’t even talk to some believers because I assumed the worst and sneered at the idea of what they’d say about prayer or God’s will or some other vacuous superstition.
Godless Girl's post goes on to describe how she moved on past this anger. It is definitely a thought-provoking read. The highlights of what worked for her are:
  • Friendly relationships with religious believers have led her to feel and behave kinder toward them.
  • Recognition that one's anger is one's own issue and not really one for which others can be blamed.
  • Taking the time and effort to get to know people as unique individuals rather than merely as believers.
I am glad that she has found a way through her anger, and it makes sense to me that these would be helpful aspects of that journey. At the same time, I've had somewhat different results. I'll elaborate in the next post in this series.

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