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Guest Syllogistic Anomaly

Deprogramming Myself

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Guest Syllogistic Anomaly

When I was 6 years old and my brother 5, my mother sat us down around the kitchen table and helped us ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come into our hearts and be our Lord and Savior. I don't think either of us had a clue what we were saying or why. My mother was, and still is, an ex-Catholic Protestant. My father was, and still is, a confirmed an atheist. She liked his Americanness (she's from Mexico) and he liked her chest. It's not a great reason to get or stay married and they stopped it when I was 12. When I was 13, I learned what that prayer we did when I was 6 really meant. I didn't feel saved at 13, so I asked Jesus to come into my heart again. I figured that he couldn't come in when I was 6 because I didn't know what I was asking. I week later, I asked him again. And then again. And then again. I didn't feel any more saved than I did when I was 6, but what did I know? I still thought boys had cooties and none of the other girls my age did. Maybe it was a special thing, just between me and Jesus. A little, loving game to make him feel extra-special welcome. With that in mind, I told my surrogate grandfather, who also happened to be a founding elder of our church, about my little, loving game with Jesus and how great I thought it was. He didn't think it was so great, so he took me to the front door of his home and he invited me in. I came in and stood next to him. He opened his door again, and invited me in. There was no one there. And he did it again. There was no one there. I remember touching my heart and wondering why Jesus had never come in. What was wrong with me? I didn't mention it to my surrogate Grandfather because I didn't want him to think I was bad. I cried for a while that night, under my covers and my pillow so no one would know. If Jesus loved me and he was with me, why was I so empty? Why was I so alone?

 

A few days later, my dad, Super Atheist Man (bet he even had the atheist underoos) found out about the ask Jesus into your heart thing and sat my brother and I down with a VCR tape of "Logan's Run." I'm pretty sure it was on Betamax. We had soda. He had a six-pack. My brother and I were a little too young to make such esoteric connections and I found the movie really embarrassing. The Puberty Fairy had crappy aim. She missed when she tossed the boy band dust at me. My brother had to point out every time you could see Logan's thingy poking against his funky clothes and just oh my gawd. I'm scarred for life. My dad eventually got around to explaining that the line, "There is no sanctuary" means "There's no such thing as heaven."

 

We lived with my mother after the divorce and she's a good, God-fearing woman. She loved to dress up in her best clothes and spend a lot of time getting ready to go anywhere. I've seen her without her makeup. It's really scary. Church was a weekly social event for her. She loved the service, she loved Sunday School. She loved the entire thing. I, well, I hated it. I wasn't a cool kid. I wasn't even allowed to lay eyes on the cool kids. The only people who socialized with me were forced to by their parents, the youth minister, or the Sunday School teachers. I got uncooler as I got older. I didn't like boys, clothes, or makeup, I liked to read the dictionary and I could wax poetic about the imaginary number. I discovered the joys of making stuff up. I gained a new motto, never tell the truth when you can lie; it doesn't matter if they believe you or not. I only got worse when the Puberty Fairy caught up with me. I wallowed in my depression and my general teenage angst. I don't know what happened, but I felt kind of like a kinship with the new youth minister. He looked me in the eye when he talked to me (most males preferred to converse with my chest). He actually talked with me, too. He even pretended that the imaginary number was interesting enough to hear about for a few minutes. He was concerned enough to talk to me about my lying. I was highly ashamed of it. We had a morally appropriate rapport. So I told him the truth, for once. I told him about my Dad's new found fascination with my chest. He didn't believe me. In retrospect, I couldn't blame him. It was the mid 80s and the therapy created repressed memories of sexual abuse scandal had really just hit the fan. It's a horrible accusation to level at an innocent man. I'd already been picking my scabs. Shrink call it wound interference. I started cutting myself. I drifted out of Jesus's sphere. I figured I'd kill myself right after graduation and everyone knew suicides went to hell, so why bother being a good Christian? I lied about breaking my tailbone (I just bruised it) and managed to fake my way out of six months of my senior year. I didn't graduate. The state had a program that'd let me take the one class I did need and the GED test to get my High School Diploma. Halfway through that, my mother moved to Oklahoma. She tried to find me a place to stay with some church friends, but in a very Jerry Springer moment, she got me a month at the apartment of her ex-fiance's, ex-wife's eldest daughter. I was supposed to be finished with the GED in three weeks and then follow her down. I had just turned 18. I got married to bad boy of the drag strip instead. That was 18 years ago.

 

He's Christian. His level of commitment has fluctuated over the years, and has tapered off. I don't think there's a church that would have him for a member. Back then, though, I was a doormat and he was strong, safe, and looked me in the eye. In retrospect, I was very, very lucky that he's a good man. He joined the Army and I rejoined High School. I got my diploma with honors. I gave up lying, for the most part. Habits and all that. He went to Desert Storm and he came back, changed as war is wont to do. Contrary to what some may believe, Desert Storm wasn't shown on CNN in its entirety. We transferred up to Alaska where we joined a wonderful Assembly of God church. For the most part, the congregation loved us. The pastor's wife and another lady was there when I gave birth to my son. I got deep into my Christianity. It was easy with them. We sang, we prayed, we fellowshipped. If I needed anything, there was always someone there to help.

 

Fast forward a few years. He'd gotten out of the Army and I'd joined the Navy. I needed a backbone. I needed an attitude adjustment. I needed some self-esteem and self-confidence desperately. Huh. My dog tags still say Christian on them. The Navy was good for me. I gave up the lying habit inasmuch as we ever do in my culture. I learned to speak Korean. I picked up epilepsy and was medically retired. The Big Guy and I packed up our son, he was 5 at the time, the dog, and moved back to Kansas. Once we found a place to live, we found the local Assembly of God. I sat through one service, enraged. The preacher was telling me that our illnesses and our disabilities are physical manifestations of our sin and they were keeping us from god. We never went back. We tried to find another church, but it wasn't easy. He was hostile and I hate getting up in the morning. So we drifted, reading the Bible and praying together once in a while. We figured that our church home would turn up when we moved again. God had a plan.

 

And then Dubya started talking about the Saddam Hussein a few months before 9/11. I watched him on TV, terrified of another Desert Storm, yet kind of morbidly fascinated with it. I watched Muslims on TV in the background of some on the scene in Baghdad reporter's blab-fest. I don't know why my thoughts took the tangent, but they did. I was a Christian because I grew up in jerkwater Kansas. If I'd grown up in jerkwater Baghdad, I'd be a Muslim. My religion was an accident of birth. A crisis of faith hit me hard. I became obsessed with my Bible. I read it over and over, sometimes with three translations side by side. I prayed for guidance. I knew God wanted me to stay in the fold. I trusted that He would help me. Jesus loved me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I had faith that He would love me enough. We all have little burps in our faith, everyone knows that. You just persevere and God would make Himself known to you. I didn't even want an external sign or an answer. I wanted His Word to reveal Himself to me. It would, after all, faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain. So I read my Bible. That's was the beginning of the end. The Bible, God's Word, the absolute Truth directly from the breath of the All Mighty. It lied. Paul wrote that I should be quiet and submissive. If I had any questions, I was to ask my husband. Husband, also a verb that means to manage and use prudently. I was breaking God's rules by searching for His wisdom on my own. God thought of me as inferior. This kind and loving God had two she-bears slaughter 43 youths for calling Elijah baldy. But the Old Testament doesn't matter! Everyone knows that! Jesus came and made it irrelevant. But God's perfect. Perfect and changeable are mutually exclusive. None of the four gospels, Words directly from God, could agree on half of the things Jesus said or did. God told Abraham to kill Isaac because God was jealous. Jesus said to hate your family. The more I read, the more the Bible contradicted itself, proving that it was, at the very least in part, a lie. That the perfect God lied. Or it wasn't the word of God, but the work of man. And that led back to the idea that religion is socialized, not a matter of Truth. On the sly, I studied other religions. I'd started college, so it was pretty easy to get source material for the major and some minor ones both in scripture and in academic study. I very much prefer sociological studies because they're subject to the scientific method, break down the religion into it's basic doctrines both good and bad, and give religious history and info on sects. Primary source material aims for converts. All of them failed in the same way the Bible failed. The only one that made any sense was Buddhism, specifically Zen which is about as close to original Buddhist philosophy as is practiced today. Buddha said to listen to what he had to say, if you want, but test it with your own experience. Question authority. Doubt. Think. He said he couldn't solve your problems, but he could help you solve the problem of problems.

 

Then came the hard part. Breaking the news to the family. The Big Guy took it bad. He acted as if it were a complete betrayal of him and the plans he had for his future. He'd harbored a sort of quasi-dream of being a preacher, but without having to actually preach. My son was too young to care. The rest of my family still doesn't know. Be ye not unequally yoked.... Well, that's almost happened a few times. We don't talk about religion here. I've said that I don't know if there's a god or not, there's no evidence to support some supreme being's existence or lack thereof, however, if a supreme being does exist, it hasn't made its presence known in any discernable way, so its existence is irrelevant enough to equal nonexistence. The Big Guy has chosen to hear that I believe god exists, maybe not the Biblical god, but god nevertheless. I let it go, just so long as he doesn't share the info with the neighbors. I've had enough well-meaning Christians tell my young son that his mother was going hell in an effort to reconvert me.

 

The hardest part was hell. I was terrified of hell for the longest time. For nearly a year I would shiver and break out into a sweat. I was so tempted to take Pascal up on his Wager, just so I wouldn't go to hell. I still have odd moments where the fear of hell bites me. That's when I started to hate god. What kind of unconditional love is the god giving? Worship and serve me or suffer for all eternity? I'm a follower. I'm beta. I roll over on my back and show my belly. I clung to Buddhism. Zazen helped me push aside my irrational, indoctrinated fear. The Eightfold Path helped me navigate my way through some seriously negative emotions. And it's so hard. I live in the butt crack of the Bible Belt. We spawned Fred Phelps. There was no one to talk to. Bringing up my fear of hell was the quickest way to getting Witnessed to. Well meaning Christians would tell me that it was the Holy Spirit Convicting me. You could just hear the dripping capital letters. They refused to understand that it wasn't the Holy Spirit, it was early childhood programming. I couldn't tell anyone about the little, loving, come in game I played with Jesus when I was 13 because they'd tell me I wasn't a real Christian. They still tell me that I was never filled with the Holy Spirit. They just can't understand how someone can be drowned in the Holy Spirit, yet still leave. It's hard to talk about how traumatic the fear of hell actually is because it seems so silly. Atheists think it's silly to be afraid of something that doesn't exist. Christians think it's silly to be afraid of something that Jesus will save you from. I think it's silly because I know what it is. It's a fairy tale that Christianity uses to terrify people into believing. It's not Jesus's love. It's not God's love. It's the fear of hell. It's hidden in the supercilious, "I know where I'm going when I die, do you?" In the 70s, when cults were a bigger problem than they appear to be today, parents used to hire professional deprogrammers to kidnap their kids from the cults and the deprogram the brainwashing. It's been five years since I deconverted. I've had to deprogram myself. Sometimes, I still find stuff in my head that I have to get rid of. Like feeling like a cornered rat whenever someone invites me to church.

 

I'm sorry this is so long. I kind of rambled. Okay, I rambled a lot.

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It's been five years since I deconverted. I've had to deprogram myself. Sometimes, I still find stuff in my head that I have to get rid of. Like feeling like a cornered rat whenever someone invites me to church.

 

I love your story, thanks so much for sharing it. Last night, as I was (still) talking out some issues I'm working through, my husband said, "I thought you had worked through it all already." I didn't know how to explain that deprogramming happens over a long time, maybe...forever? I don't know. I, too, practice zazen and have found through it that I can actually relate to one bible verse: the scales fall from my eyes every time I come to see the truth in a new way.

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*Hugs*

 

Welcome to Ex-C.

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Welcome! Wow that was a great read!

 

I do think that deprogramming may be a lifelong process. Some of those messages are programmed pretty deep. I've been out of xtianity now for 20 years and even I find those messages creeping into my thinking at times.

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My mother was, and still is, an ex-Catholic Protestant.

I'm sorry, but I have to ask.. what the heck is a Catholic Protestant? Is it something like a Liberal Conservative, or Democratic Republican? :HaHa: I always thought the Protestant movement was Martin Luther and the whole break off from the Catholic church?

 

(I like your screen name btw)

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Guest Syllogistic Anomaly

Medjool:

Thank you for reading my story. It feels good to be, I dunno, is validated the right word? I think so. It's good to have my experience validated by someone who understands. I'd forgotton about the "scales from my eyes" verse. You're right, it's incredibly apt in a way that the writers of that verse probably never intended.

 

Amethyst:

Thank you so much for the welcome!

 

upstarter:

I was afraid of that, deprogramming wise. When I deconverted, I thought it was simply a matter of realigning my paradigm and explaining to relatives why I no longer attended church. I knew I was socialized to be Christian, the same way I'm socialized to think guys in pink = effete. I didn't realize how much the socialization skewed my entire world view.

 

HanSolo:

She's an ex-Catholic who became a Protestant, so ex-Catholic Protestant. It makes her very weird in Christianity sometimes. (I'm very logical, but there's usually something wrong with my syllogisms. *sigh* Spock is one of my heroes. I meant to sign up with my usual online nickname, Muffie, but I pulled a Bonehead. And I'm supposed to be the smart one in the family, too.)

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A good friend of minw was a Roman Catholic and converted to Protestantism, and that was uhm, er, uhm my fault in my Jezus daze. Now I am working on deconverting him and making up for it. Man is he a holy roller now! Some people keep trading one poison for another.

 

welcome to the forums.

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I too enjoyed your post.

Welcome to our community. It does help to read about what people think especially when we think out of the norm. It's supportive. And it encourages me to stay put. I'll never go back to Christianity.

I hope the best for you with your "big guy"! LOL It's not going to be an easy road. But whatever comes to pass, I hope you remain strong in yourself.

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JESUS LIES. Who says so? The bible does :

 

 

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/end.html

 

 

If a liar threatens you with hell, are you going to believe him without some very solid evidence which has yet to be provided?

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