A Response

I was reading this the other day. It's by Ombreon, and it appears to be about her life. I think the comments I've put will speak for themselves.

My original comment was way too long [it was], so this is a shortened version. I understand that it's supposed to be about your life, and I'll try and tread with according caution, but I can't guarantee that I won't offend you - and I won't guarantee it, either, because by laying yourself bare to the world you've invited people to judge you, both positively and negatively. I'd rather not be flamed, but if I must be then I'll take the insults on the chin. Better to get flak for honesty than to keep one's mouth shut.

Long story short, the writing and emotions are both powerful, but I feel you do the mother a disservice - she's always the opposite of the narrator, and a flat opposite at that. Real life doesn't work that way - which you should know. It feels like you're trying to paint her as a villain and make the narrator into a victim-hero, which wins no sympathy from my quarters at least. Far better would be to present an honest picture of two people at odds in their ways and probably both confused and conflicted. I understand that it's hard to get into another person's head - and besides, it gets in the way of clear-cut morality - but isn't that your job as a writer?

I also found the bits dealing with Christianity to be offensive, to Christians, to parents and probably to everyone. Before I go any further, I'm a godless liberal atheist who'll tolerate anyone and anything as long as no harm to innocents is involved. I understand bits about gender politics and I'll welcome anyone who identifies as anything they please. I used to be a militant atheist, but changed my ways - the reasons are in my reactions. So no, you cannot call me a bigot or a conservative. (You can call me ignorant, but that's different.)

Yes, Christianity has double standards. Yes, so does pretty much every other belief system ever - and hating Christianity is no better than being a Christian fundamentalist, something I've learnt through militant atheism, oddly enough. I'm surrounded by Christians of all stripes and they're good people; I think "hate the sin, love the sinner" is a bit of an odd philosophy, so I'm forced to accept that their religion, and how fervent they are in it, doesn't and shouldn't matter as long as it doesn't get in the way of being a good person. Yes, Christians have done a lot of bad things, but also a lot of good ones. I've been influenced by some Christian principles (such as loving one's enemy) and frankly, I don't regret it because I think it's made me a more merciful person - or at least more aware of my shortcomings. I don't believe in God, or in most Christian principles, but I see no harm in learning from them. 

Fundamentally, it depends on how you interpret the text, which in itself is not necessarily evil - and shouldn't you know that as a former Christian?

About those strict Christians: Yes, I know a couple who probably think I'll go to hell for believing the exact opposite of what they do. I still like them, and they're fine with me being around. Fact is, religion and spirituality are probably some of the most overrated and pointless things around. It really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, as long as they're good people.

I wish you luck with trying to find your own spiritual path, but religion-bashing is religion-bashing no matter who it's directed at - atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, anyone. It doesn't make you a better person for hating a religion. Granted, the mother is not necessarily a good person for trying to drag her daughter back to a church which she's forsaken, but given the good intentions behind the act it would be shocking and jarring to portray her as evil.

Think about this. The mother is not evil, at least not intentionally, just caring - and in that caring she does too much smothering, too much mollycoddling. She grew up in an older, more conservative generation, and she's happy with that. What her daughter's said has shaken her to her core and now she's having to question her beliefs just like you/the narrator. Chances are she doesn't want to let go of her framework for the universe, but neither does she want to deem the daughter she's loved (for I'd wager love's involved somehow) and raised as evil. There's too much investment involved in there as well. So yeah, something really similar could have been written from the mother's perspective. There's always more than one side to things, a side which I feel wasn't explored - maybe even wilfully ignored. Of COURSE she wonders why you can't stand her - if the person you'd lived with and watched grow over more than a decade turned against you, I think there'd be a lot of denial involved, because admitting that to oneself would be incredibly painful.

Another comment: sometimes, the writing style comes off as being really, really smug, as though the narrator's always justified and on a higher plane than her antagonist - for the mother is a perfect antagonist in this. It's repulsive - it pushes people away. I dare say that it comes across as the rantings of a slightly self-absorbed teenager rather than mature introspection from someone who's genuinely confused. Likely that introspection could have been achieved by going into less detail - being more private, as it were - and being less black-and-white. No perfect antagonist, no victimised protagonist. Like I said, just two people with passionately different views on life, both with emotional investments in one another, both painfully at odds.

I understand that you are having a lot of issues at the moment and I did not mean to treat them lightly or disparagingly. This was mostly a criticism of the writing. As for your personal life, do what you want and what you feel is right.

I apologise for having offended you, because I have, and if I've just broken you inside with what I've said I genuinely don't think I'll be able to forgive myself - like everyone, I am evil but also good - and if that happens I swear I'll help to pick up the pieces. However, I don't apologise in the slightest for having said this, or for having these views. If you're going to broadcast your personal issues to a largely unsympathetic Internet, be prepared for the consequences. This is one of them.

Any flames and rebuttals shall be replied to quite calmly.