When I lived in Christian places like Kansas and Texas, every so often I’d get a Christian trying to convert me. Now, though, I only get atheists trying to do the same thing.
I regularly receive emails from atheists who need to bring me to the truth and the light, and the most recent one came two weeks ago. “I feel sorry for you,” he wrote, which is always a good opener. “I feel sorry for anyone who continues on fantasies of Santa Claus or god past the age of 4.”
He wanted to save me through conversation and conversion. The thing is, I had just the week before written this, in my essay on polytheism for the Los Angeles Review of Books, now up on their site:
What a tremendous weapon pity is! If you can frame someone as “pathetic,” then it’s okay to take their land, destroy their language and heritage, steal their children and place them in “decent” homes, and kill off their gods and heroes. It’s for their own good, after all.
In duBois’s book, the language monotheist believers use to talk about the heathens is essentially the same as the language New Atheists use to talk about all believers: “pathetic,” “superstitious,” “irrational,” “a stupendous system of error.” (That last one was said by Scottish missionary Alexander Duff about Hinduism.) Those who believe in something else are not simply different: they are misguided and need correction. This has been the justification for any number of wars or cultural erasings. Religion and dogma as colonialism.
And I wanted to write back, thank you for the concrete example of what I had just been writing about in the abstract! That’s amazing! But his email continued:
“I’ve seen your picture, and I think maybe we could have some fun. :) If you would like to meet up to discuss further, I’d love to buy you a drink.”
Women! Do not fuck your colonialist oppressors! Starve them out until they see the error of their ways or at least die without corrupting any others!
I did not write him back.
Image: get it, St. Hildegard