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.
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.
Half laying, half sitting here in the cargo bay of my vehicle - I am exhausted. Insomnia struck at an inopportune time last night. An hour of sleep for six hours of picket duty in the back of my SUV. Fatigue sets in and sleep threatens to overtake me. Still three and a half hours to go, and time is going no quicker than five minutes ago. While the bay floor isn't as comfortable as my bed, it is the right position for what my body needs: rest.
The stress of the last few weeks has really taken a toll on my health. Heart palpitations occur almost daily, mainly when taking deep breaths, and yawning - with the feelings ranging from about to beat out of my chest, to barely feeling it, to the pit of my stomach, to the top of my throat. Between my car wreck on the 14th, to having this current vehicle bought, and dealing with the wants to get my plan in motion - exhaustion is a commonplace occurrence. I hate it. The feelings of being drained, lethargic, and listless. I'm sure I've shaved a few years off my life during this time, and it soon becomes a legit question of just how many lives I have left and just a sobering thought about how we can literally be one breath away from death at any given moment.
I think of all the times I have brushed with death in some form or way, and I'm either extremely lucky or just shielded in some way. Clinically, I have been dead four times in my life and there are many other times I probably should have been, but yet - I am still here somehow. While I am by no means invincible, I definitely have a survival instinct that rivals very few I would imagine. And no matter how tired I get, how exhausted I am, or how many times I feel like all is lost, life manages to throw me enough line to keep me fighting: Be it in the form of life event, circumstance change, or someone who comes into my life that needs me to be strong for them - something, or someone, is always there to remind me that I am still needed.
And sometimes all it takes is a sweet voice, lovely smile, wonderful personality, and beautiful vestige to prove it to me. All of this coming in thought while I lay on the floor of a SUV cargo bay. Life is weird.
I have tried a number of times over the years to explain to people who have never walked the path from Christian –> ex-Christian –> Atheist what that journey is like and what it means to me and to others like me. It is not an easy path to travel at all. The journey from devout Christian religious belief back to the real world is one filled with doubts and questions and a great deal of strong emotion. As I explained it to my high school band director a couple of years ago or so:
Having doubts and questions about religious beliefs is normal if you are a reasonably intelligent thinking person, but in fundamentalist religion, doubting and questioning is strongly discouraged. Just pray about it and have more faith, we are told, and God will take care of it. Sounds nice, except for the fact that it isn’t true. For Christians who want answers to their questions, a whole industry of apologetics has come into being over the past few decades. For some Christians, the answers given by Christian apologists may be enough to keep them in the faith. For others like me, the answers were not satisfying. They did not resolve my doubts or my questions, so inevitably, I went looking elsewhere and found good answers that made sense to me from the place that I least expected it at the time — from the skeptical side of the fence.
I can’t speak for everyone who has made the journey from devout Christian belief to Atheism. But I can share my own personal story and what my journey was like.
I was raised United Methodist until I was ten years old. At that time, I asked my parents if I could stop attending church because I didn’t believe what they were teaching. Since we attended church mostly for social reasons anyway, they agreed. For reasons that I cannot recall now, I was back at that church when I was in my early teens for the Confirmation process. I didn’t think much about religion after that until we moved across town and I got into some interesting religious conversations with my new fundamentalist Christian neighbors. I was a teenager at the time, and Bob and Roxanne were nice people. I discussed religion with them a lot and even attended church with them at least once, but at the time religion just didn’t “take” with me. I became a typical teenage party animal and was totally turned off by religion. A few years later when I was in college, I met a guy named Mike who was a devout Christian. He shared his faith with me and I gradually became more receptive to it. Mike finally got me out to his car to read some Bible verses, and when we read Hebrews 4:12 I felt something stir inside of me, and I thought maybe there really was something to this “Jesus” stuff. Shortly after that, I went to a public showing of the Jesus Film put on by a local Baptist church. I was extremely moved by the movie, and I knew by the time that film was over that I wanted what this Jesus had to offer, and I became a Christian on March 7, 1985. My transformation from a typical teenage party animal to a devout fundamentalist Christian was rapid and dramatic. I stopped drinking and using drugs and threw myself totally and enthusiastically into my new-found faith. I made friends with the music director at the local Baptist church, and I hung out a lot with my friend Mike. We engaged in a whole lot of religious activity and talked about how wonderful and awesome Jesus was all the time. Mike introduced me tho the popular Christian music of the time, and I fell in love with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith and particularly with Keith Green. I loved Keith Green’s music and his strong and uncompromising approach to the Christian faith. I wanted to see him in concert badly, and when Mike informed me that he was dead (plane crash in 1982), I was devastated. Shortly after my conversion, my mother bought me a nice Bible and she arranged for me to attend East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, TX. I arrived there expecting a church-like atmosphere and students who were just as devout as I was. What I found was indeed a religious school, but my fellow students, for the most part, were just typical young adults who happened to have religious beliefs. That was, I suppose, the beginning of my disillusionment and questioning. While I was at ETBU, I began to have serious doubts about my faith. I can remember a friend of mine there using his wallet as an evangelism tool. He tried to assure me that Christianity was for real and that once I was saved that was a done deal that I could never lose.
We did not know it at that time, but I had bipolar disorder that was not diagnosed and so was untreated. What began at ETBU was a cycle of swings between devout religious belief and periods of doubt and unbelief featuring severe substance abuse that I would be trapped in for 15 years of my life. I had a great time at ETBU while I was religious. I was able to put my doubts and questions aside enough that I could keep the faith, at least for a while. I had a great time traveling across the border to Louisiana for Christian concerts featuring the stars of the time. I particularly remember seeing a band called Cruse 2 and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. Mylon’s music was awesome and I loved the sincerity with which he delivered his message. I jammed for Jesus to their music for years! Back home near Houston, TX I went with my friend Mike to see Michael W. Smith and Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart. I had some really fun times in my younger Christian days! Here’s just a sample of his music from back in those days. I still love the music, though I no longer believe the message.
I had my first bout of doubt and unbelief while I was at ETBU and I started drinking and using drugs again — at a Christian school! Needless to say, they were not happy with me, and they kicked me out after the first summer semester of 1986. If I remember correctly, it was officially an academic suspension because I was not doing well in my classes.
Back home in the Brazosport area of Texas, I soon found a really fun church — Church on the Rock in Brazoria, TX. It was located several miles out of town on Hwy 521. It was a very fun place as churches go. I made friends with the pastor and other leaders of the church, and loved the Charismatic-style praise and worship services, and for a while I participated in the praise and worship choir. I sang solos frequently, and when I could manage to drag my young body out of bed early enough, I attended the 6:00 am prayer meetings. At that time, I was engaging in a great deal of religious activity. I prayed a lot, I worshiped for hours daily, I read my Bible frequently, and I told everyone who would listen about Jesus. I also frequently handed out those Chick tracts, which I thought were an awesome evangelism tool at the time. But even with all of that religious activity, doubts were creeping in. I suppose I could never see the connection between my cherished religious beliefs and the real world, and I know now of course, that that is because there is no connection between religious belief and the real world. I never read anything in the Bible that made me question my beliefs because at that time I had not been exposed to much of the Old Testament, other than scripture that was supposed to be about Jesus. I remember at one early morning prayer meeting, I was so filled with doubt and unbelief that my friend Mike had to pray me through to belief again so that I could enjoy the rest of the prayer meeting. I guess I found it hard to believe in God at 6:00 am in the morning. There was also a time during one particular praise and worship service that I was so filled with doubts about the reality of it all that I couldn’t enjoy the service, but everybody else was experiencing a “powerful move of God”, as if we were getting a small taste of what Heaven would be like. Everyone else was awed by how awesome God was, but I felt nothing. I remember testifying later in that service about how I had missed out on the blessing of the awesome worship service, but that God had blessed me anyway. I don’t remember now how I thought God had blessed me or what I said, though. That church was fun. We had slogans for each year such as “Storm the Gate in ’88” and “Draw the Line in ’89”. A few times, the pastor allowed me to spend the night at the church. I played Christian music through their awesome sound system and prayed and worshiped and sought God all night long. At the time, it was an awesome experience, and I was grateful that the pastor trusted me enough to leave me alone in his church all night.
By the time the early 1990’s rolled around, I was working for my mother at her travel agency in Lake Jackson, TX and I had found a new church that I also enjoyed — Brazosport Christian Center. I made friends with the pastor there too, and I sang solos there as well, though not as frequently as I had at Church on the Rock. I made many good friends at both churches, and we all had a great time hanging out together. In 1992, I had the opportunity to perform one of my favorite songs at the time, Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again” at the Brazosport College Follies. I still have the video of that performance:
The next several years I was still a believer, but I was not nearly as religious as I had been when I was a bit younger. But I still believed in God and I still believed that the Bible was His Word. But by early 2000, my doubts and questions had built up to the point that I could no longer write them off to tricks of the devil, and I was not getting good answers from Christian apologists. As I related earlier, I got on the Net as it existed in early 2000, and went looking for information that was critical of the Bible and the Christian religion. I honestly was not expecting to find much. After all, the Bible was the inerrant, infallible Word of God, so what could really be said against it that was valid? I stumbled across http://www.infidels.organd I quickly began to get an education. I found my cherished Christian religious beliefs brought into serious question and basically debunked not with ridicule or derision but with solid evidence and facts. I soon also discovered http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net and my education continued. The author of that site unemotionally but thoroughly debunked the Bible and showed it for what it really is — a collection of ancient religious mythology, most of which was written anonymously. I became aware for the first time that Adam and Eve were not real historical people but rather they were part of an ancient creation myth that makes no sense to modern minds when taken literally. I learned that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are pure mythology. I was exposed to parts of the Old Testament that I had never laid eyes on before, and I learned that on numerous occasions that God had either ordered or directly committed mass murder and genocide. I began to learn that the character of the God of the Bible is not loving as I had been taught. I learned about failed prophecy in the Bible, and that was a shocker at the time because I had been told that fulfilled prophecy was a proof that God had inspired the Bible and that Jesus was the Messiah. I learned many things that brought the beliefs that I had held as Christian into very serious doubt. When I looked into what Jews had to say about Jesus, I was shocked again at how easily they proved from their own scriptures and religious beliefs and traditions that Jesus was not their long-awaited Messiah. I learned also that the two contradictory creation myths found in the book of Genesis have no scientific basis, that the Noah’s Ark story was borrowed from the much earlier Epic of Gilgamesh, the Exodus event never happened, that the events depicted in the Tower of Babel story is not how different languages came into being, and much more. I learned about the hundreds of meaningful contradictions contained in the Bible, which are graphically illustrated here. I learned about the atrocities in the Bible and also about the absurdities in the Bible, many of which I now find hilarious. For example, the book of Leviticus makes the claim that insects have four legs (Leviticus 11:20) and Psalms makes the claim that snails melt (Psalm 58:8). The Bible also clearly teaches a flat earth (see Isaiah 40:22 and Daniel 4:11 and Matthew 4:8), and the first chapter of the book of Genesis depicts a solid dome firmament (Genesis 1:7) with the stars stuck in it covering our flat world, which is supported by pillars (I Sam. 2:8).
While I was discovering all of these things and processing this new knowledge, I had some strong emotions to deal with. I became very, very angry that I had been sold a pack of ancient myths and lies for 15 years of my life and that I had mistook them for Divine Truth. I was rapidly losing my belief in God and I was realizing that Jesus was not and could not have been God in the flesh. He did not rise from the dead and he was not alive forevermore in heaven. Losing religious faith is a very painful and very emotional process. I didn’t just wake up and decide one day that I no longer believed in God and that I was no longer a Christian. It was a process that took months, and once I was no longer a believer, processing the anger and rage and betrayal that I felt for having years of my younger life stolen from me by a cult took several years to process, and it was not helped by the fact that I was dealing with serious mental illness at the time. It took a lot of research and a lot of time and a lot of thought for me to make the journey from devout Christian religious belief to atheism and the real world.
Leaving the Christian faith and becoming an ex-Christian does not automatically mean becoming an atheist, though that’s what it meant for me. Many former Christians find other faiths that they are happy with. I no longer find the Bible believable as the “word” of a God and my beliefs about Jesus have changed from “He was and is God in the flesh” to the much more realistic and mainstream among serious Bible scholars “he was an ancient Jewish apocalyptic preacher” who was the historical person behind the myths we find about him in the Bible.
There are five stages of grief that are generally recognized as valid, and I had to go through every single one of them as a part of losing my religious faith. I wrote about it recently on the http://www.ex-christian.netforums and I’ll re-post it here for your consideration. I apologize for the overlap and repeat of some of what I have already had to say.
The first stage of loss/grief is Denial and Isolation. I can’t really say I was in denial for very long about there being serious problems with my faith, but when I first started looking for information that was critical of the Bible, I honestly didn’t expect to find much! After all, the Bible was the Word of God, so what could unbelievers really have to say about it that would mean anything? I seriously roll my eyes now that I was once so uneducated and so naive, but I guess we all have to start somewhere. I believed that the Bible was the “inerrant, infallible Word of God” for many years because I was told that it was by people that I trusted at the time to tell me the truth. I had never actually read the vast majority of the Bible for myself, but the inerrancy of scripture was a major doctrine and for a long time I accepted it with little, if any, questioning. I was even quite impressed at the time with apologists such as Grant Jeffrey, whom I thought did a glorious job of defending the Bible as God’s Word. Anyway, when I came across sites such as www.infidels.org and www.rejectionofpascalswager.net I was shocked to discover how easily the Bible and my once-cherished Christian beliefs were ripped to shreds, and it was done not through ridicule, but with good evidence, the latest biblical scholarship, and verifiable facts. I can’t say that I was in much denial about what I was discovering because what I was discovering about the Bible I was also discovering that Christians couldn’t logically or rationally or factually refute, but I did isolate myself a lot. I spent hours on the internet with my glorious 56k modem connection, reading and researching and learning everything I could that was true and factual about the Bible and the Christian religion.
The second stage of loss/grief is Anger. After I got over the initial shock of discovering that the Bible was absolutely not inerrant or infallible, that it contained many ancient myths, and that it was definitely not authored by God, I became very, very ANGRY. All I could feel for quite a while when I thought about religion was ANGER and BLISTERING RAGE!!! Back around 2002, I put my first “Religion is Bullshit” website online, and with webmaster Dave’s glorious suggestion to turn it into a blog (those were new at the time), it ended up becoming quite popular. I ran that site until August of 2004, and much of what I posted reflected the DEEP RAGE that I felt for being lied to, brainwashed, indoctrinated, and severely psychologically damaged for 15 years of my life. I was ANGRY that I had wasted so many of my younger years trying to please a nonexistent god who never gave me any feedback, and that I had wasted so much time and emotional energy worrying about sin and worrying about whether I was really saved or not, and about my family and friends going to hell. And, once I realized the morally reprehensible nature of the concept of Hell, I was shocked with myself that I had ever bought in to such a demented and evil concept as being for real and that I had thought my loving God would send anyone there, much less my family and friends, all of whom were and are good people. The flip side of my anger about Hell was anger and deep disappointment that Heaven was not for real. I was so mentally ill at the time and I was so looking forward to that wonderful place where God would wipe away all of my suffering and tears, and I would live forever with Him in eternal joy, happiness, and total bliss. And then… I realized that it was all just an ancient myth. That realization was extremely difficult to accept, and I stayed angry about it for a long time. And, of course, letting go of belief in God was extremely difficult too. I was very ANGRY that God was not actually real and that I had spent so many years of my life loving and worshiping a nonexistent being. Then, once I became aware of the many atrocities in the Old Testament that portray God repeatedly ordering or directly committing mass murder and genocide, I was ANGRY that I had been taught that God was Love, and that I had believed it so strongly for so long. There is no way now that I can accept the God of the Bible as loving, given what I know about the Old Testament, and even how he is portrayed in the New Testament. In Acts 5, God murders two people simply for lying to him about their finances, and if the book of Revelation were to come true in our modern world, billions of non-Christian people would die horribly and then be sent to an eternal hell to be tormented endlessly without any hope of reprieve, forever. This is a loving God? I don’t think so… And what about Jesus? I trusted him as my loving Lord and Savior for years! I never once thought about the fact that it was him who introduced the morally reprehensible concept of Hell to scripture, and I never once heard in church about how Jesus said we had to literally hate our families to truly be his disciples (Luke 14:26), and I certainly never heard that he ordered those who refused to follow him to be killed in front of him (Luke 19:27). And what about hacking off body parts that cause you to sin (Matthew 5)? Sure, I read that many times, but with my Jesus Goggles firmly in place, and I never gave it much, if any, critical thought.
The third stage of loss/grief is Bargaining. I can’t really say that I did a lot of bargaining, but I did still desperately want God to real and for Jesus to really be real and Alive in Heaven forevermore. I am sure that I did some bargaining in the form of prayer, asking God to prove Himself to me in a way that would be undeniable. Of course, he never did…
The fourth stage of loss/grief is Depression. I did indeed experience a great deal of depression when I realized that the Bible was mostly ancient myth and legend, that there is no God and that the God depicted within the pages of the Bible was not good or loving, and that there was no heaven wonderful beyond description waiting for me after I died. Depression and anger, at least for me, were two sides of the same coin, and I spent years flipping between them. Some of that, of course, was due to my bipolar illness, but a lot of it was a normal part of working through the loss of my God and my once-cherished religious beliefs.
The fifth and final stage of loss/grief is Acceptance. This is largely where I am now, and I bless the Lard mightily for it! Glory! When I write about religion here or on my glorious website or on Facebook, I do still often write with great passion and emotion, and sometimes I take trips back to the Anger phase of loss/grief, but I always end up coming back pretty quickly to Acceptance once I had done my writing and had my say. I have come to accept the fact that there very likely is no God and that there very likely is no afterlife waiting for us after we die. We just simply cease to exist, in all likelihood, and I am at peace with that probable reality now. Knowing that life is incredible and amazing and fun — but TEMPORARY — has given me reason to wring every last bit of happiness and joy and fun out of it that I can in the HERE and NOW! It has given me reason to show my loved ones how much I care about them NOW! I enjoy my life IMMENSELY with no religious or spiritual beliefs and no reference to God. It took me many years to work through the stages of loss/grief to finally arrive at Acceptance. I stayed ANGRY for years. But now, I am completely and gloriously FREE of religion! I am absolutely FREE of all religious fears! I am free to be ME and to enjoy the one life I have on this earth FULLY, with nothing held back and with no worries about pissing Jesus off or angering his father (who is also somehow magically Him). I don’t have much money and right now I am just beginning to work on building my health coaching career, but I am HAPPY, and I feel extremely grateful to webmaster Dave for creating this glorious site (his blog and these glorious forums), and I feel extremely grateful to have so many online friends here who share the bond of having left religious belief behind in favor of the REAL WORLD and who love me and accept me exactly as I am!
I am not really that angry about the years that I spent as a Christian believer now. Yes, I wish that things could have been different, but I think we all have some regrets in life once we have lived long enough. I am quite happy now as an ex-Christian atheist, and I firmly believe that the best approach to life is facing the real world exactly as it is — as brutal as that can be at times — instead of hiding from it through religious belief. Even the hardest blows in life, such as the deaths of loved ones — should be faced head on. There very likely is no afterlife waiting on us after we die. When people die, they really die and are gone forever. That’s why it is so important to spend as much time as we can with those we love and to grab every moment of life where we are here to enjoy it!
I apologize if this post has seemed rambling and somewhat disjointed. That’s a natural result of trying to cover thirty years of life and changing beliefs and thought and research in one post that is reasonable in length. But I hope I have conveyed at least to some extent what it is like to travel the road from Christianity –> ex-Christian –> Atheist, and to some extent why I am no longer a Christian believer..
For those who may be interested, I wrote a book in 2013 on my experiences with religion and bipolar disorder. I am happy to make it freely available to my readers.
Bipolar Religiosity - Bipolar Disorder and My Religious Experience.pdf
I hope this post has been helpful to those who have not been in our shoes to make the journey from Christianity to Atheism. It can be hard to understand the life experiences of people who have lived through things that you have never had to experience. Trying to explain mental illness is difficult to relate to someone who has never had experience with it. In the same way, explaining the journey from religious belief to the lack of it can be difficult to relate, but I hope I have succeeded here at least to some degree.
I am extremely happy now and I enjoy life immensely with no reference to God or to any religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever. I find the real world exactly as it really is interesting, exciting, and enthralling. Life is amazing and fun and very enjoyable indeed, but it is not permanent. It is a very precious thing because it is temporary and impermanent. Enjoy this life while you have it. There is no good evidence that there is another one waiting for us on the other side of the grave.
This glorious article is on the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, which of course, is absolutely crucial to the Christian religion. In simple terms, it is the claim that one man’s sacrifice paid the price for the sins of many and satisfied the judgment and justice of God. But, is this doctrine actually true, does it make sense and, separated from its religious context, how should it be viewed by modern 21st Century people?
I firmly believed for 15 years of my life that Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for my sins against God when he died on the cross some 2000 year ago. And, of course, I believed that his resurrection assured me of an eternal life in Heaven with him. I accepted this Christian “history” as factual for many years, but by the time I reached the age of 34 in late 1999, I had many doubts and many questions about my faith that I could no longer conveniently write off as coming from the devil. I got on the Net as it was in early 2000 and went looking for information critical of the Bible and the Christian religion. I was on an honest search for answers, since what I was hearing from the popular Christian apologists of the day wasn’t satisfying me at all. I came across sites such as http://www.infidels.org and http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/ and, of course, http://www.exchristian.net. The rest, as they say, is history. It wasn’t long before I was free of the fundamentalist Christian cult, but I was left with psychological and emotional baggage that would take years to process and work through.
I have had fourteen years to think about and learn about the Christian religion and Christian doctrine from a non-believing atheist perspective, but it has only been recently that I have really seriously thought about the central Christian doctrine of substitutionary atonement. My conclusions are that it is a barbaric doctrine by today’s moral standards, and that in addition to that, it doesn’t make logical, rational sense.
Christians believe that there is one God who expresses himself in three separate but equally divine Persons — the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. This attribute of God is commonly known as the doctrine of the Trinity, but even it doesn’t make rational sense and is difficult for Christians to explain, except through bad and very loose analogies such as the three physical states of water. As they explain it liquid water, steam, and ice are all water though they exist as water in different forms. In the same way, the three members of the Trinity are all God, in different forms.
But, at any rate, the reasons that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement no longer makes sense to me are that is barbaric, it doesn’t make sense that the death of one man can pay the penalty for the wrongdoing (sin) of another, and the doctrine of the Trinity — which is absurd in and of itself — makes the doctrine of substitutionary atonement absurd.
Let’s consider the sacrifice Jesus supposedly made in light of modern standards of morality. According to the Christian story, Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1, 1:14), and he came to this earth to teach us who God is and then, as Christians believe was prophesied centuries earlier in the Old Testament starting with Genesis 3:15, he was beaten and died an excruciatingly painful death on a Roman cross. This act, supposedly, was to pay the penalty for the sins of all of mankind and to satisfy the judgment and justice of God. This all sounded wonderful beyond measure to me for many years. I was awed that Jesus loved me so much that he was willing to go through the kind of pain and suffering that he is depicted as enduring in the Gospels and to die for me. The thought that “I am so bad and so evil and so depraved that I killed Jesus” never once crossed my mind. I was just awed by what I saw at the time as an incredibly amazing act of divine love. But now… I see it as simply barbaric. Consider the flogging and crucifixion of Jesus as it is so graphically depicted in Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ.
According to the Christian story, Jesus was beaten and crucified to pay the penalty for our sins, and at least in churches that I attended, we were made to believe that Jesus had us personally in mind when he endured this brutal suffering and death 2000 years ago. But… it is an act of brutal barbarism that no longer makes sense to me. Supposedly, Jesus was God in the flesh, so God was sacrificing Himself to Himself to save us from Himself. The absurdity of that reality aside for the moment, how does the brutal beating and death of one man, Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago have any bearing on any of us living today? What meaning did it really have for those living even at that time? It no longer makes sense to me that one man can pay the penalty for the wrongdoing (sin) of another. And really, for an all-loving and all-knowing God, is the brutal beating and crucifixion and sacrifice of Himself to Himself as his one and only begotten Son the best way he could think of to deal with the problem of sin and to absolve us of them? This doctrine may have made perfect sense to the Bronze Age minds of men living 2000 years ago in a world much more brutal than our own, but to the modern 21st Century mind, when it is stripped of its religious context, it is simply brutal, and it makes no rational sense.
When I hear the story of the brutal beating and crucifixion of Jesus now, I no longer feel awe or thankfulness or even guilt or shame. All I feel, quite honestly, is horror and disgust that such a brutal and barbaric doctrine is at the heart of an ancient religion that still dominates Western thought and culture in our modern 21st Century world.
Christopher Hitchens on the subject of Vicarious Redemption
At the coaxing of friends and my fiancé, I’ve begun watching the hit series Game of Thrones. It’s intriguing, fascinating, complex and deliciously reckless. Essentially, the plots are all intertwined culminating around families who are all striving to be kings and queens of various territories. It’s magnificently written and brilliantly acted, which could be why it’s so popular across all age groups. But, what exactly is it about this series that has captured so many people’s attention for the past five years since it first aired?
As I sat last night, watching season two come to a close, it dawned on me that perhaps in the west, we just don’t have a sense of what it means to honor much of anything, anymore. We have passion and drive, but not the type of passion and drive our ancestors had many moons ago, when fighting for their freedoms, or the right to vote because it was so paramount to their very existence. It would seem that what we fight about these days, deals with political correctness and trying not of offend someone. I can’t imagine waking each day, having to pledge an allegiance to a particular king or queen, or I’d be liable for treason and potentially put to death. I can’t imagine having to marry a man I barely know, as to carry on my family’s good name and reputation. I can’t imagine having such little freedom as a woman, centuries ago, and most likely I would have been beaten and tossed aside like garbage, if I didn’t perform my wifely ‘duties.’ Yes, we still have everyday struggles, but not those kinds of struggles, thankfully.
Despite the violence, cruelty and disregard for human life that is illustrated throughout Game of Thrones, it has captivated us for some reason. What reason is that? I’m thinking it’s because the characters of this series didn’t live entitled lives. They had to fight for what they had, and even if they were given a kingdom passed down from generation to generation, they still found themselves having to defend it. It wasn’t like today, where we elect Presidents, and they remain in power for four years at a time. There weren’t ‘terms’ back then, rather anyone could overthrow the king, and take the kingdom as his own, if he had enough strength, and a powerful enough army backing him.
So, would you die to defend your honor? To defend your family’s honor? To defend your siblings, or your significant other? What is honor and is it worth fighting for, in and of itself? Would you protect your family at all costs, even if it meant hurting those outside of your family?
These are questions I find myself asking as I watch the various characters come and go from the series, and I’m only on season three! Lol It is by far, one of the most riveting series I’ve ever watched, and for me at least, it enthralls me because my life looks nothing like it. And yet, the characters all struggle with the very same things we do, today – family strife, gossip, slander, libel, war, famine, depression, feeling unwanted, power struggles, politics, and so on. The only difference, today… we don’t carry swords, but instead…carry guns. Each character is complicated, and as the story unfolds, you realize that for some of them, their ruthlessness makes sense. Not excusable, but makes sense. Humankind hasn’t changed much over the centuries, we are still quite selfish and self-seeking, and this show depicts a raw savage nature that seems to exist in all of us, perhaps. The desire to survive, and for some, at all costs.
April 24th begins season 6 and I’m on season three, now. The plot thickens as the feuds continue, secrets mount, promises get broken, and new alliances form. Not unlike the world in which we live today…well, just without the White Walkers.
To see this blog out in the webernet, go to www.christianityisatrampoline.blogspot.com -
Welcome to my blog "Christianity Is A Trampoline." Before I tell you why I chose this name, let me briefly tell you about myself so that you can understand a little bit about who I am and why I chose to start this blog up.
I am an ex-pastor. (You can find that out by looking at my name on the blog ha.) I was in the ministry for over twenty years. I have served in two different roles at church: youth ministry and worship ministry.
My journey away from the church has been a long process; however it was precipitated by several key events and experiences.
1. My Own "Sin."
I have screwed up. A lot. I have done some good things. But I have also done some bad things. And I think it's only fair to start there. That one of the reasons I've stepped away from church and ministry is because of my own shortcomings. For awhile, I had convinced myself that one of the proofs against the existence of a god was the fact that I was sinning as a pastor and getting away with stuff and nothing was happening to me. Well, then things happened and there were consequences. So is part of this blog due to the fact that I don't feel I have a place in ministry or the church because of what I've done and how people see me? Perhaps. It's certainly a catalyst for where I am now.
2. Church History.
Let's face it. The Church doesn't have the best track record, the cleanest sheet. Just go to the library, pick a book about any era since the Church was started, and you will find some really crazy crap that will make you uneasy about church leadership, about the foolishness of ignorant people who obey orders from "on high", and the past, present and future of the "body of christ." Where should I start?
The Crusades? The Inquisition? Witch Trials and Burnings? Catholic vs. Protestant Wars? Christian Slave Trade? Rwanda? Clergy Sexual Abuse and Pedophilia? Westboro Baptist Church? Donald Trump? (I kid. Kinda.)
I know Christianity has done some good things. You don't have to remind me of that. I'm just saying, how can we look at the above things and not feel absolutely awful? If you're a Christian, how can you say that any of those things above are acceptable? I couldn't stomach it any longer.
3. My Own History With Church.
I grew up in the church. I was heavily involved in "youth group." I went to Bible College. I was in ministry for over twenty years. I know a lot about what goes on. I've been on staff in several churches. Churches are screwed up. And I'm not saying that I haven't participated in some of those screwed up things. But I at least can see through it. Here, in very general terms, are some things that I've experienced.
- I had a family member who had a deadly disease who was shunned by the church. - I myself had a disease while I was on staff, and everyone thought I was faking it to get sympathy. - I have worked with senior ministers whose philosophy is "my way or the highway." - I have seen church decisions made solely on the selfishness of leadership rather than what is best for the church. - I have seen church politics rule over the teachings of Jesus. - I have seen a senior minister decide not to market to a community because it was poor and he felt that the church didn't need any poor people. - I was let go from a church for wrong assumptions and when I was promised that it wouldn't happen again, it happened again. - I have had church leaders tell confidential things about me to other people. - Church leadership only values people based on what they can get out of them, not on who they are. - When I was going through a major family crisis, I received no support from leadership.
You may be saying "whaaa, put on some big boy pants and deal with it." I did deal with it. I'm looking back now and seeing all these things. I became rather critical of Church (not my own individual church, the church in general), and was told that I shouldn't look at the bad things that happen, that it isn't helpful. That it was obvious that I hated the church. I always responded that it showed I loved the church because I didn't want it to be left where it is. That it had so much potential if only it could get its head out of its arse and go back to the actual teachings of Jesus. I don't believe that anymore, but I did at the time.
4. The Bible.
This is the one I want to focus on with my blog. I won't talk much about this at this time, because since it is my focus, there's a lot more to say, but let me just mention this: I know the Bible really well. I've memorized a lot of it. And even knowing the Bible well, my eyes were still blinded to several things.
- I didn't see the very obvious and blatant contradictions and inconsistencies in Scripture. Where the Gospels would tell the same story in two, three or four different ways. Where one letter from supposedly "Paul" would say one thing, and another letter would say another thing.
- I had read about the history of how the Bible was put together, but I guess I didn't pay too much attention, because there are a lot of crazy things that happened when it came to choosing what books of the Bible were allowed in.
- We have copies of copies of copies of copies of scripture. We don't have any original texts. The Gospels were written 30-60 years after the life of Jesus. Some manuscripts have verses missing. Some have verses added.
- Translations have taken the "original" Bible texts and have twisted them to say what they want the Bible to say.
- Archeology has supported some of the Bible; in other ways, archeology has completely destroyed some of the history of what the Bible says supposedly happened. (Examples, mass exodus of Israelites out of Egypt; Herod killing all Jewish babies under the age of two to wipe out the Messiah.)
Is it hard to be an ex-pastor? To be an ex-Christian? It sure is. In the deconversion process, there is a definite sense of loss. I didn't just lose my job. I lost my career. I lost my support structure (or what is supposed to be the support structure). I lost my community. I lost the deity I would go to in times of sadness, or in hard times. I feel alone sometimes.
But there have been some really good things. I have gained new friends. I have a few friends who have started this journey already and have been patient with me. I feel a sense of freedom. It's weird: I fear death less now than I did when I was a Christian. Maybe because I'm becoming unafraid of the fear of punishment. That it makes me want to do whatever I can here on earth to improve this place for my family, for the generations after me. I'm not content to wait for an infinite future where everything will be wonderful. I want to make wonderful now.
I hope you take this journey with me. If you are a Christian, I hope you can read what I have to say with open eyes. I'm not here to deconvert anyone. I am simply just presenting evidence. If what I have to say is unconvincing, that's fine with me. If you still believe even after what I show when it comes to the Bible, it's ok. You have every right to worship whoever you want to. I only hope you will be civil about it.
Thanks for reading this. Next I will be talking about how a Christian author has inspired this blog.
It's amazing how much time you come up with when work doesn't occupy 8-12 hours of it a day. Since my union voted to go on strike last Saturday, this has been the longest week I've experienced in a while. The final "real" paycheck came in Friday, now it's living off the less-than-minimum-wage of $200.00/week until people go broke, or the union gets what they want.
I say the union because I voted against a strike. Zealotry in a cause ended a long time ago when I left Christianity, and that zeal uses up a lot of energy that I wish I could have back from all those years. It has earned me err in my union "brothers and sisters", but that's the beauty of my job: I'm not your brother, and there is nothing that says I have to be friends with any of you. I am there for a paycheck to support myself, and nothing more. I'd rather go back to work Monday, but unfortunately - that zealotry is running high with people and the clouded minds will overpower the clear thinking individuals. Sounds strangely like religion no? Too many people absorbing the BS at face value turning them into fanatics, and next thing you know - you're causing division in the ranks because you hate me due to the fact I don't think like you do. Such a sad state of affairs.
As a believer of pragmatism, I find a lot of opposition in how I think. That's fine, opposite thought processes have long made the world go round. But when it comes to you calling me a fool for wanting to see both sides of the story instead of the often embellished tale that people are fed from one argument, the ignorance is in the one who will believe everything they hear and see. I was raised with the advice of: "Believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see."
So for now, since we'll likely be on strike for a while - I've turned to putting together my plans for post contract vote. As it stands, I am looking to get my debts paid off within the next couple years, stockpile some money, then put my two weeks in - and start anew somewhere. Where? Not sure yet. That will come later. Even if it is just switching jobs, I feel like a change of scenery and attitude toward things in general may do me some good. If I decide to pack it up and move somewhere, I'll figure it out when that bridge gets here. For now, I focus on trying to improve myself and catching up on sleep.
Because when you have nothing but time at the moment, what else can you do?
I think back to when I first joined ex-christian, and it was a great day. I felt so resolved about departing from Christianity, and when I ''concluded'' that atheism was the logical next step, I felt immensely free. It wasn't until a little over a year ago, that I began to question my atheism. On a logical front, atheism is a very practical approach to life. It's a worldview that doesn't support belief systems that have no substantial evidence to support them. But, I always felt a little flat as an atheist, from an emotional perspective. I've talked about those feelings with a few people from this forum, and it's not an uncommon feeling when one departs from a religion, that largely defined us at one time.
But, I came back to faith last year, and it's been roughly 6 months since my return. I've gone to church a few times, but have abandoned the Catholic faith, which is the religion I was raised in during my childhood. This time, my faith is different. Christianity is different to me, this time. Maybe because I walked away from it, I feel like it's a choice to believe now, as opposed to a feeling of obligatory acceptance since I was indoctrinated into the faith as a kid. I'd classify myself as a non-denominational Christian now, and just strive to follow Jesus. I read the Bible, again...out of choice. Out of desire to learn about a faith that I don't think I really understood, for most of my life. That is why I'm writing this blog, it certainly isn't to convert anyone ''back'' to Christianity. I'm not really much of an outspoken evangelist, but rather enjoy just sharing what returning to faith has meant to me in my life. No one converts anyone else, if someone is drawn back to faith...or away from it, even...it must be a choice from within themselves to do so. But, I think it's important to leave any faith/religion, for the right reasons. Looking back a few years ago when I left Christianity, I was in a vulnerable place in my life and my faith was hollow, it seemed. I went through the motions of being a 'good Christian girl' but those motions didn't have much behind them. Having had an experience of faith last year, it changed my perspective on God, and what He has come to mean in my life.
I've often said 'stay true to you,' both offline and online...and it was advice given to me by my grandmother, a few years ago before she passed away. And what she meant by that was whether you are an atheist or not, you must follow what makes the most sense to your mind...and also, your heart. We are not merely logical creatures, we are also emotional. I can honestly say, I've stayed true to myself, and for me, that means following Christ. For others, that means following another set of beliefs, or no beliefs at all. It is vital to underscore the value of staying true to yourself, because in that...you will be set free. I thought I was free as an atheist, but I was only free from a dysfunctional way of viewing Christianity. I had left a faith that I didn't fully understand, and now I do. Or, at least I understand it...on my own terms, now.
Stay true to your own ideals, convictions, and beliefs. The path that led me here, was slightly long and winding. I came to a point last year, where I resigned myself to atheism. But there are people in life who are natural seekers...and I found myself always seeking something, even though I identified as an atheist. Atheism isn't exactly a choice, but it's rather a conclusion that one comes to, but at the same time, one has to be content with atheism in order to stop seeking. I guess I was never content in it...and whether that is viewed as right or wrong, no longer matters to me. There is a sense of peace in my life now, that I didn't have as a Christian before I initially decconverted, nor when I was an atheist. It is very challenging to struggle with one's belief system, and feel that you are lost in a world that tries to categorize you as an atheist, or agnostic, or religious zealot. But, the beauty of where I am now, is that I don't hold any label at all. I had someone ask me recently, 'what kind of a Christian are you?' I explained that I just wish to follow Jesus, and they sort of gave me a blank look.
We do love labels in our culture. People like to define us, but it's up to you, to define your own life. Anyway, I'm rambling, but just wanted to share an update of where I'm at since returning to faith.
I really want to insert one of those perv emojis, but I won't. lol
Comparing Traditional Christianity with My Sense of Reality [reality defined as “what seems ‘real’ to me”.]
I have created a chart contrasting side by side many of beliefs of Traditional Christianity with what I consider to be more realistic. I could not get the chart to show nicely here, so, to see the chart go to the page on my website here: Comparing Christian Beliefs With My Sense of Reality
This chart is not finished, and I plan on continuing to work on it as I have time, but it is useful now.
For many years I have been transitioning into a new paradigm, a new way of thinking and acting in life. I have found it increasingly difficult to explain where my thinking is at in this stage of my life. For example, when I say that I no longer believe in hell, most Christians have a hard time relating or understanding. Modern Christianity is largely based on the concept of hell. if that is taken away, then what is Christianity, or religion, all about? I’ve been writing for years on my website www.live-anew.com , mainly to clarify my thinking to myself. Finally an idea has come to me to make this chart as a comparison of where I used to be (and what I think Christianity largely believes) and where I am at now, which I call an Alternate Paradigm.
Paradigm: which would include the basic assumptions, values, goals, beliefs, expectations, theories and knowledge that a community has about. NOTE: I make no claims as to the rightness of my paradigm, this is merely what makes sense to me. The Traditional Christian Paradigm makes no sense to me. How could I have every believed that? How could anyone really believe that?
One thing that I notice about myself is that whenever I consider writing a blog, such as this, for a particular point of view (i.e. ex-Christian) there is that part of me that wants to write it in such a way to "be acceptable" from people of that particular belief-system. So, since I'm aware of that about myself, I'm hestitant to write this blog, because it is part of this ex-christian website.
However, my analytical side says "No!. I won't write anything just to be accepted by anyone. I will only write what seems real and true to me." This is one reason that I do most of my writing on my own blog/website www.live-anew.com. I have no one to please but myself. I just write what seems reasonable or true to me.
I don't see the people in the Christian belief system, or other belief systems, as intricately evil. I would assume that most of the people involved in any responsible belief system are trying to do what they think is right. However, I think that many of them are misled or living under a delusion, as I once was. Consequently, I don't judge or condemn them.
I write this mainly as a reminder to myself to write fair and balanced articles.
The past couple weeks I've had a feeling of impending doom.
To handle it, I've done reading on subjects I haven't touched before, tried to think of things from a new point of view. My body has been telling me something with the pain it feels, but I had a hard time grasping it. More and more doctors' check-ups, I always get "ok", "normal", "very good", "nothing alarming" except for my bite. And my teeth aren't even in pain.
A few days ago the veil started to open when I found some texts that resonated with me.
Ironically enough, the thing I had a hard time grasping is that I dissociate.
Not in the United States Of Tara way (love that TV show, btw). But this is what I mean:
I often have more than one inner monologue (and always an inner music) and sometimes the inner monologues start arguing and I freeze up, unable to function - this happened all the time when I was badly depressed. On different days, apparently unrelated to hormones, the same things are great or not an option at all, including what to wear - from super feminine, covered in floral print and lace and with curled hair, to wishing I still had my brothers' old clothes. My eyes cry tears without me feeling particularly sad. My mouth laughs without me feeling particularly amused. I constantly talk to myself when I'm alone, and I'm finding myself compelled to talk out loud when I'm alone in public as well. The other day I was just arriving home and somehow, I yelled "JINGLE BELLS!" at my front door. I'm also super compelled to do glossolalia now that I don't believe it has a divine meaning anymore, and will whisper out a few nonsensical "words" now and then.
I've also dissociated away from a LOT of memories. They are there as images that don't make me feel a thing but they pop out to disturb my trail of thought. Sometimes I get muscle jerks when that happens. I can talk about what happens in them with a straight face, and if it's in front of someone, I must remind myself to not look like I'm telling a story about why did the chicken cross the road.
I can also stop feeling a thing, physically, during a stressful situation. Sometimes it's kind of weird what I find a "stressful situation". It's particularly disturbing if it happens with intimacy.
Man I wish I could get to therapy now.
I cried for a couple hours over this. It was both really sad and also a weight off me because I finally understood.
I e-mailed a physiotherapist about whether she'd teach me TRE. It sounds like something I really could use right now. I can't try to learn it alone because I'm much too clumsy and would likely just get hurt. Hopefully she won't charge awfully much.
Going to be a fun night on political issues. The esteemed Alan M. Gold, funny man Joe Dixon, and my opinionated self will be having a discussion of the 2016 elections, issues surrounding it, and how we see the impact of the years to come with a new president from our current selection of terrible options. Catch it tonight!
Bible Stories Few Read to the Bitter End, Episode 4: Lot, Biblical Proof of PT SD.
Copeland and Robertson say PTSD is not biblical, but the story of Lot begs to differ. I also bring up Sarah Palin's demonizing of combat vets suffering from PTSD, and share some tips and networks if you or a loved one needs help dealing with PTSD.
What is Ignosticism? Well as it turns out that's a mildly ironic question.
So there's Atheism, which is non-belief and/or positive reinforcement of the proposition that there is no deity/ies.
Then there's Agnosticism, which is certainty that there is no evidence for or against deity/ies, with two common variants being a strong and weak Agnosticism, where weak believes there may be evidence for one or the other at some point, and strong Agnosticism being certain in uncertainty of the deity question.
Theism is then the belief in deity/ies.
And so there seems to be a general understanding that the god question is itself valid and mutually understood and that therefore under these terms and conditions, a genuine debate on the merits of one view or another is possible.
Ignosticism says no, not quite. With the word/s "deity/ies" there is an accepted definition attached to such term. This term is then used in the questioning of the belief in the god/s proposition. But is this term truly understood in the capacity it must be understood in so as to allow the debate on the merit of belief in the existence of the being the term defines? Or is this term fraught with such failures and misunderstandings and the impossibility of even basic definition that a meaningful debate is therefore impossible, and therefore any proposition concerning deity/ies also equally fallacious?
Ignostics would answer, the term god is difficult. Let's begin by looking at how Merriam-Webster defines it...
Okay now let's look at the first definition of the term "God." It consists of perfection and being all-powerful, and as a creator of the material reality we by definition all agree to recognize as such.
Perfection is a tricky term altogether as well.
Which perfection are we talking about? This gets even more tricky when you look at all-powerful...
Once again, which definition will we be using, and why?
Okay. Now we're getting somewhere. But let's assume by the first (and not only) definition of "god." If perfection is inherent, then we need a more precise definition of perfection. What makes something perfect? (This is a debate you'd have to have with Aristotle and Plato)
And if this being (is it a being, or is it something else entirely?) is perfect, and all powerful, then what restrains it's almighty powers from creating or maintaining perfection or saintliness? And the material reality that is the core of the assumption also needs examination. There is a whole academic debate between Idealists and Materialists that have gone on for eons. But let's assume the more Materialist perspective and assume Natural Laws govern reality and that this reality is both material and immanent. Then how can a perfect being spawn something new, an aberration, if it is already perfect. Was it not a perfect being before reality came into being? And if it maintains almighty powers then would it not necessitate a perfect world? If not is the being perfect? If it restrains its powers then how can it be perfectly powerful?
See what Ignostics are saying? It is almost pointless to even have a debate on the deity/ies question because the terms used to frame it are problematic, and by their very nature and the philosophies surrounding it all, always will be. Even theologians have difficulty with the terms and definitions and usage.
Ignosticism isn't belief or nonbelief or uncertainty of belief. It is certainty in the inability of language to convey the proper terms necessary to even have the question and the debate resulting from said question.
sources: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/creator http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/almighty http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perfection http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god
I finally figured out how blog posts work, so I guess I'll start it off with an introspective post about my past year.
2014 was really hopeless for me, I had to drop out of school completely and was pushing towards saving up so I could move out of my parents house. I'm not out to my parents, and I don't mean religiously, they know about that. I mean actually out to them as a gay guy. It was a really, really stressful time for me. I wanted to be able to figure things out for myself more but was so afraid to push it because I was worried they would find out if I was too obvious. My dad is getting more southern by the day, and honestly I am terrified of every coming out to him. By the beginning of 2015 I was in a decent job, and all I did was work. For the first half of the year all I did was wash dogs, muck out kennels and deal with my super temperamental boss. I wasn't planning on moving until December, but in January I realized how depressed I was getting.
I'd always told myself I would go back to therapy if I was suicidal. I didn't this year, we had too little money and the only ones around were the religious ones I had seen previously. When I was on campus, I had been seeing a therapist who worked there. It was free, and he was also the head of the LGBT department. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have solidified a lot of stuff about my gender and sexuality. But I wasn't allowed to see him anymore once I left school. I ended up just throwing myself into my work even more to cope, and hung on to moving in August or July as desperately as I could.
I finally planned on moving as early in July as I could so I could find a job by August (I moved to a college town, and that's when all the students would be back by). I put off telling my dad as long as I could, because he didn't want me to move in with the people I moved in with. Which hurt, a lot. They weren't terrible people, I've known them for years. But my friend is a lesbian and her brother is a single guy, both of which my parents were 100% not down with me moving in with. My dad told me my parents wouldn't be supporting me at all, which I had already figured and was the main reason I was saving so aggressively. It wasn't until the week before I moved that my mom told me (casually in conversation as though we'd already talked about it) that it also meant my family wouldn't be visiting me. As much grief as my family has caused me, I still love them dearly. Especially my siblings. It tore me apart and I cried the whole morning while I worked. I hadn't even been able to discuss it with my mom because when she dropped me off at work she had started crying about me moving and I'd had to comfort her. That was really the final nail in the coffin for my good relationship with my family. We've spent the rest of the year trying to fix it, but it's still a patchwork and will never be what it was.
When I finally moved, it was such a relief. I got a job about a month after I landed and I've had it since then. It's slow sometimes and I don't get all the hours I need, but I've been able to improve as an artist enough to help out some during those times. I love my friends, and I love my apartment, and I honestly love my job.
I have plans to start beauty school, which aren't going exactly to plan, but I'm still getting there.
2015 was exhausting. I don't think I've ever worked that hard in my life. I've cried so much over the last year, but I'm finally somewhere I'm happy. I even got to see an old friend at the end of the year, and just had to say goodbye today. 2015 was very, very full and painful. But it got me so many good places by the end. I intend on working just as hard in 2016. I'm starting school, working towards something that I want more than anything I've ever wanted, and I might even have chances to feature my art publicly. I'm sure I'll cry a lot more this year, but I cry about everything. I'm really looking forward to where things will go.
I tried to do a 40 question survey about 2015, but I couldn't answer most of the questions. It seems I don't remember much about individual months. What happened in April? Heck if I know. June, that's when we went to a rock concert. I think we swam in the sea a lot at some point. July? August?
I do remember January for ending up on this website. I knew I was agnostic but I was a mess. The support I got was amazing.
At some point last year, I realised there's no reason for me to make a point about "not knowing" whether there is a god. It's much simpler to say I'm atheist - there's no belief in gods to be found in me, but if there ever is actual evidence, I'll change my mind. Yes, that's it.
It seems I remember being tired, working hard, sleeping, and wanting to sleep. I'm so ready for my screening for sleep disorders next week. I want to feel awake.
Did the obligatory reminiscence yesterday afternoon while I tried to sleep and realized how uneventful 2015 was outside of a few major events. I essentially tried to break out of my introvert shell on a couple occasions, meeting with mixed results. A lot of it depended on context of event and when and where it took place.
January: I rang in 2015 alone at home while recovering from the car wreck that was still fresh on my mind and body, the effects of the concussions making life miserably and hellish. Worse yet, I was missing my girlfriend (now ex) who had decided to visit family, a decision that I did not mind. However, being injured with a minor brain injury really made me depressed and I found myself in tears on most nights. I made it back to work for a day and a half before the effects of my concussion became all the more apparent. Wound up burning close to a week of vacation while I finished recovering. This entire time, I still was without any contact with the gal I loved. I was beginning to get a little concerned. I managed to make it back to work, made a few arrangements to finish the repairs of her truck and oversaw a lot of the things plaguing her, finding solutions and making the adjustments needed for her to find a clear view. It seemed to work.
February: This month started rather well, having got many things situated in my life and hers. I was looking at moving, but was set back due to dealing with the aftermath of my car wreck. Had a heart to heart with my girlfriend and told her how I was feeling about things between her and I. The beginning of that end had begun, although it had already been so for many months at that point I would later find out. Valentine's Day weekend, in an effort to try and get things back on solid ground - I went all out. Roses, a big stuffed puppy dog, a heart pendant necklace, and tickets to a Garth Brooks concert (of whom I was not a fan of, but was willing to suffer though for her sake). All in all, a good chunk of my paycheck that week went through everything for the concert. We went, had a blast, and I had a feeling that maybe things would be okay. Two weeks later, I had begun writing a poem to her (more on that in a moment), when my phone rings. She winds up breaking it off with me over the phone, citing a story that later turned out to be false. I shelved the poem, and quietly grieved the night away. I began to focus on my flaws and after a brief assurance of we could be together again once she sorted things out, I just held my breath. It was also during this time that I returned from the brink of Christianity for the second time, having gone back into it because she had asked me to (her being a "Christian" herself).
March: I did a lot of soul searching, finding no real answers to the problems that plagued me. I continued to focus on my flaws, trying to find a way to maybe win her back (once I found out that things were fine, she again recoiled at the notion of getting back together). I also started a few self destructive habits during this time, mainly drinking heavily and smoking. During this month, she attempted to contact me - wanting someone to talk to. I had offered to bring her to the venue I was frequenting at the time with some friends, but she refused. At this point, I told her that if she had no interest in anything other than asking me to be her punching bag, to leave me alone.
April: After working overtime one night, it dawned on me that one of my major flaws was my looks. While I can't help much in the face department (having been hit with the ugly bat a few times in my life), I decided that maybe I could work on other areas. Deciding that this was the thing that I needed to improve on, I joined the local gym and didn't look back. Absolutely certain that my problem was my being 280 lbs, I decided to slim down and maybe that would be enough. Eye candy I had been told was important, so may as well make myself as attractive as possible. People starting noticing, except the one person I was trying to impress. But it got to the point that I had started and was not going to stop now.
May: My birthday was uneventful, a few more phone calls between her and I yielded nothing - so I had finally given up on that. Met a very short term friend with benefits that didn't last long, and made my first attempt at being an extrovert to VERY disastrous results that nearly landed me in the hospital due to anxiety attacks. The friends that I had tagged along with apologized for it, but it wasn't their fault. Still trust those people with my life.
June: Uneventful, was on 3rd shift and basically working, eating, sleeping, and going to the gym.
July: Same here.
August: Was put on 2nd shift and I entered into a MAJOR funk. That shift has always been the bane of existence just due to the hours. I fell back onto my bad habits and began to get a little loose with money. Between drinking heavily again, and spending more time than I should at bars and clubs of two types, I met a few people along the way that I was not destined to have any association with. One of them however, I do rather miss due to her kind nature. Sadly, have lost contact with her along with the rest. Met a few new people through Ex-C, and have maintained good friendships with them. A few others, not so much.
September: The funk continued, tensions at work rose due to my working partner who had anger issues and extreme OCD. My method of working conflicted with his and it led to many exchanges of verbal and non-verbal (though never physical) daggers that we eventually were able to rectify on a day when we both were too tired to even think straight. I began looking for a way to reset things, finally found it when a job opening can available. I also, at this point, finished up the poem I had shelved back in February, ending it with a closing tone of basically telling her to never cross my path again.
October: Suffered through some union issues and finally landed my new job, and back on 3rd shift - and not surprisingly, my life began edging upward again. Met a few new friends along the way and managed to keep a minimal contact with them, mainly when work schedules don't conflict.
November: I upped my workouts, in an attempt to reach my goal before the end of the year. Plateaued pretty hard, and have since. However, compliments have began rolling toward me with the progress and a few odd events in terms of encounters with women that left me puzzled. To this day, I still scratch my head at the encounter in the produce aisle at Walmart of the run by "YOU'RE CUTE!" gal that bolted no sooner the words left her mouth. I still wonder how much money she made on that bet.
December: Was weird in a lot of ways. I was sick for most of it with a respiratory virus, then a bad back, and then I messed up my foot running. That injury has lingered into the new year.
As I look into the new year, I go into it limping quite literally, but I'm hoping that is on tab this year will be worth the wait. A Tough Mudder run, FINALLY getting moved, then another Spartan Run-esque event, along with whatever bells and whistles that go with it. Sorry for the wall of text, just wanted to write and got carried away. Happy 2016 everyone.
2015 was an interesting year, chalked full of rich lessons, memories, and life changing moments for me. I am pretty surprised at the large amount of things happening in the short time span of 1 year. This is definitely not a year I will forget.
One main thing I learned was putting self-care as my top priority. I tend to worry what others think or I lean towards people pleasing, due to my past conditioning. But this year especially...I have truly learned the value of caring for myself. I fell face-first into moments where I wasn't practicing good self care, neglecting my own needs in favor of others...and there were moments where I took ownership as the Queen of my Life, nurturing myself like a mother would for her child. I have to be caring for myself at all times. What is right for me might not be right to other people, but that's their opinion and it's their choice to have it. I don't need to let it effect me.
I learned the value and importance of being aware of the present moment, and how practicing mindfulness skills can drastically improve moments of stress/anxiety. Taking a moment to stop, and observe your surroundings, or to take in the scent in the air, or to listen to the wind blowing the tree branches, etc...just being aware of the present moment, can bring peace and clarity of mind.
So many other things I learned this year..I'll list them
Not jumping into a relationship with high expectations
Having a plan B in case a current situation falls through
Giving myself credit for how strong I am and how far I've come
Embracing who I am, and loving myself, inside and out
Accepting the fact that the healing process takes time, and I must take advantage of tough times to grow from them, and come out a stronger person.
Coming to acceptance of every element of my life, including the unpleasant ones.
Seeing each day as a celebration of life, another chance to enjoy it somehow.
The art of acceptance in general...not trying to fight away the things I can't change
Not settling with people or situations that cause me to feel like I'm less
Taking a risk for my own happiness
Being ok with it when I make mistakes, or take a couple steps backwards, or mess up.
Patience. Kind of ties in with #5
Self care was still the top one I learned. I already knew this...but this year it hit me like a baseball bat the seriously heavy value of caring for myself. The issues I struggle with, they all kind of tie in together...I'm a perfectionist, sometimes I get defensive when someone tells me I've done something wrong (even if I know theyre just trying to help, it's my habitual reaction), I worry what others will think or are thinking of me, I want to please people, I avoid confrontation at all costs until it's no longer a choice, generalized anxiety..etc. It all ties in with caring too much for other people, and not enough for myself. I need to establish a more level balance, which is one of my goals for this year.
I want to get my liscense and car this year, and I've found a couple people who offered to help me practice (once the weather quits being shit). I also want to break my bad habits, one at a time. I want to start journaling again, to write about my progress and to just get things off my chest. Finally, I want to finish my poetry book and publish it, and find a way to get my music into studio recordings so I could sell albums, and play live shows.
Now It's no guarantee that all of these things will happen this year, but I'm realizing how short life is. Every day is a new opportunity to do something great...and many of us just live our lives wasting away, dancing the same weekly dance and repeating the same routines. Life is so much more than that, and I realize how much I could have done with all the time I've wasted. I seriously want to seize every opportunity to enjoy my life, to do things I've never done, to learn new things, and appreciate the little things...like taking a walk on a brisk sunny day.
I'm ready to quit fretting so much and to focus on my goals and self care, so I can truly experience inner happiness with myself, and life all around me. I'm ready to take the steps I need to care for myself better, to go after the goals I've had for many years, and to simply BE. To BE myself and to take advantage of this gift called life, focused on the present...One day, one hour at a time. Moving forward. The only time I will look back will be when I see how far I've come from there.
It might just be me,...but I have a feeling that this year will be much different than the last. I've went through some major transitions, took in some intense lessons, and now I'm eager to apply them to my life...and to truly grow from my hardships and become stronger.
I'm thankful for my mother and my family and friends who have been rooting me on, including you guys. Many of you have heard part of my story, things I've battled and went through, and it means a lot that you simply showed your care and support. I show my care and support for you all too..and may this year be a good one!
To new beginnings!
During my hiatus I've begun to regularly consume a certain herb of questionable legal status. I was sitting in the storage area underneath my residence, smoking a bowl in the dimly lit area with only my new puppy for company. I had some chill EDM tunes playing on my phone. It was a quiet night on the plains, a little chilly in the unheated underbelly of a relic. Wrapped in my jacket, preparing for lift off...
I realized how insignificant humanity is. Now I can't turn that realization off. We think that we are so freakin' special, each and every one of us this wonderfully unique creation. They tell us that in church, they tell us that in school, and those of us that grew up during the era of the self-esteem cult can never escape it. Until one day when we reach terminal velocity and crash through the ceilings of our own minds. Blast through the lowest orbit like a SpaceX rocket and smash the expectations of this boring Earthbound existence of all mortal beings.
Picture it! This world all a dream! What we see isn't real and what we feel is all lies! We are led around by our desires and we deny it. I saw it and now I'm sick. Mentally unwound. Oh, sure...it all seems so glorious to pull at the strings of the carefully woven tapestry that attaches us to the realities that we know. But let me tell you, it's not so much fun as it is sobering. Once you really realize how fragile it all is and how much of life is thinly veiled bullshit controlled by faraway string-pullers, it kills you.
In some deep way that I can't touch, I'm already dead. Just like Jesus. I can't understand why people follow a dead guy. A murder victim. Isn't there someone out there who's alive, who survived? 2000 years and we're still talking about a guy who died and supposedly came back to life only to ascend to a plane of existence that we can't verify yet we trust? I don't think that people throughout time were idiots or anything. Just that they were forced to pledge alligience to a dead guy to avoid their own deaths.
Coerced belief never lasts. I think there's a genetic component to belief resistance that takes awhile to be bred out. Early adapters build persuasive but exclusive cults with elaborate traditions that only those that are born into the faith can understand. I've always found Judaism to be an interesting case because only Jewish women can give birth to Jewish children, even sons. If you read the OT, you see that is what is behind the subjugation of women and why the OT guys were so hung up on virgins, purity, idols, etc.
I suppose that's why I don't understand the fascination that some people have with being Jewish like Jesus. You can't technically become Jewish. You have to be born Jewish. Female converts to Judaism can have Jewish children, but stopping short of conversion means that you aren't Jewish and therefore, your children aren't Jewish either. Yet they want to claim that they are "truly Jewish" and all that.
Of course, I've always been technically minded. That is why faith is such an issue for me. It's not that I can't entertain fantastical ideas, it's that I can usually find faults with said fantasties. Whatever gets you through the day, I guess, but I'd rather explore my own depths than seek an intimate relationship with a dead guy.
This is the first part of a rambling rant that I wrote in my "relaxation time" journal recently. I thought that maybe this would resonate with some people in the ex-c community. No idea why my mind turned to faith. I don't focus too much on my lack of belief or whatever these days...
This tale literally plays out like an episode of the Jerry Springer show in telling. If you like HBO soap operas like Spartacus or Borgias, then you will enjoy this pretty juicy tale of love, politics, sex, and man whoring.
Join me, the Bluegrass Skeptic, in enjoying some of the more colorful tales of biblical tales and myth in their full entirety that most don't hear in church. The Bible doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Especially if you read it purely for entertainment purposes only.
...combination of factors. Other things have intruded, I've been ill with a chest infection (hardly used a computer or did anything else much for 2 weeks) and have since done some major computer surgery which has banished Windows from my laptop in favour of Linux Mint (not difficult but time consuming - though very happy with the results).
Anyhow, hope everyone here is OK. Christmas family duties will now have their demands on me but I hope to catch up a little shortly...
Dear Cute Guy on the bus,
Today's ride home seemed like it would be the usual fare of crowded seats, faux fur hood linings tickling my shoulders, coughing behind my left ear, a man preaching about this holiday's "real" reason, and a driver frustrated more and more with every time he had to slam on his brakes. And this expectation held true all the way until the Kroger stop, when half the bus unloaded. Then with the sudden opening of empty spots, everyone reshuffled and there you were across from me in the aisle giving me an oddly familiar smile. To your defense, it might not have been as odd a smile as it seemed. After all, you ride the same route all the time, and I'm usually oblivious and writing by the time we hit the next stop after boarding.
But I digress.
You lean over to me, and wave a hand to get my attention to remove my headphones. You have a very genuine and disarming smile. Your hair is dark, matted down, and a mild ring around your crown can be seen from a hard hat you probably wore all day at your job. But nonetheless, your interest and inviting smile puts your whole approach together perfectly.
As you are tilting forward to talk over the noise of the bus roaring off from that fateful Kroger stop, you playfully pulled at the gray edges of your work shirt collar, casually looking side to side for a moment as if you don't want to be overheard revealing some interesting tid bit of news. When you do this, I notice the lightly bristled edge of your jaw squaring up for a second, and your dark brows and green flecked hazel eyes focus right into mine, and I'm completely entranced with amused curiosity in this social spectacle that lasts all of five seconds. And you speak; a deeper baritone escaping from your throat than I could've imagined coming from such a treat to watch, but it works for you. A complete picture of a man with intent, and I like it a lot.
Your lip pulls away from teeth whiter than I could ever hope to scrub my bathroom tiles, and you introduce yourself. And with the utterance of your name follows a monstrosity of a conversation starter that riled every red flag in my mind. Three words shattered my ballooned anticipation of experiencing a possible kindredness on an average Thursday bus ride. I heard these words and I immediately damned my pensive mind. I cursed my hyper active reasoning. I loathed my damaged experiences and the wisdom they lent me.
A perfect five seconds demolished by the quick firing response of my synapses and protein transfers thanks to three poorly timed words.
All because of three lousy words that conveyed an intent that means the shallow acquaintance at a bar before a drunken fuck at two in the morning. Words that don't mean "I want to know you", but "I want permission to justify expectation". Consonants and vowels that are arranged in a manner to dictate whether I have an owner or not.
Yes, my flirtatious man about town, I am single.
Why does that matter right now, in this moment of everyday meetings and conversation? Is it really that necessary to clarify I am worth talking to based on whether I have a current lover or not? In what world do we live that even in America people see it as disrespectful to possibly befriend a stranger who has a lover? Some would blame women and the "games" we play, but asking a person's relationship status as a qualifier for even engaging in conversation isn't just consent to converse. It's affirmation of sexual availability before ever even considering sharing what music I like! I find it absolutely detestable the need to clarify ahead of time whether my vagina is already an assigned sperm catcher. Even worse, is one determining I am not worth further conversation unless my vagina is unclaimed.
Whenever I am asked if I am single before even engaging in casual conversation, it feels like I am being asked for some type of consent. Consent to be approached sexually. A mutually understood agreement of having "a fair chance" at dating me. Consenting to a societal standard that I don't even want to be subjected to.
"Are you single?" My stomach knotted up when you asked me this. It's an uncomfortable question that I see many people treat others with suspicion if the woman doesn't want to answer, or hesitates before answering. As if this anxiety to respond is something to be ashamed of. I realize that it is important to know if someone is in a relationship if your intent is to date that person, or just offer a flirtatious greeting. I understand that there are some out there who become highly offended at even being simply approached in conversation by the opposite sex. But there are many women, like myself for instance, who understand asking me my relationship status immediately upon approach is code for,"Am I allowed to approach you sexually." Handsome man, I am never going to fault you for the social construct you are programmed with, but I will fault you for refusing to consider my side of the equation when being approached. I certainly do understand yours so show me the same grace.
Honestly, those three words immediately told me I probably didn't want to even answer you and just disengage from the moment. There is a time and place for wanting to know if someone is available for dating, sex, and whatever else. The opening greeting is certainly not the right time.
Yes, I'm single. No, I'm not constantly looking and wanting to try on every guy or gal that approaches me with interest. My being single NEVER equates to consent of anything, and it doesn't commit me to your expectations of availability. Cute Guy on the bus, you spoke to me briefly on the bus and had asked me if I were single. And as soon as I answered yes, you told me how attractive I was, said I should have a "guy that wants to treat me out", and then asked me out on a date, which I politely declined. I don't know you, and I'm not comfortable with this initial approach towards me. I even suggested that maybe we can talk more during the commute tomorrow, but you wouldn't hear it.
"But you said you are single," you whined, an annoyed grimace deepening the shallow laugh lines around your cheeks. Your eyes went from open and inviting to incredulous and suspicious. You wondered aloud if I were really even single, or if I was just flirting with you to get my kicks. You felt that I was indebted to you since I had, in your mind, given consent to be pursued by stating my relationship status. You are sick of women leading you on you tell the guy behind us, which confirmed my identifying was giving you the unspoken nod of sexual intent. So, of course I just laid my head back against the window I was sitting next to, pulled my earphones back over my ears and went back to the monotonous bumps, coughs, and brake slamming that I had grown accustomed to expecting on my evening commute.
I know I am going to see you on the bus again Monday morning. Maybe I will explain to you that looking for women to date is different than shopping for a coat. You can't seriously believe women want to try men on and off like a coat at a department store until we find one that fits. Some coats are just not my style, and I wouldn't even bother to try them on. Kind of like you.
"Three thousand years..." For three thousand years, we have watched over the sands of time. Watched civilizations rise, and watched their fall. We have stood as the stewards of all events in history - from the fall of Rome, to the rise of the Soviet Empire. We made the Berlin Wall crumble, and we built up the new face of the world. For the first time in our history, we watched...as we failed. We watched, as one man thwarted our plans. And we watched as another presented new ideas. However, failure is only in the eye of the beholder. When it's all part of the greater scheme. We thought we had a willing pawn to carry out our mission, but we had not expected this intervention. This time, we cannot afford to be set back. "We know what you are trying to do, we see what your mission is. We only offer the means to make it happen. Your mentor tried the same, yet he failed. But his failure, can be your gain. What say you, Patriach Rezin?" "The world is wicked. The hellspawn of Satan runs amock across it, God is angry - he wishes for vengeance." Rezin replied, crossing his arms. "Why have you come forward to assist me?" The other man, his figure silhouetted by the programming of the hologram stood motionless. "We merely want what you want. An end to the aristocracy, the oligarchy that plagues our world. We can give you the means - the "breath of God" to exact his wrath upon those who shun him. The organization would like to see your group rise above the ashes of the burning world, and bring...peace, to us all." The patriach pondered for a long moment as he assessed his options. For many years, he had led the point of view that the end times were near, and that it was his duty to bring it forth. He lacked resources, materials, everything he needed to make it so - and as if he had been blessed, an organization offering him all he desired to bring about the end, was right in front of him. Smiling, he nodded toward the figure. "Very well, I accept your assistance." "You have made a wise decision Patriarch. We will supply you with the materials, the weapons, the equipment. Go out in the world, find like minded individuals. Raise a military power capable of bringing down those that shun God, and we will give you whatever is necessary." "My followers will endeavor to make this happen. Many among the populace desire what we do." Rezin nodded. "We are counting on you." "Know that the organization always follows through with its promises. The first shipment will arrive soon. We will be in touch Patriarch." with that, the screen went dim. Rezin stood from his desk and looked through the window of his office. The time of the end was at hand, the time to plan was past. It was time to put the world to the flame.
Five years later...