Confessions of an Anonymous Coward

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Gah, well, it's been a long time since my last post (again), so I figured it was about time I ought to post something so I wouldn't leave January completely without posts, and so any readers that may still be keeping an eye on this blog will know I haven't completely abandoned it. Life's just been very busy (more specifically, the teaching job has kept me very busy, between writing and grading finals and students wanting tutoring)--that, and I still don't have an internet connection at home (I don't really feel comfortable spending money on things like that till I have all my past-due bills paid up--and while I'm getting there, I'm not quite there yet), which makes it hard to find an opportunity to make a blog post. There's been plenty I've been wanting to post about, though, and more frequent posts should resume...uh, some time in the future.

For now, I'm going to make this post relatively brief, because I have to be getting home and getting to bed so I can get up in the morning in time to get to the school early. But I do have something to tell about my teaching job that relates to the subject of this blog.

I may have mentioned (I'm kind of writing this post in a hurry, so I don't want to take the time to glance through prior posts right now to check) that I got this job because I'd applied for a job back in October at the same school as a science teacher. I didn't get the job then, but the head of the science department liked me enough to ask me to tutor a student he was working with--and, when a math teacher quit unexpectedly in December and an immediate replacement was needed, to recommend me for the position. Well, during my first interview back in December, he had remarked that he noticed that I had mentioned on my résumé that I spoke Spanish. Yes, I said, that's true.

"Why?" he asked.

Kind of an odd question, but I had an answer; I had lived for two years in Spain. But then he asked why I had done that, and I answered that, well, I was raised in the Mormon church, and I'd gone on a mission for the church when I was younger.

Then he asked whether I still was a believing Mormon.

I hesitated a little before answering. Private schools are often run or funded by religious organizations--as far as I knew, this one wasn't, but I wasn't sure. Besides, even if the school wasn't religious, he might be, and I didn't want to offend him. Was it a good idea to let him know I was an atheist? Still, the alternative was lying--or evading the question, but that wasn't much better--and while, admittedly, I still haven't told my family and the people at my church that I don't believe anymore, I didn't really want to spread that subterfuge any farther than it already was. So I told him that no, I'd been brought up in the church, but I no longer believed in it.

Somewhat to my relief, he expressed approval at this, saying that he thought religion was a bunch of nonsense himself.

(Which, I later discovered, may not be entirely true; he does still raise his family in a Christian church--though I don't gather he really believes in its doctrines.)

Anyway, he did occasionally thereafter talk to me about the LDS church, and tease me about it a little (he'd sometimes tell people I was from Utah--which I'm not; my brother lives in Utah, and my father grew up there, but the most time I've spent in Utah myself is two months in the Missionary Training Center before my mission). And apparently he mentioned to the English and history teacher in the room across from mine that I had family members who went to BYU. (Or possibly he'd erroneously told her that I myself had went to BYU--I don't recall correctly.)

I found this out one day when I went to lunch with said teacher and the science teacher next door (the person who, apparently, had gotten the job I'd originally applied for, though she didn't realize that). The English/history teacher brought up the subject, and I said that yes, my brother and sister had gone to BYU. So then she asked the inevitable follow-up question: Was I Mormon?

Again, I hesitated a little before answering, not sure how she would react, but decided to go with the honest answer. Well, I answered, I was brought up Mormon, and as far as most of my family knows I still am. I do still go to church, but just for social reasons; I don't believe in it anymore.

"Well," she said, "at least you still go to church."

Her reaction wasn't quite as positive as the department chair's; it turned out that she is Mormon (and is apparently doing her best to try to convert the science teacher; I overheard her inviting her to accompany her to church). Still, she remains friendly toward me, and doesn't seem offended by the fact that I've left the church (in spirit, if not in body, so to speak). But she hasn't talked to me at all about the church since then--though that may be not because she's avoiding the subject, but just because it hasn't come up.

The English/history teacher in question has a daughter in my class--one of the top students in the class, too, although she apparently didn't used to be; she was doing very badly in the class before, I've been told, but the science teacher has been tutoring her, and between that and the fact that she prefers my teaching methods to those of my predecessor she's shown a drastic improvement. Anyway, it was just yesterday, I think, that her daughter saw me drinking something before class, and said "Is that coffee, Mr. [insert my last name here]? Shame on you!" At the time, I thought it was a little odd she would find that shameful; did she think teachers shouldn't be drinking coffee for some reason? It didn't register with me until later that her mother must have told her I had been Mormon, and she was disapproving of my drinking coffee because it went against Mormon commandments.

As it happened, what I was drinking that morning wasn't coffee; it was, as I told her, an horchata-flavored smoothie. But--although I didn't tell her this--I have started drinking coffee now. Not every day, and not regularly, and the reason I started at all...can be laid largely at the feet of another teacher with a child in one of my classes. (Well, technically she's not a teacher; she's the academic admissions director, but a staff member, anyway.) But that's another story, and one that I suppose I'll tell in another entry another time.

So, anyway, I haven't been hiding my atheism at my new job (though obviously I haven't been going about trumpeting it either), and it doesn't seem to have hurt anything. One thing, though, I admit, I have avoided mentioning is...well, my sexual orientation. Not that there haven't been opportunities. The science department head has occasionally asked me questions about what kind of girls I find most attractive, and similar matters, and I've done my best to avoid them. My students have asked me if I'm married. And, well, I'm not positive, but I think the science teacher nextdoor may be flirting with me. But I just haven't felt comfortable mentioning that I'm gay. Now, the science department head does use "homosexual" as a random insult sometimes, but he uses various ethnicities as random insults, too, including his own (Armenian), so that's probably more because he enjoys being politically incorrect for his own amusement than because he really has anything against homosexuals; still, I admit it is a little off-putting. Even without that, though...I don't know. For some reason, even though I've known I was gay a lot longer than I've considered myself an atheist, and even though I know that lots of studies and surveys have shown that atheists are far more distrusted than homosexuals, it's still my homosexuality that I'm less comfortable admitting to or talking about.

Anyway, I said I'd make this post relatively brief, and arguably I've already failed to do so, but I really do have to get home and get to bed, so I should end it now. But anyway, I just figured it was well past time I ought to post something, and that I may as well post about my teaching job, and how my atheism has come up there. I'll try to post more often again in the future--I do have a lot more I want to post about--but...okay, you know, I'm struggling to think of a pithy way to end this post, but it's late enough I should just end it and go, even if it ends on a lame sentence like this one.