Yes, I know it is NOT Christmas yet and I know many will think it far too early to be discussing it, however, it was brought to my attention by an e-mail I received this morning inviting me to a carol service.
When I first acknowledged my atheism, after spending my entire life being rather devout (as children my brother and I would actually play at going to church and taking the communion), I went into a period that I can only call mourning. There was a positive side. For the first time in my life I felt very free. I felt relieved that the bad things in my life and the lives of my loved ones were not the result of some divine punishment for an unknown wrong, but instead they just happened. I was relieved of the worry that no matter how hard I tried to please something, I could never really understand what was right and wrong due to all the conflicting messages. I was freed of the concerns I had that basic human rights that I was a strong advocate of were forbidden by this deity that we were all forced to love and worship, and that if we didn't put our best effort into it, if we tried to sham, it would be known anyway. The constant worry and fear I felt melted away. But there was a cost, and that cost was the traditions and community that I had been surrounded by my entire life. The cost was my mother being disappointed in me and saying some hurtful things. I isolated myself within my own family and lost the family I had in church and with those of faith. That was what I had lost and mourned. However, once it (reason, rationality, the breakdown of my personal cognitive dissonance) had clicked (and what brought that about is a story for another time) there was never a moment of temptation to pick up the comfort blanket of faith and belief again.
For a while after this, I felt I could not enjoy the things that I once had. I could not enjoy carols and midnight mass and celebrating Christmas with my family without feeling a sense of betrayal, of myself and by myself, and to this day I am not sure where that guilt stems from. I suspect it was a hangover from my religious background. That was then. I now find that I can enjoy carols and certain moments that create part of Christmas. But I don't enjoy it because I have faith. I enjoy it because I find it beautiful. I find the songs lovely to listen to. I find church buildings and architecture to be inspiring for the vision and work that went into conceiving and building them. I love spending protected time with my family enjoying a winter's feast. Beautiful and enjoyable things are still in place without the faith that goes with religion. God does not make them special, it is humans that have done and continue to do that. So I will go to the cathedral and enjoy a choir singing Christmas carols just for the pleasure I can get from it, celebrating a tradition that is part of my personal history and that of my family.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!