‘Well, you can bet they don’t sing Kumbaya‘
After last week’s story about The Dude and The Child and Gary the J, I promised to stay away from stories involving politics. So, instead, here’s a story involving religion.
It’s about the time(s) The Child went to Atheist Camp.
First, let me say something about camp. When I was a kid in the Midwest there were two kinds: Church Camp and Scout (specifically, Boy-or-Girl-Scout) Camp. I’ve learned from my Northeastern friends that they had their own two kinds: Day Camp and Sleepaway Camp.
These days, of course, there are all kinds of camps, Math Camp and Music Camp being just two I can think of. There’s even Computer Camp. Wait. Isn’t there a danger of getting S’mores on your keyboard? But I digress.
Anyway, this atheist camp was (and is; I looked it up, and it’s still going strong) called Camp Quest. The name ‘Quest’, I learned from its Wikipedia entry, is actually an acronym for ‘Question, Understand, Explore, Search, Test’. Hmmmm. Like ‘LOL’ is ‘Lots O Love’.
I must admit that it was totally my fault that The Child went to Camp Quest. See, I was reading the New York Times one morning, as is my wont, when I happened upon a piece about an atheist camp. Having never heard of such a thing, I started reading the story aloud to The Dude and The Child, thinking they would chuckle a bit and that would be that.
Nope. They both got really interested, and the next thing you know, The Child is sporting her official Camp Quest tee shirt (emblazoned with the camp slogan: ‘It’s beyond belief!’, which the Ad Girl in me has to admit is pretty darned clever, except for the exclamation point, which I was taught is a lazy use of punctuation), and hopping on a plane to Minnesota. (Yes, Minnesota. Are you as surprised as I was that there are a bunch of atheist kids — er, ‘secular humanists’ — in Minnesota?)
And what did they do at Camp Quest? Well, pretty much the usual campy things: paddle canoes, braid lanyards, shoot arrows out of bows at targets, eat not-so-great camp food (well, except for those S’mores, which, if you’ve had one made with a real toasted-on-a-campfire marshmallow, must admit taste pretty darned good. So good that I must call them ‘heavenly’, Atheist-made or not).
But, while they were gathered ’round the campfire of an evening, toasting marshmallows and not singing Kumbaya, they also had discussions. Like whether heaven existed, and if it did, what it would be like, and if you would exist there forever at the same age you died, and if you’d been married more than one time which spouse would be your ‘forever mate’, what deceased pet you could hang out with, and so on and so forth. Nothing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. At least not that I heard about.
Oh. The Child just told me about the Unicorn Game. It seems that a prize is offered (a 1957 pre-‘In God We Trust’ hundred dollar bill) to any camper who can disprove the existence of two unicorns who supposedly hang around camp. This is supposed to be an exercise showing that it is impossible to argue someone out of a belief. Or something like that. (I may be mangling this; you can read more about the Unicorn Game by clicking here.) So far, no one’s been able to claim the prize.
At any rate, The Child emerged relatively unscathed from her Atheist (ahem, ‘secular humanist’) camp experience, and even went back for more.
Of course, practical person that I am, I can’t help thinking of Pascal’s Wager. Basically, Pascal posits that it’s a great idea to go on ahead and live and act as though there is a god — maybe even go all the way to bright and believe in a god. Because, if in the end, it turns out there is one, then you’re in good shape. And if there isn’t, well, what have you lost? Good wager, Pascal.
But enough with the pontificating already. (‘Pascal’. Good grief.) In closing, let me suggest you divert yourselves by watching the immortal Pete Seeger let ‘er rip on ‘Kumbaya’:
Even if you’re a dyed in the wool secular humanist, you’ve got to admit that’s pretty righteous.
See you next week with a story that I absolutely cross my heart won’t go anywhere near politics or religion. Maybe it’ll be about sex.
Petaluma, California. October 2016