I’m going to start a new series of posts called, completely derivatively: “What Grinds My Gears!”. Since I’m really good a bitching and complaining about various things, I figure I should be fairly good at putting my bitching and complaining down in words too! So, here goes…
The local news stations around here have, over the last several years, really started abusing the word ‘miracle’! Everything is miraculous anymore. “Miraculous car crash survivor“, “Miraculous surgery for conjoined twins“, “Miraculous birth“, etc etc. I find that this is really starting to cheapen the meaning of this word.
The lady in the car crash story above had to be removed from the car and is in the hospital recovering from her injuries. A miracle in this story would have been the truck falling over on the car, and the car staying completely untouched and the woman walking away unharmed.
The miracle surgery for the conjoined twins is nothing more than the amazing medical technology that we have developed as a society. The skill, talents, and knowledge of the surgeons and medical staff. To call it a miracle is to discredit the amazing work of these people. A real miracle in this instance would be the twins being separated after birth with NO intervention from surgeons or doctors at all.
The one that REALLY grinds my gears is all the people who tout the ‘miracle of child-birth”. “Our baby is a miracle”! “Childbirth is such a miracle”! Ugh! There are 7 billion people on the planet right now (not to mention countless billions of healthy births throughout human history). If child-birth is such a miracle, I would think that healthy human birth would have to be a truly rare thing indeed. However, it’s quite obvious that is not the case at all. Humans are baby making factories. We pop the little packages out at impressive rates. Hardly what I would classify as a ‘miracle’!
To me, a miracle would be something that occurs completely outside of the normal operations of the natural world according to the laws of physics and science. When news, ministers, and average believers start labeling every day occurrences (even if they are surprising occurrences) miracles, I believe that really starts to water down the significance of that word. Granted, I don’t believe that miracles actually occur, but there’s definitely a threshold of occurrence and would give me pause, and NONE of these stories qualifies.
This is a tough question.
At least, it’s a tough question for me personally. What I do know for sure is that I’m a TON more happy now than I ever was as believer. I can look at happiness as an average. Am I bouncing off the walls every day with joy? Of course not! I’d find myself in a padded cell wearing a nice new jacket with sleeves that tie in the back if I was. Am I completely miserable every day? Same answer as above. Over the last few years, however, I think that I’ve found that the average ‘level of happiness’ that I feel has increased steadily. There are lots of reasons that I can attribute this change too, but for the sake of keeping with the general topic of this blog, I’ll stick to the religious reasons.
I can remember with vivid detail the day that I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist. (It was after a long period of teeter-tottering back and forth on the topic due to the fear of the stigma associated with that moniker.) I’ve told this to several people since then: the feeling was that of a thousand pounds of weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I felt like all the irrational guilt that I had been carrying around with me for years had finally rolled away. I was finally able to look at myself and the world objectively and determine that things are not nearly as dire as I was made to believe. I don’t have to fear infinite punishment for finite crimes. I don’t have to worry that my lifestyle (and the life I wanted to live) was in some way counter to the rules of some dictator in the sky. I don’t have to live according to a rule book that is so self-contradictory that my mind couldn’t make sense of it.
The result? A nearly immediate sense of happiness. Some of that initial ‘thrill’ so to speak, has of course subsided. But the over-all sense that life is much more worth living now continues to be tangible. I now find value in THIS life. I find value in the NOW! Not in aspirations of an eternal existence that not a single person in the world has a drop of evidence for. Why waste even a second of our time here worrying about a 2nd life? Every minute is valuable, because we don’t get that minute back. This outlook is not perfect, and it takes a conscious effort every single day for me to keep it in perspective. I fail OFTEN, but the trend, I believe is in the right direction.
I’ll start this post by just saying that today sucks. It’s one of those days for me when everything seems to have caught up to me and beat me relentlessly with large clubs. I’m pissy! I’m moody! And at the same time, pretty certain that tomorrow will be a much better day.
That being said, and the reason for my post is, that I find it funny that God isn’t telling my religious family and friends about my mood. No words of wisdom from the Almighty to them, telling them how much I could use a phone call or a message. You’d think that he’d let them know right? Like a voice to my Mom’s head: “Hey, your oldest son is having a rough go of it today, you might wanna check in on him” or to any of my siblings: “Your brother could use a phone call”.
Nope, that never happens. Unless I go out of MY way to mention it somewhere, they will never know. Why? Because this is just another little piece of the ‘Evidence Pie’ that I can add to my own collection that further supports my non-belief.
I’m sure someone will spin it to blame it on me for my lack of faith. But the reality is, that would be one REALLY easy way for God to prove himself to me. I’d almost convert on the spot if someone called me out of the blue and said “You know…God just told me that you’re feeling pretty down today. And I thought I should call you to make sure you’re doing ok”. I mean really? How hard would that be? I’m sure I’d still have the thoughts of ‘pure coincidence’ rolling around in my head, but that would certainly give me pause. (of course, now that this blog post is out there, there’s always the chance that someone saw it and put 2 and 2 together! ;))
For the record, this post is not a cry for sympathy from the readers of this blog. Just a fleeting thought that crossed my mind today. I’ll be fine tomorrow. Maybe even later today.
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.