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An Interesting Wedding Conversation

Over the weekend, I attended my cousin’s wedding. My cousin describes himself as a, “Hardcore Insane Jew.” He belongs to some sort of Orthodox offshoot. In fact he and I had recently started conversing on the topic of religion and he expressed a strong interest in continually those discussions.

While there were many aspects of the wedding that were strange, odd, creepy, and fascinating to me, I don’t really think it is appropriate to talk about a lot of it at this time. But I did have one conversation that I think was particularly noteworthy. Toward the end of the reception, I noticed that there was a small service of some kind going in one corner of the reception hall. As someone who finds religion fascinating, took my prayer book from my table and walked over. I sat in the back next to my cousin’s brother (my other cousin who isn’t really all that religious).

After a chitchatting with my cousin for a few minutes, I asked a girl next to me where we were in the prayer book so I could follow along. She told me that she didn’t read Hebrew, so she wasn’t sure. I mentioned that I don’t remember how to read Hebrew any more, but I was interested in reading the English translation in the prayer book. This is where the real conversation started. She asked if I was Jewish to which I replied that I used to be. She was confused at first and so I clarified that I am no longer a believer. With a questioning look on her face she said, “You don’t believe in God at all?” I of course said no, but she was still confused and had to ask the question again. I told her that I gave up belief in God around the same time I gave up belief in Santa Claus.

The thing is that the whole time, I was keeping to conversation lighthearted. I wasn’t questioning her religious beliefs or even being critical of them. I was just answering her questions honestly and with a positive attitude. She asked if I had converted to atheism and I told her that I had de-converted to atheism. She was again confused, but let it go. She then asked me why I don’t believe. I could have taken that question and really ran with it. I could have talked about the history of the Biblical God (See Karen Armstrong’s book, “The History of God”), or how the God of the Torah seemed to be an evil tyrannical ass-clown, or just the ridiculousness of the Torah stories as a whole. But, I decided to play it cool and just tell her that I see no evidence to support the claim that a god exists.

This young woman told me that I should talk to my cousin (who’s wedding this was) and he would re-convert me. I gave a slight laugh and told her that we had started that conversation on facebook already and that she is free to check out his note to me and my note in response. To be honest, I was actually disappointed in his opening comments on religion. I informed her that I had studied many religions and found them all to be invalid so far. She was curious about my favorite of the religions that I had studied and so I told her that I really didn’t like any of them, but if I had to pick the one that was the best of the lot it would probably be some branches of Buddhism.

This is where the conversation took an interesting turn in my opinion. This girl who was part of some kind of Jewish Orthodox off-shoot said that she considered Buddhism to be a sin. To my knowledge, “sin” is a Christian thing, not a Jewish thing. So I wonder if some cult branches of Orthodox Judaism are starting to use the Christian cult playbook. It is something that I hope to explore in the future. The conversation went on for a bit longer as we discussed the wedding and the wedding couple, but I found that part of the conversation particularly noteworthy and thought I would share it. I particularly liked how I just answered her questions in a nonchalant fashion. It was clear that this girl had never really thought about someone not believing in God and that just by stating it in the way that I had, will surely cause her to think about her religion in a way she had never done before. The seeds of doubt have been sown.

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  • http://www.myspace.com/atheistteam The A-Team

    Yeah, that was a pretty crazy wedding. I thought you were going to start with all the bizarro trance stuff that went on.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Need more information on that.

  • Pam Klein

    This was well written, little bro. and very interesting I’d have to say. I also like how you just answered the womans’s questions and didn’t elaborate too much. Your picking Buddhsim over any other religions if you had to chhose one didn’t surprise me. i too find Buddhism interesting. You know, I learn about it through my yoga practices.

  • http://ladyatheist.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I thought the reason for ritualistic temple sacrifice was redemption of sin, and destruction of cities was punishment for it. If the Hebrew God weren’t interested in deciding who’s naughty and who’s nice, then why do so many “Christians” quote the Old Testament when it’s in direct contradiction to what Christ said?

    I find that being nonchalant is the way to a believer’s heart. I especially love it when someone I’ve known for awhile finds out I’m an atheist. They drop their jaws and their faces say “YOU? But you’re so NICE”

  • http://www.myspace.com/DD_NU4EVER Diana

    Buddhism is what came up when I took that test on MySpace, the one that’s supposed to tell you your religion…Atheisms more like it but then again, Atheism isn’t a religion.

    I’m getting married soon. I’m the only Atheist in my family so it’s going to be a weird experience to have nothing but Christians at our none-theist ceremony…

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks


  • ProgRockGirl

    Hmm, most people who are “hardcore insane Jews” (or any other religion) don’t usually call themselves that.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      My cousin has a pretty good sense of humor and I guess somewhere in his subconscious he knows that this religion is wacky.