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Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/05/2009 in Blog Entries

  1. 7 points
    Normally, I try to focus thought and discussion on religious themes. This is due to the fact that I host my blog on this similarly themed website. Not the case today, though. Based on just my title, you might think this will be an abortion piece. Maybe I might be referring to all the police shooting deaths as of late. The reality is I'm discussing the value of my own life. Well, actually, how some in my life seem to have put a value on me, and how I mistakenly agreed their valuations were accurate. Worse, the most recent experience with being told my worth was quite literally in a monetary sense. And even more worse than that, I actually allowed this to be true for a very long part of my life. "Oh my God, Miss Z! Did someone put a hit contract out on you??" Yeah, I'm kind of infamous, but certainly not that inspiring. No, I've just had some experiences over the last decade that really kind of culminated into a single sentence I received in a text message this week. It was kind of amazing how just cold and uncaring these words were, and it made me seriously reflect on relationships I currently have. I was told,"You've been my kept woman for years." Essentially, that I am bought and paid for based on money that this person has spent on my behalf during an on and off relationship of fifteen years. Bought and paid for physically, by the way. I literally had been reduced to chattel. It doesn't matter any sacrifices I might have made, abuses I had tolerated, and blame I always just accept as automatically being mine. I cost this person a dime, therefore I am in debt, subject to flimsy conditions of reimbursement. And for the longest time, this has been acceptable in my book. My always being there when needed, focused recovery of my mental health, and dogged rationalizing of me being responsible for us to get along? Worthless. This is incredibly painful. Also, it is like hitting the bright red button on a Looney Toons show that sends the rocket from Marvin the Martian's lab to blow up Daffy Duck. I was seeing red. Enraged would be a wonderful word to describe my state the other night when reading the message I'd received. Enraged at such shallow disrespect towards me, and further indignity at my own fault in allowing such relationships to even exist in my life. A lot of you that read my blog are familiar with my situation with family. I deal with manipulative ex lovers, abusive parents that are in denial about how toxic they are, and so much more. And being on the outside looking in on my life, you have said to me,"What made you put with all of this?" Simply put, I put up with this treatment because I agreed I was such a screw up, that the people who act like this type of loan sharking of friendship had me convinced me they'd done me incalculable amounts of good. So much for using logic, guilt reigned supreme in my mind for many years. I devalued myself to the point of a paid whore. How could I be anything but? I hurt my kids. I hurt myself. I hurt my finances. It's the whole "once a fuck up, always a fuck up" mentality. Even more ridiculous is that, on principle, I never apply or believe this type of thinking about people. I am forever the optimist when it comes to human nature. Despite my own upbringing in a fairly sheltered home life, I saw the error of my parents' constant alienation of family and friends. Everyone makes a mistake, even the same one time and again. Does that equate a death sentence for their success in life? Of course not! Humans are notorious for changing and maturing. Yet, I never applied this reasoning to myself. I constantly denied myself the opportunity to pursue nicer goals, firmly believing my chance was already blown. I'd put my life to the value of zero without having a fair chance to even attempt living. Thankfully, years of therapy started to plant seeds of doubt about just how rational I was being about my mistakes in life. Ultimately, I have reached a point of zero tolerance for this type of thinking, and treatment. It took me the last three years or so to finally be comfortable with who I am, where I have been, and gain the confidence to know I can be successful and deserve it. Taking the rockier path has never been easy, but that's the road I took. Getting off the super highway of punishment hasn't been easy either. All the usual roadblocks tell me I can't exit, but the potholes are fewer as I keep crashing through the barriers. "You aren't anything without me." I hear this at least once a month. My goodness, the level of absolute disregard for anything I have ever done in this world is so sharply heard in such a statement. It's almost God like in the argument that is made. "I am Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end." I could never be what I am today without these people, yet according to them, I am nothing. It took me forever to realize there was a huge contradiction in their attitudes. Just like Yahweh, the true contribution in my life by always being a liability was at best double edged. While supposedly protecting me, I was at the same time being controlled with guilt and money. When did my freedom become a bargaining chip? I can tell you. The day I deified these people in my heart. The day I took their verdicts on my life as gospel. But like all gods of ages past that are now insignificant tales of creation and lost power, so have these people been relegated to my personal history. They are nothing more than dim shadows in the bright adventure of my life. My life is finally relevant to me. And I owe it all to myself.
  2. 7 points
    This poor kid's parents told him he just wanted to sin. The Church Lady thinks it's because the pastor offended someone or there wasn't enough parking. This guy claims that people "tell him" they're just too spiritual, darn it, or they'd rather do yoga at home. (Note to the preacher: this is the Christian version of friendzoning.) And this blog cites a chain letter that blames ungratefulness--that people who leave church are just too used to God's "blessings" and get all complacent about them being showered down on them all the damn time. No, really. Read it; it's a hoot. I read a number of pages and studies about "why people leave Christianity" and the one thing that really springs out at me is that all these "reasons" are made up by Christians with, it seems, very little honest input from the actual deconverts. I'm not surprised, of course. If someone leaves the fold, Christians bash their brains out trying to figure out what was wrong with that person that he left. There's this insatiable need to figure out a reason, push the whole issue into a file folder marked "resolved," close it, and put it away and not ever have to think about it ever again. I used to do it too, and I really think the reason why was I was terrified of finding out there might have been a damned good reason that person left. The problem might not be the person leaving, but with the message itself. And that's what turned out to be the case when it came to be my time to walk away from it all. We all have different stories, but Christians don't tend to want to hear those stories. They may say they do, but really they just want to hear it so they can discount it or try to explain it away. No matter how many hours or weeks or years you put into researching your decision, they are the magic Christian who will explain it all away and it'll all make sense and you'll leap back into that church pew and give thanks for having such wonderful Christian friends. They don't listen; it's a lot easier to just make stuff up, and when you do that, you don't have to worry about engaging with the real reasons people leave. And when you make stuff up, what you're really doing is comforting yourself: you're assuring yourself that YOU'D never leave. YOU'D never deconvert. YOU'D know better. YOU'RE the true Christian. The apostate is clearly deluded, stupid, vain, arrogant, or just wasn't a "real Christian" (like you are), or didn't know the Bible (like you do), or was in the wrong denomination (ie, not yours). When you're tilting at windmills, you don't really engage with the message you hear. Stop listening to that craziness and really listen to what we're saying here. This is why we're not coming back, and this is why we left. I do not speak for all deconverts, but these are the common threads I see in deconversion stories: 1. To our shock and pain, we discovered that the Bible isn't true at all. Not even a little. There's no evidence that prayer works, no proof that miracles ever happen, and every time history examines a Biblical question, the Bible turns out to be almost completely mythical. Not a one of its dogmatic claims holds up to even cursory argument. Very liberal Christians may not care, but for ex-Christians from a conservative evangelical background, discovering that there couldn't possibly have been a worldwide flood or a person fitting the background given for Jesus is devastating. Not for nothing do atheists claim that the easiest way to make a Christian deconvert is to make that Christian read his or her own Bible; some of the most prominent ex-Christians ever were people who went to seminary to learn more about their beloved Bibles only to emerge with their faith destroyed by simple reality (like Charles Templeton, one of the founders of Campus Crusade for Christ!). Most Christians have no clue in the world what's in there: God condoning--even ordering--rape, slavery, murder, trickery, witchcraft, incest, genocide, abortion, war, abuse, infanticide, and more. Most ex-Christians, however, are very familiar with these myths and commandments. We're not idiots. We studied the Bible and found it full of contradictions and monstrous, inhuman crimes against mankind. We read the apologetics books and found them struggling to doublespeak themselves into a god against all evidence to the contrary. We attended revivals to try to recover our faith and heard ignorant speakers misstate science or parrot claims we knew weren't true. We prayed, and nothing we prayed for happened even though the Bible says it always will. We begged for a sign, and got none even though God did tons of signs just like what we'd requested in the OT and in Jesus' day. We wept and we fasted and we drilled down on acting right and talking right and doing right, and nothing changed even though change is promised if we do those things. There's no amount of arguing that'll change the simple fact that the Bible is a book of myths, and nothing it really happened, and nothing it promises really comes true through any means other than human effort or coincidence. 2. Christians aren't better people with Jesus, and non-Christians aren't worse people for not having Jesus. For a religion that stresses "spiritual fruits," Christians have next to none; states and countries that are known for having a lot of Christians in them do worse by every conceivable measure than those who are more secular. The news is filled with "god-fearing Christians" tearing each others' faces off, abusing their kids to death, or getting caught in this or that sex scandal. We realized that there can't be a god inhabiting us and informing our every move, because if there were we'd sure expect to find Christians to be at least as good as non-Christians. But arguably they are, by and large, worse. Every ex-Christian has horror stories about abuses at the hands of Christians (more on this further down). We heard the platitudes about Christians not being perfect, just forgiven, and we heard about how church is a "hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." And that was obviously horseshit to everybody but the pious Christians trying to explain away their total lack of fruits. Whatever you gotta tell yourself, sparky. But we know the truth: there is no god inhabiting Christians and making them wonderful people, and there is no devil influencing the lost making them worse. When we do run across Christians who are genuinely good people, we are forced to conclude that it's not an invisible sky friend making them so, but the sheer fact that they are good people regardless of what religion they follow. Once the threat of becoming a murderous, raping arsonist upon deconversion is removed, a lot of the scariness and Otherness of deconversion is gone. 3. We learned logical fallacies and cognitive biases, and we learned how Christianity uses all of them. We also learned that this faith that we thought was loving and caring is in actuality controlling and callous, even resorting to threats and cruelties to keep its members' butts in seats. If your religion is true, it shouldn't need to threaten a person's reputation, his/her connection to family and friends, his/her livelihood, his/her home, even his/her job to maintain compliance. These maneuvers did a lot to show us how false the religion must be if it stoops to such low levels of shoddy reasoning and cruel behavior. Christianity is a supremely manipulative religion. As any blogger can tell you, anybody who speaks against Christianity is lucky if all s/he gets are a barrage of death threats and insults from those who follow the supposed God of peace, love, and mercy. The threats are designed to chill us and silence us, to scare us into at least acting compliant even if we struggle with the certainty that it's all fake. If we're quiet, it doesn't matter. If we speak up, we become the enemy, and Christians know what to do with those who are different. They've had two thousand years to practice. For all the "it's not you, it's me" breakup statements Christians may hear, it really boils down to a few: we realized the Bible wasn't true. We realized that Christians don't act like they're inhabited by a god--most don't even act like they really believe in most of the myth at all. We realized that Christianity's arguments were shoddy and that its treatment of dissenters was nothing short of inhumane, making its validity highly suspect. The awful truth is that almost every one of us would have gladly welcomed an argument that actually made sense, or believed in evidence once it was provided. We would have gladly accepted the truth had Christians had any to present. I'm probably spitting into the wind here when I tell Christians that we know the Bible very well; we understand it perfectly well; we have looked at the "evidence" and found it seriously lacking. But Christians don't want to hear that. They have to cover that up somehow. It's terrifying to imagine that we might know the Bible better than they do--that might mean the fault isn't ours for leaving. So they cloak these simple truths in belittling us, or claiming we're stupid or misinformed or rebellious or "too spiritual" (seriously, WTFH). Of course they do. The truth is dangerous. It's scary. It's messy. And breaking free of living a lie, with all the threats and cruelties Christians have in store for the unwary deconvert, is so very, very difficult. Yet more and more of us are doing just that. And we will continue to do so. Ignore our real reasons for leaving at your peril, churches; the more you ignore and misstate our reasons, the more you demonstrate how totally out of touch you are.
  3. 7 points
    As a recent ex-christian (6 months sober), I am still waking up to the utter lunacy of the majority of our population. Even as a True Believer, when I saw things like this I was able to call bullshit. I would get aggravated by believers who seemed to check their brains at the door, and felt like they made the rest of us look bad. I feel like a self-righteous ass to admit that. But if you were to get them to admit it – there are many Christians who feel that way. Even though I kept more of my common sense intact than many other believers, I was still much more in the dark than I realized. I didn’t recognize the tremendous scope of absolute idiocy that resides in the majority of this country that I love so dearly. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believed in my share of poppycock! I bought into god’s supernatural intervention, I just tried to balance it with some sense of reason…which eventually led to the undoing of my faith. What is so shocking to me now is the stuff I chose not to pay attention to. I chose to see my brothers and sisters in the faith as people who were good, god-loving and who would eventually “change the world”. Even though many of my fellow Christians may have been of a different religious stripe, I considered that we were all unified because of our belief in Christ. So when believers did bat-shit crazy things, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, it was “us” against the world. Now that I’ve moved over to the “dark side”, I am able to more fully grasp the deficit of critical thinking skills that resides among believers. I must admit that as I sat and read through the comments on the above photo this morning, I was shocked. It’s not that I haven’t seen this sort of ignorance before among Christians. I guess it just sank in to a new level for me. Maybe for the first time I really let myself see these people as completely separate from me. I allowed myself to scorn them and their ignorance. I am just now getting to a point where I truly see this vast chasm between myself and my former Christian family. I must admit that in a strange way this saddens me a little. I realize that I will never again be a part of that greater family. But that sadness is quickly followed by a sense of relief. I no longer have to check my brain at the door. I no longer have to feel like the odd person in the room and the only one asking questions and thinking rationally about things. And I’ve realized that leaving my faith doesn’t mean I have to be alone. I’ve discovered a whole world full of amazing people…people I never would have considered “friend material” as a Christian. I’m now part of a group of beautiful, loving, accepting heathens! So, without further ado, here is the epic Facebook thread that pushed me over the edge this morning... The caption for the photo above was "Click share if you see the angel and Jesus!". It originated from the "I Love Jesus" FB page (which you should never visit unless you want an ulcer!). This photo had over 1700 comments. The majority of them were people who seemed to ACTUALLY believe that someone ACTUALLY caught Jesus and an angel at the scene of this accident. Of course my first thoughts were the logical arguments, such as “If Jesus was there, why were these people in a near-fatal crash?”, and “If Jesus was there why did the EMT’s need to help the victims? Weren’t they instantly healed by Jesus?” Nope. No one seemed to have the balls to ask those questions (or maybe the page administrator deleted such comments). As I read through them, I was amazed and appalled by the fact that most of the commenters didn’t show compassion for the injured people in the photo. Also, I did not see even ONE comment by someone thanking the EMT’s who were there (in real life!) to rescue the victims. And, surprisingly, most of them didn’t mention the very obvious ass-crack in the photo. No, they were all too busy giving praise to god for…um….letting these poor people get seriously injured or possibly killed? Here’s a sampling of the comments… The True BelieversTM: "aye he goin to heaven now thats cray and scary!!" (WTF?!) "amazing grace!" "just what I needed!" "wow! amazing!" " One day, we will all have to give an answer to our maker. Amazing picture, thanks for sharing! ” (Sure, why not take this opportunity to proselytize?) "breathetaking!" (Why can't these people spell?!) "gave me goosebumps!" "they are always there when you need them!" "why can't we just believe" (In response to those calling "photoshop") "he's always there and loves when you talk to him" "please send to my phone or fb wall" (Apparently this person does not understand how to share or send a photo. Shocking.) "Beleving &Haveing faith" (Again with the spelling!) "an ever present help in danger" (HOW is helping these victims?) "amen. guess john sullivan does not know jesus" (John Sullivan commented with "nice photoshop", so I guess he deserves to go to hell?) "padre eterno que tu anjel cuide mis hijos no nos desanpares telo pido con toda la fe dios mio." (No idea what this says, but I'm sure it's really stupid.) "WOW! MAKES YOU BELIEVE" (No, it makes me ill.) "De Javu" (Because you were once at the scene of a horrific accident accompanied by Jesus and an angel? Do you even know what déjà vu means? If so, maybe you could learn to spell it.) As I skimmed through the comments I found a few made by people who may still have their brains intact. Only a small percentage of the 1700 seemed to understand this photo did not actually depict Jesus and an angel. This seriously makes me afraid for this country! The Brave Naysayers: "plumber's crack!" (This guy was one of only a few who caught that.) "you people are retarted" (of course they misspelled retarted!) "it's photoshop my friends" "potato!" (LOL!) "good graphic" "you people are freaks" (Ahhh so refreshing.) "amen to shitty photoshop!" "photoshop and butt crack" "hail satan" (This made me laugh! It actually got 11 likes!) "science!" (LOVE this one.) "So sad... " (This was the ONLY comment I saw where someone seemed to actually understand what was really happening in this photo.) "awwwwwwwwwwwww im sorry that happed amen" (Well, this guy almost got it.) And my comment: “Maybe instead of ignorantly praising god for this photoshopped pic, you guys could ask yourselves why he would allow these poor people to get critically injured? Don’t you think if Jesus and an angel were ACTUALLY there that they would have prevented this horrible accident, or at least instantly healed the victims? How about instead you actually thank the EMT’s for being there to rescue the victims and SAVE THEIR LIVES? The EMT’s are the only people in this photo who should be praised. Use your brains, people!” (SOMEONE had to be a voice of reason!) So, there you have it. I feel like I need a shower to wash off the stupid.
  4. 6 points
    We've all been there at some point. You log onto your favorite social media website like Facebook, and as you scroll through the many status updates in your news feed with highlights about your Aunt Martha's cat, or your friend's son that lost a tooth, you see this: If you are irreligious like myself, all you see is this: Why do people do this? Where is this urge to shout from the digital rooftops about God's touching one's soul coming from? And even more importantly, do these folks even realize that their pious platitudes and preaching are nothing more than selfish cries for attention? Everyone learns something differently in church when it comes to appropriate social protocols when witnessing to the masses, publicly declaring your faith, and celebrating the glory of a god. One thing has always been made clear to me though during my 20 years in a pew. I was always told in the 6 different churches I attended that one should unequivocally be only giving the glory to God. God's amazing invisible finger of knowledge will automatically follow and anoint those you addressed if they are willing with little to no effort on your part. There was no telling someone how sad you were that they had no faith. It wasn't necessary to insist that you would pray for someone if they didn't want to hear your message. One certainly didn't have to debate for hours on end with atheists and other religious groups on Facebook in order to convert a few souls. No. My mere channeling of his divine presence would be enough to effect change in the person(s) I was engaged with. If I had to do more than just share a brief five minutes of His word, then I wasn't doing it right. What on earth has changed? Anymore, I feel like whenever I see a long copied post on my news feed, I am dealing with a Jim Jones wannabe. I mean this most sincerely, and I know this is not the intention of the witnessing spokesperson of Yahweh. These people really come across like charismatic psychopaths who think they can draw few flies in for dinner before mass. Quite literally they are pulling a Jim Jones maneuver from the man's own playbook. Let me explain. It is never enough to just have attended church, accepted Christ, and have lived as righteously as possible. It's enough for God in Heaven, but not enough for the interpreted version of Him within the church walls. This is especially so with all the constant nonsense about a war on Christianity that has started permeating the news. Last I checked, Christians are not being purposely put to death in this country. Hardly a war, but it makes for interesting talk around the Communion trays. Couple that with declining church attendance? Well, it's time to get the word out! At least, that is the mindset I had always come across. Proselytizing on Facebook isn't just about sharing faith, sharing joy, or sharing eternal life. It's a rallying cry to sign up. And like Jim Jones, while these social media soap boxers are full of scripture, they really don't want you to read it. As soon as you start asking about the scripture, you get rants about politics, disease, sexual abomination, and overall fear of Satan ruling the Earth. They literally pull a Jim Jones. They throw their Bibles down on the ground, insisting that you pay more attention to them than their original source of information. This same thing happens on discussion boards, even here on Ex-C. Someone posts a long opener about the seamless genius of a preferred deity. "It's so simple and clearly laid out, even a grade schooler can understand," this person says. Lines of scripture follow, including poorly made flow charts of historical context. Your eyes glaze over, but you manage to point out a number of errors in the flow chart by using the Bible said chart is based off of. What happens? Slam! Bible is on the floor, the patronizing insults of "You are over intellectualizing what I am saying" or "Your lack of faith is disturbing, I will pray for you" begin to flow. The focus has left the shared data and compelling arguments, with all attention shifted to the proselytizer. God is back in the wispy realms of fantasy, only being brought up as a holy reference to add to the pious demeanor of your rabidly biblical preaching poster. You will manage to somehow go in this discussion from lack of faith to the End Times, where all prophesies become interpretive dancing of fantastically hopeful outcomes. There might even be a bit of frothing as the witnessing individual's mind leaps from one potential sign of the times to another, as the influx of far fetched links begin to work this person's brain into an almost crack fueled frenzy. So, next time you have the urge to engage a lengthy Jebus post, realize it is just a psychiatric need for strength in numbers playing out on your wall. To solve this problem, and if you are on Facebook, do the following: If you are in a regular discussion forum, show restraint and leave the conversation. No matter how you engage, in the religious gladiator's mind, he's victorious. Either you didn't engage because of his awesome faith, or you didn't engage because Satan compels you to leave him alone. Those who engage in this type of behavior are addicted to this type of attention. They are usually very charismatic and have some very lofty ideas of how convincing their faith is on its own merits. Religious preaching on social media is a clear sign of addiction to the holy crack they are sucking in. Holy crack being fantasy and escape from a world that one is finding too difficult to reason out alone.
  5. 5 points
    This weekend was a personal test for my parenting. As an atheist parent, I am pretty adamant in presenting both sides of an argument and using context when discussing religious belief with my kids. The only confirmation of how fair of a job I am doing is when the kids end up in awkward situations of religious types where I am not present. I eagerly wait to hear about the results later. Before I go into my eldest son's adventure in the land of Woo, I should probably elaborate on the foundation I've helped him create for his basis of logic. Much like newly minted adult atheists, my kids went through a lot of similar rationalizing, denial, and even outrage of religious doctrine. Fortunately, secular kids get to excel through those stages much quicker than indoctrinated adults who are fresh off the biblical ark. One of the most important life skills is free thinking, and I encouraged this so much in my own children that it is intrinsic to their thought processes now. One effective method of encouraging and teaching free thought processes actually has nothing to do with questioning religious doctrine. That is just one path that develops later. No, you encourage your children to think outside the box by allowing them to explore your authority. You, the parent, are the leading role model and authority in their lives, and while your children must respect that authority, never discourage them from questioning and verifying your role outside your own declarations. When you use the attitude of "Because I said so", you are actually stunting the learning curve. One learns best by exploration in thought, so allow these trips outside your constructed realm of parenting. Additionally, respect is very important; I doubt I need to dedicate a whole paragraph to this pillar of self, but one thing should be said. Respect, while given, does not always need to be earned either. Esteem for something and respect for it are very different things. Not everything in life is give and take. By insisting respect must be earned you make the willingness to give respect a commodity to be traded for unnecessary platitudes and ceremony. Essentially, unless otherwise known, assume everyone deserves respect. Finally, I breed self appreciation in my children. This is an essential piece to being secular, in my own personal opinion. I want my children, as cliche as it sounds, to appreciate who they are. To appreciate who you are, why you are, strengths and weaknesses, teaches empathy and accountability. You can fully appreciate a larger portrait of what individuality truly means. And by having the ability to look at the whole in oneself means one can do that in relating to others. All of these main pieces to my parenting has rendered open minded inquisitive children, who decisions are mostly well informed and extremely fair. I have little to no worries about how they handle awkward religious situations overall. So, back to my eldest son's experiences at a charismatic (Pentecostal based) church this past weekend, and how he carried himself during the two hour service. I had planned to take him to a charismatic service myself, but my fundamentalist parents beat me to the exposure when having him over for a night. It should be noted the grandparents know damn well my kids are secular. I've made it clear I didn't want my children exposed to this sort of thing without me present at first, as well. So much for that. Undermining me is nothing new in their play book, but ultimately, I think it worked out. My thirteen year old got the full Pentecostal sideshow. Anointing of believers, prayer circles complete with talking in tongues, music induced spirit slaying, choreographed interpretive dancing, a five minute lesson on the Trinity, and Jesus tag. It couldn't have been more perfect. Oh, it was. He mentioned he really enjoyed the refreshments. Can't be a good service without a snack and some juice, am I right? He found the lesson on the trinity boring, and could barely control his laughing when telling me about Jesus tag. Essentially, the goal of the game is to infect (tag someone as it) with the Holy Spirit. He thought that was semi perverted in a funny way, and I agreed it was a good thing they called it Jesus tag and not something like "clergyman tickles". "Talking in tongues was really weird," he said,"because Grampy is a steward, so he was in a prayer circle around some people, talking that nonsense." He also felt awkward with his grandmother next to him with arms up high, doing the same as Grampy. My son knows it isn't a real language, and struggled to reconcile this kind of clearly misguided emotional abandon. These are two grown adults he just spent the better part of a day with. Ate dinner with. Played video games and fed chickens with. People he can laugh, cry, and joke with. And here they were, disconnected with reality, participating in rituals. My son better understands someone moved to tears by the vast beauty of a starry night over the Grand Canyon than a group think situation in a tiny church building. This teenager is learning how to view, and treat, irrationality in those he loves. And unlike diagnosed mental illness or drug abuse, he has a completely invisible adversary. An adversary that stole two hours of his visit from his relationship with his grand parents. Truly, he was mildly incensed that his grand parents chose a two hour church service as a priority above a rare visit from him. The music and prayer was annoying, and he said most of the kids were glad to go to youth class so they didn't have to witness the adults' service. "Those kids were NOT happy to be there. Seriously, they were miserable." Seeing one's parents jumping, writhing and dancing in the spirit of the Lord put performance pressure on these other kids. "Someday," I explained,"they will be out there doing it too." "Do they have a choice?" "What do you think?" He didn't answer me on that one, possibly he already knows and is glad he had a choice. Either way, he left there with independently gained knowledge, confidence in his lack of belief reaffirmed. He doesn't debate anyone yet. I discourage that until he has studied what he wants to argue, and he seems content with that. For now, he just hones his religious shut down skills.
  6. 4 points
    I lay next to my boyfriend, he to my right and the window with pale sunlight to my left. I watch him sleep, his back to me. It's a quiet Saturday morning. I look at where we are now, 2.5 years into our relationship. He's back in school looking to earn his Bachelor's degree, maybe even Master's. I'm almost 2 years into my first professional job, which has been a great success overall. You could say we are the epitome of a healthy relationship. We care for each other when we are sick. We never go longer than 5 minutes upset with each other, always working to improve our communication with each other. We say "thank you" when completing household chores. We have hobbies together and hobbies apart. We've had a few critical points in our relationship, such as finances and future goals. Everyday I wake up thinking that I made the right choice to be with him, and that firmness grows stronger moment by moment. We have our moments, of course. Sometimes we are worn down and exhausted; sometimes we say things out of frustration, without thinking. But in the end, we always end up back in each other's arms, learning and growing through each obstacle and experience. Yet sometimes I recall two years ago, when I was still a Christian. My boyfriend was an atheist at that time, and I went through one of the deepest bouts of anxiety when struggling with the thought of loving someone who would be doomed to hell when they would die (I was raised with conservative Christian, bible-based teachings). I remember being so distraught that I couldn't eat. I remember trying to break up with him three times over three days just to escape the anxiety. I remember being unhealthily obsessed with researching the Christian concept of hell. I felt eternally stuck - after all, how could I talk myself out of the deeply held conviction that hell was real? What triggered it? My former best friend, also a conservative Christian, disapproving my decision to enter a serious relationship with him, all based on the fact that he was not a "fellow believer." Mind you, I had been so supportive of her when her and her now-husband started dating, and even got married. But of course, since I wasn't following the bible-based teaching of dating and marrying a fellow Christian (a debatable tenet, but still taught and maintained in my religious circles), I didn't deserve the same support. Looking back, I wonder: perhaps I should thank her? It was really the Christian wake up call I needed that ended up driving me to losing belief altogether. See, it's easy to believe in hell when everyone in your closest circles believes in Jesus, constantly reaffirming your belief system. But what if you have many close family members who didn't believe to the same extent as you, or even at all? I'm grateful that my boyfriend and I ended up working through my religious difficulty, and we came out all the stronger. I had a kind religious mentor in my life at the time that was helping me navigate, with prayer and fasting, the emotional difficulty of dating a non-believer. She was sure god was at work, you see, and was sure that our relationship was happening for a reason. I am grateful I had someone like her ground me in faith and maintain my relationship. Though after a few months, the thought of hell started haunting me, not just with my boyfriend, but with my extended family as well. How could god banish one of my aunts to hell, just for not believing? This aunt who is like a mother to me. I started having questions to the tenets I used to hold so dearly, questions that the usual Christian answers didn't seem to satisfy. Eventually, after more breakdowns and lots of research, I lost my belief altogether. But I look back now, and my heart breaks for anyone who makes a decision on behalf of a religion that is not true. Whether it means breaking off a great relationship for a difference in beliefs, or behaving a certain way because you believe that "god" wants you to? Why is it religion gets the exception of understanding? Is it because we humans are so sensitive, so afraid of the unknown, of death, that ignorance is essential in living a productive life? I don't get it, and looking back now, I don't feel it was fair that I was blindly mislead, made huge decisions in my life in that blindness that I would not have otherwise decided. Some might argue that it's all part of the human experience - we change over our lives, make decisions differently than we used to. But I can't help but wonder how drastic those decision-making skills would change if religion didn't exist at all... Food for thought. -B.
  7. 4 points
    Today's little blog entry is a deep one. It speaks to the effects of a religious upbringing on children's sexuality, focusing in particular on the children who don't receive the necessary confirmation within their flock and start looking for it anywhere they can. Specifically, I wanted to share a story I'd heard from a close friend who suffered a lot of rejection from her parents and the majority of fellow peers within her church class. It is astounding how she, and several others, shared a very similar fantasy. Along with other incidents of deviant desire in order to somehow provoke a direct response from God or Jesus, they simply sought the confirmation they needed that there was indeed a supreme power in the Universe. And that they would be okay despite the turmoil in their life. I haven't heard from this girl in many, many years. At least twenty-five years I would say, and not a day goes by that I don't think on her experience. She was part of a Pentecostal church, much like myself. Her home life was difficult. On the outside, they looked like an all American family, with a hardworking blue collar father, and her mother was teaching at a school nearby. They had a great house, the daughter had her own room, a nice play set out in the yard, and a dog to play with. Hardships were rare. Now and then the family would pass on going out to eat for their weekly dinner, usually because of an upcoming house project in the budget, but overall, things were beautiful. All the way down to the lovely iris beds that lined the fence next to the sidewalk that followed alongside their two story house in a small county capital in Ohio. Loyal church members for at least a decade at the point of this story's telling. Yes, for intent and purposes, their family was ideal. Like a lot of families, family business stayed in the home and wasn't supposed to be discussed with anyone outside the home. The daughter learned early on that she was a burden. Her father was fickle in his attentions, and her mother was constantly depressed and uninterested in having much to do with her after getting home from teaching a large classroom of children everyday. There were many instances of verbal abuse, and at times, this child would act out, trying to get whatever attention she could at this point. Innately she knew it wasn't natural for her father to reject her like he did, nor for her mother to just lie around the house, showing little interest in what her daughter was doing. Eventually, the verbal abuse became physical. Sexual abuse occurred by the hands of her father as she got older, and the daughter struggled to find anyone she could connect with at her church. She would try to hang out at friends' houses, willing to even massage a parent's feet one time in order to secure permission to stay the night and not have to go back to her own home. She loved staying away from home, being an adopted child for a night elsewhere. This child would do anything the host home asked of her. Washed dishes. Ran errands. Anything, and these homes shared a love for God and firm belief that all things come to those who waited. This daughter of God waited. Having the Bible thrown in her face when she made mistakes. Being told that she didn't love God when she would show signs of stoic resignation as her parents screamed at her when she didn't behave honorably. She began to have doubts. After the abuse started in her home, she wanted to have proof. She started daring God to hurt her. Having already experienced what she thought was God's closeness when she prayed, her reasoning led her to believe that God would physically manifest and speak with her one on one if she committed heinous sins. Surely He would help her be better. She couldn't help herself when it came to lying. She couldn't help herself when she stole her mother's jewelry and destroyed it. Surely He would deprogram all these desperate rituals for attention out of her and help her parents understand she needed help. She knew what the ultimate sins were. She heard it every week in Sunday school. One of the worst things she could do would be to deny his existence, but she didn't feel He wasn't real. This daughter thought He didn't care, and she couldn't believe this was true. Surely not. So she at first began talking out loud to God. Saying how she hated her mother and wanted to kill her. How she wanted to peel the skin off of her while still alive. God didn't calm the rage, and when she said these things, she could visually see these things happening in her mind. She would stare in her dresser mirror for hours, studying her face, and one day she saw something. Her face, while her own, wasn't her. There was a hardness in those eyes. The girl touched the glass, hoping in her deepest thoughts that the creature in the mirror would reach through and grab her. Nothing grabbed her. The glass still felt cool to the touch, smooth and lifeless. There was not another side to the looking glass for her to escape, but she swore to herself that wasn't her looking back in the mirror. She realized a few weeks later that what she was seeing was a demon. This was classic Sunday school demon encounters. They didn't just haunt the invisible dimensions around us, but held onto us. Possessing our flesh. Was this the confirmation she had been waiting on? If she had proof of demons, then that meant proof of God, right? This eleven year old daughter of disdainful Pentecostal parents completely believed she had received a small window into the supernatural world of biblical reality. It wasn't enough though. Everyday she would have a few moments in front of that mirror, and everyday this stranger would stare back at her. Unemotional, cold, calculating. Mimicking her every movement and mouthed words, but watching her, intentions masked in cold observation. What would it take for this girl to bring this thing out into her world and prove once and for all that everything she had been taught in church was real? It wasn't enough to talk to it. The "who are you" and "I see what you really are" statements didn't seem to do anything. The girl thought she felt the environment around her change a bit, similar to what she felt when deep in prayer at church. So, there was some effect, but nothing that triggered an outright reaction from it in the mirror. During this time, sexual abuse took place and she became keenly aware of what her body felt with certain touches, and while secretly exploring her body in the dark at bed time, she would look over at the mirror, wondering. She started to challenge in hushed whispers for the evil thing that would watch her from the mirror to come and attack her. Reflecting on her own experience at the hands of her father, she would try with all her might to summon this thing forward. Demanding it prove itself or she would no longer think it were real. Willing to allow herself to be sexually assaulted in order to receive confirmation that God was real, even if by the hands of his fallen minions. This demand went on for years. YEARS. When she hit fourteen years old, she didn't notice it in the mirror any longer. It had progressed into something that was following her around. Manifesting in the paneling of her room. I remember her room pretty clearly since we spent a lot of time up there together. Her walls were covered with that 70's style dark oak wall paneling, with the rough surface that had the wood grain look to them, and her door to her room was also a wood grain door, but a lighter pine finish. I remember how odd it was going up there to her room. The outside of her door had a little loop and hasp lock on the outside of it. Apparently her dad put it on there to make sure she didn't sneak out when grounded, preventing her from accessing the restroom. Luckily she had figured out how to slip a piece of construction paper through there and pop it out when she needed to really go to the toilet, but then would get in a lot of trouble when it was found undone later on when her dad would let her out. Truly a messed up situation. Regarding the paneling and her door though. She began to see faces watching her in the swirls of the wood grains, one in particular on her door. I remember her talking about this, and looked at the swirl she was talking about. It was spooky and I can see how she thought it looked like a tormented face, but the rest of her experience was disturbing as well. Not only did she see these faces watching her, she would masturbate in front of them demanding they come out and punish her. Prove they were real and that God did mean business when it came to belief and sin. She would cuss at them. Claim they had no power or weren't real. Purposely seeking to provoke a reaction of any type in order to give her conscience ease. Again, for a few years, nothing would come of it, but she wouldn't give up. Convinced they were toying with her, waiting until just the right moment to pop out in front of her and prove their reality by heartlessly torturing her for her grievous behaviors. The time came when everything between her father and mother blew to bits. She was sweet sixteen. She demanded freedom. She demanded respect. She declared she didn't have to put up with their mistreatment anymore and that if they didn't let her move out, she would end her life. They took her to a mere two visits of crisis counseling, and faced with long term therapy costs opted to let her leave the home and venture out on her own. Essentially washing their hands of her and opting to save their marriage instead. It was an amazing triumph for this young woman. And do you know what happened the same night she left that house filled with trauma and haunting demonic influences? All of these behaviors ceased immediately. Her doubts about God's true power had lessened. What changed her? I honestly believe it was the relief of the stress she was enduring. This little girl, since the age of eight, was desperately seeking anything in her life that would give her attention and assurance about how the world truly was that of the Bible. She needed proof that she deserved her suffering. Even if it meant courting Lucifer himself. Once she got out of her parents' home, she had less pressure to seek relief from the conditions she was living under. She had a boyfriend to love, a new place to live without fear of a father hurting her or a mother just standing by while it happened. She had a future in front of her with friends around her that didn't judge her and offered advice outside the normal realm of Pentecostal guidance. I went to the same church as her until she was eleven. I left the church about the same time, and knew several people who suffered the similar struggles with getting confirmation in their beliefs any way possible. Some would try to kill themselves, others did deviant sex acts involving relatives, objects or animals, and one in particular delved into drugs and higher consciousness to seek out God. I never saw her again after she turned sixteen. I talk about this girl so much because she was me. I really don't know who she was when I look back on it now. Seriously, I have zero connection with who that was. Sometimes, I wonder if that hard faced nightmare in my skin that was staring at me from the mirror is the person I am now, only muted due to the then current terror of a life I was living. Maybe it was just my disassociated self making an appearance. I know one thing, I was desperate for proof, willing to be hurt by the baddest of the bad in order to receive it. I was desperately Lucifer's little offering for the taking, and even he wouldn't have me, and for the longest time the reality of the rejection crushed me because it led to a deeper understanding that I wasn't going to accept until I entered my twenties. There is no God, and that is a good thing because now I don't have to tolerate being hurt anymore. There's no Kewpie prize for being a martyr in this world unless you are rich or religious. Count on that.
  8. 3 points
    Friend of mine brought up his increasing frustration with how easily the religious swallow ridiculous doctrine and unhesitatingly apply it to everyday life. He cannot stand how easy it is to live with a mind so warped that even the word "the" might mean that the End of Days will happen by noon time after a lunch at Subway. He isn't the only one just flabbergasted at how easy it is for believers to accept that God doesn't do any one on one counseling anymore, and they are oblivious to the fishy way a prophecy is changed to fit a prediction after an unexpected earthquake shatters a small mountain community in the world somewhere. He wasn't sure how to put his thoughts on the subject into words, and while I follow his line of thinking, I think a bigger discussion on the pointlessness of arguing in apologetics is more on task this time. I apologize ahead of time how semi analytical this might sound, but after a few re reads of this entry, I just don't see an easy way to make it conversational at all. It's apologetics. They suck. So, first of all, compartmentalized thinking, especially within religion, protects one from the difficult concepts of life. Concepts such as failing in becoming successful or accepting the process of death and its permanency. Instead, compartmentalized thinking allows one to latch on to certain ideas about life and death with whatever fanciful ideology one chooses to solve the dilemma with, no matter how irrational. These notions are completely protected against scrutiny and enforce ridiculous concepts of what creates success or defines death. Notions like faith, everlasting life, and supernatural punishment for immorality are hallmarks of many Judeo-Christian faiths. Now, much like algebra, what you do to one side, you must do to the other. For every compartmentalized idea or belief, there has to be a real answer that can shatter the carefully bricked up wall one puts around it. So how do you rationalize the truth of what you believe to actually equate into a result that you want? You have to use a handy little evangelical tactic known as dispensationalism. Dispensationalism provides a proposed historical timeline, on an evangelical level, to reinforce the aforementioned compartmentalized religious thinking process. It provides a cushy soft barrier of excuses and rationalizations to bolster one's aspirations to achieve the sectioned off understanding of how life works. Again, reality is not required, just targeted interpretation of biblical events that are neatly divided up into sections that cover certain time periods in scripture and .... Read more at my blog The Bluegrass Skeptic http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/the-padded-cell-of-apologetics/
  9. 3 points
    Today I've been more anxious than I've been for a while. I'm not sure exactly why. Could be the depressing grey weather, could be me being tired of my dysfunctional body. That'll be another entry though. For some reason the following has been running through my mind today, so I'll put it into typing and hope it'll help let it go. Before I started my deconverting process in January 2014, I'd really thrown myself to God's arms, really trusting that his plan was best. I had zero doubts about my faith and did all I could to show my trust to Father and Son. The result was that I wound up in a situation that was the most screwed up thing I've ever been through. I couldn't but realise that following through what supposedly was God's calling for me would have completely destroyed what I knew as "me". I absolutely could not do it, my self-preservation instinct came in the way. That was horrible in its entirety and going its aftermath a little later, I was seriously suicidal. I felt that not following through also left everything in pieces, and for a while I didn't see what I had left and what I could recover. Still, I didn't lose my faith about there actually being a God for over a half a year from those days. During those months I was in a very strange place mentally. It was so much like losing such a trusted friend and not daring to make contact again. I even felt Jesus was calling me back. It was in the usual things that I'd been used to think of as Jesus communicating to me: Songs playing in my head, mental images, little coincidences. "Baby please don't go" and "You left me just when I needed you most" were my mental soundtracks day after another, among other songs with the "I love you, please come back" theme. Not knowing how else to make it stop, I said "No". Firmly. All my prayer techniques and such still worked for me like they had for so many years, so I decided had to use them to stop this. I sat down to do a ritual in which I prayed very firmly, really meaning it, that Jesus, angels, God, or any spiritual being whatsoever was to never contact me again. Ever. I said in the prayer that I wasn't interested in being anyone's weapon in a spiritual war, or a divine messenger, or anything else whatsoever, and calling me to be such from there on would be against my will, and they'd have to respect me that much because God created my free will. I was very good at conscious self-hypnosis so I went into my head and switched off as many things about magical thinking that I could think of, and even the quick switch into deep trance that I had, because I'd become all too aware that that would open doors to things in my weird subconscious world that I didn't want to deal with. Then I just waited and observed how Jesus seemed to go away. I "knew" he was still out there, but I felt that he'd left me alone, finally. Emptiness, a very hollow feeling was in the place within me where Jesus used to be. I was very disappointed, I felt cheated by God, like the abusive spouse who gives you gifts and "love" to trick you into a place where you'd never go without manipulation. I felt God didn't care for me, but just his own spiritual warfare. I felt that if I'd actually been manipulated by a demon, I had no way to know it - and it shouldn't have happened anyway because I'd prayed to Jesus all the time! Later on I had another crisis when someone asked me a good question about why exactly I let things get so bad in the first place. From there started my walk into agnosticism, into admitting that I have no way to know that anything I've ever experienced was of a god, at all. Ever. Not when I was much younger, hit by a car, and the tree branch I held on to while waiting for help seemed as thick as an angel's finger. Not when I spoke in beautiful tongues and spontaneously danced praise dances in Pentecostal church. Not when a major pain in my body was gone for seven whole years (only to come back worse, though). Not when I felt that a fellow believer knew things about me I hadn't said out loud, and I thought it had to be Jesus speaking to me with their mouth. Not when I had a dream that appeared to come exactly true later (though many times they were symbolic or about normal things that are likely to happen anyway). Not when I met a previously unknown person who changed my life and then went away again. That was awful, too. Not suicidal thought inducing awful, but it was a major crisis and one I didn't expect to ever have, not even when I turned my back on God. I thought I'd always have the inner "knowledge" of God and the angels and spirits existing. Getting used to the completely changed worldview, though, has significantly reduced my anxiety. I spend so much less time worrying, it's very strange. Just now I noticed I've been holding my breath. I feel faint. This is painful, but I'm in the middle of a conscious process of ridding myself of the remnants of magical thinking I have in me. Admitting the weird thought patterns I used to have seems to help giving them the significance they deserve - which is pretty much that "my head is prone to this kind of stuff", not anything deeper than that. Anyhow, there are a few more things I need to do tonight, so I'd better log off.
  10. 3 points
    I used to be involved with a guy that liked to point out all my flaws, offer to work on our relationship, and then would do the exact opposite. Would avoid working on the relationship and blame me, screw around with many other women, and insist it isn't fair he has to change who he is since he likes himself as is. I was the problem, not him. God is pretty much the same. "You are a screw up. You need to do all this to be with me successfully, and I will do this for you in return." Then God turns around and does nothing, and supposedly blesses everyone else who isn't trying nearly as hard as you are. And of course, it is all your fault, because God is above needing to change. It is you that isn't trying hard enough. Yeah, religion is definitely inspired by man. Misogynistic ones in particular. Is it a wonder why so many are walking away from a shitty relationship like that? For some reason, many evangelicals do not understand the distaste for an emotionally abusive relationship with an unseen deity. Forever in love with the idea of suffering for attention, they cling to their abusive ideology, gaining self satisfaction in their personal martyrdom. To suffer, within the religious world, and to do so with a head held high and little to no complaint falling from their mouths, is an esteemed way of life. Especially when dealing with an unfaithful spouse or shaky marriage. Nothing makes a woman more noble than to suffer such treatment with an undying loyalty to her faith and her man. In reality, when you take off the religious blinders, maybe these women could see how actually pathetic they are for tolerating such treatment, let alone enabling it, and even being stupid enough to perpetuate such a mindset in their own children's perceptions of what relationships are supposed to be like. For at least a decade now, I've read, watched, and listened to many news reports and sermons where various religious groups cry that the traditional family is being ruined by liberal agendas. I never truly bought in to that analysis, of course, since the logic was seriously flawed behind such a claim. The supposed downfall of the traditional family, at least within the religious community, has to do with the fact that many people take life more seriously than just praying on Sunday. The availability of the internet has made knowledge about other places, experiences, and cultures so readily available, that many families have shifted their priorities as far as life goals. This includes perceptions on relationships and marriage. Many have learned that the whole "suffer to receive Heavenly rewards" doctrine doesn't have to be that way. Why stay in a relationship with someone if s/he clearly cannot commit to the responsibility? Unlike sixty years ago, it is not as difficult to branch out on your own, single with children. Unlike sixty years ago, wanting to be happy and make the most of the singular lifetime you get to live doesn't sound overly selfish. Especially with all the easy access information out there on how to accomplish said happiness. One is not limited to the small pool of potential mates in their home towns and church vestibules either. The advent of affordable travel has made such long distance relationships become a feasible reality. To stay in a non salvageable relationship is almost like giving up on life. What is to be admired about that? Martyr type behavior in a relationship not only enables the abuser to keep right on expecting that perpetual second chance, but it leaves the would be martyr in a constant world of "Poor me" and "You did this to me, and this to me, and this to me, and this to me..." diatribe. The same goes for those who suffer from depression and are waiting for their chosen deity to come heal them, or irresponsible families up to their eyeballs in debt just praying away for a miracle while everyone stands around watching their house be repossessed. This is a sick cycle of attention seeking. A constant tidal wave that echoes,"Look at what I am going through." Religion does not teach proactive behavior. Everything that a doctrine teaches one to do is reactive. The old saying about an ounce of prevention does wonders is often not repeated enough. In the case of religious proactive behavior? Why not encourage some accountability within the flock? Instead of Mrs. Jones walking in every Sunday, fake smile pasted on her face as she holds on to her lecherous husband's elbow, taking humble pride in how tough she is to stand up in public under such a scrutinized embarrassment, why not encourage her to be proactive and actually hold her husband, and herself, accountable for the break in the relationship? Because to do so puts God on the hook, as well. I normally do not dissect deities and their subsequent obvious lack of action, but this is a topic that has always held me in the most severest of attitudes when evaluating idols and their worshipers. The main reason for this lack of discussion is due to the fact the most common rebuttal is,"Well, God doesn't operate the way we do." Famously known as "God works in mysterious ways." Folks do not like hearing miracles being relegated to mere instances of good odds or just flat out dumb luck, but it is the truth of the matter. When one prays for their puppy to show up after being lost, or for a relative to make a journey safely home, and it actually happens, it is simply a matter of good odds that the puppy was not that far away to begin with, and that Aunt Martha had a very slight chance of 1 in 1,000,000 that her plane would crash. It has nothing to do with having prayed hard enough, or having been righteous enough in His word, that this deity extended a blessing. Folks managing to survive a car crash in the foot lands of Oregon without extra water for five days? That is determination, luck, and maybe genetics. Faith healers and psychics are never found working their trade in hospitals, and the same can be said of an unseen deity in the every day world. Yet, relationships are based around the promise of rewards from these deities anyway. "Pray harder." "You must have true faith (whatever the hell that means)." "Don't overthink it, and just trust Him." "God rewards those who suffer." All of this translates in to the religiously based relationships too. When a husband loses his job? "Pray harder." When a wife cheats? "God rewards those who suffer." When a child dies? "Don't over think it, just trust His wisdom." Where is the accountability? Husband lost his job? Why and how to avoid it next time? Wife cheated? Why and what can be done now? Child died? Why and can you help prevent such a loss for someone else? This isn't over thinking. This isn't showing doubt. It is finding accountability. Religion and accountability have a hard time reconciling with one another. In religion, accountability is fault finding. In a secular world view, accountability is reason finding. That is what I had to do when I cut ties with my now ex. It wasn't all his behavior that made me leave, it was my taking accountability for the direction my life was going and I realized he just wasn't going to be able to be a part of it. I either had to tolerate the continued shifting of responsibility of the relationship on to my shoulders as the unreasonable girlfriend who wanted his loyalty and communication issues to be rectified, or I could move on, and enjoy life without him there. I opted for the latter. We both can find happiness now, though sometimes, it is still a bit of a sour remembrance of wasted time. Always remember this when confronted with turmoil:
  11. 3 points
    I watched a film called "12 Years a Slave" the other night, it was about a man who was captured and made a slave. As the film drew to a close it made me think of all the horrors that happened during slavery. That during the hundreds of years that these people were made slaves, that all the deaths, all the suffering, the misery and pain that happened; all of this year after year, person after person - million in fact and for centuries has been reduced to a blurb in our minds. Slavery in the US is not the only example. Any attrocity anywhere has been reduced to perhaps mere paragraphs. All those people, all that evil compressed and reduced to almost nothing. It seems sad that this happens, but can it really be helped? I once heard someone comment that a single death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic - how unfortunately true.
  12. 3 points
    I can firsthand express disdain at religious parenting, especially Christian based parenting. Not because of just the emotional abuse inflicted with a child's first initial programming of fearing all things to do with Satan, his demons, and the fiery pit, but because of the lack of necessary care for a child's mental health in general. A large majority of Christian parents see issues like constant lying, theft, irrational fear, and even mental handicaps as something that requires more prayer and immersion in the cess pool of what is twisted righteousness. Those who have diagnosed disabilities are fortunate enough to have the public school systems on their side, though what happens to those stuck in a home school makes me even more nervous. For me though, the idea of introducing divine grace to sufferers of neurological disabilities like autism really make me wonder how these so called faithful parents for Christ can be sure, at the end of their day, just how good of god fearing parents they really are. Honestly, there is no way that faith can save them all, even by these religious family standards. For example, take this discussion that was started earlier on a board I observe. A mother hops on there, we will call her Jane and her son John. She is a devoutly practicing conservative Christian (by her own description), has a four year old autistic son. Recently she posted a thread asking for help in how to teach her son about God biblically. She states that "she knows it is her duty to teach him about God and the Bible". Now, before we get to the whole nonsense of the notion of getting a disabled child to knowingly accept grace with full understanding of the implications, one of the responses actually made me ponder a few moments at the irrational logic. A member, who has a higher functioning autistic child than Jane, stated that she has "a 3.5 year old with autism. Every child is different but mine does understand bible stories. In fact, the story of Joseph is his favorite. I do sunday school lessons with him, where we color pictures or make crafts so he will remember the story and i repeat the same stories many times. We also read stories every night before bed. He doesn't get everything of course but he knows alot. I guess it depends on the level of functioning of the child." The biggest understanding to be gained from this member's advice? Have your child memorize the stories and make crafts? Am I missing something here? If all she could impart upon her toddler as far as faith goes was how awesome Joseph's robe was and that by crossing two popsicle sticks and using some glue you can make a cross, then he is screwed! If that kid died tomorrow, by this particular group's beliefs, he would roast. I realize that he will likely grow up to be wonderful young man, but if he never genuinely accepts salvation, or at least accepts salvation for love of God and not for the rewards of Heaven or fear of Hell, it makes me ask: Who failed here? God? Or the faithful parents? Now back to mother Jane and her son John. I know her son is not a high functioning autistic. I'm sure he will understand the concepts of right and wrong eventually, but to just obey without understanding isn't enough. I know some have said that there is an age of accountability for children, and anytime before then, they are Heaven bound. This is based on David's stating he would see his dead baby again someday. How do we know David was not speaking out of denial? There isn't any implicitly stated rule or regulation. For fuck's sake, kids were torn up by bears for calling a man bald! You are telling me they went to Heaven? Or are they in Hell and eternal torment forever because of a minute incident of mild bullying? Others have told me that so long as the mentally handicapped are too incapacitated to decide then they are considered like innocent children and are Heaven bound as well. Yet, there isn't a single solid proof of this in the Bible. Fact is, the Bible treats mental illness like a demon possession. Of course, you also have some who have said that when someone who is disabled or too young to understand dies, that they come before God whole and able to understand, and it is then that they decide. Again, not a shred of proof in the written book of the Bible to support this. Just a bunch of cherry picked scriptures and a bunch of injected conjecture and meaning that isn't really there. There is this uncomfortable truth out there and like the big elephant in the room, no one is talking about, and that is a pesky little statement made by this deity, that knocks all these claims of salvation for babies, puppies and handicapped people. This scripture is consistently thrown in the face of atheists, fellow Christians who aren't following the rules the way their church thinks they should, and at other relgions in general. Which scripture? C'mon now, you know this one! I'll give you a hint. It's in Romans chapter one. Remember it yet? Well here's a reminder. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. So, I'm sorry, Jane. If you can't get your son to genuinely accept God, he's going to burn, and you have to ask yourself did you fail him as a mother? Were you a shitty example of faith that doomed your son's soul? Or did God's presence not live up to what He claims? Perhaps you should step away from all the Bible speak and think long and hard about what you are truly trying to impart on your son. If you do that, you are going to have to think really long and hard about what you think you signed your own personal life up for. Personally, I think you're being a total cunt. However you go about it, you will have to discuss the consequences of lack of faith. You have to explain to your handicapped child that he isn't perfect, that he is a sinner, and that he is NEVER good enough without God in his heart. You are going to counter program him with fear and continuous dissatisfaction with himself while at the same time trying to convince him he is important like everyone else. Forget the fact that his being autistic and all the personality differences that will make him stick out isn't bad enough. I struggle daily with a child who is ADHD, very emotional and genius smart. He has the pressure of teachers trying to help him not get ahead of himself, lose control of his feelings, or lose his school work. He has the pressure of other kids who know he is emotionally vulnerable and are intimidated by his advanced learning skills and mature thought. Everyday he looks in the mirror and knows he sticks out, and everyday I remind him that isn't a bad thing in the long run. In the long run, he is going to face challenges everyday, but he will also be in control of his life and thoroughly enjoy pursuit of what he wants to accomplish. And he'll find plenty of others who stick out, and realize that sticking out is what makes good company. He'll be compassionate not out of fear of eternal torment, but because he will want to leave a legacy worthy of remembrance in his wake. How will Jane's son ever contribute, or any child with such dogma and disabilities combined, when they are being handicapped even further with issues that are above their understanding or control? If ever there were a path to lead to further issues and lack of progress, I would say John has been set on it, and he can't even count on his own mother to protect him.
  13. 2 points
    I came from the flavor of evangelical Christianity where God was intricately involved in every aspect of my life. God was interested in getting me a better job, finding me a husband, and clearing out a primo parking space at Trader Joes. Oh yes, He was blessing me every. single. day. The conversations would go like this: "God blessed me big time today. You know that dress I really wanted to my anniversary dinner? It went on sale! I mean, God knows how tight money is with us, and I just can't believe He would make a way for me to be able to buy it." Or, "God just knew I needed a phone call from (whomever) today. He just knows exactly what I need." You get the idea. I just knew that God was interested in every single detail of my life. Pure Western Christianity ego-centrism. So now, let's juxtapose this with the prayers of a refugee in a war torn country. Afraid for their children, they're praying desperately for a way out that never comes. Or the mother with the child who is desperately ill and in pain. Does that child get relief from the very real pain? What about the dying child? These seem like answer-worthy prayers. In fact, they seem (and mind you, I'm just a human, so I can't claim to know God's priorities), those prayers seem like they might just outrank the dress going on sale, or the best parking spot He decided to bless you with. I have two thoughts about this. One: When God fails to answer our prayers, he's got a mighty "get out of jail free" card. It's called His Will. When worthy prayers are not answered, then it's His "mysterious will." God is not to be questioned. His ways are higher than ours. You know the drill. However, when he finds me a parking spot, he gets all the praise. How many Christians ever stop to think how incredibly self-centered they sound as they make the (supposed) God of the Universe their personal prayer bitch? Did they ever stop and think about the really horrible things that happen to people in this world, whose prayers go completely and totally unanswered? Two: Wow and double wow for your close personal relationship with God. He's intimately involved in every aspect of your thoughts and your life, and He's always going before you to make a way and bless you. Did it ever occur to you that your life is actually blessed by virtue of where and to whom you were born? DIdn't think so. So the next time your Christian buddy thinks being religionless makes you selfish, this might be a good object lesson to bring up.
  14. 2 points
    Can hardly believe this year is nearly over. As the calendar flips over to the 1st of December, we are officially in the final days of 2015, moving on into 2016 and beyond. This coming year offers a grand chance to get this officially situated and squared away, pending a successful contract signing in February. If that happens, the following happens: New place. I will officially be able to get back out on my own again, and finally start to make some headway in terms of being a responsible adult again. Having struggled for the last couple years to get on my feet, the split living arrangement with my brother will finally come to an end. Helpful, but I'm ready to put it aside. If all comes together correctly, the arrangements made after the new place will offer me to pay off some things and start getting my ship righted financially. Once that happens, a multitude of opportunities in terms of what I REALLY want to do will open up. As time draws on, can really start putting my life back together after two failed attempts at doing so. This time however, I'm just sticking with what I know works. No point in trending against the threads of fate and time. Many of my more outstanding bills will be taken care of by the end of next year, pending nothing extravagant or unexpected (which I always prepare for) happening. As things are paid off, more money out of my checks remain in my bank account, which allows me to look at doing things I want to do, instead of need to do. Long term forecasting aside (not a strong point of mine), even in the short term - it does lead to some financial freedom and some breathing room in terms of stress in my life. Now, on the new challenge - since I have been putting together some measure of success in the world as far as weight loss goes (65lbs lost), I've decided to focus on toning up as I appear to have hit a plateau. Having hovered around 217-222 for the last two months, it's a safe bet my body has reached it's ideal weight. If that is the case, then so be it. The new challenge however comes in the form of this. I am so psyched about this, having been told from family that participated this year that it was an absolute blast. They are wanting to put together a team to run it, and I decided to put my name in the hat. Along with that, a very dear friend of mine wants to join as well, bringing out team count to 4. Having looked at the obstacles involved, I must say this will involve a fair amount of training - but I feel like I'm up for it. Going to give it my best shot. As always, I hold high hopes that a new year will hold promise for me, and 2016 is no exception. That all being said, I'm keeping it realistic, and with all due luck (all hail Luc!) - I can finally get back to the life I want to live without having to cave into the stresses that come with living in society. Maybe, just maybe - I can be whole again.
  15. 2 points
    This stupid weather! Right now it's much too easy to dress yourself way too little or way too much. I feel a cold coming on and I have an exam on Monday, I'm trying to survive by resting a lot and studying at least a few hours every day. I just hope my body won't do the old trick of getting my fever up high the previous day so that I can't even think of going. I've had that happen many times, especially before my burn-out in 2011/2012. My head's been doing weird things. I hallucinate colours and my eyes have a hard time focusing. In the autumn, due to sensitivity to my meds, I would wake up during a few nights and freak out over seeing flying snails. A good thing that my head chose flying snails for vision material, as right then I was in the middle of the huge crisis that ended a few months later with me knowing I was agnostic. Seeing angels or something would have wrecked me up even worse. But since I saw flying snails, I knew for sure that it was my head crying for help and had my meds adjusted. The visions stopped and I was told that if I ever see anything like that during daytime, I must get to a doctor asap. But random colours aren't anything like that, right? I think of my past a lot. There's so much there that's hard to accept, and there's a lot that I think that I've worked through and gotten over, but then situations come up that show I haven't, at all. It's not uncommon for me to wish I could start my life all over again. Thinking that God picked the perfect family for me, and then during my New-Age period thinking that our souls had promised each other to walk together before we were born, was such a waste of time. Forcing myself to think it was "good" that I had so much illness in the family, that my suffering has a "higher purpose" that God would let me see clearly at some point. Waiting for that goddamn purpose to become crystal clear, expecting it to be something amazing because I'd been through so much crap. You know, you can't make blades without fire, without beating them just right, and someone prophesied to me a long time ago that I would be a weapon of God one day. How glorious that "one day" would be when I'd transform from a particularly ugly duckling to one whose every little step is guided. I had a strange mother. Well, she's still alive, but we're not in touch much at the moment. She wasn't openly fundie when I was pre-school age, she'd tell me that religious people were weirdos, in the middle of singing some very beautiful hymns. I didn't know what to make of that, so I took the "religion is strange" attitude and had other imaginary friends. When I was 12, a first grader died on our school trip. Suddenly my mom felt like telling me the poor kid had gone to heaven. At that point I thought all the stories of Jesus were mostly akin to fairytales or fables, and there I had her tell me the kid was in heaven, and even some 15 years later tell me that it was the right thing to do. Years went by and I wound up Pentecostal, amazed that the hymns, the book, everything was "true", based on the personal religious experiences I started having. At that point my mom had spent some years expecting ufos to come get her, she made me watch X-files when I was in elementary school and told me it was real. But now I was sixteen and she told me she was Pentecostal as a teenager too. Now comes an interesting detail. She said that back then she knew a girl who could ride a bike with her eyes closed because God guided her. She said that God is like that to the ones who have had the worst lives; that particular girl had had a huge tragedy happen to her, I forget what exactly. But she was riding her bike with her eyes closed and never crashed it. How much I wanted God to love me that much too. How my heart ached for that kind of love. If nothing else, with her example mom taught me to NOT give birth to a single kid before I'm sure I won't be completely delusional when the kid is growing up. It doesn't matter much whether it's ufos or Jesus or a huge conspiracy theory you're indoctrinating the kid with, just being raised so detached from the world and so frightened of enemies that aren't there is incredibly harmful and I won't personally subject a child to that. Not even if I go past my best fertility age trying to get better. I don't believe that I need kids, but if I ever have a kid, I know it'll need me. And if I am to be a mom at all, I want to be a mom that can be counted on, a consistent mom, a mom who knows who she is and can show a good example of self-esteem. The mom I didn't have.
  16. 2 points
    Hi. I promised some folk in the chatroom earlier this week that my first blog entry would be about Kirby, the pink creature that's in my avatar. I'm going to tell you right away that this blog entry won't be about much else, I'm just testing how this works. So it's Kirby on a warpstar from the 8-bit NES game "Kirby's Adventure". My friend had it when I was a kid, I'd sit on the floor next to him and watch him play it from beginning to end. Years and years later I set up a NES emulator on my PC, downloaded the game, and played it from beginning to end. It was surprisingly fun and brought back many good memories. Egh. That's enough. I'll make a more meaningful one next time. The threads on the board are giving me plenty of food for thought and I do feel it's more fair that I flood my own space here instead of the threads. Thank you for being there, ExC community.
  17. 2 points
    In the past few ywars it has really come home to me how differently I view the world from the average person. Even growing up I saw things that other people either didn't see, or ignored. I was always that kid who pointed out the emporer was naked, and sadly for me I was surrounded by people who were not very bright. They laughed at my questions and told me my curiosity about the world was odd. I was lucky enough though to have access to libraries, that answered a lot of my questions when other people wouldn't. Wasn't until I violated a social norm that I realised exactly how different I am from most people. I believe in total honesty, no "white" lies. I believe everyone is equal, that people are more important than money or power or status. I don't think people in power are any more worthy of anything than the rest of us. I don't think my kids are perfect. I think the education system teaches people what to thik, not how to think. I don't believe governments have anyone's best interet at heart except their own. I believe insitutions are corrupt to the core. I am a bit of an anarchist really. Seems to me that people are just programmed to believe the things they do by their socialisation, backed up by media and the need for social approval. Ever since I got the sharp end of social disapproval for my violation, it is like I can really see the world more clearly than I ever did. My biggest problem now is that every time I express an opinion that runs contrary to social norms I get in a stupid fight with people who have not had to see the world the way I have. My rational mind knows that they will never see life the way I do because they are not me, but my emotions scream "why can't this idot see that it is not a one size fits all world, and that there is more than one way to do things or view things". I just cannot seem to stop arguing with idiots. The alternative is to just shut up completely, and keep everything to myself, caught in a prison of lack of self expression, pretty much a mental death sentence for me. I have learned the hard way what it is people expect me to say, that I am to "play the game" by someone else's rules, but I really don't want to. I want to be able to say what I want without having to constantly argue with people who haven't walked in my shoes. As it is now, the friends I had have pretty well all drifted away seeing most were christians, and I no longer feel close to anyone. I can share my feelings with my parter and my ex hubby, but I don't want to overload them, men don't tend to like to talk about that stuff as much as women. If I cannot express my opinions and feelings on the net without people jumping down my throat trying to force me into comformity, where can I? Is there anywhere left that I can just be who I am and think what I like without people trying to convince me I am wrong about everything?
  18. 2 points
    When fundies get confronted with a very uncomfortable truth, one trick that is sure to come out of the hat is the martyr game. I've been dismayed to discover that one of my favorite food chains, Chik-Fil-A, is virulently anti-gay, but even more dismayed to see how Christians are responding to its CEO's message of intolerance. Look up "tolerate my intolerance" on Google and enjoy the putrid wash of outraged fundies who can't understand why liberals, if they are so very, very tolerant, won't let them be intolerant and bigoted without raising a fuss. I mean, just look at all these pro-equality people mad at them! Surely tolerance means they must tolerate everybody, even those with whom they disagree, right? But they raise a good question. They don't understand why people just don't let them have their little corner of intolerance. I think it's a good question and so I am answering (for myself, anyway). Here is why: * I will not support bigotry that attempts to institutionalize itself. If bigots were properly ashamed of their views and understood that they were a fringe element that deserved to wither and die in the sunshine of equality, that'd be one thing. But they are trying to enforce their bigotry via laws and social mores. When they say "tolerate me," what they really mean is "let me run roughshod over your civil rights." * I will not allow the intolerant to impede human progress. When one's opinion doesn't impinge on liberty and rights, I don't really care. Nobody's going to try to force me to like pineapple cake. Nobody's trying to make pineapple cake mandatory for all people, even those allergic to pineapple. But when "toleration" means letting someone pass laws preventing another person from using their civil liberties and enjoying the same rights and privileges as another, that's not going to happen. I'm sick of dragging these bigots along. * I will not allow the intolerant to think for one moment that they are good people who just hold a different opinion. They are evil people whose "opinions" demean and degrade others, and they are trying to control others' actions that are none of their business. They "don't believe" in gay marriage? What does that even mean? I think they think they're saying they don't believe that it should exist. But what they're really saying is that they don't believe that all citizens deserve the same civil rights. They're really saying they think they have the right to get involved in a consenting adult's relationship. That's not the mark of a good person. * I will not allow the intolerant to redefine words. Bigotry is what they are doing and believing. I will not let them try to squirm out of that word by whining that they don't "hate" gays, they just think they're inferior in every way, want them kept well out of the public eye, and are happy to try to pass laws forcing them into second-citizen status. * Last, I will not allow bigots to escape history. Every time humanity has been poised to take a leap forward, bigots have dragged at our coat sleeves. Every time a big societal change happens, bigots--especially Christians--have been right in the forefront of opposition to that change. I love the macros running around the net comparing anti-gay protesters with anti-mixed-race protesters, because that is absolutely what is going to happen. Anti-gay bigots are going to whine and scream and gnash their teeth about it till it's painfully obvious that we've all moved past it, and then some new bigotry will present itself for them to leap upon as the LAST DEFENSE AGAINST EVIL. Here is what tolerance actually does mean: It means I will defend to the death their right to be bigots, up to the point where their bigotry harms others. I will let them have marches declaiming civil rights. I will let them write op-ed pieces decrying this massive injury they think gays are dealing the world. I will let them put bumper stickers on their cars proudly proclaiming their bigotry. I will look the other way when they have conventions based around their narrow-minded definition of "family." I will not muzzle their public speakers. What they do on their own time is their own business. But when they then try to pass laws setting their views in stone, or hurt others who don't share their bizarre beliefs, that is where I will rise up and refuse to "tolerate" these backwards hicks. Another trick Christians use is the redefinition game, after all, so part of my tolerance is also refusing to let them redefine the word "tolerance" to mean letting them hurt others. If I were a Christian, I'd have a really tough time hearing Chik-Fil-A's CEO smugly saying he's "guilty as charged" when confronted with his anti-gay stance. Bigotry is nothing to be proud of. That's something to feel shame over, and something to work to overcome. That a well-known Christian is saying these vile things and NOT being smacked down--in fact being lauded by no less than a Republican ex-presidential candidate--is something that all Christians will have to explain to humanity one day, just as they've had to explain the Crusades, the witch hunts, child sexual abuse in both the Catholic and Protestant denominations, and the deliberate, flagrant deceptions seen from fundies in the Dover ID trial. I do think that CEO said one thing that is true: "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage'". Pot, meet the kettle. I hear you have something in common. Maybe fundies need to wonder if their definition is actually Yahweh's. Those of us who've actually read the Bible know that the one man/one woman dynamic is actually pretty damned rare in his mythology book. To the intolerant bigots of the world: I will not "tolerate" your hate and bigotry the way you want to redefine the word. I will not let you run rampant over others' rights just because it'd make you feel more comfortable. And I will not give my money to organizations that will use that money to fund bigoted, intolerant causes.
  19. 2 points
    Shamelessly stealing these from Hemant's blog over at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ because I think these are basically what young Christians think about non-believers, and I think it'd be interesting to answer them myself. Dear Megan, I'm glad you're starting to ask these questions. I think it's important, in an age where Christianity is becoming known as just one option in a supermarket-full of options, to really ask just what drives others who believe differently. 1. Do I hate Christians? No, but I hate what they do. Sound familiar? I hate what Christians today have done to a generally-benign message. I hate that they feel so threatened by secularism that no atrocity is too great for them to commit. I hate that they feel so scared of Christianity being exposed for the lie that it is that they are trying to pass laws to force their weird views onto everybody else. And I hate that they're making their kids terrified of a hell that cannot be shown to even exist. 2. Do I hate the Christian God? No more than I hate any other fictional character. But I hate the idea of him. I don't hate the Joker from that Batman movie, but I hate the evil that he represents. If the God presented in the Bible existed, I would hate him, oh absolutely I would: he's genocidal, thinks women are second-class citizens, advocates slavery, and actually thinks it's okay to punish someone forever and ever for finite crimes. He sounds like a parent with bipolar disorder. If he were real, yes, I would hate someone like that. I'm baffled that anybody could find the idea of Yahweh worthy of love. He is a monster. Thankfully, he is not real. 3. Do I hate when Christians talk to me? When you say "talk to me," what do you mean? Do you mean "witness to me?" I don't hate that, but it's annoying to hear the same irrational talking-points over and over again. It's like Christians all hear some new bit of apologetics in church or in some new popular book and rush out to try them out on non-believers. Then it fades when the next popular bit of idiocy comes out. I don't hate that, but I do dislike being someone's salvation project. It gets tiresome to refute the same stuff over and over again. But do I hate just being talked to, like a friend, by a Christian? Of course not. When someone is a friend, their religion is just a little part of them. If I don't hold the same religion, then we figure that out and move past it. Sometimes we might talk about religion, but it's not about witnessing but about genuinely sharing and communicating. You say that Christians witness to their friends out of love and fear, but I fail to see why I should remain friendly toward someone who doesn't show respect for my boundaries. You don't get to abuse me or take advantage of me and then say it was done out of love. 4 and 5. Was I ever a Christian? Why did I stop being a Christian? Yes. I grew up Christian, loved the Jesus I was spoon-fed with all my heart, and actually considered becoming a nun for a little bit. I married a preacher when I got older and was active in church. But I began asking a lot of hard questions when I realized that my Christian experience and real history was not lining up with the Bible at all, and I left Christianity without a single glance backward sometime in the early 90s. I'll skip 6, since I don't write an awesome advice column... 7. Was I treated badly by Christians? Yes, but who hasn't been? You're far more likely to suffer violence and depravity at the hands of Christians than at those of any other religion. It's non-believers being hurt by believers, not the other way around! Look at the states that identify most with being Christian and see how these supposed Christians live their lives transformed by the glory of Jesus: violent crime, abuse, divorce, premarital and extramarital sex, high porn consumption, obesity, lack of education, and the list goes on and on. Of course I've been mistreated by Christians. The more evangelical a Christian is, the more likely he is to prey upon others. But here's the problem: if Christianity were true, I'd suck it up and drive on through it. I would *NEVER* risk my immortal soul for the sake of a little discomfort on earth for a few decades. I thought about this question long and hard when I deconverted: was I just leaving because I was upset with people like my abusive preacher husband, or (as was the case) was I genuinely seeing a total lack of evidence for the faith? But I'll say this: it's rather telling that the main accusation I've ever heard from Christians is that I left because I was just upset with poor treatment by Christians--it tells me that even they know they don't treat people right. If they didn't abuse people, they wouldn't leap to that assumption right off the bat. Indeed, it's your only real conjecture about why someone would leave the faith. 8. (Not a question, just a statement that not all Christians are out to convert people before she does precisely that.) I appreciate that not all Christians are trying to convert folks, but that's exactly what you're doing by "daring" me to read some awful apologetics book. I don't think you were even born by the time I grew out of feeling provoked by a child's dare! If your faith was real, you wouldn't need to resort to emotional manipulation--and you sure wouldn't need to rely on logical fallacies like "people wouldn't do all this for God if he wasn't real." Of course they would, Megan; people do all sorts of crazy stuff for their gods. I hope you realize that the Muslims who bombed the WTC were doing it for God too--that doesn't make Islam true any more than the actions of some self-professed "Jesus freaks" makes Jesus real. Nor do I need to read anything you offer; you want me to go to the effort of spending my free time reading something you think has value, but you've given me no reason to do so beyond "daring" me. Every time you ask someone to read a Christian book, why don't you make time to read a non-Christian one? But your problem goes a lot deeper than that. You want to convert people because you're scared they'll go to hell. That's a compassionate feeling, and a really admirable one. Do you realize that the hell you're afraid of was created by your own God? He's the one who designed it, and he's the one who lets his beloved children go there if they're not fit to join him in paradise. He's the one who thinks it's okay to torture someone forever and ever for finite crimes. He's the one who set up impossible rules, a ghastly unjust system, and freakishly ghoulish punishments. He's the one who created a Bible that is full of impossible contradictions and an utter lack of proof and evidence for its truthfulness. I'm sad that such a compassionate young woman is suffering like you are. Don't worry, Megan. Hell isn't real, and Jesus never existed. Studying history freed me from such slavery and bondage, and hopefully as you learn and grow, you will become free as well. I wish you all the best.
  20. 1 point
    Oh, the joys of being semi-closeted! I knew I'd hear some ridiculous stuff after hurricane Harvey hit our area. My wife's sister and her husband lost their home. They're insured, but the house was paid off and they intended to live in it until their kids told them they were too old to be on their own. It's going to be a multiple-months long headache rebuilding. They're with us for the moment, and she was in Walmart the other day waiting for the next self-check register when the woman ahead of her randomly spouted off that she thought all of the events had been good for us, because it brought us all together. My sister-in-law replied that her house was literally under water, and she didn't think that whatever social impact it may have had was worth it. Of course, that wasn't a Christiany opinion that the woman had, just a generally clueless one. Then there's the facebook share of an article claiming that this must have been a miracle, because only about 60 lives were lost and with a flood this size you might have expected 1000 or more. So, what, your god underestimated the number of angels he needed to save people, and sent 60 too few? Or maybe 59 too few, because that husband and wife in Katy -- the husband was a beloved pastor -- could have been saved with the help of only one angel. Tell the families of those 60 people that this was a miracle. What a wimpy god you folks believe in! And then there was church Sunday night. In churches of Christ they don't believe in miracles, but they do believe in divine providence (which really is just miracles that aren't obvious). So the preacher was talking about "the chastening of the Lord" and about how sometimes problems are the Lord's chastening, and sometimes they aren't. He talked about how ol' Yahweh said that Satan had incited him against Job, even though Satan was the one doing the work. So Yahweh sort-of took credit for the actions of Satan. The conclusion of the lesson was that it's impossible to tell whether it was random chance, the work of Satan but allowed by God, or the work of God himself trying to bring about some eternal good, but that we should use it to strengthen our faith. Because what really matters is salvation, of course, eternal life, not this temporary life on this wild and woolly planet Earth. I wonder when people say things like that if there's any cognitive dissonance. Or maybe it's evidence that he's found a way to get rid of the cognitive dissonance. But I don't think he knows what he said, which is that is that it's impossible to tell the difference in a world with this kind of god in charge and in a world without one. There are no obvious happenings that would show us that there are invisible helpers (or invisible hinderers). Church-of-Christ folks know this, yet they still believe! My sister-in-law and her husband have been going through a lot in the last few years, and just a week ago a major difficulty in their life was worked out. They thought they were finally going to get some rest. For one day. She basically said that she figured she'd learned enough patience, and didn't need any more training. I think maybe she has some doubts. But she'll shove them down and get on with her life, and continue practicing her mythology. They'll continue to live a life where they take care of way more than their share of their own and other people's burdens, and never see that it's they who are "angels," not any invisible beings. They'll attribute their own strength to the help of this invisible being, despite the clear evidence in their own lives that that god doesn't exist.
  21. 1 point
    Well, wasn't going to post anything about this, but because I've come to know some of you, and care about you...albeit in a virtual way...I thought I'd share this here. I've decided to go back to faith. Not my former faith life, that 'former' me is gone. When I deconverted from Christianity, no one could ever prepare me for the journey that would lay ahead. There were days, when not having any beliefs at all were great. I'd say...liberating, at times. And then there were moments, when I missed my faith...the habits, rituals, traditions. But, I had given up on seeking a god anymore, and definitely didn't think much about Jesus, any longer. The Bible still isn't proof of a deity's existence, but if I'm honest, faith is meaningful to me. Buddhism attracted me for a time, and other beliefs. But, I resigned myself to the fact that this life is what matters. And it does. Something happened to me though over the past week. I can't explain it, and even if I tried...you all might think I'm wishful thinking, or that what I'm feeling isn't real. Maybe it isn't, but there is a joy that I have, thinking of Jesus again. The man. Not all the trappings of a story that could very well be man made, but the person that he may be. There are historical accounts that there could have been man named Jesus, who was crucified. But, why he was, we don't know. But, of what I feel, there is something there...something my heart sees. My eyes can't see it, nor my mind understand it, but my heart sees it. His love. His desire to see me happy and whole. It isn't the same as I believed before, that if I didn't believe, something horrible would happen. This feeling isn't coming from fear or wishful thinking. I'd never have guessed that I'd ever come back to this faith. But, there may be a way to follow our own path, and still follow other paths. So, anyway, just wanted to share. I don't intend on clinging to a church, or going back into the cult like behaviors of my former faith life, but I do plan to go to church this weekend...and maybe just go to different ones, just to be close to people who feel like this. I have made some nice friendships here, and hopefully, this won't turn you away from me. We all have a separate path to take in life, and who knows where this one will lead, but for the first time in a long time...I feel at peace. Even if we discover in the end, that there is nothing...a great Nothing...what I feel right now is still worth seeing through. Oh, and don't worry. I won't preach to anyone here. lol That's not my thing. This is a personal path, and it's time I stop struggling...and just let it lead me.
  22. 1 point
    Despite having found out the urban dictionary definition of this word, dorbies still makes me blink my eyes slowly as I digest what happened. Upon further thought on this, I quickly discovered that I am stuck in the perpetual climb of complimental words. While I have never been accused of turning heads where I walk on any occasion, the number of "odd" events had suddenly exploded to unsustainable levels. As the previous entries have detailed time and time again, I have lost a bunch of weight and am really starting to get slimmed down and also tone up. With this, has come extremely odd behavior from the female side of the equation. A run down of several events that have led me to this conclusion have been weird at best. Mainly, is it normal for "run by" complimenters? By this, case in point - at the store about a month or so ago (3:30 in the morning, was hungry and decided to get groceries, sue me). I am in the produce aisle, this woman of my age or slightly younger by my guess-estimation walks up beside me. Out of natural habit, I always take a few steps away as personal space dictates. A long silence ensues, thinking nothing of it - I pick out my produce and step back. All of a sudden, this woman looks at me and says: "Sorry to bother you, but you're REALLY cute!" then bolts off like I was going to swing an axe at her. Here I am, stunned by what was just said, left standing there with produce in my hand and blinking my eyes like: WTF just happened? No "hey, how's it going?" no "Here's my number, so call me maybe?" just "YOU'RE CUTE!" and runs off. Add in slightly disguised flirting from a few others, and the off hand comments from already committed women (like the aforementioned user of the word: dorbies) and I'm left with a conclusion: I'm evidently cute and adorable, yet - women run when they see me. I'm so confused. And it also appears that since I get these two compliments the most, I'm never going to worry about being accused of being hot or sexy. So, cute/adorable with a supposedly sexy voice, and yet - they run. I dunno. Just my random thoughts for the night.
  23. 1 point
    As it stands, my return to a workout routine has not been the best yet. Two days in now, and both have been cut short due to the need to get back into my regimen. Today came with my body deciding that it didn't want to run, so my body got weak and I had to stop, almost in a: "Nope, not doing it motherfucker!" Doing some research a couple days yielded a brilliant guidance tool for measuring your daily metabolic rate: A BMR calculator through google. My BMR is 2104.5 (meaning I don't get out of bed all day), this is what I theoretically burn. Granted, it's not an end all be all, but it's a good guideline. I did the multiplication in the Harris-Benedict Equation and found the following results: For a while, on 2nd shift - I was using the x1.2 equation, which came to: 2524.4. This is how much is needed to maintain on that particular equation. The one I'm working toward again is the x1.55 equation, maybe more later. But for now: 3262 is what I need to maintain my current. However, since I have 20lbs left to lose, I'm focusing on the deficit needed to create that loss. It takes 3500 calories to burn a single pound. Muscle obviously burns more than fat, so focusing on cardio with interspersed weight lifting. It recommends not doing more than a 1000 calorie deficit a day. If I can keep my calorie intake around 2000-2500, I will be good. I'm also keeping tabs on my own workout burns per day, and doing a minor calorie count to make sure I keep it within boundaries. Being back on 3rd shift will help with the calorie count, because I am less inclined to eat on this shift. Oh that too, back on a shift I can actually feel human on again. I woke up feeling alive for the first in a LONG time today, and god damn it feels great. I knew the shift switch would solve a lot of my problems, and it would appear I was correct in my thinking. Now with the new shift, new overtime potential opens up, and that means extra money to start getting things situated in my life. I think pretty much every wild hair I have in terms of trying to be social is gone (it's a bygone conclusion that my introverted nature doesn't allow much for it), so I can focus on just doing what I need to do for myself. I would say something else about it, but I'm probably jinxing myself. The life of a jinx, you can't tempt fate too much.
  24. 1 point
    I had a second bad tooth removed today. Much unlike last time, this time I'd known for weeks I was to have it removed, I'd talked with the dentist about the procedure a couple weeks earlier, I'd had antibiotics to stop any possible infection, and was all kinds of prepared mentally and physically. It went very well. The laughing gas worked. It didn't make me amused, but it was just like being in the deepest, heaviest trance ever, with actual silence in my mind. The numbing worked perfectly too, I didn't feel pain at all until a bit later, when I was already walking outside - and even that is nearly gone now. I'll be living on smoothies for a few days again, but it's no big deal. I have one more cavity to fix later this month. I'll get to have laughing gas for that too, just to make sure that it is a positive experience as well, and that my phobia has officially vanished, so I can go without the gas from there on. At this point I don't think I'm going to have any problems getting my yearly check-ups done after this. There's no sense letting my teeth go bad. I'm still thrilled that my ears don't hurt from wind like they used to; the tooth infections made them very sensitive too. I'd do a happy dance if I wasn't still having the meds for the kidney problem and wasn't required to be careful not to get my pulse up high. Oh well, I'm doing a mental happy dance.
  25. 1 point
    "You're an atheist. How can you know right from wrong then if you don't have God to show you?" I was asked this by a representative of a local Catholic church at a community small business event last night. You know the type of event, where the businesses stay open extra late and let customers hang out till late in the evening. This church had decided they would be a "business" too. A business of saving souls. So, they were offering Communion to anyone and everyone. Well, everyone except me because I had to beg the question,"How is this a good practice? Aren't there standards involved for this?" Which immediately solicited a knowing look between booth staffing and my admitting I was an atheist and a quick false argument hurled my way. You know, this line of reasoning is mind numbingly dim witted. I'm just putting my personal opinion out there up front. Whenever I am scrutinized on a personal level, being immediately reduced to a potential criminal simply because of my secular way of life, I can't help but think you are extremely stupid. So stupid, I don't understand how you graduated high school, attained a college degree, or even had the right to reproduce. "Don't they have a general exam one must take before they reach adulthood?" kind of incredulity is in my mind when I am told I can't know right from wrong all because I don't bow to the throne of Jesus. It took a me a few years to really pinpoint what it was about such a poorly thought out assumption regarding my being an atheist that would just irritate me to a fury. In all seriousness, it wasn't so much insulting. I've been accused of being all kinds of things by people very close to me, so the moronic hypotheses of strangers really don't get to me very much. No, it definitely wasn't a feeling of being personally attacked. It was the sheer stupidity of such a statement. It was the fact to believe such a thing about atheists implies the believer is being simple minded, lazy, a re dubbed cassette tape filled with a diatribe of nonsense. Now, I could dig into the whole fallacy behind this and rehash the usual discussion regarding how human social structures work. But that isn't what irks me. It's the sheer contradiction in their own life experiences and beliefs which are in plain fucking sight (No, I am not sorry for the fuck given). Common sense dictates a few things in this morality argument I hear so much. Now I won't argue against God based on morals. It's a supernatural farce that cannot be defended or decently assailed because we're talking supernatural. Reality just doesn't deal with imagination fueled deification of myths. But, the nature and biology of man completely refutes the morality argument pretty obviously. I don't need to go into evolution, biological programming, or genetics for ...Read more here at my blog The Bluegrass Skeptic http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/trial-and-error-isnt-a-complicated-concept-2/
  26. 1 point
    Morality. There are those who maintain that without the absolute standard of the religion they follow, no morality is possible. There are those who maintain that they have a perfectly good moral standard and standing with no religious outlook. It's a word that gets bandied around to no particularly good effect, with endless and sometimes vitriolic debate over what is right or wrong. Probably we are all guilty to a greater or lesser extent of thinking in its' terms without having much structure to the moral concepts we espouse. Now it's been some time since I came to the conclusion that the only sensible course is to ditch the idea entirely. Ultimately, what is the value in a concept that is used so much in common parlance and in forming judgements if the only basis for assessing its' content and meaning is the framework that we each decide to adopt for ourselves? Which leads me to try to find an alternative. And the only concept that seems to fit the bill is "responsibility". By this I mean that we do not adopt concepts of "right" and "wrong"; these are too easily manipulated into emotive general statements that have little applicability to any given circumstance. "It is wrong to kill". No, not always. If (and I hope it never happens) I see a man threatening my wife's life, I would have little problem with inserting a knife into his abdomen. "It is wrong to commit adultery". Is it? What of those who agree to have "open" relationships? Or what of the carer who take a lover with the blessing of a severely disabled partner, thereby giving him or herself a much needed release and potentially even saving the relationship with the disabled? The media would enjoy the scandal - all because of its' predilection for "morality". But to condemn in these circumstances is, at best, unthinking. Rather, I would seek to look at my actions on the basis of their consequences and accept that I will have to live with those consequences for good or ill. In the end we all tend to act on the basis of a perceived cost:benefit ratio. "Responsibility" to my mind is merely accepting that and being prepared to face up to what I have or have not done. No act is "right" or "wrong", save as it is seen in the context of why it was done and what effect it had, independent of any hypothetical standard. Nor do I think this is, strictly, utilitarianism. That is, itself, a framework which seeks the greatest good for the greatest number. But (and again, I hope it never happens) if ten people were threatening my wife's life and I had a machine gun... Yes, I would use it. I would say: "The majority lost; I was responsible for that decision and for the suffering that flows from it. But also for the survival of my wife. The act itself had its' good and bad results, but I took a decision. It was not a decision for moralizing over in terms of right or wrong; it was simply a decision, an act, a fact of what happened. And the consequences are down to me". Does that make me amoral? Maybe. But the more I think of morality, the more I see it as a meaningless maze of deceit designed to impose behaviours on others. We can leave that function to the law - that way we at least know where we are. Morality, ultimately, takes us nowhere.
  27. 1 point
    As I've stated elsewhere, I love Fight Club (the book and the movie). If you have not seen it, you will likely be lost in reading this, and it will include spoilers. Please do yourself the favor of watching it first. Ideas are larger than individuals. Fight Club is about an idea, expressed well, I think, by the character of Tyler Durden (portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film): In my "fall from grace," I see the plot of Fight Club. A man in the midst of pursuing his ideal lifestyle and all the material flourishes that go with it cannot sleep. He is bothered by something he cannot put his finger on until he meets Tyler Durden, an eccentric soap maker. Upon meeting Tyler, this man's world is turned upside down. He is forced to live without the safety net he built for himself. It is at times liberating, at times uncomfortable, and at times, it is painful. But the pain--the pain feels good. It makes him solid, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then, the pain leads to something greater. A sense of heightened rebellion follows, and the man must attempt to pull his world back into place. He regains his perspective and faces the consequences that go with it. Still, the solidarity with himself and his fellow "believers" (not to be confused with religious Believers) remains in its raw glory. There is no encouragement. There is no acceptance of what is said at face value. There is no doubt. Most of all, a member of Fight Club finds reserves of strength to stand on his own, a "real Tom Sawyer," as Rush would put it: That has been my experience with religion and life in this transition to reality. More than ever, I want to be that hardened, solid man that belongs in Fight Club. So, with that being said:
  28. 1 point
    I guess the title of this entry says it all really. I have a tendency to run from positive relationships, and I'm trying to break that habit. My biggest issue right now is that I feel numb, as in, I cannot feel my emotions, whether I care deeply for someone, love them, or simply feel deep respect for them. The only exception to this is my children, whom I know I love unconditionally as any parent should. All I want right now is to feel again, it appears as though this is going to be difficult and possibly painful.. I probably shut down that part of me as a child, and as a result I suspect I mistook jealousy for love in past relationships. That would explain my tendency to 'always run' from the ones that are actually positive and probably normal. Yesterday I witnessed my boyfriend make a heart, stare at it for a while, then throw it away... The previous evening he had told me that he had more feelings for me than he ever imagined pissible, and that he was falling for me. To his credit he said itbat exactly the right moment, and there was no expectation for a reply. At this moment in time, I'm sitting around trying to figure out how I feel, whether I have feelings for him or not, whether I miss him when he's not here,. Its pretty hard to figure out when all I have to go on is my thoughts. Its pretty obvious there's something somewhere or I wouldn't be thinking about him all the time. He doesn't expect anything from me and nor do I from him. Its so easy, there's no effort required, its simple and I enjoy his company, but I don't want to feel numb anymore. It's like one part of me says he's just another guy, another part of me says he's not, and yet another part of me says run for your life because that's what you always do when someone nice starts falling for you, yet in amongst all of this, all there is, is me feeling completely and utterly numb. I feel nothing. It'sso confusing. Even my friends told him I always run, so I guess he's expecting that now. I just don't know what to do. I'm going to give him half a chance, I can do at least that, but I don't want to feel like this forever, it just sucks.
  29. 1 point
    During my deconversion process, I had given up the idea that the Bible was without error. There was contradictions, not just within the text itself, but within the content, as well. Claiming the Bible was inerrant, became increasingly difficult for me to accept. I came to the decision that God did not pass along a perfect document, but maybe there was still truth that you can get from it. The Bible seemed more like it was a collection of various thoughts and interactions with God. And, if that was true, than I could still get something from it. I had given up any beliefs of a young Earth, a true Adam and Eve, the Biblical story about the Earth's origins, Noah's Flood ...etc. I had given up quite a lot. All these things had an enormous amount of evidence to demonstrate that the Bible was inaccurate. But, the one thing I had clung to was the argument of the Prime Mover. God must exist because there would be no other way for the universe or life to come into existence on it's own. It was around this time that I began to discover the logical fallacies. If you look up the logical fallacies online there are giant lists of them. In practice, there seems to be only a handful that are used over and over again. The most common ones are: Argument from Ignorance, Argument, from Antiquity, Straw man Fallacy, Ad Hominem, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, Appeal to Authority, Appeal to Complexity, Appeal to Popularity, Appeal to Emotion, No True Scotsman, and the Slippery Slope Argument. These are the logical fallacies that I run into, pretty much, on the daily basis. Logical fallacies can only be fallacies when they point to a flaw in reasoning. There may be some cases when an argument may seem like a fallacy, but is not actually flawed reasoning. For example, an appeal to popularity, doesn't demonstrate something is true or valid, but appealing to popularity maybe valid if you are only interested in what is common to that group. Christianity is the most common religion in America, so I am more likely to run into a Christian in American than not. I am not claiming that Christianity is true, only that it's popular in America. The flaw in my reasoning about the origins of the universe and life is that I was making an Argument from Ignorance. Another way to state my argument above is, "We don't know or understand how the universe or life began, therefore it must have been a God." The first half the statement is in contradiction to the second half. By claiming ignorance, it is then illogical to claim to know how these origins began. I find the Argument from Ignorance used most often when a theist is claiming that science can't explain something, and therefore it's acceptable to believe that their belief is true. Each truth claim must be supported by it's own evidence. The lack of evidence for one truth claim doesn't then validate another. If someone has a belief that some God-like entity is responsible for some event, the existence of this entity would first have to be demonstrated, and then they would also have to provide evidence that this entity is capable of doing the things that they are claiming it has done. Without the evidence, the claim is unreasonable to accept. Simply saying. "You don't have an answer, so my answer is true" is flawed reasoning. And, that is the Argument from Ignorance fallacy.
  30. 1 point
    If I spend enough time on the internet, especially if it's in the comments of a news article or perhaps on a forum; chances are I am going to read something that pisses me off. There is then this urge of wanting to tell this person off or correct them; but what I always come back to in my mind is how often do people change their point of view after arguing with somebody in person, never mind the internet? The percentage is basically so close to 0 it can be considered an anomaly. When I remind myself of this, I sheath my keyboard sword and go back to what I was doing. Sometimes though, I can't help but give in but I have yet to come across somebody going "No, you're right. I was being a fool".
  31. 1 point
    This is not a well-thought out entry. I'm just really pissed at myself and at other people right now. Just messaged a friend online. Got the brush off. A variation of "I'm busy and I'll try to talk/email later this week." Fuck it. I'm through caring about people IRL. They're all a bunch of fucking liars and hypocrites. It's always "I'll make time for you later." Reminds me so much of my childhood, I can't stand it. My parents were like that, always wrapped up in their own worlds, putting off spending time with us kids until they couldn't put it off anymore. I am so over this bullshit with my "friends". They claim to value my friendship, but they never have the time for it. Why should I? Because I am lonely, because I trust them, I share myself with them. For what? A cold shoulder? A "Sorry, I'm busy."? Some other excuse. I was just thinking last night that if I died, none of my "friends" would know about it. I'm going through a lot of stuff right now and I want so badly to talk to someone IRL. My mom is ill and I can't go to her with things because any upset makes her worse. My sisters are all self-absorbed.. The one who isn't is having some marital troubles at the moment and I just don't feel like it is a good time to go to her with my internal strife. I had/have 2 people that I considered close friends who are believers. I used to go to one of them [not MJ] quite a bit with different things. Now...well, it's rare that we even talk unless I schedule a time for a conversation with her. I don't mind it because I know that she has a life. I just really am not feeling well, and I need someone to talk to who gets that. I need someone and there isn't anyone there. I sent her two really emotional emails last week, trying to communicate just how bad things are in my world right now. I guess I wasn't pointed enough. Or maybe she just doesn't care now that she knows that I am no longer in the fold. Fuck. I don't know where to go from here. I love hanging on ex-c, it's really my only outlet. But I need someone IRL too, or maybe a lot of someones. I am going to go rest for awhile. Maybe I will feel better tomorrow or some other distant day.
  32. 1 point
    "Well aren't you just a big boy!" I'd just rang the door bell of the rather palatial corner lot's brick coated home a few seconds previous when I heard an elderly voice sounding rather enigmatic and enthusiastic, about what I had no idea, from the other side of the large front door I was waiting patiently in front of. A few more moments pass and a rather stout woman, probably in her mid 60's judging by her short cropped silver hair and slowly sagging face, answered the door with a smile. She had a packet of catnip in one hand, so I immediately figured out the white and tan cat behind her was probably the "big boy" she was talking about. Just another certified letter to get signed, so I quickly smiled, introduced myself with the letter service I work for, and asked if she could sign for it. Seeing who it was from, she was all excited, shakily signing the small two boxes on the green form, mentioning how she had three properties she was renting out and this letter was from her lawyers with a contract for a new rental she'd just purchased. I really didn't need to know all that, but you know how it is when you see someone signing for a certified letter. People tend to think negatively on them, usually thinking it must be to do with a bank filing for repossession. I wondered that myself since the place constantly looked in disrepair along the front walk, and it was nearly impossible to make it through the overgrown flower beds to the front door that morning. It was kind of nice to hear such a good bit of news found its way to her door. I just gave her a happy smile at the news, and as I was giving her back the envelope after having taken off my own green post carded receipt, she stumbled out, "You know, my neighbors told me yesterday it was a shame the Mexican hasn't died yet." I looked at her blankly, completely not following her statement, but I noticed her hands were still shaking, and looking at her face, I noticed an excitability in her eyes and a tinge of perturbed emotion in her speech I hadn't picked up on when she was explaining about the letter. Seeing my confusion, she quickly shut her door so her "big boy" wouldn't escape the entrance way of what appeared to be a very lovely kept home indoors. "See, this place is too difficult for me to take care of my husband in. He has dementia, you know." Immediately my heart melted, making me reminisce of the final days of my grandmother's life on this earth. I was awash with pity, and not thinking, I gently patted her upper shoulder, giving her an understanding nod. It isn't an easy thing to see anyone, loved one or stranger, suffer from the disease. To live with that person and take care of them? A hero in my book for all the physical demand to care for the patient, and the emotional toll is unfathomable. She picked up on my concern and continued, her story even worse,"Yes, he's been like this for five years now. He had a stroke five years ago to the day our only son died a year before. Followed by a heart attack a few months later, and now his mental state is just....gone." Her voice cracked, she was looking straight ahead as she spoke, and I know she was reliving those moments as she spoke to me about them. Her jaw was tight, but she kept trying to paste a smile on, saying,"I feel like I've just been bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball ever since. So I hope our move will help out, and get us away from that horrible neighbor who called my husband a Mexican." I could see she really needed to vent. To have something as simple as a rental contract set off so much emotional out pouring, I didn't move an inch. I could just feel she wasn't ready for me to leave, so I figured I would use my ten minutes of allowed "comfort time" and try to let this woman get it all off her chest, even if it only gave her a day's relief. And she did keep on, and I kept meeting her face, and consoling, wondering how on earth she could be this lonely with a high demand husband, rental properties to keep track of, and apparently, atrocious neighbors. "You know, my husband fought for their right to judge him by his skin tone. He is not a Mexican. He served in the Navy and fought for their freedom." Her voice was shaking in muted fury, and I agreed with her, "That's right. He's human. He's another human being who deserves respect from his fellow peers." Shaking her head vigorously with my own assessment, she went on,"Exactly. He is Filipino in heritage, but he was born here. He deserves better than that, but those folks next door are those...oh..." "Fundamentalists?" "Yes, THOSE types. You know, they park their horrible looking pick up truck right there by our mailbox down there?" Seeing my recognition, she gave a wry smile, saying, "Yes. That is not our truck, but they park it in front of our mailbox. It took us getting the lock box kind of mailbox for them to quit taking our mail and throwing it around the street. You won't believe how many times I've complained to the local authorities, but they are with that Tommy Bates ministry. You know, the Pentecostal church that is on TBN? They have friends locally in the police department so we can't seem to get it towed no matter how many times we complain. And we're Catholic, so of course they call us cult members and put animal bones and the like in our box!" Now, I can verify that her last accusation is true. I've seen some pretty disgusting things in that mail box. Rotted garbage. Empty beer cans. It goes on and on. I assumed it was just kids in the neighborhood, they have a tendency to do things like that. Knowing now where the source of it came from, and the ministry associated to the perpetrators, I could see why she wanted to move. Tommy Bates ministry is huge where I live in Independence, KY. (For mod purposes, please don't worry about my giving away the city near my home). They are a global ministry now, and have made many appearances on the likes of TBN, publish a periodical called The Kentucky Voice (I deliver shit loads of them out here), and visits churches everywhere. He's a revivalist at his core, an apocalyptic sadist dreaming of his Heavenly wedding, and if you take the time to peruse his website, just use his name and add a .com after it, you will find a rather lengthy bio dedicated to him. It's waist high in narcissism, and ridiculous. Well, needless to say his ministry is very much saturated in the communities around here, and his fan club isn't exactly high society and non prejudicial people. If you browse through the publications they send out, you'll notice the only diversity you see would be in the business ads. I didn't ask her what set off the feud, because I really cannot imagine anyone doing something so heinous as to deserve her husband being referred to as an illegal immigrant, and having atrocious refuse stuck in her mailbox on a regular basis. To see the hill billy truck (yeah, it's a junker), parked out in front of your home everyday as a reminder? Wow, the mental toll is huge on this woman, and here I am, first time ever meeting her in the six months I have been delivering her letters, and she pours it all out on my shoulder. Well, I recommended she contact my boss about her mailbox being stuffed with nastiness. That is a FEDERAL offense, by the way, and I told her I would make mention of how this truck is always in the way of her box so that I am always having to pull over and walk her mail. Maybe there is something my office can do about it all, who knows. I could tell she felt better though receiving affirmation about her feelings, and I didn't offer her any shallow solace. No comments like, "Hang in there, it'll get better." Or my personal favorite, "This won't last forever. (What a horrible thing to say considering her own situation!)" No, I just gave her a promise I would see if there was anything our office could do, and parted with,"Make the most of each day, and make sure your cat has a good time rolling in the nip." She laughed and smiled finally. Her cat is probably the only thing keeping her from being completely lost right now. But walking back through the overgrown lilacs and iris blooms across her walk, I really felt a pissed off attitude at the fact she had so little emotional support. And as I brooded for another good hour or so of my driving my delivery route, it occurred to me that there probably wasn't any true emotional support available within her religious scope anyway. Would she even realize that there is more to emotional empathy than empty platitudes and divinely inspired suffering? Which pissed me off even more. She probably didn't even realize she was needing that little vent session, trying to amble by each day with the encouraging words of support from her local church's clergymen while bottling up her disbelief at her situation. Her mindset would tell her it was selfish of her to seek relief, and during the entire conversation, she didn't hint that she wished it would end, or that sometimes she just wants to give up. And that's because she isn't allowed to. I've yet to meet a Catholic who didn't find some reverence in the sacrifice of oneself for others. Not a one who didn't idolize the smallest of persecutions as proof of their stalwart faith. And it isn't just the Catholics who maintain this selfishly motivated suffering to get their pat on the back. No, every single branch of Judaism behaves this way. There is always a selfish satisfaction at the bottom of such desires, and I grow weary of such useless performances, especially by ones who are unwittingly performing them. Christianity, and religion in general, requires one to be completely dishonest with themselves. Belief structures such as these encourage people to hide what they are feeling and kick a few delusional rationales over top of it all in order to be able to swallow down the vile angst that they are trained to suppress. It is sinful to acknowledge you hate someone or to be honest and wish that your loved one's tortured spirit needs to die and find some kind of peace. Even thought here is nothing wrong with having these feelings or acknowledging them, the suppressive brainwashing continues in teachings, and as examples between members. How do they not figure out it is a natural part of the processes of life. You cannot FEEL wrong. You can PERCEIVE things incorrectly, but how you feel is how you feel, regardless of how you were taught to express them. God has said many things that are far worse than anything the entire planet could come up with as a whole, if you believe in that sort of thing. I am glad I offered a tender touch and listening ear, it was well worth it. I know a good ten minute rant can help people clear their minds and move on with their day, and I genuinely hope she accomplished that and had a good twenty minute romp around the house sprinkling psychedelic cat weed for her "big boy". But at the same time, I know it was ultimately a wasted effort, or worse, she will go cascading into self hate and guilt for judging her neighbors who have treated her so atrociously. I'm sure her bishop can point out Saint So-and-So to give her a good lesson on turning the other cheek and not harbor any emotion of being wronged.
  33. 1 point
    This is a bit of a rambling post, up front warning I think an unspoken question behind the whole simpler life quips is whether or not instant gratification is wrong and I sometimes ask myself that too. There is no point in my day to day life where I am prevented from finding out about something I want to know for more than the few seconds it takes me to search on my phone. That could mean looking at Google or using the other technologies at my disposal such as my calendar, mail or somewhere else online. With that though comes the incredibly quick speed with which we fall into frustration when we do not have that functionality. I couldn't use my phone earlier today and when I went to search for something I remembered and I was pretty frustrated. I have only been living with this level of access for a couple of years, but I have so quickly gotten use to it and feel its loss so easily. It's easy to see that and wonder how much good can technology be doing us when we're acting like Gollum without it? Personally, while I can somewhat be torn about it - I still think we're better off than we were before, despite what this video laments about: I remember how goddamn bored I use to be at parties or other social functions I was forced to attend without my phone at it made the experience painful. Now? Don't particularly give a shit. I'll do what I want on my phone and will go through the experience relatively unharmed. Also, unlike those people on those videos; I was never really much of a photo person. I do not understand the whole Instagram thing at all, I suspect I never will. I am a very curious person and the internet makes me thrive as an individual. All I ever do during my free time is be on the internet. I'm not just looking at cats, or watching funny videos - I am reading. I read for hours at a time. I read about things I want to know more about. Sometimes through blogs of people who're traveling or working in another country so I can get insight into things. Sometimes it's about technology or scientific advancements. Other times it's about politics. Yet, for years now for every day since I was about 15 or so I am on the internet reading. People often remark at how much I know on so many topics and the internet is the reason for that. So while the above comic joked about life before google, for me it's a serious reality that I remember all too well. When you're poor and you have to catch a bus and a train to the nearest decent library - you appreciate being able to find out something in a matter of seconds about dozens of topics when you use to have to spend 3 hours in a round trip to be able to find out about a couple of topics. I certainly don't miss those days, that's for sure.
  34. 1 point
    One of the reasons I don't post so much, if at all on this forum is because I am just tired of arguing. You know, I realize none of us are really enemies and that we're essentially just pissing in the wind with our discussions, it is nevertheless draining to argue and counter and respond to points or critiques to your argument, as well as the person you're talking with. I can really appreciate how some people want to just say what they want to say and leave it at that. It get's a bit tiring to have to provide proof that your opinion is valid. I mean, let's be honest here: Everyone's opinion on most topics has very little foundation in reality. We read a few blogs here, some books there (maybe) and we think we got the gist of the situation to speak authoritatively, and even to tell others that they hold wrong opinions on the matter. I sometimes wonder if it's more about proving to others how right you are, rather than an actual honest exchange of ideas. Seeing that no one is really an expert on all the opinions they espouse, it definitely seems like the attitude is more the former. So while I sometimes wonder about the motives and intentions behind the desire for these various "discussions", I more often now think that I am just too tired to argue. It's easier just not to get involved. And besides, I can tell everyone how right I am from my blog
  35. 1 point
    I am glad that I WOKE UP. I am really glad that I no longer live WITHIN the constraints of life according to an unseen "sky friend" and the "doctrine" that the community perpetuated. I don't miss it. I don't miss "him". I began to realize this shortly AFTER my deconversion started June 2011. It was pretty much complete by August and by November I felt comfortable saying to others that I was "no longer a christian". I had FOUND my life...and it was "not hid" in an invisible sky friend like I was told...IT WAS HID in plain view and all I had to do was WAKE UP and open my eyes to see it. Why do we struggle with WHAT WE KNOW to be true and want to protect it as if WE were being attacked when we find contradictions, myth and irrationality??? Why do we have such a hard time accepting ourselves for AS WE ARE??? Why did I have to "become a sinner, in order to be saved?"...Didn't I KNOW my self-worth and was I REALLY that needy that I had to be LOVED BY GOD in order to validate my purpose in life. How very sad is this. I realize NOW that those who are still in religion are "asleep", their own scriptures even say that those who are "dead in Christ" are "asleep"...and they don't want to wake up...they WANT to stay "hid", "asleep" and for the most part, truly DEAD. I am "over" wanting to find a christian-like community for my musical outlet. I have found three community choirs. The first one was not a "good fit", it just didn't feel right...they were practicing one song that I had sung in the Presbyterian church before I "gave my life" away to God. I looked again and found a nice little community choir close to home, I went and I am committed. FUN. People are genuinely interested in having fun with music, performing and enjoying singing. But that was not quite enough. I was steered toward a more professional group by the director of the last group and will be attending their concert and then rehearsal this coming weekend and next week. I have found "a niche" for my musical outlet...it feels good. I needed this past few years to "regroup"...I needed to WAKE UP from my slumber of comfort of self-affirming myth to FIND MYSELF...and you know what??? I am REALLY happy about it. Living life AWAKE is a good thing!!!!
  36. 1 point
    HELLLLOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! I have returned after a much needed repast. Essentially, I went on vacation!! Got back about two weeks ago and have been rather busy with classes. So, with further ado, I will get everyone caught up. I have travelled 3500 some odd miles this past month. Literally drove Cincinnati, OH area all the way out to Flagstaff, AZ and back again. Saw many sights. ENJOYED many foods. Did quite a bit of hiking around wild terrains. Pulled my hair out with boys fighting and the old man being grumpy. And...didn't lose a damn pound. BUT, that is a-okay. I have put on a whole whopping 1.5 lbs over the past month, probably due to my sciatica flare up. Haven't been doing my core exercises...at all. I quite literally took a month off. With that month off, I have still tried to be aware of what I am consuming and how much, and now that my garden is full tilt, I am set as far as healthy options. Funny thing, when we returned from the trip and I harvested my greens. I literally got about 2 garbage bags worth of food!! Cooked it all down and froze portions. It's amazing! So.... I am back at it. I'm hoping this will be like a mini reset and I will reap some benefits from it. I am going to start seriously buckling down on my cardio now and hopefully my sciatica pain will not punish me anymore than it already is. Spoke with my neighbor down the way with a pool and he says I'm more than welcome to use his pool anytime to workout. Only way I can think to workout with my nerve pain being so severe. I quite literally hate living some days due to the pain. Anyway, I'm back! Not worse for the wear, and definitely have gotten my motivation back! I look forward to hearing from everyone else on their progress! I haven't taken any major pics lately since I haven't worked out, but I have one up here from my trip. I am weighing in at 192.5 lbs right now. Not too shabby for all the yummy food I had while vacationing!
  37. 1 point
    I am reading the OT to remind me how stupid the bible is. I am sharing some comments and questions with you. Let's see how far I get. 1.- 3. Creation God creates stupid humans and punishes them for their desire for knowledge.The proclaimed punishment turns from "though shall surly die" to labor pain, the rule of men over women (3:16), cursed grounds and hard work - well that escalated quickly. After they got kicked out God didn't destroy the now useless (?) tree.Instead he made a cool flaming sword and some poor cherubims are probably still standing there and protecting the tree. 4.- Cain and Abel Cain kills his brother Abel, because his holy daddy likes him more than Cain. God gets super-mad and Cain is worried: "Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me." (4:13) Wait,what? Who is Kain afraid of? I though there were just Adam, Eve and his dead brother and probably some baby girls that don't deserve to be mentioned. It gets even more confusing:And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. What is sevenfold death? Does it mean that six of the killers family members will die, too? Well, the killers family has to be Cains,too. What a comfort to know that if your nephew (which is probably also your brother-in-law) kills you, six other of your incest family die with him. 5. Family tree Good that the bible is inspired by god and we only get useful information from it. 6-8 Giants and the flood From the first verses we learn: sons of god (angels?)+ pretty women= GIANTS. Must be very painful to give birth to them... Why aren't there giants anymore? Are we women not attractive anymore,angels ? So god decides he should reset his creation, but instead of just snapping his fingers and let it happen he need water and Noah has to do a lot of hard work.After reading the flood story I have only one question: What about the giants? I want to know more about them and not on which day the arc landed on a mountain. Why were they mentioned anyway? 9. Food and booze "Everything that lives and moves will be your food. I gave you green plants as food; I now give you everything else." (9:3) WHAT? They weren't allowed to eat meat before the flood? Why was Able a shepherd? And why was his offering better than Cains if sheep were useless to him? In my (german) translation of the bible it says that Noah was the first that planted a vineyard. So before the flood there was no steak and no booze, a lot of incest and a average lifetime of 300-900. That sucks.
  38. 1 point
    Hello, as Maslow pointed out awhile ago, it is fairly important to have baser needs met before progressing to something more abstract, such as concepts of freedom or suffrage. It is infinitely more important to acquire food for nourishment than it is to have a beach house in the Bahammas, as is the need for human interaction. My combination of self-loathing, pity, and lack of any source of social contact served to reinforce my isolation or any chance at personal happiness. Though I hate people, I also love them. This short snippet is to explain why I felt the need to subject myself to a rebirth in the blogosphere. As much as it is an attempt at overwriting my personal shame, as it is for the benefit of readers, I felt I had to recreate the image of my blog in that of my new self. The one who was the one who hit on his new mate instead of the other way around; the one with a mohawk who wants to be a drag queen someday, and perhaps even a woman. Although I doubt I could ever give up the penis, though I still would love being a transgendered woman with the good stuff from both sexes. Also, the neuroscientist (or at least the aspirations towards being one) as well trying to acquire dual major/PhD in both Neuroscience and Quantum physics, with a specialty in studying those brain structures which correlate to natural or artificial sense of right and wrong (e.g. states of well-being or misery). The Pansexual Agnostic Multiversalist-Panendeist who is confident in himself and walks with a visible swagger. This blog is about all the interests I abandoned in exasperation following my quitting of pot, and the ironic role of pot in reasserting who I am, even when that crutch is gone, and no longer as pressing as it once was. Going through addiction and sobriety, I can honestly say sobriety's cultural veneration is an aspect of Christian influence because of the mass of Christian propaganda permeating our culture. A damaging perception, as is indicated by research into addiction and moderate drug usage. This is a blog about my personal (not taught) discovery of essentially every esoteric understanding of Buddhist philosophy through contemplation of the mind, Consciousness, femininity, and quantum theory. All of which coalescing into a robust understanding of my place in the world, and a thoroughly grounded attempt at "self"-actualization. My happiness is dependent on my reaction, and those reactions couched in the pervasive socialization of the modern age, to the society around me. Just as this blog is a recreation of the positive aspects of my new self and the world I live in, it is also an attempt at a more mature approach to public policy, namely problems with corporate overreach, theocracy, feminism's critiques (though I consider myself am an avid Marxist-Standpoint feminist). Social injustices must be recognized in order to truly appreciate the full beauty of our world, not merely ignored or viewed in some rationalized context. We know full well why sexism occurs, as well as infanticide or rape, though few will argue that these natural affinities are somehow morally vindicated by their innate existence in human capacity. I hope, most of all, that others will forgive my past indiscretions as the foibles of youth, and opt to reading what I have to say. Debate is welcome, as long as it is extricated from personal attacks, and I hope you will join me on my intellectual journey towards a greater understanding of our Chaotic existence.
  39. 1 point
    "Knowledge - Acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation (Def. 1)" - Dictionary.com "Belief - Confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof. (Def. 2)" - Dictionary.com What you claim to KNOW and what you claim to BELIEVE are two separate questions. You can have a different answer for one question than you would have for the other. These questions are not dependent on each other, they are independent from each other. Here's an example of how these questions can be answered": Question 1: "Do you BELIEVE a God exists?" Theistic - Yes Agnostic - Undetermined Atheistic – NO Question 2: "Do you KNOW a God exists?" Theistic - Yes Agnostic - Undetermined Atheistic - NO If you would answer Yes to "BELIEVE, question 1" and Yes to "KNOW, question 2" that would put you in the category of a "Strong Theist". If you would answer No to both "KNOW and "BELIEVE" that would put you in the category of a "Strong Atheist". But, you could also answer No for question 2, and answer Yes for question 1, and quite happily call yourself an atheist. Just as you can answer Yes to question 1 and No to question 2, and quite happily call yourself a theist. A true agnostic would answer both questions with Undetermined. Although some people claim to KNOW that God exists, and some claim to KNOW that God does not exist, I think both of these positions are difficult to defend. Both of these positions make a claim to KNOW something when there doesn't seem to be any objective evidence to point to. When you ask how they can make such a claim they will always point to some subjective form of evidence. I think the most reasonable positions to hold are the ones that would answer No or an Agnostic Undetermined, to the question "Do you KNOW a God exists". I believe these positions to be reasonable because the question of knowledge is in agreement with objective science and the question of belief is purely a personal stance.
  40. 1 point
    I came out to my wife as an atheist a while ago. Shortly after she was accepting of it but she was undoubtedly very hurt by this. She was expressing frustration in that she didn't have the answers to questions that I was asking but I wont seek the help from people that have the answers. This is frustrating to me that she can live in ignorance of anything that is so important. To make matters worse, a few months ago, I said that we would no longer tithe with my income. We would only use hers. At the time she was very accepting of it and we even selected a charity that we would donate to instead of putting our money in the offering plate. That sunday you would have thought that conversation was with an evil twin. All hell broke loose when I didnt write a check at church. Church consisted of her being one of the people who anonymously raised her hand for "special prayer" and when we got home with tears in her eyes she said that she wanted separate bank accounts because if we are not going to be in agreement on where our money needs to go, she will get a separate bank account. We make good money and have always been on the same page about money and consequently we have not had that issue in our marriage. Most marriages are plagued by money issue and we didn't have that problem for the reasons I just mentioned. I have always felt that if you can solve this problem in marriage (money problems) you have avoided the biggest hurdle. I refuse to get a separate bank account since it starts as a simple separate bank account then next thing you know we are sleeping in different rooms living two separate lives and that is not the marriage I signed up for. For this reason I just write the stupid check. Its not worth it. I love my wife and family and if I have to go through the motions (which is very obvious by this point) to keep everybody together then so be it. I don't cry while they show passion of the christ clips, I spend time critiquing the singing and analyzing outfits. She pointed out to me that its obvious that I am going through the motions and I am a phony. I am a faker. I smile and hug people but they have all made the assumption that I am a believer. While I haven't outright declared myself atheist to our groups I have said that I have BIG questions and Big doubts about all of it. They welcome it and then presumably forget about it as it never comes up to them again. Bringing up the issue always leads to tears since she is she is so hurt by it. Consequently, its often unmentioned so 99% of the time we are the normal loving couple with a great marriage. The "barrier" of my unbelief has faded to ALMOST not there anymore except that unmentioned 1% of the time. It tends to rear its head at the most inopportune times. While we lay intimately in bed, the "mood" is immediately killed as she says "I miss being on the same page as you" or "I'm smiling but inside I'm really still hurt" or "I wish things were back like they used to be". These are the "ice breakers" (unsolicited, off topic, out of nowhere comments) that lead her into tears and completely disrupt the evening (and usually the next morning since she cries herself to sleep over it). This part is the most frustrating for me because religion has faded in importance in our marriage but because of where its "supposed to" be, when we do talk about it, it seems like all the good times get trumped by my non-belief and once every few weeks she has to remind herself that I'm an atheist and things are not supposed to be this good. Her wish is that I sit down with a pastor and talk about all my doubts and have them convince me that god is real. I don't want to believe in god anymore. I dont even want to try. I dont want to sit down with anybody and hear their flawed, uninformed, biased arguments. I am much happier since losing religion. There are periods where I am even losing interest in all the bible history and religious stuff from just being burned out. She forwards me articles about how religion is a "personal revelation" and that each person has to find their own path. The irony there is that having known her for as long as I have, I dont think thats the case for her. In conclusion, just know that I have a great marriage 99% of the time but that 1% of the time sure sucks. EDIT: and dont think for one second that my kids aren't going to be raised skeptics. THey LOVE science and we embrace that desire to learn.
  41. 1 point
    April 1st, 2013 - The joke will not be on me this time! Two things this blog is NOT about: 1. Me whining about how I want to look like Brook Shields in 2 weeks. 2. Me whining about how unfair the world is so I overeat to compensate. Okay, now that is out of the way, the purpose of this blog is to put myself out there with my own struggle with weight loss and addiction to food. I might ramble on about how I am really craving the salty texture of an Angus Mushroom and Swiss 1/3 Pounder from McDevil. I will not ramble on about how upset I am that life has got me down today so I am eating creme puffs. I might talk about how I am having major cravings at the moment and struggling, but I will not moan about how the weight is not coming off fast enough. See, 3 years ago, when I was *cough whisper* 32, I lost 40 pounds and got down to my healthy weight of 165. I did this in about a four month time span. And losing that 40 pounds wasn't torture because I didn't even realize I was losing it. This was the first time I had weighed less than 185 in almost 8 years. Sounds awesome, right? Sounds like "Damn, girl! You are dedicated when you have a goal!" No. Not true at all. I lost the weight in four months because I was walking/biking the 2 miles to work, then working on my feet as a waitress 8-10 hours a day, then walking/biking home the 2 miles all over again. Needless to say 12 hours worth of non-stop physical activity at different paces throughout the day will do that to you and leave little time to eat. Now, on the little time to eat part, I am not complaining because it helped me shrink my stomach down so I could start eating better portion sizes, and when I did eat, I was focused on greens and very little meat, which is all one can afford when shit poor. My caloric intake was right around 1500 for all those who might jump my shit about not eating a lot. I did play a lot of sports in my school days so I do know you HAVE to eat. But this level of activity is NOT healthy, in my opinion, and that is because the process was all wrong. Here's the negative to all the cardio I was getting - and I mean a lot of cardio - it didn't build any muscle, and guess what?!? I injured my back to the point I have permanent sciatic nerve damage to this day. AND, I gained all the weight back over the last 8 months. I am back to 205. Man, 205. As in pounds, for all you Europeans on here, that is the equivalent of 93 kg. 15 stone. A whole lot of fat and wasting muscle on my injured frame. While it is fortunate that I am nearly 5'9" in height, it is little comfort when I am starting to pick out 1X size clothing again. It is also upsetting because I pride myself on being curvy. 165 leaves something to grab or look at, and I have a waist. Even bigger concern is that my family is plagued with diabetes. It is just a matter of time for me, and without health insurance (thanks to my lay off), I will probably die an early death from it. Those three reasons above are why I am doing this. So, this entry says Diary of a Food Addict - The Joke Will Not Be On Me This Time. By joke, I mean the prank I pull on myself everyday for the last few months. I get up, look at my closet filled with large clothing, feel the aching in my hip and legs, and tell myself,"We (because I am royalty) are going to get this under control today." Naturally it never happens. I feel some type of need for satisfaction and I go right for the ice box or nearest drive thru. I KNOW this is an addiction. It explains why after 3 weeks of no caffeine I hopped right back on soda, albeit I am currently drinking only two cans a day though, compared to a previous count of FOUR cans. Like an idiot, I kept putting off getting the rest of the junk food out of my diet, so here I am guzzling a cola. Small changes, small changes. If you fall off, keep back at it, eventually you should make some headway. That is what I was taught growing up in regards to anything that challenges you, though it would have been nice if they taught you how to deal with the challenges creating the challenges you are facing. Still, I take it to heart and I know this is something that will gather strength. If I could beat my anger problem, I know I can lose weight, the smart way. So, what is my plan? First things first, the way I am thinking HAS to change. I know I am not the only one who goes to the fridge wanting some satisfaction, and as you look through the shelves and drawers, you say to yourself,"I don't need to be doing this. I'm not hungry, but ... ah, fuck it. Deal with it another day." Quite literally, to deal with this, I am putting signs INSIDE my fridge. Not just on the outside, but within. Signs like,"This is food addiction talking, not you." "Drink something first." Unlike some, signs really do work for me. It is a physical reminder of what is going on and I can't just THINK it away, and I won't have the desire to physically remove it to have my way either. Plus, I have already made food ahead of time. So my options are clearly positioned and there won't be any rummaging around the shelves to get me distracted too often. Yeah, I know I will slip here and there. Secondly, I am affecting my environment around me. My oldest son Sean is starting to pack on weight, and I don't think it is healthy weight because he is complaining of aching limbs, and frankly, he doesn't have any kids in the neighborhood as friends, so he sits on his butt all day after school playing Roblox or something. I know he sits the majority of the day at school too, so I've been closing the kitchen at 7pm except for drinks. That will be step two in the environment thing. Drinks will be included in the evening kitchen closing starting this coming weekend. Sean will be on Spring break next week so he will raid the fridge even more than normal if I don't take control now. And by doing this together, I am finding he is more conscience of what he is doing too when it comes to eating. I've explained eating an entire LARGE bag of twizzlers is the equivalent of two meals and he got nothing out of it nutritionally. He hadn't thought of it like that. It probably doesn't help his dad would eat a bag of cookies or chips and sour cream like it was a meal. So, deprogramming is key here. Thankfully, Sean is all for it, and I know his dad is too. Thirdly, and finally, activities. Now, three years ago I lost weight and got to my healthy size, but at a big price for the way I had unwittingly gone about it. And that is key here, unwittingly. How does someone lose weight without intending to lose weight? Stress? Work? Economic conditions? All three of these things played a factor and combined, the loss was not overly traumatic. I was addicted to food at that time. I was drinking soda like it was the life blood of immortality. Still, I do not recall suffering through a lot of side effects from resetting. Money and activity level played a humongous role though, and I am going to incorporate this back in to my life, only smarter. I have some Turbo Fire videos that have muscle building exercises with bands. These look like they are sciatica friendly, but the cardio side of the vids I am going to skip.I have never been one for an organized gym class and we all know muscle building is about focused exercise, so 20 - 40 min a day tops on that. For cardio, I still have my bike, and the neighborhood I am in has all kinds of slopes and changing terrain, along with SLOW traffic. Cycling is so much fun. I love it. Now, to the real reason anyone would want to look at this blog. The pictures I promised. I have them below for any and all gawkers. I am looking forward to updating them once a week, in the same suit, along with an updated weigh in stat below it. For those who like the more technical side of things with healthy lifestyle changes, I posted my "break even" caloric intake amount. In case you want to figure out what your "break even" intake is, use the formula below: (Height in inches) x 4.7(for women) = A (Height in inches) x 12.9(for men) = A (Weight in pounds) x 4.3(for women) = B (Weight in pounds) x 6.3(for men) = B (Age) x 4.7(for women) = C (Age) x 6.8(for men) = C Then: A + B - C + 65(for women)= Your daily caloric maintenance level. A + B - C + 66(for men)= Your daily caloric maintenance level. You then have to add an additional amount of calories to account for your lifestyle. Sedantary (On your butt all day, less than an hour light activity a day) 20% Lightly Active (Lots of housecleaning) 30% Moderately Active (Go to the gym every other day) 40% Very Active (Gym every other day, plus sports) 50% Extremely Active (Training for a marathon!) 60% Since I sit on my ass currently and do hardly any light activity, I am definitely sedentary...so, I am going to add 20% to my final caloric maintenance level. Here is the math for me personally: 69 x 4.7 = 324.3 (A) 205 x 4.3 = 881.50 ( B ) 35 x 4.7 = 164.50 ( C) 324.3 + 881.50 - 164.5 + 65 = 1106.3 (D) 1106.3 x .20 = 221.26 1106.3 + 221.26 = 1327.56 1327.56 calories is what I need, AT A MINIMUM, for my body to maintain what I am currently at. Needless to say, I am way over that and it is disproportionately going to fats and starches versus greens, fruits and protein. I am pushing 2200 calories a day currently. I eat half a day AHEAD OF TIME! So, I know I will lose weight fairly quickly just by exercising alone. Build muscle, lose weight. And no, I am not cutting down to 1327 calories a day. That is INSANE! I will cut down to 1800 to start. When you exercise, you have to feed those muscles! The beauty of calorie counting isn't that you have to really count them. It lets you know where you are, and puts things in perspective. The only part that messes me up is protein. I know that I only need 46 grams (1.6 oz) of protein a day, but I love meat. So, I am going to figure out how to break it up throughout the day so I feel fuller longer instead of eating the day's portion in one sitting. But, I digress. Here is my fleshy white flabbiness. Behold the glory that is pasty!
  42. 1 point
    I come from a family whose beliefs centre around Christianity, so coming out leads to a collective effort from your relatives to "help" you turn back to Christ. So far I've only been having conversations with my mum about this, but the common ideas she holds are: I must not have understood the Bible properly. My Church did not build up my faith properly. I couldn't have believed it properly. I am just being tested. I never fully knew what I was committing to when I got baptised. We could have only came from God, so what do I believe in now? Evolution? (note: the answer is obviously yes). It's interesting that Christianity has a whole lot of mechanisms to explain it's way around any doubt one of its believers may have. Instead of considering your doubt to be a stage of growths they ingrain the idea in you that it is just a stage of your Christianity, a test of your faith and an opportunity to show God how much you love Him and believe in Him. It's a shame because all of these circular arguments do not make for conducive conversations. Anything I say is ignored because I'm "blinded" by my doubts and therefore they should not listen to what I have to say. I'm not bitter though because when I was a Christian I learned a great deal of patience from evangelising, a process I always thought was a little pointless because people don't change beliefs just like that. My mum told me that she had told my uncle and he wanted to have a talk with me - as if he would be able to "help" me to remember my "faith". It's funny because they all speak from a position of ignorance and are all in bondage, the very things the gospel claims to free people from but instead subjugates them into babbling all sorts of nonsenses. I now have to deal with the fact that my mum is being emotionally tormented by the brain washing of Christianity that makes people visualise their loved ones being burned for eternity because they didn't believe. I remember the horror I occasionally suffered when I would think of my mum burning in hell for eternity, so I know how traumatising that must be for her, and is one of the reasons I was reluctant to come out about my de-conversion. I hate Christianity with a vengeance because it is a vicious and evil device that entraps people into never ending cycles of fear. Christians need to be de-converted big time.
  43. 1 point
    The progressives are out in force....... He has done nothing but apologize to his Muslim brethern Looks like Obumbo duz his kid in bad placeses Those liberals won't listen to facts Liberals just want free hand outs for all, and it doesn't work that way Democrats think that suppressing religion makes things fair Democrats and liberals want a Socialist nation. (My personal favorite) I listen to this diatribe everyday at work. Usually, I'm stuck in between the two cubicles of the folks yapping at this level. So, not only do I get insulted all day by nasty phone calls to drivers I track and trace, but I also get called a predatory, purposefully ignorant liberal, that thinks stopping all forms of free expression and supporting a Muslim pedophile that wants to give away everyone's stuff to everyone else to make it fair will give us the successful Socialist nation that my party has been gunning for since before the creation of the wheel. To the points that were thrown my way (and the gabbers had no idea they were essentially insulting me with their comments btw). The progressives are out in force.... Really? Is that what we call political activism now? A negative insinuation of bullying? Trying to get Americans off their asses to go and vote is progressives out in force? Good to know. Seeing how it is my singular self out there "in force", I think anyone that doesn't want to vote for my candidate should kindly say,"We don't give a shit. Fuck off." Problem solved. In America, we have this thing called free speech, I can rattle all day long about how important voting is. And that is what is hilarious about this. The rest of the comment following that original snippet about being out in force? You know, they are trying to get people to vote? Doesn't matter who they vote for, but getting folks out to vote. Uh huh, yeah sure. You know they are bribing them and trying to push their agenda. Offering them rides to the freakin' voter booths! If a person can't get there on their own, they don't need to vote. Undue influence, that what it is all about! Wow. All I can really say to that. Now I apparently commit voter fraud too. *facepalm* He has done nothing but apologize to his Muslim bretherin If you can't tell by now, I'm dealing with Tea Party assholes at work. I'm sorry for those of you reading this my be part of the movement, but so far, on a political level, I haven't met a Tea Party member that isn't an asshole. Let alone an asshole that doesn't understand what they are truly asking for. So Obama is a muslim because??? His dad might have given some muslim influence in his life? Really? So, because one has muslim influence of any kind, that makes it bad because???? Oh, that's right, because Christians don't cut people's heads off...anymore. Number one most ignorant comment ever made was Obama being muslim. For the ignorant inclined, did you know that Christians in Africa are currently slaughtering Muslims over fertile lands? Yup. Oh, that's right, that isn't YOUR type of Christianity. I'll reiterate...most dimwitted comment ever made. And the apology part too. Feeling ashamed of mankind's behavior is not an apology. I see a guy rob a liquor store, even I feel bad. Why? Because I am part of HUMANITY. How hard of a concept is this? Looks like Obumbo duz his kid in bad placeses Did I mention these coworkers that blab their gums with less than thoughtful commentary are caucasian? Yes, they are, and to hear these two prattle on all day like this? They might as well fine some shoe blacking, top hats, canes and tuxes and go the full monty. I'm sick of the racism, and I wonder if that is what they think of our president. Such an insult to the president's daughters is bad enough. But is it suprising they think like this? They revere a book with a story of two daughters getting their father drunk so that they can procreate.... Those liberals won't listen to facts No, we don't listen to facts. True liberals STUDY the facts. Liberals are OPEN MINDED. At least the ones I know are, including myself. There have been parties from the conservatives I agree with. I like the idea of not borrowing more money from China for programs we don't need. YES I AGREE WITH THAT 100%. We do need public broadcasting. We don't need studies of effects on mice from Dorito consumption. We don't need to waste how many hours on committees for public safety that don't actually study what they are supposed to resolve! I want to spend money on things we need to get our economy moving. Cutting costs without investment in our citizens, youth, and community programs, will not fetch much return. Gotta give some fertilizer if you want your plants to grow. I won't listen to bullshit. Rape is a gift from God. Life begins TWO WEEKS before conception with my menstrual cycle? Asking the successful to contribute more to the society they leaned on to become successful in the first place is wrong. Popular vote is more fair than the electoral college. All these things I look at the facts on, not opinion, and determine they are horseshit. Liberals just want free hand outs for all, and it doesn't work that way I want to help my fellow citizens to be comfortable. I want my fellow citizens to understand what hardship is, but not be bound by it. I am a compassionate person that understands donating portions of my hard earned money to help others is a natural part of humanity and teaches me selflessness so when someone helps me, I APPRECIATE IT. And one last thought. Everyone keeps saying if you can't afford to have kids, you should've thought ahead a bit better and not have had any. Everyone keeps acting like parents are not responsible if they need government assistance for the monetary upkeep of their families. So are you saying that since we couldn't see 2 years ahead, let alone 15 years into the future and foresee the death of our spouse, the loss of a fruitful job, or a sudden decline in health that the asshole insurance companies wouldn't help cover, that we are irresponsible citizens? That a lost teen who gets knocked up because no one, not even her PUBLIC school system, gave enough of a shit about her to realize she was drowning, is a worthless welfare queen? FUCK YOU! Why has America gotten so pompous and full of themselves about their fellow citizens? If you experience any of these things, are you saying that you should've have never had your kids? Really? How touching! Democrats think that suppressing religion makes things fair I really have to bite my tongue, HARD, when I here this one. I hear it said fin many forms, but it essentially says that because we are trying to essentially get the camel's nose out of the tent, we are supressing religious expression. I really don't bite into the whole "America was founded on Christianity" trolling argument. Not even worth the effort when people do not understand the difference of being influenced and being founded. BUT, to say my asking my business to not force me to pray at company meetings is suppression? That's hilarious! Many religious folks at my employment complain about prayer being taken out of schools. They know damn good and well that isn't true. Prayer isn't taken out of schools. It's taken out of the classrooms and events. Kids can pray privately or even in groups so long as it isn't mandatory for everyone else to participate, or force everyone to watch or show acknowledgement. They know damn good and well it is a FACT you can come in to work wearing a Jesus Loves You t-shirt and mention God to coworkers until they tell you to stop. Democrats and liberals want a Socialist nation. Okay, this is hands down, my favorite thing to hear. I mean, it makes me laugh. If they would end their diatribe with their rants saying this stupide comment, I would smile and laugh and they would be none the wiser to any offense I might take. Socialism. The church society IS socialism. Everyone contributes to help further the good of the church. If Brother Paul has skills at electrical, guess who ends up donating his time free of charge to help with church projects. Pot luck dinner anyone? Seriously, let's consider this. Socialism is the end result of Capitalism. Capitalism causes class gaps, and what happens? Everyone decides it isn't right and wants to distribute money and goods more fairly. I do not personally want a Socialist nation, but in this day and age, there are some aspects to Socialism that would benefit specific government programs and institutions. Schools, highways, and yes, I'll say it, healthcare. There is nothing wrong with neighbors chipping in for the greater good. We are all a part of the garden called Humanity. Ironically, though, I think it is the immigrants who appreciate their right to choose more than any natural born citizen. A great example would be my Peruvian coworker. She has been in this country for about 20 years now, and she still takes her duty very seriously. "You 'ave got to vote. It is important. I like having my opinion heard. When people ask me who I vote for, I tell them none of their business. Because it isn't!" And she is right. It's nobody's business who we vote for. Politics make for great conversation, and sometimes, I do think it is very telling of one's character how they side on issues, but ultimately, it's a personal decision. When I see many members of Romney's parties passing legislation limiting my rights to my body, I see him as the figurehead for his party. He is the captain of the Republican ship, and it is important to recognize that.
  44. 1 point
    So I still go church just to keep the peace. My wife is on me like a hawk watching as I don't bow before eating or go to bed. To make matters worse in church we are going through Abraham's life and we made it to Lot. Most atheists know that anyone who questions yahweh's moral compass will fall off the bandwagon at Lots story. We did get a brief touch on how Lot, the saved man, offered his daughters to a mob of heathens. To make matters worse I accidentally laughed uncontrollbly when Lots wife was turned to a pillar of salt. It didn't help that our pastor said this and where he normally would have elaborated he simply looked up with a puzzled face and said "what a strange thing to turn her into" I couldn't hold back the laughing and I was the only one making the oinks and grunts that come from holding in a laugh. I immediately grabbed the program and drew one of those blue cylinders of Morton's. Salt with the girl in the yellow coat and umbrella. I couldn't get the image out of my head. The pastor saw me laughing and I sit very close to the front. In the car I mentioned to my wife that the forgers must have fought over that one. I can see them now arguing that no one is going to believe that....SALT....seriously. of course wife as upset that I ways mocking the story. Then we joked and reenacted the event together. Edited since smartphone word prediction sucks.
  45. 1 point
    This is a slightly revised version of the little guide to meditation which gets mentioned in the forums from time to time. I posted it here in blog form for ease of access. Please leave any questions in the comments section or on the Ex-C Epic Buddhism Thread: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/49256-the-ex-c-epic-buddhism-thread/ The usual disclaimer to satisfy the Dharma Police: I am not a recognized or certified Dharma or meditation instructor in any tradition. These are simply my own ideas and thoughts from my experience. Recommendations for a meditation location: 1. Enough room for you to sit comfortably either on a cushion or on a chair. 2. The wall and floor of the location should be as plain as possible (ie, solid colors, wood paneling) 3. Out of the main traffic areas of the home or able to be separated for the duration of one's sitting session. This is to limit the amount of disturbances. 4. Not lit too brightly or not brightly enough. (Personally I prefer candlelight or natural sunlight) For outdoor sittings find a location that is quiet and private so you are not disturbed. Recommendations include: 1. Shade 2. Dryness 3. Level ground 4. Shielded from wind Preparing for sitting: It is a good idea before you start any sitting, but especially if you are going to engage in multiple sessions, to get some light stretching in before you begin. Be sure to stretch your back, neck, shoulders, knees, hips, glutes, and flanks. This is to help ensure that you do not cramp up while sitting still for extended periods and to get the blood circulating, helping to prevent your extremities from falling asleep. Hydration is important to meditation as well. Always keep some water handy just in case you start to feel a bit parched. Tea has been used for hundreds of years to keep practitioners awake. Avoid coffee and soft drinks while sitting meditation. One should also avoid eating large meals before sitting. Be sure that the time you set aside for meditation practice is regular and uninterrupted. If you have to turn off the ringer on your phone and do not answer the door during your practice session. Recommendations for posture: (a note: This section originally included pictures. I do not own the rights to those pictures so instead I have to describe posture through text.) Perhaps the easiest posture for beginners is what is called “chair sitting”. You will need a chair. Unfortunately, your recliner will not do. Any chair without arms that allows your feet to touch the floor firmly will do. Sit near the edge of the chair with your upper and lower legs at a ninety degree angle. Again your feet should fully touch the floor. Also the chair should not wobble when you are seated in this position. You have a natural curvature to your spine, so you do not want to force it into artificial rigidity. Do not slouch since this will also cause discomfort while you are sitting. Allow your shoulders to hang loosely and naturally. If you try to keep them square, this will only create tension in your neck and shoulders. It is not a posture you should devote any conscious thought on holding. The more natural the posture, the easier it will be to meditate. The traditional sitting posture is what most people think of when the word ‘meditation’ is used. You can sit directly on the floor, but there are issues with one’s buttocks falling asleep. You will need either a special meditation cushion or a folded pillow (I’ve found that ‘body pillows’ work very well.). Your upper body is held as described in the chair sitting description above. The problem areas of floor sitting are the lower back, pelvis and legs so I will focus on these areas. You should sit near the edge of your cushion allowing your legs to be at roughly a 45 degree angle to your spine. Your knees should rest firmly on the floor but without any of your weight applied- much like your feet in chair sitting. Crossing the legs is more difficult to speak of. You can Google ‘full-lotus’, ‘half-lotus’ and ‘Burmese’ postures for images and possibly even instructional videos of how to sit in these postures. Unless you are rather flexible or have some experience with the Lotus postures, I would recommend looking into the Burmese posture. I am not aware of any traditional method of standing meditation. However, because I work at a job where I must stand, I did improvise a method. Place you feet shoulder width apart and stand in an erect and relaxed posture. Do not lock your knees. There are many videos on youtube offering examples and instruction on walking or moving meditation forms. These can range from Theravadin and Zen walking meditation to Taoist ‘qi walking’ to Qi Gong and Tai Chi Chuan exercises. The Hands: The most common hand position is called the cosmic mudra. You simply place your right hand, palm up in your lap, rest your left hand (also palm up) in the palm of the right. Gently touch your thumbs together to create a circle/ oval shape with your hands. There should only be enough pressure to hold a piece of paper between your thumbs. Alternately, you can rest your fists or hands on your knees. The eyes: “Open or closed?” is sometimes the topic of debate in meditation circles. The standard suggestion is to sit with the eyes partially open and down at a 45 degree angle. Personally, I find it difficult to sit with the eyes like that for extended periods of time. I would suggest that the eyes be kept open normally and focused on the blank wall, floor or a patch of ground a short distance away. Remember to blink normally. The eyes can be closed while meditating. However, it should be remembered that it’s easier to fall asleep or start daydreaming with the eyes closed. Clothing: The clothing worn during meditation should be loose enough to accommodate your sitting posture and appropriate to the climate of your sitting spot. Otherwise there is no dress code for meditation. Duration: Most Zen teachers recommend a session length of 30-40 minutes, twice a day. Not everyone has the luxury or physical ability to practice this way. If you are new to meditation, it is better to work yourself up to sitting for longer periods. Begin your meditation practice with 10 minute sittings and work your way up to longer sessions. You can also use 10 minute increments and meditate multiple times during a single practice session. You can use any means you have available to time yourself. There are mp3 format timers you can upload to a player, organize as a media play-list, or burn to a CD. There are also a few applications you can download and some internet browser based timers. Breathing: To begin your sitting, take several deep breaths from the abdomen. It is usually recommended to be mindful of your breathing while you are sitting. As you progress you will notice that your breathing falls into a natural rhythm. If your mind begins to wander during meditation, bring it back with a couple of deliberate, deep breaths. The Point of Meditation: Much is said about the benefits of meditation, but it is important to realize that in expecting the benefit we negate it. Don't get hung up on the described results, such as "dropping away body and mind,” "kensho," "oneness," or other terms. Just sit, breathe normally and pay attention to your mind. The Mind and Meditation: Meditation is basically a concentrated state of mind. Because the mind is concentrated on one thing, it derives enormous relief from the huge weight of thought that it usually experiences. Imagine for instance the sound of an 80 piece symphony orchestra, with all the musicians playing different pieces of music. This is like the mind’s normal condition – a skull-numbing cacophony of thoughts, tumbling through our minds and if truth were told, most of it is utter dross and totally irrelevant to what we actually want to do with our days. It’s amazing that we can put up with such a noise, but we do and this is why we get so tired and stressed. Now imagine what a joyful relief it would be if all the musicians stopped and left a single flute playing a single pure note. This is what the mind is like in meditation – resting on one single pure thought. ~Shankarji, English sadhu
  46. 1 point
    Today while browsing some documentaries, I noticed how many involved the premise "nobody would deny that Jesus existed." That idea's been percolating in my head for a while and I think today I finally realized why I object to it. Simply put: What do we mean when we talk about Jesus existing? What properties would Jesus have if he had really existed as the Bible describes? Saying "of course Jesus existed" has as much truth to it as "of course Steve existed." There were tons of guys named Jesus running around talking about miracles and Messianic prophecies at that time, just like there are tons of Steves around. Jesus was crucified, but that's not too uncommon of a death; similarly, I could say narrow my own definition of "Steve" down to "a Steve who died of cancer." That's still pretty loose for my taste. To really say which Steve I'm talking about, I need to know Steve's last name, where he was born and when, where he lived most of his life, maybe even some info about where he worked or who he married or fathered. I can't stretch this Steve into "that particular Steve who died of cancer and who helped start Apple Computers" without a lot more evidence. The Bible makes the mistake of giving a biography for its Messiah that is fairly specific: * He is given a birthdate and a birthplace: about 4BCE, in Bethlehem. His birth was predicted and celebrated by visiting "wise men." * He was baptized by someone famous in the River Jordan and lived in Egypt for a while to avoid a massacre of infants targeting him specifically. * He began his ministry in the "15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar," which puts the date around 29CE. * He did a bunch of interesting miracles that the Bible implies are fairly unique to him. * He was executed by Rome around 33CE. * He was resurrected amid a miracle involving Jewish corpses rising from the dead and running around Jerusalem talking to people; he did miracles and was seen by hundreds, and finally ascended to heaven in view of witnesses. This, then, is the "historical Jesus" who is the man the Bible is talking about. The problem is that there's no way anybody in history can fit this bill. Obviously, in the mists of time that separate us today from the events of 2000 years ago, there will be missing pieces of evidence, but generally what I'd want to see to prove that the Jesus of the Bible existed would be things like his parents' name on the census they supposedly traveled so far to take for Rome; accounts from these "wise men" who visited him; evidence of the massacre Herod ordered that made his family flee; temple birth records; his presence in Temple documents; contemporary letters talking about his ministry and his many miracles--from the baptism to his death; Roman court records of his trial; and contemporary accounts of his resurrection or burial. I'm not asking for a smoking gun of an autograph or a miracle preserved in stone--just a shred of historical documentation. Though a not-wholly-literate society couldn't be expected to have the sheer amount of documentation the modern era has, at least some of these should exist. Of course, none do. Not a scrap, not a shred of evidence from his actual lifetime links us to the events describing the Bible's specific Jesus. Worse still, many aspects of the Jesus narrative can be shown to be allegorical or mythological. The census takes place at the wrong time, and there are no records of Jesus' family in them; there was no massacre of babies at Herod's command; there was no eclipse or Jewish zombie uprising at Jesus' death. Those are just the most obvious problems in considering the Bible's Jesus a real person; whole books have been written about the inconsistencies and contradictions in the actual gospels themselves that point to the Jesus story as being just a gradually-growing body of myths. But there was a reason the New Testament describes Christ this way. Let's not forget that the earliest Christians had a lot of competition for their man-god: that era was just chock-full of man-gods (many named Jesus!) running around making miracles and spouting anti-Roman sentiments, and there were plenty of other religions competing for souls who also had man-gods making miracles. It's not a surprise at all that the earliest Gospels had the fewest of these embellishments, while the later ones got more and more elaborate and convoluted as the religion had to make account for competitors' miracle stories and include more and more Old Testament references. How many wise-men lived and died at the same time and had similar stories that we just don't know about because their religion didn't make the cut or because their sources got melted into the Jesus myth of the New Testament? When I follow the evidence, it's hard to see the entire Jesus story as anything but a gigantic mantle resting upon a very thin framework of fact, a huge body of myth plopped onto the shoulders of an otherwise unremarkable minor historical figure. So did Jesus exist? Looking at the balance of evidence, that it is fair to say that plenty of men named Jesus lived and died around that general time and that one of them (or even several of them blended together) was likely the basis for the religion's beginnings. But it is laughable to go from there to saying that the New Testament's Messiah account is true when we can say with perfect assurance that most of the Gospels are fabrication. The issue isn't whether or not Jesus is real, but whether the Messiah account is; not if Jesus really lived, but which Jesus we're talking about when we ask that question--the real kernel of the actual man/men we know strangely next-to-nothing about or the Biblical construct of Jesus built up over centuries. The life and resurrection of Jesus Christ are considered by most modern Christians to be the linchpin of their faith, but clearly neither was very important to many of the earliest Christians; some early believers didn't even believe he was a real person, and others denied that he'd really actually risen bodily from the dead (John Loftus even makes a good case for the Apostle Paul being one of those). It wasn't really until the Enlightenment that anybody really got interested in the Bible's actual historicity, but by then the floodgates had opened. The real question has become not "Did he exist as the Bible describes him?" because clearly he did not and indeed could not, but rather "Is it even important that he existed thusly?" I say that it is of vital importance. If the specifics of his story aren't factual, then they are allegorical. And if Jesus' life is largely allegorical, then that makes me wonder what else in the Bible is allegorical. I leave it to readers to decide just how much power they wish to give allegory over their lives, but as for me, I feel it is perfectly safe to discard the Bible's bigoted, misogynistic, primitive claims and ignore its excessive and unreasonable demands and threats.
  47. 1 point
    "I am a deeply religious nonbeliever - this is a somewhat new kind of religion." - Albert Einstein I just ran across this quote and feel like rambling a little bit about it; hope you don't mind...I certainly hope that Albert Einstein did not really mean that "it is somewhat new kind of RELIGION". After realizing how damaging and even murderous "religion" has been to the spirits of so many people (not excluding those who are STILL in delusion), I find the thought SO abhorrent!!! Religion had been a set of guidelines to give structure and order to my life. It felt safe and secure to "believe in something bigger than myself" and "give myself over" to it. I speak of this as the "christian box". One pastor who I had admired up until the time of our last meeting, had previously said that "We put god in a box and then jump in there with him"...I thought that was really profound and something to consider...as being a christian; I see it IN THE LIGHT now. Our last meeting with him, he arrogantly told my husband that "People who are non believers don't feel a need to trust Christ especially if they are intelligent and wealthy; they are spiritually immature and trusting in themselves". OOOOOOOOOO, that really ticked my husband off. Being the intelligent spiritual but NOT christian man that he is; he was "kind" and did not really fire back but even told the pastor how that comment could only be seen as "insulting and arrogantly degrading". So here...the Pastor who talks about "jumping into the box" with god...was telling ME to "GET BACK INTO MY christian box" so that I would not consider being with and then marrying my first love. THIS agenda; stifling true love because "he was not a christian" really WOKE ME UP. I had been married to TWO, not one but TWO, "christian" men...the first one being passive aggressive porn addict (oh, but he was a christian!! rolling eyes) and the second, "controlling religious abuser good guy christian" *SO deluded as to call himself a PROPHET OF GOD...wtf??? I think that he actually is Obsessive Compulsive AND Narcissistic personality disordered or mentally ILL. I will NOT be jumping into ANY boxes again. Living and thinking "outside the box" is a much better life for me!
  48. 1 point
    (This is part 2 of a journal entry that I wrote during my deconversion process. This one's more of a "rant", as I was just venting my frustration over the realization that my life was not a reflection of all I had believed in my whole life.) September 11, 2011 This is the first time in my life I’ve allowed myself to think this honestly and to be this real with myself. I mean, I’ve done my share of ranting and raving with my fingers on my keyboard…hashing it out with God and asking some tough questions. But I’ve never reached this crisis-level of faith before. I was afraid to let myself come here. The way to this place is pretty dark and scary, I must say. Letting myself really consider that I could have been wrong about this whole Christian thing my entire life…yeah, scary as hell (no pun intended). But it is also refreshing, in a weird sort of way. And right now I can honestly say there isn’t much that refreshes or encourages me in this Christian life. So yeah, let me just take that rabbit trail… Christian slogans, buzz phrases, catch words and clichés, oh my! How I have grown tired of them. If I don’t hear another one it will be the first full-blown miracle I’ve ever personally experienced! Maybe I am just cynical and jaded, but I have just developed this utter intolerance to the ideas and words we latch onto in order to pump us up and keep us going. I have such an aversion to it all right now. And not all of it is bad or wrong, necessarily. It’s just so…ineffective. That is the word. It’s not that all of these things people say is wrong or even cheesy – some of it even seems cool and thought provoking. But, like my husband likes to ask when I buy a new décor item for the house, “What does it DO?” What do these words DO to actually change anything? How do they accomplish actual change or progress in a person’s actual life? I think for all of us who go through an extended time of a struggle in our lives, there’s a period where words are effective and meaningful to us. But after awhile, words just become meaningless. And words and phrases which are formulated to motivate and inspire just become, at best, annoying! To quote a line of a song from one of my all-time favorite movies, “My Fair Lady”, “Words, words, words! I’m so sick of words!” I guess what I’m getting at is that, I’m so tired of everything feeling like it’s so damned complicated. I can’t get my head around a God who would set a up a system where everything He promises us is so illusive and hard to grasp and actually experience. What would be the point of that? I can’t imagine asking my child to suffer and die for my other children so that they could have his inheritance. Then after he dies I tell the kids they get all he had coming to him, but, well there’s this catch – it’s invisible. But don’t worry, if you believe it anyway one day you can see it. Oh, I’m so sorry you are hungry and sick right now. But remember – you have this inheritance! Yay! What, you can’t see it? Oh I know, I told you, it’s invisible! Yay! Don't you feel better?! REALLY?!
  49. 1 point
    This was originally something I posted in the forums, but I thought I'd divide it up into 3 or 4 blog posts in case anyone missed it. These are journal entries I wrote while in the middle of my deconversion process. It's my hope that it helps someone out there who is struggling with their faith as I was. If that's you, just know that it does get better. It's normal to doubt and to question. The intense sadness I experienced while writing these things was there because of my faith, not in spite of it. The mental gymnastics of trying to cling to my belief system actually caused my depression and anxiety. Since I let go and embraced a more rational and free-thinking mindset, I am so much more at peace! September 10, 2011 My whole life, I have been about solutions. When someone tells me something is wrong, I don’t just say “Aw sorry about that.” I would think about it, I’d try to find an answer. I’d hear God for them and show them that He understood and knew them in their place of pain. But I feel like that’s all been drained out of me now. I honestly don’t know if any of it is really real. Does He know us in our pain? Did Jesus suffer to free us from that? Then why is the remedy for our suffering so illusive? Why all the “mystery”? Why the difficult journey to get from here to there? Why all the complication? Is the Christian life really about living in a community of believers where we keep telling each other how things will be better in the future? Do we just keep living these lives, going through struggles and pain that is somewhat lessened by getting together and singing and telling each other God cares and it’ll be better one day? Is life really just this odyssey of going from one spiritual life lesson to another? I’m not encouraged by any of the spiritual rhetoric anymore…I’m just not. I didn’t plan it this way, I didn’t decide to get off the spirit-train. I just got pushed off somehow and now none of it makes sense to me anymore. Is that because I’m not seeing the “true reality”? Am I deceived? Or are they? It’s not like I haven’t had my fair share of “God encounters”. For a long time I felt like that’s all I had to keep me going. And maybe it was – maybe it was all real and I really was feeling God’s presence and hearing His voice. I guess I am just at the point now where hoping for some passing sensation or some person to come along and tell me God talked to them about me just isn’t enough. Sitting and reading a book written by someone who went through hell and feels like God rescued them isn’t enough. Listening to someone teach about the proof of God in science isn’t enough. Listening to preachers teach about God’s goodness isn’t enough. Even reading the Bible isn’t enough. Having “alone time with God” isn’t enough. “Soaking in His presence” isn’t enough. Dancing and worshipping isn’t enough. Being with other Christians, talking about our lives isn’t enough. Hanging out for fun isn’t enough. I know it may seem irreverent and even blasphemous to say some of these things…maybe it is, I don’t know. But it IS honest. And I have to believe I am not the only who feels this way. I guess that is the thing…I know there are SO many Christians out there who’ve been through the same process I have and have ended up the same place. And yet there are others who seem to have won the spiritual lottery ticket to heaven on earth. They are happy and optimistic about their lives, they claim to see miracles and to have “victory”. Is that because they work harder at it than the rest of us? Or did God give them some magical open window into the spirit world? The thing is, I really thought I was one of those people for a period of time. I thought I could see in the spirit in a way others couldn’t. I had people prophesy to me about my life and my ministry – that God would use me to heal people and encourage them. They “saw” me speaking, dancing, travelling, creating works of art, and seeing miracles as a result. That was enough to keep me going for a long time. When I’d get discouraged, I’d go back to those words….I figured if that was in my future then somehow the pain I was experiencing had to end. I believed all that I needed and so desperately longed for was in my future. Future…that was where all the good stuff was. If I could just hold on. For a long time I was pretty patient. The pain of my present circumstance was bearable because I believed my rescuer was going to come through. But over the course of several years I had a series spiritual experiences. Each time I was sure my day of rescue had come. But each time left me more confused and discouraged than the one before. It was like being lost at sea and finally seeing that rescue boat. The captain waves and says, “Don’t worry! I’m here!” You are so relieved, finally you will be saved. But then the captain sails away. What lesson was I supposed to take by these events? Was I supposed to be encouraged simply by the fact that the captain and the rescue boat existed, and maybe they’d come back? Then I started to learn that there were lots of methods for what to do and how to respond when you haven’t yet been rescued. First, it’s all about perception. You’re not reallylost at sea. It just feels like you are. But you can't trust your feelings. So the key is believing you aren’t being engulfed by waves of pain and despair, even though that’s how you feel. See, feelings aren’t real, they’re just an illusion. What’s real is the captain and the rescue boat. And when you can finally believe that, then maybe he’ll come throw you a lifeline. Or maybe what you need to do is just start swimming. Yes, fight for your freedom! Don’t give in to how you feel, just live as though the rescue boat has already arrived! Oh you’re too tired to swim? Well don’t worry – it’s all about rest. Just lay back and float. The captain is there with you, even though you can’t see him and you feel like you will go under. Just relax! You’re still drowning and getting impatient? Well, remember that the captain doesn’t always rescue the way you think he will. He has lots of different ways of saving people, you know. He might send a hot air balloon or maybe a mermaid will come along! Don’t limit the captain! Yeah I know, this sounds so harsh and cynical. I know that people who teach things like this have the best of intentions. Hey, I’ve even been the one telling people this stuff at one time or another. And honestly I can’t even say it’s all untrue. I really don’t even know right now, hence all of this rambling and venting. But what I do know is that most of what Christians call “encouragement” and “inspiration”, are not actually helping those who are in the darkest of places. By the way I’m writing, it makes it sound as though my spiritual journey has been all about trying to find what “works” – and maybe on some level it has been. But I can honestly say that I have experienced what I felt was a real relationship with God where I felt like I knew who He was, and maybe even who I was. I’ve had times where I felt safe in His arms. But somehow I have misplaced that bit of my connection with Him. And I will say, with utter vulnerability, that at times I wonder if He and His “kingdom” are real at all. How does a person hurt inside and see others hurting and not lose hope and faith? I want to be a person like that, but it appears that I am not. I do lose hope and faith…and at this point of my life I feel they have slipped completely from my grasp. I am not at the point of despairing for my life. But I am in despair. I am disillusioned…that is what I am. The definition for “disillusioned” is: having lost one's ideals, illusions, or false ideas about someone or something; disenchanted Yep, I’d say that description fits. I’m not sure I believe anymore that God rescues people out of pain. I know, “God doesn’t always work the way we think He will”. But what if the way I “think He will” is what the Bible says? Why is it that when I create an expectation of God based on what the Bible says about Him, and then that doesn’t happen, I feel I am somehow wrong for being upset and saddened by it? I heard a minister on TV say recently, “God doesn’t change, so YOU are the only variable.” What he meant by that was that when our prayer doesn't get answered, it’s not God’s fault – so the problem has to be on our end. So what am I doing wrong? I’ve loved, I’ve trusted, I've surrendered, I’ve given, I’ve spoken what I felt were His words to the hurting and broken. And yet I am still broken. I have wounds that won’t heal…no matter how much I ask Him to heal them or try to heal them myself…they do not heal. I was born with the ability (I can’t seem to call it a “gift” at the moment) to see and at times even feel the pain of others. What a cruel joke to play. Why would I have this ability and yet not be able to bring healing to all of those who’s pain I can perceive? For a long time I found hope in the idea that one day that’s what I’d do – that somehow I’d break free of my own pain and sickness and I’d find this “place in God” where I’d bring healing to all of those who are sick. I’d be rescued and then I’d get to be the rescuer for others. “Well…” some would say, “…that’s a pretty lofty goal. Some people do get healed, but no one can claim to be able to heal all who are sick and oppressed.” But see, there goes the Bible again, raising my expectations. It says that Jesus healed ALL and Jesus told His followers to go and do what He did and MORE. And yet this “reality” doesn’t seem to exist. There are people who claim all of these miracles and healings in their ministries. But there’s ALWAYS someone who gets passed over. And many times that someone is the minister or someone in his or her family! That’s what I can’t shake. I can’t shake the fact that even if all this great stuff is really happening (and honestly right now I don’t know if it is),it doesn’t happen for everyone. So what that says to me is that it’s all just a crapshoot – that I might be the one it doesn’t happen for. That is how I feel…like the one who is continually passed over. I know, that sounds so melodramatic. And maybe it is. But, guess what? I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve been to enough Christian conferences and “revival meetings” to know that not everyone gets that touch they go there searching for. I’ve seen the desperate, hurting people…the ones with no hair and bandanas covering their bald heads…the ones who’s eyes are filled with sadness…I see them. I amthem. They go hopeful and expecting a miracle and they leave worse off than before. At least before they could find a way to cope, at least before they hadn’t visualized what life would be like when they were well. At least before they didn’t let themselves think about being an active and happy person. But then they had to go and hope…they had someone tell them that if they just trusted God He’d heal them, He’d set the captive free. They stood and watched as others “got their miracle”. They waited…maybe they even had some sweet person minister to them…maybe, if they were lucky, they even felt a tingle or some warmth in their body. But they went home sick and feeling foolish, hurt and maybe even bitter. That is me. I am that girl. I’m the one who, time and again, thought “this is it”. I felt the goose bumps. I heard the words that seemed to shoot like a holy dagger right through me. I felt the sensation of a supernatural force ripping things right out of my body, I felt the weight of God’s presence so strong I couldn’t stand. And yet I am still here, still sick, still depressed. And worse than that, I can now add to that confused and disillusioned.
  50. 1 point
    It’s interesting how Christians all have their own interpretations of the Bible and of who God is. At the church we most recently were a part of, God was nice and happy and loved everyone and had all these great goodies for them. But down the street from our house is a weird little church with some pretty angry “messages from God” on their sign out front. They fully believe God is an angry guy out to get those who don’t believe in him or who don’t go to church often enough. So who is right and what is true? The thing is, each Christian's view of God evolves over the course of his or her life. It is affected mainly by their upbringing, then gets added to by life experience, church experience, and for the studious - the study of the Bible. Once I was in a church service where we had a guest speaker. This speaker gave this warning: Be careful of creating a “false image of God” and then worshipping that image, rather than the “true God”. He said that when we do this, we are worshipping a false idol, just like the Israelites who created and worshipped golden images. God’s judgment on them was severe. (In fact, he forced them to kill their own sons and brothers in order to “purify” the race!) This guest speaker clearly believed that in our selfish, sinful nature we created a god who was much more tolerant of us and our sin than the "real God". I can remember being terrified by what he said. I searched myself to see if this was what I had done. But at the same time I was confused and deep in the recesses of my mind was the rational voice of doubt, “How could I know which is the real version of God?” “If so many people have so many differing opinions, who can know for sure?” “There are even different versions of God in the Bible!” Eventually I forgot about the things this man had said and continued on with life, continuing to allow my view of God to morph and change based on my own interpretation of scripture, mixed with what others taught me, mixed with life experience. My view of God changed radically when I discovered “grace”. I learned that the mean, “Old Testament version” of God wasn’t the one I was supposed to be relating to. This is because when Jesus died, he atoned for all the sin that made God so hostile to his people. God had to be angry because he was so holy that he couldn’t tolerate sin. But I don’t have to worry about that because God sent his son to be tortured and killed so that he could love me and not kill ME. This actually brought great comfort to me. I developed a whole new view of God…one who was a mix between a friend and a father-figure. He was kind, loving and tolerant. He loved me as though I was his “favorite”. He was good and wanted only good things for me. I talked with him everyday and believed he spoke to me and revealed himself to me in many ways. I ignored the scary stuff in the Old Testament and instead focused on the New Testament stories where Jesus said that the Father was just like him. I focused on the scriptures about “the Kingdom” and believed this kingdom was here now and that I could be living in all its benefits. I was, after all, a “daughter of the King”! I believed that if Jesus healed everyone who was sick, that meant healing was for today. I believed God’s intention was to heal my sickness and provide for all my needs. I believed so fully in these things and in God’s goodness that I fully expected to see evidence in my own life and the lives of those around me. For awhile I was encouraged by attributing the good occurrences of life to God’s faithfulness. But after years of dealing with a chronic illness, I became discouraged. I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t intervening. I was able to be comforted for awhile by the idea that I was learning something from my illness and it was drawing me closer to God. But that didn’t really line up with the God I believed in. He was a “good father”. I would never allow my child to be sick to teach them something or make them love me more…that would be sadistic! So I had to somehow reconcile my view of God with what was actually happening in my life. This caused a great deal of spiritual, emotional and physical turmoil. It was as though my mind was being ripped apart. My rational and logical thought processes were screaming at me that something was wrong – that my belief system wasn’t working. And yet I felt I knew this God, I really knew him. He was my constant companion. I’d had these experiences where I believed I felt his very presence. But when I got to this place in my life where I needed him to be who I believed him to be…to do this one tangible thing…nothing happened. I believed and trusted for years…I lived in a cycle of becoming frustrated and confused, surrendering and trusting again, then starting all over. But no amount of faith and trust was able to move my mountain. I came to a crossroads. I had been through every possible God-combination there was…I had settled on the “good god”. He was the only one I could believe in. But he was turning out to be not-so-good. I realized that I was a better parent than he was…I took better care of my children than he was taking of me and his other children in the world. The thought that he was there and yet ignoring my cries for help (and the cries of others) was unbearable…so unbearable that it brought me to the edge of a nervous breakdown. But then the clouds parted… I allowed myself to doubt, to think and to question. I stopped ignoring the voice of reason. I realized it wasn’t a matter of who God was. It was a matter of whether God was. The question was not, “Either God is good or he isn't.” The question was, “Either God is real or he isn’t.” I realized he wasn't real. The sadness, frustration and confusion began to melt away as the god I’d created dissipated. He didn't abandon me in my time of need. He was never there. There was a struggle at first, just making sense of life from a different world view and realizing my companion was invented by my own mind. But I felt a tremendous sense of relief. My life suddenly became manageable. I suddenly realized how capable and strong I was. I was no longer this weak, fragile person just waiting on god to intervene. I felt empowered. I am now proactively living my life. I am taking care of myself and doing what I need to do to get well. I am already experiencing physical improvement and no longer suffer from depression. I have a new appreciation for life and relationships, and feel optimistic about the future. So it turns out that the preacher was right. We do create our own versions of god. God is a creation of our own minds. I, for one, am happy to be free from the illusion.

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