Surviving your family
It is with some trepidation I write this – but my mother claims not to read my blogs and I will soon know if she reads this one!
Basically my mother still holds on to the Jehovah’s Witness version of Christianity – still for example gets the Awake! and Watchtower magazines. Although she says she does not attend meetings she wrote me a letter that “destroyed” evolution as a fact (the key one being that leaves are green for our benefit). When I spoke to her about macro evolution she admitted that the letter was not all her own work – an Elder had helped drafting it using a Society publication.
There was a time when we went to a restaurant, and over dinner my mother remarked about a beautiful walk she did. The branches had gaily danced in a summer breeze, the grass was a succulent green, flowers were blooming an array of colour. I was entranced till she then shouted how could I be so ungrateful not thinking there was a creator god behind it all? So loud that diners looked at us. So bad when I went to the bar a guy came up and bought me a drink saying he thought I needed it.
I mention this because this sort of thing is not uncommon in a family when a child turns their back on their parent’s faith. Though I never bring it up, the fact that I am involved in the Richard Dawkins Foundation has made it difficult for my mother. The blood campaign against Jehovah’s Witness Dogma has made it worse. This came to ahead when my mother visited me recently – the language would have made a sailor blush (why do Christians think it is moral to swear at non-believers?), and I had to ask her to leave.
Thing is of course that she will not read the Dawkins’ or Jones’ books on evolution. She will not accept the validity of the theory (or the significance of a theory in science) nor the understanding and predictions that genetics have verified. One reason is because such authors have renounced the devil as existing – therefore they can be used as tools of the evil one.
If you are encountering this in your family please realise you are not alone. Many people go through this. Thankfully I do not have to live with it, but I know many teenagers that under their parents’ roof do not feel like this shelter is their home. All I can say is that when people cannot agree to disagree it is hard. I know my mother does it because she really thinks come death or Judgement Day I am going to be destroyed forever – which is what I think will happen when I die only I think it will apply to us all.
In short it is done out of love and fear. Love because she wants me to be happy with her and the family forever. Fear because Jehovah is a jealous god, but also a fear because she will not allow herself to understand science, nor expose herself to what it has to say. It is a god of the gaps approach for her because she says she finds it easier than science. She also finds comfort in believing in the New Age Conspiracy because the madness in the world – there is a design about it!
I have given up trying to explain off my own back how I came by my views. Yet unfortunately I will be taken to task over it. Yet though it can be very emotional at times, I try to remain calm. Because though it is hard to take your own mother shouting at you, seeing her get upset, getting angry with you I know that it is her way of trying to “save” me. I also know that if ever I fell on hard times she would be the first to come to my aid – I am not disowned, cast aside. There I am fortunate, I know some people take Jesus at his word when he said he came to separate Fathers from sons and mothers from daughters.
How do you cope? I think you have to understand where it is coming from (fear and love) and I think you have to try and keep it as civil as you can. Do not be the first to raise your voice, and remember that you can distance yourself. Also if the only communication you ever seem to have is when you argue then you need to change the dynamics of the relationship. Go on, cook your parents a lovely meal, take Dad off to the pub (easier in the UK than the USA I know as a teenager). Tell Mum how tidy the house is, and how grateful you are for what they do do for you. So grateful you want to help!
Because I will always be grateful for my parents. I actually enjoy being alive, without their care I would not have survived. Even now it is good to know that I can depend on my mother’s love if the writing was on the wall. Never will I repay the debt I owe nor am I expected too. That is the bond, and I do not see why religion and non belief should ever be allowed to get in the way. Shame on those cults that encourage that splitting a family in two.