As the only child of Presbyterian parents, I had been taken to
Sunday school every week by a kind and patient Father since I was 5
or 6 years old. I now recall that we never spoke about religion
or god during the ride, but only of the interesting things going on
in our daily lives.
Later, at 17 years of age, still attending the same church,
practicing and singing in the choir, etc., we older teens were
expected to “join” the church, after attending several classes
there. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t join, but at the
very first class we were given a page listing the 10 things we would
have to sign that we believed, in order to join the church - and my
heart sank as I read them.
After courses in General Science, Biology, and Chemistry in high
school over the past several years, and a heavy dose of Ancient
Mythology in senior English, I was supposed to believe in a Holy
Ghost, the Holy Roman Catholic Church and 8 other long forgotten but
equally ridiculous things? Come on! I just couldn’t sign it - so
instead of joining “my” church of so many years, I found myself out
in the cold - - slowly coming to realize what a bunch of unreal
nonsense I had escaped!
Several years later, a girl just out of high school was assigned to
help me in my co-op job from the University. She was just great
until she started telling about the wonderful pastor at her church,
and wanting me to visit and see. Having occasionally wondered if I
could have been a bit hasty writing-off religion when just in high
school, I agreed to attend church with her one Sunday to experience
this wonderful preacher.
(At that particular time in the world, Hitler had conquered most of
Europe and was attacking Russia – besieging Stalingrad, so as to
keep any food or fuel from reaching the inhabitants. It was very,
very cold in Russia that winter and the “black” humor going around
over here was, “would the residents of Stalingrad freeze to death
before they starved – or starve before they froze?)
Well, this wonderful pastor made it clear from the pulpit that
morning, in front of a large congregation, that it really didn’t
matter what happened because the people of Stalingrad weren’t
Christians and god wouldn’t be concerned with them. Suddenly, I
wanted to shout at him, but really didn’t know what to say – and
only dead silence came from the rest of the congregation. (You’re
not really supposed to shout down the pastor in church, are you?
After all he KNOWS – doesn’t he?)
Anyhow, after church my great little helper and I went our separate
ways. But she didn’t show up for work on Monday, or Tuesday, or
Wednesday – or ever. It seemed that I had come to the right
conclusion about religion after all, - and could only hope that
maybe now, she would, too.
My last run-in with god was when our children were young, maybe in
about 3rd and 6th grades. A good-looking, contemporary-style church
was built not far away and it occurred to me that things in the
religious world might have been updated, somehow – as the
architecture of that church possibly suggested?
So one Sunday we went to see – kids to Sunday school – parents to
church. Sadly, the minister droned on and on about some obscure (to
us) bible verse, - and the kids complained loudly, afterward, that
for them it was like going back to kindergarten again. End of last
Finally, after many, many years without god, - I am now 80 and have
enjoyed a good, hopefully useful life - with lots of trimmings -
thanks to husband, Dick. Our children, now 49 and 52 years old,
brought up without religious experience, seem to be surviving very
My rather obvious conclusion is: Life can be good, and probably
even better, without god!
Virginia Godley Walker 9/07/2006
From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, March 8th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Ryan Bell will talk on "My Year Without God: Now a Permanent Condition."