I had two very interesting catchups with some friends just lately. Actually, they were old friends from an industry I used to work in. The names have been changed to protect, ... everything. One guy had gone on to start his own company, and was now finding it all a bit much. No work, and staff to pay; kids in private school etc etc, you know the call. We talked for hours and had a few drinks.
He suddenly announced that he had 'allowed Jesus Christ into his heart' and wanted to tell me about it. It was like the old guy had left and 'used car salesman' had come in, sat down in his place. But I let him go on. I had no qualms about his new belief, other than the fact I didn't share them. Thats where it got tricky. He asked me about my 'relationship with the lord', and I told him my story. "Well John, I'm an atheist", I started off. You could have wopped him with a cold trout and got a better reaction. "So, er what do you worship?" was his first question after he got off the floor.
I explained quietly that I found the whole god thing like a carry-over of the tooth fairy, santa claus, and even though I had tried in the past, I simply couldn't believe in any god-thing. It just seemed irrelevant and archaic. My tack was to be as relaxed and conciliatory in my explanation as possible. I tried to steer the conversation back to common ground but he just was not with me anymore. It was both a scary and educational situation to be in. I guess I won't be getting much work from him in the future.
The other meeting was a walk-over though. Peter was a senior cop and I caught up with him in the city after work, running into him in the street. We hadn't seen each other for ages. Since I'd seen him I'd got married, had kids, moved outside of town and built a house. Usual stuff. His marriage had crashed and burned, He'd traveled, worked in the States for a decade and was now tossing up what to do next with his life. He'd realised he was gay, and trying to see his way through the political minefield that was being in a hetero-oriented industry and a staunchly religious extended family. He knew that if he climbed out of the closet about his sexual preference, his career would falter, but to live a full life he would have to 'own up' to himself fully, and carry the label, sooner or later.
I told him I was an atheist and we laughed and laughed, and laughed, and laughed and laughed. Gathered together in a diverse community, minorities become the majority.