The motto of Patheos is Hosting the Conversation on Faith. In that spirit, I follow most of the other blog channels on social media. A blog by Father Dwight Longenecker from the Catholic channel popped up on my newsfeed this morning and I have not stopped laughing since.
The headline of Fr. Longenecker’s piece is Atheism is just so…dull. Intriguing, right? I wanted to know why he found atheism boring, so I took the bait. What I found was hysterical and I cannot stress enough that you should go read the whole article for yourself.
Dwight – he will forgive me if I call him by his first name, so long as I confess later – makes some bold claims about atheism. Like this:
“I’m sure there are some fascinatingly fun atheists out there, but I have yet to meet one.
They’re all so serious all the time. So unimaginative. So pedantic and literal and dull.
I mean, what can be more tiresome than someone who’s always rabbiting on about “Facts” or “Evidence” or “Arguments for the Existence of God…’”
I will ignore the good Father’s ignorance of the semi-colon and get to the point at hand. Apparently, atheists are boring because we demand evidence and rational argument over ad hominem attacks like calling someone boring and unimaginative; we are dullards for shying away from hasty generalizations and arguments from personal experience.
Fine. Let us assume for a moment that atheism is boring. What does religion offer that makes it so exciting? It turns out, quite a bit. You see, like a good circus sideshow, religion has curiosities. The following is a list of my favorite reasons why Father Dwight thinks religion is more exciting than reality.
- “In religion you have curious things like happy little elephant gods or those holy water bottles with Mary and the crown unscrews at the top.”
It seems that atheism is undesirable because it is seriously lacking in the “Joyful Pachyderm” and “novelty water bottle” department. Noted.
- The Jews have fun too. They have festivals with lots of good food and laughter and dancing and the guys let their hair grow in those crazy curls on their head and they have hats. Very good hats. We have hats too. Hats with cool names. We have miters and birettas and zuchettos…Name one atheist hat. Just one. See you can’t.”
Checkmate atheists: no official headgear. I motion that all atheists immediately adopt official headgear. Leave your suggestions for official hats in the comments section below! You never know, maybe you’ll be a trend-setter.
- “And we’ve got monks and nuns and St Simeon Stylites who sat on top of a pillar in the Syrian desert for 35 years. Now that’s interesting. Show me an atheist stylite. Show me just one who lives in a cave and eats locusts and throws himself into stinging nettles naked.”
Are you taking notes, fellow atheists? We must be more exciting and attractive to “converts” by standing on things for prolonged periods of time and acting like we live in an episode of Survivor Man.
- “Even the wacko religions are more interesting than atheism….like Mormons who wear special underwear and believe when you die you will be the king of your own planet somewhere”
Wait. Hold on a second. Why is having a pair of lucky underwear more “wacko” than pitching one’s nude body onto a cactus? It seems that should be the other way around.
- “Think of all the really cool and interesting and beautiful things that are religious: all those Gothic cathedrals, the monasteries, Baroque churches.
Show me an atheist building as wonderfully kooky as a Baroque church.”
I have to admit that there are people who have been inspired by their faith to construct wonderful works of art, though I am left wondering what an atheist building would look like. Actually, I wonder why atheists would construct a building for atheism in the first place; wouldn’t that be like building a doghouse for the dog you don’t have?
So, religion is exciting and interesting because people do a bunch of weird stuff. It is kind of like Portland, Oregon, but with more holy war and less unicycle riding Darth Vaders. To Father Dwight, being an atheist is a lot like being a 40 year old trapped in a Chuck E. Cheese; you can’t use the ball pit and you know that the 7 foot mouse is just a teenager in a poorly ventilated suit that smells like vomit and balls. Where is the fun in that?
Father Dwight misses the whole point of what atheism provides for so many; he certainly misses the mark on what it means for me. To me, my atheism provides me the opportunity to be in awe of reality. That’s it. It is that simple. I don’t need elephant Gods or naked cactus divers; I don’t require trinkets and gibberish to be an interesting person.
However, I still want the hat.
Note: I have an over-abundance of semi-colons in this article in the hope that Father Longenecker can use it as a guide to proper sentence construction.
(Image: Mar Gregory / Creative Commons)