Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Polite Non-theist

Last night, a member of the clergy was wandering the hospital, blessing the hands of the nurses and doctors and other care providers. I was in a patient's room when she went through the nursery and she asked me in the hall if I wanted my hands blessed.

If I am at a gathering and there is prayer, I will bow my head in respect for the beliefs of those praying. I have nothing against the blessing of hands or the laying on of hands or whatever religious ritual you wish to engage in (unless it is spiritually marrying 14 year old girls, of course).

I smiled at the lady who offered to bless my hands and very nicely said, "Oh, no, but thank you for asking." (Once some-one at work asked if I was feeling ill and I told her I had a little cold and she grabbed my arm and starting calling on Jesus to heal me, which I wouldn't have found as offensive if she had A) asked me, and B) we weren't at the bedside of a woman who was, at the time, pushing out a baby.) I will show respect when you are performing your religious rituals, but for me to actively participate in something I do not believe in, is not respectful, it is a sham.

And I got "the look". That taken aback, slightly aghast look. I saw it recently when an acquaintance told me I needed to read some book as a supplement to my Bible studies and I very politely told her that I wasn't a Christian. She could barely comprehend what I had said.

I know there are rude, in-your-face atheists out there, just as there are rude, in-your-face theists out there.

But I am polite. So stop giving me the look. Show me the respect I show you. Save your Satan and hell speeches for the rude.

Thank you very much.

Loki sez: This look?


Japee said...

I hope it was one of the students that gave you the "look", since the chaplains should know better.

I go to it every year to take pictures, never get mine blessed but am usually charmed by the ceremony. I like it that someone is impressed by the power of nurses hands on a patient.

JanetLee said...

Joan - I'm not sure who it was, I've seen her many times. She recovered quickly and was very nice, it was just that initial reaction to being turned down. I suppose she wasn't expecting it and I suppose that is what sort of annoys me some times.

Marcheline said...

I'm with you, girl. Respect goes both ways.

I love attending other people's faith-based ceremonies and festivals when invited, and am always respectful and interested... but when people corner me and try to force me to join their team (as it were) I get rather pissed off.

There are as many pathways to heaven as there are walkers... in my book, at least.

- M