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The Final Nail


SoulofSilver
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I've been lurking here for months now, reading all the stories, rants, enjoyable discussions... The whole nine yards pretty much. I hesitated joining and sharing my story because, in all honesty, compared to many of the horrible experiences people here have gone through I've felt my life in "Christianity" is a joke in comparison.

 

My parents were never what would be considered "strong" Christians. My father was raised Catholic but despite my grandmother being fairly hardcore about attending, praying, believing, etc, he has never gone all out. Of course when it came time to raise children he felt it was a duty of his to raise my sister and I in the Catholic Church, and there was no "not going" until we were confirmed, but he never forced us into participating in being altar servers and whatnot and not once ever sent us on a guilt trip or feared us into believing what was being told in church.

 

My mother spent her life bouncing between protestant churches because her father couldn't seem to find one he liked (in the end he settled on a Lutheran church). In college she was always open to whatever her friends were, attending more protestant churches, going to temple with a Jewish friend, sidelining the activities of her pagan friends. Her experiences were transfered to me through statements like "I've seen so many churches and really, I never saw much difference". She always encouraged my sister and I to think for ourselves and reminding us that it wasn't required to go to church and adopt everything they said as a personal belief.

 

From the time I was 4 until my confirmation at 16 I went to church every Sunday. I was an ideal church school kid and did everything that was asked without much question, but looking back I can't say that I ever truly "accepted the message in my heart" or whatever bs. The only hump I had in my attitude was when I was unfortunately stuck in a class headed by a nun and a block-headed woman. My other teachers had been moms of kids I had been in school with who knew me and were pretty easy going. These two spouted some really intense party lines, tried to guilt trip, thought trying to scare a bunch of 14 year olds was a good tactic, and sternly shut down anyone who didn't sit there quietly and ate it up. After complaining to my parents a few times about it they agreed that I should just find a different class to be in. I bypassed talking to the two and the priest and asked one of the moms that I knew if I could please come to her class, and she thankfully said she'd love to have me.

 

Despite the fact that if asked what parts of Catholic and Christian belief in general that I agreed with I would have said "No" to 3/4 of it I continued along and was set to be confirmed. I was the only one in my group of 100 that stood up and agreed to make a banner to represent our confirmation group. The praise was nice, but I can't say I did it as a "testament of my confirmation in Jesus Christ" (quoted from the thank you note I received) but because I felt it was the "right" thing to do. I couldn't help but feel that it was obnoxious that year after year kids talk a big game about what they were going to do on the banner and all this other shit, but when it came time to do it they disappeared and made their parents do it. There is a verse that speaks about people who make a big deal of worshiping in public when they were actually pretty empty people vs someone who did their work privately and expected no praise. I just figured that maybe that's what I was feeling and moved on.

 

My confirmation sparked a small emotional response in me. There were a few moments when I felt close to tears and I thought and hoped that maybe I was finally having a "God Experience" while a more rational side knew that it was probably a typical hyped response. It wasn't an awful experience, or one that really made me doubt. It just felt so neutral and the money I got from family lasted longer than the good feelings I felt in that church. Once I was confirmed I only went to church a couple weeks before I told my parents that, as per their agreement with me, that I did not want to go to church except for holidays. My sister was a little miffed that she had 2 more years until she got out of it. Once she was confirmed my parents stopped going except for holidays and as far as I know they have no issues with not going.

 

I spent the years since my confirmation telling anyone who asked that I was no bible literalist, that I thought the OT was people behaving badly and saying God was behind it, and that many of Paul's letters were, in my eyes, tainted by his humanity that any messages from God were sparse at best. Despite this I still wanted the label of "Christian". I still felt that despite those issues and the inconsistencies in the Gospels that what Jesus was attributed to "saying" was a good message at its heart and that many bible verses were useful. I argued for years on a teen Christian forum as a liberal Christian, trying to get through to teens filled with hate for homosexuality, their sexuality, well, themselves period. My views weren't appreciated and I was banned many times for merely being who I was.

 

It wasn't until I started taking my currently 87 year old grandmother to church each week that the real problems with Christianity have come back to be a real problem again. Having to sit there each week through people who have no business reading publicly (really, if you're bad at reading, don't volunteer to do it) stumble through stories that make no sense to me. It took me being away and not hearing the stories then returning to make me really evaluate what I really believe.

 

I don't believe it. Not one little bit. I realize now that I arguably never did. It was easier to go along, but because my parents never "required" me to believe I never bought it. I realize now that I don't want the label of "Christian" because even if there is one gospel story that is helpful the rest totally counters it and renders every bit meaningless. I realize now that my belief that no one who wouldn't want to go to hell could possibly be sent there by a God that is touted as loving is totally incompatible with the God described in the bible regardless of how you "interpret" it. I realize now that it's pointless to try to argue with people about the role of a woman, the morality involved in sexuality, the inconsistency between the OT and NT and only frustrates me the longer I sit under the "Christian" banner. If sin involves wickedness and hate then how can loving someone of the same gender be sin? How can accepting scientific fact be hateful? How can expressing physical love to someone regardless of your marital status be considered an act of wickedness? It's not, and as long as mainstream Christianity clings to these ideas then I don't want to be known as Christian.

 

I'm finally going to wrap up this wall of text since I think you all have suffered enough (and I know that after typing this all out in one go that my grammar and punctuation may be atrocious). Hopefully I haven't bored anyone with a deconversion story not ridden with ruined self esteem, fears of hell, and family members who are less than accepting. I can't imagine having to go through that and anyone who had to has my deepest and most sincere sympathy.

 

So here I am no longer under the label of Christian, but not quite to the atheist end of the spectrum. I am struggling with not believing but still feeling a duty to take my grandmother to church. She's been my only grandparent and at 87 I know she isn't going to be around forever. Despite the venue being church, I enjoy the fact that I get to spend time with her (and a good breakfast after doesn't hurt). I struggle trying to figure out where I fall in agnosticism and in feeling a bit inadequate agreeing with bits and pieces of non-religious beliefs but not enough of one to call myself it. Right now I like the sound of Militant Ignostic Weak Agnostic Atheist, but it's honestly very confusing trying to line it up with the enjoyment I get from meditation, chants, tarot reading, etc.

 

But I'm only 21 and I have plenty of time to enjoy life and continue to figure out exactly what I believe. Hope to see everyone around here and hopefully I will find many people to talk to and enjoy exchanges regardless of where our personal beliefs currently are.

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Welcome SoulofSilver.

 

Even though you feel your story isn't so dramatic or radical, it's good to know that there are people out there who wakes up and realize the falsehood of Christianity.

 

Have fun. And we'll meet in the forums.

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Hi, SoulofSilver, and welcome to ExC. I found your extimony to be delightful. I liked this part the best:

 

Once I was confirmed I only went to church a couple weeks before I told my parents that, as per their agreement with me, that I did not want to go to church except for holidays.

 

I can just picture a 16 year old bringing out a contract and pointing to paragraph IV.3.B. which reads, "And at such time as SoulofSilver is confirmed in accordance with the ecclesiastical law of the Roman Catholic Church, she shall at that point in time and thereafter be entitled to decide for herself whether and to what extent she shall ever attend church." And then declaring in a strong tone of voice, "In accordance with this subparagraph, I have decided that I shall not attend church except for such holidays as I deem appropriate to attend."

 

Just teasing, of course. You seem really to have your head together. It's nice to hear from someone who had a smooth transition and whose family didn't attempt to brow beat her into submission to their religion.

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Welcome to ex-C SoulofSilver.

 

My story of leaving the fold was also very lacking in drama. I never even posted a story about it. However you did post one and I'm glad you did.

 

Again welcome. I hope you enjoy yourself here.

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Just teasing, of course. You seem really to have your head together. It's nice to hear from someone who had a smooth transition and whose family didn't attempt to brow beat her into submission to their religion.

Heh, it wasn't too far off from that picture.

"You promised that once I was confirmed I can chose when I want to go to church and can now convert to whatever I want. Well, it's time to hold that promise."

I'm glad that as of right now I am comfortable with myself and accept who I am and that my immediate family is fine with it. However, there is some fear. I'm young enough where I've come to the ex-christian point before marriage and children, but I am honestly terrified of what the future holds in regards to religion. Since my parents were first married by the justice of the peace I know my family won't say much, but I'm afraid of the kind of family I could marry into. I'd hate to start the Out-law train on a bad foot by being the girl that the son/nephew/grandson/cousin is marrying that refuses to have a church wedding. And as much as I love my Grandma, there is a part of my that hopes she is long dead by the time I have children because I don't think I would hear the end of it if I decided that I didn't want to raise kidlets Catholic and I am not looking forward to someday telling my Godmother if that situation comes to pass.

It's mostly because I have a fatal attraction to the guy who is not so religious himself but has a family that's all Irish Catholic and that's how things are done. It would suck to love someone so much but has a family that can't butt out. And sometimes I wonder if maybe I could put up with sending the kids to RCC because "it's expected" but fighting to make sure they don't feel any pressure to believe it or would I put my foot down 100%.

Hopefully it will never be an issue, but I do think about it a lot since the current "romantic interest" is part of the type of Irish Catholic that is dyed in the wool liberal yet still pushes for sending kids to Catholic School, going to church, etc. Not sure how that really works out in his immediate family with a couple of his siblings being gay (one living long term with a bf) but, meh.

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The situation you fear may not be so bad, in my opinion. If we assume that you will have a church wedding, that kind of a wedding is really more of a tradition than a truly religious event. Setting aside all the god talk, I like the pagentry, the formal attire, the beautiful wedding gown, the father giving away the bride and the whole thing because it sends a message that the decision that the bride and groom have made and are solemnifying in this ceremony, carries great weight and the bonds created thereby are not easily broken. You can even take the "god" part metaphorically if the two of you wish to with some meaning like the concept of "god" represents your eternal love for one another (or some such).

 

What I'm saying is, I don't think you need to fear the spectre of a church wedding if that is what the groom's family expects. You can decline the church wedding and stand on your principles and that would be a reasonable thing to do. Or you may decide to go with "tradition" (not religion) and have a church wedding. After all, in the eyes of the law, the priest is just someone the law authorizes to sign a marriage certificate. Personally, I don't think you would be betraying your principles if you were to decide to do the traditional church wedding.

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Unfortunately many RC priests in my area require "counseling" before agreeing to marry people in the church. In fact what really sparked my thinking about this was learning that a girl I went to HS with approached the local priest with her fiancée asking if he would marry them and he outright told them that they were heathens and would burn in hell. I just honestly think that I would not be able to sit there and keep my mouth shut.

 

And I'm not much for the fluff and stuff of traditional weddings anyway heh. My ideal day would be justice of the peace, brunch (code for waffles), then get the hell out so I can get on my honeymoon. The whole wedding thing is less of a big deal to me than the children aspect because it's easier to put my foot down and say "I'm a bridezilla, it's my day and we're going to make this quick so I can eat some #*&&$^ waffles and bacon"

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Unfortunately many RC priests in my area require "counseling" before agreeing to marry people in the church. In fact what really sparked my thinking about this was learning that a girl I went to HS with approached the local priest with her fiancée asking if he would marry them and he outright told them that they were heathens and would burn in hell. I just honestly think that I would not be able to sit there and keep my mouth shut.

 

And I'm not much for the fluff and stuff of traditional weddings anyway heh. My ideal day would be justice of the peace, brunch (code for waffles), then get the hell out so I can get on my honeymoon. The whole wedding thing is less of a big deal to me than the children aspect because it's easier to put my foot down and say "I'm a bridezilla, it's my day and we're going to make this quick so I can eat some #*&&$^ waffles and bacon"

 

I was never Roman Catholic so I wasn't aware of the counseling aspect. That would be real tough to take for sure. When I was married, it was a lot like you describe how you would like to do it. I was in the U.S. Navy and stationed in Hawaii and my bride and I were married on the beach at 7:30 a.m. on a beautiful morning with the Navy chaplain presiding and two of my buddies as witnesses. Larry was the bridesmaid.... We still laugh at that to this day.

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The whole wedding thing is less of a big deal to me than the children aspect because it's easier to put my foot down and say "I'm a bridezilla, it's my day and we're going to make this quick so I can eat some #*&&$^ waffles and bacon"

 

 

Oh god that made me laugh so hard.

 

Thanks for posting your story, and I know you think it's boring, but it's not. You sound like a deep thinker, and the mental struggles you went through trying to justify stuff in your head you know you couldn't believe sound very painful.

 

Thanks for joining and posting, and I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

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  • 1 month later...

Silver,

 

Your experience is very similar to mine except substitute Methodist for catholic.

 

My wife and I actually did the wedding in her parents backyard with mainly family and friends. Everyone dressed in hawiian shirts and dockers, shoes optional. Some did come in dresses and heels but that was their choice.

 

10 minute cermony and then on to the BBQ, booze, and tears. Her dad had a whole speech written out but when the time came he couldn't get a word out. Then after the sun went down FIREWORKS.

 

Its great livin in the sticks sometimes.

 

So, if that's what you want, then you should just do it.

 

 

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SoS - Very well written, I think you are a very well reasoned and thoughtful person just from the times we have talked. It's good you didn't go through the horrible experiences a lot of people here have for two reasons - one, you didn't have to go through it and two, you still made it out of religion even when you didn't go through an experience like that. I know a lot of people who just kind of get by in their church...It's more of a social gathering or country club than anything. More power to you for standing up for yourself and drawing a line in the sand.

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