God, Facebook, and Pixar

I am not a religious person.

I’m not anti-religion either; in fact I’d rather just not think about it all together. There was a time when I was religious, and then soon after there was a time that I was anti-religious, and then that was followed up by a long period of really thinking about both sides in depressingly long time spans. It was exhausting. What got me out of that rut was probably my schedule. I had too much shit to do than to wallow, and since I always seem to have shit to do my “meaning-of-life mind finagle” has since taken a back seat for the better.

I know that in general I don’t believe in Christianity. I am hesitant to say much else as I don’t really know much else. This one time in college my roommate introduced me to a guy who she thought had a lot in common with me because he was quote “also an atheist.”

I was like, “Sarah, I am not an atheist.”

She was like, “Oh come on, Ali. It’s on your facebook. It’s under your religious beliefs.”

“No it’s not.”

“Well what’s on there then?”

“Disney Magic.”

I remember this five year old conversation distinctly because of how defensive I felt toward the notion that I was an atheist. In Sarah’s defense, upon meeting me it does seem plausible that I am an atheist. I am a member of the liberal, feminist younger generation. I critique and make fun of bible thumpers and roll my eyes at the religious right, so it is only natural to assume that I don’t think there are big giant hands guiding me every day as I miss my train or lose a glove. (And also in Sarah’s defense, we bicker all the time with who knows me better, her or me.)

But I am not an atheist and here’s why:

For one, to firmly say that you are an atheist means you better have damn sure done your research as to why that is what you believe. You better be able to field the questions just like anyone who calls him or herself a Catholic of an Orthodox Jew. To me, atheism is a belief system on it’s own. There are rules and rational. There are practices and ideas. You can’t claim you’re an atheist and when asked why shrug your shoulders and say, “I dunno, just cuz.”

I mean, I guess you can. But then you’re the type of person who sucks balls and makes all other atheists angry. There are always the dumb few in every religion who don’t really grasp why they are that religion, and atheism is no exception. (Or “belief system” as I know atheism is not a religion. Or is it? I mean technically? I mean, define religion. Oh nevermind.)

The only reason I feel confident in saying I don’t believe in Christianity is because that is a world I feel like I know a good amount about to draw that conclusion. Oh and Scientology too. (Bitches be crazy!) I can’t knock Buddhism or Islam yet because I haven’t done much research on those at all. And we all know what happens when people are against something they don’t know or understand. People die or shit gets burned down, motha’ fucka’.

To me, atheism means you’ve concluded something in your mind and since I find coming to theological conclusions daunting, I’m not one.

I’m very close to one, but I’m not one.

Sorry Sarah.

The other reason I am not an atheist? Toy Story 3.

I went and saw Toy Story 3 this summer and I’ll be honest, I don’t have an urge to see it again like I do the other two films. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a great film, it’s just that I cried my eyes out the entire time I was in the theater and I am not sure if I am ready to go through that range of emotions again.

I’ve tried to figure out for months why the movie got to me as hard as it did. I know it got to a lot of people, but for me it was almost a negative cry at the end.  Like to a point where I almost didn’t like the movie. And not liking a Pixar movie = bad sign.  I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought about it. It was almost as if TS3 was my new God vs. No God debacle. Why did this film get me to my core?

And the obvious reason is my fear of growing up. That’s a gimme.  I mean, this movie is about these awesome toy characters whose owner, Andy, has out grown them and is going to college. Considering I was just a child when the first film came out, I understand my personal self made metaphor in that I am, in fact, Andy and I don’t ever wanna grow up.

Also, I’m sad that these toys drank the Tuck Everlasting water and all they will ever know is people aging all around them and eventually dying all around them while they still have to live through it all.  Stick that one in your pipe and smoke it.

But there is another reason that is almost too embarrassing to tell as to why I cried so hard during TS3. And I am going to tell you it now.

As I sit here typing I am joined by Gus the Bear, a big brown stuffed toy my mother got in college and has since been passed down to me to lay at the foot of my bed as my protector. Next to Gus is Dolly, my decrepit Styrofoam headed Precious Moments Doll that I have had since birth and who I still shamelessly clutch on to when my boyfriend is out of town (which is pretty much all the time as we have a long distance relationship). Perched a little above Gus and Dolly, on the mantle next to picture frames, is Crittendon, a tiny Polar Bear that was given to me by my boyfriend and has served as the subject in photographs of trips around the U.S. and Europe. Crittendon has been to places like the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Millennium Park, and Vancouver, just to name a few. I look at these toys and I know I will never get rid of them or give them up, even though some kid elsewhere may have more joy in playing with them (except for maybe Dolly, woof) than I do now. I look at them now and I feel bad, like I need to apologize to them for being an adult. The other night I was discussing TS3 with my roommate Kyle and he cynically said, “Well the movie’s not that sad when you remember that toys aren’t actually real.” And immediately my mind flashed to Gus and Dolly and Crittedon and immediately I realized why Toy Story 3 shook me so much.

It’s because deep down I have convinced myself that toys are real.

I think Dolly would be sad if I ever threw her away. I would be so heart broken if I lost Crittendon at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. If Gus’s head ever fell off, I would shriek as if a real human’s head actually fell off.

Now I’m not stupid. I know toys don’t actually have brains or feelings or are actual living things. What blows my mind is that deep down I have had this outlook subconsciously for years and not even noticed it. I know my attachment to my toys is not any different than someone’s attachment to a favorite sweater or album. The toys bring back good memories, a sense of security and love. They’re around for sentimental purposes only. I. Know. That.

But the fact of the matter is, the toys I have somehow seem like more to me than just sentiment. There is something bigger happening here than just liking a toy because I got a picture with it on London Bridge. Or maybe sentiment itself is bigger than I thought. Maybe sentiment is something that pulls you, drives you, makes you want to be a better person. With something like Crittendon or Gus, I believe in the goodness that is associated with that toy.  I believe in the magic of toys.

TS3 did not teach me that toys are real; it taught me that I can believe in something unexplainable.

An atheist does not believe in a higher power or other unexplainable phenomenons as to why the world works the way it does. They don’t have such a thing known as blind faith. In a greater sense, I don’t think I do either, but with what has happened to me since Toy Story 3, I know now that I am someone who could.

I am not an atheist because, really, what is the difference between my faith in Gus the Protector than someone’s faith in an Almightly God? To me, it’s just words and definitions.

And if a Christian is offended by reading this, fucking save it. I am not comparing your God to a stuffed bear.

All I’m saying is Toy Story 3 made me cry because it touched on something I hadn’t thought about in years, faith.

Now, this isn’t going to make me dive back in to the thick of philosophical thought any time soon. In fact, I’m not sure if it got me any further on the matter other than understanding even more so that I really don’t know my beliefs.

For all logical purposes I should be an atheist and get over it already. I don’t see myself going to a synagogue anytime soon and I’m also not going to be one of those pretentious “Oh I’m spiritual but not religious” bastards either. I’m not spiritual and I probably never will be. But then again, my eyes fall onto my Dolly and suddenly, the concept of a greater being isn’t completely unrelatable.

On facebook, I could just say agnostic (ag·nos·tic n. 1. somebody who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists 2. somebody who doubts that a particular question has a single correct answer or that a complete understanding of something can be attained), and be just fine. But alas, there is something even more correct with the phrase “Disney Magic.”

After all, I believe in doing research when it comes to your beliefs.

Go ahead and quiz me about Disney shit.

–       One El

“Not all women want the words Juicy printed on their ass. It’s just that sometimes, when is comes to sweatpants shopping, retail outlets leave you no choice.”


One thought on “God, Facebook, and Pixar

  1. Your Atheist Big Bro Mike says:

    Mark you calendar for drinks and a religion discussion while you’re back in Colorado! And comparing your stuffed animal to a christian god is exactly what you’re doing. And you should! They are both accomplishing the exact same thing.

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