That reminds me....the woman who started me out playing cello, Gladys Helland, was my orchestra teacher from fourth grade through high school. I remember particularly in about eighth grade (the time I wrote about below), those few bouts of my rebellion against repression appeared in the form of rebellion in orchestra class, because it was the one place I felt comfortable around others. I was the principal cellist and a star musician. Ironically, it was also the one place where I was also being judged by my teacher, for my combination of Judaism and naughtiness. In particular, one day I grabbed a bunch of water bugs from a sink backstage, and released them onto the stage during orchestra rehearsal! Ms. Helland called me a "heathen" and "the Devil's spawn"!!! She was a religious Lutheran from Minnesota, who was trained in music as an expression of her religiosity, not trained in religion in order to have an outlet to express her musicality (like I was, somewhat.)
I knew that Ms. Helland needed me in her orchestra, and I was not in the slightest fazed by her insults. They did not hurt me, because I was, in fact, an atheist. I marveled at her weirdness, because those statements revealed someone more religious than I had ever met. But, I didn't tell my parents, and even if I had, I am sure they would have sided with her. After all, I released bugs onstage during rehearsal!
My confidence remained high and the experience was in no way traumatizing, because Ms. Helland and I had a good working relationship through the years. I am sure she had forgiven me by the end of high school, when she awarded me a music scholarship. It's all just a frame of reference....we had a different frame of reference-- hers was religious, mine was not. Since then, I have become a teacher, and in a similar situation, I would have reprimanded a student, but not using such colorful language! I would have been a bit tougher, and probably gotten the student suspended! So, in fact, her words were quite harmless and amusing to me.
Yet, the hidden danger in this story is that rhetoric like "devil's spawn" comes to be interpreted so literally by some Christians. It's ideas like this, or calling Jews "heathens," which resemble the idea that Jews are evil because they killed Jesus, or so the story goes... It's ideas like this which cause violent tendencies of some religious adherents to express themselves quite literally against the objects of the insults. Witness what is happening in Iraq! I feel this is an expression of Christian paternalism and general self-righteous sentiment against "heathens," or non-believers in Christianity. Therefore, in this way, any such religious rhetoric is dangerous.
The focus of many of these blogs seems to be that religion is dangerous, because religions (like, say, Catholicism), will never freely admit hypocrisy. Clearly, my teacher, Ms. Helland, was a sort of hypocrite. Institutions which create policy and set a tone for their adherents are largely responsible for violence by members, whether by direct cause or by negligence.
Well...I joined the Atheist Blogroll....hence the list of fellow atheists' sites at right. Enjoy.