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ag_NO_stic last won the day on April 18 2019

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About ag_NO_stic

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    Authentic Pastafarian
  • Birthday June 6

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    Food. Life. People. Laughter.
  • More About Me
    I am Jess. My name's a good start.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    Damn good sandwiches elicit "hallelujahs" from me.

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  1. It's intellectually honest to acknowledge the human capacity for spirituality AND the phenomena that cannot be measured with the empirical senses. I find it fascinating that people seem to have these "spiritual experiences" with other people. The brain lights up similarly at church or at a football game.
  2. You just illustrated what I was trying to say so much better than me lol, thank you. In the interest of intellectual integrity oh shit are there any English majors in here? Was that normal alliteration or is there a word for TWO letters?! Wow total nerd moment, I did not do that on purpose and don't have the heart to delete it.), I know SO MANY Christians who are kind, compassionate, genuine people and who do not focus on the same aspects of Christianity that the abusive ones do. A lot of Christians I know have this sort of, "Yeah I mess up sometimes, that's what Jesus is for, and I sing to him on Sundays" and they are good people. So, @Joshpantera, do you believe it's the sincerity with which people take it literally that Christianity becomes the problem? One could argue that the message of "loving others" paired with the commandments on which the US were founded has caused more good than harm overall right? Is this even measurable, can we even know?
  3. So, the question becomes, is it "Christianity," that's abusive? Or the people interpreting things however way they want that gives them license to abuse. What's awful is enough time has passed now that the way these people parent is ENCOURAGED by others in the same mindset. Out of curiosity, does anyone know Christians like this who aren't well off? I've seen it so correlated with money and image that it seems causative.
  4. I'm sure you're not wrong here. Another element to all this that we might not be considering is just how helpful the internet has been in exposing the truth. Think for a minute, my parents did the "you don't get to ask why, it's because I said so," and they HAD NO IDEA how to teach us to make good decisions. They chose hell here on earth, that's what I think the bible is saying anyway. I really believe this. My parents weren't really religious until kids, when they suddenly realized they had no way to stop us from doing what THEY did. So they threw themselves into indoctrinating us with this concept of total depravity and our need for a savior. They had no idea what we know today in the field of human behavior, they were just trying to force an end result. The bible calls these image obsessed people Pharisees and the Jesus they worship abhorred it.
  5. You should PM me lol, I don't know your age but I bet you are STILL unpacking all the damage. I am a psych/counseling nerd and love unpacking that stuff. There are a lot of really interesting tidbits on this site and the internet in general about the overlap between Christianity and narcissism. Just think for a minute, you have to REALLY think you're special to think god separated you from the other animals and found you a special parking space close to the door so you don't have to walk far. It's actually unbelievable to me that these people believe they are on the pathway to an eternal heaven, so many act like such douches lol and then, behind closed doors, they are complete monsters.
  6. Oh I completely agree with you, people do SUCH harm with this verse. I'm just pointing out the difference between a good discipline and what many people do to their children, which is awful. My mother was a complete narcissistic tyrant, she had no emotional regulation, and took out her stress on her kids in the must verbally and emotionally abusive fashion. I am SO with you, usually knowing I'd disappointed them was enough. The spankings after were usually just driving home the point that they didn't understand my desire to make them proud.
  7. I'm not sure if anyone else has mentioned this, I skimmed over some of the top comments, but is it possible that it's a symbolic verse that people who have taken everything else literally in life took to mean spanking? What if it's referring to discipline in parenting, which is a good thing....? Interesting. Either way, I believe "Christianity" as practiced where I live, in the Southeastern part of the US, is often very abusive, yes. I think beginning the brainwashing at birth to believe you're awful is setting people up for self hatred and a host psychological, emotional, and mental health issues.
  8. Hi, dear readers, I hope you're okay today. I know that if you're reading this, you might be reading it as someone who has already accepted these truths or as someone who might be still be getting in touch with the oddly spiritual side of human beings, which I completely respect. This message is, of course then, not for you. If you're reading this as a Christian and your heart is breaking, you're scared, you have spiritual and emotional and psychological turmoil, or your soul is not at rest, then this IS for you. You would be foolish not to see this as the direct answer to your prayer that it is, there is no getting around that. A few years ago, very soon after I took a step back from Christianity, I was on these forums a lot because my life was chaos. I didn't know what I believed, I felt like I had to throw everything out and start over with all of my values, I relied heavily on relationships with and posts from many of you. I didn't know what to believe at ALL, but I knew I had silenced a small voice in myself for a long time that protested parts of the faith I was being taught. That voice has been largely inexplicable to me, as a psych nerd who believes in socials constructs. Where did it come from and why did it defy what I was being taught and why was it in defense of GOODNESS? As you read, consider what it means to be "of the world," and ask yourself if your reaction to what I have to say is negative, could THAT be of the world? Could it be that I make sense in a way that scares what you know? And things making sense are scarier than things not making sense? Allow me, anxious reader, to "speak for God" here. You've been praying, right? Begging God to remove or ease your doubts, maybe give you answers you're seeking? You perhaps want the sign you're asking for to be very clear and direct, no bull"crap."It shouldn't be vague at all, it should be at YOU, so that YOU KNOW that it was meant from YOU and not someone else. Well, let's check your symptoms. Are you doubting and anxious? Are you scared and clinging to God, willing to do anything (short of "sacrificing your child," you're no Abraham) to show you "believe" all this to avoid your feared consequence? Are you seeking after God and goodness and truth but afraid it's leading you to the world and a place of coldness and lonely aimlessness? Then yes, this message is for you. You might be wondering how on earth someone whose username is "ag_NO_stic" which literally means "doesn't know" could magnanimously relay such truth or deign to be so bold. Perhaps your skepticism has increased, since I belong to a group of people who are different from you or proclaim to have arrived at a truth with which you don't agree. You're not sure and that fear is terrifying. I've been there too, reader, I have felt your same fears. Everything is going to be okay. What I have to say is either truth or it's not truth. And God IS truth, right? If you're seeking after HIM, then HE should help you sort that out, right? Praying for wisdom I hope? It's important for you to see, reader, that we all have NO ONE'S understanding but our own. As a Christian, I used to say "I understand you have questions, but you cannot rely on your understanding, you have to rely on God's." How odd. That means either, "I have God's understanding in the first place," or "I'm relying on my own, narrow-minded understanding of God and I expect you to do the same." The person saying that is, in fact, relying on their OWN understanding of God's understanding (or they've been endowed with God's understanding to begin with. If that's the case, and you're a believer, than you have this as well.). You cannot rely on God's understanding with God's understanding, it must be your own. It is therefore your responsibility to be as informed as possible on things, to use a heavy eye of discretion, and to determine what "God" is so that you can pursue Him. You are daily presented with things that YOU decide are either sinful or not on behalf of God, based on your beliefs about God and what He wants. If you think that's not you deciding, but God, I encourage you to get into a discussion with a fellow believer on salvation or controversial "sins" like drinking or homosexuality. What is a "controversial" sin anyway, why are so many "believers" "fooled" by other "believers?" What is there, amongst believers, to be "fooled" about? You all believe Christ died for your sins, go and sin no more, when you do, like repent right?n Oh you can't even agree on what salvation is? You can't agree on who Jesus is or what sin is? Then perhaps you should get that figured out before you project Christianity onto those who have no idea what to believe amongst the different sects of Christianity. Perhaps all the quibbling over what is or isn't sin is the PROBLEM, that kinda seems like what Jesus was saying. It's because humans, as the beings we are, like to group ourselves based on who we agree with and who we don't. Look, the evil OTHER Indian tribe over there! THEY are not like US, THEY must be FOUGHT. Look, the evil OTHER Democrats, the evil OTHER people of [insert skin shade here]. Here is history in a nutshell: " [Group A] should NOT have done [terrible thing] to [Group B]; they deserve no understanding now, they should have known better, they are 'ignorant of what REALLY matters' which is ______ . Now, I know some of you are saying we should know better, but instead of leaving GROUP A alone to learn their lesson and live their own lives, they should be punished and WE, the pure of heart, are going to _______ the offending party in retaliation!" Why do you believe you, in your OWN understanding, know the truth and other "Christians" still just need to "get there" when "God tells them," as they say the same to their friends about you. They will rely just as much on their understanding as you with yours, both in defense of God, though He is strangely silent. Perhaps "God" or "truth" is BOTH of you not relying on your own understanding? So, if you're both arguing for God, perhaps the fact that you are BOTH seeking to honor "God" is the common thing worthy of celebration and what "unites you in Christ?" That pursuit leaves little time for meddling in others' lives or offering your opinions, though they are unwanted. That's the funny thing about those of us who have said, "I don't understand at ALL, I am just trusting in God," because we are still relying on OURSELVES to interpret whatever messages we believe. "God" could send you 100 messages, but if you don't have the eyes to see or the ears to hear, you will find him still silent. A philosopher might say, "A fish might swim around frantically in search of water, like we do with God" to mean that you are trying to avoid "the world" or sinful flesh that you are captive to in search of something that is literally the basis of your existence. The fish has no concept of no water until it is yanked OUT of the water and given a taste of a new perspective with ultimately leads to death. The fish dies or returns to the water with a completely new understanding of its place in the world. Assuming fish sentience of course. This illustrates well that you CANNOT avoid "the world" you fear and you cannot "avoid" the God you are surrounded by. It's all one big mess. You are trying to cling to belief when it no longer makes sense to you, something the human mind cannot really do. The laws of emotion, persuasion, mathematics still apply to you, the laws of reason and logic, of thinking and empiricism. You can't just reject gravity and substitute your own, you must work within what you've been given. I stopped frequenting these forums and needing to pour over the reassuring posts of others awhile ago, because my soul (if you're not too much of a spiritual person, consider it my "consciousness" as we are likely referring to the same feeling) knows I'm okay now. And that's why I'm writing this post. If even one of you reads this and finds comfort, the time I'm taking for it will be worth it. I'm writing exactly what I feel I needed to read when I was where you are now. If you click out of this post, because you reject what I'm saying, you are free to do so. But you must realize you are relying on your OWN understanding of God and truth in rejecting what I am saying, you are choosing to believe in attributes that humans have given to god, not the attributes of "God" as you experience them. Examine how you got to Christianity in the first place and realize, in the scope of human history, WHY you believe the things about God that you do. I realize you believe God's plan of salvation included your birthplace, which may not be wrong, but isn't that exactly what a Muslim would say? Again, allow me to remind you that if you are springing forth with an "answer or rebuttal" to that, then you should reexamine your thinking. You're not changing MY mind, you're arguing with your own. If something is true, it is true, your belief otherwise cannot make them false. If they are false, your belief cannot make them true. This is "God" and the law of "truth." You pursuit of both is a glory, not something to be feared. Your "answers" do not change truth or the minds of others. You, of COURSE, believe your faith is the one that will get you to heaven. For YOUR intents and purposes, it does! So what does it MATTER if a Muslim believes his is the only way? You don't change truth, you only illustrate your odd, greedy need to have a monopoly on salvation. You and the Muslim will both believe your ways true and you will both find out "in the end". The objective truth, at the end of the day is that no one makes it out alive, most species fear death and try to avoid it, and we all find God for ourselves. To some, "God" looks like pursuit of the arts and creative replicating of patterns in a beautiful way. To others, you find God in math or science or logic or other humans. Maybe you find God in people. But the second we all realize we don't know ANYTHING personally about what happens when we die is when we must come to terms with what death is. Why the subject is fearful to you. I encourage you to listen to that sense of justice and mercy, it is not for no reason that you find the man-made concept of hell to be fearful and not of God. I'm not sure if you paid much attention in history class, but there are MANY historical examples of people pursuing religious freedom from persecution. That's how my country, the US, was born in the first place. No offense, but I used to view history from the side of the Puritans, where all this mess happened because we left God. Now that I have a new perspective, I see the merit of the church's tyranny and how so many people felt in wanting to worship as they saw fit and not as they were told by an overly legalistic body of people. When you think about the history of things, we've been questioning what you're freaking out about for a long time and we have all sorts of words we've used over the years to describe the same patterns. Have you ever talked with a silly non-believer who had no interest in or understanding of the concept of baptism? That's because that term is used in your "language of faith." You use various shared terms and do various shared routines together, because it has meaning for your church or small group. It's SHARED meaning. To think of a humorous spin for a moment, the atheist might see a crazy person squawking on about the holy water, the devil, and somehow a bath is involved in you. What point is there in discussing a "baptism" out loud unless there is another person around who knows what you mean by it to dialogue with you? Here's a crazy thought for you: how do you KNOW what other "believers" even believe and why should it be any of your business? Think about a "chair," where we all know how to define it to some degree or we might have a picture in our mind but our IDEA of it is different with each person. There must be a PATTERN for it to be a chair. A four-legged seat with a back? Oh, your chair didn't even have legs? Oh, so it's just a place where we sit..... And that's just about a CHAIR. So what are the patterns of the unseen? Do we assume it's good? A God of Love, Peace, Patience? We understand all of these concepts with warmth. Judgment? Wrath? Loneliness? Gnashing of teeth? Fear? Anxiety? Shame? It's a cold, "godless" feeling. I wanted to put a pun here about hell being particularly warm, but it seemed tactless..... How would a fish who didn't believe in water differ from a fish who did? Particularly if they both believe fervently and end up as dinner the next day. Did their beliefs do.....anything? Except shape their life in a meaningful way? If the spiritual is what you seek, then don't deny your spirit truth just because it's not what you've heard before. Judgment and the issuing of shame onto anther would not be of God, but of the world. Come on, person, you KNOW when someone is truly caring for you and asking you to consider changing your behavior for your own benefit and when someone is being all snooty about how you did something that is "not what THEY would do." You know, that awareness of things that you define as "good" in you knows. If you start listening to yourself a little more, instead of others, you'll notice when you're doing things that "sin" against the "temple of the Christ" within you. Please consider that the negative emotions and worries you have right now, fears of hell or punishment or something BAD, Scripturally speaking, are not of the God you believe in per the word you believe is from Him. Casting the fear away to find what is right is a GOOD thing, pursuit of truth (truth = God) is the pursuit of God! Worrying that "science will prove your faith wrong is doubt, science will never disprove God, only limited human understanding of Him! Psalm 34:4-5, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." I forgot, possibly a New Covenant-er among us, so here goes, Romans 10:11, "For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”" Maybe, if you think about the concept of language again, you will begin to read Scripture in the language it was intended. Perhaps weird things that don't make sense make more sense in their language. "Blood of Christ?" "Dying to the Flesh?" "Baptism in the Body?" You might even have your own lingo with other Christians. You've long heard that "Scripture interprets Scripture." So....perhaps you should look into how the Bible DEFINES THINGS before you run with what OTHER people tell you it means. That's the transcendence of this book. I will wait on the "fishers of men" parallel here...... Right about now, you should be breathing a little easier. In fact, take a deep breath, relax any tension in your shoulders, let go of any clenches in your jaw or furrows in your brow. Just realize something fairly simple. You have been taught everything you fear. Please read this again, HUMANS have taught you everything you fear. Dumb humans. Humans that, if you think about, may not look as much like Christ as you'd hope. The humans who taught you to fear a consequence when you die are, themselves, acting out of fear in ways that can be painful and psychologically damaging. In your fear, your terror of what will happen, ask yourself how much you KNOW that still small voice within you. Have you ever listened to it? Have you been taught by people that it is sinful because of human intuition or just never thought about it, maybe? That sense of inner well being has all sorts of names, but when it's good your "spirits are high," and when your inner wellbeing is down, you're "in hell on earth." You learn about the Holy Spirit in church like it's a distant, holy thing somewhere out there in "God's temple" in "heaven" and somehow also inside you. You learn about sin like it's an evil serpent instead of your own natural ignorance or poor decisions. God gave YOU a brain, you likely believe He designed your every teeny detail and personality quirk. Think of David, who wrote Psalms pouring out his heart and yearning for God, but also killing for "sinful" adulterous relationship. Perhaps, it's because God is more merciful than you are giving Him credit. He knows your intentions are good, as you know goodness and God to be. If you are seeking God, Scripture says you will find. If you are seeking TRUTH, you will get there. You have to believe THAT. It is NOT sinful to reject man in pursuit of God and to trust where He leads you. If you are unsure of things and cannot find the answers, neither can other people, and God says to put HIM first. So, in your fear, remember that God claims to be peace. Perhaps the truth will be recognizable to you as peace, because God is all of it. Don't rely on what OTHERS tell you about God, that includes interpretations of Scripture. (You might not be ready for this yet, but the Bible is regarded as meaningful because you have been convinced it is meaningful. Muslims don't find it meaningful, they find their own holy book meaningful. Same for religions in general, the meaning is found in the group of people. Do your own research on it and trust that you will find truth there too, it is still a man-made document and thus can be flawed.) Jeremiah 17:5, "“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh, and whose heart turns away from the Lord." If you're a "New Covenant-er," Romans 3:3-4 is talking about this as well, saying "What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." To me, this seems to be saying let God speak for Himself with us. That means you need to listen, in the language with which God speaks to you. Is there a subject you DO understand? Start there. You cannot be listening if you are busy worrying, which the Bible is also clear on. Do you think you will not KNOW God immediately? Do you think you're crazy when that tattooed, cussin' bartender seems to be more like Christ than that other person at your church? What is that? Why do you believe that person is "like Christ," and the other not when their beliefs should tell you otherwise? Could it be the Holy Spirit or even Christ within you, that you claim to believe in, recognizes God when you're sinful eyes would rather judge? Could it be that "God speaks" in non-verbal ways that transcend the spoken language? Could it be that God works in mysterious ways, and in the ways you need to hear Him, when others around you mislead? Scripture says to beware of false teachers, it is up to YOU to decide if these statements are not true. If you believe they are not true, I encourage you to comment your disagreement. Think for a minute that we are Christians now, but Christ upset the religious leaders of the time in a way that they felt blasphemed God. Do you not believe that the frustration you feel with the church's history is Godly? Jesus' whole game was upsetting rituals, shaming, judgment, and law-holding. You might have read about cults and how they brainwash believers or even just people of other denominations, did you think it was NOT you? Do you think you're wrong about nothing? To anyone who has made it this far, thanks for reading. It was deeply cathartic to write. I have asked questions of everyone since my birth, I demanded to know "why" from anyone who would listen. I've grown a lot these last few years and have done a lot of searching for answers. Even if I haven't found anything objective or anything meaningful to anyone else, though it seems like it, I have settled on my beliefs in a way that I hope new ex-christians find hope. I have continued to pray to whatever is out there, "just in case," I see no harm is wishing good things into the universe and the weirdness of it all is that I have the fruit of the spirit I longed for as a Christian now. So were my prayers answered or is it all interpretation? Or is just me, as a man, no god, foraging my own reality. Who knows......It's simply wellness with one's soul, it is possible, and you do this by transforming your idea of sin and salvation by realizing what is good and bad for you through the power of your own choices, of making either heaven and hell here on earth, sorting through your emotions and various things to grieve and then, after it's due time, taking responsibility for your life. You gotta take care of your soul (or an aware mind / consciousness or whatever term you use for the "you that is aware in there" ) by truly being alive. So have that ice cold beer, no it's not sin, but of god. And thanks for listening to my TedTalk.
  9. Oohhh, intrigue. Where is aggy going? It's posted in "Ex-Christian Life," this could be about anything! I don't come on here much, life is what it is, but when I feel like I've learned something, I am intent on sharing it. If it reaches someone, anyone, and makes a positive change in your life, my heart sings. If you don't, you should come back and read it again sometime. I am only starting to type, I have no earthly clue how long it will be, so consider yourself warned. But if I had to summarize it in a twitter hashtag, I think it might be: #yourewrong #yesyou #yepstillyou #yesyoureallyare #alsogototherapy I did an introduction post when I first joined, I still remember it keenly, because I took a great deal of time in choosing it. "I Am Jess, Hear Me Roar" with a smiley. That title represented a few core values of mine. Authentic and personable, in spite of the internet. Fierce. Kindness. I want to be someone whose story is worth knowing. I want to be "all the things." In the past few years, since rejecting faith, I have learned a lot, so much. There are no words for how grateful I am to have shed my faith, and I hope new users see this and find a sincere hope that their journey is only starting. The only way to describe all that I've learned is that I was "born again." Buckle up, reader, you're getting MY GOSPEL. Whoever has ears, let them hear. It's strange to live 20+ years being certain that you are correct. I had inklings far younger than my official deconversion where I wondered how I could be so certain. Cue college (private christian of course), where I decided to pursue the social sciences. The study of people and how we get where we are. I learned about "feral children" who behaved like animals because they were not socialized with humans or were in some sort of negligent environment and were only recognizably human in their appearance. It's easy for us all to write off the first 18 years of your life in a passing statement. But you come out of the womb and your parents teach you their values. You have no real way of escaping that environment, so you learn various coping mechanisms and defense mechanisms in varying degrees of intensity. You learn about personality and how impressionable the brain is and how POWERFUL confirmation bias is. Confirmation bias, to sum up something I could write a lot more about, is seeing what you want to see and filtering out what you don't like. It's why, for example, both sides of the political spectrum are so annoying right now. Because everyone picks what they like and ignores what they don't, it's just what we do. We look for things that align with our reality and ignore things that align with other peoples' reality, if we haven't experienced them. I can't speak for you, but I can speak for me. It's the only person I can speak for. Somewhere along the way, I forgot this very, very simple truth. I can't speak for one other person, but myself. My life and who I am as a person, who I was shaped to be by those around me, my "lessons learned" center around what I have actually gone through. For some reason, we as a species, have gotten all intellectual about things we've just never experienced. "The truth" is somewhere in between two extremes. But what is "truth?" It appears to mean something different to each one of us, why is that? Why do I find one certain thing convincing or another idea ludicrous, only to meet another who comes along and finds my idea ludicrous and theirs "true." Have you ever googled or just read the definition of true/truth before? Something that is true is defined as "in accordance with fact or reality." Okay. Well what is fact/reality? "a thing that is known or proved to be true" and "the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them." Okay, a little circular. Makes sense why I always believe I am right until I "realize I'm wrong" so that I can "be right again." What does believe mean? "Accept [something] as true." Seriously, google this shit, it's all circular and it all has to do with our own, particular, individual experiences. We throw the word narcissism around like we aren't all narcissists. Maybe you got a tattoo and suddenly everyone who got a tattoo is way doper than before, because you get it now. That happened for me. I died my hair blonde one time, learned about "purple shampoo" and suddenly everyone's blonde hair was way more interesting to me. That's just trivial stuff. But consider it for a moment, your friends are those with whom you have things in common and shared experiences. I'm preaching to the choir, right? You were "right" with your faith until you were wrong. You believed one thing until you believed another. And [someone you love] doesn't get it, because they haven't experienced it yet. The ability to empathize is the next best thing we do, we try to envision what we would do IF we WERE in someone's shoes. But isn't it funny how, when we were christians, we speculated on our atheism/agnosticism, still with our christian lens? You want to know the kicker? I'm still right and wrong about this. I'm right. But I'm assuming things about you that I couldn't possibly know. But you're wrong too. Because I'm right. See how this works? It's "tale as old as time," "in the beginning," etc. Wise people before us learned something and tried to save others from making that mistake. It's why "those who don't read history are doomed to repeat it," which is not just a reference to a nation's history, it can be personal history too. There's a reason we value wisdom, the quality of being wise [having or showing experience]. We value learning, "to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught." It's why there is a distinct difference between knowledge and speculation. I will stop adding the google definitions at this point, feel free to check, but it's all still pretty circular. It revolves around our own "in the beginning." It's why the parable of the sower and the seed, from the bible, is relatable and poignant. Because all of us (an assumption based on my experience) can take that parable and replace "seed" with a personal experience. We have all faced acceptance, rejection and something in between. Isn't that always how it is? The in-between? It's yin and yang, if you will, order and chaos. "This and that," "here and there" "Beginning and end," "right and wrong," "heaven and hell," "birth and death," "black and white," I could go on. Which is why you're wrong. And it's why I'm wrong. But it's also why I'm right. I'm "born again," the "scales have fallen from my eyes," (ah how it makes sense now) because life feels like it has only just started for me now. Where to start? It's all about lessons learned. I have learned that there is so much more to life than a formula for "success." You can think freely and you can DO anything until you die, although the two are correlated lol. I have learned that the bible has a lot of lessons to teach if you view it with the lens of metaphor. In the beginning, I was a little zygote comprised of two people's DNA. Hey look, a little trinity. Creation. As I grew up, I walked with my "creators," they taught me what I needed to know or so I thought. Their values left wounds on me, tiny fracturings of an innocent spirit who knew no evil. That sin of adam, if you will, is doomed to continue if I am not saved. I will only pass down my parents' issues to my children if I don't deal with them now. And I have. Hey look, fruit of the spirit! I have shed the notion that my children or friends are to be corrected and shaped in the way I believe they should go. I'm not saying my children won't have discipline, but it will be for the sake of them living a full life, wherever that may lead them, not perfection. I have shed pessimism to a degree, in favor of realizing that another's "truth" can teach me something even if I don't agree with everything. I have shed insecurity to a degree by realizing that the galaxy is beautiful because of ALL the stars that are there. If you are the only star, you might burn other people. I have shed the idea of being a victim to my surroundings, I have been dealt a hand of cards and I will win the game even if I lose this hand. Life is metaphor. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (*clap-clap*), are the fruit of a person who deals with the way they are tearing others down or being negative. Their sin. And if you want to be redeemed from that, you need to die to that sin, and choose life. This life. It can be heaven or hell, it can be light or dark, it can be good or evil. Or in between. Cue the zombies. They told me not to eat that forbidden apple, but I did. Both Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy are credited with this quote: "A man does what he must, in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures, and that is the basis of all human morality." So now what, everything is relative? Not necessarily, life has so much meaning if you choose to make it mean something. If experience lends wisdom and a new perspective, than it logically follows that you would approach life with a newfound hunger for new perspective. Take with you a sense of appreciation and regard for an entire life someone else has lived of which you know nothing. They are wrong. So are you. So go, open your eyes, take in a deep breath of the freshest air and realize how free you are to go and learn new things until you die, with no regrets, having thrown yourself into a life of making it count.
  10. Jane, I'm so sorry to hear you've been feeling this way and dealing with all this. It sucks. In all honesty, what helped me the most was considering how unpleasant heaven sounded to me. We are taught to fear hell, but there was a small part of me that NEVER connected with the concept of heaven. Even in all my fervent attempts to be "all in" as a Christian, and I was, there was always this part of me that hated never-f***ing-ending church and like being all about the lord constantly and stuff. It already sucks to think about, I could barely make it to lunch most Sundays, though I repented and trusted god was "sanctifying me." I mean this, life is what you make of it. You don't have to reject the spiritual just because you have rejected bible-god's bullshit. Christians have fooled people into thinking that it's either THIS or THAT. But you can be whatever the hell you want and you can believe whatever you want to believe. When you realize that your loved ones can truly be lost, you love them more. When you realize time is NOT never-ending it becomes more precious. When something can be lost, you fight to protect it. You appreciate what's around you "like the eyes of a child" and you realize that heaven was here all along and you were putting yourself through hell. It might bring you comfort to watch youtube videos of near death experiences, there are so many accounts of "peace", "calm", "no longer a fear of death."
  11. Nothing wrong with teaching your children now to be humble enough to admit when they might have been wrong, in my opinion. That's such an important thing to learn. If you phase out religious teachings in favor of more vague things, they might just fade with time. You could even discuss the use of metaphor when he's older. "God", "Satan," "Sin" "Redemption" can all be beautiful stories and learning tools instead of taking it literally and to the extreme.
  12. I'm pretty sure the rest of that quote is something like ".....but god, if he exists, knows what that would be" which is kind of where I am with it. I don't personally believe anything would ever bring back to christianity, short of some sort of personal experience. But even then, I don't know that christian dogma is the same as a spiritual experience. I'm solidly agnostic, in general, because I think we should humble enough to just say we don't know. It's one thing to wonder about the universe and all the things that could be out there, but to claim existential truths as a little primate is amusing to me.
  13. It's my humble opinion that it at least partially revolves around suffering. Not all suffering, mind you, but the trust-breaking kind. And everyone is different and at varying degrees of intelligence, plus we all deal with things in different ways, so it's just a cluster. For me, personally, I am deeply skeptical of many things because the world has proven itself to regularly not be what you think it is. I will spare you the sob story, but I watched my mom be fucking fake my whole life. She was an angel to everyone around me and satan to me and my siblings. I've seen too many "it's not as it seems" stories, but it's backed up with personal pain. Pair that with my personal belief that we're all just shit-slinging monkeys who have no idea what we're doing and claiming that we "while we were wrong before, we now know _______ to be true....now". It's all bullshit, all of it lol. We are incredibly fascinating creatures, our capacity to learn and innovate based on our surroundings is sweet. But seriously, look at everything you believe. It's just unique experiences and environments that shape us, paired with a healthy serving of confirmation bias and the belief that we're better than we are. That being said, there is some funny shit to watch online.
  14. For those of you who missed my long odes.....drink up, bitches! If you didn't, well, lucky for you, this post explains why you don't see them much anymore. Wanted to save you a read, you're welcome. When I heard you were leaving, I logged back in for the first time in a few months just to emphasize how much I totally understand and agree with you, RC. I will probably not delete my profile, I had good things to say that could help others, but I never log in anymore. Those who challenge the mainstream opinion politically end up leaving, mind relatively unchanged, but recognizing that some here aren't in pursuit of truth wherever that pursuit may lead. I know, I know, I should just avoid ToT right? It's not like I have to go there, like....just don't go there. So I didn't for awhile. But I am not fan of the "don't like it, just avoid it" concept. Why don't we like it in the first place? Can't we make it better for more people? Deal with the source of the problem! I would engage, take breaks and research, reexamine my beliefs.....but you start to feel really lonely when you don't want to talk to christians, you don't want to talk about christianity, and you now also don't want to deal with the increasingly frustrating "Woke." So many posts challenged my perspective; so I would research all different sides of an argument as time allowed, I was willing to change if the argument was convincing to me. When that feels one sided, after awhile, you just leave. You don't make some fuss, or demand change like some kind of narcissist; you stop with the rant posts or comments of frustration and you just leave. You look for those who listen like you try to. That's not even to be dramatic either, just a simple choice that seems best for everyone. If you're reading this and you have an urge to debate me or defend the situation as I'm describing it instead of just listening and empathizing with an opposing perspective (which is what we want from christians), you might be one of those people. As a christian, my pursuit of truth in spite of discomfort was met with "You're just an atheist because you just want to go out and sin" or "You just don't see it from our lord and savior's holy perspective yet" or "HOW can you read the bible and not see GOD everywhere?! How can you not see his hand in your life?!" When you drop christianity, you start to drop any conservatism at first too, surely they are uniquely linked because of all the annoying religious republicans I know. Turns out atheists can be moral without the bible AND fiscally conservative without faith, who knew. Now, I hear about my "sin of whiteness" / "just being mad because you have to make your racist jokes in private now" or "That's just internalized misogyny you haven't dealt with yet" or "not having arrived upon the real, "factual," truth of academia" in spite of my reality not matching up with what I was being taught. Of course these are tropes, not necessarily a reference to direct encounters on this site, but that mindset is the same and is very recognizable and there was absolutely overlap. It's why many of us like the lion's den even if we haven't battled "this one" yet. You're right, I could avoid ToT. I was even shaming myself for not seeing it the way so many seemed to. Why couldn't I see it this way, what the heck? Why is this article or "evidence" not convincing to me? One day it clicked; it is what is and I feel how I feel and I think what I think through personal experience and I don't have to apologize for it. I tried it, don't agree, move on. I don't have to keep moving things around mentally, shifting things around to make sense of it, blaming myself, etc. This site helped me tremendously with leaving my faith, I'm forever grateful. I have met some truly wonderful people. Sure, I could stay for the new ex-christians.....but it's not like what I have to say is a whole lot different than others here, it's not like I have a @Margee hug (<3), it's not like I have loads of time, and we have archives and archives of users tackling the same material. It's not like I'm offering much new. That's just the humility of it. Everyone wants to be missed, and every active member is to an extent, but you're just one of many and everyone will be fine. I'm not trying to make this political or start anything or be unkind or dramatic, it just pertains to the OP and I'm tired of downplaying or apologizing for where I legitimately am with all this political stuff. I joined when I was starting to value reason and the simple "live and let live" concept of beliefs and behavior. I stopped logging in awhile ago when I realized just how much these ideologies share with the faith I "left." I threw christianity the fuck away for many, many reasons. I refuse to blindly follow the majority consensus just because it's the majority or certain public figure endorsements or ideas purely for the sake of their partisan ties.There is true liberal thought, open dialogue, and constructive criticism of ideas on one hand (which I recognize and can take) and then there is privileged, condescending, parroted "education" with questionable many sources on the other (which I will not take). I am a free thinker. If you made it this far, I appreciate you taking the time. If you have more time, this article explains what I mean in particularly memorable way and is very well written. Also, I promise I do enjoy cat memes as well. I just tend to like the nitty gritty, just check my Enneagram results. https://www.alternet.org/2019/01/heres-why-evangelicals-and-social-justice-warriors-trigger-me-in-the-same-way/ Thanks for the post, RC. And thanks for your contributions here.
  15. Sorry for the delay, I run my own little side business I just recently started up and I don't always get a chance to stop back in as soon as I'd like. I love you all, thank you for your encouragement. And Margee, as usual, thanks so much for your advice. It makes sense and is always so helpful. And your hugs *HUG*
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