As an atheist, want to know what really annoys me? Do you ever find yourself talking to somebody about a tragedy that befell someone somewhere in the world, and that person says "There but for the grace of God go I".
A former co-worker of mine was like that. He said it all the time. Mention a woman who died from cervical cancer, and he would say "There but for the grace of God go I." Really? It was cervical cancer you moron! Well, okay, he never actually said that in response to the news of a woman dying from cervical cancer, but he did say it a lot.
But what really pushed my button this morning was in reading the comments section to this article in Newsday about an 800 pound Mexican man who had an accident on the way to a date to celebrate his recent loss of 400 pounds.
So, what pearl of wisdom did one of the commenters in the forum offer? Yep, "but for the grace of God, there go I." Oh come on! As if it is only the intervention of a personal deity that prevents us all from weighing over a thousand pounds!
What really annoyed me when my former co-worker would utter that phrase was that it demonstrated such a passive and pessimistic view of life, as if none of us has any control over what course our life takes. And it is not just because I am an atheist that I hate the phrase. While I am not immune to moments of despair or sadness, overall I am an optimist. Eleven years ago I was not happy with where I was in my life, so I resolved to make positive changes. Consequently, the quality of my life greatly improved because of the actions I took and the choices I made. Grace of God indeed. Hmmph!