Guest Post: A Kindler, Gentler Me…Well…

My friend Elliot wrote to me about an experience he had the other day and asked if he could post it here.  I suspect it may generate a fair amount of discussion, so here it goes.

Just about every morning I get up very early and go to my convenient local coffee shop, chat for a few minutes with the folks that work there, get a large dark roast, sit in my favorite spot, read my kindle and pretty much keep to myself. I enjoy the solitary time of viewing interesting blogs and getting pissed off at the latest political news. And…being a creature of habit this is a ritual for me… up until this morning.

Today, everything went as usual, almost.

As I got ensconced in my favorite spot, dark roast and kindle in hand, a small group of religious catholic compatriots sat next to me, popped open their bibles, and in not necessarily quiet voices, started to discuss scripture, loudly. Now, up until about a year ago I was a liberal live and let live kind of non believer. I would have thought everyone is entitled to their own opinion about whatever, no matter how misguided and just ignored them. That was a year ago. However today…I immediately yearned for the music of Tim Minchin and on impulse fired up my YouTube Ap and put on…The Pope Song, loud  enough for them to hear but not to disrupt the coffee shop. Oooops. I think they got pissed off because next thing I know the manager comes over and says I am offending the group with the song and could I please either put in ear buds or lower the volume or move.

Out of the blue a conversation I used to have with my grandfather, who was an extremely religious and learned man in his own right, came to mind. He used to say to me in Yiddish, that sometimes you can reason with people gently and easily and sometimes you need to use a coal shovel, metaphorically speaking. Today, was a coal shovel kin of day, metaphorically speaking.

So with that in mind I said to the manager, “Nope, can’t do any of that stuff.” I did say loud enough for the little group next to me to hear and looking in their direction that if they are not comfortable with my taste in music that they can either move or leave but I had no intention of changing my musical selections as a matter of fact I like the song so much I intended to listen to it for the remainder of my time there. This coincidentally, was probably going to be as long as they were there. Then I offered to buy them coffee because they looked thirsty. They declined my offer and at that point I wished for them to have a nice day. One of them, the leader of this merry band I believe said they would pray for me.. I asked if they take requests because if they were going to invest the time I would like them to pray that they all became atheists. Ooooops again. With that they got up to leave and I asked if it was something I said.

I guess the moral of this story is that not everyone appreciates Tim Minchin the way that I do or if people are going to review religious beliefs near me they need to expand their musical horizons. All of a sudden I have an overwhelming urge for Gelato.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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