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Help With Anger And Fear


carbonunit
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I recently saw an interview with woman named Jill Mytton. She is a psychologist who specializes in helping those abused by their faith. I feel I need help so I sent her an email. I reproduce this email here in the hopes that someone on this forum can help me.

 

I saw your interview with Richard Dawkings on the internet. I live in California and in my late 20's started going to church because a fear of hell that I had learned in my childhood had resurfaced. I didn't receive any kind of religious indoctrination from my family, but a few friends of mine had religious parents and I would, from time to time, go to church with them. I remember being terrified that this all powerful God would throw people into a never ending lake of fire. I put it off as nonsense in my teens and early twenties but it was still lodged in the back of my mind. How it exactly resurfaced I don't know but I couldn't get the thought and the fear out of my head. I became extremely depressed so I started going to churches thinking this must be God trying to tell me something. I landed at a church called Redwood Covenant Church where the people were great and inviting. I decided to become a "Christian" and started to read the bible. This is were the trouble started. I could not square the loving god that was being preached by a very good man on Sunday with what I was reading. Thus started my journey into Christian apologetics which, after 10 years, left me with no satisfactory answers. I left the church after a blow-up with a girl friend and became angry. I attack Christianity using what I have learned from Richard Dawkings, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and the like, but the anger is still that of a little boys fear. My fiance of the last 3 years just left me because of it. She and her daughter go to a nice moderate church and she loves it there. But my anger and attacks on her faith just ate her up.

I would like to know if there is anyone in northern California I could talk to that could help me. My anger for this religion must end. I just turned 40 and I fear becoming an angry, bitter old man with no relations. I don't know where to turn from people who would understand.

Please help if you can.

 

Thank you,

Shane

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I'm very sorry about your relationship troubles due to your animosity toward the Christian faith. Believe me, I hate Christianity as much as anyone... But I still have a very close relationship with my family (all of them missionaries). I have heard that Dr. Marlene Winnell leads weekend retreats on the west coast for people recovering from Christianity. She also occasionally posts on web fora such as this. http://www.marlenewinell.net/ I also enjoyed her book "Leaving the Fold." Which I recommend to you.

 

I used to have a lot of anxiety about the idea of "God's wrath." There were days when the idea kept me from getting out of bed all day. It made me weep, rage, and disrupted my social and professional life. All that is ancient history. The idea of hell, God's curse, vengeance, etc. simply makes no impression upon me at all anymore. I was a Christian from birth, and deconverted at age 25. Now I am 30.

 

Why doesn't Yahweh's wrath bother me anymore? It isn't because I stopped believing in Yahweh's wrath -- because I still believe in it. I just don't care about it. I have no reason to disbelieve in Yahweh and his malice. If he exists, he would just be one of very many powerful, foul-minded and cruel people who we all know exist. Just because there are mean people out there (perhaps Yahweh included) does not mean that we should live in fear of them or obsess about them. There is a guy at work who hates me and has more seniority than me. Even so, I love my job and love going to work.

 

Christians say that we non-Christians are EVEN TODAY living under the curse that Yahweh has pronounced against us. Yahweh might hate all of us non-Christians and may have designs to make us suffer -- now and after this life is over. Even so, who cares? I am enjoying my life now, even as he invents evil in his mind for me. He may be trying to destroy me now, as Christians say he is, but it is NOT WORKING. He is failing, and there simply is no reason to believe he will be any more successful in a next life. Life is good, and if there is another life, our experience would predict that the next life will be good too -- with or without Yahwehs. Yahweh must be the most impotent deity to ever live, and his plans are being thwarted on an hourly basis by Goodness itself.

 

I fully expect to go to Hell, but if the next Hell is like this Hell, I will find that all my most hopeful, brightest dreams will be realized in what Yawheh calls "Hell."

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Why doesn't Yahweh's wrath bother me anymore? It isn't because I stopped believing in Yahweh's wrath -- because I still believe in it. I just don't care about it. I have no reason to disbelieve in Yahweh and his malice. If he exists, he would just be one of very many powerful, foul-minded and cruel people who we all know exist.

 

I fully expect to go to Hell, but if the next Hell is like this Hell, I will find that all my most hopeful, brightest dreams will be realized in what Yawheh calls "Hell."

I've gone a step further. I no longer obsess about not getting presents from Santa, or that the Boogie Man will climb out from under my bed at night and kill me. I have no fear of hell or longing for heaven. I have no fear of gods, demons, ghosts or goblins.

 

I fear car wrecks, snakes (when I'm in snake country), diseases that are common and that I am exposed to, atherosclerotic heart and vascular disease, cancer, and random violence (I live in a large city).

 

It's a big step, but it makes life a lot easier when all you need to do is deal with reality.

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It's a big step, but it makes life a lot easier when all you need to do is deal with reality.

 

Why take away someone's dreams? I think of Yahweh's wrath as an opportunity rather than as a misfortune. It is the opposition against which I can refine my character and develop into a hero. All pains and all sorrows, all demons and all Gods are but the instruments of truth and goodness. Don't take away Yahweh, because, whether he intends to or not, his wrath presents an occasion for growth.

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Hi Shane,

 

I understand both the fear of hell and anger about all of it. In my case what I found helpful with the hell issue was to look at 1) the psychology of manipulative/authoritarian groups and 2) religious studies, especially with respect to beliefs about the afterlife... what different views were out there, where modern ideas of hell came from, etc. The history and comparative religious studies helped to put the modern Christian idea of hell into perspective. Learning about the psychology of groups and ideologies that manipulate through fear helped me to understand how my emotions could be so affected by that idea, even when I believed intellectually that it wasn't true.

Those two things really helped me to re-frame the fear I was going through. Beyond that, it was also helpful to spend time talking with people about or reading about completely different, compelling (for me, anyway) worldviews which did not feature petty dictator Gods who would abandon (or toss) people in hell. It was very refreshing to me to hear other ideas of what might happen after death which were not fear-inducing and manipulative. It was also helpful to come to terms with the idea that death could simply be a permanent end. Since we won't know for sure until we get there, I also had to get used to uncertainty; learning to deal with this was very important in dealing with many other questions after breaking away, too.

 

With respect to the anger, I do still deal with that sometimes, but I ended up letting go of a lot of mine through a series of experiences that occurred about 11 years ago. Some of it involved a class in anthropology of religion where our class did participant observation in rural mountain churches. In order to do that we had to learn to let go of our preconceptions as much as we could and simply observe and try to understand what the participants may have been getting out of whatever activity you were witnessing. Some of my healing also involved a couple of different rituals and spiritual work I did within my current faith. Some came through very unexpected events and later discussions with a very understanding liberal Episcopalian Rector (like a priest). It was an intense and nearly year-long process which happened about 9 years after leaving Christianity for good.

 

I hope you're able to get some good answers here. Fear and anger are tough things to deal with, especially when they are causing disruption in other aspects of life.

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MBL,

 

Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful response. I will take your ideas to heart and try to apply them to my problem. I have received a response from Jill Mytton which states that she is going to help me find somebody in my area (Sonoma County, California) who I can talk to.

 

Llwellyn,

 

You seem like you either haven't actually recovered at all from your particular meme virus or you have created a new virulent strain. As you apparently are still suffering acutely from your indoctrination, I have to ask that you no longer try to help me with my problem. I sincerely hope you get help. Thanks for writing.

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Carbonunit,

 

Glad you heard back from Jill. Let us know how you are doing with these issues as you tackle them.

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Llwellyn,

 

You seem like you either haven't actually recovered at all from your particular meme virus or you have created a new virulent strain. As you apparently are still suffering acutely from your indoctrination, I have to ask that you no longer try to help me with my problem. I sincerely hope you get help. Thanks for writing.

 

Carbonunit, since you're quite new, maybe you'll accept a suggestion. If you find a certain person's posts difficult or unhelpful, you can always skip over them and not read them.

 

I found Llwellyn's posts worth reading. He has not been around for a long time and I am happy to see him posting again. We are not all alike and don't all need the same thing.

 

Anyway, welcome to the forums, carbonunit. I'm glad you heard back from the person in your area. Also, Marlene Winnell has much experience helping people coming out of fundamentalist religion, as someone posted.You might find it worth your time checking out her website for her workshops.

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Llwellyn,

 

You seem like you either haven't actually recovered at all from your particular meme virus or you have created a new virulent strain. As you apparently are still suffering acutely from your indoctrination, I have to ask that you no longer try to help me with my problem. I sincerely hope you get help. Thanks for writing.

This is a pretty low thing to write someone who is sincerely responding to your thread. We don't treat people that way on this forum.

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