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Discussion Starter #1
My mother and father are religious people. Not overly, but they are religious. My father sings in a choir, and both parents go to mass. I used to play organ in church for years, from the age of 11 up to about 20.

I was never too enraptured with any of it, but it has got to the point now where I don't have time for it at all. I'm 34 now, I have one brother, he is 17. I haven't talked to him about it, but he has said he is an atheist on occasion.

So how do you handle a situation where you have parents who are around the age of 60, who are very unlikely to change their outlook. I feel that if I was to speak my mind on it, not rebelliously, just matter-of-factly, that it would hurt them. Yet I feel bad about having to hold my opinions back, not so much because I want to change anyone, but more because it is simply dishonest.

Do you think we should talk freely to our parents about such matters? Or is that trying to change something from a generation that is unlikely to ever change, and might it actually debase their peace of mind, and harm our relationships?

I have a feeling I'm being a bit lame about all of this, and that I should probably just say what I think. But it doesn't feel that easy when considering my parents.
 

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Maid of Time
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Speaking from one "black sheep" to another, what exactly do you want to gain, and what exactly are you planning to tell them? (That you're leaving church? That you no longer believe? That they are wrong and should change their faith? etc)

What level of disclosure to them about your particular views are you asking about, and what kind of outcome are you hoping for?

EDIT: I was raised in church along with my sister and was very active; I was writing CCM music as a teenager and handling the music in worship services at a young age, even ran a praise band for ten years when I was older. Also attended spiritual direction courses, wrote curriculum for teaching in church, etc. But there are just too many flaws and doubts for me to buy into that particular style of belief. I had always wrestled with the more conservative evangelical beliefs and finally left in order to get my peace of mind back. If anything, any faith I have is more in a Thomas Merton and/or rational mystic kind of vein; but that's too shady for my conservative relatives.

My sister (who is married to a lawyer-turned-church planter) and I don't have much relationship because of different views, and my mom probably still fears I am going to hell. The rest of my religious family ostracized me, and I lost all but a handful of church friends who I don't see anyway since I moved.

I found it impossible to talk to them about any of it. They don't really want to hear. They either view it as an attack (regardless of how I phrase anything) or as an attempt to convert them, and they have already decided I'm wrong, so to listen would be "garbage in, garbage out."

Sometimes maintaining what peace you can is all that people will allow you to do. Not saying that you might not have more flex, but you really need to know what you are trying to accomplish.
 

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I dont think anyone even in my wider family is religious and aggressive about it... I dont think I could be raised to be religious, it is just thing that wouldnt make any sense to me as I would gain my "wisdom"...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I haven't really thought it through to a point where I know what it is I would talk to them about. I don't go to church, and haven't gone for the past 5 years, at least. I'm just concerned that even the slightest admission of non-belief would hurt them in some way.

For example, there is a concert coming up, and it's a big deal for my Dad, there's an orchestra and organ, and choir. And the organisers want me to play for it. It's not a religious event necessarily, but it almost is at the same time - it's in a church, they will surely sing masses by famous composers. I dropped out of all that a good while ago, but they want me to play for it this year.

Half of me feels that I shouldn't do it, because I'm tired of doing church type things when I don't see it as progressive or true to who I am. The other half of me feels like it would be making my Dad happy, and supporting his cause so to speak. It also pays cash so there are a few variables.

The only way I can do something like that is to look at the financial gain aspect, but being happy in life means holding to a premise of doing something that satisfies and challenges you. Making cash from doing something you are entirely uninterested in is a bad plan.

Maybe I'm rambling, or have gone of topic in some way, but essentially I'm wondering if we should cater to our parent's sense of comfort by pretending to be somewhat aligned with their religious outlooks and beliefs, when really we are not?
 

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Maid of Time
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I haven't really thought it through to a point where I know what it is I would talk to them about. I don't go to church, and haven't gone for the past 5 years, at least. I'm just concerned that even the slightest admission of non-belief would hurt them in some way.
I don't know your parents (my mom is 70 currently, to note her generation), and it depends on their personalities and beliefs. It was actually a huge deal for my mom when I stopped going to church, and she was having nightmares about me burning in hell and her never seeing me again for all of eternity. She was very upset about it. So depending on the parent, it can be emotionally devastating... let alone blaming themselves for you not believing and whatever other ways they think the world should have worked.

For some people, they can ignore/hide from some truth (such as "my kid doesn't believe what I do") until it becomes spoken directly, out loud, and suddenly now it's real and they need to deal with it. Sometimes they do and can, sometimes they can't. (If they could deal, they'd be less likely to hide from it to start with.)

For example, there is a concert coming up, and it's a big deal for my Dad, there's an orchestra and organ, and choir. And the organisers want me to play for it. It's not a religious event necessarily, but it almost is at the same time - it's in a church, they will surely sing masses by famous composers. I dropped out of all that a good while ago, but they want me to play for it this year.

Half of me feels that I shouldn't do it, because I'm tired of doing church type things when I don't see it as progressive or true to who I am. The other half of me feels like it would be making my Dad happy, and supporting his cause so to speak. It also pays cash so there are a few variables.

The only way I can do something like that is to look at the financial gain aspect, but being happy in life means holding to a premise of doing something that satisfies and challenges you. Making cash from doing something you are entirely uninterested in is a bad plan.
I think the cash is nice. If I were in your situation, and made the decision to do it, though, I think I'd probably be focusing more on how much it would mean to my dad. i.e., I'd try to do it out of love for him and to help him out.

After all, regardless of your or my beliefs, classical religious music from the greats is pretty incredible and moving in its own right. I might not be Catholic, for example, but Ave Maria is still very beautiful. It sounds like you might be unsure because you feel to play in this would send a signal to others about your beliefs that doesn't properly describe you; at some stage, when you have "outed" yourself or at least feel comfortable with yourself regardless, you would be able to just appreciate it as much. I just think it might be confusing because while you have broken away inside, you haven't yet affirmed that choice in the outer world, to get past it.

Maybe I'm rambling, or have gone of topic in some way, but essentially I'm wondering if we should cater to our parent's sense of comfort by pretending to be somewhat aligned with their religious outlooks and beliefs, when really we are not?
I don't know if I can make a blanket statement. There is something said about keeping the peace on things that don't matter or that can't be resolved and could create unnecessary division. However, there is also something to be said about being close enough to your parents to (1) be your own person and (2) allowing them to KNOW that person rather than trying to love an illusion. I mean, it might seem cruel to confront them now, yet at the same time it could be cruel to never let them experience who you actually are. Is that the sort of thing you'll also regret later in life, after they're gone?

I don't know if there is a "right" answer, I think the rightness comes more in your motivations and in the spirit by which you engage them, regardless of their response. You can't control their reaction, they need to take responsibility for that.

Can they deal with a more open conversation?
 
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Discussion Starter #6
I shouldn't have said that cash was the only thing that would motivate me to do it, because it's not, the fact that it would make my father happy would be a good thing.

The only thing is that he was the one who started me on the whole music thing, and I was never enthusiastic about it. I know that that is what parents do (developing skills in their kids that they would have liked to have themselves) but it sometimes feels as if I lost out on the opportunity to stand back and look at things for myself. By playing for the concert, I am almost slipping back into the old world of being controlled, at a time where I am trying to develop my own control and ability to be decisive.

The job I do is teach technology, but it is music related. I don't know, I'm at a point where everything needs a revamp. Like I want to break away from all the stuff I've been doing. I am also probably breaking away from what we were talking about so I better change track.

They probably could deal with a more open conversation, and it could be very refreshing for them. But the difficulty with the atheistic viewpoint is that it's very hard to arrive at any point of security of certainty. It's like a spiral which keeps getting deeper (that depth provides more interest and fascination, yes) but for people in their later years do they have the will or interest to look at something so deep? I think it would unsettle my mother a lot more than my father, but that could be way off. I can't really speak for the hearts and minds of anyone else.
 

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I am in a similar situation. My father works for a Christian company and my mother works at a church. They practically live by the Bible and everything in their lives seem so simple and formulaic.
I, on the other hand, am not religious. I currently take the title of being an agnostic, as I do believe there is some sort of a controlling force in this universe be it an intelligent, omniscient god or simply an underlying universal order in more simple, scientific terms. I am only sixteen, but I have never believe in god aside from a short time as a toddler, and that was only because I was terrified of dying while I slept. My parents, however, do believe that I have accepted the lord into my heart and that I am a saved human being, because I know that if I let them understand that I am an agnostic I'll never hear the end of them forcing me to go to church and attempting to show me the light, which would only push me towards atheism as a retaliation.
 

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Maid of Time
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Oh great. Now God has to get involved. :tongue:
I'm tired of God telling people what to do!

I am in a similar situation. My father works for a Christian company and my mother works at a church. They practically live by the Bible and everything in their lives seem so simple and formulaic. I, on the other hand, am not religious. I currently take the title of being an agnostic, as I do believe there is some sort of a controlling force in this universe be it an intelligent, omniscient god or simply an underlying universal order in more simple, scientific terms. I am only sixteen, but I have never believe in god aside from a short time as a toddler, and that was only because I was terrified of dying while I slept. My parents, however, do believe that I have accepted the lord into my heart and that I am a saved human being, because I know that if I let them understand that I am an agnostic I'll never hear the end of them forcing me to go to church and attempting to show me the light, which would only push me towards atheism as a retaliation.
Yeah, you are in an awkward position since you still live at home and are under their control in some ways. But only two more years, you'll get some distance and will be able to make decisions for yourself without suffering as much repercussion.

What kind of restrictions do they put on you, if any, based on their faith?
 
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Oh great. Now God has to get involved. :tongue:
I'm tired of God telling people what to do!



Yeah, you are in an awkward position since you still live at home and are under their control in some ways. But only two more years, you'll get some distance and will be able to make decisions for yourself without suffering as much repercussion.

What kind of restrictions do they put on you, if any, based on their faith?
I do love ordering people around. :)

Yes, yes. I am very much so looking forward to college and to finally be able to get away from everything and exam my lack of faith openly.

They put many restrictions on me. I wasn't even allowed to read Harry Potter until this year because it contained magic in it. Of course, I had already read it secretly at school. But I can't watch most PG-13 movies, and no R rated ones, most video games with violence are off the the list. Basically everything fun is life is a no-no.
 

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Maid of Time
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I shouldn't have said that cash was the only thing that would motivate me to do it, because it's not, the fact that it would make my father happy would be a good thing.
Well, cash is still a good thing. :)

I made some decent money playing for weddings and events, without needing much practice.

+ free meals

The only thing is that he was the one who started me on the whole music thing, and I was never enthusiastic about it. I know that that is what parents do (developing skills in their kids that they would have liked to have themselves) but it sometimes feels as if I lost out on the opportunity to stand back and look at things for myself. By playing for the concert, I am almost slipping back into the old world of being controlled, at a time where I am trying to develop my own control and ability to be decisive.
Yeah, I understand that. I have had some feelings like that myself at times. It might not have been the issue itself, it was my relationship with my parents and needing to establish my own autonomy openly.

The job I do is teach technology, but it is music related. I don't know, I'm at a point where everything needs a revamp. Like I want to break away from all the stuff I've been doing. I am also probably breaking away from what we were talking about so I better change track.
I think sometimes that is necessary, to toss everything and start over on fresh ground. To know everything you're doing is because you chose to do it and belongs to you, so to speak.

They probably could deal with a more open conversation, and it could be very refreshing for them. But the difficulty atheistic viewpoint is that it's very hard to arrive at any point of security of certainty. It's like a spiral which keeps getting deeper (that depth provides more interest and fascination, yes) but for people in their later years do they have the will or interest to look at something so deep? I think it would unsettle my mother a lot more than my father, but that could be way off. I can't really speak for the hearts and minds of anyone else, not even my parents.
I would probably not expect them to change their views, nor try to push them. I would consider it more an opportunity for them to understand where I was coming from and know who I was and what I thought about life. They would not be required to change their views nor critique mine, they just would need to listen, understand, and thus know me better....

I do love ordering people around. :)

Yes, yes. I am very much so looking forward to college and to finally be able to get away from everything and exam my lack of faith openly.

They put many restrictions on me. I wasn't even allowed to read Harry Potter until this year because it contained magic in it. Of course, I had already read it secretly at school. But I can't watch most PG-13 movies, and no R rated ones, most video games with violence are off the the list. Basically everything fun is life is a no-no.
Okay, that last bit gives me an idea of where they are coming from. The Harry Potter thing is big -- some Christians think the books are great, others are anti-HP. They're coming from a pretty vague idea of magic; in the Bible, it either doesn't exist (is fraudulent) or stems from the demonic and is thus evil in origin. In HP, magic is not that kind of magic; it's more like a science, a force that you can access in the world if you have the right knowledge and tools to tap into it. So it says something about how much care they do or don't take to distinguish between things like that. My one son (who still sometimes attends church on his own and helped out with a Christian camp this summer, although he's more agnostic in his approach and doesn't believe everything the church says) has read all the HP books and seen the movies, and they've been a positive influence for him.

College should give you a lot of diversity to explore, although the fact you're on the forum here says you're already exploring for yourself. I would probably just be careful not to drift into a position simply because it opposes your parents; they have been extreme, and it's easy to get polarized and take up the opposite view just because it's not theirs.
 
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I'm also from a religious family. Both my father and brother are called pastors and here I am, the black sheep of the family and they have no idea about it. Ever since I was little I've been singing in church, and I still do occasionally. However, I only do this because I don't want my parents to freak out if I tell them I actually don't believe in such things. I fear they might do something drastic such as try to convert me through force or think I'm possessed by demons. :laughing:

So as respect to my parents' belief, I just go with them to church until such time that I no longer live inside their house.
 

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I'm also from a religious family. Both my father and brother are called pastors and here I am, the black sheep of the family and they have no idea about it. Ever since I was little I've been singing in church, and I still do occasionally. However, I only do this because I don't want my parents to freak out if I tell them I actually don't believe in such things. I fear they might do something drastic such as try to convert me through force or think I'm possessed by demons. :laughing:

So as respect to my parents' belief, I just go with them to church until such time that I no longer live inside their house.

You are in my exact same position. Glad to know I'm not the only one.
 

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I have had a similar experience with a religious mother. My mother and I are very, very close, and at the ripe age of 12 I told her I would no longer be going to church and that her beliefs were ridiculous....that didn't go over well. I dealt with years of fights, and pleads, and tears (while a friend in a similar situation was sent to some kind of religious boot camp, and it worked on her). Now, I am 27 and my mother and I simply do not talk about it. I know it pains her deeply, which makes me feel terrible. Although, she accepts me for who I am and loves me regardless. It took her some time. But, my mom was in her thirties when we had 'the talk'.

My grandmother, on the other hand, is in her seventies. I would never even dream of telling her that I am an atheist. I do not have the courage to break her heart, as I know such knowledge certainly would (she is the matriarch in the family). I also do not want the family to look down on my mother as if she 'raised me wrong'.

I would only expose myself if I felt like I had to. It is a difficult line to walk when you are trying to be true to yourself, but in doing so, you may devastate the people closest to you. I guess you should be asking yourself which is more important to you....making your father proud, or being true to yourself?
 

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"Atheist on occasion"?

How does that work? Either you do believe or you don't?
 

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I came from a religious family too, like many people in this thread.

I'm an agnostic. I respect religion, but I just feel that holding a belief system 24/7 isn't for me.
 

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I would try to separate money from the realm of morality. If it was me, and I was confident I could do a good job playing, then I would do it for the familial bond, and for the joy of music. I would take the church's money, as they have enough of it. Don't leave money on the table, as they say. If you feel somewhat uneasy about the ethics there, then give the money to a worthy cause.

In terms of having a discussion or coming out atheist, I would do a youtube search for that very thing to see what others in similar situations have experienced.

 

If you are completely unsure about your parents reaction, you might want to think of subtle, non-confrontational ways to test the strength of their faith, or reaction to things that would counter it.

Like a video of the best "Hitchslaps" or "The Four Horsemen"

Just kidding, DO NOT DO THAT!

Perhaps something educational like the new Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or something like James Burke's Connections, just because it's so awesome. Something that gets them to see beyond the bible, but not blatantly offensive, just to gauge their reaction.

EDIT: I didn't realize this was an old thread. You have of course either accepted or declined the organist position by now. :blushed:
 
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