Saturday, June 11, 2011

Commercial Break #6 God is Not Great! Not sure my blog is either!

Note: This blog is an advertisement!
It is not uncommon to see locals wearing t-shirts with biblical slogans; psalms and stuff. Hubby has a t-shirt that says ‘Jesus is Coming (look busy)’. He also has one that says ‘I am not American’. I have one that says ‘Trailer trash and darn proud of it’. We don’t wear them here. I’m not entirely sure why not!
I have written many blogs that question and make fun of religion here, and have worried that I may have offended the faithful by questioning religion- time to reflect… Here endeth any apology for my 'religious' blogs. Is it time for the faithful to apologise?
I’m not an academic, by any stretch of the imagination. I grew up on a council estate and thought broadsheets were oversized bed linen until I was in my 20’s. I was accused once by a very stupid man in a position of power of being too academic for a school I worked in. Can you imagine a teacher being ‘too academic’? What he really meant was he was too stupid to understand the latest ‘academic and educational research’ on school improvement I presented him with. How he ever got to be in the position of ‘headteacher’ I will never know… Oh wait a minute – I do know. He had a mate (who also thought I was too academic to work with rough council estate kids) who gave him the job… I’m not bitter. I’m also not an academic. I have the utmost respect for intellect. As they say, I would like to think I am intelligent enough to know how stupid I am and how little I know.
I have never been religious but it inevitably impinges on my life – we were a ‘Church of England’ family (you know – the one invented for convenience in the 16th Century) in that I was christened and we went to church for weddings, christenings and funerals. I never felt I had to justify my beliefs and never felt challenged or the need to challenge others. I objected strongly to religious door knockers who have no right to disturb my world by trying to impose theirs. I did enjoy ‘engaging’ in debate on occasion but they never seemed to ‘listen’ to me. I got married in a church largely to please my Nan. She died the week I booked the wedding. If I had believed in God I might have taken it for a sign! I should have cancelled it then. Ironically my wedding was the only time a display of ‘atheism’ affected me badly! Someone who should have been there in the house of God that day to see me get married wouldn’t come in because, following a family tragedy, she no longer ‘believed’ in God. Never made any sense to me. I didn’t believe either but it was such a beautiful church I associated with my childhood that if I was gonna do it, it was the only place for it! I think it was more a case of someone ‘blaming God’. Didn’t make for a happy day. Afterwards, I felt so strongly (for many reasons, not least my atheism) that I shouldn’t have married that we considered an annulment. If anything threatened a divorce – it was being married!
It is only since being in America that I have felt challenged by the absence of any religious belief. I would not have been permitted a visa unless married to my hubby. Being together 20 years and having 2 children is not sufficient in America to warrant access as a family. Some ex-pats have had to marry in order to get visas.
I was asked very early on if I had found a church. When I said I wasn’t looking the person persisted – ‘when you are ready come to our church’. I had to be blunt and tell her I would never be looking for a church. She ignored me a week later in the supermarket. Very Christian. This isn’t usual and my church going American friends do not discuss my atheism with me. It doesn’t stop them talking of their ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ or bible study, or church to me. I don’t feel ostracised. I just feel their ‘judgement’, a sense that I don’t measure up (and I accept that this is my perception not voiced in any verbal way by them explicitly) and it makes me want to scream.
Having studied (and I use the term lightly) history I understand how nebulous the truth is. It is never a given. Anyone in pursuit of the truth should always be applauded. I have just read the most incredible book in pursuit of truth. It is ‘God is not Great’ By Christopher Hitchens. I read ‘God is not Great’ at the pool. An Irish friend suggested I cover it with ‘playboy’ magazine, the idea that porn at the pool would be less offensive than a book challenging religion. I wanted to get ‘caught’ reading it to see why might be said but I know it would be considered offensive. My atheism is something that is fine here as long as I don’t mention it. The book challenged me intellectually. I found myself having to look up stuff on the internet that I did not have sufficient understanding of to process the meaning. I frequently had to look up words in the dictionary to make sense of a sentence I had just read. Having finished it I might just have to read it all over again. It put into rational, intellectual and academic terms something I have believed for a very long time. ‘God is not great, and religion poisons everything’. I almost feel evangelical about this book. Everyone should at least read the first chapter. If everyone read the whole book with an open heart and mind the world would change overnight.

Holiday break:
Have I blogged as much as I can about my experiences of North Carolina? I set out to cover the strange life I found myself living in NC by themes and hope I have achieved this. I know there are many things that I haven’t covered (some I wouldn’t know where to begin!!!) so if you can think of any please comment. Blogs don’t flow so easily of late. Readership has changed too - I have more readers in the USA than the UK now. I think I might be boring my friends at home... or they have forgotton me already!
I may post the odd blog over the next couple of weeks (perhaps they are always odd) so look out for new posts. You can subscribe and I think it emails you with new posts! …but it is time for a blog holiday. I have little idea of who reads my blogs and I am so glad that you do/did. I hope you enjoyed them. xxx
I will leave you to read ‘God is not Great’ and I will start to pack up my life once again in readiness to move to pastures new. We had it officially confirmed today that we will be moving to Texas in September.  I feel certain that it will not be long before I feel a blog coming on! A new improved blog with new improved experiences (Something tells me Texas will be rich in material!)


  1. Stranger said!
    Thanks Paul!
    TEXAS!!!! I'll have to start all over again with doctors, dentists, hairdressers.... I could just repost the old blogs and change the name of the place!
    It will be an adventure... or something!

  2. I read them all Jane!, and they're brilliant! Keep em' comin missy, can't wait for Texas - ride em cowboy! I'll try to keep the ideas flowing for you from Blighty x

  3. my own blog still wont let me comment as me!

  4. Maybe you've been rumbled!

  5. Jane does Jonesboro Texas!!!!!!!

    god is Not Great !!!!!!! What a fantastic book........ I read that Salman Rushdie thought it was fantastic too ...... with only one issue the title was too long...... by one word....... :-))

    I'm reading Hitch22 a memoir ........ the first chapter concerns his mothers suicide....... having suffered suicide in my family it talks to me a lot.....

    Anything by Christopher Hitchens is always worth reading......... his interests and experience really seem to mirror my own....... but he brings so much learning and intellect to bear on these topics....... its always mind expanding to read him....... :-))

    Sadly his state of health is drastically bad ....... stage 4 cancer...... as he says....... there is no stage 5.......

    But he can be content he really has brought writing and teaching of such an extraordinary standard to millions and he really has made an important stand against superstition.....

    He has made a historic book that could looking back be part of the begining of making truth and common sense more obvious to people than superstition.........

    Its incredible that in most of America stating the obvious truth about reality is thought to be rude......... while spouting fairy stories and superstitious lies is correct etiquette........


  6. Stranger said:
    Thank you so much Jez for the introduction to Christopher Hitchens - Mad I know but I feel a 'better person' for having read it (or more correctly - better about myself!)
    Hitch 22 next I think!
    Cheers Jez - ever the voice of quiet reason gently informing (correcting?) my mad American perspective!xxx

  7. Jason said:
    I wont let me sign in either!
    Keep blogging Jane, when u can
    It makes my day reading them, sorry if I only get to read them once a week
    Roll on Texas Blogs
    I feel like I've been to Cary, learnt how not to rob a bank, dinner parties and swingers and not to ask for a towel!

  8. Although a Christian, i found this book pretty engaging. Hitchen makes some valid and interesting points that i've never even bothered to consider. Overall, while this is a controversial book, i would recommend it to others, as I believe everyone should be open to new ideas and gather insight to the other side of the argument.