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Yet Another Story


Guest rrcanna
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Guest rrcanna

When I was fifteen I was a Baptist, because my mother was. Having been taught that every word in the Bible was true, I became upset almost immediately upon setting out to read it straight through, a summer project I had chosen. I had planned to go right on from Genesis to Revelation, but Genesis stopped me in my tracks. I went to our pastor and nervously asked my question (I had to get an appointment through his secretary).

 

"What was the Land of Nod?" I asked.

 

I wondered how Cain had found a wife when the Bible plainly said there was only Adam, Eve and Cain, at that time - Abel having been murdered by Cain and Seth not having been born yet. I thought I had missed something, like where were the girls? I could not locate in Genesis any mention of another creation East of Eden, and, with the enthusiastic ignorance of youth, I thought I was perhaps the first person ever to notice this. Being a very provincial boy and a Baptist, I was unaware of the existence of Bible scholars, and I could not have imagined that I would become one. I believed that my pastor would explain it all.

 

"Well, son," the preacher answered, dismissively, "there are some things we are not given to understand."

 

His disinterested response astonished me so greatly that I have never forgotten it. I was intensely interested to find answers to this and other questions I hadn't even asked, yet, but I was shooed away like an annoying insect. He was clearly upset. Did he have no answer to give? I will never know, but I suspect that it was simply Politically Incorrect to discuss such things with a teenage boy in such a small town. Especially a small town in Mississippi, where I was born and partly raised. Baptist preachers have been fired for less.

 

Rev. Bragg did not tell me that the Garden of Eden story was a myth, borrowed from other Middle-Eastern mystery religions. He did not tell me that this story was incorporated into the Hebrew canon of teaching stories about 1000 BCE, during the reign of King Solomon. He did not tell me that this story was the response of the King's rabbis to problems with citizens "going beyond permitted boundaries." His simplistic religion did not permit him to explore any possibilities challenging the notion that every word in the Bible is literal truth. In other words, Rev. Bragg did not tell me the truth, because he was incurious about truth and had no truth to tell.

 

I haven't been a Baptist, since, but I am forever grateful to that preacher. He demonstrated to me very clearly that Christians are so busy worrying about Heaven, they don't know how to LIVE. For years I believed that this philosophy was original with me, and then I discovered Nietzsche, who may or may not have said it first.

 

Ecclesiastes, the Preacher, said "There is nothing new under the sun." That's not all he said. Go read it, now. How much do you know about Ecclesiastes, the Preacher?

 

Many years later when I was studying Zen Buddhism, I was contemplating a trip to India. A wise Asian man advised, "You are an American; you were brought up Christian. God lives in your own back yard; he won't be any easier to find in India."

 

The years from then to now have led me down many different paths, some wonderful, some merely interesting, some terrifying. I became a vegetarian, but I gave it up. I became a drug addict, and I gave that up, also...too late to save my first marriage. I went back to college. I drove a cab. I sold men's clothing at a store on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, where my best customers were several of the unforgetable 1974 Miami Dolphins.

 

I did a lot of reading. I became enamored of the Unitarian Universalists. I was extremely influenced by both Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. I went back to Christianity with new eyes. I couldn't stand it. My sanity was saved by my previous exposure to Buddhism.

 

Ram Dass said, "Be here, now."

 

Thich Nhat Hanh said, "The present moment is where life can be found."

 

To certain fanatic fundamentalists calling themselves Christians, I am a False Prophet, hell-bent and leading others astray. To liberal American Catholics, I am interesting. To most Buddhists and Bahai's, I am a brother. To most of the people of the world, I am "Who?"

 

I am quintessentially non-religious. For at least the past 35 years I have found more in common with witches than with adherents of Abrahamic religions, but I can't say that I "believe" their stuff, either. If I had to choose a label, I would choose "atheist." If that offends you, change it to "secular humanist" or "freethinker."

 

"Religion is the opiate of The People." ~ Dr Karl Marx

 

"Follow the path with heart." ~ Don Juan Matús, a putative creation of Cárlos Castañeda

 

"Every soul got to rock and roll." ~ Don Coyote (not his real name) 

 

©2000-2006 Don Harthcock, reprinted from http://www.opinionsoup.com/about.html with permission

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Guest zarathustra

Welcome aboard. I am alwqays astonished that more people don't ask the type of basic questions taht you asked of your preacher when you were a teenager.

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Howdy rrcanna,

 

Great post! I can relate w/ many of your journeys. Delving into Hinduism was part of my path, also. Even though I've moved more toward agnostism in the last 10 years, the category shift that happened after reading and meditating on brahman helped me break some of the stickershock from my cult days in the christian borg. ;)

 

And like you, I look back at the truly honest (yet seriously deluded) christians who shook me up enough to realize that their religion (and mine at the time) was just too ludicrous for words. Their blunt honesty about the wrathful nature of the christian god, his conspicuous consumption of our "souls" in that weird factory of hell if we didn't "choose" him, and the blatant borrowing from other myths (read the Metamorphoses by Ovid for similar flood and creation myths) helped me leave that baptist cult for good.

 

I look forward to reading more from you. Take care.

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Hi Don :wave:

 

Thanks for telling your story. I've enjoyed reading your posts and hope that you'll continue to contribute here.

 

Dan

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I certainly wouldn't ignore such words. Very intelligently spoken, with a theme and substance... Thanks.

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Interesting story, rrcanna. I've also found help for viewing life in a more healthy way by examining eastern religion and philosophy. It really opens your eyes when you can see the Christian viewpoint doesn't hold up under scrutiny. I notice that you are still in Mississippi; how is life for an atheist -or probably any exchristian- like there?

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