My Dull, Prudish, Naive Atheist Life
I’m most likely doing all of it for the wrong reasons…the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, all of it. Instead of abstaining from tea and coffee and alcohol because it’s what God wants me to do, I have to admit that instead, I do it because I’m not curious as to the tastes of these various beverages. I’m not motivated or interested to engage with any other human beings. And even when I’ve happened upon drinks within these categories, what I’ve discovered is that these things just don’t taste good to me. (As for sexual relations, fortunately, it’s not that..easy?…to just accidentally “happen upon” them.)
Every time I admit that, people insist that I just haven’t had the right kind of drink. (This is especially the case with alcohol…and I have to admit that there is a world of alcoholic beverages, terms and types, that I can’t even BEGIN to scratch. [Although I am really not interested in wading through tens or hundreds of drink choices and combinations in the search of one that I like…especially when there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages that taste good by default.])
And I guess…when it comes to drinking, sex, and other social affairs, I’m just a nerdish prude. And much as Maria Bustillos would like to argue, I don’t think there’s so much honor in prudishness.
Honestly, I’m not a saint. I’m not without vice or sin by LDS standards. But I think I’m ahead of the game at least with respect to many of my LDS peers, which means with respect to many of my non-LDS peers, who don’t hold themselves to Mormon rules and standards, I must be an oddity indeed.
But not an interesting oddity. Instead, a dull one.
Sometimes, I wonder how my life would differ if I weren’t as dull. What if I were zealous and motivated by spiritual experiences that were as real to me (if not realer) as my own two hands? Maybe those experiences would give me purpose and direction that I would genuinely feel was not my own (which I think is far more romantic and exciting than my present understanding that I have to work, every day, to forge my own purpose [and certainly not as disappointing as my sneaking suspicion that at this point in my life, I’m simply not working very hard at forging much of anything].)
I think that’s interesting. I think theism is interesting because of the phenomenal difference it makes in theists. For me, thinking about and talking about and writing about God is not really that consequential, because I can’t quite conceive of God being that big of a deal.
But for those people for whom God is a central reality! For whom he is a constant companion! How different their lives must be! How interesting!
This is probably just “greener grass” talk. After all, such a relationship probably has less-than-glamorous aspects. I mean, I read about people who talk about the demands of their god. The expectations. The challenges. I have enough challenges from day-to-day, mundane sources (all first-world problems, no doubt), but it would probably be not-so-wonderful to have an additional set of challenges and demands from God.
While I would like to pin my dull life on atheism (if only I could feel as if I had this divine calling?), even this doesn’t really work. I realized that when I saw an article where Sam Harris advocates psilocybin as a rite of passage for human experience. Drugs are also pretty fascinating, and while they sometimes factor quite heavily in religious ceremonies, at the end of the day, they are worldview-neutral. And I have often been just as intrigued by the life and perspective changes that people who have used drugs have as I have by those who have had spiritual experiences. (Although I have been wary: is a chemically induced state of consciousness as “valuable” or “authentic” as an organically induced state of consciousness? Am I creating a false distinction?)
But drugs for ole prudish me? No way.
I don’t have a rigid ideological aversion to drug usage, much like I don’t have a rigid ideological aversion to other Word of Wisdom or Law of Chastity issues — notwithstanding my upbringing in the church…it just seems to me like I wouldn’t know the first thing about finding them, and I don’t particularly feel entirely too motivated to do any sort of research to rectify this ignorance.
…Hmm. I guess that’s something. If there’s one thing my apathetic prudishness has done for me that might be interesting, it has given me a remarkable naivete about the world. Maybe that’s interesting in a quaint sort of way.
Even today…I can conceptualize that people my age are hooking up, doing drugs, etc., I can conceptualize that they were doing these things when we were in high school, and perhaps even in junior high.
But these concepts don’t seem real. In fact, they seem almost as artificial as that of “god.”
Isn’t that absolutely crazy? Every day, I engage with people in a completely different context, or with completely different assumptions, than nearly everyone around me.
P.S. I don’t think I’m that dull. I have lots of interests. But as I go over my interests, what really excites me, I realize that most people would tune out. They don’t care. And it’s reciprocal; I doubtlessly tune out at the things other people would tell me.