Why Are Atheists “The Enemy?”

I was just reading/listening to Teresa Macbain’s story–

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith

Religion so often does the opposite of what believers think.  It makes people intolerant.  Why does Teresa’s community that she gave guidance and counseling and encouragement and support to, turn on her this way and treat her like an enemy?  Do Christians view Jews as the enemy?  Or Buddhists?  Or anyone who happens to have faith in something else?   Then why are atheists the enemy?  And especially atheists who were previously Christians?

Tell you what, listening to Teresa’s story…struck a chord with me.  I haven’t become an enemy like she has.  I am not seen as a betrayer of the faith as she is.  But I have lost friends since I made it clear I can’t believe anymore.   I also find myself suddenly having to walk on eggshells worrying how much should I exult in this new feeling of freedom?  How much singing out and speaking out and shouting out with joy can I do before I am admonished for offending someone?

Really, all it takes to offend a Christian is to say the words “there’s no such thing as god.”  Say those words and they are offended, personally and deeply offended.

It’s not meant to be an offense.  If I went 40 years of my life thinking I have a horrible singing voice and always being ashamed to sing, afraid to sing…and then one day I’m told by a voice teacher I have a really great range and wonderful potential as a singer, I’m going to want to tell people.    The same is true if I go my whole life believing in something that makes me feel I can’t ever be good enough, that I was born corrupt and I need to do this and this and this to be good or to be loved…and then one day I find out it’s all a lie and I was born into this world exactly right and exactly as nature meant me to be–I would want to sing that news from the rooftops!  I’d want to  tell my friends, my family, people I care about whom I still see struggling in the dark.   And yet…it offends people.

No Christian, especially not the ones who live for Jesus and give their whole life’s work to serving Jesus like Ms. Macbain, want or ask to lose their faith.   It’s not a road believers take intentionally.  It’s a path they stumble on.

We’re not supposed to ask questions.  I know a friend who was kicked out of her church for asking too many questions.  Why is that?  If Christianity is true–if any religion is true–it should be able to withstand any questions put to it.  It should  not shy away from the new discoveries of science either, but rather welcome those discoveries as further proof of its unshakable truth.

Instead when I asked questions, the kind of questions that put parts of the bible or god’s actions or Jesus’ actions, into doubt, I was given the same pat answers: “we are finite beings; how can we possibly understand god?”  Or, “god works in mysterious ways.”  Or, “have faith.  God will reveal this to you in time.”

And then that time never comes.

I look at the bible and I wonder, how can this loving god that the Christians believe in order little children dashed to pieces or pregnant mother’s bellies cut open with swords?   How can this just and merciful god order a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or…allow his followers to teach that women are worth only half as much as men and should be silent, should not wear jewelry or braided hair or… speak aloud in church, and daughters can be sold into slavery.

These are the questions that catch us unaware.  We are like everyone else, Christians going along with what we’re told, assuming someone bothered to do the research and confirm it’s all true.  We nod our heads and sing our songs and high-light the appropriate verses in the bible.   But then one day someone points out something in the bible we didn’t know was there.  Or maybe one day it suddenly dawns on us that it makes no sense that Satan would hate the people who deny god, his enemy, and would want to punish them.    Or that god would punish Adam and Eve so severely for simply being ignorant, for making a mistake, and not just them but all of humanity.

Atheists are not the enemy of anyone.  Atheists simply do not believe in the supernatural–and have lately been brought to the point that we aren’t so silent about it anymore after having to hear politicians who should know better declare our country a “Christian nation” when it’s not, or for that matter have  Christianity shoved in our face wherever we turn.  How does this make us bad people worthy of hate?  How does this make someone like Teresa Macbain worthy of being shunned by the very community she served and helped for years?

Once upon a time God created himself an enemy.  I’m not sure why.  A lot of pain and suffering would have been avoided if he hadn’t.   But he made Satan and then punished Satan for being made.  Sometimes I feel like Christians want to have an enemy too.  So they hunt down people who dare to not agree, and attack them, call them ignorant or evil–arrogantly tell them they’re going to hell–basically punish them for daring to be, just like gays, true to who and what they are.

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Social Suicide

Very few things are truer than this.  Or at least in the U.S.   Unfortunately.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWHzIt4A_oo

Christian Blinders

When a Christian spouts off about all the other evidences and proofs out there that a biblical Jesus existed, other than, that is, the four gospels written by anonymous church-hired writers in the New Testament, demand they kindly provide these proofs.  Are they going to list Josephus or other Roman historians that either did not live during the time of Jesus or did not actually write about him per se, but rather the appearance of the new religion Christianity.

It is largely accepted that the few passages in Josephus that mention Jesus were added in later, as the paragraphs are out of context with the sentences that come before and after.   And even if a historian is found who lived during Jesus’ alleged lifetime and did write about him, all that proves is that a person named Jesus existed.  I believe in that part of the world, it is not an uncommon name.

All I ask for is evidence.  Christianity lost credibility for me when I realized that the bible is not true.  When I figured out that there were verses clearly put into it not because they were god’s teachings but because some religious group wanted to dictate certain laws and rules over the common people, and especially to subjugate certain people, most especially women, as is typical of all man-made, patriarchal religions.

Once I figured out that some verses in the bible couldn’t possibly be from god or god inspired, then all of a sudden the entire book became suspect.  How am I, with my puny little mind, supposed to weed out what is really from god and what isn’t really from god?   Between that and the blatant errors in the bible (god the all powerful can’t smite chariots made of iron?  Hello???), the bible stopped being, in my eyes, anything real.

Some Christians readily admit the bible is nothing more than a fairy tale or myths–legends, etc.  But they still believe.  I fail to see how the religion can have a leg to stand on if the bible is not true, if the story of Adam and Eve and original sin is not true?  Without that story of original sin there ceases to be a need for religion, or god, or saviors.  There ceases to be a need for Christianity.  This is the only reason why the Christian bible still has the old testament included–because they need that all important absurd story of talking snakes and the original sin.

Talk to a Christian, they will tell you about Christian writers who disagree.  Well, no surprise there.  I say, read the testimonials of learned Christians–men and women who went to Seminary and taught this stuff and knew the bible inside out and STILL unconverted–lost their faith–stopped believing.   These are the people I would be interested in hearing from.  Not the people who just say the same things I had to hear over and over and over–repeating the same well worn pages and hi-lighted verses, and ignoring completely the other three quarters of this book.

Before a Christian has the right to tell me their god is good, they need to read the entire bible.  They need to tell me how a good and loving deity does what the god of the old testament does, and answer the illogic of an all knowing god deliberately creating flawed human beings, and then punishing them for being flawed.

Woe to You Who Disagrees w/ a Christian!

I once really liked this story in the New Testament.  I used to think it literally meant you have to be humble, not proud, to be great in heaven.  But now, seeing this as an atheist, a second meaning  becomes clear.   In the first part Jesus is teaching his followers they must be humble like a little child, not proud.   What’s funny is from my recollection of childhood, children are not humble but rather very self-important; they very much see themselves as special and want to be treated that way; they want to COUNT, to be the favorite child, to get the gold star from the teacher.  So what I really think the point of this verse is–to believe in what Christianity teaches you must be gullible like a little child–have magical thinking like a little child–accept rather than to question what you don’t understand–like a little child:

Matthew Ch: 8–

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew Ch: 8–

This next part that immediately follows is a warning to non-believers like myself that there will be dire consequences for us if we should say or produce any evidence or logic that might cause one of God’s “little ones” to stumble in their faith, start to question their faith or… lose it altogether:

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

SO in other words, assuming Jesus actually lived and actually said these things, which I highly doubt, what I believe his real point is, you have to be gullible like a child to believe all this stuff and get into heaven, and any of you who refuse to be or can’t be gullible–shame on you for trying to talk sense into any of these who can–you will be gravely punished if you succeed in making them stumble.

Not only does this warn believers against relying upon their own judgment or reason (to do so would not be humble but rather arrogant), but it also puts a “hands off” sign on believers directed at non believers.  Meaning that if I had a spouse or a parent I saw lost to a belief I know is false, I am to remain silent about it or bad things will happen to me if I in any way, try to interject a different opinion, perspective, or interpretation.

Questions I’d Ask Christians

Ultimatum.  The only way to heaven & eternal life is by the blood/sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Question:  What about small children, infants or (heaven forbid) fetuses yet to be conceived because mom and dad haven’t met?

Answer:  God is a fair and loving God.  I’m sure innocent children and babies (fetuses!) go to heaven.

Question:  what about all the people (Jews) who worshipped/followed God before Jesus came to earth?  (or for that matter what about all the people who worshiped the other godmen like Krishna or Mithras who claimed to be the only son of god, were born of a virgin, were crucified and rose three days later?  Was it their fault they were born before the REAL only son of god came?  Seems to me their hearts were in the right place–they worshipped the same thing, for doing the same thing.  How were those millions of followers to know it wasn’t the right only son of god?

Answer:  God works in mysterious ways.  Before Jesus came god let people into heaven if they said they were sorry enough times and sacrificed enough crops, animals, or in some cases, daughters or sons.

Question:  what about people in modern times who were born in other parts of the world where the majority of the population is Muslim or Hindu and that’s what they were taught since birth is the only right religion?  Are they to be sent to hell for believing their parents and their teachers and their culture or their religious leaders in their country?  Should they go to hell for not being born where the majority of Christians live–America?

Answer:  We have missionaries that preach to the uneducated third world peoples.  If they hear the word of god and Satan hardens their hearts to it, yes, they will go to hell.  The truth is out there.   They have to forsake these false religions they have been raised all their lives (just as we have been) to think is true, and follow what we believe instead, in order to make it into heaven.

Question:  If you were told by a Muslim or Hindu or anyone else of any other religion that the Christianity you have embraced all your life–that you were raised to believe all your life is true, is actually false, would YOU be able to forsake all you’ve been taught and become one of these other faiths?

Answer:  Absolutely not because Christianity is the only truth.

Question:  And you know this how?

Answer:   The bible tells me so.  And I know because I have a personal relationship with Jesus in my heart.

Question:  Do you think Muslims might feel sure because the Koran tells them so, or because they have a personal relationship with Muhammad in their heart?

Answer:  If Jesus isn’t in their hearts, then what they think is Muhammad is actually satan.

Question:  If Christianity is the only truth, why are there so many variations of Christianity?   Why do Four Square churches teach you d0n’t have the holy spirit in your heart until you can speak in tongues, and why do the Baptists teach that you must be baptized as an adult before the holy spirit will enter you and how come born again Christians say you must ask Jesus into your heart to be your lord and savior before you can really be saved–going to church or doing good works is not enough?     How is a person to know which Christianity is the right way?

Answer:  All who truly seek after God and truly believe Jesus is the only son of god and died for their sins, will be welcome in the kingdom of heaven.

Question:  But all these other people who seek god too, only the god they’ve been taught to believe in has a different name…they aren’t saved because it’s not the right god?

Answer:  Correct

Question:  What about atheists or agnostics who don’t follow or believe in any god?  Isn’t free will a gift your god gives all of us?   So then, if people accept the gift and exercise their free will…they are punished if they don’t make the right decision?

Answer:  Anyone who shuns god will go to hell, yes.

Question:  By that you mean your god?

Answer:  mine is the only god.

Question: Well, what about mentally ill people, or people incapable of comprehending things like god, salvation, Jesus, Satan, sin, heaven and hell?  Do they go to hell for not understanding?

Answer:  Who can know the mind of god?   Our god is loving: I doubt he’d send someone to hell like that.

Question:  Oh, ok, so he does make exceptions.  Interesting.  So um…if he creates someone mentally ill or otherwise unable to make the right choice–he won’t punish them for not believing, but if he makes someone flawed deliberately so they can’t make the right choice and instead don’t believe, that’s different.  Hmm.  So, how can you call it “free will” if there’s only one right choice a mentally capable person can make and…damnation forever if they make the wrong choice?

Answer:  God doesn’t force them to follow him.   He asks.  If they say no, that’s fine.  But then they don’t go to heaven.

Question:  They go to hell instead, and burn in torment forever.

Answer:  yes, exactly.

Question:  Even though god made them the way they are to be destined not to choose him?  He’d punish them for that?  Wow.  Tell me, could you love a god who sent your mother and father to hell for not believing the right thing?  Who sent your best friend to hell because he couldn’t believe something not supported by facts?  Imagine you’re in heaven and you can hear their cries and see their suffering every moment of the eternity in paradise you get to spend?  Would it still feel like paradise to you?   You could love a god who could do this?

Question–or even if god hardens your heart so it doesn’t bother you knowing that mortal human beings are being tortured forever and ever for making the wrong choice in their brief, flawed, mortal life–you could still love a god knowing he can do this?  To creations he made flawed enough to sin in the first place?

Because,Christian, I could not, and I would rather go to hell than worship a god like that.

Would This Feel Like Heaven?

This is something I often wondered growing up as I did, raised by a very devout Christian widow who…well…let’s just say it was very important to her that her children would go to heaven.   Which is why to this day I have never told my mom I no longer believe, and haven’t believed in what is now three years or more.

If I were to imagine heaven, it would be a place where there are no tears, no sadness, no heartache, no despair, no disappointment, no discouragement, no worry, no regrets, no hunger, no thirst, no loneliness, no yearning for things to be different.  Heaven would be all the best things I could ever imagine, like all the most breathtaking natural beauty the earth could offer, only so much more, the colors so much brighter, the sounds so much sweeter.  The air would be like standing in a grove of lilac trees, or in the center of a greenhouse filled with roses.  All would be so glorious you’d want to stand there forever, drinking it in, content to stay still in that moment forever.

As a Christian I had friends who were not, family who were not.  And it bothered me.  Really really bothered me.  My dad’s cousin Evelyn died, and she was an atheist who told me once to my face she had never sinned.  Because she did not believe in sin–which in her view was a man-made invention that made religion necessary.  So when Evie died, I was very sad.  I didn’t want to think of Evie in hell.  It upset me to think of such a wonderful loving lady in such a horrible place.

I have heard it said that hell is not what the bible describes in a literal sense.  Hell is to be eternally separate from God.  Hell is to be able to gaze across a divide at all the joys of heaven, and not be able to go there, not be able to be among all those happy people, but to be stuck forever and ever in a place apart from God.   That’s what hell is.

Now if I were one of those lucky people who managed to make it into heaven, and I looked across and I could see–or even if I couldn’t see, but I just knew, I had friends or family like Evie, in some other place, and they were suffering.  If I knew that because of choices they made in their life as puny and ignorant mortals they were doomed to be punished forever, unforgiven, to a place of despair, of sadness, of pain, of separation, of never knowing the utter bliss I was getting to enjoy…  Would that be very nice for me?  Would I be in heaven?  Would heaven be a happy paradise for me, if I knew across the divide there were people I knew and cared for, suffering–and doomed by my God to suffer forever?  Would that be a happy thing for me?

The only way I would find Heaven a happy place for me under those circumstances, would be if God made my heart very hard so I wouldn’t care anymore.   So I would regard those friends I once cared for and family I cared for as deserving to languish in agony and despair forever.   They would be like my enemy and I would feel how right it was for them to suffer for eternity while I enjoyed happiness beyond my wildest dreams.

If I had to have my heart hardened for Heaven to be a happy place for me–for me to no longer care about people I once cared for now having to suffer, how much more brittle and hardened would God’s heart have to be, considering he supposedly is merciful and “love” is one of his names?   For him to be merciful and loving by nature, and yet able to condemn billions of souls to eternal torment and still go on his merry way being happy in his paradise despite all that suffering going on….wouldn’t he have to shut his ears and harden his heart and cease to be merciful and loving?

He would no longer be a loving God.  He would no longer be a merciful God.  He’d be a cruel and unforgiving God–by so enforcing an eternal horrible punishment upon mortal beings who did for whatever reason, not jump through the right hoops while they were living, and so now they must suffer forever.

It would be different if the rule book were crystal clear and not subject to this interpretation or that interpretation.  But the rule book is not clear.  There are verses in the bible that contradict other verses.  The bible says Thou Shalt not Kill and yet time and time again God kills, or orders his followers to kill.   There is a verse that says not by works are you saved, but it is a gift from god, and there’s another verse that says good works are just a part of what you must do to have eternal life.  There’s a verse that says you should make it known what good works you do, and another verse that says you should keep it secret, and not boast.

Which verses are the correct ones, and which are not?  Why are there cities placed in the wrong countries in the bible?  Why was there a census mentioned in the bible shortly after Jesus’ birth, but the year is off–there was no census at that time per actual history?

If God’s good news is so important, so critical that the punishment is so horrible indeed for those of us who don’t hear or hear but don’t believe…then why isn’t God’s word perfectly clear?  Wouldn’t God insist on it being absolutely clear?  Without flaw?  Without human tampering?    And if our salvation is so important to God, why does he not simply make his existence fact, rather than keep us all guessing?   In all the world there is not one scrap of non-biblical proof of the existence of God, or Jesus for that matter.   Now if God is real, and if his good news is real, and if our salvation is so important to him, so we don’t end up in hell suffering forever while he, God, is forced to shut his ears and turn his back and never forgive–why isn’t evidence of his existence or Jesus’ existence, as plentiful to find as the bones of dinosaurs are?  Why doesn’t God appear and end the doubting that will ultimately cost so many eternal life?  Or for that matter, why did God make Lucifer in the first place, or human beings so fallable as to be capable of sin and then place them right where he knew his imperfect angel was lying in wait?

Or if God doesn’t want to appear?  If our salvation isn’t worth him revealing himself, why not perform the impossible to prove miracles really do happen?  Like, allowing the amputee who has been praying really hard, to have his lost arm or leg grow back?  Or give the woman who had her eyes gouged out by the chimpanzee, new eyes–regrow them in her head?   If God can do anything, these things would not surpass his power–and would leave very little doubt that the supernatural exists.  And yet he doesn’t.

Anyway, I have digressed and I’m sorry.  My point is, even if I were still a Christian, and even if I did make it into this paradise Christians look forward to.  It wouldn’t be heaven to me because I would know my Aunt Evie was being punished in hell–and she was a really neat lady who does not deserve torment and pain for all eternity.  So heaven would become hell for me,  knowing Evie isn’t there and knowing there’s nothing I can do to appeal to this merciless deaf God to hear her cries of torment and forgive.

That wouldn’t be heaven for me, and that would not be a god I would even want to follow.

As a Woman, what Should I Be?

This is just me writing this time.  Nothing informative.  Just writing how I feel and how I’ve felt a very long time.  As long as I can remember.  It has to do with religion, and with society in general and how I was raised to think and how it has effected me as a person and how I feel it has effected other women too.  Based not on fact, but just what I’ve observed in my almost 50 years.

People have this idea that little kids are oblivious and ignorant of such things as human rights.  I guess as we get older we forget how it was to be young.  I still remember very well, and I suspect my experience is like anyone’s.  I was aware.  I had an opinion.  Things appealed to me or disgusted me or spoke to my heart then just as they do now.  I had perceptions, and a sense of fairness, of right and wrong.  In short, (literally) I was just a little person, as all children are.  When I’d hear adults refer to myself and my friends as “little ones,” ugh!  I hated that term!   I didn’t feel like a little one.  I didn’t feel like anything less.  Not then, and not now.  Because I’m not.  Nobody is.

I remember from a very young age being annoyed to the point of angry at the commercials we were bombarded with.  I was a tom boy when I was little…and I never completely lost my interest in playing in the dirt, as even as an adult I liked digging for fossils and splelunking and hauling up rocks or petrified wood or whatever treasure I could find.  But watching those commercials, what I could see of them through the often side-ways tilted or rolling black and white screen.  Women…raising their families. Women, making dinner.  Women, advertising mops and laundry soap.  Women using Windex, or irons or making cookies, cleaning house, or shopping.  Always made up and wearing dresses, perfect, wearing lipstick even in bed–never a hair out of place.  While men in those commercials washed cars, went camping, or fishing, or were shown building tents, lounging in hammocks, digging, climbing ladders, fishing, playing ball with their sons, working on cars.

Always in the TV shows I watched I would silently rage at the helpless females I’d see portrayed.  I liked the old campy Science Fiction shows back then, the old movies, and always whenever those rare moments would come that a woman would be needed in a scene, she’d faint, or stumble, or fall exhausted to the ground unable to go on, slowing down our heroes from the horrors pursuing them, just waiting to be rescued.  It was the most predictable thing.  I’d sit there and think okay, and now she’s going to fall down…and then she would.  I remember yelling at the TV, even as a small child, “run you guys!  Just LEAVE her!  Run!”

Recently I, out of curiosity, tried to watch some old “Lost In Space” reruns.  OMG…the mother and daughter Penny in that old show were next to useless.  They were only objects to protect…their job…to look astonished, or afraid, or confused, or helpless and vulnerable.  These were the kind of role models I had to grow up with.  If it wasn’t for Vasquez in ALIENS and Zena and Gabrielle in “Zena ,Warrior Princess…”

(I pause in silent homage to the pioneers that had the courage to write women that way–with grit, tenacity, strength–all the qualities I can admire!)

In my last blog some Muslim guy commented that that’s how men should be.  That’s their role and we women in Western cultures who get to actually live our lives and be (at least to some extent) more like what we were made to be, have forgotten this–the fact that some deity designed us to be soft, dependent, loving servants of men–be all those warm and fuzzy wholesome things while our great big sweaty bare-chested males thump their pectorals and lug home dinner to their adoring, families.

Oh please.   And yet it still exists.  Ever watch QVC?  Just watch and listen to the hosts when they’re selling what is traditionally something a MAN would want to buy, vrs. what traditionally a woman would want to buy.  If I called QVC during a presentation to sell a ladder, they might ask me if this was for my husband or my son or my father.  I would say no, you frickin idiot!  It’s for ME.

To be fair the opposite is just as true.  If a single man needed an iron and called QVC and got on the air, probably they’d ask him who the gift is for.

The point being, the programming continues on today.  It’s still apparent in our commercials, and in how we are treated.  I remember when I went to Cycle Barn the first time to look at buying a motorcycle.  The place was crowded with men or men with their sons and all the salesmen were busy.  It took over an hour of standing there looking interested before one of them thought to come over to me.

Happily so much has changed since I was young, since even when I was in my 20’s.    Happily now a young girl can dream big and actually have some possibility of obtaining her dream.  When I was little if I had said I wanted to be a fire fighter or a astronaut or President of the United States for that matter, it would have been a joke to any adult who heard me.  Oh, they’d say “good for you, Diane!” I’m sure.  But they know.  And they would no doubt think that as I grew older I’d put aside these childish dreams and discover a desire to hum as I work, dust as I walk, cook wonderful meals for my man and wait on him hand and foot, making sure a spotless house and well mannered children were there to greet him when he got home.

(Sound of Leave It To Beaver theme music.)

I think organized religion has made boxes and tried to tuck people away inside them.  Women, you go in this box.  It means you can’t be or have or experience anything that’s over here in this box, because this box is only for men.  And men, same goes for you.  Women can’t be masculine because then no man will want them and men, you can’t have feminine interests because that would make you a fairy…a gay…a homo…an undesirable by society.

In other words, anyone who dares to march to the beat of their own drummer…just better not if they want to be loved, accepted, appreciated, all those things we all want to be.

Well I never liked wearing dresses and my favorite color was blue and the only dolls I liked playing with as a child were my brother’s G.I. Joes…and all the cool helmets and fabric clothing and jeeps and guns that were their accessories.  As a child I liked catching snakes and tadpoles and frogs and I liked playing Capture the Flag and building forts with the few boys I found willing to play with me.  I liked to play rough.  I had no interest in jewelry or make up, and I scoffed at grade school girls who wore these things when being a kid was so much better.

Was I abnormal for a girl?  What would have happened to me had I been born and had to grow up in some of these Middle Eastern societies that have these ideas of what women should be vrs what men should be?  Could I have endured being denied the freedoms I saw my brother enjoying?  Hell no.  And if a book told me it was god’s wish for me because I was cursed by being born a female, I wouldn’t feel any love at all for such a god, and in fact I wouldn’t have followed such a deity. Ever!

I did follow the biblical god for over 30 years, because I had blinders on and I didn’t let myself see that the god in the bible is just as sexist, if not more so, than the god the Muslims worship that Christians like to point fingers at and criticize.  But now I see no difference between them, and in fact it seems if you just look at the Quran and the bible and not at the religions and how people interpret these books, it seems from what little I’ve read–the Quran is actually less harsh toward women than the bible is.
So that’s it.  Just felt like writing and saying WHATEVER.  I am glad I didn’t get born 20 years earlier than I did.  I’m glad I was born in the 60’s after all the hardest work was already done by the brave women before me who had the gumption to rail against being forced into boxes. I hope we never, as women, forget how hard our recent forebears had to fight to get the rights we enjoy today, and I hope we never give up fighting–that we never again believe in books written only by men telling us how we as women, ought to be.

Bigotry–Being Uncomfortable About Someone Different.

Bigot   “One fanatically devoted to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and intolerant of those who differ.”  Such is the definition of the word in my badly abused and taped together Webster’s II dictionary.

Pretty much we all know what a bigot is, or what bigotry looks like.  But I had a friend yesterday point out something to me–bigotry I am experiencing personally in my life, toward me.

When I think of a bigot I think of someone intolerant of someone of a different race, or religion or sexual preference.  People tend to shun, avoid, stereotype, etc., people who look or think or act differently.   Differences they don’t understand make people uncomfortable, and rather than feel uncomfortable which is often unpleasant, people try to avoid contact altogether with that person or persons, rather than try to understand, and in working to understand, learn tolerance or maybe even appreciation for what is different.

People who are depressed are different.  We don’t think the same, or react the same.  We behave irratically or are overly emotional sometimes.  We might blow things out of proportion, or just seem whiny or petulant or childish.  We might be high maintenance or act like drama queens.  We might be needy or fearful or paranoid or laugh at the wrong times, or cry at the wrong times.  Because depression is a chemical imbalance–it alters how efficiently our brain processes thoughts and feelings.

Meds do help.  Talking over our problems help.  But this is a physical illness, not a series of bad days or just not loving ourselves enough.   We can’t wave a magic wand and say ok I”m normal now.   Some people with depression have to battle it all their life.  For others it comes and goes–people have episodes.   Not everyone knows it when they have depression.  In fact sometimes the ill person is the very last to know.  All they might know is, it’s harder to get out of bed.  It’s harder to deal with social situations.  It’s harder to multi-task.  It’s harder to care about one’s appearance or eating healthy food, or going to the dentist twice a  year, or keeping the house clean.  It’s harder to smile.  It’s harder to look someone in the eye.  It’s harder to believe you are likable.  It’s harder to believe you have any worth.

Little things happen that add to this belief about self too, and the self esteem does, over time, slowly collapse.   The person perceives they are different–they perceive that others around them are being treated differently than they are.  They start to understand they are not someone people want to talk to, or be close to.  They are being avoided.  They are being shunned.  No one seems to like them.  What friends they did have, don’t want to deal with them anymore.  

All these things only add to the problem, create more unbearable hurt on a person already in pain.   This process of being avoided by others–being seen as different because your demeanor is not the same–isn’t this a form of bigotry?  The person with depression experiencing bigotry for making people uncomfortable because of being sick?

Bigotry hurts, in all it’s forms.  No one asks to be sick and everyone who is sick is trying very hard, every day, to feel better.  A society that shuns the ill because they make the healthy uncomfortable…all that does is make it harder to be ill, and harder to get better.   Depression is an illness and it’s one that’s unfortunately here to stay.  There are some really wonderful, loving people in the world that suffer from this illness.  People with good things to offer.  People with something to say and plenty of love to give.   By shunning anyone for being different, we are, as a society, not only making the hurt so much worse for the person or persons, we are cheating ourselves of the potential, the treasure that might be lurking just under the surface–if only we offered a hand instead of turning our backs.   In every garden a seed has the potential to grow or die–and that potential is up to the gardener.   Not all gardens are blessed with healthy soil.  Some seeds are sown in rocky soil, or sandy soil, where the ability to flourish is harder.  Do we give up on those gardens?  Pull those plants that have to struggle more to bloom, or let the weeds choke them to death?  Or do we give a little more work, a little more love–sprinkle on a little more fertilizer so that garden too might bloom and bring smiles to those who see it?

Our society is a garden.  We can help it grow or let it die.  Whatever we decide, starts with how we tend the flowers.

Not So Logical Testament…

Ever wonder why, in Christian bookstores, you can find so many versions of the New Testament by itself without the old?  Considering the importance of the story of Adam and Eve and the garden, which makes belief on Jesus Christ necessary, I find this odd.  Without this one event, the concept of original sin committed by childlike newly made humans of picking a piece of fruit that was forbidden, the entire structure of the Christian religion would fall.

I am no scientist or researcher.  I’m just someone with an average IQ trying to grasp the workings of this god.  But even I with my limited intellect can see something questionable in this creation story…a major contradiction… that the religion is founded upon.

God is all-knowing.  He can see the entire future and what is going to happen before it happens.   God is perfect.  This is what Christianity maintains.  He made humans  in his image.  That means the original humans would have been perfect too.  Or should have been.  Had God in his perfection set about to make a perfect creation.  But then he didn’t obviously.  Because a creation made in his image would be perfect.  Unless, that is, he failed?  Can God fail?   Or is everything he does, part of a master plan?

If God made humans in his image but didn’t do it right and they ended up flawed, corruptable, wouldn’t God have known it ahead of time that his creation was flawed and taken steps to correct the problem? If you are a sculptor making a figure out of clay and the arm falls off, wouldn’t you take the time to reattach the arm?  Or better yet start the sculpture over again so this time it has no defect, no weak point?

Clearly if God is all-knowing, he knew when he made humans that his creation had a weakness.  Not only did he know this, but he also knew ahead of time that humans would be tempted in the garden.  He would have to, because he is all-knowing and can see future events, yes?  So he would have known even before he made the earth or scattered stars across the sky that his creation mankind would fail him.  And since God cannot fail or make imperfection and/or mistakes we were made perfectly as he intended us to be–imperfect!   Human beings.  Perfectly (and purposely) made imperfect.

In the same way, God would have known when he made the angel Lucifer, that this angel was going to betray him, cause an uprising against him in heaven, and force God to cast him to the earth, thus creating his worst enemy and the cause of never-ending suffering on the earth.  And yet…God made Lucifer anyway, and, knowing ahead of time this angel would be flawed in his character, God could certainly have chosen to not make the angel at all, or perhaps remade Lucifer so he was as perfect as his other angels.  Because angels aren’t supposed to have free will like humans.   Therefore obviously it would be a flaw in that angel if it were capable of acting in defiance.   So twice now at least, God has made flawed creations.  Deliberately, because he’s all knowing.  First, by making Lucifer, who did have free will, (and then apparently other flawed angels who were capable of being turned to follow Lucifer).   And then of course with the creation of humankind, which God would have known ahead of time all the events that were about to happen.

He’d have known it when he made Lucifer, that this angel would fall, known it that Lucifer would become Satan and thus forcing God to make hell as a place separate from God for Satan and his followers to live.  God would have known ahead of time that Satan was lurking in Eden in the form of a serpent, would have known ahead of time that he put his flawed creation man in close proximity to this fallen angel and known ahead of time that the creation he had knowingly made flawed, would ultimately fail him.

If you were a ship-wright, and you made a little boat, and you decided to put a hole in its hull before placing it on a lake…would you be angry and surprised to return to the lake a few hours later and find the boat had sunk?   Would you become enraged at the boat, curse it, haul it out from the water and break it into pieces and burn it, blaming the boat for having the hole?

Essentially this is what God does in the Adam and Eve story.  He throws a tantrum when he “discovers” man and woman hiding their nakedness from him.  Yes, like he didn’t know ahead of time that man and woman would succumb to the temptation of Satan or didn’t know ahead of time that Satan whom he bungled the job of making correctly, would foil what I guess was his original plan (does God change his mind?) of having perfect immortal creations made in his image, in a garden to keep him company for all eternity?

Does any of this make sense?   So ok, another thing God knew ahead of time.  He knew because he had created human beings flawed, deliberately it seems, and Lucifer flawed, again, AWARE, and yet doing this anyway, that a gulf would be created between humans and himself.  And in fact from that moment forward humans would have to grovel and offer sacrifice and do everything in their power to make amends for the flaw that God had made in them, the flaw that God had made in Lucifer and in the angels who could defy God and follow Lucifer.  That’s alot of flaws for a perfect flawless being to create.  Which of course means they aren’t really flaws but part of God’s making that he did deliberately and knowingly.

So great.  Now he has outcasted flawed angels in this horrible place called hell because they did just as he had made them to do.  And we have a race of sentient beings who must forever give of their food, prosperity, time, energy, love…whatever…to appease this God’s wrath over the fact they too, did what he had designed them to do.

If you make a fire to burn and so it burns, would you then have a tantrum and punish it for burning?   Yet, isn’t that what God does with his creations he made flawed deliberately and so they acted as he made them to?  If you make a car with its steering wheel stuck all the way to the right so all it can do is drive in tight little circles…would you punish the car for having this flaw?   Why then does it make sense that this creator can make flawed creations, and being all-knowing as he is, being aware of the flaws as he makes these flawed creations, only to punish the flawed creation for doing just as he made them to?

A race of slaves, running to do God’s will for fear of being smited if they do not.   Giving to him in fire portions of their best crops and livestock, and all the humans after those first flawed creations inheriting that flaw, and having to do likewise…

All so God could send down his only son to be flogged, abused, and ultimately die for the fact we humans (and some of God’s own angels) were  made flawed by God, all to provide us a way to reconnect with God again and not have to make sacrifices anymore.  Christians call this a loving father.  What a role model for father’s everywhere, a superbeing who for generations planned and then oversees that it’s carried out– the murder of his own son.  All because…oh yes, that’s right, God knowingly made us flawed and therefore deserving of punishment, needing someone to die horribly so we are all washed clean in his blood.

Lovely image, that.  Isn’t it?   How odd it is that for this peaceful, loving God so often blood and pain and death are sang about and celebrated by Christians.

Did Jesus supposed sacrifice really free us of God’s judgement–God’s tyranny because certainly Satan never dreamed it up.  Free us of the horrible penalty we inherited from flawed primitives who made a mistake with a talking snake?  Christianity teaches we are born into sin.  We inherited original sin, Eve’s sin, and Adam’s, and our parent’s sin, and their parent’s sin, and their parent’s parent’s sin.  We are born corrupted and in need of fixing.  We are born flawed–more flawed creations God made deliberately, and the only way for us to avoid eternal torment in a horrible place called hell, is give over our lives to this God.   Oh, but we are given free will to choose!  And the choices?  Take a bullet in the head, or love me.  Jump into a vat of acid or love me.   Burn and suffer forever in endless torment, or love me.  How, may I ask, can this be called free will???

Why would i want to love or follow a God that deliberately and knowingly, made humans flawed and then blamed us, punished us ever since, for it?   Unlike every other living thing born on this earth, I am born broken until I beg God to make me whole again.

This is not in my view, the actions of a good and loving God.  I think if I were a very sadistic scientist in a lab and I wanted to, just for kicks, torment some rats, I’d do about the same things to them.  I’d genetically create rats with only three legs, not four.  I’d expect those rats to perform as well as or better than four-legged rats, and when they did not, I would punish them–throw them live, into a fire.  Then I’d make the offspring of those genetically engineered to be flawed rats, also born with three legs, to perish the same way, just for inheriting the desired flaw I made them to have.

These are just a few of the flaws I see in what really is the foundation of the Christian religion, a story that without it, there would be no need for Jesus Christ and belief in saviors, or for that matter a need to support churches, or spend our precious little time worshipping a bully who forced all this on us–put us in this position of dependency on him and his mercy, all on purpose apparently if he truly is all-knowing.  If God had made us correctly in the first place (and being perfect he should have been able to) and Lucifer, and those angels who followed him–we’d still be in the garden right now.  All this is according to his divine plan, Christians say.  Well then.  His divine plan was to make a flawed race of slaves and force us to surrender up our lives to him to keep from being damned forever for  having a flaw he gave us in the first place.

We Should Love Ourselves???

Funny how it always seems when I’m beating myself up the most, down in the dumps the most, letting other people’s opinions cut me up the most, that’s when a friend or friends will surely tell me that I need to try to love myself.  Other’s cannot love me until I love myself. That sort of thing.

And it makes sense.  Trouble is, for most of my life I have heard the opposite message preached at me by the Christian religion.  We need to loath ourselves with our from-the-womb sinful natures.  We need to put living for ourselves, our needs, our dreams, our hopes, on the back burner and live for God.  We are nothing more than his instruments.  Pawns at his disposal.  We should gladly and with much praising sacrifice ourself to this greater being who made us, do his work, live for him, dedicate our every waking moment to that which glorifies him.

When I was still living with my mom, I’d be in serious pain over something going badly in my life.  I’d turn to her for help, support, advice, solace, and what would she say to me again and again, “you’re not praying enough,” or “you need to take it to God.”   And you know what, I actually did take it to God because she was never there for me.  I prayed and poured my heart out to the empty room and the silent walls.  Sometimes I’d even talk out loud, work my problems through verbally, and the sometimes surprisingly clear responses I’d hear myself say back, I convinced myself that was God.  God, speaking with my voice.

The thing is, after awhile people get tired of hearing their own voice coming back.  After awhile there’s this very human need for more tangible love, tangible support.   I was getting mixed messages from the world vrs. from the church.   I must die in the flesh to live in the spirit.  I must be born a new creature in him, because my old nature was corrupt, sinful, ugly, bad, something like an abomination to God not fit to stand before him.

And yet…he made me.  He was my creator, and I’m not fit?  I’m corrupt and flawed from birth?  I need to jump through this hoop to be good in his eyes, to be beautiful?   Or else what?  I’m garbage to cast into the fires of hell?

Does God make garbage?  Why did he make me flawed?  If he forgives sin, then why was I born inheriting sin?  How can I love myself when my mother was passing the buck all the time telling me I needed to take it to God, pray about it?   How can I love myself when the being I did take it to, time and time again, only responded with my voice, with my thoughts, from my own head and my own heart?   All I was worth was my own self-counsel, and that’s what I gave myself growing up.  I had no adults I could go to.  I had no one except this higher power that never did anything.   Take it to God, people said.  Oh, and love yourself. 

The below is taken from an article I thought worth sharing.   It was written intended for men, but I found it helped me, reading it:

http://confidentman.net/self-esteem/recover-christian-upbringing

How to Recover from a Christian Upbringing

I grew up in a conservative Christian church-going family. During years of Sunday school, church services and various fellowship groups, I was fed a diet of deception which helped undermine my fragile self-esteem. My sensitivity and having emotionally disconnected parents who were in constant conflict didn’t help, and it’s difficult to judge exactly how much of the damage was due to religious indoctrination, and how much was simply due to the environment I grew up in. My parents could return from a church service where the minister preached on the theme of “Love”, and have a blazingly abusive argument. Throw in this level of hypocrisy, and you get a boy who grows up into one seriously confused adult.

Childhood religious teaching has a pervasive effect. For many years into adulthood I continued attending church before I wised up, and even became involved in the church leadership. At the time I believed I was doing the right thing; but looking back I can see how appallingly narrow-minded and naïve I was.

Realising that I had been misled was painful, and didn’t suddenly undo overnight the damage that had been done to my psyche over many years. So here are some tips on what I learned in my attempts to recover from a Christian upbringing:

Learn to Forgive Yourself

At the core of Christianity is the doctrine of salvation: we need a saviour because we are all inherently sinful. This resonates with us because of course we all make mistakes which hurt other people and feel guilty from time to time. We’re taught that we’re sinful and need Jesus’s death to atone for us, loading us up with a truckload of unnecessary guilt in the process. Little old me caused God’s only son to die, when I wasn’t even born. And if I don’t get “saved”, most brands of Christianity teach that we will burn for all eternity in hell.

What a load of baloney.

You are not a bad person. You are capable of forgiving yourself, apologising and making amends when you hurt other people. Let go of perfectionist guilt that triggers whenever you get anything wrong. You do not need to be perfect. Start acknowledging your mistakes, especially with the people who have been effected. Tell them that you’re sorry, and mean it. If you’re not, do some emotional healing work to enable yourself to feel more empathy for other people. Make amends when you feel guilty, and recognise when your guilt is out-of-proportion with you have actually done; that’s probably the old religious thing rearing its ugly head again. Deal with any remaining guilt and shame by telling a friend you trust.

Heal Your Shame

Shame is probably the most long-lasting after-effect of a religious upbringing. Taking on some level of shame while growing up is probably inevitable, but religious teaching broadens the scope and drives it much deeper. When you’re taught that there’s a God watching over your every move, you get to feel self-conscious even when you’re by yourself. Here are some perfectly normal masculine traits that I learned to be ashamed of:

  • Thinking for myself
  • Sexuality and wanting to have sex
  • Interest in Women
  • Being interested in and attracted to attractive women, rather than just plain ones
  • Masculine power
  • A thirst for wisdom and knowledge
  • Knowing the truth

The way to heal shame is by exposing the things you are ashamed of to other people who are willing to offer you love and acceptance in return. Start seeking out men and women in your life with whom you can be really honest about the things you have been shamed about that still control or restrict you from being your true self.

Shame is the biggest and most insidious insecurity we have, so this is the most powerful thing you can do to boost your self-confidence. For more on healing shame, see Step 13: Heal Your Shame in Confident Man.

Get Angry

You have every right to be angry with the people, possibly including your parents, who taught you to believe things that weren’t true before you were old enough and wise enough to discern the difference for yourself. The people who taught you these things were old enough to know better, and the fact that they operated out of fear and ignorance is no excuse.

The God of the Bible is a personification of human qualities projected by primitive people desperate for someone to be in control of the often hostile universe they found themselves living in. But you weren’t to know that when you were just a kid. You were probably taught that getting angry was bad and inappropriate, right about the same time that you were taught about this jealous, angry God of the Old Testament who got away with anything he liked.

You may still have trouble getting angry about this, and other things, because Christianity taught you to be subservient instead. If this is the case for you, see Step 16: Get In Touch With Your Anger in Confident Man.

Learn to Trust Yourself

If you were anything like me, you probably noticed that the God that you were being taught about when you were a kid never actually showed up. But some adult you trusted told you he was real, so you went along with it anyway. At times perhaps you had some unexpected emotional reaction that people encouraged you to interpret in spiritual terms, because they were unaware of how human emotions work and keen to find any evidence to validate their flaky beliefs.

In doing all this, you learned to stop trusting your own intuition that told you that the God they spoke of was every bit as real as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. After years of this kind of self-delusion, you may find it difficult to trust your intuition now. The way to restore your intuition is to assess people and events based on gut instinct, and refine your opinion each time you get information that confirms or denies your original opinion. Stop being neutral about things to avoid conflict, and start having an opinion.

You’re likely to be pretty bad at this to start with, but the more practise you get, the better your intuition will develop. It helps to have a supportive environment to do this, so that people don’t just come down on you like a ton of bricks when you get it wrong, which inevitably you will at first.

Experience Love From Non-Christians

The Bible teaches that love comes from God, but that’s just another example of Christian arrogance and self-righteousness. Love is a normal human emotion with an evolutionary basis just like our other emotions. Its purpose is to bond people together, which enhanced our ancestor’s survival. In modern western society, physical survival is for the most part no longer at stake due to lack of love, but mental and emotional health sure are.

Seek out non-Christians who have the capacity to show love to you, and give them every reason to do so. In other words, show them some love first. This will help you to reprogram two flawed beliefs: firstly, that non-Christians are somehow bad people for not accepting Jesus as lord and saviour, and secondly that only Christians are capable of genuine love. Once I began to experience the inclusive love of open-minded non-Christians, I was able to see how shallow, restrictive, judgemental and controlling the love that many Christians offer is.

Christians are also capable of showing genuine love; it is, after all, a basic human trait not restricted to any particular ideology. But when it comes packaged with a flawed belief system that they want you to adopt, it gets messy to separate the two.

Find A New Community

One of the compelling things about religion is the sense of community that all religions offer. People need community and religious people tend to report higher levels of happiness than non-religious people as a result. The sense of community and the ability to discriminate “us” from “them” addresses a basic human need.

Find yourself a community of like-minded people to hang around in. Seek out other men who had a Christian upbringing and have managed to break away and recover from it. Commit yourself to living the most inspired, conscious, loving life possible and don’t let baggage from your past get in your way of doing it. Learn from other men ahead of you on the road, and let them be your inspiration.

Choose any community which participates in regular activities that you can enjoy. Many people find community by joining a sporting team. That way you’ll get your social and exercise needs met all in the one hit, keeping you fit psychologically and physically; both of which are great for your confidence.

Learn to Trust Other People

Having been misled by misguided people about something so fundamental as the meaning and purpose of life and where we all came from, it’s natural that you might be a little hesitant to trust other people again. Learning to think for yourself and doing the other things recommended in this article should help give you a stable basis for discerning when people are telling you the truth, and when they’re feeding you self-serving dogma.

Ultimately you need to be comfortable taking risks when it comes to trusting other people. Some will be trustworthy, some will not. Developing your intuition will help you in discerning between the two. You also need to drop your perfectionism that makes it hard for you to forgive yourself when you get it wrong. As you get better at discerning who’s trustworthy, you’ll be more comfortable putting increasing amounts of trust in them without fear that you’ll just be fooled again.

Speak The Truth

Start speaking the truth at every opportunity. Don’t hold back just because you’re worried about what other people will think. There are other men out there waiting for your leadership to help free them from the tyranny of religious indoctrination. They need your inspiration but they won’t even hear from you if you don’t speak up.

Forget about converting the rest of your family though. They’ve got to learn to grow up in their own time. There’s too much emotional baggage within a family for anyone to be objective about anything; much less such an all-consuming topic as religion. There’s no point harping on at your mother/sister/brother/father that their belief system is made-up when they invite you to the Christmas Day church service. Just decline politely, move on, and prove the point that Christianity is an oppressive religion by taking your personal growth beyond what was possible within its narrow constraints. Commit to becoming a positive example by having the most powerfully loving life you possibly can now that you’re liberated from it.

Find Your Mission In Life

If your mission in life up until now has been to “preach the gospel”, to “serve God” or anything else based on your old religious beliefs, you need to find a new mission in life, and possibly some new passions. Your mission should be something sufficiently engrossing for you that nothing would stand in your way of working towards it. This is important to keep you motivated when life throws obstacles in your way. Without a mission, you’re likely to wander a little aimlessly, feel restless and think that life has no meaning.

Keep in mind that you’re biologically wired to want to connect with other people, so this is likely to factor in your mission somewhere. It has taken me some time to determine my new mission in life, and to begin working towards it in a focused way. It’s still a work in progress. Remember that life is all about the journey, not the destination. This may seem counter-intuitive if you grew up with the Christian notion that heaven and the after-life is when you reap the rewards of what you sow in this life. It’s not: this life is where you both sow and reap, and having a mission to guide you in the journey helps you stay focused and avoid taking detours.

Work towards aligning your mission, the things you are passionate about, your relationships and your career, and you’re headed for the good life.

Be Patient With Yourself

I was involved in Christianity for at least 32 years; about 20 of those professing it as my own. The damage this did was spread over many years. You don’t just undo 30+ years of mental programming over night. It takes time. So be patient with yourself. On the days when the shame seems overwhelming or you just feel like you hate yourself, remember that you were taught to feel these things when you were very young. Don’t beat yourself up for taking a long time to get over it. Stick at it, get support from other guys who have been there before, and you will get there.