I had a dream that I was back at church again. For some reason I was sitting right up at the front, there must have been no seats left further back, where I normally feel safer and relatively out of reach.
The service was a seemingly normal one. There was singing that made me feel uncomfortable and happy clappy speeches about Jesus, all the regular things you would expect from an evangelical church, all the things that I dislike about church. But. There was something very different. The Pastor was actually asking people to share their views on religion, christianity, belief, Jesus, god, and despite my better judgement, I couldn’t prevent myself from contradicting the views of the congregation, the views that I found narrow minded and archaic. In the real world I wouldn’t have said anything, but I felt strong enough to share in the dream world, share my singular viewpoint in a sea of views that were contrary to mine.
I remember the chilling feeling of their eyes. The feeling of the eyes of the congregation looking at me with pity and ready to jump on me, the embodiment of sin, with their hatred of who I am and what I represent.
I was asked to share my view in front of the church. I stepped up with anxiety in my step, ready to show them that I am not the incarnation of evil, that I am a good person, how there is beauty in the world without needing to believe in god. I was deeply afraid, afraid of speaking up but I felt that I had to. I had to give my thoughts, in case there was someone in that church who was doubting and needing to hear my story.
I told the congregation about a dream I had, where I was shooting through the universe, like a meteor, flying past the stars and the planets, taking in all the beauty. This dream, along with other awesome experiences of being engrossed in nature, left me more in awe of the universe than any religious experience that I had ever had. This awe was something profound and having this belief didn’t hurt me or anyone else.
I was mocked and talked over. I was told how evil I was and how in need of god I was. I dealt with them well but I could feel my heart pumping, the anxiety rising, I felt like a hunted animal in a trap. In the dream I was a show piece for atheism in front of a group of christians and it was stressful. I found the way they looked at me difficult. Like I was damaged and in need of help. I need no one’s pity.
It was a nightmare because again I was alone in a room of people who do not understand, like I was in real life so many times. I was trying to change how they think about atheists and they were not interested in trying to grasp it. I value the ability to express myself and stand up for what I feel is right, and in that dream, that ability was being squashed.
Feeling alone and unable to say what is on my mind is my idea of a nightmare, and so it was.