Today, Billy and Tyley helped me begin the installation of vinyl floor planking in our unfinished basement bathroom. As usual, it began with me becoming stressed out at their incessant bickering and complaining, bickering with each other and complaining to me. It’s a pattern that I’ve experienced on countless occasions. In fact, on the way home from The Home Depot, where I had purchased underlayment, I anticipated the upcoming difficulty with my teen sons and grew instantly apprehensive. Anxiety overtook me as I entered the house and had to round them up from their rooms, where they were playing video games as usual.
I feel no respect from either of them or my wife, Shu Mei. All three of them belittle me to no end. Billy tells me to fuck off on nearly a daily basis, while Tyley tells me to shut up and calls me various demeaning names. Shu Mei used to tell me how stupid she thinks I am but has just retreated to hardly speaking to me at all. Seventeen years ago, when we were dating, she spoke with me for hours on end about every subject in the world. Now, she barely speaks a word to me. If she does speak to me, it is always about Billy and Tyley, for she is frustrated with them also. While Tyley is a normal difficult teenager, Billy is on a whole different level. When people talk about the typical teens and their accompanying difficulties, they’re talking about someone like Tyley. They have no idea just how difficult teens can be. Billy was diagnosed with ODD from a psychologist a few years ago. That means he argues with everything and has little respect for authority figures. If he continues in this way, he’s going to have a very difficult future.
I try my best with them, being as patient as I can. I cannot imagine what my father would have done if I had spoken to him the way that they speak to me. He probably would have beat the crap out of me. He spanked me as a young child, but only beat me once as a teen. It was when I came home at 4 am, and my parents were waiting for me. I was hopped up on some drugs and didn’t feel the beating until the next day. I remember him picking me up and throwing me into the living room window, cracking the glass. I held my arms up to defend myself, which only served to invite him in to hit me repeatedly, as he said, “Oh, tough guy, huh!?” My mother was in the background crying as he pummeled me senselessly.
My brother David carries with him the same short-temper that my father had. I had forgotten about this until two days ago when he blew up at me for challenging his precious religion. If only he realized his thin skin is a direct result of his refusal to open his mind and realize he’s been enslaved by his church throughout his life, as had I. He, like so many others, is so entrenched in his belief in that fantasy that he’ll go to his grave never knowing the truth.
I know about everything David knows concerning his church, perhaps even more, for I was cut out of the same cloth and spent a great deal of my life studying the gospel. I’m not smarter than David. On the contrary, he’s much more intelligent than me. He had the wisdom to pursue an entirely different career late in life because he learned it would make him more financially successful. He demonstrated tremendous courage by breaking out of his cocoon and going for his dream. We each have different focuses in life, though. One thing I chose to focus on was what is the meaning of life. David thinks he knows. He’s closed the book on that subject. The difference is that I kept it open and, subsequently, discovered things I never had before. I never expected to have my devotion to spiritual things dissolve so quickly. But, dissolve it has.
Much of my evolution to a nonbeliever came from listening to those at the forefront of the atheist movement. I read books and listened to speeches by various activists. Names that come to mind are Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, and Matt Dillahunty. Lately, it is Aron Ra whom I have learned a great deal from. His appearance is that of a disheveled biker, but he says things that I completely agree with, in both an intelligent and down-to-earth manner.
My brother thinks there is nothing bad in believing in the God of the Bible and Book of Mormon. I, too, felt that way once. But, now I wonder how that could be good to allow ourselves to be thoroughly committed to something that is not evidently, probably (or even possibly) true. Particularly, having faith in that God is the most dishonest position one could take, being exclusively auto-deceptive with no way to determine the real truth about anything. The entire history of religion and current events shows that a belief in God is the catalyst of the most heartless cruelty and thoughtless negligence and stupidity ever committed.
The belief in a loving God, who has heaven prepared for us after we die is a comfortable delusion shared by many. It is similar to drugs and alcohol that are addictive but make people feel joy at times. At least drugs and alcohol don’t have the same failure rate as prayer. Praying is nothing more than wishing. Crudely, I often repeat the phrase “Poop in one hand and wish in another, see which one fills up first.” It has been said that two hands working will accomplish far more than a thousand clasped in prayer. The reason people kneel in prayer is that they are taking the position of a slave – not to a god, but to men pretending to speak for a god that they made up in order to control you. They want you to get them to do their work by calling it the Lord’s work. (Credit Aron Ra as the source of many of those shared thoughts.)