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  • TheBluegrassSkeptic

    Last Goodbyes

    By TheBluegrassSkeptic

    Death for me over the years has rarely been difficult to process and move on. I've buried quite a few, only mourned a couple. The two I mourn are now memories I guard so earnestly a mother bear could not rival my ferocity. These two people immediately bring on the wet eyes and short tight breaths when I just so much as think on their lives, their influence, and my loss.   This past January I experienced a third loss of someone very important in my life. It's hit me very hard, and I am surprised it's taken me this long to be able to pick up a pen and put it to paper finally. It's been thirty days, and this is still difficult to even bother to proof read. I did pour out my initial shock and pain all over social media. I tracked every article on his death I could find. I even found video from where he was that day and watched a VBIED explode in the distance. I had to somehow be there. Witness his chaos, hear the intensity, and visualize the finality that damage brought on in the war he volunteered to fight in.   Albert Avery Harrington had volunteered to fight with Kurdish forces against ISIL two years ago. When he had initially announced his plans, I debated, I argued, and I even pleaded for him to reconsider and find another way to render aid. I knew he would end up severely injured, or worse, dead. But he went anyway, fully accepting the almost guaranteed risks that would change his, and the lives of all who loved him, forever.   He sought life and purpose on his own path, and if death found him, at least it was while he was in pursuit of what made his existence fulfilled. This outlook on life is the only reason I can accept his death without anger or regret. No anger at his dying in a situation that he willingly allowed danger to follow, or regret that I never convinced him to put down this flag for a noble cause.   Our last goodbye was back in September. He'd asked me if I could use my press privileges and get him in to Kurdistan. I'd laughed him off, quietly relieved he wasn't currently in harm's way for the moment. I knew it was only a matter of time though, and once again I would get erratic messages from the front lines in Kurdistan where he would complain about needing sleep and I would promise him the juiciest burger money could buy once he got back.   If.   But he didn't make it back. January 18th he and four others were hit by not one, but two, VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) during a special offensive titled "Wrath of the Euphrates" in a small village called Suwaydiya-Saghirah village in Raqqa. The goal was to cut off the supply line to ISIS's stronghold in Raqqa. Three men were instantly killed, and Avery succumbed to his wounds in the morning hours of the 22nd at age 50. He is listed as a martyr with YPG/MFS Kurdish forces and buried in the land where he fought to defend innocents against ISIL's tyrannical cult. It appears their sacrifice has paid off since Kurdish forces have wrested control of Kukhkhan and Bir Said villages from ISIL in northern Raqqa.   While the progress made since his death has been bittersweet, seeing the word martyr was a difficult thing to process at first. See, like myself, Avery was an atheist. He was living proof of atheist in foxholes and he was very much a humanist. One I try to model myself after. Honestly, I don't know how he gave so much of himself to so many. I get exhausted, but Avery thrived on it, I believe. "Give me a mission," he would say. So, when I saw him being referred to as a martyr, my teeth began to grind. The days to come proved even harder when others began to share their own pain and thoughts on his passing.   As I followed up on news posted on his remembrance page, I began reading the thoughts and prayers comments. I also had to walk away from my computer a few times when I read speculation about whether he'd gotten right with god or turned back to Christ on his death bed.   At first, I interpreted this kind of talk as an affront to what he stood for. His legacy should not be tarnished with the idea he was going to Hell unless he managed a last minute conversion. Could people not see the insult to everything he stood for by questioning his very humanity based on a belief system he did not even ascribe to? Those questions and speculations made me cry. They made me angry. I felt Avery's very purpose of pursuing a larger case for compassion on the world stage had been overshadowed. And after my rage subsided, I realized what was wrong with all these thoughts that were screaming in my head.   The word "I".   The long and the short of it all comes down to the fact Avery is dead. He can no longer be personally offended. He can't feel. He is oblivious to the world as he lays in his box under hundreds of pounds of dirt and rock in Syria. This is about my desire to preserve his memory in my life as I feel it should be. When the desires of other's to do the same do not match up to mine, then I want to stomp them out. And this is incredibly unfair. It minimizes the grief of others, it alienates in a time when coming together is most comforting.   The desire or belief that Avery found God and is now in Heaven does no harm to his memory in my life. It puts a comfort to the personal loss of another, and I don't have the right to control another's grieving process by demanding their hopes be dashed. Just as Avery showed understanding for religious culture and customs of those he sought to protect, why can I not afford the same respect to those who now have a gaping loss to deal with in their lives like I do?   This is a practice I will struggle with for years to come, as do all of us, but for those of us who do not believe in a hereafter, we feel the loss even more permanently than those who do believe. Why should I make a demand for conformity on behalf of those who are dead? Why allow the anger to take away from what we have lost? Do I really need to ask them why their God saw fit to allow such atrocity that eventually motivated Avery to protect those God would not? No, I won't do that. Even if when some say this god supposedly had a plan for Avery.   Grief and loss do not belong to only one individual, though the process is individually different because of perception of the relationship one shared with the deceased. All of us who loved and cherished Avery have one thing in common, his death. Some of us will look forward to dining with him at the table in Valhalla, the rest of us have only his influence to pass on through our own actions so he may life on in the life of others - even if some who will be influenced by him, won't even know his name or know he is the source of their benefit.   I can honestly say that my relationship with Avery ended with no regrets, and the past is forever the past, and tomorrow will always show me where we once were together.   I love you, Avery. We miss you.
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Oh! I Wish I'd Thought Of That! (Warning: Angry Blog)

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.   Signed,
Yunea - and also Nora, Meri, Cyan, Hate, Minttu, (takes deeeep breath) and some others who are too shy to give their names.

yunea

yunea

 

Getting Sick Of Giving God Excuses For His Behavior

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

willybilly30

willybilly30

 

I Am Thinking Satanism...no, I A Mean Arbys..

I posted in my testamonie already called"I ate the forbidden fruit" so you may want to lookthat up to get a back story   I love studying religions I really do.
I have studied Christianity, Gnosticism, Native American spirituality, buddhism, paganism
damn,have i got everything...   I am on a group called Satanic. Philosophy amd Education on facebook
They are some nice people there man
Some one bitched that their is not any philosophy. in forum
I decided since there is a gob of books in the files to start a book study
First, is the old time classic and favorite
The Satanic Bible   I have read it many times
This time i decided to treat it like the bible..you know what i am talking about lol
I mean taking notes on how i feel about stuff and quotes
i told the people in the group do ten pages   I really like it so far
Your God, you got your own power, beiing human is wonderful be human.
what's not to like?
No rules,no hell no groveling to some God.
it does have some rules but, no one is gonna make you follow them
But, you do have personal responsiblity for your actions..no devil to blame   Ever religion i read has all these rules and requirements
oh, you will go to some hell if you don't
God loves you so much but, if you are not in this religion and disagree with it go to hell!   I don't get this really..why does God make anything it does not want?.
With all the evil in the world and the things i went through sometimes i wonder if the God i speak with is only in my mind.
I got a gaurdian angel names Zachary i been talking too..not sure if he is real   I like Jesus but the Bible supports slavery, predjudice, stoning, rape, war
Christans have done many horrible things
It is hard to ignore   But, i guess i have too
If anyone in this town knew i liked Satanism who knows what might happen
I tell you one thing tho
Satan and his followers have been nicer to me than Christians
Oh, before that i was into Wicca so, i guess i will stick it in there too   Yea, i am thinking Satanism
i mean arbys lol

willybilly30

willybilly30

 

An Unexpected Thank You

I don't know how well this blog is going to go over, and I probably haven't thought this completely through, but I am posting it anyway. I have to get this off my mind, and I am sure just the idea of what I am suggesting will infuriate a few out there, but hopefully if read all the way through, I make sense, just not articulated well.   This all began earlier this week when a friend of mine, our very own Brother Jeff, was being persistently pursued about the concept of Hell, and the need to open his mind to the possiblity because of NDE experiences that incorporated the fiery land of sulfur. These experiences should be considered as proof of the reality was essentially what the poster was insisting on. Further than that, he even made the assumption that Jeff is far too involved with atheist acquaintances, which might be why he doesn't believe in the concept at all.   Atheist friends like myself.   While this commentator's blame laying on atheists for being part of the main reason Jeff had left behind religious belief (see what I did there?) and lava filled oceans was flattering, his accusations were at best desperation. Even more desperate? He was hell bent on convincing Jeff to at least just visit a particular website called http://www.hellisreal.net, because the internet must only have accurate information and evidence.   As is typical of such proselyting tactics, when Jeff remained unfazed and determined in his views, the poster went the last desperate step in argumentation. Desperate equates to fallacious, of course.   "What about all of the Islamic terror and political bias? You aren't being fair in your slander."   This type of tu quoque argumentation is a favorite of mine to read. It's classic avoidance by meeting criticism with criticism instead of actually answering to the charges. And it's an easy one to fall into. Meeting criticism with much of the same is a great way to avoid talking about topics you are hard pressed to defend rationally. Ironically, his accusation that my friend only feels comfortable criticizing Christianity brings up an interesting perspective about showing preference.   First, I think it is plainly obvious why one often focuses on the majority religion in their communities. The majority religion has the largest impact on day to day life, upbringing, and political ideology. Christian extremism has affected my life 99.9% of the time. I am in a country that truly believes that the Christian god is personally blessing our nation in particular, every day. (C'mon, share the wealth with livable wages then, right?) Islam? Hasn't played a significant role in my day to day life until the last decade, and even then the footprint is minor, but somewhat significant in my relationship with our nation's evolving obsession with Christian culture and rules in our everyday society and government.   Now, when I read interactions like that of Jeff and a religious commentator and the accusation of sympathizing with terrorists for not equally criticizing Islam, I start to bristle at the absolute ridiculous comparison. Are there terrorists who are Muslim? Absolutely, I won't deny it or defend it. As this commentator should acknowledge there are Christian terrorists today. The Identity movement, evangelical pastors convincing African nations to pass "kill the gays" legislation. Potential vice presidents of our nation wanting to jail gays for even applying for a marriage license. Every group has extremists, but the ones that have truly influenced your life are likely the ones you will focus on. And that is okay. Lack of focus on other religious extremists isn't a denial of what they have done. If one cannot relate to the substance of particular sects of violent ideology, why is one obligated to give it equal air time?   Personally, extreme political cults like ISIS and Al Qaeda have had an unusual positive impact on my perception of the world, and influence of belief within politics. I could actually send a thank you note for the awareness their extremism has introduced into my once clearly biased attitudes. My bias had always allowed me to minimize the damage our country's majority Christian outlook has wrought against those who wouldn't conform. But no longer.   Children killed in the name of teaching Syrian parents they must follow ISIS. Children killed by their own mothers in America because they were not following God's laws. Muslim children being denied vaccinations because it was considered worldly and an affront to Allah. Christian children denied vaccinations because God supposedly condemns worldly intervention over divine providence. Gay Muslim men thrown from rooftops in Iraq for their sexuality. Then I remembered having read about James Byrd Jr.'s dragging death in Jasper, Texas for being gay. He was drug to death by Christian white supremacists. I listened to Muslim clerics explain to fathers in Afghanistan that their women and daughters should not go in public without a family member, or they would invite sexual assault and be permanently dishonored. I watch Christian fathers in our country tearfully accept their daughters' promises of virginal purity until marriage because these young girls' sexuality belongs to their fathers. I cried as Boko Haram handed out school girls as sex slaves, and I cried as my Christian politicians condemned abortion in cases of rape because babies are gifts from God, regardless of how conception occurred.   Up until the daily news casts started sharing with me the extreme imposition of theocratic policies in extreme Islamic belief, I was able to rationalize that we could be a lot worse here in America, and that it wasn't so bad. And it is true, we could be a lot worse, but there is so much we suffer under today that is outrageously unconstitutional and is still permitted because we are a supposedly "Christian Nation" even though our Constitution tells us otherwise. When I had a daily visual to compare our own nation's attitudes and practices against? I realized we put up with a lot of unfair demands for conformity or face retribution on many unimaginable levels.   While it is very true that extreme Christian acts of violence like mothers and fathers murdering their families are met with judicial justice head on, we still allow deprivation of legitimate education, deprivation of necessary medical care, and theocratic conspired laws to force submission in matters of family law and women's autonomy. If it weren't for extreme groups like ISIS, Osama Bin Laden, or the Taliban, I don't know if I ever would have seen the horrifying depths we have allowed Christian extremists to dive to in the name of belief. I hear all these arguments that we are allowing too many special exceptions for Islam, and that we are inviting extreme views and practices from Muslims to start taking root. All I can say is that in order to prevent extremists, you have to enforce the boundaries of church and state. By already allowing blatant preference for Christian agendas on every level of federal, state, and even local government, you have already set the precedent for other extreme religious ideologies to have their fair place too.   So at the end of the day, maybe Jeff's persistent cheerleader for Christ might take his own advice and pay more attention to the similarities between his belief system and that of every day Muslims. He ought to be grateful that the majority doesn't act as depraved as the extremist minorities in either version of God. Most importantly, maybe he ought to hold the same standard against his personal belief as he does Islam and see how the two ultimately are similar in goals, and even methods, in order to secure authority in community.

TheBluegrassSkeptic

TheBluegrassSkeptic

 

Burger King And Politics

"No truly dedicated human being would stay with someone that sexually abuses others."   "I wasn't happy about Bill Clinton's sexual harassment charges and affairs in office either."   "Why would someone wait until an abuser is running for office to come forward? It's fame. S/He wants fifteen minutes of fame."   I want to address the first statement from a Trump supporter's interview on CNN earlier this week. Honestly, this one is the most difficult to deal with, not because it's horrible to think that someone would stay with anyone known to have been predatory with other human beings, but because it reveals the humanity in HRC. Yeah, I said it. She's human. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I've broken the internet.   And this isn't an excuse. I'm just stating the obvious that HRC seems to try to hide or avoid discussing publicly. Not the affairs of her husband, but the rationale she employs in relationships, the motivations that drives her to make a relationship work, and why she seems so impersonal to the world about her very human experiences that would reveal her vulnerabilities. Some say her remaining with Bill was to further her political career. That could be true. It could also be true that she truly enjoys her humanitarian work (I know, there are some poor decisions that have cost lives too), and recognizes that same fact in her husband. I have little doubt they are at the minimum close friends, people. C'mon, there is a camaraderie there that can't be ignored. Also, there is definitely a passion within her to push for betterment of society and living in some sectors. We see she has chosen to make do with what she has. We employ our personal standards of rules for relationships to her life to try and understand her because she is giving us nothing to go on. And yes, I think in the public life, that is a huge flaw.   True story. My father is a sexual abuser. He is an emotionally abusive man. And he would physically abuse me at times while I was a child, not just to punish me, but to release a lot of pent up frustration. My mother was unaware of his sexually abusing me, as far as I can tell, until I told her when I was sixteen years of age. She couldn't claim ignorance of his physically abusive rages as many times she would have to intervene and pull him off of me at times. She couldn't deny the tears of guilt, shame, and sadness from when he would drive her into the ground with words from his lips either.   Yet, she remained. Much like Clinton, my mother doesn't discuss my father's abusive behaviors. Much like Clinton, my mother minimizes the damage done, or scuttles away the hurt with excuses about his childhood. And exactly like HRC, the veneer my mother has painstakingly shellacked over the image of her family remains spotless.....in her mind. This persistent need to not show vulnerability is exactly the chink in her armor that is glaringly obvious to everyone around her. I think HRC is aware of this, but isn't capable of processing it. If I hadn't been around this type of behavior from my own mother, I would be perplexed like the rest of America. This vulnerability doesn't make HRC incapable of leadership though. Quite the contrary, as with my own mother, HRC has many truly notable successes under her belt alongside her failures - like many of us do- though not many of us will be at such a high level of authority in our lifetimes either.   Again, this is not a plea for you to vote for HRC, this is simply a perspective I take into consideration when weighing the public image versus the person away from the microphone.   The next area I want to tackle is the this whole "You think Trump is bad, look at what Bill Clinton did to women while in office!"   All I have to say on this matter is that it would seem to me if you were pissed you found out after Bill Clinton was elected into office the nasty things he did to women, then why aren't you glad you are finding out about it now with Trump and will be saving us millions in tax payer dollars to avoid impeachment and lawsuits? Share the same level of outrage, do not minimize the trauma of others to benefit your personal desires. To do so makes you as bad as HRC's supposedly staying with her husband to save her political career. Seriously. Pot meet kettle. If Bill's abuse of women is serious enough to never want him in office again, then why put another sexual predator in the Oval Office?   And lastly, the fifteen minutes of fame argument. The problem isn't that many victims of sexual harassment and abuse wait what appears as a lifetime to come forward with their revelations. It isn't a problem that for many years they kept their suffering quietly to themselves and one day finally cracked open their scabs and let the pain come flowing out of the wounds again in public forum.   The problem is that when these victims were abused, they looked in the mirror afterwards whispering over and over for many decades later,"It isn't that bad. I've seen worse." The problem is being programmed to immediately compare one's suffering to a social bar of acceptability and not personal self. The problem is we are not allowed to own our suffering in the public eye, or even have it recognized without being put on a litmus scale of public opinion.   We are victims of not just our abusers, but our peers' standards of what is considered the acceptable course of action if one is victimized. Victimization knows no sexual identity, age, creed, or pain process. It is truly the most personal of all experiences in this world that can fairly be compared to no two snowflakes being exactly alike. Trauma never has a standard order of procedure.   When women come forward during contested political seasons, or men reveal that they were pressured into horrible situations with upstanding community members, instead of looking at their coming out as suspicious timing, consider this: Maybe seeing their abuser's face all over every form of social media is a cruel flashback that is the catalyst they need to finally process their victimization and understand that it was THAT bad, and it is the WORST they have personally ever experienced. Which in itself, is very traumatic. Some find this realization angering, and they blast their anguish loud and clear for anyone that will hear, while others will simply file an anonymous lawsuit, wanting the public to be aware, but not wanting to have their pain politicized.     At the end of the day, we all share a lot of traits with HRC. We minimize certain facts or news that disrupts our world view in an unpleasant way. We try to preserve our self image, because to not be secure in self is uncomfortable. I look at the POTUS race as a job interview for a CEO position. I care about personal life issues up to a certain point. I worry more about education, qualifications, experience, and work related professionalism. Some say HRC has been in politics far too long to effect any change, and that if she were truly going to change, then show the proof throughout her career that she has pursued change. I agree to some extent on this mindset. Career politicians will always leave me with a pessimistic attitude. My worry is that without a career politician who understands how government actually works, then that outside candidate will be completely taken advantage of by the hundreds of other politicians who know the system.   If you want change, you have to change all levels of government. And to do that, you have to change the mindset of society to not act like those who are currently governing them. Maybe start with a willingness to accept standards outside your own. It is possible to accept that your standards are not the golden rule for an entire nation. I would really push to stand by unwavering empathy, and finally quit moving the goal posts to fit your views. I say it all the time. The political realm isn't a Burger King. You can't have it all your way. Find a candidate who is like you: someone who needs intimacy, empathy, and love. These traits require compromise. Make that the standard in your worldview, in your society, and you will make that a standard in government to be proud of, not a sign of weakness. You will encourage trust between government and the populace that allows for dialog. When we hold impossible standards to meet, almost to the level of saintliness that many of us abhor in the secular community, how can one expect personal honesty?

TheBluegrassSkeptic

TheBluegrassSkeptic

 

Mam

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.

Ellinas

Ellinas

 

How To Get Slaved!

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!!

Brother Jeff

Brother Jeff

 

The Downside To Fundamentalist Religious Belief

Sometimes I feel some nostalgia for my younger days of extreme Christian religious belief. And it is true that when I was very religious I had many good Christian friends, and we had some really fun times together. But, other times, such as today, I am reminded of how awful it was to be locked into that narrow worldview as well. I spent years being terrified that I was not really saved and that I was going to end up in Hell, and I had the same fear for my "unsaved" family and friends. I annoyed my family and my friends about Jesus all the time because I didn't want them to end up in Hell. I even feared that my grandfather, who was a genuinely good man, had gone to Hell simply because my preacher uncle failed to share Jesus with him when he was on his deathbed. I remember my grandfather saying, "Danny, I hope I make it!" And my uncle Danny didn't respond as I would have.   What a terrible thing it is to always be terrified that you might not really be saved and that your family and friends might be headed to an eternal, never-ending BBQ.   I realize now that it was awful having to believe that everyone who didn't share my beliefs was my enemy and the enemy of my God. I seriously used to strongly believe that everyone who was not a devout fundamentalist Christian was an enemy of God, and they were headed for Hell to be barbecued forever without any hope of reprieve.   I realize now that it was awful wanting so badly to be in God's Will and wanting so badly to get real feedback from God, yet except for some emotional highs, I never did. I wanted my family to be saved and I prayed and prayed for that to happen, yet it never did. Not even close. The same goes for my friends at the time. On the flip side of things, they were all very concerned that I was deeply involved in a dangerous cult, and they were right!! My family and friends were very relieved when I finally walked away from such extreme religious belief...   So yes, there were some positives to my Christian faith, and I did sometimes have a lot of fun and I often experienced joy, when I wasn't busy being tormented by doubts about my salvation.   Are there positives to religious belief? Of course. But there are some very serious negative aspects to it as well. Fundamentalist religion is fear-based and it's ignorance-based as well, and the beliefs can and do cause a lot of damage and mental suffering...

Brother Jeff

Brother Jeff

 

The Orlando Shooting: Thoughts On Responding To Bigotry

*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.

Lilith666

Lilith666

 

Life Full Of Plateaus, But Maybe There Is An End In Sight

Plateau is defined by a google search as the following:   pla·teau
plaˈtō/   noun
noun: plateau; plural noun: plateaux; plural noun: plateaus


1.


an area of relatively level high ground.
synonyms: upland , tableland , plain , mesa , highland , coteau


"a windswept plateau"



denoting a group of American Indian peoples of the plateau country of western Canada and the US, including the Nez Percé.
modifier noun: plateau

[*]


2.


a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
"the peace process had reached a plateau "
synonyms: quiescent period; More


letup , respite , lull

"prices reached a plateau"
  verb
verb: plateau; 3rd person present: plateaus; past tense: plateaued; past participle: plateaued; gerund or present participle: plateauing


1.


reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.
"the industry's problems have plateaued out "

The second noun and first verb seem to fit my life pretty well. I've been stuck in an endless cycle of plateaus for a while now in several aspects of my existence: From the gains on my workouts, to the fact I have not budged an inch toward any goal I've set. The workout goals seem to be an aspect that I cannot control as my body just has hit its upper limits without injury. Everything else is completely up to fate's hands, and fate is a cruel mistress.   Recent workout statistics show me making no progress toward my USAF standards for BMT. For some reason, I cannot get over the hump of my pace, the aforementioned upper limits of my body being the 1st culprit. I'm living witness that there are some things you just cannot do, no matter how hard you "think you can". At some point, mediocrity becomes your standard, and what a low bar that is. As is life. I'm making adjustments as I go to try and rectify this situation, but so far - nothing has worked.   Add in the fact that I return to the work schedule that I affectionately call the "death shift" (read: 2nd shift), it just seems like I cannot make any progress in life. This is a major step backward for me, it got its nickname because this shift will be the death of me in some form, be it literally, or figuratively, speaking. It's a horrible time slot, with a work group whose combined IQ is somewhere in the single digits (and that is being generous) full of the worst that Kentucky (and many other states) has to offer. Most of these people are quite literally the lowest forms of life on this earth, scum that infects any sort of establishment they inhabit. I scrub twice during my nightly shower after this shift, because I fear that one cannot sufficiently get the filth off me.   BUT!   This all being said, I received some moderately (maybe even very) good news from my mother concerning my future. If it all goes well, the light at the end of this misery may be here within the next half year.   It's just making it until then. I can't guarantee I won't break something in the meantime.   Adieu.

Travi

Travi

 

Not Alone, But Lonely

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.
Stephen

StephenW

StephenW

 

Job Hunting

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.

hockeyfan70

hockeyfan70

 

An Introduction

Hello and welcome to my blog.

For now, this is blog shall remain anonymous, because I haven't completely finished "outing" myself as of yet. However, once I do so, I will give more information about who I am; but for now, it will be rather generic.

My journey away from ministry and ultimately christianity has been a seven and a half year jaunt, however my walk away has really gained steam over the past three months.

I have tried to look back at my life in the past few months to figure out where the trajectory of my life changed. I became a christian in 1981, and my family started attending church in the early '80's, but I was not interested in pursuing ministry and I never thought I would become a minister. My goal was to be a ski instructor. I was also really interested in science, and I think if it weren't for a church program that I got myself into and excelled at, I would have been a scientist.

Alas, that's not what I ended up doing.

Growing up, I was always in the gifted and talented programs in school. I took the SAT test in eighth grade because my standardized test scores were so high. I think I would have been in the top 5 in my grade if my mind and life wasn't so wrapped around church.

In seventh grade, I got involved in a church program where you memorize a couple books of the bible and then compete against other teenagers around the state, christian college tournaments during the summer, and then a national tournament around the fourth of July.

This changed my goals, ambitions and dreams.

I ended up getting scholarships to christian colleges. I calculated once that at one christian college, I had racked up twenty three semesters of free tuition and room and board because of how well i did. And so, I went off to a christian college on the west coast.

To make a long story short, I felt called to student ministry while at college.

And that was my life - ministry - for over twenty years.

However, I never really felt like I fit in. The things that ministers were supposed to be excited about, what they felt called to do, I didn't. I was good at helping students change their lives around and become a more productive member of society. When I became a worship minister, I played the guitar pretty well and my voice was ok, and I wasn't like most worship ministers - I was flexible and easy-going. I served at large churches and small church plants. Even though I was successful, I still felt uneasy about aspects of my job. I know that most people have certain things about their jobs they don't like, but some of these things were foundational to ministry. Like pastoral calls. Counseling. Hours spent with god.

I had the opportunity to help plant a church in my home state. So I decided that was what god had called me to do. I packed a few things, left to do god's work, and my family stayed home to sell the house. We figured that it wouldn't take long to sell it and they would join me in a couple of months.

The house never sold.

They eventually came out after four months. We stayed with a relative. We sacrificed. I racked up credit card debt trying to help the church plant out. Then the economy fell. The housing market was screwed. The dream house we had built had to be given to someone else because our house didn't sell. My job moved from full-time to part-time.

So we moved back.

I was crushed.

While my family moved back a couple of months before me, I filled my free time reading books by Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and the like. I didn't understand why after all that sacrifice, nothing good happened. Now, I was never one of those kind of people who thinks that if you claim a blessing, that you will receive it. But it hurt all the same. When I moved back, it took about four months to find another church. I was worship minister again. All was good.

But then about three years into it, things happened and for the next four years, there was quite a lot of turmoil in my personal life and in the life of the church.

In 2014, my brother died of a suicide. It rocked my world (more to that story in another post).

On the anniversary of my brother's death (2015), I was let go by the church. Well, I had the opportunity to resign and work for a few more months trying to find another ministry.

But I had those doubts creeping up in my head again.

In February of this year, with several churches looking at me, I went through a really tough thing that made me decide that I was done with ministry for good. (that will be later too)

So here I am, three months later. I have finally found a "real" job. Actually two jobs. In my next post I will talk about them and my struggle in finding a job.

But for now, I wanted to just briefly touch on my journey. I now believe that religion is bunk. It's a way to control. It's a way to try and make sense of the world - if you lived back in biblical times. We don't need those explanations any more. There are rational, naturalistic reasons for why we exist, how we got here, and more.

I still cling to the belief that there is something supernatural. I'm not to the point where I've given up on the fact that spirituality can be a meaningful activity in our lives.

However, I don't think any religion has figured it out. The religion I grew up in, christianity, has some positive things. However, when you look at what we know about it from the beginning; the inconsistencies, errors, fallacies, contradictions and history of the bible, who wrote it, etc.; the events in church history that are deplorable; the events in my own life; and actually reading books and articles by people who have survived religion and are thriving without it, you begin to realize it's all a lie.

It's been a hard road so far. I was a minister for half of my life!

Psychologists use the term "cognitive dissonance" to describe what I'm going through now. Wikipedia defines the term in this way:

cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas, or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.   So trying to get rid of one belief system and worldview that I've held onto for so long is a difficult thing. There is a lot of mental stress. A lot of ups and downs. And when you no longer have a support structure, it makes it even more difficult.

Hopefully if you are experiencing the same thing - whether you were a minister, or whether you were a christian for a number of years - this blog will help you as you struggle through the decision and finding a "new normal" in your life.

hockeyfan70

hockeyfan70

 

Secular Rage Quit Syndrome

The past few weeks, with the onset of Summer and seemingly aggravated like insects by climate change, many incidents of straight up assholery has permeated all manner of news. It could just be an intensely socially focused political season, but I still think we are animals in our behavior. This has been especially felt by me in the secular community, where activist networks have been tearing each other down.   Yes, I realize that this isn't new, but it seems more intensified. Maybe because many involved I've actually worked with, or have networks of close friends in common. Bottom line is that this rash outbreak of everybody raging has arrived on my doorstep.   I don't know if this is the Trump effect in action- considering any press good press, or if fellow writers and podcasters have just gone off the deep end the last few months with their need to reinterpret what secular, humanist, and atheist qualifications are. The amount of litmus testing made me wonder if anyone cares about being a rational family anymore.   Now before I go into a much needed venting on my part regarding all the audio and written dramas lately, I need to put out a little disclaimer for the sake of those affiliated with me. Lately a bad case of "guilty by association" has been passed around too. What I speak on is my personal opinion as the Bluegrass Skeptic blogger. This isn't anything to do with my friends, family, or podcast crew members. Don't worry though, I don't need to announce there might be triggers, butt hurt, or NDA's. And feelings shouldn't be hurt with what I want to express here, unless you seriously just want a fight. I highly recommend you take yourself out of the equation for the next few paragraphs while I express my thoughts on the matter. I also don't plan to name drop. If you want free press to show off divisive behavior, this woman won't be a platform to get it.   To the point of this article, these past few months we have all witnessed intensified animosities among members across many communities, but I have felt the hurt within the secular activist community most acutely. The drama of Reason Rally announcing rules for behavior and the fall out that ensued was terribly timed, as were some of the reactions by attendees to those who disagreed. My attitude at first was along the lines of allowing people to rage quit and continue on with what is planned. But then more incidents started pervading my news feed, my inbox, and chat conversations with friends and associates.   Lately, I feel like someone who has to pick a side within church politics. You know, that awful scenario where a pastor's direction for the congregation leads to a split, and no matter who you side with, you know you are going to lose part of your community you cherish due to requirements for allegiance and alienation of the dissenting party. Worse, your character is assassinated during the fall out by the party you didn't side with because there is no way you should have picked the side you picked. That proverbial line in the sand in many cases leaves bystanders like myself stuck in no man's land.   Fellow writers, bloggers, podcasters, activists, and listeners, this is atrocious and below our diverse secular communities standards. This type of emotional extortion for loyalty does not serve as a unifying tactic to elicit agreement or compromise. It's an exclusionary maneuver that rivals the community politics you find within the faith communities we work so hard to be a healthier alternative to.   Naively, at the beginning of this article I said I wouldn't name drop, but the RFR versus Godless in Dixie debacle is a bit too infamous to cloud in anonymous naming. I mean, it is a more followed soap opera in our community than Days of Our Lives at this point. You have money, deception, betrayal, power hungry interlopers, and NDA's supposedly layered so thick, I doubt anyone in the organization remembers if they are even allowed to say their organization's name any longer. 'Cause you know, the first rule of Fight Club and all that.   This situation is an upsetting issue to even bring up. I'm friends with members on both sides of the dispute, have had the depths of my allegiances questioned, have been assessed as to whether I should be allowed to remain in “the know”, and personally have been told I might be too much of a risk to keep connected within certain circles. This was very insulting, emotionally distressful, and downright wrong. I'd considered flipping that situation around completely and instead alienating all the parties involved for even attempting to elicit a choice of sides from me like that.   On one side, I have an organization offering services in a desperately needed sector of secular humanism – outreach for those struggling with religious programming. Recovering from such brainwashing is seriously taken for granted in the atheist community, and RFR is putting a louder voice to this issue's need for recognition.   On the other side of the table you have a very talented speaker and author who has lived through what RFR is trying to help individual's navigate: recovery after belief. GID is a positive public figure who puts in the flesh what many hide from the rest of the world. This is invaluable on so many levels for those unsure or hiding their disbelief.   This is a dream union in the making, right? Apparently not. Due to financial politics, and demands for allegiance within RFR's board, their rich pool of contributors and spokes people are splitting from one another. Regardless of what one did to the other, this partnership has made personal reputation and self-defense priority over larger goals which has caused a polarization in the secular and humanist communities overall in regards to supporting either party involved. Seeing hashtags followed by team RFR or GID is upsetting.   I am not waylaying the right to receive funding owed, or dismissing the demands for certain details to be kept private in order to preserve organizational credibility, but at what cost? Both sides have lost my own personal support on some levels because the bigger purpose of supporting ex-religious members has been overshadowed with cries for party allegiance. This is unacceptable.   Just a head's up to those involved, I won't be promoting anyone at this point and work with another organization who is trying to do what all of you have sidelined. It is true business is as usual from the front for the most part, but the toxicity of the back office has colored my desire for product. My only advice is take the initiative, any of you in that hot mess, and hash your shit out with arbitration. Not in public postings, podcasts, or any venue where those who are not direct parties to the conflict might be exposed to it. I am not saying exposing one another's misgivings and abuses should be hidden or completely unspoken. I am saying that average consumers have little need for such exposure to inner workings and as drops in funding have shown, it's detrimental to the long term goal of your organization: helping people.   When you focus on face saving, you don't save face. You don't help anyone involved, including all of us consumers out here. You just raise questions of credibility of the mission. And that makes us go elsewhere. In the public realm, even with those hanging on every non pertinent post about surprise podcast questioning to public shaming for defending one's reputation, we, the audience, do not care about personal drama. We just want to see the fruition of our support, which is effective outreach. Flame wars burn your fans more than those being targeted.   And on the topic of flame wars....   This past week I was catching up on a couple podcasts (imagine actually enjoying my medical leave for a few hours!), one of which that ended with me unsubscribing, hoping to never listen again. I rarely unsubscribe from shows I have in my daily line up over difference of opinion. I count on differences because perspective helps balance out my personal perceptions. But this was more than a difference of opinion I encountered, it was straight up character assassination, under the guise of doing me, the listener, a favor by revealing who the scumbag, bullying, cool kids are in the humanist activism community.   And if I didn't agree with this podcaster's determinations of people that he even declared he didn't know or wanted to know, then obviously I am part of the larger problem, being happily fed by these alleged scumbags on that which I want to hear. Essentially, my own character was being assassinated too, because by the podcaster's personal standards, I don't know what humanism truly is if I don't see things his way.   Can we not go down the Atheism + path again?   Don't misunderstand me, though. Like with RFR versus GID, I think you don't have to hide the issues, but presentation is important and should be thoughtfully planned. Have your differences, air them in a useful manner. When you refer to a long list of people with a long list of ad homs, focusing on how they are using their audiences, don't care about their audiences, dismiss their activism as not truly humanistic (no true Scotsman anybody?), and announce they are scumbags, and then have the audacity to brow beat the audience you claim to love if we don't share your view? You come across as a pastor emotionally bullying his congregation. Please take this kind of hypocrisy back to the church where it belongs.   One friend in particular made this scumbag list of bullies that are disingenuous and fame hungry. Again, the podcaster calling out my friend said he didn't know her and didn't want to. This doesn't make logical sense in the process of rational thinking. It's not a very humanistic one either. To decide that one person's opinion on a matter should be enough to dismiss that person in his/her entirety under the guise of practice being a “true humanist” is cognitive dissonance by the podcaster's own definition of what humanism is.   In the skeptic community, humanist community, and even the faith community, one would be hard pressed to not go a day without recognizing cognitive bias every half hour. We're wired that way thanks to our frontal lobe conflicting with our emotional primitive bits. Lost? Here's an example:   That podcast called my show stupid. Personally attacking me like that is not cool. Here is a list I made up of people that are scumbags and bullies. (This is not a literal quote.)   I understand this particular podcaster felt that other shows had different motives for success in activism. He also kept bringing up the money factor and how those who get larger amounts of money from supporters tend to drown out the small fries. Unfortunately his argumentation involved only ad hom, false cause, appeal to emotion, tu quoque, and appeals to an authority who couldn't be disclosed. There is a burden of proof to be met here for his claims. And frankly, when declaring that no true humanist would disagree with him? I felt like a personal standard of humanism was being applied to all. This podcaster was being as inflexible as the doctrine of Christ. You can't expect to be taken seriously when treating all parties involved (including your listening audience) as sheeple if they don't agree with your opinion. Anecdotal evidence does not a compelling argument make.   By the end of the podcast, after being told I am contributing to a larger problem (I guess fake humanism?), that a large majority of popular skeptic activists are using me and don't care (pot meet kettle, buddy) and that humanism doesn't allow for facetiousness, disingenuity, or excessive success, I realized humanism doesn't mean what this podcaster thinks it does.   Humanism doesn't need to be ruined with Atheism + standards. You don't have to be humble at all times to be a humanist. You don't have to forsake pride in what you do. You don't have to support members of your community that don't have the same standards as you, and you certainly do not have to sink to the depths of ego and personally slander those who don't agree with your standards. And most importantly you don't have to step up and be a champion of humanity at all times. And you certainly don't have to feel bad if there are certain areas of humanity you just aren't good at helping with. There are 7 billion more people in this world who are willing to help take the lead. You know what you can do though? You want to tout a badge of humanism, then stay above the levels you accuse others of instead of wallowing in it. This podcaster was rolling in the same mud puddle as the rest, but had the nerve to claim he wasn't in the mud puddle.   When you add personal bias to a standard in the proverbial line in the sand, and essentially condemn people if they don't come to your side, without rationally and fairly figuring out your own biases, you aren't just alienating your community, you are living in a very padded cell of personal apologetics while rationalizing away your illogical disagreements. When you start creating poorly founded and completely unrepresented standards to be considered in your personal network, you might as well go sit in a church pew.   I'm sick of these kinds of attacks among one another. Just because someone initiated it does not mean you go down to such an immature level. I watch everyday transwomen being booted out of feminist, women only groups because they aren't "women" yet in the genital department. I see leading role models like David Silverman reply caustically and without care for members who disagreed with Reason Rally's focus on LGBTQ and Trans issues, instead of being a leader and helping dissenters understand that standards have to be met to insure safety of all since even the secular community has major issues with sexism.   My own friends even practically turned on me on my birthday this week. I was telling some friends of mine yesterday over a lunch of sushi that I don't mind Donald Trump. You'd thought I'd signed up for the KKK and planned to work for Westboro Baptist Church. It took no less than half an hour of knee jerk name calling, heated assurances to calm down, and a barrage of degrading word salad before these two dear friends of mine came off the edge of incredulity.   No, I don't mind Trump.   I find his method of campaigning fascinating. I've read up on him over the past year and colorful doesn't begin to describe this guy. But he'll never get my support or admiration.   The simple fact that I didn't hate him, though, had almost turned my friends against me. Fortunately, they have a flexible appreciation for how perspective works. They admitted they don't know shit about Trump, don't want to and agreed that it's not fair to hold me to the same standards for not sharing the same vehemence against our orange faced Dr. Evil personified.   Inflexibility and doctrine purity (in this case humanism) is an alienating mix. This pick me or you're an ignorant skeptic type of demand doesn't make a community unite. It doesn't encourage us to re evaluate the party being opposed, but treat the one trying to divide as suspect. How about demonstrating directly how harm was caused by these “scumbags”? Could this podcaster explain whether I can be a scum bag or not if I haven't harmed anyone? What's the standard for being a scumbag anyway?   Presentation without cognitive dissonance coloring this podcaster's whine would turn the presentation in to a much needed talk about the real issue within humanity itself: hypocrisy and how much damage it causes when behaving no better than the supposedly fake podcasters you claim have attacked you. This type of behavior proves only one thing: You don't care about what you are trying to convey, or you would not duplicate the same scumbag behavior.   Stop the emotional violence. Instead of being sour grapes about others' seemingly atrocious behavior fueling their success, do something about it and not treat the ones you love, the audience, like pawns in games of popularity.   Personally? I want to take my ball and go home because these types of games aren't any fun. I just want my gang back, to feel part of a functional community of diverse like minded people. Differences are healthy. Disagreements do not have to divide us. Debasing one another is atrocious. Think of your family first and how compromise is a wonderful attribute to being secular. We're allowed to be flexible without surrendering our individuality, and I'll be damned if any group, or individual, will force me to conform, allow myself to be dismissed, or worse, abandon me.   Family doesn't do that. Gods do.
 

Make Bernie Great Again

Bernie Sanders has said that:   "I think the overwhelming majority of the American people know that we have got to stand together, that we're going to grow together, that we're going to survive together, and that if we start splintering, we're not going to succeed in a highly competitive international economy."   Bernie supporters, I ask you this honestly. How does one affect change when even the DNC is actively splitting apart its base with supposed corrupted delegate counts like that in Nevada this past week? Is Bernie Sanders in denial of the reality that is American politics right now? Are the GOP and DNC splintering and isn't this exactly what he was calling for not even a month ago when saying major DNC party members are part of the "establishment"?   How does one affect change if one fails to secure the nomination and goes to stand in support of the same problem that is being targeted by your campaign as too corrupt? You do not affect change in this manner.   Bernie Sanders has a huge following within the DNC base. As it stands today, he has an estimated 42% of the raw vote count, not talking super delegates here, just popular votes among Democratic voters. The reality of the actual delegate race (which I agree is ridiculously controlled by the party) though, makes it clear he will not be getting the delegates he needs. Super delegates will not bend to support him despite the wishes of their constituency. This reality is what made me hold back my enthusiasm for Sanders since he has made it abundantly clear he will unite with Hillary Clinton when push comes to shove.   I've often pointed out that Sanders, whether he realizes it or not, is a shill for Clinton's campaign. Before you quit reading this article, bristling at the way I am sounding dismissive of Sander's efforts, please understand I am not even going to approach that type of narrative. Hear me out.   There is only one reason why he is a shill for Clinton's campaign: he won't break away and run independently, and he isn't holding all parties to the election process accountable (which includes the voters). He has made it clear he will support Clinton if he loses the nomination. His inevitable endorsement of her will cause some of his supporters to swing her way. These will be supporters she wouldn't have normally received as his crowd is rife with first time and disaffected voters who feel they have finally found a candidate that wants to move this country forward from corrupt government's suffocating control of the populace's will. With all the apocalypse style headlines bombarding this group, they will back Clinton out of programmed fear that the United States will regress to a pre Suffrage Movement type of government if Republicans win the general election. I'll give my thoughts on this scenario later in this article.   Then you have those who self describe themselves as "Bernie or Bust" who will not cast a ballot for any candidate except Sanders. The number of voters with this mindset shouldn't be downplayed. It's nearly 25% of his supporters. Now, imagine if Bernie decided to go ahead and run independently. How many of his base would follow? I would wager more than that quarter, IF it is under the clear understanding it isn't because we want him to to become president.   This is where things might seem almost anarchist on my part and maybe it is. My political atheism is going to flame brightly here, and I really believe it has some merit. Whether you are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or feeling the Bern, you have to understand that we have to break our system. Let me put out a quote from George Washington's “Farewell Address to the American Nation” to frame my argument:   “.....With such powerful and obvious motives to union affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands. “   This first quote states the obvious. Any individual, any group, any government, any media, any nation, that would want to purposely weaken our unity as a republic should not be trusted. Whether the motivation is to push agenda, create a better economy, or better the lives of our people, if doing so requires alienation of the other, or worse, depriving voice and freedom to decide, we have to step back and recognize this is not how we do things at all. It is obvious that creating distrust, breaking the bands that join us together, and creating future generations of apathetic citizens in our wake, is exactly what President Washington is cautioning against. It's not always about influences from outside countries. We all have heard the saying that the ones closest to us can hurt you the most. And lately, it seems that has come true. This threatens the very bedrock of our nation's founding and future.   As a unified nation, it is hardly contested we get the job done the majority of the time. All corners of our country, while separated by state borders, still rely on one another. It takes all of us together, not a handful of states, to send aid to stricken countries. It takes all of us together to keep our populace safe, and protect our liberties not just from influencing powers abroad, but sadly from our self created oligarchy. To be clear, I am referring to unity as a people, not political parties. We the people, does not stand for "we the appointed bureaucrats", " we the corporate lobbyist", or "we the self appointed".   Sanders, as I had quoted earlier, pretty much touches on the same idea, but not to the extent that President Washington did. At this point, his campaign should be about about splitting up the corporate lap dog that the DNC has become, and more importantly, continuing to wake up his base to the fact their consistent lack of participation enabled a lot of the political misery we are enduring today.   To be American includes to be accountable, but not just holding everyone else accountable and standing clear of the consequences one helped enable to occur. This is the toxicity within our system we suffer from now, as we have essentially left all of our patriotism to be represented by parties and factions. This, again, is something that President Washington warned about, and I cannot help but share his cautioning before I go into why these parties need to be destroyed, or at the least, rendered powerless.   “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.   This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.” (George Washington, Farewell Address to the American Nation)   Yes, I said destroy, or at the least, render nearly powerless. I do not view parties as inherently evil, but it's plainly obvious that they cannot have the level of influence within our republic as we have allowed them to possess because parties are polarizing in the long run. I've yet to experience a party in my lifetime that doesn't utilize alienation and divisiveness among the very public of this country in order to accomplish specific agendas.

This is where I've been called a social terrorist, an anarchist, and an idiotic cunt, for my views a number of times because of the short-term consequences I think we as a nation deserve to endure. Many, like myself, who favor more progressive, humanistic, invested social policies, and funding, tend to lean towards the DNC. I will admit though, I am like Sanders and remain independent, because I am well aware of the less than unifying way the party goes about pursuing a handful of interests we share. This has left me feeling dirty the last ten years when casting a vote. I know that while my ballot that is cast for a levee to support a local health program was a good vote, it was also a form agreement to other issues I don't agree with continuing to be lobbied and pursued in separating tactics among my community. I wonder sometimes if it is worth the price tag, and more and more I am thinking it is not, unless we actually change the terms of the political process. Namely, break the system. I know I am not the only one watching the run up to election day feeling that shame, frustration, and motivation to change things. Many of us have watched the political side shows that are purported as primary elections. The incidents up in Chicago, Nevada, and other primary events have us wondering who to believe anymore.    
In a nutshell, it is you and I, dear reader, who have assembled a Frankenstein's monster of a political system. Our previous generations of Americans more than participated in this cobbling together of political gamesmanship too. The purported incidents of voter fraud we have watched blasted across every television, radio, and social media feed the past two election cycles show this is a systemic issue. But there is something about this broken process that no citizen is owning up to.   These conventions followed the rules. Sanders' campaign wanted the rules changed without following the rules to change the rules. Everyone is upset that such rules exist to begin with. That last sentence is key, by the way. Please don't focus on what Sanders did or didn't do wrong to dismiss the reality of what I am saying in that statement. All I can do is wonder how much more can Sanders' campaign be anymore polarizing? Sure, he is exposing ridiculously contrived rules designed to not exactly keep things clear and fair to the public, let alone actually reflect what the majority of the voter districts want (super delegates are a leash to control the general population's voice). Still, it cannot be ignored he is also failing to expose a bigger injustice: the failing of the citizenry to participate and understand what rules they are playing by before it comes time to elect.   Bernie needs to be made great again.   Pointing fingers and yelling “cheater, cheater!” isn't what makes this outspoken politician inspiring. It's his honesty, and he needs to be more honest with his supporters. Go ahead and show everyone the lopsided favoritism to be found in party politics. Expose the easily bought out politicians who offer contracts to their biggest super PAC contributors. Quit scapegoating corrupted politics and money as the only reasons why America is struggling. This nation's corruption is only a symptom of the larger issue of the electorate remaining complacent.   Let me go back to splitting up the parties for a moment though. For me, politically, the DNC plays just as dirty as the GOP when it comes to facing loss of control and platform purity. Like I stated earlier, I've not seen a political party system that does not put self serving interests above congruity. Change is merely a selling point, but not an actual practice when it comes to structure and control. Only in policy making do I give the DNC higher props than the GOP, and it's barely a few points above. Seeing the foul tactics that have been purported upon the DNC base, and the GOP base for that matter, means that Sanders' true calling isn't the presidency.   Yes, I said just said that. Presidency is not his calling.   It's busting up the system. It's breaking the monopoly like control that is being exercised over the voting constituency. It's the chance to exercise our power above and beyond the party leashes. This is Sanders' true mission if he were serious about bringing reform to Washington. He would be much more than another spoiler like Nader was. Sanders would be an authorized catalyst brought on by the American people to wake up a party, and maybe awaken the awareness of future generations of voters, that has fallen into the abysmal practices of bureaucratic mafia politics. The idea being he would be the start of a larger movement by other public servants, and local citizens, to break a few cogs in the political two party machine that is eating up our unity to further special interest gain.   Please don't misunderstand my vision here. Sanders is only a single man who isn't wearing the tweeds of unity all on his own. He gives us a face to connect with a larger ideology we all desire within our American dreams. Until the last few weeks of his struggling campaign (you can deny the mathematics all you want), he has been a speaker of thousands of voices of our disconnected population, somewhat neatly articulating what many of us want not just for our future policy wise, but also the path that requires us to travel away from the two party system that has slowly been tearing our brotherhood apart.   A unity between us as a people, not politics.   This is why Sanders needs to continue his campaign, and I am glad he hasn't resigned yet. I hope he finds motivation to break from the DNC if he loses the primary and continue on as a third candidate option. Could a Trump presidency be bad? Yes. Will nominations for the SCOTUS go to pot? Likely. Will women's right, feminism, racial equality, wage disparity, and healthcare get sidetracked? Quite possibly, and some of these issues will suffer more than others, even overlapping. I'm not trying to come from a position of privilege when I state this. This is something that troubles me deeply. What cost is too high for a long needed reshuffling of our political system that is already barely giving many disadvantaged minorities and workers minimal benefit anyway? That I cannot say, because I cannot speak from from one of those categories.   So, what is the benefit of throwing votes to Sanders? What would his garnering enough popular votes to create a third party recognize? Or worse, what would his further damning Clinton, and the DNC agendas, accomplish, besides set backs?   It sets a lifetime example of what the authority of what the American people can do to oligarchy that is overrunning their will. It demonstrates that yes, indeed, we have the power to give and take away said authority, even if it means some of us have to suffer in order to teach that lesson and help a system see we are seriously demanding it to straighten up its act. The GOP is nearly in the same boat right now with Donald Trump. I personally feel that Trump has been a very healthy disaster for the GOP in the long run. The party has lost control of its support base and is scattered within its congressional ranks thanks to Trump's securing the lead position in the nominations. Short of outright ignoring the very pronounced decision of its constituency, the GOP has zero options but to accept their agendas are about to become more moderate. Nearly a third of their party doesn't even know if they can identify as Republican anymore because of Trump's less than conservative views on many different platforms.   Now it is the DNC's turn to feel the same within their ranks with a leader like Sanders to help deal just as hard of a hit. While it is true the GOP will likely come out ahead this election season (numbers are not favoring Clinton), their candidate, and a good 2/3 of their party, support his less than conservative and openly compromising style of authority. Will he be a disaster in the area of foreign affairs? I have little doubt. Thankfully, he will have a large Rolodex of cabinet options to tap, and one thing Trump has never shied from is delegation. Knowing he is in the Oval Office still makes me wince though, but we survived Reagan, right?   To see party systems genuinely scattered is a valuable demonstration to the control we Americans hold over the powers that be in Congress. Instead of allowing ourselves to be bombarded with fear and propaganda about loss of guns, loss of privacy, loss of jobs, and keep allowing these parties to hold our processes at a virtual stand off for even more decades to come, we now tell them,”Here is the real apocalypse you have been worried about, Senators. You must rebuild and listen, or continue to be powerless. Even to our own short term detriment.”   And that is the final piece of this article I want to end with. Short-term and long-term detriment. Short-term would only be a few years to a decade. Long-term is a generation. To make this type of commitment is to be selfless and accept that this will be a generational change, and we might not reap benefits until my own generation sees retirement, or possibly longer. Somehow our nation has been sold on the idea that change happens quickly, painlessly, consequence free, and under the leadership of one man.   When you buck the system, causing necessary chaos to cause a re aligning of interests and purpose, sometimes those who are forced to restructure will purport fall out as a reason to never do such a thing again in order to stop one from realizing the long term benefit of the short term price. What we see being depicted as chaos within the party races right now is not that. It is a controlled burn, like you see with forest fires, to curb the direction of the flames engulfing the landscape.   You see, we are the controlled burn. A more vivid example would be imagining a fox hunt. We are the fox, stumbling in a panic through a forest of politically charged issues that are hounding us towards the glen where we will be caught by the awaiting party line voting agenda we have been carefully chased towards. We can feel the breath of disparity on our heels chasing us. We can smell the overbearing scent of degradation. And we can hear the trumpeting blasts of potential powerlessness in our ears as we are chased to the trap waiting for us in the perceived path to safety that all these outside divisive issues are doggedly running us towards. And the first few years in that political cage seems like the right choice, until you realize it was an orchestrated path to get us there to begin with by both factions of our political system. Then the fatal bullet of complacency ends it all for us, as we refuse to realize we enabled our entrapment to begin with. We become content in that cage, forever a victim of our own refusal to take a stand and bite back. Or, our fear to handle the consequences of tearing down what we allowed to be constructed around us to begin with.   Sanders brings about a need for selflessness, investment, and willingness to pay part of the price. Unfortunately, he needs to add on the price tag of what we owe as a nation and brotherhood, not only what we are owed by a construct we helped create. If he would do this, and break the system, the ensuing chaos would help put steps forward to not only end the monopoly in politics, but it would demonstrate what we have forgotten we have: authority.
 

Weight Loss Progress - 36 Kilos / 80 Pounds Down!

Today I clocked in 129.1 kilograms. That's about 284lbs for you yanks Now, I realise this is still fat as fuck, but I was at one point 165 kilograms so I'm pretty chuffed at the moment. I still have about another 29 kilos to go until I am anywhere near a healthy weight but at least I'm past the halfway mark. As it stands now, I am lighter than I have been in years. In fact I think when I first joined ex-c, I was probably about 10 kilos heavier than I am now, to help put it into perspective.   Anyways, I know I don't post often here anymore but I know I sometimes wonder how things are going with people. No one likes being left in suspense Anyways, I'll try to remember to post again soon to fill y'all in about how I am going. I'm hoping to be 100 kilos by january next year, but let's see how this pans out. I think it's possible, but I'll need to be disciplined. Anyways, that's it for now. Catch y'all later

JadedAtheist

JadedAtheist

 

Turning My Personal Calendar

The month of May is always tough for me due to past experiences that have come and gone. Two passings (my best friend 8 years ago, which began my deconversion, and my best four legged friend and furchild of 18 years, 5 years ago), several bad memories, and much in the way of strife usually plagues the month that saw my birth. I'll be turning 29 in about 13 days, and it seems like each year - my situation never gets better, or the odds continue to stack against me. Both are things I'm looking to change this year, with the hopes that it will help in multiple ways.   As stated earlier, it's been an extremely tough week, in what is usually a very tough month for me. Despite the fact my personal calendar turns over another year, several things make this month forgettable. I have decided, once again, to forgo medication after the therapy session that was required to continue additional treatment. My doctor has recommended that I get some FMLA papers, bring them in, and have those days available in case I need them. He also believes there is a strong connection between my physical health issues (heart palpitations and racing, unexplained aches and pains) and my stress, depression, and anxiety. While he doesn't condone my choice, he respects my decision and will be exploring other options.  
I just cannot go back to being a robot, it is not even one of those greater good things. My personality is dull enough anyhow and I have no problem evidently of alienating people and making new ones run for the hills. I don't need to add in the fact that while on medication, I look like a serial killer. And with therapy not being covered by my insurance, and my making too much money, it is out of the question as well. Doctor recommended that I find something to occupy my time so I don't spend as much time lost in my thoughts. Outside of my gym sessions which I plan to double down on, I'll be exploring other avenues that could potentially help tide me over until I can put my plan in motion to start over fresh somewhere. Several options have come and gone with no latch upon - and most of the options that are available in this area do not cater to single guys, unless they enjoy spending money. I work to make money to live with and on, but I'm a very frugal person.   This week however, has been strange in so many ways. After many sessions of talking, flirting, and general consensus of a future being pointed toward being together with someone - they decided after the weekend at the Comicon that we were just friends, nothing more. Which is fine, I'm not against this idea as I'd rather have someone in my life as a friend than not at all. However, despite it being finals weeks for her - all of my messages to her this week have gone unanswered, which is unusual. She historically had always at least taken a minute or so to wish me well on the day. I haven't even received that. So, now I'm left wondering what I did/didn't do or said/didn't say over the weekend that has brought this on. It's troubling to me because as I recall the entire weekend, I did my best to just be me. And being me is just someone who wants to make sure he has a great time while he is away and do what he can to make it an enjoyable weekend for all involved. That being said, I was not overbearing: I did not push her toward anything, nor did I insinuate anything. I tried to show my interest the best ways I could, but she refused most all of them. After a while, I just conceded to letting the weekend play itself out. She gave me a hug before we parted ways, and we've spoken once since that Sunday (in teamspeak, due to the fact we play in the same guild in our games).   Whatever the reason may be, the not knowing is what kills me. I'm the type of person who likes to try and make amends for the problems he has caused, to rectify and fix them as he can. I'm a fixer, it's just my personality. I fix people who have been through rough times, and they usually leave from my life once I have. But in the end, my friends are a lot of the reason why I'm still alive today. Had it not been for them, I would have taken my own life years ago. That's why in the case of this gal, I want to make things right with her if they have been wronged. I value all of my friends, just like I value the friends I've made through this site and over the years. All of you have made a positive impression in me in some way that has left me a better person for it. And one that is still breathing, because you all convinced me to not make that final curtain call.   I'm off now to continue my new workout, day 2 of a 3 day rotation that has been killer. Take care everyone.

Travi

Travi

 

My Favorite Mother's Day Recipe: Two Eggs, A Cup Of Milk, And A Dash Of Codependency

It's funny how many lessons we learned as children that we like to attribute to mom or dad. The respective holidays for our parents every year tends to make us all reflect a bit on their parenting skills when raising us, and it's nice to look back on thoughtful advice and recipes. You remember those heartfelt talks about life, parenting, education, or morality, and many of us out there treasure them. Some of us end up seeing those moments of advice and conversation as the bread crumbs that lead us to the players in our abusive childhoods that we didn't realize were participating in harming us. This discovery can discolor those childhood life lessons, or sometimes, make the message even stronger and more important to actually utilize.  
My own discovery of how much my mother participated in my abuse was not an easy one. She was always the martyr in our household; she would tolerate my father's belligerent, angry outbursts that would end with objects hurled across the house at walls and doors, verbally abusive words being shouted to tear her and I down, and sometimes his disappearing for a night or two. Seeing her constant struggle to keep him appeased gave me the impression that she was a saint. I would give her a pass when she would just lay on the couch all weekend sometimes, obviously depressed, and tell me to please "go outside and play".  
I would also give her a pass when she would tell me that my father would deal with me later when he got home from work. Which meant I would get the belt, and who knows what else, when she would recount the day's aggravation I had put her through. Sometimes it was just a threat, sometimes it was a malicious pay back because she understood how frightening this man was to me when angry. She knew how he easily would fly off the handle and rough me up physically beyond the normal standard of a simple swat on the rear end. Countless times she would step in while he was busy hitting me with his belt and screaming at me. "Stop, that's enough", she would say. Sometimes though, she would just stand in silence watching from the doorway to my room. So, she knew my anxiety of dealing with this man losing control while punishing me on her behalf was near torturous.  
But I always gave her a pass for this.  
I didn't understand that this behavior on her part was emotional abuse. I didn't understand that she was being a participant in the physical abuse I experienced, as well. I figured that people were supposed to lose control and give you both barrels of pain and admonishment for being a "bad" child. No one had ever said it was bad to punish your child. It never occurred to me that while the concept of punishment is okay, it's the method to punish that should be called into question. Instead, I grew up and even utilized her same mindset for a number of years: If you were bad, you got pain. And you deserved every minute of it.  
It took me until I was thirty-two years old to fully accept that I was the victim of not only my father's sick idea of structure and correctness, but also that my mother enabled him, not just because of codependency issues, but out of her own vicarious desires for me to be physically hurt, and purposely using him to do it.  
Don't get me wrong. Her blatant use of my father as a bully stick to frighten me, inflict retribution, and generally handle all the physical punishment is really just the tip of the iceberg of her terrible parenting moments. Long term, I would say that did the least amount of damage to me overall compared to the way I was programmed to respond to stressful situations and how I was taught to develop relationships. In a nutshell, she made me a rug for people to walk all over so that later I could use my pain as ammo to manipulate others to give me what I wanted. Admittedly, what I wanted from people in relationships was way below a healthy standard anyway as she didn't give me any sense of self worth, but I'm sure you all understand how martyr complexes work: one takes away the need to be responsible for life by scapegoating others as the reason for disappointment and failure.  
The codependency issues transferred to me too, but until the last four or five years, I was still in denial about being a victim of it, instead believing I was in total control of the abusive relationship I was currently in. Surely, I could just walk away and start over no problem. After all, I recognized the flags for codependency, and I was sure that because I was educated on what it was, and how to avoid it, then I could be in a potential situation for it and just walk away without issue.  
For those who have a vague idea of what codependency is, let me break it down for you. Essentially, you are in a relationship where one partner either enables or even supports the other partner's failures, immaturity, bad mental health, or even lack of responsibility.  
There was absolutely no way that I could ever become codependent.
It couldn't happen to me.
I was in control.  
The reality? I was codependent long before I ever left home as a child, and that is in large part thanks to my mother's own example of what a normal relationship should look like: tolerating abuse and only demanding accountability when it suited her needs. This general attitude has never wavered over the years. "If you are wronged in a relationship, you should have the advantage" was something she always demonstrated to me. Sometimes she even nearly said it outright when making statements about her relationship with my father letting me know that she could easily make it without him. I often heard this after he had angered her, was incredibly insensitive to her needs that day, and so on. But she would never since that meant she would tarnish her family image and make her readjust her priorities.  
She could have demanded the situation be remedied immediately to avoid future incidents. She could have insisted on a better standard of respect from my father. She could have taken control of her situation and never put herself in a relationship with an abusive partner again. Instead she stayed in for the long haul, and ultimately, I discovered that the reason why was because she wanted to be the more successful than of all her siblings, even if only in appearance. A divorce would fracture that thin veneer of superiority she had created which covered over all the cracks in her marriage.  
Ironically, she never instilled that desire for appearing successful in me. I was always a participant in making sure her life had that enviable sparkle, but my own future was never in the discussion. Anything I did was an enhancement for her, which is why I was never free to discuss family business if she weren't around for the conversation. This last bit of selfishness on her part is probably what ultimately saved me from going through my entire adult life being a codependent martyr at the expense of anyone I claimed to care for -- though sadly, I did end up that way for the first half of it.  
Her lack of desire to help form my future helped wake me up to the reality that I was doing a lot of the same things she had, but I didn't do it to look perfect to the outside world. I only did it to feel I had control, because if I had control, I had worth. And if someone wasn't willing to fight to keep you, then you weren't worth anything. Guilting my partners in order to keep them with me became a cancer to my relationship style. Even worse, due to my parents going out of their way to alienate family and friends, this guilting on my part served a double purpose: it gave me ammo to dismiss one from my life at the slightest provocation because of all the pain inflicted on me. I still struggle with that last section a lot.  
Emotional stress is still very difficult for me to process, so when I am attached to someone emotionally, and I perceive rejection, dissatisfaction, or any other emotional consequence from a relationship, I have an overwhelming desire to cut bait and run, and I try to bury the individual in all the fault of it. It's been a challenge, but I'm winning when it comes to recognizing that my urge to run has little to do with what the other person might be putting me through. I now have the awareness that it is my lack of ability to deal with level of stress that comes with partnerships. And point scoring is weeding out of my day to day life too. It has taken a lot of behavioral therapy to recognize when I am doing this, and I still have times I utterly fail.  
With all I've shared so far, it should be noted that I have nothing to do with my either of my parents. My mom took the longest to walk away from though. Like I said at the beginning of this article, it took me a long time to really comprehend the level of damage and general element of toxicity she had injected into my day to day living. Do I regret ever having had her as a mother? I do thanks to the fact that I didn't realize how damaged I was until I had already hurt my own children. So far, my kids have healed from it, but I know at least one of my children deals with codependency and martyr complex issues, and this child is floundering. I've tried to explain to my child that this misery is self-inflicted and unnecessary, that there is help out there, but right now, I can't get through. It's a horrible feeling to see a child behave this way, and I wonder how my mother was okay with seeing me do this and not want to fix it?  
It's a simple answer as to why: My mother used me for her own emotional gain.  
She might have taught me the basics of sewing, how to use a crock pot, and sang lullabies to me at night, but she also showed me how to manipulate, be unattached in relationships, and use abuse as a means to control a situation to get something I want. I think it would have been easier to Google the first three things she taught me so I would never had learned the latter and passed it on to my own children. I would rather have learned from an early age how to create positive situations where everyone I love benefit and grow, not remain within a repressive rut of failed relationships and alienated family.  
Now that I have reprogrammed my way of thinking to focus on bigger picture benefits, and understand that love is unconditional and selfless, I can't imagine demonstrating any other way of living. I try to live by this kind of mindset with my family, friends, and community whenever I can. The biggest benefit I discovered since walking away from my mother and programming has been that selflessness benefits everyone involved and breeds a more positive environment for success. Why would anyone want to continue living in survival mode, trying to subsist on scraps of respect and self worth? And why would one want to perpetuate this horrible cycle of relationship abuse if you know this isn't healthy?   Mothering isn't about being perfect. And it certainly isn't about making that child into someone. Robert Heinlein had once written that “being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” (Have Space Suit, Will Travel). This I completely agree with. I firmly believe I didn't have a mother, but a ring master for a personal circus. There are many moms out there who are like this, and if you meet a fellow alienated orphan, give them an extra tight hug today.                                          
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Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Bless the Lard, my brothers and sisters in Kryasst! I've gone back to church! Glory!   Not just any church, though. I've attended the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship twice now, and enjoyed it both times!   http://www.anchorageuuf.org/   There is no religion in the services, just very liberal and generic expressions of spirituality. The minister and a few other folks commented on my glorious "Praise the Lard" t-shirt today. They loved it!     There isn't any particular creed or statement of faith in the UU church, but there are seven Principles:   http://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles   Anyway, I'm finding myself perfectly happy at this church as an ex-Christian atheist. This church is deeply involved in social justice issues and other stuff that I'm very interested in getting involved in. And the people are all very friendly and welcoming. I attended a newcomer's luncheon today after the service, and the info I got there just made me feel more at home at this church. Thank you, Jesus! Glory!

Brother Jeff

Brother Jeff

 

Who Wrote The Books Of The New Testament? Part 1

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:

Romans (Paul)
1 Corinthians (Paul)
2 Corinthians (Paul)
Galatians (Paul)
Philippians (Paul)
1 Thessalonians (Paul)
Philemon (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.

hockeyfan70

hockeyfan70

 

What Makes People Think There Is A God?

What makes people think there is a God? My nonreligious father asked me that question a while back, and it has stuck with me. As a former fundamentalist Christian, I have a very religious past, and most of my relatives (whom I now generally have little contact with) are very religious. What made me believe? Well… it was a combination of things and a single reason would be hard to pin down. My mother is not religious but she believes in God. I had some interesting conversations about God and the Bible with religious neighbors when I was a teenager. I guess until my deconversion from Christianity in early 2000 I never really doubted the existence of God. And when I converted to Christianity in 1985 it was in large part because after reading Hebrews 4:12 out in my friend Mike’s car, I felt something come alive inside of me. Mike had been “witnessing” to me, telling me about Jesus, and I my attitude had shifted from “Get away from me with that Jesus shit” to thinking maybe there was something to this Jesus thing. That feeling I got in the car after reading that verse was important in my conversion, but so was seeing the “Jesus Film” shortly thereafter at a local Baptist church. I knew after I saw that film that I wanted what this Jesus had to offer, and even now as I write this the memory of that exciting time in my life softens my heart a bit yet again.   But what made me believe in God? And what made me believe specifically in the Christian God? I think because of my upbringing the default position for me was belief. I was raised United Methodist until I was ten years old. I asked then to stop going to church because I didn’t believe what they were teaching, but yet I returned in my early teens to go through the Confirmation process.   Most people in this nation believe in God. For them, the default position is belief because of their upbringing, whether they were raised in a religious home or not. The reason most people believe in the Christian God in the US is simply a matter of geography. Christianity is the dominant religion in this country and so most people believe in its god. There is, however, no evidence at all that the tribal war god of the ancient Jews actually exists, nor is there much evidence that Jesus ever actually lived if you really look into it. I am not one who claims that Jesus never lives as those folks are generally on the lunatic fringe of atheism, but their writings do provide a lot of food for thought.   They way from religious belief to atheism is one full of questions. Bit by bit you chip away at the religious teachings you once held as sacred and as each card in the proverbial house of cards falls down, the entire belief system eventually falls away. For me and for many of us who identify as ex-Christians, that is an intensely emotional time, and working through the emotional trauma of religious brainwashing and indoctrination that we realize we have been subjected to can take many years to resolve.   One big clue for me that God does not exist is the fact that he never thinks, says, or does anything at all except in the minds of believers. NEVER! And he never answers prayers or heals amputees. As comfortable as it is to believe in God, the fact is that he is imaginary!   One of my greatest fears in letting go of God was that life would lose its meaning and purpose. And for a while that was true. I had a hard time coming to grips with the reality of there being no god and no afterlife. Now I see it as tremendously freeing! We are here as a result of billions of years of biological evolution, not as the result of a magical act of a god that occurred just thousands of years ago. When we realize that this life is IT, then life becomes incredibly precious. Every moment must be lived. Savored. Enjoyed to the utmost! Every moment brings us closer to the end of our existence, but that is not reason to despair. It is reason to grab life by the horns and live it to the fullest! Let go of fear and LIVE! You will never get another chance to do it! Life is fabulous. Wonderful. Enthralling. Exciting. Magnificent. AWESOME!   Why do people believe in God? I recently watched a fascinating video on that subject. It is rare that I devote an hour of my time to watching a video on YouTube, but in this instance I am very glad that I did. Andy Thompson of American Atheists does an excellent job of laying out the scientific basis for why we believe in gods.    
It is actually not too big of a step to go from believing in the natural to believing in the supernatural because of how our brains work and systems already at work in our minds.   I posted this on Facebook for my friend and high school band director and I think it sums up my thoughts on God well:   My journey from devout religious belief to atheism has been a long and interesting one. I spent 15 years as a very devout fundamentalist Christian. I was the type who annoyed everybody. I wrote evangelistic letters to my family. I tried to convert my friends and co-workers. I handed out those ridiculous Chick tracts to convenience store clerks and toll booth operators. I was at church every time the doors opened, including early morning prayer meetings. I forced my beliefs on everybody all the time and though I meant well, I made a huge nuisance of myself. Despite all of that religious activity and belief, I still had questions that that seemed to have no good answers from my pastors or from the Christian apologists I read. Those questions finally built up to the point where I could no longer ignore them or write them off as coming from the devil.   In early 2000, I got on the Net as it existed back then and started researching my faith on both sides of the fence. I was absolutely stunned to find that the religious skeptics had far better answers than I had encountered from Christian apologists and I was also very surprised to see how easily they ripped my once cherished beliefs to shreds, not through ridicule but with facts. I started reading the skeptical side at www.infidels.org and went from there.   After I got over the shock of having my Christian worldview ripped out from under me, I became very very ANGRY! The fact that I was also very mentally ill at the time with not well controlled bipolar disorder didn’t help matters any. I felt foolish, used, and betrayed when I realized I had been intentionally lied to for 15 years and I had bought into it hook, line, and sinker.   What followed next was a swing to the other side of the religious spectrum and several years of outspoken atheism. I maintained a strongly anti-Christian website that had a few different incarnations and I regularly ridiculed the beliefs that I had once held sacred. It was not a happy time in my life, but it was a necessary part for me of processing an excruciatingly painful experience.   I have experimented with several different belief systems over the years since I left the Christian faith. Atheism still makes the most rational sense to me, but right now I would say I am agnostic. I DON’T KNOW if a god of any kind exists, but I strongly doubt it. There’s just no good evidence that he/she/it does. And the fact that God never thinks, says, or does anything at all except in the minds of believers speaks volumes to me.   I have found spiritual beliefs that have some meaning to me. I happen to really appreciate the wisdom that comes out of Hinduism and Buddhism. I can find good in all religions, but I don’t for a moment believe that any of them have a divine origin.   I am not at a place right now where I feel comfortable embracing belief. I sacrificed my brain at the altar of religion once when I was young and got hurt badly, and I will not ever make that mistake again.

Brother Jeff

Brother Jeff

 

Thanks For The Analogy, Rob.

This blog is taking a longer to update than I thought, I apologize for leaving you hanging.   I'm a huge Rob Bell fan. Even right now as I find myself drifting away from religion and faith. Rob was one of the few "famous" Christians who I felt really kind of understood that god couldn't be boxed in, couldn't be sold in a nice, neat package with easily digestible answers. He made me think about the Bible and faith in a way that no one, except perhaps for Brian McLaren, ever did.   For example, in his book Velvet Elvis, Rob talks about Jesus and his earliest disciples. He talks about how every Jewish boy aspired to be a rabbi, and their goal was to get into temple training so that they could learn under a famous rabbi and become on themselves one day. However, most Jewish boys failed at doing so; therefore, after "flunking" Jewish school, they would return to their home and do the other thing they were trained to do: follow in the footsteps of their father, learn his trade, and ultimately take over his business. When Jesus meets James and John, Andrew and Peter, guess what? They're fishermen. They have failed. And now they're doing their father's trade. And then here comes a rabbi who tells them to follow him. It says they "immediately" followed him. I always thought that it was just because the command of Jesus was so strong, that they felt compelled to go. Rob explains that Jesus was basically giving them another chance, that even though they flunked, they were being invited to fall under the teaching and training of a rabbi, the ultimate rabbi.   I thought that was amazing and really cool back then. I still kind of do now, even though my thinking has changed on the reliability of the gospels and the stories about Jesus.   It was Rob Bell that started me down the path of wondering about heaven and hell and was heaven reserved for only a few while the vast majority was going to a place of eternal torment and suffering for crimes committed in a very finite amount of time.   Rob got a lot of flack for the content of his book "Love Wins." People accused him of being a heretic, of being a universalist. His church came under fire, and I believe if I remember correctly, he felt compelled to leave because of all the controversy. I thought it was ridiculous for two reasons: one, Rob was only theorizing. He was asking "what if" questions. He wasn't making factual claims. His main premise was "If God loves everyone, shouldn't love win in the end? For everyone?" Two, I get tired of seeing Christians jump on the "he's a heretic, burn all heretics" bandwagon. I appreciate that Rob Bell is willing to look at all sides of belief, not just the sides we are comfortable with or grew up with or make for a nice and neat package.   I remember reading a scathing review of Love Wins where the author of the review admitted that he hadn't even read the book yet. He was relying on what he heard from other people about it. Ridiculous.   Although this was probably the pinnacle of controversy, he has always had some modicum of contention with "traditional" Christian way of thinking. Even his first book "Velvet Elvis" had some points of conflict with people.   I'm thankful for Rob, because he has paved the way for rational thought and looking at christianity with a different, new lens.   I'm also thankful because his book Velvet Elvis gave me the idea for this blog.   He equates belief in Jesus like a trampoline. That the springs are the certain beliefs that people have about Christianity. His point was a good one - if one of those beliefs was proven to be true, and one of the springs was removed, would your faith be able to stand? For example, if someone proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth didn't happen, would your faith completely collapse or would it just be one spring that would be removed but the trampoline would still work?   I look at it a little differently.   I will agree with his metaphor about Christianity being like a trampoline. Only I would change what each part of the trampoline would represent.   I would say that the frame of the trampoline would be the beliefs within Christianity that there is no evidence for, that you have to just accept it by faith.   But the actual mat that you stand on (and hopefully jump on, I mean we are talking about a trampoline) isn't faith, it's the Bible itself. After all, isn't that where Christians get their faith? Isn't it the Bible that is the guide to the Christian life?   I don't know how many times when someone asked me about the churches I was a minister at, they would also ask if it was a "Bible believing" church. The Bible is everything to a Christian.   So what happens if we start removing the springs that hold up the Bible as the authority in a Christian's life, as the instruction book for how to live a good Christian life? What if we don't worry about the stuff that Christians believe that can't be proven, the stuff that a Christian can say you have to have faith in for it to be possible, and worry about what can be disproven?   The Bible is full of contradictions, of inconsistencies. It is full of confusion and of errors. Christians claim that it is the "inspired" word of God and that the writers of the books within it were divinely controlled. However, when four Gospel writers can't even agree on what happened when it comes to events involving Jesus, how can this be true?   One example (which I will talk about at great length when we start examining things): both Matthew and Luke give a genealogy of Jesus. Yet the genealogies differ. I've known this for a long time. But the explanation that has always been given is that Matthew is the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph (which doesn't make sense in the first place because Joseph isn't technically the father of Jesus according to Christians) and that Luke is his genealogy through Mary. I've heard preachers say that several times. Guess what? It isn't true. IT ISN'T TRUE. They are both going through Joseph. So why is that preachers say something that isn't true?   Is it intentional? Do most preachers know that what they are saying is B.S. but they know that the facts may cause doubt in the mind of their flock, and so they give this incorrect information?   Is it unintentional? Is it in an apologetics book that every minister has read, and so they are just passing on this fallacy without actually looking into it?   I'm hoping it's the latter, but I also know way too many preachers. And religion is often used to control others' thoughts and beliefs. To keep everyone in line.   More to that example at a later time.   The goal of this blog is to examine the springs of this trampoline. I may be accused of having a bias now that I doubt Christianity is the "one true religion." Believe me, I want it to be true! I was a Christian for 35 years. I was a minister for over 20 years. However, I don't think the Bible can hold up under the weight of scrutiny. To examine what the Bible says, who wrote it - hopefully from a non-biased perspective - is what I want to do.   Because I don't want this blog to be seen as a constant attack on Christianity and the Bible, I will make sure to give the Bible credit where it is due. I won't just bring up everything I research that is wrong with it, I will also give examples of where it is correct.   But I believe that taking out the springs that hold the Bible up in a Christian's mind (and heart I guess), we will be left with an unusable trampoline. The framework may still be there (unprovable doctrine and beliefs that there is no evidence of and have to be accepted in faith), but the "love letter" (full of verses that talk about killing man, woman and children and of eternal punishment) that was supposedly given to us by a divine being, the jumping mat of the trampoline, the very reason why a trampoline exists, will be unusable.   I hope you join me on this journey. Let's start removing the springs together.   (also found at www.christianityisatrampoline.blogspot.com)

hockeyfan70

hockeyfan70

 

The Tears Beyond The Veil

For more about me, see my introduction here: From a Fellow Sojourner.
Lately I've been going through a real sense of mourning, like the loss of a dearly loved one. However, no one has died. I'm 65 years old and in relatively good health. I imagine I may live another 10 to 20+ years. I have no sense of dying soon. My wife, whom I love dearly, is 50.We've been married since 1989. Part of my grief is in grieving for her, having to live 10 to 30+ years without me when I do die. And then she will never see me again. I don' t dare let her see me crying because then she'd want to know why. Since she still sees herself as a Christian, with the accompanying belief in heaven and hell, what would I tell her? Anything that I would say to her would only grieve her.
Another large part of my grief is the loss of my sense of an after life. The thought that when I die, then I'm gone, that is all there is. Forever gone. That is a hard and bitter pill to swallow. In some ways, much better to have a delusion that after I die I go to heaven and am reunited with all of my loved ones. But, now that my eyes have been opened, I can't go back to that delusion. That's a painful transition, to have traveled beyond that veil.
Another thing equaly painful is that I have no one here to talk to about how I'm feeling. If I were to say any of this to my wife, she'd be distressed about me. If I were to talk to any of my "christian" friends about this, they'd try to "correct" my thinking, of quote Bible verses at me to "bring me back" into the fold. I don't need to be fixed. I just need a place to let down, to cry, to be real without someone trying to fix me.

StephenW

StephenW