Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Brother Jed came to Purdue and called me an Atheist...

Here at Purdue University, a certain fire and brimstone preacher ("Brother Jed") was visiting our campus today. My friends from the Purdue Non-Theists told me yesterday he was coming, and of course my first reaction was: "Oh no. Here we go again." He has visited Purdue many times in the past, so I am familiar with his style of preaching: we are all horrible, decadent, depraved sinners, etc, along with women are for making babies and other things. So today instead of trying to speak to him (many tried their best to talk to him or to ask him questions only to be frustrated with the responses) I decided to become "Brother Mario".

I took a guitar, sat on the grass across from him, and wished everyone that was passing by a good day. Some of my friends (who I alerted of my plans) were already there talking to him before I showed up so...some kept talking to him and some sat with me singing songs by the Beatles, Green Day, Kansas, and other songs while smiling and saying hi to everyone. (Thank you to all of you who sat with me :) Thank you very much).

He was a bit confused by what we were doing...

Why did I do this?

I am not going to lie: it was fun :)  But more than that it was my way to go against everything he said but in a peaceful and non-confrontational way; he had a "You Deserve Hell" sign, I had a whiteboard with "Brother Mario says: Have A Good Day". Many people said hi back to us and some thanked us for being there.

The most interesting part about this whole exercise was at one particular moment, when he said something about Atheists and then I realized the following: he was calling me an Atheist because some of my friends who were arguing with him were Atheists. The funny thing was that there were Christians arguing with him as well but I guess it did not matter to him.

So, Mario the Christian became Mario the Atheist just like that. And I thought that for me to become an Atheist I had to admit that to believe in God is like believing in Thor, or in Sky Gandalf, then wake up tomorrow and pledge alliance to the armies of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

There is a a proverb in Spanish: Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres. It is loosely translated into "tell me with who(m) you hang out with and I will tell you who you are". I guess hanging out with Episcopalians, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Non-Theists, Improv people, Musicians, etc makes me an Atheist. I had no idea.

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