Raised Up Righteous

Neil was a mountain kid. Raised by artists up in the San Luis Valley. There are about 500 artists (according to Wiki) who live up in that valley, and both Neil's parents were artists.

One day, Neil told me this story.  When he was growing up, his parents made him attend church every Sunday from about age six on. His parents themselves would never go to church, though. They'd just make Neil get dressed up, then send him off to church.

When he'd come home, they'd ask him how it went, what the sermon was about, and things like that. But Neil could tell they were just checking up on him to make sure he went -- they themselves weren't really interested in it.

By the time Neil was 13, he was fed up with it. So one Sunday, instead of going to church, he approached his parents, who were sitting in their kitchen, having coffee.

"Mom, Dad! I'm fed up with church. I don't believe a thing they say about god and I don't share many of their values. I'm a stranger there." blah, blah, blah. Neil went on for several minutes, all the time on the verge of tears, while his parents just watched and listened to him in silence.

Finally, his mother spoke, "Neil, your father and I are both atheists. But we knew if we just told you church wasn't for you, you'd wouldn't have believed us. So we sent you to church all these years so you could find out for yourself. You've done that, and you no longer have to go to church if you don't want to."


  1. This story strikes a nerve for me in that the back story needs some fleshing out. I would think the parents would have to explain the point of attending church. I was sent to catholic school. My parents seldom attended church. I went to public high school and my parents made no requirement for me to attend church after grade school. I always questioned my faith sometimes to the annoyance of the nuns and lay teachers at school. My parents would receive requests for parent-teacher conferences and would defend my actions, but would council me to respect my teachers and the rules of the school. I was too young to understand it. Now my belief is to respect all gods and non belief. I try to promote positive activities to better society if that could be possible.

  2. Yours is quite an interesting story, Tom. Thanks for sharing that! It sounds very much like your parents gave you the support you needed as a boy and young man to develop the habit of thinking for yourself.

  3. This reminds me of how my parents told us to do our cursing in the house where it wouldn't offend anyone else. They hoped cursing would cease to be a novelty and we'd stop doing it. Fat chance, although people tell me I use less profanity/ obscenity in my speech than most.

  4. The term "righteous" always serves to ruffle my hackles.

    There is a religious tone to the word and I find that it is usually uttered by a fiercely-bearded man who uncomfortably makes me feel that he thinks of women as lesser beings who must be instructed in "righteousness" by a fiercly-bearded patriarch such as himself.

    A "righteous" bearded man is supposedly the next thing to God Himself, who is portrayed as a "righteous"-looking white fiercely-bearded man., and as such must speak always from the throne of righteousness.

    Even so, I was brought up "high church," Lutheranism which is very close to Catholicism save for a doctrine or two. Lutheranism and Catholicism are relatively free of fiercely-bearded me -- and while I was being indoctrinated in Lutheranism by an old Norwegian skeptic schooled in the European way of religion, lip service at best, scholarship, good argument about scriptures and doctrines, etc., he was beardless, my beardless Atheist father was indoctrinating me in the evils of Christian religion and subtly schooling me to have a fondness for Old Thor, the thunder god.

    My Norwegian mentor gave me sources about the religious fervor and religious protests in Europe around the time of Luther. I was romantically enthralled by the story of the Frisian Menno Simons who sported extended Van Dyke facial hair which does not qualify as "fiercely-bearded," and the apocryphal story that he drew his persecuted followers around him and tossed a cloak upon the ground where they put all their belongings to share in common as they fled from the terror of the Roman Catholic Church which ruthlessly destroyed those it branded as heretics.

    I have always had a fondness for heretics and worshipers of Thor, but not for fiercely-bearded patriarchal men who talk of "righteousness," too damned low church for me.


Comments Welcome -- but no flaming. If you wish, you can email me at paul_sunstone@q.com