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Citsonga

Letter To My Christian Parents

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They might start worrying about your daughter's faith education, if you don't go to church, and become verbally pushy then. How old is your daughter? You're lucky they live 500 miles away. My mother-in-law is pushy about religion and she lives too close for comfort.

 

I have two daughters. The oldest just turned 13 on Tuesday and the youngest is 10. My wife still takes them to church, though.

 

Sorry to hear about your circumstances.

 

I don't have a lot of faith that my mother is disciplined enough to get through this letter, she only like to read things she understands and agrees with. But I am thinking of writing my own letter & attaching yours. I am sick of answering her very rude, illogical questions.

 

Feel free to do that.

 

Gotta get back to work....

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Even if your parents don't really respond to your letter, the thought that went into it is still useful in many ways. It helped you formulate a lot about your own feelings and objections. It's sad that they won't acknowledge it the way you likely hoped and my own hope is that you won't feel the effort is wasted. I certainly think it was worthwhile.

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Well, not much had happened regarding religion with my parents since my last post here until recently. I visited over the 4th of July and was asked if I was going to church, which is no big deal, as I just declined and it was left at that.

 

While out there, my Dad did say that one of my cousins "claims to be a lesbian," and then briefly appealed to "end times" being like "Sodom and Gomorrah." I bit my tongue, but it blew my mind that he'd think that his little comment would have any swaying effect on me after I laid out such a detailed explanation of insurmountable problems with the Bible. (And, of course, the "claims to be" comment was clearly meant to discredit her.)

 

Then this week I got a forwarded email from my Mother denouncing gay rights, which I had to respond to. You can read it here: http://www.ex-christ...-and-my-mother/

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This reinforces my leanings toward pretending and providing polite lip-service. You deserve so much more from them! Religion and fear are just too powerful.

 

Warmest regards, Citsonga.

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Thank you so much for sharing! Like many others here, I've also saved it for continued re-read... it's a better reference (and well-compiled) than many others out there and thougtfully highlights so many of the issues I've also recognized but have been unable to articulate.

Thanks again and good luck with your journey!

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Citsonga,

 

Even though the letter didn't really seem to sink in with your folks, by the looks of it, it's being used to guide others to the truth.

So I hope you're not discouraged. It was terrific and incredibly comprehensive. It will help me in future discussions that's for sure yellow.gif

 

When I asked my pastor about the inconsistencies in the Gospels a couple of years back when I was still a Christian, his answer was that the fact that the accounts are differing is something that actually strengthens it's credibility....because if a group of people were going to write something that was fabricated, then they would get together and get the story straight before they told their stories to ensure that the story was the same on all accounts....so in his eyes, the inconsistencies strengthen the case for historical accuracy.

 

Thoughts on this, anybody?

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Citsonga,

 

Even though the letter didn't really seem to sink in with your folks, by the looks of it, it's being used to guide others to the truth.

So I hope you're not discouraged. It was terrific and incredibly comprehensive. It will help me in future discussions that's for sure yellow.gif

 

When I asked my pastor about the inconsistencies in the Gospels a couple of years back when I was still a Christian, his answer was that the fact that the accounts are differing is something that actually strengthens it's credibility....because if a group of people were going to write something that was fabricated, then they would get together and get the story straight before they told their stories to ensure that the story was the same on all accounts....so in his eyes, the inconsistencies strengthen the case for historical accuracy.

 

Thoughts on this, anybody?

 

About the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Does it work in court? I didn't think so.

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When I asked my pastor about the inconsistencies in the Gospels a couple of years back when I was still a Christian, his answer was that the fact that the accounts are differing is something that actually strengthens it's credibility....because if a group of people were going to write something that was fabricated, then they would get together and get the story straight before they told their stories to ensure that the story was the same on all accounts....so in his eyes, the inconsistencies strengthen the case for historical accuracy.

 

Thoughts on this, anybody?

 

That is pure spin. He has to try to make it look like it supports his religion. That is how he gets paid.

 

A better explanation for why there are four gospels is that Matthew and Luke are criticisms of Mark. They were written by people who disagreed with Mark and they were correcting what they thought were the mistakes or flaws in Mark. That is why Matthew and Luke are at times word for word copies of Mark but suddenly something is changed or a new passage is added. And John is a complete reboot. John corrects what somebody saw as the flaws and mistakes in the other three. When the synoptic gospels paint Jesus as a quiet, mysterious man who warns others to not talk about his real identity the story of John has Jesus give long speeches on just who he is and his role in the universe. It's the complete opposite. John is also the one that introduces the idea that the Son and the Father are one. The reason is because that concept didn't exist during the end of the first century when the synoptics were being written. What your pastor isn't telling you is that after John came dozens of more gospels and each one went in a different direction and added even more stuff. Writing gospels was a booming industry. The four that made it into the Bible did so because the Catholic Church picked them when the Catholic Church created the Bible. (Which is why the Catholics put so much emphasis on their own traditions rather than the authority of the Bible. They invented the Bible so their traditions are more important that the works they choose to support those traditions.)

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Citsonga,

 

Even though the letter didn't really seem to sink in with your folks, by the looks of it, it's being used to guide others to the truth.

So I hope you're not discouraged. It was terrific and incredibly comprehensive. It will help me in future discussions that's for sure yellow.gif

 

When I asked my pastor about the inconsistencies in the Gospels a couple of years back when I was still a Christian, his answer was that the fact that the accounts are differing is something that actually strengthens it's credibility....because if a group of people were going to write something that was fabricated, then they would get together and get the story straight before they told their stories to ensure that the story was the same on all accounts....so in his eyes, the inconsistencies strengthen the case for historical accuracy.

 

Thoughts on this, anybody?

 

Thanks for the kind words. I've considered taking the time to expand the content of the letter even further for future use.

 

Regarding your pastor's claim, that's a common argument. As others have already said, though, it's spin that doesn't work in court. In a court of law, when four witnesses give contradictory accounts, it is never presumed that all four contradictory accounts are completely true. Courts need to try to decipher who all are mistaken or lying, and whether or not any of them are even telling the truth.

 

There is a sliver of truth to it, though. One wouldn't expect four witnesses to give the exact same word-for-word account, and if they did, then it would be unerstood that there was copying going on instead of each simply giving his/her own account. Incidentally, Matthew and Luke do indeed copy quite extensively from Mark, with numerous passages being word-for-word (or nearly so) lifted from the older gospel. Now, why would Matthew need to copy text from Mark if Matthew himself was a disciple and a witness to the events? The fact is that nobody knows who wrote the gospels, and a parallel study of the synoptics shows a lot of copying going on, as well as a lot of contradictions, especially where Matthew and Luke report events that were not in Mark and therefore were not copied word-for-word from Mark.

 

It is true that four honest eye-witnesses of an event can give contradictory accounts. Some could have a misconception of something that happened due to the vantage point they were looking from, and some could have faulty memories. That, of course, means that the accounts are not accurate in detail, even if given honestly from eye-witnesses. For Christians to use this argument for the Bible is a slap in the face of the doctrines of divine inspiration and biblical inerrancy. It's quite telling how religious leaders talk out of both sides of their mouth, wanting us to believe that the Bible is perfect and accurate while simultaneously using arguments that only partially work with flawed accounts. Beyond that, there is not one single shred of evidence that the gospels were even written by the individuals whose names the church has attached to them, much less that they truly were eye-witness accounts.

 

Basically, what you have with arguments like your pastor's is nothing more than starting with a preconceived conclusion and then rationalizing things in an effort to try to make them fit the preconceived conclusion. That is quite the opposite of the scientific approach and is clearly not a reliable method for ascertaining truth.

 

The argument also fails to recognize that there is a substantial difference between having accounts that differ in wording and accounts that contradict each other. The gospels do contradict each other, and therefore it is entirely impossible for them to all be right in all details. Inerrancy is an errant doctrine.

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I just started reading your letter, and this section "I must admit that I have never been comfortable talking about serious subjects with you, Dad" rings very true with me. My dad is very knowledgeable, particularly in all things biblical, but he likes to lecture, not discuss. It can be very frustrating.

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I just started reading your letter, and this section "I must admit that I have never been comfortable talking about serious subjects with you, Dad" rings very true with me. My dad is very knowledgeable, particularly in all things biblical, but he likes to lecture, not discuss. It can be very frustrating.

 

Indeed, my Dad can be next to impossible to reason with. Even when I was a Christian, I couldn't have deep conversations with him. He's extremely opinionated and has practically zero capacity to grasp where someone of another viewpoint is coming from, not just in matters of religion, but with other things too.

 

He likewise knows a lot of details about the Bible, but nothing in the way of an intellectual approach. He comes from a fire and brimstone background, and that's pretty much the only thing he understands (or thinks he understands, as it would be better to put it). He knows pretty much nothing about the history of how the Bible was put together, nor does he seem to be able to see past the cobbled backwoods apologetics that he's been indoctrinated with. At least, I seriously doubt that he had realized much (if any) of the problems I raised in the letter until he read it, and even then with such a detailed letter I'm not sure that he has had the intellectual capacity really understand all that is wrong with his religion.

 

Another side of his stubbornness is the way he was always quick to jump to conclusions, and any attempt to explain the truth to him was met with an accusation of sassing. Now, I won't claim to have been a perfect child, and of course I did occasionally get into trouble. However, there were also quite a number of occasions where I got my ass beat for things I did not do, or things that were completely different from what he assumed, or things that I had not been told not to do. He thought he was setting a godly example as an authority figure, but in reality he was often an asshole. (Which, if you take the Bible literally, I guess would be a godly example, since the Bible often portrays God as being an asshole. I just wish that I had seen through the bullshit back then.)

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Citsonga, I have a similar relationship with my dad, though both of my parents have always respected my discipline and perspective. I have not brought myself to have a direct conversation with them about my current conclusions regarding Christian beliefs, and I'm still not sure that it's a good idea to ever have that conversation. If someone is incapable of understanding your perspective, can you even call it a discussion? Will it accomplish anything positive for either party? I wish you well.

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TrueFreedom, that's pretty much why I never brought the subject up myself. It was only after my father brought it up and tried to press the issue (even though I told him I didn't wish to talk about it) that I challenged him and then set out to write the letter. I stated in the letter that my intent was not to change their minds, and I knew fully well that I at least probably wouldn't change his mind (my mother isn't as closed-minded, so I thought there may have been a chance for her to see where I'm coming from, but it appears that even she doesn't want to deal with the problems).

 

My letter was basically an attempt to help them see that I did not haphazardly walk away from the faith. The point was that I thought a lot of things through and I have a lot of evidence for my position. My position is not one of rebellion, and it seems that perhaps they grasp that. My other intent was to help prevent them from trying to push their religion on me anymore, and for the most part it seems to have worked. Other than an occasional brief comment, the subject doesn't come up.

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I'm only two pages in so far, and it already feels like this is a letter I would write to my own parents ten years from now. Thank you for sharing this with us. 

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You're welcome, Mycroft. I hope you found the remainder to be worthwhile. Good luck in dealing with your parents.

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Many thanks Citsonga - I found this letter last year, and have shared it with several family members and friends.  I've read it myself at least 6 times.  Must have taken a long time to write it, but I imagine it was quite cathartic.  So far I've received approximately ZERO answers to any of the thoughtful issues you raise in that letter - because there AREN'T ANY.

 

Are you on speaking terms with your parents?

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Oh yeah, things are mostly fine. I had my family out to visit my parents (500 miles away) over Thanksgiving and we talk to them on the phone a few times each month. I called on Thursday to wish them a belated Merry Christmas (we had exchanged Xmas cards in the mail and I had emailed a Xmas greeting on Wednesday, but we were busy with friends and other family and didn't get around to calling until the day after Xmas). We just don't talk about religion, which is a-OK with me.

 

The closest thing to discussing religion that has happened recently was when we were at my parents' house over Thanksgiving weekend. My dad did ask on Sunday morning if I was going to church with them to be sociable. I had to silently laugh about that, considering that my dad is one of the least sociable people you could meet. Not that he's completely anti-social, but there were plenty of times when I was a youth that I got reprimanded for taking no more than two minutes after church to talk to somebody. He was always the first person to dart out the door, and he didn't like waiting a minute or two for us in the car.

 

Needless to say, I didn't go to church. My mother didn't either, but with her asthma, she misses church a fair amount anyway. What surprised me was that my wife actually stayed home with us, but she wasn't feeling the greatest that morning either. Our daughters went to church with my dad and my sister's family (who live right around the corner from my parents), mainly to be with their cousins, who they only see on our semi-annual trips out there. Anyway, nothing more was said about it afterwards, and if that's all the religion that gets dished out to me from here on, then I'll be a happy camper.

 

Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Good luck in your situation. Take care....

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