Why this chaplain sees her atheism as a gift

Atheist chaplain Vanessa Zoltan finds spiritual center in literature, explaining her spiritual identity has been shaped primarily by the Holocaust, a tragedy her grandparents survived.

Background: Vanessa’s spiritual identity stems from her grandparents’ experiences, all Holocaust survivors. Their experiences dictated how she and her family navigated the world.
* The Holocaust served as a constant reminder to her family to stay vigilant, question authority, and always be ready to help or ask for help when needed.
* Their “theology” was not tied to a divine being, but rather to their experiences during the Holocaust.

God and Faith: Vanessa’s atheism stems from the perspective that any existing God would allow for such horrific events.
* Her father once told her: “If there’s a God, he hates us.”
* She views atheism as an act of optimism, believing that it’s up to humans to make the world a better place.

Her Role: As an atheist chaplain, she offers support to individuals grappling with harsh realities, providing space for grief without any promise of a better place or afterlife.
* Vanessa often serves ex-evangelical and ex-Mormon community members who have been hurt by traditional religion.

Platform: Vanessa is against the concept of afterlife, viewing it as a “tool of oppression” used historically to placate suffering individuals by promising them better rewards in the next life.
* She argues this perspective is often used to prevent revolts and keep certain oppressed groups compliant.
* Vanessa believes in addressing problems on this planet, as she is “results-oriented” and “data-driven” in her approach towards spirituality.

View original article on NPR

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