This is the start of what’s going to be a series of posts where I expand on what it is that I belive. I caused a bit of consternation with some family and friends a few years back when I first came out as an atheist, and I’ve been looking for a way of explaining what I’m thinking. I think the A-word can be a bit confusing and concerning for some, so I will do my best to make it clear how I got here. Just please be patient with me as I go through this, as I am not a very proficient writer.
I’ve been wanting to do this series of posts for a while, it’s actually the main reason I started this blog. I was inspired to do this a while back by the NPR series This I Believe. The idea there is for people, from all walks of life, to describe what they believe in a short essay. They use a few simple guidelines:
Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs.
Be brief: Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace.
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief, because three minutes is a very short time.
Be positive: Please avoid preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Make your essay about you; speak in the first person.
Be personal: Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
Those sites I linked to have essays from presidents to criminals and everything in between. I find them very interesting to listen too, and often moving and inspirational. Please, check them out if you have some time.
I’m going to try to follow this format for my This I Believe essay, when I get around to it. I would like to invite anyone who reads this blog (all 3 of you :p) to submit your own essay. I’m not doing this in an effort to disparage others beliefs, but because I feel to have any kind of discussion about beliefs, its necessary to know the actual beliefs of the person you are discussing with. If you would just like to write for my eyes only, that’s fine, but if you’re okay with it I’d like to post any submissions I get. I can do it anonymously if you like, under a pseudonym, or using your actual name. So, if you could e-mail me, or message me in Facebook, or whatever way is comfortable for you. Thanks!