I Thought I had Taught You Better

“When are you going to get over that?” my father asked. He pointed at the book in my hands, which was titled Atheism: The Case Against God.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” I replied. “It’s an interesting book.”

“I don’t know why you’d even read that. I thought I taught you better.” My father was standing, and at 6’8” and 230 pounds, he presented an imposing figure as I laid on the sofa reading.

“I’m not sure what you mean. It’s just a book.” My father’s zealotry surprised me. It had always seemed like my mother was the one dragging us to church on those rare occasions that we attended. Even though my mother took me to the library every Tuesday and encouraged me to read on a variety of subjects, I had expected her to be the one to raise some eyebrows.

My father just shook his head and walked away. Thirty minutes later, my mother entered the room and sat down. “What are you reading?”

Here we go, I thought as I showed the cover to her. I sat up and waited for her response.

“Do you like it?”

I had only read about twenty pages, and I didn’t understand a lot of what I had read. But what I did understand was interesting and had never occurred to me before. I didn’t know what to say. I shrugged.

“What’s it say?”

“So far, it’s just explaining that atheism means different things to different people. I’m not sure I really understand.”

“What does it mean to you?”

I was confused. I was expecting an argument. But I wasn’t getting one. “I’m not sure.”

“Well, what is he saying? What are the different meanings of atheism? I’d like to hear what he has to say.” My mother smiled.

I gulped. I was going to say something I’d thought for a long time, but never had the courage to say out loud. “If God created everything, who created God?”

My mother’s smile disappeared. She looked at me as if I had threatened her with a baseball bat. “Is that in the book?” my mother asked.

“No.” I shook my head. “I’ve wondered that for a long time. The book just made me realize that I’m not alone.”

My mother looked at me with a sadness I’d never seen in her eyes. “Why didn’t you ever say so?” she said softly.

“I was scared.”

My mother bowed her head. She wiped a tear away before she looked at me. “You should never be afraid to say what you think. I thought that I had taught you better.”

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