Al the Atheist’s Awful Advent

“Another Guinness, and do NOT put the shamrock on the head,” Al shouted at the bartender.  ”It reminds me of the blasted Trinity. “  My friend Al the atheist was clearly upset, and by the third Guinness his tongue had loosened.  “It’s my son,” he complained.

I leaned in sympathetically.  “What is wrong? Drugs, crime, school problems?”

“No, a girl,” he sighed.  “You try to raise them right, then some girl just comes along and messes up their head completely.”

 I was surprised.  I knew Carl and he seemed to have his head on straight.  I had even seen him in church on Sunday, which surprised me, and would have upset his father.  Then I remembered that we had a pot luck dinner that week, and Carl’s mother had just taken up vegan cooking.  But his girlfriend seemed like someone Al would approve of.  “Maddy seems alright.  Is there trouble?”

“Oh, Madeline is fine, but she is a bit upset.  It’s a different girl.”

 “Oh, to be young, and to feel love’s keen sting,” I thought, but wisely did not quote Dumbledore.  “ A veritable Delilah,” I thought, and bit my tongue again.  “What is happening?” I asked, more seriously.

“It’s Mary,” he said.

“Mary who?”

“You know, Mary.  THAT Mary,”  he snorted.  “The one I don’t believe in.”

“Al, she’s been dead over 1900 years.  What can she do to your son?  You need to stop drinking now.”

“Well, Carl told me that was minding his business, making fun of the Virgin Birth at the expense of his Christian classmates, and this girl Hannah jumps in.  And she says to him, “Carl, you have read the story, right? “

 “Yeah, my dad keeps a Bible on his fiction shelf. “

 “And you think Mary was a bad girl, who lied her way out of trouble, right?”

“ Of course.  You don’t really believe HER version of the story, do you?”

“But Mary was a smart girl, right?  I mean, she convinced her man, got married, and all that.  And her son even became a little bit famous.  Most people think highly of her now.  Except for atheists like you.”


“But if she was so smart, she could have saved herself a lot of trouble.”


 “Of course.  Let’s say she got knocked up, persuaded Joseph of this crazy story, and then her kid turns out like Jesus.  And then Jesus’ friends start writing stuff about him, including the story of his conception.  Don’t you think she would just leave out the potentially embarrassing parts of the story?”

 “Yeah, that is what my  Aunt Ruth did.  No one does the math between her wedding and the birth of my cousin.”

 “Right, and that’s if she even had the baby.  What do people do with inconvenient pregnancies now?”

“That’s true, but they couldn’t do that back then.”

“ I disagree.  4 centuries earlier, the Hippocratic Oath forbade a doctor from ending a pregnancy.  You can’t forbid an act that didn’t exist.”

 “Oh, I see your point.”

“So if Mary was a bad girl, she could easily have made herself look better.  She could have not had the baby, or she could have disappeared to the countryside for a while, and she could have made sure any references to the curious parts of her family history were not written down.  But because she was telling the truth, she exposed herself to ridicule from atheists like you for all eternity. Not to mention her disapproving aunts, uncles, neighbors, and don’t forget Herod.  And her boyfriend was not understanding at first either.  What teenage girl wants to go through THAT drama with her boyfriend?”

“You got me there.”

Al ended his story, and stared at his beer.  “Carl just hasn’t been the same since then.  I heard him playing “Mary Do you Know’ on his guitar.  And last Sunday, the brat hitched a ride to church with Hannah.”

I tried to encourage him.  “I noticed that, but I thought nothing of it. We had a pot luck last week,  and  I just thought that Hannah was rescuing your son from Rose’s vegan cooking.  He is a growing boy, and she is compassionate that way.  But now that you mention it, he was singing ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel ‘ like he meant it.”

Al looked defeated.  ”I think I have a teenage rebellion on my hands.”



2 thoughts on “Al the Atheist’s Awful Advent

  1. Well done. It reminds me of the prayer we did back in college as fellow students got ready to tell their parents that they had come to Christ and were no longer Catholic/Mormon/atheist anymore. Some of the parents were, to put it mildly, pieces of work.

    And I’m told by an Irishman of my ken that Guinness is actually light beer in Ireland. Except for the extra stout, which is pretty good, but hardly a “Hopslam”.

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