What a great read this is. It really shows the loving, kindness, and acceptance of some groups of ‘godly’ folks. (sarcasm heavily laced here).
After his run-in with the church folks, this writer ran into an issue when his son was upset and worried that he or is parents were going to die. His response is great:
As a father, I was about to tell my terrified son the fairy tale equivalent of this: “If he didn’t want to end up locked in a dark, dank basement filled with spiders and child molesters and murderers, then he should love me with all his heart and soul, and if I believed he was sincere, then I wouldn’t lock him down there forever. I would tell him I sacrificed myself to work very hard for him, and that I was giving him this gift of a chance to live upstairs with me forever. However, if he didn’t want it, then it was out of my hands and he would have to go to the basement and be locked in there, away from the warm beacon of my love forever.”
I couldn’t tell my child this. I couldn’t tell him that invisible demons were real.
It’s sad, to me, that the people of his church would get so bent out of shape about political issues. I don’t think this is a rare event either. I remember from back when I was going to church in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, that politcs where being ‘preached’ at that time. I can only imagine how much worse it is now.
One of my Facebook Friends posted this as their status tonight:
Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch and washes all the dirt off of you. He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate and greed. He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see. This was passed to me by another pumpkin. Now it’s your turn to pass it on to the pumpkins in your patch!
If you ask me, this sounds a lot like a metaphor for a full frontal lobotomy. Seriously, how can this be something to be proud of? It’s a willful disregard for one’s own mind. A blind acceptance of the ‘soup du-jour’ if you will. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the mentality of surrendering one’s logic and reason for submission to faith and belief without any evidence.
So, following the Haiti crisis, by now we’ve all heard the wonderful comments made by Pat Robertson.
Well, I decided to post that video on my Facebook page, knowing full-well that it would cause quite the stir. Well, it most certainly did. Fortunately, most of my free-thinking, atheist, & agnostic friends spoke up the most. So the ‘fundies’ were very much in the minority this time. The thread ended up having over 50 responses on it. The intensity level was definitely at a high, but certainly was what I had expected when I posted it.
The one comment that got me really going was from a girl who I dated when I was in high-school. We’ve had little to no interaction in the almost 20 years since we’ve broken up, and that includes the last few months that’s she’s been on my Facebook friends list. So when she decided that this post was her opportunity to comment, this is what she wrote:
Sorry but reference to your comment about no loving God would allow this to happen to his creation…(and I am saying without knowing what was actually said on that clip)…God is loving. So is my father. Both will punish me to correct me when I do something wrong. God has the power to effect more-remember the flood? or turning people into pillars of salt? It’s a wake up call. Where to you put your trust? Of course I grew up with you and know you already know the real answer-unless you have taken a blow to the head. But I do see that your post has comments with true emotion. I’m just glad I’m right.lol
Well, the part about taking a blow to the head really sat wrong with me. I mean, who the hell is she to think that it’s ok to think, let alone SAY, something like that to me on MY wall in a public place. I realize that I open myself up for some criticism by posting something like this on my page, but ad hominem attacks are just simply uncalled for.
So, I did what I always do when something is on my mind. I write. I wrote a long email response to her and sent it. It was last week when I sent it and I haven’t heard anything back yet. This is what I wrote:
I think I need to clarify a few things in regards to your comment on my post about Pat Robertson. And, trust me, I’m not trying to cause an issue, or offend, or anything of the sort. I’m not even interested in getting into the specifics of your particular argument. I just think there’s some heavy misconceptions about what I think, KNOW, believe, or otherwise. And, to be perfectly honest, I was quite offended by this statement “Where do you put your trust? Of course I grew up with you and know you already know the real answer-unless you have taken a blow to the head”. I’m truly hoping that was a joke…but I sense that it wasn’t (being as that entire thread has an intense tone, as it should). The implication is that the only way that I could possibly think something other than what we grew up believing was if I had some kind of problem with my brain. I’m not sure how I am NOT supposed to be offended…but I’m trying very hard not to be.
The reality is, I’m a VERY different person than the one that you knew growing up. Fundamentally, the same, but I have an entire different worldview now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The specifics aren’t important at this point (unless you actually want to know), but the long and short is that I no longer buy into the Christian teachings that we were brought up with. I’m Christian by culture only, and that’s ok. It’s a part of who I am. But as for anything supernatural? Nope…I’m not buying it anymore. It was not a knee-jerk decision by any means either. I’ve spent years of searching and digging with the real hope that I would find something that would allow me to keep my faith. I continue to dig even to this day. But when it’s all said and done, I’ve come to the conclusions that work for me.
What’s most interesting about this whole thing is the reactions of some of the folks that I’ve grown up with. Some are curious and ask why. Some don’t understand. And others are downright offended. That last one just mystifies me. Why in the world can’t people accept that not everyone is the same? In my opinion, the world would be a very boring place if that was the case. Anyway, I’ve had lots of email conversations with old church friends over the last few years/months and I’m always ok with discussing these topics, as long as they are respectful conversations.
Where I put my trust should only matter to ME. Why that’s a concern for so many other people is not really a mystery to me (I know the motives), but it’s curious the extent that people will go to try to change me. I’m living in the happiest years of my life right now. And that’s due, to a large extent, on my letting go of the beliefs that I had when I was younger. The feeling of relief when I finally admitted it to myself was almost physically tangible. So, this is the way it goes…I’m happy, have a great family, good job, I don’t commit crimes, life is good, I conquered depression, I focus on the positive…why isn’t that enough? Why can’t I just be happy? Is that too much to ask? Those are obviously rhetorical questions, but you get my point and I’m not actually concerned about what anyone thinks about me. I know I can look myself in the mirror and finally be cool with what I see.
At the end of the day, we are going to have to agree to disagree. But I’m hoping that there will be some mutual respect for each other’s worldviews. I don’t have any issue with yours, and all I expect is the same in return.
There! I said it! And I’m not at all upset about it. I do like Christmas, and it doesn’t really matter why. Though, this wouldn’t be much of a blog entry if I didn’t go into it anyway would it? So here goes.
It’s probably just because of cultural reasons that I feel this way. I was raised with the sights, sounds, and smells of the Christian holiday, and every December, I almost literally crave all of those things. It’s the ‘warmth’ of the season. The family get togethers that happen so infrequently throughout the year. The seasonal specific foods. And the many other things that go on this time of year that really separate it from all other times.
I realize that most of those things are just aesthetic. But for me, I don’t need the supernatural elements that the ‘origins’ of this season claim, for me to be able to enjoy, embrace, and celebrate this time of year. Yeah, I could call it a Solstice Celebration or something of that sort. But then, it seems to lose that cultural history that makes Christmastime a unique part of who I am. Those things are a PART of me, whether I believe the religious elements or not.
So, I will probably be saying a lot of ‘Merry Christmases’ again this year, and not feeling the least bit conflicted about it.
Since it seems that Facebook is the place where most of my interaction with believers takes place (and they love to send me private emails about god), I figure I’ll post some of the interactions here for whatever parts of the bloggosphere would like to appreciate them. (the name’s have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent). I did not get a response after my reply, so either my argument was good, or this one just gave up on me! 🙂
Know What You Believe
2 Timothy 1:12-14
All people have a belief system, whether they realize it or not. Even those who claim there is no God have faith that He does not exist. What we believe affects every area of our lives and shapes every decision we make, yet few of us take the time to really think about what we accept as true.
All belief systems have a foundation. Some people base their convictions on what fits their lifestyle, reasoning, and desires. However, Jesus calls His followers to adapt life to their faith in Him and the authority of His Word.
Anytime we add other philosophies or ideas to Scripture or pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe, we create our own version of faith based on personal reasoning. God’s Word is the only true and reliable foundation for belief, because it contains the recorded thoughts of an eternal, all-knowing God. All other concepts must be measured against it
to determine their validity.
Knowing what the Bible says is essential for developing a sound system of beliefs founded on the truth and wisdom of God. This world will offer you a variety of philosophies which sound good but are laced with lies. A faith anchored in the Scriptures is your protection against deception.
Each time you face a problem or decision, search for the answer in Scripture. Begin your day by reading the Word and asking God to help you understand what He is saying. He loves communicating with you, and as you spend time with Him, He’ll open your mind to know His thoughts.
Thanks for thinking of me. I appreciate it greatly. That being said, I think you know that I can’t just let that rest as is. It’s just not in my nature.
So, here’s my thoughts…
“All people have a belief system, whether they realize it or not”
I can’t really argue that much. It’s true. But what’s also true is that those ‘beliefs’ vary greatly from person to person. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, most atheists don’t claim that ‘there is no god’. That would be rather arrogant to make a claim like that. However, we believe that the chances that there is a god are so remote, that it’s really not worth being concerned about it. I personally reject any concept of a ‘personal god’ who knows all our thoughts and who controls every aspect of life in the universe. The concept is just absolutely absurd to me. I’d probably be willing to say that MAYBE there was some kind of higher power that started everything off, but then I believe that that would be stretching the definition of the word ‘god’ too far.
As for the scripture quoted. You can find encouraging words in all sorts of ‘religious’ and non-religious texts. Frankly, I think that the morality expressed in the bible (if you REALLY read it), is awful. It’s hateful, divisive, murderous, etc etc (I could site examples…but I just don’t have the time right now).
Ultimately, as I’ve said before, I find my strength within myself, and the people around me who I love, in order to get through tough times. I don’t need to look to an imaginary friend to help me through. I try not to be cocky about that, but that’s just the way I work. I understand that the world/nature is a brutal place, and that I am ultimately in control of what I can control, and the rest is just going to happen. And I’m perfectly ok with that. After billions of years of things working that way, who am I to try to convince myself that it’s otherwise?
So, I’m not sure what your motive is for sending this, as you have to know what my thoughts/response will be, but like I said at the beginning, I do appreciate you thinking about me and being concerned. I’m great though. Heavily overworked…but great.
Talk to you soon!
It’s so tiring to be constantly bombarded with religious ‘stuff’. I’m very much a Facebook junkie and 90% of the folks on my friends list are fundamentalist Christians. That’s because they are mostly family, and people that I grew up with. I know I could just launch them from my page, but then, what kind of a positive atheist would I be by doing that? And that’s definitely not the kind of person I want to be or portray.
Still, I get so tired of the religious posts. “need prayer for..” this. “god is great” that. 1 person in particular finishes ALL her posts and comments with “Jesus Loves You”. And sometimes I just want to post in all caps “NO HE DOESN’T. AND HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU EITHER”. But alas…I don’t. All in the name of maintaining the peace and harmony.
I know for certain that if I was to post some of my TRUE thoughts on topics there, I would never hear the end of the preaching. I don’t HIDE my non-belief. My religious view are set to ‘Atheist’ and most of my family knows my stance. But I still feel that I can’t express my thoughts the way I want to without pissing someone off. It’s just frustrating at times.
I apologize for the rant. I guess I’m just overworked, under-rested, and not feeling particularly well lately. All that added together usually makes for a less-than-happy me. I hope that this all fades pretty soon, and I expect that it will. Just feeling a bit ‘down’ today.
This past weekend we had our families over for a cookout. My wife invited her Mom, step-dad, and brother. I invited my mom, step-dad, and sister. Before my Mom was to come over, she called to tell me that she’d be bringing my Grandmother along too.
My Grandmother is getting rather old now (late 80’s), and I thought it would be nice to see her since it had been a long time (due to the never-ending dramas that are always going on in the family). Anyway, there was this little voice inside my head that started saying, ‘this is going to be a tag-team effort between your mom and grandmother to preach as often as they can this afternoon.’
Well, for the most part, everything was cool. Except for the standard interjections by my Mom (who is an evangelic pastor for anyone who hasn’t read me mentioning that before) about healings and demon deliverances at church.
I had a long conversation with my Grandmother (which was generally very nice btw), and was able to show her some of my photography work from the last few years. That lead her to start the usual, ‘God has given you such tallent’ stuff. And then from there it went onto the tirades about how we are living in the end times, and how she knows I don’t want to hear it, but that we need to fall down on our knees and repent while we still have time. Blah blah blah.
For a very short moment, I thought about spouting off about how sad it is that people think that this world is so awful and how life it just dirty, and we are all worthless sinners, etc etc. But then I realized, my Grandmother is 89. She’s not going to be around much longer. Why should I bother ‘rocking the boat’ when it’s not going to change anything anyway? So, I just nodded and didn’t really say anything and tried my best to change the subject.
It’s so tiring to constantly be preached at. I just want to scream “HEY!! THERE’S NOTHING THAT HORRIBLY WRONG WITH ME!! I DON’T KILL PEOPLE! I’M NOT A DRUG ADDICT! I LOVE MY FAMILY AND AM RAISING MY KID TO BE A GOOD AND RESPONSIBLE MEMBER OF SOCIETY! BACK OFF ALREADY!” I’m guessing that at some point it’s going to come to that. Most likely between my mother and me. Having grown up in that fundamentalist situation, I know the mentality and what is thought about those that aren’t part of ‘the borg’.
I just wish that I could be accepted as I am (though, my family would say that they have) and respected for my beliefs. Or lack thereof.