The Black Milk Bottle Story

(Via David Michael)

My earliest religious memory is a picture in the Catholic Baltimore Catechism showing three bottles of milk to explain sin and the state of grace. There was a black bottle of milk to show the result of mortal sins, a grey bottle for venial sins and a bright white bottle for being in a state of grace. The bottles were your soul.

Although I was only 7, I identified with the black bottle of milk because I had the feeling I was bad and had been punished by god who caused me to have polio and wear a brace.

I think I must have come to that thought because I was told that if I was bad, god would punish me, and since there was no one else in my school or family who had been “cursed with polio”, I must be bad.

I was made to feel like an outsider because of my leg. In actuality, I had a very slight case compared to those who were totally paralyzed or in iron lungs. I was actually able to run, after a fashion, but not fast enough not to be overlooked for competitive games, or chosen last just to keep the sides even.

There was plenty of cruel name calling and bullying for the ensuing years of elementary school to the point where I even dreaded recess because that was when it was the worst. I gained my full height early in life so now I was fighting a lot because what better target than the big kid who could not catch them when they would play a frustrating game of hit and run. These were not just one-on-one fights either. I found my best defense was to but my back to a wall to have only one front to defend. I would occasionally be able to grab an assailant by the arm or trip one running away and then give better than I got. I remember being on top of one of worst bullies and beating him to the point he had to go home, but I was the one doing the crying.

Never once were any of those bullies at my catholic school ever punished by the nuns (or for that matter, god) for what they did to me.

Once, a nun told me that I would not need to help myself up from a genuflection, while training to be an altar boy, if god really wanted me to serve at Mass. I quit that day.

That catholic school experience helped to make me an atheist. Now, at the age of 60, I am thankful for that help to see the truth.

I fortunately went to a public high school and had some surgeries that removed the need for the brace. The limp was only marginal and my height and strength made up for my lack of speed, hitting home runs but rarely beating out a single.

I was interested in science, the one subject the nuns had not turned me off on because science was not on the curriculum at all. I became a biologist and embraced evolution for my explanation for life, but not wanting to be an outsider again, I kept my agnosticism, that grew to atheism, to myself. I would go to weddings and funerals in a church even though; I actually shook inside and out as I would walk through the church doors. I would go through the motions, standing, sitting, kneeling but without praying, all the while watching the clock for the moment I could get out of there.

When I married, I gave into my wife’s request for a church wedding by consenting to one at the Universalist Unitarian church, which I never attended, just because I was told even atheists were welcome.

We raised our daughter without any mention of god, but in her twenties she became a believer from the influence of her friends. I hope she will accept my truth some day.

Just a few years ago, I found an atheist group meeting in a UU church and went to a few meetings but found them unsatisfactory. They resemble a church meeting. There is one person who runs the meeting, like a priest. The donation plate is passed. Cookies and fruit punch (bread and wine) are shared. The worst thing about the meetings is that more religion is discussed than most church services, although it is discussed so it can be argued against.

I would rather find out more about the good things that are in your life as an atheist than the bad things that are in your life as a believer. I would also like to become more active as an atheist than the intellectual ambiance that hangs over the meetings with people trying to impress others with how much they have read in the bible that is in conflict. Why waste time discussing something so worthless to an atheist?

I would be the happiest if I could go for at least a year without hearing the word god. I have been fighting a battle with myself to even get god out of my cursing vocabulary, but a simple hammer to the thumb gives god some free advertising I don’t want to give. Old habits die hard.

I am presently trying to get as many people as possible to view the excellent video“The Root of All Evil?” on You Tube. I have just started approaching some public television and some cable stations to broadcast the video. Wish me luck and write in yourselves!

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