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    •   "Hijack" is such an ugly word.  I prefer to think of it as "enhancing."
    • It also may be because of where I live. I live in a red state that is moderately conservative.   I also frequent a christian chat room in which people express strong opinions, so I guess most racist sentiments are expressed in secret.   It's that overlap that really concerns me. I wish more christians would speak out against it.
    • Hi SeaJay. I'm sorry to hear of these troubles that are consuming so much of your time. Although they do directly involve your christian beliefs most seem to be psychological as you point out and I'm so glad you are getting treatment. To the extent that some of your problems do revolve around christian teachings I think you have allowed your self to get sucked into christianitiy's preferred method of dealing with questions through circular reasoning. There is no point in hashing over items in the scriptures or even concerning yourself with hell unless you know that there is a high probability that the fundamental tenets of christianity are true. Is this the case? Have you looked and found archeological and historical data outside the bible that is significant enough to override the fantastical claims made in the bible? Please, if you have found anything at all that will pass the test of reasonable objectivity post it here for us as nothing of this nature has ever been presented on ExC and everyone will want to have a look.  You yourself say the simplest way to free yourself from the fear of hell is to convince yourself that christianity is not true. If it was made up by men hell becomes nothing more than a man made construct. While it is not possible to know what occurs following death (though nothing is a very very reasonable guess based of what we know of the requirements for brain function) it is well within our ability to decide whether men were responsible for the bible's contents or supernatural forces were involved. Does Yahweh seem to you to have human desires, emotions and thoughts or do you find something that appears super human? Are the mythological gods that came before Yahweh mostly similar or different?  Besides these considerations consider the extraordinary egotism (tribal egotism) that it takes to believe that christianity presents the true god and that every other religion is filled with deluded, spiritually deficit and unfortunate by birth followers to be dismissed out of hand, Every major religion has thousands who would be judged superior to you and I by any and every possible measure. As there are 1.6 billion muslims worldwide then of necessity hundreds and hundreds of those would possess IQs obtainable by only one in every million humans and the same for extraordinary sensitivity or empathy or logical reasoning abilities etc. Ask yourself honestly if you were born into a family identical to your own with a father and mother who thought and acted just like yours and siblings just like yours but in a muslim country and you were all in your family were raised muslim as were all your friends and relatives and every one of your political leaders and teachers and every solders you saw on TV, would you not have spent these countless hours you've spent scrutinizing the bible for god's truth scrutinizing the quran for god's truth? Wouldn't you have felt blessed to know the real true god allah avoiding the horrors of hell that awaited every christian who blasphemed the one true god allah by claming that the human prophet Jesus was also god? If you can see how unlikely it is that you could overcome the powerful influence of geography then it should be clear to you that no religion demonstrates a supernatural advantage. Everything appears the way you would expect it to if religions were man made and there were no outside influences. Only one human in 3 is christian today and it is predicted that islam will have the largest number of followers by the end of this century. Take a good close look at christianity from the outside and you may be able to free yourself from it's man made hell.    
    • Ahhh 2,000 years hence they will tell the story of the invisible pink unicorn that saves mankind.   Despite extensive scientific expeditions to Saturn turning up nothing the true believers will proclaim that the unicorn is from another dimension and that the world will soon end.
    • Does anyone know of good books, or other types of stories that could promote philosophical discussion (like movies, shows or story-rich video games) that could plant seeds of doubt to get someone to start questioning their religion?   I don't mean books like "The God Delusion" or "Why Religion is False" that are so obvious they'd make any believer refuse to crack the cover. I mean ones where the message is subtle enough that they'll read it, but will get them on that logical path.   For example, George Orwell's "1984," or any other story about totalitarian mind-control government, like "The Matrix." You could read/watch it together, start off a discussion about governments who brainwash their people, and  then transition into "But what if this applied to religion too?"
    •   Do you feel that it's helping? Hopefully understanding the evolution of the doctrine of hell is helping a good bit.  
    •   Thanks. That translation is different from what I'm used to. I just looked up a handful, and they vary on their implications. When I get a chance, I'll have to dig deeper and see what I find.
    • Hey y'all, thank you for responding. Sorry it took me so long to write back.   Faithfulless, what you said was especially spot-on. I write novels and also volunteer on an anti-abuse hotline because I identify with that drive to make an impact on the world. I guess it's common for that to go hand-in-hand with anxiety.   I hung out with my aunt last weekend. It was fun and cool and she didn't say a word about the dryer, probably because she doesn't give a shit about that conflict anymore.   My parents mailed me a children's Bible coloring book for my 25th birthday. Isn't that strange? I have no problem with gifts that aren't the best fit, and I was able to say thank you and be polite (like i would if it was a sweater I didn't like or something). But even being Christian, who sends a kid's coloring book to a 25 y-o-?? I haven't lived with them since 17 when I finished high school, and I've been financially independent since I landed my first job at graduation time. Definitely not a kid by any stretch. I like art, but a children's Bible coloring book? Does anyone else find that supremely weird? I'm not sure what to think it means.   Also, during a phone conversation with my dad, he asked if I'd found a church yet in my new city. I said "I'm going to a Unitarian church that I like a lot and have made great friends at," which is true (I'm not religious but I do believe in spirituality and a higher-power, just not Biblegod), and he just said "Find a good Baptist church" as if he didn't give a shit about what I'd just said. This kind of thing drives me fucking NUTS. I wish they would just accept that it's my life, and stop trying to force their religion down my throats.   Those examples aren't relevant to the anxiety, in that they don't make me feel anxious. They just make me feel annoyed. I'm very emotionally distant from my parents because of this type of stuff - I feel like they aren't genuinely interested in knowing me as a person, and instead just want to mold me into what they think I should be. I do have other family and friends who I feel like I can be myself around, though.