Who Is The Anonymous Coward?
Who is the Anonymous Coward? Well, if I said who I was, obviously I wouldn't be anonymous. But I can, at least, explain the reason for my chosen title.
For more than twenty years, I thought I believed in God. Maybe more than thirty; I'm excluding my very earliest childhood years when I didn't really have the capacity to consider what I did or didn't believe on the subject, but it's hard to pinpoint the age at which the counting should begin.
I was brought up in a religious family, and held to strict religious principles. I've followed, if not every single commandment of my religion or recommendation of my religious leaders, at least the most prominent ones. Not just the Ten Commandments (okay, maybe I've coveted a little, from time to time), but the other guidelines religious leaders have set as well. I've never drunk alcohol. I've never smoked. I've never seen an R-rated movie. I've never had premarital sex--which, as I'm not married, means I'm still a virgin. I went to church almost every Sunday, like I was supposed to, and outwardly at least was in almost every way a model member of my religion.
It's only recently that I finally came to terms with the fact I didn't really believe in my religion--or any other--at all.
That may seem like an odd phrasing, but that's the way I mean it. I don't mean that I stopped believing. I mean that I finally consciously realized that I hadn't really believed it in the first place. I'd been fooling myself, trying to convince myself that I believed, but deep down I didn't. That much is obvious now, looking back on some of what I've written, and some of what I've done. It's just that it took me this long to be able to admit it to myself.
Why now? I don't know, exactly. Maybe because I've been reading a lot of blogs lately, and I've been seeing not only how reasonable many atheists are, but how very unreasonable the religious too often are in their arguments; maybe that perspective is making me want to disassociate myself from the religious. Maybe it's the way that religions are increasingly trying to take over public discourse and forge laws of intolerance that's forcing me to choose sides. Maybe there's no particular reason it's now; it's just that it's been building up and now is when it happened to hit the breaking point.
It doesn't matter why it's happening now, though. It should have happened a long time ago.
Perhaps a more pertinent question is, if I didn't really believe in it, why did I convince myself for so long that I did? Well...I think mostly because of the people involved. There are a lot of good people in my church, people who I like and respect very much, and who have made it clear that they think very highly of me. I'd hate to disappoint them. It's not that if I left the church they'd despise me and want nothing more to do with me--if their friendships were that shallow and contingent, I wouldn't care about them anyway. (Well...not much.) But they would be very disappointed. I didn't want to do that to them.
And I still don't. So even though I've finally come to terms with the fact that I don't really believe in the church...I'm not really ready to do anything about it. So I'll continue going to church, avoiding harsh language, paying lip service to God...I'll continue to pretend to believe in my religion, even though I don't. Publically, I'm not going to change anything.
Part of me knows I should. It would be better for everyone. I'd certainly be happier no longer being fettered by the nonsensical strictures of my religion, and able to openly talk about my true beliefs. I might even be setting something of an example, in my own very small way, for people to leave their superstitions and be willing to accept the truths that may to some be more difficult to deal with than the comfortable fiction of a benevolent deity. But...I can't bring myself to do it. I dread too much the reactions of my friends at the church.
Hence the "Coward".
Still, I need some outlet. Some context in which I can discuss my true beliefs, admit to the atheism I've newly admitted to myself, expand on subjects I'm not ready to attach my name to. So that's why I created this blog, as a place I can do all that, but without revealing who I am, so I can still play the part of the faithful believer otherwise.
Hence the "Anonymous".
I don't know how often I'll post here. Maybe not often. I can't very well write about specific experiences here that might pose too much risk of revealing my identity. Things like that, and anything that doesn't touch on my "areligious conversion", I'll just post in my LiveJournal. (The address to which, obviously, I'm not going to give here, since that would reveal who I am.) But I might post from time to time about various musings, or interesting ideas I run into elsewhere, that don't fit in with my religious façade.
I don't expect this situation to persist indefinitely. Sooner or later, either as the friction between religion and rationalism escalates in this country, or perhaps just on a smaller, more personal scale, something is likely to force me to openly choose sides. And when I do, I'm not going to come down on the side of religion. Or maybe the confrontation won't be forced; maybe someday I'll build up the courage to cast aside my religion, and face up to the consequences. And when that happens, I'll go ahead and admit my identity, and that will be the end of this blog.
But until then, I remain...
An Anonymous Coward.