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BookOfMicah

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About BookOfMicah

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    Questioner
  • Birthday 04/19/1988

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  • Website URL
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7suYYWxjqgZu3_vPLZfuEw

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Virginia, USA
  • Interests
    Writing, primarily. I write short stories, mostly horror and comedy.
  • More About Me
    I spent the first 24 years of my life as a devout conservative Mormon, and was thoroughly brainwashed to believing all the ideals that went along with that faith. Between 24 and 26 I started to have doubts and began looking at other options before ultimately leaving the religion at around age 26. After that I spent a year looking into other religions which mostly took the form of reading several religious texts: The Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, even The Satanic Bible. I read through the Dhammapada and found Buddhism to be a fairly comfortable moral code, though I was not impressed by the more theistic / spiritual elements of it. I have until recently described myself as Agnostic Buddhist (or as I put it "Agnostic with a rich creamy Buddhist filling"). But on consideration of a number of atheist sources, and accepting the definition of Atheist as "one who rejects theistic claims", I think it might be more fair to identify as an Agnostic Atheist, who just happens to borrow elements of Buddhism. Still parsing out the labels though.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    I will never know what, if any, gods are true.

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  1. Hilariously I just read that book for the first time this month. It was my personal Book of the Month for February. In particular the concept of doublespeak and doublethink remind me greatly of the idea that it's okay to not use logic when discussing God. In particular the idea that "the Party can make 2+2=5" is very "God says so, therefore it must be." And then theres the whole Goldstein book being comparable to the Bible but yeah I 100% second this assertion. It is also an amazing book because Orwell is a brilliant writer too.
  2. Thank you for the welcome! Yeah, the subtle lies about contributing to the church are some of my favorites. Worse than tithing, I think, is how the church goes about doing charity. Particularly the LDS. There is always a horrible string attached that doesn't exist in other well-meaning non-profit charities. My folks had a rough time recently and they had to get grocery and bill help from the church. To the church's credit, they pulled my parents fat out of the proverbial fire, but only after making my Army Veteran and "never been unemployed a day in his life" take "Self-Reliance Classes". In theory the idea could actually work. Giving a fishing pole rather than a fish, so to speak. But my father is one of the most responsible men I know and a man with a back-breaking work ethic and yet because he got screwed over by capitalism when he was unceremoniously laid off the church seems to think he has done something wrong. And worse yet? They have my dad believing it. I tried to tell him that he has done an amazing job and he's all "no I should have done this or that" and it's garbage. It's subtle guilt-tripping and mind-control and in so many words is basically a way to get people to think they need the church and they need God to be happy and successful. And when my folks are back on their feet? 10% of their income, before taxes, goes straight back to the church. This. Is. Not. Charity. It is an investment. When I was going through my own rough patch (which has been basically my entire adult life in financial terms buts let's just focus on the last two years, lol) they tried to get me to do the same, knowing that I was no longer a member. I adamantly refused because I knew what it would entail. Frankly, I'd rather be living out of my car eating ramen packets than getting help from the church and I, like my father, have never been unemployed except for a brief five-week window when I was laid of from my tech support job (the entire business went under). That rant went places I wasn't expecting, lol. Back to your last paragraph, I really appreciate the kindness you have shown. I consider myself reasonably intelligent, but that mostly manifests in being able to admit when I'm too uninformed about a particular topic. As far as life experience, well I have my own batch of experiences as everybody does and we all process this world of ours in different ways. Makes us special in a way. But enough platitudes, lol. Thank you!
  3. Welcome welcome! Very new myself, but always happy to see a new face. I'm sorry to hear that you have been through the wringer because of your decision! I hope things are better off for you now, or at least are getting better. It is always preferable to be living true to yourself than conforming to somebody else's prescribed identity for you. It might be painful, but never let somebody else dictate the parameters of your life. Hope you enjoy your time here!
  4. This might be slightly off topic, but a resource I found very helpful when first discovering my own Atheism and one that I still like today is the atheist youtuber community. In particular, I like Steve Shive's old "An Atheist Reads" series where he reads Christian apologetics books and gives full blown lectures (with an admittedly snarky and humorous edge). His series on The Screwtape Letters was particularly good (and frankly even as an agnostic I rather like that book because Lewis can be a wonderful writer when he wants to be).
  5. Hell is basically a form of religious trauma. Imagine being taught from a young age to be afraid of going to literally the worst place imaginable for minor mistakes and being routinely told that if you ever lose your faith you will definitely go there. And with it being something that we won't know with 100% certainty until after we die, it remains untestable. I consider fear of Hell to be an irrational phobia that comes from this trauma. It's not something we can control. You could liken it to otherwise rational people who have a mild fear of ghosts or the supernatural but I would argue it's actually closer to people who get out of abusive relationships and still have night terrors about their abuse. Anybody who says "you can't be an atheist if you still fear hell" might not be operating with that same level of psychological abuse that religion brings. While the intent is probably not malicious, I would say the statement smacks of telling somebody they should be ashamed of their emotions. I sometimes have the fear of Hell, but the truth is for me it is just the fear of nonbeing and the unknown of what, if anything, comes beyond death masquerading as the boogeyman of Hell. Even coming from a religion that doesn't teach a fire and brimstone hell, and one that is very hard to get into properly (Mormons believe in a tier-Heaven and then "Outer Darkness" which is only for the absolute worst of the worst) I still have the occasional flare up. As far as general advice for anybody who still suffers from this, you can present all the usual arguments of the literally thousands of flavors of Hell that are preached about by various world religions and the impossibility of safeguarding against all of them. But logical arguments don't fare so well against emotions. That's why I think the statement is both foolish and somewhat irrelevant.
  6. Thank you for the welcome! I definitely mean to! Interesting comparison, and one I hadn't considered. I hesitate to weigh in on arguments if what is or is not heretical to the "one true faith" because even the idea I find kind of foolish in an age where every major religion has hundreds if sects and as many interpretations of that sect as there are people who believe it. If anything can be said, I'd argue Islam is less obviously false than Mormonism because I mean... seer stones? I can't believe I professed this nonsense in my youth lol. Pleasure to meet you! Thanks for the interesting take!
  7. Yeah I have heard this, but it's absurdly easy to turn on it's head. Let's say we have somebody who is full-blown religious and believes in everything: God, Ghosts, Demons, Angels, etc. Even if they believe in all of that, they cannot remain intellectually honest without admitting that their belief comes from one worldview - i.e. their religion. They reject all other of the hundreds if not thousands of faiths in the world. I like the line from, I think it was Matt Dillahunty: "Atheists just believe in one less god than you." And if you have somebody who does believe in God but doesn't believe in other supernatural elements, I'd seriously like to ask them why. For starters, we have just as much, if not more "evidence" of hauntings (I'd stop just short of calling internet creepypasta "scripture" though). Secondly unlike most deities, we know that the people who supposedly have died and become ghosts did at least exist (for the most part). It's just frustrating that people turn off their critical thinking when god enters into it. As a recent bitter Facebook status of mine went: Person A: "I will make this thing magically happen..." Person B: "Hmmm.... I wonder what the trick is..." Person A: "In the name of JESUS!" Person B: "HALLEJULAH! MIRACLES ARE REAL!"
  8. Thanks for digging out the scripture. I'm more of a dirty limerick / parody haiku guy myself. God is not at home, leave a message at the beep, Voicemail box is full. Thanks for the welcome! One of my video projects from my old vlog, which I have cleared out, was a rather detailed explanation of why Mormons did fall under the subset of Christianity. Even though I took it down because I'm not Mormon anymore I'm kind of proud of the effort that went into it, digging out the Nicene Creed and doing some historical study. I don't do things by half measures lol. But yeah it was and remains a constant journey, but that's the story of life isn't it? While the religious concept of atonement isn't one that I feel has any particular merit, a "lowercase a" version that is secular in nature is something I think is worth working towards. And it's not a "five Hail Mary's and a dab of holy water" affair, but something that requires true effort. I won't give anybody any grief for dealing with their own struggles because I know too well what I'm going through - or at least I try not to. Thank you for the welcome! It's ultimately a solid guide, so long as its gnostic elements aren't taken too seriously. But the Four Noble truths and Eightfold path seem pretty clear to me. Maybe it's a bit pessimistic to say "Life is suffering" just makes perfect sense to me, but everything else that follows was on good footing, lol. And I'm not especially into the self-abnegation of Buddhism (albeit the "middle path" is still less strict than the pure asceticism of some Hindu practices). I am too... loud a person to accept that and as much as my life has had some hardships, I'm having too much fun. Thanks for the welcome! I have been browsing, rest assured!
  9. Thank you very much! I can spin a yarn as well as anybody But I've also had some wonderful teachers too! Appreciate the welcome! Thank you kindly!
  10. After the initial state of panic and mental grappling with a sudden shift in my worldview (even one that had been declining over time), I can say that this does sort of apply to me, but in a different way. It didn't help that my religious awakening immediately preceeded my marriage's decline (they weren't related, just poor timing) so I can't say with any certainty that my emotional state was improved any. In fact my initial feelings, and ones that I still grapple with to this day, were feelings of bitterness. I basically felt as though I'd been cheated out of 24 years of a healthy upbringing (ex-Mormon here, with all the emotional shunting that goes with that). I was frustrated that my otherwise very intelligent parents could still believe such nonsense and that they used this nonsense to brainwash my siblings and me (there is some specific instances of emotional abuse that come to mind, but I'll set them aside for now to as not get too off-topic). Having had time to sort of piece it together and settle (mostly) on what I believe, I would say I feel more balanced than anything else. Contrary to the popular Christian line of "without God, life has no meaning" I actually feel that my life has more meaning now than it did. I feel like I'm alive for more reasons than just the whim of some supreme being and that my life can be whatever I choose to make it. I no longer deal with the crippling guilt of being a horrible sinner. I openly embrace myself the way I am, while still acknowledging the areas I need to improve on. Moreover, I feel I no longer waste any energy feeling obligatory gratitude to a God. The gratitude I feel for the change in my life is for those around me who have helped make it a reality. I take a little pride in my achievements, while still recognizing that I have had a lot of help. So I guess in that way I feel more genuinely connected to "my people" for lack of a better word.
  11. Well this is my first post outside the introduction forum, and I certainly chose a hot button issue to jump in on. If the couple were rejected from having kids simply because of their Christian worldview, even if that worldview included anti-LGBT ideals, I would argue that - while I certainly disagree with their worldview - it could be seen as a form of religious discrimination. That isn't what happened here. Saying they would send a gay child to conversion therapy is why they were rejected and I 100% agree with the decision for a number of reasons. Gay Conversion Therapy is child torture, plain and simple. It doesn't even work and even if it did the ends don't justify the means, especially when the ends themselves are horrible. They said "we'd be happy to foster a straight kid", as if that child may not discover more about themselves as they grow up. Maybe they will realize when they hit puberty that they fall somewhere on the GRSM spectrum. And then what would happen? By the parents own admission they would send the kid off to gay conversion therapy. Assuming an "ideal" scenario for these parents where they just so happen to have a straight child who remains straight their entire life. I question the mental state and parental capabilities of somebody who would still support this practice even if it never applied to them. It's akin to somebody saying "I'd beat my kid if he was autistic, but I'm perfectly happy to raise a non-autistic kid". The anti-LGBT nature of many religions isn't going to go away anytime soon, unfortunately. Nor do I think such ideals should be outlawed in and of themselves because every attempt to criminalize ideology in history has ultimately failed. But we have to draw the line at putting that backwards ideology into practice in such a cruel and objectively harmful way.
  12. Thank you for the welcome! If I'm a god can I be one of those Norse or Greek ones? They knew how to party.
  13. Touche my good professor. Thank you for the welcome!
  14. Greetings and salutations, board members! My name is Micah and I am an Ex-Mormon, and current Agnostic Buddhist. While "Book of Micah" is not one of my usual net-handles (I also go by Jason Tandro and FearAddict on other communities), I felt it was an appropriate / punny name to use here, given the biblical origin of my namesake. I have a tendency to babble so I'll try to keep this introduction posts into short bite-sized chunks with headers so you can skim to the areas of my introduction that matter to you :) My Basic (Non-Religious) Details I presently reside in Virginia, USA. I'm 31, divorced and with a five-year-old daughter. I am employed as a Night Auditor for a local hotel where I work, quite literally, seven days a week with the occasional day taken off for my mental health (one or two a month). I have been using the income to dig myself out of debt, a journey which I'm happy to say is mostly done. I live in a "hippie co-op" apartment with a couple of friends. I am also a writer, who got his start in fanfiction and has since written a few short stories of some note, mostly horror (under the FearAddict pen name). I was also commissioned to write a fan novella for a Final Fantasy community event along with another author, which earned me a free trip to London and has made me some great connections. Working on original content with the hopes of making it big one day, but until then I'm playing the hand that I'm dealt. My Religious Background I grew up in a Mormon household and was a semi-active member until the age of 24ish. I give myself a bit of a break during my childhood which is rife with its own trauma, the details of which I won't bore you with on my introduction post. However from high school age until my deconversion I was a very different man. I was heavily conservative, and held a lot of values that I now find fairly repugnant, most notably a low-level homophobia which I had to work past, especially given that three of my siblings are various shades of LGBT. I bought hook-line-and-sinker the lie of "love the sinner, hate the sin" which I have since interpreted to be one of the most insidious lies of certain faiths, and can be better phrased as "judge the person with a smile on your face". Around age 24 I started having doubts about my beliefs brought on by a number of things, most important being some very good friends who were patient with my haughty arrogant nonsense. I was pretty full of myself and certain that my religion was correct because I held my intellect and logic in such high esteem that I couldn't possibly be wrong (I was that insufferable.) Even with my conservative views waning and my mind slowly opening, I didn't fully deconvert until age 26 when the church passed the controversial law preventing children of same-sex couples from being baptized and receiving blessings. It was at this point that I just snapped and said "okay, I can no longer consider myself a moral being and excuse this blatant targeted bigotry." So I made a big declaration of my intent to leave the church and began a sort of spiritual journey trying to discover what I did believe. My Journey I don't mean to step on any of the toes of ex-Christians here, but I consider Mormonism to just be "Christianity with a lot of extra rules", and by this time I'd had my fill of the whole lot of it. Some of the elements of Mormonism made Christianity more palatable to me, rather than less, and so I decided that mainstream Christanity held no interest to me. I had extended this idea to the entire Abrahamic trilogy, and didn't pay any attention to Judaism or Islam. My focus was on other worldviews completely separate from the western big three. I started, most for a chuckle, with The Satanic Bible as my wife at the time was Levaen Satanist (funny aside, on our first date she said our relationship was like the beginning of a joke: "A Mormon and a Satanist walk into a bar..."). While the book actually had some pretty reasonable ideas, there were elements of it that I found personally distasteful - particularly a version of self-idolotry. I'm actually more okay with that idea now than I was then, but even so I don't quite think that brand of philosophy is quite for me, though if there are any Satanists here, you guys are cool with me. I then studied Hinduism, reading through the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. I also read some of the Vedas, but by this point I had come to the conclusion that it wasn't really what I was looking for either. It does have some wonderful mythology though, and the Bhagavad Gita in particular is definitely worth a read for its literary merit. I kind of stuck with this eastern philosophy bent for a while, picking up some Daoism and reading the Tao Te Ching which I also rather liked, and I tried to pour through the I Ching but i quickly lost interest. I also poked my nose briefly into modern Pagan and Wicca but I must confess I had a bit of a personal bias against these right off the bat, as - hypocritical as it might sound from an ex-mormon - I wasn't really interested in the mysticism. My Buddhist friend lent me a copy of the Dhammapada, which he bluntly described as "a little handbook about how not to be a c*nt". Earthy recommendation notwithstanding, I actually found the book to contain several principles that I felt were ultimately true. But while I found them interesting, I also acknowledged that their moral code was good independent of the gnostic elements of Buddhism. I don't believe in Nibbana or an enlightened state of humanity, nor am I convinced that Siddharta Gautama attained such a state. Therefore I adopted the title of Agnostic Buddhist (what you might consider Secular Buddhism). What Do I Believe Now While I do meditate and read from the Dhammapada and other Buddhists texts, you could consider me an Agnostic Atheist in the sense that I am not convinced and do not know that a God exists. I deny the claims of basically every theistic argument for God I've heard. I, being a fan of the ridiculously tortured metaphor, describe myself as "Agnostic with a rich creamy Buddhist filling". Basically it boils down to three core tenets of my theology (or lack thereof): 1. I don't know that a God exists, and I will never know which - if any - God is true. 2. Therefore I should not concern myself with the question of God or the afterlife as I will never know a definitive answer, and subsequently should not base my life decisions off something I have no evidence for. 3. Furthermore if God does exist and expects more of me than to be a good person, and would punish me with eternal hell for not believing in him, is not a God worth worshipping. My morals come from the same place as any human being, except I do not call them divine in origin. I try to live my life as good as I possible can, maximizing the wellbeing and happiness in the world for those around me. I also consider telling my story about leaving the Mormon church and how my views dramatically shifted to be important because I want to be as vocal a proponent for equality and justice as I was for the misguided ideals of my youth. Why Am I Here Well as the title says, I'm still learning. I think understanding how people believe and what led them to their conclusions is important. The study of humanity is the study of our various belief structures and I think the only way we can grow is to take in as much experience as possible. I'm hoping to make a few friends, have some lively conversations, and to share my terrible puns and dad jokes with the board. I spent much of my childhood incredibly sheltered and censored by my loving but strict parents and so I have vowed since I was 18 even to be an open book about all things. You ask a question and I will answer bluntly and honestly. If you have questions about the rat maze of Mormonism, I will answer to the best of my ability with the caveat that I did not progress far enough in the priesthood to see all the sordid details of the faith, not did I attend a mission where the BITE model goes from "a light touch" to "full blown cult". Either way, thank you for listening to, as Q would say, my "dull, plodding and pedantic" speech (much love to the Star Trek TNG fans out there). Peace!
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