Friday, March 20, 2009

I am an Atheist

As part of's "I am an Atheist" campaign, Friday, March 20, 2009 is the first online "out" day for various non-religious/non-believers on Facebook. It's migrated to the blogosphere over the day and I'm pleased to be a part of it. In short:

"We rally for freedom of thought, the right to believe and not to.

We rally to erase the social stigma around nonbelief.

We rally in solidarity with those who live where freedom and equality for nonbelievers is only a dream.

We rally to tell the world: we are nonreligious, we are equal, respect us.

This is not a hate rally: we are against false beliefs, not those who believe in them. Intolerance will not be tolerated."

I didn't really take all of this too seriously until I saw Montel William's appearance on the Oprah show on Tuesday and had been evangelized to via email. And now my dander is up and my ass is chapped.

First off, MS is not a gift that has given my life meaning. I was not "given" MS so I would return to serving my lord and saviour. As a non-believer, I question whether there is an actual meaning or reason for existence at all. If there is a "greater meaning" it needs to happen in this life, now, rather than in some fantasy place after this life is over or in some future life where I try and work out the problems of this one.

To say that a disease is a lesson is to fudge the truth. Yes, there are problems in the environment, in the food systems and with lifestyle choices, but to act as though MS or cancer or HIV or whatever is divine retribution for the abuse of the planet or (more often) for the abuse of one's body is as bad as holding out an $85 a week colon cleanse as the solution to someone's problems. Or a vitamin, diet or exercise program as a cure-all to viruses and disease. Jesus/God/Higher Power are just as futile and false hope as any of the whack-job "cures" I've been offered over the past 40-ish days.

I know that in some circles, quoting Karl Marx is a conversation ender but here it is.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Marx, K. 1976. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Collected Works, v. 3. New York.

Offering me religious redemption is as offensive to me as offering me platitudes or junk science to treat my disease.

I've been accused of being miserable and not wanting help. That is simply not true. I want help I can use. I have no problem with having to adapt my life to my disease, but telling me that babies, disability pensions and volunteer work are "fulfilling" and meaningful is a slap in the face. That may be *your* life; it's great that you can find some contentment in that, but that is not what I want for *my* life.

I am an Atheist. It's funny that the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, the 12-Step movement and neo-paganism helped me get there, because I'm fairly certain that wasn't their intent. I am also very against peer-support as a result of my attempts to deal with sexual assault, drinking and drugs, mental illness and quitting smoking. With my experiments in trying to find someone who isn't completely Pollyanna about MS and a fully functioning person with a life not defined by MS, I'm convinced more than ever that peer support is how you keep the sick, sick.

In summary, if you've got some useful and practical suggestions about how I can retain my sense of self, keep at least some of the things I love in my life, and how I can get and stay well, then I'd appreciate your peer support. I'm not getting any better. My condition has not changed since my first post about the improvements. I need useful solutions in order to deal with this.

But if all you've got is "you gotta change", "your life as you knew it is over, suck it up princess", and/or "pray ta Jeesus", you aren't my peer.

As a side note, I'm working on a project with the MS clinic's social worker to find something to be inspired by. Since personal stories don't really do it for me, I've decided to find inspiration in music. I've asked my friends who've expressed an interest in helping me to send me a single mp3 of a song that inspires them. Since last night I have collected four songs. As a result of this project I am now using my iPod as a defence mechanism. Here's the song of the day:

No way of knowing if she's ever coming back
No way of knowing if I care or not
No way of knowing if she's right or if she's wrong
No way of knowing if I'll carry on
And I'm alive
And I'm alone
And I've never wanted to be either of those
Alive Alone - The Chemical Brothers - Exit Planet Dust


  1. NZ has horrible internet so I can't send a song but if you have the ability you should download: Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole.

  2. I'll see what I can find! Thanks for the contribution!

  3. First off, I believe in God, but if my MS is a gift from God, no thanks!

    I try to just think about MS as a condition of my life. My four year old daughter wears glasses and will for the rest of her life (barring surgery). I don't think she remembers a time when she could see without them. It's just who she is. I think about my MS that way. I "break" more easily than a lot of my friends, and my life choices have to be different because of who I am (and that includes having MS). I had my first episode 19 years ago when I was 21, so I guess I've had a while to get used to it.

    It's got to be hard for you now as your life before is so clear to you. I'm not sure I remember what it was like before.

    BTW - I had the same experience with peer groups.

  4. Lori,

    You've inspired me to start my own blog about my MS. I would love your thoughts on it: