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  #1  
Old 28th March 2012, 01:03 AM
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Default If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

When I mentioned to two of my best friends that I was flying down to Melbourne for it, I was met with this look... a look my vocabulary is failing to label at the moment.. but like they thought I must be joking, like they were hoping I was joking, but at the same instant realizing I was not. Like it was something I should be embarrassed or ashamed about or something. It kinda stung a little actually.

This might have almost made sense if they were religious, but they're not. I was the best man at their completely secular wedding. They would both say they're atheists themselves. I've been friends with one of them about 12 years now, since high school, and the other is his wife, who I've known about 7 years I think. They're no stranger to the fact I'm a serious atheist, they've been subject to my ranting and raving on about religion, and borne witness to me debating with a couple of christians a couple of times.

Immediately after the look the questions were "Are you serious?" from one, "Man.. that's just as bad as <theist friend> going off on a catholic youth trip to Israel" from the other.

My reply was something like "Of course I'm serious, it's going to be awesome. It'll be a 3 day pissup with people who think like me."

Then questions became mocking; "What are you going to do, all stand around talking about what you don't believe in?" To which I started talking about the speakers, comedians, the dinner, the type of crowd that will surely be there and the awesome people I'll surely meet, how Dawkins, Harris, Myers, Krauss, AronRa (all rockstars in my world) were all going to be there!

"I have no idea who any of those people are. Anyway...."

And the conversation shifted on with the air of avoiding a subject.

Upon further pondering while driving home, I figured out the strongest reason I'm going. It's because I got that look, even from my best friends. It's because they don't understand why I'm going that I am going. It's not only the lure of people who think like me at the convention, but the absolute lack of them here (that I know). I'm an alien up here, and I want to feel like there are other members of my species for once.

My friends are great, but none of them read the things I read, watch the things I watch, listen to the podcasts I listen to, get angry at the things I get angry about. And vice versa. We only half overlap on a Venn diagram. I want to mostly overlap with some people! Not in a dirty way, but I won't rule that out either
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Old 28th March 2012, 01:17 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

@moph: it sounds like you'll be in for a good time in April, then.

FWIW, I find it interesting that your best friends couldn't find it within themselves to be happy that you were going to have an enjoyable weekend, at least. Unless they've had difficulty dealing with your outward atheism in the past, and/or fear that this is another step "away" from them and their views on the subject?

Although somewhat different, reading your post reminded me of the following:
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"I used to think it was a tough thing to be a Christian in this big, bad world. You want to see something interesting, try not being one."

- Norman Barker (Dan Barker's father, as quoted in Godless, p. 59)
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Old 28th March 2012, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

I think you will make some much more interesting friends. Seriously if they live in the western world and don't know (let alone love) Richard Dawkins, you are excused for thinking they are idiots D:
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Old 28th March 2012, 07:27 AM
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We get 'that look' from family and friends too. One friend calls it the 'god bashing thing'. None of them are religious, but they can't understand how we feel strongly enough to attend the GAC. It's because, like a great deal of Australians, they are apathetic and don't have an understanding of how the religious influence in society and government impacts on them. I just think they are lucky someone in their life (us) gives enough of a shit to stand up and fight for a secular society.


i sent this from my iPad
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Old 28th March 2012, 07:37 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

Hi Mo, interesting post!

Up until last week I hadn't seen 'that look' but I did encounter it last weekend, although not from a friend. Mr Praxis and I were in a camping/outdoors shop looking for thief-proof bags. I was wearing a t-shirt which proclaims "Atheists are nice!" and the guy behind the counter smiled and said "Atheists are nice aren't they?" so of course I beamed and agreed. I then asked him if he was going to the GAC. He said he hadn't heard about it so I started telling him a bit about it.

And that's when I got "The Look". In this instance it was a sort of half-smile, a bit quizzical, an ever-so-slight lip curl and if I'm not mistaken, a bit of an eye-roll. Then he pretty much said what your friends said:
"What? Are you all going to sit around for three days talking about how you hate god?" So, like you, I started listing guests (at least he had heard of many of them and started to look surprised and a bit impressed) and then he just shrugged and said "nah, I'm not like that. I'd never go to something like that".

So I told him that was a shame to miss out on some of the finest thinking minds on the planet and that he had time to change his mind, given it was here in our home town.

Still, it's a bit surprising that your best friends haven't got a handle on it. Then again, I have this theory (rigorously unscientific of course!) that there are a great many more 'quiet atheists' out there than people realise. Some never speak up or out while others get to a point where they feel that it's time they did - usually compelled to do so by something unacceptable happening that affects them - and quite often we see them arrive here on this forum. Anyway, don't denigrate your friends for not understanding. If they are atheists though, once it's over and the DVD comes out, sit down with them and show them parts of it so they can actually see what they missed

Don't worry, you'll meet stacks of fabulous people but remember, the only way everyone going 'thinks like you' though is that they don't believe in god(s). Everything else is up for grabs

See you in a few weeks!
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Old 28th March 2012, 08:22 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

My friends are used to me being a rabble-rouser and doing the slightly unusual but I still got both 'the look' and the "What on earth ... ?"
My partner won't come with me -- he's rather reclusive and only tags along with me when I go to writers/music festivals to make sure I'm safe! -- but now regrets not coming to his favourite city so he can sample as many coffee shops and cafes as possible while I'm busy getting my brain food.
A couple of years ago I joined a local choir. I love singing but eventually the fact that half our repertoire was god-bothering songs really got to me. As did the fact that we rehearsed in the local Anglican church! There was an uncomfortable moment when I was challenged by the choir leader over my discomfort at singing praises to a mythical big man in the sky. I suspect she was discomforted by discovering there was a rat in the ranks. Word of my non-believer status spread to the priest and thence to his wife who bailed me up to preach Jesus to me in the main street of our small rural town. That was all too bloody much. I needed to find 'my own'.
That's when I started hunting for atheist links on the interwebz and eventually found the GAC. Booking a ticket felt really good. I'll be with others who share the same views. This will make a refreshing change from being the oddball in a small town (pop. approx 3000) with 8 churches and/but where hypocrisy and xenophobia rule.
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Old 28th March 2012, 08:27 AM
Worldslaziestbusker Worldslaziestbusker is offline
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

I get the look from friends and family, and I don't even have to get on a plane to attend.
I return the look when a friend or family member starts up about teh gay, or abortion, or exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation, or...
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Old 28th March 2012, 11:01 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

mophosophical,

Perhaps your friends think that you've got religion; that you've become one of those militant atheist fundamentalists that are so often chided in the media, a so-called 'aggressive secularist,' as Mr Pope likes to call us.

Little do they know that you're really going for the beer and the free-love!
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Old 28th March 2012, 11:20 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

Quote:
coffee said View Post
I needed to find 'my own'.
That's when I started hunting for atheist links on the interwebz and eventually found the GAC. Booking a ticket felt really good. I'll be with others who share the same views. This will make a refreshing change from being the oddball in a small town (pop. approx 3000) with 8 churches and/but where hypocrisy and xenophobia rule.
There'll be so many people wandering about, coffee, but try to find forum people and make yourself known. I've decided to wear a name-tag as it made things much easier last time and I had all sorts coming up to me and saying hi

Quote:
THWOTH said View Post
Little do they know that you're really going for the beer and the free-love!
SHHHHHHH!!! *furtive glance*
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Old 28th March 2012, 11:31 AM
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Default Re: If you're going solo, what did your friends say?

Hey Moph,

I get the same shit all the time. I get a few patronising tones "good for you" or more often "why the fuck are going to that?" Hence I started this thread because I wanted to get some other people's responses.

My favourite response was Praxis' "Because I can." That's all I use now
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