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Having a friend make headline news by becoming the embodiment of everything wrong in the world was not how I imagined my evening would begin. Scott Smith, one of the hosts of the Recovering From Religion podcast, top dog activist for Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF ), father of three, and all around good guy, turned a very dark corner earlier today. He shot and killed his wife and then took his own life just as police arrived. Three school age girls are going home to relatives instead of their own bedrooms and welcoming arms of their parents. The footsteps of mom and dad in the hall to tuck them in are now permanently relegated to memory and dreams. The loving smile of dad is now a porcelain veneer of menace boiling beneath.
Some might take offense to all this imagery, but the reality is whether mental illness was the primary cause or not (many say it was his losing to ptsd), he murdered his wife. He committed domestic violence. I feel that the constant woe of his ptsd being the cause removes some accountability from Scott's plate, and I am not going to have that. We can discuss this reality without eviscerating him. This was a man who was keenly aware of how ptsd affected him. His years in the military and then learning to live as a civilian activist out there to protect vets and bring further understanding to ptsd is important. He is not without his own weaknesses, and maybe the news of his wife's divorce pushed him to an edge he had never traversed before. This does not lessen or change the fact he committed domestic violence. He murdered his wife. He took an opportunity to control his life how he saw fit, and forced his soon to be ex-wife to follow. He even called the police and told them what he was doing. Once again, someone burned it all down because it wasn't going their way and they had to have absolute control.
Does it really need to be said for the millionth time that mental health is a huge issue that is still taking baby steps to become a mature discussion in this country? And right now is the time in our community of freethinkers to seriously evaluate this issue in our own ranks. We cannot always see or know what is going on behind closed doors in our friends' lives, but we can consistently promote a very personal avenue of communication to find these dark moments in our impulses and try to diffuse them before they become tragedy. We can be active participants in our local communities to demand better crisis services without stigma. We can educate our communities that staying in the hospital for mental health reasons is not a thing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Self-care must happen or we cannot take care of those we love. We will hurt them as we hurt ourselves. I have personally been to that dark edge and back, and luckily my family and I walked away intact. I didn't hide, but embraced help for once. But that was only after barely waking up from an intentional overdose because I couldn't process my guilt.
Some might look back and say Scott was a good man who had his own demons that got the better of him. Some might look back and say he was a bad man, letting this murder define his legacy. What we should be looking back on is how we can help prevent more of these types of violent episodes from occurring due to any number of reasons, simply by being present and demanding we all take care of ourselves through proper programs and resources instead of the way Scott did it in the end.
PTSD didn't kill his wife. He did. Let's prevent this from happening again.
Ah, life in the closet! Fodder for blog posts!
Sunday morning's sermon was called "Motivations for Holy Conduct." Sermons usually have 3 main points, and number three, which the most time was spent on, was "The Wrath of God."
This was pretty ironic, because I spend my time during the sermon reading in the Nook app on my phone. Right now I'm reading "The God Delusion," and I'm in chapter 7, "The 'Good' Book and the Changing Moral Zeitgeist". Part of the chapter deals with the wrath of this supposed god.
So while the preacher is droning on about how afraid we ought to be of going to Hell, and therefore motivated to do good, I'm reading a chapter that directly dismantles these arguments.
The wrath of Yahweh presented in the Bible has him bringing about natural disasters, or instructing the Jewish army to perpetrate war crimes (killing all men, women, and children, except for virgins, whom they could take home and rape), or punishing the wrong people -- Abraham passes Sarah off as his sister instead of his wife (twice), and the kings who take her into their harems are punished, rather than Abraham, who told the lie because he was afraid they'd kill him to take her if they knew she was his wife. Yahweh also gets really upset when Israel or Judah starts to follow one of his brothers, such as Baal. He'll wipe out a bunch of people just because he's jealous. It even says his name is "Jealous!"
Many modern theologians would protest that these stories are just metaphors for something. Of course, I'm in a fundamentalist church, so the preacher insists that these stories are real. Regardless, there's no moral lesson in these passages. The god depicted is capricious, unfair, and just plain evil.
The Old Testament in no way depicts modern morality, even though fundamentalists portray the book as being 100% consistent from beginning to end. This god of the Old Testament was ruthless and evil, and if he were real, we certainly would be afraid of his wrath, and on pins and needles because we would never know what little thing we do in ignorance might piss him off.
In the New Testament, we're supposedly forgiven because Jesus suffered in our place. The only thing is, "salvation" seems to be a sort-of light switch, constantly turning off and on. If I mess up, I'm headed for Hell until I repent. Not that anyone would directly say that, but it's implied in every sermon.
I suppose the most ironic thing about this "motivator for being holy" is that it's entirely fear based. God, in this picture, is an abuser. He's irrationally angry and will send you to eternal punishment ("where the worm dieth not") for really minor infractions, and for things that are considered sinful for no logical reason. It isn't a "works salvation," but it is. You can't earn salvation, but you have to try. You can be a really good person, do all of the things Yahweh insists upon, and still go to Hell because, well, works don't really count -- thought crimes will get you. Your church has an organ! Sorry, you're going to Hell! Oh, you thought you were saved before your were baptized? Sorry, your obedience doesn't count... off to Hell for you, too!
Illogical. But we aren't supposed to trust our own judgment, we're supposed to figure out what this inconsistent book is trying to tell us.
In Ron Reagan's FFRF ad, he concludes by saying "Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in Hell." When I first heard that I wasn't sure about its effectiveness, because to Christians this would sound arrogant. But the truth is that there's no reason to be afraid of burning in Hell. There's no reason to fear the wrath of a mythological being. In my imaginary conversations with Christians, I would ask them if they were afraid that Zeus would strike them with lightning. Their answer, of course, would be "no." Why? "Because Zeus isn't real." But aren't you afraid that he'll strike you with lightning for saying he isn't real? "Well, no, because he can't, because he isn't real!" Exactly! Yahweh can't send me to Hell because he isn't real. He can't get mad at me for saying he isn't real, because he isn't real! If you aren't afraid of Greek gods, you shouldn't be afraid of Hebrew gods, either.
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I recently hit my 30s and I've realised over the last couple years a couple things have happened. Firstly, as I keep getting older the X that marks the left simply keeps moving to the left of me and secondly, not only was the X moving to the left as I stood stationary, I myself am now moving to the right of my own accord. I'm not even that old, and I feel in general I am losing touch with what's current. It continues to be a weird transition for me; to move from the "happening crowd" to the lepers on the outskirts of society.
Right now I am at an interesting crossroads politically speaking. Political ideology is inherently selfish. When you're young, you tend to have nothing and policies that you give something for nothing sound very enticing. Yet, when you get older you now have something and those same policies you once liked now mean you get nothing, but something is now taken away from you. As an aside from that, I feel like as you get older your horizons tend to broaden. I know with myself personally that I once tarred all conservatives with the same brush. In essence, they're selfish, heartless and racist idiots.
Now that I've spent some time getting familiar with conservative talking points "straight from the horse's mouth" so to speak, this characterisation no longer seems fair. But (and this is a big but), I don't think those claims are completely baseless either. We all prefer to see the world as black and white, and as I get older I realise that this is just as true of me as it is others. It's easy to switch camps, it's harder to sit somewhere in the middle disagreeing with both about some points, and agreeing still on others. This is where I am currently sitting.
I guess if I were to summarise my current transition, it is to say that I've moved from a big "S" socialist to a small "s" socialist. Not earth shattering I know, but I am beginning to realise that not every government solution helps the people and that a paternal hand upon society can quickly turn into a yolk. For me I care most for looking after people and care for the economy insofar as it supports the goal of looking after people. Because of this I don't ever see myself becoming a libertarian or otherwise conservative due to this inherent focus of mine, but let's see where this goes.
In closing, this quote was something I came across during an interview the other day and I find it rather apt for how I feel about where I am at currently:Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; andany man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
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Shorthand version of my 2017 thus far:
-Passed my belt test for my 1st degree black in martial arts, and am working on the Okinawan Sai form.
-I'm working on changing my mindset for the better. This has involved some heavy time management and making time for things instead of just brooding with my thoughts.
-I'm lining up additional physical challenges to press myself to the limits in conditioning and endurance, in an effort to be better prepared for the 2nd degree test in a year and a half.
-My financial situation has greatly improved and stabilized.
-My time is now being devoted to the following, in order of importance:
1. Martial arts
3. Twitch streaming
Onto my new activity: Twitch streaming. For those of you that may not know about it, it is a streaming website of people who play video games. Through a good friend of mine who recommended I give it a shot, I started in May. I've had some mild success and am enjoying it. It is also helping me with the keeping my mind occupied thing. So, if you are interested in video games, comedy, general hanging out and chatting, (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG AHEAD) please give me a follow and stop in sometime at: https://www.twitch.tv/travilx
My streaming times are Monday, and Friday-Sunday, usually around 6pm EST. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later.
It is not required to sign up if you don't like (though I have made some good friends and they all stream great games). I'd enjoy the chance to hang out with you all while I play some games and sometimes fail spectacularly at them, I am also working toward an affiliate status (where I can earn royalties from streaming, and have greater streaming options and so forth), and I need to average 3 viewers for that. Right now, I'm 2.5. Soooooooo close!
But mainly, the twitch thing fills a social void for me. As someone who doesn't go out anymore, it is a means for me to hang out in the comfort of my own home and everyone else theirs, while we all chit chat, hang out, and just generally get some good laughs at my failures in gameplay, haha. Again, it is not required that you all do this - but it would be cool to hang out with like minded folks who enjoy video games, and fellow Ex-C'er's.
Thus concludes your yearly update on Travi. Thanks for reading everyone!
I've started to say this in the threads, but it's not enough, I want to dedicate a whole blog entry to it.
I've started to find it increasingly insulting that Christians seriously think we just never had any idea how to be Christian the right way. That we somehow expected God to be a miracle machine or expected everything always to be perfect and then left the church for utterly selfish reasons, such as giving in to the temptation to sin. Oh yeah, we totally abandoned eternity in heaven because we want to be promiscuous and then make up reasons to not believe the truth. No, what?
Really. That is SO insulting, it's revolting. I know I was extremely serious. I wanted God to guide my EACH AND EVERY STEP. I constantly prayed under my breath that he would. I worried that I would go wrong in "trying" to do something "by myself" when I wanted to be sure I had the blessing of Jesus in everything I did. I repeated and repeated in my thoughts, "Not my will but Yours". And I followed what I thought to be the voice of Jesus in my mind till my life was a complete wreck, and I woke up wanting to die right then.
Yes tell me again that I just didn't understand how simple it is to be a believer.
Yes tell me again that you would have known that the things I took for signs from God Himself were of the Devil.
Yes tell me again that we never know what is a blessing in disguise and that every difficulty is a test from God and I just simply failed it and I just need to apologize and come back to Jesus.
F*ck. I need to apologize? What the actual f*ck? That's like apologizing to someone who tried to murder me and I ran off at the last possible moment, and even then I nearly murdered myself.
God promises in the Bible that the old me dies and a new one is born. I wanted that to happen. I wanted all of the old me to die. I did not care one bit about most of worldly stuff. It scared me to begin with and I thought it was a sign that I was meant to walk with God.
I will not apologize for choosing life. I will not apologize for choosing life. I will not apologize for choosing LIFE.
I do not mean drinking, doing drugs, humping everything that moves, and taking taking taking from everything and everyone around me. If you dare to suggest that that's what I actually do mean by "life" without a god, I will be holding myself back from hitting you. Don't you f*cking dare to tell me that.
I also will not apologize for allowing myself to be angry over this. I've been much too nice all my life. I've not been able to defend myself because I thought I didn't deserve to do it, at most as a believer I thought Jesus would do it for me. The result? I am mentally very ill and need a lot of therapy, I need to learn to accept all of me, all the people I created in my head to stay alive, all the people I created to hide the emotions that I thought I wasn't allowed to have. Sadness is a sin. Anger is a sin. Just be pleasantly thankful in advance that Jesus will make everything right. Just be pleasantly thankful of your past that made you the unbelievably awesome weapon of God that you are now. Be pleasantly thankful of your past of years of bullying, illness in the family, breaking of sexual boundaries when much too young for anything sexual at all, loneliness, self-disgust, and that for some reason Jesus never did a single thing to help before a magical moment years later! NO I AM NOT THANKFUL. I also am not a survivor. I am trying to survive right now. Being alive does not mean I HAVE survived. These things still come to torture the people in my head and I need a lot more time and effort to actually heal. The day I don't get flashbacks anymore and the fear turns into just a memory, just a part in the story of my life, then I will say I have survived.
Yeah pray for us. Pray, pray, pray, pray. Come tell me that Jesus "forgives" us. Come tell me that we make Jesus cry and his wounds bleed. Come tell me that we crucify Christ over and over again by not accepting his sacrifice. Come tell me that I am forgiven for all the filthy sins that I have done. Come, come, come on, do that. Yes, do that.
Yunea - and also Nora, Meri, Cyan, Hate, Minttu, (takes deeeep breath) and some others who are too shy to give their names.
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I have studied many religions
I got many good excuses. why bad things happen
So, do other people
Why was i born handicapped? you know how many people have been god awful to me because of that
Why are children raped and killed
why is there evil?
here are the reasons i get and i think i can prove there stupidity
Why was i born handicapped?
1.adam and eve ate the fruit
Why is that my problem i was not there so, i gotta be deformed cause God was dumb enough to put a tree in the garden he did not want ate from
2. the devil did it
God let him deform me..why is that
3.your supposed to learn something
What are children being molested learning?
What am i supposed to learn?
4.past life fixing
i don't remeber any past life so how would i even fix it
5.to make your strong
reckon, that is the same reason. for kids starving to death?
not, much strenth there
The thing i really like about the child raping answer is ever answer is just horriific
last time i asked why God me this way i was told i should get surgery
Oh, what and ruin God's plan i should of said...
no no no
if we get deformed or even get cancer we should die not go to the doctor
cause its Gods plan right?
i mean God makes everything happen right?
FUCK YOU GOD
I am sick of you
if you exist your sorry ass is not worth my worship
Why do we got to worship you anyway
damn, you so full of yourself you make a whole world to make praise and worship your ass
oh, you give us free will. people say
oh. yea free will to believe or. burn in hell
Oh, what great love you have for us
give us a tree we cannot eat
roast us in hell if we don't grovel at your feet
and then you send your son to die on a cross
just to forgive us
what a loving God...
i get sick of giving excuses for
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My mother died last night. Looks like she collapsed at her bedside - probably a heart attack. She was found this morning by my brother in law.
And if one Christian acquaintance, just one, tries to tell me that my harmless old mother is now in hell, then there is a very real danger of extreme unpleasantness.
You need to be slaved, and I praze GAWD that the Spook of Kryasst who is also somehow magically Him has magically convinced you of that fact! Glory! Here’s how to get slaved! Let’s walk the Romans Road together, shall we? You’ll notice that all of the following verses are from the glorious Book of Romans, which is why our journey is said to be on the metaphorical Romans Road!
The first verse on the Romans Road to slavation is Romans 3:23, “For all have done shit that pisses Jesus off, and come short of the glory of Gawd.” We have all done shit that pisses Jesus off. We have all done things that are displeasing to the Holy Farter. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what the shit we do that pisses Him off looks like in our lives. The second Scripture on the Romans Road to slavation, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of doing shit that pisses Jesus off – “For the wages of doing shit that pisses Jesus off is death; but the magical gift of Gawd is a second magical eternal life after this one is over through Jesus Kryasst our Lord.” The punishment that we have earned for doing shit that pisses the Magic Sky Man off is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death! Without Jesus, not only will your physical body die, but your inner spook (the real you) will die too!
The third verse on the Romans road to slavation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off, “but the magical gift of Gawd is a second magical eternal life after this one is over through Jesus Kryasst our Lord.” Romans 5:8 declares, “But Gawd demonstrates how He made love to us from the Sky Kingdom, in that while we were still doing shit that pisses Him off, Kryasst sacrificed Himself to Himself for us.” Jesus Kryasst died for us! Jesus’ death magically paid the price to the Sky Him for doing shit that pisses Him off. Jesus’ magical undeadening proves that Gawd the Holy Farter accepted Jesus’ sacrifice to the Him up there in the Sky as the payment for doing shit that pisses Him off.
The fourth stop on the Romans road to slavation is Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lard, and believe in your heart that Gawd magically undeadened Him, you will be slaved.” Because of Jesus’ sacrifice to the Sky Him on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His sacrifice to the Sky Him as the payment for doing shit that pisses Him off – and we will be slaved! Romans 10:13 says it again, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lard will be slaved.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our having done shit that pisses Him off and rescue us from Himself and the loving flaming torture chamber. Slavation, the forgiveness of having done shit that pissed Him off, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Kryasst as their Lard and Slaver.
The final aspect of the Romans road to slavation is the results of slavation. Romans 5:1 has this glorious message, “Therefore, since we have been justified through magical thinking, we have peace with Gawd through our Lard Jesus Kryasst.” Through Jesus Kryasst we can have a magical relationship of peace with the Holy Sky Farter. Romans 8:1 teaches us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who participate in the Sky Magic™ of Kryasst Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ sacrifice to the Sky Him on our behalf, we will never be condemned for doing shit that pisses Him off. Finally, we have this previous promise of Gawd from Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither friendly spooks nor evil spooks, neither the present nor the future, nor any magical powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all the magical creation, will be able to separate us from the absurd love of Gawd that is in Kryasst Jesus our Lard.”
Would you like to follow the Romans road to slavation? If so, here is a simple prayer you can say. Saying this prayer is a way to declare to Gawd that you are relying on Jesus Kryasst for your slavation. The words themselves will not slave you. Only magical thinking and blind faith in the glorious bullshit about Jesus Kryasst can provide slavation! Say this prayer right now. The Magic Sky Man will hear you and He will slave you and seal your slavation with the version of Himself known as the Holy Spook! Glory!
O Magic Sky Farter, I know that I have broken your laws and the shit I have done that pisses you off has separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from that shit and stop doing shit that pisses you off. Please forgive me, and help me avoid pissing you off again. I believe that your son who is also somehow magically you, Jesus Kryasst, died for the shit I did that pissed you off, was magically undeadened, is alive and living in the sky, and hears me talking to myself. I invite Jesus to become the Lard of my life, to rule and reign in my farts from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spook to magically help me do shit that pleases You, and to do Your kind of shit for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I talk to myself, Amen. Glory!
Congratulations! You just got slaved! Now, don’t let the Talking Snake take away your joy! He’ll try to tell you that your slavation isn’t real, that it’s just an emotional thing or that the Gospel, the glorious bullshit about Kryasst, is actually bullshit, but don’t believe him! You’ve put your trust in Kryasst! Rejoice at your victory over the Talking Snake! That talking animal no longer rules your life! Your new Lard is Kryasst, the Magic Sky Man! Glory to GAWD!!
It’s important to share your newfound blind faith with someone right away so that Gawd knows you are serious about your decision to get slaved and start living not for yourself or for the Talking Snake, but for HIM, your new Invisible Friend up there in the Sky! Please let me know about your Sky Decision for Kryasst and I’ll rejoice and glory with you in your slavation! I praze GAWD for magically leading you to this site and this very page you are reading so that you could hear the Gospel and get slaved! GLORY!!
*This is an edited and expanded version of my "Free Hate Speech" topic, which is why they're similar in parts. I'm going to post it on my regular blog, not affiliated with Ex-C. Your comments are appreciated!
**Much thanks to RealityCheck for editing suggestions.
As concern for the humane treatment of LGBT individuals grows in modern Western society, freedom of speech and expression are often perceived to conflict with sensitivity toward this group of people. On June 12, the deadliest mass shooting in American history took 49 lives and wounded 53 other victims in a gay bar, yet has opened the door to a discussion about the appropriate response to people who celebrate national tragedies. Pastor Steven L. Anderson posted a video to YouTube saying that it least it was "sodomites" and "pedophiles" who died. He said that he does not support civilian killing of gay people because it is against the law, but that they should be executed by the government "through the proper channels." YouTube has removed Anderson's video for violating its policy against hate speech.
Here is YouTube's "Hate Speech" policy: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801964?hl=en&ref_topic=2803176 Notice that it claims YouTube supports freedom of speech, including generally disliked opinions, but immediately states that "hate speech" is not allowed. The Constitution prohibits the government from restricting freedom of speech, except when that speech directly threatens others or poses a threat to their safety, i.e., is a "clear and present danger." Legally, YouTube is entitled to make and enforce its own policies, but by removing videos based on their ideas, it violates the principle of allowing freedom of expression. Preaching the murder of gay people was once acceptable in American culture, while advocating for sexual equality was seen as disgraceful. Attacking words, not actions, sets a precedent for prosecuting thought crimes and whatever we subjectively find harmful.
The argument can be made that Anderson poses a danger by supporting violence against gays, that homophobic people may be incited by his vitriolic comments to begin carrying out murders as the Orlando shooter did. It is true that this may happen, but nevertheless, Anderson is not responsible for others' actions, and idly claiming that certain people should be killed is not equivalent to actively planning and executing the killings.
Prejudice doesn't need censorship to be brought down; in a rational society, a bigot will be reduced to a small, sad pile of bitterness when the majority of people agree that his opinion doesn't merit consideration. The Westboro Baptist Church is a prime example: When they protested American soldiers' funerals and shouted their signature line, "God hates fags," they advertised themselves as hateful and made their name synonymous with everything that decent people despise. By deleting Anderson's video, YouTube is protecting him from himself.
Despite its malevolent origin, intolerance serves as a warning. When we know which people want to harm us, we know who is dangerous. We need to stay alert to what is happening around us, not shut our eyes and plug our ears and then wonder what went wrong when people end up dead. If we squander every chance to prepare ourselves for an attack, we will be to blame when we never saw it coming.
Silencing Anderson will not make him stop having his opinion. It won't change the minds of people who think like he does or of people who actually plan to kill gays. But it will make him and others feel they are being persecuted, cause them to become even more determined to hang on to their bigoted beliefs, and feed on each other's sense of victimization. Furthermore, trying to destroy expression of an opinion shows fear of that person's belief. Are we going to respond to evil people by not only making them unite, but by showing them we fear them? That is how people like Anderson and the Orlando shooter gain control.
But the fundamental reason not to deny an individual's right to expression is that it undermines the freedom that is central to our society. When someone shows meanness, rather than muzzling him, we should respond with the opposite of his actions. Donate blood, volunteer at a shelter for gay homeless children, even write a letter to Steven Anderson expressing hope that he changes his mind, rather than returning the contempt that he spews. For a nation that values each person's autonomy, the only response to liberty being taken away is to liberate others.
In the aftermath of one of America's worst terror attacks, constraint is an ally of violence. We need to have faith that compassion, not censorship, can beat hatred.
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Tonight I feel pretty alone, in one sense. I love my wife and she loves me, we have an extremely close relationship and we get along very well. But I am saddened that we are on different pages about religion. she listens to a lot of radio preachers almost every day. They speak of stuff that I just don't believe in any more, and I'm never going back. My eyes have been opened and I can't accept all that religious nonsense any more.
I still go to church with her, and I am friendly with the people at church, but there is this whole realm of exciting stuff that I can't talk about to most people about. For instance, I just listened to this video today:
I found it very interesting and would love to discuss it with the people at church, but it challenges the "inerrancy" history of the Bible. It would just distress them.
Job hunting in the "real world" is way different than job hunting as a pastor.
From my first ministry at my home church to my last ministry, I have had six ministry positions. I believe that besides one of them, I was the first choice in each church search.
When you are looking for a ministry position, you usually start with sending your resume and perhaps a cover letter. Then, if the church likes what they see, usually either the senior minister or the head elder will call and do an introductory interview. Then if that works out, they will most likely bring you to the church. And then you will have some kind of another interview with staff or perhaps the leadership team, and then depending on what position you are applying for, you may have to lead worship for a Sunday morning, or teach and get to know students (those were the two positions I was a minister of: worship and students). Then there is usually a pretty long wait as the leadership talk about you, seemingly for months. And then they'll offer you the position and you move and start getting settled in.
It's totally different in the real world.
First, when you send in your resume and your cover letter, there's pretty much a guarantee that about 75 percent of the jobs you apply for will not even contact you back.
The cover letter is pretty tricky for a minister. How do you translate your experience as a pastor into experience in the business world?
I remember when I came back to the midwest after a brief stint in my home state, I applied for some position and the guy interviewing me told me that he went to church and so he framed the questions in such a way that I could answer them in the correct fashion but using my experience.
That was the only one.
When I decided to step away from ministry, I first started looking at non-profits. I wanted to stay in the area for my family, so I wasn't really looking anywhere else besides within an hour driving distance. There was one I was really interested in, and I thought I got it, but I got second place. Whomp whomp.
After rejection email after rejection email and scam after scam (you know, those that claim to be marketing positions or whatever and then you interview and you find out it's a pyramid scheme), I decided to apply for a part-time position working third shift at a grocery store (so I could also focus on getting a full-time career type job). Which I have. I have been working for three weeks, and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. The pay isn't great, but I listen to music and make sure the shelves in my department look good. Not really what I was doing a year ago, but at least it was helping out a little financially.
And then I also applied for a full-time post office position, and apparently I got that job (still waiting to hear from HR). So on one hand, I'm relieved because it looks like for now that my job search has ended. What a stressful time, you know? But on the other hand, what I'm doing is so different from what I have done for twenty odd years.
But I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about it. For one, I can do my work and when I clock out, I don't have to think about that job at all. I can focus on other things.
(Although now when I go to any store and I see a cluttered or messy shelf, it takes everything within me to not organize it.)
Secondly, I just follow orders. I follow rules. I don't have to come up with things, I don't have to lead other people (although I may eventually), I can just be me really. There's a freedom. Even though I'm not certainly not making as much, I don't have to worry about the church world anymore.
I've also had more conversations with regular people than I have in a really long time. But that's for another blog post. For now, let me end with the fact that ministers really don't understand for the most part how the real world works and I think for every single one, if they decide to leave ministry and do something else, there is a steep learning curve. I think my curve is over. Although I haven't started my full-time job and the lady interviewing me didn't really sell me on it (neither did other people who work or worked for the USPS). But I have a feeling I will be just fine.
Debunking Christianity is an interesting thing to attempt to do. On one hand, it's kind of easy because there is so much information out there. If there were only a few discrepancies contained in the Bible, or a few inconsistencies, it would take some time to dig them out. But that's not the case. The Bible is filled with errors. On the other hand, it's difficult because as I continue to research and see for myself some of these discrepancies, I find myself having to stop and reflect. This is due to a couple of reasons:
1. Some of what I'm researching and learning are things I really should have known. I was involved in a program when I was in high school, where we learned whole books of the Bible and quizzed over them. I have memorized tons of Scripture. You would think that in doing so I would have caught on to some of the differences between the Gospels, for example. But most of this stuff I had no idea.
2. As I look through this information, I wonder why this stuff wasn't taught in college, and why we gloss over the inconsistencies and errors when we preach and teach the Bible. I can only think of it in two ways: either, like me, church leaders just don't know that the things we preach about are coming from passages and books of the Bible that are not accurate; or most leaders, preachers and professors are willfully deceiving people. After all, if word gets out that there is no way that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, people are going to panic and freak out and lose their faith. Which means those who are in powerful positions in churches will lose power and prestige. And there won't be anyone around to pay for their salaries.
It's kind of like how I see Mormonism. I have studied this cult rather extensively. If you research the history of how Mormonism started; if you look at the life of its founder, Joseph Smith; and if you actually discover what they truly believe, you find out that what the people in the pews know about Mormonism, and what the overall leaders know about Mormonism, are completely different. When I talk to the average Mormon, what they say they believe sounds very similar to what I would have considered as Christianity. Except for the polygamy and not having caffeine, minor issues. But when you find out that their "god" was on another planet, and that there are millions of gods, and that we were all spirit babies born on earth, and that our goal is to populate our own planet with other spirit babies - well, it starts to sound like horseshit, doesn't it?
Anyway, today I want to briefly look at the New Testament. In fact, I think that most of this blog will be directed at the NT, although I may reference the Old Testament and if I continue on down the road, perhaps there will be time to do the OT as well.
Ready for some shocking information? Ok, here we start.
The New Testament contains 27 different books. The first four books are what we call the Gospels, or "good news" about Jesus. These were allegedly written by two disciples (Matthew and John), a friend of Peter (Mark), and a traveling companion of Paul (Luke). The next book tells the story about the disciples after Jesus left earth, and it's called the Acts of the Apostles (or Acts for short). Then you have a bunch of collected letters. Most of them are claimed to be written by the apostle Paul, who was not an original disciple of Jesus but became an apostle after Jesus left the earth through a vision on the road to Damascus. Some of these letters are written to churches, some are written to friends. You also have letters supposedly written by the apostle Peter, by James the brother of Jesus, by Jude, also the brother of Jesus, and by someone named John. At the end of the NT is the book of Revelation, also written by someone named John, which is a letter to churches in Asia Minor and deals mostly with persecution and although some people would say differently, was supposed to encourage the Christians of that day that God wins in the end. (As opposed to those who pore over this book and apply modern technology to the things that John was writing about to show that the world is ending soon.)
Ready for the shocker? Out of the 27 books in the NT, there are only 8 of them that most biblical scholars believe were actually written by either who the book said within who it was written by, or who other people ascribe the authorship to. That's less than a third of them! Here are the books that except for some fringe scholars, the consensus is that they were written by the actual authors:
1 Corinthians (Paul)
2 Corinthians (Paul)
1 Thessalonians (Paul)
Revelation (John, although some question if it was John the brother of James)
This means that most scholars would say that none of the gospels were written by those who they are ascribed to.
This means that some of these books were written later than what was thought and by people who claimed to be the author but weren't.
I don't know about you, but the implications are HUGE. Those who would rather shut their brain off might not necessarily be affected by this news, because they might think (or feel) that it doesn't matter that these books weren't written by the people they thought they were written by; they still had a lot of good things to say.
However, I can't accept that. I hope you can't either. There are major implications that you just have to start sorting through. Things like:
- how can we trust that we have anything correct when it comes to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, since the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses to these events, nor even friends of eyewitnesses?
- how can we apply some of the theology and orthopraxy contained within the letters of the NT, when most of them are written by unknown sources, and who definitely had other agendas besides "writing down what God said to them."
- how can we continue to ignore the differences in gospel accounts when we now have good reasons to understand why they are so different?
- how can one accept the entire Bible, or even just the entire NT, as the "Word of God?" Should we do what Thomas Jefferson did (although he did his with cutting out anything that talked about miraculous events in the gospels) and only pay attention to the books of the NT that we mostly know were written by the right people at the time they said they did?
We have a lot to go through, my friend. Let me close this blog post with something from Bart Ehrman. Although I am using research from many different sources, I like Ehrman a lot because he writes in a way that is easy to understand, and although he is an agnostic, he was a Christian for most of his life and is at least sympathetic towards the Bible and Christians in general. He says that the nineteen books that aren't written by the authors ascribed to them fall under three groups:
1. Misattributed writings
These are the books of the New Testament that tradition has said were written by an author that clearly did not write it. An example would be the book of Hebrews. There is unsurmountable evidence that even though Paul has been associated as the author of this book, there is no way he was the one who wrote it. Because within Hebrews itself there is no reference to the author, Paul was misattributed as the author.
2. Homonymous writings
This just means that the author of a certain book of the New Testament has the same name as someone who we would normally think of as the author. For example, James was a very common name back in those times; therefore a man named James could have written the book, however most scholars believe it was not the James who was Jesus' brother and a leader in the church of Jerusalem.
3. Pseudepigraphic writings
This means that some of the books of the New Testament were written in the names of people who didn't write them. Basically, these books are forgeries.
In my next blog post, I will talk about Ehrman's ten reasons as to why ancient writers would produce forgeries and then we will start getting into specific authorship of the questioned books of the New Testament.
At the coaxing of friends and my fiancé, I’ve begun watching the hit series Game of Thrones. It’s intriguing, fascinating, complex and deliciously reckless. Essentially, the plots are all intertwined culminating around families who are all striving to be kings and queens of various territories. It’s magnificently written and brilliantly acted, which could be why it’s so popular across all age groups. But, what exactly is it about this series that has captured so many people’s attention for the past five years since it first aired?
As I sat last night, watching season two come to a close, it dawned on me that perhaps in the west, we just don’t have a sense of what it means to honor much of anything, anymore. We have passion and drive, but not the type of passion and drive our ancestors had many moons ago, when fighting for their freedoms, or the right to vote because it was so paramount to their very existence. It would seem that what we fight about these days, deals with political correctness and trying not of offend someone. I can’t imagine waking each day, having to pledge an allegiance to a particular king or queen, or I’d be liable for treason and potentially put to death. I can’t imagine having to marry a man I barely know, as to carry on my family’s good name and reputation. I can’t imagine having such little freedom as a woman, centuries ago, and most likely I would have been beaten and tossed aside like garbage, if I didn’t perform my wifely ‘duties.’ Yes, we still have everyday struggles, but not those kinds of struggles, thankfully.
Despite the violence, cruelty and disregard for human life that is illustrated throughout Game of Thrones, it has captivated us for some reason. What reason is that? I’m thinking it’s because the characters of this series didn’t live entitled lives. They had to fight for what they had, and even if they were given a kingdom passed down from generation to generation, they still found themselves having to defend it. It wasn’t like today, where we elect Presidents, and they remain in power for four years at a time. There weren’t ‘terms’ back then, rather anyone could overthrow the king, and take the kingdom as his own, if he had enough strength, and a powerful enough army backing him.
So, would you die to defend your honor? To defend your family’s honor? To defend your siblings, or your significant other? What is honor and is it worth fighting for, in and of itself? Would you protect your family at all costs, even if it meant hurting those outside of your family?
These are questions I find myself asking as I watch the various characters come and go from the series, and I’m only on season three! Lol It is by far, one of the most riveting series I’ve ever watched, and for me at least, it enthralls me because my life looks nothing like it. And yet, the characters all struggle with the very same things we do, today – family strife, gossip, slander, libel, war, famine, depression, feeling unwanted, power struggles, politics, and so on. The only difference, today… we don’t carry swords, but instead…carry guns. Each character is complicated, and as the story unfolds, you realize that for some of them, their ruthlessness makes sense. Not excusable, but makes sense. Humankind hasn’t changed much over the centuries, we are still quite selfish and self-seeking, and this show depicts a raw savage nature that seems to exist in all of us, perhaps. The desire to survive, and for some, at all costs.
April 24th begins season 6 and I’m on season three, now. The plot thickens as the feuds continue, secrets mount, promises get broken, and new alliances form. Not unlike the world in which we live today…well, just without the White Walkers.
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What is Ignosticism? Well as it turns out that's a mildly ironic question.
So there's Atheism, which is non-belief and/or positive reinforcement of the proposition that there is no deity/ies.
Then there's Agnosticism, which is certainty that there is no evidence for or against deity/ies, with two common variants being a strong and weak Agnosticism, where weak believes there may be evidence for one or the other at some point, and strong Agnosticism being certain in uncertainty of the deity question.
Theism is then the belief in deity/ies.
And so there seems to be a general understanding that the god question is itself valid and mutually understood and that therefore under these terms and conditions, a genuine debate on the merits of one view or another is possible.
Ignosticism says no, not quite. With the word/s "deity/ies" there is an accepted definition attached to such term. This term is then used in the questioning of the belief in the god/s proposition. But is this term truly understood in the capacity it must be understood in so as to allow the debate on the merit of belief in the existence of the being the term defines? Or is this term fraught with such failures and misunderstandings and the impossibility of even basic definition that a meaningful debate is therefore impossible, and therefore any proposition concerning deity/ies also equally fallacious?
Ignostics would answer, the term god is difficult. Let's begin by looking at how Merriam-Webster defines it...
God : the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe
: a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people : one of various spirits or beings worshipped in some religions
: a person and especially a man who is greatly loved or admired
Okay now let's look at the first definition of the term "God." It consists of perfection and being all-powerful, and as a creator of the material reality we by definition all agree to recognize as such.
Perfection is a tricky term altogether as well.
Full Definition of perfection
: the quality or state of being perfect: as
a : freedom from fault or defect : flawlessness
b : maturity
c : the quality or state of being saintly
a : an exemplification of supreme excellence
b : an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence
: the act or process of perfecting
Which perfection are we talking about? This gets even more tricky when you look at all-powerful...
Full Definition of almighty
often capitalized : having absolute power over all <Almighty God>
a : relatively unlimited in power <an almighty board of directors>
b : having or regarded as having great power or importance <the almighty dollar>
: mighty —used as an intensive <an almighty shock>
Once again, which definition will we be using, and why?
Full Definition of creator
: one that creates usually by bringing something new or original into being; especially capitalized : god 1
Okay. Now we're getting somewhere. But let's assume by the first (and not only) definition of "god." If perfection is inherent, then we need a more precise definition of perfection. What makes something perfect? (This is a debate you'd have to have with Aristotle and Plato)
And if this being (is it a being, or is it something else entirely?) is perfect, and all powerful, then what restrains it's almighty powers from creating or maintaining perfection or saintliness? And the material reality that is the core of the assumption also needs examination. There is a whole academic debate between Idealists and Materialists that have gone on for eons. But let's assume the more Materialist perspective and assume Natural Laws govern reality and that this reality is both material and immanent. Then how can a perfect being spawn something new, an aberration, if it is already perfect. Was it not a perfect being before reality came into being? And if it maintains almighty powers then would it not necessitate a perfect world? If not is the being perfect? If it restrains its powers then how can it be perfectly powerful?
See what Ignostics are saying? It is almost pointless to even have a debate on the deity/ies question because the terms used to frame it are problematic, and by their very nature and the philosophies surrounding it all, always will be. Even theologians have difficulty with the terms and definitions and usage.
Ignosticism isn't belief or nonbelief or uncertainty of belief. It is certainty in the inability of language to convey the proper terms necessary to even have the question and the debate resulting from said question.
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I finally figured out how blog posts work, so I guess I'll start it off with an introspective post about my past year.
2014 was really hopeless for me, I had to drop out of school completely and was pushing towards saving up so I could move out of my parents house. I'm not out to my parents, and I don't mean religiously, they know about that. I mean actually out to them as a gay guy. It was a really, really stressful time for me. I wanted to be able to figure things out for myself more but was so afraid to push it because I was worried they would find out if I was too obvious. My dad is getting more southern by the day, and honestly I am terrified of every coming out to him.
By the beginning of 2015 I was in a decent job, and all I did was work. For the first half of the year all I did was wash dogs, muck out kennels and deal with my super temperamental boss. I wasn't planning on moving until December, but in January I realized how depressed I was getting.
I'd always told myself I would go back to therapy if I was suicidal. I didn't this year, we had too little money and the only ones around were the religious ones I had seen previously. When I was on campus, I had been seeing a therapist who worked there. It was free, and he was also the head of the LGBT department. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have solidified a lot of stuff about my gender and sexuality. But I wasn't allowed to see him anymore once I left school. I ended up just throwing myself into my work even more to cope, and hung on to moving in August or July as desperately as I could.
I finally planned on moving as early in July as I could so I could find a job by August (I moved to a college town, and that's when all the students would be back by). I put off telling my dad as long as I could, because he didn't want me to move in with the people I moved in with. Which hurt, a lot. They weren't terrible people, I've known them for years. But my friend is a lesbian and her brother is a single guy, both of which my parents were 100% not down with me moving in with. My dad told me my parents wouldn't be supporting me at all, which I had already figured and was the main reason I was saving so aggressively.
It wasn't until the week before I moved that my mom told me (casually in conversation as though we'd already talked about it) that it also meant my family wouldn't be visiting me. As much grief as my family has caused me, I still love them dearly. Especially my siblings. It tore me apart and I cried the whole morning while I worked. I hadn't even been able to discuss it with my mom because when she dropped me off at work she had started crying about me moving and I'd had to comfort her.
That was really the final nail in the coffin for my good relationship with my family. We've spent the rest of the year trying to fix it, but it's still a patchwork and will never be what it was.
When I finally moved, it was such a relief. I got a job about a month after I landed and I've had it since then. It's slow sometimes and I don't get all the hours I need, but I've been able to improve as an artist enough to help out some during those times. I love my friends, and I love my apartment, and I honestly love my job.
I have plans to start beauty school, which aren't going exactly to plan, but I'm still getting there.
2015 was exhausting. I don't think I've ever worked that hard in my life. I've cried so much over the last year, but I'm finally somewhere I'm happy. I even got to see an old friend at the end of the year, and just had to say goodbye today. 2015 was very, very full and painful. But it got me so many good places by the end. I intend on working just as hard in 2016. I'm starting school, working towards something that I want more than anything I've ever wanted, and I might even have chances to feature my art publicly. I'm sure I'll cry a lot more this year, but I cry about everything. I'm really looking forward to where things will go.
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2015 was an interesting year, chalked full of rich lessons, memories, and life changing moments for me. I am pretty surprised at the large amount of things happening in the short time span of 1 year. This is definitely not a year I will forget.
One main thing I learned was putting self-care as my top priority. I tend to worry what others think or I lean towards people pleasing, due to my past conditioning. But this year especially...I have truly learned the value of caring for myself. I fell face-first into moments where I wasn't practicing good self care, neglecting my own needs in favor of others...and there were moments where I took ownership as the Queen of my Life, nurturing myself like a mother would for her child. I have to be caring for myself at all times. What is right for me might not be right to other people, but that's their opinion and it's their choice to have it. I don't need to let it effect me.
I learned the value and importance of being aware of the present moment, and how practicing mindfulness skills can drastically improve moments of stress/anxiety. Taking a moment to stop, and observe your surroundings, or to take in the scent in the air, or to listen to the wind blowing the tree branches, etc...just being aware of the present moment, can bring peace and clarity of mind.
So many other things I learned this year..I'll list them
- Not jumping into a relationship with high expectations
- Having a plan B in case a current situation falls through
- Giving myself credit for how strong I am and how far I've come
- Embracing who I am, and loving myself, inside and out
- Accepting the fact that the healing process takes time, and I must take advantage of tough times to grow from them, and come out a stronger person.
- Coming to acceptance of every element of my life, including the unpleasant ones.
- Seeing each day as a celebration of life, another chance to enjoy it somehow.
- The art of acceptance in general...not trying to fight away the things I can't change
- Not settling with people or situations that cause me to feel like I'm less
- Taking a risk for my own happiness
- Being ok with it when I make mistakes, or take a couple steps backwards, or mess up.
- Patience. Kind of ties in with #5
Self care was still the top one I learned. I already knew this...but this year it hit me like a baseball bat the seriously heavy value of caring for myself. The issues I struggle with, they all kind of tie in together...I'm a perfectionist, sometimes I get defensive when someone tells me I've done something wrong (even if I know theyre just trying to help, it's my habitual reaction), I worry what others will think or are thinking of me, I want to please people, I avoid confrontation at all costs until it's no longer a choice, generalized anxiety..etc. It all ties in with caring too much for other people, and not enough for myself. I need to establish a more level balance, which is one of my goals for this year.
I want to get my liscense and car this year, and I've found a couple people who offered to help me practice (once the weather quits being shit). I also want to break my bad habits, one at a time. I want to start journaling again, to write about my progress and to just get things off my chest. Finally, I want to finish my poetry book and publish it, and find a way to get my music into studio recordings so I could sell albums, and play live shows.
Now It's no guarantee that all of these things will happen this year, but I'm realizing how short life is. Every day is a new opportunity to do something great...and many of us just live our lives wasting away, dancing the same weekly dance and repeating the same routines. Life is so much more than that, and I realize how much I could have done with all the time I've wasted. I seriously want to seize every opportunity to enjoy my life, to do things I've never done, to learn new things, and appreciate the little things...like taking a walk on a brisk sunny day.
I'm ready to quit fretting so much and to focus on my goals and self care, so I can truly experience inner happiness with myself, and life all around me. I'm ready to take the steps I need to care for myself better, to go after the goals I've had for many years, and to simply BE. To BE myself and to take advantage of this gift called life, focused on the present...One day, one hour at a time. Moving forward. The only time I will look back will be when I see how far I've come from there.
It might just be me,...but I have a feeling that this year will be much different than the last. I've went through some major transitions, took in some intense lessons, and now I'm eager to apply them to my life...and to truly grow from my hardships and become stronger.
I'm thankful for my mother and my family and friends who have been rooting me on, including you guys. Many of you have heard part of my story, things I've battled and went through, and it means a lot that you simply showed your care and support. I show my care and support for you all too..and may this year be a good one!
To new beginnings!
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During my hiatus I've begun to regularly consume a certain herb of questionable legal status. I was sitting in the storage area underneath my residence, smoking a bowl in the dimly lit area with only my new puppy for company. I had some chill EDM tunes playing on my phone. It was a quiet night on the plains, a little chilly in the unheated underbelly of a relic. Wrapped in my jacket, preparing for lift off...
I realized how insignificant humanity is. Now I can't turn that realization off. We think that we are so freakin' special, each and every one of us this wonderfully unique creation. They tell us that in church, they tell us that in school, and those of us that grew up during the era of the self-esteem cult can never escape it. Until one day when we reach terminal velocity and crash through the ceilings of our own minds. Blast through the lowest orbit like a SpaceX rocket and smash the expectations of this boring Earthbound existence of all mortal beings.
Picture it! This world all a dream! What we see isn't real and what we feel is all lies! We are led around by our desires and we deny it. I saw it and now I'm sick. Mentally unwound. Oh, sure...it all seems so glorious to pull at the strings of the carefully woven tapestry that attaches us to the realities that we know. But let me tell you, it's not so much fun as it is sobering. Once you really realize how fragile it all is and how much of life is thinly veiled bullshit controlled by faraway string-pullers, it kills you.
In some deep way that I can't touch, I'm already dead. Just like Jesus. I can't understand why people follow a dead guy. A murder victim. Isn't there someone out there who's alive, who survived? 2000 years and we're still talking about a guy who died and supposedly came back to life only to ascend to a plane of existence that we can't verify yet we trust? I don't think that people throughout time were idiots or anything. Just that they were forced to pledge alligience to a dead guy to avoid their own deaths.
Coerced belief never lasts. I think there's a genetic component to belief resistance that takes awhile to be bred out. Early adapters build persuasive but exclusive cults with elaborate traditions that only those that are born into the faith can understand. I've always found Judaism to be an interesting case because only Jewish women can give birth to Jewish children, even sons. If you read the OT, you see that is what is behind the subjugation of women and why the OT guys were so hung up on virgins, purity, idols, etc.
I suppose that's why I don't understand the fascination that some people have with being Jewish like Jesus. You can't technically become Jewish. You have to be born Jewish. Female converts to Judaism can have Jewish children, but stopping short of conversion means that you aren't Jewish and therefore, your children aren't Jewish either. Yet they want to claim that they are "truly Jewish" and all that.
Of course, I've always been technically minded. That is why faith is such an issue for me. It's not that I can't entertain fantastical ideas, it's that I can usually find faults with said fantasties. Whatever gets you through the day, I guess, but I'd rather explore my own depths than seek an intimate relationship with a dead guy.
This is the first part of a rambling rant that I wrote in my "relaxation time" journal recently. I thought that maybe this would resonate with some people in the ex-c community. No idea why my mind turned to faith. I don't focus too much on my lack of belief or whatever these days...
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So today I once again attempted to find where my mom hid my birth certificate and SSN card. She had mentioned that she had it all together for when we would go to get my passport. I know it has to be somewhere. So, I often go hunting for it when my mom is off somewhere. I often find stuff like drawings, crafts, school assignment, papers, and progress reports from preschool. This stuff eats me up. I feel really guilty for want to leave and rebelling against my family's wishes. I know I need to press forward but, it just eats me up.
I'd like to think my mother has two sides to her. One side, is a scary wave of anger that breaks me down to nothing. The second is a mother bear who ferociously protects her young. I do know she loves me to death and when I leave it will break her heart. I know she loves me because I am a stranger's child and she chose to adopt me. Her insistence of me having a conservative faith is evidence she loves me. Even if it's hell for me.
Being an atheist makes me realize that life is a precious commodity. I still need to get out of here before it's too late. I can't spend another minute trapped in a place that renders me mute and frightened.
She would be likely enraged if she found out I was on a site like this.
She will be likely enraged when I ask her for my papers.
I'll ask anyway.
If she doesn't give them to me I will get certified copies.
This will enrage her.
I'll do it anyway.
I am going through a restless period that has lasted the better part of a few months now. There are so many things that I want to be doing with my time and yet more often than not I find myself staring idly at a computer screen, occupying my time with pointless videos or video games that feel like little more than busy work. Another day passes, I go to bed and tell myself that I'm going to do better tomorrow, but the same things happens and the weeks pass.
To be fair, I have started a new job. It's part time, I work from home and my hours are flexible, but I suppose it has taken a good portion of my focus and energy. Still I feel that I am wasting time, allowing days and weeks and months to slip by when I could be doing more, achieving more.
I have so many books on Christianity and Atheism that are sitting waiting for me to read, and I want to read them. I want to devour that knowledge, to take notes, to build a foundation for what I accept to be true and equip myself with evidence should I need to defend my position. And I expect that I will have to defend my position when I finally come to a decision as to how to break it to my family and friends that I am no longer a believer.
Every morning I catch my reflection in the mirror and I despair at the amount of weight that I've allowed myself to gain. I stare back at a face with dark circles under the eyes and complexion that could be a great deal clearer and wonder why I take such little care of myself. At the beginning of every month I promise myself that I'm going to get into a routine, I'm going to exercise regularly and eat better, I'm going to work on being healthier. Yet halfway through the week I find myself gorging on chocolate and drinking soda, my exercise streak petering off after four or five days.
I have reading I want to do in preparation for my Masters that I start in September. I've wanted to learn sign language for years now, to teach myself to draw, to expand my social circle. There is so much I want to do and achieve, yet I have achieved none of these things.
I'm reminded of a Bible verse:
'I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.' - Romans 7:15
Strange that it would be a Bible verse that comes to me right now, or perhaps it is not so strange. However, the honest truth is that there is no god to save me from this 'body that is subject to death', I'm going to have to haul myself out of this trench myself. One way or another.
Charles Bradlaugh was an English atheist of the 19th century. In fact he could perhaps be considered THE English atheist of his time. He stormed across the UK, a giant of the free thought movement. Clever, brave with a large heart and a mind as strong as steel, he caused despair and worry among the faithful.
His knowledge of the Bible was deep and profound. He had the ability to show just how error riddled it was and would debate those claiming to follow it in front of very large and spell bound crowds.
Although he has laid in his grave the past 124 years, his example of a superstition free life has had a tremendous and positive effect on my own, and I remain grateful for the sacrifices he made and the challenges he had to fight to overcome to make this life, just that little bit better
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Anyone ever had that feeling of walking on ice or on egg shells, even when there's no reason to be feeling like that?
I've come to the conclusion that my brain is possibly wired to deal with crisis every second of every day....
The majority of my life has been extremely stressful and not all that pleasant, the last two weeks I've had a rather calm life minus my kids running away and my other (real) mum being really fucking sick .. All of that I can deal with.. Apparently what I struggle with is having no major urgent situations or problems to solve. It's like I have to be stressed to function which isn't particularly helpful nor is it a very nice way to live as most here will know.
All I've ever wanted is a normal life, but I have been feeling more and more insane of late and if I don't figure out how to rewire my impulses soon its going to drive me insane, that's PTSD for you I guess. At least I'm aware of it and hopefully on the right track.... Seeing my shrink tomorrow is going to be interesting. Usually I have some ridiculous bullshit stressful scenario to discuss but not this week...
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The Book of Genesis is the first of the 66 books traditionally accepted as the Protestant canon of the Bible. Because of Mark 10:3, Luke 24:27, and John 1:17, Moses is thought by many to be the author of Genesis, as it is part of the Pentateuch, or the Law. According to chabad.org, Moses was born in 1393 BCE and died in 1273 BCE. Christiananswers.net posits that Moses compiled his book from accounts kept by Adam, Seth, and the other 11 generations mentioned in Genesis (i.e., "this is the book of the generations of...") and added his own comments under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The last event mentioned in Genesis is the death of Joseph (Genesis 50:26); Joseph is said to have lived from 1562 BCE to 1452 BCE (according to chabad.org), meaning Moses was born 59 years after the events Genesis describes. Christian scholars have not come to any considerable agreement as to the birth and death years of Moses, but Dr. John Van Seters states that the book of Genesis was likely written in the 5th or 6th century BCE.
Genesis 1:1 comes from the Greek Old Testament, also known as the LXX Septuagint. As with all verses of the Bible quoted in this manner within this work, It is printed in green, with any words attributed to Christ in red. All verses are taken from the King James Version of the Bible, as it is under public domain--meaning it may be quoted without permission from its publisher, in keeping with the DMCA.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The word for "God" ('elohiym) is especially troubling, as it can mean:
Outline of Biblical Usage
(plural intensive - singular meaning)
works or special possessions of God
the (true) God
And "the heaven" (shamayim) is especially troubling, as it can mean (omission mine):
Outline of Biblical Usage
visible heavens, sky
as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc
as abode of the stars
Heaven (as the abode of God)
And finally, "the earth" ('erets):
Outline of Biblical Usage
whole earth (as opposed to a part)
earth (as opposed to heaven)
piece of ground
land of Canaan, Israel
inhabitants of land
Sheol, land without return, (under) world
people of the land
space or distance of country (in measurements of distance)
level or plain country
land of the living
end(s) of the earth
So there we have three potentially mistranslated words in the first verse of the Bible, but they are of vital importance, as the alternatives present very different meanings. In further posts, I'll start looking at the verse in context of that which comes after it, and I'll build on the information given. I'll also be adding sources and additional knowledge as I find it in my research.
Lastly, formatting is a bitch. I'll clean it up later.
often in contrast to Canaan
ground, surface of the earth
(almost wholly late in usage)
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Things are not going well at all and I am in a very depressed condition once again. In bed all day today and haven't stopped crying. The spiritual atmosphere at home is at a fervor and it is very detrimental to my fragile mental state. A-mum is preparing for the most important event of the year for her, which is a Christian religious conference, so she has to spend a lot of time (many months actually) preparing materials and then she will act as teacher for a part of the conference. I am in too fragile a condition to deal with this right now. Everywhere I go in the home there are open bibles and religious materials much of which was written by a-mum, making me feel as though my mind and feelings are under assault. It has brought too much "Jesus" into my fragile little safety nest of home where I try to find a little bit of stability in the world. I have confessed on this website that I struggle with fears of the outside world having had some very bad experiences with men and learning to perceive them all as dangerous. Home is the only holdout I've got for escape from the world but it is burning down, so to speak, with the fires of Jesus. Jesus, to me, is just another dangerous man, but worse, as he is the invisible god controlling the minds and actions of the people. A-mum gets into a nervous fit of rage if she is interrupted or distracted from her "holy work" or if she perceives me as not supporting it. It slipped out, I asked her to stop doing it (the conference) and that of course led to an angry outburst. She still does not know the truth about me being an EXC and she is still Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. On the phone: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. When talking with her friends: lets pray to Jesus! When children come over, singing songs about Jesus with them. When we get in the car we must have Christian radio which I beg a-mum to turn off. I have sent many signs out that I am EXC but she is too wrapped up in her faith to notice the signs of my disapproval.
What I have noticed is that when a-mum's (and a-family in general) Jesus fervor goes up, the anger and control exerted by them over me also goes up. Also, the verbal abusiveness and emotional manipulation increases. When the intensity about Jesus increases, my thoughts of Jesus and God get more severe, and I experience them as being very real beings which desire to hold me as hostage and do increasingly evil things to me. At this time I am trying to avoid human contact and am only interacting with the "safety" of the computer.
Can't believe it has been over a year ago since I posted on this blog last.
SHAME ON ME!
Well, no, not really. I've actually made a lot of progress over the last 13 months, and made some permanent life style changes that I stuck with, and don't miss at all. As I am sure most of you remember, and if you don't just check out the gallery, I used to look like this.
Yeah, I was rockin' the scale at nearly 220 lbs (99.8 kg)..... Now, within about 4 months, I'd plateaued out, reaching 188lbs (85.3 kg). Looking like this.
And then I fell off the face of the planet, letting everything get in the way of me taking care of me. And I put the weight right back on.....
A lot has changed since May of 2014. For one, I am single now, and eliminated the number one cause of my stress eating. I also have been working a very physically demanding job that requires a lot of squatting, stomach crunching, lifting...all day long. I also changed my dietary habits to be a bit more Mediterranean, and have cut out red meat for the most part. I am nearly 100% red meat free, and will probably completely commit by this time next month as my body throws a fit when I do have a burger or steak once a week. I no longer crave beef at all. Chicken rarely so. Fish has been my absolute friend and companion, along with pork here and there.
But what about my number one go to friend in my fridge?
No, have not been able to give it up. I've come to realize I have a corn syrup addiction and that is why after cleaning my system of caffeine, I still felt like utter dog shit. So, I will continue for now, my soda consumption, though I do only have for part of the day now, instead of all day long. Coffee has become a favorite habit in the morning instead of fizzy sugar. Here's hoping I find a truly workable solution for corn syrup addiction!
It seems that I have found a good combination of exercise, diet, and alleviated a major stress situation. And since getting my own place back in October of this past year? Results have been good. Here is what I look like now.
I've gone from 220 lbs to 170 lbs (77 kg). I quite literally have been putting off going through my clothing the past few months because I just couldn't accept that I had actually made the change over, but I did this week. 85% of my wardrobe (including underwear dammit) is gone now, being too loose to fit. I even tried keeping a few pair of my size 16 waist jeans to use in conjunction with heavy thermals (I work outdoors). Still too loose. What I found really impressive is that I didn't just cut wait, I've built muscle. My arms are somewhat more toned, and I can feel the layer of muscle under my still semi poochy gut. I am at a point I know I can start toning and actually see the result, not just wonder where under the fluffy white marshmallow surface of my body I have definition.
Now to decide what to work on. The fat on my hips and abdomen has shrunk dramatically, but it's still fluffy stuff that looks horribly uneven now that I've dropped weight. I don't want to be all svelte and cut, I mean, I've had four kids and split my abdominal more than once. But a bit more less flumpy around the edges would be nice, right? This is going to be tough. How do you bust fat that is on a part of your body that has no muscle to work? All I can think is cardio.
Yeah, I still haven't dealt with my aversion to it.
Over the past several weeks, I have been contemplating various attributes of the human mind. I have been reading research on the Psychology of Belief and researching motivated reasoning and confirmation bias. At this point, I have come to the conclusion that, much like the cosmos and our universe, the human mind is incredibly complex and, at this point, has not been fully understood. There are numerous theories as to why humans think the way they do, and why humans act the way they do. And much like the discussions regarding our origins in the universe, there is still so much we don't know or understand about the mind and why we think and reason the way we do and what purpose the way we think and reason and interpret our world serves us in the now and in the future.
In my puffed up brain, it would be my desire to show many wonderful and awesome things about the way humans think and reason and get you all to learn new and exciting things that I have come to understand over the past several weeks. A lofty goal, indeed. But I also understand the limits of my ability to write articulately and the fact that most people reading this are not where I am in my quest for understanding why I believed in the Christian god for so long and how my thoughts and actions were so greatly influenced by my own perceptions and understandings of my world. But, maybe for the sake of me just thinking out loud for others to see, or just for my own cathartic experience, I would like to share some of what I have discovered. I am by no means an expert, but a fledgling behaviorist, trying to find understanding in why and how we do the things we do.
If you remember Psychology 101 from school, you will likely remember the name Piaget. He is famous for his work with children. But what you may not realize about him is that he experienced a crisis in his youth regarding faith and the things that his family was telling him in regards to religion. This crisis resulted in him being influenced to start the path that led him to developing our current understanding of how beliefs form.
That being said, Piaget understood the concept of Schema, which you can read about here, and how children use schemata to build their knowledge base and ultimately use that knowledge base to develop their worldview. He developed his theory of cognitive development using schemata.
Why is this important? Well, for many of us, we adopted the religion of our parents, and likely, their families. You adopted their worldviews as you grew and began to process that knowledge. They adopted their worldviews from their parents and so on it goes. As a child you developed your schemata and as you did, the information you were given influenced further information you were given and you developed whatever worldview you ended up with. At this point, I could go on and on about how schemas work and how they affect who you are and what you think. I want to stress that this is incredibly important if you want to understand why you fell for the Christianity trap. You really likely had no choice in the matter. It was only until you started to receive information that consistently challenged the established schemata that you began to find out that there existed different information which, subsequently, began to start a new process of thinking for you.
This translates to the other areas that I have been studying: motivated reasoning and cognitive bias. These concepts shape the way you interpret information and how you determine whether or not it will shape your worldview. Every person uses motivated reasoning for all the information that you receive, accept and place in your schema. Every second of every day, your brain receives and interprets numerous data. Much of it is processed and discarded without it even being consciously known to you. A perfect example of this is the fact that you wear clothes every day. Your skin receives sensory information when your clothes touch it, but your brain has become accustomed to that sensory information, so it has learned to ignore the general information regarding what your skin is feeling. It is only when that information is different, that the brain processes it differently, and you notice it.
In the same way, we also receive numerous information from people, through the internet, tv, radio, etc. We process that information in real time and ultimately, our brains determine whether or not that information is relevant at that time. This processing involves the schemata that we have previously developed in our past and the brain processes each bit of information it receives based on the schemata that it has formed from previous information. This is why confirmation bias exists. As humans, we tend to only accept information that fits into our already developed schemata. And this is where motivated reasoning fits in as well. Humans actively seek out information that confirms our already preconceived notions, beliefs, and ideas. We seek to be validated in our worldview and because of this; we seek out information that confirms our already determined worldview. It is because of motivated reasoning that we immediately discard anything that goes against what already exists in our schemata. It is only a brief few moments of cognitive dissonance that can potentially affect our schema related to the information and at that point, we can either investigate further the information presented and then update our schema, or we can use a self-defense mechanism, and simply create a plausible (in our minds) scenario as to why that information is the exception rather than the rule, thus resolving the discrepancy.
Why is all of what I just explained important?
Well, because of this understanding, we can better understand why we fell into the trap of believing Christianity (or any other religion) for so long. You were already “doomed” to become a Christian (or whatever religion your parents chose) before you even had a fighting chance. Secondly, once you embraced your particular worldview, your brain primarily sought out information that solidified that worldview and developed a much more deep rooted belief system. So, in many ways, you couldn’t help to believe what you ended up believing.
Another important thing that you need to understand about how your mind works is this: your mind does so much more in processing information than you are aware of. This means that your mind is making decisions for you before you are actually aware of these decisions. Studies have been conducted that have shown that researchers can predict when a decision has been made in people’s brain as many as a few seconds before the person actually decides. Our brains process information in a particular way and sometimes that particular way is not the most efficient way. This explains why, after a speech or debate with someone, that you start to have those thoughts about what you should have said, or why you remember things after the fact. Our brains can only recall so much information at a time and, depending on the schema that the information you were looking for was stored in, you may or may not remember something because of what your brain is attempting to access.
This whole process also affects something that is very important to Christianity: Free Will
How your brain receives, processes, filters, and stores information is something that you have only so much control over. This affects the possibility of free will. If your brain can only access so much information at a time or it accesses only certain information at a time based on the schema system of storing information, how can you legitimately say that we are actually making a fully informed decision? Or if our brains are making decisions before we are consciously aware of it, how is it that we are actually making a truly, fully informed, thought out decision about something? How can we be held responsible for something that we are not consciously aware of, or that we have no control over?
It is because of this information that I have come to the conclusion that Free Will is an illusion. It isn’t physically possible to have free will, even if we really wanted it. But that might be a whole other discussion...
As I am writing this all out, I can’t help but think back to Jesus. In the forums, someone posted a thread about whether or not Jesus sinned (or something like that). Ultimately a short discussion ensued as to whether or not Jesus was fully tempted or whether he was truly human. Applying this information about the mind to Jesus (assuming he was a real person and he was actually fully human) then only one of two possibilities can exist that I can see:
1 – Jesus was truly human and his mind worked just like any other human, thus making him a victim of his own mind. His own mind would have caused him to sin, regardless of whether or not he wanted to. He was limited by the information that his brain processed. His parents made mistakes, so there is no possible way that he could have not made any mistakes. Humans learn by watching and mimicking the actions of their caretakers. He likely would have believed false or inaccurate information, and his behavior about said information would have been affected by those beliefs. This is what it truly means to be human. If Jesus was actually human, then he had to sin.
2 – Jesus was in fact the Son of God and was fully God and fully human. But because of his divinity, he was able to overcome the pitfalls of his own mind and he was able to use motivated reasoning in the most efficient way possible, thus streamlining his thoughts and his schemata. He was able to avoid sin because his mind was protected by his divinity and was not subject to the same processes that normal humans have. His mind processed information that only related to his mission on earth and what he had to do to accomplish that mission. All of this was only accomplished because Jesus had an unfair advantage. This makes the “sacrifice” he made, less than honest. It makes him less than human and more divine. This gave him an unfair advantage that the rest of humanity did/does not have. And this makes him unable to relate to anyone else, despite what Hebrews says that he was tempted in all ways as we are. If number 2 is true, then Jesus was not what the bible claims and is not what Christianity claims and makes him a fraud.
What you just read is my understanding of the human mind and how it relates to our creation of our own worldview and how what we think and believe is influenced by forces that are, in some ways, beyond our control. It is certainly not comprehensive and certainly needs more work. But it is where I am at right now in the whole process of understanding why my mind works the way it does. I would like to stress that there is so much more regarding this topic that I have not addressed that applies well to this discussion, but that I have already written a long entry.
Please read more about this if you wish. I welcome any thoughts or other information that you might want to add.