Mom and God again

My mom has always been worried about me and Jesus, since I was a little kid.

When I turned 18 and moved out immediately, I continued going to church twice monthly, mostly as a favor to Mom. It never slowed down her nagging about God, though.

At about 18⅓, it dawned on me that if she nags constantly about God when I'm actually in a pew every other Sunday, why bother going at all? I didn't actually believe in God.

So I stopped going to church, and Mom's nagging about God continued. And continued.

We argued about it, but she never stopped nagging.

It wasn't because of Mom's nagging about God that eventually I moved away and intentionally lost contact (best decision I ever made, and I have no regrets). There was lots more to it than that. But I sure didn't miss the nagging while I was gone for thirty years.

I lived my life happily, and even lucked into love and marriage. Then my wife died, and I realized I was old and wanted a family again, so in 2022 I moved back to Seattle.

These days, Mom & I go to breakfast every second Saturday. We're getting along pretty well, and I still don't go to church. She started nagging me about it again in our second conversation after my return, but after I snapped at her in self-defense, she hasn't mentioned it very often. 

At least not overtly, though she'd still invite me to church, and hint at the horrid fate awaiting my eternal soul if I don't soon drop to my knees and repent.

A week or so ago, for the first time in months, she brought church into our ongoing text conversation. Instead of summarizing, I'll just quote it:

Mom: I overslept and did not go to church this morning. I can't remember the last time I missed worship.

Mom: And what has happened to YOUR Sunday habit? You went regularly when you were growing up. Apparently it was MY habit, not yours, huh.

Me: Yeah.

Mom: A habit can be changed any time you try. Sooo, what do you think? Is there a nearby church that has some interest to you?

Mom: You could SHOW UP, be unnoticed and observe like a fly on the wall, but not even informing anyone you were in attendance.

Mom: Or you could research a familiar type of church, and VISIT it.

Mom: Or you could sacrifice your precious privacy and go WITH someone to a church of their choice.

Mom: Or you could do as you are doing now, IGNORE any thought of your eternal destiny.

Mom: Because I love you, I do hope you will think on these things. Your brother Clay is a good person to talk with, if and when you take responsibility for your decision. 

Mom: I love you very much, and hope when I die it is not the end of our relationship.


Yeah, I didn't even reply, simply skimmed it and rolled my eyes at her last line, which struck me and still does as one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. 

She wanted me to "think on these things," though, and sure enough, here I am a week later, re-reading her texts.

Is a week later too late to reply?

① Church was never my 'habit' when I was a kid; it was required — a cruelty I have magnanimously forgiven.

② I enthusiastically ignore any thought of my eternal destiny, because there's no such thing.

③ Any 'God' that would condemn people to the inside of a pizza oven forever, over skipping church on Sunday, can fuck himself.

④ "... if and when you take responsibility for your decision." Bite me. It's more responsible to run my life my way, than the Godly choice of pretending a fictional entity is in charge.

⑤ When we die it's the end of all our relationships. That's the nature of death — The End, same for believers in eternal life and disbelievers.

Mom believes absolutely, and I don't, also absolutely. Several times we've spoken of it at length, and every time it's made her cry, but we haven't had those conversations since the 1990s.

I don't like making my mom cry, so my preference is to avoid talking about it. If she brings it up again, my answer will be the old reliable, "You don't want that conversation with me." That line has worked before, a reminder of our long-ago conversations that made her cry.

It's been 30+ years, though. Maybe it's time we have that conversation again. But I'd still rather not.


  1. It is so strange to me that other people have mothers with agency. Mine doesn't show the slightest curiosity about the state of my soul (or anything else), reacts a little to things I bring up as conversation starters and will never, ever reach out on her own.

    1. I love my mom too much to give her up, but maybe we could swap just for a month or so?

    2. Maybe you just need a team, where you can clock out and AlmostDoug can take over for a shift?

    3. Clones! Heck, I'd send a clone of mine to church with Mom. Maybe he'd get clone-converted. Mom would love that!

  2. I won the parent lottery, so I am especially sensitive to my friends who didn't. Is Clay the expert driver or the one who can't understand his wife? Either skill would qualify him as an expert in the afterlife. What the fuck is she talking about? That chatter borders on abusive, and you're too old to still be an abused child. I'm sorry you have to put up with that shit.


    1. I don't *have* to put up with that shit. I could get loud and if I did, she'd get quiet. Guess I *choose* to put up with that shit, often wondering whether I'm a man or a mouse.

      My brother Dick is the expert driver who can't understand his wife. My brother Clay is the megaChristian, who lives unfathomably far out in the very white suburbs.

    2. This is the church at which I attended Sunday school when I was quite young. It was not a conservative church then, but it has grown some since I left. This is the greeting page which is a three minute read. It doesn't sound exactly like your Mother's church.



    3. Wow, that's beautiful. Not a church guy myself, but I was raised in Christianity and *that's what it's supposed to be about*. That statement of principles seriously made my eyes water.

      I have enough residual fondness for the church, that when I see churches the opposite of this — virtually everywhere — it pisses me off like Christ in the temple that one rowdy day.

      The church I grew up in was never mean, not too narrow-minded, but nothing like that. And now, it is. I attended one service there, when I visited Seattle in 2018, and the place was filled to the balcony and beyond, a bigger crowd that that church ever saw even on Easter, and similar principles were stated on signs in the foyer, and reiterated in the trilingual service.

      Warmed my heart greatly, but still, I'm never going back. I don't need anything church has to offer, even a good church.

    4. Yeah, I wasn't suggesting a six-hour roundtrip bus ride so an atheist (like you or me) could attend a Christian worship service. I was just glad to see the anti-discrimination policies and the no-questions-asked food bank. That's my neighborhood, and there are people here who need compassion and some square meals. I'm glad my old church is providing both although I'm not planning on dropping by any time soon.


    5. My sentiments exactly. Been my experience most Christian churches are *not* welcoming, and don't do much if anything to provide actual help for people who need it. A church that does either or both is spared my imaginary dynamite.

  3. Oh man, I live near a former masonic temple that has been taken over (bought or leased, probably bought) by evangelicals. It was built to look older than it is and to appear to look a Christian cathedral but not actually be one, and now it's been bought by actual Christians. The whole thing sounds like the set-up for a Vonnegut novel.

    There's still not a single cross anywhere in its elaborate structure, probably due to landmark restrictions or something which itself is quite funny too. They bought a church-y looking building which was supposed to look church-y, but can't actually turn it into a real church-y building because the city deems its fake church-yness historically important, and adding a cross somewhere would make the fake church inauthentic.

    1. That's bizarre. Gotta keep the crosses inside, I guess. Much as churches annoy me and I do especially hate the 'evangelicals', which seems a synonym for Supply-Side Jesus, the anarchist in me says screw those regulations. Wanna hammer a cross onto an outside wall? Do it -- it'll serve as a warning to the enlightened among us.


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