Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

A last letter to my fundamentalist parents.

Dear Mom and Dad,

This is, I think, the last blog about this. I don’t blog everything, just things that I need extra eyes on to see if I am communicating clearly, and properly understanding the responses. I never intended this blog to become the huge issue it did. The great advantage to blogging, and why I started in the first place, is that I have a written record of my thoughts. I didn’t have a direction when I wrote the first blog about you guys, and it certainly wasn’t supposed to be a personal attack, though now reading a week later, I can see that it very clearly seems to be a personal attack.

My point (though I didn’t know it at the time) was not to say “OH you bad people! You HURT me.” My point was only that I was that I hurt. I don’t want you to apologize for hurting me, because I never thought it was intentional. Really, all I wanted was for you to agree with me that you had done something wrong. You don’t have to feel bad for doing something wrong, what good would that do? I mean, some of this stuff was almost two decades ago. But when you didn’t write back and say something to the effect of “You’re right. We messed those things up.” Then, I did want to say “You bad people!” because I was pissed at you for not doing what I wanted. Reasonable response to frustration, but not really helpful. Buried in these things I did really want to say were some pointless little stabs that I really didn’t mean to say, I was just mad. I’m sorry about that.

It doesn’t really answer the question of why it was so important to me to have you know that you hurt me. I had to think about that for awhile. See, I want to be your friend. I’ll always be your son, and I’m proud to be. But unlike being your child, which will never change and is just the way things are, friendship is a choice. I came to the conclusion that we are not friends, which hurt a lot. That was first blog. (My beloved…). For us to be friends, we have to start off afresh, and so I wanted to prove that we were never friends, which was the second blog (A letter to my fundamentalist parents). It was the process of writing those and reading your response that brings me to this blog.

You guys did your best as parents. I plan on making some improvements as I raise mine, but you did the best you could and that’s all a person can ever ask. I’m able to make these improvements because you did a significantly better job raising me than your parents did raising you, so as I said, you did good. I’m an adult now and I want to be your friend. To do that you’ve got to know me, or at least want to. I complain that you never knew me and put the responsibility entirely on you. Some of it is your fault, but some of it is honestly mine. I began hiding the parts of my personality that you would find less palatable around the time I was 9. Now, I can rail against you for not creating an environment where I felt comfortable being myself, but it was 20 years ago. Me carping will not change anything. I don’t need you to apologize, I only need you to agree that you did create an environment where I was uncomfortable being myself.

I need that, because if you don’t think you did anything wrong, I can’t be your friend. If someone hurts you and says “That didn’t hurt, you just think it did” you can’t trust them. Dad, I feel like your response to my last blog said “Yup, we understand that we hurt you, and we understand that wasn’t OK.” That’s all I need from your side. Mom, I love you, and I will continue to tell you so, but I have a hard time trusting you, for a totally different reason. I know that hurts, but here’s why. (edit: Mom, I wish I hadn’t brought this up in the first place.  I bring it up now only because by since I already said it I am sort of committed now.   I love you and I’m sorry about this.) You told me that your dad repeatedly “spanked” you till you passed blood had bloodied welts.  And you told me that’s OK because you deserved it. And you told me that if front of other people. I’ll always be your son, but it’s hard to really be your friend. Friends, good ones at least, love each other, and when I tell you I love you, I know that to you, part of loving you can include beating the hell out of you. You being OK with that makes loving you feel a little cheaper to me. There will always be little hole in our relationship, not because you told me you were abused, but because you told me you deserved it. Until you can tell me that what happened to you wasn’t OK, it’s hard for me think that your definition of a relationship being OK is going to be good for you and me being friends.

That’s your side, and it just leaves mine. I’ve doubted Christianity since I was about 9. Not because of you and dad, but because the way my brain works. My brain doesn’t run on faith, it never has. My brain is wired for evidence, either by an evolutionary process or by a God with a deeply ironic sense of humor. I never believed I was saved for more than a few hours after my conversion, which I did many times. I never had any experience which I though God was the most likely explanation of. Deep down, I knew that, but I wouldn’t let it up.

I didn’t realize I was lying to myself of course, I thought I was being a good Christian and pushing away my doubts. But I was lying to myself, and in the process, I lied to the people closest to me. Despite the Bible’s teachings, Christian does not just mean one who has faith in Christ. “Christian” today means a slew of likes and dislikes, and political leanings, and generally, really bad music. I was never good at the faith part, but I was awful at the other part. If you want to be my friend, you are going to have to accept all of me, not just the parts that turned out like you hoped. A child is respectfully silent when you are wrong. A friend isn’t. A child hides the things that you disapprove of. A friend doesn’t. I like to have a glass of wine, or a beer once in awhile, I enjoy a cigar occasionally, and from time to time I enjoy looking at pornagraphy. When I feel it is the best method of communication, I curse like a sailor. These are things which I know my liking makes you uncomfortable, but I am a package deal . This is what I am, and I will make no apology for being me, and it is your choice to be friends with me or not.

If not, I will still call, I will love you. You’re my family. But personally, I’d like more. I don’t ever expect you to agree with me about atheism. Nor would I wish it. I got here by a process. I don’t want you believe in atheism because I like it, nor would I wish that process upon anyone, though I am glad I went through it. I don’t ever expect you to respect my destination. I hope someday we’ll be good enough friends that you respect my journey.

You Son, Israel

January 24, 2009 - Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Small Car, Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. Dear Israel, You have no idea the pain this causes me. Finally, my Dad did not spanked me until I peed blood. That is the truth. Somehow I allowed a miscommunication that I meant to correct but didn’t. I sometimes do that in a confusing situation. Love Mom

    Comment by Mom | January 24, 2009 | Reply

  2. What a drag, just to blow a few minds.

    Comment by chris | January 24, 2009 | Reply

  3. That is way better. I am sending a personal reply here as I think I have some incite you need but I don’t want it to interfere.

    Comment by Anna Alvarez | January 24, 2009 | Reply

  4. This is awesome thanks for being so honest!!!! More people should be – you are very strong for still wanting a relationship!!!

    Comment by becky kenner | August 18, 2009 | Reply

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