I'm almost impossible to offend. In order to do so you not only have to hit a raw nerve, but do so at the right time. The last time somebody did this was perhaps four years ago, and to this day I've never told her just how clumsy her comments were. It get's a bit oblique here, but if you're interested stick with me.
It is a weekend and I am at home. A friend of my wife is visiting, and it is the early days of my apostasy. Having rejected religion I was still damaged goods, trying to re-orient myself, trying to figure our how the world really was and form opinions that were not based on some ancient text. I was a few months into my job with the police, and for some reason the discussion turned to my faith, or rejection thereof. I cannot recall the thrust of the discussion but talk turned to my new job, and this individual felt it appropriate to point out that people had most likely been praying for me prior to my successful application, which of course meant I should be grateful to the almighty for his (It's always a he isn't it?) providence. On the surface this is a genteel statement, the kind words of a kind and lovely person. The timing however was about as clumsy as two rhino's mating, the suggestion being that I somehow owed gratitude and acknowledge her God with due servility.
At the time I let it pass, but on reflection I wish I hadn't. In my position, those words were an affront, a dreary monotone from a lifelong member of the flock. I cannot say precisely why I felt so utterly violated; perhaps something to do with the fact that I was working so hard to forge my own space in the cosmos, far away from the false consolation of faith. Bare in mind that this would have been the same year that my father died, the same year that I was recovering from what had been two years of undiagnosed work related stress. My marriage wasn't great due to the whole religion thing, and I was being sporadically blessed with letters and e-mails from people urging me to reconsider my worldview. In summary, I was a bit fragile, which isn't a word anybody would normally associate with me. So when a well meaning person tries to ascribe my hard work to secure a job to the providence of a being whom, if they did exist, exhibits all the hallmarks of a perfect shit, well it was never going to go down well.
As with most things, time heals. I rebuilt my life, formed my own perspective on a number of issues. Only in hindsight did I recognise that all forms of religious belief have a cultish air about them; this is why they are so hard to leave. And one only see's this from the outside looking in; in all the little signs winking away; the group think, the conviction that the brand of faith you hold is the best, the desire to win to souls of the lost and walk them to salvation.
Most of you who read this will wonder how I ever got involved? It's no real mystery; I was ripe for the picking. A credulous twenty something, single and good natured, open minded and prepared to give anybody an audience. I was a little lonely, too, so when I was surrounded by all these warm and lovely people it was just the best feeling, kind of like finding the home I'd always wanted.
Anyway, whatever point I was intending to make has flitted off somewhere. Suffice to say that this female has forever earned her place in my memory as a classic example of being sincerely and utterly wrong to project her infantile beliefs onto me. I'd served my time, thank you.