Hello from a new Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of Waterloo blogger!

19 05 2014

Hello there! I know this blog has been rather inactive as of late, but since I’m the secretary of AAFW for Spring 2014, I figured it would be a good idea for me to do a bit of blogging for the club.

I’m Harrison Gross, an upper year undergraduate student in math at the University of Waterloo. Kitchener is my home. I grew up in (and still live with) a catholic family. As many former christian atheists, I took my faith rather seriously for a while as a child. I was an altar server at a local parish for about four years, and my mother was a co-president of the parish Catholic Women’s League. I distinctly remember when my grandmother on my mom’s side was dying of liver failure that I prayed rather energetically to god one night after playing a board game with the family. She died that same night that I was praying for her to live. That incident shook my nascent faith.

It was always rather strange though. I went to catholic schools growing up, but we went to a different parish from the one that was right there, instead we went to one that was a tad farther away. It turns out that the politics of the CWL of the school parish drove away my piano teacher, one of the first friends that my mother had after moving to the region, and the association led to some sort of unfortunate confrontation. This was my first inclination that churches were more of human institutions rather than divine.

Because of that internal confrontation, I was confirmed as an adult in a church without a school attached, so all of those with me were either students in public schools or other outcasts from the regular system. During confirmation class in religion in Grade 8 the next year, the teacher resigned me to reading the bible. I was extremely bored.

I eventually became an altar server for my parish, St. Louis in Waterloo. This is where I first drank alcohol. I found the church wine disgusting at first, though relaxed into it later. From the start though, I knew it wasn’t blood. I had tasted blood, from my own cuts as a kid. The Eucharistic Mystery was not much of a mystery to me: it was patently false.

I slowly gained knowledge of other christian denominations, and never really found them inspiring. I first ran into an atheist while in Cub Scouts, he was a fellow scout, and he lived down the street from me. He said he didn’t believe in anything. I was surprised, I hadn’t known anyone else who hadn’t believed. This would change a lot in time to come. These days, hearing of how the Boy Scouts of America is run in regard to non-believing scouts makes me rather glad I did it here in Canada.

High school was where I really stopped believing. First off, I was tired of wasting time sitting on the sides of an altar performing an elaborate act that I didn’t believe. My siblings (I was the youngest of five) had mostly all stopped going to church themselves, for their own various reasons. Some have gone back, some have gone to other churches. In high school, I became friends with a bunch of nerds. Being one myself, it worked out well. But as I learned about math and science, religion just faded in the background in importance, and when I looked back at religion after, I wondered why I had ever been involved. There was little gain, and few people that I could identify with.

When I got to university, I became friends with Chuck, a former AAFW blogger, now alumni. He invited me out, and I’ve been attending off and on ever since. My goals for blogging this term are to review a couple of atheist books I’ve picked up, as well as cover some local/Canadian news.

Till next time,

Harrison Gross

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